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Second wind
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on December 19, 2006 117 Comments 4 min read
Arroyo Should Not Misread Opposition to Charter Change Previous The Long View: Parameters Next

Last Sunday I asked Mon Casiple his fearless forecast before the rally started. A very circumspect man, he answered me by saying he saw three possibilities:

1. If attendance was disappointing, the administration would suddenly rediscover its courage and renew the push for constitutional amendments.
2. If attendance met expectations, then everyone could look forward to the May elections and take it from there.
3. If attendance exceeded expectations, the President would begin negotiations leading to her retirement.

The President proved Mr. Casiple right, with this statement:

There are three realities we face as a nation: one, that the people accept the need for Charter change to overhaul the system; two, that there is a need for a unified national consensus on the means and timetable; and three, that this is a platform commitment of the administration that will be pursued with urgency and fervor.

These realities will continue to shape our actions for the better future of the Philippines – working closely and inclusively with all stakeholders and institutions; observing transparency; and backing up the entire process with a strong economy, social payback and values programs.

This is a matter of paramount national interest and our leaders must all rise to the challenge.

This is a volte-face from her previous statement on December 14:

I commend the decision of the House leadership as an act of statesmanship to unify not only the two chambers of the legislature but the whole nation around the issue of Charter change.

I thank Speaker Joe de Venecia and his valiant allies in the House for heeding the voice of national consolidation and unity, without sacrificing their high vision of political renewal.

It is time to gather together all the energies of our people for the continuing work ahead – maintaining our economic strength, ensuring the social payback of economic reforms, and helping distressed communities back to their feet.

Philippine democracy will always find the proper time and opportunity for Charter reform at a time when the people deem it ripe and needful, and in the manner they deem proper. The nation must consolidate now and I call upon all our institutions and sectors to stand as one for the country’s future.

The “urgency and fervor” of December 19 was not there on December 14; or put another way, the need to “gather together all the energies of our people,” etc., was magnificently accomplished in all of one week (which proves nothing is ever permanent in politics).

If members of the House were stunned a week ago, it’s happy days again, as the latest show of bravura indicates, regardless of whether or not they’re taking their cue from the unsinkable Speaker, the irrepressible Senator Santiago, and a highly-pleased Alex Magno.

And so, the Inquirer says, Fresh Cha-cha push seen after Christmas; the President’s given the green light, or as GMA News puts it, she’s now “undeterred”; see also, the combined report of Malaya.

So there you have it. It reminds me of something else Mon Casiple told me: “don’t believe for a moment their Con-Ass proposal has been really archived and is dead.”

In her column, Connie Veneracion suggests broader, and harder, questions have to be tackled if a proper Charter Change debate is to take place.

In the blogosphere, Philippine Commentary continues to elaborate his thesis that a new kind of political conservatism is a-borning. Red’s Herring examines the role of People Power in a democracy and how just invoking its name can scare the wits out of leaders.

Ang Tagapaggalugad as well as Audrin’s Site, and Sarita’s Site, and Four Eyed Journal went to the rally and took photos. On the other hand, Pinoy X-sa KSA is fed up with rallies. A sentiment expressed by those who had to deal with yesterday’s Makati rally: see Past Midnight and onetwentyhours.

Ellen Tordesillas wrote about that rally as it was taking place, saying one message it presented was “don’t rely on the Church.” Her entry reminded me of the heated debate during Edsa Dos, between those who wanted to stay at the Edsa Shrine, and the others who wanted to march on the Palace.

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  1. I get your point, DJB. Some of your comments made me think you favored some amendments to the 1987 constitution, such as when you said on Dec. 19 @ 9:52 a.m. that: “In the conservative vein, I am for PRUNING the 1987 Constitution, i.e., merely removing certain stupid provisions.”

    I equated pruning as a form of amending. Perhaps you didn’t mean it that way.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. CONCON is actually the worst mode of chacha. It is the most expensive, time consuming and dangerous of all three modes.

    Dangerous? Yes because the Delegates can make their own rules, including simple majority votes to approve proposals for ratification. Worse they are beholden to no one once elected because the electorate cannot punish them in a subsequent election!

    A Concon can REVISE the whole Constitution. I am reflexively against that, because for example, it 230 years, America has never revised its Constitution, yet they managed to establish the Bill of Rights, abolish slavery, give women suffrage, and much more, with mere amendments.

    The idea of ConCon is the most radical and extreme of the Constituent powers. It must NEVER happen. Everything can be done by PEE-EYE and CON-ASS.

  3. I can add to DJB ascertion that the U.S. has not revised her constitution since its inception, so is Ours (Canada) for l50 years now, when in fact the BNA was drafted and passed by a foreign power at that time, and the only amendment done to the Act of 1867 was establishments of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that until then were only reflected in statutes and laws. As I noted is not even as perfect as one wants to be, but we make it works. So if the intentions of good men and women are good, not even an imperfect charter can spoil them..turn it around and nothing a charter can do for evils..

