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December 1, 2010 Vol. 1 No.

The Official Newsletter of the Ateneo Christian Union for Socialist and Democratic Advancement (CRUSADA)

INSIDE

Politics: Budget Transparency 1

Special Section: The Budget Process 3

Economy: Public Private Partnerships 4

Perspective: On the Korean Conflict 4

Theory & Politics: Neoliberalism 5

Editorial Board: Miguel Calayag, Kristine Chy, Zarah


Domingo, Daniel Garingan, Joshua Lim, JA De Lima, Jules
Lo, Coco Navarro, James Roman, Miguel Rivera, Maria
Venturanza
Picture Source: http://pcij.org

POLITICS | Not Transparent Enough


The International Budget Partnership (IBP), a Several factors are to blame. One, there is not
United States based group that monitors enough public involvement in the conception of
budget transparency in 94 countries, gave the the budget. The executive and legislative do not
Philippines a mediocre score of 55% in its involve nor sufficiently inform the public on the
annual Open Budget survey released last week. creation of the budget. Even though items in
This means that the government was not able the budget may be openly debated in the
to provide sufficient information on the five Senate or the House of Representatives , the
out of eight budget related documents, which final versions are discussed within closed doors
are supposedly open for public viewing. The in the Bicameral Committee. Secondly, people
score reflects how the government needs to do are not doing enough to demand for more
more to make the budget more transparent. transparency and when they do the government
Lack of transparency leads to more room for is often suspicious or dismissive of their
corruption. intentions.

continued on the next page


THE CRUSADER 2

“Instead of listening, government


officials are defensive, claiming that
the students did not bother to look at
the greater picture of the budget as a
whole. ”
Last week, students of state-owned University of
the Philippines walked out in protest of budget
cuts to the individual budgets of state
universities and colleges (SUCs). Instead of Picture Source: abs-cbnnews.com
Students and faculty members of the University of the
listening, government officials are defensive, Philippines protesting proposed education budget cuts.
claiming that the students did not bother to look
at the greater picture of the budget as a whole.
BUDGET ALLOCATIONS PER SECTOR
The total budget allocated for all SUCs had in
fact increased for 2011 in comparison to the in 2009 and 2010
allocation for this year despite the fact that
individual allocations decreased, according to
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. Sources
suggest that the unsustainable SUCs will either
be merged with other SUCs to form university
systems, or will be closed altogether, in order to
save on potential operational costs.

While budget officials appear to be open to


dialogue with sectors involved, the overriding
concern – cutting down costs – reeks of
neoliberal ideological motivations that will
eventually render any dialogue fruitless so long
as the government insists on this pre-
determined position. Transparency is one issue.
Ideological stubbornness is another.
THE CRUSADER 3

THE BUDGET PROCESS

Information taken from www.dbm.gov.ph, the official website of The


Department of Budget and Management. Flowchart prepared by The
CRUSADER Editorial Board.
THE CRUSADER 4

PERSPECTIVE | A Looming War?


