The Praetorian temptation


(image looted from the Interwebs)

My column today is Guns, goons, and gold. Basically, it seems to me more and more obvious that we have a shrinking liberal democratic constituency in Metro Manila and other urban areas of the country, while the rest of the country has been subdivided among warlords fueled by racketeering in smuggling, narcotics, and gambling.

Late last night I returned to Deceive and conquer: why Arroyo will stay in power, blogger Scriptorium‘s marvelous 2007 analysis which has stood the test of time. Unfortunately, the blogger never got around to penning Part II of his analysis, although I suppose his entry on the Chief Justice, The Supreme Court and Philippine politics, comes close; and so I’d like to present an extensive extract from it by way of an introduction to the rest of this entry. Scriptorium writes,

Because of the relative political uniformity of the governing class, we had not felt the politicization of the Court immediately after 1986, but the years since, particularly the controversial accession of the President in 2001, have vastly increased the Court’s profile and the importance of its individual members. This has increased even further in succeeding years due to the polarization of Philippine society between supporters and opponents of the increasing centralization of the patrimonial system.

The supporters, whose offices control government monies, count in their camp the advocates of a patrimonialist democracy on the model of Tammany Hall and, more classily and less cleanly, the Roman Republic. On the other hand, the popular base of the opposition (as distinguished from its politician wing) is composed of non-patrimonialists, among them the urban middle class and the Catholic Church, whose alliance comprises the political Center that guards the Constitution with its Liberal-Social-Christian Democrat orientation; and the Left, both the social democratic and the national democratic factions.

However, as we pointed out earlier… the urban middle class is increasingly enfeebled by social forces, while the loss of her paramount leader and the weakening of her middle-class allies have weakened the Church politically (as we saw when the movement to extend compulsory agrarian reform was defeated in the landlord-dominated Congress, despite vocal support by the Church and a bishop’s actually joining the farmers’ hunger strike). As for the Left, it is too divided between the various hues and sub-hues of revisionists and reaffirmists. This leaves, as the main institutions of Liberal-Social-Christian Democracy, the noisy but fangless Senate and the passive but powerful Supreme Court. The Court in fact has waged a subtle campaign over the past few years to strengthen democratic institutions and human rights, like when it sponsored efforts against the killing of Leftist activists.

Enter the movement to revise the Constitution and create a federal, parliamentary, and unicameral government, which would get rid of term limits, separation of powers, and the gadfly Senate, the main barriers to smooth patrimonial government. With the ambiguity of the provision on constitutional amendment (which, because it was copied from the unicameralist 1973 Constitution, doesn’t say whether the 2 house of Congress would vote jointly or separately), the 1987 Constitution must be interpreted by the Supreme Court to determine whether the Senate can block, as it will certainly try to block, the proposed revision. This makes the decision of the Court critical, and its internal politics much more significant.

His description of the Philippines as a patrimonial democracy is a precise reference to a Sociological term, Patrimonialism:

“a type of rule in which the ruler does not distinguish between personal and public patrimony and treats matters and resources of state as his personal affair.”

An illuminating example is Douglas Webber’s paper on Indonesia as a “Consolidated Patrimonial Democracy”:

The smooth functioning of patrimonial politics requires political competition to be confined to elites and mass political action to be suppressed or at least strictly controlled… Particularistic policies that are the hallmark of patrimonialism can hardly reach ” or benefit ” directly the masses of voters whose support parties and politicians require for their political survival. Rather also in Indonesia – they offend widely-held notions of equality and fairness. Hence, effectively patrimonial parties are forced to appeal for or mobilize support on the basis of “communal affiliation”, personality the (in the case, for example, of Megawati, “inherited”) charisma of their leaders or the moral authority of village heads and/or the coercive capabilities of the military or police…

An interesting note, yet again, is what an Indonesian told me, which was that when the decision was made to directly elect the President of Indonesia, the Indonesians looked at the Philippines and settled on runoff elections to avoid what they believed to be the greatest post-Edsa liability of our system, that is, electing minority presidents. Consider Webber’s description of the Indonesian political pros finding their well-ordered political lives destabilized by more independent-minded voters:

The post-Suharto elections have produced growing signs, however, that the traditional structures and relationship patterns on which successful election campaigning along these lines depends are breaking down. Parties and leaders that are widely perceived to have “failed” in office and/or been very corrupt have been severely punished. Thus, the PDI-P’s vote collapsed between the 1999 and 2004 Parliamentary elections by almost half and its candidate Megawati was comprehensively defeated in the presidential elections. Despite having by far the best party “machine”, the Golkar did much less well in the 2004 Parliamentary and presidential elections that it had hoped and anticipated. Despite the party leadership’s support for Megawati in the second round, voters who identify with the party voted massively instead for Yudhoyono, who defeated Megawati by more than 20 per cent and ran his campaign with a “loose”, but extensive “network of grassroots organizations”, pitting “‘people power’ against Indonesia” traditional mighty party machinery of the Golkar and PDI-P’s … Political parties and leaders steeped in patrimonial traditions seem likely to face harder times in Indonesia: “The assumption that money politics and a strong party machinery are enough to deliver votes no longer holds” … Within many of the established parties, the pressure for internal reforms and more accountable leadership is intensifying. There seems to be a growing chance that the pressures of electoral competition will force parties and politicians to make a break with inherited patrimonial norms and practices. Polyarchal… democracy may thus possess the capacity to propel Indonesia away from its patrimonial political legacies towards a more liberal-democratic political future.

