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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Randy David's Column

Public Lives : Breaking the silence

Randy David randolf@pacific.net.ph
Inquirer News Service

IN HER 2005 State of the Nation Address, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo spoke of two nations -- one experiencing vibrant economic growth, and another mired in endless political bickering. The political system, she said, must be reformed in order to ensure the economy's unimpeded growth. The vehicle for this is the shift to a federal parliamentary government via the fast route of a constituent assembly.

Whether this smart move buys her time remains to be seen. The force of inertia, the fear of chaos, the uncertainty of the alternatives, and the basic distrust of politicians -- all these, for now, are working in Ms Arroyo's favor, notwithstanding the serious allegations of electoral fraud and corruption against her.

The situation we face is not unlike the wrenching dilemma that a wife faces when confronted by the painful discovery that her husband has raped his own daughters. To ask him to go away because of this unspeakable betrayal is to expose the family to economic insecurity and ruin, from which the members may not be able to recover. This is how countless families end up staying silent under a regime of mendacity, abuse and pretense. They abhor this person in their midst. But they fear the unknown even more. They invent all kinds of rationalizations to justify the arrangement. They seek comfort in the recurrent thought that he has been a good provider. They hang on to the hope that someday he may reform. It's a no-win situation for the mother. Only the thought of her children's future finally makes her break the silence.

Whether one is dealing with the pathology of a family or that of a nation, therapy must begin with recognition that there is a problem, that an honest understanding of its complex roots is needed, and that an enduring cure can replace short-term palliatives. Tinkering with the Constitution at this time, to my mind, is like saying to a family that is recoiling from the blow of a betrayal, "I am sorry for this lapse in judgment, but let's move on. Let's take a holiday and play Scrabble." If the problem were not so serious, a respite from bickering might work wonders. But when the problem concerns the trustworthiness of the head of the family himself, a holiday is nothing but a tawdry attempt at bribery and evasion.

Let us step back momentarily from the sordid situation in which the nation finds itself today, and try to make sense of this political crisis. I think the attempt would give us an insight into our political culture and the unjust social order it serves.

As our people become poorer, and as the government fails to respond to their growing needs, their demand for relief from poverty through patronage also becomes greater. The poor know that the politicians are exploiting them, and they respond to this by milking the politicians as long as they can. They would take the money and goods offered to them and proceed to vote for the people they truly admire, namely, their idols and folk heroes. The more their disenchantment with politicians grows, the more they turn for redemption to the celebrities they trust.

The phenomenon of Joseph Estrada was a product of this shift in our political life. His 1998 electoral victory would have been easily duplicated by Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004. Only a patronage machine of the kind mobilized by Ms Arroyo in 2004 would have been able to match the power of FPJ's popularity. But even such a well-funded machine has turned out to be insufficient. That is why the expertise of Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano was desperately sought. It was the main reason Ms Arroyo appointed him just a few weeks before the 2004 election, over the strenuous objections of people who knew the man's notorious credentials as a vote-padding operator.

Herein lies the crisis of the system of patronage politics: it can no longer survive without directly manipulating election results. What we have here is a virtual civil war between a dying traditional political class and a rising celebrity class that has discovered politics. Both of them feed on the needs and hopes of an impoverished nation. The middle class -- with its battle cry of modernity and morality -- is caught in the middle of this war, unable to cast its lot with either the discredited politics of patronage or the politics of mass-mediated charisma.

Also caught in the middle, but actively pressing for a progressive resolution of the crisis, is the Left. Its mass base has dwindled over the years, a casualty of the collapse of agriculture and the destruction of manufacturing. It now competes with the "trapo" [traditional politicians] for the large urban poor mass, and with the middle forces for the large student population in the major cities. A residual anti-communism from the Cold War era hampers its efforts at mobilization among the middle classes.

In truth, our formal institutions are too advanced for the kind of society we have. Our modern constitutions gave our people all the essential rights and liberties of free citizens in a mature democracy, but all these have meant nothing because of their persistent poverty, dependence and disorganization. Instead of being able to exercise their freedoms as citizens in a mature polity, they are trapped in the web of an obsolete patrimonial state controlled by an unreformed oligarchy. That is the root of the problem. As long as the economic vulnerability of the masses is not addressed as a prior objective, no change in the form of government will cure this problem.

This crisis is yet another chance to confront the lies that have marked the conduct of our national life. Break the silence, and free our children!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Federalism

Posted by Sheila Coronel
PCIJ

THE dream of federalism is as old as the Republic itself. Cebu-based historian Resil Mojares writes that in 1898, even before the revolutionary government of Emilio Aguinaldo had established its presence in the Visayas, leaders in Iloilo already formed a Federal State of the Visayas, anticipating the formation of a federal republic with three states — Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. 

In 1899, when the Americans were establishing their rule throughout the archipelago, a group of Filipinos, says Mojares, also submitted to the Philippine Commission a draft constitution for a Federal Republic of the Philippines, which would divide the country into 11 states. The following year, Ilocano intellectual Isabelo de los Reyes proposed a federal constitution with seven states, each named after Filipino heroes (Burgos for northern Luzon, del Pilar for central Luzon, down the line to Soliman for Mindanao).

These proposals were not heeded for understandable reasons. Aguinaldo was fighting a war and so needed a strong republic (another not-so-new term) with a strong center. The U.S., too, was cool to the idea, because it needed to consolidate its rule throughout the islands. But federalism is a dream that refuses to die.

The calls, from the 1970s, for a Republic of Mindanao (with its own currency, the Mindanao dollar), were the martial-law versions of this dream — the strong centralized authoritarian rule of Marcos naturally whetted federalist aspirations. In Cebu, as Mojares writes, the federalist call became more intense after Ceboom of the late 1980s and the realization by local leaders that they had a thriving economic base that was weighed down by its links to the center. For sure, there is a popular yearning for federalism, a yearning that through the years has also been exploited, domesticated and thwarted by politicians of every stripe.

Today President Arroyo is resurrecting the federalist dream, as part of a package of constitutional changes designed to save her embattled presidency. The leaders of the House are also endorsing it, although they, especially Speaker Jose de Venecia, are really more interested in a parliamentary system that gives their kind — politicians with a patronage and electoral base in the districts — both executive and legislative powers. For de Venecia, et.al. a shift to a parliamentary system offers a back route to the prime ministership and protects the monopoly of political power by traditional politicians, most of them members of political clans, from the incursions of media and movie stars into what was once trapo territory.

In fact, the draft constitutional amendments proposed earlier this year by the Speaker's allies in the House committee for constitutional amendments hardly mentions federalism, except to say that a federal form of government would be installed within 10 years after the approval of the amended constitution. Not surprisingly, it gives the new parliament the power to divide the country "into as many 'independent states'" as it deems fit, and to define the powers of those states, while reserving for the federal government powers on national defense, monetary policies, and "such other powers as it may deem imperative." (Click here for House Concurrent Resolution No. 04, authored by Rep. Constantino Jaraula, which embodies the vision of constitutional change of the Speaker and his allies.)

The proposed constitutional amendments in the House spell out de Venecia's dream: an all-powerful unicameral parliament or National Assembly, which will elect a powerful Prime Minister, who will choose his Cabinet mainly from the elected representatives. All members of the parliament will be elected by single-member districts; there is no mention of party-list or proportional representation. There will also no longer be any limits on the number of parliamentarian's terms, which will each be four years rather than the current three.The President, elected from among the members of the National Assembly, will have only ceremonial functions.

Only yesterday, in a press conference held by some Lakas congressmen with federalism advocate, the respected academic Jose V. Abueva, did the Speaker's allies give more details of their vision of a Federal Philippines. In launching the Movement for a Federal Philippines, the congressmen said there will be 12 states which would have taxation and lawmaking as well as executive powers, with the federal government being limited to defense, police, foreign relations, monetary policy and communications.

Abueva has been chosen by the president to be a member of a Consultative Constitutional Commission for Charter Change, composed of eminent citizens who would consult with people around the country and submit their inputs to Congress. A long time advocate of constitutional reforms, Abueva has proposed a federal-parliamentary system of government composed of 11 states, with a president as symbolic head of state, a powerful prime minister who is head of government and a bicameral parliament. The House of the People will have 300 members, most of them elected at the district level although 60 to 80 members would be selected by proportional representation. The Senate shall be elected from members of the states assemblies, meaning that they will be representatives of their states or regions. The parliament members will sit for four years and will elect the prime minister from among themselves.

Abueva's proposals for federalism, unlike the Jaraula resolution, are more defined and articulated. They also include measures for electoral and political party reform. For your weekend reading, read Abueva's proposal here.

Even as the talk of cha-cha snowballs, the reality is that without Senate approval, the proposal to convene Congress into a constitutent assembly to draft a new constitution is dead in the water. But the congressmen's persistence, and the mobilization of popular support, especially for federalism, might yet succeed in creating enough political noise to keep the issue in the media and in the national consciousness in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the public focus will also be on the impeachment, and the energies of the opposition and a whole range of political movements will be aimed not so much at charter change but at holding the president accountable.

This makes the charter change advocates in the anti-Arroyo camp fume. Joel Rocamora of the Institute for Popular Democracy, who has worked for constitutional reforms for many years, is mad that the President is now mouthing the same "arguments that many of us who advocate constitutional reform have been saying for years."

"Now the same arguments (are) being soiled by the barf of her desperation," he rants. (Read that piece here, as well as an earlier, more sober article, called " Cha Cha pag wala na si Gloria."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Impeach Sched

Posted by Alecks Pabico 
PCIJ

THE way things are proceeding at the House of Representatives, people should expect a tediously drawn-out impeachment process.

This early, technicalities are the order of the day as the amended impeachment complaint filed on Monday's opening of Congress only had 41 representatives endorsing it. That same day, Speaker Jose de Venecia included the complaint in the House order of business and referred it to the justice committee — by far the only swift action that's been done on the case.

