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Monday, July 29, 2013

Has Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada changed for the better?

July 27, 2013
by benign0
It seemed like an eternity ago that Joseph “Erap” Estrada was a whipping boy of the Philippines’ chattering classses. The late Teddy Benigno summed up the pickle — what he called “Our Crisis” — Filipino voters had gotten themselves into when they voted Erap to the presidency in 1998…
As many of us in the intelligentsia had anticipated, the Estrada presidency was not only a disaster. The nation’s locomotive that was going forward went into reverse under an administration — the mounting evidence shows that now — that disgraced the seal of the Republic, wining, dining, gambling and womanizing, looting and again looting the public till until the economy faltered, staggered and began to fall, a besotted drunk with a bottle in each hand, about to crumple and vomit into the hay.
erap_estrada
And in the aftermath of the 2001 “Edsa Dos” circus that resulted in the illegal ouster of Erap and the ascent to power of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I wrote

…we should pause to think about what being ‘free’ means to us. If to us it means being able to turn our elections into beauty pageants and variety shows then the Filipino people’s concept of freedom is severely flawed. Erap had demonstrated the damage that could be wrought by completely unleashing the mandate of the Filipino masses in their present state of education and breeding. One only needs to count the number of showbiz personalities seeking public office in the next elections to ascertain if any lessons have indeed been learned from the Erap era.
We were willing to overlook the fact that Erap kept concubines, loved to drink and gamble, and, plain and simple, was intellectually-challenged, although he already exhibited the effects of these traits early in his presidency. Later into his administration, many Filipinos criticised Erap because his brand of corruption was ‘harapan’ — roughly translated, ‘in your face’. What exactly does this imply? That we are willing to tolerate criminality and incompetence as long as they are undertaken discretely (with ‘delicadeza’ or ‘hiya’)?
It is in fact, no coincidence that an ideology developed and successfully implemented in the West should require qualities of its practitioners that happen to be inherent to European cultures. We chose to put our faith in a system of governance that is inherently western and therefore should strive to adopt such western qualities that make a democracy work. There is, however, no need to abandon our Asian values and completely embrace Western values. All it takes is a mere appreciation of the qualities of Western culture that were key to their successes. We’d like to emphasise again that education is key. Access to education is not the issue (we still have one of the highest literacy rates in Asia). It is our approach to education that will be the critical success factor ‘ more emphasis on analysis and debate in contrast with our style of static instruction and rote memorisation.
Indeed, though it was the fashion statement of the day to pat one another’s backs for the seeing through the second incarnation of the then favourite Filipino political pastime of the 00′s, many in the international community weren’t really that amused about seeing another Edsa “revolution” in the Philippines. An article published in The New York Times back in 2001, encapsulated this outsiders’ perspective…
The man they overthrew, Joseph Estrada, was a democratically elected president half way through his six-year term. The popular uprising took place when it became clear that due process — his impeachment trial in the Senate — would not produce the result many people hoped for: his removal by constitutional means. The turning point came when the armed forces chief informed Mr. Estrada that the military was “withdrawing its support.”
The legal rationale for his removal was a last-minute Supreme Court ruling that “the welfare of the people is the supreme law,” in effect stripping Mr. Estrada of any legitimacy.
Filipinos were thrilled at the peaceful ouster of a president who had become an embarrassment — a lazy, hard-drinking womanizer who had allowed the economy to collapse and had, according to testimony in the Senate, engaged in systematic corruption.
But if they expected cheers once again from around the world, they were instead hurt and infuriated when People Power II was met with doubt and criticism, described by foreign commentators as “a defeat for due process,” as “mob rule,” as “a de facto coup.”
It was seen as an elitist backlash against a president who had overwhelmingly been elected by the poor. This time, it appears, “people power” was used not to restore democracy but, momentarily, to supplant it. Filipinos seemed to prefer democracy by fiesta, still shying from the hard work of building institutions and reforming their corrupt political system.
Lucky for us, the idiotic romanticism spun by the ABS-CBN media empire that addicted an entire generation of Filipinos to poetic street “revolution” rhetoric for more than two decades after the original 1986 “people power” “revolution” has since staled. Today, one would be hard-pressed to find any of the same sort of moronic inclination to “hit the streets” that pervaded much of the national “debate” in the 00s. But if there is a more important thing to be learned about Filipinos in the years since 2001 it is this: it is quite clear that their choice of Erap as their president back in 1998 was not accidental. Indeed, Erap came close to winning the presidency once again in 2010, coming in a close second to current President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III. Then he made a bid for the mayorship of the Philippine capital in 2013 and got it.
So now that Erap is back as Mayor of Manila, the question in everyone’s mind is this:
Has Erap changed for the better?
If the first of the things he’s done over the first few weeks of his term in office is to be used as a basis to make an assessment, things look promising. Erap’s recent and decisive order to ban provincial buses from Manila’s streets delivered results and was widely-lauded by the public even as the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reportedly “encouraged bus owners to bring to court their protest” against the controversial ordinance. Indeed, many have speculated that part of the impact of the campaign versus provincial buses in the city could be on the pockets of LTFRB officials on the “payroll” of these bus operators, which could explain the source of the LTFRB’s chagrin.
Of course, it is obviously too early to tell how strong an indicator this recent exhibition of decisiveness is of Erap’s resolve to redeem himself now that he’s been given a renewed shot at political power.
Only time will tell. As always…
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
[Photo courtesy Philippines Today.]

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Intellectual Revolution: The Necessity of the Thinkers and the Revolutionary Minds

July 25, 2013
by Jose Mario de Vega
This humble paper is an affirmative response to the lucid and scholarly essay of Ms. Natalie Shobana Ambrose’s “Empowering our thinkers”, The Sun Daily, July 12th.
illustrado
Though I overwhelmingly concur to her general proposition, I beg the indulgence of the reader that I may be allowed to adumbrate and elaborate on the various theses that she laid down.

