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The Arroyo Imbroglio in the Philippines
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on January 14, 2008 86 Comments 15 min read
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As the handy-dandy Oxford American Dictionaries puts it:

imbroglio |im?br?ly?|
noun ( pl. -glios)
an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation : the Watergate imbroglio.
‘ archaic a confused heap.
ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: Italian, from imbrogliare ‘confuse’ ; related to embroil .

As I mentioned last week, the Journal of Democracy has just published an article on the Philippines by Paul D. Hutchcroft, titled “The Arroyo imbroglio in the Philippines.”

Here’s his article:

Hutchcroft-19-1
Which you can also download directly from the journal.

He unfortunately begins his piece with a slight factual error:

With the exception of Ferdinand Marcos, who held power from 1965 to 1986, no one in Philippine history has had a longer tenure in the presidential palace than Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She first assumed the presidency in January 2001, when a “people power” uprising ousted President Joseph Estrada from Malacañang Palace and elevated her from the vice-presidency to the highest office in the land. After serving out Estrada’s remaining term until 2004, Macapagal-Arroyo was elected for another six years. Term-limit restrictions require her to step down in 2010, after what will be nearly a decade in office.

His assertion is premature. She will reach that point (the second-longest incumbency) on October 6, 2009, when her stay in office exceeds 3,182 days. She has had, undoubtedly, the longest post-Edsa presidency.

Anyway, the article tries to look at what’s happened since 2005.

This is, perhaps, the most concise and correct summary of what’s transpired in that period:

in late July 2005, Macapagal-Arroyo declared that “our political system has degenerated to such an extent that it’s very difficult to live within the system with hands totally untainted.” While this statement was no doubt an effort to emphasize systemic rather than personal accountability, it had become clear to many that Philippine democracy was badly in need of reform. While the crises of 1986 and 2001 had been primarily concerned with the legitimacy of individual leaders, the “Hello, Garci” crisis highlighted the legitimacy deficit not only of an individual leader but also of an entire political system. In her speech, the president urged the country to “start the great debate on charter change” and specifically mentioned (but did not explicitly endorse) the possibility of shifting the country’s political structures from presidential to parliamentary and from unitary to federal. Although the Speaker of the House may have desired more wholehearted support for a shift to parliamentarism, de Venecia nonetheless came to Macapagal-Arroyo’s aid in September by ensuring that an impeachment attempt would not muster the necessary support of one-third of the members of the House of Representatives. This is consistent with historical patterns in Philippine politics: The power of the pork barrel enables presidents to make or break the speaker, who in turn must deliver the loyalty of the overwhelming majority of the House.

In particular, this explanation of why the President survived the crisis:

Other factors also assisted Macapagal-Arroyo in her fight for survival. First, the late 2004 death of Fernando Poe, Jr., her opponent in the elections, deprived the opposition of an obvious figure around whom it could rally. Second, strong public sentiment against the president did not translate into a repeat episode of people power. Demonstrations were called, but they failed to draw large crowds. Many at the time spoke of “people power fatigue,” but there was probably a deeper disillusionment at play. This time around, it was difficult for citizens to nurse hopes that a mere change in leadership would fix the problems of the country. Many seemed tired of being pawns in intraelite squabbles that ultimately brought little change. Third, Macapagal-Arroyo was aided by widespread concerns over the possibility that the vice-president, former newscaster Noli de Castro, might come to power. Although strong in terms of mass appeal, de Castro is not highly respected among those in the upper classes and has allegedly profited from unseemly journalistic practices.10 Finally, the president had done a masterful job of cultivating the loyalty of key generals. Despite significant discontent in the lower ranks, the top brass has up until now remained firmly in her camp.

As I’m convinced the division over the President herself runs so deep, that there’s little point in arguing the merits or demerits of Hutchcroft’s or anyone else’s, reading of the situation, in terms of the President herself, his account of what ails our electoral system lays the basis for proposals for reform:

The Philippine ballot is probably one of the most archaic in the world, as voters are required to fill in, by hand, the names of all candidates for whom they are voting. The vote tally is then compiled, also by hand. With thirty million ballots cast last May, each containing the votes for roughly 25 to 30 positions, election officials faced the gargantuan task of counting almost a billion preferences in all. This laborious process is highly susceptible to fraud: As official election tallies begin their long migration from local precincts throughout the Philippine archipelago to Manila over the course of several weeks, politicians can use a variety of tactics to supplement retail vote purchases with wholesale manipulation of the vote count. In each of the last two elections, the Commission on Elections has demonstrated itself to be fabulously incompetent (and often very corrupt) in performing its three basic tasks of preparing for elections, executing the polling process, and counting the votes. NAMFREL reported that in 2004, due to huge errors in COMELEC’s voter lists, “disenfranchisement may have run as high as two million voters.” …Finally, the long vote count provides ample opportunities for election officials to solicit payoffs not only from trailing candidates wanting to pad their votes, but also from leading candidates needing to protect their votes against the cheating of others.

