Friday, December 21, 2007

Is Mar Roxas really a reformist? I dont think so.

I’m puzzled by this story going around that cause-oriented types are now warming up to Mar Roxas hoping he will pursue “policy reforms” once he captures the presidency come 2010. As far as I know, Mar has never been associated with any progressive policy agenda. Mar doesn’t seem to have the knack for speaking for or against anything even when time demanded so. We never heard him talking about agrarian reform or agricultural modernization. He never knew him being passionate about human rights and political killings. He was never truly pro-Erap nor was he really anti-Gloria. He doesn’t seem to have clear stand on anything: environment, globalization, foreign debt, gender, deregulation, Doha round of talks, etc. He never spoke against monopolies and oligopolies. Maybe he behaves this way because he is just consistent being pro-Mar Roxas.

If there’s one thing he is associated with, it’s with Corina Sanchez, and the buzz about them simply faded after he won his Senate seat. Now, that he is angling for the Presidency are we going to see him with Corina again? And why does he have to do that? What is he trying to cover for?

Mar says he is Mr Palengke (markets). But he never had any legislative proposal for expanding or freeing Philippine markets. He is probably even anti-market.

Consider this: In 2001, Roxas caved in to the local cement lobby that was then complaining about “injuries” caused by rising cement imports and was forced to slap additional duties (about P20 per bag) on them, thus significantly raising cement prices in the local market and penalizing the local construction industry. In response, the Tariff Commission conducted an investigation and found out that Roxas’s decision was totally baseless, as local manufacturers maintained an 80-percent share of the domestic market. The report also stated that there was no injury to speak of, nor was there any worker losing his job because of the rise of cement imports. The industry, in fact, improved its productivity as a result of the rising foreign competition. But Mar Roxas simply brushed off the Tariff Commission study in order to shelter the cement industry from foreign competition.

Mar, who are you really? Show us the real stuff you are made of.


Taroogs said...

he is merely the current poster boy for the proponents of the "least evil" choice. not the first, won't be the last either :-(

R Panaderos said...

Hi Dave. Thanks for such a great blog. This is my first time to comment though I've been reading your blog for quite a while now.

Anyway, Mar Roxas is a classic fence sitter, pure and simple. You were spot on in your observations because I've observed the same things about him for quite a while now. It does seem to me that he has nothing else on his agenda except to keep Mar Roxas employed in the political arena. The man truly lacks conviction. We are all clueless at this point as to what he stands for. Maybe Ms. Sanchez could help enlighten us.

Anonymous said...

Communicating the Philippine water crisis

I am posting a communication briefing paper on how a senator can generate public support for the water crisis issue. Hope our presidentiables generate ideas from this.

Eero (

Mind Bullet Briefing Paper: Communicating the Philippine Water Crisis as a Defining National Issue for Candidates Running for the 2008 Presidential elections.

I. Rationale

Defining moments are very important in capturing the imagination, hearts , minds of the people to genuinely entrust leadership. Through conscious efforts and expected historical milestones, defining moments can be laid out as a story line leading to a positive perception or conclusion. Defining moments establish how the market (electorate) will perceive and decide what to do with the product (politician). Simply put, defining moments in history will determine the market positioning of candidates running for President in 2008.

All Philippine Presidents in contemporary Philippine history have been defined by the times they were situated in. President Ferdinand Marcos postured his New Society amidst widespread agrarian unrest, proliferation of private armies, the continued stranglehold on the economy of the feudal and industrial oligarchs, opposition to the Vietnam conflict, and the Cold War. President Corazon Aquino was swept into power as the anti-thesis of the Marcos authoritarian rule. President Fidel Ramos was a legitimate hero of the EDSA revolution. President Joseph Estrada became a iconoclast of the poor, on an off the screen, aside from being once a mayor, Senator, and Vice-President. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had EDSA dos as her conjuncture.

For the present batch of Presidentiables, each one will be consciously doing two strategic activities. One is to look presidentiable by taking on issues of national concern even if by way of sound bytes at the very least. The second activity is to be able to latch on an issue which would define character and relevance in history.

