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Kowtow
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on October 3, 2007 253 Comments 13 min read
Good to the last crumb Previous Resignation isn't a get out of jail free card Next

Late last night, the story broke: Arroyo decides ‘not to continue’ with ZTE deal–Bunye. Today, the story got to be clarified further: GMA explains ZTE fiasco to Hu (as another story put it, Arroyo ‘stops’ deal with ZTE; China prexy accepts decision).

Obviously, that was the main objective of the President, with specific, domestic political considerations on her mind. As her people put it, ‘Political instinct’ made Arroyo scrap ZTE deal — Palace.

Having achieved that, she can then attend to other things.

Contrary to speculations to the contrary, the President has a serious reason for visiting China. She’s there in support of Philippine investments overseas, a legitimate and praiseweworthy thing for any president to do, and which explains why she’d go to China when the Chinese themselves are enjoying one of the major holidays in their culture.

As the news has it, Arroyo inaugurates Razon container terminal in Shandong. After all, Razon now most powerful businessman, says De Venecia son. Those interested in the maritime ports industry might be interested in the blog Maritime Watchkeeper.

The main thing is that prior to the electrifying news arriving late in the evening from China, the Palace faithful had been mobilized to propose the party line: Palace wants Senate to stop NBN deal investigation. This was expressed by the Executive Secretary when the President left; in addition, after the President left, her husband returned: obviously well-briefed on what he, in turn, should be saying: Mike Arroyo: I never said ‘Back off’.

What I found very curious last night was that a couple of hours before the news of the President’s statement was released, the distinct possibility that the scheduled ZTE hearing for Thursday would end up being either canceled outright, or postponed, began to circulate. Obviously, coming at the heels of official Palace expressions of desire -for the hearings to end- this is what made the scuttlebutt take on the Wow factor.

Consider, first, that resuming the hearings would further add scrutiny to an already open can of worms: Probe of PDI, 4 solons sought over leak on secret meeting (for its part, the paper I write for says, PDI stands by story on Joker’s intervention in Neri’s testimony). The Senate, then, having already spent yesterday arguing its case before the Supreme Court (see No TRO on ‘Hello Garci’ probe; SC grills petitioners) and earning a minor victory (no TRO to stop the Hello Garci hearings) and faced with that probe called by an angry Joker Arroyo, and headed for a justifiable confrontation with Romulo Neri on his invocation of executive privilege, seemed poised for, well, a home run.

As the Inquirer editorial for today put it, in The battle resumes:

This returns us to the Senate, which is due to resume its joint committee hearings on the ZTE deal. There will be two issues immediately confronting the chamber. First, allegations concerning the conduct of the executive session last Thursday. This was meant to allow senators the opportunity to understand why Chair Romulo Neri of the Commission on Higher Education invoked executive privilege just as he had tantalizingly came close to revealing that the President had said more about Abalos’ bribe than just advising Neri not to accept the bribe.

Conflicting suggestions of improper behavior, either by senators or members of the Cabinet, in that executive session, have been made. One senator has asked whether these suggestions of improper, even scandalous, conduct justified the unprecedented move of some senators to reveal what took place. We say unprecedented, because the allegations of what happened during that executive session are unparalleled in the history of our Congress and perhaps any legislature in the modern era.

The second issue is whether or not to compel Neri to reveal what he knows but won’t say. Senators must decide if they will detain Neri and trigger, in turn, a case in the Supreme Court to settle, once and for all, whether the Cabinet member is right in invoking executive privilege. This is a confrontation that seems not only inevitable, but necessary. We cannot agree with Sen. Joker Arroyo that the Senate should quit while it is ahead.

It is by settling these two questions, which all hinge on Neri’s possessing information as to what the President knew, and when — and what she did or did not do, knowing what she knew — that checks and balances are asserted and the parameters of democracy are more clearly established. At stake is the ability of Congress to exercise oversight, of witnesses to use legitimate legal shields or hide behind legal barriers erected to cover up official wrongdoing. There is even the possibility that Neri’s value as a witness has been compromised, because he no longer has free will, and has been subjected to official intimidation — whether from the Senate, or the executive branch.

Except, the battle has been… well, to put it charitably, postponed. And this brings me to what got reporters scrambling back into action last night, even prior to the announcement by the Palace, that the President had ordered the ZTE deal “stopped”. Here’s the report by Malaya: Senate freezes probe into broadband deal. As their report puts it,

The freeze was a result of the decision to scrap an all-member caucus last night where a proposed hearing tomorrow was to be taken up.

The caucus was called to discuss how the Senate would pursue the inquiry after the resignation on Monday of Election Chairman Benjamin Abalos, the alleged broker of what was suspected as an overpriced supply contract with the Chinese company ZTE.

Earlier in the day, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Senate investigation might not be relevant anymore after Abalos’ resignation.

“Ngayong wala na yung object ng kanilang investigation, ano’ng relevance noon?” he asked.

He added that President Arroyo “is very confident that things will somehow simmer down.”

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, chair of the Blue Ribbon, the lead committee, said the failure to hold a caucus only means that no hearing has been scheduled.

He said the inquiry will definitely continue.

