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Jun 04

Supreme Court slaps Gonzalez

The Supreme Court dismisses charges against congressmen of the Left, and hands down a stinging rebuke of the Secretary of (in)Justice:

The obvious involvement of political considerations in the actuations of respondent Secretary of Justice and respondent prosecutors brings to mind an observation we made in another equally politically charged case. We reiterate what we stated then, if only to emphasize the importance of maintaining the integrity of criminal prosecutions in general and preliminary investigations in particular, thus:

[W]e cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends, or other purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and fundamental objective of observing the interest of justice evenhandedly, without fear or favor to any and all litigants alike, whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty. Only by strict adherence to the established procedure may be public’s perception of the impartiality of the prosecutor be enhanced.

John Nery in Inquirer Current says the Supreme Court’s sent Gonzalez a pretty clear warning:

Reading the Carpio decision, and remembering Gonzalez’s recent string of defeats in Supreme Court cases (his legal philosophy these days, it seems to me, is based on an untenable assertion of the executive’s privileges), I cannot help but think that, however subtly, the high court is sending him, not merely a message, but a warning.

The Inquirer editorial seems to think so, too. But it’s not all’s well that ends well: Rep. Crispin Beltran faces the irony of being unable to pay for the hospital arrest to which he was subjected by the government.
Namfrel curls up and dies: Namfrel ends parallel count with 88% coverage; it’s 8-2-2. The Palace embraces Justice Cruz’s proposal to proclaim a 13th senator-elect. In his column, Fel Maragay goes into the pros and cons of the idea. Meanwhile, Nene Pimentel’s 2 votes shy of toppling Manny Villar for Senate President.

It’s interesting that Lito Gagni points to the candidacy of Rep. Pablo Garcia as something businessmen are moderately bullish about:

Speaker de Venecia is now battling a pernicious perception of the House as an institution that initiated the emotional-driven Charter change that resulted in deep division in the country. That division is something that the business groups do not want to happen as it takes out the entrepreneurial drive.

Because of the proposed changes in the Constitution, many businessmen had to forego their expansion plans and even their projections in view of the possible repercussions from the emotionally charged atmosphere brought about by the proposed Charter amendments.

In fact, some businessmen are again wary of another de Venecia speakership as they fear that the proposed changes could again come about.

The opinions of the businessmen does point to a way forward, if stability is indeed something desirable in terms of economic growth. Garcia was a proponent of a constitutional convention to achieve Charter Change; electing him Speaker would send the signal that Charter Change with the possibility of extending the President’s term of office or allowing her to become prime minister is dead; the assurance that the President has no choice but to step down in 2010 will help clear the political air; and with all side focused on a fresh start under a new administration, there would, indeed, be a greater likelihood of a modus vivendi until 2010.

On the economic front, further: Radstock deal OK’d by the counrts.

Bloomberg reports inflation has probably accelerated for a second month: Associated Press reports further rise in stock market driven in part by China’s decision to increase its tax on stock purchases; in the Business Mirror, details on the winners and gainers with the 1st Quarter numbers:

The agriculture, fishery and forestry sector grew 4.2 percent; industry at 5.3 percent and services at 9.1 percent - the latter growth being the highest since 1983, prompting economic officials to describe it as the linchpin in the economy.

Services contributed 4.4 percentage points to overall GDP growth, followed by industry with 1.7 percentage points and agriculture fishery and forestry with 0.8 percentage point.

Among other production side indicators in the first quarter, manufacturing gross value added slowed to 4.6 percent from 5 percent during the same period last year; construction went down to an 8.6-percent growth from 10.7 percent; trade up to 9.1 percent from 5.3 percent; private services increased pace to 8.9 percent from 7.7 percent, and government services posted a 7.1-percent growth from 3.7 percent.

“There are some indications that some manufacturing establishments are increasingly engaging in other economic activities, particularly, trading,” Romulo A. Virola, secretary-general of the National Statistical Coordination Board, said of the sector’s continued major contribution to industry despite a seeming slowdown.

On the expenditure side, personal consumption expenditure picked up to 5.9 percent from 5.3 percent; government consumption to 13.1 percent from 7.6 percent; capital formation nudged up 0.6 percent versus 0.3 percent before and exports posted a 9.1-percent growth against a faster 13-percent expansion during the first quarter last year…

The Philippines’ first-quarter growth is third highest in the region, next to China and Vietnam.

