Thank you, bishops

Yesterday Senators Enrile and Arroyo tag-teamed to try to shut down the Senate hearings and one can assume they did so, to prevent the emergence of new witnesses. They failed. And so, New witness tags Arroyo couple in NBN mess. See also ZTE advanced $41M to ‘greedy group’–witness: ‘Chinese, Filipino groups to half $200M overprice’ ‘The worms just keep wriggling out of the can. See Ellen Tordesillas for additional background. I do think this is an extremely valid point: New witness in NBN probe ‘too relaxed,’ says Pangilinan: He might be a ‘Trojan Horse’.

One can assume that it is the public pressure of the hearings that leads to the leaking of documents, such as ‘Copy for FG’ is marginal note on NBN document. It’s well to remember that those grousing over the “lack” of evidence deliberately overlook how the Palace clamped down on producing documents, for obvious reasons.

As Manuel Buencamino does, so will people continue doing: asking questions to which the official answers don’t make sense.

Last night, after an emergency meeting, the Catholic hierarchy released a pastoral exhortation, ‘Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity’ with six main recommendations:

1. Condemn the continuing culture of corruption from the top to the bottom of our social and political ladder;

2. Urge the President and all the branches of government to take the lead in combating corruption wherever it is found;

3. Recommend the abolition of EO 464 so that those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government, may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies;

4. Ask the President to allow her subordinates to reveal any corrupt acts, particularly about the ZTE-NBN deal, without being obstructed in their testimony no matter who is involved;

5. Appeal to our senators and the ombudsman to use their distinct and different powers of inquiry into alleged corruption cases not for their own interests but for the common good;

6. Call on media to be a positive resource of seeking the truth and combating corruption by objective reporting without bias and partiality, selective and tendentious reporting of facts.

It’s enough to make AlterNation101 happy because it rebukes the media (does that include government media?). While bloggers like Spank Me! and at wit’s end are furious, and Palace hails CBCP for ‘not succumbing to propaganda’ others, like Bobbie Reyes say the demand to revoke Executive Order 464 is “an extremely powerful statement.” barefoot calls it a wise tactical move. I have to heartily agree with Lunasandwich who points out,

While for sure the defenders of greed and corruption will be quick to use the bishop’s statement as leverage, people should still resist the urge to label the bishops as in cohorts with the enemy. People who believe that GMA must go should not be disheartened. Maybe this time there would be much more meaning when it is the people who convince the Church’s leadership when it is time for evil leaders to go than vice-versa.

People seem to be coming to a decision on their own, anyway.

In his blog, Mon Casiple seems to agree, too:

However, there is a tilt in the balance as it categorically called for the abolition of EO 464 so that “those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies.” The CBCP asked President Arroyo to allow her subordinates to reveal any corrupt acts, particularly on the $329.48-million ZTE NBN deal without being obstructed in their testimony, “no matter who is involved.”

The thematic unity of the CBCP revolved around the search for truth — a formula that basically puts the onus for finding it on the broad opposition. In including President Macapagal-Arroyo as participant in the search for truth, the CBCP basically satisfied the bishops friendly to her. At the same time, it also opened the door for more testimony thereby satisfying those bishops who already made up their mind on the guilt of the President.

The CBCP put itself as the cart after the horse and sidestepped its possible moral leadership on the matter of addressing the key action of calling for GMA resignation. This sends the message that it will only act decisively when the people themselves — on their own — acted decisively towards this end.

There are other nuances to Casiple’s analysis, but on the open-ended demand being significant, I also agree (note: demand, not an ultimatum because, well, essentially the bishops give the President until Kingdom Come to comply: hence the Palace’s breezy “this deserves very serious consideration,” and Scrapping EO 464 requires ‘careful study’–DoJ chief, which is officialese for “wham bang thank you, bishops”) . See Jove Francisco for the Palace’s activities: none of them involving anything the bishops suggested.

It satisfies the Jesuit conditions that things should not escalate until all the i’s have been dotted and all the t’s are crossed. By all means, do so. I am confident this proposal will go the way of that other Jesuit brainchild, the Truth Commission that bamboozled the Solita Monsods of this world into giving the President a free pass in 2005. So they’ve done it again, may their tribe increase. I’ve mentioned before that we have to consider that the real fight may only begin in 2010 when the President’s collaborators run out of rationalizations.

