Saturday, June 24, 2006

Another Battle Front

Forgive the long silence. Have been overworked, tired, tense, and irritable lately. Didn't think it would do anyone good to spout vitriol like an overturned kettle. Although exhausted, none of us are sick enough to require hospitalization. We have developed pretty good coping mechanisms through the friends and supporters that buoy us. The latest invigorating shot is from Justice Isagani Cruz ( and we are all grateful for his encouragement in regard to filing the Impeachment Complaint against Ate Glue.

Some have likened this endeavor to scaling a mountain that can't be climbed. Others say, why bother, when we'll never get the numbers in the House to elevate the Impeachment to the Senate because we don't have the influence nor the money of Ate Glue. We don't stand a chance in hell, they claim, because the odds are against us.

Well, none of us have said we were doing this because we're sure of a "win". This is no stacked shell game. For us, there is no choice, no other alternative more just, more constitutional. We're filing this Impeachment Complaint, whether or not we succeed. Gloria Arroyo once claimed she could defend herself and we hope to provide her the means with which to do just that.

We must ask her to explain and defend her reasons for violating our Human Rights through illegal proclamations like EO464, CPR and PP1017, not to mention illegal arrests and raids. She should stand up to the allegations of bribery, graft and corruption and defend the Fertilizer Scam, the North Rail Project and the Piatco controversy. Gloria Arroyo should also answers questions pertaining to the gross inactivity of the government in regard to the growing number of extra-judicial killings of media and activists. And although not mentioned in our new charges, let us not forget what began this terrible rollercoaster ride - Hello, Garci?

There is sadness at how unmoved and unbothered our fellow countrymen are, disappointment at their lack of outrage and their willingness to accept mediocrity. How can we claim high standards when we hold our leaders to such low benchmarks?

Prof. Randy David says we need closure - impeachment can provide that. He goes on to say, "The impeachment of an unworthy leader is always a correct starting point for a nation’s political rebirth". He's right, but not only do we need political rebirth, but GMA's impeachment may resurrect belief in ourselves as a proud and honest people.

Tomorrow evening, Sunday, beginning at 6pm, many of us are spending the night outside the gates of the Batasan. We will pray, sing and make joyful noise. We will be vigilant, and hope to peacefully ensure that it is our complaint that is filed first come Monday morning. Bring an ID and your CTC (sedula). Like Justice Cruz, all of us pray you will join us.

We all have to link and expand our ranks till the entire country is bound together with the strength and the ardor of our resolve. I do not exaggerate when I say this could be our last chance to save democracy in the Philippines. The darkness thickens and we have to move. - Joaquin "Chino" Roces

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Day After Hello Garci

It's been a year since those incriminating Garci tapes came to national attention. At the end of August 2005, the Black & White Movement hosted a forum featuring the Hyatt 10. We prepared a timeline of events as part of our presentation. Here is that timeline. We share it in the hope that your memories remain fresh:


June 5 - Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye announces existence of wiretappedconversations between PGMA and unnamed COMELEC official in which the two allegedly talk about rigging the 2004 elections. Sec. Bunye says tape will be released by the Opposition.

"Obviously, this news story about election fraud is pure concoction." - Sec. Ignacio Bunye, Press Secretary

June 6 - Sec. Bunye plays two CDs for Palace reporters. He says one is authentic and is spliced. He also acknowledges that the voice of the woman on the tape is the President’s.

June 7 - Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano denies it’s his voice on the tape. COMELEC Chairman says tapes did not contain the voice of any COMELEC official.

June 8 - Edgar Ruado, a former administration political advisor and now staff member to Congressman Iggy Arroyo, goes to the NBI to say the man’s voice (Gary) in the wiretapped conversation “sounded like his”. Meanwhile, ISAFP Chief Brig. Gen. Marlou Quevedo is relieved from his post.

June 9 - Sec. Bunye now says he is not 100% sure that it is GMA’s voice on the tape; just 80% sure now.

June 10 - Former NBI Deputy Director Samuel Ong surfaces and claims he has the “mother of all tapes”. He challenges government authorities to check inventory of ISAFP files because he says four tapes are missing. ISAFP denies the charge. Ong seeks refuge in San Carlos Seminary. Military intelligence agent T/Sgt. Vidal Doble also goes to San Carlos. After three days, Ong and Doble leave the seminary.

