Friday, along Ayala. Some people preferred to be at the sidelines.
Office types stood and watched. Marchers congregate.
Office types and families stood at the sidelines. Another view.
Another view. Red Cross volunteers at a first aid station
Saturday: as preparations took place, LSGH held its Junior Prom at the gym.
Jun Lozada prepares for the grueling “Harapan” interview (see in on YouTube).
Lozada hooked up for sound; begins his 3-hour confrontation.
Sunday, 7 a.m. Nuns arrive; ushers double-checking plans
Ushers prepare to go to their stations; Nuns survey the gym
Early birds at the gym; venue begins to fill up
mainstream and new media: Mike Enriquez and Dean Jorge Bocobo (see his slideshow of the event!)
Bleachers fill up; participants, old and young
Thomasians in school colors; gym fills up
Scenes from a gym
views of the gym
views of the gym
views of the gym
views of the gym
Fr. Francisco’s homily; with gym and canteen full, people spill over to football field
canteen spillover; singing “Bayan Ko”
Young and old singing “Bayan Ko”
Bleachers singing “Bayan Ko”
Clergy (including Dominicans) and laity singing “Bayan Ko”
As people emerge…
Crowd in the field salutes those who were in the gym and canteen.
The Senate hearings continue, today. See Inquirer.net’s running account of the hearings.
Besides the the best that the administration being able to manage to do, was to crowd a restaurant with officials (and issue panicky warnings), the most interesting thing to me about Friday’s rally and Sunday Mass, was what took place in the sidelines. Friday’s rally was a morale booster for the Left and the UNO, but it also involved workers from Makati offices who dashed down to watch and clap during their breaks and families from what formerly used to be the President’s constituencies, who simply showed up to make the point that henceforth, they intend to be interested and engaged in what’s going on.
These small clusters of people on the sidelines -I am not alone in observing this interesting phenomenon last Friday, see a published e-mail from Fr. Eliseo Mercado– and its flowering on Sunday cared less about what was being said during the rally, and more about simply making a stand in a small way. Some hadn’t shown up at any rallies since 1986; others, since Edsa Dos. Mon Casiple calls it The epiphany of the Middle Class. In the entry, he zeroes in on the significance of this reawakening:
The dramatic street play may or may not come to pass but all political actors are now constrained by the middle class’ political stand.
What does Casiple mean? Observe how some of the Middle Class who went to Makati ended up disillussioned, as Jessica Zafra recounts (see also Patricia Evangelista’s column, Liars); no such worries or fallout from the Sunday Mass, which means this will become the antidote to street-type rallies, since they are more hakot-proof (what is the definition of hakot? Bringing people who neither understand nor care what an issue is about, to a gathering, simply to give the impression of popular participation; this is different from a committed group mobilizing its supporters who share the common cause).
With regards to this, a conversation I had with a professor from UP illustrates what the constraint on the various political groups will be. He came up to me and told me he hadn’t been in any political gathering since Edsa Dos. But he’d gone to the Mass because “it’s just too much, already.” But he said his own preference was for a real, genuine, impeachment in October, in which he saw little rational prospects for the President to be acquitted. And thereafter? “I think it’s clear that Noli could not possibly be worse than what we have now.” But if so? “People will be much more determined not to cut him or anyone that follows any slack.”
Another interesting thing is that sectors formerly deeply divided are gingerly coming closer to healing those divides. The President is a master of fostering divisions but seems weakened in maintaining them.
For example, while UST, which has great sentimental ties to the Macapagals has been largely silent since 2005, on Sunday groups of Thomasians showed up in their school colors and Dominican priests concelebrated the Mass; and while the Assumption Convent continues to express solid support for the President, the people at the Mass let out a gasp when a delegation of Assumption nuns participated in the Mass (not to mention the students, like Assumptionista i am obsess, who defied her school’s ban on student participation in rallies!). A student from La Salle Bacolod (a city where 2,000 had gathered for a mass last Friday) texted me this, a short while ago:
Hi po. Magandang hapon. We the polsci students believe in Lozada.
Last Saturday, the Inquirer editorial summed the attitude of such people: “Bring it on”! And on Sunday, the Inquirer editorial (which cites the President’s Friday speech and a Financial Times story) pointed out why the President speaks with a Forked tongue.
Meanwhile, Ricky Carandang says we live in a “Bizarro World.” Indeed, I believe, as my column for today puts it, that This too shall pass. There is the question of the Catholic hierarchy and even clergy’s involvement in the whole issue. See Randy David’s Saturday column, Should bishops lead political actions? Though I must say Fr. Francisco’s homily served as a reminder of the powerful and beneficial role an engaged clergy can play in clarifying things for society, politically.
At the end of my column, I tried to underline a point raised by Mahar Mangahas in his column, Social volcanology. This is the point Mangahas made:
I disagree with those who think that Filipinos have turned numb and no longer feel much social outrage. I sense that much outrage is underground, and can pack as much energy as a volcano…
Both EDSA I and II were brought closer to the surface by mass protest rallies, in 1984-86 and in 2000-01, but they were ultimately triggered by unexpected, highly publicized, events: the Fidel Ramos-Juan Ponce Enrile breakaway in February 1986, and the non-opening of the “second envelope” of evidence in the Joseph Estrada impeachment trial in January 2001. The former was brought to public attention by radio, while the latter was seen live on television by four out of every five Metro Manilans. (In the final stage of the trial, most Filipinos, including those who considered Estrada guilty, said they would respect a Senate decision not to remove him from office. Thus the overkill of the “second envelope” led to Estrada’s downfall.)Of course, the timing of triggering events is unpredictable.
