About Philippine Priorities

This is about a comment about Filipino priorities by Singaporean banker chempo at Joe America’s blog. It has made me seriously ask: what priorities does the Philippines have?

To fight corruption?

Merlion, Merlion Park, Singapore - 20130315-04This is the relevant part of chempo’s comment:

If the objective is to help fight corruption — I can name other priorities —
– Anti-Dynasty Act
– Banking Secrecy Act — repeal or amend to permit criminal investigations,
– Persons-with-criminal-records-cannot-sit-in-congress/senate- or- some- other- high- institutions Act,
– Anti-universal Sufferage Act — no person or institution can demand group endorsement of candidates in an election,
– Anti-Corruption Unit Act — set up an independent body with wide ranging powers to investigate.
– Anti-bloody-nonsense TRO Act
– Anti-Representation Act — charge all giver and taker, tax-disallow representation expenses.
– Anti-switching-of-parties-after-election Act
– Serious-Notarisation Act — have proper gazetted lawyers to do this, not in a side street that advertises “Notary Services” & “Photocopy Services” on the same sign board, parties need to appear personally with ID and proper attire (respect for the law and a solemn event) — cannot send messengers.
ETC ETC ETC — give me time, I can give you 100 priorities.

To dispense justice?

Well, I answered and named two more priorities for the country:

1) Legal reform – the Criminal Code Draft of 2014 was just the beginning as is somewhere in that goddam lazy Congress.

2) Justice reform – Rizal said more than a hundred years ago that the reason why the English are respected in their possesions is their swift and speedy justice system. He was criticizing Spanish judges and the Penal Code of 1884 which is STILL today’s Filipino law.

To look good?

APEC 2015 TrafficTo be fair, the Congress and Senate have finished quite a few laws in the past years and the President signed them.  I did give credit to this here:

At least there is now a Philippine Competition Commission, meaning the Philippine Competition Act is being implemented. We worried about IRRs some months ago.

BUT I have a caveat – I read that Philippines EU FTA (free trade agreement) talks have started. Guess what one requirement of the EU was for FTA – you got it, competition legislation and implementation. We Filipinos – me included – need pressure to get moving.

A few reactions

Joe America’s answer – for which one must remember that former NEDA Secretary Balicasan, a man of high competence and integrity, is now heading the Philippine Competition Commision:

Yes, I was impressed that they met the deadlines. Commission formed, a good data-oriented, analytical head appointed. Saved me a blog article to complain about it, because I was tracking it. Kudos to both Aquinos, senatorial and presidential.

In the publications of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Manila there is an an article about Aquino’s 2015 SONA which specifically mention the Philippine Competition Act:

The Philippines has seen steady economic growth in the past years. In addition to that, the new Competition Act is a positive signal for international investors.
Back to the beginning of chempo’s comment, which I quote which it is appropriate in this context:
We have to ask ourselves first and foremost, what is the objective of the FOI in the case of Philippines? My base feeling is it’s just a showpiece — to show the world there, we too now have an FOI. We have joined the league of “clean” nations.

Figuring out things

Bmw welt + headquaterMy New Year article mentions the clean and dirty kitchen in the houses of those Filipinos who can afford it:

Because of colonialism, the Philippines have had the clean and dirty kitchen everywhere. The clean kitchen to be shown to guests, especially foreigners, and the dirty kitchen were the maids cook. Daang Matuwid was theoretically about honesty, about cleaning up the dirty kitchen. The Ombudsman seems to be hyperactive in smoking out corruption; BIR seems to have been cleaned while Customs remains a problem. And yes, charges were pressed in the Tanim-Bala scam. BBL was not handled well, and has failed. The MRT and Manila traffic not handled with enough foresight.

Walls were built to hide squatters from both visitors of the UNCTAD V conference in Manila during Marcos times, and the Pope. Does it sound similar to some things that happened this year? Yes. There are more honest Filipinos now than then in my opinion, but brutal honesty must increase. Not to hit back at “the other side”, but to solve the many problems the country has. The country is in the process of maturing, and maturity means adressing issues without resorting to passive-aggressive sullenness or denial on one side and aggressive blaming on the other.

