Why is the Philippines poor? And how can Filipinos rise again?

Generations have passed and yet a great issue remains unresolved: why is the Philippines deathly poor? There are a lot of reasons for such, but notable are three:

1)  First problem is the ever-growing Philippine debt.

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Every Philippine president borrowed money (for the Philippines) and has not paid.  The next elected, and everyone in the motherland carries the burden of His Excellency.  Even if you did not make the loan, you will pay for it, courtesy of him.  This is the reason for deflation or the decrease in the power of our money.  The Philippine peso buys less stuff, due to some of it paying off our unpaid debts and interest.

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This debt should be dealt with.  If government is incompetent in using our income tax, plus land tax, plus VAT, SSS, philhealth, beer and tobacco tax, income tax returns; they will also be incompetent in loans of the president.  Don’t wonder why your monthly salary percent for food increases as the years go by.  As each elected government mercilessly borrows to sustain its mismanagement (plus corruption), the value of money comes closer to paper.  Inflation is a discreet killer of Filipinos.

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2)  Second issue is the centralization of Manila.

Visiting Belgium, Japan, and France; one could notice the plentiful and developed cities all over.  Riding on trains, one can see less unused land compared to the Philippines.  This is something the our nation can strive for.  Wealthy countries have deliberately made possible a variety of thriving cities.  Germany and Japan are well spaced with growing cities across their land; cities properly distanced from one another.

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The benefits are tremendous: more jobs for locations other than Manila, decongested traffic for Manila, maximised land use for the Philippines, cheap food when countryside developed, lessened population forcing themselves in Manila (informal settlers), improved transport industry, and so on.

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By taking care of the whole Philippines, not just Manila – we can help our nation grow correctly. Cities such as Iloilo, Davao, Baguio, Legaspi, if developed to be like Manila can give the Philippines a stronger chance to prosper.  Let’s not place all bets on Manila.

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3)  The third problem is,  government fails to produce a healthy business environment.

Businesses create jobs, livelihood for Filipinos.  Unfortunately, government has not produced an environment that makes business thrive.

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For example, government allowing banks to burden Filipinos in credit card debt.  Instead of bank money being loaned to businessmen, a bigger bulk of the money goes to credit card loaners.  Credit cards get high interest, so banks would rather put money in them instead of loaning to businessmen.  Capitals’ bigger bulk goes to shoppers rather than small-scale business, start-ups, etc.

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Another example where government does not support business is the high cost of electricity.  Government has not shown capability in lowering costs.  Philippines is among the top ten in the world for the highest price per kilowatt-hour.  Also the blackouts occurring every summer, damage computers, machinery.

Land ownership is another issue that makes business in the Philippines go backward.  Foreign investors would likely hesitate to invest much especially on rent.  It makes perfect sense to own land rather than pay rent.  Instead of allowing foreign investors to own land, government assumes multinational companies would spend a lot, on thin air.  Also illegal squatting is rampant and not punished – making business prospectors hesitate buying property.  Farmers, once claiming to be tenants cannot be evicted.  What if the land owner wants to sell or use the land for other purposes? The government needs to step up on our property laws and enforcement.

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Traffic is another discouragement for foreign investors.  Valuable time is lost in traffic.  Being stressed and irritated are now expected when commuting or using one’s own car.  9km travel such as Quezon City to Makati takes 1.5 hours, and isn’t getting any better.

Security is a joke not just for Filipinos, but also for investors from other countries.  Foreign nationals here must take caution for their own safety.  Kidnapping is prevalent.  Gunpoint and knife threats are possible in commute.  Even taxis are not safe as some drivers are in tandem with another to rob, rape and sometimes kill resistant passengers.  Foreign call center directors and owners are surprised some of their employees are killed on the way to work.  Why would businesses be encouraged to start here, knowing government will allow to Filipinos to die needlessly?

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For these three reasons (national debt, centralization, and anti-business environment), government has the most capability to make solid impact.  Resolving these three issues require a great amount of character, for a people, a nation.  Let us pray that God may grant us the necessary change.  May we deal with these problems, then rise and prosper as a nation.

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