On leaving PDP Laban

On Friday, 20 October, I submitted my resignation as the Secretary-General and as a member of the PDP Laban Party. In my resignation letter, I expressed my utmost gratitude to former President Rodrigo Duterte, our party chairman, for the trust and confidence conferred during my incumbency as the PDP Laban Secretary-General. I served the party under him with loyalty and delivered on the duties and responsibilities assigned to me.

As a contributing opinion writer in this newspaper, I want to express my opinion on matters concerning national issues affecting ordinary Filipinos without being tied to the political stand of PDP Laban. I was always for nation-building. I believe that after the political season, we can discuss political, economic, and social matters in a manner that is not corrosive but beneficial to our country’s economic well-being.

I believe that the incumbent knows their pact with the Filipinos and that they will fulfill it in a manner befitting the proud Filipino class. All of these are written in our Constitution.

It is very important for us to support the incumbent, especially when they have a clear political mandate. It is not about the personalities but about protecting our institutions of leadership, like the three branches of our government. This is the only way to have a truly strong republic and attain economic growth.

There is this one hypothesis that institutional weaknesses caused by political instability may have been one of the huge reasons why we have left the boat to industrialization. (Jeffrey G. Williamson & Emmanuel S. de Dios, 2014. “Has the Philippines forever lost its chance at industrialization?”  Philippine Review of Economics, University of the Philippines School of Economics and Philippine Economic Society, vol. 51(2), pages 47-66, December.)

The hypothesis is that perennial political instability and legitimacy crises hinder investment and growth. Between 1983 and 1986, the economy plunged. Then came the Edsa revolt. There was political instability, too, in the incumbency of President Cory Aquino, given the seven coup attempts. Further political instability in the 2000s because of the question of corruption led to another revolt to replace President Estrada. However, questions of PGMA’s legitimacy led to mass rallies and attempted coups- political instability.

The political instability during the 1990s prompted investor services to grade the Philippines as a “high political risk” from 1984 to 1991. The timing of the political uncertainties was unfortunate, too. It coincided with the spillover and relocation of Japanese manufacturing to Southeast Asia; Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia benefitted but not the Philippines. As a result, Foreign direct investments to Thailand from 1987 to 1991 were USD 24 billion, while the Philippines only had a measly USD 1.6 billion for the same period.

It is clear to me that political stability is the path to economic growth. To not undermine the institutions created under our Constitution.


Confidential Funds

I wanted to elaborate on my stand regarding the issue of confidential funds in local government. I hope Congress will tackle this not to find fault or to blame anybody but to craft a law prohibiting the practice of it. Giving the discretion to local executives to appropriate confidential funds in their favor is inimical to the interests of the Filipinos. LGUs earn revenues from taxing landholders, however small. It will be similar to the Philippines in the 1800s, with small farmers paying tributes to their Spanish conquistadors without explaining where the money was going. This is why Filipino farmers refused to work on their lands, prompting the Spanish friars to wrongfully brand the Filipinos as indolent.

The practice of confidential funds will create dynasties and tyrants at the local level, and soon, even the barangay captains will appropriate for themselves confidential funds. They will claim they have the same rights as their mayor since they maintain peace and order at the barangay level. It is absurd and unjust. It will plunge us into chaos. The elections will be dirty and bloody. Confidential funds in the LGUs will not bring us peace and order, only greater income inequality and poverty.

Congress must act. Our nation’s well-being is at stake.

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