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Brainless in the battle
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on December 11, 2007 114 Comments 10 min read
Both Sides Resorting to Old Scripts Previous The Explainer: Military Justice Next

It’s official: One more time for ‘Cha-cha’: House committee revives talks on Charter Change. Once more unto the breach!

Similar points were apparently raised a year ago, see Information Processing, but here’s an article that caught my eye: The Battle for Brainpower. And serendipitously, after encountering the article in Fortune this appeared in Inquirer.net: World’s leading schools set up campuses in Singapore. And to think that last year, at a discussion in Miriam College, Atom Henares Araullo lobbied against constitutional amendments because it would open up Philippine schools to foreign ownership (the students, to put it mildly, gave Atom skeptical looks).

We’ve made some modest gains in terms of attracting Korean students, but have obviously lost out in that our neighbors used to send their talent to Philippine schools in the 50s to the 70s but don’t do so, now; I understand the Asian Institute of Management, a pioneer in MBA’s in our region, is faring pretty badly because Singapore can boast of tie-ups with foreign schools and (for a time, though I suppose, not now) the weakness of the peso versus the dollar.

Schools are shutting down long-established departments, many survive on the cash cow that is nursing or IT; others have trouble keeping faculty though I suppose it isn’t as bad as grade school and high school, where in too many cases teaching is a “those who can, do, those who can’t, teach” option.

Update on the signature campaigns: Expel Tonyo Trillanes From The Senate (42 on December 3, and 154 today); Condemn the Mutiny at the Manila Peninsula (132 on December 3, and 193 today); Calling for the immediate resignation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro and for the Holding of Special (“Snap”) Elections within 60 days (3,469 on December 3, and 3,500 today). This is interesting to me, because efforts have been made to get those anti-Trillanes campaigns to snowball -but why haven’t they?

Conrado de Quiros, who writes,

They didn’t particularly like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, they said, but surely better to have civilian rule than a military one?

My answer then, as now, is that I’m not so sure that Arroyo naturally represents civilian rule and the restive sectors of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) the military one. At the very least, my impression is that there has been a sea change in the thinking of rebellious military groups since 1986. I have no doubt that had military rebel group RAM won in the latter half of the 1980s, RAM leader Gregorio Honasan and company would have held the reins of power. I am not so sure Trillanes and/or Lim would have done the same thing. RAM labored from a praetorian mentality — one that said the military should take over to end corrupt rule — while the “Magdalo” (a loose term for a loose association) labors only from the belief they can midwife a civilian regime that would end corrupt rule. At least, their articulated sentiments proclaim so; whether you believe them or not is another matter entirely.

More importantly, while that may be debatable, another point is far less so. That is the question of whether the Arroyo government represents civilian rule or not. My contention has always been that it does not, and the real danger is to imagine it does. No wolf has more successfully worn sheep’s clothing. That regime is the product of a seizure of power, defended by the military top brass against those sectors within the AFP that have tried to protest it.

And Filomeno Sta. Ana III, who says,

The train of thought from these two statements troubles me. My fear is that the ideas they disseminate can be more dangerous to democracy and its institutions than the action taken by Mssrs, Trillanes and Lim and their civilian supporters.

Let’s return to the Satinitigan statement that the rule of law should prevail.

In invoking the rule of law against Trillanes, Lim, Guingona, et al, he reveals his bias. His concept of rule of law is no different from GMA’s rule of law. And why not state explicitly that GMA has to be punished for breaking the law?

The action taken by the Peninsula actors cannot be separated from the stark fact that GMA has broken the rule of law–the Garci tape speaks for itself. GMA, too, has committed numerous impeachable acts. But the impeachment attempts could not prosper because of sinister reasons: the insidious filing of weak complaints by shady characters like Lozano and Pulido and the overgenerous bribes given to the members of the House of Representatives.

