Dr. Bernardo Villegas

Attracting large scale mining enterprises

Last April 24, I witnessed an event in Puerto Princesa, Palawan that could be a major game changer in the continuing pursuit of Philippine society for a reasonable balance between benefiting the present generation of Filipinos, especially the poorest of the poor in the rural areas, and protecting the physical environment for future generations.  The provincial officials of Palawan should be complimented for their daring, leadership and prudence in holding a three-day Stakeholders’ Congress on Mining and Environment.  Despite ominous warning of “opening a pandora’s box and stirring a hornet’s nest” the Palawan government officials led by Governor Dennis Socrates decided that it was for the common good of the people of Palawan to put together the most disparate views from various sectors about the desirability of mining, especially large-scale mining, in what is popularly known as the Philippines’ Last Ecological Frontier.

The roots of Philippine poverty

An erroneous  industrialization strategy and a failure to invest in countryside and agricultural development explain to a great extent why the Philippines is still a poor country despite the historical fact that it was heralded as one of the Asian countries most likely to follow the economic success story of Japan after the Second World War.  The third major error in economic policy was the repudiation of foreign direct investments as an important engine of economic growth and employment.  This can be inferred from the very fact that today the issue of removing economic restrictions against foreign investors in key sectors of the economy (public utilities, advertising, media and education) is a major concern of our Legislators who are moving heaven and earth to amend the Philippine Constitution (Chacha) with the view of attracting more FDIs by removing these restrictions.

The roots of Philippine poverty

Philippine political leaders were lulled into committing the serious policy error of an inward-looking, import-substitution and protectionist industrialization strategy by the very rich natural resources we had upon gaining political independence.  This is what is called the “curse of abundant natural resources.”  By cutting down our forests and exporting lumber and other raw materials like copra and abaca as well as gold and other mineral resources, we were able to finance the first burst of industrialization in the 1950s and 1960s.  In fact, there was a period when our GDP was growing as high as eight percent annually because of these resource-based exports. 

The roots of Philippine poverty

A video in YouTube is going viral.  It is entitled “Why is the Philippines Still Poor:  The Hard Truth.” I have received it from at least four of my Vibermates.  It has been widely disseminated among the alumni  of   the executive education programs of the University where I teach, the University of Asia and the Pacific.  

Impact of Grab’s ride-delivery service

Input-output analysis used to determine the economic impact of one sector of the economy on all the other sectors was first developed by a professor of mine at the School of Economics at Harvard University. His name was Wassily Leontief who immigrated to the US from Russia. Professor Leontief, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, defined input-analysis as a method of systematically quantifying mutual interrelationships among the various sectors of a complex economic system (another professor of mine in the same School of Economics who was also a Nobel Laureate was Simon Kuznets, the father of national income accounting).  Input-output analysis is, therefore, based on a simple fact:  an industry cannot stand alone.  Indeed, an industry needs other industries in order to perform its function in the economy.