elections 2016

When Good Governance Isn’t “Good Enough”


Four years under an honest, sincere leader like President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy), and the mood of the nation has palpably shifted, from one of hope and optimism that greeted his election in 2010, to one of fear and loathing at the prospects in 2016 when he is supposed to step down (talks of lifting his term limit notwithstanding).

Four years is a sufficiently long time to take stock of how far down the path of good governance (daang matuwid) PNoy has taken the nation. The opinion polls suggest that while an absolute majority still are satisfied with his performance, fewer and fewer people think he is succeeding or doing a good job. If this trend continues, the people who rate him poorly may become the majority.

In his last State of the Nation Address, PNoy acknowledged that the task of reforming institutions in the country will not be completed by the end of his term. By the government’s own scorecard, the administration is failing in all but one of the Worldwide Governance Indicators of the World Bank, the global benchmark for good governance, nor is it expecting to achieve its governance goals by the end of PNoy’s term in office.

When it comes to achieving inclusive growth and development, regarded by many as the holy grail of good governance, for which it is just a means (kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap), slow progress indicates the intransigence of the situation. Poverty incidence and unemployment rates remain stubbornly high, despite the uptick of our GDP growth figures for over a decade now.

In this context, where does blame lie? Were the actions taken by the administration towards implementing good governance the right ones? To answer these questions, we will need to retrace its steps. But before that, let us first lay the foundation for the analysis.

The role of any government is always two-fold: to expand the productive sectors of its economy, and to invest in human capital while providing social and environmental safety nets for those who slip between the cracks.

A government cannot raise enough revenue to perform the latter, unless it performs the former really well. Inclusive development is premised on rapid, robust, and sustained growth taking place. The benefits of growth are often distributed unevenly though, so governments often need to step in to spread them more equitably across society.

Some minimum standards of competence and probity need to exist for a government to perform these functions well. In developing and emerging economies, these tasks are made more complicated due to the limited nature of available resources, weak organizational capacity and poor institutional integrity. But as demonstrated by East Asia in the last century and now by Sub-Saharan Africa in the early part of this century, governments need not be whiter than the falling snow to perform these functions well enough.

Retracing steps

Early in his administration, the president was concerned about changing the atmospherics to promote good governance, which was what he rightly perceived as his mandate from the Filipino people. He sought to achieve this by:

–          Replacing Mrs. Arroyo’s appointees and going after his predecessor through the courts. This was achieved with a series of executive orders, impeachment complaints and charges being filed. When the PDAF and DAP controversies broke, this extended to filing cases against incumbent legislators, such as senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla.

–          Improving the integrity, efficiency and effectiveness of the government’s expenditure program through reforms in the Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Budget and Management. Corollary to this was making the budget process, the bidding and awarding of contracts, more transparent and accountable.

–          Improving the collection efficiency of revenue agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, and government owned and controlled corporations by going after tax cheats and smugglers, reforming the governance of corporate boards and initiating a performance based bonus system.

In all this, the administration has actually been quite successful in getting what it wanted. Mrs. Arroyo is under hospital arrest; the Chief Justice appointed by her was impeached and convicted; her Ombudsman resigned; and, the three senators mentioned have been suspended and are in detention. New budget and procurement procedures are now in place. Collections and dividends from revenue generating agencies and corporations are up, meaning to say their performance is improving.

So what has the administration done wrong? Why are its approval ratings going down now despite its many accomplishments in the area of good governance? I would like to go beyond just the immediate causes to offer three fundamental problems. Three things, which I believe the administration is guilty of—they are:

  1. Focusing too much on reforming the government’s budget and expenditure processes and not enough on a whole-of-economy policy agenda.
  2. Focusing too much on the process of good governance and not enough on the ultimate, end-goals or outcomes of good governance.
  3. Not being bold, or forward-looking enough in its plans and vision for the country.

Let us tackle these one-by-one.

On the first point, the administration, by focusing on the efficiency of the government’s expenditures, limited itself to influencing a mere 20% of GDP that the annual budget represents. Economic policies, which affect 100% of the economy, on the other hand, have been neglected, to say the least. Just consider the following:

–          We are facing an imminent energy shortage, despite paying some of the highest electricity rates in the region. Some parts of the country are already experiencing regular, rotating blackouts.

–          We are facing a logistics and ports crisis, with freight landing but remaining inside Manila’s container port due to regulatory bottlenecks at the national level, which have led to unlicensed trucks being apprehended by the city of Manila. This crisis in Manila is going on despite the excess capacity that exists in Batangas and Subic Bay ports.

–          Our urban roads are congested limiting the flow of people and goods around the city, impacting on our productivity and the cost of delivering basic goods and services.

–          The metropolis suffers from a lack of urban planning, co-ordination and integration with surrounding regions.

–          We are paying some of the highest rates for internet and telecommunications services, and suffering from one of the slowest internet bandwidth speeds and poor connectivity in the region.

–          The NAIA, our most important gateway to the world, is considered one of the worst airports. Even the opening of an extra runway in Sangley Point a few years from now will simply ease congestion slightly.

–          The MRT and LRT systems are hampered frequently with accidents and breakdowns.

