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Looking forward
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on January 7, 2008 242 Comments 16 min read
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On Sunday the Inquirer editorial pointed out that Americans are not only keenly interested in their upcoming presidential election, but have been for some time -far earlier than usual. The editorial says this is due to Americans eagerly looking forward to regime change.

The 2010 presidential race has also begun, for us, rather early, which also points to the public heartily looking forward to installing the next administration in office -and giving thought to the various candidates presenting themselves even at this early stage. This is born out by the (admittedly unscientific) observation made by some bloggers and media people I’ve talked to, who’ve noticed that anything to do with the potential candidates for 2010 gets a large, and highly critical, readership.

Amando Doronila does not make the above point, but makes a different one that’s difficult to contradict:

Truly, 2010 heralds the closure of the turbulent EDSA-driven eras, defined by extra-electoral political change, and the beginning and the normalization of electoral politics now under the specter of military coups or withdrawal of support for sitting civilian governments.

This epochal shift gives us the opportunity to make a leadership change that offers this time a wide range of choices.

It is the advent of a younger generation in 2010 that makes the next election a qualitative change from the previous leadership handovers.

We will be electing in 2010 a new set of leaders who will take power with electoral mandates unblemished by the irregularity of an extra-electoral method of change represented by EDSA I and EDSA II, both marked by military interventions.

Year 2010, therefore, will mark a return to normal election processes as a mechanism of political change. This is what makes it a hopeful transition, although the relatively large field of choices does not ensure the emergence of an honest, efficient and results-oriented administration.

I suspect, though, that what we will find is really a two or at most, three person race, as both the politicians and the public narrow their choices and, who knows, actively seek a truly majority president for once, after a string of post-Edsa minority presidents.

Mon Casiple, in his blog, dissects the options that confront both the President and the opposition this year. In terms of the administration, he boils down the options available to three:

For the people in the GMA administration, the logical first choice will have have to be an extension of her stay in power–by a constitutional change allowing the president a second term or a change to either a parliamentary system or a federal state (which would require a transition provision). This is not possible at this time without a prior effort to dislocate the opponents of a GMA constitutional change–a scenario requiring massive political and electoral manipulation as well as ensuring an undisputed control of the armed forces.

A second choice is the building of a viable presidential candidate without the negative association with GMA in time for the 2010 elections. As in the first choice, this will maintain the ruling coalition but necessitates an early distancing from GMA or–more difficult–the positive upturn of GMA’s popularity.

A variation of this that benefits Vice-President Noli de Castro is an early retirement for GMA that would put him in the presidential chair to push forward the ruling coalition’s eventual candidate. However, it is a given that whoever this candidate will be, he or she will be campaigning with a huge millstone around his or her neck because of the present administration’s unpopularity, especially if GMA is still around in 2010.

Failure to make the above choices will effectively dissolve the ruling coalition and create a free-for-all where the strong presidentiables raid the ranks of the coalition to augment their own electoral coalitions. This will be evident in the incoming year as serious contenders make their moves to create the critical mass for their candidacies.

In terms of the opposition, Casiple lays out the main challenges, chief of which is the one that Doronila (see his piece above) credits Estrada with setting out to do: consolidate its forces (see Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, however, for his views on past presidents being permanently disqualified from running for the presidency again):

The momentary issue for the opposition (or for presidential hopefuls within the ruling coalition) is the possibility of a GMA endrun for a continued stay in power through a constitutional change. This possibility, though more remote than before, has to be laid to rest before the real battle for 2010 commences. 2008 therefore will lay the ground (or set the terms) for 2010.

In a situation where the president steps down or is passive in the 2010 presidential elections, the opposition–and the ruling coalition–will fragment and their component forces will go their own way to form new coalitions behind the presidentiables. The opposition as such will become irrelevant and the GMA factor will be a non-issue, except as another campaign issue against former administration candidates.

On the other hand, if the president continues on to 2010 or actively intervenes in the 2010 elections, then the main issue of the elections will be her administration’s legitimacy and record. The opposition, in this situation, needs to unite to ensure victory against the vast resources and machinery of the administration. Failure to do so will divide the protest vote and effectively jeopardize the chances of all opposition candidates.

The opposition (or the presidentiables from their ranks) will have its work cut out in 2008. A critical mass has to be formed behind one presidentiable capable of getting out the winning votes. The operative word here–crass though it may be to political reformers–is ADDITION.

A shrewd political observer I talked to over the weekend distilled both points into three broad questions which will determine things, politically, this year:

1. Will the President be more liberal, or restrictive?

2. Will the armed forces be adventurers, or remain firmly wedded to the constitutional order?

3. Will the public be active or passive?

My editor at the Philippines Free Press last week gave me my first assignment for the year. “I want you to explore whether the President can turn things around, and recover her popularity,” he said. The result of this challenge was the following:

MARILYN Monroe once said, “I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle… But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” The President of the Philippines is no blonde bombshell, but maintains much the same defiant, even petulant, attitude toward her critics. Divided as her critics may be on what they want to accomplish, the President has only two things to say to them: “I will survive,” and “I will continue to be relevant.”

Her perpetually having to be in survival mode is a problem unique to her administration; that of making every effort to remain relevant is an occupational hazard faced by all presidents approaching the end of their constitutional term.