For example, a case study involving Maguindanao:

After the May 2007 elections, it took almost two months before the twelfth-ranked candidate was proclaimed a victor in the Senate contest. Many of the charges and countercharges focused on Mindanao’s remote province of Maguindanao, the details of which illustrate complex interactions between the administration, COMELEC, and local powerholders. In the run-up to the elections, each region of the country was put under the supervision of a particular COMELEC commissioner. Benjamin Abalos, a political ally of the First Gentleman who had been appointed COMELEC chair in 2002, assumed initial responsibility for the polls in Mindanao and then placed key lieutenants in strategic posts. In Maguindanao, his provincial election supervisor was a wellknown protégé of Garcillano who had merited frequent mention in the “Hello, Garci” tapes and was linked to suspiciously strong pro-Arroyo results in the 2004 election. Without the effective oversight of either COMELEC or election monitors (who were barred from many localities), Macapagal-Arroyo’s political allies in Maguindanao were able to deliver a sweep to her Team Unity senatorial candidates. The key figure in securing this outcome was Governor Andal Ampatuan, who commands a substantial paramilitary force and has a reputation for using violence against his political enemies. “Whatever the president wants, he will follow,” said a family friend to Newsbreak. “12-0 is what Ma’am wants.” Ampatuan is no doubt well-rewarded by the Palace, but seemingly cuts deals for his own benefit as well. Among the Team Unity hopefuls, it is reported that “the ranking of individual candidates depended on how much they would pay up.” Rumor has it that the top senatorial slot in Maguindanao went to a northern Luzon strongman for the sum of 30 million pesos (US$636,000). Aside from money, violence is also a useful tool for gaining political power. According to police statistics, there were 148 election-related killings in 2004, more than double that of the last general elections in 1998. In 2007, there were 121 election-related killings, marginally more than the 111 persons killed in the last midterm elections, in 2001. According to political scientist Joel Rocamora, the high stakes of the political game encourage candidates to use whatever means possible to achieve victory: Elections provide the formal expression of local political contests that have historically been mainly about who controls the resources from the central government, and illegal economic activity. . . . The contest over control of these activities gives a premium to leaders with skills in manipulating illegality and the uses of violence. At the least, one can say that the national police and the Philippine armed forces are unable to safeguard the electoral process; far more disturbing is when their coercive power is deployed in favor of one candidate over another. Another armed force, the communist National People’s Army, has used its coercive capacity for a combination of entrepreneurial and political ends: extorting permit-to-campaign fees in the areas that it controls, occasionally hiring itself out for intraelite political assassinations, and intimidating rival opponents on the left.

This is not crying over spilled milk. After all, with the cheating having been chronicled, the question is, in 2010, if we have elections, which candidate will embrace Ampatuan, and who will dare go against him? And what of the citizenry, will it try to neutralize his potentially harmful effects on the national vote, or turn a blind eye?

So rhe thing that interests me most of all, are his proposals for reforms that could be pursued as people open up to a post-Arroyo scenario:

The Philippines has now had a longer stretch of life after Marcos than life under Marcos. As the post-Marcos era enters its third decade, the high hopes for democracy voiced in the mid-1980s have given way to disillusionment with the country’s low quality of governance.

What are his proposals? First, he argues that public confidence is low:

Philippine democratic institutions are not inspiring faith among the citizenry. In the month prior to the 2007 elections, 69 percent of those surveyed expected vote buying and 53 percent anticipated cheating in the vote count (substantially higher percentages than those registered prior to the 2001 and 2004 elections). In a 2006 survey, COMELEC was among the four agencies that the public rated as “very bad” in terms of “sincerity in fighting corruption.” There have long been problems at COMELEC, but the level of politicization under the Arroyo government is perceived to be particularly grave. Similar stories can be told regarding the decline of other important political institutions, including the House of Representatives (currently subordinated to the Palace even more thoroughly than usual); the judiciary (with the Supreme Court an important and encouraging exception); the Office of the Ombudsman (now headed by the president’s former chief legal counsel); and the military (recall the use of military intelligence for electoral purposes, discussed above). Many believe that the best way to address this disillusionment is to reform democratic institutions.

