June 2010

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

At high noon last June 30, 2010, President Benign “Noynoy” Aquino III was sworn in as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines. Swept to victory on a campaign for “Pagbabago” (Change) and a message of “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (If there is no corruption, there is no poverty), Noynoy garnered the highest percentage of votes since the end of the Marcos dictatorship. Indeed, it was a clear mandate for change and rejection of the culture of corruption spawned during the nine and a half years of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s tumultuous presidency.

In a symbolic demonstration of change, Noynoy made changes to the way he was inaugurated as the country’s leader for the next six years. Gone are the long speeches. Gone are the inaugural parades. Gone are the pompous inaugurals balls. Instead there was a “street party” at the Quezon Memorial Circle in the evening. It was a people’s celebration of the dawn of a new era of Pagbabago. The austere cost of the inauguration signified the frugal tone of his presidency. He shunned the glamour of regal living in Malacañang Palace and settled for a simple place of abode  — the one-bedroom Bahay Pangarap (Dream House) located at the Presidential Security Group compound across the Pasig River from Malacañang.

The recently announced cabinet lineup includes new faces that emote the spirit of Pagbabago as well as experienced and proven executives who would see to it that this government would hit the ground running on Day One. After his swearing-in, Noynoy gave a stirring 20-minute speech where he crystallized his fight against corruption. He said, “Ang sinumang nagkamali ay kailangang humarap sa hustisya” (Those who erred must face justice). And to make his point clear, he said: “To those who are talking about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice.” Yes, indeed.

He promised to review the “midnight appointments” of former president Arroyo and to clean up the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs of corruption to increase revenues.

After leading the “Pamata ng Pagbabago” (Pledge for Change) with the people, Noynoy was honored by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as their new Commander-in-Chief. After that he motored to Malacañang to preside over his first cabinet meeting.

New Beginning

Noynoy’s ascendancy manifests a new beginning for a country beset with crises and whose constitution has been changed so many times that nothing seems to work anymore. Since 1987 when the constitution was changed last in the aftermath of the first “people power” revolution of 1986, several attempts were made to amend it but failed. Noynoy doesn’t have to change the constitution to implement the changes he wants. All he needs is the will power that would give him the strength and determination to withstand the resistance from the defenders of status quo.

He promised to fight corruption and end poverty. Can he do it? In my article, “Rx for Poverty and Corruption” (Dec. 9, 2005), I wrote: “Someone once said, ‘The human being is corrupt by nature and therefore corruption cannot be eradicated completely.’ I do not agree with the generalization that ‘the human being is corrupt by nature.’ I believe that the human being is inherently honest; however, the temptation to commit corruption is always present. And if undeterred, corruption becomes a way of life, particularly for those who hold positions of authority. Then it becomes the standard for doing business, not only in the public sector but also in the private sector.”

Noynoy plans to create an independent commission to investigate and prosecute corruption cases during the Arroyo administration. He calls it the “Truth Commission” and it will be headed by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. Ironically, it was Davide who swore in Gloria as president after Joseph Estrada was deposed in January 2001. Would he remain impartial and fair as the “Grand Inquirer” investigating Gloria’s alleged corruption?

New Hope

So far, the people like what Noynoy said about fighting corruption and ending poverty. Indeed, there is sense of “new hope” that, finally, things are going to change… for the better. It’s a Herculean task for Noynoy, but it is doable.

A study made by Management Systems International in Washington, DC, in 2003, has concluded: “Corruption has direct consequences on economic and government factors, intermediaries that in turn produce poverty.” The study produced two models. On the one hand, the “economic model” postulates that corruption affects poverty by first impacting economic growth factors, which, in turn, impact poverty levels. In other words, “Increased corruption reduces economic growth which would increase poverty.” On the other hand, the “government model” asserts that corruption affects poverty by first influencing governance factors, which, in turn, impact poverty levels. In other words, “Increased corruption reduces governance capacity which would increase poverty.”

High Expectations

What is needed is a sustained effort to prosecute corrupt officials — ruthlessly, expeditiously, and judiciously. Ruthlessly it must — take no prisoners. Expeditiously it must — justice delayed is justice denied. And judiciously it must — the court must be free of interference, from within and without. It should be incorruptible and “untouchable.”

Can Noynoy do it? Absolutely. But would the Supreme Court cooperate? With the Chief Justice and nine associate justices perceived to be indebted — “utang na loob” — and partial to Arroyo, it remains to be seen if Noynoy could put a closure to corruption cases involving the Arroyos and others. The High Court could be the Arroyos’ “Court of Final Redemption.”

Noynoy should set the tone of his presidency in the first 100 days. The fight against corruption must start on Day One. If he is truly keen about eradicating corruption and poverty, as he promised, then there must be discipline at all levels of the government. He must relentlessly pursue the real truth — not the “manufactured” truth — and prosecute those who have stolen from the people.

Old Dream

Noynoy concluded his inaugural speech by saying: “The people who are behind us dared to dream. Today, the dream starts to become a reality.” Indeed, it’s a dream as old as the First Republic when Filipinos declared their independence from Spain in 1896. That dream has eluded us as we fall prey to the dominion of corrupt governments.

Noynoy’s presidency ushers in a new beginning of Pagbabago and ignites hope that our dream would soon become a reality. After hearing his inaugural speech, I’m convinced that Noynoy has what it takes to fight corruption. “My parents sought nothing less and died for nothing less than democracy, peace and prosperity. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward,” he said.

Carry on Noynoy, lead and the people would be right behind you.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

by Lito Banayo
from MALAYA

‘Aquino means well, and he means to do what is right. He has to keep his sacred bond with his parent’s memory.’ — Lito

PERRY Diaz, the Fil-Am journalist who regularly gives internet users his Global Balita, has come out with a regaling tale about a document found under the mattress of the First Couple’s bed. A note was attached to the document, saying: “To be published after I step down”.

Tomorrow, she will step down, and as we all await Benigno S. Aquino’s first formal address as the new president of the benighted land, let me publish in this space Perry’s “Adios”, hopefully ultimo, allegedly by Gloria (with a little editing).

