The right fight at the wrong time?

Of the accounts and commentaries on the Pacquiao-de la Hoya fight, I enjoyed those of The Warrior Lawyer -first on the boxing of the thing (see the links in The Age of Brillig, too), then the economics of the sport and the match- and the broadside against the actual broadcasting of the match, by Bong Austero, the most. Former Socialist rebel and priest Edicio de la Torre (hat-tip, GlobalVoices) ties in the match with the death of a young actor that marred what was otherwise a morning of national rejoicing (see also A Filipina Mom Blogger).

No one has pointed out what a remarkable image, and what a remarkable campaign, this was:

Snapshot 2008-12-07 13-55-12

Here in one image, all the the things that people think matters to people (including themselves):

1. Faith and Hope

2. Perseverance of the Underdog

3. The will to win of the Champion

4. Community & Solidarity

5. Material Success & its Manifestations

The website featuring this image, takes it even further. People were given the option of adding their personal “prayers, wishes or dedications” for Pacquiao. In one fell swoop, popular instincts were marshaled and put on display:

1. The Community Spirit

2. Patriotic Feeling (versus Nationalist Chauvinism)

3. Racial Vindication

4. Individual Empowerment

5. Religion’s Role in Everyday Life

In contrast to all the positive things above, take a look at this remarkable video:

All the negatives, in contrast, are on display:

1. Class Resentment

2. Mistrust of Officialdom and the Institutions they Dominate

3. The Language and thus, Educational Divide

4. Citizens’ Feelings of Powerlessness

5. The Absence of a Genuine and Legitimate Rule of Law

Both campaigns, mind you, are highly effective, and are brilliant messaging efforts. But to my mind, the power of the first -based on aspirations– trumps the power of the second, based on reality on the ground.

A proposed solution will always be stronger than a non-solution; by this I mean that a proposal for change will have greater drawing power than a stubborn insistence on the status quo.

Since 2005, let’s not forget that the House of Representatives has had a working draft of the Constitution, as it wants to see that Constitution after amendments are accomplished:

Matrix House Proposed Charter Amendments

Nothing suggests that these fundamental objectives have changed. Much has been made of the absence of any concrete document detailing the changes, particularly to the economic provisions of the Charter, but I think that there’s no reason for such a document to be released to the public, because the proposed changes have been clear to those interested in them, from among the ruling coalition, for some time.

As for public opinion concerning these proposals, take a look at this presentation, containing information on public opinion used during the 2005-2006 Anti-Cha-Cha campaign (at the beginning of the campaign, it seemed 44% of the public favored Charter Change, with only 40% opposed; but as Serge Osmeña, a firm believer in the use of survey information for strategizing campaigns pointed out, if you took a close look at the supposed 44% for Charter Change, a significant chunk was for it on the assumption that it would help remove the President; therefore, they were susceptible to being swayed to joining the ranks of the Antis):


If nothing fundamental has changed in terms of the aspirations of the ruling coalition (unicameral parliamentalism), I don’t think anything fundamental has changed in terms of the fundamental political preferences of the public (bicameral presidentialism), either. Economics remains a powerful argument, but that argument is weakened by questions over the political motives of the proponents of Charter Change.

This is where what helps foster Charter Change within the ruling coalition, harms its prospects when it comes to public opinion. It matters to members of the House, that the President’s sons are so conspicuous and that her pet party, Kampi, is taking such an active role; their prominence, however, leads to public mistrust of the proposals and the proponents.

In his blog, Mon Casiple details where the House effort is at and the long ways it has to go:

The GMA forces in the House are crowing about a 183-strong signatory to a House resolution for the convening of a Constituent Assembly. This particular resolution–reportedly being passed around by the Arroyo sons directly–has not even been filed and contained no particular provisions to amend. They are publicly proclaiming that the 196 three-fourths vote required to pass a constitutional amendment in a joint-vote Con-Ass will be theirs.

Of course, the passage of such a resolution is just the first round in a four-round Cha-cha bout.

The second round is the expected Supreme Court battle over the joint-vote Con-Ass. A February 16 retirement by SC justice Adolfo Azcuna is eyed by GMA political strategists as the golden opportunity to appoint a pro-GMA justice in order to firm up the shaky alignment in the current Supreme Court.

The third round is the convening of the joint-vote Constituent Assembly to actually pass the necessary amendment or revision of the 1987 constitution by shifting to a parliamentary system, extending the terms of office of elected officials, or by simply allowing the president to run again for reelection. This is where the 196 captive votes will come in handy, ramming through by brute force such an amendment or revision.

The fourth round is the conduct of the plebiscite on the GMA extension in power, possibly by corroding and influencing the Commission on Elections.

Like the Pacquiao steamroller win over de la Hoya, the GMA strategists imagine doing it over the Cha-cha opposition. The GMA congressmen are raring to do it in the next days to come.

The legal issues that have to be sorted out are explored by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ in The ‘ifs’ in Charter change and Speak tenderly to Jerusalem on Cha-cha (see also former Chief Justice Panganiban’s articles). Essentially, Bernas (rather glumly) admits the Constitution he helped write, has provisions on amendments written in such a manner as to require some sort of resolution by the Supreme Court to sort out it’s meaning (in marked contrast to Dean Jorge Bocobo’s strong belief the Charter is immune to being interpreted in any but a strictly bicameral way).

