Monday, November 28, 2011

All In!

If all that is playing out right now is a politico-legal battle between the Maharlika/Spanish Macapagal Arroyos and the Chinese Cojuanco Aquinos, I'm bent on wondering whether what it will all mean to the working poor like me.

Will any of the spoils go back to the National Treeasury and if so, will it be judiciously and efficiently used to solve the problems created by poverty?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Breaking Up Hacienda Luisita May Not Be A Good Thing

I can understand the jubilation of some people over the Supreme Court's decision to have Hacienda Luisita broken up and divided among its farmer beneficiaries.  On the surface of things, giving land to the landless may seem like a pretty good way of redistributing wealth and reducing poverty.

Under the CARP, farmer tenants are suppposed to get 3 hectares each, but if you divide the total land to be distributed (around 4,000 or 5,000) by the number for farmer beneficiaries (6,000), that result would be farmers having just .75 hectares each.

Kasangga Party List Representative Ted Harresco pointed put something that I've heard before, and it is simply that small farms are basically losing ventures if operated independently.

First, you don't get the economies of scale that would enable you to get farm inputs at a lower price or employ these inputs efficiently.  Second, being a small independently operated farm, the farmer would have a hard time negotiating for a good price for his crop.

Large collectively operated farms, in contrast, have the benefits of being able to negotiate a better deal on farm inputs either through lower prices or better terms.  Moreover, in selling their produce, they can - to some extent - actually have more control over the selling price.

Harresco believes, based on his view of the average lifespan of farmer cooperatives, that it will be very difficult for the farmer beneficiaries who chose to operate their farms individually to make a profit.

Land is capital in economic theory, but in reality, land that is untilled and unproductive is just empty space.

Poverty, as I have said before, is not the lack of money but the lack of options.

A small plot of land limits a farmers options to the crops that would have the best chance of returning profit, it would limit his access to good financing deals, and limit his ability to negotiate a good price for his produce.

Perhaps one way that the farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita can ensure the profitable operation of their individual farms is to reintegrate the small individual plots and operate the land collectively.

This might seem similar to the idea of a Share Distribution Option already tackled by the high court, but, if ever the farmer do create a similar arrangement in the future, it will be without the participation of the Aquino-Cojuancos.

Ending It All

This country went coo coo, a long time ago.

What started it all was the idea that Filipinos, the meek and tolerating lot of brown monkey spunk that they all really are, woke up in the horrible hours of mornig past the middle of february more than 20 years ago and decided to stop what would have amounted to a ten minute war.

Whoever thought that after deposing the son of Satan himself, they'd actually start worshipping the Grand Empress of Yellow?

Go figure.

In more recent times, the feat was repeated when they deposed a King of Whoring qnd Corruption, and replaced him with the Arch Duchess of Machiavellian Arts.

These people are doomed, and yet, like the vagrant snorting a plastic bag full of rugby, they manage to survive the toxic hangover.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Reviewing the Choice People Made in 2010

At this juncture, more people are seeing a widening disparity between what was promised in 2010 and what we're experiencing now.

Perhaps, at this point, it would be good to review the other choices that could have been made in 2010.

The Maguindanao Massacre, Two Years After

I've come to know two people in broadcast journalism who died needlessly. 

One was Ralph Runez, a camera man of RPN9, and another is Hazel Recheta, a reporter of ABC5.

Ralph died fighting people who were robbing him of a video camera he had invested in and Hazel died in a car crash on her way home from a coverage of Mayon Volcanoe.

I attended both funerals.  In both, it seemed the entire broadcast industry showed up and it's really a small community. 

Almost everyone knows everyone, if not directly, then through at atleast one other person.

For some reason, i associate the deaths of Hazel and Ralph with the deaths of the people killed in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.  They were all needless, meaningless deaths.

Reporters, TV cameramen, and news photographers share a common bond.  Those that have gone through most of the beats (yes, there are still beats) and have had their bylines or names on TV or Radio for a few years will probably find it easy to establish rapport with one another - without having to delve into their family histories or college year books.  The rapport is almost instant because you're certain you share a common interest (news) and have a common frame of reference (news).

The killing of so many journalists two years ago sent a shock wave through the community of reporters, cameramen, and photographers.

Some reporters here in Manila actually knew some of the reporters who were killed there.  Some Manila Reporters actually covered stories with the reporters who were killed and some reporters in Manila actually came frok that area.

People outside the community of reporters, cameramen and photogs will probably raise an eyebrow at the fuss being made over the Maguindanao Massacre.  Why are their lives so much more important than the thousands who die every year because of one accident or another, one catastrophe or another?

Well, their lives aren't so much more important than yours or mine. Really.

But then again, come to think of it, your relatives aren't more important than my relatives either or your friends aren't more important than my friends.  If a cataclysm were to happen, would you be alright if your relatives or friends died and not mine?

Thing is, and this was a real possibility for me back then, what if my wife (a reporter back then) had been assigned to cover the Mangudadatus on that fateful day?  What if it were any of the people I knew?

