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Mar 03

The Explainer: Truth or Consequences

That was the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” scene from the Walt Disney classic, “Fantasia.” Like Mickey Mouse, the more government’s tried to fix one p.r. problem, the more problems it’s created for itself. From Jun Lozada’s abduction to the present, the tangled stories of the administration have turned into quite a sticky web indeed.

In the face of so many official lies, a clamor for the truth has emerged.

The past month has seen a new force enter the fray, a force with burning idealism but also, a startling conservatism, even pragmatism. That force is the youth. We’ll meet one such group, tonight.

It’s Fair Hope of the Motherland Night on The Explainer. I’m Manolo Quezon.

 

I. A tale of two courts

 

In the face of the persecution of former government fixer Jun Lozada, Rep. Mikey Arroyo’s advice to the Filipino people is bring it to court.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/editorial/view/20080301-122097/Unsealed

But as the Inquirer editorial on March 1 pointed out, when former Senate President Jovito Salonga and Kilosbayan filed charges before the Ombudsman, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo called it “harassment.”

Let me suggest that what we see here, is a living example of how, in a democracy, at least, every public official must plead his or her case before two courts. Officials have no choice but to submit to both.

Let’s review this theme, which I introduced to you two weeks ago.

The first is the court of public opinion, played out in the Senate, in media, and the streets, where what’s at stake is your job.

And the second court is the court of law where the accused can be accorded the finest defense of their own choosing. Which is only fitting and proper, because what’s at stake in criminal and civil cases are one’s life, liberty, or property, which public opinion has no business deciding whether you should keep or lose.

Most people are moderate, and so while they’ve judged some issues such as NBN-ZTE as important, politically, they still want them to lead to some sort of closure, legally.

The problem for those who are moderate is, there are immoderate influences on unearthing evidence that goes beyond testimony.

Right now 464, is the best example of this. It’s a family of obstruction that includes  Memorandum Circular 108, but also, general claims of executive privilege, even when lawyers agree executive privilege doesn’t cover criminal acts.

Many groups have appealed to the President, to revoke EO 464. Her response, so far, has been as follows.

On February 27, Secretaries Mendoza, Favila, and Ermita held a press conference to insist absolutely nothing’s wrong with the NBN-ZTE deal.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080227-121452/Scrapping-EO-464-requires-careful-study–DoJ-chief

And Secretaries Ermita and Gonzales have played for time, hoping to convince the CBCP that even if the President revokes EO 464, the use of executive privilege and other means to shield executive officials will be allowed.

This is despite Bishop Legaspi pointing out that the bishops hoped the President, in the interest of full disclosure, would refrain from invoking executive privilege, period.

http://businessmirror.com.ph/0229&012008/opinion01.html

Last Friday, the Business Mirror editorial reported that the NEDA’s drafting new regulations, to prevent access to information. Same EO 464 dog, but with a secret collar.

And government officials have also stopped attending the DOJ hearings.

The result is that tempers flare, and people are pushed to take a stand, not because they want anything extreme, but precisely because their requests are so reasonable and yet constantly rejected.

And yet there’s hope and it’s in the form of public pressure. The equally comatose Ombudsman, for one, finally began investigations because the public demands it.

Take these Assumption students who were there, in Ayala Avenue last Friday in force;

[Credit: http://better-days-are-here.blogspot.com/2008/03/makati-inter-faith-rally.html ]

And take their fellow Assumptionist, the President of the Philippines, who did this on Friday:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080229-122015/Arroyo-holes-up-for-3-hrs-at-PNP-monitors-interfaith-rally

And of course, as you know, who also banned helicopter coverage of the event.

Yet for some, even if the buck stops at someone’s desk,

should it stop there? Is this only about one family and its henchmen?

Can you separate issues from personalities? Our guests tonight would like to hope so. They will make their case.

When we return, a gang with a plan that goes beyond the usual suspects.

 

My view

 

Our guests tonight represent, literally, something new.

Beginning in 2005, whether in Metro Manila, Cebu, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa, Baguio, everywhere and anywhere at all, people like our guests tonight always had three things to say.

First, they were watching. And judging, and learning.

Second, they knew the mistakes of the past, and didn’t want to repeat them.

Third, they knew changes were made, and that our country is about more than political musical chairs, it has to be about righting the wrongs, and making things better.

That requires both a change in men, as it might a change of men.

Increasingly, people like our guests are taking a stand, and their stand is frightening, because unmanageable, and unpredictable, to the political pros.

It has put political dinosaurs like Ernesto Maceda and Joseph Estrada in their place; it has startled civil society and other groups long engaged in battling this administration; it has pressured elders in our institutions who have tried disguise their timidy as prudence, and it has shamed the President and her people.

Those of us who have strong points of view have everything to gain and nothing to lose by engaging advocates like our guests tonight, in dialogue.

Together, we may discover we can finally arrive at the kind of answers that leads to real and long-lasting solutions.

Maybe not today, but sooner than we ever thought possible. They are, after all, the fair hope of our motherland, and once again, hope burns brightly from Aparri to Jolo.

 

 

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