BILL CLINTON said a Monica Lewinsky mouthful of nonsense, when he praised Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for "turning the Philippine economy around," noting how, just recently "everyone had written her off as politically dead" (referring I suppose to her impeachment troubles which could easily start up again depending on what happens to Romulo Neri's claims of executive privilege.) But like the Democratic Party in general, Mr. Clinton has always ignored Filipinos in America. He is obviously not aware that it is the hard- and painfully earned incomes of ten million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) --nurses, doctors, teachers, engineers, domestic helpers, construction workers, entertainers and care-givers, that is keeping the country afloat on an annual tide of 15 billion dollars in repatriations that is raising all boats. That includes the Ship of State, ponderous and wasteful. Whereupon the corrupt officialdom of this Archipelago, headed by the object of Bill Clinton's blind praise, makes like Ali Baba and the forty thousand thieves playing golf and scheming with corrupt Chinese bureaucrats--ahem, capitalists who call themselves market socialists.
I guess "Classmate" Bubba doesn't read Transparency International reports either (which at No. 131 just yesterday ranked the Philippines among the most corrupt in the world at par with Burundi, Honduras and Yemen, with whose long-suffering peoples Filipinos share the cellar); or those of the Heritage Foundation, which warned way back in 2005 that "Chinese influence will continue to expand while Arroyo fights for her political life," -- which qualifies as a prophetic warning come true in the wake of the ZTE National Broadband Network bribery scandal compared to which even the cartelized pricing of Globe and Smart , reportedly US $20 per Megabit per second of bandwidth, compared to 11 cents in the United States and 22 cents in Japan seems merely greedy, but not venal. I suppose what he really admires in her accidental economics is that VAT of heavy taxes extracted like blood from the Filipino people, that President Arroyo has been spending to finance the Pork Barrel instead of what she promised it was for--avoidance of more foreign debt. She has apparently entered into dozens of agreements with China that are sure to indenture Filipinos for the next few generations. It's all part of China's new East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere scheme in action.
Lookie here, Bubba. The OFWs are suffering enough as it is from the unfavorable peso exchange rates and heavy E-Vat taxation used to finance the pork barrel. Why add insult to injury by praising the economic architect of these vexations.
Of course, colossal-size corruption is just par for the course of Filipino presidents, but a lot of equally serious trouble is brewing for the Philippines because of the President's utter lack of leadership in handling the jihadist and communist insurgent threats. She is even planning to give the MILF rebels a big reward for all their murderous ambuscades and armed violence -- in the form of their own "ancestral domain" or Muslim Juridical Entity which is said to encompass 1000 barangays in Maguindanao and will incorporate what is now the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (read MNLF-Nur Misuari terriotry.) This last wrinkle will probably be enough to guarantee decades more of armed insurgency in Mindanao as the MNLF wages war on its MILF brethren. American Chronicle writer Kurt Stallings echoes our own sentiments here at Philippine Commentary that the Moro rebellion has been hijacked by the Global Jihad on vilization launched by Al Qaeda, with this analysis of the situation in Mindanao:
Abu Sayaf is not nationalist; it is international jihadist, closely allied with al-Qaeda. For them, the southern Philippines are a marvelous base from which to project terrorist activity throughout Asia.For the theoretically inclined, the US Army War College periodical, Parameters has its Summer Issue out. I recommend two essays there: A Social Network Approach to Understanding Insurgency and Good Anthropology. Bad History. The Cultural Turn in Studying War.
A dangerous break toward jihadist, rather than nationalist, leadership is signaled each time MILF factions collaborate with Abu Sayaf. If that shift takes hold, the prospects of a relatively peaceful resolution to the situation substantially decrease, and the odds of terrorist activity throughout the Philippines increase.
Tragically, this comes at a time when the Philippine economy appears on an unprecedented spurt of growth. The Philippine people are already highly literate, educated and politically acute, ordinarily a recipe for refining their democracy and eliminating abuses of corruption and governmental terror tactics.
The Islamists know -- and fear -- just that possibility, which may be why they are pushing so hard to win over the new generation of young Muslim males away from the older, traditional Muslim nationalists who had been steadily gaining relative autonomy for their region within the country. The mutilation and beheading of Philippine marines this summer brought the armed forces into Muslim territories with a vengeance (literally), ostensibly seeking the perpetrators, and now mired in the jungles while the politicians try to talk it out.
Of course, the President is clearly basking in the afterglow of Clintonesque flattery. She needs the break, considering her own First Gent is skulking about somewhere in China, whilst she faces the prospect of Manila's seething political cauldron over the ZTE scandal and the possible breakup of her political coalition in the House. Joe de Venecia just ruled out inhibiting himself from the explosive Abalos impeachment process that was really ignited by his son Joey's testimony of a $10 million bribe offer and Romulo Neri's "200". If Abalos is impeached and tried, the radioactive proceedings could create a dangerous fallout over the Palace.
CONTRETEMPS UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has the latest on the Iowa primary and the race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton