The little dolphin that could


The Wall Street Journal (which, editorially, has previously been supportive of the President) greets the President’s arrival in New York with a raspberry: see the op-ed piece, Powering Down the Philippine Economy:

Tomorrow in New York, Ms. Arroyo will woo well-heeled potential investors at a $5,000-a-table luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria, where she is expected to give an upbeat presentation on Philippine infrastructure financing and ongoing privatization efforts.

Ms. Arroyo’s boasts ring hollow, however, given her country’s inhospitable climate for foreign investment… Even worse, Ms. Arroyo and her political allies back in Manila don’t seem to care that they are sending signals that would cause any potential investor to cringe.

Take the most recent bungle: the liberalization of the notoriously inefficient Philippine energy sector. In 2001, a newly sworn-in President Arroyo signed legislation calling for at least 70% of the government-owned National Power Corporation, known as Napocor — long one of the country’s worst symbols of inefficiency and corruption — to be privatized. Even though Ms. Arroyo’s administration has dragged its feet in following through with the reforms, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 is working, albeit slowly.

Today, slightly more than 40% of Napocor is privately owned… By year’s end, the reform act’s goal of privatizing at least 70% of Napocor could be realized.

But will Manila allow that to happen? Last December, the Arroyo administration announced that it wanted to amend the reform act by Christmas, to ensure that the government would retain control of at least 50% of Napocor. Hardly for the first time, the government in Manila was reminding foreign investors that the economic goal posts could be moved in the late innings. In the House of Representatives, the antireform legislation’s chief sponsor is the chairman of the energy committee, Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, the president’s son.

When the heads of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce protested the roll-back of Napocor’s privatization in a May 27 letter to Ms. Arroyo, the president’s allies in the senate exploded in nationalistic outrage…

“My goodness, get out of this country if you can’t live with us,” Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile told Mr. D’Aboville, who has lived in the Philippines for 31 years and is married to a Filipina. Added another presidential ally, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, “You may not continue. You do not determine what you can say or not say. I determine.”

Unembarrassed by such a display of legislative intemperance, Ms. Arroyo has brought Sen. Santiago with her to New York, where the president is lobbying the United Nations to give her a seat on the International Court of Justice. Asked by reporters right after the hearing if the senators’ June 6 bullying of the foreign businessman had been inappropriate, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said he didn’t think so. A few days later, Ms. Arroyo — possibly having been informed that several European ambassadors were prepared to file a formal diplomatic protest — came out with a statement thanking foreign investors for being part of her country’s “success.”

Ms. Arroyo has argued that government control of power plants is a more efficient way of keeping electricity prices down than private competitors who will compete in the marketplace — surely a strange argument from a woman who has a doctorate in economics. Making matters worse, her administration is engaged in a separate but equally embarrassing power struggle for control of the board of directors of the Philippines’ largest private electricity distributor, the Manila Electric Co. The company is controlled by the powerful Lopez family, one of the Philippines’ most enduring oligarchies. In addition, the Philippine government holds a 30% stake and is represented on the board.

To be sure, there is a case that could be made that Meralco, which controls some 70% of electricity on the big island of Luzon, is a monopoly that should be subjected to the pressures of real market competition. But the political intensity of the Arroyo administration’s personal attacks on the Lopez family suggests — especially to watching foreigners — that an agenda is at work that goes beyond economics. Specifically, the fight between Ms. Arroyo’s family and the Lopez business empire seems to personify the latest example of feuding family clans that have long been a major source of the Philippines’s economic and political fragility. In the early 1960s, when Ms. Arroyo’s father, Diosdado Macapagal, was president, he also tried to wrest control of Meralco from the Lopez family.

Ms. Arroyo needs to understand that when Manila promises to open up major sectors of the economy to reforms that would foster real competition, those promises should not be broken.

Over at Inquirer Current, I pointed out the ratio of Filipino to American congressmen was 5:1. The Inquirer editorial for today points something out I’d observed in my column yesterday:

Is it wrong to criticize the President for not returning to the country immediately?

To answer the question, we must first respond to the image engineering campaign already underway that seeks to paint the President as taking the extra step, as going out of her way, to oversee recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines. Malacañang has highlighted the fact that she has been conducting videoconferences with the Cabinet and the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). On June 24, the meeting was held at 3 in the morning; the following day, it was held at 1:30 a.m.

Allow us to point out the obvious, which seems to have been buried under the publicity avalanche: While it was very early in the morning here in the Philippines, it was the middle of the day in Washington, D.C. In other words, it was the Cabinet and NDCC officials who went out of their way, to meet the President’s schedule.

We have long noted the President’s extraordinary grasp of detail, and even her many political enemies acknowledge her prodigious capacity for work (in marked contrast to her predecessor), but it seems a cruel joke to force her officials to attend meetings in the wee hours, just so she can be seen to call the shots.

Her main ally in Congress, House Speaker Prospero Nograles, argues that Vice President Noli de Castro was “more than capable” to serve as “caretaker president” (gratuitously adding that this was “precisely why we have him as our vice president”). But this able-caretaker argument runs directly counter to the President’s idea of government-by-video-conference. If Vice President De Castro is in charge, why doesn’t Ms Arroyo allow him to take charge? Her intervention by “modern communication technology” undermines the vice presidency, at the exact time her allies in the administration coalition seek to build up De Castro’s reputation.

More tellingly, her use of “modern communication technology” undermines her own case for sticking to the original schedule. If there is a pressing need for the President to actively coordinate the work of the Cabinet and the NDCC at this time of shock and grief, what is she still doing in the United States?

ph5-062608.jpgLatest figures put death toll from Typhoon ‘Frank’ at 622 with 2.4 million people displaced in 14 regions. And as if things couldn’t get worse, they did: ‘Princess’ dives, retrieval stopped due to chemical shipment. And Sulpicio’s yard yields 7,000 sacks of ‘smuggled’ sugar.

Passenger shipping industry drowns while budget airlines fly high points out, though, that if it had happened in previous years, the casualty list from the capsizing of the Princess of the Stars might have been much higher:

The ill-fated Sulpicio Line ship plying the primary Manila-Cebu route had a capacity of 1,992 passengers, excluding crew members. But when it encountered rough waters during a typhoon and capsized in June 21, it was only carrying over 700 passengers and more than a hundred crew members.

It means the massive 23,824-ton ship was going ahead with an expected business-as-usual day with just about 40 percent load.

Compare that with another ship also owned by Sulpicio Line, the M/V Dona Paz, which sank in 1987 after colliding with a small oil tanker. Its weight was just 2,215-ton, a fraction of M/V Princess of the Stars’.

