dear senator binay

21 November 2014

Dear Sen. Binay,

Earlier this week, you released a statement to the press containing your thoughts, speculations, theories and guesses on things surrounding the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center. This comes after you participated in the Senate hearing on the same subject – a hearing which to many was an utter waste of time due to the abject lack of basis for the accusations of malfeasance that were made.

It is sad to note that you again make the same accusations without proof of any kind. Further, the conclusions (if they can be called that) that you make in your statement are simply devoid of logic much less solid reasoning. Conclusions which a 7-year old (okay, I exaggerate) can tear apart like the wrapper on their Christmas gifts.

While we do not begrudge your duty to investigate anomalies, we, the taxpayers who pay your salary, surely should not be begrudged our right to expect more from a Senator of the Republic. The conduct of any investigation, as you know, should begin with a solid appreciation of the facts before one should even come to a suspicion of misconduct. An even higher standard is expected before a conclusion can be made. Surely you must know that a convention center will be a boon to the hotel industry of any locale. Oh wait – actually you don’t. Your statement exposes your ignorance and only serves to highlight the misgivings of many at having you as a Senator of the Republic.

You ask how Megaworld can dictate to government the use of donated land. How do you think Makati was built? Did the government then dictate to the private sector how things should be done? Yes, government is supposed to regulate the private sector to curb their excesses. But how excessive is it to ask that the ICC design be in conformity with the over-all design of the Megaworld which after all will be based on a theme re-creating Old Iloilo? How can a design based on the Paraw (a truly Ilonggo icon) be disadvantageous to the city of Iloilo? Do you even know that the land upon which the Rizal Memorial Stadium stands will revert back to the estate of its private benefactor if it is used for any other purpose other than for a sports facility?

It is really simple – you cannot impose upon a benefactor as long as what the benefactor asks for is within the bounds of law. Anyone who does is an ingrate.

I sincerely hope that you exercise restraint when making accusations. We understand you are young and have a lot to learn. But please think before you do or say things for in this case you have not only cast aspersions on those you accuse of impropriety, you have also insulted private Filipino citizens who conceptualized and are working on this project. If it’s not too much to ask, having a seasoned mentor would be helpful in guiding you as you mature into the dignified Senator that the office that you hold demands. On the other hand, if you strongly believe that such maturation is not required, then God help us all.




explaining binay

I am 72 years old. I will be 73 when I take office. I will be 79 when I leave office. You have always had a chip on your shoulder. You tragically lost your parents early. Yet you soldiered on. You may or may not have realized it but you were always going up a mountain fighting the next battle. Wrongly, people looked down upon you because of your physical stature and the color of your skin. You outgrew the challenges of being an orphan. You did well enough in school to graduate from the best law school in the country. But even then, you identified with those who were oppressed and for fighting for them you suffered through incarceration. Then the fates intervened. A lady so impressed with and admiring of your standing with the downtrodden, appointed you the Mayor of the richest city in the country. It was probably something you did not aspire for nor even dreamt of. But here was your chance to uplift the lives of even a few of those whom you had valiantly fought for in the halls of justice. But then, you find yourself in the company of the richest of the rich

photo credit:

photo credit:

