Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tip of the iceberg

As Marcos, GMA is just the tip of the iceberg. It was Carl Cid S.M. Inting terse comment of President Arroyo on the website of Ricky Carandang.

Carl, who admits to being a middle class and owning businesses, frequently posts some pithy but weighty materials on a number of well-regarded Pinoy blogs. And TV news reporter Ricky Carandang, who is also the president of the Board of Trustees of the National Institute for Policy Studies, agrees with him. I then left a reply to both with this question: What is the iceberg? Before giving his take, Carl first attempted to clarify. “Part of the problem,” he wrote, “is that opinions may differ on what the iceberg is.”

If I’m reading Carl correctly, to him the iceberg is basically the system - the political system, that is - although he categorically said it is just “part of the iceberg.” Specifically, Carl is not happy with the presidential form, the election of senators “at large,” the present popularity-centered electoral contest and, finally, dealing with the problem via the parliament of the street. On the other hand, Ricky has not answered my question up to now. I understand both of them.

My question is not fair in a blog context, in the first place. I myself have been seriously thinking about this iceberg - for several years already. And according the red-blooded culprit a violent (rather than a frigid) makeup, I prefer to call it a monstrosity. The rapacity of this brute is the reason why more than a third of about 85 million Filipinos don’t have enough food for three square meals a day. To former President Ramos, it is the “mother of all problems” throughout history – the “unholy alliance” and “perverse symbiosis” between politicians and a few powerful, wealthy and “greedy rent-seeking” families. And that’s just one opinion which I happen to agree on but appears to differ from Carl’s and Ricky’s.

On the other hand, mlq3 reports that former COMELEC chairman Christian Monsod has yet another perspective of the current crisis in the Philippines ranging from certain flaws (understandably one particularly known to him) in the electoral system, to something quite trite such as the suggestion that programs representing “gut” issues to the people are not attended to. This just goes to show, and kudos to Carl, that the crisis is still being viewed from wide-ranging dimensions by different observers.

But what are the stark facts about the country’s problem aside from the dose of opinions and information that are routinely being dished out? Is it possible to have some consensus about the true constitution of this monster?

For a starter, here are fresher figures and accounts from former finance secretary Edgardo Espiritu: that “the country’s top 10 families account for about 52.5 percent of total stock market capitalization” such that, as many already know, “the poorest Filipinos are effectively excluded from the country’s social and economic development.”

It should be remembered that during a press forum in September 2004, President Arroyo openly acknowledged the “many generations of abuse and neglect” but “it is not easy to take on entrenched interests that have strangled government bureaucracy.” She then vowed “(to peel) the layer one by one.” Can the “middle forces” who see the continuing powerlessness of the powerless wait for evolutionary changes to take place?

Severely battle-scarred following the impeachment proceeding (and more pitched battles being expected to be waged), is GMA the best bet today to institute revolutionary reforms through extra-ordinary measures and take on the “entrenched interests”? If she is not, being herself one tip of that monster of an iceberg, who?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Back to basics

Notwithstanding the conventional wisdom that a republic is an indirect democracy where the people govern themselves through their elected representatives, the essence of republicanism is not in fact representation but participation.

And for participation to be meaningful, a certain degree of understanding of the issues that affect the public is imperative. This understanding is obtained either through self-help (e.g., reading up on books, essays, scholarly dissertations and other relevant informative literature) or through the intervention of the professional purveyors of information. These purveyors, outside the formal setting of a classroom, are often the newsperson – he who has to put together information for those participants having no time or probably too slothful to learn for themselves.

The goal of the educative process for effective participation is not uniformity of opinion but consensus, one that is arrived at upon weighing different, if not conflicting, information. Here again, the role of the print and broadcast media as a neutral conduit for the transmission of critical information can never be overemphasized. When the media is utilized as megaphones for special, as against the general, interest, it becomes a menace to democracy. This is so because the true measure of the liberty to participate is not so much to consent as to dissent. The media then, instead of instilling conformity to the obtaining value system, is duty-bound to provide space and time to contending sides.