He said the committee has subpoenaed the NEDA Investment Coordinating Committee for all documents relating to the ZTE contract. He said the transportation department has already submitted the documents in its hands upon receipt of a similar subpoena duces tecum.

Congress was originally scheduled to start its All Saints’ Day break on Oct. 13. On Monday, it was announced at the Senate that the recess would be advanced by a week.

As of last night, when the buzz about either a cancellation or a postponement began, Senators were contacted and immediately responded vigorously: Senate to continue with ZTE hearings–Cayetano. The rhetoric from all the chairmen was all right: we will continue, never fear, etc., etc., although the views of some colleagues, such as Francis Escudero, was noticeably temperate while other senators complained they never got the memo: Senator puzzled over lull in hearings on broadband deal:

He said no hearings were scheduled this week because his committee needed to assess the status of the investigation, which led to the resignation of Benjamin Abalos Sr. as Elections chief following allegations of bribery.

Before he took the floor, Cayetano told reporters in a press conference that the hearings would be scheduled some 10 to 14 days from now, during the four-week congressional break.

He also gave as reasons the impending absence of senators, who are about to go on a break, and the absence of resource persons willing to speak about the deal.

Actually, the whole country didn’t get the memo.

So I can’t help but wonder at the confluence of events.

A newspaper finishes layout pretty early, and there’s no indication, for example, Malaya held the presses, which makes it reasonable to consider that its story on a cancellation (outright) of the ZTE hearings was, at one point yesterday evening, in the cards. On the same day the Palace expressed the desire the whole thing should be stopped -and knowing, as we do now, that Ermita spoke knowing full well what the President would later on announce, after the formality of her meeting with the Chinese president was concluded.

The Senate had the chance to have two more weeks of hearings, but decided to knock off work early, and all the vows of pursuing the hearings after their vacation, doesn’t explain the thing that puzzles me. Politics is about timing. It requires seizing the initiative, and doggedly refusing to relinquish it. But then, with things going in its favor, the Senate decides to, well, how else can I put it?

Back off.

And just when there were more questions raised, than settled, by the President’s statement from China. As Manuel Buencamino puts it,

Once upon a time Gloria Arroyo rightly laid out clear policy guidelines for the broadband network: build, operate and transfer; no loans; no sovereign guarantees; use and pay, rather than take or pay. Then one day, suddenly and without any explanation, she reversed those guidelines.

Can she tell us why the ZTE deal was so hastily approved that her Cabinet cannot even make up its mind whether it’s a supply contract or an executive agreement?

Can Mrs. Arroyo tell us why she allowed a contract of this magnitude to be signed even if it did not follow the proper sequence of steps as dictated by laws and regulations?

Can she explain why a concessionary loan is better than no loan at all?

Can she explain why it’s better to spend billions of pesos to own and operate an exclusive network that taxpayers will pay for whether the government uses it or not, rather than a network whose services taxpayers will pay for only when the government uses it?

Can she tell us how, and why, the Department of Justice (DOJ) rendered an opinion on a contract it never even saw?

Can she tell us why the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) did not furnish a copy of the contract to the DOJ when DOTC chief Leandro Mendoza admitted to the Senate that his department had finished reconstituting the contract on May 24, weeks before the DOJ rendered its opinion?

Can she tell us why she allowed Mendoza to keep the departments of Justice, Trade, Finance, Budget, the Executive Secretary, the Palace legal counsel and the public in the dark?

Is pushing through with the deal only a legal matter to be settled by the Supreme Court, or more important, is it a taxpayer expense that must be justified?

Meanwhile, the Palace suddenly has the means (and most definitely, the motive) to then pursue its prey (just when it seemed businessmen were beginning to start showing signs of increasing uneasiness about the Palace: see Tongue In. Anew, who has an interesting take on things).

After the primary prey of the opposition, the now ex-Comelec Chairman, has quit (entrusting his fate into the hands of our deeply respected Ombudsman, which, as this report indicates, is overflowing with the milk of human kindness: Ombudsman Gutierrez logs a record of going easy on Abalos, Comelec), taking him out of the game, the Senate takes itself out of the game, too, for a month.

And there’s also wiggle room in the Supreme Court: Motion to junk NBN-ZTE deal not yet moot – Supreme Court, by which I mean, there’s time to further buttress the Palace arguments by means of filing appropriate motions…

As Uniffors puts it,

Anyway, Gloria and Mike are on the ropes, to use a boxing term… The whole nation is waiting for the Senate to go in for the knockout… But what does the Senate do?… It decides to go on its All Saints Day vacation a week early.

Gloria and Mike will now have until Nov 5, at the earliest, to gather their wits, marshall their strength, and work their way back into the fight.

To be fair, the Senate’s decision to suddenly advance their vacation and to postpone the ZTE hearings indefinitely was not entirely Alan Peter Cayetano’s to make. It was a collective decision. (Maybe everyone collected. 200 each maybe?)

But here’s why we take Alan Peter Cayetano to task.

Remember those two impeachment hearings in the House? Remember how he and Chiz Escudero, led the charge for truth and all that against overwhelming odds?

Well, where the fuck is that crusader now? He didn’t even put up a fight.

