Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Overhearing the Palace Thinking

rom time to time, documents fall into the public domain that reveal the candid thinking of those at the highest levels of government. In the long, unclosed Book of Gloriagate, a persistent theme has been that of a Presidency defending itself in the name of the Republic but exercising what Manuel L. Quezon III called Scorched Earth Governance. Today, courtesy of the highly recommended weblog of Journalist Ellen Tordesillas, Philippine Commentary reproduces in full a very revealing and substantial document that may lend insight into the accusation that the survival of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has become confounded with the survival of the Republic itself. If this document IS what it purports to be it reveals how the advisers around the President viewed the political situation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sometime after the House of Representatives had quashed an Opposition impeachment move against her last September 7. Gloriagate was then four months old. Today, six months into Gloriagate, that wild roller coaster ride of controversy is still in frenetic orbit with the sudden reappearance of Virgilio Garcillano. Never has the nation been so divided between the apathetic or helpless on one hand, and the people who can not only afford principles but intend to uphold them. There is no shame in belonging to the latter for the former is what some used to call the trapos and the Erap supporters, though in what follows such picturesque language is not used. [Trapos are "traditional politicians" but the pejorative term is double entendre as the term in Pilipino literally means an old, dirty rag.]

The most wanted man in the Philippine Archipelago has reappeared -- hooded in "Muslim" headgear, and hidden in a "hut" that Henry Omaga Diaz says felt like somewhere "over a mountain and across a river," -- with a towel over his head, claiming to be the victim of wiretapping, not the perpetrator of voterigging, -- and suing the very Congress for gravely abusing its discretion to hold in contempt and warrant the arrest of an honest and God-fearing Comelec Commissioner, as Garci. It is dated 9 September 2005, but there are marginal notes (handwritten words) referring to events in October, when it was most likely presented to the President and the National Security Council. One can of course see the traces of this paper in the subsequent events, one reason to think it may be relevant, but...

Disclaimer: Philippine Commentary cannot vouch for the veracity, accuracy or relevance of this document. It is reproduced here in whatever Public Interest may be attracted to some odd bit of text in a weblog. It's author is unknown, maybe it's a plant or kuryente. Its provenance is uncertain, and it cannot be represented as being the work of any particular person, official or agency. Its ultimate value is probably merely rhetorical. No thoughtful person can ignore the mixture of patriotic and selfish sentiments here expressed, as Gloriagate is not a black and white thing. The spirit in which this is done is that of Jose Rizal in his Dedication of the Noli Me Tangere, to expose the object of disease upon the steps of the Temple, so that those who have just prayed, may help in its diagnosis. Perhaps there are things the public can see that their leaders cannot, and in that knowledge, they may secure their own freedoms and liberties even if the government will not. What I know is this. Many of our allies do not trust this government because of its demonstrated inconstancy and selfish treachery to firm commitments that do have a bearing on life and death, war and peace. Anything that will inform us of the way the Palace thinks, may be crucial to the common weal. A related post is: America's Interests and the Fate of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. I provide this link because the Situationer does not really consider "foreign policy" issues, perhaps because that was beyond the purview of its author. Mostly however, I am glad at the confirmation by Palace insiders, of the pertince of some of my speculations in these posts from a month ago: Game Theory and Gloriagate and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Veto Holders.

In fine, the following reveals a manner of thinking indistinguishable from that of the Palace's most organized enemies, the Far Left and the Far Out of both Civil and Evil Societies. This only deepens the perception that politics in the Philippines is a war among political Mafias far MORE than it is a battle of ideas or values -- a struggle among high paid consiglieri, communist cadre, and the trapos, all wearing patriots' clothing, and vying either to seize power and territory or desperately hold on to it. This theme was developed in The Paradox of People Power.

But on to the Situationer from the Palace...and the "government" that Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin got me so riled up over during Pinky Webb's show that I called Rep. Rodolfo Antonino an insipid Palace sycophant in "Was the Adam & Eve of All Tapes Digital?".
(Boy I sure hope I spelt SYCOPHANT right. Hey Rizalist, go get Websters Unabridged would you...?)


(1245) CITIZEN TEDDY BOY LOCSIN was talking to RICKY CARANDANG on Dateline News Philippines (ABS-CBN News). Those who think the gene pool of the Archipelago has run out are dead wrong! The Congressman from Makati is absolutely fed up with the whole Garci affair and says what he wants is for the public's intelligence not to be insulted any more. He must be referring to the BIG FAT LIES of Secretary Ignacio Bunye and the Palace, one of them being the thing that ignited the whole controversy, which Teddy Boy describes as "there's a real coverup!" -- vowing to summon Bunye and Bong Ruado to Congress. I have said it myself many times. The worst thing about our present state is having to swallow lies that insult not only our consciences but also our simple, God-given intelligence. But more importantly he puts the HEART OF THE MATTER succinctly: Who recorded, produced and/or procured and released the Garci conversations? Who has the power in this country to bug a President and Comelec Commissioner and precipitate a crisis of this magnitude? That is a national security issue that can and should be prosecuted independent of the contents of the tapes. [paraphrased from TV broadcast.] DO IT! The truth may be hard for many to bear, but it will set the rest of us free from a Gulag of Lies.

ZUGZWANG: A term used in the Situationer -- UNSTABLE STALEMATE -- is a pure oxymoron, among chess afficionados. But for the political situation precipitated by Gloriagate and the Garci tapes, perhaps the more apt descriptor is ZUGZWANG. But for which side?

Briefing for the Cabinet
(9 September 2005)


Last September 7, after almost 24 hours of marathon plenary session, Congress voted 158 against 51 to end the impeachment complaint against the President. Days prior, tensions rose after former President Aquino and Ms. Susan Roces along with members of a civil society movement called the “Coalition for Truth” held prayer and unity rallies in support of the pro-impeachment bloc in the lower house. The group vowed to take its cause to the streets should the impeachment complaint not push through.

A few hours before the final rally in Congress showed a decisive defeat by the pro-impeachment bloc, government braced for the worst. Some of the leading political luminaries of EDSA 1 and 2, including Mrs. Aquino herself marched side by side with militant groups and close to 10,000 supporters. A de facto solidarity emerged on that day among the mainstream opposition militants identified with the extreme left, moderate civil society groups, even rightist groups on the single agenda of causing the ouster of the President. But the “revolutionary moment” did not materialize.

Aside from our worst fear of a violent confrontation, what was it that this government just averted, or will have to continue to guard against within the coming weeks or months?

The unstable stalemate induced by the three-month old wiretap controversy has brought about a delicate and complicated security picture. Shadowy groups have emerged, convinced that the only solution to the crisis lies outside of a system they have already condemned as a failure.They are trying to find allies among politicians and vested interest groups, who might be looking fro an opening to advance their own political ambitions. They are seeking alliances with unwitting civil society groups… for legitimate reforms in society. Should these groups succeed in … .. extra-constitutional closure to the controversy, we will have in our hand at best, as shaky transition government that could set us back by several years.

This political situationer will:

· Present a profile of the new breed of threats we are confronting and the implications, and
· Provide an assessment of the prevailing ground situation as it affects these groups’ interventionist agenda.


More than three weeks ago, we alerted the NSC Cabinet group to the increasing number of loosely organized alliances calling fro extra-constitutional options. Let us review these groups, their intentions, capabilities and their weaknesses.

Intentions. These groups vary by level of radicalism. But the ultimate objective of these newly emerging groups is to set up a revolutionary government that is purportedly transitional in nature. It is to be headed by some form of council that will “rule the country temporarily” until the elections are conducted. Usually, the proposed council is to be composed of a broad coalition of civilian and (in some proposals) military leaders, and from most indications would include even such groups as the CPP/NPA/NDF as sitting members. Upon assumption of power, there are proposals to suspend the Constitution and dismantle the legislature. The major decision-making powers will be concentrated on the ruling council.

· The strategy for intervention is to unite all groups demanding the resignation or ouster of the President, galvanize a united peoples’ stand against the government, and force an extra-constitutional solution to the crisis most probably through another civilian-military uprising.

· There is a lot of activity going on in the untied front effort and apparently meeting significant success. Between and among themselves, there is already an emerging alliance. They have also linked up with other key GMA-resign forces such as the Lacson and FPJ-Susan Roces and Villanueva camps.

· One of the first groups to call for an extra-legal solution to the crisis is General Abat’s Coalition fro national survival (CNS) which called for the setting up of a civilian-military junta to be headed by himself and other unnamed civilian and military leaders. The CNS issued a manifesto purportedly signed by 50 other civil society groups.

· The Estrada camp later on endorsed the idea and proposed its own council composed of 9 to 15 leaders to be headed by the deposed President himself. Among those to be invited to the council are Senators Lacson and Enrile, Mayor Binay, and Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

· Identified with the Estrada camp is the UP Aware and Laban ng Masa composed of former UP heads, members of the academe and student groups. The latter called for drastic political change which will dismantle the whole government and replace it with a revolutionary, transitional one. Intelligence information revealed that Estrada actually funded the UP Aware’s proposed political platform.

· Militant groups and partylist identified with the CPP/NPA/NDF called for drastic political change through the total dismantling of the entire Arroyo government.

· The Unity for Truth and Justice marked its public debut with a proposal to set up a Multi-Partisan Revolutionary Council to be headed by Susan Roces, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, and Boy Morales. The CPP/NPA is also being invited to sit in the council.Jose Ma. Sison was quoted by Utrecht press to have endorsed plans for the setting up of a revolutionary transition government.