I can't even think about it.

So, from where I am looking at things, I say, it's quite all right to over emphasize the death of journalists on November 23, 2009.  Because, they were all someone's relative, friend, wife, husband, son, daughter . . . .  More so, if journalists can't be safe, neither can ordinary citizens like you and me.

Good night.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I, Citizen...

Perhaps, it is time that the ordinary citizen take heed and recognize that their duty to the country is not limited to that few hours a day once every three years to elect a candidate.

The Citizen is the Sovereign of this Land and yet we let ourselves to be so willingly ruled by mere representatives.

(more to follow)

Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrested, has justice been served?

If this were one of those low budget, no concept Filipino massacre films that might have starred Kris Aquino, the epilogue would probably we flashing on the screen and the air would be filled by the musical stylings of some poor composer who probably gave up asking the film producer for his royalties.

Most Pinoys are duped into paying good money to watch such films, that are almost always falsely claimed to have some kind of moral lesson.

Some people celebrated Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's arrest for electoral sabotage charges filed at the Pasay Regional Trial Court. Perhaps the fact that it was 'electronically' raffled off to Judge Jesus Mupas, who had previously been penalized for sitting on cases and is currently saddled with 500 cases, should add even more glee to already the hysterical schaedenfraude frothing in the corners of some media outfits and government offices.

The way it looks, the case against Congresswoman Arroyo seems set up so it can drag on and all the while, she'd have to remain under arrest - either at her house, at the hospital or perhaps, the Pasay City jail.

Surely, there can be no sympathy for the accused even as people watch images of her in a sickly state.  Surely, she could be feigning sickness just as she feigned innocence amidst the many charges of grand scale corruption lobbed against her administration.

After all, didn't we all hear the 'Hello Garci' tapes and all the other stories of how she manipulated the elections in 2004 as well as 2007?  Weren't we all watching as the Senate conducted probe after probe that, for the most part, claimed that the former President was the mastermind of some of the biggest corruption allegations in our history?

The Fertilizer Fund Scam and  the NBN ZTE Deal, in fact, were epic investigations spanning the terms of two Senate Blue Ribbon Chairmen. 

Don't we all remember that?

The fact is, a lot of us do.  But, perhaps, not enough.

The 'Hello Garci' hearing was as much about every single politician, local and national, who used various illegal means to ensure their victory at the polls.  It was an indictment against those who planned and participated in the wholesale corruption of our country's electoral process.  It was a condemnation of all those who stood by silently or covered their eyes as one of our most fundamental democratic rights was gang raped, bludgeoned to death, runover with a back hoe, heaved like a sack of trash into a pit and then buried.

Hello Garci was not just about politicians, it was more about us and our great capacity for tolerating the wrongs that we see as long as we can benefit from it - one way or the other.

If Filipinos have one talent that soars above every other talent that they are supposed to possess innately, it is going with the flow.

Going with the flow and jumping on the bandwagon was what led people to elect Joseph Ejercito Estrada as President and going with the flow led to his downfall.

If we were all somewhat right in the head when former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was being impeached on Jueteng and other charges, the crowds that gathered for EDSA DOS wouldn't have materialized after senators left the impeachment trial on account of an unopened envelope.

We all forgot about the rule of law back then.  We all forgot about due process.  We forgot about all the principles that make democracy stable and able to function. 

We forgot that the Impeachment Trial was not a court of law in the traditional sense, but a court of politicians - yes - lying, cheating, stealing politicians.

We simply held our hands up, surrendered to the impulses of the moment, and went on a tililing rampage. 

Back then, the people who trooped at EDSA, probably thought, nothing could be worse than Estrada.

Years later, the people who supported the ascent of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as President under a Constitutionally doubtful process, would abandon her as soon as it seemed to be the right time to do so. 

Cabinet members resigned without having to admit to any participation to any wrongdoing that made it possible for Gloria to shovel tons of money into the hands of corrupt Comelec officials, teachers, military men, local government officials, and voters.

Those who ran under her party coalition, had received generous support from her, and got elected would later try to erase any affinity that they had forged with her -- some having a more difficult time than others.

If it isn't obvious to you, let me spell it out...

We were unprincipled participants in a grand ruse motivated by political opportunism in 2001 Erap was thrown out of the Palace, when Gloria was installed, and when the 2004 elections were cheated wholesale.

And now, here we are. . . Going with the flow, duped into supporting the selfish interests of those in power.

Did the events prior to Gloria's arrest demonstrate that the main actors and their followers in this current political drama show that they had developed a capacity to wield principles?

Without being guided by principles, the ensuing action against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not justice but retribution delivered out of vindictiveness.

Over the past few days, we saw the Aquino administration ruthlessly use the very same tactics they criticized the Arroyo administration for.  They used the previous administration's Immigration Watchlist Order (which they already knew to be unconstitutional) against Gloria Arroyo, an instrument whose requirements weren't even satisfied - the suject of the watchlist order must be charged with a crime.  Despite the TRO issued by the Supreme Court, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima ordered the Bureau of Immigration to prevent Gloria Arroyo from leaving and effectively denied her Constitutional right to travel freely.

