NEDA: an island of earnest work in a storm of nasty politics

[Photo from Build, Build Build]

By Joe America

It is easy to get caught up in the bickering negativity and competitiveness that is the current political scene in the Philippines. And it is for sure easy to find a lot of turmoil and incompetence in the various government agencies (LTO, Customs, NFA rice, Boracay, passports, PNP as killers rather than protectors). But there is one agency of government that seems to be earnestly trying to build a better Philippines:

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)

The agency is headed by Ernesto M. Pernia with a 10-member NEDA Board that consists mainly of Cabinet officials responsible for finance, economic management, and departments responsible for important infrastructure. Essentially, it is a techno-specific Board.

Secretary Pernia has a long and rich career in economics working and consulting for various universities, the Asian Development Bank, World Trade Organization, and UN agencies. He is more an educator, a technocrat, a writer, an expert. Not a politician. His hiring was done in 10 words:

  • Text from Bong Go: “Are you interested in joining the Cabinet sa NEDA?”
  • Professor Emeritus Pernia: ” Yes.”
  • His appointment was mentioned by President Duterte at a press conference the next day. (ABS-CBN)

I occasionally nag at Secretary Pernia and other officials when they seem to be putting a Duterte-halo on economic risks (interest rates on Chinese loans, export/import trade imbalance and affect of the weak peso) or development (claiming credit for Aquino projects). I suppose some of that is expected of dutiful employees, but I hope they realize that transparency and candor are important values in the management of financial and economic affairs. Investors translate being misled into ultra-high risk.

If the work being done is competent and above board, there is no need to shade anything. If there are flaws, holes, risk, dangers . . .  and these are covered up . . . people will eventually discover the truth. Then it becomes lose, lose.

To some extent, I think President Duterte is an economic event whose erratic policies and cursing of other nations undermine the nation’s economic stability. That is hard for NEDA or anyone to acknowledge. Today it is done with carefully crafted warnings about unknown political risks, or attached to US policies rather than Philippine policies (weak peso). It is like the hidden elephant in the economic room. But I fear that at some point the trampling of economic toes will become more noticeable.

I visited the NEDA web site and found it to be so cluttered with outdated, missing, and irrelevant pages as to be useless. It’s like a painting that was done by splattering big gobs of paint at the canvas, with some of the globs thrown during Aquino days. It is not the crisp, clean, updated representation of a competent agency. Perhaps the Build, Build, Build web site is considered to be the public face of infrastructure development. It is simpler and flashier, showing some of the plans and progress (but none of the problems). It is rather epal in its approach. It even has the President’s picture plastered across the home page, reminding me of the old Arroyo signs on every bridge and highway being built. “Personality” government.

Ridiculous. Misplaced priorities.

Fortunately, Google was able to lead me to what I was looking for, a reasonably current list of development projects that would explain what work is being done, who is providing loans, and the status of the projects.

NEDA Board Approved Projects as of February 2018 (pdf file)

The 40 projects listed are those that have been approved by the NEDA Board out of about 70 that were originally set forth in the Duterte development plan. Others are still being studied. Here are some interesting points:

  • Project 7 is the architecture for development itself. Ways to oversee projects. I suspect it is aimed at speeding up the design and approval process. The slow and tedious implementation of projects is a huge problem, and the Duterte Administration, like all other Administrations before, is finding actual work lags behind original plans due to the pragmatics of design, funding, contract issues, and approvals.
  • All projects combined will cost about 1.2 trillion pesos, with the largest being the Mega Manila Subway (P356B), train lines south out of Manila (P299B) and north to Clark (P211B), NAIA improvement (P74B), bus rapid transit for Manila (P37B), Mindanao railway (P35B) and several P20B+ projects for roads, video surveillance in Manila and Davao, and Manila flood control. Also P16B for bus rapid transit in Cebu. The entire package of big items will materially remake the nation’s key transportation hubs and lines.
  • The Mega Manila subway is targeted for completion in 2027, although it appears that the start date may be experiencing slippage (was to have started 1st quarter this year).
  • Take note of the southbound railway (Project number 25) which has been kicking around since 2015 in preliminary stages. It was originally scheduled for 2019 completion, now 2023, but some of the fundamentals of financing and depot rights of way are still sticking points. Chinese funding is being sought. Chinese contractors will be used.
  • Of the 40 projects, funding is a follows:
    • Local financing: 8 projects, about P59B, largest being Mindanao rail at P35B.
    • Japan (JICA): 8 projects, about P613B, including the Manila subway at P356B and northern railway at P211B.
    • China: 6 projects, about P345B if the southern railway is funded by China at P299B.
    • Asian Development Bank: 4 projects, about P77B.
    • World Bank: 4 projects, about P71B.
    • Other (PPP, Australia, Korea, Germany, etc): 10 projects, about P63B.

As I reviewed this list, I found myself impressed with the diversity of funding, and the discovery that China did not play an inordinately dominant role in infrastructure development. I also think the projects make a good deal of sense, aimed at unplugging central Manila and lengthening the metropolitan region both north and south. It seems to me that NEDA has positive messages to present here, both as to diversity of funding and the overall cohesion of the plan.

It would also seem that the early-on gloating that the Duterte Administration would rush projects into development, and not “do it slow as Aquino did it”, ran headlong into reality. I do think special development authorities are needed, for instance, in securing rights of way, and wonder if it would not be a better use of the Senate’s time to develop some laws that would cut through the delays rather than drone on about dengue vaccines and other investigative matters that simply do not get the nation moving.

I will retain this February 2018 development chart as a benchmark for comparisons going forward. How do costs change with delays? Is China doing more? Are timetables being met?

Furthermore, I would drop off the following suggestions to NEDA:

  1. Clean up the NEDA web site and make it useful. Dump the clutter and outdated exhibits and focus on a few important matters, both economic and developmental.
  2. Be candid. Any other way will be a “gotcha” that will invariably turn around and bite NEDA.
  3. Present the positive messages of diversity of project funding and complete modernization of transportation networks.
  4. I think Chinese projects are flash points if interest rates are excessive and/or Chinese workers supplant Filipino workers. Policies should benefit the Philippines, not punish Filipinos.
  5. Provide links from the development list to more in-depth individual project profiles so that readers can see the details of the projects, such as current status, hurdles and steps to overcome them, funding status, interest rates, and so forth (suggestion from Edgar Lores).
  6. Get the legislature working on fast-tracking national government authorities for right-of-way acquisition and other steps to speed development. Build the best development force in Asia.


153 Responses to “NEDA: an island of earnest work in a storm of nasty politics”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    All are good suggestions.

  2. Nenette Coronel says:

    I agree with you, Joe. All government websites for that matter, should be useful, user friendly, relevant AND transparent. Esp for an agency like NEDA where much needed information re infra and other significant projects with a direct impact on our economy are considered and approved – particularly that the economy is an area which is practically non-existent or insignificant in the proclamations of this government. Your #5 suggestion (which as you said has been proposed by our dear friend Edgar Lores) is highly commendable. Indeed, transparency is key and transparency can only be gleaned with pertinent details as to the status of the projects reported and updated on a regular basis (as in quarterly reporting and may I include local employment generated and photos of the current status of the project as added info they should present). I hope Pernia can read and listen to this article of yours.

  3. josephivo says:

    I would love to see some ratio’s. One on how the population density is increasing in Metro Manila and elsewhere, the amount of new condo’s and offices build. And one on how the infrastructure, especially transport, grows. So many new high-rises the last years in so many different areas and so few new roads.

    Traffic is near to a standstill on most arteries, an extra peak hour a day every year I guess, now getting close to 24hrs traffic jams a day. Often I step out of a taxi to walk the last km’s. It is faster even with all the obstructions cast along your way, poles of every nature in the middle of the pavement, garbage around them, wrongly parked cars, beggars and their families, drains with no cover, broken pavement sticking out, vendors and their stuff, and of course the construction fences of all the new high-rises.

    • Yes, top line metrics would be so helpful, and reflect a competence rarely seen in the Philippines, as your recitation of pedestrian hazards reflects. Excellent suggestions.

    • josephivo says:

      I forgot to mention the more serious pedestrian hazards, the air pollution and the murderous exhausts of some vehicles. While at it, think of the noise pollution too, the blaring music and altered or missing mufflers. And the visual pollution of power and telephone lines above, the posters, new and old, the lack of maintenance in all directions.

      (And then wondering why people want change regardless who promises it. Isn’t the nation in a state of disrepair that democracy can’t function anymore? Change takes time and we need CHANGE NOW!!!)

  4. Slightly OT: was the still official ally making sure D doesn’t return on Chinese Navy ships that stay?

    If ever, D’s attitude has made the Philippines a potential Syria in the sea – very unpleasant.

  5. andrewlim8 says:

    Traditionally, NEDA has been one of the better-staffed agencies along with the likes of Philvolcs and PAGASA. Perhaps the technical nature of the job shields them from political appointees who pretend to be capable; it is one of the few places where credentials matter much, and fortunately for the country, they have it.

    But- as I highlighted in my previous article here (“You Cannot Separate the Political from the Economic: the Return of the Cowardly Technocrats”) all those sterling backgrounds are for naught when it collides with poorly-thought out knee-jerk ideas from the President.

  6. andrewlim8 says:

    Briefly, who are the economists who will sign their names onto these:

    1. Revival of the steel industry (mercifully abandoned by Duterte; pledged in campaign);
    2. Closure of Boracay without any planning;
    3. Land reform for Boracay, which really doesn’t have much land for agri;
    4. Preference for Chinese loans even if the rates are much higher and look dictated by political considerations more than economic.

    Duterte’s land reform for Boracay easily falls into the jetski and Trillanes’ false accounts category – utter nonsense, unless the nefarious objective is for government to gain control of the entire island. The approval of the Chinese casinos were already a done deal and with widespread backlash, something had to be said.

    Can Pernia et al prove to be different from Laya-Virata-Sicat-Alba-Jobo?

    • Will! Yo, Will! Add Sec. Pernia, eh? Not a mandate, haha.

    • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

      Many times a short question like the one
      above need a long meandering answer:

      When searing heat of anger
      Burns the seeds of oppression
      Old men drop their canes
      And walk briskly to remember.

      In the days of Martial Law
      Diliman was like an animal farm
      of pets of local and foreign kind.
      Ibon and birds, paro-paro and butterflies
      Konejo and rabbit, aso and dogs.
      kabayo and horse, pusa and cats,
      leon and lion, tigre and tiger,
      kalabaw and buffaloes,
      tupa and sheep, baboy and pigs.
      kambing and goats, osa and deer,
      pabo and turkey at
      saka monkey o tsonggo.

      Diliman during Martial Law
      was a husbandry of teacher and their
      students like their kind of animal equivalents.

      Because Diliman was no ZOO of Martial Law
      some animals went and left to join the Big Zoo.
      Ticks, Bedbugs and cockroaches, rats and snakes
      bats and vampires Oh “Never So Few” preferred
      THERE YOU GO for a mistaken what is best
      Public service for the animal kingdom.

      Diliman bookworms felt and knew
      that in the big wide Zoo
      hunger takes long to become anger
      thievery takes just moments to become plunder
      mind massaging is really brainwashing,
      masses disappearing is really mass murder.

      So Never Mind if it really
      did take that long for denizens
      of the Diliman farm to prefer for
      and unleashed what is now called

      Not the fierceness of the storm but
      EDSA it was which deliver the coup de grace
      As the whole world watch and listened, later
      To have in their sun drenched deserts
      To create the oasis of their own Arab Spring.

      Yet questions ceaseless beg for answers
      Why the sun rises (sankamap) in the silangan East
      Why kanluran sunsets (sandaun) kill the light of days.
      Why six-shooter packing Gringoes need to go West
      To build America into greatness

      Why west Phil calm seas boil into storms to
      wreck havoc east to west. Why indeed
      is Samar in constant struggle
      while Panay snoozes in serene silence.

      Why it must be asked a bastard of an interregnum
      Invites the coming from an animal farm of may be

  7. Gemino H. Abad says:

    Many thanks, Joe America! will keep this for future reference. I still mistrust China, however, because of her outright violation of the Law of the Sea that she had in fact signed! — China with Xi is an imperialist bully!

    • Yes, we have important benchmarks here.

      The left would do well to discern imperialism (US) versus hegemony (China) and recognize imperialism is a brutal force and hegemony can be checked by the might of intelligence.

  8. tinacuyugan says:

    NEDA has nerdy, conscientious officials and personnel. But then, all those infra projects must pass through the DPWH, which oversees them through to completion. Or non-completion.

    Follow the money.

    • Indeed. Follow the cost increases.

    • karlgarcia says:

      DPWH has a colorful project presentation.
      Just click on the map and you will see the project, its cost and its % of completion.

      • I visited Region VIII to check on the status of the bridges washed out earlier this year and they are not reported. It seems like most of the projects are old from the Aquino years when construction was active. I don’t think the record-keeping is up-to-date or very useful, and again reflects the sloppiness I observed on the NEDA site. I think transparency disciplines have basically gone to hell.

        • karlgarcia says:

          It is an inter-agency matter. (sloppiness,etc.)

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          Once upon a time when my monthly salary was
          one hundred forty-seven pesos (minimum wage
          was four pesos a day) in a little province
          whose lead politician was the Secretary of Public Works,
          people of the opposition (Liberals) were laughing
          telling ignoramus me what they mock as bridge over a bridge.

          True enough before I cross that bridge
          there was another fallen bridge underneath.
          Well, I said engineering marvel could work well
          for provinces not located in the typhoon belt.
          Patti Paige was the Celine Dion of that decade.

  9. Francis says:

    “As I reviewed this list, I found myself impressed with the diversity of funding, and the discovery that China did not play an inordinately dominant role in infrastructure development.”

    I am personally happy to hear this—this is a potential sign that GRP is possibly aiming more towards an genuine independent foreign policy of a “friend-to-all, entangling-alliances-to-none” variety, rather than a mere kow-tow towards China.

    If I can recall correctly, China’s loan and aid programs are questionable due to two main factors:

    1. High Interest Rates
    2. Potential Threats to Strategic Areas of Interest (i.e. Troubling Lease Agreements).

    I don’t have the necessary information to assess #1 and leave that to others. What I can note though, about #1 is the possibility that costs incurred from Chinese loans could balloon if interest rates are high enough.

    A quick scan through the list shows that #2 is a less (except for one instance) a major problem in the PH compared to other countries. Unlike Sri Lanka and Pakistan—China has not “invested” into ports here in the Philippines. Perhaps—the dam projects (as critical water and power infrastructure?) count as a something strategically troubling, but I think that it less strategically worrisome (in the short run, at least) compared to outright leases on ports, for example.