The party machines failed Jose de Venecia in 1998, they didn’t keep Estrada in office in 2001 and didn’t quite hold the line as much as should have been expected for the President in 2004 and in the legislative elections in 2007. The dilemma faced by Indonesian party stalwarts is one similarly faced by their Filipino counterparts, as Scriptorium pointed out.

And here’s something else Scriptorium wrote in his entry on why the President will stay in power, and it has to do with the military:

Lastly, the military will not move against the President. First, it has never moved without a clear opposition-Church-middle-class alliance (the initial 1986 coup and the Oakwood mutiny fizzled out for lack thereof), and such an alliance, as shown above, is presently impossible. Second, the years after 2001 have led to a re-emphasis not on the military’s activist tradition but on its ‘professionalism’, interpreted in the narrow Prussian sense of allegiance to the State. Third, the military leadership has a vested interest in the continuity of the GMA government, especially since her regime, in membership if not in structure, has to a large extent become a civilian-military complex. For one, retired officers now populate appointive posts; and, though the custom of appointing them began under FVR, the present practice is to appoint indiscriminately, whereas FVR at least sifted for true officers and gentlemen like Rodolfo Biazon, Renato De Villa, and Arturo Enrile.

Over the weekend, a text went around advising people to expect a “Retired Military Manifesto” to be posted at General Danny Lim’s blog. The text came from an operator in the camp of former President Estrada, which has been proposing an Estrada-Lim-Puno Triumvirate. As of this writing, the manifesto hasn’t appeared on line. But it does indicate a kind of burning desire to stay relevant as the country seems poised to finally take the plunge and head towards presidential elections in 2010.

Enter the movie Valkyrie, which I saw last week. In Valkyrie, General Ludwig Beck advises his fellow conspirators, “Just remember this is a military operation: nothing ever goes according to plan.”

A year ago, in The seven year itch, I pointed out that those who felt the President had to go had fallen into a trap: the idea that political events can be made to proceed according to a formula: unpopular president + explosive revelations + economic downturn + angry prelates + an appeal to past greatness, based on shared values + get enough people on the streets + officer corps defects = regime change. And yet, as Beck pointed out, “nothing ever goes according to plan.” The politically adroit either plan for all contingencies, or marshal their resources to strike when opportunity arises or as contingencies unfold.

In Cory Aquino: An Intimate Portrait by Friends, there’s a piece contributed by Teodoro Locsin Jr. in which he recounts how Aquino left nothing to chance and didn’t rely on only one plan:

I had just spoken to – well, I suppose I still can’t say the name of this businessman who had just talked to the US ambassador about sending in warplanes. Things weren’t going too well for our side.

I was walking across the sward fronting the Palace over to the office I retained in the Guest House after being fired from the president’s staff – I kept it to the last day of her term.

Amid sharp sounds of gunfire and shelling from not too far away, a presidential security guard, crouching as though he were approaching a helicopter, came up to me. He said the president wanted me at the Arlegui house. I hadn’t told her yet what the businessman, the US ambassador, and I had been up to. I thought it might be about the same matter, but then again it might be about something else. You never knew with her. Cory Aquino never allowed current circumstances to dictate her agenda.

The door opened and I was shown into a parlor rather too sumptuously decorated for both our tastes. “I just had to have you try this cake,” she said and, turning to the maid, added, “give him a generous slice. Maur made it.”

I must say I could not disagree, and I always spoke my mind to her. The cake was just properly moist, excellent in every respect. Most of the thick curtains were drawn so flying glass would not hurt the children, she casually explained, except over the tall window that threw sunlight on the tea table between us. It was afternoon, that time of day.

Meanwhile, the arrangements she had secretly put in place long before, without telling any of us, even her closest advisers, were about to go into effect. Key and hitherto unknown combat officers whom the rebels assumed would side with them would suddenly turn their men and guns on the rebels. In retrospect, I can only compare – but only in respect to the quality of shared aplomb – that placid setting in the soft morning light to the one of Al Pacino standing godfather as the priest intoned, “Do you reject Satan? Do you?” and his men quietly went to work.

This revelation -over a decade after the events described- brings up the interesting problem of trying to learn from, or at least react to, events whose actual circumstances we still don’t clearly understand or fully know.

When the President’s own husband recounted their strategy for bringing down Estrada (see my entry, Mike and Joe: The Second Battle of the Books, where I reproduced Mike Arroyo’s interviews with Nick Joaquin) soon after the events concerned, he did so in a moment of celebratory candor. What strikes me as interesting is that a few years after that, the President’s enemies and former allies seem to have failed to take into account how the tactics that toppled a government in 2001 could have helped keep the successor government in office.

Consider events of more recent vintage, namely 2005. The President had achieved that rare thing, the election of a Vice-President who was her running mate. And yet, as her enemies closed in on her, there was obviously the possibility that the Vice-President would get it into his head that the time had come to step in and offer himself up as a successor. Surely matters must have seemed headed in that direction when, at the height of the unfolding crisis, the Veep flew off to Hong Kong.

One version has it that the Vice-President, upon returning from Hong Kong, was met by a general close to the President and was sternly warned that his life was on the line. Another version, strenuously denied by former Senate President Frank Drilon, is that when the Veep showed signs of being willing to take on the mantle of the presidency, Drilon et al. demanded they should be the ones to select who would be the Executive Secretary -faced with the possibility he’d be a figurehead president, the Veep balked and went home.

