If someone likes what you’re doing, they give you a pat on the back. If a policemen comes upon you, and spots you doing something wrong, he gives you a tap on the back. To call your attention.
So when the Palace pens this kind of self-praise release, European Commission gives PGMA tap on the back, we can assume one thing. They’ve made a Freudian slip.
Palace backtracks on Palparan’s appointment to the National Security Council. So much for that trial balloon. President reshuffles people in the government’s energy sector: now which family is the Manila Standard-Today story tagging: the Lopezes or the Aboitizes?
Yesterday, an Indian gentleman went up to me and asked me if I was, indeed, me, and when I said yes, he said some complimentary things about The Explainer, particularly the series on the parliamentary system. He asked me if I intended to enter politics, and I said no; he said I should reconsider. And then he proceeded to ask, “So, do you think the parliamentary system will win out?”
I replied that while I oppose it, if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the government having its way with us. Not only because the ballot boxes are already stuffed, I said, but because opponents of the Palace plans A and B (and whatever other plans are out there) are overconfident about the proposals being unpopular. Seems to me, I told him, there might be more people willing to take a gamble on the parliamentary system simply because it’s different and anything different has to be better, to their minds, than what we have now.
The Indian gentleman agreed, then surprised me: “And besides, then Arroyo can set aside de Venecia and eventually take over as Prime Minister,” he said.
We discussed things further; to his mind, there is an overwhelming exasperation with how things are at present; he does think, though, that the parliamentary and presidential debate is artificial: “we were given the parliamentary system; you were given the presidential; it’s as simple as that.” This underlines my own point that the debate ignores the crucial reality that those under the presidential and the parliamentary systems are operating on parallel, but separate, historical tracks.
In the PCIJ blog, there’s a new matrix on proposed amendments to the Constitution. Read that entry along with what critics of the current plans A and B for constitutional amendments have to say. Then see what Fel Maragay has to say in his column today.
Overseas, coup jitters in Thailand continue. In Malaysia: jury still out on whether judiciary’s really independent. An interesting political dilemma for Japan’s ruling party: it enforced party discipline last year, expelling MP’s who voted against the party position; now the party wants those MP’s back. German historian Joachim Fest dies.
From the Lionel Giles translation of the Analects of Confucius:
Tzû Lu said: The Prince of Wei is waiting, Sir, for you to take up the reins of government. Pray what is the first reform you would introduce? — The Master replied: I would begin by defining terms and making them exact. — Oh, indeed! exclaimed Tzû Lu. But how can you possibly put things straight by such a circuitous route? — The Master said: How unmannerly you are, Yu! In matters which he does not understand, the wise man will always reserve his judgement. If terms are not correctly defined, words will not harmonise with things. If words do not harmonise with things, public business will remain undone. If public business remains undone, order and harmony will not flourish. If order and harmony do not flourish, law and justice will not attain their ends. If law and justice do not attain their ends, the people will be unable to move hand or foot. The wise man, therefore, frames his definitions to regulate his speech, and his speech to regulate his actions. He is never reckless in his choice of words.
In the punditocracy, my column for today is Restoration, which is a response to a recent discussion I had with a colleague over the conventional wisdom that Mrs. Marcos is the candidate to beat for the mayoralty of Manila.
Billy Esposo says he knows how the 2007 elections will be bought. Lito Banayo says the President wants the senate abolished because it remains the biggest obstacle to her stay in power. Manuel Buencamino zeroes on in the stickiness of the issues.
Juan Mercado details the purges within the Communist Party of the Philippines in the 80’s and 90’s.
Pablo Trillana calls for a return to Rizal’s focus on civic consciousness:
If we continue to seek answers to our problems solely in the political arena, by the rigodon expedient of changing constitutions and political leaders, we will continue on as we always have — financially, morally and socially impoverished. If solutions purely secular haven’t worked out for us since the Spanish era, isn’t it time we looked for answers in realms considered sacred?
To move forward we need yet another revolution, one that creates a politics firmly grounded on moral foundations and resources that can sustain the difficult external changes necessary to carry out a new social vision. Addressing Basilio through Simoun, Rizal declared with a resonance that speaks to us, even more so now: “What are physical ills compared with moral ills? What is the death of an individual beside the death of a community? One day you may become a great physician . . . . but much greater will be the physician who can give new life to this enfeebled people.”
John Mangun says the Philippines has just lost the battle for foreign investments. Under pressure from environmentalists and bishops, the government, he says, is backpedaling on its mining program. Existing legislation may even be reexamined and rescinded. The immediate loss, he says, is 5,000 pesos for every man, woman, and child in the Philippines — and 500,000 pesos over the long term, for every person now living in the country.
My skepticism over opposition to mining is simply this: many of the Left-leaning opponents oppose it now, I think, simply because they want to wait for a People’s Republic of the Philippines to do the plundering. What they oppose is mineral and metal extraction by commercial interests. Which seems to me along the lines of the NPA which blows up cell sites because businesses won’t pay “revolutionary taxes.” It’s redistributing poverty.
Then again, I’m more inclined to be cautious on mining on the basis of past experience. One of the most depressing experiences I’ve had was visiting Toledo City in Cebu. It’s the very definition of dying, even dead, community. It was once a mining town; then it lost the mining, and had nothing to replace it.
I wish Emil Jurado would make up his mind:
For the past few days, the House of Representatives looks forlorn, with less than 50 of its 233 members attending the sessions.
The absentees are junketing with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in her trip to Helsinki, Brussels, London, Havana, and Hawaii. Incidentally, in the last part of the President’s trip, she will attend the centennial celebrations of the first Filipino (all Ilocanos) immigrants to Hawaii to work in pineapple plantations.
The others have either gone to their favorite watering holes in Asia or to the United States, or to attend the 27th general assembly of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Organization, all at the expense of taxpayers, naturally.
These are the so-called representatives of the people who are supposed to protect our interests. So what else is new?
But this is his future unicameral parliament!
Speaking of parliament, in the blogosphere, An OFW in Hong Kong examines how the President would be firmly in the saddle under a new system.
caffeine sparks on the difference between the South Koreans and Filipinos, both of whom went through a dictatorship.
Torn & Frayed on Gregorio del Pilar’s heroism.