Indeed, “throughout history, the most dangerous people to any regime have not been the thugs, thieves or murderers but rather the thinkers and the intellectuals. For centuries governments have crafted laws limiting the opinions and vetoing findings of studies from being publicised or rubbishing theories that do not fit with their agenda. So much so modern academics find that they constantly self-censor or thread far away from what is deemed sensitive or controversial subjects as a form of self-preservation and survival.”
Said dangerous people, namely the thinkers, the intellectuals, the iconoclasts, the mavericks and independent observer has always been the irritating thorn to any regime, especially a state that is perceived to be unjust, unfair and perverted.
More often than not, said regime’s program to neutralize these individuals is to either eliminate them or silence them by sending them to the dungeon or by banishing them altogether from the territory of the said country.
Another vicious method being resorted into by these kinds of regimes is to enact laws that stifle, delimit, impede and denounce the unorthodox opinions of the said intellectuals.
Added to this is the Macheviallian act of the said regimes of harassing, questioning and denying the very position of these intellectuals whose radical views do not subscribe or follows the “official” program of the state.
These evil regimes also forced the thinkers and the independent observers to conform to the state-sanctioned policy.
Some, gave in due to pressure, hence instead of pursuing their research and project up to its conclusion; they engage in an internal conflicting act of censoring themselves, editing their work, doctoring their data, altering their findings and worst, some even decides not to proceed with their endeavor at all.
The reason is plain and simple: they have to engage in all these preposterous and ridiculous means for purposes of self-preservation and survival.
This is a shame!
As the writer contended:
“This missing voice is a great tell-tale of how authoritarian a government is and how much or little such talent is valued in the society. We see this throughout the world – talented academics who would rather bypass the red tape of taking on local issues as study topics instead embark on ground-breaking research in other lands so as to not rock the boat back home.
“Malaysia has not been spared in this respect. Not only have we lost bright stars to other lands by limiting the very essence of their work, we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods.
“Malaysia is going through fascinating transformation both socially and politically. In the last 10 years, the change has been profound. Yet so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony, and the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet. We have to ask the question why.”
Comment:
By reason of fear and reprisal, persecution and state violence, some scholars, instead of embarking on ground-breaking enterprise and earth-shaking endeavor would rather avoid the great possibility of offending the powers that be and instead leave their country of origin and hesitantly exile themselves to other lands that is more tolerant and appreciative of their talents, potentialities and bright ideas.
This is a tremendous lose to the native land of the said researcher and a big goldmine to the adopted country.
Why?
This is a clear case of brain drain to the country of origin and as already noted; a gold mine to the new country or sanctuary.
The one that will benefit from the product of the intellectual labor and academic insights of the said scholar will not be his/her own native country but the nation that is presently adopting the said researcher.
This is not a new phenomenon, when Socrates was condemned to death unjustly by the stupid mob, his student Plato cannot bear the thought to stay in the city that killed his teacher so he decided to leave Greece for a while.
The same is true of Aristotle, when his student Alexander the Great dies, he also decided to leave Athens, saying thus that his act of leaving is his way of “saving the Athenians from sinning twice against Philosophy.”
The writer’s question is totally in point: why is it that despite the fact that Malaysia is going through a fascinating transformation both socially and politically in the last 10 years wherein the changes has been so rapid and utterly profound; ironically so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony and why the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet?
This is irony of all ironies, indeed!
It is beyond dispute that it is the author herself that squarely answered her own query.
Undeniably, the local bright stars are leaving the country due to the lack of equal opportunity, unfair policy, unjust government selection program, social injustice and the stupid conception of the state of affirmative action.
Added to these list of grievances and complaints is the irrefutable fact that “we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods.”
This is a shame!
Again, we return to the perennial social evils of the problem, namely: the act of the state in belittling, mocking, irritating, questioning, and harassing the thinkers through fear, bureaucratic brouhaha and economic blackmail.
Not added to this is the state’s act of political persecution such as dismissing the academic from the university or college, suing the said lecturer, teachers or professor and engaging in a character assassination of the said intellectual by using the vast powers of the government to disrepute the integrity of the thinker and put into doubt the product of his/her labor and scholarly work, when the only fault of the said academic is that his or her work is critical of the government or run counter to “the official line” being promoted by the state.
For those who decided to stay and confront bravely the perverted system of corruption, they must also face the full wrath of whole state machinery.
This is precisely the reasons why the thinkers and intellectuals had not taken advantage of this hotbed of potential study topics and areas of possible research.
Imagine an academic that will write a thesis which title is: How could the BN form the government when they are only voted 49% of the population?
Will the government accept that kind of research?
And what do you think will happen to those intellectuals who had undertaken the said studies? How are they going to be treated?
The answer is: either they are dismissed from their posts, or their contract will not be renewed or perhaps they will see themselves at the dock appearing before a court answering some silly and flimsy charges or their books will be ordered to be banned or they may die accidentally or they may disappear mysteriously or they may struggle economically to find some sponsor or funding that will going to support their work.
I concur with the writer that the problem I feel lies in space. The exact term being use in political science is the so-called “democratic space”.
Again, the bold questions posited by the writer are highly in point:
Is there a space where people are empowered to provide evidence-based critique?
Comment:
Yes, there is a certain degree of “space”, but here’s the caveat: be ready and be willing to face the repercussions and consequences of your intellectual actions.
A true thinker and a genuine intellectual that proceeded to present an unorthodox work to the public must be ready and utterly prepare to hear the following idiotic and preposterous charges:
  1. “if you don’t like it here, leave!”
  2. “go back to where you came from”
  3. “what more do you want, ingrate?”
All of these are the price that an intellectual and a scholar have to pay and confront bravely in order to his or her quest of pursuing the truth and consequently spreading his or her ideas and thoughts to the public and the world!
“It seems far easier for a foreigner to write a book, article, thesis on Malaysian issues than it would be for a local. If we don’t agree with their findings – we can rubbish it as not correctly understanding Malaysia since they are an outsider. Of course the other argument is that Malaysians are too emotionally embroiled to carry out such studies. Perhaps there is some truth to it but that is not a good enough reason to leave a gaping hole in research work by local thinkers.”
Comment:
On the Question of Empowering the Intelligentsia?
The great Russian novelist, Maxim Gorky said that the existence of the intellectuals is necessary in any form of society.
