Cebu and a toothbrush

With only a pit stop at home to change to a fresh shirt and collect my notes, I went straight from the airport, having come from Cebu (which I won’t blog about now, as I’m going to make it the topic of my Monday column), to a special meeting of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines who wanted to solicit the views of certain individuals about what’s going on, and specifically, the appropriateness of a “Truth and Accountability Commission.” The resource people were Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., Christian Monsod, Dinky Soliman, Cookie Diokno, Randy David, Atty. Sison, Rep. Teddy Casino, Shiella Coronel, and myself. Each one of us was asked to present our views to the group, after which they (the AMRSP) held an executive session. I don’t know if our individual proposals, positions, and the ensuing discussions are for public consumption, but I did have a conversation with Christian Monsod that’s worth sharing.

Obviously, Christian Monsod had a contrary position to those publicly espoused by people such as myself, Dinky Soliman, Randy David, and others (including the AMRSP) who have called on the President to resign. But he does not think the President is innocent, he says he has misgivings about private convictions about the moral certainty many people possess about the President’s culpability being the grounds for political actions.

He suggests a series of activities that will helpthe country move on, not in the direction of simply setting aside and forgetting the President’s controversial position, but instead, helping the country move forward in a positive manner. Among his concrete proposals, as I recall them:

1. There are two Comelec commissioner vacancies. Pressure must be applied to fill them with competent, credible people. In January or February, 4 more Comelec commissioners are due to retire. Replacing them with credible, capable, people will jump start the pressing need to get both electoral reform going, and preparing for the 2007 elections which are, in bureaucratic terms, quite near. This ensures a majority of new, possibly better motivated and effective commissioners.

2. Impeach Comelec Chairman Abalos because he, more likely than not, knows even more than Garcillano ever did, and reform will be impossible so long as he remains the Comelec Chairman.

3. Congress must appropriate the necessary funds to modernize the Comelec (about 2 billion pesos, because funds previously allocated for this are gone, and there seem to be no provisions in the present budget for this purpose).

4. The Namfrel must continue its counting of the past elections, and attempt to achieve 100% coverage if possible. This can be done with reference to electoral returns held by the Comelec, the opposition, and the administration. When the Namfrel ended its quick count, the President was leading only by 500,000 votes. The remaining percentage uncounted (15-20%?) could possibly erase this lead, or at the very least, result in something different from the official figures certified by Congress. Incidentally, though Monsod didn’t say it, this would afford Namfrel an opportunity to redeem itself.

The first three activities, he says, will test whether or not the President is sincere in being a new, improved leader. The third point is a matter of urgent necessity. The last will help arrive at a factual basis for determining whether the President cheated or not, without the need for the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (or to pressure it to reconvene).

During our discussion, Monsod was frank and open to my views, which I expressed clearly to him. Surprisingly, we saw eye to eye on quite a number of things. We began by agreeing that a fundamental lesson of recent months is the devotion of the public to “processes,” that is, to following and using the means provided by law, for resolving differences and political questions. He agrees, as I have said, that rallies only convey the message that having failed in processes in which the opponents of the President entered into with eyes wide open, they simply refuse to accept any process, and won’t stop at anything, while the public prefers to have an open mind (though it has made up its mind to disliking the President). He think the big problem is that there is not enough attention paid to gathering facts, and too much on projecting biases to the media. He and I also agreed that the fundamental weakness of the efforts against the President goes beyond the public’s dislike for the usual suspects from the Marcos and Estrada camps, it extends to the Hyatt 10, which has not matched its criticisms with a willingness to suffer for their convictions (I have expressed this privately to the members of the Hyatt 10, many other people have, too). How are people expected to act, much less follow, if those in a position of leadership won’t suffer the risks of speaking out?

Monsod maintains that this crisis has been in the making over the past three administrations, which systematically set out to turn the Comelec into a gigantic machine for propagating fraud instead of what it had become during Haydee Yorac’s and his time. He also thinks the crisis is an opportunity to insist on processes being made to work, and that the public instinctively wants this, which is why it has spoken out by being cold and silent in the face of calls for people to come out and march in the streets. He says he will e-mail me his paper with these thoughts, and when he does, I’ll post them as they provide food for thought.