Political analyst Mon Casiple says this year “will lay the ground (or set the terms) for 2010.” According to him, the President can do one of three things: try to extend her stay in office; intervene, actively, in the election of her successor; or step down gracefully and not bother with trying to influence the outcome of the 2010 presidential race. At stake is not just her personal and political safety, but also, the prospects for the continuing control of the levers of power by the coalition she’s built up and maintained, and the opportunities for her critics to gain control of those levers for themselves.

The President has been able to face down constitutional and extra-constitutional challenges to her rule; she has done so, not by mobilizing public support, but by capitalizing on public mistrust of the entire political class –and by mobilizing the resources available to her as the incumbent. Patronage, whether in cash or kind, by means of promotions or demotions, has kept her coalition much more united and purposeful than her opponents. She has also managed to step back from the brink whenever any administration initiative, such as the proposal to amend the constitution, threatens to galvanize opposition to her government.

Recently, the President said she was a better economist than she was a politician –a statement that inevitably sparked a debate on whether she was good at being either. What’s significant is not whether her self-analysis was objectively true, but rather, what it revealed about her. Her belief in herself as an economist first, and a politician second, may have been there all along, but has been unevenly expressed throughout her term. That she is more comfortable with herself helps explain, to my mind, why she has both endured and continues to maintain the allegiance of a significant portion of the population. Her self-satisfaction taps into a yearning from those sectors who consider it a virtue to sacrifice some of their freedoms in order to move the nation forward.

In contrast to the equally significant portion of the population convinced she has indeed presided over the erosion of freedom while not really moving the nation forward. To be sure, this analysis requires the stipulation that we accept that the surveys are correct: a quarter of the population solidly supports the president, another quarter tolerates her as the lesser evil and the least-inconvenient option, and the other half of the population can’t stand her but are utterly divided among themselves on what they want as an alternative.

In such a situation, essentially a battle of attrition, survival is highly probable so long as both sides continue to have access to resources. The President, by virtue of her controlling the national treasury, possessing the appointing power, and playing off the provinces versus the metropolis. Her critics, by means of their ability to marshal public opinion, have denied her total control of Congress and continue to flourish in pockets of opposition-controlled provinces and cities. Neither side, however, is capable of mounting an offensive to crush the enemy.

But the President’s attempt to make a virtue of her unpopularity, can’t obscure the fact that she holds a job whose powers are built on the cultivation of popularity. It is popularity that provides a president with room to maneuver, which allows a chief executive to pull the rug out from under the opposition, and which cushions the impact of programs or policies that may be unpleasant, but necessary for the common good.

The President and her team have tapped into simple, but effective, messages that resonate with enough of the public to keep the opposition divided and the rest wedded to the status quo. These messages are: the peso is strong, and the stock market high; we are attending to the serious business of governing while ignoring political noise; and we are pursuing infrastructure and economic reform while avoiding exotic and frightening economic options beloved by certain sectors in the opposition.

In the meantime, the administration has been fairly careful to avoid closing off the avenues that allow the public to do their own thing, never mind if the government takes credit for private sector achievements. Emigration abroad is encouraged; overseas contract work continues to be proclaimed a form of heroism. The real mass media, radio and television, has been kept manageable through a combination of co-opting individual media practitioners and the use of government media to sound a constant note, if not of reality, then of achievement and optimism. Print media has born the brunt of government pressure, applied more consistently and daringly than in the case of other media, which anyway has proven liable to being divided and easily intimidated.

Intervention in the business sphere has been less clumsy than in the case of past administrations: there is no Midnight Cabinet, deal-making is done overseas or in private homes and golf clubs, no particular business group or company has been targeted for destruction, and presidential corruption can at worst, be whispered about, but there are no obvious cases of high living or high-profile acquisitions to make businessmen and the middle class particularly nervous. Even in terms of the political class, the administration can be said to take things less personally than the opposition: once back in the administration fold, there’s far less lecturing and hectoring than takes place in opposition ranks.

Every bill, however, has a due date. Presidents use popularity to both charm and intimidate not only their critics, but their followers. Kissinger famously said power is an aphrodisiac and the art of seduction is an integral part of the political game. Bereft of charm, the President’s policy has been to buy the love of her supporters, but being transactional, there isn’t any real warmth: diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but cannot sustain political friendship. What real loyalty does the President command, or more precisely, can she continue to command, as the country prepares to select her successor?

This is her dilemma. It is a dilemma that presumes she is no different from her predecessors in wanting to accomplish three things in her last years in office: go down in history positively; remain influential (and safe); and possibly, convince the country it needs the incumbent more than it needs a replacement as chief executive. Ideally, every president (except for Corazon Aquino, the only exception in terms of never showing an interest in perpetuating herself in power) wants to accomplish all three. Though of the three, the last is, perhaps, the most expendable.

If we take the President at her word, meaning she looks forward to stepping down on June 30, 2010, her main problem becomes figuring out when to make her resolve unambiguous, without turning herself into a very lame duck. If her last State of the Nation address is any guide, she prefers ambiguity to the certainty of being a lame duck. In adopting this attitude, she makes recovering a semblance of popularity, virtually an impossibility. No President likes being unpopular, but any president would prefer actual power, to impotently enjoying the affections of a fickle people.

The President’s main task, then, becomes threefold: continuing to pay off political debts but not so recklessly and lavishly as to arouse the people; keeping everyone guessing as to what she truly intends to do in 2010, while pursuing every means to keep every option (including an extension of her term or a change to parliamentary government) on the table without, again, solidifying the opposition; and keeping the pressure valves –the OFW remittance cash cow, a healthy stock and property market, a content upper and middle class- operational.

She does not have to do these things particularly well; she never has. She only has to keep the impression going, that everything she does is not on an ad hoc basis, but instead, is based on a plan. That plan is simple: keep remittances coming in, which obscures the weaknesses of the domestic economy; keep the deficit under a semblance of control, by means of selling off government assets; juggling tax collections and spending so as to never put a crimp on her doling out patronage; and creating as many jobs as necessary for her supporters, whether civilian or military to maintain their tactical support.

Along the way, she can hope that she continues to enjoy better luck than her enemies. This includes hoping that nothing takes place in the outside world, that threatens to close off any of the safety valves in our society and economy. In the absence of anything extreme taking place, she can expect to coast along, and with her, the country. Lurching from event to event, but without risking any fundamental change, may not seem much in terms of governance, but what matters is that the President believes –and with her, her supporters- that along the way, small, incremental changes have been made.

At the start of her term, the President said she hoped not to be a great, but simply, a good president. Her legacy has been to take these diminished expectations, and convince enough of the country that it is better to do small things, and not bother with the big things –and who, in the end, can argue that this is not a genuine achievement? For a President who may not be loved, but who is tolerated, still gets to wield the same thing –power.

My column for today, Shod and unshod, takes its cue from the Sunday column of Joseph Gonzales. My column also makes reference to Randy David’s Civic duty and national renewal. In his column, David does his own distilling, this time in terms of what modernity demands of the citizenry:

The modern society that is upon us demands that we abide by its most basic rules. They are not difficult to understand. What are these? Three things, basically: (1) Fall in line and wait for your turn; (2) Know the rules and follow them; (3) Come on time. These simple rules will permit us to navigate the complex terrain of the modern world with ease. There is not a single modern society in the world today that does not strictly enforce these rules.

He then goes on to make a point about the evils of patronage, and with this particular point in mind, I’d like to refer you back to my entry, Charismatic expectations in noncharismatic times, where David’s point is echoed in the writing of Gary Wills, who makes reference to Max Weber and others whose thinking has influenced David’s, as a Sociologist.

At its simplest, the point is, a modern society relies on a bureaucracy to fulfill the social purposes that politicians dispensing patronage used to provide.

Via Touched by An Angel, found out about this article in the January 6 Manila Bulletin. Am grateful to WikiPilipinas.

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  1. Supremo: “Pork here is so lean they are tasteless. Pork in the Phillippines is full of fat. Very yummy!” You must be talking of the fat, urban pigs in RP (they are fed with B-Meg and Vitarich feeds). Try going to the barrios, and you will find our lechons much tastier and yummier….. just like our lean beef and native chicken, hehehehe!

  2. “Or, if there is some larger entity responsible for it, it’s more likely the political institution that wrecks havoc.”

    Last I heard: in a democracy, the politicians and their politics merely reflect the sentiments and QUALITY of the voters.

  3. cvj:”Why do you blame ‘democracy’ when it’s clear from the above that the problem is ‘rent seeking’” Sorry, it’s not me. Silent Waters said that. – hawaiinguy

    Yes, that question was meant for Silent Waters (whose name i indicated in the blockquote). Sorry i wasn’t clear.

    The Chinese are singled out because they succeeded despite the presence of the things ‘indios’ are complaining of 24/7. Them (plus the Tisoys) not getting into manufacturing is another matter. – Anthony Scalia

    It’s not ‘another matter’. It’s the core of Benign0’s argument (as well as yours at January 8th, 2008, 11:15 pm). You criticize the OFW’s for packing up their bags instead of beginning to build ‘world-class manufactured products’ when the Tsinoys (for reasons Silent Waters enumerated) have not done the same. That’s the double standard. For one group (the ‘Pinoys’), it’s ‘cultural’, for the other (the ‘Tsinoys’), it’s a matter of business sense. That line of reasoning is not consistent at all.

  4. BrianB: It is not a lack of imagination but a lack of venture capital, a lot of internal investments. Do you know how much it takes to improve aerodynamics in a vehicle. All the testing and redesign. All those little shops can do is copy badly the designs of foreign manufacturers.

    I dont believe all they couldve done is to copy badly those tried and tested designs of foreign manufacturers. The Pinoy auto industry could copy them and could copy them well. That’s what Japan did: copy. The fact is they didnt. I have often wondered about this. They must have known about the complaints about the ‘owner-type’ vehicles. It had all the potential to be the Pinoy family car if the ergonomics were improved. Maybe part of the problem is the status-consciousness of the Pinoy middle class: “Owner? Pare, ang cheap mo. Bili ka ng Honda.” Of course a huge part of the problem is that the Pinoy manufactured vehicles were simply uncomfortable, inefficient, and just didnt do as a family car even if it costs half of what a Honda would cost.

    As for venture capital, what can I say? Ive long complained about the bias of venture capitalists against home-grown technology and innovations, such that these creative people are forced to work elsewhere. If I recall correctly, that’s what happened to the guy who developed an engine that runs on water electrolysis?

    C at: There was an opportunity for [Sarao] to use sophisticated machines to speed up production but he decided against it. Many people would lose jobs.

    Very commendable. Im all for labor-intensive input if that’s all we can afford. We’re a poor country and we should use technology appropriate for us. But again my point was that the Sarao jeepney never improved in either design or comfort. The drivers and passengers never complained, showing the Filipino trait for bearing suffering (until it boils over), maybe that’s why development never took place.

  5. Benigno:”Last I heard: in a democracy, the politicians and their politics merely reflect the sentiments and QUALITY of the voters.”

