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Nov 13

Platform time begins on November 30

roxas-osmeña race

In Hi’s and hello’s in three stages, I wanted to point out that there are different stages in a presidential campaign, and that we’re transitioning from one stage to another, namely from the first to second stages of the campaign.

First stage: Introducing Yourself and Making Friends: potential candidates put themselves forward for consideration by the public in its capacity as the body politic that constitutes the membership of political parties (Anytime from May 10, 2007 to Oct. 20, 2009)

Much as Filipinos followed the American presidential contest, and are in some ways more familiar with the American system than our own, the equivalent period in the United States was the far longer period during which various potential candidates first set up their exploratory committees, and then began participating in the debates and fora leading up to the more formal elimination rounds known as the party primaries.

There have been proposals to establish some sort of primary system here at home, the problem is such proposals always come too late: and they must necessarily come too late because the law -written by by politicians with politicians’ requirements during elections in mind- rigidly prohibits an extended and public selection process.

My personal view is that the 90 day period provided by law for campaigns is far too short, and is a case of being penny wise and pound foolish, the short period meant to encourage economy in campaigns. To my mind it accomplishes the opposite, as campaigns have to frenetic, and, considering the large size of the electorate, it’s superficial because only a few, key messages can be drummed into the public consciousness during the campaign.

Still, the law is the law, and much as it may not make total sense to the public, it makes sense to the candidates, fortified as their understanding is, by legal precedents. Basically, the law simply states that if a candidate does not formally file candidacy papers, he or she is not yet a candidate, and therefore, not bound by the law when it comes to punishable violations of the Omnibus Election Code.

Since this is the introductory period, prospective candidates are trying to accomplish several things, going into the period when they’re expected to formalize their affiliations and form teams to contest the elections. There’s no leader where there aren’t any followers, and what candidates are trying to do is to prove they’re serious contenders for the presidency and vice-presidency. They do this by manifesting interest in the position, by touring the country, by getting commitments from individuals and groups, and accumulating a campaign kitty or at least, the resources to attract future donations.

They also have to start speaking out on issues and proposing themes in the hope they’re attractive to the electorate. As it stands, with the period for putting together, revising, and formally adopting, party platforms still ongoing, it’s well to remember that there have been opportunities aplenty for the candidates to be asked their views on the issues, and for these opinions to be scrutinized.

In fact, considering that most of the leading contenders are not only in the Senate, but ran for the Senate in 2007, there’s an underutilized resource available to the public for comparing where the candidates of today stood, in terms of the issues in 2007, which can help gauge if they’ve remained consistent, or have evolved or devolved since then: the Podcast interviews conducted by Inquirer.net of senatorial candidates in 2007, which were provided online. These interviews are particularly useful because they weren’t limited by time constraints, candidates could talk as long or as briefly as they pleased.Francis Escudero Podcast Transcript Benigno Aquino III Podcast Transcript

Manuel Villar Jr. Podcast Transcript

So it’s not as if there wasn’t a starting point for vetting the candidates.

And as the introductory process continues, and the current ideas, the points of view, of the prospective candidates start accumulating, to the point that the public, in turn, starts deciding, not on who to vote for, but who to consider.

And they can begin comparing and contrasting the opinions of prospective candidates -whether these opinions, in turn, provide the basis for a real campaign, comes later, when presidential aspirants, for example, woo and secure the support of potential running mates, and potential tandems, in turn, lobby for, and are lobbied to embrace, individual senatorial candidates to form a ticket.

Here are examples of comparing and contrasting the public statements of the prospective candidates:

Presidential Views ANC Face to Face With LGU Champions
The above being a comparison of their answers during the ANC Local Government Unit Forum.
Presidential Plans

And putting together the statements of an individual candidate to get an idea of the various statements of the candidate on the issues:

BSAIII Policy Pronouncements 10-31-09

And the above being a comparison of the answers the prospective candidates gave during their profile interviews with Che-Che Lazaro.

But to a certain extent, the above are useful only in getting to know the candidates, but it’s premature to demand of them, their party platforms considering they couldn’t formalize their party candidacies until last October: and with their party candidacies comes the whole panoply of the campaign, from veep to senatorial slate.

Not to mention maintaining the strange -because not really in keeping with reality- and formal distinction between aspiring to a nomination and being a bonafide, nominated, party candidate.

The law on campaigning kicks in when candidacies are formally filed, yet to be a candidate, one usually goes through the complete staff work of party affiliation, and then endorsement. This then brings us to the second stage of the campaign.

Second stage: Formalizing Alliances, by means of Party Conventions and Nominations

Part I: the adoption of potential candidates as the official candidates of particular parties or coalitions for the purpose of forming slates to campaign for votes from the electorate at large (Oct. 21-Nov. 19, 2009)

Conventions aren’t what they used to be (see The NP Convention Story, 1953): contests in which party delegates engaged in balloting to determine who’d be the standard bearer. Still, candidates need to be anointed by parties, as the parties provide the legal personality required by law for many aspects of electoral process. Conventions are the means by which not just presidential and vice-presidential tandems, but senatorial slates, are unveiled and deemed closed.

October 21 The Joint Convention of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino and PDP-Laban in Plaza Moriones, Manila, adopting Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Jejomar Binay as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, during which they announced of their common platform, was the first convention to take place, on the first day allowed by law.

Unfortunately, beyond news reports, I haven’t found the platform online.

November 15: on or before this date, the Nacionalista Party Convention will take place.

The Nationalist People’s Coalition is widely expected to enter into a coalition agreement with its mother party, the NP, by providing Senator Loren Legarda as the veep running mate for Senator Manuel Villar Jr., who will be formally adopted as the Nacionalista standard bearer.

I ran into Gilbert Remulla a couple of weeks ago, and at the time, he said the Nacionalistas were engaged in finalizing their party platform; it’s reasonable to assume that the Party Convention will include formally ratifying that platform.

