A reflection (1) | Inquirer Opinion
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A reflection (1)

/ 05:04 AM December 17, 2020

Christmas is coming, so time to relax with a little light reading.

With spare time in COVID-19 seclusion, my research manager, Mike Saulo, and I thought we’d go back and look at what I’d said in the past year or so. A kind of encapsulation of recent Philippine history.


But let me start with where the future lies. Way back in 2013, I argued for the President to recognize that IT is our future. It took three long years to convince him. What my column said then was:

“I’d like to argue for an issue in the hope of convincing the President to create a Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT). IT is the future of the world. Countries that embrace this sector today will be the world’s leaders tomorrow.” (“Leadership and a DICT,” 3/13/13)


That reality is coming up in spades now. COVID-19 has accelerated this shift into the virtual world. I emphasized the importance of this numerous times after that. What was expected to take many years to achieve has happened in months. We are now living in a virtual world. The new normal.

COVID-19 has emphasized and accelerated the need and importance of a Department of ICT. So I’m glad the Duterte administration recognized this and has built a strong DICT to take us into the future. Its importance can’t be understated. With it must be the Department of Education. As I explained in my column last week, “We are moving from a physical world to a virtual one. The jobs of the future will require brain power the physical world could manage without.”

Now, some history.

Education. “Confronting the challenges facing IT-BPM involves support from the educational system in developing curricula oriented toward up-scaling IT skills and focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses—not only boosting enrollment in these high-tech courses, but also changing them rapidly as the technology changes.” (“Still one of Asia’s fastest (2),” 1/23/20)

“Whether in the classroom or at home, the shift now must be toward computerized learning: every child with a tablet, and all learning will be on-screen.” (“Learning alone,” 4/30/20)

“Not only do we have to get our scientists back, we also have to get far more Filipinos into college to start a career in science and engineering. But it all needs to be adequately funded by the government.” (“Bring Filipino scientists home,” 10/18/18)

Health. “Spending on health is the government’s investment in the country’s economic future. A sick or sickly Filipino puts emotional and financial pressure on their families and government finances. This a losing situation for everybody. Let’s keep Filipinos healthy.” (“Getting UHC to work,” 2/6/20)


“Let’s modernize our public hospitals with the help of the private sector. There should be an aggressive implementation of PPP in the health sector.” (“Health through PPP,” 12/3/20)

“I accept that we start with medicinal use and gaining experience on how to control it before widening it to recreational use, too. The world is moving that way, and we should follow. If it’s true that there are risks of misuse in legalizing cannabis, then there are risks of doing everything in life. Life is a risk. If humankind had taken no risks, we’d still be using clubs and spears.” (“It’s not only a weed,” 11/2/17)

“Let’s get smokers to vape, not ban it; and kids not to start. Let’s save lives.” (“Save lives,” 12/19/19)

Agriculture “This is at the heart of agriculture’s failure, an inability to use land in the most efficient manner. I venture to suggest that farmers may want to own land, but, more importantly, they want to feed their children. Land ownership can come later.” (“Let’s grow it,” 5/7/20)

“Most of our crops are in a sorry state. Except for bananas and mangoes, everything else is grown less productively here than elsewhere. That provides a lot of room for improvement. If we can attain the levels others have, we’ll feed the people better, and provide opportunity for earning much-needed dollars.” (“Let’s feed them,” 9/17/20)

“I’ll come back to my old hobby horse, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Its all-or-nothing approach was just plain wrong. Some agricultural crops have to be grown on large plantations… If these were done, the Philippines may even become a net exporter of agricultural products, eventually expanding the country’s export base.” (“Is this a turning point?” 8/8/19)

More next week.


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