So what is the opposition to the House proposals up to?

On December 10, the hierarchy and the Catholic Schools will mount a protest at the gates of the House of Representatives, for Land Reform and against Charter Change at the present time. The hierarchy apparently shares the concern that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will not be extended by Congress, as the landlord bloc in the House wants to end Land Reform.

On December 12 there will be an inter-faith rally in Makati City.

Here is a tactical question: both rallies require a turnout at least as large as the February 2007 Makati City rally. If neither rally -or if both rallies- fails to match those numbers, the Palace and the ruling coalition, at present spooked by the possibility of a massive turnout, will get their second wind. The President herself, if you’ve noticed, doesn’t seem to have unleashed a torrent of cash, which means she’s either hard-pressed to scrounge it up, or is holding back. But if the much-feared mobilizing power of the Catholic Church proves a dud, or the public shrugs off Charter Change by avoiding the rallies, then the President may decide to bet and bet big on Charter Change.

In December 2006, the House, lacking the votes to bring the Charter Change case to the brink of a full-blown Constitutional Crisis, blinked and folded in the face of a threatened Church mobilization. But the Church itself, suddenly getting cold feet because it was worried about a People Power situation, and inflexible in its determination to purge the Luneta rally of anything smacking of the “political,” declined to mobilize fully. A lot of finger-pointing and recriminations then took place within the ruling coalition, basically along the lines of “well, what do you know, they weren’t so strong after all”. Although to be sure, this was also meant to enfeeble Jose de Venecia, Jr.

The ruling coalition’s ranks already having been purged of JDV and his ilk, and with many more shepherds to guide the ruling coalition (a more effective Speaker, Nograles, the President’s two sons, and Rep. Villafuerte), with a hard-line cabal in the Cabinet composed of durable political operators, the President might just be inclined to see where this will go. Personally, I think the one to watch here is Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and his empire-building efforts in the power sector. How his efforts prosper will clarify whether an alliance has firmed up with the President, making it more economically rewarding for him to pursue an extension of the current regime rather than embarking -and placing his bets- on influencing the next government.

But even as I point this out, something else is bothering me.

Both protest activities (December 10 and 12) make me think that we really ought to ponder whether camouflaging political action with the cloak of religion is healthy.

A couple of years ago, during a forum held by a foreign chamber of commerce, one Filipino expressed frustration over the timidity of the hierarchy and I responded by saying that perhaps this was a good thing, as reducing the political influence of the Catholic Church was better for the country in the long run. Since then I have become increasingly concerned with preserving the secular nature of our state (see The secular ideal) while ensuring freedom of conscience for practicing Catholics (see Faith and morals).

Making religious observance the central focus of political action dates to martial law, when public gatherings were hampered and regulated by the dictatorship, and when Communists needed to find a way to pursue their United Front tactics while dodging the accusation that they were promoting a Godless ideology. Religious rites helped keep political action focused on peaceful, non-violent resistance and kept the brutality of the martial law regime in check.

But the (unintended) consequence of all this has been to make the Catholic Church and in particular, the hierarchy, political players of consequence to an extent that would have been intolerable to past generations.

On one hand you have the Catholic Church effectively mobilizing to block the Reproductive Health bill, and on the other, mobilizing to keep Land Reform legislation alive. Tolerating the former because of the need for a force capable of mobilizing to promote the latter is a Faustian bargain. It only serves to underline the inherent contradictions in what’s going on, because it introduces the element of sectarian morality into the political sphere. Yet it may be the wrong place for that: after all, what is the political benefit of organizing around the celebration of the Mass, when the President can organize her own Masses, too? What is the use of one bunch of prelates if another will publicly support the administration?

For politicians, partisanship is not only to be expected, but natural; for bishops, the clergy, and their rites, it is, somehow, incongruous. At the very least, marshaling religion for one side only permits marshaling religion for the other; it does not introduce anything new nor does it offer any real opportunity to break the impasse the country’s been in, politically, since 2005. It only fosters the impression both sides are cynically using faith as a camouflage for politics, when the onus should be on those who should be in the dock for using official patronage as a means to court clerical support.

What makes me anxious, though, is that I think the President’s camp, if it decides to continue the brinkmanship Charter Change will entail, has latched on the right ingredients for successfully pursuing a campaign, while the opposition to the President and all her works will find the going tougher this time around.

But then again, there may be a reason why there is the perception that there is a conventional wisdom: and that is, that the gut instincts of those who believe that brinkmanship over the Constitution will truly mark the point of no return and defeat for the administration, are right.

Looking ahead, Congressman Ruffy Biazon thinks amendments are in order, eventually. That is assuming three things. First, that a real consensus concerning the need to amend exists (only within the narrow confines of certain groups does such a consensus exist, methinks). Second, that there are qualified people to ponder on and propose amendments (particularly if convention delegates are chosen by popular election). And third, that the amendments would accomplish some good.

The reactionary in me takes a skeptical attitude and would rather ponder what so many of our elders pointed out, which was, the desirability of restoring the 1935 Constitution, which worked without a hitch so that it took a dictator and a craven court to eliminate it, and which proved so difficult to replace an elected Convention bickered and squabbled its way into co-optation and scandal. As was eloquently pointed by the late Teodoro M. Locsin in Farewell, my lovely! in 1986.


