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Sep 30

State of Confusion

The day has been topsy-turvy what with the news flying thick and fast, some of it false. The false news came fairly early in the day: a supposed walkout from their classes by cadets at the Philippine Military Academy. The other news was a meeting of grumpy old generals and a (apparently hastily-scheduled) command conference held by the President at Camp Crame (“loyalty check,” media said; simply a “full briefing,” the Palace said). The National Police dutifully announced it will comply with the President’s controversial Executive Order. The President followed her meeting with words aimed at the Senate which no president other than Marcos has made (if you think the President today is being persecuted by the Senate, look back on how presidents Quirino, Garcia, and Macapagal fared: the present Senate is treating her with kid gloves in comparison). Apparently taking the lead in an offensive against the Senate, including the Senate President.

Speaking about the controversial Executive Order, in a delightful balancing act, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court says neither the President nor the Senate have stepped out of constitutional bounds. Before you run off and start barking at the senate, read the description of its powers, including the non-legislative power of investigation and its contempt power. Then read Fr. Bernas and Edwin Lacierda, here and here, on the concept of “executive privilege,” and a further whimsical look by Lacierda at the executive order here. Then read Newsstand’s views on the order. Then read the relevant parts of the Constitution and our laws:

Article II, Declaration of State Policies

Section 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.

Article III, Bill of Rights

Section 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

Article VI, Legislative Department

Section 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in, or affected by, such inquiries shall be respected.

Section 22. The heads of departments may, upon their own initiative, with the consent of the President, or upon the request of either House, as the rules of each House shall provide, appear before and be heard by such House on any matter pertaining to their departments. Written questions shall be submitted to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives at least three days before their scheduled appearance. Interpellations shall not be limited to written questions, but may cover matters related thereto. When the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the appearance shall be conducted in executive session.

Since I have often condemned the existing political provisions of the Penal Code of the Philippines as a relict of colonial times, there’s this, which is being used by the administration:

Reference to Article 229 (Book II, Section Three):

Section Three. — Revelation of secrets
Art. 229. Revelation of secrets by an officer. — Any public officer who shall reveal any secret known to him by reason of his official capacity, or shall wrongfully deliver papers or copies of papers of which he may have charge and which should not be published, shall suffer the penalties of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, perpetual special disqualification and a fine not exceeding 2,000 pesos if the revelation of such secrets or the delivery of such papers shall have caused serious damage to the public interest; otherwise, the penalties of prision correccional in its minimum period, temporary special disqualification and a fine not exceeding 50 pesos shall be imposed.

Art. 230. Public officer revealing secrets of private individual. — Any public officer to whom the secrets of any private individual shall become known by reason of his office who shall reveal such secrets, shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos.

There are those who view the President’s recent order reasonable, under the separation of powers. But the Constitution protects only heads of departments, who, as cabinet members, are considered alter egos of the President. Once a person accepts an invitation, however, he or she, even if a cabinet member, is fair game: that is why they can have access to counsel if they so choose (Sec. Norberto Gonzalez apparently thought it not necessary to have counsel). I would hazard to think that in any other presidential system, including the American one, an order of the nature issued by the President at 1:30 a.m. in the morning on the day officers were to testify before the Senate, would be viewed as an usurpation of powers.

Then of course, predictions came true, and Hacienda Luisita is on the way to being broken up But the big news of the day has been the resignation of Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo. (What is an Ombudsman? It’s in Article XI, Secs. 5-14 of the Constitution).

And AM radio merrily reports troop movements.

19 comments

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  1. joselu

    Manolo I have seen so many “in aid of legislation hearings”. Honestly I never saw any conclussions. What I remember is humiliations and the Senators fully performing to the cameras, not to mention people & names maligned, headlines the next day, but than nothing.
    I don’t pretend to know the Law. Although I know the spirit of the Law is about justice & fairness.
    I’m glad that PGMA put down her foot.
    Not because the Law allows the senators to do investigations & hearings, it means that they can only be correct. The law can only be as good as the people who are using it. They can use it for the good or they can use it to go on a witchhunt. Like I already said in the past the Senators where pikon that the impeachment did not reach them and they will do everything in their powers to get back at PGMA.Sec. Gonzales was the first casualty.
    The Senate has been giving us nothing but “entertainment”!!!!!
    Are They really doing the work they where elected to do?
    Why are they just sitting on so many pieces of legislation?
    Manolo, Fr. Bernas maybe a wise man but his not the SC.
    Is it fair that a project like the North Rail be derailed just when so much work has already been done & it can affect our relations w/ China?
    Drilon knew of it long before.Why the delayed reaction only now.
    Do we really want our destiny to be determined by dirty partisan politics & associate it w/ democracy!
    Manolo, we are creating a monster of a democracy!
    Why don’t we have the courage to tell our politicians to shut-up and get down to work!
    The Senators must really be pissed. They have been deprived of performinmg for the cameras.
    They no longer have any subjects to fest on!
    How can they gradstand!

