Spiral of silence

In his column, The Ateneo and public opinion polling , Mahar Mangahas kept referring to “the spiral of silence phenomenon,” without every actually explaining what it is:

In planning for the first Ateneo-SWS poll, of May 1986, the issue was raised on whether to risk asking whom the respondents voted for in the snap election – suppose most said they had voted for Marcos? I appreciate the Ateneo for agreeing to ask it; the result was that 64 percent said they had voted for Cory Aquino. (The risk was actually small; we didn’t know about the “spiral of silence” phenomenon yet.)

In early 1987, we had to decide whether to do an Ateneo-SWS poll just before the May election, to maximize its potential to predict the outcome, or much earlier, to enhance its value to campaigners. We took the second option. The March 1987 poll found only half of Cory’s senatorial candidates in the winning column; her campaign manager Paul Aquino told his staff that they could not afford to sleep any more. Eventually, with the help of “Cory magic,” 22 of her 24 candidates won. (But critics claimed that the survey failed, because the election outcome was different.)

After the joint project expired, Ateneo and SWS shared the briefing revenues 50-50 as pre-arranged, and then did polls separately. With funding from various foundations, Ateneo did at least six national polls over 1988-1992. In 1992, its post-election poll found some 40 percent saying they had voted for Fidel Ramos, even though he had won with only some 25 percent of the official count – but it was again the “spiral of silence” at work.

Here’s a handy-dandy definition,

The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. The theory asserts that a person is less likely to voice an opinion on a topic if one feels that one is in the minority for fear of reprisal or isolation from the majority.

In a speech he made on May 18, 2000 (the keynote address during the Annual Conference of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, 17 – 21 May 2000, Portland, Oregon, USA), he tackled how not knowing “the spiral of silence” made some survey results curious:

Some of you, perhaps, may recall that Ferdinand Marcos was virtual dictator in the Philippines from September 1972 to February 1986. Opinion polling was very uncommon then. For instance, in 1983 a book of survey indicators, The 1982 Philippine Social Weather Report, by myself and others, was suppressed from publication. In November 1985, when Marcos unexpectedly announced over American TV (the David Brinkley show) that he would hold a so-called ‘snap’ presidential election, he waved on-camera a national opinion poll, done the previous July and publicly reported in August, by the Bishops-Businessmens’ Conference (BBC 1998), an independent civic group, as his basis for expecting to win. He was alluding to a survey item that asked, “How many in this locality would vote for Ferdinand Marcos if he runs for President again?”, to which 53% answered Many or Very Many, and 37% answered Few or Very Few.

No amount of clarification could persuade Marcos loyalists, and even some anti-Marcos elements (to my frustration as the BBC survey director), that the score of 53-37 was NOT a prediction of the vote for Marcos versus whoever. Perhaps Fate decreed that this portion of the poll be misinterpreted so much. More significant survey findings, such as the opposition to legislation by presidential decree, and opposition to detention of persons by presidential fiat, both by 2-to-1, were ignored by the Marcos-controlled media.

Three weeks before the snap election on February 7th, a professional poll commissioned by the TV networks showed a score of 45% for Marcos, 26% for Corazon Aquino, and 29% undecided. In the final week, a poll by Asia Research Organization (Henares 1991), affiliated to Gallup International, found 42% for Aquino and 41% for Marcos, and assigned the 17% undecided to Aquino on account of the fear-factor; but this was not revealed by ARO for 5 years, and the sponsor is still unknown today. In the quick-count of the vote by the National Movement for Free Elections, the winner was Aquino, by 53% to 47%, while in the slow-count by the National Legislature the winner was Marcos, by 54% to 46%. The issue was politically settled by the People Power Revolution and the Marcoses’ flight to Hawaii on February 25. The following May, a joint survey by Social Weather Stations and Ateneo de Manila University asked respondents — after some discussion of the merits of ‘letting well enough alone’ — for whom they had voted in the snap election, obtaining 64% for Aquino, 27% for Marcos, and 9% refusals (Ateneo and SWS, 1986). At that time none of us knew of The Spiral of Silence yet.

Does it exist, now, and is it reflected in the “undecided” in survey results today? And if so, who do the “undecideds” fear? My view is, they reflect tacit but not explicit support for the administration -the fear, in this case, being fear of the majority that opposes the administration and castigates its public defenders.

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    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 3:36 am

    But what is it about Gloria they love? That is the question.

