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    If all your life you have always aspired and you think the one on top is no good, you must think again. Maybe you are no better. Or maybe you look worse!.. Or, why not think God. You're good but he loves you. You could end up that egotist stooge you hate in the mirror.
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  • Tyranny and rape belong to the same set of mind. They believe and look at themselves as too good.
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  • A man's gain may be another man's loss. A man's happiness may be another man's woe. A man's ease may be another man's sacrifice and misery.[Expropriation/Profiteering/Bureaucrat capitalism/Government corruption]
  • To err is human. That’s why it is not good habit to drop God’s name just to drive the self. It might be standing stinking shit aside Him. [Cashing-in on the gullible]

  • Man has sometimes relegated God to a mule. Religion and State need to separate. [Religions in politics]
  • Heroes are remembered for their greatness. The bad sides of them are all in the hidden files and folders. Villains are the other way around. Nobody is perfect.
  • Except for being a figure of speech, nothing is really absolute.
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This Time the Free Condoms Are At Fault

It looks like I went off-tract in my previous post, went on and on,  and fizzled away. Where were we when I went a side…Hmm…

Ah, Saying one thing and doing another thing… That is also one of the primary factors that contributed to the Quirino hostage crisis fiasco, if we remember. Negotiator Yebra told gunman Rolando Mendoza that Roberto Mendoza’s service firearm was already returned when Rolando found out later that it was not. It caused heat that fed until it blew up.

Currently hot, the President has a row with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines [CBCP]. He was seen assuring everybody that government’s role in the controversial Reproductive Health bill, which the Church opposes, is limited to dissemination of information and to leave decision and methods  of birth control to married couples. That is conflicting and is non re-conciliatory with government’s acts of distributing free condoms and other contraceptives.

Government has been giving away those things since several past administrations. Malacañang spokesperson has acknowledged their acts defending them. Was the President only thinking loud of his wishes on the matter when he issued his statement? Reality showed different from what he said.

The Catholic Church has always opposed artificial birth control, which is behind their now stiff opposition to the passing of the RH bill in general. Population control is a World program. It has governments for its conduits. It is also being pushed by Non-government [NGOs] and private organizations. Everything going on in there is, in fact, old. But for government to put  the matter into law is now met by the Church as something very different.

At the side, I suppose Juan dela Cruz will also be spending multi-billions of pesos on those contraceptives, next time, instead of the international grants at present? Money is not really the issue. Our system of accounting public funds is. It is one nagging issue in everywhere of our bureaucracy. Multi billions, almost all in the administration of President Arroyo, have not been accounted  yet and it looks like they’ll have to be written off. Or maybe the new administration can deliver surprises for Juan dela Cruz regarding them?

Then in the midst of the controversy, like an intermission in a play, entered tour guide named Carlos Celdran who made a dramatic show during a mass in the Manila Cathedral known home of the Philippine bishops. He looked very amusing in a Jose Rizal costume, which is a Charlie Chaplin outfit, actually.

But not contented with the big placard he carried that said DAMASO, the name of an abusive Church friar in Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel, he also yelled at the bishops for their meddling in the proposed RH bill. Anti-friar Jose Rizal himself might have been horrified by Mr. Celdran! If somebody does that to you in your house would not that  be invective and disrespect?  Let’s think of religion and religious beliefs and respect for them irregardless of sect.

Yes, the church is considered a house of God and is open to all, but… Hand cuffed, taken away and detained I guess Mr. Celdran has got it coming. Public scandal, maybe, or something like that? I really don’t know. And I guess his best defense would be for his lawyer to plea ‘insanity’ or ‘temporary insanity’, I’m not really sure. I am a carpenter.

Forgive him fathers. He said he has no regret whatsoever for what he did. Maybe the church is losing its grip on the young generation of Filipinos. Mr. Celdran, released on bail, has now become an overnight sensation that is heard to be reaping ‘raves in cyberspace’!

Where were we…But, I think, for the President, the issue has spilled beyond morality, beyond what is right and what is wrong with using condoms, with RH bill.

