U.S. out, China in? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 June 2018 14:18

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

In 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan threw his unconditional support behind the economic rehabilitation of the Philippines, two years after the fall of the Marcos Dictatorship. It undoubtedly raised up the sinking hopes of the Filipinos long robbed of their wealth and dignity who believed then that only an act of Uncle Sam could have saved them from total ruin.

The plan then was to funnel $2 billion to the Philippines annually for five years with no collateral nor unconditional exploration of the Philippine shoals. I came across a long forgotten editorial of the Times Journal, the national newspaper I was corresponding for, that said: “it would be wise not to pin our hopes on this U.S. bonanza as some American officials themselves have advised. For one thing, the grand plan would have to get Capitol Hill’s approval before Reagan can put his imprimatur on it. We must remind ourselves that the U.S. Congress is currently in a belt-tightening mood and has in fact conscientiously pruned the White House proposals for foreign aid outlays. Even sums meant for allies hosting vital American military facilities were not spared the U.S. Congress’ scissors.”

That was 30 years ago. Two years ago, El Presidente shook hands with Chinese leaders, as did Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino when she made her first official visit to China to meet her forebears. The “Great Pivot to China” was seen by many as  El Presidente’s payback time, for the Chinese allegedly bankrolled his campaign. Since his takeover from Mrs. Aquino’s son, El Presidente has held bilateral talks with the Chinese on China’s “One Belt, One Road” program targeted to help the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program. Those talks led to a grant of $8.9 billion from the Chinese government which is definitely not manna from heaven.

Shouldn’t the financial managers and economic strategists study more closely the loan before leaping at the financial windfall lest we get entangled in a roll of fence wire, especially now that we are in a delirious economic state because of rising inflation? Definitely, El Presidente can use the money ( in U.S. dollars), but we should make sure that we know what we are getting into before striking a deal with our new benefactor which has never given us anything without getting something in return. The question reverberates: WHAT DOES CHINA WANT IN EXCHANGE FOR THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN LOAN TO THE PHILIPPINES?

And if ever the money comes, are we prepared to make good use of it? Our government’s record of handling foreign loans is dismal, to say the least, because of corruption that, up to this point, still seems prevalent.

There may also be flaws in the conduct of feasibility studies for economic projects. The advice of economists is for this government to concentrate or making proper use of what resources we have which, if handled carefully, should take us to El Presidente’s goal of national recovery.

Incidentally... Zamboanga needs to play a part in the “Build, Build, Build” program by requesting for allocation from Malacanang for a total shelter program tailored for the genuinely displaced families. Zamboanga has vast, unused public lands intended for the homeless, but the lack of money delays the rehab of these socially-disadvantaged people. Even the Social Security System’s liberal housing program for its members doesn’t offer much hope for low-income employees.

The Lobregats, in their combined 35 years in governing Zamboanga city, purchased lands with the use of government funds for the landless. Now, it is Mayor Climaco-Salazar’s job to fill these lands with low-cost houses for the homeless. THEY ARE REGISTERED VOTERS!