November 16: Liberal Party Convention, adopting Senator Benigno Aquino III who announced his intention to run for the presidency on September 9:

And Senator Manuel Roxas II who accepted Aquino’s offer of the vice-presidential slot on September 21:

As official candidates of the party. However, there’s likely to be another, less formal activity in which a broader coalition will manifest its adopting the tandem as its candidate, but whether the LP will update its existing platform, or retain it, while the coalition in turn adopts a broader platform, remains to be seen. As it is, Aquino by all accounts has been deeply involved in the meetings of various clusters tackling a coalition platform.

November 19 Lakas-Kampi CMD Convention in Manila’s Philippine International Convention Center (originally slated for November 12 in Cebu City, but moved because of the Pacquiao fight and the wooing of Gwen Garcia for the veep slot failed), following earlier events:

It started with the President’s presiding over the unification of Lakas-CMD and Kamp (setting forth the campaign direction of the administration “for the next thirteen months”) on May 28; the National Executive Committee meeting on September 16 announcing the intention to adopt Sec. Gliberto Teodoro as party standard bearer:

Then followed by the President’s relinquishing the party leadership to Sec. Teodoro; and today’s announcement by Interior Secretary Puno that former OMB Chair Edu Manzano will be the running mate of Teodoro (squelching speculation that Ceb Gov. Gwen Garcia or Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos or Senator Miguel Zubiri were contenders for veephood).

Teodoro has been reported as having practically single-handedly produced the NPC Party Platform when he was a member of that party; while the PaLaKa has a platform, it’s probable that together with the anointing of Teodoro as the president’s chosen successor, a new party platform will be unveiled as well.

As for Senator Francis Escudero, no longer affiliated with a party, his decision on whether to seek the presidency or the vice presidency or continue in the Senate is strictly his own.

Part II: The filing of certificates of candidacy (Nov. 20-30, 2009)

This is when individual presidential candidates, vice-presidential candidates, and senatorial candidates, then form teams; and it is here that platforms become essential, as they document the basis for unity of those who’ve decided to campaign together as a ticket. Their basis of unity in turn becomes the basis for campaigning for the votes of the electorate.

So conventional wisdom seems to be the following slates: Aquino-Roxas (LP); Estrada-Binay (UNO); Teodoro-Manzano (PaLaKa); Villar-Legarda (NP-NPC) with Escudero as the wildcard for the presidency or vice-presidency.

Break Time: The Long Hiatus (December 1, 2009-February 8, 2010)

After the filing of candidacies comes what’s expected to be the Long Hiatus from November 30 to February 6, when all sorts of prohibitions kick in.

In the past, the convention period would have been in January 2010, followed by the campaign period itself; but because of automation, the convention period was moved up, which introduced the rather nonsensical prohibition on doing anything, on the part of the candidates, for two months.

So what prohibitions might kick in? On things deemed to constitute either an “election campaign” or “partisan political activity.”

Section 79 of BP 881 defines “election campaign” or “partisan political activity” as “An act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office.”

This includes the following prohibited acts from the period of the filing of certificates of candidacy by November 30, until the official campaign begins on February 6, 2009:

1. Forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate;

2. Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate;

3. Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office;

4. Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; or

5. Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against a candidate.

However, the following acts are not included as offenses during this period:
1. Reporting by newspapers or radio or television stations of news or news-worthy events relating to candidates, their qualifications, political parties and programs of government;

2. Commentaries and expressions of belief or opinion in respect of candidates, their qualifications and programs and so forth, so long as such comments, opinions and beliefs are not, in fact, advertisements for particular candidates covertly paid for;

3. The posting of decals and stickers on “mobile” places, whether public or private, is allowed;   
4. Holding political conventions or meetings to nominate their official candidates within forty-five days before the commencement of the campaign period.

Furthermore, with regards to the conduct of candidates, according to a ruling of the Supreme Court (Penera vs. COMELEC) it is upon the filing of his/her COC, that a candidate can thereafter be held guilty of premature campaigning for purposes of disqualification. It’s upon the filing of his/her COC, that a candidate explicitly declares his/her intention to run in the coming elections and is governed by the rules on campaigns.

And so, based on the above, much as the forced break from campaigning is inconvenient to the candidates, it presents a golden opportunity for those interested in scrutinizing platforms, to engage in public discussions about those platforms.

This is the period when Platforms ought to be expected and really, the earliest when they can be produced: therefore the demands for platforms prior to the convention season and the filing of candidacies betrays ignorance of the process. Even in the United States, voters, in their capacity as members of political parties, selected candidates not on the basis of formal platforms by the candidates, but rather, as a result of debates; for it’s only with the formal adoption of candidates by the parties that the conventions also produce the platform under which the party and its candidates campaign. Indeed, the choice of candidate has a direct influence on the party platform.

As I’ve pointed out, our political practice is more oriented towards coalitions; and the coalitions, too, require time to hammer out a common platform as the basis of uniting to support specific candidates. The broader the coalition, the longer and more complicated the consensus process required to arrive at a platform becomes.

So you cannot have a platform if you are a leader without followers and the association of leaders and followers is the party or coalition; and that coalition or party has to coalesce before it can unveil its platform.

Third stage: Parties and coalitions, their candidates, campaign among the electorate, to obtain their votes on election day.

Part I: Feb. 9, 2010: National campaign period for candidates for the presidency and vice presidency, the Senate and party list begins.

Part II: March 26, 2010: Local campaign period for candidates for House seats and provincial, city and municipal positions begins.

This is when the entire party or coalition slate, national and local, gets to campaign, and it’s a pretty short period all things considered.

Part III: May 8, 2010: Campaign period ends.

May 10, 2010: Election day.

44 comments

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  1. angela

    ah so it’s too early to expect platforms. sige na nga. patience is a virtue.

