Sunday, April 18, 2010


The five current or former government employees among the candidates have all had at least twelve years of government service. Their record of service can, therefore, be a good indicator of whether or not they will deliver on their campaign promises. This is the reason why I have chosen to support Erap; for it is Erap who has been most productive as a civil servant.

The years as mayor need no discussion here, nor the fact that most roads of San Juan have been cemented. This is a feat no politician can boast of, no matter how close to Marcos or Arroyo, no matter how big the pork barrel. The achievements won Erap the TOYM award in 1972. Other government officials who won the TOYM award for public service, are Ninoy Aquino in 1960, and Paeng Salas in 1962 (wizard of Marcos’ miracle rice production surplus).

The years as legislator were uneventful; proving that Erap is better as an executive than as legislator. One noteworthy item is his advocacy (his maiden privilege speech) of legalizing jueteng.

His aborted presidency, bore more fruit than the successor. And that is due to his careful selection of his cabinet. To paraphrase that old cliché, tell me who comprise the cabinet, and I will tell you the type of president you have. Erap appointed individuals, who were not only competent in the field, but had their hearts in their portfolios. Appointing one who truly cares for the portfolio, is a sign, not only of good management, but of sincerity in delivering the service of that portfolio. Appointing somebody unqualified actually guarantees the failure of the portfolio, as evidenced by the failures of the incompetent Angelo Reyes.

The following is a sampling of some of the appointees of Erap.

Brother Andrew Gonzales – a lifelong educator, and former head of La Salle was appointed as the Secretary of Education. The La Salle brothers, like other religious orders, have dedicated their lives to the education of the youth. The successor, on the other hand, appointed a corporate lawyer with no education experience.

William Padolina was appointed to the Department of Science and Technology. Like Erap, Padolina is a TOYM awardee (Science and Technology – 1985), and a UP System awardee as outstanding administrator.

Domingo Siazon, Jr. was appointed as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Siazon is a career diplomat, who rose from the ranks; starting as vice-consul in 1964, until his appointment as Secretary by Erap. The successor appointed non-career diplomats, as secretary and ambassadors.

Justice Serafin Cuevas was appointed as Secretary of Justice. His entire career was devoted to the administration of justice, starting as assistant fiscal of Manila, to CFI (Court of First Instance) judge, justice of the court of appeals, and later Supreme Court. He is the unquestioned authority in remedial (procedural) law, among his peers in the Supreme Court, and in the academe. Erap’s successor appointed Raul Gonzales – one who was earlier suspended by the Supreme Court for ignorance of the law, and one who capped his stint as DOJ Secretary with that scandal involving drugs, bribes, and the Alabang boys.

Erap’s economic team was comprised of Felipe Medalla at the helm of the NEDA, and budget secretary Benjamin Diokno, both economics professors from UP, with Ph.D’s from Northwestern University and Syracuse University, respectively. Some economic stats (taken from the World Bank) of Erap’s term, attributable to these gentlemen, are as follows:

GDP growth was negative in 1998, the first half year of Erap, due in large part to the Asian economic meltdown. It rose to 3% in 1999, and 6% in 2000. (See Stats 1, How to Get Data below).

Gross capital formation for those years was 20% (98), 21% (00) and 19% (01). Gross capital formation, as defined by the UN, is measured by the total value of investments in fixed assets, by the entire economy, business, government and households. Fixed assets include buildings, roads, bridges, equipment, etc.( In layman’s terms, it is the measure of goods that produce other goods. An increase in these assets increases productive capacity, and leads to greater employment. The figures for Erap’s successor have averaged 16.24% for 2001 through 2008. This belies any claim that more investments, whether foreign or domestic, were made in her time. (Stats 1)

Exports during Erap’s time were 52%, 51% and 55% of GDP for the three years. The successor started with 49% in 2001, slid to 47% in 2007, and a dismal 37% in 2008. Exports minus imports yields a negative $5.1 Billion for Erap in 1998, against negative $11.1 Billion for the successor in 2008. (

The growth rate of GDP per person employed or labour productivity is defined as the growth rate of output per unit of labour input.


It was negative 3% in 1990, zero in 1995, and 6% in 2000. It was zero in 2005, and 3% in 2008. Clearly, labor was more productive during Erap’s time than during the years of his successor. (Stats 2)

In the ratio of employment to population, the successor performed slightly better than Erap, with 58% in 2000, against 60% in 2005 and 61% in 2008. (Stats 2)

Remittances from OFWs ballooned from Erap’s 5.1 Billion pesos in 2000 to 18.6 Billion pesos in 2008. (Stats 1) I will not consider this a positive factor, however - that people were forced to seek employment abroad. The low capital formation, low productivity and higher employment, may indicate that many of the so-called employed were actually underemployed.

