Can we say goodbye to automated elections in 2010?
That seems to be the case, as the supplemental budget for the 2010 elections remains pending at the House of Reprehensibles. With three days remaining before the Congress adjourns, passing the budget bill within three days is possible, but it will be a long shot. If the bill remains in its current state after three days, the Commission on Elections will be hardpressed on election automation. The ugliest scenario would be no automation in 2010, which is illegal, as Republic Act 9369 calls for an automated elections in 2010. Or a partial automated elections can be done, and even that might be deemed illegal, as it goes against the same law.
And then there’s the Reproductive Health bill, which I think will suffer the same fate as that of the supplemental budget. As I have said before, it would be a miracle if this bill passes both Houses of Congress, and a greater miracle if Gloria Arroyo signs the law. I think even if the bill is passed, Arroyo will veto it. So the Congress is just prolonging the agony of this doomed bill.
On the positive side, this means the Right of Reply bill will suffer the same fate as the other two. And with principal sponsor Monico Puentevella amending his own bill, three days will not be enough to tackle these amendments. Unfortunately, the Senate has long passed its version, no thanks to Aquilino Pimentel Jr., so we might see this bill pass into law by end of the year.
As of now, the biggest among the three is the supplemental budget bill. On its passage rests the fate of the 2010 elections. Speaker Norberto Nograles and the majority should have prioritized this bill instead of the others (like those unnecessary Charter change resolutions). Maybe the intention after all is to just pay lip service to election automation.
In the end, it is the Filipino people who are screwed up by the Congress’ misplaced priorities.
“The world embraced EDSA 1 in 1986. The world tolerated EDSA 2 in 2001. The world will not forgive an EDSA3 but it will instead condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable.” – Gloria Arroyo
I think yesterday’s commemoration was an overkill. Afterall, two years ago, she had told the Filipino people to forsake EDSA. Patay na’t nailibing, pinapatay pa rin. And you cannot help but be amazed at her courage to say those words with two of the instigators of EDSA 1 were present – Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan (Cory was lucky enough to have a valid reason to skip the ceremonies – most likely she was not invited; Fidel Ramos made a non-appearance).
And her call yesterday wasn’t new? That’s what Cory Aquino had tried to do when she stepped down, harnessing people power to other means (in her case, in her cooperatives initiative).
Now, where are the EDSA 2-is-right people? The beneficiary of your action had just told you that what you did was wrong. Maybe it’s time to admit your mistakes and say “mea culpa?” Or maybe you are timid enough to admit that Arroyo has pushed you into irrelevance?
When I signed the complaint-in-intervention, I had no illusions. I knew beforehand that in the end, it would be junked, despite its merits. Afterall, the word MERIT does not exist for people whose minds are already made up. Afterall, merit does not bring advancement; only subservience, kowtowing, and prostating to the person who has the money and power do.
I take offense into how the honorable members of the House Committee on Justice, specially its honorable chair, conducted the dismissal. I take offense in the honorable chair’s opening statement, for its sheer arrogance. I take offense in the honorable congressman who made the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, for his cowardice. I take offense against the honorable 35 who did not even bother reading the intervention yet voted for its dismissal. I take offense against the honorable minority who chose to be absent in the proceedings, for their half-hearted push on the impeachment. I take offense in the way the House treats the people, the very people they are supposed to represent. I take offense at the prevailing culture of money and power not only in the House, but in all elected offices.
There is no use rebutting their arguments. As I have said earlier, they do not listen to reason. They have chosen to be deaf to the people’s voice. They have chosen to be dumb in exchange for whatever they want.
They have become subservient to the one who dispenses power and money. Which brings me to my next point.
