The gathering storm

Yesterday afternoon I addressed a gathering under the auspices of NIPS on the current political situation. I briefly outlined what’s in my column today, Political leprosy (which makes reference to my March 13, 2006 column, Managing expectations), as well as some points raised the paper of Economist Dr. Michael Alba (which I posted, yesterday, at Inquirer Current) and the argument put forward by yesterday’s Inquirer editorial on the repercussions of the Estrada pardon (widely expected to be formalized on Friday).

My column speaks for itself, but here’s two relevant extracts from the pieces I mentioned. First, from Dr. Alba’s paper:

Is there hope for the future? Recall that, from the inference made by Jones (1997 and 2002) on the very long-run evolution of the world distribution of living standards, the Philippines is right on the demarcation line of countries headed for different futures. If it gets its act together–and this is a big if–the country may yet join the high performers that are tending toward high steady-state levels of output per worker. But to do so, it must exhibit a high growth rate (faster than that of the technological frontier) over a long period of time (as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have done), by persistently pushing out the steady-state level of output per worker to which it is headed, not so much by achieving a higher saving rate, a lower population growth rate, and a higher quality workforce, although these will help because of synergistic effects, but by significantly improving its total factor productivity. Growth and modern development economics tell us, however, that this is not so easily done, because it involves improving the quality of the country’s social infrastructure by taking on the vestiges of our history and culture that are growth-constraining, such as flawed leadership that values loyalty more than competence, an entrenched political and business oligarchy that unashamedly promotes and jealously protects its narrow self-interests, and an incentive structure that is nepotistic rather than meritocratic and that rewards thievery and corruption more than honest, hard work. In particular, three absolutely essential and indispensable elements for social transformation are: an effective, efficient, and high-quality education system, a vigilant civil society that demands high accountability from the government, and a competent, corruption-intolerant government administration of firm purpose committed to reform and transformation.

And next, from yesterday’s Inquirer editorial:

The lesson Filipinos have learned is that both leaders have more in common with each other and both have more that sets them apart from a public that is as angry at Arroyo’s cash bar as it was over Estrada’s karaoke governance. In other words, after two years of agonizing over who is the lesser evil, the public can breathe easy, seeing how both are two sides of the same debased coin. It is People of the Philippines now versus Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

Returning to Dr. Alba’s economics paper, he pointed out a dilemma facing our OFW remittance-dependent economy. First, as more people work abroad, and send money home, the more foreign currency they send home, the less it’s worth. The result is OFW income is actually declining.

Add to this another problem: the more Filipinos leave home to work abroad, the less they stand to earn, and thus, the less they can send home, and the less what they send home is worth. This is the root cause behind proposals like the proposed November 1 and 2 Remittance boycott. Besides OFW’s, Filipino exporters have also, by all accounts, been ravaged by the depreciation of the dollar.

Add to this a third factor economists like Alba have noticed: the more Filipinos work abroad, the more their remaining dependents at home are likely to give up looking for work, and the more dependent they end up on those abroad. Short-term, this benefits the government, which can (and has, if you refer to Cielito Habito’s presentation a couple of months ago) then write off Filipinos who have given up looking for work, thereby formally (but not really) reducing those officially classified as unemployed.

Put in another factor, which is unreported in the media but common currency among entrepreneurs and other businessmen: the rampant smuggling of goods, which is also hurting Filipino manufacturers and traders. Simply talk to people with businesses that depend on importation or manufacturing, and you will know the concerns are serious, and resentment has begun to run deep. And you will also know who businessmen consider the godfathers and beneficiaries of smuggling.

Add another factor, which is that the upper and middle class in particular, was willing to tolerate many things about the administration, so long as it maintained the appearance of being marginally more virtuous than the Estrada administration. The handing out of cash to congressmen and governors, however, exceeded any doling-out of patronage in the Estrada years and was even more brazen than in the Marcos years. And the President’s attention to detail and workaholic style seems to have been spent more on manipulating the bureaucracy to approve the ZTE and other deals, than on anything particularly productive.

Add to this the growing realization on the part of military officers that they have to consider their career prospects in a future administration (a reason, I’ve heard it pointed out, that with the retirement of the previous service commanders, current and next-in-line commanders have quietly but effectively put a stop to tolerating extrajudicial killings and abductions, which seem to have subsided), and the realization among the politicians that the President’s solution to party problems –throwing money at people causing problems– has made politics so expensive and so utterly transactional, that they will have to bear the price of this in campaigns to come -and it makes politics a pretty much losing proposition, financially (even with Political Viagra by way of IRAs).

