Labor out of the picture

Check out today’s Business Mirror editorial, on some interesting stock market-friendly legislation poised for passage. In the news, Palace fiat jump-starts national identification system plan (I support a national ID system). Also, Bishops in Palace: What’s wrong with it?True. It’s not as if any should doubt those bishops are Palace acolytes.

Meanwhile, Southeast Asia Vulnerable To Us Recession—Imf. See The Economist’s Next stop Asia? How an American recession might hit Asia:

Asian stockmarkets were until recently big fans of the “decoupling” theory: the notion that Asian economies can shrug off an American recession. This week’s plunge in shares, taking the MSCI Emerging Asia Index down by 25% at one point from its October high, suggests they have changed their minds. But the fact that Asian markets have not decoupled does not necessarily mean that their economies will follow America’s over a cliff.

Decoupling was always a misnomer, seeming to imply that an American recession would have no impact on Asia. In fact exports and hence profits would certainly be reduced. The pertinent argument is that they would be hurt by much less than in previous American downturns.

As well as hitting exports, America’s troubles could affect Asia through various financial channels. Asia’s exposure to the subprime mess is thought to be much smaller than that of American or European banks. Even so, Chinese bank shares tumbled this week on rumours that they would have to make much bigger write-downs on their holdings of American subprime securities. And if stockmarkets slide further as global investors flee from risky assets, this could dampen business and consumer confidence in the region.

Some Asian economies are more vulnerable than others: Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia have exports to America equivalent to 20% or more of their GDPs, compared with only 8% in China and 2% in India. There are already some ominous signs. Singapore’s exports to America are down by 11% over the past year, while Malaysia’s fell by 16%. Exports to other emerging economies and to the European Union surged, so total exports still grew by 6% in both economies. But that was much slower than at the start of the year, and the worry now is that demand from Europe has started to flag.

The growth in China’s exports to America slowed to only 1% (in yuan terms) in the year to December from over 20% in late 2006. So far the impact on GDP growth has been modest. Figures on China’s fourth-quarter GDP are to be published on Thursday January 24th and most economists expect growth to slow to a still healthy 9-10% this year.

China’s economy would probably still expand by around 8-9% even if export growth dried up. During the 2001 American recession China’s GDP barely slowed. In contrast, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia suffered full-blown recessions. America’s recession this time is likely to be deeper than in 2001 and Asia is now more integrated into the global economy. Doomsters conclude, therefore, that these economies could be hit harder this time.

The main reason to be more optimistic is that domestic demand (consumer spending and investment) is likely to remain strong and governments have more flexibility. Last year, despite a slowdown in America’s imports, most Asian economies grew faster as domestic demand speeded up. Robert Prior-Wandesforde, an economist at HSBC, says that those who argue that Asian economies cannot decouple from America are ignoring the fact that they already have. Take Malaysia: exports to America plunged, yet its GDP growth quickened from 5.7% at the end of 2006 to 6.7% in the third quarter of last year.

Something an Israeli businessman asked me about before Christmas, and which turns out to be true: Oil smuggling costs govt P16B yearly.

My column for today is, A familiar passage, more in a Suharto-esque vein. See “Memory holes” by Juan Mercado, too:

Filipinos have “a very special problem” in recalling, Ateneo de Manila University president Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. observes. “It is not just wrong memories. It is the lack of a national memory… The consequence is, we tend to live in a perpetual present. We have little collective memory of the past and thus we can not see well into the future.”

In his novel “1984,” George Orwell depicted a country where citizens thrust into a “memory hole” anything that crossed the whim of rulers. As “memory holes” shredded remembrance, wrong became right, lies replaced truth, and freedom turned into slavery.

Like malign genies, blotted-out memories don’t stay bottled up. They deform daily life. Thus, Imelda Marcos insists that Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship was the “most democratic period in our history.” The communists claim that “majority of (pogrom) victims decided to continue their work,” even praising the carnage. Estrada? Well, some days he can’t recall if his name is Jose Velarde.

All the hullaballoo about the 50th anniversary of SM (see SM through half a century), oddly enough, never mentions how salespeople remain contractual, and have had their contracts reduced to 3 months instead of 6 months as before. As the different political groups start marshaling their forces in preparation for the political engagements to come -whether a referendum campaign for or against constitutional amendments, or for the 2010 elections- the labor vote will be courted.

Yet the labor force, perhaps well-organized for certain unions, remains relatively small and if the May 1 mobilizations are any guide, seem to be shrinking. Unions didn’t prevent the collapse of certain industries, such as textile factories, have remained static in others such as the transport industry, and has no presence in growing ones such as call centers or the hi-tech manufacturing ones; they can’t have a presence in other countries yet sympathetic groups have been marginally successful in terms of mobilizing the OFW vote (potentially immense).

