Chiz Escudero on entrepenuership, education, security, OFWs and political ambition

I can’t vouch for what kind of person Francis Escudero really is. But from what I’ve gathered, he is a fine public servant. Fiercely intelligent and refreshingly pragmatic, I wouldn’t be too worried if he heralds in a new kind of politics in our country.


In the recent podcast released by the PDI [download the episode here], Escudero bared several of his key positions on certain issues. While I am not satisfied with his answer on political dynasties (still comes across as pretty two-faced) and disagree completely with his position on poll automation, he raises a lot of excellent points on education, modernizing the military and brain drain.

For those points alone, I applaud him. But not much else.

The following are highlights from the podcast, with thanks to the PDI for the transcript. All additional emphases are mine.

[NOTE TO FOREIGN READERS: A large part of this podcast is in Filipino]


JV Rufino : I see… Our next question has to do with call centers. Most graduates of even the top schools, they end up working as call center agents. Is this something that you would support or would you sort of promote entrepreneurship as an alternative way?

Francis Escudero : We should promote local entrepreneurs. We should be able to give them enough incentives insofar as being able to conduct and have their own business, concentrating on indigenous talent and local talent or local products or local raw materials.

‘Yung call center is a temporary phenomenon. Para sa akin, wala namang masama. Pero hindi rin naman tama na in the long term, iyan na lang ang tayaan at asahan natin. Think for example [of] forward-looking countries like Singapore. I do not and cannot see why our country cannot do the same insofar as planning forward is concerned, or being forward-looking is concerned.

Five, ten years ago, “yung mga Chinese at Korean nationals at Indian nationals nagpupunta dito para mag-aral ng English. As of today inimport na lang nila yung mga English teachers papuntang Korea, papuntang China, papuntang India para turuan yung mga kababayan nilang mag Ingles.

We suffered a double whammy insofar as that is concerned. We lost out on what we may call student dollars, yung mga gusto sanang matuto ng Ingles dito at yung kababayan natin lalayo pa sa kanyang mahal sa buhay at yung kinikita nyang sweldo dun, dun din nya syempre ginagastos yung bahagi.

We should be able to be forward-looking enough and not simply react to the current situation. We are in a position, given our placement in various countries in the world, to be able to predict or somewhat plan ahead insofar as the career path of our citizenry is concerned.

Another example: Imbes na yung mga ambassador at consul natin nagiging alalay and tour guide ng mga congressman, senador, secretary o mga asawa nila o anak o kapatid, ang dapat sana nilang gawing trabaho: Alamin kung ano ang nangyayari at nagaganap sa bansang ‘yun. Halimbawa, sa aking pagkakaalam sa Dubai, may i-kokonstruct na hospital dun o may i- kino-construct na matatapos sa year 2011.

Alam nila kung anung klaseng skilled labor ang kailangan, alam nila kung anong klaseng medical personnel ang kailangan, at alam din nila kung ilan. Bakit hindi natin i-train at alamin natin yung mga pangangailangan at pag napunuan na natin yun, tama na rin.

In Australia, that’s how they do things. They look at the career path and the available professionals in the county. And whenever they find out that the particular career has been filled up, they simply communicate with the schools by increasing the quota, meaning yung average grade quota requirement for a particular course or limiting the number of students that can take that particular course in order to redirect and direct their graduates according to the needs of their country or according to the needs of the market.

Hindi natin ginagawa yun. Wala tayong ginagawang kaugnay pero kayang kayang gawin natin yun. I think that is what the government should do.

Joel Guinto: Sir, you also mentioned about improving the educational system. What laws do you intend to pass?

Francis Escudero : Isa lang siguro. ‘Yung budget kada taon, to increase instead of decrease the budget for state colleges or universities to be able… to enable them rather to offer them services to a wider number of students in the provinces. Ang nangyayari ngayon for the past 3 years, pababa nang pababa ang budget na pino-propose ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Arroyo sa state colleges and universities. Gusto nilang maging self sustaining ito at ayaw nilang makipag-compete daw and mga eskwelang ito sa mga private schools.

Para sa ‘kin, mali ‘yun. Dapat makipag-compete ang state colleges and universities sa private schools in order to hold them in check. Alam n’yo ba na pag tinataasan ng gobyerno ang sweldo ng mga teachers sa public school, nag-oobject ang mga private school, sa kadahilanan na, mahihirapan na raw silang makipagsabayan sa gobyerno sa pagbayad ng sweldo ng mga titser. E mali naman nga ata ‘yun.

