Last night Ces Drilon had me on her show to discuss the CBCP’s most recent pastoral statement. While Philippine Commentary takes a contemptuous view of the document (Banketa Republique is more positive), his entry has an illuminating extract from the writings of Pope Benedict XVI. The present pontiff presents a clear, and dare I say, exceedingly Teutonic, defense of the separation of Church and State.
My own views on the pastoral statement:
- The most news worthy thing about it is it categorically rejects coups as a means of resolving anything. Will this set back coup plotting efforts? I think so. Particularly Right-Left alliances for this purpose.
- The Palace has reason to be upset; as do groups opposed to the President. Truth Commission and Independent Prosecutor proposals could possibly gain new currency.
- The pastoral statement mends fences with disgruntled clergy, religious, and the laity.
- The call to reinvigorate the basic communities of the Church means two things: reminding the faithful they failed to listen to the bishop’s injunction to reflect on the issues; and it is a flexing of the Church’s own machinery in case of a showdown with the politicians on the issue of Charter change.
- They insist that the public remain bound by the parameters of the Constitution, at least for now. In so doing, they define the issues as determined by people’s attitudes to the Constitution.
- This has defined the next, major showdown: over the No Election proposal and Charter Change. With the President and the Speaker having jointly demolished Fidel V. Ramos, the direction the bishops are taking puts them headed in a direction where their positions will converge with Cory Aquino’s. While Aquino seemed diminished by the failure of her call for the President to resign, she has remained consistent; her strength is recovering while that of other leaders is waning.
- The inability of the politicians in the opposition to sacrifice will become even more of a liability to their efforts, as the bishops hammer away at the moral dimensions of Charter Change. The much-awaited tipping point? Cha-Cha? Possibly; certainly in a manner much more conducive to People Power.
- New basis for unity among skeptical or disgruntled groups mistrustful of politicians: the bishops’ endorsement of Comelec and electoral reform. Their opposition to a Constitutional Commission or a Constituent Assembly. Their openness to a Constitutional Convention. The politicians can be measured by their answer to a few direct questions: do you support an immediate and thorough Comelec revamp (regardless of what this means for your election prospects if the effort fails)? Will you refuse to serve in any government established as a result of the administration-led Charter Change initiative? Will you support or condemn a coup? I think these three questions will reveal which politicians can be trusted by the middle forces.
In its letter to the bishops, the Black & White Movement (of which I am a convenor) pointed to the story of Jesus asking Peter thrice if he loved him, and when Peter would say yes, Jesus would reply, “feed my sheep.” In a similar manner, the bishops have replied to that question twice. If Bishop Teodoro Bacani is any guide, we may all have to wait for a third message from the bishops. A matter of months may not be so long; it took sixteen years from the first letter of Filipino bishops asking Ferdinand Marcos to be honest, to their final decision to declare the people absolved of allegiance to his regime.
If this is so, then perhaps we are going through a protracted period of drift, precisely to encourage people to become more politically mature. Rep. Teddyboy Locsin was saying on TV that the opposition kept on trying to manufacture an “Edsa moment,” during the hearings and impeachment, instead of doing proper lawyering. I remember making the remark that this is what happens when former Marcos lackeys try to get involved in People Power: it only comes at the end of the road, after all reasonable, legal, options have been tried. You can’t rush it or simulate it in the manner the opposition thought.
In the punditocracy, Juan Mercado has a brilliant column on the dangers of military messiahs.
Connie Veneracion renounces writing about politics -but really only wants to abandon writing about politicians. Bravo.
In the blogosphere:
kottke.org points to a famous bet, in which two journalists tackled the probability of blogs overtaking the New York Times as an authority on Google.
Pinoy Press seems to have the final say in the PCIJ and Bulletproof Vest copyright tussle (Torn & Frayed was un-amused by it all; Sassy Lawyer was un-amused at his being un-amused; Philippine Commentary commented, and his commenting was not found amusing, either by Sassy; check out perhaps the most star-studded thread in recent years).
Ah, comment threads: as seen in the example above, they can be such a problem! How much control is acceptable, or is commenting really necessary? Mediashift discusses the decision of the Washington Post to turn off commenting (except for the blogs it hosts); Online Journalism Review seems to think the issue concerns anonymous commenting specifically; BuzzMachine discusses the entire question of interactivity in the blogosphere. I myself am a believer in spam filters, ruthless as they can be, as essential; I tend to be permissive about comments, and have deleted only one commenter who was issuing death threats (oddly enough, not against me).
My Liberal Times takes exception to a commentary by Amando Doronila. Speaking of Liberals, To See & Log points out Ronnel Lim (who has been disgracefully absent from the blogosphere) won an essay writing contest sponsored by them.
Another Hundred Years Hence has an interesting entry on heritage housing and rent control. Adel Gabot spots a Filipina newscaster who left for America, playing a bit role on an American TV series (as a newscaster!).
Slip of the pen on commas (would it be that I could wax eloquently on semicolons!).
Batang Baler does a masterful roundup of media reports of the floods there, with commentary (this blog is rapidly developing as a model of community-oriented blogging; more towns and provinces should have similar, non-government blogs).
Technology writer Chin Wong announces he has a blog, thanks to the inspiration of Sassy Lawyer. It’s at chinwong.com. Also, World Famous in the Philippines has spun off a new blog, Thud! Splat! Blog! And fish in a bowl is back to blogging.
The Philippines Free Press blog republishes two articles on the 36th and 35th anniversaries of their publication, respectively: That Marcos Foundation (January 31, 1970) and Malacañang vs. Meralco (January 30, 1971).