To quote the psychologist Steven Pinker, “we frame a situation in different and incompatible ways.” For George Bush, US presence in Iraq is to liberate the country. For the majority of peoples all over the world, it is an invasion. For neoliberals and conservatives, higher taxes are confiscatory. For progressives, higher direct taxes are redistributive.

For some, GMA is the president of the Philippines. For many, she is an illegitimate leader who should be made accountable for impeachable offenses.

It was GMA who committed the original sin of flagrantly breaking the rule of law. It is her illegitimacy that leads to militant acts of defiance like the Peninsula episode. And GMA has continually violated the rule of law. By doing so, the rules of the game have changed. Anyone is justified to pursue his own set of rules.

And it is this frame that GMA opponents can invoke what my colleague Manuel Buencamino describes as the “fountainhead of modern democracy,” found in the American Declaration of Independence. Mr, Buencamino, in his BusinessMirror column (Unbowed and undefeated, 5 December 2007) quotes an important passage in this Declaration: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

make similar points. I find my article Who Will Use the Filipino Soldiers First? from 2005 validated, though.

People in business I’ve talked to say the Peninsula caper has had absolutely no effect on business, which is good. But, Net FDIs fall 77.3% in Sept, dragged by US credit woes. Good news, though: October merchandise exports up 10.5% on electronics rebound. Oh, and RP living standards below Asia’s.

A sobering reflection in “A nation of highwaymen” by Juan Mercado.

Overseas, Thousands in emotional farewell to daredevil Evel Knievel (I didn’t know he was still alive; as a kid I had an Evil Knievel lunch box). The Costs of Containing Iran: Washington’s Misguided New Middle East Policy. A truly appalling development is this: Ifs and Buts: If the CIA Hadn’t Destroyed Those Tapes, What Would Be Different?

That means the two biggest terror trials we’ve had since Sept. 11 were predicated on torture evidence that was then destroyed. The government has argued that al-Qaida operatives cannot be tried because the evidence against them is secret and threatens national security. But the real rationale is much worse: The evidence against them is wholly unreliable…

…Kevin Drum started asking the questions we are posing over the weekend. He pointed out that the tapes would have revealed “not just that we had brutally tortured an al-Qaeda operative, but that we had brutally tortured an al-Qaeda operative who was (a) unimportant and low-ranking, (b) mentally unstable, (c) had no useful information, and (d) eventually spewed out an endless series of worthless, fantastical ‘confessions’ under duress.” Those confessions, and others like them, have been the underpinning for much of the government’s legal assault on the rule of law in recent years, from free and open trials, to secret expansions of executive powers. Certainly Drum is speculating, just like we are. It’s impossible to say for sure what the tapes would have revealed, much less how such revelations might have changed all these recent events. But it’s worth trying to refit the pieces, because this evidence was deliberately obliterated. Otherwise, the CIA’s act of destruction wins.

Closer to home, India’s Press Comes Under Fire. In our region, Malaysia Gets Tough. And all isn’t hunky dory in virtual worlds: Computing: Virtual worlds are being put to serious real-world uses–and are starting to encounter some real-world problems. This part of the article is very exciting:

With the popularity of virtual worlds such as Second Life and games such as “World of Warcraft” and “Sims Online”, companies, academics, health-care providers and the military are evaluating virtual environments for use in training, management and collaboration. Superficially, such uses look a lot like playing a video game. “The thing that distinguishes them from games is the outcome,” says Mr Wortley. Rather than catering to virtual thrill-seekers, the aim is to find new ways for people to learn or work together.

Imagine a virtual Congress, or baranggay! This reminds me of proposals in the past that local government officials be required to play SimCity. But then, there’s this:

Bad behaviour is not the only problem. The growing value of commerce in virtual worlds has provoked interest from the taxman, too. Governments in America, Britain and Australia have all said they are considering a new tax on real-world profits from virtual trade. Mr Castronova is aghast. “Monopoly is not a very fun game if I have to pay a tax every time I buy Boardwalk,” he says. South Korea actually imposed such a tax in July.

