Archive for the ‘Erap’ Category


Smartmatic/TIM PCOS machines: Will they work to contract specifications today?

The Philippine Star reports today that “foreign investors have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, putting on hold or temporarily withdrawing their investments in the Philippines due to jitters over today’s elections, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo.

Gunigundo is quoted saying: “We continue to see inflows from the external markets. Perhaps if there will be – we don’t have the numbers yet – it is because of election jitters”.

He also pointed out that foreign investors could have adopted a wait-and-see attitude because of the uncertainties brought about by the May 10 elections.

Guinigundo said the jitters could have forced investors in the financial and equities markets to temporarily pull out their investments in the Philippines.

What Gunigundo had observed are signs of the political-business cycle in the Philippines, a phenomenon identified years earlier by UP School of Economics dean Noel de Dios.  Post-1987, the cycle theoretically repeats every six years, that is, every time a new president is elected.  Since the Philippine president is restricted to a single term, investors apparently adopt a wait-and-see stance in the early months of the term of the new president to discern his (or her) general policy preferences and programme.  Then as the policy landscape firms up, investments (including portfolio) will come back in.

Investors may also opt to exit before the presidential elections so they may not be forcibly locked in during the early term of the incoming national chief executive.  This is insurance in case the new president adopts policies unfriendly to capital.

It is an empirical matter whether the cycle was observed since the year 2000.  If we may recall, President Estrada’s grip on power started slipping when his erstwhile ally, Gov. Chavit Singson, started singing about jueteng payolas in late 2000.  Then it was almost a fast break to his derailed impeachment and his eventual ouster in January 2001.  I surmise that capital left the country in late 2000 and adopted a cautious attitude through the first three quarters 2001 as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had to consolidate her grip on power in the light of the challenge of the poor people uprising of April-May 2001.

I also hypothesize that capital adopted the same wary stance prior to the May 2004 presidential elections.  It would be curious to find out how capital behaved in response to the 2003 Oakwood mutiny , the ‘Hello Garci’ revelations and the political crisis generated in the middle of 2005 and the attempted coup of February 2006.  May I call on Noel de Dios to do the appropriate study.

If today’s elections will be concluded successfully, investors will have no cause for alarm because a presidency either by Noynoy Aquino or Manny Villar will mean the adoption of orthodox or centrist business policy.  Investors may be quite wary of a new Estrada presidency given the latter’s demonstrated propensity to give preference to his midnight cronies.

To be fair, investors may also be cautious about allegations regarding Villar’s use of governmental powers in favor of his own business interests.  If Villar wins the presidency, he will have to assigned his assets to a blind trust or to divest completely and convincingly to avoid tremendous conflict-of-interests issues.

Of course, if elected president, Noynoy must likewise disclose his assets, assign them to a blind trust or divest, and assure the electorate that he will not use or will not be used so his clan’s control over Hacienda Luisita will continue or that the Supreme Court will rule on the long-standing temporary restraining order against the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council’s ruling for distribution of Luisita land to its farm workers.

The last time we heard news about Hacienda Luisita is that it is heavily indebted.  Thus, we have to be assured by Noynoy that if he gets elected president, the estate will not get preferential credit especially from government financial institutions.

What exercises investors’ worries more than who will be the successor in the presidential palace are grave concerns regarding the automated electoral system adopted for the first time (without any piloting) amid all these news regarding malfunctioning PCOS machines, undelivered and untested flash cards, non-independently-verified machine source codes and the like.

The worry list is quite long.

Hence the prudential behavior of capital.


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Manny Villar trying to make a point

Would the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have given Manny Villar the extra ‘time of day’ if he was a mere private citizen and not the Senate president in 2007?

Villar claims he met PSE officials as a private citizen.

At the time, Villar met with the PSE board in June 2007 when he was the Senate president and called SEC officials regarding a now-controversial (secondary) public offering of shares of his real estate firm, Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc.

Now, Villar claims he did not violate any law since the PSE was a private entity and that the latter had the discretion to waive the so-called 180-day lock-up rule on the shares his family owned.  He also ‘explains’ that government did not lose any money from the deal.  In fact, he claims that government earned more than P100 million in taxes from the public offering.

The Vista land issue was recently brought to the public’s full attention by Erap’s camp even if talk about the controversial public offering was percolating since last year.

What irony!  When Erap was impeached for, among others, corruption charges re jueteng pay-offs, he exonerated himself by saying no government money was involved and thus no law was violated.

Villar was the same Speaker of the House who transmitted (ala Bicol express train chu chu!) the articles of impeachment against Erap to the Senate through an opening prayer. Talk about creativity! Talk about daring!

And now the tide has turned.  In response, the Villar camp reminds us all re Erap’s Best World caper and the ‘tamaan ka ng lintik‘ warning against then SEC chair, now Bangon Pilipinas vice presidential bet Perfecto ‘Jun’ Yasay, Jr.

This may all the case of the pot calling the kettle black and vice-versa.   However, black cooking vessels may still be capable of spewing truths.




GMA presiding over Lakas-Kampi-CMD national convention

We have entered what a recent American visitor (who briefed us on the vagaries of campaign finance and the implementation of electoral laws in the US) termed as the ‘silly season’ in the electoral campaign period.  The time when campaign messages take on a darker tone and when ‘rats’ start deserting ‘sinking ships’.

A clear casualty here is the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party what with all the defections, internal wranglings about the lack of campaign funds, and a lot of talk about the First Couple’s “secret candidate(s)”.

The ruling party’s travails is to be expected and is reminiscent of its fortunes in 1998.  Then, Lakas’ presidential bet was Jose de Venecia (JDV) but the obvious man to beat was Erap.  Then, the Lakas electoral campaign paled in comparison (in terms of reach and therefore of expenditure) to that waged by Erap’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

Common sense knowledge stipulates that money flows to the survey leaders and as the election day nears and leads are defined, then survey laggards get starved of resources.  So, if Dick Gordon wants to sue survey firms for conditioning minds, he has to do so on the premise that financiers based their ‘investment’ decisions on survey standings.

Lakas’ strength in 1998 was reduced by the defection of Renato de Villa and the formation of the Reforma party in support of his own presidential bid.  This after RDV failed to win the outgoing FVR’s endorsement.

But did the ruling party really go all out for JDV’s candidacy?

