The Philippine Senate: “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog”

group of dogs basset hound sitting on the road

Senators in conference? [Photo credit:]

Dear readers, may I kindly request your permission to speak undiplomatically? To set delacadeza aside in the interest of candor? To stomp through the bushes rather than beat around them?

It seems to me I can either zip my lip and remain silent, as so many notables do when regarding VP Binay’s escapades. Or I can stand up and speak for values, for ethics, for principles, for good and honorable deeds.

I mean, I’m wondering. Are you as disgusted as I am about the lack of character demonstrated by the Senate here in the Philippines? Does it seem to you to be a pack unprincipled, self-serving, non-performing hypocrites?

Like they are working for someone’s interest, but it isn’t yours?

It seems that way to me.

  • They let an artifact who should be in jail dominate their agenda for political revenge. He and a few ambitious people seeking the presidency are about the only people in the nation who want to climb through the Mamasapano grief once again. In the name of politics. Meanwhile other important laws languish, the internationally acclaimed BBL being one of them.
  • The senators play politics. Politics, entitlement, impunity. That’s what they do. Politics over principle, over service, over moving the nation up. It’s what they did in a SET ruling that ignored Philippine law in favor of international law. Even the best of the best, the most principled of them . . . Senator Bam Aquino . . . gave way. And along with his vote, hope for a different kind of national leadership dimmed.
  • It looks like we will never get a National Land Use Law. It steps on too many entitled toes for the pandering political senators.
  • Senator Pia Cayetano raged about the plight of poor women after a few of her stealthier colleagues, including a woman by the name of Senator Legarda, stripped 1.1 billion pesos and a lot of health out of RH Law funding . . . for the sake of their religion. Senator Cayetano is the same woman who is silent about presidential candidate Duterte’s crude behavior toward women, his philandering and objectifying and molesting. What nation do these women senators serve, I wonder? The Catholic nation only? The re-election nation? Or our nation?
  • We see Senators Poe and Binay undermining Philippine institutions for political gain. They attack the Ombudsman, the courts, the DOJ, COMELEC, or any body that goes against their will. And at the end of the day, when we ask, “what does the Senate have to show for anything”, we find a raft of flawed, wordy, overly detailed, half-baked laws that they pawn off to Executive to execute, and then the senators stand back and snipe. How about working on a well run Senate institution before lecturing others on how to run their business? How about writing some really good, really important law.
  • The senators passed a social security raise of P2,000 per beneficiary per month but stripped out the funding mechanism, thereby undermining the solvency of the fund. They let President Aquino bear the political heat defending the nation’s best interest because they did not have the courage to do so. They saw the bath water of political expedience during an election year and dumped the baby into the President’s lap. “Here’s a foundling bill, Mr. President.” Born of political game-playing.
  • It is a body of actors and daughters, thieves and coup masters. As near as I can tell only four – Senators Angara, Villar, Recto and Aquino – are at least half-dedicated servants of public good. The rest . . . well, they show up if the television cameras will be there . . .
    deleon and sotto on eat baluga philstar

    Joey de Leon and Sen. Tito Sotto on “Eat Baluga” [Photo credit: Philstar]

  • Senator Pimentel’s political party would give us a murderous, lascivious autocrat as president and Pimentel has the gall to criticize Vice President Binay about stealing a few billion? As if money were more important than lives, laws, decency and human rights. I fully expect the PDP-Laban platform to read “Coming soon, a Death Squad in YOUR town!”
  • I don’t even have to mention Senator Cayetano, trailing around behind Duterte like the clowns following the elephants at the circus sweeping up their sizable emanations. I wonder who will star Cayetano in the movie to be released soon entitled “The young and the ambitious”. Subtitled “Unprincipled self-dealers who can rationalize anything”.
  • Two of the esteemed senatorial body remain in jail, even though the third escaped by playing the Supreme Court for a pack of fools. “He’s too old and frail to keep in jail”, the highest court in the land declared. They let him out so he could ransack the nation’s dignity. And the court’s integrity . . . in favor of entitlement and impunity. And people wonder why it is so hard to get people to follow laws hereabouts.
  • Senator Sotto is leading the field of candidates for senate in 2016. He’s the plagiarist who put sotto-copy into our dialogue, stripped poor women of contraceptive protections, spends his lunch time being ridiculous on television and has written . . . what legislation, exactly . . . to build the nation? Not too far behind him in the polls is a boxing champ. Boy howdy, that will move the nation dramatically forward.

clowns 1 dot bp dot blogspot dot com

The crowd that dumped Social Security onto the President? [Photo credit:]

“Yeah, but Hey, Joe, it’s no different in the US!”

You know, while I’m being blunt, let me tell you  that I’m sick of that diversionary argument. It is a dumbing down of the discussion. If the US Congress is a pack of self-serving puppets to corporate America, does that justify Philippine senators being self-serving and negligent, too?

No, no.


That is the age-old trick of rationalizing bad behavior. Of doing the old “everyone else gets away with it, so why not us?”

Stand up. Face up. Deal with it. Integrity and accountability are what you assign to yourself. There is no comparison needed, other than to your own behavior, and your own principles, and your own accomplishments.

Can we kindly end this nationwide trend of trying to avoid accountability? Can we, ourselves, at least make an effort?

“Okay, so what do you expect, JoeBoy? You’re so smart.”

It’s not what I expect. It is what YOU ought to expect.

No, it is what you ought to DEMAND!

  • You should demand that the Senate behave like the most sophisticated and advanced domestic diplomats on the face of the planet. Like a real upper house, like people of integrity, dignified, principled, ethical, where the well-being of the nation and respect for the principles of democracy are more important than the senators, as individuals.
  • You should demand that they chair an Ethics Committee and hold themselves to proper behavior. You should demand that members who make their way to jail are stripped of any influence over any laws, for the shame they bring to the institution . . . and to keep them from having any say over the rest of us.
  • You should demand that they stop spewing forth long lists of individual legislative claims that rarely happen. You should demand that they annually . . . collectively . . . draft a statement of highest NATIONAL PRIORITIES that stops old geezers and political opportunists from hijacking the agenda whilst the well-being of the nation goes suffering.
  • You should demand that they figure out how to make laws more meaningful by focusing on profound policy. By stripping out the mind-boggling details and putting them into an agency so that laws keep up with the times. Like, kindly get the building code out of the national law and let an agency say what size nails we should use.
  • You should demand that they be brave and do tough, important  work instead of pandering to the entitled. Demand that they pass a National Land Use law that preserves open spaces and resources and puts some order to development and zoning regulations that are so haphazard today that it is risky to walk down the sidewalk of most cities. If there is a sidewalk.

You should demand that they work with a measure of honor, of patriotic priority, like soldiers in battle. Willing to sacrifice their own greed and ambition for us.

It isn’t that hard to do, really.

It’s just new for them.


282 Responses to “The Philippine Senate: “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog””
  1. josephivo says:

    It is often clear that most senators are just the actors, following a script, knowledge as far as they are briefed and nothing more. I always wonder who their advisors are. As parties do not exist, who selects them, how are they structured, who steers them?

    Trillianes has 43 consultants, and the others? What is there expertise? 2 on subject matters and 41 on politics?

    • Joe America says:

      There does seem to be a veneer of “presentation” to much that they do. I had not really thought of that, but it certainly connects. One can almost do a ranking of genuine to fake. I’d put Aquino near the bottom (not fake) and . . . a whole bunch near the top.

    • karl garcia says:

      my father is one of consultants of Trillanes in the senate, i have met some of his staff and his family.
      I have often ranted on too much bills filed and not too much laws passed, in fairness Trillanes has filed a lot and a number has been signed into law.
      I can only speak for my dad
      As a consultant,my dad does not have all the answers,but often finds the people who do know the answer. For internet stuff,that is where I come in.
      i will stop now.

      • Joe America says:

        I put your and josephivo’s thoughts together and recognize that there are two roles played. One, the legitimate, earnest solution for information and advice. The other, being on stage, either for the people, or for their benefactors, or for their own advantage. So on the scale I mentioned, Senator Aquino has mostly sincerity and a little acting (politics), and Senator Trillanes may be much the same, but with different allegiances and history (military). But there are others who are on the stage every day and one has a hard time figuring out what they really are for, because their real legislative persona becomes the actor.

        • karl garcia says:

          So true.
          I have been impressed by Bam Aquino’s performance and accomplishment.He is one of the young guns. I was surprised by his SETvote,but like Jean said I may not agree ,but I understand.

  2. Rolly garcia says:

    Well said joe. The question is having such kind of senators including congressmen, where are we going. I been out of the country and observe what’s going on, a lot of questions but no direct specific answer because of uncertainty. Mercy.

    • Joe America says:

      A year ago, I was extolling the virtues of the young, modern, principled generation of Senators. Cayetano and Poe were on the list. Then the elections occurred and that was that.

      • josephivo says:

        The power of the pack. Our ancestors learned this while domesticating dogs. A dog that does not align with the pack is a dead dog.

        • And an honest man like Bam Aquino in a room filled half by crooks and half by opportunists has to play the game sometimes to survive and get at least some of his better stuff through like the Philippine Competition Act. Mar Roxas and motion to pardon for Erap in 2007 is partly paying off, the old Philippine value of utang na loob – debt of gratitude – is in action here. But then again, Joe may be right, more real support from the old bossman may have its price – move Jinggoy from jail to Manila zoo maybe?

 am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

          • Jean says:

            I concur! Even the best of us have to play ball sometimes to allow us to stay in the game. Sad as is it, that is a fact in our current political arena.

            Now let’s hope Bam is our Curry. A player no one expected to amount to much but became a game changer none the less

      • josephivo says:

        The power of their advisors too? They might come all out of the same corner with mainly a law degree? Same fraternities? Sharing the same corridors? Living their parallel political world? Expanding their lucrative businesses based on rent?

  3. Jean says:

    Because I don’t want to be obstructive, I’ll limit myself to the portions of the article I agree with (Which is most of it actually)

    First and foremost, I totally agree about Sotto. I don’t get how he keeps winning. Every time he tries to defend his position, he comes out sounding/being more stupid than I initially thought possible. I HATE this guy even more than I dislike your presidential bet, Joe. Sotto needs to be kicked out, not just of the senate but the public eye.

    I am likewise fuming at two women senators who watered down the funding of the RH bill. I mean come on…

    Enrile, he just reinforces the notion that our laws are a joke. He has had his time. time to set him “free”

    Binay and Poe: I can understand why they are doing what they are. Their aim is to win, conventional channels won’t get them there, so they look to alternative methods. I understand them but don’t agree or like them much.

    Oh did I mention Sotto already, nothing more dangerous than an idiot who thinks he is intelligent.

    Oh and this is one of your articles, that needs to be translated into Tagalog and disseminated. Unfortunately, my Tagalog is limited and is not at par with the task, else I would volunteer.

    • Joe America says:

      Dang, Jean, you did agree with most of what I said and added a little “pith” to the descriptions. Good to be on the same page. 🙂 Maybe we’ll get a translation offer . . .

      • Chivas says:

        “She is just a blogger!” Sotto said.

        I agree with Jean, what’s the secret sauce?

        Do some of his voters hope to rub of his “70’s hippie charisma and artista touch” and feels proud they voted him? Sotto-is-badass-when I-vote-him-I’m-a-badass-too kind of way?

        Of all hardworking, intelligent and deserving people, why on earth does this man got to be so smooth, so lucky, so irritatingly, tick on a dog’s thighs successful?

        • Sauce… in Spanish is called Salsa.

          We need to send a maid as a secret agent.

          Look in the cupboards – for the hidden Salsa de Sotto.

        • Joe America says:

          And so, representing bloggers, I say “He is just a lackluster Senator”, and we ought to aim higher.

        • mcgll says:

          Because he is on TV almost everyday? I really think it is well overdue to pass a law prohibiting movie/TV/radio/sports personalities from engaging in their profession within 2 years prior to an election. And to ban elected public servants from engaging in any profession that will take their time off from performing their duties as a public servant.

          • Chivas says:

            Irineo and Mcgll, they can’t take off their mouths on public ignorance’s teat, I have no idea too why they are allowed to annoy us.

            As supermodels who primarily work as plumbers not artists who hone their craft so these politicians, drawn in this crisp and tangy inertia hole of myopic greed.

            The longer I see the blog post, I admire how any reader can come up with a sharp conclusion his/herself without realizing it. For me, The post forms like a So-En brochure for Billionaires, a buying guide.

            About people on gorillaroids screaming “He’s on TV,it’s legal so it’s okay!” Legal is what you reason when you can buy politicians(whose job is not a right, it’s a privilege) who can write laws so you can do whatever you want, to continue say, “it’s legal.”

            We deserve better times and better leaders. If I can think of it, as dumb as I can be, more so these esteemed public officials who has only one job: serve people well.

      • enigma459 says:

        Dear joe, i’ll try to email a translation tommorow. I’m still proof reading it. Hope you’ll like it and publish it for the sake of many. It won’t be much polished like yours but I’ve tried to make it as close as possible to what you wish to convey. Wait for my email tommorow. Thanks

    • junie garcia says:

      Personally, I would prefer new faces in the Senate. Except for Serge Osmena, I’ll likely vote for newbies in the likes of Paez, Ambolodto, Villanueva, Ople, De Lima and Hontiveros. I’m sure these guys will work their butt out for the country’s good.

