Shake, rattle and roll

Oh boy, here it comes. It was very slight, and brief (see christine’s Site), but there it was. Tremors shake Metro Manila, Central Luzon areas. This, after Philippines Hit by 6.5-Magnitude Earthquake, U.S. Agency Says . And this sets the scene: 6.6 quake in Atlantic, north of Brazilian coast — USGS.

24 years after, brains of Ninoy slay a mystery. Goofy idea or lapsus senilis? Narvasa: We should close book on Ninoy Aquino’s murder. See Inquirer Current for my entry on Ninoy’s martyrdom.

On the Mindanao front: ‘No spillover of Mindanao hostilities in Metro Manila’ even as PNP placed on full alert nationwide. Government tries to soft-pedal news that Government-MILF talks canceled. In Hawk Central (Philippine Commentary), there’s an update on concern among retired or ex-officers, on the recent casualties in the fighting.

At this point, I’d like to share with you a copy of a letter Sen. Dick Gordon sent the President, which makes for interesting reading (he sent me a copy this morning). Here’s the letter:

Letter To Gma Sulu Basilan

Some interesting excerpts:

1. Despite the recent hostilities in Basilan and Sulu, which have claimed many lives and injured others, the area is by no means a war zone. The situation is under control. The no-guns policy is being enforced effectively by the AFP and the PNP under the leadership of Gen. Romeo Tolentino and Gen. Ruben Rafael . The number of displaced persons is not as large as feared, and they are being assisted by the DSWD, PNRC and other groups. Normal business and social life prevails.

This is not to minimize the seriousness of the terrorist threat and the high toll of lives of recent incidents there. But the fighting has occurred mainly in a few pockets of the two islands where the campaign against terrorist bands, particularly the Abu Sayyaf, is being prosecuted.

The local people, while edgy about the recent fighting and the military presence, are happy about the gun ban. Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan told me that he will continue the ban beyond the current situation. He has successfully made all mayors and barangay chairmen report to their posts, where in the past such local officials used to station themselves in Zamboanga City. The mayor of Jolo, Hussin Amin, is fully supporting his initiatives.

The focus of complaint and worry of the local people is not peace and order but the poor provision of basic services (such as schools, water service and roads), the payment of salaries to teachers, and support for economic activities and livelihood.

He goes on to note that,

4. On the economic front, business and commerce go on as usual in both islands. In the campus of the Jolo Agricultural School, we visited a site that used to be a dumping ground for bodies. It is now being used for poultry raising. We found high school and college students bottling sardines, mangosteen and durian. Everywhere we went, we were being offered bananas, lanzones and other fruits. These produce are very cheap in the province. Mangosteen was selling for 5 to 7 pesos per kilo. In Metro Manila, it sells for P100 to P120 per kilo. I believe the President should call on the DTI to help them market these products at better prices. This will do so much to provide livelihood and jobs to the people of Sulu and the entire ARMM area.

Another move that could really help the regional economy is for the government to finish the circumferential road in Isabela City in Basilan and other road projects. General Juancho Saban, the marine brigade commander in Basilan, told me that the completion of the circumferential road will have far-reaching impact on provincial life and commerce because people, goods and relief effort can move more quickly from Isabela to isolated towns. This will pave the way for local prosperity because of the increase in the number of rubber trees and the abundant production of lanzones.

He suggests a change of perspective:

What I am suggesting here, Your Excellency, is that we should consider a change in perspective and approach to the area. The prevailing practice has been to treat Basilan and Sulu as a war zone, whether one is calling for all-out war like the hardliners or for peace talks like the bishops. This has led to a total neglect of the all-important buildup of basic services and infrastructure in the area. But in fact, the situation there is no more severe than in other areas of the country where there are insurgent or rebel activities. Peace and order prevails and the encounters are sporadic and occur mainly in forest areas. Significantly, however, by neglecting to strengthen basic governance in the area, we wind up losing the argument to the extremists and terrorists.

And makes an appeal for political will and to listen to the solutions proposed by those in the affected areas:

For this kind of capacity-building, assistance from the national government is a must. As I reported previously to Your Excellency after a visit to Tawi-tawi, in Bongao town a bridge donated by the US remains to be built even though the materials for it — valued at several hundred million pesos — have been there since seven years ago. This infrastructure will not happen unless there is direct intervention and assistance from the national government.

Simply stated, consistency, accountability and follow-through leadership in ARMM and government agencies must be committed to peace and progress in the region. Using best-practice as our model, we have to set up the infrastructure for accountability and standards to implement all funding initiatives.

What we face in the South, finally, is a battle for hearts and minds. The conflict cannot be won by force alone. All groups trying to help there — the military, the private sector, civil society and international aid organizations — share this conviction about the situation. Local people have to believe that there really is a peace dividend, and that in getting from here to there, we will be with them all the way.

