The return of the Sugar Bloc

From Barons, Brokers, and Buyers: The Institutions and Cultures of Philippine Sugar , as originally quoted in this entry of mine from 2006, Planters and millers:

…Many in the sugar industry persist in the belief that they are among the most powerful political forces in the nation. But those with real power consider that claim laughable in today’s Philippine sugar economy. More political capital can be gained from disparaging the “sugar barons” than from advancing their interests.

And yet, in their efforts to portray the Philippines as a neo-colonized, exploited, and “feudal” cog on the periphery of the global world capitalist system, many Philippine scholars have missed or understated this important trend… scholars have conveyed the impression that the old rural oligarchs have preserved their preeminence in unabated form, or at least that all Philippine elites are pretty much alike in how they relate to the state. Journalistic accounts… are even more stark in their portrayals. For them the Philippines is a “changeless land” and a “land of broken promises,” dominated by fabulously rich rural elites able to direct political life unfettered by competition from other elites with other values and unconcerned with the greater national good…

I am not claiming that those perspectives are entirely mistaken, only that today’s Philippine reality is far more complex. Where rural elite families have managed to maintain their status and power, they have done so by adapting to radically different circumstances, by making new alliances, and by using their wealth and influence to pursue different strategies of gain. Those oligarchic families who have clung to the older methods of wielding influence have largely ceded ground to the nouveau riche. Most important, urban businessmen and financial wizards have increasingly become the dominant reference groups for ambitious young people. One would be hard-pressed today -even in Negros- to find a young member of a planter family who would admit to aspiring to a life of rural leisure and inherited “success”…

Although patrimonial capitalism endures in the Philippines, I argue that the shift from landlord dominance to the dominance of urban businessmen is critically important as a harbinger of future change in politics, economy, and culture. While it may appear at first that all Philippine elites are alike, that elites from different sectors pursue different strategies of domination and advocate different sorts of policies has consequential implications.

Many on the Philippine left see signs that the next “ruling class” will consist of former peasants or proletariat. But it seems far more plausible, given current trends, that what is evolving is the more typical historical progression: replacement of an old elite class by a newer one with different interests and sources of power, even though many of the individuals and families are the same. Despite the many works decrying the static composition of Philippine elites, and the bipolarity of Philippine society, I argue that this shift is affording an unprecedented amount of upward mobility and the rapid growth of a Filipino “middle class.”

That historic progression is still taking place, but let me put forward a portion of Benedict Anderson’s 1988 essay, Cacique Democracy in the Philippines: Origins and Dreams:

Immensely confident of Anglo-Saxon world hegemony and the place of English as the language of capitalism and modernity, the colonial regime effortlessly extruded Spanish and so expanded an English-language school system that by 1940the Philippines had the highest literacy rate in Southeast Asia. After independence, the oligarchy, like other Third World oligarchies, found that the simplest way of establishing its nationalist credentials was to expand cheap schooling. By the early 1960s university degrees were no longer a ruling class near-monopoly.

The huge expansion of English-language education produced three distinct, politically significant, new social groups. Smallest was a radical intelligentsia, largely of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois urban origins, and typically graduates of the University of the Philippines. Among them was Nur Misuari, who in the later 1960s formed the Moro National Liberation Front in the Muslim southwest. Still better known was José Maria Sison, who broke away from the decrepit post-Huk Communist party to form his own, and, borrowing from the Great Helmsman, founded the New People’s Army which is today a nation-wide presence and the major antagonist of the oligarchy. (The spread of English, and, later, of ‘street Tagalog’, in nationalist response to American hegemony, has made possible an archipelago-wide popular communication – below the oligarchy – that was inconceivable in the era of Bonifacio or the Hukbalahap.)

Next largest in size was a bien-pensant proto-technocracy, which also included graduates from American universities. Drawn from much the same social strata as the radical intelligentsia, it was enraged less by the injustices of cacique democracy than by its dilettantism, venality, and technological backwardness. This group also deeply resented its own powerlessness. When Marcos eventually declared Martial Law in 1972 and proclaimed his New Democracy, it flocked to his standard, believing its historic moment had come. It stayed loyal to him till the early 1980s, and long remained crucial to his credibility with Washington planners, the World Bank and the IMF, and foreign modernizers all and sundry.

Largest of all – if not that large – was a wider urban bourgeois and petty bourgeois constituency: middle-level civil servants, doctors, nurses, teachers, businessmen, shopkeepers, and so on. In its political and moral outlook it can perhaps be compared with the Progressives (definitely not the Populists) of the United States in the period 1890–1920. In the 1960s it made its political debut in campaigns for honesty-in-government, urban renewal, crackdowns on machine and warlord politics, and the legal emancipation of municipalities and the new suburbs. As might be expected, this group was both anti-oligarchy and anti-popular in orientation. Had it not been English-educated, and had not President Kennedy secured a major change in the American immigration laws, it might have played a major role in Philippine politics in the 1970s and 1980s. But these factors offered it enticing alternatives, such that, by the mid-1980s, well over a million Filipinos (mainly from this stratum) had emigrated across the Pacific, most of them for good. This bourgeois haemorrhage in the short run weakened a significant political competitor for the oligarchy, but in the longer run cost it an important political ally – one reason why the Aquino government has so little room for manoeuvre.