I think government, for as long as we can afford it, must be able to set the bar insofar as salaries are concerned so that the private sector would follow. And, number two, government must also be able to set the bar insofar as the lowered cost of education is concerned. So that the private sector would also follow suit. Otherwise, they will simply lose out in the business that they had entered into, insofar as educating our youth is concerned.

Para sa ‘kin ‘yun lang ang kailangan gawin ng kanyang pamahalaan. A reverse of what the present administration is doing.

Joel Guinto: Sir, you mentioned about increasing the budget, but do we need to build more state colleges and universities?

Francis Escudero : I don’t think so. For as long as we have one for each province that would be enough. Providing them with adequate money in order to maintain their facilities, and expand perhaps their facilities would be enough without necessarily enacting via a law, another state college and the university in another municipality or city for as long as there’s already one in the province.


Joel Guinto: What is your agenda for the military? What do you think it needs, more budget like what President Arroyo is saying?

Francis Escudero : The military must be re-oriented. We must be able to provide a staffing pattern for the military, which has not yet been done in the so many years that it has been in existence. For example, tine-train mo ang sundalo, bibigyan mo ng mataas na sweldo para maging sundalo. Private man o colonel, o kapitan, o sarhento. Kaya lang sa loob ng kampo, ‘yung nagbabantay ng kampo, sundalo. Dapat security guard. ‘Yung naglilinis ng pinggan sa mess hall, sundalo. Dapat dishwasher.

‘Yung naglilinis ng plato sa lamesa dapat waiter, sundalo pa rin. ‘Yung typist sa opisina ng heneral, sundalo. Driver, sundalo. Driver ng asawa ng heneral, sundalo pa rin. Bodyguard ng mga anak, sundalo pa rin. Messenger sa opisina ng heneral, sundalo pa rin. Ang taas na sweldong binibigay natin sa sundalo, ang ginagampanang tungkulin, walang kinalaman sa pagiging sundalo.

Mas mura kung mag-apruba na kasi nila–di ko mainthindihan kung bakit di nila ginagawa–ang staffing pattern ng military functions, or civilian functions must be performed by civilian personnel. Mas mura ang sweldo nila kaysa sa sweldo ng sundalo na napakaraming benepisyo.

One, two, we must re-orient the entire military’s needs and requirements and so far is the modernization is concerned. Sa tingin may lulusob pa sa Pilipinas o mag-aatake of mag-iinvade sa Pilipinas in the next five decades, or even 10 decades or 100 years?
Hindi na uso ang lusuban ng bansa ngayon. Ang uso ay ite-take over mo na lang ang ekonomiya ng bansa kung saka-sakali. We can’t even defend the Philippines, which is an archipelago, and I don’t understand why the Philippines keeps on insisting to buy an F16.
Kahit gaano kagaling ang piloto natin, kung iisa lang naman ‘yan, at 15 ‘yung F16 nung kabilang bansa, kukuyugin lang naman ‘yung nag-iisang F16 natin. Balewala ‘yun e. Tinanong ko sila kung bakit nila gusto ‘yan? Sabi nila, tayo na lang ang walang F16. E ano naman ngayon? Isang F16 kaya nating bumili ng 13 helikopter. Para sa ‘kin, internal security and dapat nating pagtuunan ng pansin. Internal threat ang dapat nating tugunan, at hindi external threat. Alam n’yo ba nag-aambisyon pa ang AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines-ed] natin na bumili ng aircraft carrier na maliit daw, at isang submarine. Aanhin naman natin ‘yun, utang na loob.

We should accept and live with our limitations. We should accept there are four elements of the state. Sovereignty, territory, government and people, the most important among these four should always be people. Hangga’t wala pa tayong sapat na pera na gagastusin para sa mga kababayan natin, wag na muna tayong mag-ambisyon ng kung anu ano pa na hindi naman nakalatag para sa pangunahing pangangailangan ng mga kababayan natin.

Joel Guinto: But how do you fight the communist insurgency and the Abu Sayyaf?

Francis Escudero : That’s internal security. It’s still not external security.

Joel Guinto : What should the military interest lie in? What hardware should you push?

Francis Escudero : Choppers, more personnel in the field, because they will have a bigger budget to support our soldiers because this will now entail a less amount of or lesser amounts insofar as salaries are concerned because we’re paying civilian personnel. Ang sweldo ng sundalo ngayon humigit kumulang, labintatlo, labing-apat na libo. Ang sweldo ng isang contractual, halimbawa na secretary, is about seven or eight thousand pesos.
For every item that you get, you are able to save approximately five thousand pesos per month. Malaking bagay ‘yan, malaking pagkakaiba ‘yan sa operational expenses na pwede mong mabigay sa mga platoon at sa mga batalion natin sa field. The money is available. If only government will be prudent enough insofar as spending our money is concerned, I think we can easily make do with what we have insofar as realizing our ambitions and dreams or even our objectives for any given year is concerned.