On the economic front: this is a potentially highly significant story: Fewer OFWs leave, but flow of funds steady:

The remittances of overseas Filipinos have flowed at a rate of more than a billion dollars a month for 13

months in a series thus far, totaling $7.03 billion in the first half.

What is not apparent, however, is that the deployment of sea-based Pinoy workers fell by 11.1 percent to just 123,950 while land-based workers fell 3.2 percent to 422,262 during the period.

The declining pace of deployment has caught the eye of relevant government agency heads who noted the annual remittances account for 11 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and at least half the country’s foreign exchange reserves at the moment.

The sustained flow of worker remittances helped fuel consumer spending that in turn pushed the GDP higher to 6.9 percent in the second quarter.

According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, deployment in the period contracted by 5.1 percent to only 546.212, making more imperative the pursuit of the training and skills development programs undertaken earlier by both government and private employment agencies.

Elsewhere, March of the mines sees islanders facing loss of ancestral homeland:

The Philippines archipelago of more than 7,200 islands is among the world’s most mineral-rich countries, with gold, silver, bauxite, nickel and coal mines. But it remains one of Asia’s poorest nations, with a fragile democracy, slow growth, weak institutions, and a widening wealth gap. Its mineral reserves are estimated to be worth £420bn, yet only 1.4% of the estimated 22m acres (9m ha) of mining land is covered by permits. To exploit the resources the government formed a mining act in 1995. It claimed the industry would bring an extra million jobs over the next six years, although only 125,000 people are now employed in mining. The development has come at a price for the country’s 84 million people. The worst mining disaster was on Marinduque island, involving a leak of 4m tonnes of toxic waste at Marcopper’s mine. The estimated damages of £40m have yet to be fully recouped

Deal-making update: 2 new air accords rushed. Also, Arroyo orders sale of energy assets rushed and GMA wants nuke power harnessed (see Jove Francisco for more details on government’s efforts to gauge public opinion on this one). Oversight’s called for on potentially juicy deals.

Happy, happy, joy, joy in the stock market: RP stocks index end up nearly 10% as global equities rebound. However, US stocks waver as uncertainty remains. As usual, noteworthy observations on the part of Ricky Carandang.

On a point of filial pride, Aquino Awards honors work of former president, priest. My mom was among the awardees, for her half-century of work in volunteer training, consumer advocacy, and NGO work.

Overseas, Thailand approves a flawed charter and Thailand’s Constitutional Merry-Go-Round. Also, how the American presidency clamps down on dissent in Sic ’em With the Rally Squad. See also, How Physics Can Explain Why Some Countries Are Rich And Others Are Poor.

Jarius Bondoc on the government’s winning its case vs. Fraport. Cielito Habito on the stock market and the Peso’s seesawing levels.

In the blogosphere, Mon Casiple has a blog! See his entry on GMA searches for way out of her political crisis:

The 2007 elections, particularly the senatorial one, basically confirmed the whole series of surveys on GMA that signified her political isolation from the majority of the electorate. Her senatorial slate got a drubbing, along with a very controversial last-place win for her candidate Senator Miguel Zubiri. The GMA kiss of death, some say. It resulted to her being considered a political lameduck for the rest of her term.

Well, except for two things that will diminish as her term ends. Her silent endorsement is eagerly but silently being solicited by presidentiables who need the money and resources a sitting president can give. The other thing is the behemoth GMA-led coalition that, so far, does not have a viable presidentiable in its stable…

GMA’s current political crisis stems from her alienation from the people — not from her bitter rivalry with the political opposition. The opposition only becomes effectively The Opposition if and when the people clearly side with it. Unfortunately for GMA, the situation beginning in the run-up to the 2004 elections generally went against her. Her December 31, 2002 Rizal Day statement that she will not run in the 2004 presidential elections did not help at all. Her perceived involvement in the Garcillano scandal started the current skid on a slope with no acceptable end in sight.

There are, I think, only two good options open for her: One, to gracefully exit in 2010, patch things up, and try to make good during her remaining days in office; and two, to negotiate with (a) winnable presidentiable(s) on political protection in the post-GMA period.

A third option, to remain in power beyond 2010 — as some in her Cabinet proposes — is a political minefield. Marcos did it in 1972 with the declaration of martial law — bringing forth the Marcos dictatorship and ruining the country. However, he had a certain level of popular support, the full control of the military, and the tacit tolerance of the Catholic church and Western powers at that time. GMA had none of these today.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

85 thoughts on “Shake, rattle and roll

  1. The Slate article points to an excellent study but we have to disregard Tim Harford’s last paragraph as there are clearly lessons for economic policy. As Dani Rodrik explain in his blog (talking about that study):

    …think of the product space as a forest, goods as trees, and entrepreneurs as monkeys. Countries develop as monkeys jump from tree to tree. Trees further away are harder to jump to. Some parts of the forest are denser than others. What trees you have monkeys on today determines where your monkeys will be tomorrow. And it goes from there. – Dani Rodrik – July 28, 2007

    How to breed more monkeys (aka entrepreneurs) and grow more trees (areas of business activity) near each other in a way that would make it easier for the monkeys to swing from tree to tree is the role (and challenge) of industrial policy.

