A book review presentation in Development Studies
DIANA C. DELAROSA
When I first saw the presentation of the book review entitled Anti-Development State: The Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines, I knew that this book will give interesting information about the Philippines issues to underdevelopment. Well, as I read the book, I found it very interesting because it poses the reality of the Philippine economy. I found the book different to others because of the title itself, “Anti-Development” that adds curiosity and excitement to me to read and make a review about it. Well, the book meets my expectations because it is really worth reading. To make it easier to understand the book per chapter, I made an analysis per chapter to easily understand the main idea of the book. Here are the main ideas of the book per chapter:
CHAPTER 1- THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF PERMANENT CRISIS
Chapter one talks about the Philippine Economy during the Aquino administration wherein it only focuses on paying debts during Marcos regime. Structural adjustments were implemented to but to achieve greater economic efficiency through liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. the rise of the neoliberal economist said that free-market policies were the secrets of the success of NIC’s and as a result tariff liberalization (EO 264) was created which committed the Philippines to unilaterally bringing down tariffs. But the offshoot of this is bad because instead of bringing about prosperity, unilateral trade liberalization has resulted in the rapid erosion of this country’s industrial and agricultural base. They are the causes of economic stagnation in the Philippines because they misinterpreted the factors that lead to rapid growth among our neighbouring countries.
CHAPTER 2- AGRARIAN REFORM: THE PROMISE AND THE REALITY
Chapter two is about the Agrarian Reform which seems to be the constant promise of every president who sits in the position but this promise about land reform program did not came into reality. . Agrarian reform is not just a poverty-alleviation program because it also aims to abolish feudalism by creating a class of independents small holders. CARP has failed to change the feudal landscape, because s the national government have been unable, or in most cases unwilling to resolve the fundamental issue of sustained access to land. The national polices of the government have always favored economic and political elite, thereby entrenching poverty, and social and economic inequality. Still the issue in owning property is still one of the major issues on Philippine administration.
CHAPTER 3- THE NEOLIBERAL REVOLUTION AND THE ASIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS
Consistency was the hallmark of the Ramos administration compare to Aquino administration. The program of liberalization, deregulation and privatization was pursued. But during 1997, Ramos administration faces the problem of Asian Financial Crisis. The Philippines never really recovered from Asian Financial Crisis, the percentage of Filipino’s living below the poverty line rose from 1997 31.8% to 33.7% in 2003.
The center piece of the program during Ramos administration was liberalization. The administration saddled the country with a neo-liberal policy paradigm that eventually brought on disaster. Opportunistic protectionism was a plague on Philippine development.
CHAPTER 4- MULTILATERAL PUNISHMENT: THE PHILIPPINES IN THE WTO, 1995-2003
When Philippines joined the WTO it had been spared to the range of both free trade and monopolistic competition. Despite its entry into the WTO, Philippines have remained a “center of poverty and stagnant productivity” according to the study of Department of Agriculture (2001). In the signing on to the GATT-WTO, the Philippines essentially gave up the ability to use trade policies as a mechanism for industrialization.
CHAPTER 5- THE PANACEA OF PRIVATIZATION
Privatization, or the transfer of ownership from the public sector to the private sector is currently the topic of many intense debated both in the Philippines and in international. By 2003 privatization was in deep crisis. In the rush to privatize the government forgot to deal with the need to have an independent regulatory capacity leaving regulatory institution open to opportunistic political intervention. The main reason why privatization is pushed because the private sector is eager to get its hold on successful public companies. Privatization in effect is nothing more than a seemingly neutral term for subsidizing the private sector.
CHAPTER 6- UNSUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The current state of the environment proves that all the efforts of the government towards environment crisis afflicting the country have been critically negated by the governments’ consistent adherence to neoliberate and have been successfully sabotaged by the very resource-extractive interest that in sought to reign. Sustainable Development cannot be reconciled with neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation and liberalization because they are ultimately about different means and aims. Hence, the government measures to respond to environmental degradation have been and will continue to be rendered meaningless and futile for as long as the contradictory policies that undermine them as well as the interest remained entrenched.
CHAPTER 7- CORRUPTION AND POVERTY: BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE?
The statement “Philippines is so poor because its leaders are corrupt” is wrong because many either countries suffering from as much or even more systematic corruption than the Philippines have succeeded in developing and reducing poverty. It only distracts us from the real reason, it is also being manipulated to underpin neoliberal policies and stabilize elite rule via liberal democracy. While corruption definitely needs to be condemned it is not the reason behind the country’s stagnation. A more adequate explanation lies in the state being subjugated by a succession of ruling elite factions to serve narrow interests instead of the larger goals of sustainable development and social justices. It s being used as a public discourse to advance private narrow interests: to maintain and strengthen ruling elites grip on power, and to further undermine the states capacity to control domestic and foreign capital. The answer to this problem is firsts to empower the state rather than to further weaken it and second, the relative autonomy of the state must be enhanced rather than diminished so that it does not just always remain a prize in the inter-elite struggle but also becomes a serious and more powerful contenders in its own rights. An anti-corruption program should be designed again and ensure to implement it well. Reforms in the Philippine economy will require much more than another People Power.
The book of Walden Bello for me is very helpful. As a Filipino I felt that I should have known that book before and read it before for me to know what are the real happenings in the Philippine economy. The author identifies the real problem of the Philippines after Marcos regime and the idea that came out is that after the Marcos regime the problem of the Philippines towards development is still problematic and did not answered by next President of the Philippines after Marcos. As I read the book, I found out that Philippine government is very envious to those Newly Industrialized Countries (NIC’s) that they want Philippines to like those countries. For me it is not bad because Philippine Government somehow has planned for the country’s development but they are forgetting that the NIC’s did not start wealthy those countries has undergone different problems and issues before attaining the development. I can say that Philippines should wait for the right time because development is a process. It is also evident in the book that the power of the elite that is dominating the Philippines today is the real reason behind underdevelopment. Because of the power of the elite that dominate the Philippine economy and the even the government their interests affect the policy making and even the domestic and foreign capital. After I read the book of Walden Bello, my perception towards Philippine poverty changed. Before as any other Filipino I believe that poverty in the Philippines existed because of the corrupt leaders, yes it is partially true because the true picture of the Philippine poverty is because of the ruling power of the elites that dominated Philippines. The book helped me so much in creating a big perception of the truth in my own country. Today, I will not just believe in the slogan “Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap,” I do now believe as what my status in facebook says, “KUNG WALANG MAYAMAN WALANG MAHIRAP!” I am very thankful that I read the book and I personally want to share it to other Filipinos’ for them to have a wider knowledge about the problem and issues in our own country and for them to help in creating or making solutions towards it.