Monday, April 30, 2012

Pol. Ideology 28: Parliamentarism Hard Sell and Free Market Deception

In my political and economic discourses, I seldom mention personalities, only institutions and policies. Well for doing good work and advocacy of free market, individual freedom philosophy, I mention names as much as possible.

Below, I am posting a major thread in my facebook wall. Rather long but have fun...

Nonoy Oplas  January 26 at 8:58am ·
There's this guy who's starting a political movement, you can blog only if you say good or neutral things about him. If you write something negative about his attitude and he knows you, he will write to you to "take out any reference about me." If he doesn't know the writer or blogger, he will write to someone whom he thinks can influence that writer to "take out and remove any reference about me." How do you call that personality?

Right, this was three moths ago. The quick reply from some friends are: dictatorial, manipulative, fake free marketer, narcissistic, extreme fanaticism, pikon, etc.

A common friend of mine and that guy, Carlos Tapang ( commented and here are our exchanges from January 29-30. I'm sure Carlos won't mind that I post these things here, he's a blogger himself who publishes his personal ideas.

Carlos This is not good and I don't like at all. Reminds me of how Andres Bonifacio was murdered. Why do we have to go against people who share our objectives? We all have our weaknesses, and it is best to discuss those in private. Send me a note and I will call you. I know who this is about, and if your purpose is to improve that person and help his organization, this way of doing it will NOT work. I would rather that we discuss this privately, Nonoy.

Nonoy  Sorry to disappoint you Carlos. I've attacked or criticized Gloria Arroyo, Mar Roxas, Walden Bello, Paul Krugman, Al Gore, the WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam, FDC, etc., but I never received a single email from them saying that I should take out any references about them. If you are trying to be a public figure, like starting a pol movement, you are exposing your ideas to the public. Independent writers and bloggers might comment about you and your ideas, positive or negatively, take it from there. Do NOT write to them to take out references about you, right?

Carlos  Yes, Nonoy. It was two years ago, sitting in a hotel room in Gensan, when I first read an article that highlighted your position against Mar Roxas' affordable medication bill, which was really a form of price control. I was so happy to know that there was, and continues to be, a free marketer in Pinas, that I immediately looked for you in the Internet. I found you and since then I have valued your friendship.

Here's how I look at this situation: Aguinaldo and Bonifacio could have resolved their differences and united strongly against a common enemy.

Here in the U.S., look at Ron Paul. He is a Libertarian, but he is (still) a viable Presidential candidate for the Republican ticket. His chances of winning the nomination is still small, but if he had instead put himself under the Libertarian ticket, his chances would have been zero, and he could not have participated in the national debates. He is a very practical person, and even if he does not win, he is clearly impacting the debate regarding economic freedom, which is really all he is after.

Nonoy Correct. I can count at least 7 different shades of free marketers in this country, about 3 are organized, the rest are still in formation stage or just informal group and fellowships. MG Thinkers is one of those 7 of course. I don't think I need to join all the other 6, it's enough that I consider them as free marketers and hence, allies to a certain extent, but recognize my difference with them on certain aspects. Free market is about diversity and spontaneity, never of uniformity and monotony. That is why I limit my criticism of fellow free marketers but when some of them will sing halleluiah to a BIG govt on certain functions, or for whatever form of govt, that's where I divide the line and say, "hoops, I cannot join you there."

Then in a recent posting by Carlos in his facebook wall about economic liberalization and restrictions to foreign investments. I commented there, mentioned the CORRECT Movement, and debeated with some supporters of that group. Then the leader of that group came in and we have several exchanges. So I went back to this thread and posted, and the exchanges that followed from Saturday (April 28) noon to midnight of Sunday (April 29)

Nonoy  HI guys, I'm referring to Orion Perez and his CORRECT movement. I am having a debate now with him at Carlos Tapang's wall. Follow my comments thread.
Saturday at 12:07pm

Peter Hahaha..what a bozo! Nonoy you should play both sides of whatever topic he posts to confuse the heck out of him! :))

Nonoy  Yeah, I told Orion that his CORRECT movement is a statist movement masquerading as a free market movement. Free marketers are no lovers of BIG govt, whether presidential or parliamentary, whether centralized or decentralized. Free marketers want voluntary exchange, voluntary charity, zero or minimum coercion and taxation by governments, local or national, presidential or parliamentary. Deception, like the man-warming scam, is used by some people to advance their political or even personal agenda.

Winthrop  You know Noy, i was actually thinking of inviting 'Rayon' onto PF back in 01 or 02. :)

Jess  Hi Noy, I had some exchange of thoughts with them awhile back. I left shortly thereafter though as the exchanges degenerated into ad hominems with me at the receiving end. So they are still at it hah...

Winthrop  Jess' reaction highlights the simple fact that any movement isn't going to grow much or get much traction if it's not reasonably tolerant of diverging, even sometimes opposing opinions.

Take O+ for example -- he once invited me to a "cheaper medicine" forum where he was presenting. In the actual event, i got chummy with O+'s "opposition", those lobbying for the price controls. Some might be offended. But no problem for I+, he simply joined-in and the rollicking debate continued off as well as on stage. Pagkatapos ng forum we even went around the campus to pester a few more friends. :) That's the way to do it!

Nonoy Wyn, I thrive on spontaneity, total diversity, total inequality. When I criticize those who think of themselves as infallible like the man-made warming leaders, I later use harsh and really provocative terms like "cowards" and "racketeers and rent-seekers" and still they have one standard response: the sound of silence. In public forum where I don't like the argument of the speakers, normally I am the first person to raise my hand in the Q&A to question and present a really opposing view. People should be on their toes when they assert something.