Put together the infighting in the President’s ruling coalition, with the sustained efforts of the various groups opposed to the administration, with the growing dissatisfaction with the President on the part of sectors formerly content to either turn a blind eye to her shortcomings, or who preferred her government to the prospects of a new one before 2010, and you have an administration running out of wiggle room. Not least because the President can no longer trot out her claim (very Nixon-like) that she represents a “silent majority.” If you noticed, her “silent majroty” has been consistently vocal, until now. Since ZTE began, the top 500 Women of Civil Society, the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and so forth have been very, very quiet while the usefulness of organizations such as ULAP has been severely curtailed, because of the payola scandal and clumsy handling by provincial officials (every family dealing with the depreciation of the dollar now has to consider what each congressman’s and governor’s dole out from the President could have done for them, instead, for example). The public hostility to the President over her handling of the Glorietta explosion and the handling by her pet officials hasn’t bolstered the President’s claim to public support, either.

In the same forum, Mon Casiple said that there are several confrontations that will determine whether the President recovers her strength or further dissipates it:

1. Today’s hearing at the Senate, and whether it brings to the fore new revelations (see ZTE inquiry resumes; Cabinet men not going and Joey: FG was coach; Abalos’ captain ball ). I don’t know if I’d be as sanguine as New Philippine Revolution who suggests,

1. After tomorrow’s Senate probe, expect a revival of street protests and rallies. These protests will escalate to heights never before seen in both EDSA 1 and 2. The situation, based on objective analysis of existing conditions, is tantamount to the 1986 scenario. People are raring to protests now and it is just a matter of time. Groups should serve as the trigger.

People are saying that the military should move for the kill first before the people support them. I think this is feasible under present circumstances. A repeat of EDSA 1 is in order. I concur with this observation.

2. The resumption of Congress on November 5, widely expected to be a showdown between the President and the Speaker. Tuesday and Wednesday night, apparently, had meetings of neophyte congressmen at the Palace, which suggests the administration is trying to regain the initiative.

3. The fallout from the Estrada pardon and whether, in the weeks and months to come, a quid pro quo between Arroyo and Estrada becomes obvious as a result, which means a burden for the opposition will now shift to the administration (see the letter of Estrada’s lawyers to the President).

4. The serious resumption of Charter Change will make it clear the President does not intend to step down in 2010.

5. The ability of government to convince the public that it’s solved the cause of the Glorietta explosion.

And, I’d add, the ramifications of a far less cheery citizenry going into the Christmas season, as The Unlawyer points out:

It goes without saying that Philippine retailers were the most adversely affected business sector in the wake of the blast. For example, my company suffered an 11 percent drop in business for this Friday to Sunday weekend period – prime shopping days at that – compared to revenues from previous weekends, although I must say that customer traffic rebounded somewhat on Sunday.

What about in the medium term? The explosion happened during the runup to the 2007 Christmas shopping season, which traditionally starts soon after the All Saints’ Day holidays. Indeed, at least two major Metro Manila malls started their respective pre-Christmas sales promotions on the day of the blast. Philippine consumers will definitely stay away from the malls in the next few days, and if the authorities don’t quickly restore confidence to an apprehensive populace, they may just decide to refrain from shopping for quite a while longer.

Philippine retailers are depending on Christmas season sales for a substantial portion of their 2007 revenues, and it is certainly not an appealing prospect for many of them – of us, I should say – to see our customers frightened so.

Imagine how the retailers will feel as their suddenly-slender margins are further eroded by smuggling.

Blogger Scriptorium, unlike Mon Casiple, thinks the odds are still in the President’s favor in terms of staying in power. The blogger starts off with an interesting analysis of the political scene:

The Philippine political system is best understood if we see its major players as estates divided into blocs composed of factions. An estate, following Weber’s usage, is a group distinguished by its specific social functions and conventions (rather than by mere economic standing, as in the case of a class); blocs are subgroups made cohesive by a common ideology, orientation, or interest, and which are the best Philippine equivalents of political parties; and factions are groups usually united by personal antipathy or allegiance. In the Philippines, the estates would be the Thinkers or “lords spiritual” (its Blocs being the Church, the Left, and the urban intelligentsia); the Warriors (i.e., the regular military, the armed Left, and the criminal and private armies); the Commons (the urban middle class, and the rural electorates); and the Magnates or “lords temporal” (i.e., the political elite, big business, and organized crime). There are other estates and other blocs, but they are not as politically significant.

Based on the above, the blogger breaks things down into three main groups:

(1) Since 1986, the successful removal of a sitting President through peaceful mass action has required a coalition composed of at least one bloc from each estate. Hence, the 1986 EDSA revolt was carried out by an alliance of the Church, the non-aligned intelligentsia, the urban middle class, the military, and the Opposition factions of big business and the political elite; and the 2001 EDSA revolt required the same broad alliance, with the addition of the intellectual Left, which directly participated in the protests.

(2) Of these blocs/factions, the most important have been the military, the Church, the urban middle class (as the popular base of the protests), and the opposition faction of the political elite (which provides the leadership). The absence of any one of these blocs/factions, especially the last, renders removal of a President through peaceful mass action unlikely.