As Tony Abaya puts it,

Edsa 1 can be said to have taken two years and six months — Aug. 21, 1983 to Feb. 25, 1986 — to reach flashpoint of sufficient heat and energy to force Marcos and his family out of Malacanang.

If the putative Edsa 3 (or 4) were to be superimposed on this timeline, and the trigger were the revelations of Jun Lozada on Feb. 5, 2008, flashpoint would not be reached until about August 2010…

By August 2010, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would be on her first months as prime minister or as president on a third term, the Constitution having been amended in 2009 to enable her to remain in power legally and constitutionally beyond June 30, 2010, by the Kampi-Lakas dominated Congress, as is the ill-disguised aim of the ChaCha Road Show inaugurated last Feb. 12 by Albay Gov. Joey “Bitch” Salceda.

Using EO 464 as one more bridge to cross, is fine with me for that reason.

Can the President dispense with Executive Order 464? Only if:

1. She replaces it with another executive issuance that has the same effect as EO 464, or;

2. She puts the squeeze on executive officials to lie, and destroys documents that everyone knows exists.

Method 1 is what Marcos adopted with his infamous Amendment 6 to the Constitution which rendered meaningless his lifting of martial law in 1981. I’m sure some legal sleuthing in the Administrative Code and other places might dig up useful pretexts to block Senate subpoenas.

But method 2 is the easier thing to do, However, in the long run, the least effective because too much has already been said and too many trails lead straight back to her.

Easiest of all, of course, is not to budge on E.O. 464 and keep applying it, saying there are pending cases in the Supreme Court, that it requires proper study, that a special committee has been appointed to look into it and that in the fullness of time it will issue non-binding recommendations for further discussion…

Or, the President could revoke it and throw caution to the winds in which case the bishops could honestly claim paternity for a full-blown miracle.

But what has been happening is that the Catholic bishops and the moderate critics of the President as well as the collaborators, have all come to focus on E.O. 464 as the first line of the President’s defense.

And a means for piercing that defense is actively proposed by today’s Inquirer editorial, Strike for the truth: a nationwide stay-home strike (the editorial responded to this particular about-face by the Palace: Arroyo on ‘flawed’ NBN deal ‘lost in translation’–Palace). No one can say a strike is incompatible with democracy, the Constitution or the so-called government “rule of law.”

Proposing a day to stay home instead of going into the streets should be vigorously discussed (see Amando Doronila’s Arroyo’s work ethic and the Mafia for some particulars on how businessmen are tackling the question of economic costs); to ignore the proposal merely limits the already narrowing options available to the public.

Returning to the CBCP Statement, bear in mind it’s the product of a collegial body and that the immediate objective of the leading bishops was to forge a united stand. The pastoral exhortation was at least, approved unanimously. No one can complain. It may also represent the last service Archbishops Capalla and Talamayan, the President’s point men within the hierarchy, can provide the President.

So, sorry to disappoint Philippine Commentary, but I’m happy with the statement. It can only help tighten the noose and it can only further clarify the battle lines.

In the blogosphere, smoke takes a nihilist look at ongoing events, an antidote, I suppose, to the passion of Etcetera, Etcetera (heartily applauded by Manila Bay Watch). love hurts… but sometimes it’s a good hurt… and it feels like i’m alive… has some photos: see B[email protected] for Cory Aquino’s speech. Philippine Politics 04 responds to a mother’s concerns over rallies.

As always, Mabini’s prayer continues to resound down the ages:

To sum it up, the Revolution failed because it was badly led; because its leader won his post by reprehensible rather than meritorious acts; because instead of supporting the men most useful to the people, he made them useless out of jealousy. Identifying the aggrandizement of the people with his own, he judged the worth of men not by their ability, character and patriotism but rather by their degree of friendship and kinship with him; and anxious to secure the readiness of his favorites to sacrifice themselves for him, he was tolerant even of their transgressions. Because he thus neglected the people forsook him; and forsaken by the people, he was bound to fall like a waxen idol melting in the heat of adversity. God grant we do not forget such a terrible lesson, learnt at the cost of untold suffering.