From next week till they adjourn to enjoy the fruist of their kowtowing for the Christmas break, the House can deal with Charter change. With the recent breeding of a new mongrel in the Senate of the Republic, a Charter change in whatever mode is now possible. Since it is inevitable (if we believe Jesus Dureza and Gloria Arroyo’s supporters in the Intarwebs), I will swim with the current and support Charter change for one condition and one condition only: OUR FORM OF GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE AN ABSOLUTE, HEREDITARY MONARCHY WITH A SUBSERVIENT PARLIAMENT, COMPOSED OF A HOUSE OF LORDS AND A HOUSE OF COMMONS.
I have several reasons why I am making this condition.
1. Both Houses of Congress and majority of the elected officials of this country are acting as if Gloria Arroyo is queen anyway, so dispense with bullshit called democracy and establish an absolute monarchy, which is what is existing now.
2. Our elected officials act as if their offices are theirs and their kin’s, so dispense with the bullshit called elections and establish a hereditary monarchy with hereditary peerages, which is what is existing now, anyway.
3. Our officials act as if they derive their power from God, so dispense with the bullshit called separation of Church and State and instead establish a monarchy with a state religion, which is what is existing now, anyway.
4. Our officials love their titles so much, so dispense with the bullshit called leaders-as-servants-of-the-people and instead establish a monarchy with all the peerages and titles that we can bestow.
5. Lastly, our officials love acting before the cameras and pageantry. So dispense with the bullshit called republicanism and instead establish a monarchy with all the pomp and pageantry that it entails.
And finally, who wouldn’t want to sing this?
Zadok the Priest
Zadok the priest
And Nathan the prophet
Anointed Solomon king
And all the people
Rejoiced, rejoiced, rejoiced
And all the people
Rejoiced, rejoiced, rejoiced
Rejoiced, rejoiced, rejoiced
And all the people
Rejoiced, rejoiced, rejoiced and said:
God save the king
Long live the king
God save the king
May the king live forever
Amen, amen, alleluia, alleluia, amen, amen
Amen, amen, alleluia, amen
God save the king
Long live the king
May the king live forever
Amen, amen, alleluia, alleluia, amen, amen
May the king live
May the king live
Forever, forever, forever
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, amen, amen
Alleluia, alleluia, amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, amen
Long live the king
God save the king
Long live the king
May the king live
May the king live
Forever, forever, forever
Amen, amen, alleluia, alleluia, amen, amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, alleliua, amen, alleluia,
Amen, amen, alleluia, alleluia
And besides, if Arroyo is our queen, the British National Anthem becomes apropos.
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.
Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen.
When I was in high school, we used to live in the compound where my father worked for more than 20 years. It was along Rizal Avenue Extension, fronting the main gate of the Chinese Cemetery. I shared a room with an older brother, and it had a window overlooking Rizal Avenue Extension. It was a mix of good and bad: it had a view, but the noise was horrible. And directly below was an estero.
One night, I was sleeping when sounds of a car chase woke me up. As it was late in the night, and Rizal Avenue Extension was usually empty, I thought some rich, pathetic kids were just having a race. But then I heard gunshots, then a crash. I got up and took a look at the window. A car hit an LRT pillar, and then several cars swarmed it. Some people woke up and took a look.
Then several people in ordinary clothes got off the other cars. They were carrying M-16s, and approached the crashed car. And then they shot whoever were in that car. I was shocked.
Someone was actually taking a video of the action. One of the armed men saw him, and approached with a rifle pointed at him. The camera person then gave the tape to the armed man.
I just saw a crime committed right before my eyes. And I did nothing.
Right now, we are seeing crimes upon crimes being committed, and what do we do? We do nothing. We proceed as if nothing is happening. We instead bury ourselves into work, without realizing that our hard work will be useless if the quality of life is deteriorating due to corruption and greed.
At the same time, we feel so helpless because we don’t know what we can do to change things. Sometimes we want to act, but what is one when the others choose to live as if there are no others? What is one against the crush of apathy and corruption?
Well, it takes one to make things happen.
Because if we keep on thinking “Why move? Others won’t, so it would be just useless,” nothing would get done. We will just keep on yakking and chatting and gossiping; while we keep on the chattering, nothing gets done, corruption continues unabated, and laws are violated as if laws do not exist. Words are useless if not matched with decisive action.
The Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. I believe it was a reckless and irresponsible act on the part of Gloria Arroyo’s agents. By giving away parts of Mindanao, we would be gaining nothing, and peace would not be secured. And by trying such a stunt, she had shown that the Constitution is nothing but a piece of paper. Imagine: at Cebu in June of 2004, she took an oath; she swore to protect and uphold the Constitution. The very same Constitution that she had prostituted by even contemplating the MoA AD.
And thus, she violated her own oath. She violated the Constitution. And for that, she has to be impeached.
Yet the opposition chose to ignore this blatant disregard of the Charter. The opposition chose to ignore such a crime. They are allowing her to get away with it. And I don’t want her to get away with it. But what can I do?
When the complaint-in-intervention was presented to me for my consideration and signature, I was struck with multiple feelings. Excited, because finally there is something I can do. Scared, because I was about to do what an ordinary Filipino would not even dare do. Apprehensive, because I know in the end that nothing would come out of it. Afraid, because there is the possibility that I will be tagged as the new Oliver Lozano. Yet I signed the document. Why?
Because it has to be done. I have been talking and blogging about the sins of Gloria Arroyo, and I think it is about time for me to do something about her crime against the Filipino people. By signing this document, I am putting into official document my dissent and my resistance to such a blatant disregard of our Charter. It is something that a citizen who loves his country will do. Because I no longer wanted to just sit by, witness murder, and do nothing about it.
I am pragmatic enough to know that nothing would come out of this. But it is enough for me to put into record, in an official document, that I did something to make things right. History will know that I did not just sit by and watch a crime go unpunished. That is why I signed this document.
Please read this document. We have signed it. We stand by it. We are submitting it, today, to the Secretary-General of the House of Representatives so that it may fortify the impeachment case against the President of the Philippines.
Among those who signed this document are bloggers, who have decided to take their personal stands not just in the blogosphere but in the institutions of our nation.
Unang-una sa lahat, ang mga naniniwala na ang impeachment ay isang “numbers game,” ay may mentalidad ng isang tuta na sunud-sunuran at hindi ginagamit ang pag-iisip bilang isang tao.
Ang Kongreso ay may dalawang bahagi – ang Kamara de Representates, at ng Senado.
Kapag ang isang Presidente ay may hinaharap na sakdal tungkol sa kanyang mga gawain bilang punong ehekutibo, ang Kamara ay ang tumatanggap ng mga akusasyon laban sa Pangulo, at gumagampan ng pag-aaral ng ebidensya upang makilatis kung ito ay masusustansya at kung ito ay dapat ipursigi at litisin sa Senado.
Bilang mga pangkaraniwang mamamayan, bilang mga blogger, beterano, sibilyan, Kristiyano, at Muslim, kami ay naniniwala na obligasyon namin na patibayin ng husto ang mga paratang laban sa Pangulo ng Pilipinas.
Sa aming pananaw ay dapat bigyan atensiyon ng Kamara ang isyu ng BJE-MOA sa pagitan ng Pangulo at ng MILF, ukol sa Mindanao. Ang usapang ito ay nabuo na may pahintulot ng Pangulo; ang sinasaad nito ay idineklara ng Korte Suprema na labag sa Saligang Batas. Kung hindi pumasok sa usapin ang Korte Suprema, marahil ay nagkapirmahan na sana sa Kuala Lumpur, sapagkat bukod sa inaprobahan ang kasunduang ito ng Pangulo, ay ipinahintulutan pa niya ang kanyang mga kinatawan na mangumbida ng mga representante ng iba’t ibang bansa sa Kuala Lumpur.
