Not Surprising

It did not come as a surprise that the Committee on Justice of the Lower House voted 48-2 to junk the fourth impeachment complaint against President Arroyo. It would also not come as a surprise if the Arroyo government forces charter change to its completion. But the Filipino people may yet spring a surprise.


The fourth impeachment complaint against Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is as good as dead after the Committee on Justice (another misnomer like its counterpart in the executive branch) voted 42-8 to junk it for insufficiency in substance. Again for the 4th time, Rep. Edcel Lagman delivered the death knell, couched in legalese. But this time he did it against his former boss and in the service of his new benefactor. Former House Speaker Jose de Venecia summed up the basis for the rejection in one statement, “Everybody is for sale”. Thus, it would no longer be a surprise if the plenary of the Lower House approves again the recommendation of the Committee on Justice.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz summed it up more eloquently when he wrote in his blog, “This distorted value system of many national and local public officials is precisely what makes the Philippines now a pathetic Country and what makes the Filipinos today a pitiful people. This tyranny of ‘Numbers Game’ is by itself an intrinsically flawed socio-political principle whereby the majority and the minority are eventually the oppressor and oppressed, respectively.”

“Thinking that the validity of an Impeachment Complaint depends on a numerical count of those who vote on the veracity or falsity of the said content and spirit, merely on the ground of political alliances, simply in view of beneficial considerations is the avid shaping of perversion and the downright making of perverts.”

Indeed, what was exhibited again in the processing of the impeachment complaint is the tyranny of the majority over the minority in the Lower House. But what the majority in the Lower House did was to impose the will of the few in the ruling clique over the majority of the Filipino people who are demanding for the truth and who are dissatisfied and distrustful of the Arroyo government.

Archbishop Cruz called what happened as “perversion” and the making of “perverts”. In this news magazine’s previous analysis, this author called it a corruption and debasement of government and its institutional processes. But perversion seems to be quite an appropriate word to stress the fact that there are a very few people comprised of the Macapagal-Arroyo family and their minions who benefit from the concealment of the truth and the perpetuation of the Arroyo government in power. And these few people are isolated from the rest of the population.

These very same people are now working frantically to pull off their next crime: amending the 1987 Constitution for their self-serving ends.

What gains would the Filipino people achieve if the Arroyo government succeeds with their charter change maneuverings at this time? None.

And what does the Arroyo government stand to gain? Everything.

In terms of the political amendments, it could, at the minimum, extend the terms of the President and other ‘elected’ government officials for a year or so, as what was contained in the resolution being proposed by Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas; or they could extend the tenure of government officials; or remove the limits on the number of terms allowed by the Constitution. Another option is to shift to a parliamentary form of government, which effectively gives Pres. Arroyo the opportunity to run again as Member of Parliament and be elected by her party as Prime Minister or President depending on what model would be used, the British or the French.

What would the Filipino people gain from this? More years of suffering under the Arroyo government.

What does the Arroyo government stand to gain? It would have more years of cornering government contracts and dipping their hands into the nation’s coffers. More importantly, it would protect the Macapagal-Arroyo family from any suit, especially with the long list of corruption scandals and human rights violations it was involved in.

The Arroyo government made the mistake of running after its predecessor, in its haste to legitimize its hold on to power. A no-no among the ruling elite, it convicted its predecessor Joseph Estrada on charges of plunder on the basis that the former president cornered jueteng (illegal numbers game) money and the collections from the tobacco excise tax, and that he opened an account under a false name Jose Velarde.

What Estrada took was loose change compared to the $329 million National Broadband Network deal with ZTE, the P728 million fertilizer scam, the overpriced Macapagal boulevard, the IMPSA contract, the NorthRail project, as well as the other corruption scandals involving the Arroyo government. And what about the Jose Pidal accounts?

What would the Filipino people gain with the removal of provisions protecting human rights in the 1987 Constitution? More injustices, human rights violations, and suppression of civil liberties.

What does the Arroyo government stand to gain? More weapons to attack the people’s rights, to perpetuate itself in power, and protection from class action as well as criminal suits from victims of human rights violations and their relatives.

The Arroyo government has all the reasons to fear a class action suit, similar to that filed by the victims of Martial Law against the Marcos family, and most probably a criminal suit as well, if and when it steps down from power because of the broad international condemnation it received due to the political killings, enforced disappearances, labor rights violations as well as other human rights abuses; the findings of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston pointing to the culpability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group, and the counterinsurgency program of the Arroyo government dubbed “Oplan Bantay Laya” in the perpetration of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and suppression of rights of the Filipino people; the decisions of the Appellate Court castigating the government for human rights violations such as in the arbitrary arrest and torture of Pastor Berlin Guerrero and the enforced disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño, and Manuel Merino; and the recent decision of the UN Committee on Human Rights, which found that the Arroyo government violated the right to life of Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy, and the right to redress of their families.

What would the Filipino people gain with the further liberalization of the economy, especially the removal of limits regarding foreign equity and the prohibition against land ownership by foreign corporations? More plunder of the country’s wealth and natural resources by companies that would no longer be limited by service agreements and concessions. As it is, mining companies have already done a lot in terms of extracting the country’s minerals and in the process, destroying the country’s forest cover and polluting our rivers. Logging companies are already operating with impunity causing massive landslides. And plantations have been causing health hazards to its employees and surrounding communities with their extensive use of chemicals as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. What more if these are liberalized? Added to this, we could expect more landgrabbing as the government and the ruling elite scamper for profits from selling the country’s alienable and inalienable lands.

Also, as it is, the Arroyo government’s liberalization, deregulation, and privatization policies have already wreaked havoc on the lives of the Filipino people by making the country more vulnerable to speculative and plunder attacks by giant foreign monopoly corporations. In fact, advanced capitalist countries are already veering away from the deregulated and liberalized regime under the era of globalization. And the Arroyo government is pushing for more liberalization!

What does the Arroyo government stand to gain from the further liberalization of the economy with the removal of the remaining constitutional provisions protecting the country’s patrimony? More government contracts.

It would not come as a surprise if the Arroyo government, through its minions in the Lower House led by no less than Arroyo’s son Mikey, forces charter change to its completion.

It would also not come as a surprise if this meets the wall of the people’s resistance.

Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita, who, perhaps, was jumping the gun on the possible groundswell of protests the junking of the impeachment complaint could generate, was quoted as saying, “Let’s not encourage such a talk…. Ang mahalaga ay ating bigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating sistema (let us allow the system) to work properly in accordance with existing laws so that we can resolve our issues properly without having to resort to extrajudicial means.”

But the problem is, with their acts of “perversion”, they never did.(

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