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


FROM THE INQUIRER

EDITORIAL: RECLAIM EDSA
[Reclaiming the past cannot be more crucial than it is now, with Edsa at risk of being merely associated with traffic, and the collective memory of being inexorably hijacked by the years.]


FEBRUARY 25 -COURTESY OF cebudailynews.inquirer.net 2014 Editorial For those who stood vigil at Edsa 30 years ago to help topple Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship, reading the snarky posts on social media that dismiss the evil against which they had risked their lives can be terribly disappointing, indeed infuriating. The refrain harps on certain themes, including the outright lie “We could have been another Singapore had Marcos been allowed to stay.” This is a favorite line of the dictator’s son and namesake who is now running for vice president, and for whose benefit an elaborate mythmaking now flourishes. With the May elections drawing nearer, the mythmaking has reached fever pitch, and Marcos “trolloyalists” and supporters are countering with violent language any attempt to present evidence of the excesses and abuses of martial law. It’s all of a piece with the Marcos heirs’ political comeback—the son in the Senate, his sister continuing the family control of Ilocos Norte, and their mother in the House of Representatives. With the family’s ill-gotten wealth intact, a big chunk of which is stashed abroad, it is on full-speed-ahead mode to redeem the family name that Guinness made synonymous with large-scale thievery and to erase from history and memory the members’ panicked and ignominious flight from the Palace in 1986, chased out of the country by ordinary folk who had faced down state tanks and guns at Edsa. “Time to move on, past is past,” the remorseless Bongbong Marcos intones, distancing himself from the dictatorship as if he had no part in it. Revising history has never been easier, what with millennials—those born after Edsa, and those too young to remember—comprising 27 million of the country’s 100-million population, and more than half of its workers, according to the National Statistics Office, and wielding the gadgets that have all but taken over public discourse. By sheer number, these young voters just might decide the nation’s collective fate in May. READ MORE..

ALSO: EDITORIAL - PPP’s big loss
[Last week, however, the PPP program suffered a big blow: Cosette Canilao, executive director of the agency overseeing it, quit to attend to “pressing family concerns.” Her resignation from the PPP Center takes effect on March 8.]


FEBRUARY 29 -President Benigno Simeon Aquino lll INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC
THE CORNERSTONE of President Aquino’s economic program is the public-private partnership (PPP) program, which seeks to develop much-needed infrastructure by tapping the expertise and money of the private sector. Six years after it was launched, it is not without kinks, notably the various delays hounding even those projects that have already been awarded through public bidding. Still, the PPP remains a promising linchpin for sustained economic growth. Last week, however, the PPP program suffered a big blow: Cosette Canilao, executive director of the agency overseeing it, quit to attend to “pressing family concerns.” Her resignation from the PPP Center takes effect on March 8. Proof of Canilao’s successful handling of the PPP Center is the international recognition it has received. Last year, it was named The Asset Magazine’s Agency of the Year through its first “Triple-A Asia Infrastructure Awards 2015.” The awards honor institutions and deals in Asia that have made a difference. The publication specifically recognized Canilao’s agency for advancing the implementation of the Philippines’ PPP program and projects. It was also cited for facilitating the approval and rollout of several implementing agencies’ PPP projects in 2014 and for awarding PPP contracts to the private sector. It was the third international award received by the PPP Center.In 2014, it was the Gold Award winner for the Best Central Government PPP Promoter during the annual Partnerships Awards of the UK-Based Partnerships Bulletin in London. In March 2015, the PPP Center bagged its second international award from the infrastructure journal and project finance magazine IJ Global. Canilao was the face of the PPP program. She is leaving a pipeline of 51 PPP projects with a combined value of P1.62 trillion. Of these, the Aquino administration has awarded 12 projects valued at P200.48 billion. Here are the rest: seven projects worth P101.9 billion for approval of relevant government agencies; 14 projects worth P556.56 billion under procurement; two projects worth P539 billion under evaluation; two projects valued at P66.1 billion for rollout; one project worth P69.3 billion under the BOT (build-operate-transfer) Law; one project worth P37.43 billion under joint-venture agreement; five projects worth P44 billion undergoing studies; and seven others under development. Only three PPP projects have been actually completed to date. READ MORE...

