The Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines By: Walden Bello
(Book Review: Chapters 6 & 7)
In a world where competition gets tougher and tighter, it does not pay to play around and settle with typical and average situations. It is not valuable that we settle for anything less. Hence, it is necessary that we improve on what we got and acquire some assets that we do not possess. However, looking on the Philippine context, statistics prove that we lag behind some countries; more disappointingly, behind some countries which were once at the bottom before. How did this happen? History may give the answers but what matters is how the government approached the dilemmas the country was facing few years back.
Chapter Six of the book, “The Anti-Development State: The Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines” by Walden Bello talks about “unsustainable development.” Sustainable development; what could this mean? As defined in the book, “sustainable development” is the development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The chapter then discussed about environmental concerns in relevance with the economic policies. Economic activities cannot be separated from the environment since we get resources from the environment in order to produce goods or services that we use up for economic purposes and to supply the necessities of people. Walden Bello takes up the mining and logging industry when both were at their peak. On mining industry, the government was almost over-the-top generous on offering various incentives to multinational corporations for them to extract the country’s vast mineral resources. However, the side-effect of this, on the other hand, was that the indigenous people living within the area of the mine sites involved were eventually out of the government’s concern, consideration, and protection. The situation sets the fact that the indigenous people’s community and welfare were unmercifully ignored. The government focused on improving and strengthening the mining sector for future capital inflow that the benefit and well-being of the indigenous people were disregarded. Would the inflow of money really be used for public necessities? Or would it be kept in the pockets of some few privileged elites?
Going now to the logging industry, there was a time when this sector boomed and the Philippines had become the fifth-largest exporter of timber in the world market. Of course, the government was obviously overwhelmed when some logger-turned-politicians gained control over the logging industry and granted special considerations, and exemptions to “legitimized illegal logging” (as referred to by former DENR Sec. Victor Ramos). Soon after, more and more trees were cut and abused. Although the Department of National Resources (DENR) tried to secure and protect the trees, their power was not enough. Illegal loggers became aggressive to the point where they would kill DENR rangers that would stop them. Loggers got off delirious because the government tolerated the act of cutting trees that had become widely “legitimately illegal.”
As said in the chapter, “environmental equilibrium and economic strategy were simply in contradiction.” Sustainable development needs balance. Implementing economic policies for economic interests is a necessity; but having them to tolerate environmental degradation could get things worse. That instead of sustaining development, abuse of natural resources may mean halting of progress. Speaking of progress, there are several causes that brings a country to the bottom; or worse, to a downfall; although there is this one popular factor affecting and/or hindering development which is the trendy corruption. Whether be it a petty one, or ratchet corruption, still they contribute to the economic stagnation of the country. But can we really blame our slow growth with this factor?...
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