The gathering storm

Yesterday afternoon I addressed a gathering under the auspices of NIPS on the current political situation. I briefly outlined what’s in my column today, Political leprosy (which makes reference to my March 13, 2006 column, Managing expectations), as well as some points raised the paper of Economist Dr. Michael Alba (which I posted, yesterday, at Inquirer Current) and the argument put forward by yesterday’s Inquirer editorial on the repercussions of the Estrada pardon (widely expected to be formalized on Friday).

My column speaks for itself, but here’s two relevant extracts from the pieces I mentioned. First, from Dr. Alba’s paper:

Is there hope for the future? Recall that, from the inference made by Jones (1997 and 2002) on the very long-run evolution of the world distribution of living standards, the Philippines is right on the demarcation line of countries headed for different futures. If it gets its act together–and this is a big if–the country may yet join the high performers that are tending toward high steady-state levels of output per worker. But to do so, it must exhibit a high growth rate (faster than that of the technological frontier) over a long period of time (as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have done), by persistently pushing out the steady-state level of output per worker to which it is headed, not so much by achieving a higher saving rate, a lower population growth rate, and a higher quality workforce, although these will help because of synergistic effects, but by significantly improving its total factor productivity. Growth and modern development economics tell us, however, that this is not so easily done, because it involves improving the quality of the country’s social infrastructure by taking on the vestiges of our history and culture that are growth-constraining, such as flawed leadership that values loyalty more than competence, an entrenched political and business oligarchy that unashamedly promotes and jealously protects its narrow self-interests, and an incentive structure that is nepotistic rather than meritocratic and that rewards thievery and corruption more than honest, hard work. In particular, three absolutely essential and indispensable elements for social transformation are: an effective, efficient, and high-quality education system, a vigilant civil society that demands high accountability from the government, and a competent, corruption-intolerant government administration of firm purpose committed to reform and transformation.

And next, from yesterday’s Inquirer editorial:

The lesson Filipinos have learned is that both leaders have more in common with each other and both have more that sets them apart from a public that is as angry at Arroyo’s cash bar as it was over Estrada’s karaoke governance. In other words, after two years of agonizing over who is the lesser evil, the public can breathe easy, seeing how both are two sides of the same debased coin. It is People of the Philippines now versus Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

Returning to Dr. Alba’s economics paper, he pointed out a dilemma facing our OFW remittance-dependent economy. First, as more people work abroad, and send money home, the more foreign currency they send home, the less it’s worth. The result is OFW income is actually declining.

Add to this another problem: the more Filipinos leave home to work abroad, the less they stand to earn, and thus, the less they can send home, and the less what they send home is worth. This is the root cause behind proposals like the proposed November 1 and 2 Remittance boycott. Besides OFW’s, Filipino exporters have also, by all accounts, been ravaged by the depreciation of the dollar.

Add to this a third factor economists like Alba have noticed: the more Filipinos work abroad, the more their remaining dependents at home are likely to give up looking for work, and the more dependent they end up on those abroad. Short-term, this benefits the government, which can (and has, if you refer to Cielito Habito’s presentation a couple of months ago) then write off Filipinos who have given up looking for work, thereby formally (but not really) reducing those officially classified as unemployed.

Put in another factor, which is unreported in the media but common currency among entrepreneurs and other businessmen: the rampant smuggling of goods, which is also hurting Filipino manufacturers and traders. Simply talk to people with businesses that depend on importation or manufacturing, and you will know the concerns are serious, and resentment has begun to run deep. And you will also know who businessmen consider the godfathers and beneficiaries of smuggling.

Add another factor, which is that the upper and middle class in particular, was willing to tolerate many things about the administration, so long as it maintained the appearance of being marginally more virtuous than the Estrada administration. The handing out of cash to congressmen and governors, however, exceeded any doling-out of patronage in the Estrada years and was even more brazen than in the Marcos years. And the President’s attention to detail and workaholic style seems to have been spent more on manipulating the bureaucracy to approve the ZTE and other deals, than on anything particularly productive.

Add to this the growing realization on the part of military officers that they have to consider their career prospects in a future administration (a reason, I’ve heard it pointed out, that with the retirement of the previous service commanders, current and next-in-line commanders have quietly but effectively put a stop to tolerating extrajudicial killings and abductions, which seem to have subsided), and the realization among the politicians that the President’s solution to party problems –throwing money at people causing problems– has made politics so expensive and so utterly transactional, that they will have to bear the price of this in campaigns to come -and it makes politics a pretty much losing proposition, financially (even with Political Viagra by way of IRAs).