I don’t know if this is the same Alan Peter Cayetano that we elected to the Senate so we would have someone to look out for us. Maybe the man we think is Alan Pater Cayetano is really Juju Cayetano, the fake candidate who ran for senator last May. That’s the kindest thought I can have for him right now.

Come to think of it, I’ve never seen Juju and Alan Peter in a picture together. Maybe because they’re one and the same now. Peke.

With breathing room the Palace, intends to make permanent: Spare First Gentleman, Neri from future NBN hearings–Palace, it now only has to face one: a potentially bruising battle for the first time ever, over the budget. House begins plenary debates on 2008 budget.

We all know that the greatest power of the House, is the power of the purse. A House inclined to be unpleasant to a President can go over the budget with fine-toothed comb, subject cabinet officials and presidential appointees to an inquisition, and unlike the Senate, it can do so without anyone really noticing -or with everyone watching if the House tells reporters to expect fireworks.

But instead of facing a battle on two fronts, the President, knowing Senators are off to attend the Interparliamentary Union gabfest, and so she can instead focus on, well, this story tells it all: ‘I have nothing to fear,’ says De Venecia on ouster rumors.

The antidote to threats of a House with a sudden zest for taking budget-writing seriously, is to say: look, for a whole month, JDV3 is going to get hammered by the Palace. And daddy, too.

Anyway, good news: Senate approves cheaper medicines bill.

And cool news: Super jet to touch down in RP next week.

And I think Sassy Lawyer is spot on why people should cut “Desperate Housewives” some slack.

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  1. “Wait, just to be more clear: “So you’re right Malaysia would never invade Pinas OR to OCCUPY Pinas BUT if ever Malaysia gets it into their head TO ENGAGE PINAS IN WAR, their strategy would be focused on PUTTING PINAS on its knees (hope to God it would not get there because believe me, Pinas will fold, buckle under straight away with the military strikes scenario I presented earlier.)”

    This hurts. Pound for pound I’m willing to bet GMA’s life on it, Filipino soldiers could still rank among the best in the world. Looks can be deceiving, they may talk, sound, and even look extremely humble (or humbled) but I’ve seen our soldiers “beat the crap” out of delegates from other military schools (in hand-to-hand combat). The will to fight and the propensity to fight to the last breath is inherent in the Filipino soldier. Although at the moment I will understand why most people will think otherwise. For one, the “morale” is down due to a crises in leadership which is polluting the chain of command, two, they are not properly equipped, three, they are underpaid, and four, in the war of propaganda – the left can run circles around them hence the public’s perception that they are human rights violators all of them.
    It seems apparent that most “civilized” countries with the exception of the U.S. and a few others do not look at military agression as a sound foreign policy, an invasion from our neighboring countries will always be “fictional.” If there ever was, superior military hardware will only be a short lived advantage because you always have to deploy an occupational force and unless you use nukes to annihilate all the people, burn all reasources, even to the last cockroach (scorched earth) – this occupational force will take some lessons in “protracted guerilla warfare” which will be very costly on their side. If there ever was a “foreign invasion” it would only serve to end this political bickerings and finally unite this country towards a common goal…

  2. Agree Ramrod – but pound for pound in terms of assault or defence assets, we have a bit of a problem.

    The hypothetical scenario is not an all out war, which I’m confident Malaysia will never even try going into. They say theirs is deterrence doctrine but the realistic scenario is really in case things go hot either over Sabah or the Spratleys, Malaysia, again, IF THEY GET IT IN THEIR HEAD TO engage Pinas in warfare will be just to make Pinas buckle under so peace can be neogtiated and claims ironed out.

    Don’t ever believe Malaysia will attack Pinas out of the blue. Much to laid back for them to do that. (Geez, I hope I don’t eat my words one day!)

  3. Re: “For one, the “morale” is down due to a crises in leadership which is polluting the chain of command, two, they are not properly equipped, three, they are underpaid, and four, in the war of propaganda – the left can run circles around them hence the public’s perception that they are human rights violators all of them.”

    I am so appalled by how bad down the drain our military has become! I would like them to be a proud outfit again one day. You have a proud military, then you have a proud people. As is today, we are reduced to “begging” for respect from our neighbours military.

  4. Good idea as a starting point, “Let Gloria finish her term.”

    Although I may not be happy about it, I have no regrets, I have supported all our presidents, from Marcos’ “Filipino Ideology”, Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, yes even Erap, and now GMA. I didn’t necessarily vote for them all but I considered it my duty to serve the leaders chosen by our people regardless of my personal biases. Yes, I also supported the EDSA 1, 2, but not 3 because of “patriotic” reasons which really sounded like good ideas at the time. In hindsight, I only have regrets for I don’t see any changes which for me would justify throwing away the constitution by forcefully removing duly constituted authority. To me it just opened a “Pandora’s box” now every president/administration is fair game, the next pres will find himself/herself in the same situation. Presently, I am not happy with GMA but I’m still secretly (though now its not) rooting for her to become the leader that she was meant to be, the leader that we deserve – be it she resigns for the good of the country or miraculously she can satisfactorily justify everything thats been happening lately.

