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Jul 08

Weekend brain enhancement

Could an American coup d’etat ever be possible? Maybe.

The Spanish Socialist government and the Pope: confrontation or evolution?

Read John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter proclaiming Thomas More patron saint of politicians:

In this context, it is helpful to turn to the example of Saint Thomas More, who distinguished himself by his constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions precisely in his intention to serve not power but the supreme ideal of justice. His life teaches us that government is above all an exercise of virtue.

Is human aggression part of our primate hard-wiring? Robert M. Saposlky argues that’s not necessarily so (read the article on print months ago; now its online).

Imagine a world where pigs are so delicate that humans can’t visit them, as it risks a porcine pandemic. That’s the way it’s increasingly becoming in America. While the utterly fascinating article, Swine of the times: the making of the modern pig is difficult to obtain online, there’s a good discussion of it in indbay.org (the original’s in the May issue of my favorite magazine, Harper’s). Then again, there’s petri dish pork in our future, so can one be too humane about food animals?

In the de gustibus department, Wierd Meat looks at eating rats. To compensate for that thought, think instead of beer-battered, deep-fried bacon double quarter pounders. Then be thankful, that at long last, a guide to the shelf life of common condiments. Then read about all things pizza-related. And a cute article on Clamato.

43 comments

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  1. Phil Cruz

    Manolo,

    I guess you wanted your readers to take a breather from politics this weekend. So you write about food. But why all about “pigs and pork?” Now you’ve reminded about Congressmen.

  2. mlq3

    because everything is politics, even food!

  3. Phil Cruz

    I get your point, Manolo. Hungry people is politics, indeed!

  4. juan makabayan

    On ‘poli(tics) unsaturated’ topic & poli unsaturated fats:

    “The best way to prepare our foods is to BOIL and BROIL them, and then use the oil over the food already cooked, so this way the oil will be fresh and natural, preserving their mono or poli unsaturated fats, which are the only fats that are good for our health and that will make us live longer! Good luck!”http://www.dightonrock.com/transfat%20english.htm

  5. comelecAKO

    food is absolutely a political matter. and so is potable water. just wondering … can water be a viable source of national income? we’re archipelagic and saltwater is something we have a lot of. suppose we a desalinization facility that could produce potable fresh (or at least brackish) water in commercial quantities, couldn’t we sell that to countries with scarce water resources? Or even countries where conflict restricts access to potable water?

    Maybe too naive? Maybe. But I can’t help but remember that there was a time when people thought that electricity would never widely used.

  6. juan makabayan

    MLQ3,
    ‘American coup’ is a good read. Just wondering if the ‘Explainer’ can assemble a similar set resource persons to comment on ‘American coup’ and relate to our experience. Blogs does provide a contining synthesis of ideas on specific key issues like the politicalization of the military, i wonder how it could influence the mainstream media as in the case of ‘the explainer’, hosted by a mega-hyper-linked (hyper-liked) blog host?

  7. manuelbuencamino

    The American coup de etat is something that some commentators say has already occured. It was done, to use your pet phrase, through an auto-golpe. Compare the freedoms enjoyed by Americans before Bush. Compare the rights and benefits enjoyed by working Americans before Bush took over. There was a time when America was well on its way to becoming a true paradise for workers. Now it’s the garden of eden for the “haves and have more”. Bush turned the domestic agenda of America from the New Deal to the Raw Deal. And it’s not only about taxes.He has attacked education, social security, medicare, torts and every other area that the American ruling class finds inconvenient.

  8. vic

    But the beauty of the American Society, is that the people can reverse the trend by throwing out Bush and his control of Congress and Senate and bring back the Like of Bill Clinton and in no time America will be Great Again.

  9. jhay

    I did get to sample a deep-fried rat before. We caught it in a rice field in Laguna. If you can get it cooked by someone who’s in the know, you’d find it hard to tell it’s a rat you’re eating.

  10. baycas

    sidelight:

    in truth, there is a potential threat of reassortment between the current avian H5N1 influenza strain and the circulating human or porcine influenza viruses. this is where the greatest concern lies because an influenza strain may evolve that permits human-to-human transmission. a pandemic would then be a possibility.

    highlight:

    pork politics will again be overtly contagious in the coming weeks as impeachment draws near. unspoken motto of primates in government (which is actually a corruption of descartes’ famous line):

    i stink, therefore i ham.