Get Real Philippines is looking at President Aquino’s dirty kitchen all the time, while ignoring Marcos’ much dirtier kitchen. President Aquino, by virtue of having been in the United States and his mother having been there too, does have a bit of an American attitude about kitchens I think. Just like some of Aquino’s supporters have bit of an American attitude to dogs. Could this be the problem of Daang Matuwid, and most especially the Roxas campaign? The group that runs it is definitely well-meaning and seems to know what it is doing at least in theory. But they live in the clean kitchen part of the country. The Fast Forward video ad of Mar Roxas shows it clearly. And Korina Sanchez nearly fits the stereotype of the old Apo Hiking Society Song “Ang Syota Kong Burgis” (my high-class girlfriend): di pupuwede, sakay sa jeepney, sobrang usok at sikip. She can’t rid a jeepney with me, it’s too smoky and crowded.

Has Mar Roxas ever taken the MRT to work from Cubao where he lives to DILG which is EDSA Corner Quezon Avenue? Former Interior Minister Günther Beckstein of Bavaria took the Tram No. 19 every day to work. Angela Merkel goes shopping in the evenings – accompanied by some security people of course – and cooks for her husband in the evening. To Filipinos who can’t believe this, much like Europeans did not believe Marco Polo when he came back: the thing about Beckstein I just remember, and about Angela Merkel is in TIME magazine – there you have a US source:

Unified Germany is a relatively new democracy. It has no finished official residence, and if it did, Merkel would continue to live in the central Berlin apartment she shares with her husband, whose name is on the buzzer. “I always show it to Latin American visitors,” says Wissmann, who was Transportation Minister when Merkel ran the environment department. “I don’t know if it’s 100 square meters or 120, but that’s for a world leader. She is living modestly.”

The most powerful woman in the world does her own grocery shopping, dragging a small security contingent to the German equivalent of Kroger’s. “If you have good luck, you meet her on a Friday afternoon at the supermarket buying a bottle of white wine and a fish for dinner for her and her husband,” says Wissmann. “That’s not a show.”

I did like Duterte a bit when I first heard about him, the fact that he dresses simply and talks to the people of Davao regularly. But some of his statements have shown that he is too much from the dirty kitchen of the Philippines. So what does this have to do with priorities? I can only quote one of my favorite movies. This is from the end of Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone:

John Spartan: Whoa, Whoa. I’ll tell you what gonna do:
John Spartan: [to Chief Earle] Why don’t you get a little dirty?
John Spartan: [to Edgar] You a lot clean.
John Spartan: And somewhere in the middle… I don’t know. You’ll figure it out.
Alfredo Garcia: Fuckin’ A!
John Spartan: [impressed] Well put.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 3. February 2016

16 thoughts on “About Philippine Priorities

  1. Let us go back to priority legislative measures

    “A core group comprising the Offices of the Executive Secretary, Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, Cabinet Secretary, Presidential Legislative Liaison, and the LEDAC Secretariat organized and conducted a Cabinet Cluster workshop on July 15, 2013 to come up with a list of proposed priority legislative measures for the 16th Congress.

    In his opening remarks, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. pointed out the objective of the activity to limit the proposed measures depending upon their level of importance as input to or consistent with the President’s SONA.

    PLLO Secretary Manuel Mamba presented the status of the 15th Congress CLA. On the accomplishment of the 15th Congress, Mamba emphasized the 467 new laws enacted as of July 15, 2013 and 28 more for Presidential action. 73 of said laws are of national application and 15 of which are LEDAC CLA.

    DOF Secretary Cesar Purisima presented the proposed priority legislative measures of the Economic Development Cluster, as follows: (1) Removing investment restrictions in specific laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List; (2) Amendments to RA 7718 of the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, as amended; (3) Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime; (4) Transparency and Accountability in Administration of Fiscal Incentives/Fiscal Incentives Rationalization; (5) Amendments to RA 8974 – An Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Right-of-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and for Other Purposes; (6) Amendments to the Cabotage Law; (7) Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA); (8) Amendments to the BSP Charter; and (9) Further Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

    DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo proposed to include the following: (a) Amendment to Consumer Act, which aims to incorporate the Lemon Law and update the Consumer Act because of the growing e-commerce, and (b) Competition Law.

    DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya also proposed to include the following: (a) Creation of National Transport Safety Board; (b) Strengthening MARINA to be made as single maritime agency in terms of STCW compliance; (c) extending the term of PNR, and; (d) amendment to LRTA charter.

    DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan presented the proposed priority legislative measures of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster (HDPR), i.e., Magna Carta of the Poor and National Land Use Act, respectively. Secretary Soliman also proposed to include the following HDPRC priorities: (1) Marine and Coastal Resources Protection Act; (2) Amendment of the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 or RA 7160 re effective implementation of the Universal Health Care Coverage in the grassroots; (3) Coconut Levy Act; (4) Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy Bill; (5) Amendment to Public Employment Service Act of 1999 or RA 8759; (6) An Act to Strengthen the Apprenticeship System.

    DENR Secretary Ramon Paje introduced the proposed priority legislative measures of the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CCAM) Cluster, namely: (1) Land Administration Reform Act; (2) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act; (3) Alternative Vehicles Act (Electric Vehicles); (4) Liberalizing the Export of Rice, Corn, and other Grains or Related Agricultural Products, amending Sec. 6 of the National Grains Law; (5) Delineation of Specific Forest Limits of the Public Domain; and (6) Water Sector Reform Act.

    DBM Secretary Florencio Abad presented the proposed priority legislative measures of the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption (GGAC) Cluster, except for the Fiscal Responsibility as this bill was moved to the EDC, namely: (1) Retirement Benefit and Pension Law for Retired Uniformed Personnel; (2) Amendment to Witness Protection; (3) Whistle Blower Protection and Security; (4) Amendment of Ombudsman’s Act; (5) Strengthening Asset Forfeiture; and (6) Freedom of Information. Secretary Abad emphasized the retirement benefit and pension law as the primary priority legislative measure but needs further study in terms of sources of funding.

    The GGAC Cluster, however, has reservation on a salient provision of the proposed amendment to the Ombudsman Act, specifically on the grant of immunity for Ombudsman investigators, complainants and witnesses, as well as the Office of the Ombudsman’s (OMB) 50% share in the proceeds from recovered/forfeited in favor of government. These matters will be discussed or cleared with the OMB.

    DOJ Secretary de Lima raised objection/reservation on the proposed measure strengthening the forfeiture power of the OMB, specifically if the intention of the bill is to grant exclusive power to the Ombudsman as it will divest the Solicitor General of its civil and criminal forfeiture powers. The measure needs further study.

    Lastly, the proposed priority legislative measures of Security, Justice, and Peace (SJP) Cluster were presented by Secretary Cesar Garcia, namely: (1) National Defense Act; (2) Philippine Maritime Zones Act; (3) Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act; (4) An Act Reorganizing & Modernizing the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); (5) Strategic Trade Management Act; (6) Criminal Code Revision; and (7) Bangsamoro Basic Law.

    The Executive Secretary informed the members of the Cabinet that a technical working group comprising the Cabinet cluster chairpersons will finalize the list of priorities.”

    Fast forward to 2016.

    Before taking a break this week, the 16th Congress managed to pass close to 300 bills, more than a hundred of them were enacted into law, Senate President Franklin Drilon reported on Thursday.
    The 16th Congress opened in July 2013 and will adjourn sine die in June 2016.