Consider, too, that even as all the building blocks of People Power were put in place, the old pros who’d decided to bring down the President failed to bring in an ex-President, Fidel V. Ramos. Faced with being inconsequential, the crafty FVR decided to throw his support behind the President and saved her job.

Consider, as well, 2006, when the armed forces was faced with the dilemma of turning its back on some of its most respected officers and remaining loyal to the President, or turning their backs on their commander-in-chief and betraying what Scriptorium calls their Prussian-style loyalty to the State. One version has it that the Chief of Staff was inclined to support the withdrawal, and that everyone else was poised to fall in line, when negotiations broke down because General Esperon asked for assurances that he wouldn’t be investigated for his possibile complicity in electoral fraud in 2004. The hotheads allegedly refused and denied a win-win solution, Esperon then countered the moves of the hotheads and this caused the Chief of Staff to waver. (Interestingly enough, Ramos in the same book shrewdly notes, in the book on Cory Aquino, in a kind of pointed aside, that no act punishable by the anti-coup law took place in 2006.)

Now we have to consider the background behind the supposed inclination of the top brass of the armed forces to seriously consider, instead of immediately dismissing out of hand, the plan to withdraw support from the commander-in-chief. One could argue that the military was essentially more democratic and civilian in orientation than civilians like the President and her close advisers, as they sought ways to stay in power.

The background to the 2006 attempt to withdraw support is thus the foiled plan to impose martial law in 2005. According to Ellen Tordesillas, the plan was as follows:

A Malacanang source said that in October 2005, when Arroyo was shaking from what the people heard in the “Hello Garci” tapes, she and her hardline advisers were almost ready to impose martial law. They would call it by some other name but the effect would be the destruction of democracy and in its place an Arroyo dictatorship.

The plan, the source said, was to explode a bomb at the Senate at 5 a.m.. Casualties would be avoided with the early morning timing but the explosion in one of the three branches of government would give Arroyo justification to declare martial law. Exactly like the fake ambush of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile which was used by Ferdinand Marcos to declare martial law in 36 years ago.

A businessman in the Arroyo’s circle of  “hawks” asked if the defense secretary (Avelino Cruz) and AFP chief of staff (Generoso Senga) were into the plan. They were not.

When Cruz and Senga were told about it, they objected. A visit by John Negroponte, then the US Director of National Intelligence, who conveyed American disapproval of the martial law option, forced Arroyo to abort the plan.

Newsbreak’s Glenda Gloria in 2007 looked at the foiled martial law plan and the 2006 declaration of a state of emergency as follows:

July to December 2005 was the toughest time for the President. Nearly half her Cabinet left her, she felt under attack, and most of the power blocs surrounding her reinforced that siege mentality. “Each time somebody opposed her, she felt that person wanted to bring her down. She would defend a decision by saying, “but they’re attacking us,” recalls a Cabinet official.

The First Gentleman had been forced into exile and the President’s other pillar, her brother, had turned overnight from a “dove to a hawk,” notes one of the private advisers of the President. Buboy Macapagal soon became the “shadow string-puller in the Palace,” as one senator puts it…

We have it on good authority that Macapagal and Gonzales tried to persuade the President to declare martial law during this period. This move culminated in a visit of Gonzales to Washington, D.C. to drop hints about it to Philippine Ambassador Albert del Rosario, who opposed the idea, according to a friend of Del Rosario’s. (Del Rosario was sacked in June 2006.)

There was a series of top-level meetings about extreme measures to save the President (i.e., media and Left clampdown, arrest of “corrupt” politicians), says an insider, but in the end the idea flopped largely because the security forces – the police and military leaderships – displayed enough body language that said they didn’t have the stomach for it.

Martial law further divided the shadow Cabinet. Drilon had by that time stopped attending the group meetings, but the extreme measures likewise didn’t sit well with Cruz and Villarama, among others.

Buboy Macapagal, too, had stopped attending the meetings, aware that some of his former allies now disagreed with him. The big three businessmen, however, remained influential with the President.

Executive Order 464, which banned Cabinet secretaries from appearing before Senate probes without Palace approval, also divided her official family. Presidential adviser Gabriel Claudio cautioned that this “was a declaration of war,” knowing this would create problems for the chief executive. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and Gutierrez, who was then presidential legal counsel, saw nothing wrong with it, however…

Then came the foiled military coup in February last year. The President declared a state of emergency and, when agitated Marine soldiers tried to barricade their headquarters on February 26, considered shutting down the Lopez-owned ANC cable TV station, which was covering the incident live.

It took a phone call to the President from “someone” in the Iglesia ni Cristo for the hotheads to cool off, says the same Cabinet official. The discovery and subsequent defeat of the coup toughened the view that by this time had begun to run through all the loyalist groups.

It went like this: she’s survived the worst because her opponents are weak and the public doesn’t care. This allows us room to push hard for changes and look even beyond 2010. We had become very comfortable with power, the Cabinet official concedes.

It’s been said that even when the President decided to proclaim a state of emergency in 2006 -using language literally cut-and-pasted from Marcos’s martial law proclamation in 1972- two factions in the cabinet pretty much squared off, with one faction saying it essentially granted the President martial law powers, while another faction, to which the then-Secretary of National Defense Avelino Cruz Jr. belonged, publicly stated there were all sorts of limitations to the President’s powers during a state of emergency.

Returning to Scriptorium, he pointed out that the President took care of “the activist Marines, who were then fed to the cannons in Jolo.” And there they and all officers inclined to insubordination continue to languish.

In a footnote, Scriptorium points to two new blocs that have political potential, as of now, still untapped:

Two special cases should be mentioned: (a) the urban poor, which first became a cohesive bloc as the mass base of former President Estrada, but was neutralized by the suppression of the pro-Estrada protests of May 2001; and (b) organized labour, which has tremendous potential power but whose organization and numbers are exerted for economic and not for political ends. The political mobilization of these groups, as partially occurred for opposing sides in 2001, would end the unchallenged hegemony of liberal-patrimonial politics in the Philippines, but is not likely for the moment.

The question is whether these two “special cases” will matter in a 2010 electoral scenario.

Anyway, returning to the movie, and the dilemma it covered, a point of deep relevance to us is this work, How Much Obedience Does an Officer Need? Beck, Tresckow, and Stauffenberg–Examples of Integrity and Moral Courage for Today’s Officer by Major (General Staff) Dr. Ulrich F. Zwygart. Stauffenberg himself said, “It is time to act. But he who dares must be conscious about the fact that he will be a traitor to German history. If he refrains from doing it, he will be a traitor to his own consciousness.”

The British historian Robert Evans, in Why did Stauffenberg plant the bomb? Argues that the Count, always contemptuous of parliamentary democracy, a romantic nationalist, an unreprentant aristocrat,

There can be little doubt, however, that this would have brought huge military advantages to the Allies, and that the war would have come to an end several months sooner than it did, with the consequent saving of millions of lives.

That alone was justification enough for Stauffenberg’s act. In failing, he failed comprehensively. The war continued: millions more were killed. Anti-democratic, elitist and nationalist, he had nothing to offer the politics of the coming generations, still less the politics of today. In the end, too, for all the desperate heroism of Stauffenberg and his fellow-conspirators, Germany’s honour was not rescued. The conspiracy encompassed only a tiny minority of the German people. The vast majority continued fighting to the end. Most were shocked by the news of the assassination attempt and relieved at Hitler’s survival. As a moral gesture, Stauffenberg’s bomb was wholly inadequate to balance out the crimes that had been committed in Germany’s name and with the overwhelming support, or toleration, or silent acquiescence, of the German people. As the Catholic schoolteacher turned army officer Wilm Hosenfeld noted on 16 June 1943, more than a year before Stauffenberg’s attempt: “With this horrendous murder of the Jews we have lost the war. We have brought an indelible shame upon ourselves, a curse that cannot be lifted. We deserve no mercy, we are all guilty together.”

Yet in A Worthy Conspiracy William Doino Jr. makes this essential point:

Certain academics have an “unappealing habit” of dismissing the 20 July plotters as reactionaries, “while earnestly extolling the self-sacrifices of the underprivileged Communists,” to quote historian Michael Burleigh. But there are no heroic Communists in Valkyrie, and shouldn’t be: most Communists opposed to Hitler, after all, were Stalinists, who simply wanted to replace one murderous dictatorship with another. The honorable Resistance, in contrast – ranging from social democrats to conservative aristocrats – were fighting to rescue and preserve Western civilization.

bonhoefferblog points to the Schwarze Kapelle (Black Orchestra) entry from The Oxford Companion to World War II and in New American, there’s Selywn Duke’s entry on what’s admirable about Stauffenberg and Co.Also see Valkyrie: When is Character Defined? by Julian Park.

The thing that kept bothering me while watching Valkyrie, was that so many cast members had appeared as villains in Conspiracy, yet here were some of the same actors, playing Germans yet again, but this time, with most of them as “good” Germans.

Conspiracy happens to be one of my favorite historical films. Informing it is the concept of the “banality of evil,” as Hannah Arendt made famous in observing Eichmann,played in the film by Stanley Tucci. The film should be required watching for anyone interested in producing results from a meeting. But also, to see how what is legal is not necessarily what is right.

In their blogs, The Marocharim Experiment mulls on the implications of building fences (and not between good neighbors) while The Construct mulls over responses to his entry. This is of course a question of whether one thinks we are all in this together. Recall how, in 2005, Fidel V. Ramos justified his support of the President and what he believed was a golden moment to pursue parliamentary government, by saying he pondered the sight of urban poor communities from his penthouse office, and wondered what would happen if those communities simply got it into their heads to enter the gated communities in their vicinity to loot and pillage to their heart’s content. As the established upper and middle classes find their prosperity on edge, and as a new middle class arises from overseas work, and as the growth of the population means there is now an increasingly permanent underclass without any hope of anything but the most basic subsistence, the Fear of the Other is not only getting pervasive, but has proven itself capable of trumping the appeal of the Left.

Consider, for example, some public reactions to the saturation drives of the armed forces in Central and Northern Luzon under Palparan -how they appreciated the sudden disappearance of drug dealers and drunks, pickpockets and snatchers; similar expressions of appreciation were reported in the wake of military and police saturation drives in urban poor communities in Metro Manila. And how fencing off, and gating off, communities has been in place since the end of World War II. Recall, further, that even as the Diliman Commune took place, residents of the area banded together to form vigilante squads to hunt down rebel students.

Perhaps most troubling, then, is that U.P. is finally returning to a state of harmony with the preferences and attitudes of our broader society.

Additional readings in random ruminations, who was pickpocketedand made this film:

And from Short Term Effect, and I am Nuclear Emo. Also, Grumpy Toast!, The Sweetest Taboo. No consensus on whether ticketholders were denied entrance, or there were gatecrashers, and yes, as radical chick‘s pointed out, more condemnation seems aimed at the punks rather than the organizers of the event.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

61 thoughts on “The Praetorian temptation

  1. It’s a good read.

    If there’s one thing I would have to agree with you – that is the OPPOSITION is WEAK.

