How LP can win with Mar Roxas

roxas sara black

Mar Roxas [by sara black]

I have taken UNA to task for being light on substance, populated by members of questionable character, and mainly a collection of people angling for wins. Not progress. [“UNA: political party or cabal of crooks?“]

What about the Liberal Party (LP)? What’s their means and meaning?

The LP platform

LP was formed by President Mar Roxas after World War II. The LP web site gives us a useful definition:


According to Pres. Manuel Roxas, a Liberal can be defined as such:

  • Fights hard for what he believes in, but concedes to those who disagree with him the right to fight in like manner, so long as they are fair.
  • Believes there is such a thing as truth, and it can best be determined in a free and open contest for the allegiance of men’s minds.
  • Believes that while the People may not always be right they usually are and if given free rein to choose and select, Righteousness, Truth and Justice will prevail.
  • Believes in progress toward the goals of Peace, Justice and Freedom; Believes in the greatest good for the greatest number; Believes that man can be led to Happiness and Prosperity but neither terrorized nor driven to these goals.
  • Believes in Reason and Enlightenment rather than fear and superstition, in Judgment rather than passion, Debate rather than Intrigue.

With all due respect to Mr. Roxas,

“Where’s the steak?”

There is not even any sizzle. In the U.S., we call these “motherhood” statements, or “mom and apple pie” statements, because they are eloquent announcements meant to be profound but they don’t really mean much. I suppose here they would be called “mama and biko” statements.

The LP web site page called “Platform” is a better, although the paragraphs of text make finding the meat hard. Here’s a highlighting of what I think is said there:

  • LP sees social conditions deteriorating and will not stand for it. LP seeks improvement of the quality of life of all Filipinos, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
  • Important principles are: freedom, human rights, participatory democracy, equality of opportunity and social justice, rule of law, good governance, international solidarity and nationalism.
  • LP believes that:
    • Individuals should have power in governance. Empowered communities empower individuals. Empowerment and opportunity belong to all, not a privileged few.
    • In economics, government’s task is to ensure that the market operates freely and efficiently by promoting competition and preventing monopoly.
    • Government must set a long-term framework and the conditions for economic success, including fostering competition, assuring good information and making investments that private enterprises won’t.
    • Economic development will be anchored on agrarian reform and true industrialization. The goal is to be competitive in the world market and be able to weather down cycles.
    • Investments should translate to food on every family’s table, decent housing and medical care and quality education for all. The welfare of the majority shall never be sacrificed to the gods of the global market.
    • A high quality of life can be attained if we give dignity, and offer opportunity, to those who would otherwise lack them. Government should maximize choices rather than treat citizens as passive recipients of services with no potential of their own.
    • Citizens whould be able to exercise real power over government institutions. Decisions should be taken as near as possible to the communities and individuals they most affect.
    • Citizens are guaranteed fundamental rights – economic, social and political. A participatory and decentralized democracy will give rise to better decision-making and genuine empowerment.
  • Liberals are uncompromisingly internationalist achieved by pursuing a foreign policy founded on the principles of mutual cooperation, political liberty and shared prosperity.

Again, the mind tends to boggle. It is hard to grasp these ideals. What, really are we talking about? And can we not simplify the message so the “disadvantaged” can actually comprehend it?

Democrat or republican?

Brief digression on figuring out what a party should stand for in the long run. That is, after the current crop of party honchos have gone to greener pastures.

Republicans in the US believe in a small central government and strong state and local powers. So does LP. Sort of. Democrats in the US believe in a strong network of social services. So does LP. But that requires a big central government.

I might personally question the efficacy of local decision-making because I think it works against development of best practices, efficiency or scale of production, and it fosters a lot of local bad dealings like corruption and shooting of opponents. But this can be bridged by other elements of the LP vision, including good information.

It may be beneficial to better crystalize the long-term vision of the party. That is, make it a real party of principle rather than personality. This hypothetical example will explain what I’m talking about:

  • LP believes the Philippines must provide more and better opportunities for people to improve their lot in life. This can be done by breaking down bureaucratic inefficiency in government, promoting a service-oriented, open and rigorous “management by objectives” style of work, and applying more automation and internationally proven “best practices” to help citizens. It can also be done by empowering local communities to develop responsible plans and programs to make more jobs available and provide essential life-enhancing services to residents.

Is LP a cabal of crooks?

This blog was hatched by reader 2BFair who commented:

  • “Joe, when you get back from vacation, hope you can do an op piece on LP as well — Butch Abad, Cesar Purisima, Frank Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan, etc. — characters in their own right.”

Is LP a cabal of crooks?

No. But its members work in an environment of “amoral interdependency”, and the willingness to partake of opportunities to gain and give favors and power. Call it politics on steroids. So ethical judgments are loose. There may be a few crooks or crooked dealings somewhere within the party. But the vision expressed is legitimate, and the corrupting influence of “power and favor” is not as pronounced as in UNA.

  • Senate Majority Leader Drilon will get a fair hearing in the Senate, I suspect, about charges that he received kickbacks from construction projects. The first hearing was rather a flop as no evidence of wrong-doing was presented and a lot of evidence of straightforward practices was presented.
  • No charges have been filed against Budget Secretary Abad. I think DAP was an effective transitional response from Arroyo to Aquino, if a little loose in the quick redirection of a lot of money. Overall, Abad has brought good discipline and better transparency to the budgeting arena. That more than offsets the burps in DAP execution.
  • PNP Chief Purisima will also get his fair hearing. I’d guess his wrongs are minor and maybe punishment will be, too. I hate to see a guy with huge responsibilities making only P107,000 a month bear the weight of the opposition’s wrath. It’s like Purisima is the only guy they’ve found to kick, so they are going to kick hard. That said, I don’t think he is a skilled manager . . . but that is a different topic . . .
  • Former Senator Kiko Pangilinan is new to me. I’m not aware of any corruption scandals. He did not run in 2013 because he snubbed party events early on and was dropped as a candidate. In other words, there were personality issues . . . He is tied to the entertainment world with marriage to Sharon Cuneta and as stepfather to KC Concepcion.

