September 30, 2005

Preempting people power?

The Malacañang pronouncement of a shift in policy from “maximum tolerance” to “the rule of calibrated preemptive response” or “CPR” in dealing with demonstrations and other mass protest actions is a clear case of doublespeak; that is, of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.

The latest concoction of Mrs. Arroyo’s bright boys, the “CPR”, is really nothing new. Even under the so-called policy of “maximum tolerance” the Macapagal-Arroyo regime has blatantly curtailed civil liberties with impunity.

The Arroyo administration wants to give the impression that it has been exercising “maximum tolerance”; that is, demonstrators are allowed to rally in the streets even without a permit, they are not dispersed even when they allegedly tie up traffic, deliver speeches bordering on the seditious and utter invectives against the President.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Protesters, especially those from nationalist and progressive organizations, have continually been on the receiving end of police brutality and other evidences of state fascism under whatever legal guise. The activist organizations and even the political opposition have simply learned to defy perennial government threats and the actual use of police and military coercive force in order to assert their democratic rights.

Even when the demonstrators produce their rally permits from the respective city mayors, police may or may not honor them depending on “orders from higher ups”.

In many instances, it is the police and the military who cause the huge traffic build up when they arbitrarily set up barricades on thoroughfares that the rallyists use and do not even make any prior announcements regarding the orderly rerouting of traffic.

Worse, it is they who have unlawfully initiated the violent dispersals, evidently premeditated as shown by the absence of nameplates on most if not all of the police in the phalanx barricading the demonstrators' path.
Protesting priests, nuns, human rights workers and peace advocates have been hosed down by water cannon, tear gassed, clubbed, manhandled and illegally arrested even when the protest actions have been peaceful, orderly and not at all constituting any threat to public safety much less national security.

When government appears to be implementing a policy of “maximum tolerance” and the police and military actually exhibit greater willingness to allow a protest action to proceed unimpeded, it is because of certain circumstances that tie their hands from ordering violent dispersals. These are: the presence of personalities, large numbers of protesters, the attention of the international media, or the presence of international observers or participants, etc.

In the absence of these circumstances, the police have unleashed naked brutal force, emboldened by their superiors’ prior approval and confident of subsequent official backing should demonstrators decide to lodge complaints.

“CPR” is Malacañang euphemism for shifting to the policy of the greater use of the state’s coercive force against demonstrators to prevent them from mounting protest rallies that could suddenly grow in size and breadth given the favorable conditions -- GMA’s extreme unpopularity, the worsening economic crisis, cracks in the pillars of the ruling regime such as the military, church hierarchy, Congress and local government units -- enough to threaten the rule of GMA up to her being ousted from power.

“CPR” denies or restricts rights purportedly to avert unlawful or illegal acts from being committed; in truth, rights are denied even as no illegal or unlawful act has even been committed.

Mrs. Arroyo’s “CPR” policy mimics the policy of “preemptive strike” that the big, white brother – rather, master -- US President George W. Bush, has unleashed against sovereign countries and peoples in the name of the “war on terror” . Just as the Bush notion of “preemptive strike” clearly violates international humanitarian law and the United Nations charter, Mrs. Arroyo’s invention, the “calibrated preemptive response”, grossly violates the peoples’ civil, political and human rights.

The most recent events have shown, however, that “CPR” is more than just about how the Arroyo regime deals with street protests. It applies to all possible sources of so-called “destabilization” against the detested regime of Mrs. Arroyo.

This pronouncement is all the more ominous because it is made in the midst of relentless political killings under the Arroyo administration. In August, Karapatan-Palawan Chairperson Rev. Raul Domingo and Anakpawis-Mindoro Coordinator Boker Tagumpay were killed. On Sept. 1, 2005, human rights lawyer Norman Bocar and Bayan Muna leader in Eastern Visayas and, on Sept. 22, 2005, Nestle Union President Ding Fortuna were also treacherously murdered.

On the heels of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’s ludicrous testimony at the Senate hearing regarding the highly questionable government contract with US lobby firm, Venable, is the explosive testimony of two high ranking military officers who defied a Malacañang order to desist from appearing in a Senate public hearing.
Philippine Military Academy (PMA) assistant superintendent Brigadier General Francisco Gudani and assistant commandant of the PMA corps of cadets Colonel Alexander Balutan testified on fraud committed during the May 2004 presidential elections.

