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Jun 16

A heinous situation

Dan Mariano writes on Bullying the business community. Even Philippine Commentary had to take exception to Rightist Poster Boy Enrile on this one. Previously, Tony Abaya said Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s posturing in the Senate was due to his having an axe to grind with foreign businessmen over their complaints concerning smuggling in Port Irene.

The businessmen incurred the Enrile-Santiago tandem’s ire, because they dared remind the President of her previous policy of coddling them. But foreign businessmen are here only to profit, they don’t really decide the fates of regimes, because whoever is in power they will do business with. The problem, now, for the President, is that her past trump card -The Economy- is proving increasingly a weak one, because of the global situation. The President, for her part, knows as well as any Roman imperial official did in their time, that at all costs, the plebes must be provided bread and circuses. Or else.

The Business Mirror has two parallel reports: locally, Dispute over subsidies widens and regionally, Subsidies worsen food crisis .That this is a question the entire region’s wrestling with is explored Anwar’s False Promise on Fuel Prices . This report, Korea in Crisis, also provides a sobering tale (will it drive more South Koreans to come to the Philippines?).

Two views on these subsidies and policies, one from an official, the other from a citizen.

From Congressman Ruffy Biazon, on the one-time cash gift of the President to electricity consumers:Anyone who has ever spent time in the grassroots will tell you what will happen when you give dole outs in the field, especially if it involves money. Imagine dropping a piece of candy in the middle of an anthill.

From the outset, the government’s distribution plan was obviously a logistical nightmare. While indeed, government will eventually be able to had over the subsidy to the people, the cost of doing so will only highlight the inefficiency of their system and the incompetence of those who thought of it.

In order for the distribution plan to be implemented, government would have to mobilize manpower to do the distribution, secure the distributors and the money, maintain order in the distribution centers, and other measures needed to undertake such an activity. All these translate to expenditures just to carry out the plan.

Never mind if there was no other way to go about it. But as it turns out, there is another way. Common sense will tell you that the easiest way would be to turn over the subsidy to Meralco and have them deduct the amount from the next bill of the consumers. Simple as that. In the age of computerized banking and finance, it will only take minimum effort and a lot of savings to the government instead of what they are doing now.

But it turns out that the government officials handling this are not entirely ignorant to such an idea. In the provinces, where the other 2 million of the 4 million target beneficiaries are located, the government intends to implement the subsidy through the electric cooperatives, so that the subsidies will just be credited to the accounts of the consumers. No distribution centers, no lining up…

…I’m dumbfounded. While they are considering this scheme for the distribution of the subsidies in the provinces, where they will have to deal with dozens of electric cooperatives and private distribution units which service the estimated 2 million electricity consumers in the provinces, they did not think about doing the same with Meralco, the lone distributor of electricity to the estimated 2 million consumers in Metro Manila.

From , a citizen, b[email protected] on joining his mother to buy NFA rice:

When I lined up at the end of the queue, there were about 30 people before me. My mom was two persons before me, and she asked me to move behind her. But there were two persons between me and my mother, so I refused. The two women then told me to go ahead, since they were standing in for others anyway. Fine with me.

After 10 minutes, we saw several people load a tricycle, five persons each carrying five kilos of rice. Another 10 minutes, the same thing happened. My mom was surprised that “mga dayo” (those who came from much farther place) got ahead of us, who lives just across the street from where NFA rice was being sold.

We were lucky enough for the seller to sell maximum of five kilos per person; last Monday, it the limit was only two kilos.

Then we noticed that people ahead of us who got their rice were carrying their load using the same green plastic bag. We were told that the seller required every buyer to get their plastic bags from them for one peso per bag – no exemptions, even if you have a plastic bag with you. Not only it meant more non-biodegrable material to bring home, it also meant that the seller is making a profit out of those bags.

And a kilo of NFA rice costs twenty five pesos; the eighteen-peso is not available. Mom has been buying NFA rice for several weeks now, and she hasn’t bought the cheapest variety ever since.

The Mount Balatucan Monitor puts it very well:

With limited expense on power and fuel, expect government service to deteriorate. How can a government agency effectively deliver the best public service if its official expense is curtailed? Should the public endure sweatshop conditions in government offices because airconditioners are not functioning. Or field work will be hampered because government personnel cannot use their vehicle to serve far flung areas. To reflect it deeper, more money in millions are lost to corruption and other official shenanigans in the government than its actual official expense. They cut public expense but this government does not monitor or check the public money that were lost due to chronic corruption.

