Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Black & White Christmas Wish

We wish you and tour families not only a cool Yuletide Season, but also the blessings, joy, hope, and peace that come from celebrating it!

Happy Holidays to all of our regular visitors, like Schumey, John, Karl, Manuel, Manolo, Toots, Erwin, Dawin, Yuko, Anna, Dana, CVJ, Jester, Dean, Vic, Marvin, Justicialiga, Ellen, Nursing1998, Ricelander, EngineerOFW and you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


We had a STOP Cha Cha assessment meeting today. Well timed, on the heels of the Luneta prayer rally and just before allowing holiday fever to take over.

Most of us were still tired, having worked for a week or more to make sure we went to Luneta in good numbers. We are not known for mobilizing thousands, as our competence is more grounded on up close and personal work like forums and assemblies. Quality as opposed to quantity. Whatever. Anyway, we believe that B&W and STOP Cha Cha got more of the recognizable faces of the middle forces to attend along with the "usual suspects".

We were honored to march with our urban poor arm, B&W Katipunan; with folks from Alabang, Quezon City, the enclaves of Makati; the Liberal Party; Senators Drilon and Osmena; the members of the Makati Business Club and friends from media. Best of all, there were people we had never met before (was that you, cvj?). To all of them we give thanks for joining our ranks.

The next day the papers were full of criticism - the numbers were disappointing, the act of "archiving" Con-Ass helped lower the enthusiasm, the CBCP messaging was diluted and unclear. But Vergel Santos said, and I paraphrase, "This is the way things are in the beginning, the awakening of our people takes time, this is as good start as any". And he's right. There is no hurrying awareness. The people that attended the prayer rally were the ones that wanted to be there. There is always the hope that many others will multiply our numbers, leave it to Gloria and her henchmen to see to that.

You see, disappointment has a way of turning into joy. Just as we were bemoaning the "flop" that was Luneta, lo and behold! Gloria saw the low numbers and less than powerful utterances of our bishops as a signal to forge ahead with her plans of keeping ensconced in power via Cha-Cha, who cares if she said she was abandoning it. Ah, she is so predictable. She will now continue to ram Cha-Cha down our throats with "urgency and fervor". Think of the audience she was targetting at the time - the foreign community. Who told her that would win her brownie points?

And so, allow me to end with the explanation of this post's title, a term coined by a couple of good friends - SAKAPANG. Gloria and her ilk are "Sakim sa Kapangyarihan". How apt.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Black & White Motorcade to Luneta

General Information for Sunday Prayer Rally, 17 December 2006

1.Assembly Points

- Quezon City: Parking Lot Gate 3, Ateneo Loyola
(Note: Enter gate 3, then turn left on the first road and proceed to parking lot on the left)
Assembly Time - 11:00 am – 12:00 nn
Departure Time - 12:00 nn

- Makati City: Thailand (formerly Rada St) cor Legaspi St.
(Note: Thailand St is one-way towards dela Rosa St)
Assembly Time - 11:30 am - 12:20 pm
Departure Time - 12:20 pm

- Alabang: Parking lot of SNR (formerly Price Club) along Zapote Rd. Filinvest
Assembly Time - 12:00 nn – 12:20 pm
Departure Time - 12:20 pm


Meet in front of Malate Church beside Aristocrat Restaurant
Target time of convergence: 1:00 pm
March towards Luneta Park: 1:30 pm


Quezon City: Ateneo – Katipunan – Aurora – Nagtahan – Quirino – San Andres – Malate Church

Makati: Rada – de la Rosa – Buendia – Ayala – Metropolitan – Vito Cruz – SS Hiway – Quirino – San Andres – Malate Church

Alabang: SNR parking lot - Festival Mall – SS Hiway (Filinvest entrance) – Quirino – San Andres – Malate Church

4.Vehicle Dress-up

•Black and white ribbons on car antennas
•Black and white balloons
•Flaglets – print the downloadable Black&White flaglets and attach to barbecue stick. To download, please visit
(Note: We will wave these as we march towards Luneta Park)

5.Dress Code

Please wear black, white, or combination black and white shirts.


Please use the comment box to request more information and coordination details.

Everyone is invited to join and be counted. Let’s all watch and pray. Let’s all be vigilant. Let’s all declare through our presence that we will not take brazen attempts to destroy our democratic processes and institutions sitting down.

Please invite friends and relatives to be a part of this event.