  4. “have you heard about the latest economic news? The stock market is up; the peso is soaring vs. the U.S dollar; unemployment is down quite a bit (more new jobs); investments – both foreign and domestic – are up; projected budget and trade deficits are down.”

    Any economist will tell you that a strong peso has its good and bad sides. It is certainly not an indicator of progress. As the Action for Economic Reforms says, “Aside from the fiscal problem, the other bone of contention in macroeconomic policy is the exchange rate. The peso has indeed been appreciating, which Mrs. Arroyo claims shows an economic upswing. While the currency appreciation may indeed be good news for financial markets, it is bad news for the real sector of the economy—the exporters, the domestic producers, and their workers. Exporters lose price competitiveness, and domestic producers compete with much cheaper imported goods. Of course, a peso appreciation is not good for the millions who depend on the remittances of overseas Filipino workers.” (aer.ph)

    The government says unemployment is down? A quick check of NSO’s October Labor Force Survey reveals that the supposed drop was aided by a decline in the overall work force, which fell to 35.8M from 36.165 in the previous quarter. Of course, millions of Filipinos (10% of the population) are forced to find work abroad due to a lack of opportunities at home. Also, we have to keep in mind that the supposed slightly-improved unemployment figures are coming from the same administration that in one fell swoop “reduced” the country’s jobless rates by simply redefining unemployment. There have been several instances wherein the the current administration has been found to manipulate data to project rosy economic figures.
    panaynews.com.ph/archives/0808/editorial.htm
    pcij.org/blog/?p=997

    Alongside with those economic figures from the gocernment, worth mentioning too is the data from the latest SWS survey which reveal that a new record high of 19% of the nation are experiencing hunger. With an 85M population, that would translate to over 16M hungry Filipinos.

  5. DJB, how do you downsize government if centralized government is implicitly sanctioned by concentrating so much power on the chief executive?

    And how do you downsize government if the people arent weaned from it yet? The people expect the government to solve its problems for them. That’s how the populist president Erap got elected: by danglng the promise of direct government intervention in the daily lives and problems of the people, especially the poor. The solution is of course people empowerment, and that’s where the NGOs come in. But my impression is the most effective NGOs have socialist leanings, DJB. And the result is a people who want more government.

  6. It’s a good thing when the stock market is up. The capital markets do help even ordinary people in the long run by making more capital and investments available. If there is a prolonged period of activity in the capital markets, that eventually helps start up new businesses and enterprises, which in turn create jobs, taxes and opportunities.

    It’s also a good thing when the currency is stable. It helps businesses plan ahead with more confidence. It’s also good for the consumers, which we all are, because prices would generally be more stable. However, if the currency gets too strong for its own good, as has recently happened in Thailand, it may have undesirable consequences for exporters, for tourism and even for government agencies like the Bureau of Customs, whose income targets are pegged on certain foreign currency levels.

    Another danger posed by too strong a currency is that it invites speculators. Currency may artificially appreciate until it reaches a certain level. Then, when speculators start shifting to another currency, there will be a big drop in value of the currency. This causes a big upheaval for businesses as well as for the ordinary man on the streets.

    This administration deserves credit for some of the positive developments in our economy. The EVAT pushed through in congress last year really has improved government’s fiscal position. That, in turn, has created confidence and brought in new money.

    Of course, the OFW remittances help a lot. Government also deserves some credit for that. It has eliminated much red tape and helped the banking system devise better ways to handle remittances. Thus more remittances are now coursed via the mainstream. Confidence in the economy also is a factor in the increased remittances. Filipinos abroad, seeing better opportunities back home, will send more money to buy homes or to set up small businesses. If there were no confidence, they would hold on to their money until they see better times ahead.

    So it would be clearly biased to just dismiss the administration’s achievements. Compared to Erap’s time, it is certainly doing a much better job. For its part, this administration should leave well enough alone. This matter of forcing the issue on charter change only makes people edgy and doesn’t do anyone any good.

  7. Jeg,

    That’s just it. Sadly, it IS the fault of the Constitution in the article that FORBIDS the “religious sector” from participating in the party list elections. Yet, students, laborers, peasants, teachers, cultural minorities, even three-toed horned sloths can run, but priests, bishops, imams, nuns–they are all discriminated against because of their religion, aren’t they?

    I would not ask for the amendment of such a thing however, (perhaps there is some good reason for I don’t know about), That would be the Liberal impulse. I would rather it be challenged by a direct candidacy of a minister or priest or imam for the Senate or House, using the Bill of Rights provision, and sheer inanity of conceiving of “sectors” at all. It’s thinly disguised smuggling of a socialist class struggle kind of idea.

    It’s a mole on the face of the Constitution, or the birthmark of an historical guilty conscience that some Jesuits have not transcended.

  8. Jeg,
    I am speaking with some legal imprecision regarding the party list elections matter, of course. Hopefully someone like Marichu Lambino will come around to straighten some of it out. But I forgot to say I think the main reason for the domination of the party lists by the Left mass orgs is only because the religious mass organizations are not allowed to run for the List and thus nominate a couple of good fire-n-brimstone preachers into that Congress of scoundrels. Just to give them tit for tat. Some, ahh, moral giants. haha.