· The Young Officers Union New Generation (YOUNng), which claims to be a younger batch of the original YOU that launched a series of military coups against Cory Aquino in the late 80’s also joined in and vowed to bring down the Arroyo government and set up a revolutionary government in its place.

· The Solidarity Movement called for the establishment of a caretaker transition government that will rule the country for two years. The group is inviting Reporma leader Renato de Villa as head of the caretaker government. Personalities such as Mrs. Aquino, Ms. Roces, Liwayway Chato, Eddie Villanueva, and Senators Lacson and Drilon will be invited to lead the transition government.

· The Cory Aquino camp is now endorsing people power to [pressure the President to resign or cause her ouster. The Cory factor should be given careful attention. The forces identified with her are known for their persistence in causing the ouster of a regime particularly Marcos. Some members of the so-called HYATT 10, particularly Secretaries Dinky Soliman, Ging Deles and Butch Abad have linked up with her.

Based on an analysis of the composition of these groups, it is evident that the main forces behind the clamor for extra-constitutional options are the Estrada camp and the groups identified with the leftist movement. These are forces that have been infiltrating the rest of the anti-Arroyo forces in society in an attempt to forge a united front with them. They already have the grassroots support to push their agenda but they need groups such as Cory forces to facilitate the other conditionalities for a successful people power.

Capabilities. These new emerging groups are structurally amorphous and some of them, still underground at this point. However, they have the following strengths:

· Moral and political clout (Cory group, Villanueva camp, some members of the mainstream opposition, UP Aware);

· Logistics and resources (Estrada camp, partylist);

· Well-developed organizational networking and mobilization and propaganda machinery (extreme leftist militants and partylist);

· Grassroots support and mass base (Estrada camp and extreme leftist militants and partylist );

· Armed component or capability to launch terrorist attacks (CPP/NPA identified groups); and,

· Clout in the military and police (CNS, Estrada, Lacson and De Villa camps)

Vulnerabilities. The main weaknesses of these newly emerging groups are lack of assured support from the armed forces, lack of consensus on a single rallying figure, lack of agreement on the extent and nature of political change being sought, internal disunity or incohesiveness, and identification with suspicious/discredited political agenda/politicians. For instance, proposals fro a ruling council or juntas to be manned by discredited and vested-interest groups are alienating to the more conservative but influential sectors of Philippine society.

( Marginal note written by hand on the above paragraph: “AFP, divided into 3 groups- FVR, militant AFP, GMA/FG loyalists. De Casto package to take-over only to oversee snap election. As of Sept. De Castro is not willing.”)


Let us now examine the evolving ground situation and how this could affect these new threat groups, destabilization and interventionist designs. To a large extent, the
Succeeding discussions also provide explanations as to why such groups have failed so far in their agenda.

Political Alignments: Emerging Trends

Let us start with the emerging patterns and trends of political alignments. A close look at the positions of key sectors and stakeholders on relevant issues reveals that these destabilizers have not reached consensus with the former on vital questions. Let us take a look at these issues one by one.

On Calls for the President’s Resignation. On the issue of the President’s resignation, quit-calls gathered momentum after several important sectors withdrew their support from the Arroyo Administration and public opinion turned for the worse during the first month of the crisis.

o There is already a consensus among the mainstream political opposition, intellectuals/professionals groups and extreme leftist militants that the President must go. Two former presidents share the same view (Aquino and Estrada).

o Other influential sectors are divided. (Next to this sentence is a handwritten note:”Good proper strategy (carrot and stick) of PGMA group is continuously dividing the church-business society.)

o In the religious community, the influential catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Couples for Christ, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and the Bible Believers League for Morality and Democracy (BBLMD) refused to join calls fro the resignation of the President. Other religious groups such as the El Shaddai and the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) tend to be supportive of PGMA. A faction of the Protestant community and Brother Eddie Villanueva’s JIL, however, have taken an opposite position.

(Marginal note on CBCP: “change in CBCP will lead to call fro PGMA resignation.” On CFC: “”Undecided”. On El Shaddai and INC: “have not taken call for resignation’)

o Big business is also divided. A faction of the Makati Business Club under Luz and Romulo and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FEIP) called on the President to step down. An MBC group under Yuchengco, the Philippine Chamber of commerce and Industry (PCCI), the Federation of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCCI), and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) took a contrary position. The PCCI and ECOP were among the first to express approval of Congress decision to junk the impeachment case against the President. PCCI also appealed fro an end to protest actions after the historic September 7 plenary voting. (Marginal note: “Business maintains conditional support fro PGMA-profit motivated.”)

o The more moderate civil society groups are also inching closer towards a consensus on the President’s resignation. The CODE-NGO, Plunder Watch, KOMPIL 2, and the newly launched White Ribbon and September 7 Movement, coalition for Truth and Black and White Movement are some of the middle forces that called fro the President’s resignation or ouster through impeachment.

At present, her Excellency’s support base in government remains formidable even if it was recently challenged by the falling away of some members of her political coalition and cabinet.

At the local government level, the President’s support base is intact. Majority of provincial governors, municipal mayors, councilors and barangay officials are rallying behind her.

(Marginal note: “cannot be sustained for so long since government will start delaying delivery of IRA project funds. Sept.”

Likewise, there has been no mass exodus so far within the ranks of pro-administration congressmen as shown by the voting in Congress last plenary session.

(Marginal note: FVR/JDV formula is to cut short PGMA term. JDV leadership in the House must be calibrated for possible new Speaker. Nograles, Pichay, Fuentebella, Cojuangco boy.)

Meanwhile, public opinion showed signs of softening during the second month of the crisis. We have also yet to see the latest surveys to determine if this has changed for better or for worse after the impeachment battle in Congress.

(Marginal note:”Due to optimism impact of impeachment.”)

The President’s net trust rating now stands at – 24 per the latest 2-4 August survey by the SWS conducted in Metro Manila. This is a significant improvement from the –33 rating last may considering that MM has always been traditionally oppositionist.

(Marginal note:”Lowest ever for a President. Lower than Marcos.”)

As of August, there are also fewer people demanding the President’s resignation. In the same survey, 53% think the President should resign against 37% who think otherwise.This is an improvement from the 59% wanting her to resign and 31% opposing it in the 12-14 July SWS survey. The net negatives have been reduced by 43% in a matter of 21 days. This is a significant change.

Likewise, the same survey revealed that fewer people now believe that the economy would worsen should the president remain in power until 2010. The rate of change constitutes a 61% turnaround.

Her Excellency’s international image also enjoyed a boost lately after international surveys projected her as one of the world’s strongest women (Forbes survey). The US also expressed optimism that PGMA can still turn things around if she would push through with reforms.

On the Manner of Resolving the Crisis. On the manner of resolving the crisis, many sectors and the rest of the public show an overall willingness at present to give constitutional processes a chance to take their course.

· The mainstream opposition rightist civil society groups and CPP-NPA identified militants and partylist have been at the forefront of efforts to foment another popular uprising. Like we said earlier, within such circles, there are attempts to secure public endorsement for radical options in the form of either a junta-style government (CNS, Erap camp, Unity for Truth and Justice) or a revolutionary transition government (UP Aware, solidarity Movement, militant groups).

· Many key sectors, however, remain averse to people power and other extra-constitutional modes as option to resolve the crisis. Big business, the religious sector (with the exception of a few factions), and the US (as a major influence in the international community) are calling for sobriety and for allowing legally prescribed mechanisms and processes to take their course. This appears to be a significant inhibiting factor to the eruption of any unmanageable level of public emotionalism at this point.

· Likewise, the attitude of the general public is tempered at this point, even though the people are not inclined to just let the issue rest. In the June survey by the SWS in Metro manila, an overwhelming 77% of the respondents said they want some things to be done. Only 20% agreed that the controversy should be put to an end.

- Of the things they wanted done, there was abroad reference for due process. The most popular answers were: more investigation to find out the truth at 26 %, resignation at 18%, airing of the tape in public at 13%, impeachment at 7% and have an election at 6%. Only a very negligible percentage suggested power people and a recount of the votes.

- The July 2005 nationwide survey by Pulse Asia also tends to validate SWS findings in this regard. Only 7% actually support the option of the President being removed from office by any means, including unconstitutional ones.

On Consensus on Alternative Leaders. Another inhibiting factor that we noted is the lack of clear consensus at present on an alternative leader. Compared to EDSA 1 and2 revolts, the requirement for an alternative leader appears to be higher this time around.

· The Vice President is the constitutional successor and leads the people’s choice of alternative leaders at 26%, according to Pulse Asia’s July nationwide survey. The opposition, however, is posing resistance to the Vice President because there is little political gain for them in this scenario.

(Marginal note: “October indicators show increasing acceptance for De Castro as transition for snap election.)

· In the opposition camp, there appears to be a strengthening move to prop up Ms. Susan Roces. We are inclined to assume that the Erap camp is open to the idea. United Opposition Senator Pimentel already hinted that Ms. Roces could be an effective unifying figure for the opposition. However, Ms. Roces has not made known any clear personal political agenda even though she has pledged her willingness to support a people’s initiative.

· Senator Lacson is another possible alternative. Pulse Asia July nationwide survey showed Lacson as the second choice (21%) of the people.

(Marginal note: “Money and force could keep him afloat.”)

· We are considering the possibility that former President Estrada retained the loyalty of some of his old supporters. In the July nationwide survey by Pulse Asia, he ranked third at 11%, Estrada has offered to head a transitional revolutionary council. He would have to contend, however, with the same forces that ousted him.

(Marginal note: “Nil possibility.”)