The right to information on matters of public concerns in conjunction with the right to dissent is at the heart of the liberty to participate. Today, there are relevant events occurring in the Philippines that are putting to the crucible these basic democratic rights and values.

For instance, flowing from the people’s right to information is the authority of Congress or the Senate to sanction someone called to appear before it but who refuses to shed light on decidedly important public matters. The authority, while generally viewed as a necessary adjunct (or aid) to legislation or policymaking, is however rooted in the liberty to enlightened participation on the part of the citizenry, not only while acting through their elected representatives but as active or passive participants in the public assembly that congressional proceedings and debates symbolize. This participatory process makes democracy a continuing experimentation or a going concern.

How can the public be denied to know whether the fundamental Charter that will govern the powers and structures of their government and the basic rights of the individual citizens is reflective of the preferences of the majority or the prevailing consensus and not the result of “treasonous” or immoral horse-trading among conniving politicians and sleazy foreign operators? Anyone who is willing to thwart this process deserves to be cited for contempt, to say the least.

The right to dissent, on the other hand, flows from the liberty to advance what one believes in and to participate in activities in pursuance of those beliefs. It is also a right against disinformation or misinformation. On the other hand, it is dissent that protects the public from the follies and crimes by the powers that be. Those who are afraid to engage in exchanges or debates, or hiding something from the public, are thus predisposed to suppress this right.

Dissent is too fundamental a right in a democracy to be denied in the name of tranquil public thoroughfares or the efficient conduct of a profitable endeavor. Therefore, requirement of any permission from power holders to exercise the right is an outright diminution of it. And even when the requirement of permission is warranted, it cannot be withheld unconstitutionally. Otherwise, with or without permit, the voices of dissent even if loud, uncivil, or disrespectful must carry on.

The current power holders in the Philippines should not lose sight of the fact that the liberties they threaten to curtail today are the same liberties that granted them the self-same powers they are raring to misuse and abuse.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It’s fiction, stupid

Creative nonfiction, Lee Gutkind believes, is the genre of the century. By definition, creative nonfiction is information framed in dramatic stories about important subjects like politics and economics using techniques employed by fictionists. It is also called literary journalism whereby the writer is a reporter, a novelist, a poet and an essayist all rolled into one.

But, what I would like to really blog on is about another hybrid: the uncreative fiction (it is not a genre yet, hehe). Anyway, it is uncreative because it’s just a rearrangement of events. It is a fiction because it is yet to be grounded in real facts, which means that I am still unsure about the causality or of the beginning, the middle or the end. In other words, there are still so many dots to connect the episodic events together.

Now, here’s the structure of my fiction.
As La Gloria’s approval rating trended perilously downwards, Big Uncle became alarmed about the prospect of another People Power of a dimension potentially different from the first two upheavals. People Power III, U.S. analysts calculated, could create seismic shifts in the power relations in the region in a manner that could severely damage U.S. interest.

The analysts were of course well aware that People Power has been denied respite owing to a sequence or confluence of events: the insurrection of the Great Unwashed, the Oakwood mutiny, the cry for the ‘Angel of the Cross,’ the challenge of Ang Panday, the tyranny at the canvass, the E-VAT woes and worries, and the requiem for the Da King, among others.

The Great Beast, its muscle being thus constantly honed and limbered up (at some well-paced intervals although at various intensities), has been battle-fit since the last roar that swept La Gloria into power.

Now, it was just a matter of time, the experts reckoned, La Gloria would suffer the fate of her predecessor.

The inevitability of People Power III being seen as given, Big Uncle began to scout for a lackey as La Gloria’s successor. There was a sense, too, a quickened ouster of La Gloria would catch off guard those power grabbers waiting in the wings as well as honest-to-god people power practitioners and thereby ensure Big Uncle to impose, more or less, his choice. So, the Garci tapes, obtained by a coalition of anti-terror operatives as a matter of routine operations, had to be let out to trigger the revolt.

