Book Review: Drucker and Gonzalez

30 March 2008 at 3:05 PM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Friedrich Nietzsche said that “the last Christian died on the cross.” On his deathbed, Karl Marx said, “I am not a Marxist.” Sigmund Freud obviously turns in his grave every time a Freudian denies that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Jesus Christ, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud are three of only a handful of people that have totally changed human history. They share a common fate: their successors rarely quote them accurately.

Peter Drucker has to be included in that august company of history changers. Unlike them, however, he has lived to see how great minds are always misinterpreted. Although he invented management in his seminal book The Practice of Management (1954), it has become unfashionable to quote him in management schools, but when he is quoted, he is almost always quoted wrongly.

For example, Drucker describes management as an art, rather than a science, yet his followers insist that there is a science of management.

Drucker is uncomfortable with Management by Objectives as it is commonly understood, yet that technique is always attributed to him. In fact, in his book Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999), Drucker uses the word “results” rather than “objectives.”

Fortunately for him, management guru Robert Heller has outlined Drucker’s main ideas in the Business Masterminds book Peter Drucker (London: Dorling Kindersley, 2000). Heller does a fine job of putting into 112 pages the ideas expounded by Drucker in more than 30 books. In Heller’s book can be found capsule summaries of Drucker’s key terms, such as customer focus, decentralization, empowerment, knowledge worker, and theory of the business.

In addition, Heller makes his book not only a study of Drucker, but also a management handbook. Heller boils down Drucker’s insights into bullets that translate “ideas into action,” such as, “If the business is growing fast, question your assumptions all over again.”

On the local front, a case study of Drucker in action can be found in Andrew Gonzalez’s An Unfinished Symphony: 934 Days at DECS (Manila, 2002). Gonzalez does not cite Drucker, but it is obvious from the way he headed the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) from July 1998 to January 2001 that Druckerian principles contributed to the efficient running of the country’s biggest organization (consisting of half a million people, with more than 15 million customers, i.e., students).

Gonzalez’s book does not only reveal how difficult (yet possible) it is to manage a bureaucratic and corrupt organization, but also provides horror stories about politicians interfering with management. It is hard enough trying to save the losing proposition that is the public educational system (which does not have enough capital nor human resources to serve its customers), but the task is made almost impossible when all the petty politicians sitting in Congress or in Malacañang think that they know better about education than educators themselves.

Clearly because he is afraid of libel suits, Gonzalez does not obviously point a finger at anyone identifiable, but experienced government watchers should be able to read between the lines. Alert and informed readers will even realize that, sad to say, some of the villains during Gonzalez’s time still lurk in the shadows of the education department.

The management problems Gonzalez faced in a government organization can doubtless be found also in private corporations. How he coped with these problems should help other managers through their own private or public hells.

If it is true, as Drucker says, that “it is vision and moral responsibility that, in the last analysis, define the manager,” Gonzalez was, at DECS, the model manager. Too bad morally irresponsible politicians won in the end.

By the way, Drucker and Gonzalez have something else in common, besides being management experts: they both have literary backgrounds. Drucker has written two novels, and Gonzalez took graduate studies in literature. Maybe this is why both see management as an art, rather than a science.

(First published in BizNews Asia, 3-17 March 2003.)

Advertisements

30 March 2008 at 7:52 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Bukas na liham para sa “Philippine Development Forum 2008” ng FSGO

Mga mamamayan kami na dating matataas ang posisyon sa gobyerno ng Pilipinas. Nagpapasalamat kami sa yaman, talino, at kabutihan na inihahandog ng pandaigdigang komunidad sa aming bayan. Kinikilala namin na mahalagang pagtitipon ang Philippine Development Forum. Dito nag-uusap ang mga namumuno sa aming bansa at ang mga kinatawan ng mga pandaigdigang donor tungkol sa mga mahahalagang isyu sa pag-unlad ng Pilipinas. Hangad namin iparating sa inyo ang mga bagay na sa aming paniniwala ay kailangan ninyong isaalang-alang.

Anim na buwan na ang nakararaan, mula noong Septiyembre 2007, nang sinimulang imbestigahan ng aming Senado ang proyekto ng gobyerno na tinatawag na “National Broadband Network,” na isasagawa ng ZTE Corporation, at binigyan ng pondo ng gobyerno ng People’s Republic of China. Ang tawag sa proyektong ito ay NBN-ZTE o sa kadalasan ngayon ay ang Iskandalo ng NBN-ZTE.

Nakababalisa ang mga lumabas na detalye sa imbestigasyon sa Senado. May paratang na laganap ang suhulan, higit pa sa 130 milyong dolyar. Hindi maipaliwanag ang pagbawi at pagpalit sa mga patakaran na naisaayos ng NEDA-ICC. May balita na may mga taong pribado na gumagamit ng impluwensiyang politikal upang makialam sa palakad ng gobyerno. May mga posibleng krimen mula sa pagkidnap hanggang sa pagsuhol ng mga saksi upang hindi tumestigo. At ang pinaka grabe sa lahat, posibleng kasangkot ang walang iba kundi ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas sa panunuhol at sa pagtatakip sa krimen.

Binigyan ng Pangulo ng awtoridad ang ilang kasapi ng kanyang Kabinete na makipagsundo at lagdaan ang kontrata ng NBN-ZTE, sa kabila ng kanyang kaalaman ng mayroong posibilidad na may anomalya. Nang ang mga detalye ng anomalya ay naungkat sa Senado, kinansela ng Pangulo ang kontrata noong Oktubre 2007. Kahit na nagsisilbing kapanipaniwalang institusyon demokratiko ang Senado, na nagnanais lamang malaman ang katotohanan tungkol sa iskandalong ito, patuloy na pinigilang ng Presidente ang imbestigasyon ng nahintong kontrata.

Pagkaraan ng ilang buwan, pagkatapos mahinto ang kontrata, wala pa ring ginawa ang Pangulo upang managot ang kailangang managot, tulad ng ang mga kasapi ng kanyang Kabinete. Malaking kahihiyan sa mundo ang iskandalong ito. Nagbibigay dahilan sa maraming kaguluhan sa aming bayan. Kahit pinaghihinalaang siyang magnanakaw ng buong bansa, walang ginagawa ang Pangulo upang ilabas ang buong katotohanan para siya ay mapawalang sala.

Sa aming palagay, ginagamit ng Pangulo ang kanyang kapangyarihan upang makaligtas sa parusa sa kanyang partisipasyon sa iskandalong ito. Wala na siyang kredibilidad sa pagpugso ng katiwalian, kredibilidad na gumuho mula pa sa pagkasangkot niya sa pandaraya sa eleksiyon, sa lokohan sa abono, sa pagsuhol sa loob ng Malakanyang mismo.

Nagpasya na kami na si Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ay nasa gitna ng katiwalian at pagtatakip ng krimen sa kontrata ng NBN-ZTE. Kung may mga hindi sang-ayon sa pasya namin, bukas kami na mapatunayang mali. Hinihikayat namin ang mga sumasang-ayon sa amin, gayon din ang mga hindi sang-ayon, na magsamasama tayo upang malaman natin kung sino ang kinakailangan managot sa katiwalian sa kontratang ito, at upang magsagawa ng mga hakbang para hindi na maulit ito.

Bakit ito mahalaga sa Philippine Development Forum? Dahil katiwalian ito na umuubos sa kaunting yaman na kinakailangan sa pag-unlad ng bayan na sana’y napunta sa mga dukha. Dahil nakakawala ito ng tiwalang publiko. Dahil nakasisira ng pagkakaisa ukol sa patuloy na pag-unlad. Napakalaki ng katiwalian. 130 milyong dolyar ay halagang malaki pa sa maraming proyektong binibigyan ng pondo ng mga donor. Katiwalian ito sa proseso ng NEDA-ICC, kung saan ang mga proyektong may pondo mula sa donor ay dumadaan. At higit sa lahat, katiwalian ito na maaaring kasangkot ang Pangulo, ang kinatawan ng lahat ng programa tulong sa aming bayan. Sabi nga ni Joseph Stiglitz, Premyadong Nobel sa Ekonomiya at dating pinunong ekonomista ng World Bank: “Masama ang maliliit na gawang katiwalian, ngunit mas nakapipinsala ang sistematikong katiwalian sa proseso ng pamahalaan.”