The punishment was swift: the two officers were immediately relieved of their posts and now face court-martial. Gudani stands to lose his retirement benefits after more then 30 years of service with only a week left before he retires from the military.

Malacañang has issued Executive Order 464 that disallows people in government to testify before the Congress without the express approval of the Chief Executive. The directive was issued as the Senate Committee on Defense and National Security started its own inquiry into the wiretap tapes allegedly involving President Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Now Malacañang is poised to suspend the United Opposition President, Makati Mayor Jojo Binay, in a clear case of political harassment and in order to deny the Makati business district as a venue for the big rallies calling on Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation or ouster.

The suspicious appointment by the UP Board of Regents of a new College of Law dean identified with Malacañang despite the overwhelming choice of the faculty, incumbent Dean Raul Pangalangan, and the sacking of Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz, brother of Makati Business Club’s Bill Luz, the business association that called on Mrs. Arroyo to resign, augurs more preemptive moves that are also highly punitive.

The Hyatt 10 are targets of judicial slaps on the wrist, vicious character assassination in newspaper columns and the threat of criminal and civil liabilities should they agree to inform the public of what they know regarding the Arroyo government’s irregularities or worse. Mrs. Cory Aquino is suddenly being hit by known Malacañang paid hacks at her most vulnerable point, the Hacienda Luisita issue.

Emergency rule (a variant of martial law unencumbered by legal, constitutional restraints) probably constitutes the apex of “CPR”. Despite Malacañang denials, it remains an option – a bigger and more deadly weapon with which to bludgeon this administrations’ political enemies misrepresented as the enemies of the people, the enemies of the “rule of law”.

If this administration is good at anything, learning the lessons of history is not it. “CPR” and emergency rule can only stoke and inflame people power, not preempt it.

30 Sept.-1 Oct 2005

September 23, 2005

Selling out

The expose on the Venable LLP lobbying contract has once more highlighted the sell-out of national interests by Malacañang to a treasonous degree, since it involves opening up the Philippine Constitution to foreign, specifically US, intervention.

Mrs. Arroyo, from all indications, has knowingly opened the way for the US to interfere in the rewriting of the basic law of the land with effects wide-ranging and far-reaching. It is only the latest in a long string of anti-Filipino and even treasonous acts that nationalists aver the Arroyo administration is guilty of.

What is the Venable LLP contract all about? From page 1 of the $75,000-monthly deal between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the US law firm Venable LLP, it states that “As part of this representation (of Philippine interests in the US)…the Philippine government has identified specific tasks…which Venable will undertake and use best efforts to accomplish.” Number 1 task is "(s)ecure grants or congressional earmarks for support of the Charter Change initiative of the President of the Philippines, which would reshape the form of government in the Philippines from its current structure into a parliamentary federal system..."

Other lobbying tasks given by the Arroyo government to Venable, including the creation of “a capability enhancement program” for the Armed Forces and the acquisition of up to $800 million credit under the US Defense Loan Guarantee program, only constitute embellishments that cover up the main purpose of the deal; that is, to secure US official policy and financial support for the Arroyo-Ramos-de Venecia “charter change” ploy.

Everyone knows that the “cha-cha” formula Mrs. Arroyo wants to foist on the people is one in which she is able to hold on to power despite unprecedented calls from a wide cross-section of Philippine society for her to step down. In fact, Speaker de Venecia confirmed this in a recent talk at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative US think tank, where he said that Mrs. Arroyo has three options under a charter change scenario.

First, she can indeed cut her term and not run in 2007. Second, she can cut her term and seek a new mandate for the presidency in 2007. Third, she can opt to continue her term until 2010, but call for parliamentary elections in 2007 and name a prime minister.

Clearly, charter change is useful to the Arroyo-Ramos-de Venecia ménage-a-trois for a most self-serving and obnoxious end -- to perpetuate Mrs. Arroyo and her clique in power.

The Venable contract to facilitate Charter change is all the more outrageous and condemnable because scarce government funds are being used to encourage foreign interference to take place at a very fundamental legal and political level, the country’s constitution.

The US and other foreign chambers of commerce as well as various US government instrumentalities have already stated that they wish to see the removal of all restrictions in trade and investment that hamper the entry of their goods, services and capital. These in turn are the few remaining provisions that tenuously uphold and protect national and economic sovereignty and territorial integrity.

