Are my Pag-IBIG Fund Contributions safe?

The Senate and Lower House investigations into the controversy involving Pag-IBIG Fund and real estate company Globe Asiatique has so far failed to clarify what really happened to the money that over a million employees have been contributing to for more than 25 years.

Initially, the investigation in the Senate and the Lower House seemed to focus on whether or not ghost Pag-IBIG accounts were really created by Globe Asiatique.  However, as the investigation progressed, Senator Cerge Osmena seemed more interested in embarrassing former Vice President and HUDCC Chairman Noli De Castro with pointed questions about his relationship with Undersecretary Lucille Ortile — the former HUDCC Secretary General.

Repeatedly, Osmena asked De Castro, “So, she is your number 2? She is your number 2?”

And the rest of the senate investigation went the way of a public scourging, with officers of the fund being portrayed as inutile and stupid for having entered into an Memorandum of Agreement with Globe Asiatique.

So far Philippine legislators in both the Upper and Lower Chambers of congress have failed dismally to answer the question that Pag-IBIG Fund contributors are asking, ARE MY PAG-IBIG CONTRIBUTIONS SAFE?

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Oh Conrado… On tales of factions within the Yellow Administration

The sun is rising and it is the color of scrambled eggs.

After Conrado De Quiros endorsed Noynoy Aquino for President, we sort of lost interest in reading and discussing his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

It was not because we disagreed with his choice for President, but rather, it was because we disagreed with the non-logic that  supported his conclusion that Noynoy Aquino would be a better President than all other contenders.

In his column today titled Reading 101, De Quiros attempts to clarify his position vis-a-vis the dawning Yellow Administration.

Perhaps, more than rebutting a reader’s comment, the column points at the political forces that may be pulling Noynoy Aquino in different directions.

If I read it right, it seems that his tirade is directed against the combined forces of the Liberal Party, Hyatt 10, and The Firm — groups which also backed Aquino’s bid for the Presidency.

It seems Conrado is saying that Noynoy, in the coming days of his administration, will have a whole bunch of tough choices between following the voice of volunteers as well as the Spirit of EDSA 86 and following the dictates of people who deal in compromises.

A lesser leader will perhaps think that this situation may call for choosing one or the other.  He may think that this is a moralist dichotomy between good and evil — a theme so heavily played out in Noynoy’s campaign.  In reality, such dichotomies are merely instruments in pushing for an agenda.

A more politically astute mind would probably see it as a classical situation described by Machiavelli in The Prince.  Roughly recounted here, in the coming days Noynoy will have to make a lot of decisions between serving the interests of the people who voted for him and serving the interest of the people whose finances as well as political connections helped him win the campaign.

Machiavelli describes Noynoy’s situation quite aptly:

THOSE who solely by good fortune become princes from being private citizens have little trouble in rising, but much in keeping atop; they have not any difficulties on the way up, because they fly, but they have many when they reach the summit. Such are those to whom some state is given either for money or by the favour of him who bestows it; as happened to many in Greece, in the cities of Ionia and of the Hellespont, where princes were made by Darius, in order that they might hold the cities both for his security and his glory; as also were those emperors who, by the corruption of the soldiers, from being citizens came to empire. Such stand simply upon the goodwill and the fortune of him who has elevated them — two most inconstant and unstable things. Neither have they the knowledge requisite for the position; because, unless they are men of great worth and ability, it is not reasonable to expect that they should know how to command, having always lived in a private condition; besides, they cannot hold it because they have not forces which they can keep friendly and faithful.

In any case, it is a tough position to be in and, perhaps, only a real leader will be able to finesse the situation.

Crying over the Freedom of Information Bill?

There’s much talk right now about the Freedom of Information Bill that was not passed by the Philippine Congress and I think crying over the non-passage of this bill is just another one of those hyped up wastes of time.

It was a melodrama acted out in Congress for the benefit of the presumptively elected President, who now crows “I, Noynoy Aquino, will fight for this bill and make it a priority of my administration.”

Great! Let’s see if this Wilderness Boy really work for the passage of a law that basically does nothing more than what is already being done now.

Force of Law my ass.

In 2009, a few bloggers began writing about it and one idea that stuck out was that having a Freedom of Information Act in the Philippines would have helped immensely in unraveling the truth behind the ‘Hello Garci’ tapes.

The US has had an FIA since 1974 and its history is closely tied to the Watergate Scandal.  Part of the FIA and FIA related statutes is that all communication (after the Watergate Scandal) made by the President is required by law to be recorded.

In the hotly and hysterically discussed Philippine FIA, there is not a single provision that states that all the President’s communications (including cellphone calls, tweets, skype, etcetera) are deemed public records.