Already, Gloria Arroyo has been deprived of her rights without seeing a day in court, just as she had once people thrown in jail for rebellion charges.

If that's justice, then it is justice in a barbaric and capricious way.

(More aggravation to follow.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Arrest Warrant being served to former President Gloria Macpagal Arroyo

GMA charged with electoral fraud and arrest ordered in an hour

(Mugshot of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo?)

Within less than eight hours, former President now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was charged by the Comelec with committing electoral sabotage and then ordered to be arrested by the Pasay Regional Trial Court.  Perhaps no other government official or politician accused of committing crime or corruption has been dealt charged and then ordered arrested with such speed.

Here's a portion of the report on the Comelec charging Arroyo  from GMA NEWS TV.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday filed a case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for electoral sabotage in the 2007 elections.
According to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, the Comelec filed the case at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112 under Judge Jesus Mupas.
Former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol were included in the charge sheet but former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo was excluded for insufficient evidence.
In a text message to GMA News Online, Mrs. Arroyo's legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said his official reaction to the filing of the case was "INAYKUPOO!"

Here's a portion of an ABS-CBN NEWS DOT COM report on the arrest warrant issued against Arroyo:
A Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge has issued an arrest warrant against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after she was charged with electoral sabotage by the Commission Elections (Comelec) on Friday morning. 
Pasay RTC 112 Judge Jesus Mupas issued the arrest warrants for Arroyo, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol. 
As of posting time, Mrs. Arroyo was still at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City, but is booked to leave for Singapore at 5:10 p.m. 
Ampatuan is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in connection with the Maguindanao massacre. Bedol is also under detention.

I am sure a lot of those who hate former President Macapagal-Arroyo are rejoicing at the apparent victory this represents.  I haven't checked Twitter yet but I can already guess what the Tweets are going to be like.

Filing charges, of course is the first step, the question now is, CAN THEY CONVICT HER? WILL SHE SPEND AT LEAST ONE DAY IN JAIL?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Department of Gaffes

Former President now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 8:11 in the evening.

This was just after a couple of hours after the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the Department of Justice's Immigration Watch List Order (WLO). 

The WLO is an instrument under DOJ Department Circular 41and the circular specifies the requirements that must be submitted by those under WLO in order for them to be granted an Allow Departure Order.  Under Section 7 of that circular, people under the WLO are required to submit affidavits detailing their travel itinerary, report to the DOJ upon their return, and seek the permission of those prosecuting their case.

Conversations on twitter and facebook repeatedly churned claims that there is no pending case against the Arroyos, though the couple were named as respondents in a joint DOJ Comelec investigation on electoral fraud. (

The Arroyo couple were prevented from leaving on a flight to Singapore, by order of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.  The justice secretary reportedly ordered the Bureau of Immigration to prevent the Arroyo couple from leaving the country.  A request was also made to the Department of Transportation and Communication to instruct relevant agencies to do the same.

What erupted at the airport was a dramatic spectacle of Gloria Arroyo arriving on board an ambulance of St. Luke's Hospital.  Wearing her halo vest, she was seated in a wheel chair and for a few moments TV cameras were allowed to soak in the image of a once powerful woman looking diminished, aged.

It was said that the show was meant to inspire sympathy for her.

Then, after an hour or so, the Arroyo couple left the airport with First Gentleman Arroyo shouting that the Aquino Administration was without conscience and that the former President despite her condition had been treated cruelly.

Congresswoman Arroyo's spokesperson was also heard comparing what happened to Martial Law.

Other members of the Arroyo camp wailed over the Aquino Administration's trampling of an individual's right to the presumption of innocence and right to travel.

I've heard it said, an individual can be deprived of his rights only by a court of law.

A former classmate at UST asked me on Facebook about what has happened to the 40,000 others under the DOJ's watchlist order.

And I thought a bit, then asked, "where is cito lorenzo?" of the fertilizer fund scam fame?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Nationalist Cause

(Responding to Herman Tiu Laurel.)

There are many ways to think about what being nationalistic means.

Some serve their countries with a gun in their hands and others hold peace rallies denouncing the brutalities of war. Others insist on using the native tongue (whatever that may be in an archipelago with several languages/dialects) and others call for he removal of 'Filipino' language classes, stressing the bigger pay off from gaining proficiency in English.

Still others believe that nationalism is best manifested in protecting Filipino businesses and compelling Filipinos to buy nothing but Filipino products - regardless of quality or cost.

But, what is a nation? How does one become nationalistic?

It would be surprising to figure out just how nationalistic Jose Rizal would be in the context provided by Manuel L. Quezon. Rizal wanted representation in the Spanish Cortes, Quezon wanted independence.

On one hand, Rizal's nation was the Philippines as a province of Spain. Quezon's nation was what he and other landed caciques negotiated with the American Congress.

