Tanong ng Bayan: Serye #1

Are we ready to face the consequences of the choices that we make? Ask! Sift the chaff from the grain.
Are we ready to face the consequences of the choices that we make? Ask! Sift the chaff from the grain.

As the potential candidates thump their chests and do their do ang pony show on why they make the best case for transforming the Philippines (TO-BE), I think it would be prudent to get a snapshot of some instances of the existing circumstances (AS-IS) – and start asking questions.

Any of us can select any instance of the AS-IS, in this case, I will use Pulse Asia’s October 2008 Nationwide Survey on Quality of Life (QOL), Comparative State of the National Economy, and American Financial Crisis. The results of the survey are presented below:

While the field interviews for this survey were being done, several developments dominated the news headlines.  The major developments during this period included the financial crisis in the United States that soon spilled over into other parts of the world including the Philippines, the American presidential elections, the filing of a new impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Supreme Court decision on the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), and the controversial trip to Russia of several police officials that involved a “contingency fund” of P6.9M.  Other issues included the deportation from the US of former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante who is widely believed to be the brains behind the fertilizer fund scam, the decline in the price of oil at the world market, the impending increase in the electricity charges of the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), and the food scare in China and other parts of the world over the discovery of melamine, an industrial chemical, in milk and other food products.The survey’s sampling design and questionnaire are the full responsibility of Pulse Asia’s pool of academic experts and no religious, political, economic or any other form of partisanship has been allowed to influence the survey design, the findings generated by the actual surveys or the subsequent analyses of survey findings.

Pulse Asia undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort.

A majority of Filipinos (58%) is worse off now than last year (i.e., “losers”) while an even higher percentage (78%) thinks most Filipinos are “losers” now compared to a year ago

Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, few Filipinos consider themselves to be better off now than last year (i.e., “gainers”) (10% to 18%).  On the other hand, majorities across these sub-groupings – ranging from 52% in the rest of Luzon to 73% in Mindanao – see themselves as “losers”.  As regards those saying there was no change in their personal circumstances over the past year, figures vary from 18% in Mindanao to 34% in the rest of Luzon (See Table 1).

Big to overwhelming majorities (72% to 90%) in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes consider most Filipinos as losers while no more than 8% in these sub-groupings consider them as gainers.  Additionally, the percentages of Filipinos saying there was no improvement or deterioration in the national QOL range from 7% in Mindanao to 25% in the rest of Luzon (See Table 2).

With respect to the next 12 months, pessimism is the predominant public sentiment – both at the personal and national levels (44% and 67%, respectively)

At the personal level, pessimism about the year ahead is most pronounced in Mindanao (61%) but a high level of pessimism (i.e., relative to the national figure) may also be noted in the Visayas (55%).  In contrast, pessimism is least manifest in Metro Manila (28%) where optimism is at its highest (34%).  Those in the Visayas, Mindanao, and the poorest Class E (14% to 17%) are least optimistic about their personal circumstances in the year ahead.  Additionally, the percentages of Filipinos who do not expect any change in their personal situation in the next 12 months are generally consistent with the national figure (28% to 38% versus 33%), except in Mindanao where a lower figure is recorded (24%) (See Table 3).

Pessimism as regards the national QOL is a sentiment expressed by majorities across all geographic areas and socio-economic classes with levels of public pessimism ranging from 55% in Metro Manila to 81% in Mindanao.  Metro Manilans (16%) and those in Class ABC (16%) are most optimistic about the national situation in the next 12 months while optimism is least pronounced in Mindanao (4%).  On the other hand, anywhere from 14% in Mindanao to 28% in Metro Manila do not expect any change in the national QOL between now and next year (See Table 4).

Indications of easing for some: Fewer Filipinos now consider themselves to be losers than in July 2008 (-17 percentage points), levels of personal pessimism decline (-20 percentage points) between July and October 2008, and the most marked movement in national QOL figures is the 12-percentage point drop in level of pessimism

The percentages of Filipinos who are losers drop between July and October 2008 in practically all geographic areas and socio-economic classes (-11 to -28 percentage points), with the exception of Metro Manila and the best-off Class ABC.  More among those in the Visayas, the country’s rural areas, and sub-Class D2, now regard themselves as gainers relative to last quarter (+10 to +13 percentage points).  Meanwhile, at the national level and in the rest of Luzon and the Visayas, the country’s urban and rural areas, and Classes D and E, the sense that one’s personal QOL did not change – positively or negatively – in the past 12 months is more manifest now than in July 2008 (+10 to +18 percentage points) (See Table 5).

