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Among Ed falls for it
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on July 18, 2009 69 Comments 14 min read
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And so it came to pass: SC approves recount for Pampanga governorship. Whether or not the high court’s decision to reverse it’s earlier status  quo ante order reflects the dynamics of the new majority, the reality on the ground is that Panlilio’s administration will now be even more bogged down in the recount case, which leaves his many provincial enemies free to plot his downfall.

But then as today’s headline puts it, Gov.-priest ready to leave Church: Group backing Panlilio for president launched Sat. For some time now I’ve been skeptical of plans for Panlilio to run for the presidency. This is utter folly and reflects poor political judgment. In my July 11 Free Press commentary, A perfect plan, I argued that Governor Panlilio, who announced he was prepared to challenge her, in reaction to rumors the President was contemplating a run for the House in 2010, was falling into a trap. If the President ran for the House, it would displace her son; he would have to seek another post; that post, it seems, would be the governorship; but if Panlilio challenged the President by contesting her run for the House, not only would Panlilio lose to her, but he’d also relinquish the governorship to -who else- the President’s son, who would run as the unifying candidate for the Pineda-Lapid factions in the province.

A win-win for the Macapagal-Arroyo-Pineda-Lapid coalition, whichever way you put it.

As Mon Casiple recently put it,

The 2007 elections have brought us some surprises. The victory of Among Ed Panlilio in Pampanga, the reelection of Grace Padaca in Isabela, and the election to the Senate of military rebel Antonio Trillanes are often cited as harbinger of a new trend of reform voters (translate that to anti-trapo voters).

There are indications that this trend will be a factor in the 2010 presidential elections. I don’t think however that this has grown to a point where it can be decisive in electing a presidential candidate. The reason is that it is still on a spontaneous, nebulous awareness stage and not yet reflected as a purposeful, organized movement.

The appearance of new faces based on this, while providing fresh alternatives to jaded voters, will – on the short run – confuse, divide, and ultimately dissipate the impact of this reform factor. There simply are too many candidates, with too few votes, to win. It will also matter that the major presidential candidates will exert their own efforts to woo reform voters.

It is an irony that Prof. David’s tack to run for a congressional seat – even if portrayed as a Don Quixote initiative – may have more chances of winning (sans electoral fraud and violence). Independent reform candidacies at the presidential level simply does not have the critical mass to win by themselves at this time.

It seems more politically prudent -and politically inconvenient, for the President and her people- for reform candidates to consolidate their gains in the local level, for now. This is particularly important because reformists have to concentrate on supporting a viable senate slate in 2010, for there is a great danger in the administration coalition recapturing the senate. At the same time, the enclaves of reform that already exist, have to be preserved, lest they fall back into the hands of the usual suspects.

As the President’s inability to dislodge Jesse Robredo and Jejomar Binay proved, there are also limits to the national government’s -and the President’s, in particular- power to frontally attack enemies. If the reformist local executives all suddenly succumbed to the temptation to go national -before a constituency was prepared, because capable of being mobilized, to support them- it would mean the elimination of those reformist politicians from the political landscape just at the point they’d be most needed, for example, if the President were to herself surrender to the temptation to cut the Constitutional gordian knot by proclaiming a revolutionary government.

Faced with what seem to be -for now- insurmountable obstacles legally and in terms of timing, to shift the form of government to a unicameral parliamentary system by 2010, in recent weeks the drum-beating for Charter Change has given way to calls for the President to explore the possibilities of a revolutionary government -an autogolpe, in other words, reviving a scheme high in everybody’s minds in 2006.

On July 16, Alex Magno pushed forward the idea that there is a gordian knot, that only extreme measures can cut it, and by implication that the President’s destiny is to be a new Alexander; Carmen Pedrosa argues that Washington might be poised to accept such a move, instead of, say, supporting efforts to oust the President if goes for broke before the end of her term:

Therefore, those who hope that the same would happen to President GMA if she pursued Charter change are off the mark.

To a certain extent, though we’re on opposite sides, I agree with her. The reason is not that I think the unicameral, parliamentary system beloved by Pedrosa and Co. has either a genuine majority behind it (I do not think it does: see Parliamentary democracy in the Philippines would be a very bad idea for arguments), or that it would be better for the country (it would be better only for the current ruling coalition and it’s backers, period), but that at it’s heart, it has an idea that remains dangerously seductive: and that idea is, a New Society.

