Friday, November 03, 2006

sifting through muck and dirt

Again, this is delayed. Sorry. This was my column at the Manila Standard Today last Wednesday, November 1.

It is always fascinating and yes, exasperating, to go through the froth that inevitably follows any major political statement in this country. I know that a lot of things hinged on that Supreme Court decision – for instance, whether there will still be a Senate or elections next year - but the breadth of discussion and analysis is truly one for the books.

For example, I just don’t get the point of the guessing game about who delivered the supposed swing vote. Not only does such a discussion reek of our proclivity for witch- hunting, for our penchant for looking for someone on whom we can heap the blame on, but it also is quite pointless since anyone among the fifteen justices is potentially the person who hammered the last nail on that coffin. And shouldn’t the discussion be about what was said rather than who said it?

I also do not get all these bitterness over the supposed harsh language of that decision. What, they expected kid gloves treatment from the people that have been the subject of so much pressure and speculation in the last few weeks? Secretary Michael Defensor’s whining and grumbling about the ungratefulness of certain justices who, he hinted, have forgotten who appointed them to the High Court, provide all the justification for the supposed viciousness of the language of that decision.

Perhaps I am immune to incendiary language as a blogger, which probably explains why I took the particular vehemence with which the decision was coached as par for the course. After all, the whole debate about charter change and the validity of the people’s initiative was already smoldering with fire and brimstone anyway. “Deception and gigantic fraud on the people” are words that, quite frankly, sound like kids’ play compared to what have already been said by the contending parties in the run off to the Supreme Court decision. Surely no one expected a cold and detached treatise on a burning issue!

And what is with this nonsense about how the voting was indicative of the level of patriotism of the justices? Since when was love of country purely determined by one’s position on one national issue, regardless of the level of importance we attach to that issue? Oh please, patriotism is something we try to aspire for everyday. And it is not a concept that can be hijacked by anyone to serve his or her own selfish political agenda.

So lets stop these attempts to read more into the decision by inputting political color, motives or emotions. Well at least no one has dared to question the mental faculties or the intellectual probity of the justices. Yet. This is the Philippines remember and in this country no one loses an argument, one side wins and the other side simply gypped.

On the other hand, I do find the accolades that the anti-charter change people are suddenly heaping on the Supreme Court justices who voted against the people’s initiative as farcical. A few months back, unkind speculations were running high over the futility of expecting an impartial decision from the GMA-appointed justices. For a while back there, the scuttlebutt was that the proponents of the People’s Initiative filed the petition precisely because they were already guaranteed of a victory – that they knew something that others didn’t. The implication was that it was a done deal, that the justices in question were puppets that kowtow to Malacanang’s every desire. I hope that from now on, we can truly give people, particularly those that deserve it, the benefit of the doubt.

Let’s focus on the incisiveness and the wisdom of the decision and stop trying to ascribe political color. There’s more than enough in it to dissect and pull apart without dragging up muck and dirt.

I personally think that the essence of that decision is long overdue. I think that the Supreme Court has done wisely to finally put a stop to all these attempts to settle national issues through extra-constitutional means.

For quite sometime now, I think that we have all been wantonly, brazenly, and dangerously manipulating the sum and substance of the concept of people power and its various derivatives – e.g., the People’s Initiative. When we do not like something, or when we want something changed, we have gotten into this mentality that all it takes is getting enough people to buy into our cause or causes. It has all become a numbers game and to heck with the law.

So we want to save the La Mesa Dam? Let’s get one hundred million signatures. We want to boot the President out? Let’s get hundreds of thousands of people out in the streets. We want to impeach someone? We want to recall an elected official? We have gotten into this trap of thinking people power is simply about body count.

I think that it is truly time for us to make our democratic processes work. God knows we have been toying with them for quite sometime now. Now we know its still works.

***

And in a perfect example of doublespeak, the administration says it will appeal the decision but at the same time is already firming up its senatorial, congressional and local government slates. I am still writing this in Leyte and the air here is already thick with pre-elections buzz.

This early, there are interesting developments happening. It seems the administration is hard put putting up the money to finance the elections given the fact that everyone is watching the administration’s every move. This probably explains why it is having difficulty getting the supposed winnable candidates into its slate. Oh, let’s cut this crap about loyalty and ideology. An election in this country is still about money and whoever has the gold gets more friends.

On the other hand, it is becoming very clear where or to be more specific, from whom, the opposition’s largesse will be emanating from. And no one seems to be watching out for that source of funding. You and I know where that money came from and quite frankly, it is shameless the way certain people have forgotten that.

It is futile to comment on the administration’s senatorial line up since it looks like the mad scramble to find suitable candidates is not over yet. However, there might be some gray lining hovering in the horizon if it succeeds in drafting local executives who might bring some bit of fresh air and competence into the murky halls of the current senate. Bulacan Governor Josie de la Cruz, MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando, even Television personality Korina Sanchez, assuming that these people can be enticed should provide an interesting contrast to the recycled tradpols that dominate the opposition’s line up. I found it quite unnerving to see that dancing lady Tessie Aquino Oreta, her balato partner John Osmena, Erap sycophant Tito Sotto, and fugitive Gringo Honasan are in that list. Good grief.

2 comments:

domingo said...

Bong

Justice Carpio: "An initiative that gathers signatures from the people without first showing to the people the full text of the proposed amendments is most likely a deception, and can operate as a gigantic fraud on the people."

He continues: "[T]he Lambino Group’s signature sheets do not contain the full text of the proposed changes."

And he concludes: "Atty. Lambino and his group deceived the 6.3 million signatories, and even the entire nation."

Strangely enough, of the 6,327,592 initiative signers, not even one among them has so far come forward to lodge a formal complaint, accusing "Atty. Lambino and his group" of deception or fraud, nor did the Court summon aggrieved signers to testify and substantiate Justice Carpio’s "presumption of a deception." In fact, the "intervenors" and "oppositors" in the case did not claim to represent deceived signers.

So, if no one has surfaced to accuse, is Justice Carpio’s conclusion the accusation in lieu? Or is it already the Court’s pronouncement of guilt? Or both? Is the accuser the judge?

In any case, their deception (tag it "presumed," since no signer so far has cried "deception") would have been short-lived, for they could still vote "NO" during the plebiscite that would have been held 60-90 days later.

guile said...

good grief, indeed..