There are grounds to believe that not all of the ruling party members did so.  After all, they may reason, why throw good money for an unwieldy cause? Why support a losing candidacy? Better to keep the money and run!

The ruling party’s current travails stems from an earlier attempt at an ill-advised merger between Lakas-CMD and Kampi.  Lakas-CMD was perceived to be an FVR-JDV bastion while Kampi was supposed to be a GMA strong-hold.  The merger was not smooth and some big-time feathers were seriously ruffled, especially that of FVR, JDV (who was unseated as House speaker in the aftermath of the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal), and Kampi president Luis R. Villafuerte.

Afterwards, its weaknesses surface with the limitations of of its national line-up for the 2010 elections.  As in the 2007 elections, its senatorial slate (save for Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla and Lito Lapid) is populated by sure-losers.  It cannot even field a complete 12-person senatorial slate.

Then party presidential bet, Gibo, continues to register single-digit numbers survey after survey and VP bet, Edu Manzano, is a practical non-entity in these polls.

Again, if we go by recent history, who ever gets to be president by July 1 this year will determine the fate of all political parties.  Given current trends, Lakas will get relegated to the wings.  What strongly suggests such a fate are the signals emanating from GMA–signals which do not undoubtedly indicate support for Lakas’ presidential bet or that she has abandoned plans to stay on top of the political heap even after June 30, 2010.

If the Comelec denies Lakas’ bid  for dominant majority party status due to the numerous defections ahead of the May 10 polls, then that may be the proverbial last nail on its coffin.

I may have to qualify that last statement though since political parties in the Philippines have exhibited great resilience.  Lakas may weaken but it may not yet be on its way to the grave-yard.



Some twenty-four odd years after the ‘people power’ revolution of EDSA in the Philippines, the country’s democracy is still in trouble and illustrates the continuing problems of cosmetic change with unrevised socio-economic structure. The Philippines’ predicament mimics many of the post-authoritarian regimes created by the third and fourth waves of democratization. In Thailand where the ‘red’ crowds are currently occupying central Bangkok, for instance, the 2006 ouster of a similarly populist political leader (Thaksin Sinawatra) who did not seat well with the Bangkok urban set and the Thai king, mimicked the ouster of Erap Estrada in the Philippines in 2001, and has installed a military-dominated (but sanctioned by the king) regime.  The musical-chairs game in Ukraine seems to raise questions why the Orange Revolution was waged in the first place. It is thus warranted to re-examine the efficacy of the ‘people power’ route to democracy.

The post-Marcos record

The post-authoritarian government of Mrs. Aquino was an uneasy coalition between anti-Marcos civilians and military rebels and ‘reformists’. Critical of Aquino’s initial moves (e.g. freeing prominent CPP-NPA leaders and conducting peace talks with the communists), military rebels and Marcos loyalists repeatedly tried to topple her government up to December 1989 (Thompson 1996). Through these coup tries, Enrile and his military allies wanted to capture state power (which they failed to do in February 1986) for themselves. The US government opposed parlaying with the communists and worried that Aquino would close its military bases. Meanwhile, the communists scored significant propaganda gains through daily tri-media exposure during the peace talks, raising fears of an eventual leftist takeover or participation in a coalition government. The killing of several demonstrating peasants by the police in January 1987 ended peace negotiations and renewed the anti-insurgency drive.

Besieged by insurgents and military rebels, Aquino adopted the policy preferences of more powerful opponents and patrons. The resumption of anti-insurgency operations pleased the U.S. government and eroded the basis for military coups. Keeping options open earlier, she eventually favored retaining the American military bases. Business groups and big landowners were placated by the dismissal of a sympathetic-to-workers labor minister (and other left-leaning cabinet members) and a watered-down agrarian reform law. The regularization of government in 1987-1988, with the ratification of a new constitution and the consequent establishment of a legislature and reconstitution of local governments, returned previously disenfranchised politicians to power at various levels.

The peaceful assumption of the presidency by Fidel Ramos in 1992 and Joseph Estrada in 1998 marked a high point in the consolidation of Philippine democracy. However, chinks begun to show afterwards. A less-than-universally-acclaimed reprise of ‘people power’ ousted Estrada and installed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president in January 2001 (Lande 2001; Putzel 2001). Arroyo survived a ‘poor people power’ uprising in May 2001 and a military mutiny in July 2003 . She contested for the presidency in 2004, the first time for a post-Marcos incumbent to do so since the 1987 constitution has imposed a single-term limit. Apart from using government’s resources, there was a strong perception that she cheated to win the elections (Muego 2005). In mid-2005, wire-tapped conversations between her and a ranking Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer surfaced and insinuated padding of the count in her favor (Hedman 2006). While her government survived various challenges since then (including resignation of many cabinet members, two impeachment charges, and a coup attempt in February 2006), questions regarding her legitimacy continue to linger and contribute to political instability. In 2007, her government was scandalized by credible allegations of bribery and other corrupt acts. These developments raise serious doubts about the progress of Philippine democratization since February 1986.

To date, a final closure regarding the dictatorship has yet to be achieved. There is no Filipino equivalent of the truth and justice commissions organized elsewhere to pinpoint responsibility and prescribe ways to heal a divided and brutalized society. The AFP, torturers and all, was absolved of its human rights violations during the dictatorship for abandoning its commander-in-chief by merely donning an NAFP (N for new) insignia. The same is true for the US government. Their joint culpability was not even whispered about during the heady days after Marcos’ ouster. The Aquino government eventually allowed the re-entry and political rehabilitation of most of regime stalwarts after Marcos’ death in 1989. The accommodations and compromises reached after February 1986 suggest that the democratic transition was more of a pacto along the lines of the Brazilian case (Hagopian 1990) rather than a real ruptura as argued by Thompson (1996), or the ‘insurgent path’ in South Africa and El Salvador (Wood 2001). This means that the democratic transition in the Philippines continued rather than ended with Marcos’ exile.

However, the analysis of Philippine democratic transition should be distinguished from democracy’s problems. Obviously, the democratic institutions established after 1986 were clear improvements over the dictatorship (Thompson 1996). The effectiveness of civil resistance in ending authoritarianism is clear. However, it could not be reasonably burdened with the task of consolidating democracy in the Philippines and elsewhere. The rather distasteful compromises with the military and regime stalwarts may have been necessary to ensure the survival of a fledging democracy besieged by military rebels and communist insurgents during Aquino’s term.