The nation, as rendered by so many politicians after Quezon, is basically one where their interests and wealth were protected.

If you had asked the sons of people who toiled in their land, the workers in their factories, and the servants that cleaned their out houses, their definition of what a nation is would probably be vastly different.  It would probably be closely linked to their physical communities, just like the ancient Muslim Kings conceived of their settlements.

(However, imagining an alternate Philippines as a proletarian Utopia gives me the same shivers as the Behavioralist Heaven of BF Skinner.)

Regardless of how nation would have been conceived, I think that we are at the cusp of redefining it and it has never been completely defined.

In this age of social networking and BPOs, I think the very idea of where one's community is and where one actually works has changed for a few million Filipinos.

Of the infinitessimally small portion of Filipinos who earn a living online, a number might come to the realization that it really doesn't matter what nationality is paying for your work.  The only thing that matters is that the money comes in and projects are turned over on time, according to specs.

If you take it further and imagine what they do with the money they earn, you'd probably be shocked by the anti-nationalistic spending that they do.  Most of what they buy is probably imported, with a few exceptions.

Even if they wanted to buy all Filipino, they'd have a tough time doing so.

Just consider Coca Cola or San Miguel beer.  You'd think that Coke actually has Philippine sugar in it, but it doesn't or at least, not as much as it should have. And then consider San Miguel Beer, does the Philippines produce barley or hops?

Have you ever eaten Jollibee Palabok? The three or four shrimps they have there most probably come from Thailand.

When you flip on a light, do you think that the power coming through it comes from Philippine coal burned in Philippine made coal plants?

The point is, the things that make our lives as Filipinos living in the Philippines convenient or enjoyable are all imported completely or are made from imported components.

What most people aren't aware of and what most very rich people aren't willing to state plainly is that more Filipinos could actually have more of these things if there weren't constitutional provisions that barred the 100 percent foreign ownership of capital.

The kernel of the idea is simple, if we didn't have such a restriction on foreign capital, we'd probably see a bigger influx of foreign business here in the Philippines. More businesses equals more people employed, higher demand for goods and services, more people with purchasing power, better prices for goods, etcetera.

If, for example, more foreign businesses set up shop here, perhaps there'd be a greater demand for power and the ordinary consumer wouldn't have to be burdened with paying for the over capacity of power producers.

The way things are, foreign businesses thinking of setting up business here probably encounter the 60/40 ownership limits and try to figure out what it will really cost them.

Most foreign businesses balk at the idea of either ceding control of their business to Filipino counterparts or look for partners to put up the 60 percent stake that's needed. The result? Well, fewer foreign businesses coming in, less people being employed, fewer people with purchasing power, and the cost of goods being higher than it should be.

How many Filipinos do we know of can really afford to have a 60 percent stake in any major, multi-billion peso enterprise?  I have no idea, but if the pareto theory holds true, then perhaps 20 percent of Filipinos own 80 percent of the capital. 

So, a foreigner coming here wanting to invest cannot do so unless a Filipino or several Filipinos can put up a 60 percent stake in the business.

The thing is, the typically overly shrewd Pinoy will probably look at the foreigner and figure that he has the upperhand, then try to put one over the foreigner.  How?

Well, it can happen in a number of ways and the simplest example is this:

The Filipino investor will probably tell the foreigner that he doesn't have enough capital to put up 60 percent, but can manage only 10 percent. Granting that the foreigner has some strategic interests in the Philippines and really wants to set up shop here, the Filipino investor could tell the foreigner to put up 90 percent of the capital but on paper make it look like a 60/40 split. Now, arrangements can be made internally for splitting up the profits, but instead of the Filipino earning just 10 percent (the proportion of funds he invested) he could probably play his upperhand and demand more than 10 percent of the profits for his trouble.

But getting 20 percent for 10 percent of the stake in the business is even small in some cases.  Some are even just nominal stakes.

Now, how's that for entitlement?

That, my friends, is how the rich get richer here in the Philippines.

Can anyone say PLDT? How about TV5? Ayala? SM? Cojuanco? Aquino? Marcos? Ramos? Macapagal?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

#Comelec commissioner #Gus #Lagman refuses to acknowledge the elephant in the room

This is a short post because it is a Sunday and I'm trying to lose all the calories i ate last night.

OES proponent and now Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman is railing at what he claims to be a Smartmatic-TIM lobby aimed at getting the government to purchase a number of machines used in the last elections.

If at all the claims he made about the Smartmatic PCOS machines being riggable or seriously flawed are true, it should lead to the conclusion that the results of the 2010 automated elections are dubious and should be scrapped.

Prior to the elections, all presidential candidates that could spare the time met with officials of Smartmatic and Comelec to be 'briefed' and 'assured' that the automated election system would work as claimed. 

There were at least two demonstrations and briefings done for the benefit of the Aquino camp.

