Mindanao hitting the fan?

Goodbye and good riddance? Impossible to extend CARP, says Honasan. It might be better to start over with a new law. As it is, the news that the CARL will expire soon has been shrugged off by the public, which will make the politicos assume that the land reform constituency of the 80’s and 90’s has vanished. Anyway, the President has gone through the motions: Arroyo support for CARP extension too late, say solons. So they may just consider not passing any replacement law at all. What will people do? Protest?

Cielito Habito identifies the four areas for “asset reform”: agrarian reform for farmers, urban land reform for squatters, ancestral domain reform for indigenous peoples disadvantaged by the current land laws, and fisheries reform:

The overall report card generally showed that asset reform processes have been woefully slow, participatory and management mechanisms highly inadequate, support services deficient, and threats of reversal persistent. Taken together, our asset reform performance after 20 years of CARP, 16 years of Udha, 11 years of Ipra and 10 years of the Fisheries Code merited a rating of “poor.” Notwithstanding this, the bulk of respondents attested that their families became better off after the asset reform. All these reinforce the desirability and need to sustain our asset reform efforts, while identifying key areas for improvement to further optimize their wide positive benefits.

How’s this for insurance? Joson bill for snap polls endorsed:

The House committee version endorsed for plenary deliberations makes it possible for a virtual referendum to be held on a president’s fitness to remain in office if that president has served at least three years of his or her term.

The committee version may apply both to President Arroyo and her successors.

“The snap election will go like this,” explained Locsin: “The Constitution shall be amended to read as follows: ‘A president shall be elected for a term of six years, provided, however, in the case of the incumbent President, her term will end upon the calling of snap elections, in which she will be qualified to run for the balance of her term. So it’s like a referendum,” Locsin said.

Of course the simpler amendment would have been to restore the 4-year presidential term with one re-election, which would shorten the incumbent’s term to end in 2009. But then, I’m also very much in favor of referendums (and yes, this runs the risk for one side or the other to be disappointed at the results) because I believe that if the President had thrown herself at the mercy of the electorate, she would have had a chance to resolve all the issues against her.

Manilenyo In Davao is happy taxes have been reduced.

Solita Monsod says even if things have slowed, the present growth rates are “nothing to sneeze at,” in comparison to the Ramos years, for example. And she takes a dig at critics of the government statistics. To be sure, the economists among critics of the President haven’t been heard from, but that may simply be a function of their limited resources compared to the government (or Monsod may be right in their being selective). What I want to know, from the economists critical of the President and/or government statistics, is what they think about Monsod’s comparison. After all, one economist, Dr. Michael Alba, had pointed out that there’s a break between past and current ways of computing GDP that makes a point-by-point comparison difficult, which is what the break in the line you see below is about:

GDP.jpg

Meanwhile, Arroyo waives school uniforms to keep poor kids in school and Govt readies P500 subsidy to 4 million poor families. And this is just stupid: Lozada hits MMDA proposal on La Salle traffic. I grew up in that area and yes, La Salle, and Xavier, and ICA, all snarl traffic but the solution, if you’re going to be extreme about it, is to require schools to be located in less densely populated areas or, failing that, to intervene with gated communities to find a way to open their streets to school traffic; and failing that, to encourage the busing-in of students, but this would require local and national authorities to actually guarantee the safety of students.

A vigorous debate on education, inspired by Martin Perez on the problems of the educational system, is taking place: see Rom’s counterpoint and Philippine Commentary’s dissection of our miserable scores in maths and science.

Incidentally, the i Report Online story on the Office of the President and the Commission on Audit seems less shocking than last year’s -in fact, slightly encouraging, considering the glacial pace of change in the bureaucracy. What it does suggest, however, is the slipshod manner in which things are run.

In other news, Boracay’s biggest hotel project seen to destroy wetland. Overseas, In Malaysia, Signs of Government Reform (in his blog, Mahathir has some cranky things to say) while Thailand’s Political Tensions Continue.

I. The perils of political mobilization

The only justification for national self-government is the restoration of the dignity of the people. And this dignity will continue to elude us as abject poverty, rampant corruption, oligarchs and encomienderos remain stark realities of our society.

-Anwar Ibrahim, accepting the conferment of the rank of Knight Grand Cross of the Order by the Knights of Rizal, August 23, 1996

My column for yesterday, The victory of poverty, was inspired by this entry by Mon Casiple, and by this entry by the notorious Benign0 in FilipinoVoices.com as well as New Philippine Revolution on recent crimes. Casiple believes that the 2010 race is off to an early start, because the President’s shown signs she’s giving up on staying on in power:

This is the logical result of a perception (and a conclusion) that president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has at last relinquished her plans to extend her stay in power. No charter change, no martial law, no state of emergency–no supra-constitutional scheme to get around the severe constitutional constraint of one presidential term to end on 12 noon, June 30, 2010.

He says we’re facing the longest presidential campaign in our history, essentially two years. I’m not so sure it will be the longest. It may be more accurate to say that since long incumbencies have been rare, and that there’s a natural fatigue that sets in on the part of the public when presidents are in office for a long time, when presidents have been office for a long time, the campaign naturally gets longer. So it was that the buzz over the elections scheduled for 1941 began in 1938-39; the jockeying for the presidency was in full swing by 1971 ahead of the (as it turned out, aborted) 1973 elections; and since the present Constitution, with its fixed, six year term for the presidency, has been in place for a generation now, there’s a natural, though perhaps subconscious, impatience to kick off the campaign.

Another point: if the public wants the President to step down in 2010, they should understand this also means she will begin her political rehabilitation starting on that date. We would, in a sense, be returning to how it was from 1946 to 1965 and from 1992 to 1998: if an incumbent president stepped down gracefully, the successor would leave the predecessor unmolested, guaranteeing a tranquil retirement for himself in turn, regardless of the political rhetoric of past campaigns. This tradition was broken only twice: with the pursuit of the Marcoses and the imprisonment and trial of Estrada; the President’s pardon of Estrada can be viewed as the first step in restoring the status quo ante.

That being the case, if she steps down in 2010, the message is everything she did during her incumbency has been ratified by the people; in which case the people should leave her alone and give all her successors free rein to undertake every single policy of hers they see fit. This ought to be the true price for “I will wait ’till 2010.”