ALSO: What was Edsa?
[It’s understandable that many are wistful for the “spirit of Edsa.” For a brief moment, there emerged the possibility of social democracy realized in the unreserved generosity and unstinting courage of so many people on the streets. Today, those streets no longer offer spaces of liberation, but only the entrapment of traffic and pollution. The memory of People Power is daily dissolved by the reality of masses rushing in disaffection, absorbed in their alienation.]


FEBRUARY 25 -By Vicente Rafael, Ph.D., Cornell University, 1984. The Philippines is marking the 30th anniversary of the Edsa uprising this week. It’s a good time to ask a few simple questions. First, what kind of an event was it? Most historians describe it as a civilian-backed coup. Instigated by the attempt of RAM, backed by Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos, to overthrow the Marcos regime, it took place in haste and, by all indications, was badly planned. The coup plotters quickly found themselves trapped in Camp Crame, and became sitting ducks for Ferdinand Marcos’ loyalist forces. Yet, their helplessness and vulnerability proved to be their strength. Taking pity, or “malasakit,” on the coup plotters, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protect them at the behest of Jaime Cardinal Sin. What began as a civilian-backed coup soon turned into a hybrid event: A combination of fiesta, prayer meeting, political rally, it opened up for those who were there an unexpected horizon of democratic sociality. The mixing of people from different, formerly opposed, groups and social classes lent to the whole event the ambience of a New Jerusalem. Second, why did it happen? Edsa was not so much a miracle as the culmination of a series of events. Large crowds had already been gathering to oppose the dictatorship ever since the assassination of Ninoy Aquino on Aug. 21, 1983, and the snap elections three years later. These were clearly dress rehearsals for Edsa, as civil society groups, oppositional elites, students, members of the Catholic clergy, and others opposed to Marcos began to coalesce into a growing force. Some high officials began to defect, notably then diplomat and former senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, who publicly repudiated Marcos and sided with Cory Aquino before her own brother did. All these culminated in the show of “People Power” during the fateful days of February 1986 in response to the calls to occupy Edsa. READ MORE...

ALSO: Editorial - Say it like it is


FEBRUARY 27 -Protesters flash thumbs-down signs as they shout slogans during a rally near the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, to denounce the alleged deployment of surface-to-air-missiles by China on the disputed islands off South China Sea, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The protesters are calling on China to halt its island-building on some of the disputed islands and its alleged increasing militarization. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Days after news came out that China has deployed not only fighter jets but also antiaircraft missiles and radar to the disputed Woody Island in the South China Sea, and even after the United States has also publicly expressed alarm at China’s increasing militarization, which is “changing the operational landscape” of the area, according to Adm. Harry Harris Jr., head of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, none of the five candidates seeking the presidency of the Philippines has presented a definitive policy statement on the issue. For Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas, the days before and after the ominous new indications of China’s military buildup very near Philippine shores were spent as usual on their tiresome shtick of taunting each other in front of the cameras, egged on by their supporters—Roxas twitting Duterte about Davao’s supposed drug-free reputation by saying that even he knew where to buy the contraband in the city, and the mayor firing back by calling Roxas a “failed politician.” The back-and-forth made for another round of clickbaits on social media, but in the end revealed nothing more than just how shallow, if scorched-earth, the campaign strategies of both camps are. Can there be any doubt by now about China’s intentions on the entire South China Sea? The emerging superpower has employed a combination of muscle, intimidation, obfuscation and plain lies to control an area claimed by other countries, the Philippines included, in the idea that its practical occupation of disputed isles and reefs would eventually amount to their de facto ownership, in violation of accepted international law. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Guillermo Luz - The 1986 Edsa Revolution and the 2016 elections


