The Philippines: Tiger or Stuffed Kitty?

tigerThe Philippines is fascinating, a nation with well-developed democratic institutions but underdeveloped democratic principles, a nation of broad economic reach and almost no economic depth, a nation of foul-weather patriots who rip money from the civic coffers and fair-weather patriots who tie their soul to the fists of a boxer and lash out with indignant bitterness at any perceived slight.

It is a land of grand beauty, of mountains and seas and jungles green and rich with exotic plants and animals, and it is a desert with bombed out corals and polluted cities and trash tossed everywhere across that gorgeous green landscape. It is the most Catholic of nations and the least Christian of nations, a place where the Golden Rule was replaced with the Me First Rule. It’s peoples are the kindest, warmest and most respectful on the planet, granting full right to the empowered and elderly to rule whatever roosts they choose. And it is the most ruthless, power-grabbing, my-way-or-the-highway band of robbers, thugs and murderers imaginable.

I’ve grown rather fond of the place, frankly.

It is a novel being written, each day a turn of the page, and we know not what twist of plot will emerge the next day.

Is the Philippines a tiger? Or a stuffed kitty?

People refer to the Philippines as the economic “tiger” of Asia because of its robust economic growth. Others pooh pooh the idea because 7 percent of nothing is pretty much nothing. There is little manufacturing, corruption is deeply dug in, poverty is a huge burden, the fragile growth could collapse at the next burp or bubble, and the health of the nation depends mainly on OFW labors and their generosity.

And yet . . . and yet . . .

If we step way back and take a look, we see an amazing transformation taking place. Some look at the anti-corruption drive as “whom have you jailed lately”. But I see it as a mood, a tone, a movement, an enlightenment. An awakening.

And I believe it is opening doors to progress and windows to wealth, both modest and great, across the nation.

A massive attitude adjustment is underway, a shift from shady to honest. From devious to candid. From closed to open. From incompetent to competent. From non-productive to productive.

Large-scale corruption and even the puffed up sense of “I’m more important than the Philippines” is being rooted out by President Aquino, his posse of gallant women, and – yes – the citizens of the land who indeed put Mr. Aquino into office EXACTLY for this purpose.

It is a frenzy of pursuit, the long arms of the law and ethics and decency wrapping and trapping the legislators who grab pork for personal gain, the disgraced socialite Napoles, the humbled coup-master Enrile, the chastised Church that found it could not control an election, a wayward Sultan, a murderous Coast Guard crew, and the entire Customs Department now being gutted and reformed.

I doubt Customs officials will leave in shame – it isn’t in their puffed up style. Rather, they are likely to go out slandering and demeaning others. That is the way of the guilty. That is the way of Napoles, which I fear is becoming a very dirty word in the Philippines.

yoda

Good. We need heavy doses of that. Shaming power. Enough to flatten the hubris of the self-inflated robbers of common decency and purses.

Archbishop Tagle also hammered the corrupt the other day, slamming public servants who pillage taxpayer money intended for the poor. It was as hard as a preacher will ever nail a sinner, an esteemed holy roller in a cathedral, inviting the privileged and greedy to spend a night in the squatters camps to understand better exactly what it is that they are doing. I suspect the Archbishop did more for the Philippines in that one speech than the CBCP political bishops have done during the past three years, flailing upstream, hammering relentlessly at the good Aquino government and crawling into bed with some of the sinners that the good Archbishop just condemned.

We have a Gang of Seven on the warpath for right and might.

  • The President and the Archbishop are the two most prominent, and they make a mighty powerful team. I hope they join formally and end this relentless “Church vs. Government” obsenity.
  • Three Aquino deputies, the battlefield commanders, are superb. Eloquent, principled, tough. The Tax Woman is after the tax scoundrels and the Ombudswoman is after the government scoundrels and the Justice Woman is becoming an absolute terror to the ill behaved. I suggest building a lot of new jails. Hinares, Morales, De Lima.  Remember them. They are heroes, putting “enforcement” to the laws and giving those laws meaning.
  • The sixth member of the gang is a collective, the President’s entire cabinet, which is trying to dig the rot from their own establishments, from LTO to PNP to DENR to Customs, and lay the groundwork for a productive, service-oriented culture. Gone is the slime and sleaze of favor trading and backroom dealing that plagued prior administrations. Folks, these people are working hard for you and for me. Their task is not easy, to redirect a river one rock at a time. We ought to support the effort, not condemn them for the exceptions that might get into the limelight because the press thrives on dirt.
  • The mighty seventh member of the Gang is another collective, the people. Those who wanted honesty, welcome it, and incorporate it as their way of life. They are the reason the President is in office and the reason this sea-change of attitude is likely to succeed.

