Ramos takes swipe at Arroyo

Ex-president: ‘You can’t stay at the top forever’

By Fe Zamora, Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:01:00 07/17/2009

Former president Fidel V. Ramos Thursday told six aspirants to the presidency that being in power was not a permanent state.

“Going up to the summit is optional, but coming down is mandatory,” Ramos said, quoting the first Filipino mountain climbers to scale Mount Everest. “You cannot stay at the top forever.”

Ramos’ remarks were applauded by the six aspirants and their audience, to whom they presented their planned six-year socioeconomic programs. The venue was the 10th Ramos Peace and Development Foundation public lecture series held at RCBC Plaza’s Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in Makati City.

“Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan huwag magalit,” a laughing Ramos also said, mouthing the old Filipino adage about being a sport in the face of criticism.

It was an apparent swipe at President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose term ends in 2010 and, according to persistent reports, is preparing to seek a congressional seat representing a district in her native Pampanga province.

The six aspirants present were Senators Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando.

Why Erap wasn’t there

Ramos said Vice President Noli de Castro, and Senators Manny Villar and Panfilo Lacson had also been invited. De Castro and Villar declined; Lacson has announced that he would not be in the running in 2010.

Ousted President Joseph Estrada was not invited because he was not yet considered a contender when the invitations were sent out in March, Ramos also said.

The forum was attended by businessmen and executives of multinational companies and international organizations.

Among the government officials in attendance were Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Ms Arroyo’s adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio, who were once “Ramos boys.”

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes also dropped in.

Young but mature

Ramos praised the six aspirants for the “clarity, intellect and substance of their presentation.”

He said that compared to himself when he ran in 1992, “they are still very young [but] mature enough to assume the office of the presidency.”

The six aspirants presented their platforms of government in response to two questions:

How do you plan to maintain economic stability and stimulate economic growth in the Philippines?

How do you plan to deal with the peace and order situation in Mindanao?

Each was allowed 15 minutes to make a presentation. They later fielded questions in an open forum.

Platform of government

All agreed that focusing government resources on modernizing agriculture and improving productivity was key to sustainable growth, with Legarda championing the protection of the environment and rural folk as part of long-term solutions.

Fernando proposed a stronger state through the faithful implementation of laws. Gordon urged the nation to revisit its history, learn from the past and start “caring” for the people.

Escudero laid down a six-point priority program to address poverty.

Roxas talked about an “activist government.” Teodoro suggested that the government’s economic infrastructure, health and education programs, as well as public investment in peace and security, be continued.

All six aspirants said they believed that “good governance” was at the center of economic and peace efforts.

President as juggler

Roxas treated the forum as a “job interview.”

“To whom will I entrust the country?” he said, and used the global economic recession and domestic problems to paint the current picture of the economy.

He said serving as president was like “keeping the big picture in sight, juggling so many different things atop a high wire, while keeping [one’s] bearings, principles and vision intact.”

Roxas said “the binding constraint to our development path as a nation … has been poor institutions, the weakest institutions that stop our development.”

He called for an “activist government” that would be “nimble, quick to respond and professional,” and “built on the foundation of accountability, transparency, independence of enforcement agencies, meritocracy and professionalism.

Legarda pushed her proposed agenda on “rethinking development.”

“For far too long, our policies and strategies have only marginally altered the socioeconomic status of our people. The absence of an integrated, unified, and coherent road map is the culprit for the snail-paced Philippine economic and security development,” she said.

She called for a coordinated and integrated plan that would spur efforts toward a developed Philippine state.

“We need to fuse national economic growth with national security in the development of an integrated plan,” Legarda said.

Workplace economics

Fernando, a professional mechanical engineer, proposed his “workplace economics” as the Philippine socioeconomic development framework.

He said he would implement this “if I am elected president, which I am sure will happen,” eliciting chuckles from the audience.

Fernando said the challenges were low respect for labor, unemployment and failure to enforce laws.

“It is inherent upon all of us to implement and obey the laws of the land,” he said.

He also said peace was a prerequisite of development, and that political will was essential to solving the ills of society.

Formula for peace and order

Teodoro said the country suffered from a “structurally flawed political system.”

He ticked off his policy agenda for economic stability and growth: good government, continuation of economic infrastructure programs, better education, health and overall quality of life, and order in civil society through public investment in peace and security.