    That’s very true, in a very ideal sense. I couldn’t agree with more on that. But what if the votes you and I cast are “manipulated” (ala “hello Garci”). Just one concrete case. Remember this guy Bedol in Maguindanao? He counted the votes for Zubiri instead of the more popular Mindanawon Koko Pimentel. Ah, democracy, Philippine style?

  6. You again regress to pandering to victim mentalities and hollow-headed racial sentiments rather than see the matter for what it is – Benign0

    What i see is a double standard. Let me put it another way. You agreed above (at 6:42 am) that, because of the prevailing business environment, it makes business sense for the Chinese business community not to invest in manufacturing. However, for the ‘natives’, you attribute it to their ‘culture’.

    the REALITY that the Tsinoys are distinct in every aspect: ethnicity, economic, social, and cultural. – Benign0

    In one respect, they are similar to the rest of Pinoys in their, as yet, being unable to (or refusing to) set-up ‘world class manufacturing’ businesses.
    Besides, your analysis relies too much on correlation. Forgetting that correlation does not necessarily mean causation leads to attribution errors (which you have been very efficient in making).

    Jeg, in the case of Sarao, where was the State in this picture? In Japan, Toyota received decades of government support before it became world class.

  7. “But what if the votes you and I cast are “manipulated” (ala “hello Garci”).”

    And what if they weren’t? Would it really make a difference? If the votes weren’t manipulated and FPJ was president today, do you think the Philippines would have improved its prospects for prosperity significantly?

    Lots of hollow-heads have used this whole “hello Garci” distraction as their core argument about why the Philippines cannot move on. But we fail to grasp that the power to move on lies in the people and society and not on any one sitting president.

  8. cvj: Jeg, in the case of Sarao, where was the State in this picture?

    If I recall correctly, the State was busy wooing Toyota to set up shop in the Philippines, promising them cheap labor and a heavy hand against strikers. (By the way, does Toyota still make cars here? I know Ford does.)

    Everyone, Im an advocate of small government as well, but the State is there. We pay it to do its job. If I understand him correctly, what cvj is trying to say is that we the people, should get on the State’s a$$ and demand that it performs for we the people. In cvj’s words, ‘take back the State from the oligarchs.’

  9. Jeg, from H.J. Chang:

    Once upon a time, the leading car maker of a developing country exported its first passenger cars to the US. Up to that day, the little company had only made shoddy products – poor copies of quality items made by richer countries. The car was nothing too sophisticated – just a cheap subcompact (one could have called it ‘four wheels and an ashtray’). But it was a big moment for the country and its exporters felt proud.

    Unfortunately, the product failed. Most thought the little car looked lousy and savvy buyers were reluctant to spend serious money on a family car that came from a place where only second-rate products were made. The car had to be withdrawn from the US market…

    …The year was 1958 and the country was, in fact, Japan. The company was Toyota, and the car was called the Toyopet. Toyota started out as a manufacturer of textile machinery (Toyoda Automatic Loom) and moved into car production in 1933. The Japanese government kicked out General Motors and Ford in 1939 and bailed out Toyota with money from the Central Bank (Bank of Japan) in 1949. – H.J. Chang, Bad Samaritans

    The presence (or absence) of a major State role is one of the major differences between Toyota (in Japan) and Sarao Motors (in the Philippines).

  10. Lots of hollow-heads have used this whole “hello Garci” distraction as their core argument about why the Philippines cannot move on. But we fail to grasp that the power to move on lies in the people and society and not on any one sitting president. – Benign0

    Maybe it’s because of decades of poor government but people (including you Benign0) seem to be in denial about the crucial role that the State plays in development. That indeed explains why ‘Hello Garci’ is not a big deal to you.

    The issue of ‘Hello Garci’ (vs FPJ) is one of those defining moments. Will our leaders be chosen by the people or will it be up to a bunch of shadowy operators and their elite benefactors?

  11. “What i see is a double standard. Let me put it another way. You agreed above (at 6:42 am) that, because of the prevailing business environment, it makes business sense for the Chinese business community not to invest in manufacturing. However, for the ‘natives’, you attribute it to their ‘culture’.” – cvj

    Nope.

    The ‘indio’ culture created the prevailing business environment.

    This business environment is of a nature that (1) discourages businesses to invest in anything more than sweatshops and celphone trinket shopS, AND (3) discourages our most skilled compatriots from investing their lives eking out a living within the islands.

    No double standard there. You just got your baselines mixed up.

    Sarao closed shop maybe because its management and owner failed to imagine a world-class Sarao Motors going head-to-head with the Japanese and Americans sometime in the future. Then again, maybe it didn’t bother. Maybe it made better business sense to liquidate and invest the proceeds of said liquidation in some foreign fund. Who knows? Either way it doesn’t matter. Business sense gives owners of capital the prerogative to do what they want with their money.

    The Tsinoys used vision and imagination to accumulate their capital from virtually nothing. They now use their business sense to decide where to put that capital TODAY. The problem with the ‘indios’ is that we haven’t mastered that first step (accumulating capital from nothing) that the Tsinoys had perfected a couple of generations ago (in the Philippines at least).

    And here you are comparing the proverbial apple with the proverbial orange. Nice work in the thinking department, dude.

  12. Bencard,

    “vic, i agree with you. besides, we now have 90 million people in the home country? what happens if the other 6 million or so abroad came back for good? it’s a powder-keg!”

    Why is it a powder keg?