  5. “I am so appalled by how bad down the drain our military has become! I would like them to be a proud outfit again one day. You have a proud military, then you have a proud people. As is today, we are reduced to “begging” for respect from our neighbours military.”

    Very true. Look at how we treated what to me would be our “best” combat officers, put them behind bars, those that cried “fowl” against corruption in logistics we let go in oblivion, those that finally have voices in government (senate) are silent, so now we are left with corrupt, incompetent, “prostitutes” who get their men killed.

  6. Mlq3,
    I believed that it has been planned because of the cheap medicines that she’s pushing.

    It is the timing which is what makes people keep on guessing.

  7. pete

    I AM SICK OF GLORIA AND SICK OVER WHAT IS HAPPENING.
    but i konw what to do which is i am doing now.
    i am striving to earn more so that my family will live in comfort.
    why waste my time doing the bids of politicians and political analysts in my midst.
    we, as a political nation is done already and we failed miserably.
    but as individual, we stiull have long way to go.
    to hell with this slogan of transparency in government, decency of public officils and other sound bites which are only designed to obfuscate reality.

    trabaho na lang tayo. may pag-asa pa pinoy.

  8. “I AM SICK OF GLORIA AND SICK OVER WHAT IS HAPPENING.
    but i konw what to do which is i am doing now.
    i am striving to earn more so that my family will live in comfort.
    why waste my time doing the bids of politicians and political analysts in my midst.
    we, as a political nation is done already and we failed miserably.
    but as individual, we stiull have long way to go.
    to hell with this slogan of transparency in government, decency of public officils and other sound bites which are only designed to obfuscate reality.

    trabaho na lang tayo. may pag-asa pa pinoy.”

    frombelow, thats probably the most “proactive” suggestion, I echo your sentiment. Spoken like an OFW…

  9. Re: “logistics we let go in oblivion, those that finally have voices in government (senate) are silent, so now we are left with corrupt, incompetent, “prostitutes” who get their men killed.”

    Exactly my feeling. I read today that 4 of the Navy Special Operations Warfare Group people got killed down South. They are my favourite unit in the AFP. Tiny group but a class of one of the best fightingest troops all on their own. Wonderful, brave, tough, all-around warfarers these guys are. So very sad to know that 4 of them have just been killed.

  10. tnx ramrod

    but i am not an OFW.
    gold is here. we just have to devote our enegies finding them instead of wasting our time on those shameless politicians, from barangay kagawad up to the top.

  11. “Pakiramdam ko toluy parang pinaglalaruan at pinaglalaway lang ang publiko…”

    matagal na, rego, matagal na. naglabas-pasok na ulit si imelda, and we have not seen resolution of cases– especially those which involve the elite and the mighty. the irony of it all, it’s the whistleblowers who get blown up in the process.

  12. “we are reduced to “begging” for respect from our neighbours military.”

    If only politicians can get there hands off military procurement. I have a former high school classmate who is now a Colonel in the air force. He regularly pilots for GMA. He was part of the team that evaluated fighter jets. They recommended the new Saab Gripen because it’s affordable. The only hindrance to final approval is the lobby from politicians. One politician was pushing for refurbished F5s. Another one for used F16s. Those politicians should just BACK OFF!

  13. “Sana nga kung may trabaho na makukuha ang lahat ng tao sa Pinas, puwede pa na sabihing, sige trabaho na lang!”

    Right you are MBW, but at the moment thats the best some of us can do to help out, work pay taxes, give your children a good education and hopefully good values.
    …and pray that this government will not pass on too much debt foreign debt to them in the future.

  14. Why senators are careful with Pork Barrel projects. The entire China financed Pork Barrel projects for the Philippines are and have been a big part of the total infrastructure project plans of the government.

    The total Php 2 trillion+ projected expenditure plans by Big Mike and GMA has been planned to be financed by budget appropriations, GOCC contributions and loans and ODA funding.

    China is not part of the OECD countries who have strict rules about transparency and accountabilities in vendor financed projects.

    Let us call it China Pork. The Chinese do not care as they do not loose anything anyway as it is the vendee that pays for everything including kickbacks. Former Congressman Joey Salceda himself said that in infrastructure projects funded domestically there is about 30% built in into the price for kickbacks.

    This is a plain simple fact about the Speaker and GMA fighting over who gets the Pork. It is a fight over pork. Chinese pork.

    The other part of this is the privatization program. The first big privatization program under Cory was the MICP. The container port in Manila. ICTSI won that bid with help from the IFC and some other multinational groups. That bidding was done by the DOTC. The guy who was appointed head of PSALM by Big Mike and GMA is Razons man Ibazeta.

    This is really about the big game between the big families that run this country. Cojuangco, Ayala, Lopez, the Chinese Taipans and off course up and coming Razon/GMA and Big Mike combination. The senators have their capo de tutti capi’s to report to. Danding, the Lopezes and their Chinese Taipans. Their fund contributors to their campaigns. They do not want to disturb the present status quo. Their foreign funders will get nervous as the risk premiums will go up if there be political instability right at the top of the food chain.

    Off course these groups have their foreign funders behind them . This about the major infrastructure of the country. Utilities, ports, major roadways that will have to be built.