As for the seductiveness -and enduring qualities- of that idea, please see my column from December 26, 2007, Assessing Adrian. The seductiveness of the idea can also be gleaned from the willingness of those who might otherwise be expected to be irreconcilably at odds with each other, to not just talk, but possible achieve a meeting of the minds. See Politics in agenda of CJ Puno and Bert Gonzales in Newsbreak:

Gonzales and Puno seem to agree on some things. For one, the national security adviser believes in the chief justice’s warning that the country’s “social volcano” is about to erupt. “It is good that no less than the country’s chief justice sounded off the warning about our critical national situation,” Gonzales was quoted in reports.

He continued: “The call of the times for the three major branches of government, supported by key pillars of our society like the churches, civil society and mass movements, to agree to a transitional government respected by the armed forces.”

It seems to me, that if Fr. Intengan, Newbsreak’s source, isn’t lying, then there has to be a reason the Chief Justice would be OK with being mentioned as being willing to play footsie with the National Security Adviser. After all, even within opposition circles, the Chief Justice has been informally mentioned as having an open mind to the idea of a revolutionary government; something I used to think was more a case of wishful thinking and probably a case of misunderstanding the Chief Justice, on the part of oppositionists claiming to be in the know. Now, I’m not so sure. It may be that what the Chief Justice thinks is that the opposition cannot gain power, in which case, the cycle could possibly be broken by the President, in what could be portrayed as an act of supreme political will -and political redemption.

The reason the Chief Justice might think this way is because he is, after all, a man of faith, and so his default position is to consider anyone capable of a Road to Damascus Moment; but also, because he, like Gonzales, Intengan, the generals in the cabinet, and so forth, were all molded, in one way or another, by martial law: and the combined assumption that a New Society was, indeed, called for in 1972, but the only thing that went wrong was that Marcos didn’t fully internalize his own propaganda. They, on the other hand, remain true believers.

As Patricia Evangelista put forward on January 25 in In the court of the crimson king:

He is the man who represented the Marcos government in the martial law years with Marcos’ solicitor general Estelito Mendoza, his mentor. He is the man who defended the 1973 constitution that extended the term of Ferdinand Marcos. He acted as both solicitor general and minister of justice in Mendoza’s stead at a time when many were lost and killed in the same fashion that those he stands for now were lost and killed.

So the lesson here is for those, like Magno, who formerly belonged to the Left; for those, like Pedrosa, formerly anti-Marcos but frustrated by the failure of Charter Change under Ramos and Arroyo; for the Chief Justice, who earned his legal spurs defending the New Society; for the military men in the Cabinet who helped enforce martial law and were the beneficiaries of that system: the time has come, to revisit Marcos, because they can out-Marcos the Great Dictator.

And this applies not just to those who lived through the New Society, but those who came after. The value of a trial balloon is that it not only gauges opposition to the idea, but also, helps sound out if a constituency exists in support of the idea. This is particularly true for official trial balloons, made by allies (who can be dismissed as speaking without authorization), but which enables a government, with far better means to weigh public opinion, to see who is for or against their idea.

Which brings me back to a point I’ve been making for some years now -let’s not underestimate the President’s constituency. Leandro Lojo’s commentary, A dangerous alliance, from March 1, 2008 provides a good summary of those who comprise a constituency for the President:

These people never outgrew the martial law era. They believe that the only way to express patriotism and love for country is by screaming their lungs out in the streets while holding a placard with a defaced picture of the President. These misguided idealists have arrogance running through their veins as they believe that they have a monopoly on righteousness. Whatever they do, they do because it is in the best interest of the nation. Well, since when did spray-painting a U-turn sign on Commonwealth Avenue with bold black letters that read “OUST GMA” [“OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO”] become part of promoting the nation’s interest?

They have so much hate against the government that they have become allergic to rules. Their ideas push them to believe that the government and the people running it are perpetually bound to oppress the poor and enrich themselves. They make this eternal call for change, yet they don’t change – or better yet, they don’t want to change. These people waste resources, time and energy by burning effigy after effigy. They believe that only through noise, disorder, turbulence and confusion can a new society be born – descending slowly and graciously from the heavens, like the New Jerusalem, with angels singing in the background. Yes, that’s how blind they are.

In their minds, they are catalysts of change. In reality, they are plain and simple anarchists. They should start looking for jobs and become more productive.