With only 41 signatures, the opposition is opting for a "creeping impeachment" similar to the process that led to the impeachment of former president Joseph Estrada when fewer than 20 opposition congressmen filed the complaint. Once it had the needed number of signatories, then House Speaker now Senator Manuel Villar immediately transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate without anymore waiting for the report of the justice committee.

But Rep. Simeon Datumanong, current committee chairman, is insisting that the complaint can no longer be transmitted to the Senate because it did not have the required signatures of at least one-third of the House membership when it was filed.

Lawyers of the opposition, however, say they are ready to contest Datumanong's interpretation before the Supreme Court.

But with the rules of procedure governing impeachment proceedings still to be finalized for a lack of quorum, the justice committee has also yet to convene. Nonetheless, we've learned that a preliminary impeachment schedule has been drawn that will, at the minimum, last until the end of September. Mark these dates:

  • August 9 — for the justice committee to undertake a preliminary determination of sufficiency in form of the verified complaint and/or resolution
  • August 16 — for the justice committee to undertake a preliminary determination of sufficiency in substance of the verified complaint and/or resolution

    The committee shall have 20 session days to determine sufficiency in form and substance of said complaint from the date of referral (June 25).

  • August 24 — for the justice committee to furnish written notice to respondent, who is given five days to reply from receipt of notice and complainants given three days from receipt of answer 
  • August 31 — start of committee hearings scheduled three times a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday)

The last week of September, meanwhile, is set for the determination of probable cause, a step that Rep. Edcel Lagman has been stressing in plenary debates on the impeachment rules, but which opposition lawyers say will lend to the process criminal proceedings of the nature of preliminary investigations done by a fiscal or prosecutor. This, they say, is contrary to the spirit of the impeachment, which is non-criminal in nature.

Based on the draft rules, the committee has 30 session days from the start of the hearings to submit its report to the House provided that the submission is within 60 sessions days from the time the complaint was referred to the committee.

Only then can the House in plenary be able to vote within 30 days on the resolution of the justice committee either to approve and set forth the article of impeachment or dismiss the complaint.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

41 Impeachment Signatories

Posted by Vinia Datinguinoo
PCIJ

The biggest group of signatories is composed of members of the Liberal Party, with nine of their members endorsing the complaint. Seven belong to the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino or LDP; five are Nationalist People's Coalition members; two are Nacionalistas; and there is one each from the Partido ng Masang Pilipino and Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. One member of the president's own party Lakas signed the complaint, and one other is independent. Fourteen are representatives of eight different party-list groups. This brings the number of signatories to 41.

Opposition leaders, however, have said that they have obtained the commitment of more than 20 other representatives but are keeping their identities under wraps so they will not be "harassed" by the majority. These are the signatories to the resolution endorsing the amended impeachment complaint. Links to their data posted in PCIJ's i-site are provided too. (Check i-site's impeachment corner in the coming days for other relevant information.)

1. J.R. Nereus Acosta - LP, 1st district Bukidnon

2. Lorenzo R. Tañada III - LP, 4th district Quezon

3. Benigno Aquino III - LP, 2nd district Tarlac

4. Alfonso Umali Jr. - LP, 2nd district Oriental Mindoro

5. Manuel Mamba - LP, 3rd district Cagayan

6. Henedina Abad - LP, Lone district Batanes

7. Rozzano Rufino Biazon - LP, Lone district Muntinlupa City

8. Reynaldo Uy - LP, 1st district Western Samar

9. Proceso Alcala - LP, 2nd district Quezon

10. Rolex Suplico - LDP, 5th district Iloilo

11. Erico Basilio Fabian - LDP, Lone district Zamboanga City

12. Teofisto Guingona III - LDP, 2nd district Bukidnon

13. Agapito Aquino - LDP, 2nd district Makati

14. Juan Edgardo Angara - LDP, Lone district Aurora

15. Jacinto Paras - LDP, 1st district Negros Oriental

16. Rodolfo Agbayani - LDP, Lone district Nueva Vizcaya

17. Francis Escudero - NPC, 1st district Sorsogon

18. Darlene Antonino-Custodio - NPC, 1st district South Cotabato

19. Joseph Santiago - NPC, Lone district Catanduanes

20. Rodolfo Plaza - NPC, Lone district Agusan del Sur

21. Ruy Elias Lopez - NPC, 3rd district Davao City

22. Alan Peter Cayetano - NP, Lone district Taguig-Pateros

23. Justin Chipeco - NP, 2nd district Laguna

24. Ronaldo Zamora - PMP, Lone district San Juan

25. Clavel Martinez - Lakas, 4th district Cebu

26. Imee Marcos - KBL, 2nd district Ilocos Norte

27. Rolio Golez - Independent, 2nd district Parañaque City

28. Joel Villanueva - CIBAC

29. Mujin Hataman - Anak Mindanao

30. Florencio Noel - An Waray

31. Eulogio Magsaysay - AVE

32. Satur Ocampo - Bayan Muna

33. Rafael Mariano - Anak Pawis

34. Liza Maza - Gabriela Women's Party

35. Crispin Beltran - Anak Pawis

36. Teodoro Casiño - Bayan Muna

37. Mario Aguja - Akbayan

38. Loretta Ann Rosales - Akbayan

39. Anna Theresa Hontiveros-Baraquel - Akbayan

40. Joel Virador - Bayan Muna

41. Rodante Marcoleta - Alagad

 

Click here for a PDF copy of the Resolution of Endorsement showing the signatures. This resolution has only 39 names. The two others, Reps. Marcoleta and Alcala, filed their separate endorsements.

Gloria's 2005 SONA

Ours is a country divided; the story of our nation is a tale of two Philippines; almost, as it were, two countries under the same name.

One is the Philippines whose economy, after long years of cumulative national endeavor, is now poised for take off. The other is the Philippines whose political system, after equally long years of degeneration, has become a hindrance to progress.

As a country on the verge of take off, our storyline would surprise many at home and abroad. The story includes an economy that grew more than 6% last year and that has continued to work in the teeth of the biggest oil price hikes in history, while generating 4 million jobs in the last four years.

The story includes marked improvements in tax collections, infrastructure, housing construction, shelter, security for the urban poor and indigenous peoples, and rice productivity.

The story includes 69 million beneficiaries of health care insurance, including 30 million indigents, whose re-enrollment started early this year and is still ongoing.

That same story, over four years, saw the drug menace cut in half, the rash of kidnappings become a thing of the past, and insurgency in the South abated.

This story should work itself out as one about an economy as resilient and full of potential as its people are patient and hardworking, guided by a government -– with the executive and the legislative hand-in-hand -- that is able to pass a no-nonsense budget and make the tough decisions to put our fiscal house in order.

I specially refer to our recent titanic struggle to enact the three laws that comprised the biggest fiscal package in our history, the biggest revenue increase in a generation that will break the vicious cycle of financing development by borrowing and having to borrow again just to service those loans. This is the one reform that will snap the chain that has bound our future to a profligate past and the debt-burdened present. The Filipino's strong sense of family has given Congress a stronger resolve not to pass on today's debt, and bankrupt our children and grandchildren tomorrow. That struggle has done the House and the Senate great honor. Congratulations.

Abroad, the story continues. We've worked long and hard to restore our country to the prominent place it once held as co-founder of the United Nations and the free world's first line of defense in the East. We won a seat in the UN Security Council, where we presided over the landmark resolution calling for democracy in Iraq. The Philippines chaired the historic Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace at the UN, the fruit of a bold and creative initiative by your Speaker of the House.

We head the APEC anti-terrorism task force. Our victories in the war on terror have been acknowledged by no less than President Bush before the U.S. National Defense University. The Jemaah Islamiya and the Abu Sayyaf can only pick up the pieces of its broken backbone in Mindanao.

We've worked with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to forge peace with our Muslim brothers. Eighty percent of our peace talks with them have been completed. Permanent peace in Mindanao is within reach.

Indeed, our story as a country on the verge of take off is real. Analysts need only to look at our stock market, and even the peso-dollar exchange rate, to sense the strong anticipation of significant improvements, if only we would overcome the tendency to be our own worst enemy.

Thus, with investors both here and abroad in mind, I invite you all to join me in sending them a strong message from this great hall: We will not waver in our commitment to economic reform and fiscal discipline, whatever the political cost.

The other message to send is that we will address the burden that the other Philippine story imposes on our anticipated take off. I refer to the story of how our political system has now become a hindrance to our national progress.

Over the years, our political system has degenerated to the extent that it is difficult for anyone to make any headway yet keep his hands clean. To be sure, the system is still capable of achieving great reforms. But, by and large, our political system has betrayed its promise to each new generation of Filipinos, not a few of whom are voting with their feet, going abroad and leaving that system behind.

Perhaps we politicians have done our best; but maybe our best is not enough, given the present system. Perhaps we have strained the present political system to its final limit.

It is time to turn to the people, bring them into government -- and change the way that government is done.

The people want government that works for them at every level. They want good government that begins at their doorstep in the barangay, and does not end before the closed door of a bureaucrat in Metro Manila.

The system clearly needs fundamental change, and the sooner the better. It's time to start the great debate on charter change.

We must address such questions as how much more government is needed for the greater safety and economic security of our people, and how much less government is more conducive to free enterprise and economic progress.

The mode of charter change is the exclusive prerogative of Congress. But a constituent assembly may well give our people the quickest reforms.

I shall work with Congress, civil society groups and local government executives who are convinced that charter changes are needed to enable the country to surmount the unprecedented challenges of the 21st century.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the local government executives who have brought about an LGU power revolution through transformative leadership.

The economic progress and social stability of the provinces, along with the increasing self-reliance and efficiency of political developments and public services there, make a compelling case for federalism.

Perhaps it's time to take the power from the center to the countryside that feeds it.

I recognize that our form of government will be the decision of the body constituted to undertake charter change. But we should consider that legislation could be quickened and laws made more responsive to the people under a parliamentary system, similar to that of our progressive neighbors in the region.

