Five ways to elevate political discourse in the Philippines

Election season 2013 has begun. The opening salvos have been fired. Both camps, Team PNoy and UNA are now locked in battle. Team PNoy a coalition comprised of the ruling LP, Akbayan, the NP, LDP, nominal members of the NPC and PDP-Laban and two independents claim to represent the reformist, “righteous path”. The United Nationalist Alliance comprised of PDP-Laban, PMP, NPC, former members of Lakas-CMD with some adopted independents also running under Team PNoy position themselves as the more populist, pragmatist camp.

As you can tell, the incestuous nature of these broad coalitions with common candidates (update: the latest twist is that this has been recently scrapped) and members of the same party running on different tickets can be rather confusing. Such is the rambunctious nature of Philippine politics where anything goes. Try as they might to distinguish themselves from each other, the field seems littered with mostly more of the same. And so in a world where you have fifty shades of grey as opposed to black and white, the pejorative name-calling has begun with one camp branding the other “impostors”, and the latter retaliating by naming the former a band of “hypocrites”. The polemicists have tried to distinguish good dynasts from bad ones, but it all seems to be a bit like determining how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

In fact, I would use the treadmill utilised in the filming of Team PNoy’s advertisement as a metaphor for the Philippines—there seems to be a lot of movement, a lot of activity, but the country merely finds itself running in place, with no progress to show for it. In its nearly twenty-seven years of history since the EDSA people power revolution which will be celebrated in a few days, the nation has experienced boom and bust cycles. It has grown, but the number of jobs created each year is barely enough to cope with new entrants into the job market. The poverty rate may have gone down, but the absolute number of people living below the $1.50 per day poverty line has not dramatically declined.

The same problems seem to hound us, yet the same families and cliques continue to get elected into higher office. Other poorer countries have caught up and overtaken us in the meantime. I am talking about China, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Pretty soon Vietnam will do the same. Like the mythical Sisyphus, we seem destined to roll our rock up the hill, only to see it roll down again.

So what can we do to break the cycle? Must we perpetually have this circus every three years without any significant improvement in tone or in substance? I thought PNoy and his Liberal Party were meant to usher in a new way of governing. That includes the way they run their party, right? So how can the political discourse in the country be improved? What should we as voters and as citizens demand from our politicians?

I would offer five simple but meaningful ways that in my humble opinion would raise the standard in our political system a notch or two. Here they are:

