A heinous situation

Dan Mariano writes on Bullying the business community. Even Philippine Commentary had to take exception to Rightist Poster Boy Enrile on this one. Previously, Tony Abaya said Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s posturing in the Senate was due to his having an axe to grind with foreign businessmen over their complaints concerning smuggling in Port Irene.

The businessmen incurred the Enrile-Santiago tandem’s ire, because they dared remind the President of her previous policy of coddling them. But foreign businessmen are here only to profit, they don’t really decide the fates of regimes, because whoever is in power they will do business with. The problem, now, for the President, is that her past trump card -The Economy- is proving increasingly a weak one, because of the global situation. The President, for her part, knows as well as any Roman imperial official did in their time, that at all costs, the plebes must be provided bread and circuses. Or else.

The Business Mirror has two parallel reports: locally, Dispute over subsidies widens and regionally, Subsidies worsen food crisis .That this is a question the entire region’s wrestling with is explored Anwar’s False Promise on Fuel Prices . This report, Korea in Crisis, also provides a sobering tale (will it drive more South Koreans to come to the Philippines?).

Two views on these subsidies and policies, one from an official, the other from a citizen.

From Congressman Ruffy Biazon, on the one-time cash gift of the President to electricity consumers:Anyone who has ever spent time in the grassroots will tell you what will happen when you give dole outs in the field, especially if it involves money. Imagine dropping a piece of candy in the middle of an anthill.

From the outset, the government’s distribution plan was obviously a logistical nightmare. While indeed, government will eventually be able to had over the subsidy to the people, the cost of doing so will only highlight the inefficiency of their system and the incompetence of those who thought of it.

In order for the distribution plan to be implemented, government would have to mobilize manpower to do the distribution, secure the distributors and the money, maintain order in the distribution centers, and other measures needed to undertake such an activity. All these translate to expenditures just to carry out the plan.

Never mind if there was no other way to go about it. But as it turns out, there is another way. Common sense will tell you that the easiest way would be to turn over the subsidy to Meralco and have them deduct the amount from the next bill of the consumers. Simple as that. In the age of computerized banking and finance, it will only take minimum effort and a lot of savings to the government instead of what they are doing now.

But it turns out that the government officials handling this are not entirely ignorant to such an idea. In the provinces, where the other 2 million of the 4 million target beneficiaries are located, the government intends to implement the subsidy through the electric cooperatives, so that the subsidies will just be credited to the accounts of the consumers. No distribution centers, no lining up…

…I’m dumbfounded. While they are considering this scheme for the distribution of the subsidies in the provinces, where they will have to deal with dozens of electric cooperatives and private distribution units which service the estimated 2 million electricity consumers in the provinces, they did not think about doing the same with Meralco, the lone distributor of electricity to the estimated 2 million consumers in Metro Manila.

From , a citizen, b[email protected] on joining his mother to buy NFA rice:

When I lined up at the end of the queue, there were about 30 people before me. My mom was two persons before me, and she asked me to move behind her. But there were two persons between me and my mother, so I refused. The two women then told me to go ahead, since they were standing in for others anyway. Fine with me.

After 10 minutes, we saw several people load a tricycle, five persons each carrying five kilos of rice. Another 10 minutes, the same thing happened. My mom was surprised that “mga dayo” (those who came from much farther place) got ahead of us, who lives just across the street from where NFA rice was being sold.

We were lucky enough for the seller to sell maximum of five kilos per person; last Monday, it the limit was only two kilos.

Then we noticed that people ahead of us who got their rice were carrying their load using the same green plastic bag. We were told that the seller required every buyer to get their plastic bags from them for one peso per bag – no exemptions, even if you have a plastic bag with you. Not only it meant more non-biodegrable material to bring home, it also meant that the seller is making a profit out of those bags.

And a kilo of NFA rice costs twenty five pesos; the eighteen-peso is not available. Mom has been buying NFA rice for several weeks now, and she hasn’t bought the cheapest variety ever since.

The Mount Balatucan Monitor puts it very well:

With limited expense on power and fuel, expect government service to deteriorate. How can a government agency effectively deliver the best public service if its official expense is curtailed? Should the public endure sweatshop conditions in government offices because airconditioners are not functioning. Or field work will be hampered because government personnel cannot use their vehicle to serve far flung areas. To reflect it deeper, more money in millions are lost to corruption and other official shenanigans in the government than its actual official expense. They cut public expense but this government does not monitor or check the public money that were lost due to chronic corruption.

