Saturday, December 30, 2006

Jose Rizal -- Excommunicant and National Hero -- In His Own Words

Almost all Filipinos know Jose Rizal through what others say or write about him. Much is being said about him today, when the Catholic Taliban are allowed once more to murder him in public to cries of "Fuego!" and amid much patriotic celebration and feeling buoyed up by the Yuletide. Yet no one has succeeded in completely extinguishing the man or his memory among his countrymen. Much indeed will be said about him today by the usual sources.

But whoever made Jose Rizal the "National Hero" of the Philippines had a wicked sense of humor and poetic justice, so I think it would be interesting to allow him to join the conversation...

I add only my own plea that Day be moved to June 19--his birthday anniversary.

Other Philippine Commentary posts on Rizal this year were on Josephine Bracken and the origin of the term "Noli Me Tangere!"

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas To One And All!

NORAD, the North American Radar network uses satellites and jet fighter aircraft to track Santa Claus as soon as he lifts off from the North Pole and follows him on his high speed global tour of Christmas gift deliveries.

Essential Reality TV for Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas from the Philippine Archipelago!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Labels and Lackeys, Leftists and Land Mines

LABELS Should leftist front organizations of the See-Pee-Pee-En-Pee-Ay be labelled as "communist" for the purposes of the party-list elections in 2007, as National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales suggests? Call a spade a spade as it were?

PDI's Wednesday Editorial thinks that "communist" is a Deadly Label and shrieks "McCarthyism!" even though membership in the Party-That-Must-Not-Be-Named is not even illegal anymore. But they are worried about the following fine distinctions and careful definitions upon which the legitimacy of their own editorial policy often depends--
The terms Left and Right were first used in France during the French Revolution when the aristocrats sat on the right side of the assembly and the commoners sat on the left. From that time on the Right has been associated with ideology that favors an elite social group and the Left has been associated with ideology that favors “the masses.”

Today, “Left” refers to the complex of individuals or organizations that advocate liberal, often radical, measures to bring about change in the established order, especially in politics, to achieve equality, freedom and well-being for the masses. A leftist is a person or group that adheres to the left wing on political issues. A communist is one who believes in a social and economic formation based on a classless social system and public ownership of the means of production.
The point of this is that there ARE no communists really, just "leftists" or "activists" or "militants" or "progressives" who don't have anything at all to do with the "communists" and who don't deserve to smeared as such and thus set up for assassination or liquidation by "death squads." But look what headline and label we find tucked away in the PDI's own Metro Regions section today--

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur -- Butuan Bishop Juan de dios Pueblos criticized the New People's Army (NPA) for using landmines, as these could easily kill or maim innocent bystanders.

"I strongly condemn killings using this kind of instrument," Pueblos told reporters here.

Pueblos said the NPA's continued use of landmine had become a "cause of concern" for the Church.

He said he would ask the communist insurgents to stop using the device if he could establish contacts with them. "But the problem now is that I don't know whom to talk to," Pueblos, a member of the Melo Commission, said.

The landmine that exploded and killed the San Luis town police chief and his deputy on Wednesday afternoon was so powerful that it charred the victims' bodies and threw it 45 meters away, police authorities said Thursday.
Somehow, the Bishop and the News Dept has it over PDI Editorial about what the COMMUNISTS really are. Seems like they at least got the deadly label right. It would be a whopper to believe that the communist murderers of the town's police chief and deputy were doing so because they believe in a classless society and were working on the ownership of the means of production! Where do these mysterious communist rebels get their funding to BUY those landmines (they are supposed to be remote controlled for premeditation and button-pushing ease of murder)? Who supports them, defends them propagandizes for them, makes press releases and editorials for them, gives them food, money, ammo, and moral and political support?

The Inquirer editorial contains the kind of insipid reasoning that will be echoed by Leftists who ARE part of the communist insurgency trying violently to overthrow the Constitutional democracy that we have today, and that vast demagagosphere of the media that relies on PDI for toxic things to spew into the air waves. You see, as long as you are not openly calling for a classless society, you are not technically a communist and should not be "smeared" as such by the "McCarthyists."

LACKEYS, the title of PDI's editorial today, is also the LABEL they apply to Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez, and all the Filipino officials, who, unlike the heroic Judge Benjamin Pozon, are allegedly working as lackeys for US Ambassador Kirstie Kenney in order to possibly free the convicted rapist of Suzette Nicolas, Lance Cpl Daniel Smith. Previously they've labelled Sec. Gonzalez Little Brown Brother to Uncle Sam and other officials Eager Beavers. The paper is now trying to start "a tug of war" between the Philippine Government and the Makati Court over custody of Smith over the VFA. But all that is in process and should be properly adjudicated by the Courts.

On a social and cultural note, regarding lackeys, I'm willing to bet you that Ambassador Kirstie Kenney always did her own laundry before she stepped into the Philippine archipelago, did her own groceries and cared directly for her own children (I am assuming she has some.) But I seriously doubt that Isagani Yambot (Publisher), Letty Magsanoc (editor in chief) or any of the Prieto clan (like the outrageous exhibitionist Tessa Prieto!) that own the Philippine Daily Inquirer have EVER done anything without the use of personal lackeys themselves... dozens of live-in maids, laundresses, household helpers, yayas, chauffers, gardeners, beauticians, etc., and that's only when they are in Manila and not the hacienda! What a friggin' laugh.

If only the ongoing killings were not such a grim and serious business. There IS, after all, a real violent revolution being conducted. PDI has, wittingly or unwittingly, been party to an ongoing deception that these awful deaths and murders among leftist activists and militants are the only ones happening. It is the fallacy of selective attention accomplished by a deliberate campaign to portray the government as murderers of leftists, while the latter and the communists are just trying to make progress for "the masses" against "the class enemy."

Even the Catholic Church has pointed out that it maintains a list not only of "leftist" deaths and disappearances but has collected from local dioceses the reports of the communists depredations and killings, their raids and extortions, their own "killing fields" of comrades suspected of being disloyal to far Utrecht.

We have no use for, or need of, a McCarthyist campaign on the leftists and communists. The people already know who they are. What we really need is more candor from the Left. WHY do they deny they ARE communists or sympathizers? Is it because they know they would then be totally discredited with the People?


I've added a number of new links to my blogroll here at Philippine Commentary.

Rachel Khan, chair of the UP Journalism Dept. writes Khanterbury Tales in which she has been addressing the Subic Rape Case and various media related ethics questions, such as anonymity of rape victims (and those found innocent of such charges). I think she is a "thoughtful" writer, but that of course remains to be seen.

Marichu Lambino writes Notes with a chaotic but strangely endearing style. She is a lawyer and often appears on ABSCBN News programs as a legal analyst.

Promdi Dot Net
is also on the Blogroll. I suspect the writer is actually the International Herald Tribune's Carlo H. Conde, but that is just a guess. Anybody know? Today Promdi says that at midnight, the New York Times will be publishing an article on the Subic Rape Case and US-RP relations.

Comelec's James Jimenez has also been on TV recently and writes a blog, naturally about issues involving the Comission, the elections and poll automation.

Well, and to add some gravitasse Stephen Hawking is linked here too (black holes, general relativity, cosmology, Lou Gehrig's disease).