Farewell, my Inang Bayan, land of the morning sun,

Pearl of the Orient Sea, Paradise lost.

With gladness I gave you my life,

With sadness I leave you now.

I made a lot of promises,

Some of which I kept.

I promised to end poverty,

But in the end, the poor are eating pagpag.

I promised to stop corruption,

But in the end, power corrupted me.

I promised to end the communist insurgency,

But in the end, Delfin Bangit failed to end it.

I promised to create jobs,

But in the end, 3,000 Filipinos leave everyday to look for jobs abroad.

I promised to end the deficit,

But in the end, I left Noynoy with a P340 billion deficit.

I wish I was more honest,

But instead I became too greedy.

I wish I had served the interest of the people better,

But instead I served my own best interests.

I wish I listened to my critics,

But instead I listened to my husband, Mike.

I tried to improve the economy,

But instead only the oligarchs and my friends benefited from it.

I tried to govern with integrity, credibility, and accountability,

But instead the people called me the “Most Corrupt President in Philippine History.”

I asked the people what they want,

And they said, “Return the money you stole.”

I asked the people to give me another chance to make good my promises,

But they said, “Alis dyan!”

I dreamed of transforming the country into an enchanted kingdom in 20 years,

But the people said, “No way, that’s too long for you to stay in power. Go away!”

I wanted to amend the constitution by way of a people’s initiative to stay in power,

But Justice Antonio Carpio penned a ruling rejecting the people’s initiative petition.

I wanted to change the constitution by way of a Constituent Assembly,

But Cory Aquino passed away and nobody would dare change her constitution.

I planned to stay in power by other means,

But Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales bungled the job.

I put up my own candidate for president,

But my “kiss of death” killed Gibo Teodoro’s candidacy.

When Gibo appeared to be losing I supported another candidate secretly,

But the media discovered it and exposed my “secret candidate,” Villarroyo.

I appointed 250 midnight appointees,

Hoping that they’ll be there when I needed them.

I appointed a Chief Justice, midnight style,

Hoping that he’ll be kind to me when my plunder cases reach the Supreme Court.

I promoted the government lawyers and made their jobs permanent and secure,

Hoping that they’d be indebted to me and kinder when they’re prosecuting me.

I got all the bases covered,

Including a castle in Portugal where I can go to exile if I have to.

And now the end is near,

With heavy heart I leave thee, my Inang Bayan.

I lived a life that’s full,

I had fun spending P3 billion in 107 foreign junkets.

Regrets I’ve had a few,

My biggest regret is that I failed to stay in power longer.

I bit off more than I could chew,

However, I enjoyed every bit of it (especially dining at Le Cirque).

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried,

And I’ll miss all the games I played with the generals.

And now as tears subside,

I’m glad I survived it all.

The record shows I took the blows,

But I hit back with all my strength.

For what is a woman what has she got,

If not her moolah then she has none.

And so I face the final curtain,

I say this to all my enemies – to hell with you all!

Yes! I did it my way.

Oooh…oooh…Let history go hang.

***

Tomorrow the nation will witness, for the first time in twelve years, a duly-elected, a truly-elected president being sworn-in. The speech, as announced, will be short. This after all is not a man given to empty eloquence. But they will be words straight from his heart. He means well, and he means to do what is right. He has to keep his sacred bond with his parent’s memory.

Sure, he may falter in the way of fulfilling everybody’s great expectations. Rome was not in a night built. Rebuilding shattered institutions takes time and plodding patience. Renewing the public trust in governance so badly run will also take time. But let us keep the faith. For as long as the new president keeps his personal integrity intact, and exacts the same from the men and women he appoints to office, the new beginning will find a happy ending.

***

(banayo_at@yahoo.com)

(atbanayo.blogspot.com)

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

If President-elect Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) is to cross the threshold into being a great national leader – not just be a good president – then it will require more on his part than just addressing the problems of poverty and corruption.

If by 2016 P-Noy reduces to half the number of Class E households and if he also reduces corruption to tolerable levels – he will be remembered as a good president for curbing corruption and for improving the lives of many of the poorest Filipinos. But that will not guarantee his place in history as a great national leader.

Solving the current problems of a country is simply good governance and not necessarily the hallmark of greatness. A great national leader is one who solved the deeply rooted problems of the nation in such a way that ensures the long term development and the improvement of people’s lives as well as the promotion of nationalism. More than the solving of our current problems – it is the reversing of the counterproductive culture and mindsets that perpetuate the imbalance and exploitation in Philippine society which will make P-Noy a great national leader in history.

A good P-Noy presidency can easily be removed from national memory by a series of succeeding corrupt and inept presidencies. It is after P-Noy succeeds to instill a new productive national culture and mindset, which will henceforth prevent the ascendancy to power of corrupt and inept leaders, when he can be truly regarded in history as a great national leader.

As seen from the example of two of the world’s greatest leaders – Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi – it is the ENLIGHTENMENT of a people that is the single biggest hallmark of leadership greatness. Gandhi did not really improve the economic conditions of his people during his era. In truth, Gandhi’s greatness had transcended quantification. It is measured more by the national soul which he had bequeathed to his nation.

Many of our countrymen become prey and victims because they don’t know and understand the dynamics of their exploitation. Most Filipinos do not even know the guilty parties that placed them in their sorry state and they even commit the mistake of electing their exploiters, time and again, to public office.

Filipino ENLIGHTENMENT can only come after Filipinos know their real history, after they know their real friends and enemies. The People Power legacy of P-Noy’s father and mother was almost forgotten because Filipinos have a very shallow sense of history and failed to contextualize the People Power legacy in their present lives and how it can improve their future.

If we are to truly emancipate our people – then we must teach our people their real history in the way history should be taught. Note how Filipinos can remember historical dates, the persons who figured in historical events and the general idea of the historical event. The problem is aggravated by pretenders who posture to explain history but only manage to share trivia that few Filipinos are interested to know – trivia that do not facilitate the forming of the big picture.  

Many of our countrymen fail to realize, know and understand the significance of the historical events as these relate to their present conditions. History to most Filipinos is simply the narration of many past events but they fail to contextualize their predicament with their nation’s past.