Saying one thing and doing another thing. The President and his men has got more reasons to be careful of their acts together because at the end of the day, the buck stops with [him], as he had said with the Quirino hostage crisis. Yes, folks, he pays for all his men and he knew that.

Saying one thing and doing another thing. The matter has got many ugly kapatid [relatives] not seen yet, for the President to be caught seated on that spot, or for him to be seen with, everywhere he goes, everything he does, again, again and again!?

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Juan Dela Cruz an Outsider in His Own House?

A series of events leading to a certain disturbing point cannot be taken lightly. One is the controversial manner of release of the IIRC report. The President, or should I say his boys around him, can spend all the time explaining and rationalizing their acts. But they can never change the facts.

• That the Chinese got their copy first and Juan dela Cruz got his later.

• That the Chinese got their copy in full and Juan dela Cruz got his in parts and has yet to get part of it.

Wait a minute. Kayo ang Boss ko [You are my Boss] so said the President referring to the Filipino people. He is right. Juan dela Cruz sent him and everyone there to serve him – Juan dela Cruz. Kayo ang Boss ko, Filipinos will remember that as they will always remember President Estrada’s Walang kama-kamaganak, walang Kai-kaibigan [No favored relatives, no favored friends].

The manner of release of the IIRC report has projected the President saying one thing and doing another thing!

And Juan dela Cruz is not only sore but he is also made to feel stupid. The report is supposed to be his and he does not even know yet what he was saying in there that others have already read!

If the President can see himself in the eyes of Juan dela Cruz his nose now has appeared a little taller. Some labourers here beside me are also whining why it was all-businessmen that have no business in the U.N. he brought with him and why not did he include some labour officials to see their W.L.O. or I.L.O counterparts at there if he must bring people.

Austerity is good for a start. But that alone, as time drags on, won’t be enough. What else can a new administration that inherited a state economy that had already spent 93% of a year’s budget, do? Meaning he will be doing the same, financial juggling, too, spending money we have not yet earned! Boy, I can’t help but sensed the President’s gladness in his first address to the nation over some offers that are, in fact, carry overs of the Arroyo administration. Maybe he should look again because some of them could be sharks to feed on his  big Boss, desperate as ever – Juan dela Cruz.

His U.N. trip did not bring home 10 million jobs but he is singing now the same tune – Tagumpay! That is the old favorite song of all the other Philippine Presidents before, heard too many times by Juan dela Cruz so that the lyrics are familiar-boring, actually. Some observers are beginning to think the President is growing some mole on the face and his two front teeth are becoming a little bit conspicuous, reminiscent of some much disliked tenant in Malacañang that nobody even remembered as a cute lovable promising  leader before she became President.

And enticing foreign investors is good but it doesn’t work more than it had worked with past administrations. He inherited them all, and look at us today.  It’s been the main thrust of government since the time of President Marcos. Foreign investors need very little invitation. What they really have needed is good climate in their kind of businesses. The subject is deep and complicated than any of us can comprehend so that just seeing the sum would be simple and direct. Because, one plus one, plus one, has already shown three and will never show four or five. Factors have to change to come up different. I don’t think the present President is the bests of Marcos  up through President Arroyo,  all put together, a superman to do that.

I think, for a change, state should redirect its focus at self reliance. Yes, like, state should have a direct hand at industrialization where there is much need if not a void. That may be something patterned from the experience of the richest government and nation on Earth today – Peoples Republic of China.

And Juan dela Cruz as the big Lord and as owner of this big enterprise  called Republic of the Philippines expects each of his administrators to see things from his way and not to put a barrier in between and see things from their way.

If you are any administrator and thinks Juan dela Cruz is an idiot, an ignorant, a nobody or what, then keep disregarding him or better, throw him out of his own house so you own it! 🙂

How long, or how many times, should they do things like that before Juan dela Cruz gets fed-up? Never mind the constant enemies of the state. They are sworn to it. But Juan dela Cruz counts. Because thrown out of his house he may stand behind those wanting to demolish his house that he may  no longer like, anyway. 😦

By Gad, Juan dela Cruz is as crazy as Nero? No, we have seen him crazier, and crazier than people who would want to exclude him out of his own house!  We don’t want to see that.

