Second wind

Last Sunday I asked Mon Casiple his fearless forecast before the rally started. A very circumspect man, he answered me by saying he saw three possibilities:

1. If attendance was disappointing, the administration would suddenly rediscover its courage and renew the push for constitutional amendments.
2. If attendance met expectations, then everyone could look forward to the May elections and take it from there.
3. If attendance exceeded expectations, the President would begin negotiations leading to her retirement.

The President proved Mr. Casiple right, with this statement:

There are three realities we face as a nation: one, that the people accept the need for Charter change to overhaul the system; two, that there is a need for a unified national consensus on the means and timetable; and three, that this is a platform commitment of the administration that will be pursued with urgency and fervor.

These realities will continue to shape our actions for the better future of the Philippines – working closely and inclusively with all stakeholders and institutions; observing transparency; and backing up the entire process with a strong economy, social payback and values programs.

This is a matter of paramount national interest and our leaders must all rise to the challenge.

This is a volte-face from her previous statement on December 14:

I commend the decision of the House leadership as an act of statesmanship to unify not only the two chambers of the legislature but the whole nation around the issue of Charter change.

I thank Speaker Joe de Venecia and his valiant allies in the House for heeding the voice of national consolidation and unity, without sacrificing their high vision of political renewal.

It is time to gather together all the energies of our people for the continuing work ahead – maintaining our economic strength, ensuring the social payback of economic reforms, and helping distressed communities back to their feet.

Philippine democracy will always find the proper time and opportunity for Charter reform at a time when the people deem it ripe and needful, and in the manner they deem proper. The nation must consolidate now and I call upon all our institutions and sectors to stand as one for the country’s future.

The “urgency and fervor” of December 19 was not there on December 14; or put another way, the need to “gather together all the energies of our people,” etc., was magnificently accomplished in all of one week (which proves nothing is ever permanent in politics).

If members of the House were stunned a week ago, it’s happy days again, as the latest show of bravura indicates, regardless of whether or not they’re taking their cue from the unsinkable Speaker, the irrepressible Senator Santiago, and a highly-pleased Alex Magno.

And so, the Inquirer says, Fresh Cha-cha push seen after Christmas; the President’s given the green light, or as GMA News puts it, she’s now “undeterred”; see also, the combined report of Malaya.

So there you have it. It reminds me of something else Mon Casiple told me: “don’t believe for a moment their Con-Ass proposal has been really archived and is dead.”

In her column, Connie Veneracion suggests broader, and harder, questions have to be tackled if a proper Charter Change debate is to take place.

In the blogosphere, Philippine Commentary continues to elaborate his thesis that a new kind of political conservatism is a-borning. Red’s Herring examines the role of People Power in a democracy and how just invoking its name can scare the wits out of leaders.

Ang Tagapaggalugad as well as Audrin’s Site, and Sarita’s Site, and Four Eyed Journal went to the rally and took photos. On the other hand, Pinoy X-sa KSA is fed up with rallies. A sentiment expressed by those who had to deal with yesterday’s Makati rally: see Past Midnight and onetwentyhours.

Ellen Tordesillas wrote about that rally as it was taking place, saying one message it presented was “don’t rely on the Church.” Her entry reminded me of the heated debate during Edsa Dos, between those who wanted to stay at the Edsa Shrine, and the others who wanted to march on the Palace.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

115 thoughts on “Second wind

  1. Carl, with your frank assessment, i’m glad we’ve gotten beyond the innuendoes of your past comments.

    The cumulative gains refer to the recovery in terms of per capita GDP which climbed (slowly but steadily) during the terms of post-EDSA presidents Cory, FVR, Ramos and Arroyo. i cannot include Marcos because the collapse in per capita gdp which took 20 years to recover from happened on his watch.

    Among other things, i believe in the market, private property and free trade so i don’t think the communists will recognize me as one of their own. However, i do believe that the focus on preserving one’s gains is self-defeating in the face of stark inequalities. I do not wish class warfare to break out since i have my own gains to preserve but i worry that unless we take more seriously issues in the area of justice, equity and human rights, that is a genuine risk. Lastly, I don’t think that preserving my gains means casting my lot with trapos and warlords as that would make me complicit with the injustices that they inflict on the rest of the Filipinos.