  4. VSB says:

    Again I repeat and I want it to become a universal term- Crimino-showbiz elite- A class of leaders spawned by the cabal between the popular showbiz personalities funded- supported and even inter-married with the criminal/stealing elite- This partnership has become very effective in garnering votes from the Lumpen masses- The result is politicians which follow a script but toe the line of the vested interests to protect the stealing crimino section of the elite. This class of leaders is quickly displacing the landed elite and the traditional elite who still adhere to some ethical norms- They now dominate the Senate and has a significant presence in Congress and local politics- Proveinces such as Ilocos sur, Pampanga, Quezon, Masbate, portions of Laguna are already dominated by this elite- To a certain extend the judiciary is also increasingly under pressure by this group. This results in a governance genus classified as “Kakistocracy” (look it up) a Greek derived word meaning- A government of the worse or least principled…

    • Joe America says:

      Ah . . . kakistocracy . . . good vocabulary lesson for the day.

      I was pondering this, and it seems that the Senate is where the moral values of the nation get enshrined into laws and ethics. So they are pretty bad, for entitlement is written into laws, and the failure to chair an ethics committee during the heat of the Executive clean-up fairly well shouts out “negligence”. The Senate has done precious little to get the nation on the straight path, and a whole lot to undermine Executive and the idea of good behavior (witness a jailbird taking control of the agenda).

      • caliphman says:

        Joe, they did try and found Corona guilty of amassing hidden wealth. But of course many of those who convicted him had to be financially incentivized to do so.

        • well, at least some doctors…in every rule, there’s an exception…

        • Joe America says:

          I don’t think he would have been convicted had he not walked out of the Senate, drawing the wrath of Senator Enrile. So I don’t think the money did it. Corona did it.

          • caliphman says:

            We both watched that incident which earned the ire of the entire Senate against Corona. But three factors significantly contributed for the majority yo convict him, the weight of evidence presented by Ombudman Morales, the animosity due to that incident, and the financial deal hatched with Enrile and his bloc of seators including Honasan. Enrile did an outstanding job presiding and guiding the senate in presenting itself as an objective and impartial impeachment court to the public and world, and that justice was served due to the first factor. What is remarkable about all this is that Enrile and the senate as a whole have an abysmal record of corruption, self-interest and incompetence and I am being kind.I for one moment have not forgotten that it was the senate who refused to disclose the secret in the sealed envelope at the Estrada inpeachment trial resulting to the mass EDSA protest that led to gis removal.

            • The dancing lady… no, no,no… and of course Miriam Santiago getting mad (assuming she isn’t already mad) at somebody who looked at her from the balcony…

              World leadership for sure… in Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence. No wonder many Filipinos are silent…

            • Joe America says:

              I agree. Had you been president at the time and you saw Corona as a huge, huge impediment to progress, would you have offered financial incentives to get him out of the way so you could do good work? In asking that, I would note that the Administration denies having paid incentives. The so-called payments, as I recall, were Christmas or year-end bonuses paid well after the trial ended.

              • caliphman says:

                That is Aquino’s magic and wisdom, having people like Ochoa, Abad and other staff take care of what needs to be done while insulating him from any fallout or impropriety. Aquino may be squeaky clean but the way the three branches works is not and to get Daang Matuwid going, Corona had to go and congress given its dues in exchhange for its support.

              • Joe America says:

                Yep. Seems to be the way wheels get greased. The mechanics do it.

              • caliphman says:

                As for when the deal was agreed to and when the payments were made, would you offer delivery before receipt of the goods.

              • Joe America says:

                I’d follow the advice of my mechanics.

      • Was it Sotto who had the gall to encourage Comelec to activate or set up the Ethics Committee in their chamber.

        Who was the one who said they could not chair or even be a member of the Ethics committee out of respect for their peers? How about respect for the people who elected them to that august hall, how about the interest of the nation as a whole? Honor among thieves comes to mind. Not all of them are thieves, but everyone is respecting each other.


        Ok, let’s look at how they fared in the Binay investigation at the SBRSC. What did Enrile care, he is busy playing a game in his gadget, exercising his mental faculties. Only three are brave enough to join in the hearings, two of them had joined the dark forces and like dogs, had started to partake of what they had vomited. Sorry, please excuse my language. You did say, “speak undiplomatically, set delacadeza aside in the interest of candor and stomp through the bushes rather than beat around them”.

        Only Trillanes (congrats, karl) has stuck to his principles.

        Doctors do the same, they are protecting their peers at the expense of the patients who suffered due to negligence of some of them.

        • oh, wait…Enrile is on the rampage, intent on revenge, how dare this upstart of a President jail me. I’m just someone who handed his mother the presidency on a plate. You’ll see, just wait, you’ll get your just desert.

          Arroyo 8 justices, this is the frail, sickly and old hospital detainee that you set free out of humanitarian consideration. Frail, and sickly, my foot.

        • Joe America says:

          The failure to hold oneself accountable. It is a disease, spread across the nation by the Senators and other scapegoat artists. “Ethics? Bah, humbug.”

    • Chivas says:

      VSB, Alma Moreno may be offended to you. I like the term “Crimino-showbiz elite”, I want to buy and read any kind of book that can emphasize the genesis of that system.

      It seems to me we are conditioned to seek pleasure and convert that “viewing pleasure” into “competence in governance”, like a filter problem.

      • Joe America says:

        I read a comment on Twitter today where someone said a candidate “resonates”. I wanted to scream. The emotionalism of important choices. Unthinking as to skill or what the job requires. Unthinking as to aptitude. Unthinking as to trust or character. Voters get high on the good vibes, and can’t figure out why things are so shabby and inefficient.

        • VSB says:

          Ohh the laments of the elite! Unthinking and Masses have become interchangeable and now the main argument of Poe’s lawyers is that since she became # 1 in Senate polls – damn the constitution and Sotto is enroute to # 1 mainly fueled by Aldub/ Eat bulaga- The term Vox Populi – Vox Dei might not be an ancient roman term but coined by Goebbels to justify Hitler’s 40 Million screaming supporters…

    • davidmasangkay says:

      Haha! I would change Allan Cayetano’s movie title to “The Kakistocrat: The Unprincipled self-dealer who can rationalize anything”

      This is the sad truth. We have a shortage of ethical, honorable and patriotic leaders. I would say some hound dogs are even better than a lot of our senators. As a dog owner I can read a dog’s body language, and I think they are not capable of deceiving. I haven’t had a greedy dog too. 🙂

  5. Jean says:

    “To set delacadeza aside in the interest of candor? To stomp through the bushes rather than beat around them?”

    I was waiting and waiting… I braced myself for the storm. I expected spittle to spew for from the pages…

    Alas, I am under whelmed. You were still pretty nice Joe… some of the people you mentioned deserve verbal abuse and cyber bullying 🙂

    Still, worry not, I think we get the picture!

  6.,_2016#Candidates – who could be good in improving that strange place called the Senate? My longlist based on some hunches:

    – Rafael Alunan (right-wing but intelligent and honest, a thinker when it comes to national security)
    – Richard Gordon
    – Nariman Ambolodto
    – Leila de Lima
    – Franklin Drilon (an astute political player who keeps a lot of things together inspite of…)
    – Joel Villanueva (TESDA)
    – Susan Ople (her father was one of the few good Marcos men as Labor Minister)
    – Walden Bello( the ONLY intelligent and honest leftist in the Philippines)

    The thing is, I can’t even name more than these 8 with a good feeling about it – 12 are needed.

  7. NHerrera says:


    The previous blog (the Philippines as possible world leader) versus the current one: hopeful tone in both the previous blog and the current one — if many of us make the demands and have significant portions of those demands satisfied — but surgically dissects the Senate and the Senators rather precisely in the latter blog before offering those prescriptions. I like the current one “mucho” better. Gracias, Amigo.

  8. This is also from Elvis and applies to a part of the Senate:

  9. Jonathan says:

    Joe, I think you’re being unfair comparing senators to dogs. After all, dogs are warm, loving, and loyal companions…

    • NHerrera says:

      If I may — I agree!v Further, Will may take offence on the comparison with his beloved dogs.


      • NHerrera says:

        I agree!v = I agree!

      • edgar lores says:

        From Wikipedia: “The song was written for a woman to sing in which she berates “her selfish, exploitative man”, and in it she “expresses a woman’s rejection of a man — the metaphorical dog in the title”.

        “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
        Cryin’ all the time
        You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
        Cryin’ all the time
        Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
        And you ain’t no friend of mine

        “Well they said you was high-classed
        Well, that was just a lie
        Yeah they said you was high-classed
        Well, that was just a lie
        Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
        And you ain’t no friend of mine”


      • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

        Livid, NH. Joe should be sent to dog school, where dogs teach humans obedience and yes, love.

        • Joe America says:

          It’s a cultural thing, as Elvis was wailing that song when I was in elementary school, and I had it on my mind when writing the headline. It is also a popular song in the Eastern Visayas, sung in barely intelligible English by The One Man Band, and always played loud, as in very very loud.

    • Joe America says:

      🙂 Yes, I made a huge mistake, I agree.

  10. Bill in Oz says:

    Hi Joe
    You have singled out senators who you feel are incompetent or stupid or just plain thieves.

    However you have not discussed the ‘process’ by which these senators gain their position. In my experience even good decent folk can turn to the dark side when surrounded by such folk..
    The secret lies in having a senate electoral process which screens out the bad….

    • Joe America says:

      The public votes, and the public goes on the thinnest, thinnest of evidence, and the greatest, greatest of what feels good. They like their movie stars and boxers a lot and have no idea what a law says, or what it takes to write one.

      • sonny says:

        @Joe @Mary Grace @Karl

        This article is “throwing the gauntlet” of sorts. Our reach and our grasp as cybercitizens in this case are coincident. So, firstly: do we have legal recourse such as that of recall, even if just be on record that we are thinking so? Thank you for your reply.

  11. The best leaders and thinkers in the Philippines are NOT politicians… Salceda and Robredo are notable exceptions… Noynoy and Mar at least listen to the thinkers from time to time I think… Mar is at least smart enough to understand the thinkers… with Noynoy I sometimes have my doubts, even if he did listen to Del Rosario on ITLOS, but he also listened to Ferrer on the BBL, sorry… Trillanes is IMHO one of the smartest senators around, a bit of a one-track soldier’s mind but OK. Bam Aquino is the most modern of all, a geek with highly progressive ideas… he might go places. – Dean Tony La Viña is brillant, in a proper modern parliamentary democracy he would be a world-class Prime Minister… Secretary Mario Montejo of DOST in another, more of a world-class technocrat though than a potential political leader, same for Dr. Mahar Lagmay of DOST Project NOAH who is an excellent project manager with drive… Leila de Lima has potential but also a huge ego which might get in the way. Villanueva of TESDA I already mentioned as a good potential senator as well… back to to La Viña’s latest comment…

    I am so proud listening to Justice Marvic Leonen. We have worked together for more than 25 years until he joined the Supreme Court a few years ago and I know personally that he has an acute sense of justice. His questions in the Poe oral arguments confirm that. I do not know how he will vote in the case but he is right – this is about justice, not the legal technicalities of the law principally, but it’s doing the right thing.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks, Joe, for this article. We should say what we want to say, until stopped. Every word was stamped on my mind, finding twins in my thoughts, knowing that I am normal after all.

      • Joe America says:

        Right, which makes senators way too often something other than normal.

        • – in fairness to the Senate, they do some good things at times…

          Senate approves customs modernization act – The act will modernize and digitize procedures, raise tax exemptions on balikbayan boxes, and raise penalties for smuggling

          Now this makes a lot of sense… it is good for the common people especially hardworking migrants and OFWs who found the tax on balikbayan boxes a huge hassle, it might pave the way for getting customs streamlined… and maybe even cleaned eventually with Lysol.

          • Joe America says:

            Sonny Angara works diligently. It is odd that it requires a law to modernize an agency to use computers.

            • edgar lores says:

              There have been computerization efforts in customs before. The efforts were rejected — sabotaged, really — because manual systems are more efficient in conducting the real business of the bureau.

              • Bert says:

                Exactly, Edgar, the under-the-table business the real business in the bureau where bundles of pesos handed from person to person and to the drawers under the manual system, how right you are.

              • karl garcia says:

                Yes computerization was started during FVR’s time.Even the UNDP implemented the ACOS/ASYCUDA.

                IBM or its back to manual-Customs permits can still be faked because Quiapo and Recto are just nearby the port of Manila.
                Employess are so against computerization and privatization.
                First control was no manual encoding of manifests,but there is one big syndicate out there,so go figure

              • karl garcia says:

                Were senate investigations a waste of time and money.
                Jueteng Investigations- there is still jueteng and other ways ti make legal gambling illegal.
                NBN ZTE- today our internet speed sucks,no cyber education,etc
                north rail south rail- nothing
                cigarette smugling,rice smuggling,oil smuggling-still happenning
                Binay-it was not finished


                an attempt to replace jueteng with small town lottery
                some improvement in the IRR of the procurement law.
                Commissioning of JICA to make thorough study if our transport sector
                customs Modernization
                Some support for COA and possible plugging if another loop hole in procurement-

              • karl garcia says:

                1141 comment should be down below.

