Mr. Pablo Garcia, do not ever again compare Madam President with our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no point of comparison! Remember that Jesus Christ was charged with sedition for preaching the truth but He was never, EVER, charged with corruption! As a Christian, I am deeply offended by what you said which is nothing but pure blasphemy. You should know better as a true Christian! Shame on you! If you must make sip-sip with the president, please don't use God. It is cheap talk from someone who's supposed to be rich and well-educated. Roni Bertone from Antipolo City, via e-mail
November 2008 Archives
JOSE De Venecia Jr. is shooting from the foot of the hill facing the sun, while the majority fire at him from the top. His chances of hitting his target (the president) are slim. And he must first convince his colleagues above to stop firing -- which, obviously, is next to impossible -- so he can see more clearly, be heard, or be able to adjust his sights. Admin solons have taken potshots at him – pelting him about sour-graping and the like. These are expected from politicians who benefit from the accused, while nothing to gain from the whistleblower or from fulfilling one's obligations to the citizenry or even for the sake of good governance. It must be a painful struggle for De Venecia, adjusting to such a humbling position. But still, there could be a very strong spirit of change within his new self that he now takes on those who he once faithfully served and that time even at the expense of moral righteousness and good governance. I pray that his intentions are sincere for a moral revival in Philippine politics, and not -- as one solon ridicules him with -- a huge cheap marketing ploy to sell his book. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt. I think the impeachment case is 99 percent dead by now because of the mechanics of numbers in the house. Nevertheless, let a small voice be heard, and let us ruminate in what it says, because somewhere under the smoke of bickering is the truth that we all deserve to know. And just before 2010 elections let all these remind us voters : "Not again." Victor manalac, Taytay, Rizal, via e-mail
(A tale of two very differently treated cases) By Soliman M. Santos, Jr. WITH due respect, as we are supposed to say, the Supreme Court’s one-page resolution of November 11 (but released only on November 21) summarily “deny(ing) with finality” the two Motions for Reconsideration of its October 14 Decision, which by an 8-7 vote declared as “contrary to law and the Constitution” the initialed but unsigned final draft of the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), is very disappointing, to say the least. According to a news report on the just released resolution, the SC reasoned therein that it had already passed on the “basic issues” and that “no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision.” The disappointing nature of the SC resolution can be taken on several levels. But first it has to be pointed out that the two MRs came from several Bangsamoro civil society organizations which were intervenors in the MOA-AD case, intervening in support of the respondent GRP Peace Panel, in effect in support of the proposed MOA-AD and the unfinished GRP-MILF peace negotiations. One MR of 49 pages was filed by the Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (MUSLAF) on October 31. The second MR of 73 pages plus 19 documentary annexes was filed jointly by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) and the Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum, Inc. (BWSF) on November 5. [The GRP Peace Panel and its co-respondent government officials, represented by the Solicitor General, did not itself file a MR but a “Constancia,” i.e. a manifestation as a matter on record, expressing continuing concern about SC encroachment into executive power.] In their MR, the CBCS-BWSF stated at the outset that “The members of the Court should do what great minds and great hearts should do, at least pause to reconsider. This includes listening to the muffled voices of the aggrieved Bangsamoro.” The CBCS-BWSF then pointed out that, after all, the several Bangsamoro civil society organization intervenors “were not (allowed to be) heard during any of the three oral argument hearings [on August 15, 22 and 29]. Their Memorandums and arguments are not even referred to in the Decision, showing that these were probably not even read.” It was as if the Bangsamoro were invisible to the SC. In contrast, it heard on oral argument three petitioners (North Cotabato, Zamboanga City, and Iligan City) and two of their supporting intervenors (former Senator Drilon, and incumbent Senator Roxas), all representing Filipino Christian majority interests. All five of their counsels were ranged in oral argument against the Solicitor General representing basically the Executive Department of the Philippine government, which also had to cater to its Filipino Christian majority constituency. How about the Bangsamoro -- where are they in this argumentation? Are they not also key stakeholders here, whose Bangsamoro problem the peace negotiations are supposed to solve? The MUSLAF and CBCS-BWSF MRs were therefore in essence an attempt to get the Bangsamoro voice heard by the SC, while there was still a chance in the MOA-AD case. Unfortunately, it has been to no avail, and in a very disappointing manner. The SC went on recess from November 1 to 9, returning back to work on November 10. And then on November 11, barely a day after returning to their backlog, it already issues a one-page resolution denying the two MRs with finality. Strangely this one-page resolution takes all of 10 days to be released on November 21. More strangely was the barely one day to go through and digest the total of 122 pages of the two MRs. The normal, usual or regular course for dealing with MRs in a major case would be to require or allow the other side to comment or oppose within a reasonable time like 10 to 15 days (the latter being the reglementary period itself to file a MR), and then consider the matter submitted for resolution -- which would or should then come as a matter of course and of time. What if, on November 11, the SC instead summarily granted, not denied, the two MRs? You can imagine the all the sound and fury that would be raised by the petitioners and their supporting intervenors -- probably a reprise of all the hue and cry that occasioned the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) last August 4 and the Decision itself last October 14 against the proposed MOA-AD. You can imagine their shrill invocation of the sacrosanct constitutional rights to due process and fair hearing in judicial proceedings. Alas, it seems that these same rights do not apply for the equal protection of the Bangsamoro. A contrasting case in point is the Mining Act Case (445 SCRA 1) where the SC reversed itself (from ruling 8-5-1 “unconstitutional” to 10-4-1 “constitutional”) within 2004, on reconsideration from its Decision of January 27 to its Resolution of December 1. In that case, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) was allowed even after the