Today is the 75th birthday of Corazon C. Aquino, who was the Free Press’s Person of the Century. A welcome move: Chief Justice Puno: Fine will do for libel (see also SC to release circular on libel). Concerning another Supreme Court initiative, see www.soriano-ph.com on Habeas Data. Naturally, it’s driving Philippine Commentary bananas.
In other news, Ayala offers more proof of G-2 bombing.
In Davos, Finger Pointing, Preserving Legacies, Looking for Leadership engages those present. In his blog, Stuart Santiago tackles the possibility of a global recession.See also Joblessness seen rising in 2008.
The debate continues: New ‘PI’ eyes revision, not amendment. Just a distraction, so Talks on with foreign firms on NBN can proceed? Or part of a broader effort to keep relevant, as Mon Casiple suggests:
Charter change–in these end-game times–requires extraordinary measures in order to neutralize the overwhelming public opposition to a GMA charter change. The 2006 Cha-cha debacles are still fresh in the minds of both proponents and oppositors.
President Macapagal-Arroyo should stop all these political maneuvers by her subordinates to maintain her in power after 2010. It only make more difficult for her to concentrate on a legacy agenda and for her coalition to maintain its unity. One can discern already the separation of interests between her and some of her advisers.
If proponents of amendments have given up on the parliamentary option as too alien -and alienating of the electorate- they continue to flog Federalism (which I am interested in, too). Miriam Coronel Ferrer in Cutting up the Philippines dissects the issue, but points to how the proponents generally envision a kind of consolidation of existing provinces into federal states:
In two House Bills filed in 2004, Luzon will have the five federal states of Metro Manila, Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Bicol. Visayas and Mindanao will each have three: Eastern, Western and Central Visayas; and Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Bangsamoro Federal States. In all, 11 federal states.
The Citizens’ Movement for a Federal Philippines’ draft constitution aims for 10 states, with Visayas divided into only two states: East and West. The current Western Visayas provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental will be boosted by the inclusion of Palawan, currently under Southern Tagalog. All the other Visayan provinces will make up Eastern Visayas.
A trimmer proposal recommends only eight states — Northern Luzon (including the Cordillera), Central Luzon (including provinces in Southern Luzon and Metro Manila cities except Manila, Makati and Quezon City), a single Visayan state, Bangsa Moro, Northern Mindanao, and Southern Mindanao. In this proposal, the federal capital will be made up of Manila, Makati and Quezon City. Jose V. Abueva suggests transforming the Clark Economic Zone into the federal capital instead.
She then tackles the opposition of other places to these proposals (for example, Palawan, which wants to be its own federal state), and gives proposals of her own, such as dropping proposals for a Bangsamoro state; her proposal’s very interesting but bucks the conventional wisdom too much, or rather, takes the inclusive rhetoric of its proponents too seriously.
My view is that proponents of Federalism from outside government view it far differently than its supporters within government. People outside government, it seems to me, view Federalism as a means to give greater freedom to local governments, but also, that provinces need to be reconsolidated into larger, self-sufficient territories. Proponents from within government, who have already gerrymandered many provinces into existence, aren’t interested in consolidating the resources and territories of their fieffoms.
This passage from “Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations” (Martin Goodman) struck a chord:
Government without bureaucracy could operate successfully only if it was government with consent -even if the motivation for consent was ultimately the fear of extreme violence by the state as penalty for open opposition. Much administration, such as the collection of taxes at the local level, was in effect carried out on behalf of the state by local urban elites in return for Roman support of their local status. The success of government thus depended upon acceptance by provincial aristocrats of the value of honors and tites bestowed by local people and recognized by Rome. Much of the extant evidence for this “empire of honor” appears to confirm such a consensus. Inscriptions on monuments from all over the empire boast about the status of local magistrates and the favors granted to them, and through them to their communities, by governors and emperors. Such evidence suggests an integrated society of provincials willingly cooperating with a benevolent and responsive state. But of course only those individuals who accepted and benefitted from the system will have paid for such monuments to be erected…
…More significant than the overt recognition by provincials of their place in the Roman system of power was the nearly universal practice of patronage to give individuals of all backgrounds a sense of connection, however tenuous, between themselves and the emperor. Almost everyone in the Roman empire knew someone who knew someone who might be able to intervene, through however many links in the chain of patronage, at the center of power in the state…. But for the provincials far away from the locus of power in Rome, the most effective invocation of patronage ties was acheived either by traveling to Rome in person or sending an embassy.