            • manuelbuencamino says:

              It’s probably because it will involve appropriations – money for computers. money for in-house technicians, the introduction of a new element in the “plantilla” – and the reorganization of the agency i.e. some jobs may become redundant, formerly non-existent jobs will come into being and those changes will have repercussions on job security of employees covered by civil service law. I’m just guessing 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Thanks. I still think agencies should be doing this as a matter of executive initiative. But I guess we have the word “bureaucracy” for a reason.

    • caliphman says:

      I have to agree with La Vina about how good Leonen was at the SC yesterday. The other justices belabored Atty. Poblador with technical legal minutiae and left things unresolved. In the last half hour, Leonen unleashed a barrage of rapid fire questions of the much larger issues at stake aside from whether Poe gets to run.

  12. NHerrera says:


    After hearing the audio on the SC Oral Argument today; and connecting this with the note of Irineo regarding Justice Leonen and Dean La Vina, I have come to a more nuanced view compared to the personal views I have expressed here in various postings before.

    I am an admirer of both Justice Leonen and Dean La Vina. Both their views on the SC case of Poe, I believe, veer towards the more liberal as compared to more textual interpretation of the requirements for the Presidency.

    I hope that when the SC decides it will be a big majority or unanimous vote either way — for or against — Poe on her Presidential quest. I believe, the big majority decision thereby will lead to more stability. Meaning that the SC will not more likely change its decision on appeal, that is, that the SC would be seen to have acted with great conviction.

    There is a related item I wish to express. I find that Justices who have some idealistic or romantic notion of Justice along the concept of JUSTITIA RUAT CAELUM or Let Justice Be Done Though the Heavens Fall — who thereby will split the vote to a narrow, say, 8-7 vote, against those who have some contrary views but who consider the practical and probable negative consequences of their decision may put the country in a risky situation. To be specific there is the notion of the liberal minded who espouse “vox populi” that anyway there is the PET to settle the matter of negative consequences. But can we easily weather another of this big hurdle at this point?

    • A unanimous or significant majority decision would be a step forward in Philippine jurisprudence – the interpretation of the laws, and thereby the legal culture of the country.

      A country burdened by laws inherited from colonizers and different periods afterwards, plus groups with different senses of what is wrong and what is right – something I have outlined in my article Evolution of Order, which is a mental model to describe what is going on…

      If the sense of what is wrong and what is right in practice significantly deviates from what is done on the ground, then you have a country constituted differently in reality than on paper, which is the sense of my article Reconstitute the Philippines – food for more thought.

      Americans had the advantage of being mainly an Anglo-Saxon culture in the beginning, so the meaning of words and the sense of laws was rooted in the traditions of that culture. Synchronizing the Philippine culture and the institutions – the BIOS and the operating system to use IT terms – was something I mentioned in my first article here at Joe’s, When Will the Philippines Reach a Tipping Point. That sync goes both ways – from top to bottom, teaching the less educated the right way, and bottom to top, making laws and institutions more real, more adapted to people’s common sense and the realities of Filipino living…

      In one of the many conversations I had with my father about the state of the Philippines, I told him so much is confused, his answer was yes Filipino culture is a confused culture. Every small step that leads to unconfusing the culture is a step to cure things IMHO.

      Now to the sense of the two major qualification rules for Presidential candidates – IMHO:

      1) Natural-born is to guarantee that the leader of the country is truly rooted in it.

      2) Residency is to guarantee that the leader of the country really knows it enough.

      The laws were made in times that did not yet consider the migration/mixtures of today. Whether the Supreme Court decides more based on original intent or on the literal law is their decision, but it might be worth thinking about whether they have to be adjusted soon.

      • There is one important legal principle which the Philippines still has to guarantee better: that of

        Legal certainty is a principle in national and international law which holds that the law must provide those subject to it with the ability to regulate their conduct. Legal certainty is internationally recognised as a central requirement for the rule of law.

        The legal system needs to permit those subject to the law to regulate their conduct with certainty and to protect those subject to the law from arbitrary use of state power. Legal certainty represents a requirement that decisions be made according to legal rules, i.e. be lawful. The concept of legal certainty may be strongly linked to that of individual autonomy in national jurisprudence. The degree to which the concept of legal certainty is incorporated into law varies depending on national jurisprudence. However, legal certainty frequently serves as the central principle for the development of legal methods by which law is made, interpreted and applied.

        The subsequent aspects of legal certainty are an important requirement especially for foreign businesses to be able to manage the risk of dealing with things in the country, because I would say that the requirements in italics are NOT yet really met at this point. Grace Poe can easily make “paawa” because the law is unfortunately so often used to harrass those who are not able to afford lawyers, or are less educated / well connected.

        Legal certainty is an established legal concept both in the civil law legal systems and common law legal systems. In the civil law tradition, legal certainty is defined in terms of maximum predictability of officials’ behaviour. In the common law tradition, legal certainty is often explained in terms of citizens’ ability to organise their affairs in such a way that does not break the law. In both legal traditions, legal certainty is regarded as grounding value for the legality of legislative and administrative measures taken by public authorities.

        • The opposite of legal certainty is Kafka’s – there are enough examples of Kafkaesque situations and legal and administrative uncertainty in the Philippines to make it a risky place to deal with, especially for powerless/poor/uneducated.

        • NHerrera says:

          Irineo, thanks for this last post on the matter of legal certainty and its obvious beneficial effects not only on politics but of course on commerce.

          • Welcome… in any form of commerce certainty is important… The following example from “The Wire” series shows how illegal uncertainty in illegal commerce is not only not beneficial for both, but fatal for one and leads to a life sentence for the other… an example of how zero-sum games can easily become lose-lose situations not just zero sum… violence advisory warning for everyone, but the Wire is always instructive…

            • Lack of predictability both on the Polish (Ziggy Sobotka) and Greek side (George Glekas) led to distrust and cheating, finally to both sides losing.

              I think lack of predictability both among Filipinos themselves as well as towards others is THE major issue the country has… it leads to distrust and cheating of all sorts… the cost of doing transactions is too high… honor and predictability the solution… easier said…

              • sonny says:

                PiE, from the world of Science, human transactions are the closed systems. In closed systems, all parameters must be describable as parts of well-behaved equations. In human closed systems honor and predictability belong to well-behaved (not random) human equations. To decrease randomness means the introduction of “energy” to correct the state. The second law of thermodynamics is the default law, i.e. randomness. My take.

              • The chaos after Yolanda during Tacloban was entropy in action…

                Culture and systems are all attempts at preventing entropy, a crisis tests their strength. The strength of political and legal cultures is also tested by crises, anywhere, worldwide.

              • Joe America says:

                Entropy is commonly understood as a measure of molecular disorder within a macroscopic system. Wiki

                There was a cause for the entropy in Tacloban, called the most powerful storm on the planet that laid waste to communication and supply lines, roads and electricity, trees, homes, and the people unfortunate enough to have been in them. There were heroes there, but no one cites them, for the entropy that existed in Manila, brought on by human deeds.

              • The ancient Greeks knew this.. in their legends Chaos was born before Gaia, the Earth.

              • NHerrera says:

                Talking of entropy, which in every closed system tends to an increase in entropy or disorder/chaos, as in Metro Manila, you need an appropriate energy or force to decrease entropy or disorder. Ergo, enter Duterte as an energy or force to decrease entropy. Fortunately for most of us here the Duterte force is not the only way to decrease that entropy. I will settle for the Roxas-Leni kind (Just trying to go with the flow of the thread here. Probably I need some peppery popcorn, instead of talking about Duterte as an inhibitor to the natural increase in entropy.)

              • chempo says:

                “Legal certainty” — thanks Irineo, it’s something I agree totally. I know it but I just could’nt explain it in a paragraph. Now I can.

                In my up-coming piece on the MRT, I touched on one SC decision which exemplifies very clearly your ‘legal certainty’.

            • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

              Am enjoying Narcos in Netflix. Reminds me of Binay.

              • karl garcia says:

                Meanwhile back in the Philippines top anti drug cop who put to jail the Alabang Boys is in deep trouble.
                It is not only in Beauty pageants,whe rival Columbia.

              • And the Palace says he is not in the loop in that operation…his palusots are not credible. It’s operatives like him that brings shame to the organization.

        • edgar lores says:

          Irineo and NHerrera,

          Would not the liberal interpretation of law contradict the notion of legal certainty?

          • NHerrera says:

            I agree liberal interpretation and legal certainty is a contradiction. My initial note if I may say again is that it is best if SC’s decision — either way — is that it is not a case of being close to an 8-7 decision but more like a majority of 10-5, best if unanimous which is not likely.

            • edgar lores says:


              Thanks. “Contradict” may be too restrictive a word in my question. Perhaps “constrain” is better.

              Liberal interpretation constrains legal certainty.

              Anent Leonen, it may be a disservice to him to contend that he is for a liberal interpretation of the law in the Poe case. I remember him in the Baguio sessions warning that his questions should not be construed to indicate his final decision. I am just reading his dissenting opinion on EDCA and I find him a textualist in this matter.

              However, he lost his father at an early age, and emotionality may cause him to empathize with Grace.

              As we know, emotionality can be the spring of rationality… true or false rationality.

              • NHerrera says:

                I read too much on the un-completed interpellation by Justice Leonen. He has not even gone to the technicals yet. He certainly is a show worth listening to in the coming sessions for the development of his thoughts. The 3 SET Justices interpellation may be anticlimactic in comparison because we know the trend of their thoughts; but certainly worth listening to for details. And we haven’t heard from the others yet, including CJ Sereno. We are in ring-side in this show. What a treat.

          • josephivo says:

            There are perfect laws (?) and there are imperfect laws. Imperfect laws have some room for interpretation. “Legal certainty” tells you to make all laws perfect. Liberal interpretation deals with the (unwanted?) imperfections.

            • edgar lores says:

              But it’s so hard to tell.

              Is the natural-born citizenship requirement a perfect or imperfect law?

              Or is it that foundlings not being granted natural-born status a perfect or imperfect absence of law?

              • josephivo says:

                Of course they are imperfect and surroundings change, yesterdays solutions are today’s problems. Natural? At least one parent. But…unknown parents, surrogate mothers, in-vitro… DNA printers on their way…

                Instructions I gave to design engineers where not always the same as the instructions to maintenance engineers. Design principles versus maintenance principles. Interaction, overlapping…? Yes a lot. Lawmakers, lawyers and judges have to talk together.

                Does a judge look at intentions or does a judge look at effects? Is his judgement best aligned with the intention of the law or is his judgement best for the individual/country?

              • the social science, study and theory of law. It includes principles behind law that make the law. Scholars of jurisprudence, also known as jurists or legal theorists (including legal philosophers and social theorists of law), hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions.

                The common usage of jurisprudence is also how the law is interpreted… and even in codified law there is jurisprudence… for every single article in the German Criminal Code one will find legal commentaries and case interpretations that serve to make the definition of terms clearer for subsequent cases… so the body of laws is not just their text but what scholars, judges, lawyers interpret it to be and how that interpretation develops…

                I would call the sum total all of that the legal culture of a country… now luckily the legal culture of the Philippines has evolved beyond the hard-headed and literal-minded, often totally divorced from reality interpretation of Miriam Santiago… no EDCA passing by her… but the legal culture of the Philippines is still evolving from its colonial inheritance and its post-colonial legacy of laws used to justify impunity.. the recent discussions on the Condonation Doctrine being an example. The deontology – theory of moral obligation – is getting clearer, and thereby also the legal certainty, but it also has some way still to go.

              • edgar lores says:

                Agree. What partly worries me is the integrity of the justices.

    • Chivas says:

      Is it that she know it all along that she’s really done as a briquette but gambled anyway because of the high prospect? Is she a decoy?

  13. caliphman says:

    I found the SC oral argumentation fascinating. I was underwhelmed with Poe’s counsel and it was not surprising that her lawyers have not swayed any of the justices at the SET or Comelec. Seems to me, Atty. Poblador should have upped his game in the rounds with Carpio and de Castro after learning their issues the first time around at the SET tribunal. That same trio brought up the same issues and biases, so since they did not inhibit, no doubt will likely offer the same verdicts.

    The discussions between OSG Hillbay next Tuesday should be quite interesting as he should be more prepared and articulate about the non-legalistic school of thought espoused by head jurists like Davide, Panganiban, and Puno. Chief Justice Sereno’s round should also be worth listening to
    as hers is also a crucial vote and its not clear to me which school of thought she subscribes to.

  14. Sup says:

    If Pnoy did not veto he could land in jail according to the former head of SSS in a interview yesterday with Karen Davila at ANC news…

    Section. 2. Provident Character. The Fund shall be private in character, owned wholly by the members, administered in trust and applied exclusively for their benefit. All the personal and employer contributions shall be fully credited to each member, accounted for individually and transferable in case of change of employment. They shall earn dividends as provided for in these Rules. The said amounts shall constitute the provident fund of each member, to be paid to him or her, his or her estate or beneficiaries upon termination of membership, or from which peripheral benefits for the member may be drawn.