Tinutulan ang BJE-MOA na ito ng maraming residente ng Mindanao – lalong-lalo na ang mga Kristiyano at ang kanilang mga opisyales; ang iba naman, tulad ng ating mga Kapatid na Muslim, ay umasa na may kongkretong usapan sila ng Pangulo ngunit sila ay basta na lamang tinalikuran. Maaaring wala talaga siyang intensyon na ipatupad ang kanilang usapan, at sinadya niyang itago ang kasunduang ito sa mamamayan upang masabi niya na hindi naman nya ito maitutuloy sa dahilang hindi pa hinog ang panahon.
May panindigan o pananaw man o wala ang ordinaryong mamamayan sa usapang ito, ang naidulot lamang nito ay perwisyo at sakuna: sa buhay, ari-arian, kapayapaan at ekonomiya hindi lang ng Mindanao, kundi ng buong Pilipinas.
Ang ibig sabihin nito ay ginawang laruan ng Pangulong Arroyo ang buong Mindanao dahil lamang sa paghahanap ng malulusutan upang isulong ang pag-amyenda sa Saligang Batas o ang Cha-Cha.
Ang ibig sabihin nito ay inilagay sa peligro ng Pangulong Arroyo ang lahat ng naninirahan sa Mindanao dahil lamang sa kanyang mga ambisyon.
Kung kaya’t dahil sa mga ikinilos at ginawa niya; sa paglabag niya sa Saligang Batas; sa pagtalikod nya sa kanyang sinumpaang obligasyon na protektahan at depensahan ang Saligang Batas; sa paglihim niya sa mamamayang Pilipino ng mga patungkol sa mga probisyon na nais niyang isulong sa kasunduan; sa malinaw na panloloko niya sa mga kapatid nating Muslim; sa maraming nasawi or nabawian ng buhay na sibilyan at militar; at dahil sa kaguluhang idinulot nya sa Mindanao; ay pinaninindigan namin na dapat maisama sa impeachment complaint ang usapin na ito.
Ayun kay Atty. Neri Colmenares, kailangan lang namin ma-isumite ang interbensyon na ito, upang maaksyunan ng Kamara. Hindi na daw kailangan i-endorse ito ng sinumang diputado o kinatawan. Kami ay naniniwala kay Atty. Colmenares at sa mga kinatawan ng oposisyon sa Kamara.
Ngunit nananawagan pa din kami na kung maaari, sa darating na Lunes, ika-17 ng Nobyembre, ay i-endorse pa rin ng mga kinatawan ng oposisyon ang aming inihahain na dokumento na siyang pinagaralan namin at nilagdaan bilang pagpapatunay na ito ay ang aming panindigan. Kung kaya’t umaasa kami na sana ito rin ang maging panindigan ng mga kongresista sa oposisyon at ng mga kinatawan na miyembro ng mayoriya, na tumutol sa kasunduang BJE-MOA.
Sa paraan na ito, ay mawawakasan na ang bangayan sa ating lipunan, mabibgyan ng pagkakataon ang Pangulo na sagutin ang mga paratang sa kanya, at makakasiguro ang Kongreso at ang taong-bayan na hindi nagtatago ang Pangulo sa likod ng kanyang mga patakbuhin.
Ang impeachment ay hindi nasasakluban ng executive privilege. Walang executive privilege ang impeachment. Kung tatalakayin ng tapat at ng walang kinikilingan ang mga paratang na nasasaloob sa impeachment complaint, kung pakikinggan ng wasto ang mga testigo, at kung pag-aaralang mabuti ang mga ebidensyang inihain ng mga complainant sa Kamara, ay makasisiguro tayo na magwawakas rin ang alitan ng administrasyon at oposisyon at ang pagkakahati ng ating mamamayan.
Nananawagan po kami sa sambayanang Pilipino na sana ay suportahan ang aming interbensyon.
Nais po naming magpasalamat sa lahat ng mga tumulong sa amin, sila Joey de Venecia, ang mga bloggers na lumagada, ang mga kapatid naming Muslim na siya ring lumagda, ang mga taga iba’t ibang hanay ng oposisyon na tumulong upang maging masustansya at matibay ang interbensyon na ito.
