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Why the Pulong Bayan Works


PGMA and our VP Noli has embarked on a program called "Pulong Bayan" which aims to discuss the problems of various sectors through direct consultation with the concerned folk. I have been closely following these program as it seems to me a very positive move, akin to the Magsaysay style of talking directly to the people. You see, I am not a naysayer all the time; when some things are right I tell it, but here's my take why I think the Pulong Bayan works and what might after. In fact Let's do a pseudo-SWOT analysis but let's divide it into S-O and W-T.

Strengths and Opportunities

  1. The shaky question of legitimacy of the president is still under attack by the bitter 'losers' of the opposition. Despite a possible mandate from the previous election, a current protest of the FPJ camp is pending in the Supreme Court. The best way to combat this is to show the people that you are a working president. The Pulong Bayan does that as it is covered on TV. Status Quo.
  2. Seeing a VP next to the President solves the problem of a VP in the background and doing nothing but waiting for the Prez to die, attacking the prez to fail or rallying same party support to oppose her. By appointing Noli as adviser for OFW affairs GMA has expressly would have said already: Hey Noli, just wait your turn and support me for now, you'll be grateful you did.
  3. The Pulong Bayan removes the red tape and quickens the flow and exchange of ideas - department heads mean less now, because their constituents can easily say the problems out loud. Should they foul up, they are caught on TV. They will have to re-adjust and give themselves value not as heads or leaders but as role players now - in a GMA centric government.
  4. Notice that the Las PiƱas leg of the Pulong bayan has less attendees as the previous one in Laguna. In that 3rd leg of the forum GMA openly castigated 2 government officials - LLDA's chair following a complaint about the redundancy of the application of environmental clearance certificates and the road use tax issue of Gov. Lazaro of Laguna. Both of these officials were embarrassed on national TV. GMA thus is successful in showing a tough attitude that she is here to solve a problem.
  5. By answering questions of the people quickly and addressing their concerns in as fast, she is showing that she is an intelligent leader than knows a lot and can do a lot - that increases the hope of people.
  6. By not being afraid to be "masungit" on camera and being candid at times and yet not veering away from the main point of the forum: solving the problems, - and letting herself be herself, PGMA draws the line easily who are in and out. The beso-beso gives her some distance - she was right to say give some respect - in fact that is right a beso-beso a social kiss to Filipinos is given to only those in your circle. I think that by doing that she gives back the institution of the presidency a respect that the position deserves.
  7. The open forum is a very good way of informing people about virtually unknown projects that the government espouses, or supports. People tend to criticize a lot because they are uninformed.
  8. It is a good showcase to watch which officials are quick with decisions and who really makes sense - or which ones are just there for the ride.
  9. The meetings shifts the focus from the president to the people around her. Politically this is a good move because if somebody screws up people don't point to you - you point to them. Fall guys are easy to pick. Plus the problems are being made clear - anything identifying and quantifiable can be reached. If our goals as a nation are not clear and measurable, then any progress cannot be charted.
  10. It is a very good propaganda tool. See how PGMA delights in moments where she can point out what she knows? There are moments when she need to explain things and government jargon and she delights to be the showman that she knows a lot. That settles the question of her not being able to do any better than the previous president.
  11. It is a good move for Noli too because it cements his place as a supporter - a job that works for him because it shows he is doing something, and differentiates him from all other vice presidents in the past. It is a strong position to be the one PGMA will endorse by the time her term ends. And guess who will be next - Mar Roxas as his vice. That means Cory-Ramos-GMA-Noli-Mar 30 years of your the same group of people in power.

Weaknesses and Threats

  1. By proving that she has the solutions - and by the way PGMA talks you can see she's got the brain to do it, and the political mind to manipulate people - she has raised the bar of expectations. Anything that is bleak is now clear - failures will be easy to measure and thus it can be easily said if she will fail or not.
  2. If the Pulong Bayan will not produce what it promised, you will have many sectors crying ningas-cogon. That it was all a facade, a masquerade.
  3. It is obvious that she will clash with a lot of minds here. This process exposes a lot of irregularities very easily. She will have a lot of enemies.
  4. People will ask why is showing that what she can do now - what was the past 4 years all about? Why was she not able to do anything back then? Is it because she was busy with her other Pidal concerns - and after ensuring that she is safe now is it time to be a good president? In Tagalog: Bumangka na ba? Nasambot na ba ang puhunan? Questions like these which I hear from my daily conversations with Taxi drivers are easy to raise when we question habit. What exactly are her motives? PGMA needs to be clear or else people will ask more and more questions.
  5. Earlier today it was mentioned that one major problem in the Philippines is vocation targeting and skills projection of its manpower. The skill sets of our graduates are not in tune with the demands of the economy - and neither is the quantity of graduates per sector aligned with the demand for the number of jobs available in these sectors. This is very true - the need to align it all. We produce a great number of good graduates who become jobless not because the jobs are not available but because the skills don't match. How many Management graduates do we have and how many entrepreneurs do we produce? Now that this problem is laid out and clear, a possible shift and realignment of policy will be very difficult. She needs a congress that will fully support all the laws required to be change in a change in the system.
  6. Her move may put dependence on the government to another level. Next up is you see people needing dole out. The government needs to emphasize on the programs that it can do and the many NGO's that it supports. Take micro-finance for instance, how many people would have known that you can get loans without collateral, as long as you are in a program that teaches you how to pay through it. It's not going to be easy but hey, that's a start.
  7. Why is GMA focused on the domestic front now? Well because there is nothing in foreign policy to occupy her. Right now is she is just praying for a Kerry Win. And that's it. The danger side is if Bush wins, it will be a lot of work for her. There is no leverage with America if our economy is shaky, they have no choice but defer to them.

That makes the list a 11-7 in favor of positive things. I'd rather have a +4 than a zero. Good Start, even as it may be questionable, and motivated by other things, I don't think we should complain. Let her do her job - a job she hasn't done as best she could have in the past 4 years. It's time.


posted by Jdavies @ 8/18/2004,


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The Author


Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.

About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.


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