Railroading begins?

Tabulation of Maguindanao votes starts and the account, as published, bears thinking about in terms of Christian Monsod’s observations about the process (see yesterday’s entry):

Throughout the day, De Lima railed at the continued refusal of Santos to allow her and Brillantes to question the municipal board chairmen. “Why your honor, can we not ask questions?” De Lima asked, stressing each word.

At one point, De Lima said: “This is all part of railroading of the proceedings.”

Santos said the opposition can bring all their motions and objections before the National Board of Canvassers. Earlier in the day, he opened the canvassing by saying: “We are here to uncover the truth.”

But he said that since his was only a “special board, the rules of an ordinary provincial board of canvassers” did not apply.

Throughout the day’s exchange, TEAM Unity counsel George Garcia agreed with the rulings of Santos.

The opposition lawyers are asking partisan (obviously) but sensible questions. A blogger who says she hates politics, Lucid Unreality, had this to say:

Abalos is right, an election took place in Maguindanao because of the “proof” accompanying the certificates of canvas. No one’s questioning that. The integrity of those certificates is what I’m worried about. How sure are we that it wasn’t tampered with? It’s that simple. And for someone who hates politics and wants nothing of it, I’m pretty darn affected by such a simple fact really.

And the Supreme Court seems to be hinting it would prefer no proclamation at this time: SC defers decision on Maguindanao canvassing:

Although no temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued, Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the high court is hoping the COMELEC will defer any action that will render Pimentel’s petition moot.

If canvassing pushes through and the 12th senator is proclaimed, Marquez said legal remedies are available to revert the ruling of the COMELEC.

Meanwhile, a fire-breathing Chairman: Abalos on critics: They can jump to hell. See an OFW Living in Hong Kong for his views on the Comelec Chairman’s “courage”. Another fire-breathing official: PNP mulls probe, gun raps vs defiant, pistol-packing Bedol.

Another PR problem: Philippines likely to exceed 2007 deficit goal – JP Morgan. If the cornerstone of this administration’s PR is that it has the deficit -and thus, the economy- firmly in hand, what does it say if the foreign observers that once sang its praises, say that government’s fiscal grip is slipping?

Meanwhile, it was announced that Finance seeks toll fee tax but today, it’s Executives debate VAT on toll. Which is it? The Business Mirror editorial says government’s trying to find creative ways to further squeeze the public:

Here’s the rub: toll-way operators currently don’t pay VAT since, they say, the old law doesn’t specifically tell them to do so. So counterintuitively, Malacañang spin masters thought that if the law doesn’t say so, it could also mean the government is not prevented by the law from collecting VAT from the toll ways.

It’s a kind of creative and funny logic. We’d like to laugh but we can’t because of its possible negative implications. The government hopes to collect at least a billion pesos but it’s not certain how much it would cost ordinary Filipinos. It’s certain that toll operators would pass the extra cost to consumers by raising fares.

Economically, that would mean higher transport costs to vehicle owners and operators, which could cascade in terms of higher bus and FX fares for commuters; higher prices of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and cereals as viajeros are likely to pass on the cost to consumers; higher cost of business to entrepreneurs big and small on top of the already high transactions cost (read: expensive electricity, high port users’ charges and high cost of long-distance calls) that they currently bear; and which could ultimately spell economic difficulties to wage earners.

But the real question is, why isn’t government focusing on governance?

In hindsight, the real issue here is probably not all about taxes but governance – or the lack of it. If we take it from, Sen. Ralph Recto, tolls are “VAT-able” and have always been covered by the original VAT law. What motorists are paying right now is already VAT-inclusive – supposedly.

That means we have always been paying VAT at the toll and there’s no need to raise toll rates. If his presumption is right, the question now is “where’s the money?” Does it mean the toll operators like PNCC were collecting VAT money and pretending it’s their money?

Now you can imprison your critics and steal elections, and businessmen won’t mind, but mention taxes and businessmen suddenly become rebellious. And so, the President has to pour oil on troubled waters: Arroyo assures no new taxes on telcos.

