There’s a strange parallel going on between the souring of public opinion concerning George W. Bush, and the long-curdled public standing of President Arroyo. Much as it’s been pointed out that the Republican playbook is used chapter-and-verse by the administration, Americans and Filipinos, with their shared (but far from identical) political systems are both wrestling with political concepts of American origin, most emphatically the idea of Executive Privilege (which, it can be argued, was invented as a concept only in 1956, and then adopted in turn by our courts). This in turn brings up the pros and cons of impeachment, and the purposes of investigations. See this engrossing article, Carts Before Horses: Impeachment Inquiry First, Ask Questions Later:
In other words, they say, no inquiry should commence until proof of the president’s guilt has been unearthed – proof which would, of course, make the inquiry superfluous! The Watergate investigation that dethroned President Richard M. Nixon would never have been launched under such an Alice in Wonderland standard of proof, because it began with nothing more than two obscure figures, E. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, known to have both White House connections and associations with the Watergate burglars… The House does not require, nor should it await, proof beyond a reasonable doubt of misconduct. To wait for such proof subverts the whole purpose of an impeachment inquiry.
Watergate is of course, one of the most interesting political scandals of contemporary times (see this nifty site), and demonstrated the power of even the threat of impeachment particularly in the wake of the White House tapes (see the listener’s guide as well) and the legal cases they provoked, including United States v. Nixon (which were provoked by Nixon’s views on presidential power).
The American experience, and continuing debate is helpful, if only because it helps clarify some of the muddled thinking concerning things like impeachment and Executive Privilege here at home: at the very least, the American debates (often ferocious) demonstrates that there are different ways of tackling those issues; there may be a dominant interpretation, for example, but it can be said the dominant view hasn’t been supreme all that long, and may one day become a minority view. Which is good or bad depending on how you view the dominant approach right now.
In the news today are two upcoming Congressional hearings (even as the Palace continues to attend to its defenses, see Puno named acting Palace adviser on political affairs; to think at one point, it seemed he was down, but obviously, not out). One in the Senate, see Senate to summon characters in scandal and ‘Hello Garci’ probe on; Ping wants Manila cardinal grilled (Amen to that!). Another in the House, see House schedules question hour on national broadband deal. Both are necessary and healthy, though not necessarily productive of either legislation or any findings.
Even as RP scores poorly in APEC study (the productive approach: there’s a list of things that could stand improvement), opinions on the latest GDP figures from Liling Briones and Tony Abaya (a stimulating read, as always). See the Philippine Experience as well:
Many economists and even businessmen does not agree with the figures. My small business had dropped about 12% in earnings. Some of my tenants are actually behind in their rental payments. This is the gauge I use that business especially the medium-scale and small-scale businesses are actually slowing down. People have less spending power. Utilities are actually going up further hampering growth. This is the reason why NAPOCOR and Meralco are proposing lowering its costs in economic zones. In the coming months, Meralco will be charging us another P6.23/kWh more to recover their claimed losses. I just wonder why they can recover whatever they lost while we can only charge our losses to experience?
All I hear is the entry of BPOs who are actually just replacing those who have chosen to relocate elsewhere. The endless sale in the malls shows that retail is not moving. Just take a look at how credit cards are offering zero interests just to push the public to buy.
John Nery takes an interesting, biblical, look at the schism within Couples for Christ and its effect on Gawad Kalinga.
The US-inspired demonization of all leftist ideas and personalities could be the explanation for the avalanche of anti-Sison and anti-left commentaries. No second thoughts are given in the calls for Sison’s head. These self-proclaimed liberal democrats loudly fight for civil rights and due process “for all” when it is their kind who bear the brunt of persecution, but they turn into fascists when persons like Sison who are being hurt.
The ongoing demonization of Sison provides the left the opportunity to clarify its role in society, its aspirations and its record.
Ninotchka Rosca said it best: “The more you put Sison down, the more you raise him up in the eyes of the people.”
Postcard Headlines (who has a great roundup) says the debate hasn’t gotten traction with the public:
However, for most of this country’s citizens the whole thing doesn’t mean a thing. Despite the different views on the arrest’s implications taken by the conflicting parties, the ordinary people (the masses outside of the Left’s sphere of influence and the middle classes) still go on with their lives.
In the end, majority of Filipinos follow other news and interests and continue looking for means to sustain their families and send their sons and daughters to school.
Red’s Herring reflects on Ramon Magsaysay.
ISAW says obsolete-style attacks were made against the Manila Standard Today website.