Put together the infighting in the President’s ruling coalition, with the sustained efforts of the various groups opposed to the administration, with the growing dissatisfaction with the President on the part of sectors formerly content to either turn a blind eye to her shortcomings, or who preferred her government to the prospects of a new one before 2010, and you have an administration running out of wiggle room. Not least because the President can no longer trot out her claim (very Nixon-like) that she represents a “silent majority.” If you noticed, her “silent majroty” has been consistently vocal, until now. Since ZTE began, the top 500 Women of Civil Society, the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and so forth have been very, very quiet while the usefulness of organizations such as ULAP has been severely curtailed, because of the payola scandal and clumsy handling by provincial officials (every family dealing with the depreciation of the dollar now has to consider what each congressman’s and governor’s dole out from the President could have done for them, instead, for example). The public hostility to the President over her handling of the Glorietta explosion and the handling by her pet officials hasn’t bolstered the President’s claim to public support, either.

In the same forum, Mon Casiple said that there are several confrontations that will determine whether the President recovers her strength or further dissipates it:

1. Today’s hearing at the Senate, and whether it brings to the fore new revelations (see ZTE inquiry resumes; Cabinet men not going and Joey: FG was coach; Abalos’ captain ball ). I don’t know if I’d be as sanguine as New Philippine Revolution who suggests,

1. After tomorrow’s Senate probe, expect a revival of street protests and rallies. These protests will escalate to heights never before seen in both EDSA 1 and 2. The situation, based on objective analysis of existing conditions, is tantamount to the 1986 scenario. People are raring to protests now and it is just a matter of time. Groups should serve as the trigger.

People are saying that the military should move for the kill first before the people support them. I think this is feasible under present circumstances. A repeat of EDSA 1 is in order. I concur with this observation.

2. The resumption of Congress on November 5, widely expected to be a showdown between the President and the Speaker. Tuesday and Wednesday night, apparently, had meetings of neophyte congressmen at the Palace, which suggests the administration is trying to regain the initiative.

3. The fallout from the Estrada pardon and whether, in the weeks and months to come, a quid pro quo between Arroyo and Estrada becomes obvious as a result, which means a burden for the opposition will now shift to the administration (see the letter of Estrada’s lawyers to the President).

4. The serious resumption of Charter Change will make it clear the President does not intend to step down in 2010.

5. The ability of government to convince the public that it’s solved the cause of the Glorietta explosion.

And, I’d add, the ramifications of a far less cheery citizenry going into the Christmas season, as The Unlawyer points out:

It goes without saying that Philippine retailers were the most adversely affected business sector in the wake of the blast. For example, my company suffered an 11 percent drop in business for this Friday to Sunday weekend period – prime shopping days at that – compared to revenues from previous weekends, although I must say that customer traffic rebounded somewhat on Sunday.

What about in the medium term? The explosion happened during the runup to the 2007 Christmas shopping season, which traditionally starts soon after the All Saints’ Day holidays. Indeed, at least two major Metro Manila malls started their respective pre-Christmas sales promotions on the day of the blast. Philippine consumers will definitely stay away from the malls in the next few days, and if the authorities don’t quickly restore confidence to an apprehensive populace, they may just decide to refrain from shopping for quite a while longer.

Philippine retailers are depending on Christmas season sales for a substantial portion of their 2007 revenues, and it is certainly not an appealing prospect for many of them – of us, I should say – to see our customers frightened so.

Imagine how the retailers will feel as their suddenly-slender margins are further eroded by smuggling.

Blogger Scriptorium, unlike Mon Casiple, thinks the odds are still in the President’s favor in terms of staying in power. The blogger starts off with an interesting analysis of the political scene:

The Philippine political system is best understood if we see its major players as estates divided into blocs composed of factions. An estate, following Weber’s usage, is a group distinguished by its specific social functions and conventions (rather than by mere economic standing, as in the case of a class); blocs are subgroups made cohesive by a common ideology, orientation, or interest, and which are the best Philippine equivalents of political parties; and factions are groups usually united by personal antipathy or allegiance. In the Philippines, the estates would be the Thinkers or “lords spiritual” (its Blocs being the Church, the Left, and the urban intelligentsia); the Warriors (i.e., the regular military, the armed Left, and the criminal and private armies); the Commons (the urban middle class, and the rural electorates); and the Magnates or “lords temporal” (i.e., the political elite, big business, and organized crime). There are other estates and other blocs, but they are not as politically significant.

Based on the above, the blogger breaks things down into three main groups:

(1) Since 1986, the successful removal of a sitting President through peaceful mass action has required a coalition composed of at least one bloc from each estate. Hence, the 1986 EDSA revolt was carried out by an alliance of the Church, the non-aligned intelligentsia, the urban middle class, the military, and the Opposition factions of big business and the political elite; and the 2001 EDSA revolt required the same broad alliance, with the addition of the intellectual Left, which directly participated in the protests.

(2) Of these blocs/factions, the most important have been the military, the Church, the urban middle class (as the popular base of the protests), and the opposition faction of the political elite (which provides the leadership). The absence of any one of these blocs/factions, especially the last, renders removal of a President through peaceful mass action unlikely.