At the very least, I’m convinced Christian Monsod is not an apologist for the President, but has a clear and impressive view of important things we should all think about. Randy David, who of course holds strong views about the President, said something I think it’s OK for me to mention: there are many sectors that need to be held accountable for the mess we’re in, and not just the opposition. There’s civil society, there’s the bishops who proclaimed the elections as sound, there’s Namfrel that insists the whole exercise was hunky-dory.

The other hubbub of the moment is, of course, the idea of “creeping martial law,” a creepy thought indeed. The Inquirer quotes sources as saying a proclamation of a state of emergency is on the drawing boards; scuttlebutt says the arrest list comprises 300 names (a friend naughtily said, “pack a toothbrush,” recalling Martial Law in 1972: I countered I’m not important enough and don’t want to be like the late Antonio Miranda or former Speaker Pepito Laurel, who waited, bags packed, to be locked up and were never arrested, to their eternal shame -Marcos simply wouldn’t give them the privilege of bearing the badge of honor of being a Martial Law detainee).

What I did hear on the radio was Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales saying what they were studying were provisions in the Constitution permitting the government to take over certain industries in a time of emergency. To wit, Article XII “The National Economy and Patrimony”:

SEC. 17.
In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.

SEC. 18.
The State may, in the interest of national welfare or defense, establish and operate vital industries and, upon payment of just compensation, transfer to public ownership utilities and other private enterprises to be operated by the Government

Examples given to me by a lawyer friend of what these would include extends to: Meralco, PLDT, Smart, Globe, BayanTel, cable and internet providers, and the media (radio, television, newspapers and online media), oil and gas companies, transportation companies (bus, jeep, and even taxi services/providers).

There are those who view that “the preemptive, calibrated response” is an effort to telegraph the government’s moves, but others seriously doubt if martial law, per se, could be imposed on a national or even local scale, since the House might approve it, but the Senate would block it, never mind what the Supreme Court itself might say. But the takeover of certain strategic industries in a time of “national emergency” wouldn’t require many troops.

As for the appropriateness of the President’s increasingly hard line position, the thoughts of Newsstand bear reflecting:

[B]ut what her [the President’s] “bully in the schoolyard” speech has done has been to accelerate the pace of political developments. It will radicalize even those who had no previous intention to take to the streets. It will confirm fears of a “creeping martial law.” Not least, it will narrow her options for dealing with the opposition, needlessly, dangerously.

It’s like a schoolboy going to class with a balisong, maybe because he likes the feel, the comfort of steel, that the switchblade provides. He may have no intention of using it, but when the inevitable fight at the back of the building happens, he may have no choice but to bring it out. Then you have blood in the schoolyard.

“Maximum tolerance” was not only pro-democracy; it was also good politics, because it allowed the authorities an enormous amount of room to maneuver. GMA’s “rule of law,” or Ermita’s “calibrated preemptive response,” drastically limits the democratic space; it is also terrible politics, because it commits the authorities to a certain course of action regardless of the circumstances.

Ricky Carandang points to what seems to be an emerging strategy that some time ago I said, if pursued, will end up backfiring on the President (my own sources confirms both the plan on Hacienda Luisita and the Aquino family’s response; pulling that thorn from the Aquino’s side will ultimately help the Aquinos more than the President):

Today, sources in the Department of Agrarian Reform say that the government intends to subject Hacienda Luisita to land reform as a final solution to the long standing problems between the Cojuangco family and their tenant farmers.

Former President Aquino, whose family owns the hacienda, is reportedly resigned to the loss of their family plantation. Under the plan, the commercially developed portion of the property will remain in Cojuangco hands, but the farmlands will be turned over to the tenant farmers. An announcement will be made on Tuesday.

At the same time, former Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman is preparing for Monday, when she will file her formal reply at the Ombudsman’s office to a case filed against her in August for cancelling a contract that the PCSO entered into with IT firm DFNN when she was secretary…

Just for good measure, Malacanang is trying to appease the public through populist inititives. It is set to approve a proposal for the national government to borrow $570 million to assume full control of the MRT3 by buying out the project’s private investors so it can continue to run the trains at a loss. Its allies in Congress are also set to approve a resolution to defer the implementation of the VAT on poewr and fuel until June 2006.