    The opposition is weak in two aspects – (1) they have their own personal agenda, thus they are divided. (2) they don’t offer alternative solution to our most pressing problems.

    I disagree that the PUBLIC doesn’t care. Most of us have had enough.

  2. @mlq3, the usual – work, work and more work.

    Work means at least one decent meal for a day.

    … and that would help pumping the economy if all people will work.

    You might say that working means nothing if taxes go to the corrupt officials. I say, be vigilant. The thieves cannot steal in a broad daylight.

    If you’re going to ask me, GMA is the lesser evil.

  3. What I can conclude is that the Philippine military has matured in terms of its understanding as to how the Constitution defines the military’s role in governance. The military has maintained allegiance to the Constitution, relying on the political process (impeachment, not coups) for out-of-cycle overthrow of Malacanang residents as well as having resisted Malacang attempts at martial law.

    In a 33%/33%/33% breakdown (how Pinas population views GMA’s legitimacy as president), Pinas military’s performance is proper.

  4. UP n I agree with you, generally. It’s better for the military to stick to the book and resist extremes from both sides, and also, if the scuttlebutt is true, the military also slowly, but surely, reigned in the Palapran-types so that he wasn’t able to build a permanent assassin squad infrastructure. When the story of the AFP over the past decade gets written it might be a little inspiring.

  5. Kalmante naman pala ang mga orcs eh, kitang kita ang ebidensya sa huling Youtube. Meron pa ngang medyo cute.

    Ganda ng boses ng babaeng bandista. Sino sila?

    Conclusion… maiitim nga mga orcs and walang kagandahan but it’s always good to show tolerance to our lesser kababayans. Some of them look matamlay pa nga, it’s like they’re not really enjoying all that acid metal whatchamaccalit. And who were those unggoys trying to climb a wall?

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  7. Right on that one, Karl.

    There are thieves who do steal in broad daylight (just like what happened in RCBC and Veterans, and in Quiapo and Recto). Haha.

    What I meant was, those thieves who care not to expose themselves, i.e. officials seated in the government. Now, that’s more like it.

    I agree that it’s good the military, as a whole, stays at a middle ground. Of course, its allegiance is still with the president, but if the latter resorts to something that is out of the “ordinary”, it should hold its ground.

  8. “If you’re going to ask me, GMA is the lesser evil.” flash

    Then you have to qualify who is the greater evil. Greater in a sense that they will be more evil indeed once they are in

    That they have to surpass the greed of the ZTE-NBN deal, fertilizer scam, etc.

    If that’s what you meant, I am with you.

    If not then you are rationalizing. Or perhaps apologizing.

  9. The opposition (most of them) are the greater evil in my opinion, come-to. That’s why I choose GMA over them, cause at least, GMA is a working president.

    The greed on the opposition side, the grandstanding in the senate and congress, the battle for who’s going to be the standard bearer, the division among them, contest for power – all of these are being done without even doing their ACTUAL JOB DESCRIPTION. Too much senate hearings but a little effort on our economic woes.

    If I may add, the opposition side is headed by no less than the alleged and convicted Mr. Pundit himself, Joseph Estrada.

    That’s my perception, come-to. If ever these opposition guys would replace GMA, I bet that he/she would be no different.

    Come on guys, whoever is in power are always scrutinized like this. I remember that my very own favorite late Roco, who headed the DepEd for a while, had received too many complaints, demonstrations, picket lines, etc, etc, etc.

    One thing for sure. The one who is in power will always be hated by at least one sector of our society.

  10. Gloria And Mike:”ZERO Tolerance For CORRUPTION!”
    President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Administrative Order 255 calls for the adoption of “zero tolerance for corruption” in the country’s anti-corruption campaign, and for the promotion of the Filipino values as embodied in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

  11. “The opposition (most of them) are the greater evil in my opinion, come-to. That’s why I choose GMA over them, cause at least, GMA is a working president.”

    “The Blindman’s Song

    I am blind, you outsiders. It is a curse,
    a contradiction, a tiresome farce,
    and every day I despair.
    I put my hand on the arm of my wife
    (colorless hand on colorless sleeve)
    and she walks me through empty air.

    You push and shove and think that you’ve been
    sounding different from stone against stone,
    but you are mistaken: I alone
    live and suffer and howl.
    In me there is an endless outcry
    and I can’t tell what’s crying, whether its my
    broken heart or my bowels.

    Are the tunes familiar? You don’t sing them like this:
    how could you understand?
    Each morning the sunlight comes into your house,
    and you welcome it as a friend.
    And you know what it’s like to see face-to-face;
    and that tempts you to be kind.”

  12. “One thing for sure. The one who is in power will always be hated by at least one sector of our society.” flash

    See. You are rationalizing.
    Please. Just tell me in concrete terms that oppostion is worst than GMA.

    Be specific as the specific crimes of hello garci, zte-nb, joc-joc scam, etc.

    Not generalities like this one “The greed on the opposition side, the grandstanding in the senate and congress, the battle for who’s going to be the standard bearer, the division among them, contest for power – all of these are being done without even doing their ACTUAL JOB DESCRIPTION. Too much senate hearings but a little effort on our economic woes.”

    Thank you.

  13. The thieves cannot steal in a broad daylight

    “I am sure this is a figure of speech, because it sure is not literal.”

    Carl, that muddled brain syndrome. If they write any clearer they’d be anti-GMA too.

