Score one for sex video scandals, zero for the economy
Or make that 0.4 percent for the economy, the rate of its growth for the first three months this year.
Besides being the lowest in ten years, the first quarter turnout is also below government expectations.
This has prompted Manila to warn of a recession, defined as an economic decline for six months or more.
But who’s keeping track? Or more appropriately who cares?
No one, save for businessmen, economists, geeks, and business reporters who are required to ensure the veracity of their facts and figures.
A recession — or even the possibility of it — is bad news.
And to many Filipinos, bad news is old hat.
Whether in the form of a power rate hike, a fare increase, or yes, even a recession, such developments are taken as a matter of routine; the knee-jerk reaction of a people who have long been deprived of their rightful share in the country’s financial bounty.
As a result, even after the government dared mention the “R” word, it barely caused a stir.
Sure, a continued slowdown raises the specter of factory closures and job losses.
So what else is new?
In a country where the number of jobs is — and has always been — as inadequate as the number of honest and competent officials, news of the economic slowdown is par for the course.
This explains why on Thursday — the same day the government warned of a recession — the whole country was agog with activities in the Philippine Senate.
Unfortunately, it was for reasons barely connected with legislation.
The august chamber was holding an investigation into a sex video scandal, involving actress Katrina Halili and her doctor, Hayden Kho Jr.
Not only was it given full, blow-by-blow coverage by television, radio, and internet news Web sites, the Senate hearing was unquestionably the day’s biggest event.
And that was just the beginning.
The event may yet attract more cameras and commentary as the Senate proceeds with the investigation supposedly in aid of legislation.
Meanwhile, substantial airtime and bandwidth alloted to the sex video scandal prompted a concerned citizen to send an email to GMANews.TV, which is my employer.
It could have been addressed to anyone.
“It’s time you all started to deal with, and report, the important issues facing the Philippine Republic,” the email message said. “I love this country, the people are the nicest in the world, but it may be about to go into recession and OFWs around the globe are already feeling the effects of the international recession.”
“It is no secret to the rest of the world that the Philippines is plagued with rampant corruption that reaches the highest levels of government, and you choose to waste 45 minutes discussing a sex tape for days on end?”
Point well taken.
Thanks F. for the reminder.
Except that between sex and serious business, very few would arguably choose the latter.
A slightly altered version of this piece can be found here.