Of Politics and Popularity

Does the politics of popularity really exist? The complaint is directed primarily against movie stars getting into politics. The phrase is based on some perception of the word popular to mean simply a face widely seen and widely heard, and nothing more to them. Then, I think not. Because, sometimes things deemed like that happened and sometimes they did not. So, the cause why say a movie star got elected is not really in their being a superstar. Vilma Santos made a break as mayor, and then later became a governor, got re-elected in there. Her co-equal Nora Aunor did not make it in her first and last try, was it in Camarines.

The noted rash and rise of movie stars in politics came during the time when the country was developing the consciousness against traditional politicians popularly known as Trapo. In fact the trend was not limited to movie stars as they included other virtually unknowns in the world of politics, but names heard enough – not necessarily in the movie industry.

People grew tired of trapos who gave the impressions of promising too much and delivering very little or nothing. People then tried candidates, not traditionally politicians, whom they hoped might bring some change.

Anyway, people got to see that some of them non-trapo worked while others did not. Some made better while others turned for worse.

Popularity in Politics

Politics of popularity was introduced as another disease in Philippine politics. But if I may take the good side of it, I think popularity is a MUST in politics. To win in an election one must be popular. To stay in there one must maintain popularity. It was popularity that made Father Ed Panlilio scored against traditional political forces in Pampanga province. He must have fallen from  popularity, reason for his now staggering defeat in his bid for re-election.

With its sour connotation set aside, I think there is nothing wrong with politics of popularity. Politics IS popularity.

popular [póppyoolər] adjective

  1. appealing to the general public: appealing to or appreciated by a wide range of people  • the most popular name for babies this year
  2. well-liked: liked by a particular person or group of people • popular with young audiences
  3. of the general public: relating to the general public • popular appeal
  4. aimed at non-specialists: designed to appeal to or be comprehensible to the non-specialist • a popular gardening magazine
  5. believed by people in general: believed, embraced, or perpetuated by ordinary people • popular myths
  6. inexpensive: designed to be affordable to people on average incomes • a new popular car

[15th century. Via Anglo-Norman populer from Latin popularis ‘of the people’, from populus ‘people’ (source of English PEOPLE and PUBLIC), of uncertain origin: probably from Etruscan .]
Microsoft® Encarta® Premium Suite 2005. © 1993-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

So, will making it in TV and the big screen make one popular?  I think not really and not automatically. In there Popularity as defined is sometimes make-believe. An obsession for some actually. Let’s take the manner of the alien named Mr Chip who once got the ire of the entire Filipino nation for making a publicized statement that the Philippines is a nation of servants. He might be well recognized but spat upon everywhere he’ll go in this country, if we can call that popularity.

The concept of popularity in the world of movie and television may be different somewhere else.  Viewed somewhere else, they may be warped, twisted and out of perspective. All that I think is product of commercialism and of aggressive marketing, or should I say manipulation, by those out to benefit from them.

An eye is an eye and a nose is a nose. When an eye is called a  nose, well, I think we have a case of distorted minds trying to distort the world. Notorious, controversial, and popular are all distinct different words.

By the way, as much as I would like to make exceptions, the world of Philippine entertainment impresses me as one preposterous and at times distorted. In there tears might be laughter and laughter might be tears. Controversies might be put-up and scripted, if you will take them seriously. And, cheats, dishonesty,  scandalous fornication  or the likes can put one on a pedestal, if you call that good. They have their own perception of popularity. [Or, is not it just a few out of a crate full, so repugnant to my taste buds, that left so deep an impression of the whole in me?]

Whatever, OK, this is a free country.  People have right to believe that they have assets when others see liabilities. We have M.T.R.C.B. watching in there so, so much about them by you or me.

[Entertainment shares a room in media. It should be media riding on entertainment and not entertainment, or I should say some of its greedy elements, overriding media. And media happens to have social advancement  and not social corruption for one of its cause to explain Review and Classifications Board over  there.]

