Benchmarking the Duterte presidency

benchmark ashleycowie dot com

The incoming Duterte Administration is being formed now. Early indications are that the Cabinet will not have a lot of technocrats. They are political appointments. We can debate the qualifications of the specific people, and maybe will as the line-up becomes more definite. But right now, let’s just circle some important wagons. Let’s set some tangible goals that we ourselves can use to judge the OUTPUT of the new Administration. That way, we can be assured of being objective rather than operating on a lingering political bias.

We know that the Duterte government will focus on a few important goals:

  • Stable, growing economy
  • Crime reduction
  • Poverty reduction
  • Peace in Mindanao
  • Harmony with China
  • Infrastructure development

We also know the opposition has identified a couple of potential vulnerabilities:

  1. Human rights. Significant issues are raised by alleged vigilante killings in Davao. We should try to measure how well the Administration is doing to raise the Philippine performance on human rights.
  2. Corruption. Will jailed plunderers be released? Will anti-corruption efforts be strong? Will clean-up of LGU’s continue, or are we back to self-enriching local warlords under the guise of Federalism?

Finally, we have that complex and profound matter of Federalism and a Constitutional re-write. That one will be tough to measure in tangible terms, but we can perhaps set forth some parameters to consider.

With that as background, let me propose nine benchmarks that we can refer to regularly as the Administration proceeds with its work.

(1) Economy

We an see from the following chart that annual GDP growth for the Philippines, among the leaders in Asia and the world, has recently hovered around the 6% mark, with 10-year high around 9% and a low around 1%:

bnechmarks philippines-gdp-growth-annual tradingeconomics dot com

[Chart source:]

Here are the suggested benchmarks going forward:

  • Outstanding: 9%
  • Excellent: 7.5%
  • Expected: 6%
  • Weak: 4%
  • Failure: 2%

Legitimate reason for weak performance could be global economic decline, but it should be remembered that the Philippines benefits from OFW remittances and a comparatively low GDP base for the population of the nation. In other words, people resources aren’t yet wholly deployed generating productive work and there is a tremendous upside to performance potential.

Woe to the Administration that takes the shining star back to economic dilapidation.

Crime and delinquency psa dot gov dot ph 2014

[Chart source: (2014)]

(2) Crime reduction

Crime statistics over the long term are not wholly reliable because reporting methods have changed from year to year. However, we do know the Duterte Administration expects sharp reductions in criminal activity. If we take the base rate of 2012 as a starting point, we would say that a clear reduction of crime rate per 100,000 of population ought to be expected.

Here are the proposed benchmarks:

  • Outstanding: reduction of 15 per year or better
  • Excellent: reduction of 10 to 14 per year
  • Expected: reduction of 5 to 9 per year
  • Weak: little change or increase of up to 5 per year
  • Failure: increase of more than 5 per year

(3) Poverty reduction

Our benchmark measure is percentage of individuals living under the official per capita poverty threshold. In 2015, 26.3%of the Filipino population lived on income below the poverty line. This is slightly improved, but statistically no different, than the 27.9 percent figure in 2012. The figure in 2009 was 28.6%. In 2006 it was 28.8%.

The Philippines pays a price for its population growth of 1.9% per year, or 5,000 new births per day.

For now, we can sketch out some benchmarks. A future blog will discuss in more detail how much income has to be redistributed or generated to bring the poverty index down. The challenging “expected” target considers: (1) continued strong economic growth will soon start to pay dividends, and (2) poverty reduction is a primary goal in the Duterte platform; the need to improve the lives of impoverished Filipinos is essentially one of the main reasons for his electoral success.

  • Outstanding: 2.5% reduction per year
  • Excellent: 2% reduction per year
  • Expected: 1.5% reduction per year
  • Weak: 1% reduction per year
  • Failure: No change, or increase

(4) Peace in Mindanao

We don’t have any tables to refer to in order to index peace in Mindanao, but we can establish some performance targets if we consider that there are three basic ‘rebellions’ underway at the present time:

  • NPA/CCP ideologues and extortionists
  • Indigeneous people (MILF/Moros et al)
  • Outside terrorism (BIFF/Abu Sayaff/ISIS)

The past approach has been military conquest and eradication of the NPA and outside terrorist efforts, and negotiation with the indigenous peoples (Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL). President Duterte is offering the NPA/CCP a stake in government, so he clearly anticipates ending that conflict, and perhaps the BBL matter will get reconfigured as a part of a Federalist master plan. We don’t know how President Duterte will deal with terrorism that originates outside the country.

Here are the benchmarks I would suggest be used to weigh performance of the new Administration, with achievements coming by the end of the Duterte 6-year term:

  • Outstanding: Agreements with NPA and MILF; agreement with or eradication of BIFF/ISIS
  • Excellent: Agreements with NPA and MILF; suppression of BIFF/ISIS
  • Expected: Agreements with NPA and MILF
  • Weak: Agreements with NPA or MILF
  • Failure: Continued active rebellion on all three fronts

(5) Harmony with China

Again, we must build our expectations on a ‘project’ or ‘outcomes” basis. We know that President Duterte is more inclined to work out a negotiated agreement with China, but the critical issue becomes, is Philippine territorial integrity, as defined by international law, retained by the Philippines? After all, these territories are rich with resources that can support the impoverished Philippines in the future.

The presumption here is that the UN arbitration panel will rule substantially in Philippine favor, confirming that the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) gives the Philippines rightful claim to resources within 200 nautical miles of her land baseline.

Proposed benchmarks covering achievements within six years:

  • Outstanding: China withdraws from all contested areas
  • Excellent: China withdraws from Scarborough Shoal and negotiated agreements are reached on all other contested locations
  • Expected: The standoff continues; the main contest is between the US and China for open seas
  • Weak: China holds her position and reclaims Scarborough Shoal; China begins commercial exploitation of selected ‘islands’
  • Failure: China holds her position, builds a military outpost on Scarborough Shoal, and begins widespread commercial exploitation on other Philippine claims

(6) Infrastructure development

Infrastructure encompasses a range of national investments, from roads and airports to dams and ports. The decision as to where to invest is always challenging, and one big ticket project can change the alignment of investments from land to air or energy. This particular set of benchmarks will focus only on the overall level of investments without considering what projects are included. We know that the Aquino Administration was criticized from both directions, for doing too much (DAP) and for doing too little (projects delayed by planning, funding or implementation). Yet the overall level of investments increased markedly from 2010 to 2015.

What is the “right” level of investments for the ability of the Philippines to borrow or pay off obligations? The Aquino target was to reach infrastructure spending of 5% by 2016. That target is within reach this year.

infrastructure spending investphilippines

[Chart source: investphilippines]

Given the anger in Manila about transportation overload (leading to the demand for “change”) and the lagging investments of the past, reflected in the poor road, train and air capacities, the 5% level is probably now a minimum threshold rather than a maximum target. Here are the proposed benchmarks, considering total infrastructure and capital spending:

  • Outstanding: 8%
  • Excellent: 7%
  • Expected: 6%
  • Weak: 5%
  • Failure: Below 5%

It is possible that there may be a lagging effect for a year or two as the new Administration re-sets priorities. However, an enduring slowdown in investments, thrown against ever-increasing demand, would certainly be considered a failure in performance.

(7) Human rights

This is an area of considerable argument and friction right now because the early pronouncements of the Duterte Administration go against the grain of international norms for human rights. Killings outside the halls of justice, for instance, or the resumption of capital punishment, especially by the brutal means of hanging. There are also signs of infringements on freedoms cropping up (curfews).

Rather than critique the individual issues, we will look to international ratings to evaluate Philippine progress toward improving the nation’s human rights performance. If the Duterte Administration believes a higher success is found in crime reduction or “discipline” than human rights . . . that is for the Legislature and Judiciary to take up.

Our position here is that the Philippines will not be a modern, first-world nation – open to tourism and investment – until it accepts international norms as reasonable rules of fairness and compassion. Therefore, it is important for the Philippines to curtail human trafficking, and to seek compassion, equality, fairness and liberal individual freedoms.

The most thorough evaluation of Philippine human rights is prepared periodically by the United States as a part of the global push for freedom, fairness and compassion. The last report was done in 2014: “Philippine 2014 Human Rights Report” (pdf file).