But even as we make a serious start in charter change, I hope we can still work together on other initiatives to the lasting benefit of our people.

In the area of education, we've spent our increased resources on better trained teachers in more classrooms, teaching students in more effective ways. We've laid a strong foundation by building almost 30,000 classrooms in the past four years, providing computer access to more than 3,000 high schools, and beginning a "healthy start" breakfast program for our young school children.

I ask Congress to pass the Pre-need Code to rehabilitate, reform and regulate the pre-need educational programs that worked so well in the past as a major vehicle for youth education entitlement.

College education is the great Filipino dream. But in a world of rapid technological change, getting a job or keeping it depends as much on how well one reasons as how well one uses his hands. I have issued E.O. 358 so that hours spent in vocational training can be credited towards a college degree. That will combine job readiness with the dream of a college education while increasing the competitiveness of our nation.

But our competitiveness is greatly endangered today by the global oil crisis. I call on Congress to pass legislation encouraging renewable and indigenous energy.

In the area of national security, I urge the swift passage of an anti-terrorism law that will protect rather than subvert, enhance rather than weaken, the rights and liberties that terrorism precisely threatens with extinction.

These examples serve to highlight that there is much work to be done.

Now is not the time for divisiveness, and while there's no avoiding partisan politics, there can be a determined effort by all sides to limit the collateral damage on a country poised for take-off.

Let's call on the Lord. Let us ask him for the grace to make us worthy of his healing our land.

Alam kong tayong lahat ay naghahangad ng isang makabuluhang pagbabago para sa ating bayan. Tayong lahat ay nagsisikap para matamo ang kapayapaan at kaunlaran. Kung kaya't ako'y nakikiusap na tulungan ninyo ako, para sa kapakanan ng taong bayan.

We may disagree among ourselves but let us never lose sight of that greater battle for one people, one country, one Philippines.

Not the country of this or that President but the Philippines of our shared and passionate affections.

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

SONA Transcript

THANK YOU MR. DE VENECIA, VICE-PRESIDENT NOLI DE CASTRO, PRESIDENT FIDEL RAMOS, SENATE PRESIDENT DRILON, CHIEF JUSTICE DAVIDE AND THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT, HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HIS EXCELLENCY ARCHBISHOP FRANCO AND THE EXCELLENCIES OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS, MEMBERS OF THE CABINET, COMMANDERS OF THE ARMED FORCES, OFFICERS AND MEMBERS OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, FELLOW WORKERS IN GOVERNMENT, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.


ANGELO DE LA CRUZ IS HOME.

WE DID IT! CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FILIPINO PEOPLE.

SAMAKATWID, IPABATID SA LAHAT, MULA SA POOK AT PANAHONG ITO SA BAWAT PILIPINO, SAANMAN NAROROON...

YOU HAVE A GOVERNMENT -- INDEED, YOU HAVE A COUNTRY -- THAT CARES. YOUR LIFE IS HELD MORE DEARLY THAN INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIM. AND YOU HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO IS YOUR FRIEND.

WHY WAS ANGELO DE LA CRUZ SAVED? BECAUSE I STUCK TO MY OATH. SINCE I FIRST BECAME PRESIDENT IN 2001, MY DECLARED FOREIGN POLICY FOCUS HAS BEEN TO PROTECT THE VITAL INTERESTS OF THE NATION, INCLUDING OUR EIGHT MILLION OVERSEAS FILIPINOS.

AND I CANNOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING A PROTECTOR OF MY PEOPLE.

THE DIFFERENCE OF A FEW WEEEKS, FOR A PULLOUT ALREADY DECIDED ON, COULD NOT JUSTIFY SACRIFICE OF A HUMAN LIFE.

SACRIFICING ANGELO DE LA CRUZ WOULD HAVE BEEN A POINTLESS PROVOCATION; IT WOULD HAVE PUT THE LIVES OF A MILLION AND A HALF FILIPINOS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AT RISK, BY MAKING THEM PART OF THE WAR.

WARS ARE FOR COMBATANTS. AS I SPEAK SOLDIERS ARE BEING HELD HOSTAGE BY COMMUNIST INSURGENTS BUT THEY DON'T EXPECT TO BE RELEASED EXCEPT BY THE COMPASSION OF THEIR CAPTORS OR A MILITARY OPERATION.

WE HAVE BEEN FIGHTING THE LONGEST RUNNING COMMUNIST INSURGENCY IN HISTORY. WE HAVE BEEN COMING TO GRIPS WITH FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISM LONG BEFORE 9/11.

AS THE LEADER OF THE NATION, I SAY IN BEHALF OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE TO THE WORLD: WE ARE STRONG AND PRINCIPLED BELIEVERS IN DEMOCRACY. FOUR GENERATIONS OF FIGHTING FILIPINOS HAVE CEASELESSLY STRUGGLED AGAINST TOTALITARIANS AND TERRORISTS, FOR OUR FREEDOM, FOR THE FREEDOM OF OUR PEOPLE AND THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD.

WE HAVE FOUGHT THE ENEMY, AND TAKEN AS GOOD AS WE GAVE-- NOT FROM A SAFE DISTANCE BUT IN CLOSE QUARTERS. BATAAN AND CORREGIDOR, KOREA AND VIETNAM, EAST TIMOR, KOSOVO, LIBERIA, TO NAME A FEW.

WHEN I OPTED TO SAVE ANGELO DE LA CRUZ, I WAS REFLECTING WHETHER ONE LIFE SHOULD BE SACRIFICED FOR NO PRESSING REASON OR SAVED BY ACCELERATING AN ONGOING PULLOUT.

I DID NOT SACRIFICE POLICY TO SAVE A HUMAN LIFE. I APPLIED POLICY FOR THAT PURPOSE. THE PHILIPPINES HAS NO POLICY THAT DEMANDS SACRIFICE OF HUMAN LIVES.

ASK YOURSELVES THIS: IF ANGELO DELA CRUZ HAD BEEN SACRIFICED, WHAT WOULD CHANGE-FOR THE BETTER IN IRAQ TODAY?

HAVING SAVED ONE FILIPINO FROM A PAINFUL AND POINTLESS DEATH, WE MUST SEIZE THE UNITY WE ATTAINED TO IMPROVE OUR GOVERNMENT AND SAVE OUR ECONOMY.

PINAPANGAKO KO ANG ISANG BAGONG DIREKSYON: MAMAMAYAN MUNA. ANG TAONG BAYAN ANG PINAKAMALAKI NATING YAMAN. NGUNIT MADALAS, KAUNTI LANG ANG ATENSYON NA BINIBIGAY SA KANILANG PAG-UNLAD. DI TULOY MATAWID ANG AGWAT NG MAYAMAN AT MAHIRAP. DI TULOY MAPA-ABOT SA LAHAT ANG BIYAYA NG DEMOKRASYA.

I WANT TO CREATE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY AT HOME AND ABROAD. I DON'T WANT JUST ONE OR THE OTHER. I WANT BOTH.

BUT IT CAN ONLY BE DONE WITH-FOCUS, WITH ENERGY, AND WITH A COMMON PURPOSE TO DO THAT WHICH STILL LIES WITHIN OUR POWER: PUT OUR ECONOMIC HOUSE BACK IN WORKING ORDER BEFORE IT FINDS ITSELF BEYOND HOPE OF REPAIR AND DOOMED TO SHARE THE FATE OF FAILED NATIONS.

WE MADE A HEADSTART IN THE LAST THREE YEARS; WE MUST TAKE BOLDER STEPS FORWARD IN THE NEXT SIX.

INFLATION IS UNDER CONTROL. THE ORDINARY HOUSEWIFE HAS BEEN BUYING HER RICE AND FISH AT STABLE PRICES.

NEW INVESTMENTS, FOREIGN AND BETTER YET DOMESTIC, WERE MADE. THREE MILLION MORE OF OUR PEOPLE FOUND JOBS IN THE LAST THREE YEARS COMPARED TO HALF A MILLION IN THE THREE YEARS BEFORE THAT.

MALAKI ANG PAG-UNLAD SA PANGUNAHING PANGANGAILANGAN-- MALINIS NA TUBIG, HEALTH INSURANCE, TIRAHAN, PAARALAN, AKLAT.

WE BEAT DOWN CRIME, WE ARE BREAKING UP THE DRUG AND KIDNAPPING SYNDICATES, WE ARE MOPPING UP THE STRAGGLERS. THE PEOPLE ARE SAFER IN THE STREETS, IN THEIR HOMES, AND IN THEIR PLACES OF WORK.

EVERY GOVERNMENT IN THE WORLD IS AT WAR WITH ITS OWN CORRUPTION; WE HAVE MADE LIFESTYLE CHECKS A LETHAL WEAPON, AND ADOPTED PROCUREMENT REFORMS TO TAKE THE FIGHT FORWARD.

THANKS TO MANY OF YOU, I EMERGED FROM THE LAST ELECTION WITH MORE VOTES THAN ANY PREVIOUS PRESIDENT.

AS A FURTHER SIGN OF THE PEOPLE'S OVERWHELMING SUPPORT, THEY GAVE ME A HUGE MAJORITY IN CONGRESS, AND AMONG THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

THIS IS A NEW DAY, WITH A NEW DIRECTION, AND A RENEWED CONFIDENCE IN WHAT WE CAN ACHIEVE TOGETHER.

I AM DETERMINED TO PROVE THAT THIS TREMENDOUS SHOW OF FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IS WELL DESERVED.

THE SEASON OF BITTER PARTISANSHIP IS OVER; THE SEASON OF SERVICE IS UPON US ALL, MAJORITY, MINORITY; OPPOSITION, ADMINISTRATION.

IN MY INAUGURAL ADDRESS, I LAID DOWN A 10-POINT AGENDA FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS -- NOT UTOPIA BUT SOMETHING PRACTICAL WE CAN ACHIEVE AND ACCOMPLISH ON TIME.

