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Dec 09

The right fight at the wrong time?

Of the accounts and commentaries on the Pacquiao-de la Hoya fight, I enjoyed those of The Warrior Lawyer -first on the boxing of the thing (see the links in The Age of Brillig, too), then the economics of the sport and the match- and the broadside against the actual broadcasting of the match, by Bong Austero, the most. Former Socialist rebel and priest Edicio de la Torre (hat-tip, GlobalVoices) ties in the match with the death of a young actor that marred what was otherwise a morning of national rejoicing (see also A Filipina Mom Blogger).

No one has pointed out what a remarkable image, and what a remarkable campaign, this was:

Snapshot 2008-12-07 13-55-12

Here in one image, all the the things that people think matters to people (including themselves):

1. Faith and Hope

2. Perseverance of the Underdog

3. The will to win of the Champion

4. Community & Solidarity

5. Material Success & its Manifestations

The website featuring this image, takes it even further. People were given the option of adding their personal “prayers, wishes or dedications” for Pacquiao. In one fell swoop, popular instincts were marshaled and put on display:

1. The Community Spirit

2. Patriotic Feeling (versus Nationalist Chauvinism)

3. Racial Vindication

4. Individual Empowerment

5. Religion’s Role in Everyday Life

In contrast to all the positive things above, take a look at this remarkable video:

All the negatives, in contrast, are on display:

1. Class Resentment

2. Mistrust of Officialdom and the Institutions they Dominate

3. The Language and thus, Educational Divide

4. Citizens’ Feelings of Powerlessness

5. The Absence of a Genuine and Legitimate Rule of Law

Both campaigns, mind you, are highly effective, and are brilliant messaging efforts. But to my mind, the power of the first -based on aspirations– trumps the power of the second, based on reality on the ground.

A proposed solution will always be stronger than a non-solution; by this I mean that a proposal for change will have greater drawing power than a stubborn insistence on the status quo.

Since 2005, let’s not forget that the House of Representatives has had a working draft of the Constitution, as it wants to see that Constitution after amendments are accomplished:

Matrix House Proposed Charter Amendments

Nothing suggests that these fundamental objectives have changed. Much has been made of the absence of any concrete document detailing the changes, particularly to the economic provisions of the Charter, but I think that there’s no reason for such a document to be released to the public, because the proposed changes have been clear to those interested in them, from among the ruling coalition, for some time.

As for public opinion concerning these proposals, take a look at this presentation, containing information on public opinion used during the 2005-2006 Anti-Cha-Cha campaign (at the beginning of the campaign, it seemed 44% of the public favored Charter Change, with only 40% opposed; but as Serge Osmeña, a firm believer in the use of survey information for strategizing campaigns pointed out, if you took a close look at the supposed 44% for Charter Change, a significant chunk was for it on the assumption that it would help remove the President; therefore, they were susceptible to being swayed to joining the ranks of the Antis):

SO2.0

If nothing fundamental has changed in terms of the aspirations of the ruling coalition (unicameral parliamentalism), I don’t think anything fundamental has changed in terms of the fundamental political preferences of the public (bicameral presidentialism), either. Economics remains a powerful argument, but that argument is weakened by questions over the political motives of the proponents of Charter Change.

This is where what helps foster Charter Change within the ruling coalition, harms its prospects when it comes to public opinion. It matters to members of the House, that the President’s sons are so conspicuous and that her pet party, Kampi, is taking such an active role; their prominence, however, leads to public mistrust of the proposals and the proponents.

In his blog, Mon Casiple details where the House effort is at and the long ways it has to go:

The GMA forces in the House are crowing about a 183-strong signatory to a House resolution for the convening of a Constituent Assembly. This particular resolution–reportedly being passed around by the Arroyo sons directly–has not even been filed and contained no particular provisions to amend. They are publicly proclaiming that the 196 three-fourths vote required to pass a constitutional amendment in a joint-vote Con-Ass will be theirs.

Of course, the passage of such a resolution is just the first round in a four-round Cha-cha bout.

The second round is the expected Supreme Court battle over the joint-vote Con-Ass. A February 16 retirement by SC justice Adolfo Azcuna is eyed by GMA political strategists as the golden opportunity to appoint a pro-GMA justice in order to firm up the shaky alignment in the current Supreme Court.

The third round is the convening of the joint-vote Constituent Assembly to actually pass the necessary amendment or revision of the 1987 constitution by shifting to a parliamentary system, extending the terms of office of elected officials, or by simply allowing the president to run again for reelection. This is where the 196 captive votes will come in handy, ramming through by brute force such an amendment or revision.

The fourth round is the conduct of the plebiscite on the GMA extension in power, possibly by corroding and influencing the Commission on Elections.

Like the Pacquiao steamroller win over de la Hoya, the GMA strategists imagine doing it over the Cha-cha opposition. The GMA congressmen are raring to do it in the next days to come.

The legal issues that have to be sorted out are explored by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ in The ‘ifs’ in Charter change and Speak tenderly to Jerusalem on Cha-cha (see also former Chief Justice Panganiban’s articles). Essentially, Bernas (rather glumly) admits the Constitution he helped write, has provisions on amendments written in such a manner as to require some sort of resolution by the Supreme Court to sort out it’s meaning (in marked contrast to Dean Jorge Bocobo’s strong belief the Charter is immune to being interpreted in any but a strictly bicameral way).

So what is the opposition to the House proposals up to?

On December 10, the hierarchy and the Catholic Schools will mount a protest at the gates of the House of Representatives, for Land Reform and against Charter Change at the present time. The hierarchy apparently shares the concern that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will not be extended by Congress, as the landlord bloc in the House wants to end Land Reform.

On December 12 there will be an inter-faith rally in Makati City.

Here is a tactical question: both rallies require a turnout at least as large as the February 2007 Makati City rally. If neither rally -or if both rallies- fails to match those numbers, the Palace and the ruling coalition, at present spooked by the possibility of a massive turnout, will get their second wind. The President herself, if you’ve noticed, doesn’t seem to have unleashed a torrent of cash, which means she’s either hard-pressed to scrounge it up, or is holding back. But if the much-feared mobilizing power of the Catholic Church proves a dud, or the public shrugs off Charter Change by avoiding the rallies, then the President may decide to bet and bet big on Charter Change.

