Tuesday, February 28, 2006
My fellow e-Mandirigmas,
Last Friday, February 24 – as the nation was preparing to celebrate the freedom we regained at EDSA two decades ago, Ms. Arroyo issued Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of emergency, in response to a military uprising.
In the hours and days that followed, it became evident how GMA intended to implement this presidential decree. We saw the excessive use of police power in dispersing the crowds. And even after the military threat was decisively contained, we saw the warrantless arrests of known opposition leaders, the closure of newspapers, and the barefaced intimidation of media owners and practitioners.
EO 1017 is eerily similar to PD 1081. And the pattern is unmistakably Marcosian. Crackdown on the reds – the public has no love lost for them, anyway. Control media. And prop up the illusion of a new order after the purging.
I’m glad that many, who have been sitting on the fence all this time, saw through the farce and finally came out to take a stand. I saw prominent businessmen, showbiz personalities, and working professionals go to the streets to defy the proclamation.
Sadly, however, there are those who remain unmoved. Worse, they even embrace the GMA propaganda that this is ultimately for the greater good.
I am reminded of 1972 where many in the middle class and the business community actually welcomed the “New Society” of Marcos. They lauded the arrests of known communists; they deserved it, many thought. They didn’t mind reading and watching government-censored news. They didn’t mind the imposition of curfews and the curtailment of some basic rights. All these were a small price to pay in the interest of stability and prosperity, or so they thought.
Until one day, the government began sequestering their businesses. Until one day, they began arresting someone close to home and they realized they had very little legal recourse to protect their rights.
It is time for the business community, the middle class, and all other sectors to make a stand.
Today, we launch the Black Friday Protest Movement to give you an opportunity to be counted with low risk and nominal involvement on your part. All you need to do is, every Friday, you and your friends can wear black, go to a designated place and hang around for about 30 minutes and leave.
How will you know the designated time and place?
Register by sending a blank email to BlackFridayProtest-subscribe
There will be no speeches or programs at the designated place. Just people in black hanging around for a few minutes to be counted. All these are within the bounds of the law, even a repressive one like PD 1017.
The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a season for everything. I believe this is the season for mourning… the death of democracy and the numbing of our national conscience.
It is time to reawaken. It is time to be counted. It is time to say, “tama na! sobra na!” Please register now by sending blank email to BlackFridayProtest-subscribe
By God’s grace, we may yet see a better Philippines for our children.
The Black & White Movement
Monday, February 27, 2006
February 25, our day of liberation.
I woke from fitful sleep in a bad mood. Sleeping in a car for three days can do that to you. The snapping between me and Javy was getting worse. The lack of sleep, "real" food, a constant source of water (sorry, no bottled water then, only water stations peppered along EDSA), and a shower had made us all edgy, too sensitive. We were by then terribly disappointed that Marcos had not left after all, and as dawn broke, rumors were rife that we would all be in terrible danger. But hard news had also reached us - Cory was finally going to be sworn in as President in Club Filipino. That was gratifying to learn, but we were still short-tempered. To relieve the tension, we decided to drive around and reconnoiter the north. Our convoy drove in the direction of MBS 4 (ABS-CBN). We wanted to check out the area, make sure the TV station had enough warm bodies to defend it.
We arrived at the foot of the TV tower on Mother Ignacia shortly before 6am. We were surprised to see that the area directly under the tower was bereft of people. Winnie was upset - where were all the people? As we looked around for answers, one of us spotted a uniformed soldier as he began climbing the tower. We all watched for a while, wondering if he was "one of us". Not long after, we lost interest (my neck hurt from looking up) and just when we were deciding on how to get people to guard the tower, the asphalt exploded about a meter in front of me. I shouted, "he's shooting at us!". All hell broke loose.
My brain shrieked "RUN!!!", but my legs were rooted to the ground. I was too busy trying to process what just happened. I was flabbergasted! How could I have survived almost four days of this tension without thinking that any of us could get hurt? Had I lulled myself into a false sense of security while surrounded by so many others? How stupid of me! Then I was slammed out of abstraction when Tony, Javy's brother, pulled me away by my collar to hide behind a car. After a lull in the shooting, we crawled toward an aluminum shed directly below the tower. Winnie was already there, smoking a cigarette. She asked what took us so long.
At some point, the attention of the shooter focused on EDSA, we could hear the rumble of tanks and the whoosh of a chopper. We made a dash for our cars and hightailed it out of the area. The quiet in the car was deafening as we all tried to understand what had just happened. By the time we reached Ortigas Avenue, we began to talk, and it was clear that dying for our country wasn't a far fetched thought, after all. Not out of bravery, more from out of love.
The crowd around Club Filipino was humongous. After parking, we fought our way through the throng to the heavily secured building entrance. A man at the door to the function room said only Winnie and I could attend the ceremony. We were both livid! We wanted to be with our friends, we had almost died together, for God's sake! The man wasn't about to be cowed. But, with what he thought was a flash of brilliance, he said they needed people to help secure the driveway, and would we do that? Too tired to keep arguing, we agreed. So the dozen or so of us started emptying the driveway of people, shouting hoarsely to them to let the cars through. My only glimpse of Cory was of her getting out of the car and rushing in. I no longer remember if she arrived before Ramos or Enrile, I only remember being shoved around by their RAM companions.
The rest of the day remains a blur for me. I have memories of hearing about the killing of the sniper, that he may have killed some people, while we sat around a grassy area not far from Club Filipino. I was saddened by that. The reality was that it wasn't entirely a bloodless revolution. The radio also reported Marcos' sham inauguration. We couldn't believe it.
We didn't learn about Marcos' leaving till way after. Javy and Winnie woke me up at some point to give me the news. I was too tired to jump for joy. All I wanted to do was go home and have a long hot shower. The euphoria didn't hit me till I arrived in front of my house, I think I laughed and danced a jig. My housekeeper and my dogs seemed relieved to see me. I took that shower, put on my pajamas, and cried like a baby. We were free.
Friday, February 24, 2006
I have notified members of the former ConCom that I dissociate myself from all ConCom activities and will oppose charter change. For I am now fully convinced that Mrs. Arroyo seeks not only to retain her Presidency but to expand her powers through charter change. Article XX, the ConCom transitory provisions, clearly define the strong motivation for Mrs. Arroyo’s determined efforts to get chacha ratified.
