Properly partisan

Properly partisan

A few days ago, we had the chance to read a material quoting the UK-based think tank which considers a victory by front-running presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the May 2022 elections “as a risk to the Philippines’ economic and investment recovery from its pandemic-induced slump.”

We read the material in one of the English-language broadsheets, perceived to be utterly partial to the political opposition and their alliances.

The think tank’s Philippine-born senior Asia economist says boldly: “Elections in the Philippines are rarely fought on economic policy. But they still carry significant event risk, particularly if Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the current frontrunner (sic) and the son of an ex-dictator, wins. His father was toppled by the last major revolution, in 1986.”

The think tank is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom and the economist produces its Emerging Asia service, having covered, according to its poster, several parts of the region for over 10 years before moving to the UK in 2017.

We reviewed the latest surveys, not those done by trolls and vloggers from as far back as the third week of November, more than a month after the last day of filing certificates of candidacy and substitution for those withdrawing from previously intended posts up to December 22.

And indeed we found out that the 64-year-old Marcos, a former local government chief executive, and former senator, was well ahead of his closest rival, the 56-year-old incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.

In the survey by Laylo Report done Nov 22-29, Marcos notched 58 percent against Robredo’s 12 percent; while RMN Network, in a Nov 23-29 survey, had Marcos getting 55 percent against Robredo’s 13 percent.

Pulse Asia, in its Dec 1-6 survey, had Marcos gaining 53 percent, compared to Robredo’s 20 percent; while Publicus Asia’s Dec 6-10 survey had Marcos running away with 51.9 percent against Robredo’s 20.2 percent.

OCTA Research’s own Dec 7-12 survey showed Marcos getting 54 percent against Robredo’s 14 percent; while dzRH’s Dec 11-22 survey returned with Marcos cupping 49.2 percent compared to Robredo’s 16.2 percent.

We thought we would be given a substantial, if vitalizing, joyride going through the paragraphs, deep in the belief that the other presidential aspirants would also be mentioned – how the think tank would consider a victory for each, other than the tackled Marcos win.

Because there is always the possibility of a nauseating miracle, as had happened in previous Philippine elections. Or perhaps have some forgotten this?

What does the think tank feel should Robredo win, or – not necessarily in this order – Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, Senator Panfilo Lacson, or Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao. Never mind the rest, who may never be blest anyway by a politically anticipated lifting phenomenon.

And so we continued reading the material down to the last paragraph.

The think tank’s economist said the national polls next May would keep “investors on wait-and-see.”

Let’s read him: “Consumption is likely to remain tepid, at best, as households continue to rebuild the massive savings lost since the pandemic started, a process set back markedly by Delta.”

This had reference to the alarming contagious COVID-19 strain which put much of the country under strict lockdowns four months back, 17 months after the health emergency caused ripples of health concern in this country.

The economist was quoted as saying “the Philippines is the only economy [in emerging Asia] where we expect to see growth slow next year.”

The think tank projected GDP to grow 5.5 percent or at the top end of the government’s upgraded 5-5.5 percent target range in 2021.

But, for 2022, the think tank expects GDP growth at a lower 4.5 percent, way below the government’s ambitious 7-9 percent goal.

Explained the economist: “History shows indisputably that government spending hits a brick wall when presidential elections take place, shaving 40-percent off quarterly trend growth, on average, in the same quarter of the last three elections.”

This had reference to the public spending ban on new projects during election campaign season, which either forced government agencies to spend faster ahead of the ban or else delay projects’ implementation, especially of big-ticket infrastructure.

As we said, we were left in the lurch, since we assumed that whoever would win the highest political gift in this country would be confronted with what the economist called a “wait-and-see” attitude.

To focus only on the front runner is advisedly discriminatory which is not fair in journalism – perhaps an unintended indoctrination, but still unnecessary programming of the mind.

Some may immediately see from the head and the lead paragraph that if Marcos, – identified as “the son of an ex-dictator” as though that’s the best cognomen they could give him to gear up for the indecorous mind conditioning – should win, there is a risk to investment and recovery of the domestic economy.

The term dictator is repeated at almost every corner of criticisms against Marcos, whose father declared martial law in September 1972 and lifted this in January 1981, to check what he called was a state of rebellion and subversion and to enable him to institute urgent national reforms.

Would this be different if another candidate other than Marcos should win?

That’s the point. Properly partisan.


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