In December 2006, the House, lacking the votes to bring the Charter Change case to the brink of a full-blown Constitutional Crisis, blinked and folded in the face of a threatened Church mobilization. But the Church itself, suddenly getting cold feet because it was worried about a People Power situation, and inflexible in its determination to purge the Luneta rally of anything smacking of the “political,” declined to mobilize fully. A lot of finger-pointing and recriminations then took place within the ruling coalition, basically along the lines of “well, what do you know, they weren’t so strong after all”. Although to be sure, this was also meant to enfeeble Jose de Venecia, Jr.

The ruling coalition’s ranks already having been purged of JDV and his ilk, and with many more shepherds to guide the ruling coalition (a more effective Speaker, Nograles, the President’s two sons, and Rep. Villafuerte), with a hard-line cabal in the Cabinet composed of durable political operators, the President might just be inclined to see where this will go. Personally, I think the one to watch here is Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and his empire-building efforts in the power sector. How his efforts prosper will clarify whether an alliance has firmed up with the President, making it more economically rewarding for him to pursue an extension of the current regime rather than embarking -and placing his bets- on influencing the next government.

But even as I point this out, something else is bothering me.

Both protest activities (December 10 and 12) make me think that we really ought to ponder whether camouflaging political action with the cloak of religion is healthy.

A couple of years ago, during a forum held by a foreign chamber of commerce, one Filipino expressed frustration over the timidity of the hierarchy and I responded by saying that perhaps this was a good thing, as reducing the political influence of the Catholic Church was better for the country in the long run. Since then I have become increasingly concerned with preserving the secular nature of our state (see The secular ideal) while ensuring freedom of conscience for practicing Catholics (see Faith and morals).

Making religious observance the central focus of political action dates to martial law, when public gatherings were hampered and regulated by the dictatorship, and when Communists needed to find a way to pursue their United Front tactics while dodging the accusation that they were promoting a Godless ideology. Religious rites helped keep political action focused on peaceful, non-violent resistance and kept the brutality of the martial law regime in check.

But the (unintended) consequence of all this has been to make the Catholic Church and in particular, the hierarchy, political players of consequence to an extent that would have been intolerable to past generations.

On one hand you have the Catholic Church effectively mobilizing to block the Reproductive Health bill, and on the other, mobilizing to keep Land Reform legislation alive. Tolerating the former because of the need for a force capable of mobilizing to promote the latter is a Faustian bargain. It only serves to underline the inherent contradictions in what’s going on, because it introduces the element of sectarian morality into the political sphere. Yet it may be the wrong place for that: after all, what is the political benefit of organizing around the celebration of the Mass, when the President can organize her own Masses, too? What is the use of one bunch of prelates if another will publicly support the administration?

For politicians, partisanship is not only to be expected, but natural; for bishops, the clergy, and their rites, it is, somehow, incongruous. At the very least, marshaling religion for one side only permits marshaling religion for the other; it does not introduce anything new nor does it offer any real opportunity to break the impasse the country’s been in, politically, since 2005. It only fosters the impression both sides are cynically using faith as a camouflage for politics, when the onus should be on those who should be in the dock for using official patronage as a means to court clerical support.

What makes me anxious, though, is that I think the President’s camp, if it decides to continue the brinkmanship Charter Change will entail, has latched on the right ingredients for successfully pursuing a campaign, while the opposition to the President and all her works will find the going tougher this time around.

But then again, there may be a reason why there is the perception that there is a conventional wisdom: and that is, that the gut instincts of those who believe that brinkmanship over the Constitution will truly mark the point of no return and defeat for the administration, are right.

Looking ahead, Congressman Ruffy Biazon thinks amendments are in order, eventually. That is assuming three things. First, that a real consensus concerning the need to amend exists (only within the narrow confines of certain groups does such a consensus exist, methinks). Second, that there are qualified people to ponder on and propose amendments (particularly if convention delegates are chosen by popular election). And third, that the amendments would accomplish some good.

The reactionary in me takes a skeptical attitude and would rather ponder what so many of our elders pointed out, which was, the desirability of restoring the 1935 Constitution, which worked without a hitch so that it took a dictator and a craven court to eliminate it, and which proved so difficult to replace an elected Convention bickered and squabbled its way into co-optation and scandal. As was eloquently pointed by the late Teodoro M. Locsin in Farewell, my lovely! in 1986.

156 comments

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  1. mlq3

    geo, all i can tell you is that the president herself is interested in charter change, and particularly so as she must make provisions for her legacy one way or another. part of my job being her historical gopher was to do research on past administrations, and one of my early assignments was to look up her father’s advocacy of a new constitution when he was president. in fact her father’s speeches became one of the models for her own advocacy of constitutional change, including the particular mode she preferred, and mentioned she preferred, which was through a convention. this is partly the source of my own inability to understand why she’d insist on the more controversial way of a constituent assembly when it would be more in keeping with her public pronouncements, particularly before 2004 and during the campaign. but of course the visionary in every potential statesman always conflicts with the pragmatism of the practicing politician, for example she seized on my proposal to have her inaugural in cebu, to symbolize her commitment to federalism -but allowed her allies to degrade it by reducing it to a thank you for the landslide victory she achieved there (and she may have been right, when i criticized the decision being based on reward for votes, some cebuanos criticized me for it, saying why shouldn’t that be a good enough reason -to which i replied because it’s a shallow one when a much better and true reason existed).

    anyway the point is, a constitution in our way of looking at things, defines an era. and the chief executive during whose administration the new charter was approved -and in every case, we have tailor-fit our constitutions with specific presidents or presidents-to-be in mind, that’s another unhealthy story right there- goes down in history indivisibly identified with that constitution. the 1987 charter will forever be the cory charter, just as the 1973 charter was the marcos charter, etc. imagine the historical -the legacy- weight a macapagal-arroyo constitution would carry in the books and in the public mind.

    there is simply too much water under the bridge to divorce the issue of charter change from the political fate, whatever it will be, of the incumbent, just as her marshaling her ruling coalition’s forces has carried her through but always, in the face of a tacit and pretty broad public expectation that the public will save the country from the politicians (of all stripes) by limiting their mischief within the ambit of the constitution, whichever side wins or loses. that broad consensus is challenged every time the ruling coalition makes a move and insists on being cagey and ambiguous about it.

    the president is not so daring as to personally submit a bill to congress, detailing a convention, and pledging to run for the position of constitutional convention delegate in her son’s district in pampanga. or quezon city, since her family home is in la vista. it would be a game changer. it would make everyone take stock -but she will not risk it because the instant she does so, she proclaims herself a lame duck.

