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  1. #1

    The 40 richest people in the Philippines

    The 40 richest people in the Philippines
    Posted at 06/21/2012 10:39 AM | Updated as of 06/22/2012 10:10 AM

    MANILA, Philippines -- SM tycoon Henry Sy tops this year's Forbes list of 40 richest people in the Philippines, which includes the head honchos of some of the largest companies in the country.

    Sy had an impressive net worth of $9.1 billion, while Lucio Tan is at a rather far second with a net worth of $4.5 billion.

    Notables include port entrepreneur Enrique Razon Jr., Senator Manuel Villar, and others.

    The top 40 richest in the Philippines are:

    1) Henry Sy - $9.1 billion (SM Prime)
    2) Lucio Tan - $4.5 billion (Phillip Morris Fortune Tobacco)
    3) Enrique Razon Jr. - $3.6 billion (International Container Terminal Services)
    4) John Gokongwei Jr. - $3.2 billion (JG Summit)
    5) David Consunji - $2.7 billion (DMCI)

    6) Andrew Tan - $2.3 billion (Alliance Global)
    7) Jaime Zobel de Ayala - $2.2 billion (Ayala Corp.)
    George Ty - $1.7 billion (Metropolitan Bank)
    9) Roberto Ongpin - $1.5 billion (Atok-Big Wedge)
    10) Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. - $1.4 billion (San Miguel)

    11) Roberto Coyiuto Jr. - $1.3 billion (National Grid)
    12) Tony Tan Caktiong - $1.25 billion (Jollibee Foods)
    13) Lucio and Susan Co - $1.2 billion (Puregold Price Club)
    14) Iņigo and Mercedes Zobel - $1.15 billion (Ayala Corp.)
    15) Emilio Yap - $1.1 billion (Philtrust Bank)

    16) Jon Ramon Aboitiz - $955 million (Aboitiz Equity Ventures)
    17) Andrew Gotianun - $825 million (Filinvest Development)
    1 Manuel Villar - $720 million (Vista Land and Lifescapes)
    19) Beatrice Campos - $700 million (Unilab)
    20) Vivian Que Azcona - $690 million (Mercury Drug)

    21) Alfonso Yuchengco - $570 million (Rizal Commercial Bank)
    22) Mariano Tan Jr. - $420 million (Unilab)
    23) Enrique Aboitiz - $400 million (Aboitiz & Co.)
    24) Eric Recto - $365 million (Alphaland)
    25) Jose Antonio - $300 million (Century Properties Group)

    26) Gilberto Duavit - $270 million (GMA Network)
    27) Menardo Jimenez - $265 million (GMA Network)
    2 Frederick Dy - $260 million (Security Bank)
    29) Manuel Zamora Jr. - $255 million (Nickel Asia)
    30) Alfredo Ramos - $$250 million (Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development)

    31) Oscar Lopez - $245 million (ABS-CBN)
    32) Felipe Gozon - $240 million (GMA Network)
    33) Betty Ang - $235 million (Monde Nissin)
    34) Wilfred Uytengsu Jr. - $230 million (Alaska Milk)
    35) Juliette Romualdez - $200 million (Banco de Oro)

    36) Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. - $195 million (Rustan Commercial)
    37) Jacinto Ng Sr. - $190 million (Rebisco)
    3 Tomas Alcantara - $160 million (Alsons Consolidated Resources)
    39) Michael Cosiquien - $150 million (Megawide Construction)
    40) Edgar Sia II - $140 million (Mang Inasal)
    * Changing The Face of The Game!

  2. #2
    ^^^ I still can't get over the fact that both Ramon Ang and Manny Pangilinan are not on that list.

  3. #3
    Filipino billionaires’ circle grows in 2013

    By Neil Jerome Morales

    (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 6, 2013 - 12:00am

    MANILA, Philippines - The number of Filipino billionaires grew to 11 this year with mall tycoon Henry Sy topping the list of Forbes magazine released late Monday.

