Before the bar of history

There are points of no return. These points can either be foreseen or suddenly take place; but if foreseen, then they require people who see what’s looming, to make a decision as to which side they will take.

President Marcos proclaimed Martial Law on September 23, 1972, antedating it to September 21, and actually signing his proclamation on September 22. The Constitutional Convention elected in 1971 had to endure some of its delegates being arrested while others, caught by martial law overseas, in exile. A background on the controversies that hounded that convention can be found in my entry, Why revolts fail, from May 1, 2006, including an extract from Delegate Augusto Caesar Espiritu on the pressure on the delegates to sign a charter practically hand-written by Marcos himself.

Anyway, as the the main decision in Javellana v. Executive Secretary itself chronicles, on November 29, 1972, the Constitutional Convention finished its work, complete with a grinning Diosdado Macapagal handing over the document to Ferdinand Marcos at the Executive Building. The next day, November 30, 1972, Marcos issued a Presidential Decree submitting the proposed constitution to the people for ratification in a plebiscite scheduled on January 15, 1973.

Cases were then filed in court questioning the Marcos decree, on the grounds that the 1935 Constitution could only be replaced by following the constitution’s provisions concerning the ratification of a new charter; among these provisions was that only Congress could call for a plebiscite and appropriate the funds required to hold one.

As the Supreme Court itself noted, meanwhile, on December 17, 1972, Marcos issued an order “temporarily suspending the effects of Proclamation No. 1081”, to allow free and open debate on the proposed charter -the absence of these freedoms having provided the basis for the plebiscite’s being challenged before the courts- but on December 23, 1972, Marcos suddenly announced he was postponing the plebiscite. He then formalized his announcement by issuing General Order No. 20 on January 7, 1973, postponing the plebiscite “until further notice.” He then suspended his suspension of Martial Law!

The Court then noted that up to that point, it had refrained from deciding challenges to Marcos’s call for a plebiscite, since the main grounds for the cases was that only Congress could make that call; and Congress, it noted, was due to meet in regular session on January 22, 1973.

Then Marcos announced (January 1, 1973) that instead of a plebiscite, “Citizen’s Assemblies” would be convened from February 19 to March 5, 1973; over the next few days the questions to be asked changed; and finally, the date for the assemblies would be January 10-15, 1973. Eventually it emerged that the Citizen’s Assemblies would be asked to ratify the new constitution.

The Court tried to deliberate with dispatch, but as the Chief Justice noted in the decision,

On the same date January 15, 1973 the Court passed a resolution requiring the respondents in said case G. R. No. L-35948 to file “file an answer to the said motion not later than 4 P.M., Tuesday, January 16, 1973,” and setting the motion for hearing “on January 17, 1973, at 9:30 a.m.” While the case was being heard, on the date last mentioned, at noontime, the Secretary of Justice called on the writer of this opinion and said that, upon instructions of the President, he (the Secretary of Justice) was delivering to him [the writer] a copy of Proclamation No. 1102, which had just been signed by the President. Thereupon, the writer returned to the Session Hall and announced to the Court, the parties in G. R. No. L-35948 inasmuch as the hearing in connection therewith was still going on and the public there present that the President had, according to information conveyed by the Secretary of Justice, signed said Proclamation No. 1102, earlier that morning.

Recently Mon Casiple recounted to me how, in those anxious days, opponents of Marcos had gotten hold of copies of the proposed constitution with notations and amendments in Marcos’s distinctive handwriting; this information as well as efforts undertaken by some of the delegates, suggested to Marcos that if an honest plebiscite were to be held, the proposed constitution would be rejected and presidential elections would have to be held in November, 1973.

Marcos had no intention of going, not after his great autogolpe, but he was also nervous over the possibility that the initiative he’d seized by proclaiming martial law might be lost, as his opponents caught their breath and public opinion was given a chance to rally around institutions such as Congress or the courts. Congress, as I wrote 12 years ago in The Road to Edsa, was easily attended to by Marcos:

…the traditional opposition, meeting in different houses after Ninoy Aquino’s arrest to console themselves rather than to conspire. So reminiscent of the meeting of Filipino politicians in Speaker Yulo’s House, as the Japanese were about to occupy Manila in 1942. During these meetings, the idea of convening a special session of Congress to declare Proclamation 1081 null and void was brought up-one of which was said to have taken place in Ninoy’s cell (an unlikely story). The following day the legislative building was occupied by troops who “dismantled the offices, carting away equipment, tables and chairs.” Someone had squealed or the rooms were bugged.

The first priority of Martial Law had been to silence the media and arrest critics; then, with the armed forces as the battering ram, to subdue Congress and intimidate the Supreme Court. Subsequently, to keep holding referenda to validate the dictator’s acts.

