It’s up to the Supremes

The train, it seems, has entered the station: Zubiri wins Maguindanao; Pimentel pins hope on SC ruling. The thing is, what did Zubiri win, exactly? Anyway, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court today, as Fight for 12th Senate seat shifts to Manila, with the Chief Justice making broad hints: Puno reiterates wish for freeze of canvass. Is he running out of time? Party-list, senatorial winners could be proclaimed June 30. Could, or will?

Meanwhile, PNP: Where’s arrest order on Bedol? Well, maybe Malacañang offers Bedol protection is related?

Revamp? What cabinet revamp? Arroyo reappoints CA’s 12 bypassed Cabinet members (see also 12 Cabinet men get new papers). While there’s this naughty story, Palace in-fighting worsens; Ronnie Puno tipped to replace Ermita, I still believe the real story is one of plain insubordination: the president made a wish, which might as well have been a command -and people didn’t obey.

JDV allies say he is GMA’s anointed, although Jose de Venecia, supposedly, followed the President around Singapore like a lonely puppy. But the President’s still being coy: Ermita: Race for House speakership just a numbers game. The word war continues among her other allies: Shut up, Palace tells Congressman Teves.
A new front? US military offers help in war vs NPA.

My column for today is It’s up to the Supremes. See also my entry yesterday.

There’s a very interesting speech titled Is the 7% Economic Growth Sustainable? by Oscar Lopez. He points out the 6.9% First Quarter growth of the country, and asks, what caused it?

The phenomenon of 6.9% GDP growth, at least during the first quarter, has been explained from the perspective of expenditures, as opposed to production, as follows: first, our economy’s growth continued to be propelled by consumption spending, which averaged 5.9% over Q1, and this was sustained to a large extent by the continued strength of overseas remittances. Second, government spending grew by 13.1%, lifted no doubt by pre-election spending like road building, etc. A third component, surprisingly, was robust 9.1% growth in exports. In contrast, investment expenditures posted negligible growth, a mere 0.6%.

Then he asks, can that level of growth be maintained?

Asking if we can sustain a higher rate of growth is asking if each of these components of expenditure can continue at the same levels. Let’s take them one at a time. Can remittances from abroad continue at the same levels and higher? Well, our overseas partners and friends like Balfour Beatty and British Gas take the view that if the current rates of growth of major world economies continue at their present levels, there will be an increasing shortage of skilled human resources of all types all over the world. You hear of the nurses and caregivers, the domestics, the seamen, the musicians, the pilots and the professionals that we supply the rest of the world, currently running at an estimated eight and a half million strong. What you do not often hear about is that Philippine companies are continually being stripped of our best engineers; our environmental, safety and health specialists; our quality control people; our maintenance mechanics, our commercial contract specialists and many other such hard-to-find-and-train skills. We simply cannot compete with the sort of salaries and benefits they are being offered in such far-flung places like Dubai and Louisiana. Yes, Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina, Meralco lost many of its senior linemen and leadmen to the southern US utilities.

He goes on to suggest that if the world remains a peaceful place, things might be ok: but there remains a big challenge:

I believe that as long as there is no global recession, no great bubble bursting in China, or other such similar phenomena, then demand for Filipinos all over the world will continue and that their remittances to relatives remaining in the Philippines will also continue to prop up domestic consumer spending. But let me pose this question to you: can our economy afford to continue losing our skilled manpower over the longer term? Remember, we’re not educating and training them as quickly as we’re losing them. I will leave that question with you.

He also then goes on to say he doesn’t believe increased government spending is sustainable; exports can grow, but only if investors maintain their appetite for risk, which would fuel expansion; but that much more needs to be done in terms of actual investments and not merely attracting hot money. Read the whole thing.

The Inquirer editorial takes a look at the China-signed broadband deal and says it’s a steal. Palace trying to wiggle out of its own mess? Broadband network deal not yet final, says Palace.

The Lonely Vampire Chronicles presents two contrasting tales of bravura and machismo.

My Not So Secret Garden points to the inspiring story of Judge Lee of Cebu:

Judge Lee of Cebu rose to the occasion. He was in a ship that was sinking. He organized the distribution of the life jackets. When all available life jackets were distributed, there were still people in line. He took of his life jacket and gave it away. A few days later when search and rescue operation was underway, his body was found floating in the sea. What he did was heroic. He choose to rise to the occasion.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

69 thoughts on “It’s up to the Supremes

  1. As i commented over at Arbet’s blog, just like Zubiri’s role model in Malacanang, he will rationalize to himself that he will ‘work hard’ as if that somehow absolves him. Of course, just like in the case of Gloria, some people will fall for that line.