To attempt to rectify this situation, the Eminent Professor Emmanuel Q. Yap formed the PPM (People’s Patriotic Movement) in order to promote Filipino awareness of our historical truth. The PPM aims to remove the biggest stumbling block to Filipino national greatness and facilitate the flowering of Filipino nationalism and patriotism. Their objectives are as follows:

1. Rewrite the history books being taught in all levels of Philippine education in order to make every Filipino learn and internalize his country’s real history. Prof. Yap has the library with which to research the historical truth.

2. Reform the way we teach history where dates and names are remembered but the significant lessons of history are hardly understood and internalized by Filipinos. Filipinos must be reconciled with their past, understand how their past shaped their present and how knowing the past is the key to their better future.

3. The teaching of history must have a return on investment and this is to make Filipinos proud of their roots, culture, national identity and their heritage. They should be inspired to be nationalistic and patriotic.

If you want to be a successful businessman, the first thing that you’ll do is to study the history of the market where you’re planning to participate, the brand histories of your rivals and the consumer behavioral patterns. If you’re a doctor and you want to cure a sick person, the first thing that you’ll do is to learn the medical history of your patient.

Here we keep returning to the same problems, albeit with a respite now and then from inept and corrupt leadership. Unlike China which had a Deng Xiao Ping to correct the national socialist mindset, we never really had such a national leader to positively reform our counterproductive culture, values and mindsets.

If P-Noy wants to attain greatness by being the leader who enlightened his benighted nation – then he must teach all Filipinos their real history. P-Noy must teach the historical truth which will set every Filipino free – not the history our former colonial rulers wanted us to know and not the history that bad past Filipino leaders polluted and corrupted in order to conceal their treachery.

Only the historical truth will unite our nation and allow it to withstand the pressures from powerful states like the US and China that have taken a keen interest in our natural resources and strategic location which are vital for projecting imperial power in this region. Sans the historical truth to unite us, the powerful states can easily divide us and then exploit us.

                                                                        * * *

Chair Wrecker email and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Theres The Rub
by Conrado de Quiros
from Philippine Daily Inquirer
  
DOUBTLESS, YOU HAVE BEEN DELUGED BY letters of late, some of them not entirely lacking in class, such as the one your Vice President wrote you last week. I hope you don’t mind yet another, from someone who was inspired to see you as the right person to run for president and remains inspired to see you as the right president to run for glory.

I understand that you’ve been hurt by some of my comments these past weeks. What can I say? The truth has been known to make one fret before it makes one free. Truth at least as I see it, which I grant is as imperfect as they come even if my attempts to capture it come straight from the heart. I can only propose that the country’s hurts take precedence over individual hurts, including those of the President. Certainly over those of the candidates who lost; the country cannot be held hostage to their hurts.
I remember how a few months ago, Gloria’s people begged the press to be a little kinder to her as she bid the world farewell. I said then that the only way I could think of to be kind to her was to rid her of her delusions. Truth shall make her whole, even if it shall also make her hang. I figure the only people who have a right to mind being told the truth are the dying—and the more courageous among them always prefer it to being fed false hopes. In any case, the point is not to be kinder to those who are leaving, it is to be kinder to those they are leaving—especially after they have left them utterly devastated.

What applies to an outgoing leader applies to an incoming one. The point is not to be kinder to the new ruler, it is to be kinder to the old ruled.

I know we all need words of encouragement, particularly when we’re about to embark on an epic journey, or when we’re just new to the job. We all have our anxieties, our worries, our insecurities. Be assured that you will not want for them from me. My hopes and best wishes go with you alongside those of the country. But it is one thing to encourage, it is another to fawn. I can only hope that while you draw strength from the affirmations of your circle, you do not repose your future, and that of the nation, on those who have the capacity only to tell you how astounding you are, how unerring you are, how infallible you are. Yes-men can only lead to no good.

As for me, I am not a subaltern, I am a journalist. I am not a team player, believing as I do that the best team players are lemmings who throw themselves over a cliff in unison, chanting “If We Hold On Together.” I remember how in “A Man For All Seasons,” Thomas More told his king, “I am your loyal servant, but God’s first.” I am no saint, but I’d like to paraphrase More and tell my president, “I am your loyal subject, but the Inquirer’s first.”

Doubtless you have been deluged by unsolicited advice of late, not least from people who presume to know how to win the people’s hearts and minds even if they do not know how to win their votes. I hope you don’t mind yet another, from someone who has contributed in his own way to ridding this country of a seemingly unriddable pest and ushering in an eminently usherable pest controller.

That is that in lieu of listening to unsolicited advice, you listen to the voice in your heart, you listen to the voice of Edsa, you listen to the voice of the people. Three ways of saying one and the same thing.

Not least by listening to the voice of the people as they have sounded it in the candidates they’ve voted for. The people are not fools. There is a collective wisdom in them, even if that wisdom manifests itself, like God’s own, in mysterious ways. The voice of the people is the voice of God in more ways than that it is the majority decision; it is so in that it sends a message to those they put in office about their deepest needs and aspirations.

If they voted for Erap once, it is because they saw in him the hope of plucking them out of poverty. If they voted for you now, it is because they see in you the hope of breaking the yoke they have felt around their necks all these years. They may be wrong about the people they assign the task to, but they are right about the task.

If they did not vote for the people they did not vote for, it is because they saw them as hopeless.

I truly hope you become a listening president. While that is advisable for all presidents, it is imperative on your part. It was Edsa that birthed you, it was Edsa that made you win. It is Edsa you owe your power to and not the brilliance everyone craving a position in your government now claims to have shown in the campaign, a claim refuted by the fact that they have to draw a magnifying glass to it for it to be seen.

I can understand the fear and trepidation that high expectations bring. But that is the burden of Edsa as much as its blessing. Today is a joyous day not just because evil is leaving but because good is coming in. If only for that, Easter comes in June. The country has not just stepped out of Bilibid after nine years, it expects to win the lottery, too. The vastness of the sigh is matched only by the vastness of the high. It is daunting, I grant. But you have the people with you, you have the people believing in you, you have the people willing to go to the ends of the earth for you. Trust in them and their power and they will see you through.

Edsa will see you through.