WHAT I DID PROMISE WAS THAT MY TERM WOULD BE THE IRREVERSIBLE TURNING POINT.

IPINANGANGAKO KO IIWANAN NA NATIN ANG LIGALIG AT ALINLANGAN.

AT THE END OF MY TERM, THE QUESTION WILL NOT LONGER BE WHETHER WE CAN COMPETE BUT WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD SHALL WE TAKE AN INDISPUTABLE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.

THE NEXT SIX YEARS WE HOPE IS WHEN WE FINALLY GET THINGS RIGHT.

IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THAT GOAL WE CANNOT ALL AGREE ON? IS THERE A REASON WE CANNOT ALL WORK TOGETHER?

ALL THAT'S NEEDED IS TO CLEAR AWAY A COUPLE OF OBSTACLES, AS I INTEND TO DO WITH FIVE KEY REFORM PACKAGES: (1) JOB CREATION THROUGH ECONOMIC GROWTH, (2) ANTI-CORRUPTION THROUGH GOOD GOVERNMENT, (3) SOCIAL JUSTICE AND BASIC NEEDS, (4) EDUCATION AND YOUTH OPPORTUNITY AND (5) ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND SAVINGS.

TOUGH DECISIONS WILL HAVE TO BE MADE. IT'S GOING TO BE TOUGH LOVE FROM HERE ON. IT MUST BE TOUGHER ON THOSE WHO'VE HAD IT EASY THAN ON THOSE WHO'VE HAD IT TOUGH ALREADY.

HUMARAP DIN SA PROBLEMA ANG MGA KARATIG BANSA.

ANG KANILANG SEKRETO'Y PAGKAKAISA NG MAMAMAYAN, SUPORTA SA LIDERATO, AT SAKRIPISYO NG BAWAT ISA.

WE MUST BEAR THE PAIN AND SHARE THE PAIN TO ENJOY THE GAIN TOGETHER.

THOSE WITH MORE MUST SACRIFICE MORE; THOSE WITH LESS ARE ALREADY LIVING LIVES OF SELF-SACRIFICE.

MARAMING MAGSASABI: MATAGAL NA SILANG NAGSA- SAKRIPISYO. NGUNIT HINIHINGI KO SA INYO: KONTI PANG SAKRIPISYO.

WE MUST WAIT WITH PATIENCE FOR THE REFORMS TO WORK. IN THE MEANTIME, WE MUST WORK MORE PRODUCTIVELY BECAUSE WORLD COMPETITION IS KEEN AND WE WANT THE JOBS NOT ONLY TO COME, BUT TO STAY.

OUR MOST URGENT PROBLEM IS THE BUDGET DEFICIT. SOMETIMES IT'S UNAVOIDABLE; BUT CHRONIC DEFICITS ARE ALWAYS BAD.

SOMETIMES STAMPING OUT DEFICITS TOO VIGOROUSLY CAN SLOW DOWN GROWTH. BUT IGNORING THEM CAN KILL THE ECONOMY. IT SENDS THE WRONG SIGNAL THAT WE DON'T UNDERSTAND OUR FISCAL PREDICAMENT AND WILL NOT HELP OURSELVES. THIS WILL DRIVE AWAY INVESTMENTS, EXACERBATE THE DEFICIT AND HURT JOB GROWTH.

CHRONIC DEFICITS DRASTICALLY REDUCE GOVERNMENT'S ABILITY TO MAKE THOSE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS THAT BUSINESS NEEDS TO GROW AND CREATE JOBS.

CHRONIC DEFICITS MEAN UNDERTAKING LESS SOCIAL SERVICES THAT PRIVATE CHARITY WILL NEVER PROVIDE BUT WITHOUT WHICH SOCIAL WAR IS INEVITABLE. THIS IS A SURE FIRE FORMULA FOR NATIONAL FAILURE.

SO! WE MUST RAISE REVENUES, EXPAND GOVERNMENT SERVICES, YET CUT COSTS -- ALL AT THE SAME TIME. IT BOILS DOWN TO RIGHT PRIORITIES.

THE BEAUTY OF THE FISCAL PROBLEM IS THAT ALL THE SOLUTIONS ARE KNOWN, THOUGH APPLYING THE RIGHT ONES IS TRICKY.

ALL THE SOLUTIONS REQUIRE: TOUGHNESS ON THE PART OF GOVERNMENT, COOPERATION ON THE PART OF BUSINESS, PATIENCE ON THE PART OF OUR PEOPLE, AND ACTIVE SUPPORT ON THE PART OF CONGRESS.

ALL THE SOLUTIONS REQUIRE PROFOUND, EVEN PERSONAL CHANGES. POLITICIANS WILL NEED TO FOCUS ON THE JOB AT HAND RATHER THAN ON THEIR PROSPECT OF RE-ELECTION.

THE WORST OFFENDER YET THE HARDEST TO PIN DOWN IS CORPORATE CORRUPTION. BUSINESSMEN MUST ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF TAX ACCEPTANCE NOT TAX AVOIDANCE. THEY MUST STOP TRYING TO OUTRUN THE TAX COLLECTOR. THEY MUST RECOGNIZE THAT ONLY A FISCALLY STRONGER GOVERNMENT CAN CREATE A MORE CONGENIAL BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT: GREATER SECURITY, BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE, CHEAPER CREDIT, MORE BUSINESS.

MY ADMINISTRATION WILL UNDERTAKE REFORMS TO RAISE OR SAVE P100 BILLION. I ASK CONGRESS TO PASS EIGHT REVENUE MEASURES THAT WILL COLLECT P80 BILLION MORE.

ALAM KONG MAAASAHAN KO ANG MGA MAMBABATAS. UPANG BURAHIN ANG DEFICIT. UPANG ITULOY ANG MAGANDANG TRABAHO. AT UPANG ITAGUYOD ANG SALIGAN NG MATAPAT NA GOBYERNO AT MALAKAS NA EKONOMIYA.

INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENERGY PROVIDE THE GREATEST MULTIPLIER EFFECT FOR GROWTH AND JOB CREATION. PAG MAGANDA ANG IMPRASTRAKTURA GAYA NG KALSADA, TULAY, PANTALAN, TELEPONO, KORYENTE, MARAMING MAMUMUHUNAN. MARAMING MAGKAKAROON NG TRABAHO.

WE MUST ACHIEVE SUFFICIENT, EFFICIENT, CHEAP ENERGY IN THE NEAR TERM. WE MUST BE SURE TO HAVE THE CAPACITY TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF A GROWING ECONOMY, SO AS NOT TO CHOKE OFF GROWTH WHEN IT COMES, AND THEREBY LOSE THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT MAY NOT COME AGAIN.

TO THIS END, NAPOCOR POWER GENERATING PLANTS AND TRANSMISSION LINES MUST BE PRIVATIZED BUT NOT IN A FIRE SALE. DELIVERING ELECTRICITY TO VIRTUALLY AN ENTIRE COUNTRY AS BIG AS OURS CANNOT POSSIBLY BE WORTH NOTHING BUT THE TROUBLE OF RUNNING IT.

NAPOCOR'S TRANSMISSION SYSTEMS WILL BE SOLD ON TERMS THAT RECOGNIZE THE LUCRATIVE MONOPOLY OF ITS TRANSMISSION GRID. I ASK CONGRESS TO PASS THE TRANSCO BILL THAT ALREADY PASSED THE HOUSE IN THE 12TH CONGRESS.

OUR INVESTMENTS IN SOCIAL JUSTICE AND BASIC NEEDS ARE AS VITAL TO OUR FUTURE AS FISCAL AND MACROECONOMIC REFORMS. A NATION DEEPLY DIVIDED WILL NOT STAND. AND IT CERTAINLY WILL NOT MOVE FORWARD.

OUR NATION IS DIVIDED BY SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC FAULTLINES. THE TECTONIC PLATES MAY SHIFT WITH UNTHINKABLE CONSEQUENCES.

SOME SAY THAT IS IT CHEAPER TO DIE THAN TO GET WELL FROM AN ILLNESS, THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND CLEAN WATER IN THIS RAINFALL COUNTRY, THAT IN THIS MODERN DAY AND AGE, PART OF THE COUNTRY STILL SITS IN DARKNESS. THIS IS A TERRIBLE WASTE AND A TERRIBLE SHAME.

KAYA ANG AKING AGENDA PARA SA MARALITA AY HANAPBUHAY; REPORMA SA LUPA; TUBIG, GAMOT AT KORYENTE; PAGTATANGGOL AT KAPANGYARIHAN PARA SA MAHINA.

IN FACT, WE WILL NOW BE ABLE TO BRING CLEAN WATER TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY BECAUSE DURING MY PREVIOUS TERM, YOU, CONGRESS FINALLY PASSED THE CLEAN WATER ACT; BECAUSE IN MY FIRST DAYS AS PRESIDENT IN 2001 I SIGNED THE SOLID WASTE ACT; ---THANK YOU ALSO FOR GIVING ME THAT OPPORTUNITY --- AND BECAUSE WE ARE REFORESTING OUR WATERSHEDS.

THE PLACE TO START NOW IS LIVELIHOOD, FOR 10 MILLION FILIPINOS.

THE GROWING INDUSTRIAL, SERVICE, AND MICRO- ENTERPRISE SECTORS WILL TAKE CARE OF SOME, A THRIVING AGRI-BUSINESS SECTOR WILL KEEP MORE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE RATHER THAN BURDENING A METRO MANILA THAT IS ALREADY CRACKING UNDER THE WEIGHT OF OVERPOPULATION.

LAND REFORM COVERS AGRARIAN LAND, URBAN LAND, AND ANCESTRAL DOMAIN LAND. I ASK CONGRESS TO QUALIFY FARMLAND AS BANK COLLATERAL AND REFORM THE SYSTEM OF URBAN LAND TITLE

ANG KAPANGYARIHAN NG TAONG BAYAN AY PUSO NG DEMOKRASYA. DAPAT KASAMA SILA SA PAGHUGIS NG KANILANG KAPALARAN.

