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Oct 06

Get out of jail free card

In discussions over recent days, some ideas have ended up widely discussed: here’s the substance of some discussions I’ve had.

1. The President: what is her end goal? In the past, there were more who felt it was to step down in 2010. My view is, she can never afford to. Also, some argued she wasn’t emotionally, politically, and financially invested in charter change. Contrary view: she has to engineer it sooner rather than later, because she cannot step down, and needs to firm up her control and ability to succeed herself as 2010 approaches. If she doesn’t have constitutional change by 2007, once the mid-term elections take place she’s a lame duck, and it’s open season on her, forcing her no choice but to step down or impose martial law (which wouldn’t be good for her public relations).

President doesn’t want elections. Neither does the Speaker who may lose his seat. Both would receive a bad political blow from failing to achieve constitutional changes before the May elections. The Speaker knows full well, though, that if push comes to shove, the President has more options than he. So while he pushed for a constituent assembly in the past, to gain credit for a shift to the parliamentary system, now, he has to push forward the so-called people’s initiative. The President’s pet party, Kampi, is reportedly fed up with a House dominated by Lakas veterans since the Ramos years. It’s their turn, their time in the sun -under their leader, the President, and not the Speaker. Seems Prospero Pichay’s revised proposal, which he and his partymates want adopted “by substitution,” to replace the Jaraulla amendments, would maintain the Speaker, and fuse the offices of President and Prime Minister.

One option to keep the peace, so Speaker de Venecia can fight another day and the President doesn’t have to tip her hand too early: postpone the elections to November from May, which gives wiggle room (if no one gets upset by postponement, then the postponement can be postponed). It all depends on the Supreme Court: for or against so-called people’s initiative? If it decides for it, we go to a plebiscite in January or February 2007, which government will win. If it decides against it, the House might make an attempt to force the issue, also resulting in a plebiscite in January, or February or even March.

But election fever sets in for the political class by November or December, as candidacies must be filed by February (for local positions) or March (for national positions).

My view: if a plebiscite is held, it will expend people’s energies so no one will be in the mood to really care about an election. If a plebiscite doesn’t take place, there must be elections.

Either way: a plebiscite and an election requires a cooperative Comelec, and what better way than for Ombudsman to give everyone in the Comelec a get out of jail card.

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  1. cvj

    Bencard, apologies for the delayed reply as i was not able to access the comments in this thread until now. In trying to establish the truth, a reasonable person would normally not restrict himself (or herself) to the legal arena. The premise probably looks ‘flawed’ and ‘preposterous’ to you because you leave out what Arroyo and the Comelec official talked about. Even from a legal standpoint, it is also inaccurate to dismiss the issue as ‘speculation’. As has been explained here, there is enough basis to establish ‘probable cause’:

    http://redsherring.blogspot.com/2006/10/probable-cause-for-failing-philippine.html

    In complaining about the absence of ‘proof’, you also need to take into account the subsequent actions of the Administration’s allies in terms of obstructing the impeachment. Demanding ‘proof’ in its legal sense is premature as it is the accused party who, in her position of power, is setting up roadblocks that have so far prevented this matter from reaching a legal forum.

  2. titanium

    cvj, two things: first, probable cause is not a “fact”; second, defending oneself is not “obstructing” justice

    How could demanding proof be “premature” when you are already making judgment about a person’s guilt on the basis of nothing but pure speculation?

    What else could a “reasonable person” do to establish “truth” other than to resort to legal processes? Do you suggest mortal combat, tarot reading, maybe star gazing?

  3. cvj

    titanium, ‘probable cause’ is based on ‘fact’ and is reason enough to proceed with the impeachment process so that we may uncover additional facts. ‘Defending oneself’ can be a form of ‘obstructing’ justice if the manner in which such defense is conducted is through deception, coercion and concealing information.

    A reasonable person would, of course, try to exhaust the legal process first, but there are other non-violent alternatives such as street protest and civil disobedience that can be considered to obtain justice. We also should not forget that under GMA’s ‘all out war’, it has been ‘Mortal Combat’ for quite a number of people already.

