ECONOMIC  REFORMS  NEEDED,  NOT  POPULIST  POLITICS

MANILA, APRIL 2, 2007 (STAR) BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET By Wilson Lee Flores  (Vote for the man who promises least; he’ll be the least disappointing. —US gangster Al Capone)

(Yakshemash! In US of A, democracy is very different from Kazakhstan. In America, woman can vote, but horse cannot! —Borat)

The nauseating spectacle of failed Manila councilor candidate and demagogue Jun Ducat taking kids hostage, with senatorial bet Chavit Singson and Senator Bong Revilla trying to hog the headlines in a breach of accepted police procedure — all these point to the malaise of populist politics, which often overshadows the need for bold and pragmatic economic reforms in the Philippines.

Up to March 30, the deadline for filing of candidacies, earnest party-list groups were still trying to convince me to file my candidacy as their congressional candidate for the May 14 elections. To clear all speculation, yes, I had agreed to run last March 20 as a congressional nominee of a party-list group because I wanted to help fight for the rights of over a million victims of fraudulent pre-need firms, and also because I believe a new magna carta for consumers must be legislated. However, when the Comelec later announced one of its divisions was disapproving that party-list, I decided not to continue.

Even when the Comelec again approved the party-list group representing pre-need victims on March 29, I had finally decided not to run for public office, but to run away from politics for now.

Thanks to all the 170 business chambers and civic groups, including Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI) president Samie Lim, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FFCCCII) president Francis Chua, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) past president Atty. Joel Cadiz (in their personal capacities) and many others who offered support, sincerely hoping that I would offer an ideologically centrist, pro-middle class, pro-masses yet also pro-business alternative to the many different party-list groups out there running.

Why not run? I believe I have no time to conduct a credible and high-level campaign in less than two months, and I am not yet ready to wrangle bull-headedly right now with politicos in order to push for controversial and unpopular policies urgently needed by our Philippine economy.

Although I detest many of our morally and intellectually sub-standard politicos, I enjoy studying politics and admire great politicians like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Deng Xiaoping, Lee Kuan Yew and Chiang Ching Kuo, who all dared defy populist politics in order to champion policies beneficial for their societies.

What are numerous policies which are not popular, but which I believe are necessary for sustaining Philippine economic development? These reform proposals are in addition to the numerous new policies I advocated in an earlier column:

• Make corruption by government, political, military and police officials, or even private sector business or finance leaders, the high crime of economic sabotage and punishable in the harshest manner.

• Scrap the existing, impractical and failed Agrarian Reform Program, replacing it with a totally new, just and market-oriented program that will finally liberate our dormant, unproductive and backward agricultural sector from obsolescence.

• Ban all private ownership of guns nationwide, following the example of the People’s Republic of China, with the goal of preventing private armies, wealthy hoodlums flaunting firearms and the ominous spread of criminality.

• Overhaul the existing lopsided election system, especially regarding election finances, in order to institute a Western-inspired system whereby qualified and legitimate candidates can receive partial state subsidy in campaign funds, to prevent only popular but mindless movie stars or obscenely wealthy illegal gambling lords from mounting election bids.

• Totally overhaul our present, scandalously inefficient educational system.

• Drastically reform our essentially anti-labor labor laws. We should allow employers the flexibility to terminate any employees without having to justify reasons but with fair compensation commensurate to the number of years he or she worked in that firm; this progressive labor policy will be similar to that of the USA, unlike our present communist-inspired labor laws whereby employees can even sue employers all the way to the Supreme Court, thus discouraging foreign or local investors from hiring more people for long-term (instead of just contractual) jobs.

• Ban smoking in all public places and from mass media advertisements, a trend implemented in Hong Kong, France and other progressive societies.

• Forbid religious sects, churches or other groups from unethically and shamelessly meddling in politics or campaigning for candidates when no big moral or spiritual issues are at stake, unless they are willing to give up their tax-exempt status.

• Instead of requiring only a drug test for all election candidates, require a psychiatric and minimum-educational-standards exam for all candidates to prevent pathological liars, psychos and imbeciles from defiling public office.

• Scrap the scandalous pork barrel and replace it with a more efficient and transparent alternative system for the delivery of public works and social services. I believe our elected congressmen and senators should be lawmakers, not moneymakers!


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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