Big Uncle’s calculation was awfully off. On the one hand, La Gloria was tougher than it was thought, and on the other, People Power practitioners hemmed and hawed.

So, CIA enlisted a tobacco-munching-former-West Pointer of an FVR and an ex-future-president-on-a-last-trip-to-become-a-Prime Minister of a JDV to deliver the ultimatum to La Gloria to cut and cut cleanly via a Charter change. With the call for her resignation still mounting, La Gloria obliged to the “graceful exit” offer.

But the President’s men outclassed the Opposition on the run-up and during the impeachment (not necessarily People Power, however). The impeachment vote was a rout. And Big Uncle in fact saw an Iron Lady in La Gloria of the caliber of Da Apo - that is, a real(able) McCoy after all.

Now, now what to do with FVR and JDV? Leak out the Venable deal (a furtive contract between RP and a lobbying firm for the purpose of obtaining US funding to tweak the Philippine constitution) and decapitate the senescent do-Dou as well as their Cha cha brainchild.
Something more for the sub-plot. Whose hero is Aragoncillo? Clue: Who was the initiator of the plot?

Just look again at the FBI complaint. And read between the lines. Did you notice too the dots (as in . . . and . . . and . . .)?

Well, it’s fiction dude. But which one?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Where is People Power?

Allowing an alter ego (i.e., President Arroyo’s national security adviser) to enter into a contract with a foreign lobbying firm to secure “grants” and “congressional earmarks” (from a foreign government, the United States) for purposes of influencing how the Philippines constitution should be changed, even assuming the contract contains other terms puportedly beneficial to the Philippines, constitutes as much a prima facie case of the impeachable offense of “betrayal of public trust” on the part of the President as her calling by telephone a COMELEC commissioner while the votes are still being counted, even if the purpose of the call is supposedly to safeguard her votes.

As we have learned from the last impeachment proceedings, “betrayal of public trust” is a “catch-all” phrase that in fact covers all the other impeachable offenses enumerated by the Constitution. This new revelation of just another “lapse in judgment” imputable to the President stacks up further the growing list of charges of abuse of presidential prerogatives that falls within the ambit of the constitutional provision intended to safeguard against such abuse. Unfortunately, even the impeachment process as the check and balance mechanism so provided in the Constitution for this purpose has been subjected to palpable abuse. These lapses, in fairly relative terms, are not in the nature of babaero, sugarol or lasengo but strike at the very core of the polity: fair and honest elections, self-determination and sovereignty, and the utility of the constitution to advance democratic values - hence, the saliency of the betrayal of the public for private gains.

Why betrayal of the public? Because a constitution is supposed to be the expression of the considered will of the people, upon earnest debates, negotiations and concessions, to achieve a strong and reliable government that is responsive to the national needs and the collectivity. If the final Charter bears the taint of mutual logrolling among scheming local leaders and elites on the hand and covetous aliens and foreign powers on the other, then the public is betrayed.

Executive power is largely potential. Accordingly, actual powers depend on the ability (or temerity) to leverage formal grant of powers. For instance, Ferdinand Marcos and Diosdado Macapagal ruled under the same constitution, the 1935 Constitution. But it was Marcos who had the presumptousness to stretch his powers beyond what was legally permissible because of his ability to measure the mettle of the people who could have put up a good fight within the constitutional framework - such people as the members of the Supreme Court before whom Marcos’ arrogation of dictatorial powers was challenged. Marcos persuaded the “Supreme Cowards,” the unpalatable label with which Vice-President Salvador “Doy” Laurel would deride the justices concerned, to go along with his sinister plan. The rest is history. However, judging from the conduct of the people’s representatives at the House during the impeachment debacle, it appears any historic lesson taught was heedlessly unlearnt.

