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Friday, May 31, 2013

THE ROLE OF OVERSEAS U.S. MILITARY BASES IN U.S. GEOPOLITICAL STRATEGY

US IMPERIALISM---ITS SUBTLE AND NOT SO SUBTLE METHODS:

THE TOLL ON PEOPLE'S LIVES AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Dante C. Simbulan, Ph.D.*

INTRODUCTION

Imperialism has not really changed through the ages. It has attempted to change its stripes but it has retained its substance. The old Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish, British, French, and the American Empires have much the same policies, goals and objectives which are: the policy and practice of extending or expanding its power and dominion over other nations, either by direct conquest and territorial expansion or by more subtle and not so subtle methods in order to impose its authority and influence over the captive nations, or both.

This domination extends to all spheres of human activity---it seeks to impose its will on the economic, political, social and cultural life of the victim nation. Old Imperialism does this mainly through the use of force, coercion and intimidation. Its modern-day practitioners, however, use a combination of methods.

MODERN-DAY IMPERIALISM

The modern-day imperialists have learned from the bad experiences of old imperialism and have modified and improved their methods. 

Their methods are largely influenced by the main engine which drives imperialist expansion: Global Capitalism. 

Driven by greed for more and more profits, the imperialists seek:

- the control of territories that are sources of cheap raw materials to 
feed their hungry factories---oil and gas, iron ore for making steel products, copper, nickel, silver, tin, manganese, etc.;

- the control of sources of cheap labor, usually from former colonies in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

- the control of areas in the world where excess capital can be profitably invested, generating vast wealth and super profits that they bring home to their countries (which explains their `prosperity' and higher standards of living), but leaving the masses of peoples in the countries they victimize poor and hungry and their lands devastated and robbed of their wealthy and resources;

- the control of profitable markets for their manufactured goods, for business and for trade, usually in the densely populated countries of the world with the ability to buy their manufactured goods, technology and services. 

This capitalist engine propel the imperialist country to expand and extend its tentacles all over the globe. Its working slogans are: Free Trade, Globalization, Privatization, Liberalization, Deregulation, etc. It promises "development", "growth", and "prosperity." 

In practice, however, only the wealthy few have developed, have grown and have prospered. In practice, the sharks have devoured the minnows. The big has eliminated the small. The rich have become richer while the hundreds and hundreds of millions of the world's poor have become poorer!

Modern-day Imperialism uses more subtle and crafty ways to attain its goals. It operates insidiously, always waiting for the opportunity to entrap its victims. It employs deceptive ways of gaining its foreign policy objectives, whether these be economic, political, social, cultural and military. 

The art of deception has been perfected by the practitioner of imperialism, liberally using euphemisms, that is, the substitution of agreeable or inoffensive language for one that more accurately describes reality but which suggests something unpleasant. For instance, they use the word "aid", instead of the word bribe which better describes the intent of their acts. (cf. "The Art of Keeping Power" in "The Modern Principalia: The Historical Evolution of the Philippine Ruling Oligarchy" by Dante C. Simbulan, Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press, 2007, Chap. 5).

Modern-day imperialism uses many guises, hides behind many masks. It would camouflage or hide its real foreign policy goals and objectives by emphasizing instead its "intention" of spreading democracy, freedom and human rights throughout the world. The aim is to cloak or hide its real economic and power goals. 

The attainment of these objectives, of course, are extremely detrimental and harmful to the peoples of the captive nations, but they could be very enticing to the native ruling elites who see the prospect of getting more wealthy, thereby increasing their power and dominance over the masses of the people they rule if they join the imperialist bandwagon.

The use of compliant native rulers---the mercenary elites, corrupt oligarchs, military dictators, and just plain undisguised puppets---is another common technique of the imperialist. Their names have changed through time--- from the pejorative vassals and rulers of protectorates and client states, to the more appealing "friends and allies", and "partners in defending democracy and freedom" in the world.

AID AS AN INSTRUMENT OF DOMINATION AND CONTROL

One of the major findings in my study of ruling elite practices in the Philippines--- how they acquire and keep power---is the use of the poverty, the powerlessness and the ignorance of the masses as an entry point in further dominating and controlling them. After exploiting them and taking control of their lands through deception and other means, (which are the very reasons for their poverty), they suddenly emerge during periods of natural calamities such as floods, fires, earthquakes, etc. to express their sympathy to the victims. They suddenly become compassionate "philanthropists", bringing food and other aid to the very people they have exploited and impoverished for so long. (Incidentally, this is also how they win so-called "elections", which are nothing more than periodic competitions among members of the oligarchy, the ruling family dynasties).

The imperialists use similar methods of deception and manipulation, this time on a global scale. They feign compassion and pity for the starving millions in Darfur, the tsunami victims of Indonesia and South Asia, the typhoon and landslide victims and the hungry poor of the war-torn provinces of Southern Philippines, the cyclone victims of Myanmar, and the starving millions of Zimbabwe and Somalia.