Tinatawagan namin ang Philippine Development Forum na suriin ang iskandalong NBN-ZTE. Ito ay isang “sistematikong katiwalian sa proseso ng pamahalaan.” Ipinaaabot namin ang mga sumusunod na mungkahi sa Philippine Development Forum sa taong ito:

Hinihiling namin sa aming mga kababayan na kumakatawan sa aming gobyerno at sa aming bayan: Ipaliwanag ninyo sa daigdig kung bakit ayaw ng Pangulo na makipagtulungan nang lubos sa Senado sa imbestigasiyon ng kontrata na siya mismo ang nagkansela noong Oktobre 2007 dahil nababalot ito sa anomalya. Bakit walang umaamin sa pamahalaan na kasalanan nila ang mga nakapipinsalang pangyayari na bunga ng iskandalong ito? Bakit wala man lamang nagbitiw, o na suspinde, o napaalis na nasangkot sa kinanselang proyektong NBN-ZTE?

Hinihiling namin sa aming mga kaibigan na pandaigdigang donor na isaalang-alang kung paanong maaapektuhan ang mga maaari pang maging programang tulad nito sa Pilipinas kung umiiral ang katiwalian na tulad ng nangyari sa NBN-ZTE. Paano magagamit ang repustasyon, ang kredibilidad, at ang katayuan ng mga donor upang matulungang malutas ng mga demokratikong institusyon sa Pilipinas ang iskandalong ito? Gaano kahalaga na maipakita ng Pangulo sa kanyang pagkilos ang kanyang hangarin na lumabas ang buong katotohanan at managot ang mga kasangkot sa katiwalian sa kontratang NBN-ZTE?

Dapat tayong mangamba sa kahinaan ng mga demokratikong institusyon sa Pilipinas sa pagsupo ng katiwalian na napakagarapal, nakapipinsala, at malinaw na sumisira sa tiwala ng bayan sa ating pamahalaan. Kapag pinabayaan natin na hindi malutas ang gulong iniwan ng iskandalong NBN-ZTE, lalong magliliyab ang galit, kawalang pag-asa, at kawalan ng tiwala sa gobyerno ng ating mga kababayan.

Nangingibabaw ang pagkamuhi ng taumbayan sa isang pamahalaan na patuloy na nagbibingi-bingihan sa mga repormang kinakailangan, na patuloy na nagbubulag-bulagan sa lalong naghihirap at nagugutom naming kababayan, at na patuloy na ayaw aminin na katiwalian ang ugat ng pagwawalang-bahala sa kabutihan ng karamihan.

Nagsimula na ang Philippine Development Forum na iugnay ang isyu ng katiwalian sa mga proyekto sa pag-unlad. Binuksan na ng Philippine Development Forum ang daan upang makibahagi ang mga organisasyong sibil sa pamamaraan ng pamimili, sa pamamahala ng pondo, at sa pagmonitor ng mga proyekto, upang maging mas bukas at malinaw ang mga ito. Umaasa kami na bubuo ng bagong paraan ang Philippine Development Forum upang magkaroon ng makabubuting diyalogo para masugpo ang katiwalian sa prosesong political. Hakbang ito na kinakailangan para gawing mas matibay ang mga institusyon sa Pilipinas. Marami sa amin ang nag-alay ng hindi lang mahabang panahon kundi halos buong buhay namin sa mga institusyong ito.

Mga Nagkalagda:

Former Members of the Cabinet, The Diplomatic Corp of Officers, and Heads of Constitutional Bodies

Florencio Abad, former Secretary, Department of Education
Rafael Alunan III, former Secretary, Department of The Interior and Local Government
Senen Bacani, former Secretary, Department of Agriculture
Angelito Banayo, former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs
Ramon Cardenas, former Head, Presidential Management Staff
Karina Constantino David, former Chair, Civil Service Commission
Edilberto de Jesus, former Secretary, Department of Education
Albert del Rosario, former Ambassador to the United States of America
Ramon Del Rosario, Jr., former Secretary, Department of Finance
Teresita Quintos Deles, former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Benjamin Diokno, former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management
Narcisa Escaler, former Ambassador to the United Nations
Jesus Estanislao, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Victoria Garchitorena, former Head, Presidential Management Staff
Marietta Goco, former Chair, Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty
Philip Ella Juico, former Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Lina Laigo, former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Ernest Leung, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Josefina Lichauco, former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communication
Narzalina Lim, former Secretary, Department of Tourism
Felipe Medalla, former Director General, National Economic Development Authority
Imelda Nicolas, former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission
Cayetano Paderanga, former Director-General, National Economic Development Authority
Cesar Purisima, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Victor Ramos, former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Amina Rasul, former Presidential Adviser and Concurrent Chair, National Youth Commission
Rodolfo Reyes, former Press Secretary
Juan Santos, former Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry
Cesar Sarino, former Secretary, Department of The Interior and Local Government
Corazon Juliano Soliman, former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Jaime Galvez Tan, former Secretary, Department of Health
Rene Villa, former Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Veronica Villavicencio, former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission

Former Heads of Government Finance Institutions and Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations

Leonor Briones, former National Treasurer
Jose Cuisia, Jr., former Governor, Central Bank of the Philippines
Francisco Del Rosario, former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines
Evangeline Escobillo, former Commissioner, Insurance Commission
Vitaliano Nañagas II, former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines
Norberto Nazareno, former President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation
Ricardo Mirasol Tan, former President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation
Deogracias Vistan, former President, Land Bank of the Philippines

Former Undersecretaries and Heads of Attached Agencies

Tomas Africa, former Administrator, National Statistics Office
Roberto Ansaldo, former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture
Gerardo Bulatao, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Sostenes Campillo, Jr., former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism
Isagani Cruz, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Guillermo Cunanan, former General Manager, Manila Airport Authority
Edgardo Del Fonso, former Undersecretary, Department of Finance
Quintin Doromal, former Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Good Government
Jose Luis Gascon, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Milwida Guevara, former Undersecretary, Department of Finance
Juan Miguel Luz, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Jose Molano, Jr., former Executive Director, Commission on Filipinos Overseas
Conrado Navarro, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Victor Ordoñez, Former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Walfrido Reyes, former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism
Melito Salazar, Jr., former Undersecretary, Department of Trade and Industry
Antonio Salvador, former Undersecretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Leticia Ramos Shahani, former Undersecretary, Department of Foreign Affairs
Mario Taguiwalo, former Undersecretary, Department of Health
V. Bruce Tolentino, former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture

_uacct = “UA-4489537-2”;
urchinTracker();

Open Letter to the Philippine Development Forum 2008

30 March 2008 at 7:33 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

From Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO)

As Filipinos who have served in senior positions of our government, we acknowledge with appreciation and gratitude the resources, knowledge and good will extended to our country by the international community. The Philippine Development Forum is an important platform for dialogue between leaders of our country and representatives of the international donor community about issues critical to Philippine development. We have no desire to disrupt your discussions nor hijack your agenda. We only wish to bring to your attention a matter that we believe requires your serious consideration.

For more than six months now, since September 2007, the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines has been investigating a public investment project of our government (National Broadband Network project) that was to be executed by a supplier (ZTE Corporation) and financed by a loan from the government of the People’s Republic of China. The media has called this the “NBN-ZTE deal,” or more often, the “NBN-ZTE scandal.”

Details that have emerged from the Senate investigations are disturbing. Alleged bribery in amounts of more than $130 million. Unexplained reversals of declared policies established by the NEDAICC process. Reported influence of politically connected private persons who are outside the chain of official decision-making. Possible crimes from kidnapping to bribery in attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying. Most disturbing of all, possible involvement of the President of the Philippines in corruption and coverup.

The President had authorized members of her Cabinet to negotiate and conclude the NBNZTE deal despite knowledge of possible anomalies. As details of these anomalies became public from the Senate investigation, the President cancelled the deal in October 2007. Despite the Philippine Senate serving as the only credible democratic institution seeking to uncover the truth about this scandal, the President has continued to impede and undermine its investigation of the cancelled deal.

Months after canceling the tainted deal, the President has still not taken any action herself to establish responsibility for any irregularities that may have occurred, nor has she taken any other action to hold any person in her Cabinet accountable for the international embarrassment and civil disturbance that this scandal has already brought to our country. She stands in the eyes of our people as a suspected plunderer, yet she has not acted to promptly bring out the facts that will clear up all doubts.