As economist Filomeno Sta. Ana III puts it in Populism and being Anti-Business:

The current populist rhetoric and actions are similar to those taken by Mrs. Arroyo before the 2004 elections. Recall that she reduced the Napocor tariffs and set about a spending binge for her to look handsome and secure partisan support before the elections. Which leads some to ask: Is Mrs. Arroyo setting her sights on the 2010 elections?

One adverse consequence of unsound populist measures is the aggravation of the fiscal situation. Thus, after the 2004 elections, the Philippines suffered a fiscal crisis. Government had to cut spending on health, education and infrastructure and impose higher taxes such as increasing the rate of the value-added tax from 10 percent to 12 percent.

The fiscal problem continues to haunt us. Tax effort remains low, and some taxes – those on sin products – are not adjusted to inflation. The brand of populism that Mrs. Arroyo promotes is exacerbating the problem.

Recall what I’d reported here years ago, in The President’s “sweet spot,” in 2005, which is what a Bear Sterns analyst said of the VAT: it was the source for patronage. The long and short of it, Sta. Ana argues, is that,

Arroyo’s populism is thus a disguise for her being anti-business. That this has gone berserk is likewise manifested in how her allies – the three stooges in the Senate, as my colleague Manuel Buencamino calls them – have insulted and bullied the foreign chambers of commerce.

Yes, she has her set of business cronies, but that doesn’t make her pro-business. To be pro-business is to apply the rules fairly to all businessmen, regardless of their political sentiments.

Worse, unlike Hugo Chavez who is seen as anti-business but pro-poor, Mrs. Arroyo is both anti-business and anti-poor.

Unemployment, poverty and inequality have become the trademark of her economic performance despite the growth. Even the subsidies that she is ostensibly offering to the poor are anti-poor. The subsidies do not reach those who deserve most the subsidy. Rice for the poor is scarce in Mindanao where there is a large concentration of poor, while it is abundant in Metro Manila, which has the least number of absolute poor. A power subsidy for small electricity users totaling two billion pesos will not benefit the poor either because in the first place the absolute poor have no access to electricity.

But why should we care for a leadership that is pro-business? Because being pro-business, if properly done, encourages investments and employment and is therefore good for the workers, for the unemployed, and for the poor.

While I’m often ambivalent about him, the grey eminence of the Ramos era, Jose Almonte, recently issued one of his epistles on the need to keep up the momentum for reform (as reproduced in Danton Remoto’s blog):

“Islands of Good Governance” should also seek constantly to spread their influence to neighboring provinces, cities, towns – most easily through economic complementation, economic clustering and administrative example.

So in contrast to the go-for-broke (literally) governance of the present regime, here’s splendid news: 2 governors, mayor share best practices in governance. A reform constituency coming together. According to the report, the three agree on:

[E]nsuring greater transparency and accountability in government dealings, curbing the pervasive illegal numbers game “jueteng” and illegal logging, and fighting for more local autonomy in the maintenance of law and order.

And with less than two years to go before the 2010 national elections, the three officials are now pushing for computerized elections and voters’ education.

Of their reform agenda, the third, is particularly interesting in the light of recent events. The bloated Philippine National Police bureaucracy has proven itself increasingly incapable of clamping down on crime (or extracting accountability from its own people: see Promotion of Lozada ‘kidnapper’ scored).

And crimes are getting increasingly vicious.

I first spotted the news last Tuesday afternoon on TV. Here’s the Inquirer report: Grisly end for 5 QC household members.

NGO circles received (and passed on) an email from the Association of Foundations (AF) asking for prayers for Oman Jiao and his family, and tersely detailing the murders:

At around noontime today, June 10, the house of Oman’s parents in Talayan Village, Quezon City, was robbed. Police suspect it to be the Akyat-Bahay Gang. Oman’s parents, three househelps, and Oman’s daughter, 3-year old Nina (who passed by her grandparent’s house after attending the first day of prep-school), were hogtied, and the house was torched down. Only Oman’s father survived the ordeal and is currently being treated in a hospital.

