Saturday, September 10, 2005


War for the "Middle Road"

Tis the season of war for the middle road, the middle path. As the opposition (Binay, Soliman, Lacson, JV and Jinggoy Ejercito, Cory Aquino, et al) keeps saying: It is a good thing now that we have the middle forces! Now we will definitely succeed.

But the feng shui does not favor their statements and declarations that H.E. The President will be removed from office. On the other hand, the government has not stopped in enjoining the public (to which the middle forces belong) to nurse a fairly broader understanding about the pitfalls of siding with the forces of destabilization.

As far as Babe Romualdez of Philippine Star is concerned, the destabilization groups have not been able to attract the middle forces. This contradicts the claim of the anti-GMA forces.

Thus, the claim of having the middle forces in their side by the purveyors of destabilization is false.

Furthermore, extreme abuse of rhetorics by laying exclusive monopoly to the fight for truth is wearing down the public.

For every one knows, the political enemies of the people are merely out to grab power and if possible, sustain themselves therein until Kingdom come. Something indeed must be too important for them to risk everything, including their souls, just to grab power in the country.

The problem is, they are truly wrong.


What's going on here!

What’s happening to our country?
BABE'S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez
The Philippine Star 09/11/2005

In 1982, the late Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez was ambushed by a group of armed men on his way home. His driver of more than 30 years was killed instantly. As Pelaez was being wheeled into the operating room, he asked Gen. Tomas Karingal, "General, what’s happening to our country?" Today, the same question is being asked by everyone: What is happening to our country? Where are we going? Let’s take one step backward and analyze our situation.

After 14 years under authoritarian rule, we went into the EDSA People Power revolution. Hastily replacing the 1973 Constitution, which was a semi-parliamentary type of system, we installed a new Constitution that was a direct reaction to anything that was Marcos, be it good or bad. The new Constitution’s provisions substantially clipped the powers of the Presidency and of the military to forestall the rise of another authoritarian ruler. This Constitution even offered a vague role for the military with a slashed budget that rendered it impotent. It became known as the Cory Constitution. Sadly, Mrs. Aquino is now rallying against the very constitutional process that legitimately allowed the impeachment charges to be dismissed by the majority. Right or wrong, horse trading is simply an intrinsic part of the system. Businessmen are now calling on Mrs. Aquino and the others to desist from continuing these indignation rallies. These will only cause economic instability bringing greater suffering to more people aggravated by the Oil Crisis.

If we are to follow the process, then perhaps Teddyboy Locsin’s suggestion that another impeachment case be filed next year should be what the Opposition has to start preparing for. This time, as Teddyboy – who is a known Cory Boy – correctly pointed out, it should be more carefully studied instead of planning to recreate another People Power scenario. It looks like the EDSA crowds aren’t going to get larger anyway. As a matter of fact, a lot of people are beginning to resent the use of EDSA for these indignation rallies like the one last Wednesday evening. Compounded by the rain, many suffered from the gridlock with people shouting, "Tama na, Lumang Tugtugin Na!" Many of our tired employees complained to me the next day that it took them five hours to get home that night. A strong indication that people are just tired of politicians singing the same tune on a discordant note.

As I said, any public figure should plan the time and place for an exit. Perhaps, Mrs. Aquino should consider planning her exit from center stage on a high note before her stature is diminished. Just the same, if by some remote possibility People Power comes into play again, military analysts are saying the armed forces will take power for themselves this time around. They have learned from the past. Ironically, Mrs. Aquino always abhorred the military. She endured six serious coup attempts during her term.

Other People Power figures like FVR are more pragmatic. They’re advocating for Charter Change and would rather see this country move forward instead of sliding back to the glory days of past People Power. To paraphrase Santayana – "Those who never learn from mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat it." Another EDSA 1 veteran, Juan Ponce Enrile pointed out the other day that People Power, especially the last one, has set the country back 10 years. We should instead strengthen democratic institutions, change the system that allows patronage politics, and effect a "Garci-free" electoral system. Economically, China and Vietnam are already leaving us behind. Now Cambodia is fast catching up and before we know it we’ll be the lowest on the totem pole. Instead of Economic Power, we persist in People Power.

As I’ve said, EDSA 2 has created greater and deeper divisions in the country. Joseph Estrada was democratically elected but was deposed by another People Power. And let’s face it, Erap’s removal created a bad precedent. With Erap ending in detention, do we seriously think GMA will gladly follow suit? We can expect her to hang tough and avoid the disgrace at all costs. Various political groups and the so-called Civil Society have conveniently exploited the rich versus the poor theme. The sad part is Civil Society has turned into a mixed bag of conflicts.

