SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Ferdinand C. Maquito “Manila Report – Spring 2020”
The President of the Philippines put the Manila metropolitan area in lockdown on March 12, 2020. It has been the first time in my life that all the schools are closed and teachers and staff members had to stay at homes. This “Lockdown Order” was the worst situation that I have been worrying about since January 30, when the WHO (World Health Organization) announced PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern).
During the grace period until enforcement of the order, I had a choice to return to Manila from Los Baños. But I decided to stay in Los Baños together with my nephew for the sake of scattering of family.
Luckily enough, we could keep using internet and hear public opinions through SNS.
I made up my mind starting from “Sustainable Shared Growth Policy Brief” which is a part of my research theme “Sustainable Shared Growth”.
I would like to introduce my first report hereunder.
To begin with, infectious diseases come from the natural environments. Some people say that it is a conspiracy of biological weapons because of the conflict between America and China. But, research papers, which coronavirus grew naturally, are leading. In the theory of disasters, concept of vulnerability and resiliency is important. If we talk about such theory in the concept of time, vulnerability is for “before diseases” and the point is whether it is damageable or not.
Resiliency is a theory for “after diseases”. There are many reports in which vulnerability and resiliency depends on the factors in distribution of income and development of economy. Distribution of income would become worse and development of economy would become lower, vulnerability becomes higher and resiliency becomes lower. In developing countries like the Philippines which distribution of income and wealth are not good, had serious problems after the pandemic this time.
To absorb the shock of pandemic, the government, various public organizations and societies, the citizens of the Philippines had applied every possible countermeasure up to now. Stepping from such serious struggles, I like to evaluate this pandemic from viewpoints of “sustainable shared growth”, namely from circumstances, fairness and efficiency. For further explanations for sustainable shared growth, I like to proceed on three dimensions, time, space and universe.
◆Sustainability and Time
In environmental economics, it is an important policy on how natural resources shall be distributed between present and future generations. We can find such views in the definition of “Sustainable Development” saying “development which satisfies both the present and future generations”. Such views have been focused also in the report by the World Committee of Environment and Development, which has been announced on April, 1987. Distribution of natural resources among various generations is decided depending on the period of planning (either short time or middle/long time) by policy planners.
The environment which has clean air and water and no diseases are considered as natural resources. In order to distribute such environment to each generations, certain amount of funds are necessary. When certain policy proposals for the pandemics would be made, middle or long-term finance shall be necessary. It is a kind of insurance and can be used in the Philippines too. As an example of market-oriented fund, there was a “catastrophe bond” of the World Bank. Though people have criticized that the bonding conditions were too severe, the World Bank has gathered 320 million dollars from investors and such a way of thinking was proved to be effective measures. Such kind of fund is market oriented and we can say it is useful to promote investment for the sake of evaluation, dispersion and reduction of risks against pandemics.
◆Shared Growth and Time
In development economics, there is a theory of “Inverted U-shaped Curves” by Simon S. Kuznets. He separated the economic development process into two phases. In the first phase, the gap becomes bigger when the economy develops and at the second phase, the gaps become smaller. Some researchers say that it can be applied to the Philippines.
As mentioned above, distribution of income or wealth depend on the phases in vulnerability and resiliency against disasters and it is indispensable to flatten the “Kuznets curve”. In other words, when shared growth in developing countries will be materialized smoothly, they can lower vulnerability and can raise resiliency.
◆Sustainability and Space
There is no border in environmental issue. It is applied to pandemics too. When we elaborate measures for pandemics, we have to cooperate across borders.
In such cases, a multinational organization like the WHO is necessary. Though there is criticism against the WHO in the Philippines, there is no change in the opinions that any international organizations shall be necessary to cope with pandemics. The reasons why the WHO fall into such situations, came from decrease of contributions from member nations and an increase in voluntary donations. They have lost their composures to carry out their missions. It is necessary to change their structures. I think they should start from the revival of contributions by member nations. Since the West Pacific Headquarter of the WHO is in Manila, the Philippines are in a good position for lobbying activities to participate positively.
◆Shared Growth and Space
One of the basic patterns of the shared growth is decentralization. Through decentralization, growth will spread from traditional growth hub and be shared as a result. The growth hub was attacked first by the pandemic this time to disable it. I can say it is natural results of globalization. We have to develop growth hubs in each country to connect together. Infectious diseases spread very fast and attacked growth hubs one after another. In order to strengthen such growth hubs, I think it is necessary to disperse or decentralize our growth.
◆Sustainable Shared Growth and Alternate Universe
As mentioned above, if sustainable shared growth (harmonize with environment, fairness and efficiency) in our societies would get into gear, difficulties by COVID-19 might be reduced. I have kept appealing that we should have such development in the Philippines more than these 20 years. I emphasized such opinions at the 5th Asia Conference which was held in Manila and Los Baños in January this year. Pandemics this time made clear that such sustainable shared growth is necessary in the world.
Lockdown was relaxed partly both in Manila and Los Baños in June. But it will be necessary for us to be prepared for severe lives which come from pandemics.
In order to overcome such difficulties, it is important to (1) be intent on something and (2) keep good relations among family and friends.
Ferdinand C. Maquito /Researcher of SGRA Shared Growth Seminar, Associated Professor at Los Baños School, the Philippines University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala