Monday, April 27, 2009

The chaff from the grain

Gen. Alexander Yano’s retirement as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CS-AFP) seems to be overdramatized by some opposition quarters these days. They believe that Yano is being retired a month early because he declined to give support to any Cha-cha moves by telling Gloria Arroyo’s representative that he would only follow what is legal and wouldn’t fire upon the Filipino people if ordered. The other story, however, which I think is more credible is that this is merely part of the deal to ease tensions created by an earlier botched plan to appoint Gen. Delfin Bangit of Class ’78 as the next CS-AFP, leapfrogging Gen. Victor Ibrado of Class ’77. As Ibrado is now slated to replace Yano, he is given more time before Bangit slides in by March of 2010, with Yano getting an ambassadorship in time for the CA hearings--hence, the May 1 retirement.

Gen. Yano is indeed the “professional” soldier that he’s touted to be. So “professional” is he that it seems more priority is placed on this career move rather than on saving the nation from the continuing oppression of the ruling class. Predictably, the rest of the AFP top brass are no different either. They have all been in step with Gloria’s game plan: Satisfy the career issues of promotion and PMA class prerogatives, and the country can go hell. Of course, much more is at stake for Yano--a traditional P50 million “pabaon,” as well as, an additional P150-million sweetener Gloria has reportedly arranged as his golden parachute. Yano is no Hugo Chavez, that’s clear.

All this leaves the “transition government” of Chief Justice Puno high and dry. And since Puno can’t win in an election, that leaves his “moral revolution” on the dry docks too. Thus, all options lynch-pinned on a hoped-for Puno-Yano formula are now kaput, demolished by this “professionalism” in the military.

Providentially, it is this same “professionalism” which also separates the chaff from the grain. The few who dared to stand up, going beyond professionalism to uphold patriotism and nationalism, are seen in the likes of Gen. Danilo Lim, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Gen. Renato Miranda, Col. Ariel Querubin, Maj. Jason Aquino, Lt. Dante Langkit, the Bagong Katipuneros (a.k.a. Magdalo), Capt. Nic Faeldon, et al.

Yano, in contrast, will only be joining the ranks of the elite while the country he is supposed to serve sinks deeper in the morass of the following worsening exploitative conditions: 1) industrial power rates--already the highest--and residential rates--second highest in Asia--set to go higher with the approval of the larcenous “performance-based” scheme, giving windfall profits to two new Meralco investors; 2) the perverted globalization-dependent economic paradigm yielding zero growth for the Philippines and more unemployment (which we had predicted from the very start of the crisis).

Speaking of our burdensome power rates, the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reform (Nasecore) protested the manner in which Psalm is carrying out the privatization of government’s power plants--including hydro and geothermal. Even as the law intends the sale to be in different power mixes, Psalm is selling off the most economical hydroelectric plants first, then leaves Napocor only with the operationally expensive fossil fuel plants that perpetually keep power rates high. Is it any wonder that only the oligarchs win in either instance? So would Yano still care about this now that he’s about to join the ranks of the filthy rich?

The triumph of “professionalism” over patriotism, as exemplified by this apparent Yano sell-out, gives ample pause to those who believed that the armed forces, like in many South American countries today, can be a source of our patriotic hope. For as long as the AFP mindset continues to be limited to its officers’ “professional” aspirations--with no regard for principles of nationhood, there can hardly be any truth to the Philippines ’ independence and sovereignty. So as I look at the aftermath of the Daniel Smith-“Nicole” case, I can only laugh, because I only see a comedy from the very start. “Nicole” is the quintessential poor Filipino girl, same as any extremely poor African, Thai or Indonesian lass, who chooses to escape from poverty and misery by succumbing to the wiles of a US visa, even at the risk of personal or national pride.

Thank God for the grains of gems in our midst, symbolized by the continuing sacrifices of Gen. Danilo Lim, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and company. They are proof that we can continue to hope in our AFP. Maybe the next time around, we’ll have patriotism triumph over careerism and opportunism for a change. Right now, though, the one benefit we can derive from this Yano letdown is a renewed awareness of our need to wage a continuing political conscientization campaign among our military. And as we cling to civilian leadership for the greater part of this mission, let us bear in mind that President Joseph Estrada and the Edsa III forces are the only ones capable of forging opposition leadership, unity, and eventual victory.