  2. mountain top experience

    in some areas, i think the important date is between Part III (Campaign Period Ends) and Election Day

    this is where the “gapangan at bayaran” happens.

  3. Carl

    Bread and circus time . . . Bring it on! 🙂

  4. The Equalizer Post

    On The Importance Of A Campaign Platform:

    “Lahat kami iyan lang ang sasabihin.Lahat ng kandidato sasabihin iyan.We will say the same things…we will have the SAME PLATFORM.

    For after all, a platform… dadalawang speechwriters lang iyan tatanungin ka.Anong gusto ninyo, 3-point agenda , 10 point agenda 15 point agenda o 25 point agenda.”

    Senator Manny Villar

  5. carlo

    Mr. Quezon, isn’t there a fourth part the part where the presidential aspirant directly or indirectly invents or steals votes or where he makes the last minute calls to secure his “bailiwicks” before or during the elections?

  6. freesince09

    Oh Motherhood statements to come!

  7. giancarlo

    As long as a significant portion of our country people suffer from extreme poverty, nay hunger, we cannot expect people to vote rationally. Even in experiments people who do not eat on time have an extreme decline in their decision making.

    Also, we have a political system with no strong party identification for normal people, even among party members there are no clear party loyalty, couple this with no reelections for presidents and of course the triumph of personality over party and what we get is a system where we the people really have no way of disciplining presidents.

    What I believe this means is that platform will be all but irrelevant as long as a lot of our country people are in poverty. It is only good to clear the dead air in interviews and the like. In our country the rule of thumb is or I believe should be “Vote for the Good person”.

  8. J_AG

    I am eagerly awaiting the so called platforms of the so called candidates.

    I do have one question for all of them.

    The more advanced societies fund their governments with a tax take of 30% to 50% of their economic GDP.

    In the Philippines it remains at 12-14% of GDP. Is that a reflection of structure (economy, politics, culture) of the society or a mere problem of government incompetence? The largest source of government recurring revenue remains to be customs taxes and duties combined with the VAT.

    Weak resources would mean weak government which would translate to weak state.

    So let us see, do we go back to the drawing board or have more of the same?

  9. Bert

    “The more advanced societies fund their governments with a tax take of 30% to 50% of their economic GDP.”-J_AG

    J_AG,

    If our government officials are as rapacious as they were with our 12-14%, how much more with our 30% to 50%?

    I hope you’re right by this:
    “Weak resources would mean weak government which would translate to weak state.”

    Otherwise, if things stays as it is, it will be “strong resources would mean richer government officials, poorer taxpayers, which would translate to a chaotic state”.

  10. The Cusp

    The 30-50% tax effort applies only to countries in Europe which have a higher level of spending on social services due to an older population and a greater emphasis on equity v efficiency. Scandinavia even has a higher rate of 70-80%.

    In the US, there is a rule of thumb that no matter what new taxes are passed, the tax take in the long run always approximates 19%.

    The same rule might apply to the Phils, only that the benchmark is somewhere around 12%. This might represent the level that is acceptable to the political and economic elite.

    Ironically, the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Liberty rates the Phils quite well in terms of its low tax burden (the only aspect in which its rating is positive).

    The only problem of course is that our economy has not grown as much under this low tax regime unlike other low tax places like Hong Kong. The main difference could be in the quality of institutions and the clarity and transparency of the tax code.

  11. betterphilippines

    “the demands for platforms prior to the convention season and the filing of candidacies betrays ignorance of the process.”

    not necessarily true. perhaps those who are making noise around the need for platforms see that the process is not a good one. call it premature but at the very least the campaign for the immediate presentation of platforms helps call attention to the fact that there is something else beyond personalities and all this showbiz-stlye campaigning. the prevailing system is the enabler of traditional politics and traditional politicians.

    “what candidates are trying to do is to prove they’re serious contenders for the presidency and vice-presidency. They do this by manifesting interest in the position, by touring the country, by getting commitments from individuals and groups, and accumulating a campaign kitty or at least, the resources to attract future donations.”

    how exactly do they prove they’re serious contenders under this system? how exactly do they get commitments especially of the financial kind under this system? and how do they attract supporters?

    the way i see it the only premature thing going on right now is the premature show of support for the candidates. not only is it premature it’s also highly questionable. where there are no platforms to review what other basis do voters have to decide whether or not this or that candidate should get their support? their showbizy political ads?

    “In fact, considering that most of the leading contenders are not only in the Senate, but ran for the Senate in 2007, there’s an underutilized resource available to the public for comparing where the candidates of today stood, in terms of the issues in 2007, which can help gauge if they’ve remained consistent, or have evolved or devolved since then: the Podcast interviews conducted by Inquirer.net of senatorial candidates in 2007,”

    the elections has something to do with the future. shouldn’t we then be informed more about their plans and not their past positions? considering that politicians routinely change their stand on issues depending on the current political climate, their past positions hardly matter.

    “Still, the law is the law, and much as it may not make total sense to the public, it makes sense to the candidates”

    of course it makes sense to the candidates and they certainly embrace the process because it allows them to stick to the “trapo” approach which has always been personality-based. are we supposed to just accept that?

    it really is funny that in justifying their premature display of political ads the candidates and their handlers say “it’s not the campaign season yet so no violation.” when asked to present their platforms they say “it’s not the campaign season yet we might be cited for violating the law.” the strangest argument.

    the call for the presentation of platforms is not premature. it certainly does no harm or violate any law and it definitely does not insult the intelligence of the voting public. we can’t say the same thing for the trapo approach, can we?

  12. benign0

    A candidate that whips out a platform out of nowhere once the “official” campaign period starts for me gives the impression that he only coughed one up for show. Whereas people with true vision would’ve always had one up their sleeve that predates any political ambition. Even if it were just in their mind, it would be so clear to them that they could draw one up within a day or two of being asked for one — kind of like the commies. Their ideology and vision is a stable foundation upon which all their political activities across time are grounded upon.