    There is one thing that makes me a bit worried and that is item no. 10 or Phase 1 of the “Safe Philippines Project” which would essentially fund the “construction of communication software and hardware such as a unified and integrated command center and video surveillance system, among others, with Phase 1 covering “seventeen local government units of National Capital Region and Davao City.”

    This is perhaps the most strategically worrying item on the list; given PRC hijinks involving the pro bono AU HQ—which was later revealed to be riddled with surveillance bugs—I am more than a bit worried with China building what will essentially be the surveillance system of our political and economic capital.

  10. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:


    I came to know from the Society of Honor that my? comment was liked in this worthy blog. I could be no stranger here like the others, and here’s why yabang na naman:

    I first saw the original swastika etched in the ruins of a Hindu Temple in India, On a borrowed bike, at sunrise I pedalled many times around Ring Road in New Delhi and saw the airport where Sanjay used to take off his plane; I was overwhelmed with sadness when PM Rajiv was bombed into pieces by a Tamil woman; yes I was there, done that; awed by a sleeping giant in 1977. I felt the muscle and bones of the giant with names like Jaipur and its red palace for concubines, in Agra too I saw an edifice for a concubine only love can build, drank beer at the Officers mess of all India Military Academy in Dehra Dun, was silenced by the unparallel contrast between New and Old Delhi, Lucknow, Muzzorie, Madras; I step down and washed my arms with water of the Ganges right where the Mahatma Mahondas felt the cool waters. I communed with the Administrative class and was gifted with graduate’s pin from the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy. Yes it was nice, more than priceless memory to also have walked Jan Path, haggle for goods at Connaught Square and ogle at foodstuff in Khan Market. That place is a river I can step down only once for the giant is wide awake now. Here in this blog I will not be surprised if I discern once in a while sparkling molecules worthy of a Rabindranath Tagore.

  11. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    Heto naman medio nakakatakot.

    I saw, read posted in the internet many hours ago


    Russian state-owned television is urging the country’s
    residents to stock their bunkers with water and
    basic foodstuffs because Moscow
    could go to war with Washington.

    Palaging naiisip ko, sa tanda ko nang ito
    dapat mahaba na ang pisi ko
    sa nangyayari sa utak malabo
    ng mga lider ng mundo.

    Will they sacrifice billion of lives
    In payment for hundreds killed
    not by bombs but by chemicals ?

    It is good Christian math that a human life
    is so priceless in any kind of strife
    Nay, a life becomes mere microscopic
    when billions are lost by bad arithmetic.

    If alive and in office today
    That postal clerk of a US President
    no snoozer in the noodle oval
    could have ended in no time at all
    that middle east metastasis.

  12. edgar lores says:

    1. Looking at the Approved Projects matrix, I note that the nature of the projects covers a wide range. From airport terminals, flood control, irrigation systems, potable water, roads, and bridges to agricultural development and education pathways.

    2. Of the top 12 projects ranked by cost, 11 are concerned with transportation. I have included the airport terminal and the flood control project in this classification. The odd project out is the one noted by Francis – the Safe Philippines Project (No. 10). By an odd coincidence, it happens to be the 10th most expensive project.

    3. Thus, transportation is the centerpiece of infra development. The moving of people and goods from one place to another. Perhaps this is not surprising. In the popular mind, infra means roads and bridges.

    3.1. I miss though a project about moving people by water, by sea. The country is an archipelago, so this may be a significant omission.

    4. Transportation. To transport has a secondary meaning. It means to enrapture, to “overwhelm someone with a strong emotion, especially joy.”

    4.1. This makes me wonder how much of the national attention and budget is devoted to bringing joy to people.

    4.2. This raises the question: “What brings joy to people in a social setting? More specifically, what social amenities can the government provide?”

    4.3. Looking at the Oz experience, I observe that people love traveling; playing and watching sports; swims at the beach; picnics in the park; eating out; food fairs; entertainment parks; cultural shows; and reading.

    4.4. The amenities for some of these activities fall within private enterprises, like hotels and resorts, restaurants and bistros, and entertainment parks like Dreamworld and Movieworld. But there are some that fall well within the purview of government:

    o Sports venues and stadiums
    o Parks with facilities (the park across the road has a basketball court, a volleyball court, an open gym with exercise machines, picnic benches and huts, coin-operated gas barbecue facilities, and a dog playground).
    o Libraries (the ones here offer the traditional books, digital books, newspapers, magazines, periodicals, but also music CDs, movie/music DVDs, computers, coffee and tea, and special events nights)
    o Sponsoring art events, activities, and contests

    4.5. Personally, I enjoy the parks and the libraries. With reading, one experiences – vicariously, which means safely — the depths of despair, the ennui of moments, and the heights of ecstasy.

    5. Which country measures itself by its gross national happiness rather than its gross domestic product? I reckon they have the right idea. We should endeavor to turn into reality that tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

    • A lot of those projects are smaller and lower cost, and might be elsewhere in development budgets, or as local projects. I think of INC’s “Philippine Arena”. The NEDA list includes the ‘flagship projects’. A lot has been spent that past few years on local basketball courts, covering the barangay courts. I don’t think libraries are much of a priority anywhere, except perhaps at universities in Manila. Parks seem not to be a priority, or rest stops for travelers. Coffee shops and eating places are all over the place, as private initiatives. Government is working to make wifi available in a lot of public places, airports and the like.

      Sea transport is also private as far as I can tell, with ancient cast iron ferries that sink like a rock. There is a port development in Davao, as I recollect. Maybe elsewhere. But I think the priority is correct to be on land transportation, to get Manila unclogged and build some networks in Mindanao and Cebu. The joyful projects ought to be private, I think. Or local.

    • some short answers on the go:

      – Karl, sonny and me discussed water transport in my blog ages ago..

      – in Germany ‘joy’ is either local (libraries, municipal pools, theaters, concert halls, soccer stadiums) or private (bookstores with cafes, sauna complexes worthy of Ancient Rome plus today, private concert venues and party places in abandoned factories or similar etc.)

      – Bhutan is the country you mean. It limits tourists, unlike overrun Nepal. China pressures it from time to time, India projects it from a Tibet fate. Ruled by a king, not yet by a Dalai Lores.

      Water transport is cheaper for non-perishable bulk goods. Germany maximizes its rivers and canals for this. I think there is now a fast ferry for people from MOA to Bataan, 40 minutes??

      • edgar lores says:


      • Sup says:

        I think there is now a fast ferry for people from MOA to Bataan, 40 minutes??

        No need for ferry…you can walk over the basura….. 🙂

      • Malls act as a form of community center. There are library projects. One group has put up over 100 plus libraries mostly in depressed neighborhoods. We need more community places.

        On the ferry yes but the transport on the Bataan side of the ferry makes it not too viable. Instead it is primarily used by resorts as an entry point.

        • That’s true, malls are community centers. For one thing, they are refrigerated, and they are also free . . . although a sampling of my wife’s visits would not certify that as fact. haha

        • karlgarcia says:

          The push cart classroom must be emulated and multiplied.

          Bataan can do business with Calabarzon that is why they are mulling that bridge to Naiv.
          The ferries are are now controlled by 2go/ Nenaco.
          They got the money, they should use it wisely.

      • karlgarcia says:

        We failed to maximize on Roros Importing from China is still cheaper, budget no frills airplane rides is good enough for those who can afford airplane tickets, and the WGA Roro system went bust.
        Will 2Go and Nenaco merger turn things around?

        San Juanico bridge is now just a tourist attraction.
        But as they day build it and they will come.

        • Thanks for the info. The bridge-building will make getting around easier but I’m not sure that is as important as unplugging urban areas. Take Cebu. It is vibrant and congested already. It stands alone quite well. Even Tacloban is developing a congestion problem 5 years after being wiped off the face of the planet. I’d opt for govt operated ferries over 20km bridges. Good subject for debate.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Thanks, and if there will be a new blog about it, I am sure it will be another good read and another good debate.

        • edgar lores says:

          Looks like the Philippines is going the land route rather than the sea route.

          The path would be: Luzon -> Samar -> Leyte -> Mindanao

          The San Juanico Bridge currently straddles Samar and Leyte. It is 2.1-km long.

          The Luzon-Samar bridge will be 18.2-km, and the Leyte-Mindanao bridge (or tunnel) 20-km.

          It would then be possible to traverse north to south, from Aparri to points south — Davao, General Santos, and Zamboanga.

          The article says there are plans to link the Western Visayas islands — Bohol, Cebu, Negros, Guimaras, and Panay. Not in the article is a planned Luzon-Mindoro pontoon bridge. Only Palawan — and possibly Masbate — will be the major island that will remain unconnected.

          When? By 2050? Hmm. Make that 3001. (Unless Mindanao secedes.)

          The Seikan Tunnel, which connects Hokkaido to the Japanese mainland (Honshu) is the world’s longest undersea tunnel. It is 54-km long. Travel is by train and travel time under the sea is 2 hours! And it took 17 years to build.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Also not in the news is the Cavite to Bataan Bridge or tunnel.

            I think Henry Sy taking on Ferries is for logistics.

            I also doubt these get done within the lifetime of the youngest TSOH contributor.

    • josephivo says:

      Just saw life on TV the construction of the new administrative city in Clark, to be ready in June 2020: 30 km of new connection highways, railway station, sports city for the Asian Games with 20,000 capacity stadium, swimming pools etc. and city for the athletes, parallel immense admin buildings and complete new city for civil servants…. 7000 construction workers. Not on the list? Or as individual investments?

      Joy in the Philippines comes natural, but unfortunately there are so many “kill joys”, address those first. See above on how to kill the joy of walking.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I hope the Sports stadium won’t be abandoned like the Beijing Olympic stadium.

        • The only part of the Olympic facilities abandoned in Munich was the suburban train station.. it was superseded by underground stations nearby and abandoned, I recently saw a photo.

          The rest of what was built in 1972 was reused for the Olympic park. The stadium was used for soccer matches for quite a while, then soccer moved to a bigger stadium in the north, the Olympic stadium is now used for all kinds of concerts. In the upper left background you have the so-called “four cylinder building” or BMW headquarters, the flat building beside it is the BMW museum. The big road is the middle ring, the circumferential road that was built around Munich with Olympic Games money – just like the first underground/suburban lines.

          • There is one hall they use for exhibitions – one at the moment has an exhibition with moving real-sized dinosaur models, parents take their kids there – and the old Olympic swimming hall is now a municipal indoor pool, including an inexpensive fitness room.

            If there is anything that can get voters in German cities mad, it is infrastructure that is built and left unused. Could be one reason why towns over here take care of things.

            In Bavaria referenda could also be an additional factor – people can directly influence things.

      • No sidewalks in many places in Manila I gather, much less paths for bikes or motorbikes. Forget biking or motorcycling in Manila without a separate lane – even if I have seen on Top Gear videos of busses careening like drunk, breaking into other lanes. Or also – someone stops at a pedestrian lane, a woman crosses, but someone overtakes the car left and runs over the woman – all recorded on dashcam, hmm. The times I experienced myself there were already bad, but this is much worse. Of course it is a different thing to walk in Manila than to walk in the cool climates of Europe. It is not only hot in Manila, it is VERY humid. The only places I liked walking were in UP, under the tall trees that line the roads there.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Maybe we need that creepy social credit big brother stuff just to make us stop in pedstrian lanes.
          When I cross that is my fear to be run over by those who simply do not want to stop.

          • Germany has a simple form of “social credit” but only for traffic matters. The “point system” is basically negative points when you have major traffic violation – even as a pedestrian or cyclist. They say “Flensburg points” here because the central DB is in that city.

            The points expire after a while, but if you reach a certain number of points you lose your driver’s license for a while. Sometimes you even lose it permanently and can only get it back after a renewed traffic rules examination. And the so-called “fool’s test” psychological test. Lots of changes happened in the past decades. Used to be that the car and driver’s lobby was about as powerful in Germany as the NRA in the United States. But that has changed.

            As for surveillance, all new underground and suburban trains in Munich have CCTV inside. The new models which are very small and in the ceiling so everything is covered. To catch the kind of stupid youths who think it is cool to beat up people “for fun” – times ARE crazy.

  13. Micha says:

    If Joe’s numbers are accurate, that’s Php1.16 trillion worth of additional loans from different foreign countries.

    For a supposedly monetarily sovereign gov’t like ours with its own domestic currency and its own supposedly independent central bank, there’s only one word to describe this borrowing frenzy from abroad : madness.

    Nothing guarantees further enslavement and continuing poverty of Filipinos than this stupendous stupidity from our economic planners.

    Whoever thinks incurring 1 trillion indebtedness from other countries so we could construct those glitzy impressive infrastructures and project an appearance of superficial prosperity deserves to be hanged (patiwarik) in Luneta Park.

    No doubt there will be those who will benefit from these transactions. Lending countries for one, and the contractors and approving public officials who will get their usual cuts and kickbacks. But for the rest of the population it will mean more taxes and hardships and poverty. It’s double screwing.

    • Borrowing is a way to get today what you could have in 25 years if you saved up. Can you imagine today’s traffic, worsening, for 25 years? So there is not really a choice. Trains over roads is a proper priority. But there is a big difference between a Chinese project at 3% that requires hiring a lot of Chinese workers and a Japanese loan at 1% that hires mainly Filipino workers. The common man has no interest in the details. Legislators are too stupid or self absorbed to get involved. So Duterte pushes the China deal that empowers him and possibly enriches his family. Total disfunction. No national imperative to be smart about it. Or, rather, smart hereabouts is the empowered saying “Hah! I made a killing!” It’s a value set.

      • Micha says:


        But it does not have to borrow from other countries. If it needs to procure the equipment, materials, and technology resource that are not locally available, it could allocate part of its international reserves and/or avail from domestic banks.

        The national gov’t now has the distinct ability to fund the needed local resource for those infrastructure projects through legislated direct sovereign spending.

        • Okay, but that is an area that few seem willing or able to go, so I don’t consider it practical. I’d just conclude that there are loans available for less onerous conditions than Chinese loans, and the fact that the Philippines would go with Chinese loans is testimony of a complete loss of sovereign sense.

      • NHerrera says:

        I agree, Joe, using concepts from my long-ago engineering economics 101. But, the Dear Leader is “in love” to go by the headline quote in the days surrounding his recent trip to China: a statement made by Duterte on Xi. And that makes all the difference. By the way, because of the protestation of love, it seems the Bigger Leader was flattered enough to plan on a visit to the Chinese Province — PH. (That will virtually cancel out the effect of all those recent ship-visits of the former allies [still are, for possible contingent use, aren’t they?])