For example, would any effort to mobilize contractual workers at SM result in anything but opening up more contractual jobs? A strike would simply create huge lines for other citizens eager for any sort of SM-related job. Workers picketed PLDT for months but the country shrugged off the news, even when some of the workers claimed they were assaulted.

As entrepreneurship is encouraged, so will an anti-union mentality. And the unions themselves, how can they muster the clout necessary to cater to their members’ needs, when unemployment is so high, which makes any kind of employment desirable and permanent employment a losing proposition for most employers?

On a related note, Filipino entrepreneurs lack ‘culture of innovation’–DOST.

Let me play catch-up with stories that deserve to be followed, but which I haven’t had time to tackle.

1. The revival of Constitutional amendments proposals

Dan Mariano in his column points to

At the Kapihan sa Sulo media forum Saturday, Bataan Gov. Enrique “Tet” Garcia unveiled what he described as a “workable proposal” for Cha-cha through a second PI.

The Union of Local Officials of the Philippines (ULAP), he said, is “seriously considering [another] people’s initiative in proposing amendments to the Constitution to change the present [bicameral] Congress into a unicameral legislative body. That’s all.”

Garcia said that the presidential form of government “shall be maintained to uphold the right of voters to directly elect their chief executive.”

This is just one of several trial balloons. There’s Malacañang ally files House bill making all elected terms 5 years, and there are other proposals to Federalize the country, etc: Philippine Government Drafts Constitutional Amendment to Create Muslim Homeland. See also Gonzales for scrapping Comelec through Charter change. And Nograles proposes election of Con-con delegates in 2010.

Cities reel from unseen IRA cuts suggests one motivation for amendments moves: the expenses of the 3 year term and frequent elections, a business class increasingly able to say no to political demands, at least during campaign season, may be conspiring to push local government leaders to pursue brinkmanship in terms of constitutional changes. The different proposals emerging (trial balloons, as I’ve said) all seem to have gotten the hint from last year’s Cha-Cha debate: no one seems to be seriously proposing parliamentary government, but having thrown in the towel as far as trying to scrap the presidential system is concerned, unicameralism and federalism are being put back on the table.

Meanwhile, Cito Beltran has a point that in places where it’s needed, the national government lacks the political will to confront what Beltran calls Little republics of anarchy. Still, gerrymandering will continue apace, it seems: Mayors oppose bill relaxing cityhood: Local officials contend creating more cities will reduce IRAs for existing cities.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas SJ recently discussed Surgical constitutional change. Reforms enabling state subsidies for political parties, and bloc voting, don’t require constitutional amendments, though.

2. The downgrading of our airport rankings

Let’s start with What US air inspectors found unsafe (most embarrassing of all, on the eve that the unfavorable findings were released, Naia circuit box stolen, which had left the fence beside SLEX without lights for two days). The result? Arroyo fires aviation chief: US Embassy tells citizens to avoid RP airlines (and which derailed PAL’s expansion plans). Meanwhile, damage control: NAIA complies with ICAO standards–MIAA.

So, could it be, Aviation deficiencies resolved by April? Yet RP air talks mostly in limbo. But in the meantime, Another blow to PAL: Forwarders migrating.

For a thorough look at the situation, see this feature by Recto Mercene, who used to be an air traffic controller (of whom we have too few, and who are overworked): Dreams a-crashing to the ground.

3.ZTE continues to fester

While DOTC pushes ‘broadband’: New name, new partners, same network project, the autopsy of ZTE proceeds slowly. A comparison of ZTE’s prices, compared to prevalent prices in the industry, only appeared last Wednesday in the column of Jarius Bondoc (see the informative table in his column). You can verify, for yourself, if you’re technically inclined, whether Bondoc is on to something, or not. See the long-awaited NBN Contract Annexes (for example, in Yugatech’s initial NBN contract reaction, he mentioned that the annexes would be crucial to determining if the contract was really fishy or not).

4. Zubiri in trouble

Last August, in Newsstand, John Nery wrote this, concerning Juan Miguel Zubiri:

He has filed an absurd counter-protest against rival candidate Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, contesting the results of a jaw-dropping 73,000 precincts. (That’s one-third of the entire country.)

I do not know if the SET will give his counter-protest due course; considering that Pimentel didn’t even have enough campaign funds to show more than a handful of TV spots featuring top celebrity endorser Angel Locsin, the claim that he cheated massively is preposterous.

But Zubiri does not need to prove his allegation of election fraud. All he needs to do is tie up the SET in an interminable recount. Pimentel, who believes he was cheated in 2,680 precincts in a total of seven provinces, is confident that the review of election returns he is contesting would be completed in half a year or so. Zubiri’s protest, on the other hand, would take years to resolve.

