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Jun 28

It’s up to the Supremes

The train, it seems, has entered the station: Zubiri wins Maguindanao; Pimentel pins hope on SC ruling. The thing is, what did Zubiri win, exactly? Anyway, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court today, as Fight for 12th Senate seat shifts to Manila, with the Chief Justice making broad hints: Puno reiterates wish for freeze of canvass. Is he running out of time? Party-list, senatorial winners could be proclaimed June 30. Could, or will?

Meanwhile, PNP: Where’s arrest order on Bedol? Well, maybe Malacañang offers Bedol protection is related?

Revamp? What cabinet revamp? Arroyo reappoints CA’s 12 bypassed Cabinet members (see also 12 Cabinet men get new papers). While there’s this naughty story, Palace in-fighting worsens; Ronnie Puno tipped to replace Ermita, I still believe the real story is one of plain insubordination: the president made a wish, which might as well have been a command -and people didn’t obey.

JDV allies say he is GMA’s anointed, although Jose de Venecia, supposedly, followed the President around Singapore like a lonely puppy. But the President’s still being coy: Ermita: Race for House speakership just a numbers game. The word war continues among her other allies: Shut up, Palace tells Congressman Teves.
A new front? US military offers help in war vs NPA.

My column for today is It’s up to the Supremes. See also my entry yesterday.

There’s a very interesting speech titled Is the 7% Economic Growth Sustainable? by Oscar Lopez. He points out the 6.9% First Quarter growth of the country, and asks, what caused it?

The phenomenon of 6.9% GDP growth, at least during the first quarter, has been explained from the perspective of expenditures, as opposed to production, as follows: first, our economy’s growth continued to be propelled by consumption spending, which averaged 5.9% over Q1, and this was sustained to a large extent by the continued strength of overseas remittances. Second, government spending grew by 13.1%, lifted no doubt by pre-election spending like road building, etc. A third component, surprisingly, was robust 9.1% growth in exports. In contrast, investment expenditures posted negligible growth, a mere 0.6%.

Then he asks, can that level of growth be maintained?

Asking if we can sustain a higher rate of growth is asking if each of these components of expenditure can continue at the same levels. Let’s take them one at a time. Can remittances from abroad continue at the same levels and higher? Well, our overseas partners and friends like Balfour Beatty and British Gas take the view that if the current rates of growth of major world economies continue at their present levels, there will be an increasing shortage of skilled human resources of all types all over the world. You hear of the nurses and caregivers, the domestics, the seamen, the musicians, the pilots and the professionals that we supply the rest of the world, currently running at an estimated eight and a half million strong. What you do not often hear about is that Philippine companies are continually being stripped of our best engineers; our environmental, safety and health specialists; our quality control people; our maintenance mechanics, our commercial contract specialists and many other such hard-to-find-and-train skills. We simply cannot compete with the sort of salaries and benefits they are being offered in such far-flung places like Dubai and Louisiana. Yes, Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina, Meralco lost many of its senior linemen and leadmen to the southern US utilities.

He goes on to suggest that if the world remains a peaceful place, things might be ok: but there remains a big challenge:

I believe that as long as there is no global recession, no great bubble bursting in China, or other such similar phenomena, then demand for Filipinos all over the world will continue and that their remittances to relatives remaining in the Philippines will also continue to prop up domestic consumer spending. But let me pose this question to you: can our economy afford to continue losing our skilled manpower over the longer term? Remember, we’re not educating and training them as quickly as we’re losing them. I will leave that question with you.

He also then goes on to say he doesn’t believe increased government spending is sustainable; exports can grow, but only if investors maintain their appetite for risk, which would fuel expansion; but that much more needs to be done in terms of actual investments and not merely attracting hot money. Read the whole thing.

The Inquirer editorial takes a look at the China-signed broadband deal and says it’s a steal. Palace trying to wiggle out of its own mess? Broadband network deal not yet final, says Palace.

The Lonely Vampire Chronicles presents two contrasting tales of bravura and machismo.

My Not So Secret Garden points to the inspiring story of Judge Lee of Cebu:

Judge Lee of Cebu rose to the occasion. He was in a ship that was sinking. He organized the distribution of the life jackets. When all available life jackets were distributed, there were still people in line. He took of his life jacket and gave it away. A few days later when search and rescue operation was underway, his body was found floating in the sea. What he did was heroic. He choose to rise to the occasion.

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69 comments

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  1. baycas

    Both websites dotcdotgovdotph and dotcmaindotgovdotph are inaccessible. The Communication Department is on a self-imposed incommunicado state?

