Friday, February 29, 2008

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: Resign!

For violating Article VII Section 20 of the Philippine Constitution which provides:
"The President may contract or guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines with the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board, and subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. The Monetary Board shall, within thirty days from the end of every quarter of the calendar year, submit to the Congress a complete report of its decision on applications for loans to be contracted or guaranteed by the Government or government-owned and controlled corporations which would have the effect of increasing the foreign debt, and containing other matters as may be provided by law."

The Monetary Board was not consulted and much less its approval asked.

(Thanks to Commenter MVJ for the heads up.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Invitation: Interfaith Prayer Rally

From the Black and White Movement:

Tinatawagan ang publiko na lumahok sa malawakang INTERFAITH PRAYER RALLY na gaganapin sa Biyernes, ika-29 ng Pebrero, 4:30 p.m. - 8 p.m sa kanto ng Ayala Ave. at Paseo de Roxas, Makati.

Alinsunod ito sa panawagan ng CBCP at mga relihiyoso na magkaisa sa puspusang paghahanap sa katotohanan sa likod ng ma-anomalyang ZTE broadband deal at labanan ang katiwalian sa gobyerno.

Huwag tayo magpapaloko at magpapatakot sa mga kumakalat na balitang magkakagulo sa araw ng rally. Ang mga balitang ito ay gawa-gawa ng mga nais takpan ang katotohanan.

Update Feb-28-2008: Black and White Movement, together with Hyatt 10/La Salle 60, MBC, MAP, Manindigan, and other professional and church groups will assemble at the AIM (Paseo de Roxas) Parking lot at 3:00 PM.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gloria Resign!

Randy David summarizes the damage that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has done to our institutions.
" would be a mistake to think this is just about corruption. This is, more importantly, about the long-term damage to a nation’s social institutions.

The damage to government institutions has been the most extensive. Far from being a neutral arbiter of disputes and a source of normative stability, the justice system has become a weapon to intimidate those who stand up to power. Far from being a pillar of public security, the military and the police have become the private army of a gangster regime. Instead of serving as an objective referee in electoral contests, the Commission on Elections has become a haven for fixers who deliver fictitious votes to the moneyed and the powerful. Instead of serving as the steady backbone of public service through successive changes in administration, the government bureaucracy has been turned into a halfway house for political lackeys, misfits and the corrupt. Instead of serving as a check on presidential power, the House of Representatives has become its hired cheering squad.

The erosion of these institutions, no doubt, has been going on for a long time. But their destruction in the last seven years under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency has been the most comprehensive since 1986...
Thanks to Kabayan for spearheading the blogswarm. If people keep up the pressure, I bet she'll be looking over her shoulders more often.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Invitation: EDSA 1 Mass at Baclaran 25 February

From the Black and White Movement:

The Black & White Movement invites everyone to a special Mass in commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of the EDSA 1 People Power Revolution at the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Baclaran, Paranaque, on Monday, 25 February, 3:00 p.m.

We will be joined by former President Corazon Aquino, ZTE-NBN Deal truth teller Jun Lozada and family.

We look forward to seeing you, your family, and friends at this celebration of our nation's gift to the world – People Power.

The Truth is our Perpetual Help.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Timeline: LSGH Brothers' Community as Sanctuary for the Lozada Family

I received this via email.
From: Edmundo Adolfo Fernandez
Date: Thu, Feb 14, 2008 at 5:57 PM
Subject: For the Lasallian Family

Dear Brothers and Partners:

As requested by some members of the Lasallian Family, I am attaching the chronology of events leading to the use of LSGH Brothers' Community as Sanctuary for the Lozada Family.

You may want to distribute to your respective school communities.

Thank you
January 2008
(click on image to enlarge)

February 2008
(click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, February 5
(click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, February 6
(click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, February 7
(click on image to enlarge)
We remain committed to supporting Mr. Lozada in his desire to speak out the truth. We uphold his right to speak the truth as he sees it or as he has experienced it. We are not in a position to judge the veracity of what he has presented or will continue to present as his testimony. That is for the proper investigating bodies to determine. Our only concern, as Christians and as religious, is to make it possible for this Filipino citizen to speak his truth without intimidation or any form of harassment.

As we would for any persons who perceive that their lives are in imminent danger, we are committed to providing sanctuary and a safe abode for Mr. Lozada's family. We believe this to be our duty as Christians and as religious.

Br. Edmundo L. Fernandez FSC
Brother Visitor

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gloria Resign

"Those who have gained power by crime are usually compelled to continue their course" - Descartes
(Thanks to Jen for initiating the blogswarm.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Invitation: Mass for Jun Lozada and Family

Got this from commenter Mike:
From Cory Aquino: Pls join us for the Mass for Jun Lozada and his family on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 10am in La Salle Greenhills Gym. Fr. Manoling Francisco S.J. will lead us in the Eucharistic Celebration. pls invite your relatives and friends.
Update Feb-14-2008: A clarification from the Black and White Movement.
"There have been reports that the Black & White Movement is organizing Friday's protest action in Makati. This is unfair to UNO and Bayan, these organizations are making great efforts to organize it.

