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By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on April 2, 2006 78 Comments 11 min read
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I’ve become an admirer of the impassioned editorials and opinion pieces in The Nation of Thailand, which has been bravely taking up an anti-Thaksin and pro-democracy stance.

Apparently the past few days have seen pro-Thaksin rallies, which included some sort of attack on the premises of the Nation.

A tongue-in-cheek personal account is They came, they shouted, we compromised. A more sober and damning appraisal of the whole thing is Voters have the chance to write off dictatorship today.

In its editorial, the newspaper reminds Thais that their individual decision on whether to participate in, or boycott, the parliamentary elections to be held today, should be grounded in a democratic mentality:

This is a special election day for obvious reasons. The country has gone through months of turmoil that sometimes pushed us to the brink of violent confrontation. Divisiveness has been widespread. Families have quarrelled. Taxi drivers have shooed customers away. Some leading political figures have been booed and jeered in public places. Newspaper offices have been surrounded by hostile protesters. There have been uproars among academic communities. Poor farmers have joined the political fray. Even our most revered institution, the monarchy, has been troubled by the present crisis.

But in a way we can be thankful we still can have great divisions. There are countries where the leadership tells people who to choose and what to think. That families in Thailand can argue and make different choices at the ballot booth is a blessing. Things are unlikely to return to normal after today, and there’s even a strong possibility that they will get worse. But you can consider this either as bad fortune for our beloved Kingdom, or a valuable learning process that could be a blessing in disguise.

The most important thing today is not that we know whom to vote for or how to exercise our political right correctly, because all of us humans are entitled to make mistakes or bad choices. The most important thing today is that we recognise the real values and essence of democracy. It’s important that we understand the reasons behind the pro-Thai Rak Thai votes, or the “abstain” votes, or even the “illegal” act of staying home in protest. It’s important that we realise that casting our ballot is just one part of democracy, that the system requires other things like good checks and balances, respect for human rights and the rights of minorities, and freedom of speech.

Democracy is everyone’s responsibility. It can only be taken, and not given. Don’t let anyone fool us that they are “giving” us a chance at democracy. The system does not mean that an election is called once in a while and everything is fine. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a leader who calls or allows an election is a champion of democracy. That leader has to also adhere to its other principles – every one of them – from the bottom of his or her heart. He or she has to accept your rights to scrutinise or question the government, or to voice your disagreement when you think something seriously wrong has happened to transparency and accountability or even the morality of our leadership.
There is a brilliant essay in Slate Magazine on The Twilight of Objectivity, which points out that the most profound effect the Internet has had on traditional media is to question the very idea of objectivity. Objectivity in journalism, the writer says, is a pretense:

Abandoning the pretense of objectivity does not mean abandoning the journalist’s most important obligation, which is factual accuracy. In fact, the practice of opinion journalism brings additional ethical obligations. These can be summarized in two words: intellectual honesty. Are you writing or saying what you really think? Have you tested it against the available counterarguments? Will you stand by an expressed principle in different situations, when it leads to an unpleasing conclusion? Are you open to new evidence or argument that might change your mind? Do you retain at least a tiny, healthy sliver of a doubt about the argument you choose to make?

In other words, journalists should be more like bloggers: tolerant of other views, always eager to engage in a conversation, however heated, prepared to keep an open mind, and ready to put the tiniest blogger or commenter on the same level as established writers or pundits.

The buzz in politically-interested circles is, of course, Winnie Monsod’s Saturday column, in which she comes out swinging against Constitutional amendments as proposed by the President:

Come, Ms President, you know fully well that the signature campaign shows the mark of government forces and traditional politicians behind it. The victims of that “train” are the people who have so far been against Charter change, in general, and a parliamentary system, in particular.

Or to put it another way: That signature campaign has nothing to do with the people. It has to do with Jose de Venecia who-knowing he has not a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected president-has been moving heaven and earth to change the rules of the game so his chances of leading the country are markedly improved. It has to do with the traditional politicians in Congress, who enjoy their power and want to increase it and perpetuate themselves in it.

And finally, it has to do with GMA herself who, if the Charter change is approved, can finish her term with her powers intact and without fear of impeachment. Why? Because the first section of the proposed new Article XVIII, titled “Transitory Provisions,” effectively ensures it: “The incumbent President and Vice President shall serve until the expiration of their term at noon on the thirtieth day of June 2010 and shall continue to exercise their full powers under the 1987 Constitution unless impeached by a vote of two-thirds of all the members of the interim parliament.” Nota bene: Under the present system, only one-third of the House of Representatives is sufficient—but it still failed—to impeach her. Another nota bene: no elections in 2007 (implied, because the interim parliament is composed of present legislators from both Houses, plus Cabinet members); no more term limits (explicit).

The Inquirer editorial today supports Mrs. Monsod’s point that the amendments effort is unleashing a new kind of “destructive politics.” The game plan obvious began to be cobbled together last year; and by all accounts this is the current incarnation of the Autogolpe idea.

Newsstand believes that the column is significant because Mrs. Monsod represents the voice of the political center. Atty. Edwin Lacierda isn’t as convinced. Though Edwin and I see eye to eye politically, in this case I think Jon Neri is correct; I say pretty much the same thing in meetings of the “usual suspects.”