  14. Just building stuff does NOT necessarily kick off economic development.

    Best example: Helmut Kohl’s “Aufbau Ost” projects for German unity. Many a white elephant was built then, the promised “blooming landscapes” did not happen in many places. Only where certain OTHER factors helped in making the area progress, like for example:

    1) a certain pool of engineering capability in parts of Saxony, making it easy to build car plants – BMW Dresden I think just had to tap former employees of a Eastern car maker that went broke.

    2) Leading edge technology – special glass firm Zeiss Jena in Thuringia.

    3) Robust old technology – Waggonbau Görlitz at the Polish border of Saxony, used to be the wagon builder for trains across the entire Communist block, just had to upgrade a bit to survive.

    4) Good location – Northeastern Germany was able to revitalize its Baltic sea tourism

    5) State investment – telecoms modernization helped Leipzig, for example, continue to employ people in that area, taken over from old Communist telecoms.

    Roads, train lines, modernized city centers, modern phone lines and more only are facilitators to help companies that create jobs do business. Otherwise you build infrastructure going nowhere.


    The growth of modern Bavaria and its attendant major infrastructure programs were fueled by two major industrial factors: Siemens moving to Munich from Berlin to escape Allied Power supervision, and aerospace firms moving to Upper Bavaria including Munich. Then of course you had the huge cluster of firms in the Northeast of Munich – MAN, MTU and BMW. The Olympics in 1972 gave the city a huge push in terms of public transport infrastructure, the backbone for what is today.

    While the boom attracted a lot of engineers from elsewhere, the state decided to ramp up its capabilities by building polytechnic universities across the countryside, and strengthening the Munich Technical University – to create a highly qualified based of people for the new firms.

    This mix of qualified people and technological firms encouraged Microsoft to come in the 1990s. Possibly also the image of Munich, the Oktoberfest city, as being very friendly to Americans. And Americans knew Bavaria because of many bases there – American sector of West Germany.

    Technoparks along the Autobahn ring around Munich attracted more firms – and new employees.

    I was one of the IT people who came in the mid-1990s. Later, in the early 2000s, there was a small biotech boom in the southern outskirts of the city, with startups all over the place.

    Often, the state prime minister graces the opening of headquarters of major companies over here. Somewhat like one Filipino President graced the opening of a Japanese car plant.

    Of course such growth can only work if plans are constantly adjusted to reality – industrial parks, new residential areas, public transport, roads etc.Somehow Munich and outskirts managed well, even keeping enough forest and agricultural land, though there was some inevitable urban sprawl.


    To sum it all up, I think you need three major things: transportation, jobs and housing. Consider basic utilities such as water supply, electricity, telecoms, Internet, drainage and garbage collection as part of what is needed. And for jobs you need: industries and talent pools for those industries. Silicon Valley grew due to the universities nearby. You need to invest a little, then earn money, then reinvest. Build on a hope that something will grow is a debt trap. Just a few cents from me…

    • Just looked up the German project and this is typical:

      33 Conflict Sensitive Resource
      and Asset Management
      (COSERAM) Programme –
      Financial Cooperation (FC)
      Measure / LBP

      This is a loan from KfW which aims to support the COSERAM’s thrust in poverty reduction and conflict transformation by improving sustainable access of local government units and micro, small and medium enterprises to development-oriented infrastructure and asset finance.

      (in short, these kind of projects – microfinance – help you avoid loansharks)

      and that is continuing an old tradition developed at home:

      Raiffeisen conceived of the idea of cooperative self-help during his tenure as the young mayor of Flammersfeld. He was inspired by observing the suffering of the farmers who were often in the grip of loansharks. He founded the first cooperative lending bank, in effect the first rural credit union in 1864.

      Motivated by the misery of the poor part of the population he founded during the starvation winter of 1846/47 the “Verein für Selbstbeschaffung von Brod und Früchten” (Association for Self-procurement of Bread and Fruits). He bought flour with the help of private donations. Bread was baked in a self-built bakery and distributed on credit to the poorest amongst the population. The bread society as well as the aid society founded in 1849 in Flammersfeld and the benevolent society created in 1854 in Heddesdorf were pre-cooperative societies based on the principle of benevolent assistance.

    • Micha says:


      Did Germany built its modern public infrastructure with money mostly loaned from other countries too?

      • NO. I read somewhere that Germany owes mostly German banks – most probably the Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and Dresdner Bank have a lion’s share. Locally there will be loans from the local savings banks (Sparkassen) and farmer’s banks (Raiffeisenbank).

        And of course a lot of contractors and suppliers are local. It is one thing for Filipinos to have an MRT whose parts are mostly foreign-sourced, and another for Munich to have new underground wagons made by Siemens which in large parts produces in Germany. There was in fact a major defect on the newest series of underground wagons (C2 series) with the pantographs causing short circuits. No prob, everything was fixed here within a few months. Imagine what a drama that would be in the Philippines where buying stuff takes FOREVER.

        The lesson of MRT 3 should have been, don’t venture into a field where you lack your own local capabilities, where you can’t even build the doors, or the wagons ABOVE the chassis which is complex and has to be bought, be pragmatic and scale up with time, step by step.

    • One more aspect is regional planning.. this is fascinating: (now think of Boracay or Marawi please)

      Section 7 General Provisions on Regional Plans

      (1) The principles of regional planning shall be put into concrete terms in regional plans in accordance with the overall concept and the principle of countervailing influence pursuant to section 1, subsections 2 and 3, for the respective planning area and for a regular medium term. Spatially and sectorally limited plans may be prepared. Objectives of regional planning shall be clearly identified as such in regional plans.

      (2) Regional plans should contain specifications concerning the spatial structure, especially with respect to:

      1. the desired settlement structure; this may include
      a) spatial order categories,
      b) central places,
      c) special community functions such as growth points and overspill towns,
      d) settlement developments,
      e) evelopment axes,

      2. the desired open space structure; this may include

      a) interregionally significant open spaces and their protection,

      b) uses of open space, such as sites designed to safeguard supplies of and systematically search for and extract location-specific raw materials,

      c) redevelopment and development of spatial functions,

      3. the desired infrastructure locations and routes; these may include

      a) the traffic infrastructure and installations for transfer of goods,

      b) public utility and waste disposal infrastructure.

      Stipulations in accordance with sentence 1, paragraph 2, may also establish the need to compensate for, make good or limit unavoidable damage to the ecological balance or the countryside in this area elsewhere.

      (3) Regional plans should also contain those stipulations concerning regionally significant plans and measures of public authorities and legal persons and entities under private law in accordance with section 4, subsection 3, that are eligible for incorporation into regional plans and required under subsection 7 for coordinating claims on land and can be safeguarded by way of objectives or principles of regional planning. In addition to statements included in sector plans of traffic, water protection and immission control legislation, these mainly include:

      1. regionally significant nature protection and countryside conservation requirements and measures in landscape programs and strategic landscape plans in accordance with the Federal Nature Conservation Act; regional plans may also serve as landscape programs and strategic landscape plans,

      2. regionally significant requirements and measures of overall forest plans in accordance with the Federal Forests Act,

      3. regionally significant requirements and measures of waste management planning in accordance with the Waste Avoidance, Recycling and Disposal Act,

      4. regionally significant requirements and measures of preliminary planning in accordance with the Act on the Joint Task of “Improvement of Agrarian Structure and Coastal Protection”.

      (4) The stipulations in accordance with paragraphs 2 and 3 may also refer to areas

      1. scheduled for certain regionally significant functions or uses, thus excluding other regionally significant uses in this area provided that they are inconsistent with the priority functions, uses or objectives of regional planning (priority areas),

      2. where special importance is attached to certain regionally significant functions or uses when balanced with competing regionally significant uses (reserve areas),

      3. suitable for certain regionally significant measures which are to be assessed within the scope of urban development in accordance with section 35 of the Federal Building Code and are prohibited in another location in the planning area (suitability areas).

      Priority areas with respect to regionally significant uses may be established to have the simultaneous effect of suitability areas for regionally significant measures in accordance with sentence 1, paragraph 3.

      (5) Public authorities and legal persons or entities under private law shall be involved in the process of preparing regional planning objectives for which the obligation of compliance under section 4, subsection 1 or 3 is to be established.

      (6) It may be stipulated that the public has to be involved or given the opportunity to participate in the process of preparing regional plans.

      (7) When preparing regional plans, the principles of regional planning shall be duly weighed and fairly balanced. In doing so, further public and private interests shall be taken into consideration if they can be anticipated at the respective planning level and if they are of sufficient importance. At the same time the conservation objectives or the protective purpose of areas of special community interest or European bird sanctuaries shall be taken into consideration within the meaning of the Federal Nature Conservation Act; where they may be considerably impaired, the provisions of the Federal Nature Conservation Act governing the permissibility or execution of such interventions as well as a request for an opinion of the Commission shall be applicable (examinations in accordance with the Directive on fauna, flora and habitat conservation).

      (8) A statement of reasons shall be added to the regional plans.


      Or Land Use.. (think of Boracay, Marawi, Metro Manila and more if you still want to)

      Section 2 The Preparation of Land-Use Plans, Power to Prepare Statutory Instruments

      (1) The adoption of land-use plans falls within the responsibility of the relevant municipality. Public notice of the resolution on the preparation of a land-use plan is to be made in the manner customary in the municipality.

      (2) Land-use plans for neighbouring municipalities must be co-ordinated.

      (3) No person or party has the right to require a municipality to prepare or adopt land-use plans or urban-planning statutes; such a right cannot be established by contract.

      (4) The provisions of this Act on the adoption of land-use plans also are applicable in respect of amendments, supplements and cancellation.

      (5) The Federal Minister for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development, with the approval of the Federal Council [Bundesrat], is empowered to introduce regulations by legal ordinance on

      1. representations and designations in land-use plans regarding

      a) the type of land use for building purposes,

      b) the degree of land use for building purposes and the manner in which this is to be calculated,

      c) the coverage type and the plot areas which may or may not be built on;

      2. the types of development – by constructing buildings or otherwise – permissible within specific land-use areas [Baugebiete];

      3. the admissibility of designations under Section 9 para. 3 on various types of specific land-use areas or on developments – by constructing buildings or otherwise – permissible within these areas;

      4. the preparation of land-use plans, including associated documentation, and the representation of the contents of the plan, in particular with regard to the notation symbols used and their interpretation.

      Section 3 Public Participation

      (1) The public is to be informed at the earliest possible stage about the general aims and purposes of planning, about significantly different solutions which are being considered for the redesign or development of an area, and of the probable impact of the scheme; the public is to be given suitable opportunity for comment and discussion. Public notification and discussion may be dispensed with in cases where

      1. a legally binding land-use plan [Bebauungsplan] is being prepared, modified, or is revoked, where this has only minimal effects on the plan area and adjacent areas, or

      2. public notification and discussion have already been effected by some other means.

      Notification and discussion is also followed by the procedure as described in para. 2 where discussion results in changes being made to the plan.

      (2) Drafts of land-use plans with the accompanying explanatory report or statement of grounds are to be put on public display for a period of one month. The place and times at which plans may be inspected are to be made public at least one week in advance in the manner customary in the municipality with the advice that suggestions may be lodged during the display period. Involved parties within the meaning of Section 4 para. 1 are to be informed of plans being placed on display. Suggestions lodged within the period allowed are to be examined; persons who have lodged suggestions are to be informed of the outcome of this examination. In cases where more than fifty people lodge what are essentially the same suggestions, personal notification of the outcome of the examination may be dispensed with by allowing those concerned access to inspect the appraisal; public notice of the offices at which the appraisal may be inspected is to be made in the manner customary in the municipality. On submission of the land-use plans in accordance with Section 6 or Section 10 para. 2, any suggestions which have not been incorporated are to be included with the official comment of the municipality.

      (3) Where amendments or supplements are made to the draft of a land-use plan subsequent to the display period, it shall once again be put on display in accordance with para. 2; in respect of this display period, stipulation may be made that only suggestions pertaining to those sections which have been amended or added may be lodged. The display period may be shortened to two weeks. In cases where amendments and supplements to a land-use plan [Bauleitplan] do not affect the general principles of planning, the simplified procedure may be adopted as applicable pursuant to Section 13 no. 2.

      • (Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure)

        A three-phase forecast procedure (global forecast, apportionment to the network and feedback) is used to identify and present the nationwide transport interconnectivity in the form of origin-destination matrices of freight and passenger traffic for the baseline year of 2010 and the forecast horizon of 2030, plus the tonne and passenger kilometres and vehicle mileages of the individual modes of transport on the corresponding infrastructures, calculated by apportionment to the network. This procedure is a major foundation for long-term planning of the traffic system, policymaking and the spatial structure.

        The overall project has been divided into the following six work packages:

        Work package 1 – preparation of a regionalized structural data forecast
        Work package 2 – preparation of the forecast of maritime traffic and inland traffic to and from seaports
        Work package 3 – preparation of the forecast of nationwide transport interconnectivity for 2030, taking account of air traffic
        Work package 4 – sectoral forecast / network apportionment (road)
        Work package 5 – sectoral forecast / network apportionment (rail)
        Work package 6 – sectoral forecast / network apportionment (waterway)

        Under the Basic Law, the Federal Government is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the federal transport infrastructure (federal railway infrastructure: Art. 87e of the Basic Law; federal waterways: Article 89(2) of the Basic Law; federal trunk roads: Art. 90 of the Basic Law).

        It is the Federal Government’s objective to provide people with safe and affordable mobility and create a reliable and competitive transport environment for the business sector. A high-performing transport system is a prerequisite for a modern society, for economic growth, employment and prosperity.

        The federal transport infrastructure plans (FTIPs) form the basis for the development and upgrading of federal transport infrastructure. A federal transport infrastructure plan is prepared by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and is adopted by the Federal Cabinet. It contains all the structural preservation requirements of the federal transport infrastructure and all investment projects planned by the Federal Government for roads, railways and waterways. The FTIP is a framework program and planning tool. It is not a funding plan or program, nor is it of a statutory nature, and it does not replace any permissions required under public law. It is valid until the following FTIP is approved, usually 10 to 15 years. The current Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan is the FTIP 2030.

        When the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan is being drawn up, the Federal Government proves that a project under consideration is beneficial to the whole economy and that it is necessary. Upgrading and new-build needs are determined on the basis of the volume of traffic predicted in traffic forecasts. The basis of the FTIP 2030 is the traffic forecast for 2030.

        The FTIP forms the basis for the Federal Government’s bill to amend the acts governing the upgrading of federal railway infrastructure and federal trunk roads with the related requirement plans. In addition, following the FTIP 2030, there is also the aim of introducing a new act governing the upgrading of federal waterway infrastructure with a related requirement plan. The German Bundestag takes a decision on the inclusion of the projects of the FTIP, and possibly other projects, in the requirement plans of the upgrading acts. Only then is the need for the selected projects enshrined in law.