Jess, you too were victimized by Orion Perez? He thrives on personal emails to influence or pressure someone. I criticize a lot of people like the racketeers, and in the process, I also get criticized, or get blocked -- Greenpeace for instance blocks me from following them on twitter, haha, they remain cowards. To be criticized back is 100% part of being involved in public debates. But when I criticized Orion once in my blog, he sent me a pm to say that I should "totally obliterate/delete your mention of me in your recent blog." Prior to that, he also wrote me several times pressuring me re Froi D. Vincenton "if you could tell Froilan to delete this defamatory lie of his which he published here on this link ASAP and tell him authoritatively that he needs to do this lest he destroy the Free Market Cause in the Philippines."

When you start or join a political movement, expect to be criticized publicly, the way that you can criticize publicly. Never ever pressure people to delete criticisms of you unless these are ad hominems or exhorting to violence.

Eugene I'm still a member of his CoRRECT movement and I have to say that there is some tension between classical libertarians like us and some guys there that has a tendency to be a statist. But I still agree with the agenda of the movement which is to liberalize the economy, decentralize the government and change the system of our government from presidential to parliamentary.

With regards to Orion, indeed he has that authoritative tendency. But not as bad as Ayn Rand's disciple. :)

Nonoy  That's fine Eugene. If you believe in the 3 advocacies of CORRECT -- econ lib, parliamentary, federalism -- then you can stay there. For me, I only believe in econ lib and don't believe in the other two, but neither do I believe in their opposite, the presidential form and centralization. As I repeatedly argue, I just believe in LESS GOVERNMENT. Whether parliamentary or presidential or monarchy form or what have you. Whether heavy intervention and coercion is done by the central govt or local govt.

Check this test: see how many times the term "individual liberty" is mentioned in supposedly free marketer groups like CORRECT. My bet is very seldom or even zero in some of their papers. At the end of the day, that's the real test of a free marketer: How one asserts and reasserts, individual freedom, more personal responsibility.

Eugene . I'm one of the few who is more of a libertarian. I also debated with Orion on some issues but it ended ok. I debated with him on issues like government funding on education and other agencies.

With regards to the parliamentary form of government, I can say that it can be set aside and whether its presidential or parliamentary, libertarianism can only work if the people are culturally geared towards liberty. If people want slavery, politicians would just follow.

The only reason why I agree with parliamentary form of government is because its more sensitive towards change, while the presidential system, especially with our brand of presidential system, libertarianism would never even go to first base because our politics is all about popularity and not about issues. At least in Europe, they openly debate on personal freedom and other issues like climate change, while in the US, all you can see is American Idol, and other liberal shit and nothing (NOTHING) about Ron Paul and liberty. You can never hear about climategate and other important issues in the states, considering that the mainstream media is owned by corporations that have deep connections to government contracts.

That also holds true to countries in Latin America that adopted the American style Presidential system and what you get is populist leaders with dictatorial tendencies. No different from Noynoy Aquino.

With regards to Federalism, I like federalism because it coincides with the libertarian principle of Subsidiary, wherein problems can or must be solved at the smallest political unit as possible. Any other form, like monarchy, dictatorship, communism, socialism, corporatism, fascism, crony capitalism, do not adhere to the principle of subsidiary because the solution is always from the top down, rather than the ground up.

Federalism fits well with libertarian principle because its not centralized. But of course there is a weakness, and the weakness is the people themselves. Just look at the US. They might be federal, but they are more and more centralized and socialized than ever before. From "no one left behind" and Obamacare, everything comes from the top and individual states are becomeing weaker and weaker and that also affects their personal freedom as well.

Nonoy Correction Eugene. The principle of subsidiarity refers to civil society as the smallest and ultimate form of government. Things that can be done by local govt, do not give to national govt -- that's decentralization, devolution, or federalism. Things that can be done by civil society, do not give even to local govt -- that's the principle of subsidiarity. Example: remind people that they should not over-smoke, over-drink, over-eat, over-sit because it's bad for their health. Do we need government for that, local, national or multilateral (WHO, WB, etc)? No. Civil society can perfectly do that -- parents, schools, community leaders, civic groups, church orgs, etc.

That is why the move towards decentralization and federalism can hoodwink and deceive liberty-minded people and free marketers, into supporting government when those things can be done 100% by civil society.
2 hours ago · Like

Eugene  Yes. That is correct. But eventually, people form groups and when groups decide on certain issues that cannot be resolves easily, that is where government comes in like death penalty or prostitution and other not so easy issues, because there are certain issues that cannot be solved by saying " its my business and none of yours"

Even Ron Paul is in favor of State Rights. State Rights is not about civic groups. Its a political group. He does not mind if a state will be ruled by a crazy governor as long as the people has the right to move from one place to the other.

But again, Federalism has its weakness. And the weakness is on the people as well. If people want slavery, that is what they get.

Which reminds me of Milton Friedman when he discussed about England being transformed from a nation of smugglers and law breakers into law abiding people in the 18th century and reverted back to the old ways in the 20th century. He was right that people tend to forget the principles and make them prosperous.

Nonoy  Yes, that's why I do not believe in anarchism, I believe in miniarchism or small/minimal government. And if you will also notice, NOT ONE of the big libertarian groups in the US -- Cato, Atlas, Mises, FEE, Mackinac, etc. -- advocate shift to parliamentary govt to shrink govt. And I also don't see any big European free marketer groups advocating shift from parliamentary to presidential. If I am wrong, correct me on this and point out any of their major publications saying so. These groups do not care about the form of govt. They care about how BIG government steals individual freedom, how big government corrupts personal and parental responsibility, and the erosion of the role of civil society and voluntary organizations.

Eugene  I always remember my dad when he talked about the wealth of a family. I remember when he said that the wealth of a family usually last for 4 generations max. The first generation worked hard and industrious. The second generation, having seen the hardship and struggles of his parents, maintain the wealth or even expands it. The third generation, having no recollection of the struggles of the first generation, wither squander his money or try to maintain its wealth by being a politician of some sort and comes the fourth generation with nothing buy debt and poverty.

Nations also go through that process. Libertarian principles will always find it hard to penetrate on a generation that knows nothing about individual responsibility and hard work. :D

Eugene Cato did some research on the ills of the presidential system and its effects on Latin America. But that paper did not bash the presidential system through and through.

