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Nov 19

Victory of the New Society

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.

Still, Amando Doronila says Blaming Abus was convenient for probers while Uniffors remains puzzled by the use of a bomb to do something small arms fire could have accomplished.

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.

More questions are raised by Postcard Headlines. But Mon Casiple asks the real question on everyone’s mind: are they Coincidences or real political moves? He’s a bit ambiguous on this score:

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.

The Marocharim Experiment on the sociology of dance moves. It’s sad to note Patsada Karajaw has vanished from the blogosphere.

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561 comments

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  1. coward

    madame mita, for one more time and one more, I’ll say, people do some “crazy things” sometimes for good reason. A man would commit homicide in self defense and he won’t be guilty of murder or crime. A citizen may rebel against an oppressor and he could be hanged for that transgression, but he could be a hero to the oppressed and if he succeeds, the oppressor in return becomes a “criminal” and what a turn of events. And believe me quite a lot or even some who are hooting now, expected such should had been the turnout last Thursday..we’ll we Pinoys are unpredictable, you know…you see how one day 11 millions will vote this man for senator knowing that he had already led a mutiny, but now that he led another one, some of his supporter already abandoned him, even as he just proved to them he’s been true to himself in contrast to most politicians.

    He maybe be foolish, but he never fooled anyone…

  2. Bencard

    ” i read two camps here, those who want PEOPLE POWER/REVOLUTION? QUICK OVERTHROW and the camp that says let’s keep trying to find ways and means to take her out LEGALLY.” silent waters.

    i have to disagree with you on this one, sw. how about those who are satisfied with pgma’s overall performance and would like her to REMAIN president for as long as possible, LEGALLY? i may be the only one here who say this categorically, with conviction, but you cannot discount or ignore me or anyone else out there who harbors the same sentiment.

    btw, i thought you said you were a “centrist”. what exactly does that mean?

  3. Mita

    cvj, inumpisahan mo na nanamn yung middle class morality sermon…

    what i just pointed out IS reality. whether you want it repeated or not, it IS and it doesn’t mean I condone it. if WE don’t acknowledge that fact, it can never be resolved. When you preach about morality, you better make sure you are as clean as a whistle…

    coward, they may…and how many regret the “crazy things” they did? can i ask you one thing? just one thing….just for 1 day, get rid of the “nang-aapi and inaapi” mentality that is so pervasively part of our lives in the Philippines? we are better than that…really we are…and that attitude is defeating, it really is.

    bencard, bravo for speaking your truth so bravely!

  4. Silent Waters

    Bencard

    sorry for leaving a few of you out there…I guess that makes it three camps!

    Ako, centristfrom the point of view of cvj’s political compass tests. almost right smack in the middle of the x and y axis….

    CVJ

    Nandiyan ka na naman, peddling “the elites and the middle class are the problem” theories. May fixation ka talaga sa pet theory na iyan. You really like to let the masses off the hook. You certainly have really brushed up on Amado Guerrero’s Philippine version of the Mao’s Red Book.

    Also, don’t forget that the elites also includes the intellectuals. It doesn’t just comprise the rich amigo. So I guess that makes you an elite also.

    I agree with MITA. Reality sucks but it’s reality. Does that mean we should just accept it? No, but that doesn’t mean we should take illegal means to change the system. Huwag maging tamad, work harder.

    Gusto niyo kasi lahat, instant. No wonder instant noodles and the lotto are hits in our country.

  5. Bencard

    silent, that’s o.k., but how can you presume there’s only a “few” of us out there? don’t tell me the same crap about sws surveys or some such thing.

  6. Silent Waters

    Sorry, meant a few in a rhetorical way. But in this blog, it certainly seems there’s really only a few of you. Just look at CVJ’s political compass and it pretty much says it all….anyway, I think I am just slight left of you in terms of politics. Sabi kasi ng iba diyan kasalanan ko kasi elite at middle class kasi ako. 🙂

    I agree with most of what you say. But I do believe GMA has lost her moral leadership when she admitted she spoke to the COMELEC. She as president should have known better.

    On the other hand, the opposition for me has not offered any palatable alternative so far given my political leanings. (Centrist nga). So I guess I (Ako lang, may hihirit kasi diyan kahit di sila ang kausap ko) just have to muddle along until somebody fires my imagination.

    The problem with surveys and media for me in general is that they can certainly slant it any way they can, whether for the administration or the opposition. (Compare MB and Tribune and you’ll see what I mean). That’s why I told people here (who crucified me for saying that by the way in previous commentaries) that we should be more discerning of media and survey pronouncements. I like reading Monsod’s comments particularly on survey as she dissects them thoroughly than the headlines in general. (She’s also my teacher in economics by the way and a damn good one).

  7. hindi ako botante

    SW,

    Kung hindi ni-admit ni GMA na kinausap niya COMELEC, did she lose it?

    What I am really after is, ni-admit man o hinde, most of the politikos doesn’t have the moral ascendancy, its always choosing the lesser of two evils or which one I will benefit the most.

  8. cvj

    You certainly have really brushed up on Amado Guerrero’s Philippine version of the Mao’s Red Book. – Silent Waters

    I haven’t read any of the above. I’d like to repeat my invitation to you and Bencard to contribute your Political Compass scores. You too, Mita.

  9. Mita

    cvj,

    i’ll take you up on that, thanks. I believe I’m centrist though I haven’t taken the test. I was left-leaning in my younger years but boy do the years teach you…

    anyway, left a proposal for bloggers to get together (not physically of course) for a common goal – electoral reforms before 2010. I hope some of you will be interested enough to consider it. If we’re tired of getting screwed by politicians, let’s do something about it. If we can muster enough support from here and abroad, who knows what can happen?

    Pinoy food bloggers have “Lasang Pinoy” why not a “Botong Pinoy” for everyone else who is not into food writing….

  10. cvj

    Thanks Mita. You can take the test here: http://www.politicalcompass.org/

    I think your suggestion on electoral reforms is a good one and i’d be willing to contribute where i can.

  11. luz b. libradilla

    sana mwla na yan c pangulong gloria macapagal kasi problema lang yan siya sa ating bansa..wla naman yang pakinabang dito sa pilipinas.

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