But more about politics of popularity,  many years ago I might have easily agreed with those who complained about it. Today, I think it is just a myth. In today and for tomorrow is issues in politics. One gets to the top because of them, or goes down with them, or simply goes nowhere because they did not have  them. Say hello to politics of issues, folks. For those long enough in politics, spotlight can easily focus at politics of deliveringperformance. [I think there’s nothing really new in politics because everything  has been there  all the time… probably very little noticed though. ]

Popularity in politics, I think, is too broad and  too blanket a word. Going into the matter  will show specifics such as: deliverance of services, management of public funds, handling of public affairs, direction of governance or projection of them,  integrity, credibility, consistency, and many others. And they all sum-up to the word popularity [or unpopularity]. The most popular tops all, or the most unpopular gets the least.

Even in politics the word popularity has its own warps, too. If surveys are conducted on the order of candidates  as electorates put them in the their list, I’m sure this can be confirmed that  those on top of the lists finished average and below average where there is multiple choice as in the Senatorial position. Popularity [or unpopularity] may be gained by engaging  in issues or controversies. They show where one stands. But they can also be divisive because they can be of thesis and anti-thesis. This will put a candidate either on top or not in the list at all. But the lists of both  – of the thesis and the anti-thesis, are usually not completed and voters need other names to fill. And most likely the fillers are old names who have never been subject of critical controversies thus presumed good. Mga tipong wala kang masabi, which is Filipino way short of saying that a person is good. And even with their names not usually at the top of the lists, they are carried by both sides. So, what do you think made  one walang imik top considered champions like Senators Enrile, Santiago and others, folks? What? mga saling pusa who finished first? There must be a warp  somewhere, from wherever one looks at it.

The Philippines happens also a politics of focus at negatives – of scandals and anomalies in government, of allegations of pangungurakot and plunders, of crab mentality. OK, if we put it that way, popularity there means getting the least of negatives. People must choose, they liked them or not.

Whatever, assuming clean election, I guess all twelve senatorial winners have always right to very well say that they enjoy political popularity.

With the rise of politics of issues and politics of performance politicians need to do better than giving the impression of saling pusa. A highly competitive political world will leave no room for fillers.

Politics of popularity, Pinoy meaning of it, anybody, folks?  😉

A Shining Light in the Dark – the Philippines

The Philippines has a positive economic growth! Malacañang says or predicts a plus 0.03 to 0.04 economic growth for the current year 2009. Would you believe that? We have a light that stands in the dark! Every country in the world is saying that they are registering or expecting negative for the same period.

So, somebody came up with some figures showing that the Philippines has out best the world in weathering the crisis. This is interesting because earlier figures by IMF-World Bank showed negative for the Philippines. I’m no economist and I don’t know how people do or come up with their economic arithmetic. No doubt, there must be economic growth. That’s something expected. Positive growth is another thing. It’s like saying that a ship is pushing at 11 knots against a storm of 10 knots to be gaining 1 knot. Whatever, the simple man in the street does not understand any of them. Fact is, more and more Filipinos are going abroad to find work even before the world’s economic crisis. Fact is, the country today is one of the poorest in the region. Fact is, more and more Filipinos are going deeper into poverty and deprivation.

Let’s go about facts. Something that is seemingly conflicting always comes from one or same facts that caused conflict.  It is views and interpretations of same facts that differed or conflicted. Or, people could possibly be talking of entirely different things while appearing to be in conflict. What are the facts, because facts and truths are the same.

The Philippines is doing great. Right, one can say that. But it is a partial truth and not a total one. It is true only in so far as those who are living above poverty line. When one is beyond poverty, he has surplus earnings actually, and he is in a situation where he may become rich or richer – if he has got that ambition of course. Because we have types who will simply enjoy life when they have that opportunity, which is what life is all about for many of those above poverty. Yes, things like house, appliances, car, jewelries, vacation and the likes. We could be talking there of something like 30% of the total population, or less than that by western standards. What the world calls economic crisis is in fact, to some Filipinos, nothing but economic slowdown, or economic contraction – the latest term coined by whomever.  Filipinos have been buying more brand new cars today when the western world reported decline. That’s mostly by the Filipino business, managerial, and executive castes as usual, surfing high with every economic wave. In the western world construction workers, farmers, market baggers, ordinary people,  they all buy car. Cars are for Hacienderos here.