The aid comes with many strings attached. The US and other donors want it known from whom it is coming from. They come with big markings such as USAID, GIFT OF THE USA, etc, and delivered with great publicity by U.S cargo planes and helicopters. 

An interesting case is the offer of aid from the US government to cyclone-devastated Myanmar (Burma). Indeed, the destructive cyclone caused massive loss of lives and widespread devastation. International help was badly needed for the victims and survivors suffering from hunger. The UN, through its World Food Program, the International Red Cross, and other international organizations like SEATO all offered to help. All these were eventually accepted. But there was a hitch when the US offered to fly its own aid and some of the aid coming from international organizations and other countries through its military C-130s and Marine helicopters. The US military asked access to all parts of Myanmar affected by the cyclone. The military rulers of Myanmar, always suspicious of the US because of its hostility to the regime and its open support to the political opposition (which want the military junta toppled), coupled with its "regime-change" and interventionist record in the world, refused the request. They asked the US to channel their aid, instead, through the International relief organizations. Bush, after calling the leaders of Myanmar "heartless" for not allowing the US have its way, ordered the withdrawal of its naval vessels and its helicopters from nearby Thailand. It is not known if they left their relief goods with the UN or international organizations for distribution or if they brought it back with them.

The usual line of the imperialist-giver of aid is that their concern for the world's poor and hungry millions motivate them to help for "humanitarian" reasons. But the truth is, the US and rich donor-states always tie aid to their foreign policy goals. Sometimes also, the hunger and the need for food and medicine of the people come following economic sanctions imposed by the US and western nations because the government of the target countries refuse to conform or behave according to their demands. This is the case of Zimbabwe and Somalia, both of which are given treatment akin to "rogue" states because of their refusal to bend to the will of the imperialists.

According to an article by the UN InterPress Service, aid in the form of loans or grants are usually accompanied by the following conditions:

1) Support for the foreign policy goals of the donor;

2) Recipient must purchase products only from the donor;

3) Recipient has no control or say on how aid money is spent (the donor determines this.)

( UN Interpress Service, "Tied Aid Strangling Nations", July 6, 2004)

ODA, or Official Development Assistance, is designed to "promote development and welfare of developing countries" It is concessional in character, with a grant element of at least 25% and consists of loans, grants, and technical assistance extended by rich governments to developing countries of the Third World. 

Outwardly, there is little to object in these 3 elements of ODA: 1) that it is official (government) aid; 2) the main objective is the promotion of economic development and welfare of the recipient country; and 3) the loans granted are made with "concessional" terms, with at least 25% in grants.

But coming from official governments with a hidden agenda, they are also subjected to unwritten conditions of the donor (just like USAID). The US, for instance, would not agree to granting ODA loans to a country that is opposed to US foreign policy.

In sum, USAID and aid coming from the rich countries are accompanied with a lot of unwritten conditions which, in the final analysis benefits more the donor than the recipient. Aid does not only maintain the dominance and control of the wealthy donor in its hegemonist aims but also strengthens their stranglehold on the recipient who is expected to be grateful and submissive to their will. Aid is also a good public relations gimmick, similar to the "goodwill" that business people often employ. It also facilitates access to the target country, especially to the economic opportunities that may be present there or for the intelligence and information gathering agencies of the imperialist country.

US MILITARY AID AS AN INSTRUMENT OF DOMINATION AND CONTROL

The military, by its very nature, is a tool of the ruling elites to protect their interests and to safeguard their rule. They will, of course, insist that it is not their interest but the "national interests" that is to be protected. But, the so-called "national interests" in an elite-dominated setting really equate, by and large, to the interests of those who are dominant in society. In an imperial setting, these are the global corporate elites---the giant oil companies, the financial conglomerates, the captains of industries, the trading moguls, the military elites, etc. who have spread their tentacles all over the world.

The real mission of the US military is to protect and defend the empire. The Pentagon has deployed US military forces throughout the world in bases and installations spread out in all the continents, ready to act on any perceived threat to the "national security" of the US [read: threat to the security of the U.S. empire]. Has any other country done this before, that is, divide the world into "global operating commands" just to protect its so-called "national interests"? The US has done so and placed each Command under a top general or admiral with specific mission to protect and defend US "national interests" [again, read: the interests of the empire] in their respective areas of responsibility. These Global Operating Commands are:

US Northern Command (US NORTHCOM, to include US and Canada, Alaska, up to the Arctic region;

US Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM, to include Central America, the whole continent of South America, and the Caribbean)

US European Command (US EUROCOM, which include both Western and Eastern Europe

US Pacific Command (US PACOM, covering East Asia, South Asia, and Oceania)

US Central Command (US CENCOM, covering the Middle East, Central Asia and East Africa)

US African Command (New—rest of the African continent)

Other COMMANDS, with Global Areas of Responsibility:

US Special Operations Command (Crisis Response, Rapid Deployment, Counter-insurgency forces; The JSOTF-P, Joint Special Opns Task Force operating in Mindanao, Philippines falls under this Command.) It has surreptitiously inserted itself in Southern Philippines and its commanders are freely operating in the General Headquarters of the AFP in Camp Aguinaldo, Q.C.