Joel Guinto: Are you in favor of limiting the scope of the Commission on Appointments and the promotion of military officers?

Francis Escudero: Yes. I think it should be re-studied. I think it should be limited, and I think it should be de-politicized.

Joel Guinto: How do you de-politicize the military?

Francis Escudero: By simply limiting its scope. Either to higher officials only or one time lang for colonels only. I’m still not convinced insofar as which particular option to take. At one point in time they should pass through the Commission on Appointments. But not at each and every stage after they are promoted to the position of colonel. Masyado naman mahirap na dalawa, tatlong beses sila dadaan do’n. Masyado na tala silang mapo-politicizd, kung saka-sakali.


Nonoy Espina: Magandang gabi congressman, ako si Nonoy Espina. Marami sa nakikinig ngayon sa podcast na ‘to ay mga kababayan natin sa ibayong dagat. Du’n naninirahan at du’n nagtatrabaho at ‘ika nga mga bagong bayani, sila and they prop the economy up but it’s worse for them, kung [baga] wala ring nagbabago sa kalagayan nila, Ano’ng maaasahan nila sa inyo pag naboto kayo?

Francis Escudero: Una sa lahat, magandang gabi din sa ‘yo. Tinatagurian at tinatawag nga nating bayani pero hindi naman bayani ang pagtrato natin sa kanila. Halimbawa, hanggang ngayon, wala pang pormal na opisina tayo sa ibang bansa sa pamamagitan man ng embahada o consulado na mangangalaga lamang sa kapakanan at karapatan nila.
Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit hanggang ngayon hinahayaan pa rin nila na mga pribadong kumpanya ang pumasok sa mga kontratang mangangalaga sa ating mga kababayan sa ibang bayan sa ibang bansa at hindi ang pamahalaan natin mismo ang pumasok sa mga kontrata para matiyak na pwede natin silang pangalagaan at protektahan saklaw ng bandila ng ating bansa, at hindi ‘yung pangaral lamang ng kumpanyang nagrecruit sa kanila.

Bilang senador pinapasa at ipinapanukala namin at ginawa na namin sa Kamara ‘yan. Na gobyerno na lamang ang siyang makikipag kasundo sa iba’t ibang bansa at ‘yung mga pribadong kontrata ay dapat masaklaw ng pang-malawakan at bansa-sa-bansang kasunduan kaugnay ng pagdadala at pagpapadala at pagha-hire ng mga empleyado na Pilipino sa ibang bansa.

Pangalawa, matagal ng pinag-uusapan ang isa pang tulong para sa ating mga kababayan na nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa. Hindi lamang sa pamamagitan ng reaksyon kung saka-sakaling may problema na. Kung hindi sa pamamagitan ng pagkakataon ng aktual na serbisyo ng mga pribadong kumpanyang gumagawa ngayon. Marami sigurong tututol na bakit makikipag-kumpitensya pa ang pamahalaan sa mga pribadong kumpanya.
Halimbawa na nagbibigay ng serbisyong remittance. Halimbawa na nagbibigay ng serbisyong libreng tawag o mas murang tawag sa kanilang mga kamag-anak. Gobyerno ang dapat nagbibigay n’yan sa kanila bilang pagkilala sa napakalaki nilang kontribusyon sa ating bansa. May isang bagay lang na hindi natin pwedeng isabatas. Meron isang masamang epekto rin ang pagkakaroon ang OFW sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo.
At ‘yan ay pagkakaroon ng mga kamag-anak nilang naninirahan dito na hindi na nagtatrabaho at umaasa na lamang sa padala ng kanilang mga kamag-anak sa ibang bansa. Dapat may kongkretong programa ang pamahalaan para sa mga kapamilya ng mga kababayan nating nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa. Upang sa gayon, hindi masayang ang kanila oras at panahon at nakanganga na lamang at naghihintay na lamang ng biyaya mula sa kamag-anak nilang napapakakuba sa ibayong dagat.

The phenomenon of the OFWs have (sic) made our country a consumer driven country and an economy that’s consumer-driven. Hindi maganda at tama ‘yun. Marapat at dapat ma-channel ng tama ang pinapadalang pera ng mga kababayan natin dito para hindi lamang gamitin na panggastos sa araw-araw ng pangangailangan, kung hindi magkaroon ng pangmatagalang investment at capital outlay ang mga kababayan natin upang pag retire nila ay may pakinabang naman sila sa kanilang pinaghirapan at pinagpuhunang sweldo sa ibang bansa.


