The Supreme Court’s decision has inspired commentary by Ricky Carandang who warns that, given the massive shortfall in collections from the “sin taxes” passed earlier, government will have to tax the middle class again rather soon:
Given the discrepancy between government estimates and actual collections on the sin tax, any logical person must now take the estimates of the revenue from the VAT with a gigantic grain of salt.
The problem is, when those revenues start falling woefully short about a year from now the authors of those brilliant tax measures will come back to us…the middle class taxpayer…and look for ways to raise taxes once again in order to prevent the national government from going bankrupt.
Rational Choice is more optimistic, saying the Supreme Court’s decision proves “we’re not a Mickey Mouse country after all.” Incidentally, he has some interesting views on the idea that a country can “take off.” He thinks economic prosperity is achieved in increments and not through a big push. Read his thoughts here.
Other commentaries focus on the prospects and procedures for impeachment in the coming days. There’s this news report on the intense lobbying going on to secure signatures:
At press time yesterday, the pro-impeachment team said nine more lawmakers would be added to the 73 who had endorsed the amended impeachment complaint.
The nine were identified as Representatives Antonio Roman (Liberal Party, Bataan), Jesus Crispin Remulla (Partido Magdalo, Cavite), Romualdo Vicencio (Lakas, Samar), Laurence Wacnang (LP, Kalinga), Agapito “Butz” Aquino (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Makati), Teodoro Locsin (PDP-Laban, Makati), Danton Bueser (LP, Laguna), Constantino Jaraula (Lakas, Cagayan de Oro) and Emilio Macias (Nationalist People’s Coalition, Negros Oriental).
The danger with a report like this, of course, is that the Palace will focus attention on them.
Fr. Joaquin Bernas writes a commentary for the Inquirer, explaining that there are a number of “what if” scenarios that could bedevil the impeachment process. At plenary, the Committee on Justice will actually submit three resolutions it undertook: “(1) barring the Lopez complaint and the amended complaint, (2) declaring the Lozano complaint sufficient in form, and (3) declaring the Lozano complaint insufficient in substance.” A one-third vote can uphold or reject any one, or all, of these resolutions. Bernas writes,
If the plenary upholds the decision of the committee rejecting the Lopez complaint and the amended complaint, I can see the possibility of bringing the matter to the Supreme Court…
If, however, the plenary rejects the committee’s exclusion of the amended complaint, a decision will next have to be made whether the amended complaint is sufficient in form and substance….
But another complication might intervene before the matter is taken up by the plenary. The opposition might succeed in gathering 79 or more signatures in support of the amended complaint. What then? Will the complaint now go directly to the Senate for trial?
The answer to this question is not clear even if this is what happened in the attempt to impeach then President Joseph Estrada.
Former president Ramos has weighed in with a statement aired on government TV:
“There is no clear resolution. That’s a big question mark,” Ramos said in an impromptu press conference at the government-owned Channel 4 in Quezon City.
“It appears that the majority has won the first round. But let us not forget that there is still a plenary session that could be the final opportunity [for the opposition],” he said…
“She has won some time,” Ramos said, adding that last July 8, it was only “a matter of hours” before “things [would have been] one way or the other.”
But he said the President “must not be complacent” because “what she won as a concession in time also has a terminal date.”
What does this mean? Has the scuttlebutt that FVR loyalists opposed to GMA would make an appeal to him been proven true? And is this FVR’s way of warning the President that he had better have firm commitments for charter change before the plenary next week?
PCIJ reports that Rep. Marcoleta, who endorsed the original Lozano complaint, according to Dinky Soliman at the behest of Sec. Gabby Claudio, has been rejected by his party and that Marcoleta may have asked the administration to keep him in office. The plot thickens. Punzi takes a skeptical look at representatives who’ve withdrawn their signatures.
The punditocracy has the Inquirer editorial asking whether the administration has won a Pyrrhic victory; Larry Sipin trusts neither Dinky Soliman (because she streaks her hair) nor the government propagandists; Rudy Romero blames Civil Society for foisting the President on the country; Jarius Bondoc seems to have turned against the President but despondently points out the inability of the opposition to present an inspiring alternative.
Curiously, in the same paper, two columnists contradict each other. Jojo Robles praises the late Senator Lorenzo Sumulong for his exposes:
And what did Enchong Sumulong do to have deserved such near-universal acclaim? Old folk still remember that Sumulong led four of the most widely publicized investigations of his time, all of which remind us of todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s headlines: the impeachment case against President Elpidio Quirino for alleged misuse of government funds; the Tambobong-Buenavista case involving the brother of a sitting president and his secretary of justice; the inquiry into the multimillion-peso lobby fund put up to legalize the stay of illegal Chinese immigrants; and the Harry Stonehill corruption scandal.
But Emil Jurado, who defends the President with as much fervor as he defended Ferdinand Marcos, grumbles that,
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s both pathetic and tragic that we have senators like Minority Floorleader Aquilino Pimentel who act like investigators instead of lawmakers crying out for an investigation of the so-called San Mateo raid of Segundo TabayoyongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s room containing alleged fraudulent election returns. Obviously, Pimentel thinks himself as a policeman since the Ã¢â‚¬Å“raidÃ¢â‚¬Â is purely a police concern.
Alvin Capino attacks Dinky Soliman; Dan Mariano takes Edmund Reyes to task; Rene Saguisag sarcastically presents a Congressional censure as an option (something I seriously proposed in private, prior to the President’s “apology”). On a cultural note, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil writes of Filipinos in Louisiana and Texas.
The blogosphere has Republica musing on visiting the Turtle Islands (the Philippine flag was raised here by a young diplomat named Diosdado Macapagal many years ago when it was ceded to the Philippines by the British); Big Mango continues his series on nation building, tackling energy and taxation. Edwin Lacierda begins dissecting where the opposition went wrong.
Overseas, Hurricane Katrina coverage is grimmer by the day. Read NOLA.com for New Orleans news, and the BBC’s eyewitness accounts. Author Poppy Z. Brite continues her blog, this time as a refugee. MSNBC.com has its anchors and reporters blogging, including this interesting tidbit on Congressional strategies to immediately fund rescue and reconstruction efforts:
In reality, most members of Congress won’t be coming back early Ã¢â‚¬â€ they’ll stick to their original plans, returning to D.C. after Labor Day. Only a handful of members from each party will need to be present. They’ll use a procedure called “unanimous consent,” which can be invoked only when no one objects (and who in their right mind would object to this?). In a matter of minutes (barring speeches, we hope) they’ll approve $10 billion in emergency funding, which will surely be only the first installment.
BuzzMachine summarizes, though, what is going on in the USA -it’s “more than a tragedy -a scandal.” George W. Bush has asked Americans not to buy gasoline unless they absolutely need it; Homeland Security regulations are being relaxed to allow foreign shipping to help transport fuel from port to port; there are reports of looting, shootings, bewildered and despairing thousands in New Orleans, and deaths by the thousands… Latest news (viewed online) is that Chubby Checker, the singer, has been located alive in New Orleans. The whole thing is now being touted as the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since the San Francisco earthquake of 1907.
An Englishman in Osaka blogs of a very curious phenomenon in Japan: “sleepers,” who are people who die of overwork while riding home on trains, their corpses remaining in the trains until people notice they’re starting to decompose.