        Based on the requirement plans, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure develops five-year plans which illustrate the need for investment for the years ahead. In 2006/2007, for the first time, the Ministry developed a cross-modal framework investment plan for federal transport infrastructure. This plan establishes the investment priorities for the structural preservation, upgrading and construction of transport infrastructure. In addition to the requirement plan measures for the federal railway infrastructure and the federal trunk roads, it also includes information relating to the federal waterway projects contained in the FTIP. Therefore, the next five-year plan will be developed based on the FTIP 2030.

        • (This is like a software project, were demands are prioritized and become requirements, the requirements are then specified and designed and built)

          Waterways in the 2030 Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan – strengthen major routes

          The “2030 Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan” (FTIP 2030) contains all investment projects for the roads, railways and waterways which will need to be implemented in the years to come in order to develop our transport infrastructure and make it sustainable and efficient. Moreover, the FTIP 2030 shows which additional investment, inter alia to maintain or replace the transport networks, is needed for the individual transport modes until 2030.

          Staged appraisal method

          The projects that are to be realized by the Federal Government in the field of waterways have been identified in the staged appraisal procedure of the FTIP: When notifying projects for the FTIP, the federal states, trade associations and the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration were called upon to submit project ideas and proposals for Germany’s federal waterways. From these ideas and proposals, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has defined specific projects in cooperation with the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration. First, a simplified preliminary assessment was carried out as part of the staged appraisal procedure to determine whether the projects can reach the economic break-even point. Some projects for which this was clearly ruled out were not considered in the further assessment. During the next appraisal stage, the main appraisal was undertaken based on the transport development forecast for 2030 using the following criteria:

          cost-benefit ratio;
          impact on environmental protection and nature conservation.

          In addition to the appraisal results, the final classification of the projects into the requirement categories of the FTIP took into account further factors, for example the improvement of the hinterland connections of German seaports..

          List of measures

          A complete appraisal was conducted for a total of 28 waterway projects in the framework of the FTIP, and the projects were classified into the requirement categories of the FTIP 2030. Details and results of the appraisal of all projects studied can found in the project information system of the FTIP (available in German only).
          On this basis, the Federal Waterways Upgrading Act with the requirement plan for the federal waterways was established. During the parliamentary debate on this Act, a few amendments were made to the requirement plan, compared with the FTIP 2030.
          As a result of the process, 24 projects with an overall financial volume of 6.5 billion euros were included in the requirement plan as “new projects of first priority”. Among them are 7 projects which, based on their appraisal results, were classified as “first priority – removal of bottlenecks” (VB-E), i.e. as being very urgent.

          Requirement plan for the federal waterways – Annex to Section 1(1) of the Federal Waterways Upgrading Act, Part 2 “New projects of the first priority (VB-E and VB).”

          1 Optimize the laden draughts of the fairways on the Middle Rhine
          2 Deepen the fairways on the Lower Main up to Aschaffenburg
          3 Adapt the fairways on the Outer Weser
          4 Deepen the Kiel Canal
          5 Adapt the fairways on the Lower Weser (south)
          6 Adapt the fairways on the Lower Weser (north)
          7 Upgrade the Wesel Datteln Canal up to Marl and construct new replacement “large locks” and construct new, higher replacement bridge
          8 Deepen the Outer Ems
          9 Upgrade the Datteln-Hamm Canal (eastern section)
          10 Realign the Saatsee Curve on the Kiel Canal
          11 Adapt the seaward approach to the seaport of Rostock
          12 Upgrade the Danube on the Straubing – Vilshofen section (option A)
          13 Improve the laden draught and stabilize the bottom on the Rhine between Duisburg and Stürzelberg
          14 Adapt the seaward approach to the seaport of Wismar
          15 Adapt the Dortmund-Ems Canal (northern section)
          16 Upgrade the Havel-Oder Waterway
          17 Upgrade the Salzgitter Branch Canal including construction of two new replacement locks
          18 Upgrade the Coastal Canal including construction of two new replacement locks
          19 Bring forward construction of a new replacement lock at Lüneburg-Scharnebeck on the Elbe Lateral Canal
          20 Lengthen the locks on the Neckar between Mannheim and Plochingen
          21 Construct seven 2nd lock chambers on the Moselle
          22 Upgrade the Elbe-Lübeck Canal
          23 Upgrade the Hildesheim Branch Canal
          24 Kleinmachnow Lock on the Teltow Canal (exclusively with regard to its maintenance)


            High-speed Internet for Germany

            With the first Federal Programme for Funding the Roll-Out of Broadband, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure supports municipalities and rural districts in areas where coverage is inadequate and where the private sector is unlikely to upgrade the network in the next three years. For this purpose, the Federal Cabinet already decided in October 2015 to provide financial assistance to support the broadband roll-out in the Federal Republic of Germany.

            The overarching objective is that there should be high-speed Internet with at least 50 Mbit/s throughout Germany by 2018. But this is just an intermediate target: over the next few years, the demand for even faster broadband connections will increase exponentially.

            Billions of euros worth of funding

            In its Digital Agenda 2014-2017, the Federal Government has already identified a large number of projects that have been constantly progressed. The Federal Programme for Funding the Roll-Out of Broadband is the most prominent project of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. It is also the financially strongest of the Digital Agenda’s core remits.

            The Federal Government is providing funding currently totalling approximately 4 billion euros for the implementation of broadband roll-out projects. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure distributes these funds among the districts and municipalities and provides grants totalling up to 70 percent of the investment sum. The highest amount that can be granted to a local authority is 15 million euros per project.

            Demand remains strong

            The approval of the 4th call of the financial assistance programme is currently underway. A continuation of the programme on a permanent basis is intended. In addition, a Special Programme for Business Areas was launched in January 2017. This programme provides funds exclusively for the coverage of business areas with fibre optics. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has reserved 350 million euros for this purpose. Funding applications can be submitted on the website

    • Last but not least, PPP on Federal Trunk Roads:

      The 11 “new generation” PPP projects comprise the following schemes. Future changes or additions to the list cannot be ruled out.

      Federal state Project description

      Baden-Württemberg A 6 federal motorway, Weinsberg interchange – Feuchtwangen/Crailsheim interchange
      (widening to six lanes)
      Bavaria A 3 federal motorway (Biebelried interchange – Fürth/Erlangen interchange)
      (widening to six lanes)
      Bavaria A 8 federal motorway, Rosenheim – German/Austrian border
      (widening to six lanes)
      A 10/A 24 federal motorways, Neuruppin junction (A 24) – Pankow/Brandenburg state
      border interchange (A 10) (widening to six lanes (A 10) and full depth reconstruction
      (A 24))
      Hesse A 49 federal motorway, Kassel-West intersection to junction with A 5 (construction of
      new four-lane road from Schwalmstadt junction to junction with A 5)
      Lower Saxony E 233 (federal highway), Meppen junction (A 31) – Cloppenburg junction (A 1)
      (widening to four lanes)
      Lower Saxony/Hamburg
      A 26 federal motorway, Hamburg (A 1) – Rübke
      (construction of a new four-lane road, including port ring-road (closing of gap),
      envisaged as a model under the Private Sector Funding of Trunk Road Construction Act)
      North Rhine-Westphalia A 57 federal motorway, Köln/Nord interchange – Moers interchange
      (widening to six lanes)
      Schleswig-Holstein/Lower Saxony
      A 20 federal motorway, Elbe crossing
      (construction of a new road, envisaged as a model under the Private Sector Funding of
      Trunk Road Construction Act)
      Thuringia A 4 federal motorway, Gotha junction – Thuringia/Saxony state border
      (structural maintenance)
      Thuringia B 247 federal highway, Bad Langensalza – A 38 federal motorway
      (construction of a new two- to four-lane road)

      • Thanks for the instructive examples, Irineo. Love the German sense and order. I hope Sec. Pernia swings by for a look.

        • Welcome. Just to sort a few ideas… (also for Karl, Edgar, NHerrera, Popoy and more..)

          1) Regional plans (and the law regulating them) that make sure different areas are allocated to certain purposes. That explains a lot of stuff for me, looking at maps or from the plane. Seems the top planners sit down and say, OK, this stuff stays forest, to be conserved, this land stays for farming, this we allot for future housing, this we reserve for future roads or widening them. Something similar is VERY needed in the Philippines. Germany has only 80 million people and has a somewhat larger geographic area than the Philippines, even if it isn’t much larger than Ohio so it needs to plan where the land goes. It isn’t the US with its wide open space, or Russia, Chile, Australia, Argentina – the Philippines is it even less.

          2) Land use is the more local level, and very detailed. A lot in the center of Munich may have something built on it, but the next one who builds may have to build exactly 5 stories to meet the height of other buildings in adjacent lots. Usually new architecture has to fit into the general picture, harmonize with the old stuff. It can lead to somewhat boring architecture as city councils fear the censure of voters. But sometimes it can be downright nice – yesterday i observed how a new block looks new but its colors and shapes match the old stuff across.

          3) Forecasting as a planning method. Roads to nowhere make no sense. What makes even less sense is borrowing money for the likes of the San Juanico bridge – it does look very nice crossing from Samar to Leyte, but the traffic over it does not justify the cost AT ALL. There is a similar bridge that crosses over the toll-free area of the Hamburg port, goes high and crosses the port and the river but is one of the important crossings in that city which makes a lot of money with the port. Just the container cranes there are a sight to see.

          4) Financing. PPP is a new form of financing for Germany. The older form was to use money from the gasoline tax and car tax to build roads. Of course the entire government borrows. But again, infrastructure that creates business generates taxes to pay the debts IF the terms of the debts were computed correctly. Otherwise you end up like many people in Spain who acted financially semi-literate and took up housing loans that only pay the interest, not the loan sum – very speculative stuff that is good if you can always sell your place at a profit. But when the property market crashed, that was the ruin of many people including families. There is a similar lack of future-orientation among Filipinos even at the decision-maker level.

          5) Prioritization of projects from the useful ones. Removing bottlenecks is a major priority one can see in both the Autobahn and waterway plans. I think another priority is covering new ground, accessing places that were badly connected before – there is a goal in the German Federal Constitution that all areas should have an equivalent standard of living. Lesson learned from the massive migration to big cities between the wars, with the dual plague of farmland left to itself and jobless people in the big cities -> political dynamite. Improving access to existing important cities, airports, ports, rivers, Autobahns, stations is another priority I see in practice when I read about new projects. Feeding existing growth.

          There is of course massively future-oriented stuff like the Broadband Initiative – a bit late in fact for a highly developed country where large parts of the countryside have bad Internet. NEDA will have a lot of the highly investment-oriented stuff as the Philippines lacks much.

          The gracefulness of PPP is that it is like a loan but the consortium that you pay to in the end is a local player. Aquino may have favored “oligarchs” with PPP but the money does not flow to China or even Japan primarily, it goes back into local hands that create local jobs. Well, to use a recent analogy by Michelle Obama (about Obama vs. Trump) – Aquino was like the parent where you have to drink milk and eat carrots, while Duterte lets you drink Coke and eat sugary sweets. In the long run you are healthier if you are disciplined and not indulgent.

          • NHerrera says:

            Makes a lot of sense, Irineo.


            1. The Filipino — aided, say, by the academicians in Ateneo, UP, among others — is capable of good urban and rural planning (in short, country planning) and forecasting. I was about to say, it is not rocket science, but even in this, there is capability, especially with resources that abound in the internet. Not to mention friendly developed countries who are happy to be of help on urban and rural development found effective in their own countries.

            2. But the above said, the development is strongly-biased for the interest of those in power (ref, San Juanico Bridge in Marcos’ time; re-routing of Major Highway during Rep/Sen Mr. Villar’s time.). In fact, the choice of projects themselves are strongly-biased to start with, not only in their eventual location. Not to mention the kickbacks.

            • Your point 2 is covered by my points 1, 3 and 5 – regional planning, forecasting and prioritization. Plus the public participation aspect of the building code. Something like what is happening in Boracay and Marawi is impossible, stakeholders must be consulted.

              Your point 1: yes, the Philippines has always had competent people. BUT the weakness has always been not in individuals. The systems to plan and implement collectively seem weak. Things seem to fall into disarray especially at ground level, where roads are widened I have read but electric poles are not moved and nonsense like that. Or sidewalks are built but nobody cares if they are slowly taken over and are no longer usable after a short while.

              There are of course also spectacularly troubled projects in Germany, like the Stuttgart train station and the Berlin airport. The latter was/is plagued by political quarrels between the two stakeholders – the Federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg. I wonder when it will open.

              • What is also very clear is that green space especially in places like Metro Manila – but even Baguio by now – is too easily sacrificed for commercialism. Yes, Filipino urban planners criticize that but nobody else seems to care. The air quality must be awful by now.

                And of course mining that destroys entire rivers – and IPs who are in the way get killed. Somehow it isn’t just politicians I think. Possibly most Filipinos focus too much on money, maybe just on their own interests, who cares who is left by the roadside, hurt, or.. killed.

              • I was explaining the situation to my wife with regard to indigenous people of Mindanao, and I suppose elsewhere, who don’t actually parcel out the land for ownership, but consider it common property, much as the American Indians considered the plains until the white men began fencing it. That common property frame of mind is somewhat inborn or deeply rooted across the Philippines, I think, because even today, open space is used to cut through or graze goats and carabao, or hunt for wood for the dirty kitchen. Motorcycles are borrowed and lent almost as common property. That common ownership theme also underpins the idea that if someone has money, it is entirely proper for me to expect them to give me some, because I need it. I may call it a ‘loan’, but it is not. It’s just sharing. Common need means no private ownership of anything. So sidewalks are claimed and squatters move into open land and crosswalks belong to the biggest or newest or most aggressive car arriving there, not pedestrians. The concept is still a little fuzzy in my brain, but it all connects to the self-involved political process that does not consider giving, only taking.

              • Yes, there are two interesting stories I have about “common property”:

                1) Fedor Jagor, a Russian-German explorer who visited the Philippines in the 19th century, observed that Agtas in Albay did not share meat with the able-bodied who were to lazy to take part in the hunt, which was usually groups of men with spears driving a deer for example to exhaustion by chasing it, then surrounding and killing it. Seems they did share with women, children, old and those who were sick – don’t have the book with me now.

                2) Around 1870s much land in the Albay abaca regions had not titles. There are deeds of sale that are very interesting, basically amounting to an affidavit by neighbors that the ones selling the land had tilled it for AT LEAST 30 YEARS. Usage meant ownership back then.

