How to get to competence in the Philippines?

Analysis and Opinion

By JoeAm

This blog is different. Rather than providing answers, I’ll provide a question. Answers may or may not be found in the discussion section of the blog article. We’ll see.

Executive Cabinet agencies in the Philippines are notoriously incompetent, even as every web site for these agencies touts their accomplishments. It’s gaslighting of a scale unheard of in modern democracies. The corruption, refusal or inability to automate, lack of organization, nonsense, and autocratic citizen services leave Filipinos with headaches, hassles, and needless expense. Food shortages are routine. There is little whole-goods manufacturing. Filipinos have to buy expensive foreign goods with weaker and weaker pesos. The Malampaya gas fields are running out with no replacement fields coming on line. Water is running out, haha, in a place wiped out regularly by rainstorms. Transportation is a mess.

Mainstream media have no idea how to report on the mess that is agency incompetence. There is so much of the stuff that they see it as normal, the way it’s always been.

Why is it hard to fix? Agency heads are friends and favorites, not disciplined managers. They are directed by events rather than them directing the events. They can’t get automation in place because they don’t understand it and their corrupt juniors don’t want it. Staff aren’t inspired to produce. They are poorly paid, see their promotions go to the nephew of the boss, and soon adopt the hangdog, grouchy demeanor citizens see as they enter the door.

Yes, there are a lot of decent, hard-working people in the agencies. It is not a total wreck. But it is hugely damaged.

How can competence be put first and foremost as the national agenda, the way Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea did it? The context is different. The players are different. Can it be done?

How can the Philippines become a richer, vibrant, more modern nation?

Specifically, pragmatically, how?


Photo from California State University, Fullerton: Tech Skills Needed in Modern Manufacturing


205 Responses to “How to get to competence in the Philippines?”
  1. I’m assuming this blog is related to Jr.’s passport hoops that you guys had to jump over, Joe?

    If yes, did you lodge a formal complaint? like in writing official correspondence and CC’ed to various heads hell to even all the way to BBM? I’m a big complainer when it comes to street maintenance, or homeless encampments, and I usually get some sort of response and usually problem solved because higher ups are now harping on their lower downs.

    So CC’ing people, I usually just email, but if its a big deal then type and sign said letter then sent to everyone in the food chain. CC’ing is key here, Joe.

    I would say it works 90% of the time here, so long as its solvable, and a lot of it is most heads of departments just don’t know whats going on, and outside feedback from citizens and customers are really welcomed, from a boss’s perspective too, its like your previous blog knowledge and power,

    you the letter writer (complainant) are giving the boss knowledge so they can use their power, which is what bosses like to do assert their authority make everyone be responsive. its a scratch my back I scratch yours relationship really. you’re basically acting as the higher ups agents providing them reasons to beat their peons.

    But once you start disparaging the whole organization, they tend to close in and defend, so don’t; you have to write said letter as “constructive criticism”. Be courteous. And keep letter short and simple and to the point. With what you want done stated clearly at the start.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Red tape is the problem, you will just get red tape complaining about red tape.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Joe had a direct line to the former DFA secretary faster than a speed dial but you can’t do that obviously.

        The lizard solution is automation, and not having a wb blacklisted company handle National ID for instance. Which we did not do,

        • Karl Garcia says:

          Unisys grabs most of the government contracts before. All is well but now suddenly we have spam sms almost daily. Who has access to our bonafides only the government. So there you go. ALL NTC could do is to send a text to beware of spam.

        • JoeAm says:

          Yes, I believe automation is a key thrust, both within government and within industries that would be built as a strategic push. The cover photo from CSUF illustrates that this thrust should be a key part of education revitalization, perhaps doubling the budget of Science and Technology high schools, and funding UP properly.

      • Have you written a letter of complaint over there, karl? what was the response?

        over here they always respond, either the higher ups respond first and essentially order their peons to get what was asked for done; or they just read the CC email chain and then after awhile make a decision, either to stop communication (they’ll say something like Thank you for your input, citizen, we appreciate it!) or to dictate the solutions of the initial complaint for their peons.

        I dunno if Joe ever did lodge a formal complaint, CC’ed to everyone, but I would include the governor and mayor, probably other mayors in Cebu, because maybe their constituents are feeling the same problems Joe came across re Jr.’s passport.

        If you cast a wide net in your CC’ing, since these higher ups know each other personally or collegiately (same law school, same basketball team, same parish group couples for Christ, etc.), but for sure include BBM in the CC’ed letter.

        Maybe Joe’s wife can be the author so Joe as foreigner doesn’t have to be involved.

    • JoeAm says:

      I don’t think complaint letters are quite the framework for competence I was hoping to find here. Everybody complains when their interests are affected. There is a far bigger picture that needs to be addressed.

    • pablonasid says:

      Philippines has a total non-confrontational architecture, both official as well as social. In a family of university graduates and progressive people, complaining still is seen as ‘difficult’. Accountability is also seen as problematic.
      In the daily society, this is even more so.
      Complaining is seen as a direct attack where we just stop discussing the subject, but we see it as a personal offense and react accordingly. Never have I had any success with a positive suggestion.

      • @Pablo,

        EJKs made DU30 popular yes.

        But i suspect the other aspect of his presidency that made him popular was that he was in the habit of telling his supporters that if they complained about an official or office they deem corrupt and or inefficient, and say they can do it better,

        DU30 himself would put them in said position or office, now I don’t know if this ever happened or how often this happened under his administration. but that concept was i surmise very popular among Filipinos, like Herman’s suggestion below of an overhaul.

        Though this one more targeted.

        So I agree that Filipino culture deems criticism as an attack on the person and his honor always taking stuff personally. and confrontation is not the norm there, but passive aggressive is, as well as revenge getting back at someone at a later time or asap, etc. those are part of Filipino culture.

        Add that to DU30’s method of cleaning up corruption and inefficiency, and that’s basically the complaint process, Pablo.

        • kasambahay says:

          among filipinos there is too much ‘amor propio’, self. and sometimes, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. not be like preachers all righteous and brimstone.

          complaining is an art, apparently and subtle. suggest solution and make it appear it does not come from you but from them, and be prepared if they steal not just your thunder but your credit as well.

        • Karl Garcia says:

          @EJK = notoriety, infamy not popularity.
          those who felt safe were in denial that ejks existed or are too stone cold

  2. Karl Garcia says:

    Speaking of national id.
    How can a BSP memo ordering banks to allow nationalids inopening accounts when they use biometrics with no signature.

    No biometrics ordered yet because the memo did not include on how to proceed, it’s a nike memo of just do it with out implementing rules and guidelines.

    It is not cheap to procure a biometric machine
    where will the authentication officers go

    etc etc

    Worse than the lotto winner who cannot claim his winnings because of having just 1 ID and no bank acount

    • JoeAm says:

      Better coordination among agencies is also a good initiative to get to competence. So noted.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        I will be also glad if interoperability of systems to achieve the said coordination happens.

        • JoeAm says:

          Yes, automation as a way to improve agencies working together. Noted.

          • kasambahay says:

            automation has to be reviewed regularly, whether goals have been reached and achieved, made better and what more can be done.

            the way things are going and the mess made, I’m presuming softwares are not compatible, and dont interface, even laptops are dubious, bought at top price but of little function like the ones at deped.

            • Karl Garcia says:

              Yes yes yo

            • JoeAm says:

              Yes, there is probably a lot of that. I do think LTO and DFA have purchased top-line systems but LTO has been undermined by LTO players intentionally jamming the systems, just as passport appointments are grabbed by DFA enabled fixers. Customs systems were also sabotaged I think. That’s why getting corruption out is so important.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                True dat!

              • NHerrera says:


                [From corruption to the scale we have springs incompetence and many critical ills of the country. Including using intelligence many officials have, I grant, to analyze and solve problems and govern properly — analysis and good governance being considered distractions to the priority of thinking about ways to make money at many levels.]