South of the Border, the Cult of the Presidency
You could almost hear a collective groan go up when Barack Obama announced that he planned to deal with his recent setbacks by

The main problem I have with the presidential system is not the system itself, but the offshoots of presidential system the we adopted.

In the US, even though they called themselves a presidential , is not strictly presidential. They have a touch of a parliament. They don't elect their president thought a popular vote. That is why they have these caucuses, primaries and other stuff that is practically alien to us here because ours is a system that elects leaders through a popular vote.

Nevertheless, Libertarianism is a cultural phenomenon, and not a political phenomenon. It could become a political force if the majority of the people would one day wake up and agree with the principles of liberty and personal freedom.

Nonoy  Re Cato document, see, they don't care much about the form of govt.
Re breeds or varieties of presidential form, some classical and modern thinkers emphasize more the rule of law rather the form of govt. Stealing is stealing, killing is killing. Prosecute the criminal, let people know that the law is above everyone, kings and slaves, governors and governed.

Re debt and poverty, libertarianism and related philosophies just point out a simple thing: live within your means, assumre more personal responsibility in running your own life. You don't over-drink and over-smoke or over-eat and when you get sick, the welfare state will take care of you. The on-going debt and fiscal crisis in many European economies, the US catching up quick, is testament to problem of welfarism and abandonment of personal responsibility in favor of more govt responsibility.

Eugene In the Cato document, they do make some remarks that is critical on the presidential system, but not entirely. What Cato failed to mentioned (or realized) is that all other nations that adopted the presidential form of government don't follow the US model, which elect their leaders not through a popular vote. Only the US adopted a system that elect their leaders differently. That is why only the US is the country that is presidential and still politically stable. The rest, just like ours, is always at the edge of a cliff.

Cato also see the defects of a parliamentary form of government. In the parliamentary form, policies are made quick, but if you make a bad know the price....

As the saying goes. "A blessing can also be your curse"

But for me, I can see the libertarianism can grow in Europe. In fact, you can see that there are more Europeans who know Ron Paul than Americans themselves. There are more Europeans and European politicians that agree with the policies of Ron Paul as against the Americans and their politicians.

Heck, I guess Ron Paul might have more fans in the UK and the rest of the globe than in the US.

Then from out of nowhere, Orion Perez Dumdum posted a long comment, probably 50 paragraphs, lots of sarcasm and ad hominem attack against me, like these:

Orion Pérez D. Nonoy Oplas, what will actually work here is if you can refrain from being too MYOPIC in your scope of study and learn to be a bit more "multi-disciplinary" so that you take on a more BIG PICTURE view of how things work.

Firstly, you are totally focused only on the USA. You seem totally unaware of other Free Market Movements and their operations OUTSIDE. Am I right in also assuming that you have little knowledge of Spanish? Well, I do. I'm rather fluent...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

PH Pharmacists 5: PPhA Convention 2012, Day 2

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the 2nd day of the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA) National Convention at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila. I skipped the morning session because I attended the "Online Onsite" program of at the Enterprise Center, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. I spoke in an informal setting, about the conflict with China over Scarborough Shoal, the Spratly Islands, at the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, and the interaksyon guys were tweeting my talk, feeding me questions from twitter and from other guys on the site which I also answered. Here's my presentation there,

Thus, I was not able to listen to the presentations of four good speakers like Dr. Lagrada of PhilHealth, Joey Ochave of UL, John Ware of WPPF, and Ms. Marilyn Tiu of the Board of Pharmacy.

I was not able to leave Makati early, I wanted to hear Dr. Midha's presentation about bioequivalence and related subjects. I came late, poor me. But I was able to hear the presentation by a good friend, John Chang, the President of FAPA, then by Leonie Ocampo.

John talked about the evolving roles of pharmacists: Traditionally from compounder (of drug molecules) to medicine selling/dispensing to counselling + information, to patient care and pharmaceutical care. This is a good evolution of roles. Towards the latter part of his talk, John showed a quote something like "There's no future in (medicine) dispensing, it can be done via the internet, by the machine, or hardly-trained personnel".

There is truth to this. Many pharmacies and drugstores -- especially those owned by the government (Botika ng Barangay or BnB, supported by the DOH), or private non-chain drugstores -- are manned by non-pharmacists, some even have zero formal training in pharmacy. They could be any political appointee by the Barangay or Village Chairman.

So it is possible that many pharmacists are over-educated (mind you, they have to pass a board and licensure exam by the government after hurdling 4 years of college education) if their work will just be limited or focused on drug dispensing and selling.

John also discussed about a debate in some countries where physicians complain or charge that "pharmacists act like physicians", and the reverse of the argument, that "physicians act like pharmacists." It's about the division of labor between the two on drug prescription vs. drug dispensing. John said that there should be complementarity of function between the two because the goal is the same -- patient care. Nice point there, John.

I don't have photo of John and Leonie during the convention, but I have one during the CGDA Conference in Taiwan last November. From left: Nancy Tacandong of FDA, John Chang, Leonie Ocampo, me and Joey Ochave.

The presentation by Leonie was good, lots of good data for the Philippines, like the following:

1. In community pharmacy, about 60 percent of the pharmacy business is controlled by the biggest chain with 800+ outlets nationwide. (That's Mercury, who else -- me)

2. About 40 percent of the business by 5,000+ outlets from different companies.
-- 70 percent of this 40 percent are from five chain pharmacies (That's Rose, Watsons, Med Express, The Generics, who's the 5th? -- me).
-- 30 percent of this 40 percent are from single branch pharmacy operations (The BnBs and Botika ng Bayan or BNB are not included in this 40 percent? -- me). The practice of pharmacy here is mainly dispensing, almost nothing else.

3. Hospital pharmacy constitutes 10 percent of the total pharmacy business. And this is dominated by 10 big hospitals (Makati Med, St. Lukes, Medical City, PGH,...)