    Before Noynoy came along, there were already several politicians who either had a document clearly articulating their categorical positions on more than a few matters and/or a document with structured content that they actually called a “platform” — even before there actually was any “official” or on-record certainty around who was gonna make a bid for the presidency.

    You also implied in showing all those interview transcripts, MLQ3 that the onus is on voters to trawl across disparate public statements made by candidates over time and piece them together to form a picture that they can use to make their evaluations.

    Excuse me, but I beg to differ.

    It should be the other way around.

    Why don’t the voters do themselves a favour and DEMAND that the politicians do that job for them, specifically: rather than politicians dish out disjoint soundbites piecemeal and expect the voters to collate them, why don’t THEY step up and collate a comprehensive document articulating in a coherent and structured manner their positions across relevant matters and present that to their constituents? In such a way, the process is reversed. Voters would take that document and use it as a BASELINE for assessing whether the soundbites dished out by politicians during their campaign are CONSISTENT with it.

    You put the structure out FIRST and then use it to frame the subsequent campaign chatter INSTEAD OF the voters being left to make sense of the unstructured chatter over the campaign period.

    We as voters need to STEP UP and DEMAND that our politicians do it this way. Why should we be the ones scrounging around for structure and connecting the dots. The politicians should come up with a written and published document of connected dots. In this way, we offer politicians very little room to be ambiguous and slippery.

  13. Carl

    “. . . the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Liberty rates the Phils quite well in terms of its low tax burden (the only aspect in which its rating is positive).”

    *********************************************************

    Well, the Heritage Foundation, which embraces Ayn Rand’s philosophy, certainly before it would John Maynard Keynes’, is known to hate taxes and big government. So, in their eyes, the lower the Philippines taxes its citizens, the more positive the ratings.

    Conservatives do make a case for lowering taxes when they argue that lower taxes can spur investments and innovation. But there has to be a well-thought out plan there. Unless it is channeled properly, lowering taxes will only encourage consumption and waste, and government gets almost no benefit out of it.

    The reason that many European countries had lagged the U.S. and emerging markets the past two or three decades, was because taxes were at such a high level that it became a disincentive. The U.S. was very good at creating innovative ideas in IT, entertainment and in finance (although it unfortunately went overboard with the CDS’s and sophisticated financial derivatives). But it was very poor innovating in the auto and clean energy industries, because it was hesitant to tax gas-guzzlers and pollutants like coal.

    If any good will come out of last year’s economic meltdown, it is that developed and developing countries have come to realize that there is no perfect economic model, and the realization that the world has changed, and still rapidly changing. And that they have to adapt to these changes as rapidly as they occur.

  14. Carl

    To clarify, encouraging consumption isn’t a bad thing. Except that, in the Philippine setting, we import the greater part of what we consume. Whatever we do produce, almost always contains imported components. We produce very little from scratch.

    We must also look for alternatives to relying on foreign remittances to prop up our economy. While it is certainly a good thing, we have become overly dependent on it. I have noticed that, in the APEC meeting in Singapore, the Philippines has positioned itself as a leader in the “global labor phenomenon”, another name for OFW’s. Moves to protect global workers from abuse and exploitation are laudable. I just wonder, though, whether this is the only global initiative where we take some prominence.

  15. The Cusp

    I agree with benignO that it is quite taxing for voters to troll through all that the candidates have said. There must be a simpler way of presenting this info (perhaps in tabular form with the issues listed in the rows and candidates in each column, with their positions on the issues filling each cell).

    With regards to the electoral period being too short and where primaries are not present, I think that what is evolving in practice is the equivalent of primaries where candidates canvass support through public fora and debates and check the public polling numbers to see how they fare.

    Without this information, Mar would not have decided to withdraw in favour of Noy. Danding would not have decided to withhold funds for Chiz. Noli would not have backed down or for that case Loren. Erap would not have had the audacity to run, etc.

    What in effect is happening is a winnowing out of the field based on polling results which is I guess a more economical way of holding primaries.

  16. SoP

    We also take prominence in exporting agricultural goods.

  17. The Cusp

    Also, just to clarify my point on the Heritage Foundation stuff.

    I wasn’t being prescriptive on what our level of taxes should be. I was merely observing that it just seems to be returning to the same level even after several waves of reforms since the 80s to try and lift it.

    That it is inadequate to meet the needs of the broader populace and that it should be raised to meet the challenges confronting us is quite obvious.

    As to why it is so low, is debatable. There is of course the notion of the predatory nature of our local business elite, who rely on the state for tax perks and use the state to issue them public franchises and regulations favourable to them.

    They don’t rely on the state for infrastructure or security. They provide it for themselves. They don’t trust the state with delivering adequate services like education, health and housing. They would rather use their own foundations or other “tax deductible” charities like Gawad Kalinga for that (adopt a school and so on).

    It is ironically the foreign chambers of commerce who jointly petitioned the govt to stop providing tax perks thru Economic Zones (which have not been effective in attreacting foreign investors) but to spend the money instead on upgrading the physical, human and economic infrastructure of the country. Perhaps it is they who are more dependent on these things since they rely less on rent-seeking and more on profit-seeking activities to survive.

  18. benign0

    Your message in this blog post actually begs an even more fundamental question about Pinoy-style “democracy”, mlq3 — a question which I answer in my recent article The official campaign period: Does it even matter?