· Only recently, the Solidarity Movement floated Reporma leader Renato de Villa as alternative leader, possibly in a bid to win support from the military.

(Marginal note: “Not yet firm up.”)

On Charter Change. In a no –impeachment scenario, the battle now appears set to branch out to the issue of Carter change.

· Thirty-two House members have already started campaign to secure support for Charter Change. There appears to be strong support at the lower house and at the government levels.

· Business appears divided. Guillermo Luz did not speak for the MBC per se but voiced his opposition to Charter change. The heads of the Bankers Association of the Philippines, PCI, Federation of RP Industries, and Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on the other hand, are open to the idea.

· The religious sector. the Bishops-Ulama conference has endorsed the proposal.

· Partylist groups identified with the Left (Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Akbayan, and Partido ng Manggagawa) have voiced out their resistance to Chacha.

· At the public opinion level, it is clear that the people do not know enough about the Constitution to make an informed choice at this point.

- The latest August survey by the SWS found that only 22% know enough about parliamentary system. Of the 22%, respondents are evenly split at 10% on whether they feel it would work fro the country.

- The respondents are also divided on the issue of which is more important, 22% say Charter change is more important and 25 % say the two are equally important.

- These surveys mean that with more education and information drive, public opinion could still turn around either way.
Trends in Protest Actions.Let us now examine the prevailing trends in protest actions. The recent indicators are not very favorable for destabilizers.

· Reduced Frequency, Inceased Coordination. After more than a month of sustained rallies, the frequency of protest actions in connection with quit calls went down after the SONA and then picked up on the run up to the plenary battle.

· Anti-Arroyo rallies were highest a the onset of the controversy, at the start of the Congressional investigation a the height of Congressional debte on the playing of the tape and the July 13 Makati rally, the SONA rallies, and the days prior and after the Congressional voting on the impeachment.

· However, there appears to be increased coordination of rallies as protestors who will initially deploy themselves in separate locations in Metro Manila would eventually converge in a single rally site in Makati and Batasan area. Recently, there have been attempts to revive the People Power Monument in EDSA as convergence site.

Not enough Warm Bodies. Participation in rallies has not yet reached critical levels – the highest number achieved so far is between 28,000 to 40,000. Rallies after the impeachement battle in Congress theinned even more to only 8,000 at a time.

(Marginal note: “Due to change in strategy of rally organizers. We have yet to see the new mode of protest.”

Dominance of Left-Leaning Groups. It is very revealing that in most of these protest actions, the left-leaning groups are decidedly dominant.

· From January 2005 to date, 82% of protst actions were largely instigated by the leftist militants.

· There remains a basic wariness towards the leftist militants. Recently, however, it has been quite successful in forging tactical alliances with mainstream opposition personalities, the Erap camp particularly the People’s Movement against Poverty (PMAP), and oust-Gloria groups.

The CPP’s Destabilization Plot. Let us consider the CPP/NPA factor. For the past several weeks since the start of the crisis, the intelligence community has been monitoring reported plans by Leftist movement to launch a destabilization drive.

· The plot involves the employment of provocateurs in the rally sites, assassinations, and the lauching of terrorist attacks. We suspect that the plot may already be operational.

· Last week, after the House Committee on Justice rejected all three impeachment complaints against the Presient, militant groups clashed violently with anti-riot personnel. Dozens were hurt in the incident.

· Significantly, after agreeing a couple of days ago to return to the negotiation table, the NDF panel once again pulled out of the talks just last night. This could mean that it’s destabilization drive could come full circle in the near future.

Vulnerability of the Military to Infiltration. Let us now discuss the increased vulnerability of the military to infiltration by destabilizers.

· We do not believe that the conditions for a successful coup to be launched by factions of the military already exist.
· Nevertheless, the military remains a primary target of infiltration by provocateurs and destabilizers. The ranks of younger officers are particularly prone due to the reality of deeply-rooted internal military problems.


Let us now examine how the crisis has taken its toll on the economy.

Pre-Crisis Situation. We must point out that before the twin controversies of alleged jueteng payola and poll fraud erupted, there were sure early signs of an economic recovery despite the impact of soaring prices. Revenue collection posted improvements not seen in many years, the budget deficit eased up, international credit rating agencies gave favorable reviews, stock market performance and the peso were stable and the national economy grew strongly.

Current Situation. At present, the economy still retains its resiliency despite the current uncertainties but the prospect of a long-drawn out political crisis could eventually take serious toll on economic recovery efforts.

(Marginal note: “Take-off is not insight- govt must start ”painting” a new landscape.”)

* After sustaining heavy losses during the first month of the crisis, stock markets are again showing signs of recovery. Prior to the impeachment battle in Congress, trading was almost back to the pre-crisis level.

- Compared to the lows experienced by the local stock markets during Estrada’s impeachment crisis, the current situation is still better off.
- The local bourses are trading between 1,800 to 2,000 points currently. At the height of Estrada’s impeachment crisis, trading was only between 1,300 and 1,500 points.

* The peso is also showing signs of weakening after breaching the P56 to the dollar mark at the height of political tensions. Still analysts are of the opinion that the peso has held remarkably steady during the past three months. In the first three months of the crisis, the peso was fluctuating at a daily average of —centavos. The current trend is less serious compared to the last three months of Estrada’s crisis when the peso was fluctuating at daily average of 31 centavos. Likewise, during the first three months of our current political crisis, the peso depreciated by P1.77 (from P54.51 to P56.28) This is much better performance compared to the first three months of Estrada’s crisis when the peso depreciated by P5.32 (from P46.36 to P51.68).

* A discouraging trend in the economic sector is the downgrading of our credit rating by Moody. Fitch and Standard and Poor from stable to negative largely in reaction to the TRO on the EVAT, JP Morgan, however, upgraded RP’s credit rating from negative to neutral.

*Fluctuating world prices of crude oil is also expected to further complicate the security picture. Last month, crude oil price hit a historic high of $70 per barrel and we are already sitting on a 7.2% inflation rate as of August.


Let us consider the impact of our present political woes on governance.

(Marginal note: “Options – (separate briefing) resignation. Leave of absence, national govt. of Solidarity, creeping governance , and revolt within.”)

Everyone agrees, some painful and necessary reforms are needed fro the country to move forward. There are important reforms the government should undertake in the fiscal section, agriculture, defense and security, counterterrorism, and governance. But the government is prevented from doing so by this kind of divisive politics that has been with us for sometime now.

The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy could not have put it more accurately. Its 30 July 2005 report said, “Political rivals are tying up the country in knots. The whole affair shows how divided Philippine politics is and how difficult it is for any leader to push meaningful and badly needed reforms.


That brings us to our conclusion. More than the instability it is causing, the brand of politics we are currently experiencing is:

· Making the country a breeding ground for radical and competing groups offering the political formulas that could either only lead to further uncertainty or signal a return to dictatorship – or both.

· Sabotaging the economy and preventing it from maximizing recent indications of economic recovery, and

· Slowing the government down, preventing it from carrying out real reforms in the economic and the political system.

At this point, we are concerned about several questions. First, do the conditions for a successful intervention by groups calling for extra-constitutional solutions already exist?

Recent developments show that some crucial conditions are still lacking which explains why anti-Arroyo forces have failed at this point to exploit “golden opportunities”. These conclusions were not strict requirements in the past EDSA revolts. But the situation might be different this time, given the magnitude of prevailing national problems.

- They lack a clear consensus on an acceptable alternative.

- There is no agreement either on a clear political plan of action in an exit-scenario. Some of the alternatives offered are either alienating to the more moderate sectors or do not provide enough details as to capture the imagination of the public and key power blocs, specially the military.

(Marginal note: “it is all geared up- waiting for its tipping point. PGMA to continuously update and shape her exit plan.”)

- In short, the Arroyo Administration is still the best alternative at present. We also witnessed how her Excellency’s support base consolidated at critical times.
Second, now that Congress has decided there will no impeachment against the President for at least one year, are our troubles over?

· A stalemate situation remains. This is so because the President’s enemies clearly do not accept the decision of congress. While civil society groups are taking their cause to the streets, pro-impeachment politicians vowed to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. They also vowed to continue investigation into the issue in both chambers of the legislature. Senate already started its own probe.

· The following trends are like to continue in the coming weeks or months.
- Destabilization campaign by anti-Arroyo forces, specially the CPP. (If the opportunity does not exist, then the opportunity will be created.)
- Demolition politics against the President, more dirt to be dug up; sustained trial by publicity; and
- Intensification of solidarity works by groups calling for extra-legal measures to cause the removal of the President.
· The stalemate is an uneasy one but the situation is holding. We are not yet over the hump, but there are favorable signs that the crisis has softened in the past several weeks. These include:
-Improvement in the President’s popularity
-Thinning number of protesters in major rallies
-Manageable negative impact on the national economy:continued economic resiliency.
· Nevertheless, there are future flashpoints that could be a factor in dramatically changing the current ground situation, e.g. EVAT issue, Charter Change and incoming oil crisis.

The last question we wish to address is what should the government do in the coming months. There will be a race for the people’s hearts and minds. At present the Administration and the anti-government side are competing for the support of key sectors that have yet to make a definite stand on the matter. Some of the influential blocs in society include:

· Other political parties such as the Liberal Party (LP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) that have yet to take a united and official party stand on the issue.

· While refusing to join quit-calls, the Catholic Church has adopted an open-ended position that could still change in the future.
(Marginal note; “Until December – we expect to see a radical posturing under the new CBCP leadership in January 2006.”)