LP has no big time crooks of record. UNA does.

Which is better? Selling LP’s personalities or selling LP’s platform?

One of the problems for 2016 is that LP has no natural front-runner, a candidate who has the adoration of the masses as did President Aquino. And some of the shine has come off the President’s aura due to the normal wear and tear of having to make hard decisions in the public eye. So it is unknown whether or not the President’s endorsement would be strong enough to raise a non-popular candidate, say, Mar Roxas, to widespread popularity. I’d hedge my bet and say that any candidate . . . such as Mar Roxas . . . would have to stand on his own two feet.

I further think that if LP has no personality sizzle to sell, it ought to consider making the steak look really good.

Let us shift to imagination mode here. We can squeeze into a space-warp machine that sits us down at a conference table in Manila to figure out what we might do if we were LP’s driving force.

Well, I’d imagine we would figure out that LP ought to develop a vision, a platform, and a set of clear deeds that the chosen candidate promises to deliver. Then the Party and its candidates would pound that out relentlessly while doing the normal political tasks of responding to opposition attacks and undermining the opposition in every way possible. Building a huge campaign spending pot is an important part of the strategy, as we have no parking garages to over-price.

Here’s an example of what we might develop, starting with an essential slogan that cut’s at the opposition’s weakness while promoting a continuation of the Aquino achievements:

LP: “The Party of achievement through straight dealing”

Let’s say we go with a simple “steak” to explain it better. We’ll promote a platform of seven important initiatives:

  1. Continued strong economic growth.
  2. Continued rise in global reputation and attractiveness as a place to visit or do business.
  3. Continued infrastructure development.
  4. Continued efforts to find peaceful resolutions in areas of conflict.
  5. More effort to address poverty and lack of opportunity.
  6. Better preparation and response to natural disasters.
  7. Automating and regimenting government processes for better efficiency, transparency and service.

Past achievement in these areas is easy to demonstrate.

Then the real hot sell will come by promising specific deeds within these areas. I won’t elaborate on them because they should be campaign secrets. They should be developed with the goal of giving the selected candidate a personality as a competent, achievement oriented executive.

For example, one promise might be:

  • Re-engineer education: computers for kids; curricula that highlight personal accountability and problem-solving.

It falls under infrastructure.

We’d wake people up with a relentless, consistent message of positive development and opportunity.

It would take only a handful of vibrant, leading-edge campaign promises to build sizzle to the seven planks of the platform and give the candidate a very specific, upbeat personality.


[Editor’s note: The title of the blog was changed from “LP: political party or cabal of crooks?” due to the lack of “traction” in social networks. The original title was meant to replicate the title to an earlier blog on UNA, but if no one reads the blog, what’s the point, eh?]

73 Responses to “How LP can win with Mar Roxas”
  1. David Webb says:

    Political party or cabal of crooks? LP is a political party, which is represented by a relatively clean-cut president. I am not privy on the behind-closed-doors dealings of its members, nor corruption cases against them. Pnoy or Cory Magic has done a decent job in making LP members look like saints next to UNA peeps.

    Since you moved to the LP’s presidential bet’s selling point, I’ll say that your proposed “straight dealing” is quite normal for a Filipino political party.

    I always have the notion that all parties in the Philippines are populists. They ride on what the electorate wants– Basic needs or improving delivery of and access to those.

    Housing, infrastructure, education, peace and jobs. Every Filipino voter wants that.

    There’s no clear ideological divide like “govt is naturally inefficient” or “govt is necessary to maintain a civilized society.” Well, in terms of what’s written on political science textbooks I read.

    I dare to hazard that the divide is when it comes to the MEANS. The Binay crowd thinks that patronage and kickbacks are OK if it helps them survive for a day. “Trapos can steal millions as long as they provide me with a job.”

    Trickle down.

    On the other hand, the “enlightened” segment believes that progress is only achievable by embracing Western notions of rule of law, transparency and accountability. “The only way to sustainable progress is by adopting politically correct practices.”


    Sadly, when it’s campaign time, it’s the smiles, song numbers, giveaways, booty shaking of female artistas and the like that will matter for many.

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, David. I suppose you are right, even as I tried for more specificity in the platform as a way to gain distinction, that still does not draw the sharp divide between political philosophies like that in the U.S. . . . mainly because there aren’t any (they are all personality based) and distinction would have to be artificially created by being very bold in one’s pronouncements. “We, LP, believe the American style democracy is not in our best interest and we seek to reconfigure a federalist, parliamentary government through constitutional Amendment” Well, that doesn’t sell because no one trusts anyone who wants to touch the constitution.

      I still think the way to success for LP in dealing with their slate of non-personable personalities is to make the steak look really good by some sharp proposals. And everything they do needs to be very simple – not that gibberish we read now – to get the message across. I suppose those are the two things I came away with in putting the article together: (1) use deeds to embellish the personality, and (2) be simple and clear in the message.

    • edgar lores says:

      The natural ideological divide might be between the haves and have-nots.

      The haves are the urban rich (high society and the capitalists, the business class) and the rural rich (landed gentry and the business class). The have-nots are comprised of the urban poor (labor and squatters) and the rural poor (farmers and fishermen.) In-between would be the middle class.