FEBRUARY 27 -By: Guillermo M. Luz
Thirty years ago this week, we threw out a dictator and his family in a display of People Power. While it is often called the Edsa Revolution (because of the venue for the largest, most visible protests on Feb. 22-25, 1986), it was in fact a nationwide protest with rallies held in other cities nationwide. And while many events preceded it, one event in particular provided the basis and trigger for the final action that was People Power: the Feb. 7 snap election that resulted in Cory Aquino winning the presidency over Ferdinand Marcos. More than half of our population—and about half of our voting-age population—were not yet born in 1986 or are too young to remember what happened then and the implications of those events on our lives today. It is easy to dismiss People Power as an event that happened so long ago. Yet the link may be closer than we think.The development of the Philippines has been fairly well-documented since 1986. Economic growth, investments, debt ratios, and other economic indicators have shown significant signs of improvement. Political and governance institutions have been rebuilt and strengthened, and a vastly expanded democratic space has enabled social institutions to play larger roles in society. This is not to say that all is perfect. Poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, and other social and developmental ills still remain. On the other hand, I shudder to think what might have continued had People Power failed in 1986. At that time, economic growth was dropping and corruption and social unrest were on the rise. The country was likened to a “social volcano.” READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL Reclaim Edsa


COURTESY OF cebudailynews.inquirer.net 2014 Editorial

MANILA, FEBRUARY 29, 2016 (INQUIRER) @inquirerdotnet February 25th, 2016 - For those who stood vigil at Edsa 30 years ago to help topple Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship, reading the snarky posts on social media that dismiss the evil against which they had risked their lives can be terribly disappointing, indeed infuriating.

The refrain harps on certain themes, including the outright lie “We could have been another Singapore had Marcos been allowed to stay.” This is a favorite line of the dictator’s son and namesake who is now running for vice president, and for whose benefit an elaborate mythmaking now flourishes.

With the May elections drawing nearer, the mythmaking has reached fever pitch, and Marcos “trolloyalists” and supporters are countering with violent language any attempt to present evidence of the excesses and abuses of martial law. It’s all of a piece with the Marcos heirs’ political comeback—the son in the Senate, his sister continuing the family control of Ilocos Norte, and their mother in the House of Representatives.

With the family’s ill-gotten wealth intact, a big chunk of which is stashed abroad, it is on full-speed-ahead mode to redeem the family name that Guinness made synonymous with large-scale thievery and to erase from history and memory the members’ panicked and ignominious flight from the Palace in 1986, chased out of the country by ordinary folk who had faced down state tanks and guns at Edsa.

“Time to move on, past is past,” the remorseless Bongbong Marcos intones, distancing himself from the dictatorship as if he had no part in it. Revising history has never been easier, what with millennials—those born after Edsa, and those too young to remember—comprising 27 million of the country’s 100-million population, and more than half of its workers, according to the National Statistics Office, and wielding the gadgets that have all but taken over public discourse. By sheer number, these young voters just might decide the nation’s collective fate in May.

READ MORE...

To be sure, there are valiant efforts to remind people of the tens of thousands of men and women abducted, tortured, killed, or simply made to disappear by the Marcos apparat. These efforts include the formation by survivors and families of victims of martial law of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang—or Carmma, the acronym both a battle cry and a fervent prayer.

Some Filipinos who, by their silence, have become complicit in the mangling of memory can do no less. Helping bring back democratic space via Edsa is just the beginning. To complete the task, every effort must be made to pull back the young from the hypnotic sway of a martial law makeover.

How to tell the story of Edsa 1 and the long and dangerous roads that led to it? Have parents sufficiently taught their children the lessons of martial law, including the necessity of critical thinking, speaking up when something is wrong, and protesting thievery in high places?

Have there been enough attempts to use popular media to dramatize the countless documented stories of how Filipino lives were lost, upended or ruined by Marcos edicts that, for example, imposed an unjust levy on coconut farmers, confiscated privately owned industries to establish state monopoly, and fractured families with illegal arrest, search and seizure orders?

Creative ways of making the young apprehend the brutality of martial law can be included as supplemental exercises to history and civic classes. (One comic strip suggested that for a first-hand, if flippant, taste of the “New Society,” parents withhold their children’s daily allowance, confiscate their gadgets, and forbid them from watching their favorite shows. Oh, and if they talk back, tape their mouths! That’s “peace and order,” martial law style.)

With Edsa’s 30th anniversary activities in full swing, today is an opportune time to visit the People Power Experiential Museum at Camp Crame. Entire families can have an interactive look back at the era through theater, cinema, photography, performances, installations and allied arts.