(3) A successful removal through peaceful mass action requires a correlation of forces that favors removal; that is, in leadership, will, and political strength, the pro-ouster coalition must have the advantage over the administration. Thus, the 1986 coalition was marshaled against a regime weakened by economic crisis, the President’s wasting illness, and the attacks of the intellectual and armed Left; and the 2001 coalition confronted a President whose main political base was the isolated and untested urban poor, and who had neither the skill nor the machinery to counter-mobilize.

The blogger points out that the Catholic Church lacks a Cardinal Sin, and the political class either a Ninoy Aquino willing to embrace martyrdom, or a Doy Laurel willing to subordinate his ambitions; and because of these, the military is, in a sense, incapable of moving (for the same reason, the German military proved incapable of challenging Hitler; it’s interesting to me that the blogger compares the current AFP mentality to the old Prussian military mentality that equated professionalism with blind subordination to the state). Anyway, the blogger then concludes,

At present, however, the preconditions for successful removal of the President through peaceful mass action simply do not exist, as was amply demonstrated in the almost-successful ouster attempt of 2005.

To begin with, the main social blocs have been isolated, neutralized, or weakened. For one, the urban middle class, especially the all-important 18-35 age range, is sheltered from economic pressure (like that faced by the urban poor) by the existence of outsourcing and emigrant (OFW) employment, which also siphons off discontented urban intellectuals; and it is diverted from politics by the expansion of the emigrant- and outsourcing-driven consumer market. (Some writers, in fact, have noticed the discrepancy between the youth that fueled the First Quarter Storm and the young adults of contemporary Philippines: once, they say, the paradigmatic activity of college and young professionals was public protest against oppression and injustice; but today, one finds the youth in Starbucks and the ever-ubiquitous malls.)

Even if it were politically active, the urban middle class has declined in relative strength with the politicization of the rural electorate, which tends to be less pro-Opposition than the urban sectors. The presence of this new countervailing force allowed GMA to fight the 2005 ouster-movement by counter-mobilizing the provinces, somewhat as the 14th-century Valois mobilized rural France against the Jacquerie; and with the dominance of patrimonial politics in rural Philippines, which, as I explained in another essay, is under Presidential control, she can well use the provinces again to resist urban protest. Another additional factor has been the rise of urban poor as a potential force. Being less inclined to liberal-democratic ideology and oriented to bread-and-butter issues, the urban poor’s very existence as a mobilizable force serves to weaken the claim of the urban middle class to represent the public will. In a word, we are seeing in the Philippines the beginnings of the process that, in Europe, led to the displacement of middle-class Liberal power with the Conservative, Catholic and Socialist movements.

I can’t wait for Part 2 of the blogger’s essay!

See the PNP Presentation 1 and the PNP Presentation 2 on the Glorietta blast. See also the observations of Tongue In, Anew and The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile and Manuel Buencamino in his column and Inner Sanctum in his blog and Jessica Zafra in hers. Some news: PNP probes army official who found plastic bag with RDX and Ayala Land says PNP theory of methane gas blast unlikely. Whatever the case, the Inquirer editorial urges authorities not to rush it.

A very poignant reflection by Luz Rimban on journalists and their having to pry into the sorrows of individuals in times of crisis or disaster. See Rabid Pirate Tanuki on the reactions of an office mate, a survivor of the blast; I feel blest publishes a letter by a bereaved husband (her harrowing account of the husband and his ordeal is in this entry). helen’s site has harrowing rescue photos, and Life No. 2 reflects on how people coped with the tragedy.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

271 thoughts on “The gathering storm

  1. so there’s no more ‘filipino time’ i guess. and where do you find a TRUE PINOY? abroad?

    Dina, i don’t call it “filipino time,” i call it, oras ng mga bastos. the problem with your thinking, is that you attach all undesirable attitude as innately Filipino in character, which is just wrong and self-defeating. that kind of thinking reinforces the bad habit itself. parang negative thinking. isipin mo at isipin na di ka aasenso, at di ka nga aasenso.

    anong ginagawa ng pag label natin na ang masasamang ugaling ito ay “tatak Pilipino?” una, pinapalaganap nito na hopeless na ang pagbabago dahil nasa “dugo” na natin ang masasamang kaugalian na ito – which is not true. eh bakit ako, purong Pilipino pero palaging punctual? ibig sabihin ba non dayuhan na ako? o Pinoy na nag mutate? baka ako ang may dugong TUNAY na Pilipino at ang mga bastos ang may dugong halaw ng mga prayle.

    pangalawa, itinatatak nito sa mga murang isipan ng mga bata ang maling pag-iisip na ito. which in turn will reinforce this self-defeating attitude. so, ipinapamana natin sa mga anak natin ang pagiging “loser.”

    kaya next time, pag me nakita kang pinoy na nag e-exhibit ng maling gawain, tawagin mong dayuhan at wag mong tratuhin na Pinoy. dahil yon talaga sila. mga DI TUNAY na PINOY!

    at san ka makakahanap ng tunay na pinoy? eh di sa loob ng bawat Pilipino. nasa loob nating lahat ang kakayahang maging TUNAY na Pinoy. kailangan lang natin tong ma-realize para maiwaksi ang mga masasamang kaugaliang ihinawa satin ng mga prayle.

