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Thread: Mahathir questions Filipino-style democracy

  1. #291
    Philippine Politics is Second Most Profitable Business in Asia, Money Magazine Says

    11/26/2014 | 11:45 0 Posted in Local Issues

    Singapore | “If Philippine Politics can only be listed as a public corporation, more investors will pour their money to one of the most profitable businesses in Asia”, Kurt LaVine, editor of Money Magazine said.

    Philippine Politics has been listed as second most profitable business in Asia, beating giant companies like Toyota Motors, Samsung, Keppel, and even its own San Miguel and Ayala Corporation.

    The list is the result of 3-year study consolidated by both Asian Development Bank (in which Philippines owed billions of dollars), and Business Insiders. The report said 21% of Philippines’ annual budget ($10.5B) goes to politicians’ pockets every year excluding bribes from private companies and charity donations.

    The following is the lists of top 10 most profitable Asian companies with Philippine Politics at the second spot.

    Tata Consultancy Services (India) $13.15B
    Philippine Politics (Philippines) $10.5B or 21% of the country’s 2014 budget
    Tencent Holdings (China) $9.8B
    Baidu (China) $7.8B
    Galaxy Entertainment (Hong Kong) $6.48B
    HDFC Bank Limited (India) $5.6B
    Sun Pharma Industries (India) $4.15B
    Naver (South Korea) $3.05B
    Tata Motors (India) $3.01
    Avago Technologies (Singapore) $2.98

    The mighty San Miguel Corporation with a net income of $658M is listed at number 19, while Ayala Corporation is listed at number 26 with $349M net profit.

    Politicians are also making most money during natural calamities where foreign donations pour. Assessment of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) reveals that the Philippine Government received 35% more donations than it needed, however, victims have yet to receive the said aid.

    “Philippine Politics is a high risk but extremely high return investment. A politician who runs for mayor in a small town can spend 50 million pesos during election but when he wins, he can make more than 10 times times of that amount during the course of his 3-year term. No real business could promise 1000% return in 3 years except Philippine Politics”, the report said.

    In related news, the International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC), and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHR), are planning to send independent bodies to investigate the case of Yolanda, and to oversee proper distribution of aid, especially those donated by other countries.

    Report said some non-monetary aids are seen sold in public places by unidentified groups believed to be associated with some high-profile government officials.

  2. #292
    Edsa I in JoAl’s eyes

    Randy David


    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    1:51 AM | Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

    “Joal” is Jose T. Almonte, the soft-spoken, high-minded military man who likes grand ideas and once navigated the corridors of power as an adviser/guru to the powerful and the ambitious. He is sometimes referred to as the “thinking soldier,” a description that fits General Almonte precisely because it implies that such a phenomenon may be as uncommon as it is dangerous. JoAl does have that sinister reputation, and, I suspect, he revels in it.

    JoAl tells his story to journalist Marites Dañguilan Vitug in “Endless Journey: A Memoir,” a new book that will be launched on Feb. 25, the 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Uprising, at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan. Many will remember that this is the same place where Cory Aquino took her oath as president of the country a few hours before Ferdinand Marcos and his family fled Malacañang on helicopters supplied by the US Embassy.

    The book, written in the creative nonfiction style, does read like a fast-paced political thriller focusing on the underside of public events. JoAl narrates crucial moments in our nation’s history with a sharp eye for detail—and a penchant for sweeping gloss—that can leave a reader both awestruck and incredulous. He appears to be situated at the center of events at the right time, initiating and/or observing social action, as it becomes history. Yet, through all this, he remains largely invisible. I can’t recall a photograph of Edsa 1 with JoAl standing beside any of its principal characters. But no one will dispute he was there.

    In his recounting of the events leading to Edsa 1, JoAl takes the reader to the basement of the defense department in Camp Aguinaldo, where Lt. Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan held office as chief of security of the then defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. Three members of the core group of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM)—Gringo, Vic Batac and Red Kapunan—often met there. This was where they explained to him their initial plan. “A coup was on their minds, but it was still hazy, because they didn’t know how things would unfold. That was where I came in.”

    JoAl persuaded them that instead of sparking chaos in the military as a clumsy prelude to a coup, which was their original plan, they should “aim at Malacañang rather than fiddle with this chaotic situation.” This idea was intensely debated. JoAl’s input to the discussion proved to be the game-changer. “From then on, we planned to attack Malacañang…. We had to go to the details of what to attack and who the persons in charge would be.”