  13. cvj, there’s a lot more “defining moments” that are far more crucial to philippine political life than the so-called hello garci criminal wiretap. marcos’ two decades of dictatorship and greed, and estrada’s heinous plunder of the state’s treasury, are two of those that could each take the cake as 1st and 2nd prize, respectively. let’s not lose our sense of reality because of current partisan emotion.

    mb, close to 100 million people in a country the size of a relatively minor u.s. state of arizona is not a powder keg? that, man, could blow you out to kingdom come in no time.

  14. The major obstacle in industrializing Philippines is the inavailability of coal. Metal industry which is the backbone of any modern country is dependent on coal. Smelting, casting of engine block, valves, pump casing and forging pipe fittings require coal. Even electronics requiring plastic cases and enclosures need casted mouldings shaped by heat of coal. Filipinos have to admit that our resources are only brains and arms. Our coconut industry has suffered much from cholesterol and transfats, sugar price is going up and down

  15. Benigno,

    Hollow heads? Be careful, your words just reflect on you or the people you defend. To me and many others, those who insist in defending or participate in the lying and cheating are the real hollow heads. They think they can always fool the people all the time.

    Yes, only society could say, “let’s move on and forget the whole thing.” So far, I only hear Gloria and her apologists saying it.

  16. Anthony Scalia,

    [“But the government provides jobs. There are millions on the government payroll and millions more who have jobs in companies that do business with government”
    kindly tell that to: (1) all OFWs so they would go back here and work for the government, and (2) to all prospecting OFWs so they dont have to leave the country]

    Do you dispute that fact?

    [tsk tsk tsk. a true entrepreneur does not wait for the right environment to come into place. its a good thing Henry Sy wasnt into the blaming mood when he expanded his business at the worse possible time ever, the years after Ninoy’s death and prior to EDSA 1.]

    Don’t confuse true entrepreneur with lucky entrepreneur. A lot of unlucky entrepreneurs lost their shirts during that period. Henry Sy was not the only who made investments during that time.

    A true entrepreneur goes into a business with eyes wide open. A lucky enterpreneur is a true enterpreneur who succeeds.
    .
    [and maybe you’re not aware of the problem of job mismatch. its getting severe. another reason for high unemployment is the lack of qualified manpower to staff unfilled jobs.]

    And is this not the result of failure to create forward looking education policies that produces the right graduates for the right jobs? Is education policy not the responsibility of government?

    [“Gloria set a target of a million jobs a year. She only managed to produce 400,000 jobs in 2007″

    wow, i can’t believe you seriously expected her to produce those numbers. and even more surprising, you sincerely expected that she would produce any jobs at all! you should know, of all people, na pa-pogi points lang yung claims nya of job creation]

    When a politician runs for an elective position, he runs on the promise and premise that under his leadership his country will be better off. That means providing services and security so that people can go about their business in a positive environment.

    Now the only time this can be done is when a government, assuming it’s honest, farsighted, and efficient, can afford to do it. That presumes a healthy business environment and a sound economy – jobs and high employment.

    So when a politician makes a promise or sets a target of producing jobs you should see it as more then pogi points.

    [“Consequently, if there were no overseas employment opportunities Gloria will have to figure out how to provide jobs for at least 8 million people”
    thats the problem of Pinoys – iniaasa lahat sa pangulo!]

    So the problem lies not with the Pinoys who know and understand what is expected of their leaders. The problem is with Pinoys who read a bumper sticker slogan like “government does not provide jobs” and think it’s the smartest thing they ever saw.

  17. Bencard,

    “mb, close to 100 million people in a country the size of a relatively minor u.s. state of arizona is not a powder keg? that, man, could blow you out to An additional 8 million is a powder keg if you presume that all those people are going to live on welfare. But what if even half those people are brilliant, hard working enterpreneurs who were are going back because the Philippines is now, as you claim, an Enchanted Kingdom under Gloria, wouldn’t you be advocating for more balikbayans?

    It’s not the raw numbers Bencard, it’s the quality of the people and the environment they live in that counts.

  18. Bencard,

    OOPs…this is how the previous comment should look,

    “mb, close to 100 million people in a country the size of a relatively minor u.s. state of arizona is not a powder keg? that, man, could blow you out to …”

    An additional 8 million is a powder keg if you presume that all those people are going to live on welfare. But what if even half those people are brilliant, hard working enterpreneurs who were are going back because the Philippines is now, as you claim, an Enchanted Kingdom under Gloria, wouldn’t you be advocating for more balikbayans?

  19. “If the votes weren’t manipulated and FPJ was president today, do you think the Philippines would have improved its prospects for prosperity significantly?” – Benigno.

    I would rather have a president who won fair and square, no matter how stupid or incompetent, than a cheating and lying president. No, I didn’t vote for FPJ, but neither did I for an incorrigible liar. May I ask, how could you be presumptuous that RP would not grow in prosperity under FPJ?

  20. digressing a little bit from the topics of this thread, sen. hillary rodham clinton won the new hampshire primary by 3% of the votes cast. a lot of rotten eggs on the faces of survey pools’ people, who predicted double digit win for obama. thought i would break the news here. i’m elated.
    oh…. so far i haven’t heard of any “cheating” or dagdag bawas charges and i’m certain i never will.

  21. Bencard,

    One of those so-called surveyors is FoxNews. Like other instant pollsters, I think the survey was unscientific. They might have only interviewed any man/woman they met on the street, not using a random (probability) sampling. No wonder that the results digressed by 180 degrees from the predicted.

