The state of the state (SOS)


The real report this country needs is not a state of the nation address (SONA), but a state of the state report (SOS). This stands a better chance of saving our sad republic than a self-serving egotistical SONA.

This format will address directly the heart of national malaise, which is bad government, ineffective, incompetent and corrupt.

I’ve been thinking lately about this change in focus because we are again in the time of year when we take stock of the state of our lives and our country. In keeping with tradition and duty, President Aquino will report on the state of the nation at the opening of the final regular session of the 16th Congress on Monday, July 27.

What kind of report he will make, what phony achievements he will parade, and in what state of mind he will do it, is a matter of much conjecture.

I submit that the real report and accounting that needs to be made should concern “the state of the state” in this country. Because it is through effective governance that national success or failure is truly determined.

Giving up on BBL deadline
We get a sniff of where things are headed by the fatuous statements that have been issued lately by the Malacañang spin machine and by BS Aquino himself, viz.

1. Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte has said that putting the BBL in the SONA is not the reason President Aquino wanted the BBL passed by June 11 next week, when congress will adjourn. The real reason she tells us with a straight round face is a timeline in the peace deal with the MILF.

Senate President Franklin Drilon has given up all hope of the Senate meeting the once-inflexible deadline. He now says the administration looks to passage of the law in October when candidates will file their certificates of candidacy in the 2016 elections.

2. Last Thursday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced matter-of-factly the first quarter performance of the economy. The statement said simply, with no dressing, that the economy grew by 5.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 5.6 percent a year ago. This fell way short of what analysts and economists had forecast.

Instead of just letting the PSA numbers convey the deflating news, communications secretary Herminio Coloma conducted a press briefing and spun the tale that President Aquino was not satisfied with the economy’s first-quarter performance.

Then he became wishful and declared that there is “room for optimism on faster growth in the next three quarters.”

He inadvertently revealed that government underspending, once again, was the major culprit behind the poor results. Government now foresees better results for the rest of the year, because government will turn on the spigots for vital public works and infrastructure projects.

3. The real performance of the economy is showing that the Philippines is the weakest economy among the original Asean 5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand Singapore, Philippines). It is hardly the “darling of Asia” that PNoy boasted of during his recent trip to North America (the US and Canada).

In five years in the Presidency, Aquino has been a disaster in every way. He has weakened our tripartite system of government, by Corrupting congress and weakening the Supreme Court.

While already a problem before, corruption has become the cancer of our democracy. Where in the past, corruption consisted of bribery by the private sector of public officials and agencies. Under Aquino, the corruption has mutated into outright malversation and thievery of public funds.

Global race to reinvent the state
This chaotic period under Aquino has placed the country outside the contemporary global movement of nations that seek to test ways to innovate and improve performance in governing.

In a new book published last year, The fourth Revolution : The global race to reinvent the State (Penguin press, 2014), by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge – editor in chief and managing editor of The Economist respectively – the authors report that there is ever-fiercer competition today between states to figure out which innovations in governing will yield the best results.

Historically, there have been three major developments in the evolution of states, namely:

The appearance of nation-states in the16th and17th centuries, which brought internal order and external competition to Europe;

The liberal revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries, which replaced patronage systems with meritocratic and often much smaller government; and

The Fabian revolution in the early 20th century which created the modern welfare state.

China and Singapore as innovators
The authors report that there is a fourth revolution underway in global politics. Western liberal democracy is in a state of crisis, because of an unsustainable debt burden that Western states are carrying.

For the first time since the middle of the 20th century, the global race is on to devise the best kind of state and the best system of government.

Who wins this contest to lead the fourth revolution in modern governance will stand a good chance of dominating the global economy.

Up front in innovating on ways of governing is China, which has taken giant strides in producing a new model of government that directly challenges the western belief in free markets and democracy.

Also receiving mention is tiny Singapore –which has created arguably the world’s most effective administrative machine.

Both have espoused authoritarianism in governing to some extent.

Philippines in a time warp     
The Philippines is nowhere in this global movement of governance innovation because we have not thought about the challenge for over a generation.

Since the time of President Marcos and his experiment in constitutional authoritarianism, there has been little Filipino thinking about innovation and upgrading in governing. It’s as if our nation sank into a time warp by blindly following western precepts of liberal democracy and free markets.

And now here we are overwhelmed and overmatched by the challenge of governing and providing for a nation of over 100 million people.

To return then to my original point, we need as a matter of national salvation, a full review of the state of our state, not just because there’s a move to establish a Moro sub-state from one of its ribs, but because government is failing in its most basic functions in society.