It seems to us that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is using her powers with impunity stave off the unmasking of her participation in the scandal. She has thus lost all credibility in fighting corruption, credibility that had already been eroded by her involvement in other unresolved scandals from election cheating to a fertilizer scam to bribery in Malacanang, among others.

We have therefore concluded that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is at the center of corruption and coverup in the NBN-ZTE scandal. Others may not agree with us, and we are open to be proven wrong. We ask those who agree with us, as well as those who think otherwise, to work together to determine responsibility for corruption in this deal, hold accountable those who are responsible, and devise measures to avoid recurrence.

Why is this important to PDF? This is about corruption, which sucks scarce resources crucial to development that benefits the poor, and which erodes public trust and destroys national unity essential to sustainable development. This is about corruption on a very large scale, with alleged $130 million bribes dwarfing costs of many projects financed by donors. This is about corruption within the NEDA-ICC process through which many donor-assisted projects have also been approved. And most important of all, this is about corruption, which may involve the President who is the principal with whom almost all country programs of assistance to the Philippines nominally relate. In the words of Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and former World Bank Chief Economist, “Smaller scale corruption is bad, but systemic corruption of political processes can have even greater costs.”

We call on the PDF to examine the NBN-ZTE scandal as a possible example of “systemic corruption of political processes.” We make the following suggestions for the dialogue among PDF partners this year:

* We ask our colleagues who represent our government and our country to explain to the international community why has the President not cooperated fully with the Senate in investigating a deal that she has in fact cancelled as anomalous in October 2007? Why has no one in the administration shown acceptance of responsibility for the damage and disturbance that this scandal has caused? Why has there been no resignation, suspension, or dismissal of anyone officially involved with the cancelled NBN project?

* We also ask our colleagues in the international donor community to consider how the integrity and effectiveness of their assistance programs to the Philippines could be affected if corruption at scale and level of the NBN-ZTE scandal remains unresolved? How could the prestige, credibility and leverage of the donor community be constructively mobilized to help Philippine democratic institutions resolve this scandal? How urgent is it for the President to demonstrate with actions her declared intention to get at the truth and hold those accountable for any corruption in the NBN-ZTE deal?

We must all be disturbed by how weak are Philippine democratic institutions in fighting corruption that is so brazen, so obviously harmful and so clearly destroys public trust in government. Leaving such an awful mess as the NBN-ZTE scandal hanging unresolved and inconclusive can only fuel widespread anger, despair, hopelessness and alienation.

There is a rising tide of public disgust over an administration that remains deaf to calls for major reforms, chooses to be blind to worsening hunger and poverty in our communities, and refuses to acknowledge the corruption driving this deafness and blindness to the common good.

The PDF has already contributed to bringing the issue of corruption into the mainstream of priority development concerns. The PDF has also opened the way for civil society organizations to participate in oversight over procurement, financial management and monitoring of development projects, as a concrete measure to increase transparency and accountability. We are hopeful that the PDF can open a new and positive channel for constructive dialogue on addressing corruption of political processes that is central to strengthening the Philippine institutions to which many of us have devoted so much of our lives and careers.

Signed:
Former Members of the Cabinet, The Diplomatic Corp of Officers,
and Heads of Constitutional Bodies

Florencio Abad, former Secretary, Department of Education
Rafael Alunan III, former Secretary, Department of The Interior and Local Government
Senen Bacani, former Secretary, Department of Agriculture
Angelito Banayo, former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs
Ramon Cardenas, former Head, Presidential Management Staff
Karina Constantino David, former Chair, Civil Service Commission
Edilberto de Jesus, former Secretary, Department of Education
Albert del Rosario, former Ambassador to the United States of America
Ramon Del Rosario, Jr., former Secretary, Department of Finance
Teresita Quintos Deles, former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Benjamin Diokno, former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management
Narcisa Escaler, former Ambassador to the United Nations
Jesus Estanislao, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural
Resources
Victoria Garchitorena, former Head, Presidential Management Staff
Marietta Goco, former Chair, Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty
Philip Ella Juico, former Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Lina Laigo, former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Ernest Leung, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Josefina Lichauco, former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communication
Narzalina Lim, former Secretary, Department of Tourism
Felipe Medalla, former Director General, National Economic Development Authority
Imelda Nicolas, former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission
Cayetano Paderanga, former Director General, National Economic Development Authority
Cesar Purisima, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Victor Ramos, former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Amina Rasul, former Presidential Adviser and Concurrent Chair, National Youth Commission
Rodolfo Reyes, former Press Secretary
Juan Santos, former Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry
Cesar Sarino, former Secretary, Department of The Interior and Local Government
Corazon Juliano Soliman, former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Jaime Galvez Tan, former Secretary, Department of Health
Rene Villa, former Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Veronica Villavicencio, former Lead Convenor, National AntiPoverty
Commission

Former Heads of Government Finance Institutions and GovernmentOwned
and Controlled Corporations

Leonor Briones, former National Treasurer
Jose Cuisia, Jr., former Governor, Central Bank of the Philippines
Francisco Del Rosario, former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines
Evangeline Escobillo, former Commissioner, Insurance Commission
Vitaliano Nañagas II, former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines
Norberto Nazareno, former President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation
Ricardo Mirasol Tan, former President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation
Deogracias Vistan, former President, Land Bank of the Philippines

Former Undersecretaries and Heads of Attached Agencies
Tomas Africa, former Administrator, National Statistics Office
Roberto Ansaldo, former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture
Gerardo Bulatao, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Sostenes Campillo, Jr., former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism
Isagani Cruz, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Guillermo Cunanan, former General Manager, Manila Airport Authority
Edgardo Del Fonso, former Undersecretary, Department of Finance
Quintin Doromal, former Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Good Government
Jose Luis Gascon, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Milwida Guevara, former Undersecretary, Department of Finance
Juan Miguel Luz, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Jose Molano, Jr., former Executive Director, Commission on Filipinos Overseas
Conrado Navarro, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Victor Ordoñez, Former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Walfrido Reyes, former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism
Melito Salazar, Jr., former Undersecretary, Department of Trade and Industry
Antonio Salvador, former Undersecretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Leticia Ramos Shahani, former Undersecretary, Department of Foreign Affairs
Mario Taguiwalo, former Undersecretary, Department of Health
V. Bruce Tolentino, former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture

Imagining Gloria Arroyo

23 March 2008 at 7:29 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

One of the exercises I do in my playwriting classes when I want to help my students create a character goes like this: Imagine yourself as the character and, using the first person pronoun, articulate what you feel and think.

Suppose I were writing a play about Gloria Arroyo, how would I write what is known in the drama trade as a monologue? The following, then, is a purely creative exercise; any resemblance to any living or dead person should be considered purely coincidental.

First of all, if I were Gloria Arroyo, I would never resign. That is simply stupid. I would be immediately hauled into jail by whoever replaces me. Even if the new president only puts me under house arrest in my own condo, that would still be very embarrassing, not to mention inconvenient. That is what happened to Erap. The people wanted Erap’s blood, and I had to give it to them. The people now want my blood, and whoever leads the mob will be just too glad to oblige them.

Secondly, I would never give up the presidency. The same reasons that prevent me now from resigning will still be around in 2010. The next president, even if he or she is the one I anoint, will undoubtedly put me in jail.

I had to put Erap in jail, even if I served him hand and foot as his Vice President. The only thing I could do for him was to pardon him the moment the court convicted him. That way, technically, he never spent a minute in jail. Of course, he did spend all those years not being able to move around, but that’s just a technicality. Technically, he was presumed innocent until proven guilty. As soon as he was proven guilty, I pardoned him. My successor will pardon me, I hope, but how many years will I have to spend imprisoned though presumed innocent?

It is not even a question anymore of my being innocent or guilty. Erap still says he is innocent, but I arrested him anyway. I think I am innocent, or at least I think I have done and continue to do the right thing, but no one seems to agree with me, not even my closest aides, who I cannot trust. In fact, I don’t really know who to trust anymore, since Erap’s closest aides betrayed him. Erap’s betrayers are in my Cabinet, for heaven’s sake. As they say, once a traitor, always a traitor.

I could declare martial law. But the Constitution says I cannot do that without Congress looking over my shoulder. It’s a good thing I have made sure that that fellow is no longer in charge of Congress. I never trusted him, even if he always defended me when I needed defending. He is always only for himself, not for anyone else, least of all me. But there’s still the Senate, and I can’t seem to get through to them. Not yet, anyway.

