Current Senate’s design flaw

My column for today is Senate the victim of a design flaw. In it I refer to two articles, former Chief Justice Panganiban’s column on the Senate’s rules, and my 2007 election post mortem, An abnormal return to normality.

I couldn’t find it at the time, but the September 1, 1945 diary entry of Antonio de las Alas explains why the Senate ended up drawing lots to determine the terms of its members. And also, when the drawing of lots took place, which was in August, 1945. Conjecture: that the destruction of official election returns for the November, 1941 elections might have required that solution.

Meanwhile, today’s Inquirer editorial, Focus on consequences, urges the Senate not to ask members of the Supreme Court to inhibit themselves. Such an act would be, uh, counterproductive:

Nothing erodes the people’s confidence in the court of last resort like an unjust decision. And a decision becomes unjust not because of the intentions that move the justices to rule one way or another but because of the ruling’s very real consequences.

The majority in Neri vs. Senate Committee may have set out simply to strike a balance between an assertive Executive and a rambunctious Senate. But the consequences of the decision have been most severe: The ruling dangerously swung the pendulum in favor of an Executive that has made a virtue out of secrecy (and fools out of those who demand transparency and accountability).

Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on my show last Tuesday said something similar, he was particularly offended by the Palace’s assertion that the Supreme Court decision made the Senate hearings “null and void.” Was the Executive Secretary decreeing what would and would not be facts, and saying that what had taken place in full public view never happened, he snorted. He said on that basis alone the Senate had good reason to appeal to the Supreme Court and point out that what the Justices may have considered a nuanced decision (and one, he added, that by the manner of the voting avoided becoming a doctrinal decision) has to be reversed because of the way it’s being applied.

Rene Azurin, the other guest on the show, had this to say today in his column:


René B. Azurin

Legal but not right

History buff Manolo Quezon saw parallels between the recent Supreme Court decision on the Neri case and the same body’s decision on the Javellana case a quarter of a century ago. Invited to comment on this on his TV program the other night, I said that the most notable similarity was that, in both cases, the justices could (with even stronger legal grounds) have taken the side of the hapless Filipino citizen but chose instead to give in to the desires of a powerful President.

In both instances, the justices who opted to support the President found refuge in arguments that are, doubtless, technically legal but also morally unworthy. Without bothering to delve into personal motivations, one can of course conjure up a whole slew of reasons as to why taking the side of specific powerful (and wealthy) individuals is far easier than taking thide of the nameless and powerless public.

In both instances also, the Chief Justices — Roberto Concepcion in 1973 and Reynato Puno today — dissented passionately and eloquently.

For those too young to remember, the Javellana case revolved around the validity of the 1973 Constitution. Mr. Javellana (and several other petitioners) questioned this Marcos-written charter essentially on the basis of the fact that it had not been ratified as specified under the 1935 Constitution then in effect. In the set play that unfolded then, the fiction of “Peoples’ Assemblies” was created and people were gathered at such assemblies and asked to raise their hands if they were in favor of the proposed new constitution. On the basis of such show of hands, Mr. Marcos claimed the new constitution approved.

The Supreme Court then — in a 6 to 4 vote — agreed that the new constitution had not indeed been ratified because such show-of-hands procedure was not in consonance with the relevant provisions of the 1935 Constitution that required that changing to a new constitution needed “a majority of votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose”. Having conceded that point, however, the pro-Marcos justices then demonstrated legal inventiveness and contort-ability, producing the concept of “acquiescence” and saying that the “acceptance” of the people can take the place of ratification. Four justices agreed. Three justices contorted themselves in a somewhat different way, saying that they did not have sufficient knowledge to say for sure whether or not the people had “accepted” the new constitution and that they were therefore not competent to rule on that question. Only two justices disagreed. In the end, the 1973 Constitution was held to be in force because it was already in force and there were not enough votes to declare that it was not in force. Huh?

In the current Neri case, on the other hand, the Supreme Court — voting 9 to 6 — decided that the highest officials in the Executive branch of government could legitimately conceal information from the Senate and, by extension, the public, even if such information involved the commission of a crime. Inexplicably, moreover, the Supreme Court held that it was not even necessary for these officials to show why it was necessary to withhold the information elicited, the only potentially permissible bases being military or diplomatic secrets the disclosure of which might endanger national security. Here, the legal contort-ability of the justices supporting this decision can be seen in how they sidestepped the constitutional provisions that expressly mandate the public’s “right to information on matters of public concern” and require the State to adopt “a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest” and, instead, argued that the notion that presidential communications were “presumptively privileged” had greater legal weight. To a simple engineer like me, that’s illogical.

