Mystery at Pagalungan

As the Inquirer editorial points out, today is Republic Day, and we should pause to remember today marks 61 years of independence for the country. The editorial, too, looks into the similarity between efforts in 1946-47 and 2006-2007 to eliminate the Left from our national life.

Much ado about the so-called “Human Security Act,” and what’s in store for everyone when it goes into effect mid month. Palace may defer anti-terror law: is this the carrot and stick approach? Tempting, maybe, despite the public posturing of the Left: though news such as NPA lists projects from rebel taxes simply shows they’re bandits extorting tolls.

Even as Neda confident GDP to grow 6.1-6.7 percent in 2007, an internal government report suggests Govt poised to miss tax collection targets this year (significantly, Reuters has picked up the story):

A source from the Development and Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC), which sets the country’s macroeconomic targets, said that a recent assessment made by the interagency body showed that meeting collection targets in the second semester won’t allow the government to attain its full-year goal.

Citing the results of the assessment, the source said the government can collect only P1.094 trillion this year, which is lower than the P1.118-trillion revenue target…

…Under this scenario, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which accounts for two-thirds of government revenues, is assumed to generate P746.10 billion, or much lower than the P765.85-billion goal for the entire year.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is expected to collect P223.24 billion, also much smaller than the P228.20-billion target for the agency.

The estimated P1.094-trillion collection, which also includes earnings from other government offices, would comprise 14.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year, or lower than the 15.1-percent ratio programmed for 2007. GDP measures the country’s economic output, while the revenue-to-GDP ratio is a key fiscal measure monitored by the country’s creditors.

The entire BIR collection will be 11.3 percent of GDP, slightly lower than 11.5-percent target ratio.

This is what Americans call a clusterfuck: Senate opposition rift breaks wide open. This is why the President keeps winning.

Even as SC allows Koko to withdraw petitions (and he files a new set of petitions), a curious story emerges from Pagalungan, Maguindanao. The story broke late yesterday, and you can gather the gist of it here: Pagalungan ERs nasa COMELEC na. From what I’ve gathered, the emerging story can be boiled down as follows: some of Pagalungan’s barangays never had their results counted!

Fascinating account in PCIJ’s Why you should doubt the Maguindanao election results:

1. A curious increase and decrease in reported votes when original provincial certificates and their replacements are compared;
2. An unusually high turnout of voters -it was so high, more people voted than there were actual voters;
3. “Statistically improbable” results for certain candidates.

And also, in Why you should doubt the Maguindanao election results part 2, which explains how Maguindanao’s votes don’t match voting patterns in other Muslim areas.

Overseas, What’s the Difference Between London and Baghdad? Then, as Scooter Libby’s saved by the bell (see Saved from prison by Bush’s favour: the White House aide who lied to a grand jury) and there’s talk of impeaching the Vice President of the United States, two interesting examinations of Karl Rove: see Karl Rove, Master of Secrecy and Rove fails where his hero succeeded.

And in our neck of the woods, Singapore and Indonesia Squabble over Defense Pact. The Indonesians and Singaporeans are squabbling, not least because the Indonesians hoped to use a provision for extradition to go after Indonesians who’ve squirreled away their money in Singaporean banks:

Local analysts say Jakarta moved too fast to sign the treaty because the government wanted the extradition treaty. Negotiations for the defense agreement, which would help both countries cope better with disasters and security threats, officially ended on April 23. Since then, Indonesia has asked for substantive changes and new conditions

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry warned in a statement that the terms “cannot be changed casually or piecemeal, without risking the whole package.” That package includes the extradition agreement eagerly awaited by Indonesian prosecutors who hope to hunt down white-collar fugitives hiding in Singapore. Jakarta also hopes to recover some of the billions of dollars of embezzled government funds believed to be in Singaporean banks after being carted away during the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis by wealthy Indonesians on the run.

But any Filipino reading the article has to feel wistful when the various regional air forces are compared to each other:

Singapore practices what it calls a “poisoned shrimp” strategy — it might be swallowed by one of its neighbors, but doing so would kill the neighbor.