  2. emilie

    this whole soap opera just shows what happens to a country when its upper crust have lost its sanity and objectivity. The middle and lower class just pretend the leaders dont exist anymore for a good reason …they only make their lives miserable.
    The media keeps on egging the soldiers to take action and I am sure even Manolo gets excited by it but then…a)the constitutional soldier will not march until there is a critical mass b) the soldier who will march without critical mass will wage a bloody grab for power for sure because there is nobody shorter than GMA who can take her place..alas an emperor will rise and there will be peace at the expense of freedom no less. we should think well indeed about the consequences. what Cristian Monsod said is a very good option we should help GMA do the right thing.

  3. F.

    Why do I get the feeling we’re all packed in the living room watching the absorbing telenovela of politics while our sinaing burns to a crisp in the kitchen? What do we do later? Those with money will eat out, others will order McDonald’s or pizza, while others without will have to depend on the kindness of others.

    It has come to a point where I dont care how Gloria got there, or how the military became a fat, weak worm, or why senators and congressmen love the powers of congressional investigations. What really bothers me is their same absorption with political power plays, to the detriment of their job performance. Oh impeach them all, fire them all! This country needs a paternalistic dictator to crack the whip, just like the sultans and datus of old, but we are too stuck with American-fed gospel of democracy to admit it–even if it goes against our instincts and our culture. And because of this lingering colonial mindset, we havent produced a Lee Kuan Yew or a Mahathir to lead us out of the morass. What we produced are charlatans and weaklings in the officialdom, quarelling their way to power till kingdom come.

  4. Expedito C. Mercado

    Thanks God, there is a senate and there is “aid of
    legislation hearings.” At least, there is a legal
    venue where GMA cannot use her “carrot and stick”
    approach to be glued or grow and glow at Malacanang.

    The senate has its own shortcomings, but it is not an excused for people to think that the ongoing hearings are nothing but grandstanding or witch hunting.Those senators were elected by the people and not by the machinations of a missing GARCI. It is also not entertaining to see Gonzales dodging questions to protect his president.

    Legal experts like Bernas, should be commended. They analyze and explain the provisions of the constitutions to the non lawyers. Justices of the supreme courts are appointed by the president and oftentimes rule in appointing power favor. During Marcos time, only two justices had the courage to dissent!

    GMA must be really mad and confused. She cannot and will not be able to govern effectively if she keeps on ignoring the truth and the mess she brought to herself. How can she expect government officials, elected or not, to be honest and hardworking when she is the epitome of dishonesty, corruption and crookedness.

    Oh how she talks to GOD,

  5. JMCastro

    I don’t really find politics relevant in every day life.

    I find Philippine politics interesting to read and talk about. But outside of that, except for the previous People Power gatherings, there isn’t much I have done by way of attending protest actions because I have work to do. I pray once in while for our country, and I make it a point to vote my conscience in every election (I haven’t voted a winner even once). This is just about as civic as I think I can practically get.

    Honestly, I think it is more useful for me to hear tsismis about politics in horse racing, because at least it helps me make decisions on my semi-regular WTA (winner-take-all), Pick5 and Pick6 bets at my local OTB (off-track-betting) station. At least I do that a couple of times in a month.

    After reading so much about politics, the time it really counts is when I vote, or when People Power happens.

    That said, this is my grain of salt on things:
    1.) Ramos, JDV, and the Senate stand for certain things. Hats off to them, since I know what they want, rightly or wrongly.

    2.) Oil prices are up, so all of us would have to tighten our belts — PGMA is making sense when she takes that position. Maybe she ought to look at corruption and pork barrel first, though, before she increases taxes.

    3.) PGMA’s conversations with Garcillano, while questionable, is so far defensible since only shady characters like Zuce have substantiated it.

    4.) PGMA really ought to have taken better control of her husband and her son. The jueteng allegations by Archbishop Cruz really primarily hits her son Mikey, and the new allegations by Gen. Gudani really hits at her husband Mike. Everything else, like that weird jueteng-election link, is questionable in my opinion.