· The armed forces has retained an apolitical stand since the start of the crisis. We are aware, however, that a large segment of the military is quietly sitting on the fence right now, waiting for developments. While we trust our AFP, we cannot discount the possibility that in the event that the government fail to control the situation, it will step in if only to save the country from anarchy.”
Hence, if these power blocs in society along with a big chink of the silent public are discouraged by the Anti-Administration side due to its current weaknesses, then such weaknesses should become the government’s strength.
In this connection, these are our recommendations:

· Visible sustained and invigorated reform and governance approach in key areas: peace and order, energy, poverty reduction, counterterrorism, fiscal policy, anti-graft and corruption drive.
· Harness what remains of the government’s support base.
· Clear, detailed and decisive plan of political action in the event of worst-case civil disturbance scenarios.
· Formulation and adoption of a roadmap fro political change and reform.
At the end of the document are more marginal notes:
Underlined is “US factor is critical”.
Under it were three items: 1) Determine role in the crisis; 2) FVR continue to play the “bridge” for US thinking in Philippine scenario;3) role of RP in US policy for Asia (no longer lead role).

Next to those items were more notes: “Poor acceptability of GMA in Bush administration; high risk for US under PGMA;incompatibility of interest between GMA boys and US business; declining public popularity not conducive to the US; indifference of international community to GMA leadership (Japan, China, Germany, EU and Muslim countries; high profile graft.”

Additional marginal notes: “CPR, propa, House probe to be restricted, media management, offensive media plan.” “Economic emergency measures, takeover of basic facilities, bring down tariff, prices” “Keep EVAT hanging to appease public , to meet creditors requirement.” “Check on FVR moves.”

And a proud salute to all the winners at the Southeast Asian Games!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Was the Adam & Eve of All Tapes Digital?

HINK you understand the Strange Case of the Amazing Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano? I don't. Ever since this whole thing started, with Ignacio Bunye raising up two CDROMs and calling one a fake and the other legitimate -- but getting it wrong -- the Garci conversations have been endlessly reproduced and different verions have appeared in various file sizes, compression formats, media, and editions: PCIJ, Lacson, Paguia, Tatad, plus everyone capable of making an MP3. Then there is the former NBI Deputy Director Sammy Ong who claims to have the Mother of All Tapes. But does Sammy Ong really have the "original" or "genuine" source of all the versions of the Garci Conversations scattered all over the Archipelago? Could there be a Grandmother or Grandfather of All Tapes. A Great-Great Grandmother of all Tapes?

But in thinking things over, I have come to one inescapable conclusion:

Any version of the Garci conversations which contain military-sounding voices introducing a series of conversations with time and place information ahead of each one CANNOT be the Adam & Eve of All Tapes.

Why? Because such versions of the Garci conversations are OBVIOUSLY recordings being made from other pre-existing recordings, otherwise how would each military sounding voice KNOW the identities, sex, or names of the conversants in the recording if such annotations were being done BEFORE the recordings were made?? We are forced to the conclusion that all these versions are recordings of recordings being made, presumably by ISAFP personnel, for the convenience of somebody else's review and action.

This leads to a stunning possibility. It is entirely possible, in fact highly probable that the source materials are DIGITAL SOUND FILES (probably hundreds if not thousands of them depending on the actual scale of the purported wiretapping operation) stored on a hard disk in a PC or Laptop that was originally connected to Cell Phone Interceptor gear, which collected the raw data. The ownership of such equipment by NBI and ISAFP was exposed by Rep. Roilo Golez of Paranaque, Rep. Boying Remulla of Cavite and the five Congressional Committees investigating the Garci Conversations a few months ago.

IT STANDS TO REASON: For it would be illogical and a logistic nightmare to mount a months-long wiretapping operation on Virgilio Garcillano and several others using a hefty old Akai Double Reel Analog Tape Recorder. Not when ISAFP has UberTech German SuperCell InterZeptors putting out 48 Khz digitized audio through an IEEE-488 high speed link or FireWire channel that would more efficiently be controlled by a laptop personal computer with a couple 120 Gigabyte hard disks and on-board DVDROM streamwriters. (Don't you just love this sexy tech talk?). This would be true even if an analog bug had been installed in Garci's phone (the one allegedly gifted to him by Bong Pineda's wife) that was transmitting to a nearby interceptor base. Digital systems are just so much cheaper and more available than analog systems, which are expensive and actually hard to find since the market for them is practically nil. I mean, what serious audiophile or wiretapper would use casette tapes any more? It may be true that Sargeant Doble did sell such analog tapes to Laarni Enriquez, a mistress of deposed President Joseph Estrada, who then gave copies to Lacson, Tatad and Paguia. But that would only mean all the tapes in the public domain are derived from an original source that remains undiscovered.

HYPOTHESIS: I think it would be a good working hypothesis to adopt -- that the Adam and Eve of All Tapes is not an analog magnetic tape at all, but a bunch of digital files. Probably WAV or OGG or MP3. It was from these files that various analog tapes were made that then found their way into MP3s on weblogs and CDROMs on street corners in the University Belt. This hypothesis is consistent with the observation that the tapes that have come into the public domain do not have characteristic screeching or tape winding and rewinding sounds, a signature of the random access capability of a digital process of editing and collation. No wonder the Garci sound recordings have always struck me as being "clean," -- its because the Adam & Eve of All Tapes almost certainly was digital.

IMPLICATIONS: One of Garci's most strident demands is for the Mother of All Tapes to be produced and authenticated before he will even deign to DENY it. The implications for the investigation of Garci and his upcoming interrogation(s) at the House and Senate must take the very distinct possibility into account that there is no actual Mother of All Tapes, because the Adam and Eve of All Tapes may not even belong to the same species. Looking for a Mother of All Tapes as such may just be a wild goose chase. What needs to be found, even if Adam & Eve have been deleted is the equipment and high tech gear, the personnel and the command and control structure that undertook a wiretapping operation. Which is no mean feat, I am sure. The Creator of Adam and Eve has not likely been deleted for it must be an organization, or institution, or some other Lawful Authority.

DOES GARCI KNOW SOMETHING? As Garci talked to Henry Omaga Diaz last night, there was this recurring look of supreme confidence in Garci's swarthy if he knows something about Adam & Eve and the Garden of Eden and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I think it must be the same look that Someone once had, as It watched from under Its hood -- our Eve taking her first bite.


(PDI): Military Won't Need Garcillano in Probe of Wiretapped Tapes
This is of course about as logical as saying that the Subic Bay Rape Case investigators don't need the testimony and cooperation of the alleged 22-year old Filipina victim.
But Virgilio Garcillano speaks the absolute truth about his relationship to the WIRETAPPING -- when he says to Henry Omaga Diaz "... Even if it were true, hypothetically, I was the VICTIM of a WIRETAPPING operation. Until now the author or authors of the alleged wire tapping have not been found. Why will I be forced to testify on the conversations that were allegedly tapped, which since no original is shown to exist, was most likely spliced, edited and/or tailored to fit the sinister purpose. Any right-minded person situated similarly as myself will understand why I feared for my life and that of my wife."

(ABSCBN): Palace Mum On Garci Controversy
In one breath: "Former commissioner Garcillano can very well defend himself in any pertinent forum and we are not commenting or interfering in any way with his statements," Bunye said in a statement. then in the next breath: "The President won fair and square in last year's elections as this was 'validated' by 'all institutions and observers' who participated in non-partisan activities in the 2004 polls." You may want to read more about Bunye and his techniques.

RELATED POST: The Wire Tapping. The Wire Tapping!

UPDATE: (0900): Ellen Tordesillas posts an interesting document Palace Political Situationer which she describes thus: "
This document was given to us by a source in Malacañang. Prepared in September, the document was presented to the Cabinet in October. We can’t say for sure who prepared the Situationer. We also cannot say for sure whose marginal notes are in the document."

The unknown author of the situationer is obviously a high ranking Palace insider, because the words in it from September are the very ones the public has encountered as SOUND BITES during the intervening 3 months! Here are some choice excerpts (courtesy of Ellen, who typed this from a paper copy, while I blithely cut-n-paste-it here, but with gratitude:)
The unstable stalemate induced by the three-month old wiretap controversy has brought about a delicate and complicated security picture. Shadowy groups have emerged, convinced that the only solution to the crisis lies outside of a system they have already condemned as a failure.They are trying to find allies among politicians and vested interest groups, who might be looking fro an opening to advance their own political ambitions. They are seeking alliances with unwitting civil society groups… for legitimate reforms in society. Should these groups succeed in … .. extra-constitutional closure to the controversy, we will have in our hand at best, as shaky transition government that could set us back by several years.
Interesting speculations on the identity of the situationer's author are from Anna de Brux on Ellen's Comment Thread today, along with other serious commentaries. Read it all.

The Comments of Dr. Peter J. H. Walker in the associated Thread at Ellen's site today refer to the OFW remittance-fed ECONOMIC BUBBLE:
To explain why the situation became volatile, add to this the fact that there is a limit of just how much overseas Filipinos will be able to remit in order to keep their beneficiaries in better financial circumstances. Surely when that limit will be reached the bubble will burst. It may also burst before that limit has been reached, should the remitters wake up to the fact that the low exchange rate is actually robbing from them much of the fruits of their hard work. Thus it is not an unlikely scennario that enough of them will decide that they will stop remitting, or at least reduce their remittances, until the exchange rate improves. Sould that happen, it can cause the exchange rate to plummet overnight, even to send the Peso into an uncontrolable tail spin.
Chilling Forecast.