    Out of the 284 bills passed into law during the 16th Congress, Drilon said 116 were signed into law; 59 are waiting the signature of President Benigno Aquino III; 98 were approved on third reading; while seven are pending at the bicameral conference committee; and four are pending ratification by the House of Representatives.
    READ: Congress adjourns, fails to pass BBL
    Among the key measures passed into law were raising the tax exemption ceiling on the workers’ 13th month pay (P30,000 to P82,000), raise the subsistence allowance for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, and the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act.
    Also signed into law were the Philippine Competition Act, the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act and An Act Allowing The Full Entry of Foreign Banks, among others.
    Despite the many investigations conducted during the present Congress, Drilon said: “We did not neglect our principal duties of enacting laws and policies for the good of our country.”
    “This Congress was not affected by the controversies we saw in the past three years. We passed many reform measures which languished in the legislative mills for years and we are proud of particularly of those bills concerning the economy,” he said in an earlier interview over ABS-CBN News Channel. CDG”

    Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/761473/almost-300-bills-passed-before-congress-adjourned-drilon#ixzz3zM0w1xpX

  2. That is how our house built in the seventies was set up.
    One kitchen is whete you find a gas range,dish washing area,etc. outside was the ihawan were you put uling.

    Our clean kitchen was where you ffound our general electric set.

    Refrigerator, oven with stove and dish washer,blender ,microwave,grill.

    That GE set is all gone now.

    we are all using LPG.

  3. Thanks both of you for your comments…

    @chempo: why a divide? I guess you have to go back to colonial times. Then you had Intramuros – within the walls, the Spanish city the “Indios” had to leave before dusk. The divide has been the same, except that the entitled took the place of the Spaniards and the masa that of the Indios. The entitled usually tried hard to look like they were not Asians when foreigners were around. Joke from my high school days… the burgis girl says ouch, the masa girl aray, the trying-hard girl “Ar..ouch” just in time.

    @Karl: thanks for that important information. There are many hopeful signs that even if certain legacies are still there – the way Korina talks and acts shows her social class origins clearly – the old walls of Intramuros in Philippine society may be becoming less and less relevant. The “wall in the head” was still present in Germany many years after reunification among many – more among the West than the East Germans. Might it be that the masa still fear Spanish walls that are not there anymore?

    • Exactly… couldn’t it be that the identification of candidates with certain stereotypes is what is preventing a real debate based on programs and capabilities?

      And of course there would be prejudices where people judge the character based on where they think they themselves are or come from?

      Roxas “=” sosyal

      Poe “=” pasosyal

      Binay “=” wa-sosyal

      Duterte “=” promdi

  4. Why should there be a divide in the first place?

    There is nothing wrong in trying to aspire to a clean kitchen. However, those who live in clean kitchens must never appreciate that it’s a privilege, not entitlement. Those from dirty kitchen must not throw their rubbish into clean kitchens. Be grateful you have a kitchen, and work hard to clean up your kitchen.

    In my country we don’t have clean and dirty kitchens. We have normal kitchen, and for those who can afford it, we have an outdoor kitchen which we call Asian kitchen because that’s where we cook our oily food.

    • “Clean kitchen” was what one showed to foreigners, “dirty kitchen” the real culture and life.

      The words themselves have the wrong connotation that one’s own culture is wrong, dirty.

      Lack of healthy pride in one’s own culture leads to unhealthy deformations:

      1) on the side of those who can afford it, trying to be totally Western at all costs

      2) on the side of the poor, the deformations of the colonial/enslaved mentality

    • Mar was the first to ride MRT to this day NEVER SAW THE JAMPACKED PROBLEM. Never proposed a suggestion, recommendation and change.

      It is like Mar already knew Grace Problems:
      1) American citizen
      2) Her husband is American Citizen
      3) No experience

      Mar’s problem is votes. Grace Poe is vote-getter.

      Knowing Grace legal and requirement problem the vote-getter tips the balance of Mar’s decision.

      Grace knew she can run by herself. She did. Mar was miffed. Mar is now attacking Grace Poe of her inexperience. SOUR GRAPING. BAD DECISIONS.

      It is about Grace vote not about her inexperience. IT WAS A BAD DECISION.

    • The ones attacking Grace Poe are all Binay camp. True the COMELEC people who went against Grace are Mar’s circle.

      The MRT articles here and the chempo MRT article bring in more details which show that MRT is a total mess, hard to solve.

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