The Long View: A tandem for democracy

The Long View
A tandem for democracy
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:06:00 09/21/2009

Manuel Roxas II’s expected acceptance of Benigno Aquino III’s invitation to be his vice presidential candidate makes him the immediate front runner in two races: for veep in 2010 and president in 2016. And it makes the Aquino-Roxas tandem the team to beat. The first test of a potential president’s judgment is the running mate he selects. There is a grim responsibility attached to the vice presidency, given the fact that three of our presidents died in office.

A candidate who selects a running mate with the end-view of enhancing job security because of unease over the thought the latter might end up as his/her constitutional successor or who thinks only of the latter’s vote-getting power – while disregarding how, in every other respect, the choice of running mate will be an administrative and political liability – does not deserve to be president.

For the vice presidency is more than morbidly waiting for the president to die. The vice president helps set the tone of an administration and fosters an approach to governance that thinks not merely of the next election but also of a continuity of policy from one administration to the next. Will the next administration be a collaboration, a partnership for progress, one that builds and nurtures institutions, or one that wrecks them?

Gary Wills, in his book, “The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power,” points to the sociologist Max Weber who “distinguished three kinds of authority – traditional, relying on the inertia of sacred custom; legal, based on contractual ties; and charismatic, based on the special gifts of a single ruler. Charismatic leadership is transitory – the ‘grace’ is attached to one person, who must constantly revalidate it in action.’; It serves, amid the collapse of order or old ways, to bind together a new effort – the embodiment of a cause in George Washington or Mao Zedong. The founders of states, or of religious orders (a favorite Weber illustration) have to exert personal authority, since they have no preexisting majesty or office or sanction of law to draw upon.”
With our institutions so weakened, so damaged, it will require a team of leaders to reanimate them with the ideals and idealism of the citizenry.

Wills favored the example (from among modern chief executives) of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used his charisma to establish institutions and then lent his authority to them, so that generations after his administration, the American institutional landscape is still marked by the presence of the positive institutions he set up. He held this up in contrast to the Kennedys, who Wills felt approached every institution as something to be bent to their will; the constant urge to dominate created a brittle legend because instead of investing institutions with their charismatic authority, the Kennedys spent too much time warring with institutions in an effort to defeat them.

What Aquino and Roxas are setting out to do is to channel the goodwill and trust of the public toward a coalition that will revitalize our battered institutions. Roxas is the point man in translating the values he and Aquino and their constituency for change share, on the basis of clearly defined limits to executive and official power, both in terms of law and political principle. And this is where their shared martial law experience is crucial.

Martial law did not begin on Sept. 21, 1972, which was an otherwise normal day in a clearly abnormal time. It was imposed in the early morning hours of Sept. 23, when the military fanned out to shut down the mass media and arrest Marcos’ enemies based on a faked ambush on Juan Ponce Enrile. Marcos, leaving nothing to chance, backdated the legal camouflage for his coup to Sept. 21, for numerological purposes (a multiple of his lucky number, seven) and as a kind of back-handed tribute to Jose P. Laurel’s imposition of martial law on the same date in 1944.

The only connection Sept. 21 has to martial law was in Marcos’ mind. To perpetuate it as the anniversary is to perpetuate his crafty legal arguments for a naked power grab. But it is an anniversary of an altogether different kind: it was the last day when the country could still claim the protection of the Bill of Rights, the “most precious legacy of the founding fathers,” as Ninoy Aquino wrote.

To do away with the Bill of Rights, Marcos had to threaten the Supreme Court with the possible proclamation of a revolutionary government; he had to padlock Congress, in particular, the Senate; he had to muzzle the media, imprison journalists, educators, Constitutional Convention delegates, politicians, Maoists and reformers. He maintained his power by bribery and corruption. The elder Gerry Roxas and Ninoy Aquino would not collaborate, would never surrender; and while neither lived to see the Bill of Rights restored, Cory presided over the restoration of those rights and it is to deepen those rights – ”to make freedom tangible – that Noynoy and Mar have dedicated themselves.

The Great Recollection inspired the Great Awakening in August and now the task before the electorate is the formation of a Great Constituency: one that is prepared to contest not just the presidency and the vice presidency, but the Senate and more.