Weeks before President Barak Obama was to be sworn in, several news items and opinion columns asked the question of whether Barak would retain his twitter/facebook capable Blackberry.  And, this was when the whole FIA or FOIA was discussed years after the Watergate Scandal, mainly on the point that Barak’s direct communications with the world at large through twitter might need to be screened.

Without a provision in the Philippine FIA bill that states that all the President’s communications as well as the communications of his/her heads of agencies should be recorded and deemed part of public record, the FIA won’t be able to do much.

In local parlance, it will be a BORLOLOY LAW.

Marketing politicians through Facebook + Twitter + blogging

I’ve heard it said that one of the major factors that won  Barak Obama the Presidency of the United States was his campaign’s effective use of the internet — particularly, the social networking site we’ve all come to love, Facebook.

In the Philippines, almost all of the politicians gunning for various seats in 2010 are using Facebook to spread their propaganda.  Some have done so quite effectively and some have merely used Facebook as the internet equivalent of pasting posters on walls.

The unsophisticated approach to would be to simply gun for visibility, as if the mere visibility of what is easily revealed as propaganda can convince people to vote for a candidate.

It could be in the form of a link or uploaded photo that screams, “Vote for me! Vote for me!” or the equally droll “This candidate is the best candidate because I say so!”

I guess the practice works for the so-called masa or jologs crowd whom I will forever deride, but not for the more serious thinkers who scour the internet not just for information but sound and well articulated positions on candidates.  Moreover, these aren’t just disembodied brains scouring the internet and you have to consider that apart from purely logical/cognitive input, these people are also drawn to what I refer to as  ‘authentic human interaction”.

There are people on the internet who go about campaigning for their candidate on the internet like complete automatons and it is a real turn off.

I think the higher level game in campaigning for a particular candidate is not really how well you SEO a website or blog, but how well you articulate your thoughts and convey them in a sincere, understandable manner.  Moreover, if it is at all possible, one must behave on the internet as they would think their candidate would behave.

I guess the simplest way to say what I am trying to say is this: Your behavior on the internet speaks more loudly about your candidate than any slogan or picture you can point to.

Beautiful Candidates in the 2010 Philippine Elections

There are a lot of beautiful candidates running for various positions in 2010, let me name some of them in no particular order:

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Top predictions for the Philippines in 2010

2010 in the Philippines brings a number of bankable prospects and here they are:

Fireworks disasters. Every year, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) issues warnings to the public not to rig their own fireworks display and every year people ignore the warning.  They either end up in the hospital or the morgue, the lucky ones find themselves unhurt as they watch their entire village (shanty town) burn to the ground.

The May 2010 elections. All eyes are on who is going to win and right now the race seems to be favoring Manny Villar, Noynoy Aquino, and Joseph Ejercito Estrada.  If you figure that for one reason or another, Estrada’s candidacy will be junked in the middle of the campaign period, then it might still be a three cornered fight with Gilbert Teodoro or Dick Gordon as the third man for an improbable win.

Related to the May 2010 elections are the usual campaign stories:

Miting de Avances. The bigger the candidate, the grander the campaign launch.  Expect Manny Villar to pull all stops.

Negative campaign advertisements. This will become the norm.

Election related violence. More people will get killed in tight electoral contests.

Electoral fraud. Despite all the anti-electoral fraud features of Smartmatic-TIM’s automated election system, retail electoral fraud will abound.

Bigger typhoons starting in June or earlier. Typhoon Ondoy was a dress rehearsal, watch out for bigger disasters this year and perhaps even bigger floods.

Continued conflict with various rebel groups. Expect the new President to confront new clashes between the military and muslim or communist groups.

Economic downturn. After all the campaign money has been spent, it’ll be time to cash in the chips and the Filipino people will be left holding the bill.  There will be no money to get the economy restarted right after the elections and those that made money during the elections will most likely hold on to what they’ve got till the economy starts picking up again.  Prices will rise and so will unemployment.

Terrorism. Yes, new kidnappings and attacks will happen around September.

Widespread food shortage. Supplies of rice will dwindle dramatically as the Philippines experiences one typhoon after the other.

Power shortages. Just like the ones we experienced in the early nineties.

Fuel shortages. There won’t be enough gas or diesel, at any price.

Telling off the big guys

"Dick Gordon vs. Noynoy Aquino and Villar"

Dick Gordon is the real underdog in the 2010 elections

Filipinos love underdogs and some politicians will cast themselves in this mold.

Manny Villar, for one, has come out consistently with commercials highlighting the fact that he was once a poor boy who lived in Tondo but rose to financial and political prominence through industry and patience.

Noynoy Aquino on the other hand tries to dress himself in the image of his dead parents (Ninoy Aquino and Cory Aquino), both of whom were once underdogs in a fight against President Ferdinand Marcos.

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