Winnie and Christian Monsod, whose views I have put forward in this blog from time to time, are of the same view as people like Bong Austero: in the heat of the moment it’s very tempting for those against the President to tag them as supporters of the President, or her apologists. They are not. I repeat, they are not, have never been, and should not be considered lackeys or unthinking hacks or apologists of the President or her coalition.

Where I do think they can be legitimately criticized is for ignoring that they have been unintentionally serving as props to her continued stay in office (there is a difference between partisan support and a kind of critical, and conditional collaboration that may be useful to the administration, whether those seeing themselves as critical and independent like it or not). Bong Austero, for example, was irritated that the administration took to reading his letter on the government TV station. Winnie Monsod has argued the President won fair and square, all issues to the contrary notwithstanding. Connie Veneracion is outraged whenever anyone points out her hiring as a columnist might have had public relations benefits for a newspaper strongly pushing a pro-administration editorial line. And so on. While no one in their right mind should question the integrity of these individuals, I think it’s quite fair and relevant to point out how the administration has used their public views for its own purposes.

One assumption that’s easy to make is that very few people really like the President. Many have a kind of grudging admiration for her. Many more hate her enemies more than they dislike her. Others simply aren’t prepared to believe that she would ever go as far, or further, than say Marcos; and that furthermore she is merely the victim of bad p.r. because of her husband and friends -of whose activities she doesn’t know, and so can’t be held responsible for. As for everyone else, those otherwise prepared to express opposition have to think twice, because the administration obviously has no problems with arresting and hurting people or getting even with them if they’re in the bureaucracy. The lack of clarity as to what comes next also has the middle class and others in mortal terror of a state of general disorder and lawlessness.

The other day, after giving a lecture on the Philippines to a group of teachers from international schools, one Filipina teacher proceeded to quiz me on my opposition to the President. I gave her my capsule answer: I think she intends to be President for life. I think that’s wrong. I think most people don’t think she would do it, and so I’m prepared to wait until 2010 when she not only stays in office, but after that, the people around her start gobbling up banks and corporations. At that point, the upper class will begin to oppose her, and since the upper class owns the companies in which the middle class are managers, the middle class will get the hint from their furious bosses and start opposing the President, too; and when the middle class opposes, it can manage the masses, who will receive support (if unemployed) to protest or incentives (if employed) to accompany their managers in protest. And then, the President will fall.

Randy David in his column today suggests that the present Charter change express is an entirely wrong way to settle matters; it will result, not in a Constitution for a living country, but a charter for political mummification.

Patricio Diaz has a very interesting column: he says even if the administration gets the nationwide number of signatures it claims to have, the law being referred to requires two things: 12% of all the registered voters in the country have to sign on; and 3% in every legislative district. Every single one: all must signify 3% or the whole thing collapses. Diaz asks, what if the 3% is not obtained in either one of Makati City’s two legislative districts? What if the 3% is not achieved in General Santos City, which is oppositionist? Or in South Cotobato, the governor if which is an oppositionist and not in favor of amendments? Diaz says then the entire effort would be scuttled. Fel Maragay pretty much argues that this is how Charter change might fail: he points to San Juan, Makati City, Cavite and Batanes as other places where the President’s express train could be derailed.

Paging Mamutong: what on earth does an article like Meralco monopoly over: Competition opens to other power producers actually mean??

The good news: Alex Lacson’s 12 Little Things You Can Do For Your Country (a marvelous book; I gave it away for Christmas).

Also in Slate: What’s Web 2.0?

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  1. [mlq3, with your permission, i posted this comment in John Nery’s weblog this morning]

    John, i think you’re right in identifying Winnie Monsod as reflecting the views of the ‘Center’ [of the Middle class/Middle forces]. As i have no insights on any of her underlying personal motivations, from what i can tell, her writings are intellectually consistent with someone who has primarily been worried about the consequences of military coups. Now that she sees that threat receding or at least a greater threat to democracy emerging, she is now free to train her sights on Cha-Cha.

    If Monsod does not accurately reflect the center, it would only be because the real center lies between her and Bong Austero who seems to still be willing to give the people’s initiative the benefit of the doubt. We have to face the reality that BnW, mlq3 and the lot are still the minority among the middle.

  2. Good day MLQ3!

    You said:

    1. “Winnie and Christian Monsod, whose views I have put forward in this blog from time to time, are of the same view as people like Bong Austero: in the heat of the moment it’s very tempting for those against the President to tag them as supporters of the President, or her apologists. They are not. I repeat, they are not, have never been, and should not be considered lackeys or unthinking hacks or apologists of the President or her coalition.XXX”

    –In the same way that you do not consider the likes of Monsod and Austero as unthinking hacks for the President, those of us who think that they espouse (wittingly or unwittingly) a pro-GMA line were not merely tempted to do so in the heat of the moment. Personally, I know not much about Austero or Monsod, but a reading of their blogs and columns would usually lead any reasonable and prudent man to conclude that their views on the current political crisis, in the ultimate analysis, seem to favor Arroyo’s continued stay in office.

    2. “Where I do think they can be legitimately criticized is for ignoring that they have been unintentionally serving as props to her continued stay in office (there is a difference between partisan support and a kind of critical, and conditional collaboration that may be useful to the administration, whether those seeing themselves as critical and independent like it or not).”