    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Thanks for posting this by the way. In the great tradition of answering one’s own question, allow me rant the following: your latest post is further proof to my hypothesis that a majority of Filipinos are leftists and that a minority of Filipinos, who are right of center to far right, are silent and mum for fear of the lefties.

    I can definitely count among the rightists the Chinoy community (ever the silent ‘right’ force). And maybe, the upper echelons of the OFW class. Anybody who has vast, tangible assets would like to keep the status quo.

    What I don’t understand is the middle class. They ought to realize that their P25,000 to P40,000 a month job is more secure under a GMA administration. The more they they rally and protest, the bigger the prospect that their monthly income that funds their Starbucks lifestyle, the Boracay/Palawan/fill-in-Asian-City (via budget airlines, posted on facebook of course) holiday, that latest electronic gadget that costs a month’s wage, the expensive weekend dinners and gimmicks, will be eroded or completely evaporated by NOT supporting the status quo.

    I think part of it is the constant barrage of leftist editorials on inquirer.net, GMA and ABS-CBN. They’re brainwashed by leftist columnists and editors (who themselves are brainwashed by God knows what leftist doohickey). But also, your spiral silence theory could be an explanation. When majority of your office mates are leftists (or so you think) you have to be leftist yourself for fear of being ostracized.

    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 4:24 am

    This ties in with your “The dilemma of the good soldier” post. Maybe the reason protests are the same ole vanilla-flavored, pre-programmed, mediocre fest that achieve nothing is because the protester WANTS to keep it that way. Too much radical protest will bring out the water canons and batons. The middle-class wants to be seen as protesting (and maybe meet cute guys/girls who can talk politics as a prelude to getting a date on the next weekend for the final purpose of hitting the sack), but not to get bloodied and bruised or jailed.

    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 4:34 am

    I mean, God forbid, that the sheeple of Makati would actually sacrifice their fragile bodies for their political convictions during these *coughs*excursions*coughs* I mean rallies. Oh no sir! We just wanna have a jolly good old time, in a non-threatening, violent way, while protesting our disgust for Arroyo. And to meet up with friends and their friends, who could be potential mates.

    • Jhay on June 21, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I think just like Marcos, those who like GMA, do so because she has performed well in managing our economy, so to speak.

    • ramrod on June 21, 2009 at 10:00 am

    But what is it about Gloria they love? That is the question.
    ——————————-

    Perhaps they believe that we’re better off with the devil we know than the devil we don’t know.

    • ramrod on June 21, 2009 at 10:08 am

    a majority of Filipinos are leftists and that a minority of Filipinos, who are right of center to far right, are silent and mum for fear of the lefties.
    ——————————-

    Remember the latest impeachment attempt, the leftists were for a “watered-down” version, practically giving away parts of Mindanao?

    Besides, some very rabid oppositionists who have this nasty habit of slinging mud on GMA, tradpols, etc. without tangible evidence – tend to do the same to their own allies eventually. You will only see this if you try to get up close to them, like a bunch of hungry piranhas in a drying up mudhole cannibalizing each other…such a shame really…

    • ramrod on June 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

    During our last meeting, my asian counterparts cracked some political jokes and I realized we have more or less the same sense of humor or similar brand of jokes.

    A – A
    N – Nation
    W – Without
    A – Any
    R – Ringgit

    and this about sums up the other guy’s political strategy:

    M – Make
    A – Anwar
    H – Homosexual
    A – And
    H – Highlight
    I – It
    R – Regularly

    • ramrod on June 21, 2009 at 10:24 am

    oops, should be

    M – Make
    A – Anwar
    H – Homosexual
    A – And
    T – Then
    H – Highlight
    I – It
    R – Regularly

  1. didn’t ramos steal the election from miriam in 92? probably with garci’s help.

    • ramrod on June 21, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    What I don’t understand is the middle class. They ought to realize that their P25,000 to P40,000 a month job is more secure under a GMA administration. The more they they rally and protest, the bigger the prospect that their monthly income that funds their Starbucks lifestyle, the Boracay/Palawan/fill-in-Asian-City (via budget airlines, posted on facebook of course) holiday, that latest electronic gadget that costs a month’s wage, the expensive weekend dinners and gimmicks, will be eroded or completely evaporated by NOT supporting the status quo.

