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Dec 07

More clear-eyed than her enemies

In the news, positive headlines around the world as Philippine terrorists get life for holiday island kidnapping (not much notice, except domestically, that RP ranks 10th in global bribery survey). Meanwhile, Arroyo: No mercy for Trillanes even as, a report finally makes public what’s been the scuttlebutt for some days now: Trillanes considered marching on Senate to claim seat (personally, I think that would have made much more sense). In Congress, the Daily Tribune claims GMA’s House allies start dancing the Cha-cha. In other House news, Solons wary of colleague’s antics on cheap medicine bill while House-Senate clash likely over cheaper medicines bill.

Cartoon courtesy of Uniffors:

Page 17
I believe this column by Alan C. Robles in The South China Morning Post explains things very well: the President’s relative advantages, the disadvantages of her critics, but also, the folly of confusing the President’s staying in power with any sort of moral ascendancy on her part:

Shaken, not deterred
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has survived a series of scandals to hold onto her presidency
Alan Robles
Updated on Dec 07, 2007

In 1997, the influential Catholic prelate, Jaime Cardinal Sin, belittled the ambition of then-senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to run for president. He asked her disparagingly: “What would you do when there is a coup d’etat? Cry?” The cardinal, who died two years ago, couldn’t have been more wrong about the diminutive leader’s personality. Far from being a faint-hearted, delicate creature, Mrs Arroyo has proven to be as tough as nails. And she’s needed the grit because she’s also turned out to be one of the troubled nation’s most contentious and beleaguered leaders. If opinion polls can be believed, the 60-year-old Mrs Arroyo is now the most unpopular president the Philippines has had in the past 20 years. A few months ago, her trust rating was lower than that of her ignoble predecessor, Joseph Estrada. Her administration has been linked to murders and human rights abuses, corrupt deals involving billions of pesos, systematic abuse of power and election fraud. Yet, in a country where two presidents were ousted by “people power” uprisings, she has thwarted every attempt to dislodge her. She neutralised two impeachment complaints in congress, foiled at least three military coup plots, including one last week, and shrugged off desertions of cabinet members and key political allies. Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon described her as “very strong. Very determined.” Having taken power in 2001 and due to step down in 2010, the former economics teacher looks set to become the republic’s longest-serving president outside of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Mrs Arroyo’s fortitude has earned the grudging admiration of adversaries. “We call her taga-Pata [from Pata],” joked Ustadz Sharif Zain Jali, an official of the Moro National Liberation Front, in a reference to a small island in Muslim Mindanao renowned for its fierce inhabitants. “A woman who can be president has to be braver than a man.” He said the people of Pata like telling a tall tale of a fellow islander convicted of murder, imprisoned in Manila and then married to a laundry woman, who gave birth to a girl who was adopted by a politician. That baby, goes the legend, became Gloria Arroyo. To Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, the reasons for his boss’ staying power are simple: “She has done a lot for the economy as shown by the [growth in] gross domestic product and investments … I admire her. I know she is very dedicated to the job. She’s sincere in seeing to it that the programmes she has set forth are carried out.” The problem is, each time Mrs Arroyo’s programmes have worked up a head of steam, they’ve been brought to a lurching halt by scandal. She’s also endured embarrassing revelations such as the temporary exile of her husband a few years ago over allegations he was involved in election cheating. Other embarrassments include the resignation of her hand-picked election commission chairman under a cloud of corruption allegations, and the furore over an agriculture undersecretary who fled to the US rather than face an inquiry into public funds allegedly used for Mrs Arroyo’s 2004 election campaign. Just before last week’s abortive coup, Manila was savouring two tales: one had Mrs Arroyo’s husband squabbling with other politicians over huge kickbacks from a telecommunications project funded by China; the other concerned hundreds of congressmen and governors invited to meet the president in her palace and then later receiving bags of cash. A couple of recipients said they were given half a million pesos each. Stories like these explain why Mrs Arroyo is unpopular – and her reaction to them doesn’t help. She has issued executive orders banning officials from participating in investigations, in effect blocking any inquiries. She also has tried banning public rallies without permits, a move the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional. Lately, her adversaries claim, she has moved against the media, with which she has a poor relationship. Justice Secretary Gonzales said there were “elements who want to destroy her leadership; these people who are envious of her, who want to sow dissension”. He added: “There is much black propaganda [against Mrs Arroyo] … so many people are being misled by these things.” It’s hard seeing the accusations as unfounded rumours, when their airing has led to officials resigning or fleeing the country. Mrs Arroyo has never satisfactorily explained the so-called “Hello Garci” affair of 2005, when opponents released a recording of a phone conversation between someone who sounded like her and election commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcilliano. The two voices discussed padding the presidential election and kidnapping an election fraud witness. In a televised “apology” Mrs Arroyo admitted talking to an election official, but did not identify him and denied any wrongdoing. There were huge demonstrations, nearly half her cabinet ministers resigned in protest and there was an impeachment hearing in congress. Although some insiders said that at one point she was almost ready to resign, Mrs Arroyo decided to tough it out. She survived, but that year was a turning point for many erstwhile supporters. Florencio Abad, who was education secretary until he joined the walkout, said: “I saw her ascension to power as an opportunity for reform. But after Garci it was a slide down from then on.” Vicky Garchitorena, another cabinet member who resigned, said: “You have to demand accountability from our elected officials. It’s shameful when you have well-known individuals getting away with breaking the law with impunity.” Despite being reviled and mocked, Mrs Arroyo almost succeeded in rewriting the constitution to allow her to stay in power indefinitely. “She is doing her job properly,” said Mr Gonzales. “I do not think the Filipino people at this point are still willing to be duped by these false prophets of doom.” Several factors have sustained the president, the most important being the continued support of the military. As Mr Gonzales put it: “The chain of command is holding, police and military are beholden to her.” A senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that as far as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were concerned, “She is the legitimately elected president. The AFP does not have a hand in determining whether she was legitimately elected, that’s up to the Commission on Elections.” He said he opposed any military coup because “I don’t agree with a politicised military”. Mrs Arroyo was unpopular “because her detractors are effective in undermining her credibility. And the government has really failed to convince the public she’s a good president,” he said. It helps her cause that Mrs Arroyo has close ties with General Esperon, who said he not only “admired” his chief, but had a “crush” on her. Mrs Arroyo was one of the sponsors of General Esperon’s wedding. The second factor is the weakness of Mrs Arroyo’s enemies, who are not only disorganised but also have nothing to offer as a replacement. William Esposo, a marketing specialist who helped build Mrs Arroyo’s image 10 years ago but is now a staunch critic of hers, said he could never imagine bringing back Joseph Estrada. “Between the two, I’d rather stay with Gloria.” Her foes have repeatedly underestimated her. Apparently last week’s plotters thought they needed to do nothing more than barricade themselves in a hotel and wait for “people power” to erupt. For their trouble, they were assaulted, tear-gassed and dragged to detention. Sheila Coronel, a journalist who has investigated coups and corruption, said of the president’s foes: “Their judgment is warped by their hatred of Gloria. I wish we had more political actors who can see clearly through their hatred.” In contrast, she noted, “Gloria has managed to stay focused and clear-eyed, despite her hatred of those who hate her … and that is why she’s managed to survive.” Mrs Arroyo has never been more resourceful and ruthless than when she’s defending herself. She hasn’t hesitated to tap dubious personalities, and has given largesse generously to supporters. Mr Esposo said her political opponents “never imagined she would cross so many lines”, ignoring both the constitution and the Supreme Court when it suited her. “She is the epitome of patronage politics, she has perfected the art of patronage,” he said. A third factor that has helped her is the inertness of the millions of Filipinos who, six years ago, took to the streets to overthrow Estrada in a peaceful uprising. Not only is civil society divided over what to do, many people are tired of uprisings. Fearful of what an Arroyo ouster might produce, they’d rather give the democratic process a chance. Mr Abad said that “as a country we have not been able to muster the unity we showed in ousting the Marcos dictatorship, in ousting Estrada … it’s every difficult to do that now.” Although Mrs Arroyo has succeeded in hanging on, the downside is that a large amount of her administration’s resources and talent is devoted to the goal of self-preservation. “You are no longer talking about governance, about development, about being able to address basic problems,” said Mr Abad. “You’re talking about being able to survive.”