But anti-corruption is not the only driver of change in the Philippines.

We’ve got roads and trains and airports and flood control projects and new military armaments and new school classrooms flowing forth as fast as the billions can be assigned to them. It is remarkable, truly. In addition to the concrete and metal, we see a variety of “process infrastructure” initiatives taking place. Rules to cut corruption from contract bidding, procedures to cut red tape and help new businesses get established, public-private partnerships sharing the financial burdens on important projects, and a sovereign wealth fund to capture the benefit of OFW remittances and build an annuity for future investments.

The thin economy is getting a little meat: tourism, real estate development and call centers. It may be hard to see, but wealth is pushing out broadly on three fronts: (1) from the top down, trickle from the major investments in Manila, (2) from the bottom up, cash grants that distribute wealth to the people who need it most, and (3) from the outside in as OFW’s give a little (or a lot) of themselves for the benefit of their families and nation. All that fresh money works wonders in the local communities because it is not transferred to Switzerland or the United States as the wealthy may do. Rather, it is circulating, working, CONTRIBUTING, and building local communities and a sound middle class.

The middle class is the future of this nation. Educated. Confident. Prosperous. The obscenely rich and patriotically deficient elite are an archaic past that we would be well to dump. Overwhelm with the massive force of a broad, educated, engaged middle class rising.

Many people see the Mindanao Agreement as a Muslim appeasement program. I disagree. It is a poverty reduction program. It establishes the framework for money to go into the poorest lands in the Philippines, Muslim lands, denied, denigrated and ignored for centuries. Peace will not be built on the words in the Agreement, but on getting money and development programs into Mindanao. Muslim leaders see this, too, and are working to subdue their angry, murderous brothers. Peace requires prosperity. Prosperity requires peace.

President Aquino deserves credit for the Mindanao Agreement, for the anti-corruption push, and for the infrastructure build-up.

It would be easy to sit back and say, “things are going great!” Let’s let President Aquino deal with it.

But we are not a’gonna do that. Not this blogger, anyhow. There is too much egging on that needs to be done. Rabble-rousing in a constructive way to goad and prod and push and incent and cheer for the things that need to be done:

  • The economy needs more depth. We need to push for REAL agribusiness in the Philippines. And mining that PAYS back to the people. Manufacturing, for all the support jobs it spawns. Anti-trust to unlock markets and better distribute wealth.
  • The utility infrastructure needs improvement. Electricity then water then sewerage
  • The Executive and Legislative Branches of government are in sound shape. The pork-scam will pass, will clean up the Congress, and lay the groundwork for an honest legislature going forward. But the judiciary is a mess. As long as there are political characters like Justice Abad masquerading as judges, and as long as the courts are bogged down in minutia and unable to attend to meaningful cases in a timely way, we don’t have REAL law and order in the Philippines. We have law and disorder. The judiciary is shameful and we need to work on that.
  • It is important to work on our character – yes, yours and mine – and our confidence. To see the good that is here and to share it. And to promote a sense of unity among the diversity that OUGHT TO BE the pride of the Philippines.
  • Freedom of Information. If we had had an FOI law in place, perhaps it would not have been necessary to rely upon a whistleblower to reveal the alleged congressional misconduct regarding pork funds. FOI, requiring SALNs, and a public audit of “where’s the wealth coming from”, is a powerful tool. As long as the President resists FOI, the suspicion will exist that he is “in bed” with the favored, who are enriching themselves by stealing from taxpayers. He needs to give taxpayers information. Period. No ifs. No buts. Open it up. And while we are at it, open banks up to justice investigations, under court warrant. It is obscene that the rich can bury their ill-gotten wealth right up the street in that bank. And that one. And that one over there.
  • Poverty and health care and education. We need to watch and push for the best ways forward. For education, there should be no compromise on the goal of “excellence”. We ought not be satisfied with a “C” grade.

Tiger or stuffed kitty?

Ha! That’s easy. A tiger. But a young one, emerging from childhood and heading into its teens. Adding muscle. Learning the responsibilities that go with the freedoms. Our cat still needs some nurturing. But it seems to this observer that it may become quite ferocious, economically and in terms of regional influence.

Able to stand . . . and prowl . . . on its own. And on a path to gain some long-lost respect.

I like what I see.

For sure I do.