Today, there are telltale signs we are seeing a “little” Marcos in Malacaňang even under a constitution that has somehow curtailed the powers of the presidency because of the Marcos experience: thorough marshaling of the apparatus of modern media either to makeover the President’s tarnished public image or befuddle the issues, threats and similar highhanded tactics against journalists and others critical of the regime, unexplained disappearances of critical witnesses, deployment of public funds to sway or sustain political allegiances, and even abuse of the appointing power, to name a few.

Where is people power, a veteran of two great struggles, in the midst of these abuses of presidential prerogatives? Fatigued, lost or simply too cautious?

Once again, mainstream media has overstated the danger of people power lapsing into mobocracy while underestimating the capacity of the so-called “middle forces,” both in the civilian and in the military component of civil society, for commitment to democratic values. Although taunted to act precipitously, apparently it is not taking the bait. It is weighing in potential consequences, which is healthy.

For now, people power is still all the Filipinos have. It might just be wiser to exercise it with greater awareness and awe of its own potency even as President Arroyo self destruct.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Beyond personal reflection

It may not be easy for someone who has a greater-than-passing interest in life politics to reel out casually from the personal reflection published by mlq3 (or Manolo). mlq3 is a Pinoy top blogger, one who’s been consistently ranked between the top 3 to 6 by Pinoy Top Blogs. His (voluntary) outing therefore, given the stature he has achieved - at least in our blogosphere (his famous initials and other journalistic and writing repertoire discounted) - has the effect of de-privatizing the problem of cultural bias against adopted children, former drug addicts and gays, of which he has confessed being all.

Following the revelation, the readers or admirers of Manolo have reacted so positively as to keep and acclaim him soundly as an authoritative “insider” in his chosen profession (political analysis, speech writing and propagating agitprops, among other passions or calling) and, in the process, elevate his minorities group as proper political subjects deserving of co-equal status with the “general population.” What in a nutshell I have heard from the reactions is the following: manhood, or womanhood, (without kindness, self-respect and compassion for others) is no longer a secure and strong self-identity.

Nor that is all. Manolo, having problematized so personal a conflict into something global, has likewise engendered an ethically new awareness in largely catholic Filipino global communities of what’s essentially a private sphere.

This therefore brings to the fore, once again, the conception of blogging (as well as other forms of virtual exchanges) as a potent tool for democracy or for re-shaping political spaces and identities, in the service of people power, that defy the power of the established order.

If it hasn’t been noticed yet, aren’t we actually re-creating communities that transcend national democracies, where political participation could be global but the project goal is in fact local, participated in by neo-citizens who are spatially remote or distant?

Nonetheless, if the blogosphere and heretofore unparadigmatic communities spurred by transnational citizenship are “spontaneous order” driven by globalization, speed and connectivity so are other facts of modern life on the opposite extreme of the spectrum, such as stateless vanguard PR consultancy, borderless soldiers for hire or international lobbyists.

Right now, Filipinos are seeing in real terms the realpolitik of this tug of war between open, transparent and reflexive people-powered initiatives on the one hand and secretive and scheming elite-driven or corporate-powered contrivances on the other.

The dots that are also being connected lead to something like this: while the “middle forces” are going through the very healthy process of “doubting” their post-impeachment strategies, President Arroyo is carrying out a premeditated pre-impeachment plot to bastardize (as in to impregnate with “foreign elements”) a fundamentally national Charter change process. That would be anti-people power and globalization in the negative, won’t it?

Yet again, hasn’t the lack of purposeful, vigilant and holistic thinking chained up gay persons, reformed drug addicts or adopted children to the long-held norm of being cultural or moral negatives, the world over?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

‘See it steadily, and see it whole’

The audacity of Manuel L. Quezon III's reflection and revelation could possibly be best understood if juxtaposed with the parade of intellectual duplicity that we have seen of late [which I had started to blog on before checking mlq3’s blogsite to cut and paste a hyperlink; thereby compelling the change of the title of this blog from “People Power is not a surge” to “Fabrication of consent” to its present title].

