Militant Madness

Last Monday, militant groups waged a strike, protesting the rise in oil prices. Groups led by Bayan muna, and the jeepney transport association, Piston, have long argued that the Oil Deregulation law is flawed, and that oil companies have been colluding. Government, and largely private citizens have asserted that the strike was nothing more than a nuisance.

There is without doubt that the rise in oil prices, and the government’s aggressive effort to collect taxes in just about any place has generated the perception of rising inflation. The year-to-date non-food headline inflation stands at 4.6. Non-food headline inflation for August and July has been steady at 5.0.

The thing with Militant Madness is that they are driving at the wrong tree. The same old line that may have worked in the 1980s or the 1990s doesn’t work in the 21st century. The assertion that government can control for example the price of oil is a pipe dream. It is not a sustainable strategy long term. The price of oil is driven by the global market, of which, the Philippines has no say, and at best a very minuscule impact on.

The price of oil is up everywhere in the world. The reasons of course is political, and economical. The argument that just because the Philippines is a third world country, it should get preferential pricing is a joke. Put it simply, regulating the market by the government subsidizing oil is a losing short term strategy because it is simply covering up the problem, and not solving it. In Filipino, it is what people call, “Pinagtakapan ang butas”.

No amount of strikes, or putting people on the street is going to change Oil pricing or oil deregulation.

What the strikes have done is simply to annoy and ruin normal people’s day. The people that these Militant groups say, they are protecting and doing this strike for. At worst, how is this any different from every other fringe group using terror or threats? At best, what exactly has happened is that Militant groups are acting like spoiled children throwing a tantrum. And that is why they don’t get much traction in the first place.

How can you not question the motives of Militant groups, when there doesn’t seem any rhyme or rhythm to their beat? How many times have militant groups executed the same failed strategy to convince people and government that their argument is correct? Isn’t insanity doing the same thing over, and over again, expecting different results?

That said, one can sympathize with the percularities of the Militant left. The prices of goods and services, i.e. inflation is such that it is hurting ordinary Filipinos. The fact is, cost of goods and services are on the rise. Toll ways have increased payment, and taxes are soon to be imposed on it. The government argues that taxes on toll ways will mark limited impact on current prices, and that may be true, but perception is different. In the same way that Gloria Arroyo declared that the Philippines is on target for economic growth, and even noting several quarters of GDP growth as proof. There is an aphorism that Numbers don’t lie, but the common Filipino is puzzled, with rising growth, where is my fair share?

The Militant Madness on the one hand has this childish notion that oil and business shouldn’t be there to make money. There is a certain entitlement that comes with Militant Madness. They are promoting a culture that simply want to have money at the expense of others. The prices of anything– oil or other-wise is derived from many factors. Transportation, cost of power, and water, and labor, and other elements affect prices of any good or service, and an Oil Company is no different in that respect. It is a business, and businesses need to make a profit.

Even social enterprises need to make a profit. Profits are good because they make companies grow. What seems to be in the philosophy of Militant Madness is the same idea that making a profit is evil. Fat cats are evil. Least we all forget even China is a market economy based on private ownership.

What irks people is that Militant Madness is more about a cry for attention, than anything else. It doesn’t hurt the oil companies or government if militants stop driving in the streets. It only ticked people— the riding public off. It doesn’t advance any new study, or finding that indeed oil companies have been colluding. Evidence isn’t being presented as to how to strengthen the oil deregulation law, have congress look into it.

The lack of coherent push in Congress by Bayan, which coincidently is a seating party-list group shows two things. That it is without power or ability to convince fellow Congressmen to back its legislative agenda. So they have not gathered support in Congress, or have simply been unable to do their homework. Second, doesn’t it make a good argument why the party list system is flawed to begin with?

Militant groups seem to have their agenda stuck in 1980s strategy and tactics. No amount of noise in social media or in the street is going to change that unless what they have to say is gaming changing and not the same tired old language used. They will continuously be branded as nuisance by the public. The tone, and the language simply has to change. It has to be reasonable, it has to be an adult discussion, and not merely empty words, and used up slogans, and motherhood statements that were old even before I was born.