    There is a global glut in savings and a serious lack of investible assets in the world. The Philippines naturally is doing its part to help solve that lack of investible assets. Secretary of Agriculture Yap wanted to lease 2M hectares to the Chinese. He should resign and start his own realty brokerage company.

    Crisis in global capitalism can only be solved by pumping up valuations by releasing more liquidity into the future which will be paid for by the unborn.

    Donald Trump recently unveiled a condo project in NYC that starts at $3,000 a sq foot. Almost double prevailing rates) In the middle of a subprime crisis he will sell out. There are enough rich people who need to park their money somewhere instead of leaving it in cash form. By the end of this year the Phisix would possibly gain over 50%+ in market value.

    Central Bankers have a 25-30 year time frame since they know their decisions will affect long term events. We will all be dead anyway.

    However perky Luli Arroyo and her kids when and if she has them will be well looked after.

    Don’t you love this system wherein greed and selfishness are beneficial for society.

  15. mlq3, read your column today re senate cop out.
    what is this now, are there offers (or thereats?) that cant be refused? or dark secrets maybe?
    reminds me of an old novel i once read about an upright US supreme court justice that cant be bought. but his imaginative enemies found out a dark secret – he had a negro/black blood (a grandmother?) which was a most embarrassing if not fatal “defect” at that time. lots of things were imperiled, career, social standing and the coming marriage of a favorite daughter.
    the good justice found a solution – he killed himself.
    thus his secret and everything else remained safe. including his beloved principles.
    but then a man that cant be bought might be the best thing after all – you can have him for free!
    end of story.

  16. Mlq3,

    Before I knock off, just want to tell you read through the list you linked carefully – very detailed but is not very complete, missile arsenal not included and some other naval hardware; also there are lots more on order, already signed, sealed and being manufactured, i.e., UAVs, other aircraft, air tankers, etc.

    Also, noticed the writer is called “Mat Salleh” not real name. Very funny!

    Here’s the story behind “Mat Salleh”

    “Mat Salleh” is a derogatory term for a Caucasian that sprung from the words “Mad Sailor” referring to British sailors who would go around being drunk around town during the Malaysia-UK heydays. People would scream, “Go away mad sailor” or screech, “Mad Sailor”, and since Malays couldn’t then effectively pronounce English words well, the term ended being pronounced into “Mat Salleh.” It has since become a “derogatory term” against Caucasians.

  17. what a feeling. i feel very vindicated. although want pacjk the Senate with opposotionists in the last elections. i refused to vote. me thinks they are all the same.

    ha ha ha. how true.

  18. Pete Your objective mainly resolves around the concept of “GMA being out of the picture in Philippine Governance.” As to how, well, that’s why were here to discuss on those details. Playing the devils advocate, do you think that the whole country dislikes GMA or just some territories surrounding Imperial Manila and some places in Mindanao? This is one fact we have to agree on. The term “I’m sick of GMA and her Administration” is, yes, valid for some but might not be the sentiments of other people. Remember, we are a country of 40 Million or so. It’s one of the pains of DEMOCRACY, we have to know the pulse of the “majority” – both the vocal and the silent ones.

    The consequences and effects you are referring to is a post-GMA scenario. What I am concerned about is the “transition period.” Would the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Let focus not on the ANTE and POST, rather on what would happen during the “stretch of the transition” if and when GMA would be out of the picture before 2010.

    Please give me the link, article re this discussion among Congressmen. Correct me if I am wrong but LA SALLE doesn’t have a Law School, right? I mean in the Philippines. So which La Salle Law School did Crispin Remulla go to. Yes, I think Teddy Boy got his Bachelor of Laws from the Ateneo. Yes please, would be very interested in reading discussing this issue on LOA because as far as I know, the prevailing doctrine (with reference to vacancy in the Presidency) does not mention anything about LOA (leave of absence).

  19. MBW, actually if you read through the comments section, you’d realize that a lot on the list are just “ordered” and not yet “delivered.” also, some of the commenters (apparently malaysians) have noted that most of the jets are not “armed” and only one is, and have raised issues just like the non exploding cannons in our military. etc.

  20. This is really about the big game between the big families that run this country. Cojuangco, Ayala, Lopez, the Chinese Taipans and of course up and coming Razon/GMA and Big Mike combination. The senators have their capo de tutti capi’s to report to. Danding, the Lopezes and their Chinese Taipans. Their fund contributors to their campaigns. They do not want to disturb the present status quo. Their foreign funders will get nervous as the risk premiums will go up if there be political instability right at the top of the food chain. hvrds

    In other words, some foreign funders and businessmen, the Taipans, the Tisoys, Big Mike and Ate Glue, and their political stooges are screwing the Filipinos big time.

  21. “so tell me, which is more affordable, a change in power before 2010, or unabated plunder until 2010?” manuelbuencamino.

    this presumptuous question presupposes that there is “unabated plunder” going on that necessitate an unconstitutional “change in power”. i don’t know what kind of supernatural power you have to discern continuing plunder but why is there no real proof being put forward by forces more desperate than you are to pin down the president? are they a bunch of nincompoops and inutile who can use a smart mind like yours?

    change in power? how many times are you gonna try that and fail miserably each time? good things happen to those who wait. didn’t your mother teach you that?