M/V Dona Paz had a capacity of only 1,518 passengers, but after the tragedy it was found to be carrying more than twice what it was allowed. Investigations following its sinking showed that it was overloaded and up to 4,375 people onboard died. It has gone down in history as the worst maritime disaster during peacetime.

The M/V Dona Paz tragedy, however, occurred during the Christmas holidays, a peak season in the travel industry. M/V Princess of the Stars, on the other hand, was traveling during a traditionally low season…

…Depending on the season and timing of purchase, a round trip plane fare between Manila and Cebu could go as low as P3,000. In the past, round trip boat fares on the same route hovered between P4,000 to P8,000. But even at reduced rates of up to a little over P2,000, the small difference with the cost of flying have enticed some to convert.

The airlines could afford to offer these low fares after they adopted a sophisticated pricing strategy that guided budget carriers in allocating more discounted seats during the lean months of June to October to improve their load factor, or the measure of how full the aircraft is. Thus, even on lean months, Cebu Pacific’s load factor can go as high as 80 percent.

Flying budget airlines is not only more affordable now, it is also more convenient. A Manila-Cebu boat ride, for example, takes almost a day. A plane ride, on the other hand, takes just over an hour…

…According to the Philippine Ports Authority data, in 2005, overall recorded passengers taking sea-based transport grew by only 2.55 percent. It has been downhill since.

In 2006, total sea craft passengers dropped by 8.27 percent. That’s only 42.56 million passengers for the entire year. Data for 2007 is expected to show that passenger counts plunged deeper.

The business decisions of market leader and publicly listed Aboitiz Transport Services in 2007 provided indications on where this industry is headed. The dramatic reduction in their passenger loads cut their revenues up to 30 percent in 2007.

To adapt, they have converted several of their passenger-cargo lines, under the Superferry brand, to accommodate more cargo than passengers.

This means shipping companies such as Aboitiz Transport and Sulpicio lines have joined another competitor – the government-backed roll-on-roll-off (RORO) operations, which resulted in lower operating costs not only for cargo operators but also as another substitute for passengers who still could not afford flying.

Roro is less expensive for those involved in the cargo business because of its multi-port approach. For example, a Roro boat that leaves the Batangas port can pass by various smaller islands, such as Mindoro and a few more islands, which are not traditionally serviced by other big boats because business there used to be not as brisk as, say the likes of Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and Cagayan de Oro, where there are more commercial activities.

Roro, which was launched in 2003, has since led to changes in areas and islands that used to be left behind in terms of economic development. According to Henry Basilio, a transportation export from the University of Asia and the Pacific, cargo traffic for Roro vessels in 2003 was only at 30,000 metric tons. He said this has since increased exponentially to 240,000 metric tons recently.

And the usual gruesome panic: DOH allays fears of fish poisoning. At least here’s some slightly less depressing marine-related news: people have been entranced by the heroic but tragic story of the dolphin that tried to save a fisherman: but both died. See the reactions of Pine for Pine, and view from the sugar island.

The United States gave $100,000 and sent a carrier task force (helicopters from the USS Ronald Reagan are delivering food, water, and generators to Panay; US Navy divers have been helping with efforts at the wreck of the Princess of the Stars); the People’s Republic of China gave $100,000 also, South Korea donated $300,000.

A major fundraising effort’s begun overseas with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent appealing for $8 million for typhoon aid to the Philippines

all these things that i’ve done lists the different ways (direct deposits to bank accounts, credit card and online donations, even donations through SMS) people can make donations to the Philippine National Red Cross.

Individual bloggers have taken to propagating information for those who want to make donations for specific locations. Touched by An Angel has joined an effort to help the children of San Fernando, Sibuyan Island (see Sibuyan mayor cries: We are victims, too). Clothing, books, toys, and food gathered for the kids will be sent through the Red Cross.

Phoenix Portal recounts how a group of animators got together and helped out in relief efforts in Iloilo, with the help of SM Foundation.

Much more needs to be done.

Kalibo residents going hungry, still waiting for relief:

Because of limited supply, the prices of all commodities have gone up. A ganta (2.4 kilos) of commercial rice, which sold at P65 to P70 before the typhoon, now sells at P120 to P150. Fortunately, the National Food Authority loaned the municipal government several sacks of rice. Rebaldo said these have been distributed to the poorest residents of the different barangays. But the supply will not last very long.

“These are all on loan. We don’t have money in the municipal government,” Rebaldo said.

The flashflood also killed most of the livestock of the town. “In one barangay, 200 cows drowned,” the mayor said. Many pigs, chicken and carabaos also died during the typhoon, he said. Water reached a low of 8 feet to a high of 12 feet in the entire town. The waters are gone now but mud is up to one foot high. Kalibo is the catch basin of Aklan. (Aklan means river in English.)

The individual stories are what matter, now, and here they are: Ella’s Virtual Nook has photos of the damage done to New Washington, Aklan, including the wrecking of the blogger’s own home.

In Romblon, gives a thorough account:

Typhoon Frank’s gusty winds and heavy rains where experienced in Tablas island in Romblon Saturday morning. I thought the storm lashed out through the night until I found out that it hasn’t passed by the island yet. The electricity in our shop in Odiongan, Romblon suffered low voltage problems which started last Friday night. It was difficult to acquire some updates in the Internet about Frank’s projected route since power outage is intermittent. Add to that the mobile carrier signal there drops out every time. In a nearby store, I bought some eggs for our breakfast. Mrs. Norie who man the store informed me that there had been a sea mishap happened near Sibuyan Island. Later that morning, I recieved conflicting reports that all the passengers aboard the ship died. Some said there were a handful of survivors. A tidal wave was reported also in Alcantara, Romblon which I assumed it was a storm surge that hit the area.

My companion and I decided we should close the shop for that day. Since the typhoon signal in Romblon had been raised from 2 to 3, it is better that we call it a day-off to us and for our two secretaries. Since it was pouring that time, we decided to bathe ourselves in the rain and traverse the road leading to the famous “Baywalk” in barangay Tabing-Dagat. I managed to fight the freezing temperatures while gusty winds and rain hit me. It took us 15 minutes to reach the area. Upon seeing the area, debris were scattered everywhere. Stalls and cottages were destroyed and big brown waves came rushing into the shore. This could take days to clean up when the storm’s gone. The government spent more than a million pesos to rehabilitate the baywalk area. Good thing the new light posts like that in the Roxas Boulevard in Manila survived the vicous winds. We roamed the area and went back to the shop 30 minutes later.