Teodoro said the three “current threats” in Mindanao were lawless Moro groups, the Abu Sayyaf, and the communist insurgents.

He said the formula for peace and order in Mindanao was development, capacity building and DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration).

“Peace is contextual and must have an enforcement mechanism,” Teodoro said.

Unbroken country

Gordon delivered an extemporaneous speech that was the most applauded.

“I don’t believe we are broken. We may have lost our confidence, but we are not a broken country,” he said, saying the country’s leaders should uplift the dignity of Filipinos.

Gordon said his vision for a new Philippines was an “enabled, ennobled and free” nation through stability, unity and transformation.

“I’d like you to believe that we can effect change in our country” through “transformational leadership,” and not “transactional leadership,” he said.

Gordon cited instances why many Filipinos were poor, uneducated and had violent tendencies.

“We don’t care enough,” he said, adding that Moro separatists and Abu Sayyaf bandits “came out because they are in pain.”

6-point policy

Escudero said good governance, strengthened finances, investment in youth and the country’s future, environmental stewardship, infrastructure development, and making local products globally competitive were the key elements of his six-point policy to address “decades of missed opportunities.”

“Primarily, we seek to eliminate poverty and improve the quality of life of every Filipino. This means striving for higher family income, a highly educated and trainable workforce, better health care, affordable food and housing and peaceful communities,” Escudero said.

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To run or not to run

dear spliceandice,

to answer your question, let me give a very brief background. we formed ang ladlad in 2003, wanted to run in 2007, but ben “burjer king” abalos said we did not have a national constituency, we are not marginalized and we are not under-represented. i think he was just afraid that if we won (and surveys said we would get two seats) we would add votes to the gma impeachment campaign. and so we were not allowed to run, and i ran as a congressman of district 3 as a guest candidate of pdp-laban/ genuine opposition. we lost. we were also surprised to learn that a week before the elections, the comelec changed all the election supervisors in my district, and only God know what happened next.

now the law says i cannot run as a party-list candidate again under ang ladlad, because of my loss in the last elections. therefore, i am being asked to run as a congressman of district 3 (i got 10,000 votes — all of them clean, i assure you, walang bahid ‘yan ng daya), or as a senator of the republic. i am weighing the pros and cons based on finances, survey results, and which party would draft me.

so to answer your question, spliceandice, yes, i am running in 2010. i hope that answers your question.

thank you,

danton remoto

Are the Young Turks Running in 2010?


Are the young turks running for the Senate or for some other public office in 2010? I cannot answer for the others but allow me to answer spliceanddice’s question directly and honestly, although I’m not sure that my answer will satisfy. Spliceanddice wrote today that –

“Some of the guys in “The Young Turks”, if not all, are eyeing high positions in the 2010 elections. One quick and frank question (which, eventually, all these things here boil down to) so that we can set the record straight here:

Are you guys (Mayor JV, Prof. Danton Remoto, Congressman TG Guingona, Gilbert Remulla, and Atty. Adel Tamano) running for the Senatorial positions in 2010?

That would be a fine question to begin with. On my part, I’ll keep the comments and criticisms–both positive and negative—coming once my question, as part of the youth you guys are addressing here, is answered. Thanks!”

Simply, my answer is I don’t know. Do I want to run for the Senate? Well, yes, because, among other things, Filipino Muslims have not had a representative in the upper house for over a decade. But I don’t want to run and lose because losing will not be just a personal tragedy but it will ultimately undermine, if not destroy, the chances of future Filipino Muslims of being elected. So the decision to run, which is distinct from the desire to represent Filipino Muslims, will be based on a lot of things and is, by no means, a simple matter.

However, I don’t think that this blog should be viewed from the lens of political opportunism alone. That would be unfair. Read the entries here, not just from the young turks but from the comments, and you will find that there is a wellspring of idealism and nationalism that is being tapped into by this web log. On my part, this blog is a means of engaging that wellspring, particularly because being a political spokesman can, if you let yourself get lazy and uncritical, become demoralizing and it can make you cynical. I don’t want cynicism to become a part of me and this initiative – corny as it may sound – is helping me by meeting, even if only on a virtual plane as of yet, Filipinos who are not apathetic and who have hope for our country’s future.

– Atty. Adel Tamano

The road to 2010

Danton Remoto
Remote Control
www.abs-cbn.com/news

I am reprinting my column which appeared in this week’s issue of www.abs-cbn.com/news. Although it seems I am talking about us, let me say I am also talking about the other young people who want to enter politics but are afraid of the dirt, the muck, the mud usually associated with it. Thanks.