  2. i’ll tell you right now. as things stand, there’s just no way gma would have any need to be pardoned at anytime after her term expires. and this is not just speculation. you can take it to the bank. – Bencard

    and how did you know that? if you are not speculating, are you then a psychic and you can see the future? either that, or you must be reading a lot of “journalistic” hogwash. i think we should cut this habit of making conclusions out of conjectures. (Response copy-and-pasted mostly from Bencard’s own comment at 7:13 am, with a few revisions. Dirk Pitt, pahiram lang sandali ng “literary technique” mo ha.)

    btw [vic], i don’t care if your dollar is equal to or greater than mine. i’m sure you’re dying to move here, if you can. don’t you? – Bencard

    Has Vic directly told you that? Or this that more speculation?

    Hay, I missed making patol to Bencard. Peace tayo ha.

  3. devils, i know you are trying to live up to your name, but i don’t see anything dodong said that would justify you calling him a “prick” repeatedly. do you know what the word means when applied to a person? why don’t we just stay civil while airing our differences, shall we? you see, we can call each other names as cruelly as possible but what’s the point? i think we are all adults here, and if we cannot argue without resorting to ad hominem, we are are just wasting our time and we are not proving anything other than the fact that we are all JERKS.

  4. mali lang siguro ang pagka-intindi natin kay dOdOng. sa tingin ko, ang ibig niyang sabihin, ang P100 mo ngayon ay P100 pa rin sa taong 2100 kung ilalagay mo sa baul.

  5. ay_naku, ang init lang ng dugo ko sa kanya. palibhasa di maka relate at di naman sya OFW o umaasa sa isang OFW. dahil kung oo, tiyak isa yan sa magko-complain kaagad.

    malas nya lang, at OFW ang nanay ko. kaya alam ko ang pinagsasasabi ko. eh sya, san ba nya napulot yang gago nyang pagkakaintindi sa economics ng exchange rate?

    ay_naku, salamat for being nice. you’re a true pinoy!

    Dina, that’s the attiude! now, if only you’ll change your handle into something more encouraging..

  6. Prick can refer to:

    Prick (album), an album by the rock band The Melvins
    Prick (band), an industrial rock band fronted by Kevin McMahon
    “Prick”, a single by the Australian band Something for Kate
    The hard part of the aedeagus, an insect’s penis
    Aston East, Bolton, Lancashire.

  7. ay_naku, salamat for being nice. you’re a true pinoy!

    Yikes, I just became a bit naughty with my comment (for Bencard) above! Nahiya tuloy ako bigla. But I was just trying to be playful. And I really try to avoid using cuss/curse/profane language directed at other commenters here. (Though sometimes I slip, especially if the commenter is really foul-mouthed.)

    Still, thanks DinaPinoy.

  8. Bencard, thanks for the advice. but you know, sometimes, it’s gratifying jz calling people names (esp if it’s true). so yeah, I’m a jerk if I call him that. but still, he’s a prick and there’s no denying it.

    and here’s what I got as definition for the word:

    n 1: (obscene) insulting terms of address for people who are stupid or irritating or ridiculous [syn: asshole, bastard, cocksucker, dickhead, shit, mother fucker, motherfucker, son of a bitch, SOB]
    2: a depression scratched or carved into a surface [syn: incision, scratch, slit, dent]
    3: obscene terms for penis [syn: cock, dick, shaft, pecker, peter, tool]
    4: the act of puncturing with a small point; “he gave the balloon a small prick” [syn: pricking]
    v 1: make a small hole into; “The nurse pricked my finger to get a small blood sample.”
    2: cause a stinging pain [syn: sting, twinge]
    3: of the ears of an animal, for example; “The dog pricked up his ears” [syn: prick up, cock up]
    4: prod or urge as if with a log stick [syn: goad]
    5: cause a prickling sensation [syn: prickle]
    6: to cause a sharp emotional pain; “The thought of her unhappiness pricked his conscience”
    7: of insects, scorpions, or other animals; “A bee stung my arm yesterday.” [syn: sting, bite]

    my usage of the word squarely falls on number 1! and wouldn’t you know it, the word i used is infinitely more polite than the other words listed as synonyms for the same intended message!