And we can pretend 70 percent of 90 million Filipinos  do not exist. That would leave 27 million Filipinos, with zero poverty rate! The business climate  in the country is never been dull  is  a fact. The world recession has little impact in the Philippines. They are  all facts, yes, depending where one looks at it.

The Philippines is becoming worst. The situation seems most shaky at around the section where haves and have-nots meet. The present world economic crisis did not make many Filipinos poor. They have in fact become poorer as they were already bellow poverty line when world recession started. They never had amenities normal of people elsewhere in the world. Many Filipinos have long time ago ceased to be part of economic statistics, or factors that contributed to or affecting economic statistics. There is no considerable drop in consumerism contributed by those who have ceased to be economic factors. No wonder we have things now like “positive economic growth” amidst all negatives.

Ok, what we have there are called viewpoints, conflicting [class] viewpoints. We see two truths, two worlds apart, all in one.

Then what is Objectivity? Objectivity is seeing and giving recognition to the A to Z of the matter. Objectivity is impartiality. It is totality, a form of classlessness. Other than that would be frog-in-the-well trying to tell everybody the sky is round and it’s as wide as the mouth of the well. Everybody without exception lives inside a well. That’s right, all people do. Other than that is Superman – alpha humans. But, if one has to summarize a matter briefly, then I guess it is the main that must be given weight. 70% describes the whole better than 30% would!

But what are figures displayed to us all about? I mean, is the nation really progressing as figures would show? Say, we had P95 Mn yesterday when it is  P135 Mn today. That’s amazing growth there, right? Wrong. The figures I showed represent dressed chicken at P95.00 per kilogram then, which now sells at P135.00 per kilogram.  If production was at a million kilograms then that now is still at one million kilograms, what impressed us as monetary growth is in reality stunted economy. And, since population has surely grown bigger today than it was yesterday, the figures are, in effect and in reality, actually, quantitative and qualitative retrogression. Add to that the drop in consumerism because of the economic contraction.  Ah, I’ve been buying less for quite sometime now. So do all the families I see around me.

Sure, there has been a rise of ordinary Filipinos buying motorcycle, lately. Public transport fares have increased. With two wheels now, people save time through hectic traffic. They now ride  head high as owners of vehicles that they can also use for purposes other than  going to and from work. A progressive economic leap for them, no. Savings on bus and jeepney fares are not enough. They have to cut on many things to keep up with monthly amortization. This is more on shifting lifestyle brought about by the situation than by economic progress.

So, what is the higher truth? What is the bigger fact as shown by all the facts?  We have a system here that people have always talked about – Rich-getting-richer while poor-becoming-poorer.  We have a whole that is separated, virtually drifting apart.  There is nothing new to that.  That’s  an old story, older than anybody.

Ok, we have the best managers in Malacañang. We are chugging fast forward. We have positive economic growth. Other than them are lies, deceptions and/or narrow minds.

Meantime Filipinos need foods on their tables, roofs over their heads, clothes to wear, education for their young ones, hospitalization when they get sick, etcetera, etcetera, and not words and numbers that they can hear or see in television but they cannot relate to their everyday existence.  I think this is what made state-of -the-nation address boring every time for Filipinos.  They usually show only achievements instead of showing the objective situation. Comes 2010 whoever seats in the Palace had better be good. I think nothing comes nearest to realism than Senator Miriam D. Santiago when it comes to the situation after 2010.

The Filipino people is very fond of self-flagellation because they celebrate presidential elections as if they have anything to look forward to, and then after only six months they begin to make a death wish for the elected president. That is so Filipino.//Excerpt,  Senator M.D. Santiago

Filipinos are hopeful and wishful people. They dream of becoming a Japan, an America, a Europe, or an Australia. But reality drifts them somewhere else. We have a system that has not worked, without indication that it will work. We have social tensions that have ever been building up. We have a State that is becoming dependent on police and military powers to counteract tensions and to prop itself up.

No, Filipinos do not want to be in a Vietnam, a Myanmar, a China or a North Korea. They are shores farther than Pakistan and the Banana republics wherein I think the country has been consistently drifting. That’s the picture I see, which must be ridiculous and impossible in a country like the Philippines.  I must be seeing warped!

