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Oct 15

Return of the scheme

Earlier today, at around 10:51 am, radio station DZMM said that the Palace was set to issue a statement favoring Charter Change today. During the lunchtime news program of Tony Velasquez and Bernadette Sembrano, word is that the President, in a workshop this morning, directed government agencies, particularly the Department of the Interior and Local Governments and the Department of Budget and Management, to pursue Charter Change by 2009.

What will make this version of Charter Change different is that it will be focused on Federalism, an original component of the administration’s first Charter Change efforts, but eventually dropped in favor of a focus on a shift to the parliamentary system.

Whether this focus on Federalism is meant to muster local government support, and salve the wounded feelings of original Civil Society allies of the Palace, remains to be seen -just as whether this is an effort to put the President’s imprint on this version in contrast to the parliamentary focus of the Speaker who pushed for the previous effort: after all, having solved the President’s impeachment-related problem for 2007-2008, the Speaker is now dispensable (despite warnings from the Speaker that if he falls, she falls, which he said he told her in a one-on-one meeting Sec. Puno denies every happened; see also Datumanong drafted by Palace to replace JDV? But Newbsreak says, detente is the name of the game).

Anyway, here’s the news: Arroyo renews call for Charter change: Panel formed to draft federalism ‘roadmap’ by 2012. See also Arroyo revives Cha-Cha bid, forms federalism panel (the political opening, of course, would be, such a shift would require some sort of transitional government).

I’m inclined, for now, to treat this as a clumsy effort to deflect attention from the Palace’s dilemma over what to do with Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio. But it would be prudent to place the whole thing within the context of a problem identified in Chinese Money Meets Filipino Politics in Asia Sentinel:

With the president out by 2010, however, her hold may be waning as junior leaders look toward their political futures. There are allegations of other irregularities in Chinese deals and critics may find lots of material to throw at newspaper reporters in an effort to chip away at Arroyo’s credibility, despite the country’s solid economic performance in recent years.

Mon Casple in his blog, says the ruling coalition is also increasingly paranoid:

The real rift between the GMA and the JDV camp threatens the solidity of the ruling coalition–a coalition that weathered the political storm of the past three years.

This is compounded by a lot of factors: among them are the continued political challenges coming from the opposition, the inexorable deadline of the 2010 end-of-GMA-term, the wily play of the presidentiables, the US and Western concern over growing Chinese influence, health problems of key administration players, and the flexing of the military’s political clout.

These factors are leading to a growing perception of a lameduck GMA presidency. This may not yet be the case but it cannot anymore be denied that, if no decisive GMA policy decision on the political crisis is forthcoming, the perception will take hold and influence the decisions of the various key players.

Atty. Pulido’s impeachment complaint–however haphazard it may seem to many–acquires significance beyond its original assessment in the light of this current political reality. Considering the political nature of an impeachment process, a significant coalition of legislators in the lower House can seize and railroad the process (only 80 votes needed for impeachment). They can shortcut the process and give it to the Senate.

Such a possibility spooked Malacañang and hence its attempt to hold the line with the ruling coalition majority. It may entail more concessions to the JDV camp. On the other hand, it may also precipitate an ouster move on him. What is clear is the signs of nervousness (and suspicion) that everyone exhibits when looking at his or her neighbor in the coalition.

Shifting loyalties–such is the stuff of transitions and wind of political change.

As the political class’s attention increasingly focuses on 2010, the Palace has to find ways to keep itself relevant to the political class. An effective way is to keep everyone guessing what the President’s real intentions are concerning 2010 and one way is to keep local government officials and legislators coming back to the trough for regular fattening.

A news item like this one, seems innocent at first, Palace looks to add judiciary in Ledac, but becomes interesting in light of what the President is poised to do next year: enjoy the opportunity to appoint a new Civil Service Commissioner, new Commission on Audit Chairman, several Supreme Court justices, etc. An institutional means to circle the wagons over the next couple of years has just been floated.