In my view, an intellectual has no nationality, because genius is universal. Nonetheless, I concur with the author that a community must produce its own thinkers and intellectuals before the world claim him or her.
Therefore, the Malaysian academic must rise above their “emotional embroidery” and carry out their studies — against all odds and regardless of the adverse consequences — whatever they may be.
To quote the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”
The Role of the Intellectuals
Professor Noam Chomsky said that “it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”
To quote from my article:
What is an intellectual?
According to Wikipedia, an intellectual is: a person who uses thought and reason, intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning, in either a professional or a personal capacity and is:
1. a person involved in, and with, abstract, erudite ideas and theories;
2. a person whose profession (e.g. philosophy, literary criticism, sociology, law, political analysis, theoretical science, etc.) solely involves the production and dissemination of ideas, and
3. a person of notable cultural and artistic expertise whose knowledge grants him or her intellectual authority in public discourse.
Based these definition, an intellectual is a person or an individual who is involved or is engaged in creating erudite ideas (whether abstract or not) and making some theories.
The primordial duty of the intellectual is to disseminate ideas. He or she is of notable culture and held some artistic expertise which standing gives him/her a sense of intellectual authority in public discourse.
Who are the intellectuals?
There is no iota of doubt that the intellectuals are the philosophers, the teachers, the writers, the poets, the artists and the like!
The French existentialist philosopher and Marxist revolutionary, Jean Paul Sartre pronounced that the intellectuals are the moral conscience of their age. He passionately believed as he himself lived his life the way he wrote and taught that: the task of the intellectuals is not limited by merely observing the political and social situation of the moment, but undeniably to be involved and engaged actively in all of society’s issues and concerns. Finally, he also maintained that part and parcel of the duty of an intellectual is to serve as a voice of the marginalized, the oppressed, the idiots, the exploited, the lowest members of the society and indeed to speak out—freely—in accordance with their consciences.
Professor Noam Chomsky, like Sartre also subscribes to the belief that a true intellectual must not be silenced nor cowed. They must always stand for the truth and condemn all the injustices and inequalities in the world.
Hence, on this ground, an intellectual is not only a member of his/her community, but a citizen of the world. This is in conformity with Professor Foucault’s concept of the universal intellectual!
Are they necessary for one society?
Answer:
Yes, indeed! The intellectuals are truly necessary and indeed important in one society or political community. Their ultimate function is to serve as the critic of their society’s malaise. It is not an exaggeration to state that the intellectuals are precisely the eyes and soul of the community. (“The Significance of Social Sciences in Education, the University and the making of the Intellectuals”, Etniko Bandido Infoshop, May 5, 2012; “Creating students of substance and character”, February 3, 2013, The Star)
I completely concur with the author that “for a Malaysian though, embarking on potential research topics within the range of race relations, governance, electoral process, human rights, security, migration history and the likes is best left untouched. The retribution is not worth the contribution to the academic discourse – and this happens in a country where we enjoy “democratic comforts”.
The writer then listed her suggestions and what she perceived is the antidote the pressing problem that she saw in the Malaysian society and its academe.
“Malaysian intelligentsia needs to be empowered – both from the inside and out. How though?
“First, our universities, research institutes and think-tanks should be given the mandate to be neutral – not just on paper but also in accepting and engaging in research and study findings that are pertinent to today’s Malaysia, even if it makes the politicians uncomfortable. Of course this should be done within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based.”
Comment:
Indeed, universities, research institutes and various think-tank academic groups must be given mandate, not simply for purposes of neutrality, but most importantly for objectivity.
Our duty is to let the university as free as possible to discharge its social function of creating intellectuals who are critical thinkers that will lead to their being civic-minded and responsible citizens.
The quest to unravel the varied and complicated truths of the social dynamics of one’s society demands that said institution are not shackled by bureaucratic intervention and governmental reprisal.
The universities must be given their independence and autonomy to conduct their own independent research and academic undertaking without thinking of whether the result of their project will please the powers that be or not.
Definitely, the said venture must be done “within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based”. Besides being transparent and evidence-based, said endeavor must also be daring and courageous to make public the product of the said work — whatever its findings are.
“Information should be readily available and funding provided with no swaying strings of political positioning attached. This of course is the ideal, perhaps then we should first, start with undoing the politicisation of administrative posts if genuine change is to happen. Also there needs to be a paradigm shift that thinkers are not traitors but rather people who can contribute knowledge to informed decision making. It is also important for thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias, reducing the gap between the different levels of society.”
Comment:
Let me highlight the various problems listed by the author, namely:
  1. the inaccessibility of the information;
  2. said information is inaccessible because of lack or deficient funding;
  3. lack or deficient funding due to political machinations and attachment of political positioning;
  4. the politicization of administrative posts;
  5. the tendency for the thinkers to be tagged or called or be accused of being traitors; and,
  6. the necessity for the thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias.
In fairness to Malaysia, these problems or dilemmas or imbroglios and conflicts are not exclusive to them! Universally, intellectuals have face and confronted all or some of these issues, yet they are not a reason and they are not an excuse for the intellectuals to abandon their duty and betray the people’s trust!
The author is correct for demanding a paradigm shift to the powers that be for them to change their view of thinkers.
However, despite the existence of all these problems and challenges that a thinker and/or an intellectual must confront, he or she must resigned to the fact and be prepared that he or she may be tagged or called or be accused of being a traitor, radical, a danger, a menace, etc.
That is the price one has to pay for being an intellectual.
“Second, the public should demand for such high standards in academics and thinkers, only then will our intellectual movement be reliable and powerful enough to support reforms in a peaceful manner. Such public support is important for an intellectual revolution to take place.”
Comment:
I agree that the public should demand for a high standard in academics and thinkers, yet the process should not end there. The intellectuals, the academics and the thinkers themselves must also demand recognition, support and solidarity from the public.
The duty of the intellectual is to study his or her society and everything about it, then craft it into a public discourse for the public’s consumption for their eventual acquisition of higher knowledge, which the thinker hope will lead to the development of the political consciousness and maturity of the people as a whole and all these in the end, if we combine will make the people and the general public responsible citizens, not only of their community, but of the whole world.
The obligation of the public is to listen to the intellectuals and the thinkers with regard to the latter’s view of their society. Besides listening, the people must also act upon the suggestions, studies and programs laid down by the intellectuals.
