The papers all headlined the surgery that the President’s husband underwent, which by all accounts was a serious (and for now, successful) operation, indeed. Loyalists rallied around the President while her (and his) critics declared a ceasefire. For details on what happened to him, read this article from MedLine Plus and from the Mayo Clinic, and take a look at the nifty pictures in Wikipedia.
The ailment of Atty. Arroyo has temporarily sidelined media’s focus on the second leg, leading to the home stretch, of the local and national elections in May. The bone of contention is the latest SWS Survey on voter preferences both nationally and locally:
Even Billy Esposo (an administration critic) is surprised at the relative strength of voters’ opposition inclinations, at least in Luzon. Yet this seems to me a case of the surveys validating what the political pros have been saying all along. If you recall, my January 22 entry pointed out that administration people were aware local races were going to be affected by the issue of the President.
Still, what’s emerging is that the political landscape is changing, and old assumptions are being reexamined by the political pros.
My Inquirer Current entry for last night focuses on some quite interesting analyses of recent surveys, and what they mean. Things are a-changing. Even the old certainties about command votes, as John Nery pointed out in the same blog, may be up for reexamination (though old habits and assumptions die hard).
An Inquirer editorial last week pointed out the flaws in the Palace’s claims its machinery would steamroll the path to victory; the editorial for today points to an ongoing series by Winston Marbella (see part 1 on how campaigns are changing and part 2 on surveys) and thinks there are signs the electorate is getting more discriminating (I’m not sure if “maturity” is the right word).
A PCIJ Special Report on the politics of Cebu illustrates part of what’s going on. I remember reading ages ago, that President Osmeña (who married wealthy women twice), whenever a political campaign would come up, would dispose of a hacienda: that was how his generation financed campaigns unless there were wealthy supporters willing to bankroll the campaign, and even then, many candidates had to basically permanently mortgage their land to finance their political activities. The result was that for a great number of his generation’s politicians, politics was a sure path to liquidating the very basis of their status: ownership of land. It never occurred to President Osmeña or many of his peers to add to their land, which is why so many of the previously politically-prominent ended up out of politics by the 2nd or 3rd generation, when their already diminished landholdings were wiped out by selling them for campaigns or through inheritance. Others got out of politics to end the financial hemorrhage (the Laurels, I believe, are a good example of this). The rest that remained in politics either turned their back on the old ways and aggressively embarked on building up new landholdings or diversifying into other industries. The PCIJ report describes the other means for acquiring, and maintaining, political power resorted to by a new class of politicians from the professional classes without extensive holdings in land.
A commentary on a proposal for constitutional changes in South Korea.
Regarding the blogosphere, The Guardian has an interesting story on a 7-point proposal by some Web Gurus to restore civility to blog discussions:
Point one of the code is that anyone signing up to it would commit themselves to a “civility enforced” standard to remove unacceptable comments from their blog.
Unacceptable is defined as content that is used to abuse, harass, stalk or threaten others; is libellous or misrepresentative; or infringes copyright, confidentiality or privacy rights. Anonymous postings are also to be removed, with every comment requiring a recognised email address, even if posts are made under pseudonyms.
Point six encourages bloggers to ignore “trolls” making nasty comments that fall short of abuse or libel. “Never wrestle with a pig,” is the advice. “You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.”
To back up the code, they propose a “civility enforced” badge marking sites which subscribe to the guidelines, and an “anything goes” badge to denote those that do not. The proposed guidelines can be interactively amended by web users, until a final version is agreed.
The battles in the blogosphere may irritate some, but apparently appeal to many others. Open Culture offers its take on how newspapers are finding it difficult to compete with media outfits that make no pretenses to being objective – and it’s defiance towards old journalism standards that often fuels the intense online debates that end up messy.
In Tingog.com there’s his take on the senate race.
The Asia Foundation Blog has a piece on that corruption survey regarding the Philippines. Then laurgism.com explains why the blogger wants to leave the country, pronto. I have to agree with this commenter, and it suggests to me why some people not only thrive abroad, but need to go abroad: the country is too small for their talents or ambitions. A recent entry in The Ignatian Perspective makes for relevant reading for Filipinos eager to escape the country.
And learn English through free podcasts.