Friday, April 24, 2009

An opposition political convention

Convening an opposition political convention to try to agree on a common set of presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and even a common senatorial slate, is a capital idea. There’s no one else that the public will recognize to convene such an event except for the most well-regarded opposition leader. And no one but President Joseph Estrada has stood out as the undisputed opposition symbol and impresario throughout the past eight years of the corrupt, malevolent, and oppressive rule of force of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her foreign patrons. From his strict adherence to the rule of law to his patriotic economics, Estrada is the antithesis to the Arroyo regime.

In our latest Talk News TV episode with the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Secretary-General Mr. Milo Tanchuling, one crucial difference between the Arroyo and Estrada regimes was highlighted by a graph in the FDC’s 36-page report entitled, “FDC on the 2009 National Government Budget.” As it correlated “debt per capita” and expenditure on “social service per capita,” it found that only in the years between 1998 and 2000 (Estrada’s presidency) did social spending exceed debt payment. Compared to available data on the rest and especially on Gloria’s years from 2001 to 2007, where debt payment tripled against social service expenditure, it was shown that Gloria, aside from accumulating more debt than her three predecessor-administrations combined, even reduced social service spending drastically!

There are, of course, many opposition pretenders today for there is tremendous benefit in being identified with the opposition. Gloria Arroyo is Public Enemy No. 1 to 80 percent of Filipino voters, so to be against her is to be with that 80 percent. And yet no one else has sacrificed as much to stand against every transgression of law and morality that Gloria Arroyo and her allies have committed as President Estrada has by choosing to suffer detention for six years and six months, and the humiliation from eight years of lies and calumnies against his self and family. No one else but Estrada has herded the opposition slates through the 2001, 2004 (with FPJ), and 2007 elections by mustering disparate anti-Gloria elements, and has raised the necessary funds and provided winning strategies.

No one but Estrada has also helped inspire decent officers in the military to live up to their principles to take action before corruption overtook them, like the young Bagong Katipuneros a.k.a. Magdalos who staged “Oakwood,” as well as, the February 2006 dissenters whose leaders, Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin, were closest to him.

Major exposés against Arroyo’s corruption were likewise initiated by whistleblowers who took inspiration from Estrada’s resistance--from Atty. Samuel Ong in “Hello Garci” to Sandra Cam in the Arroyo Juetengate. Protest movements throughout the past eight years were largely coordinated under Estrada as well. Many political bigwigs, as a result, had to re-examine their consciences and take back their support for Edsa II and what it spawned--all because of Estrada’s sway.

A lot of our young and budding politicians today were nurtured under Estrada’s guidance too. While some have shown their debt of gratitude by staying true to their ideals, others have either turned their backs on him completely or have chosen to work with Mrs. Arroyo, albeit clandestinely, perhaps thinking that the public won’t see through it. Some of the latter would even deign talk about Gloria, claiming she’s no longer a candidate, as if her errors and transgressions are irrelevant to the future conduct of this country, and as if there aren’t any issues of justice and rectification involved.

Beyond all these, though, the most important quality that separates Estrada from these self-proclaimed opposition leaders is policy advocacy. One pretender, for instance, claims to champion the poor and shows himself on TV ads shaking hands with a farmer and wiping his dirtied hand on his clean shirt, just as another poses in his jeans and flashes his matinee idol smile, while another champions environmental issues. But what’s the real issue? Is it not the poverty (and hunger) spawned by neo-colonial policies of perpetual debt, of granting sovereign guarantees to private Big Business backed by foreign partners, of dependence on foreign “investors” who are nothing more than swindlers, of servitude to the oligarchy, ad nausea? Just look at the pretenders today. They are either openly courting US sponsorship or are being open and willing tools of Big Business and corporate scam artists--all of whom Estrada fought head on, which is why a conspiracy was hatched against him.

Don’t get me wrong: Opposition unity remains to be ideal. The public should demand it even if only to ensure polarization between what Gloria represents and the change that we want. But in all, it’s not about Left vs. Right ideology, but about genuine integrity vs. corruption, sovereignty vs. subservience, debt control vs. profligacy, democracy vs. cabalism, and the rule of law vs. the rule of force.

Let the candidates face the public’s questions and let the people have their say. If any candidate is found worthy, then President Estrada will be compelled to support him or her. Otherwise, Estrada should continue on with his candidacy. Candidates who are unwilling to participate in such exercise should rightly be exposed as Arroyo Trojan Horses, with giant stamp pads stating so marking all their campaign materials when the time comes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sick ‘doctors,’ sick prescriptions

I am down with LBM. The whole family went down with it in sequence, including the househelp. Either the heat triggers some hibernating bacteria or it’s because I didn’t fork over some more money to change our water filters when I already should have. Thankfully, I am recovering faster thanks to my “biozapper,” which positively charges my body’s good bacteria to neutralize the negative ones. I am also upbeat in trying this new, all-natural Chinese powder that’s made up of animal parts, roots, and oils--instead of the cheaper watermelon powder--against another irritant. Stomatitis, which brings out white patches in the mouth, is prevalent in this weather because of how the body reacts to the summer heat. (Since all the males in my family have consistent bouts with it, it’s probably genetic as well.) Coupled with mentholated virgin coconut oil, I’m sure this powder will beat all the western medicines out there by a huge mile!

You’re probably wondering why I am discussing herbal medicines. It’s because former Mayor Jun Simon, in our Saturday radio program, made a parallel between economists prescribing solutions and doctors prescribing medicines.

If so-called doctors and their prescriptions fail, we immediately replace them and their approaches to our illness. But in the nation’s case, RP economists, whether academics from UP or the Ateneo, or those in media and government, like Solita Monsod, Cielito Habito, or Victor Paderanga, have all been advocating failed economic “medicines” that have presided over the deterioration of the Philippine economic well-being and brought it to the ICU. Looking back the past 28 years, their economic prescriptions have been nothing but bitter pills which the country has swallowed, but which have only made us sicker and sicker. Yet mainstream media continue to laud their “expert” economic advice, by giving them various platforms (columns, TV or radio programs) with which to continually spew the poisons that kill our economy.

What are these latest poisons? One, the World Bank (WB) prescribes the Philippines to again increase its tax on fuel to balance the budget. Every Juan, Pepe and Pilar knows by now that more taxes would only rob more money out of the people’s pockets and siphon these off to the big oil companies and banks. Withdrawing money from circulation, in times of economic crisis, is poison to the economy. Even if government collects the tax, it won’t be going to the state anyway but to debt amortization, which would run up to P700 billion, amounting to half of the total national budget of P1.4 trillion. The WB says the new taxes will improve the RP’s standing with the “credit ratings agencies,” but these, like Standard and Poors or Moody’s, are the very same ones that have been discredited because of the US financial collapse by being blind to the many crimes of Lehman’s, AIG, et al.

Second, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas chief is welcoming as a good sign the news that “hot money” is starting to pour into the Philippines again. With US Dollar interest rates at historic lows, money speculators are using these dollars anew to “invest” in RP stocks, currency and money markets. When you match this with the general nature of Gloria Arroyo’s “sell-out” economic policies that fatten corporate profits for banks, privatized utility companies, power and water generators and distributors, as well as, give fantastic yields to speculators, hot money coming in only means more looting of the Philippine economy. In fact, we are losing billions in this manner when we should be tightening up as Malaysia and Thailand have done, by requiring residency durations for such “hot funds” so as not to “burn” our nation’s economy.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), in examining the 2009 National Budget, has exposed many anomalies, including new taxes such as the rVAT and excise taxes, of which a whopping 70 percent presently go to ever-increasing debt repayments. It found that in 2006, for the first in Philippine history, the debt repayment amount exceeded the collection of revenues, which means that our debt is increasing by leaps and bounds. Because of this, there will come a time when “banksters” (bankers cum gangsters) will pull the rug from under us, as what they had done to Argentina in 2000, then blame us for defaulting. My prescription has always been to default way before they do us in. Of course, the US and Britain will be angling to get everything else of value from us, with the charade in Mindanao, involving the Abu Sayyaf and their “white” hostages, just being the latest.

I have said on my radio programs that the Abu Sayyaf will not behead the whites as they’re only capable of beheading their fellow “brownies.” Moreover, the kidnapping was timed for Blair’s arrival and his message of “a-peace-ment,” as well as, for mainstream media to extol the US Balikatan forces before the Filipino public, with daily news of their house-painting and medicine distribution for poor Filipinos. Similarly, human rights abuse issues are being lobbed against one of the few who have stood up against the VFA, Mayor Rudy Duterte. Although many may not like him because he is, no doubt, a “trapo,” the more important issue is his willingness to stand up to the imperialist’s claws, coupled with his peace and order record, of which majority of Davaoeños hold Duterte in high esteem.

Just as there are illnesses of the body, and of our economic and political well-being, that have been dealt poorly by countless prescriptions, suffice it to say that if the present situation persists, we are really hopeless. But, as we continue to live, we continue to breathe hope, and that will be the subject of Friday’s column.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulong Pilipinismo, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Monday with Atty. Alan Paguia, Wednesday with former Mayor Jun Simon, Friday with Ver Euistaquio / May Pag-asa, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; Talk News TV, Destiny Cable, Channel 3, 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday, with FDC on “Rising from Debt: The Imperative for Survival;” also visit

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Injustice upon the Thai people

What happened in Thailand recently between April 11 and 14 is not very different from what happened here in Edsa Tres from April 29 to May 1, 2001. The forces of the Establishment (which include the elite, oligarchy, plutocracy or specifically, in Thailand ’s case, the monarchial cabal) ordered their captive armed forces to shoot on unarmed citizens of their own land. Like in Edsa Tres, scores of Thai anti-Establishment “reds shirts” were mowed down and carted off to be hidden from view and only two deaths were reported. As it was in Edsa Tres, pictures or videos exposing these atrocities, which Thaksin Shinawatra in his cable TV news interview tried to point out with futility, were deliberately suppressed by mainstream media. These historic injustices against the respective peoples of these “twin sister-nations” must therefore be addressed by these two together.

Let us clarify the real issues by looking at the timeline of events that led to the present crisis. Thaksin Shinawatra was legally elected as prime minister in 2001, and again in 2005, with the largest voter turnout in Thai history. As chief administrator of Thailand , he introduced the first-ever universal health care system and boosted rural agricultural and cottage industry economies--by extending unprecedented investment funding and by writing off un-payable farmers’ debts to jumpstart economic recovery. He made decisive moves to quash the endemic drugs trade, wiping out 2,000 drug dealers, which earned him the enmity of so-called human rights advocates. He put Thailand ’s economy on the map by driving hard bargains with the Asean for his country’s truck manufacturing program.

Because Thaksin’s actions on the privatization programs imposed by the globalists were neither here nor there, as the privatization of the electricity generation and distribution sectors became long-drawn-out, such elicited the latter’s displeasure. What followed was that the controversial sale of the Thaksin family’s Shin Corp. to Temasek Holdings of the Singapore government was charged by opponents as corrupt. However, some view this merely as a case of rivalry with other interested buyers, including the royal family and its allied business groups--not excluding the Western conglomerates. A campaign of demonization against Thaksin then ensued and the “civil society” of Bangkok , composed of urban professionals employed in the financial sector, went into action, much like our local civil society did from mid-2000 to early 2001.

A prime mover of the “yellow shirts” in their siege of the Thai airports in December 2008 (which the police and military did nothing to control), failed media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, had his shrill anti-Thaksin tirades carried prominently by the Dow Jones-owned English newspaper, The Nation. His protracted rallies, meanwhile, funded by bankers to the tune of $25,000 a day, as he later admits, became the platform for their demands to shift from an elected parliament to one selected by the crown to their complaints against what they branded as Thaksin’s “fiscal irresponsibility,” all because the popular leader was well-loved for having distributed funds to poor communities for their development. Limthongkul, thus, led a coalition of activist, labor, professional and Buddhist religious groups--much like our evil civil society, composed of Catholic priests and laity, Makati business groups, leftists and labor movements.

Foolishly, some western media anchors opined that now it seems that only the Thai King can resolve the crisis, overlooking the simple truth that the Thai monarchy has been the root of the problem. For one, the King’s Privy Council, led by US-trained ex-general Prem Tinsulanonda, staged the coup against the twice-elected Thaksin in 2006. Plus, the monarchy not only acquiesced to the sabotage of the economy via the yellow shirts’ occupation of Thailand ’s premier Subvaranabhumi airport, but it tacitly supported the rabble-rousers wherever they went.

The Thai royalty still gets good press from the West; that’s true. But this shouldn’t be surprising anymore as the West is still actually controlled by the monarchies of old, through their control of the western financial system, as evidenced by the Bilderberg group.

Domestically, there is absolutely no criticism of the monarchy too because Thailand is probably the only country in the world to have a lese majeste law that criminalizes any form of insults against the sovereign (the King or Queen, as the case may be). For instance, Harry Nicolaides, an Australian writer, was sentenced to three years upon setting foot in Thailand for allegedly insulting the Royal family in a novel which isn’t even much read anywhere.

I can’t imagine anyone defending such a state of affairs in any modern society, but several columnists in the Philippines are precisely doing that--maybe for fear that they may not be able to do their viajero buy-and-sell of cheap Thai goods anymore.

Truth to tell: Aside from fomenting political instability in Thailand through the outright suppression of the will of the people in two elections (which sounds familiar to Susan Roces’ “Not once, but twice” charge against Gloria Arroyo), the Thai monarchy is responsible for even worse offenses against its own people:

(1) Thailand, with its 64-million population, ranks third in the world in prostitution, with NGO estimates of up to 1.8 million women and children engaged in the officially-sanctioned trade linked to the promotion of its tourism industry that has spawned one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world; (2) up to 20 percent of the population have no sustainable access to clean water, and (3) amid the 30-percent poverty rate, the King is reported by Fortune magazine to be the world’s richest monarch with $35 billion in wealth.

These conditions of injustice have thus led to the call among many for the abolition of the Thai monarchy. What is unfolding in Thailand is a struggle of the people versus the aristocracy--not different from the struggles of the Filipino people against the “elite” and of the people of the world against the global oligarchy--that’s responsible for today’s system of global financial and economic oppression.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulong Pilipinismo, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Monday with Atty. Alan Paguia, Wednesday with former Mayor Jun Simon, Friday with Ver Euistaquio / May Pag-asa, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; Talk News TV, Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; also visit

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

US-UK’s one step forward in Mindanao

Of the many urgent subjects that have piled up over the week, there’s one that mustn’t escape our full and undivided attention: The latest in the US-UK’s drive to take away the richest parts of Mindanao . While the MILF “Ancestral Domain” (AD) ruse suffered a setback when practically the whole nation stood up against it, the US-UK plots have not seized at all. Blair’s visit to Manila to sell “a-peace-ment,” for instance, was one such step, but the more sinister is the recent “human rights” campaign against one of Mindanao’s most militant law-and-order stalwarts: Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. 

Last April 6, 2009, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) suddenly charged Duterte for being behind the “Davao Death Squads.” The Human Rights Commission of the Philippines, in turn, kowtowed by acknowledging the report posthaste, producing nothing but a propaganda windfall for Duterte’s would-be rival Nograles in the next local election. 

Just what is the HRW? Birmingham University -New York Prof. James Petras says it is “a US-based group claiming to be a non-governmental organization, but which is in fact funded by government-linked quasi-private foundations and a Congressional-funded political propaganda organization, the National Endowment for Democracy…” 

HRW has been at the forefront of the destabilization of states such as Yugoslavia and Venezuela. It published a report critical of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez which was shot with “blatant falsifications and outright fabrications.” It also defended the criminal gang in Kosovo--the KLA--which the West used to sow terror in Yugoslavia to justify its destruction and subsequent break-up. 

It builds up credibility through such campaigns as the ban on land mines, but also uses this to undermine countries that are unwilling to yield to the West’s imperial demands. 

To my mind, the reason why Duterte is suddenly on the HRW’s radar is the heightened drive of the US-UK tandem to press the MILF-MoA-AD in a more radical fashion--that is, through the increased use of terrorism and the strategy of tension to justify internationalization of the issue for more intervention. Tough patriots and crusaders like Mayor Duterte will be a major stumbling block to the “Balkanization” of Mindanao by the West. All Filipinos should therefore take this struggle very seriously for the future is in Mindanao, with its oil, gas and natural deuterium in great abundance. 

