Basting the bishops

Survey sez: anti-amendments opinion has increased; and fewer signed on to “people’s initiative” than claimed. A referendum on amendments would result in a strong majority rejecting them, across all classes, in all parts of the country. Read the SWS release.

I generally don’t feel a very strong antipathy for the President’s gang, but one cabinet member really, really gets my goat. That’s Rick Saludo, secretary to the cabinet. Here’s an example of why, courtesy of a colleague who pointed out the incident.

This morning, Saludo appeared on Ricky Carandang’s morning show on ANC, and came up with this argument (as my colleague explained it): “basically, it’s OK to bribe a bishop as they are incorruptible and cannot be influenced by a bribe anyway… if we follow Saludo’s logic, it’s OK to bribe Saludo because we all know he is an honest public official who will do his job, envelope or not.” Then again, we can also make the tart observation that what’s important, for Saludo’s purposes, is to give the appearance that the bishops were influenced.

Saludo stars, of course, in the latest lurid revelations concerning lobbying with the episcopate (the chief lobbyist, Nena Valdes, is having her family woes gleefully reported in Cocktales). Hence, I guess, for the arguments of Saludo mentioned above.

The arrest of Joc-Joc Bolante continues to create buzz. In his column, Max Soliven asserts Bolante’s visa was cancelled in response to a request by the Philippine Senate (Soliven’s impatient with the whole Bolante thing, pointing out everyone seems to have known Bolante was living it up in a condominium unit near LAX for months). The Daily Tribune says, its money laundering allegations that might have done Bolante in (a commenter points to US policy on the matter). Malaya, on the other hand, focuses on the bail set and what that may indicate.

Discussions seem to center around what the arrest portends: will it facilitate Bolante’s being sent home to face the music? Or is it a clever way to bottle him up in America, keep him away from home, and thus prevent the beans from being spilled? And what’s the deal with the supposed request for political asylum made by Bolante? This is a time when enterprising Filipino-Americans should be poking around the goings-on over there and reporting it to us here.

Let’s not quibble about numbers: it’s either 14,000 troops or 13,000 cops to surround the Batasan Pambansa for the SONA. Whose counting, anyway? Far more interesting are the scuttlebutt:

a) After his election as Senate President in the morning of SONA day, newly-minted Senate President Manuel Villar will go along with a call to be made by the President during the SONA, for Congress to instantly convene as a Constituent Assembly to pass constitutional amendments. The process will be done by viva voce vote, which would drown out all opposition;
b) The President will call for (a) and proclaim Martial Law, which again will be approved with a roar;
c) Neither (a) nor (b) will take place, but one reason a new ambassador is being sent to Washington is to lobby for approval for Martial Law, which the White House supposedly vetoed last January.

Most prudent observers say the scenarios are remote, either because Villar (and the Senate Wednesday group) don’t favor amendments, and that Washington has better things to do than nanny the Philippine government.

Anyway, the President says she only wants to be good, and God will be her judge.

Comelec Chairman defies Ombudsman.

Overseas: Thaksin’s strategy versus his critics (eerily similar to the government’s strategies here at home); and is he losing his grip?

In South Korea, party intramurals.

In the punditocracy, Jojo Robles details his views on Church and State as detailed during his appearance on The Explainer. Archbishop Orlando Quevedo presents his take on why the CBCP said what it said on impeachment (and has some criticism for fellow members of One Voice who support impeachment). Still on One Voice, Emil Jurado pens a rant.

The Inquirer editorial expresses dismay over the appointment of Gen. Esperon as AFP Chief of Staff. Rene Saguisag has some things to say, too.

Raul Pangalanan comments on the Bolante brouhaha. Ellen Tordesillas has tons of questions.

Business Mirror editorializes on the Philippines is happy survey. A commentary on whether the country’s headed in the direction Argentina once went: off a cliff.

The blogosphere has comments on the bombing of Beirut by Israel (Pajamas Media has cleared the decks and decided to focus on this).

Philippine Commentary continues tackling what the bishops said.

Torn & Frayed on the hue and cry over the firing of a Singaporean blogger from his column (for the crime of satire).

Unlawyer says blogger buzz helped pull down controversial Bayantel billboards.

Morofilm on the top 50 most influential Muslims in the Philippines.

Istambay sa Mindanao: Filipinos don’t eat enough vegetables. But good news! Krispy Kreme possibly coming to the Philippines!

