The Accidental Nation

Conscience - Richard Redgrave - jubilee dot centre dot org

The Awakened Conscience by Richard Redgrave [via]


(A conversation with my conscience.)

by Wilfredo G. Villanueva

“Your country has many contradictions,” my conscience told me. “One part is rich, the other poor. One is educated, the other not. One is holy, the other is hypocritical. One is patriotic, the other self-destructive, almost seditious in its ways.

It’s the season to look inwards, being Holy Week in the Philippines. We like celebrations, commemorations, anniversaries, birthdays, births and deaths. Our heroes have to be dead. As long you’re alive, nobody will believe in you.

“And you just love to take your mind off things that matter,” conscience again.

But what am I to do. Like Jim Paredes, I have no exit. I’m fighting for a better Philippines, for an inspired country, but I have to couch my words so people can accept my message.

“Oh,” conscience said, “and what may I ask is your message?”

“That we are the country that Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino died for, that we are beloved, worth dying for,” I said.

“Violins,” conscience said.

“Really,” I said, “who will love it if we don’t.”

“Look, you have advised your daughters to take up foreign citizenship, isn’t that hypocritical, considering everything you say on-line?”

“But what’s a father to do,” I replied, “climate change is upon us, disaster mitigation is the name of the game, and my children will be left to fend for themselves in a country where you will advance or be saved or helped depending on who you know.”

“There you go,” conscience said, “now you’re making sense.”

“Wait,” I said, “I didn’t say Baby my wife and I will move, we’ll stay here, so our patriotism is intact.”

“So what do people care,” conscience said.

“We care,” I said, “the country needs men and women like my wife and I. Hey, I have a secret.”

“I’m all ears,” conscience said.

“Do you know, in the EDSA One celebrations,” I said, “we’re the only ones of our age in the group that we joined. Most of them were 16 year olds, not even of voting age, and you know what?”

“Go ahead, I haven’t left.”

“When I asked them who they liked for president, it was either Miriam, Poe or Duterte.”

“I told you Mar doesn’t have a chance.”

“But that’s the reason why I’m going inward, like a trek up a holy mountain, to talk to you my conscience.”

“So what do want to know, what can I do to help?”

“Well, my question is, is there hope for the Philippines?”

“Hmm.” Big sigh.

“Wait, before you answer. The Aquino administration has done wonders in terms of uplifting the economy, curbing corruption, peace and order…”

“Hahaha! But in all the factors you mentioned, economy, corruption, peace and order, people have a reply, and you won’t like what you will hear.”

“I know. The other side of the coin. The devil’s advocate. The counter argument.”

“Tell you what,” conscience said, “why don’t we backtrack a bit. Maybe the answer lies in our genes or racial makeup or psychology or… just about everything that defines a Filipino.”

“Okay, where do we start?”

“Start with Lapulapu.”


“He didn’t kill Magellan because the Portuguese was a foreigner, an invader. He killed Magellan because he came with an opposing tribe. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” conscience said, snickering.

“Granted,” I said, “but the priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora, they were patriots like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Heneral Luna and the rest.”

“Like you, there were, there are a few of them.”

“C’mon,” I said, “give us a break.”

“And the Philippine revolution,” conscience said, “it wasn’t the whole country in revolt against Spain, it was province or region—Katagalugan for instance—that took up arms, set their own laws. The Malolos Republic consisted of revolutionaries removed from the rest of the population, the Muslims, for instance.”

“My head aches,” I said.

“Deal with it,” conscience said. “Mark this, what did most of the Filipino veterans do right after winning the war against Japan?”

“I know what you are going to say,” I said.

“They wanted to be Americans!” conscience said.

Oh, that sinking feeling.

“But Ninoy Aquino,” I said, “united the country.”

Conscience was quiet.

“Conscience, what have you to say. I said Ninoy Aquino united the country.”

“You know you are right. After a long, long time, we finally found one Philippines. Lapu-Lapu was tribal. Katipunan was regional. Filipinos against Japanese was actually most Filipinos acting as Americans against Japanese. But Ninoy was different. The mortal wound on Ninoy’s nape from a single gunshot was felt from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. In a way, Marcos united us as a nation because we all suffered the same excesses, we were all stolen from by way of Imelda’s insanely luxurious lifestyle. And when Ninoy came to reason with the dictator, we felt one with him when he was gunned down before he could meet Marcos.”

“That was one great moment for the country,” I said.

“Yup. You got me there. We have been one nation since August 21, 1983. We thank Ninoy for that. But where are we now?” conscience asked.

“Well, his son is asking us to vote for Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo to continue Daang Matuwid,” I said.

“And the nation isn’t biting,” conscience said.

“And the nation isn’t biting,” I said, “Not biting yet, anyway.”

“What else can be done to make Daang Matuwid win?” conscience asked. “It’s six weeks to election day.”

“I’m afraid it’s down to deus ex machina, divine intervention—for the non-religious, an accident, we need an accident,” I said.

“Accident?” conscience asked.

“Well, Cory’s death in 2009 was a deus ex machina or an accident because everyone saw how Noynoy Aquino loved country and family,” I said.

“Well, whatever that is, it hasn’t got much time left,” conscience said.

“We’re an accidental people,” I said. “We’re on the path of natural calamities, somehow we are also on the path of blessings, divine intervention, accidents.”

“You know, you’re right,” conscience said. “What’s your name again?”

“Stop kidding around. If it weren’t for spices, the world wouldn’t know we existed. If it weren’t for the blowing up of the Maine, we wouldn’t be the first colony of the United States, to learn democracy, English, civil government, patriotism, to be educated. If not for globalization, our work force will not be known around the world.”

“You’re right. Everything is either divine intervention, or an accident,” conscience said.

“We are an accidental nation,” I said.

It’s Spy Wednesday, the day when Judas Iscariot spied on Jesus and handed him over to Sanhedrin. The country is winding down for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday, and finally, Christmas for adults, Easter Sunday. It’s a good day to be talking to one’s conscience.

Do we need divine intervention or an accident to sustain the gains of Daang Matuwid? Or will the people surprise us on May 9? That will be an accident.


116 Responses to “The Accidental Nation”
  1. “Look, you have advised your daughters to take up foreign citizenship, isn’t that hypocritical, considering everything you say on-line?”

    Wil, your conscience apparently just slandered you! 😉 Good read as always, history, religion and self. For some reason I imagined you communing with your conscience in a small (but colorful) outrigger canoe in the middle of the sea, like so…

  2. Edgar Lores says:

    1. I have always viewed Will as the quintessential Filipino. He represents Philippine culture in all its strengths and weaknesses, its joys and tragedies.

    2. The strong character traits that I see here are: patriotism, love of family, marketable skills and true commitment. The weaknesses are: factionalism, false commitment, emotionalism and fatalism.

    2.1. Important: I am not saying Will embodies all these traits. The strong traits, yes. The weak traits, no, because he is fully aware of these.

    2.2. As one reads, one can see instances of the strong and weak traits. I will not dwell on the positives as they can be readily seen. As to the weak traits:

    o Factionalism can be seen in the Philippine revolution.
    o False commitment can be seen in veterans wanting to become Americans.
    o Emotionalism can be seen in the “irrational” choices of candidates… in both the 2010 and 2016 elections. Yes, PNoy was an irrational choice.
    o And fatalism can be seen in the faith in accident or the deus ex machina mechanism to determine Fate.

    2.3. In the real world, accident and deus ex machina are not polar opposites. If the former is chance then the latter can be interpreted as causality… although not in terms of the pre-ordained determinism of the Greek tragedies. We live in a partly mechanistic universe but not everything is predestined. Neither our individual nor our collective destiny.

