"O NGAYON, PA'NO NA?"
(A University of the Philippines Public Forum on the Current Political Crisis)
8 July 2005, Friday, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Pulungang Claro M. Recto
Bulwagang Rizal (Faculty Center)
University of the Philippines-Diliman
Gabriel Claudio, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs
Matias Defensor Jr., Representative, 3rd District, Quezon City
Joey Sarte Salceda, Representative, 3rd District, Albay (to be confirmed)
Benjamin Tolosa Jr., Chairperson, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
Joel Rocamora, Executive Director, Institute for Popular Democracy
Wilson Fortaleza, National President, SANLAKAS
Felipe Miranda, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman
Ma. Serena Diokno, Professor, Department of History, University of the Philippines-Diliman
Marvic Leonen, Vice President for Legal Affairs, University of the Philippines
1. What are the solutions to the current political crisis in the Philippines?
2. How will these be implemented?
3. How feasible are these solutions?
4. What is the short-term and long-term impact of the crisis and its supposed resolution to the country’s political institutions and economic conditions, and more importantly, to the people’s trust and confidence in the government necessary in achieving long-term development and stability?
Malaya Ronas, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman
On 27 June 2005, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo addressed the nation on national television apologizing for her “lapse in judgment” in calling a commissioner of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) during the 2004 presidential elections. The act of contrition drew mixed reactions. Unsurprisingly, politicians toed the line as their responses strictly followed partisan interests. The business community was quite remissive, as the President was granted the benefit of the doubt and ample space to make amends and regain her credibility, mainly through “drastic and dramatic reforms.” But the stock market and the foreign exchange are not quite as tolerant. On the other hand, the uproar by various groups for the President’s resignation reverberated even louder, as her apology was received as a case of “too little, too late.”
In addition, there are unresolved issues concerning the First Family’s involvement in the perpetual problem of jueteng payola. And with only four years since the last turmoil that the highest official of the land has created, public perplexity on the solution to this impasse, as well as on the future course of the nation, has reached its apogee.
At present, a cacophony of voices is contributing to this confusion. As the political crisis begins to take its toll on the fragile economy and on the psyche and morale of the people, speculations on the next possible scenario now abound. If Filipinos are forgiving enough, as often stereotyped, then it would be “business as usual.” But with the mounting public outrage, the possibility of such is not forthcoming. On the other hand, despite the President’s statement, there is cynicism on the prospect for the constitutional track, mainly through impeachment. With only a handful of minority congressmen in the House of Representatives, the impeachment complaint could be easily thwarted. Thus, the formation of an independent fact-finding commission that will look into the suspected electoral fraud and its implications is deemed desirable. Nonetheless, questions on the composition of the commission and the enforceability of its decision cast doubt on this option. In contrast, a large number of groups are fervent on addressing the problem through a complete overhaul of the system, not merely through a change in leadership; hence the proposal of a revolutionary transition government. But for now, the type of revolutionary government remains up in the air.
With alternatives still uncertain, the crisis could drag on, to the detriment of the people.
The forum entitled “O Ngayon, Pa'no Na?” aims to:
1. Analyze the viability of the solutions put forward by various sectors;
2. Explain the social, psychological, political, and economic ramifications of the crisis and its purported resolution; and,
3. Provide the academic community an opportunity to make intelligent judgment of the present state of affairs.