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Current Senate's design flaw
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on April 10, 2008 131 Comments 9 min read
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My column for today is Senate the victim of a design flaw. In it I refer to two articles, former Chief Justice Panganiban’s column on the Senate’s rules, and my 2007 election post mortem, An abnormal return to normality.

I couldn’t find it at the time, but the September 1, 1945 diary entry of Antonio de las Alas explains why the Senate ended up drawing lots to determine the terms of its members. And also, when the drawing of lots took place, which was in August, 1945. Conjecture: that the destruction of official election returns for the November, 1941 elections might have required that solution.

Meanwhile, today’s Inquirer editorial, Focus on consequences, urges the Senate not to ask members of the Supreme Court to inhibit themselves. Such an act would be, uh, counterproductive:

Nothing erodes the people’s confidence in the court of last resort like an unjust decision. And a decision becomes unjust not because of the intentions that move the justices to rule one way or another but because of the ruling’s very real consequences.

The majority in Neri vs. Senate Committee may have set out simply to strike a balance between an assertive Executive and a rambunctious Senate. But the consequences of the decision have been most severe: The ruling dangerously swung the pendulum in favor of an Executive that has made a virtue out of secrecy (and fools out of those who demand transparency and accountability).

Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on my show last Tuesday said something similar, he was particularly offended by the Palace’s assertion that the Supreme Court decision made the Senate hearings “null and void.” Was the Executive Secretary decreeing what would and would not be facts, and saying that what had taken place in full public view never happened, he snorted. He said on that basis alone the Senate had good reason to appeal to the Supreme Court and point out that what the Justices may have considered a nuanced decision (and one, he added, that by the manner of the voting avoided becoming a doctrinal decision) has to be reversed because of the way it’s being applied.

Rene Azurin, the other guest on the show, had this to say today in his column:

STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE

René B. Azurin

Legal but not right

History buff Manolo Quezon saw parallels between the recent Supreme Court decision on the Neri case and the same body’s decision on the Javellana case a quarter of a century ago. Invited to comment on this on his TV program the other night, I said that the most notable similarity was that, in both cases, the justices could (with even stronger legal grounds) have taken the side of the hapless Filipino citizen but chose instead to give in to the desires of a powerful President.

In both instances, the justices who opted to support the President found refuge in arguments that are, doubtless, technically legal but also morally unworthy. Without bothering to delve into personal motivations, one can of course conjure up a whole slew of reasons as to why taking the side of specific powerful (and wealthy) individuals is far easier than taking thide of the nameless and powerless public.

In both instances also, the Chief Justices — Roberto Concepcion in 1973 and Reynato Puno today — dissented passionately and eloquently.

For those too young to remember, the Javellana case revolved around the validity of the 1973 Constitution. Mr. Javellana (and several other petitioners) questioned this Marcos-written charter essentially on the basis of the fact that it had not been ratified as specified under the 1935 Constitution then in effect. In the set play that unfolded then, the fiction of “Peoples’ Assemblies” was created and people were gathered at such assemblies and asked to raise their hands if they were in favor of the proposed new constitution. On the basis of such show of hands, Mr. Marcos claimed the new constitution approved.

The Supreme Court then — in a 6 to 4 vote — agreed that the new constitution had not indeed been ratified because such show-of-hands procedure was not in consonance with the relevant provisions of the 1935 Constitution that required that changing to a new constitution needed “a majority of votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose”. Having conceded that point, however, the pro-Marcos justices then demonstrated legal inventiveness and contort-ability, producing the concept of “acquiescence” and saying that the “acceptance” of the people can take the place of ratification. Four justices agreed. Three justices contorted themselves in a somewhat different way, saying that they did not have sufficient knowledge to say for sure whether or not the people had “accepted” the new constitution and that they were therefore not competent to rule on that question. Only two justices disagreed. In the end, the 1973 Constitution was held to be in force because it was already in force and there were not enough votes to declare that it was not in force. Huh?

In the current Neri case, on the other hand, the Supreme Court — voting 9 to 6 — decided that the highest officials in the Executive branch of government could legitimately conceal information from the Senate and, by extension, the public, even if such information involved the commission of a crime. Inexplicably, moreover, the Supreme Court held that it was not even necessary for these officials to show why it was necessary to withhold the information elicited, the only potentially permissible bases being military or diplomatic secrets the disclosure of which might endanger national security. Here, the legal contort-ability of the justices supporting this decision can be seen in how they sidestepped the constitutional provisions that expressly mandate the public’s “right to information on matters of public concern” and require the State to adopt “a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest” and, instead, argued that the notion that presidential communications were “presumptively privileged” had greater legal weight. To a simple engineer like me, that’s illogical.