But if this is the case, what form should reforms take -sweeping or incremental ones? There is no consensus, but the lack of consensus might indicate how it can be achieved:

But those who advocate “political reform” have a range of ideas as to what should be changed and to what extent, as well as how to accomplish the changes. Given current levels of disillusionment, some suggest that whatever political set-up the Philippines presently has should be discarded. If the country is currently under a presidential system, it should shift to parliamentarism. If it is currently unitary, then federalism is the solution. The bigger the change, however, the greater the risk of unintended consequences, leading some to call for well-targeted incremental reforms, instituted with particular goals in mind.

So then, the specifics. First,

A central, overarching goal should be the fostering of stronger and more programmatic political parties… A good starting point would be such modest electoral reforms as preprinted ballots, a consolidated ticket for the election of presidents and vice-presidents, and an option for straight-party voting.

(Readers might recall my own proposals to reconsider bloc voting.)

He goes on to add,

Two somewhat more ambitious electoral reforms, one for the Senate and one for the House, could have much greater impact in promoting stronger parties. The first would be to scrap the current system in which senators are elected from one nationwide district; this leads to intraparty competition and forces each candidate to cut his or her own deals with local powerholders throughout the archipelago. The second change would be to abolish the current party-list system, through which 20 percent of the members of the House are selected. While most standard proportional-representation systems require parties to achieve a certain percentage of the vote in order to have seats in the legislature, the Philippine party-list system is distinguished both by a very low floor (2 percent) and by the presence of a ceiling: Incredibly, no single party is permitted to have more than three seats in the legislature. This entirely undermines the goal of aggregating interests under one party label. Following the example of Japan and South Korea, the Philippines could consider adopting a mixed system involving both single-member-district seats and some element of a more standard proportional-representation system.

(Readers will also recall my proposal to reconsider senatorial districts, too. The nationally-elected senate makes sense only when buttressed by bloc voting, which gives an incentive for candidates and the electorate, to think in term of slates; and also, once lost, the old notions that every senatorial ticket had to be geographically balanced, can’t be restored: the old rule of thumb was scrapped in 1986 both by the Marcos-Tolentino and Aquino-Laurel tandems, which swept away the North-South rule observed since 1935.)

Anyway, he goes on to say,

Another well-targeted reform, more relevant to process than to outcomes, relates to electoral administration. COMELEC should be restructured from top to bottom–from its central office in Manila to its extensive nationwide field structure–in order to develop the capacity to maintain accurate lists of voters and execute an accurate and expeditious vote count. Allegations of election fraud involving politicians and COMELEC officials need to be investigated by independent prosecutors willing and able to press charges for wrongdoing. The perfect opportunity for leadership change comes in early 2008, as COMELEC chair Benjamin Abalos steps down in the wake of bribery charges, and three additional slots on the seven-member national commission will also need to be filled.

In general, his point that more manageable, because smaller, reforms, would do more than more exotic efforts to change the system:

As a practical matter, incremental measures of political reform, rather than a wholesale shift to parliamentarism or federalism, seem to hold greater promise for success. In response to the two late-2007 bribery scandals, the Palace dusted off proposals for charter change in yet another attempt to change the topic to political reform. Such patent political opportunism has turned much of the public against the idea of constitutional revision. After his attempts were spurned in late 2006, even Speaker de Venecia now seeks a moratorium on charter change. Senators continue to oppose the abolition of their chamber, and one can presume that the five senators considering bids for the presidency in 2010 are particularly averse to the parliamentary option. Considering these factors, there is unlikely to be renewed momentum for sweeping constitutional changes until after the 2010 presidential elections.

Unless the public insists on these changes, however, they won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. The reason being that as pragmatism, and not idealism, has become the national fetish, then no one has an incentive to really reform, since pushing for reform has increasingly been proclaimed a nuisance, a waste of priorities. If job creation is the be-all and end-all of political activity, that is, that it is more important to create jobs rather than defend freedoms, and pursue change (a false distinction: there has to be a way to encourage the creation of jobs without turning people into permanently politically-uninvolved types), then no industry creates more jobs in a short time as an electoral campaign.