Not just the fiscal grip’s loosening: the grip on the patronage position holders has slipped, too. The insubordination continues. 77 GOCC execs tender resignations:

The 23 GOCCs account for only one-fifth of the 117 government corporations, including government financial institutions (GFIs), whose heads were asked to tender their courtesy resignations last June 9.

In other economics news, some good news: Government saves P14.6B on interest payments in first 5 months. But Bangko Sentral isn’t happy with the strength of the Peso: Smaller BOP surplus eyed to curb Peso rise.
President will insist on her prerogative to pick and choose which senate summons her officials will heed. Also, AFP warns generals linking military to summary executions. The executive-military resistance to being taken to task for human rights violations faces a formidable adversary: the Supreme Court. There’s an explanation of why this is so, in Newsbreak, Atty. Teddy Te points out presidential prerogatives may end up severely circumscribed by the Supreme Court, which is poised to exercise some formidable, though little known, powers. See also, SC Takes New Role in National Debate.
Original copies of RP-china MOAs stolen, not lost — NBI The plot thickens?

And this is nice: Al Gore lauds Bacolod NGO for climate change solution.

Overseas, a highly relevant opinion piece on Why Indonesia needs a new social policy?

The question is: Why is Indonesia so far behind its neighboring countries? And why it is the slowest Asian country to recover from a financial crisis?

Government policies show there are two approaches to the problem: Focussing on economic growth and maintaining macro stability through tight fiscal policy — and developing partial ad-hoc social policy to tackle poverty through a social safety net program.

In the first approach the economic policy concentrates on how the economy could grow with very little cost. It concentrates on how government spending could become efficient by reducing subsidies and fostering privatization.

But the poverty reduction program including the social safety net deals with the problem of poverty in an ad-hoc manner.

In short, there is a disconnect between economic policy and social policy.

See also Free Trade End Game in Seoul, and Taiwan’s Politics are Growing Up. And What fish markets tell us about the economy.

Michael Bloomberg is the money candidate and the press loves him for it. Great opening lines:

Michael Bloomberg, who was never really a Republican, became one because it was the easiest way for him to become mayor of New York.

Now Bloomberg has become an independent, because it is the easiest way for him to become president of the United States.

In politics, this is what we call principle.

History Unfolding says President Bush is a kind of decorative monarch, and that his sinister prime minister is Vice President Dick Cheney:

…the Bush Administration has led us to disaster essentially by gutting, and ignoring, the whole federal structure as it has evolved, literally, since the beginning of the Republic. Not only the bureaucracy–that Republican bogeyman for 65 years–but also the Cabinet, including loyalists like John Ashcroft as well as moderates like Colin Powell–have been completely bypassed by Cheney’s office. National Security Advisor Rice, as has been known for some time, lost her autonomy to Cheney during Bush’s first term (and is now in renewed battles with him as Secretary of State over Guantanamo and, very likely, Iran.)…

President Bush for the last six years has focused on “staying on message.” It is beginning to look, really and truly, as though that is all he does. Like a British monarch giving a series of King’s speeches, he is the public face of the Administration’s policy but he is neither designing it or directing it except in the most general (and never-varying) terms. And indeed, some of his own most deeply held beliefs–such as the need to promote democracy–have not really been reflected in policy because the Vice President does not share them.

and check this out: Facebook v MySpace – a class divide:

Ms Boyd also conjectures that the US military’s recent decision to ban personnel from using sites including MySpace is evidence of social fissures in the armed forces. “A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because there’s a division, even in the military. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook.”

In the punditocracy, Julis Fortuna says de Venecia’s reelection as Speaker is a sure thing. Jose Ma. Montelibano is all praises for Gawad Kalinga; they deserve praise, indeed, but I continue to think their great crisis will come, when they realize, though they refuse to see it now, that they will need to be politically involved sooner, rather than later. Heroism is slipping, to my mind, too freely and easily from their tongues; it requires sacrifice and confrontation. And by the way, mass housing provides tax perks, besides big business: Number of firms availing of tax perks rises: Mass housing sector a booming business.