UPDATE (1500)As predicted earlier today by Promdi there is an article on the Subic Rape case in the New York Times today: Tensions Flare in Philippines Rape Case (bylined Tom Shanker.) It reports as follows--
The commander of American forces in the Pacific announced Thursday that he had canceled a huge annual military exercise with the Philippines in a dispute over custody of a marine lance corporal convicted of raping a local woman.

The commander, Adm. William J. Fallon, said he also would halt aid and reconstruction programs carried out by the American military in the Philippines until he was confident that the troops’ legal rights would be protected under bilateral agreements governing visiting United States forces.

Hmmm...the Subic Rape Case is almost 14 months old, and thus far, there has been NO sign of flagging US support for its programs of training, cooperation, medical and civil reconstruction, education and anti-terrorism activities. The medical ship mission of the USS Mercy to Basilan and other parts of Mindanao has done more to destroy the myths and propaganda of the Islamist terror groups than anything else that has been done thus far. The New York Times, perhaps relying mainly on reading certain local newspapers, may be doing a great disservice to both nations with this article, which, in my opinion, wrongly portrays and grossly exaggerates the actual level of "TENSION". I am not aware of any widespread tension over this issue among the people. It is only with the local Left and their media comrades that this tension appears, in their pickets of judicial proceedings, in their demonstrations and rallies against things that bear little relation to the criminal case at hand, but are only aimed at degrading the relationship between America and the Philippines. The tension is being created by propagandists with an ideological and political agenda.

Filipinos and Americans are entirely united in their condemnation of rape and violence against women and children, but neither nation can claim complete innocence in these regards. Yet there are those that dwell upon in order to exarcerbate those things that divide the two nations, which are indeed, puny and inconsequential compared to the overall relationship between them, to grand and sublime things that actually unite them.

So whatever you are trying to do NY Times:: HO HUM!

What TENSION? Of the 3,000 Filipinas that have been raped by Filipinos since November 1, 2005, (according to National Statistical Board) when the Subic Rape allegedly happened, perhaps not a single one of them will get the justice the "Nicole" has already gotten, precisely because of the Visiting Forces Agreement. People see that, and believe that justice will be done. They are not "tense" over this case.

But no matter what happens in this case, the Left and its media comrades will never let Daniel Smith and Nicole go free. They will always be a battering ram against an historic relationship that has not always been easy or just, but which lought not be bothered by invented "tensions" intended to foment trouble.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Scary Plan Z (Martial Law Provision Has Congress Voting Jointly)

ABSCBN News (ANC) reports a claim by Senator Jinggoy Estrada that National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has been meeting with Generals of the Armed Forces on a plan to declare martial law, possibly using as a pretext another report that some sixty Congressmen and Senators have been receiving death threats. I was just listening to Tony Velasquez interviewing Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor about the accusation. Defensor was asked about the revelations made by outgoing Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, that in November 2005, US Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, made an unscheduled emergency visit to Manila to express American disapproval of the martial law option at the height of the Garci crisis.

Defensor talked like he didn't know anything about the interview of Sec. Cruz on Ricky Carandang's The Big Picture in which they discussed Negroponte's visit, instead parrying the question by wondering whether Nonong Cruz had actually made such a revelation. Granted, Sec. Cruz did not make a categorical, explicit statement that that is what happened, but it scared me that Defensor denied knowing of even this previous report.

Imposing military rule over the Philippines in order to derail the upcoming 2007 elections, in which the Palace is expected to see a Hanging Senate elected, is not completely implausible. Defensor's references to the safeguard provisions in the 1987 Constitution in cases when the President declares martial law or suspends the privilege of the write of habeas corpus only made me more uneasy, since they happen to involve the Congress VOTING JOINTLY using a simple majority rule to overrule OR affirm such a Presidential declaration--
Article VII - Executive Department - Section 18

The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion.

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.
IN OTHER WORDS, that House Majority and the Palace could get away with this, at least enough to discombobulate the elections.

This simple fact means the Palace is at least aware of its options for such a Plan Z.

(This provision is the only instance I know of in the 1987 Constitution in which the framers explicitly ignore the bicameral design and architecture of the Congress. It is part of the character of the 1987 charter that could use uhmm, character change.)

UPDATE (via ABSCBN Interactive): Tremendous piece in the Philippine Star by Jaime Laude on resigned Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz. This tells the story of how competence and vision to reform and professionalize the Armed Forces have been trumped by politics and the needs of political survival. It also offers a glimpse into the chaos that has enveloped the Defense Department since dozens of key top level personnel, including undersecretaries and program directors decided to leave with Nonong Cruz in disgust. Already they are being replaced by mentats like Ebdane and Lomibao. Only the commies, terrorists and trapos can be happy about this.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Conservative Politics Begins in the Defense of the Constitution

Manuel L. Quezon III has the mountain-top view in his PDI essay today Parameters on the Charter Change saga. "It's proponents," he says, "like demented sea captains, kept running their efforts aground on the shoals of the Constitution, common sense and public opinion." Touchè. But I just hope his conclusion outlasts the Christmas and New Year holidays and that he isn't being too optimistic--
Only when the present proponents of constitutional change shall have realized this, will the time be ripe for the setting aside of past differences. Only then can a frank, but mutually respectful and productive, debate resume. But not before.
I am not so optimistic that the dementia referred to has quite been cured by the exorcism of a mere Prayer Rally at the Luneta Sunday -- which drew a thin crowd and has apparently encouraged Ed Ermita to hint at the Ghost of Chacha Future. Well, the gnomes have found the Instruction Manual to the Ship of State and they shall never tire of the part that says they can change anything that a simple majority ratifies in a plebiscite.

PDI's Neal Cruz notes that fundamentally conservative, anti-charter-change sentiments are indeed widespread--People don't want to change the Constitution, period. Not Pee-Eye or Con-Ass or Con-Con.

This sentiment is reflected in the stand of the Churches who are gently but firmly closing the door on any Bum's Rush to amend or revise it. The chacha choochoo train has palpably slowed and come to merciful halt, at least for now, with huge puff of steam quickly dissipating in the tremulous aire of Christmas! Instead of Charter Change, the Churches are calling for Character Change--an explicitly conservative theme in the politics of many democratic nations. The Constitution has thus united the Churches and their common political interests to maintain the status quo of untramelled democratic freedom to express, practice and organize their religion, including spiritual and material benefits. That the Churches are the real political parties is not so far-fetched a simile, for it is they who have vetoed and pushed back the "constituent insurgency" of Jose de Venecia by their representation of the popular sentiment. Vox populi, vox Iglesia.

But to me, the recent defense of the Constitution by the Churches against the "demented sea captains" was a profoundly important historic event in the life of the Republic and the oldest constitutional democracy in Asia. For it is the root and stock of a new Conservative politics for the Philippines.

I am using here the term conservative in direct opposition to the term liberal as it refers to the belief that a Bigger, Better Government can and should transform societies by changing the Law, changing the form of government, expanding its reach into every aspect of people's lives and claiming to be able to solve all or most of their problems with some special kind of enlightenment. This WAS the dementia that MLQ3 excoriates and against which the Churches demand a "mutually respectful and productive debate."

