ISLANDS FOR RENT
Whoever thought that some Philippine islands may be rented out is a genius! Well, it came to a pass that there was some kind of realization somewhere and that government is contemplating on this matter of allowing islands to be utilized for economic purposes. The Philippine archipelago comprises about 7,500 islands, of which only about 2,000 are inhabited.
I remember some years ago, when there was no Chinese occupation yet on those islands/islets scattered in West Philippine Sea, I proposed that some islands in the Spratlys may be utilized as penal farms. I was ignored. I repeated my proposal a couple of years ago, if only to push government to show the world that those uninhabited islands are ours, I was dressed down. Worst, I was even threatened with administrative charges. Accordingly, I should not open my mouth for I might complicate the relation of the country with that of China. I retired since then.
The point actually is to use the islands to our advantage. Renting out a thousand of these islands, if government could not make something out of it, could provide the country billions of dollars in revenues instantly.
Government can even dispose of the income tax of all its citizenry like what Brunei did. It can virtually abolish the so called poverty line since the country will be awashed with resources for the maintenance and support of its economic programs. The country may even become a Welfare State like those in Western Europe and Scandinavia where everyone is supported by the State.
Newly appointed economic adviser Ramon Jacinto correctly proposed that one of these islands, like Busuanga in Palawan, is bigger than Singapore and Hong Kong and may be leased like what the country did to US when it allowed the construction of a military base in Pampanga.
This time around, those who rented the islands can impose its own rules, culture and even ethnographic belief system in its commercial undertaking. Filipinos need not go overseas anymore since business ventures in these chosen islands follow several conditions, aside from the cost of rental, the mandatory employment of Filipinos into the labor force, an approach which is very Malaysian.
Investors will come in droves and there will be a boon in employment possibilities.
We can have our own version of Singapore’s Sentosa Island, replicate USA Cook’s Island, Bahama’s Pilot Island, Hawaii’s Molokai Island, Greek’s Elafonissi Island, Lebanon’s Palm Island, the possibilities are endless. And what makes the entire proposition attractive for investors is the fact that the country is in the tropics!
There will be no more mad scrambles to get passports and visas, no more cases of illegal recruitment, a bane and curse which bedeviled hundreds if not thousands of our countrymen. No more selling of properties and resources as investment just so a family member can work abroad. No more instances where a countryman would fly out of the window abroad in desperation if not outright murder by cruel employers. No more disintegration of family members whenever one moves out to struggle in a foreign land.
Today, if that happens, is truly a period worth hoping for.
Finally, I could stay in just one corner expecting the next generation to be prosperous and flourishing; a situation which all senior citizens could afford to dream unmolested.