  14. Manolo,

    You are not only voracious of historical facts but a consummate analyst to the last detail. Mike Arroyo may not have that kind of talent but he used it selectively like chess pieces for a kill using the infamous Praetorian guards.

  15. the joke is us all common tao filipinos! letting the elites and oligarchs to determine our fate.

  16. When the going gets tough, the elite just send more of the masses abroad to toil and send back the precious OFW $$$$ so that the masses can consume more of the elite-owned products, shop in elite-owned malls, buy property from elite-owned developments and make the elite even wealthier.

    See article: “Manila Expects 10% Rise in Overseas Deployment”

    While industrially productive countries like Japan face double-digit collapse in GDP, we will continue to enjoy economic stability, thanks to sustained consumption due to inward remittances.

    Fortune indeed favors the select few in this “blessed” oasis in the middle of financial turmoil.

  17. A return to the Danding Cojuangco – Marcos – Enrile model of authoritarian government.

    Under the Marcos dictatorship – sugar and coconuts could not hold up the economy.

    Today the export of labor has brought back the same political economy to the Philippines.

    The only group that could have and should have made the revolutionary change in society turned on itself and probably lost a golden opportunity to change history. The left has become almost irrelevant.

    The audacity and arrogance of power is breaking out all over the place.

  18. Well, we have a very prayerful Catholic president raised in a convent. I think she believes she can push back all boundaries of good behavior even break them apart in the name of power and survival because anyway all men naman are sinners, so might as well sin over and over to the max. In the end naman all you need is repentance and acceptance of Christ’s redeeming, and lo and behold God shall forgive everything, at pwede kahit last two minute, di ba?

    Join na lang kayo, uy!

  19. Pinanood ko yung Valkyrie sa internet.
    Pumalpak lang ang plano dahil sa open area nag meeting sina hitler,et al.
    with the benefit of hindsight, alam ko naman sa simula pa lang na papalpak sila, pero sa mga attempt ke hitler, sila na ang muntik muntikan na mag succeed.

  20. “Today the export of labor has brought back the same political economy to the Philippines.”

    The export of human capital was made into an organized and strategic component of our economic policy by Ferdinand Marcos. While it was done sporadically since the American colonial era, it was Marcos, working through then Labor Minister Blas Ople, who made it official government policy, especially after establishing POEA in 1982.

    Nothing has changed since then, except that government and the country have become even more economically dependent on the export of its own citizens. We are considered to be an agricultural economy, although we are far behind Thailand or Malaysia in terms of agricultural infrastructure and production. We are not an agricultural powerhouse. But, if animal husbandry could be used in a broad sense to include human beings, we certainly are very productive.

    Despite so much vilification, we cannot do away with so much of the Marcos legacy. This only gives credibility to that hackneyed KBL slogan: “Marcos pa rin!”

  21. “The thieves who run this government are nothing but feudal warlords in modern garb. They speak only the language of power. Let us talk to them in the only language they understand.” Raul Pangalangan

    * * *

    Ironically in the U.S. the IRS nailed the American branch of UBS Bank for assisting American citizens in evading income taxes. The corporate entity was fined heavily and had to give the IRS the names of the Americans who used the bank to evade income taxes.

    This exemplifies the difference between government and governance. Malayo pa and Pinas diyan.

  22. 20 February 2009

    To recount what has transpired in that fateful day in july 2005 “One version has it that the Vice-President, upon returning from Hong Kong, was met by a general close to the President and was sternly warned that his life was on the line. Another version, strenuously denied by former Senate President Frank Drilon, is that when the Veep showed signs of being willing to take on the mantle of the presidency, Drilon et al. demanded they should be the ones to select who would be the Executive Secretary -faced with the possibility he’d be a figurehead president, the Veep balked and went home.”

    On the contrary, my version is this: The VP was celebreating his birthday with his wife in Hongkong, days before the so called HYATT 10″ 2 of the cabinet members (former) was hot on their lines trying to call the Veep and are trying to find a way to talk to him and to convince to join their ranks. However, the Veep as he is, is very “MAILAP” (I supposed this is were frank drilon comes into the picture – behind the scene).

    The secretaries of these 2 former cabinet secretaries are trying desperately to talk to the Veep. Unfortunately, the Veep is not accepting any calls (perhaps only calls from the palace, taht is a “MAYBE”). There is this one guy who was connected (apparently in the future, this person does not know it yet)were contacted by the a mid rank government official asking if the 2 former secretaries can the Veep in HK. They were told by this person doesn’t know why they call, in fact that person is not connected and does not know the Veep. They told this person it is a mater of national security. A few hours later this person received a call from the secretaries of the 2 cabinet members and was told that the 2 are already on their way to HK.

    As the account goes on, the 2 secretaries were frustrated, they cannot locate the Veep, until that one late afternoon, and by accident the 2 secretaries bumpe to the Veep and his wife, the 2 secretaries cornered the Veep and talked to him, whatever they talked about is only up to them.

    After their meeting the Veep and wife went back to RP immediately the next day. They were ushered straight to their vehicles via the Presidential lounge. Soon AFter, the Veep was called in the the Palace for a conference, giving his full support to the occupants in the palace.

    But what got the attention of others, and perhaps nobody will know and nobody will validate this acoount even from the camp of the Veep, is he was, “ALLEGEDLY” held in the palace and instructed not to leave – the reason,I have no idea – but there are a lot reports coming out on why was he not allowed to leave, when there’s nothing else to do, in fact the Veep has
    already given his support to the palace occupants. Only a selected number of people were allowed to acompany the Veep inside the palace.