    –I agree Manolo. The first question that should be asked is: why are they ignoring that they are being used by Palace propagandists? Sure, no one could question their integrity, much less their intelligence, but why the silent acquiescence to be used as props for a government with doubtful legitimacy? This may also be the reason why those who are vehemently opposed to GMA cannot be faulted for regarding them as such.

    As to Austero, he is just one of the ordinary millions, like you and me, who have something to say for or against the government. So let’s leave the poor guy alone. He’a had enough of our criticisms, personal or otherwise. We may not agree with him but we should defend his right to say it.

    As to Mareng Winnie, my only question is her consistency, or why has she been consistently inconsistent as regards the following:

    While it was so easy for Mareng Winnie to condemn the immorality of the government-sponsored people’s initiative, she found it “difficult” to condemn the immorality of those who allowed themselves to be corrupted into dismissing the impeachment complaint against GMA. “Do your homework!”, is what she usually tells the opposition without batting an eyelash, yet forgetting the fact that GMA moved heaven and earth to sway these Congressmen to her side.

    While it was so easy for Mareng Winnie to condemn the use of government resources in the railroading of the people’s initiative, I have yet to hear from Mareng Winnie condemn with equal intensity the alleged use by government of fertilizer funds to finance the electoral campaign of GMA and her administration allies.

    While it was so easy for Mareng Winnie to condemn the fraud in the conduct of the people’s initiative, it was so hard for her to condemn the same fraud in the Presidential elections of 2004. In fact, up to now, she has not retracted her earlier position that GMA won FAIR and SQUARE!

    Finally, while it was so easy for Mareng Winnie in 2000 to condemn a duly (and overwhelmingly) elected President for his incompetence and to subsequently ask for his resignation, she now finds it hard to make the same call to a President who obviously committed the greater sins!

    Surely, Mareng Winnie employed uses the same logic in arriving at the truth, unless of course she uses a different standard in getting to the bottom of it (the truth).

  3. Correction:
    Disregard the word “employed” in the last sentence of #2. My mistake. Thanks.

  4. I just don’t agree na “win-win” ang CHA CHA kay Arroyo

    Sabi ni Rizalist:

    ELLEN, May punto is mlq3 — na malakas ang katayuan ng Pangulo. Kasi hindi naman niya talagang kailangan ang Chacha kung tutuusin. Hinahayaan lang niya si FVR at JDV na tahakin ang landas na ito, bilang bayad sa kanilang tuloy na pagkakaibigan. Kung magwagi, di mabuti, kung mabigo, eh ano? Tuloy lang ang 1987 charter.

    Arbet also calls Aroyo’s cha cha a “win-win” for arroyo.

    I disagree with both. Kasi, if you’re in Arroyo’s situation and you want more powers and tools to fight your enemies and prolong your staying power in office, you know the biggest obstacle is the 1987 Constitution — which was crafted by anti-Marcos, anti-dictator commissioners in a way that will make it difficult for future Marcos wannabes like ARroyo to abuse their power without breaking the law.

    To remedy that, you make a new constitution. A new constitution will give Arroyo and her allies a new lease of life. She gets to rewrite the laws of this country and stack the rules in her favor (like the newly proposed 2/3’s rule to initiate impeachment, and the No El proposal, and the rewriting of our bill of rights).

    Sabi ni DJB na eh ano kung natalo ang cha cha, “di tuloy ang 1987 charter.” No harm done to Arroyo, right? Mali. Because I see the CHA CHA as a referendum for Arroyo. A defeat for Cha cha will be seen as a defeat for Arroyo.

    AND A VICTORY FOR CHA CHA WILL BE SEEN AS A MAJOR VICTORY FOR ARROYO.

    The 1987 Constitution is ARroyo’s worst enemy. If you notice, Arroyo is getting weaker and weaker under this old contitution, because her hands are tied most of the time, and it takes a lot of rule-breaking to get away with some of the stuff she’s trying to pull (like EO 464, Proc 1017, CPR). And when you are caught breaking the rules, it doesn’t look good, let’s just say that. 😉

    That’s why there’s a strong effort to change the rules in her favor via the CHA CHA. The Arroyo Constitution, if passed, will make GMA (and her allies) twice as strong and twice as hard to remove. Remember, Marcos lasted 20 years because of the his 1973 Constitution.

    So to say na cha cha is a “win win” for Arroyo is just not right (as if it doesn’t matter kung manalo o matalo siya sa CHA CHA).

    If she loses this fight, I expect her to lose more allies in the House and in the media (or their asking price to continue supporting her will increase). Nobody will respect or fear her anymore. I don’t see her surviving much longer under the anti-dictator 1987 constitution.

    But if she wins CHA CHA, not only will this give her more powers, but her prestige will rise as well. the big losers here will be those who are opposed to her. And let me tell you something boys and girls, If you think Arroyo is “unstoppable” now, wait till she gets her COMELEC to pass her new constitution.

  5. At last Mareng Winnie has gotten real. She has shaken off those blinders. What really puzzled me all these months was why a person of her intellectual and moral caliber, the idol of many, behaved in a way that I had never expected. It was a big letdown. I was so incensed at her wagging her finger at anti-Gloria forces that I stopped reading her. Now I think I’ll take a peek at her columns again.