The two gentlemen, I think, say all that needs to be said. Please read their blog entries in full. Now even if you don’t have to worry about packing a toothbrush, just in case, Piercing Pens points to tips on how to be a Cyber-Dissident.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

23 thoughts on “Cebu and a toothbrush

  1. WOW!!! Christian Monsod, Randy David, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, and Shiela Coronel and MLQ3! That meeting must have been great with all the Heavyweights in the Credibility Department is concerned. All of the above are on my short list of RESPECTABLE PEOPLE IN INANG BAYAN.

    I hope in my heart that something good comes out of that endeavour.

  2. What positive contribution could Teddy Casino possible make to the discussion? What positive controbution has Teddy Casino ever made? God help us if the AMRSP begins taking advice from leftist demagogues like him.

  3. Carl, you sound like a gloria propagandist. I would not be surprised if you are. Open your eyes, stick with the facts. Where is Garci? What happened in the elction.

  4. I agree with Christian Monsod. The mess we’re in points to weakening institutions. It would be better for the country if we concentrated on correcting that.

    One other thing the opposition should spend their energies on, more than street protests, is Loren Legarda’s complaint. That will clear a lot of issues once resolved. If the results prove GMA and Noli’s victory is questionable, I think a lot more people will accept Loren as president.

  5. Makikiraan uli…

    Tama ba na hayaan na lang na ignoramus ang karamihan ng mamamayan sa larangan ng politika? mayroon pa nagsabi dito na dahil sa walang magawa,puro pag-bablog na lang ang pinaggagawa ng iba ukol sa politika. Para sa akin lang,mas maige naman ang maging blogger ka hinggil sa politika,lalo sa maka-Pilipinong pag-iisip,pag-babakasakali na sa ating naiisip at kuro-kuro kahit papaano makatisod ng ideya na maaring makatulong sa bayang magiliw — kumpara naman sa walang ginawa kundi maki-pag chat(porno,lokohan atpb)kung kani-kanino sa ‘internet’,o di kaya magbabad sa mga video games…

    ang totoo,kahit naman anong pagtuturo sa isang tao,kung ito’y walang hilig sa isang usapin–hindi mo rin ito basta maaakay sa nais mo…
    kagaya dito sa site ni mlq3,hindi ka basta papasok(regular blogger)kung wala kang hilig sa usaping politikal at pagmamalasakit sa Inang-bayan!

    Kaya pasalamat pa rin tayo sa mga bloggers na nag-kakainteres na sumilip at alamin ang ating mga saloobin… kaya nagkaka-interes ako sa mga blogspot na matao(w/ visitors)–doon ako pumapasok! di na kailangan ang sariling blogspot–maige na ang ganito kahit saling pusa lang!
    maaaring naiirita ang iba(kasali ako marahil)sa kakaibang opinyon ng iba na salungat sa ating abot na pang-unawa…

    OFW ako at halos gahol sa oras upang magbabad sa ‘internet’ ngunit kung may pagkakataon sinisikap kong buksan ang mga site na may kinalaman sa Pinas.

    Uulitin ko lubos akong naniniwala na ang masang Pilipino ay kinakailangan ng wastong impormasyong politikal na may kinalaman sa interes at kapakinabangan ng sambayanan.
    …ibang-iba ang katayuan natin sa Singapore o Malaysia man! – unang-una,nagkaroon na sila ng lider na totoong makabayan at tunay na pinangalagaan ang interes ng kanilang bansa!

    Sa sitwasyon at komplikasyon ng Pinas–habang ignoramus ang masa,ignoramus din ang ating magiging mga lider(sa interes ng nakararami)at gobyerno! para sa akin, naiiba,espesyal, at pambihira ang bansa natin–kung kaya’t espesyal din at pambihira din ang katapat na pamamaraan…

    Kung karamihan sa Pinoy naniniwala na wala ng pag-asa ang Pinas…subalit,si Juan ay lubos na umaasa…

    Hindi basta tinagurian Bayang hinirang ang bayan kong ‘ganun na lang!

