Friday, February 22, 2008

What should President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo do now?

In Metro Manila, the number of students that staged protest actions against along Katipunan avenue, Espana blvd., Taft Ave., and Recto must have reached a thousand or more. Bearing placards and streamers, they expressed their outrage against corruption in the highest office of the land and support for NBN deal whistle blower Jun Lozada.
Metro Manila schools hold noise barrage
Students from various colleges and universities in Metro Manila carried out noise barrage in an effort to encourage those involved in the ZTE-broadband scandal to tell the truth.

The Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College along Katipunan in Quezon City expressed their dismay over MalacaƱang’s alleged cover-up to conceal the truth by using car horns. At the St. Joseph’s College in E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City, an estimated 200 consisting of priests, faculty members and students joined the noise barrage followed by a candle lighting event to support Lozada.

Students of the University of the Philippines meanwhile expressed their support to Lozada with a walkout from their classes. Lozada was warmly welcomed by students during his visit at the UP Malcolm Hall. From the balcony, Lozada delivered a short speech about his testimony "in the name of truth" which aptly applies to the theme of the gathering set by organizers which was for "truth, accountability and reform." A short program was followed by a candle-lighting ceremony to condemn the series of issues against the Arroyo administration.

At the UP Manila campus, students went from room-to-room to encourage other students to join the protest while the White Ribbon Movement and Health Alliance for Truth and Justice tied white ribbons along Taft Avenue. At 6 p.m. around 500 students from De La Salle Manila, College of St. Benilde and St. Scholastica’s College also gathered and used car horns to create noise as they called for the resignation of President Arroyo.

Thomasians also did their part by persuading motorists to join in their noise barrage along EspaƱa. The University of Sto. Tomas will also hold a Mass for Truth scheduled on March 2. However, the turnout on the planned meet among law students from different universities in Metro Manila was less than expected.

People in other provinces of the Philippines have more or less the same sentiments but not much was seen on television last night.

On Monday, a rally in Mendiola is all set to take place. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim has granted permits to rally to various groups following a rule that mass actions would only be permitted in the area on holidays.

Will all of this amount to something more than hoarse voices and weary feet?

It is a romantic notion that the minutes or hours spent marching on the streets bearing placards and shouting on the top of our lungs will somehow fix our broken government.

Protest actions are just the first stage of action towards change as it has the capability of making people aware of the wrongs that are being done. But, assuming that all 80 million Filipinos now know the wrongs and ills of government, what do we do next? Does our quest for change stop when we leave the streets? Do we really have a vision, as a people, of what we want our country to be?

Professor Randy David, in his Saturday column titled 'Bonfire of Institutions',
had begun describing all the things that are going wrong in our country today.

MANILA, Philippines -- Because it is easier to imagine it, corruption has taken center stage in the public’s appreciation of the current national crisis. Against the backdrop of mass poverty, the quantities are truly mind-boggling: $130 million in kickbacks for a government project worth $329 million, a bribe offer of P200 million for a single signature, cash gifts of half a million pesos each for politicians who attend a breakfast or lunch meeting with a President facing impeachment, half a million pesos in pocket money for a government functionary who flies to Hong Kong in order to evade a Senate inquiry, and many more. But it would be a mistake to think this is just about corruption. This is, more importantly, about the long-term damage to a nation’s social institutions.

The damage to government institutions has been the most extensive. Far from being a neutral arbiter of disputes and a source of normative stability, the justice system has become a weapon to intimidate those who stand up to power. Far from being a pillar of public security, the military and the police have become the private army of a gangster regime. Instead of serving as an objective referee in electoral contests, the Commission on Elections has become a haven for fixers who deliver fictitious votes to the moneyed and the powerful. Instead of serving as the steady backbone of public service through successive changes in administration, the government bureaucracy has been turned into a halfway house for political lackeys, misfits and the corrupt. Instead of serving as a check on presidential power, the House of Representatives has become its hired cheering squad.

We know the many things that are going wrong with this country, but do we know or do we even have an idea of how things should be? (Simply figuring out the opposite of each wrong stated will not amount to a vision for our country.)

Supposing, against all probability, that we can get Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to do what we think should be done... What would we tell her to do?

Do we tell her to step down and allow Vice President Noli De Castro to assume the Presidency? Okay. Fair enough. But then what? This is when romanticism meets realism and probably begins to fester into skepticism. (This ain't as sexy as storming the Bastille, my young ones.)

Nevertheless, let's imagine one foreseeable consequence.

Perhaps the order of the day will be to clean up government, probably meaning that people will be fired and new people taken in. (This was done in 1986. Then again in 2001.) Maybe this time around the Secretary of the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman will be the first to go, their replacements would then be tasked to lodge cases against those involved in various government transaction anomalies including the NBN deal. Breakthroughs will be announced at various intervals while the cases go through Sandiganbayan. Gloria, along with the first gentleman, Abalos, Neri, Lozada, DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza, etcetera will be indited.

Joseph Estrada will be smugly issuing statements against Gloria, probably with Senate President Manuel Villar.

Mar Roxas won't be too far away.

Meanwhile, the case will plod on... or meander for five years in various issues of technicalities. Lawyers will have their heyday (and I know a few who will want to make their name from some of the cases that will be lodged.)

Perhaps the Senate and Congress will also try to get into the 'New Deal' spirit of things and brand itself (since ito ang magiging uso) as bastions of the new morality in government. Hahaha!

Anyway... my baby is in need of some fatherly attention. will blog some more when time permits.

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