No one disputes that the prices on goods and services, and the tax burden continue to grow. As much as it is painful to pay taxes, it is a lot easier to pay taxes knowing the current regime is a degree less corrupt than the previous one. When it comes to oil, electricity and others— it is still a free market economy. Oil, and others is the cost of doing business. At the end of Aquino’s term in office is judgement day, and as much as he will be judged whether corruption is reduced or not, he will be judged too whether his economic policies have had any effect with the poor. That will be a different kind of reckoning.

Cocoy Dayao

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.

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

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Tobyroca

    get your facts straight. this blog was a long anti-socialist rant. you’re as much a tantrum throwing toddler as the Mad Militants you’re railing against. I only followed the link to this blog because I thought I was going to read a well-informed LibDem rebuttal of multi-sectoral strikes – Militant Madness, you call them – that were launched by the Left these past few weeks. instead, what I had the misfortune of reading was more PNoy fandom and a logically flawed defense of the free market.

    to clear the air, there is NO COMPLETELY FREE MARKET IN EXISTENCE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.  even Hong Kong – the closest one can get to an almost free-market system – isn’t operating an economy completely free of government regulation. economies need government intervention. look at what Obama did for GM and Chrysler and AIG. 

    also, I think the Left acknowledges the fact that repealing the Oil Deregulation Law and taking the E-VAT off oil and gas will not solve all our economic problems, but it is a start. I agree that subsidizing oil will never be a solution. Instead, the government should subsidize the exploration and development of possible oil and gas reserves in the Philippines. and since, in your view, the Philippine economy is so inconsequential in the global scheme of things, why not nationalize Petron again? when Petron was still a state-owned company, Shell and Caltex had an equally large competitor that offered dirt-cheap oil, and were thus forced to price their products competitively. you see, in a free market economy, when all businesses are privately owned, prices WILL go up because a company’s loyalty is always to Profit, not to its customers. the only thing that will stop this wanton profiteering will be government regulation. what the Oil Deregulation Law did was 1) deregulate the oil industry, thus giving the private sector free rein to profit from an already-stretched Philippine market and 2) privatize Petron, eliminating the state-owned monopoly that hindered Shell and Caltex from freely raping the economy.

    strikes ARE annoying; they’re supposed to be. they disrupt the “normal” run of daily life.  what you right-wing nutjobs don’t get is that strikes are as much a cultural exercise as they are political. you could almost think of them as stage performances: you know, the ones where actors act in an exaggerated manner to tell you a story. likewise, in strikes, people do annoying things like planking in order to grab your attention, and tell you that “Hey, we may have disturbed your normal routine, but see Kid, this here ain’t a normal society.” you THINK your NORMAL routine was disturbed, but actually your routine has been rendered ABNORMAL by the bourgeois capitalist society that you are a part and slave of. strikes are there to remind all of us that WE ALL ARE SLAVES OF THIS CAPITALIST SYSTEM – WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT – and no amount of right-wing Conservative trashtalk will separate you from your enslaved disposition. YOU are as exploited by the oil companies and the “free” world market and the financiers that run it as those who organize and participate in strikes. therefore, you have absolutely NO RIGHT – ideologically – to negate their claims and reduce their activism to mere “Madness.”

    in closing, as long as there is a concept of true democracy and as long as there are those who believe in that concept, strikes WILL occur – over and over and over again, until those in power learn how to talk to the people in a manner that they will understand. and strikes will always be there to serve as wake-up calls for people like YOU who’ve been blinded by government propaganda and bourgeois ideologies in Church, school, and by the media.

    • Tobyroca, you socialist ranters are as a slave to your socialist handlers and leaders as we democratic believers to what you call bourgeois capitalist society. Your rants is like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • J_ag

    I cannot understand what the fuss was all about. The so called transport strike was an absolute failure. The mass rush hour was hardly affected. 