    By the way one of the 2 secretaries is a known active member of the LP and the other belongs to a rich family.

    The rest is history.

    To believe this is really up to you guys.


  23. It is understandable that denial is the order of the day when the events did not materialize. The Veep, Senate President and House Speaker are in the order of succession. The President for self-preservation will not allow artificially triggered succession with the collusion of those next in line.

  24. MLQ3,
    It is absolutely wrong to think that there is some kind of ambiguity in the Constitutional provision which empowers Congress to propose any revision or amendment to the 1987 charter, that only the Supreme Court can resolve.

    It is the Congress alone that can decide HOW it will exercise Constituent power. And it has already done so in the normal manner: by adopting separate Rules for House and Senate, just as it does for the exercise of every other power vested in Congress by the Constitution. And in those Rules, both Houses of Congress have decided they will propose amendments and revisions in the same manner as they pass laws.

    Now if someone in one of the Houses wants to adopt different Rules, such as “voting jointly”, the Congress can certainly do that. But they will have to adopt such Rules in the only way the Congress adopts Rules: by voting on them separately.

    There is no way under our Constitution for the Congress to adopt Rules in any other way than voting separately on them. In a sense, a Bicameral Congress has only two Members: the House and the Senate. And the axiomatic rule built into the Constitution is that every ACT of Congress must be the result of a unanimous vote by its two members! In a democracy where there are only two votes, a simple majority is the same as a unanimous vote.

    Thus, bicameralism is imposed by constitution structurally.

    There is nothing for the Supreme Court to interpret in the provision other than that it is the Bicameral Congress that has the power to decide HOW it will exercise that power granted to it: whether voting jointly or separately on the revision or amendment.

    The Supreme Court does not have the power to decide for Congress, because there is no textual basis in the Constitution by which to decide between two options that are absolutely legal and Constitutional for the Congress to use. The Congress can decide to vote jointly or separately on revisions and amendments, but it cannot do so except by adopting separate Rules saying so!

  25. Theoretically DJB is 200% correct. However in the Philippines reality sometimes become stranger and so detached from the theory laid out by the Constitution.

    Only time will tell. I for one would love for them to try to give their drive for cha-cha.

    Nothing works like hubris. A naked power drive in today’s world of instant media would be untenable.

    A so called constitutional process with a compliant bunch of justices would be accepted by the world that is distracted by economic crisis.

  26. We have a political culture that believes in running to the Supreme Court. Things haven’t changed since Javellena v. Ex. Sec. And I think the experience will be the same: the Justices will succumb and the public, conditioned to “technical legalism” as FM himself sneered, will find it (a decision favorable to the admin’s interpretation) a powerful talisman in the hands of the administration.

  27. Hard to tell, I’ll go with J_AG with hubris, and I’m itching to find out. Proceed with the Cha-cha then. Anything can happen, but so be it…better than the present status quo and the prospect of perpetual deterioration. As DJB said, let them ride the tiger! We’ll find out if the tiger bites the rider’s neck. Or, we find ourselves neck-deep in the sand.

    There’s an even chance!

  28. “We have a political culture that believes in running to the Supreme Court. ”

    Sa kahahabahaba ng prosesyon sa Tate din naman ang hahantungan. Face it, we need the Americans to decide for us.

  29. “. . . the state apparatus continues to be easy prey to a powerful oligarchic class that enjoys an independent economic base outside the state, yet depends upon particular access to the political machinery as the major avenue to private accumulation.”

    – Paul D. Hutchcroft, “Booty Capitalism”, published by Ateneo de Manila University Press

  30. The future will judge the period between 2007 till 2010 as the point at which the post World War II international system of trade and finance finally collapsed on its own weight.

    Every day in the U.S. and other world capitals governments are pondering and debating on how to keep the system now in tatters from completely collapsing and destroy the multilateral process of arbitrating and mediating the competing interest of nation states.

    It is under these conditions that the entire economic model of the Philippines was based. We were the only full blown colony of the U.S. The epicenter of the quake is the U.S.

    We are like a perpetual child now looking forlorn as our main benefactor has become old and tiered. The country is like a street kid looking for handouts from whoever he/she sees.

    It is amazing to see that the same guys we saw in 1972 are the same guys we now see calling the shots. Cojuangco-Marcos-Enrile then and now the torch is being passed to their heirs.


  31. Their rehabilitation and even victory was foreshadowed in 1992 when Danding-Imelda had more votes combined than the Edsa candidates; they’d have won if only they’d united. And Estrada in 1998 was in a sense, a victory for the ghost of the KBL machine. If Escudero wins then Edsa would have been permanently repudiated instead of merely temporarily as it is now.

  32. I guess my previous comment has been censored (If so, sorry Manolo if it violated your blog rules, but I realized why.)

    Anyway, here’s an edited version:

    If the same clique is ruling the country, the same as it was in the 70s, then Edsa I was a massive failure, in so far as punishing the thieves and the plunderers — we should have not allowed them to go into their safe exiles — para di na tuluran (as history showed from 1986 until today, the moral and economic plunder goes on and on and on). All the judicial processes to make the thieves account for their crimes were all overturned by the weight of their influence and power. None, virtually none, of the Marcos era criminals were punished. We all thought that Edsa I was a restoration of democracy — but it in fact just a power restoration of the elite faction sidelined by the Marcos regime. We still don’t have a true democracy until today.