    Bagong sibol
    bagong pag-asa,
    bagong salinlahi…
    lahing Pilipino!

    ang tunay
    na magbubuklod
    lahing Pilipino!

  6. You have a list of people who are not for the publics greater good.

    Dinky out for herself
    Randy David (Closet Communist)

    Please pick some people who have some credibility, that actually want to work for a better country and life for all.

    It is out of the cupboard why Cory called for the Resignation of PGMA, as the DAR were catching up to her land, someone wouild have told her months ago that they were looking into her property.

    Why this loging system stopping people using ‘Fake Email addresses’ Trying to track them before martial law…

    I have noticed in the last few months that the truth of corys leadership was not as good as first published by most, the corruption the way the constitution was re-written, not removing things which were placed in by Marcos for him and his cronies.

    Why did she not reverse the Presidental Decrees of the marcoses which were obviously for the presidents and their friends. Maybee because her friends also mad lots from her presidency..

    It is funny to hear all this about Martial Law. When all is see so far is a creeping implementation of current laws, They should speed this up and put the control back to where it should be. BIR, BOC, DAR and other agencys are at last flexing their muscle and doning what they have allways been assigned to do. This is why some people are scared.

    I think i heard our friend is back.. Galeng Galeng.

  7. They dont have the balls to declare martial law. The junior officers will just take out their generals. Thats what kind of officers we have at the moment. remember oakwood. remember the ramblings of these poor soldiers. forget it at your own peril.

    i have no issue about declaring martial law if we really have a competent leader. lord knows we filipinos need dicipline and some spsanking in the ass but who will stand up to it? ill follow lacson or god forbid eddie villanueva than gloria who had 3 years to prove herself but didint.

    just my thought on the matter

    shameless plug – – a free forum for filipinos.

  8. Manolo, I’m glad you had an invigorating cebu trip,guess we all need a break from this harasing life.
    Manolo, there will always be qiestions that needs answers.But if your refering to the “garci” tapes,give it a break.We must be consistent.If we agree that we must follow the rule of law,than why are we paying so much attention to something that won’t be recognized by the courts anyway and was ment to divide,confuse & create doubt.
    We all have our share of frustrations.But should we not pause a while and really think hard what is the cause and above all what is it “I” can do. Frustration has many cause.It can be because of misplaced expectations.It can also be because of “maling akala”.It’s really a subjective feeling.The chances of a secure person being frustarted can be less than a person who has had limited oppurtunites in life to fully undrstand matters.
    I’m thankful to you for giving people the oppurtunity to be able to express our thoughts through your blog.
    I just hope that it be a gathering of people who can express themselves w/ great confidence and not just because of frustration.
    I think we must be brave enough to discourage what is not right.
    I think radicalisim starts from us having new fresh ideas.
    I think that jeepny drivers must not even give it a second thought of using their power in order to obtain consesions from goverment.I think it’s a lame excuse just because drivers use it for things apparently for freedom & Rights.
    I think we are a very emotional society.We tend to give sympathy w/ others more value & in the proceses we create more problems.
    You where talking about giving people power another level,but honestly see no difference from being in the streets.You just suggested a comfortable way to do it.
    EDSA 1 & 2 among other things was also an exciting experience,but look where we are today?
    I think we must be careful in suggesting things we can’t be in control off to have the results we intend.
    I think we must encourage them to study hard, to be well read, to improve their skill in comprehension, to understand that dicipline is the the root of succeses.we must encourage them never to make conclussion w/o having all the proper elements.we must encourage them to approach life w/ an open mind but to be very inquisative.
    frustartion can only happen to those who take things lock stock & barrel!!
    We must encourage them to discover that they have something to share too and not just be there looking for “idols” & “false prophets”!!
    If we have to be assets for change we have to be properly prepared.
    The real world is not for losers and feelings.
    But I honestly beleive it is a great injustice to our youth to exploit their inoncence!
    If we really want to lead them & inspire them we must help them discover that they too have something to give.
    Let’s not drug them to partisan politic.Because just as you can maybe bring down an administration w/ a bunch of frustarted people and repalce leaders, you can be sure that the vicious cycle will go on!Is that what we really want?
    lets stop being so mababaw in our goals!
    let’s stop selling democacy & Rights w/o mentioning that the other side of the coin is about responsabilties and obligations too.
    If we want honesty from others, lets first of all be honest w/ ourselves.
    Than we don’t need to do any convincing the others.