–          Our public transport system is not safe for the riding public or motorists.

–          Pollution is choking the city, leading to health risks and higher health bills.

–          Our higher educational institutions continue to slide down global league tables and a lower proportion of their graduates succeed in passing their professional licensure exams.

–          The sleeper issue is water. Will there be enough of it with all the growth happening in our urban centers?

Now energy, ports, communications, transport, roads, clean air and water, education and skills all affect the efficiency and productive capacity of our economy. If regulatory and line agencies lack the capability to independently plan, manage, monitor and guide the players that operate in these sectors in line with national development goals, then the future growth of the economy will be significantly constricted.

‘Plan rational’ missing

If a government cannot develop what the late-Chalmers Johnson called a “plan rational” for growing productive sectors in the economy and use its economic agencies to effectively line up the players in their respective spheres of influence to attain the targets of this plan, then it won’t achieve the kind of growth that results in massive improvements in its people’s quality of life.

The administration has identified the business process outsourcing, electronics, semiconductor, logistics, tourism, manufacturing and agro-industrial sectors for growth, and yet if you look at the basic infrastructure needed to power them forward, which includes human capital and skills, the policy frameworks are not providing a conducive environment for this to be a sustainable future.

Over-processed, under-performing

On the second point, the administration has focused too much on the process of good governance, not enough on the outcome. PNoy has focused on cleaning up the bureaucracy of corruption, institutionalizing right procedures of governance, and improving transparency and accountability.

Those are noble things, worth pursuing no doubt. However, in seeking to improve the processes by which the state governs society and the economy, it should not neglect to forge effective tools with which to improve the outcomes of processes without having to clean up the system, entirely.

As the only entity in society with the right to grant licenses, franchises, monopolies and provide public goods, the government actually has some clout to shape the economic landscape if it wanted to. It can direct state resources, finances and act as guarantor to projects that it sees as strategic in nature.

During East Asia’s rapid rise to prosperity, bureaucrats would grant loans at concessionary rates and issue licenses to operate in strategic sectors of the economy to favored companies. In return, they or their political masters would often receive commissions for facilitating these transactions that would go to their political machineries. They were, in this respect, no different from our own bureaucrats.

The only distinction lies in the fact that the recipients of such cheap loans and coveted licenses were obligated to produce results in line with national development targets. If they failed to achieve these performance standards, bureaucrats would wield the stick to rein them in, i.e. loans would be retracted or they would be forced to consolidate or be threatened with the entry of new players. The economic agencies had the tools and acted cohesively to do this.

In the Philippines, we have neglected to develop such tools and organizational cohesiveness. If we had a national policy to increase the average speed of our internet service, for instance, and the current providers were not meeting this target, then our regulators should have the power and authority to slap hefty fines and penalties on them, threaten to suspend their licenses or bring in new players from abroad. The targets should be easy to measure and verify, clearly defined and pre-agreed.

The same should apply elsewhere. Of course, the constitution might stand in the way of some policy tools, such as liberalizing foreign ownership in certain sectors. The problem with full liberalization for its own sake though is that if you continue to have weak agencies without the tools to shape the behavior of players in the market, we could simply end up with foreign players behaving just as badly as local ones. Having said that, all options must be on the table.

The government through its budget process has started to initiate performance based budgeting, which is focused not just on how much gets spent or what outputs are produced, but the outcomes it achieves. This is a positive step. The next logical one would be to empower agencies with the right policy tools to achieve the desired outcomes.

Bolder vision, action-oriented focus needed

On the third and final point, if the government is not bold or forward-looking enough in its plans and vision for the country, then it follows that the agencies which develop policies and regulations for the economy will not be ambitious or strategic enough in wielding the tools for shaping its future. Without a national agenda, agencies will be more susceptible to being ‘captured’ by narrow, vested interests.

Of course the government has developed targets in the Philippine Development Plan. The question here is whether these are the right targets needed to develop a grand vision and narrative for where the country should be heading. Are they bold and forward-looking enough? Are they outcomes-based as opposed to being outputs- or even process-based?

In my view, many of the targets in the Plan remain output-oriented. What matters to the broader public is not how many passengers go through Ninoy Aquino International Airport, for instance, but how comfortable and easy it is for them to do so. There ought to be measures that monitor and track this. There could be 40 million passengers going through NAIA by 2016 as per the plan’s target, but they could all be unsatisfied and disgruntled with the service.

A more visionary target would have been to open a new airport by 2016 to service the expected inflow of passengers into Metro Manila. If the government had come into office with this as a bold target, then agencies and investors would have known what to do and where to invest their resources. The same could have occurred in power.

If the government came in and said we needed to produce X additional megawatts by 2016 and to lower the average cost by Y per cent, while reducing greenhouse gases by Z tons, and empowered responsible agencies with the mandate, resources and tools to get it done, we could have avoided the current situation. I believe dissatisfaction among many citizens stems from the impression, rightly or wrongly, that government just does not have a plan to solve their everyday problems.

When President John F. Kennedy in 1961 set a bold, long-range vision and asked for extra appropriations from the US Congress to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, no one at that point knew how it could be achieved. There were no feasibility studies. The technology was not even available. NASA had to learn by doing, taking action that brought them closer to that vision through experimentation and adapting their plans and organization accordingly.