  2. Here’s what Alex Magno says:

    “How could the economy grow at the reported rates when capital formation and foreign direct investments continue to be low? Consequently, productive capacity in not dramatically increasing and jobs are not being created in the millions required.

    That is, indeed, a mystery.”

    Then he provides the answer in a rather oblique way for quite obvious reasons:

    “I am not sure, however, to what extent the historical data captures fairly recent developments such as our booming tourism sector and the 13% surge, in the first quarter, in government spending on infra.”

    I sometimes think the formula should exclude Government Spending because theoretically you could have zero growth on all fronts but would register growth by splurging on taxpayers’ money on whatever. Government spending seems to distort the real picture.

  3. In addition to the spike in government expenditures and export growth, what made the first quarter special is the drop in the value of imports during that period which (if not due to the favorable exchange rate), is usually not a good sign.

  4. To get a clearer picture of the sources of GDP growth over the past quarters i summarized the NSCB’s time series statistics into a dashboard. I hope this helps in the discussion.

  5. Manolo,

    The Supremes have already answered “Koko No Evidence No TRO”, hence count the COC’s from Maguindanao and mind you it was a unanimous vote not even CJ Puno dissented (whom you said has hinted to freeze the canvass, has not materialized)

    I’m guessing that after this GMA will have a House which has in-fighting in it but obedient when it comes to her and a Senate who won’t stand in her way mainly because Manny needs the support of the Admin Senators to keep him as Senate President 13 against 12 the numbers seem to be against the opposition yet again but it’s too early to tell. What’s funnier here is that even though GMA lost the referrendum last election she outsmarted once again the opposition.

  6. equilibrium, looks like a real hollow “victory” for the opposition. i think, however, it was not GMA who “outsmarted” them. they have done themselves in by counting their eggs before they were hatched (using a tired cliche).
    that’s the problem with building too high expectation on a bubble.

    personally, i’m elated. pimentel (along with cayetano and trillianes) are the least deserving of a senate seat.

  7. When asked by Justice Garcia for any evidenced to prove his allegation, Koko admitted he had nothing. He was Supremecourted by his stupid admission. He should have copied the tactics of his friend Peter Cayetano and ask Zubiri to proved that the Maguindanao election is not tainted with fraud.

  8. Re: Heroes…

    Ang and Bedol rose to the occasion when they lost (or when they allowed to be stolen) very important documents they were tasked to safeguard. Both are definitely heroes…

    Two stories that enliven some…but undoubtedly uninspiring to others.

  9. don’t you guys get tired of being too negative? you always have something bad to say about our economy: if the economy is getting stronger, you credit it to global phenomena; when the GDP growth rose to 6.9%, you say it is not sustainable, etc.. etc…

    it appears to me that you are all praying to high heavens for our economy to collapse tommorrow just so you can gloat over and satisfy your perverted view points.

  10. umberto,

    learn to discern. if you’ve stayed in other countries for a reasonable amount of time, you will know that what we have in the Philippines is mostly bullshit. 6.9% percent growth rate in the Philippines is not really better than 2% growth in the US. what you call as broadband in the Philippines is not really broadband in Singapore. what you know as corned beef in the Philippines is actually carabao beef in India.

  11. supremo:this is not america. not even america became a behemoth overnight. nor singapore. much less india. can’t you cut your country some slack?

  12. What’s funnier here is that even though GMA lost the referrendum last election she outsmarted once again the opposition.

    CHEATING isn’t really the equivalent of outsmarting.

  13. rom,

    Slack! The Philippines is in slack mode for a long time now. South Korea and Taiwan is now ahead of us. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore pass us by in the 80s. Vietnam and Indonesia is now catching up. Slack some more and we’ll be sending OFWs to Bangladesh.

  14. why do we have to always compare ourselves with other nations? at all times, we measure ourselves in terms of others’ accomplishments or status in life. this is a terrible habit of pinoys, in general. to me, it is the root of all unhappiness – the desire to be on top of everyone. realistically, that cannot be achieved because there will always be someone ahead of us. why can’t we just be us, and do the best we can, without worrying about whether or not we are keeping pace with the rest of the world?

  15. “why do we have to always compare ourselves with other nations?”

    if we don’t, what good is economic planning for? you set objectives–against what? [think repercussions of investment decisions, both local and foreign] you seek some degree of efficiency–against what? [think china] you seek to maintain a degree of standard–against what? [to heck with iso]

    what is “do the best we can” if the bestest we can do is actually at best mediocre. but oh, who’s to say if it’s mediocre if we are the sole judges of ourselves, right?

    who says we need to be on top when we can be at par?

  16. supremo: thanks for stating the obvious. But how is xenophilia going to help the country? Seriously. There’s something to be said for principled criticism, but there’s also a need to support and encourage successes through positive reinforcement. Even dog trainers understand that you can’t just keep yelling at the dog. You’ve got to speak softly and encouragingly to it from time to time.

  17. I think we also compare ourselves with other nations because we believe, given the same opportunity and kind of Governance, we are capable of achieving same or even better. Take away all the cheating and corruptions and put all these in useful government programs and we can start from there..

  18. Using a metaphor. It is always good to note that while our neighbors are building the parts of their economic engine and have certain parts of their engine firing on one or two cylinders we still have not yet decided on building a national economic engine and have not reached the stage of building one. We insist on being towed by other engines. But we are having a problem as our population is almost twenty times Singapore’s and we insist on following their model of being towed. In that sense we do not really have economic growth on a national level. We do not have a national economic engine that can fire on all cylinders necessary for 80 million + passengers. How do we get rid of 50-60 M passengers? We could ask the perfect individual model for economic rent seeking in the country, Alex Magno. Maybe Malaysia could take them all or we join up with them since they have less than a quarter of our population and have a larger land area than us. Could we simply all convert to Islam?

    Using metaphors is much easier than to debate when very few would understand the ideology of equilibrium economics (competition) as practiced by the IMF – WB or more popularly known as neo-liberal theology. It is exactly the same as the Marxist model on the inevitability of history. Nature at work or leaving it to the natural forces of the market.
    For students of Darwin and Dawkins – the thesis that natural selection is the mechanism of genetic evolution. The struggle for physical or material survival. The zealots of Marx and Smith are exactly the same. Their basis for the natural workings of the market and Marx’s thesis on social formats formed by the hierarchy of natural selection in the class system. Agricultural feudalism to corporate feudalism. Format has changed but the substance is the same. Corporations are command structures run very much like command economies. They pretty much have control of the weak state that is the Phils.

    For the absolutists or jihadists that is the basis of their belief system. Superimpose religion on top of this and we are good to go.

    From the head zealot of the W.B. based here: If you know how to read between the lines he is saying that the economy prevents wide political consensus due to the wide income gap. Oops a chicken and egg proposition. Economic development first that will propel political development. A little dialectics there. I wonder if any our politicos understand this level of discourse. He thinks we are more Latinos than Asian or Kano. Now he calls for progressive taxation after pushing for the imposition of the most regressive of all types of taxation for a poor country. Consumption taxes.

    “The Arroyo administration has taken the first steps in raising tax revenues and reducing red tape and corruption, but the long-term and “hardest challenge” is more “social inclusion,” Mr. von Amsberg said.”

    “In international comparison, the Philippines has very high inequality of incomes, assets and opportunities, more similar to indicators in Latin American countries rather than in East Asian peers. This means growth benefits are relatively few, and relatively few contribute to economic development,” he said.

    “Mr. von Amsberg pointed out that the Philippines had failed to achieve faster economic growth and reduce poverty significantly in the past three decades. He also warned it would be hard to form a political consensus for “growth-promoting policies” if the income gap remained wide.”

    He prescribed economic policies that promote equitable distribution of wealth, such as efficient and progressive taxation, and competition policies that “result in better services and facilities at lower costs.”

    “Likewise, social policies such as those that would provide quality education for all and those that shield the poor and vulnerable against risks that they cannot manage would lead to greater social inclusion, reinforcing a virtuous circle of social inclusion and better governance.”

  19. In management practice, there is such a thing as “benchmarking”. Companies seeking continuous improvements compare themselves with others, preferably the leaders in their industry, to measure how much more they have to catch up with. They also look for the “best world practices” and see what they can adopt in whatever it is that they do.

    Comparing ourselves as a nation with other countries, therefore, is not such a bad idea. We can benchmark and adopt those best practices of others that suit us.

    Otherwise, we may just be doing things our own way without knowing that there are opportunities to change for the better.

  20. The Price if Right….

    Garci, Bedol are prime examples of the principles of equilibrium economics working. You have to commend them for their principles of sticking to delivering their products under all odds. Big Mike and GMA will probably be eternally grateful to Garci as will Zubiri to Bedol. Senator Migz sounds so much better than simply Migz to his wife.