The Marcos regime, which began to entrench itself long before the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, was an instructively complex hybrid. From one point of view, Don Ferdinand can be seen as the Master Cacique or Master Warlord, in that he pushed the destructive logic of the old order to its natural conclusion. In place of dozens of privatized ‘security guards’, a single privatized National Constabulary; in place of personal armies, a personal Army; instead of pliable local judges, a client Supreme Court; instead of a myriad pocket and rotten boroughs, a pocket or rotten country, managed by cronies, hitmen, and flunkies. But from another viewpoint, he was an original; partly because he was highly intelligent, partly because, like his grotesque wife, he came from the lower fringes of the oligarchy. In any case, he was the first elite Filipino politician who saw the possibilities of reversing the traditional flow of power. All his predecessors had lived out the genealogy of mestizo supremacy – from private wealth to state power, from provincial bossism to national hegemony. But almost from the beginning of his presidency in 1965, Marcos had moved mentally out of the nineteenth century, and understood that in our time wealth serves power, and that the key card is the state. Manila’s Louis Napoleon.

In this extract he points to the origins of the middle class and a factor missed out, above: that the reformist middle class was gutted when American emigration laws were liberalized. Anderson thinks it took place in the 1960s-1970s; it may be that the initial decimation took place, then; but a large enough chunk remained to matter in 1986; but as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, since the 1980s, it was further decimated in the 1990s to date; and what’s left has clung more and more ferociously to the Old Guard as it tries to forestall losing power in the face of a population which has reaped the failures of the Old Guard but refused, or been unable, to exact its pound of flesh -because it can go overseas like the middle class has been doing since the 1960s…

But whether or not you subscribe to Billig’s view that the old provincial nabobs have given way to a new class of merchants and managers, or to Anderson’s (earlier) views, or even my assertion that the old middle and upper classes have been decimated but have managed to retard the rise of a replacement class culturally divorced from them, the process of evolution of not outright reform, at least in one respect, seems to have stalled.

Back in 2006, apropos the stalled peace process, I blogged about an observation made by Paulynn Paredes Sicam:

She observed that the past twenty years has seen the disappearance of a “peace constituency” and that the urgent task at hand is to rebuild one. To this end, she appealed to the media to devote attention to peace developments, and to bear in mind that sensationalistic, or utterly cynical reportage can have a tremendously harmful effect on the prospects of peace, and be quite damaging to peace prospects in particular localities. She also said t[h]ere are many inspiring stories that are never reported or superficially reported: cases where communities rise up, and basically tell both government and rebel troops to get the hell out and leave them in peace -and then, maintain that peace.

As it is for human rights, so it is for almost everything else: the disappearance of so many constituencies formerly so vibrant and even powerful.

Add to this list the obvious weakening of the land reform constituency. The best it could muster was a kind of kamikaze mission the other night: Commotion erupts at House of Representatives.

To be sure, land reform hasn’t been a major priority of the present administration. There has been the usual speechifying in favor of it, but the President certainly hasn’t gone for broke in terms of spending political (or any other kind of) capital to accomplish it. See Land redistribution slowest under Arroyo presidency. But neither Aquino (who herself came from a landed family) nor Ramos (who did not), actually targeted the big estates. Both administrations redistributed more middle class land and then public land, than actually breaking up the big estates -and only those big estates of families willing to give up their lands, and not the richest and most valuable estates whose owners actively resisted land reform.

The other day, in his blog, Rep. Ruffy Biazon pointed out the administration at the very least, went through the motions of corralling support to put the renewal of CARP over the top:

In fact, aside from the certification which is an official act, more personal efforts were taken to ensure the cooperation of congressmen. Last Tuesday, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office individually reminded congressmen to attend sessions and stay until its passage. Likewise, the Office of Speaker Prospero Nograles sent text messages to the Members of the House, urging them to be present during session and not leave until debates are concluded and a vote is taken.

It is not the first time that such persuasion was used on congressmen. The Anti-Terror Bill, the R-VAT Bill, and many others were passed with the same kind of prodding from the Office of the President and the Office of the Speaker of the House. While other bills languish in suspended animation, there bills which enjoy the active support of the leadership, to which members of the majority are all too willing to accommodate.

But there was a palpable lack of enthusiasm among administration allies. Biazon says that if the previous Speaker fell, among other reasons, for failing to muster quorums, then it bodes ill for the new Speaker that he doesn’t seem to be doing much better:

So with the President’s certification of the bill and the leadership change still fresh in the House, it was expected that the CARP extension bill would not encounter difficulties in passing. Although debates have been going on for almost three weeks owing to some lengthy interpellations by a few congressmen, it seemed that yesterday was going to be the last day for debates. There were several congressmen lined up to ask questions, including myself, but the intention was to go overtime if needed, just so that the bill would come to a vote.

We have also done that many times, conducting marathon sessions stretching one day to the next, just to give everyone an opportunity to ask questions and yet have the bill voted on as soon as possible.

At first it seemed that the congressmen were going to maintain the pace and close the deliberation of the bill and finally vote. But as the night wore on and the debates became longer, the numbers began thinning. At around 8:00 PM, one congressman from the administration coalition suddenly stood up and questioned the quorum.

