Monday, February 27, 2006

Day After

2 hours after I wrote about the stand-off at the Fort Bonifacio, the Marines stood down and proceeded to their barracks. No shooting was involved, according to news reports, the Marine officers took a vote whether to follow the chain of command or not. Following the chain of comman won.

General Miranda was eventually interviewed and he corroborated the Government's assertion that it was he who asked to be relieved of his position as commandant of the Marines. He said that he felt he had lost the confidence of his superiors, so he asked to be relieved of command. He will now be assigned to Navy headquarters (the Philippine Marines are operationally under the Philippine Navy).

It was a class act, Gen. Miranda could have aired on national TV all his frustrations against his superiors and against the President, but he refrained. If Col. Querubin is to be believed, It was through his intervention that the marines did not push through with their plans to join the EDSA celebration rallies.

I hope his superiors do not put Gen. Miranda in limbo. The Philippine military needs somebody with his integrity.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

State of Emergency 2

It was a typical Sunday for me until we got home and found out that a battalion of marines have holed up in Fort Bonifacio to protest the relief of their Commandant, Major General Renato Miranda, from his post.

The leader of the Marines, Col. Ariel Querubin called for people to converge on Fort Bonifacio to help them in their protest. At about 9:00 p.m. Congresswoman Imee Marcos, Former Vice President Guingona, Senators Magsaysay and Biazon were near or inside the Fort. Former President Aquino was interviewed as saying she will be going there to pray for a peaceful resolution of the stand-off. With her are former Cabinet members Dinky Soliman and Butch Abad.

The Chief of Staff, General Generoso Senga proceeded to Army Headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo. There seems to be no attempt by each side to militarily take over, either camp. It seems to me that the people at Fort Bonifacio and those converging there are trying to re-create the EDSA 1 experience when people initially protected General Ramos and Defense Secretary Enrile which eventually toppled President Marcos.

I think that at this point, both sides are trying to garner support from as many Military units as they can. The result of this exercise can determine the fate of the Philippines. The mass of people outside Fort Bonifacio can still be the decideing factor to this crisis.

But before anything else I want to state my position here. I do not favor any extra-constitutional means to relieve President Arroyo of her position. If this "protest" succeeds in unseating the President, the military will have become the deciding force in unseating 3 Philippine Presidents within 20 years, and the only president they did not attempt* to unseat was a former general himself.

The Philppines does not need that, what we need is to depoliticise the Armed Forces, not to make them more political. We need the Armed Forces to acknowledge Civilian supremacy. This is the only way we can have a stable democracy.

It seems some people are blinded by their desire to unseat President Arroyo that they are willing to play with fire, to jeopardize Philippine democracy to get rid of somebody they do not like. And yes, I am including President Aquino, who I respect so much and Butch Abad, who I once wrote about as one of the honest politicians in the country.

We must learn from the Erap experience, ridding ourselves of a corrupt President through estra-constitutional means may be a good thing in the short run, but it screws up our country in the long run.

Besides, I really can't see myself "fighting for democracy" alongside Imee Marcos, it feels sacrilegious.


The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that the police prevented President Aquino from going to Fort Bonifacio

* The original sentence reads "and the only president they did not unseat was a former general himself." Which is factually wrong because the military also failed to unseat President Aquino.

At least I passed

From Blogthings via Pharyngula

I missed 1, Aargh!!! And it was the easiest one too, I didn't even have to solve for anything, stupid me. Serves me right.

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!

Friday, February 24, 2006

State of Emergency

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of emergency in the Philippines. This is a response to the coup attempt foiled by the government this morning.

This declaration changes nothing and everything. The declaration just characterizes the turmoil the Philippine state is in, it does not suspend the bill of rights or any of its provisions. The President can suspend the writ of habeas corpus (Article VII, Section 18) of the Philippine Constitution) but she has not done so. She can also declare a state of Martial Law (also Article VII, Section 18), but she has also not done so. And so, even with the declaration, nothing has changed. In fact, various groups at this time are conducting demonstrations, the militant left, the civil society groups led by former President Aquino, the supporters of former President Estrada.

And yet, this declaration changes everything. We have now again joined the ranks of unstable countries. Investors will hesitate to invest, those with liquid assets will transfer them to more stable environments, the peso will depreciate and most commoditiy prices will go up, most of the government's efforts to increase the pace of development would go down the drain.

I cannot fault the government of declaring a state of emergency, they are after all being threatened. I just wish they didn't have to.


The Philippine Daily Inquirer has published the full text of the President's declaration (furl copy). In another story the Secretary of Justice has justified the declaration of a state of emergency as constitutional. In this story, he advanced the theory that the
"government could also take over vital industries"
Which is of course ridiculous, IANAL, but there is no provision in Article VII, Section 18 of the constitution that allows this. As I stated earlier, this declaration does not suspend any rights acquired by the Filipinos with the first EDSA revolution.

And Senate President Drilon shares the same viewpoint, the same story quotes Drilon as saying that the declaration of a State of Emergency is a description of
"the factual state of things." and "It does not add any powers to the President."
I hope they stabilize the government and then end the state of emergency as early as possible.


The same story also carried the stupidest statement about this whole situation I have read and it was uttered by my second favorite senator, Senator Jamby Madrigal who said
“This is a sad day for democracy. The President's declaration of a state of emergency shows how volatile the situation is and shows that this administration is not really in control.”
The second sentence characterizes the situation, talk about stating the obvious. But how can it be a sad day for democracy when democtatic state uses state power to protect itself from unelected coup plotters? Can the Senator please answer me that question.

