The usual crap assessment from former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario’s think-tank Stratbase-ADR Institute given prime space on mainstream media! In an Inquirer “report” on “Governance prospects for 2022 and beyond”, a certain Dindo Manhit, “founder and managing director of Stratbase Group”, regurgitated the outcome of a “town hall” organised by this “institute” which “saw participants discussing a gamut of issues and concerns spanning the social, political, and economic landscape of the Duterte presidency, along with forward-looking analysis in light of the 2022 national elections.” Not surprisingly, enough space is reserved in this “report” for the all-too-familiar script…
On the state of our democracy, former ombudsman and Supreme Court justice Conchita Carpio Morales opined that the current landscape is anchored on the “policy of fear.” “Inaccuracy” is what best describes Mr. Duterte’s claims of achievements, she said.
Indeed, summing all these up, where is the promise of a “comfortable life” for Filipinos after five years? One cannot simply shrug one’s shoulders and blame the troubled times that have befallen the nation on the pandemic.
There has been a disconnect between our politicians and those in civil society since 2016. Civil society made its way to government as a result of the EDSA “revolution.” It began with the appointment of civil society personalities to government posts. It was supposed to develop a close working relationship between government, the private sector and the academe with the goal of reforming government and giving way to the needs of the private sector while the academe provided the research into reform measures benchmarked against best practices. What went wrong? The intentions were good but the maxim that the “road to hell is paved with good intentions” prevailed.
What were prioritized were the vested interests of the power blocs funding the non-goverment organisations (NGOs). This was how the oligarchs strengthened their power base by being able to get projects and contracts from the government. The privatization of government-owned and controlled corporations in vital industries and the sale of other assets was the hallmark of the adminstrations of Cory and Noynoy Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This is why the public is saddled with high power costs and a water service where everything is passed on to the consumer. This was what the President spoke about in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
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In the opinion of this “civil society” group, the administration hasn’t done anything right. Never mind that the public has felt and seen palpable change compared to previous administrations which is why the President continues to be popular. If the claims made by the administration were false, the public would certainly react. Indeed, by the time the Aquino administration began its last year in office, the public was impatient. They couldn’t wait for their agony to end because there were daily reminders of how bad the situation was for them in terms of traffic congestion and a decrepit mass transport system.
The truth is any well-meaning appointee will find it hard to change the system if there is no backing from no less than the President himself. Career bureaucrats will make life difficult for any head who is out to institutionalize reforms. It is easy for the speakers of the Stratbase-ADR forum to analyze and criticize. But then give them government posts and you will see how they will fail miserably in their task or just carry out the instructions of their patrons to manipulate the system in order to gain advantages.
An example of the system being gamed is renewable energy. Meralco has been charging its customers a monthly amount for the feed-in tariff subsidy for renewable energy. The beneficiaries of this subsidy are companies which venture into renewable energy. Look at the list of companies in the energy sector -+ same old oligarchs. Nuclear is by far, the cleanest and cheapest source of power but the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant has been scuttled. Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco has been pushing for its upgrade and commissioning but this has fallen on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, the Malampaya reserves are about to run out and power demand is increasing. Service contracts have been awarded by the Department of Energy for exploration but none of the companies are moving. Why? They don’t have the technology and financial capability for exploration. Neither Shell nor Caltex is interested in Recto Bank because it is disputed territory despite the arbitral ruling. Manny Pangilinan holds the service contract for the Recto Bank field but Chinese companies are wary of partnering with him because of his anti-China attitude. It is no secret that Pangilinan is bankrolling the Stratbase-ADR think-tank which bears the name of one of his top lieutenants, Albert Del Rosario, the former Foreign Affairs Secretary during the Aquino administration.
If the country’s economy is to recover from the pandemic-induced recession, it will need more foreign direct investment. Cheap power and labor are two issues which foreign investors have been raising with government officials. The oligarchs are protecting their turf because they don’t want the economy opened to foreigners since their profits would be reduced drastically. It’s no surprise that Stratbase-ADR would give the administration a failing grade for its efforts in the last five years. This is what they would like the public to believe in order for the anti-Duterte oligarchs to get back in the economy’s driver’s seat.
The anti-Duterte oligarchs are behind the candidacy of Isko Moreno. He is their candidate. Moreno’s tone has changed in the past two weeks and he is being defended by the Yellows and the Reds. He has been receiving favorable coverage from the media entities owned by these oligarchs. He is their version of Duterte which they hope the Filipinos will buy for them to get power back.
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