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Tribune Editorial

Inclusivity remains a challenge

Saturday, 03 February 2018 00:00 Published in Editorial

Amid talks of a slowing economy or a bubble being created by the successive high growth for the past six years, economists disagree, citing the still huge opportunities for higher growth.
Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cielito Habito said the economy has the potential to ramp up growth to about seven to eight percent a year from the current level of six to seven percent and the key would be the agriculture sector.
Habito noted continuing signs of a “renewed industrialization”.
Proof of this is that the manufacturing sector is now the pacesetter for the economy and has grown faster than the services sector, which in turn used to be the economic driver.
Under the services sector are telecommunications and business process outsourcing (BPO) which had boomed and supported the growth trajectory in previous years.
The resurgence of manufacturing added a source of growth for the economy which explains the sustained growth of over six percent rate which is among the highest in Asia if not the world.
The 8.6 percent manufacturing growth for last year was also higher than the traditionally fast-growing subsectors of finance that include banks and insurance, which grew at 7.7 percent and real estate that expanded 7.5 percent.
Habito said manufacturing is even catching up with BPO, the star performer, where growth has moderated lately to about nine percent.
He said BPO’s stellar double-digit performance in past years appears to have peaked, “and, looking forward, is likely to taper further given political and technological trends.”
“The now eight-year growth streak of manufacturing is a welcome development to those of us who have long rued how industrialization had eluded us, given the broad benefits it brings to an economy and its people,” Habito added.
Industry is a crucial growth sector since it is a major source of jobs which Habito said is pivotal for the economy and Filipino families “especially at this time when growth in overseas worker deployment has slowed down.”
The veteran economist, however, said the state of agriculture is key to the growth momentum since majority of the population still relies on the sector.
The agriculture, fishery and forestry (AFF) sector has reversed its negative performance of the previous year, but remains the laggard, growing much more slowly at 3.9 percent than the 6.7 percent overall growth “thereby dragging it down.”
Agriculture alone, meaning crops, poultry and livestock fared better with five percent but fishery and forestry both continued to slide at contractions of one and 5.9 percent growth, respectively thus pulling down the entire sector.
Output in the staple palay and corn improved with 9.4 and 9.8 percent growth, respectively, as did sugarcane, which rebounded with a hefty 30.2 percent growth but top agricultural exports coconut, banana and pineapple were sluggish at 0.7, 2.9 and 2.4 percent growth, respectively, while mango and coffee both took steep dives at negative 9.4 and negative 10.1 percent.
The poor state of the country’s agriculture, results in the country’s staple food production to be more expensive, hence much less affordable to the poor than in neighboring countries.
Habito said $6 million annual earnings from farm exports are a mere fraction of what our comparable neighbors earn from Vietnam’s $15 billion to Thailand’s $54 billion.
The growth momentum will also be sustained if the government speeds up investments primarily in agriculture since farm investment has fallen behind, with breeding stock and orchard development inching up by a mere 0.7 percent yearly on average, Habito said.
The challenge for the economic managers remain the inclusivity of the economic development which can be met by giving equal focus to agriculture similar to that given to the infrastructure buildup.

No satisfaction

Friday, 02 February 2018 00:00 Published in Editorial

So what did the yellow beacon Human Rights Watch (HRW) have to say with the filing of murder charges against three police officers for the alleged summary execution of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos during an anti-drug operation on August 16 in Caloocan City: “a rare instance.”
Last January 29, the Department of Justice (DoJ) panel of prosecutors, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel G. Austria, found probable cause to indict before the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and police asset Renato Perez Loveras alias ‘Nonong’ for murder and planting of evidence under Section 29 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and Section 38 of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
HRW’s Phelim Kine said the filing of the charges was “a rare instance in which the Philippine justice system has taken genuine steps to prosecute anyone for killing suspected drug users and dealers during President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, launched in June 2016.”
It is not hard to imagine the next action would again be branded as a rare event by Kine as a result of his fixed view of Rody.
Kine in a typical manner said the handful of previous prosecutions of police personnel implicated in the thousands of alleged drug war killings have not resulted in convictions.
He cited Philippine National Police (PNP) chief director-general Bato dela Rosa reinstating 18 police officers facing homicide charges in the 2016 killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
He said the reinstatements were made despite compelling evidence that the officers committed “premeditated murder” since Espinosa had surrendered to the police following public accusations by Duterte that he was a drug trafficker.
Kine then issued his own conclusion that accountability for drug war killings “has been hobbled by the refusal of the PNP and the Philippine government to allow for an independent inquiry of those deaths.”
Dela Rosa has dismissed calls for such an investigation as “legal harassment” and said the demand “dampens the morale” of police officers. He also said that last August, Duterte vowed to pardon and promote any police personnel implicated in unlawful killings.
Kine was particularly riled at Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano whom he accused of making statements that are “blatant falsehoods to whitewash the anti-drug campaign as lawful and rights-respecting.”
Cayetano recently excoriated HRW “for skewing real numbers” on the deaths associated with the campaign against illegal drugs and its allegation the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which he heads is mounting a strategy of distraction on the war on drugs.
Cayetano said HRW has been “misleading the international community by making it appear that the Philippines has become the Wild, Wild West of Asia where we just kill people left and right.”
HRW has been harping on 12,000 deaths in the course of the administration’s war against illegal drugs which were also labeled as extrajudicial killings (EJK).
The New York–based group in citing the figure in its World Report 2018 said Duterte has responded to increased criticism of his anti-drug campaign by impugning, harassing, and threatening critics of the government and human rights defenders.
“Since the “drug war” began on June 30, 2016, Duterte and his officials have publicly reviled, humiliated and, in one instance, jailed human rights advocates. Sen. Leila de Lima, the president’s chief critic, has been detained since February 2017 on politically motivated drug charges,” it added.
Kine and the yellow mob’s path, of course, always converges in the conclusion in which Kine cited the need “for a United Nations-led investigation to help provide accountability for all drug war victims, including Kian Lloyd delos Santos.”
And as always, appended on the bottom of Kine’s rambling is HRW’s come-on about “Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.”
HRW is so irrepresible when it comes to Rody for precious reasons.