The gruesome news registered briefly (and hit “too close to home,” for some like village idiot savant), but didn’t gain the traction of say, the RCBC bank heist. Not least because the abduction of Ces Drilon swept all other news aside. The frustration of some local officials is that if they had more control over the local police, they could fight crime more effectively. A national police force is, after all, a recent innovation, dating back only to the martial law years; and as one frustrated citizen recently put it to me, “aside from ideologically-motivated crimes, if you look at all other crimes, sooner or later it brings you to the doorstep of the PNP.” Perhaps we ought to consider that the PNP (successor of the Constabulary) should once more be relegated to crimes that cross provincial boundaries, having SWAT teams, etc.

Although, as my column for today, The Rule of Glo (which took its cue from these articles: What was he thinking?!? in Uniffors, and Planting evidence remark only a joke – PDEA chief )points out, there are other problems, too.

Vergel Santos, veteran newsman and something of a walking conscience for the profession, writes up his objections to the media embargo on the story. Taking a cue from the Duke of Wellington’s famous reply to a blackmailer, Santos titles his piece Publish and be damned:

They may have all been convinced in their hearts that they were doing the right thing, but still they should be able to square it with the basic principle that governs their profession, the very reason indeed for which it exists – the people’s right to know. And if they insist on this case as a moral exception, they will be expected to judge by the same standard every comparable case that comes along.

But what exactly is that standard? So far as I can discern, it’s a variable and ineffable one, set by what feels right in one’s heart at the moment. Journalists are indeed given wide latitudes, but they still have to validate their judgments and actions against certain express rules and principles.

Obviously, a rule covering the entire profession doesn’t exist. As I see it, the problem is that when it comes to kidnappings, embargoes have been put in place more often than the public thinks, and even more often than the media (itself subject to the great shortcoming that afflicts most Philippine institutions, of having a feeble, at best, institutional memory) is aware. The best any individual outfit can do, is point out, off-the-record, that they have obliged victims’ families in this regard in the past; but neither the public or media as a collective knows this or can quantify how often, and so determine if Drilon enjoyed special treatment or not.

Here is a question that has been bothering me for some days now, ever since Driver claims military agent, not Abus seized Drilon team. And ever since Village Idiot Savant bought up The unthinkable.

If things start edging towards convincing proof that what actually took place was the abduction of Drilon by pet bandits of the AFP, then the horrifying conclusion of the whole thing will be her liquidation -as collateral damage in a botched rescue attempt by the military or the PNP. I hope my nervousness over At Midfield’s Howitzer Blasts, Tuesday “Deadline” Raise Tensions In Sulu Abduction Area are unfounded.

In the meantime, noteworthy entries on the abduction can be found in Tingog.com, and The Write Stuff and in Pedestrian Observer. Also, see earlier commentary in khanterbury tales, in AlterNation101, from Manilenyo In Davao and in notes of marichu c. lambino and Tongue In, Anew. In his blog, RG Cruz pens an eloquent, personal, tribute to her. Another one, by Muslim journalist Samira Gutoc, provides an insight into why Drilon was so often in Mindanao:

Throughout her career, I grew to respect her for her sense of commitment in good reportage. But this respect was heightened with how I saw her commitment in the coverage of under-reported stories as the peacetalks and ARMM development . Ces had covered the ARMM elections and the two peace talks spanning three decades – the government (GRP)-MNLF in the 1980s and the current GRP-MILF peace talks .

Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial, Lame-duck Congress, took the current, 14th Congress to task, and today’s Inquirer editorial, Unparliamentary?, focused on a fight within the Left in the House. What is interesting is the insight the intra-Left squabble provides, on the kind of tactical approach that would support landlord-driven opposition to the current agrarian reform program, in order to (consistently, mind you) push forward a party’s alternative proposal for collectivizing lands. As Mon Casiple suggests,

Of course, as in any contentious legislation of a divided body as the Philippine Congress, there will be compromises. However, on balance, if a measure will improve the present situation, then there is a basis for supporting such a measure.

It is in this light that the position taken by those who advocate the so-called “Genuine Agrarian Reform Program” or GARP effectively weakens the interests of the Filipino peasantry. By advocating an extremely radical proposal of giving the peasants “free land”, they seemingly represent their highest interests. However, they well know that this will not get anywhere near a majority support in a landlord-influenced Congress.

What are they then after? The only political logic is a posturing for a “revolutionary” solution to the agrarian reform issue–which is represented by the CPP agrarian revolution proposal. The problem, of course, is that the battleground here is the parliamentary arena, specifically the Philippine Congress, not the “democratic coalition government” or even the “National Democratic Front” led by the CPP. By this position, the GARP advocates try to persuade people of the necessity for their “revolutionary” solution–only attainable, by their own admission, through a protracted “people’s war.”

