Thursday, December 09, 2010

Walden Bello is the first ocho-ocho revolutionary of the Second Aquino Presidency!

Don't look now, but Akbayan party list representative Walden Bello has the distinction of being the first bozo to make that all-too-familiar but tired old call for "people power" a.k.a. Ocho-Ocho "Revolution" of the post-Arroyo era. According to Bello, the ten justices who ruled Aquino's pet "Truth Commission" project unconstitutional need to be "taught a lesson"...
[...] he proposed that Filipinos mount a citizens' movement calling for the resignation of the justices.

"My preference is a citizens' movement to push these people to resign. I hope there will be a petition drive to get them to resign voluntarily. That's my strong suggestion. I hope you can get a critical mass to support it,'' he said.

Bello preferred civil society people to lead the movement since they're non-partisan to politicians like himself, but said he would lead "if it's necessary to jump-start it.''

Whatever you say "professor".

Fiesta Revolution na-naman folks!

It is the spice of Pinoy political life -- the sorts of things that divert vacuous minds from the important things.

Same call, different names. I recall with fondness back in 2005 when I wrote about the death of Filipino-style "people power". Check out this excerpt...
In a country peppered by souls still heady and giddy about Fiesta Revolutions of past, the rallying cry in response to an impeachment bid against President Gloria Arroyo that catastrophically failed to pass Congress on 06 Sep 2005 was once again -- you guessed it -- FIESTA REVOLUTION!

Doesn't this ring quite familiar in the context of Bello's quaint call?

Of course it does. The Philippines, is after all, a society renowned for its collective lack of imagination. So it is hardly surprising that the same hollow-headed pitches remain resonant in the same hollow heads. Unfortunately, Professor Bello, Filipinos ain't the lesson learning types.

Interestingly the last "people power" attempt was a complete flop. This factoid is quite interesting because that last one was led by no other than Ms Edsa Revolution herself, the late former President Cory Aquino...
Led by no less than Madame Ex-President, former Time Woman of the Year, and Ms 1986 "Revolution" herself -- Ms Corazon Aquino, what may now be billed Edsa IV (or Commonwealth Avenue I, as the case may be), promised to be another spectacle of sorts. This time there was no particular heir-to-the-throne around which the fete was organised. If it succeeded in its bid to amass enough warm bodies in the streets to make a statement, it would have marked a new low in the practice of a concept that Filipinos fancy themselves to have invented back in 1986. If it had failed, it will have further served to highlight the utter ridiculousness of how Filipinos conduct their affairs.

And failed miserably it did. Bursts of little street protests sporadically erupted in Manila's streets in the days following the House dismisal of the impeachment bid, but none even remotely approached the kind of numbers these would-be anarchists crowed in the days leading to Tueday. Each were in fact smaller in number than the equally ridiculous street gathering in Makati on 25 July.

...a rather comedic but sad outcome that prompted Belinda Olivares-Cunanan to write:
But more than this is the sorry move of former President Cory Aquino to lead the street protests because she and her followers cannot accept the House's 'closure' of the case, as this allegedly did not ferret out the 'truth.' As former President she ought to uphold the Constitution that was drafted under her rule. At the Batasan last Tuesday evening, a veteran of the Ninoy protest rallies came back to the session hall in near tears. She saw Ms Aquino walk out in the company of Sandra Cam, the confessed 'jueteng' illegal lottery bagwoman recruited by Sen. Panfilo Lacson to testify at the Senate jueteng hearings. Said this lady from the Visayas: 'Cory was our icon at Edsa. Now, she marches arm-in-arm with the relics of the Marcos era, the ultra rightists and the leftists who sought to 'rabble-rouse' the striking workers at Hacienda Luisita.' In a recent column, Star's Max Soliven also mourned Ms Aquino's call to her 'friends' in the military to join their protests.

Sayaw Pinoy, sayaw.

31 comments:

  1. Ah! The marriage of the left and right how convenient. Ms. Aquino's 1987 Constitution is also responsible for castrating The Pilipino Man and making his family dependent on the State akin to serfs in cahoots with Padre Damaso to whom she is his favorite play; at the same time she fortified The Kamaganak Inc.
    The Constitution is excellent in paper whose utility can best be served when one goes to the bathroom.