  2. The main hypothesis at “Hawk Central” is that we are no longer fighting the old Moro rebellion in Mindanao.

    The true test of this hypothesis is a prediction that the level of violence will now settle at a new and higher plateau compared to the past.

    I make the explicit prediction that this time, it is not self-containing, and that even if the bishops, widows and peace talkers have their way, real events on the ground will convince them of how wrong they are that this is bidnez as usual.

    I predict that the number of AFP dead will double in the next month and that a major terrorist attack will happen in Manila or another large Philippine city this year.

    Probably Umar Patek’s calling card: a one ton IED aimed at some public infrastructure like Naia3 or the Pandacan Oil Refinery.

    All the signs are there, even if only the hawks can see them. The doves are just too busy cooing…

  3. DJB, it’s a no brainer to predict a terrorist attack. It’s also a no brainer to see how the hawks would react to take advantage of the situation.

  4. It’s also disingeneous to tar the ‘doves’ (and whoever you wish to include in that category) with the stigma of such a future disaster especially since it is the hawks who usually stumble (intentionally or unintentionally) in the area of intelligence gathering because of their ideological blinders and/or commercial interests.

  5. Writing about hawks, doves and terrorists, I remember a news item some years back about an American whose hotel room in Davao exploded because of which he was brought to a hospital there under poliuce guard but was later, allegedly, whisked away by FBI agents without the consent of competent authority. The incident that brought news out was the anger on the part of Mayor Duterte that was sparked by the taking of the man from police custody. Is that the kind of hawk we have here, DJB? Or the kind of hawks that bomb a neighbor’s house and everyone in it because the head of the neighbor’s family talks tough against the hawks? Or one that manufactures “intelligence” to justify its actions? Or those that supply American armaments to Kurdish rebels in Turkey? Look at the world: Many places are ruined and yet the hawks thrive from protecting the world from terrorists while the rest suffer. Thanks, but no thanks. Hawks should go some place else, preferably an island, build themselves an impregnable wall and give us doves, terrorists and the rest of the world some news on how well you tolerate each other.

  6. DJB,

    Don’t give the hawks any ideas about bombing the Pandacan oil refinery

    But just in case they’re planning to do it, don’t forget to remind them to leave a demand note with a radio station or a tv network.

    You know it doesn’t help antiterror law advocacy if the bombers have no demands

  7. cvj,
    I am making predictions that put me at hazard of ridicule if they do not come true. I take credit only for worrying about this very real danger and not cooing peace as the doves do.

    Why is this “disingenuous”?

    And why do you begrudge the element of serendipity and luck, when stumbling upon the lethal plans of nihilists? When they discovered Ramzi Youssef’s lair in Malate, it was because he burned that evening’s schwarma and neighbors got nosy.

    I know now why the Left and Liberals hate Anti Terrorism Law. It takes attention away from them and gives pride of place in Hell to those who have the savage guts to hack off a human being’s head or limbs to get at their jewelry.

    I call for the strict enforcement of the Revised Penal Code and the H.S.A. against all known suspects, and using all necessary and sufficient force. Peace Talks can go on, but the works of diplomacy must not interfere with those of Justice.

    In other words, UNTIL a peace deal is reached, it is the simple duty of all to uphold the law. Law Enforcement is the clear alternative to the nilpotent and vicious cycle of no-war-no-peace. Justice and Diplomacy operate on different time scales: now and much later, respectively!

  8. For the American Jihadist on Tips on How to Attract the Big Boys Involved in this Muslim Jihad.

    Start organizing your friends in the Philippine government to access the Special Operation Group in the U.S. Embassy. The Patriot Act has resulted in the consolidation of the different intel agencies of the U.S. primarily under the DOD. That would be the guy probably second in command to the Defense Attache. They have direct access to the so called hunter teams in the region. (NY Times have exposed these hunter teams some time ago.)

    You may volunteer yourself with some of your trusted men (if you can organize some) to start either a local hunter team (you will have to be tested first) or simply access funding for a advocacy and communication plan to spread the word that Filipinos are ready to join the U.S. and the U.K. in the war to destroy the Muslim drive for the Caliphate. Make posters that will distributed to all Philippine consulates most especially in the Middle East where most Pinoys are working. For Lebanon prepare Death to Hizbollah posters. You may use your picture of Big Mike and GMA on the posters. You may put a headband on either of them with the Arabic words mentioned above. In Saudi Arabia make sure the posters are laced with Death to Shia’s and Death to Persians. You may make special posters with the words death to Al Qaeda for the embassy in Pakistan.