Lastly, you told me once that though you were not as pious as your mother, you shared in her embrace of Christian principles. I hope that as you gaze at the sorry spectacle of people jostling each other to be near you, quite apart from the glorious spectacle of the people turning out like a flood to greet you, you will find it in your heart to say: “The first shall be last, and the last first.”

God go with you. Make the country proud.

Theres The Rub
by Conrado de Quiros
from Philippine Daily Inquirer
 

The expectations aren’t just coming from inside the country, they’re coming from outside. The cab drivers in Singapore show so. Many of them surprisingly know a good deal about the Philippines, not least its recent developments. Well, many of them surprisingly show a good deal of schooling, though I guess the only real surprise there is why I should be surprised. This is Singapore after all.

“Do you think Aquino will make your country better?” they ask. “The question almost assumes a positive answer. Not least because for all the attempts of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to project herself as the most respected global leader her country has produced, she is held in little regard, if not in much contempt, elsewhere. They know about the corruption. Pretty much any leader coming after her carries with him an expectation of doing better. “Aquino” moreover is a name well known even to cab drivers elsewhere, courtesy of Corazon. Except for one cab driver who thought Ferdinand Marcos was the greatest leader the Philippines has ever had (this is Singapore, after all too), most everyone thought Cory was it.

When they learn Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is her son, they ask, “Do you think Aquino will make your country better?” The question almost assumes a positive answer. I give a positive answer: “Yes, he can.”

My mind adds, “Yes, he should.”

You cannot be in Singapore and not be filled with a desire to think big. You cannot be in Singapore and not be filled with raging questions about why we cannot clean our country up physically as much as politically (the greenery is awe-inspiring), why we cannot drive, transportation-wise as much as government-wise, without getting in other people’s way, why we cannot turn our country into a thing that literally as much as figuratively gleams from afar. Long before Barack Obama said, “Yes, we can,” the Singaporeans said so, a conviction that carried with it heroic resolve alongside a heroic sense of capability.

Yes, they could. Yes, they have.

It is not merely out of loyalty for my country, or my president, that I say, “Yes, he can.” I believe it. Quite simply, I cannot see why he cannot. Well, maybe I do, but I figure the inconvenience will prove to be temporary, he will realize in time the clique he has reposed his absolute trust in cannot. Maybe he cannot bring the Philippines to a state anywhere near Singapore, but he sure as hell, or heaven, can bring it less far from it. Or indeed less far from our Southeast Asian neighbors, all of which have zoomed past us and left us biting their dust.

My conviction comes from two things. One is that he has the obligation. And two is that he has the power.

Anyone who has been birthed by People Power has a duty to the people who gave him the power to make their lives better. And Noynoy came to power on the wings of an Edsa, notwithstanding that his Edsa took the form of taking to the polls rather than taking to the streets.

It was the procession that brought Cory to her final resting place that brought Noynoy to the threshold of his destiny. It was the clamor of the people for him to run, showed in numbers so fantastical not even Erap got them in his prime, that began Noynoy’s destiny. It was the people descending like a horde on the polling stations, like they once, or twice, did at the Edsa Shrine, waiting for hours under the glare of an angry sun to embrace a new hope that realized Noynoy’s destiny. Different clothes, same Edsa.

Noynoy can make things better. He has to. He owes it to the people.

And anyone who has been anointed by People Power has it in his power to do it. During the campaign, Noynoy’s rivals kept saying he wasn’t a leader, they were so. I asked then and I ask now: What is a leader? And my answer then and now is: A leader is one whom others follow.

A leader is not merely one who has skills, vision, and doggedness. If that were so, then Arroyo would have been a leader, having the skills to be in power, having the vision to remain in power, having the doggedness to cling to power. A leader is one whom others follow, which is also to say that he is one who has the skills that serve others, who has a dream others share, who has the capacity to bring others to unite to pursue that dream with fire and passion. That is Noynoy.

The potential at least is there. He is the one who has the power to serve the people, the dream to inspire the people, the legacy to bring the people together. The people did not make him president because of his charisma, because of his political achievements, because of the company he keeps. The people made him president because he embodies a dream, for which they are willing to follow him to the ends of the earth.

We have seen what the people can do when they are moved to bestir themselves. We saw that in the aftermath of “Ondoy” when, without thought of reward, without expectation of recognition, and without waiting to be told, Filipinos, young and old, male and female (and gay), rich and poor, rose as one to help others begin life anew. We saw that in the midst of the campaign when, without waiting to be told, though many probably hoped at least for some recognition, Filipinos, young and old, male and female (or gay), rich and poor rose as one to make Noynoy president. We see that in the dawning of a new day when, for reasons that have little to do with expectation of reward or recognition or a clique’s paranoid desire to make sure outsiders do not get access to the president without their permission, Filipinos, young and old, male and female (or gay), rich and poor, demand to be at the Luneta Wednesday to see the sun rise at noon.

There are no limits to what a people unbound can do. There are no limits to what a president unbound can do.

Noynoy can.

Noynoy should.

ON DISTANT SHORE
by Val G. Abelgas
 
There was a report from the Philippine Central Bank (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) last week that caught my attention. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo warned that money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has peaked and may soon plateau.

Guinigundo said remittances have breached a very large base, leading to a situation wherein the growth of inflows was stabilizing at the mid-single digit levels of between 5 percent and 6 percent.

“Probably a few years ago we were seeing base effects, but I think at this point when you have close to $15 billion to $17 billion—and its going to about $19 billion to $20 billion—I think we have reached some critical number,” Guinigundo said.

“While the economy should not depend exclusively on OFW remittances, the best policy option is “precisely to maximize whatever we can in terms of our overseas workers providing remittances from abroad,” he said.

The statement of Guinigundo immediately rang alarm bells in my mind. A few months ago, David Paraiso, chairman of the Halthcare Coalition Institute and an statistics buff, during a forum organized by the US Pinoys for Noy-Mar, issued the same warning – that the Philippines faces a big problem down the road because remittances from overseas Filipinos, particularly those from the United States, will eventually drop significantly.

