The weekend saw a lot of speculation concerning the President’s decision to move Neda Director-General Romulo Neri to the Commission on Higher Education, a decision that apparently took Neri himself by surprise. Most of the speculation involved the motives: was it to get Neri out of the way, because he opposed the ZTE broadband deal? Was it part of a purge of Speaker Jose de Venecia’s people in the Palace? The implications of other presidential appointments, too, has been the grist of the political rumor mill: reports like Overhaul in gov’t continues help identify the president’s priorities, and incidentally, feeds discussion on why certain positions are quickly filled (by the usual suspects) and others left vacant.
The Neri transfer has created its own problems, though: So who’s the real education czar?
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus Sunday said there was a need to clarify an executive order designating a presidential assistant as coordinator of the
Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The executive order was seen in some sectors as tantamount to appointing a de facto education czar.
“There is already an existing presidential assistant for education. And I don’t think you can call a presidential assistant a czar,” Lapus said in a phone interview.
He said he was not consulted about the executive order.
Some however, view the Neri move as a good one, including The Business Mirror editorial:
Finally, officials have seen the irony of the OFWs’ situation: as recently pointed out in a front-page story in this paper, the more dollars they remit home, the bigger the gap that has to be filled in their families’ usual budget – given that with the peso appreciating in the flood of dollars, their dollar earnings here fetch an increasingly lower peso equivalent.
A couple of OFW dependents interviewed for that Associated Press story said that in a matter of a few months, the difference in the peso equivalent of the dollars sent home by their OFW loved ones had reached P3,000 to P5,000. To make up for that decline, some OFWs have thus had to remit more, thus perpetuating the cycle.
We’re talking here of about eight million overseas Filipinos whose aggregate remittances as of April were up 26.08 percent to $4.681 billion.
This editorial reminds me of a rather depressing conversation over the weekend.
It involved an observation someone made, which goes like this. It can’t be denied that for big business, business is pretty damned good. And for some other businesses, involving small and medium scale entrepreneurs, etc., it’s pretty good, too. And the export of our fellow citizens overseas makes our economy pretty much foolproof, regardless of who is in charge of our government.
But, the person making the observation said, think of it. You’re an OFW. You earn a salary, and you remit a big chunk of it home. You send it through a bank owned by big business, which takes a cut. Your family at home takes the money you sent (minus the bank’s cut), and spends it on the following: down payment or rent in a development put up by big business; education, in a school owned by big business; utilities owned by big business; clothing, gadgets, furniture, food, etc. sold in malls owned by big business; whatever is left, you either stick in a pension or some other plan sold to your family by big business, or deposited in the same bank owned by big business…
The point being, the person making the observation said, that the money you make primarily circulates within the subsidiaries of the established big businesses: whatever escapes from that system is, when you think of it, peanuts.
Angat Dam reduces Metro water supply. Government’s embarked on cloud-seeding operations, but Cloud-seeding fails to raise dam levels. there’s a lot of speculation, too, on government moves concerning power generation. This is because it’s big, big business. Everything related to the energy sector can be big, and controversial news. See Emergency deliveries of coal, fuel oil to keep plants running for example.
Tony Lopez discusses what’s involved in bidding for a power generation facility -and why power generation’s attractive to companies like San Miguel. See Asian Energy Advisors, maintained by Mamutong, for how foreign consultants view the energy sector’s opportunities, too. Now what I want to know is why we don’t have more of these: see Vista Pinas for a picture of Southeast Asia’s largest solar power plant, right here in the Philippines!
There are so many stories emerging -the controversy surrounding Meralco’s raising electric rates, arguments over whether there’s a real, or simulated, power shortage, what sort of deals are being made and who will profit from them- that it’s dizzying. Hopefully some bloggers familiar with the various issues will start posting and dissecting things.
Elsewhere on the economic front, Stock market bull run over - Deutsche Bank (not, the bank says, the government’s doing; bright spot today was GMA-7 stocks shine in trading debut, even as RP bourse falls). You may have noticed the Marcoses are aggressively pursuing ownership of shares and properties in the courts: US papers show Tan was Marcos’ partner.
Trying to expand his options, Villar says More choices for Blue Ribbon head. Playing for time, too: Resolving Senate impasse may take 3 weeks, says Villar.
Overseas, Bangkok is “transfixed” by rumors concerning the Crown Prince’s health: see Rumor Nation. In Japan, Abe Vows to Stay After Losing Japan’s Upper House (his party lost in the upper house; what’s interesting is how an upper house election is understood in Japan as in the nature of a referendum on the sitting administration). In Rorschach and Awe, Katherine Eban looks at how CIA psychologists reverse-engineered training they developed, to help US soldiers resist Communist-style interrogation techniques, and developed today’s “coercive interrogation methods”.
My column for today is Communal political vocabulary wanted.
Amando Doronila and Jarius Bondoc both tackle the ongoing reorganization of the Senate, and the problems it poses for Senate President Villar. Much will hinge, apparently, on who becomes Chairman of the powerful Blue Ribbon committee. The administration wants Joker Arroyo to keep it; some of Villar’s allies in the opposition are threatening to dump him if he gives in. In the House, Efren Danao tackles the so-called “independent” bloc formed by Rep. Garcia.
Quite a thought-provoking column by Conrado de Quiros today.
Also, Rasheed Abou-Alsamh on what TV shows tell us about a certain society.
Torn and Frayed points out the remarkable capacity of Filipinos to remember names and faces, and he tries to explain why this may be so.
Placeholder undertakes a thorough, and valuable, discussion on the automation of elections. He points to a report by Halal Marangal on the May 2007 elections, and its recommendations for a rational automation of elections.
blog@AWBHoldings.com also gives an enlightening summary of the circumstances that have led the Supreme Court to instruct the armed forces to produce Burgos (a deadline the military didn’t meet). In her blog, Notes of Marichu Lambino, she says what’s left is for those concerned to petition for a whole bunch of subpoenas:
General Bacarro and their other representatives are most likely already in transit to the Court of Appeals. They are expected to deny custody of Jonas Burgos.
Don’t let them get away with it. Subpoena, or move for the issuance of a subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum for Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino and his intel report; he said that they did a background check on agriculturist Jonas Burgos and claimed he was a member of the New People’s Army “Front Committee 2 based in Bulacan”, and that he has the intel report to show for it (subpoena duces tecum for the intel report).
Parties to an action are entitled to the issuance of processes that would produce the evidence for their case; and if the Court of Appeals denies the Motion for issuance of subpoenas, then the Supreme Court should be able to order the Court of Appeals. This is an evidentiary hearing, or would today turn into an evidentiary hearing, because the Supreme Court had anticipated that the respondents would deny custody; and that was why they had ordered the parties to bring the person of Jonas Burgos to the Court of Appeals.
If those subpoenaed allege that matters of “national security” prevent them from testifying and from producing the documents, they can be given an executive session with the justices and the parties and no one else attending, and the records could be asked to be sealed if the Court thinks that these involve the sensitive matters (like names of agents, etc.). But if they refuse altogether to testify and to bring those reports, the petitioners could move to cite them in contempt. And if in contempt, have them detained. Until they comply with the order to testify and produce the report. I know; if you push this to the legal limits, if the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court use the extent of all the authority that they have, we might have an Armed Forces refusing to obey the writs of the Court. At some point, if the Supreme Court pushed this to the extent of all its authority, you’d have a stand-off. I know. But what else are we to do? Where else would the Burgoses run to?
In his blog, Village Idiot Savant discusses the origin of the “trisikad” used in Davao.
And just for rather odd fun: the Hitler Safety Dance.