1. Retarded.

    The first suspect in the cancellation of the flights was the antiquated navigational equipment that had broken down a couple of weeks ago. Because of the adverse attitude towards immediate replacement of the broken technology taken so publicly by the incoming (and now sitting) President, purchase of the replacement was postponed until the new administration phased itself in.
    Relocate - FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno | The Philippine Star News Opinion

    Magno is very good at this. He loves to slip in little digs and pro-GMA support in the middle of his long-winded columns. Just subtle, but unless you are critically reading you just skim right over them.

    Take this one for instance. Some now the failure of the NAIA equipment, the lack of maintenance (and it is a serious lack of maintenance), the poor airport infrastructure and so forth…are President Aquino’s fault. For some obscure reason (relating to fear, I guess?).

    Wait, I thought GMA was a great president because she never stopped working and always did what was right and true and just? So, that big bad ol President Aquino, who just took over less than a week ago, is responsible for the decayed nature of our travel infrastructure because we all knew he was going to be President nine years ago and absolutely didn’t let poor ‘ittle overburdened GMA and her administration enact any needed reforms or you know, maintain stuff properly.

    Long sentence and yet it still made more sense than Alex Magno today.

    Tagged #Alex Magno

  2. "For instance, two columnists of Philippine Star—Alexander Magno and Domini Torrevillas—-were named members of the National Historical Institute on March 4 and 5, respectively, with a tenure of office expiring on 2016."

    More ‘midnight appointments - ABS-CBN

    Good lord almighty. If it were actually impossible (I shouldn’t say that, anything is possible) I think the field of history is actually going to get worse in the country. Worse.

    The NHI is tasked with taking care of Philippine history. You need, on the board, experienced and well-informed historians, sociologists and anthropologists. Not a misguided economist and I don’t know what Tordevillas is. A paid hack?


  3. GMA Apologists on the loose

    The worst part of making all these decisions is that there is no unified quantitative measure for declaring success of failure. Each achievement will have to percolate in political and economic time — and even then might seem to evaporate.
    It has been fashionable to try and tar the outgoing administration with the tag “transactional politics.” As a political scientist, the term always struck me as a redundancy. All politics is transactional in the etymological sense of that term. Every political actor deals with an endless cycle of action and counteraction, stimuli and responses.
    Only tyrants can think of their actions as having no counteractions. The curse of democratic leadership is that effective leaders need to compromise, cut deals and find win-win solutions to even the most intractable problems.
    Urgent tasks (1) - FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno | The Philippine Star News Opinion

    Oh Magno, here we go again with the thinly veiled GMA apologies.

    Anyway, I do disagree completely with his not so subtle assertion that there are no defined qualitative measures for the success or failure of the GMA administration. They were signed into international agreement in 2000 and GMA even designed her Medium-Term Development Plan from 2004-2010 around them. And her track record in achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been abysmal.

    In terms of eradication of extreme poverty, we have backslid since 2003. In terms of primary school enrollment we have backslid. As a matter of fact, our education metrics are the worse of any country with our comparable per capita GDP. Population growth does not explain that. Only failure in government does.

    So, yes there are clear measures to define the failures of the GMA administration. Clear and hard metrics that have failed to be achieved the last term. If on the one hand you are going to tout the (mis-leading) economic growth numbers, you cannot on the other blame the world financial crisis for the failures to show measurable progress in meeting the MDGs over the last six years.

    Apology not accepted.


  4. Magno should pay attention to the rest of the world…

    Magno continues to push the party line; not even paying attention to trends in how elections are run in the rest of the world. For someone who continually pushes the hackneyed free trade line; his awareness of non-economic related world issues is staggering.

    Glitch - FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno | The Philippine Star News Opinion

    We went only halfway into the automation process. Instead of going fully digital, touchscreens and all, we decided we wanted paper ballots and a machine that counts them and then transmits the canvass wirelessly.

    This brilliant line came courtesy of Magno’s part hit-piece on Comelec and admin critics/Part apology on behalf Comelec and admin/part snarktacular and smug column from today.

    Shame on Magno.