The ability of these events to stimulate mass action is partly due to the public certainty that they were not stage-managed. People Power and volcanic eruptions are equally unpredictable.
The title of today’s entry is taken from Shakespeare, from Henry V (watch the scene in YouTube; had to link as embedding video kept screwing up the layout of this page; or you can read about it in Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more).
Another apt title could be lifted from The simmering pot, in Mon Casiple’s blog. He says a new factor has entered the equation:
The difference today from similar occurrences in 2005 (Garci tapes) and 2006 (state of emergency) is the emerging broad consensus to end the GMA term sooner than 2010. Previous differences among the broad opposition are dissolving in recognition of the widespread unpopularity of the Arroyos and the activism of the middle class. The engine of disenchantment is fueled by middle class discontent (such as over the massive corruption, the rapid weakening of dollar vis-a-vis peso, scarcity in the local job market, GMA Marcosian tactics, and the specter of 2010 elections cancellation and continuing Arroyo rule). Two recent events — the JDV ouster and the Lozada abduction — are being seen by the middle class as indicative of the ruthlessness of the president’s team in their drive to maintain the power. It has led to their defending Lozada and to their manning the frontlines of the movement against GMA.
The great unknown, he says, is not if, but when, the pot boils over:
Is it the tipping point? I don’t think so — yet. However, this particular pot simmers, and if it continues to simmer, will ultimately boil over. The rallies, the masses, the statements, and open positions — all these are but prelude to a great political act by the middle class.
All the ingredients for people power are already in place and there is the momentum. Having said this, they are not yet ripe and are still undergoing the process of maturation. How long this process lasts depends on more events that logically should happen.
My browsers have been groaning under the weight of bookmarks and so I thought I’d present a sampling of different bloggers’ views on what’s going on. Marvelous, indeed, is Scriptorium, who compares 1986 to 2008, and the lessons learned (or ignored) since then:
What is it with the Comelec (komisyon on elections) and its leaders, we ask? We should have learned from 1986, I think, that the structural checks to Presidential power like Congressional impeachment and Comelec supervision don’t work unless they’re backed by institutional tradition as with the Senate and the Supreme Court, or by ideological focus in the case of the Church and the Communist Party. Without a tradition or ideology of independence, officials’ conduct lapses into a pure pragmatism founded on financial interest, which makes the Comelec and the Congress pliable to Executive manipulation.
…This makes us ask: Where are the heroes today who will oppose law with justice, might with right? They are still here, I believe, with different faces and names, the women and men who will defy a dictatorship in the name of truth. Ed Panlilio, beleaguered by cash-armed opponents using the oh-so-honest Comelec to get their hands on Pampanga’s cookie jar; the Hyatt 10, the Kapatiran leaders, and numerous others who left their government posts (in Atty. Harry Roque’s case, an ultra-plum PCSO directorship) to protest the fraud perpetrated the Arroyo Autocracy. Some, like De Venecia and Jun Lozada, are johnnies-come-lately who defected through force of circumstance; but, as the lives of Boethius and St. Alphonsus Liguori demonstrate, even those with initially imperfect motives may become heroes at the time of testing.
A general roundup can be found in Global Voices Online. A big deal? A Simple Life thinks not: and wishes it would all go away.
On a vaguely related note, see the amusing take on the scandal-as-drama courtesy of paolomendoza.
On a precisely related note, with all the large numbers being mentioned, DAKILA breaks them down. Read the relevant numbers and weep.
It’s interesting how people have been following the Senate hearings. See My Life and Inspirations (Feb. 8), Take it Easy, Smile (Feb. 11) who feels overhwelmed, and Sabistski Point (Feb. 12),while [slap happy] .an OFW (Feb 10) says the whole thing is fascinating and urges people to follow the hearings and make up their own minds. AKOMISMO Vol. II is using the whole thing as a teaching aid. the in’s and out’s of the twisted mind of the nomadic asian polar bear says it may sow the seeds for change (Spendor of Creation on Feb. 7, called it the need for “positive politics”). Law and ICT reflects on government projects in general. As does Lofty Quest.
There is, first of all, the question of Jun Lozada (who originally irritated My Croak). You can’t beat the extended Star Wars-based analysis (see Sylvia Mayuga, too) by big mango:
What was Yoda to do if he won his contest against Palpatine? Palpatine and his Sith Order had adapted. Yoda knew at that moment that Palpatine’s Sith Order had turned war into a weapon and that the Jedi still fought the Sith Order as if they were an army to be destroyed. It was why the Jedi failed. People didn’t want the Jedi. They wanted the Sith Order to rule. They wanted “peace, order, security.”
Yoda could have “won” that contest against Palpatine and in the processes would have become the very thing he fought against. He would have had to become Emperor himself and the turn the Republic into a Jedi Empire. How would that theocracy be better than a Sith one? Theocracy, Yoda knew was not the way.
People who wanted change had to fight for what they believed in and the Jedi should not be above them— but along side of them. In many ways those who want change and I count myself amongst that rank, we need to reinvent the way we strive for change. Reinvent how to fight war, just as the Jedi did. The romantic notion of street protests alone as a path to change is no longer enough. What must accompany it is a groundswell of effort.
A lot of people are asking why Congressmen who side with Arroyo still hold their jobs. The short answer is because good men and women don’t rise up to challenge them.
In Star Wars lore, the Sith people went extinct. not just because of constant war, but because the Dark Lords had interbred with the Sith. As our country is constantly led by people who value treachery, greed and lust for power, so too will most people adapt to those concepts as being the norm.
