Binay rating falls; rivals up

TANAUAN, Batangas – The headline above is courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. With just under 20 months to go before the 2016 presidential elections, our attention is obviously already in it. A lot can happen in 20 months. Mar Roxas was a lock for Vice President in 2012 if surveys conducted as late as 3 weeks before that election were to be believed. Nevertheless, it’s fun and very amusing for our politicians to be taking these so so seriously. It is of course obvious that the corruption charges and the Senate hearings focused on the Binays has definitely taken a hit. Despite their denials, the perception that their family did all that they are being accused of is easy to believe. Any “rags to riches” story particularly when it comes to politicians always comes with the usual understanding that there is corruption involved. We have seen so many of these things happen.

The question that needs to be answered is really simple. How did the Vice President become so rich on a mayor’s salary? This question presupposes several things. One, that the Vice President never really had a thriving (from a commercial perspective) law practice thus his riches could not have come from his practice of law. Two, that the Binays are rich in the first place which per his voluntarily released SALN showing a net worth of over P60 million would make the family a rich one. Three, that Dra. Binay also never really had a thriving (from a commercial perspective) medical practice thus their riches could not have come from her practice of medicine.

The release of his SALN is a step in the right direction but is not enough (for many people anyway). The Vice President’s spokesperson and legal counsel assert that the SALNs prove that the Binays amassed their wealth through legal means. The major source of income for the family, the piggery business in Batangas, could not, alone have provided enough capital for the purchase of other assets much less sustain the entire family’s day to day needs (which we can surmise would be above average). Whatever income the family had, had to provide for the needs not just of the VP and Dra. Binay but also for their children and their families.

The Binay children have never really had careers of their own. Sen. Nancy has a degree in Tourism from UP Diliman and immediately went into the family “business” after graduation as personal assistant of her mother, the then-mayor of Makati. Congresswoman Abby is a lawyer who had a fledgling law career which plateaued at being a partner at a law firm (not a major one) for a period of three months before running for Congress in 2007. Mayor Junjun has had a relative uninterrupted career in politics from the age of 15 initially with the Sangguniang Kabataan.

It is unfortunate and perhaps something that was to be expected, for the Vice President to be undergoing all this. I am sure from a human standpoint, this must hurt.

The next step for the Vice President and his team would really be to take pains to walk people through a definitive explanation of how he amassed his wealth. Of course, they could choose to ignore this but then they would continue to lose the moral high ground. If nothing wrong has been done, the logical truth should easily explain everything.

Becoming President would be the ultimate achievement of Vice President’s long political career. So would it be for every other Filipino who wants to run for that position. I just hope that whoever gets there will not have been so bloodied na wala ng maibibigay pagdating doon.

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it’s (really) more fun in the philippines (for a few)

over a year later – the market still has to surpass it’s previous high…

Criticaleye2's Blog

Photo credit: REUTERS/Erik de Castro Photo credit: REUTERS/Erik de Castro

MAKATI, Philippines – On May 15th of this year, the Philippine Stock Exchange index hit an all-time high of 7,403.65 points. The euphoria of multiple upgrades by the credit rating agencies and the perceived positive outcome of the national elections still had to wear off.

Thirty seven days later, the index closed at 6,182.17 – a massive 16% drop in just over a month.

Forgive my Monday-morning quarterbacking but this steep and costly fall was bound to happen at some point. I just didn’t expect it to happen this fast. I don’t think any of those stock market pundits did either. I feel for those who bought stock on May 15th, they’ve lost a lot of money. What makes it worse is that they were led to believe the market would keep on going higher. That’s what you call a rude awakening.

The Philippine stock…

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living with 9/11: a personal recollection of coping but never forgetting

13 years

Criticaleye2's Blog

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

Joseph – 10 years ago we had to evacuate our office and walked home in all the silence that was still so loud. People all over. I remember hearing someone on the corner of my building saying over the phone names of some friends that were known to have died. You went to the store and bought some water, bread and canned food! We stayed the whole day in my apartment and did not know what to expect! I remember you slept on the sofa and we had no clue about anything. It will never be forgotten and my heart goes out today to all the people that died, their families and friends. Luv, Hulda.