I wish more people would explore the political goings-on in other countries in our part of the world, to see if some sort of patterns emerge to show whether or not politics as our part of the world practices it, has common characteristics. I believe it does: dynasticism, the single-part urge, tight connections between business and the political class, to name just three.
See also Sycip pitches Asian democracy model, more power to technocrats:
Although he was cut short of advising that the government should do away with the elections as this will curtail the rights of the people to vote, Sycip said legislators should be stripped off the powers concerning the economic matters of the country.
This would mean the rise of the technocrats, who should be insulated from the politicians. These select people will run the country’s economy and will have the necessary powers to immediately effect change or react in cases of emergency, such as the recent move of the US Federal Reserve to cut its interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point.
Sycip, 87, said these technocrats should be given powers like those of the Bangko Sentral’s, that can either raise or ease interest rates immediately without getting the nod of Congress or consulting the President.
He said with this type of system, the technocrats can even go against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, especially on family planning, in order to reduce the country’s population of close to 90 million.
Reading the dynamics of Japanese politics, see Japan’s Dilemma, where basically they have had single-party governance for close to six decades; or of the Taiwanese, see Taiwan Does the Presidential Math, where after decades of dictatorship they have developed a vigorous democracy, or Malaysia, see Malaysian Yumpies Just Wanna Have Fun (which suggests Tim Yap represents a regional Zeitgeist); or Thailand, see Thaksin’s Friends Are in Power, where they’re confronting the failure of their own version of Edsa Dos; the list goes on and on, as far afield as India.
In the blogosphere, Danton Remoto has a blog. His recent entries gives a pretty exhaustive list of senatorial candidates being proposed by the various parties. What’s amazing to me is that the parties are actively speculating on their senatorial bets -another sign of Arroyo fatigue? Or simply an admission by the entire political class -the leaders of all the parties- that they don’t intend to get anything done between now and 2010, so better to fuel speculation on elections they don’t even intend to have?
Torn & Frayed says the number of people who read books is dwindling:
Nevertheless and despite the terrible implications, I can’t help thinking that this is indeed “the twilight of the books”. As Samuel Johnson said, “people in general do not willingly read, if they have something else to amuse them”.
smoke takes a skeptical look at Christian Monsod.goodbye blue monday and Studentstrike continues the debate on the Left and Edsa Dos.. Re: the former, who asserts,
Sa paggamit ni MLQ3 ng resulta ng nakaraang eleksyon upang masukat ang laki at lakas ng Kaliwa kumpara sa mga dominante at pangunahing partido ng bansa, nakalimutan ata niya ang konsepto ng dagdag-bawas kung saan nabiktima ang mga kaliwang partylist at tumabo ng ganansya ang mga kandidato at partido ni Gng. Arroyo.
Uh, no. I considered that when I wrote:
Let’s argue the Left had only 1 out of every 4 votes cast for it actually counted, a potential constituency of 9,732,680. That puts it on parity with: Prospero A. Pichay, Jr. TEAM Unity – Lakas-CMD 9,798,355
Sa mga komento, binaggit din ni Manolo na “in retrospect, the resign all call was the correct one to make.” Hindi ba’t ito ay dogmatismo sa pinakapayak na depinisyon ng salita?
No. That’s an opinion, a change of mind because a reflection made in retrospect -the opposite of dogmatism which never permits the changing of one’s mind or opinions.