SALUDO'S CASUISTRY(1300): Rick Saludo was talking back to Tina Monson Palma last night. At one point Opposition columnist Lito Banayo castigated the government for the fact that in over six months it does not seem interested in apprehending Virgilio Garcillano and Samuel Ong, both of whom have outstanding Arrest Warrants issued by no less than the House of Representatives. Saludo had his answer ready: Look at Ka Roger [a well known local Communist leader who seems to be in touch with Media or anybody else interested in him, but has been a fugitive for years] ... This is a cute bit of casuistry from the Palace guardian, but I guess I will accept it for what it says -- that a Comelec Commissioner appointed to that august body by the President last year -- is of the same moral calibre and inaccessibility as Ka Roger. The parallels are exact at all levels of association, at that. You heard it from Rick Saludo himself, folks! I'm only agreeing with him.

GONZALES ON GARCI (1500): Again I am prepared to accept at face value the statement of the Secretary of Justice, this time, that he and the entire Philippine Bureaus of Customs, Immigration and the Foreign Service Apparatus, even assisted by the entire Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines just couldn't find Garci, nor even agree among themselves whether the most famous desaparecido was IN or OUT of the country. "But I shall be submitting my full Report..."

(1530): Just heard Rep. Gilbert Remulla telling ABSCBN News that the House of Representatives would soon be asking the lawyer of Virgilio Garcillano, "Please Please just assure us that your client will appear before us at Congress on December 7, and we shall surely void the Arrest Warrant we so arrogantly and wrongfully issued against him. We didn't mean it, really when we said he was in CONTEMPT of Congress for disappearing like that. No really, we just want to avoid a Constitutional Crisis. Please, Please, don't go to the Supreme Court and make Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide mad at us again. You remember what happened the last time when we tried to impeach him. Really this is all our fault. We shouldn't have thrown the Subpoena for him through what was it he said, a hole in the window of his house. Yes. Sorry for all the bad publicity too okay? But oh Please, please, don't accuse us of grave abuse of discretion..That's already what he spanked us for the last time. oooWaaaah!."

ABSCBN posts the statement Garci read to Henry Omaga Diaz on 27 November 2005

is mad that we don't have a "real government" and was frankly amazed that his colleague, Rep. Rodolfo Antonino would have the temerity to lawyer for Virgilio Garcillano on Pinky Webb's show. Antonino is one of those insipid Palace sycophants who really deserves to have the smile on his face wiped off on Garcillano's pudenda when the latter goes to jail, some day. Antonino should go to jail with him for his role in the demolition of the House of Representatives and its transformation into a Kongress of Moral Midgets, to which project he has lent his considerable skill as a smooth-tongued sophist. He still relishes the victory of Datumanong, in which he played a few minor, declamatory parts of intellectual dishonesty. (As you can see, I don't have the divine poise and reserve of their talk show host, nor do I need to. But I do blame Teddy Boy for getting me all riled up about this "government" and his own reserve, thus far, tonight excepted.)

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Stone of Scone and the Bells of Balangiga

I KNOW I am going to need some help from the wider Anglosphere on an email I just got over the weekend from William "Dave" Hanley, a person whom I have never met personally but who seems very familiar to me. He mentions something for which I found the picture that is nearby at the trusty Wikipedia and is captioned "The Stone of Scone in the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey, 1855." I wish he'd sent me this email on the Anniversary last September 27 of the Battle of Balangiga (27 September 1901 --Samar Province), but then the New Philippine Commentary -- the First Iraq, hadn't been reborn yet from the ashes, so it is just as well. WDH writes from somewhere on the Continent -- where indeed in the State of Wyoming there are some Bells at a US military base that seem to belong to the Catholic Church of Balangiga (for example, this Open Letter (Sgd.)+Leonardo Y. Medroso, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Borongan and Rev. Fr. Saturnino Obzunar, Balangiga Parish Priest. Bishop-Bloggers.). But to WDH's email --
DARNED BELLS -- by William Dave Hanley

The Bells of Balingiga should not be returned except for the fact they should be. Now that I have your attention, I will try to explain.

To return said bells in the conventional manner would be disastrous. Look at what happened to the Stone of Scone. Said stone was either a priceless symbol of Scottish Nationalism or an interesting Scottish trinket, according to where the speaker came from. Scots would insist that it was wrongfully looted, Englishmen would say that it was a legitimate war trophy.

When Maggie Thatcher came to power Scotland voted against her 60-40, which was historical vote margins. They wanted the Stone back. Maggie said no and proceeded with her economic reforms. Next election, Scotland went against her 55-45. They wanted the Stone back. Maggie told them to go jump in the Loch. Next election the vote was 51-49.

Internal party feuding forced Maggie out and John Major took over. They wanted the Stone back. He gave it to them. Next election was 80 to 20 against the Tories. Stays about that way today.

Lesson learned: Collective gratitude is very scarce. Collective political gratitude does not exist. Symbolic issues such as stones and bells tend to be used against those who mean well in favor of those who simply want partisan advantage and/or sheer power. The emotionalism involved obscures substance.

Being a Republican, I will stand aside and wait for the Democrats to blunder with the Balangigga Bells. The D's are the party that tries to con all non-caucasians into believing the R's are racists, etc. So I will let them wander into the trap if they are foolish enough to do so.

In addition: The Philippine war of 1899 to 1902 was multi-faceted. Almost every region had its own set of dynamics. Most of which I do not know enough about to comment on. However, on Samar I do not believe that it was a case of American Imperialists vs Filipino Nationalists. Looks like to me that it was really American Imperialists arguing with Tagalog Imperialists with the people of Samar having to decide which group of interlopers would do them the least harm and hopefully the most good.

If I am right on this point, then today's Tagalog Imperialists---Imperial Manila to quote Sonny Osmena---- cannot be allowed in on the play. They were the losers back then. To channel any return through the Manila establishment is to tell Samarons that the USA considers them of no farther use and deserving of no consideration so they are being abandoned to the tender mercies of those so and so's to the North. Not exactly a good way of calming down the current situation.

Of course, as long as Uncle Sam keeps the bells, there is the possibility (and increasing probability???)of exactly such a blundering return actually taking place. This makes those bells into something of a Sword of Damocles. The prudent man will try to find a way of neutralizing such a threat.

(And besides that, the bells really mean something to the people who actually live in Balangiga. It would be awfully nice to do something just for them.)

The ideal thing would be to sneak the bells back in. Just collect all three of them and have a ship with bells aboard show up one day and offload the cargo. Ask the locals not to tell anyone and then sail away with no publicity of any kind. It won't take long before the rumor mill gets to talking and stories start to flying and the return is confirmed much to the public detriment of troublemakers in both countries.

Needless to say, I have not the foggiest idea on how to arrange all that. Can you think of any other way to go about things? Feel free to show this to any reliable people whom you think can come up with something actually achievable. And provided of course that you do NOT think I have taken leave of my senses.

Well, I have been meaning to write this ofr some time. Looks like that I have finally aquired the necessary appliance to do so-----"A Round Tuit". (Ahem) More later.

Hey Rizalist, have you ever even heard of the STONE OF SCONE? (No, no! It rhymes with "balloon."). Oh well, whoever heard of the BELLS OF BALANGIGA? Here's what the Philippine History Group of Los Angeles calls it: the Balangiga Massacre, (slightly different than Wiki, but the same!)

That's funny, why do so many Continental and Archipelagic Filipinos call Balangiga a "Massacre" as they do in the two different links I have provided to them above -- when it was the greatest victory of the Armed Forces of the First Republic over the United States Infantry in the entire Philippine American War? It is irrelevant and disrespectful of those heroes and victors, and the equally valorous men they fought to the death, to note with too much emphasis and lack of dignity that one side won that battle but lost the War and vice versa. It would be like calling the Battle of Thermopylae the "Thermopylae Massacre." And this was after Dictator Emilio Aguinaldo had been "captured". The designation "Dictator" comes from the fact that the First Republic had declared martial law in order to mobilize for War with America. But Aguinaldo was no Leonidas, even if General Lukban, who commanded and controlled the Battle of Balangiga sure would qualify. Bonifacio wasn't much good on the battlefield and had been long dead -- the Father of the Katipunan -- the freedom fighters -- executed or murdered on Mount Buntis by his own countrymen. I feel a far greater kinship for those ancient Greeks, than many modern Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who would turn even rare victory into an ignominious defeat.

THANKS for bringing all this up now, WDH, and an interesting wider perspective I had not seen before...By the way, I think over a century later, we are still having problems with those Tagalog and Pampango "imperalists" of the Archipelago who rule from Malacanan Palace...

UPDATE: Message to William "Dave" Hanley...Please go and see what Manuel L. Quezon III thinks about your take on Balangiga. He thinks you are abetting Mindanao Secession And he's telling all of the Tagalog-Pampanga Principalia about it today, well, bloggerdom anyway.

UPDATE (Nov. 29) -- WILLIAM "DAVE" HANLEY on 'SECESSION' (via Email)
"Of course I promote secession. My folks sucessfully seceded from England in 1776. Sucessfully seceded again from Mexico in 1836. In 1861 would have made it three in a row were it not for "Uncle Billy" Sherman. Two out of three is not bad. Might want to try again some day. Mindanao? Maybe. Are they whistling "Dixie" down there and do they know how to "Stonewall"? More seriously, those who do not start with a primary loyalty to locality/region/state are doomed to failure when it comes to national identity or loyalty. Either they Balkanize (Filipinize????) or they Nihonisize.Naziize, or Sovietize. All human beings have to take care of the immediate homefront first and then make book with compatible neighbors-----or wish that they had. Uncle Sam saddled the Philippines with a unitary form of government and we are all paying the price for that.
A Rebel Yell To All,

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Wire-Tapping. The Wire Tapping!