Comments
54 Responses to “The Philippines: Tiger or Stuffed Kitty?”
  1. ricelander says:

    “People refer to the Philippines as the economic “tiger” of Asia because of its robust economic growth. Others pooh pooh the idea because 7 percent of nothing is pretty much nothing…”

    When your GDP growth is 7.8%, an impressive number by any standard, but unemployment is rising, exports and imports are down, and FDI is plunging, you really have to wonder. Where is growth coming from? Well, aside from the usual remittances and election spending, and lately the boom in construction.

    When industry titans themselves are the ones loudly crying about smuggling and the President himself claiming P200B lost in revenues to smuggling, you would wonder how much of our GDP growth is really due to that, smuggling.

    On how much we have improved in corruption, your best sources would be government contractors and suppliers. They will tell you, nothing improved. But you know, politics is about impression so it is all about managing impression.

    To cut down on corruption, downsize government. And raise salaries to a more practical level. Your average bureaucrat is in reality buried chin-deep in debt! Try a little survey. But you see, no government will probably attempt this because, the reasoning is, whatever is lost in corruption now will probably be equivalent to the increase in budget due to increased salaries.

    About politicians being corrupt, well, they need funds to survive. It’s a job, like anyone else who needs a job. When some sensible people remark, “what the hell are they running that position for with only that salary?” I am sometimes provoked to ask “what kind of people do you expect to take that position with only that kind of salary you are willing them to be paid?”

    • Joe America says:

      Good point. Low wages are what inspire cheating, from the government workers to the painter who makes off with a can of paint from his project. I could easily be convinced to become a socialist, in the Philippines, for the gross inequities of wealth. But socialist ideas are so tired and weird (an upcoming blog). That’ won’t help either.

      I believe in working the edges. Trim government and apply technology better and raise salaries of key people. Good idea. But don’t throw people wholesale out into the street. For sure I think a house of some 400+ people is wasteful and inefficient, each member clamoring for recognition. Some of their committees have 50 people!!! 50!!! A horse designed by that committee would be an aardvark.

      Don’t discourage me here. I’m on an upswing. 🙂

      • ricelander says:

        “…apply technology better…” Now, I like that.

        We should be producing vehicles, boats, gadgets, etc.. products of technology. We dont. We hardly see anything that shows “Made in the Philippines”

        Technology enlarges the pie. It adds massive value to even otherwise valueless materials. It creates profitability. It enlarges the ROI. It creates employment. Your useless Congressman will probably opt out of politics and become manager instead to escape the aggravations of politics. Your lazy bureaucrat may find inspiration to start a business of his own instead because he is seeing more dynamism outside of his drab working office.

        But you need investors who are willing to take risks, not the type who wants safe investments guaranteed by their connection in government….

        Our problem boil down to one thing: the pie is too small for everyone so we end up fighting at the table for our meager share of it

        • Joe America says:

          It’s nice when pragmatic minds come together. I agree. If the Philippines is going to a more aggressive defense footing, why does it not start building it’s own fleet of cutters and missile ships?

          Your conclusion is exactly correct, it seems to me.

  2. daniel says:

    As always, Sir JoeAm, I never get tired of reading your articles. It is very refreshing to hear some insights from a concerned local foreigner. Your posts are the truest of the truest and purest of the purest. I love reading it. It is very positive. Napakatalino ng pagkakagawa. Sana marami ang makabasa nito. 🙂

    “As long as the President resists FOI, the suspicion will exist that he is “in bed” with the favored, who are enriching themselves by stealing from taxpayers. He needs to give taxpayers information. Period. No ifs. No buts. Open it up.”

    We need again another urging to PNoy same as the noise they heard back when RH was still a bill. He needs to be enlightened that we need an honest government, we are hungry for reform and information. Tama na ang salita. Gusto na ng mga Pilipino ang makakita ng pagkilos.

    Thank you!

  3. JosephIvo says:

    Sad, but a lot of what you are saying is so right. Happy, a lot of what you are saying is so right.

    I feel miss Napoles thinking “what’s the difference between not paying taxes or import duties and recuperating taxes?”, “all Filipinos would do the same if they had the brains and the guts”. And she might be right with a (very, very) few exceptions. Over the ages the many Chinese immigrants could change a culture into believing that cheating is not dishonorable, but being cheated is. A lot of the present indignation is not so much the cheating, but the being on the wrong side of all of it.