US Transportation Command, tasked to transport US military forces anywhere in the world.

US Strategic Command

US Joint Forces Command

*The CIA and the FBI have likewise been tasked to expand their area of responsibility to anywhere around the world! It is not surprising for the CIA to be operating around the world, for it has already expanded its operations a long time ago. Hence it has its African Division, a Far East Division, a Near East Division, a Western Hemisphere Division, a Central American Task Force, Operations Groups in Iraq, Nicaragua, South Asia, etc. (See John Prados, "Secret Wars of the CIA", Chicago: Ivan R.Dee, 2006)
But the FBI, which is a domestic investigating agency of the Justice Department, normally operating in the United States, has now embarked on many overseas operations. It arrests suspected "terrorists" in supposedly sovereign and independent countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries of Africa and the Middle East. It is indeed acting like the policeman of the world, ready to exercise "police powers" in any part of the world in violation of the independence and sovereign rights of countries, UN principles and international law to which, the US says, it subscribes!

The newly-created US African Command is an interesting case of a growing rivalry on "turf" between the Pentagon and the State Department.

While the initial concept in the creation of the African Command is to facilitate or lead combat operations in Africa, the Pentagon is assuming more and more powers and responsibilities, including diplomatic roles, that are not part of its mandate. During the tenure of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the concept of applying "soft power to reduce conflict" began to be applied. This include an economic assistance program, begun in Iraq and Afghanistan, and proposed to be applied worldwide. In Africa, the US Defense Department has military, economic, humanitarian, counter-terrorism and intelligence/information programs. These programs have penetrated Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Mali, Chad, Nigeria and Mauritania. Since October, 2002, A US Combined Task Force had established a presence in the Horn of Africa. It now has at least 1,500 US military and civilians in Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. The US was also able to prod Ethiopia (with substantial economic and military aid) to invade Somalia, remove the Islamic leaders from power and replace them with leaders more friendly to the US government. 

The question to ask is: why this massive deployment on a global scale? 

The usual excuses of 

1) protecting democracy and freedom;

2) responding to threats to the security of the US coming from anywhere in the world; 

3) conducting anti-terrorism and anti-drug missions; and 

3) [sic] easy and convenient way to respond when "aid" and other "humanitarian" missions are needed anywhere in the world. Indeed, a listing of "good reasons" but silent on the REAL REASONS!

US MILITARY AID AS AN INSTRUMENT OF REPRESSION

The recipients of US military aid in Third World countries are either (1) those who are willing to act as surrogates of the US in military adventures, or (2) unpopular regimes who fear their own people (but are loyal and friendly to the US) and are willing to support US foreign policy goals. Although these regimes have installed socially unjust structures and have used the military and the police to protect and maintain these structures, still their usefulness to the US counts a lot to the hegemonists. 

The Philippines, for instance, is an example of a regime publicized loudly as a "democracy" by the US. Yet, from its inception as a nation-state, the Philippines have had governments established by the foreign powers that colonized it (Spain for more than 300 years and the US for more than half a century), that were led by these colonial overlords, assisted by selected native collaborators. When the American colonial administration finally abandoned direct rule, they entrusted political power to these few wealthy families who remained loyal lackeys, became a very compliant and submissive group to any US demand. This is the reason why, today, the US still remain as overlord in the Philippines. 

The people who dominate every aspect of life in the Philippines are still the few wealthy families who do not truly represent the interests of the vast majority. They are a tiny group, an "oligarchy composed of plutocrats, of wealthy people, whose source of power is not the sovereign will of the people, but mainly the possession of wealth and other requisites of influence that have been acquired through the immoral and questionable use of such wealth." (Simbulan, Modern Principalia, op. cit., p. xix) This oligarchy has been in power for centuries and its abuses and oppression of the common people have resulted in numerous revolts and uprisings. It is also the reason why the vast majority of Filipinos, the masses, are mired in poverty and are the victims of disease, illiteracy and backward beliefs and superstition.

Today, this ruling oligarchy has donned a "democratic" attire and its members are supposed to be elected to public office in periodic elections. But the candidates always come from the few dynastic families who manipulate the elections and the electorate "through various methods, including the widespread use of bribery and buying of votes, .... the buying off of journalists and other media people to act as their public relations agents, to look the other way when they commit criminal acts, or to coerce or even have them killed if they become too defiant or they do not cooperate." (Modern Principalia, Ibid.) 

In short, this is the kind of democracy that the US is protecting with its military aid, a democracy devoid of substance, a façade conveniently used by the ruling elites to camouflage their monopoly of power, a democracy of, by and for the oligarchs. And this regime is riddled with corruption. It seeks to preserve itself, only by using the military and the police to stifle dissent and opposition from the people. And thanks to the weapons, the instruments of death and the military skills to kill fellow Filipinos provided by the US, the corrupt regime still manages to survive. So far.