The many challenges facing our country are adaptive in nature. Intergenerational poverty, climate change and conflict ridden communities: the solutions to these problems are not known in advance. Even experts are confounded when they apply their current state of the art tools. But that should not deter our leaders from framing a bold and inspiring vision for the future, and to set the scene for government, clients and stakeholders to collaborate in finding a unique way forward.

Good (or “good enough”) governance?

As PNoy enters the final third of his time in office, the clock seems to be ticking much faster. People have 2016 on their minds. What he needs to do now is race to the finish line. As he contemplates the legacy that his government will leave behind, he may need to re-think his agenda thoroughly.

While pursuing anti-corruption and good governance is a laudable goal, admittedly it takes several presidential terms, decades even, before this can be fully accomplished. His government has taken many positive steps down this path, and should be commended for it, but as he himself acknowledged in his penultimate state of the nation address, the journey will not end when he steps down.

Given that good governance in its strictest sense will not be achieved during the life-time of his administration, what steps can he take now to achieve better outcomes in many policy areas that directly impact the lives of residents and ratepayers, and will affect the future growth potential of the country?

These steps, when taken, would constitute “good enough” governance, because the process for achieving outcomes may not be perfect, but at least they will allow the government to perform its primary role of expanding the economic base, and with it the capacity to address social disadvantage and environmental damage.

Once the economy has expanded sufficiently, government will be able to raise more revenue, and shall have more resources, which will allow it to continue down the road of good governance and inclusive development.

If the government fails to lift the standard of our economic infrastructure, then growth could stall, and many of the positive steps this government has taken so far might falter as well. When that happens disillusionment might set in, and many of the reforms initiated by PNoy might be wound back.

Finally, the citizenry, for its part, cannot wait decades (or even another term for that matter) before the promise of good governance is achieved, nor should they be made to wait. Four years under PNoy may have already taught them that the path of good governance is just too long and arduous. Their growing dissatisfaction with the results is a sure and telling sign that, as far as they are concerned, good governance simply isn’t good enough.

Winner’s curse: How the opposition intimidated Team PNoy to take the low road to win in 2013 while leaving daang matuwid with no clear agenda or heir-apparent

In the Japanese martial art of Jujitsu one gains victory not by superior strength, but by using the force of one’s opponent against him. This is what the leader of the “friendly” opposition Vice President Jojo Binay did to the administration in the 2013 senatorial elections.

Having defeated President Aquino’s heir apparent Secretary Mar Roxas in the 2010 vice presidential derby, Binay’s unrivalled popularity while in office and his links to two of the most revered names in Philippine politics (Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and ex-president Joseph Estrada) made “winnability” foremost in Team PNoy’s mind in considering candidates for its 2013 senate slate.

Having experienced the “tyranny of numbers” in the lead up to the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and in the subsequent push to have a number of its reform measures passed, the administration was not going to risk losing a majority of senate seats this time around. This caused the administration to take a “win at all costs” approach.

Its first move was to mend fences with its former rivals in the 2010 election. The entry of the Nacionalista Party’s standard bearers into the tent of Team PNoy spelled an about face for both parties. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano had started the TOPAK meme which maligned the president’s mental capacities. Senator Loren Legarda had called on him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation during the campaign. All that was swept under the rug as far as the administration was concerned.

After framing the contest between Messrs Aquino and Villar back in 2010 as one of “light v darkness”, the Villar’s were all of a sudden admitted among the “chosen ones” who would travel down the “Righteous Path” alongside the president. Not to worry, the administration said, since such a coalition was based on platforms, not personalities. Except that they avoided at every turn to define what that platform was.

When asked to identify the top 5 legislative proposals Team PNoy would push for if elected, its spokesman, Rep Miro Quimbo could only identify 4. “Let me get back to you on that” was his candid response. Unfortunately even the priorities he outlined didn’t figure in any formal policy document or in most of the endorsed candidates’ platforms.

When asked why there was no shared policy platform across Team PNoy, the undersecretary for strategy and communications, Manolo Quezon replied that midterms weren’t about policies but a referendum on the president. You either believe in him and his “chosen ones” or you don’t. So there you have it. The election was framed as a clash of personalities and their proxies, not as a contest of ideas, policies and visions for the country. Here’s what he said…

Consequently, the voters simply did what they have always done when faced with no real alternatives but the same old dynasties and incumbents: they went with those that connected with them on a deep emotional level, those with whom they felt a sense of shared destiny.

Due to the economic make-up of our electorate, that meant electing Nancy Binay even if she had no prior experience working in an official capacity in government. It also meant catapulting Grace Poe to pole position based on the memory of her deceased father and the playful use of her surname as an expression of respect.

Both these candidates scored high on our “trapo scale” dubbed the “pander-o-meter” based on an analysis of their personal platforms. Of course their policies were never scrutinised by the media. Neither did the intelligentsia perform its role in critically assessing the promises of each candidate (the absence of party-wide platforms made this task a lot more difficult than it should have been).