  2. mlq3

    jon, pa-palit palit din ang nograles proposal, lately open na siya sa concon. clever din naman, kasi ngayon, ang tinitira ng publiko ay ang kampi proposals. so walang bahid ng kolaborasyon kay madame para sa lakas.

  3. justice league

    Geo,

    Jeremiah Opiniano presented an article at the 10th National Convention on Statistics (NCS) in 2007. In it he classified Filipino presence abroad as either Permanent, Temporary, or Irregular migrants.

    Permanent migrants – Filipino migrants and legal permanent residents abroad. Permanent migrants may be Filipinos who are Filipino citizens, who are Philippine passport holders, or who have been naturalized citizens in the host country.

    In 2006, there were about 3.5 million Permanent Filipino migrants.

    In the article “Issues and Prospects on the Movement
    of Natural Persons and Human Capital
    Development in the Philippine-American
    Economic Relations” by Tullao and Cortez; it states

    “Filipino labor migration as to flows, destinations and remittances has been considerably
    the subject of economic studies with the United States as the top destination of skilled,
    professional and permanent migrants .”

    Sometime in October, the article “House wants Cha-cha to deal with financial crisis” came out from the Philippine Star.

    The article stated:

    “The US financial crisis has given the administration-dominated Philippine House of Representatives another argument to amend the 21-year-old Constitution by way of giving Americans and Filipino migrants the opportunity to transfer their investments here.
    …………..

    Nograles added: “Our economic managers should be able to take the crisis as an opportunity to mobilize the country’s sleeping potentials and not just remain in the defensive posture.

    “Overseas Filipinos, especially those working and living in the United States, should look at their home country as the best haven for their savings that could be transformed into active investments,” he stressed.

    Nograles surmised that even a minimum of $1,000 investment for every US-based Filipino migrant “would be substantial to fuel the country’s economic engine.”

    The Speaker noted that Mindanao is just waiting to be tapped for its rich and vast reservoir of natural resources, including gold and other precious metals, aside from its vast potentials in food production.

    According to Nograles, his proposed summit can be used as a vehicle to craft a concrete strategy to attract investments from US-based Filipino migrants and formulate measures that will strengthen investor confidence in the Philippine economy.

    He said he is willing to put his job on the line when it comes to Charter change. “In my watch, I think I will bite the bullet,” he told members of the Manila Overseas Press Club early last month.”

    Clearly, Speaker Nograles was equating those Filipino migrants as the naturalized ones and now former “Filipinos”; otherwise why belabor giving them the opportunity to invest in the country along with the idea of Charter Change when if they are Filipinos, Chacha is not needed for them to invest here.

    I don’t know what came out of Speaker Nograles’ supposed summit but the current talk right now is Chacha.

    But given Speaker Nograles’ issue on U.S. Filipino migrants , there is already a way to address such concern without going through amending the Constitution.

    And that is to advocate such Filipinos to reacquire Filipino Citizenship and enjoy the rights of Filipinos.

    They may even opt to have dual citizenship.

    Dual Citizenship is allowed by the Philippines and also the U.S.

    The U.S. is even lenient about it to the point that even if you take a so so routine Oath of Allegiance to another country; that does not totally mean that you relinquish American Citizenship.

    Before we go inviting foreign strangers to invest here and buy and own our land, we should definitely approach our BLOOD BROTHERS AND SISTERS first whom the Speaker IMPLIES to have the funds to invest here and that the Constitution stands in their way.

    But we need not revise the Charter for it for the means already exist via the Dual citizenship law.

    The U.S. Filipino migrants may want to and then again they may not want to.

    Butt there doesn’t even appear to be a half-hearted campaign for enticing them to reacquire Filipino Citizenship.

    All we have is Chacha here and Chacha there so they can supposedly invest their money here.

    This is turning out to be another example of

    GUSTO NILANG GAWIN! KAYA NILANG GAWIN!

    PERO HINDI NILA GINAGAWA!

    KAYA ANG TANGING SOLUSYON AY PALITAN ANG SALIGANG BATAS!

    BTW, I am not averse to amending the Constitution. If they are going to make the anti dynasty provision self-executing like persons of a degree of consanguinity or affinity cannot run for the office being held by their relative (or words to that effect); I’m very much interested.

    Furthermore, you are definitely for amending/revising the charter but I can’t find what issue (at least not in this thread) you are in favor of.

    I have had discussions on Federalism, Parliamentary form of government, and right now I just gave a view on the economic issue as far as the Speaker’s concern with U.S. Filipino migrants.

    You have discussed Conass and Concon. But what specific changes are you clamoring for so it might be addressed?

  4. supremo

    ‘Dual Citizenship is allowed by the Philippines and also the U.S.’

    Dual citizen Filipinos do not have the same rights as non-dual citizen Filipinos.

  5. justice league

    Supremo,

    Dual citizen Filipinos do not have the same rights as non-dual citizen Filipinos.

    What was referred was regarding purchase of land and other properties and engaging in business .

    So what precise rights are you referring to?

    Political rights?

  6. supremo

    justice league,

    I’m referring to political rights.

  7. Phil Manila

    Nograles is either pandering to the Fil-Am vote or he is painfully clueless. Former Filipinos, not only dual citizens, can own real estate property. residential and agricultural.

