Three things to watch:
1. Is the presumed passage of the death penalty repeal a gift for the Pope, as Newsstand asks? But of course. But why be surprised that the Senate passed it? One senator told me that he and other colleagues had long been proponents of the repeal: so delaying passage on political grounds would have been improbable.
2. The President’s threat to veto the budget unless her pork barrel appropriations are returned -a story that’s been brewing for a few days now- indicates a great tactical opportunity for her. First, by threatening a veto, she pulls administration congressmen and senators back in line in the bicameral conference committee. Second, if she doesn’t get the budget she wants, she can then exercise her veto power, sending a message to allies in the House and Senate that there will be consequences if they vote to overturn her veto. Chances are, they won’t. And if they don’t, then she has a reenacted budget from the previous year, offering up the prospects of being able to juggle funds going into an election year.
3. Recent statements that constitutional change is almost certainly delayed in Congress, and a new burst of energy on the part of “people’s initiative” proponents, including “survey results” and commentary such as Fel Maragay’s, indicates the coming together of a new strategy, which will be useful during impeachment time (round 2, in late June to July): threaten everyone with a simulated grassroots revolt. A colleague following the story closely tells me that while skeptical of my autogolpe theory in the past, now it seems possible. I am looking into that possibility.
In the punditocracy, the best read has to be Manuel Buencamino’s parody of a Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo diary entry. In his blog, Kerry Collison reposts an article on the King of Thailand and his political legacy.
Kevin Rafferty in the Japan Times analyzes Thaksin’s leadership: an interesting summary of the crisis in Thailand as it continues.
Amusing rant on g-strings and panties in Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k).
If you read the Kartilya of the Katipunan, Mabini’s True Decalogue, the Code of Citizenship and Ethics of the Commonwealth -all part of a continuing tradition, now lost- you will see an obsession to foster a civic sense as an antidote to tyranny and a means to building a functioning, independent nation. The process began with Rizal; and his most haunting words continue to be those expressing his belief that independence would be meaningless without a civic-minded citizenry. I believe the process came to an end with the writings of Leon Ma. Guerrero, one of Rizal’s greatest exponents in his time.
Someone, addressing Confucius, said: Why, Sir, do you take no part in the government?—The Master replied: What does the Book of History say about filial piety?—Do your duty as a son and as a brother, and these qualities will make themselves felt in the government. This, then, really amounts to taking part in the government. Holding office need not be considered essential.
(from the Analects of Confucius, Lionel Giles translation)
Randy David said something similar in his warmly-welcomed exposition on the national situation: “I will hasten to add that it would be a mistake to think that one needs to be a politician to be able to contribute to the realization of these urgent tasks”. A regular reader of this blog, Emilie Maramag, advocates simply making politics redundant; I’d suggest turning it into a full-time activity for citizens and thus, only viable as an episodic occupation for people.
My column for today, June began in May, tackles the origins of the current crisis. I’ve become increasingly convinced a large part of the crisis is that the bedrock of democracy as we’ve known it -the middle class, which, together with the upper class mans much of Civil Society- is dying; it’s replacement is only beginning to emerge; the dying began with the deal with the devil known as martial law, accelerated due to disllusionment after Edsa I in 1986, had a Last Hurrah at Edsa Dos, and recognized a dead end with Edsa Tres. As with Marcos, so has the middle and upper class embraced Arroyo, though more tightly now than then, since Arroyo (as one colleague put it, because of her husband) is an insider while Marcos was always an outsider.
Civil Society as we know it was born in the wake of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, and reached it’s apex in terms of influence in the first months of the Arroyo administration. The May 1 rebellion taught the President that Civil Society could provide a veneer of reformism to her administration, but could neither keep it physically nor politically safe. When the political crisis began, a division took place within Civil Society. Some opted out, some have remained loyal. A generational shift took place, too: I’ve heard some say that they (younger Civil Society types) chose to stay with the President out of resentment over having been dragged into supporting her, then asked to abandon her, by Civil Society leaders; others, vowed never to touch politics with a ten foot pole again because of those leaders.
Personally, I have always been uneasy with Civil Society types for the same reason that I am uneasy with political parties: I don’t think formal organizations are conducive to independence of mind or action. They get mired in group-think. I do welcome, and enjoy, participating in less structured, more ad hoc groupings (like the Black & White Movement, which is far from perfect but on the whole, sincere); and I respect quite a few Civil Society types I’ve gotten to know (and the same applies to politicians and the politically-involved). But Civil Society suffered from triumphalism and did cause some of the problems we live with, now: recall the protests they mounted outside the Supreme Court, which I believe helped stampede the the Justices into making the highly flawed decision they wrote on the legitimacy of President Arroyo in 2001.
Certainly, henceforth, Civil Society will operate with the handicap that it’s perceived to be not all that different from the ruling and political classes.
In the blogosphere, Jove Francisco, whose laptop was used by Sec. Ignacio Bunye to burn copes of the “original” and “fake” recordings he presented to media, reflects on the past year in the news.
baratillo@cubao employs a fictional detective to get to the bottom of political killings. Peryodistang Pinoy blogs about preparations for her column on the disturbing extrajudicial killings going on in Cebu City.
Iloilo City Boy has a fascinating entry on developments in Iloilo City politics -politicians are still in wait-and-see mode.
Cogito Ergo SAM is a bit exasperated with government’s efforts to “bend the spoon.”
Black & White Movement presents a useful timeline of the ongoing political crisis.