DADALHIN KO ANG AKING MGA REPORMA SA TAONG BAYAN. AKO'Y MAGPAPALIWANAG, AKO'Y MAKIKINIG.

I HAVE SHOWN THAT GOVERNMENT DOES CARE EVEN FOR A SINGLE FILIPINO LIFE. NOW WE MUST SHOW THAT WE CARE FOR THE REST OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE WEAKEST AMONG US.

TO ADAPT THE WORDS OF ADAM SMITH TO THE INFORMATION AGE, "THE GREATEST IMPROVEMENT IN THE PRODUCTIVE POWERS OF LABOR SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THE EFFECTS OF A MODERN EDUCATION."

ECONOMIES HAVE EXHAUSTED THE POSSIBILITIES OF THE DIVISION OF LABOR; THE WAY FURTHER FORWARD NOW IS A BETTER- EDUCATED, MORE ADAPTABLE WORKFORCE.

WE NEED TO START EARLY. AND WE NEED TO MAINTAIN THE HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS. I ASK CONGRESS TO LEGISLATE AN EXTRA YEAR OF STUDIES NOT BY ADDING A FIFTH YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL BUT BY STANDARDIZING WHAT IS TAUGHT IN BARANGAY DAY CARE CENTERS.

TO EXPAND YOUTH OPPORTUNITY, WE NEED TO FOCUS ON TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION; ON STRENGTHENING ENGLISH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY -- AND LOVE OF COUNTRY. AS I SAID IN MY INAUGURAL: IT IS NOT FREE MARKETS BUT PATRIOTISM THAT MAKES COUNTRIES STRONG.

THERE IS A SENSE IN WHICH AS A SOCIETY WE HAVE FAILED THE YOUTH IN THEIR FORMATIVE YEARS, IN GROWING UP NORMALLY AND PRODUCTIVELY, IN GETTING A GOOD EDUCATION, IN LEARNING THE HABITS OF HONESTY AND CITIZENSHIP AND CIVIC DISCIPLINE.

I ASK THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM, THE PARENTS, THE CHURCH AND PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY TO HELP SHAPE A NEW CULTURE OF HONESTY, PATRIOTISM, RESPECT, DISCIPLINE AND SERVICE FOR YOUNG FILIPINOS.

THE ROOF CANNOT COLLAPSE WHEN THE VALUE PILLARS OF GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY ARE SOUND AND STRONG.

I FERVENTLY SUPPORT THE JUDICIAL REFORMS BEING CARRIED OUT BY OUR SUPREME COURT.

I ASK CONGRESS FOR A LAW MAKING THE OMBUDSMAN'S FUNCTION AS EFFECTIVE AS HONG KONG'S INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION.

BUREAUCRATIC CORRUPTION WITH ITS NUMEROUS LEAKAGES IS BAD. SO IS GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCE. UNLIKE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR, WHERE THE FREE MARKET PUNISHES MISTAKES, GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCE PUNISHES ONLY THE PUBLIC.

WE HAVE TO TEAR AWAY LAYERS OF INEFFICIENCY PILED ON BY DECADES OF POLITICAL ACCOMMODATION: REDUNDANCY IN THE NATIONAL SERVICE, WASTE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, AND POINTLESS PROCEDURES FOR GETTING DONE WHAT ISN'T NEEDED ANYWAY TO SECURE THE PUBLIC WELFARE. JUST HOW DOES PAYING OFF THE HEALTH INSPECTOR BANISH BACTERIA FROM A DIRTY KITCHEN?

BY DEFINITION, PUBLIC SERVICES ARE WHAT THE PRIVATE SECTOR WILL NOT DO EXCEPT FOR A PRICE THE PUBLIC CANNOT PAY.

WHERE THE PRIVATE SECTOR CAN DO IT BETTER AND CHEAPER, GOVERNMENT MAY HAVE TO STEP ASIDE. BUT THE WATCHWORDS ARE BETTER AND CHEAPER. WHERE PRIVATIZATION ONLY SPELLS PUBLIC PILLAGE, GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE TO DO THE WORK.

BUT THAT'S NO REASON TO SPARE PUBLIC SERVICES FROM THE TEST OF COMPETITIVE PERFORMANCE.

WE WILL SIMPLIFY PROCEDURES TO ELIMINATE FIXERS.

WE WILL DOWNSIZE THE GOVERNMENT, MOTIVATE EXCESS EMPLOYEES TO BECOME ENTREPRENEURS, AND INCREASE THE PAY OF A LEAN AND MEAN BUREAUCRACY.

I HAVE ABOLISHED EIGHTY OFFICES UNDER THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT. I WILL ABOLISH THIRTY MORE.

I ASK CONGRESS TO PASS A LAW ON GOVERNMENT RE-ENGINEERING, WITH SILVER PARACHUTES FOR REDUNDANT OFFICES.

ONCE WE HAVE PROVED TO OUR PEOPLE THAT WE HAVE DONE WHAT WE CAN WITHIN THE PRESENT STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT, WE CAN MOVE ON TO CHANGING THE SYSTEM TO ONE THAT ENHANCES OUR FREEDOM AND FLEXIBILITY TO DO MORE.

I EXPECT THAT NEXT YEAR, CONGRESS WILL START CONSIDERING THE RESOLUTIONS FOR CHARTER CHANGE.

NO ONE HAS A MONOPOLY ON RIGHT IDEAS. I AM REACHING OUT TO ALL SEGMENTS OF SOCIETY AND ALL PARTIES, BE THEY WITH ME OR AGAINST ME, TO JOIN ME IN THOSE THINGS THAT SHOULD BE EVERYONE'S CONCERN BECAUSE THEY RISE ABOVE POLITICS TO THE LEVEL OF PATRIOTISM.

I DO NOT WANT A HONEYMOON PERIOD AFTER WHICH WE CAN FORGET THE COUNTRY AND GO AFTER EACH OTHER AGAIN. I WANT A MARRIAGE NOT OF CONVENIENCE BUT OF CONVICTION, ACROSS THE SPECTRUM OF PARTIES AND GROUPS, ENCOMPASSING THE RANGE OF INTELLIGENT POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS AND ECONOMIC VIEWS. I WANT A MARRIAGE FOR AT LEAST THE LIFE OF THIS CONGRESS.

I DO NOT ASK FOR UNPRINCIPLED SUPPORT BECAUSE IT WILL NOT HOLD.

I DO ASK FOR AN END TO UNPRINCIPLED OBSTRUCTIONISM BECAUSE THAT ALWAYS SUCCEEDS IN DEFEATING OUR BEST EFFORTS.

TUNAY NGA NA KAHIRAPAN AT KAWALAN NG KATARUNGAN ANG SAGABAL SA ATING PAG-UNLAD. NGUNIT ANG MGA NAGSUSULSOL SA MAHIHIRAP NA MANGGULO ANG SUMISIRA SA ATING KINABUKASAN.

SO THIS MUST STOP.

WE MUST PUT A STOP TO THAT.

EVERY YEAR, EVERY PRESIDENT TELLS CONGRESS THAT IT IS THE LAST CHANCE FOR MEANINGFUL CHANGE.

THIS TIME I WILL SAY IT AGAIN, ADDING ONLY THAT PAST PRESIDENTS WERE RIGHT. AND THAT EACH TIME CHANGE DOESN'T HAPPEN, MAKES CHANGE HARDER AND LESS LIKELY TO HAPPEN THE NEXT TIME AROUND.

THE TIME FOR CHANGE IS WELL PAST DUE.

THIS TIME, LET ME SAY, LET'S JUST DO IT!

MABUHAY ANG PILIPINO!

MARAMING SALAMAT SA INYONG LAHAT.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gloria's Truth

Public Lives : Truth commissioned

Randy David randolf@pacific.net.ph
Inquirer News Service

IN THE DEBATE surrounding the proposal to create a "Truth Commission," no one has raised the basic question: Who wants the truth and why? It is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is commissioning the truth, and we all know why -- she wants affirmation of her victory in 2004, nothing more.

If we wanted to know who really won in the 2004 presidential elections, we had every opportunity to do so in a constitutional way during the canvassing of votes in Congress and in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). Why did our legislators waste this chance by responding to every challenge to the certificates of canvass with the perfunctory word "noted"? And why did the Supreme Court justices, sitting as PET, dismiss the quest for truth behind Fernando Poe Jr.'s formal election protest after he died? Why did they not allow his widow to substitute for him, not as candidate but as petitioner, a seeker after the truth? Why were they content to deal with the divisive issue of a presidential election protest by invoking a technicality?

The answer may lie in the fact that people don't mind permitting lies when they have beneficial consequences. "Suppose we want truth," Nietzsche writes, "why not rather untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance?" Ms Arroyo's victory in 2004 may be a lie, but to those who believed that an FPJ presidency would have been disastrous, it could only be a beneficial lie. Therefore, nothing is to be gained from inquiring into the truth of electoral fraud.

Today, however, the tables are turned. The revealing conversations in the "Hello, Garci" tapes are swaying a growing number of people into believing that the winner in the last presidential election was the late Fernando Poe Jr. This is a harmful truth. Not only does it expose the spurious nature of our elections and the illusory character of our democracy; it also cancels the last basis of legitimacy of the Arroyo presidency. In her now famous June 27 apology, Ms Arroyo sought to belie the impression that she cheated in the last elections. There is no question, she said, that she won the presidency fair and square. To confirm this, a Truth Commission will be formed to show the "real" score once and for all.

From the way it is shaping up, this is going to be, literally, a commissioned work, not the autonomous open-ended truth-seeking process that the bishops hope it would be. Its goal is specifically to gather solid proof of Ms Arroyo's victory, rather than to understand what happened in the 2004 elections. Appointed by Ms Arroyo herself, funded and cloaked with the powers of the office she occupies, the commission will be little more than a fact-finding body designed to help solve Ms Arroyo's political problems. Its goal will not be the search for truth at any cost, but the search for information that will confirm and legitimize the Arroyo presidency.

