Tuesday, 21 March 2017 10:08


IN his presentation before multi stakeholders, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez said, “in this administration, start means groundbreaking and actual construction.” With a ticket price of P326 billion, covering railways, bridges and dams, Dominguez pointed out that under the Duterte administration, “when we say start, we do not mean just bidding out projects, signing contracts or attending opening ceremonies.” He added, “we will no longer tolerate the wishy-washy promises that implementing agencies have been accustomed to making in the past.”

The three railway projects outside Metro Manila, new public transport lines along the main Metro Manila artery, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), will begin construction this year. The three railways are Clark-Subic, Tutuban-Clark and the 581-kilometer South Line of the North-South Railway Project connecting Tutuban, Calamba, Batangas and Bicol. The Department of Transportation (DoTr) will be the implementing agency of the rail projects, with funding to be a combination of official development a ssistance, public-private partnership concessions, and government funds.

The construction of the Kaliwa and Chico River dams will also start this year together with projects at Clark International Airport, the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit traversing EDSA, and three bridges across the Pasig river. The dams will be funded by China

By 2018, construction of long-span bridges between Bicol and Samar,and between Leyte and Surigao, will finally make land travel between Luzon,Visayas and Mindanao possible. The 2000-kilometer Mindanao railway—which will connect its large cities—may start construction next year, as well as more bridges crossing the Pasig river, and the development of Clark Green City.

The planned infrastructure buildup will attract more foreign investments, as well as boost productivity. Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno earlier said that geo-tagging will be used to closely monitor the infrastructure projects to be rolled out this year in order to fast-track implementation. Diokno stated that “part of the plan to make the six years of the Duterte administration a so-called ‘golden age of infrastructure’ was spending P846.3 billion, or 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), on infrastructure this year alone. The budget for infrastructure expenditures in 2017 accounted for a fourth of the total and was 13.7-percent bigger than last year’s program.

Hybrid financing “would enable the government to profitably manage the leveraging” of close to P1 trillion in official development assistance (ODA) and loans that it had secured from Japan and China alone in just six months of the Duterte presidency.” Hybrid financing would bring down borrowing costs. Dominguez explained leveraging on hybrid financing by using part-ODA and part-multilateral agency loans actually increases the number of projects that can be done. “Hybrid financing would involve, for instance, a mix of ODA, which provides concessional interest rates of 0.2-0.5 percent, with development funds from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank to execute an infrastructure project. Combining both types of financing sources would thus enable the government to build more big-ticket infrastructure projects.”

These statements, coming from the top finance and budget managers of the country, are more important than any “palitulo” video statement by a reckless Vice President or an impeachment complaint that is a time-honored practice of a party list that has always been in the forefront of destroying buildings and institutions. For them, start means destroy the presidency. It is no longer destabilizing but ousting a duly elected President because they just don’t like him.

Furthermore, the yardstick used to measure a leader has changed. Apparently, the yardstick for Aquino cannot be applied for Duterte because Aquino, in their eyes, is the epitome of what is just and good. And you can run down the issues against Aquino from the Luneta hostage crisis, Yolanda, Mamasapano, KKK, Zamboanga siege, missing in action days, Napoles, DAP-PDAF, rigged impeachment of Chief Justice Corona, missing Malampaya, intel fund on crimes, unliquidated advances of his core Cabinet officials, and a lot more but his six years appear to be the model of governance and the nine months of Duterte is so appalling that he needs to be removed.

And as start is being invoked in building the nation, start is also the flag waved to destroy it politically. We have never had our politics serving what is best for our nation, save probably the time of FVR. Post-EDSA, our politics have been a drag. We removed President Estrada for his way of governing and his midnight Cabinet. We installed PGMA but needed to hold her captive because of alleged cheating putting her legitimacy at issue. We elected an Aquino again because he was an Aquino. And now we have the first mayor and the first Mindanaoan, we want to oust him because he is reportedly a killer. We never seem able to respect mandates of our leaders. Oust we must and that can be either removing the elected leader or weakening the foundations of the nation, causing it to spiral away.

In the old days, when before foreigners, we speak with one voice. Today, using seal and flag, we have a Vice President who, for her own convenience, spins things to put down an elected President. When a video is made in February and aired in March, saying “palitulo” is by design, you had all the time in the world to reframe. But with malice, the Vice President shot down the presidency and the PNP.