Also, people have taken to discussing Lozada in terms of his writing. There was his piece on Neri’s attitudes, (incidentally, Atty-at-Work quotes a comment appended to the piece, concerning one effect of the OFW phenomenon: detaching people from engagement in the political system) nd there is another piece, which people have taken to titling Mindsets of Inaction (I first saw the piece in village idiot savant; the piece has been endorsed by Lozada’s own nephew, so I take it as an endorsement of its being genuine), as discussed by former priest Ed dela Torre in his blog entry, A Peek into Jun Lozada’s Mind. A previous entry by dela Torre, Reinterpreting Rizal’s Ideas in 2008 is equally interesting, in which he probes Lozada’s keen interest in Rizal.
A radical offering up a glimpse into another’s radical thoughts, is, I think, something that requires reflection. The radical is dismissive of the limits imposed by the status quo, viewing those limits with neither affection nor veneration. This explains why a radical can be deeply embedded in the system, claiming to hold on to idealistic notions while being part of the system’s sins of omission and commission. This is why Lozada can preach love of country today, yet been found to be implicated in the wrongdoings of officials.
Lefthandledlayup (Feb. 11) says Lozada has no real friends. Tingog.com doesn’t think Lozada is hero, but he has the chance for redemption. Viloria.com suggests this, too.
Lester Cavestany identifies three crucial questions:
1) How come there are people who are not disturbed by Lozada’s testimony in the ongoing Senate hearing about the ZTE-NBN scandal?2) Why were there so many high-profile people who tried to stop Lozada from testifying in the Senate?3) Where do we go from here?
Strangely enough, I found my answers in studies made on battered women.
Those who express support for him (and the reasons why) ranges from a government worker, Irish’s Site (Feb. 8) to coffeeLover::::brattygurL (Feb. 11) to i like taho for breakfast (Feb. 12) to a slice of wine.. and a shot of cake.. to a Thomasian, Planet Earl ; for a post-mortem on Lozada’s Saturday evening grilling, see smoke (royally pissed off), live.laugh.sparkle (who felt the opposite way) to Leslie’s Crazy World!!! who heard about it from her mother, and (apropos to those who think Lozada has a point, but bring it to court, like Ang Pagbabagong Buhay) see Uniffors:
To Golez, who said let the courts decide, Lozada said we have a legal system but we have no justice system.
While those who continue to harbor doubts, ranges from Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas! (Feb. 8) to smoke (Feb. 13; yes two citings in this entry: she’s been on a roll); (among columnists those swinging from caution, to initial support, then swinging back to hostility because their close friends are affected includes Solita Monsod; on the other hand, columnists like John Nery say: be conscious of the nuances).
And there are those who express outright skepticism or hostility, from Beauty in the Breakdown to and Phoenix Eyrie, Reloaded (February 9).
A foreigner’s point of view: Torn & Frayed (Feb. 10):
I can’t see all this going anywhere. The Senate can expose the administration’s failings as much as it likes but an impeachment motion has to begin in the House and last Monday’s ousting of the Speaker by the pro-Malacañang block indicates that the president’s control over that body is stronger than ever. Lozada’s explosive testimony reminds me of Perfecto Yasay’s during the BW scandal all those years ago: explosive, but too far from the real center of power to prove fatal. Only when Gloria meets her Chavit — when someone in the inner circle finally turns the screw — will we see a “For rent” sign outside the palace.
There, too, is the decline and fall of Joker Arroyo: (though there are exceptions: Brown Monkey Theory said Joker made sense, too) particularly his fall in reputation as expressed by young people like memento and miss_choi, and lawyer marichu lambino, also, achacs den while faculty like USLS CAS Faculty Issues and Advocacies pointed out,
Joker Arroyo unwittingly hit on the truth when he asked Jun Lozada to explain why he didn’t go to London, as indicated in his travel request form, when he was already in Hong Kong. When Jun Lozada tried to explain that he never really intended to go to London (he didn’t even have a visa) and that his bosses knew about this Joker almost shouted and said “What your telling us that all these government officials are in conspiracy with you!” Hello Senator Arroyo, are you there sir?” Senator Arroyo, who used to be my idol, is certainly losing it. He must have been the only one in that room who didn’t know that yes, all of them from Litong Lito and Defensor, to Atty. Bautista (barred from teaching in UP and Ateneo for some kind of a misdemeanour involving a female student kuno), to Razon and Defensor, all of them were in a conspiracy to keep the truth about the NBN-ZTE deal from the Filipino people.
Snippets contrasts Lozada, on the other hand, with Miriam Defensor Santiago (see also Insert Foot in Mouth!). A contrasting view from Mad Musings of a Matabang Mama from Muntinlupa. Then again, Thirtysomething v.4.3 was unimpressed by Mad Miriam. 3sa doesn’t like the senators, period.
As for the question of Friday’s rally (lots of nifty pictures, by the way: see i will be a hot dancer, and Shooting for God’s Glory, Reggie… or NOT!, Nina’s Life Chronicled, as well as Wish You Were Here, and Oh Mickey you’re so fine you’re so fine…,) in Philippines Without Borders he was surprised to hear, on Thursday, that middle class office types intended to go.There’s this account by The Warrior’s World, who participated, having last taken part in a rally in the 1980s:
Today, I decided to make a stand and be counted. Even for a short while, I joined the crowd at the corner of Ayala and Paseo. Though i miss the fervor, the hysteria and the intensity of rallies in the 80s, i am glad i was there. kakaiba naman kasi talaga noon…
The wind of change is blowing… i was surprised to see that the crowd earlier where not your usual rallyista. there were expats, yuppies, makati executives. They were there, mingling with the masa.
The numbers may not be that huge, but at least i saw for myself there was something different.
There are those who expressed support, and were fairly pleased with the results. See and Half-swing (who likes the fact the politicians took the hint and didn’t make themselves the center of attention). Only God Can Judge Me comes out swinging at the rally’s critics.