And so, basic point I was trying to make: it is not in the interest of any of the organized political groups, to really come up with anything beyond cosmetic solutions to the problem of poverty. The Catholic Church is less afraid of poverty than it is of condoms; the political parties, being top-heavy organizations, are concerned with mobilizing leaders and not followers; local and national officials, in turn, are more interested in intervening to subvert institutions than putting themselves at the mercy of independent institutions; a lucrative symbiosis has been created between candidates and the media, when it comes to mass communication with the electorate. And there is no such thing as accountability for executive officials. Give an inch, take a mile: see ‘Too much autonomy’ makes RP cities less business friendly’.

An observation I hear quite often -that nothing really works well, but somehow, things somehow function- reveals why there’s little practical incentive to get things to work properly through innovation. It’s too risky. The pragmatic bean-counters have everything reduced to a science; so why change it? After all, we essentially have a captive market, whether in terms of business or politics.

So anyone trying to take a more holistic approach or break down each of our component problems simply gets swamped by the scale and enormity of the things that need to be fixed.

Another point I (rather abruptly) made was concerning objections to product endorsements by politicians. Last Saturday, Randy David looked into this phenomenon in Politicians as product peddlers, in which he further elaborates on his theme of our ongoing Crisis of Modernity:

The secular democratic state has to create the basis of its own legitimacy and invent its own traditions in order to gain some of the aura of authority that belonged to the sovereign in the traditional world. This transition is not easy, and we find ourselves precisely in the middle of it.

The problem becomes visible as the spaces vacated by the old elite in the upper echelons of government are taken over by the celebrity icons of the voting masses. Looking at the composition of the present Senate, one cannot fail to note the growing number of crossovers from the mass media and entertainment world, clearly a result of mass media dominance in our contemporary society.

Politicians aspiring for the country’s highest office know this only too well. Indeed, the presence of Senators Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson, Manuel Villar and Francis Escudero on billboards and TV commercials is no more than the flip side of the presence of Lapid, Revilla and Estrada in the Senate hall. What is emerging here is the fusion of the mass media, entertainment and politics into a single horizon.

David goes on to criticize politician-endorsers:

I think of young politicians like Roxas, Legarda and Escudero as harbingers of a modern political system. It is disappointing to see them take the route of the “trapo” [traditional politico] in the age of the mass media. Their appearance on commercial billboards and TV spots as product endorsers may not come under the purview of prohibited premature campaigning. But it is hard not to see it as a cheap attempt at enhancing political visibility.

I’m not so sure this is traditional politics; that kind of politics was premised on the power of the Machine: the master -or mistress- of it being the President, who proved the limitations of mass media politics when it comes not only to soliciting, but “protecting” votes. Instead, it seems to me that these endorsements represents traditional politicians clumsily trying to adapt to the new media environment (following the lead of media creations such as de Castro and Legarda).

But unlike David, I don’t think these product endorsements are going to help anyone’s sales at all -even of the politicians trying to sell themselves to voters. It will take patently political ads to do that. But what these ads represent, to my mind, is an endorsement, not of the product by the candidate, but of the candidate by the product, or to be precise, by the manufacturers of the products being endorsed. Simply put, they’re campaign contributions.

Today’s Inquirer editorial, Circumventing the law, takes a swipe at politician-endorsers and echoes David’s point on modernity, saying that neither prohibitions of law nor tradition seems capable of stopping senators. And the editorial advises potential candidates to hold off campaigning until the formal campaign season starts. But ironically, yesterday, news like this –Lakas-CMD bares tentative senatorial line-up for 2010 – besides giving an excuse for sending the President’s acolytes on a national tour, also shows how easy it is to circumvent the limitations of the law on campaigning. Half of the ruling coalition makes a campaign announcement -and it’s carried in the news, achieving everything the party wanted.

Going back to stuart-santiago’s follow-up to my response to her initial call to boycott all politician-endorsers:

or now we would be a tiny tiny minority at best whose boycott of these politicians would hardly make a dent in the final count. but i have this romantic notion that the impossible, like EDSA, is possible. that one day, a tipping point might be reached and, as in Jose Saramago’s Seeing, the government will hold elections but nobody will come until late afternoon, and only to cast blank ballots.

Except that as the rules are, if the candidate then showed up and voted for himself, then he’d win, all other ballots being considered “spoiled.” The resounding repudiation that blank ballots represent would be lost on the candidates.

For more on politician-endorsers, see the Faily PCIJ’s Political ads up close; see also Splice and Dice’s Philippines’ TV Ads and Political Posturing (First Part) and Philippines’ TV Ads and Political Posturing (Second Part).

But that being said, this still brings us to-

II. Meralco Redux

The point I previously made about the middle class being antagonized along with big business is underlined by this entry in Zone of Solitude. See Iris Cecilia Gonzales for her account of the stockholder’s meeting. And The Meralco Fiasco in FilipinoVoices.com.

John Mangun, a big booster of the stock market, distinguishes the issues from each other in Meralco: What the issue really is:

For shareholders, the issue is clear; and the issue is not GSIS versus Lopez. It is only about having the best possible team run a profitable publicly owned company, which just happens to hold a government-regulated monopoly. However, if Meralco is now going to be operated principally in the “public interest” and not for “shareholder interest,” sell your stock as quickly as possible at any price. If any potential new management can run Meralco more effectively, efficiently and profitably, buy more shares.

Ramblings of a Mad Virus recounts what happened to a friend who bought Merlaco shares:

A friend of mine was so confident that once the Lopezes maintain their hold on power that the stock price would go up. Thinking that he is a such a genius, he buys shares a day before the board meeting. Two days later, newspapers scream the headlines that indeed the Lopez clan has kept control of the power company. But wait, it’s price is not going up! In fact it’s going down! As of this writing, my genius of a friend is losing 33k. Hahahahaha! The unforeseen event that happened? He didn’t expect that GSIS GM Winston Garcia would continue to question the credibility of the meeting and election of board of directors through legal means. He is now worried if he will dispose of it at a 10% loss or hold on till the prices go up again. Problem with holding on to it is that the last time Meralco had problems, the stock price went down from a high of 60 pesos per share to just 10 pesos. Now that’s going to be a very looooooooooong time for your money to be sleeping.

disini, as a GSIS beneficiary, takes exception to Garcia’s gambit:

The attempt (and continuing efforts at take over) negatively affects the stock price because we all know that if he succeeds, a government-run company would probably be less efficient. We don’t have to look further than NAPOCOR to see that this is almost gospel-truth.