    Its not the constitutional restrictions that keep investors at bay. Its the day-to-day issues of safety and security of one’s person and property, enforceability of contracts, fair hearing in courts, etc.

  8. hvrds

    Historically an economic crisis will give rise to political upheaval. That is when critical changes come about.

    The more advanced states have in place institutional remedies that can move without the need for the public’s approval. History taught them. The state institutions created and strengthened during the Depression is holding the global economy from tanking steeply.

    The U.S. taxpayer never voted on the fact that the state institutions that handle fiscal and monetary policies have pledged, committed and spent up to $7 trillion of the public purse. Most American citizens are not aware of it. But it was done.

    Here in the Philippines the ordinary taxpayer is also not aware that he never voted on the fact that his government has guaranteed all foreign investments to include loans including those to the private sector as part of the contingent debt of the Republic.

    That critical fact was imposed on the Philippines in the past due to the repeating balance of payments blowouts. The net effect of that is the neglect by government of the domestic sector of the economy.

    In the midst of the crisis in foreign markets the Philippines is left completely exposed as it does not have the resources necessary to compensate to depend on the domestic markets to continue growing. The government likes to talk up their capacities but in reality they are way way short of having the resources of getting it done.

    Once again the dependency factor on foreign savings. Foreigners then in the present global environment will insist on ownership of the prime resource itself. (land) It is tangible and can be commoditized and monetized. Risk profiling for lending and investing has undergone a sea change. No more leveraged plays. It is back to basics time.

    “The promised accelerated and increased public infrastructure spending is grossly exaggerated. Government authorities promised to pump-prime the economy to counter the global economic recession and to raise the level of public infrastructure spending to the Southeast Asian level of 5% of GDP.”

    “That’s a nice policy statement, but what’s the real score? I looked at “hard” public infrastructure — meaning roads, bridges, flood control, airports/navigational equipment, farm-to-market roads, irrigation, water supply — as percent of GDP. It was 2.2 in 2007, estimated at 1.8 this year, and proposed to be 1.9% in 2009. I don’t see 5% in any of these years. Is this modern math?”

    “One plausible way of supporting the 5% infrastructure spending-to-GDP ratio is by adding infrastructure spending for 2008 (1.8 %) to the proposed ratio of 1.9% in 2009. But the sum of 1.8% and 1.9% is only 3.7% — nowhere near 5%. But, of course, such treatment is mindless. Why treat the failure to implement the project in 2008 as an additional infrastructure spending of 2009? Why reward ineptness?”

    “The reality is that the government continues to underinvest in public infrastructure. Worse, the promise to front-load spending in 2008 in order to address the impending economic crisis never took off the ground. Now they promise to accelerate this December its infrastructure-buildup program. Government authorities have given “front-load” and “accelerate” different meanings.”

    “By delaying the implementation of sound infrastructure projects, the economy is deprived of the benefits at the earliest possible time and could affect the net present value of a project. Worse the delay in the project implementation is the perceived rent-seeking infrastructure projects. For what little amount is authorized for public infrastructure projects is lost through corruption.” Ben Diokno, Business World

  9. hawaiianguy

    Because of mistrust in this govt, any change in the constitution is almost always perceived as beneficial to the few (guess who are they) rather than the majority of Filipinos.

    Joker Arroyo, an avid administration guy, argues vehemently against it. He said that once you allow a simple amendment to the constitution, who can prevent anyone from changing it wholesale to suit the interest of those in power? Saying it in Pilipino, “pag nabuksan na, tuloy-tuloy na yan.”

    This is what many fear may happen, esp. so that lawmakers in the lower house prefer the con-ass to con-con. How can you dissuade ordinary folks from believing that those ass****es in congress have the people in their minds?

    I still maintain that changing the constitution for economic reason (e.g., increase investments) can be achieved by other means. Doing the cha-cha now is a disservice to the country, when there are many more pressing and unresolved issues that confront a dying or already moribund nation.

  10. justice league

    Supremo,

    Ok.

    I think we can set that aside for another time since it doesn’t appear to be a main issue in revising the Constitution.

    Phil Manila,

    We don’t appear to be on different sides of the fence but I’m intrigued to ask what Nationality or Citizenship these people write when they prepare documents.

  11. hvrds

    “Its not the constitutional restrictions that keep investors at bay. Its the day-to-day issues of safety and security of one’s person and property, enforceability of contracts, fair hearing in courts, etc.”

    In short political stability that would mean effective state institutions.

    How do you tell those clowns in Congress that they are the problem….

  12. Jon

    Thanks for the link Dean, that’s very interesting.

    As I understand it, the House needs to amend their house rules first. But their house rule actually tells us that in the beginning our congressmen actually assumed that voting separately is what the constitution meant regarding amending the constitution. And now that they want the constitution amended fast (purposedly for their own gain), they want to change the rules.

    The constitution does not say “joint”, so it is for the SC to decide what the law (highest law of the land is the constitution) says. Nograles/Villafuerte moves to force the SC hand to rule on this issue just makes their motives ever more clearly. The next venue of battle is therefore in the Supreme Court.

    This is very interesting!

  13. vic

    The Dual Citizens Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada who wanted to take the Government by Coalition resigned and was immediately replaced by acclamation by Michael Ignatief, another Long Time American Resident (could be a dual citizens too) who parachuted himself and also wanted to take the Government comes January 27 by his Coalition with other Parties..Ignatief was a Harvard Professor and just recently returned to run for Parliament representing a riding in Toronto. The other two aspirant gave up the contest for Leadership to be held in May as Dion was booted out of Leadership by the Party Executives.

    Well, it will be interesting turn of events as this new Leader is considered the only possible personality to be able to win a majority at this time, but Harper of the Conservative is a very stubborn man and also as intellectual as Mr. Harvard man.

  14. taxj

    DJB , well said. So whom does the scheduled anti cha-cha moves serve? At the very least, it assures Evil’s stay ‘til 2010 by drowning the bishops’ call for a change in government, the fertilizer scam and other issues. If it succeeds, what would Evil lose? The cha-cha doesn’t stand a chance anyway. However, if the rallies prove to be a dud, the forces of Evil might be emboldened to ram through whatever they want against a weary and disillusioned opposition. A diluted or corrupted SC ruling against rules, for one! Why not?