Here enclosed are the texts of Secs. 7, 9, and 11 to 13 of Art. XX. Sec. 7, the NO-EL provision, assure that the interim Parliament (2007-2010) will be filled with tried and proven allies, ready to do Pres. GMA’s bidding. The other cited sections, not as widely known, are more disturbing.
In a normal parliamentary system, the head of Government is the Prime Minister. He is elected to that post by his peers, the members of Parliament. Members of the cabinet are MP’s elected by the people. The President’s duties are ceremonial – to open Parliament, dissolve it upon advice of the Prime Minister, greet new ambassadors, be the symbol of national unity as Head of State. Compare those normal parliament’s features with the provisions in Secs. 9, and 11-13.
- Members of her cabinet will not be elected MP’s but appointed by the President. Per sec. 9, 1/3 of them shall become MP’s by her appointment. 30 other persons shall also be appointed MP’s by the President.
- The interim Parliament will elect an interim Prime Minister. But Sec 11 says he will not be the head of government but just a cabinet member. Sec. 12 makes clear he is a mere cabinet member, for the interim prime minister and the cabinet shall function “under the direction and supervision of the incumbent President “
- Sec. 13 states that “in the interim Parliament, the incumbent President shall exercise the powers vested in the Head of State and the Head of government under this Constitution”.
In my interpellation to oppose these provisions in ConCom, I asked if these were not the same powers that Marcos gave himself. Spontaneous answer by sponsor of the provision Raul Lambino - YES.
Secs. 9 and 11-13 should by now have been opposed by Congress, for downgrading the interim Parliament.. But they have not. Developments leave me no doubt GMA herself is pushing these provisions. In a new body to promote chacha, the co-chairs - Attys. Romela Bengzon and Raul Lambino – were main sponsors in ConCom of these onerous sections. The appointment of Cong Puno to DILG, given his well known dagdag bawas and other election distorting skills, further confirms to us that GMA will leave no stone unturned for chacha and Article XX to be ratified by any means.
Vicente T. Paterno
21 February 2006
ARTICLE XX – TRANSITORY PROVISIONS
In Proposed Revision of the Constitution by Consultative Commission
SEC. 7. The elections scheduled in 2007 shall be cancelled and the terms of office of all elective officials shall be extended to
The first elections of Members of the Parliament and the first local elections under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May 2010.
SEC. 9. The Members of the interim Parliament shall be the incumbent members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, at least one-third of the Cabinet, with portfolio, and thirty persons, experienced and experts in their respective fields, shall likewise become members of the Parliament upon appointment by the President.
S.EC. 11. The interim Parliament, by a majority vote of all its members, shall elect an interim Prime Minister. He shall be a member of the Cabinet.
SEC. 12. Under the direction and supervision of the incumbent President; the interim Prime Minister and the Cabinet shall exercise all the powers and functions and discharge the responsibilities of the regular Prime Minister and Cabinet under this Constitution.
SEC. 13. In the interim Parliament, the incumbent President shall exercise the powers vested in the Head of State and the head of Government under this Constitution, except the power to dissolve this Parliament, until the expiration of her term on
In case a vacancy arises by reason of removal, resignation, permanent incapacity or death of the incumbent President, the incumbent Vice-President shall become the President.
- Wednesday, 22 February: The Citizens’ Pilgrimage for Truth & Reforms (U Can’t Con Ass!) will march at 1pm and converge at the People Power Monument from the north (Bantayog, Quezon City), south (via SLEX), and Metro Manila. Program at the People Power Monument starts at 4pm. (DONE!)
- Friday, 24 February: Black & White joins the people of Makati as the city celebrates the People Power Revolution with a march to be led by former Pres. Cory Aquino at 3pm from the Makati City Fire Station to the Ninoy Aquino Statue on Ayala Avenue. A highlight will be the first yellow confetti drop since the famous Makati rallies against Marcos.
- Saturday, 25 February: A Mass to celebrate the 20th anniversary of EDSA I, to be celebrated by Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales and attended by EDSA I veterans led by former Pres. Cory Aquino
We encourage our fellow citizens to participate in these activities that serve as a reminder of the ideals that motivated our people to reclaim and restore their freedom.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Please keep checking this entry for continuous updates on the situation as marchers from all over the country converge on the national capital from the north and the south.
9:47 am Marchers from the North are already being blocked by government forces led Col. Soria and Col. Retirado. The march is being turned back to La Limos, Tarlac.
10:26 am Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and others are attempting to reach the marchers in the North. However, there is heightened concern because the police/military "blocking force" are armed with Armalites and dressed in full battle gear.
10:38 am Rep. Baraquel gives details on ANC: protesters being blocked. Just as she was able to convince Col. Soria to let the Pilgrims through, Col. Retirado appeared and insisted on bringing the protesters back to Banban, Tarlac -with the possible intention of pushing them back all the way to La Union Province. The Pilgrims are being detained in the Banban police station. Rep. Baraquel reiterates that over the past few weeks the activities have of the Pilgrims has been orderly and peaceful and does not justify the massive forces and firepower deployed to impede the march. She also points out that officials have been unable to provide compelling reasons to justify their decision to forbid the continuation of the pilgrimage. The detainees are waiting for Rep. Noynoy Aquino to arrive in Banban.
10:59 am Text message from Caravan participant in Bamban, Tarlac: Naka full battle gear bantay namin, mga 20 sila. May mobile sa harap at sa likod. Mga Armalite ang dala. ("The ones tasked with guarding us are in full battle gear, there are about 20 of them. They have mobiles in front and the rear. They are bearing Armalite rifles").
11:07 am Pilgrim Caravaneers from the South have gotten through! They are currently on the South Luzon Expressway, passing Santa Rosa, Laguna. They are proudly bearing the flags of their various organizations.
11:10 am the Contingent in the South consists of about 200 individuals in 10 jeeps. Among them are the core Pilgrim Caravaneers from Mindanao, the Visayas, and Bicol.
11:27 am Pilgrim Caravaneers are approaching the South Luzon Expressway toll gates, on their way to their EDSA rendezvous with Metro Manila participants gathered near GMA7.
