Pimentel: Gov’t Lacks Solid Plans for Development of Philippines

Apr. 19, 2007


[Talk of Sen. Nene Pimentel before the Philippine
Business Leaders Forum, Manila Polo Club, April 19,

Before we talk of the future of governance, let us
first discuss its present state.

The state of governance today is, to say the least,

Governance today is over burdened by, at least, three
Cs: confusion, corruption and constitutional


The administration today lacks solid plans for the
development of the nation.

What it has are rhetorical plans. Probably it is
better to call them game plans. These are plans that
are publicly enunciated but when they clash with the
self-interests of a favored few or are opposed by
vested interests, they are scuttled without so much as
by your leave.

Here are three facile examples:

1. POWER RATES. Before the 2004 elections, the
president lowered NAPOCOR power rates obviously to
curry favor with the electorate. As a result,
NAPOCORs financial position deteriorated and caused
an increase in the public sector deficit.

It was bad policy. It was pure political gimmickry.
After the elections, she had to cause NAPOCORs power
rates to rise to higher levels.

2. RICE POLICY. the government policy on rice is not
to import rice except to stabilize prices or forestall
famine. Yet, we have to import rice every once so

That I cannot understand. We have a country that has
advanced technology (IRRI) to produce rice double,
treble or quadruple that of the traditional way. We
also have sufficient land for it. The exception has
now become the rule.

I am afraid that some highly placed people believe
that it is much easier to directly import rice, sell
it and make money for themselves than to help rice
farmers to plant, sell and make money on locally
produced rice.

What happened to the government policy on rice is
happening today to the government policy on
agricultural modernization. The presidents
pronouncements that it is a centerpiece of her
administration are not matched by the funding support
that it gets.

3. Budget airlines. The administration has time and
again announced that it would support the growth of
budget airlines in the country in line with global

After the sanguine announcements of support, what
happened was that the president issued Executive Order
No. 500-A dated January 27, 2006 restricting the
operations of budget airlines from much of the travel
destinations in Asia.

The executive order constrains the growth of our
international airports and dampens the entrepreneurial
spirit of local business willing to invest in budget
airline operations. It also projects a negative image
of the country as one where national economic policies
can be twisted to favor certain vested interests.

These examples lead us to the second C that burdens
governance so.


Last March 13, the Political and Economic Risk
Consultancy released a report that tags the country as
the most corrupt in this part of Asia.

As if that was not enough, the US Trade
Representatives Office submitted a National Trade
Estimate report recently to the US Congress. The
report says that government corruption in the
Philippines is pervasive.

PERC and the US Trade Representatives Office stress
the obvious. These foreign observations merely
validate what local eyes have witnessed for a long
time. A foreigner appears to have captured the
peoples disenchantment with his observation that
People are tired of the inaction and the insincerity
of leading officials when they promise to fight

In September of last year, the World Bank report,
Governance Matters 2006, stated that the country has
faltered over the past eight years in governance and
in curbing corruption.

Bureaucratic stench

The stench of corruption is literally oozing through
the interstices of the bureaucracy.

And the stinking trail leads to the doorsteps of
Malacanang. A quote from US president Harry Truman is
an apt description of who, in the end, is responsible:
The buck stops here. Ultimately, the president is to

It is difficult to exculpate the president from all
the colossal corruption going on in her
administration. If the president is not involved in
the massive corruption, it is curious, to say the
least, why she is completely unable or shall we say,
unwilling – to stop it.


This is where the 3rd C that hobbles governance
comes in.

Constitutional contortions

A major reason why the President is incapable of
waging a credible fight against corruption is that she
herself was caught with her finger in the electoral
cookie jar, so to speak, in the 2004 presidential
election. But rather than resign, the president
engages in Constitutional contortions to stay in

As a backgrounder, let me say that among other things,
she used Commission on Elections officials
(Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, for instance, and
other subordinate officers) to manufacture election
data in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao that
made up for her enormous electoral setbacks elsewhere
in the country.