in the country. The very people whom you may have begrudged not for their wealth but for their apathy during the struggle against the dictator. They ignore you – bringing back those dark memories of the lonely feeling that you did not belong. So you ignore them in turn. You turn your energies towards doing good for your people – the poor, the downtrodden, those who need help the most. But it soon becomes old. You desperately crave to be accepted by those who have ignored you. Those rich people in their gated enclaves within your city. It starts with a little grease money here and a little over there. You rationalize it as being like Robin Hood. I will take from those who have and give it back to those who don’t. Then you start keeping a little for yourself. It’s only a small part. No harm can come out of it. You begin to acquire the trappings of wealth. You soon notice that those whom you have despised begin to notice you more. You think it’s the money. Inevitably it becomes an addiction – the wealth and the seeming power and influence that it gives you. You correctly associate your position as the source of all that power. You fear losing it so you decide to keep it in the family. Your dominion over this city is total. You have cemented your hold on it. Soon the possibility of higher office becomes realistic. You never dreamt nor planned it to be this way. Again, you start out as the underdog and are not taken seriously. But you’ve been at this long enough to know what it takes to win. You are scrappy. You don’t take things for granted. You work hard. You have that chip on your shoulder that drives you forward. You will prove them wrong and shock the entire nation. And that – you do. You now hold the second-highest office in the land. In your giddiness, you announce your intention to seek the highest office in the nation. In your mind, that will put you in a position to help even more of those who you identify with – the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden. Maybe you think that you will now be able to rationalize all the shortcuts that you took. To make amends for those morally and ethically-challenged choices that you may made. For in the end, I will be able to make it all good. Indeed, the end justifies the means. You are two years away from the ultimate prize. You are sailing along nicely. The people seem to like you. The surveys show they trust you. It seems so easy. Then out of the woodwork comes ghosts from your past. You believe it’s going to be okay. You ignore these because you’ve handled these in the past. These will go away. But then, it doesn’t go away. It becomes bigger. You begin to think – how dare these people take away my destiny. The little voice in your head begins to worry that these may take away your way out. Your way out of those questionable choices that you may have made in your past. You want to confront them. Your people say no. You insist. Without your telling them, you offer a public challenge to the bane of your current existence. Then you realize that there is no escaping your past. You begin to look for a way out but there seems none. Your minions go through the motions of acting on the challenge that you made. Then, out of the blue, you are offered a way out and you take it. Actually you begin to tire of it all. This whole thing is spinning out of control. You begin to get real tired. You are 72. This whole thing begins to grind on you. Your children are being ridiculed. Things are becoming very difficult. You feel very lonely. Yet – the ultimate prize is still within sight. Then I start thinking – is it worth all this? I am 72 years old. I will be 73 when I take office. I will be 79 when I leave office.

dear boy

“It pains me to tell the whole nation that Iloilo City has become the bird’s nest of corruption in the country…”

– Manuel “Boy” Mejorada

Dear Boy,

You probably didn’t realize the import of those words you said when you said them at the time you said them. But you said what you said and you will never live those words down until the day you die. Whatever personal axe you have to grind against those you accuse of corruption, you had no right to besmirch and place disrepute upon the collective honor of the citizens of Iloilo City.

People will remember what you said. You called people stupid for calling for you to be declared persona non grata in Iloilo City. Stupid because you say such only applies in diplomatic circles. For a learned man like you to take such calls literally is pretty ignorant don’t you say? I don’t think a city council resolution is required to let you know that you are not welcome in Iloilo City. Yes – you may have lived in Iloilo City for quite some time but you are not from here. It is not far-fetched to think that you will be shunned in circles that you had presumptuously aspired to be a part of. You will be an outcast in a city upon which you have brought shame. We cannot even say that you are a disgrace to Ilonggos because again you are not from here.

Your thoughtless and inconsiderate acts will not be forgiven. The venom by which your name has been cursed in the past couple of days is unprecedented coming from the normally reticent Ilonggos. You should consider yourself lucky if you only wind up being the butt of jokes (Wikipedia?).

Your calling yourself an “investigative journalist” insults many in that profession. Noli de Castro and Ted Failon in their morning show today could only do so much not to burst out laughing or spew unprintable invectives at your calling yourself such. Wikipedia?

I hope you find it in yourself to reflect and maybe realize the raw nerve that you hit. Maybe you can find it in yourself to say “I’m sorry” even if you do it in the silence of your heart with God as your only other witness.

The people you accuse of those shenanigans will probably be okay because they have done nothing wrong. What will take longer to heal will be the hurt you have caused to those who have tirelessly, and without seeking credit, worked to make Iloilo City a better place. Those people who continue to work to make Iloilo City a place that it could be.

The people of Iloilo City are too decent to spit in your face for what you have done. But they will turn their backs on you. You will find doors shut. You will hear people whispering around you. You will feel their dagger looks on your back. That is what becoming an outcast is like Boy. That is what being persona non grata feels like Boy.

Maybe you will be okay being that outcast but I doubt it. You may have gotten your 15 minutes of fame. You may gotten the attention that you craved. But such will be fleeting. Then you will find yourself back to being the unemployed “investigative journalist” that you have been waiting for your next gullible sugar-daddy to make you his paid hack. Such is the lonely, morally-bankrupt life that you face.