And those who express opposition to the idea of rallies: see some are students, see wonderstricken: waking up creativity and A million girls would kill for my waistline.
As well as outright indifference: see LittleMisssPerplexed and paperchimes.net. Or who believe there are valid points raised by rallies but who, like Musings of a Media Strategist turned Retirement Strategist, who simply feels unworthy to be there. Steadiness… hates rallies because he thinks you should simply shoot all the crooks. Celebrating Life’s Journeys didn’t like the rally but offered up a prayer for Lozada.
Concerning Sunday’s mass,prior to it, Philippine Commentary has a bitch fight with Manoling Morato; leading up to it while ...strawberry-filled donuts… (Lozada’s nephew) was depressed, then cheered up; there are eyewitness accounts from SamutSari and Torn & Frayed (who also takes stock of the President’s situation), as well as Blood Sky, who said it best:
Day after day after day of hearing nothing but bad news, of hearing nothing but lies and cover-ups, of divisions, of graft and corruption, of killings and robberies, in this one morning, I saw and felt, unity. Under the roof of that gym, I saw and felt people of various walks of life from various sectors of society, just throw away the lines that clearly divide each of them, and come together to support a good man, a man who had the courage to just stand up to all of the farce, to all the deception and the coercion and just speak out the truth.
That kind of intense feeling burns deep in you when you experience it first hand. Even more when you see that everybody around you responds to it, accepts it and allows it to make them free. That’s how I felt the entire time, and even more so, near the tail end of the celebration, when they played “Bayan Ko”, and I saw the entire gym, myself included, raise our right fists up the air, as we sang that song, all the while feeling a chill down my spine as I heard every single one in the gym (well maybe not the younger generation who did not reach or have the opportunity to appreciate the song) sing with their hearts, sing with all passion.
I have seen many calls for change in this country. I too have taken let that call flow out of my mind, heart and mouth before. I wrote before that it does require a revolution to start change in this country. But it is not the revolution that a lot may mistake it to be. The Philippine society, not just the government and our leaders, but all of us, from the bottom all the way up, need to do a major examination of ourselves, and undertake the painful task of removing/changing all the deeply entrenched nuances and behaviors that we possess that cause our nation to deteriorate. These problems go way beyond the issue of corrupt officials. We can remove each and every one of these named perpetrators, remove every one in the current bureaucracy, even change the platform and type of our government. But if the behaviors, the nuances and the dysfunctional and distorted beliefs and ideals remain the same, then all those changes won’t mean anything. It’s just the same cycle all over again, with a new face plastered over the old one. SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT COLOR.
Change has to start somewhere. And if it isn’t apparent to the higher-ups, who somehow still continue to delude themselves into thinking that everything is peachy-keen, that everything is just fine and dandy, well let another concerned Filipino citizen add to that call. WAKE THE FUCK UP, IDIOTS!! Your shit has hit the fan and we all know its you guys. Everything’s over but the shouting. We’re all tired of the charade that all of you continue to put before us. We just want to go on with our lives, working hard to earn our keep, paying our dues without having to worry so much about our lives getting fucked over.
A very interesting observation, about the way people raised their fists during the singing of “Bayan Ko” during the Mass, from stuart-santiago:
…the singing of bayan ko, brought goose pimples. what a rare sight. the church-going middle-class with fists raised, many with great gusto, some self-consciously, and a few who just wouldn’t, or couldn’t, yet. oh, and one who flashed the L (laban) sign instead. never mind, they’ll get around to it, once they’re mad enough, and engaged enough, in the struggle for nation.
so is this a triumph for the communist left, that the raised fist has become the signal, too, of middle-class resistance? i think not. i think it’s mostly just the appeal of that palaban posture – it feels right (never mind that it’s left) and feels appropriate to the situation, as in dramatic and fraught with tension. ideologically, however, the middle-class is more rejectionist (RJ) than reaffirmative (RA) of joma sison, which is a great divide.
so how do we tell them apart, the true leftists from the bourgeois middle-class? i’m not sure about RJs, but certainly RAs raise left fists, burgis churchgoers raise the right.
A reflection, too, from filling in the blanks. And opposition to it from +livin’ lovin’ mania+ who says Lozada’s playing God, and Idiosyncratic Philosophy Leading to Infinity ; while are indifferent.
Then on the question of the President (who inspired a poem written by Chances in the Starlight) of whom The Write Stuff says the problem is her husband and kids. For all summers disease it’s a case of first things first: first the President, then the rest. But Spring Roll thinks all the right stuff are missing, thoughts echoed by Bong Austero who says this:
Let me get this clear: This administration is hopelessly corrupt beyond redemption and the sooner we get rid of these people, the better. But it’s not just these people. And removing this administration, and mainly by embarrassing and ridiculing it — which, also harms business and ourselves — should not be the only goal. A major reason why this administration is still in power is because most think that the people who are itching to replace this administration are doing so mainly for personal political gain. That may not be entirely true, but that’s the message people are getting. A taxi driver I talked to said it well: Better the thief that has been unmasked and has seemingly no pretensions of being moral than the people who claim to be imbued with stronger moral fiber.
But I have to ask: is he casting the net so wide, that it guarantees even the whales wriggle right on through? This extract from Brown SEO says it all:
This friend of mine which we shall name Tin and I had a heated debate on the capacity of the current government to govern its people that we began comparing the misgivings of one government to the other starting with the one deposed by the current regime.
