Friday, August 05, 2005

ZOO na

BLOGS: Where there should be talk about dealing with the broader issue of political economy (whose two-fold objectives I suppose are: to provide subsistence for the people and produce revenue for the state), there’s hairsplitting for some deceitful, albeit dramatic, effects.

Is the economy really taxiing now at the NAIA "poised for take off" or GMA is just flagging a taxi from Batasan to take her to the airport during rush hour to catch a plane scheduled for takeoff in 30 minutes? As usual the politicos are made the whipping boys and girls again (although many of them deserve the whip), but she, being a "US-schooled economist" and certainly a politica herself, now "kinder, gentler," gets credit for half of her supposed being.

Meanwhile, in GMA's blaming environment . . . whereas the political system is getting the heavy axe, escaping unscathed is the longstanding incompetence and/or laggardness of the economic elites who seem simply content with driving productive and available Pinoy human capital overseas; and as "paper" entrepreneurs, are the most to gain through their banks from the money remitted by heroic OFWs who risk being raped, held hostage, or murdered in the dessert to earn a living (Whew, aren’t Pinoys really toughies? Think now of our supposed "damaged culture" and the "indolence" of Pinoys.)

No wonder these "rent-seeking" elites (meaning they rather rent their wealth by buying government treasuries at guaranteed interests or otherwise tending their "paper" industries) and taipans are not risking enough to build factories that create the all-too important value-added (hope I got it right this time P.N.Abinales, I mean the use of "value-added"). They also play-all-too-safe by just building malls, investing in real estates and similar ventures), while the media they control (and that gives PCIJ and other bloggers a good reason for being) frets about declining foreign direct investments, not domestic direct investments, or plays blind about the gargantuan money safely salted away abroad.

SOUND BYTES: That same story, over four years, saw the drug menace cut in half, the rash of kidnappings become a thing of the past, and insurgency in the South abated.

BLOGS: This SONA is about the Philippines, not Malaysia or Thailand, see Ms. Ang See?

SOUND BYTES: I specially refer to our recent titanic struggle to enact the three laws that comprised the biggest fiscal package in our history, the biggest revenue increase in a generation that will break the vicious cycle of financing development by borrowing and having to borrow again just to service those loans. This is the one reform that will snap the chain that has bound our future to a profligate past and the debt-burdened present.

BLOGS: Titanic? When GMA (or the next leadership) starts dangling the debt-moratorium card in the face of the country's creditors, or telling the domestic rentier regime to take up the slack in government spending and build this and that industry or else (bad "tips" for the messiahs in the barracks?), that's when the "struggle" can be called titanic or fundamental or radical. But right now, it's business as usual, meaning after debt service, still no monies would be left to serve the objectives of the political economy such as to pump prime and stimulate the economy in the Keynesian fashion when needed, or for human capital enhancement (not to speak of the minimum requirements for education, healthcare, welfare and similar initiatives) so that when the next batch of OFWs are dispatched, they get the better-paying jobs and remit home more.

SOUND BYTES: We've worked long and hard to restore our country to the prominent place it once held as co-founder of the United Nations and the Free World's first line of defense in the East.

BLOGS: Very, very nostalgic. Pretty much like the oft-repeated "we were once second to no one but the Japanese."

SOUND BYTES: We won a seat in the UN Security Council, where we presided over the landmark resolution calling for democracy in Iraq.

BLOGS: Ha, ha. Please define "democracy for Iraq."

SOUND BYTES: Eighty percent of our peace talks with (our Muslim brothers) have been completed.

BLOGS: How was that figure arrived at? Why not 78% or 81.78%?

SOUND BYTES: Analysts need only to look at our stock market, and even the peso-dollar exchange rate, to sense the strong anticipation of significant improvements.

BLOGS: Didn't they. And was it a significant upgrade or a downgrade?

SOUND BYTES: Over the years, our political system has degenerated to the extent that it is difficult for anyone to make any headway yet keep his hands clean.

BLOGS: ". . . (her) hands clean" to be currently more accurate.

SOUND BYTES: The system clearly needs fundamental change, and the sooner the better.

BLOGS: It's not just the system. It's the "system in place," meaning the system and its sub-systems (e.g., wardlordism and political dynasties), or the system as a whole. Quick fix won't work.

SOUND BYTES: It's time to start the great debate on charter change.

BLOGS: A charter change is just one of those quick fixes, especially if at the very outset, the scope of the debate is already being contained like by a leading question " . . . how much less government is more conducive to free enterprise and economic progress" or suggesting that "a constituent assembly may well give our people the quickest reforms." See "quick" was mine but "quickest" hers.

SOUND BYTES: The economic progress and social stability of the provinces, along with the increasing self-reliance and efficiency of political developments and public services there, make a compelling case for federalism.

BLOGS: Great. In the first place, federalism (devolution, empowerment, self-reliance and local autonomy) is morally incompatible with a "constituent assembly."

But what kind of federalism? Is it formal federalism or real federalism? It appears that under the JDV model, powers not granted by the constitution to the states will be reserved to the federal government. I believe, in that case, Filipinos would be better off not tinkering with the Charter now because if the "political will" is there, genuine local autonomy is also achievable under the present setup, without opening up a can of JDV parliamentary worms. Or, otherwise, simply narrow the scope of the Charter amendment, like just creating more autonomous regions than the existing two (Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras), equivalent more or less to the regions intended to be formed as the states under a federal system. That would be quick fix as well as quick win.

SOUND BYTES: Now is not the time for divisiveness, and while there's no avoiding partisan politics, there can be a determined effort by all sides to limit the collateral damage on a country poised for take-off.

BLOGS: Let's avoid unnecessary damages, both collateral and frontal. Madame President, please be willingly to face justice (we challenge you not to do a Davide but prove your innocence), or better yet, if the real evidence that are the Garci tapes are too hard to handle without invoking technicality, please take a "graceful exit" NOW. Filipinos need your self-abnegation to trigger the cathartic process of fundamental change in the system in place.


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