RIFT BETWEEN PH, CHINA THREATENS TRADE, TOURISM TIES -GLOBAL SOURCE

Prolonged diplomatic chill between the Philippines and China risks reversing the trend of “mutually beneficial” trade and travel ties that have been growing rapidly over the years, according to the New York-based think tank Global Source. In an April 11 special report titled “Challenging Goliath,” Global Source economists Romeo Bernardo and Marie-Christine Tang noted that Philippine-China relations had sunk to a new low following the Philippines’ filing of a memorial or pleading before a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea arbitral tribunal. Citing the view of “cooler” heads who have said that the Philippines should “dial down the rhetoric,” the research noted that President Aquino’s comparison of China’s actions to Hitler’s occupation of Czechoslovakia in the period leading up to the Second World War seemed unnecessary. “Rather, more calibrated and thought through pronouncements would enable the country to keep the moral high ground,” it said. As it is, the research noted that given China’s non-participation in the arbitration case, the Philippines realizes that even under the best case where the tribunal accepts jurisdiction and substantively rules in its favor, the ruling may be “unenforceable” and China will still have effective control of the disputed areas. READ MORE...

ALSO: US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker April 17 laid out the commercial-economic angle of the Obama Administration’s “rebalance”—better known as “pivot”– to the Asia-Pacific region. The White House sees, the Asia-Pacific as a region of “tremendous opportunity” for United States businesses and workers. From Pritzker’s viewpoint, the region is home to an emerging middle class that is eager for American products and services, having nearly 60 percent of global GDP, the world’s fastest growing economies and half of the world’s population. Secretary Pritzker emphasized the United States’ long-term commitment to strengthening well established trading partnerships, and supporting emerging Asian economies as they develop infrastructure and enter the global trading system. The US commitment includes building and strengthening regional mechanisms like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Association for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). READ MORE...

ALSO: Tagaytay best, Urdaneta City poorest in handling taxpayers’ money

Department of Finance The Department of Finance (DoF) has ranked Tagaytay City as the best local government unit to handle taxpayers' money with Urdaneta City in Pangasinan as the poorest in its pilot online assessment rolled out last week. Through Local Government Unit (LGU) Fiscal Sustainability Scorecard, the department's Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) aims to promote transparency and good governance at all levels. In the preliminary performance review, 80 provinces and 121 cities covering 2009 to 2012 were covered. LGUs were rated as excellent, very good, good, average, needs improvement and poor. Among cities, Tagaytay City was the best performing LGU with an "excellent" rating and a score of 86.5. Quezon City followed with a score of 86.3. Urdaneta City and Dapitan City were at the lowest end of the scorecard, and were rated "Poor" with scores of 11.6 and 25.1, respectively. Meanwhile, Taguig City was among the delinquent LGUs with no approved report for the three-year period as of the evaluation period.

COLUMN: The neoliberal nightmare, IS-Manila, and the Philippine elite

Neoliberalism arose in the 1970s as a governmental response to the economic climate in the USA and UK. In the context of the Philippines, Noynoy Aquino’s Philippine Development Plan and Public-Partnership Program best represent the current administration’s neoliberal policies, which leftist groups such as the militant political party Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) see as a continuation of the failed economic policies implemented since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. Echoing aspects of my friend’s characterization, the PLM stated in December, 2011: “We reject the government’s plan to continue with plan to continue with the policies of widespread privatization of remaining government assets and projects, economic liberalization, deregulation, regressive taxation, and measures which have been found to be a burden to the population and a boon to only a select few in the country. The select few represent the big foreign and local corporations who stand to gain in these measures, which also include the implementation of rampant contractualization of labor in industries.” (See “Philippines: PLM Rejects Neoliberal Policies of the Government” on indybay.org from December 8, 2011) The despairing position in which we find ourselves in the Philippines, of course, is that neither the jobless growth that neoliberal policies have engendered nor the perpetual inefficiency and corruption of state intervention suggests a program equipped to address our country’s harrowing conditions of inequality and injustice. READ FULL REPORT...


