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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

EDITORIAL: BBL - NO SINGLE ROAD

[But this is not the legacy of anybody. Peace in Mindanao, elusive for generations, is an end that can be achieved not through a method rammed down our throats, especially if it’s a product of consultation with a few parties.]


Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has sponsored an alternative to the Bangsamoro Basic Law pushed by the Aquino administration. A majority of Marcos’ colleagues have signed the committee report, but interpellation scheduled for Monday were delayed.  Predictably, though, those who were involved in the crafting of the original bill being pushed by the Aquino administration are criticizing the bill before the senators could even debate on it.  According to peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer, the Marcos proposal tends to promote political dynasties. The negotiator from the MILF panel, Mohagher Iqbal, was reported to have said that a draft other than what the congressional committee had submitted would be unacceptable.  Marcos claims he crafted his own version of the Bangsamoro law in reaction to the government’s draft which stemmed from talks only with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.   The peace panel insists it did some consultations, but affected groups say they were never consulted at all.  In contrast, the senator went around various communities that stood to be included in the new territory. READ MORE...

ALSO by Rudy Romero: No First World status for PH anytime soon
[Can this country achieve developed-country status by 2030? Not anytime soon, in my view. For an explanation, just look around the Philippine political horizon and see the kinds of politicians--especially presidential candidates--that this country still has. And just look at the highly inefficient fiscal structure--collection as well as use of tax money--that this country still has.]


A high-ranking official of the Aquino administration stated recently that on the basis of the Philippine economy’s significantly improved performance during the period 2010-2015, it was possible to predict that this country will achieve First World, i.e., developed-country status, by the year 2030. That was not the first time that such a forecast had been made for the Philippines in recent decades. In the midst of the martial-law environment of the 1970s, some economists, Filipino and foreign, were heard to say that the Philippine economy was poised to join the ranks of the baby tiger economies of East Asia. In more recent times, Jose de Venecia Jr., former Speaker of the House of Representatives, repeatedly stated that the Philippines was capable of achieving 7 percent annual GDP (gross domestic product) growth and graduate from a middle-income Third World country to a First World country. Speaker De Venecia almost certainly based his choice of 7 percent annual GDP growth on the famous conclusion of Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor Walt W. Rostow, in his 1960s book “The Stages of Growth,” that a developing country needs to post 7 percent annual GDP growth for fourteen consecutive years in order to achieve First-World status. That the Rostovian GDP growth requirement is difficult to achieve has been shown by the fact that after one year of 7 percent GDP growth--the second best in East Asia in that year--the Philippine economy has been faltering of late and has been moving back towards its 2010-2015 average annual growth rate of 6.2 percent. Economic maturity came to today’s developed countries neither quickly nor easily. The First World status of the members of OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development)--the officially recognized grouping of developed countries--was achieved by those countries only after a long period of striving, perseverance and pain. In many instances, the development process took a century or more. The Industrial Revolution really began to gather steam in the 18th century, bringing in its train enormous strides in the development of the revolutionizing economies’ physical infrastructure, scientific systems and manufacturing capabilities. Many economic analysts and historians are saying that the First World is currently going through a second Industrial Revolution. Nor was the drive toward economic maturity attended by physical development only. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: A more severe El Niño


This early, the El Niño weather phenomenon has already reared its ugly head. Philippine agriculture production dropped 0.37 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, as the dry spell reduced rice and corn harvest, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show. The second-quarter contraction in farm and fishery output reversed the 1.8-percent growth in the first quarter and the 2.73-percent expansion a year ago. It is also expected to drag down the gross domestic product growth in the second quarter, as agriculture accounts for nearly 15 percent of the economy. The prolonged dry spell and insufficient rainfall in many parts of the Philippines had significantly cut palay production in the April-to-June period. Corn production, the statistics agency noted, fell 15.8 percent to 1 million MT in the second quarter from 1.2 million MT last year. Lower corn harvest was observed in the Davao region, Soccsksargen, Cagayan Valley, Northern Mindanao and the Bicol area amid insufficient water supply. The agricultural data followed the report of Maryland, US-based Climate Prediction Center last week that predicted El Niño will last at least until early spring, and it could be one of the strongest in 65 years. The center’s forecast models show that El Niño will peak sometime in late fall or early winter this year in the northern hemisphere. Temperatures in parts of the Pacific may be close to 2 degrees Celsius above normal, it added. READ MORE...

ALSO: by Jojo Robles: Why BBL will die
[What happened to the BBL should be reviewed by historians and political scientists and turned into a case study of the folly of exclusionary policy. And why no government should ever assume that the lessons and events of the past are of no import because it will merely be forced to repeat all previous, avoidable mistakes.]


Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is really a piece of work. According to this most incompetent and scandal-plagued official of this thoroughly inept and insensitive government, the monstrous traffic in Metro Manila doesn’t really kill anyone, so he’s really wondering what the fuss is all about. Somebody put this guy out of his misery, please. Just so he stops causing us ours. * * *  If you’re wondering what went wrong with the original draft Bangsamoro Basic Law peddled by Malacañang, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Malaysia, perhaps you really haven’t been paying attention. Because the BBL is probably the most typical of the exclusive—as in, excluding everyone except those with a vested interest—initiatives of this Aquino administration. If you’re looking for what they call a proximate cause to the impending train wreck that is the BBL, of course, you’ll find it in a corn field in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where 44 police commandos were butchered last January by a rebel force which included the same people who are demanding the draft law’s passage in Congress. And I mean the MILF, not the government of President Noynoy Aquino, who basically allowed the carnage to happen and who up to now is allergic to the combination of the words “Mamasapano” and “massacre.”  But the Mamasapano incident, spectacular as it was, merely awakened a huge segment of the population to the hypocrisy and lack of empathy of the people who want to shove the BBL down our throats. The original sin, or the remote cause of the draft law’s failure, is really the decision of the administration to reinvent the wheel of Muslim autonomy by excluding all the other stakeholders in the process outside of the MILF, Kuala Lumpur and the palace-backed peace negotiators of the Manila government. This is the compelling argument raised by Emmanuel Fontanilla, a spokesman of the MILF’s chief rival and direct parent, the Moro National Liberation Front. Fontanilla is of the firm belief that if the Aquino government had not excluded the MNLF of Nur Misuari from the peace process, the BBL would not be dead in the water like it is today. “The MNLF already has a peace agreement with the government, which was ratified by no less than the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” Fontanilla told me. “The Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and the Jakarta Accord of 1996 have never been revoked, and yet this administration decided to just throw these documents into the trash can.” As everyone who has taken an interest in Muslim autonomy knows, the Aquino administration took the inflexible position that the government’s deals with the MNLF and the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that flowed from them were “failed experiments.” But instead of fixing what was wrong with these two binding and valid agreements and amending the organic law creating the ARMM, Aquino’s government decided to throw the autonomy baby out with the bath water and start from scratch. The result is the Malaysian-sponsored Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the two pacts that led directly to the drafting on the BBL. With its new partner in the peace talks, the MILF, the Manila government decided to pretend that the MNLF doesn’t even exist—and is now already facing a lawsuit in the Supreme Court for going into both the FAB and the CAB. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

No single road

MANILA, AUGUST 24, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) Aug. 18, 2015 - Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has sponsored an alternative to the Bangsamoro Basic Law pushed by the Aquino administration. A majority of Marcos’ colleagues have signed the committee report, but interpellation scheduled for Monday were delayed.

Predictably, though, those who were involved in the crafting of the original bill being pushed by the Aquino administration are criticizing the bill before the senators could even debate on it.

According to peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer, the Marcos proposal tends to promote political dynasties. The negotiator from the MILF panel, Mohagher Iqbal, was reported to have said that a draft other than what the congressional committee had submitted would be unacceptable.

Marcos claims he crafted his own version of the Bangsamoro law in reaction to the government’s draft which stemmed from talks only with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The peace panel insists it did some consultations, but affected groups say they were never consulted at all.

In contrast, the senator went around various communities that stood to be included in the new territory.

READ MORE...

Marcos also removed the provisions in the Palace draft perceived to run counter to the Constitution—provisions that have divided the nation especially after they were brought to fore following the Mamasapano incident in January.

The senator welcomes the deferment so his colleagues can study the bill, now renamed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Law where Bangsamoro refers to the people.

Given the rush to get the original Bangsamoro Basic Law passed at the House, this counter-measure seems to dim the chances of the Palace-backed bill of being passed as a “legacy” of President Aquino before he steps down in June next year.

But this is not the legacy of anybody. Peace in Mindanao, elusive for generations, is an end that can be achieved not through a method rammed down our throats, especially if it’s a product of consultation with a few parties.

We urge the members of the Senate to read the bill and deliberate on what it says, not on who filed it.

The pursuit of peace is always a multi-faceted, complicated exercise. It is best to tread carefully, than swiftly.


No First World status for PH anytime soon By Rudy Romero | Aug. 18, 2015 at 12:01am

A high-ranking official of the Aquino administration stated recently that on the basis of the Philippine economy’s significantly improved performance during the period 2010-2015, it was possible to predict that this country will achieve First World, i.e., developed-country status, by the year 2030.