  9. Rego, what I personally want is for Gloria and her gang to be ousted from power. They are leading the whole country to perdition. So what if we have been on this for 3 years now? I will oppose them for however long it will take. To stop fighting them is capitulation. If I did, I would not be able to forgive myself.

  10. DJB, if the US has never revised its Constitution for 230 years now but simply amended it, why not prohibit revision of the Constitution and just allow amendments? The best way to “perfect” it is to amend it bit by bit. The danger of a wholesale revision is that while the faulty provisions may be corrected, new faulty ones may be introduced.

    Amendments may be proposed either by a Con-Ass or a people’s initiative to be ratified by the people in a plebiscite to coincide with an election. No expensive and “dangerous” Con-Con.

  11. bernardocarpio, you almost got it right. it should read “…bahala na…ang sambayanan“. that’s how it is in a genuine democracy. Right now, we’re living under “bahala na…si garci“.

    As for the state of our economy, the bottomline is we are not growing fast enough to lift the poor into the middle class (just like what’s happening in China, Vietnam and more recently India). If the trend persists, about half our population will still live out their lives knowing only poverty. This is because Arroyo has not done enough to increase our social capital and has herself contributed to damaging our institutions. The economic news might be good to hear for those who are just interested in preserving their gains but what about the rest?

  12. so much hatred in anna’s blood. this personal abhorence in her might have clouded her reasoning mind. this one calls for character change.

    the actual attendance to the call of the cbcp nation wide is 450,000 less in mero manila, less than a hundred in iloilo..few hundred in bacolod, bout 400 maybe in cebu,hundreds in davao and the antiGMA group say they have the majority of the people or the public on their side?!

  13. cvj, you are just nitpicking and probably sourgraping. We have improved economically over the dire situation we were in during Erap’s time. Mind you, I am not blaming Erap alone for what happened during his term, unlike your conveniently heaping all blame on Arroyo. There is collective guilt to be shared by all Filipinos and most of it comes from tons of excess baggage accumulated over decades due to wrong policy choices and lack of political will.

    To play catch-up with India or China will take tremendous effort and political leadership which I do not see in the horizon. As for Vietnam, I have been going there the past few months. I assure you that they are still way behind us. But, now that they have made up their minds that capitalism is the way to improve their economic situation, they do have the capacity to catch up with us in a few years.

    I am not saying Arroyo is a miracle worker. I am not saying that Arroyo is the best we can have. If we can have something better, bring it on. But it is intellectually dishonest of you to say that she could be doing as well as China or India when you know very well the baggage any administration in the Philippines has to carry. However, I take comfort in the fact that you at least acknowledge that we are doing somewhat better, even if it is not up to the unrealistically high bar that you propose.

  14. Jeg, you link

    http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/world/article.jsp?content=20050307_101541_101541

    Is indeed very interesting. The situation in the Philippines would have been the same… with the accumulating budget deficit every year over the past few years. We are lucky GMA had the political will to pass the EVAT, or the Philippines would have been mired in much worse situation than the US economy now. Probably we could have defaulted by now, and the peso would have run to a few hundreds if not thousands to a dollar similar to the rupiah or the dong.

    In this regard, GMA is a mile away better than Bush in running a national economy. But then, her success would be a loss to many sectors and would convince people to let her stay in Malacanang.

    If GMA is booted out – who’s gonna replace her? Somebody with a stronger political will, and a national unity factor which we direly need the past few years.

    Would Dinky, or Erap or Drilon do the job?

  15. moks, it’s up to the people, if those you mentioned wished to present themselves before the people and run for president.

    your attributing things such as the increase in VAT to the wisdom and foresight of the president reminds me of the remarks of an analyist from singapore back in july, 2005:

    http://www.quezon.ph/?p=595

    the vat increase was for patronage, since overspending had to be slowly trimmed now that it’s purpose -the 2004 elections- were over.

  16. Carl, psychologizing me does not make for a valid argument since i am peripheral to what i say. Although you may not have been aware of it, you actually agreed with me (or conversely i agreed with you):

    …Haste makes waste, and people have witnessed how two coup d’états, in 1986 and 2001, didn’t improve the lives of the majority of citizens…” – Carl on 19-Dec 9:25am

    What’s the difference between your statement above and the one i made? If i were to do my own psychologizing, the way i see it, it just depends on your mood, whether you’re attacking Cory or defending Gloria.

    In any case, i also believe that what you said about the improving economy is true, but this are attributable to the cumulative GDP growth since EDSA 1986. Under Gloria, we have reached a milestone of sorts in terms of being able to finally recover from the economic collapse during the last years of Marcos (1983 to 1985), but for this, you have to credit all the past administrations starting from Cory to FVR to Erap to Gloria. These are part of the gains of EDSA that the members of middle class (like you and Austero) want to preserve. But as we both say, such recovery is not good enough for the majority of citizens which brings me to comparison with China, Vietnam and India.

