Monday, December 10, 2012

"Well Done Mr. President"

By now I'm sure you've read about the Philippines rising in the corruption rankings provided by Transparency International. And perhaps you've read the anti-propaganda diminishing the importance of the ratings.

  • "They are just perceptions, and they are wrong!"

  • "105th is still corrupt!"

  • "President Aquino is a braggart, claiming this as his achievement."

You know, I disagree with the anti crowd once again. Indeed, I can't disagree more.

The Transparency International ranking is just one more check in a lengthening checklist that PROVES that President Aquino has recast the hopes and promise of the Philippines. Tangibly.

From a string of presidential disappointments to a huge stride forward. From the dark confusion and mistrust of Mrs. Arroyo into the light of good deeds and promise of Mr. Aquino.

If the anti crowd cannot grasp that perception is real, is tangible, is meaningful, then it is best to write them off as lost, adrift in self deceit. You see, hope is also intangible. But so very important. Promise. Courage. Dignity. Compassion. Loyalty. Trust.

Intangible, but oh so very real. Powerful in the right circumstances.

President Aquino brought that power to the Presidency.

I chalk this up as one more metric that the anti crowd must whine and rationalize away to hold onto their dwindling credibility, founded on some strange, enduring distaste for the Philippines and Filipinos and anything POSITIVE about the country they may once have called home. 

The "yellow glow" that the antis detest is real. It is the bed of promise, the motivation, the passion upon which real work has been done. One man provided that foundation, the platform needed to get the Philippines headed in a new direction, the man the antis can't bear to give credit to, even when credit is due: President Noynoy Aquino. The man who brought fundamental goodness and earnest work to the Presidency of the Philippines, for ALL that it is worth.

Would Estrada have done this? JoeAm figures the odds would be about 5%.

Villar? 20%

Gordon? 40%

Why? Because the nation rose as one and said "we demand good government!" Those guys had certain strengths, but they did not have the real-deal GOODS. The rock solid intangible of belief and trust.

Only one candidate in 2009 could bring the hope and the promise and, yes, authoritarian power that would clear the path for stern acts like the jailing of the predecessor President and the eviction of a Supreme Court Justice who did not pass muster. I'm imagining Estrada and Villar would have pardoned Arroyo and left Corona in office. Gordon, who knows . . . such an illusive butterfly, floating on emotion . . .

Do  you think that authoritarian power, granted by the will and demands of the people, is "intangible"? Do you think ANYONE else could have brought to the top desk what President Aquino brought? The good of his mother and the grit of his father?


You know I may climb on the President for his various acts from time to time. I even used the "I" word in a headline once. But that is akin to how one feels about a baseball infielder making an error during a game. We boo in frustration, but still cheer for him and his team when they do well.

I cheer for President Aquino, and the Philippines. Truly, I do.

 Here's the Philippines under President Aquino:

  • Economic  growth is strong. Everyone recognizes this from the international press to the debt rating agencies. 

  • Tourism, service-center, gaming and real estate industries are flourishing.

  • The stock market is roaring.

  • The peso is strong. Too strong for my dollar denominated wallet.

  • International standing is strong and respectably, and respectfully, firm. Ask China. They know what nation they can't roll.

  • Investors are investing, in call centers, in public/private partnerships, in casinos, in hotels and tourism ventures.

  • Infrastructure is being rebuilt after years of neglect and budget plunder. Roads and trains and schools and ports.

  • Primary schools are going to the international standard of K to 12, a hard transition, but essential for Filipino scholars to gain the recognition they deserve overseas.

  • Antiquated government paper processes are being automated and trimmed of red tape, the automation itself a form of check against corruption.

International standing is up markedly; not just on Transparency International's rankings, but S&P's and Moody's. ALL indicators are going in the same qualitative direction: UP. Only the antis and China and the Catholic Church and the incorrigibly corrupt are trying to drag the Philippines back into pits of darkness and dysfunction.

