The vote in plenary at the House of the Representatives (read the Inquirer story and the report by Carlos Conde) was extensively covered by Filipino bloggers: the PCIJ led the pack with its series of entries here, here, here, and here, culminating with (after mentioning the gathering crowd) this. There’s my own coverage (which ended abruptly when I passed out from exhaustion), Sassy Lawyer’s series of posts also include pictures! She begins here, continues here, moves on here, and here, has more here, and then concludes here, all in all, a remarkable demonstration of legal analysis on the fly. There’s a contending view by La Vida Lawyer. Another lawyer, JJ Disini muses that the House vote reveals the weakness of the ballot, as congressmen ignored the sentiments of the country (and their constitutents). Piercing Pens reproduces the official House of Representatives account. After protests began, the Vice-President of the Philippines released a statement and journalists such as PCIJ (which says he’s watching and waiting) have begun trying to discern his possible moves. Apropos of the veep, Torn & Frayed points to e-zine Hotmanila and its articles, both serious (such as one on the Vice-President’s do-nothing record) and satirical; incidentally, a masterful piece of satirical writing was penned by PCIJ’s Shiela Coronel, who lampooned Congressional rhetoric. (driving in the third world was amused by some of the speeches).
The papers have weighed in with editorials: The Inquirer editorial denounces the decision of the House; Malaya goes further and issues a call to arms; the Manila Times says the country should focus on the President’s visit to the United Nations; the Star thinks it’s time for Congress to go back to work; the Standard-Today says Mrs. Aquino should go home.
The pundits have opined in the papers: my weekly column in the Arab News is President Arroyo May Have Won in Congress, but She’s Losing the Street. Then again, Amando Doronila counters this view by saying that the President’s accusers have never clearly stated what, exactly, she should be held accountable for, and that the truth is a dangerous thing to assert. Emil Jurado proclaims that there’s been a clear victory of the rule of law and the Constitution. Conrado de Quiros, to put it mildly, disagrees. JB Baylon says whatever Congress has done, it leaves questions unanswered.
The blogosphere has Walk This Way telling everyone to fuck off (in his cheery way, of course, so it isn’t personal). By the way, he also suggests reporters on TV tried to send subliminal messages by wearing black or white during their coverage, something I heard suggested by other people.
Abe Margallo pays generous tribute to the Filipino blogosphere in an eloquent essay saying we all continue to be haunted by Marcos.
There’s also Newsstand’s observations on the Speaker’s actions during the marathon session in the House. Edwin Lacierda says there is a strong case for a judicial review of the House Committee on Justice’s decisions to be questioned. Gari provides some thoughts after participating in the march on the House of Representatives yesterday. Mongster’s nest reiterates his view it is the masses, and not the middle forces or the political leadership, that will carry the day. Big mango says there is a profound, and massive, crisis in leadership that transcends party lines. Economist Go Figure also observes a breakdown in respect for the system.
Foreign observers may be puzzled by the political crisis that’s engulfed the Arroyo presidency merely a year after being inaugurated into a 6 year-term.
The issue can be summarized thus: after President Joseph Estrada left office after an impeachment trial collapsed in the face of a tactic by his allies in the Philippine senate to block the opening of an envelope of evidence on procedural grounds, Cardinal Jaime Sin, who had helped provoke People Power against Ferdinand Marcos, Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over the presidency. Her serving our Estrada’s four remaining years in office were marred by legal questions. In 2004, she ran for a full six year term, and won. The problem was allegations of fraud (normal in the Philippines), which a Congressional canvass (official counting of returns) did nothing to dispel. The proclamation of Arroyo as president-elect mere days before her inauguration thus left her mandate under a cloud. It didn’t help there were credible accusations of massive disenfranchisement.
However, the most serious crisis confronting her has come from the surfacing of tape recordings of a Commissioner of the Philippine elections authority, a controversial appointment in the first place (the man, nicknamed "Garci," is Commissioner Virgilio Garcellano, notorious since the Marcos era for being an expert in fixing voting results in favor of the highest bidder). The tapes indicate the President of the Philippines talked to Garcellano on several occasions, as did many other politicians. However, in light of earlier doubts about the conduct of the election, the question of the president’s mandate thus resurfaced.
Hearing the tape would be revealed by the opposition in a press conference, the President’s press secretary preempted it, distributing copies of the tape to the press, with another recording he claimed was authentic. Furthermore, an aide of the President’s brother-in-law came forward and said he was the one the President talked to. The public was skeptical of the explanation. It didn’t help that the government then claimed that being wiretapped conversations, the tapes were beyond the purview of Manila’s rambunctious media. Having brought forward the tape, government was seen as having no right to prevent its distribution. A rebellion, of sorts, among media people took place primarily by means of the Internet; cellphone-obsessed Filipinos avidly downloaded ringtones of what seemed to be the President saying, "Hello, Garci.. Will I win by one million votes?"
The President at first kept silent, then after mounting public pressure, reversed herself after three weeks to apologize to the nation for "a lapse in judgment," which resulted in more questions being raised. Chief among them, if it was her, talking to a person she admitted was with the elections authority, then wasn’t her press secretary’s and other allies’s comments a cover up? The House of Representatives began hearings, complementing hearings being conducted by the Senate (the Senate’s been looking into accusations the President’s family took money from illegal gambling).
