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Sep 14

Victory for desperation

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?

Palace to protest Bolante visa cancellation. How about the Filipino activists turned away from Singapore?

Binay: they’re out to get me! Palace: no we’re not (not yet, anyway).

Sabio vs. Senate showdown. Inquirer editorial sides with the Senate on this one.

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.

Parallel Universes and The Idiot Board on books they like and dislike.

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  1. manuelbuencamino

    I guess Miriam has earned her junket. And Romulo has proven once again why Gloria does no trust him with any serious decisions.

    Anybody can petition the US government to cancel the visa of anybody. It is up to the US government to pay attention to the petition or not. That lunatic Miriam believes she ccan lecture another country to do things her way. I hope the DFA does file a diplomatic protest so it can get a lecture from the US Embassy.

  2. john marzan

    But we would be mistaken to assume that the Marcoses have won the battle for history, though they may be poised, as many political observers tell me, to increase their political gains. Imelda Marcos, I keep hearing, is the woman to beat for the mayoralty of Manila: but is that because she is genuinely loved, or because the post-Edsa mayors of Manila have failed to deliver? If there is a tried and tested rule in Philippine politics, it is the contrarian, oppositionist instincts of Manilans — so what would an Imeldific victory say?

    I think Lito Atienza is doing a decent job, even though i disagree with some of his policies.

    besides, if lacson runs for mayor in Manila, he I think he should be considered the favorite, not Imelda, not Ali, not Mark Jimenez or Fred Lim.

    agree or disagree?

  3. manuelbuencamino

    “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.”

    I believe de Venecia is aware of this. So it makes me wonder why he is so dedicated to chacha. They say, the only people you can trust with power are those who are willing to give it up. Is de Venecia voluntarily giving up power?

  4. mlq3

    mb, scuttlebutt is even the speaker’s loyal lieutenants are worried he’s drunk too much of his own kool-aide.

  5. mlq3

    john, a colleague in media says the surveys show ping would be a shoo-in for the senate, but for mayor of manila he’d have to really fight. so, all things being equal, would he prefer a sure thing (senate reelection) to a much more expensive fight for manila?

    my colleague wagers ping would go for the easier fight to win.

  6. Arbet

    “because the post-Edsa mayors of Manila have failed to deliver?”

    I beg to disagree. I had lived in Manila for more than 20 years, and post-Edsa mayors then were Lopez, Lim, Atienxa. To summarily say that they all failed is a generalization. It is unfair for Lim, who did well, and Atienza, who is a so-so. All Atienza did was “Buhayin ang Maynila” beatification, a miniature Imeldific. I am still to be convinced of his success; the area around R-10 remains to be a testament to Atienza’s vanity.

    But I agree. Unless the Edsa leaders have a change of heart, a Marcos restoration is possible.

  7. john marzan

    yup, the senate is an easier fight than the mayor’s race in manila.

    Ali Atienza kontra influenza!

  8. realist

    Sabio vs. Senate: I would not be surprised if gloria also gets Sabio away from this one. The Senate will cry foul and that will be the end of it.

  9. The Ca t

    Mining is extraction of depleting natural resources. Irreplaceable. If I were to believe, Mangun, I would like to see Africa eradicates poverty in that continent of the world where mining is done not by the natives but the politically backed foreign investors.

    What benefitted from the mining industries are only the investors and not the host country.

    Now, it is the partnership of Gates and Ford Foundations which took the task of alleviating poverty in that corner of the earth.

  10. kiko

    Npongco, (sorry, I have to post it here cus i seem to have a problem posting it under the heading where you posted the question)

    I believe in one of my comment I noted that in major cities, crime rates are quite high , but in comparison to the US, we are still far behind. The incident in Montreal, violent as it was is an action of a lone gunman, who at this time we don’t know what caused him to do what he did. Luckily according to Montreal Police he was stopped from continuing his killing spree from the bullet from one of the officers at the scene. For sure there will be debates, inquiries and laws to follow, and we are always ready to accept more limitation to our rights if it means to make our schools and street safer. We can minimize violence, but eliminate, you and I know it is impossible in a society where freedoms is balance with security. In this country we have unlimited access to firearms and although there is a very strict conditions for having them, the U.S. is just minutes drive and smugglers can bring in weapons for profit and there will be always criminal and psychopaths in every society. And some people can snap anytime and lost control of their faculties and with available means (guns, cars or any weapons) can cause enormous damage to others. I made an entry of this incident in my site and you may peruse if you wish http://truenorthandme.blogspot.com/ . Thanks again for the query and sorry for the late reply..busy busy..

  11. vic

    MlQ, pls delete the entry of you wish. it is intented in for other site, but my p.c. is confused or it could be me. thanks

  12. The Ca t

    There is no comeback for Imelda Marcos in Manila.

    Lim will put up a good fight with Ali who is going to use Atienza’s
    strong political machinery.

    Lim was responsible for removing the RED District in Ermita/Malate while Ali can make use of Lito Atienza’s beautification program.

  13. manuelbuencamino

    Keep those minerals in the ground until we can extract it ourselves for ourselves.

  14. justice league

    I think Lim is in a win-draw scenario. I think he still has 3 years left as a Senator. Any other who will lose will be plainly out.

  15. rego

    Ca t,

    I came from Mining sector ( Im a metallurgical Eng’r). But later on went into semincoductors after the mining slump in the Phil…( Of course I have to take M.S in Materials Science and Eng’g for that to happen) And I woudl say that we have an abundant mining reserve that needs to be utilized. Kelan pa ba nating gagamitin yan???

