DREAM BIG | Of Manchester and Marawi

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BY MANNY VILLAR
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Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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IN 75 days between mid-March and early June this year, the United Kingdom was hit by three terrorist attacks that left dozens dead and more than 100 injured.

On March 22, 52-year-old British citizen Khalid Masood drove his car on the pavement on Westminster Bridge killing four pedestrians and injuring 50 others. He got out of his car when it crashed into railings and killed an unarmed police officer with a knife before he was shot dead by a bodyguard of a government official.

In the evening of May 22, 22-year-old British-born Salman Abedi detonated a bomb packed with bolts and screws at Manchester Arena just as thousands of people were leaving after a concert by Ariana Grande. The explosion left a total of 23 people, including the bomber, dead and more than 115 injured.

The third attack, which was launched on June 5, three terrorists in a rented van plowed through pedestrians on London Bridge up to Borough Market where they alighted from the vehicle and went on a stabbing rampage. Eight people were killed and at least 48 were injured.

The series of terrorist attacks (experts are saying more are likely to be made) would have created an atmosphere of fear among the people, disrupting normal activities and even causing instability in a country, but these did not happen in the UK, which also proceeded with a snap election as scheduled last week.

I believe the reason is the United Kingdom’s strength, and its people’s resilience. Terrorist attacks are like fires that cannot be sustained if the surroundings are wet. It’s like trying to build a fire in the middle of a calm pond—it may burn something but it will not dry down the pond, or bring down a nation.

While the terrorist attacks in the UK are different from what happened in Marawi, the Philippines and Filipinos are showing the same strength and resilience as the European nation.

Members of the Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City last May 23, prompting President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to impose martial law in the whole of Mindanao.

In another time, or perhaps with another chief executive, the terrorist attack and the imposition of martial law would have created an atmosphere of fear among the people and pessimism among investors. The economy, in particular, would have started to derail from its accelerating and robust growth. It did not.

Published reports cited BMI Research as saying the imposition of martial law in Mindanao was unlikely to derail economic growth of above 6 percent this year.

I believe the strength of our economy is shielding us from any adverse impact of the terrorist attack in Marawi City. I saw a news report quoting a stock market analyst as saying the declaration of martial law in Mindanao did not spook investors.

Optimism among investors and consumers remain high, the stock market is booming and the peso continues to strengthen against the dollar.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) closed at a 10-year high of 8,001.38 points on June 5. In another report, the PSE said the combined income of listed companies grew by 17.8 percent to P683.30 billion in 2016 from P580.15 billion in 2015. Consolidated revenues rose by 6.6 percent to P7 trillion from 2015’s P84 trillion.

The “World Investment Report 2017” of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) also confirmed the Philippines’ increasing attractiveness as an investment destination. According to the report, the Philippines is the second most-favored destination for foreign direct investments (FDI) in Southeast Asia, and the 10th overall.

The Philippines emerged as the top performer in Southeast Asia last year, when it recorded a 60-percent growth in FDI inflows. The benefits of a growing economy also continue to show in the employment sector. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the unemployment rate declined to 5.7 percent in April 2017, down from 6.1 percent in April 2016 and the lowest in more than 10 years.

Underemployment also went down to a low of 16.1 percent, or from 7.43 million in April 2016 to 6.47 million in the same month this year.

These developments comprise what I call the positive side of what is happening in Marawi, which does not receive as much publicity as the terrorist activities.

We should realize that in the end, the strength of the republic and its people will make it very difficult for terrorists to succeed. We need to support President Duterte’s efforts to boost the economy and sustain its growth to ensure that terrorists will never be able to sow fear among us.

Let’s ponder on what Manchester Mayor Eddy Newman said during a tribute to the victims of the May 22 bombing: “The people of Manchester will remember the victims forever and we will defy the terrorists by working together to create cohesive, diverse communities that are stronger together.”

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This piece first came out in Business Mirror on June 12, 2017 under the column “The Entrepreneur.” For comments/feedback e-mail to: [email protected] or visitwww.mannyvillar.com.ph./PN)

 

 

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