  15. ramon naguita says:

    JoeAm, May I suggest to spend months here, in the particularly, in Davao City and see for yourself the reality on how this people live? Your hands on experience will justify whatever you conceive Duterte as a person, a mayor and a leader. Mindanao in general is hounded by decade and decade of broken promises and our National Government cannot identify and implement the real solution to our problem. Very recent, the threat of the ISIS is becoming visible and even threaten to establish an ISIS province before year end ( 2016 ).Even EDCA cannot and will not prevent this event to come because they are already around and will continue to harass the Christian community here in Mindanao. You may ask then your choice for President, what he can do to stop the atrocity of this unbelievers and Christian haters militant. Right now vigilantes are arming themselves in North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Manguidanao provinces and it is the rebirth of the dreaded ILAGA and the PULAHAN anti Muslims group. What promises we will hear on this in the National level? it is a hoax or a bully! Duterte-Cayetano leadership and Federalism he espoused, may not solve all this problem but it will be deterrent to further a chaotic Mindanao. Beside, why can’t we consider a leadership from Mindanao? Only because you heard and they heard that Davao City was the killing field in the late 70″s and early 80″s, then that judgmental attitude is birthing in the mind an hearts of the oligarchs and imperialist Manila? Thank you and A blessed day to you!


    On Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 3:01 PM, The Society of Honor by Joe America wrote:

    > Joe America posted: “Dear readers, may I kindly request your permission to > speak undiplomatically? To set delacadeza aside in the interest of candor? > To stomp through the bushes rather than beat around them? It seems to me I > can either zip my lip and remain silent, as so m” >

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the invitation, Ramon. I lived in Northern Mindanao for a time and left when 30 NPA gangsters tromped through my house and property looking for me (I was fortunately in the US at the time). I consider the whole of Mindanao to be a wild land and think that is because of historical neglect, discrimination, and poverty. Davao may be an oasis of some civility in that wild land, but I have a hard time endorsing a leader who is not modern of value, democratic of process, and sensitive to human rights. If he were and still took autocratic steps for the well-being of the Philippines, that is one thing. But to be insulting toward women and see killing as a solution . . . not my kind of leader. The President of the Philippine has tremendous power, resources and means. Democracy and human rights calls for all to be represented civilly, even those accused of crimes. I don’t want to have to hide him from my young son, for the values he represents.

    • Madlanglupa says:

      If anything, his idea of “security” would possibly become the beast that could turn around and tear him to shreds. Furthermore, the concept of federalism would be distorted in favor of the already powerful political clans and the fanatical regionalists, turn the would-be states into greater fiefdoms for this new oligarchy.

  16. Ray Ciocon says:

    You have my permission, Joe. May I PM you on FB? – Ray Ciocon

  17. karl garcia says:

    the bi-cameral conference committe should be more transparent.
    It should not be closed door.
    the technical working group of each house is spread too thin.
    They need funding and man power, or else they will just stamp pad every legislation that needs funding.

    Insertions and realignment would be minimized if bicam is open

  18. karl garcia says:

    As i mentioned in another thread the LEDAc is important. So at an early stage the president will say what us certified to be urgent and those that would be vetoed anyway.

    More followup and feed back will also be smooth.
    and SONAS will have more meaning.

  19. karl

    About your post, re Gil C. Cabacungan’s article on military and police pension fund system….

    I wonder why they are not covered by GSIS, and why is the Philippine government shouldering it? I can’t help but think of Greece and her loan default partly caused by the huge pension she is paying her retirees. I have copy pasted this post from Joe’s previous article, Voting for Dictator of the Philippines, Who’s your Pick?

    Calling on the Senate and HoR

    Please enact the law that would implement the compulsory membership of the AFP, PNP and Judiciary at the GSIS. At least they got to pay the 9% share of the premium, although the government has to pitch in with the 12% of their salaries (without cap) as its share in the premium. With expert management of GSIS funds, their retirement pensions will no longer eat a large part of our annual budget.

    I’d like to know, what other government department employees are not covered by GSIS, and while we’re at it, are they being subject to proper withholding tax just like their private counterparts? I have heard of rumors (not confirmed) that they are not.

    We in the private sectors are religiously being compulsory taxed at a maximum 32% (depending on our gross salaries) and if confirmed that they are not being taxed properly, this is quite unfair. As it is, we are indirectly supporting the premiums of the government sector as I have pointed out in my other posts, since it is the government that is shouldering the 12% GSIS premium. Where does the government get their funds? – from us taxpayers, mostly the middle income salaried employees.

    • karl garcia says:

      They are not part of GSIS.They tried to have an RSBS that was mismanaged.
      Recto tried and tried to has his voice heard,but people dismissed him as just one of the guys,a bird of the same feather.

      Like the gap between senior management and rank and file.
      A general who retired gets way much than a retired sergeant.

      They do file inciome tax by the way.

      • You are one of the staffs in the Senate (tech support for your dad, I presume). If Trillanes lose his VP candidacy, he will go back to the Senate, right? Can your dad whisper a suggestion – to author a bill with Senator Recto (if he will still be there also) – compulsory GSIS membership law for AFP, PNP and Judiciary as well as those in the government departments not yet covered? I’m truly worried about what Recto is saying.

        Here, I have copy pasted your post:

        Crisis over AFP, PNP pension fund
        by anna | Sep 13, 2010 | Social Security |

        MANILA, Philippines—A crisis involving the pension fund of military and police personnel is looming, with the government facing the prospect of forking out more money for the retirement benefits of soldiers and policemen than for the salaries of their comrades in active service.

        Under Malacañang’s proposed national budget for 2011, P100.597 billion is allocated for the salaries of the 250,000 to 300,000 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

        A total of P53 billion is set aside for the pension of retired military and police personnel, or one-fifth of the projected budget deficit next year.

        There are roughly 120,000 retirees in the AFP and 50,000 in the PNP.

        Sen. Ralph Recto, chair of the ways and means committee, said the P53-billion pension allocation for the military and police personnel was glaring when compared with the P22 billion in annual benefits given by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). More than 1 million government employees are members of the GSIS.

        At this rate, Recto said the government would be paying more for retired soldiers and police personnel by 2019 than those in active duty.
        “The government has to address the problem before it explodes in our faces and we end up spending more for the retirees than those in active service,” he said in an interview.

        At a Senate hearing last week, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. raised the possibility that the government would be spending more for the pension of retired soldiers and police personnel than the salaries of those still in uniform.

        “That is an area of concern not only for the uniformed personnel of the PNP and the AFP, but also for the judiciary because these institutions do not contribute to the pension fund like GSIS. (The benefits) to members are coming out of the appropriations,” Abad said.

        Retirement age

        Another factor contributing to the pension problem was the retirement age of soldiers and policemen, Recto said.

        Soldiers and policemen retire at 56 years old, lower than the norm of 60 to 65 years old, thus giving them a longer period for enjoying benefits.

        The national government has to shoulder the pension of soldiers and police personnel because they have no retirement system.

        The military was supposed to have its own self-sustaining pension fund through the AFP-Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS), which was formed in 1973.

        The agency was shuttered four years ago when it went bankrupt due to gross mismanagement by generals on its board.

        The police have been getting their pension from the National Treasury since the PNP was spun off from the defunct Philippine Constabulary in 1991.
        Recto said the collapse of the AFP-RSBS was the main reason the government was spending heavily for the military and police pension fund.

        Pampered lot

        Recto and Abad noted that compared with other government workers, soldiers and police personnel were a pampered lot. Besides the early retirement age, they get monthly pension equal to those received by counterparts in active service.

        For example, a general who retired 15 years ago would be getting the same amount due a four-star general in active service, according to Recto. In addition, soldiers and policemen retire at the next higher rank, he said.

        Moreover, their pension increases by P5,000 when they reach 65 and 70 years of age aside from the total disability benefits amounting to P1,700.

        “We have to look at all these factors and assess the viability of the military and police pension fund system because the government cannot sustain this for long. We must have a self-sustaining pension fund in place,” Recto said.

        Abad said the Department of Budget and Management would conduct a study of the military and police pension fund system and recommend how to make it more sustainable without being a huge burden on the government.

        –Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer

        • karl garcia says:

          you have seen my fb profile I am with Buazon technically,but we (me and my dad)spread our wings.

          • Again, for those with weak internet connection and to preserve this in this article of Joe’s, I’m posting this interesting interview of Raissa Robles with President Aquino last
            April 16, 2015:

            PRESIDENT AQUINO: Then, I’m tackling ‘yung pension system… Pension system for the uniformed services does not have a pension system per se. They are not members of GSIS (Government Service Insurance System), not the SSS (Social Security System). They used to have their own. In the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), it was RSBS (Retirement Separation and Benefit System), and then mismanaged.

            So, by next year, I think the figure they are demanding about that will come from the budget and no contributions from the members — about 80-plus billion. When you look at the budget… Can we just use last year’s budget of about two trillion? Iyong figure between 25 to 35 percent is the one that you can use. Everything else is parang override expenses, ‘yung personal service or MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses). So assumed 25 percent, so 500 [billion] tapos 80 [billion] of the 500 [billion] is already earmarked for just paying the pensions and benefits.

            Now, so there’s no system then it’s index to current salaries and wages. Every time you increase for the active, you increase, correspondingly, for the retired. The whole concept of pension system is, you have seed capital, you invest; by the time there are obligations, the interest, parang the growth of that fund based on the obligations…Iyong contrast to the pay as you go systems that we are…Now, we don’t have it.

            So, we’re asking for amendments to the law. Number one, take away the indexing feature, then… In the sum kasi, for seed capital is from a low of about 1.7 trillion to 4.3 trillion and the national budget is 2.6 trillion. So how do we fund it? ‘Yung we will reclaim land, the coastline, et cetera, then sell this as one of the principal methods for funding their pension system.

            Raissa Robles: For the military?

            PRESIDENT AQUINO: Military, the police. Uniformed services kasama na BuCor (Bureau of Corrections), BJMP —

            Raissa Robles: Just to clarify, sir. Are you saying that they have never been under GSIS?

            PRESIDENT AQUINO: I don’t know if they have never been. Basta, by that time, it was my responsibility. ‘Yon nga may RSBS, and then to some, parang may mga savings and loan yata e.

            Raissa Robles: AFPSLAI (Armed Forces and Police Savings & Loan Association, Inc.)?

            PRESIDENT AQUINO: AFPSLAI is not, ano, is not actually part of the Armed Forces. I’m not even sure kung sa GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporation). Parang it’s their savings and loan association. They elect their members. So ‘yon ang problema. That was left to me; and it keeps on growing.

            Raissa Robles: And so you’re trying to rectify that?

            PRESIDENT AQUINO: Yeah. It is also a hindrance to increasing the number of our security sector. Iyong our security sector is exactly the same number it was in EDSA, where our population was half. So, ‘di ba, parang you’re asking the same number of people to do a lot more work.

            Pakikuha pala kay Mar ‘yung latest sa crime statistics niya. Ipinakita niya sa akin noong isang ‘yung rundown niya. Really impressive. We don’t know about half to a third of the crime rate incidences and really… They have this… I forgot the catchy name for the project pero all of these most wanted. We’ve been catching a lot of them. I’m just getting this really most wanted brought a substantial decrease in the number of crime incidences.

            Now, I am digressing. Any question you want? Sonny (Coloma) is so eager to answer all of them.

            Note from Raissa: Aquino’s critics would probably say this is a political move on his part, to garner votes for his anointed in next year’s polls. Tell that to the Marines. And the cops who are about to retire and are worried about their pension.

      • karl garcia says:

        obviously you were not talking of witholoding tax.
        as far as contributions to rsbs it will be put to a stop.

      • manuelbuencamino says:

        “As near as I can tell only four – Senators Angara, Villar, Recto and Aquino – are at least half-dedicated servants of public good.”

        Angara, yes. Villar, practical politician. Recto, issues of character come up when you look at his record and past alliances plus he has remained silent about his brother who is a fugitive from a murder charge. Aquino listens only to his father whose record on alliances is sketchy.

      • Yep, they could be filing ITR but with the correct amounts declared? Just asking, not implying anything. I mean, we in the private sector (at least those those with a single employer as opposed to those with multiple employers) need not file our income tax return. Our employers are in charge of reporting the gross income, exemptions, tax withheld which should equal the tax due by the end of the taxable year. These are being scrutinized by independent private auditors and later by BIR examiners by comparing the audited FS with BIR Alphalist 1604 CF.

        In the government sector, the COA should scrutinize this to determine if proper withholding tax is being made from correct gross taxable income received by government employees. Discretionary allowances should be supported by actual and genuine documents to prevent tax evasion, without which such allowances should be declared as part of gross taxable income. The former CJ Corona comes to mind, he had millions of income reported as discretionary allowances, not subjected to tax (as a CJ, does he need to have such substantial representation expenses?) which could partly explain how he was able to acquire so many condominium units and other real estate properties. Withholding tax properly will prevent what happened to the case of the former CJ wherein the BIR has garnished a number of his accounts to recover hundreds of millions in unpaid deficiency taxes and all they could garnish was a meager P10,000 (combined, from all bank accounts) as he was able to empty his accounts while being tried by the Impeachment Court.

