All posts by: Cocoy

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter. He publishes a personal blog called The Geeking, a weblog on geekery, pop culture, and sometimes Apple, and technology.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.


Undeserved harshness


Randy David:

“Poor Secretary Roxas seems unable to do anything correct in the eyes of people who have made up their minds about his suitability for higher office. Rather than view his presence in Borongan, Samar—the site of Ruby’s expected first landfall—as a public official’s gesture of responsibility and solidarity with the affected communities, his critics opted to see it as a cheap ploy aimed at raising his political profile as a potential presidential candidate. This undeserved harshness became magnified when he unfortunately tipped over on a borrowed motorbike while he was rushing to reach the town of Dolores in Samar before dark on roads strewn with debris. Instead of appreciating his zeal, social media began bashing him for riding without a helmet! It is a risk that every politician has to contend with. “One need only name a value that in given circumstances is only unsatisfactorily met—and in the case of risk policy this would constitute ‘safety,’” wrote Niklas Luhmann, “and a topic is born.” How true!

Last night, I asked my son, CP, a geologist who works with the Department of Science and Technology’s Project Noah, what new lessons we have gained from our experience with Ruby. His pithy reply intrigued me: “I think the public was overwhelmed by an oversupply of information.” That was a scientist’s view, obviously, not a politician’s.”

Joe Am calls this “a weakness in the Filipino’s character“.

I agree with Mr. David, and Joe Am. Mr. Roxas did not deserve this harshness.


Grace Poe and the MRT

Earlier today, Senator Grace Poe took the MRT without fuss, without bodyguards, just like an ordinary citizen would. The lines were long, as they typically were. The senator, whether it was a calculated political move, or not, did what others could not. Perhaps, it was easier for her to brave the lines, to ride the carriage of the masses. Perhaps, it was a fact-finding mission to better frame herself ahead of a hearing on the MRT at the Senate. So she get praised for rubbing elbows with mere mortals. She gets praised for sympathizing with pain.

President Aquino did the same when he first took office. He banned the wang wang, and chose to stop at all intersections. He took to eat at sidewalk vendors while visiting the United States— in stark contrast to the opulent dinners by the previous regime. Along the way, people forget this side of the President. People forget this side of the story.

Jesse Robredo too is fondly remembered as being a simple man. He rode public transport home. He took no airs, and was a humble man. What a nation would ours be with a man like Robredo at the helm?

The lesson of the Aquino presidency is lost to many. The simple lesson it brings is that what kind of man we elect on top sets the tone, and sets the direction. The policies come less so. They, much to many’s dismay come into second place to the quality of the leader’s moral fiber. It is what it is, for now, at least until the nation is more cosmopolitan than provincial.

Many critics will disagree, of course, with Aquino’s style of reform. Corruption of course is far from eradicated. We have many weaknesses that are only now coming to light. Many of the changes are in the form of layers, but many expect the reform agenda to be loud, and big. My expectation of Aquino’s agenda has been grounded, and well formed from the beginning. So I understand where he and his men come from. With Mr. Aquino, I knew from the get go— by intuition— this was the guy who would drive us forward, however imperfect, into the next tier.

I sympathize with many of Aquino’s critics because I find myself in the position that they are in now, at least, when considering a hypothetical Ms. Poe as president. Without doubt, Senator Poe is doing all the right things I have come to expect of a President of the Philippines. She is perhaps the kind of leader I’d like to see on top of the food chain. Better than the Binays’ who have shown such fervent desire for being the top dog, but none of the humility.

Grace Poe seems to make populist choices from the get go. She seems to do what Mr. Estrada should have done. I liked her championing the Freedom of Information bill. Didn’t really like that she didn’t add much substance to the bill. It seemed to me something that needs more beef (but I have settled on the idea that that is but a pipe dream). Her taking up the MRT route is another that suggest she has taken a populist stance, certainly, but the difference is, Ms. Poe seems have a tad more substance than Mr. Estrada does. (If anyone needs a reminder of the Estrada Presidency he needs to look no farther than what’s happening in Manila now).