The Philippines is cited for weaknesses in numerous areas:

  1. Widespread vote buying
  2. Dynastic political families monopolize elected offices
  3. Authorities at times lost control over security forces
  4. Extra-judicial and vigilante killings and disappearances
  5. Weak and over-burdened criminal justice system
  6. Widespread official corruption and abuse of power
  7. Allegations of prisoner/detainee torture and abuse by security forces
  8. Harassment and allegations of violence against human rights activists by local security forces
  9. Warrantless arrests
  10. Lengthy pretrial detentions
  11. Overcrowded and inadequate prison conditions
  12. Killings and harassment of journalists
  13. Internally displaced persons (IDPs)
  14. Violence against women
  15. Abuse and sexual exploitation of children
  16. Trafficking in persons
  17. Limited access to facilities for persons with disabilities
  18. Lack of full integration of indigenous people
  19. Absence of law and policy to protect persons from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  20. Child labor
  21. Ineffective enforcement of worker rights
  22. The government rarely investigates or prosecutes human rights abuses
  23. Long running insurgencies result in displacement and harm to civilians

Benchmarks going forward might be stated as follows:

  • Outstanding: notable improvements in 12 or more areas cited above
  • Excellent: notable improvements in 7 to 11 areas cited above
  • Expected: notable improvements in 3 to 6 areas cited above
  • Weak: minimal improvements and perhaps degradation in one or two areas cited above
  • Failure: Degradation of performance in more than 3 areas cited above

(8) Corruption

We can look to global ratings as the best comprehensive measure of the nation’s progress at reducing corruption.

Transparency International is a commonly cited global rating agency. The Philippines in 2015 was ranked as the 95th least corrupt nation among 175 countries. In this index, down is good. The rating had deteriorated under the latter years of the Arroyo Administration but improved steadily under the Aquino Administration, until a slight up-tick in 2015.

transparency international corruption rank trading economics dot com

[Chart source: Transparency International via]

Certainly President Duterte campaigned strongly on fighting crime and corruption, so the benchmarks should show an expectation of continued improvement. Here’s the proposed set of benchmarks, oriented around a starting point of 95. We need to acknowledge that the lower the performance score, the harder it becomes to eke out improvements against other countries that are also seeking improvement. A 10 point gain is a challenge.

  • Outstanding: 7 point annual improvement
  • Excellent: 5 point annual improvement
  • Expected: 3 point annual improvement
  • Weak: 3 point annual degradation
  • Failure: 5 point annual degradation

(9) Federalism/Constitution re-write

The matter of federalism is so profound and undefined at the moment that it is difficult to establish benchmarks. Getting there requires a broad consensus as to structure and powers, a re-write of the constitution, approval and early implementation steps. Opening a constitutional re-write places the nation at risk of political gameplaying and power-mongering. So advocates for federalism have to take the nation, not through a minefield, but a through a bomb field with a nuke or two buried somewhere along the way.

The best we can do with benchmarks is project a non-disruptive engagement, no matter the end product. Here are the outcomes possible anytime within the next six years:

  • Outstanding: constitutional democratic framework remains sound; no disruption of the nation’s political or economic foundations
  • Excellent: constitutional democratic framework remains sound; no economic disruption but mild political disruption
  • Expected: constitutional democratic framework remains sound; mild political and economic disruption
  • Weak: the constitutional democratic framework is challenged; considerable political and economic disruption
  • Failure: constitutional democratic framework is weakened or overthown; severe political and economic disruption


189 Responses to “Benchmarking the Duterte presidency”
  1. We will see how the Duterte administration finalizes it’s plans and goals… and then I guess every year it will be possible to measure them. The Filipino people as the “boss” of the President can of course check goal achievement, like bosses in modern companies do. Quantitive and qualitative.

    • Joe America says:

      Checking quantitative progress seems like a management weakness for those who pretend (word chosen with intent) to be bosses. Mostly, it is all qualitative. NEDA set forth a very detailed plan back in 2011 and the only people referencing it were Admin people. The only time I recall it being in the news was when President Aquino agreed that his admin was falling behind poverty goals. They adjusted to pump more money into that area.

      Furthermore, some areas such as peace are generally not quantified, whereas I think they can be on an “accomplishment basis” as outlined in this article.

      Finally, the purpose of the article is to make clear to the new Admin that at least some of us will be checking on the progress against measurable expectations. Hopefully, the new plan will emphasize these kinds of metrics and indeed will represent their willingness to be held accountable.

      • andy ibay says:

        somebody should whisper to Presdu30 ears the need to order all media reporters to undergo training on basic economics, that newspapers should at least have weekly sections on the status of the economy. Please critic this statement because the media is a quality mirror of the peoples’ character.

  2. chempo says:

    Good idea Joe, but 6 years wait,,,sigh.
    On infrastructure, there is always an overlap effect because of the long term nature of projects. Lots of Pnoy admin projects carried into the next admin, as well as some projects that are ongoing planing stage with earmarked funds.

    • Joe America says:

      I believe the SC DAP ruling constrains the new admin’s ability to cut and spend elsewhere right away. So they have to make a tough decision. Cut and risk a sag in GDP growth or keep with the programs and do add-on spending, for 2017 and following years. I think the political hit from a slowdown in GDP would be huge.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Let us see what secretary Villar is made of.At least he knows coordination with DOTC and MMDA and its equivalent in other regions is a must.
    As to the a certain percentage of GDP dedicated to infrastructure,let us see what DBM proposes in 2017.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Crime reduction campaign is affecting the performance of Mayor’s in Cebu and Batangas, through its reward for killing criminals and walk of shame.
    The commission of human rights can only reprimand and recommend actions.
    What a toothless commission.
    Are we going to see more of these?Many people think Duterte won because of his anti crime campaign.

    • Theoretically Osmena is an instigating a crime – murder. Isn’t that in the present Penal Code? It is in my view the same as hiring tandem riders for a “job” or is that NOT a crime in the Philippines? It is proven by interviews. Where are human rights lawyers to file a case?

    • Joe America says:

      The goals are crossing, crime reduction and improving human rights performance. PE Duterte seems willing to take the HR hit.

    • uht says:

      One reason the CHR is toothless as it is is because the people don’t want it to be. An opinion I’ve heard of the CHR in certain circles is that it is viewed as just meddling in other people’s affairs—“mga pakialamero”, if you will. “It is not the CHR’s business if people drop dead on the streets or walk the walk of shame because of petty crimes—they did crime, they deserve it, that’s just how they discipline offenders.” That’s how some people think. Due process is a mere afterthought due to how slow it proceeds.

      I do not mean to generalize everyone, and certainly the majority of the Society don’t think this way. But that’s how some people think, and there are certainly many of them.

      • Joe America says:

        Yes, the view of most is not “global”, it is “barrio”. It is not even national, which is why no pride attaches to the PH being among the rising stars of Asia. It is a very self-contained view, and a place where PE Duterte walks comfortably.

        • To put it in a corporate setting, PE Duterte is like a country manager from a “difficult” country in an international corporation, used to workarounds, now promoted to CEO.

          Many people relate to him better because they have a certain local view of things he has. While he (hopefully, this is ever hopeful Irineo who has seen the possibilities in every situation and usually has made something out of it) might learn something about the more archipelagic view from his island view up to now, he MIGHT be just the right person to be able to communicate that to the many islanders and barangay natives in their “language”. Those who had the “helicopter” view and occassionally landed in islands could not do it…

          • Joe America says:

            Yes. Agree. If he does not go power mad, give away islands and oil to that big hog China, or offend allies on human rights and other rather diplomatic initiatives, then he might be able to harness this undisciplined nation.

            • purple says:

              Discipline comes from empathy. Not controlling people who disagree with you.

            • purple says:

              Duterte’s two views on crime – forgiveness for the powerful, and brutality for the poor, are just furthering the corrupt mindset of the country. His ring will be above the law, and probably the most corrupt in post 1986 Philippine history.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, excellent points. Discipline comes from empathy in the sense that we recognize that our acts don’t take place without affecting others, and once we understand that, assuming we have an ounce of compassion, we will put our own behaviors into a model that cares for both us and others.

                Your forecast mirrors my apprehensions sparked by reading an article in the Inquirer today that cites the death squad initiatives in Davao are still working, and are spreading to other cities. The police and NBI have failed to do anything about it, and the expectation is, that with PE Duterte in charge of these forces, even less will be done in the future.