From now on in other words, more and more of the people cannot be fooled, period. Skepticism is a virtue more powerful than intellectual fantasy. Every proposed change must first be successfully navigated around the shoals of "the Constitution, common sense and public opinion" before the people are asked to shell out billions on somebody's pea-brained phantasm of the Next Great Leap Forward.

Such a healthy skepticism and suspicion of Big Government could spread beyond the arena of Constituent Power into Legislative Power, the Executive and the Judiciary and provide a fresh perspective for Filipinos on just what it is the People should realistically expect from the Government.

San Francisco's Fil-Am broadsheet Philippine News has republished my view point on this matter --
I think that in the Archipelago events have shown that most people want NO change at all now in the Constitution after seeing the wholesale revision of the form of government that chacha boosters actually wanted and the lengths they were willing to go to get it, including canceling the elections.

But a very good thing has happened. Even common tao now realize how one or two tiny words can change everything, and how easily the politicians can do it. Thus has the seed of a healthy suspicion and skepticism of the govt been planted!

Maybe it is the blessed birth of conservative politics.

Most simply do not believe that it is the form of government that is at fault, but the fact that the Law is not enforced and the Constitution is regularly violated by the highest officials.

Time to stick to one and make it work. Fine tune and evolve it yes. But revise and re-invent it? NO.
If you can't beat them, join them! No one practices the politics of surrender with more finesse and plastic smoothness than the President. The tactic has apparently worked, due to her intimate familiarity with what the Good Fathers and Holy Sisters expect of their contrite and obedient daughter to gain their forgiveness and compassion. Her unerring sense of just how far politicians can go, almost, but did not quite fail her this time. She had to cancel the ASEAN and her House allies are badly discredited, perhaps fatally.

So this is MORE than a flesh wound!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Logs In Our Own Eye

They are baying for the blood of US Marine Daniel Smith but it is really Uncle Sam that they want dead. The Subic Rape Case has entered Act II in which the Lynch Mob zeroes in on its true target -- the Visiting Forces Agreement, and readjusts its tactics to the changed conditions on the battle field. Nicole herself seems happy enough with the One Guilty Three Innocent verdict of Makati RTC Judge Benjamin Pozon. But of course the Lynch Mob sees the glass as only a quarter full, if that. Wearing the holy robes of Nationalist Sovereignty they have enormously flattered Makati Judge, Ben Pozon, with editorials and cartoons, whilst anyone who dares to uphold the Law as well as bilateral agreements between America and the Philippines -- is either Little Brown Brother to Uncle Sam or Eager Beavers for Ambassador Kirstie Kenney. How well they have learned the art and science of Yellow Journalism from William Randolph Hearst. Today's motto is, Do unto Others what they have done unto you.

The ironic thing is that these are the same people who are outraged at the brazen attempt of the House Majority to change the Rules in the middle of the game. So, what do they want to do about VFA and its so-called "controversial provisions?"

Ahem! They want the Philippines to first, UNILATERALLY ABROGATE the Visting Forces Agreement in order to IMMEDIATELY RENEGOTIATE it. Isn't that exactly what the Lower House Majority just tried to do: unilaterally convene a CON-ASS to renegotiate the Social Contract with a now enraged Public?

Talk about moral inconsistency revealing the ideological warp of our nationalists beating their chests over supposed slights to our sovereignty due to the VFA. Yet here is another irony. Or paradox. Of the 3000 rapes that Pinoys have done unto Pinays since November 1, 2005, (the National Statistics Coordination Board's numbers), how many have gotten the speedy justice that Nicole has apparently gotten under the Visiting Forces Agreement--with its one year period to get to exactly where they are now ahead of the agreed upon schedule? It seems to me that the VFA is working except for those who want to use Daniel Smith the way they used Nicole.

Who exactly are the Lynch Mob?

I don't know because some are mostly anonymous editorialists of the biggest broadsheet (or to take seriously the official line on anonymity of editorials, its corporate personality with the mouth of an ombudsman-consigliere, who, like Vic Agustin is allegedly on the pa...)

The "warm bodies" for the Lynch Mob are not however the "objective journalists and editorialists" esconced in their airconditioned offices, spouting press freedom and patriotic justice. The soldati of the Lynch Mob are professional Left activists and femme-ideologicians. The Church of Ideological Victimology that draws so many good hearts fed warped ideas. These folks are also largely anonymous.

Of course, this IS still a FREE country and I would defend the right of Leftists and their Media comrades to say and do whatever they want, on the Subic Rape Case. MY LIBERTY IS YOUR LIBERTY! But I good is the aim of the Lynch Mob?

Especially with these logs in our own eye?

Carlo H. Conde wrote in the International Herald Tribune exactly a year ago this week this piece on Filipino Children Behind Bars. There is also Preda and Fr. Shay Cullen's advocacy. It is a thing that became a CNN News report and will probably go into reruns as the Lynch Mob battles for custody of the convict, William McKinley, err...Daniel Smith.

I thought perhaps those who might be incited by the stuff they read in the Philippine Daily Inquirer will consider this aspect of Reality as they hyperventilate about the urgent importance of putting the American rapist in with the Filipino rapists so that he can experience the same "awful" conditions they do!

Previous Posts on Subic Rape Case:

What Nicole Doesn't Know
Six US Marines Held for Raping a Filipina in Subic
Visiting Forces Aggrievement
The Left and the Trapos United
Anti-VFA Forces Fall Silent For Now
Angst of the VFA Abrogationists
A Little Yellow Journalism
Exploiting Nicole

Friday, December 15, 2006

Jose de Venecia -- A Case of Logical Fiddlesticks

Thoroughly unrepentant and still yip-yapping chacha, House Speaker Jose de Venecia was whining and wailing for a whole hour on ABSCBN's The Big Picture with Ricky Carandang Thursday night. He was gnashing his teeth and the angle between his eyebrows went over from obtuse to acute as he fumed at the foot-dragging and blindness of people who cannot see the supernal and urgent need to switch to the Unicameral Parlimentary form of government. We can catch up with the Asian tigers, Joe exclaims, and go from being "a Third World Country, to being a Second World Country, and finally to being a First World Country." Since JDV has used this line for over a year since the SONA of 2005, it's pretty clear that he still hasn't heard about the Cold War and no one close to him has explained the proper English usage of First, Second and Third Worlds. Would somebody please!! (It's not just him that get's embarrassed since he IS Speaker of the House, fer Chrissakes.)

The diplomatic community in Manila, which has surely been monitoring events after the Palace canceled the December meeting of ASEAN in Cebu, may also be scratching their heads at the Speaker's earnest but embarrassingly unconventional usage of those terms.

Throughout the Big Picture episode last night, I got the impression of show host Ricky Carandang trying to keep a Party Balloon from drifting off into Outer Space and that very Parliament-in-the-Sky.

JDV is really a bad case of logical fiddlesticks when it comes to Charter Change and the Constitution. He has become like Joma and the communists--unable to overcome the hypnotic, compulsive obsession with an Idea, convinced of its utter superiority and omniscience. Eat my shorts, Joe!

It's been a breathtaking year and a half since the Garci scandal broke and President Gloria Macapagal decided to throw the country into a loop-de-loop by backing a radical Charter Change initiative of Jose de Venecia and Fidel V. Ramos to abolish the Bicameral Presidential form of government and replace it with a Unicameral Parliament. All as part of a complex quid pro quo that saved GMA from the electromagnetic radiation of Garci's cellphone, the Palace first backed an FVR-style People's Initiative (Sigaw ng Bayan) that failed on the steps of the Supreme Court for basically the same reasons as the first one did -- insufficient in form, prohibited revision in substance.

