The Lakas steamroller

As the news reports, Congress resumes session today, and the priorities of the House, at least, is clear and must be accomplished very soon: abolish the present Congress by July. The new Constitution, after all, is ready (compare the new with the present Charter, courtesy of the PCIJ); the ruling party has seven specific revisions in mind. With the ruling party all revved up to steamroll its way to a New Order, the President wins, whatever happens. If the new Constitution is approved by July, impeachment becomes academic; if the effort is defeated, her allies would still have been placated, there would have been oodles of opportunities to dispense patronage (for the campaign for Charter change), the public would have been kept busy and distracted by debates and the referendum, and the President would still be in office until 2010.

Journalists (and bloggers) Jove Francisco and RG Cruz wrote remarkable coverage of the Lakas directorate meeting in the presidential palace. Jove’s coverage, in particular, reflects his development into being a professional media blogger as well asd TV journalist, what with his attempt to poke around the meeting in his capacity as a blogger. RG Cruz, too, managed to convey the atmosphere both among the politicos as well as the media covering them, quite well. His views on who gained the most from the meeting, reflects the sport du jour in the papers today, as the headlines telegraph it:

The consensus on the Lakas meeting seems to be, Lakas turns down Ramos ultimatum (Manila Times) although the other view is FVR seen as winner in Lakas “struggle” (Malaya).

As for the former president, the consensus also seems to be: FVR backtracks before leaving (Standard-Today) or put another way, Ramos now says he’s flexible on Arroyo term limit (Inquirer).

Gloria forms “brat packs” against new destab threat (Daily Tribune), which the Manila Times echoes in President creates “brat pack” : the purpose of these articles is to point out who’s in or out in the present dispensation:

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Arroyo’s brother, Diosdado Macapagal will work together in addressing the political issue and will be assisted by outgoing Environment Secretary Mike Defensor, Rep. Ronaldo Puno of Antipolo City and Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez.

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz will head the second group and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales would take charge of the security aspect along with Armed Forces Chief of Staff Generoso Senga and the Philippine National Police chief, Director General Arturo Lomibao.

The economic concerns will be the area of Trade Secretary Peter Favila’s group.

In the punditocracy, my column for today (the first in a series) is Behind our Constitutions, past and present. Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ tackles The future of Charter change, while yesterday Randy David insisted on the necessity of Protecting the Constitution from politicians (Solita Monsod a few days ago pointed out that there’s the Same public opinion on parliamentary system -meaning, negative). Jarius Bondoc asks, should seven senators be able to derail charter change? Silly question. Of course! The Constitution was designed that way, and it’s precisely why we have a Senate: to prevent Lakas-style stampedes. The senators are correct when they say, Senators to Arroyo: Don’t dictate to us; Joker: Senate won’t write own obituary.

Other pundits, however, focused on the Twilight of Fidel V. Ramos: Jojo Robles gleefully observes that Hurricane Fidel blows over; while Dan Mariano talks about self-preservation; Conrado de Quiros denounces Ramos and says his party is indulging in mob rule; the Inquirer editorial tartly described the Lakas meeting at the Palace a “coronation,”  saying it was in Awful taste.

Other views: Fel Maragay on the selling-off of sequestered TV stations; John Mangun on ending corruption; Ernesto Hilario on cleaning up the courts; David Llorito cheekily asks if wiretapping should be legalized.

Other tid-bits: Smithsonian launches Fil Am Centennial, and a controversial macaroni and cheese recipe in the New York Times.

Cartoon below by Philip Gilmore (at Uniffors):

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

25 thoughts on “The Lakas steamroller

  1. Looks like nobody can derail the Lakas steam engine! All the bases have been covered, the Executive, Legislative (at least the house), and Judicial branches of the government are all in Arroyo’s hands.

    If you are for these changes, you must be very happy. If you’re against, what are you going to do? I suggest you go ahead and pray, and wish the changes are for the betterment of all.

    Any backup plans?