As economist Filomeno Sta. Ana III puts it in Populism and being Anti-Business:

The current populist rhetoric and actions are similar to those taken by Mrs. Arroyo before the 2004 elections. Recall that she reduced the Napocor tariffs and set about a spending binge for her to look handsome and secure partisan support before the elections. Which leads some to ask: Is Mrs. Arroyo setting her sights on the 2010 elections?

One adverse consequence of unsound populist measures is the aggravation of the fiscal situation. Thus, after the 2004 elections, the Philippines suffered a fiscal crisis. Government had to cut spending on health, education and infrastructure and impose higher taxes such as increasing the rate of the value-added tax from 10 percent to 12 percent.

The fiscal problem continues to haunt us. Tax effort remains low, and some taxes – those on sin products – are not adjusted to inflation. The brand of populism that Mrs. Arroyo promotes is exacerbating the problem.

Recall what I’d reported here years ago, in The President’s “sweet spot,” in 2005, which is what a Bear Sterns analyst said of the VAT: it was the source for patronage. The long and short of it, Sta. Ana argues, is that,

Arroyo’s populism is thus a disguise for her being anti-business. That this has gone berserk is likewise manifested in how her allies – the three stooges in the Senate, as my colleague Manuel Buencamino calls them – have insulted and bullied the foreign chambers of commerce.

Yes, she has her set of business cronies, but that doesn’t make her pro-business. To be pro-business is to apply the rules fairly to all businessmen, regardless of their political sentiments.

Worse, unlike Hugo Chavez who is seen as anti-business but pro-poor, Mrs. Arroyo is both anti-business and anti-poor.

Unemployment, poverty and inequality have become the trademark of her economic performance despite the growth. Even the subsidies that she is ostensibly offering to the poor are anti-poor. The subsidies do not reach those who deserve most the subsidy. Rice for the poor is scarce in Mindanao where there is a large concentration of poor, while it is abundant in Metro Manila, which has the least number of absolute poor. A power subsidy for small electricity users totaling two billion pesos will not benefit the poor either because in the first place the absolute poor have no access to electricity.

But why should we care for a leadership that is pro-business? Because being pro-business, if properly done, encourages investments and employment and is therefore good for the workers, for the unemployed, and for the poor.

While I’m often ambivalent about him, the grey eminence of the Ramos era, Jose Almonte, recently issued one of his epistles on the need to keep up the momentum for reform (as reproduced in Danton Remoto’s blog):

“Islands of Good Governance” should also seek constantly to spread their influence to neighboring provinces, cities, towns – most easily through economic complementation, economic clustering and administrative example.

So in contrast to the go-for-broke (literally) governance of the present regime, here’s splendid news: 2 governors, mayor share best practices in governance. A reform constituency coming together. According to the report, the three agree on:

[E]nsuring greater transparency and accountability in government dealings, curbing the pervasive illegal numbers game “jueteng” and illegal logging, and fighting for more local autonomy in the maintenance of law and order.

And with less than two years to go before the 2010 national elections, the three officials are now pushing for computerized elections and voters’ education.

Of their reform agenda, the third, is particularly interesting in the light of recent events. The bloated Philippine National Police bureaucracy has proven itself increasingly incapable of clamping down on crime (or extracting accountability from its own people: see Promotion of Lozada ‘kidnapper’ scored).

And crimes are getting increasingly vicious.

I first spotted the news last Tuesday afternoon on TV. Here’s the Inquirer report: Grisly end for 5 QC household members.

NGO circles received (and passed on) an email from the Association of Foundations (AF) asking for prayers for Oman Jiao and his family, and tersely detailing the murders:

At around noontime today, June 10, the house of Oman’s parents in Talayan Village, Quezon City, was robbed. Police suspect it to be the Akyat-Bahay Gang. Oman’s parents, three househelps, and Oman’s daughter, 3-year old Nina (who passed by her grandparent’s house after attending the first day of prep-school), were hogtied, and the house was torched down. Only Oman’s father survived the ordeal and is currently being treated in a hospital.

The gruesome news registered briefly (and hit “too close to home,” for some like village idiot savant), but didn’t gain the traction of say, the RCBC bank heist. Not least because the abduction of Ces Drilon swept all other news aside. The frustration of some local officials is that if they had more control over the local police, they could fight crime more effectively. A national police force is, after all, a recent innovation, dating back only to the martial law years; and as one frustrated citizen recently put it to me, “aside from ideologically-motivated crimes, if you look at all other crimes, sooner or later it brings you to the doorstep of the PNP.” Perhaps we ought to consider that the PNP (successor of the Constabulary) should once more be relegated to crimes that cross provincial boundaries, having SWAT teams, etc.