Actually, most lawyers I’ve heard propound on the merits of the decisions in these cases appear so fascinated by the nuanced — I call it hair-splitting — legal arguments that they seem unable to strip the cases down to their most basic elements. At their most basic, these cases are about calibrating the balance of power between the Presidency — which is entrusted with the collective resources of the entire society and the full coercive might of government — and the people, more specifically the institutions that are supposed to be the means of the people for monitoring the use of the entrusted power and for holding the Presidency accountable for its abuse. At their most basic, the decisions in these cases mean that the power of the Presidency has been enlarged and the power of the people (already minimal to begin with) has been reduced. That should distress every one of us citizens because, even under the best of circumstances, it is difficult for us to obtain transparency in the wielding of executive power and, except in extraordinary instances, virtually impossible to hold our highest officials to account.

Mr. Quezon quoted Santayana on learning from history. What these lawyers and the pro-Presidency justices seem to forget is that the historical role of the rule of law in any society is to ensure that the rights of the powerless are not violated or abridged by those with power. They seem to forget that the rule of law that we are heir to today grew out of the experience of common people with overbearing monarchs and is essentially the consequence of uprisings that allowed the people to establish some rules and structures supposed to constrain the power of those to be entrusted with the might of government and make them accountable for their actions.

What the Supreme Court in the Javellana case and in the Neri case did was essentially to affirm the legitimacy of Presidential actions that usurp power the people did not intend the Presidency to have.

Clearly, justices in both Courts exhibited remarkable feats of legal legerdemain, the kind that raises the hackles of those against whom it is practiced. These were the kind that make people wonder whether our honorable justices care only about being legal and not about being right.

An interesting Reuters story: Manila’s Arroyo treads risky path with rice campaign:

The government’s very public campaign to ensure supply has created a sort of artificial crisis with poorer people queuing for hours in the heat to stockpile state-subsidized rice.

Manila’s more frequent rice tenders have also boosted international prices, which in some cases have more than doubled this year…, hiking the government’s import bill and the cost of subsidizing the grain.

The Philippines has said it wants to import up to 2.2 million metric tons of rice for this year, which would be its biggest purchase of the grain in a decade. So far, it has bought 1.2 million metric tons and is holding a tender for 500,000 metric tons on April 17.

“They are kind of fanning the fire,” said one Manila-based trader of the government’s measures. “I would interpret the series of tender schedules as panicky.”…

…The rice crisis is also putting pressure on the country’s finances.

In a recent research note, investment bank Credit Suisse calculated that the government could lose up to $1.3 billion or 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year by importing up 2.6 million metric tons of rice at climbing world prices and selling it at lower prices domestically.

Having whipped up consumer fears with her efforts to be visibly on top of the situation, the best way for Arroyo to calm them down is to ensure adequate supply and to tone down the government’s more extreme responses, analysts say.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

131 thoughts on “Current Senate’s design flaw

  1. sabi na ga ba me nalimutan ako eh.
    condos nga pala,at problema natin sa rainforest.

    Kung ganyan tayo mag-alaga ng investor(hanjin condo on subic forest) di nga malabong magyari yung sinasabi ni Magno, na we will run out of water.

    Kung sinasabing malaki ang say ni Magno sa mga desisyon dito,ngayon nya ipreach yung mauuubusan tayo ng tubig if we still insist on rice self sufficiency dahil kulang ang arable land at ang water for irrigation.

  2. Perhaps, we’re into this…

    ZTE and all the president’s men
    by R.M.

    The continuing saga of the ZTE controversy reveals something not so extra-ordinary in Philippine political culture and that is, that the lives of poor Filipinos are controlled by “a few good men”. Sad to say, but this sin against democracy is embedded in our culture, beginning in the early 19th century, with many of its victims now enshrined as national heroes, i.e. Andres Bonifacio, the GOMBURZA, Ninoy Aquino, etc. Democracy is supposed to be about “the governed governing themselves”. Alas, right now it simply is about being governed by the chosen few. There’s a boss, and he has his men. This reminds me of “The Godfather”. Michael, Vito Corleone’s son, after ascending to the throne, is keen about eliminating one savvy enemy in the business. The “family” lawyer, playing it safe, says that it would be very difficult. Michael now turns to the consigliere, who quips, “difficult, but not impossible”. Whatever the boss wishes, he gets!

    Filipinos need to grow up. What is happening now is all about “the family”. Whether it’s the most powerful of all nations, the church, a city, or any decent institution – there is a small circle who decides for the governed. A former student of mine, as a feedback to the stuff I have been writing, calls them aptly, “the powers that be”. “The family” is the greatest threat to liberal equality. This is the one and single reason why the poor remains poor, the destitute remains voiceless, and the worker still suffers from a kind of confusion, “whether his life is about his career or whether his career is his life”. Because of the president’s men, he neither has one. As Thomas Nagel says, “we do not live in a just world”.