But let’s assume the best case scenario for Mr. Garcia. Assume he succeeded in driving down Meralco’s “excessive profits” down. That would also drive the stock price further because stock prices reflect future profits. (Unless, of course, Mr. Garcia can demonstrate that lower prices will not come at the expense of profitabiilty and long-term viability.)

So, if he loses, the stock price goes down. If he wins, the price goes down. What can this mean? The only conclusion is that Mr. Garcia bought the shares with the certain outcome that the price would go down. That must have been his intention.

As a dues-paying member of the GSIS, I’d really like him to explain how this furthers the interests of GSIS members. If he wants to benefit the general public, that’s fine. But does he have to use GSIS funds and affect my future benefits? GSIS is not an agency that promotes public welfare. It’s primary purpose is to promote the welfare of its members. Somehow, this point is lost on Mr. Garcia.

The technically-inclined may be interested in Jcmiras.Net_02, who tackled whether Napocor might be overcharging its customers as well as other power-related issues. Over at The Write Stuff, the blogger looks at electricity and compares it to other utilities, such as water and phone companies. [email protected] says government should focus on quality and reliablity when it comes to providers of services, such as telecoms.

Punzi’s Corner Blog says the “presumption of regularity” attends the SEC’s intervention; Meralco has the burden of proof in this case; the case, then, may end up being a landmark one, determining the limits to the authority of the SEC in the light of recent legislation. Stella Arnaldo’s Blogspot thinks the SEC Commissioners made an artful dodge:

SO my brilliant theory is, the SEC commissioners were probably badgered by Fatty Winston into issuing the CDO (which doesn’t look beneath him with the way he arrogantly carries himself), so the commissioners, not wanting to get caught in this mess, deliberately issued an infirm document to give the Lopezes enough legroom to respond appropriately to it.

The SEC Commissioners know their place, know the law, and know their functions. These are not stupid people. They know the agency can no longer handle intra-corporate disputes, but probably not having any way out, were forced to issue a CDO anyway which everyone says is a first in Philippine SEC and corporate history. Not any other time in history, we are told, has the SEC interfered in a stockholders meeting right before said meeting was to be held.

The administration’s saber-rattling has led to gunboat diplomacy: JFC against Epira changes. The JFC is precisely the constituency the President’s been so careful to cultivate: the Marican Chamber of Commerce; the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce; the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; the European Chamber of Commerce; the Japanese Chamber of Commerce; the Korean Chamber of Commerce; and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies. With that shot across the bow, Palace takes wait-and-see stand on EPIRA while its senatorial allies take up the slack.

This is interesting, not only because it brings in a new group, politically (foreign investors) but also suggests that they’re skeptical of the opportunities Winston Garcia’s ultimate aim -to break up the Meralco franchise area into smaller chunks- will give them. Blogger lubikra, for one, looks forward to the breaking up of the Meralco franchise area. Pinoy Observer is skeptical about anything happening, and Too Early thinks this means the public will get irritated with the government.

Ricelander’s Blog joins the ranks of those proposing taking the Bataan Nuclear Plant out of mothballs or building a new one. Pilipinas, you need to work says the government’s dirty little secret -coddling the oil companies- has been exposed by the whole brouhaha. The Red Book of Tolkienreader also advocates focusing on renewable sources of energy. But, good news! According to At Midfield, there’s oil being produced in Palawan, or soon, anyway.

It’s good to see students like student’s life trying to get a grip on the issue, too.

III. Mindanao

A talk over the weekend with my editor over at Inquirer.net helped clarify how to go about distinguishing that blog, from this one. “Why not comment on the day’s headline?” he suggested. Indeed.

And so, my Inquirer Current entry for today is Is Mindanao hitting the fan? Coming at the heels of, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff drops by for a visit even as FBI in Zambo for bomb probe. See Army Command post in Surigao del Sur bombed; 2 seriously hurt. There seems to be a lot of posturing taking place -on the part of the Americans, of our own AFP, on the part of the MILF and MNLF (see Nur Misuari moves to revive Sabah claim: the man has no love lost for Malaysia, it seems, because it allowed him to be apprehended)

On a side note, the other day’s Inquirer editorial views the Arroyo-Bush meeting in Washington as a summit of lame ducks. But perhaps both have found common cause in Mindanao? Erick San Juan suggests this may be the case:

The other day, my friend, veteran columnist, Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya, wrote in her latest article, “Mindanao Simmers Again”, the complete story on the Crisis Group report. The group is worried that Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), tasked to specifically interdict and isolate kidnap for ransom (KFR) groups and other similar criminal syndicates operating in or near MILF communities, to cite an example the PENTAGON GANG, has been inactive. The AHJAG was reportedly created to facilitate coordination between the GRP, meaning the Philippine government and the MILF is sharing intelligence on terrorists and to avoid accidental clashes while the government forces chase them.

The group correctly analyzed that such coordination will only work if there is progress on the political front through peace negotiations and when the insurgents could find concrete benefits from their cooperation with the government.

The group seems to know “something” will really happen in Mindanao especially now that the Malaysian government withdrew its International Monitoring Team from the truce between the GRP and the MILF.

But too many cooks spoils the broth. With the entry of the U.S., Libya, Australia, etc. as mediators, the problem became international in perspective thus giving the MILF the “Status of Belligerency”.

The Crisis Group as noted by Tordesillas said that the AHJAG has been allowed to wither while the Arroyo administration is distracted by political turmoil in Manila and Washington focuses on economic and military approaches to an essentially political problem in the Philippine South.

What worries me is the finger pointing between the Philippine authorities and the MILF as to who is really behind the Zamboanga bombing. The MILF denied the allegations linking their group to the explosion. Regional PNP Chief, General Jaime Caringal blamed the MILF not only for the Andrews air base incident but also for two bombings last month in Zamboanga City.

The bomb explosion in front of the Edwin Andrews Air Base also hit the AMWSLAI Bldg. across the air base which housed the office of a US funded, Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy (AMORE).

Two people died and 22 others were wounded in the incident.

The timing of the bombing became the talk among the conspiracy theorists especially that before the occurrence, newspapers and radio reports were bombarded by travel advisories coming from the U.S., U.K. and Australian government advising their nationals not to go to Mindanao, especially Zamboanga City for an impending terrorist attack. That’s how positive they are despite that our local intelligence agencies have been vigilant enough to deter such terrorism.

The bomb went off as President GMA was on her way to Tawi-Tawi while US Ambassador Kristie Kenney was in Pagadian City.

