Reform from above?

The Russian Czar Alexander II said “It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait for it to abolish itself from below”. The line came to mind as I’ve been reading a couple of papers sent me by a Russian scholar, Dr. Victor Sumsky. He’s here for the International Association of Historians of Asia conference. We hope to meet sometime after the conference concludes.

The Prophet Of Two Revolutions
One of the papers he sent is on Rizal, titled “The Prophet of Two Revolutions,” which discusses his influence on two revolutions, those of 1896 and 1986.

Rp Dilemma
But the paper that interested me the most is another one he sent, “Reform or Revolution? The Unresolved Philippine Dilemma.”

Since this blog will be inactive over the next couple of days (I’ll be attending a conference on the peace process), I hope you’ll download his two papers and take a look at them. Much meat to chew over.

Today, the papers weigh in with their versions of the Supreme Court’s decision: see what the Philippine Daily Inquirer (“The Oct. 25 decision did not rule on the adequacy of RA 6735, but the separate opinions of the justices revealed their stand on the issue”), and Malaya (Ignacio Bunye: Supreme Court decision “will not stop us, however, from our advocacy that we need fundamental reform in order to remove the remaining stumbling block towards our competitiveness.”), the Manila Times (Gabriel Claudio: Supreme Court’s decision “formally activates the constituent assembly mode for changing the Constitution.”), and the Manila Standard-Today (Gabriel Claudio: “This is probably all that the administration allies in Congress were waiting for, to go all-out for a constituent assembly.”).

Legion rejoices over its defeat. One Voice suggests government moves on.

President’s allies engage in target practice on administration trial balloon.

Cayetano pulls the rug from under Arroyos’ feet.

Jaime Augusto Zobel’s prescription for economic growth.

Landmark case in America: “the soapbox is not liable for whatever the speaker has said.” Blog joy.

In the punditocracy, my Arab News column for this week is Arroyo Depending on the 39% of Undecided Voters to Remain Passive. This is an elaboration of my thoughts in an earlier column published prior to the most recent Pulse Asia survey. Note the Palace is irritated with the survey results.

The Inquirer editorial is all for a fixed term for the AFP chief of staff. Conrado de Quiros clearly states the difference between Honasan-led coup attempts, and last February’s effort at a military “withdrawal of support”:

Unlike the RAM coups of the past, the February “withdrawal of support” was not a messianic act, it was a pragmatic act. It was not an act of adventurism, it was an act of desperation. Its leaders did not mount it because they wanted to; they did so because they were forced to. Nobody else would or could do it, people power having gotten powerless, or too tired, to oust someone who stole the vote and the crown. The very people who mounted Edsa People Power II themselves were importuning them to do it.

Unlike the RAM coups of the past, the February “withdrawal of support” was not a coup in the traditional sense; it was an extension of people power. It did not rely on a few individuals to carry it out; it relied on the nation to do it. If it were a coup, it would have been the most popular coup in the world, in every sense of the word “popular.” Hell, it was so openly advertised they even tried to get Generals Generoso Senga and Hermogenes Esperon to join it. The real coup, in every sense of the word too, happened well before, wreaked by GMA with the help of Garci.

Incidentally, see reports on the military brass being angry an initial report exonerating accused officers was leaked, and how the chief of staff is out for blood.

Manuel Buencamino takes a look at the informal huddle between the Philippine and American presidents in Vietnam.

Jojo Robles says the anti-billboard backlash has proven to be B.S. Bong Austero is all agog over Philippine Idol, but wonders if the qualified will really win. Marichu Villanueva says taking creative license with the national anthem is illegal.

The anatomy of addictions, dissected in i-Report.

The blogosphere has Comelec AKO reacting to last night’s The Explainer.

Ellen Tordesillas is suing the President’s husband.

Confessions at 7:00 AM outs herself! She’s Marichu S. Lambino and will be blogging under her own name from now on!

Katataspulong blows the whistle on what he considers racketeering on the part of civil servants obsessed with racking up legal fees.

Mga Diskurso ni Doy reproduces an interesting strategy paper on the coming elections. An intriguing outline appears in Trel B, of a national situationer from July, discussed in the Center for Strategic Studies.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

88 thoughts on “Reform from above?

  1. to ellen et. al., here’s a suggestion: how about putting any reference to the onion-skinned pachyderm, from now on, as “he who shall not be named.” i think it is easier to acquire permission from j.k. rowling to borrow voldemort’s i.d. than to appease the swine.

  2. hahah! that’s a good idea, inudoro! but that will not prevent the pachyderm from seeing through the ruse. an onion has several layers and pachiderm will just peel one off and then the next, and the next, etc.