Generation gap: a letter to the editor from a grandmother complains of Immature politics, disrespectful solons. For for the younger generation’s views, see The Purple Phoenix Talks about Philippine Politics

In the blogosphere, blog@AWBHoldings does a little sleuthing concerning accusations that congressmen were trying to extort bribes to approve presidential appointments. This is a bad season for congressmen: Anti-smuggling chief says congressmen pressuring him to release smuggled goods.

Patsada Karajaw dissects various political doctrines that have been proposed as a result of the May elections.

Philippine Commentary further dissects the Anti-Terrorism law.

My Inquirer Current entry would have benefited from reading the views and questions of Reyna Elena regarding Koreans in the Philippines:

But as hundreds of us pile up at POEA, line up the intenet cafe to browse for jobs overseas, fly out daily to places as far as Azerbajian and Honduras where we think we can find our Philippine Dream (*saglit lang. me Philippine Dream ba?), – ANYWAY – check out who are the people flying to Manila in droves!!! It’s the Koreans and the Chinese!!! And look! They are coming to our dear kawntri for the very same reasons why we are all leaving the Philippines?!

In La Vida Lawyer, there’s an utterly fascinating letter penned by Marcelo H. del Pilar about the social and political dynamics of Filipinos in Spain. It reads like it could have been written about any Filipino organization, anywhere, and the leadership fights that inevitably occur.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

82 thoughts on “Railroading begins?

  1. If I were sitting in a jury in judgement between the arguments, and as a jury member (a member doesn’t have to be anybody who may know any points in law. my sister a nurse served the jury in a criminal case and came up with the decision far wiser than Davide) I would give the case to DJB without any doubt and any reservation, based on all evidence presented. The case of Estrada plunder is another one, that could have been taken during the impeachment and the trial following. I was not there during those events and didn’t know to what point the impeachment gone through, before the CJ made Ms Arroyo the President, now I conclude the backdoor passage if not unconstitutional, but it was both…

  2. Vic,

    Well you’ve reached your decision but I hope there are some still waiting for DJB’s answer.

  3. vic, based on all evidence presented? what evidence? do you know the difference between evidence and conjecture? your daughter, as a layman juror, could have reached a “decision” far wiser than davide’s. but a jury’s verdict is limited to issues of fact, not law, and consists of “yes” or “no” answer to questions formulated by the judge who applies technical knowledge of the law. if a jury’s verdict is wrong, it can be disregarded by means of the court’s judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

    in law, as in most disciplines, “a little learning is a dangerous thing”. judging is an awesome responsibility and cannot be exercised correctly through feelings, emotions or prejudice. this is true whether in canada, the u.s., the philippines or elsewhere.

  4. and vic, the cj did not make arroyo president. the constitution, as interpreted by the SC, the final arbiter, did. the oath, administered by the cj, did not make her president either. and you want to be a judge on this issue?

  5. mlq3, contrary to what you insist again and again, the 2007 elections did not necessarily reflect total “dislike” for the administration. your prejudiced eyes just refuse to see its overwhelming victory in congress and local government. just because a few more anti-administration senators were added to the already obstructive senate does not spell absolute rejection of the president – a picture you are always trying to portray.

    in terms of “rejection” my own score is 9 victories (i.e., 2 botched impeachments, 2 coup attempts, 3 mini-edsas, plus the 2 victories already mentioned) for PGMA, as against 1 loss (the 2007 senatorial elections).

  6. bencard, i don’t contest your list of victories for the president: 2 impeachments, etc. but i can’t agree with your reasons for mitigating the implications of the defeat of the president’s slate in 2007. it has, to my mind, nullified her previous victories because it has put her on the road to being truly, and fully, a lame duck.

    only two presidents have faced such a thorough repudiation at the polls: quirino in 1951 and marcos in 1971, though the president’s current debacle is not nearly as total as quirino’s was, but is close to marcos’ in 1971. that defeat turned him into a lame duck, possibly accelerated plans for martial law.

    as to why i believe it’s the senatorial election that counts, and why i disagree with you in terms of the local and house elections, please refer to my article here:


    the reasons, in brief, are: no president, ever, has ever lost the house: see


    and it is no major achievement, then, to retain it;

    and there are long-standing reasons why the senatorial election has been seen both by presidents, their opponents, and most importantly, the public, as the proper forum for rendering a verdict on an incumbent:


    and third, the means by which the president achieved a victory in the house and locally also explain why she did so badly in the senate:


    the data is there, in the article, covering elections since the modern-day house was established in 1907 and our present senate was first elected in 1941. i’d be interested in your comments and welcome any counter-arguments you may propose.

  7. mlq3, thanks a lot for the pcij sites and references. but i am not arguing about the 2007 senatorial elections. i agree it was a loss and i counted it as a loss (albeit the only loss) for the president out of ten in terms of being “liked” or “disliked” by the people.

    you use the term “lame duck” as a character flaw or some sort of shameful status. a lame duck, in politics, is one whose tenure is at an end with no present opportunity for re-election. pgma’s term ends in 2010 whether she or any one else likes it or not. she is a lame duck not because she is “despised” or “rejected”. she would still be a lame duck even if the whole team unity ticket had won.

    therefore, i don’t think your proposition, that the 2007 senatorial election result “nullified” PGMA’s nine victories out of ten, is true.

  8. mlq3,

    While I agree with you that the recent defeat of the administration delivered a message from the electorate to PGMA, I don’t agree on the “lame duck” status.

    The trends you show do not take into the account that never in our history did so many of our people (I don’t say the majority) doubt the wisdom of having an upper house, except now. While it may have been because of the spin put on it by Cha-Cha spinmeisters, the damage has been done.

    Even during Quirino’s complete defeat in 1961, probably due to the “what are we in power for” tirade of Sen. Avelino, the Senate was still seen as a counter-balance to the power of the President. That is why a President’s loss in a mid-term election is mostly considered paving the way for a “lame duck” status because it means that the Senate would just “filibuster” everything in the President’s legislative agenda. The two party-system can also be attributed for that set-up.

    The Senate, at present, does not have the political capital to pull off such a scenario. The Senate as an institution cannot afford to be seen as obstructionist. Yes, they may bombard the executive with another round of legislative inquiries but with only three years left in the President’s term, many would now be jockeying for the presidential election.

  9. what’s check-mated middle class moralism after estrada’s fall, is that it’s essentially superficial: many, many sins are forgiveable if done behind closed doors; estrada wouldn’t even accept that, he had to go; another president does the same, maybe more, maybe much worse, but looks, acts, speaks, according to middle and upper class conventions, keeps her hands off the big players, restricts thuggery to those who don’t belong, thus, patience turns out to be infinite.

    Definitely agree. The GMA administration is at least keeping up appearances (voices out concern over political killings, calls for fair elections, makes a big fuss over thew rule of law) even if in reality it is the perpetrator terrible things (main suspect in political killings, cheats big-time in elections, number one lawbreaker.) And for a significant portion of the upper/middle class, keeping up appearances is good enough. As long as their own lives aren’t terribly inconvenienced, these people would rather turn a blind eye on the administration’s crimes and just rationalize things away.

  10. “the 2007 elections did not necessarily reflect total ‘dislike’ for the administration. your prejudiced eyes just refuse to see its overwhelming victory in congress and local government”

    I cannot call that “victory” overwhelming unless majority of the admin candidates had opposition to begin with. the reason the senate race is a more believable measure of the people’s rejection of GMA is bcoz in that race, the people were given the choice: admin, opposition, or independent. unlike the local races were the people were given a choice between KAMPI or LAKAS. Or Admin vs Dynasties. or worse vs worse. spy vs spy. is that a choice? in contests where a fresh new face emerged to offer the people another choice, that candidate won. so this sorry admin cannot claim absolution based on the results of the local elections. were the people given enough choices, or were all admin local candidates contested, i wouldn’t be surprised if the house today is opposition or independent dominated.

    and I thought lame duck means having lost the capability to command. you would think that applies esp now w/most appointed officials not bothering to tender their resignations despite GMA’s wish for them to do so. I guess they dnt want her to have a “free hand” in dividing the spoils eh?