Better an imperfect democracy rather than a return to authoritarianism. A principled commitment to nonviolence may not be needed to oust a dictator. It may however affect prospects for democratic consolidation. If elite political actors once resorted to nonviolence as a political expedient, then violence may be resorted to if deemed necessary in the future. One can only note how easily the Aquino government unsheathed the ‘sword of war’ against the communists in 1987. In the process, democratic principles and civil political dialogue may be seriously compromised. A key problem is how a democracy (restored by a broad political coalition that includes an anti-revolutionary albeit reformed military) will deal with an on-going communist insurgency.

It is quite clear that the democratic credentials of any government will be put to a severe test. Continuing human rights violations by the Philippine military from 1987 up to the GMA presidency are among the worst aspects of post-Marcos governments. Thompson (1996: 197) reminds us however that ‘such crimes committed by an otherwise democratic government in the context of a civil conflict are not exceptional’. These difficulties recall the single most important prerequisite identified by Rustow (1970) in his seminal work on democratic transition and consolidation—that the ‘boundary’ question is resolved. That is not the case in the Philippines. Armed Muslims want to secede and armed communists and military rebels don’t share the consensus around elections and representation.

In other democratization cases, this question was settled. The Soviet empire had to broken up into several smaller states and Czechoslavakia was split in two.

Another problem in the Philippines: how will a restored democracy make its military accountable for its authoritarian past without being endangered by a military backlash? The blanket absolution of the AFP, especially of the RAM leaders (many of whom were accused of being heavy torturers), was essentially wrong yet was politically necessary at the time. The failure to pursue military accountability during martial law was further compounded by a kids-glove treatment of military putschists against the Aquino government by her defense officials, including soon-to-be President Ramos. Ramos himself bought tactical peace with a political settlement with military rebels during his first years in office. The shortcomings of this policy of appeasement will be revealed subsequently by the unhealthy role played by the military in the ouster of President Estrada in January 2001, and the coup attempts against President Arroyo in July 2003 and February 2006.

The Philippine experience underscores the extreme difficulties faced by a restored democracy as it tried to consolidate itself while weighed down by the legacies of authoritarianism (a weak economy, a highly-politicized civilian and military bureaucracy, weak or non-existent political institutions, and continued existence of maximalist forces), the shallowness of its elite democracy, and an unresolved first-order ‘boundary’ question. After Marcos’s ouster, the record of democratic commitment is mixed. The political elites and ‘yellow’ forces in the Philippines would subsequently fail to sustain their democratic credentials in several occasions. A reprise of ‘people power’ in January 2001 failed to impress true democrats since a democratically elected albeit corrupt president, Estrada, was deposed. As an exercise of extra-ordinary or irregular politics, ‘people power’ stunted the growth of the country’s political institutions. These same elites apparently turned a blind eye to a prima facie case of systematic cheating by President Arroyo during the May 2004 elections to prevent a populist Estrada-like presidency. While expedient in 2001 and 2004, the failure to uphold democratic principles is at the root of current political instability. Questions regarding the legitimacy of Arroyo’s mandate have inspired parodies of ‘people power’ since then. After weathering a rather inchoate ‘poor people power’ uprising in May 2001 and a military mutiny in July 2003, her government almost fell apart in July 2005. She survived another coup attempt in February 2006 through emergency rule. While styled as a referendum on her continued rule, the May 2007 mid-term elections failed to settle the legitimacy question.

This high-mindedness could flounder at the realist shoals and rough tumbles of everyday politics. Notwithstanding the less-than-pristine basis of civil resistance in the Philippines, it did depose the Marcos dictatorship. What is of greater value—the ouster of the dictatorship or a principled commitment to non-violent means of resolving inevitable conflicts? Upholding the democratic mandate of a venal chief executive or a preference for good governance? Should irregular politics be frowned upon since they undermine existing institutions or should non-institutional deviations be tolerated or even encouraged given institutional inadequacies and dysfunctionalities? Or are these false dilemmas?

Theoretical propositions

I borrow from work I have done earlier on the Soviet reform project from 1956 to 1991 (Mendoza 1992) and forward these theoretical propositions regarding democratization and democratic transitions.

1. Ultimately, transitions from authoritarianism are both prone to voluntarist action (qua actor-directed processes) and vulnerable to material and subjective (i.e., cultural) constraints. In this sense, therefore, there is no uniform road from authoritarianism and each country necessarily charts an idiosyncratic path.

2. Democratization is a politically contentious process. First, since it proposes to change or to disrupt existing institutions (understood in a broad sense ala Douglass North as ‘rules of the game’), it will always invite opposition from interests and groups comfortable with the status quo or from those who believe that the changes that had been achieved so far are quite enough. In addition, there is a time lag before the benefits of democratization could be realized or made apparent. This delay and the difficulties experience during the period could be used as arguments for scuttling the democratization process. For one, the post-authoritarian democratic regime must (by definition and by necessity) recognize and guarantee the political enfranchisement even of unrepentant or latent sympathizers of the deposed regime. Secondly, even in the rare case of apparent unanimity for the necessity of change, differences on the nature, pace and sequencing of democratization reforms will most likely arise and precipitate political struggles. Thirdly, the dysfunctionalities and turmoil generated by democratic transitions also provide leeway for other political projects to be implemented. The possibilities for non- and pseudo-democratic projects are almost always present. This is quite apparent in post-1986 Philippines as exemplified by the current presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo since 2001.

3. The above proposition leads to a third major insight—the open-endedness of political processes—one gained through a hindsight evaluation of transitions from authoritarian rule initiated from the top, or what I call abo-reformism (reform from above). Notwithstanding the ‘people power’ circumstances of the authoritarian regime’s demise, all transitions from authoritarianism are elite-directed processes. This is the necessary and logical outcome both of the difficulties of maintaining long-term popular mobilization and the inherent appetite of elites to limit democratic changes. In fact, many transitions could be characterized as popular projects hijacked by elites.

Appropriate institutions and technologies of ‘people power’

It can be argued that the democratization project is the evolution of appropriate technologies and institutions. A careful reading of the Bolshevik (which was a ‘people power’) project indicates that it entails the institutionalization of new and appropriate technologies of production and distribution and, above all, of governance. While the post-authoritarian project of democratization may not seem, at first glance, as comprehensive as the Bolshevik project—the realities in underdeveloped jurisdictions like the Philippines where socio-inequalities can undermine legal equality require a similar broadness.

