Press statements instead of news

I had to cancel my class (Copy Editing and Proofreading) today, because about a third of my students said they wouldn’t be able to make it to Makati (where we were due to interview an editor) because of the transport strike. So far, little actual news and lots of posturing from both sides: MMDA chair says strikers just after media mileage, while NCRPO says Metro Manila situation still normal as transport strike starts and Miitant drivers claim 75% success in Davao – report. But what about actual testimony from the ground (or pictures, even)? Well, there are my students, and there’s this Twitter:

My brother sent me an SMS telling me that the transport strike hit Laguna hard. So many stranded people, he says.

Another Twitter message says:

Cancelling mtgs in Makati. My shirts won’t get washed/ironed today – no housekeeper that comes Tue/Thur.

Another Twitter:

Transport Strike strongly felt here in UPD. No Ikot, Toki, Katip, Philcoa, etc. I had to freaking walk to school arrrgghhh!!!

Yet another Twitter:

Doing an audit in Clark. Still saw PUVs at the entrance, although I also noticed unusually high number of tricycles on the roads from Subic.

Update: Parts of Metro affected by transport strike .

On a related note, see Philippines Without Borders, who takers a look at the MRT, overcrowding, and what he calls “the pain of success.” And recall the chilling observations of [email protected] from some time back (and his rejoinder to himself).

Wrangling over the survey. Jab from one fist: Palace in denial mode on Arroyo corruption: ‘Presidency is not a popularity contest’. Jab from the other: Palace: Pulse survey part of anti-GMA plot. Counterjab: Serge: So what if I paid for poll? From overseas, a cautionary blog entry at The Economist: The tyranny of polls.

An interesting article: ‘Charter change dead’ say administration factotums. What’s interesting is the seemingly seductive logic of spokesmen like the Executive Secretary:

At the palace, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said efforts to amend the Constitution were not a priority of President Arroyo.

Ermita said though Charter change has been the subject of meetings at Malacañang in the past months, he said it would be too early to talk about such issues since the country just underwent two nationwide elections this year.

“The focus of the President is on correct governance and delivery of basic services to the people rather than talk of politics,” Ermita said. “You can’t say it’s totally out but it’s not a priority as of the moment.”

So it’s not a priority, but they’ve been having meetings. So what this is, then, is a little backpedaling to defuse the issue, but keeping it on the back burner to simmer.

A man’s word is his bond? No way. Esperon: Oakwood pact not binding; gov’t coerced.

Happy day for Enrique Razon and friends: Philippine-Chinese group tops Transco bidding. For an analysis of the deal, see Asian Energy Advisors:

What was interesting, I thought, is that Metro Pacific decided not to participate. I’m wondering if they smell a law suit; but I don’t know jack about this.

What I do know is that the numbers we looked at earlier are not reflective of what the bidder’s saw. Because the bid went for $3.95 billion, not the $4.5 billion I mentioned.

This is simple math. The following three assumptions drive a $4.5 billion price:

1. Transco business results in a $500 million annual EBITDA, roughly
2. $170 million in Capex is required over the next five years
3. The owner’s want to achieve an 18% return on equity

One – or more – of those assumptions are incorrect. Perhaps the expected EBITDA is less than $500 million; perhaps more than $170 million is required in Capex. But I’m betting (and remember, I don’t know jack) that the risk adjusted discount rate went way up above 18%. Was it, perhaps, the late breaking issues regarding Ibazeta and the pre-qualification process? The statements by certain Senators? We need to let this play out a little, first.

As Peso defies regional decline, hits 41.31:$1, there’s news that Too-rapid peso appreciation derails business plans. In response, Palace takes up proposal to shift to peso loans.

Overseas, Food prices: Cheap no more and India’s Classrooms Without Borders:

Thus India, already a powerhouse in business process outsourcing and manufacturing centers, is benefiting once again from the death of distance at the hands of the Internet. It is rising as a hub for online education, providing supplemental academic help at any time of the day or night from Indian tutors to students on a raft of subjects – math, English, science, geography and history, among others.

“India is fast emerging as a global online tutoring hub for quality teaching at down-to-earth rates,” opines Dr Prakash Sharma, previously a physics professor at Chennai University and now a tutor at Knowledge Edge, an education portal in Delhi. According to Sharma, what gives India an edge in this market are its untapped pool of English-conversant math, science and engineering graduates, its relatively low office rentals, and tuition fees that are a fraction of what online tutorial companies charge in North America, the United Kingdom, or continental Europe.

This is also an industry in which we have begun to compete.

My column for today is A limited and limiting consensus, which I originally rehearsed here. The office of Miriam Defensor Santiago takes exception to one of my recent columns.

Two columnists buck the conventional wisdom. Lito Banayo says land reform has to be reexamined, and Jaime Garchitorena says ditto in terms of the minimum wage.

Uniffors annotates a fellow Atenean’s (but generations apart) letter; Manila Bay Watch says the annotations can stand on their own as a counter-letter. I agree. Strung together, the annotations make for a cohesive whole:

YOU are suffering from a moral discrepancy. You have placed material well-being above all else. Is that the value you are taught in the Ateneo these days? Economic news was good in the first half dozen years or so of martial law but that did not stop Ateneans like Raul Manglapus, Soc Rodrigo, and Edgar Jopson. Their struggle was not about economic management, it was about justice and freedom. They were fighting for ideals. Ideals don’t fill the stomach but they nurture the spirit. That is what they and we learned as students of the Jesuits, of the Ateneo.

