Economics of War
(This article has been reprinted
and modified from an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 10,
kilo of rice for a bullet or a bullet for a kilo of rice.
This is what the economics of
the war in Mindanao amounts to.
In the 1970s, the government
spent a million pesos a day in the war against the Moro National
Liberation Front. Today it spends US $600,000/day to quell the
rebellion in Mindanao.
Consider the following:
A kilo of the cheapest rice from
the National Food Authority costs P14, about the same price as an M-16
Armalite bullet, the usual arms given to government troopers.
A 50-kg sack of rice from the
NFA costs P700, enough to feed 10 families or 50 people for at least a
day. An M-16 can fire 475 rounds per minute or P6,650 or 9.4 sacks of
rice. An hour's firing costs P399,000, the cost of 570 sacks of rice.
And that's only one soldier firing his gun for one hour.
For 20,000 soldiers, if each
fires an M-16 for a minute, that's P133 million; if each fires for an
hour for a week, that's P7.98 billion, which is more than twice
Mindanao's agriculture budget this year.
The OV-10 Bronco aircraft drops
500-pounder bombs from the sky. The aircraft can carry six per sortie.
Each bomb costs P 1 00,000. Ten bombs alone would cost a million
One 105mm howitzer costs P7,300
or a little over 10 sacks of NFA rice, enough to pay the salaries of
three non-plantation agricultural workers for one month.
A thousand howitzers fired since
April 28 represent P7.3 million, more than the amount required to
construct a kilometer of concrete road (P7 million according to the
Department of Public Works and Highways); nearly two kilometers of
asphalt road (at P4 million) and about 2.5 kilometers of gravel road
(at P3 million).
With P7.3 million, how many
chairs, books, tables could have been provided Mindanao's kids? How
many classrooms could have been built? How many health centers? How
many water pumps?
Imagine what P7.98 billion could
do for Mindanao.
The possibilities are endless
only if government had a little more creativity.