The Face Of Cronyism

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Face of Cronyism

Here is the reason ninety percent of Filipinos have gone poorer despite claims of dramatic economic growth: in the 2014 world ranking on crony capitalism, the Philippines takes the 6th spot. Seven years ago, in 2007, we were ranked 9th in the list of countries where crony capitalism ruled a country’s economy.

President Benigno S. Aquino III has always been asked the same question: where have the benefits of economic growth gone? In the middle of worsening poverty and unemployment, most of the answers given by the President have become a big joke.

Everybody knows, but nobody is talking. The reason there is widespread poverty in the middle of prosperity is that the wealth created by the improved economy went to few families. How this happened is better understood through the latest tirade of a senator from Cebu.

Calling a press conference to show his deep concern for the national economy, he said the move by the Aquino administration to bring down the cost of electricity will drive away foreign investors who create jobs.

In unexplained fury he accused the President and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla of lack in management skills that will kill the economy. The timing of the Cebu senator’s angst against PNoy could not have come better. It has shown who the true masters are, that this pretender ‘champion of consumers’ is really serving: the power generators and distributors.

He has raised hell because the cost of electricity has been cut down to ten percent, less than what these players planned to take from the consumers. He showed his sharp fangs to scare the President, after the Department of Energy refused to follow his signals: make the families that control the energy business in the country happy.

It’s Who You Know

Osmeña’s public challenge to the President has shown him as the best example of cronyism in this country.

He has been shown to protect families that fit to a tee, what the The Economist, a respected journal in world business, described as rent seekers in capture of national wealth.

Crony capitalism is not new in the Philippines. This has been the rule than the exception in the conduct of governance in this country. We have had the likes of Harry Stonehill, the biggest fixer in in Philippine politics, some decades past.

But the brazen display of political power to protect big business could not be worse these days. That a senator will talk to media to insult the President because big business would return and refund unfair prices of power is beyond understanding.

Not a few have noticed that the senator makes the loudest noise when it involves energy issues. But of course, he is also noisy on banking issues. In the former though, it has become pretty obvious who he is protecting and which cause he is advancing.

Usually, the guessing game on the Osmeña agenda had been based on body language, but now it has become open who he serves. From the passage of the EPIRA law to the unashamed silence on consumers plight against high cost of electricity, Osmeña has deftly navigated the rough seas of Philippine politics.

He has gained success here not because he is a brilliant operator, but more because his masters practically own mass media and consequently influence the public mind.

Blame Game

It’s too easy to blame the President for the woes of the country. While it is rumored that PNoy is incompetent as a President, saying that the national economy will fail because of poor management is simplistic.

The country will be placed in another economic crisis not because of poor management, but because Osmeña protect cronies who are stealing from the people.

A consumer-directed DOE has exposed the true face of Osmeña and his facade of ‘doing the will of the Filipino people’ is now falling apart. What is now obvious is, he is doing the will of those who placed him in government. His lies are starting to look like a tired movie script, and it is not solving our country’s problems.

Waste Of Space

For someone who has been a senator since 1995, Osmeña has done very little to improve the issues hounding the country. Some politicians have managed to get laws passed to uplift the country from being ‘the sick man of Asia’. This senator’s actions have only made the country mired in misery and disease.

Why he is serving his 15th year in the Senate is so cruel to the poor, but it will continue to happen. Some billionaires and their army of PR people have helped the senator maintain a ‘wholesome’ public image.

Cronyism Just Got Worse

Rather than own up responsibility, Osmeña would rather distract the public with his mud-slinging tactics. On that, he is very effective. The Lopezes and their ilk know that placing him in the Senate will benefit them immensely. If there is anything that the senator is really successful at, it is that he has increased the power of the oligarchs. Osmeña has made sure that all the necessary industries, which include power, telecommunications, and land, are now under the control of very few families.

One of these families is the Lopez clan which are known to be kingmakers in the Philippine political arena. Politicians are lining up to eat from their hands.

The MVPs and the Aboitizes in this country have grown dramatically in their wealth because of the power industry.

The Henry Sy group and the San Miguel Corporation empires have recently stepped in to join in the “killing”.

Notice that the number of billionaires in this country has registered record growth among countries in Asia and the world. At the other end of this great wealth is worsened poverty, suffered by tens of millions of poor Filipinos.

This is the result of crony capitalism, working against the interest of the market, as these cronies serve and steal from at the same time.

The ‘Crony Capitalism Index’ shows glaring proof that the billionaires with government connections have become richer. As big business moves in to grab the largest piece of the pie, the public suffers.

The Aquino administration’s campaign to fight corruption in government has become impotent. After all, the powerful few only need to place their cronies in government. Manipulating legislation to suit the self-serving motives of these robber barons will just be a piece of cake.

We thought you have to be President to get an army of cronies. Osmeña shows us that it is not the case. You can still advance the interest of cronyism while keeping under the radar of the critical public mind, and it has just been done by simply being a senator.

But simple is not what better describes Osmeña. The words that fit Osmeña’s magic is media-created luck. But even when protected by controlled media, the general impression now is that he gives face to cronyism in this country.

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