The intellectuals are researching and studying for their society and the people must study and act accordingly on the said social research to further enhance the validity, accuracy and veracity of these social realities.
The creation of a just society is not only the function of the thinkers; the people themselves must also contribute to attain the said goal.
The intellectual and the masses must forge a dialectical and symbiotic relationship! Undeniably the former serves as the social vital element, while the latter acts as the instrument of the social nucleus!
Why? The intellectual or thinker is nothing without the people and the people will not develop maturity and consciousness that would utterly be necessary in order for them to cultivate their civic-mindedness, sense of community and responsible citizenship (both locally and globally) and corollary to this, the people themselves will be powerless without the helping hand and enlightened guidance of their thinkers, academics and intellectuals!
In theoretical terms, the intellectuals and the masses are theory and practice. They must unite to form a single collective whole! It is only on this way that an intellectual revolution shall ensue!
“Third, the intelligentsia themselves need to restore the confidence that the academic world is untouched by political rhetoric and not governed by fear. Start by reinstating critical discourse and continue by measuring your worth not in local currency but of international standards. Allow students to be involved in substantive debate and empower the younger generation with academic freedom – start within the confines of your own classroom.”
Comment:
One way to restore the confidence of the intelligentsia to the academe is for the government to allow more universities to be independent and autonomous.
The court’s ruling on the Universities Act is a welcome development, but still a lot more is needed to be done.
As I’ve stated then in my article:
I APPLAUD the ramifications of the decision by the Court of Appeal in upholding freedom of expression.
Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 restricts students from “expressing support or opposing any political party”.
The court said this provision was in direct contravention of the Federal Constitution, by virtue of the fact that it violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
Justice Hishamuddin Yunus said he “failed to see how a student who expressed support for or against a political party could bring about an adverse effect on public order or morality”.
I think he said it well.
If we were to limit the sociopolitical exposure of our young to prevailing conditions and social milieu, we would be doing them a disservice.
Instead of creating critical-minded and civic-oriented citizens, who are responsible, bold, dynamic and proactive, we are moulding apathetic, lazy and passive people, who by virtue of their inadequacy and being puerile, cannot contribute to society.
Universities should be the breeding grounds for reformers and thinkers, and not an institution to produce students trained as robots.
A true democratic society is not afraid to allow its citizens to enjoy and exercise their rights to the maximum, so long as the citizens themselves use those said rights intelligently and responsibly.
Universities gear students to become independent and critical-thinkers so that they can become responsible members of society and cosmopolitan citizens of the world. (“Universities and University Colleges Act: Breeding grounds for reformers”, The New Straits Times, November 9, 2011)
It is my firm and ardent view that a great way to reinstate critical discourse in the university is to offer compulsory the subject of Philosophy and other Humanities subjects to all our college and university students nation-wide.
My core suggestion to the Malaysian educators and policy makers is for them to support and encourage the Liberal Arts programme.
Why? What is the importance of this subject/programme for the advancement of critical public discourse?
As I said then in one article:
THERE is no doubt that the subjects of Liberal Arts education, such as Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Sociology, Anthropology, etc, – the Humanities as a whole – is the branch of knowledge that specifically deals with the study of what makes us human.
Hence, the value and importance of a Liberal Arts education.
In the words of Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University: “Liberal learning introduces them to books and music, the science and philosophy that form disciplined yet creative habits of mind that are not reducible to the material circumstances of one’s life (though they may depend on those circumstances)… The habits of mind developed in a liberal arts context often result in combinations of focus and flexibility that make for intelligent, and sometimes courageous risk-taking for critical assessment for those risks.” A Liberal Arts’ education is the source of critical thinking. Critical thinking is the capacity to think independently beyond the ordinary conception of prevailing reality.
Its mind is reason; while its heart is humanism. The precise utilisation of critical thinking will undeniably lead our students to the joys of critical analysis which in turn will certainly give them the philosophical tools necessary and pertinent for the conscious and bold exercise of complex insights.
In the words of Chris Hedges, “The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralised authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience.
There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think.”
It is in this exact sense that I overwhelmingly subscribe to the contention advanced by Professor Azhari-Karim of Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang (“Arts on the losing end” – NST, May 9).
He said, “One way is to teach Philosophy once again. This subject has been long absent from the curriculum for undergraduates. The idea is to refocus attention on the Arts and Sciences as being in the very rubric of knowledge and re-emphasise the philosophy of knowledge as a starting point for all academic pursuits.” This is in conformity with the argument of Ganesan Odayappen (“Education is beyond race and politics” – NST, May 2,) of Kuala Lumpur who said in his letter: “When we talk about educating a nation, we must understand clearly what it means, how it is going to be achieved and its objectives.
A nation which is striving to be a developed one needs tremendous human intellect and knowledge.” A Liberal Arts education is absolutely necessary for the continuous progression and development of a country. There is no shadow of doubt that this type of education, which centres on humanism and universal reason, is truly beyond race, politics, religion, sex, gender, cultural background and other discriminatory categories.
Humanism is the study of being a good man in the truest sense of the word; while the central aim of a Liberal Arts education is to further cultivate and harness the humanity of Man’s humanism. (“Nurturing Critical Thinking”, The New Straits Times, May 11, 2011)
“Most importantly, do not hide behind the protection of the Chatham House Rule (When a meeting, or par thereof, is held under the rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.) – use it sparingly so that your work is exposed for the betterment of the country.”
Comment:
I would like just to add that a true academic and intellectual is a brave soul. He or she must not be afraid to pursue the ultimate conclusion of his or her studies and projects and he or she must be prepared to be mock, ridicule, antagonize and even ostracize.
The same thing happened to Einstein, Galileo, Tesla, etc. they were isolated, persecuted, hounded, mocked, etc., but where are they now? Hence, just be brave and carry on with your studies.
The intellectual is like the individual which Friedrich Nietzsche said “has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
“It’s a long road ahead yet one that is vital and necessary in our democratic process. Malaysia in this instance pales in comparison with the vocal scholarly voices in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It’s time we studied ourselves, our communities, our societies, our politics, our beliefs, our history and our democracy without fear – who better than someone with local knowledge, who better than a Malaysian?”
Commentaries:
Yes, it may be a long road ahead for the Malaysian academia, yet to paraphrase a Chinese saying: the first great step on a long journey begun with the first step itself.
The March of Reason must continue at all cost