He cited, for example, that because of tighter immigration policies, the number of Filipinos immigrating to the US have gone down drastically and that the Filipinos who are already in the US will soon retire and will soon have less money to send home. At the same time, he said, the new generation of Filipinos in the US will have very weak ties to their relatives in the homeland and will not be expected to send money home.

While the foreign remittances have grown by about 5 to 6 percent in the last few years, with overseas Filipinos sending home a whopping $17.1 billion in 2009, about half of them coming from US-based Filipinos, some economic experts have noted that dollar remittances from the US have significantly gone down by as much as 25 percent at one point in 2008. This was, however, offset by remittances from the Middle East. But how long can the Middle East pace keep up with the dwindling remittances from the US, they asked.

The remittances have been so huge, they comprised from 10 to 13 percent of the country’s gross national product (GNP).

We all know, of course, that it is the OFW remittances, more than anything else, that have been propping up the country’s economy since the 80s. Overseas labor has been the Philippines’ top dollar earner since the early 80s and has outpaced exports by at least 15 percentage points. The annual increase in overseas Filipinos’ dollar remittances have continued to keep the country’s GNP growth rate to the 5 to 6% level, and recently has raised the value of the Philippine peso vis-à-vis the US dollar, which elated Arroyo no end, she declared again that the Philippine economy has begun its take-off and was definitely on track to her goal of bringing the “Enchanted Kingdom” to the Philippines and making the country a first world country in 2010.

Obviously, despite the continuing rise in dollar remittances, other sectors of the economy have not kept pace, leaving the country way off first world status and making the country the “Disenchanted Kingdom.”

Economists and even the World Bank have repeatedly warned developing countries, including the Philippines, not to depend on the inflow of remittances and foreign investments to sustain the growth momentum.

In 2006, the Ibon Foundation Inc., a political and economic think tank, warned that the growing dependence of the Philippine economy on the money sent home by OFWs has become alarming. Sonny Africa, the think tank’s head researcher, said he is alarmed by the fact that the OFW remittances comprise more than 10% of the country’s GNP.

“The double-digit mark makes the Philippines the most overseas remittance-dependent economy of any significant size in the world,” he said. “This means that the economy continues to be kept afloat by the external and volatile OFW remittances, and not by a strong local economic capacity.”

Africa added that the declines in domestic investment implied a diminishing capacity to expand production and warned of a slowdown in the near future. He pointed out a “glaring lack of decent jobs” in the country as the main factor in the exodus of Filipino workers abroad.

Indeed, instead of gloating over the increased remittances, it should be a cause for concern because it only means that local jobs are not available and this clearly shows a declining economy instead of a growing one. What if the Middle East countries suddenly decided not to hire Filipinos because of security threats or for political reasons? Or Singapore and Hongkong suddenly decided the Sri Lankans would make better maids?

Indeed, it is folly for the government to depend on overseas workers for economic growth, not to mention economic survival. The government must look at OFW deployment as a temporary solution to the country’s economic ills, and should have a clear program to generate local employment to at least stop the exodus.

Even from a social standpoint, exporting labor to the extent the Philippines has done, carries a lot of long-term risks.

Without corresponding protection measures, re-entry programs and family support systems, the Philippines would soon face a serious social crisis that in the long run, would hurt the country and the people. The dependence of both the government and of families to money coming from overseas workers is resulting in a culture of mendicancy that will in the long run jeopardize productivity. The symptoms of this mendicancy can be gleaned already in spouses and adult children not aggressively obtaining skills and jobs, contenting themselves with waiting for the monthly allotment from abroad; and from a government that would rather send away its people than generate jobs.

Millions of children are growing up without a father or a mother, or both. These children will grow confused and misguided, lacking the parental guidance and discipline in their growing years. Many of these children find comfort in drugs and sometimes crime. Thousands of families are broken up because of the long separation. It is not uncommon to hear stories of a married woman having an affair with a married man while working abroad, or of spouses left behind carrying an affair with other men or women. Or of father or mother abandoning their family and starting another family in their adopted country.

This generation of abandoned children will become the adults of the future. What will happen to a nation of misguided, undisciplined and confused youths? What will happen to a nation of increasingly mendicant population and government?

The overseas employment program was started in 1975 by then Labor Secretary Blas F. Ople during the term of President Marcos as a temporary measure to reduce unemployment and prop up the sagging economy. It was never meant to be a permanent source of revenue. But successive governments have made export of labor the centerpiece of their economic programs, even taking pride in the amount of dollar these workers bring in.

But the government should take heed of the symptoms of a creeping social crisis. It must take decisive action to generate jobs for Filipinos so that they won’t have to risk abuse and violence in a faraway land, while undergoing severe stress and anxiety over the fate of their families that suddenly seem so far away.

(valabelgas@aol.com)

by Erick San Juan
  
There is so much to be expected on the new administration especially on the Philippines’ economic and geopolitical relations with the two powerful nations – US and China. It is quite obvious that their ambassadors were the first ones who gave the premature visits to P-Noy (President Noynoy Aquino) even before the official proclamation. Why?
 
China views the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea – the so-called “near seas” – as core regions of strategic interest in which the Chinese seek to become the predominant military power. (US and China Can’t Calm South China Sea by Peter J. Brown). But of course, the US will not allow such dominance by their rival nation in the most strategic region in the world to materialize. Each country wanted the needed “support” by their “friends” such as the Philippines. We will now play a very important role as Japan did when they had a very tight situation in the relocation of the Okinawa US marine base that led to the resignation of a nationalist leader who used the US base as his campaign issue. Now that Japan has a US-friendly Prime Minister(Kan), could it be possible that our new president will do the same?
 
The “war” has started between the US and China right here in our backyard and we just can’t stand on the side and watch as they settle their conflicts at sea. The demand to take side between the warring nations is too strong for P-Noy to decide upon as the country’s new leader. But this is one challenge that he must confront with the heart and mind of a true nationalist leader and will not kowtow to a perceived master.
 
Enough of the stupidity that our leaders did in the past that made us what we are today, for they are embedded in our minds through miseducation that everything which are foreign are great than ours. Methinks that this will be the right moment to inculcate a nationalist ideology that will spare this nation from further destruction like the rape of our natural resources and its balkanization.
 