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  2. Raises some interesting points for someone who lives in a bubble, having never experienced any of the hardships or realities that led to the so-called 'Fiesta Revolutions.' Hopefully your style of criticism will mature once you experience things beyond the virtual world of your mundane daily routine. Granted EDSA 2 revealed some of the problems with us as a people, but your elitist characterization of it reveals nothing but the stereotypical, arrogant and impulsive bickering of people who 'dabble' in politics as observers but are actually more concerned with acquiring the latest gadget. It's ironic that the title of your blog is 'Get Real Philippines' since it seems you're the one who needs to get real.

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  3. I'd reflect on what you said except that you didn't cite any specific thing about what I say that you specifically consider to be invalid.

    Instead you make assumptions about my life, my experiences, and my "daily routine". Too bad. :-D

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  4. i agree with the 2nd commenter. your language and particular manner of formulating opinions does betray a sheltered, armchair-political-analyst background.

    amboy, i presume?

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  5. Let me oblige then.
    1. There was no death of Filipino-style of people power. You're understanding of EDSA seems to be stuck to the road and unseating presidents. In case you haven't noticed, it evolved and showed itself during Cory's death, as well as that last elections, particularly in PNoy's campaign as well as all the Ako Mismo movements and Ako ang Simula. The EDSA Revolution is essentially about people power; about citizens interrupting the normalcy of their lives to contribute whatever they can in fighting corruption and eradicating poverty, and somehow magically converging with thousands of other citizens on the same issue. But of course you would know this being the political savy commentator that you are.

    2. It really doesn't work when you cite yourself, especially when you do it with excitement.

    3. The Philippines is not a society known for its collective lack of imagination simply because there are calls for another People Power revolution every now and then. While some of those may be rash, these are manifestations of a society that has long been struggling with poverty, corruption, and elite democracy. If you knew anything about struggle beyond your operating system or internet connection hanging, you'd know that.

    4. You say Filipino's aren't the learning lesson types and yet at the same time you talk about People Power fatigue that manifested during the 'Gloriagate' scandal. You only see what you want instead of seeing that the fatigue itself a manifestation of that 'learning' you say we don't have.

    5. If you think it's ridiculous for people to take to the streets in righteous indignation after incidents such as the envelope scandal during Erap's impeachment trial and the 'Gloriagate' scandal, then I'm glad God only made one you. If we were all as politically savy as you, we would still be stuck under the Marcos dictatorship bickering on blogs, assuming Marcos would have even allowed that.

    6. The success or failure of a protest is not measured by the realization of its objectives. The launching of a protest is in itself a victory against passiveness and indifference, and the EDSA revolutions started with small protests that built up into 'revolutions.' You seem to exhibit a notion that they are magic instant affairs.

    And lastly, it's interesting that you didn't even bother denying any of the things said about you being some upper class brat, which is typically what one would do if the accusation were untrue. So no, I don't think there's a need to keep on guessing but you keep on doing your evasive 'blog act' as well as whatever it is you need to do that will help you respect yourself and make you feel important.

    Get real Philippines...ha...

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  6. For starters, you seem to have a narrow understanding of EDSA that is stuck to the road itself and the unseating of Presidents. Just in case you were too busy advising us to 'get real,' People Power has evolved as shown during Cory's funeral and during the 2010 elections (PNoy's campaign; Ako Mismo; Ako and Simula). People Power is about the convergence of citizen action and courage, and of the struggle of Filipinos towards a better society.

    By the way, it really doesn't work when you cite yourself, especially when you do it with excitement.

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  7. Second, you say we Filipinos aren't the learning types and yet you also discuss our episode of People Power fatigue, which actually even shows that we are a 'learning type'. It's generally not a good idea to contradict yourself with such passion.

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  8. Yeah, I wouldn't know about how "EDSA" "evolved" and "showed itself" during Cory's death, Noynoy's campaign and those Ako This and Ako That "movements" you cited. Because ultimately, the question remains: Where are the results?

    You can see even in Noynoy's presidency that nothing much has changed. There is still cronyism, coddling of incompetence and criminality, and moronic ideas being propagated and moronic practices still pervading. Perhaps, if you can cite specific example of exactly what had changed or what you think will change in the next six years as well as some form of articulated description of how the Philippines is envisioned to look like after Noynoy finishes his term of office in 2016, then perhaps I will be eternally grateful to you for enlightening humble moi and rescuing me from my blissful brilliance.

