A business paper reports, Net effect of peso rise negative: Majority say well-being unchanged, but more report being ‘better off before.’ The column of Cielito Habito, On fearless forecasts, is instructive. First, he points out that,
When economic analysts made their 2007 projections about Philippine economic performance late last year or early this year, three things were not quite anticipated enough in formulating their projections or forecasts.
One, most had assumed that the foreign exchange rate would average near P50 to the dollar. The government had assumed it to be in the range P51-53 in drawing up the 2007 budget that was approved by Congress. Two, crude oil prices had been expected to be softer, following earlier episodes of above $70-a-barrel prices that had provoked near-double digit inflation in 2005. The government’s assumption was around $63-67 a barrel. And three, world economic growth–especially in the US, the world’s biggest economy and a dominant trading partner to most countries–was expected to moderate somewhat, but not differ substantially from the 2006 performance.
And then he tries to explain what’s happened since:
What happened? In the case of the exchange rate, the dollar turned out to slide more steeply than had earlier been anticipated. For the most part, it has lately been influenced by the US subprime housing loans crisis that hardly anybody anticipated (although there were some isolated voices warning of the problem even early on, and who are now able to say “I told you so”). Major central banks are also turning away from the dollar as a reserve asset, and unloading large amounts of it (China has reportedly done so recently). For us, it is also because the surge in OFW remittances continues to surprise, especially in the face of the apparent slowdown in the numbers of workers actually deployed overseas.
Surging crude oil prices are attributed to declining US petroleum product inventories, anticipated supply disruptions due to recent bombings in oil-rich Afghanistan and an oil pipeline in Yemen, continuously surging demands from rapidly growing Asian economies, and the continued weakening of the dollar. Meanwhile, the impacts of the subprime crisis on the real US economy are just unfolding, and most authoritative analyses as exemplified by that of Bernanke point to a short-term outlook that does not look good.
Now of course there is always something good and something bad in whatever’s going on, and the weak dollar means the peso helps absorb what could otherwise be a nasty oil shock; but it does mean adjustments are required all around and the citizenry isn’t seeing any adjusting among those in official circles. The result is a cranky population and a government (both administration and opposition) unable to appeal to the public to pull together for -what? The administration seems more stumped, since after all, it has the resources and the opposition does not, and it has the numbers in the cabinet and the congress which the opposition does not, so obviously, the burden of proof is on the administration.
And since it’s preached from day one that everything is a numbers game, then it ought to be given plenty of rope to hang itself with.
Hence my column for today, which was Don’t engage or dignify it. You can read the documents I mentioned over at my entry for today in Inquirer Current.
It was good to hear that the attitude towards the ruling coalition was the one adopted by the opposition. Read (UPDATE 6) Pulido complaint sufficient in form–House panel:
The committee’s approval of the motion came a little past 3:00 p.m. or before opposition members walked out after Arroyo’s allies rejected the supplemental complaint filed by lawyer and United Opposition spokesman Adel Tamano to strengthen the Pulido case.
Deputy Minority Floor Leader Roilo Golez said the opposition would not participate until the committee accepted the supplemental complaint as an “integral part” of the one filed by Pulido.
“It would be very awkward on the part of the member of the Minority to be part of the proceeding because precisely we don’t feel that this is an honest-to-goodness impeachment complaint,” Golez said.
“We don’t wish to do disrespect the committee but we’ve already made our position very clear Mr. Chairman — we don’t think it will be meaningful, it would be useful for this committee to deliberate upon what we feel is a sham complaint whose objective is to frustrate an honest-to-goodness impeachment complaint within one year,” he said.
“And therefore, Mr. Chairman we’d like to state that members of
the Minority don’t wish to participate in this proceeding for as long as the addendum and the supplemental submitted by Attorney Tamano is not part of it,” Golez said.
But Golez asked the committee to allow a member of the opposition to observe the proceedings.
Bravo! Additional details here: House justice panel rejects supplemental complaint.
I only wish TV would then cover the further deliberations of the administration coalition as it takes its own Punch and Judy Show to its absurd and inevitable conclusion -leaving the House ruling coalition being the sole source of the political noise the President herself provoked. And really, the main source of the noise is the President’s camp, not that of her critics.