  9. joselu, just one question. presuming the garci tapes are illegal and unusable in court, why then, the government coverup? you see, it’s not the tapes themselves that turned me against the president. it’s the coverup that followed them. rule of law? then why wasn’t bunye arrested or at least, fired? why did bunye release the tapes first of all?

  10. Presuming the garci tapes are illegal and unusable in court.

    You know why he was not arrested, Because if they had by the time they got arround to it they would have had to arrest the entire opposition and placed them in jail too, Then you would have said that she contrived the tapes to remove any opposition from the country. Which she could still do, I think it is only two senators which refused to listen to the tapes. Next election they are really the only two who can run.. Thought about that, cannot use the “OH FOR LAW MAKING WE WILL LISTEN TO IT..” then you could take 100 people shoot them and say we were just doing it to test our laws and see where the loopholes lie…

    And you cannot say they did anything what new laws were made none, it was a witch hunt that failed because they were looking for a witch not a wizard. Out matched out gunned out manovered. The best defense is to look weak look stupid and have a good offense.

    It was like it was a written script, every move the opposition tried was too a percieved weakness and each time she would fire back, just one shot and kill the advance. Someone had been reading some good military war books, or the ART OF WAR..

    Even your comentaries helped her,

    Rule one…
    If the enemy have important information on you and are planning an attack, Expose the information before they have finnished Planning.

    Rule Two…
    Show a weakness and play on it, Open doors for the willing to walk through. (Hyatt 10 let them jump ship expose the enemy within..)

    Rule Three…
    Do the oposite that they think you will do… First stay quiet..
    Second Stand Firm ..
    Third Cut them down one by one..

    You must eat an elephant one bite at a time.. and the only thing that scares an elephant the most is a mouse..

    They were the elephant and she was the mouse..

    Her size, and appearance extrudes weakness but inside is a little giant. She has always had to use her mind not muscle to get where she is. Where as the likes of Lacson and Escadero he used muscle, and the Guapo effect. Which in a street fight with no rules both of these fail…

    Killed on the battle field of politics, I think is was Miriam that said it best she changed sides because she knew that the GMA side had so much more experience in the Political waste land that it was a wiser step than the FPJ side which had no legs..

  11. That martial law talk was a canard that PDI gave credence to. Martial law under the present Constitution isn’t as draconian nor as fearsome nor as easily done during the time of Marcos. Obviously people will react to anything PDi places inthe front page so today it’s running the disclaimers of the false story it lent credence to by giving it prominence.

    I don’t mind if they nationalize Globe Telecom because it’s run pretty much like a government enterprise: callous, greedy and misleading. (I’m a Globe subscriber so I should know. I don’t know about Smart or Sun.)

    As for the Comelec, totally overhauling it would be Gloria’s challenge. I don’t think she has the heart to do it, as she seems to be averse to doing something for good governance that doesn’t benefit her at all. So my fearless guess is she’ll flunk this test and, unsurprisigly, very few will mind. I will be happy to be proven wrong.

  12. If she touches the Comelec and does not put Randy David in charge of it you will all complain that it is biased to her side..

    Remember if she goes to her aids and asks who should be in it she will never get a unbiased as during our lives we decide who is good from meeting with them and having some relationship with them, and we all hear degority statements about others so in the end they would say it is all her friends or power brokers. What you want her to go to the opposition and ask for them to give her a list of people they would want.

    Probably the best way is to walk out on to the streets and pick the first 10 people you see, and select from them.

    Everyone has biases, You Do I Do. We all do. And we all have our price, Mine i hope is final integrity, I may not be good allways but i hope the total taken in a balance would be good…

    But then again all my friends will be in hell and i will be lonely in heaven, so what do i do….