    But the question that bugs me this time is “What made her suddenly take off the blinders? Why does she now see the wrong and not then…when Gloria was bashing our rights against the wall like there was no tomorrow?”

  6. Winnie Monsod’s column on brazen lies and karma is the Winnie Monsod I have missed reading. She does not mince words when she says Gloria and her cohorts are railroading the charter change, and that the signature campaign has nothing to do with the people.

    But on the flipside, I agree with Phil Cruz. Why the change of heart all of a sudden?

  7. “huwag naman sana’ng ihalintulad si winnie sa isang kabayo na may tapahoho…”

    winnie just happened to write articles that may have pro-gloria stance on the one hand and anti-gloria on the other. she is at best consistently inconsistent in her views, as bystander wrote.

    i think she has mastered the art of putting on her blinders at will. she must never be likened to a “kalesa” horse for its master is needed to put on (or off) its blinders. i believe winnie is her own master (or mistress, i guess).

    she is not a horse…she is still a homo sapien, only of the “balimbing” variety (with her “centrist” conviction as a result of her “i-abhor-the-opposition-more-especially-the-ones-with-strange-bedfellows!” stand).

    —–

    “I have heard part of the tapes, and read the transcripts. Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye presented two versions: the ‘authentic’ (A) Malacañang version (Who recorded the ‘authentic?’ Malacañang? The military intelligence agency ISAFP?), and the ‘doctored’ version (D). In both, the female voice was the same. But the male voice recorded in A (young, strong) was, even to the untrained ear, different from the male voice in D (old, with an accent).”

    “The female voice sounds like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I can’t place the male voice in A, but the D male voice, I am certain, belongs to Garcillano.”

    “So, which is the tampered version, and which is the real thing? My answer: A is the fake, and D is the real thing. One, because experienced audio technicians, whose judgment I trust, have already come informally to that conclusion. Two, because the majority of the conversations have Garcillano’s voice speaking with various people, which jibes with the contention that it was Garcillano’s phone that was tapped, so how could any of his conversations be fake?”

    “And three is the transcript of a conversation on June 4 with someone who sounded like Mike Arroyo. In both the ‘original’ and the ‘altered’ versions, Mike says, ‘Kung pwede ho, tulungan niyo si Bobby Barbers.’ Mike wouldn’t say ‘ho’ to a young operative in the campaign staff, he would say that to someone like Garcillano. Moreover, the other person says: ‘Nandito po kami sa session ngayon, eh. Nag-usap na kami ni Senator.’ Since Senator Barbers never attended any of the canvassing in Congress, the session alluded to must be the Commission on Election en banc (canvassing the senatorial elections), which means it must be Garcillano on the other end–whether in the original or the doctored version.”

    “I hope I am wrong. But if I am right, Garcillano is dead meat, Gloria is going to sink in that muck, and worst of all, the country might sink with her.”

    http://news.inq7.net/opinion/index.php?index=2&story_id=39904&col=62

    …winnie with her “tapahoho” off on 11 june 2005.

  8. Thanks for the link, baycas.

    In that article, she said: “I hope I am wrong. But if I am right, Garcillano is dead meat, Gloria is going to sink in that muck, and worst of all, the country might sink with her.” That was June 11, 2005.

    Yet in another article dated 29 October 2005 entitled “Truth is Arroyo won”, she minced no words castigating anti-GMA forces as a bunch of gullible fools who peddle lies as truth and proceeded to sound like Sec. Ricardo Saludo in explaining why Gloria Arroyo won the elections. Surprisingly, in that article, she made no mention of the Garci tapes. Here is the link to that article: http://news.inq7.net/common/print.php?index=2&story_id=54828&site_id=25&col=62

    Mareng Winnie, who is the gullible fool now?

    It was so easy for Mareng Winnie to condemn Erap because she simply didn’t like him (this is not to say however that there was no reason to oust him; in fact I too believe that at that time ousting Erap was the right thing to do). But of course Erap was a drop-out. Winnie was an economist. He represented the bakya crowd. She represented the self-righteous, self-styled intellectuals whom the elite class was more comfortable with. That was why when the opportunity came to attack Erap, they (including Mareng Winnie) ganged up on him… and then… BAM! EDSA 2! Ironically, the banner of Edsa 2 was to restore MORALITY IN GOVERNANCE!

    And now comes GMA who represented the intellectual arrogance that many in the elite class was comfortable with. Fraud in the 2004 elections? No, Mareng Winnie held on to the belief that even if there was, it was not big enough to overturn GMA’s lead. Winnie gave her the benefit of the doubt, so to speak.

    It is not a question of Winnie’s integrity. It is a question of her credibility. Mareng Winnie opposing the Chacha utopia of GMA? Im sorry Mareng Winnie, we were the first to get off the Chacha train or we never rode with it. Whatever you say now is always a welcome addition, but we will just take it with a grain of salt. I will no longer take you seriously.

    Wonder why Mareng Winnie is consistently inconsistent? She uses the same logic in arriving at the truth but uses a different standard in getting to the bottom of it (the truth), depending on who’s sitting in Malacanang.

