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A Yacky story
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on March 12, 2008 111 Comments 20 min read
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So there was a marathon hearing, at the Senate, see Inquirer.net’s Running Account. Also, see Who is Leo San Miguel?

A reader of this blog “phil,” observed (comment #221, yesterday’s entry),

If anybody was watching before the beginning of the Senate hearings with San Miguel, he got a call before the hearing started and if you pay attention there was a look of worry (fear?) in his eyes. I think there may not be a smoking gun but all the evidence put together should be enough to file a case against the personalities involved.

The scene noticed by the reader turns out to be a Yacky Story. That’s the nickname of Marcelino Agana IV, who supposedly works for the Presidential Legislative Liason Office (but has been mentioned, too, as staff from the Office for the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, e.g. Manuel Gaite). One only wishes we still had an official government directory to sort out such things, as in the old days. But anyway, Yacky Agana, who was active in the administration campaign and who is mentioned in Bohol as a candidate for the House in 2010,

Nothing beats Abante Tonight’s lurid storytelling style:

Nauna rito, nabistong nakipag-usap si San Miguel sa isang alagad ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ilang oras bago ang takdang pagharap nito sa Senado.

Sa pagtatanong ni Sen. Jamby Madrigal, napilitan si San Miguel na ituro si Yacky Agana, consultant sa Legislative Liaison Office na nasa pagtitimon ni Presidential legislative adviser Jay Lagonera.

Bago ikinanta ang pakikipag-usap kay Agana, paulit-ulit ang pagtatanong ni Sen. Loren Legarda kay San Miguel kung sino ang huli nitong nakausap bago humarap sa hearing at wala itong maibigay na kasagutan, maliban kay Sen. Panfilo Lacson na ka-meeting nito noong Lunes ng gabi.

Bagama’t walang direktang pagtukoy si Madrigal na posibleng ‘nirendahan’ ng Malacañang, sa pamamagitan ni Agana, agad itinanggi ni San Miguel ang pinupunto ng lady solon.

It’s Jake Lagonera, actually. Anyway, Panfilo Lacson went to town with that telling detail: NBN witness talked to ‘Ma’am’ on the phone, says Lacson. And equally expectedly, the Palace issued a rebuttal (of sorts): Palace: Arroyo ‘relieved’ by San Miguel testimony. He said, she said, did Yacky dunnit?

Observers like The Mount Balatucan Monitor were furious, and insist that it’s just a temporary setback, while others like A Simple Life were delighted by how impotent Panfilo Lacson proved in the face of San Miguel’s assertions. The thing is, there’s been enough talk -and paranoia- of a witness ending up as a Palace Trojan Horse, to suggest that Lacson fell into a trap he ought to have known was waiting to be sprung.

As Splice and Dice puts it (I assume Ben Tumbling in his entry is administration stalwart Sen. Lito Lapid),

The untamed Trojan Horse came to be Leo San Miguel…

Leo San Miguel’s statements during the Senate hearing are incredible for two things. First, as a seasoned IT expert and businessman, it is incredible of him to labor for ZTE as a technical consultant without contracts or official documents. Out of his overwhelming trust for the Chinese corporation, San Miguel braved undocumented waters for a promising harvest to the tune of $1.64M. What can one say? Some people are becoming more and more incredibly trusting these days, they now come in packages, or gangs, or greedy groups, or “jajos” for “borjers”.

And second, it is incredible in the sense that, while denying knowledge on the alleged “tongpats”, Leo San Miguel nevertheless testified that ZTE officials met Benjamin Abalos a couple of times, both in China and in Wakwak. Which badges Abalos as a blatant liar during his appearance at the Senate hearing.

I for one wouldn’t buy the argument that Abalos troubled himself to travel all the way to China not to discuss the NBN deal with the ZTE officials but to play golf…

What I do remember from Ben Tumbling, who also happens to be the chairman of the Senate Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports, are his words of wisdom that, for all its brilliance, should help us understand the core of the ZTE-NBN anomaly:

“There what it takes to be. Then we shall so be it because it is. To do or not to is in the what, now or what else. Without which there never to you!”

Well said, Ben Tumbling, well said. Must we add, “and world peace”?

Lawyers weighed in too, of course (see Notes of Marichu C. Lambino). As The Warrior Lawyer observed,

To be sure, Mr. San Miguel, looking relaxed and composed, made damaging declarations as regards himself. He admitted being a “technical consultant” to the ZTE Corporation and having received substantial sums without documentation. He also confessed to expecting substantial “commissions” should the national broadband network deal push through. At the very least, he opens himself up to charges to tax evasion. But there was nothing in his statements to directly link Malacanang and GMA to the corrupt undertaking, which was what everyone was expecting to hear.

So then, not all was lost yesterday, as The PCIJ reports, Leo San Miguel provided insights into The language and manner of doing (shady) business. Beyond that, the best he could offer up was a denial of allegations made by the other witnesses, although some of his allegations began to unravel, such as his denying he sent an e-mail on overpricing, with its incriminating attachment, claiming afterwards, when Dante Madriaga showed reporters it was still in his Yahoo inbox, that the attachment had been tampered with (those in the know, technology-wise, can explain whether this is possible or not). More on how these deals work is in How gov’t projects (like NBN and Cyber Ed) get overpricedn How gov’t projects (like NBN and Cyber Ed) get overpriced.

San Miguel also could not -because he would not, on grounds his knowledge was purely “technical”- go into why people like Benjamin Abalos were in meetings he attended, both at home and abroad. This clever dodge allows him to feign ignorance over the reasons behind expanding costs for the project as it evolved.

Thads Bentulan, who’s achieved modest fame as a columnist (“Street Strategist”) for Business World with his “Hyperwage Theory,” apparently combed through the testimony of Dante Madriaga and came up with a PowerPoint presentation on how the commissions kept bloating the NBN-ZTE Deal (download Derivation_of_the_329_Million.pps). As with all presentations, caveat emptor but makes for an interesting look-see. Together with ‘Tongpats’ e-mail of Leo San Miguel to Dante Madriaga, submitted to the Senate, 11 March 2008.

The problem with marathon hearings is that at the end of them, when something needs to be done, no one may be around to do it. By the time some senators believed witness Leo San Miguel should be cited in contempt for perjury, the Senate lacked a quorum to authorize a citation. But then the Senate’s problems started quite early on: having submitted no affidavit under oath, there was no means to challenge the witness on the basis of his testimony before the assembled committees. At best, his testimony stood alone in contrast to the testimony of other witnesses. And whatever holes there were in San Miguel’s testimony, the long duration of the hearing meant that the holes weren’t focused on enough -or zeroed in on, too late.

Certainly, there was great cause for celebration i in Mandaluyong and in the Palace, Italian Right Wing-style, last night!

Incidentally, A Simple Life believes, with some reason, that unless things change, the NBN-ZTE issue is headed for a draw or stalemate. Those who play chess can judge whether the analogy used by the blogger is apt or not. New Philippine Revolution on the other hand things there’s a chance that it call all be the calm before the storm (or not).

John Nery’s column the other day, How Jun Lozada may lose his groove, continues a debate that’s been taking place among those trying to situate present-day events according to the framework of past event’s:

It does not seem to me that it is the middle of February 1986 or the second week of January 2001 all over again.

The more I think about it, the more it strikes me: We are back in 1984 or 1985, when the outrage over the assassination of Ninoy Aquino had put the Marcos regime on the defensive–but people power was not even a dream.