Organizers should make concrete plans for a permanent site for the museum, where students can visit regularly as part of their lessons, instead of going on field trips to the malls. The experience can be used for history classes, with Edsa veterans serving as resource persons to talk about the unvarnished truth in this chapter of our history.

Reclaiming the past cannot be more crucial than it is now, with Edsa at risk of being merely associated with traffic, and the collective memory of being inexorably hijacked by the years.


EDITORIAL - PPP’s big loss SHARES: 687 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer
02:18 AM February 29th, 2016


President Benigno Simeon Aquino lll INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC


THE CORNERSTONE of President Aquino’s economic program is the public-private partnership (PPP) program, which seeks to develop much-needed infrastructure by tapping the expertise and money of the private sector. Six years after it was launched, it is not without kinks, notably the various delays hounding even those projects that have already been awarded through public bidding. Still, the PPP remains a promising linchpin for sustained economic growth.

Last week, however, the PPP program suffered a big blow: Cosette Canilao, executive director of the agency overseeing it, quit to attend to “pressing family concerns.” Her resignation from the PPP Center takes effect on March 8.

Proof of Canilao’s successful handling of the PPP Center is the international recognition it has received. Last year, it was named The Asset Magazine’s Agency of the Year through its first “Triple-A Asia Infrastructure Awards 2015.” The awards honor institutions and deals in Asia that have made a difference. The publication specifically recognized Canilao’s agency for advancing the implementation of the Philippines’ PPP program and projects. It was also cited for facilitating the approval and rollout of several implementing agencies’ PPP projects in 2014 and for awarding PPP contracts to the private sector. It was the third international award received by the PPP Center.

In 2014, it was the Gold Award winner for the Best Central Government PPP Promoter during the annual Partnerships Awards of the UK-Based Partnerships Bulletin in London. In March 2015, the PPP Center bagged its second international award from the infrastructure journal and project finance magazine IJ Global.

Canilao was the face of the PPP program. She is leaving a pipeline of 51 PPP projects with a combined value of P1.62 trillion. Of these, the Aquino administration has awarded 12 projects valued at P200.48 billion. Here are the rest: seven projects worth P101.9 billion for approval of relevant government agencies; 14 projects worth P556.56 billion under procurement; two projects worth P539 billion under evaluation; two projects valued at P66.1 billion for rollout; one project worth P69.3 billion under the BOT (build-operate-transfer) Law; one project worth P37.43 billion under joint-venture agreement; five projects worth P44 billion undergoing studies; and seven others under development.

Only three PPP projects have been actually completed to date.

READ MORE...

These are the Department of Public Works and Highways’ Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway or Daang Hari-SLEx Link Road, the Automatic Fare Collection System of the Department of Transportation and Communications, and the first phase of the Department of Education’s School Infrastructure Project.

However, the second phase of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway Project is expected to be completed before Mr. Aquino steps down in June. The Naia Expressway is a 7.15-kilometer elevated expressway that will provide easy access to and from Naia Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and connect the Skyway and the Cavitex (Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway). The second phase of the school infrastructure project involving the construction of 9,300 classrooms in the Ilocos, Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions is also expected to be completed by June. A dozen other PPP projects are likewise expected to be bid out before Mr. Aquino’s term ends. Among these are the P123-billion Laguna lakeshore expressway dike project, five regional airports, three rail projects, a prison facility, a port modernization and water project and two information technology projects.

In past interviews, Canilao suggested that the PPP Center be made part of the President’s Cabinet in order to streamline and fast-track the process of building vital infrastructure. She has recommended lawyer Andre Palacios as her replacement. Palacios has been a consultant of the PPP Center for more than a year and Canilao described him as “highly reliable, with unquestionable integrity, and equipped to take on the gargantuan task of leading the [PPP] Center.” She said that he had “also established a very good relationship with the officers and staff” of the PPP Center.

Despite the glowing recommendation from the outgoing PPP Center chief, Palacios, if appointed, has truly big shoes to fill.