    to DJB, I agree that Davide opened a pandora’s box when he rushed in to swear GMA in. good intentions with disastrous consequences. but can we damn him? who are we to speak when we now have the benefit of hindsight? did you object to his action right from the very start? or were you like others, ecstatic just to have ERAP gone from Malacanang regardless of who will replace him? i had an inkling of what GMA would be like, unwilling to join the EDSA 2 crowd (and my professor even showing his disappointment of me when I refused to join him and the rest of the school he invited to troop there, telling me: sayang ka) but at the same time hoping that I was wrong. That all that manipulative ad and campaigning the GMA camp showed before her being VP and earlier was just that. but GMA proved all my worst fears true. but you are right in calling attention to this particular past and in pointing out Puno’s impending mistake (and it will be a great mistake) in broaching heretofore unknown “powers” of the judiciary.

    Ever heard the saying “all roads leading to perdition were paved with good intentions?”

    What will happen with Puno’s precedent: The judiciary will gain a power that will tip the balance of govt in its favor. Perhaps not enough immediately, but gradually, with preceeding SC claiming more and more power until the executive is reduced to being a figure head. perhaps.

    everyone is longing for a stop to these killings. in the absence of gov’t action, we look for a savior.

    “create chaos, and in the middle of it, step forward as the people’s savior, and they will embrace you, not knowing you were the cause of it in the 1st place.”

    Is Puno reaching for more power? Or does he just feel like doing it for the sake of posterity and be shown as a human rights champion in our nation’s history?

    With that said, I offer this as reflection:

    The Republic was in disarray. More and more outlying systems claiming for independence. Meanwhile the Senate is locked in inaction, lacking a strong leader to push for a concensus. Secretly, in an unknown planet, a massive clone army is being produced and trained, ready for the Republic’s use.

    Who moved to have Senator Palpatine voted in as Supreme Chancellor? Who moved to have the clone army used by the Republic?

    Yoda and his Jedis.

    Another one: Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from the desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.

    Desiring to do good doesn’t mean what you would do will be.

  11. “The GMA administration is at least keeping up appearances (voices out concern over political killings, calls for fair elections, makes a big fuss over thew rule of law) even if in reality it is the perpetrator terrible things (main suspect in political killings, cheats big-time in elections, number one lawbreaker)”

    ‘Lip service’ has never been portrayed as clear as this.

    “And for a significant portion of the upper/middle class, keeping up appearances is good enough. As long as their own lives aren’t terribly inconvenienced, these people would rather turn a blind eye on the administration’s crimes and just rationalize things away.”

    Which is the greater tragedy of it. The ‘supposed’ intelligentsia settling for ‘lip service.’

    nasa huli ang pagsisisi.

  12. jaxius, as alluded to in my immediately preceding post, “lame duck” status is a condition arising where a president has either lost a re-election attempt or cannot be re-elected because of term limits. in the latter case, which is what we now have under the 1987 constitution, every elected president is a lame duck from day one, and continues in office for six years until his successor is sworn in.

    in our present set up, losing a mid-term election for senators should not affect the president’s ability to lead. the senate is, and will be, judged by its own performance and value to the government and as you stated, and i agree, it cannot afford to be regarded as obstructionists. it cannot paralyze the president in the guise of “check and balance”, and hope to find favor in the eyes of the people and a result-oriented society.

  13. bencard,
    i wanted to return the verdict as a member of the jury, not as judge, between the arguments brought forth by you and some other on the defense panel against the argument brought by djb,and to my judgement based on the arguments, or in the case of the trial, the summations, i still gave the case to DJB, you can appeal the jury verdict to SC and CJ can reverse it, according to his Interpretation of the Constitution and still not his decision but that of the SC based on the Constitution although any common sense knew that it was a perversion of the constitution as we all knew what happened to the CJ davide now. he got his payback…

  14. Ben,

    That’s why if you would read again my post, you would probably deduce that the meaning you gave wasn’t the meaning I was alluding to.

    Another meaning of “lame duck” is someone who is innefective, a weakling. That is the reason that if the Senate can frustrate the President’s legislative agenda, he is also considered a “lame duck” President.

