The dilemmas faced by Filipinos in Lebanon are severe; evacuation plans seem to be stymied -but 500 Filipinos have been evacuated (Toots Ople breaks down the number of Filipinos potentially involved in what happens). The President is trying wheedle oil out of Colonel Qaddafi.
Once again the blogosphere and online news proves its importance -and mettle- in global crisis situations such as the one unfolding in the Middle East.
Pajamas Media and The Truth Laid Bear both have a flurry of roundups on the situation. A reader kindly points to an article in The Observer, on how troubling the situation in the Middle East is becoming; another extremely unsettling analysis on what’s going on is in Vital Perspective:
The problem is this: While Syria does not want to get hit and will not make overt moves, so long as the Syrians cannot guarantee supplies will not reach Hezbollah or that Hezbollah won’t be given sanctuary in Syria, Israel cannot complete its mission of shattering Hezbollah and withdrawing. They could be drawn into an Iraq-like situation that they absolutely don’t want. Israel is torn. On the one hand, it wants to crush Hezbollah, and that requires total isolation. On the other hand, it does not want the Syrian regime to fall. What comes after would be much worse from Israel’s point of view.
This is the inherent problem built into Israel’s strategy, and what gives Hezbollah some hope. If Israel does not attack Syria, Hezbollah could well survive Israel’s attack by moving across the border. No matter how many roads are destroyed, Israel won’t be able to prevent major Hezbollah formations moving across the border. If they do attack Syria and crush al Assad’s government, Hezbollah could come out of this stronger than ever.
The Arab News newspaper, in its editorial, presents its view on the Lebanese government’s dilemma. Mike Cohen points to alarming statements by Newt Gingrich and former PM Mahathir of Malaysia -it’s World War III!
An analysis of the political psychology of Thaksin: eerily reminiscent of someone here at home.
A thought-provoking special report in The Manila Times on whether automating vote-counting will really deter fraud.
In the punditocracy, my column for today is Prima donna monologues.
Bong Austero has a sobering column on how those who run educational institutions aren’t just managers, but custodians of tradition and culture (and how the latter responsibility is dangerously being ignored).
Efren Danao suggests, if executive and other officials can be subjected to investigations by the Ombudsman, then members of Congress should be investigated, too.
A trial balloon? The hitherto-moribund idea of Congress holding a constituent assembly is revived, and here are Rita Linda Jimeno’s calculations:
The House, through Speaker Jose de Venecia, contends that since the Constitution is silent on whether or not the Senate and House of Representatives should vote separately to attain a vote of three-fourths, then it means that the number of congressmen, which is 236, should be added up to the number of senators, currently 23, to come up with a sum of 259. The three-fourths of this sum, the speaker says, is 194—the number needed for the two Chambers, taken as one, to comprise a constituent assembly that will propose revisions or amendments to the Constitution in a plebiscite. He therefore believes that if the required number of 194 is obtained even in the House alone, the constituent assembly will be deemed constituted and, amendments or revisions in the Constitution may then be proposed to the people.
Alas, the the Senate sees otherwise; so Jimeno quotes a retired judge:
Justice Mendoza strongly criticized this view … First, he said, the Senate’s view has reduced the amendment process to an ordinary legislative process of passing laws, which would, in effect, be a legislated form of Charter Change. This interpretation, Justice Mendoza said, blithely ignores the fact that ours is a rigid Constitution, which means that it cannot be amended by the ordinary process of legislation.
Second, he continued, the Senate interpretation is inconsistent with the pattern of other provisions of the Constitution… which suggests that when performing nonlegislative functions, the two houses must meet in joint session and then vote separately or, sometimes, jointly.
Among the instances when the two Chambers meet in a joint session to act on nonlegislative tasks are: When Congress declares a state of war; or when it confirms the President’s nomination of a member of the Senate or the House to be vice president of the Philippines, in the event of vacancy in that office; or when it sits as a Board to canvass the votes for President and Vice President and declares the winners.
In fact, the good justice added, when Congress decides to revoke the President’s declaration of Martial Law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, not only must the two Chambers meet in a joint session, but they must likewise vote jointly as well.
Given all these provisions in the Constitution, Justice Mendoza said there is no reason why the same requirement and procedure should not be applied in determining the manner of sitting and voting of the two houses when Congress acts as a constituent assembly. Indeed, he added, citing the case of Javellana vs Comelec (21 SCRA 774) “Senators and members of the House of Representatives act, not as members of Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly.”
The Polo Club as heritage site. The Pope’s opinions on music and liturgy (as to be expected from a classical pianist).
In the blogosphere, buzz on Bolante continues. Uniffors says the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles is hiding something; an OFW Living in Hong Kong tackles the theory that detaining Bolante in America is a good thing for the Palace; Coffee With Amee points out that Bolante’s visa cancellation is no minor matter, and while the full info isn’t out, something serious must be afoot! Ellen Tordesillas also thinks the Bolante affair is going to get more serious as time passes.
Personally: this is a hot, hot story for enterprising Filipino-Americans in the West Coast. Will they manage to hunt down the leads?
Ricky Carandang has been doing research on the internal dynamics of the Philippine episcopate. The factions seem to be as follows: doing the lobbying for the Palace, Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan of Tuguegarao; against the Palace, a group clustered around Archbishop Oscar Cruz. Mongster’s Nest blogs about a bishop’s account of what took place during the CBCP meeting.
Iloilo City Boy puts forward why wages in this country are so low.
Ethan Zuckerman has a fascinating entry on how the internet is growing, and how the idea of the “digital divide” is giving way to the concept of “digital opportunity.”