Although, as my column for today, The Rule of Glo (which took its cue from these articles: What was he thinking?!? in Uniffors, and Planting evidence remark only a joke – PDEA chief )points out, there are other problems, too.

Vergel Santos, veteran newsman and something of a walking conscience for the profession, writes up his objections to the media embargo on the story. Taking a cue from the Duke of Wellington’s famous reply to a blackmailer, Santos titles his piece Publish and be damned:

They may have all been convinced in their hearts that they were doing the right thing, but still they should be able to square it with the basic principle that governs their profession, the very reason indeed for which it exists – the people’s right to know. And if they insist on this case as a moral exception, they will be expected to judge by the same standard every comparable case that comes along.

But what exactly is that standard? So far as I can discern, it’s a variable and ineffable one, set by what feels right in one’s heart at the moment. Journalists are indeed given wide latitudes, but they still have to validate their judgments and actions against certain express rules and principles.

Obviously, a rule covering the entire profession doesn’t exist. As I see it, the problem is that when it comes to kidnappings, embargoes have been put in place more often than the public thinks, and even more often than the media (itself subject to the great shortcoming that afflicts most Philippine institutions, of having a feeble, at best, institutional memory) is aware. The best any individual outfit can do, is point out, off-the-record, that they have obliged victims’ families in this regard in the past; but neither the public or media as a collective knows this or can quantify how often, and so determine if Drilon enjoyed special treatment or not.

Here is a question that has been bothering me for some days now, ever since Driver claims military agent, not Abus seized Drilon team. And ever since Village Idiot Savant bought up The unthinkable.

If things start edging towards convincing proof that what actually took place was the abduction of Drilon by pet bandits of the AFP, then the horrifying conclusion of the whole thing will be her liquidation -as collateral damage in a botched rescue attempt by the military or the PNP. I hope my nervousness over At Midfield’s Howitzer Blasts, Tuesday “Deadline” Raise Tensions In Sulu Abduction Area are unfounded.

In the meantime, noteworthy entries on the abduction can be found in Tingog.com, and The Write Stuff and in Pedestrian Observer. Also, see earlier commentary in khanterbury tales, in AlterNation101, from Manilenyo In Davao and in notes of marichu c. lambino and Tongue In, Anew. In his blog, RG Cruz pens an eloquent, personal, tribute to her. Another one, by Muslim journalist Samira Gutoc, provides an insight into why Drilon was so often in Mindanao:

Throughout her career, I grew to respect her for her sense of commitment in good reportage. But this respect was heightened with how I saw her commitment in the coverage of under-reported stories as the peacetalks and ARMM development . Ces had covered the ARMM elections and the two peace talks spanning three decades – the government (GRP)-MNLF in the 1980s and the current GRP-MILF peace talks .

Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial, Lame-duck Congress, took the current, 14th Congress to task, and today’s Inquirer editorial, Unparliamentary?, focused on a fight within the Left in the House. What is interesting is the insight the intra-Left squabble provides, on the kind of tactical approach that would support landlord-driven opposition to the current agrarian reform program, in order to (consistently, mind you) push forward a party’s alternative proposal for collectivizing lands. As Mon Casiple suggests,

Of course, as in any contentious legislation of a divided body as the Philippine Congress, there will be compromises. However, on balance, if a measure will improve the present situation, then there is a basis for supporting such a measure.

It is in this light that the position taken by those who advocate the so-called “Genuine Agrarian Reform Program” or GARP effectively weakens the interests of the Filipino peasantry. By advocating an extremely radical proposal of giving the peasants “free land”, they seemingly represent their highest interests. However, they well know that this will not get anywhere near a majority support in a landlord-influenced Congress.

What are they then after? The only political logic is a posturing for a “revolutionary” solution to the agrarian reform issue–which is represented by the CPP agrarian revolution proposal. The problem, of course, is that the battleground here is the parliamentary arena, specifically the Philippine Congress, not the “democratic coalition government” or even the “National Democratic Front” led by the CPP. By this position, the GARP advocates try to persuade people of the necessity for their “revolutionary” solution–only attainable, by their own admission, through a protracted “people’s war.”

There is an effective collusion between the landlords and GARP advocates in blocking the extension of CARP, although they come from different motivations. The former wants to hold on to the land; the latter wants to sharpen class contradictions. The former wants to maintain an archaic, feudal and regressive social system which has consigned millions of our peasants to poverty; the latter wants to foist an unrealistic, if seductive, vision in service of a failed strategy.

