Economic news: ADB ups RP GDP growth forecast to 7% while Peso rises to 7 1/2-yr high. A cautionary note: Vietnam close to overtaking RP in shipping–UN.
Postmortem on the transport strike: Transport strike fizzles out.
For several years now, transport organizations have generally been pandered to by, and thus, cooperative with, government. the Left thus had to prove it still had clout with transport operators, never mind if public opinion sided with them or not.
Arroyo seeks return of subversion law while Esperon wouldn’t mind extension as AFP chief (for purposes of comparison, see Esperon: I’m ready to go with clear conscience, which also has Esperon not minding an extension; perhaps a trial balloon, but by whom? Definitely, the President’s decision come the expiration of Esperon’s present term, will be seen as significant).
Good or bad for the Republic? Libyan govt pitches into bring peace to South:
Saif Al-Islam Al-Qaddafi, eldest son of Qaddafi, is on a state visit to the Philippines, where he met with President Gloria Arroyo on Thursday.
He aims to ask the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to reconcile with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from which it split in 1978, Libyan diplomats said. He was expected to have met with representatives of both the MNLF and the MILF later Thursday.
Wrangling over the survey continues: Malacañang on warpath, tags Serge Osmeña:
Osmeña explained how the survey results became public.
“Last Tuesday when I was in Bacolod to visit my 94-year-old mother in the hospital, I got a text from Pulse Asia’s Ana Tabunda. She was briefing ABS-CBN on the regular periodic survey findings of Pulse. That survey had included questions on corruption. I did not know that and I commissioned a handful of rider questions on trust ratings of some leaders and the most corrupt and most honest President,” Osmeña said in a text message.
“Ana asked if I could lift my embargo so that she could disclose my data to ABS… When I agreed, ABS later called me up to ask if they could announce my poll findings on their newscast and ABS inquired why I had commissioned the poll. I replied that the opposition office takes regular surveys to feel the pulse of the citizenry. We have alternated between using Pulse and SWS. Our cost for this rider was in the low six figures,” he said.
Two editorials try to dissect the administration reaction to the survey.
In the Inquirer editorial, they slice and dice through the administration’s objections:
Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said in a statement written in Filipino, “is the President’s unceasing service to the millions of Filipinos, not her rating in surveys of 1,500 people.”
The implication is that the universe of survey respondents is too small as to be representative. This comes as news to us, because Malacañang has in fact depended on similar surveys, conducted by the same polling organizations, when they meet its objectives. The President’s election victory over main rival Fernando Poe Jr. was predicted by the surveys, and Arroyo officials used that very trend in the last several weeks of the 2004 campaign to defend Malacañang, in 2005, against accusations of election fraud raised by the “Hello, Garci” tapes. Those surveys had more or less the same sample size, but did we hear any Malacañang official whining about its unrepresentativeness then?
In his blog, Newsstand, John Nery, who has taken pains to dissect many a survey and the process, for those who continue to be skeptical of statistics.
In the Business Mirror editorial, the bottom line, it says, is the issue of trust. It first catalogs the virtues of the President:
It truly is tragic that a President under whose watch macroeconomic stability was achieved under the most challenging conditions, and who has displayed a keen devotion to her work, following a punishing schedule despite her own health risks, is now seen as “most corrupt” even though no court has found her to have stolen a centavo from the republic. Viewed from this angle, it’s easy to understand Malacañang’s deep-seated frustration at the survey.
Then asks, despite these virtues, why is she still being hammered in terms of negative public opinion?
Critics of the Trillanes-Lim group wonder aloud why the “destabilizers” never seem to tire of raising the same old issues against her presidency. Simple: the “same old issues” remain “same old issues” because there was never any satisfactory resolution, in the public mind, to them. In short, no closure.
Worse, in every case, the president was often perceived as being too protective of the parties named in each controversy, whether a relative, political supporter or patron, or a subordinate official. Thus, it has come to pass that at the end of the day, the blame was put at her doorstep.
To every congressional inquiry, her legal advisers have thrown all conceivable means to block efforts to ferret out the truth: Executive Order 464 is a classic, mocking the very principle of checks and balances in a democracy…
There are many more controversies without closure: the Venable contract, the Joc-joc Bolante fertilizer scam, “Hello Garci,” and the alleged corruption in the military even as soldiers die in the field partly from substandard materiel and gear.
And finally, it asks, why does the President get a raw deal compared to say, Fidel V. Ramos?
At the end of the day, some people have raised the question of how come Mrs. Arroyo received a lower score than Fidel V. Ramos, whom critics say seems to have a “Teflon” ability to brush off such megacontroversies as the Centennial Expo, PEA-Amari, the onerous independent power producer contracts, and the multibillion-peso tax-credit scam that happened during his administration.
We hazard a guess: Mr. Ramos has not been perceived to be eager to use every available stratagem–when he was president and after–to block official inquiries or efforts to ferret out the truth. He had the patience to explain himself well, would personally prepare position papers and documents, and would tell his accusers, in and out of Congress, that he did a judgment call each time, and if he were to be made liable for his acts, so be it. He was seen on national TV attending several congressional hearings, facing his accusers. So whether or not people have evidence of any direct participation by Mr. Ramos in any of these controversies, perhaps–just perhaps–people see him as someone not going out of his way to cover up or block the efforts of truth-seekers. After all, the Pulse survey was admittedly tracking perception from the very start: and unfortunately for her, the perception she and her minions have tried so hard to block all inquiries has reinforced the suspicion she had committed something wrong.