Gov. Panlilio’s revelation last week was that after a Palace meeting, he was given half a million pesos in cash. Bulacan Gov. Jonjon Mendoza confirms the account of the Gov. of Pampanga. Their accounts go in the face of denials or conflicting testimony from everyone else who was at the same meeting. An earlier meeting involving congressmen, has led to conflicting accounts, too: Cash gift ‘standard’–House leader: This is when we’ve done something good, he says and Two more congressmen admit receiving Palace ‘cash gifts’. Now the congressional dole outs may have had impeachment immunization in mind (see GMA gets ‘immunized’) but the local government dole outs make sense not only with the baranggay elections but also Charter Change in mind, too.

Gov. Panlilio’s initial response was pastoral, not legal: to take the money and place it in the provincial treasury and use it for good works. But then he seems to have realized that what is pastoral (therefore, moral) is not necessarily legal. Also, considering he’s a reformist governor, it’s a political opening for his critics: Kampi mayor to Gov Ed: Why did you take the money?. So the Governor has said he intends to ask why he was given money without the required voucher, and if Palace can’t explain why he’ll return the money: Panlilio to Palace: Where did P500,000 come from?.

Meanwhile, Neda firm on keeping NBN papers. Konfrontasi with the Senate continues.

Even as Opposition plans to take impeach referral to SC, this is a sensible move: Opposition to boycott impeachment hearings. And this is a long-overdue reform: Noynoy eyes 3-strike rule vs Cabinet appointments.

Economic news: No stopping the peso, closes even higher while Hot money back, Sept. net inflow $38.2M.

Senator Joker Arroyo vigorously justified himself in a piece he demanded be published, and his opinions are shared by Philippine Commentary while criticized by last Sunday’s Inquirer editorial and in a commentary by Amando Doronila today.

In his column, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ discusses what an impeachment is and isn’t:

The whole point of the impeachment process is to save the nation from one who does not deserve to be in office. It is not meant to be an instrument of punishment. Punishment can follow in a criminal proceeding if impeachment succeeds or when the official concerned leaves office.

The constitutional rules for impeachment, however, can be manipulated to make the process achieve the precise opposite of its purpose. It can be manipulated to shield an official from a serious impeachment complaint for one year. And this is easily done. All that is needed is one member of the House who is willing to file or endorse a flimsy complaint. This is what all the current brouhaha is about.

(See Philippine Politics 04 for related materials on impeachment and the Supreme Court’s definition of when a complaint gets initiated.)

Justice Isagani Cruz tackles executive privilege.

Randy David says the legal system hasn’t caught up with public opinion:

Thank heavens not everyone hangs by the thread of unresolved legal issues. In the meantime, there are political closures. The fact that GMA or her husband has not been charged or found guilty of any crime does not negate the certainty that the majority of Filipinos have closed the political book on her. Her consistently negative approval ratings in recent surveys attest to this. The rejection of most of her candidates in the last senatorial election shows this in no uncertain terms. The stunning election to the Senate of the detained young military officer Antonio Trillanes IV, accused of leading a mutiny against her government, confirms this closure. Ms Arroyo governs on the sufferance of a nation still recovering from past upheavals. Everyone awaits her last days in the presidency.

There are moral closures too. No one today, not even its most rabid supporters, thinks of this administration as an emblem of good government or of ethical leadership. Those who still see politics as a contest between the forces of good and evil are in no doubt at all as to which side Ms Arroyo is aligned with. No other administration has been as brazen as this one in giving cash to legislators, election inspectors and bishops.

And there are social closures. After Marcos, no other head of government has earned the resolute distrust of the citizenry as much as GMA. Again, survey after survey expresses this. More than at any other time, distrust permeates the whole political system today because of the way she has run the government. She ought to listen to how ordinary folk talk about her on AM radio. She may not sense this now, but it will be difficult for her not to notice it when she finally leaves public office. She will receive none of the lingering affection and awe that Cory and Erap continue to bask in when they are among ordinary people. No one with any hope of winning will want to be associated with her in any future election. That is social closure.

A truly outstanding entry in Ricelander’s blog, on the relationship between politics, politicians, and issues: read the whole thing.

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285 comments

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  1. ramrod

    rego,

    I may have to go. Long day tomorrow. It was an honor blogging with you.