One of the most controversial proposals is to allow foreign nationals to own property and operate businesses in the country the same as Filipinos. This is tantamount to saying foreign monopoly capitalists will be given the right to own the land, exploit our natural resources and run local commerce and industry with Filipinos merely as their employees and beggarly consumers since they have the capital and resources to take over the country.

The 1987 Charter provisions against the entry of foreign troops and bases as well as the entry of nuclear weapons of any kind into Philippine territory are legal obstacles to unhampered military operations of the US armed forces in the country that the US wishes to be rid of. This is so despite the fact that such constitutional provisions have been effectively circumvented by the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Logistics and Services Agreement (MLSA).

The Philippine government’s subservience to US foreign policy combined with such charter amendments are a surefire formula for the country to be further dragged into US military adventures including wars of aggression and intervention as exemplified by the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No less ominous are the implications of a rightward shift in the US after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Heretofore sacred rights of citizens to due process and other constitutional rights have been simply set aside on the ground of “homeland security”. We must take note that domestic versions of the US Patriot Act in the form of various so-called anti-terrorism legislation are being pushed by the US on its allies including the Philippines.

The constitutional guarantees to civil, political and democratic rights in the 1987 Charter that resulted from the impetus of the anti-dictatorship struggle are thus expected to be under attack by Charter change proponents and their foreign sponsors. Though these are for the most part observed in the breach by government and has not prevented continuing gross violations of the people’s human rights by state forces, they remain written sentinels to freedom that self-respecting democrats and the people as a whole must struggle to retain, if not enlarge.

The impeachable offenses of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to her regime’s kowtowing to US vested interests in order to shore up her grip on power are even more reprehensible and condemnable than her having stolen the presidency through systematized electoral fraud.

The broad movement to oust GMA has the responsibility of bringing this truth to the fore, to remove the layers of neo-colonial mis-education and official deceit that continues to hide the truth from most of our people.


23-24 Sept. 2005

September 16, 2005

Transition Council

Many of those who remain hesitant about joining the protest movement to oust the Arroyo government, and even many of those who are already convinced of the need for people power still ask, "Sino ang ipapalit?"

There is a wide perception that the reason people are not yet pouring out into the streets is not so much the lack of disgust for the GMA regime but the lack of clarity or consensus on who should lead the new government, or the lack of an immediately palatable or generally acceptable successor.

The situation now is thus different from 1986 and 2001 when a consensus had been reached on who should lead the new government before or as soon as the people massed in the streets, nationwide, in their millions. In 2001, the situation was simpler because GMA presented an acceptable alternative to Estrada, regardless of the preferred or actual manner by which Estrada would be deposed -- resignation, impeachment, or ouster.

This time around the question of who takes over hinges to a large extent on how the Arroyo regime is removed from power. Had Mrs. Arroyo voluntarily resigned or been impeached and then found guilty in an impeachment trial, Vice President Noli de Castro would step in as constitutional successor.

No matter how unpalatable to many of the forces working for regime change, many of whom also aim for instituting substantial reforms in the political and socio-economic system in this country, a de Castro presidency would take over in the natural course of events and the people, the military establishment and other states as well as international public opinion would likely accept it.

On the other hand, with voluntary resignation and impeachment foreclosed by the intransigence and machinations of the Arroyo administration, only a “people power” uprising supported by anti-GMA forces in the military remains as the realistic and viable avenue for removing Mrs. Arroyo from Malacañang.

Those who are calling for the ouster of GMA have made it clear that constitutional succession is unacceptable. “Why go through all the trouble, risk and hardship of people power just so Noli will replace Gloria,” they ask.

Apparently this view is also widely held among the restive anti-GMA groups and elements in the military who would, at some point, be expected to act to realize the withdrawal of military support from Mrs. Arroyo and shift this to the coalition of forces that will establish the new government.

People power should result in the people being empowered to put in place a new government that they trust and support; that will bring about the immediate and longer term reform measures to alleviate the dire socio-economic plight of the majority of our people as well as lead the country towards prosperity and development; and that will institute political and constitutional changes that will result in good governance, a just and lasting peace and the promotion of national interests amidst a foreign policy of friendship and non-interference in the affairs of other countries.

But while people power can oust the GMA regime it may not be able to immediately decide who shall lead or constitute the new, regular government that should take its place.

