Experts say President Noynoy Aquino is part of the Philippines’ problem

Foreign and local experts in their studies of government and economy have confirmed what some of us have been saying all along: that President Benigno Simeon Aquino is part of Philippine society’s problem. In the gathering of intellectuals held recently, participants have agreed that the country’s weak institutions combined with public servants who act like warlords are to blame for why the country remains one of the world’s basketcases:

In a forum, experts on Wednesday said the answer lay in the country’s weak institutions, which were put up in reaction to Martial Law.

So if it were to become an economic powerhouse like South Korea, which went through a civil war, then the Philippines should strengthen its institutions first so that development doesn’t depend on whoever is president, the experts said.

During the forum, James Robinson, a professor of government at Harvard University, said nations fail because of “extractive” institutions, which place power and resources or opportunities in the hands of the elite.

He said nations fail because leaders were unable to transition to “inclusive” institutions that are supposed to spread wealth and power to the greater society.

Robinson, who is in Manila for several days, said some of these nations have centralized power in the hands of weak states that “comfortably cohabit” with warlords, which can be seen in African countries and Columbia.

Yes, being part of the status quo and without initiating real reforms, President BS Aquino will likely not accomplish anything significant when he steps down from power in 2016. Experts have noted that the real social and economic decline started with the hastily crafted and ill-thought out 1987 Cory Aquino constitution, which some say was written out of spite in response to the Marcos regime.

Gerardo Sicat, another UP economics professor who served as economic minister during the Marcos regime, said the blame can be heaped on mistakes made during the transition from Marcos to Corazon Aquino, the late mother of President Benigno Aquino III.

Aggravating this, Sicat said, was the lack in continuity of reforms and limitations on foreign investments prescribed by the 1987 Constitution, which the first Aquino administration put in place of Marcos’ 1973 Constitution.

Even before he was voted into power in 2010, TIME magazine already noted BS Aquino’s awkward and un-statesman like figure and in particular, the fact that he is a member of the oligarchy or the “wealthy class” — those who more often than not come across as uncaring and out of touch with reality. Like what I said before in one of my previous articles:

It is crystal clear that Noynoy’s win does not guarantee a complete change unless he completely cuts off ties with his family just to implement the necessary changes in the system. We all know this is not going to happen. We all know that out of respect for his late mother and their family’s allies, the policies that were implemented by members of the inner circle, will remain untouched. It is going to be business as usual for the landowners in Hacienda Luisita and the rest of the oligarchies (and their personal empires — e.g. PLDT, Globe Telecom, ABS-CBN).

The irony of what Noynoy promises — to change the problem that he is part of — escapes him and his followers. From the same article, I quote Greg Rushford, a Washington-based expert on trade who has monitored the Philippines for over 30 years, “The basics for success are here, at least in terms of human capital. But there is a lack of seriousness in the political leadership — institutions are dominated by an uncaring wealthy class.” To which I add: Isn’t Noynoy Aquino part of that wealthy class? He might care but we have to ask, was he actually actively participating in advocating real change before he was asked to run for the presidency? I don’t think so. Why are we only hearing him now and how come he hasn’t been vocal about it before? Could it be because he remained in the shadow of his late mother until she passed away? Forced to come out now, I wonder how Noynoy is going to address this problem:

“There are ties of clan, family and region that are stronger than the nation,” says Ramon Casiple, a leading political commentator in Manila. “To this day, it’s all about patronage.”

From Day One, President BS Aquino already showed signs that he is into patronage politics. A lot of Filipinos have noticed that he is predisposed to assigning a lot of his friends to sensitive posts in his government. After successfully removing former Chief Justice Renato Corona from the Supreme Court, he filled up the vacated post with his college friend Lourdes Sereno who is also a member of a law firm hired by his family’s estate Hacienda Luisita. Having been a corporate lawyer for most of her career, Sereno doesn’t even have any experience handling a criminal case in the past. That fact didn’t stop the President from assigning her to the Supreme Court to handle criminal cases.

Unfortunately, all is not well in the Supreme Court under Sereno’s watch. While Corona brought unity in the SC during his stint, Sereno has brought in division among the members of the SC particularly with some associate judges alleging that she recently issued a fake resolution without their knowledge. What kind of “reform” did President BS Aquino expect to happen in the judiciary with an allegedly fraudulent Chief Justice like Sereno at its helm?

Yes, there hasn’t been much progress since democracy was “restored” in 1986. Some would argue that we are even worse off now. This last statement can be true in the sense that, today, Filipinos already have freedom but still don’t know what to do with it. As early as 1992, Singapore’s former leader Lee Kuan Yew said that “Filipinos have too much democracy but too little discipline” — a very astute observation that remains relevant today.

The Harvard professor, James Robinson could not help but compare the status of the Philippines to that of South Korea. After all, both South Korea and the Philippines were under dictatorship for decades but South Korea is now an “economic powerhouse”. Just to reiterate what I wrote before:

The Philippines’ political history has a lot in common with Korea’s. For one, both countries have a Presidential system; two, similar to Korea, the Philippines was under a dictatorship for decades. From 1972 the Philippines was under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s regime until he was toppled and exiled in 1986 while Korea was under Military dictatorship since the 1950s until they switched to more democratic governance in the 1980s. Third, Korea’s political system even after switching to democracy always got bad international press as late as the 1990s because it was riddled with corruption and nepotism which is something that the Philippines is unfortunately still experiencing until now.

The situation with the Koreans in the 1990s was so similar to what is happening to Filipinos now. There were massive election frauds committed with public servants spending public funds and television was totally under the control of the State.

To be sure, Philippine elections in the past and even the recent one in May 2010 were mired by allegations of fraud in the form of vote buying and rigging of election results, the latter not prevented even by new electronic voting systems. Sadly, the powerful elite who exert a strong influence on the electorate controls the media.

However, despite the turmoil in the political scene in South Korea back in the 1990s, strong institutions backed by an ancient Confucian culture provided a check and balance that eventually resulted in a stable Korean economy. The sense of nationalism in Korea is unmatched even by the Japanese. Part of this strong sense of nationalism has a lot to do with the draconian laws and decrees introduced during the period when they were still under dictatorship. To quote an excerpt from an article written by the late Teddy Benigno:

In the 1950s former General Park Chung-hee set-up a dictatorship which first decreed land reform. He then got the leading capitalists, entrepreneurs, economists; policy planners together win to something like a ruling national council. He drove them to excel, meet or exceed targets. Or else. The story goes that a prominent businessman complained, said he couldn’t meet his target. Park Chung-hee simply replied he would be executed at dawn. The businessman relented and met his target.

That was iron discipline. But it was that discipline that forged the new South Korea and today it is the 12th biggest economy in the world.

What was Korea’s secret then? The average Korean is ambitious and works furiously hard and long hours. There is even a saying that “Korea is the one society in the world in which the Chinese go broke and the Japanese look lazy”. They instill this discipline to the younger generation. The average Korean child goes to a coaching school three times a week and it is standard for them to learn English because they recognize the importance of being proficient in the English language.

There is one thing that the experts in the recently held forum failed to mention. While weak institutions combined with weak leadership contribute to the failure of nations, the culture of the people is likewise to blame for allowing it to happen – each individual’s contribution to society whether good or bad affects everyone else and this includes voting for the wrong leader.


Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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309 Comments on "Experts say President Noynoy Aquino is part of the Philippines’ problem"

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I agree Extractive wealth is driven by self-interest, concentration of economic & political power, maintenance of status quo, protectionism, wide inequalities, and feudalism. It is an unsustainable model in a global economy. Inclusive growth on the other hand creates dispersed wealth through innovation, job creation and achievement through results. It forces efficiency, accountability and a culture of improvement, but demand a political will which is clearly lacking and which only represents a threat to those who in the main achieved wealth and position through corruption – p-noy included. P-noy is clearly part of the problem and incapable of either change… Read more »

The Filipino people is the problem. Our choice of leader is a reflection of ourselves. I won’t be surprised if our next president is Senator Sotto…..


Nice article.

Johnny Derp

People like Fishball/Swagger is also a part of the problem. They refuse to see the true nature of the “leader” that they are supporting. It might be too late for them to change when the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan for this government. True change is needed in our country not false change brought about by the yellow zombies.


Hope more experts like these say more of this. Time to uncover all of the dirt that was swept under the rug.