  4. titanium

    So you advocate “mortal combat”, (after trying legal processes) cvj huh?. If, as you claim, GMA is already resorting to that, what then are you complaining about?

  5. cvj

    titanium, i will not advocate violence (i.e. coup, assasination) as innocents will be affected.

  6. Bencard

    cvj, the right to dissent, as any other right, is not absolute and can be abused. Street protest is a growth industry in this country especially now that GMA’s administration is going after corrupt and abusive local officials. If every time someone is held to account for his action, he would cause to form a group to demonstrate for him, how can we have respect for the law and public order. I think this knee-jerk reaction should be viewed for what it is – a real obstruction of justice.

  7. cvj

    bencard, the right to dissent is what the Arroyo government has been trying to suppress. While on the surface, reasons of law and public order are given as justification, her Administration’s actions has to be considered against the backdrop of her ongoing legitimacy problem. As philosopher Richard Rorty said, “Take care of freedom and truth will take care of itself.” GMA is trying her best to take care of the truth.

  8. Bencard

    cvj, in all these exchanges, you keep going back to your “letimacy problem” but you have never answered my simple question: what is your proof that GMA cheated in the 2004 election that makes her presidency questionable? I’m beginning to feel like I’m beating a dead horse. I know you and your believers are so frustrated that GMA would not volunteer to give you the cross upon which to nail her – make your job easy by insisting that she should admit her “guilt” instead of you producing the evidence. You are not fooling anyone other than yourselves. Suppressing dissent? You are still dissenting, aren’t you? And what about your friends in the media, academe, the clergy, military, so-called civil society, etc. who have made a career out of maligning GMA and her family.

  9. cvj

    bencard, you can start with the softcopy of the tapes (in mp3 format) and transcripts (in pdf format) that are available in the pcij.org blogsite. i suggest you listen or read for yourself. As mentioned in Abe Margallo’s blog entry (itself a response to your earlier comment) that i linked to above (@10:33am), the taped conversation and Gloria’s “i’m sorry” is sufficient to “establish ‘probable cause’ for the impeachable offense of ‘betrayal of public trust’“. I suggest that you read the entire entry especially the part where Abe explains the difference between ‘probable cause’ and ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ and which of the two is relevant to our discussion.

    Why shouldn’t GMA volunteer? After EDSA2, i watched her in a TV interview where she said that her main goal in life is ‘to go to heaven’. i don’t know if this has changed or if this was true in the first place, but the reality today is, ‘Hello Garci’ has become her cross. Her road to redemption starts with coming clean and choosing to carry that cross.

    As for suppressing dissent, this blog is just a small corner of the public sphere. Look instead at what is happening in the outside world away from the keyboards.

  10. Bencard

    I don’t know Mr. Margallo but from his bio, he appears to be a lawyer who is more in “education” rather than the practice of law. Maybe you can explain to him that what we are talking about is proof of GMA’s guilt (of cheating), not whether she should be prosecuted or impeached for it. As I said again and again, a bare assertion is not a “fact”, and probable cause is not proof of guilt. A cop may arrest you for probable cause, or a fiscal may indict for same reason, but that doesn’t mean you are “guilty” of the offense you are being charged with. Proof beyond reasonable doubt comes into play only during your trial in a court of law for crimes that require that quantum of proof. So, you see Mr. Margallo is attempting to distinguish a hyena from an orangoutang. By the way, nothing in your so-called tape or transcript indicate that GMA admitted to cheating or stole some votes. Now, I know how Susan Roces got that idea to make her raving mad on national TV.

    Gees, you really are dissecting GMA’s words and actions at every turn, aren’t you? I understand good catholics believe that their ultimate goal in this life is to go to “heaven” and meet his/her God. As a catholic, GMA is entitled to pursue that goal, isn’t she?