Then, GMA allowed JDV and the House Lemmings to do a unilateral banzai charge to convene a CON-ASS, which failed on the steps of the Churches of Public Opinion and the Cold Shoulders of a schadenfreudian Senate after everyone saw how serious the threat was to cancel the 2007 elections.

Thee attempted gang-rape of the Constitution by the House Majority, led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, his Deputy Prospero Nograles, and ideologicians Constantino Jaraula, Luis Villafuerte, Edcel Lagman, Butch Pichay, and Teddy Boy Locsin, cannot be lightly forgiven and forgotten. The people of faith won't let them get away with such a display of Bad Faith.

It would be wrong to think however that they will ever give up. The Gnomes have found the Instruction Manual for the Ship of State and I am afraid they shall never tire of the Article that says any change can be made that a majority of the People ultimately ratify.

Only Public Opinion threatening to escalate into People Power last week pushed back this unilateral Constituent insurgency by the House Majority. The Prayer Rally on Sunday is still on and promises to be a rather suggestive showing of Vox Populi Vox Dei.

People Power is a dream that we can always make revolution and force regime change peacefully. But after the January, 2001 People Power II event overthrew a democratically elected President, it had become both an ideology and a technology, a dream that we can accomplish revolutions peacefully — a kind of instant plebiscite on the current leader and a ratification of his or her overthrow and replacement. And blessed twice over by the Supreme Court.

It is of course the penultimate constitutional shortcut only by disavowing violence and not counting those people power events that do turn violent, like People Power III, which was in form and substance the same basic Mob Rule and demagoguery as People Power II.

But this dream is also a dangerous illusion because I believe that revolutions can not always be accomplished peacefully. In 1986, the brave Filipinos actually faced a moribund leader already fat and sated after 21 years of feasting on power. Edsa I was peaceful only because Paul Wolfowitz suggested a famous line for Ronald Reagan to convey to Ferdinand Marcos at the end: Cut and cut cleanly. Otherwise it could’ve been a bloody massacre that we wouldn’t be paying homage to as a peaceful people power revolution that some fantabulists even claim inspired the breakup of the Soviet Empire. Wherein such people power events as caught up with Nicolae Ceaucescu in Romania would not be mentioned in our pious lil People Power Coffee Table Books. In fact, among the politically correct, there is actually no such thing as Edsa III.

Likewise, in the case of Erap, he never was a tyrant even if he was most certainly a boozer, womanizer and plunderer. In Edsa Dos it WAS peaceful as you point out because the Chief Justice and the Chief of Staff conspired with the Vice President and the Church to overthrow the President. “People Power” did not do that. The Mob was just a prop and an excuse for a coup d’etat by the highest officials of the land.

There can be no Edsa Dos style People Power now because Hermogenes Esperon and Reynato Puno are not about to do an Angie Reyes or Hilario Davide. There will be no Regime Change on Sunday.

But I think one day, we shall face a real tyrant, fresh in the prime of her autocracy. It is then when People Power will have its true test. On that day, we shall have to defend our freedoms with deadly force if we are men and not mice, or wear our chains in abashed silence again. Now that is the scenario the Left dearly would love to happen.

Actually, the need for such dramatics was long ago obsoleted. How? By regular democratic elections and the Charter Change Provisions in every democratic constitution! Today, Erap is a political force only because he is a living symbol of how constitutional democracy was destroyed by that so-called People Power and its idolatrous, heretical worshippers.

It was Edsa Dos and the intellectual dishonesty of the Davide Court, that are the real roots of the House Majority’s utter disrespect for the Constitution, for their propagation of the myth that the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it means. (That is true only for people who did not pass English Composition in school.)

If we are looking for the source of the recklessness and the hubris of the House Majority’s chacha campaign to devastate the Constitution look no further than EDSA DOS! After the Constitution was raped to put GMA in power, JDV and his gang bangers want their turn at her too.

I don’t interpret Sunday as the further development of People Power. I see it as the beginning of Filipino political conservative FEELING. Maybe the Con-Artists in the House and Palace will be broken up over this news, but it now appears that the Filipino people really DON'T want charter change, now or in the foreseeable future. Judging from the White Flags Frantically Waving from the ramparts of both the House and the Palace signaling surrender, it seems as if GMA and JDV know it too.


Pinky Webb to Boy Nograles: "Really, SEVEN to TEN assassins, sir?"

While talking to ABSCBN News noontime news anchor Ms. Pinky Webb, House Majority Leader Boy Nograles sounded a little bit TOO RELAXED and UNCONCERNED for someone who has just narrowly escaped a planned ambush involving "seven to ten assassins." Maybe he was trying to impress her with his flippant comment that he just takes it all as God's will. Strange, when Ms. Webb shifted the subject to the recent House Majority's debacle, he launched into some of the usual fine distinctions about what the President must've really meant by dropping the chacha choochoo, as if NOTHING whatsoever almost happened to him. The guy must have nerves of steel, considering the NBI hasn't arrested or charged anyone except for an "informant." Hmmmm...

Ambassador Victoriano Licaros, spokesman for the ASEAN Summit Meeting in Cebu was pulling the leg of Twink Macaraeg and Tony Velasquez right now, insisting that it really WAS the weather and not a terrorist threat alert from five countries (which is he says is important only for the tourist crowd!) , or ConAss fallout that caused the sudden cancellation. He even sees a bright side in the fact that Typhoon Senyang apparently revealed what an awfully rushed construction job was done on the building. Thank God all those foreigners didn't have to see that and just stayed home instead. Another graduate of the JDV School of Logical Fiddlesticks!

International Herald Tribune reports on the comments of Akira Amari, Japan's Minister of Trade and Industry that the Philippines had lost credibiliity over the cancellation of the ASEAN meeting. Now I know why the smooth talkers are making the rounds of local media: DAMAGE CONTROL.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chacha as a War on Popularity and Suffrage Waged By the Unpopular and Unelectable

Or, how Chit Pedrosa and Teddy Boy Locsin won't take the chaff with the wheat...

f all the things that would happen under a Unicameral Parliamentary system, taking away the right to vote for national leaders -- the President, Vice President and Senators -- seems to me the most objectionable. But nothing could be clearer. The replacement of the Bicameral Presidential system means a radical reduction in everyone's Right of Suffrage. That is the essentially elitist, and possibly fascist goal of the present Charter Change movement that its proponents have succeeded in obscuring from direct public view.

Chit Pedrosa, columnist of the Philippine Star, told ABSCBN News' Ces Drilon last night that she has been passionately working on Charter Change for a switch to the Unicameral Parliamentary system, because "only the popular candidates get elected to national positions even if they are mostly unqualified." Her crusade began with President Fidel Ramos, facing the end of his one and only six-year term, when they launched the first "People's Initiative" on the Constitution with the single purpose of lifting term limits so he could run again. Sensing the self-serving nature of this First Chacha, Media and Civil Society opposed FVR's desire for a second term, but would live to regret it. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who claims to have been cheated by FVR in the 1992 Presidential elections, stopped him and the Pirma People's Initiative in the Supreme Court case Santiago vs. Comelec (which has purportedly been reversed recently by a single sentence in a Minute Resolution of the Supreme Court!) The Media and Civil Society folks that opposed him in that First Chacha of 1997 were certainly abashed by what immediately happened next. In the 1998 Presidential elections then Vice President Joseph Estrada, buried his opponent -- then and still, House Speaker Jose de Venecia -- in a popular electoral landslide.

