We need Grace like we need a hole in the head

by Rigoberto Tiglao on October 4, 2015

She may be a nice and decent person, all right. But, as an analogy, when a nice and decent passenger insists on taking over the job of captain of the ship you’re a passenger in, let alone her claims of qualifications to do so, wouldn’t you be angry with her?

The analogy may be stretched, but being chief executive officer of this unwieldy Republic – wracked by conflicts, the moneyed few mocking its systems, its poorest dying of starvation and disease – is certainly more difficult than captaining a passenger ship.

And if this listing ship sinks, its present passengers wouldn’t be the only ones condemned. This present generation wouldn’t be left alone suffering but future generations are bound as well to suffer the aftermath of such disaster.

It’s not an exaggeration at all to say that our country is in such a deep, deep quagmire, economically, politically and even culturally.

Remittances from overseas workers have been the engine of growth for the economy over the past two decades. The huge successes of such enterprises as the malls, the mobile phone firms, the automobile distributors, can really be all traced to the flood of money-to-be-spent sent by overseas workers.

Except for the business-process outsourcing industry started by President Arroyo more than a decade ago, there isn’t any new type of sunrise industry on the horizon that could replace the OFW dollars. Workers’ real wages (i.e., adjusted for inflation) have been falling for the last decade, and we don’t have a clue—with a runaway population growth swelling their ranks—how to help them, who make up 70 percent of the citizenry. Do we have a plan—the last one was land reform from decades ago —to redistribute income in our country, whose inequality is among the worst in the world?

The coconut industry, on which most of our farmers depend for a living, is dying, and nobody has come up with a plan how to save it with our limited resources, as it would require either a massive replanting program or giving up that kind of crop.

I could go on and on with the deep structural problems of our economy.

And then there are the immediate problems. How do we extricate ourselves, for instance, from the hole this stupid administration has pushed us into with regard to our relationship with China? Do we really want the role he imposed on us as the world’s champion against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea? How then do we handle the situation in which a full 25 percent of our trade is with China? Are we prepared to have one-fourth of our total trade be suspended as the price to pay by being China’s nemesis in this part of the globe?

The massive dole-out scheme called conditional cash-transfer program has totaled P250 billion in the past five years. Of course all studies would show that it’s been “successful.” If you gave out money, the recipients would certainly be happy, as the studies show, and they’d comply with the program’s requirements for them to keep their children in elementary school.

But what if, instead of giving them the P250 billion, these funds were used to set up factories, or to be concrete about it with an example, construct a subway along EDSA or install commuter trains from Metro Manila to adjacent provinces? Wouldn‘t those kinds of projects funded by the P250 billion generate more employment and encourage investment so that the poor wouldn’t need to rely on dole-outs because they’d be able to get proper jobs?

What are we going to do with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), after this stupid president offered them their own territory and armed forces, which Congress saw through and, therefore, refused to legislate? Are we preparing for war, which I think the MILF would launch even if only to force the government to the negotiating table?

How do we solve the horrendous traffic problem, which would get worse and worse unless new light rail systems are built now? How do we stop millions of poor Filipinos migrating to metropolitan Manila, making it one of the densest – and dirtiest – metropolises on earth?

How do we reform Congress, which has precipitously degenerated under this Administration – which can even be bought to remove a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

How do we reform the present political system – which, after Cory Aquino dismantled the two-power system – has become really party-less and thus, extremely vulnerable to celebrity politics?

I could go on and on, and I haven’t even touched how barren our modern culture has been, how notions of citizenship have all vanished so that many young people even boast that they are “citizens of the world” – a fiction, or at least one if you aren’t a billionaire who doesn’t need the protection of a state.

The point I’m trying to make: What kind of discussions have emerged since Mrs. Llamanzares announced her bid for power, what sort of topics have columnists, who are supposed to enlighten the citizenry, been compelled to write thousands and thousands of words about?

Her goddamn citizenship.

With all the problems of this country, we have had to debate whether she is a natural born citizen allowed to be president. We really need her in our national discourse like we need a hole in the head. If there were any questions on her citizenship, she should have been decent enough not to embroil this country into such really useless discussions.

We won’t even ever use in the future all the information fed to us on the issue of her goddamn citizenship – what’s natural born and what’s a naturalized citizen, the UN convention on foundlings, the supremacy or not of international agreements over national laws. The discourse would even later on have to be philosophical and psychological, like what drives Filipinos to think that somebody with little experience in government could lead the country to prosperity.

Llamanzares is right when she said she’d continue what her father FPJ has started, which was first, to make citizenship an issue in a presidential election, and second, to exploit the biggest weakness of democracy, which is the masses’ confusion over image – especially celebrity personae – their inability to distinguish that from reality, and the vulnerability to demagogues, especially if they’re mestizas.