This is the raison d'etre for the “Transition Council” which the Gloria Step Down Movement (GSM)and a growing number of other anti-GMA forces are advocating. It shall pave the way for democratic elections – clean, fair and with real choices of platforms and candidates -- where the people can decide who should lead the new government.

The “Transition Council” is not yet the new government. It has been proposed that those who constitute it shall be barred from seeking the presidency or have an important position, apart from advisory, in the new government so as to remove all suspicion that they are pursuing vested interests. It will lead the country for a relatively short period of time, i.e. from six months to one year.

In the pursuit of justice as well to demonstrate the needed political will for good governance, the “Transition Council” shall prioritize the investigation and prosecution of Mrs. Arroyo and other high public officials who are party to the betrayal of public trust, bribery, graft and corruption and other high crimes against the Filipino people. At the same time, it shall render justice, including a swift and fair trial, on all outstanding cases of plunder and graft and corruption involving current and previous high public officials.

The “Transition Council” will undertake the thorough clean-up and reform of the electoral system as well massive voter education to lay the ground for the special elections for those who will lead the new government.

The stabilization of the general economic and political situation will be the immediate concern of the “Transition Council”. It must undertake measures to provide immediate economic relief and rehabilitation while laying the groundwork for a strong, self-reliant economy as well as measures upholding the people’s democratic rights and national sovereignty. The following list illustrates the kind of actions that the “Transition Council” can and should pursue:

  • a pro-people fiscal policy that will include the scrapping of taxes that place an intolerable burden on the people such as the expanded VAT
  • a cap on debt repayments and the renegotiation of the terms of previous debts up to and including the cancellation and repudiation of onerous debts
  • a stop to runaway price increases of all basic commodities and services, especially fuel, water and electrical power
  • a stop to the curtailment of the people’s freedom of speech, assembly and association
  • rendering justice to the victims of human rights violations
  • the resumption of formal peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The extra-constitutional ouster of the Arroyo regime is not a recipe for disorder and uncertainty. It is looked upon by patriotic and democratic Filipinos everywhere as a golden opportunity to truly empower the people and lay the ground for a new government of unity, reform and all-round progress via a “Transition Council”.

16-17 Sept. 2005

September 08, 2005


The defeat of the impeachment complaint against Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo highlights and validates the essential role of the mass movement, otherwise known as the Parliament of the Streets, and the imperative of another people power uprising to remove the current regime from power.

When the “Garci tapes” were exposed followed by Mrs. Arroyo’s “I am sorry” speech, the calls for her resignation reverberated and were underscored by the protest rallies in the thousands.

By July 8, the calls for GMA to resign reached a crescendo when the “Hyatt 10” top government officials, Senate President Drilon and the Liberal Party, former President Corazon Aquino, and the Makati Business Club all called for her to step down in a seemingly orchestrated manner.

To top it all, the ambivalent statement of the AFP Chief of Staff about the military remaining neutral (he could have given a more categorical declaration of loyalty to the Commander-in-chief) and the unabashedly admiring comments by the US Embassy charge d’affairs for the Hyatt 10 further indicated a significant crack in the President’s pillars of support.

It looked like the beginning of the end for Mrs. Arroyo. It seemed that it would not need another “messy” people power exercise after all to effect regime change.

Those who wished for a smooth transfer of power from Mrs. Arroyo to Vice President Noli de Castro and who peddled the seemingly erudite view that mass protests are a thing of the past, unnecessary and even counter-productive, appeared to be vindicated.

But GMA weathered this serious challenge to her rule with the rescue by former President Fidel V. Ramos and his Lakas-NUCD horde of politicians in Congress and in the local government units (LGUs). They circled the wagons around the beleaguered President and waived “charter change” as the magic formula for resolving the political crisis.

The neither here nor there position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – Malacanang crowed about how it vindicated Mrs. Arroyo’s decision not to resign while those calling for her resignation pointed to the bishops call for truth and accountability – objectively served to bolster GMA’s hang tough position.

Still the protest marches and rallies grew progressively bigger both by the conscious effort of the militant mass organizations, the Opposition in the legislature and LGUs and the still formidable forces of former President Joseph Estrada as well as the spontaneous participation of the unorganized, proof of the widespread and growing loss of trust and confidence by many Filipinos.