Since 2005, I’ve been arguing that national redemption is required, both from leaders and the led; if a restored civic sense is what’s required of the citizenry, then a rededication to the principle that there are limits no one in power ought to cross is necessary, too. Redemption is and should be available to everyone, but on the basis of the secular principles of self-control on the part of officials, a universal adherence to peaceful change (which requires an accompanying dedication to improving matters, sometimes by small steps but also by daring to do so by leaps and bounds), and a fundamental respect for the intelligence and sound values of the public.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

87 thoughts on “The Long View: A tandem for democracy

  1. Liberalism comes in many forms. According to James L. Richardson, in Contending Liberalisms in World Politics: Ideology and Power, there are three main divisions within liberalism. The first is elitism versus democracy. The second is over economic questions. The third is the question of extending liberal principles to the disadvantaged.

    What exactly is the LIBERAL PARTY in the Philippines?

  2. Equalizer, kung walang conservatism, walang liberalism. Puro pakunwari at sabay sa uso lang. Kung anong latest na nabasa yun lang.

  3. I’ve been arguing that national redemption is required, both from leaders and the led; if a restored civic sense is what’s required of the citizenry, then a rededication to the principle that there are limits no one in power ought to cross is necessary, too. – MLQ3
    I couldn’t agree more, Manolo. The left-right continuum has to do with defining the role of the state and how best to “make” (not “take”) value (either thru tax rebates or govt programs). Essentially, the reason why there is not centre-left/centre-right tension in our democracy unlike in the developed world is because the rich do not necessarily pay their share of taxes.
    The elite in a sense do not actually suffer from a large govt (the way conservatives do), they actually benefit from it (in the form of sweetheart deals, regulation (and privatisation) that favours their interests, and the like).
    For this reason, the contrast as it is being defined in this election could not be more stark: rules based governance v free for all governance and more broadly, a society based on civic consciousness v free riding and opportunism.

  4. “Redemption is and should be available to everyone, but on the basis of the secular principles of self-control on the part of officials, a universal adherence to peaceful change (which requires an accompanying dedication to improving matters, sometimes by small steps but also by daring to do so by leaps and bounds), and a fundamental respect for the intelligence and sound values of the public.”


    I heard this kind of talk at the start of the Cory administration. Needless to say, nothing came out of it.

    Redemption should, indeed, be available to everyone. But self-control on the part of officials? Adherence to peaceful change? Dedication to improving matters, whether in small steps or by leaps and bounds? Respect for the intelligence and sound values of the public?

    As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said: “To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there ‘s the rub!”

    Officials exercising self-control sounds like an oxymoron. Can Christians and Muslims adhere to peaceful change in Mindanao? Will the NPA or the Abu Sayyaf lay down their arms? Will the Catholic Church take matters in stride when improvements are undertaken via promotion of contraception or relaxing divorce laws? And, as for respecting the public’s intelligence, how can there be such a thing when, just to cite the tip of the iceberg, our very own educational institutions are neglected?

  5. “Redemption is and should be available to everyone, but on the basis of the secular principles of self-control on the part of officials, a universal adherence to peaceful change (which requires an accompanying dedication to improving matters, sometimes by small steps but also by daring to do so by leaps and bounds), and a fundamental respect for the intelligence and sound values of the public.”

    I agree with Manolo on this, and the Filipino people, too. Self-control as oppose to impunity. Exactly why Cory is popular with the people and Gloria is not.

  6. In the development of institutions, 20 years is a short period of time. After EDSA I, there was a naive sense that the job was done, and that democracy would take care of itself. I don’t think it is this kind of redemption that Manolo is talking about.
    Democracy does not rely on the idealistic assumption that everyone always adheres to their “better angels”, which is why we have checks and balances.
    On the other hand, a certain amount of altruism and concern for the community must be present for the system to function at all. Otherwise, there will be so much mistrust that even value creating decisions get blocked. I think this is what we are beginning to realise after EDSAs II and III.
    We have had unconstrained pursuit of self-interest. What we need is to constrain ourselves (both the leaders and the led) to play by the agreed rules. Otherwise, groups from the extreme left and extreme right will try to overthrow the system through non-peaceful means rather than reform it from within.
    By playing by the rules, our institutions can be given the chance to evolve and mature (incrementally or systematically).

  7. Change is a top to bottom process. I’ve never seen a country improve from the middle up. There were some bottom to top revolutions, but were ultimately dismantled by top to bottom incompetence.

    Change by the people is fiction. I don’t agree with most of you, that we shouldn’t count on a president to improve our lot. My friends, history is against you. Show me an example of people regular middle class people fixing a nation and I might be convinced. Until then, I’ll just wait for a messiah to deliver us from evil Filipinos.

  8. “Since 2005, I’ve been arguing that national redemption is required, both from leaders and the led; if a restored civic sense is what’s required of the citizenry, then a rededication to the principle that there are limits no one in power ought to cross is necessary, too.”