Ms Arroyo's interest in the truth has nothing to do with ascertaining how billions in public funds were used to promote her electoral campaign, or how the facilities and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were deployed in support of her election, or how key officials in the Commission on Elections betrayed the mandate of their positions by manipulating the elections to favor Ms Arroyo.

In contrast, a Truth Commission created independently is bound to raise questions beyond the scope of the 2004 elections. It may ask why running for public office in our country has become more expensive over the years, what role drug and gambling syndicates play in elections, and how campaign funds are sourced, accumulated and spent. It may look into the way political favors incurred during elections are repaid with cushy appointments and promotions, with juicy contracts and tax breaks.

Such a comprehensive inquiry into the workings of our political system may yield truths about the intimate connection between patronage politics and mass poverty, between corruption and underdevelopment. It may reveal to us that the crisis of Ms Arroyo's presidency is only a symptom of the larger crisis of an obsolescent political system that refuses to die.

Truths like these are not so much discovered as they are made by people who regain the use of their language in order to ask questions that confront the lies on which the whole social order stands. Why are so many of our children dying from malnutrition? Why do so many of them fail to finish basic education? Why are there a growing number of families living in the streets of our cities? Why has our economy become so dependent on the earnings of our exported workers? Why are our government corporations losing so much money every year? Why is debt service the biggest item in the government's annual budget? Why do we import so many of our basic necessities? If the economy is growing, why are so many of our people jobless? If ours is a rich country, why are so many of our people poor and hungry?

We may need a truth commission when Ms Arroyo is finally gone. In South Africa, President Nelson Mandela established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a first step toward healing the wounds left behind by the apartheid era. It took seven years to complete this cathartic exercise. The kind of truth that Ms Arroyo is commissioning will neither heal nor reconcile the nation. It will only prolong the conflict.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Will There Be An Impeachment Trial?

Posted by Sheila Coronel
PCIJ

THE battlefield is the House of Representatives. The opposition as of tonight still does not have the requisite 78 or 79 (what is one-third of 236?) members needed to fast-track the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Senate. "But we're quite close," says San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who will be the lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial.

Zamora wouldn't say just how close, but some opposition congressmen have told reporters they already have 62 as of tonight. Others say they are sure of at least 67.  That's still a dozen short, but they're not giving up. Frantic meetings are taking place this weekend as the opposition is keen to get the one-third members needed so that the impeachment complaint will not have to go through the justice committee and will instead be tried directly by the Senate. "I might get lucky this weekend," says Zamora, who says the impeachment complaint will be filed at the House first thing Monday morning, no matter how many signatories it will have by then.

So far, those who are expected to sign the impeachment complaint are 28 members of the minority, which includes four party-list representatives. At least 17 of 31 members of the Liberal Party have also committed to sign. In addition, there are 20 members of the so-called "conscience bloc" (made up of renegade Lakas-NUCD, Nacionalista Party, and independent congressmen) and nine other party-list representatives likely to go for impeachment. But even if all these sign the complaint, they add up to only 74, still five votes shy of the one-third.

Administration congressmen led by House Speaker Jose de Venecia hope they will get lucky this weekend as well. House members say the Speaker and his wife Gina have been making frantic phone calls and visits, and making even more frantic promises. Congressmen have reportedly also been getting offers of projects from cash-rich government entities like PAGCOR (Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp.) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

In a press conference today, party-list Rep. Eulogio "Amang" Magsaysay Jr., of the Alliance of Concerned Educators said two congressmen and three other persons called him the past week. The offer: P500,000 not to sign the impeachment complaint and an assurance of P5-million worth of projects.

Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, House deputy minority leader, also accused the administration of offering all sorts of inducements, including appointments of congressmen's protégés to plum government posts.

Pro-Arroyo representatives, meanwhile, say that the opposition is offering payoffs as well. Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay says his opponents have a war chest courtesy of ousted President Joseph Estrada.

Both sides have denied the offer of sweeteners. But all this talk hardly does any good to the tarnished image of the House of Representatives. The House's reputation and past record are far from stellar, and reports on the wheeling-dealing going on even before the impeachment process has begun only further dent its credibility.

The popular perception is already that in a House made up of many loud and voluble members, it is money that talks the loudest. The controversies that raged in the past over congressional voting on controversial bills have involved bribes being paid so congressmen will vote a certain way. The impeachment will certainly not be spared from this kind of scandal.

All these is not exactly good news for the legislature. The impeachment will be a test of the viability and legitimacy of Congress as an institution. After the debacle of 2001, when people massed up in the streets to protest a compromised impeachment trail, Congress has one more chance to demonstrate that it is capable of exercising its constitutionally mandated task of holding the executive to account.

Can Congress hold a credible impeachment? Or will it be seen as hostage to political, partisan and pecuniary interests?

We'll just have to see. For now, the battle is for signatures. The impeachment complaint, says Zamora, will have close to 15 specific charges, ranging from election fraud to obstruction of justice to graft and corruption. "We will have to prove (the president's) personal culpability," he says. "You'll be surprised at the kinds of witnesses we have lined up and the testimonies they will give."

"It's really their choice," he says. "The Palace will have to decide whether they want the President  to go through this once (in the Senate) or twice (in the  House and the Senate)."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Impeachment 101

Posted by Vinia Datinguinoo 
PCIJ

THE amended impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to be filed when Congress resumes on Monday. Opposition leaders in the House of Representatives have said that the charges will revolve around "the crimes of cheating, lying and stealing." While the main charge against the president is that she rigged last year's election, the impeachment complaint will include at least ten other offenses that Arroyo allegedly committed since becoming president in 2001.  

What happens once the complaint is filed in the House of Representatives? 

The House secretary general will refer the complaint to the Speaker, who will then include it in the Order of Business for it to be taken up by the committee on justice. The president's allies have the majority in the 56-member justice committee and could vote to stop the motion altogether.

But the opposition could shortcut the process by opting to file the Articles of Impeachment directly to
the House, but they must have a third of the members (79 of 236) endorsing the complaint for it to be
referred directly to the Senate for trial. The 23 senators will act as jurors and the chief justice will
preside over the court. Two-thirds of the Senate is needed to impeach the president.

If the opposition does not have the numbers, however, the justice committee can throw out the complaint
and no further impeachment complaint can be heard by the House for one year.

Read more about the basic impeachment procedure set out by the Constitution. Once an impeachment process begins, Congress must adopt specific rules. In 2000 the 11th Congress set out its rules for the impeachment motion against former president Estrada; they were later archived when the term adjourned. The current Congress has yet to formalize its own impeachment rules.

For those who wish to learn more about impeachment, visit these Senate pages:

Impeachable officers
Grounds for impeachment 
The impeachment of President Joseph Estrada

If the opposition in the House doesn't get the one-third needed to shortcut the process, the public focus in the coming weeks will likely be on the House committee on justice, the first stop of the impeachment complaint. The committee is given 60 days to decide on the merit of the case both in form and substance, afterwhich the House in plenary will have ten days to vote on it.   

Of the committee's 56 regular members, 24 belong to the ruling coalition Lakas, including committee chairman Simeon Datumanong, a veteran politico who is a staunch Arroyo ally and  until recently public works secretary. In addition, there are four KAMPI members in the committee—KAMPI is also allied with the president and some of its members are closely associated with the First Gentleman. Together the Lakas and Kampi representatives make up half of the justice committee, although they are likely to also get the support of other committee members belonging to other parties.

The others in the justice committee include nine members of the Nationalist People's Coalition associated with former presidential candidate and beer magnate Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco Jr. Some of the NPC representatives are allied with the administration and the party may not vote as a bloc on the impeachment issue. In addition, there are three congressmen from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino or LDP; one from the Cavite-based Partido Magdalo (Crispin Remulla, who is a vice chair); and one member of Raul Roco's Aksyon Demokratiko.

There are seven LP members in the committee. The party however is split, with one faction voting on July 8 to call for the president's resignation. There are at least two LP members of the justice committee who are likely to defend the president: Matias Defensor Jr., father of DENR Sec. Mike Defensor, and Rolando Andaya Jr., head of the powerful appropriations committee. Many of the other LP members, however, will likely go for impeachment.

Also likely to vote for the impeachment complaint are three party-list representatives in the justice committee. Teodoro Casiño and Liza Maza are aligned with the radical left and their organizations formally announced on Wednesday that they were cutting ties with the administration bloc in Congress. Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan has also called for the president's resignation. There are two other  party-list representatives in the committee. Christian Señeres of Buhay, associated with El Shaddai's Mike Velarde, is likely to vote against impeachment, but APEC's Edgar Valdez can go either way.

The following is a rundown of the regular members of the House committee on justice. (Links to their biodata, posted in the PCIJ's i-site.ph are provided below.)

