My hunch on a pastoral letter read during today’s masses proved wrong. Bishops, it seems, remain divided. The President heard mass today, dressed in white, to signify, she says, the purity of her intentions. She heard Mass at Ermita Church, and was prayed over by Msgr. Nico Bautista. President was accompanied by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and Speaker de Venecia’s wife.
The Star goes great guns for the President: Federico Pascual asks if it’s fair to pick on the President; Babe Romualdez says “it’s the economy, stupid!”; Carmen Pedrosa has a “sneaking suspicion” events will benefit the President; Max Soliven thunders the President herself has proclaimed, “no surrender! no retreat!”. In the Tribune, Fr. Faraon (a Dominican) is mad at everybody. In the Times, Marlen Ronquillo writes on the presidential penchant for personal pronouns.
The Inquirer has some interesting viewpoints on the current crisis. The Civil Society consensus is presented by Sixdon Macasaet:
What is best for the country? Ms Arroyo resigns immediately, her successor forms the independent fact-finding commission, the Commission on Elections chair and commissioners resign and the Comelec is revamped, and the long-needed social and political reforms our people so greatly deserve are vigorously institutionalized.
Edicio de la Torre who is more radical than the Macasaet types, suggests what Cory Aquino and others wanted was a “boardroom power play,” and looks at potential “end games”:
There are really two sets of end games. The immediate is the end to the GMA presidency. But the other more important end game is the end to political instability through a legitimate system of governance acceptable to contending parties.
Today is mainly scuttlebutt for lack of any hard news, until the bishops speak out. A source claims to have talked to the head of a large health-related company with a presence throughout the country, and this executive is of the opinion that Ronnie Puno (brother of Dong Puno), who is now a congressman with Kampi, the President’s pet party, is calling the shots, strategically, for the administration. Puno dates back to the Marcos administration, achieved great notoriety for allegedly being the inventor of “dagdag-bawas” during the Ramos campaign, was a backer of Joseph Estrada and is now an ally of the President. Some people in politics claim his “expertise” and savvy are over-rated, he is “more reputation than skill, he comes from the old guns, goons, and gold school, and remember Ping Lacson beat him in Estrada-era power struggle, he will eventually cross swords with Ermita and Tiglao,” according to another source. The source who talked to the executive also claims that the executive’s view is that the Vice-President was funded not only by the Lopezes, but by another leading industrialist.
What is interesting is that Danding Cojuangco’s Nationalist People’s Coalition continues to support the President, and that Manuel Villar’s Nacionalista Party, supports the President, too. Incidentally, the NPC is named that for a reason: it began as the Cojuangco wing of the Nacionalista Party (hence the NP in NPC), when Cojuangco wanted to secure the NP nomination for the presidency in 1992; this was blocked by the Laurels who maintained a sort of family franchise on the party. Cojuangco went on to establish the NPC; Doy Laurel sort of bequeathed the NP to Manny Villar, though old-time NP members like former Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw question it, as no formal party convention has been held. It would be extremely interesting to find out if between Villar and Cojuangco, a bigger, new NP may be in the making.
It’s been suggested a leading opposition leader is contemplating filing a case with the Supreme Court to annul the 2004 national elections, a long shot by any account. It’s also alleged that since October of last year, the opposition leader has had yet another tape purporting to contain an outright offer by the President, of a bribe to manipulate election results: the so-called “big bomb” that’s been bruited about. Whether true or not, this scuttlebutt suggests that for some in the opposition, anyway, the path may not be through demonstrations, but other tactical means.
Inspired by La Vida Lawyer, today’s meditation is on the following:
3. The Book of Army Management says: On the field
of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough:
hence the institution of gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary
objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution
of banners and flags.
24. Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means
whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused
on one particular point.
25. The host thus forming a single united body,
is it impossible either for the brave to advance alone,
or for the cowardly to retreat alone. This is the art
of handling large masses of men.
From the 1910 Translation of the Art of War, Sun Tzu.
These are the days of gongs and flags. La Vida Lawyer thinks that the sovereign should leave the war to the generals.