Katipunero: a member of the Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng Pilipinas, a revolutionary group of the 1800s; a Filipino who continues to fight unjust and corrupt structures in society.

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Location: Loyola House of Studies, Quezon City, Philippines

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Trial by the People

Preparations are underway for the commencement of a People's Court that will try GMA on charges of cheating in the last elections. And the idea has been welcomed with mixed reactions.

Some say that this exercise will further weaken our already weak democratic institutions - more particularly our legislative and judicial branches. Pushing through with the plan will put to question the decision of the lower house not to transmit the impeachment complaint on the President to the Senate. And rightly so. Those who have closely followed the proceedings can say that much emphasis has been put on the letter of the law rather than its spirit as a convenient way to protect the already embattled president; thus frustrating the desire of many to ferret out the truth.

But then again, a people's court may frustrate future action that respects the constitution. Personally, I do not see anything unsconstitutional with this move. People have the right to express what they think and their judgments on things that affect them. However, they must realize that this extra-contitutional measure will not hold any water. Whatever decision is reached through this court will not change anything except amplify the fury of those who are already against the present government. Whatever findings gathered through this proceeding need to be confirmed by a duly constituted body that has the mandate to validate information. This, unfortunately, the people's court does not enjoy.

So what do we do with this impasse? The People's Tribunal is an alternative alright; but is it the best alternative? If only to bring out the facts of the case and expose arguments and evidence regarding the President's cheating in the last elections, I vote for this alternative. Right now, what is important is that we expose the truth. If this tribunal will effectively do it, then let's go ahead with the trial. But we have to remember that whatever comes out of this may not necessarily change anything in the present government. We must remember that we must also address the other tactics that GMA is using to cloud the issue like the "great debate" on constitutional change.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

We Did It Again!

Corruption, as defined by Peter Eigen, the Chairperson of Transparency International is "the abuse of entrusted power for private benefit and is as such conducive to severe political, economic and social costs." TI's Chief Executive, David Nussbaum adds that, "corruption isn't a natural disaster: It is the cold, calculated theft of
opportunity from the men, women and children who are least able to protect themselves."

These are very prophetic words. It is as if these words were directed at the political managers of our country. We did it again! We are one of the top raters when it comes to corruption. In TI's latest Corruption Perception Index Report, the Philippines was rated 2.5, down from last year's rating of 2.6. But let us not be deceived by the 0.1 difference. It may seem insignificant. However, when taken in context, this is not joking matter. Consider the following:

1. we are one of the 70 countries that rated 3 and below;
2. we dropped from 102 last year to 117th place this year;
3. we ranked 11th among 159 countries when it comes to perceived corruption.

Now, this is not joking matter. And to add insult to injury, just recently, the Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the EVAT. The President says that we need the EVAT to earn more revenues for the government as it works on the economy that is "poised for take-off." The question is, isn't the VAT Law enough to raise the needed revenues? Have we fully exploited the opportunities for revenues offered by the VAT Law. And if we have, how much of the revenues really went to government projects and not to personal accounts?

The crux of the matter is that we have a perceived thief who is defending the EVAT. This will definitely hurt the ordinary Filipino who will not be able to defend himself from the ravages of the EVAT Law. And will these revenues really be used to prime our economy? When will the benefits trickle down to the poor? When they are about to be buried in their graves? When their children have missed the opportunity to educate themselves and have grown to be uneducated and therefore, more defenseless?

Why aren't we bothered? Why is it that only a few people are complaining? Why is it that only a handful are putting up a fight? Have we grown weary and hopeless?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

We Want Truth Not Power

Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

George Orwell cannot be truer with what he said about power. His prophetic voice has much to tell us in the current national crisis. Ever since the Hello Garci tapes came into the scene, many people have clamored for the truth. Did GMA ask Garcilliano to cheat for her? Did she use the COMELEC and the military to achieve her victory in the presidential elections? How much did she really spend in her campaign? Did she use jueteng money to fund her campaign machinery?