Tangentially related to the above is a thought-provoking reading from F. Sionil Jose in Rizal, Ninoy and revolution:

Ninoy believed in revolution; he expounded on it before a small group he knew very well but we didn’t know to what extent he had worked to advance it. I saw glimpses of it only after he died. During all those years that he was in prison, he continued reading - but his reading now included books on philosophy and religion. And when he was released on furlough, on my second visit to the Aquino house in Times Street in Quezon City, he took me to one of the rooms where we could be alone. The house was crawling with soldiers in civilian clothes, among them the late Willie Jurado who, Ninoy said, was Marcos’ personal agent.

He assured that the room was not bugged and he said that he still believed in revolution but that we couldn’t afford a million Filipinos killed as was the case with Vietnam.

There must be a way, he said, by which violence could be minimized. A million Filipinos – that is too much. Perhaps just a few hundred will do.

I told him that once violence was unleashed there was no way it could be controlled - I was repeating the old argument that Pepe Diokno used.

Therein lies the problem with regards to social and political change: radical solutions require radical methods, and every instance of radical methods in pursuit of radical change requires unleashing more misery than previously existed under the existing, but unjust, social order.

127 comments

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  1. KG

    Re:subsidies

    I read this 2005 article of Tony Abaya.
    I saw a link on Jose on the previous thread. The article was basically about him.Below is a commentary by abaya on subsidies.

    http://www.geocities.com/dapat_tapatt/whyarewepoor.html

    “Instead, President Arroyo goes for gimmicks like giving away P6 billion worth of free food every month to the 20 poorest families in every barangay nationwide, and selling railroad right-of-way to the squatters who occupy it. These gimmicks make as much economic sense as over-printing money and scattering it from airplanes. “

  2. Jeg

    One of the basic ‘rules’ in economics: When you subsidize something, you get more of it. GMA wants to subsidize the poor.

  3. KG

    correction 2oo4 pala article ni abaya.

    on bullying businessmen, I have bitched about it in the previous thread, my stand stays enrile is losing it.True, buisnessmen do business with the sitting president of the moment. enrile will be forgotten in a few years but if another enrile will remain (siguro si Miriam na yon) mas matagal pa sa nakaupong presidente ang bullying and count the next president’s term along that .

  4. cvj

    My guess is that a bloody revolution (whose outcome is uncertain) will set us back a generation (30 years) or half a generation (16 years). However, i think putting our hopes on being able to muddle through is pushing our luck.

  5. ricelander

    Shortly after EDSA 1, the former Army lieutenant Victor Corpus, who joined the NPA, visited me. I asked him if it was true that Ninoy really supported the New People’s Army; yes, he said.

    It was Ninoy, after all, who introduced Commander Dante Buscayno to Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the Chinese wing of the Communist Party, and Hacienda Luisita is known to have been the sanctuary for Commander Dante.

    — F. Sionil Jose

    Is this true?

    Ninoy was court martialed. Was this the reason?

  6. ricelander

    Sabi, gawa-gawa lang ni Makoy.

  7. Ding Gagelonia

    Heinous, I think is the proper adjective. But the typo may perhap be an unintended corruption, given that the palliative actions the citizens are seeing from the government of the day have their roots in distortion, and corruption of institutional processes where if public resources were properly prioritized, and disbursed, there would really be a tricle down effect from the “windfall” revenues from VAT.

    But as one prominent, and revered elderly businessman has been telling his friends, the reason why many government initiatives don’t ‘wash’ well with with the public is “the lack of vision and ad hoc type governance that emanates from the Palace by the river.”

    This is starkly apparent in the dole out subsidies which will run out and cannot really be sustained and will, in the end, simply drive up the budget deficit. “Para lamang sa panandaliang aliw at pampapogi.”

  8. Ding Gagelonia

    Meant to write “perhaps be an unintended corruption….”

    Sorry for my own typo. 🙂

  9. PSImeon

    “Therein lies the problem with regards to social and political change: radical solutions require radical methods…” – mlq3

    The not-radical enough EDSA revolutions did not provide adequate solutions to put closure to the inequlaities of the 1960-70s. And to become a situation, globalization forces of the 1980-90s further marginalized the bottom third of the population.

  10. jmd

    How can Pres. Arroyo explain to COA her giving away P500 each to millions of Electricity consumers? Obviously this was not in her 2007-2008 budget?