    —————————————-

    I believe you need at least twice that monthly income you mentioned to support this lifestyle. Don’t forget the membership at Tagaytay Highlands…

    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    It was the black propaganda a few days before the ’92 elections portraying Miriam as a urine-drinking, mentally deranged, ex-institutionalized cuckoo that did her in.

    It didn’t help that she contested the votes all the way to the supreme court, using her own money. In the end, the recount proved she lost, further eroding her intellectual (maybe mental) credibility.

    With the money gone, she embraced the dark side of Erap’s party.

    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    “I believe you need at least twice that monthly income you mentioned to support this lifestyle. Don’t forget the membership at Tagaytay Highlands…”

    I think that’s too upper class for the Makati “yuppies”, as they like to call themselves. The middle class can afford no more that what I’ve listed. They end up with no savings.

    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    There was no spiral of silence in Ramos’ pre-election 25%. I believe most didn’t really support Ramos pre-election. Pre-election, most young voters and their friends were clearly impressed with Miriam type of intellectual firebrand. The 40% Ramos post-election result shows they were dissuaded with the black propaganda against Miriam, and opted for the #2 candidate in Ramos.

    • mlq3 on June 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm
      Author

    SoP this is what Nixon shrewdly identified as the “silent majority,” a constituency the government has also shrewdly tapped into; and it’s one methinks that’s growing but always relatively discreet in expressing its opinions -precisely because it’s not just the government and its allies that have and use guns.

  2. didn’t ramos steal the election from miriam in 92? probably with garci’s help.

    Most probably, but with Ronaldo Puno’s help…

    • SoP on June 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Bystander, I don’t know if you’re of a voting age during the ’92 elections. If you were you might have seen those flyers distributed about (a few days before elections) saying Miriam drank her piss. It worked like magic. There was no cheating involved, just effective black propaganda.

    Remember, this was the first major elections after the ’86 elections, which in itself was the first election post martial law. People we’re still coming to grips with election tactics. I doubt it would work now given the electorate has more experience with election time mudslinging, but back then this simple strategy worked beautifully for the Ramos camp.

    • Carl on June 21, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Ummm . . . Ramos did cheat in 1992. How did he do it? First, he was the administration candidate, having been endorsed by Cory Aquino. He used this to get the Comelec and the local executives to tamper election results in his favor. This was very clearly done in Mindanao, where election results in key areas were not reported until several weeks after elections. The Ramos camp had to know the amount of votes they needed to overcome Miriam’s lead. They had to do it in such a way that the cheating wasn’t too obvious. PNP and military men fanned all over key areas in Mindanao, putting pressure on local political leaders to fix the returns so that Ramos could pull ahead of Miriam, who, even by the Ramos camp’s tally, was the winner of that election.

    Ronnie Puno and his Sulo Hotel operations were key to rigging that election. And, possibly, even if he didn’t take a very predominant role, so was Garci, who was one of the point men inside Comelec. The template to rigging Presidential elections under the 1987 Constitution was done in 1992.

    The black propaganda spread by Ramos’ camp may have hurt Miriam, but it wasn’t enough to tilt the elections to Ramos’ favor. All that Brenda stuff (as in brain damaged) was in poor taste and extremely low-brow. The youth certainly didn’t buy into that. Of course, the Ramos camp would prefer to allude to black propaganda as having done Miriam in, rather than admit that outright fraud took place. The guy responsible for the dirty tricks and black propaganda department was a gnome by the name of Ricardo Manapat. Ric Manapat was later used by Ramos to dig up dirt on various businessmen and politicians and to use this to extort or blackmail them. Ric was appointed to head the National Archives. He was discredited years later, when he attemted to manufacture evidence that FPJ was not a natural born Filipino.

    What worked for Ramos is that he effectively used administration resources and logistics which, together with black propaganda and the efforts of the police and military establishment, prevented Miriam from building up too huge a lead that would make cheating unviable.

    Miriam’s unfortunate foray into Presidential politics unsettled her, and she went off the deep end after that.

    • taxj on June 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    SoP,

    P25k to 40k/month, middle class? Sez who? The salary of the Mayor of some first class towns is less than P40k. Vice President Noli de Castro is worth only P46.2k/month? Public school teachers are paid less than P12k. I suppose the bulk of government employees gets less.

    • UP n grad on June 21, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    to taxj: Click below for government figures.

    2009 Philippine middle-class household has income:
    min: P282K
    mean:P529K
    Max: P2.296Million

    http://nscb.gov.ph/headlines/StatsSpeak/2009/060809_rav_middleclass.asp

    • SoP on June 22, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Wow Carl, heavy stuff, could be libelous. Glad we’re all anonymous in the interwebitubes.