Yes, rule of law should prevail and that’s why those we entrusted to enforce it should not be the first to pervert it. And it is your right and your duty as a citizen to do something about it. How many Garci tapes have to be played, how many times does CBCP head Bishop Lagdameo have to tell you that bishops were given envelop[e]s by Malacanan in July 2006 when the CBCP was deliberating its stand on the second impeachment complaint, how many times do you have be told by Fr Ed Panlilio and Congresswoman Villarosa of Kampi that money was distributed in Malacanan on the eve of the filing of this year’s sham impeachment complaint, how many UN rapporteurs have to report that the military is responsible for many of the reported extrajudicial killings and disappearances and a “climate of impunity” exists, how many corruption scandals, starting from IMPSA to the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard to the smuggling of race horses to jueteng pay-offs to ZTE do you need to hear about before you start thinking someone is mocking the rule of law? Pull your head out of your ass, young man.

Mrs. Arroyo has avoided, evaded, and obstructed legitimate congressional investigations of allegations of cheating, plunder, money laundering, and human rights violations by hiding and intimidating witnesses, making baseless claims of executive privilege, filing sham impeachment complaints, and doling out bribes, how many brain cells do you need to figure out something is wrong and something has to be done about it right away? Why wait until 2010? Why default? Marcos was terminally ill when Ninoy Aquino decided to come home, should he have waited for Marcos to die, it was only a few years away anyway, before coming home to “act on the needs of Filipinos”? “Carpe Diem” is what we were taught when we were students at the Ateneo, is “Sleep on it” what they teach you now?

If the example of Ateneans from Rizal to Jopson have not taught you anything or inspired you in any way, nothing anybody can do will inspire you except of course good economic news.

In Torn and Frayed, a brisk run-through of some Filipino characteristics:

I have worked in Philippine offices for over 10 years now and the simple act of connecting with another person as you pass in the corridor (up go those eyebrows) is one of the pleasures of working with Pinoys. The negative adult baggage that many people from other countries carry with them (“I am too stressed/busy/important/miserable to acknowledge you”) is rarely on view here and in that sense I am forever grateful that Filipinos retain a certain childlike naiveté in their interpersonal relations.

I know you can see a “but” coming, so let me quickly run through a few other aspects of the adult Filipino psyche, not necessarily positive or negative, that seem to have childlike elements: a love of starting but not of finishing; an ability to lose oneself in “the moment”; enjoyment of life; a mania for parties; friendships quickly made and easily dissolved; staring at anyone who looks slightly unusual; adaptability; skill at conflict resolution; an addiction to rumour and gossip; a certain plasticity with the truth; deference to seniors; dependence on the womb of the family; a capacity for empathy; fanatical loyalty to your nearest and dearest, even if they are in the wrong (pakikasama); lack of seriousness; fear of loneliness; an inability to plan; irresponsibility with money; a focus on appearances rather than substance; an infatuation with games and dressing up; quick learning; brilliance at mimicry; a reluctance to admit wrong …

And a stimulating discussion of possible sources:

…I want to make some rough guesses as to why things have turned out this way.

Many “national characteristics” start with patterns of rearing. It is noticeable to me that Philippine children are carried for longer than those in other countries, either by their parents or by yayas. The kids themselves do very little carrying, a habit they are keen to continue into adulthood. By contrast, I notice that even quite small European children in my building are expected to drag their stroller bags on the way to school–I probably wouldn’t have noticed this if I were still in Europe, but this small way of teaching young children self-reliance is not often seen in Filipino families. When it comes to the elite or even middle-class child, there is the maid to make the lunch, the driver to take master or miss to school, the maid to clean up the room, the yaya or parent to help with the homework — in short, a million ways of preventing a child from doing simple everyday tasks for itself.

Into adolescence and early adulthood and we encounter the over-protective Filipino mother. “Call me as soon as you arrive at the restaurant and when you leave. Make sure you take X, Y, and Z with you”, oh Filipino mom, what a boon the cell phone has been to the web you weave.

Into adulthood proper, many children carry on living with their parents long, long after they have flown the coop in other countries. Lacking a decisive push from their parents, master and miss linger in the parental home into their thirties, forties, or fifties–quite a few never leave. Even if children do physically escape their parents, many even to jobs and lives abroad, there remains an emotional dependence that strikes most foreigners as unusual. In fact “dependence” is a word that often appears in discussions of Philippine families.

All this has a positive side. Coming from a society characterized by fractured familial set-ups and mutual alienation, I am struck by the warmth, closeness, and durability of the Philippine family. Yet the world is not a great big family–modern economies have little use for men who cannot tie their shoelaces and women unable to leave home because their driver is sick.

Having said all that, I feel that there is more to be said. Other Asian societies have strong family structures yet they have developed in different ways. My observations have mainly been of middle-class families because that is the world I know–it seems to me that similar patterns can be seen in other socio-economic groups, but I might be wrong in that. Catholicism and the rigid class structure also have a role to play in all this…

Sassy Lawyer on successful food entrepreneurs. the Philosophical Bastard on the kinds of bloggers he’s encountered.

