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Trial balloon
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on November 21, 2006 76 Comments 6 min read
Reform from above? Previous Ebdane heads to Defense Next

It’s official (2:30 pm): the Supreme Court is expected due to formally announce at 2 pm 4 pm that it has denied, with finality, the motion for reconsideration for the so-called “people’s intiative.” My understanding, though, is that the Supreme Court also reversed its previous decision that the initiative and referendum law is insufficient.

“Acting on the motions for reconsideration of the decision of October 25, 2006, the Court resolves by the same vote of 8-7 to deny with finality the said motion for reconsideration, as the basic issues raised therein have been duly passed upon by this court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” the three-page resolution said.

The division of the justices’ vote was the same as when they ruled on the original petition.

In a separate vote, 10 justices ruled… that Republic Act 6735 or Initiative Referendum Act is sufficient to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative.

But the high court stood firm on its position that the signature campaign conducted by the Sigaw ng Bayan could not be passed off as a people’s initiative to institute constitutional reforms because of the questionable procedures that the group had used.

This means that the law is fully in force, and no one has any excuse not to undertake a proper people’s initiative in the future -within the parameters described by the court. For example, the public could propose two 4-year terms for the presidency, or run-off elections for the presidency; still, future debates might be, could an initiative propose, a unicameral legislature? What is clear, though, is that initiative cannot propose the parliamentary system. But for the short term, the meaning of the decision is: the Legion can try again. Fair enough.

Looks like the Palace may be beating a strategic retreat after the Ebdane trial balloon inspired a critical reaction. Today’s trial balloon is the idea of a unity ticket for the senate (RG Cruz says Palace is giving up on Plans A and B and is thinking along campaign-related lines). What’s the purpose of the trial balloon? To determine if a presidential endorsement will be a political kiss of death or not. You have to tie in these trial balloons with other news. Such as this: new survey comes out, which seems to validate my observations. If you notice, the President’s core supporters amount to about a quarter of the population.

Look at the survey figures. In broad strokes, it shows a country divided, and the administration’s strongest suit, its economic performance, seems viewed by the public along the partisan lines I pointed out: the president’s hard-core constituency, 25%, thinks she’s doing great; the hard-core opposition refuses to see her achievements, and they’re at 39% (more or less the Estrada constituency holding firm); a huge percentage, 36%, is undecided and is the segment that the opposition and administration are battling for, but which to my mind, is more inclined to support the status quo.

Ph6-111706
Time Magazine has Andrew Marshall commenting on the political killings in the Philippines:

In August, in response to international concern, Arroyo set up the six-member Melo Commission, led by a retired Supreme Court judge, to probe the killings. Some bereaved families doubt its independence and have refused to testify. This distrust is symptomatic of a profound loss of faith in Arroyo herself. She is an unpopular President, plagued by corruption scandals and slammed for her failure to improve living standards. Arroyo has condemned the killings, but she will not implicate the military – even as it implicates itself. Col. Eduardo del Rosario, head of a military antiterrorist unit called Task Force Davao, admitted to TIME earlier this year that “individual commanders” might be responsible for the killings.

Investigations into these deaths yield hardly any results. Of 114 political murders recorded since 2001 by a special police task force, arrests have been made in just three cases, with no reported convictions. The President’s apologists will be hard-pressed on this one, since they’ve enjoyed trumpeting Time’s other stories about the Philippines in the past.

The figure of 114 murders is interesting. Using it in the report implicitly rejects the figure of 700++ murdered put forward by some human rights groups and which is used as the authoritative figure by the National Democrats.

USA considers playing a larger role in Mindanao peace process.

T-bills auction scrapped. Palace says cheaper housing loans reflect something “astounding”.

Tomas Osmeña asks Palace to release his brother’s pork barrel, and says it’s a misconception to think Cebu is rich.

On an earlier Osmeña, the historical document of the day is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last press conference was almost entirely about the Philippines. In my never-ending Roxas biography project, Osmeña’s greatest political misfortune was having someone knowledgeable and sympathetic to Philippine concerns drop dead, just as the crushing burden of the presidency was at its greatest. A certain momentum survived in the new Truman administration, but the relationship would never be the same.