    It’s good that you brought up the matter of time horizons. Gloria is not just responsible for her remaining term of office (officialy three years left). She also has the duty to leave office having changed our culture for the better (i.e. via character change). She definitely will be held accountable on whether our institutions are in healthier or weaker shape as a result of her rule.

    This is important because the much hoped for economic take-off (ala China, Vietnam or India) can only happen if we have the twin elements of social capital and working institutions in place. What are the chances of this happening with the continuing legitimacy issue and its collateral effects hanging over GMA’s head? Do you believe that by her actions she is subtracting from the excess baggage that you have mentioned?

  17. cvj, you tailor your arguments to suit your purpose. You have a closed mind and a bitter, vindictive psyche. You must have had a rough childhood or a tough marital relationship. I’ll bet your wife or your boyfriend left you because you’re such a head case. You’re one hell of a sick dude.

  18. Carl, argumentum ad hominem is resorted to by someone who has run out of ideas or intellectual arguments. Fight ideas with ideas. Don’t attack the person. You have been abusively calling cvj names and you don’t even know the person. You’re behavior is contemptuous.

  19. Yes, Inuduro. Any president should attend to the nation’s economy. But to be successful, he/she must have the gravitas and brains for it – not just rely on the ability, good faith and loyalty of his/her underlings – which oftentimes are just not there. Without intellectual competence and preparation, such a president would be a push-over and easy prey to predator “advisers” whose loyalty is only to themselves,
    leading to irreparable injury to the nation.

    Carl, you have presented a very good analysis of the gains achieved by the Arroyo administration. Of course, her detractors mourn those kind of news, and salivate when things go bad, congratulating each other for their “victory”. For these people, anything good that happens in GMA’s watch happen inspite of her, and anything bad occurs solely because of her. For them, its “tails you lose, heads they win”.

  20. Well CVJ i don’t see the opposition contributing to the increase of social capital either. Like what their main enemy is doing regarding this issue they are also culpable to the neglect. Like what i said before on the other post they chose to crippled.

  21. bencard,

    the incompetency of erap was well known. but that he was voted overwhelmingly by the majority required that we–regardless if you voted for him or not–respect this mandate and live by that choice. i’ve always subscribed to this notion that we should have saturated ourselves–to the point of getting sukang-suka–with the incompetency of erap to jolt us all into not voting anymore a popular personality in the next elections. eh, na-udlot dahil nga may greedy power grabber who cannot wait for her turn. kaya tuloy the issue shifted from erap’s inability to rule to gma’s sham ability to rule. mas nakakasuka.

  22. “such a president would be a push-over and easy prey to predator “advisers” whose loyalty is only to themselves,
    leading to irreparable injury to the nation”

    you mean like the squealer from ilocos who is now a member of her animal farm?

  23. inidoro: estrada did not win by a majority but by mere plurality of the voting population. GMA did not “grab” power. She succeeded to the presidency pursuant to the constitution being the vice president duly elected by real overwhelming majority (even more votes than estrada’s). Don’t blame her for Estrada’s inability to continue in office, but then again, you blame her for everything under the sun, don’t you?

  24. moks said, “We are lucky GMA had the political will to pass the EVAT, or the Philippines would have been mired in much worse situation than the US economy now.”

    First of all, the GMA administration contributed largely to the financial crisis that was supposedly looming back in 2004. I remember how the administration was painting a very rosy economic picture before the 2004 elections, and then shortly after she “won”, GMA announced that the nation was facing a fiscal crisis and the economy was in danger of collapsing, due the the country’s huge debts.

    But GMA borrowed more money in three years (2001-2003) than the Ramos and Estrada administrations combined. Joker Arroyo even urged her back in September 2004 to first fess up that the fiscal crisis was largely her fault before she could impose additional tax burdens on the people.
    newsflash.org/2004/02/hl/hl101033.htm

    According to PCIJ reasearch:
    http://www.pcij.org/blog/?p=977

    Of the post-Marcos governments, it is the GMA administration that holds the distinction of being the country’s highest single borrower. From 2001 to 2005, the Arroyo government has incurred additional debts amounting to P2.44 trillion, more than half of the current outstanding debt, for an average of P487.9 billion every year.

    What is mind-boggling, as the Freedom of Debt Coalition (FDC) points out, is that the Arroyo administration’s debts far exceed the combined borrowings of its post-Edsa predecessors by almost P1 trillion. The Aquino (1987-1991), Ramos (1992-1997) and Estrada (1998-2000) governments incurred P338 billion, P401 billion and P725 billion, respectively, for combined total borrowings of P1.46 trillion.

    By FDC’s accounting, these debts have not been used to propel real economic growth and development. Expenditures for capital outlay for productive public investments and services have consistently declined under Arroyo’s term, based on the dwindling capital outlay as a ratio of gross total borrowings, down from 27.2 percent in 2001 to only 10.5 percent last year.

    So where did all the money go?

  25. bencard,

    “you blame her for everything under the sun, don’t you?”
    no, i just don’t give credit where credit is not due.
    like crediting her for the power “grab”, whether garbed in quotation or not.