    2.4. To believe in either the paradigm of accident or that of predetermined causality leaves us hostages to random or unalterable Fate. That we are neither the masters of our fates nor the captain of our souls.

    2.5. We need to shift our mentality from an accidental life, country or universe to a purposive life, country and universe. Remember the Butterfly effect? We can make a difference.

    3. Lastly, one weakness that may not be obvious is our lack of Introspection as a people. Introspection is not a habit and we introspect – that is consult with our inner beings – only on special occasions. We should do more of this… more often.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Are we the masters of our fate or do we leave everything to chance or to God.
    Bahala na ang Diyos o bahala na si batman.
    Pag naka tsamba swerte.
    Pag di baka tsamba- Malas

    The Portuguese using the Indian ocean route were already in Malaysia a decade before Magellan tried the Pacific route.
    Di pa kaya napadpad na noon pa ang mga Portuguese sa mga isla natin?

    The US were already trading with China,have they been here before
    The Cuban-Spanish Ameican war?

    • Nagkasalisi pero tugma pa rin ang mga sagot natin kay Will… my answer to your question is below.. AKO ang bahala can mean taking charge come what may tutubi or langaw.

      We always were at the confluence of trade routes… Manong Sonny uncovered that the Tamils moved to our area when the Romans stopped selling them Romanian gold…

      The Americans already traded with the Philippines (abaca) in the early 19th century from Salem, Massachussets… American ships secured Legazpi City very quickly in 1898 because it was the abaca port and supply mattered.

      • caliphman says:

        If you are going to bring up the history of Philippine agricultural exports to the US and the EC including Britain, its hard not to mention sugar. When Magellan arrived, there were already numerous sugar cane plantations throughout the islands. In 1790 the first exports to the US started. After the galleon trade ended in the 1820’s and Manila was opened up as an international port, sugar surpassed abaca as our number one international export. It occasioned the rise of Pampanga not as an as alternative political capital such as when the British occupied Manila, but like Negros it became a center of sugar planting and milling. The very rapid rise in the demand and consumption of sugar wordwide meant the industry was thriving before the Americans decided to take on the Philippines as its white man’s burden and nip the hard won independence of the Malolos Republic in the bud. The US sugar quota undeniably helped boost the industry and the wealth of sugar hacenderos like the clans of Aquino and Roxas on their maternal side, thereby allowing the marriage of money and politics which in addition to celebrity seem to be the key features in the establishment and perpetuation of our political dynasties albeit with certain exceptions like Apo Ferdie who like Jejomar stole their billions.

        • caliphman says:

          To learn and understand more of the sweet roots of our country’s history and how international trade formed part of it, the above link might be worth reading.

          • sonny says:

            caliphman, it is worthy to note that California was for Philippine independence in order to eliminate imminent agricultural competition from 10 million ‘cheap laborers’ from 8,000 miles away. And Philippine sugar was allowed minimal tariff to hedge against Cuban production and lagging domestic sugar beet volumes.

            • Thanks both for your details on sugar… abaca I just happen to know more because I am reading a book on its history – and because my Filipina great-grandmother’s family were abaca planters who had luck on their side during the 1870s until around the 1920s…

              Sugar and tobacco were the typical Spanish colonial cash crops we share with Cuba, cigars and rum the spin-offs. BTW my mother told me about a book on the tobacco trade in Ilocos she has read and the division of labor between the different groups and the hierarchies inherent in that division: Spanish mestizos controlled the planting, Chinese were traders and financiers if I remember correctly, Igorots somehow at the losing end.

              Look at all three cash crops and you have a rich economic historical picture that forms.

              Add coconuts and copra of course then you have the Danding Cojuangco aspect… anything else that I might have forgotten? is about bank secrecy and the layers of wealth from 1900-1970.

     is about the distribution of wealth and about the same 1970 warning about “internal colonialism” from Ninoy himself… Senator Aquino sees one great danger: the Filipino who becomes master in Juan’s house may not be Juan de la Cruz himself. Juan may find that the foreign exploiter he kicked out has been replaced by a native one. “The Spanish exile, Salvador de Madariaga, warned that a country can become the colony of its own people.” And the hurt is that it’s Juan’s money that will be used to make him poorer and his master richer. – Philippines Free Press blog if one looks for it also has articles about how Marcos claimed to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines BEFORE Martial Law and kept promising to create a foundation with his money. Have a telco coming so I have to go…

              • caliphman says:

                If one looks closely at the ethnic and class structure of the sugar industry during the Spanish era, there were four tiers. The lowest tier were the Indio or masa laborers who worked the cane fields for the plantation owners who acted as their lord, protector, and benefactor in our version of a medieval feudal society, sans armored knights and palaces. Over and above the hacenderos were the principalia who were mostly the richest and most influental families of the community which the Spaniards appointed as local political leaders and tax collectors. The sugar trade was of course controlled by Chinese families and consisted of those outside Manila who collected the raw sugar harvest to be gathered and shipped to Europe where it was refined, which is why the opening of Manila as an international port was such a crucial event. It was those Chinese who were able to help and work with the growing local milling industry who were able to reap the huge profits from the refined sugar trade which was based in Manila. While largely apolitical and occasionaly the victims of racial pogroms, the Chinese were able to maintain their social and political influence by “sharing” the fruits of their trade. Over and above everyone were the Spanish insulares and peninsulares who along with the Church represented the colonial power of the King.

    • sonny says:

      “… The Portuguese using the Indian ocean route were already in Malaysia a decade before Magellan tried the Pacific route.
      Di pa kaya napadpad na noon pa ang mga Portuguese sa mga isla natin? …”

      Affirmative, nephew. The Portuguese were already operating from the Moluccan spice island of Ternate, via Sarangani island and the Sulu Sea.

    • balayang says:

      Karl : pag di nakatsamba misa. 🐣

    • karlgarcia says:

      I can say that the “Accident and Deux Ex Machina” is a reiteration of Wil’s “May Diyos naman.
      Campaigns are usually to sway the undecideds,but it is also for changing one’s mind.
      Few more weeks till election day.

      I still do not grasp why some base their choice on latest survey results.

      On another note.
      In my good Friday introspection and reading Irineo’s sacrifice blog and Joe’s note to the editor on reflecting on the meaning of Giving; I reflected on martyrs and heroes beginning where charity begins then the scope gets bigger and thank them all in my prayer.

      • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

        Thanks, Karl. You’re right about the reiteration. I cannot imagine framing the beloved country without God in it. I got a slap on the wrist from Donna (March 25, 9:55pm) for belying the hand of God in our history, but actually Donna and I are on the same page. God on a machine (deus ex machina) is a device to explain the unexplainable, and I figured “accident” was the nearest word that could capture the element of surprise, resolution, come-from-behind wins that encapsulates the Philippine experience. Thanks, Karl. Thanks, @Donna.

  4. When I look at the reactions of especially millenials to the FB feed of my blog, I see a nation forming. Every nation was formed in the crucible of history and the best definition of a nation is that of an Austrian intellectual – a Schicksalsgemeinschaft, a community united by common fate.

    Karl’s spontaneous reaction (I like the nimbleness of this madiskarteng batang hamog na dilaw) 🙂 to that statement in one of my older articles is that it sounds like bahala na gangs… well he worked at Customs so by Digong’s definition he is a gangster… make sure he loses Karl! 😀

    But bahala na can also have a positive meaning – ako ang bahala means taking charge of things, come what may. It is BTW what endears many to Duterte inspite of his crudeness – he is very much a Filipino pragmatist, like a jeepney or a tricycle driver but he has taken charge in the past.


    Come what may I see the Philippine nation forming – five nations at the moment, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao each with their distinct experiences as communities of fate plus the two overseas nations (in the Native American sense of nation) of Filipino-Americans and Saudi/ASEAN OFWs.