              • Karl Garcia says:

                I have already said what I know about Customs and LTO where the factory for fake licenses is just a few blocks away from the LTO head quarters and with a branch just a few meter from Malacanang (recto).

                DFA: the travel and manning agencies are also part of the problem and of course we have the trafficking syndicates.

              • kasambahay says:

                methink, lto, customs and the fake licenses factory are run and infected by the same mafia, they even have offices within howling distance to each other! extracting the bad elements in these agencies is super near impossible. faces may look different, but below the surface, they have the same agenda, the same greed, the same fixers employed and payolas received. money keeps their world round.

                the agencies corruptive activities are so widespread now and cannot be well and truly eradicated but could be lessened and contained; the populace not further inconvenient, that’s the best I can hope for.

              • JoeAm says:

                Yes, they seem entrenched. Aquino could not clean up Customs nor Locsin DFA passport appointment schemes. The keys I think are a top manager who is professional, automation, and probing down through the organization to find out who is driving it, and remove them. This within a framework of higher salaries and promotional ladders that will keep people paid and clean.

              • kasambahay says:

                I seriously think dfa fixers ought to be licensed like travel agents, make fixers legit and let them advertise their fees so we can compare and select. no need for fixers to be hiding behind wall of secrecy, really.

              • JoeAm says:

                Yes, that would be fine, as the fixer fee in relation to an international trip would be nominal, it would remove the sneaking around that thousands do, and remove much of the mistrust that goes with paying an unknown fixer. But I think the problem would solve itself if they just opened the calendar for 6 months or a year. The structural framework, I think, should be career promotions within DFA, pointing to higher salaries.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Most fixers are malcontents meaning they are legit staff wanting extra income and shortcuts.

              • kasambahay says:

                career promotions is excellent! though it has got to be tied with performance, productivity and customer satisfaction. throwing more money in terms of more pay may not solve deep seated problems as dfa incumbents are notorious for making themselves look uberly busy doing nothing! they’re also expert in stretching exercises like making an hour’s work look like a week’s long hard work complete with headaches and aching backs, and mimicking the symptoms of overwork and burnout.

                if there is transparency in dfa and all its fixers are regulated, licensed and accredited, their names and contact details available in dfa website, dfa may well function smoothly, better for us all, and there would be less complaints, methink!

              • JoeAm says:

                Yes. Makes complete sense. Thanks.

  3. I read a discussion on Twitter between Budget Babe who formerly was DBM and another person that plantilla is usually understaffed.

    OK I know plantilla can be as immobile as potted plants, based on what was reported on plantilla being Luddites at the Supreme Court versus CJ Sereno’s automation initiatives.

    But plantilla can also mean dedicated career public officers as opposed to temps that basically have to curry favor with their patrons, be it some agency heads, mayors etc etc

    I wonder if an performance rating system similar to what Jesse Robredo introduced for LGUs would help with Philippine government agencies, include feedback by citizens in it.

    Well AFAIK that system was quietly dropped by DILG so the laws of entropy I guess apply to Philippine institutions – as the Laws of Thermodynamics say that everything tends toward chaos and keeping order entails energy, I guess enormous energy and political will is needed.

    • JoeAm says:

      Yes, in my draft of solutions, I had this as my third most important initiative after the President’s competency decree and legislative endorsement: depoliticizing and professionalizing agency heads by hiring true professionals from businesses or overseas and paying them a whole lot of money to achieve specific goals like ending corruption, creating a second layer of professionals (also well paid), automating services and backroom, and providing good interface with other agencies.

      • JoeAm says:

        In hiring of foreigners, I’m thinking of how the US hired German rocket scientists to import their brains into the American rocket effort. On the business side, manufacturing could be jump-started, for example, by producing a “Made in the Philippines” mobile phone, comparable in quality to Samsung, but branded for the Philippines. Subsidized.

        • Let’s just hope those foreigners are not treated like the Beatles in 1966.

          Or threatened like Sanofi execs were during the Dengvaxia matter, just because they happened to be in a project linked with those politically “no longer in”.

          • JoeAm says:

            Right, that’s the deal-killer, isn’t it. You can’t take the pettiness out of powerful petty people. The President would have to be powerful to move past that, as did Lee Kuan Yew. Hard to see how to get there.

            But let us assume it can be done.

            • kasambahay says:

              it can surely be done only if the president is not afraid to stand alone and lose friends. instead of being dependent on them and appointing them to positions of high level and trust.

              when the president appoints people and swears them to office, he ought to explain in deep and reiterate their duties and obligations and what is expected of them all the while they’re in office. rather than presuming appointees know all their duties and obligations being friends and lawyers and previously in public service.

              if appointees fall short and dont meet expectations one too many times, they can be fired as easily as they were appointed, regardless of friendships, qualifications, and associations.

              sure, the president want to stay longer in power and he can no doubt about it, more so if he is surrounded by able and competent people, duty bound to the republic, the citizenry content and there is peace and order.

              the president’s appointees dont have to be his dearest friends or recommended by his dearest friends, they just have to be friendly and not hostile to constituents.

              • JoeAm says:

                Yes, agree. Right now I think Marcos is trying to run a good, conventional government but is being shown up by the local political players like Rodriguez and Sara Duterte. Competence requires competence at the top, and the strength to manage strong-minded people.

  4. Karl Garcia says:

    Though I know it would not happen even if we try but
    nuclear power plants need foreign expertise and if no foreigners would be hired, who are we kidding?
    What we do not want is a repeat of Chinese construction workers boxing out pinoys.
    Before a program for Cuban doctors went out nowhere fast because we do not lack doctors, they just become nurses, somewhere else.

    • kasambahay says:

      I can only think of the labor secretary who has the power to open and close labor markets, kaso ours is mostly interested in ofws!

      as for hiring nuclear foreign experts, who would want to come and work here when pay is not competitive and working conditions is sh-t!

      dapat, richer countries that promised to give us free aid, we need to specify the sort of aid we need and ask that nuclear scientist be part of the aid! and we must really be prepared to ask even the most irrelevant of questions! to clarify even the most obvious. many of our top people dont ask mundane questions maybe for fear of being seen as ignoramus. sadly, most often, it’s those mundane questions that set perimeters: the wiggle room to the next box.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Pertinent insights!

      • JoeAm says:

        Salaries for select positions in science and management need to be keyed to global or US salaries. There is a lot of money in the Philippines, some of it needs to be channeled to valuable positions. Living conditions are fine, I think, in the nicer parts of town.

        • kasambahay says:

          you could be right! money is not problem and not issue too. the office of the vice president’s 2023 fund ballooned by 223% compared to that of 2022! and house panel okayed sara’s fund in 7 minutes and without deliberations.

          • Karl Garcia says:

            Same with the office of the resident, with its executive secretary resigning and getting promoted to chief of staff after being accused of procurement and importation mess and bribery.

            • kasambahay says:

              so early in his reign and pbbm is already recycling staff: the executive secretary into the chief of staff! kaso, baka may bwelta ang pangulo at sabihin, the executive secretary promoted himself to become my chief of staff!

  5. Karl Garcia says:

    The mistake of MAGA manufacturing that it deliberately caused a trade war.
    WE do not do that if we do a MPG , supply chains are called value chains ever knowing that the chain is as good as its weakest link.

    Look what the Ukraine-Russia war created, hope it is still not to late to make it irreversible.
    We already assemble semicons, why can’t we do a phone or a computer?
    Licensed manufacturing has been a practice since ww2 here, and it’s first failure was being ill equipped for Japan.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      MPG= Make PH Great and that irreversible was supposed to be reversible.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      “Licensed manufacturing has been a practice since ww2 here, and it’s first failure was being ill equipped for Japan.”

