President BBM has started off on the wrong foot, what with an inaugural address that was filled with FC and/or IS and/or E. That stands for False Claims, Inaccurate Statements, and Exaggerations. Let’s take a look at some of them:
“I will get it done. I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence, in a land of people with the greatest potential for achievement; and yet they were poor. But he got it done; sometimes with the needed support; sometimes without. So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me.”
This is an obvious reference to his father. But the economic and social data covering his father’s 20-year term (and I invite you to fact-check with me) will tell you that what Marcos Sr. “got done”, in the most simple of terms was to preside over an economy that grew on the average by 3.8% annually. His four predecessors, namely Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, and Macapagal, who served altogether about 19 years, or roughly the same time as Marcos, saw the country growing by 6.% annually.
Moreover, poverty increased, i.e., the percentage of the population who were poor increased, rather than decreased, during the Marcos regime. If BBM is in any doubt about this, he can ask his Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsy Balisacan. Arsy is the go-to person when one wants to know about poverty in the Philippines.
Has the new President forgotten that his father presided over the collapse of the economy in 1983 because the Philippines could not pay its foreign debt, due in large part to borrowing for overpriced infrastructure projects, crony capitalism, and just plain looting of government resources?
“ You got by; getting some of what you needed with a massive government help. And for this, I thank my predecessor for the courage of his hard decisions.”
In this part of his Inaugural Address, BBM was talking about the pandemic. Fact: the people did not get “massive” government help. As the IMF put it, they got inadequate and poorly implemented aid. A case of too little, too late.
The statement “you got by” is a gross exaggeration, except perhaps for the billionaires and the very rich. Proof: Poverty incidence of the population in 2018 was a 16.6%. In the first half of 2021 it had risen to 23.7% (latest figures from the PSA), which is higher than our poverty incidence in 2015. Not to mention the education and health crises whose fallouts are borne mostly by the poor.
What is really scary is that if BBM believes what he says, the poor are not going to get what they need. If he does not believe what he says, he is an out-and-out snake-oil salesman.
“Government will get as much done alone without requiring more from you. That is what government and public officials are for. No excuses; just deliver. It was like that, once upon a time”
Again, an allusion to his father’s regime (For somebody who doesn’t want to look back –“No looking back in anger or nostalgia” — he certainly has suffered a relapse). And therefore, my comments in No. 1 above apply.
“Food self-sufficiency has been the key promise of every administration. None but one delivered.”
Oh, oh. A second relapse into the looking back. Plus it looks like he is confusing food self-sufficiency with rice self-sufficiency. This is not the time to get into a discussion about self-sufficiency vs. self-reliance. We are, after all, talking about false claims, inaccurate statements and exaggerations.
Marcos the Elder’s main aim was rice self-sufficiency, with his Masagana 99 program. Vera Files has a very good report on this, I will not repeat it. And you can watch on You Tube a webinar under the sponsorship of the UP Los Banos 1960 Alumni discussing this program with panelists composed of people who were actually involved in its implementation.
Suffice it to say that this program did not achieve its goal, which was to increase palay productivity to 99 cavans per hectare from the average 40 cavans that it was. Those who were implementing the program said that self-sufficiency was achieved—but only fleetingly, the first year. The program, started in 1973, was in its death throes by 1980, and quietly buried in 1984. Causes of death? Take your pick: The increase in rice production was due not to increases in productivity but in area; farm incomes decreased; exports did occur, but the country exported at a loss – the value of exports was less than the costs of producing the quantity exported; the number of farmers taking advantage of the program decreased to something like 3% of rice farmers; there was ecological and environmental damage; rural banks went under because of non-repayment of loans; agricultural technicians were replaced by non-technicians; corruption reigned – with ghost borrowers and diversion of funds from small farmers to large or corporate landowners; politicians got involved.
# 5 & 6.
These are other FC, IS and E claims in the inaugural address involving public health, infrastructure. And these, again, involve Marcos the Elder. Marcos the Younger, it seems goes off the rails when family is involved. Not a good sign. I invite you, Reader, to read the Address and see if you can spot them.
“Blades have been turning over the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte, harnessing a power all around but unseen, long before this day. I built them.”
This statement refers to the windmills in Ilocos Norte. And this one cannot be attributed to a son defending his father or idolizing him. Simply put, BBM ‘s claim is false. Period. This has been fact-checked, and the truth is out there for all to read. The disturbing thing about it is that it indicates that Marcos the Younger may be prone to a brazen disregard of the truth and the facts at his convenience. God preserve us.
* With apologies to the Washington Post who had an article with this title about Donald Trump’s first week in office.