Copyright © 2007 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All right reserved

Another outstanding piece today was Raul Pangalanan‘s column:

If at all there was anything worrisome about The Peninsula standoff, it wasn’t that they were so few. It was that they could have actually pulled it off without a civilian component, and that if the military reinforcements had not been blocked, bought off, or preempted, we would have had our first coup d’état without the façade of a civilian cover. Marcos staged a coup against Congress in cahoots with his “Rolex 12″ generals and, with a little help from a pliant Supreme Court, called it “constitutional authoritarianism.” The two EDSA People Power events were, to use the felicitous but not entirely truthful catchwords, civilian-led but military-backed uprisings.

So now, some Filipinos exclaim in disgust: Oh, Lim and Trillanes thought they could pull it off without our help? But I recall, the last time around, on that memorable day of Feb. 24, 2006, that was exactly what Brigadier General Lim did. With far more civilians involved, the element of surprise was inevitably compromised — and people then concluded: The plotters should’ve kept the secret to themselves!

Do not feign surprise at this latest attempt to oust Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It has been long in coming. “They who make peaceful change impossible make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy.

Overseas, Brazil’s senate leader resigns, averting a political crisis. And a very chilling reflection on the habeas corpus debate going on in the U.S. Supreme Court, in It Was the Best of Habeas, It Was the Worst of Habeas:

The question the court must answer is whether Congress properly stripped the remaining 300-and-some detainees at Guantanamo Bay of their right to go before a neutral judge and challenge their detention. If that feels familiar, it’s because we’ve heard this fight before in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006). And also before that in Rasul v. Bush (2004). What’s changed is that Congress, by enacting the 2006 Military Commissions Act (PDF), joined President Bush in the family habeas-stripping business. Now the president and the legislature together are telling federal courts to stay out of the executive’s decisions about who gets detained where and on what charges. Rasul gave detainees a statutory right to habeas corpus. The MCA erased it. Hamdan struck down the president’s military tribunals. Congress reinstated them. The Bush administration keeps winning by losing. The question is whether the third time’s a charm.

The piece goes on to grimly conclude,

But I just couldn’t count five votes today for the proposition that the kangaroo tribunals are better than the alternatives, or even that they are any good at all. After six years, zero trials, multiple suicide attempts, and myriad resignations, even the claim that serfs on the Isle of Jersey in 1597 would have been delighted with the CSRTs sounds a false note. The one unifying theme today may be that every justice present longs for the good old days of the 14th century. The conservatives because life was better then. And the liberals because even the Middle Ages look better than what the administration is doing now.

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93 comments

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  1. Silent Waters

    MBW

    This is exactly my comment for your reference

    “Even before, I have always said that communism in its purest form will never ever work. Why? Because people in general are aspirational. The problem is that people are aspirational in “varying degrees”. Ergo, people will have different levels of contentment. Communism does away with that. Everybody will get equal share. So what does that make of people who are more talented than others? There’s is NO INCENTIVE, di ba? Now, one can argue that you can always be aspirational for the common good. HA. As if every person will be good…unless Big brother plans to brainwash them anyway.”

  2. Silent Waters

    Vic

    And that’s the same flaw I see in the popular dictatorship concept CVJ is espousing. He thinks such a person (a benevolent dictator) exists in vast quantities. If that were so, this world would certainly be a happy place.