  11. baycas

    …a deadly influenza strain may evolve…

  12. Abe N. Margallo

    “‘American coup’ is a good read. Just wondering if the ‘Explainer’ can assemble a similar set resource persons to comment on ‘American coup’ and relate to our experience.”

    Juan, let me try this (somehow, by connecting the . . .)

    MLQ3: At the rate this is going, it may have been possible that spiritual justifications were given: it is all right to cheat, so long as it prevents a larger evil, say, the victory of Fernando Poe Jr. [or if I may add, Ollanta Humala, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or those who actually made it like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales]

    Many sectors, whose post-Edsa People Power dedication to democracy has been shattered twice, apparently wish to scuttle democracy and replace it with something that is more to their liking.

    And what is that? A “guided” democracy, which is a democracy purged of that great evil (in their minds, at least) known as “populism” — democracy where the majority of the population does not have any influence in policymaking, or any participation in selecting those who would hold public offices. As Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman once famously quipped, “Vox populi? Vox humbug!” Stripped to its essential attributes, the foundation of the survival strategy of the present administration and its allies is: We cannot trust a people who do not trust us. Therefore, limit and circumscribe the tyranny of the majority. Our great problem today is that they would institute a tyranny of the minority: of men of the cloth, men in uniform, men in the House, the Palace, the boardrooms of society, the social and professional clubs; yes, a minority but loud enough to rely on the typical Filipino’s propensity to avoid outright divisions at all costs, though the divisions be fundamental and important . . . .

    DUNLAP: Well, without commenting on this particular subject—

    KOHN: You shouldn’t. [Laughs]

    DUNLAP: —is this not something that is decided at the ballot box? I mean, aren’t these the kinds of issues that the American people decide when they elect a president?

    KOHN: But you imply by that statement, Charlie, that the ballot box exists as a kind of pristine, uncontextualized Athenian gathering at the square to vote. In fact, the ballot box in this country is the product of how things are framed by the political parties, by the political leaders. Also, very few of our congressional districts now are really contested, after gerrymandering. Very few of our Senate seats are real contests.

    LUTTWAK: It becomes about personalities: you ask an American citizen to choose between Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry, and they choose Laura Bush. But it doesn’t mean that they favor the misuse of the American military to try and change the political culture of Afghanistan. This is madness—and it is bipartisan madness.

    BACEVICH: That’s a key point.

    LUTTWAK: Bipartisan madness . . . .

  13. cvj

    Abe, a few name changes here and there and the transition is almost seamless.

    Andrew Greeley has a related article where he suggest that it is Dick Cheney who is pushing the US Presidency to take on dictatorial powers:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0707-30.htm

  14. Karl Garcia

    American Coup?

    Has everyone forgotten the U.S.CIVIL WAR?
    They had a good president then,ABE Lincoln,but the circumstances really made it inevitable.

    But with today,with the democrats and even some republicans saying that the invasion of IRAQ is wrong,maybe.

    But they will all reunite again,because of NOKOR.
    Methinks that the “professional”, U.S. Military is subservient to the civilian authority.Once their respect for civilian authority fades, then a civil war or coup is not remote.

    On a different note…Food politics? As,I said once,Everything boils down to politics.

  15. Karl Garcia

    Anna,
    About Gen.Lim,
    I think it will all depend on how the palace will handle the inspector general’s report.If it will be the same as to how the palace handled the Mayuga report, then we know what to expect.
    The defence secretary has been silent,but I think it is time for a non silent defence secretary.I guess,if some one interviews him, he will say ;the fact finding report is still being evaluated.

  16. Karl Garcia

    But Anna,
    I think the Gonzalez(S) DUO, will not give a damn about the inspector general’s report.The DOJ,throgh the NBI will now or is now inviting Gen. Lim.The Gonzalez(s) duo think they are above the DND and make the secretary of DND,very quiet.IS that what you call civilian supremacy over the military;or over another civilian?

  17. Simon

    MLQ3 – So when are you running for office?