    – I’ve read this line much too often before. Cory can only do so much. Where she failed it is because the people failed her. Now in Cory Part II the same lame excuse is laid out early enough. Too early, in fact.

    Doing one’s share could be frustrating. I wrote Senator Noynoy, he being chairman of the senate committee on local government, not just once nor twice, but never got a response. In fairness though I got the same silence from the other Senators. Senator Gordon replies by referring me to his website. Only Senator Roxas is prompt and consistent with his answers, “Thanks for writing, will deal with you shortly.”

    At the local level, through the Mayor and as a private citizen, I succeeded in getting CSC to invalidate an illegal appointment issued by a Provincial Director. The order would have been effective by 2004, yet the official still holds office to this day. The Mayor stopped dealing with me after the local CSC, as a retaliatory measure, refused to renew an illegal appointment that is renewed yearly at least 10 times. Both are highly sensitive positions.

    I don’t want to agree with SoP. But there’s just too many incidents to back up his claim: change is a top to bottom process.

  9. The greatest advantage of Noynoy over other presidentiables is he can forge a continuation of the countrys struggles from his dad who died a martyr for freedom, from his mom who brought back democracy after numerous coups and bill of rights to Filipinos, and to his time to restore faith to the democratic institutions that had been rigged in various forms(garci-tape, pork to drop impeachment, commission on various china deals, emergency declaration that eventually overturned by SC, executive order to forestall senate, cha-cha to extend term, etc) by the current government and allies in the house.

    Transition is not overnight and painfully slow. Cory Aquino have that 1st hand experience. This time, Noynoy can make it happen so the country can function as participatory kind of government not the one weighed down by too much corruption like the current one defending tenured corruption and extension.

    I am not a fan of Noynoy but he has the vision, he has the background and he just need to be at the driver seat to drive this country to the right direction.

  10. SOP post at 7:15 pm, 21st September has got to be one of the most idiotic posts in a long long time.

    Her statement denies the very history of the Western liberal democracies over time. All over Europe the emergence of the urban middle class fueled the rise of participatory democracy in varied forms but the substance remained the same. The formula is the same. Economic empowerment will lead to political empowerment.

    Today the greatest problem on the planet is the mechanism that will alter and change local national constituencies to a world view that will be sustainable for the planet.

    Successful countries all have one similar characteristic. Their governments serve and protect their national interest.

    Here in the Philippines that still seems to be an alien concept. We continue to serve familial interests. It is actually normal for the state that Philippine society is in.

    From Spartacus till Mao peasants/slaves were unable to upend the top.

    The Philippines remains a conquered people.

  11. i like this go go noynoy mar tasndem is the tandem to beat coz they are not included in what we call trapos of phil. politics.. God bless the philippines..

  12. SoP’s rhetoric is reminiscent of the radical youth of the 60s and 70s. The same passive, aggressive cynicism is what caused them to boycott the 1985 elections. They were proven wrong by subsequent events and regretted it ever since.
    I would put to the cynics this bit of analysis done by Dominic Wilson of Goldman Sachs where the Philippines is situated among the Next-11 Countries that will rival the G-7 countries.
    Due to the economic reforms instituted post-Marcos, the country’s total GDP is positioned (even under the status quo) to overtake Italy by 2050. It can overtake Canada by then, but it would require improvements in our Global Environment Score (GES). The areas where we fall down are in political institutions (political stability, rule of law) and governance (fiscal management and corruption). These are the binding constraints that are holding us back from reaching our full potential.

  13. The Cusp, you must admit that cynicism is not unfounded. I do not dispute the fact that the Philippines has the potential to become a leading country, especially in this region. After all, even Marcos said that this country can be great again (although I still need to find evidence that we were great before). We certainly have the people, the strategic location, the resources to be great.

    As for GDP rising, sheer population increase will probably move total GDP upward. I’m not as confident about per capita GDP, though. And that is far more significant.

    What experience tells me is that we don’t have the leadership, the political will, nor the political system that can make that happen. I would love to have Noynoy-Mar convince me that I am wrong to be cynical. But in the meantime, I don’t see or hear anything but motherhood statements and soundbytes. As Cuba Gooding’s character said in “Jerry Maguire”: “Show Me The Money!”.

  14. Carl, according to the model, by 2050, the per capita GDP of the 148M expected population will be US$(2006) 20,000+. Approximately the same as South Korea by 2010. This is not a bad feat, given it was 1,300 in 2006, and it is based on a do-nothing scenario.
    I believe we have reason to be cautiously optimistic given these forecasts and the progressive voices that are emerging. Between Noy and Mar, the latter is possibly the more “wonkish”. When you listen to him (and read between the lines), you get the impression that he understands what this country needs to grow and mature. I hope if elected, their tandem shapes itself in the mould of the Clinton-Gore partnership, to utilise Mar’s expertise.