If at all the automated election system was rigged, it was most likely rigged for the biggest winner - which is Lagman's benefactor of sorts.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Who's behind Baron Buchokoy?

Benign0 makes a fine point as usual about Baron Buchokoy's refusal to to come out in the open and answer a couple of questions about his work.

But even without Buchokoy, people have already been coming out to speak for him and are putting out speculations about his motives. 

Some say he's working for Senator Bongbong Marcos and is crafting these videos to spread a revisionist view of the Marcos years.  It's easy enough to take this view, a number of Buchokoy's videos does paint former President Ferdinand Marcos and the Marcos Regime in a favorable light.

But then again, parts of some of Buchokoy's video also casts Senator Villar's C-5 scam in a better light and his latest video makes use of soundbytes from Senator Dick Gordon.  It also makes references to the plight of Hacienda Luisita Farmers.

President Benigno Aquino's communication team and Budget Secretary Butch Abad dismisses the video as belated anti-Noynoy propaganda, even hinting that former President Gloria Arroyo's camp may be behind the video.

Pedro Jacobo aka Pedestrian Observer, in a thread on Inday Varona Espina's wall, says that it really doesn't matter who made the video. He says those behind it obviously know what they are doing and his real concern centers around those who believed the video outright.

Then again, granting that Buchokoy did take a pretty liberal license in constructing an alternate view of history to come up with an engaging narrative, could it be much worse than believing the propaganda that President Aquino pumped out during the campaign season last year? Could it be much worse than believing the current Administration's propaganda that tries to convince people that the government is indeed functioning?

Going beyond this, what are the ideas being put forward by Buchokoy? And why did he chose to use Marcos and other people as elements in his narrative?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Who is Baron Buchokoy of Pinoy Monkey Pride?

For the past couple of months, people at the FB groups Get Real Philippines Community and The AP Group have had the privilege of enjoying the premiere showing of Baron Buchokoy's videos.

Although I was always impressed with the way Baron uses animation, sound-bytes, and video clips to convey his ideas in quite an artistic manner, I never really thought he'd actually go viral in ginormous way.

So, when his "AQUINO COJUANGCO: FACTS THEY DONT WANT YOU TO KNOW" video started to accumulate a huge number of hits and started becoming viral, I was awed.

I reached out to him through Facebook and asked him through a direct message to ask if he would be available for interview on television, I received a short polite response:
Thanks sa offer. But I want to maintain my efforts as an idealistic effort. Meaning I don't want to attribute it to one person (me). If I stay anonymous, it would be easy for people to become part of it. Until a solid figure who embodies "Fight Filipino Ignorance" comes out.
Other friends who either produce or report for TV News programs are seeking him out.

Anyway, I can't help but compare Baron Butchokoy to Mideo Cruz and the comparison leads me to say, "Simply sticking a dick on someone's forehead to get your point across is a cheap ploy. Baron conveys his message with vigorous imagery and a great sense of narrative."

For more of Baron's videos, I suggest you visit his Youtube Channel  

Monday, November 07, 2011


How did the Aquino's and Cojuanco's emerge as the country's foremost economic and political clan?  Are our news media organizations really turning a blind eye and keeping quiet about how the Aquino-Cojuanco clan managed to amass and continues to wield great wealth and power in the Philippines?

Baron Buchokoy of Pinoy Monkey Pride productions tries to answer these questions his latest video "Aquino Cojuanco: Facts they don't want you know"

While it proves a bit challenging to believe outright, the narrative flow forged by arresting imagery combined with right-on-the-money sound-bytes somehow makes it easy to suspend disbelief for 15 minutes -- which is the length of the three part video.

Baron Buchokoy rails at the oligarchy, however, in my mind the enemy really isn't the powers that have come to be, but the culture of the people that have made it possible for them to rise.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

#RHbill, the false notions of overpopulation and population control

#RH bill proponent Fails to Prove Overpopulation

As you may have already noticed a lot of pro-RH people on twitter have been using the overpopulation arguement to get people to support the passage of House Bill 4244.

This argument may seem to be the strongest one.

For one, people on twitter are probably talking with people in urban population centers. Most urban centers are, in fact, crowded and it's quite easy to find a crowded place, then say that the crowding is the result of overpopulation.

Take the case of one Doctor who claims that Baguio is overpopulated mainly because the poor people there didn't have access to free contraceptives and therefore bred like rabids. 

The doctor, a young man with naked pictures of men on his twitter account, claims to be a native of a northern province near Baguio and claims to know the demography of the area.

If it hasn't struck you as a bit odd that the soctor would say Baguio is overpopulated, let me clue you in on a couple facts about Baguio. 

That little city was origonally designed as the Summer Capital for our American Occupiers.  It was meant to house important national government offices during the hot summer months that most Americans, back then, could barely tolerate.  Before that, Baguio must have grown from being a trading post in the Benguet area.

In most cities, two types of areas will create congestion: (1) Offices where people work and other people need to make transactions in.  (2) Markets where sellers and buyers converge.