Then Leonie discussed some unfavorable practices of the profession:

- Poor implementation of the "no prescription, no dispensing" rule;
- Poor storage of medicines practices,
- Medication counselling is not practiced;
- Sale of medicines unsupervised by trained pharmacists in non-traditional outlets (like those walking house to house carrying medicines in hand bags, selling drugs in public markets, etc. -- me)

She noted that "Pharmacists appear overeducated and underutilized". Thus, there is big role by the PPhA being the main (and only) professional association of Filipino pharmacists. PPhA is the umbrella organization of 10 affiliate organizations and 82 local and provincial chapters.

The various initiatives, projects and networking by PPhA were discussed by Leonie. I won't mention them here, I think her presentation will be made available in their website soon.

In relation to the top killer diseases in the Philippines and worldwide, about 2/3 are from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), medicine and lifestyle counselling will be an important role for pharmacists. What good are the most effective drugs made cheaper via drug price control and coercion policy, or even freely available via government of hospitals and assistance to the poor, if the patient will continue their unhealthy lifestyle like over-drinking, over-smoking, over-eating fatty and salty food, over-sitting and sedentary life?

Identification and monitoring of counterfeit and/or substandard drugs is also an important function for pharmacists. We ordinary folks will not be able to detect such, especially if we go to lesser known or even known for notoriety pharmacies, and worse from non-traditional outlets like "sari-sari" or variety stores, those sold on house to house marketing, etc.

Again, it is refreshing to hear that many of public health problems have private solutions, relying little or zero on politics and politicians. Health is mainly personal and parental + civil society responsibility.

* See also  PH Pharmacists 4: PPhA Convention 2012, Day 1, April 27, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

PH Pharmacists 4: PPhA Convention 2012, Day 1

Upon the invitation of the President of the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA), Ms. Leonila "Leonie" Ocampo, I attended yesterday the afternoon activity, also the formal opening ceremony, of the PPhA National Convention 2012, held at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila. There was a poster and product exhibit in the morning at the conference venue.

I was amazed at the big crowd, more than 2,000 pharmacists from around the country came, the biggest turnout so far. I will post photos later.

Here is the program for the Opening Ceremony.

I was able to see the procession, then heard the opening message of Leonie and the keynote speech of Dr. Kamal Midha, the presentation of plaque, then I left. I will come later today, afternoon session as I have a talk in the morning on the Spratly/Scarborough Shoal, or the dispute in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, depending on which country you are standing on.

The welcome reception yesterday was sponsored by the United Laboratories (Unilab or UL) and its VP, Mr. Chito Sta. Maria, would give the message. UL is a giant pharma company here. Although it is a generic manufacturer, its annual sales is larger than the combined sales of #s 2 to 4, all innovator companies (GSK, Pfizer and #4 Wyeth, I think), it has lots of resources to give food, prizes, entertainment and other perks to the convention participants and organizers.

Dr. Midha's talk focused on rational use of medicines (RUM), the characteristics of medicines that should reach the public, and the importance of bioequivalence testing especially for generic drugs. He used the WHO definition of RUM -- right needs of a patient, right dosage, right time, and at affordable price.

There are six characteristics of medicines for the public, he said: Safe (adverse effect is avoided), Effective, Patient-centered, Timely, Efficient and Equitable. In particular, Quality, Safety, Efficacy and Affordability are all required characteristics.

He also discussed the problem of counterfeit medicines and how the public, with the assistance of pharmacists and other health professionals, can detect and avoid them. He said that Council of Europe has certain guidelines to help along this line, like all medicines should have 13 digits barcode.

Bioequivalence is important -- pharmaceutical equivalence, bioavailabilities after administration of the same molar dose under the same condition would show essentially the same effect as the innovator drugs.

I was actually expecting that Dr. Midha would give a technical presentation, like what are the strict processes required before bioequivalence can be declared or stamped on generic drugs that are newly introduced. Or the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that are related to irrational use of medicines. But nonetheless, his presentation was clear.

I was happy to see again yesterday two friends whom I have met during the Taiwan conference last November, the President of the Federation of Asian Pharmaceutical Associations (FAPA), Mr. John Chang from Malaysia, and FAPA Past President, Dr. Soo Ja Nam from S. Korea. PPhA Past President Normita Leyesa was also there of course.

What I find impressive in the PPhA Convention is the absence of high government officials -- say the DOH Secretary, or WHO Regional Director or Representative, or PhilHealth President -- as speakers, something that is so common in many private sector- or NGO-organized events like this one. Instead, key leaders of the profession, especially the Presidents (and past President) of the three international organizations (FIP, FAPA and WPPF) were given prominent roles to speak in the convention.

This is the way to strengthen and professionalize civil society organizations (CSOs) like the PPhA. To stand on their own, discuss matters among themselves, and rely less on certain political favors that high government officials would give them.

More stories and photos later...

See also:
PH Pharmacists 1: Convention in Naga, April 06, 2011
PH Pharmacists 2: Patient Rights and Responsibilities, April 08, 2011
PH Pharmacists 3: Public Health and PPhA 2012 National Convention, April 16, 2012

Childcare 6: On Vaccine Self-Sufficiency Project (VSSP)

There is a new initiative by the Department of Health (DOH) through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to develop vaccine self-sufficiency project (VSSP). Here is the news report from BWorld:’t-readies-vaccine-PPP&id=49734

Posted on April 10, 2012 11:39:01 PM

Gov’t readies vaccine PPP

A MULTIMILLION-PESO domestic vaccine production project could be one of the next public-private partnership (PPP) deals to be rolled out by the government, officials yesterday said.