The last obstacle to Marcos’s ambitions, though, was the Supreme Court. And when it failed, essentially by throwing up its hands and pleading that it had been overtaken by events, Marcos could heave a big sigh of relief knowing that what a legal system ordains, even if not just, enjoys the presumption of regularity.

If Marcos sensed that a free and fair plebiscite would have rejected the proposed 1973 Constitution, and that furthermore, if he knew the Supreme Court was inclined to agree with those who argued only Congress could call for a plebiscite, and appropriate funds for that purpose; and if Marcos knew, further, that if Congress convened, it might start holding inconvenient debates on Martial Law: then he couldn’t allow Congress to convene and he couldn’t allow a free and fair plebiscite. But if he padlocked Congress and held a sham referendum, there would still be the problem of the Supreme Court declaring him, the man who’d proclaimed the Constitution his “passionate obsession,” essentially an outlaw, a usurper. But put another way, if the Supreme Court raised no obstacle to his actions, however constitutionally unsound, then ex post facto, the court would legalize what was done extraconstitutionally.

And this is what the Supreme Court precisely did; and by doing so, it guaranteed that the burden of proof would shift from Marcos to his critics, as far as whether his regime was justified or not.

This defining moment, and how, for courts, it comes to defining decisions,is what I tried to point out in my Arab News column for this week, Why a Chief Justice Would Think of Resigning.

In my column I quoted Justice Antonio Carpio’s recollection (in A Reminder to Justices) of how law students at the time, reacted to Javellana v. Executive Secretary, and how that decision has come to haunt all subsequent high courts:

I was a second year student at the U.P. College of Law when the Supreme Court handed down Javellana. In my eyes as a law student, the gods of Padre Faura, supposedly the last bulwark of democracy in our country, fell from their high pedestals the day they decided Javellana…

Now, whenever a major constitutional issue comes up before the Court, I always ask myself and even some of my colleagues, could this be our Javellana…?

Marcos, in his diary, said in his own version of events, that the Justices were spineless, were more concerned with keeping their jobs, and susceptible to his great gifts of argumentation. While he never caused publication of his diary during his lifetime, independent of him, the public arrived at the same conclusion.

It is in the context of Chief Justice Concepcion’s travails that the recent behavior of Chief Justice Puno needs to be understood; and why the public statements of the Chief Justice have been echoed by many lawyers. In the Concepcion court, by some accounts the crucial votes were provided (in favor of Marcos) by Justices Querube Macalintal and Fred Ruiz Castro, both of whom were appointed Chief Justice by Marcos; while Marcos doesn’t really mention Macalintal, we know that after he retired from the high court, he became Marcos’s decorative Speaker of the Batasang Pambansa, while Castro is quoted by Marcos in his diary as being a cooperative kind of fellow.

In his column for today, A sense of propriety, Manuel Buencamino clearly spells out why Justices need to zealously avoid even the hint of impropriety during their deliberations:

Teresita Leonardo-de Castro wrote the ponencia despite allegations she was appointed to the Supreme Court as a reward for convicting former President Joseph Estrada of plunder. The allegation may or may not be true, but it is there, so out of delicadeza, she should have inhibited herself from the Neri case.

Arturo Brion arrived at the Court after all the proceedings, except the voting, had been completed – but that did not stop him from voting in favor of Neri.

Lawyer Teddy Te said of the two justices: “There is an unsurprising lack of shame in Brion voting on a petition where he did not participate and where popular sentiment held that his appointment was precisely to forestall the effects of a Velasco inhibition. There is also an uncharacteristic lack of delicadeza in De Castro writing for the majority, where her appointment was clearly seen as a reward for convicting Estrada” Amen.

There was a clamor for Presbitero Velasco to recuse himself because he was reportedly a close friend and golfing buddy of Neri. He denied they were close, he said they only played golf once, and then he closed his eyes and covered his ears.

Leonardo Quisumbing, although not an Arroyo appointee, has two members of his family who are. His wife is chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, courtesy of Gloria Arroyo. His daughter is executive director with the rank of undersecretary in the Presidential Human Rights Committee, the Palace in-house body tasked with defending the obscene human-rights record of the Arroyo administration.

Renato Corona cannot claim Neri is just an acquaintance. He and Neri were high-school classmates at the Ateneo. In addition, they were together in Malacañang; Corona as Palace chief of staff before Gloria appointed him to the Supreme Court, and Neri as Neda chief before he was transferred to the Commission on Higher Education for trying to moderate greed.

Corona’s association with Neri, without even mentioning the indiscretion of Mrs. Corona signing a manifesto supporting Gloria Arroyo, should have been ample reason for inhibition.

To be fair, Supreme Court justices are human; their decisions are neither infallible nor completely free of human frailties.

“Our judges,” as Thomas Jefferson said of his country’s magistrates, “are as honest as other men and not more. They have the same passions for party, for power and the privilege of their corps.”