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Rift between PH, China threatens trade, tourism ties — Global Source ... Think tank urges Manila to be more circumspect in pronouncements



MANILA, APRIL 21, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Doris C. Dumlao — Prolonged diplomatic chill between the Philippines and China risks reversing the trend of “mutually beneficial” trade and travel ties that have been growing rapidly over the years, according to the New York-based think tank Global Source.

In an April 11 special report titled “Challenging Goliath,” Global Source economists Romeo Bernardo and Marie-Christine Tang noted that Philippine-China relations had sunk to a new low following the Philippines’ filing of a memorial or pleading before a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea arbitral tribunal. Citing the view of “cooler” heads who have said that the Philippines should “dial down the rhetoric,” the research noted that President Aquino’s comparison of China’s actions to Hitler’s occupation of Czechoslovakia in the period leading up to the Second World War seemed unnecessary.

“Rather, more calibrated and thought through pronouncements would enable the country to keep the moral high ground,” it said.

As it is, the research noted that given China’s non-participation in the arbitration case, the Philippines realizes that even under the best case where the tribunal accepts jurisdiction and substantively rules in its favor, the ruling may be “unenforceable” and China will still have effective control of the disputed areas.

“Needless provocation would likely serve to harden China’s position, which may prove unhelpful in achieving the Philippines’ desired outcome,” it said.

The hope is that despite China’s current insistence in claiming everything within its nine-dash line, an opinion from an impartial international tribunal that is favorable to the Philippines will lead to some softening in China’s stance and allow the Philippines to explore areas that it is entitled to, the commentary has noted.

Notwithstanding the apparent overwhelming desire among Filipinos for its government to see the case through, the economists said “not a few local thinkers are dismayed that relations with a neighboring economic powerhouse have deteriorated to such an extent.”

The memorial filed by the Philippines was in connection with the arbitration case it initiated against China early last year over disputed areas in the South China Sea (referred to as West Philippine Sea by local authorities) in which it sought to defend its rights under the 200- nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In assessing potential economic costs, Global Source noted that Philippine-China exports and imports had grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent between 1999-2013 compared with the 4 percent CAGR in trade between the Philippines and the rest of the world.

It also noted that Chinese tourists, whom the World Tourism Organization tagged as the largest source market for outbound tourism in terms of expenditures since 2012, have only recently started to come to the Philippines and, despite bilateral tensions, grew by 70 percent to over 420,000 visitors in 2013.

“China demonstrated during the April 2012 standoff that at a minimum, it can bar Chinese tourists from coming to the Philippines and apply stricter phytosanitary standards on Philippine agricultural exports,” the research said, noting that about 30 percent of Philippine exports to China was estimated by analysts to be intended for domestic demand and that this share might grow as China shifts towards a consumption-led economic growth strategy.

With a pending court case, the research noted that China may be expected to deploy its huge foreign exchange reserves and continue its “charm offensive” to win over other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “This would not only isolate the Philippines in its continuing efforts to push for a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea among ASEAN members but would also give the latter the edge in attracting fast growing Chinese outward investments ($84 billion in 2012 from less than $3 billion a decade ago, mostly in Asia),” the research said.

At present, the research noted there’s very little by way of Chinese foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the Philippines, noting that its one large stake in the electricity transmission sector was even “being eyed locally with deep suspicion.”

With this political tension, Global Source also said it has become “highly unlikely that the Philippines can undertake any oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.”

Global Source said it would likely take anywhere from two to four years for the tribunal to decide on the case, assuming it would not junk it immediately for lack of jurisdiction (take China’s position).

Even if the decision comes before 2016, the research said there’s not much optimism among local China experts that bilateral relations would thaw under President Aquino. “The hope now is that in the interim, more pragmatic minds on both sides of the disputed seas will be able to work on preserving and growing economic ties,” the research said.

