Mitos Magsaysay

Trapo Alert! Detecting political pandering, part 8

Panderometer

 

Featuring Nancy Binay, Tingting Cojuangco, Jamby Madrigal, Mitos Magsaysay and Cynthia Villar.

This is the eighth part in a series on the candidates for the senate in 2013. Just a recap: I am attempting through this series to have a serious discussion of the aspirants and their political platforms (or lack thereof). These are put through what I call the pander-o-meter to determine whether the policy detail they have released so far places them in either the reformist or populist columns. The following table details the range of possible scores a candidate can get and the equivalent meaning of each reading:

Introducing: the ‘Pander-o-meter’ or Trapo Scale

A reading of… …is equivalent to…

1-2

Low levels of pandering detected, generally reformist in nature

3

A mixed bag of proposals aimed at both pandering and reforming

4

Trapo alert! Approaching dangerous levels of pandering

5

Could be likened to a vote buying trapo

In part 1, I covered Juan Edgardo Angara, JrBenigno Aquino IV and Alan Peter Cayetano. In part 2, I covered Francis Escudero, Risa Hontiveros and Loren Legarda. In part 3, I covered Aquilino Pimentel IIIJoseph Victor Ejercito and Juan Ponce Enrile, Jr. In part 4, I covered Gregorio HonasanErnesto Maceda and Juan Miguel Zubiri. In part 5, I covered Teodoro Casiño, the candidates of Ang Kapatiran Party (John Carlos delos Reyes, Lito David and Mars Llasos), and the candidates of the Democratic Party of the Philippines (Bal Falcone, Christian Señeres and Greco Belgica). In part 6, I covered Grace Poe LlamanzaresEddie Villanueva and Richard Gordon. In part 7, I covered Jun Magsaysay, Edward Hagedorn, Antonio Trillanes, Samson Alcantara, Ramon Montaño and Ricardo Penson.

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Nancy Binay (PDP-Laban-UNA)

The erstwhile assistant of the vice president is gaining the spotlight as she runs for public office for the first time. Having served on the board of her parent’s foundations, Ms Binay is planning to push for health and education services in the senate. Her television ads contain three pledges, which include:

  1. Providing better prenatal and post natal services
  2. Free medicine and nutritional supplements
  3. Education to employment services

It is not clear how her proposals would work. She has not released a detailed policy statement. Her web presence is fairly limited. Her Facebook page contains mostly photos of her and a guy I presume is her partner on the campaign trail. What knowledge we have of her policy prescriptions come from ads and news items.

Ms Binay is banking on the franchise of her family name to assure voters that her promises are backed up with years of assisting her parents in their charities and public service work. Much has been made of her unwillingness to debate Risa Hontiveros on health issues.

While Risa talks in the abstract of making healthcare “more universal” through a systemic reform of the health system, Nancy is using very specific and perhaps targeted health programs that “make it real” to voters. That and the very tangible example of what the Binays have done in Makati is why she seems to be appealing to voters despite the fact that this is her first time to claim the public spotlight.

Unfortunately, we do not know how her programs would be funded and how costly they might turn out to be. It is feasible to do these things in the City of Makati with its rich taxpayers footing the bill for their programs, but doing the same throughout the country will be a major challenge, something that the traditional media has not confronted her with. Indeed, the mainstream media have in a way given Ms Binay a free pass.

I am not saying that her programs cannot be done. All I am saying is that someone will have to foot the bill for them. And without sufficient information regarding how big these programs are intended to be and how they will be funded, we have to take her proposals with a grain of salt.

Pander-o-meter: 4 out of 5

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Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco (UNA)

This former governor, a history and national security buff, is running to create a peaceful end to the conflict in Mindanao and the settlement of the Sabah issue, her long-time passions. After listening to over forty minutes of her being interviewed on cable news regarding her plans, however, it is still not clear to me as to what her roadmap is for bringing this about.

It is such a shame, given her knowledge gained from scholastic and personal pursuits and involvement in the decades’ old peace process, that she is unable or unwilling to articulate a coherent roadmap for a long-term settlement of the conflict in the south. Pity as even her inclination as expressed in the interview tends to veer away from the current course taken by the administration in revamping the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Does that mean the present set up is fine? If so, then why is it that there still is no real peace in the south? What is her alternative plan?

