UNA and LP: Political Bandits

This Toby Tiangco, the campaign manager of UNA, has a keen political sense.

For one thing, he takes the threats UNA faces seriously. In one press interview, Tiangco was frank enough to express his fear about Senator Serge Osmeña’s involvement in the electoral campaign. Osmeña is giving advice to several candidates of the Liberal Party (LP) coalition, namely Jun Magsaysay, Grace Poe, and Risa Hontiveros.

Osmeña is the Pinoy equivalent of Barack Obama’s David Axelrod. Our senator may not be as politically progressive as Obama’s campaign adviser. But it is insulting to compare Osmeña to the arrogant Karl Rove, who exposed himself to be a bad clairvoyant after predicting Mitt Romney’s victory in the swing state.

Osmeña’s choice of candidates is right but demanding. Magsaysay (not Mitos), Poe and Hontiveros are among the honest politicians and reliable reformers in the LP slate. They, along with the likes of Jamby Madrigal, Koko Pimentel, and Sonny Angara, deserve to win. (The politically correct might object to Angara’s dynasty. But nothing is wrong as long as the dynasty eschews guns, goons, gold and Garci).

But Osmeña’s candidates are not frontrunners. Fortunately, what Tiangco calls the “Serge factor” is a boost for their campaign.

For another thing, Tiangco delivers stinging propaganda that hits the nail on the head. In another interview, Tiangco turns the tables on the LP coalition by accusing the ruling party of accommodating “political butterflies.” Indeed, many of the former Gloria rabble-rousers jumped ship and moved to PNoy’s party. Aray! What is LP’s rejoinder?

Still, the LP coalition has charged UNA of pretending to be daang matuwid. That is very correct, for UNA has a surfeit of candidates who oppose daang matuwid. For that matter, UNA’s candidates are unfit to symbolize daang maganda.

What is maganda about Mitos Magsayasay, Gloria’s henchwoman, who blocks every major reform of the PNoy administration? What is matuwid about Gringo Honasan whose claim to fame is his being a serial coup plotter during the democratic transition? What ismaganda about Jackie Enrile, the absentee congressman, who nevertheless has name recall, being the son of Marcos’s martial law executioner and Gringo’s godfather? What ismatuwid about Miguel Zubiri becoming senator, thanks to the vote manipulation engineered by Gloria’s servants like Abalos and the Ampatuans? And what is magandaabout Manong Ernie Maceda, the typical trapo, despite his makeup? To top it all, the UNA triumvirate of Binay, Erap, and JPE is a gang of bandits.

But wait, we cannot be judgmental about political bandits, as propounded by Mancur Olson. Olson distinguishes the stationary bandits from the roving bandits (foreign aggressors, for example). The stationary ones need the legitimacy or the votes to extend their terms, and they hence have the incentive to deliver the public goods.

Think Binay. In Makati, he is a strongman, a maton. Yet, thanks to the huge resources at this disposal, he has made Makati a modern and “socialist” town. And through his delivery of the public goods, he and his family get elected and re-elected. In turn, this performance in Makati propelled him to become Vice President and has become the launching pad for his ambition to be the next President.

Let’s face it: Both UNA and LP have political bandits. But that’s where the similarity ends.

UNA has obnoxious bandits. And even though the LP accommodates bandits (after all, politics is addition), its core consists of decent politicians and reformers—led by PNoy himself; progressives like the Abads, Tañadas, Jun Abaya, TG Guingona, Jamby Madrigal, Neric Acosta, Sid Ungab, Niel Tupas, Jocelyn Limkaichong; veterans like Frank Drilon, Mar Roxas, Jun Magsaysay, and Serge Osmeña. This is the party of reform—the party of Ninoy Aquino, Jovito Salonga, and Jesse Robredo.

As the party of reform, it should be the party of the future. The lesson from contemporary political economy, especially in East Asia, is that a predictor of prosperity or sustained growth is the endurance of a reformist and visionary political party. Never mind if it is has stationary bandits.

Filomeno S. Sta Ana III

Sta. Ana coordinates Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph)

  • Benjamin

    Just curious, but what’s Niel Tupas done to deserve being on that list lol?

  • UPnnGrd

    … but…. but… Pnoy influence on LP is short-lived. Kaunting taon na lang, he’ll fade into the sunset and just go vvv-rroooom–vvroooom vvrooo-ooommm relaxing.

    UNLESS….. unless the battlecry PersiNoy-one-more-time-2016 rings true!!!!

  • Jag

    Basic econ 101——

    GDP = Household Consumption + business consumption + government consumption+(exports-imports).

    We have been continuously running deficits in merchandise trade and collateral services ….

    This is covered by inward flows of income from workers and short and long term investments.

    For the last ten years we have had CURRENT ACCOUNT SURPLUS EVEN IF FDI’S
    HAVE BEEN WEAK.

    THAT CA SURPLUS IS NOT BEING SAVED BUT IS BEING SPENT ON CONSUMER DURABLES AND REAL ESTATE.

    That is driving consumption led growth……

    Unemployment, underemployment and people who have stopped looking for work have risen.

  • Jag

    All those nice words to say that it would be best to vote for the lesser evil…

    The Philippines is undergoing one of the most secular changes in its history. For the past ten years the country has had a current account surplus. All Philippine governments should be congratulated for accomplishing this feat.

    Economic policies have driven Pinoys abroad to such an extent that their remittances combined with the measly earnings from our exports of goods and services are covering our structural current account deficits.

    The money base has expanded to such an extent that the BSP has had to entice banks to park their funds worth Php 1.8 trillion in a special reserve account that pays higher interest rates than short term government paper.

    Naturally the “daang matuwid” boys are claiming credit for this feat.