  15. Geo

    mlq3,

    Well, I think we might agree that:

    1. Chacha has always been part of GMA’s vision (translation: what she hopes her legacy will include).

    2. Chacha has been a goal of Lakas since before Gloria became VP and before Kampi existed.

    3. GMA seems to have always preferred Concon.

    4. Congress seems to prefer Conass (though there are some bona fide disagreements).

    5. GMA, probably due to the demands of “practical politics”, is not publicly pushing Concon. The reasons are probably:

    a) Congress is the more aggressive player and she opts to let them surge forward (and she can wait and see the developments).

    b) Any hints of “Chacha via Conass” from GMA (which would, stupidly enough include a call for “Chacha via Concon”) is just too politically inflamable for her to get near…thanks to the “Oust GMA Now Na!” crowd, btw (Mr. BMW).

    c) She doesn’t want to become a lame duck prematurely. (Thank you for mentioning this, mlq3. I didn’t because I thought I’d be ridiculed too much and the point wasn’t worth it.)

    All in all, EVAT, the country’s Balance Sheet, economic growth, the success under the MCC vs anti-corruption and the transformation of the political infrastructure of the entire nation…those are her dream legacies.

    Perhaps she’ll settle for a Concon elections in 2010. But she can’t say that yet. But maybe she’ll play that card (the way you described, maybe) once things have progressed and she is closer to her end date.

  16. Geo

    justice,

    I like a unitary Parliament and Federalism in general. I like to see the country open up for investments.

    I’m open to a variety of ideas, but I’m basically anti-status quo and I want political and economic power to be more localized.
    —————————————-

    Phil Manila,

    You wrote: “Its not the constitutional restrictions that keep investors at bay. Its the day-to-day issues of safety and security of one’s person and property, enforceability of contracts, fair hearing in courts, etc.”

    Capitalism depends on the rule of law. The right to own private property is at the very core of the law.

  17. supremo

    justice league,

    Political rights should be taken care of first before economic rights. I’m particularly interested in being able to vote for local officials because they are more prone to corruption. I think local officials will be more responsible if they know that they have constituents who are beyond their ‘control’.

  18. Bert

    Well, anybody, or everybody, can talk of/about anything, more so here in manolo’s blog. This is a free country, and here is a proper forum as any for talking about anything.

    But when the functions of government is being sorely eroded due to something that is not as relevant to the need of the time, then something is amiss.

    What I find it a bit nonsensical is this present discussions and proposals for a Chacha as if it’s a matter of utmost and urgent importance, when in fact almost everybody don’t want it to happen now that the 2010 election is so near.

    There are more pressing problems facing the country now worth tackling first so why should those be set aside then waste so much energy on something that can be prefunctorily done later at the proper time?

    As to a provision in a new charter removing restrictions on foreign investments and land ownership, here is what justice league has to say…and I agree with him:

    “Before we go inviting foreign strangers to invest here and buy and own our land, we should definitely approach our BLOOD BROTHERS AND SISTERS first whom the Speaker IMPLIES to have the funds to invest here and that the Constitution stands in their way.

    But we need not revise the Charter for it for the means already exist via the Dual citizenship law.”

  19. hvrds

    Getting ready for the storm?

    Moody’s just downgraded the outlook for domestic banks to negative from stable.

    In a perfect example of fear exemplified short term rates for U.S. treasury bills were four times oversubscribed at zero to negative interest rates. From exhuberance to outright fear.

    Now even DILG Puno comes out for cha-cha before 2010.

    Big Mike and GMA have only till May of next year to make it happen.

    After that Big Mike and GMA will have to pick amongst the candidates who will best protect them in exchange for government support in the elections.

  20. Geo

    mlq3,

    A bit off-topic, but you wrote (above): “let’s not underestimate the pain and hostility the unreported widescale firings in bpo is having in the middle class, who now face the painful side of globalization and a different corporate culture in the west).”

    Where did you get this idea from? Can you back up the claim with anything?

  21. justice league

    Supremo,

    Your reason is well stated but as I implied; it can be set aside in considering Chacha.

    I believe your issue will not require revising the Constitution.

    Maybe it’s best you concentrate on Congress just amending RA 9189 (Overseas Absentee voting).

    Geo,

    I like to see the country open up for investments.

    As based on the Speaker’s announcement at a minimum 1,000 dollar investment, 3.5 million permanent Filipino migrants translate to 3.5 billion dollars.

    As based on the article of Tullao and Cortez, there were 1.4 million to 2 million Filipino permanent migrants in the U.S. (where Dual citizenship is also definitely allowed) in a 2003 survey. That would be about 2/3 of the National Budget already on a minimum 1,000 dollar investment.

    Don’t you agree that we should entice our blood brothers and sisters first before you open up our country to everyone else?

    I like a unitary Parliament and Federalism in general. ………
    I’m open to a variety of ideas, but I’m basically anti-status quo and I want political and economic power to be more localized.

    Can you be more specific in the kind of revisions that you want?

    Bert,

    Cheers.

  22. Bert

    Some rural banks in metro-manila and the provinces are closing shops now…they called it bank holiday.

    I wonder if that has anything to do with the present financial crisis. Will somebody enlighten me?

    Yes, hvrds?

  23. Geo

    Justice,

    Sure 1 or 2 or $3B worth of investment from migrant Pinoys. But that still pales in comparison with the amounts available from classic FDI.

    The country will benefit by opening investment to all.

    Meanwhile, are not the changes I believe in — a unitary Parliament and Federalism — indicative enough of what I envision? Do you really need me to decide right now, for example, how many representatives should be from how many districts? Those are the specifics that I remain flexible with.

    The main thrust is to eliminate the nationally elected offices which have no direct accountability to a local constituency. The goal is to empower more people, more of the time, in more places than the NCR.

