Top 10 news of 2016

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last December 27, 2016.

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Since government by nature consists of force and coercion, legislation and regulation, mandatory contribution and taxation, it naturally creates division among people anywhere in the world. Those who benefit from welfarism are happy while those who are affected by endless regulations and taxation express the opposite sentiment.

Below is my list of top 10 news around the world in 2016, five international and five national/regional.

INTERNATIONAL

1 “Brexit.” British voters opted last June to exit from the European Union (EU), a regional government that allows free trade and free mobility of people and services among member-states, but also imposes various protectionism and restrictions on goods and people mobility to countries outside the EU. This combination of free trade and trade protectionism, simpler migration for fellow EU citizens but difficult migration for non-EU people, tax harmonization and prevention of tax competition among member states, among others, have created confusion and even more animosity among the British. So far nothing is definite and details of the exit may not be known until 2019.

2 Trump victory. A big businessman without past political position but employed an unconventional campaign, President-elect Donald Trump outlasted 16 Republican rivals and then a famous Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. Not being part of the entrenched political establishment, he is known more to reverse the various regulations and high taxation policies of the Obama and Bush administrations. For instance, he plans to cut the US corporate income tax from 35% to 15%, reverse the anti-coal, anti-oil sentiments and policies, and so on.

3 Terrorist attacks in Europe. Massacres in a newspaper office and rock concert in Paris, airport bombing in Brussels, lorry attack of people in the streets of Nice, France during a Bastille Day celebration, another lorry attack of people in a Christmas shopping in Berlin. Plus some foiled attacks in other cities in Europe. To fight this kind of war, governments will need less of those deadly fighter planes, huge battle tanks and ships. Instead, they will need more drones, CCTVs, crawling small robots, cyberware. The fight is not country to country but house to house, building to buildings.

4 Syria. Endless war among many armed factions has resulted in large-scale murders and displacement by the millions. Aleppo has become the main reference point of why civil war by some proxy countries should be avoided as much as possible. The volume of civilian deaths and destruction of properties is so big.

5 Malaysia and South Korea. Big governments always invite big opportunities for big corruption and wastes, the degree just vary from country to country. In particular, the corruption scandals of Malaysian PM Najib Razak over IMDB and S. Korean President Park Geun-hye over her friend Choi Soon-sil’s involvement in government affairs have pushed their people to conduct various rallies calling for their resignations. And these leaders continue to cling to power.

PHILIPPINES

6 Duterte victory. President Rodrigo Duterte was the first Mayor to move straight to Presidency with a different campaign strategy focused on fighting criminality, drug proliferation, and corruption. Unlike the three other major candidates — former VP Jojo Binay, Sec. Mar Roxas, and Sen. Grace Poe — who all focused on more welfarism. And he got huge support from the poor, which shows that the poor are not exactly asking for more welfarism and subsidies, but are seeking increased peace and order to protect themselves against thieves, murderers, rapists, drug pushers, corrupt officials, and other criminals.

7 Drug deaths. From a campaign promise of killing 100,000 criminals if he wins, President Duterte later mentioned that “like Hitler, (I will) annihilate 3 million drug criminals.” The on-going “war on drugs” has resulted in several thousand murders so far, about one-third from police operations and two-third from vigilante-type of executions. The rule of law and its long process of police investigation and court proceedings have been sidestepped.

8 PI Obama, Pakyu EU. Before and during the ASEAN summit and related meetings last September, President Duterte has directly or indirectly lashed out against US President Obama who attended the event in Laos. President Obama and later the EU have voiced criticism over the high number of deaths and disrespect for the rule of law, not the drugs war per se. President Duterte and his avid supporters did not make a distinction between these two and thus, the expletives and harsh words. These were reported heavily in international media.

9 Marcos burial at Heroes’ Cemetery. The sneaky burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani has stirred some political upheavals that many protest rallies were held in Metro Manila and key cities in the country. Since the burial is supported by President Duterte and affirmed by the Supreme Court, the cemetery may better be renamed “Libingan ng mga Bayani at Magnanakaw” (LBM).

10 Non-assertion of territorial rights at SCS/WPS. Mid-December, the President said the Philippines and China can “share” oil in the disputed territories in South China Sea/West Philippine Sea despite an international arbitral award affirming the Philippines’ ownership in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

From this list, it seems that many people around the world are dissatisfied and disappointed with more government, more regulations, taxation and corruption. Authorities should deliver positive results in areas where stronger government is justified, to protect the people’s right to life, right to private property and right to liberty.

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President Duterte and ‘Pakyu’ EU

These are news reports from September 21 to 23, except the news on “Killings prompt ‘hesitation’ among European investors” which was published a month earlier, August 2016. I also include here the fb postings by a friend, famous commentator Bernard Ong. No further comments from me.

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From Bernard Ong, September 21, 2016:

“China supplies almost 100% of the shabu to the Philippines. Coddles the international drug lords & their syndicates. Takes over our seas & reefs. Chases Pinoy fishermen away from their traditional livelihoods. Corrupts our local officials to extract minerals in irresponsible manner.

Sounds 1000x more damaging than other countries urging the Philippines to respect universal human rights. Something we ought to be doing without anybody’s prodding.

If you must say Pakyu. Be brave, be smart. Point your Pakyus in the right direction.

Pity the die-hard followers who have to switch-on & switch-off their anti-US hatred and pro-China/Putin love.

Those who don’t suffer from mood swings due to drugs, bipolar & other conditions will find it hard keeping up with whom to bash & whom to praise. Last time I checked, the Mochas & Sassots & ThinkingPinoys that feed their confused minds are still on bashing the West (govt, media, human rights) mode. Those guys have not received the memo. Slow. Andanar is sleeping on his job.

My suggestion to die-hards is not to wait for clues from Idol’s speeches. Flip-flops do not provide useful guidance.

Just think for yourself. Think of what is best for the Philippines. Key word is think. Then you won’t bash the UN, US, EU, international media. Not that they are saints. But it is against Philippine interest to do so – we risk losing a lot (investment, aid, trade, tourism, jobs, defense) for the shallow pleasure of petting one man’s ego and venting anger. High cost, high risk, no benefit.

Ignore the leader’s mood swings. Better yet, correct him when he goes off course. Maybe he will listen to you.”

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“EU is the Philippines’ biggest foreign investor with an FDI stock of over 366 billion pesos.

EU investment is distributed among 600 companies, employing about 400,000 Filipinos, in relatively higher-paying jobs, in sectors like energy (e.g. Shell), manufacturing (e.g. Loreal, Unilever), finance (e.g. Deutsche Bank).

EU invests almost $400B overseas each year. Philippines gets only 0.1% of that. Could easily double or triple with our market potential – IF we don’t create the perception of risk by behaving like a rogue nation ruled by thugs instead of laws.

To make these numbers digestible: If the Philippines misses out on $3 billion investment in next 6 years, that means 60,000-120,000 fewer high-paying jobs, less income, less buying power, less taxes, less money for infrastructure. There are multiplier effects. Ignore at your own peril.

So “Pakyu EU”. Close the lights on your way out.”

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