Jose Mario de Vega

The writer has a Master's degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. He is currently a lecturer at the College of Arts, Department of Philosophy at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. As of the moment, he is preparing to publish his first book entitled "Dissidente". It is a collection of his articles, commentaries and op-ed published by various newspapers in Southeast Asia.

Erap’s ban on provincial buses reportedly lauded as first step to decongesting Metro Manila

July 25, 2013
by benign0
Newly-minted Manila mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada comes up with a quick winto solve Manila’s traffic mess. Reportedly part of “a grand plan to ease traffic congestion in the capital”, a new council resolution implemented by Erap’s city government bans “the entry of provincial and metro buses without private terminals in the city”.
The City Council passed Resolution No. 48 on July 16 to regulate the entry of city and provincial buses, allowing only those with existing private terminals in Manila. Buses coming from south via Taft Avenue must turn right to Vito Cruz while those coming from San Juan must turn left to Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard.
Buses from Osmeña Highway should turn right to Quirino Avenue then turn around at Plaza Dilao Rotonda back to Osmeña. Buses coming from north of Manila should turn around from A. Bonifacio left to Aurora Boulevard, left Dimasalang Street onward to A. Bonifacio, with loading and unloading zone along Aurora Boulevard corner Elias Street.
Buses that are allowed to enter the city are not allowed to pick up and unload passengers along any street, except at their respective terminals.
Manila's Taft Avenue at 8am Wednesday
Manila’s Taft Avenue at 8am Wednesday
Of course this is really just an isolated solution for the overall traffic mess that makes life across all of Metro Manila a living hell. While images of smoothly flowing traffic along major thoroughfares within Manila have been circulated over the last couple of days, measures put in place to stop the affected buses from entering Manila’s city limits have reportedly impacted traffic flow at major choke points…
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority traffic aides at the border of Manila and Quezon City said the buses targeted by the ban did not attempt to enter the city, radio dzBB’s Allan Gatus reported.
However, the report said the buses turning around upon reaching the Mabuhay Rotonda caused traffic to slow down slightly on Quezon Avenue, the report added.
…but it is anticipated that these measures started in Manila will eventually be extended to other jurisdictions within Metro Manila on the back of that “grand plan”. Three big transportation hubs are being set up at key Metro Manila entry points at its north and south fringes led by the recently-completed Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) at the Uniwide reclamation area in Parañaque City. The two others are “temporary” set ups at Quezon City’s Trinoma Mall to serve the metro’s north and at the Filinvest commercial area to serve the south.
According to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, the Manila bus ban implemented by Estrada complements the overall efforts to build traffic decongestion solutions around these hubs.
The SITT test run being conducted Thursday afternoon is meant to familiarize provincial bus operators and drivers with the new system, he said.
In earlier interviews, Tolentino said commuters disembarking at the SITT can take the other public utility vehicles at the terminal to continue their trip to the capital.
The MMDA chief spoke positively of the Manila ordinance even as it continued to pose inconveniences to commuters still adjusting to the ban and drew protests from affected bus operators.
Chaotic private buses single-handedly snarl EDSA traffic.
Chaotic private buses single-handedly snarl EDSA traffic.
Now uncharacteristically reconciliatory (woefully belated at that) are “bus groups” who are reportedly appealing for increased coordination between them and the government groups involved in implementing the changes. Metro Bus Transport Inc. spokesman Atty. Grace Adducul was quoted in a report saying, “Magkaroon lang po ng koordinasyon, magkaroon pa po ng further studies, ng adjustment… Baka pag nawala na yung mga illegal terminals, naiayos na yung sistema ng trapiko doon, natanggal na yung mga kotong cops, baka naman po ang mga legal na operasyon ng mga legal na bus operators, companies ay hindi na makacause ng traffic sa Maynila…” Translated: “If we could please have more coordination, more studies, and some adjustment. Perhaps if illegal terminals and corrupt cops are eliminated, the legal bus operators will no longer be the cause of traffic jams in Manila…”
There is little that these groups can do, it seems, as there is gathering public support for the new ordinances as reports of positive outcomes coming out of the media pour in. Privately-run public buses and jeepneys along with the “boundary” (commissions-based) system that incentivises anti-social behaviour in their drivers have long been seen to be a major cause of heavy traffic in Metro Manila.
But buses, because of their higher passenger moving capacity, remain the better alternative to the thousands of jeepneys that infest Manila’s streets. The key to their optimal use is in a better system of deploying these within a better-designed and highly-regulated routing system. Because no such system exists in Metro Manila, public utility buses and jeepneys compete for passengers in a laissez-faire manner that sees them jostling for a position at every stop and corner.
[Photos of Taft Avenue and buses clogging EDSA courtesy Joseph Ejercito Estrada Facebook Page and Boylit De Guzman respectively.]

The crying cop story and how Filipino society can break even the most stoic citizen

July 24, 2013
by FallenAngel
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III (BS Aquino) delivered the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to mark the opening of Congress for year 2013 last Monday, July 22. As much as the content of said address (all 102 minutes of it), what’s also being discussed by the chattering classes is what our politicians wore to the said event. Frankly, neither the unremarkable speech itself nor such blatant display of ostentation should be really surprising anymore; life goes on and our politicians remain the same, whether we’re aware of it or not.
Outside of the Batasan complex the riot police were deployed to keep any and all protesters at bay, and as far away as possible. And came the protesters did.
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Such stand-offs eventually degenerate into violent encounters, and this year was no exception. Amid the rock and truncheon throwing and crowd dispersal, photojournalist Rem Zamora described a sight he thought he’d never see in such a situation:
It was a long and tiring dispersal. People were injured. But amidst all of this, I saw a scenario which I thought I will never see during a dispersal.
A foreign protester was berating a policeman asking him why were the policemen hurting the people. Why were they pushing them. The officer simply stood ground and said he is a policeman it is their job to maintain peace and order. That they were given orders and they had to follow.
Suddenly the officer cried. The foreigner kept on shouting at this officer. He was still crying. He was trying to hold his tears but he can’t.
A second round of dispersal erupted and while every other anti-riot policemen are pushing and shoving trying to remove the protesters from the ground, the crying cop simply stood ground. He was still holding his shield firmly. Still weeping. Sobbing.
I approached the policeman and asked him his name. He said he is Joselito. A quick glance at his name tag reveals he is Policeman Joselito Sevilla. He said he is a private and his uniform patch reveals he is from Marikina police unit.
When asked why he is crying he replied, “Sa gutom at pagod. Walang tulog. Walang pahinga. Dalawang draw na kame nakadeploy dito. Tapos ganito nagkakagulo.” This was also PO1 Sevilla’s first dispersal assignment. (Because of hunger and no sleep. We have no rest and we have been stationed here for 2 days already and now it’s getting violent.)
The other stand out this year, also pointed out by Zamora in the above passage, is a foreigner joining the fray. Apparently, his Facebook profile and open letter to policeman Joselito Sevilla seem to suggest his leanings towards communism. He insisted that the protesters were entirely peaceful, and that the escalation to violence can be entirely blamed on the police. It makes you wonder, what was a visiting foreigner doing in a demonstration, essentially interfering in the internal affairs of this country?
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Perhaps we will never truly know who started the violence first. The protesters will stand their ground that the police started beating and pushing them back first, and that throwing stones was a response in kind. On the other hand, the police will say that they are tasked to exercise “maximum tolerance” and that the protesters started throwing stones first, though they may have been unwittingly provoked by the protesters into “dealing the first blow”, so to speak.
At this point, that hardly matters.
Amidst the turmoil going on, Zamora wanted to highlight that in the end, we are all human beings. Though on opposing sides of a conflict, the involved parties can still show compassion towards each other. Sevilla may never be able to get rid of the “crying cop” moniker, but his “ordeal”, if you may even call it that, clearly underscores something lacking among the many interest groups in Filipino society: peaceful, rational, and sincere dialogue.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to highlight that with communists, dialogue is a bit more difficult. They want nothing less than to violently overthrow whichever government is in power, and replace it with one of their own. They frequently emphasize the “armed revolution” part of their ideology, but I digress.
As Zamora pointed out, men in authority, in particular, are expected to be firm and not show emotion.
Well, welcome to the Philippines, the land of contradictions, I say. This is the land of “just grin and bear it” hard times, while at the same time, Filipinos are some of the most emotional people in the world. Filipinos are supposedly people who avoid confrontation, yet are not hesitant to resort to violence just because of a perceived slight. Filipinos are passive-aggressive complainers, yet when given the chance to air out their grievances directly, they beat around the bush. Filipinos love gossiping about other people, but they can’t take direct and constructive criticism. Obviously, Filipinos love to do a lot of talking, what we call in the vernacular dakdak nang dakdak; but when it’s time to listen to the other party, they suck.
Such conditions present in a contradictory society can break even the most stoic Filipino citizen. Why bother with a country whose citizenry is apprehensive towards peaceful dialogue? Why bother with a country whose people are easily riled up? Why bother to talk to people when it will degenerate to self-aggrandizing noise? Why bother with this country, when it is easier to get away from it instead?
Do you still wonder, then, why issues take a long time to be resolved in the Philippines? Why the same old shit happens every year? People aren’t willing to look past their differences here. Very few are willing to listen to the other side genuinely. There exists here only self-interest, enlightened or not. The concept of a greater good and win-win situation is all but alien to the Filipino mind.
It’s all about what the Filipino wants, to satisfy his baseless need to be more important than everyone else.
When you find yourself in a country full of self-aggrandizing and self-important people, it’s hard to remain stoic and to just “grin and bear it”. Sooner or later you’re going to want out. Such is the sad truth about Filipino society.
It’s enough to make a grown man cry.
crying cop-20
[Photos courtesy of: Rem Zamora]