    Democratic institutions seek to establish social cooperation in the name of justice. This should mean that each individual, a child, the poor, the garbage collector, the baker, the rich, and the butcher in a free society, in pursuit of a life plan must be allowed to profit from the same. The butcher and the baker remind me of Adam Smith, who argues that we deal business with these people only because we have due regard for their interest. But a government is not some form of business, nor is a church, an NGO, or a school. If we allow these institutions to become one, the result is clear. Those who are close to the big boss, they are the ones who gets the biggest slice of the pie.

    I think what is happening is akin to “the structure of scientific revolutions”. An anomaly leads to a crisis, and when the crisis becomes so unbearable, the establishment, just like any brilliant theory, collapses. What has happened now is that one of the president’s men has been put on the spot and so he has no choice but to savor his moment in history, i.e., by becoming a star witness to a big corruption scandal. Of course, he will be tormented. There’s just one defense – “that he is no angel”. But who says that this is about being “angels and demons”? “If men were angels”, writes James Madison, 4th US President in the Federalist Papers, “no government would be necessary”. We need not be hypocritical. This is plain and simple politics.

    Being a young man, I am still hopeful. But I don’t like the idea that some people pretend to be heroes. Some of them are in the halls of the Senate, inside the church, the streets, in plush buildings. Andres Bonifacio is a hero. Ninoy Aquino is a hero. Parents who sacrifice for their children are heroes. Teachers who receive meager salaries are real heroes. None so far among these pretenders qualify in being called a hero. Being a hero means sacrificing oneself. It is not about redeeming oneself for past misdeeds. Of course, the day will come when our country shall be free. My intuition though tells me this – regimes will fall if they must, however powerful. No one, not even God’s first cousin, if he is in power and whoever he is, will live forever.

  3. KG:

    and bataan is so old that i doubt it would run properly until you take apart every bolt in that plant and examine it properly. i somehow can’t trust any instrumentality of this government with nuclear material.

  4. Democracy is supposed to be about “the governed governing themselves”.

    President MLQ was most probably right:

    “The people care more for good government than they do for self-government,” [Pres. Quezon] asserted, adding that “the fear is that the Head of State may either exceed his powers, or abuse them by improprieties. To keep order is his main purpose.”

    Filipinos want to be governed for the most part. (Maybe it’s an Asian thing.) They have given up their sovereignty as a people to the representatives they voted for to govern them. I think this is how most Filipinos think government should work, that’s why MLQ3 feels the need to educate young people on how government should work.

  5. Jeg, i agree, but as the example of Bong Austero shows, i don’t think such education should be limited to young people. Unless of course you’re arguing from the standpoint that it is hopeless to teach an old dog new tricks.

  6. cjv, i believe an old dog already has all the tricks up its sleeves, what is needed is a big stick to make him come out with the good ones, instead of the devil ones.

  7. Vic, correct me if i’m wrong but in your analogy, i understand that the dog refers to the President, in which case i agree. As quoted by Jeg, MLQ seemed to favor a system now known as a Delegative democracy where you have…

    1. presidents who present themselves as being ‘above’ parties.
    2. institutions such as congress and the judiciary that are viewed as ‘a nuisance,’ with accountability to them considered an unnecessary impediment,
    3. a president and his staff who are the alpha and omega of politics, and.
    4. a president who insulates himself from most existing political institutions and organized interactions and becomes the sole person responsibile for ‘his’ policies. – Alfred C. Stepan, Arguing Comparative Politics

    Such a system is defective precisely because there is no ‘stick’ save for the occassional election. However, i think that the elitists among our society still favor such an arrangement because they distrust the people more than the politicians.

  8. Tonio,
    tapos nasa pacific ring of fire tayo,tapos na earthquale belt daw yung bataan,palagay ko di talaga para sa atin ang nuclear unless they prove that earth quakes are manageable.

    On teaching old dogs,
    hanggang wala pang dementia o alzheimer’s,hanga’t di pa ulianin pwede pang turuan.
    pasensya na kung corny.
    my dad was good in computers during his younger years, the one using large spaces, and was an expert in fortran but napako dun ,dun lang sya na trap.
    ngayon kahit sa paggamit ng word processor naaasar ako at nauuubusan ng pasensya dahil paulit ulit ako sa pagturo ng save as,pagpindot ng esc kung accidenatlly nya na click ang start,pero ok lang ,challenge sa akin magturo ng so called old dog.

    I agree that teaching how the government works should not be limitted to young people.

    dahil kahit ang mga educated ay opinionated,they give opinions first, then research later pano pa kaya yung iba na umaasa lang sa tabloid , sa AM radio,minsan sa kwentong barbero.

    I hope you won’t call me an elitist because of those remarks CVJ.