These are serious questions that remain unanswered. She sort of excuses herself for not enunciating a response by saying that ordinary Filipinos are simply not interested in hearing it. That is simply condescending. If one is going to treat voters like children, so that instead of sharing the harsh realities and stark choices, one offers ear candy or things which they presumably want to hear as self-interested individuals, then one shouldn’t be surprised if they return the favour with an equal amount of disdain.

Pander-o-meter: 4 out of 5

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Jamby Madrigal (Liberal-Team PNoy)

Up to now Ms Madrigal’s website has a non-functioning tab for her “Platform”. In other words, she has not even bothered to inform us what her legislative agenda would be if she were to be given another chance to serve in the august chamber of the senate. What are we to make of this?

The only bit of information that exists is her stand on a number of issues from reproductive health to the promotion of eco-tourism. But that really is not nearly enough for us to know what exactly her plan is. Like I have said countless times in this space—it is not acceptable to merely mouth slogans or buzzwords in this campaign. For members of the voting public to support you, you have to provide very concrete measures to address important public policy issues. We know from the bills she has previously authored that Jamby stands for protecting the rights of women and children as well as the environment, so she should lay down an agenda to further those causes over the next six years.

It is not proper to merely use celebrities or gimmicks through social media to gain traction in a bid for a senate seat. There has to be substance. Unfortunately, despite taking some principled stances on certain issues, Ms Madrigal has failed to provide direction to her campaign by laying down a platform. It does not help that her party, the LP and Team PNoy has not come out with a unified stand on issues and a coherent agenda to implement over the course of the next congress. That has left a vacuum for each candidate to fill, which unfortunately Ms Madrigal to this day has failed to attend to.

Pander-o-meter: 3.5 out of 5

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Mitos Magsaysay (PMP-UNA)

This feisty representative from Zambales prides herself with being a “fiscalising” critic of the administration in Congress and vows to do the same if she reaches the upper house. In her bid to attract attention to herself, she runs the risk of being identified as a demagogue with no policy substance whatsoever.

But in fact, if you look at her record in Congress, you will find she has authored a number of significant bills that were passed by the lower house. One of these is an act creating a national student loan board to benefit poor students. If you study this bill closely, you will find that it has some very interesting features. The planned student loan system would be funded by a wage-based levy similar to Philhealth and SSS of anywhere from ½% to 4% of salaries based on a progressive scale (the higher the income, the larger the contribution which sounds complicated to administer). Student loans would be charged 5% annually and have a loan term of 5 years to pay.

I wonder which country Mrs Magsaysay had patterned her proposal after. If she had studied the Higher Education Contributions Scheme or HECS in Australia, she would have learned that five years is too short for student loans accumulated over four years of studies to be paid back. The cost of human capital should be amortised over the working life of an individual, which is at least 20 years.

Another thing is the interest rate. HECS does not charge any interest, or at least commercial rates of interest. It does however index the balance of the loan by about 2.5 per cent every year to keep up with inflation. In addition, a discount is offered for up-front payment of student fees.

The Australian model does not finance student loans with contributions from the working population, but from general appropriations and from repayments of students previously enrolled in the system. Repayments are conditioned on subsequent incomes being commensurate to what is expected of a university graduate. Payments are collected through the tax office in the form of mandatory deductions to one’s personal income. If the person earns less than the threshold, then no repayments are required.

(The recently concluded conference sponsored by the ASEAN and Australia was a forum where Philippine policy makers could have gained a better handle on these issues. Unfortunately, we did not participate in it.)

For this program to work, adequate funding has to be pumped into the coffers of the loan administration equal to the annual student fees collected by state universities and colleges for a number of years. This is until loan repayments from previous cohorts are sufficient to finance the loans of subsequent cohorts. Then the system could potentially be expanded to cover courses offered by private higher educational institutions. When years 11 and 12 are introduced in 2015 and 2016, and there are no incoming freshmen to SUCs, it would be an ideal time to bank some funds in preparation for the launch of the student loan board. I have detailed all this in a previous post.