      “The Philippine Army Air Corps had about forty planes and a hundred trained pilots by 1940.[11] The offshore patrol’s development was more problematic, with only two British boats delivered before the war in Europe cut off further deliveries and a struggle to build boats under license locally produced only one boat by October 1941.[11] President Quezon and others recognized that the naval defense was inadequate protection against a first-rate naval power, but the Philippines had neither the money nor industrial base to provide adequate naval force and relied on the assumption that the United States Navy would not idly stand by if the Philippines were attacked.[11]”

  6. hermanrexsumadchat says:

    Specifically?  Replace all elected and appointed officials of the Executive Department and replace them with officials / executives who love the country more than they love themselves. Pragmatically?  Only a bloody revolution can achieve this kind of change and it does not even guarantee that the leadership that will emerge will be magnanimous.   So, do we just wait?  Only time and the (in)finite patience of the Filipino people can tell. Regards, Herman Sumadchat

    • JoeAm says:

      Thanks for the inputs, Herman. Perhaps you are right. As a foreigner here, I don’t entertain discussions of revolution. So I am constrained to talk about achieving progress through lawful methods. I actually think a President like Marcos could impose necessary changes if he knew what they could be. He has proposed a virology lab, and it is another short step to orient education budgets to technology at UP and Science and Tech High Schools, rather than ROTC. And he can cut the commission nonsense and red tape from overlapping agencies to make investing here more attractive.

      • JoeAm says:

        On this last point, it would be good to pass an anti-corruption law as strict as the anti-terrorism law that would permit immediate jailing of suspects and intense hunt for culprits. Skeptics will say that will never happen. I say, okay, but there is a way.

        • Karl Garcia says:

          Joe remember The thing I shared on twitter where you gave me an i inspiring message? The case involving my dad and several navy officers that spanned decades is finally over and the results are positive(for my dad and some of his colleagues). We have a sandigan bayan reform law where to reduce the load of the court and pass other cases to the regional courts and some other ways to reduce their load, otherwise if you are not rich your case will reach two decades or 3.

    • Now the prevailing theory is that they most likely were capsized there (not one time but a bunch of times in waves and waves maybe due to typhoons because currents lead there, eg. lost Malaysian airlines debris),

      Further because the return trip via the monsoon winds took them to known territory (towards the Red sea and Persian Gulf then to India), they simply back tracked, that explains the back and forth afterwards. So that would have to mean some mating pairs remained then colonization (which was not as much as what happened in the Pacific, the readings on this is anemic).

      In any case Madagascar still remains an interesting study, logistics wise.

      And to connect this to the current blog,

      sometimes things happen due to accidents. no planning just the will of God and you end up there, and you make do. for those that got capsized in Madagascar, I don’t know if they lodge letter writing complaints, but i guess they’d have to CC God Himself. LOL! that was a joke only, Joe.

      • Karl Garcia says:


      • I didn’t follow that matter anymore, but I have read about a huge ship unearthed in Western Indonesia that might have been capable of the trip. Research on all that is in its infancy.

        But yes, things often just happen. Magellan actually making it to Southeast Asia was also “inshallah” as they nearly starved on the way. That is a logistics matter, or why did ships of old going from Malacca to Japan need stopovers in Brunei and Manila, maybe Palawan?

        Same reason jets in the 1970s had to many stopovers, logistics, especially fuel.

        The relation to the blog article is maybe that more Filipinos should think like captains again. Ship captains. Or in general leaders who want to take the ship of state somewhere.

        Doesn’t matter if it is drifting, or maybe run aground like the BRP Sierra Madre.

    • Karl Garcia says:



      Is it because of our Filipino-first import substitution? Why is this inadequate? We jumpstart by leapfrogging a frustrating agricultural development to the service sector, bypassing manufacturing.

      By trying to reverse the perceived and actual mistakes of import-substitution industrialization, we actually removed almost entirely the Filipino value-added in manufactured goods. Now, even a pen is imported.

      In our export processing zones, we import all the components, assemble them, then we export them. Is that what we really want for our manufacturing sector? First we achieve industrialization then export industrialization.


      Before we reach for the stars, we first shoot the moon. I made that up; I am tired of saying baby steps.

      We should not look far and look at BJ Habibie. He was Suharto’s man in terms of R&D due to his Aerospace background. When it was his turn to lead, he started to form Indonesia’s aircraft industry, Military-Industrial Complex, and the rest of Indonesia’s industrialization.

      In one of his articles, Joe suggested we have a Military Industrial Simplex. Though simplex method has to do with operations research, that is not it. It simply means to keep it simple and not make it complex.

      What if we go that path, have a military industrial complex to jump start jobs?

      but in order for a Military Industrial Complex to happen, we must have:

      Technical know-how
      Manufacturing base
      R&D capacity
      We go the way of licensed production or manufacturing. But wait, that is what we are doing in our car manufacturing and everything else in the export processing zone?

      It is just a matter of: if we are going to do it, we do it right.

      We do the manufacturing for foreign companies but with more Filipino-value added into it and aside from assembling their products, we buy their R&D expertise (including on-the-job training in steroids).

      Then we have ship building. Let us all think post pandemic even if it is far from over.

      For this to happen we need more Naval architects and Marine Engineers. Most come from Cebu and some maritime schools in Manila. Our major universities should offer this. Perpetual University has a program, but they offer it for seafarers. They must offer it to potential shipbuilders.

      Since unlike India, which attempted to reach for the stars by shooting for the moon, they will actually do that. Ours is still in the concept and mental model stage. India is not yet the heir-apparent to China, but we must learn a lot from her and that is to include her history of industrialization and deindustrialization.

      Abaca is grown in the Philippine but others make composites out of it – Aerospace industry for instance. Filipino fashion brands and designs are into sustainable fashion.


      For us to go way past the concept stage, we rely on our legislators to the translate our concepts to action plans and if we do not get our way we go to the Supreme Court.

      Forget our forgettable ways of doing things! We are here to explore what can be done if we follow the Licensed manufacturing route.

      Insert Art into STEM to make it STEAM to lure aspiring Liberal Arts majors.
      Inject Production and Industrial engineering to all STEAM courses.
      Have Naval architecture and Marine engineering in all major Universities.
      We could benchmark from our fellow developing nations who made it big in their own way, like 20 African startups which used Japanese Venture Capital investments to help them with their success, and Romania where its internet speeds are the envy of rich nations.
      To add Filipino value-added in terms of knowledge we could have TESDA and the Universities partner with foreign MNCs to provide continuous training for all workers, but concentrate on training the trainers.
      For raw materials, we follow Ghana’s lead in recycling and repurposing Electronic waste; all we need to do is have mining experts to do the landfill mining. Those that are not electronic waste can be taken by power plant operators and have a wte plant near their power plant. If co-firingwould not work, then co-location. Another use for wastes are co-processing for cement plants.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Excerpts from Irineo’s innovation article we need to take a look.

      “Joe wrote recently: Filipinos must start thinking forward to work on “what can be” rather than being resilient in reacting to what “was”. It might be the job of historians help dispel the national PTSD of an interrupted incipient civilization. The present mess needs resilience too. As for what can be:

      1) Encourage popular education, like Prof. Xiao Chua already is doing for history and Gideon Lasco is doing with his articles and his new book “The Philippines is Not a Small Country”. Isaac Asimov wrote that popular science in America was geared towards promoting science in a country that did not like “eggheads”, as they were called in the 1950s. Any American 1950s high school movie will show you how the “guys with glasses”didn’t get dates. “Revenge of the Nerds” was a much later movie. Smart shaming has to end.

      2) Encourage teamwork WITH STRANGERS. A Filipino software entrepreneur I knew used “peer recruitment”, meaning usually the Filipinos in his teams were old college cliques. Working with them as someone NOT part of their cliques was pure hell for me and I stopped doing it.

      Outside of in-groups that trust and help each other, Filipino one-upmanship and crab rules. Don’t know if the BPO age has changed that a bit, Giancarlo for sure could tell us more. What I have seen is that Indians in IT worldwide help one another more, even in Internet forums.