What was Edsa? By: Vicente Rafael @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:26 AM February 25th, 201


Vicente Rafael, Ph.D., Cornell University, 1984.

The Philippines is marking the 30th anniversary of the Edsa uprising this week. It’s a good time to ask a few simple questions.
First, what kind of an event was it? Most historians describe it as a civilian-backed coup. Instigated by the attempt of RAM, backed by Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos, to overthrow the Marcos regime, it took place in haste and, by all indications, was badly planned.

The coup plotters quickly found themselves trapped in Camp Crame, and became sitting ducks for Ferdinand Marcos’ loyalist forces. Yet, their helplessness and vulnerability proved to be their strength. Taking pity, or “malasakit,” on the coup plotters, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protect them at the behest of Jaime Cardinal Sin.

What began as a civilian-backed coup soon turned into a hybrid event: A combination of fiesta, prayer meeting, political rally, it opened up for those who were there an unexpected horizon of democratic sociality. The mixing of people from different, formerly opposed, groups and social classes lent to the whole event the ambience of a New Jerusalem.

Second, why did it happen? Edsa was not so much a miracle as the culmination of a series of events. Large crowds had already been gathering to oppose the dictatorship ever since the assassination of Ninoy Aquino on Aug. 21, 1983, and the snap elections three years later. These were clearly dress rehearsals for Edsa, as civil society groups, oppositional elites, students, members of the Catholic clergy, and others opposed to Marcos began to coalesce into a growing force.

Some high officials began to defect, notably then diplomat and former senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, who publicly repudiated Marcos and sided with Cory Aquino before her own brother did.

All these culminated in the show of “People Power” during the fateful days of February 1986 in response to the calls to occupy Edsa.

READ MORE...

Third, who made it happen? A wide range of people from housewives to priests, students to nuns, workers, vendors, maids, drivers, teachers and others risked life and limb to turn back tanks and troops. Anti-Marcos opposition figures among the old elites were prominent at Edsa. My own parents, largely apolitical, camped out on the streets.

Indeed, the courage of the crowd was crucial in turning the military as a whole against Marcos. Disillusioned by the Marcoses, US President Ronald Reagan, through his proxies, withdrew US support, providing the family with the transport planes to evacuate Malacañang. Interestingly enough, the communist Left chose to sit out Edsa, misreading its nature and timing.

Fourth, and perhaps hardest to answer: What were Edsa’s effects and legacies? Most obviously, it got rid of the much-reviled Marcoses. For a while, there emerged a widespread sentiment that Edsa opened a “democratic space” with the promise for reconciliation and structural reforms.

Political prisoners were freed and negotiations got under way with both the communists and the Moro rebels. A new constitution was framed, which provided many protections for civil liberties and set the path toward more equitable national development.

But hopes for change were quickly dashed. The savagery of paramilitary groups was unleashed on leftist rebels and civilians alike, even as negotiations with Moro rebels failed. Military coup attempts multiplied and were turned back only with the staunch support of the United States. Criminality intensified and land reform of any sort failed, given the opposition of landowning families to any serious redistribution program.

On the whole, Edsa resulted in the return of the old oligarchy alongside the new—many of them Marcos cronies. It thus amounted to a regime change, not to social change. Far from being a revolution, it was really a restoration of political dynasties side by side with new economic elites.

Edsa also marked the decisive weakening of the Left. Boycotting Edsa, the Communist Party of the Philippines descended into turmoil. Fearing infiltration from deep-penetration agents, the leadership ordered the execution of many cadres. The CPP split between those who reaffirmed and those who rejected its Maoist authoritarianism. To this day, the Left remains fragmented, unable to offer a real alternative to oligarchical rule.

Another legacy of Edsa is the return of the Marcoses, beginning with the dictator’s yet-to-be buried corpse. With their loot largely intact, the family members remain unapologetic to the point of arrogance. Bereft of moral decency, they brim with the confidence of despots.

Presidential candidates have had little to say about this, while two of them—Miriam Defensor Santiago and Rodrigo Duterte—along with most local officials from the North, have openly supported Bongbong Marcos.