Mrs Magsaysay has drawn much attention to herself as a firebrand, criticising the administration’s priorities at every turn. She criticises the president’s emphasis on Pantawid Pamilya which encourages primary school enrolment, while she says not enough money is spent boosting tertiary education. The two need not be in conflict, and she should realise this.

Pander-o-meter: 3 out of 5

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Cynthia Villar (Nacionalista-UNA)

Mrs Villar’s record in the lower house shows that she espouses the cause of the vulnerable in society, including seniors, children and women. She has also worked on updating the charters of UP and modernising the Philippine Normal University. When asked about the congressional investigation into nursing education in which she took the side of poorly performing providers rather than the needs of hapless graduates who could not meet the minimum requirements of the profession, she stumbled by denigrating the aspirations of those students, for which she later apologised.

Her platform consists of promoting livelihood programs for women and tree planting activities for environmental conservation purposes. She points to the work that she and her husband Senator Manuel Villar have started in their city in which she served as mayor as evidence that such programs work. It is not clear though exactly how these programs would work at the national level. Does she intend to mandate all local governments to imitate her own pet projects in Las Piñas? Or does she intend for a national agency like the DSWD to manage it? If so, where would the money to finance these programs come from?

This has been a recurring theme in this series. Candidates for the most part are not forthright about the intended size and scale of their proposals. My feeling is that we would need a fiscal sustainability law to force them to cost these and determine the source of funds for them. This would discipline candidates and parties when crafting their policies to provide full transparency and accountability. Without such information, the policies and programs that candidates present are simply pandering to the interests of targeted voters without any care given to their fiscal impact or sustainability.

Pander-o-meter: 4 out of 5

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The final instalment of this series will come in the form of a summary. Stay tuned!

How long is a piece of string?

What yardstick are we using to measure P-Noy’s performance?

The arbitrary, rule of thumb of the first year in office is about to come and go for this administration. The obligatory journalistic pieces assessing the president’s performance have consulted the usual suspects.

Political analysts, polling firms and pundits, the business community and the average man on the street express varying degrees of satisfaction, from impatience on the part of Conrad de Quiros for instance, to a more sanguine position on the part of Mon Casiple. Regardless of their positions, they are essentially in agreement that while one year is too brief a period to expect major change, some demonstrably concrete level of progress or achievement is lacking in the president’s first 365 days in office.

As expected the president’s men were engaged in a charm offensive to address these complaints with Undersecretary Manolo Quezon of the Communications Group appearing on ANC, Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Twitter, and Budget Secretary Butch Abad polemically addressing the issue of economic management. The to-ing and fro-ing has been at times entertaining as in the case of the Valte-Magsaysay twitterverse exchanges and insightful as in the case of Quezon’s revelations about the president’s love life.

The advocates of the president (both in and out of government) say that much has been accomplished. The emphasis on government frugality and public spending restraint has created domestic private investor confidence and a credit ratings dividend according to Cielito Habito. Plugging the leaks in infrastructure spending has generated fiscal space to expand social spending by the end of the year according to Abad. Public private partnerships are “on track” to be consummated this year according to Finance officials.

That in essence is the shortlist of accomplishments brandished by Malacanang. Judging by his poll numbers, the public seems to give P-Noy the nod of approval with 64% expressing satisfaction with his performance.

Is that it, then? Should we give the president a pass too?

Unfortunately, what is missing is a solid discussion over, well…what sort of yardstick is appropriate for measuring the president’s performance. For instance,

• Shall we judge him on what he said he will do?

Based on the president’s anti-Gloria campaign theme, De Quiros now questions why the former president and her ilk have not been brought before any court to answer for her alleged transgressions. Based on his anti-corruption platform, the Management Association of the Philippines now asks why there have been no measures like the Freedom of Information bill or any meaningful reductions in business redtape progressed.

Civil rights advocates wonder what has happened to Jonas Burgos and many other like him. Women’s groups are still waiting for the RH Bill to be passed. Farmers are wondering what happened to the resolution of Hacienda Luisita. The ordinary man on the street wonders where the jobs are and the relief from the rising cost of living. These were issues PNoy promised to resolve once in office.

• On the other hand, should we judge him based on his ability to prudently modify or alter what he said he would do?

