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Aug 11

Impeachy-pie!

The day’s off to a good start after reading this blog entry, which concludes:

Many historians, artists, and other Filipinos are supposedly removing the relics of colonialism by rejecting these experiences as not being part of what is Filipino. I believe that it is the intervening years that made us Filipino. Without the colonial experience, probably I would have belonged to the Pangasinan nation. The solution lies on our capability to transcend those experiences, such that our aesthetic standard becomes transcendental.

If our aesthetic standard remains what is imposed on us, then we will continue to remain inferior. Synthesis of what had been in 1521 and have been since then is the starting point of the advancement of our civilization.

No more apologies for being Catholic. No more apologies for not being as Asian as the Chinese (as the Chinese would want us to believe). No more apologies for not being American or European.

Amen!

The two big news items yesterday were the botched beginning to the House hearings on impeachment, and the circus that was the Senate jueteng hearing.

The House activities began with an impeachment fiesta, courtesy of the Socialists; as one of them recounts,

I.Am. Exhausted. First day of the Committee on Justice deliberations on the impeachment complaint against Mistress of Misery and Queen of the Damned Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo here in Congress. Everyone (the staff of the progressive party-lists) has been running around like a bunch of headless chickens. The PPLs…tried… to launch “Bantay Impeachment” and it was, to my estimation, a middling success (it was chaos, pure and unadulterated chaos, and the activity was decided upon only YESTERDAY),but a success all the same. The food was served (Impeachpie and impeachie-pichie), the tarp arrived a tad late but at least it got there, and the media clicked and shot footage of our lawmakers eating the said impeachie foods.

The PCIJ gives a full account of the actual issues involved and noticed, too, the symbolism involved in the day’s events (other news reports here and here). Carlos Conde reported it as a harsh beginning. For Impeachmentwatch, it was, simply, the beginning. Bel Cunanan says it was a great start.

Jove reports that far from the maddening House crowd, the President basked in the adoring warmth of the people of Cebu. Meanwhile, a confidential memorandum on the legal strategies of the President’s lawyers was apparently leaked to media. Read the entry, then read Punzi’s lecture on initiating impeachment complaints.

The other news was a military officer turned witness against the administration. PCI summarizes the testimony. Jove sheds light on how the Palace is spinning the story. Sef found the whole thing garbage. Personally, I found myself, oddly enough, in agreement with Miriam Defensor Santiago: when will it all end? I even had to nod my head at Juan Ponce Enrile’s cautioning fellow senators to consider that they will, very soon, most likely become senator-judges again.

My Inquirer column for today is Faith instead of fear, which discusses a “Blueprint for a viable Philippines”. PCIJ gives some background and provides information, on the blueprint. I’m trying to figure out a way to post the PDF here.

The column triggered a series of text messages from a British journalist friend, which bear quoting:

I support charter change not because I fear the people, which if it were given as reason for the change (which it is not) would indeed be a bad reason, but because Parliamentary systems tend to work well, largely because they strengthen party systems and reduce personalism, thus giving people a genuine choice based on policies and recent performance. You nowhere refer to the substantial academic literature on this issue, which tends to reinforce the common-sense observation that, outside the US, Parliamentary systems have a better track record.

[Parliamentary government is] not about disenfranchising the masses. On the contrary, empowers them.

As you know from the Federalist Papers, the US system was designed to restrain democracy… an objective successfully achieved! European parliamentary systems represent the people much better, which is why social democracy thrives there.

[Will parliamentary government here not end up a one party dictatorship?] Difficult to predict! But your [the Filipinos] big lacks are a) coherent parties b) clear choices between different track records. The parliamentary system can deliver these, though it will take time for coherent parties to consolidate.

Messages such as these, and appeals for genuine change, and not to fear its possibilities, eloquently made by people like Sassy Lawyer, do make me wonder. I am not quite sold on pure parliamentary government, though I do think the cabinet in great part should come from the lower house, and I am more inclined toward directly electing a president than having a Prime Minister. However, since PM’s the world over increasingly campaign like presidents (see the U.K. and Israel, even Italy), perhaps it’s quibbling over details. I do think though that if we had a PM, he will be stronger, more difficult to remove, and more dictatorial, than any president in recent decades. And I won’t budge on one thing: whatever legislature we have, it must be a bicameral one. Incidentally, Arab News columnist Samar Fatany has a good column on a recent symposium on institutions and democracy.