  3. hahah! that’s a good idea, inudoro! but that will not prevent pachyderm from seeing through the ruse. an onion has several layers and pachiderm will just peel one off and then the next, and the next, etc.

  4. RE Alexander II’s quote: Too bad Nicholas II didn’t do it soon enough. Was he thinking about it as the Bolsheviks lined him up and his family before the wall?

  5. RE: the passive 39%

    The strategy is based on rule number 1 of incumbents

    “We don’t have to win every battle. We just have to keep them from winning. A stalemate is victory enough for us.”

  6. This ingrate unproductive third-termer congressman is behaving like he is not a lawyer. Instead of throwing squids all over, Cayetano should use this opportunity to prove his allegation of existing Munich account. it may even make himself the hero of antiGMA forces.

    Can’t imagine asking “Tito Mike” for some help and be able to do this in return. It is just inconceivable escept of course for the calloused ones.
    With very poor and insignificant legislative output in congress I don’t know why they would want him in the senate. But again, with the kind of senate now, why not.

  7. Reminds me of Rizal on social change: “this transformation will be violent and fatal if it proceeds from the ranks of the people, but peaceful and fruitful if it emanates from the upper classes.” So the Tsar, Rizal, and today’s Filipino reformers have this in common–they see the writing on the wall, they’re scared, and hope (vainly in the case of the first two) that they can retain control of the inevitable crisis.

  8. I think MLQ’s grandfather also voiced a similar view – he told landowners better give up some of your lands rather than have the tenants take all of it away

  9. james,

    true and I think Cayetano should also prove his other allegations including real estate, Pidal and other secret accounts, jueteng payolas, IMPSA, North Railway, Diosdado Macapagal Avenue, fertilizer scam. health card scam. road users tax, Venable, garci disappearance, jocjoc disappearance, human rights violations, extra judicial killings, government spending for people’s initiative, and maybe you can add a few more things I missed. I totally agree with you. Cayetano should present all these things publicly. Show his evidence. I think the Arroyos and all the other accused should also be allowed to answer Cayetano. That way they can refute Cayetano and prove to the world their innocence. And they can show the workd what kind of a person Cayetano is.

    I also think that we should expose the Senate once and for all. Everyone summoned should appear in Senate hearings and bring with them all pertinent documents so the whole world will see how baseless those charges against the Arroyos are.

    What do you think? Shouldn’t the Arroyos hang those ingrates by letting it all hang out?

  10. One of the papers he sent is on Rizal, titled “The Prophet of Two Revolutions,” which discusses his influence on two revolutions, those of 1896 and 1986.

    He could have influenced a third. Dr. JPR and Dr. Sun Yat Sen were friends who corresponded often.

  11. I saw Atty. Marichu Lambino on Ricky Carandang’s show last week. The way she stated her ideas seems to indicate that she is NOT related to the other lawyer but I’m not sure.

    So, is she or is she not related to the other Lambino lawyer?

  12. Though it was way before the R.A. 8491, I wonder why marichu Villanueva didn’t include that atrocious ala “we are the world” version of Lupang Hinirang.

  13. mlq3,

    The leader is a slave. GMA is a slave as most of our leaders were. They have misled as on the road to serfdom.

    It is better to abolish serfdom (from) above than to wait for it to abolish itself (because it will not), (it must start) from below. (by a popular uprising, Ghandian movement or authentic people power.)

  14. I firmly believe that military intervention supported by majority of the Filipino people to end the oppressive Arroyo-Esperon led civilian-military junta is the only possible option left. The May 2007 midterm election is long way to go with uncertain results. The longer Gloria Arroyo and her corrupt military-police generals’ stays in power it causes more political instability. Majority of the Filipino no longer trust Mrs. Gloria Arroyo. The recipe for popular uprising is ripe.

  15. I suggest a popular uprising through a People’s Initiative with an ammendment to cut short the terms of the President and the VP and set an elections or include the Pres and VP positions in 2007 elections.

    According to the SC ruling,” a new petition for a people’s initiative that complies with the provisions of RA 6735 may now be entertained by the Commission on Elections.”

    Let’s PI for a Snap Elections!

    It’s TANGLO time! TANggalin si GLOria!

  16. mlq3, mb,

    Fr Joaquin Bernas’ opinion on PI for a Snap, based on previous columns, I think, is positive. May I get your take on this please.