***
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So is the road to 2010.

It is still two years before the elections, but the battles have already begun. In the third district of Quezon City where I live, the councilors running for vice-mayor have strung many tarpaulins showing their fat, oily faces. Since they would be vacating their seats they have warmed for three terms, they have included photos of their wives, or sisters, or brothers, along with the pet poodle named Fifi to complete the family portrait. Of course, the wives, sisters, or brothers would run for councilors two years from now. In the Philippines, this is not called a political dynasty. It is called royalty.

Some of them are wise about it, in the Tagalog meaning of wise as in ”tuso.” They are offering 50 percent tuition discounts at some middling school or other. And when the poor people of Escopa would go to the schools, they would be informed that the councilors’ discount is 50 percent, yes, but the tuition is worth P18,000 per semester. And where would Aling Mila, who queues for four hours to buy two kilos of NFA rice, get that P9,000 to put Junior through school?

Or they are sponsoring bingo socials, or basketball games, or why not, even boxing matches, with them in tarpaulin poses that would make Manny Pacquiao blush in shame.

After I ran in the last elections and lost, I was contented to just return to my life a teacher of Literature, introducing students to the magic of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Pablo Neruda. But now as I write this column, my cell phone keeps ringing and ringing. Or else, it is beginning to be clogged up with messages.

Somebody running for congressman is asking me if I would run again for the same position? I won’t, I answer, not after seeing the election supervisors shuffled and changed by former Comelec Chairman Ben “Burjer King” Abalos one week before the May 14, 2007 elections.

“If you’re not running,” asked the persistent caller, “will you support my candidacy?”

I gave him my e-mail address and asked him to send me his platform. The silence of the lambs filled the other end of the line. “Hello?” I asked, and he was there again, resurrected from the dead, muttering that, yes, indeed, why not, I will send you my flatporms. Before I could tell him I wasn’t talking about shoes, he had already hung up.

Or take the case of this movie star running as a councilor in a nearby district, a friend of a friend, who is also asking for my, uh, endorsement. “My endorsement?” I wanted to say, following this with the laughter of a hyena. I never entertained the notion that my “endorsement” would amount to anything.

“Yes, sir, they told me you got 10,000 votes in the last elections, and you got them without any cheating!”

“Of course,” I wanted to answer, “without any cheating!” But I just resorted to my Americanism (aha, aha, aha), and let him drone on and on. I did not promise him anything even if he looked cute enough to play Superman in its next remake. I just advised him to begin working for the post now.

Yes, now. Two years before the elections, we do not need to see tarpaulins greeting us a merry Christmas, a happy Valentines, a great graduation, or a sizzling summer. I would advise below the radar-line campaigning.

What does it mean?

Good, honest-to-goodness work for and with the poorest communities. No fizz, no flash, no glitz, no glamour.

A real livelihood program, for one, where the people are taught skills, given initial supplies, then monitored afterward. A medical mission with good doctors, nurses and dentists, and a cache of medicines that could be used when the rainy season – and its illnesses – comes in. Books for the barangay library, so the young ones could learn to read and open the windows of their minds.

The list could go on and on.

But if I were you, you should also go out and talk to the youth. They constitute 70 percent of the voting bloc, and believe me, they will be a tectonic force in the 2010 elections. What I like about the youth is you cannot fool them. They seem to have what Ernest Hemingway called a “shit-proof lie-detector system” inside them that could sniff out the trapo from the real thing. The world wide web, the borderless world of cyberspace, cable television, even cheap air travel and the tales of wonder from their OFW relatives have made sure that in 2010, they will look for candidates who are young, bright, talented and brash.

Candidates who will call a spade a spade, a dictator a dictator – and step up the plate and offer themselves to the young voters. It is happening now all over the world, demographics have taken care of it – the rise of a new breed of candidates who reinvent the creaky wheel of politics. They do not have a lot of money, but they have guts and street smarts and the deep knowledge that they are inviting everybody to step aboard a ship A ship called hope.

My fearless forecast: the Jurassic candidates will doomed – those who are between 60 and death, those who give flowery speeches, and those who steal the country blind. We will see the revenge of the young voters in 2010, and it will give us a break from bad governance that we so richly deserve.