That was not the first time that such a forecast had been made for the Philippines in recent decades. In the midst of the martial-law environment of the 1970s, some economists, Filipino and foreign, were heard to say that the Philippine economy was poised to join the ranks of the baby tiger economies of East Asia.

In more recent times, Jose de Venecia Jr., former Speaker of the House of Representatives, repeatedly stated that the Philippines was capable of achieving 7 percent annual GDP (gross domestic product) growth and graduate from a middle-income Third World country to a First World country.

Speaker De Venecia almost certainly based his choice of 7 percent annual GDP growth on the famous conclusion of Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor Walt W. Rostow, in his 1960s book “The Stages of Growth,” that a developing country needs to post 7 percent annual GDP growth for fourteen consecutive years in order to achieve First-World status.

That the Rostovian GDP growth requirement is difficult to achieve has been shown by the fact that after one year of 7 percent GDP growth--the second best in East Asia in that year--the Philippine economy has been faltering of late and has been moving back towards its 2010-2015 average annual growth rate of 6.2 percent.

Economic maturity came to today’s developed countries neither quickly nor easily. The First World status of the members of OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development)--the officially recognized grouping of developed countries--was achieved by those countries only after a long period of striving, perseverance and pain.

In many instances, the development process took a century or more. The Industrial Revolution really began to gather steam in the 18th century, bringing in its train enormous strides in the development of the revolutionizing economies’ physical infrastructure, scientific systems and manufacturing capabilities. Many economic analysts and historians are saying that the First World is currently going through a second Industrial Revolution.

Nor was the drive toward economic maturity attended by physical development only.

READ MORE...

The Industrial Revolution necessitated changes in the way that the industrializing countries governed themselves and conducted the business of their citizens.

The bad practices and systems of the past--inefficiency, indifference, corruption and exclusiveness--perforce had to give way to their opposites, to wit, efficiency, transparency, inclusiveness and a both-hands-on-the-plow attitude toward the handling of national business.

At the time that they started along the path toward economic development, today’s developed countries faced enormous problems and dilemmas relating to governance and societal management. But technical progress dictated that they improved the running of their societies; thus improved governance had to go with economic improvement.

The 18th and early 19th centuries saw their shares of political and governance horrors, but by the dawn of the 20th century, the issue had largely been settled. Further economic progress could not be achieved without enlightened politics and good governance.

The US and most of the OECD member-countries got to where they are today, economically speaking, through the democratic route. But not all of the countries that today belong to the First World got there the democratic way.

Three East Asian countries that have achieved First World status--Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan--did not get there using democratic means. The South Korean and Taiwanese economies developed under dictatorial regimes--South Korea mostly under President Park Chung Hee and Taiwan under the Chiang family--while Singaporean politics have been controlled by Lee Kwan Yew and his son. The managers of those three East Asian economies did not have to contend with the trappings of democratic governance.

Being dictatorial in nature, the governments of South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan could fully access the single most essential need of a developing economy: tax revenues. An effective tax system is a sine qua non of rapid and sustained economic development. Without resources with which to finance physical and social infrastructure spending, economic development cannot get very far.

Which brings me back to the suggestion that the Philippines can graduate to First World economic status by 2013.

Can this country achieve developed-country status by 2030? Not anytime soon, in my view.

For an explanation, just look around the Philippine political horizon and see the kinds of politicians--especially presidential candidates--that this country still has. And just look at the highly inefficient fiscal structure--collection as well as use of tax money--that this country still has. Last but certainly not least, just look also at the continuing pathetic deficit in this country’s physical and social infrastructure.

Unrealistic is the kindest adjective I can think of to describe the First-World-by-2030 suggestion.


EDITORIAL: A more severe El Niño  Aug. 21, 2015 at 12:01am

This early, the El Niño weather phenomenon has already reared its ugly head.

Philippine agriculture production dropped 0.37 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, as the dry spell reduced rice and corn harvest, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show.

The second-quarter contraction in farm and fishery output reversed the 1.8-percent growth in the first quarter and the 2.73-percent expansion a year ago. It is also expected to drag down the gross domestic product growth in the second quarter, as agriculture accounts for nearly 15 percent of the economy.

The prolonged dry spell and insufficient rainfall in many parts of the Philippines had significantly cut palay production in the April-to-June period. Corn production, the statistics agency noted, fell 15.8 percent to 1 million MT in the second quarter from 1.2 million MT last year. Lower corn harvest was observed in the Davao region, Soccsksargen, Cagayan Valley, Northern Mindanao and the Bicol area amid insufficient water supply.