    Our system, limiting the Presidency for one term makes that President “lame duck” the day he/she assumes the office. No wonder the Senators (who can be re-elected) give her no respect. She has to attract them with CASH to get their support.

    Where does she get these undocumented resources? From undocumented deals, of course.

    Many did share Ninoy’s observation on a violent revolution. The thinking then was that we obtained our freedom too cheap. That is why most Filipinos don’t value freedom. Maybe if that freedom cost us brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers…. then we will defend our rights to the fullest.

  11. jhay

    In agreement to jmd, I think it was Mao who once said, “You cannot do a revolution wearing white gloves.”

  12. The Ca t

    How can Pres. Arroyo explain to COA her giving away P500 each to millions of Electricity consumers?

    Must have come from her discretionary funds.

  13. DJB Rizalist

    I don’t know about heinous, but it was disgusting for the Budget secretary to declare on Tina Monson Palma’s show that “It is not the job of government to save money!”

    Perhaps this is the beginning of the Great Debate that is a constant in American politics between the Tax and Spend Liberals and the Fiscal Conservatives, between those who want Big Powerful Government versus the Jeffersonians.

    Now perhaps bedrock principles — as the Joint Foreign Chambers translated some perhaps better phrase from the French, courtesy of Mssr. d’Aboville– will become the substance of our debates, instead of the usual personality-driven identifications.

    I wish to remind those who’ve interpreted my support of JPE’s positions on other issues (mainly national security) to be a sign of slavish dedication to my gaoler in 1972.

    I find a new hero in Mssr. d’Aboville himself, who reminded JPE that indeed he could not out-think the Filipino (being married himself to a Filipina). But he proves you can out-twit even that old Manong.

    I think the issue of subsidies needs to be expanded to include a serious consideration of what we truly believe government’s role in society ought to be, because, where will this end, if we don’t end it right here and now, where the bud is ripening into the evil fruit of Big Fat and Fatuous “liberal” government?

  14. cvj

    DJB, sound advice given that we don’t want to follow in the footsteps of George W. Bush who inherited a budget surplus (courtesy of the previous ‘liberal’ Clinton administration) and turned it into 1 Trillion dollar worth of debt to the Chinese government.

  15. BrianB

    Grammatical note: Should be “An Heinous (anus) Situation”

  16. BrianB

    “unleashing more misery than previously existed under the existing, but unjust, social order.”

    Jesus Christ, Manolo, what about the American Civil war. Should they just wait till the slave owners got tired of owning slaves?

  17. BrianB

    You’re forgetting that oppressors are free to change the oppressive social structure, i.e. they are responsible. If we go by this let’s tolerate the spoiled brat mindset (because not tolerating them means hurting them), then we might as well admit it. The Philippines is not a country but a big family. the rich are the sons and daughters, the middle class the maids, drivers and the sikyus and the poor are the flies whizzing around the banquet table.

  18. cvj

    “unleashing more misery than previously existed under the existing, but unjust, social order.” – mlq3

    A lot of that misery was courtesy of the French and the Americans. Vietnam, was after all, was a peasant nation fighting two Imperial powers and succeeded in defeating both.

    Despite the hardships, the assertion that there was ‘more misery than previously existed’ is arguable as the North Vietnamese were grateful to their revolutionary leaders because their life improved after independence and land reform.

    “Despite their grievances about collectivization, a large proportion of villagers still had considerable goodwill toward the Communist Party government personified especially by Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap, and some other admired leaders. Political and economic conditions were still much better than most adults had known before that government had come to power.” – Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet, The Power of Everyday Politics: How Vietnamese Peasants Transformed National Policy

    But maybe Manolo is referring to South Vietnam after the fall of Saigon.

  19. mlq3

    brian, they were going to -it was the slaveowners who seceded, remember? lincoln didn’t contemplate decreeing emancipation until much later during the civil war.

  20. mlq3

    cjv, all i know is, after meeting with and talking to the vietnamese refugees in vietville in palawan, i’ve not been inclined to support violence.

  21. DJB Rizalist

    cvj,
    I’m not John McCain. Don’t pin GWB on me! But give Dubya some credit for saying in their joint press conference with Gordon Brown, that it took the US a long time to get it right about slavery.

    I supported GWB on national security policy, the GWOT, and still do. But like Andrew Sullivan, I think his grasp of economics, even conservative economics is pretty weak and ineffective. The Soul of Conservatism must be recovered in America. Maybe that nice young Black Man will yet turn out to be just such a New Conservative (y’all will surely figger out a new way to say Neocon).