  2. Amen, I say to you, Carl. I wish I could put my sentiments as eloquently as you do. Some of the things I abhor are intellectual pretensions and moral pontifications to embellish an untenable political position.

  3. Let’s just not discount the trapos that are also dominant in the opposition lot just because they adhere to one’s beliefs against the present administration. The lack disgust for them for their past sins is not the way in instituting change in our society.

  4. bernardocarpio, once we start respecting the will of the majority and hold GMA to account for her actions, the middle forces will be in a better position to discipline trapos from all sides. By giving both active and passive support to GMA’s illegitimate rule and its repressive acts, we in the middle have lost our power of moral suasion, something we badly need because unlike the rich, we do not have the resources, and unlike the masses, we do not have the numbers.

  5. cvj: I am not and never has been the Arroyo family’s lawyer anywhere. I am just another Filipino who refuses to join the hate-mongering, judgmental crowd in this blogsphere, and the “wise guys” who wish ill for the country as a way of getting at GMA. They know who they are, but I know you are not one of them.

    Anyway, may the blessings of Christmas be yours and all in this blog.

  6. cvj: I mean, I know you are not one of those who wish bad for the country in order to get at GMA.

  7. This is my last post for 2006.

    Now for me it clear, from BSP data and from CVJs calculation above that:

    “If you add up the principal payments, it turns out that the Arroyo government has paid off 24 Billion US Dollars of foreign debt.”

    “According to the same BSP website, for the same period, the external public debt increased from 34 Billion USD (end of 2000) to 36 Billion (end of 2005). This seems to confirm your conjecture that Arroyo had to resort to more foreign borrowing to pay-off the principal.”

    Therefore, from above:

    *there was only 2 billion dollars increase in public debt from year 2000 to 2005.

    *The GMA administration, has paid off 24 Billion US Dollars of foreign debt.

    Now we can add the picture of: The stock market is up; the peso is soaring vs. the U.S dollar; unemployment is down quite a bit (more new jobs); investments – both foreign and domestic – are up; projected budget and trade deficits are down.

    These efforts we have to understand is not a magic wand that will change lives of the poor ASAP. If only we can sustain this momentum for a decade….then maybe we can improve the lot of the poor Filipinos in due time.

  8. Correction:

    “The GMA administration, has paid off 24 Billion US Dollars of foreign debt.” These are just the Principal payments.

    But if we have to include the interests payments, the GMA administration actually paid off a total of 36.6 billion dollars or (rate 50 pesos to the US Dollars)1 trillion and 830 billion pesoses over five years!

    Now this is mind boggling! I am not sure if this is still the right to do at the expense of our poor people, and our social services, and our education budget.

  9. The middle class need not depend on anybody to fight the injustices brought upon by our politicians. There are other ways of fighting the trapos (admin & opposition)if we can come up with fresh ideas to deal with them. If the will is strong to get all these crooks then the support of the rich & poor will come without having to convince them about the cause. It is the selective patronage of trapos (just because some of them fuel our disappointment with the president) that disunites the middle class itself thus rendering it powerless.

  10. bernardocarpio, i do not disagree with the need for fresh ideas, but to mobilize the rest, we need to lead by example. We have to call out cheating, deception and coercion wherever it comes from, most specially if it originates from our camp and we are the perceived benefactors, otherwise anything we do will come out as self-serving and aimed only at preserving our gains.

    For the middle class to flirt with ‘the end justifies the means‘ type of Machiavellianism is dangerous since this is a game involving power and as i said above, we neither have the resources of the rich nor the numbers of the poor. Any ‘power’ we have comes from doing what is right, which is why we need to play things straight.

    I cannot help it if there are also trapos who are against the President, after all, in this matter involving principles, there can only be two sides. Those who straddle the fence and see themselves as somehow above the fray help preserve the status quo which favors the administration and its continuing injustices.

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