  2. rego

    “If we look at it simply, a majority of the candidates who won, and at the top of the final list, had “oppose Gloria” as their main platform. No one can argue with success.”

    Ramrod,

    You’re right. That is if you choose to look at it simply. I myself would simply give credit for the pmressive succes of the opposition in the recent election.

    However, its not really thats simple to conclude that majority of the Filipino people hated or repudiated or have that negative feeling or preception of Gloria. Thats the way the opposition and the anti GMA in this blog wanted wanted everybody to be believe. And that is the bone of contention in this blog.

  3. rego

    rego,

    I may have to go. Long day tomorrow. It was an honor blogging with you.
    —————————————
    Thats alright Ramrod , I have to go back to work too. I’ll talk to you more later….Nighty nite1

  4. rego

    Or batsa mag rereply lang ako sa mga comments mo. raed mo na lang when you got the chance.

  5. rego

    Baka kasi mabusy na ako mamaya and till teh rest of the week

  6. rego

    “Yes, I have to agree with you that its not 100% accurate, but at the moment, we have no other tool. Honestly, when they published the SWS Survey results close to or within the campaign period, it could even influence voter decision making, we like to pick a winner.”— ramrod

    —————–

    Im not really against surveys per se. They can be a good tool especially during election period. My concern is the over reliance on the surveys when theer are already existing data that can be used. Dont you think its just a waste of time money and energy. Plus teh fact that the survey can really be manipulated

    What I am really trying to say in my 9:58 am comment is that. There is really no need to conduct survey to analyze the recent senatorial election. Just used the actual data. If the COMELC doesn’t want to relelase that data. then use other office or anything that is already existing. There is the reported number of votes from the election results. The voters list can even be retrieve from the web. There is the National Census office that can provide a more precise number of teh votng population.

    Sometimes I just cannot help thinking that teh reason why the survey companies do not want to use these data is because it is not aligned to the current mood of the active public or even to the interesting picture that they would want to portray.

    Feeling ko rin lang naman yan. I may be wrong…

  7. Bencard

    beancurd,no president gets impeached for going to the bathroom. no one, neither you nor me, can be prosecuted for making “udo” no matter how putrid the smell, unless you do it maybe at the center of asia mall in broad daylight. then you go to the mandaluyong (inside). btw , i didn’t do it this morning. i do it at night, usually.

    shaman, i guess it’s alright to make “educated speculation” but you cannot pronounce somebody “guilty” based on that. neither can you impeach an impeachable official by gossips, rumors or innuendos.

  8. mlq3

    rego, you’re welcome to revisit again and again and again my entries mentioning the various survey results, and how public opinion basically gelled in 2005-2006 with the president’s 25% hard core support, the anti gma comprising 50% but disunited on what they wanted, and the 35% that by its decision not to make decisions served as a buffer force for the president. and how this has remarkably held except that in times of elections, the 50% manages to unite enough to repudiate the president in the senate election.

    your pointing to comelec figures is useless for the reasons you want. comelec figures will only tell you, at best, who people voted for, not why. surveys still have to tell you why people cast their vote for certain candidates. again, the comelec simply can’t or won’t provide the information you want.

    but it is fair to make certain generalizations. that on the whole, the country doesn’t like the president -but that dislike doesn’t translate into protest or direct action for many reasons: a consensus that only constitutiuonal limits will do might be one; another is, the lack of a suitable leader to replace the president; third, the expanding amount of remittances which provides a lifeline for families, independent of what the politicians do or fail to achieve; the willingness of people tolet things be and wait till 2010… etc., etc.

    i’m all for the precision you want, but it can never be as precise as you’d like, because after all, public opinion is what we’re discussing. it can be gaged from observation, from scientifically-processed data, and from analysis. observation says i’ve been in various parts of the country and the supporters of the president tend to be in the minority but very well placed in society. and so forth. the surveys always keep getting released and you can look at the charts and comparisons i’;ve made over the years. these are useful particularly when your comelec figures would be useless in large chunks of mindanao where the cheating took place in the last election, for example.

    another commenter above said you can do simple math, get the number of admin candidates who won and divide by 12 – you get 25%. to me, this would validate my analysis since 2005 that the president enjoys a 25% hard core support base.