    “The plan of Gringo was to kill Marcos and his family. He would lead the attacking force. Red would lead the attack outside the Palace, in the park, against the Presidential Security Group.” While reading this in the nonchalant tone it is narrated, I of course couldn’t help being intrigued if Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Gringo’s colleague at the Senate, had ever heard this story before. But perhaps more than that, I wondered how this plan, if it had materialized, would have altered the entire course of our nation’s history.

    But, ever the prophetic voice of reason and compassion, JoAl at once objected to killing the Marcoses. “I insisted that we had no right to take the life of anybody. It is only the Filipino people who can decide to take their lives, not us. ‘Our revolution should preserve life. It is paramount,’ I explained. ‘We are fighting for political ideals and no political, social or economic ideals will justify the taking of life.’…. I said the Marcoses should be kept alive so they could face a people’s court.”

    The coup plotters, as expected, hotly debated this particular intervention by RAM’s prophet. In the end, the decision that was taken was to capture the Marcoses rather than eliminate them. This change in the plan entailed a fundamental expansion of the forces needed to take Malacañang. It also raised the risk of exposing the plot and of multiplying the number of potential casualties. JoAl pondered the choices before them in his characteristic philosophical way: “I feared the fickle nature of history whose judgment of historical figures is never final.”

    As we all know, the whole plot was discovered even before a single shot could be fired. Eventually, the leaders of this aborted putsch found themselves retreating to Camp Aguinaldo to announce their withdrawal of support from the Marcos regime before the predominantly foreign media, and asking for the Filipino people to support them. Marcos found out what they were up to, and he knew they had nowhere to go. In the beginning, he talked to them like a forgiving father to a bunch of helpless kids who had lost their way. Then he started berating them. This was where people power intervened. An awakened nation boldly stepped up to the plate following a failed coup attempt, and freed itself.

    The military might be forgiven for thinking it was they who won. But had they listened to the voices of the people outside the camps, they would have realized it was neither Enrile’s nor Fidel Ramos’ nor Gringo’s whose name the people were shouting but Cory’s. Filipinos had no wish to be ruled by the military. They showed this in all the military-led coup attempts that followed Edsa 1.

    In the book, JoAl says he tried to warn the RAM against attempting to unseat Cory. They instead asked him to lead. “I explained to them that in a revolution, the reliance on arms is wrong. Ideals should propel a revolution. And over and above all of this, I said they could not go beyond what the people would tolerate.”

    His words fell on deaf ears. “Gringo no longer informed me of their succeeding plans. Seven coup attempts took place during the reign of Mrs. Aquino.”

    * * *

  3. #293
    Lawyering for the MILF?

    Randy David


    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:12 AM | Thursday, February 26th, 2015

    I cringed when, at one point in the final Senate hearing on the Mamasapano incident, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano glowered at government peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quintos Deles, and threw them the sarcastic question: “Whose interests are you representing in the negotiations with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front)?”

    One has to be able to summon enough forbearance and charity not to bristle or break down in the face of such verbal abuse. This is the kind of provocative questioning that, instead of making room for cogent arguments, drives reason into retreat. How is one supposed to react when each time you refuse to rush to judgment or form a conclusion on the basis of unverified reports, you are accused of lawyering for the enemy?

    These are professionals recruited by President Benigno Aquino III to find a solution to the long-festering armed conflict in Mindanao. Before she joined public service as peace adviser, Secretary Deles headed a peace institute and was part of a vigorous peace movement that grew in the wake of Edsa I. Chair Ferrer is a professor of political science with a rich field experience in postconflict East Timor. Both have solid grounding on peace issues.

    Deles and Ferrer may not be political combatants or courtroom gladiators, but they are no pushovers. I am sure that, if they wanted to, they would have been able to respond to Senator Cayetano’s acerbic interventions with fitting eloquence or dismissive disdain. To their credit, they controlled themselves. Senate hearings are not the right venue to tangle with politicians who like to think of themselves as the voice of the sovereign. The Senate is a seat of power, and the consciousness of that power distorts communication.

    To know this is to understand where the government peace panel is coming from. In both the House and Senate hearings, their principal concern has been to rescue the comprehensive peace agreement on the Bangsamoro and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law from the toxic fallout created by the Mamasapano tragedy. This means, in the first instance, managing the public outrage and hostility resulting from Mamasapano that is now directed against the government’s chosen peace partner, the MILF.

    Because of that unfortunate incident, the MILF has been called the vilest names: “terrorist coddlers,” “heartless barbarians,” “duplicitous savages,” and “cutthroats” and “terrorists” who have no right whatsoever to sit at the negotiating table with the government. These inflammatory labels resurrect and encapsulate all the unexamined pejorative beliefs that many harbor against Muslims and the Moro people. To the prejudiced, the video footage of armed men in rubber slippers brutally finishing off with powerful weapons the police troopers that strayed into “their” territory only offers gruesome confirmation of the nature of the feared “other.”