Baguio has continued to be both and over the years, it has also become:

(1) a tourist destination with lots of houses that are rented out to vacationers, small inns, motels, and hotels.

(2) an education center. It is filled with dozens of colleges, highschools, and training centers.

(3) an employment center. In addition to the usual businesses that employ people, Baguio is now also home to BPO's.

Surely, there are a lot more things that draw people to Baguio than the ones I've cited and all of these things combined make Baguio crowded.

The same will be true for places like Cebu City, Davao City, and all other cities and towns in the Philippines.

Sure, cities and towns are crowded! And duh!?!? THAT'S WHY THEY ARE CITIES AND TOWNS, it's because these places have become population centers.

To make a better case for overpopulation, I suppose, you'd have to show that most of the Philippines is populated to a point where there isn't enough land for anything else but people. 

Guess what?  Of the 7,100 islands in the Philippine archipelago, only about 10 percent have people on them. That's why, when you divide the total area of the country by the number of people in it, you'll get a figure that represents what is called Population Density.  That number, my friends, is 313 people per square kilometer.

Guess what? Macau has 48,000 people per square kilometer; Monaco, 49,000/sq. km; Singapore has 18,000/sq. km; and the list goes on and on until at number 60 we reach the Philippines.

Now, popupation density itself is a poor measure in determining whether a given area is overpopulated or not.

Another thing you have to look at is the capability of that area to sustain life or a functioning ecology that would allow a community to have a reasonably good life.

This makes more sense that merely looking at the number of people and saying that a place is over populated.

In this sense, a place somewhere in the expansive but barren wilderness of Alaska, a population of one or two would make it overpopulated.

This is not to say, however, that overpopulation doesn't exist.

To find an overpopulated area, you have to figure out the combined biological needs of a an area and the capacity of the area to supply these biological needs.  If the biological demand exceeds that of supply, that place can be considered overpopulated.

If the proponents of the RH bill really want to make a case for overpopulation in the Philippines, they'd have to prove that the Philippines cannot meet its population's biological needs.

Sometime during the previous administration, proponents of another version of the RH Bill tried to prove the Philippines was overpopulated by pointing to its inability to produce and supply its own rice needs. This was raised as a case without exploring the reasons why the country wasn't producing its own rice needs.

Recent developments, however shed light on the dynamic that led to the almost regular rash of rice shortages and this could be traced to the corruption that characterized the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Only recently, the National Food Authority under Lito Banayo reported the discovery of tons and tons of rice rotting in a warehouse.  Apparently, the rotting rice had been imported at a price higher than what was prevailing at that time. The implication is that the goverment was overcharged and the difference was pocketed by some corrupt official.

Now, rice shortage is the chief justification for NFA to import rice and this shortage happens when rice production dips reason or another. 

During the periods when it was claimed that there were rice shortages, it was also shown that a substantial area of ricelands were being converted to residential or commercial use.  It's not clear what justifications were used, but the clearest motive for selling land or buying agricultural land for conversion is speculation on the demand for housing or commercial development.

Another factor that worked against rice farmers was that the goverment had neglected the country's irrigation infrastructure and over the years, this led to farms going dry.  added to this, farmers here have been basically hemmed by the high cost of farm inputs, post harvest facilities, lack of direct access to markets, and a whole slew of other problems. 

And as if that weren't enough, the cheaper smuggled rice was flooding the market.

Naturally, faced with all these challenges, rice farmers either opted to switch crops or stop farming all together.

With the entrance of new administration, the Department of Agriculture was able to tune up the country's rice industry and for the first time in a long time, the country was able to produce enough rice to supply its own need.

This, if anything, shows that the country has a huge capacity to supply its own food needs.

So, in this respect, is the Philippines overpopulated?  I doubt it.

Now when #RH bill proponents are confronted with these facts and shown that the overpopulation argument is shot full of holes, guess what? They begin denying that the RH bill is meant to curb population growth.  If that were the case, to begin with, why use the overpopulation issue at all?

Instead of being intellectually honest, they move the goal post.

The Philippines, I suppose, is overpopulated only in the sense that there is ahuge population of people between ages 15 and 65 who cannot be counted on to do economically productive activities for most of the year.  So, in effect, a percentage of these people either rely on subsistence activities or underground activities. Perhaps, to a certain extent, these people are also helped by direct doleouts.

Now, for a poor country, the consistent policy being applied in the Philippines decades after World War II is for the state to provide aid and all manner of subsidies to the poor.

With each successive administration, my impression is that the type and amount of subsidies being given has resulted in improved conditions for a larger number of people. Over the past several years, from the Ramos administration to the present, these aids and subsidies have led to longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality.

The problem, I think doesn't simply that there are too many people, but there are too many unproductive people relying on a few productive.  The thing is, a large number of these productive people can be employed as labor in various government projects that can even enhance the productive capacity of the economy.