    “Wala wang wang” and the disappearance of the blue emergency lights in the country was a hopeful event. Decency can gain grounds, especially with a growing middle class. A boost is to be expected when the things get transparent and the anonymity of stealing disappears. (FOI). Reducing hunger will help too. When you are starving, you have another set of values, surviving becomes more important than not stealing. Amazing how the extreme rich share the same value set as the extreme poor, or as the French say “les extrêmes se touches” (the extremes meet).

    The deeper question is one on moral values, on what make people tick and why. Starting at the top. As you said, the Cardinal and the President should unite (currently there are more important issues than trying to regulate how consenting adults should behave in bed.) The president could surround himself with people sharing the same values, the Cardinal inherited his bishops. The next layers after that seem to be still comfortable with the way it was before.

    Social values, the economy, national structure/checks and balances/processes, organizing the “middle field”/political parties/political agenda, national safety/integrity… so many areas need attention. Poor President, it must be lonely at the top. Congratulation President, slowly you got things moving.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, wonderful insights, and you have caught some fine additional dualities.

      “A lot of the present indignation is not so much the cheating, but the being on the wrong side of all of it.” That says a lot, doesn’t it? The broad corruption will go away when people have reasonable opportunity for decent wealth, and a reasonable shot at the good things that normal people have. Food and a few trinkets and good health. Being on the underbelly of “reasonable wants” is a bad place to be, and almost anyone would cheat if living there daily.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. What the lovely, beautiful country needs is a revolution.

    2. The President is alright but the Cardinal is not.
    2.1. The President is King Canute trying to hold back the waves of corruption.
    2.2. The Cardinal and the Church may be part of the wind pushing the waves.

    3. Can the pervasive immorality in the country be laid at the doorsteps of religion?
    3.1. Let me answer that with another question: Who governs the moral sphere?

    4. The great fallacy of Francis, Tagle and the Church as a whole is the focus on the poor, the dispossessed.
    4.1. The focus should be on the poor in spirituality and not the poor in possessions.
    4.2. The poor in spirituality encompass both the poor and the rich.
    4.3. The poor in spirituality are those who essentially do not follow the moral teachings.
    4.4. The poor in possessions who become rich in spirituality would learn that poverty is a state of mind and strive to improve their lot.
    4.5. The rich in possessions who become rich in spirituality would learn that profit for self is fruitless and strive to share their lot.

    5. Ponder if you will the possibility that the Church was able to instil the Eighth Commandment – Seventh in the Catholic Catechism – in all its followers.
    5.1. Can you imagine the impact if there were no corruption and no pork-barrel scam?
    5.2. Can you imagine the impact on the dispossessed? On the nation? On the world?

    • Joe America says:

      1. I think the most velvet-gloved of revolutions is transpiring now. Occasionally it is a fist.
      2. I’m not sure what the Church gets by being so antagonistic to modern ideas.
      3. No, more at the doorstep of lack of opportunity. “Desire” governs the moral sphere.
      4. Agree. Very keen wisdom. The Church could get on the upslope by preaching to the middle class and rolling morality out, just like the economy. Now it is at the bottom of the hill complaining mightily and accepting no responsibility whatsoever for having built the hill.
      5. ahahahaha, we need more manufacturing plants and fewer bishops.

      • cha says:

        4. Yes, too. The best thing the good Cardinal can do for the country (and the Church!) is to stay out of politics and ensure the CBCP and the rest of the bishops follow suit. So then they can focus on cleaning up the house,so to speak.

        The Catholic Church in the Philippines has itself become poor in spirit; so lacking in generosity and compassion for those who do not agree with its way of thinking. It repels rather than attract followers to its doors. It is more easily associated with backward, narrow minded and even superstitious ways of thinking rather than being inspired, enlightened and transcendent.

        How can this Church then enrich the spirit of this country? One cannot give what one doesn’t have. Yet.

  5. Jo says:

    When people keep on complaining that corruption and poverty are still rampant and nothing has changed under PNoy’s leadership, I want to smack them. I wouldn’t say they have been eradicated but for me, the greatest legacy PNoy will leave behind is a sea change of values.

    The corrupt, like the poor, will always be with us, I believe, but PNoy showed that we don’t have to stand for both. That change rightly begins with one person. That we must demand accountability from our officials and we must be accountable to each other as well. That every little thing counts. That not everything has to be grand and magnificent and impressive. That we are not perfect but that shouldn’t stop us from aspiring to excel.

    That there is nothing more beautiful than a country of people helping each other every which way they can.