It was obvious then that there were not enough numbers of congressmen in session. The proceedings were suspended and the quorum bell rang, calling all congressmen to proceed to the hall. Proponents of the bill tried to convince the member who questioned the quorum to reconsider his position. But he stood firm, and eventually the session had to be adjourned.

And as subsequent events have shown, it has to be asked, just how genuinely, did the administration bat for the House giving CARP a lease on life?

The Inquirer reports House defers vote on CARP extension bill: But resolution extending LAD until December OKd, and some rather peculiar suspicions on the part of at least one frustrated member of the House:

Akbayan party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, one of the principal authors, however, said that the “landlords” in “collusion with leftist solons” from the Bayan bloc were out to block the passage of the bill, or water it down.

The fate of the proposed legislation hangs in the Senate because the senators are bucking its approval until the DAR submits a full accounting of the CARP funds for the past 20 years.

“There’s no CARP without the Senate… There can be no law without the Senate,” Nograles said.

Now the point isn’t whether some sort of unholy alliance is at work, but rather, we are facing the revival of a political force long thought extinct since the days of Martial Law: the Sugar Bloc. You can read, entirely free, on-line, John A. Larkin’s Sugar and the Origins of Modern Philippine Society:

In the end, sugar created a native elite, prestigious and powerful who, despite their disparate provincial origins, acted together with the collusion of foreigners to shape the course of Philippine modernization. For more than a century and a half, sugar represented the most important and influential sector of an insular commercial life that this elite, with rare exception, exploited almost exclusively for their personal advancement. Their conspicuous consumption contributed not so much to the progress of the islands as to the outflow of cash and to the inequitable colonial economy. Among sugar workers the maldistribution of profits created not a consuming public but permanent pockets of poverty, and attempts to ameliorate their circumstances came mostly to naught.

But even the book’s snapshot, of moribund sugar mills, of limited successes for cooperatives, has changed:

The post-Marcos era has commenced in the Philippines, and Nasutra has gone the way of other martial law aberrations; however, world economic conditions have prevented significant recovery for the industry. The U.S. market, too, promises to remain a finite one for Philippine sugar, given pressure from America’s own sugar producers, the demands of its other offshore suppliers, and the fact that its biggest food producers, including large bottlers Pepsi and Coca-Cola, now increasingly use corn sweetener in their products. Even if future Philippine sugarmen improve their productivity, they will have to depend for their livelihood on insular consumption and limited exports. The World. Bank reports the industry’s export earnings for the present as “stagnant,” and there seems little prospect of revival.

The book was written before the expansion of regional economies, and of ethanol and the modernization of the industry: the creation of a New Sugar Bloc.

The New Sugar Bloc has some of the old (though still fairly new, in that they’re Marcos-era) faces of the Old Sugar Monopoly of the New Society, but in its behavior it’s more like the pre-martial law Sugar Bloc in that it has strategically, and effectively, managed its bloc in Congress regardless of what the chief executive wants (or in collusion with the Palace, which is a possibility, too). And triumphant, too: in Negros (Bacolod, for example), the reformist clergy I met are no longer young; and the priests and future bishops who will replace them, no longer imbued with the same focus on Social Justice.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

188 thoughts on “The return of the Sugar Bloc

  1. it’s a fundamental doctrine in property law that whatever is “permanently” attached to the land becomes its integral part and goes to its owner. whatever “improvement” a squatter puts in the land, he can take with him when he is ejected unless he cannot do so without doing damage to the realty. de soto’s prescription of forcibly wresting title from the owner to give to the squatter, without just and adequate compensation to the owner who is unwilling to part with it, would be unconstitutional. that is a blanket invitation to lawlessness, anarchy and the rule of force. it is inimical to democracy and an ordered society.

  2. Bencard, i think we’ve discussed this before but anyway, one of de Soto’s message in his book, The Mystery of Capital is that the clash between codified law and the realities on the ground:

    “What keeps most people in developing and former communist nations from using modern formal property to create capital is a bad legal and administrative system. Inside…are elites who hold property using codified law borrowed from the West. Outside..where most people live, property is used and protected by all sorts of extralegal arrangements firmly rooted in informal consensus dispresed through large areas. These local social contracts represent collective understandings of how things are owned and how owners relate to each other.

    Creating one national social contract on property involves understanding the psychological and social processes – the beliefs, desires, intentions, customs and rules – that are contained in these local social contracts and then using the tools that professional law provides to weave them into one formal national social contract. This is what Western nations achieved not so long ago.” – Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

    Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (whom no one can accuse of being a Communist) endorsed de Soto’s message in his book:

    “The Mystery of Capital has the potential to create a new, enormously beneficial revolution, for it addresses the single greatest source of failure in the Third World and ex-communist countries – the lack of a rule of law that upholds private property and provides a framework for enterprise. It should be compulsory reading for all in charge of the wealth of nations” – former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

    In my earlier comment above (at 12:11 pm) i also linked to your alter-ego’s endorsement of de Soto’s principle.

  3. CVG,,

    hahaha… argentina? not sure if i will follow their route if I have the power to do so. I would say to negotiate our interest rate on odious debt by paying just the principal or at very low rate. Odious debt is debt incurred whereby rich countries loaned dictators or corrupt leaders KNOWING the money would be wasted. ( take note of KNOWING-a lawyer can explain this better) Any bank has its responsibility to assess the credibility of its creditors and its ability to pay. Now Philippines is suffering, whose fault is that? Who extend us the credit to incur odious debt?
    A win-win situation was proposed by Manny Villar. I like this guy.