Is the U.S. intervention in the police investigation of the bombing justifiable? If they have information on hand, they should have informed our authorities especially the NICA, or the NSC to avert such dastardly act.

Unless the Americans think our government’s one of the culprits. If one assumes there is a faction of Hawks in the cabinet, and that they prefer war to peace, and that as they have consolidated their influence in the administration, the peace or Dove faction has been edged out of influence, and if you correlate this with the deterioration in the peace negotiations, then it’s a scary development indeed.

IV. Lozada’s foray into blogging

Jun Lozada Blogs has burst upon the blogosphere. Of course the real question is who will end up with more readers, Lozada or Kitty Go with her new blog, When Chic Hits the Fan…Chic Happens. If I were a betting man, my money would be on Kitty Go. It’s a zeitgeist thing, and one might even be able to argue, she’s the real radical, because she’s less derivative.

Entries such as this one, had their original incarnations as essays for limited, then public, distribution. It is documents like this one: Ang Liga ng Pilipino: The Filipino Ideology of Nationhood, that deserve dissection and discussion. It is essentially a puree of Constantino, Jose Ma. Sison, Recto, Salvador Araneta and Rizal and a dash of Bonifacio and Mabini for flavor and respectability. Are the results palatable? At least now you have a free taste-test. Let me suggest that if you were going to try to identify what kind of political cocktail he’s trying to replicate here at home, it’s this: the People’s Republic of China, as it’s managed under the reforms of Deng.

Note that in the past I suggested that the more people are exposed to Lozada’s thoughts, the more they will come to recognize his radical tendencies. They may even detect a streak of messianism in him: some will like it, others will cringe upon seeing it.

I’ve suggested, too, that if he is a zealot, he’s a particular kind of zealot: the spurned and scorned mid-level bureaucrat-cum-fixer filled with disappointment and disgust over how he will always be a servant in the current scheme of things. Solution? Liquidate the masters, on the assumption it will be welcomed by one’s fellow servants.

This does not take into account that some servants will identify with their masters, or that master and servant can have a unified sense of purpose, or that some servants aspire to be future masters and have no interest in liquidating anyone as it upsets the social order they’ve spent a lifetime adjusting to and mastering.

And, most simply: when people take it upon themselves to start separating the sheep from the goats, others can’t help wondering whether it’s worth it to risk the wholesale slaughter that will inevitably ensue. What is the difference between culling a population for, say, oligarchs, and the liquidation of all urbanites by say, Pol Pot? Only a difference in scale, not of intent; and inevitably, “excesses” will ensue -which might lead one member of the downtrodden, as he kneels to be shot by a fellow member of the downtrodden, to ask, “who appointed you to be God?”

The use of words like “doctrina” is highly revealing: this document is the proposed sacred text for a new orthodoxy. Considering that the present is supposed to be an era that is skeptical of all orthodoxies and doctrines, is this, then, a document doomed from the start? Or by its inherent contradictions?

Take these passages:

Once victory is achieved, the first thing people will feel about the new government is uncertainty. Change will naturally make people uncertain, particularly people who used to hold a certain amount of power and enjoys the pleasure of wealth in the old establishment. The new government must immediately address these concerns or the consequences will be dire.

Fear always breaks down people into their most primal instincts — flee or fight. Those who feel threatened will always either fight the establishment or flee the country. Fighting, either in the form of resistance or rebellion, wastes time and resources better spent rebuilding and strengthening the new society. As for flight, flight of citizens translates to flight of capital and resources, capital that is valuable in acquiring the resources in rebuilding of the country. Such setbacks will only hinder the restoration and growth of the nation.

The first policy statement of any new government must therefore be dedicated in assuaging the fear of the people. They should be made to understand that they have nothing to fear, and the goal of the new government is to restore the rule of law.

But then several paragraphs down, in arguing for a more thorough-going land reform, guess who he quotes?

Land reform is also the most obvious demonstration of social egalitarianism. As Lenin noted in 1905, mere land distribution is not enough. Only those who posses the capital to till the land can do so and therefore “socialization of the land” cannot be effected without “socialization of capital.” This has been the flaw of all the land reform movements in the last hundred years. Even Marcos’s Agrarian Reform project was aimed at social emancipation rather than an economic movement of “socializing capital.”

At which point, those he was trying to reassure, by the time they read this part, would be following their capital abroad. Considering, however, that one of the benefits of putting political documents online is that the public can then weigh in and improve them, perhaps these contradictions will end up resolved. Personally, I find his ideas very interesting: his effort to reconcile private property with social engineering, his aspiring to accomplish the culling of our population without armed revolution, deserves our scrutiny (and yes, Rom, I will respond to your response, too). See The Marocharim Experiment’s Lost In Thought Reading Jun Lozada’s Blog and Pass (On) The Message:

I think that it behooves Mr. Lozada not to speak to the youth, much less to “represent” the youth. He should speak for his generation – those who are twice my age – who regard with suspicion even the most purest and the most sincere of virtues and actions.

To that generation I, a 22-year-old not-a-boy-not-yet-a-middle-aged-man-with-a-prostate-problem, pass a message: fix your mess. Take responsibility. Act with the same idealism that you expect of us. Soon, your generation will pass before the bar of history, and it is your inaction, your selfishness, and your disregard for justice, that will be the better judge of the future you have already passed on to us.

Anyway, the blog made waves from the moment Blogger’s Kapihan unveiled it; Pilipinas, Bayan Ko… appreciates the effort; as does Alleba Politics; journalists like Theanthology noticed it; and on a corollary note on the value of testimony, see The Warrior Lawyer on former Speaker de Venecia’s possible testimony:

It remains to be seem whether he will make good on his promise or if this is just another example of JDV’s penchant for clever dissembling. He explained his reticence by saying he was just recovering from the flu and his apprehension that his testimony might worsen the present food and oil crises and bring down the Arroyo government. He even said that it might prompt Malacañang to impose martial rule just to stay on power.

Congressman and presidential son Mikey Arroyo was quick to warn De Venecia that anything he says might used against him, as a willing participant and beneficiary of many questionable deals in the not-so-distant past. This might be true, but this evades the real issue.

V. Thanks

To The EQualizer Post and The Philippine Experience and Tingog.com for your kind greetings.

103 comments

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    • leytenian on June 4, 2008 at 11:09 am

    if perlman’s idea is acceptable to our budget and my long term approach requires more time and planning ,then i have no choice but to agree. i just cannot wait for things to happen. I have been drinking lately due to political stress … LOL ( kidding)

    • Jeg on June 4, 2008 at 11:45 am

    when will those who are interested in large-scale farming be allowed to acquire larger chunks of agricultural land?