                Now both examples show that at a simple, village or forager level, it was easy to keep people from “freeloading”. Freeloading is a problem of any system that gives to people. Freeloading was one of the main reasons Communism failed in Eastern Europe. In a small working team of 5 people in an office, I think everybody notices if one persons slacks off at the expense of everybody else. In a department of 30 people one needs to have a more explicit division of labor (everybody works on his plot of land, so to speak) and some monitoring of results, but it still works fairly well. Jumping back to Communism as the idea of going back to the natural state of man (Marx’s idea) you probably have to have something as horrible as social points to keep it working at a billion people level. That is horrible.

                Of course the Philippines survived all the freeloading as long as there were not that many people yet. Around 10 million in the early 20th century, 20 million in the time of Magsaysay – just half a million in the time of Lapu-Lapu. Add to that the forest cover that was destroyed by logging and mining – Samar was practically stripped of its virgin forest during Marcos days. Watersheds of course have been damaged by less forest cover and mining tailings. Agricultural land has been converted into subdivisions. You can’t eat money, said the Cree. But it seems that in the Philippines, things always need to escalate before things are done. A recent article about Duterte’s decision making says that he reacts emotionally to pictures, such as Boracay or the dead OFW in Kuwait – and that is the “reality” he decides upon.

              • I somehow think some of the yellow memes are not getting to Duterte. He’d have gone berserk by now.

              • edgar lores says:

                Freeloading is part and parcel of the mendicant mindset of the Filipino.

                Mendicancy is found in the indigenous population with people of the mountains traveling to beg for alms. It’s common in rural areas. It’s encouraged by the culture of patronage.. which is basically the Padrino system of Catholicism. In Christianity, self-reliance is not considered a virtue.

              • @Edgar, Hmmmmm. I dunno. Self-reliance, as in accountability for one’s own lot in life, true, I suppose. But if we consider that a well-developed sense of accountability would lead to millions and millions of mental cases as the lack of success joined with the lack of opportunity to lead to massive depression and suicide. Instead, everyone is happy. Also, in Christian America, the work ethic is well-formed, and the interesting thing is, it was the poor who worked their way to success and made America great. I think “mendicant mindset” is too simple a tag to put on it.

              • I’d say mendicant and corrupt leadership is more the problem.

              • edgar lores says:

                In America, it’s the Protestant ethic that is at work.

                The Protestant ethic of prosperity is not really Christian. The Christian ethic is not to store riches on earth.

                The mendicant mindset is to rely on others.

              • Spanish Catholicism, old school, fosters dependency as it is feudal. It had to teach the “Indio” to be meek and docile, to be “resilient” = accept fate without complaininng and especially without fighting back. And to not be TOO self-reliant like the farming and fishing communities of pre-Hispanic days that shared – within clans and families. The “pahiram” or “pautang” attitude can be positive if the one making use of it has “utang na loob” and pays the favor back, but that usually works only when two people are on an equal footing. It can be a way of surviving when one has finite resources. Migrant communities survive that way. Patronage Filipino style may have entailed loyalty to the “datu”, but he also paid for your child’s hospital visit if you were a loyal subject. Some trapo mayors lived up to that “ideal”.

                Catholicism of course has its idea of charity. Medieval Catholicism even had certain groups of people that were objects of charity. Protestantism rebelled against the idea of patronage. The Protestant ethic is one of self-reliance. Protestant charity is more of helping people get back on their feet and then letting them work by themselves again. In that sense, Leni’s idea of charity in “Angat Buhay” is more Protestant than Catholic. The classic Catholic idea is Imelda giving dole-outs to people in the slums – giving people fish, not teaching how to fish.

                Of course there are more modern forms of Catholicism, but the stark difference remains. That is why, for example, I see the spirit of CJ Sereno as different from that of Cory Aquino. Cory still symbolized the “paawa” mentality, the spirit of martyrdom and passivity that I very deeply dislike in the Philippines. CJ Sereno, a born again Christian, therefore a Protestant, has their mentality of being a “go-getter”. Usually Filipino born-agains tend to be more career-conscious then Catholics – my observation. “God helps those who help themselves”. If ever someone is classic Spanish Catholic it is AJ De Castro – how dare she make her own destiny and skip the seniority rule, why can’t she wait in line like everybody else is doing? Leni of course is not passive, but turns the other cheek to often, which Sereno does NOT.

                There are of course modern Filipinos who go too far in not wanting to be victims anymore. They have decided to be persecutors – Franco Mabanta, Benign Zero, most DDS fanatics. Just like Nazis decided no longer to be history’s victims, or some Chinese nationalists today.

                Such people don’t know the difference between being combative and bullying, between being assertive and rude. Some Filipinos may be trying to shed the skin of centuries of servility, of superficially friendly “Yes Sir” by going straight to “putang ina mo”. Not good.

                There are also many born again Christian Filipinos, for example, who are pro-EJK DDS. Why? Because they detest the mendicancy of the poor while they are self-made people. Finding the right balance between compassion and discipline is not an easy thing to do.

              • edgar lores says:

                Agree with the second paragraph.

                I am not too sure about the last paragraph. Evangelist protestants in America support Trump. But in my understanding, born-again Christians in the Philippines have come to accept Jesus as their lord and savior. Their relationship with Jesus is on a highly personal basis and, confronted with the EJK issue, they would ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?”

                I would be very surprised if true born-again Christians would support Duterte and the EJKs.

                Is there a popular born-again movement in the Philippines that we can google?

              • edgar lores says:

                Upon re-reading, I also agree — somewhat — with the third paragraph.

                I would not perhaps use the term “go-getter” because of its pejorative connotation of aggressiveness. I would use “dynamic” instead. The dynamism consists of weighing their actions against new-born conscience.

                The new-born conscience is a result of consciously and actively rising above previous conditioning.

                I will observe that AJ De Castro is aggressive. And Martires. And Tijam. But their aggression is based on conditioned and affective attitudes and prejudices. Their emotional inclination is to support their appointer. In effect, they pre-judge. They are not constantly and independently evaluating and re-evaluating their positions like, say, Leonen and Carpio.

              • edgar lores says:

                Karl, that’s interesting.

                JIL is classified as a Protestant denomination. Are members considered born-again?

                I don’t understand why Senator Villanueva is allied with Duterte. He was LP.

              • karlgarcia says:


                I think he had been wanting to bolt LP even before the elections.

              • The kind of Protestantism that FIRST formed the USA was Puritanism. Its twin, Calvinism, believed that the rich and successful (“The Elect”) were chosen by God before birth, and that Destiny would show who is Elect. Dutch were also strongly shaped by Calvinism.

                The relation with the extreme American success ideal (“Greed is Good”) is very obvious. And that it might lead to contempt for the poor as sinful and bad is also a possibility. My evidence of Filipino born-agains being pro-EJK is purely anecdotal, sorry to say.

                The Scandinavian countries, on the other hand, have Lutheranism as their state religion. Hard work counts, but no one is left behind in their systems. I think there is a pattern there.

              • Excuse me, we don’t call it greed. We call it ‘well-purposed prosperity’. 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:


                Eli Soriano of ang Dating Daan is Pro-Duterte and accirding to him, the EJK issue is usedt to discredit Duterte.

                And Eddie Villanueva’s JIL just blames EJK to scalawags and does not believe that it is state-sponsored.

              • One thing I also noticed is that the rhetoric of some of the cops around Duterte is very similar to that of born agains… Bato has told crowds of drug addicts “Bumalik kayo kay Lord” and Jovie Espenido who is responsible for both Parojinog and Espinosa killings…


                “‘Yang accomplishment natin di natin magagawa. Wala si Espenido because we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Kaya dependent talaga tayo sa bible, sa Panginoon, kung hindi, wala tayong magawa,” Espenido said.

                That kind of language is typical for the less educated born agains that I have encountered. A Catholic will not talk of “Lord” when speaking Filipino, he will say Diyos or Panginoon.

                The idea of being able to all things through Christ, to have the power to do anything one wants due to having the right faith, is the “voodoo” interpretation of born-again Christian.

                Plus I also saw an American source once, from the 1980s. An American Evangelical praised the Alsa Masa, saying many were devout Christians who prayed before killing Communists.

                Unfortunately I am not able to find it via google anymore, but I remember it pretty clearly.

              • edgar lores says:

                Irineo, wait…

                The parallels are there but they are more apparent rather than substantive, more ostensible than real.

                The language may be the same between Espenido and “less educated” born-agains, as is the sameness between Pacquiao and Sereno in the fact that both are born-agains.

                “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” is biblical (Philippians 4:13). It is not voodoo Christianity.

                Sereno is quoted as saying, “You may say that with all my rules, I am a masochist, a self-flagellist. This is the key: because of my King, I know that to follow the six rules is impossible, but I know in Him, and because He is who He is, nothing is impossible.”


                But there is a vast difference in thought, deed, and spirit between Sereno and Pacquiao.

                The difference has to do with the essence of the phenomenon of spiritual conversion.

                In true metanoia, there is an internalization of the new beliefs… and of living the truth of the new faith in one’s daily life. This is the “dynamic” I earlier referred to. One can sense this internalization in the change of heart of the truly converted.

                The difference in the spirit of spiritual dissent according to conscience between a Sereneo and a Pacquiao is palpable.

              • Found something else… but first I would correct that born again alone is not sufficient.. seems there is a significant difference between being “born again” like CJ Sereno and “born again” like Manny Pacquiao.. then of course you have all kinds of Mindanao sects..

       – this source is chock full of stuff..

                Page vii-viii

                However, many of the victims of “vigilante justice” in recent years have been innocent civilians, poor farmers, human rights and church workers, lawyers, journalists, religious, and other individuals who have advocated such measures as land reform and the withdrawal of American bases from Philippine territory.

                Even more disturbing was the revelation ofthe fact-finding team headed by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark in May 1987 thatcertainforeign organizations like the Unification Church-affiliated CAUSA (Confederation of the Associations for the
                Unification ofthe Societies of the Americas) and WACL (World Anti-CommunistLeague) were actively engaged in encouraging, if not organizing, these right-wing groups. The team also found evidence of sophisticated counter-insurgency work being undertaken in Mindanao areas by elements of the Philippine military with U.S. technical assistance.

                Page 19-20

                Alsa Masa (Masses Arise or People’s Uprising) appears to have been formed in the Davao suburb of Agdao in early 1984 by a barangay captain, Wilfredo “Baby”Aquino, said to be a staunch Marcos loyalist and anti-communist. Agdao is a low-income settlement, populated largely by immigrants from the Visayas (many of whom, Hastings suggests, were petty criminals fleeing justice), and by 1984 had, like much of the Davao area, come strongly under the influence of the NPA, earning the popular appellation “Nicaragdao.” Ostensibly, Alsa Masa was formed among a group of non-communists to resist the financial and other impositions of the NPA. However, as one report says, “Aquino’s A/sa Masa became notorious for its own lawless activities, including liquidations ofsuspected rebels.” (LCHR 1988:24) And in late 1985, following the murder of “Baby” Aquino, reportedly by NPA assassins, it was unofficially disbanded, though it seems to have survived as a small street gang. During 1985, however, the NPA in southern Mindanao was heavily infiltrated by “deep penetration agents” (DPAs) of the military, and in an outburst of paranoia, the local organization instigated a series of purges and apparently indiscriminate killings of suspected
                DPAs. As a result of this, the NPA in Davao alienated much of its popular support and when in April 1986 a group of ex-NPA members, led by Rolando “Boy” Ponsa Cagay, revived Alsa Masa as an anti-communist group ( Cagay claims to have had a close friend killed by the
                NPA on suspicion of being a DPA), they attracted support from both the urban poor and the middle class in Davao. A resident of Agdao was quoted as saying in 1987: “”We
                are tired of the communists’ taxation and killings. They have no respect for God.” (Post-Courier 29 May 1987)

                Initially the revival of Alsa Masa was opposed by the then local PC commander, Lt. Col. Jesus Magno. However, in July 1986, Magno was replaced by a hardline anti-communist, Lt. Col. Franco Calida, who actively encouraged the growth ofthe vigilante group. ByMarch
                1987, Alsa Masa was said to have 9,628 members in Davao City, including 3,000 former NPA members (Manila Bulletin 12 March 1987; in January 1988 Calida claimed a million supporters). These members patrolled the city, operated checkpoints on roads in and out of the city, collected intelligence for the PC and reported on any strangers, and exercised the right of citizen arrest.

                Two curiosities – Agdao was the part of Davao the sheriff who was punched by Sara Duterte evacuated too early. Was she protecting some people there? Allegedly Alsa Masa is the source of DDS. Second, Franco Calida has a lawyer brother named Jose. We know him.

              • There were the 12 tribes of Israel and 114 of the Philippines. It’s complicated.

              • And most of the tribes call on God but probably each mean someone different.

              • karlgarcia says:

                JIL and the likes preferred to be called Christian only, they consider themselves non-denominational christians (whatever that means).

              • edgar lores says:

                Wikipedia classifies JIL’s denomination as protestant and the churchmanship as evangelical.

                I guess what JIL means by non-denominational is that they do not belong to a major denomination. But they are a denomination unless they want to be called a sect because of their small size.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I maybe wrong, but most born again call them selves non-denominational christians, but they are also protestants, because they still do not adhere to catholic beliefs and traditions.


                Nondenominational Christianity consists of churches which typically distance themselves from the confessionalism or creedalism of other Christian communities[1] by calling themselves non-denominational. Often founded by individual pastors, they have little affiliation with historic denominations, but typically adhere to evangelical Protestantism.[2][3][4]

                There is no identifiable standard among such congregations. Nondenominational church congregations may establish a functional denomination by means of mutual recognition of or accountability to other congregations and leaders with commonly held doctrine, policy, and worship without formalizing external direction or oversight in such matters. Some nondenominational churches explicitly reject the idea of a formalized denominational structure as a matter of principle, holding that each congregation is better off being autonomous. This is a main feature of the congregational polity.

                Many of the nondenominational churches trace their origins back to the United States. Their history is often associated with American Protestantism, even though nondenominationals emphasize their Christian identity above all others. A 2012 Gallup survey reported that 10 percent of U.S. adults identify as non-specific Christian.[5] According to 2014 data, nondenominational Protestants are the second largest group in American Protestantism after Baptists and ahead of Methodists and Pentecostals, at 6.2% of the U.S. population.[6]

                Nondenominational churches have grown significantly in the 20th century, and continue to in the 21st. Worldwide, nondenominationals constitute a substantial share of Protestants.[7][8]

              • edgar lores says:

                “Nondenominational Protestants?” The term is an oxymoron.

                Protestantism is a major denomination of Christianity like Catholicism.

                Protestantism has many minor denominations — Anglicans, Baptists, Calvinists, Lutherans, Methodists, etc.