God bless,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Call To Prayer

Despite what Malacanan says, despite malicious rumors that the event may be scuttled by dark elements and by the participants themselves, the prayer rally set for Sunday, 17 December, at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta is still a go. Treat this event like a roll call - if you believe that the attempts to revise our Constitution are ill-timed, please join us.

We will be posting our final arrangements for our motorcade and march to Luneta by tomorrow at the latest. Your participation will be very much appreciated.

And in case you haven't read these statements by Archbishop Tony Ledesma of the CBCP, the Makati Business Club, and the Bishops-Businessmen's Conference, here they are:

Pastoral Letter


The events in the House of Representatives last week that unfolded over TV and other modes of mass media have triggered such a widespread outcry that the proponents for a Constituent Assembly have backtracked from their original position. But the challenge is not yet over.

It is well to ask ourselves why there was such a swelling of righteous indignation in the first place. This was expressed by various sectors ranging from Civil Society groups that characterized the House proceedings as “garapal” (i.e., brazen, callous, desperate) to the CBCP statement that bluntly described the actuations of the House majority as “fraudulently illegitimate and scandalously immoral.”

First, it was the wrong move. The Lower House cannot blithely bypass the Senate in a duly constituted bicameral Congress. It cannot simply change house rules to rush the revision of the basic law of the land. And it should not dispense with the principle of checks and balances in our democracy; otherwise, as has already happened too often in the past, one party may issue all the checks while the people are left with a zero balance.

Secondly, it was the wrong people. Congressmen are elected by districts to represent primarily the interests of their constituents; they cannot be expected to transform themselves overnight to have a broader outlook for the entire nation and to be divested of their localized, much less personalized, interests. The suggestion of postponing the May elections and extending their terms is a blatant manifestation of self-serving interests on the part of the representatives. Even players in a basketball game cannot be their own referee to declare overtime.

We should also be reminded that the present Administration that backed the Con Ass still has to give a full accounting for the “Hello, Garci” tapes, the Bolante fertilizer fund scam, the Mayuga report, extra-judicial killings, etc. Going beyond political partisanship, these are moral issues that continue to prick the Christian conscience. Charter change cannot be made a diversionary tactic to leave unanswered these prior questions on the credibility of the present leadership.

Finally, it was the wrong time. Just when the issue of the People’s Initiative had been resolved by the Supreme Court, the hurried move for a Constituent Assembly raised anew fears of manipulation and railroading (as indeed descriptive of the Cha Cha train). Why the haste in revising the fundamental law of the land? Why not allow the holding first of May elections that are constitutionally mandated and can indeed provide the genuine people’s initiative in retaining or replacing the present leadership?

What then are some lessons we have learned?

First, that we want the rule of law and not of men. Our law-makers should not be seen as law-breakers, or people who bend due process to suit their own interests.

Secondly, that democracy is not only a matter of numbers, but of moral principles. For the thoughtful observer, a well-reasoned objection is more convincing than a hundred “ayes” on the floor.

And thirdly, we can indeed heed the dictum that politicians look to the next elections, whereas statesmen look to the next generation.

It is in this light that as citizens we must maintain our vigilance. On December 17th, there is a call for inter-faith prayer rallies in Manila and other cities, including Cagayan de Oro. This will show our solidarity and social concern over what is happening to our country.

This would also provide an appropriate occasion for us to start forming engaged (and enraged) citizens’ groups in our parishes to prepare for the next elections or referendum. These groups should first enunciate the moral principles they want to be embodied in the leaders that they choose. Moreover, it is perhaps time to look for a new crop of leaders with ideals and Gospel values that can give hope for a brighter future for our country.

Together with other faith communities and people of goodwill we can all join hands and hearts to build the City of Man even as we acknowledge the over-arching moral principles of the City of God.

+ Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J.,D.D.
Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro
12 December 2006



In utter disrespect for the rule of law, Administration allies in the House of Representatives have voted to conveniently amend their own rules in order to pursue their scheme of a Constitutional Amendment through a Constituent Assembly. The move sets a dangerous precedent and does not augur well for the future of democracy and the prospects of policy formulation, predictability, and stability.

Consider the following –

1. The Administration attempted to push for Charter Change through a "people’s initiative". The initiative was struck down by the Supreme Court which referred to the signature collection campaign as a deception, as it was led by the government itself.

2. Public opinion runs strongly against Charter Change, especially by means of a people’s initiative or Constituent Assembly.