Since the past three years have shown that a mastery of logistics trumps all other political considerations, then we can expect that those angling to wield the levers of power currently held by the president, will want to do so, on the terms she’s mastered. Why reinvent the wheel?

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  1. marion jones will serve jail for 6 months for lying–not her use of steroids to propel her winning the race but for lying about it.

    we know of someone who lied first on the grave of the national hero about not deciding to run anymore, and when she did, she used the garci steroid to propel her lead in the race, and continue to lie about it. 6 months jail for that, too?

  2. “Philippine democratic institutions are not inspiring faith among the citizenry. In the month prior to the 2007 elections, 69 percent of those surveyed expected vote buying and 53 percent anticipated cheating in the vote count (substantially higher percentages than those registered prior to the 2001 and 2004 elections).”

    What is bizarre is that we treat the above as if it were some kind of groundbreaking insight. Even more bizarre is that surveys are actually undertaken to support such obvious truisms.

    The trick here is to understand the PROCESS by which we exercise our “power” as participants. This is what I attempt to do in my slide show “Why Filipinos Suck at Democracy”:

    http://www.getrealphilippines.com/sh01/slide01.html

    It is only when we understand it from this light that we can then begin to understand why we are stuck in this cycle of moronism.

    It all boils down to the quality of Pinoy voters.

    The vacuous nature of campaigns, the farce of “united oppositionism”, and the quality of the selected officials merely reflect the Pinoy electorate.

    Simple formula.

    Then again, we often choose to find comfort in complicated and convoluted formulas and it is the simplest formulas that are the least accepted (because their simplicity highlights the Truth a lot better).

  3. Paul Hutchcroft’s use of the word ‘abolish‘ with respect to our party-list system may be misconstrued as a recommendation to eliminate the system of proportional representation itself. However, if we consider his recommendation for us to study the electoral system of Japan and Korea for possible adoption, we will understand that his objective is to ‘strengthen‘ the system of proportional representation. I agree.

  4. there has to be a way to encourage the creation of jobs without turning people into permanently politically-uninvolved types

    I wonder if prospective foreign investors will really be more enticed to invest if we all were to become synchopants and ass-lickers (like the businessmen of the PCCI) to whoever happens to hold power.

  5. cjv, now that you mentioned the Party-list or proportional representation I recall that last Provincial election we had a referendum proposing the choice between the First-Past the Post, the current system where the party who wins the most seats wins the government, or Mixed Proportional Representation where a percentage of seats (example 49 seats out of 129) be reserved for the Party nominated Representatives in proportion to their Popular Votes. But it was soundly rejected.. Ours is not a popular vote, but the most votes and as the term implies the candidate with more votes than all others, wins…

    But the only difference is that the seats are reserved for the Parties already in existence who elections after elections cast a sizable Popular Votes but do not translate to Seats, but in the Philippines Parties are popping up for the purpose of getting seats in the Party-List reserved seats. This will give rise to proliferation of so many parties without party’s ideologies or programs and without direction…

  6. Second, strong public sentiment against the president did not translate into a repeat episode of people power. Demonstrations were called, but they failed to draw large crowds. Many at the time spoke of “people power fatigue,” but there was probably a deeper disillusionment at play.

    Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) was a major factor at the height of Hello Garci. And the last time a successful people power attempt was the Orange Revolution (2004) and the one in Lebanon (apr 2005). Since he recent attempts of people power in Belarus and Burma and other countries Eastern were total disasters. Democracy is in the decline around the world. Look at russia. look at pakistan.

  7. Paul D. Hutchcroft’s suggestion is very good, even the suggestions of MLQ3 in the past. But who is initiating to implement these much needed reforms? I dont hear any current elected officals who are moving towards these direction. We should start some acting now. Enough of the talking and over analyzing. Sabi nag doon sa yahoo group namin. Over anlysis results to paralaysis. I think we have enough of root cause analysis.

    Can any body in this group start a movement that will initiate these reforms. I will be more than willing to support any movement that will arise from this forum. Cmon you guys, matagaltagal na rin tayong naguusap-usap dito. Let start working now na!