Pagkatapos naming isumite itong intervention na ito ay padadalhan namin ang bawat miyembro ng oposisyon ng kopya ng dokumento.
Kami ay nananampalataya na sa Lunes ay i-endorse na rin nila, kahit hindi kinakailangan, bilang pagpapatunay na buo ang loob at sentimyento nila na panagutin ang Pangulong Arroyo sa kanyang paglabag sa ating Saligang Batas at sa mga katiwalian niyang ginawa at patuloy na ginagawa.
Maraming Salamat po. Mabuhay po Kayo.
November 12, 2008
And here is the cover letter attached to CD-ROMs containing the complaint-in-intervention, which will be provided members of the House minority bloc.
November ___, 2008
Representative, ____ District, ________
House of Representatives
Dear Rep. ________:
Today, together with ____ other intervenors, I have filed an intervention to add the Memorandum of Agreement concerning the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to the impeachment charges being considered by the House.
Our intervention is based on the following premises:
1. That the House of Representatives, in deliberating upon the charges against the President of the Philippines, should strive to put together as strongand comprehensive a case as possible, in order to properly and thoroughly address all the issues that demand accountability from the chief executive.
2. That the citizenry is obligated to do its part to help fortify the case against the President of the Philippines.
We are of the opinion, and submit for your consideration and endorsement, that:
1. The President of the Philippines must be held accountable for violating her oath of office in authorizing and supporting an agreement that has been proven to be contrary to the Constitution. Any President is duty-bound to operate within the parameters established by the Constitution, and when a President deliberately disregards our Constitution’s provisions, there must be an accounting made to the citizenry.
2. The President must therefore be held accountable for what the Supreme Court has ruled to be an agreement that violated our Constitution.
3. That furthermore, the President must be held accountable for setting back the peace process; and for placing ordinary citizens, Muslim and Christian alike, in Mindanao, in peril because of the recklessness and faithlessness, with which she conducted the negotiations for the agreement. She has done grevious harm to the prosperity and tranquility of Mindanao and the entire country and her doing so is a violation of public trust and her Constitutional responsibilities. She betrayed the public, and all the parties that participated in the peace process in good faith and with a historic resolution of ancient grievances in mind.
We believe that we have made a strong case for including the BJE-MOA among the charges against the President. We believe that this is a matter of such seriousness as to require the House of Representatives providing the President with an opportunity to explain herself to you, our representatives, and through you, to an alarmed and outraged public. We further believe that the President will find it impossible to satisfactorily explain herself and that as a consequence, the House will find it necessary to include our intervention among the impeachment charges.
May I respectfully invite you, then, to endorse our intervention, so that ample opportunity may be provided for the President of the Philippines to air her side, and for the public to be informed, through you, once and for all, about the circumstances surrounding the agreement.
I am confident that you will respond to the overwhelming clamor of the citizenry, throughout the country but particularly in Mindanao, for public policy to be conducted in good faith, without recklessness and imprudence, and with the true interests of the nation at heart and not just partisan political convenience for the administration.
May I also invite you, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, Jarius Bondoc and William Esposo of the Philippine Star, Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya, and Manuel Buencamino of The Business Mirror, to state, for the record, your response to these two questions:
1. How do you intend to vote on the impeachment complaint already filed before the House? Will you be present at the committee level and plenary voting on these charges?
2. Are you in favor of including the BJE-MOA among the impeachment charges, and why or why not.
We trust you will give your answer to us by Wednesday so we can publish them. And we further trust that you will find our intervention meritorious and worthy of your endorsement.
The consensus I am hearing right now (specially over at Filipino Voices) is to let Gloria Arroyo finish her term in 2010. The reasons for this consensus includes: all legal efforts to put her accountable have failed (read: squashed), and she has less than 3 years left in her term. Is this consensus sound? I disagree on the account that it is not to her best interest for Arroyo to step down. She can expect several criminal cases being filed against her, and she cannot afford them. She will be asked to explain everything that she have tried (and still trying) so hard to avoid for the past 3 years.