    I also wonder why in the profile of the Communication Department’s secretary (over at the opdotgovdotph site where the Batangueño is pictured) the DOTC’s website points to oksnaoksdotdotcdotgovdotph.

    Oks na oks? Probably pertaining to the NBN deal?

  2. Bencard

    vic, you should realize that in combating crime, there are no silver bullets. deterrence or prospect of punishment, while useful, is not enough. many people commit crimes, or violate the law, without regard to the consequences.

    i’m not sure what “ready to obey the law” means. the law must be obeyed by everyone (ready or not) or else…
    obedience to law is a given in a civilized society. it is not a matter of choice. whether or not it is enforced is not relevant.

  3. ay_naku

    the law must be obeyed by everyone (ready or not) or else…

    What to do if the law enforcers (the executive branch) are wantonly breaking the laws themselves, or more precisely, acting as if they’re above the law? And they have the power, by means fair or foul, to block attempts to hold them accountable for their crimes. Yes the courts (particularly the SC) have severely rebuked them several times, but in many instances the damage has already been done, the sinister purpose already having been accomplished. What should be the “or else” part in such a scenario?

  4. rego

    If the law enforcers is indeed wantonly breaking the law. Then you just have to substanstiate your allegation file the necessary charges in court. Go after them.

    Your pointing out something here. Correct me if Im wrong but you seem to be referring to the declaration of Gloria that were challenged in the supreme court and and as you ve said was rebuked by the court. And yes that was just it. Everything that Gloria did can be challenge very well in a proper forum.

    About the damage you should clarify it further….

  5. rego

    And oh the perception that the law enforcers or other are breaking the law does not grant anybody the right to break the law.

  6. Jon Mariano

    And oh the perception that the law enforcers or other are breaking the law does not grant anybody the right to break the law – Rego

    But I thought if you break the law and do it successfully, you didn’t break the law? (remember Edsa 1 and 2?)

  7. rego

    wher the hell did you get that?

    I be;ive you break the law at your own peril. Now you may be able to avoid consequences once, twice, thrice, or for the time being. But you can not do that all the time.

    Even the laws that were broken in EDSA 1 and 2 has its own dire consequences that is starting to haunt us now or has been haunting us ever since….

  8. inodoro ni emilie

    “But I thought if you break the law and do it successfully, you didn’t break the law? (remember Edsa 1 and 2?)”

    😀 😀

  9. vic

    bencard,

    I realized that there will be criminals and there will be criminals, and some will do crimes under the noses of the authorities. Some are habitual, and some just have the propensity to commit crimes, just for the heck of it, and some in our case do, because the figure out they have a better life inside our jails than out.

    What I’m pointing out that I have observed, that so many of us immigrants, coming from all over the world, where we used to disregard on an on and off basis every law from traffic, to public peace, to alcohol and tobacco, and even loitering have suddenly become law abiding as soon as we experience the consequence for the first time, or even heard of what could have happened if charged for the offense in our new land. And bribing a public servant or police officer is even unheard of. And election code violations either by candidates or voters in every election as we have many, Federal, Provincial and municipals and they can be called anytime except for municipals that are fixed at four years, are far and between because the last time I heard the Judge sent a town major to jail for illegal election expense. And it just discourage others lest they too may go to jail instead of Mayor’s office.

    I also am aware that economic prosperity could bring about the attitudes, but there are many other places that are more prosperous than ours that has higher rate of wrongdoings and crimes.

    So, I can after these experience can categorically without any doubt state that Leadership has a lot to do about it. If you look at our leaders, from Federal, Provincial and even our Local Leaders, and our Police; there are not just any negative issues where we can have an excuse to say: follow the Leader… And tomorrow, July 1st, we will be Celebrating our 140th Birthday and I wish One and All a Happy Canada Day…

  10. Bencard

    vic, leadership has a lot to do with it, yes, but don’t discount personal responsibility. it’s easy to blame some one else but oneself. people in a democratic society, even pinoys in pinas, are not robots doing the bidding of their “leaders”. they should know what’s good for them wherever they are. they don’t have to go to canada to learn how to obey the law, and to live in a civilized, orderly society.

    and, btw, no one CAN violate the law simply because he thinks somebody in the government violates it. that is irresponsible, juvenile thinking.

  11. vic

    bencard,
    I was not talking only us pinoys, but just about every nationality, where the influence of the leadership and the process of which the law of the land is enforced has a lot to do with the changing of attitudes. and the attention the governemts pays wherever there is a particular problem regarding a particular group of nationals. and they are addressed.

    and believe me, if one can get away from profitting from violation of the law, even saints will turn into evils.