Government today is the most distrusted institution in this country.

In the annual Philippine Trust Index survey conducted by Eon Stockholders Relations, government comes out last in a survey that rates and ranks six institutions: church, academe, media, business, non-government organizations, and government.

Church came out first.


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  1. Teddy Sevilla on

    Your bias for authoritarian forms of government is evident. I would feel very scared if authoritarianism is indeed the wave of the future. But I am comfortable in the knowledge that it is hardly the case.

    Modern liberal values have evolved. Slowly….. but it evolved. Technology assures us that we will never go back to the old days of Hitler, Stalin and, yes, Marcos where information was held by a few, media was suppressed, dissent was destroyed and public opinion was controlled. Democracy and liberal values will have setbacks, as in the Middle East now. But the “revolution” marches inexorably forward to an age of greater openness, acceptance and transparency.

    Present-day China as a model for governance? Tell that to the Tibetans, Uighurs and Filipino/Vietnamese fisherfolks.

    And what were the innovations of the the Marcosian version of constitutional authoritarianism? Crony capitalism was not a Marcos innovation. Stalin tortured and murdered. Hitler suppressed and plundered. China’s “Cultural Revolution” pre-dated the Philippine’s “New Society” by six years. Marcos never innovated; he copied.

    Marcos had more than 14 years to transform the Philippines. Were we any closer to achieving Singaporean-style success in 1986? In fact, Marcos’ martial law is the anti-thesis to the innovations of Lee. If a handbook on how not to do martial law would be written, the Philippines will be a prime case study.

    Your view is that “… In economic performance, fighting graft and corruption, infrastructure achievements, foreign policy and a dozen other areas, the Marcos regime was thousands of times better than this corrupt and hypocritical PNoy administration……” My experience was different. To me that was a dark period when pessimism and fear hung heavy over the heads of ordinary citizens. Pinoy’s reign does not come close. There were, of course, as even in the worst societies (think North Korea), not-so-ordinary citizens who enjoyed plundered largesse and freedom to express whatever praise they have for the Marcos government. Perhaps your loathing for our current president blinds you to historical facts.

    And yes, I agree that Pres. Aquino is weak-minded. He is a bad example for otherwise-cherished Filipino values of loyalty and pakikisama. But he has his achievements and good points which I do not deny that Marcos – nay, ALL our presidents – had. If he ever gets a chance to run again – not impossible in our country – I won’t vote for him. But to exaggerate his failures in governance as exceeding Marcos’, I cannot say amen. I could not bear not answering neo-KBL distortions. Filipinos deserve to hear better.

  2. christinetan on

    “In five years in the Presidency, Aquino has been a disaster in every way. He has weakened our tripartite system of government, by Corrupting congress and weakening the Supreme Court.” … In my humble view, while Pnoy has aggravated our weak tripartite system of govt by further corrupting the already CORRUPT CONGRESS, he unwittingly gave our Supreme Court several opportunities to rise to the occasion as it did when most of its members refused to be cowed and intimidated by him and his minions even with the threat of impeachment and demonstrated its/their independence on several issues like the DAP and JDF. Come to think of it, the members of SC are like long-term tenants, while Pnoy and his ilks are transient boarders. It is quite difficult for a transient boarder to get the house owner to eject a long-term tenant for no valid reason other than mania or temper tantrum of the former.

  3. Gino: Don’t you ever generalize and convey the same old sweeping statements about democracy, liberty, or freedoms we enjoy. It is not enjoyable when there is anarchy, selective justice and propaganda. It is not just far, it sells like rotten eggs like the deadly H2S. Actually, it is now Hydrogen Sulfide which pervades the air and that is because of your blind faith in the US and UK style of democracy. If you would like to be one of the minions of Abnoy, the Yellows and the hegemonic ways of American foreign policy, go ahead. Magpa uto ka, but not me.

  4. The Church did not teach us how to steal and be corrupt. The Church did its best to guide us to know the difference between good and evil when we were young. If we still turned out to be evil when we became adults, then it’s our greed and lust for money and power and the Church can’t do anything anymore.

  5. P.Akialamiro on

    I’d like to hear Pres. BS Aquino III (some say “The Last”) discuss or speak the “walk” he did for his “talk” ….. in specifics, not generalities, and no finger pointing. By now, he should be ‘mature enough’ to accept responsibilities and no excuses. As one PNP officer said, “Man up, sir”!