    Because what I see is likes and cheers for American bases, shock and interest in my article on bank secrecy, anger and derision at what China is doing as reported in the “The Maharlikan”, cheers for DOST Project NOAH in disaster recovery… common causes and interests unite.

    The Netherlands became a nation in adversity – fighting both the sea and Spanish conquerors. The Swiss became a nation as fierce mountain tribes fighting off European political dynasties from the 13th century onwards, echoing the unification of the Mountain province under Balweg.


    Tribal strands that form nations have been a constant of history. My second home, Bavaria, got started by marauding Germanic and Celtic invaders who subdued the Latinized native tribes but integrated the educated among them because they knew how to read and write unlike the others.

    Hungarian incursions on horseback – even monks chronicles about that age are thin, and the few that survived show a terrible period terrorized by the then still pagan invaders, who finally were pushed back to the bend of the Danube and Christianized – fused these groups into a nation.

    Germany in the Middle Ages was principalities, large parts split off – Netherlands, Switzerland)- religious war (1618-1648) that makes Mindanao look harmless (General Tilly of the Catholics whose statue still stands in Munich slaughtered an entire Protestant city) destroyed the core.


    I have shared on Mary’s FB page a posting by a youth who protested against Bongbong Marcos and was harrased by both police and BBM staff – echoing Martial Law. The worst case may yet be Thailand-like conflicts in the coming years, in fact whoever wins brace yourselves folks.

    My role continues to that of a chronist in my blog, Manong Sonny that of an elder monk whose wisdom strengthens faith, Karl is the one handling the scriptorium looking for manuscripts… the truth is essential to understanding which can help weave the strands into a nation someday.


    What gives me great confidence is that transparency was listed as a main concern of Filipinos before the debate… shielding against disasters is just as important… more supporters should talk about Project NOAH and the Diwata satellite which are things Duterte might see as “algebra”.

    • sonny says:

      “… My role continues to that of a chronist in my blog, Manong Sonny that of an elder monk whose wisdom strengthens faith, Karl is the one handling the scriptorium looking for manuscripts… the truth is essential to understanding which can help weave the strands into a nation someday.”

      You reminded everybody that the Chinese (before Mao) work on a timeline of millennia, as do the Jews and the Catholic Church. It behooves the Filipinos as ideological descendants to have a good dose of that sense.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Meron pa bang bahala na gang?Bihira ko na mabasa sa tabloid eh.

  5. OT: MRP will now hate on Pia more than on Korina when he is back… she is dating now, this is evidence and not a witness account…

    REIGNING Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is no longer a member of “Team Sawi,” as the Filipina beauty queen is apparently dating Mikhail “Doc Mike” Varshavski, who was named the “Hottest Doctor Alive” by People magazine in 2015.

  6. – who is my President? This poll is one more evidence not just a witness account that the Philippines is growing away from idolatry to political maturity! 🙂

    May 9, 2016 — this is the date when we decide where the Philippines will be headed for the next 6 years and beyond. And in the midst of the circus that is the Philippine election season, don’t you want to know where exactly the candidates stand on pressing concerns of national interest?

    We have consolidated, through various news reports from different sources, a collection of what the candidates have to say on twenty (20) socio-political issues. But instead of giving you the raw list, let’s do things differently. We want to ask YOU where YOU stand on the issues — and after which, we will show you which presidentiable matches you on your stand on issues.

    It’s a compatibility test, simply put. This one though is based on facts, not mere perception.

    mga kapatid, para itong mga blindfolded taste-test noong araw ng Coke at iba pang softdrink. Ang resulta ko: 50% Roxas, 30% Santiago, 20% Poe. Subukan din ninyo!

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Mar Roxas – 58.14 %
      Miriam Defensor-Santiago – 44.19 %
      Jejomar Binay – 44.19 %
      Grace Poe – 30.23 %
      Rodrigo Duterte – 25.58 %

    • Joe America says:

      Mar Roxas – 64.44%
      Grace Poe – 42.22%
      Miriam Defensor-Santiago – 28.89%
      Jejomar Binay – 20.00%
      Rodrigo Duterte – 11.11%

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Mar Roxas – 53.85 %
      Jejomar Binay – 40.38 %
      Grace Poe – 36.54 %
      Miriam Defensor-Santiago – 34.62 %
      Rodrigo Duterte – 28.85 %

      Being consistent with my champion!

    • NHerrera says:

      My PiPoll Compatibility Results

      Mar Roxas – 51.11 %
      Miriam Defensor-Santiago – 40.0 %
      Grace Poe – 37.78 %
      Jejomar Binay – 26.67 %
      Rodrigo Duterte – 26.67 %

    • NHerrera says:

      Note that the totals for the Pipoll-generated numbers are not 100 except Irineo’s. So I normalized the numbers. After that, I also took the Average and Standard Deviations:

      * Irineo Wilfre JoeA edgar NHerr Averg SD
      R 50.00 28.74 38.67 27.72 28.05 34.63 9.73
      S 30.00 21.84 17.33 17.82 21.95 21.79 5.07
      P 20.00 14.94 25.33 18.81 20.73 19.96 3.74
      B 00.00 21.84 12.00 20.79 14.64 13.85 8.77
      D 00.00 12.64 06.67 14.85 14.64 09.76 6.38

      • NHerrera says:

        Since the numbers are close to each other as they appear above, I post again the Average and SD:

        *——— Average– SD
        R——— 34.63—- 9.73
        S——— 21.79—- 5.07
        P——— 19.96—- 3.74
        B——— 13.85—- 8.77
        D——— 09.76—- 6.38

        • NHerrera says:

          From our five numbers (Irineo, Wilfredo, Joe, edgar, NHerrera) — limited though they are, R is at the top, S/P comes next, and B/D comes last. A rough measure of The Society’s sentiment?

          • Joe America says:

            If we are going by the platform ideas of the survey, it is not sentiment, but judgment as to how to deal with major issues. I’d say the sentiments expressed in the discussion are an outgrowth of how closely people agree with candidates’ proposed policies on this or that. Not the other way around.

            • NHerrera says:

              Right. Our judgment or sentiment that comes from our assessment of Presidential candidates, issues/ policies and how these may be implemented. The algorithm or program that connects our clicks/ answers with the Presidential numbers generated by Pipoll is interesting.

          • edgar lores says:

            I confirm.

    • chempo says:

      Mar ——– 70%
      Grace —– 20%
      Santiago — 5%
      Binay —— 4%
      Duterte —- 1%

      Mar is so high not because he is fantastic, but because the others are woeful.
      Santiago low for health reasons.

      And Marcos —– negative 50%

  7. caliphman says:

    Ahhh when infomercials start coming out, the soft sell artists artists are kicking into gear…thats ok anything that helps stop a Duterte or Marcos dictatorship.

  8. RHiro says:

    With due respect to the author, The title should read The Accidental Country.

    Rizal is honored as the First Filipino Nationalist for he put forth the idea of a Filipino nation composed of Indios. But he felt strongly that the road to nationhood was going to be a hard and a long struggle. He disdained the contradiction between Filipinos and Indios. Unfortunately that culture still exists just as the legacy of slavery permeates till today in the U.S.

    I strongly believe that the reason Ninoy came back to talk to the dying Marcos was his fear of the struggle for succession. It would have resulted in armed conflicts between military factions and the conflicts between the left and not so left. The not so invisible iron hand of the U.S. guided the transition after Ninoys death. By 1980 the economy started to weaken the political crisis exacerbated the collapse. All due to external factors. Those divisions still exist to a lesser extent today. Hence Duterte is now channeling a move to a Federal system of power sharing. May be a unitary parliamentary system more in line with the political economy that is feudal in structure.