The Inquirer editorial for June 2 says that the markets have learned to take political developments in stride, pointing to Texas Instrument’s decision to boost its local exposure:

Even more important, investors are putting more money into the economy. The Mall of Asia, an expensive gamble by Henry Sy, is a retail and tourism success story rolled into one. A Saudi prince is investing over $100 million in upscale projects.

The biggest vote of confidence in the Philippines, however, is Texas Instruments’ decision to invest all of its expansion money in new Philippine plants (including a site inside the Clark economic zone). This decision is particularly gratifying, not simply because the alternative the company considered but ultimately dismissed was Thailand, the regional hub for many multinationals in Southeast Asia, but also because Texas Instruments is no stranger to the Philippines.

Unlike some of the businessmen surveyed by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy in its annual corruption report, Texas Instruments has been in the country for decades. Thus, the company, one of the country’s largest exporters, knows the Philippine business environment very well indeed.

The editorial also points out when, precisely, election spending’s effects on the economy will be noticed:

We can expect the election spending factor to continue to have an impact in the second quarter, since April and May are right smack in the center of election season.

But the editorial also believes believes the kind of news that can have a (to borrow a Palace phrase) have a destabilizing effect on investor emotions, is human-rights-related news:

Political risk is the main uncertainty facing the economy. But we have a slightly different take on what constitutes political risk.

The intramurals between the Lakas-CMD and Kampi parties for control of the House of Representatives, the final cast of winners in the Senate elections, the resumption or the scuttling of Charter-change initiatives, the possibility of yet another impeachment campaign against the President — these are not especially risk-laden concerns. The business community has learned to discount some of the political turmoil crowding the front pages and the TV screens.

It is the still unresolved issue of the political killings, however, that is the real sword of Damocles hanging over the economy. Already, the foreign chambers of commerce in the country have warned Malacañang about the costs of inaction. The United Nations and the European Union have expressed alarm over the possibility that the government may be complicit. If the killings continue, it is only a matter of time before the scandal cancels out any goodwill the country enjoys from the good news on the economy.

While the Business Mirror editorial argues that,

Now that we have praised ourselves with this new growth figure, we need to ask whether or not the service-driven economy is the most desirable growth path for us. Growth per se is good; an expanding pie somehow means that more and more people got the crumbs. But crumbs are crumbs and they are not going to create adequate nourishment for the broader sectors of the economy.

Consider these facts: interest rates are low (read: capital is cheap) and the peso has been “strong” (read: imported machines, technology, packaging products and equipment are cheap). And yet, durable equipment has not been rising. That could be interpreted to mean that business organizations are not investing in new machines and are not refurbishing their offices. Isn’t that a sign of a wait-and-see attitude? If it is, investor confidence, therefore, is not yet fully restored.

The real reason probably lies in the structure of the economy, i.e. its being a service-driven one. Service companies, business-process outsourcing (BPOs) for instance, usually don’t import huge machines, nor do they build factories. That means they are not likely to hire workers en masse the way a factory, requiring thousands of skilled and unskilled workers, would. Do we ever wonder why despite all the decent growth we achieved in the last three years, we can’t seem to address joblessness? That’s the reason.

The counterpoint seems to be that the services economy actually creates jobs fast, since setting up a service company like a BPO doesn’t require so much capital infusion. All that is required is a nice building with reliable broadband Internet connection and voilà! hundreds of call-center agents or software programmers are hired.

That’s true in the case of the country’s cyberservices industry. But the one thing that is ignored in this debate is the fact that the services sector has the tendency to hire call-center agents, accountants, medical transcribers, lawyers and software engineers first before they get janitors, street sweepers and errand boys. The ideal thing to do is to provide jobs for both accountants and the like, as well as janitors, street sweepers, farmers and factory workers.

India should provide a clear example to us. India is far ahead of the Philippines in terms of service-driven growth. Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi are full of information-technology campuses that glittered like urban utopias.

A few blocks from these campuses are stark manifestations of the continuing poverty, inequality and the perennial failure of the public sector to provide much-needed social services and urban infrastructure. Indians are aware of this and are actually looking at China’s manufacturing-driven growth with great envy.

The point here is that our service-driven growth is good, but we should start looking beyond that to spread the benefits of an expanding economy beyond the upper strata of society.

Romulo Neri, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, actually acknowledged these limitations and has outlined crucial reforms and expenditure programs to boost both the farms and factories.

We wonder whether or not government has actually done something to address the bureaucracy’s absorptive capacity, as well as its tendency to waste public money to graft and corruption. It’s something that mass media and the general public should watch for as we approach the second half of 2007.

