(Mea maxima culpa: Quite spectacularly, I paid tribute to President Magsaysay the day before his actual birth anniversary. His 99th birth anniversary is today. So what was written yesterday, properly belongs to today! A rundown of the Magsaysay awardees reminded me of this error. See Fool for Five for more on The Guy.).
There was a great deal of buzz last night concerning the Commission on Election’s expected disposing of the so-called “people’s initative” today. An official announcement is expected soon. What’s the hubbub, Bub? We’ll have to see what the Comelec decides. The current conspiracy theory is, a decision that’s expedited -that is, if the Comelec says it can’t attend to the petition, throws it out, and provokes the proponents into filing an appeal at the Supreme Court- favors the government, which has more time to lobby the Supreme Court for a favorable verdict.
The reserve option, as the Supreme Court deliberates, is for the House of Representatives to announce it has enough congressmen pledged to support amendments, to force the question of whether the Constitution requires 3/4 of all members of Congress put together, or requires 3/4 of each chamber, to approve amendments for submission in a plebiscite. the ultimate option, is of course, a constitutional convention, but that might be viewed as too much of a surrender, considering how combative the Palace is.
(Update: Comelec decides to dismiss the petition. So now it will go to the Supreme Court; the statement that the signatures gathered “appeared to meet” the required percentage is significant; it may expedite the verification process should the government secure a victory in the Supreme Court).
Solar 1 sinking stories for today: the spill could be worse than the Exxon Valdez. Oil still leaking out. But Science Department says spill being exaggerated. Oil spill oozing into fishing grounds. Foreign media remarks on low-tech cleanup.
French ask Philippines to sign convention on disappeared persons. Inconvenient request for our government!
President clips powers of anti-corruption body, shuffles powers to the Executive Secretary.
Cabinet dares Congress to do its worst.
Roadmap for Philippines by 2030 being put together. Peryodistang Pinay writes on six cities attempting something usually considered a fatal flaw of Filipino officials: that long-term planning thing (in other local government news, one mayor defies Interior Department order; another complies). An emerging trend to consider: returning and retiring OFW’s as the lifeboat of the economy.
Palace will ignore Singapore arbitration court on airport case.
Patricio Diaz in Mindanews suggests a leading advocate of the “people’s initiative” has been selective in reviewing what the Chief Justice has written in the past:
[The present Chief Justice] posed four issues which Pirma had to satisfy. Three of the four are relevant to the present people’s initiative and he would surely pose the same should the matter be elevated to the Supreme Court. The three issues:
Does the proposed change constitute an amendment, not a revision, of the Constitution? (His position: Initiative cannot be used to revise the Constitution, only to amend it.)
Are the signatories of the petition the true source of the clamor for the proposed Charter change? (His position: Initiative is a reserve power of and by the people, not by the incumbent officials and their machinators.)
Are the six million signatures attached to the Pirma petition genuine and verifiable? (His position: Most important of all, signatures must be verified as real and genuine, not concocted, fictitious or fabricated. The only way to do this is to enable the Comelec to conduct a nationwide verification process as mandated by the Constitution and the law. Such verification, it bears stressing, is subject to review by this Court.)
There’s only one explanation why Pedrosa evaded these issues and positions of Panganiban – the people’s initiative question if elevated to the Panganiban Court will be decided on the issue of legality, not of free speech.
Connie Veneracion has her own thoughts on the matter.
Billy Esposo contrasts American and Filipino whistleblowers.
Max Soliven in his column, says Manila Mayor Lito Atienza chortling over the possibility constitutional amendments may enable him to run for office next year (otherwise he faces the 3-term limit); confirms his running mate would be boxer Manny Pacquiao.
John Mangun argues Filipino businessmen are stuck in a 1960s time warp, they’re ignoring the need to mobilize capital.
Jon Wiener: don’t compare Iraq to the Philippines.
Thaksin takes advantage of assassination plot brouhaha.
Mark Almond: has America arrogated unto itself the power to define legitimate People Power? Why was Mexico denied recognition for it?
Occasionally commentators who celebrated Ukrainians blocking the main thoroughfares of Kiev condescend to jeer at Mexico’s sore losers and complain that businessmen are missing deadlines because dead-enders with nothing better to do are holding up the traffic. Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko was decisive when he declared himself president, but isn’t Lopez Obrador a demagogue for doing the same?
The color-coded revolutionaries of the former Soviet Union had a pro-Western agenda — such as bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and the EU — but in Latin America radicals question the wisdom of membership of US-led bodies such as NAFTA and the WTO.
The crude truth is that Washington cannot afford to let Mexico’s vast oil reserves fall into hands of a president even half as radical as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
Hauntingly familiar words, this time coming from Taiwan:
Most of Taiwan’s people have been in depression over their leader’s not very glorious re-election two years ago and then outraged by a spate of corruption scandals implicating his top aides, family members, and now himself.
The people’s anger has been further fueled by the judiciary’s inaction, slow action and lukewarm action to find the truth of the election eve vote-swaying assassination attempt on the president and the vice president. The case is formally closed, but the truth remains at large.
The outrage has reached boiling point in recent months when the first lady was alleged to have used her influence to settle business disputes and taken as reward expensive jewelry and department store gift vouchers from tycoons; and the president’s in-laws were alleged to have made huge profits through insider-trading.
Most astonishing of all, auditors suspect the president has illegally obtained at least NT$36 million by using invoices of others to substantiate his refund claims under the special presidential expense account between 2003 and 2005…
In denying those allegations, the president stresses that not a cent of the refunds went to his family or personal pocket but all had been used to finance his secret diplomatic operations, which even the government institutions in charge of them were kept in the dark. He would show the receipts of his operatives as long as their true identities were not exposed.
Few take the president’s explanations seriously, as the people’s uppermost concern is not how he spent the funds but: How could he break the law for whatever purposes? Only a Machiavellian prince believes that the ends justify the means.
No wonder targets of Shih Ming-teh’s drive for “one million people, each committing NT$100, to depose the allegedly corrupt Chen” were achieved in just seven days, much sooner than the one month that organizers thought it would take.
But unless the president is officially charged with embezzlement, no protests can bring him down.
Is Malaysia 49 or 43 years old?
In the blogosphere, Philippine Commentary reproduces documents on the government censor’s decision to ban a documentary on Joseph Estrada.
Something curious happened to bikoy.net. He faced hostility when undertaking a survey. Part of a larger trend? Are people beginning to feel used and abused by survey firms?
galvantiator’s blog waxes enthusiastic about the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Asian blog awards lists nominees for best Philippine blog (thank you for including me in the list).