    Even the system of common laws which we use started in the formal feudal structures in England.

    It is impossible to leapfrog to a broad base popular form of representative government without first creating the broad middle to balance the forces of the state and the rich in an open society where ideas compete.

    From the “Princeling” Roxas to the others running for President none channel this idea of Rizal.

    How does one convince the youth to be patriotic when it is they who know best that they can get better paying jobs abroad.

    The Malaysians shower him with more respect as a leader of Malay community.

    Look even in the U.S. during the 19th century America was already worriedly looking East for the upcoming future competition from India and China. Mao actually united China as a singular nation state.

    The U.S. came here precisely of that future threat which they foresaw to their united group of States. United economically by a uniform currency and central state management of external and internal trade.

    Internally the U.S. is wracked by historical divisions. But their strong adherence to the rule of law gets them through their conflicts.

    “We read in a London paper that the Chinese government have purchased machinery,and engaged experienced engineers and spinners in Germany to establish cotton mills in China, so as to free that country from dependence upon English and Russian imports. Though China is somewhat tardy in her action, we may be certain that she is thorough. … More than this, the time is not far distant when the textiles from the Chinese machine looms, iron and steel and cutlery from the Chinese furnaces, forges and workshops, with everything that machinery and cheap labor can produce, will crowd every market. The four hundred millions of China, with the two hundred and fifty millions of India,–the crowded and pauperized populations of Asia,–will offer the cup of cheap machine labor, filled to the brim, to our lips, and force us to drink it to the dregs, if we do not learn wisdom. It is in Asia, if anywhere, that the world is to find its workshop. There are the masses, and the conditions, necessary to develop the power of cheapness to perfection, and they will be used. For years we have been doing our utmost to teach the Chinese shoemaking, spinning and weving, engine driving, machine building, and other arts, in California, Massachusetts, and other States; and we may be sure they will make good use of their knowledge; for there is no people on earth with more patient skill and better adpated to the use of machinery than the Chinese. When the Chinese goernment is doing for China, Dom Pedro is doing for Brazil [this would be Dom Pedro II, the last ruler of the Empire of Brazil], though in a different form.””

    • NHerrera says:

      Though China is somewhat tardy in her action, we may be certain that she is thorough … United economically by a uniform currency and central state management of external and internal trade … and we may be sure they will make good use of their knowledge; for there is no people on earth with more patient skill and better adapted to the use of machinery than the Chinese.

      China has demonstrated that; and I find persuasive that it will use those elements, among others, in their strategy going forward.

    • chempo says:

      Good read, RHiro.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Good point, RHiro! But come to think of it, given the way this election is going, we have become a nation. Telcom technology, climate character, jet travel, ro-ro (roll on-roll off), highways, pride in OFWs, BPO leadership, Binay hatred, resistance to a Marcos comeback, 24/7 social media, have contributed to making us One Philippines.

      • R.Hiro says:

        From your hands to heaven. However it still a worrying phenomena as to why Marcos is polling so high even higher than Roxas. The same for Binay. I beleive that Duterte’s entry has hurt Binay and Roxas.

        This coming last month before D-Day I firmly believe both Marcos and Binay will unleash a full court dominance of the airwaves.

        Let us wait and see.

  9. NHerrera says:


    I find the use of the dialogue between “conscience” and yourself interesting and effective in bringing the points in your characteristic soft way. I do hope too, aside from similarly-minded efforts, that some unusual events intervene to help in those efforts. Thanks for the ideas and the read.

  10. R.Hiro says:

    Spoken like a true Princeling…..The eyes, ears and mouth, see, hear and speak through the mind.

    “Third, Mr. Roxas’s speaking beyond this administration and into his presumptive presidency, when a credible push at the present can be done by him, betrays his own lack of commitment to FOI. His ticket’s campaign manager is the Speaker of the House, on whose authority and power rest the calendaring of deliberation and voting on the measure. Mr. Roxas could have called on the Speaker and his party to back the FOI. He could also have called on the President to convert his non-support to decisive support.”

    “Finally, and with all due respect, I sense in Mr. Roxas the kind of arrogance that also characterize the governance style of Mr. Aquino in dealing with policies and people’s advocacies.”

    “Subsequent to the exchange on FOI, the discussion shifted to the issue of reduction of the income tax rate.”

    “While justifying Mr. Aquino’s contrary position, he referred to the advocates of the tax reduction as the “peanut gallery.” My observation is, when people’s positions coincide with the policy choices of the administration, the people are the “boss,” but when there is disagreement with advocacies, the people is the peanut gallery.”

    “With the foregoing considerations, as an FOI advocate exercising my voter’s right, I say #NoToMar in 2016.”

    by Nepomuceno Malaluan is Co-Director of the Institute for Freedom of Information, a partnership program of the Action for Economic Reforms (AER) and the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism. He is Co-Convener of the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, a network of more than 150 organizations that is at the forefront of the campaign for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act in the Philippines. He is a lawyer with academic background in economics.

    Mar could have simply said that as far as income tax reform goes, Indexing taxes to inflation would be part of the solution. Also he could have enlightened the people about Singapore. Their provident fund invests with the private sector in major corporations and thus provides healthy revenues to the government.

    It also borrows from the same fund since a government IOU is as good as money for the people of Singapore and the money is used to build a lot of the infra projects in Singapore. So the whole country profits….So need to tax since the IOU is simply another form of future taxes.

    As far as government is concerned ‘mahina ang ulo’ ni Mar. As far as business economic and investing he is good at it for his own and his families self interest.

    The Araneta-Roxas clan owns the mother franchise for Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen and Taco Bell. is idol is warren buffet.

    He is a universe apart from the investment needs of a nation state which he clearly showed in his management of the DOTC.

    • Joe America says:

      I find endlessly fascinating that allegedly intelligent and highly moral people such as Nepomuceno Malaluan will define a person by their issue, or a nation, without regard for the horrors the other candidates are likely to impose on freedom of information. Thus we have the critical thinking leading to the possible disaster ahead. It is not poor people. It is people who place their vested interest ahead of the nation’s.

      I have come to agree with President Aquino that FOI is of little relevance to an administration that is sincerely interested in running a forthright, honest government. The Aquino Admin has opened National government up to a wealth of information. Just probe the web sites of the agencies. But no one is looking. The “journalists” aren’t interested in it, any more than when I publish a blog on banking. Only a select few care. Why should a government run itself in circles building a bureaucracy that is able to respond to any whimsical inquiry from any particular yahoo on any particular day of the year when there are people to feed and an economy to fuel?

      • NHerrera says:

        I believe as you do that The President has taken the Big Picture and has come to a conclusion much as you praised it:

        Why should a government run itself in circles building a bureaucracy that is able to respond to any whimsical inquiry from any particular yahoo on any particular day of the year when there are people to feed and an economy to fuel?

        If we take into context our Media, Politicians and the opinion makers, to take only these groups, it is likely we will have a FOI Department — whose staff and the logistics required for its functioning — becoming one of the biggest Departments with very low “returns” for its purpose, as against the needs towards education and poverty reduction.

        Just because countries A, B, C, … X have FOI doesn’t mean we should have it AT THIS TIME.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, plus there is the futility of it all when we have a press that pursues agenda in the first place. So I have to be honest, that a part of my view is strictly cynical. There are few institutions hereabouts that actually pursue objectivity in the moral model of FOI, that is, seeking truth. That is why we never see Senator Poe smoking her cigarettes but we see relentless photos of her praying in church. What good is information when the users are abusers who are peddling propaganda?

          I don’t know if this is real or photo-shopped, but the point is meaningful:

          • NHerrera says:

            If “that” is true and not photo-shopped, and we have a parallel one with her smoking and similar cameras around — then I say pass the FOI. Now Na.