initial Decision, to intervene, to file a MR, and then even to be heard on oral argument. What does the mining industry have that the Bangsamoro does not have to be given that kind of due process and fair hearing, if that was even due or fair at all, including to the therein lead petitioner La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association, Inc.? Why does the protection of the law seem more equal for big business and the mining industry than for the Bangsamoro and the indigenous peoples? An investigative journalist report on the inside story of that “Goliath Win for Mining” provides some answers. According to this report, “it’s clear that the High Court bent its rules to accommodate the chamber [CMP] as intervenor in the case.” What soon after turned the tide in there was the oral argument of influential former SC Justice Florentino Feliciano on behalf of the CMP. But both Feliciano and the CMP could not have come into the picture there without the support of an “advocate” within the SC -- then Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban “who relentlessly prodded his colleagues to let the Chamber of Mines air its side,” especially through an unprecedented oral argument during the reconsideration stage of the case. And then Panganiban eventually became the ponente (writer) of the new majority Resolution of December 1, 2004. Going back now to the MOA-AD Case, the Bangsamoro simply did not have a Feliciano advocating for them in oral argument and a Panganiban “advocating” for them within the SC. Instead, it would be fair to infer (alliteration intended) that there was within the SC an “advocate” who relentlessly prodded his colleagues to issue the early TRO last August 4 and also to issue the early denial of the two MRs last November 11. It is interesting to note that the ponente of the Decision of October 14 in this case, Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, was the same ponente of the Decision of January 24, 2004 in the afore-mentioned Mining Act Case. She must have also made sure that reconsideration history did not repeat itself. Interestingly also, former Chief Justice Panganiban (who was on opposite sides with Justice Morales in the Mining Act Case) was one of those who had publicly asked the SC to “Decide the MOA issues fully” and who later publicly celebrated the SC Decision as a “Victory for the Constitution.” Not coincidentally, he, the mining industry and big business were all on the same side on the MOA-AD issue. And how about media and its investigative journalism sector – will they bother to connect the dots in the MOA Case like they did in the Mining Act Case? How easy it seems for the SC and its Justices to flip-flop even on constitutional principles when it comes to different issues and interests. In then Justice Panganiban’s Epilogue of his 245-page Resolution of December 1, 2004 in the Mining Act Case, he said, among others: “Verily, under the doctrine of separation of powers and due respect [that term again!] for co-equal and coordinate branches of government, this Court must restrain itself from intruding into policy matters and must allow the President and Congress maximum discretion in using the resources of our country and in securing the assistance of foreign groups to eradicate the grinding poverty of our people and answer their cry for viable employment opportunities in the country…Let the development of the mining industry be the responsibility of the political branches of government. And let not the Court interfere inordinately and unnecessarily.” And how about with the development of the peace process to resolve our internal armed conflicts and address their root causes, the context of the MOA-AD Case? It is so easy for the SC, in its one-page Resolution last November 11 summarily denying the two MRs of its Decision on the proposed MOA-AD, to resort to the hackneyed formula of saying it had already passed on the “basic issues” and that “no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision.” It is clear that the SC and some very strong anti-Bangsamoro and anti-peace forces do not want to be bothered with this matter any more, and so the quick hammering of the final nail on the coffin of “thinking out of the box” in future peace negotiations. In their haste (to use their own critique about the forging of the MOA-AD) to do this during what should be a reconsideration stage of the case, they have also delivered the clear message that the Bangsamoro have no voice in these judicial proceedings which have truly become an “internal matter” of the Filipino Christian majority. Granting that the SC had already passed on the “basic issues” and that “no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” couldn’t it have at least shown more sensitivity to the Bangsamoro by even going through the motions of giving their intervening representatives a fair hearing on their MRs even if eventually these would likewise be struck down like the proposed MOA-AD? But a fair and good enough reading of the two MRs totaling 122 pages of the Bangsamoro civil society organization intervenors will show that, on the contrary, substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision. The CBCS-BWSF MR argued, among others, that the very logic of the Decision itself, particularly its recognition that the negotiated solutions to an armed conflict may require changes to the Constitution, militates against the wholesale declaration of the proposed MOA-AD as “unconstitutional.” It argued that this is not just a matter of executive power and separation of powers but also of constitutional policy, principles and rights which make for a strong constitutional mandate for peace. The MUSLAF MR, on the other hand, argued mainly from the need to resolve the MOA-AD issue through a resort to international law, the generally accepted principles of which are anyway adopted as part of the law of the land under the Constitution. Whether we agree or not with these different lines of argument coming from Bangsamoro representatives, they certainly deserve more than a one-page resolution of summary denial. Be that as it may, the two MRs are there as the Bangsamoro voice of dissent in the case record, for whatever reference need of posterity, including the judgment of history. In ending, it might be instructive to quote from Justice Morales’ own dissent to the new majority Resolution of December 1, 2004 in the Mining Act Case: “The task of reclaiming Filipino control over Philippine natural resources now belongs to another generation.” The task of another generation, if we must speak of posterity -- that may as well be said too of finding a solution to the Bangsamoro problem, after the finality of the SC Decision on the proposed MOA-AD, which was moving well toward that solution when stopped dead on its tracks. Despite that final resolution in the MOA-AD Case, it is not good to end on a pessimistic or resigned note. So, I quote the text message of a leading member of the dissolved GRP Peace Panel in reaction to that final resolution: “Disappointing indeed. Am sure though that our vindication and that of the Bangsamoro will come someday. Damn the torpedoes!”