  3. BrianB

    Manolo, freedom is inherent, God-given, an a priori right, whatever you call it, an axiom, an assumption. This is the dogma, Manolo, not this:

    Ang kaalaman at katalinuhan ay bunga ng paghihirap at pagsusubok. Maraming kailangang daanan ang isang tao upang makatikim ng bunga ng kanyang pag-aaral. Sa hanay ng mga magulang at mga kapatid, maraming taon ang lilipas bago nila makita ang bunga ng kanilang mga sakripisyo at kahit dumating man ang araw na naging isang doctor, abogado, guro, o inhinyero na ang kanilang anak o kapatid, hindi pa rin nila masisiguro na palaging maging maginhawa ang buhay ng kanilang angkan.

    Kaalaman and katalinuhan is not a precondition to freedom. I think it is wrong to think that right to freedom requires the capability to achieve it and the capacity to preserve it.That is like saying the weak and the stupid do not deserve it. I know where Rizal was coming from. A lot of Filipinos think like him. They look around them at all the poor helpless people and blame their laziness and lack of common sense for their plight. In other words, they believe in thisp little nugget: “Kung walang nagpapa-oppress walang nang-oopress.” They put the blame on the oppressed, not the oppressors.

  4. Silent Waters

    I believe what Rizal is really saying that for us to achieve nationhood, the intellectual capacity must be there. It doesn’t mean that everybody should be fully “intellectualized” but that there should be a threshold at which enough people will be learned for a nation to be run well.

    (Correct me if I am wrong).

  5. Silent Waters

    MBW

    I agree with you that corruption in the place of residence is one of the determinants of how a person will improve his lot in life.

    But it’s not the only determinant.

  6. cvj

    Silent Waters, i’m not a communist but try to look at things objectively. You need only observe at how fast the land of your grandfathers is taking off economically to see that the combination of Communism first and then Market Reforms later, does work. If it’s any comfort to you, i’m not advocating communism (especially the Maoist kind). Other countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea was also able to take off without having to go communist. They just addressed the issue of inequality early enough so that it does not get in the way of economic growth. Dictatorship is also not my first preference. The case of India, (another country which followed Socialist prescriptions and then introduced Market reforms) shows that you don’t have to be a dictatorship to engineer an economic takeoff.

    You seem to believe that what distinguishes the elite, middle class and the poor is hard work. That’s not the case since Philippine society is not (and has never been) a meritocracy. If you’re born poor, you’re likely to die poor no matter how hard you work. The poor people you look down on as being ‘lazy’ are smart enough to know the odds. It’s only people’s elitist attitude that keeps them from seeing that.

  7. BrianB

    Let me put it another way. Philippine history does not exist in a vacuum. We are Filipinos yes, but before we are Filipinos, we are humans. Now, I don’t give a damn anymore if we achieved freedom on our own or it was given to us. If you look at it logically, since freedom is inherent, the means towards freedom is irrelevant. People have to be free. Even if the Filipino people lacks enthusiasm for freedom, the state of the modern world dictates it.

    Another problem with these old analyses you have been quoting is that like my mother and father Leon Ma. and Jose Rizal and Locsin are obsessed with the primary idea of having food on the table and a roof on one’s head. Yes, in those times, before the war and just after the war we can understand why having food and shelter is all the human rights Filipinos know. It’s a different time today. Have no food? Ask the U.N. Have no shelter, ask the NGOs. You see, this is not charity giving per se but a duty each human being takes upon itself in our modern world. Human Rights has been universally declared. Few nations take the universality of human rights seriously but the rational mind cannot but accept that when capable, human beings whatever nationality is compelled to help other human beings lacking these rights. This is not simple idealism but a necessary proposition if one wishes to think rationally. In other words, political, economic, artistic thinking and all other forms of civilized discourse is contingent upon the premise of universal human rights. We cannot be rational without it. It is a necessity of modern thought.

  8. cvj

    Silent Waters, my response to you is under moderation. In the meantime, i’ve reposted it in my blog if you want to read it.

  9. Bencard

    brianb, i think you are missing the point. i think freedom in its purest form is inherent in every individual and vested at the moment of birth. the freedom of choice, even the choice to do evil, is a right that even GOD, for those who believe in Him/Her, would not second-guess or interfere with. however, he who choose to do evil should suffer its consequences. this is why we have laws that are supreme and which can mete out earthly punishment for wrongful exercise of “freedom”.

    i think what we are concerned here with is the “right” to do what is good, what is right, fair and reasonable. i believe that what rizal, and others like him, were saying is that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the filipino people to exercise the freedom to choose what is good, etc. without adequate education and enlightenment.
    i think, in general, we have been “educated” the wrong way. either that or we are indeed a “vacuous” kind of people, to borrow an epithet from benignO (which, i think, is not too far from being true).

  10. BrianB

    Bencard,

    Don’t we already have laws, aren’t our laws copied from the US and elsewhere and aren’t we constantly copying the laws of others? I don’t believe it’s a matter of right and wrong choices even in our selection of leaders. Our constitution alone is enough to keep this country in good working order.

    The underlying problem is that we have never believed in these laws in the first place. We adopt the laws of the West simply to put up a civilized facade. What really goes behind this facade are the multitude of “unwritten laws” that are both ad hoc and inherited being put to bear undermining what is written on paper.

    As per Manolo’s quotes. I think it is too insistent in blaming the character of the people for their state when we already have enough laws that should’ve prevented such a state? Besides, aren’t people free to choose their attitude in life. Let’s say we don’t know what is good and we are not a reasonable people. So what? This does not mean we should be separated from our rights.

    The law should reflect the people’s beliefs and call it the Emperor’s New Clothes but our laws are already civilized, rational and modern (most of it anyway) and we expect our lives are, too.

  11. BrianB

    I can’t think straight right now, so let me try one more time:

    I always like going back to the Bill of Rights and what it represents in toto. What it represents is a free people with food to eat and a roof over their heads and the freedom and the means, through our the nation’s institutions, for achievement. That’s what it means by having the Bill of Rights. That is the law. It doesn’t say that we have to know shit or have to be a disciplined, hard-working people.