Accordingly, Singapore’s defense budget, at US$6.9 billion annually, is nearly 3.5 times as big as Indonesia’s. Singapore’s defense budget comprises 30 percent of its national budget and slightly over 5 percent of GDP. The Indonesia Air Force and Navy get a mere US$494 million each.

Singapore has 50 upgraded A-4SU Super Skyhawk fighter-bombers, 30 F-16C and F16D fighters, and 20 of the latest F-5E/F Tiger II fighter jets. Another12 F-15SG super fighters are on order.

Of the Indonesian Air Force’s combat fighters, 10 are F-16s, but only four are ready to fly, according to Air Force Chief Air Marshal Herman Prayitno. Prayitono plans to tool up with Russian Sukhoi fighters and expand to 10 squadrons over the next 15 to 20 years, but currently the country has only two Sukhoi Su-27s and eight SU -30s plus 10 highly capable Sukhoi Flanker fighters and a dozen US built F-15s.

By the end of next year Malaysia will have 18 Sukhoi-20MKM jets intended to replace 14 US-made F-5E jets, which have been in service for two decades. Two Sukhois have already been delivered this year, and the Malaysian Air Force also has 18 MiG-29N Fulcrums.

My Arab News column for this week is Uncertainty Over the Growing Korean Presence Triggers Tensions.

A profile of soon to be Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro, Jr. in Newsbreak makes for interesting reading:

Still, Teodoro is expected to play a critical role in implementing the anti-terrorism law which he voted against in the 13th Congress. He believes it carries provisions which are prone to abuse.

During his three terms in Congress, Teodoro sponsored legislation that span the gamut of civil rights protection, governance and economic development. His pet bills include a measure prohibiting the public display of persons arrested, accused, detained or under custodial investigation before formal charges are filed in court against them. It also defines the duties of arresting and investigating officers.

Teodoro also wanted the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) detached from the Department of Justice (DoJ) owing to the conflict in the dispensation of their duties, with the DoJ tasked with prosecution and PAO on the defense side.

Unfortunately, both bills did not prosper at the House. The farthest the bills reached was the floor, but were never put to plenary voting.

Teodoro was also open to the concept of having a national identification card, provided adequate safeguards are in place to prevent abuse by implementing agencies.

In his column, Manuel Buencamino says the President can, indeed, use appointments like Teodoro’s to turn around her p.r. situation:

Gilbert Teodoro’s appointment to the Department of National Defense is a very astute political move. His connection to Danding Cojuangco aside, Teodoro has the right qualities for the job. Give him a free hand, don’t allow the usual suspects to undermine him, and you just might extricate yourself from the human-rights mess your national security advisers put you in.

Allow Teodoro – no, encourage him – to “sample” some members of the military brass. Don’t worry about alienating those who stepped outside the law to serve you loyally; the decent elements within the AFP, the international community, and especially the Americans, will applaud and support a genuine cleansing of the AFP and your change of heart. I don’t need to remind you that your welfare is the only thing that really matters.

Bong Austero thinks we should all move on and fight less.

Efren Danao makes an interesting point about congressional inefficiency when it comes to lawmaking. He says the pre martial law Congress handled law making more sensibly:

In many instances, a congressman asks his colleagues to sign his bill as co-authors, believing that the greater number of authors will ensure the bill’s passage. Certainly, no congressman will oppose a bill that lists him as author or co-author.

Once the bill with many authors is passed by the House, it goes to the Senate. There, a senator will file a counterpart measure, with several other senators as co-authors also. There have also been occasions when the author of the Senate version would magnanimously move to list all senators present as co-authors once the bill is approved by the chamber. So, some senators who had done nothing to advance the bill except to be present when it was approved become authors or co-authors.

The procedure in premartial-law Congress was generally much simpler, so it was easier to identify the law’s author. A bill then carried only the true author’s name. If it was passed by, say, the House, and was transmitted to the Senate, the senators seldom filed a counterpart measure. The Senate would generally consider the measure passed by the House and either adopt it or amend it. If it were adopted en toto, then an enrolled copy would immediately be sent to Malacañang for the President’s signature. If it were amended, then there would be a bicameral conference committee meeting to reconcile the differing versions. But whether adopted or amended, the bill continued to carry the name of the original author.