In relation to next year, the rise in levels of public optimism (+10 percentage points) and the percentages of Filipinos who are not expecting any movement – positive or negative – in their personal circumstances in the year ahead (+10 percentage points) translate to a drop in levels of public pessimism (-20 percentage points) between July and October 2008.  Pessimism becomes less pronounced across all geographic areas and socio-economic classes (-12 to -25 percentage points) during this period.  Conversely, there are currently more optimists in Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, the country’s urban areas, and Classes ABC and D (+10 to +22 percentage points) relative to last quarter.  In addition, the percentage of Filipinos saying their personal situation will remain the same between now and next year goes up in the urban areas of the Philippines, the rest of Luzon, Class E, and sub-Class D2 (+11 to +17 percentage points) (See Table 6).

There are hardly any movements in retrospective national QOL figures between July and October 2008 – whether one speaks of the Philippine figures or those recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings.  The only changes occur in Class E where the percentages saying most Filipinos are losers decrease (-10 percentage points) as well as in the Visayas where those sharing this sentiment decline (-15 percentage points) and the percentages of those saying there was no change in the national QOL increase (+10 percentage points) (See Table 7).

Levels of public pessimism decline (-10 to -26 percentage points) in almost all geographic areas and socio-economic classes.  In contrast, levels of optimism go up in Metro Manila and Class ABC (+11 to +12 percentage points). In the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, Class ABC, and sub-Class D2, the expectation that there will be no change in the national QOL in the next 12 months is more pronounced at present than in July 2008 (+10 to +15 percentage points) (See Table 8 ).

A big majority of Filipinos (79%) considers the national economy to have deteriorated in the past three years – a sentiment shared by big majorities (72% to 86%) in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes

In contrast, only 6% of Filipinos think that the national economic situation improved since 2005 while 15% say there was no change – positive or negative – in the state of the Philippine economy.  Between July and October 2008, there is a decline in the percentages of Filipinos saying the national economic situation is worse now than in 2005 (-7 percentage points) (See Table 9).

Among the majority saying the state of the national economy has worsened in the past three years, 77% strongly felt, 21% somewhat felt, and only 2% did not feel the impact of this deterioration on their own lives.  Considerable to big majorities (64% to 84%) across geographic areas and socio-economic classes report that they were strongly affected by the deterioration in the state of the national economy between 2005 and 2008.  On the other hand, among the few who believe that the national economy has improved since 2005, almost the same percentages say either that they were strongly or somewhat affected by this improvement (42% versus 29%) while the rest (10%) did not feel the impact of this economic growth on their personal lives (See Table 9).

About half of Filipinos (49%) believes the American financial crisis may have a great impact on the Philippine economy and most of them feel the crisis would have disastrous consequences for most Filipinos in general (78%) as well as for their own families (63%)

The financial crisis in the United States (US) is known to 69% of Filipinos while the rest (31%) do not know about this development.  Majorities across geographic areas and socio-economic classes (55% to 90%) are aware of the financial crisis.  Additionally, among those aware, big majorities (65% to 75%) across geographic areas and socio-economic classes believe the American financial crisis may have a great impact on the Philippine economy.  About half (49%) of Filipinos believe that the crisis may have a large effect on the Philippines. In particular, this subgroup of Filipinos is worried that the crisis in the US would be disastrous for most Filipinos (76% to 83%) and would have adverse repercussions for their own families (53% to 69%) (See Table 10).

****
In a nutshell, the AS-IS of public sentiment is:

  1. A majority of Filipinos (58%) is worse off now than last year (i.e., “losers”) while an even higher percentage (78%) thinks most Filipinos are “losers” now compared to a year ago
  2. With respect to the next 12 months, pessimism is the predominant public sentiment – both at the personal and national levels (44% and 67%, respectively)
  3. Indications of easing for some: Fewer Filipinos now consider themselves to be losers than in July 2008 (-17 percentage points), levels of personal pessimism decline (-20 percentage points) between July and October 2008, and the most marked movement in national QOL figures is the 12-percentage point drop in level of pessimism
  4. A big majority of Filipinos (79%) considers the national economy to have deteriorated in the past three years – a sentiment shared by big majorities (72% to 86%) in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes
  5. About half of Filipinos (49%) believes the American financial crisis may have a great impact on the Philippine economy and most of them feel the crisis would have disastrous consequences for most Filipinos in general (78%) as well as for their own families (63%)


Observations

It is interesting that “Fewer Filipinos now (as of October 2008) consider themselves to be losers than in July 2008″ and yet  “A majority of Filipinos (58%) is worse off now than last year (i.e., “losers”) while an even higher percentage (78%) thinks most Filipinos are “losers” now compared to a year ago”. This implies that the number of Filipinos who are worse off now (58%) could have been higher were it not for the fewer filipinos who considered themselves to be “losers” in October 2008.

