Category: cha-cha

leni, mocha, joan of arc

it’s laughable the way leni is likened to cory when, really, the only thing they have in common is widowhood.  although it may be said that both ladies were catapulted to public consciousness through their spouses’ unexpected deaths, their personal circumstances and the political situations prevailing in 1985-86 and today are vastly different.  DILG sec jessie robredo was not even in the same league as senator ninoy aquino: he was a newbie on the national stage while ninoy was the leading oppositionist to president marcos before and through most of martial law until his assassination in 1983, and that certainly had a lot to do with cory’s popularity and stature.

but obviously the point is to remind us only that cory, a plain housewife, managed to oust an entrenched dictator, and that there is hope in leni, a lawyer and one-term legislator, doing cory better and ousting a president of five months who is detested by many for ruling like a dictator (EJKs, marcos-love, and all) though without the formality of martial law.

Leni is now the symbol and moving spirit of the political opposition: A JOAN OF ARC IN THE RAGING BATTLEFIELD OF PHILIPPINE POLITICS. [caps not mine]

sabi ‘yan ni belinda olivares-cunanan in her blog political tidbits soon after the veep’s resignation from the duterte cabinet.  back in september 1986, georgie anne geyer of gettysburg times first said it of cory when the new prez was in the U.S. to address Congress, and many of us thought it was silly, and yet philippine media picked it up, so flattered were they for cory, no matter how hilarious and inapt the comparison.

She … seems, in an almost mystical sense, to be the realization of the female leader (like Joan of Arc without the final tragedy) that feminists have looked for.

when cory died in 2009, it was recalled by the foreign press  though with some discernment.

When a bewildered Marcos and his wife Imelda fled the nation, it set a stirring precedent for dissidents everywhere, from South Africa to South America to Pakistan. Aquino was hailed as a modern-day Joan of Arc.

…Aquino’s presidency was less successful than the revolution, with a series of coup attempts by the military keeping the administration hamstrung. She was lauded for her courage, but rarely seemed able to get on top of ruling the country.  

seven years later, in march 2016, it was revived, tagged on to vp leni by philstar columnist tony katigbak (A Joan of Arc in the Phl) for daring, during the campaign, to speak against the marcos burial in libingan ng mga bayani.  and then in july by jojo robles, though wth some disdain (Imelda, not Cory), just before the prez finally gave her a cabinet position.

Leni, who was being cast by the Yellows as the new Cory leading the opposition like Joan of Arc against the Dictator from Davao, felt that the better offensive was an Imeldific charm offensive.

but now that the honeymoon is over, and vp leni is back with the opposition and again being hailed as a joan of arc, alam ba ng yellows na may  kaagaw siya sa koronang ito?   three days earlier than cunanan, on the very weekend that vp leni made sumbong to nation that she had been asked to desist from attending cabinet meetings, mocha uson posted a cover photo of herself clad in armor with sword in hand and the title JOAN OF ARC of the DDS (duterte’s diehard supporters), no less.  laban kayo?

puwede na ring ipalamang kay mocha, please.  mas bagay rin sa drama niya at sa drama ng presidente, whether she hears or not the voice of god, like the original joan, and oh, like her tatay digong, or so he likes to joke.

but seriously.  leni’s resignation from the cabinet has of course renewed rumors of a digong ouster plot in this run-up to the jan 20 and feb 2017 edsa anniversaries.  and it’s hard to simply take leni’s word for it, or the LP’s, that there is no such conspiracy in the works, not with LP moneybags loida nicolas lewis putting her foot in her mouth with that call for the president to resign so leni can take over before bongbong manages to take over the vice-presidency.

was that a signal of sorts to start some balls rolling behind the scenes here and in america?  who knows, we might see a mixed bag of tricks from the EDSA uno and edsa dos playbooks.  duterte won the election fair and square so I don’t see a popular and prayerful clamor for his resignation, but the state of his health is a matter of concern — what if he suddenly keels over, cross our fingers please — or what if he messes up big time — like erap did — and the super majority in congress suddenly finds itself a minority, and a manny villar rises to railroad his impeachment?  fat chance?  just the same, it’s important that the vp question be settled quickly, credibly, and with finality by the supreme court.

i share most of the scattered oppositions’ major major concerns, especially over the drug war (bakit walang nadadali na drug lords?  bakit pinatay si espinosa?  sinong nagpapatay?) and charter change (federalism freaks me out, and wow he’s agreeable to reversing the 60-40 ownership requirement re public utilities) BUT BUT BUT may he live to finish his term, just because he draws the line: NO to foreign ownership of land.