The clarion call of our times is for every Filipino to peaceably exercise their right of assembly and to petition for the redress of grievances. We support the Friday protest.

On our part, the Black & White Movement invites everyone to attend the Mass in support of Jun Lozada and family at La Salle Greenhills this Sunday, 17 February, at 10:00 a.m.

Communal action and communal prayer. Indivisibly, SA TOTOO TAYO. Now na!"
Update Feb-17-2008 4:21PM:

I'm glad to see that the Mass this morning was well attended. :-)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Washington Sycip and The Rise of the Technocrats: A Reality Check

The Senate hearing featuring Jun Lozada has brought home the flaws of Washington Sycip's proposed technocrat-led government. A few weeks ago, Manolo Quezon pointed to Sycip's vision:
"...Although [Sycip] was cut short of advising that the government should do away with the elections as this will curtail the rights of the people to vote, Sycip said legislators should be stripped off the powers concerning the economic matters of the country.

This would mean the rise of the technocrats, who should be insulated from the politicians. [emphasis mine] These select people will run the country’s economy and will have the necessary powers to immediately effect change or react in cases of emergency, such as the recent move of the US Federal Reserve to cut its interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point.

Sycip, 87, said these technocrats should be given powers like those of the Bangko Sentral’s, that can either raise or ease interest rates immediately without getting the nod of Congress or consulting the President.
The above is a restatement of an earlier speech he gave to the Management Association of the Philippines where he pondered:
"Should we have an Asian model of democracy where economic and education matters are delegated to a group of technocrats that are insulated from politics? Can we expect an elected congress of politicians to respond to the rapid economic changes taking place in a flat world? After all an independent central bank, with little interference from politicians, seems to work quite well for our banking system."
The inspiration for the above model is of course Singapore where Lee Kuan Yew and his elite cadre have propelled that city-state to economic success.

The predicament of Jun Lozada shows us why a technocrat-led model may not be the right one for the Philippines. While technocrats like him may be competent enough to formulate and implement policies and programs in their given areas of expertise, they would still need to operate in an institutional environment where their competence can be channeled towards the good of the majority. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case. For one thing, Lozada pointed out that the Philippine government has a dysfunctional procurement system.
"The procurement system doesn’t really work. The process of procurement is tailoring the process to the supplier. We don’t look for the best supplier. It should be needs-driven, but now it is supply-driven. Also, there’s no check and balance."
Being the results-oriented technocrat that he is, Lozada then tried to reconcile himself to working with the system by personally deciding on a permissible zone of corruption, which is expressed as a certain percentage of the contract price. Outside this would be the forbidden zone. (I've heard this kind of rationalization a long time back from others, usually from my fellow professional types.) However, as is bound to happen, someone comes along to test the boundaries. If that person is influential enough, then the permissible zone continues to grow often at the expense of the technocrat(s) who originally set such boundaries, and who will then be replaced or overriden by other technocrats who possess larger permissible zones.

This brings us to another one of Sycip's misdirected, or at best incomplete, areas of concern. As seen from the first quote above, Sycip worries about legislative interference, but Lozada's testimony points to another source of interference coming from within the Executive Branch itself. This came in the form of rent-seeking behavior by Abalos who requested Lozada to 'protect' 130 million USD of the contract price and insisted in changing the nature of transaction from a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme to a Loan Arrangement. In his model, Sycip does not adquately address interference coming from this direction. His model also fails to acknowledge situation where the legislature (i.e. the Senate) is the institution that saves the people's money from corruption as in the case of the Senate investigations that led to the cancellation of the NBN/ZTE deal.

Lastly, while Sycip muses about having an "overdose" of democracy, it was actually the Media that saved technocrat Lozada's from his abductors (just as it saved Trillanes from a potential rub-out a few months ago).

In a nutshell, Jun Lozada's experience provides a lesson on how technocrats (or any 'select' group) would be forced to operate in an environment where the leadership is not accountable to the people. In such a situation, anyone who manages to survive a joyride with military-types would be coopted by the very politicians from whom they are supposed to be insulated.

Update Feb-09-2008 8:19PM: Solita Monsod (a former government technocrat herself), reserves her bitterest criticism towards Romulo Neri:
"I reserve my bitterest criticism for Neri. If Mike Arroyo will forever be associated with 'Back off!' Neri will be forever associated with 'Moderate their greed,' if not with the instructions to accommodate projects with powerful “political sponsors.” How could the chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) put his imprimatur on what he knew from the beginning were flawed, overpriced projects, simply because they had powerful political sponsors? Where was his (and the NEDA’s) obligation to make sure that only projects with the highest economic rates of return would be undertaken? And, despite what he knew about the overpricing, how did he manage to calculate a rate of return of 27 percent? Some kind of abracadabra had to be used, because if I remember correctly, the project’s rate of return was originally below the threshold 15 percent level. That really means the NEDA evaluation process has been prostituted."