There is an effective collusion between the landlords and GARP advocates in blocking the extension of CARP, although they come from different motivations. The former wants to hold on to the land; the latter wants to sharpen class contradictions. The former wants to maintain an archaic, feudal and regressive social system which has consigned millions of our peasants to poverty; the latter wants to foist an unrealistic, if seductive, vision in service of a failed strategy.

Tangentially related to the above is a thought-provoking reading from F. Sionil Jose in Rizal, Ninoy and revolution:

Ninoy believed in revolution; he expounded on it before a small group he knew very well but we didn’t know to what extent he had worked to advance it. I saw glimpses of it only after he died. During all those years that he was in prison, he continued reading - but his reading now included books on philosophy and religion. And when he was released on furlough, on my second visit to the Aquino house in Times Street in Quezon City, he took me to one of the rooms where we could be alone. The house was crawling with soldiers in civilian clothes, among them the late Willie Jurado who, Ninoy said, was Marcos’ personal agent.

He assured that the room was not bugged and he said that he still believed in revolution but that we couldn’t afford a million Filipinos killed as was the case with Vietnam.

There must be a way, he said, by which violence could be minimized. A million Filipinos – that is too much. Perhaps just a few hundred will do.

I told him that once violence was unleashed there was no way it could be controlled - I was repeating the old argument that Pepe Diokno used.

Therein lies the problem with regards to social and political change: radical solutions require radical methods, and every instance of radical methods in pursuit of radical change requires unleashing more misery than previously existed under the existing, but unjust, social order.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

127 thoughts on “A heinous situation

  1. KG,

    i remember Abaya writing that surprisingly Americanized Pinoys did not inherit the very American practice of no minimum wage

  2. cvj, whats the fixation about china. just like any other country, they are being manipulated by big money in wall street.

    a cabal of western bankers took advantage of its cheap labor force, thrash their environment due to rapid industrialization and widened the income gap of its society. Im not sure if you call that success. they got $1.5T of reserves to show for, but the value plummeting everyday with the US deflating its currency. they hold her by the neck, she has nowhere to go as any major economic policy shift they implement ends up shooting their own foot.

    they should have listened to one of the foremost capitalist when he quip “if you owe the bank $100 thats your problem. if you owe the bank $100 million, thats the bank problem.” it took them years to accumulate vast amount of dollars and now they end up at the mercy of the monetary policy of the creditor.

  3. ooops….

    it took them years to accumulate vast amount of dollars and now its value is dependent and at the mercy of the monetary policy of the borrower.

  4. What i can’t believe is that we are still stuck at the level of leaving our economic growth to market forces.

    I get the opposite impression. We are stuck at the level of leaving our economic growth to government forces. (‘Forces’ isnt a pun, btw.) Economic ‘growth’ through state-protected oligarchs. That’s where we are right now and where we’ve always been.

  5. CVG,
    about market forces…”that we are still stuck at the level of leaving our economic growth to market forces”
    being stucked? like waiting for the guava fruit to fall on juan’s face? ok… what do we have in our country in terms of manufacturing that we can market globally.
    china’s economic boom has helped many countries. here’s why.


    To KG,
    our minimum wage of $ 5.25 something dollar is very expensive for global market forces. Let’s lower it. bakit mahal ang pinoy. may corruption attachment ba ang pag calculate natin?
    as you have said: “that there were not enough economic activities in this country during those 48 years, to drive wages up significantly, in dollar and, therefore real, terms”
    obviously, we don’t know how to create our own jobs. It’s overseas. To keep our people within… take all the outsourcing and compete with India.

    For globalization… philippines is good in the service industry.

  6. ooops….

    “it took them years to accumulate vast amount of dollars and now its value is dependent and at the mercy of the monetary policy of the borrower.”
    Pundit blogger

    The phenomenon of China’s dollar hoard which started in 2003-2004 from $300M + to $1.5 trillion + only took over almost five years.

    Today the surplus dollars from the oil producing countries are dwarfing that surplus.

    At the rate of accumulation of the gulf sovereign wealth funds the oil producing countries and other surplus countries will reach over $10 trillion by 2015.