Redemption? More like a ruthless gaming of the system. The “Senator from Maguindanao” has cynically exploited the limitations of our election rules, to hold on to his job.

Pimentel’s protest has creaked along and while Is it hello Pimentel, goodbye Zubiri? Not quite, it’s enough to have An OFW in Hong Kong comment, sarcastically, he’s convinced Zubiri won -by cheating:

Now that the ballot boxes are being opened for revision (examination to establish correctness), it has even become clearer that all accusations made against Zubiri (and this administration) regarding manipulation of election results in many parts of Mindanao were true.

For how can you explain (a) empty ballot boxes? (b) Ballot boxes containing ballots filled up by one distinct handwriting only? (c) Ballots inside those boxes without the security seals? It’s clear as day, cheating was done!

As expected, the winning senator will not easily abandon his post. That was part of the sham: to be proclaimed as fast as possible because they know that election protests are decided only after soooo looong! Zubiri is now counting on that proven way to cling to a stolen post.

Hence Lakas-CMD projecting Zubiri as one of its spokesmen, as the party wrestles with its lack of real presidential timber, and the “going on leave” of the President’s son, and fresh rumors of the Speaker being toppled when the House resumes its sessions.

In the blogosphere, The Philosophical Bastard reflects on a comment in this blog. Thoughts on what should government’s role be, in Willing Exile:

If we are to look closely at the things that work for us — private initiative in providing services for those who can afford them, courage and determination to work overseas to make extra dollars, contributions by the sectarians in moving education to a higher level (memo to UP on the celebration of your centennial: in five years, if not less, DLSU will overtake you as the pre-eminent Philippine university in terms of academic reputation, quality of graduates, and infrastructure. Accelerate reform now!), innovation and ingenuity in micro-level enterprises — is that in an environment where individual effort and contribution, fairness, excellence, and quality are observed, we do well.

Government’s role has expanded to that point where it has to intervene in everything. When it does that, it tends to stultify initiative and individualism and thus promotes mendicancy and stagnation. Instead of helping themselves, our people point the finger on others, and mostly on the government. Unfortunately, despite our socialist policy efforts, we cannot aspire to become a welfare state like those in Scandinavia. Given the mad scramble of these states to enlist foreign workers to support their retiring citizens, that system is flawed as well.

Methinks the government’s role in most public spheres is to generate consensus to reduce duplication of activities, support innovation, set fair standards. and then punish violators vigorously. This model will definitely work in business, education, sport — while the government can focus on securing our borders within and without, fostering healthy international relations, and promoting cultural identity.

Still, while we can go on theorizing models of government, it still bears to remember that without a proper culture of public service, any model is guaranteed to fail, as it is doing poorly right now in the Philippines. Change must come from the top, while those below must keep on pushing to ensure that happens. To be a truly “strong republic” the citizens will have to be “strong” in mind themselves.

Basapa tackles Why the Philippines Government Can’t Stop Filipinas from Having an Abortion.

And Gridcrosser Files on the Comedia.

132 comments

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    • benign0 on January 24, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    “All the hullaballoo about the 50th anniversary of SM (see SM through half a century), oddly enough, never mentions how salespeople remain contractual, and have had their contracts reduced to 3 months instead of 6 months as before.”

    The three paragraphs following this statement of yours can be summarised in three words: BECAUSE THEY (business) CAN.

    The way labour is treated or the degree of organisation they exhibit (dismal) is merely a reflection of the demand for labour in the Philippine economy (also dismal).

    And anybody whose actually transacted with an SM saleslady straightaway can tell that each one of them is as easily replaceable as the next country lass fresh of the boat in North Harbour.

    • Levy on January 24, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Indeed, it is unfortunate that in order to preserve their jobs, these contractual workers would much rather endure substandard working conditions rather than fighting for their rights either through collective bargaining or the courts. (whether a worker can attain justice at the national labor relations commission is, of course, another story altogether)

  1. many readers. Wow!
    I like your show.

    • nash on January 24, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    “2. The downgrading of our airport rankings”

    – ooh, it took them so long? they should have done a tactic commonly used by the semiconductor industry when auditors come – only show them what you want them to see, don’t let them wander on their own.

    • cvj on January 24, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I’m interested in looking at Jarius’ comparison but the above link does not go to his column.

    • cvj on January 24, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    On the contractualization issue, i wonder if bringing in competition via MNCs like Walmart (nothwidthstanding the stories) will bid up the salaries & working treatment of the sales staff or whether it will just destroy local enterprise. If the result is a little of both, then what should we as a society value more?

  2. All the hullaballoo about the 50th anniversary of SM (see SM through half a century), oddly enough, never mentions how salespeople remain contractual.