Global Source said the Philippine government’s confidence was “understandable as, legal arguments aside, the case has ignited latent nationalistic emotions.” It added that the country was enjoying broad international backing, not least from the U.S. given its pivot to Asia, and countries with similar disputes with China, including Japan and some members of the ASEAN, notably, Vietnam and Malaysia.

“To be sure, the Philippines’ leaning on US support in its maritime disputes has drawn strong reactions from China. It has said that it opposes these attempts to draw a third party into the dispute. But it is precisely the belief in US support – the two countries hold periodic war games, including near the South China Sea – that is propping up Philippine confidence to stand up to China,” Global Source said.

“Lacking any credible military defense capability, the Philippines is currently locked in negotiations with the U.S. on a defense treaty that it expects will be signed during the US President’s scheduled visit to the country this month,” it said.

US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’ INQUIRER.net US Bureau 12:15 am | Saturday, April 19th, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker April 17 laid out the commercial-economic angle of the Obama Administration’s “rebalance”—better known as “pivot”– to the Asia-Pacific region.

The White House sees, the Asia-Pacific as a region of “tremendous opportunity” for United States businesses and workers.

From Pritzker’s viewpoint, the region is home to an emerging middle class that is eager for American products and services, having nearly 60 percent of global GDP, the world’s fastest growing economies and half of the world’s population.

Secretary Pritzker emphasized the United States’ long-term commitment to strengthening well established trading partnerships, and supporting emerging Asian economies as they develop infrastructure and enter the global trading system.

The US commitment includes building and strengthening regional mechanisms like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Association for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Pritzker also announced her third trip to the region since taking office nearly 10 months ago. She will travel to Vietnam, the Philippines and Burma in conjunction with a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council in early June, underscoring U.S. government support for high-level private sector engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Pritzker also stated that the Department of Commerce will expand its overseas resources to help U.S. businesses navigate additional global markets and sell their goods and services to customers all over the world.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will add a total of 68 new positions and open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma.

The expansion is largely focused on fast-growing markets in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Pritzker announced that ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service will be adding offices in Burma and Wuhan, China. Additional staff will be added at 10 other Asian posts.

The U.S. Commercial Service will more than double its presence in Africa, opening offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique, and expanding offices in Kenya, Ghana, Morocco and Libya. Europe, the Middle East and the Western Hemisphere will also see growth in staff numbers.

ITA, working with the U.S. State Department, will begin implementing its expansion in the coming months.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Tagaytay best, Urdaneta City poorest in handling taxpayers’ money April 18, 2014 6:19pm 4636 377 0 5037 Tags:


ROWS OF PINEAPPLE FIELD IN TAGAYTAY CITY

Department of Finance The Department of Finance (DoF) has ranked Tagaytay City as the best local government unit to handle taxpayers' money with Urdaneta City in Pangasinan as the poorest in its pilot online assessment rolled out last week.

Through Local Government Unit (LGU) Fiscal Sustainability Scorecard, the department's Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) aims to promote transparency and good governance at all levels.

In the preliminary performance review, 80 provinces and 121 cities covering 2009 to 2012 were covered. LGUs were rated as excellent, very good, good, average, needs improvement and poor.

Among cities, Tagaytay City was the best performing LGU with an "excellent" rating and a score of 86.5. Quezon City followed with a score of 86.3.

Urdaneta City and Dapitan City were at the lowest end of the scorecard, and were rated "Poor" with scores of 11.6 and 25.1, respectively.

Meanwhile, Taguig City was among the delinquent LGUs with no approved report for the three-year period as of the evaluation period.

In provinces, Cavite was at the top with an "excellent" rating and score of 90.2 followed by Quirino with 88.1. Sarangani was at the lowest with a "poor" rating and a score of 25.7.

LGU Fiscal Sustainability Scorecard is a regular fiscal and financial management performance assessment of all LGUs which can be accessed via Iskor ng ‘yong Bayan.

