By Herbert Vego
SINCE my previous articles on inflation have earned encouraging “likes,” let me write an update on the subject. While it’s not literally true that inflation has impoverished millionaires, the plain truth is that a million pesos today no longer makes its possessor rich. No thanks to the current 6.3% inflation rate, one US dollar now costs P57.43.
One of the culprits behind the weakening peso is the traders’ demand for dollars with which to import rice and sugar, among other basic commodities, on the doubtful pretext that we are running out of local production. Santisima! These are natural resources that we are supposed to be rich in.
Smugglers would even be willing to buy dollars at higher rates just to profit from hoarding imported rice and sugar.
Time was when our parents thought that a million pesos would last them a lifetime. Why not? In the early 1960s when I was in high school, the minimum wage of one hundred twenty pesos (P120) a month could fill the needs of a family of six.
Now let’s see how one million pesos would perform in the hands of the middle class, as in those who earn P30,000 a month or P360,000 annually. Assuming the earner spends as much, one million pesos would take less than three years to spend.
Today, a minimum-wage employee earning P500 per day would collect P15,000 a month for a total of P180,000 a year. By the end of the sixth year, he would have made more than a million pesos but with none of it saved. Worse, he could wallow in debt due to unforeseen emergencies.
Going down memory lane, I was 10 years young in 1960 when our parents took us four kids to Quezon City for a two-month summer vacation. We rented a two-floor apartment at 23-A Dapitan St. for only P60 per month.
While a millionaire in the 1960s could be considered a tycoon, it was also in that decade that we felt the diminution of the peso’s buying power. In 1962 when I was a lad of 12, the 10-centavo price of bottled soft drink escalated to 15 centavos.
In 1967, I took night classes at MLQ University in Manila so I could work during weekdays at the Bureau of Post’s foreign mails division. The minimum wage then was six pesos per day.
As an excited new worker, I bought a pair of leather shoes at fifteen pesos, which was the equivalent of two and a half days’ work. The same pair of shoes would cost at least P3,000 today.
President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law declaration in 1972 led to sharp devaluation of the peso from seven to 11 per dollar. Anyone could imagine how sharper the decline has been since then.
WHAT AWAITS BBM IN NEW YORK?
AS a well-reported event, the trip of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to New York City to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) tomorrow (September 20) is “aimed at highlighting the Philippines’ role in international cooperation.”
He must have flown yesterday, unless he had changed his mind.
This has drawn mixed reactions at home and abroad, especially because of doubts on the legitimacy of his win over former Vice-President Leni Robredo.
Will US President Joe Biden welcome him with open arms as he had hoped to happen? Well, take it from a report that it was Biden who had invited him “despite a $353-million contempt judgment by a US court.” BBM, as Marcos is now better known, believes he has diplomatic immunity.
Let us skip that issue, which has already been well-covered in the mainstream media. The question that most probably haunts him now is whether the Filipino community would cherish his US visit.
We can imagine Filipinos in New York City preparing to rally against his “fraudulent accession” based on the findings of the International Observers Mission (IOM), whose 60 observers from 11 countries came to the country incognito before and during the May 9, 2022 presidential election.
“These observers,” according to a news report, “have documented election-related human rights violations including vote buying, failure of the electronic voting-counting system, misinformation, red-tagging and threats, and even killings.”
Severine De Laveleye, a Belgian parliamentarian and president of IOM, said that the May 9 election was “marred by a higher level of failure of the electronic voting system than ever before.”
So, what good will President Marcos’ trip to New York achieve? Goodwill?
I doubt that. Chances are, anti-Marcos protesters are now preparing to take to the streets to denounce his “fraudulent 31 million votes” and to expose graft and corruption in his “illegitimate first two months and a half in office”.
We have yet to hear, however, from the biggest Filipino-American billionaire, Loida Nicolas Lewis, who had campaigned hard for Leni Robredo among Filipino overseas voters in different US states.
RODRIGUEZ’S RESIGNATION GOOD FOR HIM
IT did not shock the “socially aware” that Vic Rodriguez resigned from his post as Executive Secretary in the heat of the Senate investigation on his alleged involvement in the forged presidential authority to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar.
He lied about quitting to devote quality time for his family.
On the contrary, is it to duck rejection by Congress’ Commission on Appointments?
Vic is rumored to have “sold” cabinet positions for a hundred million pesos each. Come one Maritess, prove it.
The big proof that Rodriguez is lying is in his own announcement that BBM would appoint him “chief of staff,” which would not require the commission’s approval.
Drum roll for Vic please. As such, he could play “little president” akin to Bong Go in Du30’s time.