Chairman
1. Datumanong, Simeon - Lakas-CMD, 2nd district Maguindanao

Members
2. Baterina, Salacnib (vice-chair) - Lakas, 1st district Ilocos Sur
3. Libanan, Marcelino (vice-chair) - Lakas, Lone district Eastern Samar
4. Real, Isidoro Jr. - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Zamboanga del Sur
5. Cuenco, Antonio - Lakas-PROMDI-BOPK, 2nd district Cebu City
6. Javier, Exequiel -  Lakas-CMD, Lone district Antique
7. Martinez, Clavel - Lakas-CMD, 4th district Cebu
8. Ablan, Roque Jr. - Lakas-CMD-KBL, 1st district Ilocos Norte
9. Gonzalez, Raul Jr. - Lakas-CMD, Lone district Iloilo City
10. Umali, Oyie - Lakas-CMD, 3rd district Nueva Ecija
11. Jaraula, Constantino - Lakas, Lone district Cagayan de Oro City
12. Chatto, Edgar - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Bohol
13. Lopez, Jaime - Lakas-CMD, 2nd district Manila
14. Amin, Hussin - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Sulu
15. Floirendo, Antonio Jr. - Lakas-NUCD, 2nd district Davao del Norte
16. Vicencio, Romualdo - Lakas-CMD, 2nd district Northern Samar
17. Jala, Eladio - Lakas, 3rd district Bohol
18. Puentevella, Monico - Lakas, Lone district Bacolod City
19. Dumarpa, Faysah - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Lanao del Sur
20. Banaag, Leovigildo - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Agusan del Norte
21. Pichay , Prospero Jr. - Lakas-CMD, 1st district Surigao del Sur
22. Abalos, Benjamin Jr. - Lakas-CMD, Lone district Mandaluyong
23. Codilla, Eufrocino Sr. - Lakas-CMD, 4th district Leyte
24. Cabilao, Belma - Lakas-CMD, Lone district Zamboanga Sibugay
25. Sumulong, Victor (vice-chair) - KAMPI, 2nd district Antipolo City
26. Malanyaon , Corazon - KAMPI, 1st district Davao Oriental
27. Baculio, Augusto - KAMPI, 2nd district Misamis Oriental
28. Dumpit, Tomas - KAMPI, 2nd district La Union
29. Bueser, Danton (vice-chair) - LP, 3rd district Laguna
30. Castro, Fred - LP, 2nd district Capiz
31. Uy, Reynaldo S. - LP, 1st district Western Samar
32. Defensor, Matias Jr. - LP, 3rd district Quezon City
33. Andaya, Rolando Jr. - LP, 1st district Camarines Sur
34. Roman, Antonino - LP, 1st district Bataan
35. Wacnang, Laurence - LP, Lone district Kalinga
36. Remulla , Jesus Crispin (vice-chair) - Partido Magdalo, 3rd district Cavite
37. Cagas , Douglas - NPC, 1st district Davao del Sur
38. Cerilles, Antonio - NPC, 2nd district Zamboanga del Sur
39. Macarambon, Benasing Jr. - NPC, 2nd district Lanao del Sur
40. Badelles, Alipio - NPC, 1st district Lanao del Norte
41. Ortega, Manuel - NPC, 1st district La Union
42. Lopez, Ruy Elias - NPC, 3rd district Davao City
43. Durano , Joseph Ace - NPC, 5th district Cebu
44. Santiago, Joseph - NPC, Lone district Catanduanes
45. Fuentebella, Arnulfo (vice-chair) - NPC, 3rd district Camarines Sur
46. Locsin, Teodoro Jr. - PDP-Laban, 1st district Makati City
47. Chipeco, Justin - NP, 2nd district Laguna
48. Lagman , Edcel - Aksyon Demokratiko, 1st district Albay
49. Guingona, Teofisto III - LDP, 2nd district Bukidnon
50. Angara, Juan Edgardo - LDP, Lone district Aurora
51. Agbayani, Rodolfo - LDP-KNP, Lone district Nueva Vizcaya
52. Casiño, Teodoro - Party-list, Bayan Muna
53. Maza, Liza - Party-list, Gabriela
54. Rosales , Loreta Ann - Party-list, Akbayan
55. Señeres, Christian - Party-list, Buhay
56. Valdez, Edgar - Party-list, APEC

Thursday, July 21, 2005

De Quiros Column

There's The Rub : How long can she last?

Conrado de Quiros dequiros@info.com.ph
Inquirer News Service

THE WAY President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's people have been advertising it, the longer this crisis lasts, the better it will be for her. The better she will be able to ride the crest, the better she will be able to consolidate her forces, the better she will be able to recover the trust she has lost. The longer this lasts, they say, the more the forces arrayed against her will dissipate and the more the forces rising to her defense will grow. It's just a question of time.

Well, yes, it is a question of time. But time is not on Ms Arroyo's side. What we are looking at today is the twilight years of the Ferdinand Marcos regime in a much-abbreviated form. Marcos lasted several years in these circumstances even while being ravaged by lupus on the side. But he was Marcos, this is Gloria. While they may share the same scale of ambition and ruthlessness, they differ in one fundamental respect, which is that Marcos had the (overstaying) generals in his pocket. Ms Arroyo does not, and that's what's going to make her twilight years twilight weeks. But like Marcos during his twilight years, Ms Arroyo faces the same insoluble problem, which is: How do you continue ruling a country that doesn't like you?

Ms Arroyo's tack has been to talk about the economy to divert talk from politics. That was the same thing Marcos did, but Marcos had more credibility. Marcos at least could point to the 1970s when the economy was fairly stable. Ms Arroyo cannot point to any time in her term when the economy did well. Despite borrowing more than Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada combined, which have condemned us and our children and their children to a life of indebtedness, all she has to show for it is an economy about to tumble like Argentina.

Marcos did launch a massive livelihood program during his twilight years called KKK, named after Bonifacio's revolutionary group. It did recall its illustrious precedent in an ironic sense. A joke went around that three people borrowed money from the KKK to put up small businesses. The first one went into piggery and became bankrupt; a pestilence swept over his brood and he lost everything. The second went into planting coconut and he too became bankrupt, and what little he had left after paying for farm inputs Danding Cojuangco stole with his coconut levy. The third however became a millionaire, and he didn't have to spend much. He had a bust of Marcos made in his backyard and he charged different fees for different things: P10 for slapping the bust, P20 for pounding it with a fist, and P50 for pissing on it. He never lacked for a queue in front of his house.

Ms Arroyo launches a livelihood program, she will create many millionaires.

Like Marcos, Ms Arroyo's problem isn't just that she can't be trusted, it's that she can't be believed. Marcos lied about everything, from his medals to his lupus, Ms Arroyo has lied about everything from her plan to run for president to her plot to cheat for president. Marcos lied about everything from the state of his kidneys to the state of his nation, Ms Arroyo has lied about everything from the state of her soul to the state of her nation.

Marcos himself tried a makeover, making his "smiling martial law" smile some more by presumably lifting it in 1981. No one believed him. And in any case, nothing changed, except the, well, not inconsiderable lifting of curfew (which, if I recall right, was at 1 a.m. then, a concept today's kids have trouble grasping), which was a direct boon to San Miguel-it allowed us to drink more beer up to the wee hours of morning.

Ms Arroyo has tried to put on a smiling face in lieu of a dour one. No one believes her, and nothing has changed, except, well, the not inconsiderable entertainment of watching the local version of Michael Jackson transform into a mask. Her problem isn't just that she isn't a good actress with a horrible script: Look at how she did with her apology and with that follow-up of sending her husband into exile, which got plastered with rotten tomatoes by the public. It's also that there is a really good actress around, who is Susan Roces. The contrast is, well, dramatic.

But what's really making the clock tick, and tick faster each day, for Ms Arroyo is that like Marcos she is sitting on a seat that doesn't belong to her. What makes today a throwback to the twilight days of Marcos and not of Estrada's is the issue of legitimacy. It won't go away. Estrada at least could claim to have been voted into office, and by the biggest margin of all. Marcos couldn't (after martial law) and neither can Ms Arroyo. Marcos ruled by decree, Ms Arroyo rules by deceit. Marcos ruled by force, Ms Arroyo rules by farce.

By 1985, you knew Marcos' time was up. It was just a question of when the weight of his internal baggage would collapse in on him or when the horde massed at the gates would break them, or both. By now, 2005, you know Ms Arroyo's time is up. It's just a question of when the remaining Cabinet members and local officials will see the writing on the wall and heed it or when her opponents will start employing civil disobedience to force her out, or both.

Marcos did contemplate one last-ditch effort, which was to round up his enemies, just as he did at the beginning of martial law. And failing that he sent tanks to raze down the military mutineers. But he balked at the last minute when faced with a resolute populace and an angry world. Ms Arroyo's people at least have been making noises in that respect, Raul Gonzalez chief among them. I do hope he holds on to his position, he is the most effective secretary right now-for the other side. Will she balk as well when faced with a resolute populace and an angry world? Or will she go past even Marcos there?

Paul Laxalt did have one very good advice for Marcos at that point: Cut, and cut cleanly.

I've never thought that was an advice, I've always thought that was a threat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Media Corruption

Excerpted from "News for Sale: The Corruption &

Commercialization of the Philippine Media" with the author's permission

By CHAY FLORENTINO-HOFILEÑA Director of the Journalism Graduate Program of Ateneo de Manila University

Payoffs to journalists have become so much a part of the journalistic culture that they have engendered a language all their own. These are some of the terms used in the journalistic community to refer to various forms of corruption the media.

AC-DC

For attack-collect-defend-collect. A kind of journalism where the reporter attacks a person in order to collect money from that person's rival or enemy. The same journalist then defends the person originally attacked, also for a fee.

ATM journalism

Refers to reporters who receive discreet and regular pay-offs through their automated teller machine (ATM) accounts. News sources simply deposit cash into these accounts instead of issuing checks or handing the money over to the journalists in envelopes. Often, the accounts are in the names of relatives, rather than of the reporters themselves. ATM journalism became popular in the 1990s, taking over from the more simple "envelopmental journalism" that took place in the 1970s and '80s.

Ayos

As in "fix," the act of bribing reporters either with money or other gifts like late-night entertainment.
 
Bicycle Gang

Refers to the contacts of politicians in television news desks who ensure that video

footage of candidates barnstorming in the provinces is circulated to the different TV networks by a messenger riding a bike.

Blood Money
 
A pay-off to ensure that a story or critical article is killed or else slanted in the briber's favor before publication. This is different from "smiling money".

Bukol

From the Tagalog word that means a bump, usually on the head. A reporter gets a "bukol" or is considered "nabukulan" if he or she fails to get a share of the largesse being distributed by politicians and other news sources whom they cover.