It has been months since the issue came to be. Unfortunately, we still do not have the answers. It is unfortunate that both the executive and legislative branches of our government are not so concerned about uncovering the truth as an end. The relentless politicking and mud-slinging and not to mention character assassinations are engaged because power is in the minds and will of our politicians. GMA wants to stay in power. Her allies want her to stay in power so as to ensconce themselves in power. EO 464 is not designed to protect our democratic institutions but to strengthen GMA's already shaky hold on power.

The opposition wants to discredit her so as to grab power and enthrone themselves in the seats of power which they failed to do in the last elections. They pine for another people power revolution so that they could take over the reins of governance (read: graft and corruption).

Let's face it. This whole damn national crisis is a battle for power and not for the truth. It is not surprising then that we cannot find any champion for the truth. Our politicians must be warned though that if they will not take the challenge to uncover the truth as the end of all their political maneuverings, then the people who suffer from their power struggle will take the quest in their hands. It is all a matter of proper timing.

Monday, October 03, 2005

FVR to Abandon GMA?

Newsflash: FVR demands apology from Presd’l Spokesman Ignacio Bunye for slur on retired soldiers. Gag order also wrong as FVR urges GMA to work for national unity as he expresses regret at the slow pace of moves to amend Charter. Break imminent as FVR leaves for Germany.

This is a copy of the text message supposedly initiated by FVR's press people. Finally, GMA's savior is seriously thinking of abandoning her supposedly for the "slow pace of moves to amend the Charter." Is this reason enough to renege on his promise to stay behind the President through the crisis? Or could it be that FVR has not received any of the compromises GMA has perhaps promised him?

GMA has been compromising since she decided to run for president in the 2004 Presidential Elections. She has to pay a lot of political debts she yet has to pay. And as the days pass, all she does is to lengthen the rope to keep her hand tied. This is why I believe she no longer has the capacity to lead our country for the common good. She continues to corrupt our democratic institutions to keep herself in power.

Madam President, what reasons have you to stay in power. Aren't you ever frustrated by your inability to make free and just decisions for the common good because of the many debts you have to honor? Are you able to get enough sleep, confident that you have the mandate of the people? Or would you rather live in an illusion? No one is invincible and indispensable Madam President. Soon you will have to go. My one hope is that you are now setting up the structures of you exit plan and smooth transition in governance. Please do not wait for more of your "loyal" pawns to desert you!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Educating the Youth?

The Palace is slowly easing out Undersecretary Mike Luz from the Department of Education. It has been mum about the reasons for the "transfer." All we know is that the Palace has thanked him for his services as the Finance person of the department.

However, circumstantial evidence point to a vendetta. USec Luz has reportedly sent back three postdated cheques which the Palace wanted him to honor and forward the funds to the scholarship fund of the President and her pawn from Bataan. This pawn is known for doling out high school scholarships to thousands of his constituents. Scholarships can go as low as P150 for the entire school year. Now, is this really a scholarship or simply buying votes for the next election?

This Bataan pawn has reportedly called the staff of USec Luz and cursed them over the phone because they have not released the funds as oredered by his Queen in exchange for his loyalty during the Impeachment Proceedings at the Congress.

Nothing is final yet. USec Luz is holding his ground for good reasons. He has done a lot to lessen corruption in the department especially in the procurement of textbooks which in the past has been a very anomalous process. And he continues to fight corruption in the department even if it means having to face the President herself (who by the way uses her other pawns like Ermita et al to deal with the Undersecretary).

Madam President, if you really have good reasons to recant a personal appointment, please do so. But please, let your appointee (and the public for that matter) know. You are dealing with the Education Department - the last bastion of morality in your already corrupt government. Kant reminds us that we ought to treat a person as an end in himself and not merely a means. Respect for the human being demands that you treat USec Luz and your other appointees (and that includes Bunye and Ermita) not as simply pawns that you can easily sacrifice according to your whim but as rational beings.

Madam President, let us educate our youth the way we should. And your example should be the best example of what a true Filipino should be for you hold the highest position in the land.