    Six Filipino businessmen and their families were newcomers to the list of 1,426 billionaires in the world this year.

    Sy’s net worth surged to $13.2 billion from $8 billion last year.

    This was primarily due to the higher share prices of flagship firm SM Investments Corp. This allowed Sy to remain as the richest man in the Philippines and the 68th in the world, up from being 116th in the global list in 2012.

    Tobacco and airline magnate Lucio Tan and family, ranked 248th globally, maintained the second spot among Filipino billionaires with wealth of $5 billion from $3.5 billion a year ago.

    Enrique Razon Jr., owner of port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and casino complex developer Bloomberry Resorts Corp., bagged the 258th spot globally and is the Philippines’ third wealthiest. His fortune grew to $4.9 billion from $1.9 billion last year.

    Also included in the global top 500 is Andrew Tan (345th), whose gaming, hotels, brandy and fastfood businesses allowed him to accumulate $3.95 billion.

    Razon has overtaken Tan, who nonetheless improved to rank 345th from 601st a year ago.

    The local billionaire circle, which had a combined wealth of $37.85 billion (P1.54 trillion), has grown from only six in 2012.

    Sy and the 10 other Filipino businessmen are part of the elite group of only 1,426 people globally who have a net worth of $1 billion or more.

    New faces in the 2013 list include construction giant David Consunji and family with $2.8 billion (503rd); Metrobank Group’s George Ty and family, $2.6 billion (554th); Puregold’s Lucio and Susan Co, $2 billion (736th); insurance businessman Robert Coyiuto Jr., $1.6 billion (931st); Jollibee’s Tony Tan Caktiong and family (1031st) with $1.4 billion and Filinvest’s Andrew Gotianun and family (1175th) with $1.2 billion.

    Former trade minister Roberto Ongpin slid to 1175th this year from 1153rd in 2012, even as his net worth grew to $1.5 billion from $1 billion.

    Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., who exited diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., did not make it to this year’s Forbes list, although he was among the six Filipino billionaires in last year’s list.

    On top of the global list was Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim Helú ($73 billion), followed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($67 billion).

    The owner of Spanish fashion retailer Zara, Amancio Ortega ($57 billion), wrested the third spot from Warren Buffet ($53.5 billion), who dropped out of the top three for the first time since 2000.

    The year’s biggest loser is Brazilian Eike Batista, whose fortune dropped by $19.4 billion, or equivalent to about $50 million a day, Forbes said. Batista ranked 100th this year, from seventh in 2012.

    Hong Kong’s Li Ka Shing ($31 billion) was named the richest man in Asia and eighth in the world.

    Forbes, which has been listing the world’s billionaires since 1987, noted this year’s 1,426 billionaires collectively controlled $5.4 trillion of the world’s wealth.

    This is higher than the $4.6 trillion shared by 1,226 people last year.

    “To compile net worths, we value individuals’ assets – including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash – and account for debt,” Forbes said.

  4. #4
    ^ The Zobel-Ayala family are no longer billionaires...?

  5. #5
    Phl elite corners new wealth


    By Boo Chanco

    (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 6, 2013 - 12:00am

    We all know that the rich are getting richer, getting an ever greater share of the fruits of economic growth here as it is in many countries abroad including the United States. That is why there was this Occupy movement supposedly trying to speak up for the 99 percent of the population being left behind in the US.

    Over the weekend, there was some amount of controversy over a statement attributed to former NEDA Chief Ciel Habito even among my economist friends. As it turned out, a wrong impression was given by a report on Ciel’s statement.

    The Inquirer reported that “in 2011 the 40 richest families on the Forbes wealth list accounted for 76 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth.” People stopped reading after GDP.

    Here is how Dr Habito explained what he actually meant: “I’ve been careful to clarify that having the wealth increase of the top 40 individuals being EQUIVALENT (i.e., in value) to 76 percent of the nominal increment in GDP should not be interpreted to mean that 76 percent of the GDP was captured by these 40 individuals… My purpose in making the comparison was to place the wealth increase in perspective, and the contrast with neighboring Asian countries is quite glaring. This still points to PH as a rather unusual case of inequality, which is my main point.”