    The life of a nation is longer than that of human beings. As such, we too must cultivate the virtue of corrigibility which is only possible under a democracy. It’s America’s greatest strength, and the lack of it our worst weakness.

    Bedrock principles! Not personality politics.

  22. cvj

    mlq3, neither would i. especially for a reason as flimsy as ‘to make us value our freedoms more’. We have history books for that.

  23. mlq3

    dign, many thanks for spotting the typo.

  24. mlq3

    djb, i’m all for a big gov’t a la the new deal. what i think deserves reexamination is how we have many of the worst aspects of socialism at present without any of the benefits.

  25. cvj

    DJB, it’s disingeneous for you to pin Big Fat and Fatuous government? on ‘liberals’ when it is your own Neocon president who is responsible for the United States’ Trillion dollar debt.

  26. BrianB

    “brian, they were going to -it was the slaveowners who seceded, remember? lincoln didn’t contemplate decreeing emancipation until much later during the civil war.”

    I think they seceded because the Federal government was after them economically. “By 1860 sectional disagreements between North and South revolved primarily around the maintenance or expansion of slavery.” From wikipedia. I’m not sure I understand what you’re arguing here but the Confederacy seceded more or less for the same reason Negros threatened to revolt with the implementation of agrarian reform.

    read the language: “From at least the time of the American Revolution white southerners defined their liberty, in part, as the right to own slaves and to decide the fate of the institution without any outside interference.”[8]

    It’s very similar to the hacienderos’ belief of their right to be what they are, in spite of the misery they are causing.

  27. BrianB

    Manolo, if we were to copy one thing from America, it should be Roosevelt’s “New Deal” speech.

  28. BrianB

    For the life of me, I can’t find that speech online.

  29. BrianB

    I think it’s the Social Security act, he spoke it on radio as the State of the Nation.

  30. BrianB

    Here:
    http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/etext04/sufdr11.htm

    Sorry, it’s State of the Union in 1945.

  31. BrianB

    particularly this:

    Among these are:

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or
    farms or mines of the Nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and
    recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which
    will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere
    of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or
    abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy
    good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age,
    sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

    All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be
    prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new
    goals of human happiness and well-being.

  32. mlq3

    brian, the dilemma to me seems this. if you want to solve the problems of social inequality caused by the hacenderos by disposessing and possibly even exterminating them, the odds are still with them at present, because for every disgruntled peasant there would be another willing to join the army or be a security guard to protect the landlords. if the effort worked, the end result would be a new class of socialist nomenklatura who’d leave the peasants where they were previously.

    but then you can’t wait or pray for the landlords to inbreed themselves to extinction or discover they can be succesful entrepreneurs because they have capital anyway, or recognize that their survival ultimately depends on giving half or losing all or any permutation of these. ruling classes are nasty and brutish everywhere and practically all the time. you can hope some of them will turn traitor to their class and, together with the reform-inclined, maneuver it so that first of all, economic power is reduced, and then with it, political power: the bargain is, retain some privilege and wealth, but bow out of power in the end. as i’ve pointed out, the british managed this well, taxing all but the most colossal fortunes out of existence: the wealthy could remain wealthy by seeking economic refuge abroad, but doing so meant they couldn’t stay home and keep sending their sons to parliament. so the aristocracy stopped manning the ranks of government. the redistribution of wealth took place through state socialism which led to the rise of a more merit-based society so that today’s britain is far less class conscious than it was even a generation ago.

    of course the problem is, it’s the threat of an upheaval, the fear of communism after world war i and again after world war 2, that provided the incentive for these reforms.

  33. mlq3

    p.s. the antecedent of that is almost always part of the presentation i make to students, bryan. the four freedoms as the basic rights that should orient citizens in what to expect from their governments and demand. kids seem to like the norman rockwell posters, too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_freedomshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_freedoms

  34. BrianB

    Manolo, if our ruling class is powerful, they are only powerful here and in some ASEAN countries. Elsewhere… well, heck, I could run up to them on the sidewalk and give them a good head rub and all I’ll get in return is a day in jail.

    The hearts and minds of the international community (the only community these people are afraid of) are within our grasp. All we need is to appeal to them. Add to that is the OFWs. Sumusurrender kna eh hindi pa nasimulan ang labanan.

  35. BrianB

    my quote is more specific and less likely to be lossely interpreted.

