Buying Filipino (again)

. . . is the topic of my latest Trade Tripper column in this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld. Excerpts:

"But the most glaring reason why we shouldn’t have a Buy Filipino measure in any government response to the economic situation is that we already have a Buy Filipino law for government procurement: the Flag Law, Commonwealth Act No. 138. That law has been around since 'pistaym,' enacted when Manuel Quezon was president (and affirmed recently by RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act), and definitely brings into question the efficacy of Buy Filipino measures. All this goes to prove the point: Buy Filipino measures and even President Garcia’s Filipino First policy have never been helpful to the Philippines. They were ineffectual at best and at worst encouraged corruption, aiding only the loudest of cronies and lobbyists, helping the local 'elite' families maintain their exclusive hold on the country’s remaining wealth, and kept our poor remain poor.

Finally, while there’s no doubt that our manufacturing and export industries are hurting, the best thing to do nevertheless is to focus available government funds on helping the laid-off workers and the poor through unemployment insurance, allowances, lesser taxes for the lower income groups, expanded credit for SMEs, and further training and improved education. What should not be done is to provide financial aid to the companies themselves.

Philippine companies will just have to produce better products. Rather than forcing our citizens to patronize mediocrity, they should be allowed to voluntarily reward only those local companies that performed competitively. That, rather than being protectionists, is the better and patriotic version of 'Buy Filipino.'"