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Oct 02nd
Home Sections Revotelution ADB and Alunan Are Wrong: The Overseas Filipinos Can Lead RP to the 21st Century and Beyond
ADB and Alunan Are Wrong: The Overseas Filipinos Can Lead RP to the 21st Century and Beyond PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Tuesday, 12 May 2009 10:27

B oth the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Columnist Rafael M. Alunan III are wrong when they concluded that “the Philippines is around two-centuries behind.” Actually the Philippines can easily be brought to the state-of-the-art 21st-century “living standards of industrialized countries” and technology with the participation of, and the investments by, the nine-million-strong (and counting) Overseas Filipinos.


The Overseas Filipinos (OFs) and the Overseas-Filipino workers (OFWs) have not only kept the Filipino homeland afloat economically by their foreign-currency remittances and shipments of millions of BalikBayan boxes but also offer the best hope for the country’s redemption as the erstwhile “Pearl of the Orient.”


In short, the OFs and OFWs, who actually compose the country’s middle class, have made and continue to make Filipinos look good, feel good and proud of their multiethnic heritage. They have also made positive contributions to the international economy and specialized fields like medicine, the merchant marine and now in education, religious ministry and even in computer science.


In fact, this writer has proposed that the Philippines tap the OFs and the OFWs for the long-proposed national-broadband project, which has been tainted by corruption. The proposal will not only make the Philippines one of the few “wireless” countries but also computerize all its educational facilities, government-and-private offices and even the corner (sari-sari) stores. Here are so far the three articles written about this proposal:


The OF-led “ReVOTElution” Will Also Launch a “Wireless Revolution”



OFWs Offer an Alternative to NBN-ZTEgate Project



The Broadband-ZTEgate Scandal Shows Not-so-Broad Mind of Filipino Leaders



C ertainly the “Wireless Revolution” proposal will become an issue in the coming presidential debates during the 2010 elections’ campaign period. The new President choosen in May 2010 cannot afford to ignore this proposal that can turn the Philippines to an exporter -- instead of a buyer -- of broadband technology.


Here are excerpts from the latest column of Mr. Alunan, as published in the BusinessWorld Online:


To Take A Stand
By Rafael M. Alunan

Philippines: Around 2 centuries behind 


S omething in the news caught my eye late last week. Several sources cited an ADB study entitled "A Cross-Country Analysis of Achievements and Inequities in Economic Growth and Standards of Living" that framed what I had long sought to find out, i.e., how far behind is the Philippines vis--a-vis its neighbors and the world?


The ADB disclosed last Thursday, May 7, the study authored by economist Hyun Son of ITSS Economics and Research Department based on data from 177 countries covering the period 2000 to 2007. While the precise calculation of the study’s findings may still need further expert vetting, it’s a matter of getting its drift.


To the point, it would take the Philippines between 132 years and 241 years — depending on the indicator being measured — to catch up with the living standards of industrialized countries at its current pace of economic growth. The disparity in per capita income was far greater than in the other indicators of living standards. Even if the calculations were off by 10 or even 20%, the gaps remain dismayingly wide.


Six indicators were factored: per capita GDP at 2005 purchasing power parity terms; life expectancy at birth; adult literacy rate; primary enrollment rate; under-5 survival rate; and births attended by skilled health personnel.


The ADB said these indicators were selected to reflect the people’s material well-being, health, and education. They are also a mix of inputs and results that satisfy certain criteria, such as availability of data and statistical correlation with other development indicators.


The Bank said that while economic growth is essential, it is not enough to improve a society’s total well-being. Factors other than income also impact on a country’s standard of living. Increases in public spending, for example, must be matched by investments in good planning, service delivery, and management of public services.


Evidence suggests that the poorest one-fifth of the ASEAN countries examined by the study receive less than one-fifth of state education and health expenditures, while the richest fifth get more. This is because spending is often biased toward services for the moneyed class.


The harsh reality today is that the Philippines is no better off than Bangladesh. It is only beaten by Pakistan, and Nepal, which is seen as unable to catch up with the rest of the world. Versus its ASEAN neighbors, Indonesia is slightly ahead of the Philippines, while Thailand and Vietnam are at rough parity with the World’s average condition, which is slightly more than half a century behind the Industrialized Countries.


F rom being touted as the second most powerful economy in Asia after Japan up to the early 1960s, the Philippines careened down the slippery slope of irresponsibility to where it is today, some 50 years later, around second from the bottom.


I don’t fault the government alone for this, although it must be held accountable for its outrageous contributions to the failure. The fault is collectively ours. From patriotism to self-discipline to self-sufficiency to self-reliance, the Philippines is a national disaster that, from the looks of it, remains headed toward a black hole.


The nation’s disunity and disarray across-the-board is evidently society’s rolling failure spanning generations, largely due to deficits in leadership and followership; governance and civics; ethics and lawfulness; performance and achievement. Deficits in what former Senator Jovito Salonga describes as the "intangibles that make a nation great."


Come now the 2010 national elections and a parade of presidential candidates. Unless a miracle happens, that will be another futile exercise and nail in the country’s coffin. The bidding failure for the polls’ automation and the desperation for leaders with the "right stuff" are warning signs that the slide to Hell is unstoppable.


This study depicts clearly where we Filipinos are situated in the firmament. What could be more distressful than the thought of being left behind? What should we do about it? For sure, more stupidity and smug indifference by those who have the power to make a difference can no longer be afforded.


Commitment to study and hard work, patient dedication to duties and obligations, passion for achievement and love of country will win the day for the Philippines, like the Mt. Everest Team and Manny Pacquiao. If society transforms itself to be like them, it will just be a matter of time before the country, too, reaches the top of the world. # # #


Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 May 2009 10:37

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