  22. Benigno, cannot seem to grasp that no matter how brilliant people in society are, if the State isn’t, those brilliance will either be: wasted or driven away.

    govt influences every aspect of social life, that it would be very hard to progress with a very backward leadership. the mere presence of idiots in power holds back the country from truly developing.

    and then Benigno would argue: but who put these idiots in power?

    lol. as if Gloria was a product of the ignorant masses. or Marcos.

    is it a vicious cycle then? the people vote for idiots bec they are ignorant. they are ignorant bec the idiots they vote in power don’t care abt our educational system. or rather, the people they vote in power like our educational system the way it is. so that they can keep on being voted into power…

    is that why the executive doesn’t want DepEd or Ched from being an independent institution? away from the clutches and interference of politics?

    so how can you lift a country out of ignorance and poverty when that same ignorance and poverty is what keeps them in that rut in the first place? hope for the people to become creative and innovative to hark on development as Benigno suggests? crap, that’s putting the cart before the horse.

    and how do you reform the educational system when it is the very same leaders the masses vote for that hamper reforms in that sector? christ, it is a vicious cycle!

  23. Devilsadvc8, the problem looks more daunting if you stick to Benign0’s simplistic problem statement. That doesn’t have to be the case.

  24. I would rather have a president who won fair and square, no matter how stupid or incompetent, than a cheating and lying president. No, I didn’t vote for FPJ, but neither did I for an incorrigible liar. May I ask, how could you be presumptuous that RP would not grow in prosperity under FPJ?

    let me second that hawaiian. and even if we wallow in the pits of economic depression (as most middle class and elite fear we would under erap and fpj), that electoral stupidity is easier to rectify by not voting any such kind of animal again in the succeeding elections, dahil mas madaling makaka-alala ang taong napaso sa sariling mantika. what is more difficult to reconstruct and rebuilt are democratic and constitutional principles that were trampled upon and tinkered with under the guise of the rule of law. because then it gives the people false sense of security that all is well, and that we can just move on even after the rape is repeatedly made. only a harlot will allow this to happen.

  25. IE:”(difficult to) reconstruct and rebuilt are democratic and constitutional principles that were trampled upon and tinkered with under the guise of the rule of law.”

    You got it right! May I also add, under the “rule of money” (Fr. Bernas’s pun), for the bayong-bayong na pera Gloria distributed to her cabals and protectors as pre-X’mas gifts, while millions of govt employees were only given half the promised P10,000 bonus.

    And they say, “Let’s move on?”

  26. CVJ

    Am only blaming democracy in the sense that people like to shoot their mouth off before even studying if a project is worthwhile or not. They denigrate a project if it’s not to their liking or advantage. Democracy per se is not bad, it’s the perversion of democracy in the Philippines to meet the agenda of certain individuals/groups/interests that’s bad.

  27. Silent Waters, what you ust described may happen even under a dictatorship. In fact, it happens all the time within a large corporation which as we know, is not a democracy. The thing is, i get the feeling that many in the business-oriented Tsinoy community believe that a dictatorship is ok as long as it suits them. For example, if a dictatorship prohibits labor strikes, then it’s labeled pro-business. If it prohibits capital strikes (i.e. capital controls), it’s accused of being anti-business. This is preferred to the democratic option of negotiation and coordination. It’s almost as if Tsinoys are anti-social when it comes to dealing with people outside their community.

  28. Benign0, as i mentioned yesterday, you made a very good observation on what is missing from the Philippine economy (a January 8th, 2008, 1:08 pm) when you mentioned that:

    The economy gains for what the labour that goes into these goods is worth, not for what the end product actually sells for in the market.

    You also added that:

    Any third-world bunghole can manufacture. But what sets apart the men from the boys is the ability to design and innovate at world-class levels. – Benign0 – January 8th, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    However, you then refuse to ask the next logical question, which is, why are the Tsinoys unable to do this as well? Instead, you dwell on the failings of ‘indio culture’ when in fact, the Tsinoys, for all their business acumen, are in the same boat in terms of their inability to get into world class manufacturing (unlike, for example, the Koreans, Japanese and their counterparts in Taiwan). For this, you do not blame ‘Tsinoy culture’ but rather the ‘business environment’. Why the different yardsticks?

    I am trying hard to see a non-racist explanation for your inconsistency.

  29. “For example, if a dictatorship prohibits labor strikes, then it’s labeled pro-business. If it prohibits capital strikes (i.e. capital controls), it’s accused of being anti-business. This is preferred to the democratic option of negotiation and coordination. It’s almost as if Tsinoys are anti-social when it comes to dealing with people outside their community.” — cvj

    Well, let’s not be such a cry-baby about the reality that people and groups of people look out for themselves FIRST before extending any kind of facade of altruism when facing the rest of the world.

    Kaya nga democracy e. When we vote, we vote with our personal interests in mind and then let the collective will EMERGE out of that whole PROCESS.

    Note the emphasis on ’emerge’ and ‘process’.

    Unless we allow the process to settle down and work properly (which cannot be achieved through an addiction to ocho-ocho rallies and shallow partisan specul-eering), we cannot expect to see any results emerge as said process is allowed to pan out.

    Tsinoys will vote with their business interests in mind. Jeepney drivers will vote with their smoke-belching rights and access to cheap deisel in mind. Mangyans will vote with their right to live in caves in mind. Visayans will vote with their right to eat durian in mind.