Tin said: “Erap was tactless and other than being corrupt he was arrogantly corrupt. He was so arrogant that he even wags his corruption in front of his underlings. He wags his misdemeanors in front of his Military Generals… Imagine, he was supposed to attend a military parade to inspect the troops and he comes in a few hours because he was dead drunk the night before and he was complaining of a hang-over… they lost respect for Erap bringing him his own downfall. GMA inspite of her corruption she was well meaning to hide them under the table to keep them from the publics scrutinizing eyes… She was well bred enough to keep her slimy hands inside her pockets while Erap was not.”
To which I replied: “And so because GMA is able-bodied to keep her dead in her closet and she’s really good at that you would still permit her to stay in power? Don’t you think we should be more careful of her because of that? We never know perhaps one day it’s your family’s carcass inside that closet as well as our country’s well being.”
I understand her point well. As if saying that being able to hide ones own evil is a skill or a taste of genius, or to vehemently proclaim justice and yet get away with ones own farce is considered gifted in the realm of politics.
And this reflection, by bitchology 101, who is a nursing student:
it just made me wonder how the people in our government can tolerate hundreds or million dollar corruption when the people they are supposed to be serving couldn’t even manage to have a life decent enough. it made me contemplate again, having such kind of public officials, will there still be hope for this country? coz I’m starting to fear for my own future too.
my friends and i have been talking about that for some time now. Normal for soon to be graduates, i guess. we’re just thinking of the P70,ooo+ our parents spent solely for this sem, and the P15,000 they still have to provide for us when we review in summer. we were disillusioned by the belief that we can start working by the end of this year already(that is if we passed the board) and then we can start earning back all the money spent for our uber expensive education. but we were greatly disappointed upon learning that our monthly allowance today is even higher that the salary that we will be having as nurses. Add the fact that it’s so hard to look for a job these days, that is according to some our co-tams from the higher batches. so i guess it will really take time before i can be able to give back to my fam, and even much more time before i can finally work abroad. i still have a decade or at least half a decade to spend and to suffer here in Pinas. sigh.
it’s too bad that we’re still 2 years away from the 2010 elections. just like what’s been said in the news in chan7, there seems to be a “people power fatigue” coz more Pinoys are now apathetic of what’s happening. cant blame them. nakakasawa naman talaga. paulit-ulit lang, wala naman ding nangyayari. parang red bull si GMA eh, ang bumangga giba. punyeta. bleh.
oh well, what else can we do but go on with our lives right? and i guess pray, pray hard for a miracle. ganyan talaga ang buhay Pinoy. miserable but still nice in a lot of weird ways. 😉
Finally, here are today’s readings.
First, the Sunday homily of Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J. He differentiates legal truth from the truth necessary to reach conclusions about an administration’s fitness to govern:
RECLAIMING OUR HUMANITY
MASS FOR JUN LOZADA
LA SALLE GYMNASIUM, GREENHILLS
17 FEBRUARY 2008
Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J.
On this Second Sunday of Lent, during which we are asked to reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, I wish to touch on three themes that have to do with our moral transformation as a people: first, Ascertaining Credibility; second, Rediscovering our Humanity; and third, Witnessing to the Truth. In so doing, I hope to invite all of you to reflect more deeply on how we, as a nation, might respond to the present political crisis in which our identity and ethos, our convictions and integrity, in fact, who we are as a people, are at stake.
I. ASCERTAINING CREDIBILITY
Jun, as Sen. Miriam Santiago has grilled you to ascertain your credibility (or was it to undermine your credibility?), allow me to raise some important questions to consider in the very process of discerning your credibility. Allow me to do so by drawing on my own counseling experience.
Very often, a young rape victim initially suppresses his or her awful and painful story, indeed wills to forget it, in the hope that by forgetting, he or she can pretend it never happened. But very often, too, there comes a point when concealing the truth becomes unbearable, and the desperate attempts to supposedly preserve life and sanity become increasingly untenable.
At this point the victim of abuse decides to seek help. But even after having taken this step, the victim, devastated and confused, will tell his or her story with much hesitation and trepidation. It should be easy to imagine why. In telling the truth, one risks casting shame on himself or herself, subjecting oneself to intense scrutiny and skepticism, and jeopardizing one’s safety and those of his or her loved ones, especially when one dares to go up against an older or more powerful person.
Similarly, it is easy to imagine why Jun would initially refuse to challenge the might of Malacanang. Who in his or her right mind would accuse Malacanang of crimes against our people and implicate the First Family in a sordid tale of greed and corruption, knowing that by doing so, one endangers one’s life and the lives of his or her loved ones? We are, after all, living in dangerous times, where the government has not hesitated to use everything in its power to keep itself in power, where it has yet to explain and solve the numerous cases of extra-judicial killings.
But Jun is in his right mind. His story rings true especially in the face of the perils that he has had to face. And by his courage, Jun has also shown that it is not only that he is in his right mind; his heart is also in the right place.
Hence, my personal verdict: Jun, I believe that you are a credible witness. And if hundreds have gathered here this morning, it is probably because they also believe in you. Mga kapatid, naniniwala ba kayo kay Jun Lozada? Naniniwala ba kayo sa kanyang testimonya? Kung gayon, palakpakan po natin ang Probinsyanong Intsik, si Mr. Jun Lozada.
Jun, we hope that by our presence here, you may find some consolation. Pope Benedict XVI writes that “con-solatio” or consolation means “being with the other in his or her solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude.” Jun, be assured that your solitude is no longer isolation as we profess our solidarity with you. Hindi ka nag-iisa. We are committed to stay the course and to do our best to protect you and your family and the truth you have proclaimed.
II. REDISCOVERING OUR HUMANITY
What makes Jun a credible witness to us?
I think Jun is credible not simply by virtue of his being an eyewitness to the unmitigated greed of some of our public officials. Perhaps more importantly, Jun is credible because he has witnessed to us what it means to be truly human.
