Even as the aftermath of the last typhoon continues to be felt, another menaces the Bicol region. Solar-powered homes did well, though. MMDA has a hare-brained scheme for dead tree trunks and the MMDA decides it should do something about billboards, after all. Splendid typhoon diaries continue to go up on line. Professional Heckler makes a joke of it, but a colleague solemnly assures me it’s true: thousands of people upset they missed the final episode of Majica.
Some nursing students protest the President’s intention to make them retake the portions of the exam that were marred by cheating; general befuddlement in government circles over whether to do so before, or after, the courts render a decision.
Can someone tell me if Second World has a meaning most people are unaware of? Seems to me at the time the President received her training as an economist, “Second World” then meant what it does now. Freudian slip? Jet lag from visiting Socialist Cuba? We’re now a Gulag archipelago, perhaps?
The peso strengthens -but who gains?
Thing is, it seems the Palace is gearing up to face down its critics for a fight to the finish. It’s not as if the Palace’s predilection for brinksmanship ever went away, of course. At the time (September 29, 2005), I wrote,
We have, at most, five months, to get our act together, because this country can no longer “move on.” We are beyond that. The President has made any sort of “moving on” impossible, because within five months she faces two possibilities: the loss of power, or the need to retain it at a cost of so much bloodshed and repression, while lacking either the skills, or means, to effectively use the tools necessary for repression: a compliant or complicit armed forces, a political class engaged as a co-conspirator, and a public that thinks she can be the solution, and is not the problem.
Well, February came, and a collision did occur, and the bloodshed’s taking place and so is the repression -but I overestimated the armed forces, the political class or the public. They’ve so far, bet the farm on the President. So she won that fight and won again with the 2nd impeachment -and is now poised to try to clear the table.
One sign: the headlines, such as Comelec cleared in computer deal: Ombudsman panel makes turnaround and Gutierrez clears poll execs
in P1.3B computer scam: Reverses June finding of graft.
Which means the public mood’s this: that the Ombudsman fails the ethical challenge but lives up to expectations (of the worst kind). Although Comelec AKO seems to stand by the decision, and jamesjimenez asks that people read the decision:
Another thing that we – in the all-inclusive third-person sense of the word – want to really emphasize is that people should try to read the decision, rather than dismiss it off-hand. I know that for alot of people, the temptation to just chalk this down to some devious ploy to get the COMELEC Commissioners off the hook will be too much to resist. Because of this, I worry that the substance of the decision might be ignored and the decision itself branded a whitewash.
That would, I think, be unfair to the parties who really went to great lengths to explain themselves before an often hostile investigating panel; unfair to the parties who gave their accusers every opportunity to argue the case before the Ombudsman but who – in every single session – found their accusers absent in ‘court,’ but vociferously present in newspapers and television interviews; and unfair to the Ombudsman who has bucked the pressure brought to bear upon her from many quarters and seems to have come out with a finding that is supported by the facts on record.
So I will be posting the full text of this decision here tomorrow. I hope people read it and come to their own informed conclusions, rather than let their pre-conceptions rule the day. Personally, I’ve no problem with people dissing the decision, as long as they do it after they’ve read the whole thing. I can’t argue with differences in informed opinion, but I’ll be damned if I say that it’s ok for people to shoot down something they haven’t taken the pains to truly understand.
I also remember saying that we don’t really know yet what the Ombudsman’s decision will mean. In the short term, I suppose the Supreme Court will have to study the Ombudsman’s submission. Again, I hope that the Justices – just like everyone else – give the decision a fair shake. And if they trash it, I hope they explain exhaustively why. Personally, I worry that if the SC does junk this decision by the Ombudsman, they will do it in cavalier fashion – sneering and patronizingly dismissive. You can’t blame me. Every single utterance of the Court in this issue has been sneering and patronizingly dismissive, so I see scant reason why this one will be any different.
And finally, the Ombudsman’s decision may not mean that we can use the 1,991 automated counting machines for 2007. Even assuming that the SC takes the her word, I don’t think the Ombudsman went so far as to say that the contract shouldn’t have been annulled. Obviously, COMELEC lawyers will be poring over the decision to try to divine every last bit of legal significance from it, but the language of the press release seems to indicate that the Ombudsman may have only cleared the accused of criminal and administrative liability. I haven’t seen the decision in its entirety, so don’t take my word on this.
Nonetheless, there’s shock and disbelief, see An OFW Living in Hong Kong. Also see The Bystander and the question zeroed in on by the media is a legitimate one: first Ombudsman says something’s fishy, then it says, presto, nothing wrong here, folks!
And so, this may be about far more than the merits of the case. If the ultimate effect is not only to give the beleaguered Comelec leadership not only a breather -but a vindication- it will only polarize things further. And if the counting machines end up approved for use on the eve of either a constitutional plebiscite or a national election the Palace shows signs of fearing -well it just raises the ante for everyone.
Better such a decision now, than later, though, tactically-speaking for officialdom, since not everyone is in the mood to follow the news.
Another sign: The House has decided “less talk, less mistake”, as conventional wisdom puts it, so why not simplify and leave ambiguous what has been torn to shreds? Namely, the illusion of unity around constitutional amendments. Significantly, the Speaker’s menu of amendments has been challenged by the President’s pet party. Solution? Hush-hush, ergo, win-win. It can all be debated later -with the President fully involved, but everyone spared the debacle of a national election.
Call it the maggot strategy. What? Oppose constitutional amendments, when so many are rebuilding from the storm? Unpatriotic! Unprincipled! People need the government now, more than ever, and a referendum landslide for the administration just got plausible.
More of the wit and wisdom of Imelda Marcos: I love the PCGG, we’re winning.
Pan de sal continues to shrink.
In Thailand, the US lessens its saber-rattling as an interim PM is appointed and a committee to draft constitutional changes is formed, while Thaksin’s nemesis in terms of zealotry in fighting official corruption, Klanarong Chantik, gets reappointed (for the past two years, the Thai anti-corruption office was basically moribund). Thaksin’s party begins to lose members.
Best Thai sign, courtesy of One Man in Bangkok who blogs, “I’m guessing that this word doesn’t have the same meaning in Bangkok as it does in the States.” Or in Manila.
In the punditocracy, Tony Abaya says the authorities were befuddled and media contradictory during the typhoon.
Patricio Diaz warns that peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are on the verge of collapse:
After experiencing three years of relative peace and progress, people in Muslim Mindanao are apprehensive. The Mindanao People’s Caucus and the Bishop-Ulama Conference have appealed to the GRP and MILF panels to resume the talk. But despite the appeals, there is no sign of softening from either side.
John Mangun says government has to make up its mind on many things: do we need more electric generation capacity, or not? Do we need more hotel rooms, or not? And so on.
In the blogosphere, The Unlawyer points out the military pension system has finally, and officially, collapsed.
Torn & Frayed says the revolution just might be blogged – but not in the Philippines, not just yet.
manila, you’re not that ugly has some promotional news for insomniacs.
General exultation among UST students and alumni over the championship match postponed by the typhoon: it was crouching tiger, hammered eagle. Or something. See The Bamboo, Jove Francisco, chizjarkace, and chronicles of a would-be ‘schizo’ for happy Thomasian reactions. Love fun and laughters remembers the last time UST won the championship. In my own perfect world was miffed by the losing team’s reactions. My dad, were he alive, would be tickled pink; and I’m sure my mother’s happy, too (both are Thomasians).
Whispers in the Loggia on how the BBC has gone hammer-and-tongs after the Pope on the issue of pedophile clerics, with the UK hierarchy very upset -but the Church had it coming, in a sense.