To wrap up these views, Solita Monsod tries to point out that critics and skeptics and Palace boosters are both off tangent:

Of course, the critics are not the only ones who can be faulted for showing their pessimism. The government, too, has a tendency to get carried away — on the other end of the spectrum. President Arroyo and some of her economic team are now claiming that this is a portent of things to come, and that the current targets and projections are too low and should be increased. This has happened before, and it will happen again: they usually fall flat on their collective faces. The moral of the story is that the public should not believe the propaganda of either side so readily.

She has a relevant word for those whom she believes are skeptical of official figures because they seem different from what people actually experience, economy-wise:

Finally, to those who are wont to scoff that these figures cannot be correct because they see no improvement in their living standards or their well-being, the following must be repeated or emphasized:

First of all, the 6.9 percent GDP growth in the economy does not mean that every single sector and sub-sector in the economy has grown at that rate. There are huge disparities that are hidden by that average. For example, the real growth rate in nickel mining was 120 percent while the real growth in tobacco manufacturing was negative (it contracted by 34 percent). The growth rate for beverages manufacturing was also negative at -5 percent. (I call attention to the “contraction” in beverages and manufacturing because these figures are belied by the 8 percent and 7 percent growth in consumption expenditures on these two products respectively. The inconsistency suggests underreporting of production on the part of some firms, which calls for action on the part of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.)

Second, while growth is a necessary condition for the increase in well-being of the people, it is not sufficient. That is why there is a distinction between economic growth and human development. The quality of that growth is important. The UNDP Human Development Report warns about jobless, ruthless, voiceless, rootless and futureless growth. The acid test is whether the growth we are experiencing is the right kind.

That was the point of the Business Mirror editorial above, by the way. Is the current growth the right kind?

Financial woes of Manny Pacquio affects the banking system: Manny’s millions shake banks.

Overseas: Indonesia’s president faces allegations of having used campaign slush funds.

In the punditocracy, my column for today is A history of the House.

Oscar Lagman in his BusinessWorld column (unavailable online), compares Fr. Panlilio’s victory to similar revolts by the middle and upper classes in the 1950s and 1960s:

In 1959, the residents of Quezon City, exasperated at the poor performance of those running the city government, organized the Citizens League for Good Government which subsequently fielded a full slate of candidates, from mayor to councilors, in the elections of that year. The standard bearer of that ticket was a former Philippine Navy officer, Captain [Charlie] Albert and the nominees for the city council included former Supreme Court justices and an ex-president of the University of the Philippines. All the League’s candidates were swept into office.

Inspired by the success of the Quezon City citizens movement, the people of Pasay City, much more aggravated than the Quezon City residents, also formed their own Citizens League for Good Government. And like its counterpart in Quezon City, the league scored a resounding victory in 1963.

But the old politicians of the two cities would not allow a new breed of public officials to run their respective fiefdoms. They resorted to their old tricks and methodically worked their way back to power. Never again did a citizens league emerge.

Incidentally, in addition to the above, and ask asked in a comment by Gus Lagman, the QC citizen’s league was also composed of veteran politicians like former Senator Proceso Sebastian; but they were up against the machinery of mayor Amoranto, who had introduced the squatter vote into Quezon City -the squatter vote serves as an antidote to whatever votes middle class reformists can put together; not to mention the fact that the candidates of the league were generally elderly individuals while Charlie Albert died young.

He also urges Randy David to provide counsel to the new Pampanga governor:

Among Ed first urged Randy David to run for governor of Pampanga. Unlike the President, David is a full-blooded Pampango. He was born there and he grew up there. He speaks Pampango fluently. He goes back to Pampanga regularly, not for political show but to be with his cabalens.

But David parried Among Ed’s prodding, telling the good priest that public service is not his calling. Among Ed next asked Ping de Jesus, Cory’s one-time Secretary of Public Works and Highways, and recently retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban. It was only when both declined that Among Ed decided to run himself.

Now that Ed Panlilio will be governor of Pampanga in the next three years, maybe David can at least act as counsel to Governor Panlilio just like Apolinario Mabini was to President Emilio Aguinaldo and Loenzo Tanada to President Cory Aquino. With his profound understanding of Philippine politics and intimate knowledge of the Pampangos’ psychology, David can help Governor Panlilio do all the things he says in his column to bring down the politics of patronage and bring about a new brand of governance.

In the blogosphere, The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile on the kind of improvements our navy really needs. Iloilo City Boy returns to the blogosphere with an election post-mortem:

So I guess the message of the people to their leaders is this: “We don’t want GMA removed, but we want her every action closely guarded and scrutinized.”