  8. oopss… ito yung kumpleto

    Second, strong public sentiment against the president did not translate into a repeat episode of people power. Demonstrations were called, but they failed to draw large crowds. Many at the time spoke of “people power fatigue,” but there was probably a deeper disillusionment at play.

    Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) was a major factor at the height of Hello Garci. And the last time a successful people power attempt was the Orange Revolution (2004) and the one in Lebanon (apr 2005). Since he recent attempts of people power in Belarus and Burma and other countries Eastern europe were either failures or total disasters. Democracy is in the decline around the world. Look at russia. look at pakistan.

  9. The Philippine ballot is probably one of the most archaic in the world, as voters are required to fill in, by hand, the names of all candidates for whom they are voting. The vote tally is then compiled, also by hand. With thirty million ballots cast last May, each containing the votes for roughly 25 to 30 positions, election officials faced the gargantuan task of counting almost a billion preferences in all.

    make the selection of senators by region. delay the baranggay elections by a few months.

  10. Can any body in this group start a movement that will initiate these reforms. I will be more than willing to support any movement that will arise from this forum. Cmon you guys, matagaltagal na rin tayong naguusap-usap dito. Let start working now na!

    why don’t you and benigno start it and we follow your lead?

  11. We should start some acting now. Enough of the talking and over analyzing. Sabi nag doon sa yahoo group namin. Over anlysis results to paralaysis. I think we have enough of root cause analysis.

    i agree, but we need people who has credibility to lead the reforms. somebody who people can trust and respect. some of the people coming out of the woodwork doesn’t fit the bill.

  12. a consolidated ticket for the election of presidents and vice-presidents, and an option for straight-party voting.

    yeah! what he said. and runoff elections sa presidential elections.

  13. cvj,

    just because the PCCI doesnt sing the ‘patalsikin na now na’ tune, that makes it (and its membership)’ass-lickers’?

    tsk tsk tsk tsk

  14. “why don’t you and benigno start it and we follow your lead?”

    I dont mind and Im very honored!

  15. a quality voter is discerning. a voter cannot discern with an empty stomach. a voter with an empty stomach will vote an undeserving candidate who gives him/her crumbs every election time.

    the key might be voters with full stomachs so they can discern properly and not vote people like Erap and Binay

  16. the key might be voters with full stomachs so they can discern properly and not vote people like Erap and Binay – anthony scalia

    What about the 30 leading businessmen who supported Erap’s election campaign in 1998? What about the businessmen belonging to the PCCI who ass-licked Erap when he was still in power (the same bunch who is currently ass-licking Gloria). Given that they have a full stomach, how do you account for their lack of discernment?

  17. hwag niyo naman maliitin si pareng erap.

    compared to gma, halos wala naman silang pinagkaiba with regards to corruption. although maybe gma’s university degree allowed her to more intelligent at staying in power.

  18. cvj,

    “What about the 30 leading businessmen who supported Erap’s election campaign in 1998?”

    i don’t know, im not one of them. why? did their votes decide the ’98 elections? maybe they supplied the triennial crumbs that translated into votes.

    “What about the businessmen belonging to the PCCI who ass-licked Erap when he was still in power (the same bunch who is currently ass-licking Gloria).”

    what if the number of PCCI members grew to outnumber the ‘ass-lickers’? its leaders aren’t the PCCI.

    the real ass-lickers are with the Makati Business Club. Bill Luz’s sentiment isn’t shared by most of the membership, who have ties with FG. most PCCI members are SMEs. The businesses of the leaders of PCCI do not represent the kind of businesses of its membership.

    so please, spare the PCCI members of the ‘ass-licker’ tag. they don’t deserve it.

    they’re too busy creating the much-needed jobs to sing ‘patalsikin na now na’ ad nauseam

    “Given that they have a full stomach, how do you account for their lack of discernment?”

    i don’t know. im not one of them. why, did their votes decide the ’98 elections?

    well and good if at least 80% of Pinoys are as rich as the ‘ass-lickers’ from PCCI! by then, pols like Erap and Binay won’t get elected anymore as there will be less voters who can be swayed by triennial crumbs

  19. Regional representation is just a larger version of district representation. The reason why we need national representation in the legislature is so that the power and duty of legislature to enact laws, exercise the power of the purse and checks and balance will have a national, rather than a municipal, scope or point of view.