  1. Have clear party (or coalition) platforms. In Team PNoy’s first official campaign ad, they introduce their candidates and offer them up as the team that will implement the president’s program of reform. But what that program is was not actually explained. UNA’s ad allowed each candidate to state the basic themes of their individual priorities as legislators to be, but again no unifying theme or platform. The first step towards clarifying what each team stands for is to demand from them a detailed party (or coalition) platform outlining the policies that they intend to legislate. (Note: the party as distinct from each individual candidate.) Voters should know why they should support the full team, as opposed to individuals. This is such a basic thing, but it is rarely adhered to. Yet it is a sign of political maturity, if they are able to do this one thing.
  2. Prepare fully costed policies. It is very easy to say you are for health, very easy to say you are for education, for employment, for good government and for protection. The question is how your party plans to go about delivering them. The next step after submitting a set of policies is to cost those policies. This answers two fundamental questions: (a) how much will it cost to implement them, and (b) where will the money come from? I would suggest that if a party (or coalition) cannot answer these two basic questions, then their platforms are not worth the paper they are printed on. Only by answering these questions will we know how serious these politicos are. Are they merely offering token programs that won’t have an impact on the problems they wish to address or are they talking about systemic reforms? Are they offering expensive programs which will be funded by “savings”? If so, they have to nominate which programs they will cut—where will the savings come from? If they intend to raise revenue measures to fund these programs, then they have to specify these as well. The Congressional Budget Office should be made available to assist them and to verify if the revenue and cost estimates are credible.
  3. A coherent strategy for industrial transformation and job creation has to be put forward. In my humble opinion, it is no longer credible to offer livelihood programs or temporary government projects as an employment strategy. There has to be a coherent strategy aimed at restructuring our industrial mix. The World Bank, the UN and the ADB have in the last five years shifted their position on the matter. The former chief economist of the World Bank Justin Yifu Lin, the first non-Westerner to head up the Bank has re-written its views on industrial policy. It is now germane to talk about industrial transformation through government intervention again. Dubbing this new approach the New Structural Economics (or NSE), the Bank now offers a systematic way to facilitate industry transformation through what it calls its growth identification facilitation framework (or GIFF). The key question for the parties (or coalitions) to address is whether they would pursue this and how they would give it new impetus. Should the country for example set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund with the excess foreign reserves created by OFW remittances? What areas or themes should this fund invest in? There has to be a coherent strategy for lifting the investment rate and for generating productive capacity within the country.
  4. A time frame for execution has to be laid down. If parties plan to introduce new policies or programs, and they have costed them, they need to specify their timetable for achieving them. Will they gradually phase them in? Will there be sunset clauses, if these policies are only meant to deal with temporary crises or situations? If they for instance commit to a Freedom of Information bill, they need to specify a time frame for passing it. In so doing, they will be specifying their legislative agenda for the next three to six years. If they don’t spell out their time frame,  why should we as voters believe that they are serious about implementing such proposals?
  5. A credible commitment or letter of undertaking must be signed. Finally, if these parties (or coalitions) are indeed serious about their plans, their programs and their agendas, they need to put all this in writing and have their entire slate sign a formal document undertaking to abide by them. They need to affix their names to it and present it to the public. I could go further and say that they should offer to waive their pork barrel allotments if they fail to live up to their commitment, but I won’t. We the people will at least know they have reneged and can choose to punish them at the next election. It is a matter of trust. If we can’t rely on their word, then they ought not to count on our votes next time.

Well, there you go. It’s a simple recipe for assuring greater responsiveness and accountability on the part of our elected officials and their parties. I haven’t called for the abolition of political dynasties. I haven’t called for punishing political turncoats, butterflies or balimbings or changing our form of government or any other fundamental re-jigging of our constitution.

All I have proposed is to have some kind of institutional evolution, some meaningful incremental reform in the way we distinguish one set of politicians from another. One candidate the other day asked the question, who is a trapo (traditional politician)? I would like to answer that by saying, a trapo is someone who does not adhere to these five basic principles as outlined above. It is about time the Philippines with its sophisticated 24/7 digital and social media technology for conducting campaigns followed a more modern method of conducting its public policy discourse. In this manner, at least, we can gain some degree of progress down the road towards political and democratic maturity that has eluded us so far.

The Tyranny of Bad History and the Unmaking of EDSA

The power of well-written and researched history, by professional historians aware of their vast responsibilities, is that provides the tools needed craft a better future for all. EDSA is one of those historical moments that can easily be abused, as we have seen. An understanding of EDSA that tries to incorporate its complexities and context can only help inform who we are as a people and how we can grow together. Read more

EDSA and Tiananmen, a generation after

A generation ago two historic events unfolded both in the Philippines and in China – the 1986 EDSA Revolution and the 1989 Tiananmen Protests. These two turning-point events have made such a big impact to both nations’ socio-economic-political life so much so that it has become an important historical reference point as to how their respective countries have come so far in improving its society and in giving its people a better life.

The 1986 EDSA Revolution was a result of the 20 years long struggle of the Filipino people to end the authoritarian, corrupt, and repressive regime of President Ferdinand Marcos. During the early years of the dictatorship, Leftists and Center-Left organizations were in the frontline of the struggle to oust Marcos. In 1983, leading opposition leader  Benigno Aquino II was slain and prompting the middle class and the elite of the Philippine society to mobilize against Marcos. In 1985, Marcos decided to hold an election in attempt to legitimize his hold of power, Marcos run for the presidency against Corazon Aquino, wife of Benigno Aquino II. In February 1986, government election officers declared Marcos winner amid widespread fraud, violence, and irregularities. The Filipino people refused to accept the results, however, asserting that Aquino was the real winner.