    • Carl on June 22, 2009 at 7:51 am

    FVR, his cigars, and the people who worked for him in 1992 know that I only speak the truth. Nothing personal, just a statement of the facts.

    Pragmatically speaking, I think that it was just as well that Miriam didn’t make it. Her subsequent behavior indicated that there was some basis to malign her as too unstable for the Presidency.

    • taxj on June 22, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Thanks UP n grad. I just wanted to point out an anomaly wherein the molders of our youth are paid less than half of what the middle class earn. And, we wonder how the quality of our education has so deteriorated.

    I don’t know spiral of silence. But I know voter G of my younger years who has nothing but expletives day in and day out for Congressman T. Yet she voted for him come e-day. A bundle of groceries did or undid it all. She was not alone, but she was not the rule then either.

    Now Voter C is more brutally frank, though it may not necessarily appear in her answers to a survey. She is for the highest bidder. Why? Candidates are all the same anyway. They all forget all about her after an election. It beats not voting at all, which I’m seriously mulling over. The golden rule will prevail anyway: Gold rules. So, to be a bit nearer the truth, pollsters should include as choices CASH or GOODS?

    • Carl on June 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Regarding the spiral of silence, Cory’s endorsement and all-out support for Ramos allowed FVR to benefit from the votes coming from the Aquino administration’s die-hard constituency. Despite disappointment and disillusionment with the Cory administration, her hard-core following was then estimated by Ramos’ handlers to be about 10% of the voting population. In a very tight race, where every vote counts, that is a very large advantage. If that estimate were correct, it was about 40% of the total votes that Ramos eventually got.

    • ramrod on June 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Ummm . . . Ramos did cheat in 1992. How did he do it? First, he was the administration candidate, having been endorsed by Cory Aquino. He used this to get the Comelec and the local executives to tamper election results in his favor. This was very clearly done in Mindanao, where election results in key areas were not reported until several weeks after elections. The Ramos camp had to know the amount of votes they needed to overcome Miriam’s lead. They had to do it in such a way that the cheating wasn’t too obvious. PNP and military men fanned all over key areas in Mindanao, putting pressure on local political leaders to fix the returns so that Ramos could pull ahead of Miriam, who, even by the Ramos camp’s tally, was the winner of that election.

    Ronnie Puno and his Sulo Hotel operations were key to rigging that election. And, possibly, even if he didn’t take a very predominant role, so was Garci, who was one of the point men inside Comelec. The template to rigging Presidential elections under the 1987 Constitution was done in 1992.
    ————————————————-

    I read something similar albeit more recent, ah yes the Mayuga Report? Then again, she had our blessings, we were too biased against an ignorant actor at the time…

    • ramrod on June 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Which brings us to the question:

    Would we tolerate a favorite candidate’s cheating to win the election because we believe he/she is more qualified to lead compared to a more popular but unqualified candidate? The “masa” don’t know whats good for them and they can’t vote intelligently anyway?

    Unfortunately, some of us are more Machiavellian in their approach to life…and success…

    • Liam on June 22, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    (I am not posting links as it takes a lot of time before it gets approved)

    But before anything else, my following post will be based on the assumption of Manolo’s previous post regarding the country being split into 50-25-25 as recent surveys suggest:

    a.) that 50% of the populace are against the current administration or PGMA, BUT, are divided among the different opposition groups;

    b.) that there is a constant 25% of the populace appears to support of PGMA;

    c.) that the remaining 25% are not taking any sides, BUT, by default, tacitly choose to remain with the status quo, PROVIDED, the usual democratic exercises remain(i.e. elections).

    In relation with the ‘Spiral of Silence’ post, let me forward this analysis, I believe that the “Tacit 25″(let’s call them that), silently or by implication, choose the current dispensation over a change because of the ff:

    1.) A change in the status quo might endanger what they currently have (as per SoP);

    2.) The status quo, although not always favorable, provides a predictable set of rules by which they can operate and cope with daily life;

    3.) And, in my experience, those who are in someway related or knows someone who belong to the pro-25%, hold their adverse opinion against PGMA or suppress their opinions either out of pecuniary benefit or out of friend/relative respect.

