Beyond the election

IT is good that the campaigns for president will end. It has been an ugly journey, but we are used to it after the 2016 election. Then as now there will be those whose love of their political views will be greater than their love of country, wishing ill winds to blow on the Philippines because of who is elected. And it does not even matter who the winner will eventually be.

The Coconuts Manila headline says it all: “Upper-class uproar: Marcos and Robredo supporters engage in a chant showdown in posh Power Plant Mall.” Ayala Malls in Makati City issued an advisory that “promotional activities of any nature, such as merchandise distribution, flyering, congregating, and loud chanting, are not allowed in the mall premises.”

What a disgrace.

Fortunately, President Duterte carried much political capital and a considerable high approval rating throughout his term, which mitigated some of the vitriol.

It is also time for the politicians, the pundits, and the people to begin thinking about the future in the new time of post-pandemic and the new geo-political world. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is only one of the situations that every nation is facing economically, politically, and even socially.

There is nothing that stirs the people’s hearts and heats their blood more than hearing the dogs of war howling in the distance and drums signaling the call to battle. Especially if it comes from the other side of the planet.

However, the current military/financial war is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg geo-politically and geo-economically.

The US economy, both in terms of inflation and growth, is in trouble and has made no sustainable recovery since the nominal ending period of the pandemic despite billions in direct financial aid to its citizens and to businesses. Both inflation and gross domestic product growth bottomed out in May/2nd quarter 2020. The most recent figures show “Real Economic Growth” (nominal GDP increase minus inflation) at negative 5 percent.

The timing could not be any worse, particularly as the congressional election will take place this coming November. And everything is all politics everywhere these days.

We are entering a new “Cold War”—and often not so cold—period. Regardless of all the complaining at the time, President Duterte’s pivot towards China—as Obama was supposedly pivoting towards Asia—was almost prophetic. It has provided flexibility for the nation in these perilous times. And no matter who is declared the new president, adaptability will be critical for the next six years.

This is a time when just as you think you have it all figured out, everything changes. Sanction Russia for their actions in Ukraine? Not so fast. Reports are circulating that Biden is practically begging Germany not to ban buying Russian oil until after the US mid-term elections because oil prices will skyrocket. So, what should the Philippines prepare for? Hard to say.

Putin could not move on Ukraine when Crimea was annexed because Russia needed the critical natural gas pipelines that go through Ukraine. Trump stopped the Russia alternative Nord Stream 2 gas facility through sanctions. Biden lifted those sanctions, and the pipeline was completed. Then Putin, who no longer needed Ukraine, invaded. Could an increase in crude oil prices have been anticipated by the Philippine government and preparations been made?

Too many people and pundits think that post-Covid, we can return to the good old days, maybe 2010 or even back to 1990. Perhaps they were not that “good” and the world has moved way beyond those times.