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