THE HEAVY TOLL ON HUMAN LIVES AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Modern Imperialism, with its accompanying methods of maintaining and defending its system of rule, exacts a heavy toll on the lives of the peoples of the world, particularly on the poor and defenseless nations of the Third World.

The support it extends to corrupt and repressive regimes, has prolonged the processes of social transformation. It prompts and encourages wars against peoples movements that seek to free their country and people from the domination by foreign overlords and native oligarchies. The history of the struggles for national liberation of peoples in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East attest to this. 

In the process of these necessary struggles, the imperialists and their native underlings target not only the revolutionaries and their families, but also unarmed civilians who support the clamor for change: for land reform, for a people-oriented economy and social institutions, for a government truly representative of the people's interest, for a true and authentic democracy, for a truly sovereign and independent country, etc. Are these crimes, are these subversive of the people's interests? Yet the ruling oligarchy has declared an all-out war waged by their military and police forces. Their psychological warfare specialists and highly-paid propagandists have demonized their perceived targets as "enemies of the state", "threats to democracy and freedom" and even as "terrorists". They are then prepared for the kill and their hired assassins, goons and killers do the rest. 

The grim results of this US-backed wars against the people clamoring for meaningful social change are well-publicized in the Philippines and abroad: the heavy toll on human lives, the gross violations and wanton disregard for human rights, the assassinations and summary executions, murders, kidnappings and enforced disappearances, tortures, dislocation of village communities, disregard for constitutional and legal rights, illegal arrests, arbitrary detentions, etc. (Under the Arroyo regime alone, more than 900 victims of extra-judicial killings, summary and arbitrary execution, and nearly 200 cases of enforced disappearances have been recorded from 2001 to the present.) 

Only five days ago, on June 12, 2008, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines lamented the continued suppression of human rights in the country. In his keynote speech delivered before a large crowd at the Andres Bonifacio monument in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, he stated that:

1) The government has failed to stop the unexplained killings and enforced disappearances of activists (most of the victims oppose the existing ideology of the ruling elites);

2) Extra-legal killings are still happening;

3) Political, economic and civil rights are largely being suppressed in the country;

4) Our freedom [kalayaan] has not been won completely

5) Election s are still a sham. "The people can no longer put in power the candidates that they voted for."

6) The people's socio-economic rights are undermined

7) Nearly 25 million Filipinos live a hand-to-mouth existence (trans. Of "isang kayod, isang tuka")

8) We are still the victims of foreign exploitation. "Direct foreign rule has been replaced by foreign economic domination."

Indeed, no less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has affirmed what the people's movement for genuine change have been saying all along!

THE SOCIAL COSTS OF EMPIRE-BUILDING AND IMPERIALIST AGGRESSION

The heavy toll on people's lives and human rights in the Philippines are duplicated in many parts of the world. They all have a common root: the continuing attempts to protect and expand the US empire result in acts of aggression against nations and peoples of the world. The Imperialist practice of employing willing tools, mercenaries and collaborators results in more killings and violence. If we review the historical record of the master who manipulate the puppet-strings, we can see the crimes committed not only against the people's of the world but also against the American people themselves. It will reveal tell us about the:

Nations who were decimated in a genocidal killing spree in order to acquire their lands, rich in oil and other natural wealth (the deliberate extermination of the Indian nations of America); 

Nations who lost their sovereignty and independence, whose cultural identity as a nation disappeared and was replaced with the decadent culture of the foreign colonizers;

Nations who have been reduced to "hewers of wood and drawers of water" (as the Filipino nationalist Claro M. Recto called them), and have become servants of foreigners in their own land and overseas!

In the US, the ruling elites who manipulate the levers of power (in the economic, political, social, cultural spheres) still succeed in deluding the American people that they are not imperialists, that they are the good guys going out of their way to save the world from the bad guys; that they are fighting wars in the middle east and elsewhere, not for oil and other resources, but to liberate the people there from dictators like Saddam (who, by the way was one of their good friend at some time earlier). As a result, many Americans still allow their sons and daughters, many of them in their teens and fresh from high school, to be sacrificed in a war they do not really understand. All they are told is that they are fighting to defend America, to defend democracy and freedom throughout the world. 

But as the years pass, millions of the American people are beginning to see the reality; they are beginning to distinguish the truth from the lies that their leaders like Bush, Cheney and the neocons have been spouting out. More and more Americans are beginning to open their eyes and see the many crimes committed by the greedy overlords of the Empire against the peoples of the world. 

A few months ago, I attended a huge conference of representatives of progressive organizations in the U.S. There were about 2,000 delegates in all and for several days they discussed the issues facing America and the world. I left the conference with high hopes that this movement is going to prosper and grow, that it will eventually be a progressive majority and that, sooner or later, it will be a force to reckon with in US politics.