    Everyone has their personal interests, and the whole point of democracy is to allow everyone to vote with these interests as paramount and ALLOW THE PROCESS to iron out the collective will taking all these into account.

  30. Benign0, we don’t have to be so small-minded and myopic when it comes to our self-interest. There’s such a thing as enlightened self-interest and the reciprocity that goes with it. These go with the feeling of belonging to a larger community. That makes up the social-capital which some economists say is what the more economically successful communities possess.

    Anyway, it’s an improvement to see that you’re now arguing on behalf of democracy after dismissing it (at 10:46 am above).

  31. Very commendable. Im all for labor-intensive input if that’s all we can afford. We’re a poor country and we should use technology appropriate for us. But again my point was that the Sarao jeepney never improved in either design or comfort. The drivers and passengers never complained, showing the Filipino trait for bearing suffering (until it boils over), maybe that’s why development never took place.

    When we talk about jeepneys, people just think of Sarao when there are already other types of jeepneys which were improvements of the former Jeep-knees type of transportation.

    In Cebu, they have the multi-cabs (their version of jeepney) which are already being exported to other countries such as Cuba.

    Francisco Motors which developed Anfra and utility pick-up trucks is collaborating with the domestic auto parts manufacturers in coming up with a national vehicle called PHUV.

  32. CVJ

    Please don’t get me wrong. Up to now, you persists in labeling me as anti-democracy. I am all for it, but not in the way it is being exercised in our country today. Democracy for the sake of destruction is not democracy, it’s anarchy. Democracy for the sake of one’s selfish interest is anarchy. As you yourself said, there must be enlightened self interest and reciprocity. Meron ba ngayon? It doesn’t even matter whether one is rich or poor, Tsinoy, Tisoy or Pinoy, Professional or laborer, etc. At this point, democracy ain’t working because THERE IS NO ENLIGHTENED SELF INTEREST EXISTING in our country. ANd that is why I think another system may be better GIVEN present circumstances.

  33. Silent Waters, since you assert that there is no enlightened self-interest existing in the country, i take it that it covers the Tsinoys as well. So what do you think is preventing the Tsinoy community from practicing enlightened self-interest and reciprocity?

  34. Honestly, survival….a lot of the second generation tsinoys do not enjoy the same set of circumstances as the first generation. The world of perfect information is almost upon us and therefore, it is certainly a lot harder to make money than before.

    In fact, quite a few businesses run by second generation tsinoys have basically shut down or in a lot of debt. The margins manufacturing should make (around 25-30% gross) does not exists for manufacturing and industry to be viable.

    BTW, what is it with your fixation with Tsinoys. Malaki ata ang galit mo sa grupo na iyan. All I hear about from you is negativity regarding that racial group. Then when I harp about Pinoy shortcomings, you scream bloddy murder. WHat is good for the goose should be good for the gander too, you know?

  35. Regarding receiprocity. I don’t even know what else you seem to want from the community. A lot of times, the shortcomings of the governmnet has been filled up by the community in terms of donated school buildings, calamity relief, etc. etc. There are phlanthropists out there who have provided education to the deserving youth with nary a mention in the newspapers because IT”S NOT NEEDED. I have friends who have contributed time and energy in order to help orphans have a better place in this world. SO what is really your problem? You need the tsinoys to tout their altruism? Sakit yun ng mga pinoy…kailangan ipagmalaki ang pagiging charitable. The TSinoy do not need to do that. What is important is that we have contributed our share to society.

    ANg problema sa iyo CVJ, nandun ka pa rin sa SIngapore. Umuwi ka dito para tumulong. HIndi yung mag kibitz lang diyan. HIndi yung maghihintay pag magreretiro na bago iaalay ang sarili sa bansa.

  36. Lastly, on the one hand, you seem to not want to have a distinction between tsinoys and pinoys in our previous blog discussion. I try to avoid making that distinction as much as possible so as to avoid any impression of an us vs them attitude, which is not what I am trying to say. But you then keep insisting on bringing up that distinction in these discussions. So saan ba tayo dapat? I turn the tables on you. You seemed to have a problem with Benigno making a false distinction between Tsinoys failing because of the business environment and Pinoys failing due to culture. Well,why then are you now implying that Tsinoys seemed to have a monopoly as the cause of Philippines backwardness? Para tuloy feeling ko, walang Pinoy sa Pilipinas, puro Tsinoy lang.

  37. Tuloy, in all these blog discussions, whether in previous entries or now, I get the feeling talaga that you have it in for the Tsinoy community. Please correct me if I am wrong. The way you discuss your position, the Pinoys can do no wrong and every fault is made by the Tsinoy community.

  38. silent waters, simple lang yon. sa palagay ko inggit. isa pa, dapat mayroong sisihin. e ayaw namang sisihin ang sarili. di ba?

  39. Silent Waters, in our more successful neighbors, their government made arrangements such that the local manufacturers can preserve their margins given certain performance requirements (e.g. export targets). Their experience shows that government has a big role to play in building up an industrial base. Unfortunately, our own government adopted Neo-liberal prescriptions where it plays a minimal role.

    My questions and comments about Tsinoys (and the Tsinoy community) is motivated by my belief that an open discussion between Pinoys and Tsinoys is in order. That’s better than letting matters fester under the covers. Anyway, my beef is not with Tsinoys but with elitists among our society (whether Tsinoy or Pinoy).