The opening of Congress saw the biggest State-of-the-Nation protest rally after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship with crowds estimated at 60,000 or more. It marked a high point in the mass movement calling for Mrs. Arroyo’s ouster from power.

At the same time, three impeachment complaints were lodged against GMA, only one of which was substantive enough and had the support of an initial 42 congresspersons, 37 short of the 79 needed to impeach her. For the Opposition, it was a risky but bold move to accept the challenge of Mrs. Arroyo to bring calls for her resignation to the test of an impeachment proceeding.

The pro-impeachment solons had hoped that a further worsening of the already volatile political situation would convince more congresspersons to sign the amended impeachment complaint.

At the least, they had hoped that the process would allow the ventilation of the grounds for the impeachment and help draw public attention to the crimes of the Arroyo administration including its suppression of evidence and attempts at a systematic cover-up.

Thus while the impeachment process remained alive and the Opposition appeared to have an outside chance of getting the required 79 signatures, mass actions in the streets entered a period of relative quiescence. Less dramatic forms of protest and education efforts to explain the why, what and how of an impeachment proceeding occupied the time and efforts of various anti-GMA groups including the more militant ones.

It did not take long to prove that Mrs. Arroyo’s challenge to the Opposition to impeach her was, from the beginning, a calculated move to douse cold water on street protests and draw the public, especially the wavering middle forces, to an arena of battle that it dominated if not controlled.

It was also a shrewd move to placate the CBCP, undecided sections of big business, restive groups in the military and police and even Mrs. Arroyo’s own allies who needed convincing that she would survive. It allayed their worst fears that the entire system would come falling down by providing a safe, “constitutional” avenue by which to resolve Arroyo’s worst crisis so far. She would be given a chance to redeem herself or be the sacrificial lamb if she fails in order to preserve the endangered status quo.

The only thing that surprised most everyone is the indecent haste with which the impeachment process was terminated and the undisguised machinations of both Malacanang and the FVR-de Venecia combine to ride roughshod on the so-called constitutional processes of a supposedly independent branch of government.

Thus the birth of the loose alliance called the Bukluran para sa Katotohanan last September 2, upon the initiative of the intrepid de La Salle brothers, which saw the coming together of Ms. Susan Roces and Mrs. Corazon Aquino, the anti-impeachment congressmen and the major anti-GMA organizations and alliances as well as personages, may have been too late to reverse the course of defeat in the uphill struggle to impeach GMA, but it presaged the forging of the broadest alliance so far calling for Mrs. Arroyo to step down.

More ominously for the Arroyo regime, the Bukluran immediately united on a plan to take to the streets in the dying hours of the impeachment proceeding in Congress. For the first time, Mrs. Aquino and Susan Roces marched, braving the dust, heat and inevitable jostling, as the demonstration of varied political hues advanced towards the Batasang Pambansa, providing unequivocal proof that the people’s voice cannot be confined to the arenas of the high and mighty.

Mrs. Arroyo adamantly refuses to heed calls for her resignation and has employed all the dirty, underhanded tricks to defeat the move to impeach her.

Once again, the people’s sovereign will must find expression and cause a regime rejected by the people, to depart unceremoniously -- that is, be ousted – by the power of a people united, gathered at the gates of Malacanang Palace, in overwhelming numbers.

9-10 Sept. 2005

September 02, 2005

Political rot

Pro-administration congressmen were gloating as they hammered the last nail into the coffin of the impeachment process versus Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

They had done their “jobs”. They had used their majority in the Justice Committee to kill the amended Lozano complaint. It was the only substantive complaint filed that would have had a ghost of a chance of going to trial in the Senate.

They then proceeded, with pretended seriousness, to determine sufficiency in form and substance of the Lozano complaint. They finally dismissed the latter with the smugness of men who wield the power of numbers but who fail abjectly to demonstrate any shred of moral integrity nor even a modicum of respect for the rule of law.

The pro-impeachment solons, the protesters calling on GMA’s removal from office by any means possible and those who thought the impeachment process would bring out the truth and make Mrs. Arroyo accountable were stunned by the indecent haste and uncharacteristic efficiency with which the Justice Committee disposed of its work.