Yellow influence should end

Thursday, 01 February 2018 00:00 Published in Editorial

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is missing its priority as a government agency, apparently as a result of the yellow influence in its ranks.
On the Dengvaxia scandal, it warned public officials against politicizing the issue on the inquiry into the government’s anti-dengue vaccination program.
The CHR said in a statement that public officials should refrain from causing “further public anxiety with premature statements about anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia that are not backed by scientific evidence.”
“It is to the best interest of the children and their families that this issue be insulated from political noise that distracts from providing genuine and durable solution to the problem at hand,” the statement read.
The statement is odd since it would have been more appropriately issued by the Department of Health (DoH) in reference to the “scientific” element in the Dengvaxia investigation and the main personalities being accused of irregularities in the government contract with French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur are yellow kingpin Noynoy and his Cabinet members mainly former Health Secretary Janet Garin.
The CHR statement was puzzling since no such statements appealing for non-politization of the war on drugs with the wrong figures being generated by the opponents of Rody both here and abroad regarding the allegations of extrajudicial killings (EJK).
The CHR said in its statement said the Dengvaxia issue deserves the government’s utmost attention given that the future of the nation depends on the children’s welfare.
The statement only serves to obfuscate the current efforts to seek accountability on what is turning out to be a high-level fraud that risked the lives of 800,000 Filipinos mostly children.
“Executives of the DoH (Department of Health) during the Aquino administration are now subject of an investigation in connection with the immunization of children with anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. While DoH is presumed to have the sincerest intentions in fulfilling its mandate to protect the people through a policy that seeks to prevent all kinds of illnesses and diseases including dengue, there have been lapses in the implementation,” it added.
The CHR appears to have advanced an assessment about the presumption of regularity that Noynoy usually invokes to defend his questionable past actions including his involvement in the Mamasapano debacle and the anti-dengue vaccine mess.
The “sincerest intentions” of the former officials, however, are precisely being questioned based on the outcome of the recent Senate hearings on the Dengvaxia mess where indications showed that that the P3.5 billion contract for the vaccine for use in a mass immunization was rushed during the last few months of the Aquino administration and months prior to the May 2016 presidential elections.
“The CHR recognizes the efforts of the DoH to heighten surveillance and monitoring activities on all 830,000 vaccinated children. The government ought to undertake all possible measures to prevent further exposing the vaccinated children to risk,” read the CHR statement.
In effect, the statement was urging that the government redirect its focus to the monitoring of the vaccinated children from determining accountability.
Rody had lashed out at the rights agency after insisting that its probe allegations of abuses in the military operations to retake Marawi City from Islamic State (IS) allies.
While admitting that it has not recorded any rights violations since Mindanao was placed under martial law in May 23 last year, it said that it wanted to look into allegations of military abuses.
Rody said he would not allow security personnel to be investigated and would rather have CHR abolished.
Rody said he was the one who implemented martial law and is taking full responsibility for all military actions.
“When the time comes, the CHR, its office here, you are better abolished. I will not allow my men to go there to be investigated. Remember this Human Rights Commission, you address your request through me because the armed forces are under me and the police are under me. So if you question them for investigation, you have to go to me first,” Rody said.
The CHR, as it operates, appears more focused on shielding the previous yellow regime, thereby perpetuating selective justice.

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