Last night I finally got to watch “The Devil Wears Prada “and its Imeldific wisdom: “They all want to be like us.” The movie reminded me of what it was like working for the President. And why I was happy to leave.
Prayer vigil in London for victims of political killings in the Philippines
A friend tells me that Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay expects to be suspended from office at anytime, together with his vice mayor and the entire city council. Surely the government can find a turncoat or two to man the New Order in Makati? Or can the Department of the Interior appoint an officer-in-charge for the city?
In the forum in which he spoke, Binay also predicted that the Supreme Court will decide in favor of the so-called “people’s initiative,” by a vote of something like 8 for and 7 against, with Justice Puno being the ponente: a prediction that did, and didn’t, surprise me.
The same friend asked for my comments and I said well, the other scuttlebutt is that only two justices feel strongly about the case, and their feelings are strongly against the so-called initiative. The same scuttlebutt assumes it would be easier for the Justices to go along with the two who feel strongly about things. But while the Supremes might be inclined to vote against the Palace in the case of signatures and the House’s desire to ignore the Senate, they would be willing, as they always have, to delay their decision in order to buy time for the Palace.
This is the problem with speculating about the Supreme Court: who can really say what they have in mind, and who can say, with conviction, that certain assumptions really hold water? We will know, when the Supremes decide, and probably never know for sure why they decided the way they did.
Anyway, I told my friend, my view since last year has been pretty simple. The real fight will begin after 2010. Everything going on now is a skirmish. So I’m willing to hold some of my fire and even go into hibernation, advocacy-wise, after the plebiscite (which the government can be expected to win, unless something unexpected happens) for a couple of years. Who knows, we might actually get a better government, or at least, a few years of quiet and growth, just like after martial law was imposed. But it will start to fray at the edges and the fraying will start when the President’s expected to step down, and doesn’t; and when her husband starts muscling in on the rest of the Polo Club set.
Is she riding the tiger, then? My friend asked. I explained to him that it’s more like Chiang Kai Shek’s era, at least in the beginning. The warlords (whether provincial bosses like Chavit Singson, etc.) have been confirmed in their turf and rackets; the soldiers given carte blanche in theirs; the technocrats enough room to cling to the illusion they’re allowed to meaningfully tinker with things, and the upper and middle classes kept happy enough so that they can pack their bags for emigration abroad in peace. But eventually the different factions will begin to irritate each other… She isn’t riding the tiger, she is one of the tigers.
Anyway, in today’s news…
It is said that the presidential form of government is a source of corruption among other things. We should ask a different question: Is it the presidential form that is the source of corruption, or the people in authority who corrupt and abuse the system? Any form of government will have its positive and negative characteristics; but the people who run the government are very crucial; they can either corrupt it or make it serve the common good. Any system or form of government in the hands of honest, just and incorruptible people will be a source of good for the governed. Will the parliamentary- unicameral form of government not be corrupted by the people who will create it?
It is in this light that we have made our position clear on Charter Change from the moral standpoint, and we reiterate it:
“Changing the Constitution, involving major shifts in the form of government, requires widespread participation, total transparency and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate. This is best done through a Constitutional Convention.” (CBCP, January 2006)
Heeding the exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est that the Church “is called to contribute to the purification of reason” (# 29), we would like to ask these and similar questions to guide the discussion, discernment and debate on the charter change. Are you convinced that the Charter Change as presently presented by our governing politicians is really for the common good? Are you convinced that the “people’s initiative” is genuinely the people’s activity, and has its real source in the people? Do you want our legislators to convert themselves into a Constituent Assembly where they alone will rewrite our Constitution, and have it only approved by us in a plebiscite? Is it enough to say YES to Charter Change?
We are in a democracy. Should not then the citizenry be made to participate by electing their delegates to a Constitutional Convention?