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    • tonio on December 13, 2007 at 10:47 am

    mlq3:

    Other Asian societies have strong family structures yet they have developed in different ways.

    I find this interesting. Despite growing up abroad, the only identification I have with a “strong” family structure is our woefully co-dependent Filipino one. How can one have strong family structures without fostering this co-dependence?

    Of course in my family, we’ve taken the North American model to heart. I haven’t seen my siblings in years, and while they all still live in the house, they only see each other once a week if they’re lucky. And we all seem to be happy that we take great pains not to impose on one another. When I told my sister that I plan to go back to Toronto for work, she immediately said, “kuya, I don’t think we can support you. Make sure you find work before you get here.” wtf? i asked myself, where did that come from?

    But dammit, I think I’m a bit too Filipino for my own family. Because I miss those crazy bastards.

    • hvrds on December 13, 2007 at 11:48 am

    “First and most important, what is happening in credit markets today is a huge blow to the credibility of the Anglo-Saxon model of transactions-
    orientated financial capitalism. A mixture of crony capitalism and gross incompetence has been on display in the core financial markets of New York and London. From the “ninja” (no-income, no-job, no-asset) subprime lending to the placing (and favourable rating) of assets that turn out to be almost impossible to understand, value or sell, these activities have been riddled with conflicts of interest and incompetence. In the subsequent era of “revulsion”, core financial markets have seized up (see charts).” Martin Wolf, FT economist

    What happens when the elite of the capitalist world fall on their faces and run to the state for help? Some may say that it proves Marx’s charge that the administrators of the state are the executive committee of the rich.

    All it means is that Central Banks cannot be trusted to watch the interest of the common good. Moral hazard strikes again. There are different market rules for the elite and one for the rest of us.

    • hvrds on December 13, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    “There is no central bank in the world that is capable of blocking a market trend,” he said. “There is no way that they can impose a peso-dollar exchange rate or to fix it, they will go bankrupt.” Senator Mar Roxas

    Someone should remind the good senator that the PRC, Hong Kong, the GCC, gulf states including S. Arabia except Kuwait which is pegged (another word for fixed) to a basket instead of to the dollar are all bucking the floating rate market in the world. They just pumped in recently additional capital to Citigroup and UBS.

    However Rey ‘the magician’ Tetangco and his band of speculators can’t.

    Another point to consider for the good senator – the BSP cannot go bankrupt. It is state owned. The worst that can happen is inflation that turns into hyperinflation.

    Free the peso and pay off the debts. Theoretically a fully convertible floating rate does not require an international medium. Why is everyone afraid of the big bad free market? “laissez faire” Is a very important strategic tool to create equilibrium and when this happens and produces crisis that is the time that institutions can be created. You cannot preempt history. People have to experience the crisis.

    Note of caution on real estate speculation in the Philippines. When the papers talk of a real estate boom be careful for those that speculate. The top is near. For those who intend to use it for a retirement home or second residence it won’t matter.

    The West has gone through the experience of the Great Depression and they know fully well that in modern industrial societies the loss of credit for housing, cars and consumer spending will lead to a collapse of commercial credit due to a drop in consumption and lead to a serious depression. Hence their move to lower interest rates to preempt a recession which could make the credit crisis even worse and spiral into a depression.

    • cvj on December 13, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Since the next generation of Singaporeans (and maybe Hongkong people) are growing-up with yayas, it will be interesting to find out whether they will turn out to be as ‘child-like’ as the current generation of Filipinos.

    • cvj on December 13, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Land reform is as much about disempowering the rich as it is about empowering the poor. As i previously mentioned in my blog:

    Alesina and Rodrik* found a significant negative effect of the Gini coefficient of the distribution of income on the growth rate. But they also found that this effect becomes insignificant when the Gini coefficient of the distribution of land ownership is also included as an explanatory variable. In other words, inequality in the ownership of land not only is more important for explaining growth than inequality in the distribution of income, it also turns the distribution income into an inconsequential factor. This finding has been corroborated by Deininger and Squire**”

    http://www.cvjugo.blogspot.com/2007/03/land-reform-inequality-and-economic.html

  1. Nice points you raised in your column today, MLQ.

    What I particularly nod my head to is that one where options for “engaging” the Little Girl should take into consideration the realities that fence-sitters and even “defenders” (like me?) of the present regime operate in.

    I think many of those (or should be that, “of us”?) that say, “hintay na lang kayo ng 2010” would seriously be very, VERY angry at any attempts by Gloria to extend her term beyond that year. And, yes, I think we’d like a hug rather than fingers being wagged at us, haha.

    The way I see it, people DO want change, but the Filipino seems to have developed an appreciation for the Democratic system. I mean, look at the results of 2007. If the Filipino Spirit was truly apathetic, would the results of the ’07 Midterms be what they were?

    In the meantime… yes, by all means, keep up the pressure. “Moving on” doesn’t mean you’re going to forget, oh no, and nothing beats building up the mountain of evidence. Waiting for the democratic process and the law to remove her from power and get rid of the immunity from persecution that her current office grants her doesn’t mean people can’t point out that there’s something WRONG.

    Kudos to the Filipino; it appears that despite everything, this crazy, lovable race is growing up as a polity somehow.

