Was in Cebu City from Thursday to Saturday, hence no updates, and have been feeling under the weather since.
There really isn’t much to add to what Ricky Carandang and the Inquirer editorial pointed out, as far as Koko Pimentel’s appearance before the Supreme Court was concerned. Never has a public figure blown himself up so dramatically -and stupidly- and thoroughly:
Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Koko Pimentel had the advantage, and threw it away. There is a saying among lawyers that a person who represents himself in a case is a person who has hired a fool for a lawyer.
As Planet Naga put it, he overreached.
An earlier Inquirer editorial had pointed out Zubiri was able to shift attention away from the real issues (Patsada Karajaw reminds us what those are); silly P.R. tricks by the Koko camp (though A Simple Life raises some good points) only strengthens Zubiri. But the issue will keep coming back to haunt Zubiri, as the tart remarks of Antonio Trillanes IV shows (for his constituency -and let’s make it clear that he has a clear one, which has conferred a clear national mandate, while Zubiri, for the next day or two at least, remains a former congressman- gives him clout some may hate, but which will be increasingly difficult to ignore: as The Warrior Lawyer points out, his greatest value lies in being a thorn in the administration’s side). The appearance of the incredible Bedol at the Comelec only serves to underscore how discredited the whole process has become.
Overheard, last night, while having dinner: “Bedol was arrested after going through cataract surgery. Cataracts! And he had a license to carry a gun? A gun! And he had cataracts!” True.
Incidentally, ran into Tourism Secretary Ace Durano on the flight to Cebu: he says he’s focusing on (I believe it’s Northern) Russia as a place from which to attract tourists; he says that part of Russia is doing very, very well because of their mineral wealth; a friend recently arrived from Saipan says Russians have replaced the Japanese as the tourists to attract, they spend spectacularly, apparently.
Ricky Carandang also took a look at the appointment of Gilbert Teodoro, nephew of Danding Cojuangco, as the next Secretary of National Defense (after Bert Gonzales does whatever it is he expects to do, particularly when the the “Human Security Act” goes into effect very soon). Cojuangco has been cultivating the military assiduously and effectively since the Marcos years, and Teodoro is no slouch in that department, playing golf regularly with officers, so of course they’re all praises for Teodoro. Personally, it’s good to see a civilian back in charge of the department, though of course speculation is rampant as to what the appointment signifies, politically. Word is, even the Vice-President’s camp is viewing him as a potential rival for the President’s endorsement in 2010. Meanwhile, Any changes in Cabinet to be minimal, says Ermita, although ‘Tired officials want out of Cabinet posts’.
The battle for the House speakership continues: De Venecia, Garcia battle for top House post rages; and trial balloons begin to be floated in earnest: Solon pushes referendum for Cha-cha and Pimentel to push Cha-cha in Senate.
My column yesterday was No problem, which I think reflects the happiness I feel whenever I visit Cebu City. One of the things I found remarkable in Cebu was the public’s decision not to subdivide their province (gerrymandering has become particularly flagrant in Mindanao). News like Bid to divide Quezon seen to split officials underscores the need to look at whether atomization, instead of consolidation, remains a wise option (if it ever was), or as the NEDA boss puts it, NEDA Chief: We need to capacitate the provinces.
It will be interesting to see what urban planning-oriented bloggers will have to say about this: QC Mayor Belmonte blames NHA for ‘blocking’ progress.
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ points to a development in legal doctrines concerning amnesties; and says the time has come to reverse one of them:
Over the years, however, there has developed a doctrine which has made amnesty unattractive to potential beneficiaries. It is the judicially created doctrine that in order to avail himself of the benefits of amnesty, a person must admit guilt. How did this doctrine come about and can it be changed without constitutional amendment?
The earlier doctrine on the subject was that a plea of guilty was not needed for availing of amnesty…
Later, however, a dissenting opinion argued thus: “…amnesty presupposes the commission of a crime and that when an accused says he has not committed a crime he cannot have any use for amnesty; that where an amnesty proclamation imposes certain conditions… it is incumbent upon the accused to prove the existence of such conditions; that a petition for amnesty is in the nature of a plea of confession and avoidance, under which principle the pleader has to confess the allegations against him before he can be allowed to set out matters which, if true, would defeat the action.”
This dissenting opinion became doctrine in 1963.
I believe that this doctrine should be changed especially now in the context of fabricated charges of rebellion or sedition. When a person signifies his intention to avail of amnesty, he should be seen as welcoming either relief from punishment for guilt, if truly guilty, or, if innocent, relief from the trouble of having to prove innocence.
Marit Stinus-Remonde says it’s the CPP-NPA that has enforced a virtual martial law in parts of the country.