“But you know, there is something which [I will oppose]—it’s a fundamental irreconcilable difference with me and some of the congressmen because even the Speaker before, who was my political enemy, already agreed to sell lands—selling lands to foreigners. I am sorry, but I am not ready for that kind because most of the Filipinos are poor. And with the growing economy of the supergiant, China and the rest, they can always come here and buy the land and they can buy the whole of Tondo and relocate there and we’ll have nothing and everything sold,” he pointed out.

that’s music to my ears, and i am won over again.  anything happens to him, paninindigan ba ‘yan at ipaglalaban rin ng kung sino man ang papalit kay digong?   yes, we would need a joan (or john) of arc of sorts, as much to fight foreign powers who would buy us out as to fight pinoy politicos and oligarchs who would sell us out.

communication gaps galore: chacha, foreign ownership, federalism

on the occasion of president duterte’s first 100 days, ANC covered an event where finance secretary sonny dominguez talked about tax reforms.  i was only half-listening until suddenly — someone from the press must have asked him about charter change and foreign ownership — suddenly he was admitting that because of the chacha talk, he was being asked by foreigners if they would be allowed to own land na, and he said his response was:

Why? Can you buy land in Singapore? In Indonesia? … Why should you be able to buy land here?  Land is a sensitive issue in the Philippines.

or something to that effect.  not sure now if he said indonesia, could have been malaysia or another ASEAN nation.  i’ve googled the event, for naught.  have also hung around ANC waiting for a replay, also for nought.

i couldn’t have imagined it lang.  my first reaction was jubilant: surely sec dominguez is speaking for the president, hurray!  and then i wondered what it means for the charter change agenda.  puwede bang magshift from presidential to federal without touching the economic provisions?  or or or is it possible that even the federalism thingy has been shelved, and we’re back to forging by hook or by crook a constitutionally acceptable-to-all autonomous state for the moro people of mindanao?

alas, nothing, as usual, from the presidential communications operations office (PCOO) and it took that disgraceful near-brawl in the lower house of congress a whole week later (read Hotheads delay Cha-cha hearing) to tell us that the supermajority is still hellbent on convening as a constitutional assembly (read Time running out, Cha-Cha should start in Nov — Arroyo), never mind that there is no public support for it.

it does not help, of course, that the PCOO has yet to launch any kind of information campaign on the proposed shift to federalism.  as it turns out, sec martin andanar is such an intellectual featherweight pala, and it’s pathetic that all he can manage to put out for public consumption is a twice-a-week inquirer column that luis teodoro rightly disses as “masterpieces of fluff and personal glorification.”  LOL


Federalism, for what by Florin T. Hilbay
Federalism project puts the cart before the horse by Yen Makabenta
Regional net worth in a federal structure by Philip Camara
What’s with ConAss? by Rita Linda V. Jimeno
Curb vested interests, so Con-Ass can work by Jarius Bondoc
Political dynasties doom Cha-cha: Monsod
do not delete (economic provisions)
do not delete 2
do not delete 3

The big letdown

Ernesto P. Maceda, Jr.

We have had two chances in our history to write a Constitution (1934 and 1986) and one to revise it (1971). All three were done through the mode of having a dedicated group, elected or appointed, working solely on the Constitution and nothing else.

The most recent attempts at Charter change (under the Arroyo and Aquino presidencies) thru the con-ass mode failed to harness popular support. This was largely due to the perception that they were self serving efforts: perpetuation in power, no genuine political dynasty resolution. They would originate usually from the House (De Venecia, Nograles-Puentevella, Rodriguez, Belmonte).

The prism of self interest. President Rodrigo Duterte was an avowed proponent of the con-con mode for his prized shift to federalism. He confirmed this before, during and after the campaign. Like the public, he believed the con-ass mode to be self serving. Other No-Chance proposals under a con-ass would be the FOI law, political party reform.

Plus, of course, would you seriously expect Congress to vote to diminish its own power? This surely happens under the federal form where the National Congress castrates itself and shares responsibilities (and funds) with the state legislatures. As for the upper house, I don’t see Senators consenting to possibly playing a lesser role in legislation much like the House of Lords in the UK or, worse, being abolished outright if no separate voting by chamber takes place. The model federalism resolution of Senate President Nene Pimentel actually proposes the election of 75 Senators and 350 Congressmen at the national federal level. Incumbents voting for a proposition that dilutes their power? That’s novel. Its also absurd to expect it would happen.