  36. cvj

    Manolo, what do you think are the chances that the landlords will allow themselves to be progressively taxed a-la British aristocracy? I think it’s lower than the odds of one of their descendants threatening anyone who proposes that measure to serve their head on a plastic plate.

    As you said, the key to the Oligarch’s protection is the Army who are willing to be their Security Guards. So in a reversal of how it was during the Cold War, the Oligarch’s best weapon is the fear of Communism, which distracts the Filipino soldier from focusing on the real enemy.

  37. BrianB

    Yey, CVJ. We talked about this months ago. The communist leaders, i believe, were paid scapegoats of the hacendados (my worst conspiracy theory to date).

  38. cvj

    Brian, i won’t go so far to say that they are paid but there seems to be a convergence of interests. In one of her columns last year, Solita Monsod described the collusion between the NPA and the landlords in depriving some farmer-beneficiaries of land. Then just recently you have the opposition to CARP extension by both the landlords and Bayan Muna in Congress albeit for different reasons. I’m speculating here, but it could be that the Left is taking a page out of El Fili.

  39. BrianB

    Ideologists never learn once their brains latched on an ideology. It’s a chess game to them. All ego.

  40. mlq3

    cjv, the rise of the liberal and labor parties put the conservative party on the defensive in the uk (churchill was an interesting example of a party switcher, leaving the tories to join the liberals and then rejoining the tories; yet they were swept out of power after victory in europe was achieved because the soldiers wanted reforms and voted in labor).

    the chances are nil that the upper class -as a class- will legislate its own political extinction. but the chances are equally slim that you will topple them from power by means of armed revolution. the growth of the ofw-deriv

    ed new middle class may be our closest chance to creating a constituency that will challenge the traditional politicians and tip the balance. possibly, but not immediately, because if on one hand, the new emerging middle class is free of the conventional thinking that naturally allied the middle with the upper classes, they aren’t free of the kind of social conventions that are more deeply entrenched and not passed on through club, church, and school. the balato mentality, which is embryo socialism, no? is one example. what may push things forward are the remnants of the old middle and reformist upper classes who internalized enough of the old culture they imbibed, to actually take its principles to heart: this is what you saw in pampanga. then you have the rebellion against the provincial freebooters that you saw with grace padaca. and the more open, modern-minded grassroots democracy we see in naga. but for every case of that you see the datu type of leaders in makati, in davao, in las pinas, etc.

    estrada in 1998 was the repudiation of the old society returned to power after the new society was kicked out; but when the old society turned against its middle class allies (dispossesing them of land, for example, while the old society preserved its haciendas) they left the country; the remainder went in for a last hurrah in 2001against estrada who flouted convention, only to discover they’d created a black swan moment the old society and its military allies were able to utilize faster and to different ends.

    the old society clung to arroyo and the middle has just continued decamping. that the old society’s even more deeply entrenched now should be no surprise, but what is surprising is the way randy david’s crisis of modernity is showing signs of bringing people divided over arroyo together, in search of a showdown maybe not in 2010, but in 2013 and 2016: to be modern, once and for all…

  41. DJB Rizalist

    mlq3,
    you seem to be discussing a society that is a million miles away from the planet earth, searching for explanations in terms of an old arrangement long ago vanished. You’re still trying to build a nation-state based on the ideals of the old Commonwealth, when in fact much more powerful global forces and processes are far more important than the internal dynamics. I think that sometime in just the last decade or so, world history went through what the physicists call a “phase transition”–like when ice turns liquid or liquid water boils–it is sudden, unannounced, unbeknownst and too quick for our normally plodding analytical minds comprehend. Suddenly the old equations are inadequate to describe the new phenomena, which are dynamic and revolutionary. National categories are swiftly becoming anachronistic, much like tribal and provincial ones quickly became less decisive when nations formed. That the Philippines failed to become a strong nation is something we must accept not with a resolution to try and create such a nation, which I think is now impossible. At the beginning of this century, we must look to participation in the wider world, much as the Igorots were challenged to become a part of the larger nation at the beginning of the last.

    We are now the Igorots apprehending the emerging new Global Commonwealth Republic. We no longer have the luxury that MLQ had to conceive and plan and build a nation of his own. Events have overtaken that old enterprise. Even America must “change” in this regard.

    WE are now the Igorots, dancing barefoot and banging on the gongs at the foot of Mines View, insisting on our old privileges and traditions. Luckily many of our progeny are already in “New Manila” and are imbibing the details of the new arrangement.

    The Philippine ruling class is a failed ruling class. It’s moment has passed and progress belongs to others.