          • edgar lores says:

            In fairness, the Inquirer should publish photos of…

            o Binay before his empty walk-in safety vault
            o Duterte’s collection of non-fatal slingshots
            o Santiago’s clear chest x-rays
            o Roxas wearing a tattered t-shirt

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, it should.

              Had the photo shown Roxas at the church praying, can you imagine the howling and front page ridicule?

              I tell you, it is whacko here.

              • caliphman says:

                I would not be surprised if that picture was taken when it seemed that only literary a Hail Mary pass would save her candidacy from also being disqualified at the SC. Is the Philippine press and media biased..Inquirer, Bulletin, Journal, Manila Standard, etc, etc.,? The answer is yes. Do they publish with an eye towards printing what copy or photo sells the most papers? Should they? If it was a government or non-profit sponsored press, it should but unfortunately it is not. Do major established newspapers here in the US push for a candidate? Sure they do. Do blogs like GRP, CPM, and even this one also have a bias for or against candidates or administrations? You betcha. But the point is, there are different shades of gray and even with the presence of bias and journalistic mortal sins, the first places I go for news and interesting views is PDI, Rappler, and this blogsite.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Holy Cow ‼️😡

            • bauwow says:

              Wow! Indeed, a picture paints a thousand words! I wonder, how can she pray or pray meaningfully with all the cameras shoved upon her face.

              Although I suggest that she hold a rosary for more effect.

          • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

            The other side of mudslinging is piousness.

            adjective pi·ous \ˈpī-əs\
            Simple Definition of pious
            : deeply religious : devoted to a particular religion
            : falsely appearing to be good or moral
            From Merriam-Webster

            From Philippine Daily Inquirer:

            Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has lamented the “thirst for position” of candidates in the upcoming May elections, which has resulted in mudslinging.

            “There’s been a lot of mudslinging. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, come what may, as long as the rival is overthrown,” Cardinal Tagle said during his Good Friday homily at Manila Cathedral.

            In a report by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the cardinal said the thirst for position of politicians showed the “sad” state of politics in the Philippines.

            He also said the desire to win had driven people to “jealousy and mudslinging.”
            The “Gospel of Success” had misled many people, he said, adding it was also common in the workplace where crab mentality usually existed.

            “And once the opponent falls, you’ll declare, ‘It is finished!’” Tagle said.

            The archbishop said personal success and selfish interest had prevailed over love and mercy for others.

            “Let us not be like Pontius Pilate who chose his ambition over Jesus,” he said, urging the Catholic faithful to stand up for what was right. RC

            Read more:

            • Bill in Oz says:

              But by the bizarre logic of Cathoiicism, if Pontious Pilate had not chosen ‘ambition” there would have been no crucifixion and no resurection and no Christianity.. perhaps Tagle should say thank you to PP ?

              • sonny says:

                By this logic, it is all God’s fault. The Christian God’s, anyway. Neat, signed sealed, delivered.

          • balayang says:

            Artista, talaga ala Susan Roces. Nasaan si Romeo Basket if not si Pakwan na lang 🐰

      • R.Hiro says:

        Allow me to interject on your allegation that with an honest President no need for a FOI act. The reason why people are lobbying for one is they feel that institutionalizing an FOI as part of the law of the land is safer if when like you say another is elected to the Office.

        When Bloomberg News sued the Federal Reserve for information on the bail outs it did in secret for the worlds banks at first the Fed said that they needed confidentiality as this could undermine confidence. But months had already passed so under the FOI there the Fed was forced to release the information.

        Can you imagine the treasure trove of information that could be had which is almost impossible to access from the government at the present time. Like all the lump sum appropriations under the present government. Or all the PPP contracts most especially the governments explicit and implicit guarantees?

        You see under a fiat currency system a state debt or government guarantee is currency.

        The entire PDAF fiasco was about a grade school graduate who went about re-discounting Special Allotments Release Orders as part of our elected officials earmarking of state procurement. The SARO’s are similar to post dated checks. They are not tenders of payment like cash but they are similar to government IOU’s. The same with local governments.

        Then we have the BSP who oversees the daily trading of forex in the BAP. You see in more open societies where currencies are traded in open and transparent markets like commodity exchanges, both buyers and sellers are known. You see part of the beauty of the market system is the beauty of transparency and openness so price information is disseminated to all interested. That discretionary power the BSP has vests tremendous wealth making power with a few.

        Under the FOI they will have to reveal why, when and how much they traded in support of their mandate. They are using public funds…..

        The beauty of the imaginary world of Adam Smith is one where the butchers, brewers, and bakers operate in a open system.

        This chap Malaluan is part of an NGO. Journalist here are paid to report on the press releases of government and big business. From my personal experience with the major network here and a prime time host. We were politely requested not to discuss certain public issues that related to the owners of the station. Even my own humble experience with Roxas in two public forums where I participated and he made a fool of himself.

        Look my own close relative is an investment banker and he practices his craft in the real world. He and I have arguments that had to bridged as we were operating in two different universes.

        Governments cannot be run like a business and vice versa. Bankers, are essentially supply side experts. They have a wealth of information in micro economics. Their view of demand side economic management is akin to Marxism…

        Take a look at the bank secrecy law in a regime of open current and capital accounts and liberalized trading of forex. A recipe for disaster. This falls into the realm of monetary policy which even bankers like the heads of RCBC and their lawyers are clueless. I am not an expert but based on my personal interactions with some of them I know there is a lot of room for foolishness.

        Look even the president is clueless and was betrayed when he announced proudly that a banker asked him to consider making the peso internationally convertible.

        All Central Banks of the planet who have dollar reserves are clients of the FED the main central bank of the world. Those dollar reserves are public funds. How in Gods name did public funds get remitted to four individuals in the Philippines through RCBC?

        Bank secrecy with an open current and capital account and open forex trading.

        Now the new buzz word is inclusive economics. So they trot out the CCT program that distributes less than one half of one percent of nominal GDP.

        All serious businessman in the country know how easy it is to launder money from the country.

        Even a nobody like me knows the process and have done it a few times. Under the rules all have to be reported to the BSP.. It is almost a no rule situation.

        The money from Bangla Desh may have been already been transmitted to the U.S. which is the most open system in the world.

        • chempo says:

          “Then we have the BSP who oversees the daily trading of forex in the BAP….. That discretionary power the BSP has vests tremendous wealth making power with a few.”

          Not quite sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying the FX market here is not open? The banks here trade with one another, or through brokers, and everyone has instant pricing info on their Reuter screens. It’s not like in Equites or Options market where one trades with the House. Members trade directly with one another and the deals are privy only to the 2 counterparties. But the deals instantaneously updates the Reuters trading data base.

          BSP is the regulatory authority over the banking industry, as with all central bankers in other countries. Not quite sure where is the discretionary powers and wealth making power that it shares with a few, as far as the FX market is concerned.

          • R.Hiro says:

            Trading of FX in the Philippines is done through the BAP/PDS trading floor. Derivatives can be bought which are non-deliverable.

            BSP role in intervention in forex markets is to flatten out volatility in line with its primary mandate which is price stability. Through its current account with foreign banks it buys and sells towards their mandate of price stability. It’s treasury does the daily monitoring and trading. BSP is not any any other bank trading.

            The Fed releases data on when and how much they buy whether it be treasuries or currencies.

            Peso is not traded on world currency markets.

            That would mean since it is done in secret other banks gamble on which way intervention will go to try to beat the market. Forex trading is highly leveraged when not bought for clients payment needs. Look when the peso started weakening there was intervention to keep the peso under the pyschological level of P47 to $1. Similarly when the peso started to gain strength the BSP started buying dollars. That kind of power must be made open to the public after a month or so to know exactly the extent and reason for the intervention. Volumes of forex trading are among the highest of any market sector in the economy.