Granting that those will be her motivation not to step down, what would she do to make sure her future is secure (by at least making sure at the least that she would step down in peace, unmolested by cases upon cases)? Unfortunately, time is on her side, and some of the pieces necessary for her plans are in place already.
One option is Charter change or Chacha. This option has been explored since 2005, back when the Hello Garci scandal broke out and Arroyo almost lost the presidency (which was not hers in the first place, as some groups contend), only to be thwarted by the Senate (for disagreeing with the Constituent Assembly or ConAss route) and the Supreme Court (for putting Singaw, este, Sigaw ng Bayan, in its proper place, effectively killing people’s initiative). The Chacha via ConAss option is the most viable, and will be explored further later.
Another option is the imposition of some sort of emergency rule or martial law. She was close to declaring one back in 2006; according to sources unknown, the US had put its foot down, and then Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz disagreed with the idea. The scenario was ideal for the situation: a state of rebellion was declared February 24, 2006 (ostensibly because there was supposed to be a coup) to prevent another EDSA Dos, and then the Philippine Marines had their affair at Fort Bonifacio two days later. Proclamation 1017, which placed the country under a state of rebellion, was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The second option, the military one, is prolly her last card, to be put in play when losing is very much possible. Of course, it will depend on a very loyal chain of command, where she needs to court military officials. This can be expensive, and reliability of officers is an issue.
That leaves her with Chacha via ConAss. From the very beginning, the Senate has been the stumbling block in the ConAss plans, first because the opposition has the numbers (though this is actually superficial), and second, it is insistent on the separate voting rule. Now this is where the Supreme Court enters.
The bone of contention, ladies and gentlemen, is Article XVII, Section 1 of the Constitution:
Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:
(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or
(2) A constitutional convention.
Look closely at item 1. Amendments or revisions may be proposed by The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members. This is the provision that the House of Representatives wants to use to force ConAss into the nation’s ass, and which the Senate is resisting. This piece of sloppy writing will have to be decided by the Supreme Court; specifically, whether the Constitution says that the vote is 3/4 of all members of The Congress (meaning, both houses voting combined), or 3/4 of members of each House (voting separately). Some quarters think that Section 1 is clear enough, which is true at cursory reading. The Supreme Court will have to ascertain the intent of the framers of the Charter to decide on this matter.
In an ideal situation, that’s how the Supreme Court should handle the case. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world.
Newsbreaks has a series of articles about the current Supreme Court, and it is instructive. This passage is most instructive and apropos to what I want to convey:
Data show that the three justices who dissented on PP 1017 case, namely Justices Corona, Tinga and Velasco, have consistently been voting as a bloc in other critical and tight cases.
For instance, the three justices voted as one in the closely-decided initiative petition filed by the Raul Lambino which challenged the Commission on Elections’ refusal to hold a plebiscite to amend the Constitution. The SC, by a vote of 8-7 on Oct. 2006, ruled to junk the petition. Joining the three magistrates in the minority were Puno, Leonardo Quisumbing, Minita-Chico-Nazario and the now retired Cancio Garcia.
Corona, Tinga and Velasco also voted as a group in rejecting the motion to quash, filed by San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito, the subpoena issued to Export and Import Bank and Equitable-PCI bank to produce certain bank documents. Nine justices denied Ejercito’s petition, three dissented and three took no part.
In the executive privilege case of former socio-economic planning secretary Romulo Neri, the three beefed up the majority, 9-6, who upheld the invocation of secrecy. Corona, Tinga and Velasco were also with the seven minority in the Moro ancestral domain case.
The latest case where the three justices took a similar stance was the Moro ancestral domain case. They were joined by four others to form the minority.