It was crass railroading utilizing only the most feeble of rationalizations. According to the Counsels for the Defense of Civil Liberties (CODAL):

“It must be noted that, while the Majority portrayed themselves as strict constitutionalist in dismissing the Amended Complaint they were leniently ‘extra-constitutionalist’ in finding the Lozano complaint properly verified, and therefore sufficient in form, in violation of the requirements of the House Rules and the Constitution. The basis of their decision in finding the Lozano Complaint insufficient in substance, is neither strict nor lenient -- because it simply was not based on any rule or law.”

“Verification is when the author of the pleading or complainant attests that: S/he prepared the complaint, and the contents thereof are ‘true and correct’ of his ‘own personal knowledge’ and based on ‘authentic or official documents/records’. Lozano did not state this in his complaint. Therefore his complaint is not verified.”

“It was, however, difficult for the Justice Committee to dismiss the Lozano Complaint for insufficiency in form. They had just previously dismissed the Amended Complaint because the Lozano complaint was supposedly ‘initiated’ first. Dismissing the Lozano complaint on form insufficiency is tantamount to calling the Amended complaint ‘a second complaint’ to a first complaint that was, in the end, not a complaint at all as required by the Rules.”

“On the other hand, the Committee on Justice found the Lozano complaint insufficient in substance because it charges an offense that was outside the current ‘term’ of President Arroyo (having been committed before her term started on June 30, 2004) and that the Lozano complaint is based on the ‘Garci tapes’ which is inadmissible in evidence.”

“The Justice Committee interpretation…makes it impossible for the President to commit betrayal of public trust through electoral fraud because this can only be committed by any president (or any public official for that matter), before their term -- elections happen before the start of the term of a public official...The Constitution did not contemplate this absurdity, which is tantamount to exempting public officials from impeachment for electoral fraud.”

“The justice committee should…merely judge whether electoral fraud, if true, constitutes an election offense -- without looking into whether the evidence that will back up this allegation is admissible since such is a matter of defense for Pres. Arroyo to raise and for the Senate to decide…”

The pro-Gloria majority in Congress has committed the condemnable act of suppressing the truth and subverting the Constitution they swear by through the use of sheer force of numbers and the deliberately erroneous application of rules and jurisprudence.

Although demonstrators calling for Mrs. Arroyo’s ouster came out in force and the middle forces composed of students, church people and professionals as well as prominent personalities such as Ms. Susan Roces and Bishop Antonio Tobias filled the gallery of the plenary hall, the anticipated spontaneous upheaval did not materialize.

Why so? We can only speculate on some key factors. Malacañang and GMA subalterns in Congress succeeded in their tactic of preventing the impeachment proceedings from becoming a venue where damning evidence could initially be brought out and examined under the public’s watchful eye. The reduction of the proceedings to a legalistic debate on procedure rather than on substance wore out the patience and interest of the people until many just tuned off.

This situation is a far cry from the Estrada impeachment trial where the people were riveted to their television screens watching the day-to-day revelations of Estrada wrongdoing until the climax of the suppression of evidence in the “second envelope” that led to the walk-out of the prosecution and triggered people power-2.

The opposition estimates it needs more time to win over the last few votes to reach the 79 needed to impeach Mrs. Arroyo despite the unfavorable Justice Committee report.

Pro-GMA camp estimates that they still have a sufficient number to defeat any other maneuvers the opposition may resort to without provoking public outrage of EDSA-1 or EDSA-2 proportions. They wish to gift Mrs. Arroyo with the image of having emerged victorious from the impeachment battle in Congress before she leaves for the US this month.

On the surface, it appears that the pro-GMA representatives not only have the upper hand numerically, but have superior tactics and better estimates as well, including a more accurate reading of the public mind.

But not really. The more the pro-GMA forces resort to the tyranny of sheer numbers, quid-pro-quos, under the table deals, and other sordid political maneuvers, the more they educate the people in a negative way on what Congress really is and stands for – not the rule of law, not truth nor justice, and certainly not good government nor the welfare of the people.

Even if the premeditated killing of the impeachment process by the pro-GMA congressmen doesn’t result in a spontaneous outpouring of popular outrage at this time, it doesn’t mean GMA is off the hook and has decisively won the battle for the people’s hearts and minds.

The Arroyo administration looks to frustrating the impeachment process to earn a new lease on life. It only manages to further expose the rot of the oppressive political system it currently lords over. That is something the Arroyo clique does not have the means to contend with.

2-3 Sept. 2005