"What’s happening all around us? "
From Asia to South America with the Middle East in between, the world is in flux, rocked by protest movements against government corruption, inequality and unemployment. Except in Hong Kong where a million people are defying the central government in Beijing because of infringement on their political rights due to the onerous extradition proposal, the three issues mentioned are stoking the flames of unrest.
In Lebanon, Algeria, Iraq and Egypt, people are protesting against their leaders for enriching themselves while the populace remain impoverished. The middle class has joined the protesters because they too feel the pinch of poverty that could also affect them.
In Chile, 19 people so far have died when the protests turned violent and the police used tear gas and water cannons.
The issues in the protest-hit countries are also felt by Filipinos but not enough to send them off onto the streets. Poll surveys continue to show the Duterte administration’s acceptance rating remains high.
Some of the issues in these restive countries are also present in the Philippines but somehow have not reached a point of mass protests. We have high unemployment but Filipinos managed to find work in other countries easing the pressure point at home.
Chile, which gained a prosperous economy after the fall of the Allende government, has fallen into a stagnant economy sparking unrest among the people. In Bolivia indigenous President Evo Morales is facing protests because of the widespread unemployment. Morales’ recent reelection is also being contested, allegedly because of attendant fraud.
In Iraq which has never been the same since US troops dislodged dictator Saddam Hussein and his oppressive regime, demonstrators are protesting government corruption and high unemployment.
Meanwhile, 39 bodies were discovered in a locked-up truck in Essex, England. Initially, British police said they were Chinese nationals but later reported autopsies will be done to determine the nationality of the victims. One of them was found out to be a Vietnamese woman. The Vietnamese embassy in London said they would work with British police to determine the nationalities of the other corpses.
If indeed the victims were Chinese, then it can be said they could also be protesters who showed their disaffection with the Chinese government’s stifling control over the Hong Kong people. There are talks that the victims were Hong Kong protesters who are afraid they would be arrested after the unrest in the former British colony is subdued. If extradited to mainland China, the protesters fear they don’t have a chance of a fair trial.
In the Philippines, living conditions have not reached critical level. The number of hungry people have in fact decreased in the third quarter of the year, according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey. Corruption is still prevalent in the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine National Police but generally kept at low level by the Duterte administration.
Despite allegations of extra judicial killings in the police operations against drug trafficking, the people feel that the rule of law still exists. What is disquieting though are the daily reports of assassinations of public officials, mostly from the local government sector which authorities claim are politically motivated.
Aside from corruption in some government agencies, the administration has to address certain health issues like dengue, polio and the African Swine Fever which is causing hardship in the local processed meat industry. Pampanga the source of most of these processed meat like tocino, longganisa and chicharon or crispy fried pork intestines is asking the Food and Drug Administration to assure consumers that processed pork is safe since it is cooked long in high heat. Ham, a traditional food during the Christmas holidays, has gone up in price this early.
The government is offering financial help to hog raisers to ease their difficulty. The people in the pork industry are being asked not to hide ASF-infected hogs so as to prevent its spread.
The side effects of the swine flu scare has raised the prices of other basic Filipino food like fish, chicken and beef, including vegetables.