Strange partnership, eh? It warrants restatement for emphasis: Working against the moderization and betterment of the Philippines are:

  • The antis
  • China
  • The Catholic Church
  • The incorrigibly corrupt

Is President Aquino perfect?

Are you?

Is Philippine progress fragile?

Yes, yes it is. The manufacturing base is weak. The storms and disasters are real. Poverty is a huge burden. The pipelines for essentials - food and water and electricity and gasoline and health care - are barely able to keep up with demand. The nation seems always to be one step ahead of crushing need. Tuna are disappearing from the seas. Good farmland is being eroded. Congestion is bogging cities down in costly and dirty inefficiency. China is making threats daily, insulting and trying to intimidate the Philippines and Filipinos.

But here is what I hope will happen, with the idea that hope, combined with confidence and commitment, can become singularly important drivers of achievement:

  • HR will get passed and there will be a tempered but profound trend in the poorer areas to limit family size. Education will do that. Word of mouth endorsement of smaller families will do that. Availability of birth control methods will do that. In 50 years, poverty will have moderated. It's a slow freight, getting money to the millions of poor.

  • FOI will get passed, if not this year, then next. And with FOI will come additional incentives for government workers and agencies to focus forthrightly on the job to be done. On competency, not show. It will help seal good governance as a permanent quality. That's why the President will back it. His legacy is lost without it.

  • The economy will continue to rip, with a growing middle class spending and educating the nation to new wealth.  Also from the middle class will rise pragmatic managers focused on productivity and achievement, not the self-service of corrupt ways.

  • I'm inclined to wonder, what does China really provide that could not be built in the Philippines or bought elsewhere? Cheap plastic toys?  It is in China's interest not to stir up trouble with the Philippines. The Chinese have major investments here. Filipinos have little in China. Joint development of contested seas will be worked out. No guns will fire.

  • Peace in Mindanao will be troublesome, but successful. The government is making the kinds of investments there that can turn bitterness to opportunity. Something the Philippines has never delivered to poor Muslim communities. It's important to understand that the cause of unrest in Mindanao is not religion, it is poverty.

Two huge, critical milestones will need to be passed to assure that the rise of the Philippines is permanently sealed into the nation's social infrastructure. They are:

  • The FOI Bill, which opens government to inspection and puts the people in charge, a force for public good over private gain. 

  • The 2016 election, which will either advance the Aquino legacy or turn away from it. I personally believe Mr. Binay would be a bad choice and Mr. Roxas or Mr. Abaya would be a good choice.

Although it bugs me when President Aquino brags about every accomplishment as if it were his personal mark rather than the natural flow of things, I must admit, every achievement, every increase in ranking and rating, is indeed built on the bed of promise he brought to the Philippines, and the fundamentally good work that his agencies have done. So . . .

"Congratulations, Mr. President, on that improved Transparency International ranking."

You did that. You can claim it.

We would not have that improvement without your principled leadership.

But enough of that glow for now.

How about turning your attention to that FOI Bill, eh?

To allow you to exit stage 2016 with a profound and everlasting legacy that seals "good governance" into the way Philippine agencies, courts and legislators do the people's work. Work that is visible to the people and their agents, the press. And their advocates, the attorneys. Work that is forthright and open. You know . . . earnest . . . and good . . . like those intangible leadership qualities you brought to the Presidency that today enable Filipinos to convert another intangible, their good heart, to progress.


  1. 1. RH not HR?

    2. I second the optimism.

    3. Really, I think the hardest thing to overcome is negativity. (BTW, negativity, not negation.)

    4. Try as hard as I can, I too fall victim to negativity. It's so easy to condemn, so hard to praise. Or not even praise. Just giving a fair assessment. Trying to see clearly with unblinkered eyes.

