Gathering at AIM: Randy and Karina David; Ang Kapatiran’s Nandy Pacheco
Doreen Yu and friend; CEAP with seminarians at vanguard begin march to Ayala
Students and seminarians on CEAP march
CEAP march; construction workers watch and cheer
Our flag waves in solidarity; Assumption students get roar of approval from all present
Benilde students arrive (La Salle Cavite students were stopped by PNP and only arrived very late)
Our march; the moment we converged with student groups
walking onwards; DLSU students forming ranks
Assumption students in force; this sign was a crowd pleaser
people converging; the white ponytailed man is Conrado de Quiros
Mr. Go of NMFREL with Cuisia and del Rosario of MBC; Mayor Robredo of Naga City
MBC delegation; people converging
SGV Chairman David Balangue; office workers peering from their windows
Prayer part of rally begins
Prayer part of rally ends with green balloons
Looking towards Roxas Triangle, looking towards the Ritz
Students from PUP; ADMU contingent
Peter Parker’s rap
More photos can be found in Tonyocruz.com and in Ceci’s Corner, and in The Black Bass, in The Macster, in Pilipinas Kong Mahal, in andrea’s corner and reylags, in Senor Enrique, in Felmar’s Missionary Journey, in Nel’s Site, and Site de Qiqo! and in the silent assassin and in (Mis)adventures and in Happenstance Tomfoolery and in l\l^l)i^’s siTe as well as in phantom and Out in the Open, and in Non-Operational Station! and in jillpadz and the message boards, Pinoy Photography and Dxyum Website (and don’t miss Market Manila’s photo essay on street food at the rally).
More on the rally: The mystery is why loyalists like A Simple Life claim the interweb has been deafeningly silent on last Friday’s Makati rally (as for the carping by loyalists, for example The J Factor, see ederic@cyberspace debunks them all). Aside from news accounts such as that of The Daily PCIJ (see Air space above Makati rally declared no-fly zone and also Masses, protests held in towns and cities nationwide Masses, protests held in towns and cities nationwide ) there are first-hand accounts, see Touched by An Angel (who has many links to other posts, too) and Tu devvais essayer, who was happy to make a stand; Secondlady’s Weblog was heartened by the event, too (hat tip: The Manila Blog Times), and Gatsulat and pinoy bochong, who was proud to be there; just as it was inspiring to see Assumptionists like drunk on love.. there, too, as well as kamasupra; while in a twisted little wish accompanied a student journalist friend. Snippet of dialogue overheard by Hoy Pinoy! too. See the account by The Philippine Experience. The dark underside of cramming so many people into the business district is recounted by Maniacal Menace. But for me, the best reflection and eyewitness account of all is over at Writer’s Block:
…I walked, and turned several directions, till I found myself, with other spectators, facing the march itself.
Let me describe what it was like: there were two marches — one was being taken to the streets by the activists, the youth, the Church, and other active members of the rally; the other one was on the sides, where the spectators eagerly and unconsciously followed the motion of the demonstration, taking pictures with their cellphones and climbing the railings or going the long way round. This, actually, is what is happening in our country now. There is the main demonstration, waged by the most militant groups, in resistance since Day One of Arroyo’s reign, and then there is the muted insurgency within the homes, in the schools, and even in government institutions, where those watching TV or reading newspapers mutter in rage over the new series of offenses by the government. They’re too afraid to take part in the actual march, but they share the same rage.
I belonged to the second batch. I tracked the march, through the railings, round the long route, until I found myself in the middle of an AnakBayan section of the rally. I made my way through the crowd, was sheltered by the Ateneans, and moving with the crowd made my way almost to the front. The rally itself was a half-rally, half-concert, and it was really heartening to see that the youth have made a niche in these demonstrations, and put their own touch to it. Between the one-liner or one-minute-lines of the main EDSA figures — Cory, Oscar Cruz, and even Estrada — were the rap/jazz/rock/folk performances of various groups.
