Formally released for public knowledge and understanding, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) addressed the Filipino people about its honest perception of the Philippine economy some 16 years ago. Its over-all content can be summed up in three chapters. 1. The Economic Situation. 2. Towards a Development with a Human Face. 3. Commendations for Confronting the Situation.
The Economic Situation
The CBCP began the Exhortation clearly stating that it made the option of looking into the Philippine economy neither as technocrats nor experts but by virtue of its pastoral duty. And thus, it saw the following particular items:
a. The Asian Economic Crisis: The Philippine economy had to be viewed in the context of the Asian financial crisis that weakened many currencies, that made many investors withdrew their investments, which hurt the poor in bigger number and in greater degree. Thus, the widespread unemployment, lost of incomes, and public service practically came to halt.
b. A Period of Moderate Growth: The years 1992 to 1996 saw a moderate resolution of the energy crisis. Yet, weak economic “fundamentals and policies” were felt. Noticeable were the following negative factors: Mining destructive of the environment. Big scale fishing disfavoring small fishermen. Little progress in the agrarian reform agenda.
c. External Debt. OFW Remittances. Corruption: There were foreign debts requiring also big debt servicing. The “boom” courtesy of the OFWs could readily deflate due to persevering bad world economy. Graft and corrupt practices in the country that were worsening. It became hard to point out a government agency free from such practices.
d. Liberalization and Deregulation: Liberalization and deregulation gave some local economic growth. But the Philippines being but “developing,” it was then a country that had little economic leverage. The First World Countries were going practically everything except “leveling the playing field.” This was true particularly in agricultural production and trade.
e. Globalization: Liberalization, deregulation, and privatization of business and industry are the main instruments of the phenomenon of globalization. Considering the inherent weakness in Philippine trade and industry, said global venture could inflict adverse consequences to the Philippine economy.
Are the above observations still true to this date?