    And yes, it does work when I cite myself -- because, guess what: I am my biggest fan. Aren't we all encouraged to be "proud" by all these triumphalists who crow about Pacquiao's and the Azkals' victories, applaud Charice Pempengco, and vote for "heroes" like Penaflorida? Well then here I am, being proud of myself. I think Pinoys ought to do the same. The only difference between all the rest and me is that I have a body of work to be objectively proud of.

    Perhaps, as you say, I only see what I want to see. That's fair enough. But then show me some specifics around tangible concepts that can be seen with clarity. So far all you can come up with are motherhood statements that wax romantic poetry of bygone "people power" "revolutions" mounted by folk who want to "take a stand" against "poverty" and "corruption".

    As the eminent Raquel Welch was said to have said:

    Insanity is expecting different results while doing the same thing over and over again.

    As such, perhaps step up to the challenge and cite specific instances of Filipinos doing something different, plez.

    And, yes, lastly I did not deny those things "being said" about me being an "upper class brat". Why should I? All this is not about me (though of course I don't blame you for finding me rather intriguing), it's about the ideas put forth in this blog. As the venerable Eleanor Roosevelt was said to have said:

    Small minds discuss people;
    Mediocre minds discuss events;
    Brilliant minds discuss ideas.

    Take your pick, dude. Which one among the above do you best relate with?

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  9. I concede that I lacked objectivity in my initial reactions to your comments. So I'll try to be more objective from here on out. I apologize. In hindsight, I got too emotional about the issue. So to be formal about it, I'll just say that I strongly disagree with the points raised by your blog entry, particularly your characterization of EDSA. But if I may, you must also realize that ideas you put in the blog are directed at people, particularly your ideas on EDSA as a Fiesta Revolution. You can't always just separate the two. Just who do you think the idea of EDSA as a Fiesta Revolution is directed at?

    I'm not sure what results you're looking for, but I get the feeling that you're looking for results on a grand scale. While I agree that we should strive for 'grand results,' at the same time we should not belittle those little turning points in our history.

    And we also can't expect to achieve these results within a short span of time. Change or reform is incremental. The only way to have reform happen within a short span of time is to have a dictator and hope he's a good man. Obviously that didn't work for us; putting too much trust in one person. As the saying goes, "Democracy is the worst form of government, until you look at the others." And democracy, at its heart, is all about people power; be it on the streets in protest, or supporting a candidate during elections based on a sincere belief (even in turns out wrong, such as the masa's belief in ERAP) in that candidate.

    Granted, some people have abused people power. Others have been too rash in attempting to resort to it. But that doesn't make the EDSA Revolutions or our People Power a mistake. That just means that in any revolution or people power movement, you will always have assholes trying to take advantage of the situation. We should watch out for that, and that's as far as I can go in terms of reaching some common ground with you. But you don't dismiss a whole history and the sentiments of the people who went out that day as a 'Fiesta Revolution.' It's insulting and I take exception to that.

    Here are a few of the tangible results that I see.

    ERAP wasn't elected. That's a tangible result right there given his popularity with the masses. You may say he came in second and that that is a sad commentary on our society. But at the same time it's also a result of more and more of us learning from our past mistakes.

    Also Noynoy wouldn't have been elected if it weren't for the People Power behind him. PNoy isn't a great president. But at least we were able to elect someone who is at the very least, decent. He has his flaws, such as protecting Puno and Mayor Lim. But his sincerity and decency outweigh those flaws. He also does his best to appoint good people to important posts, such as Secretary De Lima or Secretary Almendras at the DOE. We at least have a government now where we know we have good people in important posts, and those people will be able to effect change. We also have a government that is relatively more transparent, although it still has a long way to go. But at least the voices of Civil Society and the masses have a better chance of being heard now, such as the impact they have made in the reproductive health debate. He has also set a good example as to how expenses should be handled on foreign trips, in contrast to GMA.