I looked around, and the first thing I thought was: it’s not enough. I was animated at first, but immediately afterwards I thought that it wasn’t enough. The news soon trickled in: the police had tried to block several sectors of the rally — from Northern and Southern Luzon, and across the streets and boulevards — to reduce the numbers. The chopper, which appeared and maintained itself for a few minutes in the air around us, disappeared — apparently, ABS-CBN was blocked off from that section of the rally. And Lozada himself admitted that, even as he spoke, the government had resorted to death threats and attacks on his character. “Can you forgive me of these failures?” he asked the crowd, ever so conscious of his role. The crowd responded with a resounding yes. Sure, he may be a weak man, or no Saint. But the weakness of the character of a messenger does not, and cannot, diminish the character of the message. And then, I knew, in the middle of the rally, what we needed.
As a people, we have long harbored a grudge against Czarina Arroyo. In the government sectors, the Church, the masa, the youth, and even in the military and police, people have been wishing and praying for the end of her reign. In the Blogosphere, everyone is in a fit of rage over Czarina Arroyo’s latest failings — the ZTE, the Spratlys betrayal (she is courting China so badly). But not everyone agrees that she can be overthrown, that the People Power still has power. After all, the Czarina has survived a “masa” rebellion, two military coups, a series of violent demonstrations, multiple impeachment attempts, conspiracies within her ranks, and an election. She got away clean. How could this time be any different?
This is my answer to you. Three points. First, we are easily swept away with the blind ideal of clear and obvious results. We want the demonstrations to immediately force her to resign, as we did before in Marcos’ time, and in Erap’s time. I have said this before, and I will say it again: Not every autocrat is a good man. Marcos answered the First Quarter Storm with Martial Law, and the 1983 mass unrest with snap elections, which he hoped would stem the brewing rebellion. And, in the midst of People Power itself, his supporters tried to knock off the uprising, through separate violent encounters, culminating in a march by the military to EDSA itself. The international community stepped in, pressured Marcos to not lay a hand on these people…
Revolutions are not won by one or two large demonstrations; that was the mistake of the January Uprising (EDSA Dos). We forgot that before 1986, there was a 1983 Movement that eventually snowballed. The military rising was an accidental element. We tend to ignore that. Yes, revolutions are won by the acquiescence of the rulers, but even hardline autocrats also eventually cave to pressure. In that sense, I will admit that Nicholas II believed himself an autocrat who would resist the “heresies” of the liberals and the anarchists, and had no love for the liberal ways; but he eventually formed the Duma to appease growing unrest in Czarist Russia, as Marcos held a snap election to appease the growing unrest here… Revolutions are won, generally, by a sustained rebellion, in one form or another. It might have been working silently, as in the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 1960s or the Industrial Advancement in Europe in the 19th century, but it was sustained… We have to suffer, if we are to win.
Second, why do we keep forgetting that our continued resistance is actually working? No, Gloria’s still there, but we have made inroads. If Trillanes and the Magdalo, inspired by the resistance of the people, did not take to the hotel in Oakwood, would we have been warned of the plot to use the bombing in Davao as pretext for Martial Law? If we had not marched in 2005 amidst the Garcillano scandal, would we have inspired the members of the Supreme Court to trash the calls for “Constitutional Reform” by Arroyo elements? Would we have pressured Arroyo to distance herself from De Venecia when he called for the same “Constitutional Reform?” Would we have inspired elements of Arroyo’s government, as Manuel L. Quezon III relates, to thwart the continued attempts of Arroyo to declare Martial Law, in 2005 and in the overt State of Emergency of 2006? We did not overthrow her in that year, or the other year, or even these first few months, but we certainly brought her enemies to the Senate seats almost unopposed in the 2007 elections. We even shook her political base in the local government and in Congress, as was evidenced by Among Ed.
Are those not results? Even at this very moment, EDSA continues to win the institutions of society, and government. Magdalo was an indication. So is the militancy of Oscar Cruz and Panlilio. The students amassing in the streets in a yearly basis and the impeachments are an indication. The sight of taxi drivers, jeepney drivers, and common vendors watching the Congressional hearings on Garci, and the Senate hearings on ZTE, is well an indication. Yes, some elements of government are well unfazed. Our supposed weapon against future Marcoses, COMELEC, has been compromised. They may be, and probably will be lost. Then again, this is the sad truth, when we “prune” the tree that is our nation, of the rot. It is always painful. We are shamed that many of our elders, these so-called vanguards for the new generation, are corrupting our future, justifying that this is for our own sake. Let us turn to them now, shame them, and reject their offers to be the leaders of their order. Let us shame them, and make a better order, replanting in our children’s minds the EDSA that they forgot. Let us replant in all of us the EDSA that men like Ramos, the Fallen Senators, and the “barons” of Congress and the provinces have conveniently neglected and forgotten.
