Ultrarich under dictatorship?
I WROTE this letter while watching on TV the 30th anniversary celebration of Edsa I.
Indeed, even as we yearly condemn Ferdinand Marcos for every single day of the nearly 14 dark years of his martial law regime, now that we are at last able to freely shout, “Never again!” across the four winds and as we enviously praise to high heavens Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam for their economic gains relative to ours, we cannot but feel some deep remorse thinking that were it not for the strongman’s rule, our economy could have been at least on a par with, if not better than, theirs.
And so, a couple of truth-seeking questions are likely to haunt us. Why does our country still lag behind our Asian neighbors even after democracy has been restored in our system of government? Didn’t all our Asian neighbors prosper under a dictatorial government like the one that once hindered our economic growth and whom we have long abhorred? Then, perhaps—but just perhaps—we may have to ask ourselves one other curious question: Other than the form of government, what else does distinctly separate us from our neighbors in the region?
Outright, there is one single, most telling explanation to this paradox: religion!
But wait! Before anybody gets me wrong, I am a Roman Catholic and I certainly do not mean to say our economic stagnation has been essentially due to our predominantly Christian faith. Absolutely not! I am merely tempted to cite in passing one truly distinct difference that immediately comes to everybody’s mental awareness in this regard!
As things are, we invariably keep hearing that the Philippine economy has been practically controlled by the rich. Most of us might say, this is just part of true democracy at work. And so
Marcos was publicly condemned for sequestering a number of firms owned by a few all-powerful clans he believed were trying to monopolize certain sectors of the economy at the expense of the common good.
We can all agree that these all-powerful clans are once again back in our midst and times. They altogether constitute the ultrarich tycoons and entities who habitually throw away millions of pesos in support of favored candidates every election season; who lobby for or against controversial bills in Congress, who monopolize certain industries, depending upon their vested interests; who win every public bidding for infrastructure projects; and who are even said to bribe some members of the judiciary whenever necessary— alas and alack, all in the pursuit of their whims and caprices and unbridled greed for wealth. To be sure, every layman in the street knows pretty well who these tycoons or entities are. I need not name them here, lest I be hauled to court for libel.
At any rate, this leads me to my thesis: These ultrarich clans or entities can never exist and remain unchecked under a dictatorial government. And so, can’t this plain truth be the missing link into why our Asian neighbors are economically more self-sufficient than we are? More categorically put (by no means am I advocating a return to a martial law regime), doesn’t “too much democracy” tend to prevent our economy from truly taking off?
—RUDY L. CORONEL, rudycoronel [email protected]
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