  18. Phil Cruz

    I think Gloria has been captured. By the hawks. And she is left with no choice but to feed the hawks in her Cabinet. the only way to survive. In fact she is actually enjoying feeding these hawks. And she has to feed the pigs, too, who have also captured her by threatening to vote for impeachment if they don’t get their pork.

    Yes, Manolo, feeding hawks and pigs is also politics.

  19. mlq3

    Simon- I’m not, and I shouldn’t.

  20. juan makabayan

    MLQ3, great! greater !! greatest !!! mlq3 & the heroism of the common man – jdlc – “i’m a good citizen, nothing more, nothing less”

  21. juan makabayan

    phil, the ‘hawks’ have evolved:

    “”The world’s biggest danger to humanity today are the synarchists, a group of fascist/nazi-types, exposed many times over the years, whose aim is to make this a fascist world, and use the threat of terrorism to cause fear and tension, to trick the people into demanding that their governments protect them from this fearful danger, dished out by the Synarchists.
    But, in doing this, lo, the people get a dictatorship, lose their citenzenship/freedoms and become serfs, subjects, or slaves and thus fall into the Synarchist plot they were trying to escape…”http://www.pegmusic.com/synarchist-hist-1.html

  22. juan makabayan

    abe, really interesting, the discussion on ‘American coup’ is very relevant TO and IN the present Philippine setting, you’d wish to invite Kohn, etal to come over share some insights, the discussion really does help clarify key and very important issues re military in politics and vice versa.
    LUTTWAK: I’ve done it for other countries.
    KOHN: The Constitution is being warped.
    BACEVICH: But there is a more subtle danger too. The civilian leadership knows that in dealing with the military, they are dealing with an institution whose behavior is not purely defined by adherence to the military professional ethic, disinterested service, civilian subordination. Instead, the politicians know that they’re dealing with an institution that to some degree has its own agenda. And if you’re dealing with somebody who has his own agenda, well, you can bargain, you can trade. That creates a small opening—again, not to a coup but to the military making deals with politicians whose purposes may not be consistent with the Constitution.

  23. juan makabayan

    The relevance:

    LUTTWAK: I’ve done it for other countries. (Coup detat in the Philippines?)

  24. cvj

    Phil, your point about Gloria being ‘captured’ by the hawks is another concrete example of why her having a questionable mandate goes beyond the level of academic discussion. Even without this issue, the pressure on the President to give-in to special interests has always been there. All the more now that she does not have the people to fall back-on.

  25. kimosabe27

    I read somewhere that there was an attempted “coup de etat” against the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt during the midst of the Great Depression. “Coup de etat” because it was not the US Armed Forces who will execute the takeover but members of the American Legion, a veterans’ group, and would be headed by a certain Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler. The group was being bankrolled by members of the American elite which included the Du Ponts and the Rockefellers. The coup fell through because Gen. Butler remained loyal to the Flag and Constitution and exposed the plotters to Congress.
    Just my two cents worth.

  26. Schumey

    Phil,

    Its more like vultures and hyenas as both are opportunists and has a penchant for a free dinner. Why toil when others can do the dirty work afterwhich you can just gorge yourself. Isn’t this the way the current dispensation works?

  27. juan makabayan

    cvj, phil,
    does it imply that GMA needs to be rescued, helped with a way out of the bind that can come from the people and even the opposition? that, inversely, more pressure on her to let go, the tighter she grips on to the hawks? i saw this take on the Hyatt 10’s move and press on her, when FVR & generals came to her rescue.

  28. antonio walanglaban

    and how the opposition works too, schumey. remember edsa 3?

  29. Carl

    Yes, there are lots of hyenas and vultures on both sides of the fence. That’s why Edsa I and II failed.

    On more pleasant topics, the food articles are very interesting. I have been surprised to find out how, lately, a fairly large number of high school graduates are now interested in pursuing culinary arts instead of the regular bachelor degrees. Fifteen or twenty years ago, very few would think of careers as cooks.

  30. cvj

    juan makabayan, that seems to be the way it works. the more she’s pushed to the wall, the more she relies on the hawks. Earlier on, Manolo posted Boo Chanco’s argument (in the context of the impeachment) ‘…that [the opposition] should give to Gloria the period of political calm she needs in order “to undo some of the things she did that are inimical to public welfare.”’ This seems to be one of the rationale behind the “let’s move on” approach, which is feasible if enough people close their eyes to the continuing crime (thereby turning into accessories after the fact).