The agricultural data followed the report of Maryland, US-based Climate Prediction Center last week that predicted El Niño will last at least until early spring, and it could be one of the strongest in 65 years. The center’s forecast models show that El Niño will peak sometime in late fall or early winter this year in the northern hemisphere. Temperatures in parts of the Pacific may be close to 2 degrees Celsius above normal, it added.

READ MORE...

The Philippine government, meanwhile, said it was bracing for the onslaught of the dry spell. The Department of Science and Technology, according to Malacañang, has drawn up guidelines on cloud-seeding and made preparations for irrigation to help farmers who are most likely to suffer the adverse effects of the prolonged dry spell.

El Niño may occur more frequently in the succeeding years due to climate change. The government, thus, must draw up long-term measures, such as constructing more reservoirs or dams to impound water during the rainy season, to mitigate the impact of future El Niños.

Band-aid solutions like cloud-seeding may help, but they do not address the fundamental problems of farmers—low output and limited access to water sources.


Why BBL will die | Aug. 18, 2015 at 12:01am
By Jojo Robles

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is really a piece of work. According to this most incompetent and scandal-plagued official of this thoroughly inept and insensitive government, the monstrous traffic in Metro Manila doesn’t really kill anyone, so he’s really wondering what the fuss is all about.

Somebody put this guy out of his misery, please. Just so he stops causing us ours.

* * *

If you’re wondering what went wrong with the original draft Bangsamoro Basic Law peddled by Malacañang, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Malaysia, perhaps you really haven’t been paying attention. Because the BBL is probably the most typical of the exclusive—as in, excluding everyone except those with a vested interest—initiatives of this Aquino administration.

If you’re looking for what they call a proximate cause to the impending train wreck that is the BBL, of course, you’ll find it in a corn field in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where 44 police commandos were butchered last January by a rebel force which included the same people who are demanding the draft law’s passage in Congress. And I mean the MILF, not the government of President Noynoy Aquino, who basically allowed the carnage to happen and who up to now is allergic to the combination of the words “Mamasapano” and “massacre.”

But the Mamasapano incident, spectacular as it was, merely awakened a huge segment of the population to the hypocrisy and lack of empathy of the people who want to shove the BBL down our throats. The original sin, or the remote cause of the draft law’s failure, is really the decision of the administration to reinvent the wheel of Muslim autonomy by excluding all the other stakeholders in the process outside of the MILF, Kuala Lumpur and the palace-backed peace negotiators of the Manila government.

This is the compelling argument raised by Emmanuel Fontanilla, a spokesman of the MILF’s chief rival and direct parent, the Moro National Liberation Front. Fontanilla is of the firm belief that if the Aquino government had not excluded the MNLF of Nur Misuari from the peace process, the BBL would not be dead in the water like it is today.

“The MNLF already has a peace agreement with the government, which was ratified by no less than the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” Fontanilla told me. “The Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and the Jakarta Accord of 1996 have never been revoked, and yet this administration decided to just throw these documents into the trash can.”

As everyone who has taken an interest in Muslim autonomy knows, the Aquino administration took the inflexible position that the government’s deals with the MNLF and the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that flowed from them were “failed experiments.” But instead of fixing what was wrong with these two binding and valid agreements and amending the organic law creating the ARMM, Aquino’s government decided to throw the autonomy baby out with the bath water and start from scratch.

The result is the Malaysian-sponsored Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the two pacts that led directly to the drafting on the BBL. With its new partner in the peace talks, the MILF, the Manila government decided to pretend that the MNLF doesn’t even exist—and is now already facing a lawsuit in the Supreme Court for going into both the FAB and the CAB.

READ MORE...

Well, the Manila government isn’t really completely ignoring the MNLF. When Misuari’s men began massing in Zamboanga City two years ago, the Aquino government made these rebels feel the wrath of Manila, nearly bombing and burning the city’s Muslim districts to extinction for daring to stage a show of force when they have been officially relegated into irrelevance.

Zamboanga City is still reeling from the wanton destruction wrought by Aquino, his sidekick Mar Roxas and all the other officials who ordered the 2013 siege. The overkill in Zamboanga predated the massacre in Mamasapano; both bloody incidents will prove to be the undoing of this administration, when the criminal and other charges comes after Aquino steps down.

And then there’s the growing belief, even inside Malacañang Palace, that the BBL will never pass in Congress, regardless of Aquino’s threats and largesse. That’s karma, really, for his administration’s hubris, lack of inclusion and self-serving incompetence.

What happened to the BBL should be reviewed by historians and political scientists and turned into a case study of the folly of exclusionary policy. And why no government should ever assume that the lessons and events of the past are of no import because it will merely be forced to repeat all previous, avoidable mistakes.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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