  2. Upon her arrival from the presidential junket,Lady Miriam immediately requested for a Senate investigation to determine who paid for Pulse Asia’s research on public perception on Presidential corruption.In the recently published research,majority of Filipinos considered Gloria the “most corrupt president” in Philippine history.

    Where in the world is it illegal to sponsor a research to gauge public opinion?

  3. We have a president whose psychological makeup inclines her do as she pleases. Because the House of Representatives has been bribed, and the military top brass stacked with loyalists, she has gotten away with it — so far. But the polls show the very strong discontent among the people, especially over the perceived corruption in government. The Senate is starting to challenge the Executive, as it should — but slowly, slower than it should. The way things are moving, there is infinite opportunity to diddle and dodge — in effect conducting business pretty much as usual until 2010 (or longer if the Cha-Cha train moves on)

  4. Miriam could cite Osmeña for contempt of GMA, akin to contempt of Court?

    If Malacañang doesn’t like the result, why, it could conduct its own survey:

    Do you believe in surveys? If you believe in surveys, why? Do you believe in surveys saying that GMA is the most corrupt president this country ever had? Did you believe the survey indicating GMA won the elections in 2004? Do you believe that our economy is growing strong?

    So many questions! If you could give away P500,000 per head, magkano ba naman kaya si mangahas?

  5. G.L.O.R I.A

    A complex character with very strong personal ambitions and no clear understanding “of what‘s right and wrong” : Her biography opens with a simple but revealing statement :“ Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, holds many records.”

    It appears that every life event to her is an opportunity to satisfy a personal ambition.Like an Olympic athlete ,her life is all about keeping a scorecard and breaking records at all costs.

    • ramrod on December 13, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    The Failure of this Nation is in Our Hands

    India is an old civilization, if we are to measure a nation’s expertise in governance and economic gains in the number of trials and errors through the years, the Philippines is a child compared to India.
    I believe we are on our way though, the Philippine economy will move inspite of Gloria and her minions. The private sector will propel our economy forward, even if it means having to pay up extra to line some politicians’ pockets, we’ll just have to work harder, thats all. The OFWs, the BPOs, and the SMEs will usher in an age of a stronger middle class, able to give their children better educations and this next generation of electorate will more discerning and wiser in choosing their leaders. Corruption thrives in ignorance and poverty. What will happen to the “masa” then, the poor farmers, the dwellers of slum areas, the street people? This wide voter base that is perenially used by unscrupulous traditional politicians by taking advantage of their weaknesses will most certainly dwindle in number. Why? They can’t afford food, life saving medicines (congress shelved the cheaper medicines bill), and there is no genuine land reform further culling the biggest employment sector in the country – agriculture, with its massive number of informal employment. Corruption is like a hemmoragic fever virus (ebola), it spreads fast but also kills the host, so isolate, or remove the host, and the virus dies with it.
    The people who are actively clamoring for reforms today may or may not succeed in toppling GMA. If we do succeed, what then? What is our direction? Who’s going to step up and lead us? I have grown old fighting, from Marcos, to Erap, and shamefully I also did my part in putting Gloria as President.
    What I do see, is a more long term and sweeping way of finally seeing satisfactory changes. Use the democratic processes to our advantage. The administration now appears strong because of their numbers. Why not break up this number? Use divide and conquer, who put these congressmen, governors, mayors, and barangay tanods in power? People voted for them. So now what remains to be done is to identify these officials who betrayed their mandates, list them down, look at their profiles, and use what we learn from this sad experience to choose better leaders.
    If government policies are influenced by politicians protecting their own interests, seek out and isolate them. What do we really want? Can we at least come up with a list of things we want in our government? Economic, political, social, what reforms do we aspire to have. If anyone can clearly make a blue print summing up all the reforms we deserve, lets have it.
    Although I will always have a bias for some specific sectors, and I will almost always choose to sympathize with them right or wrong, I have been dealing with international business for quite too long to ignore that the country needs to show “stability” and genuine respect for the rule of law. We cannot succeed in the global market if our trade partners fear loosing their investments and we also need to show our trustworthiness, our transparency. We have proven to the world our productivity and propensity to excel in any endeavor. Its time to prove it to our own countrymen that we can win this battle and win without resorting to “scorched earth” policy or something resulting to such. Wherein vital institutions are destroyed or weakened and we’ll all be left holding the bag, and having to reinvent the wheel. I’m always a firm believer that the next generation will be better than us, smarter, more sophisticated, even wealthier. The “good old days” are just that, “old days.” So lets have it, is there anyone who is willing to step up to the plate? I,for one, will pledge my support for him/them as early as now…

    • BrianB on December 13, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    “Land reform is as much about disempowering the rich as it is about empowering the poor. As i previously mentioned in my blog:”

    Exactly CVJ, that’s what I’ve been saying to manolo and his blog. It’s not about the economic bottomline but equality. The rich own the accountants and they own the experts. It’s a decision to be made based on pure idealism and pure faith on the people. To fully complete the process, why not also ban former owners from repurchase.

    • Barbero on December 13, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Why would you ban former owners to buy their LAND BACK? It used to be their own anyway and if the beneficiary wants to sell it it should be defaulted back to the owner. Thats how it should be.

    Call it elitism but the truth is somebody owned it. They were there first. my grandparents died cursing the macapagal due to land reform. and the former tenant just sold it after a year it was allocated to them. See the dilemma?