      3) Encourage interdisciplinary and practitioner-theoretician communication. Filipinos who only know slightly more than others often either “deadma” them (give the silent treatment), intimidate them with lots of gobbledygook, or outright mock them as inferiors, while those who know less often plant the seeds of resentment or become outright anti-intellectual.

      Innovative firms like BMW or SAP live from communication that runs from scientists to engineers to technicians all the way to the shop floor and back via the same channels. Applied knowledge lives from constant feedback loops between theory and practice.

      With these fundamentals slowly built up, the implementation of other stuff like Karl’s ideas on institutionalizing people power (better informed by resource persons from all expertiseas well as practitioners), agriculture, industry, regenerative development and the barangay will be easier.

      Finally, starting small is the key. Romanian high-speed Internet was originally built on a small scale.

      When I came with an idea to network all Philippine Embassies and the DFA worldwide in 1995, the then IT responsible of DFA had an expansive idea of how to do it. When I said that small steps are better to finally have stable success (and more resilient, especially in those days were bandwidth was very expensive, and also resilient against hacking as subnetworks can work standalone) his answer was “we are the DFA, we should not think that way”. I wonder what DFA has today, worldwide.

      Starting small doesn’t mean staying where you are though. Sarao jeepneys were great in the 1970s. Japanese cars in the 1950s weren’t too far ahead of Sarao jeepneys, but they didn’t stop there while Sarao didn’t continue to improve and innovate.

      Now I am not Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner, I am not Bill Gates, hell I can’t even measure up to Maoi Arroyo with her biotech startup initiative. But these are my two cents, based on what I have seen, from what I have succeeded AND also what I have failed in which can teach one the most.’

  7. NHerrera says:

    The blog is timely and crucially important. Timely because we have a new broom in Malacanang. Obviously important and does not need elaborating — except to say that we do about competence will tell what we become: continue our downward spiral or arrest the spiral and start on the path towards a goal of getting out of the mess we are in and journey towards a better place.

    As Joe said in a Tweet — the path is the goal. I believe, the proverbial pot of gold at the end of that rainbow of a journey is a bonus we may never get. But we have to start on that path as of yesterday earnestly. It is confidence building.

    We may have all the beautiful ingredients and processes perfected through discussion among the intelligent, knowledgeable, creative, hard-working, well-meaning people — such as we are at TSOH, among others 🙂 — but if the new broom does not buy into it and act accordingly, it may just be an academic exercise.

    It is not rocket science. The key seems to be — how to get THE MAN in Malacanang and His Trusted Advisers to buy in and implement relentlessly the all-important journey to the pot of gold.

  8. Karl Garcia says:

    Our professional are required to renew their license every three years for now. Maybe some one will propose it will be the same as driver’s licenses were you renew it every five years and if you are lucky you get to renew it for ten years.,%20s.%202018.pdf

    but still unprfessionalism abounds
    In bureau of custom, everytime there is a new automated process proposal that comes from the vendor Unisys, the UNCTAD for un standardization, Port operator introduced IT system etc the customs employees complain. No contentment where will you see a clerk who drives an old bmw or volvo.

    • isk says:

      The continuous educational program introduced by then Sen. Trillanes helps in sharpening and updating ones’ profession , besides from the employers mandated annual training/seminar.
      In America, they have this OSHA wherein it discusses whistleblower rights and if lucky maybe awarded 15 to 30% of the amount collected by the government.

    • JoeAm says:

      I bet there are a lot of simple solutions to the messiness but it is hard to get there for the vested interests, often corrupt vested interests. If there is a framework for competence, like well paid agency heads rewarded for cleaning up, we’d see longer licensing terms and more prisoner releases to unplug things.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Presidential appoints new agency heads and they bring staff with them and tell career bureaucrats to back off. Then rinse and repeat.

        Loopholes and dikeholes are plugged but like whack a mole the water keeps leaking maybe due to overwhelming pressure or any other reason.

        • kasambahay says:

          the president should not just sit back and enjoy how his own appointees wreck havoc on the nation left. he should be able to step in immediately, bring his appointee to heel, and read them the riot act!

          anomalies happen because the president allows them and hardly gives a damn! he is already elected, surrounded by ardent sympathizers intent to keep them and him in power, and that’s it.

          the president can see by now how the nation suffers, how working class filipinos barely survive, where the country is headed and how the economy is bled to death. and if he is hoping for foreign investors to honor their promises, he has to make our country attractive to foreign investors, lessen bureaucracy, make govt agencies accountable and there is peace and order.

          instead we have news of rampant kidnappings, crumbling infrastructures, roads full of holes, unstable govt with changeable border; complete one day, subdivided the next like maguindanao.

        • JoeAm says:

          Whack-a-mole governance. That’s it, isn’t it. LGUs with no national perspective or loyalty popping up to do their own thing. National whacking at them. Perfect description.

  9. Karl Garcia says:

    Now that it is over. In 2002 my dad summarized the corruption in the military and in the government and the so called massacre of the non innocents. (practically most top PN officials from late 80s to 90s were charged)

    allow me to share my dad’s lament short of being a why me article.

  10. Karl Garcia says:

    Micha suggested to benchmark Israel for Agriculture.
    The “In-house “no that is not the word, people of Israel had been here since forever, but still farmers prefer carabaos over tractors, farmers still drown on fertilizer sana pinera na lang. There are subsidies but the shoe would not fit.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Josephivo is another foreigner who consulted for DAR if my memory would not fail me.Good intentions lead to he’ll if the implementer can not follow instructions or sariling diskarte.

  11. Micha says:

    How’s this for competence. Why would the government approve a Lucio Tan led consortium to build another Php 11 billion airport in Sangley Point Cavite when San Miguel’s Ramon Ang is already building an international airport at nearby Bulacan? And I thought they were also upgrading the one in Clark.

    Amazingly it was just the provincial government of Cavite who green lighted the project even if this is an international airport which would have been under the regulatory jurisdiction of the national government. Besides, Sangley Point is a Philippine Naval Base facility which they are now converting into a privately owned for profit public infrastructure monopoly.

    Wouldn’t this also pose safety issues and nightmare scenario for air traffic controllers trying to manage all those landings and takeoffs between two very proximate international airports?

    Lucio Tan and Ramon Ang – two Chinoy billionaires own and are in charge of the country’s crown jewels. It’s a neoliberal paradise.

    • JoeAm says:

      I suppose it is the lack of a masterplan for airports, year after year of indecisiveness in the face of increasing traffic, that allows ‘solutions’ to become ad hoc. I suppose it falls to SMC to complain if flight patterns are dangerous or Cavite will undermine the profitability of SMC’s project, but that has not happened. Competence would be a masterplan for Manila along with travel statistics, flight statistics, approach mappings, and financial statistics. More science and fewer fighting cocks strutting in the arena.

      Transportation in Manila suffers from the same problem. The fighting cock cities each want their own authority to reign supreme. So it’s all chopped up. At some point, MMDA has to have more power or do more science to find solutions with the Dept of Transportation.

      • Micha says:

        That Sangley Point IA seems superfluous. Maybe Lucio Tan just wants to have his own airport for his fleet of PAL planes – another of our country’s crown jewels he managed to grab.

        PAL already has exclusive terminal at the currently structured NAIA.

      • One thing that actually worked very well – my personal impression, and I wasn’t impressed by a lot of other stuff then – was the Metro Manila Commission or MMC in Marcos Sr.’s time.

        Possibly one reason was that LGUs had way less power then, they got that with the post-1986 Local Government Code courtesy of Pimentel Sr.

        Another reason could have been the backing of the Metro Manila Governor, Imelda Marcos herself, or the fact that there was a Governor for Metro Manila at all.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      They do not like MVP’s proposal..(same difference)

  12. Karl Garcia says:

    Timeless problem of innovation: the ever evolving Luddites armed with giant monkey wrenches.

  13. Karl Garcia says:

    This has to be tweaked and updated.
    But this partly covers degrowth concerns of LCX and other environmental concerns even the rising sea levels.

    LCX for more productivity here, I suggest you do the tweaking.