    I was accused of having crab mentality when I brought this to the picture re: success stories about tycoons.

    Siguro, hindi lang crab ang tawag sa akin pag sinabi ko na some of these billionaire businessmen buy union leaders too.

    And I am not naming names. bwahaha

  3. Asia’s exposure to the subprime mess is thought to be much smaller than that of American or European banks.

    Most of the US subprime mortgages were sold to European banks. And that’s how they are going to be affected. Bad debts and write-offs.

    US banks buy NPL (Non-performing loans from Asian banks.
    And that’s how these banks are going to be affected. No more buyers for their bad debts.

  4. these contractual workers would much rather endure substandard working conditions rather than fighting for their rights either through collective bargaining or the courts

    Read: contractual.

    After 90 days, there is no more employer-employee relationship. If you do not want the conditions, then don’t sign the contract. That’s it. What rights are they going to fight for? The only reason that they can bring a case to the court is if there is a stipulation that they need to be informed one month advance if their contract is going to be renewed and the management failed to do it. But there is also the cost problem and the job opportunity lost while the case is being litigated.

    Retail stores in the US hire seasonal/contractual employees too, two months before Christmas, good up to January. That’s the time when consumer spending goes down and so are sales.

    They retain some on a part-time basis.They become regulars with less than 32 hour-week schedule so they don’t enjoy benefits but this is precisely the reason of the employers to keep sales people on a contractual or on a part-time basis– to save on benefits,social security and the likes.

    Probationary period for newly-hired employees in the US is usually three months or 90 days. During the period, the employees are not entitled to benefits yet and can be terminated anytime when performance is below the expectation. But they can still extend it to 30 or more days. That’s still great savings.

    • nash on January 24, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Fear NOT! We have sent a crack team of technocrats and the brightest minds to Davos to stop this recession.

    “ZURICH, Switzerland — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo flew to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland with an 86-member delegation composed of top Cabinet officials and lawmakers, including the wife of murder convict Jose Villarosa.

    The number of delegates came as a surprise to some since the Philippines would figure little in the discussions at the annual gathering of world leaders and business executives.”

    @Cat: Ganun talaga yun. It’s one of the best defenses we have, to use “crab mentality” carte blanche in argument.

    • Carl on January 24, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    This early and Mar Roxas is already pandering to the poor by pushing for the suspension of EVAT on oil. He argues that suspension of EVAT will result in direct savings to the poor which will ease their burden amid rising prices.

    Oh really? Will a roll-back in oil prices resulting from EVAT suspension convince Piston et all to roll back fares as well? How many times did a roll-back in diesel prices convinced these militant transport groups to correspondingly correct their fares? Only transport operators and drivers will directly benefit from EVAT suspension (who by the way do not pay income taxes), aside from the SUV driving elites. The rest of the the jeepney riding public, yes commuting employees who fully pay taxes their taxes monthly, gets to pay the same fare. You call that social equity?

    We’ve been experiencing historic lows in inflation – that’s what you call real and direct benefit for the poor. All because this administration is serious and is so far successful in managing the fiscal deficit. Take the EVAT on oil and our ambition to balance the budget goes out of the window. And there goes your inflation targets. That’s Keynesian (aka “Trickle Down”) economics, but that will do for now until we the public gain enough trust in our institutions to let it implement socially democratic reforms.

    Wanna know the real Mar Roxas? Try talking to a businessman in Roxas City in Capiz and get to know how development has languished in that part of the country because the Roxas family who has substantial business interests there are quite successful in keeping competition out. Mr. Palengke, my ass.

    • UP n student on January 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    “It is not just wrong memories. It is the lack of a national memory… The consequence is, we tend to live in a perpetual present. We have little collective memory of the past and thus we can not see well into the future.”

    Add to this, the predilection of Malacanang residents to hold closed-door meetings (with Catholic bishops, with Muslim mayors, with the Ayalas and Gokongweis).
    So is there a law that addresses which transactions by the Executive branch are required to be recorded for posterity? [This has to be a law and none of that B/S “moral obligation”-stuff. The law should also stipulate the amount of time that the contents of the transaction can remain ‘privileged communications’ and outside the public domain.]

    • Carl on January 24, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    On the contractualization issue, i wonder if bringing in competition via MNCs like Walmart (nothwidthstanding the stories) will bid up the salaries & working treatment of the sales staff or whether it will just destroy local enterprise. – cvj

    Cvj, I’m afraid it will be ineffective because demand for labor of this type will hardly change even with new competitors as we have an overwhelming supply of unemployed people.

    • BrianB on January 24, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    SM Shoemart reminds me of a novel by Zola I read about 2 years ago: The Ladies Paradise. SM has a lot in common with the mega department stores of the 19th century. Very eerie.

