pnoy

War in the Palace

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IS THERE trouble brewing in Malacañang? With two camps running the Palace—the so-called Balay and Samar groups headed by Sec. Mar Roxas and Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa, respectively—the answer is a resounding YES.

It’s an odd marriage forged in 2010 during the election campaigns, a partnership that was immediately strained with the loss of Mar Roxas to Jejomar Binay in the race for Vice President. From then on the two camps barely managed to co-exist, engaging in minor scrapes and arguments every now and then on the handling of issues of national import. But that was before the PDAF scandal got out of the bag which put the whole administration in its biggest quandary.

The fragile relationship between the two camps have reportedly reached critical mass anew with President Aquino’s “I am no thief” speech, which aired on primetime television recently. Apparently, the idea of giving the speech was a unilateral decision made by the Roxas camp—a call made by the Liberal Party. This means Ochoa and company were against the speech which put PNoy on a defensive stance on the PDAF issue.

In hindsight, PNoy’s speech appeared to have had very little positive impact on the public perception that PNoy and company are equally liable in the PDAF scandal. If the intention was to disconnect PNoy from the PDAF fiasco and reinforce his “matuwid” image, the speech backfired. “Why deny involvement in the PDAF scam if you are not involved in it the first place?” Ochoa’s camp must have argued.
As it is, the PDAF scandal will involve lawmakers in both the opposition and administration camps. The present ploy of limiting the scandal to a handful of lawmakers is simply a means to buy the PNoy administration some time to figure a way out of the fiasco.

If there is a way out.

With the Senate Blue Ribbon failing to get a piece of testimony from Janet Lim-Napoles, it is clear that the PDAF scandal will be a long-drawn drama. It will take years before charges are filed against the guilty parties and even longer before the guilty are brought behind bars. PNoy and company do not care if the whole investigation process takes forever. Right now, they just need to survive until 2016.

What Is PNoy Up To?

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by Ramon Orosa

SOMETHING is happening in this nation that is not easy to understand or interpret. Most people are wondering what’s next. Others are also wondering how PNOY sees and/or interprets what is happening. Most of the opinions are not so salutary.

 

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When the protests began about the PDAF and began to reach a crescendo, the evident uncertainty of the Palace was discomforting. First was the kneejerk response of opposing the protest and defending PDAF. Then the position changed to being somewhere in the middle until the day of the protest when a declaration of support for the protest was made obviously to pre-empt the MPM protest march at Luneta.

Obviously, the responses suggested that the assessment was that the protests would somehow go away and that it should not be taken seriously. This was a mistake because what was hurt was PNOY’s own integrity. For someone who had planted on the masthead of his administration the “Matuwid na Daan”, his vacillation about truly pursuing the corruption exposed by the Commission on Audit report was disheartening to many people.
This revelation of such extensive malfeasance in the highest levels of the Legislative bodies and the Executive Departments, after the impeachment through somewhat dubious methods of the Chief Justice, sent tsunami-like waves over the whole nation. The ones who impeached Corona were guilty of even greater corruption! Proof once and for all that, with few exceptions, corrupt and dishonorable persons in just about every part of government are totally undeserving of any honor and have tainted so severely their positions. No delicadeza and they are still clinging to their posts, shameless if anything.

Remedial action was undertaken to try and pacify the protesters by inviting the somewhat motley leaders to a conference with the DBM head Butch Aquino and DSWD Sec. Soliman and a few others. It did not result in any real changes as was proven subsequently.

The people’s demands were essentially two. First, abolish the PDAF in both houses of Congress, meaning take away from them the power to initiate and control projects, their function being legislating. They are welcome to make suggestions, but cannot initiate projects on their own initiative. That work should be undertaken by the line departments and agencies with no overt or discreet interference.

Of course what resulted in the budgetary process was to simply change the collar around the pork but the initiative still rests with the individual legislator. In other words, sheer cosmetics, not substantive.
The second portion of the protesters demands was to charge everyone involved in the corruption, regardless of party affiliation. The report of the Commission on Audit indicated that over 200 legislators were somehow involved in the matter, some already out of Congress, many others still in. Well, up to now the charges have not been filed and it seems only three are being seriously considered at this time. The sad part is that legislators on both sides of the aisle are involved but PNoy is being true to his pursuit of only those that may represent a danger to him or else those that are in the opposition. So the protesters have given PNoy until sometime early December to file all the charges and otherwise prove that he is just like the other politicians and cannot stand on his declared slogan. He has been found seriously wanting. He may have a heart for the poor but all calculated for political gain.