  14. Karl Garcia says:

    IATF was supposedly the poster boy for coordination yet until recently it still ended up a passing contest with Cebu regarding masking.

    It is OK to stand out and be assertive but for the right reasons and throwing a monkey wrench is always wrong.
    Plus the so called bench marking Singapore, let the National government do that and not local.
    And I do not like federalism by the way.

  15. Karl Garcia says:

    @Joe I hope some of your followers stop the insinuation that you are becoming an apologist. We just talked about the tendency a few days ago.
    Maybe part of this because all the apologists could say madumb tumulong ka na lang.

    Dumbass just help.

    • I admit I was also a bit irritated some months ago and wondering if Joe was given an offer he could not refuse by the Marcos clan. Only eventually I did see that Joe was trying to look at Marcos Jr. objectively and after a while he said it himself.

      It is of course harder for those somehow on one side or the other of that conflict to be totally objective, unlike Joe who came from outside originally.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        I understand that.

      • NHerrera says:

        To use karl’s word above, exactomondo.

        It’s the “lens.” Lend me that Joe. Although, I have a bit of that lens, being still out of the country (this answers karl’s query in the previous blog; I forgot to answer that although I meant to, karl).

      • JoeAm says:

        My visa demands objectivity, actually. It’s always a bit of a dance, oriented around the Constitution, not people. I would always argue that Aquino was allowed to have a personality, and had different information than we have. That’s true of Marcos, too. Well, Aquino gave up his Porsche, and maybe Marcos will be more discreet in partying, i dunno. They are allowed their fun. I found out the other day that President Biden has a classic Corvette. Good for him.

        • Well, I do see part of the opposition overdoing things, like maintaining there was massive cheating without having sufficient proof (yet), or harping on the $-pesos rate even if the dollar is gaining against the pound and the euro. Some are expecting too much of Atty. Leni Robredo who has done what she could in politics and will stick to her social work from now on. Lance is partly right, the opposition has some lessons to learn if it wants to be relevant once again.

          As for Marcos Jr., he is operating in a very different environment from 1972. His dependency on Sara Duterte may increase or decrease with time. Erwin Tulfo did his own thing by meeting Atty. Leni Robredo to talk about DSWD – Angat Buhay cooperation – there were people from both sides who were bewildered by this, but shouldn’t serving the people be the priority always? Of course there are the usual factions and games, with Vic Rodriguez losing against old Enrile. Or the truly weird virtual egg throwing by some DDS against loyalists. Let us see how this goes.

          • JoeAm says:

            I am still having trouble with LCX’s posts as I think they are not practical. More like flying lunatic. He suggests DFA have Filipinos go to Mexico and cross the boarder into the US. That is not addressing competence in the Philippines, which is the subject of the blog. So I’ve declined to publish three of his off-topic missives, and will continue to decline publishing them.

          • kasambahay says:

            I heart madumb! pbbm did not get my vote but since he won the count, I pray with all my heart his regime will be successful, for our nation’s sake!

            and pbbm is improving! at his speech given before stomping to estados unidos, pbbm has finally realised he has an audience and has learned to have eye contact with them. grounded na! no longer flighty. one small step for man . . .

    • JoeAm says:

      I think they’ve not read the blog so really don’t understand the stretching exercises I do now and then to stay out of ANY loyalty trap that forces me to this political side or another. I’m not allowed to engage in politics so the only way I can operate in the arena is to be an analyst, and embrace advocacy as a defense of the Constitution, not people. It is odd to receive name-calling from pinks, for sure. I blocked three or four yesterday and engaged one or two in a futile attempt to explain that I’m looking at job performance unshaded by the Marcos family history or his tax case.

      Well, I was also an outlier defending Aquino during Mamasapano, so it’s not totally new. I like Irineo’s 6 month grace period before judging. Forces a measure of objectivity. A President will never align perfectly with our wishes, but Marcos so far is aligning pretty well with mine on relationship with the US, death penalty, economic objectives, and others. I think that’s because he appointed conventional cabinet members who are giving him conventional advice. The big question is corruption and secret funding of secret projects, like in schools fer cryin’ out loud. So how he tilts, democracy vs autocracy, is still an open issue.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Thanks for your extensive response.

        • Karl Garcia says:

          stretching exercises= flexibility. Plus that is what I always tell pinoy in Europe if I thought he was exaggerating hehe.

        • NHerrera says:

          This makes sense to me, karl:

          A clean slate starting point and taking the emerging picture like an impressionist painting by the exercise of the eyes — blurring the small items, and retaining the crucial elements while still using the Constitutional Lens — is an analogy I take from Joe’s statement. This, combined with Irineo’s six-month period before making critiques, seem like a good strategy to give President Marcos Jr. considerable slack at this time.

      • JoeAm says:

        Relating this to the blog topic, I’d say competence requires objectivity. Political allegiances should be to principles and platforms, and only people because there needs to be a point of leadership when decisions are made. Name-calling is lazy argument, really.

        If a President is making competent and sensible decisions, what is to be gained by using history as a bat to pound his skull with. That is anti-competence.

  16. Micha says:

    “How can the Philippines become a richer, vibrant, more modern nation?
    Specifically, pragmatically, how?”

    Tall order, to be sure, but the only way to do it, at least in my opinion, is by having a more activist national government. Meaning it should have a more active, direct, and central role in developing our national economy.

    As for specifics, that should be the role of the NEDA. The President should direct that agency to identify industries where we have the competitive advantage and then pour in all the resources at the national government’s disposal (MMT anyone?) to develop those industries. For example, revive our nascent steel manufacturing industry started way back in the 70’s in Iligan but somehow got stalled when it was privatized and sold to the Jacintos. Copper ore smelting and steel manufacturing could beget development of other related industries.

    While we are in the process of developing those areas identified by the NEDA, we should be able to push back on the dictates of supranational institutions like WTO and IMF and put in a mechanism of trade protection. The US, Japan, Germany and other first world industrialized countries have all adopted protectionist stance in the early phase of their development so why couldn’t we?

    Bottomline, we cannot consign economic development to private corporations alone because they only have one goal in mind and that is to siphon as much profits as possible for themselves and leave the rest of the population precarious, indentured, and miserable.

    The national government should take an active part – an activist part if you will – to ensure sufficient and fair allocation of resources in the process of development as well as the sharing of wealth created therefrom.

    A dynamic middle class majority is what makes a vibrant modern nation.

    • JoeAm says:

      Excellent approach. I agree it has to be driven by central government and one of the key issues is how to end LGU interference. NEDA is now building a plan as they did for Aquino. My criticism then was that it was too detailed and not explicit enough at making headway against corruption and incompetence. The plan will be out in December if it holds to schedule. We can examine it here at the blog.

      • Karl Garcia says:


        • My present thoughts on innovation are that a stable middle class is needed first or at least a stable industrial base to start from.

          The extreme conservatism of Philippine culture that stifles innovation is because people in a risky society and economy play safe as a strategy.

          Maoi Arroyo is one of the few who innovates because she can afford to dare, just like Bill Gates was not a rags to riches story.

          My German grandfather’s uncle was something like the CFO of one of the first firms manufacturing modern internal combustion engines – because he was part of a network of upper middle class Lutheran entrepreneurs in the newly united German Reich.

 his more famous business partner who among other things built the Wuppertal suspension railway, a kind of Elon Musk of his time, was the son of a sugar factory owner. Hmm some of my mother’s distant aunts had sugar factory stocks and there was also one married to the Langen clan so one can see that the upwardly mobile businesspeople of the so-called “Founding Age” were pretty closely linked. Well, the link to the state was there too, of course the state protected nascent German industries then.

