Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics. 

 
Millennial Talk is about the insights coming from the younger generation.

As some would say, there is always a silver lining to things. The COVID-19 situation helped me to prove the importance of securing domestic food sources, keeping domestic food production, and prioritizing agriculture and rural development.

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The COVID-19 situation brought the good and the bad out of Filipinos. Despite the situation not being easy, it seems that most Filipinos are still able to weather the storm, although many, especially displaced workers from small businesses, senior citizens and the real "poorest of the poor", need assistance that they can get not only from the government but even from their countrymen who happen to have extra at this time.

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Hopefully the "Balik Probinsya" will finally gain traction, leading to realization of long overdue economic growth and development, and prosperity being achieved by the provinces and the people living in the rural areas. It is time for President Duterte, Senator Go and others pushing for this plan to walk their talk.

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The Filipinos, the "Mexicans of Asia," as how my friends and colleagues in Singapore would describe us, are a disgrace. We really have no sense of nation and no sense of communitarianism. If we end up like the Italians, who are being killed mercilessly by COVID-19 in large numbers, the blame is solely on us because we are too immature as a nation and as a people, and are shamelessly proud of our immaturity.

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The Philippines and the rest of the world is suddenly facing an unseen enemy and dealing with a situation full of uncertainties. It is not just about containing the spread of the disease and finding a vaccine. It is now about humanity fighting for its survival.

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With President Duterte emphasizing the need to pursue an independent foreign policy, it is time for the Philippines to do away with the Cold War-era mentality of building alliances with a few and instead seek partnerships with many. It is through partnerships, not alliances, that will help the Philippines stand on its own in rebuilding and constantly evolving its the strength of its military and economy.

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While it is right and just to protect the rights and privileges of the Filipinos, it is a different story when the same are being used to justify a wrongful act or a form protection from lawful scrutiny.

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We Filipinos should get our acts together as a nation, society and people. We should be ashamed of ourselves with this folly that is of our own creation. We should be working as one in dealing with the 2019-NCoV situation just like what China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other countries are doing.

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Despite the uncertainty and devastation, there are stories of hope and inspiration. Batanguenos helping each other, as well as Cavitenos, Bulakenyos, Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Davaoenos and others sending help to our province.

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Clarity is my fervent wish for the Duterte administration and the country in 2020. Clarity, in terms of policy reform agenda and implementation by the administration to create more job and business opportunities, with emphasis on agriculture and rural development.

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A lot of issues, a lot of ups and downs, but we are still standing towards the end of the year. 2019 was, indeed, a roller coaster ride for the Philippines and the Filipino people. As we look forward to a much better 2020, let us learn from the lessons of the past year and use them to not only improve ourselves further but to also make our nation and society far better than where they are now.

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Winning as one nation and one people should become the norm as we work together to achieve our national goals, especially economic development and prosperity in all corners of the Philippines and for all Filipinos. We cannot and we should not be forever divided along ethnic, political, economic, religious and social lines forever, or else we are going to fail together as a nation and as a people.  

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