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Jul 10

Prisoner’s dilemma in the Senate

The top stories: Migz beats Koko in Bogo by 8,222, to lift lead by 9,784, with reference made to the votes from Pagalungann. PCIJ’s Why You Should Doubt the Maguindanao Election Results, 3 points out the following:

…returns from 36 of 55 precincts in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao all the more cast doubt on the credibility of election results as reflected in the provincial certificate of canvass (CoC) heralding an incredible 12-0 sweep of the senatorial contest in favor of administration candidates.

The Pagalungan ERs, mysteriously set aside and left uncanvassed until only last Friday, show that all 37 senatorial bets did garner votes, contrary to the results in the provincial CoC submitted by provincial supervisor Lintang Bedol where 18 candidates received “statistically improbable” zero votes.

As far as voting pattern went, the Pagalungan voting results also more closely reflect the real outcome of elections in the five other provinces of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, with Team Unity’s Jamalul Kiram topping the field with 2,732 votes. Kiram also led the senatorial race in Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi while placing a strong second in Basilan and Shariff Kabunsuan.

Update: Zubiri to be proclaimed tomorrow, making oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Friday apparently irrelevant.

On a related note, read the CBCP Pastoral Statement on the 2007 National Elections. Then read JB Baylon‘s explanation of why the bishops are close -but get no cigar:

Three years ago I would have been filled with goose pimples if I had heard that the bishops of the Catholic church in the Philippines had come out strongly for what is right and what is moral, rejecting all types of rationalization including the “everyone does it anyway” line. But three years later, watching another national embarrassment of an election unfold, and hearing the bishops describe Comelec officials as “irresponsible”, I am only hardened in my conclusion that the only way we can sweep this country clean of “irresponsible” leaders and the many honest officials who make so many “honest” mistakes is by relying solely on ourselves to do it, maybe one election at one city or municipality or province at a time.

4 Isafp agents, 2 Army officers probed on Burgos abduction. In the meantime, CBCP urges gov’t to review security law but Arroyo says no stopping anti-terror law. Which leads to this: Public consultation but without the public.

Latest House intramural wrinkle: Arroyo son, brother-in-law deny backing Garcia for Speaker. Latest in the Senate infighting: Roxas-Villar feud worsens, there’s this: Mar: Kiko is now with administration.

After BIR, BOC revamp follows.

Confusion? ZTE officials shun media interviews even as Ermita: ZTE contract not yet final.

Good news of the day: ON Semiconductor Expands Manufacturing Facility in the Philippines. A cautionary note: Koreans welcome but not as traders.

Overseas, Filipinos will find much that is familiar in this Indonesian op-ed piece: Overcoming low salaries to reform the bureaucracy. Concerning the political effects of proposing constitutional amendments, Jiro Yamaguchi says Japanese Premier Abe should be thanked for the public’s waning enthusiasm for such amendments. In the USA, Republican revolt prompts Bush to rethink surge. Also, The Crypt says July promises plenty of conflict between the White House and congressional Democrats. In How a Smile Sunk the Conservatives, an analysis of how Gordon Brown is proving a more formidable foe than the Tories expected; there’s also this great passage:

All of which is another way of saying that Brown, Blair’s easily ignored shadow for the past decade, may be with us for some time, while the Conservative Party – the oldest democratic political party in the world – may not. They have life cycles, political parties, just like the human beings who create them. They are born, they mature, they gain wisdom. Then, sometimes, they die – and not just in Britain.

Columnist Tony Lopez thinks Lucio Tan should sell off the Philippine National Bank.

Writing in BusinessWorld, Filomeno Sta. Ana III compares the fight for the Senate Presidency to The Prisoner’s Dilemma:

The fight is not really between Senator Villar, one who has a good opportunity to become the next President, and Senator Pimentel, one who is no longer interested in higher office but in preserving his good reputation for posterity. Senator Villar and Senator Pimentel are very good friends.