    • BrianB on January 24, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Like malign genies, blotted-out memories don’t stay bottled up. They deform daily life. Thus, Imelda Marcos insists that Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship was the “most democratic period in our history.” The communists claim that “majority of (pogrom) victims decided to continue their work,” even praising the carnage. Estrada? Well, some days he can’t recall if his name is Jose Velarde.

    Who forgets? This statement is prejudicial to the masses. People rarely forget. It’s the establishment that forces them to forget by delaying justice to perpetuity.

    • Levy on January 24, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Cat,

    Yes, there are employees who are hired on a fixed-term basis so that at the end of the contract, employer-employee relationship is terminated. But what about those ‘contractual’ employees whose contracts are repeatedly renewed in order to prevent them from becoming regular employees under the law? I reckon these are the employees being referred to in the SM case. I know for a fact that some ‘contractual’ employees there have been working for more than 10 years but the store refuses to recognize them as regular employees.

    • cvj on January 24, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Carl, perhaps you’re right. For this reason, i’m of two minds regarding further liberalizing the retail sector.

    • vic on January 24, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    The Best the Contractual workers can ask is for the Labour Dept. to give them some benefits (like half the full time) since most of them work on continuous basis..

    Half of our staff at work are students on part time basis and some as their second job, and they are given half the benefits of the full time..not a bad deal…

    • cvj on January 24, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    I finally got to see Bondoc’s article (via Google cache). I don’t have anything to say about the equipment price discrepancies since i’m not from the Telecoms industry, but based on my experience in Systems Integration type projects, i agree that the Engineering Services component is grossly overpriced. Unfortunately, Annexes C to J giving the details are not available (at least i can’t find it in the Inquirer site).

    On a related note, here’s how Singapore approaches its own [Next Generation] National Broadband Network program:

    http://www.ida.gov.sg/News%20and%20Events/20071211184512.aspx?getPagetype=20

    The above is a press release for the ‘NetCo’ (i.e. passive infrastructure component).

    Today’s RFP has been formulated after an extensive year-long industry consultation and studies of deployments internationally. This RFP seeks proposals from industry to put in place the passive infrastructure of Next Gen NBN. Under this RFP, a Network Company, or NetCo, will be selected to design, build and operate this passive infrastructure that will carry the traffic for Next Generation Services….

    …Under the terms of the Next Gen NBN NetCo RFP launched today, the Government is prepared to provide a grant of up to S$750 million [~USD 436 Million] for the project.

    The tender will close on March 25, 2008.

    • UP n student on January 24, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Levy asks : …. But what about those ‘contractual’ employees whose contracts are repeatedly renewed in order to prevent them from becoming regular employees under the law? … I know for a fact that some ‘contractual’ employees there have been working for more than 10 years but the store refuses to recognize them as regular employees.”
    What this says is that the Philippine laws allow this situation to exist. The elected LEGISLATIVE BRANCH has not taken on the issue. And the failure is equally, if not more on the labor unions, the various church denominations, the university intelligentsia.

    • Carl on January 24, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Consumers can exert pressure on SM to stop contracting workers by supporting competitors that foster fair labor practices. For example, I make it a point to tell officemates to buy from Rustan’s instead of SM because Rustan’s salespeople are permanent employees. The premium you pay for buying at Rustan’s goes a long way in providing for the welfare of its employees.

    • cvj on January 25, 2008 at 12:14 am

    And the failure is equally, if not more on the labor unions, the various church denominations, the university intelligentsia. – UPn Student

    By saying the above, i do hope you’re not giving a Benign0-esque free pass to Henry Sy and Company.

    • Carl on January 25, 2008 at 12:17 am

    The elected LEGISLATIVE BRANCH has not taken on the issue. And the failure is equally, if not more on the labor unions, the various church denominations, the university intelligentsia. — UP n student

    In fairness, the Catholic clergy has been critical of SM’s labor practice.

    The blame squarely rests on the government because it abdicated on its role in regulating and policing the labor market. The executive branch, for cozying up with big business and turning a blind eye. The legislative branch, for its wrong sense of proportion in pursuing the bigger evils of our society.

    • nash on January 25, 2008 at 12:20 am

    oo nga naman. anong kinalaman ng intelligentsia kay Henry Sy and company?

    It’s basically one rich man flouting labor laws….he should be fined and all those loopholes on contractualisation be plugged.

    pero upn has a point. methinks if the church didn’t interfere with our population programs kasi. siempre if there are 10,000,000 applicants, it’s an employers market….you take whatever, otherwise you starve.

    • nash on January 25, 2008 at 12:23 am

    puleez, you think if I had $2B in the bank, I’d be affected by a ‘critical church’?