                The semantics and taxonomy are confusing because major and minor groupings are called “denominations.” The religious taxonomy doesn’t have the rigor of Linnean classification.

                It should go something like this:

                o Domain – Religion
                o Kingdom – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism
                o Phylum – Catholicism, Protestantism, Sunni, Shia
                o Class – Roman, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglicans, Baptists, Calvinists, Lutherans, Methodists, “Non-aligned,” etc.
                o Order – JIL, INC, etc.

                JIL would be in the “Non-aligned” Class and would be an “Order” under that class. As would Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

                The taxonomy should be more granular and consider such other criteria as theistic or non-theistic, monotheistic or polytheistic, anthropomorphic or non-anthropomorphic, etc.

                But then religion came before science, and science has not turned its eyes on religion and applied its classification abilities.

                P.S. There are some attempts to classify religions but none have been widely adopted… probably because of the inability to determine whether each is true, false or in-between.

              • The non-denominational churches seem to be populist around an orator. It’s what Duterte brings and the opposition lacks.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Yes, it is confusing, we do not know whether they are oxen or morons.

  15. NHerrera says:


    I converted MANGAHAS numbers — from his article on “Attitudes toward government” — to a table with the following note,

    The labels PH, TH, TW, SK, JP, and US correspond to Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and US, respectively.

    A* is the reverse to the question in A, to make it more understandable.

    One can ponder the table more than a mere scan, but I believe our demographics and lack of discernment of the general mass and aided by propaganda, including the many comments we have made in TSH, may explain the relative numbers.

    On the other hand, MONSOD in her article on a global survey on the “Rule of Law” writes:

    The World Justice Project (WJP) is an independent, multidisciplinary organization working to advance the rule of law around the world. Annually, it publishes its Rule of Law Index, which it asserts is the world’s leading source for original data on the rule of law, and which, as of 2016, covers 113 countries—the Philippines is one—and jurisdictions, relying on more than 110,000 household surveys and 3,000 expert surveys “to measure how the rule of law is experienced in practical, everyday situations by the general public worldwide.”

    Basic translation: The WJP does not deal in fake news, Reader. It’s the real deal. So pay close attention, please. It measures the performance of countries using 44 indicators across eight primary rule of law factors, each of which is scored and ranked globally and against regional and income peers: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.

    Monsod gives these numbers and ranking:

    2015 Score = 0.53 (51st out of 102 globally: right in the middle; 9th out of 15 regionally)

    2016 Score = 0.51 (70th globally)

    2017 Score = 0.47 (88th out of 113 globally; 13th out of 15 regionally)

    Monsod concludes with:

    In other words, in terms of the rule of law, our overall score decreased by six points, and we plunged from being at the halfway mark to the bottom 25 percent globally. This is only a two-year period, three-fourths of which was under the Duterte administration. (Highlighting, mine.)

  16. Two articles about how Duterte decided on the Boracay closure:

    Duterte’s manner of deciding on Boracay shows a pattern. For one thing, it’s clear that he is moved by graphic images. It was a video of Boracay’s problems that drove him to consider closure. It was photos of bruised and frozen bodies of female domestic workers that drove him to ban Kuwait deployment of Filipino migrant workers. It was a documentary on mining that led him to threaten mining companies with taxation and an open-pit mining ban.

    Another pattern is that Duterte’s most controversial or drastic decisions are often announced in speeches, and before he gives formal orders to Cabinet secretaries. Thus, his secretaries are often left to scramble for a clarification on his public statement and then to find a way to implement his order by recalibrating according to what laws, protocol, or diplomacy allow.

    All in all, the Boracay shutdown shows how not to do public policymaking. Technical studies, cost-benefit analyses, contingency plans, and thorough consultations should precede any major policy – especially one affecting so many people’s lives and properties – and not come later as an afterthought or appendix…

    It’s often said that the first rule of public policymaking should be “do no harm.” But based on the outcomes of Duterte’s many thoughtless policies – like the wanton economic disruption caused by the Boracay shutdown, or the tens of thousands of deaths resulting from the war on drugs – harm seems to be the one thing Dutertian policymaking is capable of doing.

    NOTE: unfortunately the average Filipino probably is like Duterte, wants quick results. Will even overtake a car stopped at a pedestrian walkway and run over someone because he is in a hurry. Probably most Filipinos believe plans are just hot air, not something that one day really gets done.

    • How to bridge the gap between the “native” or “barangay” mentality that wants things done at once and the “elite” or “modern” mentality that understands planning and execution?

      Because long-term quiet work is NOT seen so very often, while flashy nonsense is seen. There is little understanding what NEDA is good for I think, “what is that fancy nonsense?”

      Or people actually believe fake news that PPP projects started in Aquino’s time and finish only now are to Duterte’s credit. They have no understanding of how long some things take.

    • edgar lores says:

      Wouldn’t it be correct to say that Filipinos, in general, and Duterte, in particular, lack the ability of “foresight?”

      Why would this be so?

      One can say there is “lack of planning.” This is especially true in the example of widening the streets but not moving the utility posts. In this particular one, there is a lack of coordination between the government public works department and the private power utility company. The former has the responsibility of implementation but it seems to have an attitude of “it’s not my job” to liaise with the power utility company.

      “Lack of planning” is a serious methodology concern for big projects — whether in public works or in computer work.

      “Lack of foresight’ is a serious cognition problem for decision makers like the president… and voters.

      • @Edgar, Yet the plan to get elected and tromp to dictatorship is being carried out with the precision of the best MBO gurus, as if Peter Drucker himself were in front of the orchestra with a baton. I suppose if it is managing oneself, in a power milieu, planning works. But when it involves delegation or inspiring others, everything is reactive . . . because it is largely irrelevant to the master plan.

  17. NHerrera says:

    While on the subject of NEDA and infra development, here is an interesting and encouraging news:

    Trump to reconsider joining TPP trade pact (13 April 2018). TPP: Trans Pacific Partnership.

    Perhaps one of the tools Trump — belatedly — may use to counter China’s bag of tools associated with a Trade War and all the initiatives to date made by China such as OBOR (One Belt One Road)?

  18. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    Medio MAINIT NA BALITA (hot news) Eh. Pero meron nakabasa seguro pero walang
    reaksyon dito sa INTERAKSYON sa TSoH. kaya heto medio makulit, kaya
    uulitin yung nasulat na sa itaas, galing sa sariling kokote hindi kinopya: :

    Palaging naiisip ko, sa tanda ko nang ito
    dapat mahaba na ang pisi ko
    sa nangyayari sa utak makatao
    ng mga lider ng mundo.

    Will they sacrifice billion of lives
    In payment for hundreds killed
    not by bombs but by chemicals ?
    Aba Ay Iwasan naman hangga’t maari
    Giyera Mondial

    It is good Christian math that a human life
    is so priceless in any kind of strife
    Nay, a life becomes mere microscopic
    when billions are lost by bad arithmetic.

    Noon pa dapat seguro inupakan na
    kilala, kilalang nyo kung sino siya

    If alive and in office today
    That postal clerk of a US President
    no snoozer in the noodle oval
    could have ended in no time at all
    that middle east metastasis.

    • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

      What do I mean when I say sana mahaba na ang pisi ko. After US, UK and France bombed Syria’s alleged chemical weapons labs and factories, media was full of less belligerent and more diplomatic eche bucheche. More guarded and caring words for what is humanitarian than vegetarian or carnivorous was all over media. Presidents Trump and Macron and PM May and their generals have not received any positive comments on their real GOOD JOB. What they accomplished really was LIVE nuclear EXERCISE not easily done by any country. US, UK and France took the high ground, do their nuclear target practice which added to their competence and expertise for whatever. Mga Wakagens.

  19. – general developments..

    There is a slack in demand by BPOs, while online gaming operators serving Mainland China are coming… On Twitter someone mentioned that many of their employees are (non-PH) Chinese.

    I think where this is going is getting clearer by the day.

    • karlgarcia says:

      According to Sombrero, there are 200k from the Mainland here.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Still not good, but at least the Malaysians and Singaporeans hire pinoys.

      • Interesting read. I wonder if a Filipino were fluent in Chinese, he would be hired at P25,000 instead of P100,000. The companies are paying a lot for the Chinese staff and I wonder why they are even in tha Philippines. What are the corporate advantages? Curious.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Maybe for now the environment is like an American wanting to speak to an American agent or supervisor, but once they know that it would no longer matter if the on pe on the other end is a Filipino or not, they will take advantage of the lower costs.

          • Yes, possible. Or there are not many Chinese speaking Filipinos, in that employment class. Could be.

            I reflect back when I worked for Japanese owners of our bank in the US. The management was separate, and the Japanese kept it that way, and they didn’t encourage anyone to learn to speak Japanese. They liked their privacy. I sense that Chinese are discriminatory, not in a good way, I think, and it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. I know Singapore had big problems when there was a class divide between Malays and ‘ruling’ Chinese, and they (the Chinese who were mainly western educated) had to make a concerted effort to break that down.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Thanks. If there are many Mandarin lessons or if it is included in our curriculum,maybe that means the Chinese people and government allows us to learn their language.
              But thr discrimination will remain for a long time.

  20. Meanwhile, DDS made things truly uncomfortable for the empty ICC today..

  21. Francis says:

    Pardon for the excessive length of this comment. This comment is long because what I seek to achieve through this comment is to place “infrastructure” and “policy-making” (which have been tackled through multiple angles in the comments above) in a wider, broader context. I also hope to synthesize and reconcile most of the points raised above into a single, broad framework.

    “Your point 1: yes, the Philippines has always had competent people. BUT the weakness has always been not in individuals. The systems to plan and implement collectively seem weak.”

    “Now both examples show that at a simple, village or forager level, it was easy to keep people from “freeloading”.

    “Freeloading is part and parcel of the mendicant mindset of the Filipino.
    …It’s encouraged by the culture of patronage..”

    I do not wish to come off as elitist—again, I’m no expert, just some random dude on the internet and all that—but I think that Filipinos (as a general whole) simply don’t have the “grammar” and “vocabulary” of symbols and concepts to properly comprehend modern society as citizens of a mature democracy.

    This is not because Filipinos are dumb or inherently stupid. Filipinos, I notice, generally cannot look beyond family/barkada in understanding society. When confronted with the many problems of modern society, we Filipinos always seem to apply family/barkada analogies; two common cliches arise as a result in political discourse: all we need is “unity” in politics (without seemingly asking the elephant in the room: “unity” for whom, and how shall that concept be filtered through structures and patterns of society—class, religion, region, ethnicity and whatever else?) and <em<all we need is to put the "good" people in charge (<without asking: how shall we ensure that the "good" people keep coming?). There is not much systemic thinking happening here and this shows, even among the "educated" portion of the population—fond of talking about how they are always "smart-shamed" by the "dumb" masses.

    Note how these two cliches pop up even among the opposition, even among reformists; the only ones who don’t rely on these cliches are the Left, and the only ones outside of the Left who don’t rely on these cliches are members of the academe.

    Again, I reiterate that this does not mean Filipinos are stupid. Only illiterate in the “vocabulary” and “grammar” of modern society, which I guess would be ideology; Filipinos and Filipino politics is unideological. Ideology is often defined as a package of ideas that conceive of and promote a certain ideal society that entail and imply a programme of action or otherwise, a platform of policy to attain.

    Ideology is (1)perception, (2)ideal/goal/objective and (3)action.

    Ideology is a product of modern, complex society; it provides “grammar” and “vocabulary” to talk about modern society in societal terms or as a society instead of a patchwork of families and friends. Especially in democracies, where citizens have to decide on matters of import.

    Why do we need ideology?

    Let us think of democracy as a machine. There is input and there is output. Input is the wants of the citizens, the “people” and the output is the fulfillment of said wants; we desire democracy because it represents us, and because it represents us—it gives us what we need and want in a way that is superior to other forms of government.

    Input = Citizen Needs + Wants  Democracy  Output = Government Policy

    But there are millions of citizens in any modern, complex society. Each of the millions of citizens have their own wants and needs. Can the “democracy machine” fulfill handle all those millions of inputs and successfully translate them into millions of correct outputs?

    Yes…in a way.

    What mature democracies do is that they simplify things: they lump together all the individual want-inputs and need-inputs into a few blobs of groups sharing common values, whether by class, religious, ethnic lines—or a mixture of these. Liberals. Conservatives. Socialists. Islamicists. Christian Democrats. Confucianists. Communists. Paleoconservatives. Hindu Nationalists. Secularists.

    To comprehend the reality of these blobs, these groups sharing common values—the concept of “ideology” arises. To live in the reality of these blobs in mature democracy, requires the practice of ideological thinking.
    (whether we are conscious/aware of it, or not).

    In the abstract world, the millions of interests (of input-needs and input-wants) are summed up in the “blobs” which act as simplified shorthand, which we call ideology. In the concrete world or reality, these “blobs” of shared interests/values are reflected in political parties, who input the simplified shorthand of their interests (ideology) into the “democracy machine” which churns out policy and program.

    Observe the correspondence between concrete and abstract realities.

    Concrete Reality:
    Millions of People/Citizens/Voters =>simplification/aggregation=> A Few Political Parties  Democratic Government  Government Policy

    Realm of Thought/Abstract Reality:
    Millions of Interests =>simplification/aggregation=> A Few “Ideologies”  Public Discourse & Debate in a Democratic Framework  Zeitgeist/Prevailing Norms of Society

    The West, after centuries of trial-and-error, breathes this like air; virtually second-nature at this point. Which is, I suppose, why party-building efforts are a bust; it’s like a fish teaching a person how to swim.

    Again, I reiterate that Filipinos are not stupid for not comprehending this. Only “illiterate” as it were.

    Here is the example of the gap: even the most average Republican and Democrat would understand those labels “Republican” and “Democrat” as entailing certain values, that in turn imply certain policy reflecting those values. That hypothetical person may not 100% agree with “Republicans” or “Democrats” but may feel that his interests/values are represented significantly by one or the other, and thus may be “aggregated” into one of the labels. In short, the average citizen in the West—regardless of intelligence or level of formal education—has access to “language” (“ideologies” and “ideological concepts” i.e. “Left,” “Right,” “Conservative,” “Libertarian,” etc.) that allow him to simplify his interests and combine his interests with other people, so as to effectively participate in public discourse and governance of a complex society as a citizen.

    That allow him to have a simplified view of society as a whole, along with a simplified view of how his values and interests can alter/interact with society.

    There is a debate about values, which implies a debate about policy.

    Filipinos, on the other hand, argue about people. Personalistic. Like this complex, modern society is a huge barangay, and all we have to do to solve our problems is to slap the other guy’s back and say, “Okay lang ‘yan.” Very narrow.