11:42 am Update on the North: Rep. Noynoy Aquino is negotiating with the military escort. Marchers are being brought to San Manuel, Tarlac.
11:59 am Caravan photo! Sent via MMS from the field: South SuperHighway, toll gate area.
12:02 pm North update: Marchers have reached police station of San Manuel. Rep. Aquino "on top of the situation."
12:38 pm Group from the South has converged with Metro Manila marchers on Edsa. In about half an hour, they will begin marching to the People Power Monument. No police so far.
1:37 pm Caravan in Quezon City photos
1:59 pm Here's an Inq7.net report on what happened in the North.
2:06 pm New photo from Quezon City
2:42 pm traffic enforces augmented as groups aim to converge at the People Power Monument.
2:48 pm The ranks of those participating is conservatively estimated at 12,000 people. They are proceeding along Edsa toward the People Power Monument. Latest phoned-in on-the-scene report says 2 phalanxes of policemen are at the Cubao underpass, awaiting the caravan.
2:55 pm Negotiations imminent. Police have erected barricades at the foot of the Boni Serrano Bridge in the vicinity of Camp Crame. Leaders are moving forward to dialogue with the police.
3:00 pm ANC showing live video of marchers along Edsa, occupying one lane beneath the MRT.
3:10 pm Latest photos:
Negotiations with Police (that's Sr. Supt. Balba of the PNP):
3:25 pm Sheila Dionisio of ABS-CBN says the crowd estimate is "nearly 20,000" but the caravan is stuck along Edsa-Santolan as the police refuse to let them go further; dispersal has been mentioned. Negotiations continue. People in the Caravan are handing bunches of yellow flowers to the first and second rows of policemen. The atmosphere remains calm.
3:43 pm Shiela Dionisio updates again. Permission from Gen. Lomibao still being awaited. Barriers were tipped over by Pilgrim-Caravaneers but control was reasserted quickly; the police retreated a bit; much waving of banners and chanting. A fire engine is reported as being on standby "just in case."
Maricar Bautista adds more details about the tipping over of the portable metal barriers; the police have relented: the Caravan can proceed to the People Power Monument, but cannot pass directly on Edsa; they have to travel down a sidestreet. The permission was apparently made possible by People Power Commissioner Pastor "Boy" Saycon calling up Gen. Lomibao. The Pilgrim-Caravaneers are now preparing to resume their journey.
3:52 pm Pia Hontiveros reports from the People Power Monument and says the Anak Mindanao delegation was stuck along White Plains Road but finally let through after 30 minutes of delay (on the pretext they had no rally permit; but Hontiveros says says there's a permit; the police countered that only those already there have a permit, but if you want to join a rally and don't have a permit, then you can't attend!).
3:57 pm The situation on the ground is not "chaos" as Karen Bayhon was saying on ANC.
4:04 pm Ricky Carandang clarifies that the Caravan is a Black & White and Akbayan and associated groups activity. He is in front of Camp Crame, reports the crowd as "large", peaceful, and well-behaved. From Cubao to Santolan cars are not moving on Edsa; thereafter, traffic is moving. Carandang says the people are moving smoothly and represents "an interesting mix". He reports some motorists are rolling down their windows and waving at the marchers, and some honking their horns, others ignoring the events.
4:10 pm Gen. Querol on the line on ANC appeals to Caravan to "stick to the side" because of traffic although he doesn't mention why the police have failed to make traffic control provisions except now, in an ad-hoc manner. He says the crowd estimate is at 3 to 4,000 (in contrast to media reports).
4:35 pm Meanwhile, as thousands march to remember People Power, we see this:
4:46 pm Inq7.net updates its report on the Caravan.
5:10 pm More photos! These were actually sent over an hour ago, but clogged networks meant we could only download them now:
The caravan resumes! Dinky Soliman, Wilson Fortaleza, Rep. Baraquel, Roland Llamas link arms
Gen. Quirol is reported on the news as having said the Caravan has to leave the People Power Monument by 6 pm or face dispersal.
On ANC Ricky Carandang reports the Caravan from Edsa reached the People Power monument about ten minutes ago. The program is ongoing. Police estimates of the crowd, initially at 3 to 4 thousand, have inched upwards to 5 thousand; Dinky Soliman says 20,000 are there. Carandang says a certain Elmo de Leon from the police, in charge of crowd control, says they did not receive instructions to disperse the Caravan at 6 pm.
5:33 pm Dinky Soliman on ANC via cellphone hookup, explaining how the Caravan began its journey on February 1, and why it's wound its way to Metro Manila. Abruptly cut off because of the noise (lots of music!)
6:33 pm Thank you to all those who attended or who were with us in spirit! Here's Agence France Presse's report.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Did I tell you about the fear? By our second evening on EDSA we were suffused with it. I tried not to think about the danger we were in, but the reminders were everywhere. You couldn't run from hearing rumors of impending attack, that loyalist troops were going to mow us down, that Marcos had really lost his marbles and was going to kill us all. We now know that on this third day on EDSA, it almost became reality.
Day Three excitement began very early for us. We were driving south from Ortigas to Makati, that stretch of EDSA was virtually empty of vehicles. It was around 4am. We had six cars in our little convoy, and by this time, we were operating like an army unit (some military influence must have crept in after our experience with the marines). A couple of the cars went ahead to scout around routes to Malacanan. I sat alongside Javy, my teammate, while Winnie Monsod slept in the backseat. How she got there, I don't remember. Javy and I were arguing by then, the exhaustion and stress was beginning to show. We argued about whether to keep on EDSA toward Makati or take the side streets of Guadalupe to get to the Fort Bonifacio area. The argument was settled for us when our radio crackled to life - APCs were on EDSA, moving toward us! We raced down Guadalupe bridge and heard them before we saw them, it was so dark. I remember saying that it sounded like Death was coming toward us.
The two APCs lumbered onto Guadalupe Bridge. Without people around them, they looked huge. Javy hauled his little car over the island to follow them. We drove alongside as I screamed into the radio for our friends to race ahead and warn the folks manning the barricades. The sound of the engines and the tracks on the road was deafening, but Winnie was so out of it, I had to shake her awake. We stared in wonder at the armored cars, the turreted machine guns manned by soldiers in battle fatigues. We began to laugh to help control our adrenalin surge and hide our fear. We stayed close, following till they turned right onto the empty fields (Mega Mall). It was bumpy but we didn't notice. Finally, they stopped and so did we. It was so dark we couldn't see in front of our faces. And you would've missed seeing the APCs parked five feet in front of you if it wasn't for the car's headlights.