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    • anthony scalia on December 9, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    the need to amend the present constitution arose on 3 February 1987

    • manuelbuencamino on December 9, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    And the problem with a pact with the devil is only the devil has the option to renege.

    I agree, it’s dangerous politics to march behind the cross.

    • BrianB on December 9, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    “Both protest activities (December 10 and 12) make me think that we really ought to ponder whether camouflaging political action with the cloak of religion is healthy.”

    MLQ, Manuel,

    You’re forgetting not every Filipino believes in absolute separation of Church and state in much the same way that Republican Americans don’t believe in it.

    There’s nothing wrong with combining numbers with people who look at the church for guidance in most things. Anti-Gorias are not all liberals, hopefully.

  1. Manny Pacquiao is a great sportsman who has brought great honor to the country. But if we look at at all the importance that Malacanang is giving him,we should seriously consider giving him the highest honors that a grateful people can give him…the Presidency.

    • DJB on December 9, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    To establish their present Rules, the House and Senate each voted separately to adopt the same process they use for passing bills when proposing amendments or revisions to the charter.

    Although the charter is silent on the matter, the Congress itself thus settled the ambiguity when the House and Senate each separately voted to adopt the present Rules on HOW they will exercise this power.

    Both House and Senate Rules uphold the normal legislative process where House and Senate vote separately to propose charter changes for plebiscite.

    In doing so, the Congress has obeyed the Constitution to the letter since the present Rules comply enirely, exactly and arithmetically with the Constitutional requirement.

    Now, it is entirely conceivable that House and Senate could change their rules and, still in complete compliance with the Constitution, decide that henceforward, charter changes may be proposed by the Congress meeting in some special Constituent Assembly in which the distinction between locally elected Congressmen and nationally elected party list reps and Senators will be dispensed with and the Members of both houses will vote as individuals.

    But even such a decision to vote jointly on proposed changes, must itself first be established by separate votes of House and Senate to adopt those new Rules! It cannot be imposed by a Supreme Court decision that the Congress ought to adopt “voting jointly”. even if “voting jointly” would not violate the Constitution, because “voting separately” also does not violate the Constitution!

    The House by itself, cannot just change its Rules and impose its will on the Senate because it is precisely to the Congress, that constituent power to propose charter changes is vested, not the House. Otherwise the text should have said so.

    Not even a UNANIMOUS vote by all of the House Members on a mere Resolution of the House of Representatives can call the Senate to a flag raising ceremony. They know it. The SCoRP knows it. The Palace knows it.

    Only Villafuerte and the Kampisinos are insisting that what the plain language of the Constitution is actually saying is something like this:

    Any amendment to or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by the House of Representatives, upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members plus eighteen.

    In effect, the theory of Villafuerte is that the Constitution has vested the power to propose amendments and revisions of the Constitution in the Lower House albeit with a slightly higher than three fourths majority rule required.

    Perhaps that is why all it took was a Minute Resolution to dismiss Adam Relson Jala’s recent prayer for an advisory opinion to be issued by SCoRP on “voting jointly” and “voting separately”.

    • Bert on December 9, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    The palace is taking lessons from Manny Pacquiao on how to subdue the opponent. Where physical strength is present and sheer brute force is all there is necessary to accomplish a task then the next best thing to do is to make mincemeat of the opposition.

    That’s the old reliable law of the jungle.

    Fortunately the majority of the people is in the way.

    Thank goodness!

    • Jon on December 9, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Some people though believe that it’s okay to do the Cha-cha now and just resolve the problems later when they come. (e.g. If Gloria manages to insert a provision so that she can stay in power beyond 2010, then we go to the streets and protest!)

    I think that this reactive stance is no good.

    • Jeg on December 9, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Both House and Senate Rules uphold the normal legislative process where House and Senate vote separately to propose charter changes for plebiscite.

    The other side will argue that this isnt ‘normal legislative process’ and is therefore not covered by rules regarding legislation. The ConAss isnt a legislative body anymore.

    • Geo on December 9, 2008 at 6:38 pm


    The administration, from top to bottom, left to right, is corrupt, inept or both.

    Here are all the other institutions that can’t be trusted:

    1. Congress
    2. SC
    3. AFP (and PNP)
    4. Ombudsman
    5. JBC
    6. Comelec
    7. CBCP

    —A message from your local, unelected, “we know best, as we will make sure to tell you repeatedly” NGO…faithfully delivered via the national media.

    The problem is that the Church doesn’t support an “oust Gloria” scenario, right?

    And isn’t that what all of this anti-Chacha noise is about anyway? If not impeach, then oust…right?

    • Bert on December 9, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    No, Geo, this anti-chacha noise is simply that…anti-cha, is all.

    • Bert on December 9, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    anti-chacha pala, heheh.

    • Geo on December 9, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Well, Bert, just exactly WHO is anti-Chacha?

    • Bert on December 9, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Geo, all citizens who does not want GMA to rule beyond 2010 are the anit-chachas, that simple.

    • Bert on December 9, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    anti-chacha pala. damn keyboard, heheh.

    • Geo on December 9, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Those who don’t want GMA past 2010 (90%?) don’t want a Chacha which will extend her stay.