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TWO CRIMES are alleged to have been committed in 2004 during the election period: (1) Multiple violations of the Anti-Wire Tapping Law by those who actually recorded certain private phone conversations between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and many others, that came to be known as the "Garci tapes"; and

(2) Multiple violations of the Omnibus Election Code by a massive vote-rigging operation involving a large network of other Comelec functionaries, government officials, operators, and other conspirators.

Both of these two crimes could be investigated and prosecuted without any reference or reliance whatsoever on the existence of the other!

Either of them, if proven, could result in the resignation, impeachment or outright ouster of the President.

Each of them constitutes its own constellation of participants and particular criminal acts which ought to be investigated purely and solely on its own demerits.

Elements of the first crime are alleged to be elements in aide of the commission of the second complex of crimes, because cellphone communications were used in the purported voterigging operations. But to try to prove the allegations in the second complex crime, before even establishing the existence of the first crime is not a wise or indeed feasible thing to do.

The first crime is a much simpler crime, because it certainly involved far fewer perpetrators, and hypothetically limited to the ranks of the Intelligence Service of the AFP and Malacanang Command and Control handlers. Establishing a violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Law by such suspects, does not depend on proving that the contents of the conversations being recorded in turn prove criminal wrong doing in the second set of crimes. It only depends on showing that they did not have a lawful Court Order to undertake the recording of conversations between designated private parties and that they were not ordered to do so by their Commander in Chief because she did not trust Garcillano as far as the nearest cell-site. But if they were so ordered by Lawful Authority, then that Lawful Authority would likewise be accused of violations of the Anti-Wire Tapping Law. Even if the conversations therein contained were totally innocent of complicity in the second set of crimes.

The sky would be falling on Garci instead of devastating the House of Representatives if only the focus would first be put on prosecuting the first set of crimes above. The predicate for that has already been laid by the Palace itself, by Ignacio Bunye himself, that there exist certain illegally wiretapped conversations to which the very President has admitted participating. Even if we grant her insistence that these conversations were totally innocent and not even unique among the candidates running last year, the persons who tapped her conversations are still liable for it. If she was one of those persons then she should be charged for violations of the Anti-Wire Tapping Act, and not voterigging. Yet. Only then can connections be made to the larger constellation of crimes that constituted vote-rigging, of which perhaps the conversations were but a small part of the total activity in that operation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gilbert Remulla, who belongs to the Majority Coalition in Congress seemed to be almost in tears when he was discussing the stripping of his chairmanship of the Committee on Public Information with Carmina Constantino of ANC/TV last night. And Carmina probably wanted to hand him a hankie already and to blow it out because she was clearly frustrated at this whole thing and disgusted at the vision of pusillanimity before her. But his point was deadly serious. "Why," he asked rhetorically, "are they messing with a small thing like the Committee on Public Information?"

Well it's all to do with the Supreme Court case filed by the Untouchable, Unseeable, the Amazing Virgilio Garcillano, who flings the filthy Warrant of Arrest for Contempt of the House of Representatives against him upon the desk of Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and demands that the Supreme Court void it because it constitutes grave abuse of discretion [sic!].

What one is witnessing here is the towering and ever-growing vindictive hubris which has apparently seized the War Room at Malacanang Palace. But more importantly, it looks like the Palace is bent on preparing a nice quicksand trap for the next Impeachment Attempt in June 2006, by indeed "closing the book" on Garci. The Congress of Little Minds has surrendered the House of the People to the Palace for demolition at the Supreme Court.

It is just one last service from the retiring Chief Justice, -- to dig the grave of the next Impeachment attempt -- before he becomes the next to the next Ombudsman, as one of his fans predicts. This is purportedly to give him 7 more years of Constitutional immunity in a society where criminal and civil lawsuits are a post-occupational hazard, especially at the highest levels.

UPDATE (1845)

Check out Ricky Carandang's Update on the Garci Case.

I think Garci has just UNWITTINGLY authenticated the Garci tapes! Not their contents but the fact that they are authentic sound recordings of certain conversations that actually took place. Only he and the participants in those conversations can possibly perform such a direct authentication

THEREFORE, even if he is arguing against
the VOTERIGGING charges, he has unwittingly TURNED STATE WITNESS in a possible criminal suit against PERSONS STILL UNKNOWN who are guilty of having wiretapped Virgilio Garciliano. This time it is Garci himself making that accusation!


Garci is the "victim" in that crime, even if later on he turns out to be the perpetrator in the conspiracy to voterigging. I think this may be the most damaging turn of events for the Palace since Bunye held up two CDROMs and ignited this whole sordid affair
. MLQ3 keeps a good place to think about this sort of thing more.
Why in the world would VIRGILIO GARCILLANO be afraid for his life?
Ricky Carandang Reports on an impression garnered from talking to Mrs. Grace Garcillano. (posted at 20:20)

(20:50) Garci's Atty. Tamondong just told Pinky Webb that his client will not dignify or take notice of the tapes because they are "unlawful materials". I think he is right about that! He is right to claim, as I have, that Garci is the "victim" of an illegal wiretapping operation. But Garci & Tamondong cannot have it both ways. Garci cannot then make denials of the sort that seem to argue from a knowledge of the particular conversations that just happen to have fallen into the PUBLIC DOMAIN. He cannot argue against the VOTE-RIGGING CASE using information from "unlawful materials" at the same time. But he can be called as a witness in an Anti Wiretapping case entitled People vs. Sgt. Vidal Doble. (Oh! And Rep. ALAN PETER CAYETANO proves once more that the GENE POOL has definitely NOT run out.) The whole interview of Garci by Henry Omaga Diaz will be played exclusively on ABSCBN network's All News Channel (ANC) tonight at 10:00pm Manila time...This is an Archipelago of enduring pathos didn't you know? Hmm, where are those recordable DVD disks of mine?

(2150) I wonder who the Chairman and CEO of ABSCBN -- Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III is burning up the Hotline Cellphone with just ten minutes before the Return of Garci is shown in full at 27 2200 November "OTEL" Manila time?

(2240) YES! My DVD Recorder worked like a charm. I have a beautiful 24 minute clip of the Return of Garci. I think I'm gonna watch it a couple times, read his lips carefully and body language, capture some audio maybe, do a little Fourier Transform Spectroscopy on Garci's voice in my DVD from Henry Omaga Diaz, and do a little correlation analysis with some MP3s I downloaded a couple of months back from PCIJ. And yes Alan Peter Cayetano, you are absolutely right, the Palace and Garci don't understand something very subtle but very devastating about modern digital technology and what that means for the Anti Wire Tapping Law and those who violate it. More tomorrow, it's getting late. The shark is in the pen. Who will close the trap?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

To Parry The Coming Offensive

WHO do we believe DID the wiretapping that produced the Garci tapes? The Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) has already been fingered by Rep. Roilo Golez of Paranaque (a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD) and investigated by 5 Congressional Committees in the matter of "Sargeant Doble." Those investigations are currently on hold, but for Justice to be done in this case, two crucial tasks must be accomplished by the Democratic Opposition:

(1) To prove that WHOEVER wiretapped the conversations were GUILTY of violations of the Anti-Wiretapping Law, and acts of TREASON against the Republic if equipment and personnel of the Armed Forces were illegally used to spy on candidates in the 2004 national elections (whoever they were).

(2) To prove that EVEN IF such material had been illegally acquired, the PUBLIC'S RIGHT TO KNOW surpasses the putative RIGHTS of the STATE to protect itself, which was the TRUE SPIRIT of the Anti-Wiretapping Law.

UPDATE (2100): I need to make a correction to something I've said in point (2) above. The "spirit" of the Anti-Wiretapping Act is directly the protection of the rights of privacy in interpersonal communications. There is a striking parallel however between the Garci tapes and the case of Bartnicki v. Vopper
An unidentified person intercepted and recorded a phone call between the chief union negotiator and the union president (the petitioners) during collective-bargaining negotiations involving a teachers' union and the local school board. After a teacher-favorable proposal was accepted, a radio commentator played a tape of the intercepted conversation. Petitioners filed suit under both federal and state wiretapping laws, alleging that an unknown person using an electronic device had surreptitiously intercepted their telephone conversation. Rejecting a First Amendment protection defense, the District Court concluded, in part, that the statutes were content-neutral laws of general applicability containing "no indicia of prior restraint or the chilling of free speech." Ultimately, the Court of Appeals found the statutes invalid because they deterred significantly more speech than necessary to protect the private interests at stake.
In the above case, here is how I would put it: the public's right to know cannot be deterred in favor of the rights to privacy of the possible wiretappers themselves. This is especially true because it is alleged that the President herself has been wire-tapped. Which makes the finding of the wiretappers and their punishment a matter of national security.

The key point is this. No one can prove that VOTERIGGING occured in 2004 just because everyone has listened to the Garci tapes and they do suggest that happened. It would be a better strategy to simply prove that illegal and treasonous WIRETAPPING occurred in 2004 because it is the MOTIVE for doing the wiretapping that is the evidence of cheating in the elections, NOT the contents of the tapes themselves. (Although the latter will become icing on the cake later.) We must not neglect the obvious: the wiretapping was done as part of a voterigging conspiracy. But from a legal standpoint, it is the very existence of the tapes that must be prosecuted, because they ARE illegal. The Palace's claim that they are therefore USELESS for ANY purpose is itself an admission of guilt by dereliction of duty in the refusal to expose and arrest whoever made the tapes to begin with.