In the punditocracy, my Arab News column for the week is Peace Turned to Poisoned Present (and incidentally, my Arab News column comes out Wednesdays now, not Thursdays as before). Juan Mercado compares the charter change debate to a cage full of bananas:

Today’s banana cage of political primates won’t provide that milieu. Legislators have devalued congressional hearings into stands for massive perjury by stool pigeons and seamy bagmen. Who would entrust recasting a constitution to moral ciphers?

We’d welcome Charter change drafted by delegates elected to a convention. That will be possible only if both the administration and opposition handle today’s impeachment process far better than the aborted Estrada trial.

My only misgiving about a constitutional convention is that without a preexisting deadline, it will just talk itself to death. I’m actually more optimistic about a consultative commission to sound out the public, then report to Congress, which, armed with a national consensus, could more efficiently achieve constitutional change. After the impeachment.

Connie Veneracion writes on education, in a column that includes this little chestnut:

A century ago, education was a privilege of the rich — something akin to high culture. Children of the rich were sent to universities and finishing schools not so much to learn any valuable skills to prepare them for the real world — to earn a living — but as a status symbol. In short, education was elitist.

I don’t know if the status symbol part is accurate; education was about culture, something that goes beyond the interests of the ruling class, and instead, points to a particular attitude towards education (which survives in the retention of so-called “G.E.” courses, and the idea of a humanistic education -that education aims at the well-rounded individual). Veneracion confuses universities with finishing schools.

Moving on, Antonio Abaya mounts another blast against Federalism; J.A. de la Cruz focuses on how the AFP is being damaged by the political crisis.

The blogosphere has Edwin Lacierda wondering what’s happened to the Ombudsman; JJ Disini happy over Zuce’s documents being on line; Nagpakabanang Surigaonon convinced Dinky Soliman is a liar; Cyberbaguioboy mulling over the ever-increasing quantity of data we produce and carry around; Clickmomukhamo dissecting “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can do to Help our Country” (I met the author when we both addressed the Galing! Filipino Movement; he’s a soft-spoken, extremely earnest ex-PMA student, a great admirer of Mahathir and Park of Korea). BuzzMachine speaks up in favor of citizen-journalists. And, finally:

An invitation.
SPREAD THE LIGHT. BANISH THE DARKNESS
August 20, 2005 at exactly 6:00 pm.

When an ordinary citizen steals, would an “I am sorry” be enough? When an ordinary citizen lies, would an “I am sorry” be enough? When an ordinary citizen cheats, would an “I am sorry” be enough?

Ask yourself: If you are an employee and your employer catches you cheating, lying and stealing — will an “I am sorry” be sufficient or a “lapse of judgment” be accepted? Or would you stand to lose your job?

What is our country coming to if we hold ordinary Filipinos to higher and stricter standards than we hold the highest official of the land?

This is not to say that the President of the Philippines is guilty of all that she is being accused of. It is only to say two different standards of rules – one for the powerful and one for the powerless — cannot exist if ours is to be a truly democratic and pluralistic society.

This is not the country we want. And so perhaps it is time we do something about it.

If you believe, as we do, that it is time for ordinary Filipinos to stand up and be counted in the fight for TRUTH — as well as for Transparency, for Responsibility, for Unity, for Trust and for Hope — then join us in a simple demonstration of our collective sentiments.

On August 20, Saturday, at exactly 6pm, take a few moments to light a candle in demonstration of our collective effort to take this country back from all who have not been true to it and to all of us ordinary citizens – and to be the first step in bringing about the light that will banish the darkness that hovers over our land!

Spread the light. Banish the darkness. August 20, 2005 at exactly 6:00pm.

CITIZENS FOR TRUTH
Transparency. Responsibility. Unity. Trust. Hope.