The exchange rate of the peso to the dollar has not recovered from its 2001 levels. In stark contrast the currencies of our Asian neighbors have all appreciated against the dollar, and have improved against their 2001 levels, as indicated by the table below:






Philippine Peso





Thailand Baht





Malasian Ringgit





Indonesian Rupiah






The peso of the year 1998 can buy goods worth 1.10 pesos in 2000, showing a slide of ten centavos in purchasing power during the term of Erap. The peso of 2008, however, can buy goods that a mere 64 centavos of 1998 can buy. That is a slide of 36 centavos of purchasing power. (

The job of the Chief Executive is to spot the talent, deploy him/her, and lend full support. The Chief Executive, himself, does not have to be a good lawyer, engineer, or physician, in the case of the health department. As Henry Ford said, “I do not need to be a good engineer, I can hire one”. The assembly of a good team, and their competent performance, is the reason why I chose to support Erap.


It is said that at 73 (Happy Birthday Sir), Erap is too old to govern. Konrad Adenauer was 73 when he took the helm of West Germany, and governed until he was 87. Deng Xiao Ping was 76 when he took over and produced China’s economic miracle. This is not to say that Erap will be as great as these leaders. But these men prove that age is no hindrance to performance (No this is not a sales pitch for Viagra).


There is, of course, that conviction for plunder; and the perception that Erap is corrupt. But I have little regard, in fact, unalloyed contempt for a court that deigns to consider fabricated evidence. And it is difficult to believe that one who said no to the $14 Million bribe of IMPSA would yield to the temptation of Chavit Singson [572 Million pesos at the exchange rate then - (]. There is also the issue of credibility. One bill weighs one gram. So if the 130 million were in 1,000 peso bills, that would yield 286 pounds. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would have difficulty lifting that. (1,000 pieces of 1,000 pesos = one million = 1,000 grams/454 grams per pound = 2.2 pounds, multiplied by 130 = 286 pounds.)


The rules only bind the servant (government); they do not bind the taskmaster (sovereign people). A direct act of the people always prevails over legislative acts, because legislative acts are acts only of the representatives. The direct act, I submit, also prevails over the Constitution, because this is a later direct act, and therefore, the will of the people at the present time. Furthermore, the Constitution was ratified in toto, meaning, wholesale. A voter may have been in disagreement with, say, the presidential system, or the fact that there is no provision for a reelection of the president. But the voter may have discounted that objection, because his choice was limited to ratifying the whole or not ratifying. In the case of a vote, there is only one issue – who should lead the country? This is, therefore, an unequivocal manifestation of the will of the people on a single issue, involving a single candidate (you only write one name). So between this singular unequivocal act, and the general intent in ratifying the Constitution, the unequivocal vote must prevail.

Our recent history has shown that the rich and powerful have gotten back what they lost in the Marcos years. The Lopezes got back Meralco. The Jacintos got back their companies. The Marcos cronies got back into the halls of power. Heck even the Marcoses are back in the government. It is only the poor who have been denied what is due them. Few, if any, have been compensated for the transgressions in the Marcos years – a pittance compared to what the Lopezes got back.

It seemed for a while that the poor got back their voice. They voted for Cory, but the rich and powerful declared Marcos the winner. The poor found their strength, regained their freedom, and gained the leader who inspired them. Alas, it was short-lived. The poor later voted for Erap, but the very people who ululate “people power” and “the will of the majority” conspired against the leader who garnered more votes than Cory.

Do the poor still want Erap to lead? That I cannot say. But based on his record, and on what I can read from the record of the other candidates, I chose to support Erap. The economic stats prove that si Erap ay para sa mahirap.

How to get the data:

Stats 1

  2. click Data and Research
  3. Left panel (Data), below that it says Key Statistics, default is data by country,
  4. click Go
  5. On the left panel, click "Key Statistics"
  6. Scroll down and click "Quick Query"
  7. On the next window, scroll down to Philippines and click "Select". Lower right, click "Next"
  8. On the next window, click "Select All", Lower right, click next.
  9. On the next window, click "2008", scroll down to the year you want (I chose 1986 as starting point), on your keyboard, hold down the shift key and click "1986". Click "Select", Lower right, click "Next"

Now you have your data. You can export this to Excel, so you will not need to access the World Bank website everytime.

You export by clicking on the top right, to the right of the word "Export", the

dropdown menu with the word select, and click "Data"

That will fire up the export applet.

Stats 2

  2. click Data and Research
  3. Left panel (Data), below that it says Key Statistics, default is data by country,
  4. click Go
  5. On the left panel, click "Key Statistics"
  6. On the next window, click "Millennium Development Goals"
  7. On the next window, click the dropdown menu, scroll down, and click "Philippines"
  8. You get the stats for the millennium goals. You can also export to Excel like above.