The P900-million Vaccine Self-Sufficiency Project (VSSP) Phase II, under the Department of Health, is up for approval today by an interagency committee after having been endorsed by a technical panel last week.
“The vaccine project is part of the agenda of the ICC Cabinet Committee meeting,” said Jonathan Uy, public investment staff director at the National Economic and Development Authority.
This followed approval by a technical panel of the Investment Coordination Committee, which evaluates major national projects and endorses it for final approval by the NEDA Board headed by the president.
PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao said the VSSP involved the establishment of facilities for the formulation, packaging and labeling of the pentavalent -- used for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophylus influenza B; tetanus toxoid; and single dose hepatitis B vaccines.
“Private sector participation will include construction of the facilities, purchase of equipment and operation and maintenance for the next 10 years,” Ms. Canilao toldBusinessWorld.
“The invitation to prequalify to bid may be published in the second quarter, as soon as it is approved [by the NEDA Board],” she added.
In its Web site, the PPP Center said the project, which will be implemented through the Health department’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, is expected to reduce annual vaccine procurement costs by 20-30%.
“[The] government can save approximately P240 million to P360 million out of the P1.2-billion annual purchase cost of the vaccines,” the PPP Center said....

I think this is a good initiative by the DOH. Preventive healthcare via vaccination against common tropical diseases like diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) and hepatitis is a lot more efficient than curative healthcare. I am just wondering what is the exact role of the public sector here via the DOH, via prequalification of possible players?

This thing should better be left to the various private players in a competitive environment with the minimum intervention and bureaucracies from government agencies. What the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should do is to ensure bioequivalence testing of various vaccines that will be introduced in the local market by various players, to ensure that those drugs and vaccines that will be brought in are really safe and effective.

I will read more about this new initiative, but it is something that I can support -- more preventive healthcare, focus on infectious or communicable diseases, pediatric diseases. In order to have more resources for this initiative, the DOH and other government agencies should step back on subsidizing treatment of certain non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which are generally lifestyle-related.

See also:
Childcare 2: Rotary DTP Vaccination, May 24, 2009
Childcare 3: My 2nd daughter, October 04, 2010
Childcare 4: Treatment and Vaccines for Children's Diseases, February 28, 2012
Childcare 5: The 162 to 52 Summit, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cyber Security, Scammers Hacking Our Email Ads

Scammers and thieves hack people's email address, then they invade the contact list and send a blast email saying that they are in Nigeria or London or elsewhere on a sudden foreign trip, then they got robbed, they need money, etc. It's a common scam, I've received dozens upon dozens of such emails from friends and my friends would later say, "I did not even leave Manila on those days".

Today, a scammer has hijacked the email add of my friend, the past President of the World Association for Soil and Water Conservation (WASWC), Dr. Samran Sombatpanit. See the email exchanges below.

From: Samran Sombatpanit <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:12 PM
Subject: Terrible Trip


I really hope you get this on time. I didn't tell you about my travel to Spain for an 

urgent research program, but unfortunately i was robbed at the hotel where i 
lodged along with other people in the hotel. I didn't bring my phone here and the 
hotel telephone lines were disconnected during the incident. 
So we apparently have access to only emails, very awful I must say. 
Please I'm going to need some sort of loan from you for me to relocate to 
another hotel close to the embassy and also get myself another flight ticket. 
Those thieves made away with my credit cards as well which is why this can't be 
resolved instantly. As soon as i get home I would refund the money. 
The Embassy and Police have failed to be effective in this matter, besides paper work 
would cost us days I can't afford. I'll let you have the details you'll need in sending 
money through Western Union if you can help. 
Thank God i still have my passports, so I'm waiting for your mail.


Dr Samran Sombatpanit / Song ShanLang  
Advisor & Membership Coordinator, WASWAC & Adjunct Professor, Guangdong Institute 
of Eco-Environmental and Soil Sciences (GIEESS), Guangzhou, China
67/141 Amonphant 9, Sena 1, Bangkok 10230, THAILAND 
Phone: +66-25807354, 66-25607341,;

From: Noysky Oplasky <>
To: "" <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 10:22 AM
Subject: Re: Terrible Trip

Hi Doc Samran,

Is this you writing or your email was hacked by some thieves?
This is a typical story, that a person was robbed somewhere in Africa, Europe, etc. and he needs money and whoever replies will be given the bank account of the thieves.

Am sure you are ok, best regards.


From: Samran Sombatpanit <>
To: Noysky Oplasky <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:24 PM
Subject: Re: Terrible Trip

Dear Nonoy,

Thanks a lot for your response to my present ordeal, its a devastating condition which 
i found my self.I left for Spain to attend an urgent Program before this unpleasant 
 incident happened.I have loosed everything on me,all i need now is little cash to settle 
my hotel bill and get a flight back home. Please,kindly help me out of here, I promise 
to reimburse the money back to you immediately i get back. 
This is really urgent as it as kept me in a devastating condition.

From: Noysky Oplasky <>
To: Samran Sombatpanit <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:38 PM
Subject: Re: Terrible Trip

Dear Samran,

If it's you really writing this, please answer these questions.

1. What's my full name, my wife's name?
2. When did you host me in Bkk? How many days?
3. Who else did you host when we were there?

Thank you.

Samran Sombatpanit <>
To: Noysky Oplasky <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:56 PM
Subject: Re: Terrible Trip

Dear Nonoy,

Thanks for been cautious. I'm really freaked out at the moment and i need an urgent 
help from you. Your name is Nonoy Oplas and your wife is Ella Oplas.

From: Noysky Oplasky <>
To: Samran Sombatpanit <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 6:08 PM
Subject: Re: Terrible Trip

Thanks for answering questions no. 1 (but not really correct).
how about questions no. 2 and 3?

Your English is also not so good, Doc Samran's English is perfect.
Try again, answer questions 2 and 3.


From: Samran Sombatpanit <>
To: Noysky Oplasky <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 6:11 PM
Subject: Re: Terrible Trip

Nonoy- help if you really want to.

I did reply to his last email. The scammer is probably desperate. 

So guys, don't believe these scams when you receive similar emails from some friends. Secure also your passwords, get strong ones that are hard to guess or hack. 

Oopps, I have not changed my password for a long time now, time to do so...