    But I would like to add that this proposal should not affect other policies and our relationship to other countries especially a potential shift of imposing a limit on foreign direct investment to us and other trade agreement including overseas remittances. A win-win situation should be its priority. It has to be. Bankruptcy will hurt our credibility unless someone knows what they’re doing. Advice from expert must be taken seriously. I think this is what DebtCoalition is trying to do..

  4. cvj, to echo upn’s point, the only one who can use a property (dead asset or not) as collateral is its titled owner. i think this is what bunye was trying to say in your citation. to allow a squatter to do that “using the value” of his squatting (whatever that means) is legally and morally repugnant. that is the part i don’t like with your take on de soto’s proposition.

    btw, margaret tatcher clearly advocates “a rule of law that upholds private property”. that’s precisely what we have now, which you guys seem to want to do away with in exchange for draconian ‘robin hood’ policies that would reward lawlessness.

  5. Leytenian, i read your link but i couldn’t see the ‘win-win’ aspect of Villar’s recommendation that you were referring to. I may have missed it so any clarification would be appreciated.

    Bencard, that is what de Soto advocates as well which is why Thatcher endorsed him. The key difference between your position and de Soto’s is that he does not stop with the codified laws, but rather, seeks to reconcile these existing laws with the larger informal social contract resulting in a modified law that is more in keeping with reality. He describes this aspect of lawmaking as a process of discovery. Read his book, maybe you’ll find it more palatable than my presentation.

    Anyway, thanks in part to Gloria Arroyo’s recent populist posturings, the masa’s expectations are being raised so maybe this area would receive renewed focus.

  6. CVG,

    the win-win is something we have to discuss.. LOL Villar did not have any win-win solution..

    here’s what i said ” But I would like to add that this proposal should not affect other policies and our relationship to other countries especially a potential shift of imposing a limit on foreign direct investment to us and other trade agreement including overseas remittances. A win-win situation should be its priority. It has to be. Bankruptcy will hurt our credibility unless someone knows what they’re doing. Advice from expert must be taken seriously. I think this is what DebtCoalition is trying to do..”

  7. BTW, Hillary Clinton’s husband (Bill) also gave an endorsement of Hernando de Soto’s advocacy:

    “The most promising anti-poverty initiative in the world is that being advanced by the great Peruvian Economist, Hernando de Soto.”

    Bill Clinton
    At World Congress on Information Technology
    Adelaide, 27 February 2002

  8. cvj: read through the paragraphs you had done the cut-and-paste and you’ll see that the deSotto-words are more appropriate regarding protecting the population from land-grabbing of public lands by thugs. You can see such thuggery-land-grabbing along Marcos Highway —- nice 4- or 5-bedroom houses built on land-grabbed public land, or land taken away by skullduggery from lumads of the Cordilleras, or land taken away from lumads by goons of the MNLF.

    Squatting on Garcia-owned, Monsod-owned, jmd- or leytenian- or Tordesillas- or Quezon-owned private property is a whole different ballgame. The end — “I got my own land, yeba!!!!!” — does not justify illegal means, which is why deSotto seems to say, and Margaret Thatcher definitely says, that property rights must be respected.

    The good thing is that not all of the urban poor are land-grabbers. Many of the urban-poor do pay rent!!! Many others choose to live on the streets in carts because you have to bastardize one’s thinking or moral compass before people shed what seems a natural instice to respect someone else’s private property.

    cvj: you should understand that property rights is NOT being set aside as housing (fully-titled and all) gets provided to the poor by GawadKalinga and/or Pinas government, and really, the poor who become beneficiaries off, say, GawadKalinga free housing should say “thank you”.

  9. why don’t you go further and endorse robert mugabe’s land reform programme. that one is much better, don’t you think?

  10. UP n student:
    “You can see such thuggery-land-grabbing along Marcos Highway —- nice 4- or 5-bedroom houses built on land-grabbed public land, or land taken away by skullduggery from lumads of the Cordilleras, or land taken away from lumads by goons of the MNLF.”

    in this case, a formal examination of title of how it was processed. How far do we go back in time? 25 years? If this land grubber from marcoses have paid taxes on this property for over 10 years, then the deserve to keep it unless rule of law is exercised due to non payment of property taxes.

    About urban poor? A government housing may help and they should rent not owned except for those who have stable jobs on the same industry for over 5 years. ( i mean the professionals or government employee who live on squatters). Because if they own it, they will sell it when money become scarce. The rent should be according to their current income and household size.

    Any country always have housing subsidies and government own high rise just like Hongkong. People will rent and once they make more money then they can buy their own. I don’t believe on free housing. One must earn his/her rights to acquire a property and that is to pay the value.

    Do we have lease option to buy. Meaning… people will rent on government housing and when income increases, they have the option to buy at fix price during which the option was exercised. This is another solution but I will not recommend to exercise this option at the land where the squatters live because the goal is to relocate them. So the government must have its own housing development ready somewhere for “lease option to buy, for sale option or simply for rental..The unit must have a value and only for those who live in the squatters area. This housing must be close to the city for employment purposes.

