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512-517-2708

Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

What's happening in the Philippines?

Catching up
·         Written by  Ken Fuller 
·         Tuesday, 24 January 2017 00:00
·         Daily Tribune
As some readers may have noticed, this column reappeared a fortnight ago after an absence of almost two years. That time was used in the completion of two books, one of which has found a publisher.
During that period, however, there were major events in this country — not least the election of a new president — which would normally have attracted the attention of this column.
It’s time, then, to do a little catching up.
As expected, in his state of the nation speech last July 25, President Duterte spent considerable time on his war on drugs, and in doing so sent mixed messages regarding his stance on human rights. 
At one point, he gave an undertaking that his administration would “be sensitive to the State’s obligations to promote and protect, fulfill the human rights of our citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable…”
As several commentators pointed out, however, most of the numerous casualties in the war against drugs are poor and marginalized. 
How could it be otherwise? The poor turn to drugs — and shabu in particular — because they are poor and marginalized. Their reality is a desperate one from which shabu gives momentary, if illusory, escape.
True, drug addiction quickly leads to other social ills, such as the crimes (including the graduation to pusher) required to fund the habit. But it surely cannot be denied that drug use is a symptom. 
The basic disease is the grinding poverty born of the Philippines’ decades-old failure to develop, and it is this which needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency.
President Duterte is not the first Filipino to express what might be called a nuanced view of human rights. Some three decades ago, the late nationalist historian Renato Constantino wrote:
“Violations of civil liberties and physical violence against citizens by agents of the state should be condemned but they should not constitute the principal focus of protest while the larger question of the people’s right to self-determination has not been resolved. For when a big power controls a small nation economically and imposes its political and military influence to the point where the latter loses its right to determine its own goals and ensure the welfare of its people, human rights are violated on a mass scale.”
In his book The Nationalist Alternative, Constantino argued that the power of foreign capital, principally that of the USA, must be confronted if the Philippines was ever to develop. He vehemently opposed the “development” model imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank whereby the Philippines is host to foreign corporations which, situated in “economic zones” where they pay low wages and few taxes, carry out just one or two simple operations (often merely the assembly of parts imported from elsewhere) involved in the manufacture of their products. Such activities have few if any linkages to the real Philippine economy apart from the labor force they exploit. 
Decades ago, this model, then termed “industrialization by invitation,” was applied to Puerto Rico. Today, Puerto Rico is bankrupt.
The “nationalist alternative” would involve the state taking a leading and directing role in the economy, using both public and private domestic capital to develop new industries geared to satisfying the needs of the Filipino people rather than the balance sheets of foreign corporations.
In his Sona, Duterte promised that his administration would “implement a human approach to development and governance, as we improve our people’s welfare in the areas of health, education, adequate food and housing, environmental preservation, and respect for culture.” 
Excellent. But to achieve this will require the kind of revenue that only a developed — or, at least, genuinely developing — country is capable of generating. 
There were references to industrialization. The president’s objections to the undertaking given at the Paris conference the previous December were clarified with the statement that although addressing global warming would be a top priority, this must not be at the expense of industrialization. Later on, he said that new power plants would need to be developed for industrialization, and that even coal-fired plants would be considered.
Taken on their own, these comments might have led one to believe that this was to be nationalist industrialization. But no, because “my administration will continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies…” 
Indeed, a few hours before President Duterte commenced his speech, a representative of Standard and Poor’s rating agency, interviewed on ANC, purred with satisfaction when commenting on the appointments to key economic posts.
Thus, “industrialization” will be undertaken by foreign capital. “We shall continue to attract investments that will generate thousands of jobs each year — jobs that are suitable for the poor and less skilled members of the workforce.” In line with this, restrictions on the economy will be eased “to make more investments to come and to develop labor-intensive industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and tourism…”
So, instead of nationalist industrialization, it would be more of the same, although the president did not go quite as far as to repeat a previous suggestion that a whole island be leased to foreign capital.
What the Philippines needs, surely, is a sense of national identity and purpose, something to be achieved only by embarking upon the path of genuine development and mobilizing the people behind that cause. In this way, a broad span of human rights — the rights to adequate employment, income, education, health and housing — might be most effectively addressed. And if desperation and hopelessness disappeared, so would the shabu problem.
 
 
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Ken Fuller’s latest book, The Lost Vision: The Philippine Left, 1986-2010 (University of the Philippines Press, 2015) was a finalist for a 2016 National Book Award (Manila Critics’ Circle).