    All the doubts and apprehensions about giving more autonomy, more power, and more financial support to a local government run by the Moro people have come to a head as a result of this single incident. As we may note, the decision to be made is increasingly taking a binary form, an either/or proposition: to approve or to reject the Bangsamoro Basic Law as it is proposed.

    I am afraid that if such a vote were to be held today, the BBL would be roundly rejected. This is the political quagmire in which the peace agreement with the MILF now finds itself. It is a virtual minefield that must be navigated with extreme caution by the key players from both the government peace panel and the MILF.

    Strictly speaking, the MILF has no obligation to defend the BBL before the legislative and judicial bodies of the Philippine government. That is a function of the Office of the President, under whose authority the peace panel operates. The MILF has its own explaining and defending to do before the people of Muslim Mindanao. I doubt if getting a consensus is going to be easy for either party in the light of what has happened.

    Be that as it may, I am deeply impressed by the way Mohagher Iqbal, the chair of the MILF peace panel, carried himself at the Senate hearings. He was a picture of wisdom, restraint, dignity and depth. While he projected self-assurance, he never came out as arrogant. He knew he did not have to be there, yet he obliged every question with utmost politeness. He kept his cool, except for that one instance when, in the course of Senator Cayetano’s badgering about Marwan’s purported e-mail to his US-based brother detailing his links to the MILF, he sharply retorted: “It’s not my habit to read other people’s e-mail.”

    If the BBL still has some life left to it today, I would credit that mainly to Iqbal, a worthy spokesman not only of the Moro nation but also of all peoples fighting for self-determination. Imagine what it would have been like if, as a matter of principle, he had refused to appear before our legislators. That would have left Secretary Deles and Professor Ferrer to speak for the BBL. Then the two would have had to sound even more like lawyers for the MILF, defending the “enemy” at Mamasapano as a reliable peace partner. I can only imagine how such a spectacle would have driven our politicians to fits of patriotic fury.

    Some commentators cite the so-called “Stockholm Syndrome” (positive feelings for one’s abductors) to explain Deles’ and Ferrer’s refusal to echo the bigotry that characterizes so much of what has recently passed for public discourse in our political institutions. That is a lot of nonsense and an insult to the intelligence and love of country of these two courageous women.

    * * *

  4. #294
    Anti-BBL told: Run to SC


    Christian V. Esguerra and Christine O. Avendaño


    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    1:32 AM | Friday, May 22nd, 2015

    MANILA, Philippines–Critics of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may challenge it in the Supreme Court if they are convinced that it is unconstitutional, Malacañang said on Thursday.

    Even if in the Senate, the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes has found that Congress cannot just pass the BBL because the establishment of a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao requires the amendment or revision of the Constitution, the Palace is confident that it will pass a version of the BBL that can withstand scrutiny by the Supreme Court, according to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

    The House BBL committee passed the proposed basic law for a new autonomous region for Muslims in Mindanao on Wednesday.

    Coloma has no comment on the finding of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s committee, but he expressed optimism that the BBL that Congress would pass would conform to the Constitution.

    “It’s important that all provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law conform to the Constitution,” Coloma told reporters, noting that those who drafted the proposed law considered its constitutionality “from the start.”

    Critics of the BBL, however, will “have the opportunity to file a petition” questioning its constitutionality in the Supreme Court once the legislative process is completed by both houses of Congress, Coloma said.

    A provision injected at the last minute into the version of the BBL passed by the House panel would allow the new Bangsamoro region to expand to at least 10 other provinces.

    The new provision reads: “Any local government unit (LGU) or geographical area outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro, but which [is] contiguous to any of the component units of the Bangsamoro and within the area of autonomy identified in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, may opt to be part of the Bangsamoro by filing a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters of the interested LGU or geographical area.”

    Creeping expansion

    Coloma’s response was vague when asked about concerns that this “opt-in” provision could lead to a “creeping expansion” of the Bangsamoro region.

    “We should not deviate from our ultimate objective of achieving lasting peace that would lead to progress and stability in the Bangsamoro region and in the whole of Mindanao,” he said.

    Asked if the BBL could do without the opt-in provision to achieve “peace and stability” in the region, Coloma said the public should wait for the final version to be passed by the Senate and the House.

    “Perhaps it’s better to wait for the final decision of the House and the Senate because whatever they will pass and if this withstands legal challenges at the Supreme Court, this will be presented to the people and according to our Constitution, they have the sovereign will,” he said.

    “They’re the ones who will decide if [the BBL] would help achieve peace [in the Bangsamoro region]. We have faith that their decision is for lasting peace and development in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao.”