Around noon, the power went back and I tuned in to the radio for news about the vessel tragedy. It was confirmed, the vessel “Princess of the Stars” of Sulpicio Lines capsized near Sibuyan Island. I was a horrific tragedy and I felt bad learning that there are few passengers survived. Sibuyan Island’s surrounding waters had been always rough even without a storm based from my experiences travelling there before. With that in mind, I could not imagine how big the waves were at that time of the storm. It was unbelievable that the largest ship in the Philippines could capsize like that.

The storm arrived in Romblon around 5:30 pm and brought strong winds and pouring rain that night. I took my digital camera and recorded a video of the storm inside the shop before dark. I hope I could upload it and post it in my blog. The next morning, only a handful of GI sheets, uprooted trees and trash clutter the streets.

In Roxas City, news reaching chemical rhapsody isn’t good,

Right now, my mother has to travel to Roxas City in search of a photo processing shop so she could have the pictures developed, as well as coordinate with DepEd Capiz. She’s been working closely with concerned agencies and they’re putting together a situational report for an upcoming meeting with the President.

My in-laws, however, said the electricity in Roxas City is still too feeble and could only power lights — not enough output yet to power an establishment. I hope the more-established shops there have their own generators. Otherwise my mother would have to go for Iloilo.

…as confirmed by Bloggy Blog: A College Student in Capiz:

Some parts of roxas city, capiz have no power supply because of the damaged hits by typhoon frank last saturday. According to Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council(PDCC) in the Province of Capiz, the number of Barangay affected by the typhoon frank are 47 brgy in roxas city, 5 were died, 5 were also injured, and 6 persons are still missing. Not only roxas city was affected in this typhoon frank but the other places also in western visayas were affected.

In Iloilo, Barangay OFW reprints an email from a nun, Sister Fidelisa Portillo, who recounts the situation at Aklan and then,

But as far as storms go, this is nothing. The wind was not that strong. Iloilo has experienced typhoons far, far worse than this. Which is why it was an utter shock for me when I turned on the radio at 1 pm nga grabe na gali ang situation in the city and Pavia. By 3-4 pm, a lot of calls were coming in asking to be rescued. We were caught flat-footed and we were really not prepared for this. It was each to his own.

Even the radio reporters felt bad. There really was no way to get to those who needed to be rescued. Just listening made you also feel bad. Each town knew they’re on their own. Roads were under water, bridges had collapsed. The city was able to borrow 10 jet skis, some rubber boats and two pump boats. 7 pm pa lang, naguba na ang pump boats.

The family of Mayor Treñas was rescued out of their house at past 10:30 pm. Big boys are not supposed to cry, but several mayors were crying, their voices breaking! Out of helplessness at the overwhelming cries for help nga wala man sila mahimo.

Vivian called the Disaster Coordinating Center to help her sister in Alta Tierra but she was told that there’s nothing more they can do at the moment.

The sugar central in San Enrique had 10 feet high of water, tunaw ang sugar. The NFA warehouse, flooded ang sacks of rice nga bag-o lang na deliver. For the first time ever, would you believe, the road from SM City up to the Marina had waist-high water? A lot of people, among them, one of George’s med reps spent the night at SM City. It became an evacuation site of sorts sang mga surrounding baranggays.

SM opened their food court area and the canopy and stairs to accommodate people. And they had to close the malls yesterday and today. School will resume on Wednesday. Now, there’s cleaning up. Nagakaubos pala diri. The mud can’t be rid of by just hosing it down. Sobra 1 foot ang thickness sang mud.

Worse, some areas will take 4 to 5 days for power to be back. Ang area Jaro up wala pa water coz the water pipes from Maasin are broken. Wala ni rich or poor subong sa areas affected. All of them are buried in muck.

By way of village idiot savant, the testimony and pictures of Bored Blather: mud, mud, everywhere.

And Bits and Pieces of Roxie provides snippets from typhoon-related stories:

*Gigi and her daughter were trying to save their television, when they saw a snake slither through the water. Plok! Down goes the tv under water, and up they run to the second level of their house.

*Nora spent three days on top their roof. She lived near Jaro CPU area. Saw her yesterday, puffy eyed and dead tired. She was able to save three backpacks of belongings and the rest were stuffed in two plastic bags.

From someone, Nostalgia, on an unidentified island:

Typhoon “Frank” hits our island at around 3 p.m., at first it was just signal number 1, but eventually turned into number 3.Apprehensions flood my mind as the storm brought down heavy downpours and very strong winds. We were covering the windows with heavy blankets just to fend off splashes of water and laid out on the floor rags and old clothes to absorb the rainwater that has finally seeped in.At around 7 p.m. the wind grew stronger and trashings and poundings grew louder and louder. Our house being the tallest in the neighborhood almost had all the beatings of the storm. It lasted until the wee hours of the morning, the longest that I’ve witnessed so far. By the morning, the intensity of the damage spread before our eyes. Whew!

And from a foreign tourist, in Adventures in Asia 2008, tracing their journey from Camiguin to Manila to Taiwan:

The night before we were due to leave for the mainland all the ferries had been cancelled and the part of the beach that wasn’t already under water was constantly beaten by frothing waves. Amazingly, the wind had eased by morning and we felt lucky that we wouldn’t be missing any of our upcoming flights. At the airport, on our way from Cagayan to Manila, I made the mistake of thinking that we had a good chance of experiencing our first on-time departure with Cebu Pacific Air. 7 hours later, freezing from the powerful A/C and braindead from watching the same five horrible commercials on loop in the departure hall (literally a big room with nothing but chairs and said crappy TV) the loudspeaker announced that all passengers should go through security and get ready to board. As if we hadn’t already been ready and waiting for half the day!

The Manila that we landed in was completely different from the sunny place we had left about a month earlier. Palmtrees looked like they would snap in half from the gale force winds and it was difficult to find shelter from the downpour. During the cab ride to our hostel we were in the midst of scenes I’ve only seen on the news before – people wading in knee-deep water surrounded by cars that should have been rowed rather than driven down the street. The disappointment of our flight to Taiwan having been moved forward by a day so as to avoid Frank, who was supposed to have been wreaking havoc in Taipei around the time we were due to land, was tempered by our discovery of Manila’s shopping malls. We were luckier than many people in that the main damage caused by Frank was to our bank accounts!

And it’s inevitable paranormal concerns have been raised, see sweet n sour and the more elaborate theory of Ang Umalohokan on “The Romblon Triangle”:

A lot of folklore surrounds the story behind the Romblon Triangle, from mermaids to cursed seas. Even galleon crews plying the Sibuyan Sea as they follow the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade route are enchanted by the waters of the area. Everytime a galleon enters the waters, special prayers and offerings are performed to appease the spirits haunting the area.