That’s why it’s vital that those who sit on the bench take great pains to act with propriety. They must always appear to be above and beyond reproach.

The issue is not whether such questions or even impressions are fair or unfounded; but once made, they can only harm the Court just as they tarnish individual Justices, because eliminating all doubt would have been so easy: inhibition.

But they didn’t inhibit themselves; they did so, despite the questions raised; this guarantees the questions will continue to be raised and their decision not to inhibit themselves placed in the context of the decision itself, and the circumstances surrounding that decision.

Following up on its report, SC ruling on Neri shows a Palace-controlled court: sources, which described how the Palace lobbied for a favorable decision, ABS-CBN and Newsbreak yesterday published Inside story: SC justices had pre-determined votes on Neri case, written by Marites Vitug. These articles explain why inhibiting themselves was not an option for the Justices being questioned, because their inhibiting themselves, based on their voting records, would have necessarily led to a defeat for the administration.

Here’s Vitug’s account:

The justices voted even before reading the final draft of the decision.

The vote of 9 to 6 in favor of Neri was done at about noon of March 25 – but the decision was signed in the afternoon. The justices were given time to make changes in their opinions, including de Castro, who came up with a third and final draft at about 3 PM.

One justice, we learned, did not get to read the ponencia until Tuesday morning – and voted with the majority.

We gathered that in the morning of March 25, during the en banc meeting, de Castro came up with a second draft because it was pointed out that her ponencia “went overboard”, according to sources privy to the deliberations. The revisions “toned down” the ponencia.

…The Supreme Court (SC) was under public pressure to arrive at a decision as the Senate was still in the midst of investigating the alleged bribery in the NBN deal. Senate inquiries were carried live on national TV and widely covered by the media.

It was also unusual that the SC announced the date they were going to hand down their decision. A lawyer with access to the SC said that “the nation awaited the (SC) decision.”

Thus, even before de Castro submitted her ponencia, several justices had already circulated their separate opinions. Chief Justice Reynato Puno decided in favor of the Senate in his extraordinarily long (120 pages) and history-laden opinion. Justices Antonio Carpio, Alicia Carpio-Morales and Consuelo Ynares-Santiago were on the same side as Puno.

Ynares-Santiago was not in the en banc meeting but she left a 10-page opinion before she took off for her overseas trip.

On the other side, favoring Neri and the executive, five justices filed their separate opinions: Arturto Brion, who was barely a week on the job, Renato Corona, Dante Tinga, Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Presbitero Velasco, Jr.

After the majority voted with de Castro, the minority justices renamed their separate opinions to dissenting opinions. Those in the majority renamed theirs concurring opinions.

…Lawyers with access to the Supreme Court tell us that the voting outcome, 9 to 6, and the justices who would be on each side, were almost predictable.

Among those who voted in favor of Neri, six have been seen to consistently vote in favor of the administration: Renato Corona, Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Dante Tinga, Minita Chico-Nazario, Presbitero Velasco, and de Castro.

Two justices who joined this group were described as “straddlers” – Leonardo Quisumbing and Ruben Reyes – because they positioned themselves in the middle and did not make their votes known until the last minute.

Quisumbing and Reyes did not write their separate opinions. In the final decision, both signed “In the result”, meaning, they agreed with the conclusion but not with the stated reasons.

…Former Senator Jovito Salonga, in a separate interview with ABS-CBN, said that this kind of voting is “unconstitutional.” He cited the Constitutional provision which states that judges and justices should always come up, in their decisions, with the facts of the case, the law, and their conclusion. This way, the judges and justices are prevented from voting without reasons.

“That’s a nothing vote,” a former Supreme Court justice said, referring to “In the result” kind of voting. “That’s part commentary on the justices who were either unprepared or were pressured.”

This way of voting is tolerated, however, in the Supreme Court and has even become a common practice, lawyers we talked to said…

Two things have thus emerged out of the Neri case. One, the Supreme Court justices had pre-determined votes and they voted along partisan lines. Two, the chief justice’s leadership style – he is not one to build consensus – failed to encourage a full debate.

While it is a fact that the Supreme Court is an institution that is not insulated from the politics of the times, what is worrisome, some say, is that it has become partisan…

…What the process shows, in this case, is that most of the justices had fixed positions. “Discussions could go on but no one would change his or her position,” one of the lawyers with intimate knowledge of the High Court said.

In this setting then, what role does a chief justice play?

“It is not necessary for the chief justice to build consensus,” one lawyer who has studied the Supreme Court said. “But he or she should encourage full debate especially in such an important case.”

So the issue at hand is larger than whatever the present decision being debated contains; it is about the process surrounding the Court’s handing down that decision, a process which reveals what was at stake for the Palace and which required those sympathetic to the Palace to ignore questions that would have made previous Justices blush and inhibit themselves.