  9. cvj: I think 90% of Filipinos will prefer presidential elections every 3 years to NCR-area people-marches every 6 months. Elections every 2 years, even.

    But to do so — change presidential term — needs an amendment to the constitution, and some Filipinos prefer the status quo of no-Constitutional changes.

  10. Karl, on the basis of the above remarks? No. As long as you don’t subscribe to the concept of an ‘information elite’, i won’t consider you an elitist.

  11. cvj: There was a typo. I should have said “..over 90%”. And over-90% is based on the low-turnout at the Makati Interfaith rally.

  12. However, i think that the elitists among our society still favor such an arrangement because they distrust the people more than the politicians.

    It’s their favorite scare story: Without the government (read: politicians), we’ll descend into chaos. Which reminds me of the fact that Belgium existed close to 200 days without a government, and they didnt turn into savages or go back to the stone age or something.

    It’s an object lesson that yes, the people can be trusted. We the people arent leaderless without the politicians.

    Re: elections. I am of the opinion that we can dispense with popular elections altogether (in favor of an electoral college type perhaps). Democracy isnt about elections. In fact, the power of the people isnt as much about installing leaders as it is about replacing them. I dont care about the mechanism wherein our presidents are elected as much as I care about the mechanism with which we replace them. The people must retain the power to kick them out. In accordance with just laws of course.

  13. In accordance with just laws of course.

    Come to think of it, this sentence isnt even needed. We must retain the power to go outside the constitution even. And write a new one.

  14. There was a typo. I should have said “..over 90%”. And over-90% is based on the low-turnout at the Makati Interfaith rally.

    UPn, you have to admit that a rally turnout is flimsy grounds to support an ‘over 90%’ estimate. (In fact, the turnout was pretty decent. You must have been there after 6 pm when a lot of them went home already.)

  15. Jeg: okay, what about at least 50% ? 😐

    My post, though, was about:
    — many Filipinos would prefer every-3-years Presidential elections to people-marches;
    — many Filipinos would not want to do a Constitutional amendment

  16. Jeg: I believe the sentence that most Filipinos would agree with is that a lot leaves to be desired regarding the quality of the elected officials currently in office and in the past administrations going back to the 1970’s to include presidents, congressmen, senators… might as well include many governors and mayors.

    The dilemma is how to get rid of the incompetents and thieves!!! Admittedly, elections every 3 years does not guarantee good governance. Evidence — some of the congressmen.

  17. And an underlying issue which is always ignored relates to the quality of civil service corps (who remain even when there are changes in administrations). I dare say the quality of service by the civil service is lousy, too — inefficiency and/or corruption.

    The distaste over the highest “civil service” office in the land —- the Supreme Court — is evidence. Add to this the do-we-really-have-to-always-be-with-them???? tong-collectors of BIR, Customs plus kotong-cops.

  18. mlq3 :
    dirk, you should always give credit to bencard for providing inspiration for your comments, including pointing out you prefer to reinterpet bencard’s original arguments as follows (then you proceed with your creative readaption of bencard’s arguments).
    otherwise bencard has a point re: malicious plagiarism.

    Hi there Manolo.
    As the owner of this blog yours of course is the final word on this. I just want only to clarify that it’s not my intent to plagiarize lolo bencard. It’s just that his comments strike me as from someone old enough yet so gullible and so blinded by admiration for gma that I was compelled to inject some reality and balance to his comments. Perhaps my style is disagreeable to some.
    Lastly, If I am to plagiarize someone, I could have chosen someone who is intelligent and who makes sense in his posts.

  19. “Pagkaraan ng pitong taon ramdam nila ang pag asenso!” Sabi ng mga TV ads ng GMA administration ay ramdam na ramdam daw ang pag-asenso ng ating mga kababayan. Agree or disagree? Kayo – ramdam ba ninyo ang pag-asenso?

  20. To UPn:
    “many Filipinos would not want to do a Constitutional amendment”

    I’d have to agree because I know a lot of people who don’t want it, but for me, it’s necessary to change or at least amend parts of the constitution. The laws have to be in tune with the times. I mean, if I remember what my poligov prof said, at least 100 of Marcos old decrees are still in effect, even after this ouster.
    America had to amend theirs because of the changing times, but amending the constitution here at the present time would be downright scary. I mean, we still do have Post-Marcos Trauma.

    To Jeg: “In fact, the turnout was pretty decent. You must have been there after 6 pm when a lot of them went home already.”

    Media says 80k and the blue uniforms (Police) say 18k. Sorry for the analysis, but I have to agree with one of the deans in my campus, when he said that the only two things that drew people to Makati’s “Inter-faith” rally were Cory and Erap. Cory fine with me, but when Erap came up, I was insulted. We had him to pay for his crimes, but the “Economist” let him go in 3 weeks.