        I’m saying this as we need to plug such loopholes that in turn would make possible the collection of accurate taxes due from all sources, whether public or private, or suffer the fate of Greece, keeping in mind Recto’s findings that said “crisis involving the pension fund of military and police personnel is looming, with the government facing the prospect of forking out more money for the retirement benefits of soldiers and policemen than for the salaries of their comrades in active service”.

        Sorry for my kilometric posts.

    • chempo says:

      All these talk of pension funds — SSS, GSIS, others — AFT, PNP, what else?

      What a waste of national resources in it’s duplicity. The management of a pension fund professionally consumes tremendous resources. Why can’t it be a single fund?

      • karl garcia says:

        yeah,why not?

        • That is a very good question. In Germany government pensions are different from private sector pensions because of the computation. The former are based on the last salary – but only for real state employees, a lot of state employees are permanent but considered equivalent to private sector employees. “Real state employees” or Beamte which is hard to translate are those with a special obligation to be loyal to the state like customs, police, army, judges, penal system, all who have some degree of discretion as well, among others. “Private state employees” are usually those who do desk work of some sort.

          Beamte get pensions based on their last salary – I guess GSIS is similar. Angestellte – normal employees of the state or the private sector – are in the private pension system – have a pay as you go system based on how long and how much you contributed, similar to SSS, even though in practice there are several funds, others for Arbeiter – blue collar workers, and even an own one for seamen, but hardly any German seamen anymore except for local shipping.

      • edgar lores says:

        In Oz, there are two streams of pension funds, one private and one government.

        The private stream is contribution-based from employers and employees, with tax concessions, and managed by private investment firms. The contribution rate is fixed by law and currently stands at 9.5% and will remain so until 2021. The pensioners gets what he puts in plus growth. Assets aggregate at AUD$2 trillion. Australia enjoys one of the highest ROI among the OECD countries, within the top 5, earning nominal rates at 8.8% on a 10-year average and 6.6% on 5-years.

        The public stream is non-contributory and is sourced from taxes. It is means-tested. The threshold is about AUD$1M, meaning people with that much and more are not eligible to receive it. The pension is tapered, meaning people below the threshold may receive full or partial pensions depending on the magnitude of their assets. As of 2014, about 2.4 million were receiving the age pension.

        • The non-contributory aspect of the pension system for German Beamte (“real” state employees, the last vestige of the Reich system where they were the kind you had to bow to, but nowadays they sit on a normal service desk and are friendly, late 19th century they still sat on a high platform and subjects had to look up to them, in the 1980s you still had some of the old school who COULD use the rules against you if you looked at them the wrong way) is one of the things that make a merger with private (but state-run) pension systems impossible, in addition to the different mode of computation. The argument for the different mode of computation is: Beamte are rewarded for being loyal to the state and living on a relatively small salary by getting a good pension. Private sector folks don’t have that privilege, what is left of their pension claim can depend on the funds available when they get old. The privileges of Beamte are also seen as a way of preventing corruption. Soldiers for example also retire early, the old argument there was that those who fight for the country deserve it – if they survived.

          Roman legionaries also had their retirement at around 40 if they made it, and usually they were granted land in conquered territories. And the right to marry, which they did not have during active service. In Romania, the word for bridegroom comes from the word for legionary, because it was a conquered territory, a place were Roman soldiers were given land to till, and usually married local Dacian women. The imperial way to take care of soldier’s pensions…

          From what I read the Spanish did that too. Some old soldiers got land in Bikol I have been told.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Edgar your comment is substantially true..However two extra points need to be added. For a number of years the Australian government encouraged employees to contribute extra money to their superannuation funds.It did this by offering to contribute an added dollar for each extra dollar from an employee – up to a limit of $1000. This was very popular.
          Another point is that putting money into Superannuation is a tax deduction for employees in Australia. And so those who can afford to do frequently top up their ‘super’ in the years just before retiring..

          • edgar lores says:

            Bill in Oz,

            Good points. I was not able to take advantage of the “co-contribution” but was able to with the latter by “salary sacrifice” in my “transition to retirement.”

            Our “super” has so many features that a Filipino senator would do well to study it for legislative purposes.

            The fact of the matter is: if a private pension contributory stream is configured properly and the fund is professionally managed — and all things being equal — people can live comfortably in retirement without the need for government welfare handouts. This should be the ultimate aim of private pensions. If realized, it would remove from the State the great burden of supporting an aging population through taxes.

      • I’ve been chanting MERGER, MERGER, MERGER

  20. I know of Gary Olivar (thanks, Andrew) but I have no idea who William Friend is. Gee, what characters!

    • Possibly very twisted, much like

      According to the Church of Scientology, “ethics may be defined as the actions an individual takes on himself to ensure his continued survival across the dynamics…

      The Church’s official position declares: “The logic of Scientology ethics is inarguable and based upon two key concepts: good and evil”, and goes on to state that “nothing is completely good, and to build anew often requires a degree of destruction”

      • NHerrera says:

        Aha. Much like my house — not completely good; and requires much destruction to build anew.

        Sorry, guys. I know. Posted quite a bit of corn in this blog.

        (No wonder Joe’s Blogsite is having trouble loading.)

        • karl garcia says:

          ok lang yan nakita mo naman minsan corny din kami.

        • Destruction and rebuilding is usually terrible… like after the which was Europe’s equivalent to Yolanda:

          The royal family escaped unharmed from the catastrophe: King Joseph I of Portugal and the court had left the city, after attending mass at sunrise, fulfilling the wish of one of the king’s daughters to spend the holiday away from Lisbon.

          There was the hero of the day, the Marquis of Pombal…

          Like the king, the prime minister Sebastião de Melo (the Marquis of Pombal) survived the earthquake. When asked what was to be done, Pombal reportedly replied “Bury the dead and heal the living,”[16] and set about organizing relief and rehabilitation efforts. Firefighters were sent to extinguish the raging flames, and teams of workers and ordinary citizens were ordered to remove the thousands of corpses before disease could spread. Contrary to custom and against the wishes of the Church, many corpses were loaded onto barges and buried at sea beyond the mouth of the Tagus. To prevent disorder in the ruined city, the Portuguese Army was deployed and gallows were constructed at high points around the city to deter looters; more than thirty people were publicly executed.[17] The Army prevented many able-bodied citizens from fleeing, pressing them into relief and reconstruction work.

          The religious came with Sodom and Gomorrha analogies…

          The earthquake had wide-ranging effects on the lives of the populace and intelligentsia. The earthquake had struck on an important church holiday and had destroyed almost every important church in the city, causing anxiety and confusion amongst the citizens of a staunch and devout Roman Catholic city and country, which had been a major patron of the Church. Theologians focused and speculated on the religious cause and message, seeing the earthquake as a manifestation of divine judgment.[19] Most philosophers rejected that on the grounds that the Alfama, Lisbon’s red-light district, suffered only minor damage.

          Philosophers and thinkers were heavily influenced, especially the Enlightenment…

          The earthquake and its fallout strongly influenced the intelligentsia of the European Age of Enlightenment. The noted writer-philosopher Voltaire used the earthquake in Candide and in his Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne (“Poem on the Lisbon disaster”). Voltaire’s Candide attacks the notion that all is for the best in this, “the best of all possible worlds”, a world closely supervised by a benevolent deity. The Lisbon disaster provided a counterexample. As Theodor Adorno wrote, “[t]he earthquake of Lisbon sufficed to cure Voltaire of the theodicy of Leibniz” (Negative Dialectics 361). In the later twentieth century, following Adorno, the 1755 earthquake has sometimes been compared to the Holocaust as a catastrophe that transformed European culture and philosophy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was also influenced by the devastation following the earthquake, whose severity he believed was due to too many people living within the close quarters of the city. Rousseau used the earthquake as an argument against cities as part of his desire for a more naturalistic way of life.[20]

          Politics changed completely, dynasties were destroyed…

          The earthquake had a major impact on Portuguese politics. The prime minister was the favorite of the king, but the aristocracy despised him as an upstart son of a country squire (although Prime Minister Sebastião de Melo is known today as Marquis of Pombal, the title was only granted in 1770, fifteen years after the earthquake). The prime minister in turn disliked the old nobles, whom he considered corrupt and incapable of practical action. Before 1 November 1755 there was a constant struggle for power and royal favor, but the competent response of the Marquis of Pombal effectively severed the power of the old aristocratic factions. However, silent opposition and resentment of King Joseph I began to rise, which would culminate with the attempted assassination of the king, and the subsequent elimination of the powerful Duke of Aveiro and the Távora family.

          Science progressed: modern scientists were able to reconstruct the event from a scientific perspective. Without the query designed by the Marquis of Pombal, this would have been impossible. Because the marquis was the first to attempt an objective scientific description of the broad causes and consequences of an earthquake, he is regarded as a forerunner of modern seismological scientists. The monumental statue of Marquis Pombal stands on a major plaza in today’s Lisbon… soccer fans celebrate there.

      • josephivo says:

        Why refer to the Church of Scientology, a mix of swindle and science-fiction (see jurisdiction in several European countries)?

        The Philippines always likes an amalgam different systems, the Anglo-Saxon (US, UK…) and the Continental. On this subject one with emphasis on equality, all are equal for the law, no special treatment in the House, by the House and one with total immunity for the Representatives of the People. In the Continental context this immunity can only be lifted by the House (Senate) itself, normally on the recommendation of its disciplinary commission after finishing their investigations.

  21. Joe America says:

    Off topic. Gadzooks, maybe Mar Roxas does have a strategy, and it does not rely on political slander and tabloidian gameplaying, but on building. Think this makes other candidates nervous?

  22. Friends a Big Hypothetical question.

    If Mar promises Jinggoy’s pardon and Erap endorses him. Will you still support Mar if you are a Mar supporter?

    • karl garcia says:

      I hope this remains hypothetical.

      • karl garcia says:

        How will that be declared official,if ever?
        Erap or Mar telling the press? A trusted aid or relative?Pnoy?
        It will just be one big rumor.

        If that happens I will leave the president part blank and skio to the VP,come elections.

      • Bert says:

        karl, hypothetical could turn to logical. If Erap, out of the blue, suddenly announced his support for Mar before the election, then it follows a certain conclusion, even without a formal declaration of a Jinggoy quid pro quo.

        Strange that no Mar supporter in this blog was bold enough to answer directly giancarlo’s question including me. Except you, karl, :).

        • karl garcia says:

          My way of saying huwag naman sana.

        • Joe America says:

          Karl was direct. He said he would skip to the VP position on his ballot. I was clear, I think, in saying why I would vote for Roxas. But the reason it is hard to answer is because the question is posed to provide information that runs against the grain of all that we understand. It’s like someone saying, “If we found out Joe America actually is a paid stooge of the Aquino government, would you still read his blog?” It forces us to deal with the idea that we may have grossly wrong ideas. (When in fact, we probably don’t.)

        • edgar lores says:


          Very good point.

          Giancarlo asked: Will you still support Mar?

          The question I heard in my mind was: What would I do if I were Mar?

          Given that my answer to my question was, “Yes I will pardon Jinggoy under certain conditions,” then my answer to Giancarlo’s question would also be “Yes”… even though I do not know Mar’s rationale.

          One can deduce the answers of the others as well:

          Karl: No, on the basis of his morality.
          JoeAm: Yes, on the basis of pragmatism.
          Irineo: No, on the basis of rules must be followed.
          NHerrera: Yes, on the basis of compassion.
          Bert: ???

          I would say that everyone was bold enough to answer. One just has to see through the indirect answers.

          So, again, good point… but no cigar.

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, since you asked . . . one of the things I note is that President Aquino is not lily pure and removed from the give and take of politics. Raissa Robles I believe described him as calculating, as a pool player. Mr. Roxas evidently initiated the pardon of Estrada Sr., so my guess is he is aware of certain pragmatics as well. For me, I don’t like it, but you set up the scene, and I look around, and . . . wow . . . who else is there to go with who has not done 10 times worse, or is likely to? So I turn pragmatist, too.

      Thanks for the tough question. Taxes one’s brain and values . . .

      • Roxas letting Jinggoy out would be the wrong signal. Forgiving the father in the name of national reconciliation is still understandable. But the forgiving the son who sinned in a similar way after the father was forgiven is the President setting the wrong precedent.

        If the goal is to make people go by the rules, then the whole thing crumbles with that. Nonetheless there may be ways to do it without directly playing the 8 ball and losing.

        After all, Ateneans like Noynoy and Mar learn how to piss without dirtying their hands.

        • Joe America says:

          Oh, I don’t think Roxas would make the deal. That wasn’t the question though. The question was premised on him making that choice, and I take the question as an examination of our own values, not his.

    • NHerrera says:

      There is a game theoretic answer to that question which is in effect what Joe posted first to which he made an addendum, but I will not add further along that line. But here is something.

      Mar: Boss (he was after all a former boss), you were a President and you know what makes a President gladly pardon a convict. Please advise your son. And when the time comes I will not be indifferent. I will try to make sure that my decision will give not only give relief to him, yourself boss, and not only your son’s supporters but the previous anti-Jinggoy ones who will welcome the pardon.