(3) A successful removal through peaceful mass action requires a correlation of forces that favors removal; that is, in leadership, will, and political strength, the pro-ouster coalition must have the advantage over the administration. Thus, the 1986 coalition was marshaled against a regime weakened by economic crisis, the President’s wasting illness, and the attacks of the intellectual and armed Left; and the 2001 coalition confronted a President whose main political base was the isolated and untested urban poor, and who had neither the skill nor the machinery to counter-mobilize.

The blogger points out that the Catholic Church lacks a Cardinal Sin, and the political class either a Ninoy Aquino willing to embrace martyrdom, or a Doy Laurel willing to subordinate his ambitions; and because of these, the military is, in a sense, incapable of moving (for the same reason, the German military proved incapable of challenging Hitler; it’s interesting to me that the blogger compares the current AFP mentality to the old Prussian military mentality that equated professionalism with blind subordination to the state). Anyway, the blogger then concludes,

At present, however, the preconditions for successful removal of the President through peaceful mass action simply do not exist, as was amply demonstrated in the almost-successful ouster attempt of 2005.

To begin with, the main social blocs have been isolated, neutralized, or weakened. For one, the urban middle class, especially the all-important 18-35 age range, is sheltered from economic pressure (like that faced by the urban poor) by the existence of outsourcing and emigrant (OFW) employment, which also siphons off discontented urban intellectuals; and it is diverted from politics by the expansion of the emigrant- and outsourcing-driven consumer market. (Some writers, in fact, have noticed the discrepancy between the youth that fueled the First Quarter Storm and the young adults of contemporary Philippines: once, they say, the paradigmatic activity of college and young professionals was public protest against oppression and injustice; but today, one finds the youth in Starbucks and the ever-ubiquitous malls.)

Even if it were politically active, the urban middle class has declined in relative strength with the politicization of the rural electorate, which tends to be less pro-Opposition than the urban sectors. The presence of this new countervailing force allowed GMA to fight the 2005 ouster-movement by counter-mobilizing the provinces, somewhat as the 14th-century Valois mobilized rural France against the Jacquerie; and with the dominance of patrimonial politics in rural Philippines, which, as I explained in another essay, is under Presidential control, she can well use the provinces again to resist urban protest. Another additional factor has been the rise of urban poor as a potential force. Being less inclined to liberal-democratic ideology and oriented to bread-and-butter issues, the urban poor’s very existence as a mobilizable force serves to weaken the claim of the urban middle class to represent the public will. In a word, we are seeing in the Philippines the beginnings of the process that, in Europe, led to the displacement of middle-class Liberal power with the Conservative, Catholic and Socialist movements.

I can’t wait for Part 2 of the blogger’s essay!

See the PNP Presentation 1 and the PNP Presentation 2 on the Glorietta blast. See also the observations of Tongue In, Anew and The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile and Manuel Buencamino in his column and Inner Sanctum in his blog and Jessica Zafra in hers. Some news: PNP probes army official who found plastic bag with RDX and Ayala Land says PNP theory of methane gas blast unlikely. Whatever the case, the Inquirer editorial urges authorities not to rush it.

A very poignant reflection by Luz Rimban on journalists and their having to pry into the sorrows of individuals in times of crisis or disaster. See Rabid Pirate Tanuki on the reactions of an office mate, a survivor of the blast; I feel blest publishes a letter by a bereaved husband (her harrowing account of the husband and his ordeal is in this entry). helen’s site has harrowing rescue photos, and Life No. 2 reflects on how people coped with the tragedy.

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    • ay_naku on October 25, 2007 at 9:32 am

    At present, however, the preconditions for successful removal of the President through peaceful mass action simply do not exist, as was amply demonstrated in the almost-successful ouster attempt of 2005.

    To begin with, the main social blocs have been isolated, neutralized, or weakened. For one, the urban middle class, especially the all-important 18-35 age range, is sheltered from economic pressure (like that faced by the urban poor) by the existence of outsourcing and emigrant (OFW) employment, which also siphons off discontented urban intellectuals; and it is diverted from politics by the expansion of the emigrant- and outsourcing-driven consumer market. (Some writers, in fact, have noticed the discrepancy between the youth that fueled the First Quarter Storm and the young adults of contemporary Philippines: once, they say, the paradigmatic activity of college and young professionals was public protest against oppression and injustice; but today, one finds the youth in Starbucks and the ever-ubiquitous malls.)

    I sooo agree with this, and this has also been my personal observation for quite some time now, being part of the young urban middle class myself. Many of my friends and acquaintances are in the outsourcing/callcenter industry, and most of them simply do not care about the numerous government scandals, and they could care even less about the extra-legal killings, if they’re even aware of it in the first place. When I try to talk about these things to them, some would just complain about the huge taxes they have to pay (and I believe that on the average they earn much more than those working for local companies), but they stop at that, and such complaints seem more perfunctory than real expressions of protests (that their taxes are just going to the pockets of government officials.)

