Headlines: Ulo ng mga balita – Life is Stranger Than Fiction

by Crispin Fernandez, MD

| Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

“Sugar Regulatory Agency (SRA) offers traders import opportunities in exchange for local sugar purchases.”

“Amid alleged irregularities in the sale of the National Food Authority’s (NFA) buffer stocks to private traders, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. has ordered an audit of the agency’s rice stock disposition since 2019.”

“The country’s foreign currency reserves declined further as of the end of February 2024 amid the government’s settlement of its foreign currency-denominated debt.”

“Contrary to its earlier forecast of a reduction, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is slightly increasing its household electricity rate this month as the rise in transmission charge overlapped with the reduction in generation charge.”

“At a press briefing, PSA chief and National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the number of unemployed individuals, ages 15 and above, widened to 2.15 million in January 2024 from 1.60 million in December 2023.”

These headlines were from March 8, 2024, which might have been Groundhog Day. Have Filipinos grown numb? TV news covered a marriage proposal during a Taylor Swift concert instead. Was this intended to be a palliative?

HERE ARE WHAT THOSE HEADLINES SHOULD HAVE BEEN

Sugar farmers control sugar imports by their own cooperatives based on the best farm gate price for sugar they harvest domestically. Thankfully, sugar farmers control the entire vertical integration of the sugar industry.

“The unemployment rate continues to decline as foreign direct investment floods the country. There are currently more jobs than workers. Foreign workers, including doctors, nurses, engineers, and domestic household workers, continue to apply for work permits in the country.”

The defunct National Food Authority, now controlled by rice farmers through their consolidated cooperatives, fully accounts for its own production. Like the sugar farmers, rice farmers import only as much rice as needed to cover their own monitored annual production shortfalls, if any. Rice farmers own the entire rice industry and pre/post-harvest facilities, including all logistical support, storage, and distribution.

Philippine foreign currency reserves show resilience despite sustained diminished dollar remittances from overseas Filipinos. The economy continues to attract foreign direct investments, which can be attributed to the ease of doing business, full compliance with international anti-money laundering regulations, and a reversal of previous perceptions of corruption and crony capitalism.

The Manila Electric Company will drop consumer monthly bills due to greater efficiency. The interconnection between Southeast Asian countries has mitigated other costs thanks to negotiated pricing among consumer countries in the region.

The unemployment rate continues to decline as foreign direct investment floods the country. There are currently more jobs than workers. Foreign workers, including doctors, nurses, engineers, and domestic household workers, continue to apply for work permits in the country.

We can dream, can’t we? If we have any hope left, we can still dream. Without hope, what will we dream of? Despair and misery must always be and remain unacceptable. We must find our North Star and our proverbial rudder and steer our country back to a time when our smiles were genuine and emanated from our satiated hearts, from pure joy—not the smiles of pretense, irony, and the inevitability of collective destitution.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Crispin Fernandez advocates for overseas Filipinos, public health, transformative political change, and patriotic economics. He is also a community organizer, leader, and freelance writer.

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