Change reality to change the mechanics. Change the dynamics to change destiny. Now, who’s going to deliver all that, folks? Because Mother Nature has always been on the job, doing things by herself… her own way, people like it or not.

America Sent a Message!

Here’s something I found interesting. Running through the article and through half the comments gave me the impression that American people voted for a President that they never liked. I guess I must be seeing more of hawks and war mongers in there and less of the majority who made the President.

The world has been watching President Obama carefully in the weeks leading to this current North Korean crisis and in the weak response that has followed it. . . .The message Japan and other countries who depend on the U.S. — like Israel and Taiwan, have received is clear: You are on your own. The U.S. lacks the resolve and iron-will to defend you and stare down your enemies.

As an outsider-observer I think President Barack Obama is right. If North Korea is bullying the world, then let the world deal with her. America can always stand beside the United Nations, which is the policeman of the world, than take the matter personally upon herself.

Fact is, peace always comes from third party intervention and never from any of the antagonists that Uncle Sam has already projected himself. By one of any contenders, one must be down and  or dead for peace to finally prevail in that situation, if you call that desirable way for peace.

There must be a final end to the long cold war that should end nicely for the American People.

America should wake up to reality

Half the Americans should wake up to reality. Fact is, Uncle Sam has already isolated himself much more after the Iraq invasion. We all went in there to save mankind. Finding no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is unspeakable for those who were led into participating in there. If we did not go in there to save mankind, then what was it? The sad truth is that Uncle Sam today is on his own if it’s not for the handful of friends who will stand by him right and wrong. Surely, many will still go with Uncle Sam but only as far there is right. Americans should realize that.

“The U.S. lacks the resolve and iron-will to defend you and stare down your enemies”.

I think it is one hawkish interpretation. Maybe dovish will put it this way: “Ok, folks, Uncle Sam is tired of playing foolish politics, fancying himself as the policeman of the world. Go, see the police if anybody has complaint against anyone else. And everybody stand behind the policeman, please.”

[And I think the world should vote into key positions in the U.N. persons other than those from countries  that are involved in conflicts.]

Maybe there are matters that U.S.A. should stop worrying about. I remembered when North Korea was faced by poor harvest and hunger, U.S. impressed me like it was its obligation to feed the Koreans. Like Nokor will go amok if they’ll go hungry? And Uncle Sam was serving him right by acting like scared of him. So what if the world go hungry by their own fault or because of stupidity by their leaders!

Stuck in the obsolete world of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Napoleon?

Nokor has impressed me as some sort of a world brat obsessed for big toys that it can swagger at other kids. If Pyongyang is threatening its neighbors, or the whole world itself, great! If he invades the South as it did once, then fine. I don’t think they can even handle populations that are socially, economically and politically advanced than them.

In the other hand he could actually be a cower ruled by paranoids who suspect everyone as interested to grab their territory. I don’t see anybody, not the Philippines. Maybe they are seeing Uncle Sam as the bully. Or, they must be seeing their own shadow and got scared of it. Does not Pyongyang too scared why he wants to arm himself to the teeth? Why else must people spend a great deal of their resources for missiles and bombs when they ought to be spending more for the betterment of their hungry masses? One report said 60% of Nokor’s young population have been malnourished. I’d say, fine, let them make nuke bombs and hide them under their own bed if they think it’s a greater idea! Filipinos have already removed theirs at Subic.

Maybe Americans should stop believing in their myth that mankind will end without them. Fact is, seeking a better life is one universal nature of mankind. I think Mother Nature can be trusted on that. Americans should stop taking upon their shoulders all kinds of burden more than they ought to.

I buy the observation that American economy [industries] has revolved around war – i.e. people catered because there was war, then people mongered so they can cater. I bet nobody can change things overnight. And, I think, that’s what President Barack Obama is apt to – steer in a different direction. Sure enough, half the Americans do not like him for that. A gradual change always started with the first freak. Is not President Barack Obama that right kind of freak? Beside, The glory that was Rome is history.