  11. UPn, i think you have to read his Mystery of Capital (and his other book) to understand where in the continuum between jmd’s ‘head on a plastic plate’ and grd’s ‘Mugabe style land reform’ is Hernando de Soto’s advocacy situated As i understand it, de Soto does not take it for granted that existing titles are valid as he lends more weight on current occupancy and the conversion of extra-legal settlements to legal ones.

  12. why not? how does it differ from the chinese or vietnamese way that you’re endorsing? mugabe’s policy is best for your radical pro-poor advocacy. or you disagree because his policy is not famous in the western world? just like you disagree with winston garcia taking on meralco even if it will benefit the masa just because he’s w/ the gloria administration? i find your populist stance inconsistent. much more your unwillingness to pay income tax if required by pinas. yet, you’re generous to give away other people’s property as pointed out by UPn.

  13. grd, you have to study how the Vietnamese and Chinese implemented their respective land reforms to see the difference between what they have done and what Mugabe is doing. Details and quality of execution matters. Same goes with Winston Garcia’s clumsy, pseudo-populist stance which wiped away a good deal of the value of Meralco shares held by the GSIS pensioners. She may have fooled you, but i can see through Gloria Arroyo’s gimmick.

  14. about mugabe:

    hmmnnnn..we cannot really compare Philippines to Africa…
    mugabe’s effort:
    Mugabe declared that he would “abide by the will of the people”. The vote was a surprise to ZANU-PF, and an embarrassment before parliamentary elections due in mid-April. Almost immediately, self-styled “war veterans”, led by Chenjerai ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi, began invading white-owned farmsThose who did not leave voluntarily were often tortured and sometimes killed. Many were forced to drink diesel fuel as a form of torture.[59] On April 6, 2000, Parliament pushed through an amendment, taken word for word from the draft constitution that was rejected by voters, allowing the seizure of white-owned farmlands without due reimbursement or payment[60].
    The result:
    Since these actions, agricultural production has plummeted and the economy is crippled. Once the “bread basket” of southern Africa and a major agricultural exporter, Zimbabwe now depends on food programs and support from outside to feed its population.[61] A third of the population depends on food supplies from the World Food Programme to avoid starvation.[61]

    some policy must be reviewed properly… we cannot take the action of one to hurt very many… in our case… we are discussing more solutions..
    keep it coming…
    the biggest problem we have is our debt .kung mayaman ang pinas… i will never doubt that we filipinos are naturally generous. a good example is overseas remittance. we don’t leave our country behind.
    when I was growing up, my uncles and my aunties always gave me money for no reason. that’s us… no question of our generosity.
    we just need to get our SHIT together. LOL

  15. Since these actions, agricultural production has plummeted and the economy is crippled. Once the “bread basket” of southern Africa and a major agricultural exporter, Zimbabwe now depends on food programs and support from outside to feed its population.[61] A third of the population depends on food supplies from the World Food Programme to avoid starvation.[61]

    so why was mugabe’s land reform programme unsucessful leytenian?

  16. grd, you have to study how the Vietnamese and Chinese implemented their respective land reforms to see the difference between what they have done and what Mugabe is doing. Details and quality of execution matters.

    again cvj, if I may ask, why was the programme of mugabe unsucessful? what went wrong? he tried basically to grab the farms from the big landowners and distribute to the poor farmers. is it not what you want to happen here in pinas w/ your urban and rural land reform? How realistic is your formula?

    Same goes with Winston Garcia’s clumsy, pseudo-populist stance which wiped away a good deal of the value of Meralco shares held by the GSIS pensioners.

    even if the shares of meralco went down, the company will never go bankrupt and will always be profitable being a public utility and a monopoly. the share value will always go up. my take, as the late cardinal sin once said, “even if the money comes from the devil, I will take it if it will benefit the poor”.

    She may have fooled you, but i can see through Gloria Arroyo’s gimmick.

    really, you can see through gloria’s gimmick? and how is that? you have 3 years to know gloria after 2001, yet, you still voted for her as your president. is that how you call “you can see through gloria’s gimmicks”? common cvj. you call that wisdom?

  17. leytenean, i wouldn’t exactly call giving to loved ones “generosity”. ofw remittances are mostly for their families. some filipinos are truly generous. they give to others without expecting anything in return. sometimes they willingly pay their taxes, too, knowing it could not exist and provide services without support.

    btw, there’s no point in repeating ad nauseam our national debt. hardly any nation is without debts. even the u.s. has debts. avoiding it is easier said than done. nagging about it doesn’t solve anything.

  18. grd, you can check the Wikipedia entry on ‘Land Reform in Zimbabwe’ where it explains that:

    Many observers view land reform as an essential component of decolonization. Since mainland China’s economic reforms led by Deng Xiaoping, land reforms have also played a key role in the development of the People’s Republic of China. What remains controversial in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is the manner of the land reform, its haphazard nature, and the widespread suspicion that it is being used to reward Mugabe supporters and attack his opponents, with others, including thousands of blacks who worked the white-owned farms and those experiencing famine, losing out.

    As i mentioned above, quality of execution matters.

    Regarding Gloria, i did not claim ‘wisdom’. What i said was, unlike you, i won’t be fooled by her again.