WHEN THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

I foresee the time when the victims and oppressed people's of the world will finally succeed in uniting with the progressive forces and solidarity groups in the US, the West, and the rest of the world. I foresee the time when the American Empire will suffer the same fate as that of the Roman, Ottoman, Spanish, British and other empires that preceded it. I can see the handwriting on the wall: that no empire can withstand the people's wrath; that their struggle for human dignity, real and genuine independence, authentic democracy will be victorious and that their determined goal to destroy the shackles that bind them will, in the end, prevail!

*Founding Director, Centre for the Study of Social Change


Retired Professor of Political Science and Government
First Executive Director, Church Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, Washington, D.C.
Political Prisoner of the Marcos Dictatorship

Time for action is now

By Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ


My friend Romeo Encarnacion in a recent article was asking how Europe can be competitive or, for that matter, the Philippines. He thought the Europeans were innovative but their objective was style and elegance while the Americans thrived on problem-solving in achieving objectives and comfort. The 2008 financial meltdown elicited two different reactions. Europe went into austerity while the US went to pumping money into the economy and low interest rates.

The Philippines did not go into austerity but neither did it make full use of the opportunity. It stayed with easy money but did not pump the money which could have jerked us out of the jobless doldrums that we are going through. I remember in the sixties Taiwan pumped money into the economy by cementing all the roads possible. (Which by the way is the only way to keep good roads is in the tropics with our torrential rains. Asphalt roads cannot last more than three or four years.) The past year has seen more cementing roads in Mindanao than ever but not enough. What are we afraid of? The money is there and it should be pumped into the economy to perk things up. I think we are pointed in the right direction but we are doing it oh so tentatively.  We are testing the temperature of the water with our toes rather than diving in.

We are doing well but we have to wake up.  Our statistics show that about a third of our population still suffer from intermittent hunger.  We have sent ten million of our people abroad to look for jobs as menial workers, breaking a good number of families. Why can we not be bold? In Keynesian economics, it is government spending that is within the control of a nation to get out of doldrums. We are afraid. We are afraid of corruption. We are afraid to fail. Or we are just inept and unable to set goals and pursue those goals?

We still have plenty of roads to cement, water and drainage systems to construct in almost every city in the country. We have other infra structures to build.  We are told that infra structures will be built but three years have already passed and there is not much being done but bickering.  Rail systems have to be built. No self-respecting city will not have an adequate rail system. The Manila elevated is God sent to a lot of people but already inadequate. Try riding it if you can without being smashed. Of course this is also true of other cities like Tokyo and others.

After the elections now is the time for some action.  I know of a group that is planning a magazine for action plans. That may not be enough. Everyone should do soothing to help our politicians fulfil their promises, to do something that will create jobs even if just a few. The Pangtawid Program has been a boon. Some are suggesting that we also initiate food for work programs just as Roosevelt did to get out of the depression and some of our politicians have tried.

The electric supply in Mindanao is a disaster. We need to bid out the large hydros of the government which had up to 2011 to be disposed of by law. And yet we are still dilly dallying to put them on the block. It is true that only the big boys will be able to bid but our big boys have been responsible, as with the experience with the water system of Manila.  If they are not then that is the time to check them but we must not be bamboozled into inaction.  Higher price for the electricity is infinitely better than the brown outs that are happening at present. We need to be bold a bit or a good bit. 

emeterio_barcelon@yahoo.com

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

OBSTACLE TO ECONOMIC GROWTH -- BSP'S EXCHANGE RATE POLICY


Indeed, government policies can make or unmake business.

In the face of significant and steady dollar inflows from OFWs, BPOs, exports, and hot foreign funds that increase dollar supply, BSP's P1.8-TRILLION Special Deposit account (SDA) facility constricts and reduces peso supply, thereby strengthening and appreciating the local currency vs. the dollar--making imported goods more affordable to importers owing to less pesos needed in paying the dollar importation costs, with consequent more patronage of cheap imports than costly locally-manufactured and produced products. 

Thus, while Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) professes to adhere to free market foreign exchange rate, it actually vitiates free market through hampering the free operation of peso and dollar supply and demand in the foreign exchange market--by way of drastically curtailed peso supply frozen and immobilized in its SDA facility.     

What BSP failed to do was to similarly manage the dollar-supply side of the peso-dollar exchange rate equation--the exchange rate determinant--such as through reducing dollar supply through promoting OFW families' high-yielding dollar deposits in BSP-conduit banks, which can partly discourage their consumption spending. BSP will shoulder the OFW-deposit interest cost in exchange for its interest expense wasted on the SDA facility, which should have been abolished or at least substantially reduced since years ago. BSP rejected my suggestion for fallacious reason....  BSP did not also institute any measure that would discourage the inflow of hot foreign funds, flocking to the Philippines simply because the economic turmoil in other parts of the world (like Europe) has not fully eased. Except in rare cases of initial stock offering, the bullish local stock market fueled by volatile foreign funds does not necessarily benefit local industries and corporations. There is no cash inflow to them that they can use in capacity expansion--because the numerous stock market transactions merely involve change in owners or corporate stockholders.       