To repeat, the fight involves those who covet the presidency in 2010. But in this fight, their main enemy, GMA, gains. They also get clobbered by the criticisms of those who voted for them. This creates space for dark horses like Senator Alan Peter Cayetano to emerge as the credible and trusted leader of the opposition. In short, the in-fighting is damaging to their individual interests.

In the prisoner’s dilemma game, the police separately interrogate two prisoners accused of committing the same crime. The interrogating officers give each prisoner a choice: betray your accomplice or remain silent. If neither prisoner squeals, both of them go to jail for one year. If one betrays his accomplice but his accomplice remains silent, the betrayer goes free and the accomplice who remains silent gets a sentence of 15 years in jail. If both betray each other, they get a sentence of 10 years.

Suppose you are one of the two prisoners and you think that your accomplice will remain silent, the temptation for you to fink is great, because it means your freedom. If you remain silent, both you and your fellow prisoner stay in jail for one year. In other words, in this setting, the rational response is for you to betray the other.

Take the other possibility – that your accomplice will betray you. If you remain silent, you alone go to jail for 15 years! But if you likewise betray your accomplice, you get a lighter sentence of 10 years. So again, seemingly, the best response is betraying your accomplice.

But since both prisoners choose the response of betraying each other, thinking this is the strategy that maximizes self-interest, both will end up in jail for 10 years. If both had only cooperated with each other by remaining silent, they could have spent only a year in jail.

I hope the contending senators will grasp the lessons from the prisoner’s dilemma.

A letter to the editor titled Senators as ingrates has people talking; though Bloggers have already weighed in on the subject: The Purple Phoenix Talks about Philippine Politics compares the problem to a MacGuffin:

A MacGuffin is a plot device that advances the storyline or motivates the characters but has little relevance to the story. The Oscar-ignored but still legendary Alfred Hitchcock popularized and made it as an art form. The ugly bird statue in The Maltese Falcon is the best example of a MacGuffin.

Today, there is a huge MacGuffin hovering in the Philippine political landscape. It is the 2010 presidential elections. But this is a much-improved MacGuffin. Unlike Hitchcock’s, the 2010 MacGuffin has huge relevance to the story. Plus the motivation it provides for the lead personalities would shame the acting exploits of Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

Story: The 15th President of the Philippines
MacGuffin: 2010 Presidential Elections
Red Herring: The Senate Presidency and the so-called Opposition Split
Lead Characters
1. Manuel Villar
2. Manuel Roxas
3. Panfilo Lacson

Supporting Characters
1. Loren Legarda
2. Francis Escudero
3. Alan Peter Cayetano

The two Manuels is sure to run in the next big fight. Lacson will take another stab. Legarda is the a senate topnotcher twice and is touted to be a strong presidentiable. Escudero is the dark horse. He finished a close and strong second and has the strong political backing. The main criticism is his youth and lack of national experience. As they say, he has so much time in the world.

The battle for the senate leadership is a red herring but with huge consequences. I believe that this is a staged act. Roxas, Lacson, and Legarda are pushing for Nene Pimentel’s candidacy. But it is so obvious that they are doing so to remove a huge 2010 obstacle which is Manuel Villar. It seems that he will have a huge advantage over his future rivals if he retains his current position. As Roxas articulated, ‘this is to level the playing field in 2010.’ Such hypocrisy! After winning in 2004, this guy faded into obscurity then tried to resurrect his dismal performance with a so-called public service ad in the last elections. Oh. He raised a howl on his pet bill.

She believes Francis Escudero is getting a raw deal (besides her entry, above, see her comment in this blog). Other bloggers disagree. Placeholder says this is another manifestation of what he calls a crisis in representation; Tingog.com gives Manuel Villar Jr. a new political nickname; Philippine Politics 04 wonders if people will forgive and forget;

Philippine Commentary says the Philippine government’s definition of terrorism is borrowed almost word-for-word, from the United Nation’s. blog@AWBHoldings.com comments on Mayor Lim and his rally regulations.

An OFW Living in Hong Kong on Ponzi schemes and pyramid scams, which have been in the news lately. Not least because the MoneySmarts blog triggered action on the part of the Central Bank (the comments are quite eye-opening): see the blogger’s last word on the subject in her latest entry, What’s wrong with Ponzi schemes?