ECONOMY | What about the public?
A volatile North Korea delivered an aggressive and fatal
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III reiterated last response to a South Korean artillery exercise last
week his government’s commitment to developing more November 23 that left 4 people, including 2 civilians,
Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) which seek to dead in the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.
strengthen the country’s economic foundation through a
Although there had been several deadly military
BOT (build-operate-transfer) approach. This economic
strategy involves private firms investing in the engagements and provocative rhetoric from the North
government by building and developing infrastructure throughout the years since the end of the Korean War,
facilities where ownership will gradually be transferred the incident last November 23 still sent shockwaves to
to the government, after breaking even and getting the world market and the global political arena
profit of course. This is a gamble however. In most PPPs,
reminding everyone that one of East Asia’s most
the government assumes its share of market risk having
to play around with big money and if threats do realize successful capitalist-democracies has always been at the
into financial problems, such as facilities not earning threshold of a possible nuclear onslaught. These
profits (which is the case now with the EDSA MRT line), seemingly spontaneous episodes of violence however
taxpayers will unwittingly shoulder the heavy burden are not completely surprising. Instead, these are clear
even when they are out of service’s reach.
indicators of the failure of political discourse amongst
This trend is not new. In fact, most of the “natural major stakeholders in the on-going Korean affair. This
monopolies” such as water systems, oil, includes not only the two Koreas but also the major
telecommunications and transportation are due to PPP world powers such as the United States and the People’s
deals contracted during the presidency of Fidel Ramos. Republic of China. It also illustrates the destructive
Experience with these partnerships should already make
the government cautious front in dealing with such consequences of leaving highly political decisions on
negotiations. During Ramos’s time, PPPs involving the indefinite hold in favor of pursuing economic
Independent Power Producers (IPPs) turned out to be a development. In the case of the South, five decades
long-term burden since they forced the government to after a mutual agreement on the cessation of hostilities,
pay for excess or unused power and shoulder most it has become major regional power. On the other hand,
operational problems. These continue to bear on
present economic woes vis-à-vis dollar denominated North Korea has been occasionally labeled as a rogue
debts and payments. militaristic state suffering from chronic economic illness
ever since. Unfortunately, the prolonged truce between
These lopsided arrangements such as “take or pay” the North and the South resolved tensions did not
provisions are not entirely the private sector’s fault. resolve the real dispute between the two, but instead
Investing in the Philippines continues to be a risky affair.
fostered indifference and violence towards each other.
PPP investors are in the risk of encountering irregularities
such as corruption and dishonoring of contract (as in the That same truce that apparently aimed to cease war
failure of NAIA 3 to run as an international airport). only led to individualistic interests instead of Korean
Instead of simply promising PPP schemes profits for the solidarity. Economic prosperity might have landed on
private companies involved, the government must assure South Korean soil but at the expense of a genuine
them of transparency mechanisms and a trustworthy
democratic experience. It must be realized the Korean
regulatory framework. Better infrastructures will also
help. But with a government that seems to be weary of War is not a just a war between a broken people, it is
public spending, attracting PPPs will entail giving in to also a war for democracy.
the demands of private sector partners.
THE CRUSADER 5

THEORY & POLITICS


What is NEOLIBERALISM and why is it ANTI-DEMOCRATIC?
Global neoliberalism transforms aspects of social life into economic and
market relations which is evident in the “entrepreneurial turn” in politics
today. According to this ideal of contemporary politics, the model citizen is
one who strategizes for her/ himself among various social, political and
economic options, not one who strives with others to alter or reorganize
these options. The political theorist Wendy Brown enumerates very
interesting examples: 1) the market rationality permeating universities
today, from admissions and recruiting to the relentless consumer mentality
of students in relationship to university brand names, courses, and
services, from faculty raiding and pay scales to promotion criteria; 2) the Any analysis of global capitalism
way in which consequential moral lapses by politicians, business today must realize that
executives, or church and university administrators are so often apologized contemporary capitalism can no
for as "mistakes in judgement," implying that it was the calculation that longer be restricted to the realm of
was wrong, not the act, actor, or rationale. In short, politics is understood economic production but must be
as the simple harmonization of the plurality of group interests and not studied from all aspects of social
about the formation of validity claims, collective principles and identities. life, including language, culture,
and everyday human affairs.

Quotable Quotes
“In this country, populist politicians ignore the basic tenets of free enterprise which means that
service provided by private businessmen on behalf of the government has a cost.”

--- Malaya newspaper columnist Amado Macasaet commenting on the economic regulatory environment
in the Philippines

“It only takes one word from the President and it would stop. I wonder why he doesn’t say and do
so.”
--- Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan on President Aquino’s seemingly indecisive stand
on jueteng and illegal gambling

“Saya kangen nasi goring, bakso dan rambutan. [I miss eating fried rice, meatballs, and rambutan.] ”

--- Barack Obama, President of the United States of America remarking on a recent state visit to
Indonesia.