      In a way, this social fragmentation is already well presented politically by the Left and the non-Left. I hesitate to use the term “Right”; at the moment, the non-Left are just pro-Self. But the Left is extremist and there are no prominent moderate Leftists. It is more anti-American than pro-Pinoy. With the exception of Loren (Legarda), no one is Green.

      This natural divide should result in the formation of a credible two-party system: Labor and Conservative.

      Perhaps the Comelec should formally mandate the formation of these two parties and no other, and kill the Party List system. Perhaps the extreme Left could be marginalized in a third party. Politicians would be obliged to join one or the other, according to their natural leanings, with disqualification for turncoatism.

      The drawing of contrasting platforms – one pro-Labor the other pro-Capital – would then be easy.

      If only things were that easy.

      • Joe America says:

        Most interesting. Wednesday’s blog on anger recognizes the sharpening of the class divide as the urban well-to-do face off against Binay, who is coddling up to the poor. So the natural alignment would be LP for the landed gentry and business class, and UNA for the poor. The problem with that is that LP would be moving away from the huge voting base and UNA needs the money from the rich to continue to gain funding. So the trick would be in the SOLUTION: LP taking care of the poor by building a robust capitalist state and UNA moving left and toward a socialist state that coddles the wealthy with favors.

        Lovely . . .

        • edgar lores says:

          I would hazard that the “meeting at the middle” strategy — convergence — is what politics is all about.

          I would not classify UNA as pro-poor. It’s pro-Self.

          • Joe America says:

            Right, today UNA is pro-self. The lack of any platform whatsoever is downright comical. I reflect on the MIT professor who called American voters idiots for voting for Obama Care (he worked on putting the program in place). I’m not sure what to call Filipino voters who relentlessly put people like Nancy Binay in office to determine their future. They don’t even ask her do do anything specific for them.

            But here we are idealizing. Thinking of a world in which principle becomes important. Perhaps LP adopts it in 2016 and wins, and so UNA, suffering great humiliation and defeat – along with other parties – go with principle and platform in 2022.

        • manuel buencamino says:

          The poor also have aspirations. Because of OFWs the poor, although not quite there yet, are beginning to think like the lower middle class, the most aspirational of all classes. The country has turned totally consumer, the greatest indicator of rising aspirationalism. And so offering opportunities, if messaged correctly, might do a better job at giving hope than giving out sardines and t-shirts which symbolize hopelessness.

          • Joe America says:

            That is a very fascinating point of view. For sure, the poor have their cell phones, status symbol #1. I hope you are right that they are beginning to think like the middle class. I look forward to the day when they take their hand-out from Binay (because they need it), then turn around, shudder as if ridding themselves of dirt, and think to themselves I’m not voting for that guy ’cause I know he is using me and it is an insult. Who knows, maybe they’ll head home and take a shower.

            • manuel buencamino says:

              Someone once told me that the secret to his huge mass consumer goods sales is the advertising that is aimed to an imaginary consumer a little higher than his intended market. He said politicians would gain a greater mass base if they thought along those lines. 🙂

      • David Webb says:

        The tricky part is the conservative-labor divide is not just about economics; there’s also the socio-cultural side.

        I expect many of those have-nots have “traditional beliefs” when it comes to religion and culture.

        • edgar lores says:

          Have to agree. The rich and the poor have the same religious persuasions, and would have the same views on controversial social issues.

  2. bauwow says:

    Uncle Joe, I think you got your “Purisimas” crossed. Cesar Purisima is the present secretary of the Finance Department. Alan is the present PNP Chief, I don’t know if he is a member of the Liberal Party.
    I believe that Congress should just abolish the multi party system. As our Constitution is patterned after the US, the two party system is more favorable for our country. I think the multi party system creates a lot of unnecessary “noise” that hinders the growth and maturity of the country.

    • Joe America says:

      Actually, I did get them wrong in a prior blog. But this time I wrote on PNP Chief Purisima because he is the guy in the news being investigated on corruption charges, and defended by President Aquino. It never struck me that he may have no party affiliation. I did not address Cesar Purisima because he has not been in the news on any corruption scandals, and my impression of him is that he is a well-paid technocrat rather than an underpaid politician who needed to steal to have a good lifestyle. It appears, however, that 2BEair was speaking of Cesar, so my discussion clearly missed that particular mark.

  3. may says:

    Uncle Joe, do you think Pnoy will endorse Sec Mar? I really want Sec Roxas will be the next president because I dont hear and read any anomaly/corruption since he enter politics. I really hate binay he is arrogant and he is not fit to be a president. He is corrupt and I pray he will be presocuted and go to prison before election time.

    Me and my family currently staying in Malaysia for 20 years. Since Pnoy win presidency in 2010 I was disappointed Mar Roxas did not make it, I was very angry and I know binay cheated him. Please uncle Joe, ask people specially the poor filipino voters to vote for MAR ROXAS this coming election.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I think President Aquino will endorse Mar Roxas. That is just a guess based on the President’s loyalty to people, and the “favor” he owes Mr. Roxas for stepping aside so Mr. Aquino could walk easily into the presidency. Plus Mar Roxas is clean as a whistle, and clearly represents the straight path that Mr. Aquino wishes to pursue.

  4. andrewlim8 says:


    It just occurred to me that the Phil political system – the parties with no clear philosophies and just parrot each other’s motherhood statements, are but a reflection of the relative youth and limitations of the race.

    Recently, the West just managed to land a space probe into a comet moving at more than 40T kmh, 4 billion miles away from earth. I consider myself well-read and well informed but when I heard about it for the first time, my jaw dropped. They could now do something like this?