    Many of our fellow citizens have indeed chosen this course of action and have joined in what Abe calls the ‘conspiracy of silence’ fortifying themselves with the appropriate rationalizations (e.g. moral equivalence between admin and opposition, lack of alternatives, it’s a rotten system anyway etc.). But there will always be those who have no stomach for this option. They have chosen to call out the injustice and as a result have suffered the consequences (e.g. the Magdalos.) while others have become collateral damage in the ongoing power-play (i.e. members of the above-ground Left). To these heroes and martyrs, we owe our support, if only to help ensure that in the future, there will be more Filipinos who are heroic like them and less who are opportunists like so many of our countrymen today.

  31. juan makabayan

    cvj, thanks,
    “collateral damage in the ongoing power-play (i.e. members of the above-ground Left).” or the legal Left are collateral TARGETS and the civilians (‘all-out-war’ casualties & refugees) collateral damages?

    “To these heroes and martyrs, we owe our support, if only to help ensure that in the future, there will be more”

    Magdalos San Juan, ‘Filinvest 6’, etal were captured (not arrested) with the help of citizen-informants who were after the reward money. With the 5M for Gringo’s head the Palace is very confident he’ll fall soon. Worse than apathy, greed makes martyrs out of our heroes.

  32. Abe N. Margallo

    Juan, you would probably recall who said the following in 1961?

    Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

    Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

    This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    No, the above quotation did not come from anti-Iraq War activist Cindy Sheehan or a Bolivarian leftist from UCLA, but a from a sitting U.S. president about to leave the White House, who happened to be a five-star general too. It was Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address to the American nation, remember? He was referring to the “Iron Triangle” or the profit-driven collusion among the private industry (defense contractors), The Pentagon, and the U.S. government.

    Now, maybe before our “weekend brain enhancement” exercise ends we should compare Eisenhower’s angst with that of another general (four-star and also a West Pointer) and former Philippine president Fidel V. Ramos. In 2003, Ramos expressed his own qualms about the “unholy alliance” and “perverse symbiosis” between politicians and a few families, powerful, wealthy and “greedy rent-seeking,” as the “mother of all our problems” throughout history.

    Don’t these clearly give us the notion that even icons and luminaries like Ike and FVR, who might have seen it all from a great vantage point, have been powerless against well-entrenched powers?

    Why is it so hard for instance to get 79 congressmen appreciate the fact that the physical evidence of the “Garci tapes” are at the very least a “probable cause” for “betrayal of public trust” which is what impeachment at the lower House stage is all about? Who are pulling the strings to make these “honorable ladies and gentlemen” behave like puppets?

    Yes, we need more alert citizens to form our One Voice.

  33. Carl

    Over-indulgence in navel-gazing makes one obsessed and repetitive. It’s so boring!

  34. jmakabayan

    Last year the US embassy issued statement of denial regarding involvement in expose’s. But they must have reports on present coup jitters. Will they just stand by and watch or play a role?

  35. cvj

    juanmakabayan, i agree, your term ‘collateral targets’ is more appropriate. as for greed, gma’s regime survives on betrayal – an effective weapon, but liable to misfire.

    abe, given fvr’s warning, i wonder why he continues to push for unicameral-parliamentary when this would do nothing to dismantle the ‘unholy alliance’ he refers to?

  36. leosalvo

    Too much of politics is bad, our politics is sick, our politicians are sickening, the people are sick about it but they cannot escape from it. Even their food is spoiled and stolen by dirty and thieving politicians. Gloria is no.1, worst of all.

  37. leosalvo

    btw, GMA is the first ASEAN leader, making the Phil the first in ASEAN country, to allow planting and propagation of genetically modified organism (GMO) that is banned in many parts of EU. Bt Corn is now sold in many parts of the country especially, metro manila. GMO’s danger to health are indicated by research results in EU, UK and US. Pls Google GMO.

  38. Jacob

    manuelbuenocamino:
    “And it’s not only about taxes.He has attacked education, social security, medicare, torts and every other area that the American ruling class finds inconvenient.”