Those with a nationalist agenda like Teddy Casino say P-Noy is delivering more of the same as far as economic policy goes, and hopes he will re-think his developmental economic strategy. The anxiety felt by Casino and others like him (Walden Bello for instance) is that the quality of growth is poor and insufficient to make a dent on unemployment.

Budget analyst Ben Diokno is looking for a two-step tax reform process that will make the system fairer and more effective at raising revenues. Both of these policy prescriptions run counter to the “steady as she goes” pronouncements that PNoy made during the election season.

Measuring up

The answer to the question, what yardstick do we use, depends on whether you are a strict contractualist or not. Some will say, we should evaluate the president plainly on what he said he would do, and nothing more. For me, however, I believe that given the tenor of the campaign, there were promises that were bound to be made in the spur of the moment, which need to be reconsidered.

The problem for the president of course is, whether you adhere to the strict contractual sense or not, he has failed to register meaningful progress on many fronts. So the question then becomes, how much time should we give him before we start downgrading his performance assessment? How long before we start saying that the president has either reneged or foolishly forged ahead down a dead end path?

Should we give him another six months? A full year? Two years? It’s like asking the question, how long is a piece of string?

After all, for the marginalized groups awaiting resolution to decade’s old injustices, their well-being has been put on hold for far too long. The well-healed chattering classes may feel aggrieved that bringing justice to Arroyo has been delayed, but their grief is nothing compared to what farmers and human rights abuse victims have suffered.

Similarly for those denied access to education, healthcare, sanitation and protection from the elements, the experiment to improve tax collection without a root and branch reform process would prove to be the most costly of all, if it fails. Is it therefore worth the gamble?

Perhaps, it is in addressing the needs of the least of our brethren that the president ought to be judged. In his “Back to the Future” moment, the president like his mother in the mid-1980s seemed to have prioritized the needs of rich creditors and bondholders over that of poor and marginalized stakeholders. Private investments have improved the skyline, but public investment failed to raise more out of the poverty line.

How long is a piece of string? Well we will have to wait and see…

Nothing New

Strange but true, the cat calls made by Mrs Arroyo and her allies have goaded the P-Noy administration to return fire.

Over the weekend, as the country suffered from the effects of yet another powerful cyclone, there was a different kind of disturbance inserted into twitterverse with Congresswoman Mitos Magsaysay and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte quareling over the economic legacy of Mrs Arroyo.

The tempest in a teacup was over whether P-Noy was up to the task of maintaining the momentum. Today, the Cabinet’s chief ideologue, Budget Sec Butch Abad joined the fray. From the government’s official gazette, Abad was quoted as saying

It is amusing at the same time galling for Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to lecture President Noynoy Aquino about building on the gains of her government. The first question that comes to mind is what gains? The people’s gains, or her gains? …Prudent expenditure took a back seat to political survival and political patronage during the previous administration.

It is worth noting that whenever the opposition bring up Mrs Arroyo’s glowing economic credentials, the administration can only point to the waste and alleged corruption in her government as a counterargument.

The irony is that contrary to their claim that good governance leads to growth, the administration in its first year has proven that actually cleaning up government can have the unintended consequence of lowering growth. The silver lining in all of this is that as Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda claims the administration has completed its housecleaning, spending and growth can resume their normal pace.

Sensitive for a reason

In its second year, having made good on its promise to clean up processes for procurement, the government is now prepared to make good on its promise to bring about better economic outcomes. It is hoping to do this with an 8-12% boost to its budget in 2012 (after a nominal growth of 2% last year) and a re-alignment of physical infrastructure spending to social spending for the remainder of 2011 (having missed the chance to spend on the former during the dry season).

At this point, the administration seems vulnerable on two fronts, the first being that it has not delivered on its clean government completely having fallen victim to potential charges of cronyism, the so called KKK (kaibigan, kaklase, kabarilan). The second one has to do with the less than stellar employment and growth figures in its first year.

The real subtext of the opposition’s attack is that P-Noy’s government has been inept at delivering both good governance AND growth. With stiff economic headwinds from a souring world economy over the next twelve months resulting from austerity measures in Europe and the US, the government’s growth target of 5-6% may be difficult to attain given the weak first half of the year.