RUM 4: Dealing with Drug-Resistant Diseases

Cases of illness that are drug-resistant are a growing problem worldwide. That's because diseases -- like people, animals, insects, bacteria, plants, trees, all other living matter and organisms -- are evolving and mutating. The appearance of "superbugs" or the killer diseases that do not respond even to the strongest medicines was also noted by some sectors recently.

Do we need more government presence -- via the WHO, other foreign aid, DOH, local governments, other government agencies -- in dealing with this problem?

I have an ambivalent position on this issue. That's because I recognize that there is room for government assistance and intervention in dealing with infectious and communicable diseases, as well as pediatric diseases. But I also insist that better personal care, more personal responsibility in preventing the spread of those infectious diseases -- like washing hands more often, covering the mouth when coughing, eating healthy diet, drinking lots of water, having sufficient rest and sleep, observing rational use of medicines (RUM),  etc. -- is also important.

I am posting four articles by Reiner Gloor, the Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP, about this subject. These papers were posted in his weekly column in BusinessWorld ( on days indicator. He is more knowledgeable about this subject than me because they know what are those old and new or emerging diseases, as well as the existing supply of medicines, both innovator and generics, in dealing with this problem. These four papers are:

1. The fight vs. drug-resistant diseases, March 23, 2012
2. Appreciating antibiotics, April 15, 2011
3. Global action vs. AMR, April 08, 2011
4. World Health Day and drug resistance, April 01, 2011.

A bit long, enjoy reading.

(1) The fight vs drug-resistant diseases

Reiner W. Gloor
March 23, 2012

Often driven by economics and politics, humans have always been on the move. The International Organization for Migration reported that there were about 214 million global migrants in 2010 and their number could reach 405 million by year 2050.

But aside from people, drug-resistant pathogens are also constantly on the move. In her address at the conference on combating anti-microbial resistance (AMR): time for action in Copenhagen last week, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan reminded us that these pathogens are “notorious globe-trotters”.

The WHO chief said that drug-resistant microorganisms travel well in infected air passengers and through global trade in food.

And instead of providing cure for patients, some hospitals have also become hotbeds for highly resistant pathogens. Chan noted that the growth of medical tourism has expedited the international spread of hospital-acquired infections that are frequently resistant to multiple drugs.

Apart from increased mortality and substantial financial burden, AMR has consequences far beyond the patient, their families and the health sector. AMR can also leave a damaging aftermath on international travel and trade resulting from the cross-border spread of drug-resistant infections.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Inequality 11: Banks, Filipino Savings and the BSP

(Note: this is my article today in the online magazine,

Majority of Filipinos, especially those in rural areas, would rather put their savings in kind than in cash. They invest in farm animals, tricycles, tractors, house and lot, but not in formal financial institutions like bank savings, life insurance and the stockmarket. Certain banking regulations and bureaucracies have something to do with it.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)’s first Consumer Finance Survey (CFS) was released yesterday, Filipino households ‘unbanked’ -- BSP. Among the findings were:

1. Only two out of ten families maintain deposit accounts;
2. In Metro Manila, less than 1 percent had investments in stocks, mutual funds, fixed income securities. Outside the region, the percentage is negligible.
3. Only four percent of households have credit cards.

In the same news report, BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. made this proposal,

“Bottom line, people should be saving if they can. And saving in banks is a better option for an individual than keeping money under the mattress,” he said.
“Money saved in banks also help the economy when these are recycled through loans to productive activities.”

I think Mr. Espenilla and other central bank officials do not understand the savings and investment preferences of many Filipinos. Here are some factors why I say so, and why many Filipinos are not enthusiastic in putting their savings in the banks.

One, the “five-six” (one borrows P5 and pay P6 at the end of the month, or an interest rate of 20 percent per month, really high) and other informal lenders are more adventurous, more borrower-friendly than banks. The poor stall owners (tinderos and tinderas) in public markets would borrow at high interest rate with these informal lenders as these” guys go to the tinderos in their tindahan and stalls, the banks do not. The banks want the tinderas to leave their stalls and go to them.

Two, the informal lenders do not rely much on paper work, no credit application form to submit, no collaterals required, they rely more on word-of-mouth information about the new borrowers, while the banks require all forms of paper work + pictures + IDs issued by the government+ collateral papers + a co-borrower name and signatures + other requirements.

Three, the informal lenders are anywhere, even in far-flung barangays and sitios, they may even be neighbors of the borrowers in the barrios, while banks are located in the city or municipal center.

And four, the “five-six” guys bear the risk of being held up by gangs and street criminals while doing the rounds as they collect daily, not monthly, endure the heat and rain, dust and pollution, while the bankers are in air-conditioned rooms, protected against dust/pollution/heat.

In short, the informal lenders endure high risks, high administrative costs for high returns, while the banks want low risk, low administrative costs but high returns.

The poor’s savings and investments are usually not in cash or in piggy bank, but in kind: cows, pigs, goats or other farm animals, a tricycle, a tractor, a rice thresher. There is probably higher liquidity here compared to bank deposits. If an emergency arises in the family, they can sell those farm animals any day as meat buyers are looking around seven days a week. Banks are close two days a week so if an emergency arises on a weekend or a holiday, people cannot get their money.

Interest income from bank savings is also very low, usually two to four percent per year, then the government will remove 20 percent of whatever small interest revenue as a withholding tax.

The BSP or the central planners of monetary policy, money printing and bank regulations, they are busy issuing regulations left and right to the banks, penalizing and even closing those who cannot deal with the regulations like minimum capitalization.

One thing going against the BSP as a political institution, is that it can be headed by political appointees with little or zero background in banking, usually former Cabinet Secretaries of the outgoing administration. For instance, among the Monetary Board members are former Secretaries Toting Bunye and Peter Favila of the previous Gloria Arroyo administration.

From now up to early 2016, many key supporters of the current PNoy Aquino administration, especially Cabinet Secretaries ending their term by mid-2016, will be lining up to become "board members" of the BSP even if they have little or zero background in banking and monetary policy. Huge pay, giant perks, zero risk of bankruptcy, what else can one ask for.