  6. It seems there are a few reporters on the manila times who do nothing but slag off the president of the philippines. I think if you first look to arroys time in office. She signed a deal with china which then allowed china to see how rich the oceans are all around the philippines & now they want to claim ownership of them all. So it seems its aroyo who caused or played a big part in that.
    We will never fully know the corruption from arroyos term or any president before her, but at least this president has started to rid the country of the corrupt senators, congressmen & all associated with them in this huge web of corruption. A marathon is started by a first step, without that first step you will never do a marathon. Im sure this president isnt perfect & i personally dont like him but he has started a wheel rolling to rid this country of the corrupt. First we got corona with unexplained wealth of P180,000,000. How many poor people would like even a small portion of that. He was hiding his ill gotten money behind the bank secrecy law. He feigned lack of understanding the law, are you kidding me, the country’s top lawman & he didnt understand it, my god ive no formal qualifications but i understood it, so does tht make me cleverer than corona.
    Now we have senators & congressmen & public officials being brought to justice. Dont you want that, i do i want these scum thorn in jail for the rest of their miserable lives. Its because of them that the poor of this country are poorer, & do they care, no not one iota so forgive me for not forgiving them as that i just cannot do.


    You have no cows. Only oligarchs are allowed cows, and will sell you milk at monopoly prices, providing you are grateful and subservient.

    You breed cows for the oligarchs

    You have no cows, but lots of ‘cash cows’ to milk by sending them abroad

    You say you like cows, but really prefer chickens

    You have 2 cows, by copying someone else’s business model.

    “You have two carabaos passed off as cows.
    You get a loan for a modern dairy farm. With the loan, you buy two luxury vans, go on a junket and pocket the balance. One carabao dies of malnutrition, you cut up the carcass and sell the meat as imported Australian beef. Tying up with an NGO on the remaining carabao, you get United Nations funding for a research project on
    improving the breed. The funds end up improving your lifestyle. You finally sell the carabao on the sly, and blame the government for not capturing the cattle rustlers roaming the land”

    You have ‘ghost’ cows, and claim grants and aid via a dummy NGO to help fund ‘research’. All funds kept in offshore account, or used to buy property in US

    You have 2 cows – your wife is one, but turns a blind eye to the udder one!

    You have no cows. You prefer to get fat on pork.

    You claim to have 2 cows, but really have 22

    Why buy a cow when you can get milk for free!

    You have no cows but will keep praying until the cows come home.

    How now brown cow

    You have no cows, but through a worldwide appeal, build a mansion to house them, in Los Angeles.

    You represent the cows who claim not to be cows, and blame the chickens for agricutural persecution.

    Do you have 2 young cows to hire?

    ‘Gimme milk’

  8. The writer wrote: “Since the time of President Marcos and his experiment in constitutional authoritarianism, there has been little Filipino thinking about innovation and upgrading in governing. It’s as if our nation sank into a time warp by blindly following western precepts of liberal democracy and free markets.”

    The Marcos experiment resulted in massive human rights violation, a wider gap between the rich and the poor and one of the most corrupt dictatorship ever in the world. Filipino thinking resulted in his overthrow so I think that was pretty innovative.

    There definitely is still much more work to be done to undo the mentality which seemed to have it’s heyday during the Marcos regime (cronyism, low regard for Human Rights, patronage politics, “Might is Right” mentality) but I hope the writer is not insinuating that Marcos’s experiment is better that where we are now?

    It’s a disgrace to the memory of all who were abused during Marcos regime. We have more freedom and less fear to talk about rampant corruption and persecute those who are corrupt. Let’s do right with that freedom and the power of democracy.

    In economic performance, fighting graft and corruption, infrastructure achievements, foreign policy and a dozen other areas, the Marcos regime was thousands of times better than this corrupt and hypocritical PNoy administration that is the darling of the uninformed and misinformed foreign media and governments and of the CONSCRIPT MEDIA in the Phil;ippines.

    • A thousand time better for whom? And at what cost?

      The Manila Times itself for 14 years was ” closed down by the imposition of authoritarian government” during the Marcos regime (quote from the Times’ About Us page). To lose fundamental freedoms for what gains?

      “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

  9. ben_tumbling on

    MABUHAY si PNOY! Sa mahigit 100milyong pilipino, s’ya lang ang nakakaalam at nakalutas ng pagkasunog ng Kentex factory!!!!!!

  10. What gets measured gets better – What is just BS will only get worse

    Whether it is customer satisfaction, company profitability, product development, educational grades, or a golf handicap, we measure and compare as the basis for continuous improvement. Facts and figures reflect progress, and also help to identify shortfalls, highlight problems, and establish priorities.