Questions for Potential Presidentiables

1 – A big majority of Filipinos (79%) considers the national economy to have deteriorated in the past three years

  • Do you agree or disagree that the national economy has deteriorated? State your reasons for agreeing/disagreeing.
  • Do you see a direct relationship between corruption and the national economy?
    • How did you eliminate corruption in your sphere of responsibility?
    • What are the specific measures/policies you have personally crafted/implement that eliminate corruption? Was it successful? Show your numbers.
    • What could you have done better to help reverse the deterioration in the national economy?
    • If your spouse were found to be engaging in corrupt practices, will you let the law take its course or will you do everything you can to have your spouse spared?
  • How can the economy be improved?
    • What are the sectors you will focus on?
    • Are you in favor of allowing foreigners to own real estate in the Philippines? State your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing
    • Will you support constitutional amendments to allow foreigners to own real estate in the Philippines?
    • How will you make the economy more competitive with Brazil, Russia, India, and China? Should we be competitive with these countries even?
    • Do you support the deployment of filipinos overseas as a primary strategy for job creation? What are your alternatives?

2About half of Filipinos (49%) believes the American financial crisis may have a great impact on the Philippine economy and most of them feel the crisis would have disastrous consequences for most Filipinos in general (78%) as well as for their own families (63%).
(Note: MANILA, May 28,2009 (Reuters) – The Philippines may witness an economic recession this year if a downtrend in leading indicators continued, a senior government official said.’If this trend continues we may slip into recession,’ Romulo Virola, secretary-general of the National Statistical Coordination Board, told reporters after announcing growth figures for the first quarter.)

How will you reshape Philippine economic, foreign, and monetary policy so that it will be less affected by periodic boom and busts in the OECD economies?

Complementary Data Sources

A more detailed review of the development challenges faced by the Philippines are provided in the Asian Development Bank’s 2009 Asian Economic Outlook – Philippines.

In common with other countries in Southeast Asia, two near-term challenges stand out:

  • safeguarding the achievements of recent years (including stronger growth momentum and progress in fiscal management),
  • and protecting society’s most vulnerable groups during the slowdown.

Even before the downturn, the incidence of poverty was rising, to 32.9% of the population in 2006 (the latest data available) from 30.0% in 2003, and progress on certain health and education indicators of the Millennium Development Goals was tardy. Social programs to protect the poor sometimes lack funds and often require better targeting.

Still-high debt and the large share of interest payments in the budget expose the economy to swings in financial markets. They also underscore the importance for the Government of containing the debt risk premium through making steady progress on reforms. Further increases in revenue as a share of GDP and reductions in debt would not only reduce vulnerabilities but also build the fiscal resources needed for infrastructure and social programs. Tax revenue as a share of GDP has plateaued at the relatively low level of 14.0% in the past 2 years, after some improvement in 2006 (Figure 3.28.12).

Perennial causes of poverty include:

  1. a high population growth rate and,
  2. lack of job opportunities in the country. Deployment of large numbers of workers overseas masks the extent of domestic unemployment.

Greater employment generation requires increased investment, but this is unlikely without improvements in the business climate.

The 2008-2009 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum ranks the Philippines 71 out of 134 countries and identifies:

  1. inefficient government bureaucracy;
  2. inadequate infrastructure;
  3. policy instability; and,
  4. corruption

as important constraints.

Perennial Causes and Constraints

Flawed Solutions to Perennial Challenges
Traditional Approaches

By identifying quantitative measures or metrics that can prove or disprove the statements made by potential candidates, voters can hold candidates accountable, and can evaluate whether a possible candidate is talking hot air. Of course, potential candidates will try to wiggle out of being held accountable as they seek to maximize their acceptability to their base while trying to reach into other support bases.

That the causes of poverty and constraints to competitiveness remains perennial implies that the solutions currently being adopted by the Philippines have not addressed the core issues. Instead attention is focused on the trivial, the shallow, the myopic. Criteria is based on winnability, machinery, largesse instead of merit.A methodology that has proven to keep on coming up with new faces with the same tired unproductive wasteful irrelevant solutions.

Traditional Results
Traditional Results

We can continue to focus on the parochial and get indulged in the euphoria of being “in” and having the latest scoop on who’s-going-to-team-with-who and get Traditional results from Traditional attitudes

OR

wileydoesit

we can choose to do something that we as a nation haven’t done before:

– take the long view and start looking at the things that matter in governance and national development in order to come up with rational and cost-effective solutions; and,

generate results that matter.


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