Last Sunday’s Inquirer editorial, The bar of history, called for the entire legal profession to recognize the crisis of confidence facing the Supreme Court. The editorial contains two quotes from Cynthia Ozick‘s essay, “Of Christian Heroism”:

Three ‘participant’ categories of the Holocaust are commonly named: murderers, victims, bystanders. Imagination demands a choosing. Which, of this entangled trio, are we? Which are we most likely to become?

and this (which appeared here back in 2006 as a Quote of the day):

When a whole population takes on the status of bystander, the victims are without allies; the criminals, unchecked, are strengthened; and only then do we need to speak of heroes. When a field is filled from end to end with sheep, a stag stands out. When a continent is filled end to end with the compliant, we learn what heroism is. And alas for the society that requires heroes.

Alas, indeed, whether in the context of something unprecedented like the Holocaust or a political crisis, because what was formerly, for all, simple citizenship, and what was once expected of everyone, that people, as individuals and members of a community, act according to the bare minimum of what’s expected of humanity, suddenly, doing simply decent things takes on the aspect of the heroic: which is galling to those who excuse their own inaction, not least because those fulfilling their duties are no different from those justifying their refusal to act.

The Marocharim Experiment, in another but related context (Jun Lozada, and in answer to an anonymous critic who therefore stands in for many others in the “anti-anti-Arroyo” camp) offers an eloquent rebuttal to those who feel galled:

[Y]ou refuse to lay a single finger on that other suspected corrupt government official, the President herself. Why? “Because there is no alternative to GMA.”

Since when? So you’re telling me that when she committed that infamous “lapse in judgment” years ago, she did it because “there was no alternative?” I’ll give you alternatives to the President that I’m sure you will dispute. I’m sure you will disagree with me that the Vice President, the Senate President, the president of your local women’s club, the president of the jeepney association, are alternatives to Mrs. Arroyo. There is no such thing as “no alternative.”

You say your parents fought at EDSA. Mine did, too. They pushed for alternatives to Marcos at a time when “there was no alternative to Marcos.” Why can’t we do the same? Since when did GMA become the permanent President of the Philippines?

As Rousseau writes: “The strongest is never strong enough to be always the master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty.” This is the backbone of the social contract. Mrs. Arroyo has transformed strength into might, and obedience into passivity. She has violated the social contract: EO 464, emergency powers, political killings, media violence, holiday economics, and the “mere” fact that she “protected her votes” in 2004.

* * *

“Anonymous” claims that we can’t oust GMA, much less can GMA remove herself from office, because “the law does not say otherwise.” He/she asks: “What did you do about it, save for shouting in the streets?”

Pardon the childish retort: what did YOU do about it?

I shouted in the streets demanding for justice and fairness because my vote was compromised. My future was jeopardized. Why? It was the only thing I can do: to exercise my Constitutionally protected right to voice out my discontent.

You, on the other hand, tolerated it. You allowed it to happen. In your blind, passive, non-critical support of the President who can do no wrong, you allowed this to happen. You exercised your right to remain silent. Here’s the strange part: you were never arrested. You cannot invoke the right to remain silent when you are free. When your freedoms are violated, you should be anything but silent, much less anonymous.

So I guess I cannot blame the President for everything after all. Let’s face it: as a “savage anti-GMA fanatic,” I only have YOU to blame for this. Now doesn’t that suck? You, in your search for truth and in all your bravado of patriotism, allowed the President to call a COMELEC official, allowed her to “protect her votes,” and in effect, you are allowing her to hush up over the NBN-ZTE deal.

How patriotic of you. What a hero you are. Shame on you. No, to reiterate, damn you.

* * *

Which brings me to those two words. I did not “invent” that “moral code.” You know why you feel so insulted with a “Damn you?” Because it burns in deep, dude. It hits you right on the spot. I’m not asking you to back up your version of the truth: I’am demanding that you stand by your version of the truth. That you man up to it. At this point, you don’t.

And this continues to be relevant in the case of the Supreme Court. The decision has consequences -and they are being felt even now.

Today’s Inquirer editorial, Three monkeys, points to the immediate consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision -consequences, incidentally, independent of what the decision itself may have said, or even intended, or even how, rationally, the decision should be interpreted, much less implemented, since, as lawyers are eager to point out, it isn’t a doctrinal decision.

But whether it’s a doctrinal decision, or not, is beside the point -the point is, it’s effects are there, for all the world to see. And if there are those who would tolerate or even applaud those effects, there are others who won’t stand by as it happens.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

86 thoughts on “Before the bar of history

  1. i am conflicted right now… i have for a few weeks now stood by defending the institutions of this democracy.

    but there is a difference between people and institutions.

    and all it takes is putting the wrong people at the head of our institutions to undermine what they stand for.

    is it a failing of the institution? or a defect in the people? does it matter?