Social-hierarchical (as opposed to technical-hierarchical and therefore socially-neutral), rather than horizontal or associational, relations between persons imbricate the existing technology of production the world over. Taylorism organized the capitalist labor process so that it was conceived and directed from a hierarchical center and could be executed with parts of the entire process done by distinct groups of workers supervised by foremen and surveilled by timekeepers. The institutional expression of Taylorism is the factory assembly line and the consequent shopfloor division of labor. The objective was to remove any element of worker control over the pace, intensity and quality of work. Taylorism was adopted by Lenin himself instead of ‘workers’ control’ since Taylorist methods were seen as particularly useful in building the Soviet industrial base with a work force which was relatively young and inexperienced and which was not weaned from its peasant origins, traditions and values.

The available technologies of distribution and economic organization are limited to the market and centralized state allocation, or metaphorically, the ‘invisible hand’ and the ‘central plan’. The German ‘social market’ is an attempt to essay a third way just like other social democratic welfare states in West Europe. Karl Polanyi (1957) noted that the organizing principles of reciprocity and redistribution characterized pre-capitalist societies. Plan and market are weak in several respects. For one, the problem of monopoly arises in both cases. The most likely reaction to institutional failure is to adopt its antipode; that is, the response to state failure is to marketize and vice-versa. “Third way’ experiments appear to be doomed by Kornai’s detection of the strong affinity between specific modes of property ownership and economic coordination mechanisms, i.e., between state ownership and central planning and between private property and market coordination. On the other hand, the rule of the few over the many is the essence of the technology of governance and political organization used through much of recorded human history.

In contrast, democratic (and socialist) governance is a promise of self-activation and management of society for the benefit of all its members. At its purest, democracy is majority self-rule. Vincent Ostrom submits that a self-governing free society is governed by an elaborate structure of institutional arrangements that conform to two basic rules. The first is the basic golden rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’. Under this rule, humans takes the perspective of others, discount partialities associated with self-love, and strive for impartiality. The second rule is W.R. Ashby’s ‘law of requisite variety’: To realized specified effects, there must exist as much variety in the strategies available as there is variety in the conditions that obtain.

The historical experience so far reveals that the problem of democratic governance is accentuated by the phenomenon of ‘substitutionism’, disguised as representation—a malady denounced by Rousseau in his Social Contract. This seems to be unavoidable given the size of modern societies. In a democracy, the people are supposed to be sovereign and they appoint their representatives as ‘public servants’. The age-old question of who will guard the guardians recurs repeatedly. How can the ‘servant’ be made accountable for its actions and decisions to the sovereign principal? What can prevent or alleviate the effects of an agent’s action which is detrimental to the principal’s interests? So far the institutional (meaning nonviolent) means available to principals for checking their agents are freely-contested elections and mechanisms for recall or impeachment of treasonous, incompetent, or corrupt public officials. However, problems of the authenticity of electoral exercises as well as the politicization of the recall/impeachment processes reduces control over agents.


While formally a democratic republic wherein all governmental authority emanates from the sovereign people, the Philippines is characterized as an elite or ‘shallow’ democracy that has been unable to adequately respond to the needs of under-classes.  In addition, the Philippine state is seen as relatively weak and is susceptible to capture and plunder by strong private social groups and interests including political factions and families, big business groups, among others.  The failures of the Philippine state and politics are highlighted by the inability to sustain and realize a promising economic growth potential (as of the 1950s) when the country was supposed to be second in Asia only to Japan in terms of economic development.  At the core of this failure is inconsistency and incompatibility of economic policy making with the requirements of sustainable growth since 1946.

The source of policy inconsistency is identified in the literature as reflective of incomplete elite 

Peso-dollar exchange rate

differentiation in the country.  For example, as the country’s elite groups are involved in almost all lines of business such as external trade (imports and exports), real estate, commercial agriculture, manufacturing, and finance—there has been for a long time no elite consensus on trade and foreign exchange policy.  For example, if one was an importer, she may prefer a protectionist trade regime to protect his import monopoly.  She may also prefer an over-valued peso so her imports will be cheaper in terms of the local currency.  However if she is also an exporter, she may want an under-valued peso so her products will be more competitive in the world markets.  If she actually manufactures the exportables, her stance may be more nuanced.  For instance, to the extent that the import-content of his export products is quite high, then she may be in favor of an over-valued peso. She may also prefer a more liberal foreign trade regime to make her imported inputs cheaper.  However, since she wants her products to be competitive externally, she will prefer an under-valued local currency.  In sum, she will not have a straightforward position on foreign exchange and trade policies.

Philippine exports, 2001

In truth, much manufacturing activity up to the recent past had been directed towards an internal market buoyed by protectionist trade policies and population growth.  In theory, therefore, industrialists should favor land reform in order to broaden and deepen domestic demand for manufactures.  However, their strong links with landed interests stop them from championing land reform in the rural areas.  They try remedy the limitations of the internal market by selling to a more-demanding world market.  In more recent years, domestic demand had been bolstered by the hefty foreign exchange remittances of overseas contract workers.  Thus the recourse to external markets, including international labor markets, relieved domestic pressures for reforms and helped induce growth of consumer goods, real estate and the services sectors.

Within the context of grave inequity and widespread poverty, Philippine politics is clientelistic or patronage-driven.  This picture should however be qualified with the importance of political violence and coercion as an additional (to the clientelistic) mode of mediation between political leaders and their constituents.  The country’s political institutions are unevenly developed

Manila’s urban poor

and are not fully functional even after sixty years of modern statehood.  Following the typology of Rothstein (1996), the rule-making and rule-applying institutions may seem to be over-developed compared to the rule-adjudicating, and more importantly, rule-enforcing institutions.[1] While lack of resources (which is in turn a function of the state’s weak capacity to extract resources from society) plagues all four institutional types, consolidation of these democratic institutions is hampered by first order problems, chief of which are the ‘boundary’ (Rustow 1970) and ‘unity and internal order’ imperatives.    Re the boundary question: is the Philippines the state of a single well-defined nation or should putative nations (such as the Bangsa Moro) enjoy the full rights of self-determination (including secession from the Republic)?  The unity and internal order problems are largely the product of poverty and inequity as the have-nots try to redress the situation even with violent modes of action.  In fact, the Bangsa Moro issue is an intersection of ‘boundary’ and ‘equity’ problems because the Bangsa Moro people perceived themselves to be among the poorest and powerless in Philippine society.