On the other side of this alliance are the politically motivated personalities, hypocrites to the bone. They are using scandals and controversies to become more popular, and their end-goal is to get the highest political position possible. And they have been quite successful. Last year, we saw young congressmen rise to the Senate based, not on merit and achievements, but on controversies they had destructively stirred.

They are populists because it’s the only way they can climb the political ladder. They can’t enact strategic legislation, which will provide long-term benefits, such as developing the transportation system, increasing exports, improving revenue collection and assisting businesses, because all these entail short-term sacrifices, which might cost them their positions—a risk they are unwilling to take.

All they do is complain, and they complain with a fiery passion to make the people believe in the fantasies they are selling. They are polemicists, criticizing without presenting solutions and alternatives. They speak only words that are pleasing to the ears of the masses. When they face political dilemmas, their decisions are based on what would profit them politically, not what is right and just. They are slick talkers, and if you’re not careful enough, they can easily deceive you.

This is a dangerous alliance, as it seeks to plunge society into chaos. They want our society to lose any semblance of stability so that they can create a new order. But even they themselves have no idea how it will function.

But I am not afraid. They cannot achieve anything unless we let ourselves be used by these political clowns for their own blind and selfish goals. They can make as much noise as they want, but they need many more warm bodies to join their ranks before they succeed in destabilizing our society. I have already counted the many curious, naive, gullible, ignorant and politically immature countrymen who are neither misguided idealists nor hypocrites but will take part in this political adventure, and they still won’t make it.

I can hear the noise, but I still can’t feel the heat. After each and every protest rally, the crowds would fizzle out, the streets would be left empty and dirty, and the leaders of the carnival would be eating a fancy dinner while most of the gullible people they drew into the activity would be walking home. Every demonstration sends a clear and strong message to the whole world that while countries across the globe are taking measures to strengthen their exports, develop their industries, attract new investors and ensure their competitiveness in a fast changing, globalized world, we are busy playing on the streets of our financial district.

In the manifesto above is every single one of the government’s talking points; and it is a latter-day retelling of every argument used by those who supported the New Society to justify martial law in 1972.

To be sure, people change; but that is why things never happen exactly the same way, twice; but the political thinking of people tends to be set quite early on; and for all of the above, the formative years for them, was martial law. And I’m willing to bet that if you sounded them out, privately, to a man -and woman- they’d say: the New Society was the right solution, and one that ought to be really tried, because Marcos failed to do it properly.

So, for now, this is the trial balloon du jour: it is one, mind you, not being shot down as actively as one might have assumed. And I think this is giving those who have hit off on a revolutionary government being the tidiest solution a pretty good feeling indeed.

commentary democracy elections Ferdinand E. Marcos generations Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Philippines politics presidency public opinion RP-US relations society


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  1. “but that at it\’s heart, it has an idea that remains dangerously seductive: and that idea is, a New Society.”

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  2. together with the spiral of silence, it appears that these things inevitably lead to:

    drumrolls…

  3. I find it laughable that Among Ed’s whole political plan is to run for Pres with with Padaca as vice and a handful of senators (I think about 5) in his slate.

    Assuming they capture all posts (and this is a big assumption), that leaves them vulnerable to the trapos in congress, senate and bureaucracy.

    Why doesn’t he or any reform candidate take the time to build a political party? Build up a political agenda, build a caucus, organize a national base, then run for the national office. It should take them 3 to 6 years to do this. I don’t understand why they’re in such a hurry.

    As it is, our only options for taming the trapos is the hope for a new “new order” and the left. But I don’t have much faith in a new order because, as capture theory suggests, the trapos will always find a way to gain control of the new order and coalesce what at present are disperse trapos all over the country to a few cronies who will control the nation, not unlike in Marcos time. As for the left, well, they’re the left and they can never get support from the middle and upper class.

    Where’s the third way political party? Something that will advocate scrapping bank secrecy laws, is pro-business (lower or scrap corporate taxes), for small government (scrap BOT and advocate for private ownership of utilities and GOCCs), will tax the upper and middle class, reduce or merge the number of congressional districts, give the Ombudsman a proper budget, legalize gambling, marijuana, prostitution (so they can be taxed), make family planning mandatory, legalize divorce and introduce child support laws, legalize abortion, etc etc? Ahh I can dream.

  4. philippine politics is in sad,sad,sad state.maybe worst than being sad!!!it actually sucks!!!

