Published on March 11, 2008
What happens now? The answer depends on our sense of the situation. It does not seem to me that it is the middle of February 1986 or the second week of January 2001 all over again.
The more I think about it, the more it strikes me: We are back in 1984 or 1985, when the outrage over the assassination of Ninoy Aquino had put the Marcos regime on the defensive—but people power was not even a dream.
To be sure, there are two crucial differences between then and now. The economy was in dire straits then; and Marcos moved around in a pharmacological fog, his instincts that of a dead man.
But the similarity is all-important: Then, as now, it is the opposition’s state of preparedness that will determine the outcome.
Published on March 4, 2008
The issue is accountability. The allegations of abuse of power and large-scale corruption are credible; the processes to vet them, to force an accounting from the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, should be, too.
But despite new spokesmen and a return to campaign-style governance (or maybe that should read, because of the return of the perpetual campaign and deliberately clueless spokesmen), the administration is doing all it can to delay the reckoning.
The abduction of Jun Lozada is the paradigm (in the narrow sense Kuhn used it). It is the experiment, the exemplary episode that makes sense of the puzzle or problem we face. It is through this lens, therefore, that we should view the national broadband network scandal.
Even if we were to consider Lozada’s efficient exit from the airport as friendly rather than hostile, we would still have to consider the episode as part of an elaborate Malacañang-approved plot to keep Lozada away from the Senate. That much is clear; that much is key.
That leading lights of the government—from the office of the executive secretary, to the chief of the Philippine National Police, to airport authorities—cooperated (or conspired) to prevent Lozada from being arrested by agents of the Senate tells us all we need to know: as in the compromised impeachment proceedings, as in the preempted mass protests, so with the Senate blue ribbon committee hearings. This administration does not want to be held to account.
Published on February 26, 2008
What do we know for certain? If we were to take a page from Descartes and doubt everything about the continuing political crisis, perhaps we can draw up a short list of incontestable facts that reasonable people, from whatever side, can readily agree on. It is hard to take anyone seriously, for example, who disputes the following:
Ben Abalos, when he was the chairman of the Commission on Elections, was personally involved in a government project — the national broadband network — that had nothing to do with elections.
The NBN contract awarded to the Chinese state firm ZTE Corp. was problematic, as even President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has belatedly acknowledged.
The Arroyo administration cooperated — or conspired — to prevent Jun Lozada from testifying about the ZTE-NBN deal before the Senate.
Romy Neri, the socioeconomic planning secretary at the time of the signing of the ZTE contract and a key witness in the Senate investigation, has touched base with members of the political opposition.
An over-assertive Executive has narrowed the public’s options for holding the Arroyo administration accountable for any anomalies arising from the ZTE-NBN controversy. (Perhaps the President’s men will quibble with “over-assertive,” but there is no question that the administration’s hard-line stance, in place since at least the “Hello, Garci” scandal broke in 2005, assumes greater scope for Executive discretion.)
Unfortunately for Malacañang’s many spokesmen, these undisputed facts justify the growing public disgust that can be seen even from behind the wrought-iron walls of Malacañang.
I was in and out of sick bay the past two or three weeks. I caught something mid-February, became well enough to travel to Boracay later in the month (on official business, I keep telling friends and colleagues), then promptly caught something there too. (It rained the whole time I was there, and on my way back from the workshop I attended I was drenched in the rain.) It was, in a word, a throat infection. Last Tuesday was the worst; I even lost my voice. The timing was particularly unfortunate, because I had a talk scheduled in St. Scholastica’s that afternoon, and an unusual small-group forum that night. I missed both.
This may or may not explain my absence from this blog. Inverbras was kind enough to ask me to continue blogging — unless, that is, I was away on vacation. I can see his point; even posting my columns as they appear in the paper should have been a cinch. Mea culpa.
Let me play catch-up. Let me upload my last two columns, and include the one that comes out tomorrow. They all have to do with what even the bishops have taken to calling a “crisis of truth.”
they changed all the questions.
That old poster tagline came to mind, when I stumbled on this news story: Vatican names “new sins.”