    So, whatever the technical nuances, the message is clear. The growth we are showing as measured by our GDP is not trickling down to a larger number of our people. It is being cornered by our elite.

    That is why impressed as he was with our GDP performance, P-Noy found out he got no brownie points from the ordinary folks out there. P-Noy can also talk about wanting to have inclusive growth until he is blue in the face but unless he takes risks and turns his back on the interests of his own social class, it won’t happen. The only ones happy about high GDP growth or even an investment grade debt rating are the few in our society already rich beyond common imagination.

    As Dr Habito puts it, little progress has been made in changing a structure that for decades has developed one of Asia’s worst rich-poor divides. He told Cecil Morella of the Agence France Presse “I think it’s obvious to everyone that something is structurally wrong. The oligarchy has too much control of the country’s resources.”

    Dr Habito presented data at a recent economic development forum showing that in 2011 the 40 richest families on the Forbes wealth list accounted for 76 percent of the growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This was the highest in Asia, compared with Thailand where the top 40 accounted for 33.7 percent of wealth growth, 5.6 percent for Malaysia and just 2.8 percent for Japan, according to Habito.

    “The Philippines is no longer the sick man of East Asia, but the rising tiger,” World Bank country director Motoo Konishi told that same economic forum. But most Filipinos would be oblivious of it.

    Konishi also spoke last week before the Foundation for Economic Freedom, a group mostly composed of economists. In his presentation to FEF, Konishi emphasized the need to focus on what he called “the jobs challenge” to achieve inclusive growth.

    The World Bank economist provided a good picture of the challenge in terms of the hard numbers: a labor force of 41 million, 3 million unemployed and 7 million underemployed. In addition 1.1 million Filipinos enter the labor force every year.

    “There are 500,000 college graduates every year; 240,000 can be absorbed in the formal sector such as business process outsourcing (52,000) and manufacturing (20,000). About 200,000 young people find jobs abroad and around 60,000 will be either unemployed or exit the labor force.

    “The remaining 600,000 new entrants, around half have high school degrees and the rest have never finished school. They have no other option but to find or create work in the low skill and low pay informal sector or in agriculture. Many of these people are in the rural areas and urban slums.”

    Assuming a high case scenario of sustained GDP growth of seven percent per year and the removal of key binding constraints in fast growing sectors (e.g. the skills constraint, so that the BPO industry can accelerate its annual growth from 20 to 30 per cent), Konishi thinks “the formal sector will be able to provide good jobs for around 2 million people in the next 4 years.”

    Konishi points out that “This leaves 12.4 million Filipinos who would be unemployed, underemployed or work in the low-paid informal sector by 2016. This requires meeting a dual challenge: to expand the formal sector employment even faster, while rapidly raising the incomes and productivity of those informally employed and those working in the agricultural sector.”

    This means P-Noy must be ready to introduce reforms and move the bureaucracy to make it easy for the private sector to create jobs. The role of the public sector in job creation, Konishi said, is to invest in human and infrastructure capital.

    Konishi calls for a “social contract” with government, business and labor coming together to form a partnership on job creation. It will require short term sacrifices on all sides, Konishi warns, balancing of trade offs, proportional sharing of responsibilities based on the ability to shoulder the reform cost.

    Konishi called on government to accelerate infrastructure spending to five percent of GDP and increase investment in social services, in particular health, education and social protection. Government must also commit to an accelerated implementation of plans to simplify business regulations; continue to enhance the efficiency of public service through a combination of internal reforms, public-private partnerships in service delivery.

    Private sector, on the other hand, must create more and better jobs specially those that benefit the poor in rural areas. Businesses of all sizes must embrace the principle of a level playing field for all in the interest of accelerating economic growth, Konishi urged.