    Before one says that I am being Westernized, I would like to note that non-Western societies can think and offer frameworks on a societal level akin to ideology: Islamic parties in the Middle-East, the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, Confucianism, etc.

    Which is not to say that certain Filipinos have tried to set up systematic systems of thought; Diliman is a womb that has birthed many—which have (in my opinion) sadly either been limited to academic circles or forgotten in some library somewhere.

    What is not lacking is not ideology but ideological thinking on a mass-scale to the point where it is second-nature even to the average citizen, who has access (by osmosis) to a “language” that allows him to have a societal-eye’s (a “systemic” view) view—as we have noted above with the “average” Republican and “average” Democrat, etc.

    But I think that, in bringing up “ideology,” I have muddled waters.

    A potential question:

    “What does this have to do with things like regional planning, calculations about local, optimizing operations for efficiency and scale and regional gains? These don’t seem like political things—these seem like very common-sense, practical things.”

    We should be aware that multiple varieties of “systematic” thinking have been raised in the discussion in the comments.

    For example:

    “1) Regional plans (and the law regulating them) that make sure different areas are allocated to certain purposes. That explains a lot of stuff for me,… 2) Land use is the more local level, and very detailed. A lot in the center of Munich may have something built on it, but the next one who builds may have to build exactly 5 stories to meet the height of other buildings in adjacent lots…3) Forecasting as a planning method. Roads to nowhere make no sense…4) Financing…5) Prioritization of projects from the useful ones…”

    Is a “managerial,” technocratic “systematic” way of thinking—as opposed to the “ideological” way of “systematic” thinking detailed above.

    What is the relationship between these two? The schema earlier used is important in this regard.

    Concrete Reality:
    Millions of People/Citizens/Voters =>simplification/aggregation=> A Few Political Parties (1) Democratic Government (2) Government Policy

    The difference between “ideological” and “managerial” systematic thinking is that the first focuses on answering the question “why-how” or “why-BIG-how” while the second tackles the question “how” or “small-how.”

    In “ideological” systematic thinking, the question dealt with is “why-how” because it tries to resolve what values society should prioritize (the “why”) AND the general direction of the actions (hence, BIG-how) whereas “managerial” systematic thinking deals with the question “how” because it deals with the technical details, the specifics of what must be done—hence, SMALL-how: the fine-tuning of the BIG-how.

    To return to our schema—the schema for our the “democracy machine” can be thus broken apart like this:

    1. “Ideological” Systematic Thinking allows for the public, the citizenry as a whole to participate in setting the OVERRIDING priorities of society, and the resulting OVERALL direction of government policy.

    It takes place here, in arrow (1):

    Millions of People/Citizens/Voters =>simplification/aggregation=> A Few Political Parties (1) Democratic Government (2) Government Policy


    2. “Managerial” Systematic Thinking is where the experts, the technocrates translate the cues from the public, the citizenry as a whole into concrete policy. They fine-tune the OVERALL direction of government policy into SPECIFIC programs.

    It takes place here, in arrow (2):

    Millions of People/Citizens/Voters =>simplification/aggregation=> A Few Political Parties (1) Democratic Government (2) Government Policy

    In a way, the citizenry as a whole is (supposed to be) the CEO and the middle-management who enforce everything are the technocrats. ..

    How does all this mumbo-jumbo exactly relate to…(concrete) infrastructure stuff like railways and bridges? I guess:

    Railways, Bridges, Etc. = Output, “Policy”

    And in a way, we can consider systems that facilitate “ideological” and “managerial” thinking to be “infrastructures” as well—i.e. political parties for the former, policy-making bodies for the latter; systems that facilitate ideological thinking, we can dub the “infrastructure of participation” (as it allows for citizens as collective political body/bodies to decide the direction of society) while technocratic bodies like NEDA which handle “managerial” thinking for society can considered as part of an “infrastructure of action,” both of which being akin to the “software” of our society, if infrastructure be the “hardware” as it were.

    And as Irineo pointed out, (concrete) infrastructure alone is not enough.

    “How to bridge the gap between the “native” or “barangay” mentality that wants things done at once and the “elite” or “modern” mentality that understands planning and execution?”

    As noted many times—there is no shortage of good people. For a developing country—we have a relatively robust (if somewhat underfunded) education system. Technocrats, we have dime a dozen.

    Unfortunately—as Marcos has shown during the dark days of the dictatorship, and as Duterte has shown with his gut-fueled abrasive handling of Boracay—our system of government is such that politicians can easily overpower our experts and technocrats. Our “infrastructure of action” is heavily restricted.

    And as the relatively anemic level of genuine participation among the citizenry—and downright lack of experience and opportunities among the few willing, who lack defined and well-worn structures like political parties to participate meaningfully—indicates, our “infrastructure of participation” is…lacking; only the relatively few activists and advocates from civil society can speak up—as the ordinary ABCDE Filipino are either dismissive (worst-case scanario) or perplexed (best-case scanario) at what these “pilosopo” know-it-alls are actually doing.

    “Policy? What is policy?”

    Which means that technocrats don’t have a sympathetic base of politicians and citizenry to support their initiatives—which means that technocrats and civil servants are all the more vulnerable.

    Improve the software, along with the hardware.

    A random thought, to close this overly long comment: it is quite odd that we’ve always focused on physical outputs like classrooms, books and chairs in improving our educational system, and we’ve always lavished our attention on these…

    …but we’ve never given as much attention on improving quality i.e. raising NAT/National Achievemet Test scores, and perhaps placing more funding into our normal colleges that produce our teachers.

    • Francis says:


       = ->

    • I trust you would not mind if I published your comment here as an article to give it greater readership? It is your original thinking, Francis? It might be in a week or so.

      • Francis says:

        Thank you. I won’t mind at all.

      • Francis says:



        Nothing I’ve said is absolutely original or has not been said. A lot of the things I’ve stated in the comment above have been said by other people, if under more technical and professional-sounding labels. 🙂

        My goal with my comment has been to translate what bits, scraps and few key academic concepts I’ve picked up from my pol sci classes and assigned readings (i.e. like this one, which has been very influential to my understanding of political parties and why I always keep ranting about them: into something that average citizens can understand. Especially useful in these partisan times.

        (In fact, it is my opinion that a lot of grief and frustration in the public square experienced by ordinary citizens could be avoided, if our social studies classes included not just history and “civic studies” i.e. how to be a “good” citizen but also some basic concepts of political science—which is quite frank in how it portrays politics as a flawed, human thing. The problem with a “social studies” that primarily focuses on history and “civic studies” i.e. memorize what is in the constitution, etc. is that it makes people have a simplistic and naive, highly moralistic and overly idealistic view of politics; it only sets them up for disappointment and cynicism later on—the same cynicism and disappointment that leads to into the embrace of snake oil salesmen.)

        If there is anything original with the comment above, it is that I have taken the liberty to play around with said concepts (which I fully admit to not having a comprehensive understanding of—at best, just the result of some skimming and scanning of some passage in some secondary/tertiary source that seemed interesting) and to arrange them into some amateurish, patchwork, frankenstein ad hoc interpretation—again, am no expert, just a normal guy with too much time on his hands making bola-bola. 🙂

        • Informed laymen is what we all are over here.. Joe, chempo, Edgar, josephivo, Karl, me etc.

          Even if we have our special areas. A lot of experts in the Philippine context have difficulty in expressing themselves simply, a legacy I think of trying to impress colonial masters/teachers.

          Trouble is, they leave their fellow Filipinos in the dust, to become similar to the DDS who cheered Duterte in HK or in the the Hague. Much like the Filipinos who enrich themselves leave their fellow Filipinos in the dust. Both wealth and knowledge are insufficiently shared back home.

          There is a saying that a mountain guide has to stay close to those he is guiding – he can’t be 100 meters ahead, on the mountain that can mean 30 meters above. And consider their stamina.

          Ideas simplified help make them more digestible for discussion – and for further dissemination.

          • Francis says:


            “A lot of experts in the Philippine context have difficulty in expressing themselves…”

            That is an understatement.

            Una, hindi pa Filipino ang sinusulat ng ating mga propesor; na-nonosebleed tuloy tayong lahat.

            Second, is the sheer gap between the academe and the ordinary people, not just DE but simply everyone—ABCDE.

            The way I see it, public discourse (and the whole interest aggregation thingy in the scheme in my comment above) is aided by the fact that experts and academics tend to express themselves in three ways:

            1. Short-Form Comments and Journalism. This ranges from tweets to FB posts and short broadsheet opinion columns. Not comprehensive nor detailed. Meant not to offer a comprehensive view or framework, but a response towards a relevant issue; application of a theoretical framework is implied. Examples include tweets and the short opinion columns in the Inquirer.
            2. Long Form Journalism and “Pop Science/Philosophy” Books.
            This is a general overview of a given topic or subjec written by an expert or a journalist who works often with said experts. Comprehensive—but not detailed by academic standards. Meant to offer a comprehensive view or framework—but this view or framework is not “detailed” as it assumes said framework/s and view/s as “taken for granted” or “assumed to be true,” in contrast to academic books below; as such, often polemic or opinionated in tone and meant to advance a certain agenda. Translates academic concepts into language that is accessible to the general public, and is main bridge between ivory tower and masses in general. Examples include the Guardian’s Long Read and Freakonomics. Marx’s Communist Manifesto counts too.
            3. Academic Books
            This is a genuinely deep treatise of a given subject or topic, written by an expert. The audience are fellow practioners and experts. These books are often published by universities. Comprehensive and detailed by rigorous academic standards. Meant to offer a comprehensive and detailed framework—this is explicitly defined and is “detailed” in the sense that it is loaded with information and carefully structured; the framework(s)/view(s) are not “taken for granted” or “assumed to be true” but carefully and methodically proven—as such, the language of many academic books is one of of dry self-doubt and neutrality. Even when meant to advance an agenda or particular viewpoint—academic books do not sacrifice nuance and often are loaded with caveats not mentioned in their “pop sci” versions. Examples include Quimpo’s “Contested Democracy: Philippine Left in the Philippines After Marcos” and Claudio’s “Liberalism in the Post-Colony.” Marx’s Das Kapital would be the #3 version of #2’s Communist Manifesto.

            The way I understand how public debate functions given these instruments is that:

            #3: Provides the explicit theory and foundations for such.

            #2: Makes aspects of the theory accessible to the wider public, generally the “education” segments.

            #1: Applies theory in contemporary/current times. Due to briefness of length, theory is often “implied” or simplified in a manner that limits insight of theory applied.

            In the Philippines—any cursory look at NBS and Fully Booked indicates that while #1 is abundant (observe all the FB Posts, Inquirer, etc.) and #3 is in most shelves—#2 does not exist.

            I am not kidding.

            If the non-fiction book isn’t an academic book—it’s merely a collection/anthrology of columns written by public intellectuals. This is…not good. Imagine if Picketty’s Capital in the 21st Century was written in the form of disjointed opinion columns. You do not see the likes of Paul Krugman gather their columns at NYT and staple them together in a scrapbook-esque fashion.

            Yet—literally all public intellectuals in the PH do this and publish in this style. It’s…not conducive to generating effective debate. Honestly, I doubt how anyone can get a comprehensive understanding of anything via an anthrology of short opinion articles; even if arranged by themes, it’s just…not the same.

            You won’t get a comprehensive understanding because #1 is just radically inherently different from #2 and #3. #1 provides “case studies” of how theory interacts or clashes with a particular, current reality but #2 and #3 are different—they aim to generalize insights often discussed in #1 into a cohesive framework or way of understanding, only differing in depth; these generalizations have the potential to be…timeless. In short, #1 is intrinsically bound by time and place, by context—but #2 and #3 is meant to be…both “of” and “beyond” context.

            Put simply, #1 is a briefer on what’s on the ground right now but it is via #2 and #3 that we engage in reflection and meditation.

            This is a gaping hole in our national discourse.

            …honestly, it is not surprising that there are reading Filipinos out there who likely know much, much more about America than their own country.

            • Francis says:


              “educated” segments not “education” segments

            • Francis says:


              Exception to these are biographies and biographical material in general.

            • Maybe something similar to the “Conversations” the Italians loved using in the Renaissance (like Scala and Galileo that I mentioned) would be a way to realize #2 in the Philippines.

              Probably the literary device of having around 3 people talk about something at length kept the discourse from getting boring for readers. One must also remember that at that time, Italy was slowly making the “volgare” (everyday Italian) a language of discourse, replacing Latin.

              • One more thing… #1 is prevalent because even intellectuals in the Philippines are part of the high-context and barangay-oriented type of culture. They expect those taking part in the conversation to know what is going on.. what is worse is journalists like that.. example:

                I say: “Heinz and Wolfgang were drinking the whole night yesterday. After 3 hours Wolfgang beat up Heinz on the way home. Jürgen met Wolfgang later and talked with him the rest of the evening but did not know about what happened before”. Fictional story based on real names.

                You will ask “So WHAT?” The context invented for a rough neighborhood is that Heinz dislikes Wolfgang, they quarreled once. So that they drank together is surprising – or it was an attempt to mend fences that ended in a new quarrel. Jürgen is BFF of Heinz but knows Wolfgang also.

                People who have not DIVED into the context of Philippine news will wonder what all these he said she said headlines of most Philippine papers mean. Rappler gives a bit more context. The barrio mindset is of course “huli ka na sa balita” if one asks for more context to the news.

                Of course foreign reports usually give more comprehensive context, like a drone flying over the landscape, sometimes diving. My blog tried to be a bit of a drone for Philippine history:

                What helped was that I was part of the “village” until around 1998, maybe until around 2001. After that i was totally “huli na sa balita” and did not bother to catch up anymore – until recently. That is why my summary of Arroyo and Aquino periods is still a blur, snatches of telenovela..

    • Francis says:


      Technocracy without politics…policy “without” politics…technocracy on auto-pilot…is akin to jack-of-all-trades…

      Compare the passionate, partisan policy thrusts of Conservative and Labour in UK to the…”tries to check all the boxes and do everything”-ness of our PDP/Philippine Development Plan.

      Which is not say that it’s bad. It’s good in the sense that the plans in PDP are S.M.A.R.T but…in democracies…policy without politicians being personally invested (and by implication, without citizens being personally invested) either won’t ultimately get implemented…or if implemented, will just get butchered.

    • NHerrera says:

      Hear, hear!

      Francis, your comment about the unoriginality of your thoughts may not be quite right. Putting various, perhaps scattered/ unorderly, thoughts from your experience as a student of pol-sci and other sources and putting them together — in the way you did — is the original part. It is akin to how things are done in the hard sciences and technology, even in math. That is how these hard sciences have progressed. Thus, not to diminish the contributions of the giants of the sciences, I believe they have borrowed quite a bit from others, past and present, but they put their borrowings together, inserted their own, and voila’ come out with something remarkable others were not able to do.