I am not betting that with the exception of a very few samples, the others will be indicted at all. Again, it will be at the expense of PNoy’s integrity and commitment to doing the right thing! I suspect though that in formulating that slogan the ones who crafted his political postures never anticipated that all these revelations of corruption would ever be so public.

Next followed the Zamboanga incident and there are those that saw what happened as suspiciously orchestrated. Followed by PNoy’s physically staying in Zamboanga for a week, utterly neglecting all the other national concerns. Some interpret this as a somewhat escapist activity. Next came the earthquake in Bohol and so now PNoy is camping out in the area. This leaves a lot of people wondering that though the moves might have had some PR value, it did expose PNoy to accusations of limited capacity to undertake the stresses of office and face the very serious issues that need to be faced. So much for the people being the boss. Turns out to be sheer political blather.
These developments though smack of a very cynical sort of perception management considering the damage done to PNoy’s image by his waffling on the PDAF issue; protesters incidentally wanted the elimination of discretionary spending to be applied to what is tantamount to his own pork, a large percentage of the national budget at about 600 Billion of a 2 trillion budget, approved by a compliant Congress in 15 minutes as the media have reported.

Well, maybe not totally, but certainly much , much less than the current amount; the idea being let the amounts be allocated directly to the line departments who must give good account of how they spend it.
And so, PNoy’s principal slogans lie in tatters.

Well, I think it was naively undertaken and has proven virtually impossible to truly pursue. But it does raise issues about what is next. If the protests continue or if PNoy truly pursues the issue of corruption in the PDAF, he will have to deal as well with the claimed corruption in Malampaya funds, the Agriculture scam and a whole lot of others that have come to light.

Then, there is the corruption in many LGU units all the way down to the Barangay level. As I have commented before, we will probably need to enlarge our jails and holding places or else create a bonanza for hospitals as the favorite holding area of those who have some influence in this nation.

But this is not really the danger. If PNoy is pushed hard to the wall, what direction will he then take? We need the seers to come out and tell us what they see coming up next because I do not see the pressures abating.

Save The Philippines

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[By Al Labita]

BASED on Opinyon’s perceptions and social media surveys, the developing pattern of calls for change tilts towards those with a proven track record of integrity and competence outside the abominable dog-eat-dog world of politics.

Something’s Got to Give

At the rate the spate of crisis is laying siege on the three-year-old Aquino presidency, the betting is on whether it would last its six-year mandate. Unable to cope with the crushing pressures spawned by a harsh political climate, Pnoy appears to have lost his sense of control of a country teetering on the brink of becoming a failed state. As defined by Wikipedia, a failed state ensues when a central government becomes so weak or ineffective in stemming the rising tide of widespread corruption and a slumping economy. Another dimension of a failed state is erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions and inability to provide public services. Nowhere is such more exemplified than in Noam Chomsky’s book titled Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.

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Scary Scenarios

That, in a nutshell, seems foreboding and may be ascribed to the prevailing state of the nation. The emerging scenarios are dreadful – either Pnoy resigns or forced out office. Banking on self-serving popularity rating only whetted the pent-up public clamor for a drastic change in government, given the onslaught of street protests. Neither Pnoy’s propensity to play the blame game has helped him abate his sinking fate nor did it curb the likelihood of a mob rule in a country polarized by clashing vested interests. From his jailed predecessor Gloria Arroyo, Pnoy has now turned to media as his latest favorite whipping boy in heaping blame for his misfortunes in public office. Addressing mid this week foreign journalists, he warned them against falling prey into a conspiracy trap meant to link him to the pork scam.

Conspiracy

“Our media and our people are far too good—far too wise—to be grossly and brazenly led to the wrong issue, Pnoy said. “Plunderers should be taken to account,” he added, a stance only eliciting mixed views from hard-nosed newsmen.