    That doesn’t make all those people anti-Chacha.

    Many people from many sectors realize the benefits of Chacha.

    Only a small minority is against any and all Chacha. But this is that screeching crowd (once again) that demands a lot of media coverage…and gets it. Gee, and what do you know? This is the oust GMA crowd.

    What a coincidence.

    • mlq3 on December 9, 2008 at 11:46 pm


    here is the statement of CEAP, composed of the Catholic schools that are mobilizing tomorrow:

    According to:

    The schools committed are:

    Those who will join the protest are Dela Salle University, Adamson University, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, College of the Holy Spirit, Don Bosco Technical School, Philippine Christian College, San Beda College, Concordia School, Miriam College, University of Sto.Tomas, Divine World Seminary and St. Paul Manila.

    Also set to join the protest action are La Consolacion College-Manila; St.Joseph’s College-Quezon city;Sta.Isabel College,Stella Maris; Sta.Catalina College, Daughters of Charity, St. Pedro Poveda,St.Scholastica College, Sienna College, Order St. Benedictine College, Task Force Mapalad and farmers from Yulo, Hacienda Bacan, and Calatagan.

    san beda, in particular, has a law school dean who has come to the president’s vigorous defense many a time. and so it would seem difficult to say these are the usual anti-arroyo people. i understand the ateneo de manila also intends to mobilize though assumption seems absent unlike february 2007.

    regarding opinions on charter change, i assume you reject surveys. so i wonder how anyone expects to be able to say anything regarding public opinion that’s quantifiable. maybe you should write the president asking her to summon the “silent majority” to a rally.

    • mlq3 on December 9, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    djb didn’t the rules get amended last 05-06 to prepare for unicameral voting? better double-check that, that seems to be what mon casiple’s saying.

    • justice league on December 10, 2008 at 1:17 am


    I took a “scan” of the proposed House amendments; Martial Law seems to be more powerful in the proposed House changes than it it is supposed to be now.

    I can’t say without a more detailed reading but it might even be more powerful than during ex-Pres. Marcos’ time.

    And though I’m not sure yet; things that I frowned upon in the Abueva Concom recommendations seems to be incorporated as well.

    They used the constructive form of a vote of no confidence; penalized turncoatism, they are going to strengthen political parties. Each one alone has its merit but together leaves the way for a “super party” to be elected.

    If a “super party” gets to form a government; that super party is likely to survive the whole term of parliament being the party in power. (though I’m not totally sure since the Abueva recommendations were worded differently)

    • Pilipinoparin on December 10, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Is UP included in the march? What about the previous front liners during marches and rallies…FEU, UE, PCC, FEATI, MIT,etc. and even high schools like PSHS, MSHS etc? Lumambot na ba ang backbones ng bagong student generation?

    • justice league on December 10, 2008 at 3:08 am


    I don’t know if this is the same House proposals but CODAL came out with an extensive dissection of a House proposal for Chacha in 2006.

    • hvrds on December 10, 2008 at 5:35 am

    I read somewhere that there are times when the winds of economic turmoil can make people switch their focus on wanting to be free from want (economic) rather than to be free from fear (political).

    Big Mike and GMA are preparing the tools that can be used in the very near future depending on the severity of the oncoming deflationary pressures in the global economy. Those pressures seem to headed for the very sectors that is driving present growth in the Philippine economy. Our labor exports and export trade in goods and services. Our main “achilles heel” still remains to be a balance of payments problem.

    In Asia Japan looks to be going into a more serious deflationary spiral. India and china will also have to recalibrate their domestic economies (no easy task) as both export markets in goods and services are headed downhill.

    Here in the Philippines the land based owners of capital who have seen their assets multiply in valuations will be in trouble as they hunker down. Danding’s foray into the power and energy industries which are natural monopolies are a sure sign of the rush to safety. Big Mike and GMA are also probably involved with the Razon’s takeover of Transco. Fire , water, shelter and food. Danding’s companies also would like to incorporate the corporate form of land reform. This was the model of his favorite cousin, Cory…

    This is the extent of our domestic frame that serves as the basis for our economic system.

    • hawaiianguy on December 10, 2008 at 5:42 am

    “Only a small minority is against any and all Chacha. But this is that screeching crowd (once again) that demands a lot of media coverage…and gets it. Gee, and what do you know? This is the oust GMA crowd.”

    If that statement points to the behavior of the Congressmen, then it’s true. How can you extrapolate that to most Filipinos, and on what solid basis? Just curious.

    • Bert on December 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    “Those who don’t want GMA past 2010 (90%?) don’t want a Chacha which will extend her stay.
    That doesn’t make all those people anti-Chacha.”-Geo

    Gee, Geo. Surely it does make those 90% anti-chacha. Could be that you are one exception to the rule so that would make it less than 90%. Still that’s quite a volume, a vast majority, who don’t trust this administration not to tinker with amendments to the new charter that would allow them to perpetuate their hold on to power.

    It’s a matter of mistrust, you know, and that mistrust did not come overnight. It came slowly about due to so many reasons known to all. That’s why she has very low popularity, approval and trust ratings. The citizenry do’nt want to take a chance anymore.

    The Filipino people, her people, loved her once before.

    Not anymore.