      By the way, the wholistic way you packaged your comment, including the schemas appeals to my engineer’s mind — an elderly engineer who has evolved with age, but still basically an engineer.

      I am glad Joe plans to put your thoughts as a separate article in TSH.

    • Excellent (and great that Joe is publishing this.. the sharpness of expression is like wow)

      1. “When confronted with the many problems of modern society, we Filipinos always seem to apply family/barkada analogies;”

      1a. The Katipunan used “kapatiran” as its analogy. Under the concept of “kabutihang-loob”. The trouble is you can’t be “mabuting loob” or a brother to everyone, not even in your own city.

      1b. There is also the Filipino concept of “kapwa” as opposed to “iba”. One shares with kapwa while iba are not necessarily Negritos from Iba, Zambales, but are not important to one at all.

      1c. There are new concepts centering around the “ka-” prefix: kaeskuwela, ka-frat, kabaro etc. Concentric circles of belonging outside the innermost circles. Already an improvement.

      1d. Everything is personal, like you said. The Mayor of the Philippines talks to all of us personally. That is why we either love him or hate him. Ka-DDS tell yellows to leave. Probably this is what peopled the entire Pacific. A barangay grows, splits, the losers take the boat and go elsewhere.

      1e. Different interests become zero-sum games, as Philippine society has not developed mechanisms for dealing with them. Again this must be because Austronesians usually had the option of moving to another island. Even Filipinos, just half a million in the time of Lapu-Lapu. – this is my article on how I think the Filipino mentality developed, as opposed to the European mentality which developed based on space that was limited on land and conquering people that came on horses, not boats. Fluid vs. solid.


      2. Managerial thinking.

      2a. The barangay did not need any experts. Everybody knew more or less how to plant rice. Everybody knew more or less how to fish. How to make houses, There probably was already some specialization as to metalworking (panday) especially in cities like Manila which had its own master cannon maker (Panday Pira), maker of lantakas, in weaving which is a craft mastered by both Igorots (North) and Lumads (South). Were the makers of caracoas (war boats) specialists? Probably, if one knows how big these proto-catamarans were. Herbal healers were specialized.

      2b. Colonialism reduced the capabilities of barangays. Friars trained scribes to write for them. Scribes were part of the colonial system. Universities like Santo Tomas produced people who worked for the conquering foreigners. Specialization became equated with oppression, maybe?

      2c. Other civilizations – Islamic, Western, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian – went through processes of “agglomeration”. Villages became tribes, Tribes became peoples. Peoples became kingdoms. Kingdoms were conquered by empires. Nations were carved out of empires. And more. The first Swiss Constitution was very simple, just an alliance of three mountain valleys against people from outside, and included penalties for killing a fellow citizen, or burning other’s property. Over centuries that developed into a modern state, but that included many internal civil wars.

      2d. In the Philippines, the national state was the successor of the colonial state. The powers of a Philippine President were modelled after those of a Spanish or American colonial governor. The army and police were mostly used like in colonial times – to keep the barangays under control.

      2e. I was surprised when I read in the article I found about sects and vigilantes in Mindanao that landowners already started hiring goons in the 1920s – wiht Americans watching. On one hand, thuggish Filipinos will like the “opportunity” of being able to work for gangster rulers, as many of these future warlords (that was the term from 1946 onwards) became trapo families. The honest Filipinos either made their peace with these families or moved to slightly more civilized Manila – or completely abroad. So what is a specialist for the ordinary Filipino? Either someone who is quietly profiting from the system, bowing to the violent lords of the country – this is the experience they have of the entitled, can’t blame them – or an “activist”, favoring another set of goons, the NPA. Can’t blame them for seeing Duterte as the “mabait” version of the ruling “berdugos”. Disentes are seen as those who use “berdugos” but don’t want to get their hands dirty. Constant repetition of stories about Hacienda Luisita has seen to that. In Italian, “Mafia borghese” = berdugong burgis. – this is how I theorized on order developing. Duterte I placed on Stage 4: God-King, like an ancient Pharao. Stage 5 is that of Prophets who challenge God-Kings with ideas, Stage 6 is moral lawgivers who make new, abstract laws in place of what the Pharao says. Moses, I theorized, challenged the Pharaoh, but found out that former slaves were disorderly without a Pharaoh to scare them, so he invented a God in Heaven and come down the mountain with the Ten Commandments from that new “Tatay”, to discipline them.


      3. We are pasaway (c) Karl Garcia. Why No. 3? Because all good series are trilogies of course.

      3a. Even if someone has not gone against any rules, personal dislikes dominate – see the Supreme Court acting like a “barkada” against Sereno. See the barkada or tsuwariwap mentality of Digong’s entourage. Even Aquino III occasionally acted like protecting his KKK.

      3b. Rules are fluid like diarrhea. The weird justifications for not counting 25% shading but 50% shading by the PET recently – like WHAT? Quo warranto chanted by a scary-looking man as if it was voodoo chant that will make us all freeze if his face doesn’t. They serve people, Not order.

      3c. The idea of rule of law as self-limitation for the good of the entire society has not yet entered the minds of most Filipinos I think. In the 1483 Dialogue on Laws and Legal Judgments, Bernardo Scala uses the typically Italian method of “Conversations” (Galileo used this too, his characters are Simplicius and Salvatius, I think it was the Italian way of bringing the written closer to the people, somewhat like the short conversations in “Pugad Baboy” comics) and asks this question: “But are we right, after all, to venerate written laws? Why shouldn’t we follow the example of the Spartans? They avoided endless lawsuits by simply doing whatever the wealthiest citizens decided. Another well-known substitute for laws, he points out, is the judgment of a prince or his proxies. The Turkish sultan delegates full judicial powers to pashas, who decide criminal cases without written laws.. Surely we should trust a few good men to grasp natural laws more truly than the low-life tribe of lawyers?..” and then Bernardo Macchiavelli (father of the famous Niccolo) answers “If we could find one or a few trustworthy men to make and apply our laws.. that would save the rest of us a lot of trouble. But even the wisest people disagree about what is just or unjust by nature. We have no choice but to make laws by common agreement, and to take whatever pains we must to try cases as fairly as we can..”

      3d. “Conversations” of all types are taking place in the upper and by now also middle reaches of the Philippine body public, the “res publica” (public matter) is being discussed. The equivalent to discussions in the Greek agora at times, often loud, or in quarrelsome Italian republics with their extreme partisanship and their dramas of families and groups.. or at best like the kind of battle of ideas that John Locke and his kind took part in, and led to the idea of modern democracy, with writings that answered the absolutist “trolls” of their times. Words are gaining some substance.

      3e. Where to reach the people is the question? One Filipina say this on FB, as a comment on a lady from HK who said it’s okay for people to be killed “kasi drug addict naman sila”: Hindi po tayo ganyan, Ate. Hindi po tama yan. Pero kung yan ang ikaliligaya nyo, wag po tayong magrereklamo kapag kamag-anak at kaibigan at kapitbahay natin ang patayin, at wala na ang dati nating kinilalang bayan. Good luck na lang. – but people like that must have their own ideas as clear as in 3d above, not only repeat buzzwords ordinary Filipinos now distrust.


      Done this 25th day of April in Munich, Germany, in the year of our Lord 2018.

      Book III, Series 2, Number 18. Quo warranto nenhum nihil obstat.

      Sicilia est insula. Italia est peninsula. Gallia est divisa en partes tres.

      ——————————————— cut here, please use scissors ————————————

    • In the same line of thought, as part of the Filipino “Conversations”, Dr. Gideon Lasco writes:

      Filipino homes are clean, but our streets are dirty; the reach of our concern, just like our walis tingting, does not extend too far beyond our gates and fences. “Tapat mo, linis mo,” the motto says: You clean what’s in front of you — and we have been happy to take it literally, disclaiming responsibility for places we do not regard as ours.

      Thus, you would see people opening their car windows and casually throwing a plastic wrapper on the street. Not my concern, their actions imply.

      Thus, you would see beaches and mountains littered with trash especially in the aftermath of holidays, like the recent Holy Week. Not my backyard, they seem to say. Of course, if those pieces of trash happen to ruin their photos, they would remove them — if not with their hands in vivo, then with Snapseed post facto. Photographic backgrounds, just like dwelling places, must be kept clean.

      Perhaps a lack of awareness is part of the reason people are so irresponsible when it comes to the environment; a lack of awareness, for instance, that animals terrestrial and marine can choke on plastic — and that ultimately all the environmental damage we have wrought will come to haunt us. Before modernity, everything — e.g., banana leaves to wrap suman and puto bumbong—was mostly biodegradable and the damage that plastic can do has not yet seeped into our consciousness.

      But I suspect that another reason has to do with our centripetal notions of social responsibility. We value cleanliness, but only within our vicinity. We value beauty, but will act on this sentiment only when we are involved.

      Beyond environmental conundrums, this narrowness of thinking affects other aspects of our public engagement. Roads are seen not just as sites for littering but also as parking spaces, or playgrounds. Obstructing traffic? Never mind. What matters is our car has a place to park. Unwilling to give way to others, even for a few seconds, drivers block intersections and cut lanes, making heavy traffic as much about culture as it is about infrastructure.

      Crucially for our time, issues with fatal consequences are subject to a similar attitude. For instance, the war on drugs. As with polluted streets, many do not see extrajudicial killings as their concern; it is as distant to them as the hunger many of our countrymen experience daily. Not my community. Not someone I know. Personally, I feel safe. All of us actually value human rights—of the people who matter to us. That is why even the President calls for due process for himself and his son, while seemingly denying the same to others.

      It should come as no surprise, then, that various struggles—from those of the displaced lumad and the disaffected Marawi residents to those affected by the TRAIN law and Boracay’s imminent shutdown — receive little attention beyond those who actually experience their consequences. “It’s their fault for not being careful,” some say of vendors disoriented by the new P5 coins, blind to the economic significance of such numismatic confusion, and to the reality that we live in the same cities—but very different worlds.

      What can explain our “collective selfishness”? Has our archipelagic geography mapped on to our fragmented thinking? Has our colonial past socialized us to be suspicious of others? Has the project of nationhood, built on unrequited hopes and broken promises, made us cynical of solidarity?

      Looking at our troubled history will help us answer these questions. But we must also look ahead—and ask ourselves what we can do to build empathy for people we do not know but with whom we share a future. Cannot the common good be at the heart of our ethics and our politics? One thing is clear: We are held back by pagkakanya-kanya, our version of selfishness that includes our families, friends, hometowns, regions, and affiliations, but no one beyond; a selfishness that leads to indifference, the same indifference that allows us to look at others and, without articulating it, tell them: “Your struggles are of little concern to us.”

      Or, and just as equally hurtful to our nation-in-the-making: “Our struggles are more important than yours.”

      • If Part 1, as correctly observed by Francis and by mountaineer Dr. Gideon Lasco, is the archipelagic/baranganic fragmentation of Filipino thinking – also termed the barangay mind by chemrock, Part 2 is the colonial mentality, the inferiority complex with all its effects.. BY GIDEON LASCO

        On the surface, Rodrigo Duterte may seem to be the ultimate anticolonial president: a Third World leader lashing out at his former colonial masters, and the West at large. In the 2016 Asean Summit, he brought up the Bud Dajo massacre, and one year later, he would call on America to “give us back those Balangiga bells.” He has called out European nations for their hypocrisy, and he recently called Canadians “stupid,” accusing them of treating Filipinos “like garbage.”

        Some might call him brave to speak to Western countries in such strong terms. But at his core, Mr. Duterte reveals himself to be a fully colonized subject.

        In the first place, his anti-Americanism is not ideological, but personal. He was very offensive to Barack Obama, but deferential toward Donald Trump, even singing a song “upon the orders of the commander in chief of the United States.” On multiple occasions in the past, he brought up the denial of his application for a US visa, adding a personal bitterness insofar as the United States is concerned. His opposition to America, it seems, is not based on Uncle Sam’s historic wrongs, but based on his own experiences—and who is criticizing his war on drugs.

        What makes his attitude worse, however, is that he borrows the same racist mindset that’s also part of the colonial legacy. He has, for instance, insulted blacks — i.e., describing Obama as “so very black and arrogant,” ridiculing the blackness of an American immigration officer, and even referring to a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as “that black woman.” Instead of showing solidarity with other peoples of color, he seems to have acquired what Frantz Fanon calls “borrowed colonialism.”

        Another evidence of Mr. Duterte’s colonized mind is the selectiveness of his posturing: While he talks tough against Western “imperialists,” he seems to have no problem with the imperialism affecting our very shores. “Realistically, we are no match against China,” he says — a statement that, regardless of its veracity, no thinking president of a proud nation would say. “I need China more than anybody else… I just simply love Jinping,” he said shortly before leaving for the Boao Forum.

        In addition to his fanboy diplomacy, he hits the European Union for having human rights preconditions attached to its aid (an understandable requisite because you don’t want to fund tyrants). Yet he welcomes Chinese loans: Note the big difference between aid which is free and a loan that the Filipino people must pay back — and with relatively high interest.

        Based on his actions and words, his world view is that the world is made up of powerful and weak nations—and for the latter, geopolitics is about taking sides. This Cold-War-era thinking is reflected in his bizarre remarks about forming an Axis with China and Russia; it comes as no surprise that he once referred to Vladimir Putin as the “president of the Soviet Union.”

        The President’s world view, no matter how flawed or erratic, holds opportunities. It is true, for instance, that as part of a multipolar world, the Philippines should pursue what he calls an “independent foreign policy.” United, Asean can be a significant economic and political force that can probably push our security interests more than a Trumpian, inward-looking America—or a Xi-Jinping-helmed, expansionist China.

        But to seek new friendships does not mean ending old ones; contrary to how the President seems to view it, diplomacy is not a zero-sum game. In fact, given our shared experiences, we can use our colonial past to build ties with other formerly colonized nations. When Mr. Duterte went to Peru for the Apec Summit, I hoped that he would say something about our brotherhood with Latin America (we were once governed from Mexico and have so much in common with the Latinos); had he criticized American imperialism a la Eduardo Galeano, he may even have received warm applause. Instead, he met with Putin.

        I guess it is asking for too much to expect an incoherent leader to have a coherent ideology. But the least he can do is to speak with dignity, as befitting the head of a sovereign, postcolonial nation.

        Alas, the more he speaks, the more he reveals his colonized mind.

    • karlgarcia says:


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  1. […] note: This article was originally a reader’s comment in response to my recent blog about NEDA. I am publishing it here because I believe it warrants a wider audience if we ever hope to put the […]

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