    It is key that the communication reaches the guys in Pakistan. Some of these guys have direct access to the more notorious and deadly planners for Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Some feel that Pakistan is playing both sides of the fence here. You could try to access Al Jazeera and come out with a direct challenge to these guys that you have the support of all Filipinos in the Middle East who want to make sure that the Muslim Caliphate will never succeed. Tell everyone that you have the message of the Crusaders whom you represent. (We will rock you)

    The most spectacular terrorist acts were conceptualized by Pakistanis. They have a huge group of very highly skilled engineers. Those guys in Mindanao might not have the capability of the bigger bangs you require.

    Try getting in touch with Karen Hughes in the White House who is charge of the communication plan of of the U.S. to reach Muslims. You might get an opportunity to appear on Fox news and be invited to speak with Bill O’ Reilly. There is this hot Pinay chick (though married)Malkin who would look good in leather who you might want to network with. Maybe you might be invited to be seen with Cheney. That would really do it. Try to convince Fil-Ams in the States to put up streamers outside their homes with the words death to the different groups named above.

    Maybe if you would do all these then you the probability would rise that there could be guaranteed a really deadly terrorist attack here in the Philippines with a really high body count and massive destruction.

    You are either a doctrinaire idealist or an oblivious one.
    Time to shit or get off the pot.

  9. The Doves, btw, are not exactly harmless. They secretly celebrate the victories of the abu sayyaf and actively oppose the government’s earnest efforts to enforce the law. And they are to be found at the highest levels of government. Jess Dureza and General Rodolfo Garcia are the main reasons why the warrants of arrest issued by a Basilan judge were left unserved–because of the need to put all the onus of an “all out war” on the Abu Sayyaf–just the beheaders, not the ambush killers!

    Why? To save Dureza’s deal with the MILF, and GMA’s legacy of a Moro Commonwealth homeland–the future Islamic Republic of Bangsamorostan–in payment for Maguindanao and the 2004/2007 elections.

  10. “Human rights are precious and that is why only a few should have them.” Stephen Colbert (I hope you know where this guy is coming from)

  11. Mb,
    Are you still stuck in the Colmenares Fallacy and the definition of terrorism? Get over it and move on. Even he has given up on that silly argument.

    But you and hvrds can root for THEOCRACY all you want. I notice hvrds uses the same ad hominem and jingoistic dare you to go to war argument that you do. Except it takes him ten times longer to get to the point.

    It’s very entertaining.

  12. “What is not apparent, however, is that the deployment of sea-based Pinoy workers fell by 11.1 percent to just 123,950 while land-based workers fell 3.2 percent to 422,262 during the period.”

    Maybe it is the air-based OFWs’ deployment that increased.

    kidding aside, it is IMHO; the wall street types,the ex ceos accepting a managerial job,unsupported inventors,software engineers ,the doctors that remained doctors,etc,etc that increased the remittances steady.

    Have a problem, with that idea mr. idea man.

  13. “What is not apparent, however, is that the deployment of sea-based Pinoy workers fell by 11.1 percent to just 123,950 while land-based workers fell 3.2 percent to 422,262 during the period.”

    Or this could simply indicate an increase in Filipino workers deploying overseas without going through the the claws and runarounds of POEA and OWWA.

  14. Hawk and Dove….

    reminds me of Justice League (the cartoon and the comic series)

    Conspiracy theories,predictions what ifs,whatever

    let us zoom in to te present.

    Re:the Marines,all in their mind is to avenge the few and the proud.

    as to what the role of the hawks and doves in RP and/or US government is,the marines would not care less.

  15. I am not taklking about chain of command(role of rp gov),since we are taling of conspiracy theories and all in the name of commerce peace talks,and so on. At present,the Marines would not care less unlesss told to go elsewhere.

  16. DJB, who are you kidding? You’ve made the cost-benefit calculation and are positioning yourself (and your ideology) to sieze the agenda once a terrorist incident occurs. If your ‘prediction’ does not come true, we will all be thankful that such a calamity has not come to pass. If it does, then you will use it (a-la ‘9-11 changed everything‘) to to justify acts of repression by the State within the framework of the Neocon-led Clash of Civilizations.

    And where is your third paragraph coming from? As far as i’m aware, i didn’t even bring up the capture of Ramzi Youssef which is to be rightly credited to the vigilance of the Filipino people, not to any HSA. Either you’re arguing to the wrong point or maybe you’re confusing me for someone else.

  17. cvj,
    you said, “It’s also disingeneous to tar the ‘doves’ (and whoever you wish to include in that category) with the stigma of such a future disaster especially since it is the hawks who usually stumble (intentionally or unintentionally) in the area of intelligence gathering because of their ideological blinders and/or commercial interests.”