PNoy’s 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) makes you go ‘hmmm…’

July 26, 2013
by Ilda
SONA2013
There is simply no other show in the Philippines like the occasion of the State of the Nation Address (SONA), especially when it involves President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino, his family, and his minions. Some star-struck Filipinos even liken the spectacle to the internationally-renowned Academy of Motion Pictures awards night or the Oscars because public servants who attend it wear the best glittering gowns and barong tagalogs taxpayers could buy. And their observation could be right. A lot of the public servants could win the best acting category for “Pretending to care for the welfare of the country and its people”.

If they actually did care, these public servants wouldn’t dare display such callous extravagance on the day the head of state is scheduled to give a report on his “efforts” to uplift the lives of the poor. SONA is also that once-a-year event when Filipinos with huge egos and exaggerated sense of self-importance gather together in one venue to see and be seen and more importantly, to be a willing audience to a one-man performance act.
Just like any blockbuster film, President BS Aquino’s fourth SONA was big in special effects but thin in substance. He dazzled the audience with too much information, complete with testimonials that weren’t really important to the bottom line, which is job creation. He stuck to the tried and tested formula – human drama that appeals to the gullible crowd. It seemed to work because they missed the irony in his claim that the government has expanded its assistance program Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino from 700,000 to 4 million households in the three years of his administration. No one noticed the fact that the increase in the number of Filipinos relying on government assistance means the number of poor people has increased as well. The statistics show that it is up by roughly 800,000.
President BS Aquino’s goal shouldn’t even be to increase the number of enrolments in the PPP. Instead, he should see to it that the program would eventually result in the increase in the number of Filipinos who become self-reliant. The initiative should adopt a procedure that is similar to the first in, first out concept. Meaning, if one family has been receiving benefits for a certain period of time, there should be a point when they graduate from the program and not be forever included in it. That way, the funds allocated for the program don’t have to be too exorbitant. Any welfare assistance program should include measures to show that it is actually achieving its poverty alleviation objective. One way to ensure that it is working is to place effective checks-and-balances that would discourage people from cheating the system.
After the SONA, comes the fact checking. This should have been done before the SONA but hey, this is the Philippines where the majority doesn’t really care. For some reason, whoever is helping the President gather data always gets something wrong. The Philippine Medical Association reportedly doubts the accuracy of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) claim that 81 percent of Filipinos had so far been enrolled in the government’s universal healthcare program. To quote:
PMA president Dr. Leo Olarte said state health insurance had long been having difficulties with its information and communication technology (ICT) system to come up with a scientific count.
“If we assume that the total population of the Philippines is 100 million, then 81 percent of Filipinos who are supposedly enrolled in PhilHealth numbers to around 81 million,” Olarte said. “If we follow this kind of logic, a total of eight out of 10 hospital admissions across the country should be PhilHealth cases.”
But reports from various hospitals nationwide did not support this claim, said the head of PMA, an umbrella organization of medical doctors in the country.
“We are just curious and very interested to see the scientific basis of this particular PhilHealth declaration mainly because of some conflicting claims in the past,” Olarte said, pointing to the 2008 National Demographic Health Survey showing that only 38 percent of respondents were aware of at least one household member enrolled in PhilHealth.
Those who saw the BS in PNoy's SONA just make fun of it.
Those who saw the BS in PNoy’s SONA just make fun of it.
Unfortunately, once the audience have been bombarded by data, they lose interest in checking its accuracy. It doesn’t matter if BS Aquino gets the figures wrong; he probably knows that the people wouldn’t care anyway.
An Aquino speech wouldn’t be complete without his signature theatrics. As usual, he dared to lambast and shame a few government agencies whose members he referred to as “makakapal ang mukha” (thick-faced) in front of a large audience. These agencies were Bureau of Immigration, National Irrigation Administration and Bureau of Customs with the latter receiving the full brunt of his tirade in the last half his 102-minute speech.
While it’s true that these agencies needed to improve their performance, BS Aquino’s sincerity in fixing the problem is highly questionable. Why did he feel the need to show his dissatisfaction with these agencies during his SONA? He inadvertently proved that he is not on top of the situation. Why didn’t he just fire the incompetent government employees? Or, the more decent thing for him to have done was sat down with the head of the agencies involved and speak to them about the need to shape up or ship out. He could have done this in a more private setting months ago.
Oh, that’s right: The President was busy campaigning for his party mates in the first half of the year, which could explain why he is not on top of the situation.
A lot of people were amazed at how BS Aquino could scold these agencies one day and then reject the resignation of the personnel in charge the next day. He was very inconsistent. At least three Customs officials have been compelled to file their resignation after being shamed in the SONA. Customs chief Ruffy Biazon, Deputy Commissioner Danny Lim and Juan Lorenzo Tañada were all willing to give up their posts but they were all told to stay put. It’s simply one of those things that make you go “hmmm…”