The world must shape up and stand on their own. You are on your own. I think that is one good message to the world especially from the American people who are being looked up to by many. It’s much better than probably, one way or another, propping up plutocracy and tyranny in some parts of the world, which Uncle Sam may be unable to see of himself because of his blind spots.  He needs to win back respect and not to blemish himself further.

Maybe we all need mirror.

Sending In the Saints When Cats are Nowhere?

World Bank’s intervention in what ought to be obligation and duty of Philippine government stirred the nation lately. WB blacklisted some contractors engaged by Department of Public Works and Hi-ways [DPWH] for road projects that WB is funding.

I’ve been a civil construction worker. Project costs estimate is an exact science and not guesswork. Let’s take a simple house for example. In structural work, the total volume of concrete – cement, sand and gravel, can be approximated; likewise, the volume of all the steels needed for reinforcement. In electrical, there would be the quantities of wires, switches, circuit outlets, lighting units, breakers and panels, etc. And then there are the aspects of Plumbing and what more else provided with plans and details. With the lists of material completed, figures in money can be supplied in easy. Items like labor, consumables, rentals, insurance, social security, documentations, depreciation of equipments, profit, taxes, etc. are added to complete the total estimate.

There are other tested methods employed, shortcuts in costs’ estimation. But normally, they all come up to more or less the same. Now we can take the biggest and tallest building instead of the simple house – from ground, basement, up to tower… or, let’s take a stretch of road to be constructed. Nobody just can snatch figures from nowhere! [Except a crook in cohort with another crook like I once knew.]

It is elementary for a contractor to know how much it will cost, especially the bottom line of a project, before it will negotiate. It is also assumed that the owner or developer has its own Costs estimate as they are usually the origin of the approved plans where contractors base their independent estimates. Otherwise, project owners do not know if they are paying right and not being robbed. They needed an estimate before they have  even decided to look for a contractor.

In this case, it would be stupid to think that World Bank does not have its own people engaged in cost management, scrutinizing the same plans that all the parties are furnished. Thus it does not take intrigue or proof for them to determine that something is smelly, out of norms, or that needed a deeper look. That a contract for a certain road project in Basay, Negros, for example, is ridiculous!

Estimates of some items may be based on percentage, cost-on-material. Labor could be at minimum 40%, for example.  Then, a 30% profit on top of everything could be considered  high in this part of the world. Sometimes the winning bidder will arranged with sub-contractors, sharing his profit with them. General contractor  in that situation opts for less but sure profit free of any possible overrun, and free of sweat.  For sub-contractors, profit can sometimes be squeezed out of some items. You don’t want to know them.

But a 300% profit, or a 65% value-added on what possibly is a lucrative proposal, for example, would be absurd and a big cause for alarm especially when we are talking here of hundreds of millions and billions of pesos. Such is highly improbable where fair, free, healthy competition is in place wherein bidders would be trying to out-edge  and out-bid everyone else. No, there is no law governing profit.  There is only freedom of competition to follow. Something that cost a centavo that sold for a peso would be great! But a centavo that is fraudulent is a one-centavo-fraud that is  a fraud.

World Bank, by its act of blacklisting the contractors, is in effect saying that there is monopoly and cartel involving Philippine Public works. In that case, then the situation can be complicated than we think. 1. The contractors have agreed to play by orchestration. 2. For reward, they get guaranteed employment in a project to be assigned or shared by all of them. 3. They get what is due them for their share of work, perhaps better than if there will be free, tough competition. 4. They might not have robbed Juan dela Cruz but they are party to conspiracy by playing exactly as directed. 5. The contractors are just one side to it. We have masterminds to hunt, or does WB already know them?  Just a theory?

There Is No Fail Safe Measure against Corruption

The World Bank itself has already identified the following administrative remedies:

  • An independent permanent assessment and technical audit that strengthens transparency of the bidding process.

  • Enhanced processes for procurement, financial management, internal controls, and audit of the road management agencies.

  • Inclusion of a new and innovative coalition of citizen and road users group, called “Road Watch” in the project management setup.

I think bullets one and two, in principles, are nothing new. They are in places everywhere. Perhaps they are matters that need renewed or more focus, or needed to be strengthened. Sometimes a crook can penetrate a system. In that case owner-developer then sees right when it should be seeing wrong in his contract. His system is corrupted and rendered futile by virus!