Third. Time and again, we say that one or another element of society will abandon the other’s uprising. We feel betrayed. We watched with bated breath, and disappointment as the Trillanes revolt was snuffed out, in 2003, then in 2007. We watched, in frustrated anger, as the CBCP rejected calls for a new EDSA, and instead asked for calls of overthrow through legitimate instruments. We took to the streets, to hotels, and to churches, and we raised our hands in victory, and went home. And always, it was the same — in EDSA, EDSA Dos, EDSA Tres, ad infinitum.
My friends, there is a scientific principle that goes like this: “An object that is at rest, stays at rest.” If we refuse to resist, we will condition our bodies to willingly surrender, however rough the violence or however much the abuse reaches a crescendo. At the very least, and fortunately, we are not in a state of rest. We are in a painful transition between rest and motion… What we do not have is inertia; we had momentum, but we did not sustain it.
Our demonstrations, our protests — our motion in general was focused on anger. This is a volatile, passionate, but scattered emotion. It forms the most fiery basis for rebellions; but it is also easily killed. Lozada, in his speech, warned that “we must not let this demonstration be impelled by anger; when the anger dies, we go home. We must be impelled by a need to serve, and to watch over the excesses of the government.” In short, we must be impelled by our obligations, and not by our tempers.
Our momentum was made and sustained by anger. And so we easily got distracted by other things: the ZTE controversy, the Garci Scandal, Martial Law fears, Cha-Cha, the bombings in Ayala and Batasan. The government knows this — why else do you think they move the media from one headline to another, as if we were living a teleserye? Doubtless our target was indirectly the same, but our energies were spent on the symptoms, rather than the disease itself: a system of government that makes Estradas, Arroyos, and Marcoses possible. We can at least learn.
I am not naïve enough to say that demonstrations will assure Arroyo’s overthrow. It did not force Suharto or Thaksin out. The 1983 rising did not pressure Marcos to resign. But the sustained rebellion had an effect: the two autocrats of Indonesia and Thailand were forced out by the military under the pressure of continued civil disorders. Marcos was forced to hold snap elections when the mounting pressure of the Aquino assassination added to the weight that the International Community brought down on him. No, no, no, Arroyo will not listen, as Pharaoh did not listen to Moses, but we will howl nevertheless. In the two years she remains in power, we will howl her in the streets, howl her in the courts, and howl her out of office. We will howl like mad, and make all of government tremble with fear. We may not have the power to forcibly take her out, but we have the power to pressure the elements of her government to keep her from remaining one day more. If we sustain our EDSA movement, we can be vigilant enough to take hold of her that one last day and try her for crimes against the nation. If we sustain our EDSA movement, we can kill the Arroyo government by electing new, idealistic blood to the Senate, and the House of Representatives (fingers crossed!) and other elements of government…
…We have ignored the EDSA Movement too long. Beyond the masa dispersals, the high profile exposes and uprisings, and the media coverage, the weight was carried by the priests, the journalists, and student activists. That is why they are killed. To the critics who say that we have to go through legal means, I say this: The EDSA Rebellion is seeking her overthrow both legally and extra-legally. Legally through the Ombudsman, the Courts, and the impeachment complaints. Extra-legally through the streets, and maybe through the military revolts. Don’t those cretins dare say that this is political adventurism in disregard of law, for EDSA works in the streets and in the courts. Men of God are dying to fight for the freedoms these cretins are too delinquent, afraid, or lethargic to take up. Mahiya naman sila…
…Inertia, inertia, inertia. I can’t stress this fully enough. We must discipline ourselves to continue to resist, long after the rallies have dwindled and the passion of the latest headlines have died down. We must head to the rallies — for it helps; at the sight of farmers and workers who have marched and labored their way to the big cities, so that their voices can be heard and be united with the students’, we are given a perspective that is not readily seen on a couch watching the latest news unfold on television. Beyond our short attention spans, and even when the demonstrations dwindle to mere hundreds, still we must keep the rebellion in motion. For only by standing in opposition can we not acquiesce to the continued erosion of our nation. To those who are still uncertain, a final line from Our Lord Himself: “if you blow neither hot nor cold I will vomit you from my mouth.”
