A nation under siege

ariel-nepmucenoTHE country mourns the brutal killing of the 44 brave commandos of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police. Their death represents the extreme cost for a lasting peace in Mindanao. And this incident has further worsened the many challenges that confront a nation that has been long under siege with countless economic, social and political problems.

We are still engaged in a protracted war on poverty. At least 15 million Filipinos are believed to be experiencing extreme material deprivation. And the immediate future for them is uncertain. Around 6 million have no permanent and decent homes and are scattered in major metropolis particularly in the highly dense Metro Manila. Criminality is high especially those that are related to illegal drugs. Traffic is turning worse. Infrastructure is improving but is still below what is necessary. The investment and business climate is good but the situation in our neighbors is better.

Political solution to an economic problem

THE political landscape must inspire competence and integrity amongst those in the bureaucracy and the private sector. We have witnessed the positive economic impact of the perception that the current administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III is serious in ending or significantly curving corruption. Trust in our leaders and institutions has assisted in improving business and investments. The continuous and relentless inquiries on possible abuses or anomalies have pushed our bureaucrats on their toes. Not everyone will agree or support the manner these inquiries in Congress are being handled. But the net effect is concrete on the ground of public service.

Couple these with the no non-sense advocacies and efforts of Commissioner Kim Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenues who is seen to relentlessly collect what is due to the government. Plus the timely revelations of the Commission on Audit’s Grace Pulido-Tan on the documented lapses in spending government funds. Equally waging their own difficult battles are Secretary Leila de Lima of the Justice Department and Conchita Carpio-Morales of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Many in the private sector begrudge the demeanor and decisions of these iron ladies, but we have to acknowledge their direct and indirect contribution in building a more accountable and responsive culture in governance and private business.

The average six percent economic growth and the increase in Foreign Direct Investments are clear indicators of the economic dividend from a political investment primarily delivered by Malacañang’s choice of feisty officials.

Economic solution to a political problem

MUCH of our political and social problems are rooted in poverty and the lack of economic opportunities. Our economic and business leaders must urgently exhaust all remedies to ending our long years of economic hardships.

We must focus and further strengthen our assets—agriculture, tourism, and foreign employment. We have to squarely accept the reality that we have already been left behind in terms of heavy industrialization. But we still have all the chance to be ahead of the competition in the said fields.

Our agricultural sector is bestowed with huge and rich farmlands. We must manage these well. Our country has the natural jewels to regularly attract millions of tourists. We just have to focus on encouraging investments and infrastructures to provide the necessary facilities that will serve our international guests. We can organize, for example, a tourism Police Force within our National Police. They must specialize in protecting and servicing the needs of the tourists in the places where they frequently visit. And lastly, we must further support our overseas foreign workers who remit at least $25 billion annually. We must ensure that their hard earned money is efficiently and safely sent to their love ones. We are obliged to consistently check if they are properly taken cared of in the countries that they stay.

Tears of sacrifice

THE extreme sacrifice of the SAF commandos must not be in vain. The heartbreaking tears of the families that they left behind must not fall on empty grounds. Our entire country is besieged with many problems that plagued us for so many years. We must now stay the course towards slowly addressing our problems. We owe it to them. We owe it to ourselves.



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