The result:  cheap imported goods forconsumers, many of whom do not have purchasing power because members of their families lost jobs in local production and businesses that could not survive from the onslaught of cheap foreign competition.  

Not all is well, however, with globalization. FREE-MARKET PRICING at WHAT THE MARKET CAN BEAR has in some products counteracted the beneficial effects of liberalization. It took the Cheap Medicines Act to reduce by half the ultra expensive prices of medicines.  In the case of agrochemicals used by our farmers, nothing is done to mitigate high prices of as much as four times those prevailing in competitor neighboring countries, making local farmers uncompetitive.  

Worse, interest expense on the SDA facility was the largest contributor to BSP's annual net loss, which balooned to a whopping P95-billion (yes, BILLION) for 2012, prompting it to run to the national government for assistance, otherwise my prediction in an earlier email that the central bank will go bankrupt again will materialize--just like the way its predecessor, the now defunct Central Bank of the Philippines, went bankrupt from high-interest-incurring central bank "Jobo" bills in the 1980s.

M. L. Tecson

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DAN BROWN'S INFERNO; GATES OF HELL OR PARADISE?


     Mr. Dan Brown, the celebrated author of the Da Vinci Code, has just published Inferno, where Dr. Sienna Brooks characterizes Manila as "the gates of hell." 

     Those of us who fought to help restore free expression as a basic human right are for more speech, not less. So, forget any lawsuit.

     Let others say the worst of us; we'll simply have to do better or our very best.

     The eternal dilemma is what do you do with a snake oil salesman in the community? Do you ignore him? Or do you denounce him and risk attracting more custom for him?

     Given our supposed heated response I had to buy a copy of Mr. Brown's Inferno for a discounted $23.00 (in Philadelphia; I had flown there. to attend the May 23 Rutgers U graduation of our daughter, Lara, as a Doctor of Philo - Childhood Studies - full scholar - which I hope will include Second Childhood in which our generation may now be in).Early on, I saw Mr. Brown's infelicitous use of  "mutual friend" (page 73) to characterize one who, I easily recalled, Erap would correctly call "a common friend."  Imagine Erap teaching Mr. Brown remedial English and how to develop a passion for precision in expression? (In our time, we had great English teachers, from "peacetime"; without them not even K-20 would work.)

     Pages 351-53 contain the contentious passages of Dr. Sienna Brooks being chased and assaulted;  my sense was she prevented rape, not by her timely consent, but the seasonable intervention of some tiny old woman who persuaded the malefactors with raging  hormones to cool it and run away by knifing one of them at the back. A stab wound that can affect one's metabolism can change minds and quiet any venereal commotion. 

    Gang-rape has just been reported again in North and South America but not in the crowded inner cities of Metro Manila where the presence of so many people could defuse rampaging hormones.

    For Dr. Sienna to leave the Philippines and her medical team  hurriedly, without telling anyone, not the local police nor the American Embassy, is quite a stretch which strains our credulity to the breaking point. Fictive, given her high IQ of 208 and the guts she showed in the book.

   "I grew up Catholic. I know sin." P. 58. (In Erich Segal's Love Story, Ali McGraw characterized herself as being two out of three on being assessed as a 1) good, 2) Roman Catholic, and 3 girl.)

    True, Dr. Sienna said "salamat" to the old woman with the rusty knife, who quickly left without being rewarded or even identified. Do we lose tourists because of Inferno? Maybe but recent widely-reported sorry gang-rapes in North and South America and India this year may help minimize this downside for us.

    Traffic gridlocks of six hours? In my 73 years, our problematic traffic would only grind to a halt when Luzon is under water.

    You may read this while I am airborrne, and for all our faults, I find NAIA a gateway  to paradise. I find Mr. Brown's repeated sacrifice of accuracy for effect disappointing. His supposed reply to MMDA head Francis Tolentino. without Mr. Brown's New Yorker Pinoy friend stressing that he should always insert PO, makes him sound like a boor. Poor Mr. Brown. Again, Mayor-elect Erap may tutor him on the need for "kayo po" - good - or "sila po" Even better. 

     May I end by saying that finally I got to see last Tuesday the two-acre Victoria Manalo Draves Park in downtown San Fran, named after the Fil-Brit Pinay whose musikero father hailed from Orani, Bataan which she visited some years ago to connect.  She won two Olympic diving golds in London'48. Glorious, not hellish...

Ravslaw

‘Kamias’ for fever, ‘siling labuyo’ for headache–first aid in the kitchen

Kitchen Rescue
By 
Reggie Aspiras
Philippine Daily Inquirer
11:50 pm | Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

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THE KITCHEN’S first-aid kit

I visited former health secretary Jaime Galvez Tan, a clinical practitioner of natural healing and integrative medicine for over 30 years.

According to him, the kitchen is the immediate first-aid station in the house as it has fruits, vegetables and culinary herbs with medicinal and curative properties.

