Press Release
Talk of Sen. Nene Pimentel
Philippine Business Leaders Forum,
Manila Polo ClubApril 19, 2007


Before we talk of the future of governance, let us first discuss its present state.

The state of governance today is, to say the least, sad.

Governance today is over burdened by, at least, three Cs: confusion, corruption and constitutional chicanery.


The administration today lacks solid plans for the development of the nation.

What it has are rhetorical plans. Probably it is better to call them game plans. These are plans that are publicly enunciated but when they clash with the self-interests of a favored few or are opposed by vested interests, they are scuttled without so much as by your leave.

Here are three facile examples:

1. POWER RATES. Before the 2004 elections, the president lowered NAPOCOR power rates obviously to curry favor with the electorate. As a result, NAPOCORs financial position deteriorated and caused an increase in the public sector deficit.

It was bad policy. It was pure political gimmickry. After the elections, she had to cause NAPOCORs power rates to rise to higher levels.

2. RICE POLICY. the government policy on rice is not to import rice except to stabilize prices or forestall famine. Yet, we have to import rice every once so often.

That I cannot understand. We have a country that has advanced technology (IRRI) to produce rice double, treble or quadruple that of the traditional way. We also have sufficient land for it. The exception has now become the rule.

I am afraid that some highly placed people believe that it is much easier to directly import rice, sell it and make money for themselves than to help rice farmers to plant, sell and make money on locally produced rice.

What happened to the government policy on rice is happening today to the government policy on agricultural modernization. The presidents pronouncements that it is a centerpiece of her administration are not matched by the funding support that it gets.

3. Budget airlines. The administration has time and again announced that it would support the growth of budget airlines in the country in line with global trends.

After the sanguine announcements of support, what happened was that the president issued Executive Order No. 500-A dated January 27, 2006 restricting the operations of budget airlines from much of the travel destinations in Asia.

The executive order constrains the growth of our international airports and dampens the entrepreneurial spirit of local business willing to invest in budget airline operations. It also projects a negative image of the country as one where national economic policies can be twisted to favor certain vested interests.

These examples lead us to the second C that burdens governance so.


Last March 13, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy released a report that tags the country as the most corrupt in this part of Asia.

As if that was not enough, the US Trade Representatives Office submitted a National Trade Estimate report recently to the US Congress. The report says that government corruption in the Philippines is pervasive. Obvious

PERC and the US Trade Representatives Office stress the obvious. These foreign observations merely validate what local eyes have witnessed for a long time. A foreigner appears to have captured the peoples disenchantment with his observation that People are tired of the inaction and the insincerity of leading officials when they promise to fight corruption.

In September of last year, the World Bank report, Governance Matters 2006, stated that the country has faltered over the past eight years in governance and in curbing corruption.

Bureaucratic stench

The stench of corruption is literally oozing through the interstices of the bureaucracy.

And the stinking trail leads to the doorsteps of Malacanang. A quote from US president Harry Truman is an apt description of who, in the end, is responsible: The buck stops here. Ultimately, the president is to blame.

It is difficult to exculpate the president from all the colossal corruption going on in her administration. If the president is not involved in the massive corruption, it is curious, to say the least, why she is completely unable or shall we say, unwilling - to stop it.


This is where the 3rd C that hobbles governance comes in.

Constitutional contortions

A major reason why the President is incapable of waging a credible fight against corruption is that she herself was caught with her finger in the electoral cookie jar, so to speak, in the 2004 presidential election. But rather than resign, the president engages in Constitutional contortions to stay in power.

As a backgrounder, let me say that among other things, she used Commission on Elections officials (Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, for instance, and other subordinate officers) to manufacture election data in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao that made up for her enormous electoral setbacks elsewhere in the country.

Stolen election

In my view, there is no question that she stole the 2004 presidential election.

No president in our history has ever won a presidential election without winning in Luzon.

In 2004, the president lost to Fernando Poe in the 13 municipalities and cities of Metro Manila except in one municipality, Las Pinas. She also lost in all of the 32 provinces of Luzon including Pangasinan, Cavite and Laguna except in 7 provinces that include Batanes and Masbate.

In the Visayas, it was the questioned votes in Iloilo, Cebu, and Bohol and the manufactured votes in some provinces and cities in Mindanao that made up for her enormous losses in the rest of the country.

Because she is an interloper in Malacanang, she does not have the support of the people.

When the president of a democratic country like ours grabs power by cheating in the elections as she did, her hold on power can only be tenuous.

Gun power

Because unrelenting questions dog the legitimacy of her presidency, she now relies on the armed components of government power to stabilize her administration. She can no longer bank on the time-honored democratic principle of the Rule of Law. Thus, she now uses the time-tested totalitarian principle that power flows out of the barrel of the gun.

Hence, the incumbent president leans for support on the armed forces and the police.

Instead of running the country pursuant to the Rule of Law, the president now rules it by the gun.

Through the armalites of the armed forces and the police under the command of select officers, she prevents people from airing their grievances against the administration even in a peaceful manner. In the guise of maintaining order, she thrashes the Constitutional rights of the people to free speech and peaceful assembly.

It is armalite-wielding men who abduct protestors against government policies. Some of the victims wind up in military or police safe houses where they are tortured and subjected to indignities. Others simply disappear.

