Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Election 14, The Middle Earth of PH Politics, by Doy Romero

The Presidential and local elections in the Philippines are just 10 1/2 months away. Generally it will be a battle between which side of Big Government advocates will prevail. Nonetheless, we can delineate or distinguish them which side will advance Big Government + Big Private Monopolies and Oligopolies, vs. Big Government + Competitive Economy.

I think the old and traditional politicians like VP Binay belong to the former while newbies like Sen. Grace Poe may belong to the later, am not sure.

What about good governance? For me, Big Government = bad governance There is little or no justification why bureaucracies, regulations, permits, taxes, fees, fines, mandatory contributions, etc. should be as many as possible.

In the absence of a political party in this country that advocates limited and small government, free marketers like me can only compromise with candidates or political parties that somehow advocate more economic freedom and less monopolies, oligopolies, which are always created by government via Constitutional restrictions and franchising system.

This article by my former Prof. in a Political Science subject in UP Diliman in the 80s, Dr. Segundo "Doy" Romero, is another sharp analysis and can help guide voters who among the different political parties and factions can advance more economic freedom and who can oppose it. Sir Doy posted this in his fb wall, reposting with his permission.

The Battle for "Middle Earth" Begins
 Dr. Segundo Romero
June 24, 2015

The resignation of Jejomar Binay from the Cabinet of President Aquino is a declaration of war. Now the campaign for the Presidency in 2016 is unofficially open. The battle lines are drawn. Consolidation of forces begin.

The Binay declaration of war is timed to prevent other opposition contenders from prematurely declaring and committing themselves to the fight for the Presidency. If they do, it will take time and a lot of resources before they and their core supporters can be cajoled to give up their presidential ambitions and agree to put themselves behind Binay. That would waste at least six months of preparation for and conduct of war.

Now that Binay is the default leading opposition contender, he can now begin to consolidate the fragmented opposition. He is hopeful despite the polls showing he is steadily losing the people's favor, for he finds himself in fertile opposition ground. PNoy has so changed the political landscape that he has created powerful enemies among the traditional elite and political families. These families, while themselves competitors and rivals for slices of political and economic power, are willing to set that aside at this time, just to bring back the old rules of the game of politics where they perform exceedingly well..

Jejomar Binay is the man for this nostalgic return to the status quo ante, the return to the good old days. There is no doubt He is open to negotiation. He is an astute cobbler of win-win situations with political factions and other parochial tribes. So, he will be busy building the forces of the future Binay empire, selling shares of stock to the following, who must now be eagerly waiting to make deals with him:

Class A: The Core Ex-Presidential families

1. The Macapagal-Arroyo family and loyalists
2. The Estrada family and loyalists
3. The Marcos family and loyalists

Class B: The "Penumbra" Dynasties, such as

4. The Enrile family and loyalists
5. The Bong Revilla family and loyalists

Class C: The Issue advocates, such as

6. The "progressive" groups who have been calling on PNoy to resign
7. The various opponents of the Tuwid na Daan in the government
8. The various opponents of the Tuwid na Daan in the private business sector
9. The passionate advocates or opponents of very specific policies (FOI, BBL, CCT, K-12) who are disaffected

Class D: The Spurned Supporters

10. The various enthusiasts of the Tuwid na Daan who have been variously slighted, rejected, abandoned, and now decry what they claim to be the Baluktot na Daan

Class E Middle Earth

At this early point, there is also a big chunk of the electorate who are unattentive, just observers or hecklers of the passing political scene, who are yet uncommitted, perhaps as much as 60 percent of the electorate. The polls show they are the voters who are lower in socio-economic status and farther from Manila. They are in the middle between the Binay camp and the Poe camp. They are the Middle Earth.

This is a source of hope for Binay. The Binay touch had shown wonders here in the 2010 elections, using local government officials and leaders to transact electoral support the way cobradors of jueteng fan out to the countryside.

Binay's assets are frozen and, under the watchful eye of the public, cannot be renewed or augmented through public coffers as in the past. He needs the subscription of various investors and stakeholders to his campaign.

His promises will be weighty, because Grace Poe, will not be willing to enter into these sweetheart deals, using the Presidential prerogatives as a futures commodity to be traded.

The reason Grace Poe has edged Binay from the presidential preference polls is that she has served as the consolidation point for all those who advocate for continued good governance and rejection of corruption.

The Binay declaration of war simply creates a parallel, symmetric consolidation around two opposite poles -- the experienced but tainted, the inexperienced but principled.

For the first time since the Ferdinand Marcos-Cory Aquino face-off in 1986, we will have another face-off between just two major opponents -- Binay and Grace Poe. .Any other candidate will serve to be a muddler -- serving only to draw votes from any of these two primary contending forces. Mar Roxas and Duterte are in this category.

SWS and Pulse Asia, working independently but validating each other's reading of the people's political pulse, will ensure that no politicians will be blinded with illusory hopes of personal grandeur.

With social media as the new powerful channel of information between candidate and voter, the 2016 elections will be the neatest, sharpest reflection of the people's will in a long, long, time.

It will tell us whether the Filipino people essentially judge on the basis of the "aliwalas ng mukha" factor, or the "lalim ng bulsa" factor.

For the first time since Cory Aquino, the Philippines is poised to have a majority president in 2016. The question is, Binay or Poe? I already have my answer, and it makes me smile.

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