(Part 13 of the “In Defense of the Filipino” series)
THE usual answers to this question are because allegedly we Filipinos are indolent, thieves, corrupt, undisciplined, crab-minded, divided, and more. Let us have the real answers.
Nation’s Debts. The main reason is because a large portion of our national budget goes to paying our foreign and domestic debts, instead of using it to build more roads, highways, bridges, schools, hospitals, housing units, railroads, irrigation, cable lines, and other public works; to raise the salaries and benefits of our public school teachers, policemen, soldiers, and government employees; and to fund more development and poverty-alleviation programs.
For every peso that the Filipino taxpayer pays to the government, a big part of it (about a third) only goes to our creditors.
An example is our national budget in 1986. It was P250 billion, and 70 per cent of that went to our creditors, while the more than 50 million Filipinos then had to fight for the remaining 30 per cent.
More and more Filipinos are deprived of social services because a large portion of our national budget is just enjoyed by our few creditors. This is only very unjust and unthinkable.
Even if the alleged US$2.4 billion annual public corruption in the country is not stolen, this money will not still be enough to fight poverty. But if we suspend paying our debts for at least two years, we will have a huge amount to solve more than half of our country’s problems.
The saddening fact with our debts is that our government has to borrow more to be able to pay old debts, and thus the more we pay, the more we get indebted.
Former President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies—the people who plunged us all into these massive debts—must be held accountable for this appalling crime.
When Marcos took over the presidency in late 1965, the country’s foreign debts stood at only US$465 million. When he was swept from power in early 1986, those debts had reached US$26 billion—a 26,000 per cent increase! Today, the debts amount to more than US$50 billion already.
Marcos’ successors had to and will borrow vast amounts to pay those debts that he accumulated. It has now become a never-ending cycle, and only a miraculous turn of events can help and save us from being buried forever in it.
Population mismanagement. This is the next major cause. Many people keep building families and producing children even if they are unprepared and have no money.
Through massive population management programs, the people should be informed that before building families, they first must have stable livelihoods, and savings for health care, children’s education, and emergencies, and that they should produce children only according to their financial means.
Fewer industries. Another reason is that there are not enough industries to provide employment to the people, and so the government cannot collect more corporate, business, customs, personal income, and other taxes.
It is not the government that makes business, but the private sector, since the duty of the government with regards to the economic life of a nation is to create an environment where business and the entire economy can thrive and be healthy. It should never compete with the private sector and the people in profit-making.
Our entrepreneurs, instead of bringing their wealth to other lands, should invest them in our country to give those needed employment opportunities.
Low wages. Another reason is even if the people have jobs, they receive low wages, and thus cannot afford the essential food, clothing, shelter, education, leisure, savings, and secure future for themselves and their families. Despite all their hard work, they remain poor.
Negative minds? Anti-Filipinos say that Filipinos remain poor because they don’t think positive: They always consider themselves poor.
Even if we were the most positive thinkers in the world, with those petite wages that we get, our miserable lives will never improve.
Double time. They also argue that we Filipinos should work double-time to double our incomes, meaning we should become entrepreneurs.
This is impracticable, for there is no nation on earth whose citizens or majority of its citizens are entrepreneurs. Most are wage earners.
Many people are asking too much from the Filipinos. Can they not realize that we Filipinos are already doing all we can, and sometime more than what we can?
We work hard, we receive low wages, we earn little, we pay taxes, and we honor our debts. What else can the Filipino do? Should we work eight or more hours a day and pull miracles out of the little that we earn?
We are a poor country not because we Filipinos are corrupt, indolent, undisciplined, etc. There are reasons more sensible than that.