For example, we have not heard or seen the colleagues of Manolo (as mlq3 is also fondly called) in the mainstream media falling to the ground laughing (the way many of Manolo’s following might have been bowled over by his public confession - of being an adopted son, a former drug addict and gay) when President Arroyo described the House impeachment vote in her favor as a “grand display of political maturity” as well as a “glorious day in history” as the “(Filipino people) chose to keep a president through voting in the halls of constitutional democracy” and not “through people power.”

No, it’s not really maturity but “political reality,” Amado Doronila readily took a high ground. He was adamant that the “majority” decision was a “triumph of procedures over the unruliness and arbitrariness of people power.”

As a veteran opinion-maker who has kept a watchful eye on several regimes as they come and go, Doronila was sheepishly poised to feign a higher plane than where a reviled Arroyo is standing on, a sort of survivor’s braggadocio, if only to convey one thing: he could cleverly be both critical and yet subservient to the going concern that is the status quo. Hence, if Arroyo’s crowing is a display of Marcosian brazenness, Doronila’s doublespeak is then an impeccable hewing (to borrow Doronila’s own words) to a widely discredited system in place.

Arguably, Arroyo is a damaged political product and no amount of mental taming (that any high-profile PR firm can devise) can take the bad taste away momentarily. But any legitimizing subterfuge from the bully pulpit of better-regarded political observers like Doronila could be more harmful to the national psyche than Gloria’s gloat. It could in fact be more deleteriously lasting than the mendacities Marcos had peddled to keep him in power for two decades.

Let’s be specific a bit more. Doronila attributes the lack of “spontaneous surge” of people power to the claim that the “issues today have no resonance with a large segment of the population.” And here’s Doronila’s non sequitur: people power has become an impotent weapon to make leaders directly accountable (for some lapses that may have risen to the level of impeachable offenses).

The question of cheating in a presidential election caught in audio tapes has no resonance “with a large segment of the population”? Check these figures from the most recent nationwide survey by SWS: 79 percent want Arroyo impeached, 64 percent prefer her resignation, and 51 percent support removal by people power if impeachment is thrown out.

mlq3, a relatively young writer and a respectable opinion-maker (and a very honest one, I guess), for instance, is one of those opting for President Arroyo’s resignation in view of the “Garci tapes,” among other controversies. I believe Manolo is a people power practitioner too (and I’m as much entitled to that belief as Manolo is to his honesty), but not a street protester, as he himself explains categorically. He clarifies his position: “Street protests are counterproductive, alienate not only the wealthy and middle class, but workers and students. Prayer vigils are peaceful, reflective, organized, and take place in locations that minimize the inconvenience for the indifferent.”

My sense is that mlq3, whose blog at least is visited regularly by thousands of viewers all over the world, expects a protracted effort rather than a spontaneous surge to hold accountable a leader essentially for “betrayal of public trust.” This means to me that activists like him are just really being warmed up right now.

Based on the first two people’s upheavals, my own estimation has always been that the success of People Power democracy should be gauged not upon its physical manifestation that might have successfully brought about the immediate change desired (such as the ouster of a regime), which is an end in itself, but when the consensus formed by civil society - those politically informed, active and diverse minorities groups - is brought to bear upon those formally vested with governance. As a practicum for citizenship, people power is therefore not a “surge” but a continuing process for transformation to advance the common good.

