Image looted from Hotmanila.
I missed the President’s first interaction with the press since June, but it was, thankfully, covered by Punzi and of course, by Jove Francisco, who describes it as a messy product launch (The product? The President, of course, as he previously explained). Inq7.net reports the press conference as “manipulated,” which has incurred the ire of both the Palace press corps, and the Foreign Correspondent’s Association of the Philippines. The real news in the press conference was the President’s idea of setting up a consultative commission to help Congress draft constitutional amendments. It’s a good move, politically, as it allows her to gain some leverage over the process, which otherwise seems a total surrender to former president Ramos and Speaker de Venecia.
Incidentally, the Tribune has an interesting story on the bishops who accompanied Cory Aquino to appeal to the President to quit.
Mainstream media is still grappling with either charter change or impeachment. The Inquirer editorial characterizes the state of the nation address as a plea bargain:
What the President attempted to do was seek a way out, both for her and the party she now needs to rally to her defense. That wasn’t statesmanship or vision, it was a plea bargain like you see in the movies: in exchange for what the authorities want, the guilty party settles for a shortened sentence. Lakas-CMD wants Charter change, to be managed by it and defined by it. The President wants to bow out of office not in an act of surrender, but through some sort of face-saving vindication. Lakas has offered it. She has accepted it. The public is not involved in the plea bargain.
Marichu Villanueva says charter change is a divide-and-conquer strategy; Amando Doronila says the proposal taps into a genuinely popular desire for change; Ram Mercado takes an amusing look at the speech:
When I heard this portion of her 23-minute address, and saw the spontaneous pandemonium of acclamation by the members of Congress assembled, it was like the feeding time of crocodiles in a pond, where the dressed chicken and chunks of meat thrown to them were snatched in mid-air even before reaching surface.
Emil Jurado blasts critics of charter change, saying they miss the benefits of parliamentarism, the best thing since sliced bread:
Under a parliamentary system, no more presidential candidates, just a prime minister, heading the government chosen from among his peers, and who can simply be booted out with a simple Ã¢â‚¬Å“no confidenceÃ¢â‚¬Â vote. No more mob rule, People Power and Edsas ad infinitum, which saps the economy.
On impeachment, Ed Espiritu says it’s the best shot at resolving the crisis; Patricio Diaz says the President has to face impeachment sincerely, and without fear; and Carmen Guerrero Nakpil paraphrases the President’s speech as follows:
What Mrs. Arroyo really said in her state-of-the-nation speech before Congress last Monday is: “All right, you people want to throw me out? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not going to talk about the reasons why, since youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve said you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe me. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll do, Ramos, de Venecia and I. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll cut up this country into little pieces of federated states, each with its own government, and small parliament districts represented by members of parliament and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll elect a prime minister and even a president. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll dismember the budget, the policies, trade, industry and the “economic take-off” I talked about, the whole nation, its history and culture. What will I do? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll take care of myself. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry about me. You worry about all your goddamn, degenerate selves. I told you this is not a popularity contest. I am extremely unpopular. But youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not getting what you want; I am.”
Greg Macabenta gives overseas Filipinos advice on how to become politically involved; Tony Abaya apparently had something to say, today, but his paper decided to provide a blank page for his online column. Hotmanila has two good items: Alan Robles wonders,
Facing a catastrophic political crisis, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is searching for the proper leadership image. Should she be a resolute lame duck, an aloof lame duck, or a kinder, gentler lame duck?
While mercifully, a column by Vergel Santos (who writes for Business World, which however, doesn’t make its columns available online) on the middle class appears:
The middle class knows with moral certainty where it stands, although, having precisely gone wrong with Arroyo, whom it had installed in Estrada’s place, it may yet be searching for a fresh strategy – a fresh wisdom.
In the blogosphere, Howie Severino by way of Mario Neri and commenter Mario Taguiwalo who coined the phrase, which is clever indeed, remarks that the President’s speech marks the transformation of republic from strong to thong. Edwin Lacierda says we now have a triumvirate, on the Roman model, composed of former president Ramos, President Arroyo, and Speaker de Venecia:
But who will be the last proconsul standing in the triumvirate? And who will be the Julius Ceasar, the Marcus Licinius Crassus or Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus of this troika? Will they plunge the Republic to civil strife? If Roman history is any gauge, only one will survive and consolidate power. And most especially, who among them will cross the Rubicon and mutter Ã¢â‚¬Å“Iacta alea estÃ¢â‚¬Â- the die is cast?
Philippine Politics quotes Miriam Santiago against charter change; La Vida Lawyer is back in Sun Tzu mode, and advises the President that deception does not work in politics; Fearlessbounce, last Monday, suggested Congress engage in a boxing match to resolve the crisis.
Willy Prilles in Naga City points out that while everyone focused on the President’s speech, media failed to notice an editor being thrown in jail:
But Joe’s case is one for Ripley’s, at least in the Philippine setting – with the extraordinary speed that the judge handed his order sending him behind bars. Without clarifying the terms for bail in his order, the judge later made himself scarce after the hearing and well into the weekend break – to ensure that Joe would serve time. And pay the price of press freedom.
Speaking of the provinces, PCIJ reports bribery is on the increase in Davao. In iBlog, a thoughtful post, from some days back, on media and blogging. And finally, Rank Merida mourns the high cost of books.