    Canada’s finance authorities are aslo planning to sanitize their oil revenues by starting a soverign welath fund so their currency will not get overvalued and destroy their domestic manufacturing and other value added resource based industries. They do not want their currency to strengthen versus the dollar and create problems for their domestic economy vis a vis exports to the U.S.

    Dollar accumulation is not exclusively a China deal. It is now a Eurasian phenomena to include the Middle East.

    China’s dollar hoard has helped the Chinese economy prevent the mark to market price of their energy resources andf thus they can afford to slowly raise their oil and gasoline prices at home.

    But there are serious leakages when diesel prices are 40% lower than world prices.

    Contrary to serious myths not only China but Germany, Japan and other countries lend money to the U.S. Europe and Japan are the largest investors in the U.S. Not the Chinese.

    So far the Chinese yuan has strengthened by 20% versus the dollar.

    It is a good bet to get stronger over the medium term.

    Chinese has practically bought the Philippines already with their debased dollars.

    The BSP relies heavily on currency default swaps with China, Japan and South Korea as a safety net or a second layer of reserves apart from the official reserves of the country. Total amount (approx. $10 B) That has kept our interest rates from blowing up.

    Nabenta na and Pinas sa mga chopsticks economies.

  7. Leytenian,

    hindi sa akin galing yun ke Tony abaya,that time I did not fail to put quotation marks.Pero nalimutan ko ilagay na ke tony abaya yon,sorry.

    at Leytenian:CVJ hindi CVG, nakakahiya naman sa kaibigan natin kung ibahin pa natin ang pangalan nya,buti di pa sya umaangal.

    during the great depresion nagbawas ng sahod europe, dito isuggest mo yan sabihin sayo:ano ka hilo?


    Yes, just read some of his(abaya) old articles,sa article na nilink ko parang ganun na rin ang sinasabi nya.

  8. It may be time to delink dollars from oil and remove the dollars pre-emminence from being the world’s reserve currency.

    It has become fashonable to use the euphemistic term ‘competitiveness’ in lieu of the more polticall sensitve word productivity.

    Currencies denote the political standard based on the productivity of the capital stock (both public and private) and the degree of the developed human capital in countries.

    Monetary systems are derivative of those fundamentals.

    Vietnam is learning the hard way about trying to leap frog into a first world economy.

    By quickly emracing the free market ideas from the IMF experts they are now suffering from an overdose of printing too much money for their non-productive sectors and now they are leading the pack in double digit inflation rates.

    For countries like the Philippines and Vietnam it can become a crap shoot.
    Trying to depend on debt (trade deficits) and financing this with foreign capital can be dangerous.

    The Philippines has a PHD on being a dependent and primitive economy.

    Ending the dollars supremacy would force all countries to develop their physical economies. No more free rides through debt. You actually have to learn to build something to trade with aprt from human exports for dollars.

    We are still trying to figure out how to ‘pump prime a carabao with steriods. ‘

    “Nevertheless, a dispassionate observer might point out that for someone with limited resources and opportunities for policy reform to keep betting double-or-nothing on neo-liberalism is a strategy that has a well-deserved name: “Gambler’s Ruin.” Bradford de Long

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/delong78 – Gambler’s Ruin

    “Oil Currency Hypocrisy
    by Kenneth Rogoff”

    “Kenneth RogoffCAMBRIDGE – Does it make sense for United States Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to be touring the Middle East supporting the region’s hard dollar exchange-rate pegs, while the Bush administration simultaneously blasts Asian countries for not letting their currencies appreciate faster against the dollar? Unfortunately, this blatant inconsistency stems from the US’s continuing economic and financial vulnerability rather than reflecting any compelling economic logic. Instead of promoting dollar pegs, as Paulson is, the US should be supporting the International Monetary Fund’s behind-the-scenes efforts to promote de-linking of oil currencies and the dollar. ”


  9. Well what do you know… It seems that Sen Legarda has been in the thick of things during Ces Drilon’s abduction. On TV this morning she humbly said something like, “Ces’s release should not be credited to me alone. There were a lot of people involved.” Ahh, humility.

    The amazing this is I never heard of her involvement. Aside from the allusions of one general against those who are ‘nakikisawsaw’. I didnt think anyone outside ‘official channels’ were involved.

    The other presidentiables must be kicking themselves.