  11. Abe N. Margallo

    . . . what we are talking about is proof of GMA’s guilt (of cheating)

    I have answered this question a number of times before. One is in http://redsherring.blogspot.com/2006/01/show-me-unassailable-proof.html

    Anyway, is GMA really interested to confront her accusers and whatever proof they may have of her “cheating”? If she is, for the sake of the nation teetering on chaos, why doesn’t she take up the challenge and go to trial to resolve the matter once and for all? She has already ducked two chances to clear all those “speculations” but there’s always the third chance. Let’s cut to the chase immediately this time by waiving the one-year bar and her right to privacy and this can happen very fast. What is she afraid of if there are no proofs anyway?

  12. titanium

    Abe, because she has to be properly indicted first before she could be tried. You don’t expect her to file a case against herself in court or any forum, do you? You have to do your own homework, if you can, instead of cajoling GMA to do that for you. Do you understand the adversarial nature of our justice system, or that of any other society? You feel you have a case against GMA? Then follow the rules and procedure. Good luck! But if you lose, please stop whining and accept your defeat graciously.

  13. cvj

    Bencard, i follow (and dissect) GMA’s words since i included myself among her supporters. I spent close to a day here in Singapore queuing up to register and vote for her in 2004. As a supposedly good catholic, i hope she remembers that Jesus directed his spite towards hypocrites.

    Titanium, that’s where our local officials differ from their counterparts in the more prosperous societies which may partly account for why they are prosperous. In South Korea and Japan, politicians and business leaders also have their moral frailties, but these are mitigated by a sense of honor and shame which causes them to jump from tall buildings or commit sepukku when they are found out. They don’t usually hide behind legalities and stick like glue to their positions. Here, the culture is different and as a result, our justice system is unable to cope. In our environment, legal rules and procedure alone are not enough to ensure that justice is served. Oftentimes, it just provides a hollow shell that legitimizes abuse of power.

  14. Abe N. Margallo

    she has to be properly indicted first before she could be tried

    Scientific surveys show an overwhelming number of Filipinos want GMA to be properly indicted. But who doesn’t want or refuse to do so on capricious grounds?

    While I agree that impeachment is adversarial, it is however more of an un-election contest than a judicial proceeding. So, when electors begin piecing the Garci tapes and the “I’m sorry” speech together and make sense of them as reflected in those surveys, GMA is politically obligated to face the court of public opinion even if in some symbolic way she has to present the case herself in that forum. In effect, she is re-filing a certificate of candidacy against herself in an election in reverse the object of which is the pre-termination or preservation of her original mandate. GMA’s supporters in the House (representing the electors) have done their leader a disservice by depriving her of the opportunity to legitimate herself, hence the continuing crisis.

    When the nation is in such a predicament, a chicken-and-egg argument at this point won’t really be of any help.

    Way to go, cvj. (And by the way, I was also a GMA supporter).

  15. Bencard

    cvj and Abe, surveys, my foot! Of course, the 70% who divided their votes between Poe, Lacson, Roco, Villanueva, and all the other “also run”s all against GMA would necessarily be reflected in those surveys, wouldn’t they? In the Philippines prejudice die hard, except for people who change loyalties like they are changing their socks, oftentimes for a hidden, but not too obvious, personal agenda.Be that as it may, you seem to be losing miserably in the battle for the hearts and minds of the nation. Just look at your pitiful demos that are dominated by giant red flags of hate. Is that your definition of “people”? GMA doesn’t have to do anything to satisfiy your spite. She just has to continue exercising strong political will for the general good of the people, and the coming generations.

  16. cvj

    Bencard, yes just like you and me, those with red flags demonstrating in the streets are also people. I don’t subscribe to their ideology, but i respect them because they are the ones who have been doing the heavy lifting and are consequently bearing the brunt of the injustices inflicted by GMA’s illegitimate rule. They serve as a reminder to those who choose to have a constricted view of reality.

  17. anna de brux

    cvj,

    many of gloria’s die hard fans are like horses. you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. worse is if the horse wears blinders, impossible to make the poor sod of see anything – it will always have a constricted view of reality.

    as Abe says, way to go cvj!