    Back in the 14th or 15th century, they mastered the art and science of global navigation,using astronomy. The Philippines never got to master that on its own, and learned about it through osmosis and colonization. Same thing with constructing monuments using stone and steel. We only managed to learn that when it was passed on.

    My point being that it’s not in the cards yet, as the capacity to grasp original political thought, develop and write it is not there- maybe after a thousand years. By that time of course, other nations would have claimed parts of the galaxy as their territory and we would have been left behind again. har har har

    When I see the inherent disorderliness and lack of desire to organize their lives by many Filipinos
    (just observe vehicular traffic, and pedestrian behavior) I do not think it is the destiny of many here to create a First World order.

    Of course there are exceptions, but I think they are outnumbered.

    Ah my glass of Montepulciano red is making me think like this….

    • sonny says:

      This is the wonder of it all, Andrew. The knowledge to understand how & why the lander Philae landed on the comet is all comprehensible in select Philippine classrooms even right out of freshman Physics, i.e. first-world science & technology know-how is available to many Filipino students. Our engineering theory is first-world, our engineering practice is not because our practice in economics, finance, business, government, sociology, etc are not. A graphic that shows this is a map of the interstate freeway system of the US. Notice well how no US city is isolated from any nor all of the other cities, viz. commerce, communications, infrastructure all connected. Now I am the one who needs that glass of Montepulciano red.:-)

    • sonny says:

      The thousand years need not be so. 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, my, Andrew. You better switch to kickapoo joy juice, as it has a unique uplifting quality that allows us to see the best in the most rotten circumstances.

      The capacity to grasp original political thought . . . that is the challenge, for sure. But I see MBO (Management by Objectives) moving into the Administration’s play book, and if that is done seriously, it by necessity encourages original thought to solve problems. Like, “why are we behind on poverty; uh . . . not enough depth in the economy, not enough manufacturing.” There certainly is enough brainpower in the Philippines to do anything. It just needs to be focused by analytic structure on finding solutions.

    • manuel buencamino says:


      Filipinos did not need colonial instruction to sail the seas. Just like their south pacific brothers they used their knowledge of the stars, ocean currents,weather patterns etc to navigate. Who stood at the right hand of those Spanish and Portuguesse captains when they sailed the Pacific and Indian Oceans? They were called translators in those captains’ logs but really they translated what the seas and the skies had to say. The colonial mind has a difficult time accepting the fact that there were civilizations that existed outside of Europe, civilizations as advanced as theirs. You can see that mentality up to the present day. Watch those nuts in Discovery and History channels and their ancient aliens theories. They cannot accept the fact that “uncivilized and zero technology” natives were able to build pyramids, highly complex calendars, mathematics etc. so they conclude aliens must have imparted knowledge to those Egytians and Druids and Incas and Mayas etc etc. Let’s just say that the West had navigational tools and technology that were different from what the rest of the world had but both were quite effective.

      There were also democratic systems here and all over the world way before the West imposed their religion and political sytems on its colonies. And now look at America today, is it a real working democracy or is it a plutocracy disguised as a democracy. Europe is fast on the heels of America as the wealth gap and consequently the concentration of power continues to grow.

      In short, what I’m trying to say is stereotyping is not a very good tool for analysis

  5. 2BFair says:

    Great effort on this op piece Joe!

    It’s a little difficult to get dirt on LP because the media is enthralled with the blatant thievery with the Makati government buildings, and the Binay Hacienda. The public needs to be able to be able to dig deeper, and this is where I wish the FOI bill would finally become law.

    In the case of Butch Abad, it was news for maybe a day, that an obvious chunk of the DAP went to his home province of Batanes, where his wife is a Congresswoman.

    With Cesar Purisima his ties run deep with the Ayalas, which is why other PPP bidders want to tie-up with Ayala Corp., if only to get a chance to win some of the pie. There is a white paper floating around the internet regarding Purisima’s fame and fortune (and his relationship to the Ayalas). It used to be easy to Google, now I can’t find the darn thing. What’s left is the YouTube slide presentation that doesn’t go into the same detail. Oh, well. Furthermore, during the DAP hearing in the senate, there was a line item regarding a 3B peso payment to SGS to settle a PDIC debt, that Cesar Purisima convinced Abad to use the DAP to pay for. This debt was incurred during the first Aquino administration, and had been written off already (being 30+ years old). Why the need to pay it off? And in full?

    With regards to the Ilo-ilo convention center, because Frank Drilon and Sec. Singson are quite articulate, their explanations seem pretty credible. But if you read between the lines, Singson is trying to pull the same thing that Junjun Binay is trying to pull with the excuse that the building’s roof is a roof deck and should be counted as square meterage. Well, credibility is key, and the complainant has none.

    Regarding Kiko Pangilinan, yes there is no corruption case that comes to mind. But I distinctly remember the 2004 senate hearings regarding the rampant cheating in the ’04 presidential elections. Pangilinan railroaded the hearings by cutting off the opposition frequently and routinely and declaring “noted”.

    Because blatant cheating and stealing still happens in the Philippines, people get desensitized. So stealing and cheating a little bit here and there, becomes forgivable. (Case in point, General Purisima). We have to work hard to get the big fish finally convicted. Gloria Arroyo though in custody, has yet to be convicted of anything. Enrile, Revilla, and Ejercito will probably take longer. And because the 3 senators cases are taking so long, I seriously doubt the next set of legislators involved in the PDAF scam will ever see the inside of a courtroom.