    9 senators

    In the Senate, Santiago urged the other senators “not to approve the BBL with haste,” cautioning that Congress, “acting only by [itself], cannot approve the BBL in its present form.”

    Santiago has submitted a 27-page draft report on the result of two hearings conducted by her committee on the BBL. She concluded in her committee report that Congress cannot just pass the BBL because the establishment of a new autonomous region for Muslims in Mindanao requires the amendment or revision of the 1987 Constitution.

    According to Santiago, nine senators have either signed or signified their intention to sign her draft committee report.

    Aside from Santiago, the other senators who have signed the report are committee vice chair Juan Edgardo Angara, and members Vicente Sotto III, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Aquilino Pimentel III, Cynthia Villar, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen. Lito Lapid.

    A staff member from the office of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, meanwhile, clarified that the senator has not yet signed Santiago’s report as the Inquirer reported on Wednesday. Guingona was still studying the committee report, according to the staff member.

    With Santiago’s committee done with its work, only the committee on local government headed by Marcos and the committee on unification and reconciliation headed by Guingona are left to complete the Senate’s BBL study.

    Sotto, who said he signed Santiago’s report because he agreed with her that the BBL has “constitutional problems,” believed that the BBL discussions in the Senate now “will further the deliberations on the constitutionality” of the proposed law.

    This was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who said the Senate could not ignore the constitutional issues raised in Santiago’s report. He stressed that the “best solution is to remove provisions that are unconstitutional.”

    Asked about the effect of Santiago’s report on the BBL discussions in the Senate, Cayetano said Santiago’s report, first of all, would slow down the discussions in the chamber.

    “Secondly, I don’t know if the Palace and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would accept the Senate version, but we won’t pass a version that could be stricken down by the Supreme Court,” he said.

    Three hurdles

    There are three hurdles to be cleared in passing the BBL, he said.

    First, he said, is reconciling the amendments proposed by the senators.

    Second, he said, is the floor deliberation on the report of Marcos’ committee.

    And the third, he said, is the reconciliation of the Senate and House versions of the bill.

    “I doubt that the version of the Senate will be very close to [that of] the House,” Cayetano said.

    ‘Warning flags’

    Santiago, in her statement, said the renaming of the BBL would not make the proposed law “any less objectionable unless Congress also revamps the bill to address numerous constitutional infirmities.”

    The House BBL committee renamed the bill Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

    Marcos said his committee would seriously consider the “warning flags” raised in Santiago’s report, noting that the report was based on “views expressed by the country’s foremost legal experts who took part in the Senate hearings.”

    “That report practically vindicates the meticulous scrutiny to which I am subjecting the draft BBL. We don’t want to pass the BBL only to have it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court later, then we’d be back to square one and all our efforts would be for nothing,” he said.

    This is the reason, he said, why the June 11 deadline set by Malacañang for the passage of the BBL is “irresponsible.” He stressed that his priority is to “get it right.”

    Malacañang wants the draft BBL passed by June to allow enough time for a plebiscite on the proposed Bangsamoro autonomy law.

    Comelec needs 6 months

    The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said that it needs at least six months to prepare for the plebiscite.

    James Jimenez, spokesman for the Comelec, said the election watchdog had no position yet on when the plebiscite should be held. He said the date would depend on when Congress would pass the proposed autonomy law.

    “It will also depend on the determination by the [full] commission of when is the best date to conduct the plebiscite,” Jimenez said.

    “Remember, it’s not only the Comelec that would decide on that… the law should state when the plebiscite will be held, what are the required preparations, among other things,” Jimenez said.

    He gave an assurance that whether the Bangsamoro plebiscite is held this year or early next year, it will not get in the way of the Comelec’s preparations for the 2016 presidential election.–With a report from Tina G. Santos

  5. #295
    From Esquire online - - -

    The Circumstantial Politics of Baby Boomers

    That Gloria Arroyo, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin are all baby boomers might not come as a surprise, yet nobody is talking about their age, which we must in order to understand why many world leaders share a similar intellectual trajectory.

    By LISANDRO CLAUDIO | Jan 24, 2017

    I used to find comparisons between Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump facile. Over the past few months, however, I have become convinced that both are fundamentally similar. Many comparisons have been made between the two: their implacable mouths, their misogyny, their hatred of critics, their undying devotion for an over-botoxed Kremlin autocrat. Yet nobody has talked about their age. Digong is 71 and the Donald is 70. Both belong to the baby boomer generation.