    We had an excited spokesman, Albano who tried to stem the bad news coming in from the first non- official counts of the votes. He was the first to announce the 12-0 votes from Maguindanao. The commoditization and monetization of command votes was already agreed on between buyer and seller. Fair market value had been reached. Delivery was promised.

    These COMELEC boys are all lawyers and they know the process of legalizing documents. They were selling legal documents after all. All these watchers and do-gooders were simply decoration and necessary bother to them. The signatories in true Corleone fashion would never speak out anyway. The sellers knew where they lived. It appears they did make an example of one. Sort of market advertising. You can buy fake diplomas, passports, land titles, credit cards, drivers license, even legislation through the
    bicameral committee and fake election documents.

    They knew that they had a deadline. This guy Bedol should be hired by our big business. He promised delivery and he even strapped on a sidearm to show he was ready to defend the sale to his buyers. Just like a drug dealer, numbers collector his word is his bond. He delivers. He knows the failure to deliver is usually a one way ticket to Paradise
    since he is a Muslim, I think.

    That is how best market equilibrium works. There usually are many sellers and buyers and agreements on price are reached and delivery terms are agreed on and penalties for non-delivery are also reached. Probably death. Information was available to all parties in interest. Between dying and a slap on the wrist what would you choose? It appears that he (Bedol) is going to be Bukidnon’s favorite son.

  21. There was a man named Bedol,
    Who packed a big shiny pistol.
    He lost the CoC,
    Couldn’t explain how, you see,
    So, now, Koko got one big “bukol”.

  22. hvrds

    The market you are describing is only between Garci/Bedol and their principals. There is a bigger market to include the electorate at large. If we have to use the analogy, what we have here is a bunch of conspiring swindlers delivering a product different from that which was ordered and making it appear to be the one purchased. It’s now up to the buyer to reject the product and punish the swindlers. Or if the buyer decides he could live with it because he is at last convinced the delivered product is not much different, it’s up to him to.

  23. “if you’ve stayed in other countries for a reasonable amount of time, you will know that what we have in the Philippines is mostly bullshit.” — Supremo

    Hear, hear! That’s what gets me: we can do so much better with good governance, I don’t know why we put up with all this bullshit. And despite their profession of support for the rule of law as practiced here, I don’t think Bencard et al. would put the same kind of trust in institutions here as much as they would in institutions of the countries in which they now live.

    Having said that, I think I’m beginning to understand where Bencard (at least) is coming from. Correct me if I’m wrong, Ben, but I think you are not against reform, but you want it done by the book. Something like how Eliot Ness & the Untouchables nailed Capone: they didn’t get him on racketeering or murder, because they had no evidence against him for these crimes that would stand up in court, but they

  24. got him for tax evasion, for which they did have evidence.

    The question is: is there a way for an Eliot Ness to emerge who can take on and beat a corruption-riddled government fair and square? Or is the situation more for a Dirty Harry rather than an Eliot Ness?

  25. mike,

    why do we always have to go by the book when we’re a country that values delicadeza–oh well, supposedly. wish we could be more like japan [see there’s value in ethical comparison]: at the instance of scam involvement, those implicated either resign or commit harakiri.

    in our case, scandals only fortify the nietzchean spirits in our leaders: what won’t kill you will make you superman. kaya’t lalung naging garapal and mga kupal.

  26. So what could have been a proper proof of cheating in maguindanao?

    I would think comparing fingerprints and handwriting of those election officials (the teachers) assigned to the polls to those in the documents would do it. We need CSI.

  27. Someone asked: why do we always have to go by the book. i think we do because that’s what we want to happen when we’re the ones being accused.

    What about those salvagings: terrible. but the wrongs of the people we call brutes shouldn’t be our wrongs as well. otherwise, we would become brutes as well.

  28. So what could have been a proper proof of cheating in maguindanao?

    If more people were numerate, then the statistical improbabilities would have sufficed. The rest can be tied together by common sense.

  29. If more people were numerate, then the statistical improbabilities would have sufficed.

    Apparently however, the supreme court justices needed more than this, hence the denial of the TRO. I guess that’s what JM was asking.

  30. mike, any approach will do, from U.S. attorney Fitzgerald whose about to nail that once Canadian named Conrad Black for fraud, who renounced his citizenship because being a Canadian he is not entitled to any British Title like the Lordship, or Sir and he even sued PM Chretien for that, to Eliot Ness, or to Dirty Harry as long as the chances of success is expected. Only losers are hanged for their ways and means…

  31. Isn’t it disgusting? The numbers of what Bedol presented and the numbers from the new canvassing do not match yet the Comelec finds no problem with that?