    • Betol on January 25, 2008 at 12:42 am

    Philippine Airlines is still the cheapest Business and First Class ticket to Manila from Frisco, so I will always fly with them. Don’t fly coach on PAL though. It’s not the cheapest and the passengers are packed tighter than a virgin’s you know what.

    • hvrds on January 25, 2008 at 2:24 am

    All these theoretical discussions on SM are in so many respects moot and academic. Is SM still a retailer or is SM a landlord?

    Anyone who has experienced being a supplier to SM will know that a large section of SM is implicitly rented by concessionaires. That means a lot of the staff are not employees of SM.

    The same can be said of the Ayalas. Are they landlords or are they retailers? The division of labor or in biz-speak the supply chain. The same with Robinsons.

    Add to this advances in IT in POS systems (POINT of Sale Systems)the demand for labor is drastically cut.

    • supremo on January 25, 2008 at 2:57 am

    You got it right hvrds.

    • supremo on January 25, 2008 at 3:48 am

    The MILF, MNLF and other variations of the LF should take some lessons from the Inuits of Canada. Thet got their own homeland that is full of ice but still a homeland.

    • UP n student on January 25, 2008 at 3:53 am

    In contrast to, say, the Aetas or the Igorots, the MNLF and MILF get a lot of attention because they carry and have repeatedly used guns, and the explosives they have detonated have reached into Metro-Manila.

    • UP n student on January 25, 2008 at 3:54 am

    SuperFerry14!!!

    • supremo on January 25, 2008 at 4:27 am

    They may have guns but they are not nearer their objective of having a homeland.

    • PDubSpEditor on January 25, 2008 at 4:51 am

    “He has filed an absurd counter-protest against rival candidate Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, contesting the results of a jaw-dropping 73,000 precincts. (That’s one-third of the entire country.)”

    – 73,000 precincts… That is preposterous, but that pretty boy pulled it off. Those SET guys would have been payed way too much if they let this one pass through, but I would not be surprised. That’s just outright cheating that is… The things those pigs (politicians) do for pork barrel.

    “pero upn has a point. methinks if the church didn’t interfere with our population programs kasi. siempre if there are 10,000,000 applicants, it’s an employers market….you take whatever, otherwise you starve.” (nash)

    @ Nash -Hmm… Can’t blame the church for that one, since it’s technically their prerogative to voice out their opinions, since we are predominantly Christian. We just need a DOH secretary or a president with real abs to defy the church (or create jobs, since the growth rate slowed down for last year, if I’m not mistaken)[Leaders with guts are in short supply, really rare to find those ones, so don’t expect the population to slow down, anytime soon]…

    • hvrds on January 25, 2008 at 4:58 am

    History is replete with instances of capitalists destroying capitalism with their excesses. It does create its own gravediggers if not for the emergence of the nation state and a fiat national currency system.

    We have seen it happen again in the past few days. Underneath the iceberg of the securitization of debt and the other new forms of financial engineering the most deadly is turning out to be the credit default swaps (Insurance on the default of these new instruments.) Either the financial institutions who were primarily responsible for creating this instruments take the loses on to their books or the institutions that sold the insurance take the hit.

    In the recent months both parties were taking hits and this was in turn destroying their capital base. Then this caused the bond markets to seize up in the commercial sector. This in turn caused the deadly spiral downward.

    If the credit default swap markets collapsed all corporations and even governments who depend on the bond markets would have seen their interest rates rise dramatically making further skewing bank balance sheets that would have damaged bank balances sheet around the world.

    It would have been the mother of all financial crisis.

    Rey ‘the magician’ Tetangco would probably turn gay. He would have had to bend over and get it again from the IMF-WB in the butt.

    He would have had to use the currency swap with Japan, the PRC and S. Korea.

    The threat of a slowdown in the U.S. would have started a serious collapse of the entire complex derivatives markets bringing with it banks all around the world.

    In substance but not in form another great crash of capitalism caused by capitalists themselves.

    Thanks to Keynes and Friedman they all know they have a safety net – the nation state and their client states.

    The government after all is the executive committee of capitalists.

    For our very own GMA who is busy taking photo ops in Davos better make sure you sell enough of your IOU’s in Dubai when you get there to capture soem dollars from the OFW’s so you can pay for the new NBN project. Big Mike need the cash

    • supremo on January 25, 2008 at 5:26 am

    US economy tentative stimulus plan
    ‘Under the plan, individuals would receive rebates of up to $600 and couples could receive $1,200, plus $300 per child, Paulson said. Rebates would be phased out for individuals earning more than $75,000 and couples earning more than $150,000. Individuals must earn at least $3,000 to get a $300 rebate.’

    The target for distribution of checks is May. What do you have in the Philippines? Puro laway.

