1. Discontinuance of the present “people’s initiative”.The essential idea behind One Voice's Proposal is to use the 2007 elections as a means of settling the"crisis of legitimacy" of the President, in what it calls an "indirect referendum" on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
2. A social reform program now.
3. Elections in 2007 as scheduled, as an indirect referendum, and electoral reform now.
4. If necessary, a constitutional convention (not a “con-ass”) after the 2007 elections.
5. A collective effort to rebuild the trustworthiness of our democratic institutions.
For the Opposition, One Voice lays down the challenge of winning the required number of seats in Congress to impeach the President, a measly 79, or one-third of the House membership, as mandated by the 1987 Constitution. If they fail, then the Opposition must accept the people's vote as evidence of their decision to let her finish out her full term until 2010. But if they do win enough seats next year, the Palace must accept an impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate to finally settle the issue. Either way, I agree with One Voice, it strengthens democracy by using a "free, fair and credible election" to break the devastating political impasse brought about by that "crisis of legitimacy" of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
On the Palace, One Voice places the onus of helping to ensure a free and fair election, mainly by appointing "the right" people to the Comelec. In fact, at least four out of the seven commissioners, have to be of "unquestioned integrity." The quid pro quo is the possibility of some peace and quiet for Gloria, that there won't be an annual impeachment crisis until 2010--if her side wins next year's elections.
IMPEACH COMELEC: One can already hear the snickering of course, ("What, Gloria the Patron of Garci, appoint honest men to Comelec?"). But I have an idea and a suggestion. Right now, the Supreme Court is in a toe-to-toe battle with the Ombudsman over that suspicious automation deal of the Comelec in 2004. That issue ought to be used to "reform" the Comelec, to take the initiative of Comelec "reform" away from the Palace. Perhaps the House Opposition should impeach Ben Abalos and the other Comelec Commissioners involved in the 2004 hijinks in addition to GMA. The ensuing process can then be used to promote a "free, fair and credible" 2007 elections.
AUTOMATION: But how to ensure that the 2007 elections will be free, fair and most importantly, credible? Mr. Monsod notes wryly that since Congress did not go for full automation for next year's elections, we are stuck with manual elections for 2007. He notes that PGMA had promised in 2001 that the 2004 elections would be automated, but they were not. (They were Garcificated instead.) Christian Monsod brightened considerably when he said, "We have to do it all over again...guard the ballots...make sure the result is fair...just like in 1986." (Paraphrase). He says that there must be at least FOUR members of the Comelec (out of seven) who are acceptable in the sense of having unquestioned integrity...He is recommending heroism and one more go at the old rotten manual electoral system based on Seven Just Men at Comelec. I am both skeptical and admiring of this "one more go" philosophy. But it's depressing to think we can't figure out a way to AUTOMATE the damn elections. How long does it take to put up an automated banking teller system anyway?
I strongly support One Voice's general position and philosophy and have linked to their website, but I am disappointed that One Voice did not take a stronger position on the matter of automation. Unlike Charter Change, every single instant is the right time to automate, as far as I am concerned. Just think of the electoral system as if it were the banking system. Would we say, oh let's just run the banks manually for another year and raise our vigilance on the Bankers"?
NECESSARY, BUT SUFFICIENT? Perhaps it's a generational thing, and the composition of One Voice has no true appreciation of technology. It is calling for a repeat of 20 years ago at Edsa 1. But that historic moment is passed; this is a different time, a different autocrat, and even heroism may not work. We need to get technologically smart about protecting democracy. Heroism will certainly be necessary next year. But will it be sufficient?
Under its proposal ONE VOICE asks the Palace to give up a lot in exchange for the expectation of some peace and quiet should the Opposition "lose" the impasse breaking elections next year. In bullet #1, it asks the Palace to ditch the chacha choochoo train, which may be fine with the President, but will only anger FVR and JDV, whose alter egos are now complaining that the Comelec isn't moving fast enough at counting the millions upon millions of Sigaw Ng Bayan collected signatures under the People's Initiative campaign. I think GMA will give up chacha in exchange for something along the way.