    Thank you for this very uplifting piece, reminding us how far we have come. Your spirit is on fire, Joe, and I will continue to huddle closer to you the way coals clumped together burn brighter and hotter.

    We’re going to ignite this country. 😀

    • Joe America says:

      I’m glad you caught the spirit of the article, Jo. On one hand, the corruption is so broad and deep, and so keyed to poverty, that it will not be wiped clean in a year or three or six. Maybe 15 to 30. In the meantime, it is best not to be passive, but to be active and push, push, push. The President has it right. Clean out the top, build the infrastructure, and spend money wisely.

  6. Your first paragraph showed the ironies in this country. i see the country as a teenager, who is full of angst, aversive to law and order, and still having an identity crisis (covert colonial mentality), turning into a mature, less irresponsible, thinking young adult.

    Seriously speaking, I don’t expect the Philippines to catch up with its SEA neighbors (Thailand, Malaysia and even Indonesia) in the near future; it’s more frustrating if one compares the FDI stats of the PHL with those of the competitive SEA neighbors. Heck even Vietnam, a promising industrial haven, and Cambodia are showing more promise. Economic-wise, the future looks bleak unless drastic reforms in corporate governance are achieved; How many generations will it take before majority of Filipinos change their attitudes to entrepreneurship to a positive one? Will the Filipinos ever discard Filipino time? When will the education system prioritize innovation and problem solving over rote memory work? My international trade professor in college would joke that the Philippines would be ranked amongst the likes of Vanuatu, Bahamas and Papua New Guinea economics-wise in the future.

    How many generations will it take before most Filipinos abandon the clannish brand of compassion? Collective moral reflection and transformation is only possible when there are very few hungry stomachs.

    In short, this admin, the next, the next after the next and so on should put more focus and political will on FOI and transparency, public education reform, safety net especially for the middle class, agribusiness reform and global competitiveness.

    • Joe America says:

      Superb questions. I had to laugh because I was “instructing” my wife this morning on the importance of building “American time” into her personal disciplines. She smiled.

      I hope that what will happen is rather like a flower blossoming, that an industrial plant here, casino there, Japanese manufacturing venture over there, call center expansion up the road, it will all start to add up to something meaningful. Maybe sneak up on us. But for sure, a touch of skepticism is wise.

      Building a manufacturing mentality and core is an element of infrastructure, in my mind, and I wish the national government would use some ingenuity to do that. (Military ship-building, for instance, or doing a raid on every Japanese manufacturer now operating in China to get them to the Philippines instead.)

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      “Will the Filipinos ever discard Filipino time? When will the education system prioritize innovation and problem solving over rote memory work?” I can’t think of 2 more relevant questions, to explore the root cause of things we might even have to dig a little deeper.

      Why people come late? Mainly – often unconsciously – to show importance, “I had to do something more important”. It has to do with the picking order. The boss has to come last. In the Philippines picking order is extremely important, it is wholesome and it guides language, rights… In the West picking order is more fractures, it differs from one sphere of live to the other. In the pub it can be different from the office and thus picking order is less important in a particular situation. There the clock dictated the machines, trains and busses… the boss wanted you to conform to the rhythm of his factory.

      Why repeating versus innovation, problem solving? Because form is more important than substance. Because most teachers don’t master their subject and only can repeat what’s in the manual. The aim is to blend in, not to stand out. In the Catholic Church for ages you repeated Latin phrases you didn’t understand. Karaoke is exactly repeating what’s on the screen, Jazz is unknown here.

      Why is knowing your position and conformance so important here? I don’t know, but it certainly does not harm those in power, the oligarchs, the dynasties, the bishops…

      So, let the tiger loose. “Proletarians all over the world, unite.” “Long live the revolution.” Or for this gentle country, a little softer, socialism.

      • Another possible reason why Filipinos are late: Most expect that other people will also arrive late; It’s like an unbreakable change reaction because Filipinos don’t expect the best behavior from one another. Good luck to Japanese folks who are having business meetings with Pinoys.

        And yes, conformity and form over substance. Most Filipinos might embrace democratic principles apart from formal institutions, but they’ll never comprehend individuality. I’m hoping that innovation in business could be attained at least.

        • Joe America says:

          I agree with both you and Joseph. In part demonstrating “power”, for most things in the Philippines are a subtle power game. And “because that is the way we do it”, even though the way we do it does not work very well.

  7. The Mouse says:

    I’d look more into total investment than FDI per se. The core of the Philippine economy would be more local businesses (not merely talking about corporations but SMEs). After all, FDIs for most part come and go, where it costs less. Once Filipino workers demand higher wages, they will move out. The more local businesses (SMEs) prosper, the more the economy will flourish and Philippine companies will be able to have more than just San Miguel Corporation.

