Tabulation of Maguindanao votes starts and the account, as published, bears thinking about in terms of Christian Monsod’s observations about the process (see yesterday’s entry):
Throughout the day, De Lima railed at the continued refusal of Santos to allow her and Brillantes to question the municipal board chairmen. “Why your honor, can we not ask questions?” De Lima asked, stressing each word.
At one point, De Lima said: “This is all part of railroading of the proceedings.”
Santos said the opposition can bring all their motions and objections before the National Board of Canvassers. Earlier in the day, he opened the canvassing by saying: “We are here to uncover the truth.”
But he said that since his was only a “special board, the rules of an ordinary provincial board of canvassers” did not apply.
Throughout the day’s exchange, TEAM Unity counsel George Garcia agreed with the rulings of Santos.
The opposition lawyers are asking partisan (obviously) but sensible questions. A blogger who says she hates politics, Lucid Unreality, had this to say:
Abalos is right, an election took place in Maguindanao because of the “proof” accompanying the certificates of canvas. No one’s questioning that. The integrity of those certificates is what I’m worried about. How sure are we that it wasn’t tampered with? It’s that simple. And for someone who hates politics and wants nothing of it, I’m pretty darn affected by such a simple fact really.
And the Supreme Court seems to be hinting it would prefer no proclamation at this time: SC defers decision on Maguindanao canvassing:
Although no temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued, Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the high court is hoping the COMELEC will defer any action that will render Pimentel’s petition moot.
If canvassing pushes through and the 12th senator is proclaimed, Marquez said legal remedies are available to revert the ruling of the COMELEC.
Meanwhile, a fire-breathing Chairman: Abalos on critics: They can jump to hell. See an OFW Living in Hong Kong for his views on the Comelec Chairman’s “courage”. Another fire-breathing official: PNP mulls probe, gun raps vs defiant, pistol-packing Bedol.
Another PR problem: Philippines likely to exceed 2007 deficit goal – JP Morgan. If the cornerstone of this administration’s PR is that it has the deficit -and thus, the economy- firmly in hand, what does it say if the foreign observers that once sang its praises, say that government’s fiscal grip is slipping?
Meanwhile, it was announced that Finance seeks toll fee tax but today, it’s Executives debate VAT on toll. Which is it? The Business Mirror editorial says government’s trying to find creative ways to further squeeze the public:
Here’s the rub: toll-way operators currently don’t pay VAT since, they say, the old law doesn’t specifically tell them to do so. So counterintuitively, Malacañang spin masters thought that if the law doesn’t say so, it could also mean the government is not prevented by the law from collecting VAT from the toll ways.
It’s a kind of creative and funny logic. We’d like to laugh but we can’t because of its possible negative implications. The government hopes to collect at least a billion pesos but it’s not certain how much it would cost ordinary Filipinos. It’s certain that toll operators would pass the extra cost to consumers by raising fares.
Economically, that would mean higher transport costs to vehicle owners and operators, which could cascade in terms of higher bus and FX fares for commuters; higher prices of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and cereals as viajeros are likely to pass on the cost to consumers; higher cost of business to entrepreneurs big and small on top of the already high transactions cost (read: expensive electricity, high port users’ charges and high cost of long-distance calls) that they currently bear; and which could ultimately spell economic difficulties to wage earners.
But the real question is, why isn’t government focusing on governance?
In hindsight, the real issue here is probably not all about taxes but governance – or the lack of it. If we take it from, Sen. Ralph Recto, tolls are “VAT-able” and have always been covered by the original VAT law. What motorists are paying right now is already VAT-inclusive – supposedly.
That means we have always been paying VAT at the toll and there’s no need to raise toll rates. If his presumption is right, the question now is “where’s the money?” Does it mean the toll operators like PNCC were collecting VAT money and pretending it’s their money?
Now you can imprison your critics and steal elections, and businessmen won’t mind, but mention taxes and businessmen suddenly become rebellious. And so, the President has to pour oil on troubled waters: Arroyo assures no new taxes on telcos.
Not just the fiscal grip’s loosening: the grip on the patronage position holders has slipped, too. The insubordination continues. 77 GOCC execs tender resignations:
The 23 GOCCs account for only one-fifth of the 117 government corporations, including government financial institutions (GFIs), whose heads were asked to tender their courtesy resignations last June 9.
In other economics news, some good news: Government saves P14.6B on interest payments in first 5 months. But Bangko Sentral isn’t happy with the strength of the Peso: Smaller BOP surplus eyed to curb Peso rise.