Next year, 5 justices will retire, 2 of them in the first quarter. All she needs to do is to appoint friendlies and loyalists to the Supreme Court. All she needs is a convincing majority to legitimize her attempts to prolong her stay at the Fortress. And that is what her closet supporters need to give her their tacit support.
You might be saying this is bullshit. Newsbreak has the bad news for you:
One of the basic principles, as adopted by the United Nations, is that the independence of the judiciary “shall be guaranteed by the State and enshrined in the Constitution…It is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary.”
Moreover, the basic principles state that “the judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.”
Ideally, this should be the case. But as a Court of Appeal justice observed, in a politically charged environment like in the Philippines, other factors, such as justices’ beliefs, inclinations and aspirations play a crucial role on how laws and rules are interpreted.
One of the political institutions that is destroyed by the current regime is the impeachment process. The impeachment is the only way to hold an incumbent president accountable for his actions. This political exercise is vested on Congress as representatives of the Filipino people.
Unfortunately, it went the way of the dodo in 2005. Many attempts at reviving it were made, but all of the attempts were sabotaged by the usual suspects.
This year’s attempt was sabotaged by the opposition itself.
First, you do not announce your war plans. Unless it is an attempt to fool the enemy, the blustering by Harry Roque is sheer foolishness. He should know that the Fortress was already anticipating this year’s impeachment (see that pathetic attempt by Oliver Lozano to mail-in his complaint); after his foolishness, the House Secretary General fled the coop and went to Switzerland for Heaven knows what for. You just cannot book a flight to Switzerland that fast. But you can always cancel or reschedule a flight.
Second, you do not disarm your own weapon. Dropping the unconstitutional Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain from the complaint is like firing blanks. Granted that the complaint contains substantial charges, the Fortress’ attack dogs will only say that this year’s complaint is just a rehash of last year’s complaint (as they are saying now) and thus deserves the garbage bin. If you have to throw the book, make sure that the book is thick enough to hurt. In this case, they threw a thin pamphlet.
Now, many people are questioning the wisdom behind the impeachment process. Some people are now saying that we should concentrate on the economy instead, a line that was gleefully picked up by the regime as a propaganda line (brilliant, by the way). Some people say it’s futile anyway, so why bother? Heck, even one oppositionist not only echoed the standard propaganda line about the economy, he also said it will only give more money to the Fortress attack dogs at the House of Reprehensibles!
Our country will never be the same again after this. All of those institutions that were established to keep things check are no more, subsumed by ambition and greed. And this time, aided and abetted by the opposition itself.
I will not bother with the technicalities and provisions of the Reproductive Health Bill that is being debated in the House of Representatives. You can read the contents of the bill and decide for yourself. Just the same, let me express my support for the bill, with my main argument centering on the freedom of choice and the government’s duty to provide its citizens the widest choice possible when it comes to reproductive health.
First, the freedom of choice is not explicitly stated in the Constitution. Instead, it is divided into several freedoms as stated in the Bill of Rights (Article III), like (but not limited to) freedom of speech and of expression, freedom of religious worship, and the non-imposition of a poll tax. Also, in Roman Catholic theology, free will is universally accepted and respected (there’s an “as long as” after that, but I leave that to theologians). When a man and a woman gets married, they do so on their own choice and free will (unless it’s an arranged or shotgun wedding). When a married couple choose to have children or not, they do so on their own choice and free will. Whatever mode of family planning that they choose, the Church and the government has no right to interfere with the said choice (as long as the choice is not incompatible with existing laws); nor does it have the right to deny the choice as long as it is not contrary to law. The Church may morally convince the couple to choose the natural method, but since it has lost the power to impose its will (come on, excommunication is just an empty threat), it can do no more.
Second, I have already stated this before (in the post The Church and the State), and I will state it again: “The Government must promote (not push) artificial family planning to those who are willing to use it. It should not be denied to those who need it most. I believe that the policy should be of promotion, not institutionalization.” Let me refine by saying that the government must promote all family planning methods. This is the Government’s duty.