And Torn and Frayed points out the kinds of foreign ownership allowed by the government -which might surprise Filipino readers (and he also asks, why keep the professions closed to foreigners?).

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97 comments

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  1. torn

    Justice League — OK, fair point. I will ask.

  2. inodoro ni emilie

    “The UNDP Human Development Report warns about jobless, ruthless, voiceless, rootless and futureless growth. The acid test is whether the growth we are experiencing is the right kind.”

    patay kang solita ka! why did you use the undp human development report?!? according to one supercilious blogger, the cia country report is more reliable.

  3. The Ca t

    patay kang solita ka! why did you use the undp human development report?!? according to one supercilious blogger, the cia country report is more reliable.

    Some trying hard wannabe economist does not have a clue what he’s talking about.
    Mahirap sa mga nagdunong-dunongan.

  4. The Magnificent

    Regarding Pablo Garcia as Speaker of the House, if indeed the business sectors see him as a fresh new alternative to Joe de Venecia, I’m wary. Is this a vote of confidence for Garcia because they know he’ll be a better Speaker or is it because they’ll vote anybody into Speakership because they’re tired of de Venecia? What do the powers that be in Manila really know about Pabling?

    In the first place, Pablo Garcia is OLD. He’s about 83 years old, more or less. So the argument that he’s not a proponent of traditional politics would be fallacious because Pablo was around when traditional politics was still a novel concept. He was bred and schooled in the art of patronage politics.

    In the second place, I guarantee you that there are no guarantees as to how Pabling will swing his vote once the winds of Charter Change come a-knockin’. Historically, the Garcia family have always been men of the times (read into that as you will). Just give them a good reason to change their minds and they would. Maybe now he’s sounding off his opposition to Charter change because it suffices for the radical role he wants to play against Joe de V’s tradpol image, but once he goes into power… well… you get the picture.

    Well maybe he would be against tampering with the Constitution that he worked so hard on when he was in the Con Com, but that’s a big maybe. It could work the other way… he would be the first person who would know how to tweak it.

    Maybe I’m just being paranoid because I was a child when Pabling was Governor of Cebu, from what I remember, he didn’t do anything much for the province. Like I’ve said in my blog, better the devil that you know than the demon that you don’t.

    By all means, reconsider having Joe de V as Speaker of the House, but really, what do you all know about the man that you want to take his place?

  5. inodoro ni emilie

    haven’t all these wannabe economists been saying all along that any rise in gdp/gnp does not necessarily trickle to improvement of human living conditions?

    that is the distinction solita is making. is that difficult to grasp or what? one’s literacy-leve, btw,way is one of the components being looked at in assessing hdi.

    ========================================================
    from undp (source: http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/faq.html#24)

    “How is the HDI used?

    • To capture the attention of policy makers, media and NGOs and to draw their attention away from the more usual economic statistics to focus instead on human outcomes. The HDI was created to re-emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth.
    • To question national policy choices – asking how two countries with the same level of income per person can end up with such different human development outcomes (HDI levels). For example, Viet Nam and Pakistan have similar levels of income per person, but life expectancy and literacy differ greatly between the two countries, with Viet Nam having a much higher HDI value than Pakistan. These striking contrasts immediately stimulate debate on government policies on health and education, asking why what is achieved in one country is far from the reach of another.

    Can GDP be used to measure human development instead of the HDI?

    No. GDP per capita only reflects average national income. It tells nothing of how that income is distributed or how that income is spent – whether on universal health, education or military expenditure. Comparing rankings on GDP per capita and the HDI can reveal much about the results of national policy choices. For example, a country with a very high GDP per capita such as Kuwait, who has a relatively low level of education attainment, can have a lower HDI rank than, say, Uruguay, who has roughly half the GDP per capita of Kuwait.

    ========================================================

  6. inodoro ni emilie

    and oh, i prefer a rebuttal from your cia country report.

  7. The Ca t

    and oh, i prefer a rebuttal from your cia country report.

    If you do not know what you are talking about, you better keep your silence. Pinagtatawanan ka ng mga nakakaalam.

    I would not elaborate it either. Ang mga nakapikit ang mata at utak mahirap turuan. Sayang ang bandwidth.
    Sige magpakaintellectual ka kuno dito.

  8. The Ca t

    So C at, is it your position that the present administration is a success as far as economic growth is concerned, and is a failure as far as human development is concerned?