Guerillas, Moro National Liberation Front

The most glaring evidence of dysfunctional institutions is recent instances of or attempts at regime change through extra-constitutional means.  These include the reprise of a ‘people power’ uprising against a universally-perceived corrupt President Joseph Estrada in January 2001 that led to his replacement by

Oakwood mutiny, 2003

incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) and the various attempts to unseat her since then (the ‘poor people power’ uprising in May 2001, the Oakwood military mutiny in July 2003, and a failed coup attempt in February 2006).

The intensity of political contests in the Philippines is a function of the fact that the government disposes a significant chunk of resources, and exercises discretion over a wide sphere. The premiere political plum is that of the Presidency.  The implicit goal of elite struggles is to control the state’s machinery and resources and skew their deployment to favor specific interests.  Powerful incentives then work to persuade incumbents at various levels to retain power indefinitely in order to protect such interests.  Conversely, turnovers—whether electoral contests or more fundamental challenges to legitimacy, such as attempted coups—may be viewed as chances to attain or to retain political power.   The economic costs occasioned by such regimes can be seen to be large a priori. First are the obvious losses from competitive rent seeking, as factions seek to build their capacities to compete for dominance. The larger the gains are (which could turn on the scope of the government’s influence over resource allocation) and the more evenly-matched the factions are, the greater is the likely dissipation of resources in terms of lobbying, maintaining retinues of followers, and so on. These losses from classical rent seeking result from the diversion of resources towards unproductive uses, where these could have been invested or allocated more efficiently.

Further losses apart from those occasioned by rent seeking may arise as investment is discouraged by political uncertainty. In this respect, two potential effects of democratic, decentralized regimes in raising investment uncertainty may be distinguished.  One effect owes to greater challenges to authority even in periods between regime turnovers—in short, internal uncertainty to investors brought on by the diffusion of power (through the system of checks and balances) even without a regime change. For instance, a government contract approved by the executive can be challenged at the legislature or at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s decision in

Seal of the Supreme Court of the Philippines

the mid-90s to nullify the sale of the historic Manila Hotel to a group of Malaysian investors (in favor of a group of Filipino-Chinese businessmen) on the grounds of “protecting the national patrimony” is a case in point.  While this risk may be inherent in any separation-of-powers system, its effects appear to be stronger in the Philippines where ‘losers’ in a particular institutional arena do not readily concede defeat but will try to win in others.  Of late, there has been a strong tendency to call on the courts to rule on the constitutionality of approved laws or to issue restraining orders on government contracts.  While the intervention of the judiciary may be necessary in principle, excessive judicial activism will surely raise the transaction costs of policy making and could adversely affect the investment climate.  An example would the constitutional challenge to the reformed value added tax (VAT) law of 2005 (Republic Act No. 9337).  Losers in the legislative arena sought to reverse their defeat through a Supreme Court temporary restraining order (TRO) based on the law’s alleged violation of the Constitution. Eventually, the Court ruled in favor of the law’s constitutionality and unimpaired implementation.  Nonetheless, the uncertainties generated by the court suit did their damage.

A second source of uncertainty is regime turnovers. This uncertainty results from possibly large changes in policies, ranging from reversals of broad policy initiatives to alteration of contracts. The threat of victory by hostile factions may be viewed as leading to unsettling changes in policies that further raise the cost and the risk of investing. Potential political challengers may threaten to reverse the results of transactions accomplished under the incumbent administration once they come to power.  These dangers became more important  in the post-authoritarian period which saw disorderly or unconventional presidential successions.

President Corazon Aquino, 1986-92

  The shift in the winning alliances also made a difference.  The Aquino (1986-92) and Ramos (1992-98) presidencies had a similar preference for liberalizing economic reform as they were supported by modernizing elite fractions and their middle class allies. 

President Fidel Ramos, 1992-98

President Joseph Estrada, 1998-2011

The Estrada presidency, which drew support from a different elite constituency as well as a populist mass base, preferred a personalist (as opposed to an impersonal market-oriented) stance in economic policy and actively dispensed policy favors to key supporters and campaign financiers.  For instance, his administration reversed the ‘open skies’ policy of his predecessors to suit the preferences of Lucio Tan’s Philippine Air Lines (PAL) and built the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 2 exclusively for PAL’s use.   The other less favored airlines had to make do with the cramped NAIA Terminal 1. 

Tan, considered the country’s richest man, is the same Marcos crony targeted by the previous Ramos administration for massive tax evasion.  Estrada rehabilitated Tan by extolling him as one of the country’s top and most consistent taxpayers.  In the process, the court suits filed by Ramos’ tax officials were summarily dismissed supposedly because of the loss of truckloads of evidence against Tan.[2]

Lucio Tan

The possible shift in policy consequent to turnover represents additional uncertainty and a discouragement to investment.  An additional element of uncertainty is offered by the fluidity of the country’s political factions, manifested by the weakness of political parties and the relative lack of party discipline.  Given the heterogeneity of elite groups’ economic interests and the attendant lack of clear-cut policy preferences, changing compositions of political factions may yield differing policy preferences or could simply lead to contract alteration simply because the new ‘ins’ will want to have their ‘cut’ on big uncompleted projects.  This seems to be the case with the NAIA Terminal 3 project.  Contracts for these projects were awarded during the Ramos presidency and the new terminal’s construction was almost completed during Estrada’s aborted term.  However, the Arroyo administration saw substantial legal infirmities in the Terminal 3 contracts.  This finding was subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court.  The project had to overcome these difficulties so the terminal could be used.  Kudos to GMA and Mike Defensor.