  9. 3% samin nga hindi masyado news ang baranggay ek ek na yan eh, kaya nga I am wondering kung makukuha talaga nila ang 3%…

    Time and again naman they have proven they control the end result and the propaganda machine to look like they achieved something so no surprise about the train.

  10. “…so I’m prepared to wait until 2010 when she not only stays in office, but after that, the people around her start gobbling up banks and corporations. At that point, the upper class will begin to oppose her, and since the upper class owns the companies in which the middle class are managers, the middle class will get the hint from their furious bosses and start opposing the President, too; and when the middle class opposes, it can manage the masses, who will receive support (if unemployed) to protest or incentives (if employed) to accompany their managers in protest. And then, the President will fall.”

    – Agreed. Let’s not be impatient and wait for 2010. We may all learn that none of us knows the solution to our dilemma. Our problem is that we have too often been impatient and, in the process others, who have let time be the final arbiter, have overtaken us.

  11. Alam ko na isasagot nila..

    Ma’am mag-cocompensate nama po ung darating na signature from *province_name* kaya we can still achieve the 3% target po

  12. MLQ3,

    Re: “At that point, the upper class will begin to oppose her, and since the upper class owns the companies in which the middle class are managers, the middle class will get the hint from their furious bosses and start opposing the President, too; and when the middle class opposes, it can manage the masses, who will receive support (if unemployed) to protest or incentives (if employed) to accompany their managers in protest. And then, the President will fall.”

    Yesterday, I discussed a similar tenet – the importance of the middle class in a revolution – with a commenter in Ellen’s blog.

    The commenter averred that to effect a “revolutionary” change, the society must be swift, decisive and radical in its moves. While I agreed with the commenter, like you I said that in relation to Gloria’s potential ouster, it is essential to have the the support of big business and the middle class because without their support, the change (or the ouster by any means) won’t be meaningful and in the long run, won’t work.

    It is my conviction that Gloria’s continuing survival today rests in the general apathy of the sectors I mentioned. While these sectors haven’t mustered the physical and moral courage to help lead the rest of the population towards “radical”, decisive and even surgical changes, there can’t be any change at all.

    It is my belief that realistically (and historically), radical & decisive changes, swift actions towards a meaningful political and government change are never started by the “impoverished class” or the peasantry. It’s sad but this is a fact of life.

    It is good of you to have raised the issue of the importance of the middle class, the middle forces to effect societal changes during your lecture to a group of teachers. Teachers are the society’s conduits to the offsprings of all levels of the middle class and the middle forces. They are the ones who have the direct access to the young, upcoming members of the middle class. Furthermore, it is they who can realistically rouse social and moral awareness not only in the young but in the apathetic middle sector of society in general that could lead to meaningful changes in the political set up of the country.

    While it is true that to effectively launch a revolution of all sorts, all components of the society must heed the call – from the moneyed class, the intellectuals, the middle, the lower and down to the poorest of the poor, it is the members of the middle class whom I believe are the most essential to triggering a revolution of sorts. It is the middle class who possess the “right” education in general. It is generally this social class that possesses the genuine will to modify an existing political status quo as well as their own personal status. More essential in the general order of things, it is the members of the middle class who have the materiel and the financial means to launch the first salvo of a revolution.

    Gloria is so safely enthroned in the Palace because the majority of the middle class today have remained basically divided if not “silent”. Or if they are not silent, they refuse to raise the pitch of their discontent to a resounding, unequivocal howl, preferring to compromise thus allowing the rotten status quo to remain.

    In today’s scheme of things, it is highly probable that Gloria will be president for life.

  13. a de brux, i agree with your analysis above except for the last sentence. Gloria is illegitimate and unpopular enough to be vulnerable to an outright coup. Nevertheless, it still remains true that the middle class does not seem to have the heart to defend our democracy. So, imho, i would modify your last sentence to read:

    “In today’s scheme of things, it is highly probable that someone will be president for life.”

  14. Some of the personal attacks on Winnie Monsod above seem to me unfair and misplaced, especially after she has so brilliant demolished the government’s ludicrous “people’s initiative”. Professor Monsod is an intellectual; her job is to analyse each issue honestly and report on how she sees it. Anyone who reads her column will know that Winnie has often criticized GMA, especially over Comelec. During the protests around the Edsa anniversary she chose to support what she saw as the least bad option, the president’s continuation in office. I didn’t agree with her on that but she is perfectly at liberty to take that view – just because she is pursuing an independent line, that’s no reason to call her “balimbing”. There are no easy answers to the present situation in the Philippines I don’t think it is realistic to expect someone like Winnie to parrot the party line every week.

  15. Manolo, I am interested that you speak so highly of Lacson’s book. I’d be interested to know what you think of the seventh “little thing” — support your local church. I wonder how a Muslim Filipino would feel about that…

  16. Torn,

    You said:

    “Some of the personal attacks on Winnie Monsod above seem to me unfair and misplaced, especially after she has so brilliant demolished the government’s ludicrous “people’s initiative”.

    Where are the personal attacks? Be more specific because it is unfair to criticize a comment when you do not cite the details.

    I am not opposing her opposition on the conduct of the bogus people’s initiative, in fact I welcome it. What I am questioning is her selective condemnation of the patently illegal acts of Arroyo which,to me, smacks of inconsistency.