Actually, most lawyers I’ve heard propound on the merits of the decisions in these cases appear so fascinated by the nuanced — I call it hair-splitting — legal arguments that they seem unable to strip the cases down to their most basic elements. At their most basic, these cases are about calibrating the balance of power between the Presidency — which is entrusted with the collective resources of the entire society and the full coercive might of government — and the people, more specifically the institutions that are supposed to be the means of the people for monitoring the use of the entrusted power and for holding the Presidency accountable for its abuse. At their most basic, the decisions in these cases mean that the power of the Presidency has been enlarged and the power of the people (already minimal to begin with) has been reduced. That should distress every one of us citizens because, even under the best of circumstances, it is difficult for us to obtain transparency in the wielding of executive power and, except in extraordinary instances, virtually impossible to hold our highest officials to account.

Mr. Quezon quoted Santayana on learning from history. What these lawyers and the pro-Presidency justices seem to forget is that the historical role of the rule of law in any society is to ensure that the rights of the powerless are not violated or abridged by those with power. They seem to forget that the rule of law that we are heir to today grew out of the experience of common people with overbearing monarchs and is essentially the consequence of uprisings that allowed the people to establish some rules and structures supposed to constrain the power of those to be entrusted with the might of government and make them accountable for their actions.

What the Supreme Court in the Javellana case and in the Neri case did was essentially to affirm the legitimacy of Presidential actions that usurp power the people did not intend the Presidency to have.

Clearly, justices in both Courts exhibited remarkable feats of legal legerdemain, the kind that raises the hackles of those against whom it is practiced. These were the kind that make people wonder whether our honorable justices care only about being legal and not about being right.

An interesting Reuters story: Manila’s Arroyo treads risky path with rice campaign:

The government’s very public campaign to ensure supply has created a sort of artificial crisis with poorer people queuing for hours in the heat to stockpile state-subsidized rice.

Manila’s more frequent rice tenders have also boosted international prices, which in some cases have more than doubled this year…, hiking the government’s import bill and the cost of subsidizing the grain.

The Philippines has said it wants to import up to 2.2 million metric tons of rice for this year, which would be its biggest purchase of the grain in a decade. So far, it has bought 1.2 million metric tons and is holding a tender for 500,000 metric tons on April 17.

“They are kind of fanning the fire,” said one Manila-based trader of the government’s measures. “I would interpret the series of tender schedules as panicky.”…

…The rice crisis is also putting pressure on the country’s finances.

In a recent research note, investment bank Credit Suisse calculated that the government could lose up to $1.3 billion or 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year by importing up 2.6 million metric tons of rice at climbing world prices and selling it at lower prices domestically.

Having whipped up consumer fears with her efforts to be visibly on top of the situation, the best way for Arroyo to calm them down is to ensure adequate supply and to tone down the government’s more extreme responses, analysts say.


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  1. Gloria Pidal has succeeded in co-opting the men in uniforms(particularly the Political Generals), the men in skirts(particularly the Corrupt Cardinals and Bishops) and now even the men in black gowns (the 9 Supremes)to prevent any attempts to break her stranglehold on power and great wealth.

    It seems that the only remaining institution that Filipinos can turn to is the SENATE. Hopefully,the Senators will not let us down.

    EQ POLL:”The Most Trusted Institutions in The Philippines”

    The Presidency:1%
    The Senate:39%
    The House of Representatives:0
    The Supreme Court:10%
    The Military:1%
    The Church:8%
    The Press:14%
    Sorry,none of the above:38%

    votes cast so far:130

  2. Reuters prognostication : RICE crisis will quickly disappear
    —————

    Asia rice panic should subside as farmers rush crops
    Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:27am EDT
    By Sambit Mohanty – Analysis

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A global rush for rice that has heightened food security anxiety across Asia should slow in coming months, as consumer nations replenish lowly stocks, extra crops boost supplies and a sense of panic subsides.

    Rice output is set to rise this year as major producers plant additional crops, likely slowing or halting a rally that has caused prices to more than double since January ….

    Even before those fresh crops hit the market rice analysts and traders expect the frenzy of recent purchases to ebb as importers grow more confident on future supplies.

    “Governments are desperate to build supplies before things worsen. They are now better positioned. This increases the likelihood that a crisis can be averted,” Abah Ofon, a soft commodities analyst at Standard Chartered Bank, told Reuters.

    The growing unease over rice supplies reached fever pitch in recent weeks as surging food inflation prompts some of the world’s top suppliers to curb exports, hoping to tame prices at home — while goading them higher abroad.

    QUICK RESPONSE

    Unlike many other crops that take a year or more to show the results of expansion, rice farmers can fit a third crop into their normal two-cycle year, and paddy fields often don’t compete for arable land in the same way that corn, soy and wheat do.

    On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised up its rice output estimate for the 2007/08 marketing year ending in May to 425.29 million tonnes, from an estimate of 422.94 million one month ago.

  3. to the Equalizer: Your survey “says” the people trusts the Military/Police just as low as Malacanang.

  4. to the Equalizer: Your survey “says” the people trusts the Military/Police just as low as Malacanang.UP N S

    UP n student :True!