    Is it that hard to understand?

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 12:54 pm


    You wrote of the mixture of inter-faith and political rallies. Now we can also see a pro-Carp and anti-Chacha rally being merged.

    “In an interview with Radio Veritas, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) director Msgr. Gerardo Santos said the main purpose of the protest is to help the farmers call for the extension of CARP before Congress goes on a Christmas break on December 20.”

    I wonder why an anti-Chacha rally needs to align itself with other rallies of seperate causes?

    Meanwhile, recent surveys said that the people are against Chacha IF IT IS DONE TO EXTEND THE TERM OF GMA.

    Look, there are many sectors who want Chacha. That’s a fact.

    Almost the entire country (including me) doesn’t want GMA past 2010. That’s a fact.

    The “oust Gloria” tiny minority (6% according to the last survey I remember) is trying to equate “Chacha” with “GMA extension”. That’s a fact…and that’s a lie.

    For example, the Liberal Party, Oposition Senators, businessmen, and others who have no loyalty to GMA all want Chacha. They can easily differentiate between Chacha and GMA extension.

    The problem is that even many of these pro-Chacha (anti-term extension) entities say that we can’t/shouldn’t try Chacha right now. Do you know why?

    Because there is a small group making so much noise — and falsely stating that any Chacha is only for a GMA extension — that it is creating diviciveness and an unstable situation!!!

    In other words, the nation cannot fix important things because a small group is hijacking the reform issue and blocking rational discussion and debate…and threatening destabilization.

    Reasonable people can debate conass vs concon, 2010 elections for concon membership or later/earlier, federalism, economic provisons, etc, etc.

    Just becuase the “Oust GMA” crowd is trying to reduce Chacha to being the equivalent of Martial Law…shouldn’t mean that the rest of the country needs to.

    But, alas, the screechers are succeeding in doing just that. They are extorting, actually.

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm


    You present a perfect example of someone being confused by the false propaganda. “Chacha” is NOT another word for “term-extension”. Is that hard to understand?

    Or do you think that Senators Roxas and Pimentel are pro-Chacha because they are pro-GMA extension?

    I am trying to make a clear separation of two different topics. You have mistakenly merged them into one. There are some “leaders” who are purposefully merging the two.

    If you are in the street yelling “No Chacha!”, and you are doing so because you hate GMA, you are misguided. You should yell “No term extensions!!!”, probably.

    One can be anti-GMA and be pro-Chacha.

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I propose that it is the “Oust GMA now na!” minority crowd which is purposefully merging the two issues…..

    • mlq3 on December 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Geo, the tactical reason I guess for CEAP is that their rally coincides with a major caucus in the House, precisely on the future of CARP. On one hand those who have been lobbying for the extension are concerned over pressure building up (led by the sugar bloc) simply to scrap the law, and lobbying by some others (the Danding Cojuangco bloc) for corporate farming, and don’t forget the administration’s ongoing efforts to entice Chinese investments in farming.

    As for the anti-Cha-Cha aspect, the CEAP statement explains their stand adequately enough.

    Your distinction that not everyone anti-GMA is anti-Cha Cha in principle, is fair enough, just as not everyone pro-Cha Cha is pro-term extension for GMA, etc. But you do have to review the timeline of the present proposals. On one hand there is the Lakas proposal and the Kampi proposal, ostensibly concerning economic provisions, and those proposed changes can be gleaned from the work on revisions to the charter accomplished by the House two years ago.

    Matrix House Proposed Charter Amendments

    See Article XII changes and Article XVI Sec. 11 and proposed Sec. 12 for the changes.

    The problem is there seems wide agreement among the lawyers that you cannot limit the changes that will be proposed once the process for opening up the Constitution to proposed amendments is begun. So then it becomes a question of political timing and the advantages/disadvantages the proponents will face institutionally, not just in Congress but in the courts, etc.

    The timeline shows that the changes have been proposed by the ruling coalition; that they are being cagey about what, precisely, they want to propose; that they have not really done anything to limit their ability to go beyond the general changes they want; that within their ranks, there are several proposals that directly propose extending terms for all incumbents and even proposing the postponement of the 2010 elections, and it was only under public pressure that some of these have been withdrawn by those proponents.

    The Palace itself has expanded the opportunities for the coalition by proposing an appointive constitutional convention as well (macalintal, the president’s personal lawyer).

    it was in reaction to these that people like roxas filed bills proposing a convention, and again, their proposed timing sets them apart from the ruling coalition which wants the process accomplished before 2010, while the earliest other people open to Cha-Cha (including the Church) are willing to contemplate is the election of delegates in 2010.

    • hvrds on December 10, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Congressman Luis Villafuerte said on TV yesterday that his purpose in not filing a formal resolution for cha cha is simply first to get the House to agree to settle on the mode of amending the constitution around the conflcting interpretations of what 3/4ths vote of Congress voting jointly means.

    He wants an unequivocal justiciable issue to be brought to the SC around the interpretation of that mode of amending the Constitution. No more no less. In other words create a legal pretext to challenge his interpretation on the mode of calling for a Con Ass.

    Forget about the issue of what provisions are to be amended.

    The game is to get that interpretation form the SC. Off course it would help if one would load up the court with friendlies.

