The public mood: Gov’t poor vs inflation, graft but good in foreign relations.
… lot of people talking at cross-purposes, about all sorts of things.
Take the Palace camp: Favila: There’s no contract with China yet but on the other hand, Mendoza: I have full authority on $329M broadband contract. What’s going on? Who knows? Not 1 but 5 contracts lost in China but apparently, that’s not an obstacle to anything. Incidentally, one of the related deals, the DepEd’s CyberEducation project, is explained by Willy Prilles (who finds it disturbing), and its pros and cons delved into in another entry in his blog, A Nagueno in the Blogosphere.
You would think that this is a situation screaming for an investigation by the Blue Ribbon committee. And it is, although Senator Allan Peter Cayetano seems unusually cautious this early on: Cayetano: No public trust in blue ribbon committee. He seems to be saying, this is an altogether different league. and it is.
Still, there’s still time for the usual cat-and-mouse: Iggy: Who’s afraid of Alan Peter at Blue Ribbon? and Iggy dares Peter: Make my day (Ignacito knows he can insist on interparliamentary courtesy, your honor!), while Cayetano has higher priorities now than Garci, Pidal probes.
Meanwhile, Senate minority bloc livid (and for effect, Gordon did a little grousing, too: Gordon: Villar takes cue from Arroyo, Estrada). No wonder 28 bills pushed by Palace at LEDAC meeting. The Inquirer editorial today takes a look at the goings-on in the Senate, and argues that the administration’s scored a major victory in terms of committee chairmanships. Along the way, it quotes a passage from Woodrow Wilson. I’ve long been a great believer in Wilson’s arguments and it bears further quotation here, since I strenuously oppose the argument that the chief function of Congress is to pass laws. As Wilson explained it,
An effective representative body, gifted with the power to rule, ought, it would seem not only to speak the will of the nation, which Congress does, but also to lead it to its conclusions, to utter the voice of its opinions, and to serve as its eyes in superintending all matters of government, – which Congress does not do. the discussions which take place in Congress are aimed at random. They now and again strike rather sharply the tender spots in this, that, or the other measure; but, as I have said, no two measures consciously join in purpose or agree in character, and so debate must wander as widely as the subjects of debate. Since there is little coherency about the legislation agreed upon, there can be little coherency about the debates. There is no one policy to be attacked or defended, but only a score or two of separate bills. To attend to such discussions is uninteresting; to be instructed by them is impossible. There is some scandal and discomfort, but infinite advantage, in having every affair of administration subjected to the test of constant examination on the part of the assembly which represents the nation. The chief use of such inquisition is, not the direction of those affairs in a way with which the country will be satisfied (though that itself is of course all-important), but the enlightenment of the people, which is always its sure consequence. Very few men are unequal to a danger which they see and understand; all men quail before a threatening which is dark and unintelligible, and suspect what is done behind the screen. If the people could have, through Congress, daily knowledge of all the more important transactions of the governmental offices, an insight into all that now so often shaken, would, I think, be very soon established. Because dishonesty can lurk under the privacies now vouchsafed our administrative agents, much that is upright and pure suffers unjust suspicion. Discoveries of guilt in a bureau cloud with doubts the trustworthiness of a department. As nothing is open enough for the quick and easy detection of peculation or fraud, so nothing is open enough for the due vindication and acknowledgment of honesty. The isolation and privacy which shield the one from discovery cheat the other of reward.
While the Palace defends P12-pay hike, its statement involves pretty much the rhetorical defense in response to the predictable condemnation of such moves by the usual suspects. The Business Mirror editorial, however, asks if this “annual exercise in class struggle” really does anyone any good:
One of the larger considerations here is the comparative wage rates in Asia. At the current wage levels, minimum pay in Metro Manila is close to $8 a day, against Thailand’s $6.35, Beijing’s $3.43, Indonesia’s $3.25 and Vietnam’s $1.27.
What these figures suggest is that an unwarranted increase in local wages would simply turn off investors some more. This consideration is important because, in reality, at the root of this incapacity of many firms to pay higher wages is the small size of the Philippine economy itself.
Despite the significant growth rates we have achieved in the last few years, the Philippine economy and its capacity to create jobs has been generally weak. More so because the new creators of jobs, specifically outsourcing, are in the services sector that needs highly skilled graduates who are normally paid rates higher than the minimum-wage rates.
It’s obvious that minimum-wage workers are probably concentrated in the industry sector, which, by some indications, are fast shedding jobs already – owing to a lot of factors, including poor infrastructure, a strong peso, strong competition from China and Vietnam, and rapid technological change.
To survive, many companies have relocated to China while others are restructuring their cost structures to stay afloat. You put a drastic wage increase in their equations and it’s likely that they are just going to fold up or simply adopt more labor-saving devices.
This is not to deny the need for decent wages in the Philippines. In fact, we need them here. But the reality is that the performance of companies and industry sectors are uneven.
Certainly, firms in electronics, mining, outsourcing, banking, and wholesale and retail are probably doing good. But other firms, especially small and medium enterprises in the manufacture and export of furniture and fixtures, as well as food, are probably ailing owing to the strong peso and other factors.
