New witness

I was addressing the students of the Philippine Normal University this morning (after also addressing the employees of the Senate during their flag raising ceremony: staff were silent on the question of the senate leadership, which Rey Requiejo says is in danger of being toppled) and so missed the news of a new witness against the President. Thankfully Miron broke the news online and according to him, the witness sounds credible.

This, apparently, is the “more credible” witness Archbishop Cruz has decided to bring forward instead of ex-governor Dy. Speaking of bishops, the Manila Times says Manila Archbishop Rosales is interested in other cases, too. The Tribune has a different take on what Rosales said.

My column today is First Order of Business. Impeachment first, then charter change. Newsstand asks, regarding impeachment and other scenarios, what analytical framework are people being guided by? Last week, I attended a meeting at La Salle Green Hills where the various groups were asked to explain their frameworks. Will blog on this soon, after clearing some overdue work from my desk.

Yesterday, Fr. Bernas said, clarify first, what kind of federalism and parliamentarism is desired. A reader, who isn’t a Filipino, sent me this email in response to my previous column:

I find it fascinating that, here, the concepts of parliamentary government and unicameralism seem to have been conflated. Puzzling, too, because after all:

Israel is parliamentary and unicameral
The UK is parliamentary and bicameral
The US is presidential and bicameral
Nebraska is presidential (governor) and unicameral

And can unicameralism be consistent with federalism? I need to check, but I have the impression that all federal systems are bicameral, with the second chamber providing for some sort of regional/state representation.

Fel Maragay says, why not a plebiscite to see if people want charter change? Rita Jimeno says, the show must go on! In a commentary, the Tribune asks, why not a sectoral assembly for our legislative branch? Billy Esposo praises Ricky Carandang and bewails other new and public affairs hosts. Jove invites everyone to attend the iBlog Mini. 😀

Blogs of the Round Table is attempting a discussion tonight at 5 p.m. Do join us.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

31 thoughts on “New witness

  1. Comment -A new witness? It is battle of press releases, interviews, analysis and statements. Both sides not as lily white nor demonized as they paint each other and themselves.

    Question -Is not Australia and Malaysia Federal and unicameral?

  2. New witness – he seems credible. Chato (his counsel) mentions a cache of documents notarized as evidence. That we have to see. And that he is a nephew of Garci (not by blood but by affinity from the mother’s marriage?) that adds to the credibility. It was said that Garci is in London already and when louie (the witness) asked for permission to go out, according to Chato Garci said “bahala ka sa buhay mo”. 🙂

  3. Re new witness: Going by the cast of characters, so far it looks unconvincing. The guy himself looks like an unkempt, unshaven slob. He really looks like a gofer, not someone to be entrusted with top-secret operations. And Liway Chato isn’t the most reliable lawyer around. Like fellow publicity hound Frank Chavez, she tends to shoot from the hip. Then there’s the amount. From P2 million per, it’s now down to a measly P35 thou. Talk of deep discounts! Unless something more material is presented, this looks like a bad publicity stunt.

  4. The way both sides are trotting out characters one after another to grab media space, it’s becoming more difficult to believe either camp… and the sensationalistic bent of the media isn’t helping, too.

    So… for now I’m inclined to take the latest revelations with a large pack of rock salt.

  5. Wabbit,

    I totally agree.

    Last week, it was a $2 million pay-off and a totally credible government official who is very close to the president. Now it’s 35,000 and some unknown. Which is which? Lowering their standards perhaps?

    Not a Gloria fan, but this shady cast of characters is entirely laughable.

  6. i might sound apathetic.
    i am losing my trust with
    the witnesses being presented
    through media. they might help in
    the downfall of gloria but they
    are making the political crisis
    more confusing to the people.

    he he he he he. 🙂

  7. federalism may dampen the ethnic, cultural and linguistic conflict in our country. If this is the reason for federalism, then the federal states must be defined according to these terms and not on geographic terms. If this is so, then maybe it is correct to divide Philippines according to the 10 largest language groups. We will have an Ilocos state, a Pangasinan state, Pampanga state, Tagalog state, etc.
    It will be wrong to divide in terms of geography such that e.g. Pangasinan and Ilocos belong to the same state even if both are distinct language groups.

  8. I don’t think it is necessary to finish the impeachment first, before taking up the issue of Charter Change. It is possible that the former would be a protracted affair, even from the level of the House, forever postponing the latter. Personally I would like to see some foreign ownership restrictions and term limits repealed, and a parliamentary system replacing the current one – the sooner, the better.

  9. Does anyone really think this is going anywhere? Think back to all the Senate hearings (Pidal, Lacson, Kuratong Baleleng and all that) and try to recall what transpired after each expose. This bunch of senators is making a mockery of the institution, wasting our time and money and confirming what a bunch of fools they are. Even the impeachment of Erap was a sham when the senators opted not to open the 2nd envelope.