  24. Phil Manila

    justice league,

    Here’s what I’m referring to:

    “Land Ownership by Former Natural Born Filipinos”

    “Under Batas Pambansa and Republic Act, former natural-born Filipino citizens are entitled to own a maximum of 1,000 square meters of residential land and one hectare of agricultural or farm land. ”

    “For business purposes, a maximum of 5,000 square meters of urban land or three hectares of rural land may be acquired by a former natural born Filipino. ”

    http://www.philippine-real-estate.info/philippine-real-estate-laws.html

  25. supremo

    I read somewhere that Pacquiao’s wife is pregnant and might give birth in the US. That child will become a natural born Filipino and natural born US citizen. Is that child covered by the Philippine dual citizenship law?

  26. mlq3

    geo, my only sources are people who have been left shellshocked by the firings going on in their places of work, and who are very upset their stories can’t get out because those who have been fired have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements. you hear these stories wherever anyone in the bpo industry is encountered. there’s culture shock because the abrupt firings and swift eliminations of jobs aren’t the sort of thing the middle class kids in these industries are used to.

  27. mlq3

    Bert, you may find this relevant:

    http://www.uniffors.com/?p=1637#more-1637

    The demise of some rural banks seems to have been unfolding for some time, the column linked to above came out on September 3 but refers to a proposal in the House to loosen capital requirements for rural banks last August. I believe columnist Dean de la Paz was also writing about it.

    The BSP tried to place a number of undercapitalized but munificent rural banks under receivership, but the rural banks, acting in concert, were able to stymie the BSP with a temporary restraining order (TRO) from a Manila Regional Trial Court and a Court of Appeals division taking its sweet time on the BSP’s urgent appeal for a reversal of the TRO.

  28. mlq3

    Geo, you can check my guest book too, someone you might want to email since they thanked me for my column.

  29. supremo

    Layoffs in the BPO industry maybe due to mergers among the major BPO companies. These mergers are happening because of the ongoing mergers in the US financial industry. You cannot expect a company like JPMorganChase to retain the BPO services of Bear Stearns and WaMu.

  30. hvrds

    On rural banks – they are not connected to the West’s directly but there is an indirect link.

    From my own knowledge of a bank that went down and an operator of a rural bank in MM.

    In the near past when interest rates were diving when there was a glut even here short term rates went down to as low as 4%. Moneyed people always hunt for larger yields. The thrust to micro finance was the avenue. Yields were at 36%-48% per anum. However not only rural banks but lending investors got into the act. So rural banks raised their rates to attract investors thinking that yields on micro finance would hold.

    That glut in liquidity then also dropped yields for micro finance to close to 20%. The spread between wholesale depositors rates narrowed. Naturally the rural banks that bet heavy with debt leverage got caught by the sudden shift when oil and food prices went up cutting back on consumption. Default rates rose amongst debtors in the informal sector.

    That rural bank that went under in MM was giving fixed deposit rates in double digits.

    Typical. But the problem of the major domestic banks are of a different nature. That is for another day. The kiting that saved the banks from the Asian financial crisis might soon lose their lift.

  31. taxj

    Our Constitution is not perfect. Nor could it be one, whether changed by a concon or a con-ass. We do not change an engine simply because it doesn’t work. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt much if we try to first explore what some kind if fine tuning can do.

  32. taxj

    Supremo: Political rights should be taken care of first before economic rights. I’m particularly interested in being able to vote for local officials because they are more prone to corruption. I think local officials will be more responsible if they know that they have constituents who are beyond their ‘control’.

    I agree. More powers for local governments is not about trust. It is about the bayanihan spirit and a more level playing field. Other than concened constituents, also beyond their sphere of influence are the Ombudsman, the COMELEC, and the courts. Only the power of the Presidency was able to render them dysfunctional.

  33. Geo

    taxj,

    Fine-tuning a Constitution is done via Chacha. The US Constitution has been amended many times. This is a normal procedure…at least, it should be.

    The obstacle is politics and political noise (resulting in confusion).

    You wrote: “We do not change an engine simply because it doesn’t work.”

    How broken down do you need the engine to be before you replace it? There has been one peaceful transition of national power in 40 years! The nation’s economy — in relevant terms — has sunk downwards during that 40 year period. The social fabric is very torn apart.

    The President’s office, wielding power by one person, has proven impossible to control. The Senate has been reduced to a platform to launch a Presidential bid. It is also not answerable to any specific constituency. Manila collects and spends the wealth of the provinces. It’s too expensive for “normal” people to run for office. And so on…..

  34. hvrds

    More on getting ready for a storm:

    Kiting in Finance

    Banking & Finance

    BY MARIA ELOISA I. CALDERON, Senior Reporter
    PDIC seeks sovereign guarantee

    STATE-RUN Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC), which is contemplating floating bonds to beef up its reserve fund, wants the debts backed by a sovereign guarantee.

    The guarantee will essentially ensure the bonds against default as they will be considered unconditional obligations of the national government.

    It will also allow the PDIC to borrow from the capital market at a cheaper cost, PDIC President Jose C. Nograles said.

    Borrowing from the debt market has now become an option for the PDIC, whose bid for a P24-billion additional state contribution to its deposit insurance fund (DIF) hit a snag at the House of the Representatives.

    The reserve fund — where insurance payments to depositors of failed banks are sourced — currently stands at only P54.3 billion and may not be enough to finance the existing P250,000 deposit insurance coverage, the PDIC earlier said.

    A bill doubling the maximum deposit insurance ceiling to half a million pesos is set for approval this month, but the House and the Senate have yet to harmonize their respective versions.

    Last Tuesday, Manila Rep. Jaime C. Lopez, chairman of the House banks and financial intermediaries committee, said the committee scrapped a provision raising the government’s share in the DIF to P24 billion from P3 billion to avoid roadblocks to the bill’s early passage.

    That has forced the PDIC to seek other ways to shore up the fund.

    “Part of the proposed amendments [to the PDIC charter] is sovereign guarantee on our debt issuances, bonds. We’re opening up that option as a source of funding. We will try to tap the capital market,” Mr. Nograles told BusinessWorld.

