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Jun 07

An abnormal return to normality

A thoughtful Manila Times editorial on the kick-off for the centennial year of the {“hard workig,” Ricky Carandang calls it) House, wondered what the Speaker would say at the banquet marking the adjournment of the House of the 13th Congress. The Speaker, taking a cue from the President who lavished praise on the House and gave every sign of wanting to continue their partnership, obliged by saying it will be Charter Change, Part 2.

I was at the Batasan to listen to the President’s speech (our book on the 100 year history of the House was launched there). I was hoping, against hope, to hear clear indications she was preparing to bow out from office in 2010. The signs that she’s thinking of doing that were ambiguous, at best. She did try to sound conciliatory -even to the point of irony- by praising civic and church groups that conducted quick counts and foiled fraud, by praising the armed forces whose rank and file disobeyed orders to vote 12-0, by calling for magnanimity when it isn’t hers to give, and by saying the booming stock market and the good 1st quarter are signs of God’s will.

Besides pleasure in seeing our book launched, it was worth it to be at the Batasan to be able to shake the hand of Rep. Crispin Beltran, finally released from detention and able to do his work. A relevant reflection is in the blog of The Philippine Experience.

My column yesterday was A way forward. I wrote it in an optimistic frame of mind; I’m less optimistic after hearing the President’s speech and reading the Speaker’s banquet remarks.

Two relevant Inquirer editorials: Mandate for change, on the implications of the massive administration senatorial defeat, and The decider, on the absurdity of proclaiming a failure of elections in Maguindanao.

In the PCIJ, my analysis of the 2007 elections was published yesterday, too: An Abnormal Return to Normality, I titled it. This is because the 2007 midterms marks, in a sense, a return to where we last were in 1995, when the last mid-terms were held. The 2001 elections should have been mid-terms but became, instead, a referendum not on the incumbent, but on his ouster. In that sense 1995-2005 became a decade of political turbulence: the strong showing of FVR’s candidates in 1995 gave him the confidence to propose the extension of his term, contributing in turn to the public backlash that Estrada’s election represented and the middle- and upper-class backlash against his mandate culminating in impeachment and Edsa Dos, which triggered Edsa Tres, which resulted in the President breaking her promise not to run, and who sought a victory at all costs, etc.

The 2007 elections were in many ways, a validation of our past political history (administrations never lose the House; but an administration’s popular acceptability is best measured by the Senate results); and a repudiation of the President’s past achievements: recall she contested, and won, two senatorial races under her administration, in 2001 and 2004; her defeat in this year’s senate race must be compared to her past victories.

Thanks to Tingog.com for the capsule review of my article in his blog.

Incidentally I ran into defeated senatorial candidate John Osmena, and asked him what he intended to do. He says he is going to take up political blogging. Should make for interesting reading.

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128 comments

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  1. camry

    The law PD 1638 took effect during FM’s time.

    I believed it is about time to revise it.

  2. UP n student

    cvj: What do you find objectionable about Milton Friedman? After all, it is he who said:

    — Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.
    OR
    —Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own.

    And you’ll probably say this one applies to the statesmanship of GMA:
    –One man’s opportunism is another man’s statesmanship.

  3. UP n student

    Vic: For the Philippines, anyone who has taken citizenship in the US or Canada or France or any other country is automatically assumed to have renounced Philippine citizenship. So if Ana-de-France is already a French or Brit citizen, then she can not vote against GMA (nor possess a valid Philippine passport) unless she raises her right hand again to swear allegiance to Pinas.

  4. UP n student

    cvj: as for Ayn Rand, quotes attributable to her include:

    • The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.

    • There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.

    • A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

    • Competition is a by-product of productive work, not its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

    And from the Fountainhead this sentence:
    . Don’t work for my happiness, my brothers- show me yours. (Show me your happiness!!) Show me that it is possible. Show me your achievement, and the knowledge will give me the courage for mine.

  5. vic

    UPn,
    Then if I’m a retired AFP personnel, then all I have to do is raised my right hand and swear allegiance to the Flag again, not for any other reason, but to avail of the money that I contributed to my retirement pension in the first place. Now why would such a law, such as that, that serves no purpose and can easily be defeated by its intended target stood by and upheld by the High Court?

    I can not argue the spirit of law as applied by other jurisdictions, but to look at the fairness of law as applied, that still stinks. That even the courts award for civil suit against the defendant can not garnish a pension or retirement of an individual to satisfy that judgement. That a retirement pensions and benefit are foe the retiree to enjoy, wherever the choose to spend the rest of their lives?