    Rather than being the laborers, be the investor. It would be better if the Philippines would have its own ship business brand rather than just building ships for Hanjin (which do have serious labor issues)

    • The Mouse says:

      From what I have read, a large portion of the GDP growth seems to have stemmed from increased consumption and private and government investment on infrastructure.Take for example the expressways in Northern Luzon. The infrastructure itself props up the GDP, but what could this mean in the future? Easier travel of goods from the North to the capital and increased tourism in the underrated north.

      I would not speculate at this time since I believe it is too early. Consumption and Government are not just anything, it could be something. Businesses (local or foreign) would want to invest were people consume a lot and where there are improving infrastructure. All the GDP coordinates are interrelated. This is why I think measuring the Philippine potential through FDI only is lopsided. The FDI is just but one aspect of the many aspect of the economy.

      It’s just been two years since the Philippines has had this more than 5% growth. It’s not like it suddenly would trickle down. Perhaps, we could see in 5 years, if wages and standard of living do not significantly increase despite the GDP, then I’d worry. But with consistent high consumption and government and private expenditure, I’d withhold a conclusion and continue to observe

      • Joe America says:

        Interesting perspectives. I agree on the ship-building. Why should the Philippines be paying the United States for basic gear? Or motorcycles. Filipinos can repair ANYTHING. They can’t MAKE them?

    • The Mouse says:

      If I may add, one of the thing I have in mind is that given the many OFWs in different countries where there have been economic recession, the consumption in the Philippines has hardly been affected. Logic would say that it will affect Philippine consumption because other countries are laying off workers. Then there are the instability in ME countries where there are significant Filipino workers yet the consumption has not been shaken. There must be something more to remittances that fuels consumption. I suspect it is the growing service sector (ESL, call centers, IT hub (google just had its office in the Philippines), BPO). Their salaries may be low when converted to the value of the dollar but these jobs had made young Filipinos be able to afford some luxuries that people can rarely afford during the 90’s and early 2000.

      • JosephIvo says:

        It is more than income and investments, it’s also about employment. 10 million OFW leave the country not for fun or adventure, not for learning more but for a decent income abroad, doctors getting nursing jobs. Millions of immigrants, not all out of love for a foreigner or a foreign country. 2 million newborn Filipinos a year. All hidden unemployment in inefficient agriculture, inefficient transport, inefficient retailing…. There is no luxury of choosing, all job creating opportunities have to be pursued.

        If corrupt money (unpaid taxes + “recuperated” taxes + fishy free market deals = 30% of GDP?) is reinvested or consumed in the country, it doesn’t matter too much because the money flows back in the economy (some say that it can be beneficial because private investors can invest more efficient than the state, high end consumption brings differentiation to the market.). If corrupt money is stashed in Swiss banks (Marcos, Estrada, Arroyo…) or in American condo’s (Corona, Napoles,…) it is killing. I wonder if the Central Bank or AMLA sees differences since the Arroyo years. Is it reduced and does it explain part of the current growth?
        (Randy David in PDI: – http://opinion.inquirer.net/59069/the-scourge-of-discrepant-governance – together with Johnny Lin comment 98 in Raissa Robles – http://raissarobles.com/2013/08/15/janet-napoles-alleged-giant-jln-corporation-paid-less-taxes-than-a-public-school-teacher/comment-page-2/#comment-110445 – make a lot of sense. The Napoles case has a much higher dimension.)

        If the President moves on this let’s all shout as Johnny Lin, PNoy, Six more years, six more years!

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, agree. Right now, President Aquino is letting Secretary De Lima carry the burden, and I think he could lighten her load by coming out with a clear statement of support for investigations and review of the PDAF concept, as weighed against other ways of developing local communities. I like the U.S. method of applying property taxes to needs of local communities. It incents them to collect the taxes. Clearly the existing system is filled with holes and does a lousy job of developing local communities. I was reminded of this when traveling to the Underground River in Palawan, and crossing over dirt roads and “rustic” bridges because 600 million pesos of road development funds got parceled out to favorites, ostensibly for road projects, in nice round 20 million chunks. There was little follow-through as to whether projects were done or not. And who knows what happened to that case. Did it get swept under the rug or forgotten about as in languishes on some courtroom’s “forever” docket.