    Its not that because they were poor and doing the labor on those fields means they are entitled to it. Come on they were also being given salaries and compensation. If they want to have a better life its their prerogative to do it so but not to the expense of other people.

    We are not in a utopian world. Life is not fair. Somebody is bound to be the worker and somebody is bound to be the supervisor. and actually communism is preaching but to hell with them bunch of hypocrites anyway.

    • renmin on December 13, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Being an occasional visitor of Torn and Frayed’s blog, and having observed its generally progressive take on a wide range of issues, i’m inclined to be more laid back about this, so let me just say that it’s disappointing to find that T&F have fallen back on certain centuries-old colonial stereotypes in their characterization of Filipinos.

    “Child-like,” “brilliance at mimicry,” “inability to plan,” “plasticity with the truth”–these are all staples of the paternalistic and fundamentally racist discourse used by Westerners to justify colonial rule. All of a piece with “little brown brother,” Kipling’s “half-devil and half-child,” “the wily Filipino,” etc.

    Such discourse was used by the Americans to justify the brutal suppression of the Philippine revolution and to frame their colonial occupation in terms of “tutelage.”

    I’m not questioning the validity of their observations–no doubt they’ve met and worked with Filipinos who are really like that. Their example illustrates the pitfalls and limitations of making generalizations about “national characteristics.”

    • Silent Waters on December 13, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    Barbero

    I lang ulit ko nang sinasabi na malabo yung iniisip nilang equal ang lahat. Di lahat, may pare-parehong kakayanan, talento at kagalingan. ANg hirap kasi sa mga do gooders na iyan, gusto nila dapat pareho lahat. Eh ano ngayon ang insentibo ng isang magaling na magtrabaho, eh pareho lang naman ang mangyayari sa akin at kay Juan Tamad diyan sa tabi.

    Ang ibig sabihin nito ay darating ang panahon na wala nang mga bagong imbensyon, mga bagong ideya. Paano, pareho na lang lahat. Tama ang sinabi ni Mr. Banayo. Ano ba ang kailangan talaga ng tao, lupa o trabaho?

    • Madonna on December 13, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Amen to Renmin’s comments. These kind of observations, frankly, they bore the hell out of me. They foster self-consciousness that are self-defeating. Good God, do we need to hear about what foreigners think about us as a people? I mean, do we really need to take them seriously? Don’t we know ourselves first and foremost? After more than a hundred years since the birth of a nation, I think we are already stepping up to maturity and observations such as torn & frayed’s should no longer be given much relevance. To me they sound like self-appointed paternalistic shrinks out to mesmerize with their psycho babble talk. Gee thanks, we’re child-like….but…

    Let’s just get our stuff together as a people like what ramrod has proposed. I too believe that the next generation of Filipinos will be smarter, wiser and more empowered and don’t let the present administration be fooled by the apparent relaxed attitude of the people. Our spirit may not be in action but it’s like a coiled energy that will whip up when the right forces come about — on or before 2010.

    • Silent Waters on December 13, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Renmin, Madonna

    Amen!

    • cvj on December 13, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Brianb, i agree there should be a ban on the former owners repurchasing their old land. If ever, it should only be the government that can repurchase the awarded land and give it to another set of tenants.

    Silent Waters, when you argue against land reform you are not arguing against communists. For example, the study that i pointed out above (at 1:24pm) which established a negative correlation between GDP per capita and land inequality was made by neo-classical economists who believe in capitalism and the market economy. Here in the Philippines, you have reputable economists like Solita Monsod and Arsenio Balisacan who have concluded that land reform has benefitted its target communitites.

    Here’s what the World Bank says:

    “Theory and empirical evidence suggest that widespread ownership of land not only improves equity but also improves land productivity. All the [High Performing Asian Economies (HPAEs)] with substantial agrarian sectors have widespread land holding, resulting from either traditional ownership patterns (Indonesia and Thailand) or land reform (Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, China). Malaysia, with a relatively small population and ample land, is an exception; there, corporate-owned plantations have dominated agricultural output since the colonial era. Hong Kong and Singapore have almost no agricultural sector.” – World Bank Development Brief Number 21, October 1993

    There is a strong link between widespread ownership of land and economic performance.

    • cvj on December 13, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    My understanding is that Torn is already a [naturalized]Filipino. In that sense, he is no longer a foreigner.

    • vic on December 13, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Right now former PM Mulroney is testifying before the Ethics Committee about the German Businessman allegations that he gave the PM some Money 2 days before he left office for his help in his business of dealing Military Equipment to Canadian Forces, specifically the Airbus. The Businessman is fighting extradition to his native Germany for Tax Evasion and other briberies. He was also the principal in the scandal that cause the fall of the Kohl Government..

    Anyways the Government has already called for Public inquiry about these allegations..Allegations they maybe, but they have to be cleared cause it involved the highest office of the land, even if it was some 15 years ago…

    And here’s the funny part, the former PM admitted that he took the Money $300 thousands for his work as lawyer for Mr. Schreiber but insisted that was after he stepped down as Prime Minister and he also took the $2.1 millions settlement from the former Government of Liberal Jean Chretien for Libel when it was alleged by the Government about this scandal, but instead of fighting settled with the former PM. Asked if he will return the monies he said he won’t.