Similar patterns are being employed in the run up to the presidential elections in the United States. On a strategic note, Senator Barack Obama has owned the concept of “change” while outlining his political agenda. Senator Hillary Clinton positioned herself as the one with “White House experience to institute change”. However, both of them drum up their candidacies by creating the impression that America is at a historical cross roads of change and all the melodramatic packaging that goes with it.

It is the attempt of this briefing paper to provide a sample market positioning plan to communicate the historical relevance of a candidate through a defining issue. The core message is “meaningful leadership” and the issue is the Philippine water crisis. A marketing mix of community action, policy advocacy, public relations, direct to consumer communications, and engineered events are to be employed.

II. Review of Related Literature

1. The water crisis in the Philippines is directly connected to climate change. It is already a ticking time bomb. As far back as 1998, former President Fidel Ramos has said on many occasions that water will be a flashpoint for conflict. It is both a political and economic issue with catastrophic implications.

2. Alert International is an independent peace-building organization working in over 20 countries and territories around the world. It has included the Philippines in its list of 46 countries facing high risk of armed conflict as a knock on consequence of climate change. It has likewise included the Philippines as one of the countries with serious to extreme exposure to climate change.

3. Expert studies done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) indicate a looming water crisis (, Dec. 2, 2007). Consider the following :

In its publication "Asian Water Development Outlook 2007, the ADB warned that water availability in the Philippines could be "unsatisfactory" in eight of its 19 major river basins and in most major cities before 2025.

The Philippines’ water resources are fast deteriorating with rapid urbanization, with only about 33 percent of river systems still suitable as a supply source and up to 58 percent of groundwater now contaminated, a new Asian Development Bank research shows.

The ability of groundwater—or water held underground or in pores and crevices in rocks—to meet future water demand has been projected to be limited, amounting to only 20 percent of the total water requirement in the country's nine main urban centers by 2025.

Depletion of groundwater resources has been an increasing problem in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, the study pointed out.

"Water quality is poorest in urban areas, the main sources of pollution being untreated discharges of industrial and municipal wastewater," the ADB said.

Although groundwater resources are generally abundant and of adequate quality for domestic purposes, the study states that poor environmental management of extractive resource industries—such as uncontrolled forestry, mining and minerals extraction—has been leading to the pollution of downstream water courses and aquifers.

"The majority of solid waste disposal and landfill sites are poorly operated and maintained, permitting leachate to pollute some water resources," the study stated.

In Manila, for instance, the study noted that less than four percent of the population were connected to the sewer network, with many high-income households constructing their own facilities.

"Flush toilets connected to septic tanks are widely used, and often serve large housing developments. However, sludge treatment and disposal facilities are rare, resulting in indiscriminate disposal of untreated or poorly treated effluent into the Pasig River, one of the world’s most polluted rivers," the study pointed out.

Over-exploitation has been lowering water tables, leading to increasing intrusion of saline (salty solution), it noted.

"The rapid urbanization of the Philippines, with more than 2 million persons being added to the urban population annually, is having a major impact on water resources,“

16 rivers are now considered biologically dead during dry months;

48 percent of water pollutants arise from domestic waste, 37 percent from agricultural waste, and 15 percent from industrial waste;

Solid waste generation in Metro Manila, now estimated at 5,345 tons per day, is expected to double by 2010. But, only 65–75 percent of the waste generated is collected, with only 13 percent of that recycled, and the remainder just thrown anywhere, particularly into creeks, threatening health and increasing flooding;

Some 700 industrial establishments in the Philippines generate about 273,000 tons of hazardous waste annually, but at present there is no integrated treatment facility in the country to deal with it, although there are some 95 small to medium-scale hazardous waste treatment facilities;

Approximately 50,000 tons of hazardous waste are stored on or off-site due to lack of proper treatment and landfill facilities.

The priority sector constraints that the country must address include sector "under-funding" and slow promulgation of environmental legislation, such as the Water Resources Management Act and the creation of a National Environmental Management Authority, the ADB study said.

The study also lamented the insufficient enforcement of existing legislation, and the weak legal and regulatory framework for environmental impact assessments, monitoring and coordination. Data for planning and management are incomplete, according to the study.

Investments over the last two decades have been insufficient. At least P40 billion or at least one percent of GDP (gross domestic product) will be needed to meet development goals," the study said.