    In some ways, they’ve been “americanized”, more concerned with their accents than with what’s happening with the rest of the country. They’ve “made it”: they can afford to rent condo units (although many have to share one unit), pay for their weekend gimmicks, and have their regular Starbucks fix. I’d like to say that they choose to not rock the boat, so to speak, but from my personal observations, many actually are just blissfully unaware of current events. (But they’re very much aware of Malu Fernandez and the Desperate Housewives brouhaha, and have expressed anger at them.) In some ways, they seem to be “disconnected”, as if they live in some American state located here in the Philippines.

    • hvrds on October 25, 2007 at 9:46 am

    “In particular, three absolutely essential and indispensable elements for social transformation are: an effective, efficient, and high-quality education system, a vigilant civil society that demands high accountability from the government, and a competent, corruption-intolerant government administration of firm purpose committed to reform and transformation.”

    Chicken and egg situation. As Drucker very correctly pointed out. “Civil society is the rule of law and financial regulation.” Free markets or liberal economics do not create these institutions. It presupposes they exist. These institutional mechanisms are products of societal transformations of communities. Trust transferred from familial bonds to state institutions. When families and communities trust their deputized representatives and this can happen only in the smallest political units.

    Communities bind together to protect their safety and property first and foremost. In the Philippines home and village associations protect themselves and not the state.
    Business also do the same. There is widespread distrust of the agents of the state.

    That is a product of the separation of colonizer from the colonized. A form of apartheid. Enter any building and gated community and most will allow you entry without batting an eyelash if you look Western or foreign.

    The weak economic base led to the degradation of political and cultural values hence the institutional mechanisms established by the colonizers have been debased and degraded beyond recognition. The aspect of due process of law has been so distorted and abused leading to a complete breakdown in all levels of society of what is right and wrong. From the MMDA traffic enforcer to the Office of the President, the Judiciary and the Legislature everything and anyone can be bought.

    Hence the romanticized look to the past before the war and right after the war.

    There have been arguments in this blog about the necessity of applying the rules of court and evidence in determining culpability but the entire process of law enforcement is initiated by institutional investigative processes when probable cause has been established.

    However these mechanisms have been almost entirely corrupted.

    It is sad that a lot of equilibrium economists fail to look at the societal institutions that are necessary for sound market economies to prosper. That makes governance absolutely essential for markets to do their work for the benefit of all.

    Civilization requires expensive governance. If society does not trust its own government that means there is no society to speak of.

    • DinaPinoy on October 25, 2007 at 10:00 am

    I sooo agree with this, and this has also been my personal observation for quite some time now, being part of the young urban middle class myself. Many of my friends and acquaintances are in the outsourcing/callcenter industry, and most of them simply do not care about the numerous government scandals, and they could care even less about the extra-legal killings, if they’re even aware of it in the first place. – ay_naku

    i was in college during the marcos regime. i don’t know if you remember, ang mga nag ra-rally noon ay mga kabataan, ussually students. i’m not a member of any organization but me and my classmates participated most of the time. sa tingin ko, with issues like these today, ang mendiola bridge / plaza miranda / plaza lawton ay puputaktihin ng mga estudyante noong kapanahunan ni marcos kumpara sa kabataan ngayon.

    military component will not come considering the present setup. si esperon ang ver ni gloria. sinubukan na ang military component sa oakwood, di ba?

    • tonio on October 25, 2007 at 10:10 am

    the country’s young people are locked up in call centres, which have the effect of dumbing them down. anyone who’s been through an eleven hour shift getting grief from people who, for the most part, have a lower comprehension that you affects you. a good friend, who is a veteran of a few contact centres, told me this one day:

    nakakabobo talaga ang trabaho sa floor. pareho-pareho na lang ang reklamo, araw-araw. there are only a few ways you can express the same solution. the only way to stay employed in the call centre industry is to make sure, that at a certain point, you stop taking the calls.

    add to this the fact that these people “live” across the world, in another time zone. while things are going on in our world, these young people are, quite literally, asleep.

  1. Manolo, what’s your take on this?

    MBW, by 2010, GMA will NOT be on her way out. she will be on her way IN for good. charter change will happen, and JDV will be ousted – one way or another. by 2010, GMA will be firmly in power. all these so-called opposition will by then be co-opted or like Trillanes, made irrelevant.

    economic numbers would keep on surging, making those who play in stocks happy. but nobody else. as long as MBC and PCOC is kept happy, GMA will be in power. the Aquinos will be tolerated with their Luisita Hacienda, and pretty much everyone else like them. GMA would do well not to anger hacienderos like them. (and I forgot, the bishops continue to have their dole-outs too!)(which reminds me, i imagine the bishops supporting GMA today like V for Vendetta’s bishop)

    for a while, Filipinos would bear with this bcoz there’s always the allure to go overseas, as demand for medical professionals, teachers, seamen, and other skilled laborers would hardly go down. why bother complaining when you can just leave the country to ruins?

