A rapid response to President’s 2015 SONA address (also known as the “Cocoon Speech”)

Jul 27

The best parts were his highlighting his kasambahay’s invaluable role and Kaka Bag-ao’s transformation of politics in Dinagat. Not surprisingly, it skirted the hard issues, such as the DAP scandal (since that would reveal double standards in the Daang Matuwid), the Mamasapano raid, the failure of agrarian reform, and the continuing high rate of poverty and inequality. Deafening silence 1: continuing lack of acknowledgment of command responsibility for the 44 SAF and 17 MILF deaths. Deafening silence 2: no support for the Freedom of Information Bill. Much of the speech was reciting of statistics with little context. The part about Filipinos believing we will become a developed country in a few years’ time was meant to be inspirational, but that’s a hard-sell in a country where the daily reality for a very large part–some 28 per cent–is grinding poverty, where workers and farmers have been left behind because, as Dean Tony La Vina said this morning on Punto por Punto, “they were not priorities of the administration.” Some points were downright naive, like claiming that the fact that only 1 strike took place in 2013 was a sign of worker satisfaction (!!!) or that the lower numbers of OFWs deployed last year compared to 2010 showed people were gaining faith in the capacity of the economy to provide jobs and coming back home (!!!!). These last two points show how he is detached from the realities of working class and peasant existence and enmeshed in a ruling class cocoon. Overall, with 10 as tops, I would give the speech a 5.5 for credibility and an 8 for delivery.  Overall feeling: relief that this is the last SONA from him that I’ll have to sit...

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Presentation on Finance Capital and Greece

Jul 26

A few slides from my presentation at the forum on “Understanding the Greek Crisis,” sponsored by Focus on the Global South, Asian Center, University of the Philippines, July 24, 2015....

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‘Resign or go on leave’ — Akbayan nominee to Gonzalez

May 01

"This is just the latest of a series of shameless actions and pronouncements from an official who supposedly upholds the rule of law," Akbayan nominee Walden Bello said in a statement. Gonzalez, Bello added, "has become an embarrassment to the entire country." Earlier this week, Gonzalez publicly promised to give barangay (village) captains in Iloilo City P10,000 if they could deliver clean 12-0 sweeps for the administration's TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Unity in the May elections. At the same time, Bello slammed the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) hesitance to investigate Gonzalez, saying the poll body "has broad constitutional powers to investigate motu propio," or on its own initiative. Gonzalez has insisted his offer does not violate the law since he will be spending his own money. But Bello said, "even if this were Gonzales' personal funds, this clearly violates the Omnibus Election Code and the 1987 Constitution, which bar public officials from engaging in partisan activities. What's worse, this is plain and simple vote-buying, a criminal act." "Unless he wants to damage further the institution that he represents, Secretary. Gonzales should resign or take a leave for the duration of the election period," Bello said. He also called on Malacañang to reprimand Gonzalez because, "as a Cabinet secretary, he is the alter ego of the President. Any lukewarm and wishy-washy response from the President would only reinforce this administration's reputation as an instrument and a promoter of fraud." ( www.inquirer.net...

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Nuts

May 01

He dismisses the violent reaction to his latest antic, saying, "There are many nuts in this country; more than coconuts, there are other nuts." He should know. That is a qualification for becoming an official in this government. The British government confers knighthood on its most outstanding subjects, the (current) Philippine government confers nuthood on its most outlandish officials. In lieu of "Sir," it uses the title "Sira." Bello, well, that one is a veritable coconut, as in the local phrase, "Use your coconut." He is held in high esteem internationally as a scholar and he has dozens of books to show for it. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita himself sees only comedy in the situation. Who to go to to find out whether or not Gonzalez's idea constitutes wrongdoing? "The funny thing is, I was about to tell you that maybe we can ask the secretary of justice to give us an opinion on the matter because he is the government lawyer." Obviously he cannot see the depths of Shakespearean tragedy that underlie the slapstick comedy or toilet humor. It is funny. It is just as funny as the fact that the person to complain to about election irregularities is the one person who irregularly awarded the computerization of canvassing to a non- qualified bidder and so screwed computerized elections entirely, at the cost of several billions to the taxpayer. It is just as funny as the AFP, whose current head honchos were exposed by its more principled members in the persons of Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani and Lt. Col. Alexander Balutan as having cheated epically in the last elections, being now determined to carry out a political education campaign specifically aimed at assuring clean elections. It is just as funny as the longest-serving Philippine president after 1986 never having once been elected president. Just what is wrong with Gonzalez's proposal to give P10,000 to every barangay official who delivers a 12-0 vote for Team Unity in these elections? One is tempted to say, what can possibly not be wrong with anything Gonzalez says or does? But there's tragedy in this comedy, or rottenness in this nuttiness, that compels us to not dismiss it offhand. What's wrong with it,...

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