Stolen election

In my view, there is no question that she stole the
2004 presidential election.

No president in our history has ever won a
presidential election without winning in Luzon.

In 2004, the president lost to Fernando Poe in the 13
municipalities and cities of Metro Manila except in
one municipality, Las Pinas. She also lost in all of
the 32 provinces of Luzon including Pangasinan, Cavite
and Laguna except in 7 provinces that include Batanes
and Masbate.

In the Visayas, it was the questioned votes in Iloilo,
Cebu, and Bohol and the manufactured votes in some
provinces and cities in Mindanao that made up for her
enormous losses in the rest of the country.

Because she is an interloper in Malacanang, she does
not have the support of the people.

When the president of a democratic country like ours
grabs power by cheating in the elections as she did,
her hold on power can only be tenuous.

Gun power

Because unrelenting questions dog the legitimacy of
her presidency, she now relies on the armed components
of government power to stabilize her administration.
She can no longer bank on the time-honored democratic
principle of the Rule of Law. Thus, she now uses the
time-tested totalitarian principle that power flows
out of the barrel of the gun.

Hence, the incumbent president leans for support on
the armed forces and the police.

Instead of running the country pursuant to the Rule of
Law, the president now rules it by the gun.

Through the armalites of the armed forces and the
police under the command of select officers, she
prevents people from airing their grievances against
the administration even in a peaceful manner. In the
guise of maintaining order, she thrashes the
Constitutional rights of the people to free speech and
peaceful assembly.

It is armalite-wielding men who abduct protestors
against government policies. Some of the victims wind
up in military or police safe houses where they are
tortured and subjected to indignities. Others simply

Extrajudicial killings

And as everybody in this country knows, it is also
armalite-bearing hoodlums who commit extrajudicial
killings with abandon. Bishop Arturo Bastes of
Sorsogon recently told me that on one day alone 14
people were extrajudicially killed in the different
towns of his diocese. Just days ago, the Inquirer
reported that extrajudicial killers murdered their
843rd victim since 2001, the year Mrs. Arroyo became

And how does the president earn the support of the top
echelon of the armed forces and the police? By
assuring them of funds officially and I am told,
sometimes unofficially – while they are in office and
after their stints are over, juicy civilian posts
await them at the discretion of the president.

These political acrobatics buy time for the president
in that for the moment, she exercises a semblance of
control over the privileged generals of the armed
forces and the police. Malacaang watchers, however,
think that it is she who is controlled by the
generals. That is why the militarization of the
barangays even in the metropolis goes on despite the
failure to comply with the constitutional mandate
that, among other things, leaves the maintenance of
law and order not to the armed forces but to the
civilian authorities that run the police. And that is
also why there has been no serious effort to weed out
corruption from the ranks of the armed forces and the

Future of governance

What, then, is the future of governance in the
country? It is not too rosy. I shy away from using the
word bleak because that is too pessimistic.

So, I will just say that judging from the palpable
missteps of the administration, we can probably essay
an educated conjecture that the future of governance
is not rosy either in the short run or in the long

The short run covers the period between today and the
May elections.

The long run covers the period after the elections up
to 2010, the end of the presidents term.

In the short run, heres what I see taking place in
the country.

Win May elections

The president as the chief executive of the land will
be guided only by one consideration: to win the May
elections at all costs. To that end:

1. She will pour out government and other funds to
which she has access to ensure that her candidates
especially for the House of Representatives win big.

One example is the reported release of a P1 billion
ostensibly to fund the rehabilitation of a
congressional district in Camarines Sur that was
devastated by typhoon, Reming. Is it too much of a
coincidence, we ask, that her son, Dato, is running
for congressman in the district? P1 billion released
for the reconstruction of the district is a facile way
of paving his road to victory in the districts
congressional race.