    Look also at the ratings of the Lower House Versus The Senate!

  5. the people of okinawa have long life expectancies because they only eat until they are only 80% poor.

    kaya naman ako, i eat cheap rice on normal meals because if the rice is good, napapasarap at napaparami kain ko.

    still, why do india, sri langka, bangladesh, and the philippines have a rice shortage when vietnam, malaysia, and thailand have more than enough?

  6. edit;

    WOW Mali: it should read

    the people of okinawa have long life expectancies because they only eat until they are only 80% FULL.

  7. Question to Abe, Bencard, Ca t: I know “the economy, stupid”, “Iraq”, and “healthcare” are among the top issues for US elections coming November 2008. How high an issue is “graft and corruption among elected officials”?

    Surely, Cheney is a crook, too, right? And Rumsfeld? That World-Bank neo-con, “what was he in power for”? And the US generals… at least one of them has to have “made money” while serving in Iraq!!!! So many opportunities to make money available to these guys while in government service!!!!

  8. to Nash: I would not have believed it, but supposedly, Pinas rice farms more productive than Thailand’s. Philippine rice paddies produce 3.6 million tonnes per hectare (2.47 acres), way above the 2.6 million tonnes per hectare in Thailand. [BUT the Philippines does not have enough acreage dedicated to rice farming.]
    ——————
    Credit Suisse said Philippine rice production has been rising steadily, to 11.3 million tonnes this year from 5.6 million tonnes in 1998, but that the growth of its population, now estimated at more than 90 million, has outpaced output growth.

    Experts say the Philippines does not have adequate farmland suitable for growing the water-intensive crop.

    While Philippine rice yields of 3.6 million tonnes per hectare (2.47 acres) are way above the 2.6 million tonnes per hectare in Thailand, the world’s top rice exporter, Manila’s production costs per tonne was substantially higher at 96 dollars compared to 74 dollars for Bangkok, Credit Suisse said.

  9. The current crisis will cost GMA bragging rights to GDP-growth.
    MANILA (AFP Apr 10, 2008) — Soaring food prices are likely to cost the Philippines nearly one percent of its economic output this year to ensure adequate supplies to the poor, Credit Suisse said on Wednesday.

    “We estimate that the fiscal cost of importing rice at a high price and selling it at the current domestic price could approach one percent of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2008,” the Credit Suisse report said.

    A potential loss of 1.3 billion dollars or 0.7 percent of GDP was likely because it would incur margin costs for storage and distribution and release it into the domestic market at its current selling price, it added.

  10. But Equalizer… there are NO lawsuits, no congressional inquiries against the Bush family (nor against Cheney nor Rumsfeld). (Someone in power) getting rich is not the same as graft.

    The Clintons were sued (but cleared) in the Whitewater land deal. And now, they don’t (seem to) need petty thievery from any treasury — Bill Clinton “survives comfortably” from his speaking fees!!!

  11. Equalizer: Did you know that Bill and Hillary Clinton were bankrupt when they left the White House? Their assets much less than their liabilities (from legal bills from “Whitewater”, and I think “Monica”.)

  12. there are NO lawsuits, no congressional inquiries against the Bush family (nor against Cheney nor Rumsfeld). (Someone in power) getting rich is not the same as graft.UPnS

    What makes it so painful in this country is the fact they raid the national coffers.

  13. @ Equalizer:

    In large economies like the United States, corruption is compartmentalized. You have politicians doing their political corruption, Wall Street their version of unmoderated greed, Mafia their syndicated crimes, etc. The economy is so big, that “grand corruption” may not happen or get noticed.

    In a country like ours, the big and small players could be one and the same.

  14. UPn, i think the ‘bragging rights’ to GDP growth is why Arroyo initially wanted to raise the price of NFA rice. Anyway, Gloria Arroyo’s ‘bragging rights’ was all smoke and mirrors anyway since most of the genuine growth that was experienced on her watch was courtesy of OFW remittances and the rest is a statistical illusion courtesy of understated imports.

  15. Last April 9, the nation commemorated the fall of Bataan and public officials led by President Macapagal-Arroyo delivered speeches extolling the war veterans who fought the Japanese during World War II.

    Today,it has been confirmed that the government is selling Veterans Hospital on North Avenue and Mindanao Avenue. A greedy land developer will demolish the hospital and obliterate the golf course and convert them into condominiums and office buildings for maximum profit.

    That’s was Gloria’s real gift to aging and sickly Bataan veterans.

  16. On Veterans’ property disposal:

    RP version of privatization is not for government to get out of business, but for Palace favotites to get commissions.

    Wonder who brokered this deal? Hmmm?

  17. On Veterans’ property disposal:

    RP version of privatization is not for government to get out of business, but for Palace favorites to get commissions.

    Wonder who brokered this deal? Hmmm?

  18. ‘Today,it has been confirmed that the government is selling Veterans Hospital on North Avenue and Mindanao Avenue. A greedy land developer will demolish the hospital and obliterate the golf course and convert them into condominiums and office buildings for maximum profit.’

