Who gains from Noynoy’s US trip?

THE President will bring back investments. He will promote our country abroad. The President will repair the damage the hostage-taking incident brought to our country. He will assure people around the world, especially the world leaders he will be meeting at the UN, that we’re not into killing our visitors.

These are our hopes. These are what we think President Benigno Aquino III will do during his first trip abroad, especially that he is traveling to the United States. Yes, it’s the US, not just any neighboring Asian country that he decided to ignore. By the way, he’s not going to Europe too.

Amid the preparations for the President’s trip, research group IBON Foundation yesterday warned that PNoy’s US trip may result in more harm than good. IBON said the President’s his first official foreign trip “may further deepen the implementation of economic policies long discredited for undermining national development, destroying local industries and jobs, and marginalizing the poor.”

Well, that’s too much to read. (I hate long sentences!) Anyway, did I read it right? The trip will do more harm than good? Economic policies that marginalizes the poor, that’s something.

IBON explained that the financial assistance from the US government’s Millennium Challenge Account (that’s something you guys has to look in Google) will put additional pressure on the Philippines to further open up its economy to more imported commodities and foreign capital.

Hmmmmm…. More imported goods coming to the market? That’s not too bad, isn’t it? But IBON said the MCA is a “highly conditional aid” and requires the Philippines to maintain so-called economic freedom to continue receiving the aid.

Other MCA requirements include fighting corruption, public investment on education and health care, etc. Not bad, not bad. So what’s the problem?

“Economic freedom means business freedom in reality as it spells the least possible government intervention in the operation of businesses that entails dismantling barriers to the free flow of trade and investment through liberalization; elimination of government regulatory functions through deregulation; and dismantling of state monopoly over certain economic activities through privatization.”


IBON said conservative US think-tank and staunch advocate of free market and limited government, the Heritage Foundation, designed the index used to measure a country’s so-called economic freedom to become eligible for MCA funding.

“The US has repeatedly raised the issue of barriers to US trade and investment in the Philippines through the annual report of the US Trade Representative, among others.

“In its 2010 report, the USTR reiterated its long-standing position that certain provisions of the 1987 Constitution represent barriers to US trade and investment such as the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of land as well as foreign equity limits on utilities, telecommunication, mass media, etc.”

So there it is. The US wants to give us money as long as we will make it easy for them to do business here in the country. (Gets?) Joe Torres

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