    • nash on January 25, 2008 at 5:58 am

    @hvrds

    you are correct. perhaps when we say ‘sm’ we mean those employed in ‘sm department store, groceries, watsons…” even then, whether there is 1 or 100 “sm” employees, they are still being untreated unfairly….but then again, henry sy is too big a fish to prosecute.

    maybe the senator from maguindanao, future nobel prize in chemistry (biofuels) can help us…

    @pdub….

    It would be good if the monkeys in red robes were merely expressing their ‘opinion’. fact is they are arm-twisting government officials to their twisted logic. and even if we are a predominantly christian country, there is nowhere in our constitution that says the opinion of the majority religion should be given preferential treatment. but yes, the sad reality is that when we write the next constitution it should rename our country as “The CBCP Republic of The Philippines”.

    • Levy on January 25, 2008 at 6:35 am

    “What this says is that the Philippine laws allow this situation to exist. The elected LEGISLATIVE BRANCH has not taken on the issue. And the failure is equally, if not more on the labor unions, the various church denominations, the university intelligentsia.”

    I agree that loopholes in the law allow contractualization to exist. About the Church, it’s funny that you mentioned this because recently I gave a talk about contractualization to AMRSP (group of religious superiors). During the talk, they all agreed that contractualization is a bane to the working class. But when we got to the point of citing examples in schools/churches they were running, aba, biglang kabig at sabi ligal daw ang ginagawa nila.

    Yes, one can fault the unions, etc. But what about the ‘contractual’ employee? Is he/she blameless in all of this? Walang mang-aapi kung walang magpapaapi.

    “All these theoretical discussions on SM are in so many respects moot and academic. Is SM still a retailer or is SM a landlord?

    Anyone who has experienced being a supplier to SM will know that a large section of SM is implicitly rented by concessionaires. That means a lot of the staff are not employees of SM.”

    Yes, the trend right now is to slowly erode employer-employee relationship through outsourcing. Why go through all the headaches attendant to maintaining employees in the payroll when the employer can easily contract a third party to do the very same service? At the end of the day, bawas ang sakit ng ulo. The employer still reap the same profits and benefits of his/her business while at the same time lessening the number of employees under his/her care.

    • benign0 on January 25, 2008 at 6:43 am

    “Add to this advances in IT in POS systems (POINT of Sale Systems)the demand for labor is drastically cut.”

    Pinoys should be happy with the battallions of SM Girls employed by Henry Sy. If anyone’s experienced shopping in the West, you will see entire floors being manned by only two or three sales ladies. Compare that to SM where every rack and aisle is manned by one of Henry’s space cadets.

    And yet, in these Western department stores, service is vastly superior and staff far more helpful and knowledgeable about the merchandise than the average SM chick.

    The few personnel that man the shop floors both are brilliant multi-taskers. They serve merchandise broswers, man the cash registers, keep the merchandise orderly, and clean the floors.

    In SM and other Pinoy stores, there are more personnel manning EACH P.O.S. station than it takes to crew up the average army tank — one to punch in the sale, another to stamp, countersign, and tape the receipt onto the item, and another to bag it.

    Talaga naman oo. It’s no wonder that a country of almost 90 million is utterly dwarfed in ACHIEVEMENT and OUTPUT by even the smallest of European societies numbering less than 4 million.

    • hvrds on January 25, 2008 at 6:43 am

    It would be interesting to check just how many rank and file employees are employed at SM directly and how many are actually working for labor contractors. That is the magic world of outsourcing being pushed by government policy makers.

    If one wants to challenge this at the NLRC adjudicators you are in for a rude awakening. This is state policy. However fret not as the Labor Department and the POEA will assist you in your quest for overseas employment. Demand for overseas labor will remain to be strong.

    The demographics (greying) and evolution of the advanced economies into post industrial societies open up a lot of opportunities for labor migration.

    The up and coming brand for labor migration are Filipina caregivers and nannies. They are prized.

    • hawaiianguy on January 25, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Words from an American scholar-critic:

    Harry Magdoff, Imperialism Without Colonies (2003).

    “In the decades after 1945, as colonial possessions became independent states, it was widely-believed that imperialism as a historical phenomenon was coming to an end. The six essays collected in this volume demonstrate that a new form of imperialism was, in fact, taking shape—an imperialism defined not by colonial rule but by the global capitalist market. From the outset, the dominant power in this imperialism without colonies was the United States.

    “Magdoff’s essays explain how this imperialism works, why it generates ever greater inequality, repression, and militarism, and the essential role it plays in the development of U.S. capitalism.”

    HARRY MAGDOFF has been a co-editor of Monthly Review since 1969 and is the author of The Age of Imperialism and Imperialism: From the Colonial Age to the Present.