But one well-known legend behind the countless of maritime disasters in Romblon was the legend of a certain Lolo Amang. Lolo Amang is said to be the Flying Dutchman of Romblon, a local version of the famous Cape of Good Hope ghost ship. Lolo Amang is said to frequent the waters of the province aboard a huge golden boat at night. His boat is so beautiful and shiny that seafarers can see it even a mile away. Once lured by the light of his golden boat, eyewitness claim to see a huge party aboard the ship with fair-skinned women, music and food. One eyewitness of the M/V Don Juan tragedy reported seeing Lolo Amang’s ship before it collided with M/V Tacloban. The captain tried to avoid the ghost ship but ended up colliding with the ill-fated cargo vessel.

Lolo Amang is so well known in Romblon that some of his believers even collected taxes from unsuspecting residents. My great-grandfather who was the police chief of Banton Island in Romblon reportedly investigated this scheme and found out that some albularios or quack doctors are taking advantage of the Lolo Amang myth. When interviewed, these herbalists claim that Lolo Amang resides in a secret lair in a certain Barangay Cayatong in Looc or Ferrol town in Tablas Island. Up to this day, such place in Tablas is still shrouded in mystery, with reports of mysterious ships being sighted and late night parties in the middle of coconut groves were heard of.

In the end, there is not concrete evidence to prove the Lolo Amang myth. It could’ve been invited by the crews of the sunken vessels themselves to escape liabilities. It could also be a deliberate hoax to instill panic and fear among the islanders of the archipelago. It is only a matter of circumstances that made the waters of Romblon famous in the history of maritime disasters.

We keep hearing that the sinking of the Dona Paz was the “worst peacetime maritime disaster in history.” So what was the worst wartime maritime disaster? The sinking of the “Strength Through Joy” ocean liner Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945.

Also, here’s another thing to worry about: RP faces corn shortage: Official blames high prices of fertilizers for crisis.

In a consultative meeting Thursday on the commercialization of organic and microbial fertilizers, Dennis Araullo, the head of GMA (Ginintuang Masaganang Ani) Corn Program, said the high prices of inorganic fertilizers are forcing many farmers not to plant corn, or cut their planting of the crop by half. Corn in the Philippines is largely grown for animal feeds.

If the national production of corn does not meet the 7.9-million metric ton target for this year, the country may have to import the grain. This option poses problems, since corn is in short supply worldwide because it is a major biofuel crop…

…The Department of Agriculture has declared a no-corn importation policy for this year, even if about 120,000 metric tons of corn were imported in 2008.

Araullo said a corn shortage will badly hit the domestic livestock and poultry industry, possibly forcing the closure of many firms in that industry.

If that is not enough, people who eat white corn in place of rice will also be affected, and might switch back to eating rice. Based on estimates of local food experts, up to 15 million Filipinos are eating white corn instead of white rice.

Filed away for future reference department: Beyond brain drain: Human capital increasingly votes with its feet in The Economist. Link to Tourism stakeholders: No other way but to train people to replace those who go abroad and New hires in Metro Manila firms replaced those workers who exited from The Business Mirror.

Headaches for America’s allies: In South Korea, US Compromise on Beef Fails to Dent Korean Protest; in India, Nuclear Heat in India. In Japan, note Sino-Japanese oil exploration deal in Breathing Room for Japan’s Fukuda.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

247 thoughts on “The little dolphin that could

  1. @ cvj,,

    To my mind, the socio-politcal ills in our society has become a vicious circle. (I mentioned this in an earlier comment above).

    Unless a positive feedback is introduced by say, globalization or constitutional change, this cycle would be perpetuated and conditions may degenerate.

  2. Psimeon, referring to your comment (at June 29th, 2008 at 10:50 am) identifying a vicious cycle, i agree but don’t you also see that the underlying constant in all the above that you mentioned over the decades is the dominance of the Oligarchs, i.e. concentration of economic resources and political power among few families? We’ve been through dictatorship, democracy, privatization, liberalization and all that, all the while the concentration of wealth has remained with a few people. Why not address that issue for a change? Isn’t that how our more successful neighbors did it (whether communist or capitalist)?

  3. It is simply amazing that in the midst of “Sic Semper Globalization” most people are clueless to the root cause of the crisis ongoing. It was the 1994 Tequila Crisis in Mexico that saw the first most serious crack in the Washington Consensus and the Argentinian Crisis simply buried it in 2001.

    Then we had 9/11 and bursting of the internet bubble then the downturn in the world economy followed by the massive pump priming by the G-7 economies led by Greenspan and the new bubbles in housing and the emergence of new terms that everyone uses today.

    Sub Prime, SIV’s, CDO’s. So the U.S. is once again fighting deflation while she creates inflation all over the world.

    They said that the emerging markets would decouple from the G-7 economies. Yet stock markets (using the definition of bear markets when markets go down by at least 20% a given year) all over the planet are tanking at the same time.

    So oil is now getting tougher to recover and the dollar is being devalued.
    When FDR did it in 1933 not much happened except it almost bankrupted the Bank of England.

    When Nixon did it again in 1972 the Japs and Germans did not complain.
    When Reagan did it in 1985 not so much reaction. Marcos lost his job though.

    Then we have the same thing happening today. But the new guys on the block -China, India, Brazil, Russia and the GCC’s countries have other things on their mind.

    The Japs and the Germans then needed the U.S. mantle of military protection versus the Commies.

    But today there are no commies left.

    The U.S. with their die hard allies are trying to raise a new bogeyman – The Islamic Fundamentalist.

    But by coincidence most of these crazies are being bred in the countries that are closest to the U.S.- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan.

    Unfortunately for the U.S. their Nazi like Shah in Iran was tossed out by a bunch of Muslim clerics. The Shah liked the name Iran better than Persia because it is closer to Aryan.

    So now we have to market the new enemy of democracy after communism the Islamofacism of Bin Laden.

    The U.S. imports 75% of its oil requirements. Of that over 30% is from the M.E. The price of West Texas Intermediate is hitting $140+. Conventional Easy oil from the U.S. land mass is seriously depleted.

    The U.S. does not need to invade Canada, Mexico and Venezuela which make up the largest bulk of their oil imports outside the M.E.