  19. leytenian,

    it’s an issue to me knowing how cvj is trying to portray himself here as the champion of the poor. as for taxation, laws can be inacted if it needs to be done to help the country why not. it’s not that the phils will just be the only one implementing double taxation if the state tries to impose it. read the explanation of UPn above how will it be implemented justly. i am an ofw too and if I can help the country in my own little way not? my remittances go straight to my family so I don’t count them as “utang na loob” of the country to me. but I understand where you’re coming from. I read somewhere you’ve commented that you’re not even willing to shell-out your P1,200 (?) to pay for tourism tax(?). even if it’s maybe a joke to you, that kind of statement doesn’t sits well with me. i find it selfish specially during hard times like this when the country needs help from people who are capable of giving. yet you have more than enough rants to give.

  20. cvj, unlike you, i was never fooled by gloria. to me she is irrelevant now. i had my time of protest too. but now, whether she do good or fuck-up the country, i’m not affected anymore. i’ll just do my own thing. and i take comfort from the fact that she has only 2 years to go. then this whole brouhaha might just go away. and i don’t have to bully anyone here to subscribe to what i believe is right.

  21. grd, yeah it seems you’re more affected by the comments in this site (and over at Ellen’s although you can’t comment there anymore).

  22. For Nash:

    re: sss ofw

    Supremo likewise asked about sss,so This could also be a better answer to his question as well.

    cannot access sss or this is a deadlink I give you the cached version:

    A new breed of heroes has emerged on our country’s landscape. They work hard to provide for their families, toil endlessly in foreign lands to get their children through school, and sacrifice relationships to uplift the economy of our nation as a whole.
    Of course, we’re talking about our very own overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a bastion of hope for our country’s economic recovery. These tireless workers labor everyday in faraway countries to help us get by, and in turn, these heroes receive all the benefits accorded to them such as special financial programs, workers’ insurance, and an overseas fund.
    And now, our very own Social Security System (SSS) has added another highlight to the OFWs financial security. Starting immediately, the SSS is conducting the SSS Flexi-Fund Program: A Voluntary Provident Fund for Overseas Filipino Workers. The program is a voluntary provident fund that provides a mechanism for the OFW to save more for the future, complementing the benefits under the regular SSS programs. This means the program is open only to OFWs abroad and is added on top of existing SSS-OFW membership benefits.
    The SSS noticed that the OFW earns a lot in a short period of time, and then the cash flow suddenly stops. This program is a way for the OFW to even it out. The program is tax-free and OFW members can avail of the fund at any time, or choose to leave the fund alone until they retire. The fund aims to provide OFWs with a mechanism to save part of their incomes provided by overseas employment.
    Confronted with finding a means of livelihood once they return to the country, the SSS Flexi-Fund allows SSS-OFW members to prepare by encouraging saving while they are employed overseas. Members have the option to avail of the accumulated balance in their provident fund to meet their financial needs. Early withdrawals can finance housing, education, or capital for business. When held to retirement age, the provident fund can finance the member’s needs in old age in the form of monthly pension, a lump sum payment or both. The fund is a significant supplement to existing benefits under the regular SSS programs. This is to help OFWs re-enter the mainstream of Filipino society after years of hard work overseas.
    Since OFWs earn higher levels of income that are otherwise not available locally, the voluntary fund encourages OFWs to take advantage of the earnings boost by saving a greater portion of it for future needs. Because it is a provident fund, all amounts accumulated plus interest shall accrue solely to the SSS-OFW member.
    Membership in the fund is open to all OFWs who fall under the following categories:
    • recruited in the Philippines by a foreign-based employer for employment abroad;
    • having a source of income in a foreign country; or
    • residing permanently in a foreign country.
    OFWs can contact the foreign branches of the SSS for an application to the program. OFWs based in countries without existing SSS offices may submit applications via mail or email addressed to the International Affairs and Branch Expansion (IABE) office.
    An OFW can pay his contribution to the fund anytime, provided that, at the time of payment the maximum required monthly contribution is paid to the regular Social Security program. Any amount paid in excess of the required maximum monthly contribution to the regular Social Security program shall be applied to the fund. An OFW may continue paying the contribution under this fund even after the termination of his overseas employment, as long as the OFW continues to pay the required maximum contribution to the regular Social Security program. Payments shall cease upon filing of a final claim under the regular SSS program.
    Overall, the SSS Flexi-Fund’s program includes benefits such as:
    • A member who has reached 60 years of age is entitled to a retirement benefit.
    • Upon the death of a pensioner (e.g. retirement, disability or early withdrawal pensioner), the beneficiary shall receive a lump sum benefit equivalent to the cash value of the remaining pension.
    • A member may withdraw his contributions to the fund including interest anytime.
    With the help of the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Foreign Affairs, the SSS is making this program available to OFWs in many countries.

    cached version of url:

    for international branches

    since i cannot access the sss site i googled:

  23. grd,

    please do not get me wrong. i have helped a lot. i cannot disclose who i am, but I have donated money to rebuild my highschool. lots of money. i am also organizing an educational foundation here in the US with two other priests to help send children in the provinces thru college. So far it has been good.
    The best form of help to our government is to send 2-3 nieces , nephews, friends children or anyone to go to college. Giving your money to Philippine IRS may not be a good idea… Corruption is still rampant.

    as for taxation. sure , UP n student recommendation was good . I did pay balikbayan tax . if you have read the comment i made
    why two countries enter into a double taxation agreement relief because of this reason:
    Many countries enter into double taxation agreement relief to encourage the free flow of commerce between the two countries. Individuals and companies are less likely to do business where they will be taxed twice. US and Philippines as well as Singapore have double taxation agreement relief. I will explain more on inflow and outflow of capital,international treaty and other policies that I am very much familiar with when time allows.