  33. Madonna, no, not censored, in fact maybe I replied to it? If so, may have clicked something wrong. Checked Spamkarma and none of your comments are there. Please repost your old comment in full if you wish.

  34. The Marcos spawn keeps multiplying, moving from one generation to the next. With the likes of Chiz and Ramon Ang to carry the banner into the following generation, the old dictator would be so proud that his legacy lives on.

    And most of his programs and policies live on. Marcos lives!

  35. If only the leaders who took the rein of government after Marcos had as much the decency to care for the welfare of the people as they had cared for themselves the Marcos era would have been just history by now.

    Alas, after Edsa, it was a continuous downturn for the worse, the new leaders were just as apathetic to the plight of the ordinary citizens, if not more so, than the Marcos government…and greedier. The people, after Edsa, just had their inherent energy to crawl by themselves and just barely managed to survived.

    The people had to revert back and involuntarily yearned for the life that once was even as they might have thought it was not that heavenly but certainly more liveable than their present predicament that leave them bereft of any hope for the future. As such, the Dandings and the Escuderos, and now their heirs, have persisted.

    On the other hand, the oligarch and the upper-middleclass is a different story altogether. But they are the minority.

    Btw, just as death penalty does not diminished the occurence of heinous crimes, I believe that even if we had the Marcoses, or the Estradas, killed or imprisoned, moral and economic plunder by those in power might not end.

  36. “Btw, just as death penalty does not diminished the occurence of heinous crimes, I believe that even if we had the Marcoses, or the Estradas, killed or imprisoned, moral and economic plunder by those in power might not end.”….bert

    It will not entirely vaporize the problems. But look at what happened after Lim Seng? After Mussolini?

    Actually it’s the fault of spineless voters, they keep on voting the trapos and sticking to the culture of PADRINO.

  37. I think someone did a detailed study about one of the strongest PROPAGANDIST in Pinas, and the conclusion is that the CBCP has spoken much more often against condoms, sex-education and divorce than it has spoken against corruption in government (local and national).

    The Filipino voting population is NOT the only one at fault.

  38. You are right, they are not the only at fault but the vast majority of the problems is due to their being spineless, and uninformed voters.

    They voted the two sidekicks of Macoy in Malacanang. They voted the architect and enforcer of martial into the highest position in the Senate, 2nd in line for presidency.

    Granted GMA Shanghai 1M votes but how many voters participated in the election, 15M? If a vast majority of those voted for the right person, then 1M high jacked votes was nothing! Same is true in local elections, if majority of voters vote for the right person….the high jackers won’t win. We get what we elect. There is jueteng because we bet on it. There is corruption because we tolerate and participate in it. There is traffic jam because drivers and pedestrians don’t follow rules.

    I remember the big shot millionaires in Magie dela Riva case who were all convicted and jailed. For months, maybe years no rape was in the headlines after that conviction. Lim Seng was executed and many addicts/pushers went out of the country, I met one hanging around our kababayans in Bay Area, he was too afraid to even have a stick of mary jane. He left Baguio ASAP and became a vagabond in Mission St.

  39. About the bishops? Not sure if my memory serves me well about the several- week long news with regards to the distribution of brown bags full of goodies. Didn’t at least 2 or 3 bishops admitted taking the brown bags like the trapos? Didn’t many of them like the trapos denied the bags and even more just kept quite? And didn’t many religious organizations get donations from games and amusement board? Yes it is not only the voters who are at fault.

  40. the joke is on us all common tao filipinos! letting the corrupt elites and kleptomaniac oligarchs to determine our and our childrens’ fate over and over again. acting like we are all powerless against them when in fact we have proven it otherwise, twice, already through EDSA I & II. we have only ourselves to blame! now what are we going to do about it???? !!!!

    forget that “rule of law” because the inhabitants doesn’t have the slightest respect for the rule of law. only their own interpretation of “their rule of law”.

  41. Edsa I and II were simply tugs of war between oligarchs. The oligarchs who were “inside the kulambo” and those who were out. The “masa” was used only for cannon fodder.

    Marcos and his oligarchs were ousted in Edsa I and were replaced by the old set of oligarchs who lorded it before Marcos had kicked them out. The old structures remained, only some faces changed. The new order quickly coopted the Marcos vanguard for its own selfish objectives. The armed forces immediately became a useful tool to coerce enemies and to stifle dissent. Some generals lost out in the shuffle, but the Marcos military apparatus was largely left intact. The provincial warlords simply switched loyalties. Instead of swearing allegiance to Marcos and the KBL, the Singsons, the Dy’s, the Josons, the Villafuertes, the Espinosas, the Duranos, the Dimaporos, became the willing instruments and partners of Peping Cojuangco and his allies. Marcos business cronies like Lucio Tan, Campos, JDV, the PLDT Cojuangcos, Antonio Floiriendo, and even Danding, were able to retain most of their ill-gotten wealth as long as they partnered with the new order.

    Juan de la Cruz was immediately forgotten in the horse trading. After all, the man in the streets is a nobody. Oligarchs only understand and respect power and money. If you have neither, you’re to be ignored.

  42. Thats democracy for you. Our current predicament is the sum total of our collective choice, yes, all of us – those who voted, those who don’t give a damn, and those who cheated (alleged). Its time we start thinking like victims and start taking responsibility for a change, we can’t possibly change anything by whimpering and whining…we each have to fulfill our roles as best as we can for God and country…and pray that next time, we will choose wisely guided by conscience – those who actually vote, those who don’t give a damn (to give a damn next time), and those who will (allegedly) cheat…

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