4. Political-Economic Analyst Peter Wallace wrote an article on the Water Crisis (Aug. 18, 2006). Specifically he mentioned that:

Based on a survey conducted by the National Statistics Office, only about 80 percent of Filipino households (eight out of 10 families) had access to a supply of clean water in 2002, virtually no improvement from 79 percent in 2000.

And many of those belonging to that 80 percent have to trek quite some way to get water they can drink.

This translates to 17 million Filipinos that use and drink water that could make them sick, and does make them sick.

About one million cases of water-borne illnesses such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis are recorded every year.

In Metro Manila, two million people do not have access to water that is clean and affordable. The most unfortunate part of the story is that these two million are poor.

The World Health Organization cited that deaths due to gastrointestinal diseases in the country have increased from 502 per one million people to 5,151, or 10 times more because people do not have access to clean water.

And when the poor get sick, they have no money, and can’t afford to be treated. So many of these 5,151 people die unnecessarily.

According to Asian Development Bank estimates, the government would need P92 billion just to bring water to an additional 14.3 million Filipinos by 2015.

But the problem is not just in bringing clean water to everybody; it is ensuring that there is enough water for everybody for many years to come.

Levels in the country’s water sources are at their lowest in years.

Since 2002, the water level in Angat Dam, the source of about 76 percent of the water supply in Metro Manila, has fallen to critical levels.

Despite the high average rainfall, the Philippines will have, according to estimates by the United Nations, the second to the lowest per capita freshwater in Asia.

III. Campaign Objectives

To be able to establish a macro-economic and political reform initiative to address the water crisis. If possible a bill will be filed.

To develop a policy environment for the universal access to potable water among Filipinos

To effectively identify, track and address specific locations in the country where conflicts may arise because of disputes over water sources

To provide community based showcases of proper water management initiatives

IV. Campaign Directives

Trigger Activities (Jan. 28 2008 or the first day of congressional sessions)

1. Privilege Speech and proposed bill filed on the water crisis (legislative staff)

2. Publicity of the Privilege Speech (Publicity Staff, MRO, media group)

3. Publicity of popular stories about the water crisis

Example Story lines:

17 million Filipinos will not have safe drinking water for Christmas
189 municipalities still do not have potable drinking water?
RP considered potential high armed conflict area due to effects of climate change
Will the water crisis in Atlanta, Georgia happen to us?

Accelerator Activities (Feb. 1 to March 21, 2008)

1. A video-documentary on the water crisis by Sen. X

2. A national road show of the video in 80 provinces. This will be initially done in the central schools, state universities, and provincial capitols for a total of 240 venues.

3. Initial 10,000 advocacy kits including video, frequently Asked Questions, and Sample Resolutions given to the environmental committee chairpersons of provincial, municipal , and city councils

4. 1 million signatures supporting the water bill (Legislative staff, various cause oriented and civic groups)

5. Sense of Senate, House to support the bill (head count)

End Game Scenarios (March 22, 2008, World Water Day)

End game Minimum

1. Resolution of the League of Provinces (Legislative and political staff)

2. Resolution of League of Municipalities (Legislative and Political staff)

3. Resolution of League of Cities (Legislative and Political Staff)

4. Sense of the Senate and the House to support for bill (Preliminary head count-Legislative and Political staff converted into primary lobby group and supported by other advocacy groups).

5. Pilot projects on community based water management. At least 1 NCR, 1 Luzon, 1 Visayas, 1 Mindanao.

End Game Maximum

1. Privilege speech on World Water Day

2. 80 provincial resolutions supporting the advocacy (Legislative and political staff)

3. One million signatures supporting the water bill formally delivered to Senate (Legislative staff, various cause oriented and civic groups)

4. Sense of the Senate, House (preliminary head count)

5. President signs the bill as urgent

6. Pilot projects on community based water management. At least 1 NCR, 1 Luzon, 1 Visayas, 1 Mindanao.

7. Bill is passed on March 22, 2008, World Water Day (Best Case)

Anonymous said...

Great entry! I've always wondered about Mar Roxas. I had a similar view on him. He doesn't seem like having the potential to steer out country towards change.

If would be awesome if you gave your insight on Manny Villar,