  26. bencard, not being a lawyer i bow to your knowledge as to what can be determined in court and how. but let me invoke another lawyer’s opinion on two things:

    first, that a person need only be morally convinced, in contrast to having sufficient evidence as required in court, to embark on a course of action that ultimately seeks the removal or separation of an official from office, even if elective office.

    second, that separation from office as an objective does not require as stringent a legal case as criminal prosecution, which can follow after the official is removed from office:

    http://www.quezon.ph/?p=403

  27. From DJB re party list: I would not ask for the amendment of such a thing however, (perhaps there is some good reason for I don’t know about)…

    It really wouldnt be an amendment as such, but merely cleaning up a glaring inconsistency, something for a con-ass can tackle easily and without much controversy. It’s either we strike the exemption of religious sects from the party list or strike the ‘No religious test…’ clause from the bill of rights. And since the bill of rights is more sacred…

    The accreditation of parties vying for inclusion in the party list falls to the Comelec and I think they have their own rules on this. With the excemption of religious sects from the party lists gone, then they would still have to judge whether, say, the Knights of Columbus belong to an underrepresented and underserved sector.

  28. bernardocarpio, contrary to your allegation of neglect, the Opposition’s fight against Gloria’s illegitimacy is central to the issue of building social capital. By questioning Gloria’s legitimacy, we are saying that the people’s collective choice should be respected. Those who tolerate Arroyo’s cheating, on the other hand, convey the message that the people’s collective choice (which in this case translates to the masa’s choice) doesn’t count – a clear sign of disrespect (in tagalog ‘kabastusan’). Respect for each other’s rights is a foundation for restoring trust across the divided sections of society. Trust is a key ingredient of social capital.

  29. Pinoy gising,

    I did not say GMA administration did not contribute to the debt burden. Whoever sits in Malacanang would incur debts given our economic situation.

    moks said, “We are lucky GMA had the political will to pass the EVAT, or the Philippines would have been mired in much worse situation than the US economy now.”

    I stand by what i said above. Where would we be now, if she had no political will to pass the EVAT? Is she was like Bush?

    Those figures maybe right, but then we have to wait official data – what they really are. Granted those are true figures, have they considered the nature of compouding? adding the increase of debts. I can see those figures are in Pesoses, I want to know how much did we incur during her administration in dollar terms…the 100 dollar value was only 1,700 during Cory’s years, and 2,300 during FVRs time, and 4,500 during Eraps, and until recently, and during the time that figure of FDC came out was 5,600, which today or as of the moment 4, 900, a recovery of 700 pesos per 100 dollars.

    FDCs data would always be suspicious to me for obvious reasons.

    So what was it really? Do you object her passing of EVAT, or you just hate her and her administration..for coming out with positive economic figures?

    Would you rather she did not pass the EVAT, and we do not have those rosy figures now?

  30. manuelbuencamino,

    FPJ nationality was dubious. He was also cheating himself by being a presidential candidate without qualification and he knew he cannot do the job. His health was poor which I believe he is felt it. He became a candidate using arm-twisting. Who cheat first? If opposition has given Gloria a fair fight and she cheat, then blame her.

    Last election we gave her a choice, either be called ‘stupid’ or ‘cheat’.

  31. Pinoy Gising,

    you said “What is mind-boggling, as the Freedom of Debt Coalition (FDC) points out, is that the Arroyo administration’s debts far exceed the combined borrowings of its post-Edsa predecessors by almost P1 trillion. The Aquino (1987-1991), Ramos (1992-1997) and Estrada (1998-2000) governments incurred P338 billion, P401 billion and P725 billion, respectively, for combined total borrowings of P1.46 trillion.”

    Is it mind boggling? Really?

    I am sure you have an idea of inflation.
    Compound interest.
    And currency fluctuation and exchange rates of the Peso over the years.

    My friend told me that in 1986 he could have a respectable lunch for 10 pesos. Buy a bottle of coke for 75 centavos and have a beer in a beerhouse for 1.50 pesos.Really? What about today? How much?

    If we do a ratio and proportion…I would say the GMAs adminstration incurred loan is reasonale or even lower than Erap’s or Cory or FVR per year!

    That data presented is very deceptive. Or is probably geared towards fooling the people.

    Merry Xmas.

  32. mlwnag, thanks for your honesty in acknowledging that Gloria cheated. Unfortunately, there are still those who, like you, also support arroyo, but insist on denying that she cheated. With your participation, i think the representation of people who supported Gloria Arroyo in 2004 is now complete as far as this comments section is concerned:

    – I belong to the group of Arroyo voters who turned against her because of her cheating.
    – You belong to the group of Arroyo voters who think her cheating is justified.
    – Bencard (another commenter) belongs to the group of Arroyo voters who deny that she cheated.

    Of the above three groups, i believe the one you belong to still comprise a relative (if not absolute) majority. That fact grieves me.