Health care reform, a key plank in Ms Binay’s platform was not given the kind of treatment it needed. She was never challenged on the feasibility of her proposals to provide free nutrition and medicine particularly to nursing mothers. In the case of Grace Poe, nobody noticed that her campaign was anchored on a coulda shoulda woulda basis committing her to nothing specific and nothing firm.

The candidates were allowed to promise the sun, moon and stars all the while pandering to the emotional pleasure zones of the electorate without the voice of reason being given an honest hearing. Social media was co-opted to suit the candidates’ purposes. There was no one calling them out on the false hopes and expectations that they were building.

Finally, in assessing the aftermath of Election 2013, what we will find is that although Team PNoy garnered a clear majority of seats that were up for grabs, it comes out the weaker party.

Sure, it now can boast of having a majority in both chambers of congress, but the political calculus facing its adherents will be daunting. Will they really pursue the tough and unpopular reforms that are needed to bring the country forward, especially now that the electoral bankability of the BInay dynasty remains utterly unassailable?

Secondly, the president does not have a clear, viable heir-apparent to challenge the Jojo Binay-Jinggoy Estrada machinery and name recall in 2016. Secretary Mar Roxas has not accepted his party’s draft to run perhaps due to his failure to define a narrative for his candidacy.

Only one of the Liberal Party’s three senatorial candidates is likely to win in this election, in large part due to the fact that he shares the same name as the president. Bam Aquino will be too young to contest the presidential elections in 2016 being a year shy of the minimum age requirement, repeating the fate of his late-uncle.

So that leaves the administration with a mere three years to cement its legacy before handing over the reins to its successor who is likely to come from the opposition. For failing to define its agenda and properly vet its allies prior to the elections, the administration now suffers the problem of having no clear mandate to implement whatever reforms it outlines afterwards.

The same thing happened following the 1986 people power uprising. Rather than develop a new breed of politicos based on principles and a common reform agenda, the revolutionary government of Cory Aquino accommodated and resuscitated the clans who ruled the country in the pre-Martial Law era allowing the children of its revolution to die in the ditches defending their cause.

Joseph Estrada once said that her government’s biggest mistake was letting guys like him back in (clever guy he truly is!). Only those like Jejomar Binay who were willing to “play by the rules” of the jungle survived.

Instead of taking the hard, difficult path of building a constituency for reform through principled, policy-driven politics and developing a new breed of politicians from inside its base, the second Aquino administration opted to go down the quick and easy path to success, just like the first.

For those that thought 2010 marked the beginning of an era of new politics, think again. The years 2010-16 might simply be an interlude, a case of trapo interrupted, where the country enjoyed a momentary respite from the worst forms of populist, predatory politics at the top, before old habits kicked in once again.

Image: courtesy of Rappler.com

I am the Next President of the Philippines (Campaign Poster: Kung may Ganda, may Ginhawa)

As the Next President of the Philippines, here’s my Vision for the country.

1) First, may official motto tayo: “Kung may ganda, may ginhawa.”
* Thank you, Francis, for this Filipino translation.
* During interviews with CNN, the motto will be my original motto: “Beauty heals.”

2) Next, official color ng bansa… black.
* All citizens are encouraged to wear black during official public ceremonies and events.
* Why? Because… mas cute ang mga tao pag all black. Very chic. If you doubt me, look at the box-office success of Twilight

3) In line with the official black color, the official photographers of the Office of the President of the Philippines will ALL be fashion photographers.
* Bawal na ang mga firing squad pose sabay “cheese” smile.
* Everything should be styled and shot as if it is a Vogue editorial.
* Kahit sa mga outreach programs to distressed areas, everything should be styled chic.
* During visits to the farms, pati mga kalabaw (and cows), may make-over and make-up. And during post-production, via Photoshop, ALL kalabaws will be made more black and will be given a shiny effect, to make them more chic.
* Just because we have a high percentage of poverty does not mean we need to look ugly. Poverty is not an excuse for poor self-esteem.

4) Judy Ann Santos will be declared a National Hero
* Bec she is a good example of what Filipinos should be: a crying soap opera star who learned how to fight back.
* Aminin, kahit si Juday, natutong lumaban.

5) Within the 1st 12 months of being elected, ALL major government offices should have ‘green roofs’.
* What is a green roof? A green roof is a roof covered with plants or in some cases, an actual farm to grow herbs and vegetables. It helps purify the air of pollution, beautify the sky scape, absorb rain water to lessen the flooding in city streets below and to absorb sunlight lessening the load on air-conditioning during the summer months.

6) In line with the green roof campaign, ALL commercial buildings (those meeting certain energy consumption guidelines) will be mandated by law to have a green roof.
* At least 50% of their roofs should be covered with air-purifying plants (an official list of which plants purify the air the best, that is natural available in the country, will be released by the Dept of Science and Technology and DENR… together with a list of sources per province).
* All commercial buildings (those meeting a set of requirements…mostly immense in size and use huge amounts of energy)… should abide within the 1st 18 months of my presidency.
* A report on how much the air has improved will be released a year after implementation via the Office of the President’s official Facebook page.
* If the air has improved overall in the country, there will be a YouTube concert, free for all Filipinos to see online. Top performer will be Charice singing Breathe Again by Toni Braxton. In the background will be a gigantic gas mask displaying the official air quality results.

