Yesterday, I interviewed Marites Vitug on Newsbreak’s story on the President’s midnight appointments, and Nepo Malauan on the prospects of the House approving the bicameral conference committee report on the reconciled version of the Freedom of Information Act.
You can listen to both here:
Both stories are related, particularly in the context of other reports, mainly on AM radio, that PAGCOR (whose chief was extended in office by the Presdident recently) has barred the use of camera phones within its premises and that its shredders have been working overtime for some days now. There’s also scuttlebutt that the President spends part of her official day in the premises of the Presidential Management Staff busily signing stacks of antedated appointments.
Here is Newsbreak’s story on the midnight appointments of the President: Arroyo issues midnight madness of appointments. There has been praise in some quarters for those who declined appointments. I’ve tackled the question of midnight appointments before (see Scorched earth policy, October 17, 2005; The destruction of the presidency, April 3, 2008; Midnight appointments, January 15, 2010; Scorched earth to the bitter end, January 18, 2010; Presidential tar pit, March 22, 2010); in addition, see a proposal for evaluating such appointments by Joaquin Bernas SJ: Midnight appointments, May 31, 2010.
On June 1, Nepo Malauan (see his Primer on the Freedom of Information Act) pointed out the House was showing signs of scuttling the Freedom of Information Act: when the bicameral conference committee report was first due to be reported out in plenary, the House leadership had the microphones on the floor switched off to prevent the Speaker’s side-stepping the matter from being questioned. You can listen to Malaluan’s account here:
On the day the House had its last chance to tackle the matter, Malauan (see June 4 episode of my radio show above) said some factors combined to suggest the leadership would fail to approve the bicam report. First, there was the little stunt involving the switching off of microphones. Then, there was that mysterious text message urging congressmen not to show up at the House to prevent a quorum. Third, there was a verified memorandum from the Secretary-General of the House urging committee staff to pack the galleries in anticipation of a mobilization by supporters of the FOI. And finally, there was the publication of the House agenda placing the FOI at the bottom of its order of business, instead of first in line as befits a priority measure. As it turned out, the grim expectations of the supporters of the FOI were fulfilled when the session was gaveled to a close when the quorum was questioned.
Malaluan also suggested that the House leadership had second thoughts because of the Law of Unintended Consequences (automation might be another example of this), where a seemingly harmless but fashionable legislative proposal ended up scuttled because its implications started to sink in.
So it’s scorched-earth complexed with sandbagging.