Carvajal: Quo vadis, Philippines

As recently reported, this administration will be ready with its development plan by next month. Thence we will know where in the vast development ocean President Marcos Jr. is bringing this country and its people. By the look of things, we have simply been drifting since he took office.

Not that we knew before where exactly we were going. Not when every previous administration drew up its own plans. Which is most probably why Philippine development has been moving sideways and never veritably forward. We have never pursued a poverty-eradication-focused long term development agenda.

Highly paid technocrats who live comfortable lives and know nothing of the travails of the poor craft these plans. Done for the short term, never beyond the sitting President’s watch, plans are usually designed merely as easy-to-accomplish performance standards that can be used as campaign propaganda for the next elections.

Thus, as implemented these plans have consistently proven to simply alleviate and not substantially solve the problem of mass poverty. This requires a long term solution that should be consistently and doggedly pursued by all succeeding administrations.

The problem of the marginalized sector with development plans is that only political dynasties get the power to draft them. The latter have exclusive control of government and the economy and thus make plans based on their preferred assumption, which is that what is good for their family’s business interests is what is good for the whole country.

Hence, billions are budgeted and spent for infrastructure development which directly benefits the rich and powerful decision-makers of the country and their businesses but only marginally, from the trickle effect, their underpaid workers, the neglected producers of their food, undernourished (ironic?) farmers and fishermen.

That brings me to the point I don’t mind harping on ad nauseam. The worker-farmer-fisherfolk-class must have a voice in government. And this voice must be institutionalized through a government-funded party system that facilitates this sector’s formation of a political party that will carry its voice in government.

Of course, the worker-farmer-fisher folk party will have to take its chances during elections. But at least it has a chance, unlike now when the poor are simply played for suckers (with offers of cash, jobs and disaster aid) by the candidates of political dynasties.

Nothing in our political horizon tells me this is happening soon. Yet, it must eventually. If the lot of workers, farmers and fisher folks is to improve the latter must be provided with a system of direct participation in development planning.

The latter need to supply a substantial part of the answer to the question “quo vadis, Philippines.” Otherwise, direct solutions to mass poverty will get the usual marginal consideration in the development plans of political dynasties.