Since the mid-1990s, it is possible to discern a clear-cut division between modernizing and outward-looking elite fractions and the more-traditional rent-seeking elite groups.  After decades of protectionism and oligopolies, the modernizers were bolstered by here-to-fore protectionists who were convinced of the greater returns to economic openness and freer markets.  These interests provided the political base for the reformist efforts of the Fidel Ramos presidency.  However, the Estrada presidency represented a setback for market reforms and a resurgence of personalistic politics as well as the corruption of state and private institutions (including the stock exchanges and the commercial banking system) for presidential aggrandizement.  Critical state bureaucracies served as the protective cover for many criminal syndicates involved in a wide range of activities from smuggling to gambling.  The Estrada presidency championed the cause of more traditional and inward elite groups who are unmindful of ratings from Standard & Poor or the lack of an IMF ‘seal of good housekeeping’ since they can still earn fabulous incomes from informal and criminal economic activity.  The failure to achieve thoroughgoing reform (especially in the political and social fronts) had however forced the modernizing elites to live with and compromise with rent-seekers.  The drag of unreformed politics increases the costs of doing business in the country and lowers its economic potential.  On the other hand, the strength gained by modernizers as a result of the Ramos reforms has allowed the economy to discount political ‘noise’ and even turmoil in recent years to come up with middling economic growth rates relative to the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors.  The question remains whether growth can be sustained for a longer period (to make significant dents on the country’s poverty rate) while political institutions remain unchanged.

We now turn our attention to the military establishment in the country and its role in policy making.  Path dependence is a key factor here.  The important role that the military played in the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986 had allowed it to escape its own responsibilities and culpabilities as one of the dictatorship’s main props.  Despite a return to democracy in 1986, the continued existence of a communist insurgency had guaranteed an inordinately heavy influence of the military establishment on the nation’s security policy.  In fact, dissatisfaction with what was perceived as ‘radical’ policies of President Corazon Aquino (such as freeing of communist and other leftist detainees, conducting peace talks with the communist insurgents, and keeping an open mind on the extension of the military bases agreement with the United States) fueled many coup attempts against her government.  All these putsches were defeated by a military establishment commanded by soon-to-be President Fidel Ramos in his capacity first as armed forces chief of staff and subsequently as national defense secretary.

Honasan, the rebel soldier

As president, Ramos quelled military restiveness with a general amnesty for coup plotters and participants.  The most charismatic and dangerous coup leader, former Colonel Gregorio Honasan was incor­porated into the political system as an elected member of the Philippine Senate in 1995.  While there was persistent gossip that Ramos and his henchmen (particularly Jose T. Almonte, his shadowy National Security Adviser) ‘doctored’ election returns to ensure Honasan’s electoral victory, many Filipinos accepted that as a small price to pay for political peace.  Ramos soon embarked on an ambitious modernization and professionalization program that will focus the military on an external defense mission while the police forces will take care of internal order (including the insurgencies).   The Asian financial crisis deprived the country of the funds to finance the military’s modernization.  The police forces proved to be inadequate for the anti-insurgency campaign and the military forces were once more embroiled in the country’s internal wars.  The financial constraint was a major reason why President Joseph Estrada opted to enter into the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US even as he earlier voted against the extension of the US-RP military bases as a senator in 1991.  The agreement allowed the US to train Filipino military personnel and provide military assistance (by way of war materiel and equipage) in the context of annual joint military exercises.

Senator Gringo Honasan

The reprise of the ‘people power’ uprising in 2001 had unfortunately ‘institutionalized’ the military’s role in extra-ordinary and non-institutional regime change in the country.  The July 2003 Oakwood military mutiny and the failed coup in February 2006 meanwhile revealed the re-emergence of factions within the armed forces.  Political incumbents and regime challengers since then have consistently wooed military support and contributed to renewed factionalism and divisiveness within the ranks.  Many analysts are also convinced that the GMA government is dependent upon the military brass for its continued political survival and is captive to the military’s security policy preferences.  What is quite disturbing was the government’s use of the security forces for clearly partisan purposes during the May 2007 elections especially against leftist party list groups.  Thus, what we have is a military establishment that is not modernized and professionalized, still embroiled in internal wars, plagued once more with factions and restiveness, and vulnerable to political pressures and influences.  On the other hand, it had gained substantial leverage vis-à-vis civilian political leaders especially since 2001.  In short, the Philippines does not have a professional or ‘militarized’ military[3].

Our final note concerns local politics and its link to national-level politics.  Notwithstanding charges of too much concentration of governmental power and functions at the national levels, it is quite clear that local political elites are powerful in their own right.  The literature attributes the emergence and flourishing of local elite power to the incorporation of the archipelago into the world economy in the late 19th centuryunder the auspices of a weakening colonial power via many localities (including Cebu, Iloilo, Legaspi,  Zamboanga, etc.) and not only through the capital city of Manila.  It did not only inhibit the creation of a centralized state bureaucracy but also stimulated the growth of many local elite groups with sources of wealth and power independent of the state.  The immediate enfranchisement of these local elites by the American colonial forces through municipal elections and their elevation to national status through the formation of the 1907 Philippine Assembly consolidated these local elites to the extent that the first Philippine president under American

Manuel Luis Quezon

auspices (Manuel L. Quezon) came from their ranks and not from Manila-based politicians.   Elected Filipino local officials enjoyed enormous discretion over the emerging state apparatus, including control over pork barrel funds and appointments of local bureaucrats.  At the national level, legislators likewise exerted influence over the awarding of contracts, concessions and franchises, appointments to national government agencies, and allocation of state loans.

Following independence in 1946, the continued subordination of the national state apparatus to this multi-tiered hierarchy of elected officials and the expanding economic role of the state in import-substitution industrialization led to entrenchment of political bosses in numerous localities and at various levels of state power.  In some localities, a concentration of land or other forms of proprietary wealth facilitated the entrenchment of political dynasties over successive generations.  At the congressional district and provincial levels, long-time congressmen and governors have relied on state office to control ‘nodal’ economic choke points and key natural resources.  The key to local political control has lain in the accumulation and retention of a preponderant share of resources for electoral success: a retinue of loyal personal followers, money for buying votes and bribing election officials; and coercive resources to reinforce personal and pecuniary objectives.   A modus-vivendi between local politicians and those who aspired for the presidency was established.  Local politicians delivered vote banks under their control to the presidential candidate of their choice in exchange for pork barrel allocations and other patronage resources.  The increased availability of foreign funds, including military monies from the United States, allowed Ferdinand Marcos to get himself re-elected in 1969 without relying so much on local politicians.  He declared martial law in 1972, abolished Congress, and ruled henceforth by decree.  He centralized a national police under the armed forces (wresting control over the police from local politicians), established quasi-governmental monopolies for major commodity exports, and parceled out regulatory and proprietary control over strategic sectors of the national economy within a close circle of family members, cronies, and front-men.  Nonetheless, Marcos still counted among a number of local strongmen for political support.

