If I’m not mistaken, good friend Caloy Conde was the first to post the joint statement of the foreign chambers condemning the spree of unsolved killings. (His post includes an earlier statement from a group of American companies doing business in the Philippines.)
His posting reminded me of something I had written half a year ago, and his on-point reply.
On June 1st, I wrote:
Yesterday’s economic good news, however, makes me think the real way to put pressure on the Arroyo administration to stop the killings and jail the killers is to argue from economics. Quantify, say, the economic costs of lost investor confidence, because hundreds of political activists and journalists have been killed in the last five years, and perhaps we may finally get somewhere.
That same day, Caloy responded:
John’s idea is good, except that it may be based on a debatable premise — that investors have shied away from the Philippines because of the killings. The murders, as far as I can tell, do not have a direct impact on how investors do business here ….
So unless the various chambers, including the foreign ones, come out with a strong position condemning these killings and urging Arroyo to really do something, or else they’ll pull out their investments, I don’t see change in the horizon.
Quantifying the costs was one possible option; as Caloy correctly pointed out, a strong joint statement from the foreign chambers of commerce is another. The point, simply, is that the Arroyo administration now wittingly or unwittingly traces part of its legitimacy, its mandate, to economic growth. If that legitimacy is threatened, even by the mere rumor of rumblings in the chamber circuit, then perhaps something will get done.