    The reason why this Parliamentary investigation can not resolve anything of this type as compare to the full Public Inquiry, is that the Public Inquiry is empowered to Subpeona documents, Subpeona witnesses and the Inquiry head can hire all the competent assitants and experts to conduct and assist his or her inquiry, unlike the Politicians in the Parliamentary Committee that slant their investigation towards their Parties. Yes, I can feel their Partisan, smell their Biases, But the Former PM is also a Bulldog, he can fight his own fight..Bring on the Inquiry and let the Public get the clear picture of what really happened 15 years ago..

  6. “Not Only In the Philippines”:Political Dynasties

    “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.” Mr. Bush made the remark in a telling exchange with Bob Schieffer, who said, “Well, you know, if Senator Clinton becomes president.”

    • Silent Waters on December 14, 2007 at 1:26 am

    OK…utopia then…

    • cvj on December 14, 2007 at 1:32 am

    It cannot be ‘utopia’ if other countries have been there and done that.

    • Silent Waters on December 14, 2007 at 1:35 am

    I don’t have an issue with land reform. I do have an issue with your way of having government control the lives of people.

    You want people to improve their quality of life, you don’t just fix the economic aspect…you also fix the attitude. Gobyerno lagi ang solusyon sa lahat. Don’t you think there’s an agency problem there then?

    • Silent Waters on December 14, 2007 at 1:37 am

    utopia when you don;t fix people’s attitude…you keep letting this people off the hook talaga…

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 2:00 am

    @renmin

    Yep, T&F was being anthropological about her own people. Very, very declasse.

  7. Thank you for linking me, Manolo.

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 2:03 am

    @Barbero

    “Call it elitism but the truth is somebody owned it. They were there first.”

    BULLSHIT. Did you know Negros was called Negros becaue of all the black people who used to live there? Where are the black people now? Where are the aetas of Negros. Hell, there are more aetas in Iloilo than Negros nowadays.

    They were there first! BULL SHIIIIT!

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 2:03 am

    @Barbero

    “Call it elitism but the truth is somebody owned it. They were there first.”

    BULL6H1T. Did you know Negros was called Negros becaue of all the black people who used to live there? Where are the black people now? Where are the aetas of Negros. Hell, there are more aetas in Iloilo than Negros nowadays.

    They were there first! BULL Packin SHIIIIT!

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 2:11 am

    @silent

    “I lang ulit ko nang sinasabi na malabo yung iniisip nilang equal ang lahat.”

    It’s not equality per se but the end of stratification. I suppose you are one of those people who think that every citizen should carry on as usual without government intervention. I disagree to these POV. I am what you might call a true liberal. I advocate government intervention based on constitutional provisions and ideals like those stated in the Bill of Rights and even the American Declaration of Independence. Government should give a leg up to the undereducated, to the poor and should do everything possible to stop generations of parasitical landownership.

    This is the difference between people like me and, obviously, many people in this forum. They believe this country has become this way “naturally” and the rich and the elite shouldn’t be blamed for being rich and elite. I disagree. There was nothing natural about Spanish enslavement for 350 years and nothing natural about haciendero tyranny. These were all decided immorally and unethically a long time ago and it continues now. You are continuing the immoral acts of the forefathers of the elite. These people treated other Filipinos like lesser human beings. For crying out loud, it was racism that dictated land ownership as we know it today in this country.

    That’s all you’re going to say, life is unfair? Let me give you scenario. What if we did to these landowners what they did to the natives a long time ago and just tell them, Hey life is unfair. It works both ways. What is the rational option? Ideals, the law, the rational progress of the mind. Otherwise gitera na lang tayo lahat. Kung sino ang manalo sya ang mayaman. Ganun ba gusto mo?

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Yep, T&F was being anthropological about her own people. Very, very declasse.

    So Torn and Frayed is not Filipino but a long-time foreign observer. Kinda like many of our intellectuals, I guess.

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 2:37 am

    Re Miriam’s Re on MLQ’s Column Re Manila Peninsula:

    I could’ve written a better comeback. Why didn’t Lady Miriam ask me instead?

    • Bencard on December 14, 2007 at 2:56 am

    “I advocate government intervention based on constitutional provisions and ideals like those stated in the Bill of Rights and even the American Declaration of Independence.” brianB

    in short, i take it to mean following the “rule of law”, right?

    the landowners, rich, wealthy, elites, middle class and “poor” masa are all equal in the eyes of the law. even the government cannot run roughshod on any of these groups, and favor one against the other, without grave political and legal consequences to it.

    as i said before, members of a community are not herds of cattle that can be cajoled to act a certain way by a mere snap of the cowboy”s whip. they are free, subject only to the civilized rules and requirements of an ordered society.

    structuring a society according to a “grand design” requires the exercise of irresistible force on the part of a designer. it is incompatible with the idea of freedom.

    i think the sooner we rid ourselves of this notion of “big brother” protection, longings for a messiah to lead us, and a virtual manna from heaven to sustain us at no expense to ourselves, the sooner we can join the real “independent” nations of the world.