From rumbling thunder to dead silence. Three cars faced two APCs. The machine guns were trained on us. There were only around 15 of us, how could we hold this line? After a short wait, Winnie took my hand, we were both shaking. She handed me a couple of sandwiches, I fumbled to hold on to them because I had my rosary in my free hand. The others seemed to take the cue. We slowly moved forward, closer and closer. At some point we started the rosary. I don't remember if I said the prayers, I was so scared. Then, at the end, Winnie and I walked straight up to talk to the soldier manning the machine gun. Winnie offered him a sandwich, and I stupidly asked him if he and his friends would like to join us, they must have been stifling inside that APC (picnic in the dark, anyone?). Without the hint of a smile, he said, "aircon kami sa loob, Ma'am." Well. How was that for an icebreaker?
As dawn started to break, we were joined by more vehicles. It was then that we met Time Magazine's Sandra Burton, we ended up sitting together on the hood of a car while the APCs stood silently. She asked me if I realized what I was doing. I think I said there was nothing else we could do, our backs had been pushed to the wall. She said that what we were doing was admirable, almost miraculous. Weren't we afraid? I said yes, very afraid, but that wouldn't stop us. Then our radios shattered the quiet with news that the area of Libis was in chaos, the people were being teargassed. So these APCs were probably reinforcement or backup, or had orders to do the same. But nothing like that happened. Maybe praying the rosary did help, these soldiers didn't hurt our ragged little group. They just gunned their engines, turned around, and drove back towards Makati, flattening the talahib in their path. It was much later when we learned that a full assault had been planned. There would've been hundreds of dead. There wasn't a soul in that huge mass that didn't think that prayers and faith helped stave off the carnage.
As the day wore on, news filtered back to us that MBS4 had been taken over by the rebels and barricades of people were beginning to form. I personally felt elated by the news. My father lost his Program Director job with ABS-CBN the day Marcos declared Martial Law. We didn't know if the Lopezes would ever get the station back, but just in case, my Dad helped the faithful engineers and staff hide the OB vans at his house on Times Street not far from Cory Aquino's. My stepmother was livid. The vans' tires made deep ruts in the little garden, there wasn't enough driveway.
Later that evening, we heard that Marcos had left. Oh joy! We were dancing on the streets, laughing and crying, all half a million of us. People began to allow exhaustion to take over, started making for home. But alas, hopes were dashed when Radyo Bandido frantically made the call to return. It was a hoax. The Dictator was still "in the house".
Saturday, February 18, 2006
We spent a lot of that first night near the Mormon Church on White Plains Road. There was so much open space, talahib dominated the expanse, and among them we picked out spots to go potty (portalets were unheard of then). There were no street lights, and the dark made everything look more sinister. People spoke in hushed tones as some slept on the sidewalks or listened to Radyo Veritas (or was it Radyo Bandido by then?). Those of us who were awake jumped at every sound we heard, our ears tried to make up for our lack of sight. It didn't help that every half hour or so someone would come over and report that Marcos loyalist troops were trying to sneak in via Blue Ridge or from the area that is now Ortigas Center. At some point we heard that Ramos had moved to Crame. One guy earned our collective ire when he suggested we make molotov cocktails. A nun almost boxed his ears. We relaxed a bit when we heard someone snore.
Our second day on EDSA was unlike any Sunday we'd ever experienced. None of us had had much sleep, if at all, but thankfully, it was fabulous weather wise - you could sleep in comfort under the stars because it was so cool, and the days weren't as warm as they are now. Apart from bathroom facilities, the other problem then was food. Although the restaurants in Green Hills were open, most us didn't want to stray too far away. Besides, our cars were used as barricades. But it wasn't long before someone we'd never met before offered us something to eat and drink. There were so many people by then, we heard at least 250,000. So many people, but not a single person lost their valuables to a thief.
Around lunch time, we noticed a fighter plane in the sky while we milled around the area in front of Crame. The crowd let up a big roar, everyone waved to the plane as it buzzed overhead, doing slow, downward circles. Then we all fell silent when we realized that we didn't know if the pilot was friend or foe. See, we didn't have access to mobile phones and not everyone had radios, so we got news the old fashioned way - by inaccurate word of mouth. By then, we'd heard we were going to be bombed or attacked, that loyalist troops were coming for us. That epiphany silenced us, made us all think - fight or flight? Guess you know the answer.
It must've been mid-afternoon when we heard the choppers while we were hanging around the corner of EDSA and Ortigas. They came from the south, and on the ground I think there were military trucks that arrived as well as some tanks and APCs. Buses were used to "strengthen" our barricades. Instead of running from the Hueys and tanks, we all moved toward them, some of us shouting to be calm, but with trembling voices. The courage of the folks around me was enough to give me some. I remember having to suppress my sense of self-preservation as I walked toward what my brain screamed was danger. We watched as the choppers landed (around where Robinson's Galleria is now) and the soldiers started jumping out. They were joined by others from the trucks, forming a defensive circle around the Hueys. We took a silent cue and surrounded them. My friends and I found ourselves looking at these battle-hardened souls (we learned later they were Marines flown in from Mindanao), and my heart went our to the soldier in front of me. He looked so very tired, His uniform had safety pins for buttons, and he was wearing slippers. We tried to talk to them, they muttered one word answers. Then, it began. Someone had flowers and she started to give them to the soldiers. More flowers appeared as if out of nowhere, and as we received them we offered them to the soldiers. Some of us put daisies in rifle barrels if their owners refused to take them. All the while, our hearts beat wildly. The nuns and priests kept up the rosary, it helped calm us. Then a tank revved its engine and tried to move forward, but without hesitating, we held our ground, many sitting on the ground, right in the tank's path. We pressed closer, finally all the tanks were engulfed by people. I noticed a lot of the men were crying, the women just hardened their hearts and stood pat.