    1. Education – I agree.
    2. Social security – Bush has been able to do nothing.
    3. Medicare – Wrong, Bush presided over its $40 billion expansion via the perscription drug debacle.
    4. Torts – Negative, tort reform has been dead in the water.

    If you’re pro-big government, Bush the ‘conservative’ has been your hero. If you’re a regular Republican who believes in small government and low spending, you’ve been screwed over big time by Bush.

  39. Abe N. Margallo

    cvj,

    Here’s what FVR wrote:

    Constitutional change

    . . . . The amendments I most want to be enacted are those that would transform our Presidential form of government to a Parliamentary system, initially under a unitary framework, and then, eventually, under a Federal configuration when the problems of terrorism, separatism, insurgency and military adventurism shall have been overcome.

    I would also encourage and support constitutional reforms that would ensure the sharing of political power among a broader base of leaders and stakeholders. The evils of ‘dynastism’ and ‘turncoatism’ should be frontally addressed in the amended Constitution. With both chambers of Congress unable or unwilling, since 1987, to define in the law these unwanted practices which must be immediately corrected, it is necessary to articulate the definitions, and incorporate the prohibitions and the penalties for non-compliance in the body and language of the Constitution itself. Electoral, political party and judicial reforms are also urgently called for…

    Regime change under a parliamentary system would be peacefully and constitutionally effected through the “no-confidence” vote inherent in that system without the involvement of the Armed Forces or the National Police. Equally important would be the smooth transitioning into a new government. (Example: Thailand 1997 and Germany 2005). The reform of the electoral process and the Commission of Elections by constitutional amendment should simultaneously take place so that a credible plebiscite to ratify the amendments can be carried out.

    The unholy alliance

    What I regard as the root cause of many of our problems is the intimate link, call it the unholy alliance, between business and politics in this country. Throughout our history, wealthy, powerful and politically entrenched families have been able to use public authority for their private benefit. This durable oligarchy has used the powers of the State to create opportunities for themselves to make money and more money – without having to create economic value for the common good.
    It is time we put an end to this perverse symbiosis – which at bottom is responsible for our endemic problems of greedy rent-seeking, crony capitalism, and patronage politics. One oft-repeated way of changing all this – which bears repeating here – is to continue leveling the playing fields of economic competition and political participation.

    Above all, our elected leaders must never lose sight of the vision of a safer, more secure, and more progressive Philippines, at peace with itself and with the world, and restored to its rightful place of respect and dignity in the community of nations – a position which we once occupied. And ordinary citizens, as concerned Filipinos, must all help push our beloved Philippines fast forward to a better future.
    _________

    Here’s my own two cents re the above (from some of my blog entries and please pardon my long discourse, Manolo):

    Others have seen the charter change scheme as a political accommodation for two politicians, former President Ramos and House Speaker De Venecia, the critical supports of both before and during the impeachment were instrumental in keeping Arroyo in office. The interest of De Venecia in the parliamentary form is an open secret: to be the head of the government without being elected nationally as president. Ramos’ motivations are not as well contoured (except perhaps as shown above plus the fact that it was offered as a way out for GMA from the political crisis and then as an opportunity for a political come back later, i.e., under a parliamentary system she could run as an MP in Pampanga or Iloilo and then aspire to be PM and return to power).

    Unfortunately, despite the monstrosity of the problem and the perceived impatience of the Filipino people, FVR’s answer (a shift to a parliamentary form of government eventually leading to a “Federal configuration”) is minimal at best. Such a solution bandied as sure-bet coming as it does from a former president who came quite close to taking Philippine economy to tiger status, is nonetheless likely to founder on the rock again. The thesis: it is disproportionately incremental, doubted if not distrusted and as business-as-usual as those of other failed presidents’, before or after FVR. Not wanting to be adventuristic (except possibly Marcos), or a “magician” (like Arroyo), the political class has fallen short and every time allowing the oligarchy to prevail over them no sweat. . .

