Category: CHANGE

calling on the church, the integrated bar, and the communists

on facebook, duterte’s pa-thinking trolls have been bashing bashing bashing vp leni for being on vacation in the states during and after typhoon nina that hit her home province hard.  kesyo hindi daw dapat umalis in the first place, kesyo dapat umuwi na, now na, kesyo wala siyang kuwentang vice president, at kung ano ano pang panlalait na tuloytuloy lang, to the point na OA na, as though the vp had committed, were committing, an impeachable offense?  medyo over the top, guys.

i suppose it has everything to do with rumors of an attempt to oust duterte and replace him with leni before january 10 when, it is also rumored, the supreme court is set to replace leni with bongbong, which btw rendered rene saguisag incredulous (what with an indolent SC in the middle of a long break), and so you wonder why these pa-thinking peeps are even dignifying it, one of them even warning that if leni et al. should attempt a people power action, well, sila mismo, with mocha in the lead, playing joan of arc i guess, would respond in kind.  how exciting.

i suppose, too, that it is these same rumors that had the president flipflopping on martial law. just early this december he had said it would be “kalokohan,” he would not allow oppression, it did not do any good the first time around, blah blah blah.  but just before christmas he was suddenly lamenting that he couldn’t impose military rule without the ok of congress and the supreme court, and practically ordering that the charter be amended to allow him to do a marcos!  takot ako, seriously.

i suppose also that leni being in new york of all places is driving them paranoid.  easy to imagine that she’s cozying up to loida and, who knows, ex-ambassador goldberg?  UN human rights commissioners?  the CIA?  the senators markey, coons, and rubio?  the extrajudicial killings has rendered the president infamous, after all, his war on drugs failing to net any big fish but a lot of small fry who have no ex-deals to offer, not to speak of the bystanders, and the “innocent until proven guilty” that’s been honoured more in the breach than the observance in the last six months.

read david balangue’s Justice–Philippine style.  and manolo quezon’s Freedom from fear.  and this, from tony la viña, posted on facebook the day after his bloomberg TV interview on extrajudicial killings.

… we are nearing a point when legally and politically, whether intended or not, what is happening in the country will be considered by objective and independent international mechanisms as genocide. It’s the number and the typology of the victims, certainly not mainly pushers or definitely not drug lords, at most addicts and users with increasing number of innocents and almost universally poor. The evidence being gathered is damming and at some point will be overwhelming. It will not only have aid implications but there will be severe trade consequences once genocide is determined. Can ordinary citizens stop it other than self-restraint by the government? In my view, only the Church acting with such institutions like the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the communists by making human rights compliance a non-negotiable in the peace talks are in a position to make a difference here. The opposition is too weakened or compromised or complicit to even contribute to what has to be done. 

“self-restraint by the government” is a pie in the sky, given the president’s martial law talk.  and indeed, even the opposition (leni loida leila and LP, take note) is “too weakened or compromised or complicit to even contribute to what has to be done.”

but, yes, the church acting with such institutions like the integrated bar, and the communists by making human rights compliance a non-negotiable in the peace talks — they ARE in a position to make a difference.  especially the communists.  would that they rise to the occasion this time around.  not necessarily to oust duterte but, at the very least, to make. him. stop. the. killings.

Unsolicited advice to President Duterte

Clarita R. Carlos

Twelve years ago, we published and presented the findings of our study on the issues and challenges of bureaucratic reform in the Philippines to a group of legislators, local executives, academics and journalists. In that study, we described the numerous overlaps, duplication, and unclear lines of authority in much of the government bureaucracy, which have resulted not only in confusion but also in great difficulty in transacting business with various government agencies.

Read on…

let a MILLION PEOPLE MARCH

this has been going around facebook since yesterday, so far reposted 633 times and counting.  a call for a major major march vs. the pork barrel on aug 26, monday, a holiday commemorating the start of the 1896 revolution.

This is a REPOST from Ito Rapadas
Please repost kung mamartsa kayo. Salamat at mabuhay ang mga tunay na Pilipino!

“What we need is a MILLION PEOPLE MARCH by struggling Filipino taxpayers- a day of protest by the silent majority that would demand all politicians and govt. officiials (whatever the political stripes, color they may carry) to stop pocketing our taxes borne out from our hard work by means of these pork barrel scams and other creative criminal acts. They don’t want to investigate themselves, they remain relaxed and unperturbed because they believe it will die down in time. Let’s make them feel that this time is DIFFERENT cause we are all sick and tired of it! PLS. REPOST IF YOU AGREE!”