  10. “Ninoy believed in revolution; he expounded on it before a small group he knew very well but we didn’t know to what extent he had worked to advance it. I saw glimpses of it only after he died. During all those years that he was in prison, he continued reading — but his reading now included books on philosophy and religion. And when he was released on furlough, on my second visit to the Aquino house in Times Street in Quezon City, he took me to one of the rooms where we could be alone. The house was crawling with soldiers in civilian clothes, among them the late Willie Jurado who, Ninoy said, was Marcos’ personal agent.

    He assured that the room was not bugged and he said that he still believed in revolution but that we couldn’t afford a million Filipinos killed as was the case with Vietnam.

    There must be a way, he said, by which violence could be minimized. A million Filipinos — that is too much. Perhaps just a few hundred will do.

    I told him that once violence was unleashed there was no way it could be controlled — I was repeating the old argument that Pepe Diokno used.”

    Therefore, the accusations by the Marcos national dictatorship against Ninoy of collaboration with the Communists were true after all. I hope the book “This Is Ninoy: Know Him Well”, by Rubén Guevarra is still available.

  11. I get the opposite impression. We are stuck at the level of leaving our economic growth to government forces. – Jeg

    After EDSA, we tried to privatize via the Asset Privatization Trust headed by Washington Sycip. Then, there was FVR’s telco, oil and water utilities deregulation. None of these has resulted in a sustained acceleration of GDP growth. Same goes with the outsourcing and BPO boom this decade. What else do you want to try?

    Economic ‘growth’ through state-protected oligarchs. That’s where we are right now and where we’ve always been. – Jeg

    That’s also the Japan model as i commented before.

    In this scheme, the ideal relationship between government and the private sector is what Dani Rodrik calls ‘embedded autonomy’, i.e. the happy medium between crony capitalism (with Neri’s regulatory capture leading to government failure) and leaving business completely to the private sector (which may lead to market failure and prevent industries from developing resulting in to anemic growth). Here’s an example using Japan’s history from a paper by Morck and Nakamura (posted in a blog entry by economist Dani Rodrik):

    Japan’s economic history suggests a big push can succeed under certain circumstances despite gloomy evidence to the contrary. Specifically,

    1. The state gives an initial shove, marginalizing traditional elites, reforming basic institutions, perhaps even subsidizing technology imports, and then withdraws its hand. This withdrawal checks government failure problems.
    2. Pyramidal business groups emerge to propel the big push. An undisputed controlling shareholder focusing on the apex firm’s value, prevents hold up problems and coordinates cross-industry subsidies, as group member firms tap public equity markets to capitalize cascades of subsidiaries spanning all relevant industries. At least to some extent, this echoes what a selfless central planner coordinating a big push would do
    3. The controlling shareholders are marginalized as the big push nears completion. This prevents entrenched oligarchy problems from reversing the big push.
    4. All this is done with limited trade barriers and no barriers against foreign investment.

    Our neighbors implemented a variant of the above. The bottomline is that we still need both the government and a new breed of (or at least reformed) Oligarchs.

  12. None of these has resulted in a sustained acceleration of GDP growth. Same goes with the outsourcing and BPO boom this decade. What else do you want to try?

    Something we havent: Stop protecting the oligarchy. Or more accurately, stop protecting its oligarchy. Telco, oil, and water resulted in improved service despite the birth pains. I would call that a success, especially Telco. I need reminding: What exactly did the APT privatize? Marcos’s white elephants?

    What else do I want to try? Agrarian reform to increase the purchasing power of those in the agri sector. But we have to get rid of the knee-jerk bias against corporate farming. Capitalists can bring in the technology such as typhoon-resistant greenhouses, sustainable energy supply, techniques, to produce high-quality, high-value crops. Improve agri because that’s basic.

    As for Japan, she was treating them all equally, that is, the zaibatsu. We arent doing that. The state chooses it’s ‘manok’ to replace the old ones and protects their manoks from competition.

    Im all for the happy medium. Like I said in other comments, that’s probably a more Asian approach. Your Rodrik quote calls this the ideal. But before we get to that ideal, we have to do a lot of things first. My thinking tells me we should give government less power, not more, to achieve this happy medium.

  13. Jeg, our recent deregulation and privatization programs may have been a success from the point of view of improving services, which is a good thing in itself. However, my point is that such a strategy has not resulted in an acceleration of economic growth similar to that delivered by strategies based on a relationship of embedded autonomy between government and the private sector.