          (Of course one must not ignore that German industrialization took place against a backdrop of enormous armament including the ambition to have colonies and build a bigger fleet than Britain, especially by Kaiser Wilhelm II – Queen Victoria’s favorite grandson, who was envious of the Empire his English royal cousin had. That this all eventually led to WW1 was clear, but this is just to look at the structures that encourage innovation and industrialization, this all thrives in an environment that allows for calculated risk because it has the structures to)

  17. Karl Garcia says:

    Anti Red tape body
    nab fixers in lto evey few months in this whack a mole governance

    Proof that some are civil servants who took the civil service exam and passed.

    So active inactive hot and cold passive aggressive

    Then we have the Competion body which tries hard to be an anti trust body in a country where the owner of banks,airports and highways can be one person ehem Ramon Ang cough cough and the likes like MVP who owns, about everything in the name of the Salim Family an open secret that defies all the world’s anti-dummy laws.

    • Karl Garcia says:


      “Authorities identified the suspect as an owner of a travel agency who claimed that he had a contact inside the DFA-Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) who helped him book the appointment slots.

      The arrest was the result of an extensive case build up that stems back from a complaint that ARTA received on July 2021.

      The anonymous complainant said some travel agencies offered to book appointment slots for passport renewal applicants at the said office for an increased price. At the time, applicants had difficulty in booking slots through the DFA website as it stated that there are no available slots for the next two months.”

  18. Karl Garcia says:

    A separate this a separate that creates more agencies and layers.

    Sugar Importation
    Since Coca Cola and Pepsi Co practically eats up all he sugar requirements of the PH boxing out others. If they occupy a large part of the pie chart, why not form their own circle.

    The palace suggested that the Sugary Drinks companies import their own sugar requirements directly.

    AFP wants to be exempted from the procurement law or at least have their own procurement body.

    True that they riival the DPWH in capital intensive requirements but having a separate procurement body and or being exempt from the procurement law is a recipe for another disaster in the making.

    • JoeAm says:

      Seems so to me, too. Exactly the wrong approach.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Thanks for being in the same frequency.

        • kasambahay says:

          previously sa administration ni ex pres duterte when there was shortage of rice (maybe due to hoarding), mar roxas gave unsolicited suggestion for private firms like supermarkets to buy and procure their own rice supply directly from rice producers, bypassing govt rice agency. at that time, mar was laughed at and severely ridiculed.

          similarly now though, for coca-cola and pepsico to buy their own sugar supply for their own use is not new idea, considering both firms are in better position to know when they need sugar the most.

          for govt agencies and firms run by the govt, they would have to go along the circuitous govt’s procurement process, be at the mercy of the govt and would need a ton of patience, intay nang intay.

  19. Re Philippine Steel as mentioned by Micha, I chanced upon this video some months ago.

    It was state owned first, then sold to the Jacintos, then renationalized by Marcos Sr.

    It stagnated though and by Ramos’ time it was sold internationally then closed.

    Somehow they never managed to make more than very basic steel.

    No attempt made to connect to shipbuilding industry for instance.

    • JoeAm says:

      My sense that business planning here is the “wing it” model. Like the ag cooperatives. Great as an idea, failed as a marketing force. No body really pushes. Peculiar inertia. Another barrier to competence noted. Solutions are needed. Like, hire real businessmen rather than uncles.

    • Micha says:

      So yes, it was Ramos (our most neoliberal president) who killed the industry, sold it off to Malaysians in what could be deemed as an act of direct treason.

      We could have been leagues ahead of Japan in that industry if not for the free market orthodoxy and fundamentalism that the Ramos admin took to heart.

      And we wonder why we’re still in the pits!

  20. Karl Garcia says:

    it was sequestered by pcgg

    it made rj jacinto turn to music.
    even when he was economic adviser to Dutz, Jacinto steel could not compete with China and India……to name a few.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      oops it it was Marcos who confiscated Jacinto’s assets as Irineo pointed out that Marcos renationalized the steel industry.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        “To boost further the development of the industry, President Fidel V. Ramos created the Presidential Iron and Steel Committee (PISC) that challenged private business to take the lead in the integration program. Only three companies responded — the Jacinto Group, the NSC and the Philsteel Group.

        Of the three, only the Philsteel project, addressing the concerns of the midstream and downstream sectors of the industry, pushed through. The two others simply fizzled out mainly due to the huge amount of investments required to put up the projects.

        Cognizant of the fact that setting up a steel production facility is a capital-intensive venture, the government came up with a package of attractive incentives including the Rational Tariff Incentives and Protection Scheme concerning imported raw materials.

        Unfortunately, the incentives offered under R.A. 7103 are good only for 15 years, by which the grantees were supposed to be operating profitably, and the vision of the law attained. But the hard reality is there’s no light yet at the end of the tunnel toward industrialization.

        The incentives are set to expire this August, seriously endangering the viability of the local steel industry. This has triggered a debate on whether or not the President can resurrect or prolong the grant of the incentives without the legislative imprimatur if only to ensure the growth of the local industry.

        Industry stakeholders assert that she could do it by virtue of R.A. 7103 which recognizes the continuing rights of a certified enterprise, as well as in the spirit of the flexible tariff clause of the Tariff and Customs Code.”

        • Micha says:

          That is why it is important to stay the course in the general framework of nationalizing and subsidizing it first as it is still in the initial phase of development. It is in our national interest to do so. The fate of our attempt at industrialization hinges largely on it. We have abundant raw materials, able and competent workers and engineers to man the plant. But when you have Ramos himself saying that “the government is not in the business of manufacturing steel”, that just accelerated its demise as the private corporations it was entrusted to are unable to met the costs and attendant risks of a developing sector.

          As with the rice and sugar industry, it is much more convenient for our policy makers to just prescribe importation all the time even if that impoverishes our country in the end.

          Unfocused incompetent policy makers are the problem.

          • Karl Garcia says:

            Cielito Habito as NEDA chief’s is the one responsible or the scapegoat?, Hbito knows that markets fail.


            “Should government keep its hands off the economy? It’s often said that government has no business being in business, and that government should not be competing with the private sector in things that the latter can do better. Neither should it interfere in the working of the markets and allowing the law of supply and demand to work. Economists are often faulted for such advocacy for free markets and liberalized trade. But even the most zealous neo-liberal economists know that government intervention is warranted in certain situations because free markets do not always yield the best outcomes. There is such a thing as market failure, and it is incumbent on government to step in and correct them when and where they occur.”

            • Micha says:

              Well, seems like I have a policy ally in Habito. But if he did served as Mr. Ramos’ NEDA secretary, I wonder how much influence he did have in crafting policies for the administration.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                This was during the demise of FVR, but I find no reason to doubt Habito’s sincerity.


              • Micha says:

                Well, as with everything Filipino, it’s this tendency to ascribe personal attachments and magnify the cult of personality and then scrub whatever policy flaws that leader or policy maker has made because, you know, he’s such a good man and all.

                The approach should be objectivity. What’s the overall assessment in terms of results, consequences of policies implemented whether short or long term? Did it maximize benefits for maximum number of people?
                How did it actually led to better lives of your total population or made progress in terms of environmental sustainability?

                The rolling brownouts were cured mostly by building more pollution intensive coal fired power plants and giving the monopoly industry to private power generators. What happened to NAPOCOR? How many people got obscenely rich in the scheme? And how much precarious the rest of your population remained?

                There’s no doubt maybe that Ramos is a good and decent man. Nothing personal. It’s the policies that I care about.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Yes nothing personal and sentimental. My concern is WTO made third world countries a dumping ground of First world highly subsidized agriculture. That is the dark side of subsidies it is not a level playing field if the first world countries do the subsidizing. To expect that third world countries should also subsidize maybe asking for too much except we see that money is not really a problem with so many magical things going on.

  21. Karl Garcia says:

    Click to access Neoliberalism%20as%20Hegemonic%20Ideology%20in%20the%20Philippines–Rise.pdf

    Walden Bello called it a triumph (neolib) by default: good idea at the time because of no alternatives.