Anyone intent on prosecuting a case is convinced they are right and will win; anyone defending themselves in a case is convinced they are innocent and will prevail. Foregone conclusions in any sort of trial is dangerous thing because it means it’s not a trial but a kangaroo court. Part of the brinkmanship of the administration is to completely ignore the majority of her critics who pointed out that subjecting her to accountability procedures also meant she had the opportunity to vindicate herself fully.
In his column, Amando Doronila tackles the survey results, too:
There are valid issues that can be raised about the survey. The first is the time context of the comparison of records of the five presidents. The second, which is less important than the first, is the timing of the survey. Osmeña has said that he had wanted to test political awareness of the public in relation to the 2010 election, which is still far off, making me conclude that the survey is a wasted effort at this stage in terms of immediate political impact.
For the first time, someone has tried to quantify corruption in the case of the President. Newsbreak breaks it down to $164.7 million, a bit over $1 million for every centimeter of the President’s height (150 cm. is the President’s height):
Newsbreak estimates the amounts involved in the alleged major corruption cases under the Arroyo administration. (In US dollars; based on a US$1=42 pesos exchange rate)
IMPSA deal $ 2 million
Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. 14 million
Piatco 20 million
Jose Pidal account 7.6 million
US properties 7.1 million
Fertilizer scam 17.3 million
North Rail project 50 million
NBN-ZTE deal 32.9 million
Jueteng collections 10 million
Palace cash handouts 3.8 million
TOTAL $ 164.7 million
Why aren’t the law-and-order types demanding two things, I wonder: the prosecution of policemen accused of looting the Manila Peninsula, and the Makati Shangri-La for refusing permission to post snipers on its roof? See the Newsbreak story:
The Marines and the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF), who led the assault, were working with limited information.
They did not have prior intelligence information on the plan of Antonio Trillanes IV and Danilo Lim to take over the hotel. They were in the dark on exactly how many armed followers were with Trillanes and Lim–and their positions inside the Manila Pen. All they had was a map of the lobby of the hotel which they got from the Makati police.
The situation was so frenzied at the Pen that the soldiers were unable to coordinate with the hotel staff regarding the map and positions of rebels.
The Marines planned on posting some of their men at the Makati Shangrila–for possible sniper shots but the hotel disagreed and refused to cooperate.
Also, Charges vs Guingona, other civilians at Manila Pen dismissed. On a related note, quarter of people surveyed said they were willing to go out in the streets. To me, this is huge, but of course what remains to be asked is what would the other three quarters do in a situation that would bring the one quarter into the streets?
Incidentally, an interesting Newsbreak story on group dynamics:
In fact, the same October survey shows that 25 percent of the respondents will “do whatever is necessary to have a president resign or be removed from office.”
Here’s the statistical analysis, provided by Pulse Asia executive director Ana Tabunda. While 25 percent of Filipinos may be willing to do whatever is necessary to remove a corrupt president from office, there is one presumption in the survey question. That they are “convinced that the President should resign.” The question is: were they convinced on November 29?
Newsbreak recalls what analysts and historians have shared to us about failed revolutions in the past. That is, no revolution launched during the holidays nor in the rainy season ever succeeded in the Philippines. Filipinos, the analysts said, never like anything to go in the way of a happy Christmas celebration. They, too, don’t want the hassle of getting wet in the rain.
On November 29, the holiday spirit was in the air, primarily due to early Christmas carols and decorations in malls and giving of the 13th month pay. It was also raining.
Overseas, Whither Malaysia?
Will dissent increase? Is Abdullah Badawi in electoral trouble? Will unrest spread outside of the opposition parties to the populace at large? What do the demonstrations mean for investors?
The answers are mixed. Despite a general feeling of malaise over the economy, it actually grew at the fastest pace since 2005 - 6.7 percent in the third quarter - on rising domestic demand and investment as well as commodity exports, although manufactured exports declined somewhat. So far, unrest appears to have been contained largely within the opposition despite widespread grumbling, particularly on the Internet, and does not appear to be concerning investors. The Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) said in its 2008 Economic Outlook for East Asia, released this week, that reduced corporate taxes are expected to continue to lure foreign investment. Nobody is particularly nervous about the protests.
Unless there is a dramatic change, it is inconceivable that the Barisan Nasional, the collection of ethnically-based political parties that make up the national ruling coalition, would lose an election when it is called, expected to be sometime next year. But by Malaysian standards the electorate may deliver a blow to the Barisan, which has ruled the country since independence in 1957. Ethnic Chinese, who make up 23.7 percent of the population according to the CIA World Factbook, have been disenchanted by rising Malay bellicosity and widespread reports of corruption.
Rural Malays can largely be expected to continue to support the Barisan and the United Malays National Organisation, the leading ethnic party in the coalition because of the benefits delivered to them by the National Development Plan, the successor to the New Economic Policy or NEP in the form of schooling, redistribution of wealth and other assistance. Commodity prices, because of China’s voracious appetite, are up, particularly for palm oil and rubber.
Although urban professional Malays in Kuala Lumpur and other cities appear to be increasingly unhappy with what they regard as the hijacking of the NEP by rent-seeking cronies and a series of events involving local corruption, nothing has galvanized them into real action against the Barisan. For one thing, their options are relatively limited. The jeans-wearing BMW drivers and their companions in the urban areas who have forsaken strict Islamic dress have little in common with the ascetic Islamic foundations of Parti Sa-Islam Malaysia, the biggest Malay opposition party outside the coalition.
In the blogosphere, an interesting account of meeting, and working, with Trillanes in Iloilo City Boy. And a list of winner and losers in The Warrior Lawyer. In Katataspulong, a catalog of lost opportunities for a province. Mongster’s Nest provides a political lexicon for the concluding year. Ped Xing on land reform.
Uniffors takes a look at the ongoing Transco bidding.
And Going Through a (Phase)Book just made me laugh very hard indeed!
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