Both Ruffy Biazon and former rebel soldier, Danny Lim could not contain their frustration at their current posts. Both reportedly admitted that it is very difficult to institute reforms with Lim claiming that there are too many “powerful forces” that meddle in the Bureau of Custom’s affairs. Unfortunately, the former brigadier general who was instrumental to a number of failed coup d’etat against Former President Gloria Arroyo was not brave enough to name names.
Back when he was still a rebel soldier, he probably thought it was too easy to institute reforms in government. Now that he is part of the system, Danny Lim realizes that it is not that easy after all. He should also realize that it was naïve of him to blame everything on GMA and attempt to force her removal from office twice, once in 2003 and then again 2007. If he thinks that President BS Aquino has nothing to do with the corrupt activities in various agencies such as the Bureau of Customs, then it follows that GMA could not have had anything to do with the corruption in various agencies during her term as well. But we all know that it is unlikely he will see it that way. Some people simply want to blame everything on GMA.
Speaking of rebels, the number of activists expressing their grievances against the Aquino government seems to be growing. It’s not even limited to the ones in the country. It was reported that Filipinos from across the United States staged protest actions during BS Aquino’s SONA. Filipino-Americans protested simultaneously in front of the Philippine consulate offices because of the rampant injustice still happening in the Philippines.
We’re just criticizing, exposing the deceit of President Aquino’s state of the union address. We can see injustices still happening in the Philippines, poverty, corruption and the false promises of hope,” said Joshua Jimenez of Bayan-USA.
They said that despite the president touting high remittances and improved economies, and recent economic visits by Philippine officials to the US, majority Filipinos remain in poverty.
“One of the things we’re opposing is the labor export program of President Aquino where he systematically exports Filipino people and uses them and their labor, remittances to hold up the economy,” added Terry Cervas of women’s rights group Gabriella, “while they export Filipino people they don’t do anything to protect their rights.”
Indeed, BS Aquino’s SONA did not even give a special mention to the country’s breadwinners – the overseas foreign workers (OFWs). They left their families behind to seek employment overseas earning minimum wages but when some of them get in trouble, they claim that the Philippine government hardly gives them assistance. The OFWs have made BS Aquino’s job so easy. Their remittances have kept the country’s economy stay afloat and have been the reason for its resilience despite the economic crisis in other parts of the world. It wasn’t really BS Aquino’s hard work after all.
Forced to endure hunger and fatigue to guard against agitated protesters.
Forced to endure hunger and fatigue to guard against agitated protesters.
Locally, what started out as a “peaceful” demonstration outside the Batasan complex where SONA was being held quickly turned violent. What emerged was a picture of hopelessness and frustration towards the current government. One riot police officer became the symbol of frustration on social networking sites. Policeman Joselito Sevilla had an emotional breakdown after being berated by a very passionate activist from the Netherlands. Sevilla claimed that he broke down because he was already very tired and hungry. They haven’t rested since being deployed to guard the complex for two days straight and then violence erupted. The poor thing. He may have to change careers eventually because such an incident could have devastating consequences to a man’s wellbeing.
That is the reality that BS Aquino refuses to accept. He even claims that “it is wonderful to be a Filipino in these times.” Such sweet words that is music to his supporters’ ears. But for a lot of Filipinos, it is wonderful to be in another place, far away from the dysfunction and mediocrity at this time.
[Image of minions and Crying Cop courtesy Essays.ph and Yahoo! News respectively.]

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Anti-Trust Bill to Improve Competition in Philippine Economy – Or Otherwise

Anti-Trust Bill to Improve Competition in Philippine Economy – Or Otherwise
An anti-trust bill within a closed economy is being presented as a way of improving competition in the Philippine economy. The house proposes a Fair Trade Commission to oversee and prevent anti-competitive prices. That’s on top of the other government agencies which already regulate the various industries.
When you remove the rhetoric – it boils down to the government wanting to increase regulation of the market under the guise of “promoting competition”.
Such s policy does not present any benefit to consumers and imposes more harm. More regulations and more agencies will not improve competition in the protected Philippine economy. It has not worked for decades – it’s not about to work now.

Unregulated Markets Create Monopolies, Really?

The myth peddled to the common tao is that unregulated markets lead to the creation of monopolies. Therefore government has to step in to ensure that companies will not have a coercive market monopoly.
The reality is that coercive monopolies cannot exist without government protection, special regulations, exemptions, and subsidies.
Let’s take it closer to home – your wallet. The only reason that PLDT and Globe are able to dominate the market is because of the state’s protection - as a matter of state policy. PLDT and Globe are able to get away with high subscription rates for snail-paced broadband and wireless, dropped calls, dead spots – take it or leave it. How will the Free Trade Commission deal with that – or the NTC or DOTC for that matter?
Another instance would be the media industry which bans Filipino citizens from having foreign partners. Thus ABS-CBN and GMA 7 continue to rack awards for being the #1 and #2 media network in the country – and monopolizing the broadcast of foreign movies!
Meanwhile, the gov’t run IBC is still in the auction block – a white elephant subsidized by taxpayers.
Come to think about it – I’d say the government is the biggest cartel – they dictate the prices so as not to displease the political base. :D

Pricing Wars- A Key Flashpoint?