              • LG says:

                Sad to note, Davao anti- crimes style is trendng in other cities, like Cebu, Tanauan? Other cities could follow suit and in 3 years, quasi Duterte candidates can replace Mayors/Governors who are not.

              • LG says:

                I already sense that, with Duterte, due process applies only to the rich and powerful (pardon offer to Arroyo and maybe Binay if indicted, for lack of evidence) and shoot to kill for mere suspects of drug-related crimes of the poor. What would he do with drug lord magnates who can afford a Estelito Mendoza or his likes?

      • andy ibay says:

        there’s really something crooked in the situation if the rich, powerful crooks and politicians are shamed and paraded in the streets, or they are liquidated by vigilantes. There might be a “trickle” down effect to the downtrodden petty criminals because if it can happen to congressmen, mayors, and senators, how much more for them small frys.

  5. chempo says:

    Refering to Joe’s Note form the Editor

    If…”PE Duterte’s abrasive outspoken way ………. if applied to walls that are untouchable by polite means, he may just be able to break through for good”

    In that respect, it bears resemblance to Lee Kuan Yew. The dering-do to propose initiatives that are politically incorrect, something that most people would agree to reasons but dared not talk about. I fully support the 3-child policy, but need to see his implementation. Dont do like China where the 1-child policy cause infanticide of females as families prefer a male off-spring. Do it like Singapore, using incentives and other means of motivations.

    I see this as a strength in him. If he use his strong man persona to good use, he just might achieve where lots of ex-presidents fail. Like if a Secretary ask for a file, everyone in the office runs to look for it, If Duterte ask for a file, everyone, including the Secretaries, run for it. Bring discipline to the fore. This was the Lee Kuan Yew aura. Any task that he delegates out, you can bet the underlings put in 200% effort. Lee had no time for mediocrity and he highly appreciated high performance. The way he put it, if he pushes into gear 4, he expect gear 4 performance. I hope Duterte will be like that. Focus on performance and slap all those who pander to what my previous American boss called “Cinderalla stories” — the bitching and office politics at high levels.

    His Family-planning, tame the BOC, BIR part — so far so good. His hero’s burial for Marcos — not good.

    • This is one of the things I saw quite favorably when it comes to Duterte – those who “know” me from the older postings know that I supported him first, then turned around when I saw the more dangerous possible aspects and learned about the positives of Roxas etc.

      Anyway, I read somewhere that he placed a deadline to people in Davao City hall to serve citizens within 3 days – if they don’t citizens can complain directly to him. Maybe those who are pro-Duterte and from Davao can flesh this out, or those who know the contrary??

      In my latest blog article, I did mention that the Filipino mentality for the most part is NOT YET rule-based – it is based on what the respective bossman in a certain territory says – be it the father, the barangay captain, the mayor… no sense of abstraction for many.

      Manong Sonny answered this: “power must cement law from the people if any authoritarian configuration is adopted by a duly elected president. And practice makes perfect, the end result are institutions that soon become the rules on the ground and then it’s like breathing air, effortless… the disjoint must be resisted and repudiated. Rather a continuity between principles learned and practice performed. That’s the virility that leads to virtue of a people!”

      Every group of people had this civilizational transition from personalized authority to abstract values that are lived in practice. My answer to Manong Sonny was: “continuity between principles learned and practice performed” integrating these defines integrity = “doing what is right even when nobody is watching”. and also “institutions that soon become the rules on the ground and then it’s like breathing air, effortless.” much like the way order is lived in all advanced countries…

    • Joe America says:

      Nicely said. Agree. His appointments are heavy on favor over aptitude, it seems, from a distance.

      • “That’s the way we do it, Joe…” or like La Vina (Peter, not Tony, although both are Mindanaoans and might be related) said, Duterte’s appointments are based on whom he can trust and work with – trust I have mentioned is a scarce commodity in the Philippines.

        Aquino also went via whom he could trust, only that his clique happens to have more pros with more background… but even with Aquino there were some less competent persons. Which Philippine President did NOT go by clique? Maybe FVR and Cory, what happened? Because in the Philippines appointing people outside your circle can lead to abuses of trust and mandate… cases like Purisima prove that it can happen even within your circle. Wonder what MRP would say about this, but I am sure it would not be particularly kind. 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, and I’m not being outright critical, as the President Elect has assured us they are not corrupt, and so far it does look like he is achievement oriented. Still. some of the agencies are grind it out important and perhaps not on his hit list because they run smoothly. I guess we will find out how deep some of these functions are. DBM will be an interesting appointment. That’s where all the money passes through. Sec. Abad, the titillating splash of DAP aside, fulfilled this role well, I think.

    • andy ibay says:

      we in this blog can help the incoming president by listing all his promises and categorizing them into the directly or indirectly involved department or government agencies and write the names of his appointees who should be responsible and accountable to carry out the promises. For example fishing by Filipino fishermen in China claimed waters should should make the bureau of fisheries or aquatic resources, the PN and the Coast Guard ACCOUNTABLE. which agency and who will be accountable to investigate and make arrest on the laglag bala extortion activities in the airports? Who is accountable for burials in the Libingan ng mga bayani; Who is accountable for dealing with the religious groups, if some bishops need to go to jail who is accountable. When Pres Cory as recorded and I saw on TV visited the site of the School in Cabanatuan which collapse because of the Earthquake, Pres Cory blurted: WHO IS IN -CHARGE HERE? The sec of Defense Fidel Ramos looked very embarrassed and Cory too because there was no answer.

      If such a list is given to the incoming president his appointees are likely to shake in their boots. All appointees now should know what are expected of them as promised by the President including those who are or will be members of the Parole or Pardons Board. before they accept the honor and the measly pay. A prospective appointee said WAIT perhaps knowing what WILL BE EXPECTED OF HIM, and Presdu30 said his offer has just been refused. When you are called by the President to do a job for the people, you don’t say I will think about it because that means no. So no matter and regardless of what the President promised, such promise FALLS on the shoulder and conscience of the appointee to ACCOMPLISH. Let us then make the list under three columns: First column: Promises; second column: involved department/ agency and the third column; NAME OF ACCOUNTABLE APPOINTEE OR OFFICIAL.

      I think the above is a way of helping the President fulfill his promises by insuring the guys he appoints to help him MUST DELIVER.

      • andy ibay says:

        More? These very high cabinet and sub cabinet officials should be raked against the coals instead of the President. Let them speak out to clarify, evade or accept the accountability (put the word responsibility into the septic tank). Let them pass the buck before failure happens. Let them argue with each other during cabinet meetings. So who is in-charge of birth control? who is in charge of employment and under employment? Who’s in charge of the grade 12 curriculum change in high school?

        To help the president we can ask the President what is this agency doing to help him in his promises? What is the President’s promise on envelope journalism? Who is in-charge? The professions and occupations need embarrassing examples. The bishops are on the docks of public opinion, what about the other sacred cows? like ? ? ? Let the people influenced the president to change the glory days of cabinet members into work more on the promises that will take more than six years to accomplish. Let them work their butts red and raw. .

        • andy ibay says:

          LET the new President change traditional deficient approach of clustering departments according to similarity of functions like economic cluster, social dev cluster, national security cluster, very proud to claim the approach is multi-disciplinary (multi departments); that approach is passe’ and can be made more efficient and effective because it is more function-focused than situation or problem-focused.

          Inter department teams at different levels work not as multi-disciplinary but INTER-DISCIPLINARY where efforts are not bounded or restraint by departmental mandates, where team members contribute varied specialized expertize and resources into seamless unified solution to a problem.

          THERE WAS NO INTER-DISCIPLINARY ALERT AND RESCUE TEAM in Tacloban, So Mar Roxas became litson de leche; there was no rail commuters service team so PNoy became the oversize litson. There is salience in differentiating multi-disciplinary from INTER-DISICIPLINARY. CLUSTERS SOUND LIKE FLOWERS.

          • Joe America says:

            Actually, as I noted elsewhere, PE Duterte is using the cluster concept in an ACTIVE decision-making way to surface cabinet secretary appointments. It is a good approach, as it is not practical for him to rely on one or two people to scour the hundreds who need to be vetted and prioritized. The current admin uses the cluster approach to coordinate among units having some, but not total, involvement with an issue. Like on poverty. It is a good way to iron out agreements and speak with one voice.