ON BOARD PR 853, Philippines – Hulda Pjetursdottir, Halldor Thorteinsson, Greg Lentini, Ro Bhalla, Paul Ferrigno, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, Terrie Edwards-Aoki.

These were the people I was with in the Madison Avenue office of Kaupthing New…

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2016

PASAY CITY – Jojo Binay. Mar Roxas. Grace Poe. One declared, one anointed and one undeclared presidential candidate. In 20 months and 29 days, we will all go to the polls and elect a new president.

As the years pass by, you begin to feel the optimistic future begin to slip away. You begin to feel a sense of despair at the growing feeling of helplessness at the thought that our country will never be what you want it to be. Given the significant problems that the country faces, the selection of what you hope would be a transformational president becomes even more important. Is it too late to hope that such will happen in your lifetime?

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illustration credit: newsflash.org

We need radical solutions to our problems. Baby steps will not do. To do that, we need a leader with the moral courage and the intestinal fortitude to battle the powerful and deeply-rooted institutions (formal and informal) which will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo.

The prospective candidates for the 2016 polls are of the establishment. It is difficult to divine whether they have a true grasp of the problems that we face much less the solution to these problems. Our problems as a nation are not just those that are tangible (poverty, corruption, crime), so much more is intangible or things we do not accept and recognize as problems.

There is no sense of Filipino nationhood. We profess to be one nation but what is that rooted on? We are one nation by a geography drawn by and cemented by foreigners. Like the former Yugoslavia which eventually broke up to become Serbia (Serbs), Montenegro (Montenegrins), Croatia (Croats) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnians), we identify more with being Batangueno, Ilocano, Cebuano, Waray, Ilonggo, etc.

Our current crop of leaders are too inward-looking and narrow-minded. The majority of them have no sense as to the radical changes that need to be undertaken to make the country, a nation that is for all. Most have no discernment of where or what our country should be – a lack of vision. Those with vision have very limited or narrow ones with little understanding or specificity as to how to achieve such a vision. Many shy away from radical measures because for them “para que pa?”.

The writer, F. Sionil Jose, propounds that a president strongly backed by the military would be the solution. A Marcosian solution one thinks. Behind his thinking, however, is the allusion to the fact that we are such a poor excuse as a nation that we need a dictator or at least a strong president to get us all in line. The lack of discipline, the abject disregard of the rule of law, the lack of purpose, the being mayabang na wala namang ipagyayabang, the pretentiousness, the every person for himself mentality (just look at the traffic), the national inferiority complex – all these need to be eradicated for us to really change and fulfill our potential as a nation. F. Sionil Jose believes a Lee Kuan Yew-type leader is required (my interpretation).

To lift all of our people from poverty does not go far enough although it is a good start. Really, we need to free Filipinos from that mental state that makes them set imaginary glass ceilings and does not allow them to throw off the chains of mental bondage. We need to empower ourselves to think that we can go far beyond our current circumstances.

For this to happen, the way our current institutions are set up and function will have to radically change. Many laws that we currently have will have to be amended or thrown out all together. As the Peruvian economist, Hernando Soto, said, institutions are important and their ability to reform their legal systems contributed to successful examples of now-developed countries. The problem we have are that our institutions are corrupted and do not have the ability nor the willingness to think beyond themselves. This consigns us to the status quo which benefits the few at the expense of the many.

It is hard to accept that only a military-backed dictator will be able to launch a revolution to “re-form” our institutions.

The Philippines and the Filipino people is/are an impressionable lot. Rather than a military-backed dictatorship, we need a visionary leader who will also have the “sticktoitiveness” to push through with the necessary steps to build on a broad-minded vision. Someone who will have the balls to say what needs to be done and actually get it done. Someone who will argue by force of reason and logic rather than someone who will do so with the barrel of a gun pointed at your head.

Our Constitution, with its imperfections, is a relatively good one. We argue on the constitutionality of things based on technicalities. This misses the point. Our Constitution is a set of aspirations and promises. Sadly and very frustratingly, our institutions which are tasked with fulfilling these promises and thus getting us closer to these enunciated aspirations have failed us. The presidential oath of office binds our President to protect and defend its Constitution. It would have been better had the phrase “and fulfill its promises” been added. Regardless, we need someone who will understand this and do so.

Sadly, there is no one in the horizon for 2016 who seems capable of doing so.