  8. deswie says:

    Population control, 100 million Filipinos. We need control oh so badly. btw, is FOI freedom of information? im coping with the jargon 🙂

  9. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    A moment of silence to those who drowned, survived but lost their precious belongings and the next of kin who will get nothing at all or maybe a paltry $500.00 not enough to bury their loved ones, stay in a seedy hotel waiting if ever they survived at all in a head-on collision of a wrong way driver in a vast wide sea lane of the Philippines. Accident like this requires God’s hands. How in the world could they bump into each other when they are not driving along San Juanico Bridge. Please God, STOP THE CARNAGE !!!! If you entertain yourself thru the miseries of other, please God, go pick your own size like China. Philippines have had enough of your morbid sense of entertainment. Get out of my world God! Out! Out!

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Oh, God! You still there, God? I am sorry. You own us. You made us. You can do whatever you want in this orgy of mayhem and violence. You own us God, right? You can neglect us brown-skin punk’d nose. You can pick white caucasian and yellows to be your epitome of and bless success while the other end of color spectrum the black and browns go to the bottom of the pile. You know what God? You are so lucky. Filipinos still believe in you despite them seeing the unfairness of your selectiion process. Well, again, God you pick Filipinos and you made Filipinos to believe in you, take out their observatory and faculty process just to believe in you. I hate you God. Welcome Satan. Take my soul away. I am all yours. Oh, Satan, take me away after Paris Hilton and Valley Porn Queens becuase you do not want me to be lonely in hell without them. Of course, God, Carlos Danger, Eliot, Arnold, Bill can come later. I do not want them messing with my girls.

  10. ella says:

    Mr. Joe, you write with passion, you write about the positive and negative of the Philippines and her people from the heart and come up with suggestions on how to deal with these from the heart and from the mind.

    I just wish many more Filipinos will have the opportunity to read your blogs, most especially the middle class and the 18 years and above. These part of Philippine society had to be alive and thinking. They are the life of the Philippines.

    With all the corruption in zillions, maybe and if maybe these monies had been, even just half of these monies had been spent for the projects they were proposed to be spent maybe the trickle down effect of the economy would have at least reached the poor.

    Corruption is really mind-boggling, it is good though that we have a President who is not corrupt, sincere and honorable.

    • ella says:

      We have a President who is honorable, sincere and not corrupt. I just hope the Filipinos will use their minds in voting for the next President so that the next President will continue what PNoy has started.

      Exposing the corrupt people, is definitely not enough, there should be follow through by the agencies concerned … but exposing these animals is definitely the first step. Making the people aware that such things are happening is the beginning.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      I like this blog, Ella, because the opinions and recommended solutions are coming from a foreigner. I already have heard too much from fellow Filipino bloggers just by reading the article heading I already know what they are going to talk about. I am even tired of myself talking about the same thing.

      • ella says:

        Mariano Renato Pacifico, for the sake of the Philippines and her people, as long as there is corruption going on please let us not get tired talking about it. This will make others be aware of these corruption and keep the ball rolling to stop such heartless crimes.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you ella. I think the ideas I share here are getting “out and about” as more people share and think about things. And it gets read by important people, so that helps, too. I appreciate that you appreciate the writing style.

  11. J says:

    As President Ramos, who presided over the best years of the Philippine economy before the Aquino era, liked to refer to the country then: “We’re a tiger cub.”

    Anyway, I like the way you right as if you’re Filipino. Well, I guess you are. You’re truly invested in the country and genuinely want it to succeed.

  12. J says:

    Your tone is like that other pro-Filipino American I know, Professor W. Scott Thompson, who wrote this article on NST recently: http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/philippines-finally-gets-it-right-after-years-of-trying-1.326042

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      If Benigno Aquino Sr was not a communist smuggling guns to unleash orgy of violence …
      If Benigno Aquino Sr was not murdered …
      If Aling Cory was not the wife of Benigno Aquino Sr …
      If Kris Aquino parents were not Aling Cory and Benigno Aquino Sr …
      If Kris Aquino was not white …
      If Kris Aquino was not a serial philandering bed jumping actress …
      If Benigno Aquiono was not the sister of Kris
      If Benigno Aquino was not slave-holding oligarch with goons and son of the Aquinos
      If Aling Cory did not die …
      If Benigno Aquino was not seen crying like an infant …
      If Benigno Aquino was not married …
      If Benigno Aquino was not rejected by his numerous girl friends …
      FILIPINOS ELECTED HIM because kawawa naman si Benigno he is wealthy but not happy ….