      Of course, that is not an answer to your question. It’s my best shot though.

    • edgar lores says:

      Hmm. That means Jinggoy has been adjudged guilty and serving time.

      Will that happen in the next six years? It took 6 years (2001 – 2007) for Erap to be adjudged guilty.

      Assuming the same pace, Jinggoy, who was arrested in 2014, will be found guilty in 2020, in the 4th year of the next President’s tenure. Jinggoy will have been in detention for 6 years.

      The next president’s term will end in 2022. Jinggoy will have been in detention for 8 years.

      If (a) Erap’s endorsement wins me the presidency; and (b) assuming Jinggoy is found guilty in or before 2020; (c) that he has made full recompense (paid back in full the proceeds of his crime to the last centavo); (d) that he acknowledges guilt; and (e) assuming Erap is made fully aware of these conditions — I will pardon Jinggoy in my last year of office… but will not restore his full political rights. One last condition, (f) Erap must still be fully alive (he will be 85 in 2022; Jinggoy 59).

      • First question: why is the judiciary so slow in finishing stuff? This is a general issue.

        Second question: how can the judiciary be made faster? What has already been done?

        Third question: what is the present backlog? How and when can that backlog be cleared?

        Ampatuan is another long-running case. It already has a full-time judge. What is wrong?

        Next place to speed up would be Congress. Even though it seems to have become faster.

        The same three questions have to be asked I think. And consequences derived from them.

        • edgar lores says:

          There were some answers provided in a previous blog here. Part of the answer is the torturous appeal process from the Sandiganbayan to the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. It seems that the Supreme Court cannot refuse to review an appeal like in the US with a simple “Review denied” or some such answer. Our SC has to supply a reason.

      • NHerrera says:

        Hahaha. The all important time factor and the snail pace of the legal process hereabouts. etc.

    • Definitely, no. By then he would have lumped himself with the traditional politicians. And oh, he would be no different with Duterte singing house arrest for Arroyo and Libingan ng mga Bayani for Ferdinand Marcos.

    • It is only fair that I answer this to.

      I take a more pragmatic stance.
      The wheeling and dealing of such principle is very out of character for Mr Roxas.
      Mar seems to be the principled win the right way or lose the right way.
      This I believe is embodied in “I will campaign how I will govern”.

      AS AN ASIDE for society regulars: This is why I am not on attack mode against Mar even if it seems everyone from our church is.

      But that is not the question. What if he agreed to the deal?

      As is customary in most places with veto this is done as the President is retiring.

      Time served plus 6 years is around 8 years as Edgar said.

      I’d still vote for mar.

      Binay is probably going to free Jinggoy.
      Kinakapatid Poe has a small but non negligible chance of freeing Jinggoy.
      Duterte hmmm don’t know.

      Mar is still the gametheoric choice for me.

      • edgar lores says:

        For me, it’s not only the time served. All the other conditions are important. It’s that the proceeds from the crime have been recovered, that Jinggoy does not get to enjoy it, and that he acknowledges guilt. Not restoring his political rights means he cannot run for office and attempt to steal again.

        Also, my deal is with Erap, and he has to stay fully alive. His premature demise would free me from my promise… because my promise is to him and not to his son.

        So at the end:

        o I have kept my promise.
        o The State has regained what was lost
        o Jinngoy gets his freedom — and a chance to be redeemed
        o Erap can welcome his prodigal son and can go rest in peace
        o And the people get an object lesson that corruption does not pay

        Its a win-win-win-win-win situation.

      • Bert says:

        My vote is a constant. Mar, for a reason. And Joe knew the reason, and probably karl, too, and some others. I can justify my reason but certainly it’s a reluctant vote. Suffice to say that in crucial moment when there is no certainty of results or even doubtful, the better part of valor is to stand by ones principle and stand by ones spoken words to another. I’m sorry I can’t elaborate, for doing so would tend to undermine the person I’m going to vote for and it’s against my grain to do that at this time.

        What is very clear is that in all of these decision making related to the coming presidential election, our objectives are one and the same, and that is what is best for our country and for our people.

  23. Bill in Oz says:

    I am perplexed. While Joe & commentators have make a lot of comments about various senators there has been no discussion about why most senators behave in this way…The BIG question is WHY ?

    I don’t think that the answer will be found by focusing on the personalities of individual senators. I think that circumstances promote certain results and from Joe’s comments the results are not good for the Philippines.

    I think we need to focus on the Philippines Senate as an political institution. For me the questions should be
    1 Who selects candidates for election to the senate ?
    2 : How are senators elected ?
    3 : How does this process produce the ‘culture’ of the senate ?
    4 : Does this current existing process elect senators who are representative of the Philippino people ?
    5 : What changes can be suggested which would change the senate culture and make it more representative of the Philippino people
    Examples of possible changes:
    1 Introduce a ‘primary system’ for senate party candidates as is used in the USA
    2 Have senators elected from specific regions rather than “at large “..Thus they would be accountable to the voters in those regions
    3 : Introduce proportional voting so that minority parties and population groups have representation in the senate.
    4 : Introduce the capacity of voters in each region to recall senators who leave the party that they are elected to represent.
    5 Have provision for senators who are being prosecuted for serious crimes to stand down from their position until their guilt or innocence is determined.

    I’m sure other suggestions will come to mind.

    • edgar lores says:

      Bill in Oz,

      Very sharp questions and some very good suggestions.

      Brief answers:

      1. The party or the presidential candidate selects the senatorial candidates.
      2. Senators are voted “at large” by popular vote.
      3. The culture of the Senate is the culture of corruption that pervades the entire political structure. It arises from the culture of impunity.
      4. Yes and no. Most senatorial candidates are selected on the basis of popularity — old names of the rich, famous and political dynasties; people in the media and from the entertainment business.

      Your suggestions:

      1. Primary system — Too complicated.
      2. Regional representation — The theory is that the lower house represents regional concerns; the senate represents national concerns.
      3. Proportional voting — Too complex.
      4. Popular recall — There was a bill in turncoatism that has never been passed into law.
      5. Suspension — Excellent suggestion. I believe the 3 senators who were detained for plunder were temporarily suspended. One of them, released from detention on health grounds, is back in the Senate creating havoc.

      6. There have been anti-dynasty bills that have never been passed into law.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        “There have been anti-dynasty bills that have never been passed into law”

        I am unsure what this means..Could someone explain further ?

        • edgar lores says:

          1. The Constitution says: “Section 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

          2. The Constitution has recognized that dynasties are a huge problem. Dynasties have a strangle-hold on power. It is estimated that as much as 50-70% of all politicians are part of a dynasty. Ninety-four percent (94%) of provinces have dynasties. The Ampatuan massacre case exemplifies the curse of this phenomenon.

          2.1. Take the Binay family

          o Binay Sr. – vice-president, under investigation by a Senate committee and the Ombudsman
          o Nancy (daughter) – senator with a diploma in culinary arts
          o Abby (daughter) – ex-congresswoman
          o Junjun (son) – recently suspended mayor of Makati
          o Elenita (wife) – served as mayor of Makati, now under graft charges
          o Pigs (pets) – being raised in air-conditioned comfort

          2.2. Take the Estrada family

          o Erap – former president convicted of plunder, now mayor of Manila
          o Jinggoy (son) – senator now in detention for plunder
          o JV (son) – senator
          o Loi (wife) – served as senator
          o Guia (mistress) – mayor of San Juan
          o ER (nephew) – suspended as governor of Laguna
          o Janella (granddaughter) – councilor of San Juan now running for vice mayor
          o Jana (granddaughter) – former councilor now running for Congress

          2.2. In Oz, I would be hard-pressed to name one political dynasty. Probably the Obeids?

          3. The Legislature has never bothered to define and pass an anti-dynasty bill.

          • Bill in Oz says:

            Thanks Edgar ! that fills me in a great deal……
            We do have famillies that have been prominent in Australian politics over generations..The Downers here in SA are one..There are others..However the ‘circumstances’ have tended to encourage honorable behavior rather than corrupt behavior..

            You mention the Obeid family.. A very interesting example in Sydney..The family migrated from Lebanon in the 1970’s..And went on to gain power & money via the ALP, with a lot of corrupt behavior…But the system has now rejected them because of their corruption..The ALP lost office in a castastrophic election loss in 2012 because of the stench of corruption..So here that dynasty are ‘past history’ ….And the leader of the clan has retired from politics after being heavied by the ALP leadership.

            Such is the way here..

      • Bill in Oz says:

        As Mary Grace stated just a moment ago : ” With God, nothing is impossible, all things are possible, all we need to have is faith even it is as small as a mustard seed.”

    • Joe America says:

      Edgar has provided a good set of answers. I’ll add some perspectives or observations. Major changes in government structure or election method would require a constitutional amendment or revision. No one is willing to go that way because they don’t trust how it will turn out. Former President Arroyo tried it and people generally think it was so she could extend her term. Several initiatives were shut down. So the constitution is frozen. Second, the depth of entitlement and impunity IS the culture. It is not something that gets objectified as if it can be changed. It is the way things work. Every conversation is a struggle for power, for with power comes impunity. That occurs in the barangays and in the legislature. One can only pound that out of the system with years of good deeds and trying to inject a sense of accountability into peoples’ lives. Roxas and Robredo work in those terms, as do an increasing number of local governments. But most operate on power. That’s exactly why the upcoming election is so critical.

      I would add that favor is the partner to power, and Grace Poe is deep into that game. Where is she getting the hundreds of millions it is costing her to run advertisements night after night? What are the expectations of those (unknowns) providing the funds? She claims she is independent. How can that be?

      • Joe America says:

        A change that could be made would be to publish a list of major donors DURING THE CAMPAIGN PERIOD rather than the report that is required after the election. Lots of luck getting that into the system, because it upsets the power and favor game. That will give you an idea of why even good ideas don’t work. They upset the system of entitlement.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          I should have included this in my earlier change list …
          What about public funding of political parties depending on the number of votes cast for each party ? We have had this here since the 1980’s.I think a vote is worth $0.70 so parties have less need to be reliant on donations from influential donors. The amounts involved are significant.

          We do not have a list of major donors published during the election either…It is published about 8-9 months later…But attempts to hide donations is viewed very badly and an indication of corrupt practice…So they tend to be out before the public eye eventually..

          • Joe America says:

            Not practical. Here the political players don’t see that there is a problem because they are doing fine within the system. Political parties don’t even have principles. Some don’t have platforms. It is only a small group of us intellectual moralists who think there is a problem.

            • bob says:

              Oh- Is this the problem?
              In 1898 the Spanish ceded (what they legally owned of the Pialligo- which was precious little- see to THE UNITED STATES (this is a company- not a country).
              in essence, this Act formed the corporation known as THE UNITED STATES.

              Article III.
              Spain cedes to the United States the archipelago known as the
              Philippine Islands, and comprehending the islands lying within the following line: etc


              ARTICLE I
              The United States of America agrees to withdraw and surrender, and does hereby withdraw and surrender, all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control or sovereignty existing and exercised by the United States of America in and over the territory and the people of the Philippine Islands etc
              NOTE- THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (which is a country- seemingly with no possessory rights to the Philippines)
              So its very important to know what were these rights etc because THE UNITED STATES didn’t/hasn’t given up any of its possessory rights it received from Spain (which still have to be legally tested.)
              Once this issues are resolved Philippines can get on with the work of being a sovereign nation it has been said.

              • Joe America says:

                Strange comment Bob. I’m not even sure I grasp your point for the legalistic/historical bent. May I ask, to help readers know where you are coming from, what is your nationality and location, and why the interest in the Philippines?


              • Joe America says:

                And for Edgar, “Bob’s your uncle!” ahahahaha 🙂

              • edgar lores says:

                He he. Uncle Bob seems to be a Chinese troll.

                The first link seems to be legitimate, a dissertation on the questionable national boundaries of the countries — questionable because of the inadequacies of the historical boundaries under Spain, the cessation to the US, and the laws of the sea that were developed in the last century.

                The second link is the stuff of the Illuminati and the Elders of Zion. The US is not a state but a corporation under the Banking Controllers. Quite interesting stuff if one has a liking for international conspiracies.

              • Joe, this is the same kind of nonsense as that propagated by lunatic fringe rightists in Germany called the Reichsbürger – the “citizens of the German Reich” who claim that the Federal Republic is not a legitimate state and therefore cannot have any citizens.

                Others – although they often are also Reichsbürger – claim that the Federal Republic does not have a Constitution, since the Constitution of the Federal Republic is called “Basic Law”, and basic laws are only promulgated in territories, not in independent, sovereign states. They ignore the Federal Constitutional Court decision that since reunification in 1990, Germany is fully sovereign, and the basic law promulgated under Allied supervision is a constitution now.

                Others – again this group has a large intersection with the two previous ones – claim that Germany does not have a peace treaty with the Allies and therefore is still under occupation and must be freed to become truly sovereign again. They ignore that the 2+4 Treaty concluded by the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic with the original Four Allied Powers is specified as being IN LIEU of a peace treaty, and therefore makes it obsolete.