    the crack would start when the country is finally drained of skilled workers. educational quality not improving, demand for such laborers would slowly decrease. quality of life here further deteriorating, OFW families will have no recourse but to emigrate along with everyone from their family they can take with them. this in effect, would mean decreasing dollar inflows (why send money when you can get them out of the country?), until finally, this economic prop would collapse and finally expose the economic lie this govt has been resting on.

    meanwhile, govt would be so degraded that law and order can hardly be kept anymore. somewhere along this line, martial law will have to be declared once criminality is so rampant even gated communities are not spared. demand for private bodyguards among the rich would increase. everyone who has some money or property to protect had better arm themselves.

    the country would ignite once the barren Philippines I envision finally happens. this is when all who has the capability to leave has left, and basically what used to be the middle class is now classes D and E. this intellectual desert would be symptomatic of an abundance of messianic characters and groups professing deliverance thru God. except God would not be talked about. only the devil in politic’s robes.

    Bastille in the French revolution fashion? oh i think it’ll be much worse if their leaders would be as intellectually bereft as them.

    • Jon Mariano on October 25, 2007 at 10:21 am

    It looks like the Nov 1 and 2 remittance boycott is not supported well. I wish it was so that we can see whether a bigger(more OFWs) and longer remittance boycott can be done.

    • tonio on October 25, 2007 at 10:26 am

    jon:

    sir, the “undas” holiday is one of those traditional “big expense” holidays i think. you can’t ask our OFWs to stop remitting on those days.

    and considering the way most OFW relationships have a co-dependent character… it’d be like asking junkies to quit cold turkey.

    • ay_naku on October 25, 2007 at 10:30 am

    MLQ, since you you said in your column that you are in favor of snap elections, any chance that civil society groups (BWM, One Voice, etc) will finally call for this loudly, in a concerted and sustained effort?

    • tonio on October 25, 2007 at 10:38 am

    ay naku:

    isn’t civil society still fragmented at this point? anyone willing to call for a snap election is itching to get “disappeared”.

    further, who will people listen to? i don’t know if i just don’t get out that often, but i feel that the voices of dissent are few or worse, not listened to.

    again, don’t get me wrong. i want this change to happen. but are there enough people who want it too?

  2. The growing call for resignation of President Arroyo is still premature. We believe that the whole truth about any moral issue must be ascertained or firmed before subjecting it to moral scrutiny and judgment. Otherwise, any statement on the matter may be premature and counter-productive. Hence, there is a need for a thorough and impartial investigation as prescribed by law, truth and honesty and a sense of patriotism… And we pray for sobriety, calmness and peace to Jesus Christ the prince of peace. – de Quiros qouting 18 Mindanao bishops’ statement

    holy shit! these bishops sound more like lawyers or trapos than bishops!

    wait for the whole truth (which is slapping them in the face) to be “ascertained” before applying “moral scrutiny?”

    *gangster voice* no, no, no wait! let us wait for the “impartial” govt initiated investigation to finish its investigation of its own self before we issue any statement calling the emperor naked. no, no, no. why don’t we do one better and wait till we’re in hell before we apply moral scrutiny to our actions? no! why apply moral scrutiny at all when we’ve lost all morality in us?

    yes! that’s the spirit bishops! lead the way to hell!

    • tonio on October 25, 2007 at 10:53 am

    hmph. morally bankrupt bastards. have padre damaso and his ilk been reincarnated?

    “my brothers and sisters, as long as this administration keeps our ravenous bellies full we will never rally you to go against her. anyone who sees otherwise are merely destabilizers. long live the status quo. amen.

    • ay_naku on October 25, 2007 at 10:53 am

    isn’t civil society still fragmented at this point? anyone willing to call for a snap election is itching to get “disappeared”.

    further, who will people listen to? i don’t know if i just don’t get out that often, but i feel that the voices of dissent are few or worse, not listened to.

    again, don’t get me wrong. i want this change to happen. but are there enough people who want it too?

    Well, we’ll never really know unless we try, right? Enough prominent civil society members were able to come together for the successful anti-chacha campaign (One Voice.) Senator Trillanes has also proposed snap elections. PDI columnist Conrado de Quiros has been loudly advocating it for some time now (thank God he hasn’t “disappeared” yet), and in his column for today, MLQ (who’s a member of BWM and One Voice) has also expressed support for it. Maybe the timing is right for finally making a serious, concerted effort in this direction.

  3. our religious leaders today have the airs of the pharisees of Jesus’ time.

    but not to worry. Jesus’ 2nd coming is near, and he’ll pronounce them hypocrites on their way to hell.

    • Jon Mariano on October 25, 2007 at 11:30 am

    OFWs usually send money only once a month, an effective boycott would be to not send that one month remittance. Any good ideas on how this can be done? To be succesful, OFWs must be willing to let their families “die of hunger” for one month.

