Thursday, December 07, 2006


For Macroeconomics today, the professor showed us a graph mapping the trade surplus of the Philippines from the 1980’s up to the present. The line representing the trade surplus is depressingly taking a path below zero. It is very stable. Stably negative. The professor dryly remarked that the line would probably never change.

“Forever?” I had to ask.

“Forever,” he said, “unless the government does something about it.”


He gave me a non-committal look and mumbled something incoherent.

After class, my seatmate Reighben pronounced with some heat that the most horrible thing about Charter Change is the amendment giving parity rights to foreigners. For those who do not know, this is equivalent to suicide. While it is true that the capital pouring into the country from foreign investments would provide more jobs and thus more income to our countrymen, we would not own the capital. We would not own the profit. Just look at the depressing state our economy is in today given the scant protectionist measures our government is employing against exports and massive removal of foreign capital. Now imagine these measures totally removed. Suicide. It would be worthwhile to note that the most successful economies in the world (such as the US and Japan) are the most protectionist of them all.

Reighben and I are both baffled by this ridiculous amendment. Gloria is an economist. She knows these basic and obvious facts. And yet…the only reason we can come up with is that Gloria is simply out to please our beloved neo-colonial master, Uncle Sam. It does seem to run in the blood.

I believe that Charter Change is being proposed for all the wrong reasons. First, it is a brilliant maneuver which effectively deflects the public scrutiny regarding Gloria’s legitimacy as president to more useful channels—channels which are, ironically enough, designed to affirm her legitimacy. And last, it is simply a power struggle among the country’s political elite with no concern whatsoever about the public good. Now ‘public good’ is a vague concept at its best, and it would be very difficult to define the phrase objectively, if there is such a way. But let it suffice to say that the fight now is the Senate against Congress and the Congress against the May elections where the public exercises its duty and freedom to vote.

I have taken to the streets only once, but it was required for Political Science 14. It was a rally for human rights and I was not happy to be in it. You see, I do not believe in rallies. I prefer to wait and look for more concrete solutions to our nation’s problems and ‘rallies’ do not come under the heading of ‘concrete solutions’. Shouting myself hoarse does not give me a sense of fulfillment nor accomplishment, and I don’t see activism making significant changes today.

There must be another way.

I rarely read newspapers and I rarely watch the news, and I don’t care about politics. Ironically enough, though, I am a BA Political Science student in the University of the Philippines. What a place to be for a person such as me! And given the political situation today, what perfect timing for an apolitical political science student. It’s a great challenge. I have decided to finish the course.

Why? Let me think about it, and I’ll tell you one time.


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11:57 AM  

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