When a Nation’s Leaders are Puppets of Culture

Two incidents developed this past week that drove me up the wall. They had me muttering out loud:
  •  “GIVE ME A BREAK!”
  • “My God, is there no hope for this place?”
  • “Is there no pride in excellence around here?”
I’ve taken two days to calm down . . . sorta . . .
I root for the Philippines, you know. To leave the pits of incompetence and poverty and cheating behind and rise as a healthy, wealthier, wholesome place to invest and live.
Mr. Aquino as far as I can tell has done five things in 2 1/2 years in office.
  • He got elected, raising the hopes of millions.
  • He jailed Ms. Arroyo and evicted Mr. Corona from the judicial throne, two huge exclamation points regarding his anti-corruption agenda.
  • He articulated a firm foreign policy, rational toward both China and the US.
  • He firmed up financial disciplines in expenditures and revenues.
  • He got a good tourism minister and embarked on a promising tourism campaign.
He has notably not made progress hunting down and jailing  murderers of journalists or getting the HR Bill passed or fixing education (going to twelve years places more stress on buildings and teachers, already past the breaking point) or getting rid of the nation’s feudal value infrastructure that allows cheating, broad-scale corruption, pollution, avoidance of personal responsibility and other vices to persist.
It would appear that Mr. Aquino is more of a puppet than I had imagined. A puppet to bad Filipino values. A man of the old culture, as evidenced by his getting his personal political nose into the House and Senate’s impeachment business like a male dog searching for sex in a doggie harem. Overly sensitive. Macho posturing. Interfering with due process.
Now we have two more unhealthy practices, culturally engrained, front and center:
Chief Justice Nominees
I read about some of the potential nominees for the Chief Justice position and I am absolutely dismayed. The prominent criterion seems to be “close to President Aquino”. This is the same old horseshit that Ms. Arroyo did with Mr. Corona. He was not picked for his legal credentials and OBJECTIVITY, but for his commitment to being non-objective and friendly to the Arroyo agenda.
One observation I have repeated over and over for the four years I’ve been participating in Filipino blogs is that the trade of favors is horrendously damaging to Philippine progress. I get no traction. Not with readers, not with any body. Yet it is so simple.
Being a friend has nothing to do with competence or getting things done well. It simply mucks up the system, as did Mr. Corona.
  • Management 101, Principle Number 1: Have the courage and wisdom to hire people who are more competent than you are.
Corruption is on President Aquino’s front burner. That’s good. That was the President’s campaign promise.  But let me positively scream this:
  • THE FOCUS ON FAVORS RATHER THAN COMPETENCE IS MORE DAMAGING THAN CORRUPTION.
  • How can you create jobs and wealth when you hire duds?
  • How can you inspire competent people to stay in the Philippines if you are always hiring someone’s uncle to be his boss?
You positively undermine value creation. Wealth creation. The dynamic drive for innovation and productivity. The only fire you light is under the BRAIN DRAIN!
Mr. Aquino appears to be engaged in a gross failure in values when he fails to comprehend the key judicial criteria for competence for a Chief Justice: apolitical, objective, grounded expertly in the law.
De Lima? The woman who heavy handedly botched the Arroyo case? Who herself interfered in the Corona case by blurting to the press “He is a walking constitutional violation!” ?
THAT judicial bearing? THAT removed objectivity?
THAT is her qualification? She stuck up for the President? Now she is in line to receive her return favor?
Who nominated her? Or Henares, another member of the President’s cabinet. These two ought to be excluded specifically for the stain of likely bias. The PERCEPTION that they are biased, in a judicial chair, becomes a REALITY when they vote the “wrong way”. They inevitably lose trust. A judge MUST be trustworthy for his decisions to be received constructively.
I hope the JBC tightens up and sends forward the nominations that would be best for the Judiciary, not for President Aquino.
Haranguing the Rating Agencies
The Philippines sent its financial people to the U.S. to visit the rating agencies (Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s) to try to wheedle and whine investment grade ratings from them.
“You need to modify your criteria” was basically the Philippine’s position. “When countries such as Spain, which is facing bankruptcy, are higher than the Philippines, something is wrong.”
The rating agencies’ response was on the order of, “when you have per capita income of about $1,300 per year, you don’t have the foundation of stability that is needed for a stronger rating; when revenue sources are unreliable and leak like a sieve, you don’t have the stability you need.”
That’s the point, isn’t it?
The Philippines ought not to condemn the rating agencies, or wheedle and beg on the international stage, but ought to understand the rationale for a strong rating. Upon understanding the rationale, come home and implement programs that would strengthen its financial practices.
  • LIKE PASS THE HR BILL TO STOP THE RELENTLESS OVERBIRTHING THAT KEEPS THE PER CAPITA INCOME SO FRICKIN’ LOW!!!
  • LIKE PLUG THE CHEATING AND BAD PRACTICES THAT SUCK TAXES AWAY.
  • LIKE GET RID OF BANK SECRECY LAWS THAT PROTECT CROOKS AND SCOUNDRELS.
By applying the best of the worst in Philippine values, these financial yokels go whining and try to humiliate the rating agencies. They make excuses and play the victim.
I get embarrassed every time a top Filipino ambassador does this kind of thing. It is the same low-class mentality that claimed Jessica Sanchez was robbed because the U.S. is racist.
No, the show’s audience liked the other singer better.
How can a people who place such a value on MACHO be such whiners? How is it they cannot grasp a sense of strong personal responsibility, and attach THAT to being manly. Or womanly.
These are PROFESSIONALS!! AMBASSADORS. TOP LEADERS. EDUCATED PEOPLE!
Incredible.
I need a smoke.
And I don’t smoke.
I need a drink.
And I don’t drink (much).