Though Aquino enjoys the backing of the men in uniform, past bitter lessons showed how they hastily abandoned and dumped the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his predecessors Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo when their hold on power was no  longer tenable in the face of mounting public outcry over corruption scandals.
Whether such tragic ending would eventually befall on Aquino remains to be seen as the country’s political complexion remains highly fluid.
While anything can happen, one thing is sure – Pnoy can’t keep his guards down.

Highly Divisive

Undoubtedly, the highly divisive pork barrel scam has sapped Pnoy’s political will to govern and only exacerbated the people’s loss of trust in him. This early, egging on the 53-year-old bachelor president to quit is like asking for the moon as most lawmakers in both houses of Congress had been exposed as Aquino’s paid hacks through the pork barrel system, the reason why calls for impeachment against him landed on deaf ears. Contrary to his self-projected image as an “incorruptible” president, Pnoy has already gained notoriety for resorting to money politics as evidenced by how he plotted the ouster of then chief justice Renato Corona. So far,   there’s no palpable sign as yet on who the people would prefer to succeed Pnoy should current tensions lead to an abrupt end to his six-year reign in power. By operation of law, Vice president Jejomar Binay is next in line, but not necessarily as he has to reckon with the distortions and aberrations of the country’s political history. If we recall, the late senator Arturo Tolentino as the “duly-elected” vice president was supposed to succeed Marcos following the fraud-marred snap polls.

Quirks in Politics

But due to unknown quirks in politics, an unexpected civilian-backed 1986 military revolt intervened, catapulting then plain housewife Corazon Aquino to power notwithstanding her hesitance and inexperience. As in the case of the late democracy icon, an unlikely figure may yet emerge if the current pressure-packed political scene persists.

Who Could She/He Be?

Scanning the horizons, the people are understandably sick and tired of recycling the scalawags in politics – the old and new trapos. Topping the list are the two highly respected captains of the industry – Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ramon S. Ang, both at the helm of publicly listed consumer-oriented conglomerates. Like Pangilinan, Ang faced challenges in turning around San Miguel Corp. (SMC) from an inward-looking company to one of today’s formidable Asian corporate behemoths.

Risks

From traditional lines of business anchored on beer, packaging and food, SMC has diversified to cost-intensive strategic industries in what analysts described as a “calculated risk” in a highly competitive environment. Adding power, mining, telecoms, oil, aviation and other related ventures to SMC’s investment portfolio had paid off in that these broadened the conglomerate’s market base, both locally and internationally. Thanks to Ang’s bold forays, SMC has been raking in record-breaking revenues which currently translate to about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, a corporate feat indeed for a homegrown conglomerate. Under Ang’s stewardship, SMC has set its sight on achieving what had long remained on its drawing board – whopping revenues of U$50 billion by 2018 as it plans to acquire new businesses and expand existing ones. By and large, the target is nearly three times what SMC made in 2011, when it ended the year with US$17.5 billion in turnover. Known for his management prowess, Ang initially pegged a US$20 billion revenue target for 2015 but revised it upward in that by end of 2012, the conglomerate had already achieved its goal.

Singapore and Thailand

“Before, when we set a target of US$10 billion, people said, ‘That’s unbelievable!’ But we were able to achieve that. It happened. So that’s why we increased our target. From US$20 billion, we are hoping to reach US $50 billion revenue in the next 5 years,” Ang told reporters.

An engineer by training, he led SMC last year in acquiring management control of the financially ailing Philippine Airlines (PAL) from the group of taipan Lucio Tan. From then on, the nation’s flag carrier underwent rapid changes, including a refleeting program estimated to cost SMC over US$1 billion in capital expenditure to sharpen its competitiveness in the global airline industry. Part of the deal includes PAL subsidiary Air Philippines, a budget airline. Critics may quickly hint of a possible conflict of interest should the tycoons take over the reins of power, an irritant that can be overcome in due time in a democratic setting. Though largely untested, technocracy, as evidenced by the country’s rapid corporate growth, may yet be the key to solving the nation’s decades-old problems of poverty, inequality and dispossession.