The CaT muses on why there may be a gender bias against women in the sciences.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

36 thoughts on “Basting the bishops

  1. on scuttlebutt (a) [which is too similar to the transferring of the articles of impeachment after the opening prayer almost 6 years ago], once the objection to the supreme court has been made [i assume there’s already a ready objection to it], would congress follow an adverse ruling by the SC? 🙁

  2. hello mlq3. Abalos and the Commissioners didn’t exactly defy the Ombudsman, seeing as how they were all represented by counsel. At the forum at the Rembrandt just this morning, Abalos even clarified that whiile it is the COMELEC’s stand that the question of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction over impeachable officers has yet to be resolved, he will appear before the Ombudsman if needed.

  3. But good news! Krispy Kreme possibly coming to the Philippines!

    MLQ3, sometimes I dont know whether or not youre being sarcastic. 😀

  4. To Jojo Robles,

    1. So if you are poor and you have nothing to give to Caesar, you have no right to ask him for anything?

    2. The constitutional provision on freedom of speech and, according to DJB’s interpretation, its subset, the separation of church and state, does not contain any language requiring moral fitness to bitch.

    Bitching is the right of every citizen, tax paying or not, moral or not.

  5. On Jurado
    1.”Doesn’t One Voice realize that under the present political setup, we can have Edsas ad infinitum and mob rule, which could push the country to the edge of civil strife or even revolution? Why do you think we have this problem of endless military adventurism? It’s because we have a political structure that breeds this problem.”
    People are asking for the ouster of Arroyo. You are asking for the ouster of the Constitution. It’s the politicians the want to change, not the system. It’s the singer, not the song.
    2. “In a parliamentary system, a corrupt and incompetent Prime Minister can easily be deposed by a mere No Confidence vote by his colleagues.”
    Where have you ever seen a corrupt and incompetent majority depose their corrupt and incompetent leader? Of course, Jurado could be referring to the Cosa Nostra. If that’s the case, then he is absolutely correct.
    3. “One Voice also claims that an Interim Parliament should decide whether the 2007 elections would be held or not. That’s another distortion of facts. No less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already stated that the 2007 polls will proceed. My gulay, to what extent will their elitists go to prove their point?”
    My gulay, he’s right. Mrs. Arroyo has never gone back on her word.

  6. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with roasting, er feasting with a bishop here and with a bishop there as Malacanang did. If Gloria can do it then why shouldn’t other politicians do it?

    Malacanang opened and led the way. With that for a background, there’s this bunch of bishops has become a fair game. (I’ve considered ’em bishops a fair game for quite some time now anyway.)

    I’m also inclined to think the way of Dean J Bocobo: that CBCP is an NGO. To that end, it’s become indeed an even fairer game.

    Anyway, it seems hunting season opens earlier in the Philippines so to that end, MLQ3, I bid you bonne chasse!

  7. Gosh Manuel, you still read Jurado? The guy chews and spews thrash when he writes.

    His writings are as two-faced thrash coated neanderthalism as his mind is.

    He and Gloria would make a wonderful thrash bin.

  8. Know what Manuel? I think you may have just hit the nail on the head with the Bolante thinggy: 2 passports. I suppose you meant 2 PHILIPPINE passports?

    But wait a second, I’ve met many Pinoys with 2 Philippine passports, one government, “official” passport of some sort and another one which is their personal passport. So, if this is an SOP in the Philippines for government officials (but Bolante ain’t a govt official no longer) so, possessing 2 passports ain’t quite a crime. (Ddin’t Garci have two as well?)

    So perhaps, he was found with 3 passports, the third one Korean or Japanese – didn’t he use Korea as his escape route! Just asking… Tee hee!

    Gosh, 2 seems to be a favorite number of people serving in Gloria’s government… 2 discs, 2 passports, 2 Swiss bank accounts, ooops….

  9. ana,

    And don’t forget that Batasan members also come out in pairs when they defend Gloria. My new favorite description of those congressional duets is “two cheeks from the same arse.”

    But on Bolante – two current and valid personal passports are illegal but it happens.

    Manolo linked Jurado so I was curious.

    How come nobody wants to help me find a husband for Luli? Aren’t you worried she’s becoming more like her mom with each passing day?

  10. On Villar Watch,

    As I’ve commented before, Sen Villar, being a businessman and whose company is listed in the Exchange, is open to GMA’s transactional style of leadership, compared to Sen Frank Drilon who is a lawyer by profession. But then again, he could prove to be more ‘street-wise’ than GMA, which I hope would be the case. On Villar Watch, we’ll be observing couple power under pressure — extreme pressure. It could be seen as a mixed doubles match Arroyos vs Villars. As a team the Villars are stronger having achieved billion-peso success in real property development as a team. But the match-up will not be decided on teamwork alone. What has Arroyos going for them as a team? I can’t see much.(Cover-up teamwork?)