    • hvrds on January 25, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Getting back to reality . It was then President Bill Clinton and his Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who fashioned the greatest repeal of the New Deal regulatory framework under Glass Steagall. Commercial banks were not allowed to go into investment banking. This repeal was done to favor Rubin’s present employer Citigroup. They merged Citibank and Weills Travelers Life.

    This merging once again of investment banking and commercial banking lies at the heart of the de-regulatory framework that brought the world to this crisis again.

    Guess who pays? The honest saver. His savings will pay him less in interest once again. All this to save the bankers once again.

    Savings in the bank is not the same as investing in the equity or bond markets.

    You counteract deflationary expectations by reducing interest to promote consumption but only in economies that have collapsing demand.

    But what about countries that have underdeveloped productive capacities and in essence are not industrial economies.

    How can the economy have a collapsed demand if there was no demand in the first place?

    Savings are a long term product of sacrificing and deferring consumption. It is not about investing in the stock market. That is insane.

    The old saying in the markets is clear. Bulls and bears take positions one way or another since they can withstand the cycles. It is the pigs that get slaughtered. There are no government guarantees for the ordinary investor in the markets.

    There are for the owners of the institutions that manage other peoples money.

    • BrianB on January 25, 2008 at 9:55 am

    “The target for distribution of checks is May. What do you have in the Philippines? Puro laway.”

    We don’t need a stimulus package as we don’t even manufacture anything and I’m not sure Filipinos are going to give up what little affordable luxuries they have: Starbucks, spas, trips to HK. It’s the remittances and possible cutbacks on the outsourcing side that we should worry about.

  5. Levy asks : …. But what about those ‘contractual’ employees whose contracts are repeatedly renewed in order to prevent them from becoming regular employees under the law? … I know for a fact that some ‘contractual’ employees there have been working for more than 10 years but the store refuses to recognize them as regular employees.”
    What this says is that the Philippine laws allow this situation to exist. The elected LEGISLATIVE BRANCH has not taken on the issue. And the failure is equally, if not more on the labor unions, the various church denominations, the university intelligentsia. – UP n student

    Whoa! Not so fast. “Blame the lawyers” would be more appropriate. The Herrera Law, tested by an old and poor but dedicated Atty. Fenandez (who uses a cane to walk) all the way to the Supreme Court, ended in a landmark decision that found such companies that hire contractual labor beyond 6 months via perpetual re-contracting as circumventing the law. Fernandez’ client, whose time card was not even presented to the court, worked uninterrupted for SIX MONTHS AND A WEEK and that was enough for the SC to award her reinstatement, full back wages and benefits for three years, without loss of seniority. I saw it with my own eyes, the embarassment of both company owners and lawyers, as the sheriff handed the document to the president saying he is not leaving until he sees the check in the complainant’s hands.

    The dejected company lawyers rode their Mercedes Benzes back to their Tektite Towers shaking their heads. Atty. Fernandez hailed a cab to take him home.

    To this day, perpetual re-contracting is still widely practiced as lawyers from both sides would, of course, prefer the long, circuitous route despite the more than 2 decades-old jurisprudence.

    Remember Mercedes Benz and the taxicab.

    • cvj on January 25, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Supremo, if the US stimulus package in the form of tax rebates or reductions is effective, do you think it would makes sense for the US government to actually set the tax rate to negative so that it could give more of that welcome stimulus?

  6. Sorry, it is not more than 2 decades-old. That is for the NLRC arbiter’s decision. The SC ruling came out more than 3 years later. Herrera Law did provide the maximum of 3 years for backpay computation compared to the old unlimited one. The difference is, in the old law, a complainant moots the case if he/she gets gainfully re-employed, Herrera’s allows the worker to get a life while the case undergoes trial.

    • BrianB on January 25, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Has anyone researched the business model of SM in Xiamen China. Is it just as 19th century as the SMs here.

    • BrianB on January 25, 2008 at 10:37 am

    SOMONE HAS TO WRITE A BOOK, MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT THIS ATTY. FERNANDEZ.

    haven’t even hard of this, and I didn’t think this was possible in our country. When did this happen. Yes, take it to the supreme court, unless they are from the Cojuangco clan, which even with a supreme court ruling on your side, would remain untouchable.

    • raynan on January 25, 2008 at 10:57 am

    uhmm, does anyone tackling weak dollar policy?

    • raynan on January 25, 2008 at 11:03 am

    the crisis regarding the housing subprime loans, how was it? a series of recessions? a weak dollar policy resulting to recession? another issue? considering united states as the major trading partner, are we(philippines) anticipating to this issue?

    • mlq3 on January 25, 2008 at 11:04 am
      Author

    cjv, you will enjoy this:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2182353/

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