After that little episode, we walked toward the camps to let off some adrenalin and calm ourselves. I am not sure if this was when I first saw Gringo and the RAM. I seem to remember that at some point, Enrile crossed from Aguinaldo to Crame. The soldiers looked tough, they were much better dressed than the marines we'd just encountered. And they wore these patches, upside down Philippine flags. A lot of the girls found them attractive.
As night fell, we decided that it was time to take the cars to find proper bathrooms (we hadn't showered, but we felt much cleaner after brushing our teeth) and do a little reconnaissance. Ketly (friends of June Keithley call her that) was by then busy on Radyo Bandido. Through her reports we heard about all the "celebs" that were on the streets with us. From Nora Aunor to Freddie Aguilar. It was nice to know my show biz colleagues were out in force. By then it really didn't matter who was there. We were all there together.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Next week will be filled with activities concerning the 20th anniversary of EDSA I. The events will be spearheaded by many groups in varying degrees, the most lackluster being put together by the People Power Commission. Go figure. Maybe it’s because many of the new members have no real connection to such an historical event. The other reasons are obvious. Inspired by Edwin Lacierda’s memories of EDSA I, here is my recollection of Day One:
The 22nd of February 1986 was a Saturday. As members of NAMFREL Makati, our group of about a dozen (6 cars, a driver plus navigator for each made a whole team), we were fresh from having experienced the most disappointing election ever. After witnessing blatant cheating, the walkout of our computer volunteers from La Salle, Noel Trinidad’s kids beaten up by goons in Makati City Hall, sitting on ballot boxes with nuns to keep the soldiers away for days, and missing Valentine’s Day, we were all pretty much biting at the bit to do something.
Cory Aquino had just called for civil disobedience and we were meeting in Winnie Monsod’s house in Dasmariñas Village to decide on just how to do that. It was around 4pm. At some point, Winnie was called away to the phone (mobile phones were non-existent then, only VHS radios). Her face was grey when she returned – Betty Go Belmonte had just told her that Enrile and Ramos had holed themselves up in Camp Aguinaldo and needed help. Winnie sent me across the street to Enrile’s house to confirm that he wasn’t there. I ran back to report that the guard in a balaclava and fatigues with bullets crisscrossing his chest, holding a huge machine gun, had just said no one was home. That was enough evidence for me.
The group sprang into action. Some were assigned to man phones, others to buy food (we’d been told the guys in Aguinaldo had no food). My teammate Javy and I were sent to pick up Christian Monsod and Joe Con from the RFM building and drive them to Villa San Miguel for a meeting with Cardinal Sin. It was frustrating for me and Javy to wait outside (we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes) while Christian and Joe helped the Cardinal prepare his call to the streets as Winnie screamed from our radios that we should hurry, force Cardinal Sin to go on radio - now! Finally, the men came out and we raced back to Makati where we met up with the rest of our group. Then our convoy hightailed out of Makati with all the stuff that had been bought – bread, rice, soft drinks, “zesto”, canned goods, but no can opener!
We reached the Boni gate of Aguinaldo just as General Balbanero himself was closing it. Two of my friends rushed in. I tried to follow, but General Balbanero blocked me. That’s where I stayed for the next few hours, slowly being surrounded by bodies and pushed hard against the bars. While there, we ferried bags of rice, loads of food over our heads into the hands of waiting soldiers on the other side as the foreign press blinded us with their flashbulbs. The press seemed bewildered, shouting questions at us, asking what exactly it was we were doing. Someone said we were protecting the soldiers inside. A few of them smiled and shook their heads. Armida Siguion-Reyna fought her way to my side at around 10pm, begging to be let in. I really felt for her then, she was sobbing, and screamed at the general to let her be with her brother. He finally opened the gate a crack to let her through.
The crowd on Boni was quite large by midnight. My two friends made their way back to the gate with news that both Enrile and Ramos were fine, but if anyone betrayed fear, it was only Enrile. They had witnessed the press conference with both men and updated us on the situation. At about 2am, my friends and I decided we needed air, so we made our way through the throng and walked to EDSA. What a sight! There were thousands of people on the street! They had heard the call, and without question, flowed out onto EDSA. It was a heady moment. I cried.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
We would like to reprint the Makati Business Club's take on Charter Change. It is informative and gives us a look into how the corporate community is viewing the subject: MBC believes that a change in the form of government from Presidential to Parliamentary is a serious matter that must not be rushed into for the political convenience of a few. Thus, MBC advocates that a Constitutional Convention be convened to consider the matter from a long term perspective of what is in the best interest of the nation in an atmosphere of calm deliberation. A parliamentary system requires certain prerequisites such as a strong, disciplined, and principled political system which does not exist currently and which will take tine to develop. It must be noted that under a parliamentary system, the executive and legislative powers are fused in a parliament giving the Prime Minister more extensive powers than the President now enjoys under our Constitution. Moreover, the checks and balances present in the presidential form will be lost, concentrating too much power in the hands of transactional type politicians. There is no need to throw out the whole Constitution, when a few amendments will suffice. We recommend the following: (1) The President’s and Vice President’s term be limited to four years, with one re-election allowed as in the past. (2) The President and Vice President should come from the same party. (3) Revert to the two party system and pass measures that will penalize turncoatism. (4) If a multiparty system is maintained, then a run-off election for President and Vice President must be provided when none of the candidates achieve a clear majority. (5) The provisions or restrictions on economic activities should be removed from the Constitution and made a matter of law that Congress can amend, revise or repeal as the need arises to meet changing conditions and global competition. The issue of the integrity of the electoral results and the legitimacy of the President are separate from the question of Constitutional amendments and should thus be addressed accordingly. First, the search for the truth behind the “Hello Garci” tapes should be pursued relentlessly and resolved. The failure to resolve this and establish a new standard of ethics among political candidates and the COMELEC may result in a free-for-all, no-holds-barred unethical open line of communication between the COMELEC and candidates in future elections which may put all electoral results under an even bigger cloud of doubt. Second, the means by which to address the issue of the legitimacy of the President and the connection to the “Hello Garci” tapes are already established in the current Constitution. For instance, the genuine pursuit of an impeachment complaint filed by the proper parties and given due course in Congress is one such way of putting a closure to the issue. Third, there should be electoral reforms and sweeping change in the COMELEC accompanied by the immediate release of the Ombudsman’s findings in the case filed against the Comelec officials responsible for the failed automation of the electoral process. In the light of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring the aforesaid automation contract null and void and the recent call by the Senators for the incumbent Chairman and Commissioners, except Justice Brawner, to resign, we urge them to do so out of delicadeza. In closing, we take a very strong and unequivocal stand against the “no election” proposal originally submitted by the Consultative Commission. We are against the deferral or cancellation of any scheduled election. The move is immoral, undemocratic and unconstitutional and illustrates a frame of mind which would be disastrous in a parliamentary form of government.