President will insist on her prerogative to pick and choose which senate summons her officials will heed. Also, AFP warns generals linking military to summary executions. The executive-military resistance to being taken to task for human rights violations faces a formidable adversary: the Supreme Court. There’s an explanation of why this is so, in Newsbreak, Atty. Teddy Te points out presidential prerogatives may end up severely circumscribed by the Supreme Court, which is poised to exercise some formidable, though little known, powers. See also, SC Takes New Role in National Debate.
Original copies of RP-china MOAs stolen, not lost — NBI The plot thickens?
And this is nice: Al Gore lauds Bacolod NGO for climate change solution.
Overseas, a highly relevant opinion piece on Why Indonesia needs a new social policy?
The question is: Why is Indonesia so far behind its neighboring countries? And why it is the slowest Asian country to recover from a financial crisis?
Government policies show there are two approaches to the problem: Focussing on economic growth and maintaining macro stability through tight fiscal policy — and developing partial ad-hoc social policy to tackle poverty through a social safety net program.
In the first approach the economic policy concentrates on how the economy could grow with very little cost. It concentrates on how government spending could become efficient by reducing subsidies and fostering privatization.
But the poverty reduction program including the social safety net deals with the problem of poverty in an ad-hoc manner.
In short, there is a disconnect between economic policy and social policy.
Michael Bloomberg is the money candidate and the press loves him for it. Great opening lines:
Michael Bloomberg, who was never really a Republican, became one because it was the easiest way for him to become mayor of New York.
Now Bloomberg has become an independent, because it is the easiest way for him to become president of the United States.
In politics, this is what we call principle.
History Unfolding says President Bush is a kind of decorative monarch, and that his sinister prime minister is Vice President Dick Cheney:
…the Bush Administration has led us to disaster essentially by gutting, and ignoring, the whole federal structure as it has evolved, literally, since the beginning of the Republic. Not only the bureaucracy–that Republican bogeyman for 65 years–but also the Cabinet, including loyalists like John Ashcroft as well as moderates like Colin Powell–have been completely bypassed by Cheney’s office. National Security Advisor Rice, as has been known for some time, lost her autonomy to Cheney during Bush’s first term (and is now in renewed battles with him as Secretary of State over Guantanamo and, very likely, Iran.)…
President Bush for the last six years has focused on “staying on message.” It is beginning to look, really and truly, as though that is all he does. Like a British monarch giving a series of King’s speeches, he is the public face of the Administration’s policy but he is neither designing it or directing it except in the most general (and never-varying) terms. And indeed, some of his own most deeply held beliefs–such as the need to promote democracy–have not really been reflected in policy because the Vice President does not share them.
and check this out: Facebook v MySpace – a class divide:
Ms Boyd also conjectures that the US military’s recent decision to ban personnel from using sites including MySpace is evidence of social fissures in the armed forces. “A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because there’s a division, even in the military. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook.”
In the punditocracy, Julis Fortuna says de Venecia’s reelection as Speaker is a sure thing. Jose Ma. Montelibano is all praises for Gawad Kalinga; they deserve praise, indeed, but I continue to think their great crisis will come, when they realize, though they refuse to see it now, that they will need to be politically involved sooner, rather than later. Heroism is slipping, to my mind, too freely and easily from their tongues; it requires sacrifice and confrontation. And by the way, mass housing provides tax perks, besides big business: Number of firms availing of tax perks rises: Mass housing sector a booming business.
Generation gap: a letter to the editor from a grandmother complains of Immature politics, disrespectful solons. For for the younger generation’s views, see The Purple Phoenix Talks about Philippine Politics
In the blogosphere, blog@AWBHoldings does a little sleuthing concerning accusations that congressmen were trying to extort bribes to approve presidential appointments. This is a bad season for congressmen: Anti-smuggling chief says congressmen pressuring him to release smuggled goods.
Patsada Karajaw dissects various political doctrines that have been proposed as a result of the May elections.
Philippine Commentary further dissects the Anti-Terrorism law.
But as hundreds of us pile up at POEA, line up the intenet cafe to browse for jobs overseas, fly out daily to places as far as Azerbajian and Honduras where we think we can find our Philippine Dream (*saglit lang. me Philippine Dream ba?), – ANYWAY – check out who are the people flying to Manila in droves!!! It’s the Koreans and the Chinese!!! And look! They are coming to our dear kawntri for the very same reasons why we are all leaving the Philippines?!
In La Vida Lawyer, there’s an utterly fascinating letter penned by Marcelo H. del Pilar about the social and political dynamics of Filipinos in Spain. It reads like it could have been written about any Filipino organization, anywhere, and the leadership fights that inevitably occur.