    What is more interesting, is that sometimes, those whom I know as people who are usually politically neutral or politically apathetic, either suddenly engage in a “fairness” rhetoric for PGMA or become overt sympathizers to the current administration, a phenomena I call as ‘political hypocrisy by personal affiliation’

    • SoP on June 22, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    “ramrod on Mon, 22nd Jun 2009 11:02 am
    …Which brings us to the question: Would we tolerate a favorite candidate’s cheating to win the election…”

    I believe that very thing is happening in Iran right now. I feel the Ahmadinejad won the election. But he’s being bullied by the “enlightened” middle class into resigning.

    • SoP on June 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    “taxj on Mon, 22nd Jun 2009 8:11 am
    …I don’t know spiral of silence. But I know voter G of my younger years who has nothing but expletives day in and day out for Congressman T. Yet she voted for him come e-day…”

    I also have my alternative cultural hypothesis into the whole spiral of silence thing.

    It could be that Filipinos don’t want to appear as backing the losing horse in front of interviewers. So they change their answer to the winning candidate in past election, even though they didn’t vote for that candidate. For many a Filipinos, the elections are all but a game and politics is not something to be taken seriously. It’s like asking them “kanino ka ba tumaya nung dela Hoya v Pacquiao bout?” Half of those who bet on dela Hoya will surely say they bet on Pacquiao post-fight.

    • ramrod on June 22, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    3.) And, in my experience, those who are in someway related or knows someone who belong to the pro-25%, hold their adverse opinion against PGMA or suppress their opinions either out of pecuniary benefit or out of friend/relative respect.

    What is more interesting, is that sometimes, those whom I know as people who are usually politically neutral or politically apathetic, either suddenly engage in a “fairness” rhetoric for PGMA or become overt sympathizers to the current administration, a phenomena I call as ‘political hypocrisy by personal affiliation’
    —————————————————–

    Very accurate.
    But what can you do when you have friends from both sides of the fence and you know them by heart that they are upright men who believe that they are just doing their duty? What is really the right thing to do? Do we throw away our constitution (what I wanted to do before) or we stick to the rules no matter what and see things through?
    There was a time when I would call a proGMA an idiot right to his face if I happen to meet one, until I realized that being pro constitution doesn’t necessarily mean being one and that we all have our roles, our jobs. If our job/responsibility/duty just happened to be guarding GMA, would we shoot her ourselves in the name of good government, justice, or democracy? Or would we do what is expected of our profession and lay down our lives for the duly constituted Commander in Chief?

    • SoP on June 22, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    “Carl on Mon, 22nd Jun 2009 7:51 am
    …I think that it was just as well that Miriam didn’t make it. Her subsequent behavior indicated that there was some basis to malign her as too unstable for the Presidency.”

    I’ve always wondered what a Miriam presidency would have been. Would she have been swayed by the pro-globalization, liberalist camp? Ramos sold a lot of government assets (like PLDT) and liberalized the power industry, which resulted in some efficiencies in our utilities and telecoms sector (though I understand he overshoot power demand estimates which resulted in higher power bills which we’re still paying).

    I still don’t know Miriam’s true political colors up to now. At least with Ramos, we know where he stands. He’s like a Filipino GOP Republican with his economic policies.

    • ramrod on June 22, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Ramos sold a lot of government assets (like PLDT) and liberalized the power industry, which resulted in some efficiencies in our utilities and telecoms sector (though I understand he overshoot power demand estimates which resulted in higher power bills which we’re still paying).
    ——————————————————–

    I could still remember the brownouts then. We were trainees who had to go through “weakest link” like program and every week they announced the names of those who are sent home packing…we studied in the hallways under emergency lights and flashlights, it was ridiculous! So Ramos overshot the power solution, so what? The country was supposed to have graduated to NIC status already and power generation would have sufficed. Is it conceivable that inorder not to feel the high electricity rates we just become richer?

    • SoP on June 22, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    “ramrod on Mon, 22nd Jun 2009 8:04 pm
    …There was a time when I would call a proGMA an idiot right to his face if I happen to meet one, until I realized that being pro constitution doesn’t necessarily mean being one and that we all have our roles, our jobs…”

    I feel the same way for those who criticize Arroyo for using pork barrel to gain political capital among congressmen. They say she’s bribing them, but I think it’s exactly a feature of republican democracy that the executive branch could dangle the purse on the legislative branch so the president could have some powers swaying policy. Otherwise, the executive would be too powerless versus the legislative, given that the latter sets the budget. The presidential veto power is not enough a leverage against the legislative branch I think. The pork barrel evens the playing field.