But I am not sure of this new Speaker either. I thought he was for federalism and a parliamentary system and all that. That is why I picked him. But he now says he is against changing the Constitution. A parliamentary system would have made me immune forever, because I can always be a member of parliament.

On the other hand, where would I run as a candidate? My own provincemates elected that pesky priest as our governor.

I don’t know why I ended up president in the first place. I just wanted to be a teacher. I loved being in a university, where you are judged not by who you know, but by what you know.

The die is cast. I have to bite the bullet. Martial law is the only thing I can do, and I better make sure Congress agrees with me. I don’t really care what the Supreme Court says. I have violated all sorts of laws anyway, but since it takes forever to challenge anything I do in court, I will have plenty of lead time to think things through. And to pack my bags.

They say I already have a place set up in Portugal or some other place where no one can touch me. That may be true, but why would I want to go into exile? I don’t want to die like Marcos did, just an unknown foreigner dying in a foreign land. I don’t want to end up like he did, not even having a proper burial as a former president. I want to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, because I am a hero. I saved this country from Erap. That makes me a hero, doesn’t it?

What an ungrateful people these Filipinos are! I have spent my entire life serving them, yet they turn against me just because some of my guys foolishly got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. It’s so hard to get good help these days.

(Published in Philippine Star, 20 March 2008)

Sarap and Lasa

20 March 2008 at 9:36 PM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Eat, drink, and be merry, though we’re really starving

“Food, after all,” writes Doreen G. Fernandez, “is primarily for survival,” but you wouldn’t know it if you read Sarap: Essays on Philippine Food (Mr. & Ms. Publishing Company, 1988), a collection of writings by her and Edilberto N. Alegre on why food means a lot more than staving off starvation.

The book brings together Fernandez’s culinary essays (such as her early 1971 “Puto-Bumbong, Bibingka, Salabat, atbp: The Filipino Christmas Table” and her more recent magazine articles) and Alegre’s linguistic studies (such as his 1987 magazine series on “Taste as Language” and “Cooking as Language”). Full of descriptive detail, the essays portray Filipinos as lovers of eating for its own sake (or, at most, for the sake of friendship, family, or religion) and not as a means to get through another day. There are exceptions, of course, such as the Bajaws, for whom “eating becomes only a minor activity.” There is also the Tagalog pantawid gutom or “in-between food,” but even that looks forward to the next meal, not to the next breath. In short, food to Filipinos is far from being primarily for survival.

Because food occupies a central place in our lives, the book is delightful to read. Her disavowal notwithstanding, Fernandez makes us “smell adobo and lechon” (in Nick Joaquin’s words, which she quotes) while we read about where and how she discovered such-and-such a dish. It is not adobo or lechon, of course, that Fernandez identifies as uniquely and definitively Filipino. That distinction is reserved for sinigang. Why sinigang? The answer to that question is precisely the reason her 1975 essay “Why Sinigang?” is now a classic.

Although the two writers are careful to note their separate and independent authorship of the essays, the book is unified by two things they share: they both love to eat, and they both love to talk about language. From street to hotel, from library to kitchen, from North to South, the two authors unselfishly share their culinary discoveries with us. No food is too strange, too exotic, too cheap, or too expensive for the two food detectives.

Similarly, Fernandez and Alegre share a love for language. Their investigations into the history, sociology, and psychology of food invariably begin and often end in the origins and meanings of words. Their etymologies may make older, more traditional linguists uncomfortable, but their intentions are unassailable: they are out to make us extremely proud of our cultural heritage.

Take adobo. The word comes from the Mexican word adobado (a stewed meat dish) and the Spanish word adobo (a pickling sauce). Indigenizing both words and food, we Filipinos now use adobo to refer not only to the basic chicken dish, but to the cooking process itself. We can put it another way: Mexicans have only a dish and Spaniards have only a sauce, but we have a process. One can derive all sorts of sociological insights from this, and the authors do that, not only with adobo, but with every other word for food that they find in Philippine languages.

In matters of food, we Filipinos are never at a loss for words. For rice, for instance, the most important food in our country, we have no less than 160 vernacular words! Fernandez and Alegre do not have the time nor the space to analyze each of these words, but they do try, in several essays, to spell out the implications and meanings that rice has in our culture. Here’s a quick example. One word gives a clue to the richness lying underneath language: the word olam literally means “to be eaten with rice.” The two authors have a lot of fun squaring that meaning with the new ways of eating olam (without rice) in fastfood places.

If Sarap strikes you as too theoretical, since food, if nothing else, is experiential, then try the other new book by this prolific pair of writers, Lasa: A Guide to 100 Restaurants (Urban Food Foundation, 1989). If you think this book is just another guide for tourists who don’t know any better, think again. For one thing, no hotel restaurant is included in the guide, that task having been done much earlier by the Hotel and Restaurant Association in The Dining Guide to Manila’s 50 Best Restaurants. For another thing, these are the same two authors of Sarap, which advises, among other things, that tourists who have “the standard preconceptions and fears” should be left to suffer, blissfully ignorant, in hotels. In other words, just as they challenge readers of Sarap to try out new things, Fernandez and Alegre are out to introduce offbeat places in Lasa.

In Lasa, you’ll find places frequented by taxi drivers (average cost of meal per person: P12 to P25), yuppies (the authors’ witty comment on the dress code: “Shoes required”), new rich (“Jogging pants not allowed inside”), and old rich (“exclusive to members”).

Having been written in September 1988, Lasa now needs some updating. I can’t resist adding some notes from my own experience. Contrary to the authors’ claim that Via Mare Coffee Shop in Greenbelt has “prompt service,” I have found its recent service consistently far from prompt. Grove on Pasay Road is indeed great at lunch, but dinner sometimes finds it serving what may have been lunch. With more tables now, Balaw-Balaw is even better than it used to be, if that’s possible. I miss the Chinese restaurants Gloriamaris, Jade Garden, and China City (the last unfortunately hit by a strike) in the guide, as well as the less expensive Sala Thai (near PWU), the unpretentious Wok Inn (with two branches near Malate Church), and the enduring Za’s Cafe in Ermita.

What obviously has to wait for the next edition are the new Dulcinea in Greenbelt and Becky’s Kitchen for cakes (though they are not, strictly speaking, restaurants), the various places with the word “Sugar” in their names, Kim Anh Vietnamese Restaurant (near Hobbit House on Mabini) with its spring rolls, and if the Dining Guide goes out of print, the hotel places that are exceptions to the general dreariness of hotel food (such as Century Park’s delicatessen and its fabled Coupe Mon Amour, Manila Midtown’s dimsum place, Manila Hotel’s buffet lunches, Silahis’ Italian buffet, and the former Hilton’s Coquilla Glory).

In matters of taste, there can be no dispute, said the ancients, but modern Filipinos know better: food is a matter of personal and national pride and identity, taken as seriously as politics, but much less hypocritically.

BIG PEOPLE IN SMALL JOBS: The government employees assigned to the Promotions Department of the Linangan ng mga Wika ng Pilipinas at the University of Life complex are exceptionally courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable. Similarly credits to their jobs are the drivers of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Makiling Arts Center. When I was recently stranded in Makiling without a spare fan belt, they brought me back to Manila in the CCP car, had my car repaired, and drove my car to Manila to catch up with me. All that in the driving rain. If our legislators would only take their jobs as conscientiously, we would not be in the fine mess we are in today.

(First published in Starweek, September, 1989)

A Contrary View of Miss Saigon

20 March 2008 at 9:33 PM | Posted in News | 4 Comments

“It would be a rather irresponsible critic or reviewer,” wrote Fr. Nicasio Cruz, S.J., in his Reel World on September 17, 1988, “who would analyze, say, Scorpio Nights, Ora Pro Nobis or Private Show solely on aesthetic grounds, praising its undeniable (though limited) artistry, without making a further prudential judgment about the possible moral dangers for the viewers.” As a critic and reviewer, I have no wish to appear irresponsible. I shall, therefore, venture into a moral criticism of the much-publicized Miss Saigon.