    The current site of the Veterans Hospital was the proposed site for the presidential palace in the original plan for Quezon City.

    Will there be a height limit on the buildings? Nothing should be higher than the 66 meter Quezon Memorial.

  19. @ Equalizer:

    It could not really be just one guess. For example,

    A for Alcantara, Aboitiz, Arayko?
    B for Belmonte?
    C for Cojuangco (Peping or Tingting)?
    D for Defensor (Mike), former QC representative?
    E for Esperon?
    F for FVR?
    .
    .
    L for Lozada? (This is a stretch)
    M for Maginoo?
    N for Neri?
    O for Ongpin?
    P for Pidal?
    R for Ronnie Puno?
    etc.
    S for Sobrepenas?

  20. BTW, I forgot the biggest of them all for letter A. But really, he could be best in letter S, as in, “Sec. may 200 ka dito.”

  21. About the topic some may think chacha would solve this, but In my humble opinion, chacha should no longer be total overhaul,siguro partial replacement of those that needed to be fixed,important issues that need to have a second look,some outdated economic provisions,as long as it is not a total overhaul.

    Again, easier said than done and madami nang nakaisip, at marami nang nagadvocate nito,but still any chacha move is perceived as a means to extend gloria’s term,those who perceive this cannot be blamed,because it is still a matter of trust.

  22. akala ko dito itutuloy ni Justice League at mindanaoan ang discussion nila, pero mukhang me isa nagsabi na it is pointless to continue.

  23. UPn,

    Just got this in my way home tonight. Maybe thsi will interest you.

    http://ny.metro.us/metro/local/article/NYs_dream_team_Not_ClintonObama/12213.html

    Notice that most surveys the US always come out in the media with some explanation on how to take it.

    But EQ poll..ahhh I dont know. Aside from the fact the the blog owner is a known rabid anti Gloria there fore most if not all people that visit the blog is all anti Gloria.) there is no explanation at all how the survey should be taken.

    Anyways, looks like it would be a very very very interesting US election.

  24. equalizer, maginoo:

    my understanding is that the golf course will be plowed up to make make room for condominiums, etc. that will subsidize the operations of the veteran’s medical center.

    right now the lands of vet’s med makes 500k in income; with the development, the hospital stands to make 50 m a year for its operating expenses.

  25. Is oil priced in dollars or are dollars priced in oil. The same would hold true for rice. Is rice priced in dollars or are dollars priced in rice.

    The world market for rice is small compared to other agricultural commodities. The rice futures market in the Chicago Board of Trade deals primarily with rice produced in the U.S.

    However in Asia the rice market for export is mostly constrained by states. Hence rice farmers in differnet parts of Asia depending on the regulatory framework of each state has different forms of market systems. States have a heavy hand in the market place to insure domestic production and supply. That means prices can get distorted by heavy state intervention and this is where private traders can make a killing or lose their shirts, depending on who you know and when you know it. Just imagine a $1 billion dollars in subsidy. The subsidized rice cannot be differentiated from domestic ordinary rice that sells for Php 30 a kg +.

    Think Abalos, Neri and GMA and how to moderate the greed of traders when the state has no means to distribute that subsidized rice to the poor since they have to pass through their own as GMA has said corrupt NFA guys. NFA pays Php 17 for palay and NFA is supposed to sell rice at Php 18.25 to those who cannot afford higher prices. How do you separate that demand at Php 18.25 when the closest rice is selling at over Php 30+.

    Don Miguel and Dona Gloria will have to assemble over 150 ships to load and bring over to the Philippines within the next few months over 2M tons ot imported rice. Each ship on the average carries about 13k metric tons. Another factor is the timing of how fast they come in.

    So the only benchmark really established for the rice trade in Asia bas been established by the largest exporter Thailand. The prices are published almost daily in almost all reputable business dailies. In the Phils. (Business World) The rest are really glorified tabloids.

    For our ‘uber’ economist sitting in the Palace it is no secret to those in the know but for her it was obviously missed. Being a supposed ‘uber’ economist she would have seen the steady rise in the price of benchmark spot prices of Thai rice over the past year. You know like the benchmark prices of the different spot prices of the differing quality of crude oil. That also is public knowledge for those economists who care about the relationship of price to production and consumption. Also the market based on price information as the chief organizing principle of society. It is out there—- What was our Department of Energy, Trade and Agriculture doing over the past year?????? Were they so entralled by our ‘uber economist’ that they forgot to use their common sense? Were where our favorite finance guys who should have been making contingent models on this very thing happening and prepare for scenarios to mitigate these when reality does bite.

    Countries that are resource exporters or commodity exporters are not as stupid as we are. They look at the intrinsic value of what they export and what goods they can get in exchange on the world market. So if prices are set in dollars they look at what goods they can buy from Europe and Japan and compare if there is a close relationship in values. They call it parity. That parity is now greatly distorted. So dollar prices are adjusted since the dollar is only a claim on value and that claim has been devaluing across the board.