    So what do you think of this growth rate?

    Human development. As far as I know most of the US movie celebrities and philanthropists are focused now in Africa where people are dying of hunger.

    I have not seen Bill Gates dipping from his foundation to save the dying hungry Filipinos.

  9. inodoro ni emilie

    “If you do not know what you are talking about, you better keep your silence. Pinagtatawanan ka ng mga nakakaalam.”

    for my enlightenment, tell me if i misread solita? or the rest of the wannabe economists in here?

  10. Jeg

    So what do you think of this growth rate?

    I think growth-rate, shmowth-rate because if it doesnt lead to development, then it’s useless. Indeed human development is what it’s supposed to be for.

    And you have to forgive me because you lost me on the celebrities and Bill Gates and what they have to do with us. I mean us here in the Philippines.

  11. inodoro ni emilie

    ako rin, got lost in this thinking trajectory.

    but nonetheless it would be interesting to dissect the logic:

    premise: there are some philantrophic people in the u.s.; these people are focused on helping africa. because in africa, there are people dying of hunger.

    bill gates is a philanthropher; ergo, he could be one of the people helping africa.

    but, he may or may not be helping in the philippines. who knows for sure? [after all, “seeing him dip” is not exactly a matter of fact; unless, one happens to head the accounting dept of gate’s foundation, or the network it works with.]

    let’s assume he’s not channelling his charitable funds to the philippines.

    what does her conclusion seem to suggest:

    a. that the notion of human development is tied up to bill gates?
    b. no bill gates presence means no filipinos dying of hunger?
    c. human development is only about hunger?

    might as well shut your eyes and mind than taint them with convoluted logic.

  12. ay_naku

    so SC is the final arbiter..did it not recognized GMA’s presidency?

    Yes it recognized her constitutional succession back in 2001. Not her 2004 electoral shenanigans. James, don’t be intellectually dishonest.

  13. justice league

    Cvj,

    Well then it would depend on what we individually hold as logical then.

    You would choose and press for such an “unfair” scenario.

    I would choose and rather press for a scenario that is “not unfair” and as far as I’m concerned is a win-win scenario for the Philippines and its people.

    And whether anyone will believe this or not; that IDEA CAME FROM YOU even before I started typing my response on the issue.

    I don’t want to surmise why you have such poor memory but I suggest you read the “dead thread” that you bumped up. Its there on your post on March 5, 2007 at 12:03 AM.

    As far as I should have been concerned, the “logic” of my reaction was settled long ago before you considered round 2 of this issue.

  14. manuelbuencamino

    Senator elect Alan Peter Cayetano quipped:

    If Pablo Garcia becomes the new Speaker then phoning him won’t be a problem – “HELLO GARCI, YA?

  15. tagabukid

    I would not elaborate it either. Ang mga nakapikit ang mata at utak mahirap turuan. Sayang ang bandwidth.Sige magpakaintellectual ka kuno dito.

    Hail to the dominatrix of this blog! Good to see you post again, I missed your witty one-liners that make you sound very smart. It always give the impression that you know what you’re talking about. Care to tell us kung paano ipikit ang utak?

    🙂

  16. rego

    “Yes it recognized her constitutional succession back in 2001. Not her 2004 electoral shenanigans. James, don’t be intellectually dishonest.”

    Ano to? Kailalangan, irecognized ng SC ang eletoral shenanigans? hmmmmmm… I think the point of james was that SC sworn in Gloria in 2004 the same she was sworn in in 2001. So that makes her presidency in 2004 legitmate.

  17. rego

    Now if opposition wanted to eligitimized her presidency, they just have to do what need to be done. And work really rally hard.

  18. rego

    Re GDP growth and UNDP Growth…They both are atually good indicators. While the government and the nation as a whole should be congratualted for the GDP achievement, ther is still so much work to do in the area of UNDP growth.

    However, I believe, the investors are looking more on the GDP growth instead of UNDP…..

  19. cvj

    Justice League, i see what you mean. You value fairness/equity over a general increase in welfare within an unfair arrangement. I agree that within your framework of values, your belief is logical. (and i thought i was supposed to be the ‘communist’ in this forum:-). Of course Torn is also working from the standpoint of fairness and reciprocity in a sense that is closer to mine.

    As much as possible, all of us would like a scenario that is fair. However, as far as values go, i believe that perceived fairness takes a back seat to a situation which everybody ends up better off. What is important to me is that the worst off among our people get the required medical care and the nationality of the doctor is secondary. I also don’t mind if down the road, some foreign tourist is getting world class treatment as long as it is not at the expense of our own. Those are the facts of life.