The breadth of the issues that people power should cover is not confined simply to the so-called art of government but reaches up to such basic societal concerns as the liberty of every individual to earn a decent living, a woman’s claim to full equality with men, a child’s right to fulfill his dream or a gay person’s freedom to be himself or herself. Put otherwise, it should require the staple of politics in one’s routines “to see the world steadily and see it whole” (as Walter Lippmann counseled), politics being how community decisions (or non-decisions) are made to manage the conduct of the whole affairs of the polity, before that meaning has been sullied by “politicians” who pass themselves off as some detached and seasoned pundits.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Haunted by Marcos’ ghost

Marcos, as many Filipinos may still recall, employed every means possible to fabricate a semblance of public acceptance of his regime which he claimed, until his expulsion, to be constitutional and democratic. As an astute politician, Marcos was quite aware that governments, regardless of forms, must exert every effort to gain popular consent; and if only to secure a modicum of public acquiescence, he did not hesitate to corrupt everyone and the established order.

The people’s consent is therefore of the essence in any government that purports to be a democracy. For, at least theoretically, there can be no democracy that is not firmly based on the will of the governed. The powers that be are thus highly sensitive to the fundamental requirement of popular consent, whether the government being run is in fact democratic, oligarchic or despotic.

With about 80 percent of the Filipinos today wishing President Arroyo to leave office, how could she possibly secure the consent and support of the people without being repressive and manipulative in the way leaders of tyrannical disposition are prone to?

What is more, the technological wonders of speed and connectivity are now allowing citizens (the better-informed and well-meaning ones, in particular), in concert with people of like persuasions, to affect state decisions. And these are occurring in ways that are proving to be discomforting to the abilities of power holders to control public opinion through the traditional media outlets.

For instance, Malacañang has had to let loose two officials of cabinet rank (Ricardo Saludo and Rigoberto Tiglao) to post rejoinders in Newsstand as certain topics in the blog and comments thereon turned to be quite too disturbing to ignore. What could reasonably be suspected as a Palace-inspired blog, Rational Sphere, has actually been created for the coziness of the presidential bloggers barraged as they have been in not-so-neutral exchange zones. Yet, Newsstand owner John Nery was still gracious to quip: this can be the beginning of a truly meaningful deliberative democracy.

But, whether deliberative democracy can be justified, if the public is yet incapable of making appropriate political decisions in the pursuit of the common good, is still problematic. The answer of course is education, i.e., to increase the salience of politics in people’s lives. This means more, not less, politics and, hence, greater involvement by the people in the political processes. Simply voting for representatives (ah, yes, those people’s representatives some of whom burnt their midnight candles and themselves during the impeachment vote) is therefore not enough for purposes of true empowerment. But appreciating the real issues is participation in the political sense.

For now, there would be no good, long drink for mlq3 (if he is not a teetotaler). But if for the foregoing reasons alone, the quixotic campaigns of the grandson of the illustrious MLQ as well as the valiant efforts of the investigative reporters of PCIJ during the failed impeachment against President Arroyo are priceless in this educative process. Their salutary contributions are unmistakable in the face of the mainstream Philippine media’s phlegmatic performance of its duty to inform the people and of its supposed role as a public trust.

Thus, from the “circus atmosphere,” one expects more unintended consequences such as in the form of continuing “living room” and “street” political tutoring of the populace could be headed for some concrete fulfillment. For one thing, enough lessons from the past (from the unfulfilled expectations of People Power I and People Power II) might have been learned by now. And, and . . . lo, is there ample awareness this time of how to go about delivering the people’s true interests from the usual elitist rationale for economic growth (for the elites’ shake) without economic democracy?

Indeed, democracy also means the right to earn a decent living in the very place one calls home. Unfortunately, unlike Marcos who openly brandished dictatorial powers to have his untrammeled ways, Arroyo is practically a lame duck president hostage today to keeping political IOUs as one of the bitter pills produced by the impeachment saga. So, even if willing to make amends for her “lapses,” Arroyo, as a matter of political convenience, will have no choice but to relegate once again this long-standing people’s aspiration to the trenches of oblivion. This translates into less food on the table of nearly half of the country’s population as long as Arroyo is president.