    Mga kababayan, nandito na naman ang tawag para sa pagakilos. Tayo na at magkaisa. Pagbabago ang hiling ng taong bayan. Ito ang tamang hakbang — Halalaan para sa Pagbabago — Bagong Pangulo, Bagong Mandato.

  17. Diego… I imagine getting an e-mail (from some General Aguinaldo) and the message pushes for General Abdane to implement a coup and for Abdane to be the benevolent dictator for the next 3 years. This is sort of what you want, right?

  18. Tony,
    The 1986 EDSA Uprising and EDSA Dos coup experience, the military gave the political power to civilians. The Filipino people will not allow military dictatorship to rule our country.

  19. Diego… Given that it only takes 300 armed troops to quell 50,000 civilians, and that a lot of people (including captains and colonels (and generals)) are not very impressed with what happened when the military gave political power back to civilians after Edsa1 and Edsa2… does it not worry you that the next batch of military “coup”-brains gets the brains NOT TO TUEN OVER control of the government to civilians (until after, say, 3 or even 5 years)?

  20. Tony,
    I subscribe to your uneasiness about the prospect of a military coup, no matter how noble their aims might seem. Idealist democracy-loving soldier is a rare breed indeed. Look at what the fresh Thai junta is (or is not) doing just now. Instead of helping the country return to normalcy, they are putting generals on the boards of all kinds of big companies. It stinks to high heavens. However, I do agree with Conrado de Quiros in perceiving the February 24 episode as anything but a military-driven adventure. The civilians were to have an upper hand, it is quite clear I think. Anyway, I still think the best way to change things is to vote the right people in come the elections next year.

  21. A Citizens’ Coup via a People’s Initiative that eventually effects a change in leadership, imho, is what the present situation calls for. After all the previous popular uprisings, an authentic people’s initiative enhances Citizen empowerment as it stregthens our democratic institutions.

  22. If you’re thinking of a Thai-inspired coup, forget it. It wouldn’t work in the Philippine setting. For one thing, Thais have a king whom they deeply revere, and when their King gave signs of approving the coup, the people–especially Taksin’s supporters in both the business sector and within the military–didn’t stage a counter-coup. In Thailand’s recent history, coups (and counter coups for that matter) would succeed or not on the basis of their King’s implied approval. I don’t think we have that factor in the Philippines. The closest I can think of is the Roman Catholic Church during EDSA I when it proved instrumental in mobilizing Filipinos to go to EDSA and defy Marcos.

  23. The question here is how would we know the right people we are voting until they turned “wrong” after they are already comfortable in their elected positions? Most of us choose what we believe the right candidates. Could it not be the Institution itself allowing these Politicians to go about their businesses without being Accountable for their wrongdoings? Let us take a closer look at our Justice System as part and parcel of Good governance. Politicians we could voted out of the office if they are incapable and do not meet our expectations, but once the commit the crimes and wrongdoings, let the Justice System deal with them and the right politicians or political leaders witll just evolve along with it. Or it could be the other way around…

  24. I am signing my name as part of PI’s for a Snap Election. Enough of GMA, we need a duly elected president. Where and when will I sign?

  25. I agree with Bafil, as i mentioned before, we should use the ways of democracy to promote democracy which is why i prefer JM’s recommendation. In terms of logistics, i’m hoping either B&W or One Voice (as de Quiros has recommended before) can start such a [genuine] People’s Initiative.

  26. jm,

    A snap is okay in principle.

    But we must assure its credibility.

    First do the PI right. Maybe Bernas can write the mechanics so we don’t end up like Lambino.
    Second, and this is the difficult but crucial part, how do you ensure a level playing field?

  27. Let’s start with Basic Primer Questions. Questions like MB’s must be asked and answered at the Planning Stage.

    Using the ways of democracy to promote democracy. (CVJ)

    Let’s get the ball rolling.( The SC’s go signal for PI puts the ball on the people’s side of the court. We have to play it by the rules, fair and square, for an honest-to-goodness people’s initiative — MB)

  28. Do you want GMA to continue as President until 2010?
    Do you want an election for President to be held before 2010?
    Do you want to amend the Constitution to cut short the incumbent President’s and Vice-President’s terms of office to pave the way for a snap election?

  29. JM, to prevent the questionable mandates of previous elections, the snap election should allow for a run-off between the top two candidates in the event no one gets 50% + 1 of the vote during the first round. The winner will be declared the President while the runner-up will assume the post of Vice-President.

    BTW, yesterday in Bangladesh, after staging nationwide protest strikes, the opposition in that country succeeded in getting their Chief election commissioner to take a 3-month leave of absence. The same has to happen over here, as MB says, ‘to ensure a level playing field’.