As for her assertion,
Salamat kung inyong kinukundena ang pamamaslang. Subalit hindi rin naman nakakatulong upang matigil ito kung patuloy na ilalagay sa margins ang kaliwa. Kung patuloy silang ikokonsiderang insignificant. Kung patuloy na sasabihin na hindi pa sila tanggap ng mamamayan kahit na ang kasaysayan na ang magpapatotoo sa kabaliktaran nito.
The following readings will be relevant. See the columns of Juan Mercado: Guarded skepticism, from June 20, 2006, Have-gun-will-tax collection, September 5, 2006; Cry of the widows, September 6, 2007, Those grisly secrets, September 12, 2006, and Those sealed graves, September 14, 2006 (which may or may not include information presented in The CPP-NPA-NDF “Hit List” – a preliminary report).
(As for Jose Ma. Sison himself, he says Three Governments Persist in Persecuting Me. And there’s a dossier on why Romulo Kintanar’s death shouldn’t be blamed on the politburo. And much exculpatory material.)
But the ultimate point comes from Miriam Coronel Ferrer’s presentation (in the Forum on Violence Against Movements, Movements Against Violence), reproduced in PATH sums it up perfectly:
The language of anti-communism remains effective, given a general antipathy to communism, and an increasing alienation of the citizenry to national politics. To those who have fallen for this anti-communist rhetorical hysteria (defined by Wole Soyinka, first African to win the Nobel prize for literature, as the one-dimensional approach to all faces of reality, however varied or internally contradictory), the killings are not a case of ‘slaughter of innocents’ given that these people are somehow allied with the CPP-NPA. They don’t think much about the fact that slaughter remains slaughter; that the basic principle of respect for human life and human dignity is for everyone, including the enemy number one of the state, and yes, including terrorists; that there are rules even in war that must be followed, notably distinction between those who carry arms and those who do not. Meanwhile, businessmen and professionals may be morally aghast at the unabated killings of alleged communists, but are not motivated enough to put pressure to stop it, until somehow, it starts hurting their economic interests, or their immediate environment. The middle class will continue to fight for their own means of survival regardless of the course of Philippine politics.
However, class analysis alone cannot explain part of the lingering potency of anti-communism. Part of the effectiveness of the language of anti-communism and resultant alienation is also due to the CPP-NPA-NDF themselves “their excesses (revolutionary taxation of rich and poor, infliction of punishments), own pandering of violence and machismo, their inclusivity and dogmatic framing of Philippine society and politics, and their counter-monologue to the state’s anti-communist mantra. The purges, the CPP-NPA-NDF hopefully recognizes by now, cannot be simply forgotten without full retribution and honest accounting before former and present comrades and the greater public. The ghosts of murdered comrades will haunt the party forever. And though not particularly convincing to explain away the recent spate of political killings among those who study their politics, and revolting for the disrespect shown the dead lying in mass graves, the purges of the 80s and 90s will remain scraps (war material) to poke around with, in the AFP and police forces’ psywar ops.
In all, taken in the context of an untransformed state and reform-resistant state elites, the language of anti-communism coupled with anti-terrorism is actually anti-left (because the communists do not alone make up the Philippine left), and even more broadly, anti anti-status quo. Thus while we have our differences with the communist left, and as human rights advocates, oppose terrorist methods, we cannot tolerate the rhetorical hysteria of anti-communism/terrorism. We cannot be unconcerned with the killings of branded communists/terrorists, because the label easily includes all of us unhappy with the status quo, and exercising our rights to express our beliefs.
That razor-sharp statement of essentials having been made, what now do we make of scuttlebutt that a retired general linked to the time of the fast and furious and plentiful liquidations of activists, has now received a new lease on life -as the Deputy National Security Advisor. This man, when still in the active service, seems to have born command responsibility for some of the killings. Back in the saddle again, is it open season on the Left once more?
Postcard Headlines on land reform.
And finally, a UP Student’s Manifesto.