  15. The Cusp, I don’t place much trust on Goldman Sachs forecasts. After all, they predicted $300 oil in May of last year. It would take a perfect storm of good fortune and sustained periods of enormous growth environment to bring Philippine per capita GDP up from $1,314 in 2006 to $20,391 in 2050. It’s almost as if Prospero Pichay, he of the prediction that Gibo Teodoro will rise from his present 1% to more than 30% of the votes on election day, prepared that forecast.

    That is not to say, however, that what they say is completely without basis. After all, before Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva assumed the presidency of Brazil, there were dire predictions about Brazil’s economic future. Very few would have bet on Lula carrying the Brazilian economy to its present somewhat lofty status.

    I must also point out Spain, which was among not considered an economic powerhouse 25 years ago, but which became the 8th largest economy in the world last year. But it also had luck with relatively honest and efficient governments and the broadening of investments and markets through entry in the European Union. So hope springs eternal. Pleasant surprises can come from unexpected places.

    I agree about the “wonkish” Mar Roxas. But I certainly hope he has more street smarts than the aloof, and rather woolly-headed, Al Gore. If he doesn’t speak on the same wavelength as the people, he may as well be preaching to the wind.

    As for Noynoy, he brings a great narrative. The rest is still to be seen. What worries me is that I see some of the people who took advantage of Cory beginning to circle their wagons around Noynoy. I see the elitists and the traditional politicians flocking like flies to honey. Will he be judicious enough to tell the flatterers and favor-seekers from those who genuinely want to serve? Will he be strong enough to resist quid pro quos to those who have contributed to his campaign? I still have to see that.

    Nevertheless, I still maintain some hope and some prayers that we come up with a leadership that could truly transform our country. As I have said many times, I still have a lot riding on this country. The Philippines’ gain will be my gain as well.

    Brazil has its Lula, Indonesia is now beginning to breathe some life with Bambang Yudhoyono. India and China have been wakened from centuries of sleep. We have had a string of bad luck in the past. Who knows if, this time, we could get lucky?

  16. other than the Aquino pedigree, what does Noynoy have? if Mar is a man of principle, he would not give way to Noynoy, as the only reason for doing so is “winability,” not suitability (though i might vote for Mar as VP. if he stayed on as presidentiable, I’d vote for him)

    to borrow a common American phrase – Gibo will eat Noynoy alive in a debate of presidentiables. the outcome would be like the result of the debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin

  17. Mar knows his economics. He used to work in a Wall Street investment bank. He might be able to access Wall Street for the country’s much needed capital for foreign direct investments.

  18. At least Carl, the GS model is more rigorously derived than GMA’s “we will be a first world country in ten years” pitch for retaining her beyond 2010. Btw it was Jim O’Neil of GS who coined the now ubiquitous term BRICS which includes Brazil, Russia, India and China, and GS is considered prime among equals in the industry.
    Of course, they are trying to spot the next best markets in order to guide portfoliio investment flows. In the end, they do acknowledge, it is just a dream (but, what must we do to turn it into reality?); anything can happen in the long-run. As one famous economist once said, “in the long run, we are all dead…”

  19. The Philippines is the public school teacher who earns 12kPhP a month. This income is clearly not enough even for his basic needs. So you’d probably think that he is already suffering enough. Well… you haven’t consider yet that more than half of this amount goes to debt servicing: GSIS and other loans.

    So how does he survive? By going deeper and deeper into indebtedness. Until when can he survive this ordeal? Meanwhile, his children goes to a public school with a teacher student ratio of 1:60 and a further shortened school hours. So what can we expect of their children? Uneducated or illiterate graduates who will soon have half-starved families of their own!

    Now, tell me, anyone… How would Noynoy or any other candidate address the teacher’s or country’s plight? How can Carl and cusp talk of 2010 and beyond with such optimism?

  20. Cusp on, “I would put to the cynics this bit of analysis done by Dominic Wilson of Goldman Sachs where the Philippines is situated among the Next-11 Countries that will rival the G-7 countries.”

    The report was understandably upbeat as done before the 2008 financial crisis, regrettably Goldman Sachs was allowed to stay afloat by US taxpayers bailout unlike its rival Lehman Bros.