  18. Bencard

    cvj, see what I mean, is that the kind of “people” that you refer to,excellent at heckling but nothing else. No wonder, your group opposing Arroyo are losing ground, because of characters like that.

  19. cvj

    bencard, i’m happy to report that my view of Anna de Brux is not as constricted as yours. While, like you, i may have had misgivings with her approach sometime back, when i read her comment (on one of mlq3’s columns ‘Neither Victory nor Defeat’) last December, i began to appreciate where she was coming from:

    “I read your article in the Inquirer last night (my time) and I must admit that the comments by some people that you reported on are sensible on the conditions that (1) the subject of discussion is a person worthy of trust. And Gloria is not, (2) the commentor has always been or is truly politically “neutral” (almost an impossible feat in my opinion).

    The commenters you spoke of remind me of habitual subjectives in a ‘negotiation’ scenario.

    What your commentors in effect said was that there is/are no worthy replacement/s for Arroyo today. I disagree. There are a few people out there who qualify but typical of any ‘revolt’ from within, the situation in the Philippines has not come to a boiling point yet – the political climate has not reached the tipping point. In a full-blown crisis scenario, a person from the opposition (or from Gloria’s camp) will come out who will make the difference and LEAD.

    The ‘Jacobins’ are in power today; when the government’s exercise of all-out corruption has become intolerable, ‘Robespierre’ will fall. Remember that the latter lost his head after 4 years of continuing corruption.

    As in any society in crisis and in search of identity, it is inevitable that people (particularly those with a little more than others to lose) become subjective. In my opinion, one must be able to make tough decisions; subjectives have never made a difference – they will blow the way of the wind and in the French Revolution, the ’subjectives’ lost their heads too.

    In the scheme of things today, a citizen of this country must be able to say, ‘Right! I believe Gloria is right and I shall support her whatever it takes.’ or “I believe Gloria is evil and I shall withdraw my support.”

    Sounds simplistic but in the scheme of things, it’s all about Right versus Wrong. There are tough decisions to be made but these are tough times. The country’s own sanity is in peril and we cannot just sit on the side undecided.”

    I’d count the above comment by Anna as one of those that had the most influence on my thinking.

  20. Bencard

    cvj, I’m not surprised that you were influenced by her, but I am not impressed. Constricted? I think it’s in the eyes of the beholder, or in this case, the mind-set of the reader. But then again, everybody is entitled to his/her belief, unless of course he/she becomes verbally violent as, I think, she is prone to be. Incoherence and fuzzy thinking I can suffer but not intellectual pretensions or dishonesty expressed in offensive or abusive language.

    Your friend seems to be saying one must be able to decide whether he/she would be pro-Gloria or not. But in the next breath, she is calling all supporters of GMA “horses with blinders”. There you go, cvj. I think you are betting on the wrong horse.

  21. cvj

    bencard, you’re right to point out that you don’t come off that badly according to the standards set by Anna in her comment above given that you have at least clearly chosen a side. In that way, your presence has had a clarifying effect. It doesn’t contradict the ‘horses with blinders’ observation though, which i think is an apt characterization of the strictly legalistic approach that you have taken.

    In terms of defending one’s belief, i think you got your criteria wrong. ‘Incoherence’ and ‘fuzzy thinking’ have a direct bearing on the validity of an assertion while ‘verbal violence’ is more of a peripheral concern. The latter is a concern in as much as it either impedes or reinforces the flow of communication, not so much for its direct bearing on the content of an idea.