Meanwhile, our apology for the slip-up in last Monday’s column; something got lost in the transmission. We touched on two of the four measures of Barack Obama and Gordon Brown in the recent G20 summit. These were: 1) a $1.1-trillion for the IMF, and 2) a re-regulation of the financial sector. The first is just to ensure continued flow of Third World (including Eastern Europe ) debt with many strings attached. The second, meanwhile, remains useless for as long as USURY is the name of the game. As what American artist Jim Kirwan, in Usury Remains Untouched, argues: “We have dismantled the most ancient of human laws, the law against usury… We have not focused enough on the big deregulation… (on) the amount of interest that banks can get… (And today,) banks can charge 17, 18, 19, 30, 35 percent, not to mention payday lenders charging 200, 300, 400 percent in states like Illinois (and) California.” 

The main point against re-regulation sans de-institutionalizing usury is: “If you’re able to charge 30 percent... You (will) want people to go into debt… This addicted the financial sector to very, very, very high rates of return compared to what investors were used getting in the real economy, the manufacturing sector, General Motors…” 

Now, on to the third and fourth measures that were cut out--climate change issues and a clamor against “protectionism.” It is quite funny that Obama and Brown stressed the issues of man-made global warming, in spite of the fact that the weather these days isn’t agreeing with them, as cooling patterns are everywhere--from US cold spells to nice cool evenings in Manila . Marina Litvinsky, writing for the International Press Service, headlined: “G20 Leaders Wrangle over Kyoto Successor,” to stress that there is no consensus over this proposed new climate protocol.  

World leaders know that the US-British aim in the global warming scare is to institute the “carbon tax” scheme, to tax everything from power plant emissions to methane from cows’ dung (a greenhouse gas, as reported by The New York Times--I’m not kidding--which would make milk more expensive). Carbon credits trading has already reached $59 billion in the first half of 2008. Once they fool more countries like the Philippines into accepting it because the G20 and the UN say so, it’ll run to the trillions globally, stunt Third World industrialization, and enrich global carbon traders. 

Carbon credits trading has already reached $59 billion in the first half of 2008. Once they fool more countries like the Philippines into accepting it because the G20 and the UN say so, it’ll run to the trillions globally, stunt Third World industrialization, and enrich global carbon traders. 

The fourth proposal--the G20’s warning against protectionism--is, of course, to be expected. Clearly, the US , Britain , China , India , and even Brazil , are all eager to keep markets open for their agricultural and industrial exports. But this would only perpetuate the centralization of the global economy around a few giant economies that want to be super-rich and super-powerful. What we, instead, should do is democratize the global economy by fostering a Nationalist Development Economy (NDE) model for every nation, making each one a positive contributor to the global economy in a trickle up fashion, and reduce their dependency on the global superpowers. We, Filipinos, should champion this NDE paradigm and lead the world into genuine global democracy.  
(Tune in to 1098AM: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. / Saturday, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; also visit

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NDE versus G20 globalization

The G20 summit in London was a great show, but what did it set out to achieve? It promised to solve the global financial and economic collapse but ended with an agenda that only threatens to worsen the crisis. 

Danny Schechter of Global Research says, “Unemployment is climbing. The real estate contagion is now claiming condos and even shopping malls. It’s bad and by most accounts, getting worse. And, all the ‘leaders’ of the world can do is devote ONE DAY to a forum that must have cost millions to stage?” 

All in all, it was a G7 show, with 13 others, including China , India , Brazil , Indonesia , and South Africa , keeping a polite silence as supporting cast. Throughout the summit, Gordon Brown and Barack Obama kept hamming it up with: 1) a $1.1-trillion fund to poor nations through the IMF; 2) re-regulation of the financial sector; 3) climate change issues; and 4) a clamor against turning to “protectionism.” 

Let’s examine the measures closely. First, the $1.1 trillion is ostensibly for the poor, developing countries’ stimulus investments--this, notwithstanding the IMF’s need for massive replenishment after bailing out Ireland, Iceland and the new US satellites in Eastern Europe. Remember that the IMF is mandated to extend loans only to stabilize a country’s exchange rates and assist in its balance-of-payment problems. Funding real stimulus projects for infrastructure or industrial development are therefore not part of it. 