  32. yes, mike, you got it. to echo st. thomas more, we have to do it “by the book” because if we disregard the rules that were designed to protect all of us (saints and sinners alike), what could we do when storm troopers, or a crazed mob, come banging at our doors to get us for some vague suspicion of wrongdoing?

    in an imperfect human world, law is the great equalizer. properly applied, it eliminates the need to arm ourselves with the most lethal weapon – more efficient and deadlier than that of our neighbors, to secure ourselves.

  33. Bencard, the key phrase is properly applied. Otherwise, it will hasten precisely what it is supposed to forestall.

  34. any approach will do, from U.S. attorney Fitzgerald … to Eliot Ness, or to Dirty Harry as long as the chances of success is expected. Only losers are hanged for their ways and means … Vic

    yeah, yeah ,yeah. Thanks anyway.

  35. “Properly applied” should mean that the law must be applied in its spirit, not merely in its letter.

    We have seen how Marcos dressed his dictatorial excesses in the letter of the law, which, I presume, led Bencard to flee the country and exile himself to a place where the spirit of the law is more respected.

    We have seen how Gloria, with the help of her House allies, escaped accountability for cheating and stealing by applying the letter of the law and not its spirit.

    And we have just seen how Comelec has abetted electoral fraud by invoking the letter of the law and not its spirit.

    We claim that we are a country under the rule of law. But, more often than not, it is the rule of the letter of the law and not its spirit.

  36. In this regard, I have a very good suggestion to make; the next time the Philippines Charter is revised or amended, make similar preamble that will reflect the simple, succint but very direct message we had in Ours, just a suggestion:

    Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

    preamble to the constitution Act of l982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada)

  37. that is why we have courts and other duly -empowered forums to determine whether a law is “properly applied”. shaman, cvj, mlq3, abe, justice league, or any one else (including myself) can make that determination but only for themselves, and without the force of law that a court’s or other proper forum’s judgment has.

  38. More than having courts, the important thing is for those who are tasked to execute the law to apply it properly, meaning, in accordance with its spirit. In other words, justice must already be rendered by those who execute the law. It should not be something that has to be obtained through the courts every time.

    The ideal situation would be to make the courts idle.

  39. But still we have to start asking if the Law in the first place is fair and reasonable. I quote our Election Commissionaire in charge of prosecuting Election Code violations, which he said similar to this effect that “majority of the People, or most of them if aware of the Statutes and its fairness and reasonableness will obey them.” And if the law are fair and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the courts don’t have to decide and waste their time, just to decide if such are. Do you hear our SC handing down decisions as frequent as the The Philippines SC? nada, once in a Blue moon…

  40. shaman, i agree and i wish the real world was like that. sadly, though, people don’t think alike. one man’s justice is another man’s oppression. one’s right is another’ burden,
    and so forth. i think the ideal situation is to make the courts, police, the military and yes, lawyers, not merely idle but totally irrelevant.

  41. vic:are the people ready to obey the law? that i think is the most basic question. no matter how fair laws are, if people remain too preoccupied with outwitting each other, there will always be those who will break the law. or at least try.

  42. rom, how? no way. it’s only wishful thinking or, if you will. an “impossible dream”.

  43. rom,
    you have to make the people ready to obey the law.
    we discussed this phenomenal with a few friends the other day with a newcomer and I let each of them speak the reason why they obey the law. One of my friend, an ex Phil. Marine soldier, a purple heart awardee, said he could no longer afford a six months suspension of his license for once getting caught DUI and the more than 100% increase in his car insurance premium plus the legal cost thinking that a smart lawyer can get him off the offense.

    And one who get accosted by an old lady for “dropping” a garbage instead of walking a little further and deposit it in the trash, he was embarrassed. And one after the other, each of us gave one reason after another including shoplifting, which even for a $1. could cost you more in shame and maybe a criminal record and a denial of visa crossing the border and a lot more. and the magic word is “enforcement”..

  44. How will you make the people ready to obey the law when law enforcers and lawmakers are themselves the first violators of the law?

    I believed that our leaders should & must “lead by example”. Unless our leaders will become “good leaders”, we will not see the light at the end of the tunnel. While it is true that it is very hard to find one, can our new leaders who are starting their new terms of office on July 1st be one or try to be one?

    Let’s call on them for the sake of the Filipino children.

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