There is no question about Lea Salonga’s achievement as the lead singer of this new musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane near Covent Garden at the heart of London’s West End. She is brilliant as the Vietnamese prostitute who falls in love with an American customer, bears his child, escapes to Bangkok where she continues to ply her trade, and kills herself when he decides to stay with his American wife. She is clearly the best singer in the whole ensemble, even besting Claire Moore (who plays the wife), who starred in The Phantom of the Opera. Beside her, the male singers in the cast all look like neighborhood favorites who failed to make it to the grand national finals of Ang Bagong Kampeon. Looking particularly inept because he has to sing several songs with her is Simon Bowman (who plays the American customer Chris), who starred in Les Miserables. Only male lead Jonathan Pryce (who plays The Engineer, a Vietnamese pimp) gets the same kind of applause at the curtain call. The night I saw it (September 22, 1988), in fact, the loudest applause was reserved for Lea Salonga, who got a standing ovation.

“What a lovely voice,” I heard the British viewers saying after the show. “She is very good,” echoed others. There were very few Filipinos in the Grand Circle that night (I was forced to buy an expensive ticket because there was no other ticket left). It could not be said, therefore, that patriotic feelings clouded our judgement. The cheering after the show for Lea was genuine aesthetic delight, brought about by her talent for singing and acting. Let is not be said that I am taking away from her achievement, which has made her an international theater star.

What bothers me about the production – and it has also bothered a number of British viewers and reviewers, including our own Paul Woods who wrote his review for another newspaper – is the blatant racism, sexism, and bigotry of the production.

First, the racism. All the Vietnamese and Thai characters in the story, whether played by Filipino, Malaysian, Italian, French, Dutch, Japanese, American, or British performers, were the scum of the earth – pimps, prostitutes, bar habitues, sadistic and mindless soldiers, anti-nationalist visa-hunters at embassies. None of the Asian characters had any redeeming human qualities. Even The Engineer (played ingeniously by Pryce) helps Kim (played by Lea Salonga) only because her child is his “passport to America.” In the well-hyped production number “The American Dream,” where an enormous Cadillac slides into the stage from the back, Pryce even dilutes the apparent satiric intent of the song by making it too subtle for the American tourists in the audience.

In contrast to the bad guys who populate Asia, there are the good guys in the United States. In a scene set in Atlanta, the Americans (played by all the nationalities I’ve cited) are portrayed as genuinely concerned about the human rights of the children they have left behind. (Interestingly enough, they are not concerned about the women the men left behind.) Chris’s friend John (played by Peter Polycarpou) is portrayed as an all-around good guy, trying to find a way out for Chris while protecting his son. After all, the son has American blood, making him “better” than the pure-blooded Vietnamese. Ellen the wife is so kind-hearted that she even takes Kim’s son under her wing at the end of the show. What the writers try to satirize in “The American Dream,” they forcefully lionize in the characterization. You can’t get more racist than that.

Sexism is something else. The first scene, meant aesthetically to establish the milieu, is actually meant to titillate the men in the audience. The director and designers recreate the inside of our Ermita joints. There is the raffle where the unlucky prostitute (“Miss Saigon”) is given to the lucky customer. There is endless kissing and pawing, with our Filipina actresses getting effectively mauled on stage. There is the baring of skin. In short, under the pretext that the prostitutes are sex objects for the customers, the show manages to make the actresses sex objects for the audience.

One particular stage business says it all: an actor shakes a beer can in front of his groin, thus giving the appearance of masturbation. Pornography under the guise of art is still pornography. The scene set in Patpong (Bangkok’s answer to our Mabini) repeats the pornography. The lascivious dancing of the actresses is done every night both in Patpong and in Manila (or Quezon City or Cebu or any other place where poverty forces women to prositution). There is only one difference between Theatre Royal Drury Lane and our neighborhood beer garden: it’s considered respectable for a man to bring his wife to the Theatre Royal.

Finally, there is bigotry. No matter what we think of communism, we cannot deny that the Vietnamese fought a war to get rid of foreigners in their own land. Miss Saigon makes it appear that the Vietnamese fought the Americans simply because of Ho Chi Minh’s ego, symbolized by a gigantic statue hoisted up by mindless communist soldiers. We might as well say that the Americans fought the British because Thomas Jefferson and George Washington wanted memorials built in their honor, or that Filipinos fought both the Spaniards and the Americans because we wanted to have a Rizal Park. Racism and sexism are recognized moral evils all over the world, but bigotry is just as much of an immorality.

It is the most ironic twist of all that a musical meant to appeal to an eventual American audience on Broadway has to distort the American ideal. If democracy offers us anything, it is openness to other people’s ideas. A play that says that Asians, women, and communists are not worth taking seriously betrays a narrowness of mind unworthy of Jefferson, Washington, Rizal, Ho Chi Minh, or even Lea Salonga.

(First published in Starweek, January, 1989.)

English Not for Critical Theory

20 March 2008 at 9:22 PM | Posted in News | 4 Comments

Anvil Publishing has been after me for more than a decade to compile my columns into books. Perhaps one way to force me to do that is to upload as many of my old columns as I can, thus enabling me to revise the columns for book publication, as well as to gauge reader reaction. Here, then, is the first of what should be a series of uploaded, updated old columns.

Why English will not do as our language for critical theory

I was not going to reprint in this column the comments I delivered on July 14, 1989, during the Round-Table on Critical Theory of the Third International Philippine Studies Conference held at the Philippine Social Science Center. Although a number of Starweek’s readers are English teachers, I felt originally that the general reader may find the jargon of literary theorists opaque, if not altogether weird.

On August 28, 1989, however, in another newspaper, Arnold Molina Azurin, in a feature article entitled “Who is storming the Ivory Tower?”, quoted my comments sympathetically at some length. If readers of a feature article can get through jargon, I said to myself, then readers of columns (particularly this column!) should have a chance to find out what I delivered that evening in Quezon City.

Here, then, are substantial portions of my paper, entitled “Deconstructing English as a Language for Philippine Theory.” Judge for yourselves if theorists, speaking to other theorists, still have some relation to your real world.

My field is literature – in other words, words. I want to start with a quibble about words.

I think we should be grateful to Edward Said et al. for introducing into English-language critical discourse such terms as orientalism, The Other, and minority discourse. We should not, however, let gratitude blind us to the blindness even of well-meaning American and British theorists.

I want to talk particularly about three terms as used in literary critical discourse: West, Third World, and The Other.

We know that many residents of the United States of America, particularly those in New York City, like to think of themselves as being at the center of the world. Let us indulge them and draw a map of the earth with the Americas in the middle, Asia on the left, and Europe on the right. On such a map, we can easily see that the Philippines is west of America and Europe. We are The West. Our literature, in other words, is Western literature. The literature of America and Europe, then, is Eastern or “Oriental” literature.

The origins of the term “Third World” in literary discourse are lost in political and economic history. The adjective third implies a first and a second numerically, and it also implies a pecking order in terms of value. A first-rate piece of literature is clearly better than a third-rate piece of literature. As all card-carrying New Critics know, words carry with them all their previous meanings; we cannot dissociate the term “third world” from “third-rate.” I ask: why are we in the Third World? Who gave anybody the right to call us the Third World? If I start counting from where I am – which is the accepted way since Descartes – I am the first person, therefore the First World, and all others have to content themselves with being the Second, Third, or nth Worlds. Philippine literature, in other words, from my point of view (using Henry James’s definition of that technical term), is First World literature, and American literature is Third World literature.

Now, The Other. You or even Thou are Other than me, but I don’t see why I should not enumerate pronouns starting from myself. In terms of gender, feminists are now beginning to see that calling the Woman the Other naively accepts the patriarchal Weltanschauung; Woman is Other only to Man. Gayatri Spivak has had a lot of fun deconstructing the term Wo-man. Similarly, in terms of race and geography, we are Other only to Said and company who live in the United States. I prefer to see America and Europe as The Other.

Why, then, do we not call Philippine literature Western, First World, and The One – or whatever is the binary opposite of The Other? I’ll tell you why. Because the English language prevents us from doing so.

Here is where race theorists can learn from gender theorists. Feminists know that the English language has a built-in bias for patriarchy, starting with the generic term for mankind. Feminists have succeeded, in some way, in eroding that bias. If we too, English-speaking non-Americans and non-Europeans work at it, we may yet, one day, put our mouths where our politics is.

Just as feminists have identified language as a key battleground in the war against patriarchy, we must also see the English language as a crucial space in our fight to tilt the balance of power in literary theory. Just as feminists are seeking to demasculinize language, we must seek to deethnicize English.

