Arroyo’s ‘strong republic’

Standard

That the Philippine State is weak has long been noted, discussed, dissected, and recognized, and not only in political science classrooms and studies. Ordinary citizens who have had to deal with government but who end up relying on fixers know it firsthand, though they may not have a name for it. What is obvious is that in many cases parallel structures exist alongside those of the State, undermining them and doing what they’re supposed to do outside the rules.

The most glaring expression of State weakness, however, occurs at the highest levels of government, where even the most crucial decisions are not made on the basis of sound policies and principles but on that of personal, familial and class interests. Continue reading

Ideological homogeneity

Standard

As this column was being written (Sunday, July 21), the administration bloc at the Senate already had Sen. Robert Jaworski’s vote in its pocket. Jaworski, in short, is likely to have broken as of yesterday, when Congress convened, the nearly two-month deadlock at the Senate, 11-13, in favor of the administration.

Jaworski’s crossover alone would not stabilize administration control over the Senate. However, the pending appointment of Blas Ople as secretary of foreign affairs, and Vicente Sotto III’s already announced appointment to “oversee” the creation of the Dangerous Drugs Board could lead to a more than fair assurance that there will be no immediate challenge either to Franklin Drilon’s leadership nor to the administration’s control of key Senate committees.

Continue reading

State of the administration

Standard

Monday is SONA or State of the Nation Address day. As in the past, the occasion of the President’s report to the nation as Congress convenes will be the lightning rod for protests.

Last year thousands of protesters massed on Quezon City’s Commonwealth Avenue to demand, among others, wage increases across the board for the country’s workers, but were prevented from coming within earshot of the President and legislators as they gathered at the Batasang Pambansa, prompting questions like how committed really was the new government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (it had come to power only six months earlier) to listening to popular grievances, even if those grievances were being expressed under Left leadership.
Continue reading

Shortsighted, as usual

Standard

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has never been more wrong–or has never been as typically shortsighted–in attributing the developing crisis of the Arroyo administration to “nitpicking by the opposition and some sectors of the media.”

These sectors, as well as the civil-society groups and the Left, have “artificially created” the political crisis besetting the Arroyo administration, said CBCP president Archbishop Orlando Quevedo in a statement to the media issued on Sunday. Continue reading

Part of the problem

Standard

Once hopefully thought to be part of the solution, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has beaten all records including Joseph Estrada’s in demonstrating–within less than two years–that she’s part of the Philippine problem.

That problem is bad government and its consequences: mass poverty, injustice and mass misery. The symptoms of that problem are many: inefficient, secretive governance; runaway corruption; rank political opportunism and money politics; failed but nevertheless persistently implemented economic and social policies; foreign dependence.
Continue reading

People’s issues and investigative journalism

Standard

My assignment this afternoon is investigative journalism and people’s issues. Everyone of us here knows what the standards of investigative journalism are, and are familiar with that form. I think what we need is a framework from which to appreciate what it can do for this country. I will therefore start with a review of journalism’s role in society, and more specifically its responsibility, or what I think should be its responsibility, in a society like ours–or to be more precise, in a society in perpetual crisis, where the most fundamental issues of governance, social justice and sovereignty have been begging for solutions for centuries. From there I hope I can go on to the subject assigned to me this afternoon.

Continue reading