One way to deal with unwanted activity, in virtual worlds as in the real one, is to decriminalise and regulate it, rather than trying to outlaw it altogether. That is the approach taken by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), the company that runs “EverQuest II”, a fantasy world of dragons and busty blondes. It found that some 30-50% of customer-service calls concerned scams relating to real-world trade in virtual items. So it divided the game world in two and made trading legal in one part but not the other; players can choose which to play in. As a result, says Greg Short of SOE, the share of calls relating to scams is now less than 10%.

I wonder: there’s surely a large Filipino presence in such virtual worlds, and we have our domestically-popular games like Ragnarok. What sort of participation is there, by Filipinos? Serendipitously, here’s an article giving an overview of the Philippine gaming industry: IP e-Games sees growth, consolidation, in RP online gaming:

Citing industry figures, Tsao said that about 23 to 25 percent of the Internet user base in the Philippines is now playing online games. He stressed that the number could become higher next year since growth is now coming from outside Metro Manila and other key cities in the country.

For IP e-Games, Tsao said it has about 5.5 million subscribers to its online games and about 2.5 million active users. It currently has more than 50,000 concurrent users for its various online games in the Philippines.

In 2007, most of the games that were launched in the Philippines have become free-to-play, which means people could play games for free and pay only if they want to buy items and other in-game requirements to “level up” characters.

And happiness is a Majestic ham! Happiness is also the Christmas bonus, but as quintessentially I blogs, not if heavily taxed.

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  1. i think there no need for the “anti-trillianes” sentiment to snow-ball. any person with a modicum of understanding about what is going on in the country knows, without doubt, what the guy is all about. the mask has been proven to be just that, a mask, not once but thrice; e.g., the glorietta blast misdiagnosed (with reliable witness “in his custody”, kuno) as “orchestrated bombing”, and now, this manila pen exercise in unmitigated stupidity, a repeat of the infamous oakwood show off. but even classic dullness could be dangerous, especially for one elected senator of the land. blame falls squarely in the hands of those misguided souls who voted for him. what a crying shame!

  2. “The Philippines lags behind Indonesia at a GFCF of HK$1,934 (P13,692.72 at HK$1=P7.08), investing only HK$546 in machinery and equipment and HK$1,431 in construction.”

    This is what I keep harping about. What’s happening to all that OFW money pouring in? It just all goes into celphone trinkets, karaoke machines, caregiver courses, pocket money to fund the vices of unemployed relatives, and ocho-ocho parties. Oh and, yes, retirement homes for returning old farts from overseas.

    The capital base of the Philippine economy (the one for actually PRODUCING stuff, remember?) remains utterly and pathetically stunted.

  3. “but even classic dullness could be dangerous, especially for one elected senator of the land. blame falls squarely in the hands of those misguided souls who voted for him. what a crying shame!”

    And that is the tragedy that is Pinoy society. At the end of the day a bunch of morons still CONTINUE voting the same dull bozos into office. 😀

  4. “The Philippines lags behind Indonesia investing only HK$546 in machinery and equipment and HK$1,431 in construction.”

    This is what I keep harping about. What’s happening to all that OFW money pouring in? It just all goes into celphone trinkets, karaoke machines, caregiver courses, pocket money to fund the vices of unemployed relatives, and ocho-ocho parties. Oh and, yes, retirement homes for returning old farts from overseas.

    The capital base of the Philippine economy (the one for actually PRODUCING stuff, remember?) remains utterly and pathetically stunted.

  5. And that is the tragedy that is Pinoy society. At the end of the day a bunch of morons still CONTINUE voting the same dull bozos into office.

    maybe bec only dull bozos run for office?
    smart guys stay away.

    and you think your weighted voting is so smart? all it takes is for the D and E classes to double (or triple) their population and your weighted votes of the middle class won’t matter. if we truly want voting to be limited to only the educated, then require eligibility thru exam. those who pass the exam (abt local govt code, current events, philippine history, duties of each elected official) may be the only ones who can vote. we can take that exam as voter registration. let PRC administer it.

