MANILA,  January 30, 2004 (STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco - These are pretty disappointing times. Recently, someone told me she is voting for GMA because GMA is the devil she knows. This is the familiar "lesser evil" approach, differently labeled.

Sure, she is disappointed with GMA and thinks Raul Roco is the best possible choice. But, she said, she and her Harvard MBA friend, do not want to waste their votes and allow FPJ to win. Wow, I told myself. If someone as educated and as informed as these two make their choice in this manner, why are we blaming the masa for being stupid voters?

Besides, this "devil" they know might not even be winnable. I donít see how she can win, outside of a miracle, given the numbers today. The latest survey I have seen covering MegaManila (including adjoining provinces) show a large lead for FPJ but the second spot is held by Roco. GMA is in fourth, after Ping. So, in their desire not to waste their votes, they will be actually wasting their votes and have, as well, that guilty feeling of voting for a devil, albeit one they know.

More important, we should never feel it a waste to vote for the right one, even if he or she is perceived to be weak. Sure, media hype may make us feel that FPJ is a sure thing and only GMA can give him a fight. But that image of a two-way fight between them is also merely media hype that will only come to pass if more people believe it. Also, it is not right to give up the fight without a fight. Thatís surrender to mob rule. Thatís giving up your right to choose to media handlers of politicians.

If you think GMA is the right choice, go ahead and ignore the overwhelming numbers quoted in surveys and vote your conscience. But even GMA would be insulted if you voted for her only because she is the devil you know. After all, that still makes her a devil and devils are never good choices.

If you will vote for the devil you know only because you do not think Roco or Lacson or even Brother Eddie have a chance, you are selling yourself and your country short. You also lose your right to complain about this countryís shitty governance because you voted for a devil and, therefore, deserve hell.

I donít know about you guys, but when I vote in May, I will do so after carefully comparing the candidates and coming to the conclusion that one of them should be it. The surveys may say my final choice is going to lose, but I will at least be at peace with myself that I made the best choice, not just because he or she is the more winnable devil I know.

Moodyís Downgrade

I donít know if the ANC reporter was reporting tongue-in-cheek but I found it pathetic that financial analysts reportedly met the Moodyís downgrade the other day positively because it was only one notch below investment grade rather than two notches. Well, we must indeed show appreciation for small mercies.

What that means in practical terms, in case some people miss it, is that we have to pay higher interest on our gigantic foreign debt. Even a half interest point increase is a lot of money, given the size of our debt.

I doubt if FPJ has even heard of Moodyís even as I hear from people who supposedly know him that FPJ could be very moody at times. Neither has he heard of Standard and Poorís even as the poorhouse is where we will all be unless we exercise our democratic rights intelligently.

I also hope no one believes MalacaŮang when it tries to minimize the significance of the deterioration in the pesoís exchange rate. Ate Glo was quoted as saying that "the weakness of the peso is fundamentally tied to the strengthening of the American economy." Come again, Madame PhD in Economics President?

I thought if the American economy is improving, they could buy more of our exports of computers and garments and whatever else we sell to them. That means dollars for our countryís reserves. That means the pesoís value should be going up and not down. Mere anticipation of the certainty of increased exports normally affects the pesoís value positively.

If she means the improving American economy is strengthening the dollar, thatís simply not happening just yet against other currencies. In fact, in Davos last week, world economic movers and shakers were talking of the dollar depreciating to as much as $1.50 to the euro. Hay naku! If thatís a PhD in Economics speaking, what makes her different from a high school dropout? (Bilib pa naman sana ako sa UP School of Eco. Kung sino sino lang pala ang binibigyan ng PhD).

Note that the pesoís value was on a downward spiral right through the holiday season when traditionally, the OFW dollars give it a lift. Note also that the dollar is very weak and most other currencies are moving up against it. Our peso is falling against a weak dollar. How bad and humiliating can that be? A currency expert of JP Morgan based in Singapore was interviewed by ANC and he thinks the peso will settle at between P57 to P60 this year assuming all goes well with our elections. If the political mayhem worsens, the timing of Lucio Tanís predictions will be accelerated.

I hear that most of the moneyed Pinoys have been steadily converting to dollars or buying dollar denominated Treasury Bills issued by the Bureau of Treasury. Thatís how much faith we have on our peso. In effect, this is the more significant vote. OFWs keep as much of their money in foreign exchange. The rich vote by converting to dollars. Bet even our top politicians, Jose Pidal (the real one) included, have done just that too!

Buboy Explains

Over the holidays, I wrote about an incident in the airport where Buboy Virata tried to get Fernando Zobel de Ayala to get special treatment in the long immigration line but failed. Buboy asked a mutual friend to arrange for us to meet so he can explain. Buboy then wrote me to explain why he "jumped the line" while Fernando sweated it out in the company of OFWs for 45 minutes.

During check-in, we discovered that our sonís passport photo had been backlashed and tampered with. We did not know therefore whether he could leave with us. Hence we were advised to request assistance through an intermediary to go through Immigration. In addition, because of this, we were informed that we were running late for our flight.

When I saw my friend Fernando, I offered to help him because he had his young children with him. I would try to do the same for any other friend. I regret that under the circumstances we "jumped the line" and I regret further that we gave offense in doing so. However, I feel it genuinely unfair and unjust that you have so hastily concluded from this incident that first, I lack breeding (and indirectly have criticized my parents) and secondly, that I use influence in the worst possible way.

In my 20-year career, I have always endeavored, in every circumstance, to behave correctly. I have also tried to the best of my ability to build entrepreneurial businesses which would in some small way contribute to our countryís development. In the financial field, most of these efforts have involved raising equity capital for the private sector devoid of any political influence.

I have followed your articles and found them to be insightful and perceptive. I hope that in some sense of Christian fairness in this New Year, you will reconsider your conclusions.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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