    “It was during the Aquino period that neoliberal economics started its rise
    to ideological ascendancy. I think it is worthwhile to examine the reasons for
    the ease with which it captured the heights of both academia and the
    technocracy during this period.
    First of all, it was associated with several high-powered activist
    intellectuals and technocrats close to the Aquino administration who had
    been greatly influenced by the Reagan and Thatcher free-market experiments
    in the United States and Britain. These included economist Bernardo Villegas
    and Cory Aquino’s secretary of finance Jesus Estanislao. Another key center
    of emergent neoliberalism was the University of the Philippines School of
    Economics, which had drafted the extremely influential anti-Marcos White
    Paper on the Philippine economy in 1985.
    Second, the analysis forwarded by these intellectuals was in synch with
    the popular mood. This located the economic troubles of the country in what
    had come to be known as “crony capitalism,” or the use of state agencies to
    advance the private interests of a few close associates of the dictator. The
    direct assault on the Keynesian state as the source of inefficiency, which was
    the most prominent feature of Thatcherism and Reaganism, was a subsidiary
    element in the case made for market freedom.
    Third, there were simply no credible alternatives to neoliberalism.
    Keynesian developmentalism, which promoted the role of the state as the
    strategic factor in the first phase of the ascent to development, was
    compromised by its personification in the Marcos dictatorship. As for the left’s vision of “nationalist industrialization” or the “national democratic”
    economy, this hardly went beyond rhetorical flourishes and had been hardly
    popularized in the period prior to the EDSA Uprising, perhaps owing to the
    priority that the Communist Party placed on the anti-fascist struggle, which
    demanded underplaying the view that national democracy was the
    antechamber to socialism in order to form as wide a front as possible with
    antidictatorial elements of the elite. Then, after the EDSA Uprising, the
    articulation of an alternative was derailed by the left’s preoccupation with
    the consequences of its failure to participate in the final act of the ouster of
    In short, the neoliberal perspective triumphed by default, and this absence
    of credible alternatives domestically was complemented by four developments
    internationally: the collapse of centralized socialism in Eastern Europe, which
    seemed to deliver the coup d’grace to the socialist alternative; the crisis of
    the Swedish social democratic model; the seeming success of the Reagan
    and Thatcher Revolutions in revitalizing the American and British economies;
    and the rise of the East Asian newly industrializing countries. All four had an
    impact on the thinking of the middle class and the elites, which are,
    incidentally, called the “chattering classes” because of their central discursive
    role in legitimizing social and political perspectives.”

    • Micha says:

      I would add the active nudging and pressure from the Washington Consensus guys to steer the Aquino administration into the neoliberal path.

      This segues into the trip yesterday of Marcos Junior supposedly to attend the UN General Assembly in New York. I hope he doesn’t get summoned in Washington to met with officials of the Commerce Department and the US Chamber of Commerce.

      “Pleased to met you Mr. President. This will just be brief. We still have the goods on you. Our FBI and CIA made sure of that. We heard you have a nice popular government back there in the Philippines; it would be a shame if something unpleasant happened to it.”

      “It is our desire that you cease in your stated intention to achieve food self-sufficiency in your country. Our poor farmers here in Ohio, Kansas, Wisconsin, California and in other states are currently struggling due to our economic war with China. The growth forecasts of our agri business giants like Cargill and Tyson Foods Inc. might be imperiled if you and other countries stop buying our agricultural products.”

      “Also, be mindful of any attempt to revive your steel industry because it is so much cheaper and convenient if you just buy from us.”

      “We hope to have more productive bilateral relationship for the rest of your term Mr. President. Thank you so much for coming. Send our pleasant regards to your wife Lisa.”

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Great imagination, story telling and scenario planning. Thanks Micha another productive exchange like the “class wars” moment.

      • For all we know, Marcos Jr. might grin and answer like this:

        “Donald has reassured me that our file was fed to alligators at Mar-a-Lago”

        “My wife is as always very New York.” (even wider croc grin)

      • kasambahay says:

        haha, pbbm visiting new york may also say, mr ally president, I’m actually looking for a bronze coffin similar to my dad’s for me terrific mumsy, just in case! me darling mumsy bought a bronze coffin here roughly a decade ago costing $35,000. and if you be so kind and send it to me via onboard US frigate on its next visit to subic! and dont worry about those malingering chinese pirates plying our seas, they’ll all talk!

  22. That’s why I’m very confident this leads to competence, karl. Yesterday I responded to isk (I also responded to you re climate change, karl) citing studies of how American whistleblower protection laws actually do work and identify corruption and inefficiencies in gov’t as well as private sector. those were really interesting studies, essentially demanding expansion of said laws and more protection for whistleblower to include something like a bounty program to entice whistleblowers further.

    Now as I’ve said (but again not published) whistleblower process is more internal, and usually is successful precisely because its employees already inside and familiar with the ins and outs of the bureaucracy whether public or private sector. but the opposite of this is the external i guess lets call them customers who are looking in from the outside experiencing these inefficiencies and/or corruption. So both whistleblower (brought up by isk, which I’ve commented plenty on but not published) and complaint process especially when anonymous (but named is best) are the same—

    internal & external.

    Now I don’t usually share identifiable stories here, but being that the former PNP friend I have is now in North America and with asylum case pending, let me share this story re competence and complaints (again I’ll redact and obfuscate much to protect the person in question but the whistleblower/complaint process is my point in sharing this).

    When I met this cop he was already pretty decorated, karl.

    He sticks out because this cop wasn’t really power hungry real calm and collect dude. He’s the guy that introduced me to eskrima over there, and all the ins and outs of the Philippines. He was one of the guys that introduced me to Mango Ave. but unlike other cops, never partook, he’d usually leave early after a drink or two, cuz he had like 3 young kids and a wife at home. So very clean and respectable. I stayed in touch here and there, I remember early on upon return here, he asked for tourniquets once and I (along with other folks he knew) collected like 20 or so for his unit. other than that we’d email once in awhile.

    But then DU30 got elected, I never talk to him about politics, cuz he wasn’t the type to share stuff like this, he’s more a worker bee, just give him a mission typa guy, karl. with a really dry sense of humor, he’d point something out that can be interpreted as political or complaining but you’d be hard press to get any more from him. My point is he’s a really solid dude, karl.

    If you remember early on, karl, DU30 and De la Rosa rounded up a bunch of “dirrrty” cops said to be dealing or making money of shabu. it was televised was in the news, afterwhile I got emails saying this guy I’m talking about here was one of those rounded up. I shifted thru all those footage, and I never saw him. Turns out he was among them but questioned and investigated separately, he ended up staying around the Manila area for over a year I think. I even posted about this news on here but hid my personal knowledge of the event.

    Turns out because he was a specialized unit guy, he may have stepped on some big fish and these big fish with their police contacts when DU30 was elected, threw his name in mix of cops dealing dirrrty with shabu. that’s the word I got from folks who knew him, their working theory of what happened. if you remember cops that time were getting EJK’ed themselves because they were purportedly “dirrrty”. then there were those rounded up, investigated then if they passed or nothing dirrrty found, unfounded, they were sent to Moro Autonomous Region, etc. just for good measure. trial by fire.

    There was some detail which I won’t go into that made it hard to ascertain ill gotten wealth from wealth given to him from family/friends abroad, because again he was a solid guy that a lot of people trusted, karl. But long story short, he’s in North America now and his case for asylum is solid precisely because of all that happened, and he does have documentation of being cleared, which he was eventually officially cleared of any wrong doinga year or so before the elections there.

    Now I’m assuming that most of the cops rounded up and/or EJK’ed were in fact dealing with shabu. My friend was probably one of a handful who was innocent (or maybe he wasn’t, I’m just basing my conclusion of his character from what I know of the world and how things work and my experience personally with the dude, karl).


    His arrest and consequent investigation, then eventual reassignment and more reassignment to dangerous assignments as he proves his worth to the PNP and to DU30 and to bato, all that was generated via either a whistleblower (a fellow cop snitching on him) and/or complaint (one or more of the big fish shabu dealer/s he’s pinched taking vantage of DU30 drug war).

