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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Tests

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For whatever April Fools joke was played upon our then presidential candidate in April 2022 on the campaign trail, to promise 20-peso rice per kilo, the test will be most difficult to hurdle

As Christendom rejoices and everybody greets everyone Happy Easter, it seems ironic that this 2024, the day after is what the occidentals playfully call April Fools Day.

The April Fools joke is upon those who tried mightily to push for “economic” amendments to a Constitution that truly needs a revisit, not only on its restrictive economic provisions, but on the form of government and the manner we elect our officials.

Last week, Pulse Asia came up with research findings done March 6 to 10, that says 88 percent of Filipinos say the Constitution should not be amended now , but may be amended sometime in the future, even as 74 percent think it shouldn’t be amended now or in the future.

But Filipinos have short memories, short attention spans and are prone to change their minds. Public opinion here is after all fickle.

What is clear is by now, due to clumsy efforts of PIRMA handlers who looked like fools before our senators, public opinion on Constitutional change is negative, and that gives an excuse for the Senate which is extremely mindful of what the public thinks, to reject the efforts of their House counterparts who adopted RBH6, many without reading or without clear comprehension.

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Even those senators who were suspicious of the HoR’s true intent, but wanted to curry favor with the administration, will now have reason to “listen” to public opinion, as measured by a credible polling firm such as Pulse Asia.

Cha-cha is dead in the water, for now.

Ah! But do not expect its progenitors, whether in Batasan Hills or in the palace beside the Pasig River with the centuries old “malas” balete tree in front, to easily give up.

Even now, they must be thinking of what they can yet do to salvage the situation, knowing how fickle the Filipino mind is.

The main reason advanced for lifting all economic restrictions other than land ownership, foolishly watered down by compromise to just public utilities, education and advertising, was because we need foreign investments marching in like saints to give jobs for our people.

The reason why the Maharlika Fund was railroaded in both houses was also because we need to prod foreigners to invest in the economy, and so we made a local effort capitalized from people’s banks.

Don’t get me wrong; we really need FDIs, but the reason they shun us now is not because of the restrictive provisions of our 1987 Constitution, but because of many other reasons that make the cost of doing business in these benighted land quite expensive and even risky.

And that brings me to one of two tests where the current leadership will be weighed by our people.

One, will investments, whatever and wherever the provenance, boost our high unemployment and under-employment rate and lift up the poor standards upon which they survive?

And because our peripatetic president, now having gone out for 25 times to several countries in a span of 19 months, with the 26th soon to its ally in Washington DC, ostensibly to attract investors, results must come in soon to justify those trips.

The pledges which his DTI secretary keeps preening about must soon become real, hard investments.

Show me the money, whether dollars, euros or yen, the people will soon ask.

The other test has to do with inflation, particularly food inflation.

Unfortunately, for whatever April Fools joke was played upon our then presidential candidate in April 2022 on the campaign trail, to promise 20-peso rice per kilo, the test will be most difficult to hurdle.

When the poorest of our poor have to make do with 45 pesos per kilo of “binlid” or broken rice, and the middle class have to fork 60 pesos per kilo for “pwede na” rice, that 20 pesos is chimera, a fool’s joke.

But even if our people understand that 20 pesos may be impossible, bringing down the price of good enough rice to 40 pesos may also be undoable.

This year and next, definitely undoable, not even perhaps till the end of the president’s term.

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