    They can buy them from the recipients of agrarian reform at a fair price. I think the former landlords can do this. If we have enlightened and creative landlords, it could result in a win-win.

    Government pays landlord with bonds. Landlord buys land from farmers with cash or shares in the agribusiness; their choice. Crucial here is an NGO that will guide the farmers.

    I go to the supermarket and see all these beautiful vegetables from Taiwan and think, Why do we have to import these? With technology such as greenhouses and wind-generated electricity that the entrepreneurs could bring, in partnership with the farmers who could own shares in the agribusiness, we could have highly efficient and profitable farms.

    • Tax Joven on June 4, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Land reform is counterproductive. What happens when you give land to a penniless farmer? He sells it! Or rents it. Or plants it himself using borrowed money from usurers; a sure fire formula for getting poorer and poorer. These, I see.
    Land reform is supposed to be not just about giving lands. But is it? After paying for the land, the government has no more money left for support services. Let’s make farmers productive, so they can buy lands of their own. We have models for this.

    • kg on June 4, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    “Land reform is counterproductive. What happens when you give land to a penniless farmer? He sells it! Or rents it. Or plants it himself using borrowed money from usurers; a sure fire formula for getting poorer and poorer. These, I see.”

    On these, I see:

    in fairness to the idealism of the commenters of tried and tested somewhere else ideas.if hindsight can be 20/20 why can’t foresight be given the same chance.

    • kg on June 4, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    “Let’s make farmers productive, so they can buy lands of their own. We have models for this.”

    on the brighter side, you displayed foresight with the suggeston above.

    • DevilsAdvc8 on June 4, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    the best land reform is one that will make land productive. as it is, there are too much idle lands lying around. stiff penalties should be implemented, and land taken from non-performing landlords and re-distributed to landowners that really make their lands productive.

    i’d rather have del monte own all the lands of carp beneficiaries and have them employ those farmers, than for those farmers to get the title and immediately sell it to real estate developers to be converted to subdivisions and villages.

    higher taxes should be imposed on land being used for rent-seeking; and tax breaks for those utilized in production.

    so how about cvj’s grab the land from the oligarchs scheme? well, there are good-performing oligarchs, and there are just, well, oligarchs.

    Filipinos have always had the lowest form of moral development per Kohlberg’s stages.

    Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)

    1. Obedience and punishment orientation

    (How can I avoid punishment?)

    2. Self-interest orientation

    (What’s in it for me?)

    Level 2 (Conventional)

    3. Interpersonal accord and conformity

    (The good boy/good girl attitude)

    4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation

    (Law and order morality)

    Level 3 (Post-Conventional)

    5. Social contract orientation
    6. Universal ethical principles

    (Principled conscience)

    as you can see, majority of Filipinos are stuck in level 1, a level appropriate for toddlers and teeners but hardly for adults. and yet that comprises our population and 99% of our politicians.

    ideally, we would want our citizens to reach a higher level of moral development, but since being stuck in the lowest level perpetuates us in a vicious cycle, it’s more pragmatic if we approach the problem and apply solutions in a way that will target the lowest common denominator.

    reward and punishment – so make laws that will do just that. and elect leaders that will follow that principle.

    • DevilsAdvc8 on June 4, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    on another note, Obama finally clinched the nomination. after months of delaying of the walking dead.

    • Jeg on June 4, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I think we’re at 2, Devils. That’s how we vote for candidates. “Boto natin yan. Madaling lapitan.”

    Theyre image of accessibility is enhanced if they keep showing up on TV and radio shows.

    • Jeg on June 4, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I meant “their image…”

    • cvj on June 4, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Re: Productivity effects of Land Reform

    Flawed as it may have been, on the average, CARP has increased the productivity of the beneficiaries.

    …Economist and former socioeconomic planning chief Cielito F. Habito earlier lauded the progress ARCs have made in enriching poor peoples in the provinces.

    “Based on the findings of the impact studies on CARP, agrarian reform beneficiaries are now earning better compared to other farmer,” Mr. Habito noted.

    Specifically, labor productivity among ARCs now averages P20,430 per hectare versus P8,032 per hectare in regular farmlands.

    Moreover, average incomes of agrarian reform beneficiaries have grown to P97,844 a year versus P75,787 per year churned out by non-CARP beneficiaries.

    Also, a number of agrarian reform beneficiaries have become the country’s new breed of entrepreneurs… – Agrarian reform: impact and controversies, November 3, 2006

    http://www.bworld.com.ph/Research/populareconomics.php?id=0027

    • anthony scalia on June 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    cvj,

    not sure about Philippine Laws but in Singapore, the government can invoke eminent domain for the purpose of Public Housing as well

    eminent domain is available here. as long as it’s for a public purpose, the land owner has no choice but to sell to the government. but its possible for the land owner to be paid a high price for his land.

    …it is in the interest of Society to find ways to (1) provide job opportunities and (2)the necessary infrastructure which necessarily includes housing and utility services.

    Amen. Not ‘patalsikin na now na.’ Not another EDSA.

    • Jeg on June 4, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Also, a number of agrarian reform beneficiaries have become the country’s new breed of entrepreneurs… – Agrarian reform: impact and controversies, November 3, 2006

    Wouldnt it be something if the urban middle class of Gucci gangster types is replaced by a new middle class composed of farmers?

    “Wow, chong, ganda ng tractor mo, dude. Magkano score mo dyan?”

    • anthony scalia on June 4, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    UP n student,

    Or maybe you don’t agree, and you are a supra-liberal with other people’s property.

    I suddenly remembered a joke:

    Two communist party members are having a conversation

    member A – comrade, kung meron kang bahay, ibibigay mo ba sa partido?
    member B – siyempre

    member A – comrade, kung meron kang kotse, ibibigay mo ba sa partido?
    member B – siyempre

    member A – comrade, kung meron kang cellphone, ibibigay mo ba sa partido?
    member B – no!!!!!

    member A – baket?
    member B – meron ako nun eh

    • grd on June 4, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    anthony,

    ibibigay niya rin kaya bahay at kotse niya?