  19. mlq3

    I’m puzzled by the insistence on platforms when, again, the time for platforms for a presidential campaign isn’t here yet, neither in terms of the formal schedule of things or even according to the human way of doing things. in terms of party affiliations, the platforms are there. but since campaigns are undertaken as coalitions, the party platform only speaks for those affiliated with the party and not necessarily the broader campaign. those who restrict their candidacies to their parties have it easier: the party platform is the campaign platform, this can be said for the liberals, for palaka, and the npc but not, at this point, for the np. as for the “vision thing,” for those who have achieved national office it can be assumed those who supported and elected them have an idea of what the candidate stood for and that is at the core for a bid for the presidency. but again: it seems to me to be profoundly ignorant of how the process works, to think or insist a platform should be demanded even before the campaign has been put together. in the past, campaign biographies fulfilled the part of the “vision thing,” and this was something quite evident in obama’s “dreams of our fathers.” it was also the case with the magsaysay credo and in fact a similar exercise already exists for escudero, prepared by a supporter and published on line. as for how people get supporters, how they build up the momentum for a campaign -you only have to look around. they go around. they talk to people. they get asked questions -the preferred method in a society that prefers to talk and listen rather than reading. no different from the town hall and living room to living room campaigns in the states; and also, something undertaken principally by means of radio and to a much lesser extent, tv.

  20. The Cusp

    I do not completely agree with your assessment, benign0.

    Even in mature parliamentary democracies of the West, the campaigns have become more “presidential” with the emphasis placed more on the cult of personality and less on party platforms.

    Also you have a tendency for parties of the left and right to move to the middle in order to win elections. Thus, their positions on various issues seem to blur. That is why there is a greater focus on personalities.

    So the phenomenon we see in the Phils is not unique or evidence for the intellectual bankruptcy as you put it. It is simply a general trend in societies with a higher rate of urbanisation, media proliferation, mass education and mobilisation.

  21. J_AG

    The country is classified as a low to middle income country. Progressive income taxes make up a smaller portion of the tax take.

    I cannot for the life me me understand how Cusp can say that the U.S. tax take is only 19% when their economy is around $14 trillion in size and they were running budget deficit of $1.5 trillion already? The U.S. budget is over $3 trillion in size. Actual U.S. expenditures for end September was already $3.5 trillion. The U.S. governments fiscal year ends in September.

    Cusp only refers to income taxes. The other large portion of taxes collected by the state are called entitlement taxes. (Social security, Medicare). Then you have excise taxes and duties. The U.S. is the only advanced economy without a national sales tax. (VAT) That is the large difference which the U.S. Federal government will move to once the health care reform issue is completed.

    Do not mistake classifying income taxes as taxes exclusively. The U.S. has the lowest personal income tax rate amongst the more developed industrial economies.

    Plus the engine for innovation in the U.S. has always been the so called Keynesian military-industrial complex and today the pharmaceutical-industrial complex.

    The shift to an algorithm based economy that is now ongoing which makes this blog possible is a perfect example.

    The more advanced economies are undergoing a structural change too.

    The creative destruction process of capitalism at work.

    For the Philippines the so called economic structure still bound by a primitive accumulation process in the primary sector, agriculture. We still have to learn to grow our own food.

    Now how are candidates going to address this whole thing called catch up? Government revenues are once again dropping to levels approaching the fiscal crisis that the country experienced in 2004.

  22. Carl

    “We also take prominence in exporting agricultural goods.”

    ***************************************************************

    That is news to the world-wide agricultural agencies who monitor food production. For decades now, we have lagged even our ASEAN neighbors in agricultural production and exports.

    We used to be a leader in rice production, once upon a time, culminating with the establishment of IRRI in Los Baños in 1960. Since then, it’s been a long steep slide for us as an agricultural powerhouse. Students from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Burma would come to the Philippines to learn agriculture in the ’60’s and ’70’s. They applied what they learned here to their home countries, with government and private sector support. These countries have since outgrown us by leaps and bounds, using their agricultural base to establish a rural middle class and increase consumption of industrial and other goods.

    In rice production, we have not only stagnated since the Marcos years, we have deteriorated. Infrastructure support has been absent and, in ASEAN alone, we trail Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. We produce a mere 1/4 of what Indonesia produces, 1/3 of what Vietnam produces and 1/2 of what Thailand produces.

    I must grant, however, that we do take a dubious sort of prominence when it comes to rice production. Thanks to Ondoy and other typhoons, we now have the distinction of being THE LARGEST IMPORTER OF RICE IN THE WORLD. So, for what it’s worth, there is some niche where we are a global leader.

    We used to be a frontrunner in oilseed production. But we never recovered from the disastrous coconut monopoly of the Marcos and Danding Cojuangco era. The rapacious exploitation of the coconut industry in the ’70’s and ’80’s led to disincentives to oilseed production, while Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Thailand, increased their acreage and productivity. We are still a major producer of copra, but we consume quite a large part of it. And, in volume terms, it is such a tiny part of oilseed production. While we produce around 1.5 million tons of coconut oil annually, Indonesia and Malaysia each produce 23 million tons of palm oil and palm kernel oil annually. Each of these ASEAN neighbors make us look like midgets in oilseed production, producing FIFTEEN TIMES more annually than we. How the roles have been reversed in the past few decades!

    Ironically, despite the damage he did to the Philippine economy, particularly to the coconut industry, Danding has come out smelling like roses. Now he is hailed as a leading captain of industry and political kingmaker.

    We also know about how the sugar industry was pillaged during the Marcos-Benedicto era. And how greed and the sugar quota killed innovation and productivity. It will take decades to recover from the sins and omissions of the past.

    Even in orchard fruit production, such as mangoes, durian, rambutan, etc. We have been overtaken by Thailand, Malaysia and India.

    About the only agricultural commodities we still can claim some prominence to are bananas and pineapples. However, these crops are largely controlled by an oligopoly of multinationals and their local partners. And if we don’t watch it, we will soon find ourselves losing out on those, as well.