    In an article for Slate, Stephen Metcalf argues that, to understand Trump, one must view him in light of his generation. ?The boomers,? he notes, ?were anti-establishment; they were norm-perverters; they were publicity hounds; and in their perversions and hounding, they covered themselves in their own supposed valor by announcing themselves as valorous.?

    Rodrigo Duterte is also a product of this generation.

    Digong was born a year before the Philippines became an independent state, making him roughly as old as the state he leads. During his childhood, our leaders were trying to build a U.S.-style liberal democracy in Asia. It was a time of hope and excitement. The postwar blight notwithstanding, people looked forward to what an independent, democratic government would bring. This sense of hope would slowly erode as Duterte hit puberty.

    During his teenage years, Digong would have witnessed the emergence of a two-party system: Two ideologically indistinguishable parties, the Nacionalista and Liberal Parties, alternated with each other in occupying Malaca?ang. This system seemed stable, but its stasis hindered change and turned politics into a game of musical chairs for elites. Somebody was bound to challenge it.

    Duterte was 20 when Ferdinand Marcos became president and he was 26 upon the declaration of martial law. The Marcos period, what historian Vicente Rafael calls ?the long 1970s,? was a time of cultural and political ferment, when two radical narratives played out at the center of Philippine politics. On the right, you had Marcos?s movement for a ?New Society,? which sought to centralize state power by crushing elite opposition and leftwing radicalism. On the left, there was the Communist Party and its ?National Democratic? front organizations, which aimed to overthrow the state through peasant revolution.

    The great historian Eric Hobsbawm famously called the 20th century as an ?age of extremes,? noting that radical fascism and socialism became the major political forces of the period. For the Philippines, the long 1970s?which featured the fascist Marcos and the Stalinist CPP?was the perfect distillation of what Hobsbawm described.

    Rodrigo Duterte is a hybrid of Communist and Marcosian extremism.

    In the Lyceum, he studied under the Communist Jose Maria Sison and the crackpot Rizalista Jose David Lapuz, who was then flirting with Marxism. From Sison, Digong would likely have read the anti-American nationalist works of historians Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino. He may have even been introduced to Joma?s own thinking concerning the Philippines as being a ?semi-colony? of the United States. God only knows what he learned from Lapuz, who was eccentric even then.

    We know less about Digong?s experiences with Marcosianism. But his father was a member in the Marcos cabinet. And we now know, of course, that he abets historical revisionism and has fondness for Apo Lakay?s favorite presidential power: the ability to declare martial law.

    Duterte is not atypical of people his age. Baby boomer intellectuals have likewise flitted back and forth from Marx to Makoy. The historian Reynaldo Ileto has always expressed sympathy for peasant-based, socialist movements and is strident in his anti-Americanism. Yet even as he rhapsodized about subaltern revolutionaries in the 70s, he was working as a ghostwriter for Marcos?s history book. The journalist Rigoberto Tiglao was once a partisan of Communist ?National Democracy.? Recently, however, he has confused a strong state for a dictatorial state and has been waxing nostalgic about the tyrant he once fought. Unsurprisingly, both these boomer intellectuals have expressed support for our boomer president.

    Even our other early baby boomer president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, shares this intellectual trajectory. In the 1970s, the Communists considered her a progressive and would even consult her on economic policy. She was, in fact, so close to the Communists that the Party deployed a political officer to cultivate the relationship. Yet, prior to Duterte, it was GMA who first considered a return to Marcos-style martial rule. And she too pivoted to China after chafing from a US government that criticized her disdain for human rights (admittedly even more hypocritical then).

    Thus, her allegiance to Duterte stems not simply from convenience. Though more urbane, Arroyo is cut from the same boomer cloth.

    If Marcosianism and Communism opposed each other during the long 1970s, what allows these baby boomers to flirt with both? The answer lies in the fact that both extremes are authoritarian rejections of liberal democracy. Marcos and the Communists hated each other so much, because they competed for the same thing: dictatorial control over the Philippine state. Marcos succeeded; the Communists did not. But had the latter won their ?Philippine revolution,? they would have established a one-party state (as all victorious Communist parties have done).

    It is a not-so-subtle disdain for liberalism and democratic checks and balances that subtends the thinking of many boomers from the left, the right, and the various netherworlds in between. And this sensibility has now been enshrined in Digong?s cabinet, which consists of both Marcosians and Communists.

    Duterte's is an unconventional coalition. But it is also an unsurprising apotheosis of an extremist baby boomer politics that blossomed during the 1970s. In this sense, there is nothing new about Rodrigo Duterte. He is a blast from a very dangerous past.

    This column was prepared for a discussion on ?Peace, Human Rights, and Development in a State of Lawlessness? Miriam College to be held from January 30 to 31.

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