Realizing they hated Erap even more than FVR and JDV, and for very good reasons, that same Media and Civil Society helped to put GMA in power in the Regime Change of 2001. But don't be fooled. It wasn't "People Power" mainly that got rid of Erap in the end. It was the Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. himself, together with Gen. Angelo Reyes, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Cory Aquino GMA, and aforementioned Media and Civil Society personalities, who, in Mob Rule and Coup D'etat assembled, decided what was really good for the 80 million Filipino people. Together, they conspired to, and succeeded in aborting an ongoing Senate Impeachment Trial of then President Joseph Estrada by the simple expedient of then Supreme Court Chief Justice Davide appearing at a religious shrine along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue with then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and suddenly swearing her in as President on the basis of HER claim that the President was permanently disabled as of 20 January 2001. Two months later, in the March, 2001 landmark decision, Estrada vs. Arroyo, penned by now Chief Justice Reynato Puno, the Supreme Court absolved itself and everybody else of ignoring the Constitution's explicit provisions on Presidential succession in January, 2001 by inventing a Deus-ex-Machina--"Constructed Resignation" or was it "Constructive Resignation". I have to look it up. After the Supreme court declared the overthrow of Joseph Estrada as "Constitutional throughout" the same aforementioned Media and Civil Society called it "the Edsa II People Power Revolution".

However, even after deposing Erap, the Problem of the Popular Idiot being elected to the Presidency remained. Indeed, the Intendencia immediately viewed the candidacy of Fernando Poe Jr. as another instance of "mere popularity" acing out some other purported virtue, like competence or experience which GMA certainly had in spades over FPJ. Her immediate problem was solved by Garci. But when Bunye's Bungle blew the lid on Garci, it threw the country into a political crisis that has not yet ended. With GMA teetering on the very brink of voluntary resignation, FVR and JDV construed and carpediemed their opportunity to control and shape events. Offering the solid stone wall of the House against a looming impeachment over the Garci revelations, Speaker Joe and FVR thought they had her on a string as she suddenly backed Charter Change initiatives as the centerpiece of her July 2005 State of the Nation Address. It was suddenly deja vu all over again with a People's Initiative launched to adopt a Unicameral Parliamentary system.

Here was a more systematic means of preventing the election of another Joseph Estrada to the Presidency by severely curtailing the people's right of suffrage and restricting them to electing purely local leaders. If they would vote for Idiots, in other words, take away that Right to Vote! But taking away national voting rights is an essentially elitist refusal to accept the chaff with the democratic wheat. As we all know the Second Chacha also failed right on the steps of the Supreme Court. Here is my detailed analysis of both legal landmark events showing how the two People's Initiatives were ruled unconstitutional for being Insufficient in form, one for not having the signatures with the initiative petition, the other for not having the initiative text with the signatures!

The Con-Ass Campaign and Teddy Boy Unilateralism

Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin has been saying very much the same things as Chit Pedrosa and Bhel Cunanan on charter change, and has led the charge to justify and rationalize a new way of accomplishing what FVR and the Pedrosas had failed to do with Pirma and what GMA and JDV have failed to do with Lambino/Sigaw and the Second People's Initiative.

Together with Constantino Jaraula, Butch Pichay and Luis Villafuerte, Teddy Boy Locsin launched a most interesting campaign upon the novel Unilateralist Theory that with the right numbers, the House could resolve to convene the Congress into a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of proposing changes to the Constitution.

Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin poses a rhetorical question about Constituent Power that I think captures the conceptual foundation, the ideological kernel if you will of the Unilateralist Programme by expressing the philosophy that justifies the House move to abolish the Bicameral-Presidential system and establish a Unicameral Parliament. (This is a very short clip, 24 seconds, so you may want to play it several times to understand the points that follow.)

Teddy Boy Locsin is asking "If we can propose to abolish the Presidency and the Supreme Court, why do we need the Senate's permission to propose abolition of the Senate?" The basis of for these seemingly awesome powers is of course the 1987 Chacha Provision in which the first few words really say it all...
Art. XVII Section 1. ANY amendment to, or revision of this Constitution may be proposed by (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) A Constitutional Convention.
In Ed Lacierda's comments on Teddy Boy's point to ABSCBN News' Twink Macaraeg, he believes that the reason the House cannot abolish the Senate is that they both possess the Constituent Power, but I'm not sure I see why that means the Senate cannot be abolished in a ratified new Constitution. Instead I submit that if both Houses concur, the Congress CAN propose to abolish both or either the House and the Senate, and the Presidency and the Supreme Court as Teddy Body says, since the Constituent power is almost unlimited. Although it is virtually impossible that the present Senate would agree to their effective abolition in the switch to a unicameral parliamentary system, there is nothing that prevents a future Senate, that may, for reasons of its own or the conditions of its hour upon the stage of history, agree to adopt a new form of government in which it indeed disappears after ratification by the people.

Teddy Boy Locsin, Constantino Jaraula, Luis Villafuerte and Butch Pichay all apparently believe that the Constitution vests the Constituent Power NOT in The Congress but in all the individual Members of The Congress. I believe this is the premise for Teddy Boy's rhetorical exasperation at the House having to seek the Senate's permission to abolish it. In his view three-fourths of all the Members of the Congress is ALL that is needed for the Congress to propose some change to the Constitution, like abolishing the Presidency, the Supreme Court or the Senate. But Teddy Boy and the Unilateralists mistake what the Constitution plainly establishes to be a NECESSARY condition (the three fourths voting rule) for a SUFFICIENT one to exercise the constituent power.

The Congress may propose ANY change, but it must do it as the Congress! Doing it as individual Members of the Congress leads precisely to the absurdity that Teddy Boy was expostulating about with Butch Pichay and Korina Sanchez. If we assume however that the Constituent Power is vested in the Congress and not its individual Members, not even a proposal to abolish both Houses of the Congress is a priori disallowed which is what the establishment of a Unicameral Parliament amounts to.

I must thank Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin for producing the question that actually reduces to an absurdity the premise of the unilateralists and unicameralists that the Constituent power is an individual right or power.

Who's side is Teddy Boy Locsin on? I'm beginning to wonder if what we are seeing in him is a very special kind of "performance art" by which he is actually demolishing the Majority's philosophical foundation from within with his implacable logic and mastery of the English language in dropping certain bombshells.

Like, "Face it Butch, this thing is dead "

Monday, December 11, 2006

NOEL was the Tipping Point for Public Opinion

NCE enough people realized that the real objective of the House Majority was to have No Elections in May 2007, powerful religious, civil and political forces quickly united to oppose the unilateral Charter change moves. This happened spontaneously. The threatened postponement of the May 2007 elections to November, if ever, was the tipping point issue that galvanized Public Opinion against the House of Jose de Venecia.