    “If we continue on our current course – leaving fate to the markets, and leaving governments to compete with each other over scarce oil and food – global growth will slow under the pressures of resource constraints. But if the world cooperates on the research, development, demonstration, and diffusion of resource-saving technologies and renewable energy sources, we will be able to continue to achieve rapid economic progress.” Jeffrey Sachs

    “It is to Spence’s credit that the report manages to avoid both market fundamentalism and institutional fundamentalism. Rather than offering facile answers such as “just let markets work” or “just get governance right,” it rightly emphasizes that each country must devise its own mix of remedies. Foreign economists and aid agencies can supply some of the ingredients, but only the country itself can provide the recipe.”……

    “If there is a new Washington consensus, it is that the rulebook must be written at home, not in Washington. And that is real progress.” Dani Rodrick

    Economics have always been trumped by politics. It has always been
    “it is the politics stupid” There is no such thing as a global republic. All politics are national in scope.

  4. Cath pls wag ka mapikon sa apples and oranges ko ng doctor: MD vis-a-vis PHD/DBA.

    I know when a person is an economist or a finance person or merely a web browser linking different articles to show they understand what they are talking about.

    The wannabes are those who merely copy and paste. Ask them to elaborate and they will be linking you with several articles which are not relevant to each other.

  5. Ca t (at 6:19 am), i don’t see how you can use that as an argument against land reform in South Korea since the beneficiary is the US Base.

    Because if you are talking about land reform, you know that there should be a provision for land tenure security?

  6. Ok Cat

    I know you are not bookish (what we call ourprofessors then if they just read their powerpoint presentations) pag dating sa Q and A ibabalik sa iyo ang tanong or would ask others to answer.

    I was told never to ask a woman her age,but I know you have been there long enough to give us practical examples.

    But you told us once it is ok if we give you a heads up on new stuff. I guess we don’t have to.

    To be credible in a forum, one has to impress that she/he is an authority of what she’s talking about. I do not participate in topics that I know nothing about.

    Just like in the discussion of legal issues where one has to quote references and proper terms, I find it necessary to describe a phenomenon using the proper terminology.

    I do not care if someone gives me a heads up about some information that I may not be aware of.


    I may have set poor as examples, I might have been generalizing but if you ever tell me that it is not happening ,then I would also say BULLSHIT!!!

    I have always admired your genuine and sincere concern for the poor but I do not admire your genuine and sincere hatred for the rich.

    what happened to you being a humanist?

    You make me laugh. Isn’t it obvious? I’m a humanist.

    kailan pa hindi naging tao ang mayaman.

    you hate spanish bred elites, pero sabi mo parents mo from ispayn

  7. Kevin Garnett,

    hope this will encourage you – blaming the rich will not move a poor guy an inch towards financial independence.

    i grew up poor. sa awa ng diyos, nasa lower upper middle class na ako (still striving to go up a notch).

    i got to where i am now without blaming the rich.

    ito an epekto ng too much fixation on who’s sitting in malacañang – the truth that financial independence is a personal responsibility is eclipsed

  8. KG,

    If you don’t mind I’d like to point out the obvious. Elite, people in power, the rich are always more responsible than the less fortunate. Even in a family, it is the capable sibling, the father, the mother, the more mature who are responsible. In our case, na brainwash na ata ang Pinoy, brainwashed to blame themselves, especially if they are less fortunate, when something goes wrong.

    I never said my parents were from Spain. Where did you get that? Maybe I was merely being sarcastic.

  9. I don’t think I am pro-poor or anti-elite. I just find the rationale they spread through media ridiculous. Bilbao spain, as in like the Ayalas… yes, that was sarcasm. My family name is indigenous. It is a Kastila word but we are the only ones in the entire world that have it for a surname.

  10. “i got to where i am now without blaming the rich.”

    Scalia, why does it always have to be personal. My blaming the rich is not so much that I have been victimized. I didn’t have to be though I was. I could’ve simply played along, make pasip-sip. It was easy. Somehow though, I always keep falling back on my upbringing and my upbringing puts social climbing and sycophantic behavior as one of the evils of society. I am not kidding.

    Nothing personal. But compare how we put the burden in this country on the poor instead of those n power. Only media make an effort to demand accountability to people in power. The masses do not really blame the politicians or the businessmen, In fact, their one of the characteristic that distinguishes our masses from those in other countries is our masses’ penchant for begging, i.e. those real live human drama in front of the camera and when the mic s pointed to them you keep seeing on TV.

  11. Ca t (at 3:49 pm), that would mean that what you’re criticizing is the treatment of the 200 South Korean farmer-beneficiaries, which is valid. However that cannot be an argument against land reform per se since that would be like the using the issue raised by the Sumilao farmers as an argument against land reform.

  12. Part Three on the Series on Food –Hungry for Answers:

    Jun 30, 2008 04:30 AM Bill Schiller
    Asia Bureau
    MANILA–Amid the sprawl and stench of this city’s main dump – its air thick with charcoal and fleas – Redentor Escarcha is beaming.

    The sinewy 26-year-old, his skin glistening with sweat, is one of thousands who come here every day to mine the Philippines’ capital’s garbage for recyclables: cans, cardboard, copper cables, anything of value.

    It’s only 11 a.m. but Escarcha knows that what he has collected in his sack so far is worth more than 200 pesos (about $4.50). Most days this father of four earns about $3.

    He knows the precise value of everything here – and he should. Escarcha is a veteran who has worked this dump for 19 years, ever since he was 7 years old.

    He was born here.

    These are the poorest of the poor,” says Jane Walker, who heads a non-governmental organization working in the community.

    “When the price of food rises, this is where it’s felt first.”

    In the Philippines the impact of recent increases in the price of food has been profound: 35 million of its 88 million citizens are as poor as the people of Smokey Mountain, surviving on less than $2 per day.

    Six months ago, a kilogram of rice in Manila cost just 18 Filipino pesos (about 41 cents).

    Today, international rice shortages have driven that price to 34 pesos per kilo (76 cents).

    For Escarcha and his wife, Christina, that near doubling in price means even greater hardship and tougher choices.

    As rice is the key staple of the Filipino diet, says Christina, no Filipino family can do without it, “and that means having a little less money to buy milk for my children,” she says.

    ROBERT ZIEGLER, executive director of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) warned the world as early as June 9, 2005, in a speech in Ottawa to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

    He had only been director a few months when he decided to air his concerns for the first time before a valued donor.

    CIDA contributes about $1.5 million per year to IRRI.

    Zeigler told CIDA that supply and demand in rice were growing dangerously out of sync, and it was “pretty clear the handwriting was on the wall.”

    “I said I was concerned about the future of rice supplies and what it might mean to political stability,” the IRRI director says, sitting in his offices in Los Banos, about 60 kilometres south of Manila. “People looked at me like I was from another planet.”

    BUT HERE in intensely Catholic Philippines, there’s another wrinkle to the story: the population explosion is taxing the government’s ability to respond to the crisis.

