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Nov 29

Gang Bang

I have to apologize to the students of Far Eastern University, some of whom I was supposed to address last Monday. A series of snafus resulted in my being unable to make it.

Yesterday, I gave a presentation to a group of NGOs at the Ateneo de Manila and my Arab News column for this week, contains the text of the presentation I delivered: Opportunity to Change the Ship’s Direction Is Being Lost in Manila. My PowerPoint is also here: codengo.ppt

However, just when you think you’re in a position to provide a valid snapshot of conditions, conditions change and rearrange themselves. A dizzying amount of information and speculation swirled around yesterday afternoon, as news spread that a third caucus was going to be held in the Palace last night. RG Cruz gives the lowdown on the administration’s big push:

monday night, hours after the sws released its findings, 70 congressmen came in their suv’s after the break of dark, and sort of agreed, to zero in on the main agenda in revising the charter – and let go of everything else which seems to have been keeping the revisions at bay.

the shift to a parliamentary form of government.

majority leeader prospero nograles, who i caught up with after the meeting, says this is the emerging consensus. it can be as short as a 2 page document. debates start tuesday next week. and marathon hearings, even on a saturday, are a defeinite possibility.

He also reports on the Speaker’s strategy to engage the Senate and the House minority. Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. was interviewed on ANC and went ballistic, obviously piqued, first of all, the committee he’s chairman of in the House was sidelined in the process. He had typically tart words aimed at the “technical working group” tasked with refining the text of amendments to be proposed, and said that as a member of the Ledac (legislative-executive council), no such committee had ever been authorized.

Locsin thundered that while he believes (as, apparently, Miriam Defensor Santiago believes) the House can go ahead and propose amendments -and would win, if challenged before the Supreme Court- the problem was that what could have been a Constitutionally-acceptable process has been tainted by “sneakiness,” which he said is becoming “congenital.” He said the Constitution mandates that the terms of members of the House will all expire on June 30, 2007 and postponing elections to November of next year will result in a Constitutional crisis: besides which it’s plain “intellectual dishonesty” to say a postponement is required to shift to the parliamentary system. “Members of the House are already elected in the manner that a parliamentary system would require,” he said. The real motivation, according to him, for the postponement is that many of his colleagues who are “tired” have children who wouldn’t be of the right age in May, though when pressed to name names, he declined. He was quite adamant that an otherwise perfectly valid proposal was again being discredited by the manner chosen to push it forward. Part of the administration strategy, Locsin said he’d been told, is to rely on the public being uninterested and “forgetting” a plebiscite’s scheduled to take place.

This morning, the papers reported what transpired last night: see Malaya’s Palace caucus OKs scrapping of May polls: Cha-cha train sets parliamentary elections in November and the Inquirer’s House rushes plan for constituent assembly:

The House is reportedly now drafting a resolution that will convene Congress, including the Senate, into a Con-ass that will vote as one.

Based on the Palace-House game plan, the Con-ass will be called shortly before the Asean summit in Cebu in the second week of December, when most lawmakers shall have flown out of Manila to attend official functions in the Queen City of the South…

…The technical working group that was formed in last week’s caucus between Ms Arroyo and her allies was expected to complete the draft document containing the proposed amendments yesterday or by today.

Administration congressmen plan to present the document to senators in order to gain the latter’s support for the convening of the Con-ass by next week…

…A Palace insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the early convening of the Con-ass was meant to force the Senate to act on the issue and elevate it to the Supreme Court sooner than later.

The Palace-House combine is hopeful that the high court will be able to rule on the matter before Feb. 12 to allow for the holding of a plebiscite before the start of the campaign period.

The insider said the Palace-House combine had some aces up its sleeve — between four and six senators who would take part in the Con-ass and lend legitimacy to the exercise.

The senators are waiting up to the last minute because they want to make sure that the Palace-House combine had the numbers to pull off the exercise, the insider said.

The time for action is limited: the House has to pass a resolution proposing amendments by December 22; and a plebiscite has to be held and the results announced, before February 12 (in case the administration loses, it can then put up its senate slate: a media colleague said the government senate’s slate being refined, and it will be surprisingly “young” in composition, hoping to provide a contrasting image to the same-old, same-old composition of the opposition slate. In other words, a slate targeted at courting the undecided.

Part of the scuttlebutt is that the Peso is being kept from hitting 45 to 1, so that such an “improvement” can coincide either with the House approval of proposed amendments, or the proclamation of the administration senate slate, but when I asked people familiar with our currency and how its handled, the ability of the government to control the exchange rate (they claim) isn’t that specific.

What is clear is that the President, who has, until now, rather cleverly fostered the impression she’s ambivalent about specific strategies used in attempting Charter Change, has decided to invest more of her political capital in the process. It’s significant that the caucuses have been held at the Palace, and that the cabinet’s acting in tandem with the House leadership. No more finessing when it comes to the separation of powers. The “big push” also takes advantage of the retirement of the Chief Justice on December 6, and the holiday season.