If things are not yet clear, let me make it so – you are not welcome in Iloilo City so go back from whence you came from – “idiot”!



who is manuel “boy” mejorada?

Excerpt from an opinion piece in the November 13th, 2014 edition of Panay News.

Everybody in Iloilo knows that he started to make big money when he joined the staff of then congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco, only to end up filing cases against the latter.

screenhunter_01-oct-02-12-54When Niel Tupas Sr. became governor of Iloilo, he employed Boy as provincial administrator, where the latter was in position to make “overpriced transactions” with contractors and suppliers. He was reported to have purchased for his office a P40,000 Acer laptop at the cost of P100,000-plus.

When Tupas “graduated” in 2010, Boy got back to media work. He also sought the help of Senator Drilon, who hired him consultant for the Iloilo River rehabilitation in the meantime. What Boy wanted Drilon to do though was to recommend him to be either TESDA regional director or Iloilo City administrator. Unfortunately, he did not qualify for both positions.

Whether or not he resigned, or was sacked, from his consultancy job, we do not know. What we know is that he started writing against Drilon and Iloilo City’s Mayor Jed Mabilog.

He also cried “unexplained wealth” against businessman Rommel Ynion in 2012, whose house was allegedly so long one had to ride a golf cart from end to end. That he ended up Ynion’s “praise release” writer when the man ran against Mabilog in 2013 remains a mystery to this day.

But who are we to judge Boy Mejorada?


The legal system doesn’t work. Or more accurately, it doesn’t work for anyone except those with the most resources.

– Lawrence Lessig

Justice remains the tool of a few powerful interests; legal interpretations will continue to be made to suit the convenience of the oppressor powers.

– Che Guevara

TANAUAN CITY – When you do a Google search of the number of lawyers in the Philippines you will not find a definitive number. Estimates can range from 40,000 to over 100,000. An ABA (American Bar Association) Journal article dated September, 1992 estimated that there are 16.74 lawyers per 10,000 population in the Philippines. This translates to about 96,088 Filipino lawyers as of that date. An average of about 1,200 examinees pass the Philippine Bar every year. At the mortality rate for the Philippines as a whole about 200 lawyers pass away every year. My inexact arithmetic would say that we would now have about 120,000 lawyers in the Philippines. You could go to the Supreme Court website or even the membership rolls of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. I am sure they add on the number of lawyers that pass the bar every year to the rolls but I don’t know how current they are with those who have passed away, migrated somewhere or stopped practicing for some reason. Either way, there are a lot of lawyers in the Philippines.

A report released in June of last year by the National Statistical Coordination Board revealed that lower Philippine Courts handle over a million cases a year including new and old (backlogged) cases. As of the report date, the number of new cases filed in 2012 still exceeded the number of cases that are disposed meaning that the backlog of unresolved cases continues to grow.

Despite many pronouncements to address this, we remain where we are. Section 15 (1), Article VIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution unequivocally states “All cases or matters filed after the effectivity of this Constitution must be decided or resolved within twenty-four months from date of submission for the Supreme Court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme Court, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months for all other lower courts.” In a paper authored by Dean Alfredo Tadiar entitled “Unclogging the Court Dockets”, he said “Despite such deadlines, even the Supreme Court has not complied.”  Does this mean that all Justices of the Supreme Court from 1987 should have been impeached for culpable violation of the Constitution? What about the Justices for the lower courts? You hear one or two cases of this happening but yet, delays in court proceedings still happen.

We are coming up on the 5th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre. As of today, 1,814 days without justice. Maybe we should amend the Constitution to read “All cases or matters filed after the effectivity of this Constitution must be decided or resolved within twenty-four months from date of submission for the Supreme Court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme Court, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months from the date of filing (of complaint or information) for all other lower courts.” 

We cannot remain like this. If the system is irretrievably broken perhaps we should change the system. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” The Philippine legal system is getting close to becoming this obstruction. For many Filipinos, the laws of the land have no meaning in their life for it has not served to improve their standard of living. If anything, people come in contact with the law only when they face its negative attributes.