  17. Frankly, it’s difficult not to make a comment without an underlying tone of a personal attack when one is attacking a writer’s or commenter’s personal conviction and particularly when that writer or commenter has made it plain that his/her premise is a very personal issue.

  18. (“Where I do think they can be legitimately criticized is for ignoring that they have been unintentionally serving as props to her continued stay in office (there is a difference between partisan support and a kind of critical, and conditional collaboration that may be useful to the administration, whether those seeing themselves as critical and independent like it or not).” – MLQ3)

    “Ignoring” is the key word. We are not talking of children here. These are intelligent and sensible people who knows the implication and the ramification of their statements and stand on issues. They know if they are being taken for a ride or being used as props. The question actually is, are they posing as critical thinkers and independent opinion makers just so to cover up what they really are: gov’t apologist and propagandist.

  19. Prof Winnie Monsod ‘calls it the way she sees it’. She’s not pretentious nor arrogant. She’s straight forward and quite sharp. She’s basically an honest person and quite transparent. She expresses her opinions clearly without trying to convince others. She respects other’s opinions as much as she respects her own, she knows others disagree but it does not bother her. She can be very passionate without being pugnacious. Either we agree or disagree with her opinion, we all can agree that there is one attribute that is consistent in her – passion. She talked about it once in an interview, joked about it, said there were times when she prayed for it, you know. It’s a gift that is what we are sorely missing in us, a kind of passion that is not blinded, not even by an anguished quest for the light of truth, but is fired up by the flame from where that light radiates.

  20. As to the accusation that the “negative” comments on Mareng Winnie bordered on personal attacks, again I ask: where in my comments (or in others comments) can you categorically find them?

    Is the accusation by Monsod that those who believed that Arroyo cheated are nothing but a bunch of gullible fools a personal attack or what?

  21. Bystander,

    If you are to ask me, my answer is I don’t see any.

    The opinion I expressed earlier was following Torn’s comment about “some of the personal attacks”.
    Bystander,

    If you ask me, I don’t see any.

    My comment referred to Torn’s line of “some personal attacks”.

    My comment was based on that particular line because I believe that there is always a risk that a powerful, decisive, firm rebuttal against another’s opinion will be perceived as a “personal attack” because it is not always easy to attack or question the personal conviction or political analyses of a writer and an intellectual as well known and relied upon as Monsod’s without a rebuttal or counter opinion being judged as bordering on a personal attack by those who support or admire the writer or the analyst.

  22. I agree with you ADB.

    It was Torn in Comment #15 whom I was asking about. It was he who made the insinuation that the “attacks” on Mareng Winnie were personal, which is not true.

  23. To me, prof Monsod personifies the “real truth ” thats why her column is the only one I regularly read. I just could not understand why most of the bloogers are sooo partisan and wanted and wanted all the people to be partisan too. There is always a middle ground. And Things are not always black and white! Mrs Arroyo has a good and bad side same way with opposition. So I believe its alright to praise the good side and criticize the bad side. And that is what Ms Monsod is doing and even Bong Austero amd there is a good number of people who are like them. As a matter of fact I believe, that the next leader of the country should come from this group people ( Not from the current administration and the current opposition. One that is acceptable to either side and can unify the people. That way we can move on as one nation!!!!

    Monsod for president?

  24. Monsod is a typical economist…..

    Economists always say one thing and give an alternative(on the other hand stuff)…

    For the bystander…
    The bystander huwag na nating dibdibin ang mga comments..

    ganyan ang ginawa ko dinibdib ko.one week tuloy ako di nagcomment..binura ko blog ko etc..etc..

    (cvj and adb knows what I am talking about)

  25. moral ambiguity is what i perceive in winnie’s writings and this, i think, is lamentable. blinders with an on-off switch. (aside from the fact that, sadly, she is being bannered by the government to gloria’s glory http://www.pia.gov.ph/news.asp?fi=p051030.htm&no=1 )

    “balimbing” is a starfruit having five longitudinal, angular lobes — and therefore has no sides. the worst thing about it is that it also connotes being a traitor.

    no, winnie is not unpatriotic. she is just a traitor to her own “moral consistency*.”

    *http://philippinecommentary.blogspot.com/2006/04/throw-mareng-winnie-off-chacha.html

  26. To answer Phil Cruz’s answer on # 5:

    Perhaps Winnie Monsod realized that she will never be named to the Arroyo cabinet!

  27. OK, I accept the argument that it is hard to comment on a columnist’s views in an entirely impersonal way and I am happy to withdraw the word “personal” from my previous comment. Sorry about that, Bystander.

    I think my overall point still holds though. As for the timing of Winnie’s opposition to constitutional change, I’d have to check he previous columns to be sure, but my memory is that she has always been against it.

  28. Re #2:”…she found it ‘difficult’ to condemn the immorality of those who allowed themselves to be corrupted into dismissing the impeachment complaint against GMA.”

    “…it was so hard for her to condemn the same fraud in the Presidential elections of 2004.”

    “…she now finds it hard to make the same call to a President!”

    Pardon me but where in her columns did she say these things?