A noteworthy lesson is that the holding of regular elections is a touchstone issue with Filipinos that is perilous to tinker around with in any self-serving way. Though most Filipinos may not understand the intricacies of the Constitution, they DO know that it grants them the sovereign power to elect national, provincial and local leaders in regular democratic elections. They understand that their consent to be governed by anyone elected to represent them, has a definite expiry date that cannot be changed by its recipients. Filipinos apparently understand and wish to strictly enforce the Constitutional concept of term limits. In this case, June 30, 2007 is a drop dead date for all incumbent Members of the Lower House, who must stand for re-election, if eligible, in the May 14 elections.

After it became clear to everybody this past week that the House Majority was serious about postponing the May 2007 elections to November, all Heaven broke loose and one by one the Churches all stepped up to the plate to say they would hit the proposals with a million prayers in massive rallies and demonstrations this week. Religious muscle defends the right to vote.

There is a broader lesson.
The proposed switch from a Bicameral Presidential system to a Unicameral Parliamentary form of government may be unratifiable at plebiscite because the people will never give up the right to vote for their national leaders and be satisfied with just electing local and provincial officials.

Because of all the attention focussed on the arithmetical philosophy of the Charter change provision, the Unicameralists have been able to successfully obscure and distract the public from seeing the real effects of a switch on the exercise of the right of suffrage in the Philippines: no more voting for national leaders like the President, Vice President and the Senators.

As more and more people realize that this would be the practical consequence of supporting the switch to a Unicameral Parliamentary system, the opposition to it will only solidify and grow among the people, in my opinion. For they have little else but their vote -- at least until they discovered they could also vote with their feet as OFWs. But the Churches -- which I regard as faith-based mass organizations -- have withdrawn their support for the kind of wholesale revision being proposed by the House, and its heavy-handed reliance on "having the Numbers" in order to have their way. The Public saw and tolerated that juggernaut behavior in the House impeachment battles of the last eighteen months but will have none of it in a matter that goes beyond political partisanship and affects everyone's Right of Suffrage in a substantially unacceptable way.

I think those who support a Unicameral Parliamentary form of government for the Philippines have to convince the Filipino People to give up their Right to Vote for national leaders and to give it to those who are now their Congressmen. This could be an impossible task for they must also contend with the historical fact that no people in history have ever willingly surrendered the democratic right of national suffrage once they had attained it.

Bullseye Analogy - Jose de Venecia and the House Majority demand that the Senate agree to a Constitutional Convention and pass a Resolution to that effect within 72 hours -- or else they will continue with that unilateral Constituent Assembly this week. Senator Serge Osmena's analogy describing this House demand deserves to be immortalized. He likens the House Majority to a rapist that demands his victim marry him within 72 hours or else he will rape her again!

The Senate has called the House's bluff with such bemused reactions as Serge Osmena's, as well as dead-serious warnings from Sen. Dick Gordon of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments that the House is courting the public's anger over its moves. No Senator is expected to grace the opening of the Con-Ass, except possibly for the self-described "insane, ballistic, homicidal, suicidal, frothing-at-the-mouth" Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. Which would of course complete the absurdity of the whole thing.

By the way, Nagueno in the Blogosphere has a noteworthy post on the ironic dedication of Bicol Congressmen Edcel Lagman, Luis Villafuerte and others to chacha in a time of calamity for their home districts.

Amando Doronila,
with misty eyes, thinks this is a sign of life for people power. Other places call it Public Opinion, Doro.

The exasperation of Founding Father Joaquin Bernas, SJ, over the House's exploitation of their "oversight" in the Constitution's charter change provision is still fun and instructive to behold.

MLQ3 describes the pickle the House finds itself in and only barely succeeds in hiding the schadenfreude in his One Voice, but using H.L. Mencken for the delicious purpose.

Cox & Forkum (editorial cartoonists) commemorate Pearl Harbor this year with a citation of John Lewis long, thoughtful and provocative essay, The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism viewed from the lessons and parallels of that earlier struggle with Japanese militarism and its conquest of Asia and China. The post is a reaction of course to the Iraq Study Group report released this week. David Broder (Washington Post) describes the White House and British reactions to the report.

Updates from Senate Hearing on Con-Ass

Justice Vicente Mendoza gave a nice little lecture on the exercise of the Constituent Power at the Philippine Senate this morning. I am glad to see that Philippine Commentary over the last few weeks might actually meet with his approval for agreeing with his points...

Senator Ralph Recto opened up an interesting line of questioning that revealed a century of amazing experimentation with both bicameral and unicameral forms of the legislature of parliamentary, presidential and dictatorial forms. The discussion is joined by Justice Vicente Mendoza and Juan Ponce Enrile. No country has had such a bewildering history of constitution making, amending, revising and changing!

But Sen. Ralph Recto definitely gets it about the central political issue that has defeated Con-Ass--the threat to take away the national vote.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Organized Religion Repays the Constitution

EMOCRACY is the best thing that ever happened to Organized Religion. They not only know it, but the churches and religious sectors of the Philippines have defended the Constitution and the moral principles for which it stands far more than many others out of loyalty and gratitude. The Constitution has done right by Religion and its freely flourishing congregations prove it.
Article III - Bill of Rights - Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
Churches know that their Liberty is the Constitution's Liberty!

Filipinos ought to be proud that their Democracy, flawed and faltering as it is, has nevertheless apparently commanded the loyalty and powerful service of Religion, which is ineradicably in the hearts of most of the people. Today Religion rises to uphold the Constitution as the very conditions upon which the people grant their consent to be governed. Our religious leaders know their best bet for survival and expansion lie in the fold of Liberty's glorious protection.

Thus, it cannot be denied that perhaps even more than the Senate itself, it is an extraordinary coalition of churches and religious leaders that has forced the House Majority and its leader, Jose de Venecia, to beat a hasty retreat from unilaterally convening a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) by once more Taking to the Streets. This includes the pivotal Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which called for protest demonstrations in all 86 dioceses. Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai Movement was very vocal the other day and promised to talk personally to the President about the mounting opposition and public outrage at the House's Con-Ass moves. Jesus Is Lord (JIL) and the varous "born-again" formations have also thrown their numbers into the push-back against the House move. Perhaps the last straw was word from political heavyweight Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) that the unilateral Con-Ass would not have its support. The head of the CBCP, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has a blog worth visiting to see what the CBCP is thinking, saying an doing.

It is therefore a perpetual puzzlement to me that even the strongest supporters of Religion in the Media, the Catolico cerrado press, are ever nervous over the possible accusations that the Church is meddling in politics "again." But what does a plain reading of this say: No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.?

I suppose it is the very claim of Moral Authority that religions and churches tend to make that produces this impression of being able to interfere in politics with some kind of superior knowledge or authority.

As for me, it is crystal clear that Religion is as Free as Labor or Peasants or Students or any other free assembly of citizens, to express their opinion with whatever authority they actually possess.

The Church is just like an NGO.

Also, Filipinos are fast transcending the mental status of Sheep, just as the Shepherds are not so unsophisticated or dogmatic about "Religion."

The People of God may not know the details of the Constitution, but that may be because they believe that somehow God will speak through them, when it really counts--democratic elections.

This fight was about defending our rights to vote for our leaders and not to yield to the Unilateralists who wanted to take the May elections and the national vote away from every citizen.