    Even if we take Wilson’s analysis by its face value, it was prepared for investment purposes for its clients as opposed to the country’s growth objectives. By its statement, “Even with solid growth, only Korea and Mexico …. are likely to have reasonable chance of catching up…”

    There is an interesting disclosure in the report about the Philippines. It highlighted both increased investments and sustained growth, but could not account why the deterioration of water supplies which is needed by its labor force and the population. Same issue with energy since its market had been liberalized.

    This is the essence of SOP cynicism and far from being idiotic. The political machinery is about growth in infrastructure and investments which is really good in quantifying image but has little or no relevance to the basic needs of the population.

  21. Scalia on, “other than the Aquino pedigree, what does Noynoy have? if Mar is a man of principle, he would not give way to Noynoy…”

    Once experience is not the best gauge of leadership. Marcos the bar topnotcher looted the Philippines. Gloria Arroyo with doctorate in economics indirectly created the rice crises with its massive rice import. In contrast, a plain housewife in Cory Aquino has stopped all the military ambitions to rule this country.

    Mar knows Noynoy and to give way for him as a man of principle is the best indication that he knows more than you do or any of us for that matter.

  22. Taxj on, “Now, tell me, anyone… How would Noynoy or any other candidate address the teacher’s or country’s plight?”

    Any candidate should understand why Cory refused the expensive lifestyle at Malacanang Palace – that is basic economics that even the economic doctorate Gloria Arroyo cannot comprehend. At least Noynoy knew well of his mom’s experience.

  23. “How can Carl and cusp talk of 2010 and beyond with such optimism?”


    Hopeful, yes. Hope springs eternal, after all. Optimism? A healthy skepticism would be more accurate. We cannot afford to engage in a suspension of disbelief, as that Goldman Sachs forecast would have wanted us to. That report obviously attempted to pump up investors to invest in their portfolio. The usual investment hype to draw the suckers in. Jim O’Neil has a way with words and figures. That’s why Goldman Sachs pays him a fortune. But that doesn’t make him less of a snake-oil salesman than, say, CNBC’s Jim Cramer. These people love to take credit when things are going their way. But, when they bomb, as most of them bombed leading to the global economic crisis, these people always find ways to wash their hands.

    John Maynard Keynes’ comment about the long run is true. But that shouldn’t be a license to have people run away with their imagination. We can be optimistic, but grounded on facts and reason.

  24. “taxj on Tue, 22nd Sep 2009 10:50 pm ”

    Interesting points on inflation. I wonder which technocrats Noynoy-Mar will bring to the table to tackle this? I believe this has been our biggest problem short term.

    I don’t understand why goods have been getting so expensive during the last few years. The GMA admin has certainly downplayed it and the opposition won’t bring it up for I believe they have no idea on how to tackle the problem.

    Could it be low wages that’s causing this (suppressed by the fear mongering of Taipans to profit-cutting I mean “inflation-inducing” hiking of wages and their lobbying to the prez/wage board for lower wages) or is it genuine high demand/low supply of goods? Or is it because some of our basic goods are imported from abroad and are subject to the fluctuations in currency exchanges. I do know that electricity is Ramos’ fault, but for the other goods in the basket, we the people demand and explanation and a solution.

    I would be on the lookout for the platforms of tackling inflation on the debates. This is issued # 1 for me (though I’m less optimistic on prescription for solutions from the candidates).

  25. “J_AG on Tue, 22nd Sep 2009 6:27 am
    Her statement denies the very history of the Western liberal democracies over time. All over Europe the emergence of the urban middle class fueled the rise of participatory democracy in varied forms but the substance remained the same.”

    You’re talking about a situation where poverty is minimal in a society. If there are less poor people, the middle class and participatory democracy can take over. But that’s not what brought about substantial uplifting poverty. In a situation where 90% of people are poor, there’s not much the middle class can do, be it in Europe or the Philippines.

    Where would Singapore be if Lee Kuan Yew decided to be just a lawyer and participate in democracy by writing letters to the Malaysian Federation instead of forming PAP?

  26. So, d0d0ng, paupers would vanish if the monarch live like one? As if Cory’s vaunted lifestyle, compared to Gloria, made galunggong more available to the poor! She was placed on power by a people who were hopeful of getting something other than a common fare. It was her favorite subject before and immediately after she was installed. She was a bit short of banning it latter when it became the symbol of failed expectations.

    Our propensity to rely on foreign “experts” to buoy up our manic depression is a virtual admission that, in our case, optimism grounded on facts and reason is an oxymoron. Why not use a kind of trending of our economy from Marcos? Nay… I don’t want to stir up another controversy. Let’s start with President RM or EQ and see where we’ll end up in 2020? It could be a painful revelation, but at least, it could be also be the truth that shall set us free from a seemingly endless fall into the bottomless depth of poverty and misery.