  29. Re #28: “To answer Phil Cruz’s answer on # 5:
    Perhaps Winnie Monsod realized that she will never be named to the Arroyo cabinet!”

    This is such a low blow. Isn’t the reasoning that Monsod gives in her column sufficent to explain her stand on various issues?

  30. Re #27: “moral ambiguity is what i perceive in winnie’s writings and this, i think, is lamentable.”

    I prefer her analytical approach to issues than an approach that is preachy or that attempts to be moralistic. IMHO, the current situation is not a morality play.

  31. re # 29,

    Torn i regularly read all Ms Monsod column for more than 5 years now. And yes, she is against charter change ever since teh idea was brought up.

    As far as I can remember, Ms Monsod never contradicted herself. Those who says so should present the two or tree columns that contradicts each other

  32. Re #31: This is such a low blow. Isn’t the reasoning that Monsod gives in her column sufficent to explain her stand on various issues?

    I did’nt mean it that way. It is just my take on mareng winnie’s stand re GMA. I’m only an intellectual lightweight, if there is such a thing. Or better yet, I’m only a lightweight. I voted for mareng winnie when she ran for senator and I will always vote for her. I just can’t comprehend why such an intellectual giant like her will have a stand like that. Me, with my limited mental faculty, I know that with all the evils GMA is doing, the only thing to do is to oppose her. I can’t delve deeper on why anybody will have a different stand. Unless, and this is again my simple analysis, one’s fortune is tied up with GMA; or aspiring for an appointment, or a relative is holding a nice position in the goverment or in a GOCC. But intellectual giants that they are, they can project a deeper convictions for their positions.

  33. Doubting Thomas…you’re right in the sense that a significant portion of the middle does not see this as a morality play. The point is, it should. For us to play Machiavellian games is shortsighted and naive. To borrow from Stalin, “How many divisions does the [middle class] have?” As a group, we are only as powerful as the moral suasion we exert.

  34. I posit it’s probably human nature: we often give people we like the widest playing field; to people we don’t like the eye of the needle. When after giving the widest latitude, you find your favorite undeserving, tough luck, kick his ass. Then perhaps you can look kindly to the “unloved” if he could have done better on a field a wee bit wider than the needle’s eye.

  35. Rego #25 — Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being in the “middle”. But there’s nothing wrong with being “partisan” too. What I am questioning is Monsod’s inconsistent stand on GMA. While it was so easy for her to see the wrong in the people’s initiative brouhaha, I find it strange why she has not seen the same wrong in others. And I was not forcing her to be partisan. I was merely pointing out what I consider are the various inconsistent stands she has taken on GMA (pls. read comment thread #2).

    Karl #26 — Haha! 🙂 Hindi ko dinidibdib Karl. Akala mo lang yun. But thanks for reminding me. That’s what I call an impassioned discussion.

    Torn #29 — It’s alright, Torn. You don’t have to say sorry. I was just making a clarification. If it were a question of economic policies for example, then I may not have sounded “personal” to you. But when it comes to political issues like the legitimacy of GMA’s presidency, I cannot guarantee not to be passionate (not necessarily personal) about it. In fact, when Mareng Winnie makes the insinuation that those who believed that FPJ won are a bunch of gullible fools, was she making a personal attack or what? I did not regard it as “personal” when she said that. She was merely being passionate about it.

    As to Winnie’s stand on Charter Change, I did not say she was inconsistent on it. But I think in principle she’s open to that. What she is questioning are the motives of those who are behind it. As I said, she is a welcome addition to those (including me) who believe that there is no glory under Gloria’s ChaCha.

    Doubting Thomas #30 — I did not say she said those things in her columns. It was just an enumeration of what I perceived were her inconsistent stands on the various issues hounding GMA for the last 10 months. That’s why I made a rationalization that although she uses the same logic in arriving at the truth, she uses a different standard in getting to the bottom of it.

  36. winnie monsod is undoubtedly a respectable columnist but i think the observed inconsistency on her standard is valid.

    Doubting Thomas, the lines you quoted from #2 comments describe the observed inconsistency of winnie monsod. you cannot find those in the columns of winnie monsod because if you find it hard to condemn something you may not necessarily write about it your silence is equivalent to your loudest stance.

  37. Ricelander:

    “I posit it’s probably human nature: we often give people we like the widest playing field; to people we don’t like the eye of the needle. When after giving the widest latitude, you find your favorite undeserving, tough luck, kick his ass.”

    –You articulated it so well Ricelander! I couldn’t have said it much better.

  38. Re #37: “I did not say she said those things in her columns. It was just an enumeration of what I perceived were her inconsistent stands on the various issues hounding GMA for the last 10 months.”

    If not through her columns, how did you come to perceive her stand on various issues? Surely, your perception must have had some basis.

  39. Re #38: “you cannot find those in the columns of winnie monsod because if you find it hard to condemn something you may not necessarily write about it your silence is equivalent to your loudest stance.”

    Now Monsod is inconsistent because she was “silent” on an issue? By the way, on which particular issue was she “silent” on?

