by Jarius Bondoc – The Philippine Star, 5 Jan 2021
If 2021 was the year the world turned back COVID-19, will 2022 see it licked? And what of the pandemic aftermaths, the tightening hold of big tech on people’s lives, and the worsening rivalry between China and America? Global events will shape or shock the Philippines in 2022. So will the general elections and wrong public policies. Some forecasts:
(1) Cures will overtake the spread and mutations of SARS-CoV-2. Pills, recently tested safe, can replace injections as inoculants. Cost will be primal for Filipinos, versus local remedies like virgin coconut oil. Exposing profiteers like Pharmally and their abettors is crucial.
(2) Increasingly greedy Communist China will escalate grabs of neighbors’ seas and river flows. Viewing Manila’s ally America in decline, Beijing will attempt more reef occupations in the West Philippine Sea. Propaganda and kickback from loans will strive to stifle complaints from East, Southeast and South Asian leaders.
3) Beijing’s Manchurian Candidates in the Philippine elections will be apparent. They will discredit as futile any buildup of naval and air strength. Feigning concern for soldiers’ lives, they will discourage patrols in the WPS. That will embolden trespassing Chinese warships to aim gun control directors at Philippine vessels and machinegun and water cannon fishermen.
(4) Fake news and historical revisionism will dominate the election campaign. Candidates with the least credentials will concoct accomplishments and blur dark pasts. Online media will be the primary means for falsities, and computer analytics will be used to pinpoint which big lies to reiterate to look true.
(5) Political dynasts will lead the popularity polls for president, VP, congressman and local posts. Senatorial favorites will be the old names. Party-lists will violate election rules by promoting not their advocacies but names of nominees.
(6) Filipinos, tired of it all, will attempt one big push against traditional politics. Voters will spend their own money, time and talent to promote candidates for real change. People Power-type campaigning will involve organizing as community volunteers, professional and trade groupings, school alumni, parishioners and youth causes. One campaign color will distinguish them from the red that is often misappropriated from the Thailand protest actions to make local crowd photos look big.
(7) Filipinos will doubt the need and duty to pay taxes. They will ask why officials and their families are able to evade taxes and penalties, not just by the tens of thousands but the hundreds of billions of pesos. Increasingly expensive government fees will be questioned.
(8) Political assassinations will escalate. Too many guns for hire are on the loose, having practiced on drug suspects from 2016 to 2019. Sniper fire and bombings will be the modus by dishonorably discharged servicemen and remnant terrorists.
(9) Hog-raisers, poultry-men, fish growers and feed makers will continue to suffer from massive food imports and smuggling. Government priority will be to appease consumers with low prices, to the detriment of domestic producers.
(10) The economy will go on depending on remittances from overseas workers than from exports. Shortage of skilled labor and rising petroleum prices will hamper economic revival. Tourism can lead the way with the reopening of hotels and resorts, though with reduced services. Dine-ins will pick up while restaurants enjoy more volumes from take-outs and deliveries. Work-from-home will be the new normal for many companies, especially for mothers and the pregnant. A downside is that they can be passed up for promotion.
(11) Typhoons, floods and landslides will destroy with increasing ferocity homes, farms and livelihoods. Official reaction will be limited as usual to emergency relief. Resettlement and disaster mitigation will remain buzzwords. No reforestation of mountains and shorelines; no massive shift to renewable energy.
(12) Malnutrition and learning will continue to be the hidden crises. Two in five Filipinos will enter school underweight and stunted. Grade-schoolers will continue to rank lowest in Math, Sciences and Reading Comprehension compared to foreign counterparts. Preoccupation with pork barrels and project kickbacks will distract lawmakers and bureaucrats from immediate and long-term solutions.