  23. betterphilippines

    it’s our right to insist on platforms. doesn’t matter whether this is evidence of “profound ignorance of the process.” it wouldn’t hurt to ask now, would it?

    the process as it is ought to be changed. it has allowed politicians in this country to get away with running with nothing more than a manufactured image, a slogan, and lots of motherhood statements.

    now is a good time as any to ask for platforms. there’s really no reason to discourage it although i’m pretty sure the backers, handlers and supporters of substance-free candidates have all the reason to dismiss it since it’s a whole lot easier for them to just hide behind the prevailing process.

  24. mlq3

    it’s always a good time to ask for platforms. but consider, if you don’t take platforms seriously then sure, you can produce one, not as the product of a campaign that aims to unite leader and followers with common goals, but instead a platform that may or may not reflect the candidate’s views but which from the start lacks commitment by everyone else. on the other hand, if you take coalition building seriously, and if the point of unity is the candidate who appeals to various sides to work together, than it will take time. what u’ve been saying is, the time for that platform can’t possibly be now, though it will be quite soon: at the very least the end of the month, at the latest by february. now if a candidate has had years to get a campaign in gear then by all means a platform sooner than later; but if a candidate is new into the race, the process will take longer. that’s all.

    on the other hand there is a wealth of information out there if you really want it. all the more important because it will matter how the candidate today, compares with what the candidate stood for yesterday. ideally there should be a logical progession in the views expressed and positions taken.

  25. benign0

    now if a candidate has had years to get a campaign in gear then by all means a platform sooner than later; but if a candidate is new into the race, the process will take longer. that’s all.

    A person with true vision has a vision that predates any call to service. Being recent into a race is no excuse for lacking what it takes to run said race the right way.

    Noynoy lacks a platform that predates his official campaign and therefore lack what it takes to run for president with honour in a manner that befits a truly mature democracy.

    Instead he plans to run for president the old fashioned way — a way, a “process”, that it seems most of our “experts” are quite comfy with.

  26. mlq3

    that vision was spelled out in his speech saying why he decided to run for president. you confuse vision with platform. the platform is the political implementation of a vision, one that must be in harmony with the candidate’s but also takes into account the issues and policies brought to the table by the rest of the campaign. how do candidates spell out their vision? by means of speeches and articles, and for some, books. or a personal credo, like magsaysay. but for the team, the platform is the list of principles, priorities, and operational plan for the administration if elected.

    i’m racking my brains to find a “mature democracy” where the platform preceded the candidacy under the presidential system. if that were the case, the democrats could simply have adopted obama’s books as platform instead of hammering out the party platform -which, incidentally, would have turned out different if say, hillary had become the candidate, since each depended on a different and at times competing set of supporters and factions in their attempt to secure the nomination.

    i disagree with conrado de quiros that platform is somehow tengential or not the central point or easy to hammer out; it’s difficult to hammer out because a president doesn’t just govern alone, a president must lead a coalition and its components have to be on the same page. each component of a coalition brings specific advocacies to the table and a candidate, and later president, must balance the different groups and hammer out a compromise. there’s a similar process in parliamentary regimes where a coalition governs if no single party has a big enough majority; and in that case, even the platform of the dominant party must accomodate the platforms of the coalition partners.

    Today, Loren Legarda took out full page ads with the ff:

    Plataporta. Hindi puro porma.
    1. Malinis at epektibong pamamahala na nakatao at makabayan.
    2. Patas at pangmatagalang socio-economic development.
    3. Pangalagaan ang kalikasan at prayoridad sa climate change.
    4. Pahalagaan ang Kulturang Pilipino at karapatan ng katutubo.
    5. Makabuluhang kapayapaan sa Mindanao.
    6. Alagaan ang OFWs.

    Whether this meets anyone’s criteria isn’t even the point, as for now, it’s her personal expression of her own convictions -and we’d have to wait for the joint platform when her tandem with Villar is finally announced.

  27. benign0

    You wanna see a sample of a REAL platform? Refer to the top most row labelled “The BK Platform” in this table, mlq3.

    Its development is guided by a simple 4-step process that any schmoe can follow.

  28. mlq3

    And what happens when Noynoy, say, produces a platform that fulfills all your criteria? Incidentally by your metrics, do the existing LP, NPC, and PaLaKa platforms meet your standards?

  29. benign0

    And what happens when Noynoy, say, produces a platform that fulfills all your criteria? Incidentally by your metrics, do the existing LP, NPC, and PaLaKa platforms meet your standards?

    That remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: the nature of the “debate” around these bozos will change to something else besides “winnability”. 😉

  30. benign0

    As for the “platforms” of these “parties”, they are mainly motherhood statements that do not (1) state a categorical position on an issue, (2) imply specific actions that deliver measureable results based on said position, and (3) describe in precise terms how the Philippines is envisioned to be like in 2016 (compare it to the samples provided both in The Matrix and in the Roadmap 101 article).

    But then these are party platforms we are talking about here. So it is probably fair to say that by that nature they are at the right level of detail — enough detail for individual politicians within their ranks to use as guidelines for platforms that underpin their individual campaigns. So those criteria I describe above apply more to platforms of individual politicians.

    As you can see, politicians’ individual platforms can be used to assess (1) how consistent they are with their party platforms, (2) how consistent their media exposure chatter is during their campaign, and (3) how consistently they are performing as their term of office unfolds.

    See what I mean, MLQ3? A politicians’ individual platform actually serves as a nucleus for a truly world-class democratic practice.

  31. mlq3

    i’d like to see more examples of these individual platforms.

  32. benign0

    i’d like to see more examples of these individual platforms.

    Me too.

  33. The Cusp

    J_AG, by the US government’s own projections which can be found at http://www.gpo.access.gov:

    In 2010 the US tax receipts will amount to US$2.33 trillion, which is 15.8% of GDP estimated at US$14.73 tril. Its budgeted outlay was put at $3.6, resulting in a deficit of $1.26 tril or 8.5% of GDP.