  20. i don’t know, im not one of them. why? did their votes decide the ‘98 elections? maybe they supplied the triennial crumbs that translated into votes. – Anthony Scalia

    I was told that at least some of these 30 businessmen supported Erap dahil siguradong manananalo. If these businessmen had the courage of their moral convictions (i’m assuming it’s still there), instead of their commercial interests at heart, then these politicians would have had less room to abuse their power. The problem is, once it was sure that Erap would be the winner, the businessmen went into ass-licking mode. The same habit can be observed from these people whatever the Administration.

    It was not the poor and the hungry that went and joined Erap’s midnight cabinet. Neither is it the poor and the hungry that brokered the NBN/ZTE deal (among others) under Gloria Arroyo.

    Businessmen who close their eyes to corruption and injustice under the guise of ‘moving the economy forward‘ are especially complicit. Collectively, they are the ones with the resources to make things better by holding erring politicians accountable, but they instead choose to look after their own interests. In their case, hunger is not a mitigating factor, so the judgment that will be accorded to them will be particularly harsh.

  21. “Can any body in this group start a movement that will initiate these reforms.”
    … well, there was that Doctor Bautista (though he was not from this group and he proposed to create significant changes but first he should be elected senator)
    — And then there is Panlilio (again, not from this group… and again he chose the political”elect me” route )

  22. And then there is Manny Villar… who first went the route of creating a super-large bankbook account balance (and I suppose his business enterprise did result in many jobs for Filipinos)… then he pursued the “elect me” route from where he can pursue the “impeach” route.

  23. Read again Q3’s blogentry sentence:
    —” Ferdinand Marcos … knew that the ruling class’s control of politics was fiction, and that armed with the populism and anti-elitism of the Magsaysay era, he could preside over the liquidation, socially, financially, and politically, of that class”

    — and Marcos was able to do what he was able to do because he had chosen the political “elect me” route

  24. BUT do be warned… a cvj who gets himself elected may hate himself because preaching and whining is not good enough and a cvj-in-office will will have to play politics.
    While a rich ramrod (or a rich benign0 or anthony) will feel the hate from the talangkas.

  25. UPn Student, let the politicians give excuses for their actions. It is the job of the citizenry to hold the politicians to the highest standard.

  26. Bloc voting for senators and pres-vice would be the easies to do. No need for cha-cha.

    Artivle 6
    Section 2. The Senate shall be composed of twenty-four Senators who shall be elected at large by the qualified voters of the Philippines, as may be provided by law.

    Article 7
    Section 4. The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter…….

  27. note to self: stay home and get elected!

    how to get elected:

    pander to the lowest common denominator, entertainment
    amass riches ala Jamby
    have plastic surgery to look like current famous actor
    be world famous ala Manny Pacquiao (minus the stupidity)

    note to self after 1st note: leave now and lead by example

    the Philippine nation will be built overseas, not here in our own land.

  28. mlq3, i have only one utterance about hutchcroft’s article: ho-hum.

    nothing that he has written has not been addressed repeatedly, ad nauseam, by the homegrown “anti-gloria” media, and the divided opposition and their supporters. why should there be a need for a foreign point of view to buttress or validate the local “imbroglio” spin. is it because local commentators, largely ignored by the majority of the country, are beginning to believe in their own inadequacy and non persuasiveness? or is it lack of confidence in anything local.

  29. MLQ3:

    “… the article tries to look at what’s happened since 2005.”

    If this were the benchmark of Hutchcroft’s analysis, his suffers from being incomplete – ending up with “omega” but terribly missing out “alpha”. The Arroyo imbroglio, using his term, begins in 2001 right after Arroyo assumed power. It was not crystal clear if such event was constitutional, legitimate “people power” or just another “power grab?” (I still have to read the article before commenting.)

    For the latter query, allow me to post this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh9bECSgfqk

  30. “It was not crystal clear if such event was unconstitutional, legitimate ‘people power’ or just another ‘power grab’. hawaiianguy.

    the supreme court of the philippines, the final arbiter, has spoken. why can’t you just let it be, as al gore and the democrats (including me) did after the u.s. supreme court rendered its verdict on the florida vote count? the big problem with us is that we cannot outgrow our childishness.
    nothing gets resolved. no one is defeated. every loser is cheated.