  5. Merely attempting to legalize gambling, marijuana and prostitution will take a hell of a lot from any administration. Religious groups will spew fire and brimstone to put an end to any of those attempts.

    If Americans think that Barack Obama is overreaching by trying to fix health and social security in the U.S., it would be much more difficult for any Philippine president to go against the bidding of religious groups. Much more so, if mandatory family planning, legalized divorce and legalized abortion are included in the package.

    That’s the problem with our system. Maraming nakikialam. Walang clear road map. Too many backseat drivers.

  6. It took years and lot of “good” and some “bitter” fights for Tommy Douglas to bring about the Universal Health Care system in Canada (actually it was succeeding Governments in Saskatchewan, who was able to implement the Idea of the “Boy” who’s one mission in Life is no Boy should lose a foot just because his parent can not afford to see a Doctor, and he almost lose His) Like my new Boss said, at this gloom and doom scenario which the developed economies are experiencing..there is no Shortcut to anything..we needed long term plans and we must stick to it, and fine tuned along the way…and we are recovering..

  7. “Merely attempting to legalize gambling, marijuana and prostitution will take a hell of a lot from any administration. Religious groups will spew fire and brimstone to put an end to any of those attempts.”

    Not if they have congressional and senate majority. One that is born out of elections and not from coalitions.

    If a political party promises to legalize jueteng and a its congressmen and senators get majority seats (and the presidency is won as well, of course) I don’t see why they can just abide by their electoral promise (in this example, legalize jueteng), religious groups be damned.

  8. That’s the whole problem. Politicians and religious groups form an unholy alliance. They feed on each other. Witness how politicians kowtow to INK, to El Shaddai, to the Catholic heirarchy. No administration has ever had the political will to confront religious groups.

    And, as for scrapping bank secrecy laws, that will trigger capital flight of such a magnitude that the peso will have to devaluate massively. Just last week, the Republic of the Philippines issued $500 million worth of bonds. Well, those ROP bonds tanked miserably in the offering in New York. But, thanks to Philippine banks, flush with money with nowhere to invest, the ROP bonds still ended up selling out. Scrap bank secrecy laws and local banks will no longer be flush with money. And the government won’t be able to borrow zilch from nobody. So much for the Philippine’s good credit standing.

  9. “This is utter folly and reflects poor political judgment.”

    Hmmm. I surely must agree.

    The presidential candidacy of Father Panlilio, Among Ed, or whatever name he’s now prepared to be called, falls into a perfect (Non) Storm for the administration-supported candidate.

    Panlilio’s run would surely divide the national vote even more thinly among both opposition and administration herrings. more.

    Lemmee see: as of last count, eight serious wannabes: De Castro Escudero, Estrada, Fernando, Gordon, Legarda, Panlilio, Villar, and Roxas.

    I, Noli De Castro, do solemlny swear to discharge the duties of Pres… 🙂

  10. pampanga becomes arroyo country (again?)

    and among ed will go downcast in 2010 because he wouldn’t win anyway.

    why not stick to the governorship na lang? or run for congress against arroyo? at least mas maliit ang scope ng susuyuin niyang botante?

  11. very interesting post, manolo. you’re right, we didn’t approve of martial law, in fact we hated it, but we had great hopes for the “new society” – truly the idea still resonates.

    btw the link to alex magno’s piece doesn’t work, maybe it’s been deleted? is it posted elsewhere? thanks!

  12. Among Ed’s a sucker. He’ll run for President, and from Pampanga. He’ll do it, for sure. For whom?

  13. many thanks angela, i’m using new sotfware for posting and i think links got screwy. anyway, i think it’s fixed now.

  14. “And, as for scrapping bank secrecy laws, that will trigger capital flight of such a magnitude that the peso will have to devaluate massively.”

    I don’t see why scrapping bank secrecy laws will trigger a flight of dollars. Scrapping it is only for the purpose of aiding corruption investigations. It doesn’t mean the government will pry open every bank account, so tax evaders (which comprise 70-80% of the populace, businesses, and corporations) have nothing to fear.

    Although I recognize the possibility of panic dollar runs/withdrawals. This can be tamed by what I propose as “two world’s” policy on corruption legislation. There shall be one set of rules for government (executive, legislative, and judiciary), bureaucrats, and quasi-government persons and one for private individuals and businesses and corporations. For gov/bureaucrat/quasi government, the laws will apply as is. They can be jailed for corruption and civil lawsuits can apply. For private individuals, only civil lawsuits will apply. The purpose of this is to prevent the government from jailing people en masse, as we recognize that a big majority of people are committing graft and corruption crimes, but we cannot jail them as they provide the lifeline of business and employment in our country.