Here is the list of the One Voice Signatories:
Christian S. Monsod ; Raul T. Concepcion ; Ricardo S. Pascua ; Manuel L. Quezon III; Benjamin T. Tolosa, Jr.;Noteworthy in the list of signatories is the presence of the Catholic Church hierarchy, both archbishops and heads of major religious orders and schools, like the Jesuits and the Benedictines, Miriam College and others. As of course, is that of Foreign Affairs Secretary Dick Romulo. Noteworthy for their absence are major figures of the Left, whose presence and anti-democratic ideas in the "Citizens Congress for Truth and Acountability" last year was the Kiss of Death by Turnoff for that movement. The big difference between One Voice and CCTA seems to be this: One Voice seeks to strengthen Democracy, while CCTA's kangaroo court only alienated many in the public sphere because it was just too weird even as Philippine Stalinist theatricality goes.
Most Rev. Ramon C. Arguelles, D.D. (Lipa); Most Rev. Oscar V. Cruz, D.D. (Lingayen); Most Rev. Angel Lagdameo, D.D. (Iloilo); Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D. (Cagayan de Oro); Most.Rev. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, OP. D.D. (Caceres); Most Rev. Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, D.D. (Cotabato); Most Rev. John F. Du, D.D. (Dumaguete); Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr., D.D. (Caloocan); Most Rev. Florentino G. Lavarias, D.D. (Iba); Fr. Daniel Patrick L. Huang, SJ (Philippine Jesuit Provincial); Fr. Albert F. Alejo, SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Carmelo A. Caluag II, SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Jose Magadia SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, SJ (Ateneo) ; Fr. Primitivo F. Viray, SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Tarciso Ma. H. Narciso, OSB (San Beda); Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ (Ateneo); Sister Sonia Aldeguer (Univ. of the Philippines);
Carmencita T. Abella; Ernesto M. Aboitiz; Fernando T. Aldaba; Felipe B. Alfonso; Rafael Alunan III; Maria Corazon M. Alcol; Antoinette Palma Angeles; Fely Aquino Arroyo; Rene B. Azurin; Elvie Baladad; Eric Batalla; Alfredo I. Benipayo; Florangel Rosario Braid; Mary Belle S. Beluan; Johnny Cardenas; Meneleo J. Carlos Jr.; Ramon Casiple ; Lydia Balatbat Echauz; Baltazar N. Endriga; Narcisa Escaler; Easter A. Garcia; Ricardo P. Guevara; Milwida Guevara; Luie Tito F. Guia; Ronald Holmes; Grace Gorospe Jamon; Armando D. Jarilla; Vicente T. Jayme; Anna Marie Karaos; Antonio G.M. La Viña Telibert Laoc; Augusto Lagman ; Vincent Lazatin ; Patricia B. Licuanan; Isa Lorenzo; Damaso G. Magbual; Melba Maggay; Victorino M. Manalo; Carlos P. Medina, Jr.; Elizabeth Melchor; Solita C. Monsod; Toby C. Monsod; Vitaliano N. Nañagas II; Conrado S. Navarro; Jose Noel D. Olano; Susan V. Ople; Vicente T. Paterno; Lourdes R. Quisumbing; Remedio I. Ruben; Jessie M. Robredo; Ricardo J. Romulo; Melison Salazar Jr.; Evelyn Singson; Wigberto F. Tanada; Janette C. Toral; Nena Del Rosario;
I wish One Voice Godspeed for it seems to be an earnest effort by some Edsa One personalities to break the political impasse by using Democracy, not breaking it-- as many in this group and the larger Edsa Dos "civilian-military-judicial" uprising did in 2001. Democracy has certainly suffered a One-Two at our hands, in 2001 and 2004. Look at Edsa Dos -- that was basically an unconstitutional nullification of the indubitably fair and credible result of the 1998 election. And 2004 was a wholesale electoral fraud, if the Garci tapes are believed. Maybe "One Voice" is also an Act of Contrition by some very reverend and illustrious persons, a catharsis of self-recognition at what happened during the Erap Regime Change, a reaffirmation of the Edsa One revolution over the Edsa Dos coup.
I would only add: Trust but automate!
MLQ3 posted on this new movement yesterday, which also put out full page newspaper advertisements.
BREAKING NEWS: The President reportedly had a tummy ache last night and was in hospital for tests. (Bad brandy?) Her trips to Compostela Valley and Davao today have been cancelled (apparently on word of a large rally by miners in the NPA-infested area.)