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2010 NATIONAL PRESIDENTIAL ROUNDUP

May 6, 2010

I have written various blogs on some presidentiables vying for the highest position of the land. Among the subjects of my ‘election’ blogs are presidential candidates Noynoy Aquino, Joseph Estrada, Gilbert Teodoro, and Manuel Villar.

I risk being accused of political bias, but let me tell you that I chose these four presidential candidates because I think they are really the ones competing for political power. But make no mistake; I’m not comfortable with their politics, which have all the trappings of statism or collectivism, which means BIG GOVERNMENT.

In my blog article entitled Why They Missed It, I stated the following:

In the run up to the May 10 elections, we are now witnessing a new brand of pro-poor, anti-capitalist collectivists with alarming political and economic programs. The most alarming, disturbing part of this political farce is not the content of their programs, but people’s apathy and credulity. They cheer whenever their candidate spouts pro-poor slogans and nice-to-hear anecdotes. Manny Villar, who beams his “Sipag at Tiyaga” political mantra, promised to save the poor from “sea of trash.” His annoying political jingle tells it all- Villar is the solution to poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and almost every single problem in this country. He is for the poor, the jingle claims, despite the fact that he’s worth more than $800 billion. ‘I’m already rich,’ he says, ‘if I want more money I should have gone back to business.’ Thaksin Shinawatra was already a billionaire when he became Thailand’s Prime Minister, but his riches did nothing to dissuade him from using his political power and influence to benefit himself and his business empire.  It was Mr. Shinawatra’s gluttony that cost him his power. Villar is currently facing corruption and bribery scandals. His accusers claim he enriched himself by forcing the C-5 road project by using his political influence as Senate President despite the existence of a privately funded road project.

On the other hand, Sen. Noynoy Aquino is running under his “Country Above Self” political slogan. But it seems that Aquino and his running mate Mar Roxas failed to realize that the Filipino people don’t need this kind of ‘nationalist’ inspiration. What they need are concrete, clear-cut political principles based on man’s rights and nature. The only significance of this creepy political mantra I can think of in the realm of politics is that it can effectively serve as a political bromide to lull and fool the people. In essence, mantra reeks of altruism. It asks us to offer our lives to the state, and whoever espouses it is the state.

Gilbert Teodoro’s “Galing at Talino” is simply a political bromide designed to remind the people that the person behind it is what the country needs. Teodoro’s politics is essentially about establishing a “Nanny State.” In terms of economic platform, Mr. Teodoro simply spouts vague generalities and floating abstractions. He highlights the importance of “innovation” without concretizing the ways and methods by which to achieve this goal. The question that should be asked is: What particular economic system is consistent with “innovation?” He does not elaborate.

Now here’s my personal evaluation of the aforementioned candidates:

Noynoy Aquino’s ‘Country Above Self’

“Our nation is in trouble. Leadership is bankrupt. Institutions are in disarray. People are hungry,” said Roxas. It is true that the Filipino nation is in big trouble, that our political leadership is bankrupt, and that most government institutions have already been mangled, but to say that the only way to fix these problems is to embrace their version of country-above-self of nationalism is highly preposterous.

The nation is in trouble because it lacks moral (not religious) leadership. The kind of morality that this country embraces is the morality of altruism, which is about unselfish concern for the welfare of others. Today we see the continued destruction of reason, individualism and capitalism, whose morality is self-interest that is opposed to altruism. We see the rejection of “self” and the glorification of the word “we”. This country-above-self nationalism, which is piteously based on the morality of altruism, promotes self-abnegation, self-immolation, self-sacrifice, and everything that is against the interest of man. It is, philosophically, anti-Man. If we seek to save our country from “trouble”, it is the morality of altruism that we have to reject. Altruism, derived from French word ‘alter’ or other, is not simply about kindness or goodness. This word has specific meaning, and most people mean it the way its proponent, Auguste Compte, had intended, and its moral code states that “man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.”[i]

Our government institutions are in disarray because our politicians lack moral (not religious, because religion seems to have hijacked morality) leadership to govern and because of our form of government, which is mixed economy. A form of government that allows politicians to expand government powers inevitably invites corruption and all kinds of political evil. The only solution to fix our institutions is to decontrol or deregulate by embracing capitalism. Capitalism, a political-economic system that is based on individual rights, is the only system that can save this country. In a capitalist society, the only function of the government is to protect individual rights, by assuming the following functions: 1) defense or military, to protect the country from invaders; 2) law courts, to protect people from injustice and breach of contracts and property; 3) police, to protect the people from criminals. A government with purely limited powers is the only solution to mangled, corrupted government institutions.