The scorecard takes into account key results areas of local revenue generation capacity, local collection growth, expenditure management, updating of schedule of market values, and reportorial compliance of treasurers and assessors with the DOF and BLGF.

The scorecard will be based on official quarterly and year-end reports submitted by all local treasurers and assessors to the BLGF. -- Danessa Rivera/KBK, GMA News

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

The neoliberal nightmare, IS-Manila, and the Philippine elite April 13, 2014 11:23 pm by Nicole Del Rosario CuUnjieng


NICOLE DEL ROSARIO CUUNJIENG
“How did you manage to transcend the neoliberal nightmare that is the international school system in Southeast and East Asia?!” a sharp, progressive PhD Candidate in Sociology at Yale University recently asked me.

“It’s America outside America. You get these impermanent placements of three years here, three years there, which feature no deep investment in the community, just transient profit-making, and provide no understanding of the local—all while being fed this bullshit discourse on global citizenship as if you’re worldly and knowledgeable, and it ultimately produces kids who feel they can speak on behalf of other cultures just because they happened to be stationed in cities temporarily by their parents’ multinational company that incidentally also sheltered them, providing them with transportation, apartments in gated communities, and tuition to attend these prestigious international schools where they only socialize with other kids in the same situation.”

“Oh yeah,” I told him, “living in Hong Kong during the boom of the 1990s I would attend sleepovers at age 9 at which each girl would show up with a different ‘industry duffel bag’ bearing the name of whichever investment bank her father happened to work for.”

“Do you not want to rip your eyes out when you talk to those international school kids?” He looked at me seriously: “Do you not loath them?” He pushed to the root of his incredulousness: “Have you found an alternative ground on which to rest your societal critique that is compatible with their neoliberalism?

What is the substance of your discussions of critical theory with them?”

Neoliberalism arose in the 1970s as a governmental response to the economic climate in the USA and UK.

In the context of the Philippines, Noynoy Aquino’s Philippine Development Plan and Public-Partnership Program best represent the current administration’s neoliberal policies, which leftist groups such as the militant political party Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) see as a continuation of the failed economic policies implemented since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

Echoing aspects of my friend’s characterization, the PLM stated in December, 2011:

“We reject the government’s plan to continue with plan to continue with the policies of widespread privatization of remaining government assets and projects, economic liberalization, deregulation, regressive taxation, and measures which have been found to be a burden to the population and a boon to only a select few in the country. The select few represent the big foreign and local corporations who stand to gain in these measures, which also include the implementation of rampant contractualization of labor in industries.” (See “Philippines: PLM Rejects Neoliberal Policies of the Government” on indybay.org from December 8, 2011)

The despairing position in which we find ourselves in the Philippines, of course, is that neither the jobless growth that neoliberal policies have engendered nor the perpetual inefficiency and corruption of state intervention suggests a program equipped to address our country’s harrowing conditions of inequality and injustice.

The questions, however, of “how I managed to transcend the neoliberal nightmare of the international school system” and “what is the substance of my discussions of critical theory with my ISM friends” are interesting. The short answer is, firstly, that my friend gave me far too much credit in his assumptions.

The second answer, however, is that the neoliberal nightmare he identifies in the international school system may be the overriding nightmare in the schools of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Jakarta, but it is not the operative haunting at the International School of Manila. When he asked me if I loathed the international school kids, I told him that, far to the contrary, those kids are my best friends.

Moreover, in some respects, they probably would have ended up being the main members of my social circle even if none of us had ever attended ISM. Up until fairly recently, the uppermost socio-economic class in the Philippines sent their children to be educated in the best local private schools in the country: Assumption, Xavier, Ateneo, et al.

Indeed, my father had at first insisted that his children not be “strangers in their own country” and in the early 1990s actively championed local schools even in the face of mounting globalization.

However, once we returned to Manila in 1997 after nearly five years in Hong Kong, it seemed, suddenly, that that prior logic no longer held. If we were to receive the best education available we should attend ISM, and, moreover, having lived in Hong Kong, it became a question whether we would “even be suited” to the local schools’ pedagogy.