  12. Bencard

    not because one can get away, another is free to violate the law. one cannot be a copycat all the time.

  13. hvrds

    The theory of equilibrium finds its roots in the “invisible hand” idea of Adam Smith wherein for some equilibrium scientists individual economic self- interest is the absolute driving force.

    It is the individual self-interest of Bedol who transformed his political power into currency. What is good for Bedol is good for Maguindanao. That is the basic theory that drives the idea of free markets. Individual economic self intererst above all else.

    He delivered on his contract. The votes that appear to have been manufactured are now the law. They have been included into the legal count of the government institution tasked with canvassing votes. Any party in interest can challenge it later in the proper forum. It now has the force of law. It has become the legitimate vote count as the law says it is for now.

    When the social format allows for markets (individual economic self interest) to invade political institutions it is the effect of weak economic fundamentals in society. When the chief executive of the country calls a government functionary involved in elections and counting of the results to inquire if she will get a million vote lead over her opponent, it becomes the politics of command.

    Why invest hundreds in millions to get into elected office unless economic self-interest compels one to do so?

    Romulo Neri has always complained that vested interest have control of the regulatory agencies of government. So what is new?

    The role of government as an equalizer in society pre-supposes broad political support for government. The missing middle who need an equalizer between the them and the power of vested interests should realize that policies are not made by engaging in ideas but who has the means to get his message across.

    That means the voices for fairness and equal opportunites are muted. They are replaced by the economics of the “invisible hand.” With apologies to Smith but his ideas had certain parameters before the invisible hand was to benefit society as a whole. In the real world that idea goes berserk. Individual self-interest as an absolute ideal is fraught with dangerous consequences.

    Raised to a dogma it results in distorting and debasing what is known as the rule of law and that brings on tyranny.

  14. Shaman of Malilipot

    The real problem in our country is that Bencard’s “or else” is often an empty threat, especially when the crime or wrongdoing is committed by the rich and the powerful. As Vic has pointed out, the devil is in enforcement.

    But, still, it is our individual responsibility as citizens of a civilized society to obey the law, never mind if our leaders are not setting the example, or others are law-breakers, or even if anybody is watching..

    Rom, as Bencard has pointed out, making the courts irrelevant is the ideal situation and as we all know, ideals, in the real world, are impossible to attain. But it doesn’t and shouldn’t prevent us from approximating the ideal situation. It’s called progress.

  15. Mike

    I understand Bencard’s longing to address iniquities within the system of the law: after all, wasn’t it great that Eliot Ness put away Al Capone without compromising his integrity or of that of the law? What a hero!

    I also remember the words of St. Thomas More (at least in the movie): “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide … the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down … do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

    Having said that, I do not think many people (perhaps including Bencard) would entrust their fate to the law as implemented here, nor should they. Even if you granted the integrity and independence of judges (a dubious proposition to begin with, as any local lawyer will tell you), the glacial pace at which court cases are resolved can thwart even the most Solomonic decision. Just look at the many electoral cases that result in the winnner serving practically no time in office.

    Do you disagree, Bencard? Do you trust the Philippine justice system as much as you do that of the US, where you now practice? If not, what should be done about it? Where does one start fixing it?

  16. camry

    Mike,

    I suggest that advocacy or citizen watch groups (NGO)will work hard to expose ill doings of government workers in the justice department. In this way, the sector who is supposed to interpret/dispense justice might do it in the right way. In turn, publish the identities of good performing judges. If the media will help in this endeavor, we might have a better justice system.

    I am afraid of what will happen to our justice system, 10 – 15 years from now if no improvement will be implemented.

    Of course nobody wants to see Saints turning into Evils as vic mentioned above.

  17. vic

    thanks camry, you made my Canada Day, now after getting a little woozy from celebrating, I go myself to bed and dream that Saints will be forever keeping their wings and hallos instead of growing horns (wherever) and that we all will see that day sooner than later…

  18. Bruce in Iloilo

    I don’t understand why they don’t just re-count the ballots. Why worry about what the COCs say? Go directly to the source. Go directly to the ballots. The ballots should be the only papers that count. That is all the law should be concerned with. Every other piece of paper should be secondary with no standing without the ballots to back them up.

  19. cvj

    Umberto (at June 28th, 2007, 11:07 pm), no such ill-wishes, we’re all on the same boat. We just want to be reality-based. Even our two previous NEDA Director-Generals (Cielito Habito and Felipe Medalla) have expressed their concerns on the GDP statistics.

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