    David Webb is right to say that the honor and reputation that the mother and son Aquino’s have, shield the party from public scrutiny. But in a year and a half, the LP will no longer have PNoy to coddle them. But then again, if Binay becomes president, there won’t be much of an LP party to speak of, because majority would’ve jumped ship and become UNA.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, 2BFair, I can tell I had some hits and some misses and I rather wish you had done this blog. 🙂 🙂 I am handicapped by not having lived here long enough to understand some of the players (Cesar Purisima), nor do I know people inside who could relate some of the dirty laundry. Your point is that a lot of suspicious deeds are masked by the good governance agenda. Purisima’s 3B payment, Abad’s release of DAP to his wife’s LGU, and Pangilinan’s railroading of ’04 election hearings (I wonder what Poe has to say about that).

      The only one I am familiar with is Abad’s DAP release to his wife’s district. That is perhaps a perfect example of the scale that exists between normal politics on the low side and outright theft on the high side. The term “amoral interdependence” means that wheeling and dealing is acceptable practice in the Philippines, so what Abad did is normal. He used his power to grant a favor. EVERY politician does that, to some extent. When does it cross the line?

      What is happening is that the line is being drawn tighter so that outright theft is being prosecuted. But favors not.

      You seem to have good insight into the back room of politics. If you ever wanted to lay out some matters (such as Purisima) in a blog, I’d love to publish it. It is a gap in my knowledge base.

      In any event, I’m glad you suggested the blog because it got me focused on how to “sell” a candidate who is not a showman.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        Besides Joe, Batanes is one of the poorest provinces. Is it not only right that the poorest get a lot more assistance from the national government than better-off provinces?

        • Joe America says:

          That’s what the President said, and I didn’t question it. Someone who did could overlay all the expense over all the provinces, by poverty rating, and do it analytically. I accept that people in politics don’t play objective all the time. Being a thief, or bribing someone, is a little different, however.

        • 2BFair says:

          The Abad’s have held the congressional seat of Batanes since the 80’s, so it’s a good assumption that the congressional pork that’s been earmarked for the Abad’s has been making it to Batanes all these years. And yet Batanes is one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. So the solution is to send more money?

    • manuel buencamino says:

      Purisima, Ayala, and PPP. (“which is why other PPP bidders want to tie-up with Ayala Corp., if only to get a chance to win some of the pie”.)

      So that would explain why the huge road project the Ayalas won recently was rebidded to give Ramon Ang’s offer a second chance?

      • 2BFair says:

        CALAX PPP is not yet rebidded. PNoy wants it rebidded, but his staff is unconvinced. Ramon Ang convinced PNoy that, yet again, Ayala Corp was being given preference. San Miguel was initially disqualified due to a stupid mistake done by the proposal underwriter, where there was a typo on a due date. For that reason, they were going to disqualify San Miguel, who was the highest bidder — by 10B more than the Ayalas. Actually this bid by the Ayalas is another example of how companies see the need to tie up with Ayala Corp in order to get preferential treatment. The Ayala bid was a tie-up with Aboitiz.

        • manuel buencamino says:

          Exactly. You just convinced me that Ayala does not have PNoy in its pocket, that PNoy thinks that an extra P10B for the government is a pretty good argument against typos.

  6. 2BFair says:

    “What is happening is that the line is being drawn tighter so that outright theft is being prosecuted. But favors not.” Nail on the head Joe! Philippine politics and norms are maturing. Getting closer to that of the U.S.? 🙂 Being a political junkie, I wish we had the equivalent of CSPAN here.

    Regarding writing a blog … tempting. I think I have more to learn before I make an attempt. Especially if you’re the benchmark.

    I hope a member of the LP or Mar’s campaign team, gets a hold of this blog. I think this would be of much help to them. Heck, they should try luring you out of retirement, and recruit you to work with Abaya and Erice 🙂 God knows they need the help, and perspectives like yours is what the party needs.

    • Joe America says:

      I give the Philippines credit for moving in the right direction, both on tightening the line on corruption, but also in airing more live legislative and court events. I am looking forward to this week’s subcommittee hearing, which is covered live. CNN will be coming to the Philippines on Channel 9 news (which I get, oddly enough, on channel 12 or somesuch). So that may up the competitive ante.

      Every blog writer has his own style, so don’t worry about that so much. Just do your thing. I can help with edits and set-up. Most of the writers ask me to pick the photo and let me muck around with edits, so it is a joint effort.

      President Aquino’s staff follow this blog, so I’m confident it will get to Mar Roxas or his people. I don’t need the stress of doing REAL work, but I’d guess there are a lot of young American business planners who would love working behind the scenes on a political campaign, or advising an agency on work methods.

      • Joe America says:

        And there are people like Edgar Lores who could do it, too. Or a lot of the people who contribute here and demonstrate the ability to synthesize information and arguments and enumerate solutions and priorities.

  7. edgar lores says:

    1. The so-called platforms are woeful and laughable.

    2. What I would like to see are short- , middle- and long-term goals.

    3. Policies should cover every field of government planning and administration as delineated by cabinet roles. Important areas would be just not policies on family, education, business, workers, health, jobs, students, senior citizens, welfare, the environment, indigenous people, and Muslims, but a philosophy on these.

    3.1. What exactly are the philosophical ideas about equality, fairness, and the pursuit of happiness?

    3.1. I would want to know policy positions on grey areas in the constitution such as the economic provisions, political dynasties, the Party List System, the barangay system, term limits, national territory (re the China problem), and the separation doctrine (which should include the removal of religious paraphernalia in government offices and buildings).

    3.2. More, I would want to see policy positions on controversial issues such as divorce, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage – and, of course, corruption.

    4. Just on infrastructure alone, it would be good to know specific plans – requirements, forecasts and solutions — on:

    o Roads and bridges
    o Public transport – buses, trains, and ferries
    o Inter-island shipping and communications
    o Airports
    o Communications – telephony, internet, satellite
    o Energy
    o Etc, etc, etc

    5. Gazooks! I haven’t mentioned agriculture, fishery and natural resources (forestry, mining, gas and oil exploration) yet.