  22. MBW I remember something and maybe of the basis we can jump off from talking about all these Military Arsenals and Hardware of Singapore, Malaysia, and sadly the Philippines, I thought of researching about Military Expenditures. Here are some of the information I got:

    (a) Singapore: USD 4,470,000,000.00 or USD 0.42 per USD 10 of GDP.
    (b) Malaysia: USD 1,690,000,000.00 or USD 0.14 per USD 10 of GDP.
    (c) Philippines: 995,000,000.00 or USD 0.12 per USD 10 of GDP.

    Singapore is far ahead in terms of their “defense kitty.” Malaysia and the Philippines are not far behind but we must consider that a bulk of Philippine Military Expenditure goes to Personnel and not to the Procurement of Hardware unlike that of Malaysia.

    In terms of total Military Expenditure, Singapore is ranked No. 22, Malaysia is ranked No. 41, and the Philippines is ranked No. 52. Also I found other interesting information. 😀

  23. The Senate stood pat on the desire of GMA… to postpone barangay polls. Proceed with the elections, brave and honorable Senators chorused.
    Ang gagaling. Ang tatapang. Di sumunod sa wish ni GMA.
    Pero SA ZTE invewitigation? Hinto muna tayo, said senators. “Ang gagaling, ang tatapang”. Ha ha ha ha

  24. “The term “I’m sick of GMA and her Administration” is, yes, valid for some but might not be the sentiment of other people.”

    yes, karah, i’m one of the “other people” you are referring to. i recall the first time i joined this blog. not only was i judged to be on the payroll of malacanang, i was treated a virtual non-entity for espousing pro-gma sentiments and for being “legalistic”. thanks to mlq3, his open-mindedness made me stay and become a lonely voice along with rego and a few others who dare swim against the current. you may not be one of us but i think you are on the side of reason and fairness, and you speak with wisdom.

  25. “Philippines are not far behind but we must consider that a bulk of Philippine Military Expenditure goes to Personnel and not to the Procurement of Hardware unlike that of Malaysia.”

    Where did all this go? Our soldiers’ families are having a hard time coping up? The common “foot soldier” still cooks his own meal on stones and firewood, subsisting mostly of a very nutritious diet of rice and dried fish, perhaps occasional sardines. Can you blame them if occasionally a pig (chicken, cow, dog) disappears from a farmer’s backyard? With this money they should be feasting on K rations and drinking water through portable filtration systems and not take risks that their intestinal fortitude will ward off diarrhea, e coli, or amoebiasis…

  26. hrvds If only PORK BARREL FUNDS are utilized well with transparency (open bidding and open books which is quite impossible to be put in place in both Houses), it can help a lot of people. Since Pork Barrel funds of the Congresspeople directly benefit their constituents but what happening is that the Pork Barrel funds cirectly benefit their pockets. Re: Pork Barrel Funds by the Senators, they may do as they please since they don’t have a particular district to look after (maybe the will prioritize their home province for the honest ones but will prioritize their bank accounts for majority of them).

    The proposed budget for 2008 is I think around 1.2 Trillion or 1.3 Trillion, unprecedented. Lots of money alright but I don’t know of this amount, how much really would benefit the citizens. Do they conduct studies on this? Expenditureirect Direct Benefit Rations. How much money does every Filipino benefit from the National Budget.

    Since China has a lot of MONEY at the moment, they are “planting rice” to what Filipinos call “debt of gratitude.” Besides, these so-called LOANS at a lower rates have SOVEREIGN GUARANTEES plus the bonus of China looking good to the countries that they give loans.

    EDSA 1 and EDSA 2, even the quite amusing EDSA 3 happened and did it change anything aside from the ideals that were shouted on these events? After these EDSA’s, what happened? Things are getting worst if not worst. I don’t want to think that these EDSA’s are mere theater plays that the ELITE play but down the road, it’s the ELITE that dictates who things work in Government no the citizens (a very sad reality).

  27. “yes, karah, i’m one of the “other people” you are referring to. i recall the first time i joined this blog. not only was i judged to be on the payroll of malacanang, i was treated a virtual non-entity for espousing pro-gma sentiments and for being “legalistic”. ”

    We all have our day jobs, at least we “agree to disagree” as empowered citizens of this “virtual community.”

  28. Bencard I don’t wanna consider myself LUKEWARN on the issue of pro-gma or anti-gma but I would say, I go where my convictions lead me. GMA Administration has excesses, yes YET this same Administration also had some good things under it’s resume. Even the Opposition could curse GMA to high heavens but when it gets down to “working relationship” for the country, I think this is one thing the Opposition lacks.

    I’m not Pro-GMA neither am I Pro-Erap. I am not Pro-Tabako either. Much more, I am not Pro-Marcos because the time Marcos was booted out from RP ,I was only 5 years old. 😀 I don’t think that more than taking sides, we should help each other in nation-building not destroying each other. In our case, nation-building in our own little way.