So this is where my intuition kicks in. It kicks in to push hard on the breaks. I have never been a fan of populist positions. Well, populist in the sense that the policy panders to people, and that’s it. [Mr. Aquino’s policy also seems to favor people first, but very little pandering.]

The MRT is a broken system, of course. It is obvious. What isn’t is the systematic understanding of the problem. Many of its problems stem from its conception, and exasperated by pandering to the people needlessly such as a subsidy driven by political choices. Many of the problems of the MRT originate from the fact that this ought to have been a locally executed project— by the governments of Metro Manila, and in a sane, and rational world the Senate of the Philippines shouldn’t be operating on solving. This is a local matter that should have been initiated, and as problems arose, repaired locally.

Metro Manila is not the Philippines.

Such concept eludes many, and unlikely to change anytime soon.

While it is admirable that Ms. Poe rode the MRT, with certainly good, and great intentions to help solve a problem, I hope it would lead to the untying of a problem of epic proportion without pandering to the public.

Why Militant Left needs to explain their PDAF use

There seem to be this misconception about PDAF— pork in general. Having pork is not the same as being evil. Using pork for evil— getting kickbacks from it is evil. Can you see the difference between it? The existence of pork is not per se proof of nefariousness. Again: the mere fact a legislator has pork, and used it, does not imply wrong doing.

Take for example reading the DBM website. In 2009, Rep. Binay spent 12 million on vermiculture (product or process of composting using various worms) for the 2nd district of Makati. She also spent 200,000 pesos for indigent patients for Rizal Medical Center, and another 1 million pesos for National Kidney Transplant Institute.

Binay PDAF

These in itself do not suggest wrong doing. It does not suggest she spent her PDAF on nefarious purposes. These are the questions you can ask:

  1. Why does the 2nd district of Makati need to train in composting, and how effective was it for backyard vegetable and herbs gardening?

  2. Did that training go to actual training, or ghost project?

  3. How did the 2nd district of Makati benefit from this sort of training?

  4. Did the NGO/Implementing Agency of the vermiculture project— real?

  5. Is it true that the recipient were indigent patients? Can show proof?

How about this? Bayan Muna spent 100,000 pesos in 2013 for monoblock chairs. They also spent 700,000 for “Financial assistance for the implementation of CIDSS Program (Livelihood Program-Training on Organic Farming & Demo Farm and Alternative Learning System)”

Bayan Muna - PDAF

Again, this in itself is not indicative of wrong doing. It does open up questions such as:

  1. Where those received by the targeted school (Am pretty sure if someone calls up that school they can answer yes or no, right?)

  2. Are these monoblock chairs being used?

  3. What is level of quality of those mono block chairs— and do they meet standards set by the Department of Education (or whomever sets standard for it).

  4. On Livelihood program: farmers learn? Did they get info needed? Is it kulang, or do they need more training?

Again— in on itself— this data from DBM is not indicative of wrong doing.

Then you get testimony from the whistleblowers. Is Revilla telling the truth? Is Mr. Estrada? Well, you can look at the DBM data and if they correlate to what the government, the whistleblowers have to say, maybe there is something there to demand an investigation or indictment, don’t you think?

In the case of Rep. Binay— Rep. Edgar Erice’s allegations do correlate with some of Rep. Binay’s PDAF disbursement. While that in itself doesn’t imply wrong doing— it does suggest someone should investigate if these allegation are indeed true, don’t you think?

This is the problem with how the militant left frames the question. Everyone is a crook because pork is evil. Well, they used pork too. If pork was used to buy chairs for kids, I think we can all agree that shouldn’t be an issue, yes? If pork was used to cheat the people, then that’s why we punish crooks. How hard can it be for the militant left to also publish their accounting of how they spent PDAF like what Raissa Robles is asking in her post?

So all this talk that the DBM data doesn’t provide color? Of course, it doesn’t. It only provides part of the puzzle. It does not generate more color than straight cold facts. It does however get you to ask questions, like what Raissa Robles is doing, and other journalists because if this data is out there, and we citizens can’t ask our elected officials how they spent their monies, then what good is it? Put it simply, the DBM data is a data point that leads you to ask questions.