Thus the supreme irony of Edsa: By restoring elite democracy, it set the conditions for the return of the Marcoses. That restoration began with the swearing-in of Cory in that bastion of ilustrado culture, Club Filipino, in 1986. Successive administrations, including her son’s, would continue the growth of political dynasties.

It’s understandable that many are wistful for the “spirit of Edsa.”

For a brief moment, there emerged the possibility of social democracy realized in the unreserved generosity and unstinting courage of so many people on the streets. Today, those streets no longer offer spaces of liberation, but only the entrapment of traffic and pollution.

The memory of People Power is daily dissolved by the reality of masses rushing in disaffection, absorbed in their alienation.

Vicente Rafael teaches history at the University of Washington, Seattle.


Editorial: Say it like it is SHARES: 1187 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:17 AM February 27th, 2016


Protesters flash thumbs-down signs as they shout slogans during a rally near the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, to denounce the alleged deployment of surface-to-air-missiles by China on the disputed islands off South China Sea, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The protesters are calling on China to halt its island-building on some of the disputed islands and its alleged increasing militarization. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Days after news came out that China has deployed not only fighter jets but also antiaircraft missiles and radar to the disputed Woody Island in the South China Sea, and even after the United States has also publicly expressed alarm at China’s increasing militarization, which is “changing the operational landscape” of the area, according to Adm. Harry Harris Jr., head of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, none of the five candidates seeking the presidency of the Philippines has presented a definitive policy statement on the issue.

For Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas, the days before and after the ominous new indications of China’s military buildup very near Philippine shores were spent as usual on their tiresome shtick of taunting each other in front of the cameras, egged on by their supporters—Roxas twitting Duterte about Davao’s supposed drug-free reputation by saying that even he knew where to buy the contraband in the city, and the mayor firing back by calling Roxas a “failed politician.” The back-and-forth made for another round of clickbaits on social media, but in the end revealed nothing more than just how shallow, if scorched-earth, the campaign strategies of both camps are.

Can there be any doubt by now about China’s intentions on the entire South China Sea? The emerging superpower has employed a combination of muscle, intimidation, obfuscation and plain lies to control an area claimed by other countries, the Philippines included, in the idea that its practical occupation of disputed isles and reefs would eventually amount to their de facto ownership, in violation of accepted international law.

READ MORE..

Woody Island, for example, is claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; when reports emerged of China’s deployment of fighter jets there, China dismissed the furor as merely “the hyping by certain western media.” Now it has changed its tune, with its foreign ministry spokesperson Wu Qian quoted as saying that “China’s construction of military facilities on the islands and reefs of the South China Sea is really needed,” and that all such military facilities are “legal and appropriate.”

The premise, of course, remains the same: that China has indisputable sovereignty over as much as 85.7 percent of the vital waterway according to its so-called “nine-dash line,” and therefore is free to do with it as it wishes. That unilateral claim is its nonnegotiable starting point for any discussion—and the battering ram by which it has continued to dash any attempt at a dialogue or mediation between coequal nations, such as the Philippines’ move to bring the issue to a formal hearing by a United Nations arbitral tribunal.

China’s arbitrary and increasingly aggressive moves so close to Philippine borders, and over islands and waters to which the Philippines has had far older claims, represent “the gravest external threat since World War II,” warned Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a recent forum. Hence, he is challenging the five presidential candidates to openly state their position on the China problem, to tell the electorate whether they would continue with the UN arbitration that’s currently awaiting resolution, or enter into negotiations with China if they are elected president.

Of the aspirants, Vice President Jejomar Binay is on record as advocating a “joint venture” arrangement; as he put it, “China has money, we need capital.” Duterte takes a similar tack, saying he will talk to China and “assert our rights”—but will also be open to joint exploration. Sen. Grace Poe has backed the Philippine case at the UN tribunal, while saying she will “pursue” other possible avenues for bilateral relations. Roxas’ clearest statement on the matter is this declaration: “Ang para sa Pilipinas ay dapat manatili sa kamay ng Pilipino. Dedepensahan natin ang atin (What is for the Philippines should remain in our hands; we will defend what is ours).”