    Why Mugabe’s land reform failed ? corruption

    “But much of the land was granted to Mugabe’s government cronies and war veterans in exchange for continued support of his rule. These new landowners, unlike the previous white owners, are uninterested in farming. Farm workers and women, the two largest landless groups, were not beneficiaries of the policy.”

  24. leytenian,

    If you are not an ofw is this correct to say:

    Giving your money to Philippine IRS may not be a good idea… Corruption is still rampant.

    so let us not pay taxes then!corruption will always be there,national debts are always there,;and what would be the solution:civil disobedience?

    civil disobedience is not meant to be permanent.

  25. bencard,
    “even the u.s. has debts. avoiding it is easier said than done. nagging about it doesn’t solve anything.”
    it’s not nagging, it’s awareness but what do you think will solve it? any suggestion?

  26. KG,

    you have misundertand me.. i was referring to double taxation agreement. that agreement is consented by two countries. it’s not because i don’t wanna pay. its’ not me who made the policy. But if that agreement is revoke between two countries than one must understand the consequences of such action…. i have to repeat: Many countries enter into double taxation agreement relief to encourage the free flow of commerce between the two countries. Individuals and companies are less likely to do business where they will be taxed twice. US and Philippines as well as Singapore have double taxation agreement relief.

  27. Never mind ,it is you who misunderstood.

    I understand that you are talking about double taxation,I am asking if you are not an ofw will you not pay taxes because of corruption?

    no i need to enunciate?

  28. if i am not an OFW. of course , i have to pay and people has to pay taxes. there’s no way an economy can sustain without it. it’s a standard policy for every country. bakit meron ba diyan sa atin hindi nagbabayad like the rich,actor and actresses?
    taxation on individual income should be automatically deducted… talking about taxation… we should have one ID system for every filipino employed or unemployed. cedula ata yung sa atin pero walang central recording. it’s very hard to impose a strict guidelines …will talk more about this. or meron nang discussion about this before that I don’t know of.

  29. ikaw talaga.. ok lang…i saw your pic at cvg’s blogsite( gwapo ah) .. i should upload mine…heheheh

  30. Citizens living and working out of the country not only Not Paying Income Taxes, but they are what we Call Citizens of Convenience, that have to be looked after and re-examine the benefits if they are entitled to them…I agree fully for them of not Paying Taxes on Income earned outside the country, but are they entitled to benefits paid by Taxpayers?

    During the Lebanon Evacuation, where most of the Evacuated Citizens, no longer maintain residence in the country and within weeks came back to their Native Homeland after everything settled down on return tickets paid by the Taxpayers, the debate on this issue was in the Mind of Many Politicians and concerned citizens alike but forgotten until perhaps another upheaval somewhere where all they need is wave their passports to get out.

    Canada’s current policy, designed to attract newcomers, allows immigrants to become citizens after just three years of residency — with no requirement to relinquish previous passports.

    Non-resident Canadians do not have to pay income tax. Babies born to tourists are also entitled to full citizenship. People can acquire citizenship through ancestry as well, qualifying if a parent was Canadian — even if this parent never lived in Canada.

    This generous policy, meant to lure newcomers, has in many cases actually served to accelerate their departure. Today, an estimated 8% of all Canadians (2.7 million) live outside the country, 1.7 million of them permanent residents elsewhere, according to the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Forty-four% live in the United States; 24% in Asia and 18% in Europe. There are currently 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong alone.

    In his study, Prof. Chant notes that overseas Canadians have a range of government benefits that he calls the “passport package.”

    The package includes not just one-time evacuations, but a whole list of benefits:

    * They pay resident tuition fees and receive university financial assistance;
    * Their dependents can become Canadian citizens;
    * They have health-care benefits;
    * They are eligible for the prisoner transfer program;
    * They receive consular services, free entrance into Canada and visa exemptions to travel to many other countries.

    Kurland added that if there was political upheaval in Taiwan, Hong Kong or mainland China, the impact on Canada could be enormous in terms of evacuation and resettlement costs. “Those evacuated from Lebanon this summer were given return tickets and within two months, half had returned,” he pointed out. “It’s time they shared the cost of this.”

  31. The article you quoted puts the anti-Jose (Sionil) camp into shame. Who can write so simply and eloquently about factual truths (Ninoy an unproven leader would’ve been brutal) that other literary writers would be ashamed to even have thought.

    I think whatever circumstances CVJ was lionizing, Jose’s article reminded me that if we had put more effort in pushing out the Spaniards we would’ve been a better people to one another. The Spanish, then, were so few Manolo that losses would’ve been a far smaller number than the losses during the Philippine-American war. Rizal was stuck in his middle-class mindset. He wanted relations with Spain to continue so he can travel freely in Europe. Think about it.