There is no use denying it, but the ruling paradigm in Philippine literary circles today is still New Criticism, or at least that non-ontological part of it not debunked by the neo-Aristotelian Chicago alumni among the English professors at the University of the Philippines. Teachers and critics still routinely talk about imagery, tone, point of view, metaphor, symbol, irony, theme, organic unity, and the other things made fashionable before the Pacific War by the American Southern Agrarian critics. Structuralist, even post-structuralist, concepts are seen in the Philippines as mere footnotes – albeit jargonized, frenchified, trendy – of formalist close reading. Even Marxists or Maoist-Marxists who explicitly disavow New Criticism invariably read literary texts in the expressive realist, pre-Saussurean, text-centered fashion so ably caricatured by Catherine Belsey. Mao’s aesthetic yardstick, for example, is widely (mis)interpreted to refer to form or craft.

Some critics, of course, while using New Criticism as their everyday method in classroom teaching, in judging literary contests, and in reviewing books and other texts, give the appearance of living in the heady world of foreign trendsetters, but there is little appreciation of the mutual incompatibility of many contemporary critical theories. The word eclectic is used to mask massive ignorance or, at least, muddled theoretical thinking. Nothing electic, strictly speaking, can be called a theory, but that philosophical quibble does not bother even our leading literary critics.

My own theoretical position is blatantly anti-Theoretical. I mean by Theory with the capital T the growing institution – should I say the gradual movement from emergent to dominant ideology? – of theory in British and American universities. Theory has become almost entirely divorced from reading practice.

I believe that the way we theorize should derive from the way we read texts, not the other way around. This has important implications for the linguistic quibble I have with the English language. We tend to read Philippine texts the way we read European or American texts. We call Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere a novel, for instance, thereby immediately implying that we have to apply to it theories of the novel derived entirely from European novels. I know that Rizal thought he was writing a European novel, but that has no bearing on the problem, particularly in these death-of-the-author days. Edgar Allan Poe thought that he was writing British magazine stories, but that has not changed the way American critics read “The Cask of Amontillado.” Soledad Reyes has already pointed the way to more sympathetic readings of so-called sentimental – or worse, “romantic” – Philippine novels, and Emmanuel Reyes has done a similar thing for Philippine films, but we still denounce Philippine serialized novels and films as melodramatic.

That’s about as much as I can get into this column. If you want more of the same, do write me, and I’ll gladly send you a complete copy of my comments. (By the way, I delivered the paper in Filipino, with the English translation given out to the foreign participants.)

(First published in Starweek, August, 1989.)

17 March 2008 at 7:33 PM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Paalaala ng Taumbayan sa Pangulo na Maging Tapat Siya sa Bayan

Mga mamamayan kami na dating may hawak ng matataas na posisyon sa gobyerno. Sa aming karanasan, umuunlad lamang ang ating bayan habang matatag ang mga institusyon ng gobyerno. Ang Tanggapan ng Pangulo ang pinakaimportanteng institusyon sa buhay ng ating mga kababayan. Para maalagaan ang kapakanan nating lahat, kailangang responsable ang paggamit ng Pangulo sa kanyang posisyon. Kapag makadiyos at makatao ang isang Pangulo, gumaganda ang takbo ng ating bayan. Pero kung alagad ng kasamaan ang isang Pangulo, sumpa siya sa bayan. Kaya nga nang itatag nila ang ating demokrasya, ang ating marurunong na mga ninuno ay gumawa ng sistema para hindi umabuso ang Pangulo, para katapatan at hindi kataksilan ang umiral sa Tanggapan ng Pangulo.

Nasira na ang sistemang ito. Napakarami nang iskandalo ang nangyari. Marami nang ulit na pinagtaksilan ng Tanggapan ng Pangulo ang taumbayan at ang ating bayan. Ang “Fertilizer Scam.” Ang pandaraya sa eleksyon. Ang pagbibigay ng mga “shopping bag” na puno ng pera sa loob mismo ng Malakanyang. Pinakabagong iskandalo lamang sa napakahabang listahan ang NBN-ZTE. Hindi na tayo papayag na kalimutan na lamang ang pinakabagong iskandalong ito. Sobra na. Dapat nang lumabas ang buong katotohanan. Dapat nang managot ngayon ang dapat managot. Dapat nang baguhin ang sistema para hindi maulit ang ganitong pagtataksil sa bayan. Kailangang aminin ng mga institusyon ng gobyerno na may korupsyon dito. Hindi dapat magtagumpay ang nagtatangkang pagtakpan ang baho ng iskandalong ito.

Tinatanong ng ating mga kababayan: Kasangkot ba si Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sa suhulan sa NBN-ZTE at sa pagtangkang huwag malaman ito ng bayan? Kung talagang wala siyang itinatago, kailangang siya mismo ang kumilos para lumabas ang buong katotohanan. Kung hindi niya papayagan na magsabi ng totoo ang lahat ng tauhan niya, magiging malinaw na siya mismo pala ay kasangkot at may kasalanan.
Sa nakaraan naming pahayag, hiniling namin kay Pangulong Arroyo na panindigan niya ang kanyang sinabi: “Ang taumbayan galit sa katiwalian; ganoon din ako, galit din ako sa katiwalian.” Binigyan namin siya ng pagkakataong ipakita na galit na galit nga siya sa mga kumukurakot ng pera ng taumbayan. Kung naibigay niya ang hiniling namin, madali sanang nakita ng sambayanan na wala siyang itinatago. Ito ang aming nakaraang mungkahi: utusan niya ang testigong si Kalihim Neri na sabihin na ang lahat; utusan niyang ipadala sa Senado ang lahat ng mga papeles tungkol sa NBN-ZTE; gawin niya ang karaniwang ginagawa ng isang mataas na opisyal ng gobyerno: na kung may hinala siyang may ginagawang masama ang kanyang mga tauhan – ang ilagay sila sa tinatawag na “preventive suspension” o pansamantalang di-pagpasok sa opisina. Pangkaraniwang palakad naman ito sa gobyerno para siguruhing hindi kadudaduda ang imbestigasyon sa isang anomalya.

Tama sanang proseso ito at madali sanang paraan para patunayan sa taumbayan na hindi kasangkot ang Pangulo sa katiwalian. Tutal, siya na nga mismo ang nagsabing hindi na itutuloy ang NBN-ZTE. Hiniling namin na gawin niya ang mga hakbang na ito hindi dahil mayroon kaming mapapala o makukuha sa ganoong proseso, kundi dahil gusto talaga naming mapakita niya na kabutihan at hindi kasamaan ang umiiral sa Tanggapan ng Pangulo. Pumasok lamang kami sa usapin dahil dati kaming nasa gobyerno at nanghihinayang kami na nawawasak ang mga institusyong pinagsilbihan namin nang maraming taon. Kung ginawa ng Pangulo ang dapat sanang ginawa niya ayon sa karaniwang proseso sa gobyerno, nadalian sana ang Senado na matuklasan kung ano talaga ang tunay na mga pangyayari sa suhulan at pagsisinungaling sa NBN-ZTE.
Pero kahit hindi pa nila naintindihan ang aming minumungkahi, inatake na kami ng mga tagapagsalita ng Pangulo. Pagkatapos, minasama pa ng kanyang mga tagapayo ang sinabi namin at binalaan pa kami na huwag daw dapat kaming makialam. Dapat isipin ng ating Pangulo na lalo siyang napapahamak dahil sa kanyang mga tagapagsalita at tagapayo.

Kahit na binawi na ng Pangulo ang EO 464 ay hindi pa rin lalabas ang buong katotohanan kung ipagpipilitan ni Neri ang “executive privilege” at hindi siya sasagot sa lahat ng katanungan ng Senado. Hindi rin magandang palatandaan na patuloy na ayaw ibigay ng Pangulo sa Senado ang lahat ng dokumentong may kinalaman sa NBN-ZTE. Mabuti na lang at ginagawa ng Korte Suprema at ng Senado ang kanilang tungkulin sa bayan, pero mas mahalaga na gawin din ng Pangulo ang kanyang tungkulin. Siya pa nga ang makikinabang kung mailalabas na nang lubos ang katotohanan sa Senado. Kung patuloy niyang hahadlangan ang paglabas ng katotohanan, maniniwala na ang taumbayan ng kasangkot nga siya at ginagamit niya ang kapangyarihan ng kanyang tanggapan para itago ang katotohanan.