    • rego on October 25, 2007 at 11:51 am

    sus ginoo! di ko kayang tapusing basahin ang entry na eto. add to this, add to this, add to this then, then, then…. patong na patong na problema. napakadilim ng ng bukas para sa pinas, naka depress, nakakalungkot,parang gusto ko ng hakutin ang mag kamaganak ko sa na naiwan sa pinas…..

    • Willy on October 25, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Devilsadv, Tonio,

    Here are some excerpts from the Pastoral statement issued by CBCP last June of 2005 in response to the then
    crisis. It might help out to see where they are coming from:

    “We are not politicians who are to provide a political blueprint to solve political problems. Rather we are Bishops called by the Lord to shepherd the people in the light of faith…We are to provide moral and religious guidance to our people. This is what we offer in the present crisis. Not to do this would be an abdication of our duty…In the welter of conflicting opinions and positions our role is not to point out a specific political option or a package of options as the Gospel choice, especially so when such an option might be grounded merely on a speculative and highly controvertible basis…In all these we remind ourselves that a just political and moral order is best promoted under the present circumstances by a clear and courageous preference for constitutional processes that flow from moral values and the natural law.”…

    • Jeg on October 25, 2007 at 11:58 am

    I dont get it. The bishops say they arent politicians that provide a political blueprint, etc, etc., and that they prefer constitutional processes yadda-yadda-yadda, why then are they making a pronouncement against calling for resignation of GMA? Dont they believe resignation is constitutional? Is the Catholic flock incapable of discerning moral issues without their help? Pfsh!

    • magdiwang on October 25, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Im not really sure why you guys/gals are so pre-occupied about GMA. The truth is there is no significant outrage to even threaten her hold on power. The businessmen are making a killing, the provinces resent imperial manila, a good number of people dont trust the opposition, young educated urbanites actually like her businesslike leadership, the catholic church is hopelesly divided and the military is in her pockets. It will take more than innuendoes and unproven accusations to topple her.

  4. We are not politicians who are to provide a political blueprint to solve political problems.

    No. but you are bishops who talk like politicians, who coddle politicians, who accept “gifts” from politicians, and bishops who are least of God’s servants – at all.

    • cvj on October 25, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    I don’t think the young generation’s apathy is because they are made of lesser stuff than their counterparts in the 70’s and 80’s. There is no comparison in that today’s Society is more highly functionally differentiated than before. Combine that with the inequality that has become even more pronounced as our economy grows. The call center crowd has its own little world separate from the urban or rural poor. This is reinforced by the prevailing globalization ideology that says government should be made irrelevant and that any collective action should remain community based. These factors were not present in the 70’s and 80’s to the degree it is today.

    Some, who have taken upon themselves the role of Society’s immune system, know that such a view is harmful to society at large because it would eventually lead to the breakdown of our social infrastructure that Alba is referring to. I do think that Ellen’s, Ricky’s, Manuelbuencamino’s, Manolo’s and the BnW’s efforts are taking effect and that the realization that GMA is more harmful than beneficial to our system is already seeping into the public consciousness. Unfortunately, there are still those who choose to stick to their own little worlds. What the recent bombing has shown is that people can go to ridiculous lengths to justify their apathy just as the 18 Mindanao bishops have done. As hvrds has said (my favorite line from him)

    “We allow small acts of evil as long as it is far from affecting us and it starts to have a life of its own and this apathy allows it to come right to our doorstep.” – hvrds

    As the Ayalas are realizing right now, not even them can be spared from the consequences of their apathy.

    At a practical level, the task that society’s immune system needs to figure out is to get around what Mon Casiple is describing which is in effect a failure of coordination across the different sectors of society. We know that the goal – good government, is in the interest of everyone who belongs to our society, but beyond that our outlook remains personal or at best local and confined to our day to day or community concerns. There is also mutual distrust and lack of respect between the classes as represented by the EDSA Dos and EDSA Tres crowds, the former taking on a foolish elitist mindset and the latter wallowing in their perennial sense of victimhood. Figuring out how to harness and channel the aspirations of these groups to a common direction is the key challenge facing us.

    • Willy on October 25, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    “Is the Catholic flock incapable of discerning moral issues without their help?” -Jeg

    I don’t recall the bishops claiming so.

    Anyone can express their views, and I suppose this includes the bishops. You are free to agree with them or not, based on your own discernment.

    • Jeg on October 25, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Im sure youre right, Willy. I was reacting to this part of what you quoted:

    In all these we remind ourselves that a just political and moral order is best promoted under the present circumstances by a clear and courageous preference for constitutional processes that flow from moral values and the natural law.”…

    A call for resignation shows a ‘preference for constitutional processes’. And yet the bishops are against it, meaning they do not believe that the call for resignation flows ‘from moral values and the natural law…’ Would you know why?