To be sure, there are two crucial differences between then and now. The economy was in dire straits then; and Marcos moved around in a pharmacological fog, his instincts that of a dead man.

But the similarity is all-important: Then, as now, it is the opposition’s state of preparedness that will determine the outcome.

Or, as the Inquirer editorial put it the other day, will it be more along the lines of whether or not the President continues to be Lucky? As the editorial rather ruefully points out,

From the start of Ms Arroyo’s presidency in 2001, the parade of charges has been endless:

The Impsa deal where high-ranking officials, including then Justice Secretary Hernando Perez, allegedly got $14 million in kickbacks; the P260-million Jose Pidal bank accounts; the P728-million fertilizer scam; the P2.5-billion poll computerization contract which was voided by the Supreme Court but for which no Comelec official has been prosecuted or penalized; the NorthRail and SouthRail projects entailing millions of dollars in kickbacks; and now, the $329-million NBN-ZTE deal where $130 million was reportedly earmarked in kickbacks for a group of officials and private persons. In any other country, a combination of corrupt deals like these would be enough to bring down a government. Here, we have protests and demonstrations, but so far that is all. Ms Arroyo must be one lucky President!

Meanwhile, the division of the national house continues, even in places like Facebook: see I WILL WAIT TILL 2010! and TIGIL NA: filipinos won’t be taken for a ride…

For my part, A Simple Life’s response to my using the term “loyalist” has made me consider whether I was being intemperate or injudicious in using that term to apply to people who remain unconvinced about the issues raised against the President. I was being unfair and I apologize.

As with all things, those who profess not to be outright loyalists should be given the benefit of the doubt. Which is not to say, as I often have, that there are those professing neutrality who have the net effect of partisanship, but every person has the right to insist on the freedom to label themselves without outside assistance.

As for today’s readings, Neri’s column on Lozada brings us to our first reading, a message from Jun Lozada which he has requested to be reproduced in this blog (unedited):

Dear Sr. Mary John,

I wish to thank all the participants for their prayers and support.

I am a witness and a victim of this Gov’t attempts to stop the truth about corruption from reaching the people. They first tried to silence me forever last Feb. 5 and when they failed to kill me physically they are now trying to kill my name to stop the truth from being told.

The gov’t is again doing what they have done on previous scandals and anomalies, bury it! bury it with more lies!

Until now they have not allowed the members of the PNP and PSG who took me from the airport last Feb.5 to come out and testify to answer the following questions:

1. Who ordered them to abduct me from the airport last feb 5?

2. If I was truly a VIP, why were they not identifying themselves when I was asking them who they were?

3. Why did they bring me to SLEX towards Cavite, then to Laguna when I was telling them to bring me home to Pasig?

4. Why was Gen. Razon, lying to the public that I and my sister has written a request for security when we did not? why did he change his story three times?

5. why did Usec. Gaite gave me P500,000 pesos and the palace to have three diff. stories to explain.

6. Why did Usec Gaite gave me a lawyer without my consent who wanted me to sign a false affidavit?

These are the questions the gov’t do not want to be answered because it will lead straight to the people who doesn’t want the truth about the NBN ZTE deal be known by the people, these are the people who wants to keep the Filipinos in the Dark because it there that they reign, it is there that they can continue to steal from the people their money and rob from the people including their hopes for themselves and their children’s children.

I ask all of you, to please not allow this gov’t to bury this abduction case with more lies and to let them get away with it once more. Because you will also let the truth about the NBN ZTE deal get away again, similar to how the truths about Hello garci, Joc Joc Bolante, Macapagal Highway, Marilyn Esperat, Northrail and a lot more have gotten away from you.

Thank you for giving me your time and attention.

Jun Lozada

Second, and related to the above, an article by Raul Fabella which came out in Business World on March 10:

The Constitutional Comfort for Impunity

By Raul V. Fabella

School of Economics, University of the Philippines

A constitution is nothing if not a bulwark against abuse of power by the duly constituted authority. The grandmother of all written constitutions, the Magna Charta, was a list of 63 proscriptions on the previously absolute powers of the monarchy. King John was forced by a concert of English barons armed to the teeth to sign and issue the proclamation at Runnymede in 1215 in return for their cessation of belligerence. Among the provisions imposed upon the king were the right of freemen to be judged by their own peers, the power to tax being vested on the council of the kingdom and the council of the kingdom to include barons, clergymen and burghers. Accountability was ensured by the willingness of the barons to bear arms in its defense. This made England less a regal than a legal state, one where the power of the purse and the power of adjudication are alienated from executive power. John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu were anticipated by centuries.

The Magna Charta supplanted the long-standing but largely unwritten constitution embodied in tradition and founded on “the divine right of kings.” This political ecology, pyloned on accepted mores and theology, included the accident of birth as the source of royal legitimacy flowing from the Godhead who then serves as the ultimate guarantor of fidelity and accountability. King John however discovered to his glee that he could breach with increasing impunity the traditional boundaries of acceptable monarchical malfeasance. The heavens did not open up and the lightning did not strike after each foray into the uncharted territory of roguery. Instead, every breach unpunished served as a convenient stepping-stonetowards deeper excursions. The concert of barons finding neither solace nor reprieve from God’s wrath as it were, decided that accountability must be spelled out in the only language King John and his similarly disposed progeny would understand: armed popular resistance. Their final and only fallback was themselves! Confronted with this resolve, King John ended up, rather than deposed, defanged.

Although the constitutional project witnessed a colorful career of reversal and rebirth throughout subsequent English history, the Magna Charta’s twin fundamental principle of “consent of the governed” and of “ultimate accountability by armed resistance” always served as a compass that kept the march on course. Charles I, repeatedly testing the second of the twin principle, reawakened the spectre of Runnymede and lost his head to the executioner’s ax in 1648.

A constitution is only as valuable as the protection from abuse of authority that it accords the citizens. Such protection is the raisson d’etre of the various avenues of accountability that it provides. Plug such avenues and the constitution is dead. Worse, its carrion may serve as poison to the polity. The 1987 Constitution provided for accountability through the checks and balance inherent in the Lockean separation of powers among three co-equal and independent branches of government. The legitimacy of the Executive’s prerogative to enforce duly legislated laws derives from the consent of the governed expressed via the ballot. So does the legitimacy ofeach member of the Legislative upon which is vested the power to enact laws. The independence of the Legislative draws from the legitimacy of its members and from its vested power of the purse. It is the ballot that makes political power contestable and ultimately accountable.

Short of the ballot, the Executive can be made to account for its actions by the Legislative through is constitutional power to impeach; so can the Executive and the Legislative be thwarted by the Judiciary’s power to decide on the legality or constitutionality of executive actions or legislative enactments once challenged in its courts. The independence of the Judiciary derives from the integrity of the men and women appointed by the Executive to the bench. Any breach in the system will ultimately be punished by the ballot. Constitutional democracy’s allure is its simplicity and its affirmation of the citizen which explains the vehemence with which extra-constitutional remedies are condemned by well-meaning folks who style themselves defenders of the rule of law.

Well and good on paper. In reality, the law of unintended consequences can kick in rendering the allure messed up and a victim of the clever machinations of ambitious men and women. One obvious soft underbelly of this simplicity: the ballot can be stolen! (Wasn’t the “Garci tapes” controversy all about stolen ballots?).