    To KG:
    “and having a nuclear plant does not eliminate the problem on oil and other fossil fuels.”

    You got it half right. A Nuclear doesn’t eliminate the problem, but it lessens the effects of oil prices with us. With a nuclear power plant, we shouldn’t have wasted much money on dams that don’t perform as we hope for and we shouldn’t have at least spend that much and rely that much on fossil fuels. (Thank you Oil Deregulation Law of 1998, for making our lives so damned miserable right now. I hope you’re happy… *irony*)

  21. edits:

    replace this ouster with his ouster

    Nuclear powerplant (replace nuclear)


  22. ‘Anyways, looks like it would be a very very very interesting US election.’

    What is so interesting about this coming US elections? The Clinton-Obama brawl? All McCain has to do now is sit down, relax, and prepare his inaugural speech.

  23. Supremo,

    It would be difficult for a republican to win this time unless he employs Bush like tactics…

    My fearless forecast is that whom ever wins the Democrats nomination, has the best chances of winning.

    Oh well, that’s my take. Those two sure mudsling a lot these days. Reminds me of the politics, and that’s not election time here.

  24. “Agree or disagree? Kayo – ramdam ba ninyo ang pag-asenso?”
    – Equalizer

    Sagot ng mga mahihirap: “Ramdam na ramdam. Iisa na nga lang ang kidney namin. Naibenta na namin ang isa sa hirap ng buhay.”

  25. PhilwoSpEditor,

    You probably forgot that McCain is a maverick Republican but a Republican anyway. At least 30% of Americans are registered Republicans so that’s 30% of the votes going to McCain. The other 30% of Americans are Democrats. McCain and whoever is the mud-covered Democratic candidate will only fight for 40% of the votes. This is where race or sex discrimination comes in. Go figure.

    BTW, what are Bush like tactics?

  26. KG,

    I typed a reply on the other thread.

    It turned out to be quite long (probably because of the copy pasted provisions) but hopefully you get the time to read it.


  27. gawd, why should we care too much about the usa elections? 😀

    democrat or not, usa foreign policy (which affects us outsiders most) stays the same.

  28. PS. I’m rooting for McCain and hopes he gets a rightwing fundamentalist Christian for VP.

    It would be more entertaining theatre than Hillary or Barack.

  29. mlq3, getting back on tract, i think the inquirer’s editorial is, once again, a deliberate exaggeration. all the supreme court did was to define the limits of legislative inquiry ( an essential component of lawmaking) vis a vis executive privilege (an indispensable adjunct of executive power). it was a balancing process calculated to maintain each branch’s separation, inter-dependence and co-equality. i think the real consequence would be that each branch would be legally barred from abusive exercise of its powers – a clear affirmation of the principle of checks and balances which is an implicit objective of the constitution.

    as to the assertion that the neri ruling renders past senate investigations “null and void”, that may be an overstatement but, in fairness, i think it doesn’t negate a fiat accompli but only meant that those investigations were without legal effect (whether or not such conclusion is correct).

    in regard to azurin’s hypothesis, the reason we have a final arbiter is that we have to resolve controversies one way or the other, using our existing laws and generally accepted legal precepts, as said arbiters have been given the wisdom to know and understand. we may not agree with all court decisions, e.g., dred scott cases in the u.s.; our own javellana decision, etc., but until subsequently overruled, they are part of the law of the land. until then, who is to say they are not “right”, except the party with a contrary view or one who sympathizes with the losing party?

    be that as it may, court decisions are not carved in stone. as everyone else, judges and justices die or fade away. society’s mores and values change overtime. not all anticipated “consequences” – good or bad – of court decisions come to pass, and that’s why the law, and decisions made under it, are a living thing, always changing even as we, the people, change.

  30. Here’s a more accurate representation of the US electorate:

    Registered Democrats are an estimated 41% against 39% of Republicans. The remaining 20% garnered mostly by registered Independents and members of the other recognized parties. Given the tight numbers, Independents provide the swing vote in most national elections.

    With regard to ethnic composition of those who vote, three-quarters are Caucasians or whites, with one-quarter distributed among Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and the others. African-Americans provide about 10% of the populace, with Hispanics registering more and much more if we include the illegals. All Asians are a mere blip.

    African-Americans traditionally vote Democrat, registering as high as 90% of those who voted.

    Thus, some interesting questions and possibilities for the upcoming elections:

    If Obama becomes the nominee, will the majority Whites also allow a black man to be President?

    Disliked by conservatives, the core constituency of the Republican Party, will McCain get the Republican vote?

    Surely both nominees will start moving to the political center as we approach the fall election to try and get the Independent vote which traditionally favors the middle ground.

  31. CVJ,

    your direct democracy(outside people power the way others see it (mob rule)) can work if more people participate.