Even Religion knows that. Now the so-called House Majority knows that the People know that, too.

Thank you, Your Reverences.

Perhaps, this is the beginning of a principled new Filipino political conservatism.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Good Night, Con-Ass! Good-bye JDV?

Faced by a massive coalition of religious, civil and political societies in opposition to their crazy Unilateral Constituent Assembly idea House Speaker Jose de Venecia has announced that the 2007 May elections will be held as scheduled. Here is an audio recording of Speaker Jose de Venecia's calling for a Constitutional Convention during the Press Conference:

It's just his funny way of saving face and adding insult to injury, instead of manfully waving a White Flag and coming back to play by the Rules. Instead, JDV and Company have thumbed their noses at everyone and decided to add insult to injury by "turning the tables" on the Senate and the Churches and calling for a Constitutional Convention. Within 72 hours starting Monday. Or else we continue with our Con-Ass." (On a side note Ricky Carandang was telling RG Cruz during the ABSCBN telecast of the Press Conference that originally JDV was going to give the Senate only 48 hours, but added an extra day. )

But first there will definitely be elections in 2007, as the son of the Comelec Chairman, Mayor Ben Hur Abalos of Mandaluyong spoke up for the position of the Manila Wing of the Majority. A position now fervently taken up by JDV and his Rainbow Majority.

But it was definitely a cold pleasure to see the Con-Ass Wolves today in Sheepish Clothing eating crow, bravely but bitterly and with continuing defiance and hubris--Jose de Venecia, Prospero Nograles, Butch Pichay, Constantino Jaraula, Luis Villafuerte. Like bad lil boyz caught playing with themselves in the bathroom, they've come to deny everything in front of everybody with one voice and shoulder to shoulder, looking guilty but defiant.

The retreat of JDV and his Boyz on the explosive political issue of the May elections is now accompanied by the absurdities of what they did in the past week, which was to amend their Rule on how the House exercises its Constituent Power--By a vote of 161-25, the House of Representatives amended the House Rules on Proposing Amendments to the 1987 Constitution by deleting the sentence in red below:
Section 105. (House of Representatives) Form of Proposals and Procedure for Adoption. - Proposals to amend or revise the Constitution shall be by resolution which may be filed at any time by any Member. The adoption of resolutions proposing amendments to or revision of the Constitution shall follow the procedure for the enactment of bills.
With the removal of the second sentence above, the opposite becomes true -- that House Resolutions proposing changes to the Constitution will no longer seek the concurrence of the Senate before being sent to the Comelec for ratification at Plebiscite.

It was clear the House Majority made this rule change last Tuesday to enable the unilateral convening of The Congress into a Constituent Assembly on Monday via House Resolution 1450, which indeed has no Senate concurrence. In fact NO Senator will attend the Con-Ass opening on Monday. (Sorry for this language, hope I don't get Google-indexed with the X stuff!)

Now let us look at the two Constitutional provisions involved in Con-Ass and Con-Con--

Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 1.
Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:
(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or
(2) A constitutional convention.

Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 3.
The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.
Clearly, the Two Thirds Majority Rule required by the Constitution in Section 3 to call a Constitutional Convention is weaker than the Three Fourths Majority Rule in Section 1 for the Congress to propose changes to the charter.

A Logical Absurdity Because the House amended its Rule in Section 105 and passed House Resolution 1450 to convene a Constituent Assembly without the concurrence of the Senate, it now seems absurd that it would wait on the Senate, challenging it to pass a resolution calling for a ConCon. If they are continuing to ignore the Senate on a matter requiring three-fourths of all the Members of the Congress, why are they saying they now need the Senate to convene a Con-Con which only needs two-thirds of all the Members of the Congress??

Or don't they have the numbers any more to even keep Jose de Venecia as Speaker of the House of Representatives?

Waiting for JDV...Postpone ASEAN Not 2007 Elections

Manila has abruptly postponed the ASEAN Summit meeting in Cebu. The first reason given by the government for suddenly moving a much publicized ASEAN Summit Meeting in Cebu City was Typhoon Seniang. Considering that a brand new Convention Center has just been built and Cebu has first class amenities even better than Manila, the typhoon theory did not hold water. Only diehard catastrophists were convinced when a comparison was made to when Indonesia cancelled a similar meeting due to the tsunami that devastated them weeks before. The Weather Service had not issued any dire warnings.

The second reason given is the threat of a terrorist attack. This possibility can never be discounted. But ASEAN was about as well secured in Cebu as in the past. The multiple travel advisories from several of the participants are nothing unusual for a high level international conference like this. There have been the usual dramatics with international and domestic Left protesters, but nothing major. If a terrorist threat had suddenly become credible and imminent enough for an abrupt cancellation such as this, there must have been some sudden development or discovery that the Public is not yet aware of. Yet aside from the postponement, the Palace has said nothing further about what would seem to be a very serious terrorist threat.

Perhaps the real reason lies in terror over the social weather which has turned absolutely threatening, even ominious for Malacanang Palace, after major civil, political, business and especially religious leaders announced plans to hold a series of massive demonstrations next week to oppose recent House moves to unilaterally amend the Constitution and move the May elections. THAT aspect of the Con-Ass operation -- the admitted plan to move the scheduled May 2007 Midterm elections -- has angered the masses of the faithful because of its brazen bad faith. Dean Raul Pangalangan called it "shameless." The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have joined with Mike Velarde and the El Shaddai Movement; the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC); Jesus is Lord Movement of Bro. Eddie Villanueva; and a growing list of other groups that oppose the threatened convening of a constituent assembly next week.

I do not find it at all surprising that it was the various religious and faith groups that reacted so vehemently and immediately to the unilateral House move, whose evident BAD FAITH in planning to move the 2007 May elections.

The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines has always defended the rights of Religion. Even Organized Religion. For even if its national hero, Jose Rizal, is in fact an excommunicant of the Catholic Church -- or perhaps BECAUSE he is an excommunicant of that one majority church, all Filipinos today can claim the Freedom of Religion.

Indeed, today's flourishing assemblies of many believers -- free to preach and to worship the God of their choice at Masses and Services of their free invention -- are proof that religious liberty is well-established in 21st Century Philippines. Not only that. Freedom of Religion is as fiercely defended a civil right as Freedom of Expression. The Constitutionally guaranteed freedom to believe in any God, or no god at all, comes from the freedom to hold a private opinion. Churches, congregations, sects, cults are all forms of organized Religion, just like newspapers, radio and tv are forms of Organized Expression.

The Constitution has stood by Religion. Now Religion appears to repay the Constitution! Because the Members of Religion are also patriotic and loyal citizens of the Republic. Today we are witness to an historic SALUBUNGAN (there is no good English translation) wherein adherents of Organized Religion defend the Constitution in acts of historical gratitude that must be noted for all future generations to see how deeply the Filipinos love and understand Democracy itself!

The Filipinos may not know the detailed provisions of the Constitution. But they know that the Constitution is a sacred contract that contains the conditions upon which they grant their consent to be governed. That there are provisions for amending and revising that contract only means that the People forever reserve the right to remove such consent.

The threat of Jose de Venecia and the House Leadership to postpone the May 2007 elections seems to have brought the struggle for a Unicameral Parliament to another tipping point towards the valley of defeat.