    Ifever we do go for a parliamentary form of government, I prefer a unicameral body – precisely because of these useless forays and investigations that doesn’t lead to any good…

  10. At this time, a shift to parliamentary, unicameral and federal type of gov’t will amount to cosmetic change. My guess is that the mandarins of Metro Manila will push for a federal type but will rig the implementation, just as they did for the local autonomy act. Ultimately, these are sideshows that distract us from a more pressing reality: that our leaders just aren’t up to par. You can shift to parliamentary but if you have no Mahathir or Lee Kuan Yew, you won’t get a miracle. All we have produced lately are bigtime losers and con men.

  11. johnxxv: “then maybe it is correct to divide Philippines according to the 10 largest language groups”

    so instead of just having one oppressive ethnic language (tagalog), we will have 10 oppressive languages. what’s to stop the major language groups from imposing their language on the 70 other minor language groups?

    i’m still all for the unitary state. just have them repeal that “filipino is national language” provision. we should go all the way with english as national language for it is also an international language.

  12. Maria Jose, a unicameral system will eliminate red tape and expense considerably. A multi-party (even a 2-party) system is enough of a safeguard to allow political dogs to continue with their endless wrangling and politicking.

  13. Re the new witness Michael Zuce–seems like he’s for real. Check out PCIJ. According to them, his affidavit includes memos from Garcillano and Joey Rufino detailing the preparations for the Mindanao operation.

  14. Manoling for King said: “i’m still all for the unitary state. just have them repeal that “filipino is national language” provision. we should go all the way with english as national language for it is also an international language.”

    The problem with the unitary state is that, besides imposing its language and heritage on the other ethnic groups, Manila centralized all power, wealth and industry to itself. Besides being the political capital, it has centralized financial, commercial, industrial, shipping, educational, media activities. It has not dispersed this to other centers. In the U.S., for example, New York is the financial capital, L.A. and Chicago are industrial centers, media is divided between New York and L.A. In Australia, Canberra is not a financial or commercial hub. In China, Beijing is more of a cultural hub. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangdong are more important for commerce, media and industry.

    And usually, the capital should be more strategically located. Manila is very far away from Mindanao. The more strategic capital would have been Cebu. No offense meant, but para talagang swapang ang central government based in Manila. They want it all for themselves.

  15. No offense to those who believe otherwise, the new witness Michael Zuce’s body language and shifty eyes and dubious background don’t jive with his testimony. So much unlike Clarissa Ocampo, former PCI officer, who testified during the Extrada trial. Ms. Ocampo was the classic example of a credible witness.

    Why didn’t Zuce testify in the proper forum instead of the media if he had enough evidence to convict the person and why only now? Remember that Clarissa Ocampo first revealed what she knew about Estrada, the accused, in the proper forum and not in front of the media.

  16. With the current cast of thousands in the House, I don’t think unicameralism is the way to go.

    I still believe in checks and balances. Unless, of course, we elect people with sterling qualities. Not the syncophants, the loudmouths, and those who are after the pork and the perks. Only then will I support unicameral parliament.

  17. verna, wasn’t chavit just as craven (and some say as guilty) as erap, and wasn’t he the star witness during the impeachment trial? clarissa ocampo hopped in during mid-game, but chavit started the ball rolling.

  18. To passionately indulge in the “great debate” about charter change and its downstream decision points – bicameral vs unicameral, unitary vs federal, con-ass vs concon, etc etc – is to let GMA get away with what her SONA was all about: divert our attention from the resolution of the high crimes she is being accused of.

    I believe we should not allow her that luxury.

  19. The new witness is a joke. Honestly, the opposition needs to do better than this. He was more or less a “contractual” Palace worker … I don’t think he would get invited to an alleged high-level-security meeting/pay-off?

    His documents are doubtful at best, and not one shows the President directly ordering the Commissioners to cheat. They don’t even prove the La Vista meeting took place. All we have is his word. I would say a good lawyer could bore holes through those easily.

    Chavit is different. Granted, he is also a shady character, but he was also a member of Erap’s in-circle … someone who can believably have direct access to the evidence that Erap gained from jueteng.

    Seriously, the jueteng “crusaders” need a new scriptwriter/master tactician … stat. It’s time the Senate “in aid of legislation” hearings stop. Let them file the proper charges in court, not parade the witnesses before the media, who understandably blow everything out of proportion these days.

  20. The Inquirer’s tracking of Michael Zuce’s activities during the elections included a notation that he and other cohorts met in Tubod, Lanao del Norte. Now, for us from Ozamis City, Tubod has always been that “notorious” place where one can easily get drivers’ licenses (both the ordinary and the one that allows you to drive trucks) for — then — about 1,000 pesos. If you wanted a new car plate to “register” your car, you go to Tubod. If you want to look for your car-napped vehicle, chances are you will be able to start tracking it in Tubod. One of the great stories told to us by older denizens while drinking Ginebra San Miguel in one of those quaint Ozamis kantos, was that when Sen. Enrile’s car was carnapped, it was eventually found in Tubod.