    Other than Benign0, I also heard that election should only be for tax payers. (if i should joke, then that disqualifies many of the elitists),and Benign0 says it should be weighted depending on educational atttainment.

    More people can genuinely participate in a direct democracy given education as weapons, or tools if you will ;not just equipped with brainwashing ,propagandas,emotions.

    sa ngayon galit,gutom at nagatungang mindset makes us not yet ready for a direct democracy.

    That is why I agree education including education in governing and governance must be spread to all,but it is nice to start them young.

    nung tinanong si gma tungkol sa imports,role of nbi and antismuggling task force…, may nasabi sya na di bawal ang mga ginagawa ng trader dahil liberalized ang rice trading.
    with that kind of an answer , it makes me think that maybe we were not really ready for liberalization after all.

    Now, here is where I hope the justice secreatary put his money where his mouth is; Ang last mission daw nya is to put a stop to the rice cartels.

  32. PhilwoSpEditor;

    Duly noted and thanks!

    Im addition on dams(water use), I keep on seeing in the articles of Neal Cruz of Inquirer that we could use the Wawa dam as a water source fro metro manila,somehow some group of people prevented this from happening.

    A nuclear plant(not the one in Bataan,pls) ,together with other alternative sources, can help in stopping our reliance to fossil fuels. ( becasue of the food crisis,I guess biofuels is not the answer either) can help,but as long as their is a single drop of oil left in this earth,oil will still make the world go round.

  33. Food crisis,

    I thought the monkeys raiding the rice fields can only happen in India or somewhere else.
    I saw it happen in Bacolod,(through the news)the monkeys raided the food stock from kamote, to coconut.

    the monkeys are feeling it too, well of course matagal na nating inuubusan ng pagkain ang mga unggoy,bumabawi lang siguro.

    On bread naman,
    we will find alternatives including coconut and cassava and if we go by the way of Peru we could use potatoes,

    Pero kung me kamote fries tayo,baka kamote pandesal pwede din nating gawin.

  34. On secretary Yap,
    A few days ago he said that rice prices will go down after the rice harvest this summer,now after the IRRI meeting he now sings a different tune that it could reach as far as two years,because the world experts say so.

  35. Yup, if the SC rationalizes the power of the executive to keep secret its dealings with foreign powers on commercial dealings in the guise of diplomatic niceties, over the right of a co-equal branch to have knowledge of all government dealings which will affect the public purse then that becomes a big problem. Are we so poor that we have to give up sovereignty?

    In another case precedent set only in the past few days in another Common Law jurisdiction – the U.K., The high Court has ruled that the investigating arm of the government shoulds not have been constrained by the government in its investigation of alleged kickbacks of military harware sold to Saudi Arabia.

    Britain Reprimanded for Dropping Saudi Arms Deal Inquiry
    By Julia Werdigier and Alan Cowell The New York Times
    Friday, April 11, 2008

    “The High Court ruled Thursday that prosecutors investigating alleged corruption in a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia acted unlawfully when they dropped the inquiry under pressure from the British government. The court also assailed Saudi officials for allegedly attempting to “interfere with the course of justice” in Britain.”

    “In both tone and substance, the ruling delivered an extraordinary judicial rebuke to the British and Saudi authorities and renewed pressure on the Serious Fraud Office to reopen the investigation into the relationship between BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest weapons maker, and the royal family in Saudi Arabia.”

    “The Serious Fraud Office announced in December 2006 that it was halting the inquiry after the government, then led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, said the inquiry would damage Britain’s intelligence cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the struggle against Al Qaeda. Opponents of the decision said the British authorities had been pressured by Saudi officials. Blair said the investigation would threaten thousands of British jobs and affect diplomatic and intelligence ties with Saudi Arabia.”

    “In court on Thursday, however, two judges ruled that the government and the Serious Fraud Office had “failed to recognize the rule of law” when bowing to pressure by Saudi officials.”

    “Stopping the investigation avoided “uncomfortable consequences, both commercial and diplomatic,” but doing so caused “fear for the reputation of the administration of justice if it can be perverted by a threat,” the judges said.”

    “No one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of justice,” Judge Alan Moses said. “It is the failure of the government and the defendant to bear that essential principle in mind that justified the intervention of this court.”

    And in another common law jurisdiction – the U.S. The U.S. House Judicial Committee just filed a court case in U.S. Federal Court challenging the claim of executive privilege of W. in the case of the inquiry on the problems in the Department of Justice in the U.S. W. refused to allow two of his people from testifying on the Hill and he claimed executive privilege.

    The court will now decide, unless both sides come to a workable compromise. This could wind up in the U.S. SC.

    How does the Philippine SC stack up against these recent events?