  22. melvinsky

    Please allow me to join. this is the longest running topic i have come across it is getting more interesting. May i present my two centavos worth? Issuewise,IS PGMA getting clobbered? At the SC, surveys, academe? business? But she has the institutions,military, congress, congress and LGUs. She divided(may not be equally proportional) the middle class, the center, church,business and to a certain extent the youth.After the Hello Garci and until the second impeachment she and her good advisors/political team( i find their year to date record good,Ex. Mike D find it difficult and awkward and difficult to do damage control but he kept doing good at it) applied a twin defensive strategy of reconciliation and dedmahan. Who are left are all loyalists(the wishy washy are long gone). The reconciliation strategy is fairly common to all but the dedma strategy(i just heard this from lot of my friends and assosciates) is fairly new. Ex.One fair minded supporters and the media reports”Mam si ganito at ganon involve sa mga ganitong issue” Sabi ni Mam “Ha! Ganun ba, O sige”. Then Wala na. If the issue is too hot to handle dedma na lang. After thew 2nd impeachment, offensive strategy naman. Attack dito!attack dun to disorient the adversary. Galing, di ba. Thos who oppose her can do better than this if they can unite on an iron clad issue that cannot be muddled and diverted. The center does not unite.Why? There are two shades of this non unity.
    One, is a ghost from the past. Napaso na sa EDSA 1 and 2. Ano? sila pa rin? From FM to Cory to FVR to ERAP to now.Haay hwag na lang. Trabaho na lang.
    Second, Unlike the time of martial, the middle class has hope not here but there (overseas) and for those still staying here just for the sake of right still hope that they can change their president in 2007?
    Very difficult task. But for those who oppose this administration, unite and wait for another issue to trigger it.I do not think GMA will stumble until the 2007 election.That is why the 2007 election is critical not for GMA but for us. Without the 2007 election, a longer stay for GMA in whatever political box will be a very big bonus and certain for her. No post 2010 persecutions and more!
    Nobody from the opposition wants to find a win-win unity, hence PGMA can never be dislodged.So the formula is unite then find another issue. Am i right? If no,then we are back to the drawing board.

  23. cvj

    melvinsky, your friends’ insight into GMA’s ‘dedma’ strategy is spot on. As you can see from the above exchange, it is something that us Filipinos, even those who have spent a long time in the USA, seem to be adept with. (I believe most of us at one time or another have had some experience using this approach in our everyday lives to achieve the desired effect.)

    In terms of the opposition achieving unity, i think you are right. That is also what makaglo has emphasized in his comment above. (from October 8 at 9:05am). The ghost of the past does weigh us down, but i think the main difficulty is that many (if not most) in the middle and upper classes still see Arroyo as being a relatively benign presence. Just like some forms of cancer, it takes time for the effects of Arroyo’s weakening of our institutions to be felt throughout the entire system.

  24. Bencard

    cvj, I think the “horse with blinders” description applies to you and your’s as much to me and mine, don’t you think? It depends on who’s talking. But you know what? It’s not important who has the better world view, or who wins this little give and take between us. I don’t know about you but as for me, I can assure you that I love, and and care about, my people in general regardless of their political beliefs. I have no reason to doubt that you do too, and that we yearn for the same goal of greatneess for our nation. The country has countless and very serious problems that we all have to focus on. We all have our individual responsibilities and every one of us has an important task to do to achieve that end.

    I know this blog is a hostile territory for a GMA supporter. I joined with a bit of trepidation and my fear was confirmed when right off the bat, I was declared to be on GMA’s payroll. Be that as it may, I hope I have presented, in my small way, what I believe is the view from the other side. We can hold on to our own beliefs and opinions but at the end of the day, we are all Filipinos just doing our best as allowed by our unique situations in life, and we are proud of who we are regardless of our problems and natural misfortunes.

  25. mlq3

    bencard, everyone is welcome here, and i think there’s much more to be gained by sticking around -and rolling with the punches- then by giving up on trying to reach out.

  26. cvj

    bencard, regarding your comment at 10:13pm – i agree 100%. mlq3, thanks for welcoming everyone.

  27. Bencard

    mlq3, if you see this whole thing as a contest, I’m not running away from it because I could not stand the “punches”. I know, you are just using a cliche, but seriously, I enjoy having some dialogue with people whose ideas I disagree with even if the result is by no means decisive, and were back to where we started. I think somehow it helps expose the weakness and strength of both opposing views. However, Abe Margallo’s lament that all these “chicken and eggs” arguments don’t help in solving our country’s problems may have some validity. I join cvj in thanking you for welcoming everyone.

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