He shared with us some home remedies for some of the most common ailments.

Cough and colds—“Cold is cold and cough is cold… So you look for everything in your kitchen that is warm; spices particularly are warm.

“The No. 1 choice is ginger, boil a thumb size of ginger in two glasses of water, over slow, low flame; uncovered (this is how medicinal plants should be cooked) for 15 minutes. If you want to increase its potency, squeeze kalamansi or lemon after boiling.

“You may also add a teaspoon of honey. Honey is one of the 4,000-year-old medications of the world. Every culture has used honey. It is a mucolytic, it stops phlegm and runny nose, soothes the throat, gives a total feeling of well-being and total body protection. Plus it is high in antioxidants so it gives total body protection.”

Headaches—“For most headaches, the best are turmeric, chilies, peppers, capsicums, both the fruit and the leaves. Siling labuyo or chili leaves, these are all anti-pain and have analgesic properties.

“If you have hot chili, siling labuyo, particularly the green one (it is better than red for  pain), put a whole piece in your mouth and drink it. It is just like taking ibuprofen and paracetamol. No, it is not spicy. Of course give it some time to be absorbed by the body.

It is ideally taken with something in your stomach. I usually ask patients to take it three times a day if they need to. Oftentimes, people who take a lot of chilies do not have headaches. It is preventive.

“Another is turmeric and black pepper. Mix turmeric powder, ½ tsp, in 1 cup of hot water and put a dash of black pepper. For those who do not like turmeric, add honey or brown sugar.
“Clinical trials show that when you put pepper, you enhance the strength of turmeric 3-5 times. It reinforces its powers—anti-pain, antioxidant and anti-inflammation.

“Also basil and peppermint leaves, 7-12 leaves, cook the leaves slowly in 2 cups water for 15 minutes, uncovered.”

Fever, gas, acidity
Fever—“Tanglad, lemongrass and pandan. I would boil 7-12 leaves of either one or you can combine. The effect is that it makes you perspire, so it cools you down.

“Another is kamias, it is one of the most effective for fever—either crush 1 kamias and take the juice mixed with a little water or boil 7-12 young leaves.”

Gas—“To make ginger tea, boil ginger, thumb size, in 2 cups water, 15 minutes, in low slow flame, uncovered.

“There are herbs that aid in digestion like basil and/or peppermint taken as tea.”

Bad stomach—“If you ate something bad, the first that comes to mind are tomatoes. Boil one for no more than 15 minutes, crush and take the tomato.”

Ulcers/acidity—“Turmeric again as tea. Or try okra, steamed or  boiled. Just take one piece three times a day. It instantly converts acid into alkaline.”

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DR. JAIME Galvez Tan

“Acidity is mostly brought about by stress, so if you are stressed the whole day, it is best to take okra early in the morning and continue taking it twice more through the day. This prevents acidity.

“Another is cabbage juice. Put cabbage leaves in a juicer or chop the cabbage and blend, with no water, strain. Only 1 tbsp is enough to take away the acidity.  I have patients who took it regularly and have had permanent healing of ulcers.”

Constipation—“The best for me is still the combination of papaya and pineapple, taken as is or juiced.”

Muscle pains—“I go back to turmeric as tea and siling labuyo taken whole for their healing properties.

“Or make a liniment by combining 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil with 1 tbsp chopped turmeric and/or ginger and 1 tbsp siling labuyo. Mix it and use the oil from the mixture on the affected area.”

Bites, rashes, fungus
Insect bites—“Oregano, either Philippine, Italian or Mediterranean; pound it fresh and put it on the bite. It immediately removes the itch and the swelling will subside.”

Rashes—“Virgin coconut oil, that really is the best. I usually mix it, one to one, with olive oil.”

Fungal infections of the skin—“Combine 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil with 1 garlic chopped. Mix these and apply three times a day for a week. It works on eczema, too.”

Dizziness—“Basil and peppermint as tea. You can also smell the leaves.”

Burns—“Cut tomatoes into slices and apply as poultice on burns. After an hour or two, apply coconut oil or olive oil on burn. Cucumber may also be used in place of tomatoes.”

Cuts and wounds—“Pound turmeric and apply to the wound.”

Uses of salt—“Mainly used as warm saline gargle for sore throat and sore gums. For nasal spray or drops for nasal congestion, colds, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, one-half teaspoon in one glass of warm water.”

On virgin coconut oil—What sets coconut oil apart is that it is “anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral. So while you are treating the infection, you are also protecting yourself.

How to make virgin coconut oil—“You have to buy coconuts that are a year old, to get more oil. You will know they are a year old when there is a shoot growing, those make the best VCO.

“When grating the coconut meat, include a bit of the shell. When you include the bao, it is more potent, it is richer in antioxidants. You do not cook it.

“The real, best coconut oil is made with grated coconuts that are squeezed and milked with no water. Do not cook! Instead pour it in a glass and let it sit overnight in a cool place. The mixture will separate. When it does, separate the oil and it’s ready to use.”