    • cvj on October 25, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Would you know why? – Jeg

    Are you asking for a logical reason? or a psychological one?

    • Jeg on October 25, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    cvj: Are you asking for a logical reason? or a psychological one?

    A moral reason would suffice since the bishops claim this is their area of expertise. Why is the call for resignation, a peaceful call, a call that shows a preference for constitutional processes, ‘immoral’?

    But a logical or psychological reason would do as well since we’re just speculating on their motives.

    • Willy on October 25, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Jeg,

    My two centavos attempt to answer:

    The bishop’s pastoral function directed to moral issues within the sphere of politics is based on the Church’s social doctrine wherein the concept of common good may not be as common to most people. Somehow this had led them to call for a resignation. We might say that they are not united in this (18 vs 3?) because the nature of this pastoral function is not based on an infallible dogma. Even bishops among themselves do differ on points where no clear magisterium teaching is concerned. Thus, you may follow your own private discernment, and they will not condemn you to hell if you do otherwise. That
    is not to say that the faithful takes their advise for granted.

    • Willy on October 25, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    oops, should read “Somehow this had led them NOT to call for a resignation.”

    • leah on October 25, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    it would help if the OFWs just sent their money door-to-door and avoided the official banking system.

    • cvj on October 25, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Jeg, to me the simplest answer is that the Bishops made that call out of ignorance of what is Constitutional and what is not. It may have been an honest mistake or maybe they are just grasping for any flimsy reason that would give them moral cover.

    • hvrds on October 25, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Bishops are citizens and can vote and have opinions and can make political stands. As citizens they can and make statements as citizens. Do not make the mistake of saying that the Church is divided. The Bishops are not the Church and the Church is not the Bishops. Only people who realize they are Catholics and who do good (non-Catholics) comprise the Church. The rest just go through the motions.

    Bishop Capalla and all the other 17 bishops if they all signed a statement and understood all of its contents than that is the statement of 18 men who happen to be Bishops of the Catholic Church.

    The same with the 3 Bishops who also very clearly said that it was their personal stand. It was also unfortunate that when they made their stand a retired Justice of the Supreme Court was with them and he made the same call on the same day they made their call known the bombing happened in Makati. Plus the media focused on the 3 bishops only and their call for resignation. Nothing else was mentioned about the rationale. That left them open for misinterpretation by the government. The spin doctors went to work to fill the void due to the bombing.

    The Palace likes to play politics and it was very easy to get Bishop Capalla to fashion a statement for GMA’s side to diffuse the call of the three bishops as he is working for the benefit of coconut farmers in his region and GMA has been playing him like a violin. The head of the CBCP was the one who came out and said that the government is morally bankrupt. I do not know if he mentioned it as a stand of the group or his personal observation.

    No big deal.

    In Argentina recently a priest was sent to prison for being an accomplice to the tortures of many during the dirty war. Don’t forget what some of the Roman Catholic hierarchy did in support of Franco during the Spanish Civil War. There were also progressive churchmen and women put to the death by Franco. The conservatives comprise what may be akin to a Catholic Hezbollah Movement. (Party of God)

    Some of the priests and bishops in the Church here are still steeped in the traditions of the Council of Trent. Rigid and Dogmatic……A lot of them are not still comfortable with Vatican II.

    Remember that there are also ayatollahs in the Catholic hierarchy.

    Cardinal Rosales is one such person. He is slightly to the left of Pope Benedict but certainly to the extreme right of the late Cardinal Sin.

    • Shaman of Malilipot on October 25, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    “sus ginoo! di ko kayang tapusing basahin ang entry na eto. add to this, add to this, add to this then, then, then…. patong na patong na problema. napakadilim ng ng bukas para sa pinas, naka depress, nakakalungkot,parang gusto ko ng hakutin ang mag kamaganak ko sa na naiwan sa pinas…..”

    reg0, don’t despair. It is darkest just before the break of dawn.

    • Shaman of Malilipot on October 25, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    I have long stopped listening to the bishops. I’m quite comfortable with my Jesuit-confessor.

  5. The idealist blogger should have read more about the real reason of the uprising of the military during Marcos time.

    With Ver under Imelda and Enrile’s life was threatened there was no way out but to rebel.

    Under Aquino’s administration, the coup was a case of the “Ako ang nagtanim, ako ang nagbayo, iba ang kumain.”

    Sheesh! doomsayers.

  6. the country’s young people are locked up in call centres, which have the effect of dumbing them down.

    I should say they’re not dumb.

    Just look at what happened to those activists during Marcos’ era.

    Villanueva is now a rich leader of a religious congregation.
    Gordon is a senator. Barican served under Estrada’s administration. Before that he was also a corporate person.

    Other activists who must have discovered the true nature of the organizationsthey supported were executed.

    So you consider the people who want to earn an honest living DUMB?