That’s it so far—generic statements devoid of specifics that the electorate can hold to scrutiny. Carpio warns that more serious, substantial strategy is required of anyone wishing to be the next president, “because the condition of China for joint development is [that] we concede sovereignty to them and they will give us 50 percent of resources within our economic zone.” Other claimant countries have not acceded to this high-handed condition. What do the five presidentiables say?


BUSINESS MATTERS: The 1986 Edsa Revolution and the 2016 elections SHARES: 44 VIEW COMMENTS By: Guillermo M. Luz @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:05 AM February 27th, 2016


By: Guillermo M. Luz

Thirty years ago this week, we threw out a dictator and his family in a display of People Power. While it is often called the Edsa Revolution (because of the venue for the largest, most visible protests on Feb. 22-25, 1986), it was in fact a nationwide protest with rallies held in other cities nationwide. And while many events preceded it, one event in particular provided the basis and trigger for the final action that was People Power: the Feb. 7 snap election that resulted in Cory Aquino winning the presidency over Ferdinand Marcos.

More than half of our population—and about half of our voting-age population—were not yet born in 1986 or are too young to remember what happened then and the implications of those events on our lives today. It is easy to dismiss People Power as an event that happened so long ago. Yet the link may be closer than we think.

The development of the Philippines has been fairly well-documented since 1986. Economic growth, investments, debt ratios, and other economic indicators have shown significant signs of improvement. Political and governance institutions have been rebuilt and strengthened, and a vastly expanded democratic space has enabled social institutions to play larger roles in society.

This is not to say that all is perfect. Poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, and other social and developmental ills still remain. On the other hand, I shudder to think what might have continued had People Power failed in 1986. At that time, economic growth was dropping and corruption and social unrest were on the rise. The country was likened to a “social volcano.”

READ MORE...

But equally as important as 1986 were the developments that have occurred since then. These provide even more valuable lessons for all of us, and especially for those born after 1986. We have had five presidents and seven elections since 1986, counting the off-year elections for lawmakers and local officials when presidents were not elected. Our choice of presidents and elected officials had a clear bearing on how the country developed and on how our economy and political and social institutions performed. These provide us powerful lessons on the value of leadership and the consequences of the choices we make as voters, as well as the options that our political parties offer us as voters.

While I believe that voters share some of the credit or blame for the quality of political leadership, I hold political parties equally responsible. Their responsibility, after all, is to present us with good candidates—something that some parties have absolutely failed to do.

That our country and economy have been on a roller coaster since 1986 is a bit of an understatement. One can almost track the level of economic growth, corruption, confidence, or even competitiveness and match that to an administration and its president. Leadership matters. It may not be a guarantee of progress—as we have seen—but it is an important factor. Without quality leadership and management, it is difficult to imagine how the country can continue to move forward in a world that has grown even more challenging in just the last few years.

In many of my speaking engagements, or, more often, in private conversations, I have been asked who to vote for on Election Day. My answer has always been that I look for four qualities in a leader: integrity, vision, management, and empathy.

I consider integrity the most important. We have been misled too many times by elected officials with no integrity that we cannot risk going without this quality. The consequences are too great. Vision is important, but without management skills, it still means nothing and is just another unfulfilled vision. And finally empathy, the ability to feel what others are feeling.

With empathy comes communication, the ability to reach out. That combination can give people hope and build up trust—important elements when you want to inspire people to support programs and pull in the same direction. My bottom-line question has always been: Who do you think will be best for the country? It applies to all positions, from the president to the vice president, senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, provincial board members and local councilors.

The road from Edsa I in 1986 to Election Day in May may appear to be long, but the connection is actually closer than you think. Thirty years is not a terribly long time. Many of the people who were around then are still around now, and they include both citizens and politicians. One need not look too deep into the candidate list for president and vice president to see who were there, what they did, or who they were connected to at the time.

Tigers do not change their stripes, and neither do most candidates. How they behaved then and through the 30 years ensuing will more or less tell you how they will conduct themselves if elected to office in May. So, if you still think that People Power 1986 doesn’t mean much to us, please think again. The answers are staring at us, if we just bother to reflect a little on the last three decades.

Guillermo M. Luz (gm.luz@competitive.org.ph) is the private-sector cochair of the National Competitiveness Council.


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