    However, gov/bureaucracy/quasi government entities must be held to account with fear of jail terms as they are the referee of the rules.

  15. “Just last week, the Republic of the Philippines issued $500 million worth of bonds. Well, those ROP bonds tanked miserably in the offering in New York. But, thanks to Philippine banks, flush with money with nowhere to invest, the ROP bonds still ended up selling out.”

    Bank secrecy laws are the reason why government can’t borrow money overseas.

    Foreign banks are unwilling to lend RP government money because it doubts the capacity of the government to repay loans. This incapacity to pay loans is caused by perennial budget deficits, which is caused by inability to collect taxes, which is caused by bank secrecy laws.

    Scrapping bank secrecy laws will have short term unintended consequences, true, but long term it will have untold benefits in the form of increased government revenue and decreased corruption which in turn will stimulate private wealth creation.

    I also doubt that OFWs and corporations will put their dollars elsewhere if bank secrecy laws are scrapped. OFWs have no choice but to send home the dollars because of subsistence income for their families. Corporations for the most part are legit operations that don’t do shady transactions with their dollars. Also, they need to maintain their dollar holdings in local banks for hedging purposes, operational dollar transactions, etc. i.e. normal course of business.

    About the only significant entities that may do a dollar run are the Chinese tycoons and businessmen. I think the country must bear the brunt of devalued peso in the short term for long term benefits. Also, I think OFW contributions can plug the hole in the short term until such time that businessmen will see the benefits of being transparent with their bank accounts when the benefits of bank secrecy laws become more apparent.

  16. My dream political party can also implement restrictions of dollar movement not unlike what Mahathir did in Malaysia during the Asian financial crisis. This legislation can be passed withing the first week of coming to power.

  17. SoP,

    Thank you for saying, in effect, that our Constitution is not really THAT restrictive. Under it there’s still so much we can and should do. I myself have ONE pet job for Congress.

    Yet I have no objections to a cha-cha proposed by Congress, with each house voting separately as in the regular legislative process except for the number of votes required. Isn’t this the most practical way of changing the 1987 Charter?

  18. Hi, nothing to do with the topic of the article itself. But please don’t use “it’s” (a contraction of “it is”) when you really mean “its” (possessive determiner). Those little things help the credibility of one’s writing, you know.

  19. taxj,

    My only complaint with our constitution/government setup is it’s presidential.

    Presidential systems are innately compromised because, for a candidate to run a national campaign, he/she has to spend hundreds of millions of pesos. This has the effect of:

    1. The incumbent president using government budget for electioneering (either direct stealing from the purse to use as campaign funds or dispensing pork to sway voters)
    2. Aspiring candidates needing a big financial sponsor (usually a tycoon/s), who will be repaid with favors
    3. Aspiring candidates using their own money, which will be recouped with corruption

    A parliamentary system, where a congressman/prime minister only has to campaign at the local level to obtain a seat, is cheaper to campaign for, thus less compromised.

  20. And to you little 15 year old grammar nazi safinre, ITS 12:16 am already, shouldnt you be in bed? Your mommas gonna spank you with a walis tambo if you dont stop trolling the adults. Why are you in here anyway? Usapang matanda ito nene.

  21. The country with probably the strictest bank secrecy laws in Asia is Singapore. They don’t have problems with access to loans. Dont see the logic as to why bank secrecy laws impede government’s capacity to borrow overseas. Credit is the capacity to pay. And, while local banks have nowhere to invest their excess money except in ROP bonds, the Philippine government will have ready access to credit. Banks and government, they feed on each other. Just like politicians and religious groups.

  22. It is a sad reflection of the educational system in the Philippines that most people do not know the meaning of bank secrecy relative to the effective management of economic policy in any country.

    In more advanced economies the fiscal authorities, monetary authorities and law enforcement authorities have powers over bank records of individuals and companies.

    That is a critical part of the regulatory powers of the state. Hence that has given rise to off shore bank havens. That soon will be a thing of the past. As there is still no effective regulatory framework for an international fiscal and monetary policy for an international government.

    When one enjoys the fact that standard of public goods in the more advanced economies of the world one will appreciate the very effective fiscal and monetary application of policies.

