Friday, June 05, 2009

What in the World is Going On with Conass?

If there was anything I took from the Ateneo Forum yesterday, (there wasn't anything new because the speakers' talking points are already online), it was that we need to inform ourselves and each other about what precisely is going on. If you do not understand any of the terms - there's WIKIPEDIA!

To start with, I think the Akbayan Execom statement is a lucid, easy to understand summary what HR1109 is and what is at stake.

Former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman lays down four scenarios now circulating through emails. She also mentioned these in yesterdays' forum:

Scenario 1: House of Representative (HOR) will set the rules and procedures and proceed to amend the constitution acting now as a Constituent Assembly. After a period of time they bring the amended constitution to COMELEC to request for a plebiscite. A case is brought to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court decides that a Senate less CONASS is valid. Plebiscite continues, it is a yes victory and the election of May 10, 2010 is an election for a parliamentary form of government. GMA runs on a district in Pampanga. She wins and becomes eventually the Prime Minister.This scenario assumes that the outraged and protest from the citizenry is weak.

Scenario 2: HOR convenes as a constituent assembly; a case is filed in the Supreme Court and SC declares that Congress is a bicameral body therefore the Senate is needed. Election fever catches up.A presidential election is held in May 10, 2010.This scenario assumes that there is significant citizen's lobby to stop CONASS and chahcha. The citizen's actions is a major influence in the assessment and judgement of the justices in the Supreme Court.

Scenario 3: HOR convenes as a constituent assembly, there is building outrage from the citizens and more street actions are undertaken.Malacana ng rides on the anger of the people and organizes violent incidents that will then be the basis for emergency rule. This scenario assumes that citizen's actions are not organized and disciplined which creates the conditions for infiltration and manipulated violence from the enemies of democracy.

Scenario 4: HOR convenes as a constituent assembly; a case is filed in the Supreme Court, the debate and deliberation in the Supreme Court takes a long time and it gets overtaken by election on May 10, 2010. GMA runs for Congress in Pampanga she wins, the administration candidates win too. They get the Supreme Court go ahead and convenes a Constituent Assembly, converts Congress into a parliament and GMA is elected as Prime Minister. This scenario assumes that the 2010 election is dominated by the allies of GMA and her candidates wins. This scenario assumes that transactional politics was the dominant practice and cheating, vote buying and killing will be the norm in the election of 2010. This means the citizen's action was weak and we failed to educate and mobilize active citizenship.

And here is the transcript of Father Bernas' interview with Mike Enriquez the other day. Yesterday, while he said there isn't anything to do at this point (legally that is), he said that HR1109 was really something of an "announcement" that the constitution was going to be violated. That is, it hasn't been violated yet.

Here you will find Joel Rocamora's flowchart of what could happen from now on. Also you will read what political analyst Mon Casiple has to say.

Lastly, chills went down my spine when I read Raissa Robles' take on the matter. She outlines the moves Gloria Arroyo has taken so far.

The Arroyo administration rushed to bring home former police Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II. He is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines Thursday morning. The haste to resolve a nine-year old double murder case seems inexplicable.

One possible explanation: Mancao will blame the deposed president Joseph Estrada and his key aide, Senator Panfilo Lacson.

When this happens, government will file a murder case against Estrada and order his arrest. Given Estrada's popularity, he and his followers could resist this. Remember that in 2001, when the deposed president was arrested for plunder, his followers mounted a bloody assault on Malacañang Palace.

A similar incident now could be an ostensible reason for Mrs. Arroyo to declare a state of emergency or martial rule. During that period, Congress (which is mostly in Mrs. Arroyo's pocket), would not be abolished. In fact, because it had already conveniently declared itself a constituent assembly, it could be used to propose amendments ostensibly to remedy the emergency. It would see the creation of a new order.

As for the military trying to assert its role to protect and defend the Constitution, last May a changing of the guards took place. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Alexander Yano retired prematurely and gave way to his classmate, Lieutenant General Victor Ibrado. More significantly, Arroyo's most trusted general, Delfin Bangit, became head of the biggest bulk of the military, the 70,000-strong Army.

And when Ibrado retires early next year or even this year, Bangit, the former head of the Presidential Security Group, is widely expected to assume the top post. It's the closest thing to Marcos' General Fabian Ver.

It has been five years since the Hello Garci tapes came out. Some of you may have been too young to understand what was happening then. But in the last five years we have let slip far too many scandals, their stink tracing back all the way to Malacanang. Some may say we are needlessly sowing fear. But surely, it is better to err on the side of caution.

This administration has been daring, encouraged by the lack of push back from the citizenry. The coming days and weeks there will be calls for rallies from various sectors and various fora will be held. Go with your friends and listen to what people have to say.

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