Appalled by the election results key government military officials launched a coup against Marcos. However, Marcos learned about the coup and was able to abort its initial plan. The leaders and members of the coup attempt were caught in a possible confrontation and cross-fire between Marcos’ military. Considering that that the military troops loyal to Marcos was far stronger than theirs, the leaders of the coup asked opposition groups, the church, and the common people to help them oust Marcos by congregating  in EDSA, a main thoroughfare in Manila. Notwithstanding the possible bloodshed that may occur about two million people including prominent political, military, and religious figures congregated in EDSA. Marcos deferring a military assault to the protesters and acceding to the United States government admonition to “cut and cut cleanly” decided four days later to resign and together with his family left the Philippines for Hawaii. Marcos wasn’t able to go back to the Philippines until his death in 1989.

The 1986 EDSA Revolution successfully removed the Marcos dictatorship and brought in Western-pattern liberal democracy to the Philippines. For many of Filipinos, 1986 was the start of a new life for the Philippines and a hopeful beginning of a genuine political and economic democracy.

The 1989 Tiananmen Protest was a result of the political and economic tumult that shook China in the 1980’s. Chairman Deng Xiaoping’s “opening-up and reform” program, considered now as the economic miracle formula of China at first did not produce desirable results. The Communist Party of China (CPC) was in a political crisis. CPC was divided in three major factions – those who are for further reforms; those who are for gradual reforms; and those who are against it. Side by side with this political crisis within CPC was the ongoing economic hardship of the Chinese masses brought about by high inflation and the people’s pent-up anger towards corrupt government officials.

This confluence of events provided a background for the Tiananmen Protests. From May to June of 1989 a huge crowd of Chinese composed mostly of students and intellectuals launched massive street demonstrations in key cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. A huge crowd of protesters numbered to hundreds of thousands to a million at certain point camped-out and set-up a “freedom commune” at Tiananmen Square in Beijing and demanded political-democratic rights and speeding-up of reforms.

Top government and CPC leaders decided to declare martial law after sensing that the protests would cause serious division within CPC and a possible civil war. Crack Military troops forcibly cleared protest sites in different cities. In Tiananmen Square in Beijing battle tanks and armored vehicles crushed the protesters’ “freedom commune”. There were many casualties and injuries. In the Tiananmen Square, Beijing Protests alone 241 protesters died and 7,000 were injured (according to official government reports). The numbers are in stark contrast with a purported NATO intelligence report that there were 7,000 deaths. Hundreds of student leaders, intellectuals, sympathetic government officials were detained and “re-educated”.

The suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Protests have made CPC’s hold of power in China uncontested. Government leaders advocating Chairman Deng Xiaoping’s gradual reform and opening-up prevailed.

How’s China a generation after Tiananmen? Numerous foreign media and governments’ vehemently criticized the Chinese government for suppressing the protesters. Western countries protested by sanctioning China and by suspending multilateral official loans to the Chinese government. China’s GDP dropped down to 3.8% in 1990, a steep fall from the 9.5% average year-on-year GDP growth since Chairman Deng’s modernization program was unveiled in December 1978.

But then China’s economy soon rebounded, and grew by an unprecedented 10% annually from 1991 to 2010, from Jiang Zemin’s administration to the current President Hu Jintao’s administration. In the past two decades, more than 400 million people were pulled out from poverty. Last year China officially surpassed Japan as the second largest economy next only to the United States. China has also become the biggest lender to the United States. From becoming the “world’s sleeping giant” to the “world’s global power” China has become one of the global leaders in any given human endeavour – from sports to science and technology to trade and industry.

I have asked a Chinese professional working with a state-owned enterprise as to how and why China recovered from the 1989 debacle so fast. He said “Two things – One, after 1989 our government worked even hard to show its legitimacy to the people by enabling them to contribute in building a prosperous and harmonious society. Second, after 1989 there was almost absolute political stability and smooth transition of government power from one leader to another. There was a continuation of economic policies and strategies.”