    Our current situation runs contrary to what is provided in the Bill of Rights. So what does this mean? This means the law is not really the law. Why? There are people undermining it. Who are these people? Is it the masses because they lack the character for it? Because they were educated the wrong way? No. In fact, being uneducated and miseducated has nothing to do with being oppressed. That is my point here. I am educated but I am oppressed. You must have been oppressed, too, one time or another. Manolo probably was never oppressed. See what I mean? Character has nothing to do with it. Leadership has. And power has.

  12. DevilsAdvc8

    Our current situation runs contrary to what is provided in the Bill of Rights.

    Character has nothing to do with it. Leadership has. And power has.

    and guess who’s leading us?

    Manolo probably was never oppressed

    and how would you know?

  13. DinaPinoy

    I agree with you that corruption in the place of residence is one of the determinants of how a person will improve his lot in life.

    corruption is present in every society. even rich nations. it is up to an individual (freedom of choice to be evil or good as bencard said) how to deal with it. sure, the government has a big role in a society and it will be harder (or easier when you know how to bribe?) to achieve one’s goals if corruption is a way of life.

    being born poor is not an excuse. how many success stories we have read/witnessed already?

    i personally know of a certain family of 7. the parents were both public school teachers. through decent hard work, the children finished college. the first born helped as she graduated first, the 2nd did the same and so forth.

    even in america, some people chose to be ‘beggars’.

  14. BrianB

    Don’t blame the people. This country has everything it needs on paper. Blame the government.

  15. vic

    vic, that story is just another version of Orwell’s Animal Farm

    Devil, scroll back for my first entry on the Mouseland that cleared moderation and chech what had the storyteller (the mouse) accomplished during his more than 40 years of political career. More than all the Cats combine in the history of our nation. That is why he is celebrated as the Greatest of All…as he was once suspected of being a Bolshevik, lucky this was not Rusia…or ??

  16. ay_naku

    You see, this is not charity giving per se but a duty each human being takes upon itself in our modern world. Human Rights has been universally declared. Few nations take the universality of human rights seriously but the rational mind cannot but accept that when capable, human beings whatever nationality is compelled to help other human beings lacking these rights. – BrianB

    I don’t always get BrianB or where he’s coming from, but his statement above, that I get, and I fully agree with (give or take a couple of possible gray areas.) And since we can’t always expect people to voluntarily help and share and just treat others fairly, Pres. Magsaysay’s oft-quoted statement should come in handy: “he who has less in life should have more in law.”

  17. Ronnie

    Silent Waters, yes the political system sucks. And I reiterate, people see no hope in Mrs. Arrroyo and the political system. You can’t remove her from the equation.

  18. Silent Waters

    CVJ

    But you never did answer my question: My question was how would you deal with people who were able to get themselves out of poverty and became rich because of sheer hard work and ability? You focused on what YOU think is my bias against the masses.

    You’re not the only one who knows how to observe. I have been observant enough with the so called downtrodden to know their attitudes in life. You’re certainly right, they certainly have a defeatist attitude like you suggested yourself, since they know the odds.

    So you admitted yourself you condone this defeatist attitude. As if there are no instances of people being able to pull themselves out of poverty into the middle class.

  19. Silent Waters

    Ronnie

    Yes you can. They’re two different animals. It’s required that they should be dealt with

  20. DevilsAdvc8

    Don’t blame the people. This country has everything it needs on paper. Blame the government.

    equal blame can be laid at both, i think.

    vic, i was not disagreeing with you. am just pointing out the story your are referencing is very similar to Animal Farm.

  21. cvj

    My question was how would you deal with people who were able to get themselves out of poverty and became rich because of sheer hard work and ability? – Silent Waters

    You realize that most of the rich folks would claim that they got rich ‘through hard work and ability’, so we’ll need to do some due diligence:

    1. I’d check if they’re really paying the right taxes (direct or indirect) or do not engage in smuggling or aid and abet those who do.

    2. I’ll make sure that they don’t use their riches to cultivate connections with politicos.

    3. If they belong to the 300 (or thereabouts) wealthiest families, i’d ask them how they can give back to the Society that allowed them to become rich in the first place. This give back program should then be implemented and monitored by independent parties (e.g. NGO’s).

    4. For the big landowners, i’d make sure that their lands are subjected to Land Reform as per the law.

    5. For the rest of the rich, I’d also ask them for help on how to make doing business in the Philippines easier for everyone (including themselves). I’d also ask them to police their own ranks of would-be smugglers, tax evaders and cronies.

    6. I’d advocate legislation and economic policies that encourages rich people to keep their capital inside the Philippines, or at least discourage them from moving them out. This is to help avoid capital strikes.

    You’re certainly right, they certainly have a defeatist attitude like you suggested yourself, since they know the odds. – Silent Waters

    If you acknowledge that the odds are what they are, then you would realize that what you label as a ‘defeatist’ attitude is a rational one.

    You are among the luckier ones because you beat the odds and were born rich(er) than the rest. That luck entitles you to be thankful but that doesn’t entitle you to adopt a attitude of superiority towards the unluckier ones.

    being born poor is not an excuse. how many success stories we have read/witnessed already – DinaPinoy

    You are assuming that majority of the poor ‘choose’ to be beggars and have not been working as hard as that family of teachers. That’s an elitist attitude similar to that of Silent Waters’.

  22. vic

    We have to accept the fact that no matter what, there is only enough pie for all of humanity. Some will get a chunk of it, some will get a tiny piece, some maybe the leftover crump and there are still who may have nothing.

