My column for today is Atienza’s rump. As a fellow columnist texted me, “the 4 words that highlight the effective strategy being applied by his enemies against Drilon are Oust, Isolate, Negate Kayo. Acronym OINK.” A commenter gives the Rump’s counter-view (the view from the rear, as it were; a posterior position). Update: a news report says Liberal Party elder statesman Jovito Salonga has offered to mediate the party’s differences (hence, it seems, the LP meeting at the Club Filipino tomorrow has been postponed). Salonga’s terms, however, are harsh:
“The Atienza faction should cease acting, in any way or manner, as a puppet or captive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On the other hand, the Drilon faction should avoid legitimizing the tainted Comelec [Commission on Elections] officials by filing, or prosecuting a petition, already filed,” he said.
Billy Esposo says the President is losing the battle of the minds. Boo Chanco, in his Star column, says there are seven lessons from the President’s recent actions (I’ll quote them because Star has nonexistent permanent links):
One, they have to do a lot of fence mending with the military. There is obviously a lot of resentment going around that can spark an uprising when no one is looking…
Secondly, they found out in the short week of emergency status that people are no longer in the mood to go out in another people power exercise. The surveys of SWS and Pulse Asia have been saying this for months now, but this was proven last week… the line, there is no choice but Ate Glue because she’s the devil we all know, still sells.
Thirdly, threatening press freedom can be dangerous because the backlash is not just domestic but also international…
Then again, it would also seem Arroyo administration officials feel a sense of “mission accomplished” because all they really wanted to do was to intimidate media. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez commented that one thing he learned from Proclamation 1017 was that even the “most rebellious media were intimidated by the proclamation and [as a result] had begun to reexamine their policies.” …
Fourthly, blaming the communists still work. Tainting the restive military officers with the red tag is still as effective as it had always been in the past… – because most of the people are annoyed with and distrust the left as much as, if not more than Ate Glue.
Fifth, they can depend on the courts to stay on the sidelines long enough for them to do what they want to do. By the time any rulings are made, it would have become moot and academic.
Sixth, they cannot disregard how the Americans would react to any suspension of the constitutionally guaranteed rights in a democracy…
Seventh, they found out who are the more dependable allies among local political personalities. Joe de V proved loyal as a dog but they have to write off FVR…
Why are the lessons from this experiment important? Maybe because Ate Glue has bigger plans for this country which requires more drastic measures than a mere declaration of emergency. She has to get some reasonable assurance that she can pull it off when she decides she wants to be queen.
Speaking of the battlefield of ideas, boys and girls, here is your next assignment. Cerge Remonde trumpets the Palace justification for unicameralism. Please demolish it.
A Fil-Am student at William & Mary pleads for democracy. Reuters reports the government is in for a tough road ahead. Too many people are unhappy. For example, the Mayor of Davao City is unhappy with National Telecommunications Commission guidelines.
Mongster’s Nest explains why it’s necessary to keep the National Democrats and others engaged in mainstream politics.
Bunker Chronicles compares Mrs. Arroyo to Mr. Chen of Taiwan.
The public thing is disturbed over the indifference people, particularly Filipinos abroad like himself, have shown toward recent events (I’m not; I asked a veteran of the anti-Marcos days and he said, “Marcos was always popular with Filipinos abroad to the very end”). After all, as Ellen Tordesillas points out, media’s still being intimidated (Philippine Commentary follows up with a rather dim view of Mike Defensor), and as Captain Aqua sadly relates, people are actually advocating dictatorship. Yet he has come up with brilliant insights such as this one:
GMA as brute husband and Filipinos not willing to divorce her because she feeds us and there is no one else to run to. Filipinos as submissive wife who has forgotten to love herself. We are the product of our soap operas.
Which reminds me…
Ricky Carandang beat me to posting about it, but much of this entry was written yesterday afternoon.
An interesting phenomenon arising from the political crisis is the battle of the epistles. Open letters have been widely circulating for some months now, many of them quite virulent in defending, if not the administration, then the refusal of those who refuse to participate in efforts to oppose it. Other letters attack the protagonists identified with the opposition. Others proclaim the virtues of the middle class, in comparison to the rest of the population. They even get translated.
What’s interesting about the letters is that they tend to be anonymous (though one seems to have a signed version, though most others have the same letter unsigned), though when it comes to those who re-post them on their blogs or forward them on e-mail, the subsequent endorsement is not. They capitalize on the instincts of those unwilling to take a stand: their fears of Communism, their dislike of the politicians, their contempt for their countrymen, and so on.