    I have to disagree though with what you are implying by your use of the word ‘cheat’ to characterize what FPJ did, primarily because you used the word in a metaphorical sense which is fundamentally different from kind of ‘cheating’ that Gloria Arroyo engaged in. The former is in no way an offense, the latter is a punishable act.

  33. moks, in response to the valid point you raised on the comparison between local and foreign borrowings across different years, i did a little exercise. first i converted the peso values found on the pcij website in pinoy_gising’s link (their source was the bureau of treasury). then i converted them to their equivalent in terms of US Dollars in the Year 2005 (using the relative share of GDP in the ‘measuringworth.com’ website). Lastly, i computed the average figure for each president to normalize for their stay in office. Here are the results:

    Foreign Borrowings:
    Cory Aquino – 2.0 Billion US Dollars per year
    Fidel Ramos – 1.6 Billion US Dollars per year
    Erap Estrada – 3.3 Billion US Dollars per year
    Gloria Arroyo – 3.8 Billion US Dollars per year (so far)

    Domestic Borrowings:
    Cory Aquino – 4.9 Billion US Dollars per year
    Fidel Ramos – 3.0 Billion US Dollars per year
    Erap Estrada – 4.4 Billion US Dollars per year
    Gloria Arroyo – 6.2 Billion US Dollars per year (so far)

    Even if you normalize the peso:dollar exchange rate as well as the value of the US dollar over the years, it is still clear that Gloria Arroyo’s government, on average, tends to borrow more than her predecessors, both in the form of domestic and foreign debt. So it’s no suprise that she had to impose the E-VAT in response to an impending fiscal crisis of her own making.

  34. moks said, “I did not say GMA administration did not contribute to the debt burden. Whoever sits in Malacanang would incur debts given our economic situation.”

    But GMA did not simply contribute to the debt burden, her administration has incurred more than half of the current outstanding debt, and in a mere 5 years in office (2001-2005, 2006 not yet included in the figures) she has borrowed much more than all three of her predessesors combined in their 14 years in office. Nearly one trillion more, to be exact. Even accounting for compounding, that is one humongous borrowing spree. (By the way, those are official figures in my previous comment, the FDC only gave their analysis of the said figures.)

    And where did all that money go? What has she got to show for it?

    Only an economy that was in danger of collapsing due to the huge debts. She admitted as much in 2004, shortly after she “won” the elections. Granted the EVAT may have been a necessary evil to avert a full-blown fiscal crisis. But who created the crisis in the first place? Wasn’t it GMA, who plunged the country in deep-shit levels of debt?

    So she leads us to a financial crisis then imposes on us the burden of shouldering the costs. And I’m supposed to be thankful of her?

    For sure, the EVAT fueled further inflation and the additional belt-tightening by many households, even to the point of hunger. According to the SWS, the Median Self-Rated Poverty threshold of P10000 (the monthly budget in peso-terms that poor households say they need to escape poverty) has already been “reached as early as six years ago, even though the cost of living rose greatly every year. The failure of the thresholds to increase despite much inflation is a sign that the poor are actually lowering their real living standards.”

    Furthermore, economists Maitet Diokno-Pascual And Clarence Pascual observe that “success in the fiscal sector has been achieved at a steep price. A closer look at the fiscal balance shows that the lower deficit was achieved primarily through deep spending cuts in critical economic and social services. Furthermore, the tight fiscal policy, which aims to eliminate the deficit by 2008 or 2010 at the latest, has begun to hurt growth and job creation.”

    They add, “The deepening jobs crisis today stands as the single biggest failure of the Arroyo administration. Despite sustained growth, unemployment has hovered at near record levels since 2001. A change in the official definition of unemployment may have obscured the bad situation. Nonetheless, the jobs deficit is clear to anyone who cares to see it. The employment-to-population ratio at 59 percent in 2006, after eight successive years of growth and counting, is even slightly lower than its level in 1998, a recession year. That is, only six out of 10 Filipinos of working age can find employment. Every year, over half a million Filipinos become of working age, with no prospects at all of finding gainful employment, let alone quality employment.”

    Rosy figures now? Rosy for whom? Rosy for the country’s rich, certainly, and perhaps for a substantial portion of the middle class. But certainly not for the record-high 19% of the population experiencing hunger. (SWS also noted that hunger has been at double-digit levels for the past 11 consecutive quarters, since June 2004.) Certainly not for the 26M Filipinos who are subsisting on a measly P36 a day. (hihm.org) Certainly not for over 40% of the population who live on less than P100 a day.

    And even if, for the sake of argument, we grant that the local economy is indeed in a rosy state, should that absolve her of her various crimes? Would that excuse her lying, cheating, and stealing? Should we not oppose her illegal and deceitful maneuverings, like the recent con-ass and the planned people’s initiative part 2? Just how many more lies, cheating, thievery, railroading, illegal and tyrannical acts and pambabastos should we take before we say “enough is enough”?

  35. cvj,

    Your data conversions maybe closer to the truth. Thanks for that. But it seems to me… that is a one way balance sheet.