7) Still in line with the green roof campaign, ALL major national highways will be lined with air-purifying plants.
* Bawal ang decorative plants and flowers kung hindi rin sufficient ang air-purifying capabilities.

Here is a sample of my Vision per department:

On the Health front

– Since we have an over-saturation and excess supply of nursing students… these students will be mandated to log in a set number of hours, as part of their internship, to volunteer at government hospitals (prioritizing the far-flung provinces).
* The Dept of Health will oversee this program
* While these nursing students are volunteering in the provinces (in much need of medical access)… they can upload their travel pics to  the Dept of Tourism’s separate website of travel photos (categorized by province)..
* Chosen photos posted on the site will receive a 10% discount on their next flight or boat ride

For the Dept of Tourism

– Bawal na ang Tarsier sa ANY marketing poster or ad.
* Why? Simply bec I am sick of it. AND, bad feng shui yan… small animal equals small progress sa country.

– In line with the Tourism changes… the new national animal of the Philippines will be the Whale Shark.
* Why? Good feng shui… big animal equals to big progress
* Para rin lumaki ang self-esteem ng Filipinos
* AND, I will mandate that whenever the national anthem is played anywhere in the country, dapat i-play muna ang Official Presidential Recording ng Whale Shark sounds (for at least 15 seconds)…

– All celebrity performers who visit the country will be required by law to post their positive impressions of the country sa Dept of Tourism’s Facebook page.
* Come on, what’s more effective marketing… a video of a tarsier with the big eyes or the Twilight eyes of Robert Pattinson?

For the Dept of Sports (is there such a thing as Dept of Sports???)

– I will mandate that the budget be tied to performance
* More budget will be given to sports that produce winners. In short, salamat to Manny Pacquiao, more budget will be given to our boxing athletes… and to the boxing program.
* Of course, may budget pa rin ang other sports, significantly less lang nga. Unless they produce a medal, then… that’s the time we increase the budget.

– I will also mandate that new sports programs and budget be allocated to help other less-known but more high-profile sport-like events.
* Such as: those who compete in international Hip Hop dance competitions, international bartending competitions… and for the first time, Singing will be declared as a sport.
* Why? Para lang magkaroon ng success ang Dept of Sports

For the Dept of Arts and Culture

– Within 6 months of my presidency, they will be tasked to come up with a YouTube channel highlighting the performances of our great established and emerging artists.
* This website will be displayed in ALL of the country’s airport’s… together with a link to contact each artist

– The Cinemalaya will be given more budget bec they have successfully churned out more internationally-recognized films more than any other agency.

– ALL artists traveling abroad to compete in an internationally-recognized high-profile festival… will be given a free flight by Philippine Airlines…
* Or, if PAL does not travel to that country, their airfare will be covered.
* This perk only covers high-profile high-caliber international artistic competions
* They will also be given a free Flip video camera to record their high-profile experience (and award) and will be asked to upload to the official Dept of Arts Facebook page

For the Police

– Within 1 month of my presidency… they will be trained by the US police on how to respond to hostage situations.
* so as to minimize the repeat of that Hong Kong hostage tragedy
* ALL snipers in the Police will be tested. If they pass again, they will be given a 100% increase in salary… to encourage their accuracy in shooting a hostage taker
* there will also be an emergency fund, for the police, to immediately offer to all would-be hostage takers. Just enough to buy us time for the snipers to shoot to kill

– Still for the Police… bawal ang blue outfit. It will be changed to ALL black with glow in the dark details.
* Repairing the respect for cops begins with resuscitating their outfits. Chic people get respected more, plain and simple.

– We will implement a 911 system. Simple phone number to log in police requests.

– To prevent crime, a mandatory drug test will be enforced on all Filipino citizens, ONCE a year.

* This will be done randomly, so as to catch the illegal drug traces in the body, by surprise.
* All people positive with drug traces in their bodies, will be forced to name who supplied it to them, to lessen their jail sentence by 30%
* On top of that, all those who test positive of illegal drugs, will be asked to volunteer at a far-flung provincial government hospital or clinic, to lessen their jail sentence for another 30%
* To further lessen their jail sentence another 30%, they will be encouraged to choose another government department to serve at

– To also prevent the incidence of crime, ALL Filipino citizens will be forced by law to undergo a psychological evaluation, ONCE a year
* Also done randomly.
* This will be done to weed out those who hear dead people, those with a tendency for crimes of passion as well as those possessed by mental demons instructing them to create havoc
* All those testing positive for mental problems that have a high chance of committing violence will be immediately given medical attention
* If a person is tested positive as having a high chance of committing rape, if it’s a guy… the guy will be forced by law to be milked of all his sperm at a Magnolia dairy farm pump once a month
* For those displaying schizophrenia, they will be committed to further psych tests and a mandatory exorcism session (just to be sure)

– Each Feb 14, to reduce the risks of suicide in the country, as well as crimes of passion, a free YouTube concert will be screened for the whole country, featuring all the top sexy male and female celebrities.

Dept of Psychic Affairs

– All credible psychics will be pooled together to form a focus group
* They will be tasked to predict upcoming disasters PER Department
* All their individual and group findings will be emailed to each appropriate department

– All psychics will be tested first if they are truly psychic by testing their accuracy via predictions concerning the Philippine Stock Exchange.

