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Jun 10

Hope is kindled

Today’s Inquirer editorial, TindigNation:

We acknowledge that there are citizens who are no fans of the present dispensation, who are as outraged over what’s going on as the rest, but who question whether rallies are worth it. What of the economic dislocation, the traffic, and the discomfort rallies cause, they ask?

We do not know of any functioning democratic country – whether the United States, the United Kingdom, France or South Korea or even Japan – where the exercise of fundamental freedoms is questioned instead of the officialdom that has provoked public protest. Protests must be peaceful, but they are not a picnic. Nor should they be, for they are meant to serve notice to our rulers that an issue has so captured the public imagination that it cannot be ignored.

What’s more, in this particular case, the country must be called upon to reflect on the price it will pay, if it sets aside protest today on the pretext that it’s not worth it to be inconvenienced. Consider the supposed irritation a well-publicized, peaceful rally could possibly cause compared to the non-stop inconveniences an emergency situation arising from a constitutional crisis will create.

Today is the beginning of a public appeal. That appeal will manifest itself in weekly actions throughout the country, culminating in a nationwide noise barrage on the weekend before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivers what should be her final State of the Nation Address.

The young, in particular, will be taking center stage today, which is as it should be. Their idealism still untarnished, and their spirit still uncorrupted by the avarice, cynicism, and blasa mercenary calculations of their elders in the House, they will do as Pippin the Hobbit did in that famous scene from “The Return of King.” After Pippin bravely climbs a cliff to light one of the seven signal-beacons between Gondor and Rohan, Gandalf exclaims, “Hope is kindled!”

And so should it be tomorrow, as hope is rekindled by means of the protests in the cities of Makati, Quezon, Bacolod, Iloilo and Davao, and in Bohol. A series of signal-beacons will warn the public that the forces of darkness are gearing up to march. We can only hope that The People will thunder a response as determined as King Thaoden’s, when he saw the signal-beacons aflame. “And Rohan,” he said, summoning the riders of his kingdom, “will answer!”

RJ Ledesma, writing in The Philippine Star:

Twenty from the National Capital Region (NCR). Five from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). Eleven from the Ilocos Region. Six from Cagayan Valley. Seventeen from Central Luzon. Thirteen from Calabarzon. Five from MIMAROPA. Ten from the Bicol Region. Fourteen from Western Visayas. Eleven from Central Visayas. Twelve from Eastern Visayas. Six from the Zamboanga Peninsula. Eight from Northern Mindanao. Eleven from the Davao Region. Four from SOCCSKARGEN. Seven from CARAGA. Six from ARMM. Five from party-lists.

My fellow electorate, let us exercise the same persistence at getting through to our congressmen as our congressmen exercised in getting this bill passed in the Lower House. Let us find a way to get in touch with them. Visit them. Text them. E-mail them. Snail-mail them. Send them smoke signals. Let us let them know that we – their constituents – believe that their actions should reflect our will. Let them know that we have just much a stake as they do in our shared political future, and maybe even more.

We appeal to you, our dear 172 congressmen, please do not push through with the constituent assembly in July. Because if we careen down this path, the ending to this political flashpoint might turn out like the latest film by Brillante Mendoza.

It may be award-winning, but it won’t be pretty.

Do visit NO to Con-Ass! to read the manifesto and get the icon.

No to Conass!

and you may wish to join STOP CON-ASS NOW! on FaceBook.

In his blog, baratillo@cubao says he is no fan of the present Constitution:

I wont defend this constitution so flawed and frail

A Constitution crafted by fifty people selected by one person

Although approved by the people it has been found wanting

Its Predecessor was no better

The convention rife with allegations of buying and exchange of money

No I will not defend this Constitution that is so ambiguous

That it has been justified in almost all extra-constiutional enterprise

That it has been interpreted by individuals and groups to further their own gain.

No this Constitution is as effective as a Wooden Father

A Wooden Father sitting in the corner

No I wont defend this Constitution

But I will defend the option to criticize and even protest

To fiscalize the actions of both majority and minority

By voicing

By voting

By any other means the law allows

As imperfect and wanting as it may be

And that I will fight and defend for that right

If it is indeed called or even considered a right

Well it should be if its not yet

And he points to a cautionary tale, courtesy of Orwell:

36 comments

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  1. SEO Philippines

    ang katotohanan ay may dalawang mukha
    ang tama sa iyo ay mali sa tingin ng iba
    may puti may itim liwanag at dilim
    may pumapaibabaw at may sumasailalim

    ang tubig ay sa apoy ang lupa ay sa langit
    ang araw ay sa gabi ang lamig naman ay sa init
    kapag nawala ang isa ang isa’y di mababatid
    ang malakas at ang mahina’y magkapatid

    magkabilaan ang mundo
    magkabilaan ang mundo
    magkabilaan ang mundo

    – Joey Ayala

  2. agustinjkg

    indeed, we can hear the sound of the abundance of rain

    people are becoming aware. it is time for change.