    Default is when your debts mature and you do not have the moolah to pay for it.Have you read on papers that we have been pre-paying debts? Is there data how much loans matured during her term? That loaned amounts of the GMA admin – must be deducted with the amount of loans that matured during her period/year. My understanding is that – once our credit rating improves -we obtained loans to pre-pay our debts that had very high interest rates….so that the government can save. This is where coups, destablizers etc. put the country deeper into debts. Impeachment…etc. for examples damages our credit ratings..and by that we lose billions in interest rates alone.

  36. Pinoy gising,

    “her administration has incurred more than half of the current outstanding debt, and in a mere 5 years in office (2001-2005, 2006 not yet included in the figures) she has borrowed much more than all three of her predessesors combined in their 14 years in office. Nearly one trillion more, to be exact”.

    This is again very deceptive.Pinoy-gising, you have to wake up.

    If I have to follow CVJ data: For foreign borrowings, the three previous admin had a total debt of 6.9 billion dollars per year, while GMA only had 3.8 billion per year. On domestic, the three previous presidents had a total debt of 12.3 billion dollars per year, while GMA had 6.2 billion.

    Nearly 1 trillion more to be exact? Hello…Please check consistency of your data/info with CVJ info.

    Again, I say your statements above are….whatever.

  37. moks, thanks but regarding your comparison of yearly averages (at 8:16pm), you cannot just add the yearly averages of the first three presidents to compare with gloria arroyo’s. the sum of the the borrowings have to be divided over the total number of years presided upon by Cory, FVR and Erap as follows:

    foreign borrowsings:
    1987 to 2000(pre-Arroyo): 30 Billion dollars over 14 years = 2.1 Billion per year
    2001 to 2005(GMA’s term): 19 Billion dollars over 5 years = 3.8 Billion per year

    domestic borrowings:
    1987 to 2000(pre-Arroyo): 56 Billion dollars over 14 years = 4.0 Billion per year
    2001 to 2005(GMA’s term): 31 Billion dollars over 5 years = 6.2 Billion per year

    The means that even if we hold the value of the dollar constant, the Arroyo government is borrowing at a faster rate (1.8 times for foreign borrowings, and more than 1.5 times for domestic borrowings) compared to the average of the previous post-EDSA presidents (Cory, FVR, Erap) taken together.

  38. cvj,

    Youre post says that we have 136 billion dollars total debts, EX — EXcluding the Marcos 20 years debts.

    I wonder how much of our debts were paid under GMA.

    Certainly our total debts now including the Marcos debts is not 200 billion dollars.Or is it?

    Correct me if I am wrong.

    Merry Christmas.

  39. cvj,

    I added them all…to disprove pinoy-gising…sleepy claims that:

    “she has borrowed much more than all three of her predessesors combined in their 14 years in office. Nearly one trillion more, to be exact”.

  40. Moks, the “nearly one trillion more” value is based the official figures in absolute peso terms posted at PCIJ’s website. (Data from National Treasury.) The combined borrowings of the Aquino, Ramos, and Estrada administrations in 14 years was P1.46 trillion, while GMA borrowed P2.44 trillion in a mere 5 years, which is P0.98 trillion more. Yes it doesn’t account for compounding, inflation, etc, and I thank CVJ for coming up with those.

    But even CVJ’s converted figures clearly show that GMA incurred much more debt and at a faster rate than her post-EDSA predessesors. (Maybe someone here could verify CVJ’s conversions?)

    In any case, the protests against GMA aren’t really about her fiscal policies. I brought up the debt issue mainly in response to the EVAT issue which you brought up. I just don’t buy the defense that “the economy is looking good, so why not just let GMA be?”

    First of all, as I said above, looking good for whom? One of the last remaining arguments being used by those defending GMA is the rosy picture being painted by the administration about the state of the economy, thanks to GMA’s supposedly superior economic management skills. Well, let’s contrast those claims with the latest data showing hunger levels currently at all-time highs. Let’s contrast those claims with the fact that unemployment has hovered at near record levels since 2001. This despite the fact that 10% of the population has been forced to seek work overseas for lack of job opportunities at home. The local economy has remained afloat thanks largely to the OFW remittances, again well over $10 billion for this year, and that’s counting only the money sent through formal channels. The over $10 billion remitted by OFWs in 2005 makes the country the fourth largest recipient behind India, China and Mexico. The amount represents 13.5% of the country’s GDP, the largest in proportion to the domestic economy among the four countries.

    So if credit should be given for the economy managing to stay afloat, it should be given to the OFWs, not GMA’s stewardship. Again, I quote economist Maitet Diokno-Pacual:

    “No one questions the fact that by taming the fiscal deficit, the Arroyo administration removed the immediate risk of financial crisis posed by a ballooning public debt…. [but] success in the fiscal sector has been achieved at a steep price. A closer look at the fiscal balance shows that the lower deficit was achieved primarily through deep spending cuts in critical economic and social services. Furthermore, the tight fiscal policy, which aims to eliminate the deficit by 2008 or 2010 at the latest, has begun to hurt growth and job creation.