If you blow neither hot nor cold, the nation will vomit you out.
The ever-wise Scriptorium ponders this entry, too. Svelte Rogue Reborn explains why the blogger attends rallies. What rallies represent is tackled by muse, memories and musings. And the aftermath is recounted by abashet. A reflection is offered up by Chronicles of the Daily Grind.
Read in Abraham Domingo Photography how LaSallians from Cavite were prevented from attending the rally by the police. This reminds me of something I heard someone say at a forum a year or two ago: please rally in Metro Manila, the person said, because in our province we cannot gather at the plaza because the warlords and police keep an eye on us and unlike in Metro Manila, no one will dare raise a fuss if we are intimidated or even disappear. A very valid point, and you only have to go down the list of warlords firmly allied with the administration to understand. Splice and Dice comments on the President’s seeking shelter in Camp Crame.
The Warrior Lawyer and Torn & Frayed have thoughtful analyses of the rally, while The View from Here continues to have reservations about rallies. Demosthenes’ Game lists his reservations about both sides. Ang Kape Ni LaTtEX is holding fire until 2010 leaves no room for debate (on whether the President intends to stay or not; personally, to me this will, indeed, be the ultimate tipping point). Iloilo City Boy won’t be satisfied with regime change. Simply Gemini is hostile to rallies, as is a_badly_drawn_boy .
As for the analysts, Mon Casiple in his blog writes,
The rallies are enough to shake the foundations of the House of the Arroyos. They cannot — on their own — bring it down, at least not yet. The more immediate impact would be on the Cabinet, the ruling coalition, and on the military and police support legs of the regime. The people in these institutions will come under intense pressures in the days to come to at least fall back in their defense of the Arroyos and, more likely, start negotiations on transition scenarios. The question of loyalties has now come to the fore…
There is already a vote for regime change among the people, particularly among those in the middle classes and the grassroots. The only agenda left on the political table is who will deliver the bacon first. There are acute maneuverings within and outside the ruling coalition and among the political elite to do so. A major tug-of-war will revolve around Vice-President Noli de Castro, the constitutional heir-apparent.
People power here cannot yet assert its own agenda — it is in fact still evolving its own beyond the call for truth and resignation or ouster. If the political elite fails to resolve the political crisis soon, this people power — shown in Makati — may surely come again with a definite program, definite leaders, and a definite strategy. If it does so, and assuming a more organized and stronger presence, it could very well overwhelm the various elite schemes and dictate the terms of regime change.
Today’s Inquirer editorial takes a look at last Friday’s rally, and says the enduring image it portrayed was of young students joining the fray, and that the President’s perched on A throne of bayonets. The editorial brings up a genuine issue concerning broken agreements. See Organizers regret Aquino, Estrada’s presence at rally. Blogger New Philippine Revolution appeals to the movement I belong to, not to push the issue, but the issue’s strongly felt by many. There will be fallout from Jejomar Binay’s decision to invite two former Presidents, Aquino and Estrada, on stage when many participating groups had opposed having politicians speak at all. The fallout was immediate: as j9, a student, recounts, after Estrada appeared on stage, La Salle pulled out of the rall at 6 pm. Other schools left, too, while others stayed. Hopefully, these issues will be threshed out in post-mortem meetings on the conduct of the rally. If political groups can moderate their greed, a stronger unity can be created. Personally, my view is former President Estrada is a free man precisely because of the administration; his drawing power has been enhanced by the Palace. What I object to, strongly, are the Macedas, the Tatads, etc. You cannot fight hakot with more hakot.