      The Stars Aligned … Benigno Aquino gotta do something to right the wrong he was done … He gotta make the corrupts sufffa …. the corrupts are his blood relatives, friends, cronys, classmates …. This time he is gonna make them sufffa. They took his parents away, binastos si Kris, hijacked his girlfriends …. at 50 years old despite his wealth he is still not marketable to women …. he gotta make their lives miserable …. and even the score. step up, put his feet down … do it legally …. DO THE ANTI-CORRUPTION DANCE.

      Now imagine if benigno Aquino were married …. Imagine if benigno Aquino were not the son of Oligarchy and political dynasty …. WOULD THE FILIPINOS HAVE MADE THE MISTKE OF ELECTING HIM ???? This time, despite they elected a wrong person becaue of his oligarchy-political-dynasty upbringing, IT WORKED !!!!!!

      I do not believe in God, but this time I BELIEVE BECAUSE A MIRACLE WORKED !!!!!

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks’ for the article, J. I enjoyed it immensely to know that another American finds the Embassy to be a rather up-tight cast of stuffed-shirt thugs and spies of little meaningful contribution to anything anywhere. Heh heh. And we seem to see other things the same, too, but you would never catch me trying to write anybody’s official biography. Maybe Angry Maude’s. I’d do that one. 🙂

  13. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I wish Joe would skip his scheduled blog article and devote one about our shipping industry. How in the world two lumbering vessels collide in an open sea. 2ndly, how much each passengers would receive? 3rdly, what is the response of the shipping company? House them temporarily? Feed them while waiting for their next of kin to float to the surface? What are their protocols.

    • Joe America says:

      I think that kind of investigative journalism is better the province of Raissa Robles, as my resources and sources on Biliran Island are of the skimpy variety. I hope someone does do that kind of digging and revealment.

  14. andrew lim says:

    Joe, Im finishing up an essay which I am contributing for publication here. Will probably send it tomorrow. It’s very relevant to the Napoles case, the involvement of some clergy, and the effectiveness of the most dominant religion here against corruption.

  15. bebot says:

    As you said time and again, the Philippine government has to improve/ develop its agricultural industries as a steppingstone for agroprocessing industries which is the subset of manufacturing that processes raw materials and intermediate products derived from agricultural products.

    You have been right all along by saying that agriculture is the first stage of development, but then agriculture to become a form of industry should be coupled with technology, marketing and consumer preferences, thereby an offshoot of agroprocessing industries originating from agriculture, forestry and fisheries enfolds.As such, we have industries that use agricultural, fishery and forest products as raw materials for textile, pulp and paper. The food industries are the prime sources of fruits, vegetables, milk, meat or fish.

    From agroprocessing industry is a subset of manufacturing – rice and flour milling, leather tanning, oil pressing, saw milling and fish canning. From agriculture materials, we can have bread, biscuits, noodle making, textile, spinning, weaving, paper production, clothing and footwear and rubber manufacturing.

    It is well-known fact that the Philippines has a relative abundance of agricultural raw materilas and low-cost labour but with disadvantages as a lack of infrastructure or skilled labour. Philippines has overlooked that an increased in employment may result from setting an industry using a raw material.

    To a large extent promoting agro-industrial development and ensuring that agro-industry provides the optimal contributions to economic development depend on appropriate economic and other policies throughout the economy. Our government must invest in infrastructure and provide essentials services for the poor.

    Therefore, I would categorize Philippines as a cub tiger as it is on the threshold of agro-industry/ agroprocessing and infrastructure development with great promise.

    • Joe America says:

      Nice elaboration on the point I’ve made as to why technology is not anti-labor. I’m frankly unclear how to get from the current deep commitment to cooperatives to first-class productivity. Cooperatives are not profit-making and lack the drive and discipline that makes private business so successful. Maybe managing cooperatives needs to be privatized. I don’t know. I’m thinking in terms of being a congressman. If I were to want to energize farming, what bill could I pass. That’s where I get stumped.

    • The Mouse says:

      The PH government will have to create the necessary infrastructure first. A lot of agricultural goods from different places in the Philippines do not travel because of the lack of good roadways. If there are any, they’re usually with expensive toll fees. Hopefully, the PH will have freeways w/o toll fees like in major US freeways

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  1. […] I roundly support President Aquino and all that he is doing for the Philippines. The doors he is opening to honest governance and better economic performance are extraordinary. Refer to a recent blog I wrote that states how I see this: “The Philippines: Tigger or Stuffed Kitty?” […]



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