        • Joe America says:

          Where was this voice when President Aquino was raked over the coals on Mamasapano? The President is in charge of everything, like it or not, skilled at it or not.

      • Joe America says:

        That is the correct discipline, to make sure accountabilities are clear. To some extent, I think PE Duterte understands the impossibility of managing some 30 direct reports, and that is why he organized the cabinet functions into clusters, with one of his trusted sidekicks responsible for dredging up secretary nominations for each. He may decide to manage that way, too. It is difficult for us to make the personal ‘assignment’. And if we take the matter of Human Rights, that person will be given the marching order of “go fishing” while we ignore common conventions and install the death penalty and shoot erring bloggers. We also find that, when there are problems, the responsible party is always the President. He can’t deny that by saying his underlings are accountable any more than President Aquino was able to duck Mamasapano.

      • LG says:

        I support the ‘columns’ noted in the second to the last paragraph. On point, Andy.

        • andy ibay says:

          thank you LG. Like the incoming President said so I heard, he will restore the ROTC. Therefore, who is in charge the Sec of DND or the COS – AFP who will be accountable for restoring or not restoring the ROTC ? Command responsibility is not a sole accountability of the highest commander or the President, it flows down undiminished to all the unit commanders exercising the power of obedience over a number of men. That’s why a squad leader is said to be more powerful than a brigade commander because he has more power over a greater number of men directly under him.

          I am not asking who is accountable in stopping the on-going implementation of RA # 1, the National Defense Act; NOT ASKING TOO who left the country that DEFENSE legacy of the Americans McArthurs, Arthur the father or Douglas the son the general. I won’t also ask because it is so recent in decades who were the lawmaker heroes who voted out of the country the American Geo-Defense Military bases.

          • Joe America says:

            Dynamite comment that “lawmaker heroes” who voted the US out, as if the 11 who voted to keep the US bases were scoundrels and lesser patriots than the 12 who voted for the eviction, over President Aquino’s wishes: Agapito “Butz” Aquino, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona Jr, Sotero Laurel II, Ernesto Maceda Jr, Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr, Rene Saguisag, Jovito Salonga, Wigberto Tañada, Victor Ziga, and Juan Ponce Enrile.

            I would also ask you if you are an American citizen, and what this means to you in terms of supporting your nation’s international policies, over those of the Philippines. It is rather a sore topic here, given the questionable allegiance of one Senator Poe, and her understanding of the oaths of office she found easy to abandon. If push came to shove, do you support the US or the Philippines? It is an important question, I think, and one that PE Duterte will I hope think about rather than go with his “gut”.

            I don’t like that remark at all, that heroes insult to those who believed and believe that it is the US who today keeps the Philippine free by simply hanging around.

            Ir raises the question of how PE Duterte unifies a nation if it is so easily divided into true patriots (heroes) and scoundrels.

            • Joe America says:

              You caused me to dredge through history of 1991 and I found the following New York Times article which explains the tensions of that time, and the focal point of the 12 senators, which was breaking from the reputation of the Philippines being a lackey of the US, or sovereignty and national pride. The question is, has sovereignty and national pride been enhanced during the 25 years since the US left? Economic benefit and defense of the Philippines were not major arguments; there were no impending threats at the time. I am hard pressed to see that the Philippines has spent the 25 years developing any kind of unity or pride or the kind of sovereignty that is defensible, or that would have kept China out of Philippine seas.


              • andy ibay says:

                I emphatised with PM Margaret Thatcher when she mocked critics to say they are fools, there is no such thing as society; now I venture to say there are no such things lackey. sovereignty and national pride, not in physical terms, they are emotions and feelings that do not exist in the concrete and the physical world. Food and drink are physical enough to nourish the physical body; ” Principles? You can not eat principles. Typhoons, they are destructive let us outlaw the typhoons” these are gems and jewels of the mind from our Congressmen when I was young.

              • andy ibay says:

                I need a better definition to its smallest atom of a lackey or a puppet country before I believe that Philippines in one moment or instant became a lackey of USA. UK has lots of colonies which upon independence became members of the Commonwealth or a Republic and which have become lackeys of UK like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and India. It is not easy to conclude that one is a lackey unless one thinks and behaves rightly so. Filipinos have values of gratitude without being servile, have values of SIR (smooth interpersonal realtions) to be perhaps world’s friendliest people. Filipinos have hiya (shame) values that avoid being dependents or parasites. Those values are all at work in dealing with America and other countries and even with China or Russia (ask their Ambassadors). Now pray tell me where in hell that lackey word or puppet of America came from. Filipinos will progress or go hungry with or without America and they only have themselves to praise or BLAME.

              • LG says:

                From my narrow, personal perspective and experience (as an average citizen till my mid 20s, then home only as a balikbayan for several years till fairly recent retirement here) the Philippnes was way more ‘livable’ when the American bases were here (Angeles City is my neighbor town) than it looks and feels now. It may not have to do with Visible American Presence, but a lot to do with how the mother country had and has been governed over the years. We have not been so fortunate with our past presidencies. Till the outgoing one. Imagine if the outgoing prez is or was not human enough to have made the ‘mistakes’ he is accused of!

              • Joe America says:

                Ask newly crowned Senator Gordon about US bases. Mr. Olongapo loves ’em, because he knows his city thrived when the troops were here and died when they left. It seems to me that PE Duterte has made more mistakes in two weeks than did Pres. Aquino in a six-year term, but no one complains about burps, belches and farts during the honeymoon.

              • LG says:

                Yes, I agree, only after the honeymoon, do those personal dislikes in others are ignored, or perhaps even lovingly joked about. Serve the divorce papers already? Ha ha ha.

              • LG says:

                I know, Dick loves ’em. And so does/did my relatives who live there.

            • andy ibay says:

              if you think my comment on the bases heroes is dynamite, I think your comment hit me like the successful fusion of the atom by Teller in the Manhattan Project. I will answer and try to explain may be in a circumlocutory way.

              When a Zakaria wrote something I thought way off critical of Pres. George W. Bush about Iraq I wrote Time Magazine which wrote back they don’t answer comments on the works of their staff. MY POINT which may not be known to the POTUS himself is that there is a need to a establish a BEACHEAD at the doorstep of Iran even at a great cost to the US. The current POTUS emptied that beachhead of its might.

              I mulled over many times the use of the word heroes because one of the senators who voted for it was a seatmate (not only classmate) in Grade four in 1948. Another senator turned president was in the next room when I was Grade six. So why should I be sarcastic about the issue. In Grade Six I learned the importance of the strategic location of the Philippines, mere dots in the world map but may hold the sway on tor world politics. The Philippines could at any time in history be the tinderbox.

              At my age now approaching the void of devoid of self interest, I thought I have crossed my Rubicon. That being a citizen of ideas that is kind to mankind is something above any countries’ citizenship. I am not worried though about the current geopolitical power play. It seems funny to me why POTUS Obama amputated the US beachhead in the middle east and flew to Vietnam to give prosthetics to its military. Vietnam by the way is the only Asian country that shamed and brought two world power to its knees in Dien Bien Phu and in Hanoi or Saigon. It seems weird to think I could write like a citizen of the world, of middle earth.

              I am thinking of the idea that IMMIGRATION from the third world is the emergent new COLONIALIZATION of the first world. Only a world war could halt that. In subsequent posts I will try to answer all the issues you raised.

              • andy ibay says:

                Repeat to correct the typhos: In Grade Six I learned the importance of the strategic location of the Philippines, mere dots in the world map but may hold sway on the ground tor world politics. The Philippines could at any time in history be the tinderbox.

              • Joe America says:

                I think the west is being colonized by angry people who have not yet discerned the importance of sacrifice and moderation in what they publish so readily on line, as if some chat room remark ought to form the policy foundation of a nation. The world is indeed smaller these days, and angrier, and I think there may be something to that Chinese formula of controlling what people think, because when they think on their own, they demonstrate little circumspection or compassion.

                If your classmates and colleagues were among the 12 who voted FOR sovereignty, they may indeed have been courageous, for that does not diminish anyone and suggests they were willing to put the nation where their votes were. The question I would have is, why did they not follow up to develop that sovereignty and pride they spoke so eloquently and angrily about in 1991. For myself, I’d say a nation is psychologically as healthy as its leaders, and if its leaders don’t really WANT sovereignty, but power, then the PEOPLE will not ever get sovereignty. I’m not convinced the 12 were courageous. They may even have been needy. If they were courageous, they would have followed the vote with determined action to build a nation of unity and pride, with no tolerance for corruption and impunity.