sounds good.  government needs to get the message that we’re angry, we’re fed up, we want an end to the pork barrel system.  a million or more marching would grab their attention.  but for a stronger, more emphatic, delivery of the message, let’s not march to luneta, which is a dead end.  let’s march to EDSA instead, on a workday, just because we want traffic, lives, schedules disrupted, we want people to stop and ask, what’s going on, and to see why this is every pinoy’s and pinay’s fight for responsible spending by government.  we want media spreading the word, we want as many people as possible, from gated villages to the grass roots — across classes, across ages, across genders, across ideologies, across seas — discussing the pork barrel, and expressing soldiarity with the million marchers.

but we cannot, we should not, stop there. do we want an investigation, i.e., televised public hearings? do we want to know what senators and reps have been really spending their pork barrel funds on in the last two years, and how much goes back to them in the form of commissions / kickbacks?  if found guilty, do we want them punished, ousted?  do we want them to give the money back?  YES to all of the above, i would think?  but all these should be very clearly articulated, because if we leave it up to government to act on the issue, their lawyers will plead due process, i.e., innocent until proven guilty in a proper court, while the senators and congressmen will just get creative and start calling the PDAF by another name / other names, with the complicity of the palace, of course, and tuloytuloy lang ang ligaya.

what if we make DEMANDS such as these:

1. THAT CONGRESS FREEZE ALL SPENDING OF PORK BARREL FUNDS;

2. THAT THE PALACE FREEZE ALL SPENDING OF “SPECIAL FUNDS” OF WHICH THE PDAF IS BUT A SMALL PART;

3.  THAT THE PRESIDENT ISSUE AN EXECUTIVE ORDER CREATING A TRUTH & CONSEQUENCE COMMISSION WITH SUBPOENA POWERS THAT WILL INVESTIGATE THE COMPLICITY OF SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN WITH NGOS AND CONTRACTORS, AND HOW MUCH GOES BACK TO SENATORS AND REPS IN COMMISSIONS/KICKBACKS;

4. THAT THE TRUTH & CONSEQUENCE COMMISSION BE COMPOSED OF MULTICOLOR MULTISECTORAL STALWARTS OF CIVIL SOCIETY, YUNG PRO-PEOPLE NA MERONG CREDIBILITY, SUCH AS: CHRISTIAN MONSOD, RENE SAGUISAG, MELINDA QUINTOS DE JESUS, HEBER BARTOLOME, RANDY DAVID, LEONOR BRIONES, CONRADO DE QUIROS, LENI ROBREDO, SATUR OCAMPO;

5. THAT THERE BE TWO MONTHS OF DAILY TELEVISED PUBLIC HEARINGS, SIX DAYS A WEEK, TO DETERMINE WHO HAVE ENRICHED THEMSELVES ON PORK BARREL FUNDS, AND DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED AND/OR PENALIZED.  TWO MONTHS, THREE MONTHS TOPS.  WE WANT THIS RESOLVED BY CHRISTMAS:  PAMASKO SA BAYAN.

6. THAT SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES WHO ARE FOUND GUILTY OF ENRICHING THEMSELVES ON PORK BARREL FUNDS A) BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE?  B) SUSPENDED LANG?  FOR HOW LONG?  WITHOUT PAY?  A POSSIBLE EXCEPTION FOR SENATORS / REPRESENTATIVES WHO MIGHT STEP UP AND VOLUNTEER INFORMATION THAT HELP, HASTEN, THE INVESTIGATIONS, A LA STATE WITNESSES, MAYBE ONE MONTH SUSPENSION LANG?

7. THAT STOLEN MONIES  BE RETURNED, AND TURNED OVER TO BIR COMMISSIONER KIM HENARES FOR SAFEKEEPING UNTIL THE PRESIDENT IS PREPARED TO AUGMENT THE BUDGETS FOR HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND ENVIRONMENT, THE BETTER TO ADDRESS INCREASINGLY URGENT NEEDS NATIONWIDE.

and that’s my two cents.  here’s hoping that serious plans are afoot to organize and unite behind this exciting advocacy, and to dare take the leap from social media to the parliament of the streets.  mabuhay!

Paths to change

By Calixto V. Chikiamco

OUR CURRENT situation seems hopeless. Our economic oligarchy is powerful, rich beyond imagination. It controls conglomerates that reach into almost every aspect of Filipinos’ lives, its unassailable position protected by law or other barriers to entry. More importantly, its rent-seeking power provides self-reinforcing means for enrichment and impregnable authority: it can penetrate, influence, and manipulate the weak state and its institutions almost at will. In other words, it can buy off or influence politicians, judges, bureaucrats, and media organizations to thwart change, prevent competition, and extract more economic favors or rent through the weak state.

The state of our politics also provides reasons for hopelessness. Whereas the political class is supposed to be distinct from the economic oligarchy in that the former must at least answer to the people through democratic elections, that has not been so. Cheating, vote buying, and voter intimidation through private armies have undermined the true expression of the people’s will. Also, an almost non-existent party system with politicians changing parties and positions at the drop of a hat undermines democratic accountability.