Goddamn. I’ve had to write still another column on a candidate for president who really shouldn’t be one. Aaargh!

FB: Bobi Tiglao

SWS polls take us for fools

by Rigoberto Tiglao on September 24, 2015

With the Social Weather Stations (SWS) as its accomplice, the Liberal Party has gone on a blitz to create an illusion that Manuel Roxas II’s ratings as a presidential candidate have improved. This is despite the fact that he has done nothing in the past many months that would convince Filipinos why he should be president.

In fact he has proven to be a clone of his boss President Aquino, incompetent, brattish and with a juvenile temperament. Roxas II has been even identified with that which has helped create a hell for Filipinos commuting everyday along EDSA: the broken-down MRT-3.

His ratings in the presidential race had been stuck in the basement for two years now, even put at single-digit levels by unpublished surveys.

However with the help of SWS, Roxas II is executing a clever operation to create an illusion that he will handily beat Binay next year.

The first step in the manufacture of the deception: For the SWS to report that Filipinos like his boss Aquino more, despite his incompetence that led to the Mamasapano massacre, the continuing massive smuggling, the worsening crime so bad that people are being killed and robbed in broad daylight, and the incontrovertible fact that workers’ real wages have been cut despite GDP growth in the past years.

The SWS on September 21 released its “findings” that Aquino’s “satisfaction” ratings zoomed to a net plus 41 percentage points from 11 in March.

Those plain numbers conceal how unbelievable that is: It means a 272 percent increase in Filipinos’ satisfaction over his leadership. That’s something that could happen only if he had undertaken some earth-shaking initiative, perhaps on the scale of selling Hacienda Luisita and giving the proceeds to his CCT (i.e. dole-out) program. No such thing.

“Aquino ratings zoomed, so Roxas’ would too!” (Background photo: the duo in Zamboanga City last January 25 while the Mamasapano massacre was unfolding.)

“Aquino ratings zoomed, so Roxas’ would too!” (Background photo: the duo in Zamboanga City last January 25 while the Mamasapano massacre was unfolding.)

Nobody actually believed the SWS poll on Aquino, not even the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which for the first time ever, relegated the report to its inside pages. No columnist even bothered to criticize it, so that SWS president Mahar Mangahas pathetically tried to draw attention to it in his Inquirer column

With a fantastic 272 percent increase in Aquino’s ratings, when all developments during that time were making him an unpopular president, a real social scientist would have gone back to his data and methodology, checked it ten times to verify why its survey got such an unbelievable result. But not SWS, especially its President Mahar Mangahas. At least its competitor Pulse Asia narrates major developments that occurred before its surveys, to validate even if not with precision, its survey findings.

Important reason

But there is an important reason why SWS risked reporting such obviously inaccurate polls, which I will discuss below.

Before discussing that, we have to expose the second step of the strategy to boost Roxas’ ratings.

A few day later, SWS released the results of its poll that asked the question: “Who do you think are the good leaders who should succeed Pres. Aquino as President? You may give up to three names.”

Note the framing of the question. Even if you really won’t vote for Roxas, you might still include him in the list three  of names, as Aquino in fact endorsed him. On the other hand, how can Binay succeed Aquino when he has been  very critical of  him as an opposition?

Why did SWS ask for three names, not four or five or six? Because if a respondent were asked to give four names, Davao Mayor Digong Duterte would likely make it to the list, reducing Roxas II’s shares. The choose-3 kind of poll is so crass I have never heard it used anywhere else in the world.

Oila! Mangahas’ magic produces a really fake poll that Roxas got 39 percent while Binay only 34 percent with Poe still topping the poll with 47 percent.

This SWS operation reveals its lack of scientific integrity. Mangahas knows full well that it is not a voter-preference opinion, even if he knows that media would report it as such, which they did. Many news articles — likely supported financially by Roxas’ propaganda group — reported that he had overtaken Binay in voters’ preference for the presidency.

What is highly suspicious is that nobody commissioned that question, so it was entirely out of Mangahas’ wish to do. If you were an ethical social scientist, why would you undertake a misleading, unscientific survey?

The reason why Mangahas undertook such a stupid three-choice survey and released its findings is that even as it wasn’t a voter-preference poll, it would be portrayed  by media as one, as indeed it was.

Its intention was to change people’s current perceptions based on genuine voter-preference surveys that Roxas wasn’t going anywhere as a presidential candidate, with his ratings unchanged over two years now that even Aquino had hesitated to endorse him as his candidate and instead was going  for Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

The third step in the SWS operation was the release of a real voter-preference survey, that is, one that asked who would you vote for for president, not to name three as “best leaders” to replace Aquino. The poll reported Poe with 26 percent, Binay 24 percent and Roxas 20.