            “Trading at the PDS starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 4:00PM. A lunch break from 12:00 noon up to 2:00 PM is observed. The BSP reference dollar exchange rate (included in the foreign exchange rate bulletin) for the day represents the weighted average of all done deals at the PDS during the preceding day. Currently a summary of the results of the daily transactions done at the PDS is available at the FX summary page of the website of PDEx (, Reuters page PHPES01 and Bloomberg BAPH1. These pages contain the following information: open, high, low, close, weighted average rates and volume.”

            • chempo says:

              Thanks for the details.
              It’s inconsequential but I think for FX there is no trading floor. (Philippines can’t be that backward). It’s all done through networked systems. For peso/$ spot deals it’s done through the Philippines Dealing System. For other currencies or non-PDS member banks, it’s mostly through Reuters or Bloomberg systems.

              Peso is not a major currency, but that does not mean international banks don’t trade in it. What it means is that in the international FX markets they don’y have direct php/$ quotes, so they will do what is called cross-rates.

              I understand the central bank’s role in market intervention to maintain price stability.

              What I want to learn from you is in the FX market how does Bangko Sentral have what you say “That discretionary power the BSP has vests tremendous wealth making power with a few.”

              • karlgarcia says:

                For ordinary mortals like me. To be able to relate on the exchange rate, I got to read this FAQ.

                Click to access exchange.pdf

              • R.Hiro says:

                Trading floor is metaphor for the BSP /PDS trading system.

                Kindly point to a foreign bank overseas in the U.S. or U.K. Where I can trade dollars for pesos for my portfolio, daily, weekly etc.

                Forex policy in Philippines is managed float.



                Foreign Exchange Intervention: A Short Review of Transmission Channels and Practices
                – Mr. Zeno Ronald R. Abenoja
                This paper briefly reviews the transmission channels, mechanics and the empirical literature on the effectiveness of foreign exchange market interventions. Several tactical issues arise in intervention operations that could be considered by authorities including unilateral as against coordinated intervention, spot versus derivative market intervention and secret compared to announced intervention. In the Philippines, an examination of the intervention profile of the BSP reveals that its participation at the PDS in terms of frequency and magnitude has specifically gone down since mid-1997. Moreover, it was observed that the frequency of its foreign exchange operations, at the PDS, has been relatively symmetric. The attempt to model the impact of intervention on the peso in this paper reveals that the BSP net sales of US dollars at the PDS spot market are associated with the depreciation of the peso. This seems to raise the simultaneity issue where authorities intervene precisely when daily movements of the peso are large. At the same time, results of the modeling exercise suggest that foreign exchange market intervention, when sizable and when undertaken in successive fashion, do affect the exchange rate in the desired direction and contribute to the decline in the volatility of the foreign exchange rate.

              • R.Hiro says:

                Why build a railroad when no one but savages abound?

              • R.Hiro says:

                Click to access bispap73s.pdf

                Intervention to prevent the peso from gaining too much or losing too much in a day.

                All this should be made public after the fact for all interventions.

                I% gain leveraged 30 times is 30 percent gain in one day.

              • karlgarcia says:


                This comment was from JAG five years ago.

                Man, you two sound a like.

                “Ahem, another so called economist proposing stuff he so obviously does not know or understand anything about.

                Firstly on effective exchange rate. When we export abroad we do not sell our goods for pesos. We sell it for dollars, yen, euros or swiss francs predominantly. Don’t just quote stuff.

                Secondly under the BSP law most of our forex reserves are to be in dollars. They are mostly all lent out to the U.S. government. They do not sit in a giant vault in the BSP. They are also mostly in the form of ledger entries in some U.S. bank which is part of the U.S. Federal Reserve System which backstops our fractional reserve banking system. Do you know what that means?

                Now the BSP with a capital paid up of only Php 10 billion pesos and with forex reserves equivalent to over $70 billion one question comes to mind. How did the BSP buy the reserves?

                They simply created the pesos out of thin air in exchange for these dollars. Those pesos then are added to the total money supply in the economy domestically. Today the BSP with the tremendous amount of peso creation in the past few years has had to expand the use of their special deposit accounts to park all these pesos. Today Php 1.22 trillion are parked in this account alone.”


                Money from thin air…hmmm.
                So you agree with Micha afterall?

              • chempo says:

                @ RHiro

                1. “Trading floor is metaphor for the BSP /PDS trading system” — OK, understood.

                2. “Kindly point to a foreign bank overseas in the U.S. or U.K. Where I can trade dollars for pesos for my portfolio, daily, weekly etc.”

                Like I said, it’s not a major currency thus it is unlikely to be quoted openly. But if a trader needs the peso, he can ask for a quote and his foreign banker will provide. via cross rates.

                3. Re central bank intervention — thanks for the details. I’m acquainted with the process and the objectives but not too smart not into whatever modelling methodologies of the central bank.

                I thought you referred to a central bank previleged activity where they can make unfair profits that’s shared by a few. That was what I wanted to know, but if I misread you, OK, drop the querry.

                I understand the FOI relates to the call for central bank to publicise their market intervention activities. I think in normal circumstances, central banks allow their currencies to float within a given band (mostly undisclosed) and they intervene discreetly to maintain the ex rate. The intervention is not profit motivated and there are many times when they intervene knowing full well that losses will be incurred, but it’s for the greater good of price stability. Most central banks do provide certain data on such activities, and without checking, I’m quite sure Bangko Sentral do too, but I stand corrected on this.

                @ Karl

                Re the ‘special deposit accounts’ — this is the excess liquidity in the market that the Bangko Sentral suck out of the system. This has the same effect as issuing Treasury Bills. Where did the excess liquidity come from — real research required to determine it, but in theory could be — (1) over printed in the past?, (2) excess bank credit expansion (due to low reserve requirements in the past?), (3) a shrinking economy thus existing money in circulation becomes excessive… Note that when the excess liquidity is pulled out this way –(a) the money previously created never goes away — it’s in the central bank, (b) tax payer money is involved — Bangko sentral pays interest on the special depo a/cs.

              • R.Hiro says:

                Obviously you missed the paper written by the late really good former head of NEDA Cayetano Paderanga on the origins of the rise of the SDA. I posted it sometime back. It was done for the BSP. Starting in 2003 when the country started having CA surpluses and it continues till today. Part of job of maintaining price stability is preventing the dollar collapse vs peso which would be problematic for dollar earners.

                BSP sells dollars to keep rate within band to keep peso from devaluing too fast while it buys dollars from creating too strong a peso.

                Your points 1-3 are way off base. The economy has been on a growth path since 2003. Except for the period of the financial crisis. In a shrinking economy how is there excess liquidity here in the Philippines?

                Paderanga already pointed out that the stronger peso would be bad for the exporting productive sectors and service sectors. It would decimate obviously earnings of families dependent on it and BPO and the small export sector.

                Did you miss both Greenspan and Bernanke reference to the savings glut held by exporting countries to the U.S. to keep their currencies weak. It was all over the financial news during the height of the crisis.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks also to RHiro for reminding us sbout the late Cayertano Paderanga’s paper.

                The solution was found in special deposit accounts (SDA’s) that enlarged the definition of funds which could be deposited to the monetary authorities. The central bank had essentially run out of government securities that it had been using in its open market operations and later had to resort to SDA’s to keep in check monetary growth. SDAs eliminated the ceiling on the central bank’s ability in siphoning liquidity out of the monetary system. SDA interest rates were then set at a high-enough level, outbidding the private sector for securities up to the volume needed in mopping up liquidity. Since there was an underlying liquidity injection, crowding out was avoided. (In fact, it was in the interest of the public sector to keep interest rates low because of the large fiscal indebtedness). The high level of SDA deposit rates however still kept borrowing rates relatively higher than it would have been without the intervention. The drawback of SDAs comes from the large interest payments that the central bank now had to shoulder. Because of these activities, the velocity of money, especially of M1 which is closer to the MB in composition, has been on a downtrend (see Figure 13).”