And then an impeachment complaint which is a rehash of all the accusations thrown PRRD’s way since the campaign, covering hearings in the Senate, scripted, staged and handled by Senator Antonio Trillanes and Senator Leila de Lima and supported by other Liberal Party senators. A cursory review of the complaint shows that securing a conviction is not what they have in mind. It’s destroying the economy; making investors leave are the two goals of those who lost in the 2016 elections.

There are two drivers of the economy: OFW remittances and BPO. Tinker with one, we implode. There are also investors waiting in the sidelines but the shaking that Robredo, Trillanes and the Liberal Party are doing of a man who won an election are becoming more and more strident. Should we worry? Nope, but let us start. Let the crybabies do their thing and let us all pull in one direction with Duterte, and row in unison across the rough seas. About time we let the vultures eat the dried carcass fed by soiled yellow hands and the living start rowing towards our promised land. We are captains of our fate and “every nation determines its own destiny; the cleverer the nation, the better the fate!”
Published in Commentaries
Thursday, 02 March 2017 08:19

I am EDSA, we are EDSA

I WROTE last week in Part I of this series: “Today … 31 years after, I am again putting on paper my thoughts, a little bit more appreciative and perhaps a little bit more dispassionate about the events that transpired – given the distance of years and the dissipation of emotions and passion that propelled us then to bring about this ‘revolution’.”

My children, Lara and Carlo, then 12 and 8 years, respectively, may only have a vague idea of the significance of the four-day events in February of 1986; though they were certainly affected by the antecedents over the years leading towards these events. We all lived in Davao during the repressive Marcos regime and saw the rise of the communists in the city making it their “laboratory”.

We lived in the outskirts of the city near the infamous Buhangin circumferential-diversion road where “salvaged bodies” were disposed of. They certainly saw the many bodies covered with newspapers during our sorties downtown.

My wife Sylvia and I tried to protect them from these realities. Several times she had to gather the kids from their rooms and sleep in the master bedroom comforting them when the intermittent gunfire from around the area came dangerously close.

I was mostly away from home from the late 1970s to 1986, contributing my share in the struggle against the dictatorship. My absences and the strain inflicted on my family I’d like to think have long been recompensed, perhaps by my hopes then that things would revert to normalcy upon the “restoration of democracy” by EDSA.

And this is the point at issue. I was both wrong and right!

I was right in the sense that a certain amount of normalcy has descended on my personal life. I was recruited to President Cory’s government and relocated my household to Manila where we were again an intact family until the children came of age and “flew the coop,” so to speak.

I was wrong on my expectations about the “restoration of democracy”. What was restored came with it too the re-establishment of the rule of an oligarchy and the continued perpetuation of traditional politics, albeit with a new set of personalities.

Many of us in the decades-long struggle for real democracy from the mid-1960s, adherents of a parliamentary-federal structure of government, were enthusiastic in supporting Cory Aquino as she was our symbol in the fight against the repressive dictatorship. We understood that she was from the elite and her values were therefore of those of her class but we were hopeful that she would transcend these with the outpouring of love and adulation shown by the masses–whose values were not congruent with hers.

A few of us recruited to her administration implored her to continue to rule under the Revolutionary Constitution to give herself more time to dismantle not only the martial law structures but the unitary system of government which we then and still now believe perverted the principles of democratic governance. We were no match for the ruling class. Cory surrendered her prerogatives to real socio-economic-political reforms by rejecting the people’s gift—the 1986 Freedom Constitution. She then proceeded to embed her dogmas in her 1987 Constitution.

This is the Constitution guarded zealously by her son, PNoy, that President Duterte and we, the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), the PDP-Laban and the majority of the downtrodden Filipinos want to replace with a federal-parliamentary system and a social market economy (SOME).

Those were our expectations. But what were the expectations, then and perhaps now, of the others who participated at EDSA in February of 1986? First, let us identify the dramatis personae.

The Yellows 1986

We were all “Yellows” then, as this was the color we wore, after the assassination of Ninoy, symbolizing our protest against this dastardly act and our struggle to boot out the dictator Marcos from power and institute real reforms. The masses that congregated at Edsa were a motley crowd of Filipinos, from all walks of life—from the ordinary folk, some members of the elite and some of the oligarchic families dispossessed by the Marcos cronies; members of religious groups, Islam and Christians, prominently headed by Cardinal Sin and the Catholics. We all had disparate motives but were welded together by a pent-up anger against the Marcos family.