The rule of law requires that people should be governed by accepted rules, rather than by the arbitrary decisions of rulers. These rules should be general and abstract, known and certain, and apply equally to all individuals.

Many of our laws because of the way they have been interpreted by courts now seem to be arbitrary despite the good intentions of their authors. Many of our laws are not known to many of our people and are used to oppress those whom the law should protect. The purpose of the law is to advance the general welfare of people. The purpose of the law is to protect people’s rights and basic liberties. Have we lost sight of these?

papano na yung papaano: a framework for a way forward

TANAUAN CITY – The paper below was written in December 1, 2009. Where are we now? There have been things that have worked as planned, things that did not go down as well as expected, things that were excluded, mistakes that have been committed and maybe things that were not thought of and therefore not done.

It is sad to note that there has not been a dent made on poverty incidence and hunger. If anything, they have gotten worse ( Government exists to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Despite the over-all economic growth, the benefits have not been felt by those who really need it. It is here that we appear to have failed. We have failed because we have not been bold enough to do more to upset the status quo. The rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer. Will the next president do any better? It is unfortunate but there does not appear to be someone in the horizon with the heart, the mind and the will to do so.


cropped-filipino_child_watching1.jpgI have never seen, at least in my lifetime, a Philippine presidential or indeed, any electoral contest for that matter, where a candidate has presented to the electorate “the how” for achieving the grandiose plans and goals that he/she is proposing for all the madla to hear. If we truly are to TRANSFORM (your words) our country, it would be nice to start with a robust (as opposed to the mababaw) game plan beyond all those motherhood statements.

My intent with this paper is not to prescribe the solutions to the various ills that afflict our nation but rather to begin (or continue, if you’ve started the thinking already) the process of thinking of these solutions which conform (or maybe re-form) the ideals of the Liberal Party. As such, this paper will raise a lot of points to ponder and generate the questions that need to be asked.

The idea is to answer these questions to be able to concretize thoughts in a structured and holistic manner. This is also where outside input need to be sought for specific policies that will be pursued. We should recognize that we do not have a monopoly of ideas and seek these out. Nevertheless, it is important to make sure during this process to continue to critically assess these inputs as to their congruence with the candidates’ and the party’s ideals.

Hopefully, all these will allow action to be taken from Day One of the Noynoy presidency.

From a campaign point of view, a robust plan provides a disciplined template from which messages can be transmitted. It allows the campaign to go on the offensive by taking some control of the way the electorate will hear from the candidates. Mas madali mag-project ng sincerity kung yung sinasabi mo ay natutugma sa nararamdaman mo at may confidence ka na magagawa mo talaga ang mga sinasabi mo.

It puts the other candidates on the defensive should they hew to what has been the norm of spewing motherhood statements or plans of government which are put together on the fly. It will also allow Noynoy’s campaign to spot inconsistencies in the other candidates’ messages without having to worry about them doing the same.

Having said all that, here is my attempt at putting this road-map together.

1. The Premise

I start with very basic premise that Noynoy and Mar are in this to improve the lives of each and every Filipino.

At the end of the day, this is what I think should be the foremost and the most basic motivation for this presidential campaign.

The rest are just symptoms of problems (e.g. improve peace and order, reduce corruption, provide jobs, etc.).

It is not to improve the lives of just some Filipinos but all Filipinos. This is the ideal and we will likely fall short of this ideal. Moreover, a lot of how this plays out will be based on the perception of the individual (are you better off now than you were before Noynoy’s presidency?). Nevertheless, that shouldn’t stop us from striving for this ideal and try to improve the lives of as many Filipinos as we can.

It is important for Mar buy into this, as well as what follows. The opportunity that is before us could provide 12 years of “transformational” governance. Six years will probably not be enough to (1) undo what has become status quo over generations, and (2) build, strengthen and institutionalize governance that will be our legacy to our children, grandchildren and beyond.

2. How do we know that we are making a difference and improving the lives of each and every Filipino?

(Forgive me for couching this section in some basic economic numeracy).

It is very important that we have one key measure to track the progress of our ideal of improving the lives of each and every Filipino.

I propose that this should be GDP per capita.