Respondents from Capiz?

If SWS’ respondents in the Visayas were from Iloilo or Capiz, those for Luzon from Tarlac, or from Cubao for NCR, Roxas’ 20 percent wouldn’t be surprising. Why doesn’t the SWS ever make public where it got its respondents?

I could visualize Mangahas stuttering in a press conference if had called for one and spoke what he felt: “OK, I know you didn’t’ believe the first poll (the three-choice one) in which Roxas got 39 percent, beating Binay with just 34 percent. But now I give you a new figure of 20 percent, which I think – after that 34 percent – is credible.”

And what did the unbelievable jump in Aquino’s satisfaction ratings have anything to do with this?

As the Liberal Party’s face, Congressman Edgar Erice, said, Roxas’ numbers miraculously improved because of Aquino’s endorsement power. If Aquino’s ratings were not reported by SWS as having vastly improved, the increase in Roxas’ ratings would be totally inexplicable.

The Liberal Party’s strategy is to falsely portray in the public mind that Roxas has climbed from his basement-level ratings, so that the contest has become a neck-to-neck one with Binay, with Poe to be disqualified by hook and by crook.

The next steps in Roxas II’s strategy would be first, to disqualify Poe on grounds she is not a natural-born citizen and lacks the required years of residency. The second step, would be the filing of a second non-bailable plunder charge against Binay.

SWS would quickly do its fools’ polls, and Roxas would claim that with Poe out of the contest, her followers shifted to him, instead of Binay because of the plunder charges.

If not through outright cheating, the massive funds accumulated by the yellow horde – even including those from the Disbursement Acceleration Plan – would tip the results for Roxas

These people are taking us for fools.

FB: Bobi Tiglao

Liberal and Communist parties provoked martial law imposition

September 23, 2015

Second of two parts For all their self-righteous “Never Again” mantra, and their odium against Ferdinand Marcos, it was the Liberal Party and the Communist Party of the Philippines that gave the excuse for him to impose martial law, and to perpetuate himself in power beyond his constitutional term. Perhaps in the recesses of Marcos’ […]

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Why did the military support the Marcos dictatorship?

September 20, 2015

First of two parts “History is written by the victors,” philosopher and social critic Walter Benjamin famously wrote. If the German philosopher is right, we have to posit that in the case of the Marcos’ 13-year one-man rule, the victors—or the vanguard of the victors—were that faction of the elite the Ilocano politician had oppressed, […]

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Again, the making of a myth: Erap’s last hurrah

September 17, 2015

Senator Grace P. Llamanzares’ speech the other day “offering” herself as our next President was unexpectedly quite impressive. Her oratory would be the final nail on Manuel Roxas II political coffin, and for Vice President Jejomar Binay a loud wake-up call. As the myth of Benigno Aquino 3rd as the prince of the Yellow Righteous […]

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Aquino should be impeached, then jailed with Roxas over Mamasapano

September 16, 2015

President Aquino 3rd’s sudden reference to an “alternative truth” to the massacre of 44 Special Action Force troops in Mamasapano convinces me – again – that there is something deeply wrong in this person’s psyche. Was the Mamasapano massacre such a trauma for him, over which he has been probably having psychotic nightmares, that he […]

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PLDT, Globe foreign owners’ profit from PH: $8B in 10 years

September 13, 2015

Third of a Series: Filipinize the telcos! The PLDT-Smart and Globe Telecom duopoly has been making a killing from its control of the telecommunications industry in the country, with all of the companies’ profits almost every year given to their owners in the form of cash dividends. From 2006 to this year, these dividends reached […]

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Only real solution to the traffic hell: Regime Change

September 11, 2015

The real solution for metro Manila’ s traffic horror has been staring us in the face, as much as the on-and-off red brake lights had stared at you for four hours at EDSA the other night: Regime Change. The solution is to remove President Aquino, who has been, as the country’s chief executive, totally responsible […]

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Japan, China, SKorea, others restrict foreign capital in their telecom industries

September 8, 2015

In a recent hearing in Congress, representatives of the Foundation for Economic Freedom repeated the chant that has become for some reason louder and louder in recent months: The lifting of Constitutional restrictions on public utilities will attract foreign investments, which the country direly needs. I’m not sure who is the ideologue or ideologues for […]

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We’re the only Asian country where foreigners control the telecom industry

September 6, 2015

That’s how messed up we are as a nation: We have given away control of our public utilities, natural-monopoly industries, telecommunications and power to foreigners. In contrast, not a single one of the so-called Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan), neither Japan nor China, has done this. Except for the Philippines and […]

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