Comments
24 Responses to “When a Nation’s Leaders are Puppets of Culture”
  1. brianitus says:

    Joe, did the whining (with ratings agencies) really happen? Wow! I guess the government is starting to realize that it takes more than just a slogan to attract investments. Anyway, good luck to all of us until 2016.

  2. You pessimist you. 2016 indeed.Indeed the whining occurred, which led to speculation that the agencies would up the ratings (the Spain argument being pretty powerful), which led to the Peso strengthening, which led to JoeAm getting poorer. Those lunkheads!!!

  3. brianitus says:

    Hey, Joe. It pays to prepare for the worst and act on the best possible scenarios. 🙂 Pessimism has a bit of an upside. =)

  4. Anonymous says:

    on chief justice nominations: perhaps this is Aquino trying to keep everyone happy. "lip service' to the masses in the form of his campaign promises worked, but at least he's trying to deliver on them now. and now since there are others in high places doing favors for him, he repays the favor. i just never got the feeling that he was going to be the crusader he wanted us to believe he was, and he's kinda proving me right.on the rating agencies: sounds like typical Filipino behavior: you give them an inch and they'll try to take a mile. it sounds like an aggressive power play, for which they should receive some credit, but the stats just don't fit. that's why there's a standard in the first place. perhaps we could learn a thing or two about that.Andy(Yb-Anderson)

  5. Yes, no crusader in evidence. Stability, though, and that is positive. Some good things. Not historically great or profound."Give an inch, take a mile." That is a great way to put what I see here locally, too.

  6. Attila says:

    I was talking to my Filipino friends this weekend here in new York and some of them believe that the Philippines will not change for a a long time and it will stay a 3rd world country. They are all confident that there will not be a revolution either in the future despite the poverty and the over birthing. There may be some kind of uprisal but that will be isolated. The reason is that the country is divided: there are islands with different culture and local governments. The Filipinos are just not able to unite due to this geopolitical reasons. Crime may go up but business will be as usual. I get the feeling that the Filipinos are not able to live in their own country. They are great achievers and very productive overseas but they sabotage themselves at home. This a a cultural thing and the culture will not change.

  7. brianitus, do you have a view on Binay? I'm curious. I read of his popularity, but also of some significant accumulations of property he made whilst King of Makati.

  8. brianitus says:

    Andy,True. He has to deliver on his promises, especially the ones that involve GMA. That's the only thing keeping some radical sectors off his back. Think of it as a grand deal with a red devil we all know. For the CJ nominations, I just hope he doesn't end up with another known KKK. That'll just erode some more credibility on his part.

