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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

The curse of dictatorship

05:05 AM January 29, 2021

When a country falls into dictatorship, it is more prone to poverty. Call it ill luck, karma, or whatever, the curse is there, irreversible and unappeasable unless people wake up from the moral stupor of consenting to one-man rule.

Take the case of an oil-rich country, formerly one of the richest in the world and now one of the most impoverished. The blame is laid upon its toleration of political dynasties, no-term-limit presidency, dissolution of opposition parties, disenfranchising of media, and the most dictatorial action of all—overturning of free election results.

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Who in his right mind would place money on a country where signs of an impending dictatorship are waving like red flags? Having to put up with a leader’s moods, lies, moments of pique, and other childish irrationalities is an extra risk an investor would not likely take up.

It is therefore the height of irresponsibility on the part of a leader to indulge in ego-driven speeches and actions that betray a despotic disposition, as if he only had his die-hard supporters, sycophants, and flatterers for an audience, when in fact the international business community and the whole world are listening.

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Especially if a return to martial law or a bill that bears a resemblance to it is floated, the consequent disincentive could be fatal to an economy already on the brink of collapse. Granted a terror bill is well-intentioned; the question is, will it be perceived favorably in the market? Isn’t it naïve to expect that its safeguards will be honored in a country with a disgraceful track record of jailed dissenters, extrajudicial killings, and selective justice?

The threat of an asset freeze is the most troubling aspect of the anti-terrorism law. Once tagged as a suspect, you have to go through legal red tape for authorization to withdraw money to fund your business operations and feed your family. Won’t this inspire a repeat of the capital flights that crippled the economy during the Marcos regime? Did not this scenario of jinx-laden repercussions ever frighten the Senate and the House of Representatives before allowing themselves to be dictated upon to endorse that law?

Once the law is implemented in a manner that will undermine the confidence of investors, traders, and depositors, the dictator wannabe might as well lead his nation in singing a dirge for the economy.

Fernando Garcia,
[email protected]

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TAGS: anti-terror bill, asset freeze, dictatorship, martial law, Poverty
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