Saturday, 23 May 2015

Alejandro Lichauco: A minister the Government failed to appoint

Alejandro Lichauco: 
A minister the Government failed to appoint

(or: "Remembering a National Economist, his works, and his aspirations")

"The truth shall free us, says the Bible, but Alejandro Lichauco in his new book, "Nationalist Economics", says that the truth shall feed us too- liberate us from the politics of poverty..."

These were the words Hilarion Henares stated about a man who envisioned a country that rolls its own sleeve and forge to assert its own independence. In his book, such as what he stated, did made students in trying to seek other answers the system failed to accomodate, if not disregard considering it was passé in favour of policies favourable to the system and dictated by outside agencies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It did tried to become a required reading in universities such as the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, and the University of Santo Tomàs, but in the end it was merely treated as a scholastic research work, a dissertation, a thesis, while concered groups, particularly those of radicals marching in the streets, adhere to that man's contribution to liberate his country from the politics of poverty.

And that man was Alejandro Lichauco, a man the government whom had failed to, if not never appointed to an higher post besides being a Senior Consultant to the Congressional Economic Planning Office and Head of the Policy Research Department of the National Economic Council (now as the National Economic Development Authority).

Like the late Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, and Jose Diokno, personalities whom somehow people have called as "the Presidents the Filipino People never had", He may not been appointed as Trade Minister, or Minister of Finance, or any other higher post related to economics just because of his view that is different from the system tries to assert with, regardless of his credentials as a Harvard graduate (BA Economics and Bachelor of Laws). Yet despite being not appointed to an higher post (or perhaps the Government failed to appoint him) doesn't mean he should discontinue his lifelong aspiration of a nation walking and working on its own, that besides "Nationalist Economics", works like "The IMF-WB Group, the International Economic Order and the Philippine experience", "Towards a New Economic Order and the Conquest of Mass Poverty", "The Philippine Crisis", and "Hunger, Corruption, and Betrayal", did left some reminders, or Bluprints for a progressive society  a nation has to work over.  

In reading some of his works, Lichauco deserves the praise and constructive criticism rather than those who favour to become stooges of neoliberalism and imperialism. His economics speaks of domestic based development, focusing on production and the desire to ensure the needs of many given that the Philippines as abundant in natural resources enough to feed its people via industrialisation, agrarian reform, and genuine community development enough to ensure employment, services, products Filipinos yearning for. The system actually failed him regardless of his credentials, knowing that his inclinations counter those of the establishment, as well as outside agencies ranging from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and other international moneylending agencies who at the same time imposing policies detrimental to genuine national development, while his works, his recommendations, as nothing but whinings if not research works fit for academic purposes, or bluprints that are left hidden in the archives waiting fir its eventual disposal. 

For a writer and lecturer of sorts, he serves as an inspiration for some Nationalist-oriented economists and aspiring National Industrialists, the way others had afforded to babble Adam Smith, Milton Friedman or Ludwig von Mises to the free trade school. And since he had a share of appraisers, he also had a share of slanderers whom are trying to destroy his views in favour of free trade and globalisation. That his slanderers may have called him supportive of the oligarchs with the logic of equating economic protectionism to those of oligarchs and compradores, but no! His protectionism is far from the way oligarchs interpret of, and oligarchs are also themselves compradores by nature, thinking about production via total industrialisation as detrimental to their commercial interests and favoring foreign direct investments. And although there are men like Gregorio Araneta, Elizalde, and Andres Soriano, whom had even tried to deal with domestic-based production as envisioned by the patriots of old, with their RFM, YCO, TANDUAY, and SAN MIGUEL as its brand names, it failed to steer beyond their interests being compradores (and landlords) and submissive to the interests of international moneylending agencies; but today's compradores like Lucio Tan, Manny Pangilinan, and Henry Sy, had altogether failed to emphasise "nationalist economics" of their forefathers and instead really emphasising their compradore inclinations "to the bones" that includes submission to neoliberal interests just to ensure their prestige and survival. If they afforded to read Lichauco's then maybe for a short while knowing that it has nothing to do, or contrary to, with their actually existing views interpreted as "realistic".  
That until today being insisted by today's economists and its apologetics. Yes, they yearn free trade, direct foreign investment, 100% foreign ownership of companies, and others aligned with neoliberalism and dependency on international finance capital. Yet the Philippines, amidst its façade of development being bragged by the system ranging from 1950s-era flour silos to industrial complexes dealing with assembly line and service industries, remains pre-industrial or as what Lichauco said: "an economy that belongs to the 17th century" with all the dominating haciendas, backward agriculture, and reluctance to rolling its own sleeves and forge, regardless of what this writer had stated such as flour silos and industrial complexes that requires assembled materials from abroad. "Even screwdrivers are to be imported from Abroad" as what Lichauco said in his lecture. 

After all, since the Philippines is newly industrialised country, then how come Hacienda Luisita has to employ hundreds of machete-wielding people to harvest sugarcane, is the Cojuangcos prefering old school manpower than a group of machine-operated harvesters? Of letting the steel industry be aborted decades ago simply because of cheap steel from abroad if not threats from outside agencies? No matter what they oppose, right was Lichauco et al. to revive the idea that was shelved during the 1950s. Bernardo Villegas, Gerardo Sicat, and other members of the free trade school such as in UP School of Economics, continues to assert globalisation and dependency on international finance capital, but in the end these ideas nothing but aggravating neocolonialism that a patriot has to oppose with in favour of Nationalist-oriented Economics! Even John Maynard Keynes who was once into free trade did eventually acknowledge the need for protectionism to ensure the basic industries, employment, and international reserves a nation has to keep and invest. Pardon to the reader to express this writer's view in disagreeing the free trade school that disregards industrialisation and emphasising import liberalisation. 

In his passing to eternity, Lichauco's aspirations will soon be realise. Through a common program that serves as a statement of unity, he and other patriots serves as a reference, an inspiration, and example to the succeeding generations worthy of an example.