    Contrary to claims that reducing the deficit will promote growth by restoring investor confidence, the record for the last six quarters show that investment spending in the real economy has been compromised. Declining investment spending presents cause for alarm in view of its negative effect on future growth and job creation. Without a strong recovery in investments, the Philippine economy will, at best, continue to grow at the moderate rate of four to five percent. At this pace, there is no getting out of the current doldrums, let alone catching up with our neighbors. In particular, the crisis in the labor market characterized by near-record levels of open unemployment and underemployment will continue to worsen. The effects of the deepening jobs crisis on poverty and welfare are all too obvious.”
    pcij.org/i-report/2006/pascual.html

    But again, I repeat my earlier comment. Even if, for the sake of argument, we grant that the local economy is indeed in a rosy state, should that absolve GMA of her various crimes? Would that excuse her lying, cheating, and stealing? Should we not oppose her illegal and deceitful maneuverings, like the recent con-ass and the planned people’s initiative part 2? Should we abandon all calls for accountability just because it might “damage our credit rating”?

    This administration has been rebuffed by the Courts time and again for its various illegal and scandalous undertakings. Just how many more lies, cheating, thievery, brazen railroading, harrassment and trampling of rights, illegal and tyrannical acts and pambabastos and panloloko should we take before we say “enough is enough”? Should our response continue to be, “just let her be?”

  41. moks, i appreciate the point you’re trying to make, but mathematically, you cannot do that by adding the averages in such a straightforward fashion.

    Here is the data on foreign debt service burden during Arroyo’s term (in billions of US Dollars):

    2001 3.6 principal amortization, 2.9 interest payments, 6.5 total
    2002 5.2 principal amortization, 2.2 interest payments, 7.4 total
    2003 5.4 principal amortization, 2.5 interest payments, 7.9 total
    2004 4.9 principal amortization, 2.4 interest payments, 7.2 total
    2005 4.9 principal amortization, 2.7 interest payments, 7.6 total
    [Source: BSP website ‘Selected External Debt Ratios’]

    If you add up the principal payments, it turns out that the Arroyo government has paid off 24 Billion US Dollars of foreign debt. According to the same BSP website, for the same period, the external public debt increased from 34 Billion USD (end of 2000) to 36 Billion (end of 2005). This seems to confirm your conjecture that Arroyo had to resort to more foreign borrowing to pay-off the principal. But since the reported foreign borrowing for the same period is nominally only 17 Bilion USD (as per Bureau of Treasury in the PCIJ link), it means that the rest (around 7 Billion US Dollars) had to come from the government budget (i.e. perhaps incurring domestic debt to buy US Dollars but i’m just guessing).

    The wisdom of such a policy is being debated as explained by Pinoy_gising because this seems to have been done at the expense of cuts in social and economic services with real-life consequences to the populace. If such actions are all part of a ‘confidence game‘, then the trade-off between people’s welfare and obtaining good credit ratings is questionable indeed. (Here in the corporate world, i’ve often seen executives whose actions are aimed at presenting good ratios to make them look good, never mind the consequences to the underlying health of the company, which often reveal themselves after their gone.)

  42. Pinoy_gising, to verify my calculations, here are the peso:dollar exchange rates that i used:

    1987 – 20.57, 1988 – 21.1, 1989 – 21.74, 1990 – 24.31, 1991 -27.48, 1992 – 25.51, 1993 – 27.24, 1994 – 26.33, 1995 – 25.7686, 1996 – 26.25, 1997 – 29.42, 1998 – 40.84, 1999 – 39.1391, 2000 – 44.24, 2001 – 50.993, 2002 – 51.604, 2003 – 54.203, 2004 -56.04, 2005 – 55.086

    …as well as the ratios that i used to compute the equivalent 2005 value of the US Dollar (from measuringworth.com) . i used the ‘relative share of GDP’ as this gives the most conservative results.

    1987 – 2.6281, 1988 – 2.4405, 1989 – 2.2711, 1990 – 2.1464, 1991 – 2.0774, 1992 – 1.9654, 1993 – 1.871, 1994 – 1.7612, 1995 -1.6837, 1996 – 1.5934, 1997 – 1.4999, 1998 – 1.424, 1999 – 1.3439, 2000 – 1.2688, 2001 – 1.2298, 2002 – 1.1897, 2003 – 1.1364, 2004 -1.0635, 2005 – 1

    So for example, using the Bureau of Treasury’s figures in pcij.org for foreign debt in 1987 15,420 Pesos. i divided this by 20.57 to get the equivalent US dollar value (around 750M USD) and multiplied by 2.6281 to get 1.97 Billion US Dollars equivalent in year 2005. I did the same for all the other years. The rest just involved sums and averages.

    For the domestic debt, i would have preferred to use a straight peso to peso comparison over the years (without going through the translation in dollars) but couldn’t find any as of now.

  43. Thanks so much CVJ!

    Merry Christmas to you, and to everyone here as well. I’ll be taking a brief break from discussions here. See you all again next year.

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