"Live Long and Prosper."
In a couple of days, we start the new year 2020 ending what I think is one of the most eventful years of a disruptively exciting decade. Quite interesting and reflective of 2019 are the “Words of the year” chosen by the leading dictionaries based on online searches.
Merriam-Webster, the dictionary that we Baby Boomers grew up with (no search engines in those years) chose the pronoun “they” now used as a “more inclusive” and gender-neutral pronoun instead of “he” or “she.” Dictionary.com chose “existential,” often linked with raging issues on climate change and violence.
As a retrospective year-ender, here is a top 10 list of my op-ed articles based on Facebook hits, courtesy of social media monitoring data from consumer groups CitizenWatch.ph, BK3 (Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente), environmental advocacy group Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship, and the Stratbase Group. Here they are with theme snippets:
10th-Vote for the trustworthy. “The elections represent one of the few rare opportunities in which the Filipino people, long mired in systemic problems exacerbated by corruption, can break the status quo and begin the genuine struggle for profound change.”
9th-Eclipsing a bigger crisis. “Alongside the military and political theaters of the ongoing row in the South China Sea is the potentially more urgent matter of keeping the marine ecosystem in the area alive until it’s too late.”
8th-The growing specter in ASEAN. “On the part of the Philippine government, the 2016 Arbitral Award is the strongest leverage that our representatives must use to inspire ASEAN states to uphold international law for sustainable peace and prosperity in the region. Stakes are high and the consequences will hit all of us should the ASEAN fail to reverse this growing specter of conflict.”
7th-Acting On The Garbage Crisis. “Secretary Cimatu rightly pointed out the need to modernize the inefficient and outdated solid waste management systems, develop and enhance the policy approaches for plastic waste management and a holistic or balanced approach to policy interventions.”
“A smarter approach other than the traditional regulatory tools imposing bans or taxes is to focus on instilling discipline for consumers to responsibly dispose of trash in parallel with enabling policies that encourage new innovations for packaging materials and waste management systems,” Stratbase Group managing director and CEO, professor Dindo Manhit said.
6th-Green energy without subsidy. “Renewables can be a game-changer, and it is only through a strategically balanced mix of power sources and enough plants that we can cross that tightrope between growth and environmental stewardship.”
5th-A smarter approach. “Instead of banning plastics, some experts support a smarter approach that focuses on more innovation of plastic packaging. Governments should support the development of new technologies that use plants to create biodegradable plastics that disintegrate and break down and may even be used as compost material.”
Stratbase Group managing director and CEO, professor Dindo Manhit said, “A smarter approach other than the traditional regulatory tools imposing bans or taxes is to focus on instilling discipline for consumers to responsibly dispose of trash in parallel with enabling policies that encourage new innovations for packaging materials and waste management systems.”
4th-World without waste. “All businesses big and small must do their share. But while the technological know-how to manage plastic waste might be at hand, changing behavior might be trickier. No matter how robust our waste management systems become, the people component must also be present.”
3rd-Borrowing and taxing for Build, Build, Build, “While there is no question that an infrastructure push is long overdue, the sheer size of the projects involved also make it imperative that we closely watch these trillion-peso deals. After all, for every loan and every new tax measure, the burden inevitably accrues to the ordinary Filipino.”
2nd-1,200 new megawatts by December, “Hopefully, the Supreme Court will see the folly of this tactic and favor the strategic significance of the DOE’s first successful CSP. [This] template should spark a surge of pro-consumer bids to reboot the long pending PSAs stranded for years in bureaucratic limbo. If we don’t get these megawatts in time, the first to suffer from the inconvenience, the inflationary effect of brownouts and higher power rates will be the poor sectors of the country which, ironically again, these leftist groups so loudly shout to represent and fight for. Deceivingly, this is their objective.”
1st-45 yellow alerts and counting. “For any government, political survival will be precarious when these basic public services critical to the whole spectrum of society start disrupting the already burdened way of life of its people. Failing to deliver adequate, reliable, and affordable water and electricity will be a showstopper for the country’s economic momentum and a will be a self-inflicted blow to the Duterte administration.”
These Open Thoughts “top hits” for 2019, like this year’s “Words of the year,” aptly echo the people’s sentiments on the complex issues of the environment, delivery of public utilities, power and energy, water, the West Philippine Sea and Beijing’s continuing disrespect for the rule of law and of course, our local politics and governance problems, all in the context of gut consumer interests. Concerning as these challenges are, Filipinos have been consistently hopeful that next year will be better as shown in the recent Pulse Asia survey. A testament to our people’s unbeatable resilience and our “existential” strength as a nation.
To quote my favorite Trekkie salutation or blessing if you may: “LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!”