As John Mangun’s(Businessmirror,June 22, 2010) question put it – “Where does the Philippines stand in the war? Neutral is not a possibility. It is not a matter of choosing sides; it is a matter of protecting the nation.”
 
Here, P-Noy will be tested if he will stand for the benefit of all the PINOYS now and the generations to come. And not to put this country in a tight situation and go to another war not of our liking.
 
“For P-Noy to ensure his most fervent wish, he must address the idiocy — Filipinos not knowing the historical truth — that is pervasive in the land. Like other great national leaders, P-Noy should reform not only the governance but also the mindset and culture of the governed.” (William Esposo, As I Wreck this Chair, Philippine Star June 2010).
 
 God bless the Philippines! Congratulations to the incoming president, Benigno Aquino III. Nobody can really stop destiny.

by Greg Rushford
from Newsbreak

http://newsbreak.com.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7946&Itemid=88889066

 This article is based upon formerly secret documents that were declassified without fanfare and published by the U.S. Department of State in 2006, but apparently gathered the proverbial dust on the shelves since then — unnoticed until now by prying journalistic eyes.

In Sept., 1970 Imelda Marcos, then the First Lady of the Philippines, feared that domestic political opposition threatened plans by her husband, President Ferdinand Marcos, to revise the Philippine constitution and thus extend his term in office, which would otherwise lapse in 1973. When Mrs. Marcos flew to Washington, D.C. that Sept., she was able to obtain a private audience in the White House with U.S. President Richard Nixon.

The First Lady also summoned Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms to her suite in the Madison Hotel — the presidential suite. The declassified State Department and White House documents reveal that in her Sept. 22 private meetings with Nixon and Helms, Mrs. Marcos asked for some $23 million in CIA covert funding. The money was to be used to buy political support to elect pro-Marcos delegates to the Constitutional Convention two months later.

Mrs. Marcos these days is perceived in the public mind as a comic figure, thanks to her famous love of expensive shoes and jewelry. But in her prime, the politically ambitious First Lady was considered a woman with an independent power base who was accordingly treated with respect by heads of state.

Imelda Marcos, who turns 81 on July 2, has just been elected to the Philippine congress, having replaced her son, Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who was elected to the senate in the May 10 elections. Bongbong, 52, earned honors at Oxford and an advanced degree from the Wharton business school, and could be poised to run for president in the 2016 elections. Bongbong’s elder sister, Imee Marcos, 56, is the newly elected governor of Ilocos Norte.

Then, Mrs. Marcos was not content to seek only CIA assistance. Before going on to Washington, she had reached out to a higher authority. She flew to Italy where she had a private audience with Pope Paul VI. In that meeting, the First Lady vented her frustrations with internal political opposition from the Catholic Church in Manila, specially, she complained, from the liberal Jesuits. What could His Holiness do to help?

These revelations are hardly likely to be regarded as ancient history. This is because the same Philippine family dynasties that have been jockeying for power for more than four decades are still at it — while the same controversies involving possible revision of the country’s constitution that Imelda Marcos raised in 1970 are still the stuff of current headlines in Manila.

And beyond the little slice of history, there is a broader context for the story. This week the Philippines — which doesn’t get much press beyond Asia — will be in the international headlines. On Wednesday, Filipinos will inaugurate a new president. — marking another opportunity for a fresh start that would get their laggard economy moving in the right direction. It is conceivable — if not likely — that the Philippines could, at long last, be primed to become another Asian tiger, or perhaps a tiger-cub economy.

Plea for ‘crash program’

The fact that Imelda and her husband were presiding over their country’s long economic decline was hardly on Imelda Marcos’s mind back in Sept., 1970. When she flew to Washington that month, the First Lady was thinking in terms of how to dominate the political opposition.

According to a well-received 1988 biography entitled “Imelda: Steel Butterfly of the Philippines,” written by prize-winning journalist Katherine Ellison, Nixon “had acknowledged his guest’s stature by inviting her to stay at Blair House, the White House guest quarters usually reserved for visiting chiefs of state.” But as the Blair House was undergoing renovations, Nixon ended up putting Mrs. Marcos in the Madison’s presidential suite, “where her bill for five days came to $1,068.87, paid for by the U.S. State Department.”

The official documents relating to Mrs. Marcos’s Sept., 1970 trip to Washington, D.C. are contained in a 744-page volume published four years ago by the State Department, as part of its ongoing historical “Foreign Relations of the United States” series. Tucked away in the section of the book that deals with the official U.S.-Philippine diplomatic record is a memorandum of a “conversation between the Director of Central Intelligence and Madam Imelda Marcos, Wife of the Philippines President.” The DCI was Richard Helms. The researchers had found the Helms document in the intelligence files of the National Security Council in Richard Nixon’s White House. It had been classified Secret; Eyes Only.

The memorandum notes that U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Henry Byroade and his special assistant, James Rafferty, “made the introductions” to Helms and an unnamed CIA officer, “and then withdrew” from the suite. In those days, Byroade was known to be close to Ferdinand Marcos, and Rafferty was reputed to be a close associate-of — and even somewhat of a political fixer for — the First Lady.

The CIA officials’ meeting with Mrs. Marcos in her suite at the Madison was on Sept. 22, 1970, and lasted 35 minutes. Earlier that day, the First Lady had met in the White House with Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, although “no other record” of that meeting “has been found,” a footnote in the Helms’ memorandum reported. But the CIA’s memo clearly relates what was on Mrs. Marcos’s mind, as she explained it to the American spymasters.

“Madam Marcos began her presentation by drawing attention to the forthcoming 10 November 1970 elections for delegates to a constitutional convention in the Philippines, planned for June-July 1971,” the memo related. “She said socialist movements sponsored by certain lay and clerical elements in the Catholic Church, particularly the Jesuits, and some Communist fronts are planning to contest administration candidates in the election.”

The CIA memo explained Mrs. Marcos’ pitch: “She believes that the Marcos Administration could lose the election by default unless a crash program is organized to help it win. She noted that the Church has already picked candidates, either priests or lay persons, for each election district. Should those groups succeed in achieving their objectives, it would change the form of government in the Philippines to Socialism or Communism, with only a few people realizing what the real consequences would be. She underscored her view that Philippine democracy is viable but will not survive unless the United States helps the Marcos Administration through this difficult period.”

