I think Sen. Angara makes a cogent case for Part 1 of the above Chacha agenda. I too support the removal of the so-called "nationalistic" provisions of the 1987 Charter, in particular the ban on foreign ownership of important economic entities, such as land and even Media. To support this position, Sen . Angara points to the singular fact that of the $80 billion US dollars in direct investment that annually flows into Asia, the Philippines gets about 0.2 per cent of the total. Why? Well, he's right. If you are an investor, looking to make multimillion dollar investments in Asian countries, would you do so only to buy into a minority stake in the company or economic enterprise you establish? Of course not. You go elsewhere, to countries where they are more hospitable to capital investments.
Angara's LDP fielded the late Fernando Poe Jr. against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 elections, along with Senator Loren Legarda for Vice President, against Noli de Castro. While FPJ's electoral protest was rendered moot and academic by his death in late 2004, Loren Legarda's own electoral protest is still alive -- and though it is getting long in the tooth, it is a sign of Angara's own consummate political chessmanship to have it still in play. Considering that most of the "Irreconcilable Opposition" to GMA are united in the belief that she basically cheated her way into office in 2004 -- the seemingly futile, shot-at-the-moon Legarda protest in the Supreme Court, can only draw implicit if not sympathetic support from the broader anti-GMA opposition. Unkind things have been said of Loren Legarda, mainly by anti-Erap civil-society types like Bhel Cunanan and PDI, as well as the Assumptionista high society fashistas, (her fellow Convent alumnae!) ever since she ran with FPJ against GMA-Noli. Including that she had sold out after being the "Crying Lady Senator Judge" of the Erap impeachment trial in 2001. But I don't think we've heard the last of Loren Legarda. She's one tough woman and will have something yet to contribute to the politics of the Philippines. I understand she may run in the 2007 elections for the Senate -- which she once took by storm in 1998, topping the race as a neophyte political candidate with a whopping 15,000,000 votes, a million more than Gloria Macapagal's own Senate-topping run in 1995.
I don't know if the LDP's backing of Chacha, even in the two-step form proposed by Sen. Angara, will help the overall "Arroyo-backed" choochoo train -- as the ABSCBN anchor pointedly put it for Sen. Angara this evening, who corrected him by saying there are others who support Charter change other than the President (and JDV-FVR).
But does Sen. Angara reflect a more broadly held view within the Senate? Although the Upper House is seen to be largely hostile to Chacha because JDV's unicameral Parliament essentially abolishes it, I don't believe the majority of Senators are against reforming those key economic provisions. There is a broad concensus which does exist across the political spectrum that certain economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution are disincentives to the kind of direct foreign investment the country needs, which no amount of protectionist fervor can fill.
Regarding process, an important clarification has emerged. The mode of charter change called a "constituent assembly" is not a specially assembled thing like a constitutional convention. Rather, the Congress, in its normal configuration as two co-equal Houses of the Legislative Branch of government, may, by votes of three-fourths of their members, and of course voting separately as with all laws passed by the Republic, pass amendments and revisions to the Constitution. All that nonsense about three fourths of the entire membership has fallen into the dustbin where it belongs.
The Congress can actually pass all the constitutional amendments it wants to now, but only in the normal manner of a bicameral legislature, and with the higher three-fourths voting requirement, and the people's approval by plebiscite.
FOR THE NEGATIVE, ON REPEAL OF THE MINING LAW may I suggest the following Speech at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club by author Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) on Environmentalism as Religion in which I think the money quote is as follows:
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.I liked this speech so much that I recorded it for anyone who might like to listen to a rendition of it instead of reading the transcript. (MP3)
There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.
And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.
Now here comes an olde-fashioned BOOK-BURNING, just to complete the scene in Manila.