Update 2

With the delcaration of a State of Emergency, the police have apparently banned protest marches. The police have dispersed the earlier protest marches at the EDSA shrine, the site of both EDSA 1 and 2, when Filipinos booted out our then Presidents. But the demonstration organized by former President Aquino, a key figure in both EDSA's will push through.

Update 3

Listening to the Radio, it seems that Justice Secretary Gonzales is not using Article VII Section 18 for his statement that the government can also take over vital industries. He was basing his opinion on Article 12 Section 17 of the Constitution which states
"Section 17. In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest."
Which would seem to make him right except that the President cannot just declare a state of national emergency which will give her the power to take over vital industries, only Congress can give her this power as Article 6, Section 23 which states
"In times of war or other national emergency, the Congress may, by law, authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy. Unless sooner withdrawn by resolution of the Congress, such powers shall cease upon the next adjournment thereof."
So the Congress will have to authorize the President to take over vital industries by passing a law.

Of course, there are no precedents from which we can base any of this opinions. Nothing like this has ever happened before except for the coup attempt of former Senator Gringo Honasan in 1989, and at that time President Aquino asked Congress to declare a State of Emergency and give her additional powers.

Section 3, Paragraph 3 of this law, Republic Act No. 6826 gave President Aquino the power to
"To temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest that violates the herein declared national policy: Provided, however, That to the extent feasible, management shall be retained, under the direction and supervision of the President or her duly designated representative who shall render a full accounting to the President of the operations of the utility or business taken over: Provided, further, That whenever the President shall determine that the further use or operation by the Government of any such public service or enterprise is no longer necessary under existing conditions, the same shall be restored to the person entitled to the possession thereof;"
The Arroyo administration may try to take over industries anyway, without an enabling law from Congress. I actually want them to do so, so that our governmental processes can mature and be strengthened.

Update 4 (9:33 p.m.)

All protest have been dispersed, even the one led by President Aquino. The coup has apparently been effectively foiled. Reaction from various sectors are pouring in, from the U.S., J.P Morgan, the Catholic Church etc. The effects of this episode on the Philippines and the Filipinos will only be felt in the next few weeks but tomorrow, Filipinos, still have to again go on with their lives and it will be more difficult. Whoever is responsible for this, let them accept the responsibility. Let them tell our people, I did this, and I did this because of this reason, whatever their reason is. We deserve that much.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Presidential power

I think Senator Joker Arroyo nailed it when he was quoted stating
"What kind of government is this? You apply (EO) 464 if it is legal and constitutional, not out of emotion,"
This was in reaction to President Arroyo's remarks as that she will lift the EO when
"ground rules of decorum are clarified with both houses of Congress" (PDI and PS)
Thank you Senator Arroyo.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Freedom of Speech

Saw this news about Muslims protesting about cartoons depicting Mohammed in a "bad light" (Correction: it seems that all the fury emanates from a prohibition by the Islamic Religion to depict the Prophet Mohammed in illustrations). I would have ignored it as is my won't most days but it was TV and its hard to ignore such raging fury depicted on screen.

Where did these protesters get such anger?

I then saw the Prime Minister of Denmark apologizing for hurting the feelings of Muslims and it was reported that a newspaper editor was fired for reproducing the cartoons in support of freedom of speech.

So I want to chime in:

The protesters are wrong! And to give in to their stupid demands is wrong. They are acting like bullies and bullies should not be tolerated.

Update (Feb. 4, 2006)

Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars have put up in his blog the source of all this commotion. As you will see, the cartoons are not even that offensive. I think part of the reason, maybe a big part of the reason for the anger in these protests is that the cartoons were published in a European newspaper. People probably felt that their religion is being criticized by people who do not know them and who have no right to criticize. I have felt these same emotions when I see Westerners criticize Philippine culture, I feel, even if they are correct in their criticisms, that they have no right to criticize me and my culture.

But it does not change the fact that they do have the right to criticize me and my culture, it's sometime rude of them to do so, but they are still entitled to their own opinions.

Update (Feb. 5, 2006)

Reading the comments on Mr. Braytons blog, there seem to be basis for my assertion that a lot of the indignation stems from the fact that these images were published by a western country, a comment from tacitus, states
"The irony is that images of Mohammed have been painted, drawn, and printed for hundreds of years. Since this has all blown up people have been posting examples of classical art, book illustrations, and comtemporary commercial art (some of which originates in Tehran of all places!), all containing images of the prophet."
Some of these images can be found at the Mohammed Image Archive. Whose purpose is to be
"an archive of numerous depictions of Mohammed, to serve as a reminder that such imagery has been part of Western and Islamic culture since the Middle Ages -- and to serve as a resource for those interested in freedom of expression."
There is also this wikipedia article on this affair. They translate the explanatory text of the "Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten" (The Newspaper) culture editor on why they have solicited the cartoons. It seems prophetic.
"The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own religious feelings. It is incompatible with contemporary democracy and freedom of speech, where you must be ready to put up with insults, mockery and ridicule. It is certainly not always equally attractive and nice to look at, and it does not mean that religious feelings should be made fun of at any price, but that is less important in this context. [...] we are on our way to a slippery slope where no-one can tell how the self-censorship will end. That is why Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten has invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Muhammad as they see him. [...]"
The actions of these protesters, has just proven this newspaper point with these cartoons.


Found this online comic that I think is apt reading at this time, its titled "Jesus and Mo". You should read the first comic.

This is another article worth reading, from Christopher Hitchens in Slate.