Meanwhile, Sylvia Mayuga entered the Twilight Zone: see Truth, Half-truth and Lie. And she has the veteran newshen’s eye for the telling detail:
By now, memories of “Hello, Garci?” whispered two words: “Rembrandt Hotel.” In the first heat of that scandal in 2005, a Palace source told me that Rembrandt Hotel was where Gloria Arroyo’s cabalen, KAMPI party leader and soon-to-be DILG secretary Ronaldo Puno (past master of dirty tricks operations in four presidencies, a fellow Atenean volunteered back then) was directing government “media management” operations. In 2008 Rembrandt Hotel was where the police team that picked up Jun Lozada at the airport suggested they bring him from Outback Restaurant.
This sort of weird experience is happening more and more, and let me just say this. I respect those who continue to have misgivings, who express irritation and even alienation with those who’ve decided to make a stand; one can only hope further discussion and dialogue will clarify matters for everyone. But I really have to wonder at some, not all, of those who criticize the critics of the President, while pretending not to be loyalists. But some undeniably are, but think that if they deny it, people will believe it. Why be ashamed of your convictions?
Two columnists said it best. From former Chief Justice Panganiban:
In the meantime, what should the citizens do? I say, rage on! Rage for truth! Press on with the demos. Make them more massive. Intensify the media blitz. Sharpen the Senate investigations. Hasten the Supreme Court decision that, I believe, would unshackle Romulo Neri. Fill our churches during masses for truth and justice. Pray with our bishops, priests and nuns until “communal action” shall lead us to a new type of people power that would liberate us from corruption and restore integrity.
Surely, when the people started protesting the Marcos dictatorship, few could have anticipated that those heady days would eventually lead to a peaceful change in the presidency, a triumph of truth and a victory for democracy. Umabot tayo noon, aabot din tayo ngayon! (We got there then, we’ll get there now!).
And read Patricia Evangelista’s eloquent The Center cannot hold. Seems so long ago when I wrote The Center must hold. As for the loyalists, the 2010 Movement has a manifesto of sorts, courtesy of Solita Monsod (my reply, in a comment in the previous entry).
A recent Inquirer editorial pointed out that the Palace is tripping up on one of its key messages to keep loyalists pumped up: “bring it to court!” But when someone did, well, read on:
Bring it to court, her spokespersons and her allies in Congress and in the local governments as well her apologists chime in. It is only there that the “real” truth can be brought out.
The groups Kilosbayan and Bantay Katarungan, led by former Senate president Jovito Salonga, have accepted the dare. Last Wednesday, they filed plunder and graft charges against Ms Arroyo before the Office of the Ombudsman. They know they can’t secure a conviction between now and 2010, when she leaves offices and sheds her immunity. But Salonga said there is nothing in our statutes that prevents the Ombudsman from investigating their complaint now…
And what does Malacañang say? That’s harassment, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo protested. Being a “staunch constitutionalist,” Salonga “should have waited for the Senate to end its investigation before filing any complaints … [E]veryone is jumping on the bandwagon of reckless judicial action against the President,” Fajardo said.
Is Malacañang getting confused, or is it trying to confuse the public? Arroyo administration officials and their allies have been demanding that the Senate terminate its investigation pronto. Now, Fajardo is saying it should be allowed to finish its investigation first before anybody files charges…
For all their avowals of interest in ferreting out the truth behind the ZTE-NBN deal, administration officials know there is no better way to keep the damaging details sealed than to take the issue out of the Senate and into the prosecution service. In the Department of Justice they can count on Secretary Raul Gonzalez to protect the President and her people at all costs. In the Office of the Ombudsman, Gutierrez can be relied upon to either dismiss any charges quickly, such as those against former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos and others involved in the P1.3-billion poll automation scandal, or to sit on them until hell freezes over, like what happened to the P728-million fertilizer scam.
In fact, cases have been filed against some of those involved in the ZTE-NBN deal, some as early as five months ago, but it was only last month that Gutierrez put together an investigating panel to look into those charges. And its timing created suspicions that the investigation was intended to keep some people from testifying in the Senate. A more recent case filed by Sen. Jamby Madrigal against airport and police officials who had a hand in Rodolfo Lozada’s abduction upon his arrival from Hong Kong has actually been cited by the accused as their reason for defying a Senate summons for them to continue testifying.