In other news, Avelino Cruz Jr. intimates that martial law was set to be proclaimed last January but the plan was scuttled by Washington; the actual interview will air on Ricky Carandang’s The Big Picture ANC show tomorrow night. Cruz seems to be using his remaining days in office to apply pressure on behalf of his pet reforms in the military, although the implications of his appointees resigning is, I think, overstated. He put them there, it’s about right that they quit as their boss is due to quit.

Unseemly is the decision of some Justices of the Supreme Court to refuse to submit to a public interview. In the old days, they would have had no choice but to submit to the Commission on Appointments. What is not at bar, so to speak, is their current competence or anything else as associate justices, but what they would do, and how they think, as a potential Chief Justice. This the public has every right to know. Those that refuse a public interview should cease being considered for the position. (On a Supreme Court-related note, see Newsbreak’s profile of Justice Carpio; Inq7.net posts information on the nominees for Chief Justice: see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5).

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano seems poised to be screwed in the House.

the wire services report that the economy continues to grow, but at a slower pace; Business Mirror seems to see things as being pretty chipper. Take a look at Dr. Michael Alba’s continuing series on the economy.

Moderate enthusiasm from the MILF on the government’s latest proposals to settle territorial issues.

Carlos Conde reports on deteriorating Filipino skills in English (hat tip to Filipino Soul).

In the punditocracy, Manuel Buencamino runs through the AFP Chief of Staff’s rather incriminating statements on courts martial. The Inquirer editorial says the Justice Secretary’s on the verge of sabotaging the Cebu summit.

In the blogosphere, a dry holiday season: water rationing in December infuriates The Bunker Chronicles.

Political points: Nagsusulat Lamang points to the miserably low percentage of students from the Ateneo de Manila who are registered to vote. The statistics, I’d wager, when it comes to other colleges and universities are equally grim. Philippine Commentary thinks the President’s husband is going hammer-and-tongs against the media because a good offense is a good defense. Stepping on Poop says not enough political commentators weighed in on the Muslim lawmaker who went postal over being served pork. saludagabre gets miffed by a cantankerous American’s “CIAish tirades.” Philippine Politics 04 on how Manny Pacquiao’s Manila residency’s being engineered.

This made me laugh: [email protected] pens a musical number.

caffeine sparks on Viktor Sumsky. Newsstand on the little school that could. Maureen Lycaon on Borneo treeshrews. Marichu Lambino goes the whole hog on disclosures (but rightly so, this is why you can view my CV).

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  1. leah

    did you notice that the new president in Ecuador , Correa, wants to abolish Congress and change the constitution ?

  2. justice league

    One Voice is going to have to take the cudgels again.

  3. jm

    Voting separately, voting jointly, voting desperately.

  4. manuelbuencamino

    very good analysis in your arab news column

  5. elinca

    (Arab News) -Excellent editorial, mlq! kudos!

  6. jm

    Gang Bang – Gang-raping the Constitution

  7. jm

    Go! Joe! Go!, Go! Butch! Go!, Go! Jaraula! Go!, Go! Gloria! Go!

  8. Carl

    leah said: “did you notice that the new president in Ecuador , Correa, wants to abolish Congress and change the constitution ?”

    I didn’t know that. They just had elections last weekend and he apparently won by a comfortable margin. The part about abolishing congress is particularly surprising, especially considering that he hasn’t assumed office yet. Talk about cracking the whip even before the horse has been hitched to the cart. But the part about changing the constitution isn’t surprising because Evo Morales of Bolivia did that just after assuming office as President. However, Morales used congress as his vehicle to rewrite the constitution.

  9. hvrds

    On Dr. Michael Alba’s piece on the economy. Prior to the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of capitalism, China and India produced about 50% of the worlds GDP combined. Theirs together with communities in the Middle East had established exchange systems (markets) for hundreds of years before the white man. The Europeans had to find a route to the East because the Turks had monopolized exchange with China and India then.

    Their total factor productivity was supplied with horses, elephants and oxen. Prior to the introduction of horses in North America Indians used dogs to pull thier loads.

    Today the combined GDP of both countries (India and China) only amounts to 5-7% of the worlds GDP.

    Their emergence as budding and rapidly industrializing economies will shake up the entire planet because both countries have 40% of the worlds population.

    The Philippines share to worlds GDP is negligible. A country must have the historical basis for the natural evolutionary process of development.

    The so called economic model imposed on the country is still deeply embedded in the country’s social format. Extraction for the mother country.

    It is funny how many people still correlate markets to capitalism. Markets have long existed before capitalism emerged with the industrial revolution.

    The problems we are encountering with this format (capitalism) is the effects on the markets. Markets are human social institutions. Capitalism has that tendency to break down these natural human institutions. That is the problem. It abolishes the markets.

    The Spaniards and the Americans after them had distorted these institutions to benefit them and not the newly forming communities in these islands.

    Hence the distorted culture. How do you use the Pol Pot model of correcting history. We see the horrendous problems in Iraq where a change of culture, political and economic systems are being transformed by force without going through the necessary genocidal solutions done in the past to break the will of a people first. It is messy. Genocide was short and sweet. The world moved from this political action except in Africa today. Somehow the black man is still a depreciated human being in many eyes. Darfur, Rwanda and the Congo are perfect examples of naked brutality of men.