And why her total support for her congressional
candidates? The answer is that she wants to forestall
a possible impeachment scenario when congress opens in

2. She will look the other way if illicit money
jueteng and smuggling flows into the campaign
coffers of her local candidates.

3. As she did in the past, she will raid the OWWA
funds, the Road Users Tax money, sundry agricultural
development funds, and other sources of government
revenue to promote her candidates.

Public services degenerate

In the meantime, public services will degenerate into
political patronage: if you are with the
administration, you will get some of the largesse. If
not, you will just have to wait for better times.

4. Corruption and the extrajudicial killings will go
on unabated and dominate not only the current
electoral season but also the years up to the end of
the presidents term.

Which brings us to the long-term scenario.

Mutual benefit

The president will be unable to stop corruption or the
killings because she and some of the key leaders of
the armed forces and the police mutually benefit from
the situation. Through their guns, select officers of
both armed agencies assure her stay in power and while
in power, she in turn will take care of them. It is a
classic case of I scratch your back, you scratch mine.

After the elections, public services will deteriorate.
At some point the people will complain against the
administration. The intensity of their complaints
could bring about acts of repressions of the people
through the Human Security Act which, incidentally,
becomes effective two months after the elections.

No change

I do not see a change in the way the president governs
the nation. Not in the next few weeks after the May 14
elections or in the years of her remaining term that
ends in 2010.

The thievery will continue under new pretences. The
killings will go on in the name of state security. The
result will be an over all misgovernance that will
shake the foundations of our national development.

People power

Will people power rise up in response to the
misgovernment of the president? Say within weeks or a
few months after the elections in May?

It depends on what happens during the elections.

If blatant cheating occurs, it is conceivable that the
people will rise up in anger and pressure the
president to step down.

Will the people rise up in arms against the

It depends on the scale of the provocation with which
the administration infuriates the people.

If the level of cheating in the elections is blatantly
massive and is accompanied by brutal repressions of
the peoples right to demand redress of their
grievances, it is within the realm of the probable
that the people would take up in arms against the

A split

At that point, the split in the ranks of the military
and the police that has already begun – may be hard
to camouflage or cover up.

And that rupture might just trigger a national
upheaval that cannot be staved off by all the guile
that has thus far kept the president in power.

Let me recall what happened to Marcos, the undisputed
martial law strongman, in 1986. After the people saw
indisputable proof of election cheating and palpable
violence that distorted their electoral will, there
was no stopping their demand for the ouster of the
then president.


In sum, bad governance today will beget more bad
governance tomorrow in the short as well as in the
long run.

With a president more concerned with appearances than
with substance, there is no way things will change for
the better. Like a zebra that cannot change its
stripes, the president is doomed to her bumbling way
of managing the affairs of the country.

With bad governance, stability will elude the country.
The armed challenges from the communist rebels1 and
the Moro secessionists2 will continue.

Without stability founded on respect for human rights
and constitutional precepts, the country will plod on
to achieve a modicum of modernization while the rest
of Southeast Asia races towards full development.
Societal services in the country will decompose into
rotten partisan power plays. In fine, at the end of
the term of the president, the country would most
likely still be derisively described as the sick man
of Asia.

I guess there will still be investments foreign and
local coming our way. We need investments to provide
jobs for our people. But considering the
circumstances, these will at best tentative or probing
rather than investments that are made to stay.

The prognosis is dire. And anything that is dire
relative to our countrys development will be bad for
our people. Because I wish our people well, not ill, I
hope I am wrong.

1 Alleviation of social ills is one solution to the
Communist rebellion.
2 Theres an ongoing shooting war in Sulu today.
Federalism is the solution to the centuries old Moro

****** INBOX is an archive of press releases, statements, announcements, letters to the editors, and manifestos sent to Davao Today for publication. Please email your materials to davaotoday@gmail.com. Davao Today reserves the right to edit or refuse material for publication. *****

comments powered by Disqus