  27. I will leave it to Manolo to explain why in a presidential system, often the office chooses the person and not the other way around. Why Noy and not Mar, for instance?

    Anyway, the administration will have us think that the country is such a delicate machine that it takes a bar topnotcher and graduate from Yale or a PhD to run it.

    Actually, to be a leader of 90m headstrong individuals (our discussion group being a small sample of it) takes more than just an appreciation of the issues from a conceptual nature.

    This is why we like leaders with charisma . The problem is these leaders (messiah? revolutionary? benevolent dictator?)often enthrall us then lead us astray. Noy in his heart seems to instinctually grasp the needed direction towards a rational-legal system. Mar would be able to flesh it out in a coherent manner.

    They are actually both anti-political politicians (in the traditional sense). At times Noy looks awkward, Mar too analytical. Both can be folksy when they want to, but their charisma is essentially inherited from their forebears.

    Bottomline: they are both one in advocating for a rules based order, to fit the direction of the economy, which entails institutional adaptation in the near term, transformation in the long term. Not an easy task. The people behind them have baggage, yes. Who doesn’t; this is why renewal and redemption are needed. Neither cynicism nor wide-eyed optimism are needed, just a guarded sense of pragmatism, a cautious hopeful realism.

  28. “As if Cory’s vaunted lifestyle, compared to Gloria, made galunggong more available to the poor!”


    Cory’s vaunted lifestyle was only symbolic. She was determined to be the anti-Marcos (and the anti-Imelda). Marcos was actually very spartan, although he loved the power and perquisites of the presidency. Imelda, who has never lived down her 3,000 shoes, loved the pomp and pageantry.

    As, taxj points out, competence and the will to change things are what matter. Cory’s vaunted lifestyle didn’t improve the lives of millions of Filipinos.

    Her incompetence and lack of political will certainly did more harm than good. She allowed to let the energy situation to get out of hand, causing consternation and big losses to small and large businesses, and great discomfort to millions of households. She allowed corruption to proliferate, starting with her own family, Peping, Tingting, the Lopas and other kamag-anaks. She even defended family members cornering government largess with the classic reply that they “were entitled to make a living”. She never put any of the Marcoses or their cronies to jail, even allowing Danding to later come back and reclaim his San Miguel fiefdom. She allowed the pre-Martial law politicians to run wild and to debase our nascent democracy. She allowed her family (via Hacienda Luisita) and friends in Congress to make a mockery out of the supposed centerpiece of her administration, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

    Cory was more symbolic than solid achievement. A Mother Teresa if you will, but no Lula. Not even a Mandela. Perhaps Megawati Sukarnoputri or a Violeta Chamorro would come close. And, unless he proves us wrong, Noynoy could become the male version of Megawati.

  29. Danding didn’t make a comeback in SMC until the Estrada administration.

    There has been plenty of time without her in power to run after the so-called “Kamaganak-Inc” a label created by those with an axe to grind against her. The question is whether she stole. She did not.

    The rest can be answered by asking what the national consensus was in so many things; for example, the question of power was a factor of two things. Growth, which everyone suddenly denies as never having taken place, and second, public opinion was strenuously against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Government’s resources were also affected, on the other hand, were affected by the fight for survival with the coup attempts.

    Hacienda Luisita: there were those who submitted to land reform; others who tried to pursue a middle path through stock options. The stock option scheme was so dangerous as a middle path it was relentlessly attacked by agents provocateurs. The majority of workers in Luisita were content with the arrangement, and if it wasn’t going far enough, consider the responsibility of those who provoked violence and the other landowners who simply refused to submit to any land reform of whatever nature whatsoever. Personally I feel this was a lost opportunity for the Cojuangcos; but the relentless criticism is unfair in the sense that it ignores how CARP was able to pass against relentless opposition, and there are so many large landowners who never submitted to any kind of even moderate reform whatsoever.


  30. There’s an American political scientist who’s been studying Filipino politics and says our society’s essentially dynastic so long as the dynasties are perceived to be “good” ones. In that sense, very similar to the Indians. Similarly the Aquino constituency is in many ways similar to India’s with the Gandhi (Nehru) dynasty in the Congress Party. What goes hand-in-hand with that is what earlier political observers, foreign and domestic, call the plebiscatory nature of our democracy; it is not by outright inheritance but by periodic plebiscites (including elections and referenda) that leadership is asserted and maintained.