I am perfectly aware that not everything is about money but as has been said – “money can’t buy happiness but it sure helps.” I would also argue that this measure provides a simple unifying metric by which progress in most (if not all) other areas of governance can be directly or indirectly linked or related. As an example, a proposal to improve peace and order could be linked to economic well-being by allowing commerce to be undertaken in a more stable environment that could provide jobs to Filipinos. Another example, a proposal to reform the judiciary could be linked to economic well-being by allowing more investments by investors who will have more confidence in the rule of law in the conduct of business. And so on and so forth…

It is also necessary to supplement this over-all metric with other measures that would track the contribution of the lower economic strata of the population to an improvement in the over-all GDP per capita. This could be something along the lines of an index of poverty incidence. I do not totally subscribe to the idea that a widening of the income gap is bad by itself but it should be the aim of governance to focus resources on providing opportunities to those who lack for these. By so doing, we help the individual improve him or herself.

3. How do we improve GDP per capita?

There are two components to this measure – GDP and population.

Let me tackle the population issue first. This is an issue that Noynoy already has a firm opinion and stand on so it should be easy for him to continue to articulate that position in relation to improving the well-being of the Filipino. His opinion also happens to coincide with having a positive effect on the GDP per capita metric i.e. slowing the rate of population growth will improve GDP per capita (assuming GDP grows at a faster rate than population growth).

4. How do we improve the economy i.e. GDP?

The ability of a nation’s economy to flourish depends on the environment and infrastructure that exists to support such growth.

I enumerate here some of these environmental supports:

a. Fiscal Policy
• What are our budgetary priorities?
o How do we make our budget more efficient? Eliminate waste?
• How do we improve revenue generation and sustainability?

b. Monetary Policy
• Not much needs to be done here except to appoint the right people to the BSP and respect their independence.

c. Physical Infrastructure
• Rather than build infrastructure for show, we should target infrastructure spending to maximize its multiplier effect on the economy.
• It is sad to note that many of our roads, bridges and other such infrastructure are sub-standard and inadequate. This needs to be addressed.
• The presence and conversely, the absence of quality infrastructure not only has economic effects but also leads to quality of life issues for our citizens who have to navigate and suffer through daily traffic grid-locks, haphazard construction practices (e.g. street diggings, open man-holes, etc.) and the like.

d. Knowledge and Education
• We continue to go through the annual rituals of complaining about the lack of classrooms, the decline in the quality of education, lack of funds, etc.
• In the meantime, we are being left behind in thinking about how to prepare our citizens for the changing global dynamic

e. Governance Factors
• How do we tackle graft and corruption other than forming another committee?
o Graft and corruption is encouraged by the example of the leadership.
o It is also a function of the mentality of going with the status quo. Changing this mindset calls for new ideas.
o Lastly, it is a function of the level of wages being earned by government employees.
 Raise wages by reducing size of government through attrition and redirecting savings to increasing salaries (I know, easier said than done but we have to start somewhere).
• How do we encourage the Supreme Court (as administrator of the country’s judicial system) to continue to clean up its ranks?
o How do we encourage the Supreme Court to “speed up” the wheels of justice”
• How do we maintain peace and order?

f. The protection of the environment

Many in the private sector are now making environmental protection a key corporate governance measure. This ensures the sustainability of their businesses. On a broader scale, the national government should strongly espouse the protection of the environmental for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.

I do not claim to have a monopoly of ideas and I’m sure that I may have missed out on some things but again my aim is not to be comprehensive but to provide a template for a start.

5. What about the social ills of society?

I will not make a judgment as to whether the social ills that plague our nation have gotten worse over the past several years. I would like to focus instead on the light at the end of the tunnel which is a speeding train.

We take pride in our OFWs and for 10 years until coming home this year, I was one of them. We have to admit, however, that most of these OFWs are outside the country because of economic necessity and the lack of opportunity. For this reason, the social impact of these OFW deployments should be unacceptable and shameful to our national leaders.

How many families have we heard or seen break up because of the separation of husband and wife? How are we addressing the transformation of our society where the recent predominance of female OFWs has challenged our traditional family structure? How are we caring for our children at a time when one (or even both) parents are away? Are we willing to let this be our continuing future and risk the further deterioration of our familial and social structures?