    First, if he had done his research he would know that almost every country in the world that has gone to touchscreen voting has instead reverted back to paper ballots and machine counted. Simply, they are less prone to voter intimidation and disenfranchisement.

    On June 1, 2009 Newsweek ran an article concerning automated (touchscreen) voting:

    When Ireland embarked on an ambitious e-voting scheme in 2006 that would dispense with “stupid old pencils,” as then–prime minister Bertie Ahern put it, in favor of fancy touchscreen voting machines, it seemed that the nation was embracing its technological future. Three years and €51 million later, in April, the government scrapped the entire initiative. High costs were one concern—finishing the project would take another €28 million. But what doomed the effort was a lack of trust: the electorate just didn’t like that the machines would record their votes as mere electronic blips, with no tangible record.

    We Do Not Trust Machines: The People Reject Electronic Voting

    Lack of transparency? No voting record? Ireland rejecting it?

    Great to know that Alex Magno obviously knows more about implementing a touchscreen automated voting system than the entire country of Ireland. A country that spent 51 million pounds and still couldn’t get the damn system to work.

    What is important to note there is: the people did not understand the system, so they shut. it. down. That is respecting the electorate. Something that has been woefully absent here. Magno’s column is a perfect example. They look at the electorate as sheep; little automatons there to do their bidding (and yes I am including Magno with the administration). Respect them? Pshaw.

    Continuing from the same Newsweek article:

    One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or a Luddite to understand the fallibility of electronic voting machines. As most PC users by now know, computers have bugs, and can be hacked. We take on this security risk in banking, shopping and e-mailing, but the ballot box must be perfectly sealed.

    At least that’s what European voters seem to be saying. Electronic voting machines do not meet this standard.

    A backlash against e-voting is brewing all over the continent. After almost two years of deliberations, Germany’s Supreme Court ruled in March that e-voting was unconstitutional because the average citizen could not be expected to understand the exact steps involved in the recording and tallying of votes. 

    What people like him and his ilk forget is that the voting process must be understandable by the voter. That is a fundamental part of voting. This is very clearly why this process was doomed from the start: voter education was completely lacking. The automated process was never properly explained to the vast majority of the population; essentially leaving the election (on the electorate side) open to suggestion, coercion and fraud.

    Whether it’s new and shiny or not, the election process must be understood by the people. So, hinting with a bit of sneer that we did not go about the process properly and should have gone to shiny touchscreen machines is flawed as an argument. You do not shift a population from paper ballots to touchscreens; especially when more educated populations are categorically rejecting touchscreen machines in favor of paper ballots.

    While I have many issues with the implementation of the system by the Comelec; they did do something right in the very beginning. They chose a paper ballot system: a system that is inherently more secure than a touchscreen fully automated system by dint of there being a paper trail and additional redundancies built in. The problem is, the Comelec has been systematically removing those redundancies and security measures in place to ensure an accurate balloting.

    That is the issue that Magno and other columnists seem to be overlooking. All of us have wanted the automated polling to work well. The thing is there have been issues cropping up left and right; issues identified by international non-partisan groups as well. Were we supposed to ignore them? Stick our heads in the sand? 

    Has that not been the problem with this country? Not enough people taking an active interest in the machinations of the government.

    None of us wanted the damn thing to fail, all of us still hope it will succeed. What we have been doing is identifying the issues in the hopes that the Comelec will take notice and address them.

    They haven’t, and here we are. Still praying, still hoping. In the words of a good friend: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

    It’s what all of us have been doing. And maybe it’s a difference of opinion. For us, the worst that could happen is a failure of elections and the perpetuation of GMA.

    For Magno and others? Maybe that’s the best case scenario.


  5. A face palm moment…

    I always thought GMA defenders and admirers are a bit like a duck-billed platypus: You’ve seen pictures of them, you’ve heard about them, but you can’t believe something like it could actually exist until you see it in person. And when you do see it, you wonder how it could survive in the real world; I mean, there has to be something physically or mentally wrong with it.