  15. a more useful question might be, how much of a lame duck should a president be, going into the last part of the term?

    this is where the mid-terms matters most. a president who puts together a strong coalition, builds momentum that can occupy the remainder of the term and provide a helpful push to every term-restricted president’s goal: anointing a successor.

    and of course, a strong mid-term is a vote of confidence and also provides political capital and momentum to get rid of eixsting obstacles that administration claims: such as the upper house, the presidential system, etc. etc.

    put another way: a strong showing would have led to the president defining what the next three years are about. but victory wasn’t achieved. worse, the defeat was so large that her ability to retain command of the ruling coalition is restricted. first was the lakas-kampi cannibalism; now comes the insubordination and infighting in the cabinet and the foot-dragging by her gocc appointees.

    the president really only has this year, and next, to get major things done, to set the stage for a graceful exit -and to be a major player in the next presidential derby. being unpopular, she loses one major power: that of endorsing a successor. being apparently unwilling, or unable, to discipline her allies, she is also showing paralysis or weakness which will embolden her critics, and tempt her allies to start drifting away the moment the race begins in earnest.

    normally by 2009 everything would be on hold as everyone prepares for 2010. the country on autopilot might come sooner.

  16. i don’t know about PGMA being “unpopular” the way you seem to imply, mlq3, but what of not being able to anoint a successor? i can’t recall any president (living at the end of his term) in our nation’s history who successfully “endorsed” his successor, do you? correct me if i’m wrong but i don’t think Osmena endorsed Roxas, Quirino endorsed Magsaysay, Garcia endorsed Macapagal, Macapagal endorsed Marcos, Marcos endorsed Cory, Cory endorsed Ramos, Ramos endorsed Erap and Erap endorsed PGMA. Did they?

    in philippine politics where loyalty is as real as an oxymoron, political endorsement, without more (as in bankrolling) is an overrated gesture that hardly benefits the endorser.

    with regards to the lakas-kampi infighting, they can slug it out to their heart’s content but why should it affect the president? they still both vow continued support for the president, don’t they?

    as to the “insubordinates” at the palace, i have just one message: remember the “hyatt 10” (where art they now?). sometimes, people over estimate their own importance, you know – legends in their own mind. PGMA should fire them, pronto!

  17. “the president really only has this year, and next, to get major things done, to set the stage for a graceful exit”

    I don’t think she can set up anything, much less a graceful exit. Most who hate her are all waiting their turn to burn her at the stake. Which is why I hold with de Quiros’ belief. That the worse is still to come. And that GMA will refuse to go gently into the night, and will go, kicking and screaming. Her only option is to go Marcos. She will fall eventually, no matter how many years it takes. But she will do it anyway.
    I just wish that after GMA, the nation will finally learn to punish everyone that scourged her.

  18. Three years is still three years. GMA can still salvage something out of the burning house that is her administration. Maybe, years after her term, “revisionist” (read: paid) historians will claim that whatever economic and political gains the country experienced have their foundations on her administration, just like some claimed that Clinton’s success can be traced to Reagan’s.

    However, recent moves of the administration seem much more intent on covering the bases after her term rather than turning this thing around.

  19. jaxius, and to whom PGMA’s current economic success (6.9% growth rate, along with many other positive economic indicators) do you trace, Erap? Ramos? Cory? How about Marcos? why would it be a “revisionist” activity for future historians to credit PGMA for her own accomplishments?

    Can you just cite one example of the administration’s recent moves towards “covering the bases”, rather than just doing what is necessary and proper as any responsible official would do?

  20. Bencard,

    I agree with you. GMA is not a lame duck. She is a cornered rat.

  21. bencard, prior to 1987 presidents could run for reelection, and most suffered defeat. post-1987, with the one-term limit, presidents have tried to endorse a a successor. aquino endorsed ramos (to the extent that she broke with tradition and attended his inauguration). ramos endorsed de venecia. estrada went kaputt before he could endorse anyone, gma, if she steps down, will endorse someone, formally or informally.

  22. is that the meanest you can say about her this time, buencamino? you must be losing your touch. what a shame!

  23. Bencard,

    Pardon me, but I have always been distrustful of economic indicators. I don’t think they equate to automatic economic accomplishments. For one, we don’t know whether that 6.9% economic growth pertains to the majority of the Filipino people or only to the Ayalas, the Sys, the Conjuangcos and other monopolistic families.