    5.) This last one is a question: with so much crap going her way, why the heck does PGMA still want to cling to the presidency? It must be torture going to work everyday for PGMA.

    I can’t help but take a potshot at one of you, but I kinda think that if Lee Kuan Yu and Mahathir were born Filipinos, they wouldn’t get anywhere in this country unless the majority were muslims, or chinese. The closest thing we got was Marcos, a true Filipino politician, and look at where it took us. I honestly think that Marcos without the cronies would’ve been great for the Philippines, but I don’t know if any dictator can rise up here without cronies.

  6. Carl

    Unfortunately, there are no heroes in this zarzuela playing before our eyes. The cast of characters are a bunch of wimps, snits, pygmies and snoops. The closest thing to a knight in shining armor is a corrupt, underequipped military which is being enticed, goaded and stirred-up by a craven opposition which can’t even carry out its own designs. The military should by now be asking why they always have to do the dirty work for others.

  7. mariatoo

    in aid of legislation ba ang only reason why senators conduct hearings? doesnt the legislative branch have oversight functions as well? check and balance ba. e sino na lang ang makaka imbestiga ng mga anomalya tulad ng venable contract? ang executive branch? funny ha. imagine kung di yan inimbestigahan ng senado? kung secret ang kontrata, paano na kung may nakuhang pera yung lobby group? secret rin ang pagtanggap? secret rin ang paggastos? the point is the senate and the house have the right to question the actuation of the executive branch as part of its oversight functions.

  8. mlq3

    as the comments above shows, we remain divided. my attitude toward the military is simple: clean up their barracks instead of worrying about the civilians fighting outside their camps.

  9. joselu

    Manolo, yes, we are sadly divided.
    Although, I would like to beleave that I know what I want.
    Although soldiers & cops have guns. They just can’t point it at anyone at will and fire it cause there are rules.
    In the same way,our politicians/Senators must be prudent & careful on how they too use their powers.
    Are we so naive not to see their egos and ambitions to ay the least.
    Marcos too used the Law to justify his actions.
    Maybe so we see where we really stand we must make a list of the things we agree w/ & disagree w/.
    !.Is it really nessesary for hearings to be broadcasted live?
    2.Do we approve of the language & behavior of the Senators in the Gonzales hearing.
    3.Do we like more of the same?
    4.Do we really beleave the Senators continue to sit on Laws passed to them by the lower house?
    5.Was the e-vat law a real product of minds working together or just a flawed law passed by Senators protecting their back?
    6.Is freedom for us equivalent to everybody being able to do his thing or must there be dicipline too?
    7.Is Cory Aquino really looking for the truth or just spreading her”gospel”?
    Manolo, there are so many question yet we have to answer truthfully.
    8.Do we really want to move on or are we just so additicted to bringing down goverments,intrigue,hearsay etc….
    Who are we Pinoys?
    What are we ready to do in first person in order to deserve our dreams?

  10. mlq3

    joselu:

    1. Yes. In fact it is healthy for Congress to have every minute of every session of both houses broadcast live. that includes committee hearings. In the USA you have C-Span 1 for the House and C-Span 2 for the Senate. We should broadcast all the time, not only some of the time. It’s either that, or go to Congress every day, to find out what they’re doing.
    2. Yes and No. If yes, elect them again. If no, you have a basis not to elect them.
    3. No. We want less of the same and more of something new, and we have to figure out the new we want.
    4. They should. That’s what the Senate’s for. Go through the list of the bills passed by the House, and see just how many you think are really deserving of becoming laws. I have written before, the concept of delay is precious to a democracy.
    5. The e-vat was proposed by GMA. It was lobbied for by GMA. She said it was absolutely essential. Congress passed it. Then she’s delaying it.
    6. Freedom is about rights and obligations, yes. But when those rights begin to be limited, you have to resist that, because then it becomes only obligations, and when it’s only about obligations, that’s servitude. It’s like this: would reasonable people be so angry if something awful wasn’t going on?
    7. If GMA made herself accountable to the people, do you think Cory would be marching? If Ramos hadn’t tried to perpetuate herself in office, would Cory have marched? If Estrada hadn’t made a mess of the country, would Cory have marched?
    8. We want to move on. The President is the obstacle to moving on. And let me tell you this: when there are such serious charges against any President, only in the Philippines would you have people wanting to move on. In most other democracies the president would have resigned by now, or there would be a revolution. We are such a patient and law-abiding people, that despite everything, we are still insisting on a legal, peaceful way to resolve this.

    What are we ready to do in the first person? Stand up for our dreams.