In the punditocracy, Anding Roces (a former Secretary of Education) examines the origins of the decline of the educational system. Tony Abaya says the Palace’s real worries are over Joseph Estrada and Panfilo Lacson. Luis Teodoro wonders if it makes political sense for the President to keep cozying up to Dubya.

The Business Mirror editorial says a new “economic story line” is required. Dr. Michael Alba, head of the Economics Department of De La Salle University, begins a series: The Philippine Economy from the Perspective of Growth Economics (Part I). (During meetings for a book to be released by the AIM Policy Center in which we participated, I recall Dr. Alba making the interesting observation that 1983 marked a watershed year in Philippine history: the year, he says can be proven with data, that corruption became endemic in our society).

Naima Bouteldja argues the ban of Muslim headscarves in Europe didn’t originate with the public, but the politicians instead.

In the blogosphere, The Unlawyer ponders conflicting news of no DND appointments before January, 2007 and other news of an appointment by December.

A Hundred Years Hence thinks a new national capital is a bad idea, and prefers a more integrated and fresh look at Manila and Quezon City.

[email protected] noticed how boxing trumped Mass and offers some thoughts on heroes and heroism (and how’s this for a Memento Mori! Gotta love the picture). The Warrior Lawyer weighs in on Honasan as Sarcasm Aside weighs in on Pacquiao.

Carlos Celdran meets Imeldific. Brilliant.

As a fan of Delicious Library and a Mac user, it’s interesting to me that a debate’s taking place over pretty applications. Rogue Amoeba (makers of an app. I really like, Audio Hijack Pro) wrote the essay contended over; see responses by Dustin MacDonald and MK&C on the fine balance between pretty, and actually useful, software.

Call Me Fishmeal offers up a reflection on the nature of fighting, by way of a failed pissing contest with Nicholas Negroponte.

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  1. My elementary education was spent in the late 70s and early 80s. I could say I had the best teachers then, who were intelligent, diligent in their work and unselfish in mentoring their students. Reading Mr. Roces’ article, I realized those teachers must have been the last of a vanishing breed (at the time the youngest of them were in their mid-40s). I consider myself fortunate for I have learned many things from them, lessons that have helped to shape me into what I am now. I can only hope my children would have teachers of the same–and even better– caliber than mine. But with the continuing brain drain that our country is experiencing…

  2. So far it seems to me that “…a presidential endorsement will be a political kiss of death…” for most policians. Many in the administration are seriously taking this into considertation and are making “arrangements”. Indeed, Gloria is “A Philippine Shame”!

  3. Then it was a double victory for the Filipino people as the so called People’s Initiative was finally rejected and the people’s right to amend the charter by their own hands has been upheld.

    Though I’m still wary since RA 6735 practically allows anyone, even people in power to utilize it and the law is also silent on the use of government money.

  4. There’s always a legroom for the administration isn’t it? The Supremes dismiss with finality the petition for reconsideration of Singaw ng Bayan PI. But at the same time, to vote to reverse their decision on the sufficiency of RA6735. Could it be that all this is a plan to dupe the people?

  5. “the hard-core opposition refuses to see her achievements, and they’re at 39% (more or less the Estrada constituency holding firm)”

    Manolo,

    I dont get this quite well! How sure are we that everybody who distrust GMA belongs to Estrada constituency? It would have been better if the survey question would be as direct as ” Do you consider your self an Estrada loyalist? to really determine and arrive at a finite labeling.

    I really find the surveys in the Phil really vague and very open to everybodys interpretations. It seem so unlike with the surveys being done here in the US where they woudle ask questions like ” Given a choice between Gulliani and Hilary Clinton, whom would you vote for president” or in a three corner fight among MC Cain, Clinton and Gulliani…

    Then you said that a GMA supporters are “small” and Erap’s are “big”. How small is small and big is big when they are both minority numbers anyway? Does it matter that much if GMAs believers is 25% and Eraps is 39% when they are both minority numbers.

    However, I agree with you that real fight is really over teh 36% undecided. It quiete a challenge for both side to woo these big chunk of consitituents and GMA is just lucky because these always translate to status qou.