So, here we have another con game that is being played on the rest of the world: The IMF will lend this money to Third World countries hardest hit by the present global crisis only to help pay for their old debts. 

As Michel Chussodovsky explains, “The IMF will lend two more dollars so (that) poor countries can continue to pay their four dollar debt amortization every year”--which naturally, will go back to the banks again! 

For sure, this new money will come with the usual “structural adjustments,” such as more deregulation, liberalization and privatization. Although Brown and Obama believe that they can help their crashing economies this way, it certainly won’t help the poor countries. 

Second, while the two leaders promise, on one hand, to re-regulate the financial sector, they, on the other hand, continue to feed the bankers’ swindle of the world. Such re-regulation is, thus, meaningless as it avoids confronting the fundamental problem that causes the global financial system to run amuck endlessly--the mother of all Ponzi schemes: Usury. 

The Bretton Woods system set up after the Second World War mandated not only fixed exchange rates for the world’s currencies but also a stable interest rate regime limited to 8 and 9 percent. The deregulation of interest rates, however, since the 1970s, simultaneous with the dollar decoupling from gold--making it a fiat currency, spun off the spiraling of interest rates, then pushed these even higher through the entry of creative financial instruments. What we call here “5-6” by “ Bombay ” lenders started happening all over the world. 

As American artist Jim Kirwan, in his Usury Remains Untouched, says: “We have dismantled the most ancient of human laws, the law against usury… We have not focused enough on the big deregulation that precedes all other deregulation, and that’s the ceiling that (is)… the amount of interest that banks can get… In the 1970s we began to deregulate this… And we have today, taken as common, that banks can charge 17, 18, 19, 30, 35 percent, not to mention payday lenders charging 200, 300, 400 percent in states like Illinois, California.” 

His main point then follows: “If you’re able to charge 30 percent... You (will) want people to go into debt… This addicted the financial sector to very, very, very high rates of return compared to what investors were used getting in the real economy, the manufacturing sector, General Motors…” 

Thus, the single biggest stumbling block to the resurgence of the Philippine economy is the foreign (and domestic) debt it is endlessly paying to the bankers’ mafia. As of August 2007, RP’s outstanding debts were placed at $81.9 billion or P3.871 trillion--not including the contingent liabilities conservatively placed at over half a trillion. 

We are taxed more and more to pay for these debts, including 70 percent of the rVAT, with less than 10 percent going to the Katas ng VAT dole-outs of the DSWD, touted by Arroyo ignoramuses as a solution to the crisis. Still, they want to tax us even more--on tobacco and alcoholic beverages, and now, on text. Even if the Philippines is not among the Highly Indebted Poor Countries--as many in Africa are--as yet, we’re headed toward that. 

Quite simply, the G20 did not address the debt bomb because the G7 won’t allow it. Instead, it will exacerbate the problem with this new IMF loan to indebt countries like us even more. 

Third, Obama and Brown stressed the issues of climate change or man-made global warming, in spite of the fact that the weather these days isn’t agreeing with them. Cooling patterns are everywhere--from US cold spells to nice cool evenings in Manila . 

Marina Litvinsky, writing for the International Press Service headlined: “G20 Leaders Wrangle over Kyoto Successor.” There is thankfully no consensus over this proposed new climate protocol because every nation knows the US-British aim in the global warming scare is to institute the “carbon tax,” to tax everything from power plant emissions to methane from cows’ dung (a greenhouse gas, as reported by The New York Times). 

Carbon credits trading has already reached $59 billion in the first half of 2008. Once they fool more countries like the Philippines into accepting it because the G20 and the UN say so, it’ll run to the trillions globally, stunt Third World industrialization, and enrich global carbon traders. 

Fourth, the G20 warned against protectionism--of course! The US, Britain , China , India , and even Brazil , are all eager to keep markets open for their agricultural and industrial exports. But this would only perpetuate the centralization of the global economy around a few giant economies that want to be super-rich and super-powerful. Instead, we should democratize the global economy by fostering the Nationalist Development Economy (NDE) for every country, making every nation positive contributors to the global economy in a trickle up fashion, and reduce dependency on the control of global superpowers. 