Which leads me to my second theme: What does it mean to be human? How might we rediscover our humanity?
Allow me to quote Pope Benedict XVI, who in his latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, has written: “the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme. Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life becomes a lie. . . For this … we need witnesses — martyrs …. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort, even in the little choices we face each day.”
Our Holy Father concludes, “the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity.”
Isn’t this the reason we emulate our martyrs: Jose Rizal, Gomburza, Evelio Javier, Macli-ing Dulag, Cesar Climaco and Ninoy Aquino? They have borne witness for us what it means to be truly human — to be able to suffer for the sake of others and for the sake of the truth.
I remember Cory recalling a conversation she had with Ninoy while they were in exile in Boston. Cory asked Ninoy what he thought might happen to him once he set foot in Manila. Ninoy said there were three possibilities: one, that he would be rearrested and detained once more in Fort Bonifacio; two, that he would be held under house arrest; and three, that he would be assassinated.
“Then why go home?” Cory asked.
To which Ninoy answered: “Because I cannot allow myself to die a senseless death, such as being run over by a taxi cab in New York. I have to go home and convince Ferdinand Marcos to set our people free.”
Witnessing to one’s deepest convictions, notwithstanding the consequences, is the measure of our humanity. Proclaiming the truth to others, whatever the cost, is the mark of authentic humanity.
Jun, we know you have feared for your life and continue to do so. But in transcending your fears for yourself and your family, you have reclaimed your humanity. And your courage and humility, despite harassment and calumniation by government forces, embolden us to retrieve and reclaim our humanity tarnished by our cowardice and complicity with sin in the world. You have inspired us to be true to ourselves and to submit to and serve the truth that transcends all of us.
III. WITNESSING TO THE TRUTH
This leads us to our third and last theme: witnessing to the truth. In his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII exhorts that it is the fundamental duty of the government to uphold the truth: “A political society is to be considered well-ordered, beneficial and in keeping with human dignity if it grounded on truth.” Moreover, the encyclical explains that unless a society is anchored on the truth, there can be no authentic justice, charity and freedom.
Every government is therefore obliged to serve the truth if it is to truly serve the people. Its moral credibility and authority over a people is based on the extent of its defense of and submission to the truth. Insofar as a government is remiss in upholding the truth, insofar as a government actively suppresses the truth, it loses its authority vested upon it by the people.
At this juncture, allow me to raise a delicate question: At what point does an administration lose its moral authority over its constituents?
First, a clear tipping point is the surfacing of hard evidence signifying undeniable complicity of certain government officials in corruption and injustice, evidence that can be substantiated in court.
Hence, during the Marcos Regime, the manipulation of Snap Election results as attested to by the tabulators who walked out of the PICC was clear evidence of the administration’s disregard for and manipulation of the collective will of the people in order to remain in power..
During the Erap Administration, the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, claiming that Pres. Erap had falsified Equitable Bank documents by signing as Jose Velarde, was the smoking gun that triggered the rage of our people.
Allow me to respond to the same question by pursue an alternative track of argument: an administration loses it moral authority over its people when it fails in its fundamental duty to uphold the truth, when it is constituted by an ethos of falsehood. When a pattern of negligence in investigating the truth, suppressing the truth and harassing those who proclaim the truth is reasonably established, then a government, in principle, loses its right to rule over and represent the people.
Regarding negligence: Do the unresolved cases, such as the the failed automation of the national elections, the fertilizer scam, the extra-judicial killings, and the “Hello, Garci” scandal, constitute negligence on the part of the GMA Administartion to probe and ferret out the truth?
Regarding covering-up the truth: Does the abduction of Jun Lozada and the twisting and manipulation of his narrative by Malacanang’s minions constitute concealment of the truth? Was the padlocking of the office of Asst. Gov’t Counsel Gonzales who testified before the Senate regarding the North Rail project anomaly an instance of covering-up the truth?
Regarding the suppression of the truth: Does the issuance and implementation of E.O. 464, which prevents government officals from testifying in Senate hearings without Malacanang’s permission, constitute suppression of the truth? Was the prevention of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Senga and six other officers from testifying before the Senate with regard the “Hello, Garci” scandal tantamount to a suppression of the truth? Was disallowing Brig. Gen. Quevedo, Lt. Col Capuyan and Lt. Col. Sumayo from appearing before the Lower House an instance of hindering the truth from surfacing?
And regarding harassment of those who proclaim the truth: Are the abduction of Jun Lozada and the decision to court-marshall Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan for disregarding Malacanang’s order not to testify before the Senate examples of punishing those who come forth to tell the truth?
By conflating one’s responses to all these questions does one arrive not at hard evidence showing culpapility on the part of some government officials, but a ghestalt, an image which nonetheless demands our assessment and judgment. I invite all of you then to consider these two methods of evaluating and judging the moral credibility of any government, the moral credibility of our present government.
Allow me to end with a few words about an Ignatian virtue, familiaritas cum Deo. To become familiar with God involves the illumination of the intellect, coming to know who God is and what God wills. But it also involves the conversion of the affect, the reconfiguration of the heart. Becoming familiar with God entails trasforming and conforming my thinking, my feeling and my doing in accordance to the Lord’s, which can only be the work of grace.
Familiarity with God thus entail rejoicing in what God delights — the truth; abhoring what God detests — falsehood; being pained by what breaks the heart of God — the persecution of truth-seekers. Familiary with God means sharing the passion of God for the truth and the pathos of God whenever the truth and the bearers of truth are overcome by the forces of the lie.