Key to the attainment of the government’s growth projections will be its ability to attract foreign direct investments as fund managers look to emerging markets to offset the bleak outlook in the West. The problem is that during the first three quarters of his presidency, investments from abroad have sunk. While the slack may have been made up for by domestic investors, the same cannot be expected to hold true in the future after domestic pent-up demand for new plant and equipment runs out.

Should the public private partnerships fail to gain traction in a timely fashion, it could spell the end for investment prospects in the latter part of the year. Having staked all its eggs in the PPP basket, the big risk is that the absence of an alternative economic strategy or Plan B could lead to a loss of public support for this government. Having refused to look at new taxes, the government’s revenues and spending capacity are totally dependent on the economy growing as expected.

Binary Choices

From psychology we have learnt that the mind can only distinguish things in contrast to others. That is why we can relate to stories that use binary opposites (good versus evil, light versus darkness). Our eyes are not trained to see a black strand when it is set against a black canvass. We need to see things in black and white.

The same goes for the narrative of this government. Its legitimacy came from distinguishing itself from the previous administration in terms of honesty and integrity. Its continuing popularity is based on its ability to make that contrast.

When it was in opposition, it claimed that Arroyo’s economic record was tarnished because it was not able to translate economic growth to the welfare of its citizens. It claimed it alone could do that through a good government agenda. Now that it is in government, it is finding that its own economic management is being called into question.

The nationalist legislator Teddy Casino, an ally of the president has stated that the main reason why the economic performance of the Aquino administration does not differ from the Arroyo regime is not because it has failed to address good governance, but because it has failed to set a different economic agenda. He may not be too far off the mark.

In the end, the tendency of governments to turn to patronage as a form of political survival is not due to their failure to bring about good governance, but because of their failure to make economic growth felt by the broader community. For this reason, the charge that P-Noy is doing nothing new, may be the most damaging of all.

A Beautiful Day

It’s a new day. Falcon has left the nation, and the Sun is finally shinning. We now begin to pickup the pieces. The realization that now needs to take place is this. We need to be masters of the rain.

In the aftermath of Falcon, there was a running debate between Palace spokesperson @abi_valte and Congresswoman @mitosmagsaysay. The former in her capacity as the Voice of the Palace. The latter in her capacity as Congresswoman Arroyo’s proxy. It was a spirited debate on flood control. Ms. Valte argued that in the 9 years of GMA, there was no sort of Flood Control program. Magsaysay argued that in the year Aquino was in power, the government did nothing.

This is the beauty of democracy after all. We have a discussion of the issues. We see the differences of ideas, and differences of opinion and philosophy.

Ms. Valte’s arguments are sound. Nine years of the former regime and this is where the nation find itself in. Picking up pieces of the puzzle, and trying desperately to put it all together. At times it would be like the seems are falling apart. And often, failing miserably.

Pick one branch of government to be its poster boy, and you would find a microcosm of the entire government. Spratlys? Just look at the Philippine Navy’s flagship? Social Media? If you people only know how Team @govph and the guys from DOST are managing to keep servers together, those people ought to have an award. It goes on and on, from education to healthcare to local government to police.

I would imagine the Philippines to be the Millennium Falcon. A hunk of junk on the inside and the outside. It is a miracle it flies. And it flies because underneath all the politics, there are still brave men and women in government keeping the cogs running.

Ms. Magasaysay has a point too. In the last year of the Aquino government, why is there still flooding in Metro Manila, and elsewhere? And this is the trust of the government’s critics. They seem to say, “You guys are this good, and you make the rest of us look bad (i.e. GMA), why aren’t things better?” It is the same old trust: be better. Rebuild it. And yet they too fall short. All they have are complaints and no solutions. It would be great that as they critic government for its in action they give a counter-proposal. What has Congress done lately for flood control, Ms. Magsasysay?

To a degree, these critics have a point. To a degree. The last year hasn’t been perfect. One of the biggest hurdles this government hasn’t been able to overcome, what I call, Bureaucratic inertia. We have to overcome, gravity. There is an escape velocity momentum that needs to be reached, and in some degree, it hasn’t, couldn’t or the government forced itself not to.