  31. Hey Carl, aren’t you feeling better now? It’s good to get things off your chest like that, I suppose.
    I don’t dispute the things you said about the “kamag-anaks”. I have personal anecdotal knowledge of how they operated in my province which exacerbated the reforms that a family member of mine was pushing for (and nearly lost his life doing).
    I do dispute the assertion you made about poverty. We have to turn to empirical evidence here. The “experts”, like Habito and my teacher Balisacan, will point out, poverty incidence went down during Cory’s time. Not only that, the decline in poverty was nearly 1-1 per % of GDP growth during the Aquino-Ramos period (each 1% growth in GDP led to nearly 1% decline in GDP). The problem was we didn’t have enough of the growth.
    The problem was we were coming out of a deep hole in 1984 after Ninoy’s death sent the economy into a tailspin. It took us a decade before we could climb out of this.
    Under GMA, things have unexplicably reversed, growth has actually increased poverty incidence (something that even the experts with their neoliberal frameworks can’t rationalise – go figure!).

  32. dodong on “Mar knows Noynoy and to give way for him as a man of principle is the best indication that he knows more than you do or any of us for that matter.”

    the only reason why Mar gave way to Noynoy is the latter’s perceived “winability.” nothing more, nothing less. a pragmatic reason.

    a man of principle does not give way to pragmatism.

    pero anyway, Mar is my VP

  33. The Cusp,

    could it be that the babies assembled during Cory’s time and grew into adolescence and adulthood during gloria’s time contributed to poverty incidence?

  34. “The question is whether she stole. She did not”

    the fact that she didn’t couldn’t negate the damage wrought by Kamag-Anak Inc., by letting Joma Sison et al free, by not repudiating the foreign debt, by effectively keeping Hacienda Luisita out of CARP, by stopping social services with the imprint of Marcos….

    if all that a candidate can offer is a promise that he won’t steal, he’s not fit to be president

    Carl articulated well what is on the minds of most Filipinos but are afraid to say:

    Cory was more symbolic than solid achievement.

  35. Anthony, even if we concede the point that Cory’s contribution is more symbollic than anything, symbols do matter in this day and age, sometimes even more than substance.

    And, it is not just a promise not to steal, but the will and ability to institute a rules based system, that we need to argue over here (is the tandem up to it?).

    It is much easier to change formal institutions, i.e. introduce democratic forms of govt, than replace age old informal institutions, i.e. tenancy farming, patrimonial dealings based on kinship.

    The question is have we matured enough and do we have the capacity to adapt, given the experience of the last 25 years.

    With regard to the population question, your guess is as good as mine. Habito tries to argue that underinvestment in education and infrastructure led to the growth of poverty in spite of GDP growth. It seems unsatisfactory, to me.

    I presented a paper on the fiscal crisis a few years back arguing that unless a social safety net was put in place along with the then proposed eVAT, it would make the cure as bad as the disease. Unfortunately, the “gatas ng VAT” was added in as an afterthought by Salceda and Arroyo (after the damage was done) and secondly, misdirected leakages that accompany such large, quickly devised programs seems to have occurred.

  36. Scrap land reform, it didn’t work and never will. Giving land to individuals who have a “every man for himself” mentality and no idea of integrated farming methods is a waste of time and good land.
    Its time to consolidate all arable land into a massive, well planned agricultural strongholds, run efficiently, productively and sustainably. Mechanized if need be, and with strategic groundwork for farm to market efficiency. Give farmers work, good compensation, benefits, access to education for their children, healthcare, etc.
    That’ll take the wind out of the Maoists. All it takes is a working model and then replicate it in the south.
    As for Cory/Noynoy, symbols serve a purpose but they must translate to concrete gains.
    After seeing Noynoy firsthand, I’m not convinced that he is the panacea to our ills, not even Mar…is there no one else? We may need someone who can make hard, unpopular decisions…and I’m beginning to think these people pleasers can do it…
    …I hate admit it, but JAG’s Villar is looking more like the
    one applicant who can “get the job done.”

  37. Not all agricultural products lend themselves to consolidated large scale farming. Land tenancy has been shown to be a very stable institution due to the sharing of risk that occurs. Our land reform packages have failed to strengthen property rights in the true sense. China’s model of de-collectivised farming has simulated ownership rights even though the state still owns the land.

    With regard to Villar or any other candidate, can he/she institute a system of governance effectively based on rules, not favours better than the other guy/gal.

    (And btw, my conceding the point was for arguments sake. Many economic reforms under Cory only bore fruit after her presidency. If you compare the structure of our economy in 1985 to now, it is much changed due to these.)