    From my past comments, i hope you realize that we’re on the same side as far as not wanting to protect the current Oligarchy. Where we differ is in my belief that spring cleaning must be followed by a measure of performance-based coddling. After all, Oligarchs are Filipinos too.

    A government with less power leads to anarchy. What we need is a government with more accountability.

  14. PhilwoSpEditor on, ” I say we take drastic action and go with contraception, but I’m still saying no on abortion though”.

    Fine. There is the option to place the baby at the church doorstep, just in case. The church is in the business of saving lives so let it work as it profess to do. They have huge property that they do not pay property taxes and collected prohibitive tuition fees that they donot pay income tax. They should share on the cost of raising the huge flock, not just giving sermon from the pulpit.

    DJB on, “Unfortunately in this country, obesity has already infected the brain of the body politic as well and too many otherwise intelligent people want to give the Church the benefit of the doubt it does not deserve…not after comparisons with countries like Thailand.”

    Amen. Amen. Hallelujah!

  15. KG on, “wage law na sikat ngayon sa headlines dahil tinaggal sila sa tax base.”

    The recent announcement is redeeming on the poor. It is also infuriating because for all these years the government had been collecting 15 billion pesos a year from the minimum wage earners on top of the VAT taxes that they paid as passed on to them by the business sector (gas, electricity, water, clothings, etc).

    Ika nga todo gulpi ang mga minimum wage earners bago ang relief.

  16. hvrds on, “It may be time to delink dollars from oil and remove the dollars pre-emminence from being the world’s reserve currency.”

    Possible but hardly will it change.
    1. Disincentive for the Saudis and others, because they have to bite an immediate foreign exchange loss switching from weak dollar to strong euros. The size of the loss can cripple a weak country.
    2. Across the globe, China is holding US money reserves and underwriting US loans to keep China imports cheap and steady. It uses US dollar on their oil purchases which in the future will surpass US oil consumption.

    This is probably one area the Philippine government did right – started to accumulate reserve in Euros which make it slightly cheaper to buy its oil requirement.

  17. dodong, you will never run out of things to bellyache about. what’s the point in bitching over taxes imposed and collected through the years? people pay taxes according to specific classification to which they belong. taxes are not donation or give-away to the government. neither are they savings deposit that they can withdraw anytime they want to. hindi yun binabawi. taxes are quid pro quo for the privileges of citizenship or lawful residency.

    btw, there’s no fool-proof economic theory. except for a few immutable principles like the law of supply and demand, or the malthusian principle on population growth, most everything else is trial and error. there is no magic crystal ball or oracle. filipinos must learn to take risk – calculated risk, that is – in order to progress. one cannot go through life being a segurista, unless he wants to be an anachronism or irrelevant to his own time.

  18. Bencard, good dissertation there. I heard the same appeal from the Philippine government, only that it becomes hollow in the light of unabated corruptions from Marcos down to Arroyo defying any accountability. In fact, the Philippines has worsened according to corruption watchdog Transparency International. It is hypocrisy.

    The compelling argument for every Filipino is not to become another waiting victim of failed government programs. You said TRIAL AND ERROR, government officials TRIES to steal and the governed becomes the victim an ERROR.

    We are better than that. We have inalienable rights – life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. That goes for everybody, you know who you are.

  19. d0d0ng: Paying taxes is one of the responsibilities in your adopted land, so be sure to do your share — pay your taxes — so that your country gets funding to provide what you call inalienable rights.

  20. …most everything else is trial and error. – Bencard

    Aren’t you describing the Philippine Legal System?

  21. UP n student on, “so be sure to do your share — pay your taxes”.

    IRS has done an excellent job on that area. Many Filipino nurses can attest to that. Thanks.

  22. Philippine Economy depends on OFW’s and not Foreign Investors. We should listen to our OFW’s and not JFCC. These foreign investors milk the economy during crises by working with political cronies to make business from foreign loans. Talented engineers have left the country.

    Besides being world#2 in Geothermal power capacity, Philippines has more solar energy hours than Germany that has solar energy farms supplying its power grid. Located in the typhoon belt, it can harvest more wind energy than Denmark. Having longer coastlines than Great Britain and Portugal, it can generate more power from tidal energy.

    Philippines can supply Asia’s cheapest electricity and take the lead in clean energy. Something is just terribly wrong.

    Philip Jarina
    Free Continuing Education for Electrical Engineers

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