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By Boogie Boydon Editor's note: This article was originally written for Ang Bagong Pinoy by the author. He has given us permission to re-publish it in this blog. A sense of despair is in our midst. A growing feeling of helplessness and hopelessness pervades our day-to-day lives with more and more Filipinos quietly and patiently simply waiting for an opportunity to bolt from what they perceive as a God-forsaken nation on the brink of collapse. The inability to muster enough numbers to mount another People Power is taken by some as a sign of growing apathy within our ranks. Some people say that the apathy is actually a reflection of heightened mistrust and lack of confidence in our institutions of justice, law-enforcement and governance. In 1987, American essayist James Fallows wrote that we have a “damaged culture” and went on to say that “because of (this) fragmentation, this lack of useful nationalism, people treat each other worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country I have seen ...” People bristled at his seemingly callous conclusions then but now that we seem to be facing a blank wall in trying to explain why and how this “damaged culture” came about, we find that our history of successive colonization that gave us a frail and confused consciousness to begin with, coupled with the decades of psychological cues we have imbued along the way to what we are now, are worthy of a second look. I belong to a generation who grew up thinking that our problems will be solved by a masked and flying crusader, a “Darna” within our midst who can solve all our problems without us lifting a finger to do it ourselves. And so we vote to office our varied brands of “heroes” and place our full hope in them, only to be frustrated when they do not live up to our image of a “Lastikman” or a “Captain Barbell.” We do not realize that the solution to our problems could have been within our grasp to start with if only we took it upon ourselves to participate fully in the task of solving them. Or perhaps we thought that we can be our own “Darna” and imagined a supernatural intervention amidst an apparition of a quick fix. We waited patiently for that elusive one-time meteorite stone that will give us the super powers we long for. We relished the hope given to us by the promise that with the flick of a finger, the lighting of a candle will transform our “Cofradian” blackness into a ravishing “Tisay,” or the wearing of a magic “kamison” will transform our ugly-duckling stature to a beauty and elegance fit for royalty. Thus the lure of the sweepstake, the jueteng and a parade of game shows that promise instant millions that would give us a rags-to-riches experience have time and again proven to be irresistible. Of course nowadays the candle of Cofradia may very well have been replaced by the modern-day Glutathione but that is beside the point. So we tenaciously hang on and with unwavering resilience are able to withstand the seeming hopelessness and helplessness of our daily grind. At the back of our minds is the hope that we will one day be rewarded with an amulet from the sky that will endow us with extraordinary capabilities that will magically eradicate all our miseries. The likes of “Da King” FPJ and other screen heroes of the same genre showed us that we can withstand all ridicule, sufferings and pain because in the end we will have the final say and our tormentors will have the comeuppance they so much deserve. “May araw ka din” is what we silently mumble to ourselves in reference to all the Paquito and Romy Diazes and Max Alvarados in our lives. We have generations of Filipinos who grew up exposed to the antics of the likes of Mang Nano played by actor-comedian Pugo in “Tang-ta-rang-tang” and “Si Tatang Kasi” who flaunt their capability to put one over their neighbor as simply being “ma-abilidad” or “wais.” And it’s not just Mang Nano to whom we owe it to. Decades of comedians after him have practically spun their antics around the same theme: It is not wrong to do something bad, as long as you can get away with it. We have glamorized this part of their comical repertoire to the point that we have begun thinking the same way ourselves. When we encounter a long queue that would definitely inconvenience us, we easily succumb to the temptation of having a friend or even a “fixer” facilitate things for us so that we will not have to go through the long line. And when we are able to finish ahead of others, we gloat at our resourcefulness without realizing that we have added to our neighbor’s agony because the time that would have rightfully been theirs was spent processing our transaction and have unduly extended their pain of waiting. As Erly de Guzman of Galing Pilipino is wont to say, “Ang gulang naging galing” and we think that being able to put one over our neighbor as a sign of our being “maabilidad” and “wais” is an achievement to be proud of.. A quick search of what’s out there regarding Mang Nano revealed this write up about a movie “Nukso ng Nukso” which Pugo did in 1960 : “In Nukso nang Nukso, Pugo is Mang Nano Batekabesa, the wily but lovable 'manggagantso' who concocts the most ingenuous scams to finance his little vices, like jueteng or cockfighting.” Talk about role models and screen heroes! Put all of the aforementioned together and a clearer picture emerges. We want to rise from an impoverished or disadvantaged state we are in but either: * we feel that somebody ought to do it for us because we long for a superhero to rescue us from our sorry state; or * we hope to do it ourselves but are too lazy to work for it and thus desperately cling to the arrival of a quick-fix that will magically transform our lives. So we quietly endure our hardships while waiting for the time to “have our day.” Then whenever an opportunity presents itself where we can put one over our neighbor we grab it with gusto and relish and gloat at the thought that we have once more displayed our being “maabilidad” and “wais.” It somehow eases the pain of discomfort of our disadvantaged state. After a while the distorted sense of “galing” at being so “wais” above the rest has become so pervasive that it has become a natural high that we indulge in it purely for the simple joy of feeling good. Sure, we may have felt guilty at times because of our largely Christian upbringing. After all, we used to be the only Christian nation in Asia. But we have become so adept at rationalizing our shortcomings that we have managed to develop a value system that is so convolutedly flexible and interchangeable. When I was asked whether the ideals listed in “Ang ulirang Pinoy” are interchangeable in rank I said “No.” They are listed precisely in that order because they represent a hierarchy of values. In fact, the order that they are supposed to be appreciated and implemented in one’s life is as important as the values that they contain. Without putting significance to the way that they are ordered is to invite ourselves to fall prey to a distorted sense of morals. We have to learn to dichotomize and prioritize whenever we are faced with the dilemma of having to choose between two seemingly positive values. Otherwise we end up with Mass-going, communion-receiving politicians who do not even bat an eyelash in protecting their cronies in the name of “pakikisama” and “utang na loob” because they put a premium on their fear of losing peer approval more than their fear of God. Yes we are a Christian nation but we have fallen short of our Christian heritage. We have learned to love ourselves but have continuously struggled over the “loving our neighbor as we love ourselves” part. In 2005 when I started the forum of Ang Bagong Pinoy it came out of a frustration that 20 years after EDSA 1 we have hardly anything to show for our victory. The son that I carried on the streets of EDSA who was barely 1 year old then has now graduated from college. A generation has passed. We were greatly moved by the experience of EDSA but it seems we have barely moved since then. We can’t keep on casting the blame on others without looking at ourselves first. We can’t keep on casting the first stone as if we have no sin that merits a stone being cast our way. We have to try to first effect the change that we want to see in others in ourselves. Strive to be a better person. Strive to be a more compassionate neighbor. Strive to love our neighbor as ourselves. Strive to be a good citizen of this country. As Alexander Lacson has written in his book, we can start with “twelve little things every Filipino can do to help our country.” And then perhaps the dream of a better Philippines will become a closer reality. Loving our neighbor is at the heart of rebuilding our nation. As Teacher Nelia Sarcol has so clearly expressed in her Filipino ideology of the Pearl Principle, “strive not just to change from within but to effect change as well within our sphere of influence.” For example, if someone cuts into my lane while I’m driving, I will not curse the person nor pass judgment on him or her because I do not know his/her personal circumstances and I’m not in a position to judge. But I can always influence my wife, my children and other people close to me not to do the same. I will be doing both out of love for my neighbor. Those whom I influence will also try to effect changes within their respective spheres. In due time this will all come full circle. When that time comes, there might not even be a need to cast a stone at all. The miracle of Couples for Christ ’s Gawad Kalinga has already shown the way to what the transforming love of Christ can do to ordinary people and what these ordinary people can do to their neighbors because of the transforming love of Christ Let us not tire of doing the little things that love requires. Day by day let us strive to build a character steeped in love and imbued with compassion. During the graduation rites of my youngest child, their First Honor said in her speech, “To reach our objective, we must not tire of doing the little things every day, for in the end, all of these things add up.”