Consider the following hypothetical scenario: Suppose the ballot was stolen and the perpetrator is the chief law enforcer of the land, the Executive. It is a priori unconstitutional and must be removed. By whom? The Legislative? The Executive’s hold on power can be maintained if the Legislative is neutered. The independence of the Legislative hinges on an effective number willing to buck the Executive thus foregoing the largesse of the envelope or paperbag and risking the electoral discomfort of the pork barrel’s non-release. The blandishments of cash and the power it buys can be too much to resist for most. Instead of the constitutional power of the purse which is its constitutional prerogative, the Legislative will in exchange for cash exercise the power of the begging bowl. As a body, it can insist on its independence only by boisterous supineness. Accountability by impeachment can be rendered dead in the water. But it would be perfectly constitutional.

The Executive can also erode the independence of the Judiciary through friendly appointments or impair its effectiveness by “kidnapping,” “securing,” “neutering,” “demolishing” or “salvaging” evidence and those who know too much. Both together would accord even better guarantees. Evidence-based judgment, the hallmark of an upright Judiciary, cannot prosper without hard evidence. No evidence means innocence! All these meanwhile can be made to look legal and aboveboard by an adept, but most of all amply financed, management of the press.

With a co-opted Legislative, an impaired Judiciary, the constitutional windows are shut. If the top brass of the military can be kept comforted with favors and privileges, the equation is complete. The Executive can afford to immoderate its greed in order to build a war chest that can wither any emergency: top any bid for anybody’s flagging loyalty; procure his/her temporary or permanent silence; secure an opulent temporary or permanent exile for a beleaguered ally. Insiders build an ethical rampart around themselves by subscribing to the belief that all outsiders are virtuous only by default. No one has the biblical right to throw the first stone. In the den of thieves, theft is an oath of loyalty. But where greed is the currency of the land, discord is as natural as sunrise and breaking rank is a contingency to be handled. Any insider who breaks rank is assured of demolition.

With the system of assured demolition for rank breakers tightly in place, the ballot-stealing Executive can confidently hurl the challenge: “Impeachus” or “Sue us”. Indeed since the best defense is an ebullient offense, the bravado can indulge the rapier of sarcasm: “Allow us to start the constitutional challenges: To table an impeachment in Congress; to start an investigation by constitutional bodies.” Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” is, if more colorful, cut of the same cloth.

In effect, the constitution can be conveniently turned into a cover for a cabal of robbers. Its avenues of accountability can be magically transformed into boulevards of plunder. So impaired and emasculated, it can become a formidable comfort to impunity!

But of course this can be dismissed as no more than a hypothetical scenario. Malacanang’s problem is that more and more Filipinos, rightly or wrongly, no longer distinguish between hypothesy and reality. Who can blame them? They have perished the thought that the rule of law is better served by adherence to a constitution that is being used as a cover forimpunity. Guilty Erap was constitutionally unconditionally pardoned. As the Darwinians only know too well, when rogues enjoy superior fitness, their tribe will increase and inherit the earth. Whether for outright deposal or for defanging, these Filipinos now believe, rather as did the English barons at Runnymede, that only mounting direct action increasing if it must the risk of extra-constitutional tectonics is the only language Malacanang now understands and which alone can force it to come clean on truth and justice.

Waiting for the 2010 that will be forthwith stolen is “waiting for Godot.”


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  1. Rego, did you hear Gloria in the tape? Did you hear her confess to a “lapse in judgment”? Given the nature of the offense, are there any better “indefensible or undisputable” evidence than those to prove betrayal of public trust?

    You are right, aside from humbly facing the consequences of his indiscretion in a political hara-kiri, Eliot Spitzer resigned because he also expected his allies in the Senate to cross party lines to live up to the standards of public office for the good of the state and spare their constituencies from prolonged crisis.

    And this brings us to my question again above. Is it us or Gloria?

  2. Rego, did you hear Gloria in the tape?

    >>>>>No.

    Did you hear her confess to a “lapse in judgment”?

    >>>>>Yes

    Given the nature of the offense, are there any better “indefensible or undisputable” evidence than those to prove betrayal of public trust?

    >>>> Im not sure. That is why I wanted her to be impeached.

  3. Rego, if you did not hear Gloria in the tape how competent are you now to claim that the evidence is “soooooo” weak?

    Does not it mean too that you will stick with Gloria no matter is the weight of the evidence that she has betrayed the public trust?

    Now, is it Gloria, the system or you?

  4. Rego, if you did not hear Gloria in the tape how competent are you now to claim that the evidence is “soooooo” weak?

    >>>>>Simple, Gloria is still malacanang. The tape did not bring her down.

    Does not it mean too that you will stick with Gloria no matter is the weight of the evidence that she has betrayed the public trust?

    >>>>> No. The impeachment court shoudl decide on on that

    Now, is it Gloria, the system or you?

    It the system that you and I are a part of I am a part of.

  5. Take note Abe, I did not hear the wire tapped tape of Eliot. why I say its strong that he needs to resign. Because on top of the tape, you have bank records of the movement of money. Check in record in the Hotel. And you have the first hand account. Then you have teh prostitute itself.

    Now aside form teh Garci tape what make it soooooooooo strong?

    And please educate me more about the betrayal of public trust. I know thsi is an impeachabler offense. But I dont know exactly the definition and amd what is teh penalty for that aside from removal of office?

    Come to think Abe, if I dont know much about the betrayal of public thrust. Pano na yung common tao. Did they really understand this? Eh yung nag sisisgaw kay ng Gloria resign naiitindihan ba talaga nila eto? Yung mga studyante hinihimok mag rally ng mag catholic schools naiitindihan kay nila yan. Tapos hindi lang yan ang binabato kay Gloria. So its really simple, right? something is very wrong with the system. And all of us is a part of the system.

    Now kung makapag impeachment at televized yung proceeding lahat eh di naiitindihan ng lahat kung ano ba talaga yung mga kasalanan binabato ni Gloria, at gaano kalaki ang ebidensya?

  6. People, listen up listen up!

    You know what ? GMA will not be moved, she is one of the most honest and hardworking people who ever worked in the government.

    To tell you the truth ,100% I support her administration. She’s the best president we ever had since FVR. Actually Erap is too darn stupid to be considered a president.

    She is the best and all charges of corruption levelled against her are done maybe by her underlings but GMA is the best!

    GMA, THE FILIPINO PEOPLE LOVES YOU!

  7. TO ALL OF YOU!

    ALL OF YOU PEOPLE ARE ONLY TRYING TO DISCRIMINATE GMA, BUT SHE IS THE BEST AND MOST HONEST ONE WE EVER HAD.

    SHE IS THE TRUE FILIPINA!

    GMA ! GMA ! GMA !

  8. I HATE THE NUNS WHO ARE SO IDIOTIC IN HOLDING THE ARMS OF JUN LOZADA IN TV.

    IMAGINE, NUNS SHOULD BE APOLITICAL.

    THOSE NUNS SHOULD ALL BE LOCKED UP IN THE CONVENT.

    ANUNG PRESIDENCY BA SINANG-AYUNAN NG MGA MADRENG YAN?

    PUBLICITY AT DONATION LANG HABOL NG MGA YAN!

  9. C’mon rego, you can do better than benignO’s “simple” answers.

    The evidence is soooo weak because she is still in Malacañang? WTF?