    6. I think the philosophy and the long-range targets are important to define first. This is the vision thing. The articulated vision should inform and guide the specifics.

    6.1. Faced with such a daunting task, I can only imagine Binay and Pacquiao going, “Huh? Don’t look at me. I just wanna be president. And I can show you my dancing, singing, stealing and boxing skills. And, here, have a free T-shirt.”

    • Joe America says:

      Ahahaha, yes, indeed, that T-shirt. I actually think that NEDA takes this approach in developing the “Development Plan”, and it is fundamentally good, and it is thorough, and it is measurable, to some extent. What is missing is, as you suggest, the REASON we are doing things, or the sense of PRIORITY. The plan is in fact so huge that it is unreadable to most. And translating of goals into terms common people can grasp as meaning something to THEM. That is poorly done.

      The brainstorming that goes into building the principles, and then overlaying them on a set of specific acts, would be most invigorating, I think. Saying it in common words would be tricky, but doable.

      To be frank, UNA’s saying of nothing and the words in LP’s plan say basically the same thing to me. Nothing.

      • edgar lores says:

        1. NEDA seems to be planning, implementation and monitoring (metrics) of infrastructure projects and social and economic development.

        2. It is composed of a Board and a Secretariat.
        2.1. The Board is comprised of the president (chairman) and the cabinet (members) and the Director-General of the Secretariat (vice-chairman).
        2.2. The Secretariat is the technical and administrative staff. It is headed by the Director-General and three Assistant Director-Generals that are responsible for National Development, Regional Development and Central Support Office. All the Director-Generals are appointed by the President.

        3. This is a puzzlement.
        3.1. My first impression is that NEDA represents centralized planning. This is well and good.
        3.2. However, the Director-Generals are appointed by the president and their terms appear to be coterminous with the appointing power. The terms of the Board members – that is, the Cabinet – are also coterminous with the president.
        3.3. Question 1: How is continuity in planning and implementation ensured? The partial answer is: By the Secretariat.

        3.4. Question 2: What assurance is there that long-range infrastructure and socioeconomic planning and goals will be sustained over 12, 16, to 24 years? The partial answer is: There is no guarantee and there is hardly any long-term plans. The time horizon for planning is tied to the political cycle. But I would suppose that incoming presidents would honor major projects started by their predecessors. Projects, yes. But not policies.

        3.5. So there is an advantage – central planning – and a disadvantage – continuity. Short- and mid-range goals are doable but not long-range goals such as bullet trains and ship-industry building.

        4. I have briefly looked at the Midterm Update of the 2011-2016 development plan. The report is just short of 350 pages and the Table of Contents alone is impressive. There are tables and figures galore. The list of acronyms is 10 pages long. The report covers micro- and macro-economic policies, infrastructure, the different sectors of the economy (industry, services, agriculture, fisheries, etc.), financial system, social development, good governance, and even sustainability.

        4.1. On page 21, I find a table of the major infrastructure projects.

        4.2. The table names airports, roads, expressways and Urban Transport System. But no plans, no vision for rails and trains. This is the myopia I am referring to.

        4.3. Under Urban Transport System, the table lists the LRT and MRT lines for rehabilitation and expansion. So why do we have this plague of problems with the MRT and LRT? What is the disconnection between NEDA and the DILG? Why is there a gap between planning and execution? And where is a list of plans for public transportation in other urban areas outside of Metro Manila?

        5. I am not an economist and am not qualified to critique economic policy. I just know that fiscal policy is a central plank in political platforms. Further, I am aware that in Western countries, parties furiously debate on this matter and we hear talk of Thatcherism, Reaganism, big government vs. small government, what economic levers need adjustment, whether pro-labor or pro-capital policies should be promoted, and whether to expand or reign in welfare programs. In Australia, the equivalent of SONA (which is a review) is Budget Night (which is the plan for the incoming year). The Budget is based on policies, long-term ones that adhere to party philosophy and short- to middle-term ones that implement the philosophy. I am just wondering how NEDA can plan confidently about economic expenditure and direction when this is such a dynamic area of political policy.

        6. It partly seems to me that NEDA and the DBM have taken matters into their own hands, matters that rightly belong to political parties and their mandates from the citizens. There is no need for a detailed platform because the technocrats have their short-sighted answers. This means that politicians have time on their hands, which they can spend drafting laws that mark a new holiday, rename a street, or attend a Pacquiao boxing match. And so citizens continue to suffer on their daily commute and politicians continue to sing and dance while surreptitiously grabbing land and condos, and building haciendas with magnificent gardens.

        • Joe America says:

          Several thoughts:

          Policy variations from term to term is perhaps the second greatest flaw in the democratic system. The Philippines actually has more consistency than the U.S. with its sharply opposed parties. When parties change, the U.S. gets in or out of wars, and applies different standards across the board. Up with Obama Care, down with Obama Care. The Philippines is at least consistent in its general policy directions. Unfortunately, mediocrity is the fundamental output over the long term.

          The greatest flaw of democracy is the undermining of national well-being by partisan bickering. Brinksmanship and all that.

          The train problem really rests with DOTC under Abaya rather than DILG under Roxas. I am singularly unimpressed with Abaya’s output and if I were President he’d probably have been gone about a year ago. There seems to be no vision, no decisions, and repeated failed biddings. He’s been there for years and there is still no clear solution on airports. Nor trains.