The Military

This was not a homogeneous group. The EDSA uprising was precipitated by a small breakaway group of mostly mid-level officers of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and their patron, Defense Secretary Enrile, whose plan for a putsch was exposed and nipped in the bud. It was the timely reinforcements of Gen. Ramos and his PC-INP and allies in the Army and Air Force that gave precious time for Cardinal Sin’s army to gather the people to stop the tanks and heavy artillery of Gen. Ver and saved the day. The putschists never did forgive the Yellows for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat—for saving their skin. Their revenge fell upon President Cory, who crushed seven coup attempts during her years in office.

The ‘Reds’

These were the people, foremost among which was the Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan (KBL), who supported the Marcos regime and his family sucking the country dry. We the “Yellows” then booted him out–for a time. But now his minions are back and his family is politically reinstated.

(Part 3 of this article will appear next Thursday, March 9.)
Published in LML Polettiques
Wednesday, 01 March 2017 11:17

Aquino tells LP members: Time to speak up

Former President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday urged his fellow Liberal Party (LP) members to “speak up” and make the party’s “voice heard again,” after four members were ousted from the majority in the Senate.

Aquino also asked party members to “be constructive and supportive” of the Duterte administration without sacrificing the party’s principles and ethics.

Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte, the LP secretary general, summed up Aquino’s guidance during a three-hour party caucus in Quezon City following the party members’ ouster from the Senate majority on Monday.

“I’d like to think the opinion of the [former] President [was that] we wanted to be constructive, we wanted to be supportive and we wanted to be helpful but not to the point that we give up our party principles and our basic positions and ethics on issues,” Belmonte said in a press conference.

“His basic guidance was: It’s about time we speak up, it’s about time that the LP voice be heard again,” Belmonte said.

Aquino wanted the people to “realize our good intentions for the country,” he said.

In an ambush interview, Aquino said he was keeping his self-imposed yearlong moratorium on being critical of the current administration.

“I want to keep true to my word,” he said. But the ouster of Liberal senators from key posts in the upper chamber on Monday “definitely” bothered him, he said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the LP president, told reporters that the caucus centered on the death penalty bill and the continued membership of the Liberals in the House supermajority.

He said the membership issue would be taken up after the death penalty debates.
Published in News
Last of 2 Parts

IT will be so tragic if President Duterte gets Congress to reinstate the death penalty. The surge of heinous crimes in the country is not because of the lifting of capital punishment in 2006, but because of the incompetence of immediate past President Benigno Aquino 3rd, whose forces continue to plot against his government.

Senate Bill 42, introduced by former police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson, reveals its gross ignorance: “The alarming surge of heinous crimes in recent years has shown that reclusion perpetua (which replaced execution in a 2006 law) is not a deterrent to grave offenders.”

But what “recent years”’ is Lacson talking about? This logically are the past six years, from 2010 to 2015, when the Philippine National Police was under Aquino’s bosom buddy, Alan Purisima. And it was during these years that there was a near total breakdown of peace and order, with Duterte himself repeatedly saying that we practically had a narco state during these years.

Crime statistics prove this point, and debunk the very wrong claim that the lifting of the death penalty in 2006, the index crime rate even went down from 47.5 that year to 42 in 2007 and 41 in 2008. This completely debunks Senator Lacson’s thesis that the absence of capital punishment encouraged criminals to murder and rape more.

There was a surge in reports of index crimes in 2009, but this was mainly due to a change in the Philippine National Police’s reporting system which expanded what police precincts should report as crimes in their jurisdiction. The PNP also clamped down on many precinct commanders’ penchant to under-report crime incidences to make it appear that they were excellent law enforcers in their territory.

Rocketed up

As a result, the number of index crimes reported rocketed up from just 36,057 in 2008 to 301,703 in 2009 and 204,979 in 2010, probably as police precinct commanders thought it was safer to err on the side of more crimes, not less.

The reporting system, however, seemed to have normalized in the first years of the Aquino regime, registering 218, 160, and 135 index crimes per 100,000 people in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.

However, the index crime rates surged in 2013 and 2014, to 466 and 493, respectively. Those huge numbers practically indicate a crime wave: from just 129,161 index crimes in 2012,the number more than doubled to 458,000 in 2013 and 492,000 in 2014.

