Obama’s initiative impacts PH elections

By Frank Wenceslao

IN HIS State of the Union Address, President Obama said one of his top priorities in his last year in office is to reform the federal criminal justice system (CJS in short). Evidently, dispensation of justice in the federal government has slowed down and has become unsatisfactory that impacts the state and local governments’ judiciary to falter the American people weren’t used to in the past.

Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan happened to think of the need for the same reform measure that Pamusa’s advisers agree can be expedited by the interface of international cooperation agreements against corruption (ICAACs) especially the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) with U.S. laws against corruption and financial crimes.

As the saying goes, “Necessity is the father of invention.” The rapidly deteriorating Philippine economic situation caused by unabated corruption consigning millions of Filipinos in deeper poverty can be stopped at the same time fast-track economic growth, establish business environment to attract more foreign investments, expand productive activities, and create the number of jobs to conform to population growth.

Unless a candidate for President, Vice President or the Senate can visualize and explain to economists and knowledgeable media professionals how he or she would frame policies to stimulate economic forces that will result in a resource-mix to induce an orderly forward movement and result in increasing the PHL’s GDP, say, at an average of 10% growth annually like the Asian “dragon economies” in the 1970s and thus overtake poverty, none of the current candidates is qualified to run for the office each aspires for.

With Jojo Binay’s clouded experience as a lawyer and Makati mayor; Grace Poe’s office work in the U.S. and mere 3-year Senate membership; or Duterte’s experience as Davao City mayor and barroom brawler doesn’t qualify any of them to be President unless the voters want our nation to continue a suicidal plunge into becoming like the poorest African nation among Asia’s emerging economies. Just watching an NBA basketball game to see the spectacular plays of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant doesn’t make any of the said candidates an MJ or Kobe and I could hear again the late Louie Beltran castigating them,
“Nakita lang si MJ at Kobe, akala nila mahusay na rin silang mag-basketball, ano sila sinuswerte?”

Pamusa’s Filipino American advisers who’ve attained their American Dream are driven to dig deeper into U.S. think-tanks’ researches and studies on corruption. They’ve concluded that any poor country like the PHL led by determined, experienced and proactive in nation’s problem-solving, and no-nonsense leadership such as Singapore’s late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew would eradicate corruption or render it virtually nonexistent in order not impede self-sustaining national development.

Lee’s success in fighting corruption is now known to all who studied it, or wish to replicate it in our country by examples with the least publicity and breast-beating. In a story about a Lee’s example, he called some business big-shots to secret meetings to ask for their cooperation for Singapore to survive after it seceded from the Malaysian Federation and went on alone. Lee assured the businessmen they can continue doing business they have assuring them no government interference. He asked them to bring back to Singapore their money hidden abroad and, if invested in business projects they choose, or bring in any amount of foreign investment by partnering with any number of foreign investors even if they will make similar products that will compete with existing local companies, they will be helped with incentives to develop export markets to avoid competing for the same market share, or they could either look for partners to help them develop export markets and only use the local market to test the viability of their products overseas.

Foreign investors from different countries came in with billions of dollars of investable capital that didn’t care if their products are already made in Singapore because its incentives and level playing field for a foreign company are better than at home. Each foreign investor is free to venture into any manufacturing knowing the worst possible competition they might confront at start-up is their own products exported from their home countries. Hence, they rely more on their experience in exporting their products plus the experience they’ve gained through the years which is an effective barrier against new start-ups.

For example, foreign companies that decide to go into manufacturing in Singapore knows of the long established competitors they will face with their own export products from home. They don’t care if, for instance, they compete with companies such as those run in the PHL by Henry Sy, John Gokongwei, Jr., Lucio Tan, Concepcion Bros., etc. whose products they will compete with they know are made by companies that have become “fat and lazy” because of government protection. Worse, instead of reinvesting their profits to install advanced technology and improve manufacturing efficiencies, the PHL competitors are hurting themselves by diverting big profits to unallied sectors their companies cannot help when threatened with foreign competition.

Consequently, PHL companies and the whole economy can’t admit foreign investors willy-nilly for they endanger the local companies’ viability unprepared to compete with more efficient foreign competitors even though local consumers and companies will benefit from competition in cost reduction due to economies of scale, incentives, and improved manufacturing technology that Sy et al. didn’t find the need because they are already making enormous profits as they’re by stopping foreign competition to come in that cost them much less by simply corrupting policy-makers to dance to their tune.

This is the worst kind of corruption the PHL economy has been a captive for decades. Trade & industry, BOI, labor, revenue officials, etc. in apparent conspiracy punishable under U.S. law PHL businessmen continue to stop the entry of foreign investors with local big businessmen especially the taipans lionized more than Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. by the pliant media. The government in effect is choosing winners and losers from the measured capacity of the market which when dominated by an older Conception company, the entry of a foreign company which will be compelled towards export market to survive is barred. Rather than encourage competition and develop export-quality products and bigger export market local manufacturers prefer to be “fat and lazy” rather than face competition.

Instead of BOI’s optimizing the incentives for each company and better establish a foothold in foreign markets, government trade and industry program inhibits entry of foreign investment and let an old company continue to virtually monopolize the local market and hurt consumers.

This is the biggest mistake of our government the next President must rectify, or else continuing with virtually anti-foreign investment policy would sink the economy never to recover with pervasive poverty overcoming our people. Consequently, officials of trade & industry, BOI, labor, etc. wittingly or unwittingly retard the growth of export industries by letting corruption reign over PHL trade and industry policies and programs with the Sys, Gokongweis, Tans, Concepcions, etc. as the masters of the economy while the Board of Investments is the center of political and business corruption to protect from foreign competition the companies of the Sys, Gokongweis, Tans, Concepcions, etc. despite their obviously growing “fat and lazy” for lack of foreign competition with their profits reinvested in unrelated sectors unable to help solve the government’s most debilitating problem of graft and corruption.

I can almost see what Lee would do if he were the President of the Philippines. He’d call the Sys, Tans, Gokongweis, Concepcions, and the others among the 100 richest Filipino businessmen and 100 richest current and former government officials to regular secret meetings and extract assurances from each to agree to an investigation of the sources of their corporate holdings and net worth which appear to be beyond the statistical probability of each person’s cumulative net earnings and can easily be probed by forensic audit and the measure of their performance to help stop widespread corruption among the people they exercise supervision and control especially immediate relatives and close associates.

Lee will submit in one of the meetings the retribution of the people who fail to perform their assurance of helping stop graft and corruption, or at least minimize the government losses inflicted by the people in their charge.

I will submit later Pamusa’s plan of action to eradicate graft and corruption which if accomplished by the next President will make him or her the greatest PHL President thus far, more so if helped by the incoming VP and other national officials.

This will be the first interface of the U.S. Department of Justice authority to fight corruption granted to a nonprofit private company (Pamusa) in a unique combination with the tax-exempt status granted by the IRS to enable Pamusa to receive tax-deductible contributions from U.S. foundations and other private charitable givers. The government budget will be augmented, for instance, if the budget of an ad hoc USDOJ-IRS-FBI team and the cooperating PHL law enforcers (NBI or PNP) becomes insufficient to finish any investigation and gathering of evidence to arrest and convict Filipinos suspected of amassing illicit assets from the proceeds of corruption with the cooperation of PHL law enforcers which will also get special funding from the private contributions Pamusa would receive from other nonprofit corporations.