    The problem with the Philippines is we have institutions that teach us to have a first world mindset with a physical economy that is predominantly third world.

    Hence the huge gap in appreciation. You want good governance one must pay for it through taxes. It is a chicken and egg situation. Hence it is evolutionary.

    The difference in interest rates determine the demand for selling debt paper. The difference in the price of insuring debts also will determine demand.

    Price is the organizing principle by which almost everything is determined most of the time…

  23. “The country with probably the strictest bank secrecy laws in Asia is Singapore.”

    It may be strict with offshore depositors (to encourage more deposits from offshore tax evaders), but I doubt Singapore Tax Office has bank secrecy difficulties when investigating its local depositors in tax cases.

    Singapore taxes are low anyway, so people and corporations have a high risk-benefit considerations in evading, so they don’t bother evading taxes. This country is not a good point of comparison for the Philippines.

  24. Singapore also has high forced savings via their CPF, which is dangled by Singapore Inc. as the collateral carrot to lenders. This super sovereign fund has hundreds of billions, invests everywhere in the world. This foremost is what gives it a good credit rating. Second is the low corruption.

  25. J_ag I totally agree with you. But I also appreciate Carl’s realpolitik view of the situation.

    I think there should be two set of rules for bank secrecy. One for locals, who will be subject to looser bank secrecy laws, and one for foreign depositors, who can invoke bank secrecy laws.

    The way I see it, dollars are needed mostly for buying oil and paying debt. Every once in a while, the supply of dollars run low, reflected on the high value of dollar vs pesos. When OFW remittances cannot provide more dollars, the government steps in by borrowing from private institutions, local or overseas, via government dollar bonds. Otherwise, we’ll default on our debt or won’t be able to buy oil, both payable in dollars.

    The Department of Budget can strike two birds with one stone by issuing government bonds. First, it increases the dollar supply in our economy. Second, it can make up for perennial budget deficits.

    The problem with government bonds of course is that it’s more debt for tax payers to pay. This is where loosening bank secrecy comes in. By having the ability to open bank accounts, we can see who the tax evaders are. This means we can gouge the middle and upper class for more taxes.

    But we don’t want loose bank secrecy laws to spook tax evaders from other countries who deposit their money in our banks. Which is why they should not be subject to bank transparency.

  26. Chicken and egg situation is correct. Actually, there are enough laws to enforce tax collection. It’s the implementation that’s the bottleneck. As everyone knows, taxes are always subject to “arreglo” in the Philippines. How many billions does government lose annually to oil and fuel smuggling? To income tax and VAT evasion? To underdeclaration of imported goods?

    At least, in the banking system, they faithfully follow the law when it comes to withholding taxes and document taxes. Interest income is always subjected to withholding tax.

    As for taxpayers having no incentive to pay taxes because they don’t see the results of what they pay, that is true. But it is also a convenient excuse to evade the law.

    Another problem we have in the Philippines is that there is relatively little investment in businesses and infrastructure. That is why our banks are flush with cash and they are mostly invested in T-bills or other securities. It’s a pawnshop mentality. We don’t invest enough in industry, that’s why we are in a relatively primitive state with regard to our economy.

  27. SoP,
    a unicameral Parliament would not result in a Canadian or Australian system, but a version similar to Singapore or Zimbabwe.
    You can’t have parliament without real political parties.

  28. I’ve always thought that making the most of what we have is the best recourse. Now, I think I’m drowning. The water’s getting too deep for me. Perhaps it comes from my being the man with the hoe, literally. I’m in the mood for que sera, sera.

    I don’t discount other social issues, but I would be happy enough if I can feed the leftists, the centrists, the rightists, the oppressed as well as the oppressors, though I am of course more partial with people like me who don’t know nor care where they stand. For us survival is the game. We need nobody to tell us that it is the supreme law.

    Please don’t get me wrong. I too travel a lot, in my dreams. It’s the only luxury I can afford. As I savor my brief respite from an endless battle with pesky weeds, I indulge in thoughts of the Australian or American farmer who feeds thousands of families, while I could barely provide for my own.

    My constant companion, a battery powered transistorized radio, tirelessly brings a message from the DA Secretary Yap: we have to import 10% of our needs because we produce only so much. And, we have to pay higher than what other suppliers offer because of the timing and volume of our needs.