3. A Constituent Assembly is fraught with conflict-of-interest issues because Congressmen themselves may be strongly tempted to propose changes to the Constitution which would benefit their political careers (e.g., changes such as term limits, district representation, and others).

4. In order to railroad the change, the House had to first amend its own rules which stipulate that a Constitutional Amendment through a Constituent Assembly requires a vote of the House and Senate voting separately – the method prescribed to pass ordinary laws. This is an open admission that its own argument that a mere joint vote is constitutionally sufficient was flawed to begin with. It also reflects the penchant for changing rules midstream when the rules suit those in power.

5. In order to create a workable timetable for a Constituent Assembly, proponents have proposed that the 2007 elections be postponed to a later date. Should that happen, elective officials whose terms are supposed to end on June 30, 2007 would all be overstaying and therefore illegitimate holders of public office.

6. The move to railroad Charter Change through Constituent Assembly has obviously been timed to coincide with the retirement of the Chief Justice, a pillar of strength in upholding the rule of law.

Such a brazen and desperate act to amend the Constitution in the face of legal defeat and strong anti-Cha-Cha public opinion indicates that the administration and its allies will stop at nothing to bring about changes which may have questionable benefit on the country. We appeal to the Senate and the Supreme Court to unequivocally reject these undemocratic acts.

Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference


With the failure of the people’s initiative, there has been a suspiciously mad scramble to pursue charter change, particularly before the May 2007 elections. Why the rush?

We believe that the changing of the House Rules allowing for a Constituent Assembly without the Senate was a shameless act of manipulation and self-preservation by the charter change proponents, an act which Archbishop Lagdameo accurately described as “fraudulently illegitimate and scandalously immoral.”

We are not against charter change per se. We are against the unduly hasty and underhanded way that the Administration Congressmen are pushing for a constituent assembly. Their desperate and calculating actions are indicative of the considerable vested interests at stake. The haunting possibility of the postponement of May 2007 elections would undoubtedly benefit no one but the congressmen and politicians proposing it. All roads are sure to lead to the extension and expansion of powers for the current administration and its allies.

We echo the CBCP’s call for us all to be vigilant, be involved, and act now. We call on BBC’s members in Metro Manila and in the regional chapters to support activities in their parishes to inform the parishioners about these immoral actions by many of their representatives in Congress, and to condemn those acts. We cannot turn our backs and allow charter change to be railroaded by self -serving politicians. We can not allow charter change by this constituent assembly. Not now. Not by them. Not in this way.

December 9, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006


They blinked. After realizing that a great number of our people were angered by their show of arrogance and hubris, the House Majority is literally dancing the “cha-cha”. Like the seasoned grifters (con artists) that they are, the House Majority has once again tried to bamboozle the people into believing that they have abandoned their dreams of a Constituent Assembly without the Senate in exchange for a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con). During their press conference, they shocked the nation by issuing a “challenge” to the Senate to reply within 72 hours or the House shall revert to Con-ass as usual.

What gall! Do they think we will meekly accept this “back step” and follow their lead? The Black and White Movement is not at all inclined to dance to this tune. We see right through their deception. They hope to pin the blame for all this trouble on a recalcitrant Senate but the truth is that they alone are truly responsible for the myriad missteps and miscalculations brought on by their greed for power, hope of No-El, and the dream for an end to term limits.

If the House Majority were so sincere in their claims of “accommodating” an irate republic, they would not have imposed conditions and should have abandoned their illegal Con-Ass dreams altogether. It is clear they do not have the people’s interests at heart.

“Rats on a sinking ship have no right to demand which side of the ship should sink first”, declares co-convenor Atty. Edwin Lacierda.

“To restore what’s left of their credibility, these Congressmen should apologize to the Filipino people for the wrongs they have committed against them and the valiant House Minority. They should return the House Rules to status quo and rethink their choice of leadership”, says co-convenor Leah Navarro, “They should explain why they found it so easy to trifle with our Constitution”.

Enteng Romano, Black & White Movement lead convenor says, “We call on our people to be vigilant and not be deceived by a House Majority that seeks to perpetuate itself in power. Together with our people, we will continue with our planned week long activities in the Batasan, and around the country, culminating in the inter-faith prayer rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta on Sunday, 17 December”. -- END

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Gathering Storm

There’s a gathering storm – but not the kind typhoon Reming is made of. It’s one induced by the airheads at the Batasan.

They finally passed House Resolution 1450 which authorizes Congress to transform itself into a constituent assembly (CON-ASS). That it took them up to dawn of Thursday is a vain attempt to project that it passed the requisite process of debate and due deliberation. Nothing can be further from the truth.