    Frist question to ask is this? The RP being a net importer of capital and food does its institutions have the independence to decide issues based on national interests or is it tied down by the utter dependence on foreign powers that we have become dependent on.

    If the answer is no independence then we might as well abolish the legislature and judiciary as we know it and simply go to a format similar to the countries of the Middle East. A formal feudal government run by a royal family. Don Miguel and Dona GMA can simply put their kids and relatives and close trusted relatives in power to oversee the institutions of the state.

    The savings would be substantial.

    Marcos and Imelda tried it already but Marcos put his faith too much in ideological technocrats who were steeped in the religion of free markets and free trade (Sicat) and he embraced the dreaded structural adjustment program started by the World Bank under McNamara and he crashed when the financial markets collapsed during the Paul Volker years during the early 80’s

    Financial liberalization coupled economies before the more complicated integration of economies can take place. So countries can decouple their financial markets since successfull economies have never coupled their economies to the U.S.

    However economies who are dependent on other economies for their basics on food and capital will always be buffetted by storms that start outside their areas of responsibility.

    That makes national governments soley dependent on foreign powers.

  36. The NEDA technocrats should have junked the Broadband network (internet/cable access is a commercial project and should have been left for the Gokongwei’s or Ayala’s or Tan’s or even Alcantara’s to figure out how to fund). Instead, NEDA should have asked China to fund a hydroelectric dam which China would have found useful to provide water to the acreage that they are supposedly leasing from Pinas.

    China (after Three Gorges) has solid experience in dam-building (and in clearing the “natives” away from the areas that will be flooded).

  37. When the physical markets get tight for tangible commodities you know the owners of these tangible assets will not want simply an IOU or claim on value (an intangible asset – dollar) whose value is not certain to hold even in the near term.

    You can see it in the faces of the people lining up who wish to convert their pesos into more tangible kgs of rice than the limits imposed because they know they will need more pesos to get the same amount in the near term.

    Meanwhile rice traders are getting questioned as right now any possession of large quantities of sacks of rice is construed as hoarding. Every law enforcemnt official now has the go signal to question anyone with possession of sacks of rice as a potential hoarder.

    But the division of labor from producer to consolidator to wholesaler to retailer is an integral part of the supply chain. Any man made bottleneck to that chain would and could result in it’s seizing up. This is where the more connected can and will come in . It is during times like this that great fortunes are made.

    Inflationary expectations are being embeded. Just like deflationary expectations once ingrained it becomes hard to change.

    “Oil is the new dollar. By extension, so is wheat…and cocoa…and aluminum. “I have the growing sense that paper money – any paper money – isn’t a good store of value,” observes Dan Denning, editor of the Australian Daily Reckoning. “I think investors are realizing that they can’t move their wealth from one currency to another and preserve it…so they are doing the next best thing…trading paper wealth for claims on tangible assets.”

    “Meanwhile, demand for commodities continues to swamp supply. So the commodity sector looks like a pretty friendly place for investors, despite the ever-present risk of severe selloffs. But the investor who tries to avoid these short-term selloffs could easily miss a very long-term bull market. In other words, today’s commodity markets might resemble the S&P 500 of August 1987, but probably not the S&P of March 2000.” Eric J. Fry, Agora Financial

  38. Karl (at 8:52am), on education, i’m all for it. However, unlike Benign0, i don’t think lack of formal education should be a disqualifying criteria for full citizenship here in the Philippines. As the example of Benign0 shows, even a formal education does not guarantee good sense. In fact, what i observe is that in some elitist schools are more efficient in boosting epistemic arrogance than actual learning. If our society is to work, we have to recognize that there are more sources of learning other than school. I posted this passage from Thomas Sowell before but i think it bears repeating:

    “Considering the enormous range of human knowledge, from intimate personal knowledge of specific individuals to the complexities of organizations and the subtleties of feelings, it is remarkable that one speck in this firmament should be the sole determinant of whether someone is considered knwoledgeable or ignorant in general. Yet it is a fact of life that an unlettered peasant is considered ignorant,however much he may know about nature and man, and a Ph.D is never considered ignorant, however barren his mind might be outside his narrow specialty and however little he grasps about human feelings or social complexities. – Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions

    As for your statement…

    sa ngayon galit,gutom at nagatungang mindset makes us not yet ready for a direct democracy.

    I agree that the best time to resolve the legitimacy issue versus Arroyo would have been during relatively good economic times so people will be more level-headed and tackle fewer problems. Unfortunately, the middle class took the expedient and short-sighted “let’s move on” route believing in Arroyo’s credentials for governance. Now events are already starting to overtake us.