  38. Unpopular at the time these economic and fiscal reforms were, they did bear fruit in the end, and were never properly credited to Cory (I am just trying to be fair in assessing her legacy, which are not just in the political realm).

    It is in infrastructure and social reforms where it is more patchy, but on balance, did her admin cause more harm than good, or otherwise? I think we’d have to say the latter.

  39. “Government’s resources were also affected, on the other hand, were affected by the fight for survival with the coup attempts.” – mlq3

    – Ironically Noynoy gathers strength from his perceived weaknesses or malleability. People and vested interests, including the peso-contributors, will want to support him in the hope that he will be molded and shaped they way the want him to.

    Noynoy, of course, will try to please everybody, as Cory did. But in the end, conflicting sector will try to outdo each other with greater and greater intensity. And that will be the start of Cory 2, though not necessarily the coups but something as divisive and destructive. Survival rather than growth will again be the name of the game.

  40. taxj, governance is all about maximising social value without depleting too much political capital with your core constituency. there’s nothing inherently wrong about trying to please as many of your people as possible. the question is whether you try to “bend the rules” in order to please them, or bend it so that you can stay in power even though you have failed in delivering what they are expecting because you have pocketed value for yourself.

    sometimes because of prolonged feedback loops between decisions and their impact, you might appear ineffectual, when instead you have taken a hit in favour of your successor who reaps the rewards of your foresight. there is nothing “weak” about that. we like strong, charismatic, “macho” leaders even though they tend to make decisions with unintended consequences that impact negatively on later generations.

  41. “The question is whether she stole. She did not.”


    How can you be so sure, Manolo? Are you privy to everything Cory and her family did? Until now, Tingting Cojuangco and company cannot account for what happened to Imelda’s precious jewelry collection, which disappeared when the yellow forces raided Malacanang. Various witnesses have attested to Tingting as the principal culprit.

    When Cory was accused of nepotism by allowing Kamag-anak, Inc. corner sweetheart deals, it is on record that she responded that they had “a right to make a living”. Are you saying that corruption under the Aquino was a figment of those “with an axe to grind”? That Kamag-anak, Inc. never existed? That Eldon Cruz, Cory’s son-in-law, and the Lopa’s, Cory’s in-laws never used their connections to the levers of power to enrich themselves?

    You blame everything on the coup attempts. Why were there coup attempts in the first place? Was it not because Cory was playing footsie with the Communists? Didn’t Cory pardon Joma Sison? Didn’t Cory’s incompetence cause rifts within her cabinet? Didn’t Cory’s naive attempts to please both the Communists and the Right lead to drift in policy direction? Didn’t urgent matters, such as energy policy, get stuck in the bureaucratic gridlock that arose from the lack of leadership?

    You put too much blame on the Bataan nuclear plant for the energy crisis that ensued, and haunts us to this very day. There were other alternatives, but the lack of leadership just couldn’t come up with a course of action.

    Manolo, don’t be such a fawning sycophant of the Aquinos, the so-called civil society and the liberal elite. You fancy yourself a historian. Be objective. You become nothing more than a propagandist when you take sides.

  42. By the way, Danding Cojuangco came back to the Philippines on November, 1989. Who was President at that time? The first thing Danding did was to claim his right to his San Miguel shares, which were largely untouched by the Cory administration, anyway. Danding and Peping had already struck a deal before Danding’s return. Danding wasn’t prosecuted, inspite of his links to the sinister Rolex 12 under Marcos, suspicion (aired by no less than Cory herself, at one point) that he masterminded Ninoy’s murder and his plunder of the coconut industry. Danding was even allowed to run for President in 1991. Who was President at that time? Who bears command responsibility? Corruption, Manolo, can take many shapes!

  43. Cusp,

    I’m sorry if I have not made myself clear enough. My point is that when a leader is perceived as a weakling because of incompetence and lack of vision, his followers will invariably try to make him follow them instead. As Carl so clearly stated this caused the many coup attempts in her administration. Noynoy for President. Welcome Cory 2.

    Nepotism started with the aging uncle of Cory, Senator Lorenzo Sumulong, who was appointed to the Constitutional Commission. The Sumulongs and Tanjuatcos of Rizal also had to make a living, so they were given a juicy contract at the piers. Congressman Ding Tanjuatco lawyered for Lucio Tan to free Foremost Farms from sequestration. Does Manolo still insist that the kamag-anak Inc. is a figment of the imagination?

    Sayang si Roxas. Lalaban daw, e, sa survey lang tumakbo na!

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