    All mass actions are judged on their success or failures.  If these guys would have been able to take even 25 – 50%  of jeeps off the road it would have sent a message. I am sure they were able to take less than 1% so it was hardly felt. Try harder next time. 

    Now on to this non-food headline inflation. Headline inflation in the Philippine CPI includes food which is 50% of the index. Core inflation with food and fuel stripped out is known as core inflation. There is no such thing as non-food headline inflation index. 

    Gas prices today are not determined by the pricing of production but by the replacement cost of oil/gas. Hence price settings will change with the markets for oil and gas in the spot/futures markets. Financial traders today and not end users are the major players. 

    • cocoy

      @j_ag am just quoting NEDA on the “non-food headline inflation” thingy.  See here: http://www.neda.gov.ph/econreports_dbs/Updates/PDF_WklyEcon/14%20September%202011.pdf#zoom=150 

      • J_ag

        Just looked at the link you provided and there is no mention of non-food headline inflation. 

        There is headline inflation – of which food inflation and non-food inflation are part of. They are parts of headline inflation.  Food component of the CPI in the Phils is 50% of the total. While non food are the other 50%. Rice prices comprise 10% of that food thingy. 

        Core inflation is food and energy stripped away.. 

        There is no as you call it”non-food headline inflation thingy. 

        In a country where people live at subsistence levels food price inflation of even 10-15% could trigger massive unrest. A large part of the people have food at almost 80% of their total basket. 

  • Joe America

    I think there is often a disconnect between idealists who protest and how the real world behaves. Take those Greeks protesting austerity measures, as if going into default would not deliver worse pain. Or the wild-eyed Tea Party advocates of default for the US, as if they were pristine and immune to the damage it would do. I also have come to known those militant commies and protection racket gangsters having the idea that blowing up power stations or buses or people who won’t pay them is a higher ideal than that of the government they protest against.

    I’m for gray, myself. Not black or white. Not either end of the normal curve which is occupied by nutcakes.

    • J_ag

      It is funny you say that Joe A., but the leading contender for the Republican party who stands a very good chance of defeating Obama is a wing nut. 

      They would want to see a cleansing  process that only a real economic collapse could bring.. They should be careful for what they wish for.  Rick Perry and some high level German government officials wish for the same thing. 

      • Joe America

        Indeed.

  • Anonymous

    PresiNoynoy actually had a campaign action-item that is a solution to the PISTON problem.  And… and what PISTON should do is to get other labor-groups to support them in pushing PresidentNOYNOY to deliver on one of his campaign promises.  The promise — that companies (in this case, the owners of the jeepneys and the fleets of taxicabs and buses)  to be forced by law to deliver 10% of their profits as bonuses to employees (in this case, the drivers).

  • Planking, my as. Before it was called lying.

    I pity those militants. 

    Because they are smart they surely know that deregulation is not the cause of the rising price of oil so they attracted the attention of the government by causing enormous traffic jams asking the government to remove oil price deregulation then when the government remove deregulation those smart militants can now have valid reason to cause enormous traffic jams again protesting and blaming government for any oil price increase because of government regulation, hehehehe.

    • cocoy

      i think it is now a case of, “if you repeat something often enough, it becomes true” syndrome. 

      • or, ‘sala sa lamig, sala sa init’ syndrome, meaning ‘kulang sa pansin’.

        those poor guys can’t take a cue. they’ve been at it since the end of the japanese occupation, not able to get the idea that the people is immune to their cause. pitiable indeed.

  • this same madness keeps us from moving forward, instead of working out solutions with the gov’t, these disillusioned militants and their enormous egos opted to cripple the public, punish the masses further by disrupting what could have been a normal and productive work day

  • Manuelbuencamino

    I like the term Militant Madness. That’s exactly what it is.

  • GabbyD

    have u guys heard about the planking issue?

    so why did they call what they did, “planking”? thats just lying on the ground! 

    • cocoy

      GabbyD, Yes, heard of it.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Planking as a photo op is a zero. Better those mad militants pose nekkid. But on second thought  I don’t know if I want to see any of them nekkid.