    When I speak of revisionism, I made a very bold (if not stupid) prediction that we will have solid economic gains years after GMA’s term. And when I mean solid, I mean such time that the government does not need to claim that people who say they are poor need more lessons on industry and contentment rather than job opportunities.

    Just because you asked for one, do you agree that the appointment of Merceditas Gutierrez as Ombudsman was run after the corrupt to the ends of the earth?

  24. jaxius, i see your point but how else do we measure our country’s economic progress except through traditionally accepted economic indicators? should we rather rely on surveys that have been proven unreliable again and again?
    or shall we ask every single inhabitant whether or not they “feel” poor, or go “hungry” from time to time because for some unstated reason, they miss some meals?

    if the strength of the economy benefits the ayalas, the sys, the cojuancos, what do you think would they do with their excess money? they can only live in one mansion, drive one rolls royce, sail one yacht, fly one private jet, at a time. the rest of their windfall would go to more investments, more business expansions, more employees, more tax-deductible contributions, more noblesse obligee expenditures to make themselves feel good and not greedy. aren’t all these economically beneficial to the country as a whole? these may all sound idealistic but they are more grounded on practicality on the part of said individuals.

    as to people who say they are poor, not because of lack of self-esteem, confidence, industry, and resourcefulness, but because of lack of job opportunity, i cite again the taho vendor who rose to affluence solely upon self-reliance and industry, not on dole outs and opportunities created for him by others. as the trite saying goes, you can bring the horse to the water but you can’t make him drink.

    as to merceditas gutierez, yes i think she was hired to prosecute people accused of corruption but only within her territorial jurisdiction – certainly not the ends of the earth. btw, i personally think she is doing a respectable job. nevertheless, i don’t think her hiring is a recent move by GMA to “cover the bases”.

  25. Ben,

    The perceived economic strength of the country will only be an economic gain when it trickles down to the people. The country is not composed of the rich alone.

    You have to admit that poverty remains systemic in our country and no amount of sugarcoating the various economic indicators can obfuscate such fact. Our people have long ago rejected the concept of Smith’s “invisible hand” and laissez faire economics. The rich are not fools who will willingly part with their money. In fact, I sometimes wonder whether some rich people donate really because of the goodness in their hearts or because the donation is tax-deductible.

    I once nearly came to banging an executive’s head to a wooden table because he said, “let’s stop all this non-sense about asking the government to do its job, we can do more by focusing on gawad kalinga and its charity work.” Gawad Kalinga people, I must admit, have their hearts on the right place but I sometimes fear that all the successes of their initiative have gone to their head. Imagine, some of their members already think that Gawad Kalinga can supplant the government in the delivery of basic services.

    All of those things are beneficial, yes. But for how long? Are we not mistaking first aid for the cure?

    The taho vendor you cite is just like a false positive in a pregnancy test, an exception. Exceptions do not negate the rule.

    With the level of corruption in the government, you think Tanodbayan Gutierrez is doing a good job? C’mon, man. Open your eyes.

  26. the rich are not fools either to hide their excess money under their mattress and check it from time to time to see if it’s growing. there is a reason why these people are rich – many of them know how to multiply what they have legitimately. who cares if they are motivated by tax deductibility, or any other motivation. as long as they are not violating any law, their contributions and donations, along with the taxes they pay on their income etc. help the economy,

    the taho vendor is just one example that self-improvement through one’s own effort, is doable.

    gutierrez cannot stop people from committing corruption. she is no god. she can only prosecute those who are caught.

  27. Ben,

    I can’t remember who said it, but I remember someone saying that behind enormous wealth lies a crime.

    The taho vendor might not be alone. The fact that he is not alone does not detract from the fact that poverty is systemic in the Philippines. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. While economists say that he “invisible hand” is fair, in theory at least, it is also cruel. It is the government’s duty to level the inequitous playing field. Is the government doing a good job at that?

    Her duty is not only to prosecute those who are caught. She must also catch them, that’s why she empowered to investigate. While she is no God to stop and prevent corruption, the law imposes such duty on her.