  2. tonio, it’s the argument people have been having for some time. an individual’s acts can strengthen or erode the institution he represents, the powers of which he wields. strong institutions working with others often build up mechanisms to limit the damage any single individual or small group can cause; but even the best organized systems can break down in the hands of the wrong people or when those people start wielding the powers of their institution for the wrong ends or are heedless of the consequences of their actions.

    some believe the decision only settles the particular issue at hand, and since it lacked the votes, isn’t doctrinal; but others argue that whether this is objectively the case, in reality, the decision is being used to justify a wide-sweeping clampdown on information, and blanket assertions of executive privilege. another question is whether this is really an unintended consequences (which acquits the justices of blame) or whether it was a foreseeable consequence of the decision (which makes the justices a party to palace which wanted such a decision).

  3. MLQ3:

    Thank you for the thoughtful reading and quoting of my (rather caustic) entry from a few days back. I have to agree with you: it is indeed a tragedy and a damned shame when even the most basic and fundamental demands of citizenship becomes already too much for others. These are things that, in my view, are inexcusable and unjustifiable. Not because of a lack of education, but a lack of empathy.

    On the SC issue: I really hope it is not a failing of the basic principles of justice, because way the majority penned its decision on upholding executive privilege for Mr. Neri looks like they failed to make justice work.

  4. “True SCOTUS has never adjudged a case that pitted Presidential Executive Privilege and Congressional Power of Inquiry. The reason, from my reading of the US Congressional Oversight Manual, is that NO U.S. President has ever allowed it to get that far, and that in every case has somehow either given up the information to Congress, or convinced it that the reasons were in the national interest not to divulge!”

    In the matter of the Senate Watergate Committee, Nixon first released transcripts and then later some tapes which were doctored to the committee.

    In the matter of the subpoena requested by the then Special Prosecutor (Executive Department) in the trial in the court of Judge Sirica, with the judge then issuing the subpoena, Nixon released some tapes and asked for the quashing of the subpoena.

    His lawyer then told the court that the issue was a problem within the executive department and anyway Nixon had executive privilege over the other tapes requested.

    The judge refused to quash the subpoena and both Jaworski and Nixons lawyer elevated the issue to the SC.

    Nixon then made executive privilege his last line of defense.

    After failing to satisfy both the Senate Committee, the Court and the special prosecutor with selective releases he had no choice but to test his theory of executive privilege to defend (we later now know) was a grand cover up of his knowledge of a crime.

    Three co-equal parts of government working on parallel tracks acting as check and balance on the abuse of power. That brought Nixon down.

    The U.S. SC taking cognizance of issue on national security even ruled that the Judge in the case could review the tapes in executive session and only use what facts would be vital and relevant in the criminal prosecution.

    In the personal circumstance of the sitting President, the tapes released gave the proof positive of criminal wrongdoing of Nixon and his impeachment and conviction became certain and he resigned.

    If the Neri decision of the SC stands then the Chief Justice will have no choice but to step down as the final vestige of a check on the abuse of power of a sitting executive will have been removed.

    A major imbalance of power will exist. The only weapon of the legislature being the power of legislation/oversight. Without that there are no checks and limitations.

  5. We’ll debate about this to death, pouring out all our intellect, wring it dry ’til maybe blood would drip. Then we ask: what the hell was it all about, by the way?

    Three questions! Yes, Moses, three f**king questions whose answers could potentially cause war with China!

    I bet you Mr. Neri’s laughing himself silly…

  6. Marck

    there is an altrenative in rallying in the streets,
    and it is called lobbying on your district’s congressman..
    you can also try lobbying on party lists or other interest groups, form coalitions with each other. show a united front, then collectively pressure officials who can make your dream of ousting the President possible.

    the problem with you is that you are only content in voicing your complaints in blogs, over drinking sessions, and in some argument inside a jeepney hoping that something will happen

    furthermore, shouting in the streets is a primitive form of getting the justice you want. protests are sterile threats, and serve only to ire daily routines of other people who do not care, who are in the middle, or who do not share your opinion. you gain less people by agitating them and making them uncomfortable. thus, strengthening your enemies further.

    press conference, street protest in the posh streets of Makati, is that all you can do?

  7. Tonio: I’m on it already hahaha

    Ricelander: A war with China is going to be brutal… I don’t think we stand a chance. But hey they could attack us anytime they want with or without any go signal.

  8. War?

    Over an insignificant piece of territory that can possibly produce a booger-sized output of China’s oil produce which then have to be shared with 2 other insignificant and poor countries?


  9. liam, sterile threats? why did the president hide in camp crame on feb. 29, and why then did the house back down from pursuing a constitution crisis on amending the constitution in december 2006? and have you ever tried lobbying a congressman?

  10. i guess it’s time to check the job ads… for work abroad. – tonio

    Ah…the “Benign0 solution.” 😉

  11. You dont lobby a congressman. You pay tribute or make him your newborn’s “ninong”. That, my friend, is the Filipino way.