    • anthony scalia on June 4, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    grd,

    siguro, kung ibibigay din ng kaibigan nating taga Singapore yung bahay at kotse nya 🙂

    • anthony scalia on June 4, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Jwg,

    “Wow, chong, ganda ng tractor mo, dude. Magkano score mo dyan?”

    can be the new status symbol, a brand new tractor

    • DevilsAdvc8 on June 4, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    I think we’re at 2, Devils. That’s how we vote for candidates. “Boto natin yan. Madaling lapitan.”

    number 2 is still at level 1 stage of moral development jeg.

    eminent domain is available here. as long as it’s for a public purpose, the land owner has no choice but to sell to the government. but its possible for the land owner to be paid a high price for his land.

    then you would be interested to know the misappropriation case in Cam. Sur Capitol where L-Ray has claimed eminent domain but depreciated the offer to P1 per sq.m

    • cvj on June 4, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Jeg (at 5:15 pm), jologs naman pag-naka kalabaw.

    • anthony scalia on June 4, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    DevilsAdvc8,

    then you would be interested to know the misappropriation case in Cam. Sur Capitol where L-Ray has claimed eminent domain but depreciated the offer to P1 per sq.m

    yes, i’d be very interested. what happened? i’d like to know how just compensation was computed.

    it may be possible that the owner was paid P1/sq.m but the issue of just compensation is still on appeal. for all we know the value of the land hovers around P1/sq.m.

    if it will serve a public purpose then its not misappropriation. the only remaining issue is just compensation

    poor L-Ray. i heard from a Cam Sur local that his own family is against him, including his own trapo dad

    • grd on June 4, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    anthony,

    yung kaibigan nga natin ang tinutukoy ko. 🙂

    • supremo on June 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    ‘the best land reform is one that will make land productive. as it is, there are too much idle lands lying around. stiff penalties should be implemented, and land taken from non-performing landlords and re-distributed to landowners that really make their lands productive.’

    I agree. In addition, there should be a law that prohibits landowners from giving agricultural land as inheritance to their kids and relatives.

    • UP n student on June 4, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    A more “rational” way is a MINIMUM-tax per hectare of agricultural land. Productive agricultural land should be generating income, therefore, productive agricultural land should be generating tax-revenue to the government.

    If the land is already generating an income-tax above the MINIMUM-Tax, the land is used positively and the landowner just pays what he has to pay anyway (the income tax). If the land is totally- or partially-idle and the income-tax is less than the MINIMUM-TAX, the landowner will be required to pay the MINIMUM-TAX.

    Agricultural land owned by a church should still be required to pay the “minimum-tax”.

    • supremo on June 4, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    UP n student,

    The basic idea is ‘you use it or you lose it’.

    • UP n student on June 5, 2008 at 1:03 am

    supremo: I want to add “… if you can afford it, you don’t have to use it, but you gotta pay for it.” So if Abe Margallo wants to retire on his very own island where half is sugar-plantation, then Abe should be welcomed back. Even if Abe wants to let the land be idle (so there is no noise to disturb him as he writes), then Abe should still be welcomed as long as Abe pays taxes as if the land is fully productive.

    • supremo on June 5, 2008 at 1:54 am

    I think Martin is teaching at the Philippine Science High School. I graduated from a similar school in Manila. Same kick out policy. These science schools are well funded. You think you’re gifted? Think again. You are toughened and humbled at the same time by the challenging environment. But there’s a problem after graduation. You get mixed in with students from other schools in college. The environment is not as tough anymore. Everything is so easy for you but hard for some of your classmates. You begin to backslide and lose the competitive edge. The government just wasted its money.

    • supremo on June 5, 2008 at 4:39 am

    ‘from Rom’s counterpoint- In exchange, those other public schools can send their teachers for a one-month (or more) tour of duty in those elite high schools where they can be exposed to what really excellent and motivated students can do, and how other teachers handle their elite classes.’
    This reminded me of 2 advance Algebra teachers during my third year. Both of them transferred from another public high school. Both quit after teaching for 1 year at the school. The other one was even hospitalized for high blood pressure and was comatose for a while. All because the students are ‘too hard to handle’.

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 6:57 am

    sabihin na natin na apektado ako kung di pwede maginherit ng land agricultural or residential.

    ever heard of inheritance tax.

    back to the urban jungle:

    kaya ayaw ko humirit sa squatter dahil me squatter sa property namin eh,mga sundalo paalasin mo yari ka.(malapit sa ft boni dun sila nakaassign)

    speaking of squatter na sundalo this is from bottom to the top hierarchy meaning from private to general. there are some generals in ft boni na ayaw sumibat sa mga quarters nila,somehow nakakuha pa ng tro.

    if there is a government project for development a big obstacle are those who won’t budge kahit mayroon Right of way ang gov,bakit pa tayo kailabgan lumayo ng example:northrail southrail na lang

    ayaw nila relocation ang layo sa tirahan nila, tapos ang big irony wala daw mass transport.
    langya kaya nga sila pinaalis para sa mass transport.Ayos!

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 7:01 am

    “ayaw nila relocation ang layo sa tirahan nila, tapos ang big irony wala daw mass transport”

    blooper:

    ang layo sa pinagtratrabahuhan nila.

    • anthony scalia on June 5, 2008 at 8:22 am

    supremo,

    “I think Martin is teaching at the Philippine Science High School. I graduated from a similar school in Manila.”

    MaSci? Its grads are just as good as PhiSci grads

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Bencard just in case you still want to know,sinagot kita sa previous blog.

    Bencard :

    “project syndicate” – what in the world is that? sounds like another cabal.
    June 5th, 2008 at 2:45 am
    KG :

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/

    a collection of commentaries from newspapers all over.
    June 5th, 2008 at 8:08 am

    • anthony scalia on June 5, 2008 at 8:31 am

    KG,

    many people are not aware of this, but the government has spent substantial sums of money just for relocation of squatters. tapos hundreds of private landowners, many of whom are middle class only, had to pay off squatters to leave their own lands!

    thanks to the Lina law, squatters cannot be evicted if there is no relocation site. sagot pa ng gobyerno ang relocation!

    we all need a paradigm shift. rather than pro-poor, we should be anti-poverty

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Yes supremo, kung masci ka elite ka.(one of the best)

    • leytenian on June 5, 2008 at 8:46 am

    be careful folks. what comes around goes around. True rich people are generous. The wanna be rich are not reallythat rich. they think they are.these are the type that can be bought because they don’t have enough.

    • KG on June 5, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Anthony,

    I have to agree.