MBC believes that a change in the form of government from Presidential to Parliamentary is a serious matter that must not be rushed into for the political convenience of a few. Thus, MBC advocates that a Constitutional Convention be convened to consider the matter from a long term perspective of what is in the best interest of the nation in an atmosphere of calm deliberation.
A parliamentary system requires certain prerequisites such as a strong, disciplined, and principled political system which does not exist currently and which will take tine to develop. It must be noted that under a parliamentary system, the executive and legislative powers are fused in a parliament giving the Prime Minister more extensive powers than the President now enjoys under our Constitution. Moreover, the checks and balances present in the presidential form will be lost, concentrating too much power in the hands of transactional type politicians.
There is no need to throw out the whole Constitution, when a few amendments will suffice. We recommend the following:
(1) The President’s and Vice President’s term be limited to four years, with one re-election allowed as in the past.
(2) The President and Vice President should come from the same party.
(3) Revert to the two party system and pass measures that will penalize turncoatism.
(4) If a multiparty system is maintained, then a run-off election for President and Vice President must be provided when none of the candidates achieve a clear majority.
(5) The provisions or restrictions on economic activities should be removed from the Constitution and made a matter of law that Congress can amend, revise or repeal as the need arises to meet changing conditions and global competition.
The issue of the integrity of the electoral results and the legitimacy of the President are separate from the question of Constitutional amendments and should thus be addressed accordingly.
First, the search for the truth behind the “Hello Garci” tapes should be pursued relentlessly and resolved. The failure to resolve this and establish a new standard of ethics among political candidates and the COMELEC may result in a free-for-all, no-holds-barred unethical open line of communication between the COMELEC and candidates in future elections which may put all electoral results under an even bigger cloud of doubt.
Second, the means by which to address the issue of the legitimacy of the President and the connection to the “Hello Garci” tapes are already established in the current Constitution. For instance, the genuine pursuit of an impeachment complaint filed by the proper parties and given due course in Congress is one such way of putting a closure to the issue.
Third, there should be electoral reforms and sweeping change in the COMELEC accompanied by the immediate release of the Ombudsman’s findings in the case filed against the Comelec officials responsible for the failed automation of the electoral process. In the light of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring the aforesaid automation contract null and void and the recent call by the Senators for the incumbent Chairman and Commissioners, except Justice Brawner, to resign, we urge them to do so out of delicadeza.
In closing, we take a very strong and unequivocal stand against the “no election” proposal originally submitted by the Consultative Commission. We are against the deferral or cancellation of any scheduled election. The move is immoral, undemocratic and unconstitutional and illustrates a frame of mind which would be disastrous in a parliamentary form of government.In sum, let us not mix issues which only serves to cause more confusion and distract attention away from our current crisis. The quest for truth must continue and have priority while the search for Constitutional amendments must be pursued separately with care and deliberation.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Juan Miguel Luz
Department of Education
The appeal I filed before the Civil Service Commission was intended to challenge two phrases the Office of the President has used recklessly in my case and those of other career executive service officers: “you serve at the pleasure of the President” and “in the exigency of the service.”
The facts of the case are simple:
• The Office of the President (OP) asked the Department of Education (DepED) to move a President Social Fund (PSF) grant through the department in a questionable transaction to a congressman. I initially objected but eventually complied subject to certain conditions the grantee (the congressman) had to abide by. (He never did.)
• The OP then asked DepED to move more PSF funds to the same congressman in what was a prohibited (and therefore illegal) transaction (i.e. the use of post-dated cheques). In this instance, I refused and returned the cheques to Malacanang on September 9, 2005 (a Friday).
• On first working day after, the OP tried to terminate me as undersecretary since “I serve at the pleasure of the president”. The CSC Chair informed Malacanang that I was a career executive service officer (CESO) and could not be terminated without cause as per the law.
• Not able to terminate me, the OP then informed me of my transfer from DepED (which has a shortage of undersecretaries) to a department (DOLE) which had no opening for undersecretary “in the exigency of the service”.
• I filed my appeal before the CSC to contest the transfer and went on official leave from the DepED (as per CSC rules).
The argument of the appeal was straightforward: For refusing to undertake a prohibited (and therefore illegal) transaction, I was being punished by the Office of the President for insubordination. The transfer was tantamount to “constructive dismissal”; a move intended to force a resignation by placing myself in a no-win or untenable situation.
I would ask the two CSC commissioners who decided that my case had no merit and who ruled in favor of Malacanang this question: If a superior asked you to perform an illegal act at the risk of losing your job for insubordination, what would you choose to do?
I suspect the CSC majority decision reflects what the two commissioners would have decided to do if they were in my situation: Do the illegal act to keep your job and be quiet about it. (Note: Only CSC Chairperson Karina Constantino David stood by the principles of professionalism and ethics in dissenting from the majority decision to dismiss the case in favor of the Office of the President.)
What the Civil Service Commission ruling on my case now tells every civil servant is that:
1. The President has complete jurisdiction and authority over every career executive service officer (CESO) throughout the bureaucracy (and there are over 7000 government managers who are CESOs);
2. That the principle of neutrality of the civil service irrespective of the political leadership is a myth; and,
3. Because of the above, every civil servant now better not displease the political leadership because the latter has carte blanche over the former.
From here on, every presidential appointee below that of a cabinet secretary now “serves at the president’s pleasure”. In past, this phrase was properly restricted only to cabinet secretaries who rightly do not enjoy any security of tenure since they are the “alter egos” of the president in the assigned sectors (i.e. departments). Cabinet secretaries are “political appointees”. To make every presidential appointee now a “political appointee” as well – and every CESO is a presidential appointee by qualification – is to extend politics down throughout the bureaucracy and subject to whatever the president’s thinking might be.