We should take it upon ourselves as a challenge to bring these OFWs back with better opportunities back home. Ask almost each and every OFW out there – “if you were given the chance and the same opportunity, would you rather stay here or go home to the Philippines?” Some of us who have been out there have been fortunate enough to have answered the question by coming home. So many more cannot.

Again, framing a platform for government in this manner may not suit many people – I argue that because of its simplicity and disciplined structure, it will be easy to communicate and more importantly, it will be doable.




TANAUAN CITY – You don’t expect a lot from Philippine politicians. Many have no idea about the real meaning of serving the people. In general, the concept of serving the people revolves around political patronage – a type of corruption or favoritism in which a party in power rewards groups, families, ethnicities for their electoral support using illegal gifts or fraudulently awarded appointments or government contracts. It has been cited that in certain cases, political patronage can actually be helpful in facilitating policy coordination, bureaucratic bargaining and reduces the potential for open conflict. In the Philippine setting, however, political patronage keeps people enslaved and the community unable to engender real inclusive growth. It keeps people permanently impoverished.

Many politicians particularly those in the local government units have had no formal education nor do they understand what being a public servant should be. Many are well-meaning but lack the capacity to discern the bigger picture.

It is very rare to have a situation where the majority of stakeholders in a particular community is aligned in trying to do what’s best for their community. It is even rarer for such an alignment to last for quite some time. And, it is like striking oil when such alignment in goals actually gets translated into tangible action. That is what we have in the city and province of Iloilo. Something uncommon.

Thus, it is disturbing, to say the least, to have these questions about the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center. In its conceptual phase, I was asked to arrange a meeting with a large Philippine property developer with the intent of finding donated land upon which the Convention Center was going to be built. I’m sure if he had wanted to, Sen. Drilon would have been able to procure the necessary funding to acquire the land. Yet, his thought was to get the private sector involved so that “ownership” of this project would go beyond just the government. It was imperative to do this because most government projects rot away after construction due to the lack of funding to maintain these projects. Expanding “ownership” of this project to other stakeholders would give the Convention Center a fighting chance of being there for the people of Iloilo long after its proponents are gone. With more people (instead of just government) caring for it, the chances of it falling into disrepair becomes drastically reduced. Finally, with the private sector involved, the government did not have to do and spend for everything.

Why is a convention center necessary for Iloilo City? That is a valid question to ask given our experience with government “white elephants” and “Imeldific” monuments. Tourism (business and leisure) is a key component of development that stakeholders in the city decided early on was critical. A systematic assessment of the city’s capacity to promote both types of tourism revealed many deficiencies which at that time included the lack of hotel rooms, the erratic power supply situation, the growing congestion of the city’s roads and other infrastructural issues. On the business tourism side, the inadequacy of convention-hosting facilities was also highlighted.

Local government, the business community and other stakeholders whether consciously or unconsciously (mostly consciously) gravitated towards a plan to address these shortcomings 10603309_844687968886294_4505046715727587986_nover time. New hotels have sprouted all over the city, the power supply situation was addressed with new power plants, new road networks were built along with other needed improvements (e.g. the Iloilo River Esplanade). Yes – we still have problems in water distribution (the supply side is being addressed with the Jalaur River Project), power distribution remains a challenge, but for the most part things have gone in the direction that the original planners (both government and private sector) had set – much to the surprise of many.

While local businesses began this transformation, investment coming from outside Iloilo City, notably from Ayala Land and Megaworld, has accelerated the trajectory of the development. This concerted push to attract investments to the City in conjunction with the Provinces of Iloilo and Guimaras began as far back as August of 2009 with the holding of the Iloilo Investment Forum at the InterContinental Hotel in Makati. All this continues to this day.

My point is this – with so many well-meaning interests watching over this project, of which the Iloilo Convention Center is just one component (albeit an important one), any malfeasance on the part of any stakeholder would not have gone unnoticed. This entire production will cap a life’s work for the many who truly care for Iloilo City. These people who have worked tirelessly in the background for so many years felt so aggrieved by these accusations (and it’s not even against them) that they came out with a letter of support for Sen. Drilon.

Boy Mejorada was never a part of this. It is easy to criticize and file cases but really, what did you do when you were in a position to do something for Iloilo? I will take Raul Banias any time.