    “No one seems to want to talk about it,” Zeigler says.

    The one exception may be Congressman Salvador “Sonny” Escudero, a two-time agriculture minister. He agrees that there are just too many mouths to feed with too little food and that the time for a family planning and birth control policy is now.

    “When I was a kid growing up, Thailand and the Philippines both had populations of 53 million,” the congressman says. “Today Thailand has 62 million people. We have 88 million.”
    But because of the influence of the Catholic Church, birth control and family planning remain touchy subjects – and on the street, they are foreign concepts.

    In the house Redentor and Christina Escarcha call “home,” where 15 people live, there will soon be 18. Three of the female occupants are pregnant.

    As an emergency stopgap measure, the Philippines’ government has been making subsidized rice available at government warehouses at 18.5 cents per kilogram.

    But it costs time and money to get to the warehouses, and people in Smokey Mountain can ill afford either.
    “I think the government should do something to lower the price of rice in the shops,” says Escarcha.
    His wife Christina doesn’t ask for much.
    “If we eat every day,” she says, “I’m happy.”

    For the whole articles and for the other parts of the series:

  13. “…all the while the concentration of wealth has remained with a few people. Why not address that issue for a change? Isn’t that how our more successful neighbors did it (whether communist or capitalist)?” -cvj

    FYI, our more successful Asian neighbors have their share of very wealthy and politically connected moguls. In South Korea, family-run chaebols dominate business. In Japan, Abe and his LDP cohorts are considered oligarchs. And Thaksin of Thailand.

    And who would not remember the robber-barons who built America’s industrial might?.

  14. B,

    “Scalia, why does it always have to be personal.”

    to cite a concrete example.

    “My blaming the rich is not so much that I have been victimized.”

    don’t worry, i didn’t see it that way.

    “I didn’t have to be though I was. I could’ve simply played along, make pasip-sip. It was easy. Somehow though, I always keep falling back on my upbringing and my upbringing puts social climbing and sycophantic behavior as one of the evils of society. I am not kidding.”


    “Nothing personal. But compare how we put the burden in this country on the poor instead of those n power.”

    i would be ‘putting the burden’ on the poor, not in the sense of blaming them, but in the sense of the poor holding the key, because thats the only way for the country to move forward – the poor helping themselves to be part of the middle class, and not wait for doles outs and/or ‘enablements’ from the rich. in short, a proactive self-reliant poor, and not a magnanimous rich, is the key to progress

    “Only media make an effort to demand accountability to people in power.”

    its funny that media don’t demand that from themselves

    “The masses do not really blame the politicians or the businessmen,”

    only the enlightened masses don’t blame, enlightened masses like those who don’t vote for the likes of Binay

    “In fact, their one of the characteristic that distinguishes our masses from those in other countries is our masses’ penchant for begging, i.e. those real live human drama in front of the camera and when the mic s pointed to them you keep seeing on TV.”


  15. PSimeon (at 9:15 pm), as i mentioned in this blog entry far as inequality as a hindrance to GDP growth is concerned, what matters is land inequality:

    Alesina and Rodrik found a significant negative effect of the Gini coefficient of the distribution of income on the growth rate. But they also found that this effect becomes insignificant when the Gini coefficient of the distribution of land ownership is also included as an explanatory variable. In other words, inequality in the ownership of land not only is more important for explaining growth than inequality in the distribution of income [emphasis mine], it also turns the distribution income into an inconsequential factor. This finding has been corroborated by Deininger and Squire” – Elhann Helpman, The Mystery of Economic Growth

    The above findings demonstrate that land inequality is a hindrance to economic growth which accounts for my emphasis on land reform.

  16. cvj,

    basing from all the info you provided in the past, land reform in South Korea was only useful to the point that it provided ‘investible’ capital. the immediate cause of that country’s progress was the chaebols and the other exporters.

  17. cvj: there are many Filipinos who, like you, believe in the importance of land reform, but why can you folks not get your act together? Filipinos in Pinas have gotten themselves in power espousing land reform, then they turn balimbing. Evidence — Satur. Filipinos already in power who can get land reform accelerated, but Satur Ocampo votes against.

    Is it possible there are lots of important sub-issues to the “land reform” grand issue? And is it possible the human-factor — the winners who are still not winners are already tripping all over themselves on how to divide the spoils? Does Satur want something that the farmers of Laguna may not?

    Or maybe, just maybe, the sloganeers still have not gotten past the slogans and really do not know how to achieve economic progress.

  18. “..demonstrate that land inequality is a hindrance to economic growth.”

    You meant “landed” oligarchs who only derive income from property rents.

    I did also mention in the past that every country needs the functioning capitalists/oligarchs who actually manage enterprises, similar to South Korea’s chaebols and Japan’s zaibatsus, which are both family-run.

  19. to cvj: I just saw an article that Satur voted against the latest bill for land reform because SATUR WANTS COLLECTIVIZATION — the state owns the land and to end the practice of son (or daughter) inheriting the farmland that his father worked on.

    You agree with Satur, do you not?

  20. Inheritance (and collaterilization for loans) is under the purview of titles and property rights.

    State owns the land means son or daughter does not inherit the farmland that his father worked on. Also that the farmer can not collateralize the farmland he is working on. [It makes me wonder how Satur got elected.]

  21. PSImeon, you’re right on that and if you read my past comments, i think you’ll see that we’re more or less in sync as far as the need for ‘functioning capitalist/oligarchs are concerned’:

    Here’s hvrds’ explanation…

    Anthony (at 11:21 pm), that’s the all important first step which we haven’t taken. The reality is that in order to industrialize, economic concentration [which is by definition anti-egalitarian] is needed to achieve economies of scale and in order to be able to compete in the world market. Paradoxically, embarking on home grown industrialization becomes more feasible in a society where the distribution of income is more equal. Economist Alice Amsden observed that income equality in the nonmanufacturing sector tends to characterize latecomer countries where leading enterprises are nationally owned. Specific to South Korea, she mentioned that:

    Only Korea, which started from a highly egalitarian base after land reform and civil war, could indulge in such antiegalitarian policies. – Alice H. Amsden, The Rise of ‘The Rest’: Challenges to the West From Late-Industrializing Economies

    In short, land reform leads to more equality, which in turn gives us room to pursue the anti-egalitarian policies needed for home-grown industrialization.

  22. to PSimeon: I think either hvrds or cvj has suggested this before as an actionable-proposal, but let me put it in my own words. USER FEES ON LAND.

    USER FEES should be reviewed again for equality and used more extensively in Pinas. VAT, of course, is “… the more you spend, the more you pay in taxes”. And INCOME TAX is where the State gets a percent of a person’s income. Rent, because it is part of income, also gets taxed.