Now, will people power sustain its potency and go beyond the political theatrics that the first two upheavals have unfortunately become? Or, in the days ahead, should Filipinos in fact expect to see an Iron Lady cast in the lengthened ghost of Marcos ready and willing to wage a war of attrition, at all costs, against the Great Beast?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Statement of Unity
Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan

We come from all walks of life, from different political, cultural, and economic persuasions, different points of view. But in diversity, we find a cause for unity. That cause for unity is our common objective to secure the truth.

We all seek the truth. We want the truth to come out. And yet every means for seeking the truth has been frustrated; every avenue for arriving at the truth has been blocked; and every opportunity to find the truth is being closed.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s response to our call for the truth has been to suppress evidence, hide her accomplices, engage in a grand cover-up, sow fear, foment distrust and use every instrument at her disposal to encourage division among our people.

We will not be divided in these critical times.

We say with one voice, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must go. For the good of the country, she must go. For the sake of our nation’s future, she must go. For the preservation of hope as a motive force in our national life, she must go.

We are united by the belief that this crisis must be resolved in a manner that is peaceful and democratic. Without the truth, there cannot be peace; without the truth, there is no genuine democracy. The truth must set our nation free.

Unite for the truth. Demand the truth. Defend the truth.

Kami ay ang Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan.

AKBAYAN Citizen’s Action Party
Ateneo Concerned Faculty and Youth
Bangon, Pilipinas
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)
Be Not Afraid
Black & White Movement
Citizens for TRUTH (Transparency, Responsibility, Unity, Trust, Hope)
Citizens for Truth, Resignation, Impeachment, or Ouster (C4T)
Coalition for National Solidarity
Counsels for the Defense of Civil Liberties (CODAL)
De La Salle
FPJP Movement
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Interfaith Movement for Truth, Justice and Genuine Change (IFM)
Kilusan ng Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME)
Laban ng Masa
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
Peoples Assembly for Genuine Alternatives to Social Apathy (PAG-ASA)
Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP)
Union of Muslims for Morality and Truth (UMMAT)
United Opposition (UNO)
Unity for Truth and Justice
UP Diliman Student Council (UPD USC)
White Ribbon Movement
Women March
Youth DARE

Sunday, September 04, 2005

For the love of justice, truth and peace

Our family was in Boston last weekend to spend time with our daughter. I was therefore pressed for time composing my thoughts for my next blog or regular column.

During our trip, there were in fact 1001 concerns scurrying to and fro in my wits, each begging for attention: write more about the constitutional meaning of “initiate”; re-examine the classical theory of the “majority rule”; analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the “middle force,” (along the lines that being unorganized and yet formless, the middle force is hard to be decapitated by the powers that be); or warn against the trap of invoking judicial intervention in the impeachment process (as lawyer Ernesto Francisco, Jr. has just done) to “allocate” the boundaries of power - to name just a few.

We got off the wrong subway station in downtown Boston and so by happenstance, we passed by the statute of Samuel Adams, the original middle force, the activist and a “signer” of the (American) Declaration of Independence, the same revolutionist who said, “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home . . . . ”

And back home, I was ready to bang on the keyboard and develop a piece around the idea of “signer,” as in possibly The 79 signers of the Declaration of Truth. But now, I have this e-mailed Sept. 5 deadline from FAB (Filipino-Asian Bulletin) Editor-in-Chief, “suggesting a Penafrancia-related topic for your column in the next issue” instead of the “current topic” (i.e., Gloriagate and the like). There was also this appeal posted as a comment in one of my blogs from mlq3 (Manuel L. Quezon III) for a Monday (Sept. 5) unity for truth, GMA ouster and peaceful and democratic ways to resolve the crisis.

