TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, MAY 26, 2010 (PHNO) Culled by Lee Quesada: - Our country, the Philippines, now for decades have been corrupt of its beauty and purity by declining and decadent rulers of government. And now here we are. With a brand new President and where are we going? Philippine president apparent, Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III pledged a 'would-be lean, graft-free Cabinet, to travel overseas less, investigate corruption and renew peace talks on ending decades long insurgencies'. Sounding all very politically cliché. Therefore, hard to grasp this election promises. The elections are done. We have conceded. We have accepted Noynoy as our next President. We know his win meant one important thing, that democracy is alive in the Philippines. How he, as our new leader, can make this democracy work to lessen the corruption and uplift the lives of the poor and totally innovate our educational system so our students, the youth of our country will excel and have better lives in their new world of advanced technology and competitive global economy, the 21st Century global community.... is and will be the same unanswered question. No one ever before and in the last decades have seriously tried. Gloria Arroyo tried a little and failed big time in the longest 9-years of her reign. We hope and pray, this time the Philippines will be enabled to move, move forward to its full potential as a bright and democratic country within the global community, with Noynoy in the helm. We give him 6 years and so we will wait and see.  And we continue to hope steadfastly and pray! 


Sunday, 23 May 2010 00:00 AddThis Social Bookmark Button - By Darwin G. Amojelar Senior Reporter

FILIPINOS as a whole expect our new president to govern in such a way that more jobs are created and the poor members of society are lifted from their condition. They expect Mr. Noynoy Aquino to make his administration corruption-free and his campaign slogan “Kung walang kurapsyon, walang mahirap” (No corruption, no poverty) a reality.

That is also what people in the business sector want. But surely excepting those whose business model is the one that has prevailed for decades—have connections who can rig the bidding process and make huge profits that you share with government officials.

The ethically upright businessmen are looking forward to the creation as a result of the new president’s policies of a highly competitive and business friendly environment.

Economists know the new President will face large unemployment and underemployment numbers, deepening poverty, a difficult-to-expunge culture of corruption and culture of bad governance, and very poor infrastructure which is the cause of minimal business activity in the poorest provinces.

“People will expect the new President to reverse the neglect in education, health and public infrastructure. People will be expecting an open, transparent and effective government that will make a difference in their lives,” Benjamin Diokno, budget secretary during the Estrada administration and an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, told The Manila Times.

Unemployment, underemployment

During the last nine years, the number of unemployed and underemployed has increased, and the number of poor people has expanded.

The National Statistical Coordination Board reports that poverty incidence in the Philippines stood at 26.9 percent in 2006, higher than the 24.4-percent figure in 2003. Statistics released by the Arroyo administration show a rosier picture. But these are likely owing to redefinitions of the terms “employed” and “poverty.”

Unemployment as of January 2010 reached 2.8 million, according to the National Statistics Office.

Worsened government finances

At the same time, Diokno added that the government finances have worsened. Public debt soared from P2.5 trillion to P4.5 trillion.

The next president would also inherit from President Gloria Arroyo a more fragile fiscal house characterized by large deficits and a sputtering tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio.

The country’s tax-to-GDP ratio has worsened, now down to a little above 12 percent.

“This means that under an unchanged scenario, Filipinos would pay higher taxes or receive less public services in the future,” Diokno said.

Diokno said that the “structure of the economy has not changed significantly” under the Arroyo administration, adding that the services sector dominates the economy.

We cannot rely only on BPOs

Ma. Lourdes Sereno, AIM Policy Center executive director agreed, saying that “The Philippines cannot rely alone on BPO [business process outsourcing].”

Given this unhealthy situation, the new president should prioritize infrastructure-building and—improvement, spend on these which also creates lots of jobs, to arrest the flight of manufacturers to the Philippines’ neighboring countries whose infrastructure conditions are better for their businesses.

“Infrastructure continuous to lag so poorly. We have to reverse this lag. The business sector is so concerned with the relocation decision of many of our manufacturing firms,” Sereno said, adding that the relocation of manufacturing firms could lead to a reduction of quality employment in the country. These manufacturing firms are mainly foreign direct investment projects.

The AIM executive said the next administration should focus on energy and transportation infrastructure. “The power [sector] is so negatively perceived. The perception of businessmen is that the government cannot even assure that there will be energy in the future. Power in the Philippines is not only costly. It’s also not reliable,” Sereno said.

Good governance, improving competitiveness

Donald Dee, vice chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the new government should focus on good governance, improving the country’s competitiveness, eradicating poverty and providing more jobs.

Based on this year’s World Competitiveness Yearbook, the country performed badly in terms of infrastructure, ranking 56th out of 58 countries surveyed.

By subindex, the country’s technological, scientific, and human resources infrastructure ranked 56th; health and environment, 48th; and technological infrastructure, 29th.

Overall, the Philippines ranked 39th out of 58 countries in this year’s World Competitiveness Yearbook with a score of 56.526, up from 43rd last year.

The Philippines lagged behind neighbors such as Singapore, which ranked first; Malaysia, 10th; Indonesia, 26th; and Thailand, 35th.

To improve the Philippines’ competitiveness ranking, Dee said the next government must show strong political will, and promote a level playing field.

The incoming president, Dee said, should also “apply the rule of law and restore faith in public institutions; ensure food and energy security; plan for natural disasters and climate change; provide entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs, skills training and education in the countryside; and address migration into cities and configure urban areas appropriately.”

Higher and more inclusive growth

Former Budget Secretary Diokno also recommended that the incoming president should commit to higher, more sustained and inclusive growth of about 6 percent to 7 percent from 2011 to 2016.