  28. what are you suggesting, jaxius, confiscate the earnings of the “rich” and distribute them to the “poor”? that is a sure-fire formula to make them all poor (remember the former soviet union, among others). as if the government has never done anything to “level” the playing field, what can it do to implant the taho-vendor’s grit and determination into the head of the underachievers? pour the water into the horse’s mouth to make it drink?

    corrupt people do their nefarious deeds in the dark. they usually don’t announce it to the public. before you can assess gutierrez’ performance in catching them, find out first if she has sufficient logistics, including personnel, to conduct large-scale, nationwide investigations given the “level of corruption in the government” as you said. btw, how is the “level” of corruption determined – by the number of suspicions, accusations, indictments, prosecutions, or convictions?

  29. DJB,

    Your articles and sections in the Charter would have been noteworthy.

    Nevertheless, there are some instances that “imply” that the DISABILTY that you wrote above need not be medical in nature.

    By your own account, you stated that CJ Davide came to EDSA to swear in PGMA after he was informed of Ex-Pres. Estrada’s permanent DISABILITY.

    On the other hand, ex-Pres. Estrada executed a letter on that same day which states:

    “By virtue of the provisions of Section 11, Article VII of the Constitution, I am hereby transmitting this declaration that I am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my office. By operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice-President shall be the Acting President”

    So based on his own letter, the CJ would have come to EDSA anyway (depending on how long EDSA 2 would have lasted based on Estrada’s scenario).

    Though the SC didn’t give much worth to this letter as they later found him to have resigned, Estrada would reiterate the issue when he was sued by 2 French nationals in the High Court of Nantes in France.

    As his answer to the suit, he wrote:

    “Due to a criminal conspiracy between high-ranking military officers of the Armed Forces of the
    Philippines, politicians, big business and the clergy, I was compelled to inform Congress of my
    temporary DISABILITY to perform my function as president,” (do take note that the CJ wasn’t mentioned)

    So both sides clearly understood that the disability need not be medical in nature. They just differed in the duration of it.

    Setting aside Estrada’s claim of the criminal nature of the conspiracy in his letter to Nantes France; what is implied in the letter is that when the supposed conspiracy came into full force; to his mind and/or his lawyers’, he was effectively DISABLED.

    But then all of these could be debunked if you could provide your concerned provisions of the Charter.

  30. Oh wow, bencard at his very best! Now I am wondering why I can see and agree with you on almost all your arguement while others dont? Is being both in the US give us a different view of things? If that is soo Im just glad I went decided to come here 6 years ago against the willof my family and some freinds who thought I already have and could have a much better life in Manila than here

    BTW, I m rooting for Mike Bloomberg for President…

    And I was following the defeat of the immigration Bill in CNN while on vacation in remote yet blissful island of New York, Bush just look so pathetic! I think the sight is worst than being lameduck.

  31. thanks, rego, for your kind words. i’m glad there’s at least one who sees the world as i do. i’m sure you would have the same sentiments as you have now even if you stayed. but i agree with you, from a distance you can see the bigger perspective of the whole, not just a big part of it.

    bloomberg is an excellent executive. he will make a good president.

    the immigration bill appears to be dead for now. the status quo remains and the whole country will just muddle through the multiplying problems. i wish they could come up with solutions that in themselves would not be a problem.

  32. I never said confiscate. But, I guess some rich people really see taxation as confiscation. But isn’t our taxation system supposed to be progressive? Well, I guess the Filipinos are just a bunch of underachieving whiners. Maybe they’re just so stupid not to drink the water the government gives them.

    If Gutierrez can’t do what she is supposed to do with what she’s got, maybe she should resign and let somebody else try to do the impossible. You don’t know the level of corruption here? Maybe you should come back here so that you can see for yourself. I suppose it isn’t one of the reasons why you left.

    You see, corruption isn’t really that hard to spot here. You can see traffic enforcers and policemen extorting from drivers in broad daylight. Fixers ply their trade freely. In all government offices, ghost deliveries and kickbacks are a staple fare. Are these things happening from where you are?

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