How’s Philippines a generation after EDSA? In 1986 the world all over praised the Filipino people for its successful display of democracy and “people power”. EDSA 1986 Revolution became a subsequent inspiration for the revolutions in the late 80’s that ended communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe. EDSA 1986 Revolution also gave inspiration to the birth of democratic movements in Taiwan, China and South Korea. Astute political observers from the United States have mentioned that the Filipinos whom they’ve mentored in democracy have taught the world about democracy.

Despite the international accolade, goodwill, and respect the Philippines had garnered in 1986, the subsequent years after the revolution would prove to be very challenging. The political instability that led to EDSA 1986 Revolution, new rounds of coup attempts, and catastrophic environmental events resulted in a very weak 3.4% GDP annual growth under the Corazon Aquino (1986-1992). Under Aquino’s successor Fidel Ramos (1992-1998), the Philippines gained a respectable growth rate of 3.8% year-on-year. Philippines’ 1997 growth rate of 7.2% was the highest for the past three decades.

However, Philippines’ seeming economic flight was interrupted by the 1997 Asian economic meltdown and uneasy political transition.  Under Joseph Estrada’s short-lived and corruption-ridden presidency from 1998 to 2001 and politically unstable regime, the Philippines’ GDP growth blip to 2.9%.

The year-on-year average of 5%GDP growth during the highly controversial and graft and corruption-ridden Gloria Arroyo administration from 2001-2010 are considerably better than the previous administrations GDP growth rate yet there has also been rising joblessness, persistently severe social inequality and growing numbers of poor people. The 2.6 million unemployed Filipinos in 1986 increased to 4.4 million in 2010.

In 1985 the top 20% of families cornered 52.1% of total family income leaving the bottom 80% to divide the remaining 47.9% between them. In 2009, the net worth of the 25 richest Filipinos of P1,021 billion was equivalent to the combined annual income of the country’s 60 million poor. In 2009 six out of ten Filipinos were trying to survive on incomes of P82 or even much less per day for all their food and non-food expenses.

Economic development in the Philippines after the 1986 EDSA Revolution has been so frustratingly slow.

Last year, the only son of Corazon and Benigno Aquino II – Benigno Aquino III was voted overwhelmingly to the Philippine presidency amid high hopes that he would stamp out corruption in the government. Will the second Aquino presidency be able to achieve, even on a modest terms, the two-pronged political and economic democracy objectives of EDSA 1986 Revolution? Will he trailblaze the path to the economic renaissance of the Philippines which was before the Marcos era an economic powerhouse in Asia? Will he set the foundation of political stability so crucial for national economic development? The answer will depend in a large measure not only on the second Aquino administration’s ability but to the Filipino people’s power.

Are we really free?

I’ve encountered some people who claim that with EDSA 1, we recovered democracy but not freedom. I don’t know what their definition of freedom is but here’s what good ol’ Webster says:

Well, what we are currently enjoying in our land sounds like freedom to me.

Let’s look at the internet, the virtual land where freedom may truly exist. Yuxiyou.net published an interesting infographics on censorship on the internet and see how our country is faring.

Yep that is indeed blue which stands for “no censorship.” Do they think that if we didn’t gain freedom 25 years ago we will be enjoying this status? More like we’ll be emo black like China where there is pervasive censorship. Not only do we have freedom online but we are truly free.

We have freedom of speech.

We have freedom of expression.

We have freedom of the press.

And we have freedom to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

All of these we didn’t have before EDSA People Power.

25th Anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution – Schedule of Events

Schedule of Events

25th Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution

February 17, 2011

Exhibit of the Inaugural

6:00 P.M., SM The Block

This exhibit showcases the coffee table book that documents the events from President Cory Aquino’s funeral to the Aquino campaign up to the inauguration of Benigno S. Aquino III as President.

February 21, 2011

NoyNoy: Triumph of a People’s Campaign

5:00 P.M., Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4

A book written by Ambassador Wilfrido Villacorta will be launched. The book chronicles the success of the Aquino campaign in capturing the Presidency.

Exhibit of the Revolution Revisited by Kim Komenich

6:00 P.M., Ayala Musuem

An event co-sponsored by the Ayala Museum, this exhibit features 60 photographs taken by Kim Komenich during his assignment in the Philippines at the time of the People Power Revolution. Fourteen of these photos were given the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.