    Yes, I will throw it up to doves’ faces if and when such terrorist disasters occur. I will blame the doves, but not nearly as much as the terrorists, who should get forty years, while the doves deserve lil more than embarrassment, which hopefully will lead to a change of heart and mind.

    But I won’t make any apologies for the SCIENTIFIC METHOD applied to blogging and opinion making. We test our theories by making falsifiable hypotheses (predictions).

    You guyz got nothing but name-calling.

  18. “The Doves, btw, are not exactly harmless. They secretly celebrate the victories of the abu sayyaf and actively oppose the government’s earnest efforts to enforce the law.”

    DJB. I think their idea of peace is an Even Steven idea. That IZZZ dangerous indeed. They think if the Moro’s can kill enough soldiers and they, the doves, can hold back the military, there would be peace. They are telling themselves, they cannot stop the Moros when the Moros are angry, but they can stop the military. All they need is to satisfy the Moro’s taste for AFP blood then all would be over.

  19. brian, i seem to recall your saying once, you’re from mindanao? i think it would help to discuss your views if you did grow up there.

    djb: what worries me is that we are dealing with a martial culture, or cultures (the moros, not all of the groupings of which are unique). and like i said, you have several views contending even among the muslims: traditional ideas of royalty/territory, a more secular notion of moro nationhood or at least autonomy, and a pan-islamic ideology.

    your apprehension is that too many people may be fighting an old war when a new one has begun. my apprehension is, before you get into wars, you had better have a competent armed forces (including officer corps), a government that can lead a war effort and which enjoys public support, and that includes a public aware of the costs of war and prepared to pay that price.

    deprive any military offensive of these things and it won’t necessarily fail, but it may cause more problems than it might solve, even in the short term. i am very skeptical of the capabalities of our high command, the political abilities of our civilian leaders, or even the willingness of the country to bear such an effort. or even if the effort is going to be worth it, considering the capabalities of those offering armed resistance.

    i’d be interested to know why more surgical operations aren’t what’s called for, instead of a general offensive, although if dick gordon’s to be believed, the military may be conducting operations in a tidier manner than we assume, from a distance. in which case the afp and supporters of the war like you have to do more, to explain what’s going on and at stake.

    i would hazard to guess that what the moros would hold in the highest contempt, is a half-baked measure; they can respect force even when inexorably applied, perhaps? but is it being inexorably applied? i think not, nor can it be, because beyond instinctive flag-waving i don’t know if a proper connection between the public and those leading the offensive has been made.

  20. Whatever our stand on the matter, we should support the troops!

    At Fort Bonifacio Marine HQ they are holding a wake for 13 of the 15 slain soldiers fighting in Basilan, one whom designed a T-shirt:

    “You may pay our salaries, but we will repay you with our lives.”

    It’s an angry, pitiful t-shirt, actually. The result of being shit upon by doves.

  21. mlq3,

    i guess the problem is that sometimes we don’t have a choice about when we must fight a war. That is the central blind spot of many people, sometimes it is forced on us and we just don’t have the time to prepare a competent army as you call it. In this particular fracas, we were just looking for Giancarlo Bossi, when whammo, heads start rolling.

    So forgive me for wondering how PEACE TALKS suddenly became the solution to THAT atrocity. Peace talks with a group that claim to have had nothing to do with the beheadings, and whom the govt and the doves are willing to let pass, even though they did the ambush killing.

    What exactly is the connection of diplomacy to law enforcement?

    In the debates over HSA, people kept saying it’s not needed because the component crimes are all punishable under the Revised Penal Code. But when the authorities try to apply the Revised Penal Code, the Media portrays it as all out war.
    Are the critics of HSA at least calling for application of the Revised Penal Code, by all necessary and sufficient force, as they said we could always do?

    No they are calling for Peace Talks as the solution to clear murder and mutilation.

    Nelson Allaga described the current operations in Basilan in precisely the way you just did: surgical operations. What justification is there for calling it a “general offensive”?

    That’s Inquirer-speak, mlq3. After initial confusion sown by Dureza and Garcia, the govt is slowly coming to its senses.

    It’s time for a lil law enforcement before we bomb them with Gordon campaign posters; Loren free ports [nuts!]; and Jose de Venecia’s mini martial plan.

    I don’t see why these ding dongs have to prevaricate. Why don’t they just call for an air-drop of the cash and issue an open invitation to Tora Bora to come and visit scenic Bangsamorostan?

  22. DJB, yeah i know you’re setting up the doves to take some of the blame for terrorist disasters. That has always been a part of your ideological toolbox. As for your ‘hypothesis’, it needs to be less convoluted and more rigorously constructed if you want us to believe that you are applying the scientific method instead of a sales technique. As it is, your prediction is at a level where it still admits alternative causes, explanations, and implications.