  3. Ryan

    The effect of protest rallies rapidly weakens with each succeeding event, it’s power to change nullified by the fact that even with almost monthly rallies not much seems to change, so what’s the point. It breeds apathy, and a generation of “rallyistas” who sometimes would have done better for themselves and for their country had they found a more productive outlet for their anger.

    There comes a point however, where one must say, enough is enough, and we’ve been fucked around with by this administration to take it a second longer. So I’m in. See you all later.

  4. Madonna

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” — like Gloria the Pig and her oink-oink brigade of HR 1109 proponents.

    Also, it’s time to read, or re-read Nineteen Eighty-Four.

  5. Carl

    I agree with baratillo@cubao. That 1987 Constitution stinks to high heavens. But, in the meantime, let it be. There are more immediate matters to attend to. That “Cory Constitution”, “so flawed and frail”, hastily “crafted by fifty people selected by one person”, will have its day of reckoning. But, as St. Augustine once said about taking on the virtue of chastity, “not yet”.

  6. SoP

    I think congressmen should be given some leeway to change policies and political views midway or at the end of their term. It’s a part of the democratic process. Some citizens think that electoral promises should be set in stone, but I disagree. The Philippines of 2006 is different from the Philippines of 2010. The crux of argument for most is that politicking should be set aside and politicians should focus on fixing the economy. But have you ever thought that the political system could be the root cause of the economic problems? (I recognize it’s mostly the other way around).

    I hope you “loud, angry, emotional mobs” don’t revert to oust-Erap tactics like you did during Erap’s impeachment proceedings. By God, why don’t you just let the political process run through? If you just let the senate do their job then, we would have had a senate-impeached Erap by now. His claim to the presidency would have been clearly denied by law. But no, you had to go all “O.A.” on a piece of envelope. Because you couldn’t trust your senators to do the right thing. And most of all, you were afraid Erap would have exerted too much influence on the senators (a legacy of Marcos dictatorship?). You were afraid of Erap. Now you’re afraid of Gloria.

    Please don’t be afraid. We have the senate and congress to watch over the presidential post. That’s democracy 101. We should learn to trust them sometimes.

    And don’t get started on this whole “SWS survey says most Filipinos don’t support the con-ass” business. Even if it’s true, as I mentioned, congressmen should be given leeway to formulate their political thoughts midway through their terms (not that the con-ass issue was ever a point of debate during the last elections). Sure, I respect your right to assemble and disrupt traffic and encourage noise pollution to bring attention to your cause and influence people’s thinking on the matter. But respect that some citizens are in agreement with congressmen (overwhelmingly, Kapampangans are, as 17 of our reps are pro con-ass). YOU HAVE TO RESPECT THAT TOO. We have the numbers, this is a democracy, respect it , let the process run through.

    At the end of the day, all your voices will be heard and your choice counted during the plebiscite. If you win, then I’ll respect your choice to keep the expensive electoral system where we have to vote for a President every four years. But if you lose, it’s not the end of the world you know! A parliamentary system is no guarantee that GMA or Erap’s party or puppies can get elected. You still have the power to elect leaders and parties and platforms of your choice you know?

  7. BrianB

    So corny. Remember Edsa Tres when the Elves cowered behind the walls of San Beda when the ORCS came stampeding.

  8. ramrod

    SoP,
    You sound like you’re a foreigner talking/lecturing to “us” Filipinos? You want to lecture about democracy, then let “rallies” and “demonstrations” run their course also.
    Since you seem to enjoy sitting on the fence the whole time…sit back, relax, and enjoy watching history in the making…

  9. SoP

    I’m not on the fence. I’m on the right side of the fence-I’m pro con-ass, and I respect the right to protest. I only hate it when mobocracy substitutes the political process like it did in Edsa Dos.

  10. SoP

    No thanks to a toothless, gutless, spineless Davide. I still believe he made the wrong decision in ruling Erap an incapacitated president. A wiser decision would have been throw the question back to the senate and let them resume the impeachment process.

  11. BrianB

    Madonna, the Phlippine oligarchy has been practicing DOUBLETHINK for decades. Fortunately, as Benig0 woul say, we’re far from 1984 yet… just because we’re still in 1884.