  12. hvrds,

    the key difference between US vs. Nixon and Neri vs. senate is the pending criminal investigations. The tapes are necessary in the prosecution of the accused. thats why when Nixon refused to surrender them, it can really be said that he is covering up a crime

    but in Neri vs. Senate, the answers to the 3 questions are not needed in the prosecution of any criminal investigation. definitely his answers to the 3 questions are not needed in the ombudsman case against Abalos for bribery. so how can it be said that there’s a cover up?

    theres no cover up. gloria gave the green light to the project, despite receiving Neri’s warning of an Abalos bribery attempt

  13. Sir Liam:

    I’m not saying that going to the streets is the only form of resistance. I agree with you: writing the Congressman is a good idea. I agree with you: party-list representation is a good idea. But if all this is for ousting the President, then there’s no good idea. Genuine change can only be achieved through genuine resistance, and an action towards resistance. The problem with some people is that their refusal to resist is something they equal to “peace” and “harmony.” I ask you very respectfully sir: since when?

    Haven’t we all been taught that evil triumphs when good people do nothing? All I’m asking for (it’s in this entry here is resistance. It can come in any shape or form, not just rallying. If we continue to remain passive and not resist, change will never come. We’ll be stuck here. If we do not voice out our discontent, we will continue to be violated. If we do not demand justice in whatever way we can, we will never get it.

    I resist because I hope something will happen because I resisted. People will not agree with me all the time, and people will tell me to shut the f**k up because they’d rather have what they are already sure of, than taking a risk to have what they are entitled to. That, Sir Liam, is the reason why I try, in my own small way, to contribute to the resistance against this government: resistance is not futile.


  14. Liam Tinio:

    Unless, of course, the oil deposit isn’t booger-size.

    Ah, but who are we kidding. This country’s in no position to enforce any claim to the Spratlys. We know it and they know it.

  15. You dont lobby a congressman. You pay tribute or make him your newborn’s “ninong”. That, my friend, is the Filipino way. – Acda

    WAHAHAHAHAHA some Filipino’s way hehehe

  16. mlq3

    hide? wouldnt malacanang be the best refuge? with all its guards and safeties? camp crame? eh nilusutan nga ng abu sayaf prisoner yan di ba? the failure of the 2006 rather stemmed from the advent of the 2007 elections..

    @marck and mlq3

    protests and rallies are good things ONLY if it can be translated into something that can realize your goals.

    what your protests did was to alienate the very congressmen, who hold the power of elevating the impeachment complaint to the senate where you, at least, have a chance.
    you assumed that your representatives are on GMA’s side, and branded them evil. instead of winning them over, you gave them names as tongressmen, and crocodiles. thus sealed your fate.

    lobbying a congressman is easy, provided that you are influential, if you are not, get someone who is, if there isnt, organize your scattered sheep and make it into a formidable interest group. congressmen will only listen to those who can challenge his position. each one of us has political clout. use it to your advantage.

  17. liam, you can go back to my entries at the time to see why the president preferred to go to crame than hunker down in the palace. either way she had to hunker down.

    as for lobbying congressmen, well, there’s your view and what the congressmen themselves have said. behind the scenes they’ll bluntly say the deciding issue is who pays out their pork barrel. from their point of view, it’s not the public, whoever and how many of them lobby them. because there are many things that can neutralize public opinion, for a congressman, who has a precise territory to guard: and the pork barrel funds neutralizing whatever form that opinion might take.

    you and i must be talking to very different congressmen.

  18. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

    Walden or Life in the Woods
    – Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

    How can we live deliberately when we do not have the power to choose? When the one great equalizer – the power to vote, can be negated?

    Let us continue the fight, the outrage, the noise, continue the pressure on all fronts!

  19. “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!”

    Winston Churchill

  20. from abs-cbnnewdotcom

    “GMA ‘politically weak’ but will finish her term–Eurasia”

    While corruption charges will continue to preoccupy President Gloria Arroyo’s remaining two years in office, she will not be unseated but she will be unable to implement major reforms.

    But the next president in 2010 will likely have more leeway to implement political reforms, a New York-based political risk analysis group said.

    “We are pessimistic about the short-term political prospects for the country, especially that before the 2010 presidential elections,” Roberto Herrera-Lim, Southeast Asian analyst of New York headquartered political risk consulting firm, Eurasia Group, said in an email interview with abs-cbnnewsdotcom/Newsbreak.

    But Herrera-Lim predicts that efforts to unseat president Arroyo will fail—unless the opposition groups are able to address all the issues that divide the political, social and other institutions that, in the past, have formed the critical mass that ousted previous presidents.

    Even with the government’s credibility problems, these groups—the middle class based in Manila, the elites, the judiciary, the church, as well as other institutions or groups, such as the academe, business community and military—are divided over the corruption scandals that the opposition-dominated Senate have raised against President Arroyo. These include kickback allegations in the $329-million botched broadband deal that dragged the President’s husband and several of her cabinet officials in the picture.

