Panfilo Lacson;s brought the “Hello, Garci” issue back to center stage: ‘I heard Arroyo, Garci talk,’ says ex-sergeant: She asked about 1-M votes, claims ex-ISAFP agent. See Ellen Tordesillas and An OFW in Hong Kong for more.
I believe Dean Jorge Bocobo was the first to argue that the real story -and scandal- all along, boils down to a question: how could the President of the Philippines end up with a tapped phone? Senator Lacson seems to be inclined to pursue that question, trotting out Doble, who says the intelligence service could tap people, with the connivance of a telecoms firm. Doble says the President was, in a sense, “collateral damage.”
DJB may be right in that, if you ask how a President could be the victim of wiretapping, it establishes that wiretapping took place; you would then have to resolve whether what was wiretapped -the conversations- are useful for other cases, along the way verifying the authenticity of those conversations.
Who knows, maybe Ping and Pong are better-prepared this time around. The Senate, convened as a committee of the whole, has a chance to hold orderly but in-depth hearings, which can ask:
1. Who ordered the so-called “Operation Lighthouse”? For what purpose? Who decided it should be undertaken by the ISAFP?
2. On what basis did ISAFP conduct its eavesdropping operations, and how, and to what extent, and on what legal basis, did the telecoms company assist ISAFP?
3. How did ISAFP’s tapes end up being sold?
4. The President implicitly confirmed the authenticity of at least one event supposedly recorded in the tapes. What is the legal implication of this admission? At which point, if any, did she break, bend, or mishandle the law? Even if a victim of the wiretapping, what if she had authorized the operations in the first place, in aid of reelection?
Certainly, there’s plenty of opportunities afforded by these questions, for investigations in aid of legislation, much as I disagree with this limitation on Congress’ powers of inquiry, which I’ve long argued we already approach from a Wilsonian point of view, and it’s time our jurisprudence caught up. They are questions independent of the stand some like myself have taken with regards to the President’s fitness for office: as I explained at the time, what mattered less was what the tapes contained, but how the President (mis)handled the issue. These questions, in the time that’s passed since, goes beyond the President’s being in office or not, or whether the public is resigned to her finishing her term (I believe public opinion is inclined to let sleeping dogs lie). But whoever is president and will become president, has to worry about the possibility the ISAFP can run around wiretapping people, from the President to has-been movie actors.
Jove Francisco reports on how the President didn’t sound combative even when she insisted combat operations will continue in Sulu and Basilan.
Overseas, Paulson says no quick fix for credit problems. He’s the US Treasury Secretary; and so Wall St. remained on edge. Meanwhile, Chinese central bank raises interest rates, pointing to concerns over higher inflation. Economist Nouriel Roubini explains why “the Fed actions on Friday have been so far ineffective and the investors’ panic and rush to the safety is in full swing”.
On the other hand, guarded optimism from The Economist about the country in The Jeepney economy revs up. Its cautionary tone is explained as follows:
All good news, but worries remain. However welcome the growth in call-centre jobs, it is engineering and business graduates who are queueing to take them. A recent International Labour Organisation study noted that the country’s average annual productivity growth between 2000 and 2005 was just 0.9%, compared with 10.3% in China and 4.9% in India, suggesting that “many new job entrants are underemployed”.
A chief problem, despite foreign interest, is a rate of investment that is at 20-year lows as a share of GDP. Poor infrastructure, especially roads, hampers businesses of all sorts. Gil Beltran, a senior finance-ministry official, says the government intends to increase annual infrastructure spending from 2.8% of GDP to 5%. Successive administrations have had a poor record of keeping such promises.
The public finances still need a lot of fixing. Tax revenues as a share of GDP are still below pre-1997 levels, while public debt is high, at around 75% of GDP. The next big job, says Mr Beltran, is to simplify the mess of illogical tax breaks that cost a fortune in lost revenues. Efforts to drag big-business tax-dodgers to court have so far got nowhere. A swingeing tax rise on Jeepney owners looks like squeezing the poor to spare the rich.
The Inquirer editorial says former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa was wrong in suggesting finding out who ordered Ninoy Aquino killed is a lost cause. A fascinating comparison of Beijing in the 70s, 80s, and now, in Haggling and horror at Tiananmen.
A whole heap of interesting reading in the blogosphere. A heart-breaking entry in fish in a bowl, on a friend’s losing a daughter.
Iloilo City Boy is back to blogging, and has two insightful pieces: the first is Oil Spills Are Cheap In This Country : The Petron Oil Spill A Year After. The second, The New Hacendero.
Iloilo City Boy’s look at how landlord-tenant relationships are evolving in Negros serves as a reminder of how things on the ground are changing, ot necessarily for better or worse, but changing -this is something that caffeine sparks looks into, in terms of the OFW phenomenon, with its complex issues. The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile provides a thorough update on the debate sparked by Malu Fernandez’s writings, but caffeine sparks provides the broader context on OFWs and how they are increasingly flexing their political muscles. Incidentally, baratillo@cubao points to another writer in trouble.
The language debates has a thoughtful piece by A Nagueno in the Blogosphere (who thinks regions should be allowed to formulate their own education policies, an advocacy I strongly support, and this means greater latitude when it comes to language policies), and Demosthenes’ Game (who does make a good point that there are probably those who oppose English instruction because it goes against the interests of the politburo, which is interested in filtering ideologically-inconvenient information) making an observation I find curious:
Which is something we’ve been doing here for ages, voting with our feet I mean. After all, no private school here can remain in business very long without giving English pre-eminent position in its curriculum. No, the issue here is the failure of our so-called democracy for the past two decades to heed the will of the people, instead paying obeisance to the all-knowing ‘nationalist’ academicians of our cultural politburo. Look where that got us. Only now is the situation being rectified, and none too soon. No, the issue was never which was the better curriculum. The issue was always about choice. And that those who had none should have the same as those who could, and did, vote with their feet.
What I find curious is that if you ask the owners and administrators of public schools, their problem is that people are voting with their feet -but not in the direction Demosthenes’ Game assumes. Generally, the problems I most often hear, are three:
1. Private schools are hemorrhaging faculty to the public schools, which now offer, at the very least, competitive salaries and in some areas, better salaries than private schools.
2. Private schools are also experiencing a decrease in enrollment. Parents are taking their kids out of the private schools and sending them to public schools. In some areas, it’s because substantial investments have been made by local authorities in the public school system, which then becomes competitive, but in other areas, the public school system has been expanded, is mediocre at best, but exists, and that’s all that matters; in these areas, parents move their kids from private to public school because it’s much less expensive for the parents, regardless of the quality (or lack of it) of the education being provided. The drop in enrollment is being experienced both by establish private schools (belonging to the religious orders, for example) and the increasing number of small private schools.
3. Whether public or private, school administrators face pressure from parents to pass the kids, regardless of whether they’re qualified to move on to the next level or not; for private schools, the pressure is to keep moving kids along from one level to the next, to keep parents happy; in public schools, it’s because so many kids are entering school, no one can be made to stay behind: the quota system at its worst.
Red’s Herring reflects on Nick Joaquin and Rizal; Philippine Commentary reflects on Ninoy Aquino and takes Conrado de Quiros to task for not exploring Jovito Salonga’s assertion that the Plaza Miranda bombing was ordered by Jose Ma. Sison. Big Mango offers up some thoughts on political parties.