    That is why we called it parity rights after the war with the U.S They had equal economic rights in the Phils. not on a 1 to 1 basis but on a 2 to 1 basis in their favor. They needed only .50 to buy a dollars worth of goods then.

    Has that been a secret to our ‘uber economist’ and those genuises at NEDA?

    The era of easy oil is over and the era of tough oil is at hand. The effects of that on food production is directly correlated. Foods and fossil fuels are both based on stored energy from the sun. All animals including the human species need both to survive.

    During the Ramos era 25% Thai broken rice was at around $250 a metric ton at Php 25 to $1. Today it is around $740 a metric ton at Php 41.50+ to $1. Prices are FOB.

    From Php 6-7 a kilo during Ramos time to Php Php30+ a kg today.

    The reason why one has to thinlk of th Abalos, Neri and GMA connection is the issue of price information..

    ZTE proposed to supply a broadband network they even supplied the terms of reference on what they would supply. Only GMA and her boys knew what those terms were. So the issue of price information is totally obscured. So when questioned as to these issues it is raised to an issue of national security and diplomatic relations with the PRC. A competitor said the offer was overpriced. but the people who are to pay for it do not know what they are paying for since this has become an issue ot trust me I know what I am doing by our erstwhile ‘uber economist’ and another ‘uber expert’ who complains about corruption by oligarchs and he breaks the cardinal rule of the amrketplace that could expose these oligarchs which is transparency in all transactions based on price competition.

    Without that there is no market and that means you have a state sponsored private enterprise known as crony capitalism practiced by Neri himself. For whose benefit? Abalos, our modern day Disini and probably the first couple and their best buddies.

    The utter and overwhelming incompetence of our ‘uber economist’ is showing through. She has got some nice pair of “tits” but her “ass is too wide.” She is “butt naked” on this one.

  26. Supremo: “The current site of the Veterans Hospital was the proposed site for the presidential palace in the original plan for Quezon City.

    Will there be a height limit on the buildings? Nothing should be higher than the 66 meter Quezon Memorial.

    Whew! I thought we were talking 4’11” height limit.

  27. Now before everyone complains that one is simply criticizing and not offering solutions here is a simple one.

    Establishing trust is earned. This can only happen with transparency and openness. It is said that in the time of extreme crisis, The Great Depression and the Cuban Missle Crisis, two men laid their case before their own people. FDR Jr. in his way explained to the American people directly why he did what he did and for whom was he doing it. His fireside chats held the country together and he not only talked the talk but walked the walk and the people felt his talk. In the final analysis the organized forces, the unions, small farmers workers backed him up versus the opposing interests in business and government.

    Unfortunatley for us our ‘uber’ economist wants us to see things in her distorted way that we have nothing to worry about since we are well placed to withstand global challenges.

    For a country where a large majority of people spend close to 80% of their income on their food budget this is clearly a welcome consolation. Kasi mataas ang precio nang pagkain sa pangdaigdigan kalakalan.

    In other words there is a bull market in the worlds commodity markets. That means that there are countries that stand to earn more and those countries that are to pay more even if they cannot afford it and suffer.

    She should now come down from her high horse and tell the people that she and others before her have made a strategic mistake.

    Allowing politically sensitve food commodities to be left to the vagaries of the mythical free market and free trade was a tragic mistake. Markets are wonderful tools but they are not guiding principles set in stone. Like democracy they are bad but everything else is worst. Backward and jurassic formats will have to first be upgraded.

    They require openness and transparency. Explain to the people that everyone will have to pay to insure that the poorest of the poor will be protected with the basic necessities during this time of crisis.

    Open the books of the NFA and show them how much they the pople have spent to subsidize and socialize rich traders instead of the poor and the miserable farmers that they were supposed to help. Have contingent plans for taking over rice distribution together with traders who will get subsidized inputs for farmers and traders.

    Reveiw the taxes paid by landlords who are not tilling their own land and who are using tenant labor. I doubt if many of them have been paying taxes. That would be a perfect rationale for confiscation and leasing these lands to the farmer tiller. Change the nature of land ownership in what is still agricultural land to leasehold in lieu of realty taxes due from land owners. Land owners will still have possession and control but will have to pay a a lease hold price instead of taxes on real property. Land is a dead asset unless work is done to grow on it. Landlords will forced to work on their land to pay the taxes. Impose strictly a basic living wage for all sectors of the economy. There is no reason why farm workers and urban workers should not have the same basic living wage. We have to destroy the landlord culture of waiting for prices to rise on lands which is directly caused by population pressures.

    Show them how much the government is paying for landed imported rice and how much taxpayer funds will have to be spent to subsidize the poor. In a country that has very little data on who is poor and who is not becomes a problem. Show them how much NFA is in the hole for.