  2. Senator Joker Arroyo is correct.They won’t write theor own obituary.Because someone else will write it for them.If they don’t want to help at least they don’t make things more difficult then it is.
    The senators should be more concerned of how their eulogy will be.If they will be judged as being Statesmen man to the end of whatever.
    Manolo it’s hard to beleave that a Constitution be designed in a way that 7 senators can hold the country hostage for whatever whims.
    It’s further proof that there is a real reason why the Constitution & the systems needs to be changed.
    Let’s not make a halo-halo out of democracy.
    Democracy is one thing.How the people “use” it is another thing.
    The Senate is in a period of denaial & obviosly fighting for self preservation.Let’s not confuse it w/ Democracy.
    I doubt it if the Constitution encourages gridlocks & bitter compitition.

  3. If Atty Lazaro can file an impeachment complaint using his convoluted logic and the constitution allows for that, why not let the senators to do what the constitution allows them to do? You’re losing your sense of fairness Joey…If JDV is allowed to interpret the constitution to mean something, why not allow the senators to interpret it their way too? If they don’t agree, the SC will do it for them. Is it not the way it should be?

    If the 7 senators have their agenda, then the other side have their own agenda too. Isnt’ that right?

    Joey, it just so happened that you’re for the changes they want that you don’t like what the 7 senators are doing. On the flipside, (i think the majority of commenters in this blog), they don’t like the changes that the Arroyo led group are proposing. In a democracy, your side will win. Isn’t that supposed to be how it is?

  4. Who’s holding hostage anyone? I do not see GMA and her hordes of Lakas as representing the sentiments of the people; so let’s see who’s going to write whose obituary. As far as democracy is concerned, would anyone help me find where do we find that burning enthusiasm in turning our system into unitary parliamentary federal form because I want to go there and find out for myself if they are not just a bunch of arrogant people who think they have God’s mandate to say ” everyone better get out of the way”. Who the hell do they think they are?

  5. I beg to differ with RG Cruz’s analysis. I see JDV as nothing more than a
    ‘useful idiot’ in this whole saga. Doesn’t he realize that the Speakership is different in nature from the office of the Prime Minister? Once it’s established, the really big guns will converge on the Office and he will be among the first children to be devoured by the revolution he’s currently leading. His best bet is if we adopt a system similar to the French ‘Presidential-Parliamentary’ model where there would be some room for him as side-kick.

  6. GMA is like a chess player playing her pieces and pawns according to her plan. While we are debating, she is consolidating her power if not just plain holding on to her presidency.

    Whatever happens to all the issues going on today, she doesn’t really care what the outcome will be. Because whichever way the issues are resolved, she stays and she has achieved her purpose of staying on. FVR, JDV, Evardone, Lazaro, they’re just pawns and pieces. We’re just spectators (at the moment. And even spectators have different bets!).

  7. Jon,I have worked in media & I have seen how senators work.
    How can I be unfair Jon.It is not me who allows just anybody to tell lies in the senate.It is not I who allows reputation to be malinged.The only thing I can be sure of is my taxes are used to support egos who are more concerned w/ grandstanding.
    I think because the senators are more concerned for themselves then working.They are being more unfair to the Filipino people.
    Ok I agree that we should make the SC the final arbiter.
    Persoanly, I would give more attention to a JDV who is trying to do something to make things work in this country.
    Congresmen have a real consituancy.I never understood what senators represent except some other peoples interest.
    Jon, better to know first what the agenda of the 7 is.I know that JDV is pushing a 7 point agenda for change.If we have to disagre lets do it based on actual issues.

    Jon,yes,I have never been an admirer of the senators.
    Yes it’s true that the majority don’t want the changes.But did you ever stop & think why? Is it because they don’t like PGMA therefore anything identified w/ her is bad.Forget about merits, pros & cons.Anything that smell PGMA is rejected.
    One thing is not liking the changes.That also means nothing unless you can clearly articulate your self using logic & analysis.And not perceptions & subjective fellings or surveys.
    Jon, isn’t it that democarcy is the rule of the majority.If you want to contest the majority you must have serious arguments if you wanna be listened too.
    Just like I express my thoughts.I’m also ready to listen to anyone who can prove me wrong.
    If I have no love lost for the senate.It’s because I have seen them grandstand more then really come out w/ serious legislations.
    Personaly,I look at things as a challenge of what is the right thing & better thing to do all things considered.It’s not about winning or lossing w/c is dificult to apply in our culture where losing is not taken lightly.

  8. Jon, ikaw talaga ha.I’m for change,I’m for what will make this country move on, I’m for objectivity, I’m for looking at things for their merits.I have not allowed myself to be influenced by invented issue.I don’t look at personalities,I look at issues.
    Are all these things wrong?