    This means the private sector must support reforms to reduce barriers to entry, streamline taxation and maximize competition, in particular in sector currently dominated by monopolies and oligopolies. Short term priority should be given to sectors which affect jobs either directly or indirectly, through higher food and goods prices. The private sector must be interested in expanding their operations into rural areas, specifically in agriculture and agribusiness.

    Labor groups, for their part, must recognize valid forms of flexible work arrangements to facilitate the creation of more jobs, specially in the informal sector. This would allow businesses to adopt better to the changing environment, remain competitive, hire more workers during expansion years and retain qualified workers during slowdowns. Labor must carefully position itself in the Asian market to insure competitiveness of its workers in the Philippines.

    I think we are doomed. These are difficult things to do in our political setting. Dr Habito said the path to riches for the few is helped by a political culture that allows personal connections to easily open doors. Why would the elite support reforms that end their dominance?

    Having a more inclusive growth will remain an elusive goal for so long as our political and economic leaders are unwilling to think in terms of new strategies and even give up old advantages. We are as a people unwilling to think in terms of fresh approaches to old problems.

    Take our land reform concept as an example. We know no farmer can be productive or competitive the way the present program is structured by law. Yet, politicians and church leaders insist on the old discredited approach and claim they are fighting for social justice. There has to be a better way of lifting our farmers out of poverty.

    It is the same for our labor leaders. They win concessions for organized labor that only affects a small portion of our labor force. We also have labor laws that make us uncompetitive against our regional peers. The numbers tell the story: a large portion of our population is classified as unemployed and underemployed and only innovative policies can address their needs.

    And so it will be for some time to come. The elite will continue to eat up a large share of whatever economic growth we can eke out in the foreseeable future. But how long can we keep up with such uneven sharing of the nation’s wealth and not risk a serious social unrest?


    Here is one thought that bears repetition.

    What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

  6. #6
    This is from the online Inqirer, no byline though ___

    Philippines’ elite swallow country’s new wealth

    1:02 pm | Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

    MANILA – Optimism is soaring that the Philippines is finally becoming an Asian tiger economy, but critics caution a tiny elite that has long dominated is amassing most of the new wealth while the poor miss out.

    President Benigno Aquino has overseen some of the highest growth rates in the region since he took office in 2010, while the stock market has hovered in record territory, credit ratings have improved and debt ratios have dropped.

    “The Philippines is no longer the sick man of East Asia, but the rising tiger,” World Bank country director Motoo Konishi told a forum attended by many of Aquino’s economic planning chiefs recently.

    However economists say that, despite genuine efforts from Aquino’s team to create inclusive growth, little progress has been made in changing a structure that for decades has allowed one of Asia’s worst rich-poor divides to develop.

    “I think it’s obvious to everyone that something is structurally wrong. The oligarchy has too much control of the country’s resources,” Cielito Habito, a respected former economic planning minister, told AFP.

    He presented data to the same economic forum at which Konishi spoke, showing that in 2011 the 40 richest families on the Forbes wealth list accounted for 76 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

    This was the highest in Asia, compared with Thailand where the top 40 accounted for 33.7 percent of wealth growth, 5.6 percent for Malaysia and just 2.8 percent for Japan, according to Habito.

    According to the Forbes 2012 annual rich list, the two wealthiest people in the Philippines, ethnic Chinese magnates Henry Sy and Lucio Tan, were worth a combined $13.6 billion.

    This equated to six percent of the entire Philippine economy.

    In contrast, about 25 million people, or one quarter of the population, lived on $1 a day or less in 2009, which was little changed from a decade earlier, according to the government’s most recent data.

    Some of the elite families have dominated since the Spanish colonial era that ended in the late 1800s.

    Prominent Spanish names, such as Ayala and Aboitiz, continue to control large chunks of the economy and members of the families are consistent high placers on Forbes’ annual top-40 wealth list.

    Their business interests range from utilities to property development to banking, telecommunications and the booming business process outsourcing industry.