  30. Since Abalos etal will not resign, the lower house will not impeach them, the Ombudsman cleared them, I suggest an amendment abolishing the COMELEC to form a new Commission complying with better,stricter provisions re appointments, as part of the PI for Snap Elections.

  31. CVJ, that won’t work here. Abalos is too much a politician to take a leave.

    I am currently drafting a theoretical amendment for the purpose of calling a snap elections in 2007. I might post it at my blog later tonight (11pm). Let’s refine an idea then hopefully an org will pick it up from there.

  32. One Voice / B&W might pursue the need to enact a more sufficient enabling law. Another movement better be formed for the PI for Snape Elections. ‘Tinig ng Bayan’ sort of.

  33. mb, the 5 yr bar per PI is not yet in-force, implied but not stated in SC ruling, the SC can easily clarify if querried, i guess, somebody should, please do

  34. If RA 6735 is valid (as the junking of the Lambino motion states), then we are in for another treat. The law indeed has a five-year restriction. Section 5b is the case in point.

    (b) A petition for an initiative on the 1987 Constitution must have at least twelve per centum (12%) of the total number of registered voters as signatories, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein. Initiative on the Constitution may be exercised only after five (5) years from the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and only once every five (5) years thereafter.

    So another five years after an exercise of initiative before another one can be exercised. The question now is: what is the definition of “exercised”?

  35. That’s one suspicion about Sigaw objectve, to pre-empt a PI for a Snap; Abalos’ term ‘iniatory steps’ done by COMELEC can be inetrpeted, any which way, in their/admin’s favor. Sigaw PI could be ‘deemed initiated’ to pre-empt a hostile PI or otherwise to give way for a Sigaw PI-2.

  36. The ‘deceptiveness’ of Sigaw PI was not challenged by dissenting opinions. How can an undertaking judged as ‘deceiving’ be a valid basis for the 5-yr bar? The petition was not thrown back to the COMELEC. Who has descretion on the wether the 5-yr ban is already in-force?

  37. That’s another case for the need to enact a more sufficient enabling law. The loopholes and ambiguities could in effect disable an authentic PI. If the SC or the COMELEC cannot cite specific provisions as basis for the 5-yr bar, then the ruling that the law is insufficient should have been upheld and Congress put on notice for lack of due diligence or dereliction of duty re the 1997 ruling. But the SC’s reversal puts the onus on people’s movements to respond to the ‘call of the times’..

  38. I think the SC will come into play regarding the 5-year ban. Does filing a petition means the initiative is exercised?

    My gut feeling is this: what the law meant is that to prevent the mass from tinkering with the Charter that frequently. So with that, the ban is in force when the initiative has completed a timeline of sorts-from filing to plebiscite.

  39. I heard previously that a petition must not be in the form of a question and there is also a one subjact clause for a petition.

    The petition must also remain constant as what some of the electorate agree to in one district must be the same as what is presented in all the rest.

  40. The People should do an initiative on the Constitution to remove the once every five years restriction on people’s initiative–adopting instead the practice of the States of America allowing such Propositions as meet the numerical test (12% of voters, etc) to be decided during every regular election. PI is not just for the Constitution by the way. PI can be used to amend and even repeal (?) national or local laws, I guess including the National Budget and others. So it’s gotta be possible to use PI more often than every 5 years.

  41. Malapit na ang pasko, ang dami ng Christmas carols sa radyo.
    And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
    Whose forms are bending low,
    Who toil along the climbing way
    With painful steps and slow,
    Look now! for glad and golden hours
    Come swiftly on the wing.
    O rest beside the weary road,
    And hear the angels sing!

  42. “Unless something is done by those who desire some sort of political change, the political odds remain firmly stacked in Mrs. Arroyo’s favor.”

    For that to happen, the best thing to do , for the opposition and its allies in the civil society, is to come up with a rallying figure other than Estrada….a figure that has a reputation and ability to exceed what Glorya has accomplished.

  43. Rego… a rallying figure is not enough. What is also needed is a rallying proposal. And somehow, “talsik diyan” is not good enough because it — talsik diyan — has no content on what the undecided-29% can expect for their betterment. “From one frying pan to another” is not exactly inviting.

  44. Rego, UPn Student, we each have our preferences but it is not for us to predetermine the outcome. The purpose of a snap election is for the people as a whole to choose their President (and Vice President). As de Quiros (and others) have repeatedly pointed out, it’s a two step process:

    1. Removing a President with a bogus mandate.
    2. Selecting a President with a genuine mandate.

    We should not conflate the latter step with the former.

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