          NEDA’s exhaustive effort is actually applied by the President to see, for example, his administration’s failure to meet poverty goals. He likes the numbers. But the planning is rife with the flaws of people new to the planning task, or unfamiliar with modern best practices. There’s too much on show, and on exhaustive show, and not enough on using the numbers to get results. The best planners I worked with are the Japanese. The prototype business plan for the corporation and for the business units was two pages. They got profits out of the company that the British and Americans before them could not.

          • edgar lores says:

            Thanks for the correction on the acronyms.

            The DOTC failure is NEDA’s failure too. Alarm bells on MRT should have ringing during Mar’s stewardship. The council is supposed to meet at least once a month.

            Oh, and I hate that I was serenaded by a song when I went to the website.

            I agree consistency in the long-term is an advantage… unless the policy direction is wrong. In Australia, there is this absurd situation of the incoming administration, if it used to be the opposition, overturning previous legislation on the grounds of a new mandate. We used to have a climate change policy, now we have none. The interpretation of being an opposition is to oppose, and not to refine. Which is what is happening in America. If something like Obamacare is basically good, then you find out what the flaws are and improve the system. Most advanced countries have sensible health systems in place. The billing of hospitals of medical expenses in the US is out of this world.

            The disadvantage of policy variations can be smoothed over by continuity. Alan Greenspan was chairman of the Federal Reserve for 19 years. Government needs to establish what agencies are critical to have continuity across presidential administrations. Why does (Zenaida) Ducut of the Energy Regulatory Commission have tenure and not the top non-cabinet directors of NEDA and DBM?

            The problems that we are discussing do not really pertain to policy (content) but to structure (form). The Founding Fathers were sensitive to this type of problems and had great foresight. Filipinos lack a sense of both form and content (such as that song on the NEDA website and the inability to recognize satire). We have this attitude of mediocrity of “maski-ano” (whatever!) and “puede na rin” (that will do!).

            OK, add a “culture of mediocrity” to our growing list of dysfunctions.

            • Joe America says:

              So added.

              I was reading about the Australian PM’s rather bizarre speakings. Good luck with him.

              Your solution is excellent. Apolitical offices staffed by apolitical people that don’t get termed out.

          • josephivo says:

            8 years ago, working for DAR, I organized a “market” for all regional departments assisting ARC’s (agrarian reform beneficiaries) to present their recent improvements: LGU officers, DAR personnel, Neda, DA, DTI, Land Bank… all were enthusiastic to meet their counterparts of other agencies, many for the first time! (on top of free food and travel allowances). Regional planning boards were on directors’ level and little trickled down to the provincial officers and local implementers. The press was invited too, but they wanted money to attend, something we couldn’t support. The initiative set up as a yearly competition of improvement projects died out as soon as the foreign donor left (a year later) – and unfortunately our internal DAR sponsor suddenly passed away too.

            Indeed the administration is carrying the ball but in such an inefficient way. You need political skills to find common denominators and political parties with vision to provide direction and synergies. Everyone did bet on his “big man”, his supporting mayor, governor, provincial or regional director but not on the common good. Is the current administration doing a better job?

            • Joe America says:

              The administration is doing a better job, but not dramatically. The LGU’s are now being measured by “competitiveness” for example. More along those lines would make a material difference.

    • David Webb says:

      Long range goals are kinda tricky too.

      When admin changes from one to another, streamlining policies will be tough.

      if the constitution permits, legislating those “development plans” per sector will ensure sustainability. To the extent that there will be specific time tables. And failing to implement tasks on time will be subject to penalty (e.g., department budget cut, which is a certain percentage of the previous annual budget).

      But indeed, if most Filipinos share that “philosophy toward development,” I guess there’ll be no need to use legal mechanisms.

      In short, Philippines needs a “philosophical leader” like you Edgar.

      • edgar lores says:

        Thanks, David. I must decline the nomination. Who said, “If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve?”

        Perhaps long-term planning and implementation should be the result of bi- or multi-lateral consensus? This would be a cinch in a two-party system.

        If we look at China, its one-party system, and central planning, it has made the greatest economic strides since Deng Xiaoping came out with his modernization program in 1978. On the bright side, the Three Gorges Dam, a 20-year project approved in 1992, could never have been initiated in a two-party system. And perhaps neither the bullet trains. On the shadow side, we have pollution and ghost cities.

        It’s always a question of balance, isn’t it? There must always be some anchoring – not in common sense – but in good sense.

        • Joe America says:

          I think Mariano said that. ahahahaha

        • Jose Guevarra says:

          I am greatly impressed by the exchange of ideas here. Seems like we have at least two guys who we should really push to run for public office. Kudos to Edgar and David (am I right to assume David is also Filipino?) I would have included Joe, but he’s as American as the earth is round, so he can’t even be a Barangay Chairperson.

          • Joe America says:

            Ahahahaha, yes, but I can be a “lip” as an opinion monger. 🙂 My wife can be Barangay Chairperson. She always does what I want . . . oh, never mind . . . she doesn’t . . .

  8. manuel buencamino says:

    People vote with their hearts, not their minds. That is why fear, disgust, nostalgia, charisma are some of the common go-tos that power campaigns all over the world. Even in countries where people vote for parties rather than personalities, a party goes up or down depending on who personifies the party. So you had Thatcher and the Tories dominate the UK until Thatcher became Thatcherism. And then Labor took over – Blair was the fresh face until he became stale and the Tories were given another go at it. And look at Reagan, he was pure sizzle but the sizzle lasted long enough to elect George the First. (Then again, Dukakis maybe sounded too much like Ducaca so maybe that could have had something to do with it.) A charismatic candidate with substance comes along once in very rare whiles, when someone likes that comes along, grab him and don’t let go.