    USER-FEE is where a person has to provide the state a yearly amount because a person owns (and therefore controls the use of) a parcel of land. If Successful-Benign0 wants to buy 10-thousand hectares of hilly “useless” land and use is as a nature-conservation center ( no farming, no hunting, no logging). benign0 may allow tours (which generates income), or benign0 may declare “no trespassing, no tourists, no visitors, no Afghanis, no Chinese, no Americans, no Cebuanos”. The land becomes totally idle (but “for the greater good” because of the link between humans and birds, animals, plants). There is full respect of the Torrens title and Property Rights. USER-FEE is a disincentive-fee against IDLE LAND by requiring the now-rich-benign0 to pay a per-hectare yearly-fee to the state.

    User-fee is also sometimes called community land rent.

    Studies of the 700 cities that are collecting community land rent show that it leads to affordable housing, and more job creation. Community land rent takes away the profit from holding urban land out of use for speculation. As a result, there is an incentive to put vacant or underutilized land into better use.

  23. “only media make an effort to demand accountability to people in power.” brianB

    what say you about the court’s dismissal off the media’s complaint in connection with the “arrest” of its members in connection with their “defiant and arrogant” behavior in the manila pen caper?

    maybe, mlq3 will make a thread on the subject but, for now, the silence is deafening, as with the dismissal of trillianes’ petition to be allowed to act as a senator.

  24. UPn, i’m not in favor Collectivization. It’s almost as bad as Corporate farming. In Vietnam, after their first land reform in 1954 to 1956, where land was distributed to the peasants, the Communist Party implemented collectivization. After thirty years, because of falling production and lack of support from the peasants, the Communist Party had to give up and revert to household/family-based farms in 1987 which was widely considered to be Vietnam’s 2nd land reform. Refer to my comment above (at June 29th, 2008, 6:21 pm).

  25. on the dismissal of trillanes’ petition to be allowed to act as a senator.

    So does this mean that Trillanes can not act as a senator? Does this mean that he can, or does it mean that he can not, serve his constituency?

    Would you think he will resign so that another person can then do — act as senator — what he cannot do?

    [But if I were Trillanes, I won’t resign.]

  26. Thanks UP n

    Or we could re-configure the present real estate tax laws so that idle lands would be slapped a higher rate. In that case, owners not wanting to pay a bigger “ameliar” would do something about it.

    It gives additional revenues to the government and make some idle lands active, but it still doesn’t solve cvj’s issue of land equality.

  27. cvj: thanks for quick response.

    I believe that “household/family based farming” is the respect for differences in productivity. If farmer-benign0 produces more bushels-of-corn than farmer-Leytenian, then farmer-benign0 gets more yuans so benign0 can provide a better breakfast for his family.

    Does “household/family based farming” recognize property rights so that the son or daughter inherits the farmland that his/her father owned and was working on?

  28. As to State ownership of land, that sounds ok. Here in Singapore, at the start, the State owned most of the land. (I think it still does.) The problem we have right now is that our local rich folk prefer to speculate in land rather than in productive industry so State ownership can be good to discourage this practice. My preference is for limiting land ownership to actually occupied residences.

  29. PSimeon: USER-fee is an action-item — mlq3 had written a similar thought-process on how the powers of England’s landed oligarchy got nulled where first the State/citizenry/population/Parliament waited for death, then they slapped huge inheritance-taxes on the land.

    I don’t know if cvj’s acceptable time-table and whether his action-item is “confiscate now”, “confiscate-after-death”, or ?????.

  30. USER-FEE is based on the the citizenry owning the land. [The State will not slap a User-Fee on itself and require itself to pay itself (unless it is making preparations to retire 20 or 30 years from now 😉 )]

  31. household/family based farming IS corporate farming. The owner of the land is the state; the farmers are employees (and the party-leaders are the cacique/bosses).

  32. “The problem we have right now is that our local rich folk prefer to speculate in land…” – cvj

    As Mikel says “Malas natin” our family ancestors were not as good visionaries as say the folks of the Ayalas, Madrigals, etc.

    But there’s time. There’s still plenty of land in Palawan, etc.

  33. UPn, throughout Vietnam’s experiment with collectivization, the peasants were allowed a few hundred square meters of land to farm on their own. What they found out that the land that was farmed by the household was about three times more productive than collectively farmed land.

    On inheriting the land in Vietnam, as i mentioned above (at June 29th, 2008 at 6:21 pm), households do not own the land but are allowed to use it. Here’s how the Vietnam 1987 land law was implemented. I highlighted in bold the passage that may be relevant to your question:

    The 1987 land law, resolution 10, and subsequent national guidelines basically allowed each subdistrict, with some oversight from disrict and provincial offices, to decide how to allocate land equitably. Frequently, the actual division of land occured within each village or even neighborhood. Broadly speaking, most subdistricts, at least in the Red River delta, established two, three, sometimes four ‘land funds’. The largest, encompassing about 70-90 percent of the agricultural (and, when relevant, acquacultural) area, was divided equally among ‘qualified’ people. (Basically, any resident who wanted to farm qualified, though the amount of land allocated usually varied by age. Who counted as a resident was sometimes a highly contentious matter.)

    To further ensure equality, the fields each household received were of different grades, from the best to worst land. Modest concessions, such as more of the best fields, often went to war invalids and families of soldiers killed in battle. The second ‘fund’ had land (and often fish ponds) for one or two purposes. Some places reserved a portion for allocation later as the population grew. The rest they put out for tender. Other places tendered all of it. The highest bidders used those areas for a year or two. The amount they paid was supposed to finance the remaining cooperative activities and such community services as health care and senior citizen programs. Often, a third fund included the household plots families had used during collectivization. Some places also had a fund for orchards or other areas designated for specific purposes. – Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet, The Power of Everyday Politics: How Vietnamese Peasants Transformed National Policy

    So the answer is that it depends on the particular locality. Some allocated for population growth while others did not.

  34. so Satur wants State-owned farms … and I believe that Satur sees himself (and his group of friends and kindreds in thinking) not as the farmers but as the farm caciques.

  35. PSImeon, i prefer to leave the forests of Palawan as part of our natural heritage. I think the whole mindset of getting wealthy from land, instead of producing actual things, is part of the problem, which is why i said we should discourage such behavior. I’d say na malas natin because the Ayalas and Madrigals don’t venture more into industrial development and stick to largely to land and property development, although as far as i know, the Ayala’s do have their Integrated Microelectronics (IMI).

