Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Written for The Diplomat magazine

Internet in the Philippines is bemoaned as one of the slowest and most inefficient in the region. Despite the absence of censorship, Internet freedom in the country is only categorized as partly-free because of the unabated media killings, government intimidation of critics, the existence of state-backed online trolls, and the passage of a restrictive anti-cybercrime law.

There have been various suggestions on how to improve the situation. Proposals vary from boosting the privatization of the IT sector by welcoming the entry of a third major telco, legislative remedy, and stronger regulation.

To strengthen Internet freedom, the starting point of any campaign should not focus on legislative reforms, but the overhaul of the political economy of the country’s IT infrastructure and media industry. Instead of blindly pursuing the growth of the IT sector through the tried and tested failure of privatization, the government should be prepared to perform a greater and decisive role in expanding Internet access and promoting consumer welfare. This is different from the state-backed monopoly which was the situation before 1995 because what is being proposed as an alternative entails public-private cooperation. The government is urged to demand accountability from the telcos aside from ensuring that state resources are utilized to build and improve a national broadband network.

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Addressing the migration of Filipino health workers

Written for The Diplomat magazine

Migration of health workers is not a new phenomenon in the Philippines. But in the last two decades, there was a sharp increase in the number of doctors and nurses migrating to other countries which seriously undermined the nation’s capability to provide health services to its people. This matter became a national concern when topnotch doctors began to leave as nurses and hospitals were forced to stop operations due to a lack of qualified health workers. The high worldwide demand for health workers is expected to continue which makes it imperative for ‘donor’ countries like the Philippines to implement policies, procedures, and programs to protect its health human resources.

Managing migration today is crucial to avert a possible collapse of the health care system. Failure to stem the alarming number of migrating doctors and nurses will further cripple the deteriorating health service in the country. This will jeopardize the attainment of development goals which seeks to empower people by eradicating poverty.

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