    • anthony scalia on June 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    urban land reform? might not work. many urban poor expect land to be given to them for free. na pamper na sila ng mga politiko

    • UP n student on June 7, 2008 at 9:40 am

    anthony: is that group of urban-poor you point to the cream of the cream of the crop as mentioned below?
    …. “the people who come to the city [and live in squatter developments] are the cream of the crop with the highest ambitions and aspirations…” – Janice Perlman

    I don’t know, but the best I can say of Janice Perlman is that she is trying to propagandize the need to help the urban poor because her words are insulting, suggesting that the farmers and teachers and yes, the jobless who choose to stay in the provinces are the dregs of society. To me, the better use of the limited money that the Pinas government has is to let the urban poor fend for themselves a lot longer (they are adults who knew what they were getting into — the difficulties of urban life — when they upped and left the provinces) and instead be more aggressive (and put more money) into elementary-school education and children’s health program (in rural as well as urban areas).

    • cvj on June 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

    …the farmers and teachers and yes, the jobless who choose to stay in the provinces are the dregs of society. – UPn Student, June 7th, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Those words are entirely yours, and represent your own snobbish worldview. To attribute such views to others, i.e. Janice Perlman is a form of misrepresentation.

    • UP n student on June 7, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    cvj: My point is that the migrants fleeing-the-rurals are no different from the rest of the population (not the romanticized “cream of the crop”). Issues of economics (e.g. students who want to be in school but can’t; abysmal health-delivery system for the poor; drinking water and basic infrastructure problems) are rural and urban. Unwanted pregnancies — rural and urban. BrianB and KG already mentions similarities — peoples who violate other people’s property rights — but my belief is that majority of migrants fleering the rurals use the extended-family (and not moving into properties left unattended by OCW’s or busy middle-class). And funny that one of the commenters (an urban who fled rural life) said:

    Strange how that point of view never occurred to me. I left the farm, but it was more to avoid the heavy work (and to be where the girls were). I always felt I could do better elsewhere, but never thought that was the reason I left. When I read that statement, I thought, “Whoops. You missed one there, Freddy”.

    Fred

    ————–
    One of these days, a law-and-order-President or benevolent-dictator may just up the notch and imitate Mainland China to use the cedula-system to control people-flow from the provinces into the cities.

    And consider that Pinas is one-man one-vote (so the farming issue gets downplayed one vote less with every rural who flees into metro-Manila).

    ———-
    And it is elitism 👿 , isn’t it, this call to “help the cream of the crop first”? Me thinks the better slogan is “… help them….. they are us!!!”

    • cvj on June 7, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    UPn, emptying the cities by sending people back to the provinces has already been tried by Pol Pot, with well known results. Besides as you mentioned in previous threads, if you had your way, you would have reversed land reform and consolidated farmlands to corporate plantations. So what will these people be returning to?

    Just as many of the OFW’s provide a lifeline to the families they left behind, the urban migrants are likewise depended upon by those who remain in the provinces. It is in this sense that they are the ‘cream of the crop’ and not just the nuisance that many in the Upper and Middle class make them out to be.

    Besides, too much of the Upper and Middle Class’ investments are in real estate. Isn’t it better to channel those investments into productive ventures to encourage entrepreneurship and industrialization?

    Urban Land Reform (just like Agrarian Land Reform) will provide the twin benefits of giving the poor property rights and a place to live while discouraging speculation in real estate, channeling investments instead to more productive activities. Coupled with capital controls (to prevent capital flight), these policies of emancipation will enable the Philippines to meet its capital requirements for home grown industrialization.

    • PSImeon on June 8, 2008 at 2:40 am

    “…channeling investments instead to more productive activities. Coupled with capital controls (to prevent capital flight), these policies of emancipation will enable the Philippines to meet its capital requirements for home grown industrialization.” -cvj

    In a modern capitalist society, the decision by businessmen on where where to commit capital is decided by the projects’ internal rates of return and payback period, not on on the say so of the State.

    If the State forces re-chanelling of capital through eminent domain(?), the capitalist may just decide to be risk-averse and park his money in government securities, which most banks do.

    Now, where does this scenario result to industrialization?

    • grd on June 8, 2008 at 3:10 am

    So what will these people be returning to?

    hmmm, steady jobs and income? who would be tending those corporate plantations, the executives?

    in mindanao, even without land reform, people used to have steady jobs in corporate farms such as dole, del monte, nestle, soriano farms, etc.

    don’t you think UPn’s solution is the better alternative rather than watching those usual stressful scenes in tv where demolitions almost happen so often in metro manila and other big cities? rather than promote your urban land reform, don’t you think it’s best to decongest the big cities by luring people back in the rural areas w/ job opportunities from those corporate farms? with your alternative, you’ll just encourage dole outs from the govt and allow opportunist politicians from continuously taking advantage of those hapless jobless people who are trying to stick it out in the big city in the hope of a better life which is not actually there.

    • leytenian on June 8, 2008 at 7:07 am

    PSImeon,

    “If the State forces re-chanelling of capital through eminent domain(?), the capitalist may just decide to be risk-averse and park his money in government securities, which most banks do.

    Now, where does this scenario result to industrialization?

    you have a good point there. let the landlord or owner do what they have to do. I’m sure ,they have something in mind.

    • UP n student on June 8, 2008 at 7:46 am

    CVJ: Have you noticed how much cash is needed to buy a house or to buy the so-many-square-meters-footprint to open a store? You’re missing a detail about commerce —there is diversity in business, you know. Different folks, different strokes. The real-estate investors provide a service (the square-meter-footprint and roofs) so that the schumeys and other business-owners can rent the footprint and use their cash (and lines or credit) to operate the bakery- or shoe-store or car-repair or optometrist stores that is their service.

    • UP n student on June 8, 2008 at 8:01 am

    cvj: the concept is buy-versus-rent or buy-versus-lease…. classic finance problem. Schumey can tell you more about it.

    —————–
    Plus… there is a mistake in your history-lesson presentation. The peoples that PolPot “gently” asked out of the cities were primarily the middle- and upper-class. PolPot called them “the elite”, too, I think, because they were Chinese or had property or knew more than 7 English or French words.

    As for people-flow control, I can prove to you that not from me but from you came the words “emptying the cities”. Metro-Manila urbans who had fled from Bicol- or Negros-farms have not broken any laws — rule-of-lawsays they get grandfathered in. I did point to Mainland China where people-flow-control (of its own citizens) is implemented. It takes documentation and “other stuff” before a farmer from Sichuan or Shandong province gets allowed to migrate into Beijing or Hongkong. The people-flow control will be similar in principle to you being vetted and submitting paperwork and other “stuff” before you were allowed into Singapore, or Pinas requiring documentation and “stuff” before a Taiwanese-, Bolivian- or Afghani-citizen gets accepted into Pinas.

