Wasted Democracy – Three Decades After EDSA

The country celebrated the 24th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution a couple of months ago. Three decades after the dictator was toppled, and on the verge of choosing another President, we need to review and take stock of what the country has accomplished so far.

I think the best way to do this, would be to use quantifiable indicators so we can form a more subjective conclusion of our progress. Aside from that, we will also need to take stock where we are, compared to our neighbors.

Based on statistics I have gathered around the internet, here are some important facts:

  • Our country’s population has has grown by 35 million, or by more than sixty percent, from 56 million in 1986, to 91 million in 2008.

  • People below the poverty line has dropped significantly by half, from 59% in 1985, to 30% in 2008.

  • Our per capita income has increased by an impressive more than six-fold increase, from around USD 500in 1986, to over USD 3,000 in 2008.

Impressive though is the increase in per capita income, it pales in comparison to that of Thailand, which in 2008 stood at USD 8,000, or almost three times that of ours.

Another important indicator: The people living below the Poverty Line in Thailand is set at 10% as of 2008, compared to our 30%. This means theoretically, we have three times as more poor people than Thailand.

And take note, we are only comparing per capita income and poverty levels with Thailand, which I would consider as a “lesser” Tiger economy in terms of per capita income when compared to Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, etc.

From the figures, we can see that we HAVE made significant gains from the time of the dictator. But those gains have not been enough to uplift the quality of life of our people to be comparable to that of our neighbors.

And along the way, we have accummulated 35 more million people. Compare that to Thailand, which only had 65 million people as of 2008, or 26 million LESS of what we have now.

In 1986, the Philippines was known as “The Sick Man of Asia”. More than three decades after the Dictator, we are STILL “The Sick Man of Asia”. True, we may have moved from the ICU to the Ward, but its obvious to me we are still tethered to the Dextrose.



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