As the world turns

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

First minute all eyes are on the APEC summit happening this week on our very shores. In a split second, France announces a state of emergency due to the terrorist attacks in Paris. The following day, there is a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Japan’s south-western coast, triggering a small tsunami. What a horrific and terrifying weekend!

Pope Francis himself said, “I am shaken, I don’t understand these things, done by human beings... There cannot be justification, religious or human. It’s inhuman.” He has called the attacks in Paris “a piece” of the “piecemeal Third World War.” He is worried about events taking place around the world: “Today we are in a world at war everywhere! Someone told me, ‘You know, Father, we are in the Third World War, but it is being fought in ‘piecemeal.’ It is a world at war, where these acts of cruelty take place.”

Indeed, there seems to be an effort all over the world to destabilize governments and demoralize people. What happened to France was a well-planned attack that even happened on Friday the 13th. Was this a coincidence? The same mischievous fit happened in New York during the 9/11 attack. Al-Qaeda in 9/11? ISIS in 11/13? In Paris, 129 were killed, 352 wounded by the terror attacks. A day before the Paris attack a double suicide bombing claimed 43 lives and wounded more than 240 others in a crowded souk Thursday in this Hezbollah-controlled Shia suburb in southern Beirut. What about in the Middle East where death becomes? Everyday more than a hundred people die. In late September this year, the office of the UN human rights chief reported the civilian death toll to 2,355 over the last six months. Last year more than 200,000 died in Syria and five years ago 1.5 million died in Iraq. The irony is that the countries that created and fueled these attacks are the super powers of the world. Surely, the attackers are supported by a strong terrorist network backed up by big organizations that can provide sophisticated ammunition and professional training.

Civilized nations are getting together in their desire to make a difference in achieving world peace. But is our perception right? What is happening behind the scenes? Backroom negotiations can be very lethal and dangerous.

Are the civilized nations really and truly just? Are their leaders sincere and truthful? Or do they continue to encourage the production and sale of arms to the barbarians? Do they continue to pose a threat to our environment and destroy the earth by producing energies that kill humanity? All these super powers must look within. Greed has clearly taken over. Instead of fixing the problem fairly and properly, the irresponsible decisions made by these leaders have brought more havoc and dangerous new trends in conquering the world.

Listen to the leaders who sent their messages of support to France. Are their words consistent with their actions? US President Obama said, “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need. Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong.” The Kremlin said, “Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes. Western defense alliance NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “We stand strong and united in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism will never defeat democracy.” The German government has also expressed their message of sympathy and solidarity through German Chancellor Angela Merkel. President Aquino said, “The Philippines and its people stand in solidarity with the people of Paris and all of France in this time of deepest sorrow and the gravest outrage against the perpetrators of these crimes.”

Each leader exudes a character that can make or break a nation. Every nation’s agenda may sound good but may pose danger and in reality contribute to the destruction of mankind. Modern western politics need massive reforms to undertake a practical solution to promote peace with no conditions.

The other way of dominating this modern world of ours is through economic means. This is why the role of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC for short composed of 21 member economies is vital. Its members are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Who amongst these countries do you think has or will sincerely help in achieving world peace? Who are earnestly considering a sustainable future for humanity and mother earth?

The main objective of APEC as an economic forum is to bring about sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. If you deepen your research about these economies, you will discover that only half of the member states are actually true to the ideals set by this organization. The other half is still going through some sort of identity crisis. A few have hidden agendas.

In line with the mission, APEC advocates free and open trade among member economies unhindered by tariffs or duties and other barriers.  Now, this is where a major problem lies. Can these nations trust one another? Is there such a thing as a gentleman’s agreement written in fine print that abuse of power must not be part of the game?

APEC also champions the integration of economic policies, promotion of economic and technical cooperation, enhancement of human security, and facilitation of a favorable business environment in Asia-Pacific. Wow! Is this true? Then why are some member states not respecting these protocols? Sanamagan!

In 2004, as submitted in 2007 APEC Economic Policy Report, “The 2004 Leaders’ Agenda to Implement Structural Reform towards 2010 (LAISR 2010) aimed to facilitate cooperation and dialogue on five structural reform priority areas: competition policy, regulatory policy, public sector management and governance, corporate governance, and strengthening economic and legal infrastructure.”

According to the organization: Under the Philippines’ leadership, the overall subject of APEC 2015 is the promotion and advancement of inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region, hence the APEC 2015 theme, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.” Accordingly, inclusive growth can be defined, described, and analyzed in three stages – domestic/national, regional, and macro levels.

At the domestic/national level, the inclusive growth strategy of the Philippines is based on creating employment opportunities and jobs, involving and integrating the majority of the population in the economic and social mainstream, and alleviating poverty through good governance and domestic reform.

At the regional level, the inclusive growth strategy of the APEC region is focused on expanding access to opportunities and enabling people to realize their full potential which will result in more productive employment opportunities, dynamic economic growth, and greater well-being.

At the macro level, the inclusive growth trajectory of the APEC region is centered on bridging the gap between developing and developed APEC economies for the purpose of maximizing the benefits of a freer and more open trade and investment regime for each and every member economy.

Here we go again, billion of dollars paid using tax-money spent for leaders to meet in such a forum. Let us pray that all the leaders be more discerning of their roles where honor, duty and country must not be forgotten and where peace, harmony and sustainability of mother earth’s resources shall not be taken for granted. I hope they all work hard to make this endeavor a worthy cause for all.












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