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Jun 16

The Federalist card

The question for some time has been: what rabbit could the President pull out of her hat come State of the Nation Day? After having packed the galleries with local governments supporters, and saying the Constitution had to be changed, could she afford to appear before Congress a year later with the Cha-Cha express in shambles?

Previously, the announcement of a state visit to the new pope, the king of Spain and Qaddafi in Libya, indicated that the SONA theme might be respectability: a year after her troubles, the President could brag she’s the only leader Filipinos trust not to sip from the finger bowl in state functions. Also, up to then, economic figures seemed pretty good.

But it seems that local officials were already seduced into thinking they’d be scott-free in terms of the terms expiring in 2007. And that perhaps other considerations that mattered in July last year (promises of assistance, pork barrel, etc.) matter less so a year later. Whatever the reason (or was it simply all a tactical pause?), the President’s SONA seems poised to be: going great guns for Charter change.

Besides trotting out former President Ramos to show party unity, and involving state colleges and universities in the campaign,  the President is playing a card she’s best poised to play: Federalism. While actions such as proclaiming she’s prepared to re-organize economic planning around super-regions (embryo Federal states in a way) paint the Federal landscape in big, bold strokes, nothing’s definite or sure.

Still, she can go and consult the provinces and by so doing, show how she’s cultivated them more thoroughly and well than the rest of the national leadership. Never mind if students heckled her again.

Amando Doronila puts it bluntly: no prisoners will be taken, and if she wins the referendum, the President is in power until -get this- 2020.

Also, JB Baylon on why people aren’t revolting. Billy Esposo denies that COPA, a group he once belonged to, conspired with the Arroyos to seize the presidency. Jacob Weisberg on how the wealthy die.

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55 comments

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  1. cvj

    Anna is right. ‘Genuine democracy’ means power to the majority without sacrificing justice for the minority. It starts with clean elections and accepting whoever the masses would vote in next. It means abandoning attempts trying to tweak the system in our [the middle’s] favor (via changes to ‘unicameral parliamentary’ and/or a ‘federal set-up’, etc). The only tweaking i could accept is ammending the Constitution to allow for a run-off. In this way, sufficiently hated candidates will have less chance of being elected through a plurality.

    In light of our recent history with installing Arroyo, it should realize the folly of adopting an elitist mind set as justification for setting-up a political caste system. We’ve seen that the EDSA2 crowd’s judgements could be every bit as flawed as that of EDSA3’s. Being in the minority, Civil Society should give up its futile attempts to seek electability and concentrate instead on fiscalizing and guaranteeing minority rights for itself and others.

  2. anna de brux

    CVJ,

    Totally agree with everything you said.

    It is essential that the Philippines adopt the run off elections rule. It’s difficult to convince people to unite under a leadership that only had 19% of the votes. FVR might have “succeeded” to bring a bit of cohesion but he was lucky.

  3. cvj

    Arroyo is also counting on luck to secure her legacy. Her gameplan is to consolidate power by crushing the only viable oppostion (the left), and ensuring the middle remains docile in the meantime hoping the economy grows sufficiently on her watch. She is counting on the Philippines being small and manageable enough for the Singapore model to work without having to do a Tianamnen style massacre at some point down the road. In any case, her only way out now is historical contingency guaranteed by the military as she is bankrupt all other aspects. Quite a roll of the dice. More likely, we’ll end up like Colombia.

  4. anna de brux

    CVJ,

    Problem with Gloria is she thinks she’s got a super brain; she’s extremely overrated. She’s wily and capable of being instantly reactive but these traits don’t require super intellect – your common pickpocket possesses the same traits.

    As to luck and an all-out war, Who does she think she is, Napoleon?

    Geez – she gotta straighten out her thinking process and improve her technical skills before she can even reach the “talampakan” of Napoleon.

  5. anna de brux

    Re: “She is counting on the Philippines being small and manageable enough for the Singapore model to work…”

    One thing that Gloria and her legion of supporters (hah, legion! ok, ok, minions…) must consider is that while the Philippines is tiny but because of its topography, it cannot be as manageable as the island like Singapore. Also, there is quite a difference between the Chinese and the Latin-like Pinoys; the former have the inherent trait of PERSEVERANCE!

    Pinas and Pinoys need to exert more effort – persevere more, put more discipline and do away with tribalism or regionalism to put a semblance of manageability.

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