    Now enter an institution called the Government. It is empowered to take a look at that piece of pie and see who is getting the biggest piece of chunk, in case of the Philippines, there is Lucio Tan, the Owners of Shoe Mart, the SMC and the rest of the Big Corporate shareholders, and tell him that he will take a chunk out of his share for the other segments of the society who may have nothing after the partition is done, after taking a share for its labour and in order to that, he will pass a law that will enforce that power and we call it taxation.

    This process has been followed to the letter, but somewhere along the way, there was a big pothole, where the Government and the Taxpayer (that’s the name of the Pie Eater now) was able to hide for a little while and did some haggling and I can only suspect that this could be the conversation that went inside the pothole. Ok, the taxpayer said, I’ll you the pie, but just a tiny winy bit, keep a tinywiny bit and to the other pie eaters the even tiniest winny bit…the corruption was born and it grows and keep growing….

  23. Silent Waters

    I did not assume that everybody who’s downtrodden and poor is lazy. Nor do I I have this moral superiority complex you accused me of having.
    CVJ

    You are the one who implied that they have a defeatist attitude and in fact reinforced it in your reply to me.

    In the same way you accused me of having a moral superiority complex over the poor, you yourself have the same moral superiority complex over the rich. Please look at yourself in the mirror. For you, everybody who became rich is presumed to be smugglers, tax evaders, freeloaders. Di ba yan din ang accusation mo sa akin, everybody who is poor is presumed to be lazy? Ang hirap sa iyo, if it benefits your argument, ok lang to make presumptions. If it doesn’t agree, I am the one assumed to be presumptuous and morally ascendant.

    Now, as for assuming they choose to be poor. In some sense, yes, they do to some extent. When they spend their money on booze, gambling, women, drinking, etc. I will say they choose to be poor. The only argument they ever gave me when I question them why they do these unproductive activities is that it’s for them to forget their problems. BAR NONE YAN. THat’s the stock answer. Ikaw, nagtatanong ka ba or you presume otherwise? Why couldn’t they spend it on more productive activities. Start a small business? Around 20 years ago, I help a poor person with 1000 pesos loan and he parlayed it into a small productive business and is probably doing between 100k a month now. Of course, 1000 pesos doesn’t do much nowadays pero ano ba naman yung you save the money kahit 100 pesos per week suweldo and in half a year to a year, start a small business. SO you tell me, who would not think they’re tamad? Tinuruan mo na, di pa rin ginawa. Kahit the rewards are small? All businesses start out with small rewards naman ah? Siguro ikaw kasi, gusto mo instant yaman. Walang hirap. Let’s redistribute the wealth to everybody. Yan ang concept mo. Guess what? Ginawa na ng gobyerno yung pag redistribute ng land to some extent, anong ginawa ng ilan sa mga beneficiaries, di ba binenta uli sa original land owners yung iba? Now, you’re going to say, the government should provide help for them. So ano ngayon, welfare state na advocacy mo? Hay naku, kaya nga di maalis ang mendicant mindset…lahat iaasa sa gobyerno at sa mga mas may abilidad at galing sa buhay. Yun ang gusto, eh di balik tayo dun sa “from each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs”

    Being defeeatist a rational one? Maybe for you. Baka ganun ka kasi, kaya nga your thesis is to just confiscate. Kasi wala nang pag asa talaga kundi ang kunin pinaghirapan ng iba.

    I don’t condone tax evading, smuggling and other illegal activities, but for you to make a wholesale accusation of the elites and the middle class smacks of presumptuous ness on your part.

  24. Silent Waters

    As for your proposal, I do agree with most of what you would like to happen except pray tell, how do you do it logistically? Ang gaganda ng mga concepts mo. Very utopian nga eh. Heaven on earth talaga kung kayang gawin iyan. In fact, ang matatawag ko diyan basically is that you change the concept of property rights in our country. May pakialam na ang lahat ng mamamayan sa mga pinaghirapan mo.

    Maybe I should get into your bank account in Singapore and see how much I can confiscate para maipamigay ko sa mga mahirap sa atin.

  25. sparks

    My question was how would you deal with people who were able to get themselves out of poverty and became rich because of sheer hard work and ability? – SW”

    This is what people like me and CVJ would call, a bourgeois mentality. Its a fiction we need to tell ourselves so we can sleep at night not racked by guilt.

    People do not get rich on their own. If they run businesses, their businesses are not run by gnomes. They are run by other people. So, your grandparents did not get rich by dint of their own hard work and ability. They needed other people’s hard work and ability as well to do that.

  26. sparks

    oops. i forgot to close the tag. 🙁

  27. cvj

    Silent Waters, as a Filipino, it is not hard to feel morally superior to the rich especially since, as a class, they have contributed so little to the country compared to their counterparts in neighboring countries. I don’t think everybody who became rich are ‘smugglers, tax evaders and freeloaders’. I believe a lot of them are also rent-seekers who cultivate political connections in order to get ahead. A lot of businessmen, especially within the Chinese business community choose to remain apathetic or otherwise kow-tow to whoever is in power which is the classic Balimbing mentality.

    On the other hand, I also believe that there are those who became rich because they are enteprising, frugal and hard working. If you claim to belong to the latter, then i’ll take your word for it. Anyway, i understand that these are not mutually exclusive categories.

    As for the middle class, i’m a member so i know from whereof i speak. There is of course, a segment that is engaged but the rest are apathetic and have foolishly chosen to do what is politically expedient.

    As for your own moral superiority complex over the poor, what you’ve denied in the first paragraph, you’ve went out of your way to affirm in the rest of your comment.

    Just to clarify, you’re arguing against a strawman version of my proposals. I didn’t propose redistributing your wealth, unless of course you belong to one of the 300 wealthiest families or are a big landowner, in which case, i’d tell you that it’s about time we do to our very rich what our East Asian neighbors (both communist and non-communist) did half a century ago.

    Take time to study some Philippne history so you’ll see what i see. As far as current events is concerned, read about what’s happening to the Sumilao farmers for a start.