For the Department of Education, this has major implications. Every schools division and assistant division superintendent (numbering over five hundred) are presidential appointees and as such, must qualify for and attain CESO rank. But during elections, every superintendent is also the chief electoral officer in their respective city or province deputized by COMELEC. If “instructions” from the top are not followed, what then?
This appeal before the CSC was not about my own personal situation. I have worked in the private sector and had a very comfortable existence there prior to being invited to serve as undersecretary in the Department of Education (and having been found qualified by the president’s own search committee despite the later finding that I was “unqualified” after I refused to carry out the prohibited act.) I can and will eventually go back to the private sector and take up any of the many offers made, so this is not an issue about holding on to a position in the Department of Education.
Rather, the appeal was made on the basis of principle which I expected to be upheld by the CSC: That doing the right thing, whether in government or the private sector, is not the basis for termination nor constructive dismissal.
I am therefore disappointed by the CSC ruling for two reasons.
First, the Commission abdicated its jurisdiction over civil service cases to a political authority and hence, undermined its standing as an institution. Where now is its moral authority to act on civil service cases when it recognizes that CESOs serve only “at the pleasure of the president”?
Second, instead of building a professional culture within the bureaucracy, this decision has only served to weaken the civil service and laid it at the foot of traditional politics.
In effect, the bureaucracy, which is the basis for good governance in all of the best-performing countries worldwide (but sadly not ours), has been undermined by a short-sighted CSC ruling (e.g. the dismissal of the case for “lack of jurisdiction”). Ironically, this CSC ruling now serves to weaken the civil service, the institution it was constitutionally mandated to protect and promote.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Message to fellow Filipinos:
The welfare of the ordinary Filipino has long been neglected. The poor continue to suffer in poverty, struggling to eke out enough money to put food on the table for their families. They have looked to the government to address their situation, but they have been disappointed time and time again.
The elitist scoff at the cries of the poor, saying that the roots of their ills lie in their indolence, and that hard work is the solution to poverty. But, we ask, who can surpass the industry and perseverance of Filipino workers, farmers, fishermen and soldiers, who, if they could, would make the days longer if only to be able to work even more to put food on the table and keep their homes? Who, despite their unending toil, continue to live in abject misery and hardship?
Nay, we exclaim to the elitists: the reason behind our ills is the continuing greed and dishonesty of the bogus Macapagal-Arroyo administration, which will stop at nothing to remain in power. The real conditions of the country are reflected in the failure of government to perform its function of providing the mechanisms to enable its citizens to make a decent living. On the contrary, our leaders today only look after their own elite interests, demonstrated by the usurpation of the fertilizer fund for their electoral goals while our poor farmers continue to live in utter destitution.
The truth behind this issue is but one among many anomalies that the regime has committed and is covering up. We cannot continue to stay silent in the face of the suffering of the people and the neglect of a government that insults the dignity of the ordinary Filipino.
We cannot continue to tolerate the lies and deceit of the bogus Macapagal-Arroyo regime. It is time to clear the obstacles to truth.
Let us unite to let the truth come out and pave the way to the people's release from poverty. The government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the embodiment of all that we struggle against.
The future of our nation depends on our collective will and pride as Filipinos. In the next several days, let us show and proclaim our displeasure at the sham regime. Let us demonstrate our disgust, not only by going to the streets in protest but also by wearing red bands on our left arms.
Let us show the establishment that we know the truth and will no longer put up with their treachery.
In this way, we will also be telling Gloria that her stepping down from power is the first step towards genuine change.
Captain Nathaniel Rabonza
First Lieutenant Lawrence
First Lieutenant Sonny Sarmiento
First Lieutenant Patricio Bumidang
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Now that's sly. GK has received millions from the present administration for its projects, hence its silence on many issues surrounding Mrs. Arroyo and her administration. Mrs. Arroyo will use the event and a very high profile charity organization to hog the limelight on a day devoted to the celebration of the human spirit behind the orignal People Power uprising. It is calculated to make her look good.
Make no mistake, Gawad Kalinga does excellent work for our people. It's projects have helped improve lives, given hope to many deserving Filipino communities. We are all fans. But, please, this organization's consent to be used as a platform from which to tout Mrs. Arroyo's "magnanimity", "godliness", and "honesty" reeks of deceit. It is just another ploy to make her look good. The lamentable thing is that it will probably work. As Ricky Carandang says, we are all enraged, but sadly, not enraged enough.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Enough has been written about the tragedy. We do not wish to gain from despair. We condole with the families who have lost those they love most. We pray for the swift recovery of the injured. And we pray most of all that our poor will never be forgotten.
One thing stood out, though - a lack of clarity on who we are and what we stand for. So, just to cut through the haze and set things straight, here is a reprint of our flier:
What is the Black & White Movement? What does it stand for?
Formed on August 5, 2005 and formally launched on August 21, 2005 at the La Salle Greenhills Auditorium, the Black & White Movement is composed of groups and individuals who have sought the truth about the allegations that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cheated in the 2004 elections since June 2005, and have reached the conclusion, based on available evidence, the actuations of Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo and her close allies, that the President committed electoral fraud. This is a conclusion already shared by majority of the Filipinos, as shown by SWS and Pulse Asia opinion surveys.
Thus, members of the Black & White Movement are committed to actively campaign, through democratic and non-violent means, for the resignation, impeachment or ouster of GMA.
What is the alternative of the Black & White Movement to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?
The Black & White Movement stands by constitutional succession as the main option for resolving the current leadership crisis of the country. Instead of providing leadership to our people in this time of crisis, Vice President Noli De Castro has chosen to stick with GMA and put his loyalty to her above the common good of the Filipino people. We thus also call on Vice President De Castro to resign and pave the way for special elections for President and Vice President as provided for in our Constitution. This will allow our people to choose leaders of credibility and integrity.
We also believe that whoever succeeds GMA should immediately institute basic reforms, including electoral, judicial, economic and political reforms. He or she should also immediately call for a Constitutional Convention to institutionalize more fundamental reforms that will address the current political crisis that was spawned by defects in our present political system.
Why the colors black & white?