The President further tried to mollify critics by sending members of her family into exile; this effort was overtaken by the widow of her leading opponent in the elections calling for her resignation in a very emotional speech. Pressure has mounted on other leading Filipinos, such as Cory Aquino, to speak up (she’s counseled prudence and prayer), while Philippine Catholic bishops, politically influential, have lost Cardinal Sin as a spokesman and so now have to come up with a consensus.
Civil Society, that is, the middle class, business class, entrepreneurial and big business segments of the population, have thus far shown a disinclination to take the protest to the streets. Street protests at present are dominated by the Communists and the followers of Joseph Estrada. The President says that having said sorry, she should be allowed to concentrate on reform. The recent decision of the Supreme Court, however, to suspend the implementation of a centerpiece of the reform program, now adds pressure to the President. Meanwhile, the tapes were finally played in the House, and other tapes will be played in the coming days. Calls for the President to keep within the constitutional order, are mounting, chief among them, calls for her to resign. The central issue is: having at least shown improper conduct during the elections, and at the most having been shown to have presided over an effort to cheat, should the president remain in office? If not, can the constitutional order hold? That is the question.
A further dissection of the issues can be found in my blog. There’s also a pseudo-Socialist roundup in HotManila. Useful reading at the PCIJ blog (they’re a group of highly-respected independent journalists), television reporter Jove Francisco, legal issues, including the transcripts of tapes at lawyer JJ Disin’s blog as well as other legal issues in Punzi, while a combined legal effort to provide materials is in Gloriagate (which is what media has decided to call the controversy); Sassy Lawyer has other views; the expat view in Torn And Frayed, Journalist Tony Abaya also has columns on line; the controversy has been a coming of age, of sorts, for the Philippine blogosphere.
Controversial recordings spread on Internet records mainstream media’s grappling with blogging and peer-to-peer systems for delivering files such as BitTorrent having a news-worthy impact on the continuing political troubles of Philippines president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Philippine National Telecommunications Commission has attempted to put the squeeze on radio, television, and print journalists covering controversial recordings first released to the public by the Press Secretary of the President.
INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories: continues its historic and ground-breaking providing of news and actual transcripts and files in the ongoing crisis concerning alleged taped conversations involving the President of the Philippines and officials of the Commission on Elections.
Manuel L. Quezon III (my blog) is focusing on the developing story on allegations of illegal gambling profits being linked to the family of the President of the Philippines, as well as another cause celebre involving supposed recordings of administration officials plotting election fraud last year. The Philippine Center for Investigate Journalism blog is making history by defying a brewing government effort to crack down on those providing either audio files or transcripts of the alleged conversations. They’re also several steps ahead of the papers in keeping track of the story and its origins.
INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories: has what they’ve been able to piece together on an emerging major issue. Allegations of the President of the Philippines being caught on tape conspiring with other officials to cheat in the last national elections resulted in the administration releasing its own version. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) a highly credible independent journalist’s group, is known for its trailblazing reportage.
BY JOVE!, a blog written by a television reporter who covers the presidential beat in the Philippines, writes of the recent decision by the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to go on the offensive by releasing recordings of a phonecall which the opposition says shows her coordinating cheating for the last presidential elections. The Philippine president says the opposition doctored a genuine recording. The reporter transcribes the supposedly genuine version and comes to a damning conclusion:
okay, i can still transcribe THE ALTERED version…but do you really want me to to that after reading everything in the ORIGINAL?
Rajan is welcoming moves to
lengthen shorten the work week for Malaysian civil servants.:
Wanted to blog about this
for a long time, keep on forgetting. Well, you see, the plan is to
transition slowly into a 5-day working week for civil servants. The
transition goes like this…
Torn and frayed in Manila: an expat living in the Philippines, points out government economy with the truth in reporting cases of Malaria in Palawan province:
The implication is that visitors should not expect to be able to take just the “nice” aspects of Palawan’s wilderness without the downside, and I agree with him there. You want nature lite, watch Discovery Channel. Still, if Reyes, Mitra and the Palawan tourist industry are so keen on taking the tourist dollar, they have a responsibility at least to provide accurate information on the risks tourists face and at the moment they do not.
disini writes on Philippine bloggers blowing the whistle on ip violations:
I must say that I’m very happy to report about two (2) blog
entries that have recently come to my attention. I’ve always
known that bloggers have the ability to highlight issues that
traditional media can’t or won’t cover. These two (2) entries
expose alleged copyright infringement separately commited by GMA 7’s
Debate show and Bayo, the clothes company.
Under the Talisay Tree writes, apropos of a plan to divide Cebu province, one of the most politically-influential provinces, into two or more new provinces:
Perhaps this move of dividing up Cebu can be a wake-up call to the leadership to be more attentive to the needs of the communities far from the seat of the provincial government. And by the way, there is another place where I used to live that is going to be dismembered soon too. I spend two years as young teacher in Dinagat Island. Another bill is pending in Congress that will detach Dinagat from Surigao del Norte and turn it into a province.
La Vida Lawyer recounts a Filipino bureaucrat’s philosophy:
"What is the most important rule in life?", Mr. Bureaucrat, a career officer in a government agency, blurted as he swang his club and sent the golf ball 200 yards away. I managed only to shrug my shoulders, not knowing that Mr. Bureacrat was about to give me his life lessons with a swing."Never stick your neck out for anyone," he declared as we walk towards the golf ball in the green.
[powered by WordPress.]
30 queries. 2.227 seconds