    Right Sam?

  21. the new witness’ account looks credible considering the he seems to be sure of the dates and places they went to. The hotel on roxas boulevard, mc donald these places can be verified to strengthen the witness’ testimony.

  22. jack, jokes like Zuce won’t ensnare GMA. Neither will mercenary lawyers and political wannabes like Liway Chato and Frank Chavez. And While the dogs of the Left lie in bed with the hyenas of the Kleptocracy (Imee, JV, Jinggoy), you will never get the middle forces to march in indignation. Arbishop Rosales said as much.

    As for discussing charter change, it may be more productive than those costly, inane investigations in aid of legistlation. At least the discussions are more interesting and at a higher intellectual level.

  23. Carl Cid, I am an eternal optimist and having said so, this sorry episode started by the Hello Garci tape has taken a life of its own and will proceed to its logical conclusion, the twists and turns nothwithstanding.

    Interesting and intellectually stimulating they may be, discussions about charter change can indeed serve your noble purpose, as they will GMA’s shrewd one(s), but I respectfully refuse to take part for the reason I have stated.

  24. to Carl Cid S.M. Inting

    I don’t think you’re comparison with U.S. and Australia are valid, these are large continent/countries while the Philippines is a small archipelagic state.

    Manila will continue to be important for Luzon for a long time no matter what the set up of government/s there may be for the simple reason that it has the only accessible port for the whole of Luzon. Not even Subic can take away the sheer volume of ships it can accommodate.

  25. Maybe one way to ease this burden is for the government to survey the Pangasinan coast and see if there’s a place worth turning into a world class sea port. If there is that would ease the volume of goods/people/transport that goes from Northern Luzon to Manila, and with a port comes development, manufacturing, financial snowball effect.

  26. Hi Manolo, just wanted to comment on your proposed legislative timetable: “impeachment first, then charter change”.

    I agree with you that the question on Gloria’s ability to continue to lead the country must first be resolved before we make the monumental change in our country’s political structure.

    However, beyond these two pressing issues, I am dismayed at how our “representatives” in Congress and the Senate are so caught up in answering these burning questions and not attending to the real business of setting up the systems we need for the country to operate. I refer to the question on the E-VAT law. Whether or not it will be declared unconstitutional is still a question to be decided on by the SC but there are still the onerous bicam insertions that must be reviewed and revised. Otherwise, the stated objectives of the new tax law will be thwarted as the new law actually encourages more businesses to go underground and avoid paying what is an irrecoverable tax.

    On the matter of Charter Change, I am also wary about the positions people are taking because no one is discussing in concrete terms two issues I feel are critical, and central to our continuing political crises: accountability and money.

    Should we shift to a unicameral-federal system, what mechanisms will be available to constituents that will allow for recall of state and local officials? Will these mechanisms be more accessible than the mechanisms currently provided for by the 1986 Constitution?

    With regards money, I have yet to read about how our legislators are planning to distribute the taxes that will be collected under the new government and what liabilities each branch and level would have. The first I have read is Francisco Tripon’s column in BusinessWorld’s Aug. 2 issue. As sordid as the topic may be, Mr. Tripon is correct that at the heart of the issue is the question of money. Who gets to keep it, and who gets to spend it.

    If the proposed states get to keep most of the funds, how is the liability for foreign debt incurred by the National Government going to be divvied up? Will the states continue to bankroll PhilHealth’s medical insurance enrollment for indigents? How about the NAPOCOR subsidies?

    From what I’ve read, the economic impact of changing the structure of government is not being actively discussed and it is an issue that must be brought up and actively debated.

    My apologies for the extra long post.

  27. Manoling, the point is Manila monopolizes everything. The Philippine coastline is long enough to justify setting up several key centers along the way. A deliberate effort to dismantle Manila’s tentacles is necessary if a unitary government were to be had. I wouldn’t question Manila’s importance to Luzon. But it imposes itself on Mindanao, where better ports can be had, with no typhoons. As a matter of fact, it would be more convenient and cheaper for Mindanao to establixh shipping links with Singapore than with Manila.

    And moving the capital to the Visayas, such as Cebu or Bacolod, would be better under a unitary government. Otherwise, the option of Federalism is still more attractive.

    Jay – good point. Mindanao contributes more than necessary to Napocor’s subsidies. Since a very large portion of Mindanao power is from indigenous sources, power should be a lot cheaper there. However, to subsidize Luzon and the rest of the country, power users in Mindanao have to pay an extra amount. Federalism should put an end to that.

  28. The statement of Gov. Faustino S. Dy Jr. will be heard VIA LIVE SATELLITE tdy (Aug. 5) at 6 am in ch.2 and 7.

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