I’ve read one comment that suggests the letters are manufactured by the Palace propaganda department. Perhaps. What I do find encouraging, though, is that some who have responded to the letters do so under real names, and are therefore unafraid to argue back.
One notable example is by Yoly Ong, of Campaigns & Grey, who was active in the Raul Roco campaign. You can read her open letter, Poor Little Rich President.
Here are a few others. The first to fight back was Randy Valiente, who replied to the first anonymous Open Letter in 2005.
Then there’s this one, written just a week or so ago, from a guy in Mindanao:
I totally disagree with the Open Letter to Our
I am from Mindanao. And it is gloomy out here and it
is a mess. But we survive not because of the
government but because we no longer expect government
to help us. We, the people are the ones doing the
work of helping the less fortunate brothers of
Mindanao. We are the ones burdened by the
incompetence and the neglect of our government. We
try our best to make the best out of this very sad
situation we are in. We are also looking for ways to
make this government realize what a poor job they are
doing. I am angry with people who believe that we are
OK. We are not. I am in the academe. Statistics
shows the decline in the enrollment because parents
could not longer send their children to school. How
many talented students have dropped out in the middle
of the school year because their parents lost their
jobs. The peso is gaining strength but we do not feel
that here. Everyday is an emergency for the thousands
of people in Mindanao. An emergency because a lot do
not know where or how to get their next meal. Our
country is in a very pathetic state that is why, we
are doing our best to look for ways to remedy the
situation. We might not be in Edsa but we are one
with those who went to Edsa to express their disgust
with this government.
I believe that we should not demand from Cory and
company to give us an alternative. We should help in
looking for that alternative leader. If we love our
country we should not be contented with a leadership
that is immoral. We should look for that leader that
is not tainted with immorality. And we should not
leave the job of searching for this leader to Cory and
Company. We should be part of that quest.
This other is from a lady, who supports an anonymous counter-letter written in response to the latest “we are the middle class and we demand to remain indifferent” productions:
Salamat sa sulat na ipinadala ng isang middle class
pinoy worker na isang isang “officer sa isang malaking
korporasyon”, sa pamamagitan mo.
Kinikilala ko ang mga sintimyentong ipinahayag nya at
nakiki-isa pa sa ilang sa mga isinulat nya. Pero
gusto ko ring mabasa nya, at sana maintindihan, ang
takot at galit sa mga puso ng mga katulad nya ring
“middle class” (bagama’t kung sweldo ang magiging
sukatan ng pagiging middle class, ako’y nakasisiguro
na hindi ako aabot sa pamantayang ito dahil sa
kakarampot na sweldong tinatanggap ko sa trabaho ko sa
kasalakuyan, kung kaya’t ako pwede nang ihanay sa mga
Hindi ko po sinasagkaan ang tingin nya’y panggugulo
lamang ng ilan sa ating mga kababayan na hindi “tax
paying at productive Pinoys” na katulad nya. Hindi
naman yata tama na bilang empleyado sa isang malaking
korporasyon, sya lamang ang “tax paying at productive
Bagama’t totoong kakarampot ang mga kinikita ng
karamihan sa ating mga kababayan, hindi totoong hindi
sila nagbubuwis. Sa pagbili na lamang ng pang-araw
araw na pangangailan, ang mga kababayan nating ito ay
hindi rin nakakaiwas sa pagbayad ng sales tax. Sa
ngayon, ang 12% RVAT ay ipinatutupad hindi lamang sa
mga may sweldong katulad nya, kundi pati na rin sa mga
kababayan nating wala nga halos maipambili ng makakain
sa araw araw.
Hindi natin nakikita ang mga pagbubuwis na ito dahil
karamihan sa kanila ay madalang na bumili sa mga
malalaking tindahan kung saan may resibong ibinibigay
bilang katunayan ng pagbayad nila ng RVAT – kasi sa
sari-sari store lamang sila sa kanto bumibili ng mga
sardinas o noodles at ang mga tindahang ito ay hindi
naman nagbibigay ng resibo.
Hindi rin totoo na “Pag may mga gulo na nangyayari,
tayo ang tinatamaan”. Sa pang-araw-araw, may gulo man
o wala, ang kadalasang tinatamaan ng problema ay ang
mga mas mahihirap na kababayan natin. Halimbawa na pag
nagkakasakit ang isang myembro ng pamilya nila (na
madalas mangyari dahil sa kahinaan ng resistensya na
dahil na rin sa kawalan ng sustansya sa katawan), mas
malamang na mamatay ito kaysa kung ang nagkasakit ay
nanggaling sa isang “middle class” na pamilya. Kapag
may mga sakuna, ang unang tinatamaan ay ang mahihirap
Lalo na silang dehado pag may totoong gulo. Ang mga
middle class na katulad natin ay may mga paraan pa
para makaiwas. Kung magulo sa Maynila, pwede tayong
umuwi sa mga probinsya natin, o kung saan pang lugar
na medyo tahimik. Ang mga mahihirap ay walang
masyadong mapagpipilian kundi ang manatili sa kanilang
kinalalagyan at ipinanalangin na lamang na sana ay
hindi sila madamay.