  32. brian, i don’t agree with jose’s characterization of ninoy entirely (he does not consider the redemptive nature of ninoy’s incarceration, for one thing) but yes, the piece shows once again why jose’s such a formidable writer.

    concerning your comment re: the revolution, i don’t know if i’d agree with you entirely, either. last week i got to interview a military historian and he pointed out the biggest lost opportunity of the revolution was that the revolutionary leaders fell into squabbling precisely at the point when they could have fought the spaniards to a standstill; but instead, the already enfeebled spanish empire managed to haul reinforcements to the philippines and the revolutionary forces crumbled and pretty much collapsed.

    he pointed out how dewey’s victory at manila bay deprived the spaniards of all hopes of bringing in reinforcements when the revolution resumed in 1898, and the spanish forces quite quickly and spectacularly collapsed: they withdrew to manila and essentially abandoned the rest of the archipelago to the revolutionaries. yet even as the americans were trying to get their land forces together, aguinaldo dithered about besieging manila.

    nick joaquin’s marvelous “el camino real” portrayed that lost opportunity (and joaquin was basically an aguinaldista) and i have to wonder if we’d indeed been nicer to each other, as you put it, if we’d kicked out the spaniards on our own. in what possible sense? the grievances that erupted in the 30s to the present would have erupted against the victors of 1896-98.

    i do think rizal was right in his objections not to revolution as an ideal, but to the manner it was being pursued by the katipunan. he could not have foreseen gthe revolutionaries chopping of the noses of santos, but he recognized the anger and resentment in people’s hearts- but asked, as mabini would later ask, if anger and resentment are enough if you don’t have the basis for citizenship. this is precisely a view you articulate often, the need to internalize rights: it’s why rizal attempted to translate the french revolution’s “rights of man” into tagalog (a pretty subversive thing for his time), why mabini argued with most everyone the way he did in his time, too.

  33. Total agricultural land as of 2002 = 9.7 millions hectares
    Marginal Farmers, tenants and farm workers = 10.2 million, -Rego

    Interesting Data.

    Add, 80 million mouths to feed with 9.7 million hectares?

    Can we do it?

  34. “…we should have one ID system for every filipino employed or unemployed.” – Leytenian

    There was a recent proposal (I think by NSO) to implement a unified ID system replacing the ID numbers being issued BIR, SSS, GSIS, etc. If I’m not mistaken, activist groups from the Left protested the scheme on grounds that the State will use the data base generated to monitor militants.

    Its almost Mission Impossible to implement new systems to improve things in our country when a key ingredient is lacking: TRUST.

  35. @PSImeon, i’m very much in favor of a National ID as long as we are not required to carry it around and produce it on demand by the authorities (like a driver’s license). Also, access to the information contained in the database should be controlled by the holder of the ID. In short, if such a National ID is accompanied by credible safeguards to personal privacy, then it would be a good thing.

    While we’re at it, we should also require all SIM cards to be registered to the individual subscriber. As i blogged about before,

    …society has to find a way to accept the loss of anonymity while strengthening safeguards to privacy.

    Before we do the above, the first order of the day would be to rein in those who were responsible for bugging Garci and Jun Lozada.

    @jmd, for the 9.7 million hectares, you have to subtract the land area being converted to non-agricultural purposes, land used for biofuels, cash crops for exports as well as the land contracted to produce food for the Mainland Chinese. Add back the land area gained by cutting or burning down our remaining forests.

  36. ID system and SIM card will help prevent terrorism… safety reason and will help solve crimes.

    ID system for our country’s management will guide our leaders actual employment and unemployment all over in real time…

    lots of advantages… it should have been done. many more . there is really no disadvanatge except the cost of implementation but this investment willl facilitate all government business process. managing millions of people in one central location and a push of a button is brilliant.

  37. Bencard on, “as i said, not all filipinos are interested in farming. just because the father of a family supported his 6 children working in the family’s farm, it doesn’t mean that all 6 will do the same. human development is not limited to being able to work the land.”

    The more reason the concept of local agriculture to feed the increasing population in poverty is simply dead. Not even the current administration’s infrastructure and farm-to-market roads could make a bite.

  38. UP n student on, “This will mean that a number of lower-income OFW’s pay zero tax to Pinas, while Doc Bautista and other OFWs (e.g. doctors, petroleum engineers, financial analysts, managers, etcetera) who have been better blessed, do begin to pay income tax to Pinas.”

    Why should any hardworking OFWs pay income tax to Pinas who:
    1. cannot provide any opportunity (hence, OFWs went abroad).
    2. milking the OFWs before it can earn its 1st dollar by imposing higher travel tax on OFWs than the foreigners using the same airport.
    3. spend one of its largest budget on military that did not serve the majority population who are sinking into poverty year by year.
    4. waste taxes on pork barrels for political entitlement of family dynasties.
    5. pay the salaries and travel benefits of useless lawmakers who have zero solution to overpopulation.
    6. who have the endless appetite of spending OFWs dollar remittances on importation rather than within for local economy regeneration.

    excuse me…

  39. leytenian on, “ID system for our country’s management will guide our leaders actual employment and unemployment all over in real time… ”

    Even with unemployment data available, job creation is simply overwhelmed by overpopulation, hence the OFW phenomena.

  40. leytenian on, “ID system and SIM card will help prevent terrorism… safety reason and will help solve crimes.”

    It is a nightmare waiting to happen. It is a perfect political tool for those in power. It is also a minefield for unfair business practices.

    As a reminder, any system is neutral until self-interest comes in. And we knew how Philippines rank in CORRUPTION scale.

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