When doing natural remedies, make sure you are not allergic to the proposed cure. Even if it is all natural, some people could still be allergic to it. Tan says that if symptoms persist, of course, go see a doctor.

Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan,  Living Life Well Health Hub, 5/F, Atrium Megamall; tel. 4704955 or 0917-8020460

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Who cares about the hungry?

GLIMPSES
By Jose Ma. Montelibano
Hunger.2
I have been monitoring the hunger incidence statistics of the Philippines as reported quarterly by SWS for over ten years, as long as I have been involved with the Gawad Kalinga movement. Because I was a late-comer in anti-poverty work at that time, I remained observant but quiet. I thought I could not speak up when I was just like most people I knew then – uninterested, uninvolved, and concerned with a million other things.

Hunger.1
Along the way, I grew more intimate with poverty from consistent presence in areas where the poor were, getting to know them better, deeper involvement with community organizing, working with volunteers and partners, and helping design community programs. All the time, I always remained watchful about hunger. And when I knew the terrain much better, I began to write about it.

Wanting to understand why the Philippines, a country so rich in almost everything, was inexplicably mired in massive poverty, I was forced to turn to history. In my whole lifetime, poverty was already a reality in the Philippines. And since governance by Filipinos began only in 1946 despite claims of independence earlier, I could not blame any government administration of causing poverty. Of course, government may be very guilty in perpetuating in what it could have substantially mitigated in the last 67 years, but not in causing the massive poverty we have.
There is no doubt in my mind that poverty was a direct consequence of Spanish colonization, specifically in taking control of land that belonged to the people. Land in the 16th century was more meaningful that what it is today. When everything was agricultural then, land meant everything that man needed aside from his own skills and administration. Land meant home, land meant food, land meant security. land meant opportunity, land meant the past, the present and the future.
When Spain engineered the largest land-grab in our history, the people’s slide to poverty began. Only a few were spared from it, mostly local leaders who allowed themselves to be used by the foreign masters to control the rest of the natives. Only a few, then, were spared from the massive poverty that ensued in the centuries to come. These included the peninsulares and the insulares who, together with cooperative local leaders, became the first elite.
The landlessness of native Filipinos led to poverty, led to homelessness, led to hunger. There was just no other explanation for poverty, not at the national scale it reached. That there are always poor people around may be understandable, but not when it reaches 90%, as in the D & E classes of the Philippines. The saving grace is that livelihood is now not anymore totally dependent on land. Landless OFWs are earning enough to buy home lots and build sturdy homes. They are also lifting themselves out of poverty without help from the government and the elite.
But the point is not only about poverty but one of its most horrible faces – hunger. I have written many times that hunger shames us as a people. It shames government. It shames the Church. It shames all the non-poor among us. Beyond being a shame, it places a curse on us, not just the administration in power, not just the cardinals and bishops still active in their service, but all of us who can feed someone who is hungry but does not.
It is extremely difficult at this time not to be angry about 20 million Filipinos experiencing hunger. There is something that is inhuman about it, not that there are hungry people, but that there are people in strategic positions who end up doing nothing. It is not as though it is only now that millions have experienced hunger, it has been reported by SWS for at least 15 years.
We have a Catholic Church that expended great effort to wage war against the RH Bill, to create Team Patay during the campaign. My God, if my God is the same God they believe in, the same Bible we read has Jesus Christ asking on Judgment Day, “When I was hungry, did you feed me?” Is that kind of message so hard to understand or have the priorities of religion been flushed in the toilet bowl?
We have a spokesperson for the President of the Republic who, when asked about the latest hunger incidence report, says that “they do not take the survey results alone as the sole benchmark used by the government for its poverty-alleviation priorities.” Well, Ms. Valte, if you speak for our President, please take the hunger incidence report every quarter with the utmost interest, priority and sympathy. Do not make people believe that the President is simply more interested in defending his policies than getting more hungry people fed.
In truth, who cares about poverty-alleviation priorities when people are hungry? The success of anti-poverty programs can be appreciated only when hunger is effectively and substantially reduced. In other words, if the CCT claims that it has helped millions of families, it is like saying the SWS surveys are terribly understated, that the two or more million families that the CCT says it has reached used to be part of the hungry. Either the CCT is completely inutile against hunger and dishonest about its failures, or there used to be more than thirty million Filipinos experiencing hunger.
I thought that an Einstein saying was most relevant only to elections. But it seems even more relevant to poverty and hunger. Einstein said, “Insanity: to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In attempts to ease poverty and hunger, what I used to think was only stupidity is actually insanity according to Einstein.
But what may be the unkindest cut of all for our millions who experience hunger is not government, not the Church, but the rest of the Filipino people who are not hungry and who make no effort to feed the hungry. It is Philippine society as a whole, its perversion from a culture of bayanihan to one that cannot think beyond oneself and one’s family. How sad to realize that, by how we have treated them, nobody really cares about the hungry.