    Because on top of the tape, you have bank records of the movement of money. Check in record in the Hotel. And you have the first hand account. Then you have teh prostitute itself.

    The tape isn’t all. There’s Gudani, Balutan, Mayuga, the Marines in Lanao, in Basilan, everywhere.

    Btw, did you actually “see” Spitzer’s bank records? The hotel’s? The prostitute?

    The FBI’s smoking gun was a series of wiretaps, emails and dummy bank accounts of Brener, Suwal, Lewis and Hollander.

    In Gloria’s case the NBI’s Ong had the wiretap, but instead of pursuing his case, his agency hunted him down. The Swiss bank has provided the Gov’t with the money trail against Perez, his wife and brother-in-law. What was the NBI and Ombudsman supposed to do with those evidences? Seven years and it was only the day before the Makati rally that super procrastinator Gutierrez came out on tv saying “she will investigate”. All of these seven years the morons in Anti-Money Laundering have not frozen a single “big fish” account. Oh well, they had one, the online casino remittances via Western Union. Only because US Feds were all over the place.

    There are evidences, despite efforts to suppress them. Witnesses, too, despite threats, and actual harm. Whatever is there didn’t come from mandated agencies. “Sue me” or “Where’s the evidence” were reflex responses yet all avenues at arriving at the truth were blocked legally and illegally.

    Isn’t that betrayal of trust? Impeach the bitch, cmon. I’d pan in her perv brains given the opportunity.

  10. I sympathize with people like you who are so insensitive to the plight of our people. The whole world already knows that the Pidal family is living like royals, while the rest of the people suffer. You are blinded because most likely you benefit form this corrupt regime of the Evil Bitch. Nobody likes her, don’t you get it?

    GMA is the most corrupt (same as FVR) and probably the most evil President this country has ever had.

  11. Jochen,

    The reason why no one is reacting is because people here are of the right frame of mind

    Di pumapatol sa mga di marunong rumispeto. Pareho kayo sa amo niyong makakapal ang apog!

  12. There is a piece of detail — The FBI wiretaps were done correctly, are legal and admissible as legal evidence.

  13. rego,

    “Now aside form teh Garci tape what make it soooooooooo strong?”

    prejudice

  14. abe margallo, i was just re-reading your running argument with rego. i just want to make one observation. “lapse of judgment” indicates a failure of good judgment, a mistake, which therefore negates willful, deliberate or intentional act. on the other hand, “betrayal of public trust” is a conscious, willful or deliberate act of omission with clear intent to betray. the latter indicates SCIENTER or bad faith. the former connotes erroneous belief.

    while betrayal of public trust is impeachable (if one can define its parameters), lapse of judgment is not.

  15. AS, prejudice against short people with looooong appetite, as in salivating to reign beyond 2010000000?

    Bukooooool, di ba?

  16. Bencard,

    A couple of weeks before the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “lapse in judgment” admission, sociologist and UP Professor Randy David (applying what he calls in sociology as “ethnomethodology” that goes into “the rational characteristics of conversations”) had come out with the following analysis of the “Hello Garci” tapes in the June 12, 2005 piece for his PDI column “Public Lives”:

    The key figure is a male voice variously referred to as “Commissioner” or “Garci.” It was obviously his phone that was bugged. By the types of situations brought to him for fixing, by the variety of people desperately seeking his help, and by the frightening ease with which he dispenses solutions-one would know that this man is an old hand in the underworld of electoral fraud.

    He knows exactly where to pull additional votes and for how much, and how to deal with recalcitrant election registrars who don’t cooperate. Politicians come to him for help like anxious little children. They rely on him to do all the dirty tricks they need to do to win, things they themselves would sanctimoniously decry in public.

    This is the political operator that “Ma’am” repeatedly calls as she nervously awaits the results from far-flung towns in Mindanao. Listen to this cryptic exchange: “Hello Ma’am?/ Hello, meron tayong statement of votes, ERs para sa Sulu?/ Saan po Ma’am?/ Sulu, Sulu./ Oo Ma’am meron po./ Nagco-correspond?/ Oo Ma’am./ Kumpleto?/ Oo Ma’am. Lahat ho meron, hindi po namin ika-count kung…. / Ok, ok.”

    On the surface it does look like an innocent exchange. The key word here is “nagco-correspond” – a gloss that refers to the practice of fixing canvass results at, say, the provincial level so that they are not at variance with precinct election returns or statement of votes for municipalities. The other gloss is the question “Kumpleto?” This is not a harmless inquiry. Given the kind of response it elicits, it is an urgent demand to make sure the doctoring is done with care.

    One knows this from examining other conversations: “Hello/ Hello, Ma’am, good morning. Ok Ma’am, mas mataas ho siya pero mag-compensate po sa Lanao yan./ So will I still lead by more than 1 M overall?/ More or less, but it is still an advantage, Ma’am. Parang ganun din ang lalabas./ Oo, pero it will not be less than 1M?/ Pipilitin ho natin yan. Pero, as of the other day, 982./ Kaya nga eh./ And then, if we can get more in Lanao./ Hindi pa ba tapos?/ Hindi pa ho. Meron pa hong darating na 7 municipalities./ Ah, ok, ok./ Sige po./ Ok, ok, ok…”

    Now, as we all know, the wiretap conversation where Arroyo appeared to desire for a million-vote margin over FPJ’s votes sparked calls for Arroyo to resign. On June 27, 2005, she went on television and apologized for a “lapse in judgment.” While admitting that it was her voice in the recordings Arroyo however insisted she did not “influenced the outcome of the election “ as it has “already been decided and the votes counted.”

    Here’s the pertinent portion of GMA’s “lapse in judgment” speech on charges of electoral prostitution:

    “I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment. I am sorry. I also regret taking so long to speak before you on this matter. I take full responsibility for my actions and to you and to all those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by these events. I want to assure you that I have redoubled my efforts to serve the nation and earn your trust.

    “Nagagambala ako. Maliwanag na may kakulangan sa wastong pagpapasya ang nangyaring pagtawag sa telepono. Pinagsisisihan ko ito nang lubos. Pinananagutan ko nang lubusan ang aking ginawa, at humihingi ako ng tawad sa inyo, sa lahat ng mga butihing mamamayan na nabawasan ng tiwala dahil sa mga pangyayaring ito. Ibig kong tiyakin sa inyo na lalo pa akong magsisikap upang maglingkod sa bayan at matamo inyong tiwala.”

    New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s “private failings” speech on allegation of sexual prostitution seems of similar vein:

    “I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

    “I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant I, and the remarkable people with whom I worked, have accomplished a great deal. There is much more to be done, and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people’s work. Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor. . . .

    “I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as human beings, our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family. Then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.

    What’s obviously missing from GMA’s speech is this:

    “For this reason, I am resigning from the office of president.”

    NOTE: Arroyo’s speech was so carefully parsed: it admits to “lapse in judgment” cunningly suggesting only “gaps” in her judgment but not “lapse of judgment.” The scienter (bad faith) continues even when she was saying, “I am sorry.”

  17. abe, i don’t see a justified equation between a state governor using the services of a prostitute, and a president talking to another government official. no conjectures are necessary in maintaining liaison with a call girl. it can be conclusively presumed to be for immoral purposes and hence, a compelling reason to immediately resign. not so in the case of a candidate talking to a comelec official which, though improper, may or may not be in bad faith. it is only natural for a candidate to be curious about how he/she stands in the vote counting in certain places, and if he/she has an opportunity to ask someone in a position to know, the temptation to ask is great and could lead to a lapse in judgment.

    just because some individuals or groups want to interpret such lapse as “cheating” is not reason enough for a president to resign.