    Beyond the formalism of Charter change (and post-Arroyo for she, too, will pass away), the People Power project must then aspire for the formation of a new public which should come ahead of its being embodied in a public law like the Constitution. The project may not start on a clean slate because arguably there’s plenty to build on from the present setup. What is important however is that the process of experimentation must not be constrained by some arbitrary reverence to what has come to be regarded as the established order, one that’s often honored in the profession of the Rule of Law. There should be as much willingness to transform now as in the future as the needs arise, choosing continual trialing over the claim of constitutional stability.

    One of my criticisms of rigid constitutionalism that has been leased to us by the Americans is that it diminishes both the ideation and the realpolitik of democracy by making it so difficult for the people to change it mid-course and yet easy enough for an accountable Supreme Court to tell what supposedly the constitution says it is as the proclivities of the robed sires so warrant.

    What the still tentative People Power practitioners hope to see in the last analysis, after two People Power revolutions, is not just another “personnel” or “regime” change but a rejection of the “system in place” that has sustained “throughout history” the “unholy alliance” and “perverse symbiosis” of the “wealthy, powerful, and politically entrenched families” forming the “durable oligarchy.” As a result of this alliance and symbiosis, it should be pointed out, more than two thirds of the 85 million Filipinos live in “humiliation, powerlessness and brutal hardship,” to borrow some compelling words from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. A mere constitutional amendment is unlikely to alter the situation of the Filipino poor, perhaps not during FVR’s or our lifetime.

    The Filipinos would be ready to challenge whatever myth there is that surrounds a borrowed constitutional order when the iceberg of mistrust among the collaborating actors is allowed to be broken. And if and when the time comes a Baynihan Pact uniquely Filipino is ready to be forged, it behooves the representatives to be faithful to the represented and to listen too to those who may not be the nearest and the loudest because “all human beings are created equal,” to use the political judgment or rhetoric of our colonial masters whom FVR at times hearkens to.

    Lastly, to ensure the success of the systemic and paradigmatic change hoped for will require some self-abnegating mission, nay, a political act of love ranging from one end of the political spectrum to the other (i.e., from the Left, through the Center to the Right) instead of the persistent desire for ideological triumphalism from all sides. This collaboration, or holy alliance, if you will, could be the antithesis of the unholy one FVR has appropriately and correctly identified.

  40. cvj

    Abe, thanks for the explanation. From FVR’s piece, it seems he favors a unicameral-parliamentary because of the ease by which government can be changed. The way he says we can cut the ‘unholy alliance’ is to level the political and economic playing fields which, at best, has little to do with having a unicameral-parliamentary set-up (as the One Voice position paper explains).

    I agree with you, his proposal has the hallmarks of incrementalism. Paradoxically, the more radical outcome is possible under the current system of direct voting where a genuine man of the masses can be voted in. Erap was a pretender, FPJ was an unfulfilled promise, maybe the masses would be third time lucky. Those who wish for a more conservative outcome should propose to amend the Constitution to allow for a run-off. As shown in Peru (and possibly Mexico), majorities (as opposed to significant minorities) tend to be more conservative.

    On the ongoing People Power project, as a practical matter, how can we go about going beyond the formalism of Charter Change and rigid constitutionalism without opening us up to manipulation by the politicians and other self-interested parties?

  41. Abe N. Margallo

    cvj,

    “On the ongoing People Power project, as a practical matter, how can we go about going beyond the formalism of Charter Change and rigid constitutionalism without opening us up to manipulation by the politicians and other self-interested parties?”

    I had these musings when I was asked similar question immediately after People Power II:

    Finding an alternative or alternatives to the system in place in a complex setting should be the collaborative work of many, not just of one or a few select individuals. There’s no one person with enough acumen who could spell it out just exactly how. What’s important is that people debate openly, collaborate and, committed to certain guiding principles, act. The collaboration could be in many forms, and the process itself could be long and winding. . .

    So, if, for example, the structure of concentrated power is the problem, what is the exact or specific formula for diffusing it? Again, no one could probably be sure. What matters is to take the initiative. Adopting federalism or some arrangement that formally decentralizes power could be one positive beginning towards power distribution. In two occasions, the Filipinos were so close to doing it through “extra-constitutional” means. Why both movements did not ultimately succeed is for everybody to ponder. The important thing is to think it through with others [like the exchanges you have been doing in Manolo’s blogsite].