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 3:08 am

    He he, I just love the annotated Atenean letter. Some of these Ateneans have their brains so far up their asses all they know is vocabulary, no meaning or understanding. Just a bunch of polite people lining up to work for foreign banks. They are taught self-confidence without ever earning it, and they assume that because they speak in a genteel way they are not arrogant. A very, very smug people, who probably were never spanked and were never involved in a fist fight. Oh, in case I forgot, they think just because they know grammar and are familiar with the dictionary and thesaurus they think they can write. Ironically, one of their favorite chants (Halikinu) doesn’t make any sense, written by Maria Guerrero, I think (I forget). But that chant never taught them that sometimes gut instinct serves humanity more than artificial sensibility (hope this makes sense).

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 3:25 am

    Bencard, you beg too many questions in your recent post. I mean, you assume too many things.

    First, es Filipinos are herder like cattle, cajoled. If cajoling does not work, they are whipped. These are the people who keep voting for corrupt families.

    Second, our grand design was democracy. But such a grand thing sounded impractical to their elitist enforcers.

    What irresistible force? Filipinos never go by their instinct. They act and think counter-intuitively, assuming that what they know in their hearst is wrong (some people call this colonial mentality.

    Fourth. Democracy isn’t absolute freedom. It just means the rule of the people. What this means in practical terms is that people have to device laws so that they could live peacefully. Some of these laws are straightening to free spirited individuals. So, these individuals get punished, hopefully fitting punishment of their transgressions.

    Fifth, even with laws, freedom could be had by a simple logical consequence. When people are used to living with and respecting the rules, they tend to enjoy more freedom, because as you know we tend to ignore what our body is used to.

    Sixth, the lack of freedom in the Philippines is not the fault of the law (which, as I’ve said, people could get used to very quickly) but the fault of those who undermine it. People who get away with illegal acts because they are rich and powerful. These people keep others incarcerated with fear. They limit the freedoms of the others by the simple act of undermining the rule of law. Bencard, I don;t think people complain that they lack freedom because of the laws. They complain they lack freedom because even when the law is on their side they still find themselves powerless.

  8. Re: “A man’s word is his bond?”

    Manolo, these are foreign words to Esperon.

    Most British military officers live by these words but Esperon?

    We have a term for that sort of military officer whose word is not his bond, particularly one who is expected to espouse conduct becoming an officer and a gentleman at the highest level but doesn’t: A Double-crosser!

    Let’s think of the consequences of the double crossing or reneging on the surrender agreement by military top honchos and Gloria’s government inquisitors. (We don’t have to envision how far double-crossing could go, i.e., as when a little more than 60 years ago, Hitler double-crossed Chamberlain setting the stage for WWII.):

    There is a strong possibility that reneging made to end the Oakwood mutiny will have repercussions for the future.

    The agreement on the surrender terms may now seem favourable for the majority of the mutineers, but at the time they were the best the government could achieve. I find it a bit weak of a government and its military leadership to believe they were forced to accept the terms of surrender because they were under duress; there was no need to accept these terms, they could have been harsher (although that might have taken more courage).

    There’s no other explanation for the double cross: Breaking such an agreement indicates a grave lack of faith in one’s own word and one’s contempt for the military tradition of honour.

    The Philippines has a history of this sort of incident and normally or so far, they have been resolved without too much problem. There is no doubt in my mind that next time, resolution to a military problem similar to Oakwood will be considerably harder. And why? Future rebels will remember that the government cannot be trusted to keep their word and will be harder to appease.

    Breaking the agreement to end the Oakwood mutiny may give solace today to a few who feel they were not harsh enough, but it resurrects the idea of mutiny in the minds of the angry young officers — it brings ideas of injustice to the forefront of young minds.

    These factors will forment the idea of another mutiny and this time there is much more likely to be bloodshed. It won’t be difficult to imagine that the next generation of mutineers will have no trust in the word of the government, no respect for the negotiators and will be more prepared to commit acts of violence.

    It is never good for military officers, particularly at the top of the hierarchy, and government to go back on their word. That way lies anarchy and institutionalizes double cross.

    • Bencard on December 14, 2007 at 6:21 am

    brianB, beg qustions? assumptions? what the heck are you talking about? you have a convoluted comprehension of what i wrote. please re read and analyze it, then respond if you wish to.

    i did not say filipinos are herded like cattle or cajoled. “grand design” refers to the kind of society you insist to have through government intervention. “irresistible force” refers to absolute power necessary to fulfill that grand design. i did not say that democracy is absolute freedom, nor did i say that people complain that they lack freedom.

    • Karlo on December 14, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Update: Parts of Metro affected by transport strike .

    The latest news is it’s fizzled out. Of course, one of the perennial problems facing transport strike organizers is the difficulty in explaining to the greater public of the validity of their avowed causes (raising minimum fare because of oil price hikes) and the action they are pursuing to achieve them (going on strike).

    As can be seen from the responses listed in this blog post, there is a great disconnect between the striking drivers and the public who see the paralysis of the transportation system (partial or otherwise) as a great inconvenience.

    Despite all the posturing, in the game of perception, the organizers of the strike are at the losing end. Strike or no strike, the minimum fares will still be increased sooner or later.

    • BrianB on December 14, 2007 at 9:25 am

    “i did not say filipinos are herded like cattle or cajoled.”

    I said it, you didn’t. My opinion is, the rule of law is freeing, which is the exact opposite of your opinion. That Filipinos are herded like cattle is a consequence of lawlessness (i.e. lawlessness from the top). In a democracy, people are presented with choice much like one is presented choices in a buffet. In an unlawful country, people don’t have a choice and are under the mercy of powerful people. If they cannot be cajoled, they can be bribed, if not bribed coerced, etc.