  11. Jon,

    I’m afraid I won’t be a Luli watcher. I’m too old to go to the haunts of the young without being noticed. We need to recruit some young ‘uns to take notes.Where she goes, who dates her etc.

  12. Martial Law Watch:

    Stage: Setting-up the stage: The ‘Whereas’ Stage:

    WHEREAS, on the basis of carefully evaluated and verified information, it is definitely established that lawless elements who are moved by a common or similar ideological conviction, design, strategy …

    WHEREAS, these lawless elements, acting in concert through seemingly innocent and harmless, although actually destructive, front organizations …

    WHEREAS, in the execution of their overall revolutionary plan, the aforesaid lawless elements have prepared …

    WHEREAS, these lawless elements have to a considerable extent succeeded in impeding our duly constituted authorities from performing their functions …

    WHEREAS, because of the foregoing acts of armed insurrection, wanton destruction of human lives and property, unabated and unrestrained propaganda attacks against the government and its institutions, instrumentalities, agencies and officials …

    The Proclamation 10XX:

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested upon me … do hereby place the entire Philippines … under martial law and, in my capacity as their commander-in-chief, do hereby command the armed forces …to enforce obedience to all the laws and decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.

  13. Ooops, I forgot to mention Luli’s height in the above: 4’10 (in feet) and one/third of a centimeter.

    So, here goes: 4’10” (& one third centimeter) 30-28-38 (parang Perrier bottle pala, darn!) and foot size 12 (pareho ni Imeldific! Ano yan, FLIPPERS pareho ng nanay Gloria niya?)

  14. Anna, MB and you guys…stop it already! My sides are splitting!

    What a break from the depressing CBCP episode.

  15. though we are among the first 20, Filipinos could top the happy planet index…ahead of the south pacific nation, Vanuatu, the happiest place on earth.

    in Vanuatu they have this centuries-old tradition of bungy jumping (Pentecost land diving): men and boys, with ankles strapped to vines, leaping from 80-foot bamboo towers to be brought up a few inches short of the ground.

    we could start being more happy than them by jumping over the cliff…without the ankle straps!

    seriously, what made most Filipinos happy is that they tend to aim low thereby expecting less disappointment. a good example is having to study for an exam just enough to pass rather than burn eyebrows only to fail in the exam. low goals mean easier attainable expected outcome…and even more satisfaction awaits if what is attained is beyond what is expected, like topping the exam without too much effort.

    this lowering of goal-setting accompanies their lowered ethical standards making them fully satisfied to all the current on-goings of Filipino life, especially toward how the present government runs them. anyway, pare-pareho naman sila so they’ll just be satisfied with the present crop of authorities leading them.

    low standards = low expectations = happy.

    it is just unfortunate that i refuse to lower my expectations now and in the days to come…i consider myself unhappy.

    …however, on the famous glazed doughnuts rolling over here…i am happy!

  16. baycas,
    “low standards = low expectations = happy.” same plaint of a CEO expat friend 10 yrs ago. “How come Filipinos don’t demand what they deserve specially from gov’t. Many are too poor”. I said,”Unshod, barefooted Filipinos can say some kids somewhere got no legs.”” We’re better off than countries in Africa.” The NY based globetrotter winced at my lame, very lame, suckerish remark. But his culture shock somehow shook my subconscious, why not go4thebest, be the best, be a go getter; maybe something inside supposed to be good got screwed up — ‘bahala na’.

  17. Has any of the Palace Spidermen spun the web yet? On the “Filipinos as one of the happiest people on earth?” If none yet, siguro na overcome ng hiya. Or takot lang sa expected avalanche of criticisms they’ll get if they so much as exploit this survey result.

  18. Phil,

    Its a good thing they overlooked it, marami kasing issues na lumabas kasabay nun. Hiya, that’s one virtue the administration lacks.

  19. Phil, Schumey, just in case the Palace gets around to using this in one of their spins, we have to remember that ‘happiness’ is a defective measure of well being. As philosopher Hilary Putnam wrote echoing a point economist Amartya Sen made, “in cases of extreme and long lasting deprivation, the satisfaction of desires can also be an impoverished information base because a frequent consequence of this sort of deprivation is the reduction in the range of desires owing to the hopelessness of the situation“. Of course, GMA is welcome to take credit for ‘the hopelessnes of the situation’.

  20. going over the previous comments…i see that baycas has already made the same point.