    Once, as though it was necessary, I walked up higher a hill to have a wider view of the horizon. Wow! Local farmers and I barely cultivate 10% of local arable lands and yet some wag tells us we can only produce so much. It’s a shame indeed, but let’s face it. What can you expect from the man with the hoe, a brother to the ox?

    How’s that Bagong Lipunan Hymn again? I’m ready for it.

  29. God called me to run for president –Panlilio.

    – Yes, God wants him to run… away from the governorship and out of public service. Does He, perhaps, want him back as a priest? Is it good riddance or sayang naman for Pampanga?

  30. Someday, we may pay dearly for our blasé approach to politics. There are no clear ideological definitions among our parties, unlike in other countries where conservative and progressive philosophies actively engage each other.

    At least the Bagong Lipunan tried to create a semblance of a philosophy, albeit a deceptive one.

    Fidel Ramos also tried to create a party with an ideology via his Lakas-NUCD. It tried to combine Christian Democracy, Christian Socialist and Muslim principles into a potpourri of guiding principles. Raul Manglapus was among its organizers. But, with Joe de Venecia, Joey Rufino, Bert Gonzales and several trapos leading the way, it quickly became a vehicle for politicians to engage in politics as usual. It was a half-hearted attempt at best.

  31. “As everyone knows, taxes are always subject to “arreglo” in the Philippines. ”

    In an ideal world where tax agents were honest, they would still have a hard time nabbing tax evaders with bank secrecy laws. As you know, businessmen keep two sets of books, one for the BIR and the real one.

    If an honest BIR agent gets shown the fake book, one with understated profits, what’s the sure way for the BIR agent to know if this is real or fake? He can go through the rigamarole of digging up receipts, reconciling journals and ledgers- forensic accounting basically. Or we can aid the agent by simply peering at the tax evader’s bank accounts. If the year prior balance is a big leap to present year’s balance and the business after tax profits were way smaller, then the businessman should have a lot of explaining to do.

    Without the capability of looking into bank accounts, investigating tax fraud is difficult, if not impossible.

  32. Take note of the news item below:

    “Bishop: Dishonesty in priest’s political career is disturbing

    Retired bishop Francisco Claver, former head of the social justice commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, says he is disturbed by “dishonesty” in the political life of a priest.

    Father Eddie Panlilio, who is governor of Pampanga, “is running as a politician” for the 2010 presidential election, “but taking advantage of his position as a priest within the Church,” Claver told UCA News in an interview in Quezon City yesterday.

    “This [dishonesty] is exactly what we [the Church] are trying to change in our politicians,” said the former chairman of the social action, justice and peace commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.”

  33. Neither family planning nor legalized abortion can result in food sufficiency. Policy reforms will.

    We put billions of pesos of funds for agriculture in the hands of people who have no direct links with the farmer, and virtually immobilize trained farm technicans for lack of support. This is the result of an incomplete and irrational devolution of functions.

    We spend so much for land reform that the farmer is left with nothing else but a hoe to cultivate his land with. Gloria boasts of strides in land reform in terms of hectares of land distributed to farmers when it is the number of lands made underproductive because it has rendered mechanization uneconomical or impractical. And, please, it’s the machine that makes the difference between the Aussie and the Pinoy farmer, not the number of their brood.

    We squander billions in the pursuit of bandits whom we ourselves have made so because of years of government neglect and misplaced priorities. We buy planes and bullets while we leave the evacuees to the mercy of the elements and of concerned NGO’s when we can use the army to help these settlers make productive the vast fertile lands that had been converted into battlefields. Farm tractors, instead of planes! Farm inputs, instead of mortar! Guards, instead of hunters!

  34. I believe its people that make the laws work as intended, not the other way around. We may have all the policies but if we have all these politicians/lawyers who parenially find ways of circumventing them for personal gain…nothing will change…
    If we have leaders who are fanatically obsessed with crossing every T, dot every I, and personally maintains a humble subsistence, whether he professes to live life for God or Allah, is he not worth the opportunity? We even elected Erap, admittedly living at the extreme end of morality, violating every most of the 10 commandments, what damage could a former priest do really? He can’t do anything worst…
    If given the choice, would we really choose the Arroyos/Pinedas/Lapids over Ed Panlilio? I’m personally aversed to religious types but at least with Among Ed, we can easily get him to give up his post if we find him insufficient, which we definitely can’t do with the unholy trinity mentioned earlier…

  35. Given the Filipino mentality, we will always choose the Arroyos/Pinedas/Lapids species, most of us can get easy money with these people around, and things get done a lot faster also, as long as “greasing” is involved. Currently we have the most efficient bunch of leaders at the helm, why change? Projects get approved without so much baggage like bidding rules, accountability – too much red tape for essential high budget projects that the country badly needs…
    …then again, as long as I get a cut, why care about the other guy, just give him some leftover food and a few Php bills, or coins, or buy his sampaguitas, I’ve done done my part in alleviating poverty…have you?

