The Brewing Trouble between Iran and Iraq
Will Definitely Crunch the Philippine Economy
By Apolinario Villalobos
A statistician’s mind is not needed to understand the negative effect of the trouble between Iran and Iraq to the Philippine economy which is founded on her export of labor to other countries, especially, the Middle East. Even a simple pedestrian will not think deeply what the OFW Filipinos will do in beleaguered Iran and Iraq now that they are at war with each other. Rather than be trapped, they will of course come home – back to joblessness. Worse, the government has not even decided on putting a stop, albeit, temporarily to deployment of OFWs to those countries. As usual, the government waits until the situation becomes uncontrollable and millions will be spent again for the hasty evacuations, and for failures, expect finger-pointing….again.
The government is inutile such that it has not come up with fallback programs for situations like this. What OWWA offers as its livelihood program in the form of loan is not reliable. A success story from this venture is yet to be heard or read or viewed.
The agriculture sector which should have been given attention very long time ago yet, is practically gasping for breath. Literally, it is dying, as the once rice and corn fields are converted now into golf courses and subdivisions. Had these lands been preserved, they could have been used as fallbacks for displaced OFWs. In the first place, the reason why they left the country is to seek a greener pasture, as they say, because they are exploited by loan sharks that control the price of their farm products. This fact is known even by a high school student. Why can’t the appropriate government agency or agencies do something about this problem?
Self-reliance in agriculture has never been in the priority list of the government. A very clear manifestation of this negligence is the unabated importation of agricultural products from other countries. And, the situation is aggravated by smuggling that further chokes the local farmers. There is no effort in improving the agricultural products such as vegetables and rice to make them competitive with those from other countries. Ironically, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) the cradle of knowledge for high-tech rice production is located in the Philippines, particularly, Los Baἧos, Laguna, where rice technicians of other countries learn the rudiments of high-tech rice farming. Yet, the Philippines imports rice from the countries of these foreign scientists!
Trading as a gainful venture in the country is left in the hands of foreign businessmen whose stalls cram the mushrooming malls. What is left to the Filipinos are the “bilao and bangketa” business, in which merchandise are patiently arranged in piles in the round bamboo winnower and sidewalk, or the “sari-sari store”, a hole-on-the-wall “grocery”. And, this is what the OWWA expects the displaced OFWs would do with their pittance capital that it loans to them.
It is a shame that despite the availability of funds that were exposed to have been just pocketed by the corrupt in the government, the Filipinos are left with nothing, especially, for the so-called new heroes of Philippine economy, the OFWs.
Expect again the Philippine government to promise labor contracts sought from other “safe” countries…but for how long will this exportation of labor go on? Why can’t the government do something about the home-based industries and revive agriculture which was the country’s primary revenue earner? Is corruption blocking the way?….your answer is good as mine!