    Just stand your ground and you’ll be fine. Don’t mind these hecklers (as Joker blurted out at Lacson). 😀 I do think that MLQ3 welcomes everybody in here – whatever their political affiliations and beliefs are and it’s a good thing because this Blog came to be one of the most interesting Blog . Im sure others share this observation of mine.

  29. The Philippines is strategically dependent on foreign capital economically. That means when you buy gas from a Shell station in the Philippines you are buying imported fuel from a foreign company in the domestic market. The country will have to earn the dollars to pay not only for the imported oil but for the profits that Shell makes on its sale in the domestic market. Hence the Philippines is stuck with the export orientation since the time of the Spaniards. The natural law of supply and demand and division of labor in this country is inverted economically due to the accidents of history.

    Should the Philippines save money by abolishing Congress the BSP and the national government and simply become a neo-colony/protectorate of the U.S. and or Europe? Or if you wish of the PRC. I am sure Pinoys would not like the idea of the Chinese. By simply changing our currency to the dollar we would save billions on the nonsense of the magician in the BSP pretending he is practicing his craft.They blew off almost $50 b in paper loses.

    The awesome power of global funds without regulatory oversight. See below.

    The Philippines GDP is worth $120B+. Domestic market capitalization in the PSE excluding PLDT which is foreign controlled is between $20-$30 B.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/71d05460-71d7-11dc-8960-0000779fd2ac.html

    Capital markets face shift to opaque investors

    By Joanna Chung in London F.T.

    Published: October 3 2007 18:54 | Last updated: October 3 2007 18:54

    Global financial markets face a permanent shift in power from traditional money managers to opaque groups such as petro-dollar investors, Asian central banks, hedge funds and private equity groups, according to a study out Thursday.

    These power brokers had amassed $8,400bn in assets by the end of 2006, three times what they held in 2000 when they were “little more than fringe players” in the capital markets, says the report, published by McKinsey Global Institute.

  30. if i ever make it to boston, i fully intend to at least have a drink with bencard. and if to nyc, ditto with rego. one day, gma will be out of the picture and i know we will find a hell of a lot to work together on for the country.

  31. Ram The answer to your question is “how does the AFP Finance Department disburse its funds” to the soldiers. The amount that each “foot soldier” should receive, do they receive it intact and on time? These are the questions that need some answering by the AFP higher echelons.

    My heart goes to the soldiers in the field. They are ill-equipped, underpaid, and even lack the most basic supplies that should be given to them when they are doing “field operations.” Their usual viand would be dried fish and sardines as you’ve said. It’s one of those sad stories. And come to think of it, nobody was made accountable why with the budget, the soldiers are suffering whilst the Generals are playing golf and/or having vacations somewhere. (I remember the rest house for AFP Officers that was put up on Boracay). 😀

    Maybe these soldiers also have as their diet, Pythons and other snakes. 😀 Would serve as “finger food” for them or maybe even would serve as viand. You know how it is in the jungle.

  32. karah,

    i dunno, but to me, a lot of things are a heck of a lot better. there have been a lot of incremental achievements, and while some things are quite worse, there are many things that are better. everything we’ve gone through has made us more democratic and at the very least, changed us, as a people. there’s much more change going on than perhaps at any other time in our history, not necessarily in ways some of us will like, but still, change is better than stagnation.

  33. MLQ3 We are a young and growing Democracy. Other countries might have overcome us yet we are as a Nation, unique. Some of the more concrete improvements over that years that benefit the public are (a) The RORO (Nautical Highway) – I was able to see the benefits first hand of island-hopping from one island to the next rather than riding a plane or even transporting your vehicle on a boat – which is by the way so expensive; the transportation of goods got cheaper. (b) The NLEX and SLEX is also very beneficial to at least cut the used to be “bottleneck” exits in the North and South of Metro Manila. (c) Though mired with a lot of controversy, if the project would be a success, the Northrail and Southrail would be another alternative for the riding public and the movement of goods.

    Along the way, there would always be some “growing pains” but I do think that it’s better to live in the Philippines rather than North Korea, rather than Yemen, rather than Afghanistan and Iraq. Come to think of it, if a person has some money, it is much much more comfortable to live in PI rather than live in the US where there are no Helpers, Drivers, and other Housestaff to rely on.

    “The only thing that endures is change.” (Heraclitus).

  34. I agree with you mlq3 and karah, on the matter of change and improvement and I think this is due mainly to the present administration. From my observations of some of the people I know (within the period of 2000-to present), they have become better in the sense that they some of them had no regular jobs before or low paying jobs or struggling small businesses and they now have better paying jobs. Most of them are now working abroad.

    Almost half of the members of my highschool class are already out of the country while the other half are too poor to leave. Compared to the generation of my parents where only a few in their class have left and are now enjoying the good fruits of their labor, the “jump” from the few to half of the class is really an improvement.

    Infrastructures aside, you think our society as a society has become better (or even safe) in the 7 years under Gloria? That I think should be a better gauge for the words change in relation to improvement.

  35. The Ca t How’s the performance of India’s own version of the NBN (National Broadband Network) to date? I’m not familiar with the system but is their NBN a DSL-type (cable) or it’s WiMax-capable (wireless).