    • Bencard on December 14, 2007 at 9:49 am

    brianB, you are making me argue against my consistent position (which you would know if you would care to read my previous recent posts) on the thesis that freedom, in a democracy, is freedom of choice to do either good or evil. the exercise of choice to do evil is dealt with by law.

    the last i heard, the constitution, the laws, and all the agencies and instrumentalities of government are, generally, functioning in the philippines. in an imperfect society, isolated lawlessness is expected. there is also failure of justice from time to time but it doesn’t mean that ours is an “unlawful country”, and the people are “herded like cattle” except maybe the convicted criminals.

    again, i never said that the law prevents the exercise of freedom. why do you say that your “the rule of law is freeing” is “the exact opposite of (my) opinion”?

    • cvj on December 14, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Someone is due for some ear cleaning.

    • Silent Waters on December 14, 2007 at 10:20 am

    BEncard

    Thanks. You explained it a lot bettr than I would, ever.

    • Bencard on December 14, 2007 at 10:20 am

    and somebody needs to have his head examined, if not a full lobotomy.

  9. contrary to the claims of Angie Reyes transport strikes paralayze 80-99 percent in Cagayan de Oro, Davao and General Santos cities.

  10. contrary to the claims of Angie Reyes transport strikes paralayze 80-90 percent in Cagayan de Oro, Davao and General Santos cities.

    • benign0 on December 14, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Interestingly enough, this pathetic dependence on OFW remittances is now starting to come back to bite.

    Obviously the flood of foreign currency brought about by this remittances is contributing to the strengthening of the peso. This means that as the percentage of the Pinoy economy on foreign remittances grows, so too shall the value of the peso. This will create a second forex-driven tier of inflationary pressure (on top of the CPI-driven one) on the average OFW-remittance-dependent schmoe.

    The eminent Ben Kritz illustrated it best with this example:

    “The more foreign currency OFW’s send to the Philippines, the more the value of the peso becomes inflated. In other words, the number of pesos exchanged for a dollar or a yen or a euro becomes less as the supply of foreign currency increases. Consumer prices change very little, if at all, to reflect the currency revaluation. A liter of milk that cost PhP 50 three years ago still costs PhP 50, but the peso in that time has gone from 56 to the dollar to 45, so in essence the price of the milk purchased with OFW remittances has gone up by about 22%. Even if the OFW, in the U.S. for example, receives an annual cost-of-living increase in his wages of 2 or 3%, which is a relatively common pattern, the Filipino families back home are still taking a double-digit pay cut. So it becomes harder to make ends meet from month-to-month, let alone save up for that entrepreneurial dream of a corner store or one�s own jeepney.”

    Check out the full article here:
    http://www.getrealphilippines.com/agr-disagr/8-9-bk_ofw.html

    • cvj on December 14, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Bencard, regarding property rights, democracy and the rule of law, you have to be aware of how these elements evolved in your adopted home. As per economist Hernando de Soto writing about the evolution of property laws in the United States and other developed societies:

    The crucial change had to do with adapting the law to the social and economic needs of the majority of the population. Gradually, Western nations became able both to acknowledge that social contracts born outside the official law were a legitimate source of law, and to find ways of absorbing these contracts. [emphasis mine] Law was thus made to serve popular capital formation and economic growth. This is what gives the present property institutions in the West their vitality. Moreover, this property revolution was always a political victory [emphasis in the original] In every country it was a result of a few enlightened men deciding that official law made no sense if a sizeable part of the population lived outside it. [emphasis mine]

    The various histories of property in Western Euroope, Japan and the United States all have something useful to say about the present concerns of developing and ex-communist countries. In each country apparent lawlessness was not really about crime but a collicsion between rule-making at the grassroots level and rule-making at the top. The revolution in each case involved the gradual merging of both systems. – Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

    American society was shaped by the ‘grand design’ of a few enlightened men and it happened to entail giving up their political and economic power as embodied in their landholdings, but that was before you arrived so maybe you can be excused for not being aware of this. (It also helped that the Native Americans were at a military disadvantage but that’s a story on its own.)

    • benign0 on December 14, 2007 at 11:56 am

    “Good God, do we need to hear about what foreigners think about us as a people? I mean, do we really need to take them seriously? Don’t we know ourselves first and foremost? After more than a hundred years since the birth of a nation, I think we are already stepping up to maturity and observations such as torn & frayed’s should no longer be given much relevance. To me they sound like self-appointed paternalistic shrinks out to mesmerize with their psycho babble talk. Gee thanks, we’re child-like….but…”

    Hmmm. It’s thinking like this — inward looking and dismissive of outside influence — that had always and will be ultimately the reason why Pinoy society will remain a an intellectually-stunted, superstition-ravaged medieval society.

    • cvj on December 14, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Benign0, the eminent Ben Kritz should realize that the dynamics of OFW remittances also applies to any other form of foreign exchange inflow like exports or foreign investments. Why single out OFW money? The policy on exchange rates and interest rates are in the hands of our economic managers.

    • Madonna on December 14, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Someone is due for some ear cleaning.
    — cvj

    Agree, agree. Not the fault of the ears. Head or heart? To clean or not to clean? — that is the question.

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