    Many of the ethnic Chinese tycoons, such as Sy and Tan, got their start soon after the country gained post-World War II independence from the United States.

    The tendency for the same names to dominate major industries can be partly attributed to government regulations that continue to allow near monopolies and protections for key players.

    For decades after independence from the United States in 1946, important sectors such as air transport and telecommunications were under monopoly control, according to a Philippine Institute for Development Studies paper.

    Despite wide-ranging reforms since 1981, big chunks of the market remain effective oligopolies or cartels, it said.

    Habito said the path to riches for the few is also helped by a political culture that allows personal connections to easily open doors.

    The Aquino government’s mantra since succeeding graft-tainted Gloria Arroyo’s administration has been good governance and inclusive growth, and their efforts have been applauded by the international community.

    The government is spending more than $1 billion this year on one of its signature programmes to bridge the rich-poor divide.

    The conditional cash transfers programme will see 15 million of the nation’s poorest people receive money directly in exchange for going to school and getting proper health care.

    However Louie Montemar, a political science professor at Manila’s De La Salle University, said little had been done at the top end to impact on the dominance of the elite.

    “There’s some sense to the argument that we’ve never had a real democracy because only a few have controlled economic power,” Montemar told AFP.

    “The country dances to the tune of the tiny elite.”

    Nevertheless, the government and economists say there are many other reforms that can be taken to bring about inclusive growth.

    Analysts said the most direct path out of poverty was improving worker skills, using higher tax revenues to boost spending on infrastructure, and rebuilding the country’s manufacturing sector.

    To this end, many economists endorse the Aquino government’s cash transfer programme as well as reforms to the education system, which include extending the primary and high school system from 10 to 13 years.

    But for people such as mother-of-five Remy del Rosario, who earns about 1,500 pesos ($36) a week selling cigarettes on a Manila roadside, talk of structural reform and inclusive growth mean little.

    With her bus driver husband out of work, the family has no savings and her income is barely enough to cover food, bus fare, and prescription medicines.

    “Other people may be better off now, but we see no improvement in our lives,” she said.

  7. #7
    ^^^ Aling Remy that is not the fault of the top 40 richest people. Having five mouths to feed and backs to clothe was entirely your fault.

  8. #8

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    11:07 pm | Monday, March 11th, 2013

    The situation where a big chunk of a country’s wealth is controlled by a few is typical in poor and developing countries that embraced the capitalist system. What is disturbing in the data presented late last month by former economic planning chief Cielito Habito is the magnitude of such a reality here: The increase in the wealth of the 40 richest families in the Philippines that made it to the 2012 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires accounted for 76 percent of the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP).

    It’s one of the biggest rich-poor gaps in the free world and, Habito observed, the highest in Asia. He cited such examples as Thailand, where the top 40 families accounted for only 33.7 percent of its economic growth; Malaysia, 5.6 percent; and Japan, 2.8 percent.

    Agence France-Presse also noted that according to the Forbes 2012 annual rich list, the two wealthiest people in the Philippines, Henry Sy and Lucio Tan, were worth a combined $13.6 billion, or equivalent to 6 percent of the Philippine economy. In contrast, as the news agency pointed out, government data showed that about 25 million people, or a quarter of the population, lived on $1 a day or less in 2009, which was little changed from a decade earlier. To be poor meant earning less than P16,800 a year (or P1,400 a month or P47 a day), which covers 26.5 percent of the nearly 100 million Filipinos. Based on the official poverty data of the National Statistical Coordination Board, the proportion of poor Filipinos to the total population was 28.4 percent in 2000, 24.9 percent in 2003, 26.4 percent in 2006, and 26.5 percent in 2009.

    This has led to the now oft-repeated term “inclusive growth,” or economic expansion that creates jobs and reduces poverty, or allows the fruits to trickle down to the lower-income segments of society. But this calls for structural reforms, which will take years to implement. These reforms are “well-known,” Motoo Konishi, the World Bank’s country director for the Philippines, noted at the Philippine Development Forum in Davao City. “They have been studied, written about and reflected on for a long time.” (He also said that now—under the Aquino administration—was the time to accelerate and sustain the reform agenda.)

