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Oct 10

Impeachment as a game

That’s the title of an entry in [email protected] Holdings who says,

The degradation of trust on the impeachment process began, ironically, in 2001, when the Estrada impeachment trial was held hostage by the prosecutors (who walked out of the proceedings and then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr doing nothing to call them back). After the euphoria of EDSA 2/power grab (whatever you call it), the Filipino people have realized that taking shortcuts won’t work. And scheming politicians also learned a lesson, ironically from the so-called Craven 11: impeachment is just a numbers game. And these scheming politicians learned this lesson by heart, and now impeachment is just that – a game.

A similar point is made in today’s Inquirer editorial. Of course a solution was identified some time back: Solon proposes House inquiry instead of impeachment.

Are reports of the ruling coalition’s breakup grossly exaggerated? Yes, if accounts of yesterday’s emergency luncheon at the Palace are to be believed: Arroyo, De Venecia: Our coalition won’t break. A media friend who’s a reporter called me recently to exchange scuttlebutt and mentioned, in passing, surprise that despite the Palace-House tensions, the Speaker was on hand at the airport to greet the President as she arrived back home from India.

“Listen,” I told my reporter-friend in jest, “even at the last moment, as they haul away the stretcher bearing the President’s body, the Speaker would be by her side expressing his bereavement, while sticking the cyanide capsule in her mouth.”

One thing is obvious, the President is incapable of appreciating irony. Essentially she reenacted Dinky Soliman’s swan song in her administration, reprising that let’s hold on together song. The parting words of the protagonists are superficially reassuring:

After a Cabinet meeting, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno insisted that Ms Arroyo and De Venecia continued to have good relations and that he, too, shared the same ties with the Speaker.

“We’re on the best of terms. You will remove the Speaker over my dead body,” Puno said.

At the luncheon meeting, someone mentioned “in passing” the impeachment complaint and the President “effectively belied any knowledge” of Malacañang having a hand in it, Gonzales said.

But is it all hugs and kisses on the Lakas-Kampi front? How does the public, as spectators, separate lies from bullshit and spin? Manuel Buencamino refers to Harry Frankfurter’s essay, “On bullshit,” and gives real-life examples that differentiate between the three:

Reacting to Joey de Venecia’s “back off!” story, former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos said, “It’s a big lie. There was no such meeting. Why don’t you ask Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza if there was such a meeting?”

Here’s why the denial of Abalos is bullshit:

Mike Arroyo admitted there was such a meeting in Wack Wack.

Now here’s Mike Arroyo’s lawyer lying about that Wack Wack meeting, using 77 words to conceal two words: “Back off!”

“Mr. Arroyo had gone to Wack Wack that day simply to play golf when the young de Venecia arrived and sat beside Secretary Larry Mendoza. Mr. Arroyo overheard the young de Venecia following up his project proposal with Secretary Mendoza. . . . De Venecia continued to follow up his project proposal to Mendoza, prompting Mr. Arroyo to remind the young de Venecia that he cannot be involved in any government transaction because he is the son of the Speaker,” said lawyer Jess Santos.

Here’s Mike Arroyo mixing two parts bullshit and one part Jess Santos:

“I never said to him, ‘Back off.’ That is not even in my vocabulary. . . I never pointed a finger at Joey de Venecia. I only met him there, how can I do that? . . . What I did is that I reminded him that he might be guilty, he might be liable under the antigraft law because he’s the son of the Speaker, he cannot, he cannot deal with government contracts.”

That was Mike Arroyo’s statement upon arrival from his long-planned sudden trip to Europe.

Why do people with unlimited resources bullshit and lie when they can afford to buy spin?

For those unfamiliar with the term “spin”, Wikipedia says it is “a heavily biased portrayal in one’s own favor of an event or situation.”

Let’s go back to the story of Attorney Santos and add a paragraph to modify it:

“The young de Venecia responded by thrusting his face at Mr. Arroyo, explaining the AHI bid in a rude and loud manner. The young de Venecia’s behavior, especially since it was the first time he met my client, startled Mr. Arroyo, prompting him to point his finger and exclaim, “Back off, please!”

Voila! We transformed a lie into spin. We even placed “back off” in a favorable light.

If Attorney Santos used our spin, Mike Arroyo’s arrival statement could have been less defensive and more masculine:

“Of course, I told him to back off. It’s the first time I met the guy and he shoved his face right up mine… Coño! Que mal educado! He’s lucky I didn’t hit him!”

Still, the fighting continues on multiple fronts. Burgos family to test writ of amparo. Even as Senate subpoenas Cabinet papers on NBN-ZTE deal, the Palace won’t give Senate NEDA records on NBN. How and why this will end up in the Supreme Court, is explained by Senator Manuel Roxas II in the Business Mirror story:

“I have consulted the lawyers on this,” he said in an interview. “What they says is that it has not yet ripened to a so-called justiciable issue” that should be brought to the Supreme Court, meaning the issues have not been joined. “But eventually, it will get there.”

Roxas explained that there must first be a rejection by the Senate investigating committee “on a vote that we see the invocation [of executive
privilege] as improper, or the invocation here deals with matters not subject to what executive privilege can legally or properly be applied to. Once the issues are joined we can now go to the Supreme Court.”

Having been a former executive department official, Roxas conceded that “Cabinet members must be free to discuss policy decisions and not be afraid that whatever they say there may be broadcast outside; that is the essence of executive privilege.” But he also argued that “it is one thing to discuss policy . . . it is another thing to be discussing a bribery attempt; I think that is where the issue will be decided upon, what is covered by, and the proper use of executive privilege.”

Not to mention GMA bent on pushing cyber ed although

Incidentally, Neal Cruz indulges in satirical writing today.