    5. Going back to praise or the lack of it. If we look at the latest good economic figures, what do people say? It's because:

    5.1 Finally some infrastructure spending, but no FDI increase.
    5.2 Pnoy harvesting the groundwork laid by GMA.
    5.3 Inevitable rise coming from a low base.
    5.4 Increased election spending.
    5.5 Seemingly lesser corruption, but it has just gone underground.
    5.6 A 7.1% growth is not good enough; it should be 9%.
    5.7 It's a fluke.

    6. This essay addresses and rebalances the negativity out there, and provides a much-needed correction in perspective.

    1. Balance is important, for sure. Until the Philippines is number one in the world on Transparency International's ranking, absent of any corruption whatsoever, there will always be a gap between here and there. It is that gap the negativists focus on. I think going up in strong annual strides is superb and to expect the Philippines to go from 140 to 60 in three years is lunatic. But indeed, one can't coast and continue to climb. That's why the FOI is important. It is probably worth a 15 point rise on its own. It is hard to be corrupt if a whole nation is watching.

  2. Well done, JoeAm. Praise is rare indeed. Medium praise goes to Pnoy on Corona ejection.

    1. Ah, thanks. Corona was political, I think, moreso than legal. The legal technicality, excused for many Congressment, I suspect, was enough to justify the political decision. It was an exercise in Presidential power and CJ Sereno will determine if it was "judicious" use of power. She seems to harbor occasional flights of immaturity; I hope she is strong enough for the extreme demands of the job. The courts don't do much to help the Philippines be just and free and safe.

    2. Corona's ejection was more a show of violation of plagiarized law in the PHilippines. It clearly showed to the Filipinos that the sitting powers can do whatever they want to do with their laws and even redefine what is right and what is wrong.

      In Bill Clinton and Blago's impeachment Americans still apply the legal not the political. But in the Philippines, well, anthing goes. Even 180 non-reading impeachor congessmen was clearly vindicated by being applauded by clueless Filipinos and PHilippine Media.

      So, the legal system in the PHilippines is perfect but the people behind it are not. They still answer to the sitting powers.

  3. Fair and square, just what the President needs and what the President deserves... and what the antis are incapable of dishing out.

    I barely ever read the anti material. I find it hard to get through even just one piece without feeling offended myself. They do seem to bother the President though, don't they? I wish he'd just ignore them already. The best way really to get back at all his detractors is for him to do a damn good job. Nothing can probably be more distressing to those naysayers than seeing him succeed and "exit stage 2016 with a profound and everlasting legacy".

    1. Yes, and not just Mr. Aquino. All public office holders need to understand that when they make tough decisions, half the people will object. It goes with the territory. That's what democracy is all about. The right to gripe. And the right we all have, nay, sometimes the privelege, not to read trashy, deceitful griping that is best used at the bottom of the bird cage.

    2. And we have the right to misspell words or slaughter grammar, all in the name of style and free form expression. It's a privilige.

  4. Touche, Joe!

    Cha doesnt read the antis, I simply ignore them. Cant argue with a two year olds.

  5. Heard Juana Change went over to Binay camp.


    1. Thanks for the enlightenment, Doc.

      "Juana Change is part of a continuing project of advocacy campaigns for freedom, justice, and good governance using the sharpest political satire hoping to evoke a social sentiment for change. The idea for Juana Change was brainstormed by a group of artists and social activists, who, because of lack of money and other resources, decided to create small video episodes and upload it to the Internet video servers for public viewing., The episodes feature Juana Change, a Filipino generic character who may at some instances represent an agent for social change or at some other instances the exact opposite. Juana is a pun that refers to two diametrically opposed political stances on change. One referring to "Wanna Change" indicating an expressed need for radical reforms in the Philippine society and politics. The other refers to Wa na Change (meaning Change is hopeless). This dichotomy that reflects the apathy and the sincere hope of a divided nation is crystallized in the different episodes that lampoons powerful politicians and corrupt officials as well as calling for a broader form of action amongst the majority."


  6. Pnoy is not a wimp. Is that praise?

    1. Ahahahahaha. Backhanded, yes, like saying "you don't sweat much for a fat man."


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