Tony Lopez is all praises for the current Central Bank chief: and while I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, doesn’t this mean then that our outstanding Central Bank chief deserves a lot of the credit you-know-who is trying to lay claim to? Has Rick Saludo read Tony Lopez? He should.

By all means, go and read Mike Tan’s PCIJ essay,

In the blogosphere (and other online stuff), check out A News Democracy, the “first user-powered Filipino News Community for Citizen Journalism in the Philippines.” Their choice of the news that matters will surely intrigue you. Another effort is wired4news with an article I enjoyed: Revisit the writings on the wall.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

17 thoughts on “Mystery at Pagalungan

  1. “Bong Austero thinks we should all move on and fight less.”

    why can’t we move on and fight MORE?

  2. From Manila Standard –

    “The Philippine peso has only recovered 35 percent of the value it shed since the currency meltdown in the Asia-Pacific region exactly a decade ago, making it the second-worst “comeback currency” after the Taiwanese dollar, Singapore-based DBS said in its daily research note.

    DBS said the peso has underperformed despite being dubbed as the “Darling of Asian Currencies” in 2005 and 2006…

    DBS said the fiscal slippage in the Philippines early this year would likely take its toll on the peso.

    “Although we still like the peso, we believe that the fiscal story that supported it may have run its course. Looking ahead, further gains may need to be predicated on an investment story,” DBS said.”

  3. the credibility issue is no longer manageable by the comelec alone, and the only way to resolve it is to let an independent third party investigate and publish it’s findings.

    i suppose that was the reason why that taskforce maguindanao was formed. but that group will fail miserably, if it hasn’t already, simply because it is made up of the same people who are interested in proving that the elections were all-OK. it’s not a third-party and therefore lacks the objectivity necessary to guarantee public acceptability of its conclusions.

    the special committee should be composed of an equal number of pro-opposition and pro-admin people, and headed by an impartial judge – preferably someone from the SC or the court of appeals who wasn’t appointed by GMA.

    this group will then determine whether the results from maguindanao were manufactured as claimed by the opposition; to determine who is at fault; and to recommend punishment as needed, with its findings submitted to the SC and the Ombudsman – the SC to act as a sort of grand jury.

  4. Within a year, Tetangco not only weathered the crisis but triumphed mightily. In the first quarter this year, domestic economic output, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), expanded by 6.9 percent, the best quarterly growth in 22 years. – Tony Lopez

    In 22 years? Just over a month back, the press was saying that “the philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in 17 years“. Has it been five years already? Why don’t they skip the gradual escalation and proclaim that it was our best quarterly growth ever. I suppose if people repeat that canard often enough, it doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s true. That’s how confidence games are played.

  5. …and the mudslinging continues…no wonder more and more people are getting sick and tired of it all…
    – Bong Austero

    …and yet he still writes about it…even when more and more people are getting sick and tired of all the mudslingings.

    a case of a writer who mudslings other people’s mudslingings??? it’s high time he moves on (as what his popular motto…and his president…is all about!!!).

    hmm…now…i, too, am probably guilty of mudslinging…

  6. Senate rifts keep the President winning. What’s the connection? We are again in the process of looking for something to blame. If we are in a mess, politically, and attribute it to the President, there is no one to blame but the President. If the President kept on winning, she should be credited. No passing the buck. That is more simple

  7. “the president keeps winning”, mlq3.

    i hate to say “i told you so” but i have said time and again that loyalty is a rare commodity in the senate, and that the opposition’s 2007 senatorial election “victory” is a hollow one. wait and see it unravel more when the presidential wannabees tear at each other like hungry lions. now, my score is beginning to look like 10 out of 10 for PGMA! sorry guys.

  8. I’m interested to see what’s going to happen to these “turncoats” in the next elections. In this year’s election, the electorate showed that they can remember who the balimbings were and dumped them.

    There’s a long way to go and Villar has even commented that whatever ill will what’s happening today will be handled through the media. It’s interesting.