    Possibly, the reason why both movements did not succeed to restructure power is that the grassroots leaders who started both movements ended up being sidelined again by traditional leaders who were just a new set of power-holders favoring the same concentration of power in the hands of a few local elites and their foreign partners, and pursuing the preservation of the system in place, in the name of stability and growth, political or otherwise. Whose stability? Whose growth? . . .

    But, how could we make the elites listen and share power graciously or at least without a fight to approximate, if not attain, a perceived ideal? To find some answers we could think about how, for example, was the “institution” of slavery in America—which had been universally justified by the American founding fathers for economic reasons—ended? Was it because the power system in America became a saint overnight or was it because of the work of certain anonymous men and women who struggled, one step at a time, to end it? In other words, was it people power or elite enlightenment or both that ended the rules and the laws, the institution and the justification for slavery?

    UP Professor Randy David in “Alternative to a dysfunctional gov’t,” (Inq7.net., December 8, 2004) proposes a clearer three-step approach “to turn the country around,” namely: “First, a large and articulate constituency for reform must assemble itself from the countless fragmented voices and social movements that are already making themselves heard in our society today. Its first task is to draw and agree on a realistic roadmap to national recovery, carefully marking out the main obstacles and dangers and indicating the immediate priorities to be tackled. Second, the document must be explained and debated in public fora all over the country, refined, and then presented to the President and Congress for action. And third, depending on the response of the present political leadership, the reform movement may either call for new elections or a constitutional convention or both.”

    The argument of Crisline G. Torres, a professor of political science at the University of the Philippines, while a bit more cautious is worth listening to. Responding to the charter change euphoria, she calls for –

    “ . . . a lengthening of the time horizon of progressives where instead of rushing into political campaigns on Charter change, they should actively engage in the study groups on constitutional design issues” and “in a matter of years . . . develop the conceptual sophistication to finally come up with a range of positions that can be put on the negotiating table with different political groups and the public on how to meet the at times conflicting goals of effective governance, political accountability, and more inclusive representation with respect to the constitutional reforms.” (inq7.net, March 19, 2003)

    If you won’t mind my indulgence, let me close with this quote from a letter-essay I’ve sent to Randy David:

    To be the author of its own destiny and begin realizing what is hoped, a nation, at least philosophically, has to look into the inner structure of its being: as a community, by rediscovering the public realm that informs it and the strands of solidarity that hold it together against internal and external forces; and the individual member, by defining the tasks he assigns to himself, his goals he aspires for, and the values his life rests on, and then determining how his tasks, goals and values are identified with the community or the public, or, in other words, how his self-seeking and private wants may be made to serve other-regarding and shared ends.

  42. cvj

    Unfortunately, even in the United States, it took a Civil War to finally get rid of the institution of slavery. Getting the elite to ‘listen and share power graciously or at least without a fight’ would require them to exhibit far more wisdom and regard for posterity than they have so far shown. Add to this the currently fashionable attitude of strategic nonparticipation in political matters by those who can otherwise make a difference. This situation would most likely lead to the elite and middle class being overtaken by events leading to further polarization down the road. Sober voices like that of Randy David’s whose advice can head off such a confrontation are summarily dismissed as belonging to the ‘left’ without regard to the merit of his proposals. Things are not looking good, but all we can do is hope that people come around.

  43. Abe N. Margallo

    I too have great faith in the People Power phenomenon, not the variety that kills and confiscates, but the communicative one, just as the upheavals in 1986 and 2001. The justification for another seems ripe, now that even the bishops have collectively ignored the clamor of their flock . . . well via a “pastoral” spin that could put Bunye’s and Defensor’s gift for it to shame. I mean how else would GMA now prove her legitimacy and hope to govern effectively through 2010 for the “common good” by simply burying the Garci tapes scandal as if no one knows about it? Do the bishops really think the Filipinos are still the friars’ half-children?

    This intervention serves as “an unproductive (clerical) exercise, dismaying every citizen, and deepening the citizen’s negative perception of the (themselves), left, right and center.” The bishops will now have to justify their authority to shepherd their flock because of this “lapse in judgment.”

    Yes, Manolo, this (healing) process is beginning to be very cost-prohibitive.

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