  11. fencesitter

    what can i say! Manolo, you just said the sentiments we, ordinary citizen are trying to express but are not so much equipped or articulate to say the way you do. Bravo MLQ3!

  12. Carl

    Minor correction re EVAT, Manolo. I believe it was proposed by the IMF and imposed on GMA. She really had no choice on it, that is why she is half-hearted about it. The same thing with Congress and Senate. That is why they came up with such a badly-crafted piece of legislation. The EVAT is a bastard child nobody wants to be identified with. However, what the IMF wants, it normally gets. That is why, despite all the political posturing by the Executive and the Legislative, it will be imposed.

  13. emilie

    manolo, i really dont put any importance on ramos and cory whether they decide to march or not I dont care! I would not put any importance about their morality who are they anyway to impose their morality on others? My God they should examine their morality first if indeed their morality benefited this nation at all! It is us that matter! and until the majority of us become convinced about the soundness of the path that we will take then WE WILL MOVE ON TOGETHER. At this time there is basically no one who can articulate what the majority wants..forgive me but not even the SURVEY CAN CAPTURE WHAT THE MAJORITY WANTS! SO ALL THESE PULSE ASIA AND SWS SHOULD LOOK AT THEMSELVES ALSO BECAUSE they seem to serve what they wish only. .in manufacturing when we see that defect exceeds 5% tolerance we conduct a 100% check to make sure we get the right conclusion..what shocks we no end is that as divided as we are as a nation the sampling of SWS for instance is ONLY 300 or 1200 in a nation of 88 million… and yet their conclusion makes it to the HEADLINE! no wonder up to now there is no PEOPLE POWER as they articulated…nor did GMA win in Metro Manila as they predicted..

  14. JMCastro

    The reason why I think people are divided here is because the politicians have done such a good job of throwing mud at everyone.

    1. Archbishop Capalla has mud in his face because of PCSO’s financial contributions to him. That guy ought to resign from CBCP so that the public can trust the Catholic Church again.

    2. I get the impression that congressmen in the lower house are just out to wait for their pork barrel, and their under-the-table perks and envelopes. Susmaryosep, they really crossed the line when they made that Committee on Justice report, showing that they would twist the law to fit their own interest.

    3. The opposition is too dead-set in trying to remove PGMA through attacks on her alleged election cheating and her family’s jueteng involvement. They ought to focus also on the economy and COMELEC. PGMA has been in office for 5 years — why hasn’t there been opposition debates on her economic record during that time? Shouldn’t they be training their guns also on the other COMELEC commissioners as well? That’s why I find that there is some credence in administration claims that opposition just wants to replace PGMA, but in all other respects just maintain the status quo.

    4. I read that one worker in Cory’s Hacienda Luisita was paid Php 17.00 after all the deductions were made to his salary — what’s the real score on that?

    With all the mud being thrown around, just about the only people I want to rally behind on are the senators. Even their partisanship makes sense, knowing the difference between prejudgement and bias. Bias: “If I can legally commit myself to my side, I will do so”. Prejudgement: “No matter what happens, I am committed to my side”. I like the way administration senators show their biases, but I don’t like the way administration congressmen prejudged PGMA’s impeachment.

    That said, I don’t like PGMA because her people are the ones doing most of the mudslinging. The opposition will never succeed if what they do is just to descend to that level of mudslinging also. My hope is that the Senate will show us the way towards principled opposition.