Why, Conrado, did you say this: "Cory may have spoken with an inflection that little varied, but it was enough to make the prostitutes of Mabini Street freeze in their tracks and dream of a better life when they heard it." Let me guess (and I mean guess) why. One, you mean to be literary (speech figure use). Prostitutes constituted wretchedness and the worst of them found hope in Cory. Two, Cory was so compelling even those whom we assume to be indifferent found Cory worth listening to. And three, why, we were there (somewhere in Mabini) during those times when you and I were younger? Maybe we do have many things in common. Ingming Aberia, Tacloban City, via e-mail
I AM _______. Simple and to the point, this fill-in-the-blank exercise helps me focus on what I need to be or do, what I have to be or do. It’s an exercise of affirmation, one that encourages me to push myself more and be happy with myself. How does this go? Fill the blank with a positive trait or characteristic you want to possess. For example, when in a situation that requires you to relax (think panic moments before an exam), try saying the line “I am calm” over and over in your head. The more you say it, the calmer you will be. It’s all about claiming the feeling and owning it. The “I am ___” line also works when you need to finish a task. Try it when you’re feeling lazy to clean your home. Repeat “I am decluttering the living room” in your head or out loud, and this can help bring you to action. The “I am ___” lines I use most often are “I am calm” and “I am focused.” The first line helps me a lot before a presentation, a time when the butterflies in my stomach are flying wildly around. The second line helps me when I’m getting overwhelmed with work. Try the exercise for yourself. I hope it helps you get centered and accomplish what you’re set out to do.
By Niña Terol Editor's Note: This contribution has been posted in the author's blog. We're re-posting it here with her permission. AND now we face yet another hundred-million-peso scandal, unfolding in real-time in the august chambers of the Philippine Senate, involving yet another fall guy who is now the country’s hottest topic (and butt of jokes) but who will later on be forgotten. The moment I heard his name -- a few years ago, when my mom casually mentioned the name of the Rotary’s then-District Governor -- I immediately felt that there was something fishy about a man named Jocelyn, who called himself Joc-Joc. I think that any public servant who respects his position enough should at least find a more suitable nickname upon assuming a position of great responsibility. Don’t trust a man who calls himself a joke -- or, perhaps more accurately, a two-faced joker. But I digress. This latest scandal to rock the Philippine shores -- er, fields -- paints yet another ugly caricature of this present administration and its cohorts and once again makes the Filipino nation look like a bunch of idiots. How can anyone justify distributing funds for agricultural inputs that are of the wrong kind, given at the wrong time, for the wrong districts? (And, oh yes, they were grossly overpriced, too.) I felt a brief moment of admiration for Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago when she admitted that, although she is an administration ally, Joc-Joc Bolante was simply “defending the indefensible.” Former Agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Joc-Joc Bolante at todays Senate hearing. (Inquirer.net) There is simply no way of getting around this. And we cannot let these corrupt, unscrupulous officials get away with it. If I were a guy, I’d say that “nakakalalaki na ‘tong gobyernong ito (this government is challenging my manhood–or something to that effect).” This whole episode reminds me of Dr. René Azurin’s book, aptly titled Power Without Virtue. In his introduction, he exhorts us to exact accountability from government, saying that “their powers should be strictly limited, constantly monitored, and held always in check.” Allow me to share some excerpts from his book’s introductory essay: “… Tremendous discretionary power over public funds, public resources, and public policies is vested in those who capture control of government, and that power has been consolidated, increased, refined, guarded and avariciously used over the years by the nation’s politicos for their own private and personal gain. Irrespective of any labels or party names that presidents, senators, congressmen and local government officials have attached to themselves over the more than hundred years since [Mabini’s time], all have been joined… by the notion that the positions they occupy are opportunities ‘to grasp’ and not ‘to serve.’ “By its very nature, of course, it is inescapable that power is vested in government and, by extension, in government officials. Because, however, it is not reasonable to expect that our public officials will be as moral or as ethical as the ‘sublime’ Mabini [whom Dr. Azurin refers to early on in his essay], their powers should be strictly limited, constantly monitored and held always in check. Discretionary allocations in the national budget -- like the huge presidential discretionary funds and legislative pork barrel -- should be eliminated altogether. The decisions to award public projects should always be minutely scrutinized, publicly justified and never cloaked in ‘executive privilege.’” Joc-Joc Bolante has yet to invoke “executive privilege,” but he has asked that his right against self-incrimination be upheld, even if this is a right extended only to the accused and not to witnesses. He insists that he never knew who recommended him as Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, even if he later on admits that the only one he knows from the upper echelons of Malacañang is First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, a “good friend” of his. He apologizes for having made the Senate wait for three years for him to surface and offer his testimony, even if he has had plenty of opportunities to surface before his incarceration in the United States. Moreover, he is adamant that the President had nothing to do with this scandal, although incumbent officials acknowledge that Mrs. Arroyo is a micro-manager who dips her fingers (or those of her husband) in practically every matter in this government. Nobody believes that P728 million could be disbursed to over a hundred districts in the country without this president’s knowledge. Clearly, what we have in front of us is a joker who cannot be trusted or given the benefit of the doubt. He is one of those avaricious men whose primary motivation for joining government is to enjoy its many under-the-table perks. Now that he has surfaced, we will have to bear with days-- possibly even weeks -- of a live telenovela that makes the Filipino people look tanga (idiotic) in the worst possible way. How much more of this will we take? Aren’t we tired of scandal after scandal, and of government officials who think that we’re stupid, apathetic and callous, even? More importantly, what are we going to do about it? I once more refer to Tito Rene’s introduction to show an alternative I do not want to see: “In theory, the extent of government power is specified by the role the people assign to it. In practice, that role is actually determined by the latitude the political class is given to arrogate powers unto themselves. Unfortunately, ‘the people’ -- being a dispersed, diffuse mass -- have no real ability to limit that latitude. It is therefore left to other organized institutions of society -- such as civic groups, business groups, advocacy movements, professional associations, religious institutions, academic institutions and media -- to try to circumscribe (if they are so inclined) the role of government and the powers of government officials, and then hold them to account. “A community holds together, I believe, largely because there are reasonable expectations that a system exists for ensuring that each member of it will be treated fairly and justly by the community itself, if not necessarily by every other member of it. Without this conviction, I think that communities will inevitably break apart (unless held together by force, in which case a revolt will eventually become inevitable). If the privileged few who exercise power in the community use this power to plunder and exploit, and they vulgarly display themselves as exempt from the rules imposed on the ordinary many without power, there is no compelling incentive for the powerless and unprivileged to stay within the community or, if they do, to follow its rules.” If we want to keep intact what is left of the Philippine community, we need to demand accountability from our public officials NOW. The jokers in government have already taken too much from us -- what else are we going to allow them to grasp? Niña Terol, 28, is an officer of Team RP and YouthVotePhilippines and a member of other reform-oriented groups. She hopes to make real, positive change happen in the Philippines within her lifetime.