I was at the Batasan last night to catch a segment of the moro-moro. I watched with amusement as Teddy Boy Locsin interpellated Villafuerte – the resolution’s sponsor. Locsin asked, “Does this mean we’re doing this alone?” He was, of course, referring to the fact that Congress will push through with changing the charter even without Senate’s concurrence – totally ignoring traditional practice in a bicameral legislature.

Locsin may not even realize that he hit the nail on the head – they are doing this alone. Outside the halls of the Batasan, formerly reticent folks are coming out with indignant voices.

Bro. Mike Velarde, spiritual leader of El Shaddai, proclaims “We have to warn our people of the dangers of this parliament by the House alone. The public has to be warned about [their] hidden agenda.”

Even the CBCP, usually reserved in their statements, came out headstrong. Lagdameo, CBCP president urged the faithful “to be vigilant, [and] to express their opposition to Con-ass.” He describes the current Cha-cha steps of Congress as “fraudulently illegal and scandalously immoral.”

But there’s something even more interesting going on. I have been to many forums, both online and offline, over the past year and I have never seen any conversion. Anti-GMA proponents, no matter how logical and passionate their presentations are, could not convince even a single pro-GMA person to switch side, and vice-versa. But now there seems to be a breakthrough. It is not uncommon to hear some people say, “they have crossed the line”, or “sobra na, bastusan na, garapal na!”

A posting by Bart at the elagda-forum best expresses this change of heart: “I totally agree. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! It is becoming more obvious what GMA has been trying to do and we can no longer doubt her intentions.” He continues, “I thought that we should let GMA finish her term in 2010 and focus on economic recovery by avoiding protests and demonstrations that could further compromise the economy of the country. But I was wrong because GMA is apparently working tooth and nail to continue in power beyond 2010.”

Thank God we have a brief respite. Congress requires a 3-day notice before they can convene Con-Ass. It’s the proverbial calm before the storm.

As the administration lackeys prepare for a blitzkrieg revision of the charter, civil society is gearing up for the biggest show of force since the Garci scandal broke out. This time, it’s the CBCP, Bro. Mike, and other conservative leaders at the forefront.

We better all brace up for the coming storm. It has all the markings of storm signal number 3. It may even be codenamed “EDSA 3”.

God bless and God save our country.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Tragicomedy

I have had only two and a half hours of sleep, but spending most of last night in the House of Reps was worth missing a good night's sleep. As the majority chugged at hyper speed to amend the House rules, then slide in, Villar style, a resolution other than the one on the order of business, the House minority ably stepped up to the challenge and gave the House thugs a run for their money at every opportunity.

The blow by blow live blog by Manolo is pretty accurate, so please check it out here.

Haste makes waste, and the minority made sure that the various missteps of the majority were brought out into the open. "Open" was an understatement. The House Tragicomedy was live on ANC, and by virtue of The Filipino Channel, seen all over the world. I couldn't have produced a better show. We were receiving texts from all over, all of them from the irate and incensed. One text wonderfully worded described the proceedings as "rivetting and revolting". Thanks, Toots! Another was one that said we should all bestow the rank of "lance corporal" on all the majority Reps.

Watching the minority Reps adroitly challenge every move the majority made was sweet. Feeding off their commitment to truth and the need to keep the dignity of their elected office intact, they all, to a man and woman, fought with their hearts to defend the rape of our Constitution. They moved as one unit, agreed on every move as one. We couldn't have been prouder of them.

The majority, on the other hand, was made up of buffoons, each one thinking his or her idea was better than the other's. That's why the suspensions took so long, none of the majority members could agree on what to do. It was fun watching each of them posture against their fellows.

It was also very sad. Edsel Lagman of Albay and Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur were both there, so obviously far and away from the disastrous tragedies wrought by Reming on their provinces. What were they thinking? Why weren't they shoulder to shoulder with their provincemates, digging for the fallen, caring for the survivors? Many of us have donated assistance of all kinds to the poor victims, but these guys should be right there with them offering full support.

What makes the majority so confident and callous to public abhorrence? The sweet, beguiling promise of No-El. The hubris was palpable. Pride goeth before the fall.

Whoever wishes to join us today, proceed to the House Plenary Hall before 4pm. If you're in a marching mood, Akbayan will lead a march from St. Peter's Church on Commonwealth at 1pm. We'll see you there.