  18. ‘Why we can’t support call for GMA to resign’
    POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr.
    Sunday, March 16, 2008
    THIS Sunday, I share a piece by Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, dean of the Graduate School of Law of San Beda College (Mendio-la) on calls for President Gloria Arroyo to resign. He says, and I concur:

    “I am not an apologist for President Arroyo. I have received no favors from her. I believe that she is a competent President and I also believe in the Rule of Law, no matter that the law may, in several respects, be infirm. And by the precepts of the Rule of Law to which I adhere, pressuring the President into resigning by swaying public opinion away from her and alienating the allegiance of the military is anathema.

    “My own reflections on the moral dimensions of the problems confirm me in the legal position I have so far taken.

    “1. I have followed with keen attention the proceedings in the Senate. Joey de Venecia’s testimony clearly implicates the First Gentleman. Under the current legal doctrine of individual responsibility, there is no justification to impute to the President whatever wrongdoings the First Gentleman may be guilty of. I am not yet conceding that he is guilty.

    “2. The testimony of Jun Lozada, while rich in many details, contains not a single incriminatory statement against the President. There are innuendos that the NBN deal was known to, if not brokered, by some Malacañang personalities, but innuendo is never evidence, and when we take such a serious move as urging the people to press for the resignation of the President, such a call must, by all moral precepts, rest on moral certitude!

    “3. Much of the testimony of Lozada in the Senate would fail the test of judicial admissibility. The Senate does not adhere to the Rules of Evidence. It is not required to, because its task is not judicial.

    “4. The Senators are not the impartial investigators and judges that judicial proceedings call for. Most of the Senators are political adversaries of PGMA. The witness answers as he is led by the questions. In court, most of these questions are characterized as ‘leading,’ and are disallowed in direct examinations because they lead the witness to the kind of answer the proponent of the question — in this case, the senators — wish to elicit from the witness.

    “5. Section 15 (1) of Republic Act 6770 vests in the Ombudsman the power to investigate ‘any public officer or employee, office or agency’ when an act or omission complained of appears to be illegal or even merely improper. I do not read, nor is there reason to read, the exclusion of the President from the power of the Ombudsman to investigate. Section 22 is in fact express about its power to investigate impeachable officials. I would like to hear the Ombudsman tell us whether or not there is probable cause in the first place because this, the Senate of its own cannot determine, nor does it possess the power to do so!

    “6. What shocks me is the irresponsibility with which a lawyer and a Senator of the Republic should prejudice the Ombudsman and dissuade the public from lending credence to the Ombudsman. Why should he? The reason is not too difficult to fathom: Since this particular senator has always wanted the President ousted, he wants public attention focused on the Senate, majority of whose members are having a heyday with the investigations at which they get the chance to bash the President. Proceedings before the Ombudsman should be more sedate, more orderly, more rational.

    “7. The contention that the Ombudsman and the Justice Secretary cannot conduct credible investigations because they are presidential appointees is specious! Were that so, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the associate justices of the High Court, the justices of all superior courts, judges of courts, members of the Constitutional Commissions — all would lack credibility because all are presidential appointees. Is it then our sad fate in this blighted Republic that only the Senators are to be trusted? All the clowning that has taken place in the Senate thus far convinces me otherwise: That it is one of the least credible institutions in this country.

    “8. Is it really the truth we seek? I have the sickening feeling that the President’s foes have already decided what the ‘truth’ is — that she is guilty. If the Ombudsman were to find no probable cause against the President or reason to indict the President in the Lower House (that is tasked with filing the articles of impeachment) after a thorough investigation, would the members of the opposition and the media be willing to accept this as ‘true’? I have my serious doubts. But that is exactly the trouble: If they have decided beforehand what ‘true’ is, then all investigations are unavailing.

    “9. When one protests his earnestness in search of the truth and at the same time presses for the resignation of the President, one is guilty of a ‘performative contradiction.’ If you search for the truth, you do not yet know whether or not she is guilty. But if you do not know this yet, what reason is there to ask her to resign?

    “10. Asking for the President’s resignation gives now the military the signal to shift allegiances: From following the chain of command to breaking it. I find pathetic and ludicrous Jose Ma. Sison’s call to the military to shift allegiances.

    “11. When did all these coup attempts disruptive of civil government start? They all started with the politicization of the military. While we lauded their role in the first EDSA People Power revolution, we also opened a Pandora’s Box — the ugly prospect of the military dictating upon civilian government and making the latter hostage to it. How shall we ever have a government that truly subjects military authority to civilian rule if we court military support for the ouster of civilian government?

    “11. The two EDSA People Power exercises we have gone through got us the results we wanted THEN — the ouster of Marcos, the ouster of Erap. But have these resulted in the strengthening of democratic institutions? They definitely have not. And when the institutions of democracy and justice are weakened by extra-systemic measures like people power, snap elections, premature departures from office of duly constituted authorities, we deter the maturing of our democracy.

    “12. It has been repeatedly argued that the President’s resignation is not unconstitutional. But forcing her to by inviting the military for example to disavow obedience to their Commander-in-Chief and the civilian population not to submit to authority is certainly unconstitutional.”

  19. Bencard,

    I agree there is no “justified equation” between a private failing and a betrayal of public trust.

    Well, at least Spitzer has paid for his private pleasure. At the rate public corruption cases involving billions of pesos are being laid at the doorsteps of Malacañang, Arroyo has gotten more than she bargained for by saying “Hello Garci” because as Randy David clearly has pointed out it was not a simple case “a president talking to another government official.”

  20. Section 15 (1) of Republic Act 6770 vests in the Ombudsman the power to investigate ‘any public officer or employee, office or agency’ when an act or omission complained of appears to be illegal or even merely improper. I do not read, nor is there reason to read, the exclusion of the President from the power of the Ombudsman to investigate. Section 22 is in fact express about its power to investigate impeachable officials. I would like to hear the Ombudsman tell us whether or not there is probable cause in the first place because this, the Senate of its own cannot determine, nor does it possess the power to do so!

    AJ,

    I guess the following redacted old post of mine is sufficient to address the above concern.

    The phone conversation between President Arroyo and Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Garciliano captured in the infamous “Garci tapes” may not constitute an “admission” of cheating in the legal sense but remaining unexplained save for Arroyo’s “I’m sorry” piece, it is proof sufficient to establish a “probable cause” for the impeachable offense of “betrayal of public trust” and enough to indict (impeach) Arroyo and send her to face impeachment trial before the Senate.

    Probable cause is not “proof beyond reasonable doubt” but only a reasonable ground for belief that an offense has been committed and that the person to be charged for the commission of the offense may have committed it.

    The President talking by telephone to a COMELEC commissioner during the relevant election period in a manner suggestive, based on the entire context of the conversation, that she wanted about a million votes by which to win convincingly in the presidential election is unquestionably a probable cause for “betrayal of public trust.”

    In the same manner, a 10 to 5 Supreme Court decision in the Infotech case finding that the resolution of the Commission on Election awarding a billion-peso contract to Mega Pacific (to automate the Philippine election system) to be “in clear violation of law and jurisprudence,” and “in reckless disregard of its own bidding rules and procedure” is clearly a probable cause for “graft and corruption” and/or for serious misconduct in office amounting to “betrayal of public trust” at least for the purpose of initiating impeachment against the commissioners.