By Harvey Keh AS the United States of America’s President-elect Barack Obama was delivering his victory speech in Chicago, a sense of inspiration and hope began to fill me up. Here was a young African-American, first-term Senator who has defied all odds to become the first Black President of the most powerful country in the world. Obama campaigned on the message of “Change,” a change that every American could believe in, a change that resonated with so many American voters most especially those aged between 18 to 29 years old. In CNN’s analysis, one of the major factors for Obama’s victory was his charismatic appeal to young voters. This appeal along with his very inspiring words would rally millions of young and previously apathetic American voters to register and take part in the elections. Obama also showed the world a new way of campaigning, earning hundreds of millions of dollars not by getting big donations from businessmen but by appealing to ordinary people to donate small amounts of $5 to $10 to his campaign. More importantly, Obama’s campaign team was a master of using the power of the Internet and social networking sites such as Twitter, My Space and Facebook thereby being able to relate to the more the younger, tech-savvy generation. He ended his speech with the words Yes We Can and he showed the world that despite having not enough financial resources or political clout compared to Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain when he launched his bid for the Presidency more than 2 years ago, he was able to win decisively because he was able to rally ordinary people to his cause. Indeed, change has come to America and Filipinos can learn much from the experience of Barack Obama since as we draw near to our own Presidential elections in 2010, will we have to content ourselves again with choosing from the same faces or worse, choosing between the lesser evil among the candidates? I hope not. I look forward to the day that we can also find a true Filipino leader that will also inspire millions of Filipinos to rally for change, a change that millions of Filipinos have been longing for and a change that will hopefully, put an end to the growing poverty cycle that majority of Filipinos have to face each day. Many Filipinos have begun to lose hope in finding that leader but I think that we have our own little Obamas in our country today such as the likes of Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City and Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela, Gov. Eddie Panlilio of Pampanga, Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija and Gov. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. of Ifugao. These local government leaders have defied the odds in their respective areas to win against well-entrenched political dynasties and at the same time, deliver proper basic services to their constituents. Being with them in our group which is aptly named Kaya Natin!, we go around to different colleges and universities to share their stories of hope and change towards inspiring more Filipinos to work for good governance and electing effective and ethical leaders for our country. Obama was not entirely correct when he said it is only in the United States of America where someone can defy the odds and win, our own Kaya Natin! leaders have shown that Filipinos can also say, “Yes We Can! Kaya Natin!” For more information about Kaya Natin!, you can contact Kai Pastores at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (02) 426-5657. Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government. He is also part of Kaya Natin!
THERE’S always a reason to say “Thank you” before going to sleep. No matter how crappy your day was, there must have been a redeeming factor or two! Instead of thinking of the things you have to do the next day, fall asleep with happy thoughts. Did you share some chuckles with friends? Did you have a hearty meal? Did you make it to work on time? What compliments did you get today? Did you help anyone? Think of the goodness that came to you in big and small packages. Every good thing adds up to us feeling positive about the day. And then give thanks to the universe. Instead of counting sheep to fall asleep, count the good things that happened to you today and say thanks for each one of them. You not only recognize the wonderful moments of that day, but you fall asleep in a calm, peaceful, happy mood. Sweet dreams!
Updates on the intervention we filed: but first, a disclaimer, for the record. Neither the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper editors nor the management of ANC were aware of my intervention prior to its taking place. Nor was their leave, to my mind, called for because as an opinion writer, there is no hindrance to my pursuing advocacies as a citizen. But just so people know, my intervention was not sanctioned before or after by either media outfit. For our part, see Life with Ria (and in her other blog, Alleba Politics), The Marocharim Experiment, and blog@AWBHoldings.com. Supportive voices: from Jarius Bondoc, and in the blogs Et Cetera Et Cetera and A Filipina Mom Blogger and in BluePanjeet.Net, and Journal of the Jester-in-Exile. A more equivocal exploration of our action by Abe Margallo in Filipino Voices. Here are press reports: from the Inquirer (and follow-up reports), the Philippine Star, the Sun-Star, the Business Mirror, also BusinessWorld, GMA TV, Pacific News Center, and the highly incongruous report of the Standard Today. See the news story in Filipino Voices and also Technograph for the technological aspects of the whole thing. And you may want to survey opinions in the blogosphere and the discussions taking place in the comment sections of various blogs. Two lawyers, one an intervenor, and the other, not, weigh in: see Edwin Lacierda’s blog and that of The Warrior Lawyer. You may be interested in the thoughts, from a general perspective, of a congressman, on impeachment: see Congressman Ruffy Biazon’s blog. Let me move on to a tale of two hearings. At the Bolante hearing, I fell asleep twice and it was one of the biggest time-wasters I’ve ever experienced (see A Simple Life). You’d think that having had two years to look into the case, and after the excellent initial spade work done by Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Sergio Osmena III (how I wish both were still in the Senate, hency my growing belief that term limits are necessary in executive positions but counter-productive in terms of the legislature), they could have tightened the noose around Bolante and begun to pick his story apart. Knowing full well it was going to be a tough nut to crack because he’s had ample time to be coached by a Palace team. The hearing got off to a good start with Roxas laying down the five reasons the Fertilizer GMA Program was scam. But instead of tag-teaming to interrogate Bolante systematically on each of these five reasons, the senators flitted about, hammed it up, and Bolante stuck to his script and kept in character (the humble little old guy utterly misunderstood by everybody and who only wanted to be a dutiful