The local schools were no longer adequate for the newly globalized elite, though just a few years before they very much were. It was not necessarily that the quality of the schools rapidly diverged over a few short years, but that rather the system of cultural capital had changed and globalized.

Indeed, by the time I left high school, attending local universities was nearly unthinkable for the majority of Filipinos in my graduating class.

At ISM, my best friends were not the “global citizens” of multinational companies that my sociologist friend described. They were the “globalized elite” of the Philippines, many of whom formerly attended local schools, just as I did, but who now were destined to become even more like strangers to the eyes of the majority in their country.

At ISM, the spectrum of people I interacted with widened in terms of nationality and culture, but narrowed in terms of socio-economic class and privilege. The historical consolidation of the oligarchy in the Philippines is deeply written into and visible in my social life and I do not know clearly how to feel about it, nor can I even fully seek to transcend it without a certain pang of loss. This is precisely because of the ways in which that consolidation has become inflected with bonds of intimacy and belonging.

One of my best friends and I both have forefathers who were signatories to the Malolos Constitution. What are the chances that our forebears would be close friends and that one hundred years later we two would also be close friends?

In the Philippines, sadly: very high. I cannot help but feel proud to be part of something larger than myself, something historical at that, and happy that the people closest to me now are there with me too in history. Yet, I also am deeply conscious of what that continuity—which to us just feels like friendship—has meant for the rest of the country and that I should, actually, be ashamed of the fact that my best friend and I share this.

In the early 1990s, I attended Assumption and my brother attended Xavier, and when I look at pictures of our birthday parties from back then, I see the faces of the people who ultimately went on to be my best friends at ISM, but who then attended Ateneo and La Salle.

I was not yet friends with them then, but our parents were longstanding friends and acquaintances. This is why I know that I probably would have been friends with them no matter what school we all attended.

The problem in the Philippines is and remains social inequality and the consolidation of the national oligarchy and the concentration of wealth and power in its hands.

The dimension that the most recent wave of globalization has added to this is the way in which it has further separated us from the rest of our country, and made us more similar to the elite of other international schools, of other countries, than to those living with and around us—to our kababayan who no longer expect us to speak anything but English.

Unlike the rest of the Filipino diaspora, when we leave for the First World, it is not because we cannot survive on the wages afforded to us in our home country, but rather to enjoy foreign freedoms, to acquire the cultural capital of the First World, or, most shamefully, to become “disciplined.”

While attending ISM, my father judged that we were becoming “soft” at home, and that we need to live in the USA for a while to see what life “is really like” in the world without maids, without cooks, and without drivers.

This is the deep irony of the split-level Philippine diaspora. I see Filipinos on the street and on the subway in New York City, and we are strangers there, just as we are at home.

Nicole Del Rosario CuUnjieng is a PhD Student in Southeast Asian and International History at Yale University

2 Responses to The neoliberal nightmare, IS-Manila, and the Philippine elite

arthur keefe says:
April 14, 2014 at 10:43 am
A very refreshing analysis. The UK was far ahead of this after the second world war, with its welfare state and greater social mobility (helped by totally free University education which I enjoyed). Now the UK is not so different from the Philippines in many respects, with growing inequality, social alienation of very many, especially the young, and severely restricted social mobility. The processes described by Nicole are global, and there seems little we can do to break the neoliberal hegemony.

Reply
Cobra says:
April 14, 2014 at 8:32 am
It doesn’t matter how and where the likes of the elites live, they might once in awhile like or pretend to feel for the their lesser beings but in the end they will still rather be friends with their own kind the elites or bourgeois. Have you seen any of them in the Phils marrying one from a poor family? They wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole, going & seeing the poor in their so called “slums” in their once in a lifetime social activities is more than enough. At least in India they have a caste system thus giving the practice a good excuse.
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