  28. Silent Waters

    Oh I see…it still doesn’t change the fact that you’re changing the concept of property rights in our country, doesn’t it? Who’s to say who’s the top 300? You, me, sino? It’s easy to say everybody will be neutral. Ikaw ba magiging neutral? Wala kang kamag anak na di mayaman?

    Next, so after do away with first 300? Kulang pa siguro…tirahin na rin natin yung next 300 di ba? Kulang eh…hanggang masatisfy lahat. di ba? Eventually it trickles down to you and me. WHo’s to decide when it stops. Ikaw uli?

    Oh yeah, throw me the sumilao argument. You never did answer my question though….after land reform, then what? We must support them pa ? What? You so much like to believe in the mendicancy concept. I’d rather teach them how to fish than to just give them the fish…oh di ka rin naniniwala diyan….just keep giving them the fish…and kung kulang, get it from another person who was able to fish a lot more, isn’t it????

  29. cvj

    Ang gaganda ng mga concepts mo. Very utopian nga eh. Heaven on earth talaga kung kayang gawin iyan. – Silent Waters

    I think if the rich had vision and love of country, it would be best for everyone. Abe Margallo called this the elite’s ‘Bayanihan Pact’. I suggest you read his blog entry on this topic.

    http://www.redsherring.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-to-do-with-philippine-oligarchs.html

    In fact, ang matatawag ko diyan basically is that you change the concept of property rights in our country. May pakialam na ang lahat ng mamamayan sa mga pinaghirapan mo. – Silent Waters

    Try to step out of what Sparks referred to as your bourgeois mentality and try to look at it from a less emotional and more clinical standpoint. Reform of property rights has been one of the keys to the economic takeoffs of our neighbors.

  30. cvj

    Silent Waters, i realize the ‘teach a man to fish…’ proverb has wisdom to it and, as a bonus, is convenient for you rich folks. I’m not against it and i believe that we should demand (and expect) a lot from the productive poor once they are emancipated. However, we first need to enable them and help them develop their capabilities and, in this matter, other countries have shown the way. The NIC’s, for example, first implemented a program of land redistribution. This gave the emancipated farmers the purchasing power which in turn helped them develop their local industries which in turn was the basis for their export-led growth.

    In the case of the Sumilao farmers, land redistribution also involves justice. The Sumilao farmers are not asking for something they have not worked for.

  31. Silent Waters

    CVJ

    Sorry…this is who I am. I am shaped by what I grew up with. Equality for me does not have the same connotation as you or Sparks. For me, equality means every person has a right to take advantage of his or her abilities, talents and hard work to get to what he aspires for. If obstacles are in the way, it’s up to that person to do something about it. HIndi yung puro complaint lang ang gagawin, hindi naman gawan ng paraan.

    For me, it’s equal opportunity to do what he/she wants to do. For you, it’s equal share in the wealth, even if he/she doesn’t deserve it.

    If it’s burgis mentality for you, then so be it. For you, being poor gives them a God given right to just take away what others have worked for all their lives.

    Now, as usual, you will always have to counter as you always want to have the last say, so I will tell you. Uunahan na kita, I am not saying the country has equal opportunities. I am saying your version of what it could be is different from mine. Baka kung anu-ano pa ang ilagay niyo sa bibig ko kasi kailangan niyong may last say.

    And oh please, stop trying to convince me of the “error” of my ways. I will never have the same mindset as you. Basta hintayin ko na lang kapag ikaw na ang naging number 300 sa pinakamayaman sa Pilipinas and let them take your hard earned money. Let’s see what you’ll do then. I hope you’ll walk the talk.

  32. Silent Waters

    CVJ

    Oh by the way, talagang sobrang sama naman kaming mga burgis eh.

    Kulang pa rin yung mga tulong na ibinibigay namin sa aming mga kapwa. Kulang pa rin yung mga ibinibigay namin tulong na hindi namin inaanunsyo sa madla. Kulang pa rin ang mga tulong ng kapwa kong Chinese Pinoys na nagtatayo ng mga eskuwelahan sa mga iba’t ibang lugar upang makatulong mapuno sa kakulangan ng gobyerno. Kulang pa rin talaga ang mga tulong na ibinibigay namin tuwing may mga samang panahon.

    Sobra namin kasing masama at sakim, kulang eh. Buti pa kayo, mga bagong bayani, nagpapadala ng dolyares sa bansa natin. Kaming nandito na nagbibigay ng mga trabaho, sobrang sama talaga.

  33. Manila Bay Watch

    “Oh by the way, talagang sobrang sama naman kaming mga burgis eh.” — Silent Waters

    Just a note, Silent Waters. I appreciate your posts and I think you raise good points in many of them but thought think you should know something about cvj.

    It is wrong to “declassify” cvj as other than as your fellow “burgis” just because he points out what’s wrong in the Philippine elitist and middle classes — I don’t believe that he is from the proletariat nor is he from Tondo.

    I’m of the opinion that the fact that cvj can write about the drawbacks of the elitist class or wannabe elitits (aka hypocritical “petit bourgeois”) is because he’s from the middle class.

    Like you, cvj was schooled in the best middle and upper-middle class and elitist schools in Pinas but that did not stop him from seeing what is wrong with the so-called “burgis” and worse, in the petit bourgeois education (assure you petit bourgeois is not a compliment) and the reality of life.

    I think, you should credit cvj for seeing through to the problems caused by the warpness of values in many in the elitist or “burgis” class instead of raising his points in derision.

    Life is a continuing education — it doesn’t and should stop at being “burgis.”

  34. Silent Waters

    MBW

    I certainly agree with what you said and appreciate it as much. I never thought that all elites and middle class people are saints. But I don’t really like it when he makes sweeping generalizations on people. In the same way he doesn’t like it when I make sweeping generalizations about the masses.