So with these risk averse but highly paid monetary bureaucrats issuing new regulations to banks and other financial institutions, one can see a disconnect in their worldview with the players on the ground. It is good that the five-six guys and other informal lenders are outside the powers of the BSP. Otherwise, those motorcycle-riding lenders will be riding ADB-funded e-trikes,

See also:
Inequality 1: Rich Getting Richer is Good, August 29, 2009
Inequality 2: To Each According to his Needs... September 01, 2010
Inequality 3: Freedom, Free Market and Inequality, February 14, 2011
Inequality 4: Why Inequality is Good, May 10, 2011
Inequality 8: On Sustainable Inclusive Growth, June 23, 2011
Inequality 9: CMFR Forum on Inclusive Growth, September 22, 2011
Inequality 10: On Urban Congestion, January 05, 2011

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fat-Free Econ 7: Why We Need Nuclear Power Plants

(This is my article today in TV5's news portal,

To have no electricity for whatever reason – failure in power generation, transmission and distribution – is terrible. Thus, various sources of electricity, renewable or otherwise, fossil fuel or otherwise, should be explored.

Last week, a "Power Summit" in Davao highlighted the supply constraints in Mindanao. Among the alternative power sources that were proposed by some sectors was nuclear energy.

Many of the sources of public fear about nuclear power are more fiction than reality. These include: (1) nuclear power is highly dangerous to human lives, resulting in thousands of deaths in case of a meltdown; and (2) many countries around the world shun nuclear power because of the high risks involved.

On the first fear, nuclear power actually has the least casualties compared with all other energy sources. Death or contamination from nuclear plants is lower than death from road accidents or from smoking-reIated diseases.

The worst accident was in Chernobyl, Russia in 1986. After that, no major nuclear accident occurred. Even the Three Mile Island accident in the US produced zero casualties. The Fukushima accident last year after the huge earthquake-tsunami in Japan resulted in very few, if any, casualties.

The second fear has no basis. Asia’s biggest economies - China, Japan, India and South Korea have nuclear power reactors. As of April 2012, the number of reactors operable, reactors under construction, planned reactors, and proposed reactors of these countries are 15, 26, 51 and 129, respectively, for China; 2, 7, 16 and 40 for India; 51, 2, 10 and 5 for Japan; and 23, 3, 6, and 0 for South Korea.

Our neighbors Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have two or more proposed reactors and would have these ready soon. And this could be a shocker for some people: petroleum giant Saudi Arabia is proposing 16 nuclear reactors.

One fear about reviving nuclear power in the Philippines is securing those reactors from terrorists. But should a nuclear plant be built in Mindanao, it should be in relatively safer places like Davao or Misamis Oriental, obviously not Basilan, Cotabato or Sulu. I also think that it is standard operating procedure that the walls of any nuclear reactor are super-strong. Not even bazooka or tank shells can penetrate them.

We need to explore more power sources, especially those that do not need taxpayers’ subsidies to make them affordable. Let more power plants from more companies come in and let the players compete with each other in producing stable, more affordable electricity.

Meanwhile, here are the two tables that were not accommodated in the article due to space constraints:

Table 2. Nuclear Reactors as of April 2012, Selected Countries

source: World Nuclear Association,

See also:
Fat-Free Econ 1: Macroeconomics for Micro Concerns, March 08, 2012
Fat-Free Econ 3: Mining and Environmentalism, March 15, 2012
Fat-Free Econ 4: Unemployment, Good and Bad News, March 22, 2012
Fat-Free Econ 5: Property Rights and Policy Lefts, April 04, 2012
Fat-Free Econ 6: Foreign Aid and Tricycles, April 14, 2012

IPR Abolition 14: Mises Group and Anti-IPR Propaganda

This morning, two friends posted in their facebook wall an article from, lambasting intellectual property rights (IPR), as usual.

The paper was written by no less than the President of the Mises Institute, Doug French.

Below is the wall posting from "I bet Ludwig von Mises...". I posted contrary opinions and here are our exchanges.

    What were once great companies furiously innovating to generate returns have become rent seekers collecting war chests of state privilege to compete in the court room rather than in the marketplace. While government force may keep companies like AOL alive, consumers will surely be worse off and ulti...

  • Nonoy Oplas Not all people, not all laptops, not all ideas, are the same. Mediocre ideas they abound, they don't need protection. Bright ideas are scarce, they need protection,

    4 hours ago ·  · 
  • Galen Nonoy, ideas are not property.
    3 hours ago ·  ·  1
  • I bet Ludwig von Mises can get more fans than John Maynard Keynes Nonoy Oplas, I don't agree that ideas need government protection.
    3 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas You did not read the article I posted. I said private entities like an industry association can protect bright ideas. Mediocre and idiotic ideas, never mind, they don't need protection.
    3 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas Galen, when The Beatles composed "Hey Jude" or "Let it be", it is not their property? If so, whose property are those songs? Anyone can record those songs, do concerts, and brag that they composed those songs?
    3 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas ‎"Enforcement of private property rights need not come from the government. Banks, shops, malls, residential villages, have their own private security agencies that enforce their rules against stealing and other criminal acts. They do not need the state police or barangay tanod to do that. Private enforcement of private property right is possible and is happening, including private enforcement of IPR via industry associations."

    3 hours ago · 
  • I bet Ludwig von Mises can get more fans than John Maynard Keynes Nonoy Oplas We both agree that property rights should be enforced without a state monopoly, but it's important to have a discussion on what property rights are. If I own something, I can trade it for something else. If I own two things, I can mix them with each other and own the product. If I draw an image, any image, on a piece of paper and sell it, it is my right, copyright be damned.
    2 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas It is up to you to apply for copyright of your own drawing or not. Some artists compose songs and they don't care about copyright. I compose a blog post and I don't care about copyright for each article. But some people want copyright and protection of such rights, so why prohibit them? If some people are happy sharing their own invention to others for free, then fine. If others want their invention to be properly recognized and protected, so be it. What's wrong? Why the endless tirade against IPR?
    13 minutes ago · 

And my friend Jules Calagui, also posted the same article. Here are our exchanges.