    While Eraps and GMA solid consituents are holding firm, the undecided is holding very very firm as well. so there is so much truth to bongs austero belief that ” while we hate the crimes of Gloria we hate the oppositions dirty tricks even more”

    Its been more than a year that the oposition and the civil society has been doing all the tricks that they can imagine and invcent to woo the undecided but to no avail. This should have made this side of power player to revisit their strategies. The way I see it, the opposition hasn’t accomplish anything yet while GMA outsmarted them so well after all these years.

    As to the undecided, I salute them for being so hard to get. And standing so firm up to this very day. By being not so quick to jump into the bandwagon of partisanships (no matter how the opposition pressured them, call them names, curse them, mock them, taunt them, deride). They stood soooo firm They are really the ones who is “raising the bar” of this contest amd making both side to shape up or sut up. I have a felling that this will stay to the veryend until election day.

  6. Now that the SC has junked the PI, i’m looking forward to OneVoice’s next steps with regard to their other proposals, particularly “Elections in 2007 as scheduled, as an indirect referendum, and electoral reform now.

    BTW, i thouroughly enjoyed the link to fishmeal.

  7. Oh btw, manolo, how do you consider yourselves based on the labelling that you have created?. Sure, you dont belong to GMAs. Do you consider your self an Erap s constituents or undecided? Same question goes to Manuel Buencamino, CVJ, hvrds and the rest of the rabid anti GMA in these blog…..

  8. rego, i have to see the Senatorial line-up first before i decide whom to vote for. (i may not be able to vote for local officials since i’m out of the country.) however, i don’t want to consider myself makiyeme so i’ll stick with the anti-GMA label.

  9. with that answer, it seems to me that its really hard to makes the 2007 as referendum for either eraps or GMA. My feeling is that the voters will tend to vote according to the invidual merits.

  10. rego,

    You said ‘Then you said that a GMA supporters are “small” and Erap’s are “big”. How small is small and big is big when they are both minority numbers anyway? Does it matter that much if GMAs believers is 25% and Eraps is 39% when they are both minority numbers.’

    Don’t know much about math?

    Let me give you an example.

    If there are 40 million eligible voters.

    GMA will have 40 million X 25% is 10 million.

    Erap will have 40 million X 39% is 15.6 million.

    That leaves 40 million – 10 M – 15.6 M = 14.4 million undecided
    or 36% undecided.

    Let me know if you don’t get it. I’ll give you an example using jelly beans.

    BTW, count me as anti-GMA who can vote unlike you.

  11. rego, you may very well be right in your prediction, but i don’t see how you were able to arrive at that conclusion based on my response.

  12. GMA or Erap? If it’s a choice between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea…I don’t know, but I kinda lean towards GMA–she may be a cheat, but at least she works hard. Unlike that lazy, womanizing, hard-drinking, illiterate, corrupt son-of-a-bitch elected into office by millions of stupid filipinos. sorry.
    I’m glad I don’t have to make that choice. I’m an expat.

  13. rego, i concur in your analysis. hypothetically, survey or no survey, GMA could still win if she is candidate for president in an election held today. I just couldn’t buy Manolo’s hypothesis that GMA had already lost the 15% support she had from his so-called “undecided” since 2004. if anything, she probably had gained more support from this group considering the positive direction the country is going right now. This explains why despite the numerous melodramatic strategems exploited by the opposition (i.,e., alleged “pidal account”, “gambling payola”, bolante, garci, hyatt 10, cory, batasan 5, hyatt 10, impeachment 1 & 2, magdalo uprising, attempted quo d’etat, alan cayetano, bacani & cruz, nemenzo, et al., etc., etc.), they could only manage some 30,000 rag tag “people power” to demonstrate and try to force GMA to resign in 2005 and grab power.

    Unless the opposition can put their acts together without hypocrisy and insincerety, and find a real “messiah” capable of running the country better than GMA, they will just remain a noisy, disjointed, ineffective and irrelevant group wailing in the wind.

  14. anne, who do you think commits purges or cleansing within a group (’cause it could not have been someone from the outside, you know)?

  15. I don’t want to speculate Bencard who did what.

    Killings by any other name are murders, they become political if they were committed in the name of some political ideology, hence don’t you think that AI is right when they enuciated that there were 700 or so political, extra judicial kilings committed during Gloria’s reign as opposed to what mlq3 published here per police task force? This is in effect my contention and not a specific figure.