  9. ricelander,let’s face it sadly we are in a divided philippines.
    this talk about the sentiment of the people is again another monster we are creating.
    did anyone ever bother to ask why the senate is objecting to charter change.
    the difference lies in the senate wanting it to be a constitutional convention & not a constituent assembly.
    think about it hard.
    it’s only a metter of form & nothing of subsatnce!
    change is always a mix feeling dominated w/ apprehension.

  10. Jon, think about it.PGMA is really smart cuz she does her homework & works hard.
    How about us what are we doing?
    We are just entertaining all our dislike for her.And then what?
    Do we do our homeworks?
    Do we open our minds to new ideas?
    Or are our minds just made up?
    That is not such a nice thing cuz a close mind is an dead end.

  11. Manolo in a parlamentary system there will be the check & balance system too.
    Same as your quoute the the other day.One part rules and the other party will surely have their eyes open.
    In the present sytem.In the lower house there is the check & balance.
    In the upper house there is also the check & balance.
    Don’t you think there has been to much check & balance for other reasons too.

    Our type of check & balance has deteriorated to the point of not knowing ever the real truth.
    It’s all a game of patentero.
    It has been a source of “entertainment”.
    After the endless investigations.I hope there is a list somewhere of what has become of acts of checkes in balance in aid of ” ? “.
    I think it’s not being completely honest to peddle the notion that the parlamentary system does not have checks & balance.
    If we are paranoid of things.No amount of checks & balance can ever handel that.

  12. Change is good. But how to we bring it about? That’s where we differ.

    I have nothing personally against GMA, I don’t hate her. What I don’t like is the way she “bring about change”. I didn’t like the way she was thrust into power the first time, and I didn’t like the way she handled the impeachment process. I hope I have made myself clear in this regard.

    Giving everybody a chance to do what they want to do is the essence of democracy. The 7 senators holding up the proposition of charter change is part of the checks and balances of the constitution. If you think that is an aberration, then it should be taken out of the constitution. How? Again, there’s a differing of opinions. Let them talk about it, and in the end they will come into a compromise.

    Saying that the 7 senators should not say what they want to say is to “unfair”.

    What do we ordinary people do meanwhile? We can let our ideas and feelings be known. We would be happy if it makes any difference. If not, what else can we do? We can do what you have enumerated above…

  13. Yes Jon, it’s cool.We really all like change.I can only tell you what I think.I’m also sure there may be other opinions to.
    I think change is something we should not give to many condition to.I also think the proceses ask us to be open minded to things & really make an effort to see the bigger picture.
    I know that the proceses is not perfect because it’s been handeled by humans w/ so many bad habits.
    Change is also something we as pinoy do not easely accept maybe because of so many hang ups in the past that have not been resolved.
    It is normal that we may have apprehensions on change.
    I think that insted of us feeling hopless or frustarted that we can’t participate in a more active way.One of the first steps to take is never to take things at face value but always ask – why this why not that? I too realize asking the right questions is not as eassy at it seems.
    Thanks to Manolos blog that there a way to express our feelings. But expressing is just the part of the picture.
    We also have to be capable of articulating counter ideas daring to be new.Although we should also make sure that what we propose are doable.
    Jon, about the 7 senators.I said werus JDV has a 7 point proposal that can be discussed.What do the 7 have? Or are those blocking chacha giving impossible conditions? or do they just wanna add to the complications.
    personaly, I’m always weary of people who complicate things.Because it’s in complications when “magic” happens.It’s like using the cover of darkness for bad things.
    That is why I insist on having clear issue.
    I’m sure the Constitution was not done to promote gridlocks.
    My greatest doubts is that it be manipulated for personal reasons.
    Personaly, I wish we had discussion groups because we would like to understand things better.
    I wish we could be able to listen to people from both sides & be able to have questions & answers.
    I think our problems are more because of fear & uncertainty due to the lack of enough & proper information.
    We should be observant & critical.
    That is why I always say to have an open mind & look at the big picture.
    We should also learn to accept that change will not happen in one go.For us pinoys it will take longer because we really have lots of bad habits mixed up w/ our culture.
    Change is a step by step thing.We really have to make an effort to be focused & not be distructed by the noise around us or be discouraged by the dificulties.
    I’m aware there is a lot of lack of self worth going around.that too adds to the dificulty of understanding things better.