    The U.S. had to kill almost 10% of the Filipino population to pacify the country and impose its will.

    I think the present government will soon impose an autocratic government. Whatever form they impose it will bring forth its necessary counterpart and maybe a sharper contradiction may ensue. They (the government) know they will have no opposition to forming an autocratic state.

  10. UPn student

    hvrds… wikipedia defines capitalism as “…an economic system in which the means of production are mostly privately owned, and capital is invested by private owners in the production, distribution, and trade of goods and services for profit. The prices of commodities and decisions about where to invest capital are guided by market forces. The factors of production include land and other natural resources, labor and capital goods.” I don’t know if the Philippines before the Spaniards came had anything more sophisticated than barter, trade, and plundering (being the plunderers or being the victims). You are not saying, are you, that the Spaniards imposed capitalism on the Philippines during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries?

  11. UPn student

    hvrds… disregard my questions… cheers!!

  12. marichulambino

    being mentioned in your blog even just a little bit feels like having gotten an award for that day (:D

  13. rego

    on the great undecided, I have a feeling that eventually they will with Gloria, during 2007 election. Why? becuase if they are to go with opposition, thats should have happenned already after the so many tricks, ( dirty and good ones) that were resorted by the opposition in the past 3- 6 years….

  14. cvj

    The problems we are encountering with this format (capitalism) is the effects on the markets. Markets are human social institutions. Capitalism has that tendency to break down these natural human institutions. That is the problem. It abolishes the markets.” – hvrds

    Very intriguing that you have made a distinction between markets and capitalism and that the two may actually conflict with each other. Something to chew on…

    For my part, having lived in the belly of a corporation all my working life, i’ve come to believe that these entities are cocoons of socialism with a capitalist skin.

    Rego, you may be right, but judging from mlq3’s above account of the rush to head off the mid-term elections with a constituent assembly, apparently Gloria does not trust the ‘Great Undecided’ enough. I don’t blame her.

  15. rego

    maybe gloria doesn’t exactly know what is the real situation out there. But take note the last paragraph of MLQ3. He was saying something about an election as the most probable way of choice by the people in letting gloria or any president go. And im taking it as the 2010 presidential election not the 2007 election.

    about the rush for the constituent assembly. anybody who wanted results, plan and strategize their action meticously and doing it with what they believe as as the proper time. There is really nothing wrong with it!. I would prefer that they present that as soon as possible so we will know what is it all about. Then people can debate over it as early as now.

    I totally understand why Gloria and some congressman wanted to stay in power. ( sino ba ang ayaw?) but I still believe that it is the general public that should decide on who should stay or who should go. And Im very confident that the peopel will take that duty seriously when it called for.

    Now if Gloria and his allies will twist the people’s will by scheming on the people and convert to parliamentary form government without the consent of the people. Even worst violate the existing law/s just to get the results that they wanted, Ibang usapan na yan. Now that is when it become bad and really wrong.

    I find MLQ3s and other write up about “the rush” soooo
    “praningy”. Parang takot na takot sila about con ass. Eh idea pa lang naman yun eh at i prepresent din naman sa publiko yun eh It will undergo the usual process namna di ba? like public debate ( and of course grandstanding by each side) challenging it in the Supreme court etc etc.

    Kung ako lang, sige na “bring the cons ass on” and “now na!”so we can discuss, debate , fight over it. Basta ba we do it in a civil way. No problem for me.

  16. iniduro ni emilie

    rego,

    haste, haste, haste makes waste. and it’s a mountain pile of waste, especially if the proposal comes from trapos.

    recall how we wasted the process of impeaching erap all because the power grab was well maneuvered by them who couldn’t wait to please their queen.

    and now all these queen’s horses and all the kingkong’s men are trying to put lambino’s humpty dumpty together again, and you call that undergoing “usual process”?

    hmm, can’t you smell rotten eggs here?

  17. justice league

    Rego,

    I can at least remember one who didn’t want to stay in power. And that was former Pres. Cory. The present Charter didn’t bar her from running again. Of course there can be a gamut of reasons why she should not consider running again but she plainly did not want to run again.

    THe so called “People’s Initiative” mandated that a Con Ass was to be called for in about 2 months after ratification.

    And we know what the Supreme Court called the so called “People’s Initiative”!

    So to view present attempts for a Con Ass as a rush or to view it with fear shouldn’t be considered as “praningy”.

  18. rego

    justice league,

    I believe that the original plan for cory is to give way to VP Doy Laurel. But she did not do it. Di kaya nasarapan din sya sa pwesto?

  1. comment from edwin lacierda and a citation in manolo’s blog (no, it’s not a traffic ticket, it’s like… someone who matters, read you that day :) « notes of marichu c. lambino

    […] […] caffeine sparks on Viktor Sumsky. Newsstand on the little school that could. Maureen Lycaon on Borneo treeshrews. Marichu Lambino goes the whole hog on disclosures (but rightly so, this is why you can view my CV). […] Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Gang Bang – November 30th, 2006 at 1:17 am   […]

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