    The new technologies belong to others and unless we adopt them our sphere of influence will only continue to shrink.

    We must win a place at the global table, not bang our fists for a table all our own.

    After a while, even the Igorots realized that.

  42. d0d0ng

    DJB on, “WE are now the Igorots, dancing barefoot and banging on the gongs…”

    And faster in producing more mouths than we can afford to feed. We had the same population with Thailand in 70s and today we have 25 million more Filipinos than Thais. We have an upside down economics that looks like we are being sold by our own economic doctorate president to the international traders to earn the spot as the Worlds top importer of rice. Certainly, idiot while we have the premier rice research institute right in our backyard when compared to Thailand which is now exporting rice to the Philippines.

    Philippines is all hype to be recognized as todays global player. It does not make sense at all. It should follow the humble footstep of Thailand to take care of its agriculture so it can feed its population. Maybe it is not the character of this country at all since it is only concerned with POGI image.

  43. KG

    o:fftopic

    Guys corrrect me if I am wrong; was Rudy Fernandez given a 21 gun salute?

    Why, because he was the”president” of the actors guild?

    21 gun salutes are only for presidents.

    manolo you are the history authority here,please give an opinion.

    i could ask my dad, but he was fired by the manila times when he wrote something about the president saluting.

  44. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    dodong,
    And before anyone again lays blame on the population on the Catholic Church, the latest NSO figures show ARMM, home to six of the ten poorest provinces in the country, leading the popluation growth, some provinces, by as much as 5 plus percent. More than double the national average of just over 2 percent. Not the Catholics’ fault, is it?

  45. d0d0ng

    This POGI image is hilarious. Our president went to different countries to encourage foreign investment. And then the senators give them the tongue lashing of who is running this country.

    High in POGI points but there will be price to pay later on.

  46. d0d0ng

    tongue on, “latest NSO figures show ARMM, home to six of the ten poorest provinces in the country, leading the popluation growth, some provinces, by as much as 5 plus percent. More than double the national average of just over 2 percent. Not the Catholics’ fault, is it?”

    The muslim have tried to overturn what Marcos did in flooding the region with Christians. And they have shown partial success that you bring that up.

    Overall, it does not change the clear picture that zero population control is because the immense power of Catholic bishops. Just think why USAID abandon its condom help for the government.

  47. d0d0ng

    KG on, “Guys corrrect me if I am wrong; was Rudy Fernandez given a 21 gun salute?”

    Yes, that is correct. He is accorded with traditional hero burial. Once again, high in POGI points. This country is ran by actors and actresses. This is the land of entertainers. You entertain the poor to forget their hungry stomach. Wowowee is a kind of redemption for the poor.

  48. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    On “bedrock principles” as it applied to the power industry, I can sympathize from where Hubert D’Aboville is coming. EPIRA is a reform legislation that aims to lay the groundwork to stimulate competition for the future deregulation of the power industry.

    With government dragging its foot and bungling the auctions (and even awarding Napocor assets to favored “friends”), the change in the rules in the middle of the game is the last thing businessmen want. PSALM has so far failed in the privatization of the generating assets so no competition has yet been in play. What has been sold though are the more attractive non-fossil fuel based plants, hydro and geothermal. But save for one or two mini hydros plus Masinloc and Pagbilao, those plants sold have been divided only among the two biggest distributors – the Lopezes and the Aboitizes.

    I’m sure many doubt Enrile’s motives, preventing distibutors from being producers, to be noble including me, since that also limits incoming investors who will have to buy the remaining coal or bunker fed plants without necessairily having an established market unlike the Lopezes and the Aboitizes.

    An EPIRA amendment envisioned by Enrile and his gang will only preserve the undue advantage that the two groups already enjoy to the detriment of new players who will thus be prohibited from acquiring ownerships in publicly-listed Meralco, Veco-Davao Light, Subic Eco, among others.

    BTW, Hubert D’Aboville is an power industry expert whose main business Paris-Manila Technology is my long-time competitor. Enrile’s insistence to limit his questions on personalities blew our chance of getting vital inputs from Hubert, who is probably more Filipino than even Enrile is.

  49. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    dodong,
    Enrile could also be after POGI points only. His 6-year term, which he got from duping the voters on specificaly the electricity issues which he didn’t pursue until recently, ends in 2010.

  50. KG

    On pogi points:
    saw that gwb interview where he called populism short term and his decisions for the long term. Removing all the clouds that I have against GWB, I can say that he is correct.
    He is correct that the damage he has done is very long term.

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