    President Arroyo has the economic gains in the past years to thank. “The economy has done reasonably well since 2005, and we can argue that a fair proportion of this growth has benefited Metro Manila’s residents. Therefore, the larger middle class is unwilling to tempt outcomes that could threaten economic stability. And for them, this is a substantial risk, because there is no clear post-Arroyo scenario from the opposition.”

    Divided elite

    The Arroyo administration, reckoned Herrera-Lim, has protected its back better than the Estrada Administration. “It has recognized the formula that divided institutions will more likely prevent a critical mass from forming. Estrada probably thought that as long as he held his ground in the Senate, he would survive. The Arroyo administration has done the opposite. It has conceded the Senate, but held its ground in the key institutions that shape public opinion and mobilize the population.”

    But with only about two years to go before the 2010 national elections, Herrera-Lim said, “we believe that it will be very difficult for the opposition to coherently address all the issues that divide the key constituencies, elites and organizations on the question of President Arroyo’s political future.”

    The next president, however, will have more latitude to carry on political and economic reforms. “We believe that the 2010 elections will potentially have corruption and political reform as key issues, which could help constrain large-scale corruption—especially the type that the administration is being accused of,” Herrera-Lim concluded.

    as optimistic as the news above that election will take place in 2010, i say, Mar Roxas or Manny Villar for president.


    DAY 33

  21. selective rule of law is what we have. rule of law is being subverted and corrupted by those in power.

    it is a sad sad and dark chapter in our history as a filipino nation!
    what a shame 🙁

  22. pressure our tongressmen? have you met or know some of them personally? you still believe they will get rid of their source of biyaya? have you seen how they turn against their former ally, jdv, when promised of more power and money? they(pro-administration) are beyond reasoning.

    do you think lobbying our assemblymen during marcos’ time would have worked? it was the non-stop street protest (that may have inconvenienced you).

    you get yourself familiarized with reality and local politics. politics of patronage that is.

  23. It is uncanny how little this country has progressed since 1971. The Benign0s are still around except they can do their kibitzing safely by email from Manhattan and brag about their cog in the wheel of a great nation they had little to do with building when it was the foundations being laid and not the oh so difficult task of moving into some tenement that Liberty generously opened to them.

    But I’m proud of you MLQ3! All who fell in the dark night, and all who luckily survived, know their sacrifices, big or small or even insignificant, were not in vain, because the ideas and ideals they fought and died for somehow live on. In Filipinos like you.

    Dean Jorge Bocobo

  24. meanwhile, in another part of the world where leaders are made of better stuff than GMA

    “”While I will be the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes in my life and in my career, one mistake I’ve never made was to enrich myself by misusing the trust of the people.

    “I have never received a corrupt payment and I’ve never done anything to dishonour any office that I’ve ever held.”” – Irish Premiere Ahern RESIGNS to go to court and defend himself against corruption ALLEGATIONS.

    Contrast that to Bitch GMA who is stonewalling and hiding under executive privilege! If she has nothing to hide, come out bitch.

  25. Before the bar of history: – mlq3

    Is it “Killing Me Softly” of Philippine democracy? Or, “Die Hard, infinity”?

  26. …because there are many things that can neutralize public opinion, for a congressman, who has a precise territory to guard: and the pork barrel funds neutralizing whatever form that opinion might take. -mlq3

    Obviously, no congressman will admit to mlq3 or any media-person that he/the congressman can be bought. So do above words mean — the non-NCR areas will not re-elect a congressman who loses the pork barrel because he stood for a higher issue? Or is it that the “higher issue” is not a high issue for the non-NCR areas?

    Brings me back to what is a statement from many bishops. Their observation — “livelihood” is the top issue, not Garci.

  27. UPn Student, i can understand how for poor people, ‘livelihood’ is the main issue. How about you? You’re already rich, so what’s your excuse?

  28. The Zimbabwe model :
    The ruling party leadership’s willingness to sacrifice Mugabe is faced with a reality-check. What will the after-Mugabe government do with several issues. Among them: (1) pursue legal action against Mugabe, others for crimes and corruption? (2) purge a military built more to battle Mugabe’s enemies than outside forces? (3) reverse the land seizures that began in 2000 and return commercial farms to their previous owners, most of them white?

    “If he gives this land back to the whites, then we have a problem with him,” a businessman said.

  29. Brings me back to what is a statement from many bishops. Their observation — “livelihood” is the top issue, not Garci. – UP n

    Yes, to be realistic about it, its poverty, rice shortage, skyrocketing prices, etc. that concern ordinary folks. Not the high politics issues.

    The administration’s handling of the rice shortage will be make or break.