I wasn’t prepared to get distracted (at least by my editor’s polite urging for FAB’s Our Lady of Peñafrancia special issue because mlq3’s call seemed within my intention) from what my heart has been set on until Bertrand Russell’s definition of patriotism suddenly cut across my mind, certainly about the element of it that borders on “worship,” or “the willingness to sacrifice” (ala Ninoy or Rizal, maybe, or others of lesser stature like Edgar Jopson and countless nameless others). This religious element, upon checking Russell, is “essential to the strength of the State, since it enlists the best that is in most men on the side of national sacrifice.”

Yet, I asked: Am I just actually being canny (trying to blog, join Bukluran sa Katotohanan and write a column at the same time and be still on the Peñafrancia topic)?

In Bukluran, Cory Aquino apparently set the tone. She said, “… habang kaya ko pa ay iaalay ko ang lahat nang aking makakaya para sa inyo.”

“Tonight, prayer is the main expression,” Bayan Muna party-list representative Satur Ocampo, seconded.

Opening my old e-mail address, I found a short notice dated Sept. 1 from UST Publishing requesting me to send a representative to deliver a brief message for the Sept. 8 official launching of my book BUILD or PERISH! (full title: BUILD or PERISH! People Power Democracy Liberating America’s First Empire).(The message I have sent is actually addressed to the “middle force” to stand for TRUTH.)

It was as if everything has simply fallen into place. Indeed, little miracles do happen.

Reflecting on the debacle of the so-called EDSA Tres, I once had written:
There are a number of reasons why, I believe, GMA has easily thwarted the uprising. Firstly, the insurrection has been real and has not been stage-managed by her or her close allies in order to perpetuate themselves in power. Secondly, the Philippine military and the PNP have just been through a recent examination of conscience during People Power II (or EDSA Dos, as others prefer to call it) that had put to an acid test the true attributes of their professionalism. Finally (and this is something transcendental and therefore, extra-constitutional), Mother Mary, whose shrine had been desecrated by the rebels, sided with GMA.
I had pursued further a Marian-Marxian discourse thus:
Indeed, market-capitalist economy, whether in mature or young democracies, has done wonders to a few. It has also brought untold harms to many people - billions of people in fact. The real challenge, therefore, is how to temper the harshness of economic self-interest with higher-than-symbolic social justice, with altruism and stewardship. This requires not just good but great leadership.

GMA, if she is to succeed in fulfilling the implied promise [her express promise being to restore moral authority in governance after Erap], must now begin to pose the challenge to the business sector, specially the local business class, to be accountable for the working class, whose expectations are increasingly rising, as well as the lumpen proletariats who, as EDSA Tres appears to indicate, is also capable of rising above the caste of “a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.”

“They have a world to win.” And the next rampage could be laid at other than the gates of the Palace.

I do not believe however that the Marxian prediction of historical inevitability will happen in the Philippines. For one thing, Mother Mary, the protector of the Filipinos, has better proofs of her miracles than the triumph of Marxism.
And then juxtaposing the American Revolution, the French Revolution and Filipino People Power, I had recounted in another blog:
In the years immediately following the American Revolution, Hamiltonian Federalists, while still associating citizenship with property ownership, batted for the ascendance of the bureaucrats and the educated elites over what was then termed as the “mob rule” of the pro-French Jeffersonian paradigm of popular sovereignty. (Sounds familiar? Well, it was more derisive than that because the “uneducated multitude” was also called “democrats, mobocrats and all other kinds of rats.”) The Federalists also defined democracy as “government by the passion of the multitude.” Anyway, while the French revolution model was regarded as “an open hell,” the Filipinos’ People Power erected an EDSA Shrine.

Every September, Filipinos are proud to be Bikolanos. This September, the Nation is likely to embark anew on a secular pilgrimage, in the tradition of the Peñafrancia devotees, strengthening and affirming its faith in People Power Democracy.

To many of our province mates, Filipinos’ deep-seated belief that Mother Mary is their protector is matched only by the unwavering faith of Bikolanos everywhere in Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia. This is one belief that our nation represents a tradition that is important to humanity - love of justice, truth and peace.