                Click to access BSP_4a_paderanga_paper.pdf

            • caliphman says:

              Does one really have to wallow in the arcane intricaces of BSP and bank foreign exchange
              Practices and procedures to explain why or why not the FOI makes sense or is necessary?
              Rather than clarifying the issue, it just makes the whole topic impenetrable for most people. I have seen these these type of technical minutuae in many international banking symposiums and pardon me for saying, its tediousness brought tears to my eyes then as it does now.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Sad,but true.
                In relation to the recent cyberheist,
                Can FOI uncover,covered tracks?
                For old school paper trail,
                The enemy of FOI would be shredders and master forgers.
                For 0s and 1s that would be a bigger challenge.

              • R.Hiro says:

                Fresh money in exchange for existing money denominated in dollars. BSP is authorized by law to create legal tender. FDR Jr. through an executive order ordered all U.S. citizens to surrender their gold in exchange for paper dollars. Legal tender that can be used for exchange purposes or paying taxes.

                BSP buys dollars (Golds replacement) from the private sector through banks and issues IUO’s in the form of pesos which can be used for exchange or paying taxes. But who determines the exchange valuations. T6he so called market or the market with the help of the heavy hand of the BSP.

                Kindly pull out your peso and read the contract written in Filipino. Important words are the guarantee by the Republic all backstopped by the legal power of the Republic to collect taxes. Under the law a tender of payment can be done through cash only that paper currency or representation of it authorized by law….

                Even the debt (T-Bills) issued by States are currencies and fully negotiable and tradeable.

                The debtors are the citizens and residents and the creditors are both citizens, residents and foreigners. It is an extension of the ledger entries in banks where money creation is vested. So the State expands the money supply to aid and enable the economy.

                That is why the process of money creation must be transparent to all.

                What is so technical about laws and the power of a State? After all money is simply a representative idea of value backed up by state power. If the state has little or no credibility through its actions people’ shared expectations of the money will be destroyed and they will abandon it. Prime example is Venezuela today. Largest oil reserves in the world. No one wants to lend it money.

                Man it is really really complicated.

                Shinning example is the U.S.A. It has debt equal; to years amount of output. But its interest rates are so low and it has no problem finding clients for its debt paper. In countries where you have strong institutions the men who received the proceeds of stolen money, they would be thoroughly vetted together with the casinos.

              • R.Hiro says:



                We live today in a world of transnational corporations, transnational criminal organizations (illegal drugs, human trafficking, weapons trafficking), global insurgencies that use terrorism, all of which are highly enabled by dysfunctional states, weak states and failed states. The Philippines naturally is a highly dysfunctional state run by the political/economic royalties that prevail.

                This so called citizens however are almost all highly dependent on the same group of royals.

                Loyalists abound ready to fight and die for their royals.

                That is why the abuse of discretionary power in all its aspects is clearly visible in all aspects of state power.

        • Joe America says:

          I’m not arguing that open information is not needed. I’m arguing that it is available now and no one is using it. DBM has a wealth of information available, but no journalists here are probing and following to try to identify more PDAFs. They are busy following Grace Poe around as she stops off at this church or that.

          Governing the Philippines, a poor nation, is a matter of a lot of choices as to where to spend money. I’d rather it be spent to get rid of the Bank Secrecy Act than to impose constraints on a government that, from all evidence, is working very hard to be transparent. I used to raise my voice demanding FOI, and then I did a few projects that proved what a fool I was in some of my presumptions. Because I was wrong, and the information was there to prove it. I was too obtuse to look it up. Why clear a road in the forest if no one is traveling that direction? Why build a farm-to-market road if there are no markets? Build the markets and then the roads.

          • R.Hiro says:

            Let us look at the DOJ. Some years back me and some well meaning citizens filed a letter complaint with the Ombudsman about the DA secretary under GMA. The very same agencies under the PDAF scandal of the DA were also involved.

            Under Pinoys DOJ they did not do any investigating they simply took Ben Hur’s notes and documents and filed the cases and Napoles took the brunt of the flak.

            FYI C-5 was classified as a farm to market road under Ramos. Building a railroad where there was no one but savages happened. So was building a bridge to nowhere.

            Like you said in your post so many choices where to spend and yet they under spent simply because they were administratively impaired to do the spending. So why allocate the funds?

            So you could reallocate it later to your pals?

            • karlgarcia says:


              “Let us look at the DOJ. Some years back me and some well meaning citizens filed a letter complaint with the Ombudsman about the DA secretary under GMA. The very same agencies under the….”

              Was it regarding below?

              The President introduced the guest speaker Mr. Jaime R. Regalario, the Chairperson of the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya. He is an Economics graduate of the University of Santo Tomas. If his various speaking engagements would be read, we would run out of time. His speech in 8 pages entitled “The RP-China Farm Agreement, Another Act of National Betrayal” is in the website This minutes of the meeting will only contain substantial points that are not a repetition of them.”

              Click to access 20070821.pdf

      • caliphman says:

        Because the next president and his administration may not be as trustworthy, transparent and may have many things to hide that the pyblic should know about?

        • Joe America says:

          That wasn’t on my mind in writing the article. If it is on yours, I understand.

          • caliphman says:

            But that is central to the heart of the argument. The law insures that Roxas, Binay, Poe, Duterte or even BBL and any future government are legally required to share with the public has a right to know but it does not want to share, as an example because it is embarassing or exposes hidden political agendas. How much more relevant and important is such a law more so now that there are candidates in the impending elections that seem to have so much to hide or that confuse what is legal with what is convenient?

            • Joe America says:

              Good point, for sure. It presumes that future governments may not be so open to using automation to let the people know what government is doing. It all depends on how the law is written. There seem to be two major objections to FOI: (1) Right of Reply that would take editorial control from mass media and mandate equal time for those who claim to be harmed by a report printed or produced by the media outlet; it currently is not in the bill, and (2) the ombudsman and courts would be jammed up with filings under the act. It is this “administrative burden” that I think needs to be weighed against the right to data. I’m rather of the opinion that any reporter can go to any agency and request information, and get it, today. No agency wants to be portrayed as non-cooperative. Also, I tend to think that any crook can doctor the books to make what is reported look fine. That is the beauty of their expertise. So I don’t think an administratively cumbersome law is going to stop people from stealing.

              I keep asking, “who is going to use the law, and for what purpose?” And I come up empty. It would be better to just open banks up to legal investigations and let the supply of information be natural, requested and provided. Rather than mandate a whole government full of systems to provide information that is never requested. If anything, we should be getting a lot of nonsense out of government rather than putting it in.

              • Joe America says:

                In other words, follow the money, instead of the information that reports the money.

              • caliphman says:

                There is a need for an FOI law for the reasons I have cited above. Just because it seems Aquino has mandated a policy of transparency in his administration is no assurance subsequent administrations will continue to do so. Its like buying an umbrella, just because its sunny now doesnt mean its not good to have one. If you are saying that it is difficult to foresee any situations where the law should be useful in the future, one should not have to wait for a Binay, Duterte, or BBM presidency before realizing transparency is not high in their to do list. Granted, as you say the bill needs to be crafted carefully so that the process does not become an administrative nightmare. But many countries have similar laws and have been able to institute procedures and regulations that enable smooth,quick and orderly enforcement.