    Congressman Villafuete is a former Bancom Investment Banker and DTI maven before GMA entered the DTI whose wife is firmly ensconced in the Monetary Board courtesy of Big Mike and GMA.

    He is one sharp trapo that makes JDV look like a shoplifter.

    Only when the SC will rule in favor or against his thesis will he come out with what is to be amended. His deck of cards come out only when he is assured of victory.

    So the rallies can go on and on but there will nothing clear cut on what the Big Mike and GMA pack are to do.

    An SC decision over the interpretation of how Congress convenes itself in a Con Ass might just result in their favor. If that happens what then? I personally would like to see that happen.

    • hvrds on December 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    It is interesting to note that the colonials splitting from their British government in the U.S. colonies were evenly split as there were as many people who were neutral as there were who wanted to split. Only 10-15% would have been considered loyalists.

    The neutrals and those who wanted to split were evenly divided at 40-45% on both sides.

    The so called revolutionaries were then forced to take over colonial governments to push for the eventual split.

    The population then of the colonies was about 2.5m to 3M. The majority were not even involved in the fighting as they were scattered in the countryside. The British could only fight along the coast as they had limited men on the ground. They controlled the ports and seas until the French came in to the picture and that turned the tide.

    Majority of populations are never involved in critical changes in governments. You only need a few committed ones.

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 2:29 pm


    Yes, I know what the suspicions are. I think much of the population shares those concerns.

    Yes, I read through that chart (I do read the attachments/links you provide during our chats, you know).

    Yes, I’m glad you agree that Pro-Chacha does not equal Pro-extension and anti-GMA does not equal anti-Chacha.

    No, many entities have proposed Chacha long before this latest brouhaha. Pimentel is pro-Federalism, for ex. The LP has talked of it this whole decade.

    So, knowing that we can all agree that there can be no term extension for GMA, knowing that there are plenty of good reasons to improve the Constitution, knowing that we need to debate conass vs concon…why not start the process of public discourse?

    The only reason being offered — along with the threat of street demonstrations — is that somehow, someway, GMA will get the Senate, the SC and the majority of the people all to allow her extension.

    This is non-sensical. But if certain leaders scream loud and long enough, the media will oblingingly amplify this misplaced paranoia, the international media will pick it up…and we look like a bunch of fools again in the world’s eyes.

    That being the reality, we all have to stop the debates because further damage to the Pinas reputation is too expensive a cost.

    If you look closely enough, the leaders I refered to are the “Oust GMA Now Na!” crowd.

    So…even if they know GMA won’t be ousted, even if they know Chacha is inherently needed, even if they actually expect that GMA can’t/won’t extend…they don’t want reforms to continue. Why not?

    Perhaps they feel any positive news under GMA is bad news? And that any positive reform is bad reform? So it’s better to oppose reform?

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    “Majority of populations are never involved in critical changes in governments. You only need a few committed ones.”

    …unless, of course, the law specifies that the “critical changes” in this case requires a national plebescite.

    • mlq3 on December 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Geo, I appreciate your taking the time to go through attachments.

    You raise a good point on what the attitudes of those pro or con amendments are. Definitely there are some whose only interest is to obstruct any and all change. There are others, though, who genuinely believe the ruling coalition is up to something fishy and are freaked out by that prospect. And there are others who oppose the proposed changes because they are interested only in other changes.

    We probably differ on the extent of public interest in amendments to begin with. Among the upper and middle class, it may just be that opinion has solidified in terms of a broad consensus on some changes being required, and for those, economic changes are less controversial than political ones. but it’s a stretch, considering that the entire voting population will be entitled to participate in ratifying or rejecting any proposed changes, to think there’s broad public support for changes or the necessity for those changes.

    though in terms of a campaign to mobilize public support, again, economic changes may be easier to pitch than political ones, considering political changes will require big changes to the political behavior people are accustomed to (voting for a president, voting for senators, for example) though i wouldn’t underestimate the broad public hostility that might manifest itself to proposals such as allowing foreigners to own land (but here my own view is there is a silent majority more open to allowing foreign participation in our economy, but the present economic downtrend may be harming that: let’s not underestimate the pain and hostility the unreported widescale firings in bpo is having in the middle class, who now face the painful side of globalization and a different corporate culture in the west).

    whatever the basis for their fears, the fear of every means being found to accomplish congress formally proposing amendments for a plebiscite to be managed by an electoral body that more closely resembles the marcos era incarnation of that body, is there.

    what remains to be seen is if those forces are capable of mobilizing the public. today’s rally at st. peter’s church on to the batasan mounted by CEAP was a dismal failure -1,000 people, from what i hear from those there- so there goes the damocle’s sword of church hostility so feared by the administration. if dec. 12 proves a flop, or turns off the middle class by having a lot of presidential candidates on the stump- surely it will give the ruling coalition a second wind. then the fight will be determined by the supreme court’s pliability or lack of it.

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 3:31 pm


    So, if you can also see the complexity of the various positions re Chacha, the obstacles to moving forward quickly or easily and the unlikelyhood of the massa easily accepting anything thrown out there…

    …then you must see that the mere opening of the topic is not tantamount to a blitzkrieg attack…

    …just as I see that the fear exists nonetheless.

    But fear is a bad reason not to progress in life.

    Especially if it is an irrational or overblown fear.