    As a ‘hawk’, i observe that your advocacy involves acting as if you’re a lone Cassandra warning against the danger of terrorist attacks with no one listening to you. That is disingeneous because there are those on the opposing side (me included) who likewise recognize that the terrorist threat is real. What you and i disagree on is the means to address the threat.

    BTW, i support the troops but not because you say so. I especially show my support by not wanting them to get killed in ill conceived wars.

  23. cvj,

    Breeding monkeys with trees clustered around by some well-thought design (or not-too-market-freewheeling economic policies) will probably result in the doves and the hawks calling out each other in the long run and may even render lame ducks irrelevant, with one caveat – beware of the monkey-eating Eagle (not the endangered one) but that which proclaims being simply self-regarding is a virtue or something to that effect and whose (ancestral?) domain seems limitless (of course this time as abetted by spy drones) . . .

    . . . which brings us – speaking now of the “higher forms” – this quizzer: What is the difference between “indigenous people” (IP) and “disingenuous people” (DP)?

    Let me venture an answer: If IPs are supposed to be the stewards of the commons (for eons they seem to have proven their roles as such), DPs are those who promise livelihood will be created and thousands of “trees” (in the above concept) will sprout even as top soils are stripped, basin opened to flashfloods, waste tailings dumped into land sites or pumped into the sea, with the risk to the biodiversity of the commons being forever irretrievable (in the strict sense of the word, they are not miners but underminers).

    hrvds, pls keep those informative lit going regardless of whether you can’t go right with some who think you are either a cut n’ paster or a kilometric poster.

    Know what, I’m beginning to think that my still favorite Mar could be facing a serious challenge (not only from a Sonny who’s going around like the youthful Ninoy) but from someone whose kukute is as big as Dick’s (you could even call that letter as SOMA – State of Mindanao Address).

    Great entry today mlq3! Just love it.

  24. Abe,

    Your Mar had something insightful to say about a hot issue here, the HSA. He opined that laws only affect those who are within the effective control of government. Hence, the misnomer HSA, which is another statute that curtails civil liberties, chokes citizens who are already law-abiding. Its supposed targets go on as they were, unaffected, while the taxpaying citizens surrender more freedoms. Parang pinaghihigpitan pa kung sino ang matino.

    The better measure, he adds, is one centered on the strengthening of the capabilities of the security forces such as the automation-networking of systems that are still done manually.

    I could not help agreeing with him. The government really just wants to zip the mouths of its detractors with the HSA. While the original motivation was to please America, leaving the oppositionists with no choice on the matter as it could hurt the aid we receive, the administration enlarged it to include scare factor directed towards the legitimate progressive organizations. The law by itself is already bad. The politics behind it makes it suck all the more. A law and the politics behind it cannot be discussed separately. How it will be enforced or abused depends a lot on the latter.

    Civil liberties are not mere rhetoric gems either. Security of these rights has practical ramifications. I don’t think I need to belabor the fact that the relaxation of government’s stranglehold on the common people was the precursor to economic surges in China, Russia and former monarchies. Closer to home, Ka Pepe once said, “If you lose your freedom for bread, you will end up losing your bread as well.”

  25. “brian, i seem to recall your saying once, you’re from mindanao? i think it would help to discuss your views if you did grow up there.”

    Nah, my relatives had land there. A lot of people from my province went to buy land there in the 60s and 70s. Never been to Mindanao. My father taught school kids in Mindanao before I was born. He befriended several Muslims but told me he always had them walk in front of him. Carried a gun too. Go figure.

  26. bogchimash,

    don´t know if I agree with your assessment of China´s and Russia´s economic surges being enabled by the expansion of civil liberties. I see other reasons, like supercheap (slave)labour cost in China and high prices of oil on world markets in Russia´s case. Civil liberties took a backseat eversince Mr Putin came to power, alas, and in China I see no warming up to the very concept of civil liberties in last couple of decades.

    However I most heartily agree with your take on HSA. You are absolutely spot on, I´d say.

  27. Abe,
    the murder rate among human beings has been roughly constant since the time of Cain and Abel.

    I suppose this means that murderers are beyond the ability of the law to control and we should get rid of the laws of murder?

    That is what makes Mar Roxas’ recent performance on TV so intellectually and morally confused.

    And you know where his and your problem comes from, Abe. In my humble opinion you and he have never actually read 2007 HSA, have you?

    I can tell because both you and he make the same wrong arguments based on a clear ignorance of the Law.

    You know how someone you are discussing something important with can sound intelligent and reasonable, but stuff he says reveals he is lacking key information due to a self-imposed ignorance?

    Ignorance is very different it seems from being stupid, which is not what I am calling Mar’s arguments.

