Civil unrest?

For governments unable to spend their way out of the crisis, repression is likely to be the main response to anti-government protests.

September 7, 2022

Can we still reliably rely on the prevailing conventional dogma that Filipino resiliency will get us through our present day struggles over soaring prices and shortages of basic necessities?

We are prompted to ask that question following last week’s report from risk analysts predicting increased global civil unrest in the coming months over soaring food and energy prices.

Specifically, analysts of the UK-based risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft say 101 out of 198 countries now have a heightened risk of conflict and instability.

“With more than 80 percent of countries around the world seeing inflation above six percent, socioeconomic risks are reaching critical levels,” Verisk warned.

“We’re talking about numerous powder kegs around the world simply waiting for that spark to be ignited. We don’t know where that spark will come first,” Jimena Blanco, the company’s chief analyst, said.

“Over the coming months,” the firm said, “governments across the world are about to get an answer to a burning question: Will protests sparked by socioeconomic pressure transform into broader and more disruptive anti-government action?”

We need to concern ourselves with that burning question. In fact, the country is one of the countries named by Verisk as facing a risky immediate future.

In its report Verisk said “countries such as Egypt, the Philippines and Zimbabwe that were able to offer support to people during the Covid-19 pandemic are now struggling to maintain levels of social spending, which could cause discontent.”

Naming the country as a potential hotbed of discontent has basis.

The country’s inflation rate is now running above six percent, with fears inflation may rise even higher after the peso hit its lowest level in years. This in turn raises legitimate worries over price increases on a staggering number of necessary but imported commodities.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno also warns that government subsidies to the poor are exhausted and can no longer be sustained.

We cannot, therefore, ignore possibilities of civil unrest in our midst.

In fact, answering our original question, ignoring the risks of civil unrest by invoking the comfortable dogma of Filipino resiliency just might not work this time around.

Particularly now that our troubles with shortages and rising prices of basic necessities are of the kind that even leaves our comfort foods bland and tasteless.

Frankly, in my view, Filipino resiliency is nothing but a lazy man’s flattering yet empty rhetoric of the indomitable Filipino spirit, of real value only to the affluent suffering from “compassion fatigue,” but not to the poor simply running out of resources.

Invoking resiliency when things have not been going well debases our truth-seeking selves as well: We hypocritically invoke it in order to hide the fact we’re nervously biting our nails over what’s in store if civil unrest does break out.

Yet the fact is we do know the imminent dangers.

Verisk says that in parallel with worldwide big protests over prices, “we’ve seen a trend of a weakening of democratic countries and of free speech. That’s why we expect a lot more civil unrest this year and going into next year.”

“For governments unable to spend their way out of the crisis, repression is likely to be the main response to anti-government protests,” the analysts explain of the dangers ahead of us.

But arbitral power provokes even more risks of unrest.

“Suppression comes with its own risks, leaving disgruntled populations with fewer mechanisms for channeling their dissent at a time of growing frustration with the status quo.”

As such, Verisk says relieving potential civil unrest really has but one solution — “significant reduction” in food and energy prices.

A fact which should get this government on its toes in the next few weeks.

But seeking out all possible ways and means to reduce prices isn’t only the unavoidable challenge of the Executive department, but also of our lackluster legislature.

But lawmakers nowadays are like sadists jumping up and down in a sex orgy whose only real call is demanding from Filipinos masochistically endure “pain and sacrifice” when they themselves don’t undergo pain or sacrifice. Let’s smother them with disgrace so they’ll work their asses off.

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