    • UP n student on June 8, 2008 at 8:58 am

    cvj: the concept is buy-versus-rent or buy-versus-lease…. classic finance problem. Ask Leytenian and/or schumey if you need more info.

    —————–
    Plus… you missed a detail in your PolPot history-lesson presentation. The peoples that PolPot “gently” asked out of the cities were the middle- and upper-class (and any bottom-30% who PolPot called “the elite”. PolPot’s “elite” were the Chinese or those who owned property or knew more than 7 English or French words.)

    As for people-flow control, I can prove to you that not from me but from you came the words “emptying the cities”. Metro-Manila urbans who had fled from Bicol- or Negros-farms have not broken any laws — rule-of-lawsays they get grandfathered in. I did point to Mainland China where people-flow-control (of its own citizens) is implemented. It takes documentation and “other stuff” before a farmer from Sichuan or Shandong province gets allowed to migrate into Beijing or Hongkong. The people-flow control will be similar in principle to you being vetted and submitting paperwork and other “stuff” before you were allowed into Singapore, or Pinas requiring documentation and “stuff” before a Taiwanese-, Bolivian- or Afghani-citizen gets accepted into Pinas.

    • cvj on June 8, 2008 at 10:53 am

    In a modern capitalist society, the decision by businessmen on where where to commit capital is decided by the projects’ internal rates of return and payback period, not on on the say so of the State. – PSImeon

    That may be the case in capitalist societies that have already reached an advanced level of development. However, for those societies that have yet to industrialize, government has a role in deciding where to commit capital, as well as set internal rates of return and payback period. These are part of what Alice Amsden describes as reciprocal control mechanisms.

    http://www.cvjugo.blogspot.com/2007/04/amsdens-reciprocal-control-mechanism.html

    If the State forces re-chanelling of capital through eminent domain(?), the capitalist may just decide to be risk-averse and park his money in government securities, which most banks do. – PSImeon

    Re-channeling of capital was the effect achieved via the land reforms in South Korea and Taiwan. It’s a poor kind of ‘capitalist’ who parks his money in government securities. I’m not even sure he/she deserves to be called that name.

    hmmm, steady jobs and income? who would be tending those corporate plantations, the executives? – grd

    Corporate plantations? Most likely a few people with tractors (and other farm equipment), maybe a bit more temporary labor during harvest time. The executives will busy deciding where they allocate their capital, as well as computing internal rates of return and payback period.

    BTW, is there currently a labor shortage in the provinces?

    don’t you think UPn’s solution is the better alternative rather than watching those usual stressful scenes in tv where demolitions almost happen so often in metro manila and other big cities? – grd

    Put yourself in the shoes of the squatter whose shanty is being demolished and ask that question again.

    Plus… there is a mistake in your history-lesson presentation. The peoples that PolPot “gently” asked out of the cities were primarily the middle- and upper-class. PolPot called them “the elite”, too, I think, because they were Chinese or had property or knew more than 7 English or French words. – UPn Student

    Pol Pot ordered a complete evacuation. The cities in Cambodia did not just consist of people who belonged to the middle and upper class.

    If you want to order a partial evacuation consisting of only the urban poor, then that would make you an elitist version of Pol Pot.

    • UP n student on June 9, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    cvj: Believers in day-zero would implement emptying the cities, but the concept called “ex post facto” should tell our government that citizens who had not broken any laws as they fled Bicol- or Negros-farms or ARMM-territory strife to become metro-Manila (or Cebu-) urban dwellers gets grandfathered in. (Just as there is no law against being wealthy, Pinas has no law against being poor. But there is a law against moving in without permission into Garcia- or Tordesillas-property.)

    cvj: You’ve looked to China for many ideas so check out and critique (pluses and minuses) Mainland China’s experience with people-flow-control of its own citizens to control migration into urban areas. The State requires documentation and “other stuff” before allowing a farmer from Sichuan or Shandong province to migrate into Beijing or Hongkong. Pinas should obviously do better where we can like providing more intense attention to elementary- and secondary-education (in rural as well as urban areas); also public health delivery. The mechanism for people-flow control can be similar in principle to you being vetted and submitting paperwork and other “stuff” before you were allowed into Singapore, a requirement which (I jump to the conclusion that) you agree with.

    • anthony scalia on June 10, 2008 at 9:04 am

    UP n,

    no. the ‘creamiest of the cream’ won’t stay urban poor for long, as they have a shot at becoming lower-middle class at the least. the first thing they would do, if their means permit it, is get out of the squatter area and buy a low-cost housing unit

    • cvj on June 10, 2008 at 11:16 am

    UPn, i respect Singapore’s prerogative to admit or disallow any foreigners. Implementing the same rule among fellow Filipinos is a different matter since that would make them foreigners in their own country. Your recommendation to implement flow-control among fellow Filipinos to preserve the unequal distribution of land besides making you an elitist version of Mao (defeating the purpose of having a ‘Mao’ in the first place), hinders economic growth. As i previously blogged, economists Rodrik and Alesina have established a strong correlation between land inequality and lack of economic growth:

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

    The above means that if we want our economic growth to accelerate, we should focus on land redistribution to make land ownership less unequal which is consistent with Habito’s recommendations for Asset Reform.

    I have no disagreement with your proposals on primary education and public health btw.

    • UP n student on June 10, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    cvj: You may disagree, but a lot of people (including elected- and unelected-govt leaders as well as economist book writers) see wisdom in motivating people to live in the rural areas. The differences lie in the implementation methods. So Hugo Chavez inspires the urban jobless landless to leave the cities, first by the soldiers confiscating supposedly-idle farm property, then giving said land to Chavez followers. Chavez pursues the matter as an authoritarian populist while Mainland China is much more disciplinarian, but they have a common theme.

    Urban living is not exactly great for one’s health — think metro-Manila air pollution and crime-statistics. The better is for government programs made more available in the rural areas and for economic activity to follow.

    Rurals-to-urban migration and population-growth have similarities where the numbers are so high as to overwhelm the current capabilities. The right incentive programs (and laws if needed) can moderate the flow… for the greater good of all the citizens of Pinas (even if they don’t pay taxes).

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