What does 2019 hold for us, Filipinos?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 31, 2018 - 12:00am

Today is the last day of a very eventful year. Tomorrow is another year, and we do look forward to some things that could usher hopes for the Philippines and betterment for Filipinos. But the way I see it, there are a number of danger signs lurking in the horizon. It looks like we shall have a bloody midterm elections and a number of election-related killings and other forms of violence are likely to happen.

Empirical data and anecdotal evidence indicate that local elections in our country are more fiercely contested, and there will be more deaths and kidnappings among local political rivals. The NPA intensifies its extortion in the form of permit to campaign and permit to win. These are very difficult to prevent because there are outlying areas in Samar, Bicol, the Cordilleras, Negros, and Mindanao where the rebels have control.

There are areas to watch for because of hotly contested electoral campaigns. In Ilocos, for instance, the rift between the Marcoses and their rival, Rody Fariñas, will trigger a bitter political struggle for survival. There will be a lot of hot spots in Central Luzon, particularly Nueva Ecija, Southern Tagalog, and Bicol. Samar will be very problematic, Negros too, and some parts of Panay, specifically Iloilo, Antique, and Aklan. Mindanao will be very hot, especially in Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, the CARAGA region, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and the three provinces of the Zamboanga peninsula. In Cebu, Dumanjug and Ronda will be among some towns to watch.

The growth of the Philippine economy in 2019 will be spurred by massive election spending so there shall be so much cash inundating the provinces and municipalities. Consumer spending will reach a record high but this trend should be guarded against for possible inflation.

Prices of prime commodities are expected to rise considerably. Wages remain very low and job opportunities are scarce and far between. Outward labor migration shall continue to increase and more problems concerning OFWs in the Middle East shall remain a hard nut to crack. Population is still a problem, bringing down our per capita income even as our gross domestic products increases.

Another bad news is our precarious weather situation. There is a prediction of more than 10 serious weather disturbances in 2019, which we hope will not be as devastating and tragic as Yolanda, Ondoy, or Sendong.

There will a lot of floods, landslides, even tsunamis, and a few earthquakes and other natural calamities. More road accidents and fires are expected in 2019, and a lot of deaths and devastation of crops and farmlands shall happen.

Illegal mining and pollution of our rivers, seas, and lakes shall remain unabated as the government grapples between the need to protect the environment on one hand, and the imperatives of employment and economic development on the other hand.

It is predicted that 2019 will be worse than 2018 in politics, economy, and natural disasters. Our leaders should prepare our country and people for such a very challenging year ahead of us. I still hope we will still have a happy new year.

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