And in the Ugh Department: 87 percent of e-mails from RP spam.

And on a sober note, Juan Mercado on Burma. Also, Jeremy Wagstaff on The Real, Sad Lesson of Burma 2007. And The new totalitarians: Burma and the rebirth of a terrible idea as pointed out by Newsstand.

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57 comments

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  1. inodoro ni emilie

    good for you mlq3 that teddy boy nipped you away from writing about food.

    “i should’ve become a tax lawyer.”

    naay, then that make you the taxxy lawyer. enuf of this kind.

  2. pete

    mlq3,

    Thanks for sharing with us a part of you as a writer. The title of your column at the Inquirer is “The Long View”. It implies that the writer has foresight, the capacity to ‘see’ the future and the past. Have you foreseen yourself doing what your doing now? Being depended on by people to explain to them about things that are not easy for them to understand? And being driven by a sense of urgency and heroism to try do more than mere mortals could?

    You are recognized not only as good (understated) writer but a very influential thinker at a time in our history when the future of our nation is in peril. What is the source of your hope, that you can share with us, that our nation and our people can get through these trying times a better nation and a better people?

  3. mlq3

    pete, that’s a tough question, the kind that requires a manifesto. but since it’s a holiday…

    i think it’s pretty simple, really. i’ve spent much of my life rebeling against things, whether expectations, rules, reality, name it and i’ve either tried it or attempted to avoid it, run away from it, or fight it. not on a grand scale, but on a small scale which is what all our lives amount to anyway: little battle against little things but each of those battles is as supreme for the one fighting it as world war 2 was, say, for the british or the russians.

    i’ve gotten a lot of chances in my life and the sum total of chances seems to be more than the opportunities i refused to take, wasted, screwed up, or embraced. this taught me a few things. first, people are kind. second, there are some real assholes in this world. third, most of us can be one of the other but are somewhere in the middle most of the time.

    i’ve gotten my breaks and usually the breaks were given me by people who saw potential and decided i wasn’t a total loss as a person. even when there have been many more who will judge you according to superficial standards, there will always be those who will pause and say no, wait, maybe this person is different. let’s see.

    whether or not their giving me a break was worth it is beside the point. the opportunities were given, the goodness of these people might have been temporary, inconsequential, but there you have it.

    that’s us, that’s we, the filipinos. that’s you and me. my task is to write and think and try to share what i write and happen to be thinking about, the same way the singer shares her voice, the composer his tunes, the nurse her caregiving, the doctor his surgical skills, the farmer his knowing how to keep the rice growing, the bus driver to go from a to b and back again over and over and the garbage collector doing something no one else in their right mind will do but he’ll do it because that’s all he can do, for now.

    we’re a good nation. we’re a good people. we have a great, even glorious history even if we don’t want to see it. we have our mistakes but we have our achievements and we are changing as we should… there is a colossal amount of achievement taking place all over, and over and over. the bank teller you encounter may have been a male prostitute to send himself to college, the beggar employed by a syndicate might have once been a school teacher but circumstances defeated her chances and dragged her back down, the inmate may be innocent but awaiting a chance to get bail two years and counting now, you know these stories as well as i do because these are the stories we know: just as i know the employer turning prematurely grey because officials are extorting money yet he sees no other choice rather than having a hundred employees laid off and on his conscience because he could blow the whistle but their would be repercussions -not to him, because he could abroad, but to his employees, who would end up fired.

    you say very kind things, pete, but i guess this is all i know what to do, and i’m trying to do it well enough while keeping myself happy, too. and because i happen to really believe i owe it to people (and myself) to keep doing what i do.

    except from time to time i get really, really pissed off at the assholes out there and specially so, when i realize i’ve done my fair share of being an asshole. until someone takes the time out to reach out and remind me there’s another way.

    what’s the way? i haven’t quite figured it out. but maybe someone else will, if i can do my bit to help think things through.

  4. ramrod

    mlq3,

    I really appreciate your candor, I myself am a frustrated writer. I really liked writing in my younger days, essays, technical, yes, even speeches both mine and for others. Unfortunately, life necessitated that I take detour to sales and marketing as a matter of survival. But what do you know? I find this blog of yours…Its a haven for “frustrated” writers like me though I am rather old for this crowd and my writing skills are rusty, I am an amateur among great minds. But I’m learning as I go along…

  5. justice league

    We were taught about “spin” in defense class.

    Spin is obviously a useful method since it itself can be offense.

    Our professor taught us several issues on spin.

    One is that it should be done at an opportune occasion. Otherwise you’re only likely to either amuse or aggitate the other party.

    Spin involves “direction” so make sure you spin according to a correct one. Otherwise instead of deflecting an “argument” to the side; you might end up facing it head-on.

    When you spin; be fast/quick about it. So the other party doesn’t realize you are spinning or has little time to react against it till you hit him with your “argument”.

    And when you do spin; place some weight (yours, his, or both) so when you deliver the body, limb, head, or anything else of your argument to other party; you might just be able to finish the entire argument right then and there.

    Unfortunately I never did take up Martial Arts full-time.

    But now to be serious; I think Bong Austero’s “Open letter” should be read alongside his own dissertation on the “Checkpoint” issue(when his vehicle got flagged down)to determine the sincerity of it.

  6. Phil Cruz

    MAV,

    Thank you for that link about Puno. That article written by Mr. Adolfo Paglinawan says it all. All I could remember about Puno was that he worked in the dark. And that he worked for several presidents with election as his specialty.

    But that article by Mr. Paglinawan says a lot more about this political operator.

    JDV should certainly watch his back. Even Gloria, too.

  7. Ian

    wahahahha…mga taong mahilig sa politika, parea sa kurakot, wahahahhaha dapat dian mawala wahahahah

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