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.
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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ to earn a living Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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:
SPREAD THE LIGHT. BANISH THE DARKNESS
August 20, 2005 at exactly 6:00 pm.
When an ordinary citizen steals, would an Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am sorryÃ¢â‚¬Â be enough? When an ordinary citizen lies, would an Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am sorryÃ¢â‚¬Â be enough? When an ordinary citizen cheats, would an Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am sorryÃ¢â‚¬Â be enough?
Ask yourself: If you are an employee and your employer catches you cheating, lying and stealing Ã¢â‚¬â€ will an Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am sorryÃ¢â‚¬Â be sufficient or a Ã¢â‚¬Å“lapse of judgmentÃ¢â‚¬Â 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ as well as for Transparency, for Responsibility, for Unity, for Trust and for Hope Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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.