Philippine Political Economy

Manila Bulletin, February 28, 2009 | Go to article overview

Philippine Political Economy


IN this 584-page opus, former Ambassador Jose V. Romero documents what he describes as "the period of struggle of a state in taking off. In the process, it experienced economic dependency and political authoritarianism before achieving middle income status and political stability."

A comprehensive review of our political economy, the book is a product of extensive research which brought the author to some of the better endowed libraries in the US and the Region. It includes research by eminent local scholars, covered five decades - 1946-71, under 9 presidents, and against a backdrop of significant international events - signing of the UN charter, the Cold War, rise of the superpowers, victory of Mao Zedong, the Korean War, and the US-USSR rivalry. At the local front, it cites the free trade regime, a regime of controls, restructuring of the economy, and setting up an industrial base.

Romero provides an extensive critique of the various development strategies -- import substitution in the 50's, export-oriented industrialization in the 70's and 80's and the economic liberalism of the post-Marcos government, which while achieving reasonable gains, was unable to address social problems. By examining various development paradigms - modernization, dependency and sustainable development theories, cooperation vs confrontation, and third world solidarity that guided local development, he notes the "convergence, or lack of it, between policy initiatives, executive and legislative, and socio-economic programs and philosophies." This lack of fit and sustainability, due to varying philosophies among economic and political leaders, and failure to institute appropriate accountability structures explain why we have not quite "taken off. …

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