Continued Friday... 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

From slaves to servant-leaders

When the Philippines imported “amahs” for its elite families and the US indentured Chinese coolies by the tens of thousands to work on its railroad system in the 18th Century, the term “nation of servants” could have been hung on the necks of the Chinese people. But then a revolution transpired in China after a few hundred years, and today, no one can describe the Chinese as a “nation of servants” anymore. 

The Chinese know that Filipinos are a nation of servants because they see them in this role everywhere--from house maids in Hong Kong to lounge act entertainers in mainland China . How then can we Filipinos argue against this fact? Why, we even tout with pride the millions of our countrymen slaving away in foreign lands as our national “heroes.” So if we don’t relish such an image, we should have our “revolution” first, as the Chinese did, and set up a strong, independent economy. 

It is, thus, silly for some sectors to protest that “insult” from a Hong Kong columnist since they have done nothing to raise the standing of our nation in the world stage. Looking especially ridiculous is the Blas Ople Institute because the late labor minister and senator was one of the architects of RP’s “labor export” industry. Another one that doth protest too much is Sen. Pia Cayetano, who has only jogged for pet causes (like breast-feeding and cancer awareness) and stood as product endorser for a fabric conditioner, but has totally not championed any legislation to industrialize our economy to create employment so that OFWs may return home. 

Filipinos have been insulted ever since the first white man stepped on our island shores. The Spaniards called our natives ladrones while the Americans labeled us as “monkeys.” From the US media, we can come up with an almost endless list of anti-Filipino insults as well. In recent memory, American radio sensation Howard Stern said that Filipinos “…eat their young and sell their daughters for sex,” which riled local radio anchor Rene Sta. Cruz, who challenged Stern to a square off in the US of A. However, this Rene, whom I have partnered with on DZXL, was always the first to denigrate Filipinos too with his “Only in the Philippines ” tag for every fault he saw. The Congress of Filipino-American Citizens, meanwhile, had filed a $65-million lawsuit against Stern, but 16 years later, nothing has really changed--except that now, a Filipina chef serves the White House kitchen. Then, there’s the Desperate Housewives TV series, which, in one of its episodes, cast aspersions on RP medical schools churning out phony doctors’ diplomas, which we all know has basis in fact. 

In all these instances, Filipinos would rage yet do nothing about the roots of the continuing economic crises that have led to the deterioration of jobs and the erosion of our social and moral fabric. Even though we’ve had some leading lights in the cultural scene, like Freddie Aguilar with his opus “Anak,” they seem to be all but forgotten today. 

If Filipinos want to finally end the insults to our nation and race, we should wage a social and national revolution; and not just stay on the level of rage without addressing the main reasons for our low self- and global-esteem. If not, then we’re just stuck in a sadomasochistic theater of the absurd. To assert our national dignity, we must hoist the flag of revolution by installing genuine Filipino public servants or servant-leaders such as President Joseph Estrada, Gen. Danilo Lim, Sen. Sonny Trillanes, Gen. Miranda, the Magdalos or Bagong Katipuneros, Maj. Jason Aquino, Capt. Nic Faeldon, and the like. 

If we want radical change in our society, we have to reject all insults to our intelligence, such as the coming farcical 2010 elections and all such exercises under prevailing neo-colonial conditions--which limit the field of aspirants to only those who kowtow to the neo-colonial system. 

Just taking a look at the present instance, from the advancement of the date for the filing of candidacies, to the SWS survey that deceptively solicited three multiple choices for a single presidential post, we can see how everything is being set to block the return of one genuine alternative leader, President Estrada. This recent survey, despite being presented as a non-commissioned, “academic” exercise, is especially insidious given the track record of SWS, which, in its 2004 exit poll made Gloria Arroyo lead FPJ in Metro Manila, only to be debunked by FPJ’s overwhelming win except in Villar’s Las Piñas. 

All these, however, will be under the water as the real plan of the GMA regime, as floated by National (In)Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, is a “transition (read: holdover) government” to pre-empt the elections. I am not automatically against a transition government per se. In fact, we have been pushing for it since 2005. But that can only come after a “regime change,” which all patriotic Filipinos have desired since “Hello Garci.” If we are ready to transition from a state of servitude to a noble nation of servant-leaders, then let’s do the revolution now!