    If you can come up with a proposal that would address the labor shortage of medical professionals in some other way, i’d be willing to consider it. Otherwise, i see this twin approach of importing foreign doctors and encouraging local doctors to stay via medical tourism as the most viable alternative.

  20. cvj

    Regarding the suggestion i made at March 5, 2007 12:03 AM, as i replied at March 8th, 2007 3:48 am, you’re right that i completely forgot about it so you can consider it your idea.

  21. cvj

    I think the point of james was that SC sworn in Gloria in 2004 the same she was sworn in in 2001. So that makes her presidency in 2004 legitmate. – Rego

    As i said last October, you cannot argue that Arroyo is ‘legitimate’ because she has been proclaimed by the ‘constitutional legitimizers’ when what is at issue in the first place is the validity of that proclamation in light of information that has subsequently been revealed. The instrumentalities of State are there to uphold the choice of the people, not to override it.

  22. tagabukid

    Re GDP growth and UNDP Growth…They both are atually good indicators.

    I believe UNDP = United Nations Development Programme.

    Nalilito na ata si Rego…Solita was referring to the UNDP Human Devt Report.

  23. vic

    Who said that Bill Gates is just giving his Billions to the Starving Africa? Read this. This one will benefit not just Africa, but the Global community.

    Canada’s New Government and Gates Foundation announce support for HIV/AIDS vaccine research
    http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=1544

  24. UP n student

    cvj and rego: The Philippines is like Venezuela and Cuba and even Canada — medical care delivery to the population can be improved if the already-available medical personnel are distributed “fairly”. The employed physicians and nurses are working in the urban areas — rural areas are seriously underserved. Now the Philippines has many unemployed physicians and nurses who are also in the urban areas. A solution is for the STATE to hire the unemployed physicians and nurses and to assign them to the rural areas. Where to get the money for salaries? Raise taxes (or beg/borrow from name-your-favorite-donor-countries).

  25. cvj

    Upn student, that’s a good point. Since you brought up the option of using the State for hiring and redeploying unemployed doctors from the cities to the rural areas, perhaps we should ask the Cubans for advice on how they go about their funding and deployment in this area.

  26. vic

    UPn,
    The Government here, both the Federal and Provincials, are addressing the problem of availability of health care delivery to remote areas. Canada is a country of 3.8 million Square miles, while the Philippines is only ll2 thousands, althought most of ours just a wasteland, our northern most part are mostly accessible by air in summer and ice highways in winter and it is very expensive to send in an air ambulance to pick up a patient,especially in aboriginal villages. One measure proposed is to accellerate payback of Students loans of Medical and Nursing graduates by taking a “loyalty tour” in remote areas. A public nurse in the north is paid $l20 thousands a year, but in a land of l hour sunlight in winter or even less and polar bears as your playmates, money is not that attractive of an incentives.

  27. justice league

    Cvj,

    Let’s clarify certain matters.

    Your proposal which you admit is within an “unfair” arrangement would have produced a general increase in welfare including wherein the worst off among our people would get the required medical care.

    My proposal (which was actually initially yours) which is within a “fair” arrangement would have also produced a general increase in welfare including wherein the worst off among our people would get the required medical care.

    Therefore, BOTH arrangements would have produced a general increase in welfare.

    It would then be a matter of choosing between the fair arrangement and the unfair arrangement.

    I am choosing the “fair” arrangement.

    But why the heck are you sticking it out with the “unfair” arrangement?

    So I would have appreciated if you phrased your statement with regards to that I value a general increase in welfare within fairness “over” a general increase in welfare within an unfair arrangement instead of your statement coming the way it does.

    Now I don’t know how Cuba did it but since you are asking me for my proposals; I’m definitely in favor of at least a 2 pronged approach.

    One, make plans that entice our doctors to remain here. Medical tourism is only part of this since not all physicians will be included in the program. Maybe an increase in salaries for government doctors is another standardization law be upheld or be damned amended (I mean)

    Two, make plans to increase the number of students taking up medicine. Heavy subsidies if needed.

    I wish BENJ would put his input here since he is a medical student in U.P.

    For those of you here who don’t like/love the likes of Trillanes; do consider that some 2 million Pesos was spent by the Philippine Military Academy courtesy of our money to produce “one” of him.

    For 2 million Pesos, that could have produced anywhere from 4 to 10 doctors (With attrition as a factor, lets peg it at 4) that would have been supported completely from the 1st year of med school to their 5th year.