Pricing issues will be a primary source of anti-trust litigation. Expect terms like “predatory pricing”. The theory goes that predatory pricing is
the practice of selling a product or service at a very low price, intending to drive competitors out of the market, or create barriers to entry for potential new competitors. If competitors or potential competitors cannot sustain equal or lower prices without losing money, they go out of business or choose not to enter the business. The predatory merchant then has fewer competitors or is even a de facto monopoly.
In many countries predatory pricing is considered anti-competitive and is illegal under “competition” laws.
This assumption can only take place if and only 1) the predator has deep financial resources; and 2) – if there are very high barriers to entry – such as special regulations, exemptions, subsidies, and protections by the state. Reminds you of a lot familiar Philippine brands.
Hmmm. In case Pinoys have not noticed – the government has been dictating the ceiling prices of goods – rice, sugar, livestock, poultry – at consumers and taxpayers expense.
Another notion is that regulators believe there is an optimal minimum value at which prices even out – all things being equal (process, inputs, taxes, etc) for all competitors. The reality is that not all things are equal. There are different consumer preferences. There are also different ways to deliver value at a price that people are willing to pay for. And to trust Pinoy regulators to know the most efficient way of running a business which delivers value to consumers - is economic suicide.
In a free market, if the economic predator lowers the price – it reduces their revenue. Rival firms can come in any time since there are no barriers to entry. The rival firms can re-engineer their processes, re-imagine the value chain, redesign their supply chain to have the same revenue margins at lower prices – and the economic predator takes a loss.
In a free economy monopolies are not invulnerable because there will always be a rival company that can develop alternatives. Revenue is a reward for excellent work, for service above and beyond, of walking the extra mile to fulfill a promise and a commitment to serve your external and internal customers to the best of your abilities and nothing less.
In a protected economy, monopolies own the food you eat, the store where you shop, the movies that you watch, the phone that you use, the roads you take to work and home, the electricity in your house, the water in your toilet – for the fundamental reason that they are owned by Filipinos.

Competition – In A Market Of 3?

If special regulations (nationality requirements, equity restrictions, predatory fees) prevent the entry of a company with such capabilities then – where’s the competition – shopping with Carmen San Diego?
Does “competition” mean more competition between the 3? Or does the state prefer a limited number of players competing on who can give a bigger payoff to government?
After all when the state is choosing between PLDT or Globe for telecom – it will be easier to strike up “negotiated bids”. When the state is choosing between ABS-CBN or GMA7 for infommercial placements for RH purposes – it’s easier to strike up “negotiated bids”.
The lesser people to talk to – the more efficient the decision-making but there has to be a semblance of competition for purposes of “good government”. What’s the Fair Trade Commission gonna do about that?

It’s all about Freedom – to choose, to make, to sell, to buy, to give, to share, to own, to enjoy, to innovate, to invent, to improve –
Your Freedom

The belief that fully foreign-owned investment in food, roads, telecom, power, entertainment, water, retail, transportation, agriculture, education, health care, finance, real estate is against the interests of all Filipinos is highly questionable. Our neighbors in Asia have shown that fully foreign-owned or foreign majority-owned investments actually worked for their respective countries – including the Philippines by way of the Filipino OFWs. Even the monopolies can benefit from allowing equal treatment of local and foreign investments.
Beyond the solid economic reasons, it’s also about plain decency.How about allowing foreign investors for the reason that they are not human beings – people of flesh and blood like you and me. People with aspirations of a better future for themselves, their families, their companies, their employees and their communities – is there anything wrong with that to merit the restrictions?
And, what’s wrong with trusting Filipino consumers to make the right economic decisions with their own money – to include buying from, selling to, working for, or doing business with foreigners? They can do no worse than the Philippine government or the protected Filipino businesses for that matter.

How to Have Genuine Competition in the Philippine Economy: My Isang Sentimo’s Worth

If there was anything that Congress can do to increase competition in the economy – here are some next steps to consider:
1 – They can start by not going ahead with the bill.
2 – Follow thru by repealing all the special regulations which provide exemptions, subsidies, and protections to sll private firms.
3 – Dismantle all the regulatory agencies – and reduce the taxes and fees collected – let citizens exercise self-regulation, self-governance of their money. Citizens can be trusted with their own money, more than politicians or faceless bureaucrats. The talent of the laid-off government workers can best be redirected to the private sector.
4 – The herd of elephants in the room of course is the fact that the equity restrictions imposed by the constitution on foreign capital does not increase competition at all. If you wanna go for gold – removing the economic restrictions is the way to go.
What will the Fair Trade Commission do about that? Better yet – what will the Congress do about that? What will you do about that?

Be a Creator of Superior Value, Compete

Filipino businesses should not be afraid of competition. We should embrace competition much like friends in a game of tennis, basketball, golf, muay thai. We should look at competition as an opportunity to amaze ourselves with strengths, talents, and opportunities for improvement which we were previously unaware of. Win and lose with integrity. Play with intensity. And yes, there will be times when you will face adversity and doubt. Do not fear it, embrace it, make it work for you and not against you.
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There is no shame in receiving a value for the goods and services you deliver or create. It is not greedy and selfish to provide a roof over your head, food on your table, education and health for your family, and pursue your personal happiness. I’d say it is an act of love, of respect to the people you love and care for and the people you represent – including, whether you like it or not – Filipinos.
***
Self-Governance Trumps Government’s “Good Governance”
Isn’t it about time time we had more self-governance, step up and take responsibility for our choices – than the P2.14 trillion “good governance” of the Aquino administration?
The ability to earn for yourself, to spend for yourself and for the pursuit of personal happiness (which includes volunteering to serve others with your personal time and money) and to decide your yourself independently of government is not selfishness, it’s called being a personally responsible adult and citizen.
Things which we can do for and should do for ourselves – are best done by us. Personal freedom for all of us comes with a price, it’s called personal responsibility. Liberty is not a cross to bear, it is an opportunity to make our piece of the world better, cleaner, healthier, smarter, kinder – starting with ourselves.

Epilogue

Don’t settle for being a CCT subsidy recipient. To be competitive – be an independent, self-governing, law-abiding, wealth-creating, value-creating, peace-loving person – for a start.
Four years ago, the Philippines made a choice. The outcome of the choice will continue to be felt. Two more years of wider joblessness, hunger, increasing poverty.  Being in the bottom barrel does not mean things are bound to go up. At times, a hole is punched in the bottom of the barrel – and it is free fall all the way, followed by a loud thud. Or, the height of the barrel gets longer and the view from the bottom gets narrower. Giving away your power of choice – is still a choice. When others make the choices for you, it might not be what you wanted.
Choice drives life and shapes reality. Exercise your power of informed choice - practice makes perfect.
An Anti-Trust Bill is not the answer to have a more competitive economy.  Competition means Filipino consumers must be able to exercise their full range of choices to equally reward businesses for excellence and value regardless of nationality – not another BS government regulation and agency.