  15. joselu

    Thanks manolo, your great
    1. Manolo, if the States does it, it’s not writen anywhere that we should do it to.My point is if they are doing a good job, we must be able to see the results even w/o live coverage.If we elect them I don’t want them just to be grandstanding in front of the cameras.Yes Manolo, new things is about things that others don’t do.Coverage can be on a limited basis’
    2.Why not alredy now tell Pimentel now what he did was not at all Honorable.And make it known to all senators that we are watching them.Their constitutional obligation are one thing. How they use them is another thing.
    3. Yes Manolo we want them to get busy working.With the way the Senate acts there is no way that even a saint can have anything done in this country.maybe before a contract is finaly signed it must literaly pass through the Senate.If they are questioning North Rail to be over priced by the time that it will really be done the price will double.Just as it has been w/ the MRT projects.
    I think there must be a cut-off point where the senate can investigate.
    4.They must Manolo, real work can be boring.but those are the little things that will move this country to progress.
    5.I don’t think PGMA is delaying it.It’s the endless questions to the SC court.I have been reading different opinions on how the law was crafted & if I understood right it has several parts that can be endlesly questioned.Than there is the mystery & magic that happen in the bicam commiti.
    6.Cory was a President,it’s impossible that she does not know the great dificulties to get things done.It’s impossibel not to dirty your hands if ou really want to get things done.I remember the brownouts.I remember how her administration did not really do much.maybe that is why because her hands are clean.
    I think that she has not digested well that she went on National TV to tell PGMA to resign and nothing happned so now she is doing a personalized thing.I think she is simplifying things so much.It is as clear as the sun that she wants PGMA to resign.It’s a lot of dang that is is looking for the truth.Than why is she gathering signitures after preaching her gospel!
    Manolo, did you ever learn anything in a monolog?
    I think ideas to be tested must always swing bought ways.
    Do u know for every idea & concept we say to a hundred people, it can be understood in a hundred ways.
    So you can just imagine what effect a garci tape has!
    The best years of my life was when I was working w/ the youth.not that I’m old, just that I started young.And I discovered how important it is to listen.It’s the greatest learning experience.
    The other day when I read in the blog of one being sick and tired and so on or just giving up.I thought it to be really sad.
    If there is anything to do it’s about giving hope and never stop asking why until we get a satisfactory answer.
    Thanks Manolo for this blog, it’s a good way of ticking peoples imagination.
    yes Manolo, resignation is not an accepted option just like defeat is never accepted.maybe it’s something that has to do w/ our cultural values.Our scandals are different.It’s not because of right & wrong.It has always very personal reasons.They are not really scandals but more of paninira.It’s aboaut your enimies wanting to bring you down.It’s a culture of malicious minds.

  16. Alex

    Divided, is usual in democratic states. In the US, for example, the country is almost equally divided between the blue and red states, the liberals and conservatives, the pro-Iraq and anti-Iraq war. The last two presidential elections have been so contested, especially the first of the two, with many believing that Dubya’s win was orchestrated more by his friends in the Supreme Court than by a mandate. But the opposition licked their wounds and grudgingly accepted the Constitutional process. The people themselves, for the most part, went along with Dubya, as it became clear that this choice is better than tearing the nation apart.

    We, however, are not just divided. No, that’s not the problem. We are dysfunctional. We don’t relent and compromise even as the country goes to pieces. In politics we are like children. It would be nice to just blow up the whole government para walang gulo. We would all be better off. This excessive and pointless politicking is a humongous mess that gets in the way of what people really want and need in this country: earning a good living.

    Many of us are resigned a long time ago anyway that no matter what government we have, no matter who takes over, it would have little or nothing to do with earning a good living. So many of us prefer to just ignore the politics so long as this doesn’t get much in the way of want we need to do. Many of us like to see employment go up. Many of us want to see our paychecks increase. Many of us want to see more new businesses created and existing business thrive. Why? So we can feed our children, get them a good education, afford good healthcare, eat better food, travel the world, get an iPod for Christmas.

    Let’s not fool ourselves. Our democratic institutions are simply a veneer. We are not a nation, never been, although some heroes have tried to make us one. We just happen to be a bunch of people with a mixture of races and varying allegiances stuck in these islands. We are a dysfunctional society.

    I’m afraed, mlq3, that your fears that our country woould just be a stop for people to retire and visit, instead of a nation with a purpose, are coming true.

  17. absolut_vanill2000

    #3 “This country needs a paternalistic dictator to crack the whip, just like the sultans and datus of old…we havent produced a Lee Kuan Yew or a Mahathir to lead us out of the morass.”

    We already had a paternalistic dictator (Marcos). And so did (Suharto and Sukarno) our Datu and Sultan-ruled cultural brothers and sisters from the South-the Indonesians. Looked what happened to them.

    So Filipinos and Indonesian will try out democracy in the interim, given the datu style rule didn’t work.

    The problem with both our democracies is that there aren’t that many Chinese to begin with. Indo and Phils with 2 to 5 % chinese population each, will never be entrepreneurial. Malaysia had the “historical luxury” of having Indian and Chinese migrants, that is why their country progressed despite the autocracy-because a big proportion of the population will carry on with business inspite of the bad politics.

    If there’s anything to blame, it’s the lazy and one day millionaire Malay mentality that should be corrected by our leaders. Malaysia did it with its Bumiputera laws designed to correct the lazy Malay soul. Until Indonesia and Philippines does this our economy will always be ruled by the hardworking Chinese and the lazy native hacienderos.

  18. florie mae yong

    can you please give me a tagalog tranlation of the state of confusion

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