Bullet three I think is something new. [In fact this is the manner by which World Bank  intervened, something I don’t remember it did before.]  It calls for formation of a watch group to watch the watch group, forming a second line of defense against crooks. The remedies must be in a manner and makeup so that it will be hard by crooks to hack thus disabling the system. And, it should be free of partisan politics or else it will be another futile thing itself.

It is obvious that the Senate probe of the World Bank blacklisted contractors will have little legislative value, because it has been overtaken by events. Pres. Arroyo has already ordered the Department of Trade and Industry to investigate the subject. The Ombudsman is already conducting preliminary investigation of the criminal cases, and she is scheduled to release the results in February.//excerpt, Senator Miriam D. Santiago, The Contractors, 26 January 09 archives

Now you see them, then you don’t. This is the Philippines. There is no effective measure against graft and corruption really in place or seriously tried yet. The issues involving Public work contracts are not new as far as I can remember which would be since the time of President Marcos. Filipinos simply became tired of them. Nothing usually came out of them, and there seemed nothing could be done about the problem. Or, maybe you have not heard about the corrupt being hard to persecute because of corruption.  Abangan na lang natin.

I grew up in a town where our house used to be at the gate of District engineering, Ministry of Public Works, or DPWH today. We had a canteen where everybody used to hang out. The place used to be a sort of a second office to some. A majong den by some of them lazy bureaucrats, sometimes. I’m familiar with them from managers, equipment operators, to ordinary laborers and local contractors. Yeah, [local] corruption down the grass roots that everybody is talking about was there like they’re nothing! [Even the night watchmen were not outdone!]

Graft and corruption could be from the top [bureaucracy] or it could be from below [the contractors]. It could be anywhere of the system. It could be the janitor generating it all and acting as go-between, which explains his life style was at par with the managers. Which also explains why sacking the manager or the contractor did not work! Sure, there were always good people around. I guess they shut their mouths most of the time if you call that good! But we are talking there about bread crumbs  at some lower level.

Talk with people long enough in the construction world. Public works is no place for a contractor who has no guts for corruption of any form. That’s been the playing field ever since. It could also be suicide for a whistle blower. They will tell you that.

Corruption does not always involve cash payola, by the way. A “damaged culture” as one foreign observer once summarized the nation that drew indignation from Filipinos like the chap Chip Chow now is reaping. [Mr. Chip is wrong for being not factual. The Philippines is not a nation of servants as he  said.  Factual is, The Philippines is a nation that is the top exporter of servants!]

Corruption as one “normal” way of life is not acceptable to the Filipino people. They have seen other nations that have managed theirs at very low level.  And I think  Philippine government must shape up while it has time.

Moral Renewal for Filipinos

There have come out louder calls for moral renewal or moral uplifting for Filipinos lately. I absolutely agree with that! Filipinos appear to be at the mercy of corruption. We seem to be in a situation wherein change can only come from the corrupt or corrupted themselves by their own free will!

With the election fever on the rise, we have heard names like Among Ed [Father Ed Panlilio], Bro Mike Villarde, Bro Ed Villanueva – heavyweights in religion, being pushed forward for President this 2010. Any of them to bring end to corruption? I think we can send all the Saints after them but I doubt very much if it will work. There are no devils to exorcise in the first place. There are only crooks to send to jail or better still – hang for all to see. Maybe then, and only then, will everybody make that change within them.

But, execution of heinous criminals is not the way of the religious as we know. In fact it was the Church that had influenced the abolition of death penalty in the country. Bro Ed Villanueva, claiming seven million followers, lost Presidential election in 2004. I guess he had failed to explain to three quarters of his flock how exactly he could make this nation great again, something many Filipinos could not quite imagine of him. But who knows if he won… or if they will win.

Well, since there was mention about virus and viral infestastion Take no action, Repair, Move to chest, Delete file… System restore… they are all the options.  Sometimes infection is serious that Security center and Virus protection, to include System restore were disabled.  That would leave no option. No more option except one recourse… Reformat of the system. And that’s a fact. Which of the situations, or which way now, folks?

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