We await the PRESENT Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia who is scheduled to hold a Press Conference at any moment...

Friday, December 8, 2006

Teddy Boy Locsin Predicts Con-Ass "Will Evaporate" by Tuesday!

ver the surprising Master Contrarian Makati Representative Teddy Boy Locsin dropped that bombshell at the very end of Dong Puno's Viewpont program tonight which also featured guests UP Dean Raul Pangalangan and Rep. Douglas Cagas. He thinks "this effort will evaporate by Tuesday...because of the intense public outrage."

Teddy Boy said that the intense public opposition to the glaringly self-serving and defective process of convening a Constituent Assembly would put an end to this second attempt at establishing a Unicameral Parliamentary system in place of the present Bicameral Presidential one. Indeed, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the El Shaddai Catholic Movement of Mike Velarde, the Philippine Senate, Media, Academe, Civil and Business Societies are building up a rising tide that looks set to sweep the House out of the building.

Rep. Locsin is himself said earlier in the program that he was for a "Unicameral Presidential System" because he still believes in Separation of executive and legislative powers. He characterized Jose de Venecia's response to a useless Senate, he quipped, by abolishing the Presidency and establishing a Parliament, hence his advocacy of a one-chamber legislature but with nationally and directly elected President. But no takers.

To me a Unicameral Presidential system would be like a helicopter with a main rotor but NO tail rotor. The Senate, even though it is numerically a smaller body, is like the tail rotor of a helicopter in which the main rotor is the House, with its much bigger body of elected Representatives.

Of course they were discussing the controversy over the Charter Change provision--
Article XVII Section 1 Any amendment to or revision of this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) A Constitutional Convention.
Dean Pangalangan defended the bicameralist interpretation of this provision that the two Houses of the Congress use a Three Fourths Majority Rule to approve proposals.

Teddy Boy Locsin defended the unilateralist interpretation of the provision, which by the way is not really the same as what might be implied by a unicameralist interpretation. The idea of the unilateralists appears to be that the Constituent Power itself resides in the Members of the Congress individually, a kind of representative-of-the-people's initiative interpretation of the Charter Change provision.

In my opinion they are both right and they are both wrong! That is because the provision is UTTERLY SILENT about whether it is voting jointly or voting separately. Either MODE of voting is Constitutional in my opinion, as long as the numerical result is obeyed that three-fourths of all the Members of Congress approve of the changes to be proposed for ratification at plebiscite.

And in fact, the Congress can legitimately decide what that MODE of voting will be--both Houses voting separately or jointly. HOW the House and Senate decide this question should be in the usual manner that it decides all issues in which the ineluctable equality and coordinacy of the two Houses of the Congress are perpetually in a state of check and balance--by a concurrence of both the House and Senate. Funny thing is, before the House amended its Rules the other day and excised Section 105's last sentence, that is exactly how the House itself accepted it to be--that all proposals for charter change that the House approves requires the concurrence of the Senate. Ahem.

Just as the Constitution is UTTERLY SILENT about the operations of a Constitutional Convention, it is largely silent about all the operations of the Congress when it exercises its Constituent Power, requiring only that the Congress must use a Three Fourths Majority Rule. This of course reflects the greater gravity of changing the Charter over ordinary acts of legislation.

But I think it is fallacious to say that because the Constituent Power is separate and distinct from legislative power, that the recipient of these powers is not the Congress, but its individual Members.

I think this is one of the more interesting Constitutional issues that will be settled if this ever gets to the Supreme Court. In other words, I hope the unilateralist lemmings DO jump off the cliff.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines head, the blogging Archbishop Angel Lagdameo announces a nationwide protest action sponsored by the CBCP against the Constituent Assembly move, on his website--
In this spirit, we are proposing a NATIONAL WATCH AND PRAY GATHERING, in all major cities or dioceses in order to express our opposition to the hasty and manipulative way CON-ASS is being pursued or undertaken for Charter Change. Not only do we need to WATCH (critique, denounce, purify) but above all we need to PRAY for the enlightenment of our leaders in government.

It would be good if we can do this simultaneously in the AFTERNOON OF DECEMBER 15, 2006, FRIDAY, close to sunset, the EVE of the SIMBANG GABI. It will be about the same time the activity will be held in the Archdiocese of Manila in Luneta. As suggested, there should be no streamers or flags of any group allowed except streamers with the following message:

Even ahead of the Church hierarchy, Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai vowed to stop the House moves.

The Lemmings of Unilateralism Have the Numbers

But no way the Lower House can convene The Congress for anything without the Senate!

House Speaker Jose de Venecia was listening intently to the sponsorship speech of Rep. Luis Villafuerte on House Resolution 1450 was preceded by a nice little skirmish between Reps. Rolex Suplico and Edcel Lagman (something about Rules and Rockets, Rackets and Brackets)...

Rep. Constantino Jaraula also put in a second, more cerebral sponsorship of HR1450 to formally launch the second assault on the Bicameral Presidential system by the Unilateralists...

Rep Teddy Boy Locsin was not as coy as his colleagues about saying exactly what they were doing -- "going it alone." But he as a declared Unilateralist, he was at least being cautious and cautionary in his position within the Majority bloc that all exercises of their Constituent Power better be done using a Three Fourths Majority Rule, even to pass the subject House Resolution to convene the Congress into a Constituent Assembly.

But can a mere House Resolution, whose title page proclaims it to be an ACT of the Lower House of the Congress, convene The Congress itself to some kind of assembly at which some unknown Agenda is to be tackled? Who is bound by such an ACT which is not a law in any sense, but a mere House Resolution? Even if passed UNANIMOUSLY, what can such an act of the Lower House actually command, compel or accomplish?

I suppose Teddy Boy's use of the word unilateralism is a forthright expression of the excision of Section 105 of the Rules of the House, which embodies the bicameralism under which the House cannot but operate when exercising its Legislative power. Yet the question for the Unilateralist Theory of the Constituent Power may be this. Does the House of Representatives wield Constituent Power and may therefore ACT to exercise such power? Can a House Resolution embody a valid exercise of the constituent power? If the Constituent Power resides in each Member of the Congress, as the three-fourths majority logic of Lagman-Locsin demands, then it does not reside in the Lower House of the Congress.

What can the Members of the Congress who are also House Members do to exercise their constituent power? Well they can call a meeting among themselves and call it whatever they want to, but such a meeting cannot possibly claim to be ACTING as The Congress, because the very Title Page of the piece of paper they are launching this historic assault on the Constitution on, proclaims it to be a mere Resolution of the LOWER HOUSE.

Sorry for Teddy Boy, but even if they approved HR1450 by a unanimous vote, it would still amount to nothing more and nothing less than a mere resolution of the Lower House.

I recorded several of the Interpellations following the Sponsorship speeches for readers of Philippine Commentary and the edification and entertainment of the vast audience of the future...

Rep. Mayong Aguja, Akbayan Party List

Rep. Noynoy Aquino, son of Ninoy Aquino

House Minority Floor Leader Francis Chiz Esudero

Rep. Rolex Suplico and Edcel Lagman

Senate President Frank Drilon
told Ricky Carandang that the interpellation of Rep. Ronnie Zamora contained particularly important questions and revealing answers...