  21. Schumey, certainly yes – mababaw ang pinoy, pati ba naman si Luli pinapatulan kasi di kaya nila patulan ang nanay.

  22. Schumey, i would say ‘mababaw ang kaligayahan’ and that includes me. Over here in Singapore, i’m usually identified as the ‘optimist’ among the project team. I have to clarify that i’m actually a ‘fatalist’. To the unfamiliar, the former disposition is easy to mistake for the latter.

  23. How about taking the ‘happy Filipinos’ thing as ‘well, ok lang, fine whatever’? Mababaw man malalim din pilit din nating titiisin ang kahirapan ng buhay, with a smile, with humor, somehow maayos din ang mga problema.

  24. juan makabayan, i think that’s a valid observation as well. that trait i can see in my mom, and in that sense, i consider it a strength.

  25. MLQ,

    Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Thaksin is drafting a royal decree, for the King approval, to hold another round of parliamentary elections.

    Still in Thai politics Thaksin is beefing up his security on the alleged assasination plot against him.

  26. I am posting the letter from caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dated June 23 to US President George W Bush and Bush’s answer letter to the Thai premier dated July 3 – just in case you missed it.

    Both letters were published in Thai-language Matichon newspaper’s Wednesday edition (July 12)

    1. Letter from caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to US George W Bush.

    Office of the Prime Minister,
    Government House,
    23 June B.E. 2549 (2006)
    Dear Mr President,
    I write to you on the basis of my high personal regard for your leadership to explain the current political situation in Thailand, where I recently assumed responsibilities as caretaker Prime Minister . It is my goal to prepare the best possible democratic path for the next government following new national elections this fall.
    There has been a threat to democracy in Thailand since early this year. Key democratic institutions, such as elections and their observance of Constitutional limitation on government, have been repeatedly undermined by interest that depend on creating chaos and mounting street demonstrations in Bangkok as a means to acquire political power that they cannot gain through winning elections. Having failed to provoke violence and disorder, my opponents are now attempting various extra Constitutional tactics to co-opt the will of the people. If our democratic institutions prove strong over the next several months, these too will be unsuccessful.
    On April 2, my Party, Thai Rak Thai, won a convincing majority in countrywide elections. Having led Thailand’s government for over five years and won decisive victories in two previous national elections, I was confident of strong popular support and the voters confirmed the view. My political opponents because they know they would again lose, boycotted the April elections and left the political situation in Thailand in deadlock. With the imminent celebration of the 60th Anniversary of our King’s coronation, I would not responsibly allow this political stalemate the mar this historic occasion . In order to restore calm so that preparations for the royal celebration could proceed, I stopped aside to take a leave of absence, assigning my Deputy Prime Minister with acting executive responsibilities.
    In keeping with their independent status, Thai courts have since annulled the April elections on technical considerations and ruled that a new national vote be scheduled, probably in mid October. Most objective observers believe that my Party will again receive the people’s mandate to form a government. In the meantime, I could not allow my country to drift without leadership. Our ongoing war on terror must be prosecuted, our economy must be managed, and the basic functions of government must be carried out. For these reasons, I have heeded the calls of many Thais – both within my Party and among the oppositions as well – to resume an active role as caretaker Prime Minister.
    During this period, I want to assure you that I will take steps to help got the country ready for free and fair elections, and to work to shift the national debate from one that is emotionally charged to one that reasonably discusses the central questions of Thailand’s future, including whether the country’s political governance will be decided through the ballot box or in the street. The answer to that question, Mr President, will have an important impact on the future course of democracy in Asia. I know that your agree with me that the rule of law and Constitutional order in Thailand and in Asia more broadly must prevail over demagoguery and mob action.
    Finally, Mr President, please accept my enduring confidence that the relationship between Thailand and the United States, based on shared democratic values and vital national interests, will only grow in the months and years ahead.

    Yours sincerely,
    (Thaksin Shinawatra)
    Prime Minister of Thailand

    2. Letter from US President George W Bush to the Thai premier

    July 3, 2006

    His Excellency
    Thaksin Shinawatra
    Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailnd

    Mr. Prime Minister
    Thank you for your letter, and your optimism about the road ahead in Thailand. The United States has watched events in your country with some concern, and as an ally and a friend it is my sincere hope that all parties can find a way forward that respects the great achievement of Thai democracy and sees a fully vested government up and running in Bangkok as soon as possible.
    Our two nations’ friendship remains strong, and I appreciate your assurance that our good cooperation on issues of vital importance to us both will continue, Free and open political systems can be unpredictable, but the Thai people are resilient and Thai democracy is strong, and I know that your country will emerge from the current situation with a renewed focus on that which makes Thailand great.

    George W. Bush

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