    • SoP on June 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    “ramrod on Mon, 22nd Jun 2009 8:22 pm
    …The country was supposed to have graduated to NIC status already and power generation would have sufficed. Is it conceivable that inorder not to feel the high electricity rates we just become richer?”

    Some people may laugh at me for saying this, but if de Venecia won the presidential elections I think we would have graduated to NIC status. But no, we got Erap, who declared the Philippines bankrupt on his first SONA. What a fucking idiot. That spooked investors and it was downhill from that point onwards.

    • d0d0ng on June 23, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Carl on, “Pragmatically speaking, I think that it was just as well that Miriam didn’t make it. Her subsequent behavior indicated that there was some basis to malign her as too unstable for the Presidency.”

    Not even the United Nation post, when she trashed the European trade officials. She was too much of an embrassment with her BS (not bullshit but believe sa sarili). She is paranoid that she considered SC Justices her enemies. Such a waste.

    • supremo on June 23, 2009 at 3:03 am

    When Ramos embraced trade liberalization he actually threw the dream of a NIC Philippines in the trash can. GMA doesn’t get it either and continues to follow Ramos’ policy

    • d0d0ng on June 23, 2009 at 3:44 am

    “My view is, they reflect tacit but not explicit support for the administration -the fear, in this case, being fear of the majority that opposes the administration and castigates its public defenders.”

    In this case, the 2010 president is one of the three front running presidentiables among De Castro, Legarda and Villar. The three are not opposed with charter change after 2010 election and Villar is not critical of the President.

    Manolo, you are already looking at your next President.

    • Carl on June 23, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Aquino’s “advisers” neglected the country’s energy situation, and only realized too late, when the Philippines had already fallen off the cliff in terms of power supply. Those exasperating rolling black-outs in the late “80’s and early ’90’s were a real drag to our well-being and our economy. Even to our lives and property, due to countless fires from untended candles or lamps.

    Ramos knew that coming up with a solution to the power shortage was a priority for most Filipinos. And he came up with a most speedy, though ill-conceived, solution. He outsourced power production to private entities and made it exceedingly profitable and attractive in order to hasten the process. Ramos wanted to deliver results immediately, full speed ahead and damn the costs. And he did. This was probably the biggest single factor that caused his popularity to rise.

    What Ramos didn’t tell the nation is that we were going to pay through the nose, the ears and every outlet in our bodies for our much sought-after energy needs. Our cost for producing energy is one of the highest in the world. Naturally, politicians have a way of appeasing the citizenry. Instead of billing citizens directly and risking an infuriated election, Ramos and De Venecia had NPC and the government absorb a good part of the cost. This was, of course, added up to our government debt. But, in the end, the truth will out. And the Asian Crisis in 1997 revealed how truly fragile the Ramos “economic miracle” was. It showed how overburdened with debt the government was and how debt servicing ate up so much of government expenditure that services and infrastructure were practically unfeasible.

    Ramos was fortunate that he only had about a year to serve out his term as the shit hit the fan. But the Asian Crisis put an end to Ramos’ ambitions to stay longer in power. His attempts to change the constitution to allow him a longer stay at the helm were terminated. Ramos lost a good part of his glitter, and he couldn’t elicit enough popular demand for him to stay. That may actually have been a good thing for Ramos, because he didn’t have to deal with the full force of the Asian Crisis, although he still seems to be quite resentful about this.

    It was Erap who bore the brunt of the Asian Crisis. And he paid for it dearly. Of course, Erap didn’t help himself with his incompetent, boorish and corrupt ways.

    • SoP on June 23, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I remember Erap’s full front assault on the MILF and MNLF camps on Mindanao. His reasoning was it was wrong for Ramos to let armed soldiers hold territorial sovereignty on parts of Mindanao. Ramos was compliant on these camps because he knew a full on assault would blow a big hole on the already burgeoning deficit.

    Erap’s military assault blew a big hole on the budget.

    I think the way to cut deficits is to reduce the number of congressmen, mayors, and governors. Districts and cities should be consolidated so that the yearly salaries for these politicians and wages for the bureaucracy that supports them can be halved.

    I’m also curious as to whether the government still holds valuable assets that can be sold.