Since the fall of Marcos in 1986 and the restoration of regular competitive elections at the local and national levels, local political power had likewise been restored and strengthened by a new local government code.  Given the rich spoils of these offices, elections have been fiercely contested through machine mobilization, vote buying, fraud, and violence.  Political dynasties have likewise been encouraged to contest for national and local posts.  For one, the flexibility to run for either a national or a local post affords politicians the possibility of remaining in office when term limitations kick in. Thus, a member of the House of Representatives may seek the office of provincial governor or city mayor after serving three terms as legislator.  In the meantime, he may field his wife, brother, child, or any other relative to contest his House post.  The diversification of political post portfolios may help explain the longevity of political dynasties.  Membership in the House affords access to pork barrel funds and other forms of largesse that helps consolidate political control of a political bailiwick.  On the other hand, control of a local government post ensures closer and more extensive relations with voters, which in turn helps ensure prospects for re-election of incumbents.  To the extent that political parties remained weak, politicians seeking national elective offices (such as President, Vice President, and Senator) had to similarly court the support of local notables for so-called machine or command votes in exchange for patronage.

A subtle change in the linkage between business and politics is currently underway in the country.  In many provinces where suburban industrial and commercial growth is most pronounced, local politicians have abandoned local empire-building efforts in favor of brokerage services for Manila-based or foreign capital, winning lucrative construction and real-estate deals but skimming percentages (for permits, zoning ordinances, and union-busting services) on new industrial and commercial estates, residential subdivisions, and gold courses.  Some major illegal rackets (e.g. narcotics) are similarly centralized and internationalized, leaving local bosses to serve merely as franchise dealers or recruiters for urban-based and foreign syndicates (Sidel 1996).

What then are the key characteristics of the policy outputs of this peculiarly Philippine institutional setup?  We have already alluded to the system’s general unresponsiveness to the needs of the country’s under-classes as well as the predominantly private-regarding character of policy.  Some examples can be cited in support of this finding.  The 13th Congress of the Philippines (July 2004-June 2007) succeeded in enacting an extremely liberal tax amnesty law before the electoral campaign recess.  However, it failed to pass the cheap-medicines bill before its adjournment.  This means that the measure, designed to lower costs of medicine through parallel importation of patented drugs, had to return to ‘square one’ in the 14th Congress (July 2007-June 2010).

A review of the property rights regime in the country is instructive in pointing to other key features of Philippine policies (Mendoza 2008).  The study reveals that significant advances in the legal recognition of the property rights of the poor had been achieved since the restoration of democracy in February 1986.  Notwithstanding these advances, the relevant policies have been plagued with problems of poor coherence and coordination, spotty quality of implementation and enforcement, and inefficiency.  At times when policies needed to be flexible and adaptable, they were rather stable as old and archaic laws coexisted uneasily with newer ones despite decades of policy reform.

For example, key policies with respect to land administration persisted since the beginning of the 20th century despite the shocks of global war, internal insurrections, authoritarianism, coup attempts, and irregular regime change.  Land administration refers to the processes of recording and disseminating information about the ownership, value, and use of land.  These processes include mapping and survey, identification of alienable and disposable lands, original land titling, transfer of title, land information and records, taxation, and land valuation (LAMP 2: n.d.).  The land administration system in the Philippines, with its colonial origins, is considered one of the most complex systems in Asia and is consequently plagued with institutional defects, inconsistencies, corruption, and unworkable practices.  These defects include: multiple land administration agencies, multiple land administration laws, multiple land titling processes, multiple standards for surveying and mapping, multiple forms of certificate of title, multiple steps for land transfer, multiple standards for land valuation, multiple agencies undertaking valuation, and multiple taxes on land ownership and transfers.  These pathologies often lead to several problems including long and expensive delays to secure land titles[4] and the proliferation of fake titles.  Consequently, there is a little confidence in the system and a relatively low level of registration of subsequent title transactions (LAMP 2; Roberts and Burns 2003).  Separate estimates (De Soto 2000; Roberts and Burns 2003) indicate that more than half of all landed property in the country (more than 8.4 million parcels with a combined value of US$133 billion) lacked clear title.

The institutional setting for land administration and management is characterized by large, central agencies that are quite resistant to change.  There are about fifteen (15) agencies involved and the two principal agencies are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA) of the Department of Justice.  There are two legal processes in gaining title to land—administrative and judicial.  Administrative processes leading to titles are handled by three agencies.  Titles obtained through the judicial process are senior to titles obtained administratively since the former decrees absolute ownership while latter confers rights with conditions and limitations.  Under the judicial process, occupants of land are required to apply to the courts to confirm existing rights to title based on evidence of ownership and occupation.  The inevitable result of having so many departments and agencies involved in land management and administration, each supported by enabling laws, is confusion, overlapping functions, and long bureaucratic processes and delays which lead to litigation and corruption.  Thus, one piece of land can be owned by two or more entities since two titles—one administrative and one judicial—were issued.  It could also happen that the same asset can be covered by two administrative titles—for example, an ancestral domain claim (CADC or CADT) and a certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) under the agrarian reform program.  These overlapping claims generate conflict among the poor themselves—i.e., between indigenous peoples and agrarian reform beneficiaries.  Or the same piece of land may be valued differently due to different valuation standards used by different agencies.  Furthermore, the existence of a hierarchy of rights over private land complicates the tenure system because many of the rights are for specific and temporary use, so the need for updating or conversion to a superior right, adds to the bureaucratic chain (Roberts and Burns 2003).  For example, separate rights for ownership, cultivation, building, use and management can apply to land.  When added to an already complicated regulatory system and a high degree of centralization, this creates a concentration of power in numerous points of the process and increases the potential for bribes, discourages participation and engenders distrust of the formal tenure system.  The complexity, delays, and costs of registering titles lead to a relatively low level of registration of subsequent title transactions.  Another consequence is a thriving grey market for land and land titles.