  9. ay_naku, this time i’m in the mood to respond to you. i was not speculating. i’m stating a fact that, right now, gma has not committed any crime for which he can be convicted at the end of her term, and for which she would need to be pardoned. find a lawyer who would be interested and i would gladly debate this matter with him/her. o.k.?

    as to vic, yeah, he is on record (in previous posts) expressing his wish to move to california or n.y. ask him.

  10. mali lang siguro ang pagka-intindi natin kay dOdOng. sa tingin ko, ang ibig niyang sabihin, ang P100 mo ngayon ay P100 pa rin sa taong 2100 kung ilalagay mo sa baul.

    Dina, kahit yan ay di applicable. oo nga, ang perang papel mong P100 ay P100 pa rin lumipas man ang ilang taon. pero pareho pa ba ang mabibili nito?

    dahil ang pera ay nagde-depreciate over time.

  11. Prick can refer to:

    -Prick (album), an album by the rock band The Melvins
    -Prick (band), an industrial rock band fronted by Kevin McMahon
    -“Prick”, a single by the Australian band Something for Kate
    -The hard part of the aedeagus, an insect’s penis
    -Aston East, Bolton, Lancashire.

  12. pandering to what is perceived to be estrada’s still potent political clout is like surrendering to political blackmail. it is an act of cowardice. pgma should be mindful of history. his great father was much-criticized for allowing the deportation of harry stonehill before the government had a chance to convict him of massive corruption. she should avoid the same harsh judgment of history. – Bencard at October 23rd, 2007 at 9:57 am in “Evidence (Updated) entry

    i really don’t know why erap [was pardoned.] i guess it was kind of like paying a ransom when your most beloved son’s life is at stake. whatever pgma’s real reason is, we probably will never know. it’s in her conscience and she will live and die with it. as i commented a few posts ago, one of her biggest failure is the inability to win over her enemies’ supporters to her side, or at least cooperate with her. maybe, just maybe, this will do the trick, for the general good. in such a case, the end justifies the means, i think. – Bencard at October 25th, 2007 at 11:06 pm in “The Gathering Storm” entry

    Mabilis pa sa alas-kwatro ang pagpalit ng opinion ah. (Of course you are entitled to change your mind, I’m not saying otherwise.) So really now, which is it: an “act of cowardice” for “surrendering to political blackmail”, or a “trick for the general good”?

  13. na-alala ko tuloy ang kaso ng isang doktor dito sa ‘merika. he had a really old $100 and used it at a convinient store. the clerk, thinking the bill is fake, alerted the police. hinuli sya. to make the story short, he sued and won.

  14. DinaPinoy:

    kaso, mali pa din si dodong eh. ang PHP1,000 kung itago mo sa baul today for a few years, ano pang mabibili nun?

    money has a time value and either d0d0ng doesn’t know that, or well… i don’t know.

  15. Hi! This is just a comment about the presidential pardon given to former Pres. Estrada. I would just like to say that the pardon given to Erap was an act of kindness to someone who has already served years of imprisonment for a crime, that was as pronounced guilty by the Philippine judicial system, which was proven, as sentenced by the Sandiganbayan, he committed. Let’s just respect the democratic processes in our country. I both joined People Power Revolutions One and Two for democracy in our land. Let’s give national reconcilliation a chance to work under the current Arroyo administration and to all succeeding administrations in this country. Peace_making is always a righteous thing in this world. I also believe that our democratic processes can really prove the legitimacy question that has haunted Arroyo’s presidency since her proclamation as the winner of the year 2004 Philippine presidential election. Our democratic processes can also prove all the allegations of corruption against the Arroyo admin as either false or true. After all, there is a probability that Mrs. Arroyo really won the year 2004 presidential election in our country. The Filipino people must continue to peacefully and lawfully work to fortify the security of human rights, democracy and civil liberties in the Philippines. Social reforms, especially elctoral reforms, should be peacefully and lawfully worked out by Filipinos to strenghthen Philippine democracy. Thanks.

  16. tonio,
    tama ka rin. over time lumiliit ang value ng pera. pero tingnan mo, last year ang $1 = P55. ngayon $1 = P45. kung ang inilagay mo sa baul ay $, talo ka. kung pesos naman, di ba halos pareho lang? magkano na ba ang galunggung ngayon kumpara last year?

  17. “I think the better question, Bencard, is, why Erap?”

    indeed, shaman, why erap only? I WANT JALOSJOS FREED, TOO!!!!

    sudden change of heart there, bencard, huh? gma’s biggest blunder, you keep harping back then, and now, it’s probably for the greater good. still on your rule of law crap?

    who’s this wise sage who said, walang gago kung walang nagpapagago. ang alam ko, may gago.

  18. d0d0ng read alba’s paper again. and his ppt. he spends a lot of time on the impact of ofw remittances and that includes quantifying them.

  19. dina:

    the thing there is… would you still be able to buy much with PHP1,000 a year from now? honestly, i don’t know. what i do know is that right now, it’s even hard to get much with PHP500 nowadays.