Sonny Camarillo Exhibit

February 21 to 27, 2011

Thirty iconic pictures taken by Sonny Camarillo during the EDSA People Power Revolution will be displayed along EDSA and White Plains Avenue. The pictures tell the story of the revolution as seen through a photographer’s lens.

February 22, 2011

Tree Planting Activity

9:00 A.M. to 12:00 NN, Camarines Sur

The Local Government of Camarines Sur, led by Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., has organized a tree planting activity wherein 50,000 trees will be planted on government-acquired land. In an attempt to feature the value of Pagkakaisa, this area, now called the “Community of Hope”, serves as a home for rebel returnees and military families.

Inauguration of the AFP Museum and Blood Letting

2:00 P.M., AFP Grounds, Camp Aguinaldo

The room where Former President Fidel V. Ramos and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s announced their withdrawal of support has been converted to a museum. This event will feature the inauguration of this historic place. A blood letting will simultaneously be conducted in the AFP grounds as well.

PEOPLE-POWERED MARKETS: Sa Bayang Umaasenso, Sama-Sama Tayo

4:00 P.M., NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City

The Ninoy and Cory Foundation in coordination with the Makati Business Club organized this event in order to guide and educate Filipinos on how people and private companies can use the market to address social problems in the country.

Yes Pinoy Symposium – Trainer’s Training (until the 22nd)

Venue: Kabayan Hotel, Cubao, Time: 10:00 A.M.

Participants will be trained in facilitating the EDSA Babies Speak Symposiums so they will be able to cascade the symposium in their respective regions.

February 23, 2011

Pilipinas Got Bukas

7:00 – 8:30 A.M., Rizal High School, Pasig

In order to engage the youth towards volunteerism, the YesPinoy Foundation organized this event that will showcase a human mosaic composed of 2,500 students. A passing of the torch by the EDSA Veterans to the EDSA Babies will also take place.

EDSA Babies Expo

9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., SM North Sky Dome

Exhibitors will provide avenues by which EDSA Babies can join in nation building through volunteer and other socio-civic programs. Exhibitors will be composed of student organizations and NGOs.

Program and Awarding: Best Entries in Bright Ideas and Bold Initiatives for a Better Future

3:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M., SM North Sky Dome

Winning projects and entries for the Bright Ideas and Bold Initiatives for a Better Future program will be given.

EDSA Babies… Congrats Mga Sikat!

7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., SM North Sky Dome

This is a pre-graduation treat to high school and college achievers. Various artists will perform for the students and the winners of the Bright Ideas and Bold Initiatives for a Better Future program.

EDSA 1 Clips Film showing in schools nationwide

Documentaries and films about the revolution will be shown in various schools across the country.

40-Hour Vigil in 25 Churches

8:00 P.M.

A 40-hour vigil will be held starting on the 23rd up to the 25th will be held in 25 churches across the country.

Freedom Tour will begin (will run until the 25th)

8:00 – 9:30 AM, 9:30 – 11:00 AM and 5:00 – 6:30 PM

This is a tour that will tell the story of the revolution. The tour will cover the following areas: La Salle Greenhills, the EDSA Shrine, the People Power Monument, and Club Filipino.

February 24, 2011

Eucharistic Celebration

5:30 P.M., EDSA Shrine

A mass will be celebrated at the EDSA Shrine on the eve of the 25th Anniversary of the success of the revolution.

Freedom tour will continue.

February 25, 2011

Honors and Flag Raising Ceremony

7:30 A.M., People Power Monument

A flag raising ceremony at the People Power Monument will kick off the celebration. An Ecumenical Prayer will also be held after the ceremony.

Unveiling of the Cardinal Sin Statue

and Flower Offering at the Ninoy and Cory Statues

9:30 A.M., Rizal Park

This event is spearheaded by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.  In attendance will be residents of Manila, the religious including twenty-five bishops and Catholic school students.  After the unveiling, flowers will be offered at the Ninoy and Cory statues.