  6. devils:

    the smart guys know that it takes money to run for office. they also know that:

    a. getting elected into office is a thankless job
    b. too many dull bozos with money are there already
    c. good ideas are nothing with support
    d. winning over that kind of support takes more money

    now, on to the smart rich guys. they know that:

    a. getting elected into office is not a smart investment
    b. staying in office is not a smart investment
    c. there are many other smart investments out there.

    so…

  7. The capital base of the Philippine economy (the one for actually PRODUCING stuff, remember?) remains utterly and pathetically stunted.

    I totally agree. Quick someone tell the Ayalas and the Sys to think of something, they’re good at this stuff… wait, what am I saying?

  8. MLQ, you gotta to talk to some people. The Chinese market is waiting. We need to promote English schools for that market. Call center trainees can teach part time. I can teach part time. All of us here can teach part time. Chinese, Chinese, Chinese.

    We’re a lot cheaper than Singapore. Come on. We’re wasting time. Soon every Chinese person is going to be too rich for the Philippines.

  9. I’m quite torn over whether I would comment on Foreign ownership of schools or on the Trillanes thing.

    let’s see. I think Trillanes has this illusion that people would revolt against a civilian though allegedly corrupt government, in favor of military rule… the Filipnos know better… A lot better. They will not allow that the Philippines be yeat another Burma or Pakistan. Trillanes deserve his even-harsher penalties, because he showed his lack of respect to democracy and its institutions by disobeying the court’s order… How could someone promise democracy, when he does not know how to respect it…?

  10. Benigno,

    “And that is the tragedy that is Pinoy society. At the end of the day a bunch of morons still CONTINUE voting the same dull bozos into office”

    Yup, it’s maguindanao that keeps voting for people like Zubiri and Gloria

  11. Benigno,

    “This is what I keep harping about. What’s happening to all that OFW money pouring in? It just all goes into celphone trinkets, karaoke machines, caregiver courses, pocket money to fund the vices of unemployed relatives, and ocho-ocho parties. Oh and, yes, retirement homes for returning old farts from overseas.
    The capital base of the Philippine economy (the one for actually PRODUCING stuff, remember?) remains utterly and pathetically stunted.”

    Businessmen are not stupid. They know they cannot compete against imports and smuggled goods. And those who export cannot compete because of the over valued peso.

    Why is the peso overvalued? Because it is not backed up by a solid economy (production of goods) as you yourself pointed out. The peso is strong because of remittances and hot money to a much lesser extent.

    The big investments coming in are for extractive industries, The long term economic development prospects of those are zilch because it’s no good to extract minerals unless you are going to use them for your own industries. If you export raw materials, then you’re selling the family silver just to stay afloat.

  12. i think there is no need for the “anti-gma” sentiment to snow-ball. any person with a modicum of understanding about what is going on in the country knows, without doubt, what the woman is all about. the mask has been proven to be just that, a mask, not once but many times over; e.g., the Rizal day statement,the Hello Garci scandal,the impeach me capers, Joc joc Bolante, Garci and Bedol escapes, the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal and now, this European junket, an exercise in unmitigated distribution of largesse, a repeat of the infamous Malacanang briberies. double talk could be dangerous, especially for one illegitimate president of the land. blame falls squarely in the hands of those “let’s move on” souls who believed her. what a crying shame!

  13. Ottawa Mayor charged under the criminal code for two offences:

    1…Having or pretending to have influence with the government or with a minister of the government or an official, demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept for himself or another person a reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for co-operation, assistance, exercise of influence or an act of omission.
    2…Solicits, recommends or negotiates in any manner with respect to an appointment to or resignation from an office, in expectation of a direct or indirect reward, advantage or benefit.

    The charges stemmed from an allegations that the Mayor offered an opponent during the 2006 mayoral race to drop out (the complainant was second the last time they had a contest) and would arrange to have him appointed to a Federal Position and re-imburse him his Election Expense.