Extrajudicial killings

And as everybody in this country knows, it is also armalite-bearing hoodlums who commit extrajudicial killings with abandon. Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon recently told me that on one day alone 14 people were extrajudicially killed in the different towns of his diocese. Just days ago, the Inquirer reported that extrajudicial killers murdered their 843rd victim since 2001, the year Mrs. Arroyo became President.

And how does the president earn the support of the top echelon of the armed forces and the police? By assuring them of funds officially and I am told, sometimes unofficially - while they are in office and after their stints are over, juicy civilian posts await them at the discretion of the president.

These political acrobatics buy time for the president in that for the moment, she exercises a semblance of control over the privileged generals of the armed forces and the police. Malacañang watchers, however, think that it is she who is controlled by the generals. That is why the militarization of the barangays even in the metropolis goes on despite the failure to comply with the constitutional mandate that, among other things, leaves the maintenance of law and order not to the armed forces but to the civilian authorities that run the police. And that is also why there has been no serious effort to weed out corruption from the ranks of the armed forces and the police.

Future of governance

What, then, is the future of governance in the country? It is not too rosy. I shy away from using the word bleak because that is too pessimistic.

So, I will just say that judging from the palpable missteps of the administration, we can probably essay an educated conjecture that the future of governance is not rosy either in the short run or in the long run.

The short run covers the period between today and the May elections.

The long run covers the period after the elections up to 2010, the end of the presidents term.

In the short run, heres what I see taking place in the country.

Win May elections

The president as the chief executive of the land will be guided only by one consideration: to win the May elections at all costs. To that end:

1. She will pour out government and other funds to which she has access to ensure that her candidates especially for the House of Representatives win big.

One example is the reported release of a P1 billion ostensibly to fund the rehabilitation of a congressional district in Camarines Sur that was devastated by typhoon, Reming. Is it too much of a coincidence, we ask, that her son, Dato, is running for congressman in the district? P1 billion released for the reconstruction of the district is a facile way of paving his road to victory in the districts congressional race.

And why her total support for her congressional candidates? The answer is that she wants to forestall a possible impeachment scenario when congress opens in July.

2. She will look the other way if illicit money jueteng and smuggling flows into the campaign coffers of her local candidates.

3. As she did in the past, she will raid the OWWA funds, the Road Users Tax money, sundry agricultural development funds, and other sources of government revenue to promote her candidates.

Public services degenerate

In the meantime, public services will degenerate into political patronage: if you are with the administration, you will get some of the largesse. If not, you will just have to wait for better times.

4. Corruption and the extrajudicial killings will go on unabated and dominate not only the current electoral season but also the years up to the end of the presidents term.

Which brings us to the long-term scenario.

Mutual benefit

The president will be unable to stop corruption or the killings because she and some of the key leaders of the armed forces and the police mutually benefit from the situation. Through their guns, select officers of both armed agencies assure her stay in power and while in power, she in turn will take care of them. It is a classic case of I scratch your back, you scratch mine.

After the elections, public services will deteriorate. At some point the people will complain against the administration. The intensity of their complaints could bring about acts of repressions of the people through the Human Security Act which, incidentally, becomes effective two months after the elections.

No change

I do not see a change in the way the president governs the nation. Not in the next few weeks after the May 14 elections or in the years of her remaining term that ends in 2010.

The thievery will continue under new pretences. The killings will go on in the name of state security. The result will be an over all misgovernance that will shake the foundations of our national development.

People power

Will people power rise up in response to the misgovernment of the president? Say within weeks or a few months after the elections in May?

It depends on what happens during the elections.

If blatant cheating occurs, it is conceivable that the people will rise up in anger and pressure the president to step down.

Will the people rise up in arms against the administration?

It depends on the scale of the provocation with which the administration infuriates the people.

If the level of cheating in the elections is blatantly massive and is accompanied by brutal repressions of the peoples right to demand redress of their grievances, it is within the realm of the probable that the people would take up in arms against the administration.

A split

At that point, the split in the ranks of the military and the police that has already begun - may be hard to camouflage or cover up.

And that rupture might just trigger a national upheaval that cannot be staved off by all the guile that has thus far kept the president in power.

Let me recall what happened to Marcos, the undisputed martial law strongman, in 1986. After the people saw indisputable proof of election cheating and palpable violence that distorted their electoral will, there was no stopping their demand for the ouster of the then president.


In sum, bad governance today will beget more bad governance tomorrow in the short as well as in the long run.

With a president more concerned with appearances than with substance, there is no way things will change for the better. Like a zebra that cannot change its stripes, the president is doomed to her bumbling way of managing the affairs of the country.

With bad governance, stability will elude the country. The armed challenges from the communist rebels1 and the Moro secessionists2 will continue.

Without stability founded on respect for human rights and constitutional precepts, the country will plod on to achieve a modicum of modernization while the rest of Southeast Asia races towards full development. Societal services in the country will decompose into rotten partisan power plays. In fine, at the end of the term of the president, the country would most likely still be derisively described as the sick man of Asia.

I guess there will still be investments foreign and local coming our way. We need investments to provide jobs for our people. But considering the circumstances, these will at best tentative or probing rather than investments that are made to stay.

The prognosis is dire. And anything that is dire relative to our countrys development will be bad for our people. Because I wish our people well, not ill, I hope I am wrong.

1 Alleviation of social ills is one solution to the Communist rebellion. 2 Theres an ongoing shooting war in Sulu today. Federalism is the solution to the centuries old Moro rebellions.

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