    How to keep them here, go back to plan One.

    Now for those who do like/love the likes of Trillanes, I’ll go out on a limb and presume that those who do like/love the likes of him hate the likes of Jocjoc Bolante.

    So how many doctors can be produced from the amount Bolante is supposed to be involved with? I would guess a real lot!

    Three (which is a long shot), is to entice our physicians abroad to come back here. Other than enticing them to run for the Senate; I have little idea on this. (I voted for Doc Bautista so that was just a joke)

    The point is that we are headed into a medical crisis if we are not yet in one.

    I remember a government commercial about something like 8 plans for ’08. One of the plans was supposed to investing in the Filipino people.

    Well I don’t see/read/feel that investment in our people at least with regards to the health sector problem.

    But then others might have better ideas other than what we both advocate.

  28. UP n student

    cvj: I agree with you. We can send Doc Bautista and Panfilo Lacson to Havana and check out how Castro does it. If you can believe what is posted in the internet, then Castro has a win-win arrangement — Cuban-OFW-doctors-to-Venezuela in return for Venezuela-OIL.
    Also note the “loyaly tour” concept that Vic has posted — maybe the government can make more formal the obligations of UP “iskolar-nang-bayan” medical graduates so that they assigned for at least 3 years to Mindanao and other rural areas of the Philippines. [But, dang… do you see the C$120K-a-year salary in the land of the polar bear?]

  29. cvj

    But why the heck are you sticking it out with the “unfair” arrangement? – Justice League

    Because i don’t think the fair alternative is enough to fully address the immediate shortage.
    I agree with you that we are already in a medical crisis, hence the urgency. As i previously replied (on March 8th, 2007 at 3:48 am)…

    …Your suggested training program can nevertheless exist side by side with the policy of importing Cuban, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Lebanese and whoever foreign doctors are willing to come here to practice. After all, it takes some time for the educational system to churn out doctors so we would still need to address the immediate labor shortage.The above do not have to be mutually exclusive alternatives…

    UPn Student, i’m all for exploring a win-win arrangement with Castro (Fidel or Raul) as well as compelling medical scholars to serve in rural areas for a few years. I believe in a combination of monetary and non-monetary incentives. (Siguro, hindi naman lahat sa kanila mukhang pera.)

    For funding medical education, maybe we can also ask the Rotary Club to cough up the 728 Million Pesos that one of their own took off with.

  30. justice league

    Cvj,

    UPN’s point is that the country has many unemployed physicians and nurses who happen to be in the urban areas and you have agreed with his idea of hiring and redeploying unemployed doctors from the cities to the rural areas.

    Surely you should hold that such a move would offset the immediate shortage already while the educational system do churn out doctors.

    We are just going to go back to my issue that there is no government plan (aside from medical tourism) “beyond” taking in foreign physicians and if I may be so bold again as to imply that you are tolerating the indolence of this government.

  31. cvj

    Justice League, i have said above that UPn’s suggestion is a good idea. If there are enough of them, and if we can convince most of them to redeploy via government programs, then well and good. According to an article (which i will link to separately), the ideal doctor to population ratio is 1 to 6000, while the current ratio is 1 to 26000. This means that (given a population of 85 million) if we can find 11000 unemployed but nevertheless qualified doctors, then perhaps UPn’s idea is feasible.

    Yes, you can go ahead and imply that i’m tolerating the indolence of the government if that would make you feel better.

  32. cvj

    Here’s the link to the article i referenced above. It also quotes Ruth Padilla, the president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) saying that there is actually no shortage of nurses and doctors in the Philippines. According to her, “What we have is a shortage of skilled nurses and doctors, and those who are committed enough to go to the rural areas” .

  33. justice league

    Cvj,

    Whether it makes me feel better or not is not the point because it is what you are doing.

    And I know my math is mediocre but I’ve tried to compute how many physicians there are but based on your data; your data implies that there are only about 3,270 practicing doctors to begin with.

  34. cvj

    Justice League, yes that’s what the article (from 2004) implies when it states those ratios above, but in another section it also says that ‘some 6,000 doctors signed a covenant pledging to stay and practice in the Philippines before they consider leaving for abroad.‘ which implies a larger number.

  35. justice league

    Cvj,

    I’ll just wait for your link then but I have an inkling that the ratio was computed only with government doctors in mind and didn’t take into account those in private practice.

  36. cvj

    You may be right.