            • LG says:

              No nation, regardless of development status, can live alone within its borders. International relations exist for mutual benefits.

              • Joe America says:

                Yep. The idea that the PH can not be influenced by the US strikes me as la la lunacy. There are 3.5 million Filipinos living in the US. And 1,200 in China (excluding Hong Kong). The flows of commerce in and out of the US are HUGE, and the PH thinks it can plug into the good stuff without dealing with the bad???? Duh! 🙂

              • LG says:

                It has been a borderless planet. Only airports and passports, fake or not, tell it is not. And then again, there are those who sneak in without the use of either.

          • andy ibay says:

            The rope inevitably attached to a new administration are the old purported to be new and better approaches to replace the old ones. I say it is more about STRUCTURE and less of functions. Functions of governance mostly remain the same, but structures melds to suit new desire, new objectives. Tenable comments on new approaches necessarily but not absolutely must have referents or basis to have some value to readers.

            For the new approaches If I may, I have in mind the German Max Weber’s (pronounced beaver) classic treatise on BUREAUCRACY, which may explain red tape and cumbersome procedures, followed by Alvin Toffler’s Adhocracy to speed up government operations. The military have used task forces which the Police had unabashedly copied to solve crimes or hide corruption. Since the time of General Pershing as Peace and Order Commander in Mindanao, our Muslim brothers kind of organizations have defied for centuries national control. In the world arena, nobody yet has written and dissected the ISIL or DAESH organizational structure and the strategy they are using to establish a world Caliphate.

            The point being attempted here is, it is good for analysis the conjecture that PNoy and Duterte will have different styles in using structures whether big departments or small committees. These organization units can be the presidential implementors or enforcers; sounding boards or echo boards, think tanks or rubber stamps, or builders or flock of sheep. How these structures are used by the President influences the outputs and outcomes of any new administration.

            • Joe America says:

              That seems to say that anything is good as long as it works, which I agree with, which is why the whole point of the exercise of establishing benchmarks is to get away from the exercise of politics and the biases and judgments they entail and focus on results. Clusters are neither good or bad. They are rational techniques. It is the problem I have with another of your comments, the ascribing of value judgments to people who undertook one act to separate them from those who took a different act (voting on US bases). What were the results, and are they what was expected or wanted? This exercise seeks to find unity by agreeing on the outcomes before hand. Then we can let the people in charge do what they will, within the law, and judge them on their ability to meet the benchmarks. Not throw words around aimed to paint people as good or bad just by the exercise of throwing words around.

              • andy ibay says:

                Thanks Joe Am, I thought and will be trying to be more objective, less subjective, highly impersonal and avoid intruding into the comfort zone of readers. Like saying clusters being less effective as problem solving technqjue than the team approach, multi-disciplinary less focused and result oriented than the more scientific inter-disciplinary approach. Being geriatric I like to be less pikon (more tolerant of opposing or different opinons

  6. NHerrera says:

    Chempo, Joe:

    If RH is made effective especially with additional budgetary funds; BOC BIR and Telecom services improved — those sectors will get the needed boost. Very strong words against the Catholic Church, but I believe a touch of reality especially the separation of church and state is something the church needs. And only the PE can deliver that broadside.

    • In fact even Carlos Celdran, who usually does not like Duterte, was happy about the broadside against the Church. Well, knowing Carlos Celdran’s previous history…

    • Joe America says:

      I was impressed with his putting three-child on the table. Like wham, bam, the nation needs this. I agree with Chempo, that how it is implemented is key. It is a bit of a head scratcher as to what the punishments might be. Also, we have to be concerned about development of a new industry of fly-by-night abortionists.

      • madlanglupa says:

        > Also, we have to be concerned about development of a new industry of fly-by-night abortionists.

        It is. Take, for example, China’s “one-child” policy, which has created a gray market for greedy bureaucrats selling what sounds to be special licenses for couples with more than one child.

        • Duterte has recommended that haters and bashers don’t have ANY children… 🙂

        • bill in oz says:

          Prevention is better…Providing good easy to understand contraceptive advice etc. will minimise this. Australia since the 1970’s has allowed women the right to choose whether to have a child -despite the extremist efforts of right to life groups.This is an issue that men should leave individual women to decide instead of being bossy and telling them what to do.

          • LG says:

            Unfortunately, some, if not a majority of Filipino women don’t think independently of their reproductive rights. Whether married or common law, ” Ayaw kasi ng mister ko”, is a common response to why they don’t use contraceptives. The Church is rarely given as the excuse.

            • sonny says:

              “The Church is rarely given as the excuse.”

              This should put to rest the canard “… the powerful Catholic Church.”

              • LG says:

                It should. Looks as though the Church does not know its flock. They should survey, some time churchgoers about number of kids in the family, belief and practices in family planning, if any. Many natural born Catholics but not as many Catholics in practice.

              • sonny says:

                The natural paradigm is: baptism, catechesis, catechesis w/practice of the sacramental life. The telling statistic: 1 priest for every 44,000 parishioners, last time I looked.

              • bill in oz says:

                Sonny this implies that the church is not a significant force in poorer Filipinos lives. Tha tis belied by the total gridlock on Quezon Bvld every Friday because of the Black Nazarene Church services happening then.
                Another thought : if the church is not significant in forming the mental, emotional moral landscape of Filipinos, what is it’s role ? Certainly the church is rich, not poor. And it get’s it’s wealth mainly from the rich. So as an institution is it a way of maintaining the status quo and so preserving the position & wealth of the rich here in Philippines. This is a question, not an assertion. I do not know.

        • chempo says:

          @ Joe — “fly-by-night abortionists”

          The approach to population control must be “keep your legs crossed”, not “keep your fingers crossed”.

          • Joe America says:

            I think it is to provide contraceptives and end the social stigma attached to them by the Catholic Church. There needs to be a dignity attached to personal family decisions that recognize there is a quality that also ought to be attached to life.

      • Ben Zayb says:

        Well–one big positive sign is his choice for NEDA. At best it could mean not only a prioritization of population control programs–but a deep strategic integration of these programs at the highest levels of economic policy.

        “Pernia specializes in demographic economics, and has been one of the staunch supporters of the implementation of the reproductive-health law.”

        “His other research interests include development economics and human-resource economics.”

        This is honestly the most surprising pick yet.

        • Joe America says:

          Thanks for the brief. It is a very important appointment. Rather the creative engine of Executive.

        • NHerrera says:

          Also, if I am not mistaken, Pernia had a stint as consultant at the Asian Development Bank, thus, he possesses a good regional-international perspective.

        • caliphman says:

          Probably the most qualified and rare technocrat selection in his cabinet so far. If poverty and more equitable income distribution is a priority for the Duterte administration, then his reputation and experience as a development economist makes him a good successor as Cayetano Paderanga as head of NEDA. It is important to note that Pernia is an advocate of and an early Duterte advisor on federalism and social justice. That should lend some confidence that both initiatives of his regime will be implemented but not be at the expense of the continued growth of the national economy.

        • LG says:

          Yes, and I love less known technocrats (like Dr. Pernia), with remarkable and substantive resumes, being tapped to spare 6 years of their prime for the public good,

      • karlgarcia says:

        Usually RH is DOH concern, but with situations like cutting the budget,NEDA should be involved.

      • purple says:

        It’s a bogus issue given the huge human rights violations involved. Forced abortions.

        Philippine birth rates are already plummeting. And young demographics is one of the reasons the country is growing at 5% a year.

        In 20 years, people will be complaining about not enough babies, like Korea or Japan or China.

    • chempo says:

      @ NHerera

      It requires him to come out strong on 3 child policy.
      But there is no need to rebuke or come out so strong on the Church. I think one thing Duterte could improve on is to learn to apply English humour when he rebukes someone. There is no need for the “F” word, some wry humour could be as cutting as any foul words.

      • NHerrera says:

        I agree the “F” word is much too strong to use on the church. I love English humor. But Pacquiao may have difficulty understanding. He needs to have an English Humor Consultant. Care to apply, chempo?

      • Joe America says:

        I disagree. As long as the Church is piling guilt on people for choosing contraceptives, then they need to be condemned. It is the core of the problem. Respect for the dignity of common people who choose what rich people already have, without condemnation . . . a choice.