The memo also related that Mrs. Marcos told Helms that “the Philippines is a child of the U.S. and illustrated this point by describing Vietnam as a French baby, Malaysia as an English baby, and Thailand as everybody’s baby.” In Asia, the First Lady asserted, “one’s creditability (sic) is not measured by how one treats a friend, but how one treats his children.” In those days, Mrs. Marcos let it be known that she considered herself a sort-of political mother to Filipinos; forty years later she refers to herself as her country’s grandmother.

When Helms asked what she meant by a crash CIA program, Mrs. Marcos rolled off the numbers, the memo relates: “Madam Marcos then said funding the election at the barrio level would mean 4,000 pesos for 35,000 barrios and also asked for more arms and helicopters to enable President Marcos to capture a fourth HUK leader, Commander Dante.”

HUK is the acronym for Philippine communist revolutionary forces that the CIA had first worked against in the 1950s. By the late 1960s, the HUK communists had morphed into what is still called the New People’s Army, although the CIA memo writer had not caught up to the distinction. In any event, the declassified documents do not elaborate further on the request for CIA help in capturing Commander Dante, the alias for Bernabe Buscayno, who would remain at large for several more years.

No basis for Imelda’s fears

Helms referred the First Lady’s request to the so-called 40 Committee, which met in the White House on Sept. 25, 1970. Then chaired by Henry Kissinger, the committee was comprised of high-level U.S. security officials who recommended covert actions to the president. Notes from the committee meeting expressed no reservations on moral grounds. Covert CIA support for politicians around the world, including the Philippines, was by then a venerable tradition.

In Sept., 1970 Nixon and Kissinger were busy ordering the CIA’s Helms to do what he could to prevent the election in Chile of leftist Salvador Allende (those efforts failed, but President Allende was subsequently ousted by his own military in a coup three years later, and committed suicide).

The 40 Committee referred the Marcos request to the State Department, for a more detailed analysis. The diplomats at Foggy Bottom quickly concluded that there was no basis for the First Lady’s fears that leftists would be able to dominate the Constitutional Convention: “Mrs. Marcos is the only person who professes to believe that the Philippine Constitutional Convention will be controlled by leftist elements. In fact, there are few observers who believe it will not be controlled by President and Mrs. Marcos.”

When the secret White House covert-actions committee met again on Oct. 6, it decided to reject the First Lady’s request. Mrs. Marcos had basically been “throwing curve balls around a leftist threat to the Constitutional Convention,” the committee’s minutes noted.

The formerly secret minutes from the Oct. 6 White House meeting also observed that President Marcos himself, who had been giving his wife considerable political leeway, felt that this time, she had gone too far. “It was also noted that Marcos was allegedly angered by his wife’s freewheeling; none of this had come directly from him and she might be launching personal political ambitions,” the official 40 Committee minutes reported. The Philippine strongman, the document added pointedly, although “no neophyte at feeding at our trough — had not yet asked for a peso.”

Papal visit

Although it was reported at the time that Mrs. Marcos had had a private audience with Pope Paul VI earlier in Sept., 1970, what was said behind the closed doors, to my best knowledge, has never before been reported. Richard Helms’ minutes of his Sept. 22 meeting in the Madison’s presidential suite give the gist of how the First Lady reported the meeting to the CIA. According to Helms’ notes, Mrs. Marcos’s papal visit “was not for the purpose of piety but to persuade him to make his visit to the Philippines in the third week of November, which would be after the election, to prevent the Catholic church in the Philippines from using his visit to further its political ambitions.”

According to Helms’ memo, Imelda Marcos reported that she had been only partly successful in persuading the Pope to give her some political cover: “She said the Pope suggested prayer as a possible answer but he also agreed to delay his visit.”

Postscript:

Pope Paul VI kept his word to Mrs. Marcos, as the Con-con elections of Nov. 10, 1970 preceded the two-day papal visit to Manila from Nov. 27-29. That visit made a little unintended history itself. Upon his arrival at the Manila airport, the Pope was attacked by a disturbed 35-year old Bolivian painter who wielded a Malay kris dagger. The Marcoses claimed that the knife was deflected by a swift presidential karate chop from an alert President Marcos, a version that was at variance with other accounts at the time, including the Vatican’s.

True to the American predictions, the Marcoses were able to dominate the Con-con, which met in 1971, and which was marked by persistent efforts to amend the country’s constitution to enable President Marcos to remain in office. While there were many reports at the time that the president and his wife had used widespread bribery to influence the delegates, the details of what actually transpired remain elusive (as to the facts behind so many Philippine scandals.”

In any event, President Marcos finally decided to remain in power by declaring martial law in Sept., 1972. He remained in office until he was deposed by Cory Aquino’s People Power demonstrations in 1986 — which were given powerful assistance from the same Catholic Church forces that Imelda Marcos had long complained about.

In 1977, President Marcos finally succeeded in capturing and jailing communist chief Bernabe Buscayno, a.k.a. Commander Dante. Buscayno later rejected violence, and was released in 1986 by Cory Aquino.

During the last several years, President Arroyo and her political allies have made headlines with their persistent efforts to convene another Constitutional Convention — with most of the controversy once again turning on fears of a hidden presidential agenda. But unlike Marcos, President Arroyo was not politically strong enough to impose martial law, and on Wednesday will step down from her office peaceably.

Half-way through 2010, both the Marcoses and the Aquinos are back in power — while their country remains poor.

The Marcos family declined requests for comment.

by CARMELA FONBUENA
from Newsbreak

 http://newsbreak.com.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7949&Itemid=88889051

MANILA, Philippines–The same man who swore into office President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to end street protests in 2001 will now investigate her alleged involvement in big-ticket corruption scandals during her administration.

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. has been appointed by President-elect Benigno Aquino III to head the Truth Commission that he said will “put closure to so many issues.”

In a press conference Tuesday, Aquino said, “This Truth Commission is the commission I promised the people we will set up to put closure to so many issues.”