One of the reasons I’ve observed in the last year as to why Government purposely forced itself not to overcome this inertia is because of a strict adherence to law. It can not simply stop doing things because it is a good idea to. There is a long litany of laws and statures that could prevent it from doing so. The government can not just break the law. And this is gravity at work.

So you will find in many instance, the Aquino government has purposely slowed things down. Whether it is spending or awarding contracts, or executing a plan. It is slow, and excruciating.

Looking back at Ms. Magsaysay’s argument that the government hasn’t done much in the past year. In the issue of Weather? And response?

@MMDA has done for example a remarkable job at handling the event. Yes, the city sank, but these people were communicating with the public tirelessly over the last few days. They have responded to events professionally.

PAGASA has radically changed in the year Aquino was swept in power. We do get updates, and we do get forecasts. They are now more communicative with the public. Yes, there are issues. PAGASA has still great difficulty translating the information they get into layman’s language. What I’ve observed is that this isn’t just a PAGASA issue. Most of the local weather forecasters like typhoon2000.com send us a whole litany of data. We still need to get these people to be able to communicate to the public in non-scientific terms. To simplify the information. I think is is more about getting scientists to communicate.

PAGASA sensors have been doing a good job. It isn’t perfect by far. And there are still loads of issues that need to be addressed. The issue of rainfall prediction hasn’t been addressed. Whether this is a matter of lacking the equipment to properly do the job, or lack of qualified personnel to do so, I do not know. My point is, PAGASA has come a long way.

There is a wealth of difference between Government’s response to Ondoy, and the Government’s response to Falcon. And there is a wealth of difference in the response to the flooding in Mindanao and the damage in the nation’s capital.

The one in Manila seemed to be being handled rather well. The disaster in Cotabato, the impression is the response has been slow. Whether it is because the news hasn’t been explosive, or because gravity in Mindanao is far, far more powerful, I do not know.

The talk on flood control for Metro Manila is a complex beast. It has been the topic of discussion for years. I believe the solution is a myriad different things.

First, and very importantly is the social context. No amount of technology is going to work unless we the people stop clogging our sewers with Garbage. There now has to be a consensus among people living in our cities to dispose of our garbage properly. There has to be a better way to dispose of this garbage and it must be an intercity solution. For Metro Manila, it can not simply be Quezon City doing one thing, or Makati doing another thing. It has to be a consensus.

Second, I think our cities really need to adhere to strict building permits and analyze weaknesses in Metro Manila. @mlq3 did an Ondoy portmortem in which he pointed out a study in 2003 an vulnerabilities for the nation’s capital. This is something local government should do, and ought to be doing. This isn’t limited to Metro Manila, but elsewhere, and throughout the country. It is time to step up. This is, I argue something they, and we can do without having to look to the National government to save us.

Third, of course is the technology. What can flood control be doing. What should we do with our dams, and how do we get decent water into the city, and still irrigate our countryside without relying heavily on our dams.

The Issue of “flood control”, is a complex beast that tackles not just Metro Manila’s issues, but also the areas surrounding it. The matter of our dams, and irrigation is something that ought to be addressed and it is our long term planning that need to be put in place.

This is an issue that touches base with so many people. The answers are complex. Yet, we can do it as communities. It has to start with communities. If for so many years, our nation has relied on the national government to save our collective asses, now is the time that each community can take it upon themselves to start that processes. It is this culture of Bayanihan on the ground that we have to instill and practice.

To critic the government is one thing. It is easy to critic someone, to be a backseat driver. So as much as I respect Ms. Magsaysay and Ms. Arroyo’s and the government’s critics, they should back it up with counterproposals and solutions. Not just appealing to people’s fears. And not just Magasaysay and Arroyo, the whole of us who critic the government. The simple snide cynical, and often bitter comments are no longer enough. It isn’t enough anymore to say, “PNoy, you suck! Or Ganun talaga si PNoy, isang tamad na presidente or Ah, that’s because he spends his time dating.”

That is the gospel of old.

That’s not enough anymore. It just makes people irrelevant. So, “With or without you”, would the nation go?