    Every sector or all agents in the economy can be forced to act only based on information of the extent of the problem. Involve the very civil society groups that are calling for the end of trapo politics. This is where the different religious denominations can help.

    The rich and the small midlle class will not want a vast army of unemployed or underemployed hungry people out there.

    Across the board there is surge in food prices. If you want logic to set over panic people have to know and understand the rationale behind the problem.

    End this patronizing attitude. If she believes that she can solve this probelm because she is the patron of all other patrons. The capo de tuti capi. Market distribution of subsidized rice requires turst only found in angels. The probelm is compounded in this case wherein you do not know the extent of poverty or the poor in the country. In this case Don Miguel, Princess Lulli, Prince Mikey and Prince Dato cannot be a big help.

    Who should be entitled to it and who should not.

    The crisis of the world in 1929 broght profound changes to the advanced industrial economies of the world.

    Monetary nationalsim which was a cure for the depression became the primordial cause of the Second World War.

    The parity between the worlds advanced economies currencies has become mis-aligned. That is the main cause of the worlds probelms. The character is different from 1929 but the substance is the same.

    The financial settlement system of world trade (Bretton Woods) is coming apart. The problem for the new kids on the block – Russia, India, China and Brazil is there is still no substitute to it.

    Should we go back to gold or barter?

  28. Food for thought.
    –Pinas produces 90% of its rice needs.
    –Pinas produces 2% of its oil/natural gas needs.

    Time to think of being like France — can someone get the Senate to push for a nuclear power plant?

  29. can someone get the Senate to push for a nuclear power plant?

    Easy. Ask Abalos. He’s our man to get projects like this done.

  30. Establishing trust is earned. This can only happen with transparency and openness. – hvrds

    This reminds me of a brilliant passage from my book:

    This mutual lack of confidence that the proper things or the right things will be done has fatally infected the entire society already. At every corner and even within shopping malls, heavily-armed security guards are ubiquitous. Sales clerks and bank tellers will not deviate from the narrow script and scopes of work that they are authorised to apply in their dealings with customers. Homeowners (from the rich down to the lower-middle-classes) have cloistered themselves in gated communities. Each of these three examples represents the three key enablers to developing a cohesive and productive society:

    – security;
    – empowerment; and,
    – access.

    Without security there can be no openness. Without empowerment, there can be no efficiency. Without access there can be no simplicity.

    A society where everything is closed, inefficient, and complicated is fertile breeding ground for corruption.

    Page 36, Get Real Philippines Book I

    It’s downloadable for free here:
    http://www.getrealphilippines.com/book1/

    – 😀

  31. UP n, that’s going to be quite the hard sell. People still have nightmares over the Bataan nuke plant.

    Don’t get me wrong: although I’m not a Ph.D like DJB is, I have enough science background to know that nuke plants CAN be safe. Just that it has a bad rep right now.

    Good idea, though.

    Maybe the Senate can instead look into other alternative sources?

    Btw, I heard the DoE is looking into nuke plants already. But since its Angie Reyes peddling it, I don’t know how far that will go.

  32. UPn (at 11:32 am), i think that’s where context matters. Do you think that France has similar set of situation over here…

    ‘May 200 ka diyan’ + Executive Privilege + Nuclear Power Plant = ???

    Given the above, what would be the risk of a Chernobyl-type accident happening over here versus a similar risk of the same happening in France?

  33. mlq3: my understanding is that the golf course will be plowed up to make make room for condominiums, etc. that will subsidize the operations of the veteran’s medical center.

    I hope that happens. Government had similar intentions when Fort Bonifacio lands were sold. The AFP was not modernized, was it?

  34. Top Mountie Found in Contempt of Parliament:

    This is what happened when anyone Lied in his or her testimony before the Legislators:

    Steve Rennie
    THE CANADIAN PRESS

    OTTAWA – The House of Commons has voted to find a top member of the RCMP brass in contempt of Parliament for testimony she gave about pension troubles at the storied national police force.

    The vote was held shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday and received all-party support, Liberal MP Mark Holland said in an e-mail.

    It’s not clear what this means for Barbara George. The archaic legal process, believed to have been last used in 1913, could entail punishment ranging from admonishment to jail time.

    Holland, a member of the Commons public accounts committee, said the matter now falls to the Mounties.

    “It is quite a condemnation by Parliament,” he wrote. “It is a very rare move.”

    RCMP spokeswoman Const. Pat Flood said Commissioner William Elliott is considering the finding and will eventually decide how to proceed.

    George is presently on leave but is still an RCMP employee, Flood added.

    “We take this report and the report on the incident and the action by the House of Commons very seriously,” she said.

    “This is unprecedented in recent history of the organization.”

    Calls to George’s residence and her lawyer weren’t immediately returned.

    A report released in February said George misled the all-party committee when she denied involvement in a fellow Mountie’s removal from a police probe into management of the RCMP’s $12-billion pension and insurance plans.

