Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mercado: Begging for heroism

By Juan L. Mercado

POLICE generals were nailed by Russian customs for hefting briefcases crammed with unexplained euros. They drown out the voice of the decent.

Take Washington Sycip. This Chinoy built the prestigious SGV auditing firm. In 1992, he won the Magsaysay Award for International Understanding. But the “Garcis” to General de la Paz blotted out his blunt UP Centennial Address.

Excerpts: “UP graduates occupied the presidential chair for 46 years (since independence 62 years ago). Then, ‘why are we in such a mess?’

“A Christian nation and a democracy, we’ll be next to Japan, we were told. Today, we’re steadily declining (from) poverty index to rural health. “

We have talented people. But we haven’t produced a Lee Kwan Yew. In a generation, (Lee) brought Singapore’s income level to that of Germany.

China’s Deng Hsiao Ping “released the energy of his people to achieve, in 25 years, the greatest reduction of poverty in history.”

Ramon Magsaysay’s early death “prevented him from carrying out a program to improve the lives of the (poorest).”

UP 1969 graduate Rafael Salas “transformed chronic rice shortages into rice sufficiency.” As a UN official, Salas forged a (world) consensus on “importance of population in development…But he left the Philippines. “His integrity and competence could not survive in a climate of government corruption…

Can other leaders, like Salas, succeed in Philippine political soil?

How can (we) solve problems when the Philippines will be a country of 70 million people? Salas asked in 1983.

Last July, Ambassador Carmelita Salas, noted: “The Philippines is now a country of 89 million, and in 2030, will be close to 140 million.

Resumption of NPA hostilities, rebellion in Mindanao and crime (underscore) lack of order, Salas said after Edsa 1... A free society can not be mobilized for development unless there is confidence in the future…”

“The speech (was) relevant for post Edsa II,” Sycip said. “How prophetic that things have not changed.”

Do bar topnotchers become leaders in judicial reform? Is the politics of fraternities at the root of the excessive time spent on national politics? Our doctors and nurses migrate. Singapore and Thailand developed “medical tourism.”

We rely on “remittances of poor overseas workers, with divided families These merely offset outward remittances of the rich.

The steady decline of educational standards…is national suicide. Excellent Catholic universities educate children of upper income groups. “But as a nation, we accept the scandalously high national dropout rates in basic education.

How do we “narrow the education gap between Christians and Muslims? Richer students must “pay full costs of education.” Then funds could be diverted from UP to primary education…

Food security should top the agenda. A Malaysian palm oil company, diversifying into bamboo, said:”The bamboo experts are in UP Los Baños. Yet, we import bamboo shoots from China.”

The Catholic Church here has an “extremely conservative leadership, seen only in Poland and Malta.” It’s campaign against a “sound government population policy (will hamper) the country’s capacity for addressing it’s population growth rate.”

“And the ultimate question remains: Can we expect from universities the heroism the country begs for?”

Mercado: Begging for heroism
Sun.Star, Philippines