  14. For all its faults, if the Senate successfully blocks the ‘Lakas Steamroller’, it would have justified its existence for the second time in twenty years. Such an achievement would rank just a notch lower to its rejection of the Bases Treaty in 1991.

  15. cvj, normaly change is dificult for old people.because at a certain age adjusting is asking to much.for a country like ours that we have a signicant young generation change should not be that dificult.
    I gues rather then wishing for the wrong things & feel threatened by the idea of a will be more constructive that we look at the proposal for change & argue on it’s merits.
    Let’s not get disperate & call in the bullys, este i mean the senators.
    we don’t have the luxury of time to procastinate.time demands that we grow up fast.
    wehave to get out of our “movie fan” mentality where we look forward to the fantastic fight scene.everything happening in an hour & a half.
    let’s face it,we really need change.
    we must give our are also supposed to be well thought of so as to be useful.because time demands that we think harder look futher & analize deeper.
    we are being faced w/ a what do we do about it?

  16. Like it or not, when it comes to Constitutional Change, the Senate *is* a legitimate part of the process. It’s not as if they’re gatecrashing a party. The Lakas 7 point proposal is ok in parts, not so ok in others, but as far as meaningful change goes, Cory Aquino’s statement on the Council of State reprinted a few threads up says it well.

  17. Like it or not, when it comes to Constitutional Change, the Senate *is* a legitimate part of the process. It’s not as if they’re gatecrashing a party. The Lakas 7 point proposal is ok in parts, not so ok in others, but as far as meaningful change goes, Cory Aquino’s statement on the Council of State reprinted a few threads up says it well…

  18. cvj, i don’t doubt or question the constitution.
    what I’m tring to point out is before we allow ourselves futher to be dazzled by an “institution” like the Senate that provides us w/ “firework” & entertainment.Let’s look at a bigger picure too.

    1.P 200M a year for them to spend as they wish.yet millions of school children have no books.Many people do not have jobs,food,medicine & a roof over their heads.That is a total of P 4.8B a year for 24 Senators
    2.The Senate has a P 1.336B operation budget.It only passed 4 laws last year.Each law cost us the tax payers an average of P 334M.
    3. Those “entertainment” & “foreworks” investigations that lead to nowhere is another source of income. 500,000 for major commite chairman & 300,000 minor commite chairman.

    Above this all how can you measure the power & influence they have.
    Myabe, we should think twice before we get “too attached” to an institution that is milking us!All they do is provide us “entertainment & expensive law.
    While we allow ourselves to be dazzled by their personalities our problems continue to grow.They have guaranteed income while we can complain only that life is getting harder.Then we cry for reforms.The question is what do we really want?
    Surely, they will fight tooth & nail to protect themselves!They have very good reasons to do so.
    Surely, the obituary will be writen by others.Likely by those who don’t fill they are getting their moneys worth.
    Certainly not by those attrcted by “entertainment & fireworks” and call it democracy at work?!

    Cory may be a good person.I remember during her administration.The oparative word was “if you do nothing,people won’t have anything to accuse you about”.Remember the “darkness” that time? Remember the oppurtunity lost?
    For me Cory is up in the clouds. The times demands people who can get things done.Popularity is the last thing a leader should think of if the right things are to be done.
    In this world there are the people who do thing & work hard & there are the people who dream & oppose.
    I take the side of the working & doing people.
    If we really want a better life then we must be more critical specialy of the people who pretend to be defenders.

  19. Joey, i’m glad we agree about the process. I guess it boils down to how much we trust Lakas to do the right thing. The best way to elicit trust is to listen come clean and engage in healthy discourse. Behaving
    like a ‘steamroller’ is not a way to encourage such trust.

  20. cvj,the trust part is the hardest cuz we are so paranoid.yes i share the same hope of engaging in a healthy discussion.yes the “steamroller” thing is a big turn off to our culture.i wish lakas adapted a softer friendlier approach.i don’t know who coined the steamroller things.was it media?

  21. In Google, one of the earlier uses of the word was a remark by Mike Defensor in relation GMA’s ‘dream team’ (Philippine Daily Inquirer 14-Dec 2003). To quote his words:

    “The bandwagon is expected to become a steamroller when the campaign goes full swing”

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