The Palace insists it’s not interested in a constitutional convention, even as it continues to set the tone for things to come: parliamentary elections next year, which prevents a senate debacle. Where does that leave people regaining their citizenship, or who are being encouraged to register to vote abroad? It prepares their votes to be used in a constitutional plebiscite. After which, their vote becomes academic, unless overseas Filipinos will be allowed to vote for party-list candidates (but nothing else).
Supreme Court intervenes in PCGG-Senate spat; other commissioners hunker down; according to Vic Agustin, it’s all an unseemly fight over corporate perks. The House is freaked out over the Senate’s aggressiveness.
What’s interesting in this news item on the President giving Palparan a job is not that she’s clinging to him, but the other details: that Sec. Arthur Yap was surprised Palparan believes in a civic component to anti-insurgency efforts; that National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales is being groomed to be the next Secretary of National Defense, with current Sec. Avelino Cruz due to be kicked upstairs somewhere (my personal theory, which is just a hunch, is that Cruz hasn’t been calling the shots at DND since February last year; there is no civilian supervision over the AFP, which knows exactly how much the President owes the generals).
Tzû Kung asked for a definition of good government. The Master replied: It consists in providing enough food to eat, in keeping enough soldiers to guard the State, and in winning the confidence of the people. — And if one of these three things had to be sacrificed, which should go first? — The Master replied: Sacrifice the soldiers. — And if of the two remaining things one had to be sacrificed, which should it be?— The master said: Let it be the food. From the beginning, men have always had to die. But without the confidence of the people no government can stand at all.
Rasheed Abou-Alsamh says the First Gentleman is running wild, and justifies his call for nursing students to retake portions of their qualifying exam.
Dan Mariano wonders if the Solicitor-General should be lawyering for proponents of Charter change.
JB Baylon defends the Senate as an institution.
Maya Baltazar Herrera wonders if there’s a generational vacuum in leadership.
Overseas, the Sydney Morning Herald on the cozy relationship between government and the broadcast media;
What happens when zoo animals get depressed.
In the blogosphere, southeast asian press alliance points to Singapore’s Lee dynasty fetish for defamation suits (and since the First Gentleman possibly likes banking there, maybe that’s where he got the idea of filing suits left and right). Bryanton Post on the consequences of law pay for Filipino journalists (I’m for opening up media to foreign investment).
blurry brain finds a copy of the recently-signed Free Trade agreement between the Philippines and Japan.
chizjarkace is skeptical when it comes to a future parliament:
Others may argue that people may change members of the parliament if they are not satisfied with what their representatives are doing but is that really possible? Maybe in the imperial manila that is possible but I doubt if it is in other parts of the country where patronage politics and political warfare is very much evident. Granting that the members of the parliament in the greater manila are changed constantly, still that cannot be assured in distant provinces. In the provinces, most of the public facilities such as hospitals and schools belong to the incumbent politician. And unless the people support that politician they can never use those facilities without any unwanted hindrances. It is a given fact in the land that in the rural areas politicians is giving the needs of the people but only some of them is giving it without expecting any in return, and that return will only be acknowledged if it is given in a form of a vote. Do the people there have a choice? Of course they don’t unless they are willing to sacrifice the lives of their children. Even if how much wicked their politician is, they wont dare challenge him if they don’t want to suffer any unwanted consequences. So in the end the parliament will be the having the same people again and again until the time we’ll never know when.
Victory Gardens for Naga: A Nagueño in the Blogosphere on urban agriculture.
I’m a Baby condemns Catholic schools that discriminate against the children of single or separated parents.
debatista irritated with a news report on LPG-fueled cars.
Tagged by Lonely Vampire Chronicles:
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your LiveJournal/blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.
Well, here goes:
1. Little Boxes, Pete Seeger
2. I’m Sitting On Top of the World, Bobby Darin
3. Clarinet Polka Yodel, Mary Schneider
4. Happy Days Are Here Again, Max Bygraves
5. We’ll Meet Again, Johnny Cash
6. Brother Can You Spare A Dime, Chad Mitchell Trio
7. I’ll Be Seeing You, Iggy Pop