________________________________________________________________

[1] Rule-making institutions are needed to make collectively-binding decisions about how to regulate the common interests.  These roughly correspond to the legislatures at various levels—from the national down to the barangay.  Rule-applying institutions are needed for implementing these same decisions.  These correspond to the chief executives at various levels from the president of the republic down to the barangays chairmen.  Rule-adjudicating institutions are needed to take care of individual disputes about how to interpret the general rules (laid down by legislatures) in particular cases.  They include the courts at various levels from the Supreme Court down to the municipal trial courts, quasi-judicial bodies, and other dispute settlement and arbitration mechanisms.  Rule-enforcing institutions are necessary to take care of and punish rule-breakers, whether insiders or outsiders.  These institutions include the courts, security or uniformed services (police and armed forces), and the prison/penal system.

[2] A fuller story on Lucio Tan’s travails and triumphs during the Ramos and Estrada presidencies is supplied by Mendoza (2004) and Lim and Pascual (2000).

[3] A militarized military is an armed force deployed only for military missions—particularly for the defense of a sovereign state against external threats.  Under this concept, anti-insurgency campaigns are a police function and should be undertaken by internal security or police forces.  In a democracy, a militarized military is non-partisan, under civilian control, and does not get involved in domestic politics, electoral or otherwise.  It will be an important institutional player in the formulation and implementation of the country’s foreign policy.

[4] It can take up to three years to secure or transfer a land title and have it registered (LAMP 2).


Gilbert 'Gibo' Teodoro

We were unconscionably titillated over the Holy Week by news that the First Gentleman, Mike Arroyo, instructed a number of trusted allies (particularly the powerful Garcia clan of Cebu)  to abandon support fort Gibo Teodoro and help Manny Villar instead.  This bit gave credence to loose talk about Villaroyo being the Palace’s true candidate.

Notwithstanding denials from concerned quarters published in today’s newspapers, sufficient doubt has been cast about the Palace true intentions if the Villaroyo news is considered with many complaints from Lakas hopefuls regarding campaign funds.  Mayor Ramon Guico of Binalonan, Pangasinan and president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), who is himself running as senator, quipped that “if the party fails to give support, it’s finished.  That’s the reason for the exodus of governors.”

Earlier, Lakas stalwarts Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri of Bukidnon and Deputy National Security Adviser Chavit Singson endorsed Villar.

While Gibo himself belied reports that Mike Arroyo had pressured the Garcia clan to switch support to Villar, he has to ask himself if indeed he still has a party machinery to support his candidacy.

The Gibo candidacy looks a lot like that of Jose de Venecia’s bid for the presidency in 1998.  Both campaigns were overshadowed by opposition bets–JDV by Erap Estrada and Gibo by three front-runners (Noynoy, Villar and Erap).

What is quite ironic is Gibo has so far faithfully stood by GMA, leader of his party, while the latter apparently doesn’t believe in keeping the faith.

While a pragmatic adviser would counsel Gibo to fight fire with fire and support Noynoy to ensure Villaroyo’s defeat, I believe he will do better by staying the course.  And show how a man of principle behaves in the apparently hopelessly-dirty world of Philippine politics.

The choice is his to make.  This will be Gibo’s defining moment.


Dr. Yuko Kasuya

Dr. Yuko Kasuya

 

The single-term limit for the Philippine President in the 1987 Constitution has apparently spawned several unintended consequences. While drafted by the members of the Constitutional Commission as a check on abuse of the chief executive’s power (ala Marcos), the provision had the opposite effects. First, it induces efforts on the part of incumbents to propose self-serving charter-change proposals. Second, it stimulates faster-paced rent-seeking and plunder of state resources. And third (as pointed out by the Japanese political scientist Yuko Kasuya), it weakens an already-fragile political party system. Since the incumbent president can no longer stand for re-election, she cannot maintain party discipline in the next electoral cycle. Disgruntled members can form new parties should they fail to win the incumbent party’s endorsement for their presidential bids.

To date, GMA has been president for nine years, second only to Marcos in length of ‘service’. Not a few are fully convinced that she will step down from power in June 2010, if only because she and her ruling faction both fear prosecution for their misdeeds and abhor the loss of perks of power. If her strategists continue and succeed in their machinations to maintain her on top through whatever formula, then the country will be in for a new round of great political instability.

Elite factions now currently out of power or not entirely close to the Palace’s occupant will not countenance a continuing post-June 2010 GMA leadership. The GMA faction has amassed so much wealth and powers that it is feared to be able to rule indefinitely. Consequently, out-of-power and out-of-favor elites will be expected to use any political means to frustrate the GMA faction’s plans. We will not expect them to confine themselves to constitutionally-sanctioned strategies.

The restoration of democratic processes in February 1986 was read by all elite factions as a return to the pre-martial law modality (that prevailed from 1946 to 1972) that electoral defeat did not threaten already existing elite property rights. The single-term limit was a new rule that accords to the incumbents the right to capture all the rents during their stint in power.

Combined with the above-mentioned unintended consequences of the single-term limit, the greater integration of the Philippines into the global economy made larger and larger rents available to incumbents than ever before. Such riches have enabled them to consolidate their positions and emboldened them to find ways to perpetuate themselves in power.

As I reflect on this question, I am reminded of the insights of realist international relations (IR) theory regarding the prospects of cooperation between sovereign nation-states in an anarchic (meaning the absence of over-arching authority above the states) global environment. Realists are supposedly not optimistic that states will cooperate with each other even if such cooperation will result in mutual benefits due to a concern with relative gain. Such states ask not “who gains?” but “who gains more and at whose expense?” The states in a realist world are afraid that cooperation with others will allow the latter to gain more and be more powerful in the future.

Given the relative weaknesses of the Philippine state, one can construe our elite factions as sovereign nation-states similarly unwilling to ‘cooperate’ with each other. During Tita Cory’s term, rents were supposedly monopolized by Kamag-anak, Inc. Such monopolization was tolerated to the extent that Cory did not attempt to stay in power after June 1992. FVR tried to tinker with presidential term limits but was rebuffed by all other elite factions (including Tita Cory’s). Erap’s faction was unable to drink its full fill. GMA’s nine-year rule is unprecedented but more than that is unacceptable.


For our elites, the key decision is to what extent greed can be moderated so property rights (even over plundered assets) by outgoing factions will be respected by incoming ones.