In today’s Inquirer editorial, the paper thinks the government’s trying to politicize the price of gas; this reflects the attitude of people like Norwegian Would who think we’ve moved forward since the days of subsidized oil:
It is now close to a decade since we finally smashed the old illusion that oil price subsidies were pro-poor, perpetuated for a long time by the middle and upper class leaders of so-called ‘people’s organizations.’ Note that at that time nominal prices were below 20 dollars per barrel. Now the high is about five times. But we don’t hear of any outrageous manifestos that the increase is caused by the local ruling class in conspiracy with foreign capitalists, do we?
Despite its moderate optimism, the Inquirer’s Sunday editorial proved prophetic, in a sense, as it warned of the consequences if politicking intruded into the Batasan bombing investigation too early. The news reported Ermita clears Salapuddin on Batasan blast which led to backpedaling on his part, today: Palace executive says he did not clear Salapuddin. But the damage has been done: as Senator Genaro Magsaysay famously said, “less talk, less mistake.” The dangers of higher-ups saying something were obvious to begin with.
Last Thursday I had a chance to run into Rep. Roilo Golez whose observations, however, made sense to me. He said that if assassination was the aim, then the opportunity presents itself in two places: where the target lives, and where the target works (incidentally, on Wahab Akbar, see Torn and Frayed and Sidetrip with Howie Severino).
Add to this, he said, the fact that we don’t have a suicide bomber culture, and that includes killers intent on killing themselves, too. So an assassin would make saving his own hide a high priority. This limits the opportunities, Golez said. Between home and work, the target’s convoy would make assassination difficult. You’d expect home to be well secured. But work -well, in the case of Akbar, the opportunity was there, particularly as he seemed to have suffered from a false sense of security while at the House, leaving by the same entrance like clockwork. An assassin, Golez observed, would run the risk of being gunned down after shooting his target, unless he was capable of making the 300 meter dash to the main entrance before anyone noticed what had happened. This means, if a getaway is important to the assassin, a bomb would be best. The other possibility, that the bombing was undertaken by a rogue element within the military, is a possibility Golez’s very uncomfortable with. No such inhibitions from Inner Sanctum.
Scriptorium says the bombing raises three questions (read the whole entry, particularly his belief our society isn’t about to fall apart, just yet):
First, how could they think to do it? For while the legislators are not deemed epitomes of integrity–and in recent years, in fact, the Lower House has seemed lower still, a very expensive rubber stamp fit for a Queen–, they are legislators nonetheless, anointed with the ill-used but still real dignity of representing the nation in its districts and sectors; and an attack on them remains, by constitutional fiction, an attack on us. The bombing was therefore not only an attempt at mass murder–or perhaps at simple murder with multiple collateral casualties–but a national lese majeste, an brazen act of political sacrilege that makes us shudder for its confidence and contempt.
This takes us to the 2nd concern: Who then is safe? If our legislators with their security force and phalanxes of bodyguards can be attacked at the very center of their power, then what of us–who, when we ride the trains and enter the malls, have only private guards to keep us unharmed, searching our bags for bombs they would hardly recognize, shielding us more from comfort than from danger? The Glorietta “gas explosion” was bad enough; and even as we continue our daily routines, we know that we’ve gone back to the second lowest step of Maslow’s hierarchy (if, that is, we ever left it, or ever ascended from the first). One can hardly blame the tourists and investors for staying away, for they have a choice. We have none, and must go as before, though perhaps adding a prayer for safety to our morning rituals.
The 3rd concern proceeds from the foregoing: What next? Was this but the first ledge of a descending cascade of violence, unleashed by maybe Maoists, Islamists, Arroyoists, or random thugs? Will our government seize on it as an excuse to formally impose martial law, which it has proven all-too-willing to do for the most intangible reasons? In this light, though the intentions behind the attack are still uncertain, and its economic and social results remain to be seen, the needed policy response is already clear: For the sake of the nation and its people, the violence must be halted now, and its real perpetrators must be identified and prosecuted as soon as possible–but the means used must not, through excess, threaten to destroy the very ideals they seek to protect. More anon, perhaps, when more facts come to light.
At the moment, the political situation points to the imperative on the president to make a decisive decision soon on which path she will take to ensure her own survival beyond 2010. The name of the game right now is called “transition management.”
She does not have much time left for her to decide (and make this public) since all the options require long and difficult preparations. All the interested political actors–within and outside her ruling coalition, local as well as foreign–know this. All are exerting pressure to push their own agenda and–the jackpot–to be the one to manage the transition.
Of course, GMA may not really leave the scene–witness her pronouncements on a charter change initiative. There are some in her coalition who wants to use the charter change to extend her term in power (and their own) and they are moving heaven and civil society to make this happen.
However, the chances for this are slim, unless her administration scatters the opposition and unleashes white terror on civil society. The desperate temptation to declare martial law or a state of emergency stem from the reality of a people’s resistance to charter change under GMA’s tutelage.
It is a coincidence that dramatic events such as the Batasan bombing, the Dalaig assassination, or the Glorietta incident occur one after the other in this moment of political conjuncture. Still-unfolding events will show whether these are real coincidences or planned moves in a game of political strategy.
Meanwhile, bureaucratic intramurals: Battle looms over control of Justice.
Overseas, see Malaysia Demos: Sound and Fury, Signifying Little in Asia Sentinel.
My column for today is The future’s bright (and thanks to the San Jose-Recoletos student publications editor-in-chief, who blogs at ~~peAceOuS viCioUs~~ for her kind words). On a Visayas-related note, see Boljoon Dig part 1 and Boljoon Dig part 2, in CAFFiend, on some remarkable archeological diggings there. Interesting entries, on provincial history, in Kanlaon and A Nagueño in the Blogosphere. Interesting notes, too, in The Magnificent Atty. Perez, referring to the Iloilo-Cebu connection.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, I failed to read Blackshama’s Blog’s reaction to my columns on Marcos. But now that I have, you know, I’m working on a theory. Marcos established a New Society as the dominant discourse: it justified the scrapping of the liberal-democratic order created in 1935; and it was,actually, the justification for Edsa 1 and even Edsa Dos -and explains the refusal of what was once Marcos’ strongest constituency, the middle and upper classes frightened by Communism, to be politically engaged since 2005. Neither Edsa created a New Society, so why bother?
Think of it. Sift through all the reasons people give for not being politically active since 2005 (never mind examples of extreme social alienation, as shown in , or of guilt, as expressed by Hello Tiger Kitty), sift through the things people enumerate as everything wrong with this country (oligarchy, etc.) and then sift through what they want -basically, a Year Zero- and where it might be headed (a swing to the Right, suggests Ren’s Public Notebook) what do you have?
Ang Bagong Lipunan!
Another idea to explore is described in History Unfolding’s entry on Politics and Fourth Turnings:
William Strauss and Neil Howe, who wrote Generations and The Fourth Turning, divided American history into periods of approximately 80 years, called saeculums (Latin for a long human life.) In turn they divided each such period into four “turnings,” a High, an Awakening, an Unraveling and a Crisis. After the civil war crisis, the High lasted approximately from 1867 to 1885, the Awakening from about 1885 to 1905, the Unraveling until 1929 or so, and the crisis through 1945. In our own time the High ran from 1945 to 1965, the Awakening from then until the mid-1980s, the Unraveling from about 1985 until. . .sometime in the last 8 years.
This is a concept that resonates with me, because I approached recent events along similar (though not as intricate) lines in.