Revision by con-ass may likely bring out the worst in the Legislature. And this likelihood is doubled with the current supermajority in Congress. I can see it now – suspensions of Rules, calls for closing the period of debate, drowned out points of order, calls for a vote. Might of muscle over might of merit. Personal heroes were routinely created or unmasked by the ANC coverages lasting deep into the night of the House’s many blatant and dishonorable past attempts at con-ass. The tyranny of supermajorities on display.

Unparalleled opportunity. No one trusts the House to decide in favor of con-con. It was such pleasing news then that Speaker Alvarez, in his first press conference, turned out to be pro con-con like his friend, the President. And with the Senate firmly on board, the Filipino people had, for the first time since Charter change was openly debated (began in 1997 nearing the end of FVR’s term), an honest chance at meaningful reform.

Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

This may even have been the best opportunity at crafting the Constitution that we will need for the future. The 1934 draft was intended for a commonwealth government. The 1971 version was not given a bona fide chance. The 1986 output was rushed by a President who did not want to rule by revolutionary fiat. There would be no such pressures for this 2016 or 2017 iteration.

The populist President Duterte who, time and again, in just this first month in office has shown himself to be the emblem of popular sentiment, has made a decidedly unpopular choice in this con-ass change of heart. Virtually every sector of society has come forward favoring con-con over con-ass.

Expensive if Amendment, a bargain if Revision. Our own personal position is that the economy, efficiency and expediency of a con-ass are valid arguments only when the proposal is for mere amendments – whether of one or a group of provisions, e.g. economic. For constitutional amendment, it would be inadvisable to spend the P 7 billion price tag of a Con-Con (the price goes down dramatically to around P1 billion if Con-Con elections are synchronized with the Barangay or 2019 elections).

But a Revision of the Constitution deserves more than just the sideline attention of Congress acting as a constituent assembly. If the proposal would be to adopt a new federal structure or to try out the parliamentary form, this would mean throwing out virtually the entire Constitution and all of our present constitutional history. We would be starting blind.

Not as exhaustive. A con-ass that will be taking this on as an added duty will not be as thorough as a con-con with this as its only duty. We should make sure we get the best debate. We will not be served by Congress, with its supermajority, rubber stamping the President’s telegraphed message.

Public opinion is equally crucial. But trimedia is informal and space and time compromised. Essays and researches are sterile efforts where the author, even if attempting a balanced output, basically just debates with himself.

There is no substitute for well reasoned positions presented in an impassioned debate – without the time limitations and whose only guideline is to come up with a majority after making sure all sides are ventilated. Even those with full belief in Federalism should welcome the open, thoughtful and enthusiastic exchange one gets in a Convention. This will only serve to fine tune and produce not only the best version of a Constitution but one that is strong and solid having survived the crucible of intelligent debate. In this sense, a con-con is priceless.

In the previous conventions, we were well-served by the articulate expressions, stentorian tones and ardent convictions of men like Rodrigo, Recto, Bernas, Concepcion, Munoz-Palma, Manglapus, and more. We have to listen to all arguments even if we disagree for this will create a critical history and a rich record to aid in its better understanding later on.

Not democratic. These imperatives are best served if we send delegates who, having presented to us their intentions and their qualifications (matapos mamanhikan), are entrusted with our own sentiments on what we feel we need to see in the document they will be crafting. Did we elect our Congressmen and Senators to do that for us? No. This, above all, is why the President’s change of heart was surprising. Because it confiscated from our hands the one opportunity we had of a meaningful participation in writing the next chapter of our country’s history.


Federalism is not a solution

Ben R. Punongbayan 

First of two parts

The concept of Federalism has recently been getting special attention in Philippine political circles. Judging by the constant talk about it, it appears our elected officials are determined to push efforts to adopt a form of Federalism through Constitutional amendment as the new basis of the political and economic union of the Filipino people.

As early as 2009, however, when I organized a national political party called Buklod, I have taken the view that Federalism is not a solution to the country’s economic and political problems. As I indicated in the “Objectives and Beliefs” of Buklod, Federalism is, in fact, a step backward.

Read on…