    Tax receipts are forecast to be lower than usual due to the recession, but by 2015 onwards it will return to 19% which is its long run average, the figure I mentioned. It will still be incurring a deficit of 0.5 tril though.

    There is actually a whole body of literature that discusses why the US despite its tinkering with the tax system, always ends up with a tax collection to GDP ratio of 19%.

    Other experts also point out that the American penchant not to “soak the rich” or redistribute wealth is culturally inbred. It is supported by polling results. Fiscal conservatives in fact argue that when the state engages in such redistributive projects, it actually “crowds out” the work of volunteers and charities.

    Again, I am not arguing in favour of this philosophy, I am just making an observation. The Philippines, despite so many fiscal reforms seems to return to a seeming equilibrium point of somewhere between 12-14% (tax receipts to GDP).

  34. Hyden Toro

    I have not seen their BLUEPRINT OF ACCOUNTABILITY. How
    will they be accountable to us, voters, for their decisions.
    We have to grab their tails. So that we can get a hold on them,
    after they will be elected.

  35. J_AG

    Cusp you put the governments target budget at $3.6 trillion. That is the expenditure the government is spending for the fiscal year 2009.

    That is the share of government in the GDP. Please try to understand the English language. The government share in the economy is $3.6 trillion in todays dollars. The fact that they have a deficit still does not remove the fact that the government spent close to $3.6 trillion in nominal dollars in an economy that produces around $14 trillion that has contracted nominally. The rest was financed by future taxes – debt. That gap in government revenues is covered by short, medium and long term loans from the private sector (domestic and foreign) and from the trust fund of social security. Hence the share of U.S. government in the economy is now closer to 30% rather than in real terms.

    The U.S. government is projected to run budget deficits of close to $1 trillion going forward for the next ten years. Taxes are based on nominal values of GDP not the real rate. Hence the share of government in the economy is not simply based on its revenue collections but its accrual of future debt. (taxes)The advanced economies of the world like the U.S. are projecting an average GDP real growth rate of 2.5% for the next ten years. Total compounded GDP $180 trillion. Total national debt of the U.S. projected to go over 100% of GDP and they project that this will eventually propel the economy to grow faster than the growth of debt service.

    However the truth is that the U.S. will probably have to increase taxes to match the levels in Europe. The truth that the U.S. is the place where intergenerational income migration upward is the highest is a myth. The U.S. since they moved to free market fundamentalism has become the most unequal society amongst the advanced economies of the world. Why do you think reforming the public health care system in the U.S. is critical. Medicare and medicaid projections in the future will outstrip revenue collections. The U.S. is already moving towards establishing a European style welfare state.

    Tax collections are one thing but share of government in the GDP is another. The Philippine government was projecting a balanced budget for 2010. GDP rate of 4-5%. Revenue and expenditures equal at 14% -15% of GDP. GDP close to Php 10 trillion. However please note that taxes are based on the nominal or current values of money before inflation is deducted. GDP nominal rates in the Philippines were projected to grow over 10%. That is the inflation tax we pay. However the prevalence of a huge debt burden prevents the Philippines from building hard and soft capital. (Public capital infrastructure and human capital -education, health and welfare)

    There are three principal players in an economy. The government, business and labor. In the Philippine unfortunately only big business rules.

    Please do not forget the effects on GDP real and nominal growth rates by inflation and deflation. The advanced economies of the world are fighting deflation and for the rest of the world they are producing inflation.

    The U.S. dollar being the de facto world currency is creating a lot of dollars in the world to fight deflation at home.

    If you were a fixed income earner and relative inflation hits you with a 5-10% gain you pay more in taxes in real an nominal terms. Customs duties and VAT are based on nominal prices. Your pay shrinks before your very eyes.

  36. J_AG

    Economic fundamentalism of the extreme left and right are already dead.

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/12/europe-america-taxes-health-opinions-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/91123d9c-d216-11de-a0f0-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/opinion/13krugman.html?_r=1

    The battle over Keynes and Hayek is over. Keynes appears to be the victor.

    But for underdeveloped economies that battle is still not relevant.

    The role of the state and effective government become the vital ingredient.

    It was never the economy alone it was always the political economy stupid!

  37. The Cusp

    My dear J_AG,

    Let me point out to you that when I was comparing the tax effort or recipts/GDP ratios of the Phils and the US, I was using the convention of using nominal values.

    Of course when you run a deficit, that means that expenditures will exceed receipts. The US budget forecast is for their expenditures to hit 24.4% of GDP. In 2009 it will be about 28% but that is a short term anomaly due to the large fiscal stimulus and the negative GDP growth during this time.

    You can analyze the real rate of taxation taking into account the inflation rate all you want, but that wasn’t the issue here. The issue was the ability of governments to raise taxes as opposed to spending.

    The reason the Phils cannot finance its human, physical and social infrastructure needs is its low tax effort. Again I was trying to illustrate that just like in the US where the tax effort stays more or less the same despite tinkering, ours also returns to the same level after some adjustments.

    We can argue all we want as to what the rates are, but the phenomenon I think is the greater point and worth discussing as to the reasons for it.

  38. Carl

    I noticed that Loren Legarda’s alleged platform is brimming with Motherhood statements. As Manolo says, let’s wait for the details later. It’s funny though how, for an agri-based nation, we just ignore plans for agricultural development.

    As for Noynoy, Patricia Evangelista makes a good case about how vacuous this fellow is:

    “For months he has been leading headlines. The Aquino son, soaring on the wings of heroes. His rivals have not stepped back; the field is still open. A fever sweeps through the media, crowning Noynoy, the man who has yet to say anything that is not an echo of the old revolution. Remember my father. Remember my mother. Vote for me, and you vote for them. And that is all. It has been months since he became suddenly the nation’s moral choice, and there is little resembling platform, policy or position. Miracle, they call him. This is the revolution, say his supporters. This is Edsa. So he may not be as intelligent. So he may not be as articulate. So he may not have proven himself. And because we are faced with the usual array of the corrupt and the devout, we wait, we believe. And we are rewarded, in all its cinematic splendor, by a music video.”