June 15 - Congress begins investigation into the tapes in an executive session.

“There are underlying issues – the right of people to know the truth and whether the [anti-wiretapping law] prohibits a legislative inquiry from accepting the tapes, maybe not as evidence, but even for reference.” - Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano

June 27 - Oliver Lozano files first impeachment complaint at 10:50 am in the House of Representatives.

June - The President finally breaks her silence on the issue and speaks on national television at 7:00 pm.

“I was anxious to protect my votes and during that time had conversations with many people, including a Comelec official. My intent was not to influence the outcome of the election, and it did not…

…I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment. I’m sorry…I take full responsibility for my actions and to you and to all those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by these events…

…I want to close this chapter and move on with the business of governance.” - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

July 7 - The President speaks again.

“When I first entered politics in 1992, little did I know that within a decade I will become President of our country. And little did I expect that within five years, there would be calls from civil society for my resignation in office or for the formation of a ‘Truth Commission’ regarding some of my political actuations.

“When I spoke before the nation some two weeks ago, I did so against the advice of my legal counsel.

“I am not resigning my office.

“…I will restructure and strengthen the Cabinet, giving a free hand to meanwhile reform and manage our day to day governance with as little political interference as possible, even from me…I am asking my entire Cabinet to tender their resignation in order to give the Executive a free hand to reorganize itself.” - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

July 8 - Ten Cabinet Secretaries resign from the Arroyo administration

“With deep concern and firm resolve, and after a long period of reflection, debate and consultations, we the undersigned, are hereby submitting our collective irrevocable resignation.

“…This preemption does not change our conviction that her decisions as of late are guided mainly by her determination to survive as President. We believe she will continue to make her decisions according to this norm.

“…At the core of these concerns are the issues of leadership and credibility – the ability of our President to continue to lead and govern our country with the trust and confidence of our people.

“The longer the President stays in office under a cloud of doubt and mistrust, and with her style of decision-making, the greater the damage on the economy and the more vulnerable to fragile political situation becomes…the poor will suffer the most.” - Hyatt 10

July 8 - former President Corazon C. Aquino calls on Mrs. Arroyo to resign. Meanwhile, former President Fidel V. Ramos spends the day playing golf then hies off to the Palace to throw support behind Mrs. Arroyo.

“…I cannot escape the conclusion that is plain for all to see: the country cannot continue in its present tumulutous state; good and effective governance has become an impossible undertaking.

“Without this sacrifice, our country faces only a future of danger to its freedom and progress. That sacrifice must be made by the President as soon as possible.

“At this juncture, only two constitutional paths remain open for the peaceful and democratic resolution of the present crisis crippling the government and endangering the nation…The first is the President’s voluntary resignation for a smooth transition…The second is the long and inherently contentious process of congressional impeachment that can only generate more divisions in society and cast more suspicions on the threatened institutions of our democracy.” - Former President Corazon C. Aquino

July 8

“…take your grievances to Congress where I’m very willing to submit to due process as called for by our Constitution.” - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a radio address

July 10

“…we recognize that nonviolent appeals for her resignation, the demand for a Truth Commission and the filing of an impeachment case are not against the Gospel.

“In all these we remind ourselves that a just political and moral order is best promoted under the present circumstances by a clear and courageous preference for constitutional processes that flow from moral values and the natural law…We also appeal to people, especially their representatives and leaders, to discern their decisions not in terms of political loyalties but in the light of the Gospel values of truth, justice, and the common good.” - Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

July 10

“I give thanks to the bishops for their statement of guidance and wisdom…I will read every line and everything between the lines…” -President Arroyo’s reaction to the CBCP statement

July 14 - Former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano reportedly leaves for Singapore on board an chartered Learjet. He is said to have proceeded to London.

July 14 - Chavit Singson presents his X-tape.

July 15

“We thus urge her [PGMA] to initiate the formation and operation of a Truth Commission, with members to be selected by and among a group of eminent persons held in high public esteem.

