The headlines blare: Arroyo rides Charter change train (Inquirer), GMA: Stand aside for ChaCha train (Manila Standard-Today), GMA backs people’s initiative: De Venecia sees interim parliament in place by July (Malaya), JdV sees new form of govt by July (Manila Times), Serge bares documented Palace plot to rig Cha-cha: Senate threatens GMA on snap polls plebiscite (Daily Tribune).
Is it still a people’s initiative if the government, and not the people, do the initiating? Thus asks Sketches of a Village Idiot Savant who propounded the question to barangay officials, too. Dan Mariano says it’s a Palace, and not people’s, initiative.
Jove Francisco reports on how his fellow Palace press corps members have gotten information on just how thoroughly -and extensively- Constitutional change has been planned by the administration. And on how the President has weighed in with her open and full support for the effort, which cements the return to the fold of former President Ramos. The information Jove’s obtained and the sense he has of what’s going on helps confirm what I blogged yesterday (elaborating on a milder point I made in my column yesterday). The game is afoot and the Palace is playing to win big:
I was informed about a supposed “Grand Plan” weeks ago. I saw a “battle plan” Wednesday night. Other sources verified some of the details in the supposed plan last night and this morning. Then the President delivered a speech this morning, so my producers decided that we come up with a report about it in Sentro and Big News tonight.
The supposed Plan outlines SEVEN important turning points in the aim to convene a Regular Parliament. A plan that supposedly commenced when the drive for signatures began last March 25. A plan that supposedly would pass through certifications in different levels, pass through Comelec and land on the tables of the SC justices. A plebiscite is also included in the plan. And there is this aim to convene an Interim Parliament by July 24, 2006. (incidentally, JDV made a statement today about the July target.. connected? nagkataon? part ng plan?)( Whoa, imagine: July is just 4 months away! Napakabilis pala ng mga pangyayari if ever.)
Someone told us over dinner last Wednesday that there are two reasons why the plan is targeting a July 24 convening of the Interim Parliament. One: so that the new impeachment case versus the President will be pre-empted, Two: the possibility of postponing the May 2007 election.
So big are the plans, that efforts to block things in the House, as reported by the PCIJ, only serves to strengthen the President’s hand. If she managed to diminish Fidel V. Ramos’s stature, then the Speaker must be next on her target list: unable to get around the bicameral nature of Congress, perpetually worried about controlling unruly members of the House, the Speaker’s shepherding efforts are proving only a second act to the main one being undertaken by the Executive.
Bloggers continue to weigh in on the legalities involved. In response to my pointing out that she may have inadvertently overlooked an existing law, Sassy Lawyer explains that not only is she fully aware of the law, but bore it firmly in mind; and she further suggests that to her mind, the law was deliberately enacted to be so flawed, that it would be inapplicable (not solely her opinion; she points to a portion of the Supreme Court’s decision which she says, says so, too).
Atty. Edwin Lacierda also examines the law and Supreme Court decision in question, and thinks it will be difficult for the Supreme Court to reverse itself. Perhaps: though as I’ve noted, it seems the Speaker is laying the basis for limiting the proposed amendment to one: unicameralism.
There are those like An OFW Living in Hong Kong, who were cheered up by the recent Supreme Court statement saying an enabling law is required. I’m not, as I’ve also previously explained. The Four-eyed Journal even asks, is the Supreme Court playing possum? A story in Malaya: SC may yet reverse ruling, says retired jurist.
Unlike Ellen Tordesillas, I don’t think the President’s down to her last cards. She has a fresh deck and is dealing them out and the odds are heavily stocked in her favor. I do agree with Ellen though, that the exit, in the end, may not be particularly graceful; but it seems it will be much later, rather than sooner.