  12. taxj

    Hope kindled? Oust-Gloria-now moves exited. Enter the Gloria-til-2010 era. The dolts are on a phoney war. She must be grinning from ear to ear. She gets to finish her term. Thanks to her “enemies”. Nograles is hero.

  13. hawaiianguy

    What we see here is a disconnect between what people want and what their leaders want. The people loudly cry out “No Con Ass” but those house leaders proclaim “YES, we will do a Con Ass” (even without Senate participation).

    Are they right in passing House Res. 1109, even doing it by viva voce? We will see this July when they come back.

  14. SoP

    Have you all ever considered that mobocracy could be wrong? With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see that those mobs at Edsa Dos done more harm than good. Your little popular street action installed an illegitimate president in GMA.

    Now you’re doing it again.

  15. taxj

    What will the phoney war accomplish? It will allow Gloria to end her term. It will divert efforts away from a successful 2010 elections. It will further damage the economy. Will it kill cha-cha? No. It is already dead, despite HR 1109.

    The only hope for a Gloria extension is for the senseless demos to escalate beyond control, enough to disrupt the 2010 elections. A hiatus in power makes it up for grabs. The communists doesn’t have enough support for a take over, but they can create trouble. Will it be martial law, emergency rule, or chaos?

    Some people might welcome this development. They who entertain ideas that anything could be better than this oligarchy!

  16. PARI

    oK, here goes: what I struggle to understand is why can’t we all have a healthy debate. ANd why can’t people debate on issues and the proposed changes that should do us good? It’s like one side wants to change things, and the other says f*ck off I’m not listening to you. That’s not at all going to lead to any good.

    when it’s the political elite and our leaders who are divided – arguing over a simple matter of whose business interests we protect (the ones by the old constitution or the ones for the new?) is there no way for a concession? If the fear is not irrational, then let’s ensure particular provisions that are suspect will not make it to the draft.

    But otherwise, and by god, do not impede on the chance to enhance certain parts of the constitution that are too vague, too protectionist and too restricting.

    I’ve read through some of the proposed changes in Manolo’s email and some are very good for business and policy making!

  17. SEO Philippines

    @sop: First of let’s change the terminologies here… we are not just “oud, angry, emotional mobs” by claiming that we are one relegates us to mindless human beings not capable of thinking. Second Erap deserved what he had and GMA could’ve done better but she messed it up big time. Not just because you think EDSA 2 is a mistake would make other protests a series of mistakes. As you see the “mobocracy” you’re trying to criticize isn’t the one who’s sitting in the government the person who’s messin all these up is the one sitting in the government! Haven’t you considered the fact that it is not “us” who are doing the wrong things? We are trying to point out something wrong here and I don’t get your drift when you’re thinking pointing out something wrong at the government that has gone immorally wrong is in fact WRONG!

  18. SoP

    “SEO Philippines on Thu, 11th Jun 2009 10:38 am
    @sop: First of let’s change the terminologies here… we are not just “oud, angry, emotional mobs” by claiming that we are one relegates us to mindless human beings not capable of thinking.”

    I do think that you’re thinking…you just haven’t thought enough.

    I do understand that protest action will bring attention to your cause. But what is your end game when you’ve convinced everybody to agree with you?

    An intelligent citizenry could file a petition to impeach a congressman instead. If you think you’re local congressman did something that you, as his/her electorate, find objectionable, why don’t you impeach him/her? Why disrupt traffic, contribute to noise pollution, and participate in pointless protest action when what you should be doing is ENGAGING YOUR LOCAL CONGRESSMAN USING THE CORRECT CHANNELS AND DEVICES AS GIVEN TO YOU BY THE LAW?

  19. mlq3

    congressmen cannot be impeached.

  20. SoP

    “SEO Philippines on Thu, 11th Jun 2009 10:38 am
    We are trying to point out something wrong here and I don’t get your drift when you’re thinking pointing out something wrong at the government that has gone immorally wrong is in fact WRONG!”

    Well, my congressmen in Pampanga think that a con-ass is imminent. As a citizen of Pampanga I do think that majority of us Kapampangans want charter change. So we let our representatives speak for us. That has been proven overwhelmingly in the ballot.

    You sir and your mob, don’t speak for me. If you want to express something, say it through your congressman. If the majority of the people in your district feel the your congressman does not represent you, impeach him/her.

    Don’t have illusions that what you express loudly on the streets is the sentiment of ALL peoples in our republic!