    In the failed impeachments of Arroyo, the anti-impeachment members of the House betrayed and renounced their role as “representatives of the people,” the overwhelming majority of whom by some credible and reliable surveys would want Arroyo to explain herself in a full-dress impeachment trial and resolve the issue of legitimacy once and for all.

    In the failure to prosecute those whom the Supreme Court has found to have acted illegally, fraudulently and unconscionably in the Infotech case, the Ombudsman and her Deputies, by choosing to defy the Court’s finding, betrayed and renounced their constitutionally mandated role as “protectors of the people” (tanodbayan).

    Just as the “Garci tapes” are a probable cause for the impeachable offense of betrayal of public trust on the part of President Arroyo so is the Supreme Court’s finding of unconscionable and glaring illegality is a probable cause for graft and corruption on the part of the COMELEC commissioners and their cohorts.

    The institutional cost of Arroyo clinging to power, come hail and high water to the republic, amidst the “Garci tapes” scandal has become extremely prohibitive. Aside from the prostitution of the electoral body and Philippine military during the last presidential election as indicated in the tapes and testified to by high-ranking military officers of solid or daring scruples, the other obvious casualty of course has been the built-in checks-and-balances mechanism of impeachment when the pro-Arroyo members of the House opted to hide behind the narrow reading or misreading of the law or the brutal application of technicality.

  21. abe, i know this is becoming a circular argument but how can a candidate’s mere wish to win by a million vote for a convincing victory lead to an inference of “betrayal of public trust”? granting that this wish was expressed to a comelec official, the question remains whether this official, on his own, is capable of delivering that kind of wish without an intricate and vast conspiracy involving a large number of other election officials and private individuals(other than gudani and balutan whose respective credibility were also in question). in the face of garci’s categorical denial of cheating in 2004 elections, as alleged, the burden to produce enough evidence to create “probable cause” reverts back to the accusers. the alleged wiretapped evidence, even if admitted, doesn’t come close to a sufficient proof of betrayal, i.e. a “smoking gun”, (that could rise to the level of impeachable offense) let alone cheating.

    i believe congress was correct in rejecting the charge of betrayal of public trust to support impeachment “insufficient in form and substance”.

  22. Bencard, is this a mere wish:

    “Hello/ Hello, Ma’am, good morning. Ok Ma’am, mas mataas ho siya pero mag-compensate po sa Lanao yan./ So will I still lead by more than 1 M overall?/ More or less, but it is still an advantage, Ma’am. Parang ganun din ang lalabas./ Oo, pero it will not be less than 1M?/ Pipilitin ho natin yan. Pero, as of the other day, 982./ Kaya nga eh./ And then, if we can get more in Lanao./ Hindi pa ba tapos?/ Hindi pa ho. Meron pa hong darating na 7 municipalities./ Ah, ok, ok./ Sige po./ Ok, ok, ok…”

    The Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) arguments as summed up by PCIJ in the following abbreviated version are equally compelling:

    – Pres. Arroyo’s implied request for Garcillano to deny any petition from Sen. Biazon to open election documents in Tawi-Tawi ‘at baka matalo ako dun’ is a crime. Influencing an official to decide one way or the other in a case to be filed or pending before him violates Section 261 of the Election Code.

    – Garcillano admitted to electoral fraud when he told Pres. Arroyo: “kinausap ko na yung chairman of the Board ng Sulu, yung sa akin. Pataguin ko muna ang EO ng Paguntaran para hindi sila makatestigo ho.” A COMELEC official is not supposed to ‘hide’ an election officer or any member of the electoral board to prevent said official from testifying as this is obstruction of justice under Sec. 1 (a) of PD 1829. If the hiding was not ‘voluntary’, Garcillano may even be liable for kidnapping.

    – From various conversations in the Garci tapes Pres. Arroyo and Garcillano may be held criminally liable for discussing the commission of electoral fraud. Alleged statements like ,‘ganito ang pagpataas ng iyong boto, eh malinis naman ang pagkagawa’; or “will I still lead by 1 M’ followed by a reply of ‘pipilitin natin’; or ‘Doon naman sa Basilan at Lanao del Sur ito ho yung ginawa nilang magpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh” followed by a reply from Pres. Arroyo saying “so nagma-match?” all point to a conspiracy to manipulate election results.

    – The fact that Garcillano and Pres. Arroyo uses the words ‘atin’ referring to themselves and ‘kanila’ or ‘kabila’ when referring to her opponents, already shows the bias of a supposedly independent constitutional official. All these makes both of them liable under Section 261 (z) (21) of the Omnibus Election Code for violating the integrity of election returns and other election documents and other electoral fraud.

    – Should Pres. Arroyo claim ignorance to electoral fraud, the fact that she failed to report Garcillano to the proper authorities or filed a complaint against him, despite his frank admission to committing election offenses and by reappointing him to the Comelec, makes her liable under Art. 208 of the Revised Penal Code which provides for a penalty of prision correccional upon a public official who in dereliction of his duties, shall maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution or the punishment of violators of the law or shall tolerate the commission of offenses.

  23. abe, everything you presented came from the illegaly wire- tapped tape, the genuineness and authenticity of which is under question. be that as it may, there is no direct statement there tending to show proof of cheating. all that you have are conclusory deductions formulated by a biased mind.

    i would think we are in agreement as to the inadmissibility of the wiretapped tape IN ANY proceeding, including impeachment. for that reason alone, i reiterate that the congress’ finding of no sufficient charge to warrant impeachment was correct.

    btw, as to your comment about the “institutional cost” of pgma’s refusal to make it easy for her enemies to grab power by not contesting the impeachment, or by voluntarily resigning, i believe the costs should be charged to the frivolous but unrelenting effort to unseat her. they should stopped for the good of the country, now na! 2010 is just around the corner.

  24. Although anyone (be he a priest who has allegedly committed a sexual offense, a clerk at La Salle who allegedly has solicited money for copies of exams, or the president herself) can be subjected to villification via the media, the process to get closure is well-defined. For the presidency, closure of the “Garci-tape” is via impeachment. The process of impeachment is also well-defined, in particular the second stage — with the senators — can proceed only after enough congressmen agree to impeach. Only when the president has lost the confidence of enough members of Congress can impeachment proceed.

  25. Side-question to Abe: What are your thoughts on Obama as USA president after the “God Damn America!!!” pastor news of past couple of days?

  26. Bencard,

    In her “lapse in judgment speech” Arroyo said that “the issue of the tape recordings has spun out of control” and then admitted that she “had conversations with . . . a Comelec official” but her “intent was not to influence the outcome of the election.”

    One of the conversations runs like this:

    Woman: Hello.

    Man: Hello, Ma’am, good morning. Ok Ma’am, mas mataas ho siya pero mag-compensate po sa Lanao yan.

    W: So will I still lead by more than 1 M overall?

    M: More or less, but it is still an advantage, Ma’am. Parang ganun din ang lalabas.

    W: Oo, pero it will not be less than 1M?

    M: Pipilitin ho natin yan. Pero, as of the other day, 982.

    W: Kaya nga eh.

    M: And then, if we can get more in Lanao.

    W: Hindi pa ba tapos?

    M: Hindi pa ho. Meron pa hong darating na 7 municipalities.