  30. “Ricelander: A war with China is going to be brutal… I don’t think we stand a chance. But hey they could attack us anytime they want with or without any go signal.”

    The war with China has long been ongoing, and we have the upperhand. Esperon said he will decimate what remains of the advance party in a few months.

  31. Livelihood is not — never has been — in the top 10 issues for the Philippine Supreme Court.

    The Philippine Supreme Court justices were right there to be reached (i.e. lobbied) with arguments of evidence, fairness and justice.

  32. Bert: Philippine agricultural productivity — GDP per capita or output-per-arable hectare — may rise when China starts tilling the Philippine land it has obtained rights to. No one should be surprised if the output becomes exports, no different from the output of the Mindanao plantations.

  33. From NPR:(National Public Radio)

    Why has executive privilege been such a contentious issue?

    Because it is at the fulcrum of a very delicate balancing act — between a president’s right to candid advice and Congress’ right to information. Also, executive privilege is a power that political parties tend to support when they control the White House, but abhor when they’re out of power. For that reason, neither party is eager for a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court. For its part, the high court seems to be in no hurry to wade into such contentious constitutional waters.

  34. Our leaders (executive, legislative, judicial) must focus and address the worsening poverty problem. For heavens sake, the poor folks are selling their kidneys!

  35. The Justices themselves could have asked Neri the 3 questions in Private and Judge for themselves if the answers Neri came up warrant granting The Executive Privilege or just clearly to cover up Crimes in which may give the Senate a go ahead and tell them to Roast Him..

    that the Justices were spineless, were more concerned with keeping their jobs, and susceptible to his great gifts of argumentation. While he never caused publication of his diary during his lifetime, independent of him, the public arrived at the same conclusion.

    I think a lot, including me, already arrived at this conclusion at this point in time, and maybe GMA herself and may have already jotted it down in her own diary to be published sometime and hope during her lifetime…

  36. Equalizer: A deterrent to illegal goings-on in the Executive Branch (as well as Legislative Branch) — that under penalty of one or more laws (which, to my knowledge, does not exist):
    (1) all “notes” (electronic, paper, e-mail, fax-transmissions, pictures, etc) taken during meetings should be preserved/archived;
    (2) such “notes” become available to any citizen within 8 years after the event has transpired;
    AND (3) there will be no statute of limitation for crimes and corruption committed by the Executive and Legislative Branch.

    For me, items (1) and (2) are much more important than and Number (3) — statute of limitations.

  37. Equalizer: A deterrent to illegal goings-on in the Executive Branch (as well as Legislative Branch) — that under penalty of one or more laws (which, to my knowledge, does not exist):
    (1) all “notes” (electronic, paper, e-mail, fax-transmissions, pictures, etc) taken during meetings should be preserved/archived;
    (2) such “notes” become available to any citizen within 8 years after the notes were created;
    AND (3) there will be no statute of limitation for crimes and corruption committed by the Executive and Legislative Branch.

    For me, items (1) and (2) are much more important than Number (3) — statute of limitations.

  38. Equalizer: A deterrent to illegal goings-on in the Executive Branch (as well as Legislative Branch) — that under penalty of one or more laws (which, to my knowledge, does not exist):
    (1) all “notes” (electronic, paper, e-mail, fax-transmissions, pictures, etc) taken during meetings should be preserved/archived;
    (2) such “notes” become available to any citizen within 8 years after the notes were created;
    AND (3) there will be no statute of limitation for crimes and corruption committed by the Executive and Legislative Branch.

    For me, items (1) and (2) are more important than Number (3) — statute of limitations.

  39. to cvj: From my point of view, that a large number (majority???) of Filipinos view “livelihood” as more important than Malacanang-leadership does not automaticaly mean that “Malacanang-leadership” is NOT the number one issue for the nation.

  40. It sometimes become responsibility of — the elite??? 😐 — to push forward despite half-hearted support from the majority.

  41. Mike:

    Ah…the “Benign0 solution.”

    yeah, sure sounds like it, eh? but i’ve no family left here (in fact i came back here a few years after all of them migrated) and have been called “that crazy patriot cousin/brother/nephew/grandson of yours who went back” many times already.

    maybe if i head back out i can develop some cynicism, lose all hope for this place, call myself “Bonifaci0” and start commenting from abroad. it’s simple, yeah? 😛

    but seriously, what do we have here? a system stacked against the majority of the people… who’d want to stay in that sort of an environment? i’ve got some marketable skills and mobility is not too hard… i don’t know.

  42. upn, if there is one thing a politician who is bought can do, it is to explain how he’s been bought, without actually saying he’s been bought. but some will be blunt about being bought -so long as it’s off the record.

  43. Does the Constitution allow for executive privilege?

    Nowhere does the Constitution mention the term or the concept of executive privilege. The belief that it does, the late legal historian Raoul Berger once said, is one of the greatest “constitutional myths.”

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