Unfortunately, the current regime has chosen to act as part of the Catholic Taliban and made natural method its family planning policy. So a poor couple (and the woman has an irregular period) who wants to control the number of offspring cannot expect the government to hand them out condoms and/or pills. I think this policy violates the couple’s freedom of choice. This is a gross dereliction of duty by this regime.
I believe that the Reproductive Health Act (if enacted) will hopefully correct this abusive, short-sighted, and counterproductive policy. It makes the policy a law so that a tyrant cannot just arbitrarily impose his/her religious belief on everyone. The RH Bill is a step in the right direction.
But I am not that hopeful about the future of the bill. The delaying tactics by congressmen on both sides of the aisle (I am terribly disappointed with the opposition, to be honest) is working, and the bill might pass by a very narrow vote (or be utterly defeated). And what about the Senate version? The Senate is having one of its obligatory intramural, and most likely the counterpart bill would be shuffled in the recycled bin. And even it it passes the Senate, Gloria Arroyo can always veto it. Depending on how the votes go, both Houses of Congress would need more than just a simple majority to overturn the veto. So, yes, it is an uphill climb, and the future is bleak. But who knows? Divine intervention might choose to exercise divine irony.
The success of the bill’s local counterpart in Quezon City is an exception unless other local governments enact similar ordinances. It can be done, and it is more manageable.
I stand here today on a question of personal and collective privilege. Last July 4, 2008, you, Mr. President, had filed Senate Bill 2464, with the title “Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act of 2008.” Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I find the said bill laudable, timely, and very much needed in order to maintain the moral fiber of the society.
However, I find the bill lacking. There is a growing malaise in our society that destroys our moral fiber, damages our youth’s sense of morality, and mutilates our country’s moral foundation. This malaise has not been addressed by this bill.
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I therefore propose to insert the following additions to the said bill.
The bill defines obscene as follows:
“(a) “Obscene” refers to anything that is indecent or offensive or contrary to good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines, or tends to corrupt or deprave the human mind, or is calculated to excite impure thoughts or arouse prurient interest, or violates the proprieties of language and human behavior, regardless of the motive of the producer, printer, publisher, writer, importer, seller, distributor or exhibitor such as, but not limited to:
(1) showing, depicting or describing sexual acts;
(2) showing, depicting or describing human sexual organs or the
(3) showing, depicting or describing completely nude human
(4) describing erotic reactions, feelings or experiences on sexual female breasts; bodies; acts; or
(5) performing live sexual acts of whatever form.”
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I find the definition incomplete, specifically on actions that are deemed obscene by the said bill. For the malaise that I had talked about earlier is not included in this bill. Granting that the clause “such as, but not limited to” covers every obscene acts that human thinking can invent, is it not better form if we specify all obscene acts? Surely this will give little room for the judiciary to interpret this law, but we cannot have the spirit of this bill subjected to interpretation by a very liberal judge?
Saying that, I think that this malaise need to be be specified in this bill. I therefore propose to insert the following, with your permission, Mr. President?
* include “speaker” in the list of actors in an obscene act
* insert “(6) expressing political thoughts” in the list of obscene acts.
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, our countrymen are tired of political speeches that meant nothing. These kind of speeches bring false hopes. Are not these speeches “contrary to good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines, or tends to corrupt or deprave the human mind, or is calculated to excite impure thoughts or arouse prurient interest, or violates the proprieties of language and human behavior?” Are not political speeches delivered by government officials, appointed or elected, excite false hopes? Are not false hopes impure thoughts, because false hopes are untrue and impure? Are not political speeches of false hopes works to arouse prurient interests, expressing empty promises?
Our people are tired of holding empty bags, of hearing hollow words. It is high time we declare political speeches as pornography, and ban them immediately. Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, if we fail to insert this in the bill, we will appear to be hypocrites of the worst kind. History will then judge us harshly. The people will reject us with much joy. Our country’s morals will be in tatters. We must not allow these to happen. We must act now.