  36. Rekindle the flame of democracy that Ninoy and Cory began.

    Believe that the Filipino is worth dying for.

    Tie a YELLOW RIBBON today.

    CORY,Hindi Ka Nagiisa!

  37. I really think Cory bashers are being too hard on the ex-president. They keep blaming her for her dismal economic performance, conveniently forgetting that her administration had to endure the most coup attempts on any Philippine president.

    Her most powerful legacy is to be a template for presidents who would have to survive a belligerent, politicized military-a scourge of our fragile democracy.

    If Cory can survive 7 attempts at coup (2 of them bloody), then any president can. Cory, by being resilient in the face of uneducated PMA overgrown boy bully peasants with guns, ensured that our country would not end up like a Burma or Thailand.

    She deserves more respect. She’s a true statesman.

  38. Apologists for Cory Aquino always cite surviving coup attempts as a feat. Heck, if mere survival were such a magnificent achievement, then GMA deserves more accolades.

    The fact is that Cory Aquino had the opportunity to change the country. She had the goodwill and the momentum. And she just couldn’t hack it. Cory Aquino is a template for missed opportunities and failure. And that’s the plain and simple truth.

    Not ending up like Burma or Thailand? I don’t care much for Burma. But if we ended up like Thailand, we would be much better off.

  39. ‘there is a gordian knot’

    GMA’s generation is in their twilight years. They know that their will be a changing of the guards but their generation won’t give up easily. They need their last hurrah. The problem is their generation is split in terms of ideology since martial law. That split is the reason why GMA is still in power and it is also the reason why she can’t seem to keep it for good. That split in ideology is the Gordian knot that GMA’s generation needs to untangle for her to stay in power.

  40. The only good thing about Thailand is the nightlife, really…believe me, we’re still better off here…

  41. If Cory can survive 7 attempts at coup (2 of them bloody), then any president can. Cory, by being resilient in the face of uneducated PMA overgrown boy bully peasants with guns, ensured that our country would not end up like a Burma or Thailand.

    She deserves more respect. She’s a true statesman.
    ——————————-

    You forgot about the other boy bully peasants who defended the constitution at the time.
    Cory deserves more respect, thats true. Her time was more of a transition period, similar to the “transition girlfriend” that never lasts because you’re still hung up on the ex, then again you move on and find bliss, true love, or genuine catharsis…but have we?
    Blaming one person for our lot in life is hardly a sign of maturity…

  42. Who can untie the Gordian knot?

    One side should give way to the other. Who will play second fiddle? The Pedrosa side will say ‘Not Again!’. Will the Magno side give way to the Pedrosa side? No way Carmen.

  43. ramrod: I believe its people that make the laws work as intended, not the other way around.

    – It should work both ways. The local government code made people work. It produced the Jesse Robledos, Grace Padaca’s and Among Eds. Also, a lot of Galing Pook Awardees. Well… of course there’s also some Ponzi schemers like the infamous one from a town in Albay.

    Ironically, enough though it’s this piece I want amended. I want the battle brought to the local government level. Maybe one can’t fight City Hall, but one has more chances of winning there than in Imperial Manila where scams after scams keep us down and helpless.

    A structure for growth will more assure us of relief than any change in leadership. You think Among Ed is good enough? I doubt if if he, or any other leader, can survive, much less, lead in the murky waters of our system. Believe it or not, the Gloria that EDSA 2 catapulted to power is not the same one that that now we see as a cornered dog, fighting for dear life. Our system has made her so. It’s the same system that failed Cory who, in turn, also failed us.

    Pinning our hopes and our future on a leader is a big mistake. Where’s Obama now? We must diffuse leadership. Let more people carry the load. Let’s empower ourselves where we are, in the provinces and cities.

    The day we stop clamoring for better laws is the day we stop listening to our SoP’s. It’s the day we won’t mind a padlocked Congress. Let martial law begin.

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