13 comments

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  1. Ed

    I only have one problem about the talks of parliamentary system and how it will just turn to 2 party system and all the bruhaha that is called advantage of it. Have we even considered what kind of politicians we have here? I admit that all these politicians are as inept and ball less than that visa commercial where catherine zeta jones just offered banana in exchange of those bags. They are lower class than those monkeys.

    just my thought about the matter. I like the way our election runs ( cos I recieved like 3000 pesos just to vote from 2 different candidates but didint vote when election comes ) I still like our current government

  2. torn

    Is it really true that parliamentary systems “have a better track record” than presidential systems. What about Italy? The Weimar Republic? The French Fourth Republic? I still believe that changing the political system here will not change much — it is the political culture that influences the way the system works, and not vice versa. I am convinced that a parliamentary system would be more chaotic than the current system.

    More than one person has pointed out to me the cultural similarities between Filipinos and Italians (the Pinoys of Europe). If that is true, Filipinos should look take a long hard look at the post-war political history of Italy before rushing into a change that may leave the country even worse off than it is at present.

  3. mlq3

    Torn: my italian friend says that, too. If you read Barzini’s “The Italians,” Filipinos sound amazingly Sicilian. A French friend says we’re like the French too, in our quarrelsomeness and insistence on overwhelming majorities before they follow anyone!

  4. mlq3

    Ed: that’s a problem FVR and company can’t explain away -what if people are content with the mess we have?

  5. R.

    Hey, I agree with that Republika ng Pilipinas post. I’ve been saying the same thing all along; I just couldn’t find better words.

  6. Shannelle

    Hi Sir,

    This line caught my attention : “And I won’t budge on one thing: whatever legislature we have, it must be a bicameral one.” Will you care to expound on that? I just started following your blog early this month and currently have no idea on your stand on that so my apology on this simple matter >.

  7. Shannelle

    (continuation… – i didn’t know the greater-than sign can cut short my comment)

    And how will a bicameral legislation fit into a parliamentary form of government? Won’t the present form defeat the purpose of having a parliamentary system where there’s a sort of union between executive and legislative branches? (Also, I always thought a parliamentary form has only one legislative body.)

  8. The Royalist Manoling Morato for Empress Movement

    There are only two groups who have no qualms about the Spanish colonial history in the Philippines: the Moros, coz they have by and large been never defeated by the Spaniards, and the Kapampangans because they have by and large helped the Spaniards conquer the Philippines. All the other groups are losers with a big L.

  9. Ed

    Manoling morato for something,

    You forgot to add those who have spanish bloods 🙁

  10. Arbet

    As I have said before, one part of the system being broken doesn’t mean the entire system is broken also. It’s the people that is the problem.

    I also believe that in a unicameral parliamentary system it will be easier for a politically-savvy individual to control the parliament, through compromises and pork barrel.

    Changing the political system is no guarantee that things will be better. For as long as the same kind (of character) of people get into positions of power, it will just the same as before.

  11. Roel M.

    Hi MLQ3:

    I’ve been reading your blog here for a while and I find it to be quite informative. Keep up the good work.
    From my superficial acquaintance with pol. science, your British friend seems to be quite correct in referring to the substantial academic literature on the subject. A significant wave of studies has been triggered by Juan Linz’s work on presidentialism and parliamentarism. They have come to at least two conclusions. One is that institutional design (form of gov’t) matters. Second is that parliamentary regimes tend to be more durable than presidential regimes. An interesting article by Bruce Ackerman is found at
    http://www.edesp.edu.br/files/eventos/papers/Ackerman.pdf

    Another interesting piece by Arturo Valenzuela with specific reference to Latin America:
    http://www.georgetown.edu/sfs/programs/clas/profs/av/linzfest.htm

    I believe that constitutional arrangements are made for the people and not the people for the constitutional arrangements. If the arrangements do not work, let’s try out something different. Our closest parallels with respect to culture and form of government are with Latin America and to put it mildly, their experience with presidentialism has not been good.

  12. lani

    The problem is not the system but the people who run the system.

  13. mlq3

    Shanelle,will look it up for you, tnx.

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