Job Fair

7:30 A.M. – 3:00 P.M, POEA Building

The POEA will hold a job fair featuring thirty licensed employment agencies who have committed to offer a total of 25,000 job openings.  This job fair is open to the public and thousands of job seekers are expected to come.

EDSA Strip

7:00 A.M. to 12:00 midnight

The north bound lane of EDSA will be transformed into a festive strip where people who will attend the celebrations will be able to see the actual tanks used by soldiers during the revolution. People will also be able to register and make commitments for the country at Tatak Edsa Registration tents. Food will be available at P25 at food stalls put up by the Philippine Franchise Association.

Medical-Dental Mission

9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., Camp Aguinaldo Gate

A medical and dental mission will be held throughout the day at the Camp Aguinaldo Gate in front of EDSA.

Unveiling of Marker

11:00 A.M., POEA Building

A historical marker will be unveiled in the exact location where former President Cory Aquino delivered a speech during the EDSA People Power Revolution.

Boodle Lunch

12:00 Noon, EDSA

There will be a boodle lunch along EDSA for 2,500 people including CEOs, LGU representatives, student leaders, and others.  This activity seeks to rekindle the spirit of sharing that transpired during the EDSA People Power Revolution.

Salubungan Program

3:45 P.M., EDSA

This will reenact the “Salubungan” that happened 25 years ago when then General Ramos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile joined forces against the dictator. The forces will converge at the People Power Monument.

Live Musical Variety Show

8:00 P.M., White Plains Avenue

A live concert will be held that will showcase various Filipino artists from the Kapuso, Kapamilya, and Kapatid networks. The variety show is divided into five (5) suites: “Simulain, People Power History 101,” “Ang Diwa, the Spirit of EDSA People Power,” “Mga Simbolo, People Power Lives On,” “Mga Bayani, the Heroes of Today,” and “People Power Ngayon, Nation Building Today.”  The PANA Ad campaign will also be launched at the concert. A fireworks display will follow the concert.

LGU Participation

LGUs across the country will hold events that will include medical missions, tree planting, monitoring of smoke belchers, and other projects to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution.

Freedom tour will continue. (VIP tour at 1:00 PM)

February 26, 2011

Unveiling of the Kalayaan Marker

10:30 A.M., Kalayaan Hall, Malacañang

During the Marcos regime, the hall was called Maharlika Hall. When former President Cory Aquino assumed office, it was renamed Kalayaan Hall. A marker will be unveiled at the hall to commemorate this event.

People Power Awards

11:00 A.M., Heroes Hall, Malacañang

This event is in recognition of the personalities who played significant roles during the EDSA People Power Revolution.  The awardees are: (Living) Fr. Reuter, Nat Rama and William Esposo, and (Posthumous) Don Chino Roces, Rep. Stephen Solarz, and Teodoro Benigno.  Lunch will be served and the film entitled “The World Remembers EDSA” will be shown.  Music will be provided by Mr. Ryan Cayabyab.

February 27, 2011

People Power Run

The route of the run will be from the People Power Monument to Ortigas, Greenmeadows, and C5. Simultaneous runs will be held in Bicol, Cebu, Zamboanga, Dipolog and Angeles City.

YesPinoy Foundation Relaunch

7:00 P.M., NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

The event will be attended by members of the YesPinoy Foundation and various artists.  During the Relaunch, the EDSA Babies shall articulate their commitment to carry on the Spirit of EDSA – the spirit volunteerism.  <>

source: Malacanang via email.

"People-Powered Markets" to hold exhibit-cum-trade fair in run-up to EDSA 25

Business leaders, microentrepreneurs, and NGO workers will gather at the NBC Tent, Fort Bonifacio, Global City from Feb. 22-23 to celebrate the work of the private sector in providing poverty-stricken Filipinos with livelihood opportunities, and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the People Power Revolution.

The “People-Powered Markets” exhibit will also serve as venue for the participants to discuss and plan how to build on the work of companies and microfinance institutions in engaging enterprising Filipinos in poor communities and empowering them with funds, training, and outlets for their products.