A member of Civil Society – and I heard it with my own ears – arrogantly said that it would be heroic for GMA supporters to cheat in the elections because FPJ "should not win at all costs." Now you see them locking arms with FPJ’s widow. You know there’s something wrong with the picture or are we missing something here? One day they’re protesting against Erap, now they’re screaming for GMA to resign. This is an absolute contradiction! Take for instance the Civil Society ringleader Dinky Soliman. Last year, she was crying because she was about to lose her Social Welfare Cabinet post to Noli de Castro. This year, she advised GMA to apologize on TV and led the Cabinet in serenading GMA with "If We Hold On Together". A few days later, she demanded GMA’s resignation calling her boss evil. A couple of weeks later, Dinky did a beso-beso with GMA in pleno publico telling the media she and GMA care for each other. What do you call that – Dinky Do or Dinky Don’t?

No country can perhaps claim to be the same as the Philippines. Yet Filipinos, when they are in a different kind of system or government, flourish. They follow the rules. Those who are against Charter Change argue that changing the people is more fundamental than changing the system. But we have changed leaders so many times and nothing has changed so I daresay, it is the system that can change the people. We have to remember – as our friend Rob Sears of the American Chamber pointed out – it took the United States more than 150 years and 21 constitutional amendments to develop a system that worked well for Americans. The American experiment has evolved but it is by no means complete. We need to adapt a system customized to the Filipinos’ peculiar emotions, psyche, and mentality. In short, it should be an "Only in da Pilipins" kind of Constitution.

Instead of looking back and trying to relive the glory days of the past People Power – we must now look forward to the glorious days ahead and whether we like it or not – with La Gloria. We must start the process of changing the system and the Constitution for the better. As FVR said, when I bumped into him at a cocktail reception the other night, the window of opportunity is now and we need to follow a timeline. We are at a crossroads. We either act to change or improve the charter that is best suited for this country or we can continue to plod along with the present system slowly sliding back to the past and be doomed to perdition.
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E-mail: babeseyeview


Solving the Debt Crisis

World’s lawmakers back RP debt relief proposal
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star 09/11/2005

NEW YORK CITY — Speakers of parliaments from all over the world endorsed yesterday a Philippine proposal for an innovative global debt-for-equity conversion program that would free up trillions of dollars in debt service funds in about 100 poor countries for their development.

At the end of the three-day Summit of Speakers of Parliaments of the World at the United Nations here, the parliament heads made a declaration in which they vowed to push financial programs that would help impoverished countries attain the UN Millennium Development Goals of cutting poverty in half by 2015.

They also committed to fight international and homegrown terrorists.

Sen. Sergio Paez Verdugo, president of the International Parliamentary Union, told the world conference of Speakers that he would include the Philippine debt proposal in the agenda of the IPU executive council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland next month.

The endorsement of the Manila proposal came minutes after Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. addressed the conference, telling his colleagues that the grant of massive large-scale debt relief to poor countries was "an idea whose time has come."

He said under the Philippine proposal, rich nations and multilateral financing institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank would convert half of their debt receipts into equity in development projects in poor countries.

"We plead neither for debt forgiveness, debt cancellation, debt moratorium nor debt discounts. Our proposal requires no new monies from parliaments or governments of the rich countries. Nor do we envision any reduction or loss of face value in the creditors’ financial assets," he said.

De Venecia said the debt receipts would be plowed back as equity investments in such projects as irrigation, food production, housing, transportation, energy development, infrastructure and micro-finance.

He stressed that unless large sums of funds are made available to poor nations, these countries have no hope of accomplishing the UN Millennium Development Goals of cutting poverty in half in 10 years or even making a significant progress in attaining this objective.

De Venecia informed his listeners that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, and Asian Development Bank president Harukiro Kuroda have already endorsed the Manila debt relief proposal.

Among the parliament heads listening to him on the last day of the conference was Speaker Pierre Ferdinando Casini of the Italian Parliament, who is a good friend of De Venecia and whose country is a huge creditor.

He said Annan, in endorsing the idea, told him that it could unlock funds for "sustainable development activities that are key to achieving the (UN) Millennium Development Goals."

He said Annan urged the Philippine government to "consider utilizing the forthcoming World Summit (next week) to bring to the attention of world leaders the proposal."

President Arroyo is attending the summit next Wednesday. She will preside over the UN Security Council, of which the Philippines is now the president. She is expected to push for the debt-for-equity proposal.

Next weekend, De Venecia is going to Washington D where he has been invited by the World Bank-International Money Fund to present his novel debt program.

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