    W: Ah, ok, ok.

    M: Sige po.

    W: Ok, ok, ok…

    Without concluding anything but assuming for the sake of argument that the woman’s voice in the tape is that of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the man’s voice that of Comelec commissioner Garciliano, do you honestly agree or disagree (here, before Manolo’s Impeachment Court) that the President’s “intent was not to influence the outcome of the election”?

  27. UPn,

    Rev. Wright said:

    “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant?! Because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our front yard? Americans chickens are coming home to roost.”

    Where did Rev. Wright lie?

    UPn, you are not asking the right person because I have also written in the following manner in a similar exchange before:

    “If, wittingly or unwittingly, you appear to be an American apologist (in the sense that you have been conditioned to idolize Lone Ranger, Davy Crockett, Rambo, or GI Joe regardless of whether the poor guys being civilized, benevolently assimilated, or senselessly wiped out by these heroes were the Indians, the Mexicans, the Vietcong, or the Filipino ladrones – all in the name of the necessities of civilization, freedom, democracy, human rights, and the great American values), it is easy to understand you opening up an argument on terrorism by begging the question that ‘terrorists’ are synonymous with freaky Arabs or Muslims or Moros. In such a framework, it becomes also easier to believe blowing up one’s enemies into smithereens with a smart missile is more decent, even playful, than cutting their throats.

    “And that’s the point made by one activist, Raj Patel – that you can make a bomb out of anything: A fertilizer bomb that kills hundreds in Oklahoma, fuel-laden airliners that kill 3000 in New York, or a sanctions policy that kills one and a half millions in Iraq.

    “Or you can make a bomb out of what is called plunder of poorer nations by developed countries. A detonation like this, based for example on an analysis by Jubilee Research, causes an estimated 19,000 children dying every day (or roughly 7 million children yearly) as a result alone of money going to foreign creditors instead of basic health, education, and clean water.

    “There’s so much ‘terror’ happening in our midst but we don’t see it, because it is not readily visible. Not being visible, often we don’t resent it. It is not suicide bomber but terrorism ‘on paper (that) hurts the most.'”

  28. So Abe: So do you feel alienated among Fil-Ams? My understanding is that among the Filipinos now American citizens, your belief (and the pastor-Wright sermon-snippet) that the strike against the World Trade Center is deserved as “..Americans chickens are coming home to roost.” is the view of a very small minority. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton disagree with the words you have cut-and-paste above. Also lawyer-Edwards plus governor Richardson. The current Bush and the elder Bush, also McCain and Huckabee disagree with it.
    So do you think Obama shares his pastor’s view about WTC-as-“coming home to roost”? I thought Obama recently said that he disagrees with those sermon-snippets that FoxNews and ABC-news media have aired.

  29. Hoy Viktor12! Ikaw ang makapal ang apog. Pag ikaw eh nasa gobyerno, baka magananakaw ka rin! Ulul!

  30. You know what Abe, do you think you’d be enjoying those things you are enjoying now kung wala ang mga Amerikano?

    Our Democracy, our everything will not be the same kung di tayo protektado ng mga AMerikano.

    Ngayon ,ikaw kung naniniwala ka na wala silang silbi, eh nagkakamali ka, dahil sila ang nagturo sa atin na mag-isip kung paano tayo mag-isip…liberally.

    San ba napulot ni Rizal ang Noli? Di ba sa Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Sino gumawa noon? diba Kano?

    Kaya ikaw kung puro reklamo sa Amerikano na walang masamang balak kundi katahimikan eh sumama ka na sa mga teroristang tulad mo!

  31. Tidal,

    “San ba napulot ni Rizal ang Noli? Di ba sa Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Sino gumawa noon? diba Kano?”

    curious ako dyan. tutoo ba yan?

  32. Tida,

    oops, no need na. ‘Tom Sawyer’ ang pumasok sa isip ko. di nga pala si Mark Twain ang sumulat ng Uncle Tom’s Cabin. thanks anyway

  33. to all who want gloria to resign now, this is for you:

    ‘Why we can’t support call for GMA to resign’
    POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr.
    Sunday Star, March 16, 2008

    please devour it

    thanks for the post AJ

  34. UPn,

    I’m taking part in a blogosphere debate hoping to persuade some people to take up my arguments while Obama is engaged in a political campaign hoping to convince America to elect him the leader of the world’s most powerful nation.

    I will continue to believe in the movement of Obama – and it is a great movement – regardless of whether he expressly repudiates the advocacies of people of persuasions similar to mine.

    I believe further that Americans voting for Obama to become their next president is a step in the right direction for a nation as great as the United States to regain its moral leadership in the world.

  35. Abe: I suppose you’ve made a number of Filipinos happy when you say that the US-of-A has leadership role — moral leadership in the world. {But don’t be surprised if many other Filipinos question your judgment with that statement.}

  36. I still remember the months before US troops moved into Iraq. Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz/Powell were all pounding on and on about WMD’s as the threat that Saddam posed to world peace in general, and US security in particular. Then, there was the issue of Saddam the thug-dictator and the moral leadership role of America.

    I still remember reading in many newspapers and blogsites about Iraqi communities (both in US, London, Paris, etc) encouraging the overthrow of Saddam and another chance for US to demonstrate moral leadership with regards ouster of a dictator. Of course, there were a lot of other folks (Chirac, Putin very highly visible) who said that the US had no reason to send its troops into Baghdad. [China, of course, has consistently stayed on message — UN, US, Britain, all countries should not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.]

    It almost seems as if relativity IS the norm; that “… the proof is in the pudding”. In other words, had Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence not appeared, had the Iraqis been able to organize themselves cooperatively within months after the Saddam overthrow, then there will be much little disagreement with your statement about the United States … “moral leadership in the world”.

  37. abe, at the risk of being repetitious, all i can see from the colloquy that you have presented (for the second time in this thread) is a man trying to console a worried female candidate (on whose side the man evidently is) re-assuring her that the possibilities strongly points to her victory; that the lanao vote could compensate for the rival’s gains in other places and bring her over the top by 1 million margin considering that a few days ago, it was already 982,000 and there are still 7 municipalities to be counted.

    in ordinary pinoy conversation, “pipilitin po natin” is a common words of re-assurance as when a taxi driver tells a passenger trying to catch a plane at naia when asked to make it in fifteen minutes with heavy traffic – pipilitin ko po. it doesn’t necessarily mean that the driver will cut everyone ahead of him, run every red light, or put wings on his taxi, to fulfill the passenger’s request.