Something tells me the President herself is getting confused. When she says (see Arroyo to Chinese-Filipino traders: Help me with detractors), I wonder how effective she think it’ll be. She wasn’t making a speech to a business organization known for opposing any president, ever, at any time, over anything serious. And at the same time, I don’t think Filipino-Chinese businessmen are different from any other kind, in that they’ve learned how to say “no” to politicians, including making themselves scarce during campaign season -the ability of governments to put the squeeze on businessmen has diminished, though not entirely disappeared, and in many ways it only makes sense for businessmen to assist local, and not national, politicians, except for those in industries (say power generation, or the operating of ports) that are highly susceptible to presidential and congressional intervention in, say, franchise renewals.
The President’s problem is that her own allies are getting greedy (see: Danding lays down terms for JDV ouster: Tells GMA he wants Fuentebella as Speaker), cranky, and demanding (see: Enrile turns up word war with De Venecia: Senator threatens more exposés against Speaker), and disobedient.
And so, the result is self-created scandals that no opposition worth its salt can ignore, much as I do believe that the political class would much rather let sleeping dogs lie and plan ahead for 2010. A kind of truce had resulted in May this year, when the body politic was relieved by the pressure valve known as elections, and where the public derived satisfaction by voting an opposition senate but kept the pork flowing through an administration-dominated House; the President would be kept on her toes until 2010 but otherwise, everyone could start planning for life after GMA. This explains, quite adequately, I think, Amando Doronila’s observation (which I think is true) that Resign-snap poll bid has no critical mass.
But no. Look at every controversy since, and it’s been a case of the administration shooting itself in the foot. Over and over.
Read this recent entry in the blog of Jove Francisco, for an insight into the continuing tensions within the administration coalition:
Ermita denied that Mrs Arroyo has any knowledge of what Villarosa revelead.
Which is quite interesting because the lady solon is a known and consistent companion of the President in her trips abroad. (I always see her joining the entourage whenever hinahatid namin si PGMA sa airport and kapag sumasama kami sa biyahe ng Pangulo).
Puno… supposedly one of the “RING LEADERS” of KAMPI distanced himself from the cash gifts revelation saying pa nga that he’s very hurt with what his party mates did, especially because HE WAS THE LAST TO KNOW.
And because Villarosa’s revelation made it clear that the cash gifts came from KAMPI and not from LAKAS as PUNO claimed weeks ago, he apologized to House Speaker Jose De Venecia’s for all the things he said.
Shades of PGMA’s “I AM SORRY!”
And then read this reflection, by Randy David, from last Saturday:
It may well be that the only thing that distinguishes the Arroyo presidency from any other is the manner in which cash-giving has become so much a part of the standard operating procedure of her office. No other administration has been known to resort to buying political favors so literally, as brazenly, and as routinely as Ms Arroyo’s. If this is what it takes to awaken us to the glaring discrepancy between the laws we profess and the dirty practices by which we conduct our national life, then surely we have her to thank.
In our quest for reform, we tend to ignore the realities that constrain our politicians and our electorate to behave in particular ways. We are engrossed in the easy moralism that permits us to express our disgust for the failings of our leaders in government. We cling to the belief that if only we can rid the nation of the present bunch of politicians, the country will surely be better. I think we forget that our leaders, like many of our voters, are no more than actors in a political stage governed by the hidden scripts of social inequality and dominance. We expect great things when we replace old actors with new ones, unaware that without a fundamental revision of the script, the performance will not be very different.
That script, the one that animates what we call traditional politics, provides not for the roles of government and opposition, as in the modern stage, but only for a set of patron and client roles. Under its terms, political power in our society is to be contested not by alternating majorities and minorities, but by a very small ruling class. Unchallenged in its dominance, this class creates the illusion of plurality and choice through the constantly changing composition of its factions.
What does all this tell us? It tells us that the modern institutions by which we are supposed to conduct the governance of our nation will never function properly so long as the masses are trapped in poverty. It tells us that the choices offered by our present political parties, including those that purport to represent the poor, are false. It tells us that political parties that are not themselves financed by their members are a sham. It tells us that public officials who buy their way into public office are no more than merchants or agents; they are not the leaders. It tells us that voters who are hungry and needy cannot be political subjects in a democracy.