                Just like any individual right this balance has,to be stuck in enacting the enabling legislation. It is however not right to say adopting it is problematical because the Ombudsman and other courts might be bogged down with an increase in complaints. One does not look the other way if a crime is committed because the courts are backlogged or prisons overcrowded. Its like avoiding a checkup with the doctor for fear a medical problem that might be difficult or costly to treat.

              • Joe America says:

                High on your priority list, low on mine, where bank secrecy, land use, anti-dynasty, divorce, broadband services, electrical services, administrative efficiency and economic laws are more important.

              • R.Hiro says:

                You had me at the repeal of bank secrecy for the benefit of law enforcement and revenue agencies. An effective state is a strong State that makes sure to fund its institutions for the public good as defined by Blackstone.

                That would be the Holy Grail or Hammurabi’s Code. The Audacity and Gall and the Impunity by which huge amounts of money were moved around and passed on in cash to two shady businessman during the Daang Matuwid era. Banks are quasi public institutions.

                “The public good is in nothing more essentially interested, than in the protection of every individual’s private rights. William Blackstone

                “The law, which restrains a man from doing mischief to his fellow citizens, though it diminishes the natural, increases the civil liberty of mankind.” William Blackstone

                “Men was formed for society, and is neither capable of living alone, nor has the courage to do it.”William Blackstone

  11. chempo says:

    I enjoyed reading the article.
    Napoleon Hill had his conversation with the Devil, you with your Conscience.

    “The Filipino is worth dying for”….
    Everybody knows Ninoy’s famous 6 words, but how many really understand the context of his famous quote. He was agonising over a few good questions, the same questions that have been expounded over and over again in this Society blogs by several intelligent members here.

    “Is he (the Filipino) not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown?
    Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice?
    Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited for presidential or parliamentary democracy?”

    As far as the poll shows, the answers to Ninoy’s questions seem to be YES.

    The Accident you are waiting for Wil, is a divine intervention that forces every Filipino to speak to their conscience and grapple with Ninoy’s 3 unpopular questions.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks, Chempo! We in the Mar-Leni column have to keep pounding on the sheer mindlessness of Duterte and Poe believers. Maybe we were able to do that with Binay who’s languishing in the low two per cent second-debate evaluation—the man is on the ropes, air gone completely from him perhaps by massive pounding against his person and his family in social media. As we wait for deus ex machina, we have to keep working like it’s not coming, otherwise we slacken our efforts.

  12. Erlinda J Jalbuena says:

    The divine intervention came when Jessie Robredo died in a tragic accident. His widow Leni is now running for Vice President, something she only agreed to after much soul searching. Like Cory Aquino before her, it is my hope that she will win & continue the Daang Matuwid that Cory Aquino had started. If another Marcos wins the Vice Presidency, then it will be my conclusion that the Filipino is not worth dying for.

    Sent from my iPad



      Local politics is very different from the norm in cities of Naga and Cebu. Both feature reformist mayors and a local politics focused on public good provision and politicians competing on their track record.

      In our field work in Cebu, we met with local organizations of poor urban people who actually endorsed different candidates. Before local elections they invite the different candidates to come and address them, and then they grade them according to different criteria. Once they have picked the one they think is the best, they work for this person’s election. This situation does not lead to a different type of clientelism simply targeted at the organized groups, but a different sort of politics. As one lady said to us:

      if you sell your vote, you don’t get any services.

      So vote buying is out, services and public goods are in.

      When we asked where all this organization came from, we were told it was a direct legacy of the People’s Power Movement which had overthrown Marcos. People had organized to fight for the end of martial law and the dictatorships and after the return to democracy they had stayed organized and used this to try and get the new democratic institutions to deliver.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Keep on believing in the Filipino, Erlinda, and in divine providence.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Will I believe in the capacity of Filippinos..But I have serious doubts about divine providence. In the back of my mind is an old English language saying ” God helps those who help themsleves”

        Meanwhile I have just found an excellent BBC 24 minute program on Youtube about Over population, poverty, contraception, OFW’s & BPO workers in the Philippines. There is also an interview with Cardinal Taglie.

  13. Bill in Oz says:

    Ummmm Slightly off topic : Irineo’s comment about the blog of the book “why Nations fail” got me searching there..There are 10 blog posts about the Philippines

    ome are very interesting and useful..especially by drawing in comparisons with other nations..

  14. Donna says:

    I don’t pretend to be a literary geniuses like the blogger/ contributors of the Society of Honor, but let me add my voice here. I like your analogy of about our nation being an accident, remember thou that “there are no coincidences or “accidents” and everything happens for a reason. Have you ever wondered that there are Filipinos in every front, center, back, corner of the world. That the voices of our young workforce are all over the PABX of the entire planet. That our cooks, chefs sous chef feed the Presidents, Royals of some of the most influential leaders of the world. That a strong number of Filipinos would care for children or elderlies of middle class to elite families all over the world. That we have priests, pastors, missionaries spreading the word of God, and on, and on….no matter if they tke on the nationalities of their adopted/ hosts countries, they are still Filipinos at heart. Citizens of the world, global, they may or may not conquer the world, so what? They know Jose Rizal, they know Ninoy, maybe not intellectually but how they live, work and serve their families left behind. Jose Rizal was killed for this malasakit at ganun din si Ninoy, I am sure that is no accident.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Donna,

      We’re actually on the same page. I used the word accident not in its normal meaning but to describe a phenomenon that’s not easily understood, therefore best explained as something coming out of the blue, something too good to be true. Thanks for your comment.


      • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:


        His Easter People

        God’s not dead, He is alive,
        God’s not dead, He is alive,
        And so it came to pass,
        Jesus is alive again, yearly
        He does this heavenly phenom,
        He dies and comes alive again,
        comes alive again like sunrise,
        we miss him in the dark days
        when Pontius Pilate played
        politics, knowing Jesus was
        innocent yet he condemned
        Him to a death fit only for the
        worst and lowliest criminal,
        crimson blood Jesus did shed,
        slapped, whipped like a dog,
        mocked with a false crown,
        His garment lovingly woven
        by Mary for her God-son
        raffled off, made to carry
        on his shredded shoulders
        the sins of the world, solid
        and unfeeling as wooden
        cross, and finally, three hours
        hanging on beam and post,
        three nails to keep Him there,
        like some animal, gentle soul,
        stuck and nowhere to go,
        choking and bleeding to death,
        from heaven consubstantial
        with the Father through Him all
        things were made, like some
        vermin loathsome slow death,
        heaven heaved, tore apart
        the curtain in Solomon’s temple,
        Into Your Hands I Commend
        My Spirit, He said in His dying
        breath, fast forward to 2016,
        elections in May, it’s good that
        Jesus died and has risen and
        will come again, as in Calvary,
        His believers thought all was
        lost, dejected and bereft of a
        leader, as we all are these days,
        hoping and praying that God
        will be God and will listen
        to our prayers for heaven in
        the Philippines, we’ll never
        know, won’t we, just as when
        He died, His disciples thought
        the dream was over, turned into
        nightmare, and so we pray today
        to the living God, to save us from
        a thief, a pretender and a murderer,
        it will be all right in the end,
        God will appear at the final hour,
        and give us our daily bread,
        He will not lead us to the test,
        He will give us a good leader,
        It will come to pass, for we are
        His people, His Easter people.

        Happy Easter to all believers!

        Easter Sunday
        March 27, 2016

        • Bert says:

          Willy, I just hope Jesus will really save us this time from the scourge of a Poe , or a Duterte, or a Binay, or even a Mirriam presidency by letting Mar win the election else after the election your poem statement that Jesus is still alive will be effectively debunked.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Happy Easter Will!

        • NHerrera says:

          Happy Easter to you and your family!

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