    I don’t even think that Tsinoys are a separate racial group (in the biological sense). The original inhabitants who are the ancestors of majority of Pinoys even came from Taiwan. During pre-hispanic times, i think these settlers and traded between Chinese in the mainland, some of whom of the latter intermarried, settled and were linguistically assimilated. This gradual process of assimilation got disrupted during the Spanish and American periods which is why we now have the Chinese ghettoes populated by the more recent arrivals.

    The kind of reciprocity that i think is lacking is a sense civic responsibility in the political arena. In the previous thread, i asked Anthony Scalia, your fellow Tsinoy, whether or not he considers it his responsibility as a citizen to hold Gloria Arroyo to account for her cheating. He responded:

    i dont see it as my citizenly obligation now, as helping in job-creation at present is more important. – anthony scalia, January 7th, 2008 at 9:58 am

    That betrays a basic ignorance of one’s duty as a citizen apart from economics. I’m sure you wouldn’t tolerate being cheated in your business activities so why is it no big deal when cheating happens in the political arena where we all have a stake in?

    Aside from this, i am hoping that, as a community, you would police your ranks of cronies and rent-seekers who kowtow and conspire with corrupt politicians. As a community, you shouldn’t just look the other way.

  40. cvj, why do you still persist in your trick question? how can you expect anthony to answer that without you first proving that gma cheated? just saying that she cheated, without proof, is as empty as the head that formulates that type of question.

  41. cvj, to help you comprehend what a trick question is, i’ll give you a classic one: as a good citizen, will you ever stop drinking and beating up your wife?

  42. as a good citizen, will you ever stop drinking and beating up your wife? – Bencard

    I don’t think drinking makes you a ‘bad citizen’ as long as it’s done in moderation and you don’t drink and drive.
    I have never beaten up my wife.
    Where’s the trick in this? You forgot to restrict me to a yes/no answer.

    Similarly, in the case of my question to Anthony, it only becomes a trick (i.e. loaded) question if i forced Anthony to restrict his answer to ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I imposed no such restrictions and he gave the above answer.

  43. “cvj, why do you still persist in your trick question? how can you expect anthony to answer that without you first proving that gma cheated? just saying that she cheated, without proof, is as empty as the head that formulates that type of question. – Bencard”

    Am not answering for cvj. Sorry to say, this statement is as empty-headed, if not more so as the utterer. Why, are we now in a courtroom? No wonder Bencard tried to trick me into testifying, and Benigno made a similar derogatory remark to me. Insults, ad hominems and calling names have no place in a civil, rational discussion. Do they make a point better or loudly heard?

    On civic duties, please allow me to say my piece. It’s a good thing to exercise all or some of them, but it’s not a bad thing if one doesn’t do anything about it, or do something else different. Only Marxists or their likes would impose on others why the oppressed should revolt and take down the despots before they do further damage. We may have an ocean of lumpenproletariats out there who prefer to do nothing, or do no one’s bidding except their own. Let them be.

    But let it be known, too, that I have the citizenly right to point out what I and others see is WRONG and would like it corrected, if possible. Isn’t this what democracy is about? Nobody should ask me again, where’s your evidence?

  44. hawaiianguy, don’t put words into my mouth. i never “tricked” you into testifying. you were speaking as though you have a handle on “truth” about the “cheating”. so i asked you, why don’t you testify under oath like a good citizen, instead of blubbering something that you only read or heard. you think nakalusot ka by calling philippine court proceeding “moro-moro”? think again, buddy.

    cvj, your question (to anthony) and my sample trick question can only be answered by yes or no. any other answer would be unresponsive. the questions are categorical, and both call for no qualification. i did not ask you to qualify your answer about your “drinking and beating up your wife”, did i?

  45. Bencard, yes, you didn’t use that word on me as you did on cvj. It just gave me an idea that it’s what you meant, by cajoling me to open up and go to the court. Philippine Court not doing a “moro-moro”? Please tell that to the marines!

  46. yeah, hawaiianguy, i would tell the marines that we convict ex presidents like estrada, american marines like smith, congressmen like jalosjos, and we invalidate presidential executive orders like e.o. 464, etc. we also absolve known leftists or accused subversives like satur & batasan 5, and reviled defendants like imelda, among others. as far as you’re concerned, those are “moro-moros”, right?

  47. Bencard, now you are making me fall into a trick, huh? If that’s not a trick, I don’t know what is.

    We were talking about the electoral anomalies, specifically the “hello Garci,” weren’t we? That’s when I used the “moro-moro” thing. Now, you’re skirting the issue, or blowing it out of proportion. Yes, the legal actions that I’ve been seeing about those are “moro-moro.”

    I hate to raise this issue (pabalik-balik lang). Were Garci, Bedol, Moner (the shariah judge who worked with the guys in uniform) and the other operators who worked for Gloria punished? If you can tell me a satisfactory answer straight in the eyes, I’m willing to recant that phrase.

    “..blubbering something that you only read or heard.” Is that a “fact” or “truth” I’ve impressed on you? Please re-read my detailed postings, if you don’t mind.

  48. trying to trick you, hawaiianguy? no sir, i’m not the kind to do that. i don’t have to. maybe you know something that i don’t. has any case ever been filed IN COURT on your “hello garci”? so what legal action are you talking about.

    and who would decide whether the answer i give is satisfactory. you or cvj? i give up!

    i re-read your posting and still i see that you were stating an unqualified fact that you claim can be supported by two friends who “actually” were participant to the act. when i said “blubbering something….i was talking in general as when cvj make conclusions about “gma’s cheating”, as though he was an eyewitness to the alleged illegal act, or a judge in possession of properly-admitted evidence.

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