    • josephivo says:

      Yes, the old parties erode, populism and individuals that can make the difference on TV (starting with Kennedy vs Nixon in 1961) are getting more important. But the Democrats, Labor, Tories and Republicans still have an ideology, a structure, members, a consistent history… one can relate to or not. Obama as a Republican? Blair as a Conservative? The additional push of diehard party members, befriended newspapers and TV stations or donor cash can still make the difference in the US or UK.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        Today’s Democratics could be confused with progressive Republicans of 30 years ago. Clinton’s triangulation strategy, probably germinated at the famous Washington dinners hosted by Pamela Harriman in her Georgetown townhouse during the Reagan years for young up and coming Democrats, was the one that moved the Democratic Party towards a political space once occupied by Republican progressives and centrists. Tony Blair also moved the Labor Party towards a more centrist position. The Democrats and Labor moved into the vacuum created when Reagan and Thatcher moved to the extreme right, which by the way would be middle ground now if measured against the Tea Party. So are Labor and the Democrats faithful to the traditional ideology and historically consistent? They would be unrecognizable to old Democrats and Laborites.

        On TV and the Kennedy-Nixon debates. It was still charisma, the candidate touching the heart of the voter, that counted. The difference is TV gave photogenic candidates an edge they did not enjoy when campaigns were all about town rallies and speaking from the back of trains.

    • Joe America says:

      Or Obama . . . ahahahahaha . . . America seems to be letting go of the guy . . .

  9. josephivo says:

    Why to talk about parties if only opportunistic coalitions of individuals exist. Philippine parties have no membership base, no related unions or other pressure groups, no study groups or think-tanks, no or just little international affiliations, a small economic basis in offices, investment funds…

    Just sticking the word party on a group loosely aligned individuals doesn’t make it a party. Let us talk about Aquino and co stands for and why other line up or about Binay and co, Miriam and co, Villar and co…. But forget about parties, it will make politics much easier to understand.

    • Joe America says:

      The reason is to talk about them is to change them. It may be necessary for LP to do that . . . to go with a real platform and specific proposals . . . to make an uninspiring candidate inspirational. It’s a start.

      It’s fine to organize ideas differently. Guest blogs are most welcome.

  10. gerverg1885 says:

    Mar Roxas could win against Binay if both players would use every rule of fairness that is known to civilized minds. But Binay does not know rules of any kind; it’s just winning at any costs that he is so much obsessed with like what he did in the 2010 elections where his “ground organizations” applied the dirtiest tricks to secure the votes in rural and remote areas.

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t think Binay will be president. There is too much anger rising against him. Tomorrow’s blog.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        Joe, you keep forgetting that when there 7, 8, or 9 candidates in a Presidential election with no run-offs (as is the case in the Philippines), the leading candidate only needs to garner as little as 25% of the votes (that’s assuming the remaining 75 % are somewhat equally spread among the remaining candidates). With that said, most of the anger against Binay is concentrated in Metro Manila (with the exceptiion of the poor in Makati), and other urban population centers, making up less than half of the national electorate. Heck, we’re not even proportionately represented in the House these days. So with Binay focusing in less urbanized areas, he can still win. The only way to defeat him is for everyone who is anti-Binay to UNITE behind ONE and ONLY ONE candidate in 2016.

        • Joe America says:

          That’s true. Splitting the vote is what happened when Fernando Poe lost to Arroyo, thanks to Lacson’s hard-headed refusal to step out of the race.

          I think the anger that is building in Manila will flow gradually outward. Already, we see Binay starting to come up against skepticism, if not resistance, in his outlying visits.

  11. I’ve been thinking about this as an exercise in problem solving and I have a suggestion.

    One of Raissa’s post showed a picture of Mar in a padyak/tricycle while Robredo was in the background playing the part of a Hawi Boy/Bouncer.

    Then it hit me. I trust in Mar because I trust in Robredo. I trust the person who left someone who helped start his political career out of principle. I trust the judgement of someone who showed us what public service could be,

    I think the PR campaign of Mar/LP should start from there. I trust in Mar because…

    The second part of this is the part where we run the campaign that we want to run.

    This is where we say. Robredo trusted Mar because he believed in Good Performance based governance. Robredo trusted Mar because they believe in freedom, human rights, participatory democracy, equality of opportunity and social justice, rule of law, good governance, international solidarity and nationalism.

    The kicker would be the Presidential endorsement. The President goes on TV and says “I endorse Mar because he is the person I best believe can continue my baby steps toward a better Philippines”

    Had to write this before going to sleep. Good Night Joe!

    • Joe America says:

      Good morning, giancarloangulo. You will have to inform me of how you like to be addressed so I can save wear and tear on my keyboard. 🙂

      I think that is a great suggestion and I could see it in action if Leni Robredo were to endorse Mar Roxas. Essentially attach the popularity and character of Robredo to Roxas and make the point that character is the number on e issue in this election. Some would be cynical about it, I am sure, but if handled gracefully, it could be a definite plus. Actually, I think Leni Robredo will give whomever she endorses a bit of a boost.

    • edgar lores says:


      That is a great idea. I know that TRUST as a political issue has worked here in Australia. The political campaign question was: Who can you trust?

      My reservation is that this issue may not work in our country. Mapagkatiwalaan (Trust) is the third virtue of Robredo’s gospel of “Matino, mahusay at mapagkatiwalaan.” That third virtue is sometimes lost in the quoting.

      Tiwala may not work because it is not a recognized Filipino virtue. Trust is faith, good faith, and we do not, as a people, act in good faith or in expectation of it. Quite the contrary, we expect our fellow countrymen to act in bad faith, especially our politicians.

      Be that as it may, perhaps it is time to put this issue to the test and see whether our countrymen are as enlightened as you are — and as Robredo was.

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