Following your links and looking at the photos, Johnny Derp is correct to say that people like swagger/fishball are also to blame. Like zombies they are, just accepting the information being fed by the bias media as basic instincts. Worked a few years with Koreans and I can say that our level of discipline cannot be compared to them. Five minutes before the time, Pinoys would already be finished cleaning up and literally just waiting for the minute hand of the bundy clock to strike 5, while the Koreans are still at it and we find out the next day… Read more »

Sadly, Filipinos would rather sit and watch stupid telenovelas rather than attend and participate in these types of discussion. If I was in the Philippines, I would love to attend one. Thank God for the internet.

Robert Haighton

“…– each individual’s contribution to society whether good or bad affects everyone else and this includes voting for the wrong leader.”

How do I recognize the good leader to vote for if all (those who run for president) come from the same elite back ground?


Hands up those of us who believed Noynoy was going to take on corruption??
Said this before and I will say it again. Noynoy as a congressman and senator was either : 1) part of corruption 2) corruption bystander but lacked ability or courage to do anything about it 3) too clueless and out of the loop to see corruption .

Those are the only three scenarios for one who promised to stamp it out.


And now we have bam the sham aquino trying to be a senator.
What a joke and an insult.
Has anyone ever seen a hapinoy store!!
And why does the board consist of hacienda luisita personnel!

Another ngo which collects grants but does nothing.

Copying the idea of mohammed yusuf – nobel peace prize – and not even acknowledging him. Very disingenuous. deceit is clearly part of the aquino dna

Thomas Jefferson
A false leadership image shaped by propaganda, promises, slogans, double-standards and blame games reveals the real truth about BS. Where in the world can you see a supposedly “great leader” aid, abet and assist in the creation of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front Terrorist State? The MILF is allied with the CPP-NPA-NDF, Jemaah Islamiya Al Qaeda in Asia, Abu Sayaff Group, Al-Khobar Extortion Group and other criminal elements like Kidnap for Ransom Groups, MILF Special Operations Group, child and women fighters and civilian support elements who are mostly Jihadist. BS gave all the advantages to the enemies of the state… Read more »
Thomas Jefferson

Ano ang gagawin mo NOYNOY, after 2016 kapag nalaman ng mga Filipino na hindi si Marcos ang nagpapatay kay Ninoy, si Bong Bong Marcos ang nanalo bilang pangulo, at lahat ng nagawa ninyo ni Cory at iyong mga tauhan, ay walang naidulot na kabutihan sa Pilipinas?

Based on critical thinking and substantiated evidence, at di haka haka lamang!

Hyden Toro

The Philippines is not a Democracy. It is a Feudal Monopolistic Oligarchy. Political family dynasties, are the rulers. Political WarLords are in power in the Provinces. It has a Culture of Corruption, and Political Patronage. Most of the Political Leaders are political opportunists. They change political loyalties, like a Reversible Jacket. It is a BasketCase country.


p-noy announces state of calamity. – yes, we know.
and aquino is calamity juan.


The “Image” polictics in the guise of reform agenda.

The secret for SK was economic protectionism. The same goes the rest of the “tigers.” PH, on the other hand, went the other way because of restrictions imposed by the IMF-WB. Second, given a powerful local elite, it is inevitable that the government will work with it. That was the case for SK, too. The difference is that there was no US for SK officials to siphon off stolen money. That is not the case for PH. Finally, about discipline, etc., PH citizens and others are capable of the same, as seen in the work of overseas workers and even… Read more »
robert m longatang

The dismal problem in running the Country’s government is that the Nation as a whole doesn’t find any good and qualified captain of the ship.The other thing is that for the Nation’s interest, the 1987 constitution must be amended to cope up with the international business demand.It is really the leadership problem for which this Nation is still in economic agony after Ferdinand E Marcos have gone.

josephine r damulog
mas pinaka maganda siguro na ang ating mga magagandang saloobin para sa pag unlad ng isang bansa ay ishashare natin ng harapan sa mga nasa katungkulan,sakaling silay magising sa pagiging,( kung ano man ang kanilang kahinaan o pagkukulang)maling tagapamahala sa bansa. matuto tayong magsalita ng maayos na may pagmamalasakit sa isat isa.nang sa ganon ang pagtutulongan ay ating maramdaman para sa sarili nating ikabubuti. at sa tingin ko, kong ganito lagi tayo,na puro patalikod kong magsalita,wala ring mangyayari eh. masasanay lang ang kanilang mga tainga at lalong walang pakialam sa anumang mayron na kahirapan. lambingin kaya natin sila ng may… Read more »


You forgot about one of this country’s most characterized trait “TALANGKA” ^_^