This political culture is bound to change, albeit slowly, as more and more of our people get out of poverty, largely by finding work abroad. The change is becoming visible in our growing intolerance for money politics and in the impatience with which we scan the horizon for new leaders.
But even as that talks place, and even with Doronila’s observations in mind, what to make of New Philippine Revolution who argues,
The people don’t want snap elections. It is costly a solution for the people to even consider. What most of the people want, based on a survey which I conducted during the past 3 weeks is for the military to break out from the totalitarian grip of Arroyo and stage a coup. I say again–the people are ready for a coup. They are sick and tired of Arroyo and De Castro and they have realized that it is futile to give these two officials more time in Malacanan.
Will a coup solve these problems?
It will because it assures the people of the downfall of Arroyo and De Castro. Look, what we need today is for government to regain the trust and confidence of the people. Obviously, the people don’t trust the civilian politicians. It’s clear that the people HATE or even LOATHE their present set of leaders and what this country needs right now is a fresh infusion of new blood, of new idealists that would fight the grafters and buckle down to work afterwards. If the idealistic soldiers don’t realize this, that they have now the chance, the opportunity to succeed in their mission of ousting Arroyo, then, they must stop whatever they are doing right now and just, remain masochists.
As for myself, I think February 2006 showed how the public mistrusts any military adventurism, while it sympathizes with the emotions that drives soldiers to mutiny; I recall observing at the time that there seemed a general consensus, crossing the political divide among politicized officers, that they viewed themselves as inappropriate for actually governing the country.
This is part of a process dating back to the fatal day when a group of Gringo Honasan’s troops attempting a coup mowed down ordinary citizens who heckled and jeered them, back in the 1980s. Since then, even military rebels have adopted more of a peaceful, People Power orientation to their adventurism, than say, the Thais. In 2001, it was the military top brass joining the protesters; in Oakwood, it was an armed sit-down strike; and the ringleaders submitted to trial and incarceration. In 2006, frustrated Marines were going to march to join rallyists, but with their weapons pointed downwards and by informing their superiors they wanted to protest, first.
Such as it is, a certain amount of chivalry has been demonstrated, but those who’ve submitted to the legal process are getting short shrift. Read Ellen Tordesillas to see why -and how the soldiers have reacted:
The exchanges in the morning session, just like in the past three hearings, centered on the unsigned pre-trial advice which is supposedly one of the basis of the charges against the 28 officers. The prosecution headed by Trial Judge Advocate Col. Feliciano Loy pushed for the resumption of the peremptory challenges and called on Capt. Isagani Criste, one of the six officers who have not exercised their right for peremptory challenge.
(When a member of a panel is challenged peremptorily by the accused, he is automatically ejected from the court.)
Criste’s lawyer, Alex Avisado, objected and moved that the proceedings be suspended until the PTA is signed by AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon. The PTA, submitted by Col. Pedro Davila, staff judge advocate, to Esperon recommended the disapproval of the of the Pre-trial Investigation report (PTIR) prepared by the team headed by Col. Al Perreras, which recommended the dismissal of mutiny charges against all the 37 accused officers and the filing of the lesser charge of conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman against some of the officers.
Just like in the past hearings, the defense lawyers argued that the PTA constitutes the information sheet and unless it is signed, it’s merely a scrap of paper. As Frank Chavez, Miranda’s lawyer said, “I shudder at the thought that in a civilian court, a man is charged with murder based on an unsigned information sheet.”
The court instructed the trial Judge Advocate to write the Chief of Staff and get a written comment on the matter. At past 12 noon, the court went into a lunch break.
When the court resumed at 1:30 p.m., it ruled that it was denying the motion for suspension of proceedings until Esperon signs the PTA.
The court said Esperon’s Nov. 17, 2006 memo referring to both the PTIR and the PTA in creating the special general court martial to try the officers, suffices as basis for the trial.The panel’s president, Maj. Gen. Jorgy Fojas ordered the resumption of the challenges.
Chavez stood up and declared: “I cannot take part in these sham proceedings. Sham because the accused are not legally charged. I have advised my client that he has the right not to participate in these sham proceedings.” Then he walked out.