– To further increase the economic growth of the Philippines, this group will compile their collective best bet for the lucky colors and lucky numbers for the country to use, each year.
* Pag sinabi nilang lucky color ang green for that year… all the backgrounds of political speeches and announcements will reflect that color
* Pag sinabing lucky number 22… all important economic meetings will only be conducted during the 22nd of each month

– This Department will also be consulted during the selection process of government officials, to fill in vacant posts.
* They will also be used to monitor ALL current government officials for ANY bad vibes of graft and corruption.


– To increase accuracy, inside the voting booth, will be a camera.
* ALL those who vote will be mandated by law to ALSO, aside from writing their vote, to verbally state their vote on camera. Then uploaded to a private YouTube account
* In case their is a suspicion of fraud, all YouTube votes will be reviewed and tallied

For Dept of Energy

– They have 10 months, to make sure all Dept of Energy-oriented gov’t buildings have solar cells on their buildings, enough to generate electricity for at least 25% of their building’s needs
* On the 2nd year of my presidency, they have another 12 months to make sure all government buildings, all over the country, have solar cells to generate at least 25% of each of those building’s electricity needs

For Dept of Science and Technology

– The DOST will also be tasked to finance promising web start-up ideas from the country’s web entrepreneurs or computer science students.
* In exchange for funding these web start-ups, the Phil. government will own 25% of that company and its profits
* All Filipinos will be encouraged to create the next Google, the next Groupon, the next Facebook or Twitter

– All research at all universities will be assessed… within 12 months of my presidency, to check if there is research out there (biochemical, engineering, agricultural, etc.) with commercial possibilities
* That university as well as the student who came up with the idea will be awarded financially… and their venture funded
* The gov’t then owns 25% of that company and all profits from this venture once commercially successful

For the Dept of Transportation

– Within 12 months of my office… for Manila… the number of trains will be doubled to ease the MRT congestion

– The train systems, throughout the country, will be updated

– Bus stops will be legally enforced… all express bus lanes and bus stops will be monitored by a camera

– Increased infrastructure between the islands – more high tech boats (with solar powered roofs) to travel between islands

Dept of Public Works and Highways

– All major national highways will be assessed for repair within 6 months of my presidency
* there will be a National Road Repair Text Number – to report holes in highways or streets
* if a major highway need repair, we’ll take that opportunity to install electric cells underneath the highway, that generate free electricity whenever cars pass through these roads
* the electricity will be used to power all street lights of that highway

– All streetlights, of ALL major national highways, within 12 months should be outfitted with a solar cell, to power the streetlight at night

– Just like New York and London, all national highways will have an Express bus lane… only  public buses can go there… to expedite public transportation to other provinces

For the Dept of Agriculture

– They have within the 1st 12 months of my Presidency, ALL Dept of Agriculture-releated gov’t buildings, throughout the nation, MUST each have a ‘green roof farm’. It must prove that it can grow vegetables on their roofs.

– Each capital city of each province, within 12 months, must either convert an abandoned building or purchase  a cheap one… and convert it into a multi-floor urban building farm (consult with Singapore on how to do this).
* The roof of which will be filled with highly-efficient solar cells, to help power the hydroponic indoor farming processes.
* This single farm building may not yield enough to feed the whole population of that capital city… but whatever it can produce, can be given, in alternate turns, to the local police, Dept of Agriculture workers or other government workers.
* The point is to serve as a perk for everyone serving the public good
* If the results are positive, more buildings will be converted by the gov’t to act as urban vegetable gardens… to supply food in congested urban areas. The goal is to reduce the gasoline transportation costs connected with transporting vegetables from provinces to major cities

– ALL abandoned lands, or undeveloped for more than 5 years, will be converted by the government into a vegetable farms. From all vegetables sold.. .the profits will be split between the government and the owner of the land.

Dept of Education

– A list of high-demand careers for the next 5 years will be posted on the official site… and will be shared with all Junior high school students… to give them an idea which careers are over-saturated (like nurses) and which ones will be in high-demand and higher-paying (like accounting).

– Entrepreneurship subjects/classes will be mandatory across all public and private schools, injected into the curriculum of the following: Grade 7 and for every grade of High School and the 1st year of college

– Another subject to be added to the Curriculum will be Career assessment class. To be added to 3rd Year High School. That year-long subject will involve a battery of psych tests, consultations, meetings with potential practitioners of desired fields.
* The goal is help high school students understand themselves more, to be more in touch with what really fulfills them… to minimize the mistakes done while choosing what to major in, during College

Dept of Foreign Affairs

– All consuls and ambassadors will be forced to take a luxury-reduction in their lifestyle
* There will be an apartment rental limit imposed on them
* The gov’t will only pay a modest amount for the apartments of heads of foreign consuls/embassies
* If they choose to adopt a more modest lifestyle and apartment, they will have to pay the extra costs, from their own salaries

– Within 12 months, they are tasked to compile a list of all Filipino citizens in their assigned countries… and ask each one if they are ok in the foreign country they are residing in… and provide the necessary legal help if necessary

– All foreign embassies will have an in-house group of voluntary lawyers… to help with the legal questions (no matter how big or small) of all Filipino citizens residing overseas

– Within 12 months, this Dept must create and test an effective evacuation plan, in case of an emergency similar to crises in Egypt and Libya

Dept of Justice

– The top 10 law firms in the Philippines will be mandated to use 10% of their time to take on cold cases in the Philippines (priority given to the poorest of the poor)

– All cases of all detained political prisoners will be re-opened and reviewed

– A free one-hour consultation will be afforded to ALL citizens… from a large pool of private lawyers volunteering their time to give free initial legal advice. The poor can text their questions.