“Sleight of hand, and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait without you

With or without you
With or without you

Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you”

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ye8GLPUVsM[/tube]

Could we blame Gloria Arroyo? In a way she carries that blame having been in power for Nine years, but generations before could be blamed too. The problems we are facing now is indicative of who we are as a nation. We haven’t been the deep, forward looking people. Call this our coming of age. Now comes the time when we grow up, and build a nation.

I think this is a better song to describe where we are as a nation.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSZv9KKf0g0[/tube]

This is the day after Falcon. The sun is shinning. Now, we march forward into nation building. And nation building isn’t simply about complaining about how the government sucks. It’s what you can do for your country. It’s a Beautiful Day.

Palace: GMA did not leave a flood control program

Palace spokesperson @Abi_Valte wrote on her twitter, “9 years of GMA in office and yet wala kaming inabutang flood control plan. nagkandahilo na si Chairman Tolentino sa kakahanap pero wala.” She goes on to let @mitosmagsaysay know that it takes longer than six months to implement flood control plans because there is a need to upgrade and repair infrastructure.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/abi_valte/status/84465688751771648″]
[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/abi_valte/status/84465331661316097″]
[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/abi_valte/status/84457918375788544″]
[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/abi_valte/status/84457446227197953″]
[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/abi_valte/status/84456908982992896″]

Arroyo party breaking up; First Gentleman blamed

Arroyo party breaking up; First Gentleman blamed
Mike A ‘called up’ Garcias to back Villar
By TJ Burgonio, Aquiles Zonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Reports that First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo is backing another presidential candidate forced Gilbert Teodoro Jr. to quit as chair of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, party mates said Wednesday.

The administration party teetered on disintegration after Lakas president Sarangani Gov. Miguel “Migz” Dominguez and party secretary general Francis Manglapus followed Teodoro’s lead and quit their posts Wednesday.

“It’s true. The First Gentleman and his allies are supporting Manny Villar. That may have triggered Teodoro’s resignation,” said a Lakas senatorial candidate, who asked not to be named.

Even before the start of the national campaign on Feb. 9, it was an “open secret” among his party mates that Mike Arroyo was bankrolling the campaign of the Nacionalista Party presidential candidate, the administration senatorial candidate said.

“And he (Teodoro) doesn’t believe that GMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) doesn’t know about this,” he added.

Teodoro quit as party chair Tuesday purportedly to focus on his campaign, and to allow the party to tap a full-time chair who could respond to the needs of local officials.

Because of reports that Mike Arroyo is backing Villar, the NP standard-bearer’s allies in Lakas-Kampi-CMD, especially the original members of Kampi, have started to defect to Villar’s camp. The most recent among them was Cebu Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, according to the Lakas senatorial candidate.

A number of Lakas stalwarts in Mindanao have also declared their support for Villar—among them Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas, who also defected to the NP; Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy, the Lakas chair in the province; and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri.

Luis “Chavit” Singson, presidential assistant on national security, also recently announced his resignation as Lakas coordinator in Ilocos and declared himself an independent candidate for governor of Ilocos Sur. Later he said he was backing Villar.

He said he had to address his differences with the Lakas standard-bearer. “When Gibo was secretary of defense, he did not give me an appointment. Despite my many attempts for us to meet, he did not give me time,” Singson said.

More than halfway through the campaign, the former defense secretary trails Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Villar and deposed President Joseph Estrada in surveys, stuck at 6 percent.

Gossip

The opposition has claimed that Villar who is battling Aquino for No. 1 in the polls was Ms Arroyo’s “secret candidate,” an allegation dismissed by presidential spokespersons as “black propaganda.”

“That’s absolutely, completely false. That’s gossip. As far as I know, they’re supporting Gibo,” Mike Arroyo’s lawyer Ruy Rondain said.

But a second source confirmed that Teodoro’s resignation was prompted by the Arroyos’ support for Villar.

Mike’s call to Garcias

A party official, who requested anonymity, said Teodoro uncovered the shift of support when members of the Garcia family of Cebu decided to jump ship and support Villar.

When the support of the Garcias for Villar became public, Teodoro went to Cebu and confronted Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, the source said.

Only the governor has remained in the Teodoro camp among the Garcias.

“Gibo was so furious when he learned of the Garcias’ support of Villar. So he went to Cebu to talk with Gwen. There, he was informed about what really took place,” the source said.

