Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Phillipine business community divided on another "People Power" revolt.

This is from the Inquirer.
Politics is rather different in the Philippines than the U.S. I can't even imagine the U.S. public organised to overthrow the U.S. government even though Bush is very unpopular and has done much to violate American's rights as well as advancing the interests of his crony capitalist friends. Even less can one imagine business groups backing such an overthrow. I guess this just goes to show how much more politically advanced the Philippine populace is compared to Americans !
One American revolution was more than enough it seems. Homeland Security is ready for any People Power in the U.S.

Business divided on another 'People Power' revolt
Philippine Daily InquirerFirst Posted 19:42:00 02/24/2008
MANILA, Philippines--Like many sectors of the Philippine society, the business community is divided over the prospect of another people power revolt unseating President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
They are also divided over the ability of the country to weather another mass uprising.
Surprisingly, however, anecdotal evidence shows that more and more business people are now open to the possibility of an extra-constitutional change in government under specific conditions.
This shift has become more palpable over the past few months and contrasts starkly with the sentiment of business leaders who speak regularly to the Philippine Daily Inquirer from their positions just a couple of years ago.
Makati Business Club trustee Jose L. Cuisia Jr., who played an active role in Edsa I, laid out preconditions under which the country could survive another people power.
"I agree with Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo about what he calls a different brand of people power," he said.
Cuisia, who is also president and chief executive of Philamlife, said another people power would make sense if there were no street protests or bloodshed, and if it would result in a major change in the country's leadership.
"[We may need people power again] because reforms have not taken place and the system rewards the same [groups]," Cuisia said. "If it would be a different kind of people power, then yes the economy can [weather it]."
SGV & Co. chair David Balangue believed that the country could survive another people power convulsion, saying that people should "try again" after failing to get it right in the last episode.
"We need to try and try again until we get it right, because the systems of checks and balances provided for in the Constitution are not working," Balangue said.
At the same time, other members of the business community felt strongly against an uprising, and warned of dire consequences should another one occur.
Industrialist Raul T. Concepcion said the Philippines could not afford another revolt unless it would bring the country together as what happened in Edsa I in 1986.
"Edsa I was correct in that respect, but Edsa II in 2001 was different," Concepcion said. "We can't have an Edsa III because it would not change the system."
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) also opposed the idea, with its chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. warning that people power would be "almost fatal" to the economy at this point.
"Even without any semblance of another people power, foreign investors have been holding off with regard to the Philippines," he said.
"What more if there would actually be another?"
"The first people power was OK. The second was a problem," Ortiz-Luis said. "A third would be very bad [for business]."
Economists also have opposing views on whether another people power will adversely affect the country's economy, which some said had just started to take off following the 31-year-high gross domestic product growth of 7.3 percent in 2007.
Cielito Habito, an economist from the Ateneo de Manila University, said that he believed that the Philippine economy had somehow developed a wall shielding it from the goings on in politics.
"The economy seems to have a life of its own. Last year, we saw how the peso strengthened and stock market prices rose to record highs despite political problems," Habito said.
Economist Benjamin Diokno of the University of the Philippines did not believe another people power would be bad for the economy.
The economy should not be made an excuse for doing what would be best for the country, he said.
"The economy has grown despite Mrs. Arroyo," he said.
"It's more because of sustained OFW [overseas Filipino workers] remittances and favorable global economic environment. If she has to go because she has lost moral authority to govern then she has to go," he said.
But economist Victor Abola said another people power would undermine the country's institutions and worsen political instability, which could drive away investors.
"I don't think people will be willing to do another revolt, but if that happens, it's the economy that will suffer," he said. "The elections are just two years [away]. Why would we need to do something that will undermine our institutions?"
From the outside, however, the verdict is clearer.
The Philippine economy is widely seen to be in a stronger position to survive any domestic political turbulence like another uprising—but not necessarily emerge out of it unscathed.
"Given that the macroeconomic fundamentals are now stronger than they were three or four years ago, that means that whatever disruption that may occur, whether it's people power revolution or something else, the country will be able to withstand more," said Agost Benard, sovereign credit analyst at Standard & Poor's.
"But, of course, events of such nature will threaten to undo some of the progress," Benard said.
The Philippine credit rating already takes into account a big degree of domestic political uncertainty, which has for a long time been a feature of the economy, according to Benard. He said the uncertainty tended to affect and interfere with policy making.
"But the current events are not something that will change our view," the S&P credit analyst said.
An economist at a New York-based think tank said that the effect of political turbulence on growth numbers would probably not be big given the momentum of domestic demand.
Margarita Gonzales of Global Source also noted that growth had been largely driven by OFW remittance-induced private consumption. "But it matters how the business sector and investors view the change," she said.
If leadership change would be swift and resolve the problem quickly, the economy might stay resilient. But if it were to lead to further political instability or plant the seed for future instability, the economy could suffer greatly, Gonzalez said.
Despite the disparate views among business people, it was clear that the disagreements came from the time frame—whether long- or short-term—with which they assessed the effects of politics on the economy.
"I think our economy is resilient enough that it should survive over the long term," said JV Emmanuel de Dios, former energy undersecretary and now president of Nido Petroleum Philippines Inc.
"The question is whether we are willing to accept the short-term consequences which may derail the momentum the economy currently enjoys," De Dios said.Reports from Ronnel Domingo, Doris Dumlao, Michelle Remo, Abigail Ho, Riza Olchondra and Daxim Lucas
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1 comment:

Remitter said...

Political scenario invariably affects the socio economic conditions of a country. Philippines has seen turbulent times and it is worse for those who stay abroad and support their families. At a time when the future of the OFWs is oscillating between two extremes the need of the hour is to find economically sound solutions which would take off the pressure from the OFWs.