    A CEO is primarily measured on sales, growth, profitability
    For The President, corruption, poverty and inequality are the the key measurements, and the benchmarks of achievement, as well as the foundation for future progress and prosperity. Other aspects are inputs/drivers towards those goals.

    Facts and figures also cut through the propaganda, help to sort the wheat from the chaff, and the reality from the BS.

    Pnoy BS Aquino should be judged on his major achievements – after all it is results which count – and it is the job of a President, and politicians, to deliver on the ‘contract’ they made with the electorate, particularly in terms of the campaign platform/promises.

    The SONA itself should be the equivalent of an annual report, and a shareholders meeting, not a social gathering or excuse for a fashion parade. It demands gravitas, and voters merit more respect, and full accountability. It should not trivialise poverty and hardship with an overt display of excess, nor should it be long on cliches, but short on facts, or full of empty rhetoric, but empty of full disclosure.

    The SONA is an opportunity to pause, contemplate, analyse, and take stock, and for voters to judge the progress, and the path being followed.

    “Don’t measure yourself by what you
    have accomplished, but by what you
    should have accomplished”
    John Wooden

    It would be innovative and informative for the Manila Timesto produce a clear, concise and comprehensive review of Key Performance Indicators (? and composite country comparative analysis within ASEAN), with measurement/graphs as appropriate, utilising resources such as Ben Kritz and Emeterio Perez, and timed to co-incide with the SONA

    The enemy of propaganda is the truth.
    The foil for lies are facts.



    – FoI
    – Anti dynasty
    Balance of payments
    GINI Index
    Cost of living index/ commodity prices
    Wages index
    Number of OFW’s going abroad
    OFW remittances as %gdp
    Number of tax evaders put in jail
    Poverty level
    Unemployment level
    Underemployment level
    Millenium development goals
    Human rights
    Human trafficking
    Public Private Partnership (PPP)
    Illegal gambling
    Open skies agreement
    – Maguindanao massacre – progress
    – SAF 44 – progress
    – PDAF cases
    SALN’s – publication
    ‘Customer’ satisfaction – The Happiness index
    Global impunity Index
    Global Innovations Index
    Budget increases
    Tax rates
    Media killings
    Quality of life/urbanisation – transport, housing, urban architecture, planning
    Air pollution
    Customs – corruption, cabotage
    Anti-trust/competition law
    Labor practices
    Constitution – Economic reform (60/40)
    Environment – disaster readiness/response
    Literacy levels
    Crime levels
    % gdp spent on:
    – innovation
    – education
    – health services
    Social progress index
    ASEAN economic ranking

    And an example from UAE:

  11. Malamang maraming magagalit!
    Pero ito ang totoo,ang simbahan ang unang may kasalanan kung bakit ganito kasama ang patakbo ng gobyerno natin!!
    Lahat halos ng namumuno sa gobyerno ay mula bata ay sa katolik school nag-aaral at mga pari pa ang mga nagtuturo dito,
    Bakit nag si tanda ang mga ito na ang natutunan ay magnakaw sa kaban ng bayan! Anong meron ang simbahan bakit naging ganito lumabas ang kanilang na turuan!
    Tayo lang ang Christian country,dapat iba tayo!!mas mabuti di ba!may totoong bang naniniwala at natatakot sa dios?nagtatanong lang?!

    • sonny dela cruz on

      Marcopolo, Huwag mong sisihin ang simbahan, wala sa simbahan ang nakawan sa gobierno. It is in the system of government. The way we have is a Unicameral system. Ang ibig sabihin ay ang presidente ang pinaka-makapangyarihan sa buong system. Lahat ay luluhod sa kanya kung kailangan ng pundo para sa probinsya o sa siyudad niya at kung hindi ka kapartido o kaibigan ay wala ka. Kung corrupt ang presidente, all his cabinet department head are friends or compadre at maybe all are corrupt too. That is the bad side of a Unicameral system of government. Now, Federal system, the power granted by the system to the EXECUTIVE BRANCH of the National or Federal government is limited because the other power is given to the Regional government or State government. Mostly the agency of the Regional government are ELECTED and not appointed, and most of them are independent to each other that’s why they call it people’s government. Hindi ka pwedeng gumawa ng katarantaduhan kasi maraming mga mata. So, Please don’t blame the church its in the system of government.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Ang simbahan ba ang nagpapatakbo ng gobierno? Huwag naman mabilis mag husga. Isipin ng maigi ang mga bagay. Isalaysay ang katunayan sa pamagitan ng analysis. Ang gobyerno ay siya ang nag mamaneho sa mga bagay na maaring ma-analysed and measured sa pamamagitan ng mga resulta sa mga programa at mga policies. Ito ay hindi maaring malaman sa sweeping statement na walang pinagbabasihan.