    Staff-Sgt. Mike Frizzell testified that George engineered his removal, and documents tabled last March indicate she was involved in related e-mail traffic.

    The February report’s heavy rebuke largely turned on three areas in George’s testimony on Feb. 21, 2007, namely her claims that:

    – She did not have “anything whatsoever” to do with Frizzell’s removal.

    – She didn’t know who ordered Frizzell’s removal, although she then testified that Chief Superintendent Doug Lang e-mailed her about it.

    – Frizzell left the investigation team for health reasons.

    The report says George, now deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives, deliberately misled the committee to avoid professional embarrassment.

    George maintains that she answered questions honestly, accurately and to the very best of her personal recollection during her committee appearances.

    The pension scandal broke in 2003 when allegations surfaced of mismanagement, nepotism, questionable expense claims and payments to consultants who did little or no work.

    George was the only senior Mountie suspended in the fallout from the pension fiasco.

    The RCMP reinstated her in November after eight months, and also clarified that her suspension wasn’t tied to any allegation that she misused public funds or mismanaged the pension or insurance plans.

    A separate federal probe concluded last June that former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, now retired, shook public trust in the national police force by letting the controversy drag on for years.

  35. For our ‘uber’ economist sitting in the Palace it is no secret to those in the know but for her it was obviously missed. Being a supposed ‘uber’ economist she would have seen the steady rise in the price of benchmark spot prices of Thai rice over the past year. You know like the benchmark prices of the different spot prices of the differing quality of crude oil. That also is public knowledge for those economists who care about the relationship of price to production and consumption. Also the market based on price information as the chief organizing principle of society. It is out there—- What was our Department of Energy, Trade and Agriculture doing over the past year?????? Were they so entralled by our ‘uber economist’ that they forgot to use their common sense? Were where our favorite finance guys who should have been making contingent models on this very thing happening and prepare for scenarios to mitigate these when reality does bite.

    in markets you cannot win all the time. sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. why dont we just call this a bad put and now she is short covering and cutting her loses. we should be thankful that she also made some good calls in the past and was not getting credit for it.

    markets are volatile and unfortunately she was on the wrong side of the bet. if our government hedged against what happened, imagine how much money will also be diverted in subsidizing rice production. the truth is no matter which side you are in we will eventually lose as mr market will eventually get you in this times of uncertainty.

  36. magdiwang, i think hvrds point is that Gloria Arroyo, for all her supposed qualifications as an economist, failed to see the early warning signals. Besides, just like the decision to gamble, submitting oneself to market forces is itself a decision, so it’s a cop out to say that it’s just ‘bad luck’, because she could have made the decision not to leave ourselves vulnerable to market forces when it came to rice.

  37. Pero si Aling Gloria palaging talo, dapat sa palaging nyang sinasabi, “being an economist, blah, blah, blah” nakahanda na siya sa manga ganitong contingencies.siguro itong manga alipores beleb na beleb sa amo nila,nakatulala lang palagi lang Yes, ma’am insted na mag-isip rin nang sarili nila. kaya ayan, puro Bahala na si Ma’am Harvard grad ata yan..hehe..

  38. cvj, i dont buy that the government did not know the possibilty of rice will go up sharply. the warning signs are everywhere especially with the dollar depreciating rapidly. they probably miscalculated on how much it will go up. im sure they have sound reasons, we are not privy to their data. hmmm, that calls for another senate investigation. hehehe

    mang_kiko, masyado kaseng seryoso si aling gloria kapag humaharap sa mga tauhan niya. baka natatakot sila at hindi na makaimik man lang. kailangan paminsan-minsan ngumiti siya. o baka naman iba ang anyo niya sa labas ng kamera.

  39. Economists rely on too many hands: the one hand, on the other hand and of course the invisible hand to put the blame on market forces.

  40. Magdiwang that is where reliable data comes in, and of course tansparency to make us privy to their data.

    I know it is not the fault of the gma, that our data gathering was faulty before her time, she could have fixed it during her time.
    Imagine having different figures from China for example on how much they imported to us and how much we exported from them, the discrepancy is beyond the allowance for margin of error.

    On forecasting and projections and contingency plans forget my three year budget proposal that is so far fetched,with our flawed data to rely on, mahirap talaga magproject,kahit na gano ka kagaling sa statistics and magic.

  41. On nuclear energy,

    sayang pero another suntok sa buwan.matagal ito gagawa pa ng programa para mag ipon ng nuclear physicists at lahat ng kasali sa pagtayo at pagoperate ng plant, at of course kailangan di madaliin kundi another chernobyl……

    and having a nuclear plant does not eliminate the problem on oil and other fossil fuels.

  42. Magdiwang, so the choice is between incompetence (what hvrds is asserting at 10:09am) or negligence (what you are, in effect, asserting at 1:54pm) on Arroyo’s part. Of course, we cannot rule out a mix of both. Either way, we both agree that a miscalculation has been made. IMHO, the unlucky bitch argument is a cop out especially after her supporters have used supposed competence to excuse her illegitimacy.