little Rotarian). At the time I plurked my frustrations and suggested our Senate should look at how the Americans do it, where they hire counsel and let the counsel be the bad cop while they play the good cop. I’m all for political theater because it has its place in politics, but really, bad political theater is a waste of time, energy, and tax money. What got me even hotter under the collar was the slipshod thinking and questioning of the senators, and their compensating for it by being extremely rude and obnoxious. I say this as someone with a tendency to be hotheaded, but again, in the political arena the guy who loses his cool loses, and the bully never scores points. Both Osmena and Magsaysay used to be very courteous to witnesses, which didn’t mean they refrained from asking tough questions or reaching tough conclusions. But they recognized they were public servants and that nothing is lost by being courteous and everything’s to be gained from holding off righteous indignation until actually warranted. Still, the nine-hour ordeal did show that Bolante, for all his meekness, was dissembling, had been coached, was selective in what he remembered, at times patently contradictory in his statements, but no smoking gun, not least because other witnesses have yet to impeach his testimony and of course the Department of Agriculture is shocked, shocked, all relevant documents have disappeared. It’s also clear that the list of suspects and accomplices is so vast, politicians are having second thoughts about approaching the issue too zealously. Today, the Senate held a hearing to inquire into the pickle former national police comptroller de la Paz got himself into in Moscow. It was undertaken in a much calmer and more efficient manner, and one can speculate on the reasons: no one wants to gang up on the cops, there’s less to be gained, what have you. But the contrast was glaring and the former could have been more effective if handled like the latter. Senator Roxas came close to pinning down de la Paz on a requirement of law that demands presidential approval for expenses along the lines of the now-controversial PNP trip to Moscow. Since the law requires these activities to be approved, personally, by the President of the Philippines, did she (Roxas asked de la Paz) comply with the law and approve your trip (which, prior testimony had revealed, had all sorts of legal and procedural infirmities), or did you do it behind her back and therefore break the law? Paz froze and you could see him processing the dilemma: and Roxas warned him of the implications of whatever answer he gave. Either you incriminate the President, or take the bullet for her, basically. He took the bullet for the President. Roxas then grilled a fellow, Aureola, who claims he asked de la Paz to pick up an expensive watch for him in Vienna, and tripped de la Paz up on the question of whether, under our customs regulations, Paz was bringing home the watch under the fraudulent assertion of “personal effects,” to avoid customs fees. Basically, Roxas called into question the entire “pabili,” “pabilin,” and “pasalubong” culture that all Filipinos, high and low, subscribe to. Now this is something that made me wonder if, first of all, it made for good politics, since the public would look askance less at the fellow and de la Paz, and more at Roxas for hypocrisy. Second of all, this brings up an interesting point, to my mind: if a society’s practices are so deeply ingrained and not, necessarily, intrinsically evil, then shouldn’t the law be amended to permit what is normally practiced anyway, rather than confront the citizenry with regulations that are essentially unreasonable because they challenge deeply-held, and again, not intrinsically evil, practices of the citizenry? The balikbayan box privilege, for example, leads to general economic benefits all around, I’d argue; the practice of asking friends and family to buy stuff abroad and bring it home, whether for personal use or to use the items for the underground economy, aren’t matters that are less essential to attend to, perhaps, than wholesale smuggling? the only thing worse than the proceedings in the Senate on Thursday are House proceedings, and the only things worse than House proceedings are goings-on in the Department of Justice, and the only thing worse than those are goings-on in the Ombudsman’s office.
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net YOU often see crocheted bags made of threads and yarn. But have you seen one using plastic? The Invisible Institute, a non-government organization (NGO), is now using plastics as material for their homegrown crocheted bags. “As we all know, we have many poor women who really need more income generating activities because they have so many people depending on them. What we’ve done is to take those people whom I call ‘invisible’ or ‘unseen’ and put them together with invisible waste, which I consider factory waste,” Invisible Institute founder and artist Ann Wizer said. The group uses “clean trash and garbage bags” as materials to teach poor women to crochet. “It’s a very simple skill. And we’re also teaching any men who are willing,” said Wizer. Crochet is a French term that literally means “hook.” It describes a “series of interlocking loops onto a chain using a slender rod with a hook at the end,” according to CrochetDoilies website. Wizer began the organization in collaboration with another non-government organization called Gems Heart, which gathered women in Malibay, Pasay in October to train every Tuesday afternoon. “In this project, I have given very little design advice because I was trying to see what they would come up with themselves first,” said Wizer. Virgie Buencochillo and Rene Sison, two of the participants in the workshop, related how the program changed the way they eventually see plastic. Buencochillo, for her part, said she now saves plastic bags from groceries and uses them as materials for crocheted bag. She also uses empty containers as another material. Sison admitted plastics turned into bags can generate extra income. “Sometimes, our budget is insufficient since I still have kids who are studying. That’s why I use the money that I get [from this new livelihood] when we’re short of budget,” Sison added. So far, Sison has created bags out of scrap materials, such as rejected syringe, plastics, excess carpet. He said he has earned about P 4,000. Buencochillo has also finished some bags which has earned her a total of P 1,950. Sison said crocheted plastic bags are very cheap to make. You don’t need a lot of capital since the materials are junk. Rejected and unused syringes, for instance, cost less than P 100. “It’s a self-empowering skill,” added Wizer who admitted that the organization still needs funding to hire more experts and staff. “The next step for the Invisible Institute is to get some design expertise. I love to see more designers and artists involved. We also need funding because we have to make this a real, legal entity and a real cooperative and later run by Filipinos so that they can feel the benefits,” explained Wizer.