President Benigno Aquino III will attend the event.  Among the business leaders who will attend the event are Philippine Long Distance Company chair Manny V. Pangilinan,  Philippine Investment Management, Inc. president and chief executive officer Ramon del Rosario,  and renowned accountant-philanthropist  Washington Sycip.

“We seek to bring about a People Power to transform the market into an instrument for shared progress for all Filipinos,” said Dan Songco, president and chief executive officer of the PinoyME Foundation, a key organizer of the exhibit.

“I am inviting all Filipinos who believe that we can bring growth to our lives and to society through hard work and unity. The exhibit will not only show models on how we can participate in supporting microentrepreneurs, but also share knowledge and encouragement for people to start their own microenterprises.”


People-Powered Markets also marks the 5th Year Anniversary of PinoyME, which was started by former president Corazon Aquino in 2006 with the aim of reducing poverty by championing microenterprise and microfinance. In one of her last speeches, the People Power icon urged Filipinos to join PinoyME in its mission.

“Over the past year, I have been inspired by the noble work of microfinance institutions which have reached out to the entrepreneurial poor, giving them the means to uplift their lives through honest and hard work. To many of us, livelihood loans of P1,000 to P10,000 may not mean much, but to those outside the fringes of the mainstream economy, these are vital in tiding them over from day to day. The small but steady income from their micro-enterprises makes it possible for them to eat decent meals, to send their children to school and to nurture dreams of a better life,” Aquino said.

In a mere five years, PinoyME has established itself as a driving force in different microfinance and microenterprise areas.   Today, it is more than a source for funds; it has stimulated more academic research on microfinance, gathered information experts to help automate microfinance institutions, and helped microentrepreneurs find outlets for their products. Not surprisingly, its growth has coincided with the advancement of microfinance in the country. Microfinance now reaches more than 5 million Filipinos through the services of 500 microfinance institutions with a combined portfolio of P12 billion.

Value chains that work for the people

PinoyME has not been alone in efforts to promote microenterprise as poverty reduction tool. There have been various allies–from companies and universities to microfinance institutions and consolidators. The unity of these institutions to support microentrepreneurs will be showcased as  “value chains that work for the people.”

A value chain is a physical representation of the various processes that are involved in producing goods. For instance, there is a chain between Jollibee Foods Corporations and farmers from Nueva Ecija, Bukidnon, and Nueva Vizcaya. Jollibee partners with the farmers for its requirement of fresh ingredients like onions and bell peppers. However, the two would not have been able to transact without the collaboration of The Catholic Relief Service Philippines, which promotes market-driven strategies to facilitate farmers’ participation in the mainstram market, and the National Livelihood Development Corporation, a government corporation mandated to provide for the credit needs of farmers. The chain hence is not merely between Jollibee and the farmers, but also includes CRS and the NLDC.

Labeled by Lopa as a “reverse trade fair”, the exhibit is innovative in the sense that it allows microentrepreneurs to learn of ways of doing business with established companies by being part of their value chain. This is an inversion of the traditional trade fair wherein microentrepreneurs market their goods to the companies and to consumers.

“On the other hand, businessmen can learn from these models and say ‘I want to use this model to meet my requirements and also help out the people in my community. Or a NGO could say ‘I want to be part of this value chain and organize people into a cooperative so they can meet the delivery requirements of a company’,” said Songco.

“These are not just value chains but models of People Power. In a sense that is what we are celebrating and what we want to bring about more–People Power that has transcended the political and that makes a direct impact in the lives of people,” he added.

People-Powered Markets will also feature product development clinics on niche marketing and seminars on how to partner with companies by being part of the value chain. Admission is free. For more information on PinoyME, please visit the website http://www.pinoyme.com/.

Share YOUR EDSA 1986 memories with ABS-CBN

You and the 1986 EDSA People Power

What are your memories of the 1986 EDSA People Power Uprising? How do the lessons of people power reflect in your life today?

Send us your photos of memorabilia or events related to people power. Provide a short explanation of the submission and its significance.

You may also share your story about the 1986 EDSA People Power and what you remember from this period. Please do not exceed 10 paragraphs.