Dept of Social Welfare

– within 2 months of the start of my presidency, ALL soap operas will have one commercial quickly promoting 3 gov’t public services freely available to everyone (especially the poor)
* at the same time, all governors will be required to educate their constituency about the top 10 free gov’t services/programs available to its citizens

– within 6 months of my presidency… a Domestic Abuse day will be declared… with back to back commercials promoting a text cellphone # reporting domestic abuse

– within 6 months of my presidency… a Child Abuse day will also be declared… as well as a well-promoted phone # to text to report child abuse

– both abuses above… once a text is received… the local police is required to make a visit in less than 12 hours

Finally, the Office of the President, my Office

– Will be an open office. You can Facebook me anytime.
* I will have a team of volunteers to screen each FB message… and categorize them into suggestions and problems… then forward them to the right Department

– I will visit EACH province during my term.

– Every month, one province will be selected… and from that province, one person will be randomly selected by lottery… to spend the whole day with me. And, to have dinner with me at the Presidential Palace. The whole process will of course be documented by a fashion photographer and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Then, posted on YouTube immediately.

– AND THEN, for overseas trips, a chance to join will also be raffled. The goal is for everyday people to be able to enjoy the perks of overseas travel junkets.

Will I end up accomplishing world peace? No. But I’ll definitely make the Philippines (and Phil. politics) more interesting. BTW, some of my suggestions do make sense and will actually improve things. And, I will forever go down the annals of history as the President who defined what a 31st Century Filipino should be: genre-busting, paradigm-challenging and Gattaca-fashion-chic at the same time.

Our politicians are a joke anyway. So, might as well run and be a more amusing (and effective) joke. Kaya, to my people, VOTE for me, ha. Paki-remind lang ako on Facebook kung kailan ang deadline to apply.

Noynoy, Mar deny LP campaign in disarray

Noynoy, Mar deny LP campaign in disarray
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

GAPAN, Nueva Ecija , Philippines  – Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III yesterday maintained his campaign was focused against the “real enemies” despite a reported power struggle between his running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, and his best friend-supporter, Sen. Francis Escudero.

Roxas, for his part, said the reports of disarray and power struggle in the LP were apparent moves to divide him and Aquino at a time they were both leading in the surveys.

Roxas said he didn’t mind Escudero supporting only Aquino, saying it was a choice that had to be respected.

Both Aquino and Roxas lamented that the issue was being blown out of proportion since there were other major concerns and issues that needed attention.

Aquino admitted the LP made changes in the party hierarchy since former senator Sergio Osmeña III, who is seeking reelection under the LP, had resigned as party coordinator to focus on his own campaign.

Aquino said Danny Gozo, the head of Roxas’ communications team, replaced Osmeña because the LP vice presidential bet also had to join the sorties.

Aquino’s relative, Maria Montelibano, is working directly under Gozo. Montelibano is handling the staff members of Escudero helping in the campaign.

They were temporarily replaced by the staff members of Roxas but were asked to report back after the kinks had been ironed out.

Escudero reportedly felt his people were being eased out by Roxas.

Aquino and Roxas said there were misunderstandings but stressed they are relatively small issues which do not merit the full attention of the party.

For their part, Aquino and Roxas said they never had any misunderstanding since the day they decided who between them should run for president and vice president.

Aquino said he and Roxas had been transparent on everything, including the endorsement of Escudero.

There were reports that Roxas and Escudero do not get along well. Escudero was said to be helping only Aquino because he had been supporting Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay for vice president.

Aquino said Roxas gave way to his candidacy because he believed in the cause they were fighting for.

He said all of them in LP know who their real enemies are and they have committed to fight these enemies and achieve real change for the country.

“So all of us should not focus on this (supposed Roxas-Escudero rift). We are talking about failure of elections,” he said.

Escudero, on the other hand, admitted a battle between him and Roxas would occur “down the line.”

“But then if there is a battle down the line, will you sacrifice the mission we all have at this point in time?” he asked.

Roxas claimed he “absolutely” has no problem with Escudero supporting only Aquino.

Roxas said he should not be pitted against Escudero since “there is no issue” between them.

“Maybe the media are fed up reporting that we are ruling the surveys. Senator Noynoy has a 12-point lead while I have 20 points. Maybe they want some excitement and so they looked for a story the size of an ant but blown (out of proportion),” he said.

He said Escudero’s backing was important for Aquino especially in courting votes from the Bicol region.

Roxas stressed he could not impose on anybody, including Escudero, to support both him and Aquino.