  20. d0d0ng why is it false? you send home $1000 at P50 to $1 and then the same amount at P43 to $1, from 50,000 a month you’ve gone down to 43,000 a month. And the increase of prices at home continues unabated. And the chances that someone can go abroad and get $1,000 a month is also shrinking. This is the combination of factors Alba’s talking about.

  21. vic, i personally oppose erap’s pardon but you are being ignorant. pardon is part of the “rule of flaw”, not necessarily gma’s own. it’s a presidential, discretionary prerogative. technically, she can pardon all the other convicts you mentioned but why should she? – Bencard at October 25th, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    what would happen should estrada be pardoned? gen carlos garcia, manalili, et al. should be pardoned and allowed to enjoy their loot under the equal protection clause of the constitution; ricaforte and the other co-indictees in the estrada plunder, who are still at-large, need not even be arrested and prosecuted; and all these bellyaching about graft and corruption in the philippines should just stop and treated as mere “political noise”. i have already been wondering why the self-anointed civil rights ngos and mouthpieces have not raised a self-righteous finger to protest estrada’s detention in luxury and almost regular time-off for personal business, while ordinary poor criminals languish in crowded, filthy, vermin-infested cells, hardly able to visit and see their loved ones. are we living in a democracy, or under a selective “rule of law” and double standard of justice?”
    – Bencard on September 25th, 2007 at 11:34 pm in entry “Panicking into the arms of defeat”

  22. I wrote the following in early 2002 (I considered myself then a GMA sympathizer):


    As a matter of expediency and possibly humanitarian grounds, the proposition to exile Erap should therefore be seriously mulled over in the light of this juggling act that GMA is apparently performing on a tight rope. To leave the matter in the hands of a supposedly apolitical and unaccountable judiciary, the course the GMA government has adopted, is to ignore the reality that the resolution of the Erap cases has graver political, economic and other consequences than merely legal.

    To keep the “judiciary out” and bring the “executive in” again, the following option is suggested:

    1. Erap pleads guilty to his crimes as charged
    2. Erap serves a minimum of one year of his sentence
    3. GMA pardons Erap after serving one year
    4. Erap goes on exile.

    After Erap is out of the way, the GMA government then prosecutes Erap’s accomplices whom Erap should name before leaving, as part of the deal.

    The less balls to juggle, the better are the chances of not missing to catch the rest.

    For many interested parties including the plunder watchers and other people of like persuasion, they could always look at the foregoing proposition as a “win” situation. For one thing, a plea of guilty, a conviction and a token service of sentence on the criminal cases would be on top of the capital political penalty of loss of the presidency already meted out. Altogether, it should be as proximal as to the ideal satisfaction of the call for justice.

    With the gadfly swatted out, the GMA government could now put its meager resources to better use than maintaining the expensive security measures for an ousted president pending the long drawn trial. Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan or the Supreme Court might thus be spared from being embroiled in a predicament that certainly has more than strictly judicial implications.

    If we want to show to the world that our legal or justice system works, maybe, we should first complete the dry run on the Marcoses and their relentlessly more pernicious accomplices. Many of them are back in our midst as untouchables after being driven into exile, and now doing business as usual. This privilege would be denied Erap should he leave the country as someone disqualified (because of the conviction) to re-enter elected public office while the government would be allowed to keep the alternative of prosecuting his partners in crime. For Erap, if he were not expecting a fellowship in Harvard, the option to simply enjoy fishing by Lake Tahoe would be available and quite beckoning. When knees start to buckle, isn’t it telling us that life’s too short?

    What a difference six years make!

  23. ay_naku,

    ang problema sa yo, you don’t appreciate the rule of law. sabi ni gma, eh. what’s bencard’s sense of morality to do with her presidential prerogative? kaw, talaga, learn your rule of law. ang bastas kung may butas, paki mo?

    ang rule of law, bow.

  24. Rummel Pinera,

    An act of Kindness? my shit! It is merely honor among theives. the kind of honor that makes you puke, right Mr. rule of law? Sannamagan, rule of law daw, national interest daw. Kung ang national interest ay dinedefine every now and then by the administration at hindi nakapaloob sa Constitution, e para que pa na may konstitusyon. Kung yung respect for human rights and accountability of public officers na nasa konstitusyon as napapasantabi dahil sa “national interest” at rule of law ng isang mama diyan, e para que pa? Buwagin na natin and Pilipinas

  25. ay_naku, good find! i do believe that Bencard’s rule of flaw typo is a Freudian slip from a vestigial (pre-lawyerly) sense of right or wrong.

    Devils, regarding “Dinapinoy’s” distinction, it is not a rejection of being Filipino. There is a background to that and i think that reflects his/her generation. The older people saw the term ‘Pinoy’ as somewhat cheap nickname with derogatory undertones so they prefer being called with the proper name ‘Filipino’. It’s only over time that the term Pinoy has become a neutral one for everyday use. So for their generation, the proper punchline to ‘Hindi ako Pinoy’ is ‘Pilipino ako’.

