Globalization…dead-end for the
By Apolinario Villalobos
The country had its first taste of “globalization” with the Open-Skies Policy that opened the so-called gates of the country’s aviation industry to the rest of players from all over the world. When before, negotiations were almost next to impossible due to red tapes, the policy changed all those in favor of the players to be able to enter the Philippine skies with a breeze. Small domestic airlines mushroomed with one emerging to be the stiffest rival of Philippine Airlines, touted to be the country’s flag carrier. Domestic and international fares plunged due to cutthroat competition.
The government was hopeful that tourist arrival would triple or even quadruple, yet, for the several years after the aviation industry was globalized, the country did not beat Thailand and Indonesia, even surprisingly, Malaysia in terms of inbound tourism. Room occupancy of hotels did not improve much as expected.
Government properties were privatized even Fort Bonifacio viewed by some government officials as a liability, for conversion into a modern business center in line with globalization, with the proceeds supposedly to be used in the modernization of the Armed Forces. But, according to observers, whatever procurements being made now for the said purpose are done with the use of borrowed funds. There was an attempt to auction off to investors from Malaysia, the Manila Hotel, one of the important historical landmarks of the country, but fortunately, checked just in time. There was a rush for other auctions – National Steel to Chinese and Malaysians, Petron to the Saudis, Subic to the Taiwanese. Globalization, indeed!
Condominiums mushroomed but due to their prohibitive prices, only foreign traders are able to buy units. It seems that these structures were built in expectation of the influx of medium scale foreign business investors from Hongkong, South Korea and China. Malls are practically full of them manning their stores with the help of Filipino sales clerks. Even conglomerates that develop these socialized facilities are never without foreign incorporators.
The country has been tied to the provisions of the globalized commerce. All doors of the country have been opened wide. The vulnerability of the country has been exposed and this is what China, the most interested country saw – the weaknesses of the country hinged on the squabbles that caused the turmoil after the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship. Those who took over proved to be far from being satisfactory in regaining even just a bit of respectability for the country. The government continually reeked with corruption. Even the image of the so-called People Power that inspired other countries, is slowly melting!
Observers jokingly say that while during the time of Marcos, only one was corrupt, today, practically government people can always find an excuse to filch money not only from the government coffers but directly from their countrymen and foreign investors. Opportunity for corruption has proliferated. Even janitors and messengers in some government agencies are found to own expensive cars and houses in exclusive subdivisions!
A sane Filipino will never understand how the government could insist that globalization has brought progress to the country because of the influx of investors. Common sense dictates that these foreign investors came for selfish motive – to“earn” revenue out of their short-term investments such as assembly factories and call centers that can be uprooted and transferred to safer countries anytime where labor is cheap in case of problems. And, their profits are deposited, where else, but in banks in their home countries. The poor Filipino employees are on contract – five months, very few lucky to be on renewable basis, hence, paid pittance wages, not even enough for a family of three or four. In other words, the globalization did nothing to check the ever ascending unemployment rate because, what the country experiences today is a short-term and seasonal employment trend. Simply said, what we have now is an “on and off” phenomenon of survival due to short term and seasonal employment. Simply translated, it is like saying, “we eat now, tomorrow we don’t…. we eat now, tomorrow we don’t…..”
What the country also needs to develop are the countryside – vast agricultural lands and its other natural resources. It is ironic that rice technicians from other Asian countries come to the Philippines to learn the rudiments of modern techniques in rice propagation at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Laguna, after which they go back to their countries to put into practice what they have learned. At the end, their countries export rice to the Philippines!
Several times, the President mumbled praises on the Filipino labor force with global reliability. At home they are paid minimum wage, some even underpaid, and worst, on contract basis. In other countries, they are paid comparably high wages. But shall we stop there? What will happen if there will be a global slump in production due to inevitable reasons? These “modern heroes” will come home to become idle as there is no solid foundation for Philippine-based opportunities.
Globalization calls for efficiency as a very important tool to be competitive. Simply put, weaker and inefficient countries are at the mercy of stronger and efficient ones that became such due to their advanced high technological capabilities. We need not go far for this because by tradition, we have the so-called third world countries, a classification to which the Philippines belong. How can we then expect, to march towards progress if this is the case?