    But his idea of fighting the war on terror has something to do with good airport management practices or something, from what I could gather last week.

    He’s a lightweight. Chiz Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano will eclipse his star, especially when the Cheap Medicines bill turns out to be an awfully self-fulfilling prophecy.

  28. cvj,
    The hypothesis is very simple: We are now dealing with JI and AQ in Mindanao. I predicted several subsequent events that would indicate this hypothesis is true. I ask you to make similar predictions that would prove it to be false.

    Simple enough for you, or still too complex and convoluted?

  29. bogchimash,
    It was to please America initially that we wanted to pass the Anti terrorism Law???


    Don’t you know we proposed our law in 1996, five years before 9/11 and before America even thought of the Patriot Act?

    It was to please the Pope, whose assassination was only accidentally discovered when the Iraqi agents Ramzi Youssef and Khalid Sheik Mohammed burned their schwarma one night in the apartment next to where Pope John Paul was gonna stay. (Please don’t bore me anyone with the usual “see, see, we don’t really need the law, just schwarma sniffing dogs at the airport.”)

  30. The 2 comments on your link “How Physics…” were more enlightening than the actual piece itself.

    lloyd667 said:

    Third, like all such “barriers to development” theories, this one raises the question of how any countries became rich. I would guess that Japan, Korea, Malasia, Taiwan and so forth would all look like they were in the backwater of the network before they got rich. Yet, they did it. Harford suggests that maybe the answer is government intervention, which these countries surely enjoyed. But, lots of poor countries also “enjoy” government intervention.

    BeNk said:

    There is no reason to believe gov’t is omnipotent in this, or any other, regard. There may be a gap that the markets alone can’t close; a societal gap or a cultural gap or some other issue. Countries may just take time to mature or find ways around gaps and barriers created by other nations.

    Certainly countries are complex creatures of economies, people, geography, etc. There are ways to characterize and describe their development and barriers to it… but there may not be such a simple solution as communism/centralized decision making that can outsmart millions or billions of self-interested, sometimes clever, semi-rational individuals all acting with or against their own governments as they perceive the interest of self, clan, family, religion, history, etc.

    Benk’s last paragraph was stated beautifully. Describing perfectly the pieces at work in nation-building.

  31. Number 5 on Dick Gordon’s letter:

    “We can drain local support for extremism and terrorism if the local people can feel and see vital public and social services and good governance in their midst.”

    He continues on..

    “Simply stated, consistency, accountability and follow-through leadership in ARMM and government
    agencies must be committed to peace and progress in the region.”


    “What we face in the South, finally, is a battle for hearts and minds. The conflict cannot be won by force alone.”

    And for Dick having the need to say this, really puts to question GMA’s sense in governing:

    “Likewise, notwithstanding the fiscal autonomy of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao(ARMM), it is still subject to audit by the Commission on Audit (COA). Failure to do so will empower the President or the Secretary of Finance to reduce, suspend, or cancel the release of funds
    intended for ARMM to the extent of the amounts that are unaccounted for.”

    Or haven’t we learned enough from the billions flushed down the drain (or into his pockets) by Nur Misuari?

  32. On Habito’s Column:

    Habito’s commentary on the topsy-turvy stock market and the falling peso makes me want to remind you about the roots of modern Philippine businesses.

    Why, Habito asks are the poor not benefitting from an upbeat market and why do they suffer more on a bearish market outlook? The answer is found in the grandfathers and great grand fathers of our current business leaders. Philippine businesses come from the haciendas. In the hacienda during the time of the sugar boom, the land owners became wealthy on a legendary scale. The field workers. Same ol’ same ol. During the sugar crisis, the land owners suffered a blow in their lifestyle and foreign bank accounts. The field workers? They starved.

    Today’s Philippine economy is the same old hacienda economy and our Harvard-graduated business leaders the same old hacienderos.

  33. D8: You hit the nail on the head with “Or haven’t we learned enough from the billions flushed down the drain (or into his pockets) by Nur Misuari?”

    Saludo, mon demonyo! I was just gonna say, none of these ideas are new, with due respect to dick, loren, jdv and the other marshall planners. Throwing “gushes of money” at the problem, as Mar Roxas ebulliently put it has indeed been tried before. Yet here we are acting as if the
    notion is a new discovery, or that those stingy stingy hawks won’t give a dime to the poor suffering Moros!

    I think it is in the nature of paying RANSOM actually, and the whole ancestral domain concept is a wholesale expiation of Catholic guilt by Davide and Bernas in 1987!

    but I refuse to debate THAT issue unless people promise to read the relevant laws and documents and not just Conrad de Quiros, k?

  34. BrianB,

    Compared to corn, sugar cane is twice as efficient at producing the food that we call “sugar”.

    What really happened is that the American Corn Lobby knew it would lose the entire US Food Industry as a customer if Philippine sugar ever got a foothold in the American market.