  9. Yes, I reflect back on my "tribal" blog of a few articles ago. No doubt, the local areas are near-on to autonomous. But there is a current of social media cutting across the entire nation, and it may become a kind of glue to hold things together as a national entity. The youth of the Philippines are the hope. I rather fear the exceptional ones are heading abroad, as you say. It is all interesting to me, very . . . a living case study of a culture stuck in time.

  10. brianitus says:

    PR-wise, Binay is pretty strong. Makati is still the family kingdom. I think he's the strongest of all the political butterflies, for good reason (as you mentioned above). But I like him better than Mar Roxas.Bottom-line: I don't trust the fellow and the people around him. It's a good thing that Makati is awash with cash. They can afford to run it as a kingdom. If Binay was mayor of Caloocan/ Malabon or Navotas, I doubt if he'll have the same reputation today.

  11. Ah, that is about where I came out on it. Not really trusting the guy. Interesting observation about Caloocan. Maybe the condos he accumulated would be a little rattier.

  12. brianitus says:

    Thanks for that resource. Strongly worded ha. I thought not trusting Binay was enough for me. LOL. That letter is simply over the top. Defamation? Won't blogwatch get a notice for that?

  13. Yes, I thought it was a "tad" strong, too. I didn't see any names attached or reference site to go to to see the list of all his properties. But it is a clear line in the sand, and I presume a battle will ensue. It will be interesting to track his approval ratings over the months. It's good to see your skepticism cuts both ways, heh. Mine, too.

  14. brianitus says:

    Yes, I think so too. 2013 will be like testing the waters for Binay. Personally, I think it will be interesting to see who'll survive. If the LP panics and forces its hand on PNoy, Binay might even be in for a long ride on the bench and will have to rely on his own tactics to gain a lot of positive visibility to carry him to the top seat.As an aside, if the LP is serious in fielding Roxas again for 2016, they seriously have to rethink how to sell that guy.

  15. J says:

    I totally agree re: Chief Justice nomination. But on ratings agency whining, did that really happen?

  16. The visiting Filipino dignitaries would call it constructive criticism of ratings they probably truly feel don't make a lot of sense. To me it is whining to criticize the rating agencies when the Philippines is not doing enough to right its own ship. I'll look around and see if I can find the articles I read, and you can judge.

  17. Here's onehttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-12/philippines-urges-credit-rating-companies-to-adjust-criteria-2-.html

  18. Yeah, Mr. Roxas seems a little like an old worn-out sock. It would be nice to see someone fresh pop onto the scene.

  19. Attila says:

    "Jessica Sanchez was robbed because the U.S. is racist."It fascinates me to see Filipinos complaining about racism. They are totally blind to racism in their own country but when they are overseas they are the first to cry about it. Even I was accused of racism by the Filipino mother of a cleaning porter that I fired after not showing up for work. He used up all his sick days and personal days and than he just did not show up to work without any good reason. The next day his mother came in to my office begging me to take him back. She had a lot of home cooked food with her to give me. I did not give in to the temptation. Than she asked me to hire her other son. After I refused she accused me of racism. In the meantime my coworkers were laughing at me for dealing with the mother of a fired coworker. They never seen anything like that before. So that is how I became a racist by a protective Filipino mother.

  20. The sometimes amusing, sometimes frustrating, sometimes frightening logic applied around here (and there, evidently) is stunning. People grab such simple concepts, 180 degrees from accurate, and hold onto them as if they were God's very own pronouncement. You got bit by one.Anything to deny responsibility . . .

  21. Attila says:

    Joe if you would see my office you would see the flag of the Philippines and photos of my trips to the Philippines. She knew very well that I like the Philippines but that did not stop her to accuse me of racism. She also knew that I like Filipino food. That is how she tried to bribe me. Funny how simple minded she was even after living in the USA for many years.

  22. Attila says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Rationalizations know no limits when one's self esteem is a little bent. The lady is worth ignoring, methinks.

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