  9. Bencard

    survey companies, for the most part, are paid propagandists, spinners par excellence, because with a small fraction of the “people”, they can tell what the whole population thinks. of course, they are not always right (they get eggs on their face most of the time too). let’s just say they are just about as reliable as your average tarot card reader.

  10. Bencard

    mav, wrong! my room is not lonely and i don’t receive “welfare” checks. see how you speculate and make others in your club believe your canard? is this what you people are good at? one of you has accused me of being in pgma’s payroll, now you accuse me of being a welfare recipient?

    you may be as old as i am, for all i care. but how could you have reach your age going through life making wild guesses and treating them as truth? perhaps, one day somebody will knock at your door, flash a badge, put you in handcuffs, because your neighbor THINKS you are a rapist. then you will understand what i am saying here.

  11. rego

    Manolo,

    I believe I have read all your entries in about the surveys. And I agree with your analysis then.

    If you and the rest of anti GMA wanted to take recent election simply as repudiation of Gloria. Thats fine! But for now cannot totally agree with you on that though. I still have a lot of unanswered questions.

  12. mlq3

    rego it’s not a matter of opinion, it’s as close to objective fact as a political event can be. only two other presidents have ever done so badly in a senate race. not as bad as the total defeat of quirino and not as bad as the 7-1 anti marcos vote in 1971, but an 7-2-3 is about as bad (essentially a 9-3 result).

  13. BrianB

    ‘Finally, Good vs Evil’

    Pepe, the funniest post here so far.

  14. BrianB

    Manolo,

    Forget history. Never has a Philippine president been as cynical as GMA. Like you said, destroyer of institutions.

  15. ferrum mann

    Rego,
    I can’t believe you’re still repeating that flawed math of yours that 11 million out of 50 million is not the majority. You want to assail the accuracy of the surveys but you twist the equation for the most accurate survey of all: the actual elections.

    Let’s do grade four math:

    Given:

    7 elected opposition senators + 3 administration senators + 2 independent senators = 12 elected senators

    Dividing all terms by 12 then multiply by 100%, we get:

    (7/12 X 100%) + (3/12 x 100%) + (2/12 x 100%) = (12/12 x 100%)

    58.33% + 25% + 16.67% = 100%

    Now, isn’t 58.33% a majority? This does not even consider the questionable victory of Zubiri via substitute-for-the-missing-canvass scheme courtesy of Abalos/Bedol. This doesn’t even assume that Pangilinan, and Honasan, WERE elected for their pro-opposition stand prior to the polls.

    58.33% versus 25%, for me, is a rout. If that isn’t tantamount to an overwhelming rejection, tell me what is.

  16. confused observer

    mlq3,ramrod

    “Lets be realistic, some are not interested, whether they are happy with the status quo or don’t care at all, or for some reason are unable to participate.”

    How can I participate when the choices are not that clear, I will not vote for Lacson or Loren but they are the front runners. The leftists just don’t reaaly care who’s there, maybe they themselves are tired of what they are doing that’s whu their rallies are sputtering.

  17. ramrod

    “let’s just say they are just about as reliable as your average tarot card reader.” – bencard

    I’m afraid they are a little bit more sophisticated than that, they use statistical tools, random sampling, tests for degree of error, etc. Its more of an educated guess rather than magic.

  18. ramrod

    “How can I participate when the choices are not that clear, I will not vote for Lacson or Loren but they are the front runners. The leftists just don’t reaaly care who’s there, maybe they themselves are tired of what they are doing that’s whu their rallies are sputtering.” – confused observer

    We have at least three years to look for new leaders. We might even review the current senators like Loren and Lacson, its obvious from the start that they were looking at the presidency already and makes them appear very dubious indeed. But there is also one characteristic of people who are hungry for power or want power, most of the time they know how to wield it, those who are unsure of their inner motivation but suddenly get this power have a tendency to cave in, get overwhelmed, and as you they say become lameducks. So its better to keep our eyes, ears, and minds open to everything, some things are not what they seem, it pays to be intelligently vigilant…

  19. cvj

    ramrod, i think bencard is speaking of an earlier age to which he apparently belongs to.