  21. mlq3

    SoP, just curious, how do they think it’s imminent? Talk was that the Arroyos have been circulating HT1109 for a year now and some congressmen had forgotten they’d signed on to it, much less recalled what it was about, but voted for it anyway because it was a win-win situation for them: first, it was the condition for their pork barrel release, and second, quite a few are on their last term so if it makes it, it’s a free ticket for re-election for them.

    anyway, so what, exactly, do you have in mind, meaning, has your congressman told you what changes will be made, or do you have changes in mind and simply assume they will be in harmony with what the house proposes for a plebiscite?

  22. torn

    Attending political rallies in the Philippines is one of my little obsessions and I have been doing it now for 12 years.

    Last night’s was one of the most sparsely attended I have been to. Since many of the anti-Gloria rallies are centered on the Paseo—Ayala intersection, it is fairly easy to compare them. For example, where I was standing last night (in front of the Insular Life Jollibee) is prime real estate during a rally since you have a clear view of the stage and a choice of exits: east or west along Ayala or north along Paseo de Roxas. It is often hard to even reach that spot through all the sweaty bodies yet last night I had lots of elbow room – if I had been determined I could have even made it to the stage I think.

    As someone above said, a lot of this is due to rally fatigue. Opponents of Con-Ass should really forget about rallies since the feeble turnout will actually embolden supporters of Con-Ass – there must be other ways of getting the message across.

    I also think some hard decisions need to be made about who should be allowed to participate. I don’t think that being “anti-GMA” should be enough. I attend these things as an interested foreign observer, but were I Filipino I would have left immediately I heard that one of the sponsors was the “Erap 2010” group.

    Anyway, that’s my 5 cents’ worth.

  23. SEO Philippines

    @SoP: Then I think we agree to disagree. If you think I haven’t thought well enough I invite you to read our constitution and if you’re too allergic on clamoring for change and espousing dissent then I pray that your taxes go where they should be going which I doubt you even know where it goes. Do you even talk to your congressman? tsk tsk…

  24. mlq3

    re: torn’s comment, this piece is apropos:

    http://mlq3.tumblr.com/post/121613440/counting-the-crowd-by-dr-giovanni-tapang

  25. BrianB

    Come on, either you feel the massiveness of the crowd or you don’t. It’s the feeling a crowd inspires not the actual, numerical head count. If torn feels it’s a little lonely yesterday, it must’ve been an anemic one indeed.

  26. mlq3

    sure, but the numbers become helpful when others get a different impression, see:

    http://fritzified.com/2009/06/11/photos-and-a-lol-vid-no-to-con-ass-ayala-rally/

  27. SoP

    I don’t know the fine details, but the salient points are:
    – to allow foreign ownership of land
    – parliamentary form of government
    – some changes to term limits

    all of which I’m in favor of.

  28. BrianB

    Foreign ownership? You serious? We’re mostly landless citizens as it is.

    Manolo,

    Yeah, you’re pitting the observations of an experienced rallyist to the impressions of an impressionable young man. From the capture there wasn’t a few hundred heads.

  29. BrianB

    “I also think some hard decisions need to be made about who should be allowed to participate. I don’t think that being “anti-GMA” should be enough. I attend these things as an interested foreign observer, but were I Filipino I would have left immediately I heard that one of the sponsors was the “Erap 2010? group. ”

    I’ve been thinking that Filipinos are not stupid or apathetic at all. In fact, they know exactly what is at stake and what has to be done… to kill people, destroy families (of oligarchs) and take the bitter pill of appearing backward and regressive to the international community, all of which may bring us too many steps back to recover. Hence, the non-response. I agree with them, and like them I’m waiting for the center (Church, mainstream military) to step up.

  30. SoP

    Most Filipinos are landless because they have low incomes to buy land. They have low incomes because the economy is predominantly tied to agriculture. Agriculture is underdeveloped because most land is under the monopoly of hacienderos, who don’t invest in better technology to increase productivity per hectare because the cost of land is cheap, hence their fixed costs are lower.

    If you spur the cost of land, either by raising land taxes (impossible to implement given our corrupt BIR) or by bringing in foreigners who are awash with cash to buy land freely, productivity shoots up. This is so because land is now “valuable”. People won’t just leave their land idle waiting for kingdom come for their idle real estate to increase in value. They can sell it at a higher cost (hence, more money will be injected in the system), or will be compelled to develop it to keep up with rising statutory taxes. This will only result in more economic activity and more jobs and higher income for the Filipino people.

    I don’t understand the xenophobia of anti-parity “nationalists”, given that a lot of OFW’s are allowed to buy land and homes in Canada, U.S., Australia, U.K., New Zealand.

