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Aug 31

The verdict

(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.

Which is it? Peso at 4 year high, or peso at 5 month high?

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.

In the punditocracy, my column for today is Farewell to Frank (see Newsstand’s tribute to him, too).

Rene Q, Bas in the Manila Times has a two part series, here and here, on the parliamentary system and some of the rubbish being peddled about it.

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).

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16 comments

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  1. john marzan

    “Asian blog awards lists nominees for best Philippine blog (thank you for including me in the list).”

    I think you should win, but you won’t.

  2. manuelbuencamino

    The normal grounds for an x-rating are excessive sex and/or violence and obscene language.

    The MTRCB was correct. The last part of Erap’s film met all the MTRCB disqualifications. It showed Mrs. Arroyo violently screwing the public and using obscene language while she was at it.

  3. john marzan

    john weiner:

    The Philippine war was part of the Spanish-American War of 1898, in which the U.S. promised to bring democracy to the Filipinos by freeing them from the Spaniards. But, as Ricks says, things there “began badly” when a powerful Philippine resistance movement challenged U.S. troops — “like Iraq in 2003.” In 1902, after three years of guerrilla fighting, the United States declared victory, although American forces remained in the country for decades, administering it first as a colony and then as a commonwealth. The Philippines was granted independence in 1946 — after almost five decades of U.S. military occupation (interrupted by World War II). Today it’s a functioning democracy.

    The problem with this version of history is that it doesn’t look closely enough at what happened in the Philippines.

    Bah! just send palparan over to pacify the iraqi insurgency!

    John Weiner:

    U.S. history provides a much better model for the future of Iraq: the withdrawal from Vietnam. Yes, that withdrawal was followed by a lot of suffering, but nothing like what came before it, when Americans killed something like 3 million Vietnamese. Because the United States got out in 1975, Vietnam today is a much better place — and so is the United States.

    if iraq is not the philippines, then vietnam it aint either.

    when the US left vietnam, hindi na nila binalikan ito.

    if the US leaves iraq prematurely, iraq will become another afghanistan, and will become a bigger threat to the US and others in the region. what’s the point of leaving it prematurely, kung babalikan rin ng US ito in the future.

    iba kasi ang mentality ng mga vietnamese fighthers at mga suicide bombing jihadis eh. you may want to leave the islamic jihadists alone, but the islamic jihadists in iraq won’t want to leave you alone.

  4. Jeg

    Naknantokwa, manuelbuencamino. That was your best line yet. Haha.

  5. Schumey

    I too saw the Erap docu, and MB is right. But screwing is a tame word compared to what I have in mind. While this is going on, GMA again reneged on her promise back in 2001 to the “landless” in Taguig. Could the rumors circulating in the greens of the Army-Navy golf course be true, that someone is actually trying to sell or have already sold areas in Fort Bonifacio and turn it into a retirement haven for foreigners and Filipino retirees? And that is the reason why they are “booting out” all claimants to these parcels of land. They are not touching the golf course as this is a selling point for would be buyers. Hmmm, this is not just a simple case of screwing if this rumor is true.

  6. john marzan

    cayetano kinasuhan na ni Mike Arroyo. Whoopee!

    http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php?news=531

  7. Anomie

    Manolo, I think there was a typo. The correct phrase should be “Mea maxima culpa”, not “me maxima culpa”

  8. Schumey

    john,

    This could be what Cayetano wanted. Now evidence can be presented and his arrogance could blow up in his face.

  9. mlq3

    thanks anomie, fixed it.

  10. john marzan

    re the mark almond article re America arrogating unto itself the power to define legitimate People Power. mukha nga.

  11. john marzan

    This could be what Cayetano wanted. Now evidence can be presented and his arrogance could blow up in his face.

    that’s what i was thinking too, schums.

  12. mrabello

    Atienza isn’t shy about being the trapo that he is..

    Perhaps, the only reason for his pro-chacha stance is because just like many local government tradpols and lower house low-lifes, he wants to do away with term limits.

    It’ll be indeed be interesting to see an Atienza(as in Ali)-Pacquiao tandem vs. a Lacson-Montano ticket.

  13. DatuPanot

    was it uncle sam who said “magsaysay is my guy”? hhmmmmmm? what was the “official” cause of the plane crash that killed president ramon magsaysay?

  14. Carl

    Thank you for explaining, mlq3. Yes, from a purely middle class perspective, the 1980’s were indeed very harrowing. The prospect of economic stagnation or ruin stared many in the face. And the scarcity of opportunity at home drove the middle class to seek greener pastures abroad. WWII saw the middle class trying to rebuild from the rubble, but there was optimism and hope.

    What the old folk said about WWII, is that it was a “defining” moment because much of what was once thought to be sacrosanct, no longer was so. Hunger and deprivation led to rampant theft and crime. Respect for authority was eroded by calls to resist those who stayed behind to keep some semblance of order. Debate over who were collaborators or who were “patriots” was never fully resolved and caused a rift in the national psyche. Faith in the once Almighty America was shaken by her retreat and the subsequent Japanese occupation. Large-scale corruption was thought to have been kindled through the shenanigans with the post-war reparations and the war “surplus”, which were cornered by a favored few. Rebuilding after the war spurred world-wide demand in metal and lumber, leading to granting of money-making mining and timber concessions to chosen cronies or politicians.

    Aside from human casualties and damage to our values and beliefs, there was the destruction of many historical landmarks. Somehow, the disappearance of structures that bonded us to the past gave a new generation a less profound appreciation of our heritage.

  15. vonjobi

    pati ba yung plane crash ni ramon magsaysay may conspiracy theory? anyway, congrats on the asian blog awards nom! =)

  16. deep oral

    Since one of the ideas is to split strings not into words, but hopefully into phrases more semantically informative than the words they are made of, doing that better should mean better suggestions, and avoiding what essentially are word n-tuples should make for smaller data and slightly faster querying.

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