Yesterday I picked up a copy of Great Lives: A Century in Obituaries from The Times of London. Ironically, the last obituary in it, on page 666, is that of John Paul II. It’s a marvelous distillation of a life and that life’s ideas, which struck me as particularly apt in the wake of how either the irreligious, unreligious, or otherwise-minded are frustrated with Catholicism in politics at present. A good case in point being the views of The Filipino Mind, expressed in his blog today. His views on Catholicism would do well to be read in tandem with the Times’ explanation of John Paul II’s understanding of Catholicism:
For much of his reign, John Paul II was – not only for the secular world but also for many Roman Catholics – a figure of paradox. He was, it was said, a social progressive but an ecclesiological reactionary; a pastoral bishop who had been deeply influenced by the Second Vatican Council but who then - or so some critics volubly asserted – directed his entire pontificate towards a restoration of the Catholicism of the preconciliar period…
Partly, these conflicting perceptions were based on a tendency to judge him by criteria which were either theologically superficial or wholly secular. The paradoxes were more apparent than real…
Karol Wojtyla’s anti-communism was thus no merely ideological phenomenon but derived from the same source as his entire critique of modern secularist culture. His thinking had evolved both as a result of his professional career as an academic philosopher and from the circumstances of his pastoral experience as priest and bishop. He believed that the secular mind - in both East and West – had installed cultures deeply inimical to the flourishing of the human personality. The enemy, for him, was anything which obscured man’s nature as an essentially moral being – from relativism in moral philosophy to totalitarianism in politics. Man’s vocation was to become what God intended him to be: the drama of every human life was the struggle against evil, both personal and social…
…John Paul II sensed that the newborn democracies of Eastern Europe faced massive new challenges. The first task, he believed, was to build a free society upon solid ethical foundations. In a trio of major encyclicals, beginning in 1991 with Centesimus Annus (The Hundreth Year), he offered a blueprint. The encyclical argued that democratic societies had to be grounded in a respect for the fundamental freedom and dignity of the human person. A democracy without values easily turned into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism, John Paul wrote. Communism’s error was to reduce human beings to economic units. Without fundamental values, capitalism would do the same.
He further elaborated his vision in the landmark 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendour of Truth), on the fundamentals of the Church’s moral teaching. The encyclical evaluated the modern crisis of moral relativism, linking the recognition of universal moral norms to democratic equality, the defence of the socially marginal, the just distribution of wealth and integrity in government.
His third effort to establish the moral basis of life in democratic societies was the 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), which argued that democracies risked self-destruction if moral wrongs were legally defended as rights. Democracies that denied the inalienable right to life from conception until natural death were tyrant states, creating a pervasive culture of death in which abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty were actively promoted. He appealed for the creation of a new culture of life, which defended the dignity of every human life…
The Pope’s greatest intellectual confrontation of this kind came in 1979 on his first visit to Latin America. With revolutionary tumult sweeping the continent, Catholic theologians were demanding that the Church ally itself with the poor in a Marxist- influenced struggle for justice. In a crucial and controversial speech to the Latin American bishops, John Paul argued that such liberation theologies reduced the Kingdom of God to a political, secularised kingdom. The Church was committed to the poor, but did not need to have recourse to ideological systems in order to love, defend, and collaborate in the liberation of man.
Sketches of a Village Idiot Savant also points to a letter in three parts ( part 1 here, and part 2 here, part 3 has yet to come out) in Eating the Sun, concerning the decline in Dumaguete’s famed writing culture. The letter and its concerns reminds me of a conversation I had with someone a week or two ago, as we discussed a potential project. The person pointed out that the literary establishment in this country is tiny and quite geriatric; he found it incestuous and sterile. I responded by recounting a conversation I had with the late NVM Gonzales. I asked him, why is it that Philippine novels tend to be unreadable? He chuckled and said, “You know, our novelists write so that they have to be sitting beside you to explain the meaning of what they’ve written.” Why is that, I asked. “Because they all end up writing for each other anyway,” he smiled.
Carlos Celdran recommends a surely fascinating round table discussion to come, and the exploration of what may Manila’s oldest restaurant.
Slate Magazine asks, Who’s more powerful, bloggers or governments?