    Republic Act 3591 or the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. Act allows the state deposit insurer, with the approval of the President of the Philippines, to issue bonds, debentures and other obligations to assist it in the settlement of insured deposits.

    But while the law states that PDIC bonds are tax-exempt, it is silent on whether these debts are considered government securities that enjoy sovereign guarantee.

    Beefing up the DIF has become crucial as the government firms up a quick-response mechanism to a long-dragging global financial maelstrom.

    Manila Rep. Jaime C. Lopez, chairman of the House banks and financial intermediaries committee, in a separate interview said Congress is still considering an additional capital infusion into PDIC, albeit lower than the P24 billion the PDIC is asking.

    He said a provision to this effect may still be inserted in the bill that will be tackled by a bicameral conference, provided the House and Senate versions muster third and final reading.

    Mr. Lopez said a meeting with Mr. Nograles and Quirino Rep. Junie E. Cua, House appropriations committee chairman, has been scheduled next week.

    Meanwhile, Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chairman of the Senate banks, financial institutions and currencies committee guaranteed the approval of the chamber’s version before Congress adjourns for a month-long Christmas break.

    “I’ll stand up and sponsor it in plenary. I will try and get it approved on Tuesday or Wednesday,” he told reporters at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado forum yesterday, adding he is willing to call for a bicameral conference to reconcile the House and Senate versions during the break.

    Congress will adjourn on December 17 and will return on January 19 next year.

    The Senate version provides that half of the P500,000 coverage be shouldered by the PDIC and the other half by the national government.

    Mr. Lopez said congressmen are “rushing” the approval of the House version, but he admitted that the passage of the chamber’s version on third reading before December 17 will be “very remote.”

    “We are working very hard to pass it but it’s almost impossible to have a third and final reading on Wednesday,” he said in a mobile phone interview.

    While he is willing to work with Mr. Angara during the break, the bill must hurdle final reading next week first. — with reports from Jhoanna Frances S. Valdez and Bernard U. Allauigan

    ——————–

    Story Location: http://www.bworldonline.com/BW121208/content.php?id=021

  35. Bert

    Thank you, mlq3…and hvrds!

  36. justice league

    Phil Manila,

    The website you linked has a disclaimer at the bottom which reads:

    Note: This document is for information purposes only. The user assumes all risks for its use. Philippine-Real-Estate.info assumes no responsibility for such use.

    But I’ll try to verify your issue as soon as I am able.

    Geo,

    Sure 1 or 2 or $3B worth of investment from migrant Pinoys. But that still pales in comparison with the amounts available from classic FDI.

    That is at a minimum of 1,000 dollars.

    If they decide to invest 2,000 dollars, or 3,000 dollars, ………….

    But still you didn’t answer if we should entice them first before opening the country to everyone else.

    Do you agree with the idea or not?

    Meanwhile, are not the changes I believe in — a unitary Parliament and Federalism — indicative enough of what I envision? Do you really need me to decide right now, for example, how many representatives should be from how many districts? Those are the specifics that I remain flexible with.

    No they are not. You did want a rationale discussion didn’t you?

    We can do away with the issue of how many representatives from how many districts for another time.

    But issues on “crossing the floor”, vote of no confidence , “shadow cabinet”, ……… would have been nice.

    The issue of Chacha for a federal and parliamentary government has been going on since 2005 and probably earlier.

    When did you decide to be “anti status quo”? A week ago?

    The main thrust is to eliminate the nationally elected offices which have no direct accountability to a local constituency. The goal is to empower more people, more of the time, in more places than the NCR.

    Why didn’t you just recommend Chacha for the extension of the power of recall over nationally elected officials?

  37. Geo

    justice,

    You wrote: “When did you decide to be ‘anti status quo’? A week ago?”

    As far as the devolution of power, about 30 years ago. More topical, check out my posts on this very site since I first wrote here in 2005 — I have been maintaining a continuum in my positions.
    ————————

    You wrote: “Why didn’t you just recommend Chacha for the extension of the power of recall over nationally elected officials?”

    As you probably know, that doesn’t address many issues that I enumerated in only a few posts above.

    To wit, I wrote: “The President’s office, wielding power by one person, has proven impossible to control. The Senate has been reduced to a platform to launch a Presidential bid. It is also not answerable to any specific constituency. Manila collects and spends the wealth of the provinces. It’s too expensive for “normal” people to run for office. And so on…..”
    ————————————

    You wrote: “But still you didn’t answer if we should entice them first before opening the country to everyone else. Do you agree with the idea or not?”

    Sure, entice them first. It’s already been done, in fact. At least partially. But it still won’t be enough and the rules are still all over the place. We are talking about many kinds of investments, not just a barrage of small ones (think of infrastructure-related, for ex).

    In my opinion, the country should embrace foreign investment. The extent of infused money and expertise/technology is enough reason alone. But there are other benefits as well…..

    I envision the new blood and new players competing with the oligarchal monopolies. I see more jobs created more quickly. I see the influx of “Global Best Practices” as a new mind set for the working youth. And so on…..
    ——————————————-

    Unsurprisingly, it seems like you know better than I do what topics you want to discuss (duh!). So go ahead…just what detail about which proposals are of interest? (And yes, I have had these discussions ad infinitum…including with mlq3 here…for years).

  38. Geo

    mlq3,

    Your latest article in PDI is either an exercise in amateurish investigative journalism or a well-done piece of propaganda which subliminally attacks a variety of positions held by the pro-admin types.

    Why do I say that?

    Firstly, the anecdotes (from the small sample of anonymous stories) are a poor replacement for empirical data. If more poeple are being hired for BPO jobs than are being fired (which is the case, I believe), than we needn’t feel the angst you are trying to arouse. In fact, experienced staff will be met with open arms at the BPO next door.

    Second, how about getting the “other side” of the story? Why were these people laid off? How long did they work there? Were they paid the right severance? Did they sign a non-disclosure BEFORE they were hired? Was it any different than the paperwork now?

    Third, what is the bigger picture? Are non-disclosures common in the BPO industry around the world? Why? What are they trying to stop, specifically? What do some countries’ laws actually REQUIRE the firms to do about non-disclosures? What are the precedents from actual similar cases?