    Evangelista alludes to the Aquino media hype, created by the elite, and led by the media machinery of Aquino allies, the Lopezes and Pangilinan:

    “A united GMA7 and ABS-CBN may seem like the best of metaphors for a united nation, but it says very much about the sort of man Noynoy Aquino is. Flanked by stars, surrounded by celebrities, content to ride on the waving banner stamped with his parents’ faces. There is no message, other than that personality is king. There are no voices, not even his. His defenders say it’s not the time for campaign—and yet that video rolls on and on in prime time television. You are not alone, they say, but who stands with you? Anne Curtis? Ate Shawie? Marielle Rodriguez? Just recently, Noynoy promised to give up his share of Hacienda Luisita, and yet denies knowing of eviction notices to farmers even while the case sits in the Supreme Court. Laza continues to march in rallies, five years after a bullet ripped a good man away. Nothing has changed, the same songs, the same names, the same injustices.”

    To be sure, it isn’t only the Aquino supporters who engage in smoke and mirrors. But it really makes us wonder if anyone out there is really sincere, and will really do the hard stuff that it takes to change our country for the better. It’s always been about self-interest, albeit packaged to make it more palatable to the public.

  39. The Cusp

    With respect to the Evangelista comments, let us bear in mind that it was not until after the death of Cory in August not even 90 days ago that Noynoy emerged as a contender. Before that, he had no intention of running for higher office.

    Among all the candidates, he is really the least prepared, so in terms of hammering out a platform, his time to prepare has been miniscule compared to the others.

    Secondly, while I disagree with benign0 with respect to some of his analysis, I do agree with his thesis that platforms matter very little in deciding the outcome of elections.

    This is because of many factors, not least of which is the fact that they only appeal to the likes of us, political junkies, who consist of maybe 5-10% of the vote. The vast majority of those who turn out find it too taxing to pour through such things or decide based on feelings and perceptions rather than rational arguments.

    In other parts of the world, elections are determined by a slim number of undecided or independents. In the US they are found in the “purple states” (neither democrat or republican). Candidates in wooing such voters have to provide detailed policies that spell out what their presidency will mean for them.

    In our case, platforms are not really as necessary to getting elected. Two things are more important: (1) support from local political “bosses” at the grass roots and (2) celebrity endorsers who bring with them their legions of fans.

    The appeal to the Aquino legacy found in the ads are trying to create a bandwagon effect, but also, subliminally point to “trust” as an election issue. The subtext is Noy is trustworthy because of the record set by his parents.

    As Raul Fabella says in an op-ed piece today, the experience under GMA demonstrates that “competence can be outsourced, probity cannot”.

    If that is the case then we should actually be seeking a list of each candidates core advisers and prospective appointees to cabinet. We will then know by the company that they keep, what sort of policies and programs they will promote when in office.

  40. mlq3

    Patricia makes assumptions that won’t be born out by events. But her assumptions are understandable because the Ã…quino campaign keeps its cards close to its chest. It should make the effort to update her on the work going on in terms of platform, etc. And also, if Pat spent some time reading the intervews etc. published by the Inquirer itself, she wouldn’t call him a lightweight, i think.

  41. mlq3

    Carl, I’m atill looking for details but I understand Joey Salceda, who is a pretty capable governor, believes our population is simply too large at this point to make aggie self-sufficiency viable. he pointed out that every year his province alone sustains hundreds of millions if not a billion plus in aggie damage every year, and as it is that means overall, the province is hard-pressed to register a surplus.he says, if i have it right, that as it is it would be much worse if such a large chunk of the population weren’t abroad: if the ofws were home the shortfall between domestic production and consumption requirements would be even greater. now others would contest this but it brings up a possibility to be considered: even if drastic population control is undertaken for a very long time to come the country may have exceeded its capacity to feed itself. but would any elected leader risk putting this before the people?

  42. Carl

    “. . . even if drastic population control is undertaken for a very long time to come the country may have exceeded its capacity to feed itself. but would any elected leader risk putting this before the people?”

    ******************************************************

    I beg to disagree that the Philippines has exceeded its capacity to feed itself, Manolo. Joey Salceda is wearing blinders when he compares aggie self-sufficiency in typhoon-prone Camarines with the entire country. That is the problem with our politicians, they resort to conventional and time-worn methods of thinking. Especially in the field of agriculture.

    We should realize that Mindanao is the logical and natural breadbasket of the Philippines. The lands are fertile and it is 95% typhoon-free. It only needs infrastructure, capital and techology in order to provide the country with enough food to feed itself. Mindanao can provide enough food of almost any kind for the Philippines. This is not to say that Luzon and Visayas should be totally abandoned for agri production. But the thrust should be in Mindanao. While Luzon and Visayas can be reserved for seasonal produce, fisheries, and, perhaps, livestock, which don’t suffer typhoons so adversely.

    The fact is that agriculture has been controlled by the landed elite who call themselves farmers only in name. They pay lip service to agriculture, but they do not really know how to produce the most from the land. Instead, they try to monopolize and politicize agriculture, as in the case of the notorious Sugar Bloc, the Coconut Monopoly, the Benedicto-Marcos rape of the sugar industry and the Banana and Pineapple oligopoly in Mindanao.

  43. johnonline

    Why is everybody writing about “Noynoy” and nothing for Gibo? I know popularity will make a President just like what happened to Erap. But a lot is expected from a President. Besides, a lot of “rich people” are joining the Noynoy bandwagon…baka pag nanalo siya, lumaki ang utang na loob niya sa mga yun…

    Anyway, I’m a Gibo supporter and I am not paid by anyone. We have our own set of choices and I already picked mine.

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