  39. Our own BSP lost Phgp 60 billion subsidizing the dollar trying to control our own currncy bubble. Yeah right we do not have the resources to subsidize production. That statement is from an ignorant person who does not know where credit comes from. Ignorance is not bad. Being stupid is.

    hahahaha!! such an articulate and well informed person losing his cool on this blog. i really like your view on things but please refrain from underhanded sniping. it takes the boom out of your argument. talk is cheap and opinions are diverse. the good thing on all of this is that we can all be armchair analysts from time to time and be able to exchange ideas.

    im not sure what your beef on this rice crisis. granted they miscalculated, hey its not the end of the world…now their trying to rectify their mistake. i sincerely believe that subsidizing food production will be a drain to the national treasury. subsidies will never ever work and not sustainable until you have the needed infrastucture to support it.

    never did I say GMA is a running a hedge fund, i was giving an analogy on how rational people succeed, they move on, cut their losses, take the bull by the horns, learn from their mistake and not dwell too much on the past. you subscribed to the fact that our government will have the money to finance such a massive undertaking and yet you bemoan the fact that it is neck deep in debt. which is which? regarding jpmorgan one billion sovereign fund from the philippines. hehehehe, philippines always a follower and aspring to be temasek or abu dhabi. on BSP defending the peso, im sure you know the compeling reason behind it and just cant resist to digg on it. why would tantengco want lose that much? because the alternative im sure will be much worse.

  40. Many who point out the ‘ugly realities’ in the Philippines are not necessarilty anti-GMA nor pro-opposition(I like this). We cannot offer concrete solutions because many of the problems are systemic in nature. So are we playing the blame game? Certainly not!

    Take the case of the worsening poverty in the country. A major cause is the failed population control program of the government, not only GMA’s, but previous administrations’ as well. This situation was made worse by the refusal of the Catholic Church to endorse unnatural contraceptive means.

    Another issue is the looming rice shortage. Past administrations (not only GMA’s), took an easier out of importing the commodity and did not continue or enhance a self-suffiency program like the Masagana 99.

    Also on energy security. It wasn’t GMA who privatized PNOC (wherein RP lost some leverage on oil pricing) but FVR.

    Indeed, many of the nation’s problems are not GMA’s own making. But having been at the helm for more than seven years, she could have made a dent in the solution of these problems, not aggravating them.

  41. The problems we have now are a result of the failed policies of the past, the lack of sustainability in many government programs, and the indifference of the poor to their own miserable lives. First things first – corruption kills! Money on a politician’s pocket could have been used to buy medicines for sick kids. We do not live in a just world. But people owe it to themselves that when a government is remiss of its duties, two things are important: one, for us to be vigilant in safeguarding our freedoms, and second, that we have to work hard as private citizens for the sake of our own individual lives, the poor included.

  42. golf course to residential areas…a project long overdue:


    – The heroine’s Speech during the Veteran’s General Assembly, CCP Complex (April 11, 2001)

    could be some veterans played first the past 7 years before the golf course was relinquished to SB for its sale? just a thought…


    but some of my friends are up in (golf) clubs over the proposed sale. they haven’t unleashed their “tigers” in them after all these years of 3x a week of driving and putting…

    i suggested they “rally” with their carts, clubs and their balls

    along with their caddies, “eagles” and their “birdies.”

  43. Okay, perhaps you’re right, let me check on that, I stand corrected…it should read..”and people’s indifference to the plight of the poor”…probably, instead of a cup of coffee at starbucks, ateneans could have spent that on something else, like the scholarhip of poor kids! Maybe…and only maybe…

  44. CVJ,
    although I have to admit na minsan nagsasawa na ako sa paulit ulit na pagsingit ng elitism sa bawat pagkakataon. I understand that to drive a point you have to repeat it as often as necessary.

    maginoo I agree 100 %
    on these comments:

    “Indeed, many of the nation’s problems are not GMA’s own making. But having been at the helm for more than seven years, she could have made a dent in the solution of these problems, not aggravating them.”

  45. Philippine Democracy Online,

    Actually, you made a good surface observation: the poor actually do appear indifferent to their miserable lives… And sometimes, those who try to lift them up (and I believe there are many), realize along the way it doesn’t make a difference, not systemic wise anyway. The poor are like mushrooms in our country. They keep cropping up. Shall we say that our focus should be systemic wise, not just helping individuals through an act of charity?

  46. “to work hard as private citizens for the sake of our own individual lives, the poor included.” – Philippine Democracy Online

    I agree. But for the poor, this is easier said than done. They say that poverty is the absence of choice. The really poor are desperate and without choice.

    I kind of know, but not exactly. Early on my married life, I lost my job. Although my wife was working it was tough making both ends meet. We had our families to run to, but initially we did not, false pride or whatever.

    Finally, out of desperation when I didn’t find a job in three months (and I had skills), we had to ask my and my wife’s parents for help.

    I tell you its a bad sinking feeling. Could you imagine those without any help or choice?

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