The choice of black and white as the movement’s colors is to emphasize that the specific issue we now face is as clear as “black and white” – that the issue is about the GMA committing electoral fraud during the May 2004 elections to win the Presidency. It is not about labeling individuals or groups as either representing the sides of good or evil.
However, having been convinced that she did cheat during the recent elections, the question now is, should GMA be allowed to continue to govern the nation? And, our answer to this is as “clear as black and white” - NO!
We also believe that the issue of cheating, being a moral issue, has no gray area. It is either right or wrong. It’s either black or white. No justifications. No rationalization. Only admission, penance and acceptance of sin’s consequences. There can be no compromise solution that will keep her in office.
The colors black and white are in contrast to attempts by GMA and Malacanang to muddle the issue by raising the matters of her credentials or the lack of it by her successor or her detractors. We cannot justify the act of cheating by invoking the need to make a choice in behalf of the lesser evil.
It’s about cheating. It’s as simple as black and white.
Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO)
Citizens for ConCon (C4CC)
Citizens for Truth (C4T)
Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZO-PI)
Local Governance Citizens Network (LGCNet)
National Institute for Policy Studies (NIPS)
National Peace Conference (NPC)
People's Alternative Study Center for Research and Education on Social Development (PASCRES)
People's Campaign for Agrarian Reform Network (AR Now!)
Philippine Community Organizers Society (PhilCOS)
Social Democratic Caucus (SDC)
The Moral Majority
2nd Floor, Hoffner Building
Social Development Complex
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Tel/Fax (632) 426-6064
Tel. (632) 426 6001 local 4826
Email - info@BlackNWhite-Movement.com
Text: (0917) 88GARCI
Friday, February 03, 2006
The title of this post is actually meant for the statement that follows, but is appropriate as a reply to our good friend Ricky Carandang regarding his post "Dear Black & White". And we are grateful to another good friend, Edwin Lacierda, for coming to our defense.
Perception may be everything to some. It is no secret that our movement does not ascribe to the beliefs of the extreme Left, and none of our members supports the restoration of Mr. Estrada. The people who make up our membership are proudly from what is left of our middle class. We all work hard to keep a roof over our heads, put food on our tables, keep our children educated and clothed, pay our taxes, and are grateful for the grace and faith that comfort us.
We may not be politically savvy, we may be naive in some respect, but we have never claimed to be slick operators either. We are not innocent of the knowledge that some groups may have agenda other than ours, but what is wrong with trying to influence them with our own? You can't do that unless you reach out to them.
"Damned if you do, damned if you don't". In a perfect world it is easy to be purist. But early on in this struggle, we realized it would be difficult to avoid any inter-action with all other anti-Arroyo groups. There were initiatives that required mass action and we had to take our place in the crowd, case in point, "Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan". We may have stood side by side with folks whose beliefs differ from ours at the press conference Ricky spoke of, but that didn't mean we were selling out to anyone. We remain loyal to the stand we took months ago - that Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. de Castro should resign, be impeached, or ousted out of office to make way for the Senate President and Special Elections as spelled out in the Constitution. We continue the search for truth in regard to Gloriagate. We call for the resignation of the COMELEC Commissioners. But should persistent rumors of coup d'etat become reality because many of our people continue to be apathetic, we won't have much choice but to stand aside, will we?
We are anti-Arroyo but remain apart from the political opposition. We admire Alan Peter Cayetano, for instance, but like 12 Liberal Party Congressmen, we aren't about to join the opposition. We have been criticized for our association with Cory Aquino, the Hyatt 10, and our convenor groups, but we are proud of their friendship and alliance. Our views do not stray far from those of the CBCP.
In closing, we would like to share with you our version of the "unity" statement which we hoped would have been incorporated into the final version read by former Vice President Guingona at last Tuesday's press conference. You may notice that it takes a decidedly middle forces point of view:
A democracy is measured according to the manner it prevents the majority from becoming tyrannical, and protects the minority from being oppressed. Democracy is demonstrated by the government proving it is responsible in handling its powers. Instead of democracy, we have:
· A ruling coalition of Lakas-CMD and its allies that is trying to inflict the most short-sighted, selfish, political changes in our history. Not only does Lakas want Cha-Cha, it keeps insisting on No-El;
· An administration using the force of numbers to prevent genuine debate and productive hearings;
· A government of silencing critics. To enforce this policy, extreme interpretations of the law, and a ruthless application of questionable legal doctrines and interpretations, are used;
· A government that ignores public opinion, and has threatened unleashing the armed might of the state.
As a result, we have been bloodied. But we remain unbowed. In fact, instead of shrinking, our numbers have grown. The true, unquestionable, majority in this country are those opposed to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Her lying, stealing, cheating administration has used every means, fair or foul, to get her off the hook.
But Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was never off the hook. Even the CBCP Statement released on Sunday shows that no room is left to doubt that the guiding principle of Mrs. Arroyo is to stay in power by hook or by crook. And if she remains in power today, it is only because it takes time to make straight the crooked paths she has made. But time and justice are on our side.
A tyranny of the majority exists. It is a majority that exists only in Congress, made bold by the expectation that through no-El and Cha-Cha, no day of reckoning with the public will ever come.
A tyrant rules from Malacanang: One who refuses to be bound by the law or by democratic tradition; one who fears, instead of loves, our people. One who believes the problems of her own making can only be solved through bribery and intimidation.
The past few months have been a tale of these two tyrannies –that of Lakas and the strong-arm tactics of Mrs. Arroyo. The path they continue to take leads directly down the path of violence.
Every person in our country, in whatever line of work, civilian or military, wants the same thing: justice; the righting of wrongs; the means to air their grievances, and have them attended to. Most of all, everyone wants a government that is theirs, and not imposed on them; they want genuine sovereignty, not the creation of a slave state.
We have a social contract. It is the Constitution. Every Filipino must abide by it; every one of us must live according to its provisions. A nation divided between the majority who believe in the rule of law, and an administration that thinks the golden rule is that those who have the gold make the rules, cannot long endure.
This is our warning. This is our plea. This is our demand. Bring government back to the people. Restore the rule of law. Return our society to one based on Constitution, instead of where it is now: a government that ignores the people, hurts the people, and even blames the people, for interfering in its efforts to rob the country blind.