    Get a life.

    • tonio on October 25, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Cat:

    far from it Cat. i meant that statement as more of a description of the effect of living your life in the wrong time zone, not as a general description of their intellectual capacity.

    have you lived the life of a contact centre agent? i have. no matter how smart you really are, the work really gets to you after a while.

    add to that the growing incidence of stress-related incidences in that sector of the work force, it’s no wonder that they may not even be really fit, much less inclined to participate in things on the ground.

    • alas ka dora on October 25, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    I agree with hvrds that bishops are citizens of this country too and can form opinion about issues affecting this country where they perform their bishopric responsibilities. But if the opinion of those 17 bishops which comprise the CBCP authority is remove from the voice of what they represent ,as what you are trying to suggest, so what do we call as the catholic voice now? Who do we look up to as the one echoing the sentiments of the cathlic church as an institution.

    • tonio on October 25, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    alas ka dora:

    misrepresentation is the name of the game nowadays. you can’t expect the church, or your local congressman to express the people’s sentiments, much less your own.

    if there’s anything the climate in the country right now is teaching people, it’s that you can’t look up to just anyone to represent your interests anymore.

    • tonio on October 25, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    hmmm… trillanes has “put up”. he says he’s got witnesses.

    • Willy on October 25, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    “you can’t expect the church, or your local congressman to express the people’s sentiments” – tonio

    True, because the church is not mandated to express people’s sentiments but is commissioned by their calling to spread the word of God, which includes their pastoral functions that may delve into the realm of politics. This should be regardless of whether they square with the people’s sentiments or not. With congressmen, it should be different.

    alas ka dora,

    I believe the 18 bishops’ statement do not constitute an official statement from the CBCP – it is just a collective statement. If you are looking for an official Catholic voice, the closest one you get in our setting is the one that might be released by the CBCP, that is if they do decide to release one.

    • Mike on October 25, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    The pardon of Erap is the last straw. It makes a mockery of everything I fought for in 2001. It’s so clear and so glaring that we’ve been so thoroughly had. I’ve never been so sick to my stomach.

    I would join a rally at the drop of a hat, but is there any credible group that is going to lead them?

  7. jinggoy and Loi at the senate. Hope they stick to their principles too.

  8. If civil society which has been against this pardon doesn’t get in there to rally against Gloria’s pardon for Erap, then I suppose, cvj is right, the move on crowd will have won.

    • cvj on October 25, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    MBW, i’d be interested in the reactions of the EDSA Tres crowd on an Erap pardon. The reactions over at Ellen’s, where the pro-Erap crowd hangs out, will be interesting to observe.

    • cvj on October 25, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Mike, i agree. You can consider an Erap pardon a final defeat for EDSA Dos.

    • Ka Enchong on October 25, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    The reactions over at Ellen’s, where the pro-Erap crowd hangs out, will be interesting to observe.

    More than the pro-Erap crowd, it would be interesting to observe Jinggoy whether he’s going to switch sides (if he hasn’t, yet) or not.

    The pardon of Erap is the last straw. It makes a mockery of everything I fought for in 2001. It’s so clear and so glaring that we’ve been so thoroughly had. I’ve never been so sick to my stomach.

    Same here.

  9. Chuck,

    Nobody seems to be interested in Ellen’s blog even when I say that I would be happy for Erap to make a last hurrah and beg for that pardon to see if there would be a squeak from civil society (which has been vehemently against this pardon from the onset), hoping that that squeak would turn into something thunderous and eventually, push out Gloria too… you know Erap and Gloria will cancel each other out sort of.

    I think safe to say that unless we see anything concrete from civil society, might as well admit that we have underestimated the purpose and the determination of the move on crowd to simply ‘move on’.

    • Acoy on October 25, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Pardon already given. In the news already.

  10. Acoy,

    Yeah, learned that from Ka Enchong and Philippine Commentary a few minutes ago.

    So, shall we now move on?

  11. Chuck,

    Initial posts indicate that Erap pardon is not really a cause for joy in Ellen’s blog — there is a growing consensus that both Erap and Gloria should be finally out of the Philippine political landscape.

    • Manindigan! on October 25, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    First she bought immunization via the”ImpeachMe “move of PronBonus Lawyer Pulido.

    Now she bought political insurance via Erap pardon to establish legal precedent for future”pardons” of her political crimes.

    What’s next ,refurbish the San Francisco homes of Jose Pidal for future exile?

    That’s what you call a Tranformational Pesident in this country.

    Trick or treat time for Erap and Gloria.They deserve each other.

    • Ka Enchong on October 25, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Now she bought political insurance via Erap pardon to establish legal precedent for future”pardons” of her political crimes.

    Any future president will have no incentive in pardoning Aling Gloria. Erap remains extremely popular, while Aling Gloria has been languishing even below the cellar popularity-wise. By the looks of it, she may be staying there till it’s time to go- for good.

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