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Laughingstock likely to land third

JUST three months to election day, the field of candidates for the presidency is the weirdest ever in Philippine history. Other than a disqualification (or incapacity), not a single analyst — given Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s over 50 percent ratings in the polls — will dare say it “ain’t over till it’s over.”

What makes the elections a bit Kafkaesque is that Leni Robredo, billed in the running just a few months ago, is now viewed universally as a laughingstock, which even her strategists concede to be so. Every week, it seems, she makes a gaffe that makes people wonder why in the first place did the Liberal Party — or the “Pinklawans” — ever think she could be president. How the hell do you reverse a perception of being dumb in just three months?

Why, as she showed in that ridiculous simultaneous interview by Jessica Soho of the four candidates — which by any measure cannot be called a debate — she can’t even understand a simple instruction as reacting to a set of pictures with just one word. Nothing she has said has impressed Filipinos that she could be president.

Even her strategists think so. Slide from the Robredo camp’s ‘Il Figlio’ assessment.

What adds to the absurdity of the presidential elections is that one candidate is running simply “for the funds of it,” appealing for “campaign funds” from taipans he has been friendly with and even helpful to for his “muscle” since President Estrada’s time, which — the donors know — he intends only to be his huge retirement fund. That really could run into hundreds of millions.

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Did Ninoy torpedo the Marcos economy to sink it?

I AM convinced so. But you decide. I provide you with data and information.

Indeed, it’s not just an academic question these days. With Ferdinand Marcos’ son running for the presidency, the shoo-in, it seems now there has been a resurgence of articles by the Yellows claiming that the Marcos era was an economic disaster, so that Bongbong has no moral right to lead the country.

For instance, a Philippine Star amateur columnist in two columns pontificated that “statistics” (he actually means economic measures as GDP) such as the anemic 3.8 percent during Marcos’ 21-year rule prove so. He says that’s one reason Bongbong should not run for the presidency. That’s total baloney.

The Marcos regime’s economic performance must be divided into two parts, or else it cannot be understood: how could Filipinos live in such a “dark age” for 13 years?

The first period was from 1972 to 1980, which I term, to irritate the Yellows, Marcos’ “Golden Years” during which GDP growth surged to an average 6 percent, one of the highest rates since the Republic was born; better than that of Cory Aquino’s at 3.9 percent and Fidel Ramos’ at 4.8 percent.

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Enforce the US-backed arbitration award, and we lose our Kalayaan Island Group

I’M really convinced that Aquino 3rd’s Foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario, hasn’t really read the 479-page decision by an arbitral panel on the suit that the Aquino 3rd administration brought against China in January 2013 and which he is so proud of. Or maybe he dozes off in the middle of reading it?

Harsh words, but that is the only explanation I can think of why he can’t understand what is so plain: if we comply with the arbitration award, we lose the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG). And he has never commented on this issue I’ve raised several times.

Ferdinand Marcos Sr. carved this territory out of the Spratlys in 1978 through his Presidential Decree 1596, 16 years before the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) took effect in 1994. We could do so since other than Marcos’ audacity, we were the US’ staunchest and most powerful ally in Southeast Asia. The KIG consisted not only of islands, rocks, atolls within that hexagon, but all the waters within it.

Yet Aquino 3rd’s lawyers in the arbitration hearing claimed that the Philippines’ signing of the Unclos in effect repealed that presidential decree. The arbitration’s rulings on what are legitimate baselines (i.e., the means for determining an island’s territorial sea and exclusive economic zone), the lawyers claimed, meant that the KIG was illegal under Unclos.

The US State Department issued this month its “Limits in the Seas No. 150” which fully supported the arbitration award, that China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea are illegal.

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Bongbong’s beyond gravity now

IN a TV interview, the late President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s spokesman was obviously whistling past the graveyard when he insisted that “gravity” would be pulling down presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s high, over-50 percent ratings as voters’ choice in various opinion surveys.

That reminded me of a favorite analogy of a witty political and business analyst in the 1990s. He referred to the taipans who have amassed so much resources that they will practically never go bankrupt since they have achieved “escape velocity” and are “in orbit”, beyond gravity’s pull.

Going by surveys by different pollsters — even one commissioned by Leni Robredo’s supporter Albert del Rosario — and a most recent one by the Marcos Media Bureau’s Swiss consultant who polled 3,600 respondents, Marcos seems to now be beyond gravity. Robredo, going by the numbers, as well as other aspirants have been dismal “failures to launch.” (Note the respondents numbered 3,600 compared to the 1,200 usually polled by most polling firms, which means a very small margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.)

In the Swiss consultant’s poll, Marcos is the choice of 62 percent of respondents, up from the 51 percent preference reported by the most recent Social Weather Station poll. Robredo’s has gone down from the 20 percent in the first week of December to 15 percent in the most recent poll (Table 1).

TABLE 1. PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS’ VOTING PREFERENCE

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Pandemic unravels the invention called democracy

ONLY if you can’t even discuss its possibility that you will refuse to see the implications of the data that stares you in the face.

It has been the exemplars of a democratic system — the US, India and European countries — that have terribly failed their citizens in containing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The US, the richest country in the world and the self-appointed enforcer of democracy all over the world, is down on its knees with an unbelievable 62 million of its people having contracted Covid-19 and 861,003 killed — so far. India, the world’s biggest democracy, is competing for the No. 2 spot with the US as the worst hit country with the most deaths.

On the other side of the world and the political spectrum, the People’s Republic of China, with its single-party system and the first to be hit by the pandemic, has only 104,000 cases, less than 0.2 percent that of the US, and 4,600 deaths or 0.5 percent of the US’. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is doing better than the Republic of the Philippines.

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Reds to extort P10B from candidates in 2022 polls

DESPITE its major setbacks — the killing of several of its top leaders and attacks on its camps — as a result of President Duterte’s intense campaign against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), the 2022 elections will likely boost the rebels’ financial resources, sources in the intelligence committee as well as in the insurgency claimed.

Since 2001, the CPP-NPA has been demanding — extorting — money from candidates for what they call their permits to campaign (PTCs) and permits to win (PTWs) in areas of which the NPA claims to have control. Without a PTC, a candidate’s people campaigning in an area the NPA controls are either harassed or outrightly killed by the rebel group. With the more expensive PTW, on the other hand, which are undertaken in remote areas the NPA controls, it assures the candidate’s victory. (The term “permit to campaign” is derived from the widely known “permit to carry” a gun outside the owner’s home.)

It’s certainly ironic but emblematic of the communists’ depravity that they are exploiting the most important exercise of a democracy — elections — to raise money to fund their project to destroy that democracy. It certainly worsens corruption in government, especially on the local levels, as a winning candidate would recover the money extorted from him through graft.

A scholarly paper written by former CPP central committee member Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, now a Dutch academic, a few years back explained:

No wonder they got spic-and-span uniforms. PHOTO: WWW.CPP.PH
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