  26. “I believe the 18 bishops’ statement do not constitute an official statement from the CBCP – it is just a collective statement. If you are looking for an official Catholic voice, the closest one you get in our setting is the one that might be released by the CBCP, that is if they do decide to release one”

    First, i’d like to thank willy for the above correction. When i read the article again, the opinion nga pala was coming from 17 or so bishops from Mindanao lead by bishop Capalla. I thought Bishop Capalla is an official of the CBCP. Althoug, i could not recall exact detail now, i think this Bishop Capalla is the same bishop who accepted bribe money from governement or was it gambling money not so long a time ago and saw nothing wrong about it.

    It seem really that mistrust has become a malignant desease that has metastasis to the core of every Filipino. No amount of scandal and bombing can revive our spirit to form a potent force, like a methane gas,strong enough to bomb out the evil that is staring us on the face. Lantaran ang iskandalo but the only thing that we could do against it is blog our hearts out. I thought that convicting a powerful man of plunder was a wisp of silver lining to our campaign for a clean government because the decision will serve as warning to our public officials to keep their descipline and serve honestly or else face the full force of the law as Estrada did. But look again, he is given pardon for reasons only the benficiaries would understand.

    I cannot write as eloquent or argue as well as most of you here. But like any rational being who is expected to know right from wrong, the things that are happening with this administration could really suck whatever good sense that is left of the Filipinos.

  27. bencard’s hallmark greetings on his favorite topic: the rule of law

    vic, i agree. there should be no compromise with plunder. there is a good reason why this particular crime was originally punishable by death. a strong message that society will not tolerate or forgive such a heinous crime. using one’s office to steal hundreds of millions of pesos from the people ranks up there with first degree murder, rape with murder, and genocide, among other capital offenses. any kind of pardon (absolute or conditional) for these kinds of crimes, to me, is unacceptable.
    it will help immensely in fostering a national discipline to treat criminals the same way without regard to their social status, or lack of it, or their wealth. no convict should be allowed to serve his sentence in his private mansion no matter how exalted his former position had been.
    October 4th, 2007 at 3:24 am

    mlq3, i don’t understand why you insist that plunder is a “political” crime. it is not. there’s nothing political about using one’s office to steal a fortune that rightfully belongs to the people. as i said, plunder was originally punishable by death. the apparent intent of the law is, first and foremost, deterrence. a pardon sends a wrong message. for a nation that has been reeling from the onslaught of rapacious public servants for so long, conviction of a former president is a whiff of fresh air from a rotting carcass, only to be rendered naught by an act of political expediency. think of the lesson that could be learned, from an appropriate retribution, by future plunderers, and individuals inclined to commit graft and corruption, from a lowly janitor all the way to the chief executive, chief justice of s.c., speaker of the house and senate president?
    i have no reason to doubt, mlq3, your sincerity and zeal in your desire to fight graft and corruption, especially in high places of our society. convicting a former president was a breakthrough, an almost impossible task in a society such as ours. we should not let it go to waste.
    October 4th, 2007 at 4:26 am

  28. 6 years of trial. 6 weeks of conviction. 6 minutes of o relay the pardon.

    666. the devil is in the detail.

  29. re peso depreciation: that’s why i’m not too inclined to put my money in the bank. inflation overtakes whatever growth your money in the bank may have.

    gastusin ko na lang ngayon, ibili ng ipod, ikain sa labas, ipanood ng sine, nag enjoy pa ako. kesa hintaying kahit pandesal di na ito maibili.

    re Jalosjos, i thought he was already pardoned by GMA this last election.. (correct me if I’m wrong)

    and there’s a poor man languishing in jail convicted of a rape he cannot possibly do. he’s a quadriplegic, i understand. and for those who do not know, quadriplegics are paralzyed from the neck down, and also cannot get “it” up. they are already impotent. Ramon Tulfo covered this story in his column maybe a year ago (i think). so much for GMA’s “justice” and concept of “pardon.”

    he may be liable for verbal or sexual harassment, but not possibly rape as defined in our penal code. idk what kind of crack the judge was sniffing to convict this man.



    help me out here, bencard. give me names, more names. oh, how i love our glorific justice system! [i am actually having uncontrolled orgasm just thinking about the rule of law.]

  31. Should any one be surprised that GMA pardoned Erap? Mon Dieu! (for the benefit of French-speaking MBW). This is the Corruption Capital of Asia, where corruption is the highest virtue! Has everyone forgotten that? Could we expect GMA to have acted differently? To GMA and her cohorts, not pardoning Erap would be like God sending a Saint to Hell.