DISHONORING THE MILITARY: From this perspective, it is not the conversations between Garci and GMA and dozens of other administration allies and officials that are telling. What is prima facie evidence of the Military being prostituted to a treasonous endeavour are those largely ignored introductory segments of Doble and other low-ranking personnel who are obviously editing and selecting from a far larger trove of audio recordings for someone's convenience during review and assessment of whether Garci was double crossing them or not. Although dozens and dozens of individuals have been identified by PCIJ as the voices on the tapes, I have not yet seen a definitive identification of the voices that introduce the Garci conversations. Is Doble even one of those voices. Who are those voices? Are they sargeants, lieutenants, colonels in the ISAFP? Why were they doing what they were doing? Why were they editing and collating conversations that are redolent of dishonesty and conspiracy and so degrade all that is left of Philippine democracy?

PALACE BLUNDER? Ironically it is the Palace that has been insisting for six months that ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING occurred, yet they have used this insistence only to say that no one should look further into the provenance of the tapes, they cannot be used for ANY purpose, etc. That's plainly wrong. They should be used to discover and punish whoever made the original tapes by illegal wiretapping. The Palace's complete disinterest in enforcing the Anti-Wiretapping Law in earnest is suspicious at the very least. For why would you want to suppress as "unusable" the very evidence of a crime you say has been commited? Conversely, many people are too mesmerized by the contents of those tapes and enamoured of MP3 technology to see that their mere existence, not just their contents, is proof of wrong-doing by someone. I think we have seen less than 1% of the "intel" collected for the voteriggers. Proving who that someone is and dragging them out into the bright lights will solve this case in one fell swoop, Dr. Watson. (Ha! Someone may have blundered in bringing Garci back! Just do not take the proferred poisoned pawn. Do not go after the voterigging. Go after the wiretapping, for the one leads to the other.)

Be comforted. Iron Logic is Lady Justice's mighty sword! (And have a look at Bartnicki v. Vopper.)

Gone cycling in the boondocks of the Archipelago...have a nice weekend folks.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Paradox of People Power

The PCIJ weblog has a podcast which contains an essay entitled The Paradox of Freedom, read by ABSCBN's David Celdran. It addresses a very interesting question: Why was there no People Power Event in 2005 against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo despite the existence of:
"a familiar pattern of titillating scandal and media overkill, Congressional investigation and official coverup, street protests, and digital demonstrations ... a perfect formula for another uprising ... and the Opposition is fiercer and far more determined to oust her than the one that faced Joseph Estrada in 2001..."
Why, indeed? I think the key to understanding why is to first understand the premises of the question, which are fortunately enunciated by the unidentified female voice on the podcast that introduces both David Celdran and the PCIJ's definition of People Power itself. Have a "listen":
"[fanfare music]Tan tan taran tan taran tarantan tarantarantan ! ...This is the PCIJ Channel podcasting from the Philippines. Filipinos are known for starting what is called people power, the peaceful political uprisings that topple corrupt or dishonest leaders. In the Philippines, People Power has successfuly ousted two Presidents, Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, and Joseph Estrada in 2001. But what has baffled many in the past few months is why the Filipinos have not mustered enough People Power to oust Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo despite the latest surveys which show that they distrust her more than they ever did Marcos or Estrada."
INDIFFERENCE: I'm a little disappointed in the rest of the podcast because it was just a weak rehash of certain explanations with lots of interesting and clever flourishes and twists of tongue that most people have not found to be compelling reasons though they were factors -- a lack of a clear alternative to GMA, political fatigue and numbness to it all, and apathy. I was also forced to listen to the mp3 a couple of times to understand what the paradox of freedom was being referred to in the podcast's title. It turns out to be a puzzlement over why, despite an era of unprecedented freedom of expression, political activism seems to be on the wane, which the voice of Celdran answers forthwith -- "indifference can be a form of protest too."

WHERE'S THE BEEF? So where is the paradox of freedom in that? All I see is a failure of the kind of activism preferred by the Organized Left, which doesn't have the imagination to use indifference as a tool of public protest, or anything but what was invented during the First Quarter Storm thirty five years ago--confrontational street protests without end. The only thing that's changed is that the front organizations have learned to use banners that aren't colored a Maoist dark fuschia. There is no paradox of freedom here, just a sore disappointment.

OCCAM'S RAZOR: I prefer a much simpler explanation for why there was no people power event in 2005 over Gloriagate. It is because there was no perfect parallel between 2001 and 2005 at the level of the "elements" that constitute a successful people power. Edsa II was not a peaceful political uprising, it was a peaceful political uprising that was made successful by a judicial putsch executed by the Supreme Court Chief Justice HILARIO G. DAVIDE JR. whom History will inevitably finger as the Main Culprit in the 2001 People Power event. In the clear 20/20 of hindsight, Edsa II was a successful combination of MOB RULE and COUP D'ETAT. Hilario G. Davide Jr. conspired with Jaime Cardinal Sin and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on the morning of 20 January 2001 to declare Estrada permanently incapacitated and to swear in the Vice President that same day. If you don't believe me, ask Cory Aquino and the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Art Panganiban, both of whom, directly and indirectly, have confirmed this awful truth that many of the konsentidors of that era still deny to this day.

LESSONS: I suppose this is a good time to list what we have learned about the Philippine Constitution from Gloriagate, namely the five and exactly five ways that a Presidency can legitimately end:

(1) Completion of the six year term;
(2) Death of the President;
(3) Voluntary resignation of the President;
(4) Impeachment and conviction with removal from office; and
(5) Permanent incapacity.

A PUTSCH FOR BREAKFAST: We have learned from Gloriagate that Erap was illegally deposed, because on 20 January 2001, at the moment when Davide swore in GMA as President, NONE of the above conditions applied to Joseph Estrada. NONE. It was a lie that Erap was "permanently disabled" on that grim Saturday for democracy, when a fax signed by the Vice President (and penned by the sitting Associate Justice Antonio J. Carpio) arrived at the Supreme Court at 11:36 am. Less than an hour later, Hilario Davide had hornswaggled the rest of the High Court to go with him to EDSA and swear in GMA, as planned and agreed to with Cardinal Sin at breakfast that same day. To prevent "violence". Don't believe me? Ask Cory. She was there for breakfast at the Cardinal's Palace on Shaw Blvd. And ask Panganiban, he told all about "the restoration of Zion" in a speech to seminarians at UST.

TEACHING THE LAW: Recently, I ran into Dean Andy Bautista of FEU and I asked him how in the world they teach Estrada vs. Arroyo (March 2001) and Estrada vs. Desierto (April 2001) at the FEU Law School. He really had no answer you know, because these two decisions are hare-brained acts of judicial putschism which we are suffering from still and cannot stand the light of review. But people are wrong to say that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what the Law means. Because there are future Supreme Courts that can overturn any past decision. Like a century of pro-slavery decision making in the US Supreme Court -- before Abe Lincoln and the US Civil War.

WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID: But the present political crisis in the Philippines was made inevitable on 20 January 2001, by Hilario Davide, the Chief Justice who is about to retire next month and ought to be informed: we know what you did. This doesn't mean I consider Erap innocent of plunder. He wasn't. He was guilty of it, but is unconvicted of the charges, after four years in jail, the only democratically elected Philippine President of recent memory. But it doesn't mean that two wrongs make a right. Just because Erap was guilty of plunder, why do we think Davide and GMA were incapable of conspiratorial treason and other high crimes against the Constitution? Why do you think Erap's case is not at the Supreme Court? Because it would all come out. They are just waiting for Davide to leave so Carpio can close the book on Erap.

But Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. does have two weeks left before it's pass your paper time. If he doesn't do something by then, he will surely get an F-minus in Judicial History.

THE MUTINEER: The other big ingredient missing from the "perfect formula" was a DISHONORABLE MUTINY by the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, ANGELO T. REYES such as happened on 19 January, 2001 when COS Reyes did indeed tell his Staff, "Gentlemen, I hope you realize we are commiting a mutiny." Whereupon they repaired to the Edsa Shrine to the jubilant cheers of the waiting Mob for which they "withdrew support for the President" and to which they defected.

MORAL MIDGETS: Moreover, there was no successful move to impeach GMA in 2005 unlike in 2001 -- a thing definitely creditable to Jose de Venecia's Kongress of Moral Midgets, whose Justice Committee Report quashing the impeachment move, shall also be a matter of some chagrin and humor among beginning Law students of the future, in my opinion.

STONEWALL & COVERUP: There was no 2005 People Power event because there was no "perfect formula" as in 2001. It is a testament to the consummate political skill of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her Palace team to have remembered and comprehended both the necessary and the sufficient conditions required for a successful people power event, by which they captured Malacanang Palace. They then ruthlessly and deliberately did all the right things to prevent those components from ever coming together to bite them.

So are people power events by nature peaceful?

I don't believe they are, and one need only consider the violent events that occurred in May 2001 at Edsa III, when a pro-Erap mob marched on and attacked Malacanang. Notice that the female voice does not mention Edsa III as a people power event. Why? I think precisely because it turned out to be violent. If that Mob had succeeded and ousted GMA then, perhaps they would be podcasting about three successful peaceful political uprisings that toppled corrupt and dishonest leaders.

So does Edsa III prove that people power events can turn violent? Yes it does. Edsa III also reveals the paradox of people power --


Edsa III proves that there is nothing inherently or inexorably peaceful about a people power event. Mob rule is mob rule. Sometimes it's peaceful, but at least once in three, it wasn't.