It means that while other firms could absorb the wage rates, others are not likely to do so, and go under. The ideal policy approach, therefore, is an arrangement that would consider these different business conditions.
William Pesek of Bloomberg reports on a meeting of Apec finance ministers:
Yet, if this year’s finance ministers’ meeting highlighted anything, it’s that as much as Asia-Pacific nations say they’re cooperating, they’re standing very much alone.
It illuminated how the US still blames Asia for saving too much and holding down currencies. Asians blame the US for saving too little and relying too much on Asia’s money. Japan criticizes China for an undervalued currency, while South Korea is stepping up criticism of Japan for the same reason. China is perturbed that it’s being criticized at all.
He then goes on to set the scene: finance ministers are nervous, and a Filipino official explains why:
Apec’s gathering unfolded amid increasing volatility in global markets. One heard more consternation over who’s to blame for imbalances than how to fix things. And Henry Paulson’s decision to blow off the event was a bigger problem than the US Treasury secretary may realize.
“A lot of this market volatility is about subprime-mortgage-market contagion from the US,” Diwa Guinigundo, deputy governor of the Philippine central bank, told me in Coolum.
Pesek thinks American officials are in a state of denial, and that problems in the US economy are in the process of spreading to Asia:
Australia is on the front lines of how problems in the US are spreading to Asia. On August 2, shares in Macquarie Bank Ltd. fell the most in five years after Australia’s largest securities firm said investors in some of its funds may lose as much as 25 percent of their money. Taiwan Life Insurance Co. stock had its worst week in over three years amid hedge-fund losses.
It’s one thing for Bear Stearns Co.’s hedge funds to get slammed by the subprime mess; it’s another for casualties to begin piling up a world away. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index plunged 3.9 percent in the five days ended July 27, the worst weekly drop since July 2006.
“The correction is coming about because of weakness in the US,” said Australian Treasurer Peter Costello. “It illustrates how interconnected the world is.”
It’s a breathtaking role reversal. Just as Asia downplayed the odds of its 1997 contagion oozing around the globe, the US claims its problems are containable. While that’s possible, the concerns of investors like Jeremy Grantham, chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., and Jim Rogers, chairman of Beeland Interests Inc., are worth noting.
My show last night focused on an article by Filomeno Sta. Ana III, which bears looking into in light of the above (see also my Arab News column for this week, Can the 1997 Crisis Happen Again?).
In Mindanao, Basilan contingent encounters fire fight. Of course, Philippine Commentary calls the ongoing offensive a sham. Also, the incredible Bedol gets an incredible slap on the wrist: Solons outraged over Bedol verdict: Say fraud is the issue not contempt.
PCIJ reports Spate of attacks alarms local Indian community. Nice backgrounder in their blog on the history if Indian immigration to the Philippines.
An interesting article, “Political Parties in the 2007 Elections”, by Joel Rocamora, is reproduced in Mga Diskurso ni Doy.
In kidglove’s life belt, the blogger takes a snapshot of a homeless man who uses a flag for a blanket; and then offers up a meditation on the meaning -and meaningless- of the law.
The entry of Quixotic Kibbitzer led me to consult Atty. Edwin Lacierda on the points he raised. This was his reply:
Sounds logical but it does not work that way. Sometimes during trial and even before final judgment, the constitutional presumption of innocence can be overturned such as unexplained flight. When an accused takes flight, the constitutional presumption to innocence is overturned by the presumption of guilt. As we say in procedural law, flight denotes a presumption of guilt. Thus, it is possible that the constitutional presumption of innocence can be lost subject to the existence of some circumstances.
But he is being ingenious, there is a great distinction between Jalosjos and Trillanes and it is the fact that Jalosjos’ presumption of innocence has been overturned by conviction even if it was still pending appeal. The fact that Jalosjos has been convicted with proof beyond reasonable doubt overturns the constitutional presumption of innocence. Evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt always overcomes the constitutional presumption of innocence.
The constitutional presumption of innocence really means that accusation is not synonymous with guilt. But if one is convicted, then it showed that the presumption has been overturned and it is now the turn of the accused to prove that the judgment of conviction is wrong. Moreover, to be very technical about it, an appeal is a statutory right, not a constitutional right.
If you read the Jalosjos decision, the background scenario is that he has already been convicted and is sitting in prison. The equal protection of the laws says that all persons similarly situated should be similarly treated. Jalosjos and Trillanes are not in the same situation. Trillanes has not been convicted so far. His detention is due to the fact that the crime he committed is non-bailable, not because he has been convicted. Thus, he continues to enjoy the presumption of innocence. That is the big difference. By all accounts, your analysis is clear and correct.
And if the guy wants to be consistent, then by all accounts, his presumption of innocence must allow Trillanes to sit as a senator and attend to the senate sessions.
Read the decision, what makes Jalosjos so different from Trillanes is that apart from the conviction, he ran away from his duties in Congress and hid from his fellow congressmen when a warrant of arrest was issued him. Afterwards, he invoked Congress when it was a convenient ploy to secure temporary liberty. That never happened with Sonny Trillanes.
There you go. Manuel Buencamino’s right on the button.
Finally, from Flip Brown Guy, those guards and their magic sticks.
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