I have often wondered how this government, in the span of 6 years, have managed to sell almost everything this country has, most especially its people, to other countries that benefit from the sale while leaving us Pinoys with hands in empty pockets.
This is the paradox of our Overseas Filipino Workers. They brave the heat, cold, alienation, discrimination, separation from their families, to earn money in a foreign currency worth much more than the peso to send to their relatives back in the Philippines. But the remittances they have been making has become the backbone of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s so-called strong economy, which in turn has lowered the value of the dollar against the peso. Here lies the paradox. The more money the OFW’s remit, the lesser its value becomes.
I have said before that people are our country’s biggest commodity. Our country has become a one-stop shop for anything that will benefit other countries except our own. We are selling our people, our minerals, our land itself to countries who gain from the sale, the proceeds of which line the pockets of the government people involved in the sale.
We are exporting the very people and products that we should be keeping to nurture and build for our country’s future. To make matters worse, our entrance into the WTO has allowed the Philippines to become a dumping ground for products from other countries which we ourselves produce (well now, USED to produce). This is the very act that killed our economy. Gone are the factories that made cars and airconditioning units, gone are the sugar cane fields that produced our sugar export, gone are the fields that provided for our rice and corn and bakery goods. We import these products now.
We have become a nation of consumers when we used to be a nation of producers. To consume you need to buy, to buy you need money, and because there is no money to be had in this country (all the factories have closed, remember?) our workers have gone abroad. The money they are sending back is being spent buying things that have not been produced in the Philippines, therefore the money goes right back out again.
It is because of the traffic of funds created by the remittances that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas are revelling in their so-called strong economy, what they are telling everyone is a strong economy. They do not dwell on the fact that all this money goes out again in the form of debt payment and importation, and of course the kickbacks they get. It is an economy they have built on a house of cards.
It may be slow in coming, but now that is has the message is undeniable. Our people are starting to find their power again, and in more ways than just marching in the streets.
Conrad de Quiros has said it so well:
In fact, that’s not easier said than done, that’s easier done than said. It’s the hardest thing to make Filipinos do, it’s the easiest thing to make us not do. Which is what civil disobedience or passive resistance consists of: not doing. It is, as friends of mine suggest, not filing taxes (which still entails the withholding of residual amounts from a corrupt government, notwithstanding that much of your hard-earned pay is already taken from you by withdrawn tax and indirect taxes), not sending (by overseas Filipino workers in particular) of remittances through official sources (the dues and fees from which, as shown by PhilHealth, will be used only to fund the election campaign of administration candidates), being absent en masse from government offices, including the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces (conscientious or conscience-stricken cops and soldiers suddenly being stricken ill on the day they are supposed to bash the heads of demonstrators), and so on. Feel free to pitch in and add to the list.
To the charge that this will derail the economy and subvert democracy, you can always retort: Stealing money derails the economy, stealing the vote is, well, forget subverting democracy, it’s just plain evil. The principle is simple: The citizens are not powerless before an unwanted leader. An illegitimate president refuses to go, a legitimate citizenry can always refuse to obey. An unwanted leader refuses to disappear, a wanted citizenry can always refuse to appear.
You can’t operate where there’s no one left to cooperate.
Mabuhay ang OFW!