This is a cool bit o’ video: How cops come up with crowd estimates.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

267 thoughts on “Thank you, bishops

  1. @tambay

    oo naman, whoever called that election official during the count asking for votes to be padded..

    dapat ZERO tolerance. and high standards should be required of all government officials (elected, appointed…etc..)

  2. @UP n,

    I’m sorry but I don’t wiki for autobiographies (Point of view, articles not vetted….). In fact one of my past times is vandalising those wiki autobiographies…

    Maybe incorruptible nga talaga si Diosdado….besides he is dead already..

  3. As long as there is no alternative in sight, GMA will cling to power up to 2010.

    What’s happening now may be perceived as political posturing considering the people “making noise” about it seems taking advanteage of media mileage to prepare themselves for the next presidential election.

    Luma na ang ganitong style.

    Our beloved country needs instability. We dont need another EDSA 3 to put back a convicted leader or bring to power the same personalities we deposed on EDSA 1. Dapat natutuo narin tayo sa EDSA 2.

    There’s no one to blame here.

    Sarili na natin ang kalaban this time.

  4. “I hope this clarifies why I am at this point listening and observing what is going on. It doesn’t mean I don’t agree with you. It just means I want to be fair. Just because you feel they’re not fair doesn’t mean we have stoop to their level.–Tambay

    guys, don’t press Tambay too much, just like the cbcp, he’s waiting for the bandwagon to come.

  5. mindanaon: “The “pera-pera politics” that originated from Malacanang seems to be working. accusations, innuendos, that’s not enough.”

    You must have missed the train, my friend. Many of the bishops themselves admitted receiving “cash gifts or reimbursements” during that July 2007 meeting in Malacanan prior to the impeachment attempt. For your info as a Mindanaoan, at least two bishops returned the money: Bishop Tony Ledesma (Cagayan de Oro) and Bishop Jose Manguiran (Dipolog). But many didn’t.

    “A leading Bishop, Jose Manguiran of Dipolog diocese said, he was given two cash filled envelopes on the eve of the crucial meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which was to discuss the pending impeachment of the President.

    “They were trying to bribe the bishops …it was shameless”. He returned the money with a covering letter. Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, CBCP vice-president was also given an envelope with cash but he told a reporter that he refused it. – Bishop Manguiran

  6. hawaiianguy: i missed the train because your clippings date back to 2006! now, to say that many bishops accepted the cash gifts does not necessarily follow that the CBCP has been bought. if that’s the only conclusion you can make, i can grant you that. for my part i give them the benefit of the doubt.
    btw, why do you seem to pick on my being mindanaoan?

  7. mindanaoan, never did I say or insist that the CBCP has been bought. Divided, yes, because of that pera-pera politics. Nobody can deny that. If you think that it never happened, you are entitled to your opinion.

    No, I didn’t pick on you or single you out. I have sparred with some people here, not just you. I thought that you, being a Mindanaoan, could bring up something worthwhile in this blog re Mindanao.

  8. hawaiian, so who do you think among the bishops were influenced by the cash gift? the bishops that i know seem to be of unquestionable integrity; it’s unreasonable to impute corruptibity to bishops i dont know. so that leaves me to grant that their actions, and that of CBCP as a whole, are the result of their discernment, and not of pera-pera politics.
    For your info as a Mindanaoan why do you need to put as a mindanaoan in there?

  9. mindanaoan,

    I would rather let the bishops say something on that. Like you, I also vouch for those bishops that I know are of unquestionable integrity (Bishop Tony Ledesma, Bishop Hilario Gomez, and Bishop Jose Manguiran.) How about you, can you name them?

    If you live in Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga or anywhere close by, why don’t you try asking the devout and church leaders who are those bishops that have become beneficiaries of “donations” from Malacanan for their diocese?

    Re your ” as a Mindanaoan,” I assume that you are from the region, and that you are knowledgeable about it. (“what can you see in hawaii that i can’t see in mindanao?”)

  10. magdiwang, why would I change my statement? the controversial provisions of eo 464 has been declared unconstitutional by the SC. that executive order has been practically rendered toothless by the SC. but just the same the executive branch does not respect the said ruling and continue to ignore the senate.

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