  31. additional note for DevilsAdvc8:

    Leave now and don’t look back. Let your kids rebuild the Philippines for you.

  32. Bencard: “the big problem with us is that we cannot outgrow our childishness.” Maybe the bigger problem is, we think, or assume, that we have the MONOPOLY of reality, or that other views are INFERIOR because they run contrary to ours.

    “the supreme court of the philippines, the final arbiter, has spoken. why can’t you just let it be, as al gore and the democrats (including me) did.” Sorry to say, I won’t prevent you from moving on yourself, but to tell me to go with you? Nunca! (I have no question on Al Gore, or USA SC, but on Gloria, plenty.)

    You and your likes put so much premium on legal authority. But isn’t that authority also determined, for the most part, by numbers? (I was told they also vote on a case.) Why, is the SC (particularly RP’s) infallible? Can’t they make humanly mistakes?

    You regard the imbroglio thing as ho-hum? or reflective of anti-gloria media? So, things were ok (no imbroglio) when many of these anti-gloria media were once pro-Gloria and anti-Erap, huh?

  33. Hay naku cvj, you and your naive tirades…

    “If these businessmen had the courage of their moral convictions (i’m assuming it’s still there), instead of their commercial interests at heart, then these politicians would have had less room to abuse their power.”

    If I recall right, that’s why they are called “businessmen”. If I were a business owner, I’d expect my CEO to do what it takes to secure my assets and assure their continued income generation. If that involves schmoozing with the ‘right’ politicians, so be it.

    Pinning responsibility on businessmen for Erap’s ascent to power is the height of hollow-headed populist b.s. As you say here:

    “It was not the poor and the hungry that went and joined Erap’s midnight cabinet. Neither is it the poor and the hungry that brokered the NBN/ZTE deal (among others) under Gloria Arroyo.”

    You conveniently left out the fact that Pinoys voted for Erap at the end of the day. Nothing really ambiguous about the nature of the accountability there. If they had voted for someone else, then these “businessmen” would have schmoozed with THAT someone else. If in fact these businessmen even got the slightest whiff of where the masses are inclined to vote, THAT is where they will be directing their schmoozing operations.

    As always, simple formulas.

    I do tend to observe that Pinoys find more comfort in convoluted explanations, analyses, and speculations (which is why our society is infested by lawyers). When an issue is made out to be convoluted and complicated, lack of action can be excused.

    Simple formulas and analyses, on the other hand, are shunned because they highlight fundamental TRUTHS more efficiently and glaringly. Pinoys, being a generally non-confrontational flock of sheep simply can’t take being confronted squarely in the face by The Truth.

  34. “Unless the public insists on these changes, however, they won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.”

    We might take the cue from the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Emergent Leadership, Arvind Kejriwal, his role in activating India’s right-to-information movement at the grassroots, empowering New Delhi’s poorest citizens to fight corruption by holding government accountable to the people. Kejriwal reminds Indians that the boons of collective action, such as the honest delivery of services, have already been paid for through taxes. Citizens are entitled to them. The spirit of his movement was aptly captured by the women of Sundernagari as they rallied to protest cheating in neighborhood ration shops: “We are not begging from anyone!” they chanted. “We are demanding our rights.”

  35. Willy: The US government (not Bush the President but the bureaucracy called the US government) is putting money into strengthening the information systems of the Philippine government for “…more sunshine/so that the Filipino media and general population know” when government contracts are announced, competed for, when winners are announced and when funds are expended.
    Now surely in regards re-organizing COMELEC, Filipinos are NOT looking to the United Nations or the Vatican for leadership on the issue. cvj is right when he says “…it is the job of the citizenry to hold the politicians to the highest standard.” To me, this means that the citizenry should be in front of the issues, e.g. goading and pushing the politicians towards getting COMELEC to institute reforms and less of after-the-fact whining. “You can pay me now…. or you can pay me later”… but there is no free lunch.
    Again, Beningn0’s US-of-A (the NGO’s this time) demonstrate how this is done. The Vatican (and the Jerry Falwell’s and Pat Robertsons) are constantly busy schmoozing and cajoling our elected politicians so that DIVORCE does not become law of the land.