    I hope the SC judges would realize their own follies if someday they have to leave the country, not of their own choice and have their retirement pensions and benefits forfeited, and unless they already have lots of money deposited in foreign accounts, they may have to go back to the workforce…

  6. UP n student

    Vic: That is exactly what the Philippine Supreme Court said — if the complainant raises his right hand to re-acquire Philippine citizenship, then the complainant can again receive his monthly pension.

  7. Amadeo

    UP n student :
    Vic: For the Philippines, anyone who has taken citizenship in the US or Canada or France or any other country is automatically assumed to have renounced Philippine citizenship. So if Ana-de-France is already a French or Brit citizen, then she can not vote against GMA (nor possess a valid Philippine passport) unless she raises her right hand again to swear allegiance to Pinas.

    Not necessarily. Because if one becomes naturalized in another country after the passage of R. A. 9225, a natural-born Filipino is deemed not to have lost his/her citizenship. Thus, no need to re-acquire. He/she assumes dual citizenship automatically.

  8. UP n student

    Amadeo: Gotcha… thanks! But I think Ana-de-France, like Abe and Bencard, fled from the Marcos-regime, so the Philippines probably “disowned” her when she acquired a different citizenship.

  9. Manila Bay Watch

    UP Student,

    Wrong! Absolutely wrong on all counts. Dream on.

  10. Jeg

    UPn: Dwelling on injustice can hamper your efforts to achieve great things.

    I may have missed the memo but isnt the elimination of injustice a great thing?

    Benign0:Does the average Pinoy respect the rule of law?

    Yes.

  11. UP n student

    Jeg: If you had spent P500,000 in lawyer-fees and other expenses in a battle with a cousin who swindled you out of P100,000, your desire to correct an injustice may have hampered your trek to better things.

    Manila Bay Watch : I don’t know ‘Manila Bay’ so I don’t know if my being wrong is over opinion (Ayn Rand?) or over fact (citizenship?).

  12. Mike

    UPn,

    Your attitude is shared by many people…which is why it took 20 years to oust Marcos. Or perhaps you think we shouldn’t have bothered with that either?

  13. cvj

    UPn Student, i still respect Milton Friedman but i think he is too biased in favor of the free market. As for Ayn Rand, the problem is that her ideas breed the likes of Ringer and Tim Yap.

  14. cvj

    Sometimes, a net loss for the individual results in a net gain to the system. In your example to Jeg…

    If you had spent P500,000 in lawyer-fees and other expenses in a battle with a cousin who swindled you out of P100,000, your desire to correct an injustice may have hampered your trek to better things. – UPn Student

    …it is true that the person who spent the 500K lawyers fees may have suffered a net loss. However, to the extent that the cousin is brought to justice, it will serve as a lesson to all would-be swindlers (who cannot count on the other party making a simple cost-benefit calculation). We can consider the person who spent 500K to accomplish this as a net contributor to the over-all system i.e. a hero of sorts.

    Under Ayn Rand’s framework, the above dynamic is missed out.

  15. tonio

    okay… it’s too late to get in on this debate. but one thing:

    let’s not get down to personal assaults. it’s not good. ad hominems will get us nowhere. granted, i am guilty of them on occasion, but discussions move forward when the issues are tackled, not by “tackling” the people who say them.

  16. UP n student

    cvj… ahhh, the sweet smell of OPM… other people’s money.

    I suppose you really may be willing to encourage MLQ3 or Schumey to lose P400k (P500K less P100K) of their inheritance or savings in order to send a lesson to future swindlers.

  17. UP n student

    Of course, the reference to OPM is an assumption on my part. Now when you choose to spend your money on the social cause of your choice, more power to you.

  18. Jeg

    Again I missed the memo about justice having a monetary value, UPn. Maybe when our lawmakers figure out how much a human life is worth, we could come up with a law on ‘blood money’ like they do in the Middle East.

    your desire to correct an injustice may have hampered your trek to better things.

    ‘Better’ is a relative thing. But eliminating injustice is a great thing, wouldnt you agree? It’s tough job, but somebody has to do it. And yes, theyre called heroes.

  19. Jon Mariano

    If you only think in numbers then you lose 400k, but if getting justice and helping the society makes you happy, then that joy you get is worth 400k! If you have 400m in the bank that wouldn’t be too heavy but not for the ordinary man.