Sa hiningi nyang “gantihan nyo kami ng magandang
serbisyo at magaling na pamumuno at malaking bawas sa
kurakot naman please para kahit papano maramdaman …”
ako’y naniniwalang ito’y hindi kusang ibibigay ng
sinumang inihalal na opisyal ng gobyerno sa
kasalukuyang sistema ng eleksyon. Ang eleksyon sa
atin ay pinopondohan ng kung sinu-sinong tao kung
kaya’t pag nanalo sila, kailangan nilang bayaran ang
mga perang ito. Ang kabayaran ay sa paraan ng
pagkurakot sa kaban ng bayan o kaya ang ang pagtalaga
ng mga sumuportang ito sa mga pwesto sa gobyerno kahit
upang makapangkurakot din.
Ang hinahangad nating “magandang serbisyo” ay makukuha
lang natin sa pamamagitan ng matiyagang pagmamatyag at
pagbabantay sa mga gawain ng ating mga opisyal nang
ang mga ito’y mapilitang gampanan ang kanilang mga
Maraming pa ang pwedeng sabihin bilang kasagutan sa
sulat mong ito pero gusto kong bigyang daan ang isang
sagot ng isang nakabasa ng sulat mo.
Heto ang sulat:
To the village idiot:
If you so-called middle-class arent heard its because
you all do not, I repeat, do not have the balls to
stand up to the tyrannical beast that is gloria
macapalmukha-arrovo. You are all in denail of what is
going on and as long as you receive your sweldo every
half month, you couldnt care less of what is happening
to the rest of the country. You couldnt care less
because you still have food on your table, a roof over
your head, clothes on your back and are able to send
your children to private schools. Well buster, ive got
news for you. At the rate this government bleeds the
people for more taxes to put in their already well
line pockets your middle-class status wont last very
long. So revel in it while you can.
If you think that you have exclusive rights to the
taxes that make this country’s wheels, that its your
so-called class that gets the brunt of burden that the
entire population has to carry then think again.
How much do you pay for your water bill? You have
piped in water which you do not have to carry in pails
at 10 pesos per pail from a handpump which is at least
a hundred meters from your home that you had to stand
in line for. But hey, thats not your concern right?
I’ll tell you what is. Soon you’ll have to satnd in
line like the rest because at the rate illegal logging
is being covered up by the administration, there wont
be enough watersheds to replenish the aquifers which
supply the rivers,lakes and dams with fresh water. You
will have to drink water from the Laguna bay. Aint
that just peachy?
And all those people displaced from the calamity
stricken areas will most likely move to the city to
seek jobs in order to survive. Then you get an
overcrowded metropolis teeming with unemployed
“non-middle class” people who increase the risk of
disease outbreaks, crime, moral depravity and
ignorance; though that’s not to say that ignorance is
a stranger to the “middle class”. Now that’s just for
When this happens what will the “middle-class” do?
Hide under the bed? Lock yourselves up in your ivory
towers? Perhaps you should migrate. Your taxes are of
no use to the people anyway since it only goes to the
pockets of a handful in government anyway. And if your
taxes are all you’re good for as a citizen, then it
appears that of no use at all.
Oh by the way, I too am middle class but i have never
and will never forgive the people responsible for the
cheating that went on in the last elections.
Isa rin middle-class na nagbabayad ng buwis at
nagbubuwis ng buhay para sa kapakanan nag karamihan
hindi para sa ikararami ng aking kapakanan.
And finally, fresh from an e-mail, this one by Enteng Romano, whom I have gotten to know and admire for his tireless work in the Black & White Movement:
The Right to Remain Silent
I am glad that the military incident and the subsequent proclamation of PP 1017 two weeks ago emboldened those of you, who previously stayed on the sidelines, to share your convictions. There are 2 emails making the rounds – “Why we are not out in the streets” and “Galing sa isang Middle-Class Pinoy” that are quite interesting.