  32. cvj, my complaint abt dina’s statement wasnt abt the old deregatory use of “pinoy” vs Filipino, but the overall use of the name Pinoy or Filipino to attach it to our character faults. it simply promotes a vicious cycle of looking down on our own race, thereby ensuring that we practice those char traits bec fighting it is useless bec it’s in “our blood.”

    rule of flaw. that’s the new clique today. i wonder where i can buy a conscience that can tolerate that…

  33. emilie:

    they actually caught the pocpoc? i thought he was still at large, moving from one Rotary district to the next? hahahah!

  34. I believe the 18 bishops’ statement do not constitute an official statement from the CBCP – it is just a collective statement.

    I don’t care if they issued it collectively, singularly, as CBCP, or just as citizens. they were priests, and they issued the statement with a priest’s authority (which they have just lost), and they will reap their collective amorality when they face God.

    so yes, I’m pissed that even our priests have been possessed by the evil of amorality. and if they have the freedom of speech to issue that statement, so do i have the same to tell them: go to hell, bishops! kiss satan’s ass for me!

  35. easy,inodoro ni emilie. Siguro ilagay na lang natin ang galit natin sa pamamaraan na maapektuhan yung gumawa ng kalokohan. Sa tingin ko lahat dito kung makakalapit lang ki GMA pinlipit na ang leeg. Not so much is achieve spewing our anger with fellow bloggers. Lets show the devil it cannot triumph against good. But how? ako kahit ilan pang people power an maganap kun yan ang kailanagang mangyari hangang sa makakuha tayo ng matinong mamumuno sa atin, I will never get tired of joining street protest.

  36. devils:

    if you fancy yourself to be the arbiter of morality, as those priests do, then everything you do is moral.

  37. Devilsadv,
    Fine. No problem if you feel that way.
    Scriptures says: Do not give what is holy to the dogs.

  38. I firmly believe Bencard when he said that it was all in compliance with the “rule of flaw”.

    No, Bencard, it was not a typo error. Ever since Gloria seized presidential powers, we have been living under the “rule of flaw”. It was divinely-inspired and you were chosen to deliver the message. God is wise, and He knows exactly who to choose.

  39. Manolo, thanks for asking.

    That “OFW income is declining”, is false. You are implying of the value of goods and services that money can buy or purchasing power which is different from earnings or income. Simply, income does not change except for salary increase.

    Likewise, significant portion of income is used to pay bills, expenses and retained as savings that less portion is sent for remittances. The foreign currency translation on remittance has no bearing on the significant portion of income retained and used.

    The statement that “the increase of prices at home continues unabated” is false. Annual inflation as of September, 2007 in the Philippines is 2.7% which is the same inflation rate in the US.

    I am having fun reading devilsadvocate posting and of supremo… hehe.

    Ay Naku, thanks.

  40. “Ay naku:it’s “trick or treat” time for the old fella.not surprised at all.” – Equalizer

    Are you sure you didn’t mean “prick or treat”?

  41. DevilsAdvc8 :

    Bencard, thanks for the advice. but you know, sometimes, it’s gratifying jz calling people names (esp if it’s true). so yeah, I’m a jerk if I call him that. but still, he’s a prick and there’s no denying it.

    so harion, you’ve been influenced now by the other blog? of course, dodong is wrong re the value of ofw’s remittances. i should know because i’m an ofw and right now we are bleeding the reason for that call for a remittance boycott on nov 1 & 2 – more than 20% is lost due to the exchange rate plus another 20% due to the rising prices at home.

    pero bakit ka ba subrang nagagalit kay dodong? dahil sa pagiging ignorante niya or dahil lumiit na ang natatanggap mo na allowance sa perang padala ng nanay mo?

  42. “Scriptures says: Do not give what is holy to the dogs.”

    Willy, although it does not get across my understanding your use of this line, i guess this could have been taken from that scene in the bible where a woman approached Jesus Christ and asked Him to heal her daughter, who is possessed by the devil. To which Jesus replied, ” the food intended for the children of God should not be given to the dogs”. But what impresses me on this scene is not what Jesus Christ had said to the woman but the rebuttal of the woman to Jesus Christ,”even the dogs eat cramps that fall from their master’s table” Very witty answer, don’t you think. I just need to figure out the relevance of this particular episode to our current plight.

    I think, Dodong, you still don’t get it. O di naman kaya talagang nililito mo lang ang bagay na ito. By the appreciation of peso, the peso equivalent of the dollar has gone down. To a simple household there is less peso to spend now than before from the same amount of dollar that is being sent by their family members working abroad. An inflation of 2.7% is still a price increase of that rate from a year ago level. We have a situation here where our disposable income has shrunk but prices of goods continue to increase

  43. the storm that has been gathering since then has so far not materialized and could be classified as a passing rain shower. the noises will continue up to 2010 and beyond. i hope, for the good of the country, they will remain as thunder and lightning but with no flooding.

    Just weather forecasting by non-meteorological people.

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