Singapore is a case in point. Most of its current crop of leaders — from the prime minister to cabinet members – was plucked out from the corporate sector and became popularly elected. With the stringent values of fiscal, ethics and management disciplines learned from their previous profit-driven businesses, they managed to transform the island city-state from what was once a “basket case” in the early ‘50s to a prosperous nation today with one of highest per capita incomes in Asia. Neighboring Thailand is another example, whose prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, comes from a family of corporate elites, the key drivers of the country’s rapid economic growth. Previously, her brother Thaksin, a tycoon, also served as prime minister.
In the Philippines, however, any sudden paradigm shift in a volatile and highly charged political atmosphere can be tumultuous, if not bloody.

What’s With PNoy?

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by: Ramon Orosa

SO PNoy went to Zamboanga to try and put an end to the conflict. After one week, he’s back in Manila, but though reduced, the fighting has not ended. Somehow, his “visit” to Mindanao has raised questions although even prior to his visit, other questions were already being raised.

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For example, the MPM and all the brouhaha about government and the malfeasance of legislators high and low and the assemblies to protest and keep the pressure to ensure that PNOY follows his own slogan of “Matuwid na Daan”. The peoples” demand is that PNoy applies the demand for accountability before the bar of justice across the board, meaning allies and foes alike, seeking not just examples to prosecute but to have hailed to court any and all involved within 100 days as his sign of sincerity if he is truly allied with the MPM as his minions have declared although there is a strong sentiment that that was no more than an attempt to preempt the MPM march.

Some have suggested that a diversionary tactic had to be created. The problem is that as I had it recounted to me, two weeks before the Zamboanga problem started, a senior ranking military official had already indicated that indeed such a development would take place in Mindanao without being area specific. #OpinYon #opinion

read cont | http://bit.ly/15Ictyo

Poor Pinoy, Rich PNoy

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By Antonio J. Rosales

NO Filipino should be poor. 

With the government preparing a national budget of PhP2.268 trillion for 2014, every single Filipino (given a total population of 95.8 million) should expect to get PhP226,680 in services.

With the government awash in cash, no Filipino should go hungry or suffer the indignity of being unemployed, uneducated and homeless. But to the common Juan living in the cardboard cities of Manila, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Global Competitiveness

This two trillion budget, raised mostly from taxes, may be the reason foreign rating groups rate the country positively—as being attractive to foreign investments.

Just last week, a report by the World Economic Forum showed the country jumping six spots up the global competitive rankings, placing 59th among 148th countries this year.

The Philippines jumped six spots in the global competitiveness ranking, placing 59th among 148 countries this year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said Wednesday.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 said the country’s ranking improved from 65th place among 144 economies last year and according to the Makati Business Club, the Philippines has actually climbed 28 places since 2010.

The WEF report showed the Philippines coming sixth out of 10 nations in the Asean following the addition of Laos (89th place) and Myanmar (139th).  Surprisingly, the country also outranked India which slid to the 60th spot this year. (Singapore, ranked second in the world, is tops in the region while Indonesia became the biggest gainer, rising 12 notches to 38th).

U.S. Optimism

Two weeks ago, the results of a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AmCham Philippines) and the US Chamber of Commerce also showed the Philippines in a positive light.

In a poll of 475 senior executives from US companies operating across the region, satisfaction in the Philippines increased in 14 of 16 business factors, led by a 50 percent increase in satisfaction with the stability of government and political system. A majority of US firms also showed satisfaction with the availability of trained personnel—the highest in the Asean region.

As with the WEF report, the AmCham Philippines survey also showed Singapore as the best country in the region to do business with given the its low levels of corruption, sufficient infrastructure and predictable laws and regulations.

Singapore’s strengths are the Philippines weaknesses, though.

Despite loud claims by Philippine officials of containing  corruption, US business leaders still see widespread corruption, lack of infrastructure and the tax system as the main deterrents to foreign investment.

Unemployment

Even as surveys showed robust economic growth on the one hand, this failed to offset unemployment figures as joblessness rose to 7.5% in April from last year’s 6.9 percent, this according to a Labor Force survey by the National Statistics Office (NSO).

While the economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2012, this was offset by the huge dip in Philippine employment.  Offering an explanation, the National Economic and Development Authority said the unemployment rate increased due to a lower level of employment amid a slightly higher labor force level.  Majority of the unemployed were high school graduates (31.7 percent), college graduates (21.3 percent) and college undergraduates (14.6 percent).

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