  9. Oh yes I can only laugh about what is going on in the senate.its truly entertaining. But what can you expect…

    And its very sad to say that, people were fooled by the opposition in the last election!

  10. And looks like Kiko Pangilinan is playing his cards very well. Ran as unaffiliated independent candidate. and now he can just swing with either with so much ease. 😉

  11. bencard, rego, hold your horses. yes, the squabbling within the opposition tends to harm it to the president’s advantage, but the fight for the senate presidency has to be taken in context.

    context number one: all the fight in the senate shows is disunity, but one based on the fact that the opposition is full of presidents-to-be, while the admin has no real candidates for now (except the vp, who doesn’t really influence anything; gilbert teodoro being dangled this early on, is still untested). this underscores how much of a lame duck the president could be.

    context number two: much more discouraging and vicious is the infighting going on over the speakership, and considering it’s a bulwark of admin support, the president’s been very quiet about who she will support. meanwhile, due to her silence, the fight’s getting more and more vicious.

    context number three: an opposition-administration alliance might end up selecting the next president, and save some important committees for the administration. blue ribbon, for example, might stay with joker. but every committee gets to be joined by every senator, and when an administration senator sets the agenda for a committee, others can challenge it or even derail it. what it will do, is make it harder to investigate things, but not impossible.

    context number four: even if there is a new admin-oppo (or to be precise, admin-ex-oppo) bloc, it will solidify the new minority and simply transfer the problems of holding together to the new majority.

    context number five: party loyalty isn’t involved here, an opposition coalition was what was elected so some senators will try to say that they can make whatever deals they want, for the leadership of the chmber, but they will remain opposition in terms of investigations, etc. they can try, though personally i think the public mood is less tolerant of this kind of politics as usual. but we’ll see, maybe those senators are right.

    as for kiko, he does have a temporary advantage but as 2010 increasingly calls for party solidarity, he runs the risk of being perceived as someone who should simply stop pretending to be an LP, show his cards and become an NP already.

  12. why should some be surprised about politicians switching loyalties? para namang ngayon lang kayo pinanganak. they’ve been doing ever since the multi-party system was adopted.

    naalala ko si serge osmena. after he got elected under admin’s party, nag over da bakod kaagad right after he was proclaimed in 2001.

  13. very concerned about the “human security” act.

    i would never have believed the extent of the abuses reported in the news until i saw it firsthand during the last my district, one town had the incumbent mayor’s posse point a gun to the head of one of the baranggay captains because the kapitan was campaigning for a new admin. in another town the former mayor was imprisoned (his son was running for mayor) under false allegations, released on the 15th. a gun was pointed to the head of my driver the night of the 13th – my driver, not even from my province, clean, and totally new to politics, was shaken in fear. no explanation was given for this action except that they thought he was carrying money – funny enough he didn’t even have enough money for gas to get home.

    it came to a point where the people, in fear of the government, of the police AND the military, called me begging to send media over to protect them, saying it was the only way they would not be harassed.

    and i heard the fear in their voices even if they were trying to maintain a brave front.

    this administration cannot, CANNOT, be given any more power than it already has. the audacity at which they abuse … it’s just too much now. too much.

    and when you see for yourself how the common farmer is afraid to talk because he is afraid of what those in power – those upon whom the PUBLIC TRUST was given – might do to him …

    this law CANNOT fly man. it’s just bad news.

  14. The job of the BSP is to keep “animal spirits” in check as the power to print money is given to the private sector.

    The BSP makes sure that it reins in the price of credit when it sees the build up of “irrational exhuberance.”

    It’s job is made harder with the unprecedented liquidity in worlds financial markets primarily engineered by the G-7 economies of recent years. (No Big Mike and GMA did not have anything to do with it.)

    However this government owned utility must also be subject to Congressional oversight as the power to set the price of credit brings with it tremendous opportunities for abuse.

    Even the maven of Central Banking Greenspan was still subject to Congressional oversight.

    Fiscal and monetary policy is still under Congressional powers to delegate and must be subject to Congressional oversight.

    You do not give the power to create assets out of nothing to men without some form of accountability.

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