Saturday, March 24, 2007

Plan of Action

This has to be one of the longest periods that I have been unable to post an entry. I did expect this campaign to keep me busy but not this busy less than halfway through. I guess it is because I don't have a media rep, a PR specialist, researchers, barkers, secretary, finance expert...heck I even have to drive myself to public markets and free clinics and University symposia. I guess this is my way of testing my deep faith in my fellow Filipinos that they will know what to do on election day. They will realize that we are going nowhere and all these promises being made by all these traditional politicians will only keep our country down.

Right now, I am totally focused on my mission to convince everyone to join me in a national effort that will quickly change our national character. Once and for all, we will have to abandon our national aspiration to become known as a "model beggar" nation. Just think, 52.7% of the 2005 budget went to debt service while a little more than 1% went towards healthcare (in contrast to 21% to healthcare in the US and 8.7% to debt service in 2002). We are a nation that prefers to smell good before the international banking community instead of providing vaccinations and schoolrooms and food to our country's youth. Our priorities are all screwed-up.

I propose that we undertake an audit of all our debts including all those sovereign guarantees, odious loans like the nuclear plant that never produced any energy that we paid $2.6 billion for because of complicity between corrupt government officials and unscrupulous law firms, banks and corporate businesses. We repeal the Automatic Appropriations Act that binds us to pay all our loans no matter the consequences and then cap our debt service payments to 25%. When we go through this pathway, it will have to be understood by all that we won't be able to secure any more loans (although this did not happen with Argentina) which might be a good idea because it will lessen our dependence on perpetually taking out new loans to pay for previous loans. We will be forced to go on a national belt-tightening program that will ask for sacrifices from all sectors of society. We will ask our overseas sisters and brothers to double their remittances for a period of 5 years. For those of us remaining in the country, we collectively stop smoking, drastically reduce airconditioning, walk short distances, take cold showers, import less food.....all in the hope of uniting us towards an enormous goal that will benefit the common good.

This action will do two things: (1) free-up about PhP250 billion a year that we can plow back into education , health and infrastructure. We will be able to immediately double, even triple teacher's salaries and will increase the likelihood of recruiting the best minds to teach the next generation. We will be able to provide safe drinking water and nutritious food to millions of poor people. We will be able to build farm roads, bridges, schoolrooms, rural clinics. We will learn to become self-sufficient. (2) it will also enable a negotiating panel that we will form to discuss matters with the IMF and World Bank (25% of our loans), various other lending institutions to negotiate from a position of strength, essentially a take it or leave it situation.

One very important lesson I learned from my years in the US is that we Filipinos are equal to Americans. Sounds simplistic but I think this national insecurity we harbor is at the root of our inability to get a good deal from the international community. The American people will understand why we were forced to embark upon this perilous course if they see the terrible situation we find ourselves in, that this is basically a matter of survival.

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