    I even believe that the fear is purposefully being magnified by the “Oust GMA Now Na!” crowd (a much smaller subsection of the broader anti-GMA population).

    My hope would be that people will not listen to the “Oust GMA!” crowd (yet keep their anti-GMA perspective) and not reject the concept of Chacha. I hope they will maybe accpet the need for change…and also the need for action.

    The first thing needs to be decided — what will the law allow? Until the SC rules on a case which answers the 3/4, nothing is clear. That said, I’m not sure that Conass will push through; many pro-Chacha types like Concon better (I lean that way, for ex).

    The disagreements about just what to address, never mind HOW to address, are numerous.

    But if there is no momentum moving forward now…when will there ever be?

    • Bert on December 10, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    You said,
    “If you are in the street yelling “No Chacha!”, and you are doing so because you hate GMA, you are misguided. You should yell “No term extensions!!!”, probably.”


    I find it so difficult making you understand such a simple matter.

    If I am in the street yelling “No Chacha!” that is not because I hate GMA. No, not at all. I bear no hate for her, she is my president, the president of our country, and of our people.

    But the Filipino people don’t trust her anymore, so do I, and I am for the people, not for her. That’s the reason why I am an ‘anti’, don’t you know?

    If I am in the street yelling “No Chacha!” that is because I know what this gov’t. is capable of doing, and they will do it if given the slightest chance. That I will not give.

    This is a matter of mistrust, Geo. Do you find that hard to understand?

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 3:58 pm


    Gee, I’ll try hard to understand…

    You and many don’t trust GMA. You are now anti-GMA. You worry that any Chacha moves will open the door to her extension in power. You think she and her minions are capable of caring this out. You are now anti-Chacha. Right?

    Now understand that not all anti-GMA types are anti-Chacha and that there are anti-GMA types who are pro-Chacha. Capice?

    • Jon on December 10, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I haven’t seen much discussion about the Nograles proposal. Pwede nga bang ang House of Reps lang ang mag-act para ma-amend ang constitution? Ano nga kaya ang sasabihin ng SC ano?

    • mlq3 on December 10, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    geo, this is something iv’e been pondering on for some time, viz. my references to what might be confidence building measures to move debate forward and obtain what has been so sorely lacking, consensus (admittedly never total and not for all).

    while i can see the objective necessity for finally obtaining clarity concerning the constitution’s provisions -because of the poorly written provisions of the constitution itself- provoking a confrontation in the courts carries political risks for all sides that square off in the courts. you have historical baggage -the courts have been craven before- and past precedent (our institutions are weak and vulnerable to efforts at executive aggrandizement) only arouses suspicions and further reduces trust.

    all sorts of factors just muddles the situation -the president herself has more often than not proposed a convention, but the coalition over which she presides views a convention as the least preferred option- and so it’s interesting to consider why she did not push forward the convention option from the start. a convention elected last year could have been well on its way to writing a better or at least new chapter, and the opposition of those who want no changes period might well have been neutralized by the public’s marked preference for change only through institutional means.

    any politician can resort to a messsage only if it resonates with the people or at least more people than who can be mobilized by the other side. so if there are those saying no cha cha now and maybe no cha cha ever, the survival of that message means it resonates with the public. and if a large chunk of the public feels there are many problems left to fix without tinkering with the constutition, we have to reckon with that.

    but i do enjoy this exchange because it validates my opinion that there remains much more that can possibly unite us than divides us.

    • BrianB on December 10, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Feel ko lang matatakot si Gloria. Why expose her neck further with an extension (military nakaabang lang) when she can go scot-free?

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm


    You wrote: “but i do enjoy this exchange because it validates my opinion that there remains much more that can possibly unite us than divides us.”

    I enjoy it because all I want to see is the country moving forward together positively, intelligently and competitively…and to do so, we need rational discussions much more than heavy-handed, power-mongering from one side and screetching, non-stop attacks from the other. Thinking, talking and listening is good.

    Confidence-building measures is a good start. So rather than a “political confrontation”, a presentation of the two sides can be made in the SC rationally and calmly, no?

    But that is virtually impossible if the “Oust GMA Now Na!” riles everybody up. Opposition politicians (esp those out of power), the Far Left, the Far Right and media love this and push and scream. This makes the center freeze…and the whole thing can stop dead in its tracks.

    This doesn’t have to be confrontational. But, as we both know, being anti-Chacha will resonate with the public if its framed as being anti-GMA extension.

    Yes, if the admin goes Concon, that might be better. But you and I differ in that you believe Chacha has been pushed by GMA (and for GMA), while I think the drive has always come from the House. And its a lot more clear why some in the House would prefer Conass…..

    That’s why being Anti-Chacha — because one is anti-GMA extension — isn’t that sensical.

    The real question is whether or not lawmakers (who are representatives) should fix the laws or if representatives from many sectors should fix the laws. The real issue should be Conass vs Concon.

    Why not see which one of those positions resonate? To do so, there’s a need for less static and more signal, less yelling and more info. It shouldn’t be this hard to do.

    But as you said, there’s a lot of baggage…..

    Free yourself from the chains of the past! Grow! Improve! Compete! Succeed!