  37. UP n student

    Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, executive director of the National Institutes of Health and vice chancellor for research at the University of the Philippines Manila, has proposed a number of solutions, to include the establishment of a NHSA/National Health Services Act which may require medical and nursing graduates, specially those from state colleges and universities, to serve a few years in the country. Also asking a hospital from “Northern” countries to provide a financial grant for every Filipino health professional joining its staff. The financial grant will go to a medical- and nursing-development trust fund of a Philippine hospital or medical or nursing school. [The article issues an alert: fewer people now seem to be interested in becoming doctors. The number of students taking the National Medical Admissions Test (NMAT) has gone down 33 percent in 2004; enrollment in medical schools experienced a proportionate decrease (as enrolment in nursing has increased)]

  38. UP n student

    For the solutions identified by Dr. Galvez Tan, go to:
    http://www.medobserver.com/aug2005/nih.html

  39. UP n student

    A WHO Report on the issue has this paragraph:
    …. governments need to seek creative solutions. In Mongolia, where the average health worker earns only $40 a month, scholarships are being offered to medical students willing to return and work in rural areas for at least three years. Thailand has found that training staff with a locally focused curriculum encourages retention in rural areas and a drop in migration.

  40. UP n student

    The Philippine government (the government, not necessarily GMA herself) has had a plan, called DTTB — doctors to the barrio.
    Flavier’s “Project 271,” as the DTTB program was first called, aimed to send doctors to 271 fifth- and sixth-class towns that hadn’t had a resident physician in at least 10 years. Flavier had appealed to young medical graduates, especially those from the heavily state-subsidized University of the Philippines, to serve in the countryside. The DTTB program’s success can be gauged partly from the fact that impoverished towns now need only to have been doctorless for two years to convince the national government to assign them a rural health physician.

  41. UP n student

    SIDE-TOPIC: CNN.COM headline : Throw Away Toothpaste Made in China

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The US government warned consumers on Friday to avoid using toothpaste made in China because it may contain a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze.
    Out of caution, the Food and Drug Administration said, people should throw away toothpaste with labeling that says it was made in China. The FDA is concerned that these products may contain diethylene glycol.

    …. The ingredient in question, called DEG, is used as a lower-cost sweetener and thickening agent. The highest concentration of the chemical found in toothpaste so far was between 3 percent and 4 percent of the product’s overall weight.

    “It does not belong in toothpaste even in small concentrations,” said the FDA’s Deborah M. Autor.

  42. cvj

    I don’t know how true it still is today, but one of my highschool classmates who is into Hospital administration told me a few years ago that what the Philippines lacks is primary medical care (i.e. clinics) as opposed to full-blown hospitals.

  43. justice league

    Cvj,

    Atty. Doc Bu Castro seems to have been presented with wrong data. The ratio seems more applicable only to government physicians:population at that time.

    And if I’m not mistaken, he was planning suit to go abroad too back then. Can’t say if he left though but he doesn’t seem to be around anymore.

  44. The Ca t

    UPn

    DEG is the chemical used in coolant and anti-freeze in the refrigeration systems.

    The toothpastes imported from China and are being sold in Dollar Stores because they are cheap contained DEG as a substitute for the real glycerine, the bonding ingredient in the toothpaste that makes the gummy paste.

    Glycerine costs three times the DEG.The discovery was not made in the US. It was in Panama and Costa Rica where deaths and paralysis of several people due to expectorants diluted with DEG led to the investigation of a Chinese Company which labeled DEG as pharmaceutical grade glycerine.

  45. UP n student

    The Ca t: I am becoming more cautious with made-in-China foodstuff. Just 3 weeks ago, my sister gave me sungsong (you know this, right — peanuts, first boiled, then dried). She did not give me the made-in-the-Philippines brands. The made-in-China sungsong tastes slightly different, is probably cheaper… and now I am worried the made-in-China may have “special ingredients” so I trashed the 3 bags of sungsong remaining.

  46. cvj

    Justice League, i think you’re right as the number of government doctors as indicated in the nscb’s site is in that range. I’m still looking for the total number of doctors as well as the number of unemployed doctors.

  47. The Ca t

    I thought, this is just black propaganda against Chinese imports but I personally experienced consuming foodstuffs that gave me skin rashes if not gastro.

    I am now very particular with imported items with preservatives. I became a label reader when it comes to active and inactive ingredients of the product. The products in the US are required to specify in their labels, the percentage of composition of some ingredients and their purpose.

    With all the information available in the internet, a consumer will be educated as to what he is getting from a product especially those which are taken orally.

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