    Economists agree that little progress has been made in changing an economic structure that allows one of the worst income inequalities in Asia. As Habito, a columnist of the Inquirer, was quoted as saying, “I think it’s obvious to everyone that something is structurally wrong. The oligarchy has too much control of the country’s resources.”

    Income inequality is actually a global problem. Using different estimation models, a review of income distribution in 141 countries by Isabel Ortiz and Matthew Cummins for Unicef in April 2011 “found a world in which the top 20 percent of the population enjoys more than 70 percent of total income, contrasted by two paltry percentage points for those in the bottom (20 percent) in 2007; using market exchange rates, the richest [20 percent of the] population gets 83 percent of global income with just a single percentage point for those in the poorest (20 percent).”

    “While there is evidence of progress, it is too slow; we estimate that it would take more than 800 years for the bottom billion [of the world’s population] to achieve 10 percent of global income under the current rate of change,” the Unicef paper said. Overall, it noted that the extreme inequality in the distribution of the world’s income “should make us question the current development model (development for whom?), which has accrued mostly to the wealthiest billion.”

    At home, as the government struggles to implement structural reforms, it is actually taking care of the poorest of the poor through its conditional cash transfer program. The Aquino administration is spending more than P40 billion this year on this flagship undertaking, which will see 15 million of the nation’s poorest people receive money directly in exchange for their kids going to school and mothers and children getting proper health care.

    What about the big proportion of people earning the basic minimum pay mandated by law? They can only pray for the kindness of their employers, for the latter to awaken to the virtue of giving and sharing. We’ve seen billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and tycoon Warren Buffett give away the bulk of their wealth to charity. The rich in the Philippines need not do as much. They need only give a little more.

  9. #9
    Inequity, initiative and inclusive growth

    By Cielito F. Habito

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    11:05 pm | Monday, March 11th, 2013

    It is not correct to say that the 40 richest Filipino families own 76 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). I have recently been widely misquoted as having said so. What I did say, and had first explained in this space nine months ago (“Economic growth for all,” 6/26/12), was that the growth in the aggregate wealth of our 40 richest families in 2011—which Forbes Asia reported to have risen by $13 billion in 2010-2011—was equivalent (in value) to 76.5 percent of the growth in our total GDP at the time, which official data show to have risen nominally then by P732 billion, or around $17 billion. I found that this ratio was only 33.7 percent in Thailand, 5.6 percent in Malaysia, and 2.8 percent in Japan—suggesting that our income inequality is much worse than in our neighbors.

    My observation, misquoted as it was, evoked two kinds of reactions. One audience, mostly fellow economists and business people, balked at my supposed assertion that the bulk of our national income was in the hands of only 40 families (the reporters’ mistaken inference from the misquote). They took me to task for the improper comparison between the billionaires’ wealth, mostly held in the form of stocks in various companies, and GDP, which measures total incomes earned for productive activities in the economy. The former went up because the stock market saw record highs, inflating the value of stock holdings. The latter went up because of greater economic activity; “valuation income” resulting from rising stock market values is not counted here. The former is certainly not part of the latter, and I never said that it was. My point was this: Relative to rise in total incomes, the wealth gain of our billionaires that year dwarfed those in our neighbors (who had seen similar stock market surges), suggesting much more skewed distribution in our country.

    The other group was the general audience, for whom the technical clarification above is of little interest. Their reactions were borne out of unhappiness over the way our economic growth has been too “exclusive,” benefiting only a few while bypassing the wide majority of Filipinos. For them, whatever indicator of inequality we use doesn’t change the fact that our country stands out with an income gap wider than seen in most of the region. The clear imperative is to pursue more inclusive growth. This is in fact the theme and mantra of President Aquino’s Philippine Development Plan.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I do not fault our billionaires for being rich, particularly those who gained their riches through hard work and superior initiative. (But I can’t say the same for those who have employed less than fair or ethical means—and not a few believe that some in the Forbes list did.) Neither do I favor a socialist approach that would take from the rich to give to the poor.