If, for example, instead of granting Conditional Cash Transfers, the government were to use the money to employ people to repair irrigation, till idle carp lands, collect and convert organic waste from garbage dumps to use as fertilizer; we might be closer to a situation where we might be producing more food.  That increased food production can lead to lower food prices, thereby relieving some of the inflationary pressures experienced by the rest of the population.

What we need to cure is not really the number of people, but the number of people who are not productively engaged.

Still, a better way to go about solving the same problem without government funds is to open up the economy even more and allow foreign companies to own 100 percent of businesses as well as land. This will produce a greater demand for labor, lead to higher productivity, increase the tax base, and in general enable the economic shift that leads to. . . Guess what? Less people making babies.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

#RHbill and overpopulation: The Hysterical Wrestling Match Between Perception and Reality

There are no guarantees that the RH bill will stop or even significantly curb population growth.

What RH bill twitter advocates consistently ignore is that the estimated number of births each year is just part of the equation that leads to population growth. The other part of the equation of population growth is the number of deaths every year.

What causes a population to balloon is not simply more births, but in very simple terms, more births and less deaths.

Despite the high incidence of poverty in the Philippines, the number of children surviving and reaching sexual maturity has been increasing over the past three decades. This factor coupled with an increase in life expectancy has led to the growth of our population.

So even with fewer births every year, we can expect our population to continue growing and continue to have a huge population if we continue to have fewer deaths and more people living longer lives.

The limp-wristed, loose hipped hysteria surrounding the seven billionth child being supposedly born a few days ago is somewhat funny when viewed with this fact in mind.  Especially when you consider that the child is not literally the seven billionth person to be born.

The hysteria is even funnier when it is put forward as a key justification for passing the RH bill.  The current version of the RH bill, it is claimed, will curb population growth and solve the problem of over population.

In my mind, to even begin thinking of slowing down the population growth of any nation, you'd have to figure out how many births a year would be required to maintain the current population level.

Closer Look at a Seems like a State Prescribed Two Child Policy.

The closest that HB 4244 has gotten to stating how many births a year would be ideal is in a rather confused section that says government will encourage couples to have just two children, but will not prevent them from having more than two.

To wit, Section 20 of HB4244 States:
"The State shall assist couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired family size within the context of responsible parenthood for sustainable development and encourage them to have two children as the ideal family size. Attaining the ideal family size is neither mandatory nor compulsory. No punitive action shall be imposed on parents having more than two children."
Apart from being neither here nor there as far as stating an actual policy on the ideal number of children or putting out basis for saying that two is an ideal family size, I wonder if two children per couple will actually lead to slowdown or stop population growth.

The current birth rate is at 25 per 1,000 and infant mortality rate is at 19 per 1,000. I'm not an expert in demographics, but this seems to suggest that we have a net birth rate of 6 per 1,000.

Guess what? The current death rate is at 5 per 1,000!

To have a slower growth rate, with my simple understanding, perhaps, would require decreasing the birthrate by just 1 per 1,000 a year or at a current population of 94 million, that's around 94,000.

The question is, does the confused 'two child policy' of HB 4244 represent a lower or higher birthrate?

If we were to look at the total estimated population of Filipino males and females between age 15 to 64, we have 31 million potential couples. If each of them got it on and made a baby each, you'd actually have 31 million babies a year!

The current gross birthrate is 25 per 1,000 or about 2.3 million per year!

Anyway, perhaps rather than state it as two children per couple, it should be stricken out or replaced with a formula for ascertaining an ideal population size for the country. I guess the math needed to propose such a formula won't be impossible to create.

Higher population of women than men leads to potentially higher population growth

Another thing to consider here is that the ratio of women and men in a population. It's a pretty well known fact that in order to increase population size, you need to have more women than men.

Consider a situation wherein you have 5 men and one woman, the resulting population growth would be one new birth a year. Conversely, a situation where in there is one man and five women, the resulting population growth would be 5 births per year.

Currently, the ratio of Filipino men and women is 1:1 within the 15 to 64 age range.

HB4244 and it's chief method for curbing population growth

The chief method proposed by RH bill advocates as a means of curbing population growth is simply to make Artificial Family Planning available for free to everyone and having family planning information available every where.

This basically assumes that if people are informed and they have the tools at their disposal to act on that information, they will act in the expected manner.

Even casual observation will tell you that most people ignore good advice.

Of course, it's just too bad that not enough people ignore NO PEDESTRIAN CROSSING signs.

The basic fall back argument that RH Bill proponents use is to show "data" that in countries where "contraception" is given freely, the population growth rate goes down.

The problem with this is that we're basically left to "trust" the notion that availability will lead to people using the contraception. That's almost like saying that the availability of a treadmill will make we want to run on it.

In lieu of any measure of certainty indicating that X percentage of fertile women will use contraceptives, RH bill proponents have presented surveys which they claim show a lot of women would use contraception if it were available.

Anyway, as far as surveys go, almost all of them have a funny way of misrepresenting reality or even the perception of reality.  More so if the survey results are released by an interested party.  More often than not, the problem with surveys is how data is interpreted as much as how the data is gathered.

