Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror January 31, 2007  edition, p. A6

Dear Toting,

I was almost seduced by the campaign salvo you fired off a week ago. You followed Billy Esposo’s cardinal rule on marketing. You glorified your product, Brand 666, trashed the other brand, and sucked up to the consumer.

Your fine work is now included in my “wall of quotes, “right beside another quotation which I will tell you about later. Anyway, I’m reprinting your statement, just in case you’re not sure exactly which of the many things you’ve said impressed me.

Statement of Ignacio R. Bunye

“President Arroyo is focused on the economy and the business of the people and will not allow politics to weigh down on her agenda.

”This government will continue to stand on a platform of performance and the politics of development and social justice, even if our detractors try their worst to draw and bait us into the arena of mudslinging.

”The Filipino people are intelligent and totally turned off by partisan grandstanding and they will not allow the forthcoming polls to knock the Philippines off the right track, which is to work with the national leadership in keeping confidence up, gaining investments, creating jobs and increasing the social payback of economic reforms.” END.

You are on the right track…with your sales pitch, that is.  There’s an election coming and it’s going to be tough debunking economic “achievements” that fit into a bumper sticker— “the peso is strong, the stock market is up, and interest rates are low.”

It takes an economist like my colleague at Action for Economic Reforms, Filomeno Sta. Ana III, to rebut your claims. However, as you can see, his work is meant for serious deliberation, not bumper stickers.

He said,   “Exports, most affected by a continued peso appreciation, account for more than 40 percent of the country’s economic output. A peso appreciation makes Philippine exports more expensive.”

He added, “A peso appreciation makes the prices of competing imports cheaper. Hence, local producers lose market share, grabbed from them by imports.”

And he concluded, “In fine, the continued appreciation of the peso, leading to its overvaluation, is injurious to the real, productive sector of the economy, negatively affecting employment and income.”

The short version of what Sta. Ana said is, as the peso rises, exports become less competitive, imports become cheaper, manufacturing declines, domestic jobs become scarcer, and OFWs become heroes. Unfortunately, that progression is still too long compared to your slogan.

Sta. Ana and I want you to earn your Queen’s admiration so we spent hours looking for a riposte to your claims, one that would put your Queen’s “achievements” in the proper context and force you into a long-winded explanation of why, to use Casey Stengel’s words, she’s claiming credit for “all the home runs somebody else hit.”

Everybody knows Mrs. Arroyo relies on OFWs. Without their dollars, at least 60 billion since she came into power, and at least 14 billion more expected this year, she would be in deep doo-doo.  But how does one translate that into one short and clear sentence? The answer came from our cleaning lady. She asked, “Saan kangkungan pupulutin si Gloria kung walang OFW remittances?”

Anyway, going back to the quotation I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, the one I placed right beside your seductive statement… it’s a reality check courtesy of a sign in a bar in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

It says:

“No matter how good she looks,
Some other guy is sick and tired,
Of putting up with her sh*t.”

Looks aren’t everything, Toting.

All the best,