  20. cvj

    I suppose you really may be willing to encourage MLQ3 or Schumey to lose P400k (P500K less P100K) of their inheritance or savings in order to send a lesson to future swindlers. – UPn Student

    The good thing is, there are people who do not need such encouragement. We do not have to look further than Capt. Faeldon or Lt. Trillanes. Rather than make a personal cost-benefit analysis, they are willing to take on a larger share of the costs to set things right. Psychological studies indicate that such a predisposition towards fairness is hard-wired in [certain] people.

  21. UP n student

    cvj: As I said earlier, as you spend your time and money on the social cause of your choice, more power to you.

    Now some people will work, others will panhandle, and others will take to thuggery to raise funds to correct the injustices that they sense. “Yes” to generosity and hard work; just do not do, and do not encourage, thuggery.

  22. cvj

    UPn Student, thuggery and apathy reinforce each other. So those who encourage the second are the ones who (perhaps unwittingly) encourage the first.

  23. UP n student

    cvj: I sincerely recommend for you to walk away when your lawyer asks for P500K to get back P100K from your cousin. Whether your lawyer may be an Abe on the same side of the fence on GMA/Garci or a Bencard on the other side, hang onto your money. Then, peel away P200K, head to Philippine Normal College, and tell the dean to use the money to fund the college education of 2 or 3 teachers. Or you may go to Hospicio de San Jose and give them the P200K. I dare say that even if your cousin sneers at you for lack of backbone and leaving him the P100K he stole, the world still is better off with the scenario I painted above.
    Pick the wrong solution to an injustice, and the world may be a sorrier place.

  24. UP n student

    And if you really… really… really… need to make your cousin pay with a pound of flesh the injustice he brought upon you, then a dos-por-dos strike to the knee (only to the knee)will be quite efficient. I do warn… pick your action carefully as the wrong solution to a perceived injustice may leave the world a sorrier place.

  25. UP n student

    Hey, cvj!!! Do you really know another person who will spend P500K to get back P100K to correct an injustice? Then here is a scenario where you can help your HERO be a hero. You find a good-swindler (you’ll see what “good” means in a minute) who gets the P100K. Then you sign up an anti-GMA lawyer like bystander to be a good lawyer (“good” in a minute, and might as well help fellow anti-GMA’s, right??).
    Now you get HERO to give you the P500K, then :
    — You give bystander P100K for using his name.
    — You tell the “good-swindler” to return the P100K (to you); you then give him P120K.
    — You give HERO P150K and tell him that you with your lawyer was able to collect the P100K and in addition, the “good swindler” is very sorry and is providing P50K as a sign of repentance.
    — You give HERO an additional P50K because bystander is an honorable lawyer who lowered his fee.
    — You spend P20K to get good press for your friend-the-hero who had corrected an injustice with cost no object. [Do not scrimp on this publicity. HERO deserves it. But that the P100K became P150K should not be publicized.]
    — There is a final step. You may be tempted to skip this, but I strongly recommend that you give P80K to Hospicio de San Jose as an offering so that you get to know more HEROs in the future.

    Net-Net, everyone should be happy because of HEROes:
    (a) HERO is a hero who corrected an injustice. In addition, he got the original P100K back, along with a P50K rebate from a good lawyer and a separate P50K from a repentant good swindler.
    (b) Bystander gets P100K.
    (c) Repentant good-swindler gets P120K.
    (c) Hospicio de San Jose gets P80K; P20K goes to “press/publicity”.
    (d) I think there is a balance, which becomes your reward for creating the opportunity for the HERO you know to be a hero.

  26. cvj

    UPn, thanks for the advice. I appreciate that the world would be a more predictable (if not necessarily a better) place if everyone made the same sort of rational monetary cost-benefit calculations as you did.

  27. UP n student

    cvj: To remember, this began with the Ringer-quote: “Dwelling on injustice can hamper your efforts to achieve great things.”
    I sense that you (and Jeg and Mike) may have mis-read the quote. “Dwelling on injustice can…” is not the same as “Dwelling on injustice always…..(hampers your efforts to achieve great things)”.
    The other item to consider, given the many types of lazy/shady/crooked… speaks-with-forked-tongue talks-from-both-sides-of-their-mouth people in this world, is that an “injustice-cause”, like a campaign slogan, can be a con-job in disguise.

  28. UP n student

    Hollywood people quotes:

    I love romance. I’m a sucker for it. I love it so much. It’s pathetic.
    Drew Barrymore

    It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.
    W. C. Fields

    If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.
    Paul Newman

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