    The Cheaper Medicines Bill: 1 strike, 2 more to go. The Senate passed it. Now it’s time the House pass it. I do think that GMA is for this Cheaper Medicines Act. Once it passes both Houses, she will sign it into Law. Hope the implementation would be closely monitored by the public. You know how these things work, same old “ningas-kugon” mentality.

  36. Better or at least safer, that would be easy to gauge. I used to commute and sleep in the PUVs without fear of anyone taking my belongings but now, I do not even feel safe anymore even inside my own car. Have you guys been out int he streets lately? And how do you compare your present experience to your experience about 7 years ago?
    A better society should at the very least be a safer one.

  37. if i ever make it to boston, i fully intend to at least have a drink with bencard. and if to nyc, ditto with rego. one day, gma will be out of the picture and i know we will find a hell of a lot to work together on for the country…
    ———————-

    No problemo, Manolo. Email ka lang at bigay ko ang cell number ko…

  38. hvrds In 2006, although the trade deficit was lower than 2005, it’s still a staggering USD 4.364. At the onset of 2007 wherein the value of the peso went up against the dollar, any idea on the trend on IMPORT vis a vis EXPORT? The first hand info I can share is that a lot of Furniture Companies closed shop or are in the red due to the rapid appreciation of the PESO. In Cebu, take for example, from 40-50 Medium-Large scale Producers, now it’s down to 12 Medium-Large scale Producers. Thousands lost their jobs because of this.

    Re: I think the Philippines import 70% of its Oil consumption. Though the appreciation of the peso might be beneficial, the OIL CARTEL still call the shots. I don’t know about the supposed REGULATORS because I don’t find them visible. It’s funny when these Oil Companies say they would rollback Php 0.40/liter but when they increase, it’s Php 1.00 or Php 1.50 or even more per liter. Fantastic.

    The OFW Remittances is a big help. Talking about them. They are pushing for a SPECIAL RATE on OFW foreign-exchange. What’s your idea on this matter?

    The idea of the Philippines being a colony/protectorate what have you is quite a tempting idea but a surrender of Sovereignity might make erupt into a full blown war. More than abolishing the Congress, streamlining Line Agencies, revisiting the profitability of GOCC’s and GFI’s is in order.

    So I heard that PRIVATE EQUITY FUNDS are gobbling up company after company. And they have the funds to do so. These are the new breed of Corporate Decision Makers. True, there’s a lot of Petrol Dollars from KSA, UAE, Qatar, and even Russian that’s lying around.

  39. Bencard We cannot deny the fact that there were a lot of “scandals” during the term of GMA – the Diosdado Macapagal Highway, the Northrail Project, now the NBN. Whether these allegations were true or whether GMA was really involved in these projects, it’s for the Courts decide. What people didn’t and pretend not to see are the “progress” and “milestones” that the Philippines had since 2001. I think let’s also give credit where credit is due.

    Was looking at the POEA Statistics, in 2006 alone, 1,221,417 Filipinos were deployed. Mind you these are the DOCUMENTED ONES and there’s also a good number of UNDOCUMENTED ONES. I hope the Gov’t would do more to avoid the increase of UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS. The problem with the latter is that is he/she runs into trouble, it would be hard to identify him/her because the Embassy in that country does not have records of him/her. Another thing too is that the dependents of this undocumented worker won’t be able to get some benefits come what may.

    There’s a certain REAL-ESTATE BOOM mainly due to OFW’s, Pensioners/Retirees who have Filipino roots, and even Balikbayans. This means that the PURCHASING POWER of a good number of Pinoys is increasing. A lot of these people buy Lots, House and Lots (Residential), and Condo Units. Some are for their family, some are for investment purposes.

    I don’t know what’s the feel on the streets with reference to Safety and Security. I do hear a lot of news about crime and all. What I can say maybe is that it depends on what City in the Philippines you are in. Some cities are fairly safer than the others. Due to poverty, there are some people who resort to petty crimes and some serious crimes like armed robbery and hold-up.

    I’ll rest my eyes first. I’ll place 1 slice of cucumber on each side of my eyes. I think my eyebags are getting bigger. 😀

  40. beancurd, i hear of my rapes, more snatchings, more vandalism, than in the past. fewer high profile kidnappings but more thuggery involving ordinary people and children. smuggling seems not only worse, but positively encouraged; businessmen complain that customs has been truly shocking in its mulcting. in the area where i live, even telephone cables have been stolen for their copper wires.

    but in many government offices, petty fixing seems to have decreased, in others, release of paperwork seems to have improved, petty government crime seems to have been reduced but well, you have zte.

    value meals are now luxury meals for many.

    yet there’s still a certain optimism at least in urban areas esp. outside metro manila, part of dealing with all these problems due to basically, an absence of effective governance is, people are more independent.

    but not since the 80s maybe, have the haves been so hated by the have-nots.

  41. From personal experience, i think in terms of renewing licenses (LTO), getting birth certificates (NSO) and NBI clearances (forgot the agency), government efficiency has improved because of computerization and, unless i’m wrong, outsourcing to third parties. It’s not like Singapore but there it’s more systematic.

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