    My theory helps explain writers like Carmen Pedrosa or Marichu Villanueva or even Alex Magno. You read their columns and their thinking clearly exhibits a disconnect from reality. In fairness to Magno though, he is a free trade advocate and GMA has been a free trade supporter, so from that perspective it does make some sense (even if I think free traders with regards to the Philippines have a screw or two loose). But the other two? Screws. Loose. All of ‘em.

    Moving on, with that in mind I read a comment on Magno’s column today (a curious column by the way, where he continues to try and deflect attention away from corruption. Obviously, since by all corruption measures GMA fails and fails hard):

    to gloria haters, look at where the philippines is, economically that is. two years after the 2008 disaster, we are still afloat. the economy had been churning out positive numbers for over 30 quarters successively. very few countries in the world managed to do that. regarding the poor? they will be the last to feel the resurgence of the economy, that is if it doesn’t get derailed by the policies to be implemented by the incoming adminstration.

    THEY EXIST! Hot damn.

    Key points:

    1. OFW remittances have been one of the primary economic factors keeping us afloat;
    2. Our banks have the lowest loan to asset base ratio in the region (and in the world). Thus, our banks were not over-leveraged and, thus, were protected from the fall out in the banking sector;
    3. Our private sector was already highly consolidated because of the 1997, 2001, 2003 economic crashes. We were already at rock bottom;
    4. Our investment outlets, internally, are extremely vanilla. Our capital markets cannot support derivatives yet, we do not have the market expertise or infrastructure to properly value and sell them;
    5. Our capital markets are very very shallow; mostly invested in fixed deposits, basic stocks and bonds;
    6. What were the roots of the crash? Over-leveraged banks, unwinding derivatives, over-borrowed and extended consumers. None of which exist in this market.

    So, regarding the poor.  That’s ludicrous. The growth of our economy has been based on OFW remittances and outsourcing. The industries in which our poor are mostly located is farming and fishing: where a whopping 37% of our impoverished (those living below the national poverty line) are. Even more, those living under the $2.00 per day mark is 45% (according to the World Bank).

    We have been pursuing a policy of free trade and open markets, two policies that limit development of those core industries (along with manufacturing). Since 1990, levels of poverty have almost stayed the same! Since 2003, levels of poverty have increased! That is a case of serious structural inefficiencies in our economic policies.

    • How can there be a trickle down effect to the poor when asset inequalities are expanding? Want to know a key part of why our economy growth, on paper, looks good? Take a look at the expansion and diversification of our major companies. They’ve been (through misguided privatization of government asset policies) accumulating high value assets (such as power and water).
    • How can there be a trickle down effect when our banks are holding onto credit?
    • How can there be a trick down effect when most of the remittances go to consumption, as opposed to reinvestment and expansion of existing micro-entrepreneurial businesses?
    • How can there be a trick down effect when eco and cultural tourism has taken a backseat to casinos and other exploitive tourism policies?
    • How can there be a trickle down effect when pork barrel does not end up capital infrastructure projects, but in the pockets of politicians to be used during election?
    • How can there be a trick down effect when education (liberal arts, technical, vocational and so forth) spending is the lowest in the region per GDP?

    The mythical trickle down effect that the GMA administration and defenders have been touting does not and will not exist. The reason is simple: corruption, selfishness and shortsideness among our technocrats and politicians. Policies that could help the poor remain unimplemented; while pursuit of misguided policies for external (international) adulation from the G7 instead is paramount.

    With regards to more protectionist policies to allow internal development, even the World Bank and the IMF are starting to change their stances. A solid model is what Japan did. They shepherded the development of their internal industries while putting in place the foundation for an eventual marketing of their goods and services internationally. What becomes key here is identifying those areas where we can excel and developing them. Eco-tourism, cultural tourism, agriculture, high value manufacturing, knowledge-based services, research and development and so forth.

    The ultimate victims are the impoverished. This is why I absolutely cannot abide by those who defend the GMA administration and tout her so-called fiscal and economic gains.

    And by the way, the actual question here is: If economic improvements have been so wonderful, how is possible that our poverty situation has not, at the very least, plateaued? Why, instead, has the situation worsened?