Duterte warns of one down­side of ‘glob­al­iza­tion’: Brain and brawn drain

Manila Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY RIGOBERTO TIGLAO Colum­nist TiglaoA6

IWAS very pleas­antly sur­prised when Pres­i­dent Duterte, for most of his work­ing life a city mayor in Min­danao and hardly known to be an avid reader, demon­strated a grasp of such a com­plex is­sue – “glob­al­iza­tion.”

- op­er­a­tion (APEC) CEO Sum­mit in Viet­nam last week, af­ter his speech, - fer­ence asked him about his views on the “rise in anti-glob­al­iza­tion feel­ings in some coun­tries.”

too fa­mil­iar with the Philip­pines. Here, “glob­al­iza­tion”— the dis­man­tling of na­tions’ bor­ders to com­modi­ties, and even peo­ple—is

be­lieved in and em­braced al­most on the same level as the Catholic faith.

Not a few mil­len­ni­als even think that it is chic to de­clare that they are only sec­on­dar­ily Filipinos, but are “global cit­i­zens” — an oxy­moron as cit­i­zen­ship im­ply a sin­gle na­tion- state. Even the con­cept of a Filip­ina beauty—just look at our re­cent beauty pageant queens—has been “glob­al­ized,” so have our bas­ket­ball, why even our vol­ley­ball teams, and few no­tice.

The dog­matic be­lief in glob­al­iza­tion is due to sev­eral fac­tors, among them: our colo­nial his­tory, es­pe­cially the Amer­i­can oc­cu­pa­tion dur­ing which we were brain­washed to be­lieve that we were Asia’s “brown Amer­i­cans”; the fact that the ed­u­ca­tion of our elites have been in the US, where the ide­ol­ogy of glob­al­iza­tion—also called the Wash­ing­ton Con­sen­sus—was im­bued on them; and the mas­sive mi­gra­tion, per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary, of lower- mid­dle­class to up­per-class Filipinos to the US and else­where.

Duterte seemed to have ei­ther stud­ied the is­sue or saw its ac­tual im­pact on or­di­nary peo­ple and was bold enough to tell the APEC CEO Sum­mit of the down­sides of glob­al­iza­tion.

Dam­aged economies

Duterte started his re­ply: “Glob­al­iza­tion, to a cer­tain ex­tent has re­ally dam­aged poor economies. Glob­al­iza­tion by it­self is the de­pri­va­tion of some, those who have been called ‘ left be­hind.’ There has be to some re­me­dial mea­sures.”

Duterte ze­roed in on one clear, very neg­a­tive im­pact of glob­al­iza­tion, for decades known in our coun­try as the phe­nom­e­non of “brain drain.”

Duterte ex­plained: “The best of our young minds, Filipinos—the summa cum laudes, the vale­dic­to­ri­ans—upon grad­u­a­tion, they go some­where else, most of them to Amer­ica. So, they are there, they are in Sil­i­con Val­ley or New York and they tend to gather in places where there is al­ready an econ­omy that is thriv­ing, and leav­ing be­hind a coun­try get­ting bereft of tal­ent.”

We have been un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the ef­fect of our coun­try’s brain drain, as glob­al­iza­tion has ac cap­i­tal and goods, but of our ed­u­cated elite. It is a myth that it has been our poor who have mostly mi­grated abroad. It is rather the lower mid­dle class to the up­per class, in­clud­ing even the crème de la crème. Half of my Ate­neo batch in high school and col­lege have mi­grated to the US and Canada

I was shocked a few years ago that even an old col­league of mine who had been one of the our top in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists aban­doned her coun­try to live a New Yorker’s life -- teach­ing Amer­i­cans jour­nal­ism in a top-notch (and ex­pen­sive) univer­sity. And she was rel­a­tively well-off, one whom I had thought was im­bued with the na­tion­al­ism of the 1970s and 1980s, now all but van­ish­ing.

Her case would be like a tu­ber­cu­lo­sis doc­tor ed­u­cated in state-sub­si­dized Univer­sity of the Philip­pines and trained at the Philippine Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal who, af­ter be­com­ing a very skilled doc­tor, mi­grates to New York to prac­tice cos­metic surgery there. How bet­ter would the state of jour­nal­ism in our coun­try have been – and there­fore of our democ­racy – if she chose to re­main in her coun­try? Now she’s to­tally been brain­washed in US ne­olib­eral ide­ol­ogy that she writes bi­ased ar­ti­cles in US pub­li­ca­tions on the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion, in one case even us­ing wrong data – as many other jour­nal­ists who have moved to the US have done.

Hu­man cap­i­tal

The eco­nomic his­tory of the world has one ma­jor les­son: It is hu­man cap­i­tal –- peo­ple’s tal­ents, in­tel­li­gence, and skills –that is one of the big­gest fac­tors for growth. A very back­ward ter­ri­tory like Aus­tralia and New Zealand swiftly be­came de­vel­oped na­tions in a few decades es­sen­tially be­cause of the mi­gra­tion there of the Bri­tish, who of course brought with them cen­turies of civ­i­liza­tion that al­low the blos­som­ing of a hu­man’s tal­ents and skills. The same phe­nom­e­non with tiny Is­rael, which is even a nu­clear power, in that case mi­gra­tion of mainly Euro­pean Jews.

A rig­or­ous eco­nomic study in Tai­wan us­ing ac­tual in­dus­trial data con­cluded that “hu­man cap­i­tal ac­counts for 46 per­cent of out­put growth in the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try.” A more re­cent study in Spain had sim­i­lar re­sults, em­pha­siz­ing that eco­nomic growth is best ac­cel­er­ated by peo­ple with higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Ja­pan and Korea in the 1950s and 1960s and China in the 1980s sent hun­dreds of their youth to the US and Europe for stud­ies in en­gi­neer­ing, math­e­mat­ics, and busi­ness – most of whom re­turned to help in the eco­nomic growth of their coun­tries. How many Filipinos go to the US to study and never come back, and in­stead move to global eco­nomic cen­ters? How many UP-ed­u­cated doc­tors have left the coun­try, many re­port­edly even agree­ing to be nurses in­stead so they could more eas­ily get jobs?

Duterte even pointed out that our prob­lem isn’t only “brain drain” but what has been called “brawn drain.”

“The Philip­pines is hav­ing a boom in real es­tate but de­velop the work­ers and that leaves us be­hind in terms of how long it would take to com­plete a project,” he said. “They have to scrape to build houses. These are the ef­fects of glob­al­iza­tion.”

Brain- and brawn-drain has cer­tainly be­come a prob­lem that has been colos­sally un­der­es­ti­mated, and I hope Duterte walks the talk on this. Busi­nesses, whether for­eign or Filipino, would see no use for mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture if work­ers and in­tel­li­gent staff to man their com­pa­nies.

The need to re­place mil­lions of ed­u­cated and skilled Filipinos who have mi­grated abroad, fa­cil­i­tated by glob­al­iza­tion, has be­come more ur­gent, even as our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem has de­te­ri­o­rated. The irony, if you can call it that, as I found out dur­ing my am­bas­sado­rial stint in of our do­mes­tic work­ers abroad are – school teach­ers.

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