    • DJB on December 10, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    The petition of Adam Relson Jala for the SCoRP to declare Rule XX Sec 140 unconstitutional was dismissed for “prematurity” just last October, 2008. This means the Rule stands and was in fact readopted by the present Congress from the one that was NOT repealed in 2006, It upholds normal legislative procedure when proposing charter changes.

    The reason the Lower House could not have repealed this Rule is that is would have affected the counterpart rule in the Senate. And that is not something it can do willynilly.

    • DJB on December 10, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Here is the link at SCoRP to the Minute Resolution dismissing the Jala petition:

    Rule XX Sec. 140 of the House says voting separately as in normal legislation.

    • manuelbuencamino on December 10, 2008 at 10:28 pm


    I don’t mind marching with them. I just don;t want to march behind them. Amd it’s not about liberalism or wnat not, It’s about separation of church and state. We are a secular state. That’s why I agree with Manolo when he objects to prayers before official functions. A secular state has to respect agnostics and atheists too.

    • manuelbuencamino on December 10, 2008 at 10:37 pm


    the bottom line is those people who will constitute themselves into a con-ass. With or without GMA they can’t be trusted to do anything right.They are self servants not public servants. So if you really want cha-cha then campaign for a con-con. That way we have a fighting chance because we will choose who writes our new constitution

    • Geo on December 10, 2008 at 11:20 pm


    Well, I’m not that cynical. Or, to be more exact, I don’t think that the ratio of good/bad/other of Congressmen changes that much over time (see the US for reference). This bunch is as good/bad as any.

    Nonetheless, I lean towards Concon for a variety of reasons. Political reality — as dictated by the minority “oust GMA” crowd — is probably the most prominent reason…i.e. Chacha doable this way (Concon), but much more problematic the Conass way.

    A Concon might actually become a reality…and then produce results. That sounds good to me.

    I also appreciate the argument that — although Congressmen are true representatives — this is not a simple change of laws, but a change in the rules of the game…a game in which the Congressmen are the primary players.

    So yes, I’m for Concon…

    …if it’s coming now (post 2010 elections) and it won’t run on for ever (the 1 yr idea sounds right).

    • vic on December 10, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    From the pages of our History: How a country came about to agree for a CHA-CHA.( Bringing the Constitutions Home.)

    The History of the Charter

    Canada’s original Constitution, the British North America Act, was passed in 1867 by British Parliament. This Act, also known as the Constitution Act, 1867, founded Canada as a nation. It made elected governments the highest political and legal institutions in the country. The Constitution distributed power between the federal and provincial governments. Unlike the United States Constitution, Canada’s Constitution did not have a “Bill of Rights” that governments had to follow.

    In 1960, the federal government passed the Canadian Bill of Rights. This law statute was not part of the Constitution. It had no more power than any other law. The Bill spoke of fundamental freedoms, legal rights and equality before the law. But if a law itself was discriminatory, the Bill of Rights was generally not helpful. As well, the Bill only applied to federal, not provincial laws.

    Because Canada’s original Constitution was an Act of British Parliament, it could only be changed by Britain. For many years, Canada’s Prime Ministers had been looking to “bring the constitution home.” Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau also wanted to include a Charter of Rights in the Constitution.

    The Charter was significantly inspired by documents such as the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Other international influences included the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    In the fall of 1980, the Canadian government set up a special all-party committee to hear what people had to say about a suggested Charter. With televised hearings, the committee listened to over 300 presentations from women, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, ethnic and cultural minorities, and others. The committee also considered 1200 written submissions about the Charter. From this, the committee made 123 recommendations to improve the Charter – over half are in the final document.

    It was difficult for the provinces to agree to changes to the Constitution. On the night of November 4, 1981, in the kitchen of the Ottawa Chateau Laurier hotel, then Federal Justice Minister Jean Chrétien and the Attorneys General from Saskatchewan and Ontario, Roy Romanow and Roy McMurtry, came up with a plan – popularly referred to as the “Kitchen Accord.” The plan gave provinces a way of temporarily avoiding some parts of the Charter (see Clauses and Provisions – the section 33 “notwithstanding clause”). This led to stronger support from the provinces and opened the way for a Constitution that included a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    The Charter is a part of the Constitution Act, 1982; all of which is in the Canada Act, 1982. Receiving the approval of the Britain for the last time, on April 17, 1982 in Ottawa, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Canada Act, 1982. This gave Canada control over its Constitution. The guarantee of rights and freedoms in the Charter became part of the supreme law of the land.

    The equality rights section of the Charter was delayed until April 17, 1985. This gave governments time to update laws to meet equality requirements.

    Having a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our Constitution has brought Canada in line with other liberal democracies in the world, all of whom have bills of rights that can be enforced by the courts.

    • vic on December 11, 2008 at 12:14 am

    In the fall of 1980, the Canadian government set up a special all-party committee to hear what people had to say about a suggested Charter. With televised hearings, the committee listened to over 300 presentations from women, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, ethnic and cultural minorities, and others. The committee also considered 1200 written submissions about the Charter. From this, the committee made 123 recommendations to improve the Charter – over half are in the final document.

    Now, my question is>>did it ever occur to the proponents of the cha cha to propose to listen to every segment of society including the minorities, the Aboriginal people, people with disabilities and even foreigners for their inputs on economics provisions or they are the forgotten?

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