If at all it is possible to have a completely objective survey, then the results from different survey organizations would more or less match each other.  I'll gather examples of this happening with regard to population issues, but for now, let's just say that in general, one survey can contradict another.

This is the reason why I tend to disregard surveys when they presented as empirical data.  This is so especially when the matter being surveyed belongs to.the scope of inner realities -- thoughts, desires, feelings, etecetera.

Moreover, surveys can actually be dead wrong.  During the 2010 elections, we had Presidential surveys left and right, one claiming one candidate as the survey leader and another making a completely different claim.

If surveys where really accurate or could be presented accurately by disinterested parties, then probably Mar Roxas would have been Vice President and Manny Villar would have been second, not third runner up.

Coming fresh from this experience last year, I guess it's just right to entertain a healthy bit of skepticism when it comes to surveys.

Perhaps, the only way you can really ascertain whether a substantial number of women will actually use contraceptives if it were freely available is to do a poll that asks all women to respond. This is kind of like holding an election of sorts and with RH.advocates squealing just how important RH is, i guess the expense could be justified. Thing is, you could probably ask every congressman to assign a portion of their pdaf to poll their constituents.

Till then, in my view, surveys are hardly substitutes for empirical data.

RH bill proponents also say that every teen age pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy.

I have a problem with the term "unwanted pregnancy".

Just consider the problems of ascertaining deliberate intent in a society that basically that practices the "come what may attitude" or "bahala na" attitude.

In a country of people who believes in praying to God while forgetting to steer clear from the rocks, the product of hindsight can find itself in surveys. 

So, the woman who two years ago decided to have sex and is now experiencing the hardship of raising a child will probably have some reason to say that the pregnancy was unwanted. Even during pregnancy, there will be lingering doubts about whether the pregnancy is actually wanted and this is tied up with a lot of issues of uncertainty.

So, if the intent is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, you'd probably have to figure out at what point does a pregnancy actually become wanted or if it could be true that almost all pregnancies happen without intent at all.

Perhaps, the only way that an unwanted pregnancy could really be unwanted is when a woman is raped. 

Then again, perhaps the better term is 'unplanned' pregnancy, but even this term runs into problems.

The thing is most pregnancies can be unplanned in the sense that it really just happens as a consequence of frequently engaging in sex.

To apply the term planned pregnancy, perhaps, one would have to consider the case of couples who have problems getting on the family way. 

This is when couples sometimes undergo costly treatments just to increase the chances of getting pregnant. The treatment sometimes involves regimented coitus, scheduling.the sexual encounter when the woman is most fertile and the man has a sufficient stock of sperm. It can also mean being given drugs to enhance a woman's ovulation process.

So, being outside this definition, perhaps, most pregnancies could be described as unplanned.

Overpopulation can happen with a small population

Overpopulation can be defined as a situation wherein a group of people within a fixed geographic area cannot produce or obtain an adequate amount of resources to sustain its minimum basic needs.  Most people think that overpopulation is merely the number of people within a geographic area and so, take a look at population density alone.

Recently, the Department of Agriculture said that the country was able to locally produce and supply its rice needs.  It boldly proclaimed that the country would also be able to produce and supply it's own need for corn - a major input for poultry farms and cattle growers.

Furthermore, data from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform suggests that there are still large tracts of agricultural land that isn't being used. Some of these lands are being converted into subdivisions and industrial or commercial complexes - a desire for profit more than pressure from an actual need may be the cause for these land conversions.

So, given these facts, I'd say that the Philippines is hardly over populated.

(more later, if i feeel like it)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Is poverty the root of conflict in Mindanao?

In Manila, we can complain about the shitty government services that we sometimes get when we have to deal with one government agency or another.

We can complain about the MMDA reblocking project or MMDA traffic officers create traffic instead of easing it. How, for some reason they can't see jeeps and buses turning every streeat corner into a bus or jeepney station.

Or we can complain about how some city governments perpetually maintain an inordinate number of potholes in major streets. Or how they approve the operation of businesses that aren't supposed to be in residential areas.

Or how the police routinely miss catching criminals. Or how government hospitals and health centers are almost always lacking in medicines or equipment. Or how public schools actually make perfectly sensible children stupider than their parents.

Thing is, it seems we who live in Manila and other urban centers are perpetual complainers.  It's almost a cultural trait that we assimilate from the time that we can walk and talk.

Now, in contrast, we have people in other parts of the country who do not complain about the things we regularly complain about.

They don't complain because they don't have anything to complain about.

They don't have roads, they don't have government hospitals, they don't have schools, they don't even have police, or any of the other government services that routinely gets complained about.

In Manila, we can complain about "the miscarriage of justice" or a "corrupt bureaucracy"; in some places, they don't even have courts or a functioning government office of any sort.

Considering all this, President Benigno Aquino's call for all out justice almost hits the mark.  Perhaps, the better call and one that can be implemented by the executive branch is a call for "all out goverment services".
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