EDSA I REDUX: But let us look fearlessly again at the most revered Edsa I People Power Revolution of 1986. Proof of above claim is there too, at least in a plausible, hypotheical sense. Recall that at the most critical juncture of that historic event, Marcos could have conducted the most bloody, violent carnage on Edsa if he had gotten his overwhelming force of tanks, soldiers, artillery to massacre the assembled citizens. The conventional explanation is that the huge force of people power on the streets protecting Enrile, Ramos and RAM won over the soldiers, and dissuaded Marcos from carrying out a blood bath, because he couldn't, as the soldiers had already turned against Marcos. That DID happen in history. But there is another way things could easily have turned out. At the decisive moment in the developing crisis, then President Ronald Reagan conveyed to Marcos the position of the United States that he should "Cut, and cut cleanly!" and even offered Marcos sanctuary in Hawaii (not Paoay, which would have led to civil war). But suppose that the message transmitted to Marcos from Reagan was: "Mr. President, the United States takes a neutral position on this, you may do as you see fit, we'll back you up whatever that is." I think there is a good chance we would not be celebrating the peaceful Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986 at all, but the Great Edsa Massacre of 1986, and commemorated under the great red banner unfurled, -- of the People's Communist Republic of the Philippines.

REAGAN AT EDSA: This little bit of information will hurt some people's ideological feelings, but I should mention that the "Cut and cut cleanly" suggestion of Reagan to Marcos was reportedly urged upon him by Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, then a much younger foreign policy aide of Reagan in the White House. Mr. Wolfowitz became President of the World Bank, I think, and yes, he is that neoconservative thinker that the International Left has come to hate so much in the runup up to the invasion of Iraq and ouster of Saddam Hussein. Yet history will record that he was one of those low-ranking but far-thinking officials who believed and said so, during the Reagan Presidency that the United States had to take the moral high ground in the struggle with the Soviet Union, and stop supporting brutal client state dictators as the Soviet Union and the US were both doing during the Cold War. President George W. Bush is regarded as the first great President of the 21st Century because he has committed America to a vast new project of democratization in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and now China. I believe this is largely because of Paul Wolfowitz's stunning concept of an all-democratic world. Eventually. Everywhere.

Which I say we should fight for until it is achieved.

Most people in the Archipelago are unaware that Paul Wolfowitz and the "neocons" have begun an important new phase in the evolution of American global policy. It is their thinking that overthrew the bedrock of Cold War US geopolitical strategy expressed in the saying once applied to Marcos and attributed to US officials: "He may be a sonofabitch, but at least he is our sonofabitch." The mistake in that has already been acknowledged. It is reflected in many essays at the US Army War College, (see Parameters) and most significantly in two speeches of President George W. Bush before the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington D.C. The second of those speeches is reproduced here at the resurrected Philippine Commentary: Democracy and the War on Terror.

I know that the Organized Left has well prepared the ground in the Philippines for the coming offensives of the BushLied crowd and the expectation that the Americans will cut and run from Iraq. (Except for these steadfast folks). That they will abandon the project, the vision of Democracy for the Middle East, is what the International Left and the jihadists are counting on, and they will try to make that happen by attacking Bush. It's up to the American people. A gargantuan struggle of America with itself, is once more afoot.

GEORGE W. BUSH: But in one sense, I don't really care about the personal fate of George W. Bush. He has already accomplished what in history was only fervently wished for by all who suffered under Marcos' brutal dictatorship. (Like me! For I was arrested
with Ninoy and Pepe and Chino and many others, on that first night of martial law, oh so long ago.) That fervent wish was that America would not support dictatorship in the Philippines, that she would always and everywhere uphold the Liberty and Democracy that her Constitution and her history stand for -- the Light of the world beckoning to its teeming and huddled masses. But if you read those speeches of Bush, you will find that he admits the horrible compromise with its own principles that the US leadership of many generations had to make as a consequence of the Cold War. I would rather that when martial law was declared, the Americans had invaded this country with a force of Marines led by Filipino-Americans and kicked Da Apo the Dictator's butt to Hawaii then. But they didn't. That was in 1972. But in 2002, I was glad that America had George W. Bush to question the idea that the brutal Baathist dictator, Saddam Hussein, Marcos' Big Bad Brother, could be allowed to threaten the fuel tanks of the world without the pilots getting mad and taking him out. George W. Bush was the first President in US history to show that America is willing to interfere in the internal affairs of the sovereign dictator, as a pre-emptive measure. I find solace in that even as I see the history of the last century, but my reading is this: America can never again support inhuman dictatorships even if the sonofabitch is theirs. It must now work for the destruction of all such totalitarian and terrorist systems, especially in the Middle East where there is today only a single Arab democracy: Iraq. Even if it takes a century. That is the singular accomplishment of GWB, to put America on the right path in the post Cold War world.

A CENTURY OF HONOR: We shall argue about this now until the end of George W. Bush's presidency. But I think Filipinos should know this. America must stay in Iraq now for at least 50 years, if not a hundred, in order to redeem George W. Bush's promise in a speech he made on Sept. 12, 2002 in which he said: "Liberty is God's gift to every man, not America's." And this shall be a cause for us to understand why Rizalist has named this blog, Philippine Commentary, Letters from the First Iraq. For now America is given a second chance at getting the "agriculture of democracy" incrementally better in the real Iraq. The "second Philippines" of America is chance to prove that human progress is a process of successive approximations to an ideal, and that we should cherish every faltering step, as long as it is in the right direction. That direction is what we call "ideology" and is what distinguishes globalists from nihilists.

(Note to Bloggers: Most of those big time warbloggers in America have insufficient knowledge of what their grandfathers and great grandfathers were trying to do here, or what exactly happened here. Did it fail or succeed, or something in between and what lessons ought be learned for the next step in the Ascent of Man? You do not know that history either, I would suspect, but you are closer to some of the sources. That history and shared experience contains far more wisdom-- American and Filipino wisdom-- about liberty, democracy and honor -- than even Instapundit.
or even the Mr. Spock of the American Blogosphere, Steven den Beste. Because the First Iraq is a real, historical data point. So study your history, and don't just read Blount or Constantino and Sison, or Mark Twain and the US Anti-Imperialist League for crying out loud. Try a little "Gleeck" and spend some time at the American Historical Collection at the Ateneo -- you might find a whole new perspective on our past, and more importantly, our future. You shall meet the Democrats and Republicans again in that history! Our history!)

LIBERTY: I believe that America will transform the Middle East even if it takes a century. Because they believe the Metaphor of the Single Jetliner, or something very close to it, is a true description of the world as it exists today. In 1898, in the Age of Empire, they had no use for such a metaphor. But in the Age of Global Terror the people in First Class are only just as safe and secure as those in the Cargo Hold, no more and no less. Not everyone in America understands this either. Certainly not some Democrats. The Metaphor of the Single Jetliner, that is the meaning of: My Liberty is your Liberty!

I can say this because America has proven that it can undertake such an Herculean task. WE did it before for Asia in rehabilitating Japan and for Europe in rehabilitating Germany, after 50,000,000 human lives perished in World War II. WE shall do it again for the Middle East, and the rest of the world, or the jetliner will surely crash with all on board.

But it does remain to be seen if America will stay the course.

For the nihilists here have allies in America too, who think they can shut the doors on First Class and forget the Cargo Hold. They are dead wrong. If the movement there with the slogan, "NO END BUT VICTORY!" fails, so shall we all.

EVOLUTION: For the dubious who do not believe that democracies can and do evolve much as people do, consider this: America once owned slaves. Racism was a mental disease pandemic. America denied the vote to women for far longer than we did, for women suffrage was recognized by the Malolos Constitution. But America is also the oldest modern democracy (July 4, 1776), just as we are the oldest modern democracy in Asia. (Philippines: June 12, 1898; Australia January 1, 1901, New Zealand Sept 26, 1907; China (Sun Yat Sen October 10, 1911). And of course it was America that delivered the first mighty blow against Empire (colonial imperialism!) . When America broke the bands that tied her to the British Empire, she ignited the global nationalist revolution still being felt today. And America is the preferred and irrevocable home of four million of the most successful, optimistic, prosperous, freedom-loving "little brown brothers and sisters" -- the Filipino Americans. Even though it was the six-month old democracy of their forefathers, that was kidnapped in its cradle outside the Spanish Convent at the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 and forced into Hollywood. Do I resent that? No. That is what happened in history and there was more good than bad, in my opinion that came of it. But if all we do is look backward, then we cannot, conversely see forward. Now is the time again to understand history, not to resent it. Now is the time to support the awesome project to create a second Philippines that is underway in the real Iraq. Why? Because there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the first data point that will make the second one much better, more resoundingly successful -- for the sake of our fellow human beings, our little brown brothers and sisters in Iraq! We must not wish for them today, the fate that befell us: to become Orphans of the Anglosphere.

As much as she once planted the seed that bore the meme of Nationalism, despite a dalliance with Empire herself, I believe America will also be the cradle of the 21st Century's greatest meme:
Globalism. Either that or its evil twin, also the child of Empire and Nationalism will triumph: Nihilism.

Podcasts are hard to fisk coz you can't just cut and paste the stuff you wanna skewer. It's a cute idea, but having to listen to the voice is distracting. It may take some time before this new genre of propaganda can challenge the AM radio band of the demagagosphere. But the eliterati will love it--pocket propaganda. As a medium podcasting gets away from the directness and economy of plain text and partakes of the theatrical, the entertaining, the ethereal in broadcast media. And it is of course, like main stream media, one-way push technology. Maybe it'll be good for poetry.

UPDATE: Albion's Seedlings references this post in The Other Archipelago.