  38. upn, abe, the anti-american rhetorics of obama’s “friend” and pastor, rev. wright, are the exact sentiments of america’s rabid enemies, notably the muslim fundamentalists and terrorists groups world-wide. in twenty years of close associations with the reverend, and support from the likes of louis farrakhan, i cannot but believe that obama sympathizes with these home-grown american haters, if not actually espouses, their ideologies. i can sense that even in the demeanor and speech of his wife, michele obama, who said she was beginning to love america “for the first time”, or words to that effect.

    i came to this country in search of freedom, equality of opportunity for myself and my family, safety and security under a rule of law, and a right to participate in choosing the leaders that would represent me. i found all that, and am grateful beyond words. if ever there’s anything i hate at all are people who would do anything to be allowed entry into this country, enjoy all the benefits of living within its enlightened society, and yet repay it with hatred or other acts of ungratefulness.

    most of the blacks in america say they are here not by choice but by force through slavery of their ancestors. that may be true, but now, this is the only country they can call their own by birthright. past injustices need to be forgiven and they should go beyond the color of their skin and think of themselves no less as americans than the whites, most of whom have already accepted them as such.

    in the case of obama, he has not personally done or achieved anything extraordinary that would make him a natural choice for the presidency. in the words of geraldine ferraro (the first female u.s. vice presidential candidate) obama would not be where he is now if he was not black. i believe blacks all over the u.s. will vote for him no matter what, and will cross party lines to elect him. i don’t think they have the numbers yet, but they are getting there. and with the help of some white liberal stalwarts (albeit known losers in national elections) like ted kennedy, john kerry, bill bradley, etc., he might yet be the man, if he could get past senator clinton, and ultimately john mccain.

    before the revelation about obama’s ties with rev. wright and the latter’s anti-americanism, i did not trust him because i didn’t know anything about him except for his rabble-rousing speech at the 2004 democratic convention. now, with farrakhan and rev. wright on the background, i am scared of him. (upn, funny but it seems to me that there’s something biblically ominous about it, isn’t there?)

  39. Bencard:
    My preference many months ago, and it still remains so, is Hillary over Obama. Still, I was shocked to see the virulent anti-Americanism of Obama’s pastor. The man’s heart is filled with hate against his own country, it looks like!

    And now, what puzzles me is Obama’s claim that only with the YouTube, the FoxNews and ABC-news video-sermon snippets did he see the virulent anti-Americanism of his pastor. I know Obama highly respects and is very fond of Rev Wright so believe that the both of them had had discussions in the immediate weeks and months after the planes had hit the World Trade Center. I can not but imagine that Obama and Wright had had frank discussions about the fairness/lack of fairness in US society, US moral leadership vis-a-vis US actions (in Iraq; about Iran; Palestine-Israel; North Korea; terrorism in general and the terror-strike against Madrid (maybe even the terror-strike against SuperFerry14), then AbuGraib, Guantanamo and perceptions about USA-versus-Muslim world. There also has been the Dane cartoons and the resultant riots; maybd even the Paris riots of recent. Surely they’ve discussed Darfur; I suppose even Tony Blair coverting to Roman Catholicism). So I have an uneasy feeling when Obama said that only for the first time did he see the virulent anti-Americanism in his pastor.
    But as Abe says, Obama is engaged in a political campaign. I guess we’ll see better if RevWright-videos have changed American-electorate perception of Obama when the results of the Pennsylvania primary becomes known.

  40. Bencard, we can avoid being repetitious for now if you don’t leave unanswered the CODAL items enumerated above which taken together by no means look like mere a taxi ride conversation.

    And you say the conversation is one between “a man trying to console a worried female candidate”? Well, aside from its sexist overtone, such a claim seems to indicate to me that like rego you also have not listen to the tapes at all.

    Sociologist Randy David who conscientiously analyzed the tapes has described the conversations as “between the principal and her agent” where the principal “speaks in a measured and clear tone, usually to bring up a problem, or to suggest a course of action” and the agent “in an exquisitely fawning way, assures her that the problem is being attended to and that he is on top of the situation.” I guess David is still being kind here because frankly what I think I’ve heard is Ma Barker instructing her boy about the next robbery of a corner bank.

    Funny, how easily you impute guilt by association to Obama, but you only see an “ordinary pinoy conversation” where in view of it 10 of Arroyo’s cabinet members resigned in disgust? Has Rule of Law, your favorite catchphrase, gone off the rails now?

    Now, this particular observation by Randy David of the Garci tapes seems so alarming one could hear the tolling of the iron bells for Philippine democracy:

    “A whole world has been assumed and brought out in these fascinating conversations – the world of political fraud and electoral fixing. The key figure is a male voice variously referred to as ‘Commissioner’ or ‘Garci.’ It was obviously his phone that was bugged. By the types of situations brought to him for fixing, by the variety of people desperately seeking his help, and by the frightening ease with which he dispenses solutions – one would know that this man is an old hand in the underworld of electoral fraud.

    “He knows exactly where to pull additional votes and for how much, and how to deal with recalcitrant election registrars who don’t cooperate. Politicians come to him for help like anxious little children. They rely on him to do all the dirty tricks they need to do to win, things they themselves would sanctimoniously decry in public.”

    This “commissioner” who is in the business of manufacturing votes is only “trying to console a worried female candidate”?

    Ben, try telling the cab driver in your example he gets .00001 percent of $130 million if you reach your destination on time and I can almost assure you he’ll not only cut police cars but even drive against the traffic.

    btw, UPN and Ben, I know of a lovely married couple who are almost opposite in the political spectrum. And they have been together more than Obama and Rev. Wright have been associated with each other. Is it fair then to ask if you listen to what Obama says and not what his pastor pontificates on?

    And lastly, my son came home for spring break today. He asked me to explain more about what his sociology professor (a Fil-Am) means by Filipino “mask of whiteness.” Well, I said you might find some answers in this thread.

    Back to the first question. “Call girls” or “Garci calls,” which one is the original sin?

  41. Abe: So why did you not spend a few minutes to explain to your son, in your own words, about your understanding of “mask of whiteness”? There is a chance, isn’t there, that his FilAm sociology professor understanding of “mask/white” differs from yours.
    And has your son reacted to the Pastor Wright “…God damn America!!!” sermon-snippet? I’m curious how your American-born raised in the USA raised-under-your-tutelage FilAm son reacts to what you asked me:

    “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant?! Because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our front yard? Americans chickens are coming home to roost.”

    Where did Rev. Wright lie?

  42. abe, what exactly are those “CODAL items” that i left unanswered? do i have to dispute each colloquy line by line? and what’s this “sexist overtone” in my reference to “a man consoling a female candidate”. isn’t your transcript about a supposed conversation between a man and a woman? let’s just say you, codal and mr. randy david, on one hand, and i, on the other hand, are looking at things under different hues of light. you have your interpretation, i have mine. the way things are, it seems mine prevails because, last time i checked, pgma is still the president, and no one has been charged or prosecuted in connection with the mr. david’s alleged “political fraud and electoral fixings”. of course, i know, you will blame the “system” again for that, and i quite understand you people’s impatience with democratic processes and – pardon my usual “catchprase”, the rule of law.

    as to the the infamous “hyatt 10”, they all served at the pleasure of, and for as long as they are trusted by, the president. at the time they left, they all had standing resignation made long before the emergence of the alleged wiretapped tape. all the president did was accept their resignation, and thus saved them from the humiliation of being fired. despite the air of self-righteousness in their termination, i don’t see anything specially honorable in what led to it, on their part.

    as regards obama, there’s a number of apt cliches i can think of. “action speaks louder than words” and “you’ll be known by the kind of company you keep” – concerning his 20-year or so close association with wright, marrying him with his wife, baptizing their children and being his personal mentor, spiritual advisor and pastor. btw, bush has taken heavy flak just for visiting the reputably-racist bob jones university. not much is known about obama, but from what is now being revealed incrementally, it seems he is not what he is cracked up to be. if he gets past hillary, the republicans will eat him alive just like john kerry with his anti-war testimony after serving in vietnam.

  43. btw, about the cab driver, if he did what you said he would, he would not live to enjoy the.00001% of $130 million. i doubt he would get it anyway since he and his passenger would not reach the airport alive.

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