                Baiting people with half-baked nonsense is an old trick of trolls and agitators.

                The big picture – and proper knowledge – is the best way to dispel crap like that.

              • Joe America says:

                It does seem like that, rather a high-minded historical irrelevancy.

              • Or like the Santiago interpretation of Philippine sovereignty and EDCA. Thanks to God, the justices of the Federal Constitutional Court are more like Justice Leonen in their thinking.

                The last German judges who were like Santiago and said “what was right before cannot be wrong today” in relation to Nazi rulings are retired or have gone to Heaven, Hell or Valhalla.

                The last German soldiers to goose-step did so on October 2, 1990 in East Berlin. Now at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they do a quiet, dignified march, much like British Beefeaters.

              • bob says:

                Then you all go do your homework and stop making presumptions. Go and study the Organic laws of the USA and then you should be able to prove there US and USA are identical.
                The second link is the stuff of the Illuminati and the Elders of Zion. REALLY? And you call yourselves intellectual? moralists. -Truth hurts

              • Joe America says:

                Sorry, bob, wrong answer. I’m putting you into moderation as you display all the signs of a troll, here to sell a story rather than participate in a discussion about the Philippine condition. We have visitors like you all the time, new name, here to lecture and undermine something, quick of temper and confrontation. You are irrelevant to our purpose until you can respond earnestly to the questions posed, and engage with others sincerely and respectfully.

          • edgar lores says:

            The anti-turncoatism bill had provisions for public funding.

            Politicians change parties because they are not based on ideologies, as JoeAm has noted. They will change to whichever party is in power for favors.

            The idea of sticking to one party is so alien that I must quote Senator Sergio Osmena III on this political mindset: “Why are we preventing something that’s not a crime? You will penalize somebody for going from Liberal to Nacionalista? Why? I don’t understand that. Everybody will turn independent after that.”

            Politicians here do not see the lack of principles as a crime. It is a necessary skill for survival.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        I do wish to respond on your comment about the constitution being frozen..I believe that there is a significant part of the Filipino people who know that system is wrong & want change; who even pray for change !

        That then is what a good & inspiring leader will seek to do : present the problem; suggest answers that are transparent and not designed to favor any particular group. And ask for the people to support that program.. It’s the big picture that moves people.

        I do not wish to comment on Poe and her election campaign. As an Aussie guest, it would not be right…But I feel you misjudge her a bit….I have watched her speech when she announced she was standing for president. I saw someone who sees major problems in the Philippines and wants to try & solve them. She may or may not have the right answers.I don’t know. But I think that her speech resonated with a lot of people in the Philippines because she went for the ‘big picture’.

        • Joe America says:

          “But I feel you misjudge her a bit….I have watched her speech when she announced she was standing for president. I saw someone who sees major problems in the Philippines and wants to try & solve them.”

          Well, let’s see now, Bill, I’ve sat through 3 hours of Poe’s Purisima hearings, almost 20 of her Mamasapano hearings, read her conclusions, watched several public presentations and interviews, read a lot of news items, examined her economic ideas next to Binay and Roxas, and written some 5 or 6 blogs trying to put things in order. I’ve concluded she is so green, disingenuous and vindictive as to be risky as President, or even dangerous. So if I have misjudged her, it is after a lot of effort trying to understand the whole of her, beyond her charismatic public persona.

          You are entitled to make up your own mind based on whatever . . . but I think you fall into the trap called “The confidence of the dumb” when you try to present others as limited in their understanding. There’s a blog I wrote a while back that you might want to read . . . or re-read . . . that talks about how easily people become experts in our modern era of opinion-mongering, sans information.

          • I wouldn’t say Bill is dumb… but he may have fallen for Poe’s way of delivering stuff… which I admit I fell for too at the beginning.

            My opinion of her by now is a nuance different from yours. I think she is green, and that she still has to develop some depth of character, to use LCPL_X’s terminology. My father liked to say that weak people become treacherous, character takes strength -> back to LCPL_X…

            What I do in fact think is that she may mean well for the country.. but that she may overestimate her capacity to deliver solutions. Six more years, and things may look different. My evolution of order article sees her – and Cory – as “prophets”. Cory was needed as a prophet back in the days. IMHO the days when prophets were need in the Philippines are over. Even the days of “moral lawgivers” – which is in my model what Noynoy was in the beginning – are over. He has developed into a modern leader, which Mar Roxas already is – next please!!

  24. Bill in Oz says:

    A PS My logic comes from the realisation that any man or woman can be ‘corrupted’ by power if the circumstances allow and promote it..
    So why bother thinking or expecting them to be perfect.. Better to set up things so the circumstances do not allow or promote such behaviour
    Remember “power corrupts..absolute power corrupts absolutely” Who said ? I do not remember..But it seems applicable here..

    • edgar lores says:

      1. Lord Acton.

      2. We do not have a powerful anti-corruption body like ICAC. There is an Ombudsman but previous office holders were lackadaisical; the incumbent is living up to the function.

      2.1. The culture expects politicians to be corrupt. Look at the front-runner: Binay.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        So change happens with a decent Ombudsman ! Celebrate it ! Help it evolve into an ICAC !

        Lord Acton was right.He was describing UK politics in the 1700’s..British politics are not yet perfect but hugely better than when Acton was alive.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Why are men & women honorable ? A few are simply by nature.And often such people do not wish to associate with corrupt or dishonorable folk …

        Most of us are mostly honorable because we live in circumstances which help and encourage honorable behavior…And if the circumstances favor acting dishonorably that is how people behave..” Even Aquino is not lilly white ” you said earlier Joe.

        My suggestions were ones that I think can change the ‘circumstances’. Perhaps they are impractical in the Philippines..OK.. Are there other changes which could work ..One change at a time ?

        • edgar lores says:

          There is one change that may not require new legislation: make justice work the way it is supposed to.

          The Judiciary is the key. But the Judiciary has lost the keys. It frees people under detention. It weakens the Ombudsman law. It plods through cases. It flip-flops.

          • The ethical grounding not only of lawyers but also of judges seems deficient, to say the least. But then again, the ethical foundation of Filipino culture is still not strong enough. Meaning that the predictability and reliability so essential for dealing with the country is not yet solid ground. Who knows what a Supreme Court might rule on EDCA when asked a second time by for example President Binay or Poe? In that case, the Philippines will deserve Chinese slavery.

  25. karl garcia says:

    Click to access ra%2010660.pdf

    The amendments to sandigan bayan law

    here is an article about the law.
    This was when it was not yet signed into law.

    Senate ratifies Bicam report on amendments to Sandiganbayan Law

    The Senate today ratified a bicameral conference committee report on the amendments to the Sandiganbayan Law geared towards the speedy disposition of corruption cases against erring government officials and employees.

    The Senate ratified the consolidated version of the bill, which resolved the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 2138 and House Bill No. 5283.

    Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, author and co-sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2138, earlier said the amendments will address the structural and institutional limitations encountered by the Sandiganbayan, “which is supposed to be the frontrunner in the fight against corruption.”

    The measure allows sessions be held upon the attendance of two members of a division constituting the majority of the members instead of all three as presently required. It also allows the addition of two new Sandiganbayan divisions to the present five, totalling seven divisions.

    The measure also modifies the voting requirement for the promulgation of judgment, decision or final order, and the resolution of interlocutory and incidental motions. The measure lowers the number of votes required from three to two in order to render a decision.

    Drilon noted that the Sandiganbayan Law or Presidential Decree No. 1606 last underwent legislative scrutiny almost 20 years ago. “The result is that a case in the Sandiganbayan now takes about an average of five to eight years to litigate and resolve.”

    “Despite the numerous advancements that have been incorporated in our judicial system through the years, justice continues to be as elusive as it has been during the infancy of our republic. As our judicial structure becomes more ingenious, so does graft and other malfeasance,” Drilon said.

    “If we are to outrun graft and corruption, it is imperative that we resuscitate and recondition our existing prosecutorial and adjudicatory institutions against this opponent,” the Senate leader added.

    Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of the bill, earlier said that the amendments to the Sandiganbayan Law will strengthen the country’s anti-graft court’s structure.

    “The capacity of this court to decide cases efficiently and promptly has been stretched beyond its limits,” Pimentel added.

    Drilon said that once the bill is enacted into law, the jurisdiction of “minor” cases will be transferred to the Regional Trial Courts (RTC), which will enable the Sandiganbayan to “concentrate its resources on resolving the most significant cases filed against public officials.”

    He noted that during the last quarter of 2013, about 60 percent of the total cases in the Sandiganbayan are considered “minor” or allegations of damages or bribes not exceeding P1,000,000.

    To guard against being an ex-post facto legislation, the bill expressly provides that the amendments to the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction and voting requirement for promulgation of judgement shall only apply to cases arising from offenses committed after the effectivity of such measure.

    “The battle against corruption has never been this intense and we will be blamed by our people if their Congress does not adequately and aggressively equip our anti-graft institutions with the proper tools to defeat and arrest the abuses in the government,” Pimentel said.

    “Ultimately, the most potent deterrent against the spread of corruption is the certainty of punishment and expeditiousness of the proceedings, and we can only arrive at such a scenario by boosting the structural capabilit

  26. karl garcia says:

    “Senate Report Card
    Drilon says 16th Congress marked by landmark laws,
    vows election fever won’t distract Senate work

    Senate President Franklin M. Drilon attributed the gains made in the 16th Congress to a strong and vibrant working link between the executive and legislative branches that resulted in the passage of many landmark legislation which were previously stymied under past administrations.

    “I am proud to report that within the thirty months of the 16th Congress, we have made possible the passage of various long-sought measures that languished in the legislative mill for years,” Drilon said.

    “The achievement of this Congress is best measured not only in terms of the number of laws passed, but on the magnitude of the positive effects and benefits these laws could give to the people and the nation in terms of uplifting their lives and the economy,” he emphasized.

    He said that some of the laws passed under the Aquino administration were stalled under previous administrations such as the Philippine Competition Act, the amendments to the Cabotage Law, as well as the Graphic Health Warning Act and the amendments to the Sandiganbayan law.

    “These are laws that we thought would never see the light of day. But thanks to the close coordination between the leaderships of the Senate and House of Representatives, we were able to steer the passage of several landmark measures, and some of them were part of the common legislative agenda that was defined at the start of this administration,” Drilon said.

    He said they are among the “biggest accomplishments of this Congress under the Aquino administration.”

    According to Drilon, these landmark laws are among the 88 measures which were enacted into law since the 16th Congress opened in July 2013 up to December 2015. Of which, 67 were enacted in 2015, 17 in 2014, and four in 2013.

    Landmark economic measures

    Pointing to the Philippine Competition Act and the amendments to the Cabotage Law, Drilon said, “These economic laws are among the milestones of the 16th Congress. The public waited for so long and it is only now in the 16th Congress and with the reform-driven leadership of President Aquino that we have finally enacted these laws.”

    The Philippine Competition Act (RA 10667) prohibits monopolies and unfair and anti-competitive/anti-consumer business practices. Meanwhile, the amended Cabotage Law (RA 10668), allows foreign-flagged ships to call at multiple ports within the country, to bring down costs of products.

    Drilon said that the Congress also passed this year the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (RA 10708) to make transparent the fiscal incentives being issued by the government to the private sector, and the Strategic Trade Management Act (RA 10697) to impose stricter controls on the transfer of dual-use goods and technologies which may be used for weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

    Congress also enacted RA 10564 to strengthen the campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the country and ensure its compliance with international obligations and standards; as well as the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (RA 10659).

    “As everyone can see, the Senate has been hard at work realizing our agenda of inclusive economic growth, through these measures which will improve business climate, boost investment and ensure the nation’s macroeconomic and fiscal sustainability,” Drilon said.

    He then pointed out that economic reform and consumer protection bills have been consistently prioritized throughout the present administration, with the passage of the Act Allowing the Full Entry of Banks (RA 10641), the Philippine Lemon Law (RA 10642), the Go Negosyo Act (RA 10644), and the Amendments to the Fisheries Code (RA 10654) during the 1st and 2nd regular sessions of the current Congress.

    Inroads in widening education

    Drilon said that the Congress has also addressed the most-pressing concerns regarding the country’s educational system. He said the Congress passed six major laws – three were passed in 2015 – to widen access to education and help poor but deserving students earn a degree. These include the Open High School System Act (RA 10665), the UNIFAST Act (RA 10687), and the National Athletes, Coaches, and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act (RA 10699).

    “Through the enactment of these laws, we will remove the traditional barriers to the effective access to public education, such as poverty, distance and age requirements,” Drilon stressed.

    In 2014, Drilon noted that the Congress passed the landmark “Iskolar ng Bayan Act” (RA 10648) to give automatic admission and provision of scholarship grants by all state colleges and universities to public high school students who belong to the top ten places of their graduating classes, as well as the Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647) and the Open Learning and Distance Education Act (RA 10650).

    Better social services

    The Senate chief also said that Congress has devoted much time and resources in increasing social services and other programs which will help ordinary Filipinos in their daily lives, such as the P82,000 tax exemption cap for 13th Month Pay and other benefits (RA 10653) and Joint Resolution No. 5 that increases the daily subsistence allowance of all enlisted and uniformed personnel.