“We urge the President to announce the formation of the Truth Commission during, if not before, her State of the Nation Address.” - Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC)

July 18

“In all humility, I took to heart the admonition that I should not simply dismiss calls for my resignation from office, and that through prayer, we can arrive at decisions for the common good that are based on moral precepts.

“…I have initiated the creation of a commission or a similar body to look into the truth behind issues recently raised against me.” - President Arroyo’s letter to the CBCP

July 18 - President Arroyo’s counsel, Atty. Pedro Ferrer, files answer to Lozano complaint.

July 25

“Over the years, our political system has degenerated to the extent that it is difficult for anyone to make any headway yet keep his hands clean.” - President Arroyo in State of the Nation Address

August 1 - Michael Angelo Zuce surfaces.

“I am coming out today with what I know about the fraud and cheating committed in the 2004 National Elections that have put my family and myself in danger since the time the ‘Gloriagate’ tape came out…

“What I know is that Pres. Arroyo is not merely the beneficiary of the cheating in the 2004 National Elections contained and talked about in the ‘Gloriagate’ tape conversations with COMELEC Comm. Garcillano. She had knowledge and direct participation in it.

“The conspiracy to cheat and rig the 2004 National Elections began as early as October 2002 when our Office presented to Pres. Arroyo a Special Project on the NATIONWIDE CONSULTATION OF ELECTION OFFICERS UNDER THE STEWARDSHIP OF ATTY. GARCILLANO.” - Michaelangelo Zuce, former staff member with the Office of the Presidential Liaison Officer for Political Affairs, Malacanang under then-Secretary Joey Rufino

Zuce releases photocopies of letters between Sec. Rufino, PGMA, and Atty. Garcillano dating back to October 2002.

August 3 - Speaker Jose de Venecia tells media that he and Antipolo City Congressman Ronaldo Puno have 189 firm commitments to prevent complaint from reaching the Senate for trial, whatever the evidence against Mrs. Arroyo. Impeachment Hearings are not scheduled to start until August 10.

August 10 - First day of Impeachment Hearings in the House. Session suspended in less than an hour.

August 12 - DENR Secretary Mike Defensor holds a press conference to debunk the Garci Tapes.

“That was her (GMA’s) voice, but she was not the one talking.” - Secretary Mike Defensor

August 18 - President Arroyo reportedly talks with Marcos family over FM burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani.

August 19 - President Arroyo signs EO 453 to create consultative commission on Constitutional Amendments; still no Truth Commission as promised in letter to CBCP on July 18.

August 20 - President Arroyo speaks at the El Shaddai anniversary. Former President Estrada also allowed by the government to speak before the El Shaddai.

August 21 - President Arroyo attends memorial mass service for Ninoy Aquino.

August 26 - President Arroyo cancels engagement in Malabon to speak with 12 Congressmen in Malacanang. Sorsogon Congressman Jose Solis confirms that she asked about the status of the impeachment complaint.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hello Garci? Happy Anniversary!

Well, it's been a year. A year since the infamous "Garci Tapes" surfaced like black bile in the throat. A year since our country was thrown into a political maelstrom that continues to spiral like a flushing toilet.

But like feces floating in a clogged commode, Garci, Gloria and their ilk can't seem to rid themselves of the stink. The malodorous coverups hang in the air. In a year, they've tried all kinds of toilet paper strategies to cleanse themselves. Admittedly, some of their tactics have had some effect. "Let's move on", they say, frantically pouring in the Sosa (Cha Cha, Con-Ass, pork barrel, "I am sorry", Singaw ng Bayan). After a year of floating in detritus, the middle class remains apathetic, spraying themselves with perfume, seemingly unmindful. Is it because they're also sitting on the john?

But the marginalized, downtrodden masses that have been drowning in the excrement that this administration heaps on them by the ton, aren't as easily convinced - they're tired of being assaulted by the stench. Don't for a moment think that they're happy to be floating in it.

And what of us, the plumbers that hope to de-clog the toilet and send Glo and her kind down the drain? After a year, we continue to pour in the solvents, uncovering one foul scam after another. Do not think for a moment that we're tired, thinking of calling it a day and exiting the bathroom. We refuse to live in a home that stinks. We continue to do the dirty work, because a clean bathroom makes for a clean home. Well, doesn't it?