Gilbert Teodoro’s ‘Nanny State’ Politics

In terms of economic platform, Mr. Teodoro simply spouts vague generalities and floating abstractions. He highlights the importance of “innovation” without concretizing the ways and methods by which to achieve this goal. The question that should be asked is: What particular economic system is consistent with “innovation?” He does not elaborate.

Although he speaks of both domestic and foreign direct investments, he is still mum on what concrete economic system he would apply in order to keep foreign investors had he been elected president of the country. The administration bet and his opponents only have three choices: a) free-market capitalism, b) mixed economy, or c) statism (fascism or socialism). According to 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, the Philippines has an economic freedom score of 56.3, making its economy the 109th freest in the 2010 Index. Our country ranks 20th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is slightly below the world and regional averages.[1] The Philippines is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, a reputation that is not good to foreign investors.[2]

This is the condensed economic platform of Mr. Teodoro: “To avoid a state of progress plateau, the country needs more innovative ideas to fuel the industry and the economy. The country has exhausted the era of copying and remodeling trends; it is time for something new in order for the country to become more globally competitive. The country needs to generate more ideas. The talents and minds of our countrymen is our greatest resource.”[3]

Now let us break down this statement that is full of vague generalities and contradictions. He speaks of “more innovative ideas,” “new trends,” “global competitiveness,” “generation of more ideas,” the need for more talents and minds, among others. These are all abstractions, but I have not yet heard his concretized economic model/system to achieve these goals. What is clear is that the psyco-epistemology of his politics is that these floating abstractions can only be achieved through government controls, intervention, and regulations. Yes, like his political opponents, Mr. Teodoro seeks to double the size of the government under his proposed leadership program. He speaks of an ultra mixed economy with a higher degree of government intervention, controls and regulations.

Manny Villar’s ‘Robber Baron’ Politics

There is no tinge of doubt that Villar incurred huge, unreasonable profits from his C-5 road project that required the government to spend billions in taxpayers’ money, when it could have been done with the help of the private sector through the BOT (build-operate-transfer) scheme. Under the original proposal, which is the BOT scheme, private firms would construct the road project and expenses would be recovered through charging of tolls. The private firms would then transfer the project to the government after a fixed period of time not exceeding 50 years. Under Villar’s scheme, the presidentiable gained too much profits at the great expense of taxpayers’ money.

Now did Villar use his political position and influence to cause the C-5 public road project to be constructed? The answer is a resounding YES. According to Economist Winnie Monsod, Villar road is:

Unnecessary because there is already an existing project— the MCTEP or the Manila-Cavite Toll Express Way Project, which is a build-operate-transfer project to be built by private contractors.

Financially disadvantageous to the government.

That it would yield him enormous financial benefits.

I must add that the infamous Villar billion-peso road is a blatant breach of free-market competition and one of the proofs that the ugly face of political connection and “robber baron politics” is eating at the core of our society.

Villar allegedly made the insertion by virtue of his position as Finance chairman and as Senate president to ensure that his property would be paid right away. Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Villar went to the Senate on February 2 to deny the charges against him. He delivered a privilege speech, refused to entertain questions from his colleagues and left the session hall after his hour-long rhetoric.

Joseph Estrada’s Corruption

The Comelec’s decision does not merely show the corrupt people who compose this government entity, but its brazen relativism as well. Relativism is the idea that some elements or aspects of experience or culture are relative to, i.e., dependent on, other elements or aspects. With its decision, the Comelec simply admits that there are no absolute truths, so crucial issues like the disqualification case filed against Estrada must be decided by the people in a social consensus called election. Written law and courts are essential parts of Republicanism. Rational and objective laws are to be interpreted by competent courts whose primary duty is to serve justice and protect individual rights. How then can a court protect people’s rights if certain legal issues are handed back to the people for collective consensus or decision? Courts are created because of the mere fact that there are absolute truths, whether metaphysical or legal, that can be ascertained through the application of logic and reason.

*—*

If you want to ask my opinion, I think Manny Villar is the most dangerous of all the presidential evils vying for presidency!

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