    Karl, remember Arroyo’s reaction when she was publicly (and probably inadvertently) confronted by her own subordinate with the classroom shortage? Do you think her reaction at that time is reflective of someone who values transparency and who would prioritize accurate data gathering?

  43. “in markets you cannot win all the time. sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. why dont we just call this a bad put and now she is short covering and cutting her loses. we should be thankful that she also made some good calls in the past and was not getting credit for it.”

    “markets are volatile and unfortunately she was on the wrong side of the bet. if our government hedged against what happened, imagine how much money will also be diverted in subsidizing rice production. the truth is no matter which side you are in we will eventually lose as mr market will eventually get you in this times of uncertainty.”

    A reminder – in 2001 she came in and by 2004 she had racked up debts making her number one in racking up debts more than Marcos, Cory, FVR and Erap.

    It took the U.P. School of Economics that told her that the country was already at verge of having no primary surplus. Debt payments were more than revenues. Canlas lost his job for telling her also this sad fact earlier. She raised and expanded the coverage of VAT. that means that everytime the price of oil goes up more VAT is taken in by the government. Ginigisa tayo sa sariling mantika.

    By 2004 total debt was over 130% of GDP.

    World wide the debt bubble was about to start. By 2006 the debt bubble had gone from equities to fixed income to currencies to base metals and thence to precious metals.

    PRC’s reserves went from $300m to todays $1.5 trillion.

    Our own BSP lost Phgp 60 billion subsidizing the dollar trying to control our own currncy bubble. Yeah right we do not have the resources to subsidize production. That statement is from an ignorant person who does not know where credit comes from. Ignorance is not bad. Being stupid is.

    I was not aware that our ‘uber’ economist was running the country on the basis of her being a hedge fund manager and that Hacienda Filipinas is a hedge fund. She lost her bet??????

    How could she lose her bet when she did not know what was going on.

    It was her erstwhile companion Neri jr. who brought out that ridiculous story of the value of base and precious metals in the Philippines to be worth $1 trillion dollars. But that is part of the bubble story. That is what the mining story is all about. It was the surge in commodity prices that pushed her to give numerous tax incentives for these guys to dig out those minerals. Why the wrong set of priorities.

    What happened to the statement that the country has no resources bit? Where will the over $1 billion in payments for rice that will come in and where will the interest payments come from to cover it. The NFA will borrow with the guarantee of the state. That is what credit is!!!!!! That is also know as money…………

    The Chinese from the PRC use their reserves to advance their producxtive capacities – establish mines in the Phils and lease lands here to produce food and fuel for themselves.

    While we give our reserves to J.P. Morgan to lend to other governments instead of using it here to subsidize production just like the Chinese do here in our country for their benefit.

    Sino bang mahina magisip? Bakit tanga ang nasa itaas????

    My my now I have heard it all. Hedge fund manager pala si Dona.

    I would love to see where and when she hedged her bet though. Wala akong makita diyan.

    I am trying very hard to think of one thing she has accomplished that will redound to the future good of the country. Like she said her father had taught her. Show me a foundational brick that she has laid for the future of her Hacienda Filipinas.

    If she had wanted to hedge her bets she would have placed private options with the government of Vietnam or Thailand to guarantee that we would buy 2m tomns every year going forward for a few years usbject to their condtions. You see there are many types of hedges available and even when you take it up and prices drop you can always cover your loses by storing the reserves. for a rainy day. In the prevailing world conditons it would have been an almost no lose scenario. Just ask the governments of India, China who maintain reserves of strategic grains. The Reserve Bank of India directs almost $15 billion dollars of credit to the agricultural sector. That is’nt cash it simply a guarantee of credit. The PRC does the same simply based on the power to create credit.

    Remember that you fix your roof when the weather is predicted to be good and perfect and not on predictions rainy or stormy days. That is totaly insane or a matter of overwhelming incompetence.

  44. On vetrans,and condos.
    Point well taken on Bonifacio and the intended afp modernization, ang ganda ng proposal di ba?

    Tapos pairalin mo ang great nations not built on good intentions,but business ekek, patay na.

    maganda sana kung pagsama ang good intentions at good business sense, in a perfect world of course.

    ang daming unsolicited proposals na di magkandaugaga ang mga signing fingers ni Gloria.

    kahit na ilang beses pa itong ulitin,pano nga kaya kung natuloy ang two million hectares of our land for the chinese,with what is happening what seems to be a well intended plan,(pano nga ba ito makakabuti sa atin?)based on the presentation, will not be good for us afterall.

    again ,pasintabi na po.
    yung nashare kong kaso about foreign funded projects na mas kilala bilang Abaya vs. Ebdane na nadismiss sa Supreme Court, would have covered all the issues on procurement and foreign funded projects kaya lang,you can’t win em all.try again na lang kung me resources na.

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