        • Joe America says:

          There is no need for the F word.

          • NHerrera says:

            That is the point isn’t it. The Catholic Church must have an IQ of 50 or less not to know that the rich who gives big donations to the Church practice birth control, but it aims its crusade against the poor folks who cannot afford what the rich can afford. In this respect I support the PE (less the F word). Besides the RH Act has been passed.

            • Joe America says:

              Remember the grief that President Aquino received from the Church on RH? Intense. I’ll probably have to do a blog to sort through how that hostility laid the groundwork for PE Duterte.

              • LG says:

                Classes A, B and some C need no child limit policy. Most have been practicing such policy, self-imposed. Much, I think, has do with getting and keeping reliable and trustworthy yayas and help to clean after the kids. D and E classes typically require no such domestic helpers. The older kids yaya the young and help with chores. School is second, third fiddle. It’s a cycle, generational. So sad. How do you reform such perspective? Is it cultural? The Pope wants Catholics to “respect the culture of the poor”.

        • chempo says:

          I absolutely agree with you Joe for the need to come on strong. But strong does’nt mean in terms of verbiage. It is more important the message reach the flock, rather than a direct bishop bashing. There are other ways to achieve this, but this is not the blog to go into the details.

      • purple says:

        He’s 71 years old. He’s not going to change.

  7. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    Numbers game at the New Senate

    Liberal Party

    1 Bam Aquino
    2 Franklin Drilon
    3 Kiko Pangilinan
    4 Joel Villanueva
    5 Ralph Recto
    6 Leila de Lima


    7 Grace Poe
    8 Chiz Escudero
    9 Panfilo Lacson
    10 Migz Zubiri
    11 Dick Gordon

    United Nationalist Alliance

    12 Nancy Binay,
    13 Gringo Honasan,
    14 Manny Pacquiao
    15 JV Ejercito

    Nacionalista Party

    16 Alan Cayetano
    17 Antonio Trillanes IV
    18 Cynthia Villar

    National People’s Coalition

    19 Tito Sotto
    20 Sherwin Gatchalian
    21 Loren Legarda

    PDP Laban

    22 Koko Pimentel


    23 Risa Hontiveros


    24 Sonny Angara

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the detail. I had not realized that Sen. Marcos is at the end of his term, and so is out of a job if the results favor Leni Robredo. It looks like there are three main parties, LP, UNA, and Nacionalista, with other parties and senators attaching as they see benefit.

    • karlgarcia says:

      In the house there have been many defections,let us see how Pimentel wins the Senate presidency while being the lone PDP-Laban senator for now.

      Tito Sotto has three votes if he votes for himself and his party mates would not defect.

      • NHerrera says:

        No wonder Sotto was perceptive enough as a veteran politician to say, in effect, when Pimentel, Cayetano names were floated as possible Senate President — “Hold on.” He himself is interested in the post. It depends on how the wind blows and how the Musical Chairs called Senate Coalition is formed. How about Manny Pacquiao? 🙂

    • LG says:

      What’s the score in Congress? Anyone knows? Just total numbers per party.

  8. LG says:

    Grear post, Joe. As outlined, the benchmarks are general enough to serve as guidelines and/or tips for the incoming administration to consider as input. Specifics (measurable outcomes with their respective time tables) are for concerned national agencies/departments to draw, record and report as part of the President’s Annual SONA. I support Andy Ibay’s post above that somebody ought to whisper in PE’s ear to have its projects/accomplishments reported in special sections of the daily papers, at least monthly as FYI and for critique.

    • Joe America says:

      Two good management disciplines. Metrics establishing measurable goals, or how else do we know where we are going and where to adjust? And letting people know of the good works and successes.

  9. karlgarcia says:

    The DOJ has many marching orders.


    and about replacing jail guards.


  10. karlgarcia says:

    Duterte has been reading Micha, he will abolish BIR and just print money.

    • Joe America says:

      🙂 There ya go . . .

      • LG says:

        How are taxes collected in other countries? Being dual, am quite familiar with the IRS of the US.

        • Joe America says:

          I’ve not really studied the PH tax collection methods, but my belief it is rather loose or lax. The whole matter of property taxes is a laugher, as people intentionally, with lawyer advice, mis-declare the value of their property, and as properties are never fully valued because to do so would cost the mayor his next election. VAT is systematically applied. I think income taxes are another laugher, as professionals go “cash basis”.

          • LG says:

            Yes, as in the US, income made through self employment in the Philippines is tough to tax. Plenty creative ways to claim tax deduction/exemption. Thus, I wonder, what other means, besides tax collection, there are for government to collect funds (‘payment’ from its citizens for its services. Privatize all service-oriented departments? No use, no pay.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, that is what motivates PE Duterte to want to privatize the troubled agencies. I think automation will play a role in better taxing disciplines (land titling and taxation) and tossing out the bank secrecy laws so that the flow of illicit money can be tracked.

              • LG says:

                It’s so complex, this idea of presidency, even just being a local town mayor, It boggles my mind why so many wants an elected executive job for measly pay if they are earnest and honest about their mission to serve. Thankless job.

    • chempo says:

      I know BOC and LTO are filthily corrupt, BIR offers great opportnities for the lower level staffers to skim something off for themselves, but I have not heard of big time scams.

      I applaud Duterte on fingering BOC and LTO. Now let’s see what his admin can do.

      For BIR I think it’s probably difficult to flush out the corrupt employees.

      • LG says:

        Corrupt employees allegedly abound in municipal BIR offices. Likely really tough to toss them out just like that without evidence.

  11. NHerrera says:

    Joe, you have just made a headstart on Winnie Monsod. She is fond of coming out with her benchmarking articles at her Inquirer Opinion column. Bet you 1 San Mig she will come out with one before one year is over. Your benchmark is wide in scope though. She tends to focus on the economy.

    • Joe America says:

      We bloggers are multi-dimensional, able to think our way around corners and over tall buildings faster than a jet plane or speeding bullet.

      • NHerrera says:

        Yeh, like SuperDu30.

        Oh, oh I can sense @Mary posting soon after getting off work — showing disappointment at poor me. Far from being a complete convert yet for info. But credit where credit is due seems to be one of the courtesies TSH values.

        • Joe America says:

          Hey, I admire poor you, able to sort the deeds objectively. I suppose it is an exercise in compartmentalizing. Putting the bad language and behavior into one bucket which is left to the side whilst considering the pros and cons of the other deeds. Those get put into four buckets, the wild and bad thinking (e.g. commies in the cabinet), the wild and good thinking (three child policy), the normal continuation of the responsible part of the national government (economy), and the unknown (China/US).

  12. Vicara says:

    Would suggest adding a human rights benchmark that needed no monitoring during the Aquino administration: freedom of expression.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, yes, very good. You are anticipating that free expression may be curtailed, and I agree, that would be consistent with the behavior of his supporters during and after the campaign. Threats and intimidations, and even the kind of brainwashing that comes from lies being spread (the Pope endorsing Duterte).

  13. bill in oz says:

    Joe, I may have missed i but I see nothing in your benchmarks about tax reform. The current tax code, was last amended in 1997. More important personal tax rates have been left untouched for nearly two decades, resulting in extremely high tax rates for lower middle-income earners.

    I remember reading that Aquino was proud of the surplus funds raised by taxes.But it seems that these extra tax revenues were raised by heavy taxation of salary earners.

    I suspect that explains the anger against the current government & electoral support for Duterte noted by Nhererra in classes abc of the electorate. , Meanwhile in an interview by a local tax group, he has vowed to adjust the income brackets in 180 days.

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t know if taxes were a factor among the abc classes; the survey results might cite this. Transportation clearly was. Jobs and people’s ability to buy cars and condos was evidently not. Tax policy and many, many other projects would be subordinate to the stated benchmarks. Economic growth depends on good fiscal policy, and the fight against corruption might influence tax payment rates. There are many, many such projects that are important, land use, anti-dynasty, maybe divorce, BBL, who knows what. The purpose of the benchmarks is not to document the entire plan, but the highline measures that will allow us to judge the performance of the new administration. I suspect NEDA will document some of the specific goals in their planning work.