Lira Fernandez : Basically, what drives your political ambition?

Francis Escudero : What drives my political ambitions? The desire to be remembered beyond one’s lifetime or after one has long passed away. ‘Di ba may kasabihan sa Ingles: If you can’t write a book, might as well be written about. I can’t write a book. I can’t sing so I can’t leave a CD behind. I can’t act so I can’t leave a DVD behind. I can’t write so I can’t leave a book behind.

I would want somehow to be remembered beyond my lifetime for having done something good, something right. Something that the people actually felt and the only thing I know is serving in government as a lawyer or as a professor. Wala pa kaming anak ng misis ko. Wala pa ‘kong maiiwan na mabuting tao siguro sa mundo para sabihin ito yung pamana ko sa mundo.

Right now, what I have is what I know I can do insofar as my present position is concerned. And that is my basic driving force insofar as entering politics is concerned, and staying in politics is concerned.

But politics, having said that, is not my end-all and be-all. I don’t eat politics for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And whenever I sleep, I don’t dream of politics. Hindi pulitika ang hangin na hinihinga ko. At maswerte siguro ako, sa edad na 37, nasa crossroads ako para malaman: Ito pa ba ang gagawin ko o hindi na? Maghahanap ba ako ng ibang dahilan o rason para maski na papa’no maalala ko pagkatapos kong pumanaw, o dito na talaga yung lugar para makuha at makita ko ‘yun?

Lira Fernandez : What will make you get out of it?

Francis Escudero : ‘Pag sinabi na sa ‘kin ng tao na ayaw na nila sa ‘kin at matalo ako sa eleksyon. I will not run for any other position after that.

Lira Fernandez : After this election?

Francis Escudero : After this election. And I hope it will not happen though.

Lira Fernandez : And what will you be six years after?

Francis Escudero : What will I be six years after? I hope I will still be the same person. Scruples and principles intact. Very much like what I am now after nine years in Congress. And I don’t know if I will still seek re-election after that time.

Lira Fernandez : I mean no more political career?

Francis Escudero : Well it depends. May Senado pa ba pagdating ng panahong ‘yun? Would there be an opening for higher office later on? Any politician really who says that he is not thinking of higher office is not telling the truth.

Every politician at the back of his mind at least would be thinking: What if? What if? What if? And for as long as reality hasn’t slapped him in the face. I think that possibility remains open insofar as everyone is concerned.

Lira Fernandez : Is losing one of your worst fears in politics?

Francis Escudero : I don’t want to lose. Nobody wants to lose. But I’m not afraid of it. It’s a reality and it’s a fact that one has to accept and live by. But I would consider myself lucky because should that happen at my age right now, 37, I still have the rest of my life to do other things.

I think the more painful part is losing when you’re already 65, 70 or 80. Wala ka ng ibang gagawin pa kung saka sakali. Matapos nun, I consider myself blessed. That at age 37, I would be given the privilege and opportunity to know what to do for the rest of my life henceforth depending on what the outcome of the election will be.


4 thoughts on “Chiz Escudero on entrepenuership, education, security, OFWs and political ambition

  1. Yeah. That sounds odd, but I can see his logic. Students will do badly in those subjects without mastering their basic arithmetic first. While private school kids don’t have that problem, they aren’t exactly the majority.

  2. Starting from that piece in “Pipol”, although his constituents in Sorsogon think that he made them proud because he is from that region, they also complained that he doesn’t much have accomplishments done in his almost 9 years of tenure in the public office. Escudero spend most of his time in Manila and rarely in his province, very occupied fighting the oppositions’ cause. Of course, at the expense of our fast deteriorating economy. In preparation for his ultimate goal of being the president someday.

    And he talks to much. He seems to have an opinion about EVERYTHING. Its like he HAS to say something about something just to make it an issue. I believe in freedome of speech…but it should be done with sense of matureness – not dwelling in too much ‘tsismis’ and negativities.

    Plus, I don’t really like the man because I find his political lineage and affiliation suspect.

  3. hello! have a nice day upon receiving this simple note from me. I just want to extent my good luck to your political career. I prayed that you wanna win this senatorial election of 2007. Filipino people expect a lot from you. Hoping that in your presence at the senate in the future, you could be able to fight our rights and deprived privileges of most Filipinos. Thank you very much! GOD BLESS YOU…..GOOD LUCK….

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