Government data shows that the country has averaged 5 percent annual GDP growth between 2002 and 2006.

Because of the global economic and financial meltdown, in 2009, Philippine GDP grew by only 0.9 percent, or at the low end of the official target range of 0.8 percent to 1.8 percent, making last year’s growth the weakest since 1998.

He also recommended that agriculture production be modernized in order to ensure low food prices and to create a lot of jobs.

The provision of education and health services has to be prioritized in order to give the poor an opportunity for gainful employment, Diokno said.

“The government should spend at least 5 percent of the budget for well-chosen, socially profitable public infrastructure; this will help achieve the strong, sustained and inclusive economic growth and will create a lot of jobs for the unemployed Filipinos,” Diokno added.

Transparency in tax and spending policies

On the fiscal situation, Diokno said there is greater need for openness in its taxing and spending policy. “Public spending should be subject to sunlight. Tax burden should be clear. There has to be greater transparency in showing who are the beneficiaries of some government programs,” he said.

Diokno added that the government should improve significantly its records on control of corruption, political stability, rule of law, and government effectiveness in order to improve the economic environment for investment.

These are all problems that every Philippine since the start of the post World War II Philippine Republic has faced.

But the future President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd simply has to achieve all these things all past presidents failed to do. This is because we are at a critical juncture in our regional and in the global economy.

If we continue being the way we are in the next six years under our new president, we will become worse and worse and become the pitiful basket case of Association of Southeast Asian Nations.


The friends of Max Soliven have chosen Gibo!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star Columnist) Updated April 28, 2010 12:00 AM

I was in Manila last weekend for the graduation of my daughter Katrina from the International School for Culinary & Hotel Management (ISCHAM) at the Palms in Ayala Alabang. When he knew I was coming over, my good friend Erik Espina (the son of former Cebu Governor and Senator Rene Espina), columnist of the Manila Bulletin, took advantage of my being in Manila to have me as guest of his TV show dubbed “Republika” on Destiny Cable, which was shown last Friday evening. This was my third TV interview in Metro Manila in just a span of ten days.

If there is something I’m learning about these elections it is that a lot of people have become so confused partly because even the mainstream media, both in print and on TV, are supporting one candidate and considered biased. It reminds me of the Presidential elections in 1986, when the people could no longer rely on the mainstream media because they were owned by Marcos cronies. Hence the so-called mosquito media sprouted as they came up with a more credible reportorial of the news events as they unfolded.

However thank God that today we have the Internet or text messaging where reports that often cannot see print or reported on TV are being peddled to the general public. I submit that too often, we have to make sure that these reports are verifiable. This is why when stories about the mental health of Liberal Party (LP) bet Noynoy Aquino came out, we refrained from writing about it… as it was difficult to verify. But then, The STAR’s Carmen Pedrosa came up last Saturday with that article that after all, “It was Ninoy who sought psychiatric help for Noynoy.” How I wish that all this was a cruel joke!

But this should bring us to the question whether or not all the Presidentiables should be made to take a series of tests, from drug testing to psychiatric evaluation? This was one of the questions that Erik Espina asked me and I pointed out that if the Land Transportation Office (LTO) requires drivers to take a drug test so we can drive around the country… how much more for our heads of state who would steer this nation either to prosperity or to further decline? If I had my way, I’d say there is still time for this test.

Meanwhile as we go towards the last kilometer stretch in this Presidential race, I encountered a lot of people who are still undecided. A lot of taxi drivers would tell me that they were once either for Erap, Noynoy or Villar… but because of too much mudslinging they don’t know whom they should be voting for. In fact, a lot of my readers have also emailed me asking me the question, if Sir Max Soliven were alive today, who would he be choosing as our next President? The only way for me to find this out was to ask his old close friends or barkada who are still in close contact with each other.

Call it an uncanny coincidence or even divine providence that while I was staying at the fabulous Bellevue Hotel (courtesy of my good friend Hotelier Arthur Lopez), Sir Arthur called me to join the old core group of Sir Max Soliven for dinner at the Alabang residence of Sir Babes Romualdez which was a mere five minutes away from the Bellevue Hotel.

Of course, we talked a lot about politics over wine and Kobe beef and I asked each one of them whether they have decided which candidate they would choose and it was unanimous… they have declared their support for Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. Then I asked them that if Sir Max were alive today, would he agree with them on their choice? The answer was a resounding “Yes!” and they gave me the go-signal to spread this information.

I can vouch for this because since the 1992 elections, Sir Max and our group would always analyze each single Presidentiable and we would come up with a consensus as to who was the better man or woman to take over Malacanang. A case in point was when we chose Fidel V. Ramos against House Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr. and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. We were right on the nail as FVR became President. The only time I differed with Sir Max was when he was for Erap in the 1998 elections, while I had to support our fellow Cebuano Lito Osmeña. But I knew Erap would win that race!

In the 2004 elections, again we went on a consensus choosing between then survey leader Sen. Raul Roco, Sen. Ping Lacson (who was then the choice of Sir Max early in the race) and Fernando Poe Jr. Well, we analyzed all the facts and we supported Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and she won despite the fact that both SWS & Pulse Asia predicted her loss.

Back to the taxi drivers, I asked them what qualities they liked about Gibo and I got the same reply… that Gibo earned their respect as he refuses to engage in mudslinging, which the other Presidentiables have been doing. Hence they believe that a Gibo Presidency can heal our land faster than those Presidentiables who have thrown mud and hate at each other.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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