And to those demanding that the President lead the way by revoking her Executive Order 464 and Memorandum Circular 108, think again. The Business Mirror editorial last Friday, A mushroom shed, points out that the administration is focusing its energies on further restricting information:
For all the reputation of its staff for technical competence and integrity, outsiders now seem willing to believe any wild story about it because they do not get the right and timely information from the horse’s mouth. Why? Simply because that horse has been gagged, with the rest of the bureaucracy, by Executive Order 464 that prohibits officials from cooperating with congressional inquiries in ways far beyond the contemplation of executive privilege.
Now comes the report that, even as bishops have strongly urged President Arroyo to lift EO 464, Neda’s middle-level officers and technical staff are in a quandary because of a planned internal order that exacerbates the effect of EO 464.
The agency, according to this paper’s Neda reporter, is set to draft “guidelines for the dissemination of project information to the public.”
The decision to limit information coming out of the agency is said to have been inspired by EO 464 and Memorandum Circular 108, or the “Guidelines on Appearances of Department Heads and Other Officials of the Executive Department Before Congress,” and the pending court case filed by the Senate of the Philippines against the agency over the nonsubmission of project documents, such as the national broadband network that would have been done by Chinese firm ZTE Co. under a Chinese state-funded loan.
According to our report in this issue, reliable sources revealed that while EO 464 and MC 108 do not specifically state that members of the media are included in the coverage, Neda is taking a more conservative stance by not divulging any information on any project to any individual or entity.
Particularly, sources said, information that might be regarded as subjudice, pertaining to the case filed by the Senate which was recently remanded to a lower court by the Supreme Court.
In case of requests for documents not covered under the provisions set by EO 464 and MC 108, Neda, under the new guidelines being prepared by agency lawyers, will first seek the approval of the President. The justification: the Neda Board, the highest governing body of the agency, is chaired by the President.
What does this mean to the press, which is not covered by EO 464 and MC 108? It means they can have access only to official press statements and other similar documents deemed safe for distribution to the media or the public, in general.
The planned new policy is a throwback to the martial-law period. After 1986, documents or project-evaluation reports could be directly obtained from the Neda director general or any ranking official or from the specific staff or department concerned.
While EO 464 requires prior presidential approval for the appearance of officials in Congress, MC 108 covers the nondisclosure of information contained in conversations, closed-door meetings and information between inter-government agencies, among other things.
These two, along with the planned guidelines by Neda’s legal staff curbing media access to all project documents, are certainly bound to keep the public in the mushroom shed for much longer.
Ironically, there was talk on Thursday that Malacañang will try to deflate the political air generated by the much-anticipated February 29 protest rally in Makati City by announcing a relaxation or lifting of EO 464.
If the public were to get its signals from Neda, however, the mood in the Executive is still not toward more transparency and accountability, but more nondisclosure.
And so to those who insist, “where is your evidence?” Here’s additional evidence that the Palace’s only interest is to keep that evidence under wraps.
As Randy David said in his Saturday column,
It is true–politics is not exactly the best site to look for the truth. But then, neither is the justice system a privileged site for finding the truth. Indeed, a refrain we often hear from lawyers is that not all truths are admissible in court. It is clever for Malacañang to argue that the proper resolution of the ZTE-NBN controversy rests exclusively with the courts. Treating it as a purely legal matter is a way of suppressing the many other faces of truth.
What is at stake here is not just the legality or illegality of a contract. More than this, what is at stake is the power of citizens to hold their leaders accountable for decisions that are made in their name. Have these leaders been transparent and faithful to their oath of office? Or have they misused the powers and prerogatives entrusted to them? Such questions are decided not in court or in church but in the public sphere of politics, not by judges or prelates, but by a nation’s citizens.
We should wait for the next elections then, they tell us. Under normal circumstances, we should indeed. But if the electoral mechanism itself has been rigged and brazenly abused by the present leadership, shouldn’t the first step be to repair this vital mechanism of democracy and restore its legitimacy? This brings us to the key question: Do we still believe this is possible under Ms Arroyo? The truth has caught up with us. It is time to face it.
And meanwhile? Undermined institutions will, indeed, continue as such, as blog@AWBHoldings.com explains.
And the movement for people to operate within their circles of influence continues. See the petition at Ateneans Act.