  13. at last i made it, i wonder why when all of a sudden your blog is gone missing from txtpower, and it was really frustrating not being able to post a comment yesterday after having to suffer a internet shut down due to the fake nbi raid on pirated software.

    i do agree with you on the real feelings in most cebuanos not much really when compared to ilonggos when it comes to GMA but then where does it leave these “silent one’s” who do not want GMA and at the same time do not trust the opposition.

    while our esteemed political analysts ponders, contemplates on this issue GMA and her “creeping martial law” is about to come to form and all we have are the usual cries of protest from the usual traditional politicians,
    even the catholic hierarchy is questionably silent yet within the cbcp the pro-GMA have been airing their consent to GMA’s pending state of emergency and much more so to the governments crackdown on the continuing street protests.

    we have regressed, with an opposition divided, with the leftists looked on with mistrust, a search for a leader must begin in earnest, time is imminent otherwise the people suffer towards 2010 and that is a long, long way to go…

  14. bt, I could in turn accuse you of being an opposition propagandist. But there’s no need to go into that.

    The fact is, whatever happened in last year’s election isn’t important to me. I don’t even think that it’s important to most people. Maybe it’s important to you and some people who have political designs. But to most of us, we only want to go on making a living, oblivious to all the political noise. After all, we managed to get by without the help of politics or politicians. Why should we allow politics to interrupt or bother us with our daily lives?

  15. i read your monday column over at, “Moving On”. it is exactly what many people feel and largely why the rallies of the past couple of months has failed to gain any sort of ground!

    people are looking for reform, you can almost taste it in the air (even in the poluted air of our cities). what will its shape be, what form it will take and who can we get to lead that charge— is a big wide question.

    i hope the people who run things (leaders of the campaign to oust pgma) can gain insight from all these things and just may be… will have the will and the courage to lead the charge to reform our cultural, economic and political system. our people are poised to listen to someone who can.

  16. Manolo, Bunye did not release the tapes, from what i understand, he was trying to bit the others to releaseing it.I don’t think there was malice in what he did.
    althought, i must admit that the palace was really stupid in the way it was handeled.I think there was no coordination.
    The tapes where really super damaging.
    For me Manolo I think that things are not as simple as black & white.If there is a cover-up, it seems to be that the damage can be so big that PGMA is the list of our problems.It’s a do or die power strugle & I’m almost sure those of us who really want real change will just get caught in the middle.
    believe me, I too have so many questions and from day one have been weighing things.I admit it’s a shity situations.obviously there is the military involved.They are mega presuring PGMA,they are also manipulating our sentiments.they are exploiting our every weakness .If we get through this strom we will certainly be stronger but if we don’t elements for a revolution are getting ripe.
    That is why I alsways push for education,taking time to explain the bigger picture.PGMA is just incidental.It’s just that we are comming to a head of all our social faults.
    I know the Filipinos are a great people and nice & hardworking but we have a serious flow in our weakness of character.Through the decades we have grown acostomed to doing the wrong things & not even knowing it is wrong.
    Anyway, these are just my thoughts.I even may be wrong or maybe not even answered your question.

  17. joselu, bunye was the first released the cd. He was the first to quack about it. read the chronological event about that garci cd.

  18. Samuel Ong had it first… He gave it to others..

    Bunye was just trying to beat them to the punch, cutting the wind from their sails, by first releasing it, and from the overall out come that worked, by having a dis-jointed opposition, and all of them clammering to be president and comming up with new ideas each day, they fell on their own sword.

  19. yes Ed Bunye was the first. ironicaly if it was not for him the tapes would have not circulated so oepenly.It seems that those who had it did not really know waht to do w/ it. It seems that Bunye’s bringing it out opened the flood gates. Although it seems Bunye wante to bit the other to the punch but it backfired. honestly it was the most stupid thing. been woundering why PGMA did not fire Bunye?
    Sleeping, yes Ong had it also nga.But who was the first to have it?Was it Tatad that then he gave Francisco?
    what ever happened to Ong?

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