    Also the Federal Official responsible for the appointment is under investigation by the Police and the Cabinet Minister of which the Position offered is under was asked by the opposition to step aside until the investigation is concluded…

    Go to thestar.com dec 11 canada section for details…

  14. Worst. President. Ever.

    A question that seems to be on everybody’s mind these days turns out to be: Is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the worst President in recent history?

    1)Most Filipinos believe that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is the “most corrupt (president) in the history of the Philippines,” according to results of a survey done by Pulse Asia from October 20 to 31.(GMA News)

    2)A recently concluded informal, unscientific poll of my blog’s viewers found that 80% of votes cast for “Worst President” rate the current presidency as a very serious contender for the dubious title.

  15. “Atom Henares lobbied against constitutional amendments because it would open up Philippine schools to foreign ownership”

    Philippine schools are supposed to be 100% Filipino owned? Since when? My American friend who works at JPMorgan Chase owns shares of FEU.

  16. mlq3, there’s no worst blind than one who is trying to be. at least the real blind uses other senses in lieu of sight.

    i know you own this blog, a free-wheeling, almost unrestricted medium of expression, and you are an authentic,principled journalist. a journalist knows a plagiarism when he/she sees one. plagiarism consists not only of actual copying of words, ideas and syntax. it includes ‘stealing’ one writers composition and articulation (without attribution of any kind). a mechanical change of the person subject of an author’s work product does not make it less than a contemptible plagiarism. i don’t think it has a place in this blog but, then again, it’s your call.

  17. bencard, plagiarism is a serious charge and yes, ought not to be tolerated. but really, please be specific because at nearly half past midnight i am not going to review every comment here to figure things out. i’d appreciate your pointing out who you think is plagiarizing either by means of commenting here or emailing me privately and i will look at it with the seriousness the charge deserves.

  18. btw supremo i haven’t checked but i’d assume the 60-40 rule applies, unless i’m mistaken the 100% filipino rule only applies to media and advertising.

  19. mlq3,please check out my 12/11, 9:00 pm comment and compare it with this entity’s (who goes by the handle ‘dirk pitt’) post of 12/11 at 9:57 pm, and judge for yourself. i’ll abide with whatever you decide, but i do take it seriously. this is not the first time he/she/it has done this here.

  20. brianB, i couldn’t care less if you were “busy”. i don’t expect someone like you to be concerned about my concern. so just carry on and do your business. its just between mlq3, the troll, and me.

  21. It’s probably 60-40. Philippine universities should seriously consider listing in the Phisix to get more funds for expansion. UP included.

  22. @manuelbuencamino

    Businessmen are not stupid. They know they cannot compete against imports and smuggled goods. And those who export cannot compete because of the over valued peso.

    I review media players in my blog and sometimes manufactures forget the duties paid on sample MP4 players they send to me and I have to pay customs myself. You know how much you have to pay in taxes for an $80 MP4 from China? 1,500 pesos. Now, what if government also offers tax holidays on local manufacturers, wouldn’t this result to competitiveness on Philippine-manufactured products? There’s a lot goverment can do to help local manufacturers. All that is needed is the desire to be a manufacturer and product innovator.

    The main problem, I’ve observed, is that capitalists do not think Filipinos are creative or are capable of innovations that can be competitive. It’s not the pricing per se but the actual product. Too bad we are not so callused as the Chinese and simply crank out copy cats on a massive scale.

  23. @manuelbuencamino

    Businessmen are not stupid. They know they cannot compete against imports and smuggled goods. And those who export cannot compete because of the over valued peso.

    I review media players in my blog and sometimes manufactures forget the duties paid on sample MP4 players they send to me and I have to pay customs myself. You know how much you have to pay in taxes for an $80 MP4 from China? 1,500 pesos. Now, what if government also offers tax holidays on local manufacturers, wouldn’t this result to competitiveness on Philippine-manufactured products? There’s a lot goverment can do to help local manufacturers. All that is needed is the desire to be a manufacturer and product innovator.