IN the spirit of fairness, Vox Populi is publishing the six-page manifestation of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri during the Senate proceedings on the fertilizer scam. Zubiri inhibited himself from the proceedings to ensure a fair investigation. He denied allegations that he benefited from the fund and said news about it were "blatant lie." Zubiri stressed that he was also no "grateful stooge" of the Palace and denounced the Philippine Daily Inquirer for its two editorial pieces which came out on Nov. 2 and 12. Click on the following to read "pdf" versions of Zubiri's manifestation: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
WHY bother to make a video which shows highly similar opinions? For those who are highly aware of how corrupt Binay is, this is a video that is highly disconcerting. Jas via INQUIRER.net VDO feedback
THESE people better be smiling when they say things like that. They must be joking. As if we don't have enough clowns in government. Our relatives in the Philippines are losing their jobs, so we have to send money to help them. Can't they offer solutions instead of false reassurances? Will they please stop treating us like idiots? Victor Mamawal, Purono Park, Queensland
Jejomar Binay is qualified and has the experience to run as President. As mayor of Makati, he is viewed by political analysts as quite successful in terms of honesty and as a transformational leader able to bring more revenues .We have tried Senators and celebrities but all of them have failed. We have tried popular political figures, excellent orators and debaters, a young generation of well-known political clan of the past -- still dismal failures.Maybe Binay is the right man to lead our country. Can he sustain the greedy appetite of people who will be serving him if he wins? The lure of temptations to enjoy the spoils are so strong -- the same fate that Cory experienced. The vultures are just around the corner ready to devour every centavo of Juan Dela Cruz. Anyway, let us give Binay a chance. Captin Dimasalangca, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental
WHEN do we get to read that banner headline in the INQUIRER.net just like what your previous banner headline declared, "Black in White House" last November 6? Indeed, "Change has come to America." When will that kind of change come to the Philippines, if at all? The answer to those questions might be the Filipino saying "pagputi ng uwak" ("when the crow becomes white"). And to think that we all thought that it was the Philippines which "is a place where all things are possible” -- maybe in negative and more than positive ways. If we reckon the American change from U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation for Negro slaves in 1862, then it comes to 146 years before there is a "Black in White House." Will it also take that long before there is a "Moro in Malacanang"? Maybe much longer or probably never. At least, in the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, it was not declared "unconstitutional," unlike the initialed but unsigned final draft of the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. Ah, the American Dream of the Filipino. This of course reminds us of the Filipino leader (and later President) Manuel L. Quezon's famous nationalist line "I would rather live under a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by the Americans." In riposte to which, many ordinary Moros are now saying "I would rather live under a government run like hell by Moros than a government run like hell by the Filipinos." Soliman m. Santos, Jr., Cubao, Quezon City, via e-mail
THE country needs one like Senator Miriam Santiago who has the courage to talk firm and correct without any inhibition. It could only be a pretty bleak future that lies ahead for the country because of all those filthy government leaders starting from the top. The Philippines as a nation is rich in natural resources and bright people should be given a chance to rise and prosper by removing all those leaders who have nothing but steal the country's wealth. I hope that those remaining intelligent people there should come together and get rid of those who cause the country's collapse. The recent reports on feltilizer scam, the Moscow money issue with Philippine National Police people, the Manny Villar highway scandal .etc – everything has something to do with money and is a big shame. So I enjoyed the hearing held at the Senate when Miriam directly jumped at those involved, Bravo Miriam! Francisca Maurer-Gutierrez, Allschwil, Switzerland, via e-mail
IT IS very disappointing to see that Joc-Joc Bolante needed to find refuge in the premises of St. Luke's Medical Center (SLMC) in order to avoid examination by the Senate. To the rest of the society, his condition may seem serious, because the attending physician Dr. Saavedra, and SLMC's spokesperson chose to use technical words to make Bolante's medical condition sound serious. I am writing this feedback in order for the rest of the readers know that the entire SLMC fiasco is a big joke. Only a small number of Filipinos who could understand what is being described here and our understanding is based on our biomedical background. The aim of this letter is to clarify the entire Bolante medical condition and that I, for myself, am not fooled by such medical terms, and would gladly explain to the rest of the readers what this shameful event is all about. Bolante is physically fit to go to the Senate. The medical conditions Bolante is said to experience are all PRE-EXISTING, meaning he has had these conditions months before and has lived with it. His need to go to the Senate with these conditions will definitely not worsen his medical condition and even less likely to be a concern for his life. For example, his "atherosclerotic arteries" are a concern by SLMC officials, but look at the thousands of Filipinos walking down the streets with the same atherosclerotic arteries. Now we get this report that Bolante has a "Helicobacter pylori-caused peptic ulcer"-- sure, I have that too, and I've been suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) because of that but I'm still doing more physical and mental activities than I am suppposed to do in a day. Maybe tomorrow, the physicians will mention this disease to make Bolante's condition sound serious. To mention that the physicians performed the 2D-ECHO and ECG mean that these diagnostic tests were performed to determine any discrepancies in Bolante's heart function. But guess what? The results are all normal. The normal results from the stress test are enough proof that Bolante is strong enough to go to the Senate. I am tired of hearing such pointless reasons to save Bolante from going to the Senate. As for Bolante himself, I'd like to say, "Hey-- do what you have to do as a Filipino who still cares for his home country. Show your face at the Senate and please speak the truth." Rhea Vallente, Winnipeg, Canada, via e-mail
IT is appalling that these bishops have the nerve to once again call for the ouster of the President. It is very appalling indeed that these bishops have very little regard to whatever calm we as a people are enjoying now amidst the global economic crisis. I wonder, why do these bishops offering their formula for change? Do their relationships with God somehow make them savants -- full of wisdom and know how on how to make a lot of things better? Are their morals the impetus for change? Much as I want to believe that these bishops mean well -- that they are for the best interest of the majority -- I cannot. I agree, yes, these bishops may have the moral obligation to lead its people. Yes, these bishops may very well have the moral ascendancy to determine which is right or wrong, but, for these bishops to dictate to the government what needs to be done, they have to first remember that they are not paying their taxes. Not to pay taxes is a dream a lot of Filipinos can only dream of. Even before our meager salaries reach our pockets, taxes are deducted. Whenever we earn something, we pay taxes. We even shoulder the heavy 12% VAT. We are even paying taxes as we sleep. Although we know that these taxes are a burden, we keep on paying them. Why? Because we know that these taxes help us sleep better at night. These taxes are paying for a lot of things that add to our comfort -- security, roads, bridges, peace and order, stability -- to name just a few. These taxes even pay for the roads people park their cars on every Sunday to hear mass. These taxes are keeping our churches safe. These taxes are allowing us to practice our faith safely. But these bishops, they are not paying their taxes. With all the money they receive every mass, with all the donations they receive every time they conduct the sacraments, with all the parcels of land they receive as donations where they build commercial centers and earn money from, NO TAXES. I am very thankful for what Cardinal Sin did for the country. It came at a time when chaos ruled and fear crippled the hearts of many. Our country is not in chaos. Fear is not crippling the hearts of many of our countrymen. I do not see their relevance -- unless of course they pay their taxes. Frank Gonzaga, Commonwealth Heights Subdivision, Quezon City, via e-mail
