It is gratifying to see that the United States and Japan will be working together to assist the Philippines with the badly needed restructuring of the huge debt that Marcos left behind and investing in the country's export industries. ("Philippines May Finally Get Shot at Asia's Boom," June 12.)
While this is an important first step, it will not solve the long-range economic ills in the Philippines. For that to occur, the quasi-feudal system--in which a few very wealthy families control economic resources and the impoverished masses work very hard for subsistence wages--must be dismantled.
If the United States and Japan are serious about developing an equal trading partner rather than just taking advantage of low production wages, they can help by offering wages commensurate with what they would have been required to pay for equivalent labor in their own countries. Or, if we are going to offer economic aid, we should make sure it is tied to true economic reform. Perhaps such packages of aid should include minimal provisions for benefits to workers, to make sure the aid is distributed to those with the greatest need and who work the hardest.
When Filipino workers have sufficient income to also become consumers, providing their own domestic markets, this island nation, with its wealth of human and natural resources, will achieve the Asian dream it is capable of.