  36. cvj,

    I was told that at least some of these 30 businessmen supported Erap dahil siguradong manananalo. If these businessmen had the courage of their moral convictions (i’m assuming it’s still there), instead of their commercial interests at heart, then these politicians would have had less room to abuse their power. The problem is, once it was sure that Erap would be the winner, the businessmen went into ass-licking mode. The same habit can be observed from these people whatever the Administration – cvj

    supports my view that these businessmen supplied the crumbs given to voters that made them choose whom to vote

    a discerning voter may still accept the crumbs, dahil grasya yan, but he will vote according to his conscience. a famous anti-Marcos slogan suring the ’86 snap election was ‘kunin ang pera sundin ang kunsensya’

    It was not the poor and the hungry that went and joined Erap’s midnight cabinet. Neither is it the poor and the hungry that brokered the NBN/ZTE deal (among others) under Gloria Arroyo

    yes, but who elected them? (please no more of that fake illegitimate ek-ek, at least for now)

    Businessmen who close their eyes to corruption and injustice under the guise of ‘moving the economy forward‘ are especially complicit. Collectively, they are the ones with the resources to make things better by holding erring politicians accountable, but they instead choose to look after their own interests. In their case, hunger is not a mitigating factor, so the judgment that will be accorded to them will be particularly harsh

    what do you want these businessmen to do? finance another people power?

  37. cvj,

    ‘suring’ should be ‘during’

    the last statement shouldn’t be in block quotes

  38. …so that Divorce does not become law of the land, and so that United-Nations-recommended guidelines for sex education does NOT get included in Philippine school curriculum.

  39. “what do you want these businessmen to do? finance another people power?”

    Hey THAT should be fun…

    Nothing like another SexBomb dance number on Ayala Avenue to spice things up for 2008. 😀

  40. …so that Divorce does not become law of the land, and so that United-Nations-recommended guidelines for sex education does NOT get included in Philippine school curriculum. – UPn

    On this issue, not surprising. The bishops on one side and UN/U.S on the other. Compulsory sex education is within the contentious issue of population control.

    Ok, lets see how the benign0’s U.S. of A gets it done.

    A U.S. executive-level government document entitled National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of worldwide population growth for U.S. security and overseas interest (NSSM 200) was published in 1974 and declassified in 1989. NSSM200 basically says the rapid growth of the developing countries’ population is against the interests of the U.S. This document explicitly laid out a detailed strategy by which the United States would aggressively promote population control in developing nations in order to regulate (or have better access to) the natural resources of these countries. The U.S. has never renounced this document. UNICEF is behind the population control agenda.

    In 1995, the Catholic Women’s League of the Philippines won a court order to halt a UNICEF tetanus vaccination program because the vaccine contained B-hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) hormone. It was found that 20% of the tetanus vaccines contained this hormone. This was basically a sterilization experiment. This B-hCG laced tetanus vaccine was also given to native Americans and black women in the United States.

  41. If I recall right, that’s why they are called “businessmen”. If I were a business owner, I’d expect my CEO to do what it takes to secure my assets and assure their continued income generation. If that involves schmoozing with the ‘right’ politicians, so be it. – Benign0

    Condoning that practice leads to the spread of cronyism which is not good for the workings of our economic, social and political system. It doesn’t take a visionary to see that.

    yes, but who elected them? (please no more of that fake illegitimate ek-ek, at least for now) – Anthony Scalia

    In the case of Erap, you can argue that it was the poor and hungry voters who elected him. In the case of Gloria, the same argument cannot be made since we have the issue of Hello Garci. I know it’s inconvenient for your worldview but that’s how things are.

  42. Ok, lets see how the benign0’s U.S. of A gets it done. – Willy

    Benign0 is based in Australia but sterilization is in line with his ‘Get Real Philippines’ program. One of the recommendations of Manuel Gallego III which was previously posted in Benign0’s ‘Get Real Philippines’ website calls for the “Compulsory sterilization and elimination of voting rights of parents of street children.

  43. “In the case of Erap, you can argue that it was the poor and hungry voters who elected him. In the case of Gloria, the same argument cannot be made since we have the issue of Hello Garci.”

    Then again if the truth had prevailed and the right person was appointed president at the time, FPJ would have been president.

    And even then, the fact that Gloria came up a close number two to FPJ (assuming of course her ALLEGED cheating actually transpired), that still highlights the reality that a sizeable number of Pinoys voted for her.

    My point is, whatever way you look at it, Pinoys still look like a bunch of morons in this whole thing.

    Tough luck is the operative phrase here I guess. 😀

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