    You see, Gloria herself implicitly admitted the AI findings which came with a list of those killed when she met with them in London as well as when she made a blanket offer to solve them while on a visit to EU.

  16. anne, so are we on the same page that “extra-judicial killings” (whatever that means since there’s no more death penalty in PI) could have been perpetrated by warriors from both sides of the warring ideologies?

  17. anna, so we should call all those who got killed (114 or 700) casualties of war, not “murder” victims, right?

  18. Unless anyone here knows something exceptional about someone’s mother; it is best to keep anyone’s mother out of these!

  19. I thought the Phil. gov’t has declared all-out
    war against the NPA and eradicate it once and for all. Correct me if I’m wrong, would you please?

  20. When a soldier of the AFP or PNP is killed by the NPA, is it murder or political killing in the context of war?

  21. ben, you bring up an interesting question. as a lawyer, would you know what the case law is on the matter? i understand that when huk leaders were captured in the 1950s, some were charged with murder, but i seem to recall murder cases were dismissed and rebellion and subversion charges is what huks like luis taruc were convicted and imprisoned for. past cases would certainly clarify what the view is of the law, in cases where rebels kill soldiers during armed encounters (my assumption is killing a soldier or government official by means of assassination i.e. not in the field of battle, equals a murder charge if the rebel is apprehended).

  22. I wouldn’t know if THE Philippine govt has declared an all out war and like mlq3, I am curious to hear your explanation.

    Casualties of war? So, if the govt officially declares war on let’s say smuggling, and smugglers are killed or police authorities are killed we can also say that they are casualties of war?

  23. sorry to intrude but i think that’s all hair-splitting. whether political killing, purge, casualty of war or collateral damage, the bottomline is: somebody is killed; a human being loses his life. =)

  24. Hi Anna! My father’s from Ilocos Sur though he told me our roots can be traced to Pampanga (Corazon Amurao, the lone survivor from the killing spree of Richard Speck in the US in the 60s, on the other hand, hails from Batangas). Your friend must be a long lost relative. =)

  25. Oh I see. The girl I knew was a student at the St Louis U (I think of Baguio State U). I remember her because she was a Miss something. Just might be your relative, eh? Actually she was the GF of my older brother. Heh!

  26. mlq3, anna: It seems to me that for as long as a group, e.g. NPA, MNLF, or Hukbalahap, is “rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government, or its laws, the territory of the Philippine Island or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, or depriving the Chief Executive or the legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their power or prerogative”, then it is committing the crime of rebellion or insurrection. Any killing by a member of such group in pursuit, or furtherance, of the rebellion is punishable by prision mayor (6 to 12 years imprisonment) plus fine not exceeding 20,000 pesos. However, whether a killing is in connection with the rebellion or not is a matter of proof.

    If such a group cannot prove rebellion, then its acts would be plain banditry or lawlessness and any killing committed by its members would be murder or homicide and punishable up to life imprisonment (death, until recently abolished by GMA). This is so, Anna, even if the Government has “declared an all-out war”
    to stamp out such a group.

    So, George, the “hair-splitting” is important and necessary to determine what crime was committed when “a human being loses his life” through the act of another, and what penalty is appropriate.

  27. Bencard, I think we can all agree that political killings are taking place or have been committed by various politically orientated groups under Gloria’s regime. Gloria herself accepted this fact (extra-judicial or politically motivated killings) not only before the EU’s top leadership but also before the leaders attending the of the Asian-Europe summit.

    The list that AI submitted to Gloria when she invited them to meet with her in London stated that there were definitely more than 114 killings of a political nature. The police task force, from what mlq3 reported here, indicated that there were only 114 killings (with 3 resolutions of the crime made) so why didn’t she clarify that while she was there at the meeting (she personally called for the meeting after all).

    Anyway, what are you really trying to say? That the 750 killings are a figment of the imagination of human rights groups? The only way to determine which killing is what (politically motivated or not) is for hands on solution to the problem, something people she met in Europe don’t see coming. On the contrary, 2 months after her visit to Europe, Gloria received a stern warning from JFC. And now this by Time: “Of 114 political murders recorded since 2001 by a special police task force, arrests have been made in just three cases, with no reported convictions.”

    It is not a figment of anybody’s imagination on the other hand, when Gloria offered very officially to solve these killings – whoever perpetrated these killings will be prosecuted, she said so, and she declared that she had instructed the Melo Commissions to run after the killers with the full powers of her office. That’s what she said. I didn’t invent that. So, where are we today?

    If Gloria does not agree with the findings of the CHR and AI, she’s got to come forward and tell the people that the AI and the CHR findings are wrong – she made the declaration that she would solve those killings, a promise that she cannot take lightly unless she didn’t mean what she said.

    If for the sake of argument, we all agree that there were ONLY 114 killings as the police task force (PNP I suppose) advanced, that should make her task easier, 114 vs 750 is a fraction of the number of politically motivated killings she had earlier on promised to solve. With a strong political will, nothing is impossible particularly when it is worldwide knowledge Gloria has total control of the PNP and the armies.

    In sum, let me tell you Bencard that unsolved politically motivated killings have a way of haunting the leader of a nation under whose reign these killings happened, it will forever remain a blot that only a strong resolve can take away. What is gobasmacking is you seem to insist, you a lawyer, that those who were killed were murdered as a result of some kind of”” war”, then Bencard you are not doing Gloria any favor because by virtue of what you are interjecting here that the victims are victims of Gloria’s “all out war”, you are elevating the case to the International War Crimes Court. Prenez garde!

  28. Bencard, I think we can all agree that political killings are taking place or have been committed by various politically orientated groups under Gloria’s regime. Gloria herself accepted this fact (extra-judicial or politically motivated killings) not only before the EU’s top leadership but also before the leaders attending the of the Asian-Europe summit.

    The list that AI submitted to Gloria when she invited them to meet with her in London stated that there were definitely more than 114 killings of a political nature. The police task force, from what mlq3 reported here, indicated that there were only 114 killings (with 3 resolutions of the crime made) so why didn’t she clarify that while she was there at the meeting (she personally called for the meeting after all).

    Anyway, what are you really trying to say? That the 750 killings are a figment of the imagination of human rights groups? The only way to determine which killing is what (politically motivated or not) is for hands on solution to the problem, something people she met in Europe don’t see coming. On the contrary, 2 months after her visit to Europe, Gloria received a stern warning from JFC. And now this by Time: “Of 114 political murders recorded since 2001 by a special police task force, arrests have been made in just three cases, with no reported convictions.”

    It is not a figment of anybody’s imagination on the other hand, when Gloria offered very officially to solve these killings – whoever perpetrated these killings will be prosecuted, she said so, and she declared that she had instructed the Melo Commissions to run after the killers with the full powers of her office. That’s what she said. I didn’t invent that. So, where are we today?

    If Gloria does not agree with the findings of the CHR and AI, she’s got to come forward and tell the people that the AI and the CHR findings are wrong – she made the declaration that she would solve those killings, a promise that she cannot take lightly unless she didn’t mean what she said.

    If for the sake of argument, we all agree that there were ONLY 114 killings as the police task force (PNP I suppose) advanced, that should make her task easier, 114 vs 750 is a fraction of the number of politically motivated killings she had earlier on promised to solve. With a strong political will, nothing is impossible particularly when it is worldwide knowledge Gloria has total control of the PNP and the armies.

    In sum, let me tell you Bencard that unsolved politically motivated killings have a way of haunting the leader of a nation under whose reign these killings happened, it will forever remain a blot that only a strong resolve can take away. What is gobasmacking is you seem to insist, you a lawyer, that those who were killed were murdered as a result of some kind of”” war”, then Bencard you are not doing Gloria any favor because by virtue of what you are interjecting here that the victims are victims of Gloria’s “all out war”, you are elevating the case to the International War Crimes Court. Prenez garde!

  29. anna, “figment of the immagination”. in this instance, those are your words, not mine and i never suggested that. in fact, we have agreed that all those “extra-judicial killings” could have been perpetrated by both sides, didn’t we? under our law, the question of whether a killing is political or not is for the court to determine by competent proof. Under our scheme of government, GMA has no power to second-guess the court, so you cannot rightfully blame her for the slow process of justice. She may be the chief executive but she doesn’t have the power of a dictator who can jail a suspect without due process. I’m sure you understand that.

    with respect to international organizations/tribunals, I’m not too familiar with their rules and source of jurisdiction vis a vis internal affairs of sovereign nations. all i know is that they are not having much success containing, let alone dispensing justice on, massive killings of genocidal proportions, e.g., Sudan, etc. Not to denigrate the Philippine killings (a loss of one life is one too many), 117 or 750 is hardly a “genocide” especially when they resulted from an ongoing warfare (which is my contention here).

    as far as elevating the issue to the “International War Crimes Court”, assuming it can be done, i’m sure the universal rule of law will be followed and due process will not be ignored. In case you don’t know, the filing of a case doesn’t necessarily mean the respondent is guilty. merci, mam’selle (excuse my francais).

  30. Bencard,

    By interjecting the words, “casualties of war”, it isn’t me but you who are effectively or raised the spectre of elevating those politically-motivated killings and murders committed under Gloria’s regime to the war crimes court.

    I have no doubt that the unviversal rule of law will be followed, eg, just like what was done during the trial of Milosevic, Sharon, and other West African leaders who were accused of war crimes.

  31. Aside from the killings, we have to remember the abductions. In Iraq, it is the insurgents that are abducting innocents. Over here, it is the military, our sworn protectors, that have abducted UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno.

  32. Indeed, cvj. One of those young students is or was a would be mother. So, where are Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno?

    What happened to them? where are they? Why can’t Gloria demand that the military shed light into their disappearance? Is their disappearance a result of an “ongoing warfare” too? Then, Gloria must face the music and tell the world that she has declared war on her own people!

    Their names happen to be on the list that Gloria received from the Amnesty International delegates she invited to meet with her in London. She gave her “word of honor” that these abductions and politically motivated killings would be solved. Nobody told her to make the promise that she would use the full powers of her office to solve these killings (and abductions) – but she did it. Is this another “parole en l’air”?

    What happened to them? where are they? Why can’t Gloria demand that the military shed light into their disappearance?

    Gloria by having appropriated chief executive powers for herself as well as the role of commander in chief of the armies and the police, could easily COMMAND the military and the police to release the young women or to send their bodies back to their families if they are dead.

    If the chief of staff or a major service commander could easily demand of a subaltern “TO PRODUCE” (a tradition in the military) anything and everything, financial and otherwise, why can’t one who calls herself commander in chief do the same to her chief of staff, armed forces?

  33. GMA and Milosevic, and other war criminals like him, are galaxies apart. One doesn’t have to be a Sagan, or Einstein, to deduce that.

  34. Bencard,

    YOU raised the spectre of war in the Philippine setting where, as we all agreed on, politically motivated killings have been happening since 2001.

    One doesn’t have to be Sagan (which one, the writer, Fabienne?) or Einstein to see that you yourself raised them first in your posts, so for the sake of Gloria, I do hope your having enuciated the existence Gloria’s all out war including casualties of that war as well as the ongoing warfare wouldn’t get Gloria in the docks at the International War Crimes court for crimes against her people.

  35. i wouldn’t worry about PGMA’s ability to defend herself in any court, at any time. The “war crimes court” is not a kangaroo court that you seem to peceive to be and would get “Gloria in the docks”. Whether or not i used the words “casualties of war” it is not determinative of whether that court would take cognizance(or jurisdiction) of the “case”. It takes more than my “enunciation” for something like that to happen. Let’s not be naive, if we can help it.

  36. mlq3,cvj,anna,

    Since “no one has any excuse not to undertake a proper people’s initiative in the future -within the parameters described by the court.”

    How about a PI for a Snap Elections for Pres and VP, amend the Constitution to cut short their terms and set an elections or include the positions in the 2007 elections.

    There were prevvious suggestions for this which, again in retrospect, should have been pursued and undertaken at that time. This petetion would have ran a race against Sigaw and would have won. Referendum for Snap on Jan. move the May elections to Nov.

  37. JM,

    I’m all for putting legitimacy back in Malacanang through PI for Snap Elections, for pres, vp and if that’s at all possible or is povided for in the Constitution, I reckon, that’s the best way to solve the political impasse the Philippines finds itself in.

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