Legal Monkey has an interesting entry on Ifugao Law. Ronnel Lim with the curious tale of a man who molested a chicken. Wish You Were Here has photos of the opening up of Avenida Rizal to traffic. My Inquirer Current entry is on the Latin Mass.

In the blogosphere, Che-Che Lazaro has a blog.

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108 comments

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  1. Jeg

    We mustnt forget which side we are on, though. We are on the side of the angels, and must fight as if we are.

  2. Bencard

    jeg, history shows that bad guys win battles, good guys win wars and get to write the account. you’re right, we’re on the side of the angels. the devils may score isolated victories here and there temporarily but the angels will ultimately win the whole contest.

  3. Devilsadvc8

    perhaps what we need is behavior-altering brain operation for the general population. either that or we need a real messiah to lead us – a benevolent dictator who is tough but fair, wise, but will not succumb to pride, greed and vainglory – bencard

    wow. its rare you say something i agree with. but this is one of it.

    One cannot become a dictator without the means and the meaness to employ those means. On the other hand, one can become an effective leader without having to sacrifice any of the rights and freedoms valued by free, democratic and civilized societies – manuelbencam

    yes, a very charismatic and intelligent leader would be able to command w/o resorting to force, but when confronted with a nation such as ours, where the citizens are as much a problem as the problems itself, how can you govern effectively, without losing yourself to urges and temptations of being a dictator yourself?

  4. UP n student

    Side-note (back to plunder):

    BEIJING, July 12 — Zheng Xiaoyu once ranked as one of the most powerful regulators in China. He rose from modest beginnings to help create and lead Beijing’s version of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

    But last March, locked up in the Qincheng Prison here, he wrote a short confession. “Why are the friends who gave me money all the bosses of pharmaceutical companies?” he wrote in his letter, entitled How I Look on My Mistakes. “Obviously because I was in charge of drug administration.”

    In his confession, Mr. Zheng acknowledged that during his eight-year tenure, he had accepted gifts and bribes from eight drug companies that sought special favors: a car, a villa, furniture, cash. And corporate stock. All told, he and his family accepted gifts valued at more than $850,000 — in a country where the average worker earns less than $2,000 a year.

    For his crimes, the 62-year-old was executed on Tuesday, making him one of the highest-ranking Chinese officials ever to be put to death

  5. Bencard

    devil, benevolent dictatorship is not of our world where the idea is of absolute impossibility. no human leader, no matter how just, wise and humble can ever maintain a hold on power without employing means and methods to overcome those who covet his/her seat. there will always be some one or some group that would want to have their “turn at the through” by any means, good or evil.

    marcos was, so far, our only dictator but he could not ever have been “benevolent”. regardless of his natural character, he had to manipulate our legal and political systems to hold his enemies at bay. he had to amass great fortunes, from government funds of which he had absolute control, to keep his boot-licking sycophants and the military satisfied, always ready to do his bidding. he had to be ruthless against those who opposed him or who try to take the power away from him.

    i think one reason why there is virulent hatred of gma is the fear that she might perpetuate herself in power through charter change to a parliamentary system. many of her rivals hated her for running in 2004 evidently because that would give her 3 additional years on top of the 6-year constitutional tenure. what more if she continues in power as prime minister? another reason is that every time, she tries to exercise political will and pursue an unpopular but necessary course of action, she creates more enemies. every action generates a reaction – if she appears to favor one group, another one or more groups go on a warpath and so on and so forth. no one seems to be willing to make a personal sacrifice for the greater good.

    the problem of leadership will always be with us no matter who is the president. no one, but no one can please every one else. there will always be a loser, even as the majority of the people is the winner. and the loser will always undermine the victor, and will not stop until he becomes the winner himself.

  6. realist

    bencard, you have once again succeeded in talking about many things without actually saying anything.

  7. Bencard

    that was not meant for you, realist. i couldn’t make it shallow enough for what is supposed to be your brain to absorb. go seek your own level!

  8. realist

    Duh…

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