On this Second Sunday of Lent, as we contemplate the transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Horeb, we pray that our hearts and minds be so transfigured and so conformed to the mind, heart and will of the Jesus, our way, our life, and our truth.
May the Lord bless and protect you, Jun, and your family. May the Lord bless and guide us all into the way of truth. Amen.
Second, the statement issued by former members of the cabinet, etc. for other officials to come forward (for background, see Calls for Arroyo, Cabinet members to resign mount and Ex-Cabinet men ask Arroyo officials in telecoms deal to resign):
TIME TO GO: A CALL TO OUR COLLEAGUES IN GOVERNMENT
We are former government officials who have held high positions in the current and previous administrations. Having participated in the highest level of governance up close and personal, we now feel compelled to speak up for our demoralized public servants and arrest the decline of our institutions of governance. In the past, many of us kept quiet, going on about our daily chores, attending to business as usual.
However, over the last few days, we, together with the rest of the country, have seen one man — Jun Lozada — finally decide that he can no longer be part of the massive graft and corruption that permeates this government. His testimony exposed that the corruption in the project he dealt with — the NBN ZTE project — is standard in what he called “dysfunctional government procurement processes.”
Clearly, what Jun Lozada knew so terrified the powers-that-be that they unwittingly exposed what Jun called “the dark side of the state” — state-sponsored terrorism that had been rearing its ugly head in the various disappearances and extra-judicial killings in the past six years — and which almost took him as a victim in a botched kidnapping that the administration has been trying, with little success, to cover up.
In a sense, all Jun Lozada did was to confirm what we already know: Our country is sliding into moral decadence. He also confirmed the systematic destruction of our democratic institutions and the systemic nature of our problems. We have seen this in the wanton disregard of checks-and-balances; abuse of the powers of the President; the cooptation through patronage and outright bribery of the other branches of government; politically sponsored corruption, facilitated, not thwarted, by bureaucratic procedures; the naked use of power and authority through the PNP, PSG, NAIA, among others, to strangle the truth; and the deployment of cabinet, sub-cabinet officials, and the military to obstruct justice and cover up illegal orders and acts.
In the past, for too many times that we were confronted with threats to our democracy and to our moral values, our response was: “What can we do about it? What is our choice? Who will lead us?”
These questions persist but, today, we can no longer stay silent. We can no longer ignore the reality of a government gone wild, wreaking havoc on our rights and institutions in a climate of impunity. We can no longer console ourselves in the strength of the peso, narrowing deficits, and an expanding economy. Even these ephemeral gains have not translated into a better life for the majority of our people, especially the poor.
The future of our country is at stake. Our democratic institutions are under attack. What we stand to lose is the moral fabric of our society.
We call on all government officials — Cabinet Secretaries, Undersecretaries, Heads of Agencies — who know about these anomalous transactions to join the heroic stand of Jun Lozada to come forward and speak out. We call on all those who know about the extrajudicial killings and disappearances to go public and tell the truth. We call on all those who can no longer endure this wrongful governance, with its structures of evil and unmoderated greed: IT IS TIME TO CUT CLEAN! IT IS TIME TO GO! .
Tama na! Sobra na! Panahon na!
1. Florencio Abad (Former Secretary of Education)
2. Tomas Africa, (Former Administrator, National Statistics Office)
3. Rafael Alunan III (Former Secretary of Tourism)
4. Tomas Apacible (Former Commissioner of Customs)
5. Senen Bacani (Former Secretary of Agriculture)
6. Angelito Banayo (Former Secretary of Political Affairs)
7. Romeo Bernardo (Former Undersecretary of Finance)
8. Gerardo Bulatao (Former Undersecretary of Agrarian Reform)
9. Clifford Burkley (Former Undersecretary of Social Welfare and Development)
10. Ramon Cardenas (Former Head of the Presidential Management Staff)
11. Jose Cuisia (Former Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)
12. Sostenes Campillo (Former Undersecretary of Tourism)
13. Karina Constantino-David (Former Chairman of the Civil Service Commission)
14. Elfren Cruz (Former Head of the Presidential Management Staff)
15. Isagani Cruz (Former Undersecretary of Education)
16. Teresita Quintos Deles (Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)
17. Benjamin Diokno (Former Secretary of Budget and Management)
18. Quintin Doromal Sr. (Former Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Good Governance)
19. Franklin Drilon (Former Executive Secretary)
20. Narcisa Escaler (Former Ambassador to the United Nations)
21. Jesus Estanislao (Former Secretary of Finance)
22. Fulgencio Factoran Jr. (Former Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources)
23. Victoria Garchitorena (Former Head of the Presidential Management Staff)
24. Ernesto Garilao (Former Secretary of Agrarian Reform)
25. Peter Garrucho (Former Executive Secretary)
26. Jose Luis Gascon (Former Undersecretary of Education)
27. Marietta Goco (Former Chairman of the Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty)
28. Jose Antonio Gonzalez (Former Minister of Tourism)
29. Milwilda Guevarra (Former Undersecretary of Finance)
30. Cielito Habito (Former Secretary-General of the National Economic Development Authority)
31. Edilberto de Jesus Jr. (Former Secretary of Education)
32. Philip Ella Juico (Former Secretary of Agrarian Reform)
33. Antonio La Viña (Former Undersecretary of the Environment and Natural Resources)
34. Bienvenido Laguesma (Former Secretary of Labor and Employment)
35. Lina Laigo (Former Secretary of Social Welfare and Development)
36. Ernest Leung (Former Secretary of Finance)
37. Josefina Lichauco (Former Secretary of Transportation and Communications)
38. Narzalina Lim (Former Secretary of Tourism)
39. Juan Miguel Luz (Former Undersecretary of Education)
40. Felipe Medalla (Former Secretary-General of the National Economic Development Authority)
41. Jose Molano Jr. (Former Executive Director of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas)
42. Vitaliano Nañagas (Former Chairman of the Development Bank of the Philippines)
43. Imelda Nicolas (Former Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission)
44. Roberto de Ocampo (Former Secretary of Finance)
45. Oscar Orbos (Former Executive Secretary)
46. Ernesto Ordoñez (Former Secretary of Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects)
47. Victor Ordoñez (Former Undersecretary of Education)