Sa aming palagay, ayaw ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo na malaman ng bayan ang katotohanan tungkol sa NBN-ZTE. Dahil patuloy niyang pinagbabawalan ang kanyang mga tauhan na ilahad ang buong katotohanan, dahil hindi niya ginagawa ang dapat na gawin ng isang may mataas na posisyon sa gobyerno, dahil maraming beses na sana niyang napabilis ang proseso ng pagtuklas sa katotohanan, wala kaming ibang maisip kundi siya nga ay kasangkot, siya nga ay nasa gitna ng korupsyon at pagtatakip sa baho ng iskandalong NBN-ZTE.

Wala na kaming tiwala sa kanya. Dahil dito, hindi kami naniniwala na may karapatan siyang mamuno sa atin. Hindi kami naniniwala na kaya pa niyang mamuno, sa harap ng lumalaking bundok ng basura ng kasinungalingan at kalituhan na itinatayo niya para pagtakpan ang baho ng katiwalian sa kanyang administrasyon.

Hinahamon namin ang mga tauhan ng Pangulo na tumingin sa salamin at tanungin ang kanilang sarili kung tapat pa ba sila sa kanilang sinumpaan na ipagtanggol at ipaglaban ang Saligang Batas at ang lahat ng mga batas ng ating bayan. Hindi ba sila nahihiya na kasama sila sa isang sistemang di-maipagkakailang tiwali at yumuyurak sa ating mga karapatan?

Hinahamon namin ang mga nasa gobyerno at nasa “foreign service” na itanong sa kanilang konsyensya kung tinutulungan nilang umiral ang kasamaan at kataksilan ng administrasyon ng Pangulo dahil sa patuloy nilang pagsisilbi dito. Malinaw na kasi na pinababayaan ng administrasyon na maging taksil ang ilang tao sa gobyerno, at baka pa nga sangkot mismo ang Pangulo sa ganitong kataksilan.

Tinatawagan namin ang lahat ng ating mga kababayan na ipagpatuloy ang pagtuklas sa katotohanan. Huwag nating pabayaang makalimutan ang kataksilan ng Pangulo sa ating bayan.

Nangangako naman kami na gagamitin namin ang aming karanasan at kaalaman para tulungan ang ating mga kababayan na maintindihan ang nangyayari sa ating bayan. Ipaaalam namin sa lahat ang nalalaman namin at nalalaman ng iba tungkol sa napakaraming iskandalong ito. Ang mga kababayan na natin ang bahala kung ano ang gagawin nila kapag nalaman na nila ang buong katotohanan.

Sasama kami sa ibang mga mamamayan na umiisip ng paraan para linisin ang ating gobyerno. Kikilos kami para ayusin ang sistema ng mga institusyon ng demokrasya, para matigil na ang katiwalian, para mahuli at maparusahan ang lahat ng tiwali sa lahat ng antas ng gobyerno. Dapat na simulan nating lahat ito sa pinakamataas na tanggapan ng gobyerno.

The People Must Remind the President (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) of Her Obligation to Public Trust

16 March 2008 at 6:11 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

We are former senior government officials who from experience know that strong democratic institutions are crucial to our progress as a whole nation. The most important institution our people depend on is the Office of the President. The responsible exercise of Presidential power is an important instrument for serving our nation’s interests. A President that leads with righteousness and wisdom is a great blessing. A President that serves evil is a terrible curse. To secure a blessing and avoid a curse in the Presidency, the founding leaders of our democracy established a system of checks and balances.

The failure of checks and balances on the Presidency has allowed many past scandals to descend to a limbo of unresolved crimes against the public trust. Fertilizer scam. Election cheating. Shopping bags of cash in Malacanang. The NBN-ZTE scandal is just the latest monster in a larger pile of garbage from previous scandals. Our people are not going to let this one slip into the limbo again. Our search for truth, accountability and reforms must advance by getting our institutions to confront and resolve the corruption and cover up of this deal.

Our people have asked: Is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo part of the NBN-ZTE corruption and cover up? She must act to help bring out the full truth about this deal if her hands are truly clean. The Arroyo Presidency must shelter the truth or it will be judged as a fortress for lies.

Our previous statement asked the President to take actions that were intended to demonstrate that indeed, like the people, she is against corruption and is angry at those engaged in it. Ordinary citizens can recognize the actions we asked of the President as reasonable under the present conditions: let the primary witness, Secretary Neri, testify without limitation; surrender all pertinent public documents on the deal to the Senate; follow usual administrative procedures by placing under preventive suspension those people under a cloud of doubt while an investigation is proceeding.

Since the President had already cancelled a deal that she judged tainted by corruption, these actions are logical and prudent. We demanded these actions not as an interest group but as a straightforward way for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to demonstrate that she is a blessing not a curse in the Office of the President. We got involved because we saw it as our civic duty to help start the repair and rehabilitation of our institutions already severely damaged from past scandals. By doing the actions we called for, the President would have shown her respect of the system of checks and balance of our democracy by cooperating fully with the Senate to give our people the full picture of the corruption and cover up of the NBN-ZTE deal.

Even as we issued our statement, however, the President’s spokepersons were summarily dismissing these demands. Later her advisers even criticized and threatened us for making these demands. The President is very poorly served by these spokespersons and advisers.

Revoking EO 464 does not serve the truth if Neri still invokes executive privilege and does not testify and, if, despite previous statements to the contrary, all records of the NBN-ZTE project have still not been submitted to the Senate. We believe the Supreme Court or the Senate must do their respective duties to serve the truth, but the President has a greater obligation. She has the greatest stake in the Senate investigation coming out with the truth or the people will conclude she hides behind lies and uses the power of her office to smother the truth.

We conclude that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo refuses to serve the people’s demand for truth about a matter of great public interest. We see in this refusal, despite ample chances and many sound reasons, a clear basis for our people to find her complicit with and, in fact, at the center of, the corruption and cover up of the NBN-ZTE deal.

We express our loss of confidence in her. As a consequence we question not only her moral authority to govern, but also her ability to govern given the mounting garbage of lies and obfuscation that she is constrained to build to cover up the increasing stench of corruption in her administration.

We ask those directly appointed by the President if they believe, in their heart of hearts, that they are keeping faith with their signed oath to defend and protect the nation’s Constitution and its laws in the face of blatant, shameless corruption and violation of individual rights.

We ask those in the civil service and foreign service to examine their conscience to
discern if their continued service in this Administration is not in fact helping prop up a regime that, at best abets large-scale corruption, lies and cover up, and at worst is a party to them.

We call on our fellow citizens to press their demand for a just resolution of governance issues and violation of the public trust raised against the President.

For our part, we pledge to use our combined knowledge, capabilities and influence to help as many of our people understand the issues and explain the known facts surrounding the many instances of corruption and encourage them to act in accordance with the dictates of their conscience.

We shall work with other sectors to put forward and apply other measures to make our other democratic institutions work better in preventing, exposing and punishing corruption at any level of our government starting at the very top.

Signed by:

Florencio Abad, former Secretary, Department of Education
Tomas Africa, former Administrator, National Statistics Office
Rafael Alunan III, former Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government
Roberto Ansaldo, former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture
Senen Bacani, former Secretary, Department of Agriculture
Angelito Banayo, former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs
Emilia Boncodin, former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management
Leonor Briones, former National Treasurer
Gerardo Bulatao, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Clifford Burkley, former Undersecretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Sostenes Campillo, Jr., former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism
Isagani Cruz, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Jose Cuisia, Jr., former Governor, Central Bank of the Philippines
Guillermo Cunanan, former General Manager, Manila International Airport Authority
Karina Constantino-David, former Chair, Civil Service Commission
Edgardo Del Fonso, former Undersecretary, Department of Finance
Teresita Quintos Deles, former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Benjamin Diokno, former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management
Quintin Doromal, former Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Good Government
Narcisa Escaler, former Ambassador to the United Nations
Evangeline Escobillo, former Commissioner, Insurance Commission
Jesus Estanislao, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Victoria Garchitorena, former Head, Presidential Management Staff
Ernesto Garilao, former Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Jose Luis Gascon, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Marietta Goco, former Chair, Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty
Cielito Habito, former Director-General, NEDA
Edilberto de Jesus, Jr., former Secretary, Department of Education
Philip Ella Juico, former Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Lina Laigo, former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Ernest Leung, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Josefina Lichauco, former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications
Narzalina Lim, former Secretary, Department of Tourism
Juan Miguel Luz, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Felipe Medalla, former Director-General, NEDA
Jose Molano, Jr., former Executive Director, Commission on Filipinos Overseas
Vitaliano Nañagas, former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines
Conrado Navarro, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Norberto Nazareno, former President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation
Imelda Nicolas, former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission
Victor Ordonez, former Undersecretary, Department of Education
Cayetano Paderanga, Jr., former Director-General, NEDA
Vicente Paterno, former Minister, Ministry of Trade
Felicito Payumo, former Chairman, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
Cesar Purisima, former Secretary, Department of Finance
Rolando Querubin, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Albert del Rosario, former Ambassador to the United States
Francisco del Rosario, former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines
Ramon del Rosario, Jr., former Secretary, Department of Finance
Victor Ramos, former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Amina Rasul, former Presidential Adviser and Concurrent Chair on Youth Affairs
Rodolfo Reyes, former Press Secretary
Walfrido Reyes, former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism
Juan Santos, former Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry
Cesar Sarino, former Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government
Corazon Juliano-Soliman, former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Hector Soliman, former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Mario Taguiwalo, former Undersecretary, Department of Health
Jaime Galvez Tan, former Secretary, Department of Health
Ricardo Tan, former President, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation
Wigberto Tañada, former Commissioner, Bureau of Customs
V. Bruce Tolentino, former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture
Rene Villa, former Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Veronica Villavicencio, former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission

Government Should Serve the Truth

7 March 2008 at 7:01 PM | Posted in News | 2 Comments

We are former senior government officials who have served the government in the administrations of Presidents Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo. Today we see how the institutions of government are being manipulated, weakened, and corrupted. We are committed to help rebuild and strengthen the government institutions in which we worked to serve the public good rather than personal and partisan interests.

Our people can only trust a government that governs with truth. We grant government so much power over our lives, resources and shared future because it governs with truth. When there are serious doubts about government’s adherence to truth in matters of vital public interest, no real peace or substantive unity is possible until such doubts are resolved. We cannot move on without the truth.

We are now in the midst of great disturbance because we doubt the truth behind the NBN-ZTE deal. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had belatedly cancelled the contract because of reported “anomalies”. Hence, most Filipinos reasonably conclude that corruption tainted this deal. For several months now at the hearings of the Senate investigation, we have all seen disturbing glimpses of the truth about alleged corruption that attended the NBN-ZTE deal. We are outraged by what we have seen thus far.

The President said recently: “Ang taumbayan galit sa katiwalian. Ganoon din ako, galit din ako sa katiwalian.” We affirm the first sentence. We ask that the second sentence be demonstrated in action. Having belatedly cancelled the contract to show her supposed anger with reported corruption in this deal, the President must now follow through with actions to determine the actual “anomalies” and establish responsibility for these. Otherwise, canceling the contract could be interpreted as an effort to cover up corruption rather than to pin it down and root it out.

Government should serve the truth and the President should act immediately and decisively to enable the truth to emerge.

The most credible forum thus far to establish the truth behind the NBN-ZTE controversy is the Senate investigation that has persevered in seeking facts and witnesses. The Senate is a functioning democratic institution that can help the people recognize the truth about this divisive matter. We thus call on the President to cooperate fully with the Senate and stop denigrating it so that its investigation can be completed as soon as possible. In particular, we ask the President to lead in showing government’s commitment to the truth by taking the following actions which can reasonably be done within one week:

• First, order acting Chair Romulo Neri to resume his testimony before the Senate investigation without any restrictions or limitations;

• Second, order the release and delivery to the Senate of all public records pertaining to the NBN-ZTE deal, starting with the minutes of the NEDA Board meetings on the project;

• Third, suspend DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso, as the DOTC was the lead agency for this project;

• Fourth, suspend DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, PNP Director General Avelino Razon, Deputy Executive Secretary Manuel Gaite, Deputy NAIA Chief Angel Atutubo, Senior Supt. Paul Mascarinas and all those involved in the attempt to prevent Senate witness Jun Lozada from testifying; and

• Fifth, order a halt on any further attempts by such agencies as the DOJ, DENR, NBI and BIR to harass Senate witness Jun Lozada and those who are testifying in behalf of the truth.

The Filipino people can make democratic institutions work to fight corruption by even the most powerful people in our midst. We can do this based on the power of reason and the power of the people’s communal action. We deserve a government that governs with truth.

The President must demonstrate her commitment to the truth through these actions within one week as more and more of our people make their judgment. She must do these or be condemned as complicit with, and in fact, as being at the center of, the lies surrounding the NBN-ZTE deal.

The President must do these or the people will make their judgment and act on the basis of their conviction.

Signed by:

1. Florencio Abad (Former Secretary, Department of Education)

2. Tomas Africa, (Former Administrator, National Statistics Office)

3. Roberto Ansaldo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture)

4. Senen Bacani (Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture)

5. Angelito Banayo (Former Secretary, Political Affairs)

6. Romeo Bernardo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Finance)

7. Emilia Boncodin (Former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management)

8. Gerardo Bulatao (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)

9. Clifford Burkley (Former Undersecretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)

10. Sostenes Campillo, Jr. (Former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism)

11. Isagani Cruz (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)

12. Jose Cuisia, Jr. (Former Governor, Central Bank of the Philippines)

13. Col. Guillermo Cunanan (Ret.) (Former General Manager, Manila International Airport)

14. Karina Constantino-David (Former Chair, Civil Service Commission)

15. Teresita Quintos Deles (Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)

16. Edgardo Del Fonso (Former Head, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management)

17. Benjamin Diokno (Former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management)

18. Quintin Doromal, Sr. (Former Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Good Governance)

19. Franklin Drilon (Former Executive Secretary)

20. Narcisa Escaler (Former Ambassador to the United Nations)

21. Evangeline Escobillo (Former Commissioner, Insurance Commission)

22. Jesus Estanislao (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)

23. Victoria Garchitorena (Former Head, Presidential Management Staff)

24. Jose Luis Gascon (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)

25. Marietta Goco (Former Chair, Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty)

26. Jose Antonio Gonzalez (Former Secretary, Department of Tourism)

27. Milwida Guevara (Former Undersecretary, Department of Finance)

28. Cielito Habito (Former Director-General, National Economic Development Authority)

29. Edilberto de Jesus Jr. (Former Secretary, Department of Education)

30. Lina Laigo (Former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)

31. Ernest Leung (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)

32. Josefina Lichauco (Former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications)

33. Narzalina Lim (Former Secretary, Department of Tourism)

34. Juan Miguel Luz (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)

35. Jose Molano Jr. (Former Executive Director, Commission on Filipinos Overseas)

36. Vitaliano Nañagas (Former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines)

37. Conrado Navarro (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)

38. Imelda Nicolas (Former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission)

39. Vicente Paterno (Former Minister, Ministry of Trade and Industry)

40. Pete Prado (Former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications)

41. Cesar Purisima (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)

42. Victor Ramos (Former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources)

43. Amina Rasul (Former Presidential Advisor on Youth Affairs and Concurrent Chair, National Youth Commission)

44. Rodolfo Reyes (Former Press Secretary)

45. Walfrido Reyes (Former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism)

46. Alberto Romualdez Jr. (Former Secretary, Department of Health)

47. Albert del Rosario (Former Ambassador to the United States of America)

48. Francisco del Rosario (Former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines)

49. Ramon del Rosario (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)

50. Melito Salazar (Former Member of the Monetary Board, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)

51. Antonio Salvador (Former Undersecretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)

52. Leticia Ramos-Shahani (Former Undersecretary, Department of Foreign Affairs)

53. Cesar Sarino (Former Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government)

54. Juan Santos (Former Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry)

55. Corazon Juliano-Soliman (Former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)

56. Hector Soliman (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)

57. Mario Taguiwalo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Health)

58. Jaime Galvez Tan (Former Secretary, Department of Health)

59. Ricardo Tan (Former Head, Philippine Deposit Insurance Commission)

60. Wigberto Tañada (Former Commissioner, Bureau of Customs)

61. V. Bruce Tolentino (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture)

62. Veronica Villavicencio (Former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission)

63. Deogracias Vistan (Former President, Land Bank of the Philippines)

Former Senior Government Officials, 5 March 2008

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.