Carvajal: Only a mouse

After the glory of the presidency, instead of hunkering down to unite the Filipino people as was his campaign mantra, President Bongbong Marcos (PBBM) has been globetrotting for what could possibly be a craving for more glory. Could be, since by his own admission he is back in the country and into politics for the Marcos family’s survival and not for the Filipino people who still reel from the aftermath of his late dictator father’s plunder of the country.

What could unite us are, over the long term, unifying programs to directly address the problem of mass poverty and, on the short term, some hard-nosed strategies to bring down the prices of commodities, improve the wages and productivity of workers and small farmers respectively, and mitigate the ravages of floods and other natural calamities.

His trip to Davos is instead divisive as a significant number of people disagree with his indirect approach to economic development. Indirect, because PBBM thinks with his economic advisers that a high rate of growth is the answer to our economic woes, that growing the assets and profits of the richest will result in more economic benefits trickling down to the poorest of Filipinos.

He claims to have gone to Davos for positioning in the new global economy, but he was really positioning the businesses of the richest families for maximum growth in the post-pandemic economy on the unwritten assumption that the bigger their businesses grow, the bigger the trickle that would go down to the 55 percent of the population who fall below the poverty line.

He might have opened, as he claims, trade and investment opportunities for the country. But in reality those opportunities will be availed of by the country’s big businesses and benefit them directly while the rest of the country have to wait for the trickle effect to reach them, if ever they do.

Otherwise, why would a country least able to afford it have the biggest retinue (more than 70) and stay the longest (four days) in expensive Davos? Okay, half he says are private and spending for themselves, but half of 70 or 35 is still bigger than the 17 of wealthy U.S.’s delegation. Why would the country’s business and political elite wine and dine in Davos if not to put their businesses in a position to cash in on trade opportunities and grow exponentially in the new global economy?

It was the height of insensitivity to hobnob with leaders of the world’s richest countries when he should be home to face his people’s problems personally and squarely. As concurrent Agriculture Secretary, for instance, he could focus his executive powers on rescuing small farmers from the quagmire of low productivity and thus put more food on the latter’s table.

But no, PBBM must glory in moving big mountains in the world economy. Sadly, however, as an old and famous proverb has it, when mountains roar, labor and move what comes out is only a mouse.