    He’s been missing my point entirely. I do understand where he’s coming from. I do know there are people who are tax evaders, and smugglers, and rent seekers in our midst. And obviously, these people must be taken cared of accordingly by the courts. But he should also be aware that there are also hard working people who were able have to get themselves out of poverty and became one of the riches persons in the Philippines. Do we fault them for that?

    I don’t also agree with the implication he makes. That because one is poor, one should just have a defeatist attitude since there’s no point in working hard to improve one’s lot. Maybe we’re just from two schools of thought. I always believed that one should be able to rise up to the challenge despite the odds. For him, if the stack is against you, there is no point in even trying to rise up to the challenge. I really have major problems with that.

    I do understand that my background biases my opinion to some extent but don’t take away the fact that I am also a person who can separate the chaff from the wheat. Hindi lang naman siya ang may monopoly sa critical thinking. Maybe He did grow up seeing the injustices that his fellow middle class/elites have inflicted on the masses and it’s what made him what he is today. Maybe his education made him a more caring person then. I don’t know. My own background says that my grandparents and my parents never harmed anybody, gave people work, contributed to the economy and overall quality of life of the surrounding area. So that’s why maybe my opinion is diametrically opposed to his.

    His ideas of confiscation bothers me also. For me, who decides and judges who are the 300 riches families in the Philippines. Question is , why 300? why not 100? why not 1000? who made this rule? who says you’re rich family number 300 and they’re number 301? Now if they resists, do you jail them, shoot them just because their crime is that they’re rich? Just because they’re not willing to share their blessings?

    Again, I do understand the underlying principles behind land redistribution. But we have tried that before. and he’s right, it’s because the law was watered down by the elites in their favor. But in the instances where the land was ACTUALLY given to the farmers, what happened? there are quite a number of instances which the farmers themselves sold the land back to the original owners, di ba? (and I am not talking about the Luisita case). With the way he generalizes, it’s still the elites’ fault the farmers can’t hold on to the land that was given to them. Yun ang problema ko, because they’re poor, they are given all the leeway not to be responsible for their actions.
    Eh di, mas mabuti pala maging poor, kasi I don’t have to be responsible for my actions anymore. No wonder the poor has a mendicant attitude, eh puede kasi maging irresponsible.

  35. Silent Waters

    MBW

    As a last point, I credit CVJ with the fact that he was able to diagnose the problem. I do agree with him on what’s ailing the country. Hindi naman yun ang issue ko with him. I am questioning the solution he proposes and the assumptions behind them.

  36. cvj

    Silent Waters, you state your case well. As i said, i acknowledge the existence of the hard working and enterprising among the rich. I also acknowledge the existence of the mendicant mentality among the poor. However, i believe that the poor in general is as hard working and enterprising as the rest of Philippine Society and the problem is that they live in a system with the odds stacked against them. We, who are luckier in life, need to help change that system so our economy can start living up to its full potential.

  37. Silent Waters

    I do agree that helping change that should be part of the mission in our lives.

  38. rego

    I was in Perlas ng Silangan Restaurant last night. Its very very rare that go to this place. Di ko kasi feel masyado ang place na eto kahit na sya ng pinakamalaki at popular dito kasi ang crowd ay snobish, TH na pa sosi at may pagka showbiz pa compared to the barkdahan crowd of Baryo) If not for my new my assitant who is the the alternate lead singer of the band performing last night and really insisted that I watch their gig, I will not go the place. Id rather be in Baryo kahit hinid masyong magaling yung band na naksalang last night.

    Well enjoy na rin ako. My new assitant delivered a very intense and enjoyable performance of the 80s new wave and rock and roll songs that really move me and made my night. And I realized that he is the best and most talented lead singer of all the bands here.

    Plus, my two closest barkadas happen to sit beside our table. That turn-out to be a very enjoyable Sabado night!

    Anyways, what really caught my attention is the galery of Philippine Presidents in the front wall facing the audience that serves as the backround of the bands performing there.

    In one of the dull moments, (naka break yung band na tumtugtog, di ako makarelate sa joke ng singalong master at naninigarilyo yung mga barkada ko sa labas), I was left with nothing but to stare on the pictures of Cory, FVR, Erap, and Gloria for about an hour. To entertainment my self I tried asking myself seriously as to will be my favorite among the president. No citeria at all. Bast yung feeling ko lang that instant.

    Ten years ago I know very well that Cory is my top favorite. But last night, it turned out that Gloria is my top favorite, followed by FVR, then Cory and my least faovirite is Erap. I dont even know why. But that how I feel last night.

    Anyway

  39. mlwnag

    Ang cholesterol ang siyang unang dahilan kung bakit naghirap ang Pilipinas. Ibinagsak nito ang industriya ng pagniniyog na nagdulot ng sobrang kahirapan sa Southern Luzon, Bicol at Mindanao. Mahirap baguhin ang taniman ng niyog sa ibang halaman. Kaya tuloy maraming sumapi sa NPA.

    Year 1600 overseas na ang Pinoy. Pagnayari ang galleon sa Cavite City, tutulak na papuntang Acapulco,Mexico sakay Pilipino. Padating sa Acapulco lalakad puntang Vera Cruz. Sakay na naman ng panibagong barko puntang Europa. Siguro, pilipino ay tripulante ng mga barkong hinahabol ng mga piratang Bitoy. Huwag magtaka kung bakin maraming Pilipinong gustong mag-abroad. Nasa dugo na iyan. Nakabawi ang economiya ng Britain after PM John Major dahil sa pagtatrabaho nila sa abroad. Mga taxi driver nga sa London ay nagiging supervisor sa Saudi.