    An anecdote making the rounds of the Internet aptly illustrates why this cannot be the way to go. As the story goes, a professor known to have never failed any student in the past suddenly found himself failing an entire class. The class had proposed a grading system based on the socialist ideal where no one would be poor and no one would be rich. The professor thus adopted a system where all grades will be averaged, with everyone receiving the same grade. This way, everyone thought, no one would fail and no one would stand out and get an A. After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset, while those who studied little were happy. For the second test, the lazy students studied even less, and the better students decided it wasn’t worth studying as hard as before. The average grade for the second test was D, and no one was happy. By the time of the final test, the average grade had dropped to F, and everyone flunked the course. As the tests proceeded, it became clear that students were unwilling to put in effort that would only benefit someone else. In like manner, an economic system that takes from the rich to give to the poor for the sake of equality is likely headed for overall decline.

    A thriving economy rests on initiative. Initiative, in turn, rests on proper incentive. Take away the incentive of commensurate rewards for one’s efforts, and the initiative to achieve more disappears. (Without “carrots,” the alternative is for the state to wield a “stick” and force production quotas on its citizens—at the cost of freedom and happiness.) In a democratic society, then, pursuing inclusive growth is not about redistributing wealth and income to equalize it; rather, it’s about providing genuinely equal opportunities for all.

    As I have argued before, inclusive growth is about ensuring that all are equipped with or can readily access needed human, natural, physical, social and financial capital to be able to pursue opportunities to uplift their lives. This entails ensuring quality education and health services for all; correcting historically lopsided access to land and natural assets; equitable access to credit by small and large borrowers alike; a justice system that is blind to people’s social and economic status; and a competition policy that levels the playing field for big and small enterprises so that the latter can thrive along with the former. In other words, it calls for correcting our social, political and institutional flaws, in all their obvious and subtle forms, that perpetuate unequal access to economic and political power.

    What worries me is that there is so much yet to be done, and the job would take much more time than remains for this particular President to do it.

    * * *

  10. #10
    Speaking of inequity and inequality...

    Students in need

    By Michael L. Tan

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    9:59 pm | Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

    I’m finding that amid the groundswell of sympathy for the UP Manila student who committed suicide, there’s also been strong disapproval of what she did: that she should not have given up so easily and that she could have found a way out, if she had tried hard enough.

    Such feelings come more from lower- and middle-income Filipinos I talked to, maybe because they have gone through and overcome so much adversity. The more outspoken ones were those who had been working students, talking about how it took them six, seven years to finish a four-year course. Others talked about the many scholarships or subsidies offered by politicians, and lower-tuition state universities, with one pointing out that PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines) charges only P12 a unit.

    I try to calmly respond, pointing out we know too little about what was going on in the student’s life and sharing cases of students in need that I had encountered as an administrator.

    No doubt, the UP Manila student was under great pressure to stay on and do well in UP, but we know nothing about other circumstances that might have driven her to despair and suicide, besides the inability to pay tuition. I thought about how Filipino daughters are often more pressured than sons when they’re in universities because families expect more of their girls, many of whom end up supporting other siblings even at the cost of their own education.

    Psychologists point out that many suicides involve chronic depression, which means our academic institutions need to watch out at this particular time of the year, as the schoolyear ends and the pressures of exams and loans accumulate.

    Pride, shame

    All that said, I did want to say the financial problems faced by our students can be very serious. At a recent college meeting, professors shared stories of how their financially strapped students took on odd jobs, skipped meals, or walked to school. One said professors have to be more sensitive about the cost of field trips, which poor students cannot afford. Another said he has had students who could not fulfill the mandatory CWTS (Civic Welfare Training Service) because they could not afford the transportation money to the sites where they were to render training service.

