Politics, Boss & the 23%


Two columns ago, I covered convergence and politics then politics and neuromarketing in the hope that doing so would refocus the kind of political communications we can have come 2016. It was not meant only for my colleagues in the profession of political consulting and/or management. It was for general reading to show that communications today is no longer a one-to-one proposition and reaching a target audience, voters, can scientifically be made, efficiently and economically. Whether it is effective is a function of the other side of the equation, the voters themselves, and whether the narratives are believable and candidates can be trusted.

Those two columns are inputs to this because the concept of Boss has been totally reframed as purely an echo chamber for the leader. But before going into that, let me again define politics as I have with my first column in this broadsheet. As I have said in classrooms and various fora where I talked about it, politics is not bad per se. The word politics is derived from the Greek “poli,” meaning ‘citizen’, and the Greek suffix “ics,” which denotes a body of facts or knowledge. So, the word “politics” literally means knowledge of being a citizen. Citizen is value neutral but Boss denotes hierarchy and power. So why is Boss uni-dimensional for BSA3 and yet is negatively viewed by him when some would be critical of his policies, plans and programs?

In the tradition of Harold Laswell, politics is “who gets what, when and how.” Politics is truly an allocation problem. What makes politics bad is partisanship and that sometimes derails the best laid plans and there are so many under the Aquino administration because as the late Dolphy once said, it is easy to win a campaign but hard to govern. Spot on from the funny man who made sense.

The first time the word “Boss” was used in local political discourse was when BSA3 used it in his inaugural address. It was a tweak that reflected a realignment of power, a good political imagery. It was applauded and much appreciated because it redefined relationships where there was none before. It gave context to an overdue angst of a people that wanted to be treated well and cared for by their elected leaders, national and local. Boss of 2010 has no longer been inclusive by 2014, just like the vaunted economic growth. Boss is now an echo chamber where the leader has decidedly removed critics from the pool making them limited to the KKK and kaalyado.

And Boss economically still remains as one with economic power. As former NEDA head Ciel Habito once said in 2011, the “40 richest families on the Forbes wealth list accounted for 76 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth.” Though there was wealth created by economic growth, it was still unequal. That means the Boss being cited may not necessarily be our ordinary Juan Dela Cruz. These are still the traditional oligarchs, the real Bosses!

Recalling the famous quote of the 2012 elections in the US, “there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax…and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Republican candidate Mitt Romney said. In the PH, it appears that the American 47% is the Filipino 23% which former National Treasurer and fellow columnist in Manila Times, Leonor Magtolis-Briones summed up last week as the House Standing Committee on Appropriations approved the national budget for 2015 without cuts. Briones warned that Congress is “now exercising only 23 percent of the power of the purse and that the rest or 77 percent has been usurped by the Palace.”

If the Boss is composed of the 100 Million Filipinos fair and square, members of the House of Representatives should not just look at the 23% of the proposed General Appropriations Act. They should review all funds because they have theoretically the power of the purse. But alas, legislators chose to just look at the 23% as if saying taxation is representation only up to 23%. And they continue to dumb down the taxpayers and the voters, just like the play on the second term.

The proposed 2015 budget is an election budget that is why there are several lump sum items in it. Far from taking budgeting seriously, there is nothing on building resilient communities as a direct lesson from Yolanda. Where geo-hazard areas have been identified, nothing is in the proposed GAA to remove these houses from harms way and build newer communities in safer areas. The policy of no build zones have not been adopted despite of the lessons learned from Yolanda. Is the plan rushed by the Lacson team funded at all in the proposed GAA for 2015?

When only 23% of the proposed GAA has been scrutinized, that’s like saying to taxpayers that we only value your 23%. The principle of taxation without representation is ingrained in our democracy. That our representatives must defend our contribution to this democracy by standing tall and fight to the last centavo of government allocation is not something trifle with. So are we truly the Boss?

Interestingly, a Cabinet official defending lump sum appropriations asked, “how can calamity fund become pork barrel?” Just look at Tacloban and other areas affected by Yolanda and November (a year after Yolanda hit us) is just around the corner. The answers are with your so-called Bosses or would you have forgotten the politics of inclusiveness?


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  1. the nonchalance of the government as exemplified by aquino is but a clear statement of who really the BOSS is. charge it to people’s gullibility. a simple media spin and people keep spinning towards aquino. it is only just recently that the real BOSS is beginning to arouse from stupor. it took 4 and a half years before juan dela cruz is coming to his senses…4 and a half long years! we could have reached heights by now! sad to say, we’ve been had. for how long can we take the beatings?