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Jul 10

Points on the political issue

I’d like to share a paper originally presented as a series of points during a meeting of young professionals I attended last Friday evening. The points that follow were written by Karl Kendrick Chua, who lectures (part time) at the Ateneo de Manila University, College of Economics. As a concerned citizen, he has decided to use his expertise to ask serious questions.

Points on the current political issue
Karl Kendrick Chua
July 8, 2005

Thesis: The call for resignation must come with accountability for our decisions and a plan for the economy in case of a succession.

On resignation: Calling GMA to resign and giving it the right reasons are not enough. Stopping here is only a short-run solution and is bound to cause more problems in the medium- to long-run. Those calling for her resignation must accept and be accountable for the following:

1. The Vice-President must, without question, succeed the President.

2. The choice of Noli de Castro (NDC) as successor must have gone through a very thorough cost-benefit analysis and discernment. On the positive side, NDC is neither connected nor is biased to the following: Marcos and Martial Law, and EDSA 1, 2 and 3. He is also not political. His experience as newscaster, reporter, and TV host, which has brought him to all places in the country and to all kinds of people in different social conditions may be an important asset to the Presidency. While he is seen as less competent for the position, some may argue that his good advisers are enough to guide him. But woe to the people who are naïve not to think that equally bad advisers and blackmailers can influence him and ruin him and the Presidency again. It is a deep tragedy to think that the Presidency cannot be influenced badly. It is a myth to think that good can win over evil. This may be true in the end of times but not in present battles. Those calling for GMA’s resignation and thus NDC’s succession can only do so after giving the entire issue and its consequences much thought. Otherwise, pushing for the short-term solution without thinking of its gigantic consequences would only plunge our country into deeper uncertainty and turmoil.

If we agree to call for GMA’s resignation, we must be held accountable for the consequences, even the worst-case scenario of an incompetent NDC as President surrounded by useless advisers with greater vested interest, an economic crisis similar to 1983-85, and institutions plunging to total uselessness.

On the economy: The economy must always be insulated from the political mess. It must remain resilient and inelastic to the political situation. Most importantly, the fiscal and tax administrative reforms must continue without delay to avert an economic collapse already predicted by respectable economists. In this light, those calling for the resignation of GMA and thus the accession of Noli de Castro must accept and support the reappointment of the economic team to the Cabinet upon succession of NDC, most especially Emilia Boncodin and Willy Parayno, without delay. The reappointment of Parayno is paramount as his departure will stall the most important reforms in tax administration history.

On unity and leadership: Since so many people and groups are declaring their stands, they are nevertheless close to futileness without a clear unified stand and a leader. Without Cardinal Sin and given a tired Cory Aquino, there is a vacuum in moral and civil leadership. We need to rally behind a leader. We must first identity the most credible leader in civil and religious society. Personally, I would rally behind the collective Jesuit leadership and the collective decision of CBCP. Second, we must swallow our own pride and be humble before our chosen leader and his decision/stand. In this case, we must discard our petty quarrels on the minor details of the issue as well as everything connected to the bigger issue which is not important, urgent or critical. As a benchmark, let go of everything that we are not willing to stake our life to. The most important points that should unite us are the following: Constitutional succession, fully accepting accountability for the resignation of GMA, the succession of NDC, the unpredictable scenario that may arise in the new administration, and shielding the economy from the political mess.

On the electoral structure: Given some consensus and evidence that the oligarchs have ruled for generations and have drastically stunted economic growth and holistic development of the country, we must declare that beginning the next election, we must refuse to elect any member of the political oligarchic clans to any position in government no matter how competent and sincere they are. It is only then that we will have a government less vested with political interest and can serve the people better.

On attitude towards the whole issue: It must be realized and obvious by now that any form of stand, debate, argument or complaint without a workable alternative or solution must be considered useless and a waste of resources. Problems without solutions add to noise, confusion, and uncertainty.

On how to strengthen the new President’s capacity to rule: Here is an initial list of what civil and religious society must do to allow the next President to rule with maximum capacity.

1. Civil and religious society which have clamored for GMA’s resignation and consequently allowing NDC to succeed must declare publicly and adhere strictly and sincerely to this declaration: That NDC does not owe civil and religious society anything, especially his seat of power, and thus is free to run the country without resorting to payments and honoring political debts.

2. Civil and religious society may give advice to the new President but should again declare publicly and adhere strictly and sincerely that they will not push for one of their members to be in the Cabinet or in any other position in government. They must also declare that NDC is free to appoint as he wishes subject to the normal rules of appointment and tests of competence and neutrality.

To summarize, there are two main points to remember and stake our life to:

1. There is no other viable option but constitutional succession and that we must fully accept and be accountable for the resignation of GMA and the succession of NDC, no matter what happens (even in the worst-case scenario).

2. The economy must be insulated from the political mess. Reappointing the economic team (unless a better choice is determined) must be priority upon succession and we must support it.