    I believe that foriegn investors for Mining should be welcomed and encouraged but at the same time it whould be well regulated by the government. Of course para naman magkatrabaho din yung mga Mining Eng’rs, Met Engr’s at Geologist na naiwan sa Pinas

    What ever happened to African countries shoudl notdiscouraged us to go optimize our mining wealth. We just have to learn from their mistakes.

    Come to think of it, America , Canada, and Australia is doing mining too…..

  16. vic

    Rego, Barrick gold mine is rated as the most responsible mining company, is doing business in a lot of countries including australia, but i don’t know why the company has no interest in the Philippines where there are a lot of gold deposit. Peter Munk, its CEO and chairman is one of the most distinquished and generous philantrophist in this country and for that he reflects how his mining company is run. I just wish that someday, he’ll bring his company to the country with all its modern safeguards that is accepted in countries such as australia, south africa and others.

  17. The Ca t

    Rego,
    My father worked in a mining company too. After the minerals were exhausted, the American company left the place like a dry loofah.

    We have several cases where the mining companies polluted the rivers and water systems and yet I have not heard of any penalties or compensatory damages paid by the said companies to people who were affected by the pollution.

  18. rego

    Oh yes, Vic, I also obeserved that most of the foriegn mining investors in teh Phils today are so so companies and I swear never heard of them when I was still in the industry. The govern should have checked the reputations of these companies before they are allowed to do business in the country.

    I also agree with you Ca t, wala nga napaparusahan . My preference is really for Filipino companies kasi mas may malasakit sila. Ang kaso nag lang most of the Filipino mining companies eh nabaon sa utang. I remember when I was still working with a Atlas Mining – Gold Operations in Masbate. One of the projects that I got involved in was the conversion of a tailing ponds ( were we dump the waste with cyanide solution used to dissolved gold) into a farm land. It was a very ambitous project, and it was happening. Unfortunately the company suffered a huge loss that it has to closed down its operations….

    Haaay sayang na sayang talaga ang bansa natin…mapakayamn pero naghihirap ngayon….

    Been to Pusan South Korea before and I was having a chat with one of their Engineers. He really emphasized in our conversation that their country has no mineral resources at all. But look the have a very rich company that manufactures coper and copper alloy products.

    While the Philippines was once one of a biggest copper producer in the world before.

  19. john marzan

    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.

    Heh, last year pa ni Arroyo sinasabi na ang cha cha raw ang solution sa mga political problems ng bansa (like her gloriagate scandal). Of course, her solution is to go back to the past, dust off the old 1973 Marcos system, resurrect it from the dead and call it “reform.”

    pero hindi naman yung constitution ang dahilan kung may dayaan, kundi si arroyo at yung COMELEC at military ni Arroyo. Yung COMELEC at military ang dapat repormahan, at magkaroon ng housecleaning.

    Hindi Cha cha ang solution sa political crisis ng ating bansa kundi ang pag-resign ng pekeng presidente at pag-hold ng special elections para mapalitan siya.

    do people really think na a corrupt and illegitimate president like marcos or arroyo can be removed using the 1973 marcos system, kung hawak ni marcos o aRroyo ang Batasan? Eto yung sabi ni de quiros:

    services.inq7.net/express/06/09/13/html_output/xmlhtml/20060913-20654-xml.html

    True, in a parliamentary system, you do not need to impeach a prime minister to kick him out, you just need a vote of no confidence. But the opposite is just as true, if not truer: You will have absolutely no way of getting rid of a monstrous prime minister if his allies continue to repose confidence in him notwithstanding that the public has long withdrawn it. Indeed, notwithstanding that the public detests him.

    As the recent impeachment bid showed, that is the case in this country. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s allies can always ignore public opinion and move like gangsters to kill any bid to oust her. Thaksin was merely hounded by charges of corruption, Arroyo is hounded by charges of stealing the vote. Blair merely labors from a picture of him literally stooping down to Bush’s level, Arroyo labors from a tape that shows her stooping down to Garci’s level — or the other way around (I don’t know who between them will find it more unflattering). The surveys say Thaksin and Blair were slipping in public esteem, the surveys say Arroyo never had public esteem. Thaksin resigned and Blair is about to resign, but Arroyo is still there and threatens to rule forever.

    A parliamentary system will not produce sensitivity to public opinion, sensitivity to public opinion will produce a parliamentary system. Contempt for public opinion will not produce a parliament, it will produce a tyranny.

    do people really think na a corrupt and illegitimate arroyo can be removed that easily, kung kontrolado nya ang parliament, COMELEC at military? eh sa impeachment nga mahirap makakuha ang 1/3 vote dahil kontrolado ni Arroyo ang mga tongressmen, sa parliamentary system pa kaya, kung kontrolado niya ito (katulad nung panahon ni marcos nung hawak rin niya ang Batasan)? hindi ba na proclaim na “winner” si marcos ng batasan niya noong 1986 elections? siguro dapat nag in-impeach na lang ng opposition si marcos, o nag “vote of no confidence”.

    So hindi yung constitution ang dapat palitan eh kundi si arroyo.

  20. vic

    john, even in a Parliamentary system a no-confidence vote doesn’t mean kicking out the PM, but only defeating his/her government, thereby forcing it to resign and call another Election. The same Party could again win the election and the same leader could well be the PM again. But you are right. In a majority the chances of the parliament losing confidence to the government is almost Nil. But usually in a party system, the membership or the party heirarchy can pressure its leader or even recall a leader if if feels he’s no longer fit to lead and thereby also changes the PM. But in our system, if worse come to worst, the Governor General, representing the Queen can summon the Canadian Forces to kick out a corrupt government. Never happens yet and may nver happen at all, but just in case. thanks..

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