    • SoP on June 23, 2009 at 10:29 am

    “Carl on Tue, 23rd Jun 2009 9:56 am
    …He outsourced power production to private entities and made it exceedingly profitable and attractive in order to hasten the process…”

    I think the plan could have been more polished and perfected. Midway through the planning the IMF and World Bank were warning demand projections were too high. If Ramos just listened to them he would have left a real great legacy with the the energy sector.

    My assumption is a little bit of “grease money” was involved in getting IPP contracts. Ramos contends that he was preparing for NIC level power consumption. I think he just couldn’t resist the grease that IPPs were offering to get contracts.

    • SoP on June 23, 2009 at 10:36 am

    “Carl on Tue, 23rd Jun 2009 9:56 am
    …That may actually have been a good thing for Ramos, because he didn’t have to deal with the full force of the Asian Crisis…”

    I think if Ramos was given term extension he would have managed the crisis well. But Filipinos, especially the left, would still have been dissatisfied. They would have rallied day and night and be counting the years Ramos have been in office and be calling him the new Marcos. Goes to my theory that Filipinos are bad judge of characters when it comes to their leaders.

    • ramrod on June 23, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I think if Ramos was given term extension he would have managed the crisis well. But Filipinos, especially the left, would still have been dissatisfied. They would have rallied day and night and be counting the years Ramos have been in office and be calling him the new Marcos. Goes to my theory that Filipinos are bad judge of characters when it comes to their leaders.
    —————————————-

    My sentiments exactly. Between Ramos and Erap who’s the better crisis manager?
    We Filipinos would appear to be bad judges of character when it comes to our leaders because of the information that is made available about our leaders/candidates. Campaigns are made to appeal to emotion, drama, image, etc. rather than laying down real issues, character, values, track records, vision, platforms, capabilities…campaigns have these common “showbiz” approach. So naturally, instead of forming realistic impressions we get “larger than life” images and get carried away by emotion, of “you and me against the mang -aapi” or “we down troddens should stick together.” We actually resent those who truly outshines in credentials and go for those who can talk eloquently in Tagalog and it doesn’t matter if he/she is just mouthing off ideology or nonsense or repetition of both over and over again.
    Is this the fault of media or the campaign strategists?

    • taxj on June 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    SoP: I think the way to cut deficits is to reduce the number of congressmen, mayors, and governors. Districts and cities should be consolidated so that the yearly salaries for these politicians and wages for the bureaucracy that supports them can be halved.
    _____________________________

    Not that I agree, but, I think this is something we must explore. Diagnoses? Great! When do we get a prescription?

    • Carl on June 23, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    When debt servicing eats up to 70% of the national budget, what can a country do? There isn’t all that much fat to cut. And there aren’t all that many services and infrastructures government can provide, except those that are done by the outsourcing, BOT or BOO route.

    • SoP on June 23, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    + Negotiating with terrorists can reduce the deficit. Bullets cost money.
    + Let’s do away with DSWD. Leave the social work to charities and the church.
    + Let’s do away with Department of Tourism. Let the tourist industry market itself to the world.
    + Increase luxury tax and sin tax to 40%
    + Increase income tax and VAT (sorry)
    + Increase estate tax (and let those rich kids earn their keep)
    + Change bank secrecy laws and increase the budget and resources of the Ombudsman to 10,000% (or more). Adjust it inversely to the Philippines rank in Transparency International.

    Eventually, we would have to make more hard choices or we’ll forever be trapped in a cycle of deficits and inflation.

    • SoP on June 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    We can also do away with Social Security and Philhealth. Let people earn their own retirement money and let private health insurance flourish.

    I think a president can get away with squeezing the middle class as long as food is cheap for the poor. So make food sufficiency a top priority (I don’t know how though).

    • UP n grad on June 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve mentioned before, I say again.

    Lease three or four bases to get quick up-front money as well as yearly lease payments. [ Bases also create jobs — construction-labor during the creation of the bases and while the bases are operating (clerical, IT, maintenance). ]

    • supremo on June 23, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    UP n grad,

    America military Bases in Palawan will solve a lot of problems like piracy, Chinese intrusion, environmental degradation, unemployment, budget deficit, and lack of military equipment. Palawan is a good location because it is far enough that it would be expensive for protesters to go there on a regular basis.

    • SoP on June 23, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    If the Chinese offer the same for the bases, would you accept?

    • supremo on June 24, 2009 at 12:03 am

    SoP,

    NO. Burma is a good example on why any deal with China is not good in the long run.

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