“With the active assistance of all agencies of the state, especially the DOJ (Department of Justice), they will, as necessary, prepare and prosecute the cases to make sure those who committed crimes against the people will be made to pay,” he added.

Campaign promise

Aquino campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. Investigating Arroyo was one of his campaign promises.

While Aquino said he is giving Davide the “independence” to choose which cases to prioritize, he mentioned at least 2 controversial cases that led to calls for Arroyo’s ouster:

* The botched US$329-million national broadband deal with Chinese company ZTE Corp.

* The P728-million fertilizer fund mess scam.

Davide played a key role in the 2001 “People Power 2” that thrust Arroyo into power. While none of the conditions set in the Constitution for replacing the President existed, Davide swore Arroyo into office, not just as acting President.

Davide would later face an impeachment case in Congress for doing that, but it was dismissed.

President Arroyo later appointed him Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations. He left the post early this year to campaign for his son, who ran for governor but lost in Cebu.

Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, also played a key role in “People Power 2,” but she had a falling out with Arroyo after the “Hello, Garci” controversy, where Arroyo was accused of calling an election commissioner in 2004 to indicate that she wanted the votes manipulated in her favor. Mrs. Aquino called on Arroyo to resign.

Before she fell ill, President Aquino was actively involved in street protests against Arroyo. Her death in August 2009 led to calls for her only son, Benigno III, to seek the presidency. He won the May elections by a big margin of about 5 million votes over his closest rival ousted President Joseph Estrada.

Asked if the Truth Commission will also put closure to corruption cases under the Marcos administration, Aquino said: “I think the Marcos era issues aer already being tackled by various agencies and organs of government. This will be concerned primarily with the past nine and a half years.

President Ferdinand Marcos was the political archrival of his late parents Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

The Marcoses have remained in politics, too. Former Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has just been elected senator. His mother, Imelda, took over the congressional post he vacated, while his sister Imee is the new Ilocos Norte governor. (Newsbreak)

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

Tomorrow, the Filipino nation looks forward to a new era when Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III (P-Noy) is sworn in as the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines. At this time, it is good to look back to another hopeful era in 1965 when Ferdinand E. Marcos was sworn in as our president, after having sold our people his vision of how THIS NATION CAN BE GREAT AGAIN.

It was from President Diosdado Macapagal that Marcos took over the presidency. It was from Marcos that the late president Cory C. Aquino, Noynoy Aquino’s mother, took over in 1986. It is now from a second generation of Macapagal national leadership — from Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — that Aquino takes over tomorrow. In 50 years, since the Diosdado Macapagal era, Philippine history has gone on a full cycle. 

Unlike Aquino, Marcos was taking over a country in 1965 which was then still considered the second best performing economy in Asia, next only to Japan. Aquino will take over a country tomorrow that was deeply cynical already about its future. Hope for many Filipinos today is to land an overseas job — despite its social costs — because there is hardly a job or livelihood option at home. It was only because of the excitement which was generated by Aquino’s ascendancy when our national cynicism was transformed into this general optimism we feel today.

Unlike Aquino, who is now hoping to climb out of a negative financial situation and thus generate the desired positive gains for people and country — Marcos took over a Philippines that had the fundamentals with which to aspire to be an Asian great. So hopeful was our country then that in 1967 Marcos even initiated a secret plan to recover Sabah by force from Malaysia. Starting on his second term, Marcos had embarked on an ambitious Filipino car manufacturing program. To young Filipinos today, both of these bold Marcos ventures would be utterly dismissed as presidential day dreaming.

In 1965, China, South Korea and India were nowhere like what they are today. In the 1960s, our ASEAN neighbors were sending their children here to study and they envied our level of economic performance. Today, Filipinos are seeking jobs all over ASEAN and foreign press writers would occasionally advise us to learn from the very ASEAN neighbors whose kids we taught in the 1960s and 1970s.

Tomorrow, Aquino takes over a country which had been outpaced by China, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. From a vision of THIS NATION CAN BE GREAT AGAIN in 1965, many Filipinos today are wondering if THIS NATION WILL BE EVER THE SAME AGAIN. From eating three meals a day in 1965, poor Filipinos would be grateful to just be able to eat two full meals a day by the time Aquino ends his term in 2016.

Curiously, compared to Marcos, Aquino’s primary goals would appear to be simple and less ambitious — reduce poverty and curb corruption. Thus, the question — is Aquino capable of achieving bigger things for our country than just reducing poverty and curbing corruption? We do not always get this level of national optimism with the entry of a new president. This rare moment of national optimism and trust in its new ruler would seem wasted if the only goals are to reduce poverty and curb corruption. We should forward our country to greater heights. 

It would also be a big mistake to dismiss the Marcos blueprint for the country simply because of the misadventure with dictatorship and concomitant downside such as crony capitalism, unprecedented plunder, human rights violations and so forth. The Marcos blueprint for our country would have brought us to the Promised Land if Marcos did not betray his vision. 

Among the many laudable initiatives of Marcos were: 

1. Changing the medium of instruction from English to Filipino.

2. Promoting a Filipino sense of identity and history.

3. Opening Philippine relations with Socialist countries.

4. Shortening the US Parity Rights and stay of the US bases.

5. Encouraging Philippine exports.

6. Opening overseas labor markets.

The one big difference we see in Marcos which subsequent presidents failed to even attempt to accomplish is his consistent diligence to develop a strong Filipino sense of history, sense of identity and sense of culture. Marcos understood that a nation cannot aspire for greatness if it is not united by one understanding of its history, its heritage and is emboldened to aspire for higher goals.

China’s Deng Xiao Ping is regarded as a great national leader. Deng could not have accomplished the China economic miracle – after embracing capitalist principles – if not for an equally great Chinese nation which possessed a national genius for diligence and enterprise. The grand vision of a national leader is realized only if that vision is shared by a great people who are ready to toil and sacrifice.

If Aquino will aspire to attain greatness for himself and our people — then he has to provide his people the means to improve themselves and transform us into a strong nation. Aquino should sell Filipinos a grand vision then mold his people to the character it will take to achieve that vision. He has to be a great national leader, not simply a competent national governor.

                                                                  *      *      *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com