      Ano ang mga layunin ng partido na nasa poder? Ano ang kanilang mga policies? Sa bawa’t policy ano ang progreso na nakamtan? Panay bang pangako? Panay bang pang-sisisi? Panay bang kasinungalingan?

      Kung alam niyo ang mga ito, maaring mag presenta ng sarili niyo na analysis at bigyan ng passing o failing grade ang namamahala ng pagpapatakbo ng mga programa — kung sakali mayroon o wala ba talaga mga programa. Bilang botante, kayo po ay mayroon tungkulin sundin ang mga nagawa ng mga na-eboto sa pagpapatakbo ng pamahalaan. Ang kanikanilang pananampalataya ay hindi kasali sa kanilang mga nakamtan sa kanilang mga layunin. Ang presidente ay ang opisyal na responsable sa harap ng mga botante. Kung sa tingin niyo ay masama ang kaniyang mga programa, tungkulin niyo na sabihin sa kniya. Kung sa tingin niyo ay walang mabubuting resulta sa kaniyang mga layunin, sabihin niyo sa kaniya. Ika nga ang mga bobotantes ang kaniyang boss. Ang mga bossbosstantes ay dapat marinig ang kanikanilang mga boosses upang mapakinggan ng mga publikong utusan. Ang simbahan ay walang paki-alam diyan maliban sa ang mga tao sa simbahan ay tulad niyo rin na may mga tungkulin bilang mga botantes. Isang boto bawa’t bobo. Natural na ang bobo ay hindi marunong tanggapin ang sariling kabobohan. Dapat lang din na ang na-i-halal ay malamang bobo rin.

    • Problema kasi sa atin, hindi tumitimo sa isipan at puso natin ang turo ng simbahan… Marami namang Kristiyanong matitino.. Ang nakapagtataka lng, halos lahat ng mga kurakot, mapagsamantala, mamamatay-tao, manyakis at durugista ay pareho ang relihiyon. Ibig bang sabihin, may problema sa relihiyon na yon? Nagtatanong lang po..

    • In part, you are right. Mahilig kasing makialam ang simbahan sa usaping pampolitika. nanjan ang CBCP saka mga kardinal.

      Remember, si Cardinal Sin ang isa sa key person na nagpabagsak kay Makoy at Erap (hakot madre sa rally)

      Tapos ang iingay pa ng CBCP, sinuportahan pa ung “human rights” ng mga kriminal

      Ngayon si Cardinal Tagle ay sumuporta sa BBL kahit di naman niya pala napapag-aralan pa ng mabuti (ung representative niya ang nagpapakita)

      At ang masaklap, may mga involved din sa pork barrel scam (nareregaluhan ng mga SUV’s at malalaking “donations” from corrupt politicians)

      Sana nga, kung ma-iinvolve sila, sa mabubuting bagay na lang. Sana magsalita at pangaralan nila ang mga politoko na magbagong buhay na. At i-excommunicate nila ang masasamang politiko halimbawa. Hindi ung mag-donate lang ng malaki, “pinapatawad” na agad.

      BTW, inamin din kasi ni Cardinal Sin nung buhay pa siya na “Kahit pa galing sa Demonyo and pera, tatanggapin ko…”. Nakakalungkot.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Juan, ano ba talaga ang pinag-uusapan dito? Ang SOS, bagama’t maaring “save our ship” dahil mayroon emerhensiya, ay “state of our state”. Mukhang masyadong “infectious” ang “sisihan”. Sa bagay ganon yata ang training na natanggap niyo sa pamilya: panay sisi at kulang ng “constructive” criticism. Yong talagang wala sa lugar? Yong sisisihin pati ang mga wala na rito sa mundo at hindi na sila maaring makapagsalita para sa sarili. Sisi ang gawain ng mga duwag; sila ay kulang yata sa self-esteem. Lahat ng buhay pa na nasa CBCP ngayon ay mga botante rin tulad niyo. Maging kardinal o maging simpleng simple na parokiyano na maari nang bomoto ay may tungkulin at karapatan maki-alam sa politiko. Ang napakalaking problema ay sobra ang dami ng ayaw maki-alam. Kaya patuloy ang mga kalokohan.