  31. SoP

    And no, Bryan, most Filipinos don’t have to be able to buy land to say they are the masters of their homeland. Singaporeans and Germans cannot own land. For the most part, they only lease the land or the stacks of condominiums built on top of land.

    The important thing is to have a decent wage and education to pay for that lease and other costs of living your whole life.

  32. mlq3

    SoP but there’s nothing to understand when it comes to xenophobia -it’s as it is, an irrational hatred of foreigners.

  33. SEO Philippines

    @sop: yes we are tied to agriculture and yes we can’t own lands because the congressmen who owns most of the lands are against the CARP so please don’t blame our people just because they are the victim its as if saying its the fault of the rape victim thats why she got raped… needless to say I am against foreigners owning our lands, I think having the US bases here before would sum up the reason why we should not let foreigners own our land, and I am against the parliamentary system it has not enough check and balances provided that we haven’t even tried perfectly our current government, I ask you why you think a parliamentary form of government is amiable give five good reasons why it is so then perhaps I’ll reconsider. And oh another thing we can’t have decent wages and good education because congressmen would rather change our constitution and shift to a parliamentary form of government instead of feeding the people. Lets go back to basics here shall we? Feed the people, give them jobs, educate them, bring back our OFW’s and don’t be dependent on them, strengthen our agricultural industry and weed out corruption in the government before stoping people from rallying against these injustices shall we?

  34. SoP

    “# SEO Philippines on Thu, 11th Jun 2009 8:08 pm …I ask you why you think a parliamentary form of government is amiable give five good reasons why it is so then perhaps I’ll reconsider…”

    Presidential campaigns are expensive undertakings. Whoever wants to win the presidency has to campaign Apari to Jolo and spend, according to some figures bandied about, at least 75 to 100 million pesos. Minimum.

    Given that we don’t have a robust 2 party system that can collect that kind of money from political donations, presidential aspirants resort to spending their own money (like the multi-millionaires Danding, Ramon Mitra, Imelda Marcos, ) or have millionaire “backers” (Erap’s Lucio Tan) or use the current administration’s resources (GMA and the pork largess).

    That alone would already compromise the loyalty of a president. Those who spend their own money will recoup it by corruption. Those who spend other people’s money have to repay the favor to their backers.

    Under a parliamentary form, the prime minister is basically just a Congressman chosen by the majority party. Congressional campaigns are cheaper (because they’re local). So there’s less money spent on elections and less favors to repay or money to recoup. Thus, prime ministers can be literally poorer but still be head of the state.

    With our country being poor of finances, we cannot afford campaign reform. Campaign reform basically is putting a limit on what presidential aspirants can spend. The government will then pay a certain amount to a party, so that they can use that money to campaign instead of parties getting financial backers or spending their own money. That’s not gonna happen in the Philippines because we cannot budget for it, so we might as well go parliamentary.

  35. taxj

    On the Constitution.

    Our present Constitution is much flawed. But to use it as an excuse for our failures and hardships is simply too much. The fault, my dears, is not in our Charter that we are underlings, but in ourselves. We can never have a perfect Charter, but we can always strive for perfection under any. We must make do with what we have, not just because we can’t afford a new one. With it there’s still so much we can do, and undo.

    On Land Reform.

    Land Reform as practiced is mainly land distribution. It is counterproductive. We give lands to people who can’t even own a carabao and a plow. What will they do with it? The support services that reach the farmer, if any, is barely enough to keep the him alive. We have so much idle lands. The challenge is how to till them. The only way is through mechanization. Land Reform stands on the way.

    On EDSA’S.

    With the benefit of hindsight, we now may see EDSA 1 & 2 as nothing but the acts of a carabao gone berserk from too much abuse. Atlas shrugged, but, that’s all he ever did. Now we are being invited to the same adventure, or misadventure. Then what? We meekly submit ourselves to another yoke, another master.

    On a prescription.

    We all want to lend a hand in anti-poverty and food production programs. But we can’t. Imperial Manila is doing it for us. Or, rather, is robbing us of the resources for it. Remember the fertilizer and swine scams?

    Give these funds to the local government units where we can participate in its more effective utilization, and in checking abuses. Let us institutionalize the bayanihan spirit. Let us strenghten our cities and provinces. Let us all work in areas close to home. The playing field is somewhat level out there.

  36. Dino Manrique

    Photos and brief report of the June 10 anti Con-Ass rally at the Ateneo de Manila University: http://filipinowriter.multiply.com/photos/album/85/Ateneo_TindigNation_Concert_Rally_and_Noise_Barrage

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