    The main problem, I’ve observed, is that capitalists do not think Filipinos are creative or are capable of innovations that can be competitive. It’s not the pricing per se but the actual product. Too bad we are not so callused as the Chinese and simply crank out copy cats on a massive scale.

  24. “brianB, i couldn’t care less if you were “busy”. i don’t expect someone like you to be concerned about my concern. so just carry on and do your business. its just between mlq3, the troll, and me.”

    He, he, bencard. I have caught about half a dozen plagiarist in my former work. I had to fire them. A very hard thing to do to fresh graduates. Don’t you think I care?

  25. brianB

    I guess that lack of creativity and innovativeness is also true. But I hope you are not suggesting that the deficiency is genetic. I’m pretty sure the deficiency you point out can be corrected with better schools.

  26. “I guess that lack of creativity and innovativeness is also true. But I hope you are not suggesting that the deficiency is genetic. I’m pretty sure the deficiency you point out can be corrected with better schools.”

    manuel, you didn;t get me. I mean, our capitalists look down on the Filipino, that’s why no venture capital on innovations.

    Bencard, you got to admit, it’s really funny. I hope we learn who the real Dirk Pitt is.

  27. no, brianB, whatever banters we exchange from time to time, i think mb is a responsible, reasonable journalism professional who would not stoop that low for anything, even to “oust” pgma.

  28. to answer mlq’s question, re surveys:

    5. The political opposition is far more media-savvy (hence better able to sway public opinion)than the establishment. More tech-savvy too (hence, more of ’em are online). Have you seen government websites lately? Ew. Clunky bS filled with flashing marquees. You’d think that their web designers were still working off of those on-line HTML tutorials.

  29. “And that is the tragedy that is Pinoy society. At the end of the day a bunch of morons still CONTINUE voting the same dull bozos into office”

    and these dull bozos end up laughing all the way to the bank. looking at the rate these bozos amass wealth, the rate of return of their ‘investment’ is staggering. so staying in office is a ‘smart’ investment.

    where do you think these ‘dull bozos’ came from? another race? they’re from OUR society. we created them. THEY are US. the moment we gave that policeman/guard/govt employee/teacher/immigration officer P50/$5/$10 para hindi tayo ‘maabala’, we are actually creating another bozo and in the process, we become bozos ourselves.

  30. rom, glad you said that. even some lowly defender of pgma, like me, is not “tech-savvy”. that explains my trepidation about setting-up my own blog. i’m kind of computer-shy. i don’t think the likes of toting bunye or ron puno are high-tech either.

  31. mlq3: just in the interest of presenting the data fairly, the figures you cited break down this way:

    Expel Trillanes – increased by 112 signatures, from December 3 to December 11

    Condemn Mutiny – increased by 61 signatures in the same period

    Oust Gloria – increased by 31 signatures in the same period

    And just for comparison, Oust Gloria started 21 October;
    Expel Tonyo started 1 December; and Condemn Mutiny presumably started after 29 November

    Also, because i’m getting a little OCD about this whole thing.

  32. bencard: i think bunye wouldn’t know a pixel if it bit him in the ass; and puno – well, he’s rich enough that he doesn’t need to know how to work a keyboard. LOL

  33. Expel Trillanes – increased by 112 signatures, from December 3 to December 11

    Condemn Mutiny – increased by 61 signatures in the same period

    Oust Gloria – increased by 31 signatures in the same period

    what’s the use of these? majority of pinoys don’t have computers. sure, they have means to access the internet but they do so mostly for intertainment.

    and what’s with this petitiononline thingy? riding on the success of desperate housewives petition? it’s a totally different story.

  34. 5. The political opposition is far more media-savvy (hence better able to sway public opinion)than the establishment.

    i think pgma has more to do with swaying public opinion, not the opposition. issue after issue, scandal after scandal, she’s really swaying public opinions. what’s the opposition doing? sitting pretty, either waiting for gloria to self destruct or the year 2010.

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