    Si Rizal ang Nostradamus ng Asia. Nahulaan niya ang lahat ng mangyayari sa Pilipinas at sa Pilipino:
    – ang paggagumon sa alak na Ama ni Cripin at Basilio
    – Ang child labor sa dalawang bata
    – si Sisa ay biktima ng domestic violence
    – ang pagiging sugarol at drug addict ni Kapitan Tiago
    – Ang aabroad ni Ibarra para makuhang muli ang kaniyang sisisinta
    – Ang NPA na si Elias
    – Ang kalagayan ng mga pamantasan sa maynila
    – Ang panghuhuli ng kidlat ni Pilosopo Tasyo kahalintulad ng cellphone

  40. mlq3

    mlwnag, maganda nga yung punto mo. naiisip ko din yan -na nasa dugo natin ang paghihilig sa paglakbay sa ibang bansa. eh dun din naman tayo nanggaling -sa paglalakbay sa iba’t ibang mga isla…

  41. Manila Bay Watch

    “Nakabawi ang economiya ng Britain after PM John Major dahil sa pagtatrabaho nila sa abroad. Mga taxi driver nga sa London ay nagiging supervisor sa Saudi.” — mlwnag,

    Ang totoo ay maraming Britons ang napilitan na magtrabaho sa ibang bansa nuong panahon ng recession sa Britain in the 70s panahon ni Thatcher dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay sa UK (napilitan nga ang Britain na humingi ng tulong sa IMF) at karamihan ng mga mayaman ay nagibang bansa dahil sa taas ng taxes (umabot ng kalokohan na mpagbayad ng 99% ang mga mayaman na Britons).

    Pero kahit ganoon, ang kaibahan ng mga Britons na nagtrabaho sa abroad noon dahil sa kahirapan sa bansa nila sa mga Pinoy OFWs ngayon, ay karamihan sa kanila ay hindi nagtrabaho ng domestic help jobs at ng pinakamababang trabaho gaya ng ating OFWs at hindi na-experience ng mga overseas working britons ang maraming problema ng ating OFWs sa middle east at sa ibang lugar.

    At karamihan ay umuwi maliban lang ang kaunting taon — no place like home sabi nga — samantalang ang kinarahimhan ng ating OFWs ay mag ti-TNT huwag lang mapauwi sa Pinas.

  42. Bencard

    mwb, sa tingin ko, marami din ang mga brits na nagtrabaho bilang dw (nannies) nuong panahong nabangit. di ba karaniwan silang na- portray sa tv situation comedies as “eccentric” maids (e.g. ms. naugatuck). btw, how about that brit nanny who was prosecuted for child abuse in the boston area a few years ago, to cite one example?

  43. Silent Waters

    AN interesting commentary from Mr. Lito Banayo in his Dec. 12 column:

    Land or jobs?

    IT’S all fine to sympathize with the so-called “plight” of the Sumilao marchers. City folk tend to think that poor farmers deserve all the land they could get from “greedy” land-owners. Indeed, some are greedy to the extreme, as we still see in some areas in Negros, and as our fathers used to see in Pampanga. The history of civil strife in our country has often been tied to the lack of “land” in our countryside.

    But is it really land per se that matters? Or is it economic opportunity? Should ownership of land be the determinant of social justice, or should it be the productivity and resultant income from the land that should matter most? For that matter, is the security provided by land ownership better for a country mired in poverty than the security of jobs and greater income?

    My family used to own 142 hectares of land in Davao City, 24 kilometers northwest of the commercial center and three kilometers east of the Calinan poblacion. My parents did not inherit the land. They bought it in 1961, and gradually farmed it, a part-time industry I admit, because we were into commerce more than agricultural pursuits. By 1992 though, we decided to give it up to agrarian reform, largely because none of us children were interested in farming some 100 hectares of rolling land that required more investments to become productive and profitable. Since there were four of us to inherit, we were left with 20 hectares, basically the pomelo orchard that our folks grew.

    Of the almost 50 farmer-beneficiaries that DAR awarded the 122 hectares to, only 12 really worked on our farm. Where the MARO got the three dozen others we do not even know. Of the 12 who really worked in our pomelo orchard, the children of four are still in my mother’s employ. I have also caused the employment of three in government agencies. When I sold the remaining 20 hectares to an agricultural corporation in 1995, it was partly to ensure that the farmer-beneficiaries could be employed as plantation workers. In the end, most of the land reform beneficiaries had leased their farm lots to the corporate plantation.

    The farmers did not actually till the land; they became landowners who leased their lands. The productivity of the land was not because ownership was diffused, but because some other corporation took over.

    In the case of Sumilao, some facts need to come to light. First, how many of the marchers for land actually farmed the 144-hectare Quisumbing estate? Second, how many of them have already been awarded CLOAs in an adjoining estate subjected to agrarian reform, the Salvador Carlos estate of 65 hectares? Third, would these farmers be better off working themselves or their children in a modern piggery being put up by the country’s largest food conglomerate, San Miguel, which bought the land from the Quisumbings? In short, is it income that matters, or merely title to the land?

    This is the core principle that we as a nation should decide. We have been taught by our schools that land ownership should be diffused to the poor, which is why we instantaneously commiserate when poor farmers fight for their pieces of land. But our own knowledge of economics tells us that productivity is best achieved where economies of scale exist, and scale is certainly not two hectares of land. We have furthermore a government that believes it has done its job once it has awarded land titles to the marginalized. The result is that the nation’s agricultural production cannot cope with the demand for food from the cities, and the farmer beneficiaries are worse off than they were when they were tenants under a “benevolent” landowner.

    This is not a brief for the return of share tenancy. This is a brief for plain economic sense, realizing that after two generations of “reform”, farm productivity has not gone up due to the parceling out of lands; and beneficiaries, except for those whose lands have become precious real estate due to proximity to urban centers, have not become financially better-off. We used to think that land reform as it was done in Japan and Taiwan would be our model for growth. These countries became powerful industrial centers; we have destroyed what little industry we have used to have, but that’s another long story. Worse, we have marginally productive farm lands that cannot even produce the food we have to eat each day, and our farmers are worse off because all they have is land from which the income is inadequate even to feed their own children.

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