    “We have passed laws to duly advance the state of social services in the country, particularly to those who need our care the most, like the elderly and the sick,” said Drilon.

    Drilon said that last year, the Congress passed the Mandatory Philhealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens (RA 10645), which entitles all senior citizens to avail of Philhealth benefits for their medical expenses; and the law (RA 10649) that doubles the burial assistance for military veterans from P10,000 to P20,000.

    He also noted that the Congress has passed HB 5842, or the P2,000 across the board increase to the monthly pension received by retirees under the Social Security System and which now awaits the President’s approval and signing into law. The Salary Standardization Law IV, which will increase the salaries of about 1.6 million government employees, is likewise set to be approved by the Senate next year.

    Improving justice system

    In line with the administration’s judicial reform agenda, Drilon said that Congress also passed the amendments to the Sandiganbayan Act (RA 10660) to further strengthen its functional and structural organization, and the amendments to the Probation Law (RA 10707), which expands the benefits of probation.

    It has also given its nod this year to 15 news laws creating municipal and regional trial courts to help improve judicial efficiency, he added.

    Not yet done

    In addition, the Senate leader said that 32 more proposed legislation are awaiting the approval and signing into law by President Benigno Aquino III, including the proposed acquisition of road right of way for government infrastructure projects, the SK Reform Act, the Credit Surety Cooperative Fund Act of 2015, the bill expanding the benefits and privileges of persons with disability, and the bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

    Also, Drilon said there are 44 measures that were already approved on third reading by the Senate, including the amendments to the AFP Modernization Law, the bill that will grant education assistance and benefits to dependents of all military and uniformed personnel, and the measure that seeks to provide retirement benefits to barangay officials, tanods, barangay health workers and other employees of barangay units.

    With the 16th Congress ending in July 2016, Drilon said that the Senate will maximize their remaining months in session to focus on important legislation remaining on the priority agenda list.

    “We will continue to work and fulfill our mandate by legislating relevant, important and much-needed laws for our people. Even if the 2016 elections are fast approaching, we are not done yet and the public can expect more laws to be passed for their benefits and to address their most pressing needs,” the Senate chief stressed.

    “We will not allow election fever to paralyze us, Drilon assured.

    Upon the resumption of Senate session on January 18, 2016, Drilon said that they will soon approve 35 bills on third and final reading, such as the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act (CTMA), and that they will resume work on 67 other legislation pending on second reading, such as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and Public-Private Partnership Act.”

    • Joe America says:

      That is a pretty impressive listing, but one is inclined to ask why no FOI, why no Anti-Dynasty, why no Land Use . . . Senator Aquino’s hard work on the Competition Act deserves commendation, but I tend to agree with Raissa Robles when she says something on the order of “Why do I get the feeling the Senate is just giving us the easy bills and not the hard ones?” I would add to that, “When are the senators going to develop ethical courage?”

  27. bauwow says:

    This article is unsettling in a sense that the Senate that we have does not serve the needs of the Filipinos. Again right on the spot Manong Joe, we should demand for better senators. But, this senators were “trained” as congressmen, and we should demand more from congressmen to serve their constituents, rather than stay here in Manila, flaunting the perks of their position.

  28. caliphman says:

    Joe, in case you have not seen it, Wallace’s current column has a response to your rebuttal. Well one could call trading insults a response but he went on to try and answer criticisms of his articles including ones brought up here.I am not sure exchanging further personal unpleasantries may accomplish much but addressing the adequacy of some of the answers he furnished might.

  29. bauwow says:

    Ehehehe, people from the comments section from PDI were with you Manong Joe! Indeed you rebuttal was more comprehensive and way clearer than his rebuttal. You must have ruffled his feathers.

  30. Bill in Oz says:

    This is what is happening in a parliamentary democracy reasonably close to the Philippines, Vanuatu. It is happening as a result corruption by MP’s & them being tried & found guilty of corruption..

  31. chempo says:

    I have watched the performances of some of the senators in some of the senate enquiries. Many times senators come across like they did not, or did not do enough, research on the subject matter. They swagger into the hall to soak up TV air-time. Had they done enough home work, they could have asked more relevant and hitting questions during the sessions, and lead the discussions rather than being led by those questioned.

    Case in point is the MRT enquiry. I guess lots of Filipinos are shouting is there anybody who can tell us what is the complete story of the MRT? I bet most, if not all, the senators, walked away from the enquiry any more knowledgeable than before. In my up-coming article “On a clear day you can see the MRT” you will see that there are many questions that should have been asked — in aid of legislation. Why is it that a silly article writer, having a day time job, and squeezing 30 minutes a day to do a bit of research just at the keyboards, can come up with more relevant questions, and senators with fully paid intelligent admin staff, cannot?

    Sorry, Joe, I hope there are no rules against article advertising.

    • I’ll be on the look out for that MRT article of yours, chempo..

      I agree with you on your above post. And to think that they are receiving substantial allowances for staff, research, etc. I hope they have stopped employing family members as staff to corner the budgeted funds, while said family members are doing nothing by way of proper background researches and possible proposals.

    • Joe America says:

      Promotion of enlightening works is a GOOD thing. We need to set a date for your article. 28th or 31st work? You pick . . . or suggest an alternative.

    • @chempo: I eagerly but patiently await your article.

      BTW I have mentioned Abaya’s calming down the tone of MRT head Buenafe’s insinuations of “sabotage” towards German contractor SBI as a new proper tone from Philippine officials, in contrast to Arroyo’s tone in the Fraport matter. Just like the Philippine-American alliance and matters related to it are significant for Joe – I know the Pemberton stuff especially is for him – matters pertaining to Philippine-German business are something I consider very important. – it is mentioned as a P.S. to this. Stuff like that shows the progress from “banana republic” to a proper, respectable, reliable country.

  32. karl garcia says:


    What about Piatco Chempo? You have gathered enough material for a blog.

    I have more requests, the single pension fund and the tax system blog.

    is fair tax viable in the philippines,especially with the underground economy?

  33. karl garcia says:

    I could not wait for the sss article of Bill so I will post this now.Anyways this is sort of a summary of what Mary Grace,et al gathered.
    “Corporate Watch
    Amelia H. C. Ylagan

    See what you’ve done! At first you only wanted to be good-looking in the magic mirror of public opinion, a critical concern in these last four months before the May national elections. The ultimate “epal” (from the vernacular pumapapel, referring to those claiming political credit) was to propose House Bill No. 5842, the P2,000 per month across-the-board increase in the Social Security (SSS) pension, in the courtship of voters in this campaign period. Gago na lang (so, so stupid!) whoever would oppose such a clearly humanitarian consideration for “the 1.9 million Filipinos who survive on a measly P1,200 pension.” (figures from Philippine Star 01.23.16)

    And so the proposed SSS pension increase rode on the shoulders of packs of epals in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and this fragrantly-intoxicating social-relevance bill passed in both Houses until it was surprisingly vetoed by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III on Jan. 13.

    The President said “…the P2,000 across-the-board pension increase with a corresponding adjustment of the minimum monthly pension will result in substantial negative income for the SSS. The proposed pension increase of P2,000 per retiree, multiplied by the present number of more than two million pensioners will result in a total payout of P56.0 billion annually. Compared against annual investment income of P30 billion to P40 billion, such total payment for pensioners will yield a deficit of P16 billion to P26 billion annually.” (CNN)

    Aquino explained his veto by pointing out that “the passage of the bill would force the SSS to use the Investment Reserve Fund (IRF) to fund the pension increase, and this will result in the IRF reaching zero by 2029 (Inquirer). The solution would be to increase contributions of the present work force. Employer-contributors gallantly signified willingness to increase their share of the SSS contribution per employee, but will the people still working be happy with the increased burden on the employee-side contributions? Of course not, the active SSS contributors said — they will not be willing to subsidize the pension increase for those who have stopped working and contributing.

    Those in Congress who might have seen PR opportunities in pushing the SSS pension increase beyond the presidential veto seem to be now outnumbered by those who have thought it over and realized that many more voters (the present active SSS contributors) will be unhappy with the contributions increase than the voters who are retired and will enjoy the P2,000 per month bonanza. There are 33 million SSS members who pay an average of P1,100 per month and 2.15 million retirees and their dependents who receive an average P3,200 per month (Philippine Star 01.19.16).

    In dissecting the carcass of the pension increase bill, some labor leaders said that SSS should better improve its 35% to 38% collection rate (Philippine Star 01.23.16). “Collection efficiency is not the solution,” Michael Victor Alimurong, representative of the general public to the SSS commission, said in the Philippine Star. The situation is tantamount to having five SSS members pay for a single pensioner every month. Of the 33 million SSS members, only 12 million are “actively paying.” The delinquent members are from the 75% from the informal sector who have no capacity to sustain payments every month, according to Alimurong (Philippine Star).

    The same newspaper report cited civil society and interest group comments that the SSS should trim its humongous administrative and operating costs.

    “It is the height of injustice that the SSS executives are receiving millions in bonuses despite their obvious inefficiencies and lack of regard for the welfare of millions of the now-destitute member contributors,” Buklurang Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) cried.

    In October 2013, various worker groups protested against the 2012 year-end bonuses and increased salaries of top SSS executives, demanding the return of these monies to the fund. Emilio de Quiros, Jr., SSS president and chief executive officer confirmed that he and seven other members of the SSS board got at least P1 million each as bonuses for the good performance in 2012 of the pension fund, but the P276 million was also distributed to other employees (Inquirer 10.05.13).

    Malacañang had approved a 0.6-percentage-point increase in member contributions to the Social Security System (SSS) bringing monthly salary credit from 10.4% to 11%. “President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address in July (2013) said a reform agenda for the pension system was one of his administration’s priorities. He said a rise in SSS contributions was necessary since from the 1980s, contributions were raised only twice while pension benefits rose 21 times” (Inquirer 09.25.13).

    In the midst of the SSS pension increase controversy, an unconfirmed table of salaries of SSS top executives and allowances of the Board has been going around in the Internet, but is best not cited and repeated in written and oral journalism, for lack of verified sourcing.

    Whatever it is, the matter of bringing up executive pay in government to be at par with private business executive pay comes forward again. There has been a conscious effort in the Aquino administration to increase the pay of government executives as well as the pay grades equivalent to corporate rank-and-file, purportedly to attract the best to work in government and contribute time and talent to the growth and development of the country. Why, indeed, must government be second-choice or last resort, as a career and income-provider to family and survival?

    But as he was discussing the administrative pay in the 2016 budget, Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said that it would really be difficult to bring executive salaries in government to par with the private sector’s.

    In an interview with the Philippine Star in October 2015 Abad said that “there are 33 pay levels in the bureaucracy. Salary Grade 1 is the lowest and pays about P9,500 a month. Salary Grade 33 (the President’s pay level) is the highest and pays P120,000 a month.” The President’s basic monthly salary of P120,000 is only about “30% of the market,” meaning that it would have to be increased to P400,000 — which is what President Aquino’s successor will be receiving under the salary adjustment plan, once signed into law. The Executive and Legislative are prohibited by the Constitution from benefitting from the laws they make and promulgate.

    In the same Philstar interview, Abad admitted that under the new salary adjustment plan, those with high salary levels would get more than the lower ranks. “Those with low salary grades are receiving salaries that are already at par with the market. It is the higher grades that are far from the market,” Abad said, with “market” meaning the private sector. So also does the pay-grade scale appear to be at the Social Security System, now the “flavor of the month” for social activists (and the election-season rabble-rousers?). Do you really mean even higher executive pay at the SSS?

    Alas, the debate will go on and on, as the haunting music of the Titanic goes, until the waves of protest would have been calmed only at the sinking of the ideal itself — which in the present controversy is better social security benefits for all. It will not do much to belly-ache about how much Mr. de Quiros and his team earn, nor why the fund will run out in 2029 as only the actuarians might compute, in iterations and interpolations of ever-fluid statistics and assumptions.

    Of course civil society must be vigilant and watch what guardians of the social good are doing, but the best personal hedge would be to “self-insure” by saving for retirement and old age, in the yet inadequate protection of our developing country.

    Amelia H. C. Ylagan is a Doctor of Business Administration from the University of the Philippines.”

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Karl Thanks for posting this..It complements what I have written and which will be put up on the blog today…I cannot comment with any real knowledge on the nitty gritty details..So I have tried to present the bigger picture..
      Bill in oz

      • karl garcia says:

        It will appear within a few hours,I guess.Looking forward.

        • Joe America says:

          Our rigorous Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) require that blogs be published by the Word Press Artificial Intelligence Unit (WPAIU) at 3:00 in the afternoon of the scheduled date of publication, this time being regular, like clockwork or bowel movements, assuring readers that good humor will be retained and materials shall emanate efficiently to the good will of all at the proper time.

          The Editor

  34. Madlanglupa says:

    > They let an artifact who should be in jail dominate their agenda for political revenge.

    Yes, he’s eager to start swinging tomorrow, to play the blame game. Must be that he enjoys sowing discord for sheer personal entertainment, to use it as a means of prolonging his life whereas everyone else at his age shy away at such stressful activity.

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