Post on bmpm.abs-cbnnews.com and Facebook between February 1 and 14 and get the chance to win a special shirt if your piece is one of 25 stories and souvenirs chosen for publication in abs-cbnnews.com’s Ako ang Simula: Diwa ng EDSA special report.

Source: ABS-CBN News

The blast, and the conspiracies

Manila was rocked by an explosion. Of course, it becomes natural that all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men will lockdown the barn doors. It’ll take a little longer for the commuter to climb on to the MRT. Planes. Ships. Malls. Not that bombers have attempted to set off another explosion a day, or two after the last one.

Horses have all gotten away.

At least two people are dead. At least a dozen injured.

The conspiracy theories of course will come out like clockwork. These are the work of destabilizers out to ruin the fragile peace we have, some will more likely say. Crime rates up too. It is easy to believe or come up with these things. Easy to put a spin, and run wild stories.

Horses and Zebras, if you catch my drift.

The investigation needs to continue. Only then will we know the truth.

What’s clear is that we shouldn’t fear. We shouldn’t put fear as our primary motivator. Whether it is terrorist or some madman, or some lunatic with a gun, we shouldn’t fear. That’s exactly what those kinds of people want us to be.

The answer is that over time the PNP should get better. Better training, better equipment, better leadership. The President needs to see to that. We can not have justice when the very first agent of justice fail to gather evidence, solve cases or protect us. We cannot strike fear in the heart of evil, when they know there is nothing to fear.

President Aquino’s statement on the EDSA bus blast (in Filipino)

Pahayag ni Benigno S. Aquino III
Pangulo ng Pilipinas

Ukol sa pagsabog ng bus sa EDSA-Buendia noong ika-25 ng Enero, 2011

[Inihayag sa Briefing Room ng New Executive Building, Malacañan Palace noong ika-25 ng Enero, 2011; 17:11 hrs. EST]

Unang-una po, gusto naming ipabatid na nakikiramay po kami sa mga namatay dito po sa trahedya—sa pagsabog ng isang bus sa EDSA—at doon na rin po sa mga nasugatan.

Sa kasalukuyan po, inatasan na natin at kumikilos na ang lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno para, unang-una, bigyan ng pag-aaruga itong mga nasaktan, at iyong imbestigasyon dito sa pagsabog na ito. Nandoon na po ang ating kapulisan, nakipagtulungan po ang local government unit natin sa Makati, pati na rin po ang MMDA, ‘yung ating intelligence services na talagang sa kasalukuyan ay tumututok na para malutas itong krimen na ito.

Makakasiguro po ang lahat na sa di-magtatagal na panahon, tulad ng ibang mga insidente, tulad ng bombing noong bar exams, magkakaroon ng kalutasan po itong sitwasyon na ito. Nakatututok po ang lahat ng ahensya ng pamahalaan para masigurado ang kaligtasan ng lahat.

Tungo po doon, inatasan natin ang PNP at ang ating AFP at intelligence services na magreview ulit ng mga tinatawag na threat assessment, with the end in view of hardening all of the areas that are considered under threat. Mayroon na rin pong mga ibang ginagawa sa kasalukuyan at matagal nang ginagawa, tulad ng pag-iimbentaryo ng mga kasangkapan ng AFP at ng PNP, lalo na po sa mga insidente na kung saan nagkaroon ng mga paggamit diumano ng C4. Hinihigpitan natin ang tinatawag na pag-aaruga nitong mga consumables para sigurado tayong walang mawawala sa diretsuhang control ng ating Sandatahang Lakas.

Uulitin ko lang po, at ito nga ho ay gusto kong ipahatid sa ating mga kababayan: Talaga pong hindi titigil ang inyong pamahalaan na mahanap itong mga taong gumawa ng karumal-dumal na krimen na ito, na talaga naman pong hindi nakatutok sa isang tao o isang grupo, eh, talagang pananakot lang po sa buong sambayanan. Hindi natin pababayaan na magpatuloy ito, ang ganitong sitwasyon na may agam-agam ang atin pong mga kababayan sa Pilipinas.

Source: Official Gazette