Didal

Refers to the practice of media handlers pocketing for themselves a part of the money intended for distribution to reporters. For example, if a party's media bureau sets aside a P2,000 allowance for each of the reporters covering an event, the media staff would distribute only P1,000 to P1,500 and keep the rest. The reporters in this case consider themselves "nadidal."

Envelopmental journalism
 
A take on "developmental journalism," which became popular in the 1970s.

Journalism is deemed "envelopmental" if it involves an envelope of cash paid to journalists to sway their reporting.

Hao siao

A derogatory term used to refer to pseudo-journalists, those not employed by a

reputable news organization but pass themselves off as journalists in order to cash in on payoffs and bribes made by news sources, particularly during elections.

Inteligensia

Cash given as bribe or protection money to the police, a part of which goes to journalists covering the police department. Some reporters have begun using the term to refer to the regular payments that they get from law enforcers.

Main Event

Refers to the act of distributing cash to journalists. A press conference or news coverage is not deemed over until the cash is dispensed -- this is considered the "main event."

Orbit

Like planets revolving around the sun, reporters also make the rounds of offices, particularly the police stations, to get their weekly payola. The term may also refer to any effort to visit offices for the purpose of soliciting money from news sources.

Placement

The position or department within the media bureau of a government agency or company that is in charge of ensuring that press releases are sent to news offices and published or aired when they should be. While there aer PR professionals who do the job, some journalists are hired to ensure "placement' as well. Some journalists also moonlight as writers for candidates, ensuring placement by making appeals to their friends in newspapers and broadcast agencies.

Point Man

A reporter or editor working in a news organization but who is also paid by a candidate or political party to ensure that press releases are published or aired and also to warn the candidate of negative stories emanating from rival camps.

Shepherds
 
Journalists who are either jobless or on leave from their news organizations and act as guides to reporters covering a a particular candidate or party. Shepherds take care of the reporters' needs including accommodations, food, plane fare and other transportation expenses, as well as "extras" like nights out.

Smiling Money

Cash that is given to reporters or editors for no particular reason except to create goodwill between a source and the journalists. It can also be used to refer to a payoff given after the publication of a positive story, supposedly as a gesture of the source's appreciation.

Sulig

A thousand pesos

Tigbas

Cebuano word for "cut", used to refer to a hatchet job

Warik-warik

A Cebuano term used to describe unscrupulous people; to journalists in the provinces, these are the counterpart of Manila's hao siao.

(Compiled by Manny Mogato and Vinia M. Datinguinoo)

hotmanila.ph

Gloria's Letter to CBCP

His Excellency Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, D.D.
President, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

Dear Archbishop Capalla,

With a deep sense of appreciation of their profound concern for the
country and our people, I read the Bishops' RESTORING TRUST: A PLEA
FOR MORAL VALUES IN PHILIPPINE POLITICS. I read it both as President
and as a simple individual, one of the flock whom the Lord has called
upon the Bishops to shepherd and provide moral and religious guidance
to.

As a part of our political system, I am greatly saddened to realize
that our people now so mistrust that same political system. As
President, I am greatly humbled to realize that I now owe the Filipino
people a huge debt of service, a debt that to the best of the
abilities that God has given me, I must now try to repay.

In all humility, I took to heart the admonition that I should not
simply dismiss calls for my resignation from office, and that through
prayer, we can arrive at decisions for the common good that are based
on moral precepts.

On the matter of moral accountability and the need to restore trust, I
have initiated the creation of a commission or similar body to look
into the truth behind issues recently raised against me. While
accepting the principle of accountability, it may be noted that such
issues were raised at a time and in a manner that seems to give
credence to the observation that various groups may be manipulating
situations for their own agenda, perhaps with the aim of grabbing
power. I am hopeful that the process of searching for the truth will
shed light on these disturbing matters as well.

On the matter of effective governance, I took to heart the admonition
to discern deeply as to whether the erosion of trust is so severe as
to be irreversible. I believe that subsequent events and revelations
may have given a more balanced view to this question, and that my
decision to stay in my office is the correct one.

If we allow our country's President to be pressured to resign under
these circumstances, when the issues raised might have speculative or
controvertible basis, then we expose our already weakened political
system—a system that needs fundamental reform—to the possibility of
never ending political crises of a similar nature in the future.

With my decision comes the responsibility to sincerely strive to be,
like the men and women that the Bishops have committed to form, a
leaven of social transformation for our country. I pray that God will
give me the strength and wisdom to do so.

Having made my decision, I have tried to make my peace with God as
well. I trust in His infinite mercy and capacity to forgive all of us
who are sinners. I am hopeful that others, being human and so perhaps
less compassionate than the Lord, may still find their way to setting
aside a space in their hearts for me.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Bishops for their
guidance these trying times. I wish to let them know that trusting
completely in the Lord, I have surrendered myself to His will.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Gloria Impeachment Dead?

Less than 50 will back Arroyo impeach rap--pro-gov't solons

Maila Ager
INQ7.net

CONTRARY to the opposition's claim, pro-administration congressmen said only less than 50 members of the House of Representatives might endorse an impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"We expect less than 50 solons to endorse the complaint, way below the 79 required," Antique Representative Exequiel Javier and Baguio City Representative Mauricio Domogan, Lakas heads for Western Visayas and the Cordillera Autonomous Region respectively, said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The opposition said that they had 75 to 80 congressmen to support the impeachment move against the President.

Javier said the opposition's projection was only meant to encourage members of the majority bloc to support the move since the anti-Arroyo rallies had fizzled out.

"You know, public pressure is a strong force that influences congressmen to support an impeachment move. But it has already fizzled out," he said in a telephone interview.

Domogan said the opposition should guard its ranks against defections because of their alleged growing disenchantment over the partisan way the impeachment case was being handled by their leaders.

"Instead of courting more support, the minority is losing more supporters from its own ranks because the impeachment particulars are nothing but a catalogue of their criticisms against the President," he said.

Javier added that it would be more impossible to get the one-third vote-requirement if the opposition failed to support the case against the President.

Meanwhile, Alagad Representative Rodante Marcoleta, who endorsed lawyer Oliver Lozano's impeachment complaint, objected to the opposition's plan to amend the case without consulting him.

"It should be the endorser who should amend the complaint. Or at least, the endorser should be consulted when there are amendments to the complaint," Marcoleta said.

He lamented that the opposition did not even make an effort to ask him to participate in the preparations.

But House Minority Floor Leader Francis Escudero said Marcoleta did not have a monopoly or franchise over Lozano's complaint because a member of the opposition bloc had also endorsed it.

Iloilo Representative Rolex Suplico confirmed that he filed a separate endorsement of Lozano's impeachment complaint last Thursday.

Pulse Asia: Glo Out

Arroyo ouster 'best scenario,' most Manilans say in poll

Joel Francis Guinto
INQ7.net

ALMOST half of Metro Manila residents believe that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's resignation or impeachment is the "best scenario" that will resolve the political crisis in the country, according to an independent survey released Tuesday.

The Pulse Asia Inc. survey from July 2-8 shows that of the 300 respondents in Metro Manila, only 16 percent think that it will be best for the country if Arroyo will finish her term until 2010, compared to 41 percent who want her to resign or be impeached to give way to snap elections.

This is in contrast to a Pulse Asia nationwide survey in June when only 28 percent of the respondents said Arroyo should either resign or be impeached to allow Vice President Noli de Castro to take over while 22 percent wanted the President to finish her term.

The July study also showed that only 15 percent of Metro Manila residents believed De Castro's assumption to power is best for the country while another 10 percent said Arroyo should be replaced with a "junta" or caretaker government before a new election would be held.

Meanwhile, 10 percent said Arroyo should be removed either by constitutional or extra-constitutional means.

Only six percent favor a shorter term for Arroyo and Charter change, which seeks a shift to a parliamentary form of government from the present presidential system, the same July survey in Metro Manila said.

When asked about the "most destructive" way out of the political standoff, 24 percent of the Metro Manila respondents said the intervention of a foreign government; 18 percent, a coup d'etat; 17 percent, Arroyo's stay in power until her term ends; 14 percent, after Arroyo's resignation or impeachment; 14 percent, a police and military takeover; and 11 percent, De Castro's assumption to the presidency.

Senator Panfilo Lacson is the "best person to lead the country now," according to 36 percent of Metro Manila residents in the July 2-8 survey.

De Castro is in second with 15 percent. Former president Joseph Estrada is third, with 8 percent; followed by actress Susan Roces and Arroyo, with 7 percent each; Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide and former president Fidel Ramos with 4 percent each; evangelist Brother Eddie Villanueva, with 3 percent; and Senator Rodolfo Biazon, 2 percent.

Meanwhile, 25 percent of the respondents ranked Arroyo first among those who were "not acceptable to lead the nation."

Behind Arroyo among the leaders whom the Metro Manila respondents do not find acceptable are former defense secretary Fortunato Abat, with 17 percent; De Castro, 12 percent; Davide, 11 percent; Estrada, 9 percent; Roces, 6 percent; Lacson, 5 percent; Biazon, 4 percent; Villanueva and Ramos, 2 percent each, the survey said.

Pulse Asia's July survey was conducted after Arroyo's public apology for her "lapse in judgement" when she called an elections officer during the 2004 canvassing. It had a margin of error of +/-6 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.

In the Pulse Asia nationwide survey in June, De Castro topped the list of best alternatives to Arroyo, with 30 percent; followed by Estrada, 19 percent; and Lacson, 19 percent.

Arroyo also topped the list of unacceptable leaders in the nationwide June survey with 42 percent; followed by Ramos, 39 percent; and Villanueva, 31 percent.

But despite the worsening political crisis, Metro Manila residents remained in high spirits, according to the July survey.

Only 17 percent said they agreed with the statement "The country is hopeless," compared with 22 percent in March.

Those who said martial law was "necessary" to solve the political crisis slipped to 18 percent in July from 21 percent in March.

A similar Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released last week showed that 62 percent of Metro Manila residents believed Arroyo should resign or be impeached.