Martial Law rumors

Pres Aquino’s trip to the US comes at a time of deep political and social turmoil for the land of the free.

Protest riots in Europe: a sign of things to come in America?

The opening salvo came from Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York who said on Friday that a prolonged period of high unemployment is producing conditions similar to that found just prior to riots in London (and across Europe as a result of austerity measures). In response to Bloomberg’s comments, Rush Limbaugh an ultra-conservative radio commentator attacked the mayor for his bi-partisan leanings while at the same time agreed with him that chaos was coming and that it would be welcomed by Pres Obama.

Such conspiracy theories were backed by Texas Cong Ron Paul a contender in the ongoing Republican nomination process for president who said that it was in the interest of those espousing big government for a breakdown of law and order to ensue given that it would lead to a public outcry for government intervention to re-establish public order. On Twitterverse, there was some chatter about the introduction of martial law in response to riots and a postponement of elections in 2012.

It just so happens that these right-wing conspiracy theories have occurred on the 40th (update: actually, it’s the 39th) anniversary of Pres Marcos’s declaration of martial law in the Philippines. It now appears that the world has been stood on its head four decades later.

In the past, when Philippine heads of state visited America, they often went cap in hand in search of aid, investment and trade. As P-Noy gets set to pay his respects to the leader of the free world, there will be very little appetite on the latter’s part for taking out the checkbook.

At a time when the US economy struggles with its first credit downgrade in nearly a century, huge fiscal and trade deficits, persistent high unemployment, sluggish growth and rising poverty rates, it wouldn’t be the right time to ask for more help. This visit is all about maintaining and strengthening ties (after Wikileaks revealed some very unflattering remarks made by the former US ambassador to the Philippines regarding our president) rather than promoting trade and investment.

Still, I would look out for the gratuitous announcements of investment dollar commitments that inevitably will come at the end of this trip. Compared with the Chinese catch, it would be interesting to see the return on investment per overseas dollar spent.

Doy Santos aka The Cusp

Doy Santos is an international development consultant who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines. He maintains a blog called The Cusp: A discussion of new thinking, new schools of thought and fresh ideas on public policy (www.thecusponline.org) and tweets as @thecusponline. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Manuelbuencamino

    Doy,

    I wonder if there is any way to total all the investments that presidents from Cory to PNoy claimed to have brought home from their foreign trips. I bet the Philippines would be a rich developed country by now if all those investments were actually made. I don’t know if any president ever came home with less than $100M in investments. 

    • Anonymous

      Some even came home fully sated after a great dinner at Le Cirque.   Dang…. haven’t they found her guilty yet of malversation of public funds or receiving bribes ?

    • Unfortunately, governments are quite loathe to monitor and track such investor commitments once they have been made (believe me, it may sound quite simple to do, but it isn’t). The “announceables” become the only tangible outcome of such overseas missions, and nothing much follows after that.

      Ironically, P-Noy went to the US to help inaugurate the Open Government Partnership with several other steering group member-states. This global roving talk-shop will seek to imbue principles of open government to “eligible” partners. 

      Just like investor commitments though, government commitments to certain non-binding goals are often easy to fudge and harder to achieve. I will be happy though if our government agencies start providing public access to their databases online (the little data that is collected).

      • Anonymous

        What you say shows the importance of  Millenium Development Goals-2015,  USA’s Millenium Challenge Corporation, the Wold Bank and other group’s yearly reports on governance statistics or survey results.   No matter Presi-Noy’s or guLO’s utterances as to how super-great or abysmally-dismal the administrations before them had been (and how well their administrations are),  self-serving utterances are negated (or reinforced as the case may be).  This happens via  Millenium Challenge Corporation dollar-grants  or by Pilipinas moving up and down the various  “ladders” on access to mother-mortality-at-childbirth,  percent-completion of primary- or secondary-schooling. Also happens via “simple” peg-counts on number malaria deaths or the number per year of assaults on and deaths of media- or human-rights-workers.

  • It’s not surprising to hear that chaos happening in the United States be welcomed by the Dems and Pres. Obama, could even be induced by them through Pres. Obama’s rabid followers.  Nothing to lose for the Dems and the president since all indicators presently point to their debacle on the 2012 US presidential election.

    Though it’s a double-edged sword, I think that chaos will indeed happen, for the way things are right now in the US political and economic situations, it will just take a very tiny flicker of a catalyst to ignite a very explosive tinderbox.

    • Anonymous

      A wimp!  When it comes to  declaring martial law,  President Obama (as is persi-Noyi-Noy) —  wimp!

      • Joe America

        It is not explosive in a military sense, within the US, but in a political/economic sense, as we saw in the brinksmanship during the debt debate a few weeks ago. That alone sent worldwide confidence spiraling down, and confidence is king when it comes to where people invest. If that tenor proceeds during the current jobs bill debate, and continues on into the election season, then indeed, tempers will be ramped up and riots may ensue. This is not groundbreaking stuff, as sit-ins and other public disobedience are a bedrock “check” to balance the idiocy that sometimes arises in the US social fabric. University students are where the action will begin, as they are not wholly passive.

        I agree that Mr. Santos is overreaching with his words in this article.