Having been living in the Philippines for the last couple of years some may be interested in my reflections in living in a third world country.
The majority of the population in the country struggles to survive, with little hope of escaping living in their poverty trap. Most Filipinos main goal in life other than daily survival is how to escape their own country – living anywhere in the world is perceived better than in the Philippines under the corruption and incompetency of the current and previous administrations. Even as Filipinos flee their country as economic refugees, the Philippine’s Government propaganda has exploited the situation by encouraging workers to work abroad to enable the country’s crumbling economy to remain afloat. The revenue from the OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers) sent back as remittances to support their families living in poverty back home has become the main source of overseas exchange for the country. The Government propaganda proclaims these OFWs as national heroes, yet refuses to accept responsibility that it is a direct result of their economic mismanagement that the economy has failed to generate jobs for their own citizens. Never mind the broken homes and personal sacrifices made by OFWs to enable their families in the Philippine’s economy to survive; the Government has turned this human trafficking to its economic advantage, relying on the overseas remittances to provide the revenue to prop up a disintegrating society.
Since the recent global economic crisis the government has borrowed heavily from overseas to prop up a crumbling domestic economy, with little thought how this debt is to be repaid in the future. Sadly much of this borrowed money has ended up further enriching the ruling elite rather than be invested in expanding the productive sector of the country. To maintain political stability and to pay for imported food and to keep the economy afloat, the government is now begging and borrowing from Japan and elsewhere ever increasing amounts while revenue to service this debt declines. Continued government borrowings to prop the crumbling economy is seeing debt levels spiral out of control, with the Government spending a third more than it receives in revenue. The cost of servicing this debt is rapidly becoming unsustainable, and if international interest rates increase as expected next year, paying the interest on the national debt could well push the country into bankruptcy. With this the Philippines is not unique – many other countries have adopted similar policies following the recent global economic crisis – borrowing to support government services as taxation revenue falls.
Philippine’s President Arroyo’s frequent and expensive trips abroad in an attempt to encourage overseas investment into the Philippines has achieved little tangible results, other than deals done to personally benefit those in power. Some overseas interests have been able to gain long-term leases to exploit agriculture land to produce crops for export back to their home countries – land that should have been used to develop local agriculture to help feed the Filipino people. The Philippines is now the largest importer of rice in the world – it was once the rice bowl of Asia.
Many overseas companies have become reluctant to invest in the Philippines with its dysfunctional and corrupt government, poor infrastructure, high crime rate and uncompetitive labour compliance costs. Most international businesses are no longer interested in investing in the Philippines because of the low returns, high risk and restrictive foreign ownership rules. Philippines attract less overseas investment than almost any other country in Asia. The country should be one of the richest in Asia with an abundance of natural resources and talented people if the economy was managed effectively. A high level of distrust and dishonesty means business is burdened with excessive overhead and compliance costs, even though real incomes received wage earners is low. Government bureaucracy has stifled initiative and failed to provide worthwhile incentives to establish new business ventures in the country. The Philippines has become a lawless land, where the economy and society is breaking down at all levels. Crime has become out of control.
What can the Philippines do to save itself from self-destruction?
The recently published book titled “Blighted” by former Philippine’s Solicitor-General Frank Chavez portrays the Philippines as a nation in the depths of moral decay, corruption, lack of leadership and greed that exists today. (Reviewed on http://blindpass.blogspot.com/2009/11/public-service-blighted-reviewed-by.html). To many Filipinos the nation has sunk to a condition of hopelessness and despair for the majority struggling to survive in a failed dysfunctional society where the ruling elite argue amongst themselves on who can gain control of the country in the upcoming election to further enrich themselves. The book highlights some of the corruption scandals that have been exposed in recent years in the Philippines without prosecutions ever being made.
Frank Chavez quotes God’s promise to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”. It is only by the return to God and His Laws that is the only hope for the Philippines; otherwise the country will slide into total collapse and be taken over by a foreign power.
The Philippines prides itself in being the only Christian country in Asia. The reality is that is Christian in name only, maintaining a façade while continuing to follow many pagan rituals that have been adopted as Christianity, rather than practicing the teachings of Jesus. There are hundreds of different religions found in the country, though the majority are Catholic.