    So what did they do? They got the US Govt to OVERPRICE Philippine sugar out of the US market by creating a quota with prices ABOVE the world market level.

    This destroyed any incentive on the part of the hacenderos to invest in and grow their sugar business and to modernize its production, packaging and distribution.

    The Americans made them fat dumb and happy.

    What really should have happened is that Philippines sugar should have been supplying the US food industry since 1898. Sugar would be half the price to the US consumer and Philippines would’ve owned the American continental market for sugar!

    that was the plan in fact, until the Democrats capture Congress in 1912 and everything changed!

  35. sorry i meant the Dems captured the white house in 1912. It was another avian debate between the hawks and doves on what to do with the First Iraq.

    The Republican Wm Howard Taft had such magnificent plans for the Philippines. But it was not to be!

  36. I don’t want to opine more on the HSA for personal reasons.

    Let us go to DJB’s bigger picture:

    Our country will be the next IRAQ.

    I think he wants us to prepare for a regional war,or much worse a PAN ASIAN war.

    Don’t worry, its been going on for give or take 5000 years.

    Even if the ideologies and methodologies,players,all the factors and variables of the equation have changed; after the equal sign it is still war.

    I am talking about war; not just Cain and Abel murder.

    Per World history IRAQ that we kmnow of today was the cradle of civilization.

    If that was so, how come the cradle experienced too many wars.

    Maybe us human beings were meant to go Darwin’s way alll the way;survival of the fittest.

    Speaking of darwin

    That we came from monkeys,FYI monkeys eat their own for some reason other than hunger,or anger.

    I don’t want to believe that we can be capable of that.

    apparently,we can; only we don’t eat our own,or do we?

  37. DJB,

    I suppose we’d be a rich nation if it had happened as planned, right. Sugar workers will get paid executive salaries, right? Sakadas will get insurance, health care and educational benefits for their kids.

    I am familiar with the sugar industry, more than you know. Did you know that it was the people of Negros Occidental who first started this idea of a federalism when Cory threatened to implement CARP? Did you know that during the sugar crisis, hacienderos would squeeze their field workers even more by selling them overpriced lunches and cigarettes? Did you know that hacienderos fancy themselves as the cultivators of culture in a land of savages. Just ten years ago you can find people from Bacolod who’d tell you this without batting an eye lash.

    Yes, maybe the American right didn’t see anything wrong with haciendas. These are the same people who had cotton fields and owned slaves. But what is your point? Don’t blame the hacendados, blame the Americans?

  38. Blame the protectionist Americans, mostly Democrats even today, who, under the cover of “anti-imperialism” made sure we didn’t get our foot in the door.

    The US Sugar Industry is worth what, 500 billion dollars a year? More?

    Believe me, we wouldn’t have sakadas if we owned THAT market.

    I think you want to blame the hacienda system on the Americans, but only because you actually bear such a Deep Faith in America that you are surprised they did not!

    but it was the Catholic church that thwarted poor Wm. Howard Taft Avenue when he tried to distribute friar lands to the indios.

  39. I don’t care about American influence. I just want the haciendas eradicated. Distribute all hacienda land and we’ll have peace on earth and I’ll care no more and concentrate on my poetry. And Manolo, I don’t mean twenty, thirty years from now. I mean two decades ago.

  40. “The US Sugar Industry is worth what, 500 billion dollars a year? More?

    Believe me, we wouldn’t have sakadas if we owned THAT market.”

    We’ll be a very sweet Saudi Arabia.

  41. brianb,
    oh okay, i know where you can buy some good stone adzes for authentic pleistocene style semi nomadic agriculture.

  42. Whoever killed Ninoy and for whatever motives should be as irrelevant as Ninoy is today? You bet not. I smell an oligarchic conspiracy that fits right into my general view of this oligarchy. Fools trying to be genuine oligarchs in the mode of the Medicis.

  43. Ninoy was aginst vioelence against violence.

    What Tte Aquino family wants now is for the fall guys to tell us once and for all on who did kill Ninoy.

    If they are still afraid,maybe there is still a reason…like who suddenly is rebuilding their mansiomns and claiming ownwership to all Lucio Tam’s property.

    As to deal or no deal…….

  44. “It was to please the Pope, whose assassination was only accidentally discovered when the Iraqi agents Ramzi Youssef and Khalid Sheik Mohammed burned their schwarma one night in the apartment next to where Pope John Paul was gonna stay.”

    It would be smart for the American Jihadist to first confirm with his intel handler/handlers to get his facts right. Yousef and his Uncle Khalid are Pakistani’s. These two guys are the original architects of both attacks on the WTC. How did they become Iraqi agents? Make sure you check your facts as it is difficult to be on message with flawed intelligence from your handlers. Or did he simply make it up?

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