  20. Ka Enchong

    “But you have to understand that in qouting the 30 -35% you are making an assumption that those who voted for Loren 100% hated Gloria. Which is not really the case. It can be 90%, 80%, or lower. But no one really knows.

    Now I have a question for you.

    Should our country be run by the weaknesses ( hatred is a weakness not strength) assumed 30-35% of the population. Or should it be run by the strength of majority?”

    rego,

    I may have assumed with regards to the 30%-35% of the population, the same way that I may be assuming 65%-70% being a mixed bag of pro-GMA and neutral (apathetic) people. I also did not consider that inside this mixed bag may be anti-GMA people who lost faith in making their positions known.

    I agree that the country cannot be governed by weakness. However, I think that strength (or weakness) does not depend on whether it is hatred or admiration per se.

    I believe that strength is defined by intensity, much as I believe that no one in this blog hates GMA as she is. The hatred we are witnessing (am I assuming again?) is directed towards GMA’s “perceived misdeeds”. I hope that intense hatred of these “perceived misdeeds” will one day guide those who are tasked to govern.

  21. ramrod

    “I believe that strength is defined by intensity, much as I believe that no one in this blog hates GMA as she is. The hatred we are witnessing (am I assuming again?) is directed towards GMA’s “perceived misdeeds”. I hope that intense hatred of these “perceived misdeeds” will one day guide those who are tasked to govern.”

    My sentiments exactly. Though this hatred may manifest in different unique ways, some irritating, some even worse. GMA just happens to be a figurehead and would be the most likely target and rightly so. Summing up the job decription of a leader “its all my fault.”

  22. Bencard

    what’s the matter, cvj? running out of “words of wisdom” to cut and paste? you’re at your second best – insulting people. so your older brother believes in tarot card too, or worst magic?

  23. cvj

    bencard, i believe what ramrod is trying to tell you is that modern society employs means other than tarot cards and magic to make judgments. These include the use of methods based on statistics based on the principles of probability. This is part of what Niklas Luhman would call the semantics of modern society. That you equate these with magic and tarot cards reveals an ignorance of such semantics that can only come from someone whose mind belongs to an earlier pre-modern age.

  24. ramrod

    Yes bencard. Comparing “educated guesses” based on statistical methodologies to tarot cards? Its just like Mar Roxas saying broadband is an intercom.
    There are other tools, like when you want to predict how a particular product will fare in the market,”focus group discussions”,or “product tests” this way you avoid costly mistakes of actual product launchings by anticipating the problems or potential problem analysis etc. We have so many methodologies at our disposal, we only need to learn how to use them.
    Advanced Happy Thanksgiving!

  25. cvj

    At bakit nga nag CVJ hindi mo lang ipresent ng maayos ang ” proof of the conatrary” mo? Sa ganyang paraan lamang makakita ng mga mamababasa sa blog na eto kung sino talaga ang dapat pakingggan sa inyong dalawa? – Rego

    I already did. I presented myself.

  26. justice league

    Ramrod,

    Ok.

    Just some readings for you to ponder on how powerful local officials already are.

    SunStar Cebu – Tuesday, August 24, 2004
    Talisay status as a city questioned

    The Freeman- Local News
    South Reclamation Project: The battle of two cities
    January 2, 2005

    SunStar Network online- Thursday, June 30, 2005
    Motion to dismiss averts mayor’s show in court case

    SunStar Network online – by Bong Wenceslao
    August 9, 2004
    “Score: Cebu City, 3-Talisay, 1”

    “Mehan Garden yields ancient Chinese pottery; Atienza plan opponents prepare legal challenge”

    “Is closure of Avenida legal?”

    “DPWH: Avenida
    closure illegal”

    “DENR suspends ECC for clearing of Mehan Garden, fines Manila gov?t for illegal construction”

    (Somewhere in the articles regarding Manila is obviously a typographical error. I can’t remember what article but you’ll recognize it when the entire message comes across)

    Also read Juan Mercado’s various articles on the Cebu City Mayor; namely “Inflicted pain as a policy” (I think there’s a part 1 and 2 already of that dating back from 2005). Use yahoo or the google search engine.