    Another professor said he has heard of students in other schools having to go into “prosti-tuition” (a self-explanatory term).

    And there’s pride, too. One professor said he had allowed a student to continue to attend classes despite delayed payment of tuition but that the student’s family pulled him out, saying it was shameful to attend classes without paying.

    Last year after our graduation rituals, I congratulated the new graduates who I knew had to take several leaves of absence because of financial problems. After my column came out, two generous donors wrote to offer support: One wanted to help students with tuition scholarships and the other told me to use the donation to help whoever was in need.

    The open-ended donation resulted in a trial program in my college, where the Office of the College Secretary announced that money was available for students in need, with no specifications, and that students can write in to explain how they would use such an open grant. There were 19 students who wrote in, mostly about unexpected financial shortfalls: a parent losing a job (usually overseas), family businesses going bankrupt, a parent victimized by unscrupulous business partners, and, quite simply, parents who were working but just could not make ends meet.


    In the end, six students’ proposals stood out and I thought of P10,000 grants for each of them. The problem was that we only had P50,000, but I told our college foundation administrator to just go through with the six grants. Fortunately, one of our political science students, Ferth Vandensteen Manaysay, won first prize in an essay competition sponsored by US Pinoys for Good Governance. Besides his individual prize money, his department and our college also got cash prizes, and we were able to “top off” and complete the funding for six students. Hulog ng langit, heaven-sent, I thought.

    In my letter to the grantees, I apologized about the small amount, but two of them came to me and said I was underestimating the value of P10,000. For them, it was hulog ng langit, allowing them to pay off debts, ensure they would not have to skip meals, or buy much-needed books and textbooks. The two were graduating students, and could now concentrate on completing their requirements. The UP Manila student who committed suicide needed less than P10,000.

    I hear now that UP Manila alumni intend to raise P50,000 to P100,000 for an emergency fund for students in need. I also teach at UP Manila, so I think I’m entitled to challenge them to raise much more, given that one anonymous donor to my college in UP Diliman gave P50,000 last year, and has added P100,000 this year. One donor giving P150,000 can make the difference for 15 students.

    Since I have personal scholars of my own, I do feel uncomfortable about outright grants and scholarships. They make a difference for graduating students, but what about nongraduating students, who will need more financial transfusions as they go through college? This is where loans come in, and it’s high time the country, and not just UP, came up with a student loan system with longer repayment schemes, perhaps even waiting until after they graduate.

    Since all UP and state university students are actually people’s scholars (iskolar ng bayan), some units like UP Manila’s health-related colleges now require students to sign a return service agreement, which means graduates must stay on in the Philippines for two years, giving back a little to the country. They don’t even have to serve in government institutions; the point is to stay in the country.

    While putting safeguards in place for screening processes and for monitoring of students, we need to make the applications for these scholarships more friendly. I have learned through the years that it’s still middle- and upper-class students who apply for scholarships. Several of the 19 who availed themselves of our college’s open grants wrote in flawless English.

    There were reports that the UP Manila student did not submit documents supporting her claims of financial need. We need to review those required documents. One of my college professors mentioned that utility bills are required and pointed out that many urban poor families do not even have electric and water meters in their names because they’re renting, or don’t have legal connections.

    But it’s not just a matter of utility bills. UP and other government institutions are notorious for forms, and more forms. When the UP College of Medicine first asked me to teach a few years back, it required me to fill out papers like a new applicant, and to go through medical and dental checkups and NBI clearances even if I had already been teaching at UP Diliman for almost 30 years. I am still required to fill out new and long information forms every semester that I teach there. If I feel intimidated by these forms, think of what it means for a student feeling disempowered by being young, and poor.

    Yes, students and their families can and will find ways to survive. But schools, the government, private individuals can make it easier for that survival, sometimes with very modest donations and, more importantly, with open doors, and open hearts to make the students feel they can seek help.

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