Manila has abruptly postponed the ASEAN Summit meeting in Cebu. The first reason given by the government for suddenly moving a much publicized ASEAN Summit Meeting in Cebu City was Typhoon Seniang. Considering that a brand new Convention Center has just been built and Cebu has first class amenities even better than Manila, the typhoon theory did not hold water. Only diehard catastrophists were convinced when a comparison was made to when Indonesia cancelled a similar meeting due to the tsunami that devastated them weeks before. The Weather Service had not issued any dire warnings.
The second reason given is the threat of a terrorist attack. This possibility can never be discounted. But ASEAN was about as well secured in Cebu as in the past. The multiple travel advisories from several of the participants are nothing unusual for a high level international conference like this. There have been the usual dramatics with international and domestic Left protesters, but nothing major. If a terrorist threat had suddenly become credible and imminent enough for an abrupt cancellation such as this, there must have been some sudden development or discovery that the Public is not yet aware of. Yet aside from the postponement, the Palace has said nothing further about what would seem to be a very serious terrorist threat.
Perhaps the real reason lies in terror over the social weather which has turned absolutely threatening, even ominious for Malacanang Palace, after major civil, political, business and especially religious leaders announced plans to hold a series of massive demonstrations next week to oppose recent House moves to unilaterally amend the Constitution and move the May elections. THAT aspect of the Con-Ass operation -- the admitted plan to move the scheduled May 2007 Midterm elections -- has angered the masses of the faithful because of its brazen bad faith. Dean Raul Pangalangan called it "shameless." The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have joined with Mike Velarde and the El Shaddai Movement; the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC); Jesus is Lord Movement of Bro. Eddie Villanueva; and a growing list of other groups that oppose the threatened convening of a constituent assembly next week.
I do not find it at all surprising that it was the various religious and faith groups that reacted so vehemently and immediately to the unilateral House move, whose evident BAD FAITH in planning to move the 2007 May elections.
The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines has always defended the rights of Religion. Even Organized Religion. For even if its national hero, Jose Rizal, is in fact an excommunicant of the Catholic Church -- or perhaps BECAUSE he is an excommunicant of that one majority church, all Filipinos today can claim the Freedom of Religion.
Indeed, today's flourishing assemblies of many believers -- free to preach and to worship the God of their choice at Masses and Services of their free invention -- are proof that religious liberty is well-established in 21st Century Philippines. Not only that. Freedom of Religion is as fiercely defended a civil right as Freedom of Expression. The Constitutionally guaranteed freedom to believe in any God, or no god at all, comes from the freedom to hold a private opinion. Churches, congregations, sects, cults are all forms of organized Religion, just like newspapers, radio and tv are forms of Organized Expression.
The Constitution has stood by Religion. Now Religion appears to repay the Constitution! Because the Members of Religion are also patriotic and loyal citizens of the Republic. Today we are witness to an historic SALUBUNGAN (there is no good English translation) wherein adherents of Organized Religion defend the Constitution in acts of historical gratitude that must be noted for all future generations to see how deeply the Filipinos love and understand Democracy itself!
The Filipinos may not know the detailed provisions of the Constitution. But they know that the Constitution is a sacred contract that contains the conditions upon which they grant their consent to be governed. That there are provisions for amending and revising that contract only means that the People forever reserve the right to remove such consent.
The threat of Jose de Venecia and the House Leadership to postpone the May 2007 elections seems to have brought the struggle for a Unicameral Parliament to another tipping point towards the valley of defeat.
We await the PRESENT Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia who is scheduled to hold a Press Conference at any moment...