One after another the other lawyers followed with their own stand not to participate in the proceedings until they are given a copy of a signed PTA. I remember Attorneys Rolando Cipriano, Vicente Verdadero, Rodrigo Artuz, Alex Avisado, Nole Panganiban, Jose Miguel Palarca, Ronald Ubaña, Ma. Cristina Garcia, Johnmuel Mendoza, Dante Xenon Atienza, Ian Pangalangan. They all walked out.
Outside the courtroom, I saw troops with red armbands and shields arriving and scurrying to secure the place.
Attorneys Gilbert Gallos, counsel for Col. Orlando de Leon, and Trixie Angeles, counsel for Capt. Ruben Guinolbay initially stayed and moved for a reconsideration of the panel on their motion to suspend the proceedings until a signed PTA is produced. “The career and life of my client are at stake,” Angeles pleaded.
The court denied their motion. Col. Loy moved to appoint the two as counsels for the accused. At this point, Angeles stood up and said, “As a member of the legal profession, I fear of lending my presence to the validation of this illegal proceedings. I asked to be excused.” Then she walked out. Gallos made the same manifestation and also walked out.
The only one left was Maj. Pooten, the military lawyer. The court appointed him counsel for the accused. He told the court that the accused officers have a right to counsel of their choice. He said, “I am an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and at the same time a lawyer. I will not allow myself to trample upon the rights of the accused gentlemen officers and be a party to the denial of their Constitutional rights. And by these, your Honors, I ask to be excused from these proceedings.”
Pooten was ordered to stay in the court room. The court ordered the resumption of the peremptory challenge. Loy called one by one the officers that have not exercised their right of peremptory challenge. First was Capt. Criste, who underscored three points: “I am not availing of the services of the military counsel. I am not waiving my right to peremptory challenge. I will only exercise it in the presence of counsel of my choice and when I’m given a copy of the signed PTA.”
Next to be called was Capt. Allan Aurino who made the same manifestation as Criste. Same thing with Capt. Frederick Sales, 1Lt. Ervin Divinagracia, and 1Lt. Jacon Cordero.
I saw 1Lt. Homer Estolas raising his hand as the court was giving its decision saying that the six have been deemed to have waived their right to peremptory challenge. They didn’t know that there is still one who have nor done so. The TJA and the panel ignored Estolas, who has not exercised his right to peremptory challenge.
At this point, Col. Ariel Querubin stood up. Then all the officers stood up and followed Gen. Miranda to the door. Col.Arnulfo Marcos, the commanding officer of the custodial management unit, tried to stop the officers: “Huwag kayong lumabas. Balik kayo sa upuan. Cool lang.” (Don’t leave. Back to your seats. Stay cool.).
Maj. Jason Aquino told him, “Nakita mo nang binababoy kami. Manindigan ka naman” (You see that our rights are being trampled. Make a stand.)
Miranda ordered: “Padaanin nyo kami, kaso namin ito (Get out of our way. This is our case).” Marcos had to give way.
Unaware that they have not called Lt. Estolas to exercise his right to peremptory challenge, members of the court went on with their oathtaking. Afterwards, Lt. Col. Marian Aliedo told reporters, “The court is now duly-constituted.”
The manual for court martial, however, states that the court becomes fully constituted once the peremptory challenges shall have all been exercised by the accused.
Outside the court, Col. Segumalian saluted Maj. Pooten: “Basil, I’m higher in rank than you but I salute you for standing up for your principles.You know of course that what you did won’t please the military leadership.”
Pooten replied, “I just did what I believe is right. What ever happens, I would still be lawyer.”
The one thing an officer expects, I think, is to be treated honorably by fellow officers. But when that stops happening… When a court martial begins to behave like the House of Representatives, and when military judges start resembling the majority members of the Committee on Justice, the ability of the system, to define what is permissible political behavior and what is not, breaks down.
Now I don’t think a coup is imminent, and I won’t support one; neither do I think civil war is about to break out; it seems more logical, to me, that we will all simply stagger along until 2010 at which point the country will really see if the President decides to stay or go. But this belief of mine rests on nothing unusual taking place -because, if something unusual took place, say a War in the Middle East, I really don’t know if our society will be capable of surviving the repercussions without serious, and class-based, civil unrest.
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