7 comments

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  1. manuel

    “The economy must always be insulated from the political mess. It must remain resilient and inelastic to the political situation. Most importantly, the fiscal and tax administrative reforms must continue without delay to avert an economic collapse already predicted by respectable economists. ” On the contrary, econommic plans must be responsive to people’s needs rather than bankers demands.

    The popular perception about oligarchs is correct however the proposed solution is not. The way around the oligarch domination of politics is to make sure we have the proper mechanisms for a clean and honest elections and the vote sacrosanct. In that way, voters can decide whether in their respective localities they want to remain under oligarchies or not. It s not for anyone, oligarchs or anti oligarchs to impose their preferences on voters.

    “Reappointing the economic team (unless a better choice is determined) must be priority upon succession and we must support it.” May ne reassuring to bankers and foreign investors but it will make no political sense domestically. This is another reason why economic decisions cannot be insulated from political questions.

  2. mell ditangco

    now we are talking. aside from the broad points presented, I recommend that quantifiable goals are set and a corresponding accountability system established by private citizens to monitor progress by the new leadership.

    Also, I want to see a robust anti-political dynasty law passed by the legislature. These types of development make me hopeful. We all know the system is rotten; as such we need concrete initiatives from the constituency to ensure corrupt culture is mitigated.

    Good start, lets build on this! 🙂

  3. MitaMS

    Thank you for posting this. It’s like a breath of fresh air in this dizzying times. We certainly need reasonable voices like these. I would go further and propose constitutional change though. IMO, it’s way overdue and the longer we delay the more it hurts us.

    Since Noli de Castro was brought up in Mr. Chua’s paper …I have to say, a lot of people are underestimating the man. He’s a self-made man who rose to national prominence from seemingly out of nowhere. Ramon Magsaysay the father was also maligned by the elitistas (so I’ve been told by my elders) before he became president. I’m only comparing the two from a historical standpoint because we have to learn from our past. RM was not truly from the masa as is commonly known, but he understood the masa. Noli has that same understanding. I don’t think there’s any record of these two men abusing the masses’ trust in them – so far in NDC’s case. Another thing we should realize about NDC – he always remains calm and centered. During his days at ABS-CBN, there was always a lot of politicking. He was aways in the thickest of controversies. But he remained in the eye of the storm and came out with his head above water – always. Maybe there’s more to the man than meets the eye. Leaders are born and not created – but we also have to remember they are also human.

  4. Ed

    You cannot take out oligarchy here in the philippines. You cannot take out nepotism and such. You cannot take out corruption. You know why? because IT IS EMBEDDED in our system. Like a newly installed windows xp. It have a default Internet explorer. thats what we have here. It all came from a default install.

    he forgot to include our crab mentality. Compliments from the Spanish Colonizer. Our bahala na system came from them too.

    This is what we are, well except of course maybe for those who studied and lived abroad. How can we take out this quality we have? maybe by having an example. We need someone to be our example, our hero. Someone to emulate. Someone to maybe even worship like a God. Yes of course we have Jesus and his merry apostles. But we need someone who is living in our midst. Im dreaming.

    Now where can we find such a person? that’s a question we maye never even find out. I dont know about you, but Im still looking for someone like that.

    ( sorry for my english, I grew up speaking Ilocano )

  5. manuel

    Mell,

    rather than passing anti-laws, I believe in working towards an electoral body that will guarantee clean and honest elections.That way we can let anyone run for office and the voters can decide whom to pick.

    Political dynasties exist because our current electoral system is not a level playing field.

    As in any game, the way to win is not by eliminating dominant teams but changing the rules so that everyone has a chance to win.

  6. MitaMS

    Hello Ed, my fellow Ilocano…I have to disagree with you. I may be guilty of stereotyping sometimes but fight that human frailty because I do not want to be stereotyped myself. Whatever negative traits we have as a people, we have to overcome them and turn them into positive. We’re not doomed to remain one way, we do have a choice.

    What I’d really like to see is a change in how we look forward to the future. We have to have hope – that we will recognize our trials as a nation as just things to overcome, that we will understand it’s in our power to change things and overcome these trials to provide a better future for the next generations. My view is we owe it to them. We also owe it to the men we call our heroes – those who came before us. They fought and died for the freedoms we now enjoy. We were not lacking in heroes in the past, I don’t think we are lacking in heroes today. Let’s not rely only on our leaders. Everyone of us has the capacity to be a hero if we are only willing to stick out our necks. I truly believe that.

  7. Ed

    Lets all admit it. Those who have money are the only one who can run for public offices. Thats why political dynasty flourish. When these people win, they get their money back from projects so they can recoup their expenses. Thtas the cycle, You cannot break it.

    If ever the comelec will shoulder the campaige for those who’s running the election it maybe it will convince those people who have the right intention to govern us a chance to try it out. maybe

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