      • caliphman says:

        Its the poor and near poor and not the ABC classes that swept Duterte into Malacanang and they did so because they felt left out and still impoverished despite the surging national economy. Since D and E classes represent 70 to 80% of the electorate, their clamor for change has to do with income and wealth redistribution and tax reform to ease theiir desperate plight has to be monitored and benchmarked in order to make much sense. Lets consider taxation of those who are at the poverty line or lower income levels. Thats 10 thousand pesos or 200 dollars. The income tax rate alone on that is 5% to which must be added 12% on VAT assuming they spend every single cent to pay for food, clothing, and shelter. Whatever income tax is imposed on everyone else which tops out at 32% for those making 500k pesos per year to the super rich oligarchs who do not spend all their income, the current taxation rates for the poor and near poor is simply unconscionable. To ignore the need for tax reform is to miss the one clear message coming out of the election, the bulk of the voters are poor and they want changes that make it easier for them to survive.

        • caliphman says:

          Poverty income level and tax rates are on a per year basis which was not clearly stated above.

          • bill in oz says:

            Thank you Caliphman for this information fill in. Joe I am in Manila. The working/salaried poor are obvious here. I just did some quick calculations. My lady’s annual income from her nursing salary is roughly 180,000 pesos. From this are deducted income tax of roughly 17,000 pesos. = 10.5%. ( A reduced rate because of the kids.). VAT at 12% and the total tax slug per year is 23.5%. And that is on a monthly salary which is to be frank very low in terms of the standard of living it allows.

            No wonder nurses were asking Aquino to approve the Congress Bill to increase nursing salaries to 25,000 pesos. And Aquino has not approved the bill.

            There has been significant inflation over the past 20 years. As salaries & wages have increased that means that many people on very low standards of living are now being taxed at higher rates. In Oz we call it taxation ‘bracket creep’ Tax reform means taking inflation into account.

            Duterte has said he will do this.

            As for the rich with businesses & hgh incomes, there are always opportunities for tax minimisation in Oz just like in the Philippines.

            • You know the number of the bill you are referring to so I can read it?

              The starting salary of a government doctor used to be 25000. FYI.

              Government Compensation is a very tricky problem.

              • karlgarcia says:

                sb 2720

              • karlgarcia says:


              • LG says:

                In Philippine federalism, government MDs would be paid well, I hope, the Singapore way. Singapore supposedly hires and keeps the best to work for government. You must know already that the PM of Singapore has the highest annual salary as Singapore’s head of government compared to the annual salaries of all other heads of government in the world.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes indeed. That is consistent with my conclusion some time ago that government salaries of top people like Henares and the Chief of Police and DOJ secretary should be doubled immediately, then put on a progression that is attractive to top-notch performers. If you pay lousy pay, you get people who are interested in things other than performance on the job. Power, privilege, the right to steal taxpayer money . . . things like that.

              • LG says:

                Instantly doubling the noted model heads’ salaries would have been headlined unfavorably by the tabloid- inspired media and set a jealousy fire among high government officials. It strikes me that the Filipino crab mentality culture does not encourage merit -based increases among its servants. The private sector does, however it takes rather too long to be recognized with due compensation proportionate to the volume of profit one generates for the company.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, I suspect you are right. There are a lot of long term bureaucrat crabs in government service, and any reward to others is a slap in the face to them. That’s why now the annual bonus goes to everyone, even the slugs, and the superstars go overseas.

              • LG says:

                That’s why I am willing to give federalism, the Singapore approach, a chance.

            • LG says:

              The plight of nurses working in the Philippines regarding compensation is truly sad vis a vis the work load they endure. They are unsung heroes for staying and serving.

              • bill in oz says:

                I have the past couple of hours been out on the streets of Quiapo & Binondo. As I walked I realised that the most common occupation to be seen are the security guards outside all major businesses. They are essential. They provide help to me all the time whenever i enter building and with a smile. But the also provide security as evidenced by the guns they all carry.; they prevent thefts & also prevent beggars & street kids from entering and bothering customers.
                But what are they paid ? I googled and discovered that the average monthly salary is just 8000 pesos…less income tax… But how could anyone provide for himself & family on that monthly salary ? My lady found it hard enough on 15,000 pesos a month.

        • Joe America says:

          The point is that a large share of the ABC population voted for PE Duterte. Yes, the poor represent the largest number of votes, but the vote does not represent any kind of income class struggle. It represents a protest over impunity backed by the idea that the Philippines really sucks and we ought to do something about it. At least, that is the view promoted by 4 of 5 presidential candidates. In my neighborhood, people get paid in cash, don’t have social security or health care, and worry more about food, the lottery and cock fights than taxes. I can’t say you are wrong or right about taxes for the salaried, as I’ve seen no data.

          • caliphman says:

            Seen no data? Googling philippine income tax rates, poverty line, income inequality, etc. Reqiures little effort and is very helpful.. A Marxist class struggle, perhaps not but more likely a struggle for survival. If the government pays heed primarily to the richest 10% of the public or ABC voters, then it should not be surprised if after taking care of their interests they still lose at the polls. Its not just a campaign or populist ploy but its a well established fact among international economists that Philippine taxation is not only very taxing for the poor but is quite confiscatory and regressive.

            • Joe America says:

              I haven’t looked for it. Structured ignorance is a part of my criteria for figuring out what to write about and what not to. What economists think about taxes and what people on the ground think about them are two different subjects, approached from two different conceptual planes. If you have resources to cite regarding your conclusion that the poor voted for PE Duterte because of tax burdens, kindly share them, otherwise I’ll conclude it is just your personal opinion, unverified. It does not correlate with my experience on the ground. Crime, drugs, transportation, food, medicine, jobs . . . yes. Taxes . . . no. Or, here’s an idea, rather than jabbing a finger into my various ignorances . . . if taxes are a hot button for you, write a blog, eh? Don’t expect me to be the font of all Filipino knowledge.

              • caliphman says:

                Lol…I am not exactly a font of knowledge either nor are most regulars here. But for those who take the time before they write anything, there’s nothing like google to make them instant experts. I am just about as lazy as anyone and writing a blog takes an enormous amount of time due to the research involved which is why I dont. Please do not get me wrong as I think the benchmark blog is a fine piece of work and well written piece of journalism. It puts the Duterte admin on notice that while they are now running the country, the online public is watching and measuring their progress on several important fronts. No op ed is perfect and I offer the tax reform front as a constructive postpublication comment to complete rather than criticize what you have written. You may or may not agree with it but if its important to you or anyone else, a quick online search can confirm my comments are based on facts and not conjecture. If its not worth the bother, then lets just leave it at as an opinion on an opinion piece.

              • Joe America says:

                I think tax reform goes right along with land use reform as one of the most important needs of the nation in building a respected economy, and properly allocating wealth. I agree with you and Bill that it defines the nation. Right now, the definition is shoddy and corrupt.

              • caliphman says:

                By the way, one would expect of most of the poor including those starving farmers devastated by the drought in Mindanao have a misery index measurable by the growl of their empty stomachs on which they base their ballot choices and not their accountant’s advice that their taxes are too high. Its up to the government and others who are more sophisticated to figure out what must be done to reduce poverty among them Just saying because indeed the ABC classes can be expected to be more sophisticated and articulate on what they want change and progress on unlike the DE public.

              • Joe America says:

                Agree. The mechanisms of allocating wealth in the Philippines clearly favor the favored and stick it to the poor and working stiffs, including nurses.

              • bill in oz says:

                I have the past couple of hours been out on the streets of Quiapo & Binondo. As I walked I realised that the most common occupation to be seen are the security guards outside all major businesses. They are essential. They provide help to me all the time whenever i enter building and with a smile. But the also provide security as evidenced by the guns they all carry.; they prevent thefts & also prevent beggars & street kids from entering and bothering customers.
                But what are they paid ? I googled and discovered that the average monthly salary is just 8000 pesos…less income tax… But how could anyone provide for himself & family on that monthly salary ? My lady found it hard enough on 15,000 pesos a month.

              • chempo says:

                Bill, I think those who carry arms are paid higher than those who don’t.
                Come to think of it, should be reversed — cause danger level is higher for the ones without arms.

    • bill in oz says:

      PS By the way, politicians high taxing Australians leads to the pollies being given a big boot in the backside and the government changing. It seems that Filipinos adopt the same strategy for their polies as well.

    • bill in oz says:

      I just showed this comment to my Filipina lady. It got a big smile of support from her.But maybe nurses are not lower middle class in the Philippines; more skilled working class…certainly the idea of buying a car or even a bigger motor bike is a fantasy to her.