Nonoy Oplas Jules, not all people, not all dogs, not all ideas, are the same. Mediocre ideas are everywhere, they don't need protection. Bright ideas are scarce, they need protection,
4 hours ago ·  ·  1 · 

  • Jules Calagui He,he, you finally commented...I think Im a fence sitter when it comes to Patents. I see the merits of both argument, that is rewarding bright ideas/pioneering work as well the long term monopoly that is granted to them. Could there be a middle ground? A short term patent perhaps - say 5 years?
    3 hours ago · 
  • Joeb  Bright ideas should be shared. An innovative business model should be developed around the idea instead. If friendster or myspace had a patent over social networking software then there would be no facebook.
    3 hours ago ·  ·  1
  • Jules Calagui Joeb Bert, and Linux.
    3 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas Jules, Joeb, you obviously did not read the article that I posted. I read that Mises article. I wrote there that if The Beatles did not have copyright on "Hey Jude", if U2 did not have copyright on "Wtih or without you", etc., then local rock bands EHeads, Parokya, etc. will simply record and copy those songs, do concerts, make money, with not a single effort at composing original songs. But because of exclusivity, they cannot record those songs for free, so they invented their own songs, they became successful, they made money doing original and copyrighted compositions.

    3 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas Joeb, a social networking cannot be patented. A dance step, a clowning style, a partial calculus formula, cannot be patented, so where's the basis for opposition? The patent is on the inventive step. FB tech is totally different from friendster's or myspace. I've had accounts in both before, but I left them because fb's technology is different, more user friendly.
    3 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas ‎"Enforcement of private property rights need not come from the government. Banks, shops, malls, residential villages, have their own private security agencies that enforce their rules against stealing and other criminal acts. They do not need the state police or barangay tanod to do that. Private enforcement of private property right is possible and is happening, including private enforcement of IPR via industry associations."

    3 hours ago ·  ·  1
  • Jules Calagui Patents, Copyrights and Trademark cannot be lump similarly just like your argument about Beatle's copyright over their songs...The point I raise was about Patents. Specifically, what justifies a longterm monopoly over an invention? Isnt 5 years enough to reward an inventor? Reward the inventor - yes! And fire him up even more to create even better ideas by making the patent short. If you read the Mises Article, what is deplorable also is once an invention is patented, the inventor can also just 'sit on' without even getting it out of the market. 5 years - grant the patent, get it out of the market.

    3 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas I think the length of patent, copyright and trademark (they have diff. life terms) is another debate. One can argue 25 yrs, another will argue 5 years, etc. The bigger debate that the Mises group endlessly argue is that IPR should be abolished, whether patent life is 50 yrs or 1 year, there should be no IPR. That to me is an infantile argument.
    3 hours ago · 
  • Jules Calagui My point was about Utility Patents - " patents issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof." Their life term is 20 years. Shortening it to 5 years forces the inventor to get it out of the market.
    2 hours ago · 

  • Nonoy Oplas I don't know the process of getting a patent in producing a new machine, etc. I am familiar with getting a patent in a new drug molecule. Out of the 20 years patent life of one molecule, about 8-12 years of it are for various clinical trials (4 phases) the drug is still not in pharmacies and drugstores. The commercial period left is only 9-12 years out of the 20 yrs patent. This is closer to your proposal of only 5 years patent life.

    21 minutes ago · 

Meanwhile, here are portions of Mr. French's article:

But studies have not shown any net gain from patent-law-induced innovation. Kinsella suggests,
Perhaps there would even be more innovation if there were no patent laws; maybe more money for research and development (R&D) would be available if it were not being spent on patents and lawsuits. It is possible that companies would have an even greater incentive to innovate if they could not rely on a near twenty-year monopoly.
Instead of spurring innovation, IP appears to be a rat's nest of litigation. For example, Google's chief legal officer, David C. Drummond, estimates that a modern smartphone might be susceptible to as many as 250,000 potential patent claims.

This quote, "studies have not shown any net gain from patent-law-induced innovation." Really? Then we are not experiencing piecemeal, marginal changes and improvements in technology? Current brand of cell phones and TV are almost the same as the cell phones and TV 5 or 10 years ago?

The statement by Kinsella is more wild guess than statement of facts. Why? One can go to N. Korea or Zimbabwe or Somalia, I think they have no patent laws there, no copyright and trademark laws. Are there more innovations, more money for R&D there, compared to the US, Europe, Japan, S. Korea where there are lawsuits and patent wars?

The third paragraph, I think it's not only in IPR and innovation that there are plenty of lawsuits and litigations in America. In corporate mergers, corporate in-fighting, healthcare, etc., there are plenty of litigations too. The series of diagnostic tests required by physicians before they will diagnose their patients and prescribe certain medications -- which make healthcare and treatment very expensive in the US -- is a result of frequent lawsuits and physicians paying huge amount of legal insurance to protect them from potential lawsuits by their patients in the future citing "medical malpractice".

There could be additional exchanges later today, I will update this posting later when those counter-arguments will be posted..
See also:
On IPR Abolition 6: Blog Ownership and Drug Molecules, May 16, 2011
On IPR Abolition 7: Ideas Cannot be Owned?, May 18, 2011
On IPR Abolition 8: Data Exclusivity in the Proposed EU-Philippines FTA, June 06, 2011
On IPR Abolition 9: Seed Patent and Explosion of Seed Varieties, June 14, 2011
On IPR Abolition 10: Debate with Mises Blog IPR Abolitionists, June 14, 2011
On IPR Abolition 11: Trademark and Brands, September 05, 2011
On IPR Abolition 12: Patent, Mini-Monopolies and Trademark, September 20, 2011