  36. UPn (at at 1:20 am), i don’t agree that allocating land to household farms is equivalent to having corporate farms (run by the State) since the whole process of farming (from planting, tending through harvesting) is under the management of the individual household, and not the State. About the only principal activity left to be managed collectively outside the household is maintaining irrigation.

    By contrast, in a corporate setting, it’s the corporation that manages this process and allocates work to the employees in specialized teams. In this setup, the ownership and management of the process is on the Corporation, and its accountability is to its stockholders, and not the household. That’s why i believe the corporate arrangement has more similarities with Collective farming. You have more in common ground with Satur than you realize.

  37. Oh, cvj…. if you only know how much of my soul you tear into when you say that I have a lot of common ground with Satur. The abuse 👿 from the name-calling, how can you, cvj of LaSalle be so callous because it hurts, it hurts, it truly truly hurts. 😛

    Okay… you actually make a good point about work-allocation and efficiencies of corporate-versus State. Noted.

  38. and I believe no matter what happens with land reform, Satur will prefer working the hallways of congress (or parliament) as opposed to toiling in a farm. [ I think he’ll want to be Ambassador to China or Venezuela, too… but I have no basis other than we are in year 2008 for saying these things.]

  39. Thanks UPn. The comparison with Satur was not meant to be a pejorative. I do believe that the Large Corporation (in where i’ve worked for almost twenty years) and the Communist State have a lot in common. The economist Joseph Schumpeter pointed that out more than fifty years ago.

  40. Minor clarification…. Satur has always been bright enough not to invoke images of COMMUNISM so he would not have mentioned collectivization. I think Satur does want the State to own the farmland. Satur objected to the last Pinas bill because the bill would have given title to the newly-land reformed lands to the farmers.

    I prefer the title be given to the farmers (so the farmers can collateralize the land, plus children can inherit). Farmers-with-titles will mean that malacanang-resident (or one of his/her favorite sons or uncles or political allies) does not become the Executive or the GrandBenefactor over the State-Owned-Farmland.

    It worries me, though, that the schema gives the incumbent a huge advantage with regards the farm-vote. Just imagine the voting patterns !!!

    Do the Vietnam party bosses say “…. for the greater good” or do they say “…for the survival of the party”, as reason for State-owning-the-farmlands?

  41. BrainB

    pardon my memory pero here is another one.

    you have also mentioned na napagkakamalan ka koreano o intsik nung napaaway ka sa taxi driver

    di ko na hahanapin kung saan.On e-espayne, I had the feeling that you were being sarcastic that is why i retained the wrong spelling of spain.

    Sabi na nga ba never judge a person based on his comments, pero minsan mahirap eh.Tulad ni benigs di mo malaman kung ganun talaga sya o gusto lang nya palabasin na ganun.


    Justice Scalia,

    Mas na inspire pa ako sa nagyari sa yo dahil ganyan din si erpat.Mas na inspire pa ako,kesa sa depressing episode na napanood ko nung linggo sa rated K sa nag tnt at di nakapunta sa libing ng asawa dahil baka mabulilyaso ang greencard.

    madami kami kamag anak sa quezon na mahirap pa din ngayon; iba nga dating npa ,kaya nga di nakauwi si erpat ng 30 years dahil militar sya.
    pero walang inggitan tulongan na lang sa mga nakaangat na kamag anak,yung tito ko myaman na ngayon dahil nagconvert sya sa iglesia at sya nagconstruct ng mga bagong sambahan at kinuha nyang mga workers yung mga kamag anak.Yung iba naman ginamit ang connection ni erpat nuon para lang maging seaman o maging enlisted sa navy,madaming nagalit dahil di lahat sila napagbigyan pero tampong kulangot lang.

    ay buhay, pasensya na justice ,nakwento ko pa buhay ng mga kamag anak ko sa yo..

    Kevin Garnett,second time you called me that pero ok lang mvp naman.
    sige justice anthony scalia

  42. KG,

    Yep, you’re right but my parents are not from Bilbao (though I think it is funny how kastilas distinguish themselves as from Bilbao and not Madrid), though I am very mixed… as it were.

  43. KG,

    “Kevin Garnett,second time you called me that pero ok lang mvp naman.
    sige justice anthony scalia”

    champion pa! lakers go home!

  44. Bencard said:

    “rodolfo biazon is doing a myanmar. wants to reject uss ronald reagan’s help in the romblon search and rescue operations because it has nuclear weapons. talk about grandstanding of the worst kind (even his own son disputes him).”

    Allow me to react…

    Media reporters asked for my comment regarding criticisms against the deployment of USS Ronald Reagan to help in the rescue and relief efforts for the MV Princess of the Stars tragedy.

    My comment was that “we should welcome all available help, including those from the US Navy. Aside from wartime operational capability, they also have peacetime operations capability. It is no different from the Philippine Navy conducting rescue and relief operations during disasters.”

    I wasn’t told that it was my father who had issued critical statements. Not that it would have changed my position if I knew it was him. But I would have made a more qualified answer in relation to what he said specifically.

    It is erroneous to think that he was doing a Myanmar. One has to listen to what he said specifically than just have a knee jerk reaction to what is reported in the media.

    What many people failed to appreciate, which may be due to how his statements were reported, was that he was not rejecting any help from the Americans. When he questioned the sending of the USS Reagan, he followed it up with the statement that the US should have sent their salvage ships. He meant naval assets that are specialized for recovery of sunken vessels.

    One colleague of mine commented that “Senator Biazon should have checked his facts. A simple search in Google would show that USS Reagan not only has F-18s but helicopters and other assets as well. He should stop playing admiral and just keep quiet.”

    Obviously, that reaction was made without really listening to what that congressperson was reacting to. Senator Biazon retired after 36 years in the military as a FOur Star General and AFP Chief of Staff. he studied Amphibious Warfare in the UNited States and participated in numerous joint exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines. If there is anyone who knows what he is talking about with regard to the military, it is Senator Biazon, not that congressperson.

    Senator Biazon knows that the US navy has other assets that would be of greater help to the rescue and relief efforts. That was his point.

    Having said that, I still maintain that any form of help should be welcomed.

    One of the most common faults of many Filipinos is to react without listening first or verifying what they are supposed to be reacting to.

  45. thanks, rep. biazon for your reaction. correct me if i’m wrong but i thought the basis of your dad’s objection was the supposed constitutional ban on the presence of nuclear weapon in philippine territory, wasn’t it? i raised the point that the constitutional prohibition is qualified by the phrase “consistent with the national interest”. the question then is: is coming to render aid after a deadly tragedy consistent with the national interest? i see you answered this in the affirmative. thanks again.

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