What is important, Roxas said, is to ensure Aquino’s victory above everything else.

LP campaign manager Florencio “Butch” Abad also dismissed reports that the party is headed for a crash.

He said LP is “united and solid as ever” despite differing ideas on how to undertake the campaign.

Abad said misunderstandings could not be avoided but they are too small to become the reason for the party’s disintegration.   – With Ding Cervantes

Noynoy laughs off Baby James slip-up

Noynoy laughs off Baby James slip-up
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

MABALACAT, Pampanga , Philippines  – Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III laughed off yesterday his nephew’s supposed endorsement of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., saying his rival must be desperate to claim even the support of a toddler.

Aquino said his sister Kris Aquino-Yap was “sorry” about the Bacolod City incident where her son Baby James blurted out “Villar” after saying hello to the crowd and flashing the L-sign during a campaign rally.

He said he told her that there was nothing to be sorry about because his nephew could be really “naughty.”

“Why blame a two-year-old? Maybe he hears the name, so (Baby James) said it,” Aquino said, noting that his nephew is at the “terrible two” stage and liked to do exactly the opposite of what was being told him.

He also took a swipe at Villar for considering his nephew’s antic as an endorsement.

Aquino said his nephew could have been influenced by Villar’ s infomercials flooding the television.

The buzz created by Baby James’ spiel had Akap Bata party-list, a group promoting children’s welfare, appealing to the public to spare Kris Aquino’s son from politics.

“We are appealing to those people playing up this issue and have been spreading and hurling ridicule at Baby James to please leave him alone and respect his innocence and childhood,” Akap Bata party-list first nominee Joy Alcantara said in a statement.

The group also urged Kris Aquino to supervise her son during campaign sorties.

Alcantara said they see nothing wrong if Kris will bring her child to political activities for it is the right of every child to be exposed to and aware of such affairs.

Noynoy: Gibo, odd man out

Speaking at the heart of President Arroyo’s territory, Senator Aquino said the May elections would be a “two-man race,” insinuating that his cousin, former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro, would not fair well since the first two in the survey would most likely figure in a tight contest.

Aquino expressed confidence that he would still enjoy strong support even in the province of Mrs. Arroyo, whom he said had been belatedly expressing support for Teodoro.

Aquino and his running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II held a motorcade and rally to drum up support among the Kapampangans, particularly those from the second district where Mrs. Arroyo is running for a congressional seat against LP bet architect Adonis Simpao.

Teodoro, who was also here yesterday, was welcomed by presidential son Mikey, current representative of the second district.

“I began to take part in the country’s politics during the time of martial law. I can say Pampanga is one of the friendliest areas anywhere in the country. Here my father was number one (when he ran for senator) and my mother registered three times more votes than (the late Ferdinand) Marcos,” Aquino said, pointing out that there were evident signs that Teodoro was not being backed by the administration because the resources were not coming for his cousin and allies were joining Villar’s camp.

He said it could be Mrs. Arroyo’s strategy not to boost support for Teodoro since her endorsement was seen as a kiss of death, but his cousin could not afford to lose allies because resources were not being given.

However, he said he would not advise Teodoro to back out of the race and expose the real deal between Mrs. Arroyo and Villar as what former House speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. reportedly advised.

No Speaker Arroyo under President Aquino

The LP bet also promised that he will not work with President Arroyo as House Speaker because there will be no “Speaker Arroyo under a President Aquino” administration.

“Theoretically, the speaker of the House of Representatives always belongs to the party of the sitting president. Most congressmen will find it hard to distance themselves from the administration,” he said.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD chair Amelita Villarosa admitted last Monday during the birthday Mass for the President in Lubao that members of her party will push for Mrs. Arroyo as their candidate for speaker in the 15th Congress.

Escudero stays with LP

Meanwhile, the kinks between the LP and Sen. Francis Escudero have been ironed out after the latter’s team returned to help the whole party following talks to settle any misunderstanding.

Escudero was set to declare support for Aquino and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, the running mate of former President Joseph Estrada, which did not sit well with party insiders.

Roxas took over the media and other campaign operations for Aquino and the rest of their team after former senator Sergio Osmeña III took a leave of absence as party coordinator to focus on his own senatorial bid.

Escudero’s team was retained to handle Aquino’s media relations.

LP insiders wanted its ranks solidified for the Aquino-Roxas team during the last stretch of the campaign because it is not good to have any talks about an Aquino-Binay faction within the party.

There are also talks of a rift between Escudero and Roxas because the two would likely be rivals in the 2016 presidential elections. This is seen as one of the reasons why Escudero would not declare support for Roxas.

But Roxas has been saying it is too early to talk about another presidential election when the current one is not even through yet.

Aquino clarified someone that had to replace Osmeña and those working under him, and Roxas was the one to do it at the moment.

He said Roxas was not actually “taking over” the LP but the changes were necessary consequences of Osmeña’s need to focus on his campaign.

Aquino refused to comment on Escudero’s support for Binay.

“As far as I’m concerned, when their principal (Escudero) talked to me, we had certain agreements and these agreements are being adhered to. I gave him what he wanted to do and that is being done,” he said. – Helen Flores, Ding Cervantes, Jerry Botial