This refers to your article "Driver error caused fatal NLEX crash" published in the Inquirer.net of 03 November 2008. With the recent spate of accidents in major roads recently, the finding is generally correct in most instances. Most of them were caused by errors in human judgment. The bus driver in the EDSA accident probably thought that the road was a Formula 1circuit. The bus driver in NLEX probably thought that the small vehicle will give way! Maybe it had evaded but it was too late. Haven't you noticed that Philippine drivers prefer to blind an oncoming driver with high beams (while overtaking) rather than take defensive or evasive action? Such arrogance! There is also another side to that, which is psychological in nature that manifests itself in misplaced machismo or a cover up to inferiority complex. Haven't anyone notice whenever someone gets hold of a high position -- suddenly the person is transformed into an arrogant master? Or give someone a gun, and that person feels all powerful? And similarly, give the person a handle on a steering wheel and he becomes both -- arrogant and powerful. But to be fair, not all become that way. The problem is that the law abiding and morally upright persons become victims of the few who mistakenly believe themselves to be above the rest, when in fact they are not. It is only in the Philippines where we have the saying that "a fly on top of the carabao feels taller than the animal". Sorry Guyito! The point is that there should be a way to screen political candidates, law enforcers and drivers so that their dark side may not disrupt the normal functions of society. Alex Maaliw of Fairview Park, Quezon City, via e-mail
By Joel Rocamora THE bishops did it. Their call for a “new government”, then building hope around “liberators” who are “just around the corner” got everyone worked up. A “new government” in advance of the 2010 elections, of course, means the extra constitutional removal of the Arroyo administration. Everyone assumes the bishops are not talking of the Second Coming. Maybe those knights in shining armor who are a long time coming. Conspiracy theorists are having a field day. The impeachment initiative, chacha, and the arrival of Jocjoc Bolante primed the public for the bishops’ statement. Are these moves linked? Is there a master conspiracy behind these linked moves? Did the bishops light the fuse for a coming explosion? Is it a short or a long fuse? The nice thing about conspiracy theories is that we can enjoy dramatic tension even if we cannot find out if there’s anything to the theory. Whether or not the bishops are, consciously or unconsciously, part of a conspiracy, what they’ve done is important because it reminds us that moral outrage does not recognize the political calendar. Practical politicians on both sides of the pro-anti-Gloria divide say talk of liberation have to make way for preparations for the 2010 election, only a year and a half away. The moral sensibility asks why we have to wait. If we can, let’s get rid of her now. Which bishops set the impact. Bishop Oscar Cruz, the constant warrior, tilting endlessly against jueteng. Bishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the CBCP, perennially frustrated by the CBCP’s conservative majority. Bishop Socrates Villegas is bishop of Balanga-Bataan, but he is well known to Manila reform circles from serving as the late Cardinal Sin’s able assistant. Two others signed the statement, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon, and Legazpi Bishop Emeritus Jose Sorra. Who was not with them might also be revealing. The bishops of KME who were not there have in the past been accused of supporting coup attempts. If the KME bishops have been the more public of the Catholic church’s progressive section, the AMRSP has more resources. AMRSP sisters have been Jun Lozada’s bodyguards for most of the last eight months. The bishops’ initiative was apparently at the behest of the AMRSP. Whether intentional or not, the bishops also weighed in on the 2010 elections. Two presidential contenders, Vice President De Castro and Senate President Villar, are clearly not in the bishops’ support list. The two leaders they prefer, Chief Justice Puno and AFP Chief-of-staff Yano, are not running for elective office, but could come in as leaders of an extra-constitutional post-GMA leadership. On its own, the bishops’ initiative is not likely to result in the kind of change they hope for. But it does raise the incendiary potential of other ongoing developments. Bolante’s return has been avidly anticipated. His attempt to avoid having to talk, resulting in two years of imprisonment in the US, indicates the explosive potential of his telling the truth. But early indications are that he’s not going to talk. There’s an apparently coordinated effort to prevent his testimony in the Senate. Even before he returned, his lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent the Senate from reopening hearings on the fertilizer scam, arguing that the investigation is finished. This argument is backed up by administration allies in the Senate led by Senator Angara who says that the Senate long ago submitted its recommendation to the Ombudsman for Jocjoc’s prosecution. For two years, the Ombudsman did nothing, acting only on the day after Jocjoc returned. The positioning of administration lackeys in the Senate is understandable. What needs explaining is the hesitation of Senate President Villar who only moved to have Jocjoc arrested by the Senate the moment he arrived after LP senators threatened to attack him. Villar is also “problematizing” what committee would investigate. Since the Committee on Agriculture is headed by Sen.Angara, the only logical committee is the Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Villar party mate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. Senator Mar Roxas has proposed that the Senate convene as a committee of the whole. Maybe this is where the explanation for Villar’s hesitation lies. He does not want to give Mar Roxas a platform. Villar supporters might also be worried that a Bolante expose would put some life into the impeachment complaint. In the unlikely possibility that GMA does get impeached, it would greatly strengthen the position of another Villar competitor, Vice President De Castro, who would become president. A combination of administration senators and Villar allies, together with the more than one week lapse before the Senate reconvenes could defuse the Bolante issue, even if the Supreme Court refuses to act on Bolante’s petition. The competing political calculations of 2010 election coalitions is also likely to determine the fate of the impeachment complaint. The minority in the House has not, so far, endorsed the complaint. While there is no such thing as impossible in the shifting coalitions of Philippine politics, the complaint is not likely to get the one third of House members needed to move the complaint to the Senate. If its proponents succeed in at least debating the substance of the complaint, that will, under current circumstances, already be a victory. The administration’s move to advance its chacha agenda is potentially more explosive. The attempt, whether it succeeds or not, is proof of opposition suspicions that GMA intends to stay in power beyond the end of her term in 2010. Led by House Speaker Nograles, the administration is mobilizing to secure charter change without involving the Senate. Quite openly, administration stalwarts are saying that if they can get three fourths of the members of both the House and the Senate, they can pass constitutional amendments. For now, the amendment would only remove the prohibition on foreign ownership of land. If Nograles succeeds in getting the 196 votes of House members he needs, the issue will then be raised to the Supreme Court. If GMA allies in the SC affirm the constitutionality of this mode of amending the constitution, there will then be no legal obstacle for GMA and her allies to make the kinds of changes that would keep GMA in power past 2010. The conditions for maximum polarization will then have been set. These kinds of conditions should facilitate the revival of the mass movement. Whether they like it or not, the anti-GMA opposition will be forced to reunite as the likelihood of 2010 elections recedes. It will also force leaders of key political institutions, in particular the SC and more importantly, the AFP, to decide whether their allegiance to the constitution extends past its being mangled. If the Chief-of-staff decides he has no obligation to obey a mangled constitution, the door will be opened for “liberators”. It could then be “a walk in the park”.