Prof. Erle Frayne D. Argonza
University of the Philippines
Good day from Manila! Magandang hapon!
I just intercepted a note that has been circulating via the email circuits, which echoes the endorsement by certain economists of moralistic leadership standards and the presidency of Noynoy Aquino. Let me share some notes about those economists, which I hope will induce some reflections on the readers and would-be voters.
You see, I felt the itch to burst with guffaws at the economist endorsers, but had to restrain myself as I was surfing inside a commercial cyber-shop. The immediate scorn and ridicule I felt for the economists who endorsed Noynoy was their nauseating projection of (a) independence of mind and (b) moral purity.
I could say this matter-of-factly, that those economist endorsers, led by Prof. Paderanga of the UP Diliman’s School of Economics (UPSE), is a coterie of intellectual prostitutes who are so at home with receiving fat consultancy & analysts’ pay in exchange for enriching the purses of corporate carpetbaggers. Their independence is paid independence; their moral purity, delusional hogwash.
Those same economists have made no qualms in implementing the dictated policies of the IMF-World Bank that widened social inequalities and led to ballooned the poverty levels in the past, to note: (a) liberalization, (b) privatization, (c) deregulation, (d) tax reforms, (e) reduced budget for social services, (f) wage freeze (both private & public employees), (g) devaluation of the peso, and (g) increased prices of utilities.
Save for the NGO carpetbaggers (e.g. Men Sta. Ana & company who make money via fat funds flowing to their moderate Left NGOs), the Paderanga-led endorsers naturally sit in corporate boards as ‘independent directors’ (I feel like vomiting!). Well, since the energy & other sectors were deregulated, big biz players such as Mirant et al, came in and, believe it or not, appointed one to three of the so-called ‘independent directors’ –who now appear in the pro-Noynoy list of endorsers—to the corporate board of the former.
In the case of Sta. Ana & company (including social workers from the ‘soc-dems’ or non-Marxist social democrats), the carpetbag venues are those NGO coalitions where fat “juices” from debt swaps have been funneled in the past. There was the Peace Bonds racket, to recall, which initially amounted to a billion 1st tranche, guaranteed by the Finance Department, hence making many involved experts blissfully happy from the 1990s to the present.
If you think Gov. Salceda is truly (a) independent-thinking and (b) morally pure, better review the facts. Salceda is implementing couples of Big Projects in his Albay backyard, thanks to his close affiliation with the incumbent president, worth P10 Billion more or less. He is a MASTER OF KABUSUGAN, as laymen would put it, and his greed has been moving up in exponential fashion. Besides, he was a most fatly paid marketing economist for the corporate world before he joined the GMA regime.
Inside the academe, the likes of Paderanga, Taguiwalo, and other professors, have hardly been known for doing research projects as a ‘labor of love’ thing. Being well connected to corporate and ODA paymasters, their researches and publications are deeply tainted with the vested interests of their financiers. [ODA= Official Development Assistance]
Having established their niches in their big-paying clientele—Big Business, Big Foundations, Big Banks, Big NGO networks, Global Development Agencies—it is but natural that those same morally puritanical economists put their foot forward in the Noynoy Team (they used their connections to leverage their getting into the team) and practically dictated the TOR (terms of reference). They were to join the Purissima faction of experts who were then with GMA, but who bolted away as early as 2005 yet.
Coming from different factions of experts, I could just surmise the great difficulty in getting them to draft the agenda of Noynoy Aquino who was catapulted to a presidential timber by sheer historical accidence. Surely enough, words reached my ears that the factions couldn’t see each other eye-to-eye, a truistic situation that bogged down the drafting of the agenda in late Sept to October of 2009.
The Paderanga faction was assigned the broad economic & development agenda, Taguiwalo faction the fiscal agenda, Purissima faction the budget agenda, Sta Ana & ‘progressive’ faction the social agenda, and so on. Pressed by time constraints to churn out an agenda, the highly paid Noynoy consultants did miraculously produce one that was the accompanying document submitted to the COMELEC attached to the certification registration of Noynoy Aquino.
Upon reviewing the Noynoy agenda of governance that was published in the major dailies, I was so aghast at the rather sub-standard quality of the content. It was a mere hodge-podge of motherhood statements, spiced up by cut & paste items lifted directly from the Philippine Constitution. Honestly, that draft agenda can be prepared by mere undergraduate students in the University of the Philippines, given a 1-day workshop time frame, while it took the economists two (2) months to accomplish it!
In contrast to those prostituted intellectuals and Masters of Kabusugan, we academics and think-tank consultants who support the likes of Villar (others support Gordon, Bro. Eddie,…) have openly endorsed our choice candidate on the basis of our advocacies. This expert is not being paid for my analytical writings, interviews, and forum talks supportive of the nationalists (Villar, NP…). And there are just too many of us nationalist and grassroots-working intellectuals who are contributing our share of the campaign through pro bono service.
To share an anecdote: A co-partner of mine in the consulting & academic world, Dr. Cesar Mercado (he heads an international think-tank, was former UN official, and is globally known), was offered by a graduate student of the UP SOLAIR a participation in the drafting of the Noynoy agenda. Dr. Mercado outrightly declined the offer, and he need not bother to call me up for the fat-paying consulting work in the Noynoy camp. He simply replied that he was busy.
That was how desperate the Noynoy Team was for a draft agenda, for Noynoy just didn’t possess the competence to draft one. In contrast, the other presidential candidates (Villar, Bro. Eddie, Nicki Perlas, Gordon…) already possessed analytical and practical frames that they developed throughout their careers, and so the role of consultants if ever was merely to critique, edit, incorporate methodology of implementation, and polish. The latter candidates don’t need to hire a huge coterie of experts like Noynoy and Erap did, but utilize merely 2-3 consults at the most.
Not being personally known to Villar, the likes of me and hundreds of experts (adaceme & think-tanks) have been expressing opinions based on our long-standing policy frameworks, advocacies, and ‘best practices’. We need not come together to release a public manifesto in the broadsheets, which will require at least P1.5 million for five half-paged pronouncements in five (5) dailies. We don’t have the funds to do so! So we campaign in the micro-niches, based on the personal resources within our means.
Lastly, hardly had Noynoy began campaigning, and those prostituted minds were already clawing on each other like competing crabs, as per reports reaching my attention. They will likewise claw on each other in grabbing juicy government sub-sectors and agency posts in case Noynoy wins, and will be stabbing each other to get the boss’ attention if ever they sit in power.
Let me toss the capsule query: are such intellectuals indeed independent-minded and morally pure? Are they worth leading the institutions of state for the sake of ‘walang korupsyon’ and/or good governance? Will a president Noynoy be on top of them, or will they be on top of puppet Noynoy?
[20 September 2010. Prof. Argonza is a political economist, sociologist, university professor, development consultant, self-development guru. See: UNLADTAU: http://unladtau.wordpress.com, IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogger.com.]