48. Cayetano Paderanga (Former Secretary-General of the National Economic Development Authority)
49. Jose Pardo (Former Secretary of Trade and Industry)
50. Vicente Paterno (Former Minister of Trade and Industry)
51. Felicito Payumo (Former Chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority)
52. Pete Prado (Former Secretary of Transportation and Communication)
53. Cesar Purisima (Former Secretary of Finance)
54. Victor Ramos (Former Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources)
55. Amina Rasul (Former Chairman of the National Youth Commission)
56. Alberto Romualdez Jr. (Former Secretary of Health)
57. Albert del Rosario (Former Ambassador to the United States of America)
58. Francisco del Rosario (Former Chairman of the Development Bank of the Philippines)
59. Ramon del Rosario (Former Secretary of Finance)
60. Melito Salazar (Former Member of the Monetary Board, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)
61. Leticia Ramos-Shahani (Former Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs)
62. Cesar Sarino (Former Secretary of the Interior and Local Government)
63. Juan Santos (Former Secretary of Trade and Industry)
64. Corazon Juliano-Soliman (Former Secretary of Social Welfare and Development)
65. Hector Soliman (Former Undersecretary of Agrarian Reform)
66. Mario Taguiwalo (Former Undersecretary of Health)
67. Jaime Galvez Tan (Former Secretary of Health)
68. Wigberto Tañada (Former Commissioner of Customs)
69. Rene Villa (Former Secretary of Agrarian Reform)
70. Veronica Villavicencio (Former Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission)
71. Deogracias Vistan (Former President of the Land Bank of the Philippines)
And finally, the statement of the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines, calling on member schools to engage their students in efforts to understand what’s going on:
Speaking Truth, Seeking Justice
Setting Things Right
CEAP on the Events of our Time
February 14, 2008
“No lie can live forever,” said Carlyle. “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again,” added William Cullen Bryant. And forty years ago, Martin Luther King cried:
On some positions,
Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?”
Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?”
Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?”
But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”
There comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe nor politic nor popular;
but one must take it
because Conscience says, “It is right.”
Following his conscience, Rodolfo Lozada Jr. these days has revealed possible corruption in the handling of government contracts. His confession has stirred memories of other allegations by other people of graft and greed in government, and is shaking the souls of many to speak and act in response.
What of us, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), an association of 1,252 schools, colleges, and universities with at least 2 million students and around 120,000 school personnel and faculty?
We too must speak, we too must act. For, as the same Martin Luther King continued, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter.”
Silent then we must not be or must no longer be, if once we were. May not our lives end but rather begin in a special way this Valentine’s Day. Beyond the love we are expected to declare for the persons of our hearts, is the love for the people of our country that we are invited to express in this time of crisis in our land. Mere bystanders we cannot just be but active participants in the continuous task of shaping our nation’s life. In the words of Vaclav Havel, “By perceiving ourselves as part of the river, we take responsibility for the river as a whole.”
For those of us who know the truth, we pray for the courage to speak it. For those who seek justice, we pray for humility in the pursuit, personal integrity in the quest, respect for others involved in the search. For those of us who must judge and act on what we see and hear, we pray for fairness and the will to make the good triumph over evil in a way that removes the bad, without the act leading to what is even worse.
In tandem with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) we invite our member schools and their constituents, our alumni and friends individually and communally to pray for guidance on what to do in these times of tension and difficulty. We ask our administrators, faculty, and students to bring to the fore the issues of the day, discuss in humility and decide in fortitude and love what we must do together as a people in the different parts of the country where we are.
We must seek to discover the educative moment and the lesson for life in the investigation sessions and in the rallies and other mass actions we may join. To our country and the world we must show and say that we will not allow dishonesty, corruption, indifference or neglect to rule our lives. We must look into ourselves and ensure that what we decry in others we do not do ourselves.
We should pledge to continue to teach and live truth, honesty and integrity in our own schools so that when our graduates leave us they bring with them not just skills and knowledge but wisdom and love to inspire and change the world.
To this end, we link up with other groups sincerely searching for truth and justice. We encourage the establishment of truth centers in our schools so that our students, teachers, and staff are led to continuing awareness, reflection, and formation toward social-political engagement. We invite our members to support the sanctuary fund set up by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP). We support the signature campaign demanding the implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision junking Executive Order 464 so that the search for truth is not hindered or compromised.
Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life we shall continue to ask to lead us, accompany and comfort us in all we need to do. It is He, after all, who will truly set us free. The Holy Spirit we ask to enlighten us so that our external actions flow from inner harmony of heart. We remember the words of Will Durant: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” So we ask our Heavenly Father for the grace that we never neglect but ever firm up the moral fiber of our souls.
Our anger at the wrong and sinful things in and around us may we not allow to make of ourselves men and women of violence. We take to heart the thought of Martin Luther King: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence, you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
May our light dispel our darkness, may our love melt whatever hatred may lurk within. But in this Kairos moment, this time of grace, we, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, with all men and women of good will, in our nation and in the world, in the name of the Lord, by the grace of His Spirit, in concert and in communion call on ourselves and one another to — speak the truth, seek justice and work to set things right.
CEAP National Board of Directors