    • LG says:

      I say reform taxation on self-employment/business income. A lot of wage earners have extra income on the side that is not reported/taxed. Review establishments’ business permits vis a vis their current business operations (PhilRem is a lead here). MDs, lawyers, engineers, dentists, etc. their reported income is suspect. Most Filipinos are not used to personally getting or asking for official receipts from such professionals for their services. Only a very few stores, issue computer generated receipts with store business TIN in it. I find that hand-written official receipts are not automatically given, they are only issued on demand. Stores when closed by the BIR because of tax evasion resurface as a different name. It’s a game. I say privatize tax collection. SM can do it😄😄😄

      • karlgarcia says:

        LG,I have played with the idea of a fair tax here along with some other ideas.

        For more on money scan and glance to this article and comments.
        We have a regular commenter here,Micha and on the comments she subscribes to the idea of monetary sovereignty,making taxation a mere bonus,because a monetary sovereign nation can orint money.And I joked that du30 read Micha when he proposed to abolish the collection agencies and just print money instead.

        • caliphman says:

          There are two ways wealth and income inequality can be addressed by government policy, by progressive income taxation based ability to pay and direct government income transfers based on financial need. With all due respect to Micha and other monetary theory advocates, taxes are not just a tool to sop up excess liquidity in an economy with a sovereign currency.

          • bill in oz says:

            Agree entirely Caliphman…And both the strategies ou mention are used for this purpose in other countries

        • LG says:

          Muchas gracias Karl, will read the links.

        • LG says:

          I have read your articles. Informing to a newbie like me on the subject/s. Got a lot to learn to understand about tax science and its practice. Stiff learning curve🙃. Thanks for educating Karl.

          • karlgarcia says:

            I was also learning while doing those articles..There are lots of group learning in the Society,if the articles is not enough,the comments will more than make up for it. Thanks for indulging.

      • SM charges a percentage of the gross sales of all locators. They require tax mapping and employ people to audit spot check their locators.

        I am not familiar with how they handle professional services like medical clinics and dental clinics. Maybe I’d just pretend to be a doctor wanting to rent a clinic in SM.

        I think the real reason private entities have an advantage over their public counterparts would be the myriad protection that government workers have.

        Am not convinced with the compensation issue. SM workers are not better compensated than most of their government counterparts.

        Its about building good systems of checks and a culture that does not tolerate corruption.

  14. NHerrera says:

    Off Topic

    On going Congress (HoR and Senate) Canvassing

    Date Time Marcos Robredo Difference
    5/25 2015 2,823,137 2,627,119 196,018
    5/25 2045 3,051,720 3,237,143 -185,423

    • LG says:

      If I read the lines correctly, Marcos was ahead at 2015, then Leni was at 2045 by 185k plus.

      • NHerrera says:

        Yes. Got the data from Rappler.

        • NHerrera says:

          And by 2130 of 25/5 with 48/165 ballot boxes opened Robredo was ahead by 295,492. Three of the 48 — from Laguna, Ilocos Sur, and Davao del Norte — were not canvassed pending explanations from the Provincial Board of Canvassers. This includes the Marcos vote-rich Ilocos Sur.

          • LG says:

            Thanks NHerrera for indulging me. I had deleted Rappler, MB and PhilStar from my home screen. To cut through the debris n clutter, Google, Twitter and TSH are now my daily news sources. I kept PDI to quickly access Opinions, mainly Randy’s, OFTan’s and Monsod’s.

          • LG says:

            Cliff hanger. Abangan…

  15. chempo says:

    Joe, your metrics idea is excellent. Hope to see your follow up blog in 5 or 6 years time hehe.

    All those interested in your idea might like to look up something called the SOCIAL PROGRESS INDEX. The SPI is like a country’s report card. Their website says :

    “MEASURING NATIONAL PROGRESS – To truly advance social progress, we must learn to measure it, comprehensively and rigorously. The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing.”

    The metrics they work on are very diversified, both quantitive and qualitative.
    Too bad they started data collection not too long ago. We see only 2014 and 2015.
    For those too lazy to look it up, for 2015 Philiipines overall score was 64th (but not all countries have provided data) and in terms of index, Phils is just slighly above the median.

    Check out the link. Plenty of data to look at and sorted in nice ways for you. You can sort and resort yourself. (NHerrera would love this),dim2,dim3

    • chempo says:

      My caveat on the SPI.

      The website is great, the idea is great. great for country comparatives.
      Data is subjective and questionable. Obviously from some manner of localised surveys. and obviously there is a wide difference in perceptions of respondents from country to country. Country comparatives not too good, but a year to year comparative is useful..

    • Joe America says:

      That is an interesting measure, but may be a little hard to grasp. Do fiesta’s count? he he I like the idea of social engineering, and put Duterte’s three-child proposal in this bucket. Philippine society has some deeply ingrained values that I think hurt the nation’s peoples – like looking at ambition as a negative – but it is hard to communicate them to the people who live them. Much less change those values.

      • Ambition – as in wanting to be able to rise in order to lord it above others – is rightly seen as negative in the more positive version of native values. The negative version is what the GRP logo shows – someone waiting for a fruit to fall from the tree to eat it.

        Building a solid existence -“magpundar” – is not seen as negative among the more positive Filipinos, one can see it in migrants everywhere. You have also observed it among many honest simple Filipinos who build small businesses in your area, from foreign money – migrant, seaman or foreign spouse. You always have a combination of values in any people, so reinforce the positive by incentives and minimize the negative by sanctions.

    • NHerrera says:

      Quickly scanned the link. Nice reference.

      Immediate comment: I believe indices showing country “Happiness” in some surveys — admittedly these surveys may not be of the same scientific, comprehensive level as this SPI — show the Philippines as being relatively high. (Laughing and joking around in their miseries?) Hahaha: this is knee-jerk comment and facetious. 🙂

      That link will be instructive to go over and study — for more insights that it may offer.

      Thanks again. Bookmarked it.

    • josephivo says:

      Isn’t the bottom-line happiness, “In the pursuit of happiness…” ?

      • Fools can be happy, in fact they may be the happiest.

        So let us make Filipinos more foolish is the answer?

        Empty their minds, fill their bellies (Chairman Mao)?

      • NHerrera says:

        Yehey —

        World Happines Report 2016:

        – Philippines rank 82, index 5.279
        – China rank 83, index 5.245


        – highest rank 1 Denmark, index 7.526
        – lowest rank 157 Burundi, index 2.905

  16. maru0907 says:

    This great. Thank you for this. I would suggest to add a measure for education, health and global competiveness. Though it can be argued that they are covered with some of the measures, adding them specifically highlights their importance.

    • Joe America says:

      Those are important goals. Education is basic and broad, but only the well connected get the deeper teaching. Health is a huge problem when medical costs are high and people are poor. Global competitiveness is also important to impel efforts to automate, cut red tape, get electricity and broadband services at affordable prices. There is a global index for competitiveness. We’d have to develop some standards for education and health. That would be worth a blog in its own right, and I think I’ll put it on the tote board for a future blog.

      On competitiveness, the PH rose 5 points in the latest ranking and is ranked 47th among 140 nations. The country profile points out clear weaknesses: infrastructure, health, labor market efficiency, and goods market efficiency.

  17. chempo says:

    Saw on TV news last night.

    Quezon city police chief has already prepared the city for Duterte’s plan for curfew for kids. Seems the police chief has issued circular. Seems like action has already been taken on parents with erring kids. Saw some parents in city jail — their “crime”? — their kids were out in the streets after curfew hours. Seems the fine for parents is 2,000 php. One woman was cursing behind bars — “Is this the change we are asking for?”..

    Well…we warned you.

    So many are the questions :
    1. Is there no such thing as “arrestable” and “non-arrestable” offeses in Philippines? I’m sure there are.
    2. Is this an “arrestable” offense then? Says who?
    3. Is police chief the legislator?
    4. Whatever happened to “If the sins of the father cannot visit the son” argument?

    We warned you of “Little Dutertes” sprouting across the land.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] You can opine on the Rappler report card if you wish. I shall merely take the opportunity, two years in, to consider my own benchmarks for success established when the Duterte presidency began, and reported in the article “Benchmarking the Duterte Presidency” […]

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