I appreciate why people can identify with these email messages. I felt the same way during the days prior to EDSA 1. I was a middle manager at that time, trying to build a career, and when I saw the likes of Cory side by side with the reds pushing the economy to the brink as they began calling for civil disobedience, I was indignant. I told everyone I knew who participated in such exercise that it was sheer foolishness… that it was bringing the economy down. And that if they would only stop, then we can all go about our business of building up our careers, our personal fortunes, and by extension, the economy. Hard work is the key. Politics was just a necessary evil.
I did not know and didn’t mind the extent of pillage of our national treasury that Marcos and his cronies committed, nor the extent of human rights violations, including disappearances, happening around me. Really, it did not affect me directly, so I did not care.
And then EDSA 1 happened. People, led mostly by the middle class, came out. I was there, too, for 2 days, celebrating with the rest of the nation the end of a dictatorship, conveniently forgetting that only a few days before, I was all too willing to let Marcos rule forever, a bit embarrassed to be called a hero of EDSA, for simply being there.
EDSA 2 followed a similar path. While a committed few fanned the flames of discontent, the middle class waited on the sidelines until the opportune time to push the envelope proving once again that people power is a middle-class act. EDSA 3 only reinforced the idea. It failed because the middle class was conspicuously absent.
And now you tell us to stop the protests, because you have no intention of coming out to the streets and therefore people power will fail. You may be right – people power could fail. But that should not give you comfort, for it only opens up other forms of revolt – a peasant revolution, a military rebellion, or a communist takeover. When you have more than half of the people living in abject poverty, a restive military, and an oppressive regime – it’s a social volcano just waiting to erupt. And this time, it could be bloody.
You ask us why can’t we just redirect our energies towards building up the economy through productive work, like you do, instead of disruptive protest actions. You might be surprised to know that this is not a full-time job for us. Like you, we have a business to run or a job we try to keep. Beyond work, there are many in our ranks who are involved in civic projects through Rotary, Gawad Kalinga, and NGOs – trying to help in alleviating the conditions of our poor. So, please: you don’t have an exclusive claim to doing good for this nation, much less to patriotism.
You accuse us of being fools for allowing ourselves to be used by the leftists, Erap and Marcos forces, and other unscrupulous politicians to advance their agenda. We are not as naive as you think. We recognize that it is Erap’s right to dream of one day regaining his lost glory just as it is the leftists’ right to push their ideology within the bounds of law. In the same manner, we recognize it is your right to express your willingness for your basic rights and freedom to be curtailed or to settle for a president who is a cheat, a thief, and an oppressor. We may not agree with any of you, but we do not get angry like you do, when people espouse views different from ours. Such is the way of democracy. It is the same democracy that gives us the right to think of you as the bigger fools, for allowing yourselves to be used by GMA to prop up her repressive regime.
And now that you have finally decided to speak up, you claim to represent the silent majority. Where did you get this idea? The majority could be silent, but they do not necessarily share your sentiments. At least when we claim that 80% of our people believe GMA cheated and 54% wants her out, we have the surveys to back our claims. Whether or not they will act on what they believe in is another story. Soon – when the flurry of mail forwards bottom out – you will discover as we have, that this nation is hopelessly divided. And that is how GMA intends to keep it in order to cling on to power.
How, then, do we move forward?
If you, the middle class, sincerely believe that the future of this nation is in your hands, then I urge you to arise now, be heard, and take the lead. If you believe GMA staying on is the best option for our country today, then I call for leaders to rise among you, and organize yourselves to act on your belief. Lobby your congressmen to ban protests. Tell your president of your unequivocal support, regardless of her alleged cheating and thievery. Go to the streets in thousands, if not millions. But do something. Put your money where your mouth is: because forwarding email messages around and wishing the protests away will not make it happen.
If, on the other hand, you share our convictions that GMA must go, then join us now and be counted. There’s an easy way to do this through our Black Friday Protest Movement. Just visit www.blackfridayprotest.blogspot.com or send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a regular bulletin from us. You may also forward this email to friends and colleagues and urge them to join us now.
Whichever side you are in, the important thing is to come out and be counted. The time to act is now. For if you continue exercising your right to remain silent – pretty soon, it will be the only right left for us as citizens.
God bless and God save this country.
Writing Open Letters is a honorable and useful political activity; Claro M. Recto, for one, wrote them to great effect to criticize those he called “the Neroes and Caligulas of the present.” Except Don Claro signed them under his own name; if only those who wrote such letters did so as real people, and not with the safety of anonymity in mind. Thank God for the likes of Yoly Ong, Jojo Sorrera-Ty, and Malen Manait and Enteng Romano. As Vincula writes in his blog, a letter can be a powerful thing.
On a purely practical point, Shannelle has tips on what to do if you have a consumer complaint.