Now there’s this: Fiscal situation ‘very serious’–Teves. Something to bear in mind while Boo Chanco and David Llorito (I tend to agree with Llorito) have interesting things to say: Chanco on why economic growth seems unreal to some (see [email protected] Holdings for a real-life observation):
I must confess I got lost midway through his charts and formulas but two conclusions stuck out: it is wrong to claim a 17-year all time high and whatever growth there is, cannot be consumer-led.
So, what’s the score? Did we or didn’t we grow by 6.9 percent? The professor reviewed the statistics, crunched his numbers and concluded that yes, we indeed grew but not as spectacularly as Malacañang would like us to believe. There were apparently some changes made in how measurements were made, notably in how they tried to account for the underground economy that made statistics from 2001 onwards not comparable with those before 2001.
How to explain this situation in layman’s terms? The professor told us to think in terms of a driver who is happy that his car is running along quite well on what the speedometer says is 120 kilometers per hour. What he doesn’t realize however, is that the speedometer is faulty and the real speed is only 80 kilometers per hour.
…Those of us with a minimum understanding of economics also know in addition that low interest rates, low inflation and the strong peso are classic indicators of a slow economy. Philip’s number crunching confirmed the guard’s suspicions.
A slower economy however, is not necessarily a bad situation. The slower speed may even be why we are experiencing relative stability. But it takes away the bragging rights of the administration about this being the highest growth in 17 years. Neither can it be claimed that the growth rate is also higher than under any administration since Marcos. If they really want to compare, adjustments would have to be made on data before 2001. They can deduct two percent from the 6.9 percent or add two percent to the growth during the Ramos years.
But if there was growth nevertheless, what was responsible for it? The statistics seem to indicate, the professor points out, that a sharp decline in import growth explains 700 percent of the increase in the GDP.
That raises the question of how can our economy be so bullish if imports are on a sharp decline? A bullish economy is characterized by strong consumer demand and manufacturers would respond to that strong demand by importing more raw material as well as capital goods. Could it be, as the numbers seem to suggest, that domestic consumption is becoming less and less import dependent?
…And so the professor dismisses the consumer-led growth theory because this is not supported by the statistics on purchasing power. The statistics, the professor points out, “seem to fall on the side of lower consumption growth story: low inflation (hard to jack prices if demand is not growing very fast), low growth in bank lending (negative if adjusted for inflation) and low growth in demand for electricity.” In fact, low demand resulted in seemingly higher growth only because of lower imports.
…But the accuracy of the GDP figures aside, there is good news too. Local corporations are now healthier than before, Prof. Medalla reports. The SPAV law has helped them clean up their books, making them ready to embark on new ventures that take advantage of Tuesday’s positive business climate. As for the stock market, the professor observed that it had always been powered by expectations of growth rather than fulfillment. Expectations, he said, are always iffy… as in we can always hope and pray for its fulfillment.
If you want to get an idea of the economy’s direction, he advised looking at the real estate and banking sectors. They won’t be building all those office and residential condos if there is no demand from call centers and well off Pinoy expats willing to invest on second homes here. And check the banks if they are granting more loans, specially loans to businesses to expand capacity.
One last thing… the slower economy should also be good for us because we won’t have that power shortage sooner… we get a reprieve. The slower growth rate buys us time to get a good power program in place so that the next boom wouldn’t be cut short by lack of power. It takes three to five years to plan, get financing and operate a new power plant. Hopefully, we have learned our lesson that we ought to plan ahead.
Llorito on how economic growth has kept political action within certain parameters:
There are indications that most of those uprisings in the past were supported by the business elite. They are concentrated in the banking, real estate, export, and trading. Most of these sectors now are raking in money from overseas remittances, outsourcing, and recovering exports. It means they now have a stake in the stability of the system.
They are not apathetic – far from it. In fact, there’s a growing movement for a clean and honest elections. They just want to make sure that the political process should no longer take short cuts like the Edsa Dos and Tres that eventually hurt the overall prospects of the Philippine economy.
Certainly, globalization poses risks and challenges, but so far it has become a stabilizing force in Philippine politics. If the government could guarantee a credible election in May, the Philippines may yet achieve a higher growth trajectory (6-7 percent) in the next three years. That’s the only way the government could make serious headway in the fight against joblessness and poverty.
The Magnificent Atty. Perez points out, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Father of Time on how Tagalogs make the lives of non-Tagalogs difficult. from the boondocks quotes the thoughts of the ex-governor of Ifugao, on “blood politics,” which has to do with race: something Norman Analista tackles, too. Sekularista wants religious teaching eliminated from public schools (why is it even being taught in the public schools in the first place?)
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