Torn and Frayed has an extremely alarming entry, about the frightening alarming prospects of the Philippine economy doing a Titanic even as we all waltz away below decks. He points to an article in the British newspaper, The Economist, and then proceeds to enumerate some truly grisly scenarios: you always thought Imelda Marcos made a pretty poor Evita Peron, think of Manila doing a South East Asian imitation of Buenos Aires:
LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s look at what might happen over the next few weeks.
If the Supreme Court junks EVAT again there will be an immediate full downgrade from the agencies (the guy from Fitch says that explicitly in the article).
The peso will fall, ironically making it even harder for the country to pay its dollar denominated debts. Quite apart from the exchange rate, borrowing costs will rise becasue of the downgrade.
At this stage, things may happen quite quickly. Gloria (or whoever replaces her) may decide that, since she canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pay the debt anyway, she may as well make some political capital out of it and announce that she is not going to service this iniquitous mountain of debt entered into by her corrupt predecessors. This is technically a default. Much cheering (off stage) accompanied by the sound of the peso breaking through 100 to the dollar (unless fixed exchange rates are brought in).
You have to read his blog entry (and beg someone to buy you a subscription to The Economist. If you find that someone, tell them to send me a subscription, too).
The big news yesterday was of course the President’s unexpected declaration of intent: she will now convene some sort of “fact-finding commission,” in contrast to the civil-society demand for a “truth commission.” The Inquirer, in its editorial, looks askance at this development. Why now? why not earlier? it asks:
The commission idea was floated as a means to stave off a worsening crisis. However, the crisis is here, and not least because of the President’s refusal to take an active part in clearing her name through such a body. When she herself managed to control the situation by arguing for impeachment, here she comes now piously pleading for a commission. Where was she when the idea made the most sense?
The Star’s editorial attempts to answer the question of confusion:
Some quarters immediately raised fears that the truth commission could create confusion by duplicating the functions of other bodies such as Congress, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies that may handle the scandal that has implicated the President and a former election official in poll fraud.
But given the glacial pace of judicial investigation in this country and the political grandstanding that often cripples the legislature, a truth commission could help speed up the resolution of this crisis.
Success will depend on several factors. The commission must be composed of individuals known for probity and impartiality in the ongoing political scandals. If they are to show any bias, it should be for institutions rather than individuals. There must be members who are knowledgeable in the Constitution and the law.
PCIJ points out the President’s proposal changes the frame of reference on the issue:
But the President went beyond the bishopsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ vision of a truth commission, expanding the bodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mandate to include investigating what she referred to as the “disturbing matter of various groups manipulating the situations to grab power.”
(For how the conspiracy card is being played, click on the link to Emil Jurado’s column, below). La Vida Lawyer thinks a commission is a mistake. Edwin Lacierda, who is thoroughly pro-impeachment (process, that is), says the President’s stealing the opposition’s thunder.
Jove observes the goings-on surrounding the President’s new proposal, and adds something I also observed, watching Ricky Carandang deferentially interviewing Ramos on ANC: FVR is ticked-off that all of a sudden, fewer and fewer are discussing his little scheme to solve all of life’s little problems. The signs were there: the Palace began to waffle on the FVR Solution quite soon, since it was political suicide to pursue it.
Newsstand takes a close look at the President’s proposal, and probes into the wording of her actual letter. At first blush, the letter seems wishy washy, but the public might buy it:
A commission or similar body? You mean she isn’t exactly sure yet? I am reminded of that unforgettable line from Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indiana Jones looks about for a way to escape from the Nazis. Hey, he says, “I’m just making this up as I go along.” The vagueness will test the bishops’ patience, who surely expected something more detailed. But the public? Maybe they wouldn’t mind so much.
in his next entry, he says, it depends if people are to have confidence in the proposal, or not:
So I guess what I’m really saying is: It depends. It depends on the scope of work. It depends on the powers of the commission. Above all, it depends on the people who will be appointed to it.
Did Malacanang do something out of the ordinary and air the idea without benefit of a trial balloon? Well, this vaguely-worded proposal may well be the trial balloon.
Incidentally, former Senator John OsmeÃƒÂ±a has popped out of retirement to thunder about cheating in Cebu (allegedly out of spite, since he was “dropped” during the last campaign, which led to an unaccustomed loss for the veteran politico). Pulse Asia has a nationwide poll unfavorable to the President.
The America card comes to mind, with the conservative Heritage Foundation boiling down American interests in the “P.I.” to three. Terrorism, Business, and China. If you recall recent scuttlebutt about the supposed American position (support the FVR plan, go for charter change to loosen up economic provisions and make military cooperation much easier), and then consider slightly older scuttlebutt that Uncle Sam isn’t pleased by the President cozying up to China (as one correspondent put it, “Only the big boys get to play at geopolitics”), isn’t it very interesting that one of the charges to be levied against the President is treason? Recall, too, the loud proclamations of Chinese support for the beleaguered government. Since the North Rail project, financed by the Chinese government, is widely-mentioned as one of the contracts to be zeroed in on, then it might work this way: the President stands accused of conspiring to pocket billions of pesos through bribes payed by a foreign government, the People’s Republic of China, and in so doing, committed treason. At least I suspect this will be one of the arguments of the prosecutors. Note that no President of the Philippines, with the exception of Emilio Aguinaldo and Jose P. Laurel (the former decades after being president and the latter, who was only recognized as a president decades after his term) has ever been charged with treason (and that was after World War II).
The Pundit brigade features the following, today: Armando Doronila has come out strongly for impeachment as the best course; Emil Jurado claims that the Resign movement was -is- a conspiracy; Jojo Robles lashes out at Cesar Purisima; the unsinkable Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil takes a jaundiced look at the President’s recent tactics:
That photo we got on the front pages and videos screens of Mrs. Arroyo and her troupe, in office wear, excepting only the Secretary of Labor who chose a smart-casual, ladies lunch outfit, ambling on the MalacaÃƒÂ±ang lawn, looked to me like a herd of sheep led by a midget shepherd to slaughter or worse. Is that why she was dressed like a head nurse?
In Davao, Patricio Diaz says society there is divided over politics, too; Rudy Romero praises the La Salle Brothers; Victor Villano (who is an up-and-coming pundit to watch), has another piece, in which he claims to see a silver lining in the country’s troubles. Howie Severino leaves politics aside, and delves into searching for Filipino film treasures. Cocktales describes the ratings war between the two major networks hitting American shores.