Moreover, with the amount of money needed now to run for elections, running for office is a rich man’s (or woman’s) game or a corrupt man’s game. Therefore, either the politician must be rich himself and is part of the economic oligarchy or has sold himself to vested interests. Politics has also become a family business. Dynasties rule our political landscape. The interests of the state are subsumed to the interests of the family.

Much hope had been placed that President Aquino’s Daang Matuwid will bring about change. While his moral style has been a marked contrast to the blatant corruption under former President Arroyo, President Aquino has proven himself to be a reactionary, unable and unwilling to make changes to the system of which he’s a product. He was, after all, a congressman then a senator, before becoming president. Political reforms are absent from his agenda. There’s no talk of campaign finance reform, dismantling private armies, eradicating jueteng, banning party turncoatism, or reducing the role of political dynasties.

Forget about revolution. The Left already missed its opportunity with its disastrous boycott of the 1986 elections. Furthermore, the Philippine Left has proven to be a tool of the Right, equating nationalism to keeping out foreign competition and promoting laws like CARP that only enrich the rent seekers in the government.

So, how will change happen then? Is the Philippines doomed to a thousand-year rule by an irresponsible political and economic oligarchy which will resist any reform of its privileges and rent-seeking power?

Change can still happen, although very slowly. Change can happen under the following scenarios.

The threat to the state. This is the circumstance by which almost all countries in Asia got its act together and started their remarkable rise. External and internal threats often spur the state to positive change: South Korea with the threat of invasion from the North, Taiwan from the threat of invasion by communist China, Singapore vulnerable as a tiny nation surrounded by big countries and formerly threatened internally by Communist subversion (read Lee Kwan Yew’s biography), Indonesia threatened by the Communist coup de e’tat in 1965 and where a million people died in the aftermath. Japan, as a thousand year old civilization, embarked on the Meiji Restoration, a revolution that modernized Japan after its feudal backwardness and vulnerability was exposed by US Commodore Perry’s black ships in 1853.

Therefore, the threat of China bullying the country may similarly spur changes internally as well. Narrow vested interests may have to be subsumed as the state tries to strengthen itself in a possible confrontation. For example, the country may be forced to finally amend the Constitution to lift the restrictions on foreign ownership if it’s to join the US-sponsored Transpacific Partnership (TPP). Joining the TPP and moving closer to the US may be needed to get the US as counterweight to China. Japan is already doing so, and has indicated its willingness to sacrifice its powerful rice farmers and automotive lobby in order to join the US-sponsored TPP.

Tail wagging the dog. This is the Shenzhen scenario. Deng, faced with powerful opposition from conservative interests in Beijing, created a capitalist experiment in Shenzhen, then a tiny, undeveloped fishing outpost in the far south. The experiment proved so successful that the rest of the country had no choice but to follow, and opposition melted away.

Can the country have its own Shenzhen? That was supposed to have been Subic with its free port status, but Subic and other free port zones just became havens for smuggling. The ARMM with its economic and political autonomy, could have been a Shenzhen but it failed because Misuari built it on the same corrupt political patronage system as the rest of the country. Will the new Bangsamoro Region be our Shenzhen or will it be another failed experiment? It remains to be seen whether the MILF leadership can use its autonomy to build a region with a political and economic model different from the rest of the country.

A change in political economy. The political economy may change if the local oligarchy or at least parts of it, is forced to become more outward-looking. Why? Because the need to compete in the world market would temper its abuses and the elite would see the need to have a strong bureaucracy, efficient infrastructure, and vibrant domestic industries to compete in the global markets.

For the economic oligarchy to become more outward-looking, it would have to find exporting more profitable than extracting rent from regulated, non-tradable industries (power, telecommunications, ports, shipping, banking, etc.). The key to this is to undervalue the exchange rate, as it had been in other countries like Taiwan, China, and South Korea and to open up protected service sectors to foreign competition.

Change from below. It’s still possible to defeat powerful vested interests in a democracy. Coalition-building, voting, organizing, and protesting through social media or in the streets, legal challenges, and other forms of democratic collective action, given the right historical moment, can force positive change even if these are opposed by powerful vested interests.

Social security, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, civil rights legislation, the Glass-Steagal Act and other progressive legislation got passed in the United States despite opposition from powerful vested interests. Recently, the sin tax got passed because a broad coalition pushed for it and won despite the power of the tobacco monopolist. Therefore, the way forward is not, as some suggest, to revert to a dictatorship, but to strengthen democracy. Change in the Philippines will be forced from below and not initiated by an enlightened leadership.

Will change happen? If we don’t hope, we die.