He said “Gwen told Gibo during their one-on-one talk that the First Gentleman had called them up, the reason why other members of the Garcia clan switched support to Villar.”

Villar’s denial

As expected, Villar denied that he was the “secret” candidate of Malacañang and that he was enjoying financial support from the Arroyos.

“I did not ask [for money] from Malacañang and I don’t wish to receive any,” Villar said in a statement quoting what he said in a press conference.

He maintained that he was not an administration accomplice, noting that as then chair of the Senate committee on public order, he headed the probe of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game, that allegedly involved Ms Arroyo and some members of her family.

He also pointed out that NP stalwarts Gilbert Remulla and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano led the congressional inquiries into the “Hello Garci” and ZTE-NBN scandals.

Since his ouster from the Senate presidency, Villar said he had not talked to either Ms Arroyo or her husband.

Lack of funds

Teodoro’s decision to quit and run his own campaign was proof of the party’s lack of funds, according to Mayor Ramon Guico of Binalonan, Pangasinan.

“That shows that the party has no money,” said Guico, also a Lakas senatorial candidate.

“We’re aware that local candidates are badgering him (Teodoro) for funds. But what if the party doesn’t give him any funds? What can he do? How can the machinery campaign for him if there are no funds?” said Guico.

Guico, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said he received a barrage of text messages from mayors Wednesday, asking whether the party had funds.

Two weeks ago, Teodoro said he had received funds from the party, but was unaware if the senatorial candidates had received any.

Need for full-time chair

Reggie Velasco, deputy secretary general, maintained that there was nothing more to Teodoro’s resignation than the need for a full-time chair to attend to the needs of local officials.

“We have funds. But with so many candidates running, there has to be someone who is agreeable to make optimal use of these funds,” he said by phone.

Even before party members could come to grips with Teodoro’s resignation, Dominguez and Manglapus quit Wednesday as president and secretary general, respectively.

Courtesy to the Excom

After talking on the phone Wednesday morning, Manglapus said he and Dominguez offered their resignations to the executive committee to give it a free hand in choosing the next chair.

But like Teodoro, both are staying on as party members.

“After Gilbert decided to relinquish his post, it’s just natural [for us to resign] as a courtesy to the executive committee so they will have the flexibility to decide who will be the next chair,” Manglapus said at the party headquarters on EDSA.

Besides, he added: “We came in as a package.” He, however, said he might reconsider his resignation should the party decide to retain him as secretary general.

In the party’s Nov. 19, 2009, convention, party members approved resolutions nominating Teodoro as chair, Edu Manzano as vice chair, Dominguez as president and Manglapus as secretary general.

If the principle of automatic succession were followed, either Manzano or his fellow vice chair Oscar Moreno would replace Teodoro, officials said.

Manglapus, son of the late Sen. Raul Manglapus, said he would now focus solely on Teodoro’s campaign, while Dominguez would focus on his reelection as governor.

Manglapus squelched speculations that Teodoro had in effect abandoned the party, and even his candidacy.

“We’re going full blast with the campaign,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s still the official candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.”

Demoralized

Teodoro’s announcement, however, has shocked many of his party mates, leaving some of them demoralized.

Guico said he was “hurt” and “demoralized” by the resignation because Teodoro did not consult him and the other senatorial candidates.

“We’re like children abandoned by their father. He should have consulted us,” he said.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay demanded that party leaders call a meeting. “They should explain to us what really happened. We have a right to know.”

Nograles confused

Speaker Prospero Nograles was among those taken aback by the spate of resignations from Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“The resignation is a shock to me and (was made) without any consultation from us, the previous leaders of the party. I am now confused and seem to be out of the loop,” Nograles said in a text message to reporters.

Nograles said the local troops were also confused. “What has happened to our party? To each his own?” he asked.

What would happen now to the campaigns of Manzano and the six Lakas senatorial candidates?

“Everything is status quo. It’s best for the party. They can take care of the needs of the local candidates,” Manglapus said.

Dominguez said majority of the members of the League of the Provincial Governors of the Philippines were still behind Teodoro.

Asked why he resigned as Lakas president, Dominguez said he was only following Teodoro. “I go where my party chair goes,” he said. With a report from Gil Cabacungan