Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Industrial peace may well be one of the major reasons more foreign investors are coming to the Philippines. 

Except for what appears to be token resistance against the presence of Americans in the country, there is near absolute peace and quiet in the business sector. 

These days there are fewer strikes — more of them wildcats — not only against American-owned companies but against all giant firms the left-leaning groups used to describe as “imperialist pigs.” 

The members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno are visibly quiet. Not too long ago, a handful of them paralyzed a giant garments factory with about 3,000 workers.  

The Jewish owners of the firm were forced to transfer to China where wages were as low as $2 a day.  Strikes are not allowed.  

Years before that, another garments operation owned by Indians was forced to close shop because of labor problems. 

Standard Electric, owned by Chinese-Filipinos, was probably the biggest producer of electric fans in its time. It was hit by a bad strike. It also moved to China. 

About 10,000 jobs were lost among the three of these companies.  

Times have changed. Garment factories are sprouting in my province of Batangas. The electronics assembly industry mostly located in the economic zones employ many thousands of less educated Filipinos, mostly women some of whom did not even go through high school. 

Foreign investors must be comforted by the belief the collapse of Communism in China and Russia practically put that ideology away for good. 

Apart from North Korea, the only true-blue communist country in the world fully dedicated to the ideology and in fact spends more in arming itself than in producing food for its starving millions, there is no other country in the world that promotes communist philosophy of “to each according to his needs.” 

The market-driven system works on the theory, and practice  of, to each according to his abilities.

It must be pointed out, however, the NPA, armed group of the Communist movement in the Philippines are reasonably active. 

A good number of them are students from the University of the Philippines who were tortured allegedly on orders of Gen. Jovito Palparan, tagged  as The Butcher, on unfounded suspicions they were Left-leaning.  

It bears  noting the many Leftists have joined the mainstream of society.  My own friend for at least 50 years, Satur C. Ocampo, was a member of Congress.  There are a few more of his type. 

They expressed their sentiments against the state in the halls of Congress. 

Nothing multiplies the number of rebels faster than oppression. Palparan is held for trial. That, to the foreign investor shows the justice system in the Philippines can be put to work. 

It must have occurred to the rest of the world that while China is still variously described as a Communist nation, it prospered probably the fastest in the world when Deng Shiao Peng embraced capitalism that attracted foreign investors. 

It is known that the biggest “foreign” investors in China are their Taiwanese brothers, followed by the Americans. 

The one-China policy continued to be enforced. But in it exists only for China to keep its belief that Taiwan is its province and not an independent, sovereign nation. 

All the events that transpired converted the largest communist countries in the world — China and Russia — into believing that any country that stifles an individual’s initiative will make a nation poorer. 

The centrally-planned economic system had to yield to the open and free market system. The Philippines has always believed in the open market system but threats of strident nationalist to keep the Philippines for the Filipinos has discouraged foreigners from risking capital in this country. 

To a very large extent, the philosophy of nationalism prevented the Philippine economy from growing fast with its neighbors. The old Charter kept the Philippines a “closed” economy. 

Foreigner’s equity or capital was limited to 40 percent in the most risky business of exploitation of natural resources such as mining. The nationalization of the retail trade prevented faster distribution of goods and services in the country. 

The Chinese who are known to be the best in retail trade were driven to larger pursuits such as banking and other big businesses the “natives” did not seem to have the capability of doing. President Garcia’s “Filipino First” policy was more of a political than economic slogan. 

The country has learned the benefits of opening up not painfully but gainfully. The world has shrunk.  There is hardly any nation that considers itself as an  island of its own.  The  country has been globalized.

The Philippines is in that globe.

The most recent law allowing foreigners to own banks in this country is another step towards sustainable growth. Graft and corruption remains the bane of business. It will kill itself as we recognize the fact that it does not help make nation grow.

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