  40. Ive read the link to “Truth is Arroyo Won” and nowhere in that article did Ms Monsod make the claim that Arroyo won “fair and square.” She just said she ‘won’, that is, more people voted for her. That is definitely in the realm of the possible. In fact it is even likely. Arroyo could have actually won–more people voted for her. What is apparent is she did NOT win ‘fair and square’. She used government funds (our money) and may have used Garci to pad her lead to a more ‘respectable’ number. The ‘trouble’ with our laws is that unless she is found guilty of these things in the proper forum, she is, if only–and only–technically, the legitimate president.

    I agree with those commenting that Ms. Monsod writes her column as an independent. From someone who’s partisan, especially an extreme partisan, an independent’s view would seem highly inconsistent.

  41. Re: #40

    “If not through her columns, how did you come to perceive her stand on various issues? Surely, your perception must have had some basis.”

    –It is not only through her columns that we get to know her stand on various issues. If you still haven’t noticed, she has a late night TV program called Debate on GMA Channel 7, not to mention the various guestings has been into in ANC and other shows. The limited space the Editors give to columnists may not accurately reflect their true sentiments on a particular issue. In TV, it’s quite different — you do not only hear what she says, you also get to see how she says it.

    You can always dispute my perceptions. But as they are, they are just that — peceptions. I may be right or I may be wrong in my perceptions, depending on how you perceive it. We can debate all day long about my perceptions but I guess we already have our respective principled stands on the matter. Let the course of past, present and future events prove us wrong.

  42. Re #42:

    “Ive read the link to “Truth is Arroyo Won” and nowhere in that article did Ms Monsod make the claim that Arroyo won “fair and square.” She just said she ‘won’, that is, more people voted for her. That is definitely in the realm of the possible. In fact it is even likely.XXX”

    May I take you back to what MLQ3 also had to say about Mareng Winnie? In this current post, he said: XXXWinnie Monsod has argued the President won fair and square, all issues to the contrary notwithstanding.XXX This is not to say that the validity of my statement is dependent on Manolo’s. I am quoting him here to show to you that it is not only me who shares this obsewrvation.

    As I stressed in comment #43, “it is not only through her columns that we get to know her stand on various issues. If you still haven’t noticed, she has a late night TV program called Debate on GMA Channel 7, not to mention the various guestings has been into in ANC and other shows. XXX.”

    “From someone who’s partisan, especially an extreme partisan, an independent’s view would seem highly inconsistent.

    –If that is what you want to call me, then so be it. I’m proud of it, especially when it comes to issues hounding the President. I abhor a “neither here nor there” attitude masquerading as an independent stand.

  43. Always respect whatever one believes in (politics, religion, and other issues). Perceptions influence one’s beliefs, and beliefs shape one’s life. It is those who just swim with the flow and who cannot stand on their own beliefs are the ones that need help. Blogs such as MLQ3’s are great platforms in testing your one’s own convictions.

  44. Thanks, bystander. No. 42 didnt have you in mind. In fact when I read comments, I mostly pay no attention to who is commenting (unless Im replying to a comment). Havent seen Debate or any of her guestings but as you said, theyre all perceptions. Even the way we perceive how she says what she says. But on its own, the linked Monsod article nowhere says that she won fair and square. So take that, MLQ3. 😀 (Maybe Manolo has spoken to her personally so he can add the ‘fair and square’ part. All Im saying is that it wasnt in the article.)

    If that is what you want to call me, then so be it. I’m proud of it, especially when it comes to issues hounding the President. I abhor a “neither here nor there” attitude masquerading as an independent stand.

    You mean ‘partisan’ or ‘extreme partisan’? No, I didnt have any particular person in mind. I call partisan or extreme partisan those people who are partisan or extremely partisan whom I can trust to identify themselves as such as you have. As for Ms. Monsod’s attitude, like I said I havent seen Debate, nor her guestings, nor I know her or have spoken to her so I cant really comment on her attitude nor her motivations.

  45. Jeg, I don’t really mind being called partisan or extremely partisan, in the same way that I don’t mind Winnie Monsod calling us (meaning, those who believed GMA cheated) gullible fools. The bottomline, I guess, is we both love our country. We just can’t seem to agree on how to get there. Wrong or right, let history judge our convictions.

  46. BTW, do you guys know that Ms Monsod voted for Villanueva last election. She revealed that in her column a day two before the election….

    So i dont believe that Mrs Arroyo is Ms Monsod’s favorite.

  47. torn, i have no problem with any of the 12 things alex lacson advocates, considering he’s tackling things important to most Filipinos, and that includes the Churches. One could argue Catholicism would be better over here if people tithed which would leave bishops less vulnerable to depending on pagcor and government goodies; no muslim, I’d think, would be particularly offended by what lacson wants.

    jeg, thanks for pointing that out, i took out “fair and square.”

  48. mlq3, you don’t think it involves a particular assumption about the definition of a Filipino (based on a majority viewpoint)? It makes me think of the way that Scots get driven crazy by people referring to Britain as England (and vice versa).

    Without wanting to sound too politically correct about this, Lacson’s list is clearly aimed at upper-middle class Catholic Filipinos like himself. For example:

    9.Pay your employees well.

    10. Pay your taxes.

    11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.

    Nothing wrong with that of course, but the idea that this will “heal a nation” or even that something like “pay your employees well” applies to “every Filipino” (as per the title) seems odd to me.

    I haven’t read the book and my comments are based on the Inquirer article.

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