Begin the love-in


In case you were looking for something to show that politics in the Philippines is more about candidates than any actual polis, consider the diabetes-inducing wave of goodwill flowing from magnanimous officials-elect.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has extended an olive branch to defeated United Nationalist Alliance candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri months after Zubiri accused him of being a wife beater. Months after Pimentel called Zubiri a “fake senator”, to wit:

“Zubiri is the face of dagdag-bawas and other insidious and malevolent forms of electoral fraud in this country. He is one good reason why some of our people completely distrust elections and politicians.” (Press statement, March 12, 2013)

He was referring, of course, to the 2007 mid-term elections, when he was cheated out of a Senate seat. Zubiri resigned before Pimentel could be officially proclaimed the proper winner of those elections. Soon after his resignation, Pimentel and Zubiri were on TV holding hands and presumably slapping asses and talking about how they’re actually very good friends.

Until the 2013 elections, anyway.

Senators Loren Legarda and Alan Peter Cayetano have also mended fences just a week or two since Legarda accused a member of the Team Pnoy slate of being behind a black propaganda campaign against her. The objective of the so-called propaganda campaign was not to make her lose the elections, just the Number 1 slot. A slot that senator-elect Grace Poe got.

At their proclamation last Monday, Legarda and Cayetano were all smiles.

Legarda, speaking to reporters after the proclamation, made clear that she never said Cayetano was behind allegations in social and mainstream media that she failed to properly declare a condominium unit in New York on her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.

“I didn’t give any names,” she said.

Even on the local level, rivalries were quickly dropped as soon as a winner was proclaimed. Manila, site of one of the dirtiest, most childish, and most scandalous campaigns in the 2013 elections, was also the site of the quickest kiss-and-make up in history.

Before mayor-elect Joseph Estrada was even officially proclaimed, Estrada and his children had already forgiven Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim for, among other things, bringing up the deposed President’s pesky plunder conviction in 2007.

Lim, for his part, wished Estrada and vice mayor-elect Isko Moreno “all the best.”

Allegations of corruption and crime are suddenly swept under the table and everyone is friends again. “It’s all politics,” they say, and they’re all really just good friends. And that is probably one of the biggest problems of all.


  1. We also take prominence in eixprtong agricultural goods. ***************************************************************That is news to the world-wide agricultural agencies who monitor food production. For decades now, we have lagged even our ASEAN neighbors in agricultural production and exports. We used to be a leader in rice production, once upon a time, culminating with the establishment of IRRI in Los Bac3b1os in 1960. Since then, it’s been a long steep slide for us as an agricultural powerhouse. Students from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Burma would come to the Philippines to learn agriculture in the ’60 s and ’70 s. They applied what they learned here to their home countries, with government and private sector support. These countries have since outgrown us by leaps and bounds, using their agricultural base to establish a rural middle class and increase consumption of industrial and other goods. In rice production, we have not only stagnated since the Marcos years, we have deteriorated. Infrastructure support has been absent and, in ASEAN alone, we trail Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. We produce a mere 1/4 of what Indonesia produces, 1/3 of what Vietnam produces and 1/2 of what Thailand produces. I must grant, however, that we do take a dubious sort of prominence when it comes to rice production. Thanks to Ondoy and other typhoons, we now have the distinction of being THE LARGEST IMPORTER OF RICE IN THE WORLD. So, for what it’s worth, there is some niche where we are a global leader.We used to be a frontrunner in oilseed production. But we never recovered from the disastrous coconut monopoly of the Marcos and Danding Cojuangco era. The rapacious exploitation of the coconut industry in the ’70 s and ’80 s led to disincentives to oilseed production, while Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Thailand, increased their acreage and productivity. We are still a major producer of copra, but we consume quite a large part of it. And, in volume terms, it is such a tiny part of oilseed production. While we produce around 1.5 million tons of coconut oil annually, Indonesia and Malaysia each produce 23 million tons of palm oil and palm kernel oil annually. Each of these ASEAN neighbors make us look like midgets in oilseed production, producing FIFTEEN TIMES more annually than we. How the roles have been reversed in the past few decades!Ironically, despite the damage he did to the Philippine economy, particularly to the coconut industry, Danding has come out smelling like roses. Now he is hailed as a leading captain of industry and political kingmaker. We also know about how the sugar industry was pillaged during the Marcos-Benedicto era. And how greed and the sugar quota killed innovation and productivity. It will take decades to recover from the sins and omissions of the past.Even in orchard fruit production, such as mangoes, durian, rambutan, etc. We have been overtaken by Thailand, Malaysia and India. About the only agricultural commodities we still can claim some prominence to are bananas and pineapples. However, these crops are largely controlled by an oligopoly of multinationals and their local partners. And if we don’t watch it, we will soon find ourselves losing out on those, as well.

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