  27. vic

    most surveys if done properly are right on the money. Just recently polls after polls, (polls are surveys too, aren’t they?) published before our provincial election predicted exactly the actual results of the final tally.

    42% for the winning party, 32 % for opposition and 10 % for another opposition and 8% for another one (no seat won) and the remainder, the rest. and the surveys only asked the maximum of 1200 individuals, out of 16 millions, with at least 6 millions voters…in reality most governments’ policies and programs are based on surveys on what people want, and what is needed most and what the economy can afford…

  28. Bencard

    ramrod, vic: random samplings and statistics of a minute portion of the population depends on the proposition postulated to the respondent. as they say in i.t. (e.g., computer operators like cvj- i think that’s what he is), loves to say, “garbage in, garbage out”. to illusterate: say i am arguing a case before the supreme court en banc. due to intense preparations,i forgot to eat breakfast and in the middle of my presentation, i was stricken with the sharpest hunger pangs. i could not do anything about it except to shed cold sweat and shake a bit, although nothing so serious as to require ambulance and a trip to the hospital. on the way out, there’s this sws survey robot asking me question from a prepared script: “have you ever suffered hunger in the last six months”? when i answered “yes, i just did”, off she goes writing something in his logbook. `

    btw,there are still many pinoys,among them politicians, who consult with card readers and self-anointed prophets. try recto street. even reagan, among other u.s. presidents, was said to listen to modern-day nostradamus.

  29. cvj

    Bencard, there is a science behind choosing sample size, survey design etc. so you have to argue on the basis (as DJB has done so in his blog particularly on the issue of the SWS findings on hunger). That would have been a valid line of attack. However, to dismiss statistical methology itself by simply equating it with magic betrays a medieval mindset.

  30. ay_naku

    from bencard: “mav, wrong! my room is not lonely and i don’t receive “welfare” checks. see how you speculate and make others in your club believe your canard?”

    from bencard again: “ramrod, vic: random samplings and statistics of a minute portion of the population depends on the proposition postulated to the respondent. as they say in i.t. (e.g., computer operators like cvj- i think that’s what he is), loves to say, “garbage in, garbage out”. to illusterate: say i am arguing a case before the supreme court en banc. due to intense preparations,i forgot to eat breakfast and in the middle of my presentation, i was stricken with the sharpest hunger pangs. i could not do anything about it except to shed cold sweat and shake a bit, although nothing so serious as to require ambulance and a trip to the hospital. on the way out, there’s this sws survey robot asking me question from a prepared script: “have you ever suffered hunger in the last six months”? when i answered “yes, i just did”, off she goes writing something in his logbook.”

    Now, THAT paragraph is FULL of speculations (including speculating about CVJ’s profession), if not outright intellectual dishonesty. A simple check with the SWS website will tell you the exact question asked (nakaranas ng gutom at wala kayong makain) in a face-to-face interview. I thought you hated speculations and want hard evidence?

  31. Bencard

    so what if i speculated? would you sue me? i said i think cvj is a computer operator. of course, it may or may not be a fact, he could be a computer technician. am i not entitled to think? yeah, i know, cvj proclaimed that no one has a RIGHT to have an opinion, but i don’t believe him, do you?

    as to “walang makain”, i guess i really didn’t have anything to eat in my hypothetical because at the time, all i had was my portfolio filled with documents and no space for a tapsilog, or even a pan de sal.

  32. ramrod

    as to “walang makain”, i guess i really didn’t have anything to eat in my hypothetical because at the time, all i had was my portfolio filled with documents and no space for a tapsilog, or even a pan de sal. – bencard

    Bencard,

    You know, this is probably the only time I caught a glimpse of your sense of humor! hehehehehe…
    Don’t get too riled up guys 🙂

  33. reg0

    but just something that could be with sincere intentions on all side is better settled on the table..but we have to start from the top..the cleaning of the national government and pretty sure it will filter down the bottom and the insurgencies, the terrorism could be dealt with one resolve, together….”-JIW

  34. reg0

    my coment

  35. Universe Man

    This is nothing new about our Politics.
    But it is a good line. Good Idea!

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