    Not counting my friend being part of this dragnet , karl. my point is it worked , these whistleblower/anonymous complaint process shook the tree and a bunch of rotten mangoes fell off, now sure this story you can say SEE, LCPL_X, it caught an innocent man and one innocent man is enough to render the process criminal!!! but , karl, my point is just in its efficacy. So just shake the tree, karl. SHAKE THE TREE! whistleblow and write complaint letters, because something does happened at the end of those complaints, karl. its not just red tape as you’ve stated.

    The flipside is also my friend was found innocent because a bunch of people wrote letters of support and whistleblower cops also stated that other dirrrty cops implicated him. So this complaint process cuts both ways, karl, pro and con. Its all quality control really.

    Quality control is competence, karl.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Thanks for sharing, venting and exhaling. Now inhale.

    • JoeAm says:

      The commentary makes the point, to me, that you can’t have competency if the justice and court systems are engaged in personality politics rather than fact-based justice. To that end, the Philippines needs to have modern CSI tools.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        The number of jailed people vs the amount of convictions paints a picture worth a million words. What made the judge believe that there is probable cause to sign that warrant of arrest? How come after the probable cause the police disappear and leave everything to the prosecutors? Why does it take over two decades if one is lucky to have a verdict? So many questions of what else are needed besides CSI tools.

      • My example fits more along the lines of Internal Affairs in police parlance actually, Joe.

        Police getting EJK’ed and jailed maybe thats a criminal justice issue. And I’d agree criminal justice specific to cops is needed.

        But the conclusion of this cop’s saga (my friend) was that he was cleared of wrong doing. Though he was first reassigned to Manila, not jailed, as they uncover and figure out the issue surrounding the complaint/s. From there for I guess good measure was assigned to various dangerous postings, that is something similar done in say LAPD , Joe, its called the freeway treatment wherein the cops that did bad or suspected of doing bad, but cannot be fired, is reassigned to the farthest station to work, thus commute time is doubled and given the worst watch schedule, something similar among the FBI/DEA/Marshalls too where they get sent to some podunk post.

        I don’t know if you can still just report dirrrty cops like so and get this type of reaction now similar to DU30 and Bato reaction then. Because that was very instrumental I’m sure in getting dirrrty cops that weren’t uncovered by DU30 and Bato to pucker up and behave— sword of Damocles situation. And all from whistleblowers and public complaints. that’ s a big deal, Joe.

        Does PNP have an oversight or internal affairs unit in which complaints can be processed, like this: and (civilian and internal) , what’s their whistleblower process? Further more, does DFA, or other gov’t departments needing fixing have similar complaints process afforded to the public and internally to employees within?

  23. Karl Garcia says:

    Back to shipbuilding

    Bad news within good news

    “”Our naval architects are as good as anyone in the world,” says Engr. Lim. “When Soname started in 2007, we only have 10 licensed naval architect production per year; now its 34, three-fold of what we used to produce,” he added, stating that such development was spurred by the trend of shipping modernization.

    Strengthening local shipbuilding sector

    Lim, a naval architect and marine engineer by profession, indicated that the Philippines, being an archipelagic and a traditional seafaring country, can stand abreast with the global shipping only if the government would help the industry push for regulatory improvements. This includes amending the Procurement Law which states that consumers should buy or have vessels built from shipyards that already have a track record in building ships.

    “Unfortunately, we don’t have that track record of building international ships. Customers prefer to import ready-made vessels because they are not confident that our local shipyards can deliver on time,” Lim said, hinting that the 111 Filipino owned shipyards are fully capable to build vessels as it already for domestic shipping companies, however, bigger investments are needed to construct vessels for international waters.

    “The government has budget for this, in fact our Navy and the Coast Guard would import expensive ships. We already have designs here so why not build locally? By getting our naval vessels abroad, we’re giving some of our [military capability details] to our enemy; that is supposed to be our secret as a nation,” he reasoned out. “We are even capable of developing our own technology, in fact we have already deployed our first satellite in space. What we only need now is government support to be readily in place so investors would come in and policies would be beneficial to our local builders.”

    The seasoned naval architect mentioned how partial the government regulations are for local shipbuilders, disclosing that foreign shipyards are granted operations free of tax. “Their shipyard and all else within its area is a tax-free zone, a policy that is not given to local builders. There are different and unfair standards for domestic and foreign shipbuilders here in the Philippines. If we can give that kind of incentive to them, why not apply the same to the Filipino shipbuilders especially if it is for domestic modernization? It’s not about the money that we will lose from foregoing such taxes; because we will eventually earn more than what we lost,” he explained.

    A report made by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) in 2016 showed that the Philippines was ranked as the fifth largest shipbuilding nation in the world in terms of new building completion volume.

    The revenue was placed at about $1.5 billion for the construction of 38 exported ships with 1.9 million gross tonnage.

    These ships, however, were built by foreign shipyards that are based in the Philippines, to include Tsuneishi, Austal and Hanjin.”

    *(Now Hanjin went kaput)

  24. Terence says:

    Re “democracies”

    Anyone who talks about “democracies” AS IF a real democracy ACTUALLY EXISTS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD (or has existed at any time) is evidently living mindlessly and blindly in the propaganda world fed to them since a kid and/or is part of the crowd who disseminates this total lie — see “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room” …

    (CAVEAT — only read the 2 pink elephant article if you’re GENUINELY interested in the truth and therefore “CAN handle the truth” …)

    Isn’t it about time for anyone to wake up to the ULTIMATE DEPTH of the rabbit hole — rather than remain blissfully willfully ignorant in a fantasy land and play victim like a little child?

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Is this the part where I tell you Based and redpilled? Heck, someone told me that and i do not have a clue what it meant.

    • Micha says:

      I really hope we’re on to something here, Terence. Why not just tell us what this ultimate “truth” is?

    • JoeAm says:

      Well, let’s see, Terrence, you link to a rant about vitamin C and issue a variety of ad hominems that suggest anyone not agreeing with you is lacking brains or honesty, so why are you peddling this stuff here? It’s the kind of emotionalized trollish claptrap that gets in the way of knowledge. And competency.

      • Micha says:

        Haha…vitamin C is good for covid. That’s the ultimate truth Joe.

        Now we’re free. No longer a slave.

        We’ve been to the rabbit hole and back. 😀😁😂

    • Fatherlee says:

      The hollow, haughty, or ridiculing replies to Terence’s post — an infantile “kind of emotionalized trollish claptrap” — answers his final question (“Isn’t it about time for anyone to wake up to the ULTIMATE DEPTH of the rabbit hole — rather than remain blissfully willfully ignorant in a fantasy land and play victim like a little child?”) with a resounding “No!”

      Yikes… was he unaware that this is mostly a place of adult-kids?

      • JoeAm says:

        Do you know Terrence personally? Do you know this is a blog about the Philippines that has been around for 12 years? What do you want, really? Did you find Terrence’s post insightful and rich with meaning? Can you simplify it for us kids, maybe in 8th grade English? Teach us, preach to us, but kindly don’t sell us stuff.

  25. Karl Garcia says:

    Urban dictionary:

    Something that is bold and correct but also something a vast majority disagree with,
    Tied to red pilled which means to flee from false myths in exchange for getting a better understanding of the real world
    Sometimes but not limited to having right-wing beliefs
    Tim: Radical feminists are so cringe, they say women are oppressed when men face much more hardship
    Joseph: Based and red pilled

  26. NHerrera says:

    Does the High Administration Staff read TSOH? I think they do. If not, they should.

    The more wide-ranging minds — who are not petty but open to ideas, able to separate the grain from the chaff, and well-able to incorporate some of the suggestions here with the Government Agenda — may greatly help the Administration of Pres Marcos Jr, I believe.

    And if I may suggest, while on it, read too the helpful suggestions/ constructive criticsms of JoeAm@societyofhonor in Twitter. Just like him many here are rooting for the success of Pres Marcos Jr.

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