As I explained in this column Monday, the EDSA Revolution was hardly a rocket booster for our economic growth. Using one important economic indicator, gross domestic product per capita, which roughly represents a nation’s prosperity, ours in 1972 was larger than China, Thailand or Indonesia. By 2011, these countries had overtaken us by this economic indicator.
One obvious answer is that the 1987 Constitution, which People Power President Corazon Aquino ordered rushed to replace that Marcos created in 1973, had two provisions which have been dead-weights to our country’’ growth. The first continued a crucial economic policy since our independence, purportedly to protect our national bourgeoisie, who however were actually monopolists: Restrictions on foreign ownership on certain industries and on land. Certain revisions such as a 25-year lease, renewable for another 25, full foreign ownership of condominium units, and liberal interpretation of common and preferred shares just have not made our country attractive to foreign investments. The spectacular growth of Malaysia and Thailand in the 1980s, and Indonesia’s surge in the 1990s have proven without any doubt the crucial role of foreign capital in a developing country’s growth.
Even nearly xenophobic China with its decades of “anti-imperialist” slogans has been the one of the biggest recipients of foreign capital in recent years, which partly explains its spectacular growth rates. The chart above clearly shows how our foreign investments into our neighbors have surged since 1987, while our level of foreign capital inflow have hardly changed. In 2012, Cambodia and Myanmar in fact have had more foreign capital inflows than ours.
The second provision in the Cory constitution restored the pre-martial law political system, which has been and will be the biggest baggage for our country: the presidential system, which Aquino and her allies most probably opted for as a reaction to Marcos’ move towards a parliamentary system (remember the Batasang Pambansa?).
We are one of the few countries, which maintain a system in which the people directly choose the President, who is both head of state and government. Our system hasn’t been “debugged” in the way that of the US has been, with such refinements and checks as the system of electoral colleges, primaries a strong party system, and one-on-debates among presidential contenders. (more…)