    No, mlq3, I think you want us to think that the economy really isn’t that good (the gov’s success is a mirage), that the foreign jobs that are supposed to save the country will not and that opening up to these Scrooge foreign firms will make Tiny Tims of everyone,

    You are telling the politically neutral, job-seeking youth that their apathy (which B&W blames for the lack of “Oust Gloria” support) is misplaced and that they should rise up and fight for themselves…since no one else will. Or else Christmas and life will always remain so depressing; a dead end.

    mlq3, I still like you, despite our differences in opinion. You often write well. But this is the shoddiest thing I’ve ever seen from you. Sorry. I still think you are an excellent writer with an intelligent and well-trained mind. But…….

  39. justice league

    Geo,

    Unsurprisingly, it seems like you know better than I do what topics you want to discuss (duh!).

    Of course I do know better!

    It would be a surprise if you knew better than I do what topics I want to discuss!

    Sure, entice them first. It’s already been done, in fact. At least partially. But it still won’t be enough and the rules are still all over the place.

    So how where they enticed to reacquire Filipino citizenship so they can invest back in the Philippines without needing to revise/amend the Charter?

    That was my point wasn’t it?

    But it still won’t be enough and the rules are still all over the place. We are talking about many kinds of investments, not just a barrage of small ones (think of infrastructure-related, for ex).

    What is stopping them from pooling resources and forming corporations?

    We ended at 3,000 dollars investment each and that would be at 9 billion dollars. If that was 60% of new investments and followed up by 40%foreign; that would be about 15 billion dollars.

    How much is enough for you?

    Manila collects and spends the wealth of the provinces.

    Why don’t you clamor Congress to raise the IRA?

    It’s too expensive for “normal” people to run for office.

    Maybe you should blame COMELEC for failing its job.

    The President’s office, wielding power by one person, has proven impossible to control.

    Since you are obviously referring to PGMA; I know a lot of people here would tend to agree with you.

    But then how will it be different with the office of the Prime Minister?

    And your answer to that will probably now lead us to the SPECIFIC provisions that will govern the Parliamentary government. Provisions which you have not yet divulged to us.

    The Senate has been reduced to a platform to launch a Presidential bid.

    Why don’t you just point out to the Senate members that the last President to come DIRECTLY from the Senate was oh so long ago. Baka matauhan sila sa sinasabi mo.

    It is also not answerable to any specific constituency.

    Well they are answerable to the electorate of the Philippines just the same way each member of the House is answerable to the electorate of the district. (except the partylist)

    And who are the partylist Congressional members answerable to?

    You didn’t even recommend the power of recall over district representatives whether in the present set up or in a parliamentary form of government.

    So go ahead…just what detail about which proposals are of interest?

    “Crossing the floor”, strengthening of political parties, partylist/political party membership in parliament, form of no confidence vote, “shadow cabinet”, number of political parties, ……….

  40. Geo

    justice,

    I just realized something (I think). Are you the poster who couldn’t figure out what the term “discouraged from work” means?

  41. justice league

    Geo,

    I just realized something (I think). Are you the poster who couldn’t figure out what the term “discouraged from work” means?

    No. I don’t think so.

    But there’s a lot of unresolved issues you are leaving hanging.

    Phil Manila,

    I think I found what you are referring to.

    But I have to read more. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

  42. anthony scalia

    Geo,

    re your December 12th, 2008 at 6:30 pm comment:

    touche

  43. justice league

    Geo,

    Someone else has acknowledge that he got hit by your comment.

    That should settle your issue there.

  44. shrapnel

    mlq3, I still like you, despite our differences in opinion. You often write well. But this is the shoddiest thing I’ve ever seen from you. Sorry. I still think you are an excellent writer with an intelligent and well-trained mind. But…….- geo

    Have you noticed that MLQ3 is widely read, while you only have an anonymous blogger existence pretending to be an intellectual? Its either you’re extremely stupid or getting paid extremely well for playing stupid…

  45. supremo

    Related news about the almost 900 BPO layoffs at ACS. PRC contracted ACS for some call center operations.

    ‘The company, formerly called Precision Response Corp., was stung by an unprofitable contract with a major customer, according to court papers. Chief Financial Officer H. Philip Goodeve told Bloomberg News that this year the contract would have produced $15 million in negative earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization.

    PRC declined to name the customer. ‘

  46. taxj

    Geo: Manila collects and spends the wealth of the provinces. It’s too expensive for “normal” people to run for office. And so on…..

    Mere legislation can address these issues. Distrust for local governments and power obssession, not the Charter, bars Congress from adopting a more realistic fiscal federalism.
    Justice league says Congress can do it but doesn’t. Is a cha-cha the solution?

  47. justice league

    Phil Manila,

    It is by inheritance and the other as transferee with several limitations.

    All such limitations could be lifted by Chacha and/or simply re-acquiring Filipino citizenship as far as former Filipinos are concerned. I hope that settles that.

    taxj,

    Cheers.

  48. justice league

    Taxj,

    I don’t want to necessarily nitpick with you on this one but I think its worth noting that Congress and the President signifying their approval of federalism means that they do want to increase the funds for the provinces so it should mean that they should be amenable to increasing the IRA.

    So it should be taken that they want to do it, they can do it, but for some reason; they are just not doing it!

    Cheers.

  49. mindanaoan

    taxj, “Mere legislation can address these issues. Distrust for local governments and power obssession, not the Charter, bars Congress from adopting a more realistic fiscal federalism.

    like how? allocate the whole budget to IRA and nothing for national agencies? how much bigger can be alloted for IRA while still maintaining the national agencies?

  50. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    like how? allocate the whole budget to IRA and nothing for national agencies? how much bigger can be alloted for IRA while still maintaining the national agencies?

    No doubt taxj can answer that but I’ll intercede anyway.

    Internal revenue is not the only source of funds for the government.

    Consider Customs as a source also.

    And I don’t think taxj or anyone else from this side of the fence is considering the whole budget to the IRA.

    “the whole budget to IRA” thing is from you.

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