Death penalty has got nothing to do with it. PHILIPPINE STATISTICS AUTHORITY

This can only be explained by the breakdown of peace and order in the country, as the PNP under Purisima and Aquino lost control of the police, which likely were demoralized by the incompetence of the two. Aquino and his sidekick, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who was officially in charge of the PNP, were also unconcerned about the surge in crime.

The illegal-drug problem had also proliferated, reflected in the data that homicides — committed often by drugged addicts — more than doubled, from 3,000 in 2012 to 6,500 in 2013, while incidences of physical injury zoomed from just 35,000 in 2012 to 223,000 in 2013.

The data is indisputable. The surge in heinous crimes was not because of the lifting of the death penalty in 2006, but because we had such an inutile President, incapable of addressing the country’s perennial crime problem.

This of course is not something unique to the Philippines. A comprehensive study in 2013 (“Relationship between police efficiency and crime rate: a worldwide approach,” European Journal of Law and Economics) evaluated the relationship between crime rates in a number of countries from 1998 to 2006.

Police efficiency

Its firm conclusion: It is police efficiency rather than such factors as population density, GDP per capita, or unemployment rate, that mainly determines crime rates in particular territories.

The well-known case here is of course New York City in the 1990s where Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s get-tough approach to crime, as well as other major policy changes (including such simple moves as immediately erasing graffiti on walls and trains), very dramatically brought down the metropolis’ crime rate, with violent crime declining more than 56 percent.

Before Congress pushes to restore the death penalty, which would be a step backward in our march towards becoming a civilized society and would put us in the club of such countries as North Korea, Yemen, and Iraq, it should let Duterte do his work first in addressing the crime problem.

Capital punishment is also so against the poor who can’t afford lawyers: After the four rich brats sentenced to death for the rape of Maggie de la Riva in 1967 (three were executed, one died in prison from drug overdose), I am not aware of any rich Filipino meted the death penalty, and actually killed.

There just isn’t any proof that capital punishment deters crime. Why rush in restoring it? It will be so sad if the Senate passes a law not based on facts, but motivated by emotion or the calculation that this would appeal to voters. We’re aghast, and sick and tired of extra-judicial killings. Now you want judicial killings?

After all, we all agree that Duterte is so totally different from his wimpy and lazy predecessor, and he can lick crime in our unlucky country.
Published in Commentaries
Benigno Aquino stepped down as Philippine president on Thursday after a six-year term that was highly regarded overseas, but partly condemned by voters at home.

After his preferred successor was soundly defeated in last month's elections, here are what political and economic analysts interviewed by AFP say were his key legacies:
Published in News

Third among 22 most crony-ridden economies, Philippine GDP went four-fifths to firms owned or favored by the ruling party.

Crony capitalism is under attack globally, but worsened in the Philippines in the past two years, The Economist magazine reports. India and Brazil have jailed billionaires who made piles from repeated sleazy government contracts.

Published in Commentaries
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 12:25

Noy on exit: Nothing to fear, worry about

MANILA, Philippines – With little over a month remaining before stepping down from office, President Aquino said yesterday he is not worried about leaving his “bosses” as he is about to relinquish his post to his successor, Rodrigo Duterte.

“I will be leaving my office as someone who remained true to his bosses: the Filipino people. Today – perhaps the last time I will be facing many of you as president – I tell you: it has been a distinct honor to have worked with you, and to have served my countrymen,” he said.

Published in News
The leader of the Aquino government’s economic team on Wednesday welcomed and lauded the incoming Duterte administration’s eight-point agenda to sustain the robust growth achieved during the past six years.

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, who heads the Cabinet Economic Development Cluster, also said a shift to federalism as proposed by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte, if implemented property, would pave the way for a more equitable sharing of the benefits of economic growth across the country.
Published in News
Thirty years after EDSA 1 and indeed the revolution is still incomplete. One hundred fifteen years after the anti-colonial war loss to the US may find us independent but with a governance structure that bears all the hallmarks of a colonial government if viewed from by a Filipino outside Metro Manila.
Published in Commentaries
It is so lamentable that while our Asean neighbors and the rest of the world are steadily climbing up the economic ladder and benefiting from growing political maturity, we in the Philippines have again to go through a hotly contested, divisive political exercise that seems to have brought out the worst in us and set us back as a people. Another revolution, peaceful or violent, is bruited about as a necessary evil or as a possible offshoot of the heated collision of views and interests engendered by this year’s elections.
Published in Commentaries
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