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  10. Perhaps my personal attacks were unwarranted and an apology is in order. But if I may, ideas and people can't always be separated. Just who do you think the idea of EDSA Revolution as a Fiesta Revolution is directed at? And while I may have been small minded in launching personal attacks on you, you should also realize that, although on a more remote level, you have also launched a personal attack on me as a Filipino with your statements on how we have a collective lack of imagination. I'll eat my humble pie. But I do believe a serving in your direction is also in order. There's a fine line between between being proud of your work, and being arrogant in thinking less of not just others, but an entire society. Maybe you were being comedic about it to drive home a point, but some jokes just aren't funny.

    Here are a few of the specific instances of how we have acted differently as a people.

    For starters, our Civil Society groups no longer left politics to the trapos but instead united behind PNoy. At the time, he was the most viable candidate who still fit within their anti-poverty and anti-corruption agenda. Before, politics was always left to the trapos.

    Second, ERAP lost. The fact that he came in second is a sad commentary on us as a people. But at the same time it is also a victory because at the end of the day, his popularity did not overcome the sentiment for change and progress.

    Third, we have better people in top government posts. Definitely there are some questionable appointments, but at least we now have people such as Justice Secretary De Lima or Energy Secretary Rene Almendras.

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  11. We also aren't blindly cowtowing to the Catholic Church anymore on the issue of reproductive health. That's a big step, considering the influence the Church used to have given it was instrumental in pacifying our ancestors during the Spanish Colonial period, and it's influence in both EDSA Revolutions.

    But perhaps the biggest most tangible achievement is the realization by more and more of us that we can't simply rely on government and the trapos, but that we have to each do our part; we each have to engage in 'people power' in our own little ways in our communities or wherever the opportunity (or challenge) presents itself. Admittedly, this reeks of the wax romantic poetry statements you complained of. But that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't happening.

    In any event, I recommend you read the Politics of Change. The various authors do discuss instances of us making history repeat itself, which you seem inclined to as a topic, and at the same time they also talk about the incremental changes that have been made, as well as what else can be done. It would be interesting to see what you have to say about their views. My only request is that you tone down your personal attacks on us as Filipinos in your reactions and criticisms. We are not monolithic, and there are clear class distinctions, each with their own respective interests and even flaws.

    Anyway, that was fun. That's it for now.

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  12. As for results, exactly what kind are you looking for? Perhaps the results you want are too 'idealistic' given the limited time frame?

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  13. When you say that we realised that "we can't simply rely on government and the trapos, but that we have to each do our part; we each have to engage in 'people power' in our own little ways in our communities or wherever the opportunity (or challenge) presents itself" and call this an "achievement", what exactly was achieved there? Is there any actual evidence that this has actually happened? And if it did, then that makes all this beholdenness to this "people power" that Noynoy and his family stand for inconsistent with that observation, doesn't it?

    You can always simply say that it is "already happening", indeed anyone can say so. But in this business of evaluating real results, we need evidence and not just a bunch of nebulous notions that get spread around by old 1980's poets.

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  14. Mr Anonymous, no need to apologise. This is an open blog where you can speak your mind. I only saw your previous two comments that somehow got trapped in the spam filter and only now released them (apologies for that). Perhaps, come up with a proper identity other than "Anonymous" so that the spam filter of this service (which I have no control over) does not mistake your comments for spam.

    I will work on responding to those in a while. Stay tuned. :-)

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  15. The part you cited was only in reference to your query on examples of how Filipinos are doing things differently. The point was that more and more of us are no longer simply wait until the scandal erupts. Am not sure exactly what you mean by real results, but perhaps you can explain why the success of the Ako Mismo, Ako and Simula, and the volume of volunteers during the 2010 elections (not just for candidates but also for organizations like LENTE) are not real results or actual evidence for you? I'd give you statistics if I could but unfortunately SWS or Pulse Asia didn't exactly poll on that. But the news clips of them and the reports of journalists confirmed it. Anecdotal evidence is the best I can give you right now.

    Granted, it's important to point out our failures so that we can learn from them. At the same time however, it is just as important to find our success stories and capitalize on those. But in either case, there should be a balanced and objective approach, as you say.

    As for what was achieved, unfortunately the nebulous notion of a change in behavior is all we have right now. I can only point to anecdotal evidence of that. Nonetheless, I consider that a real result as it is the first step before being able to achieve the real results you probably speak of.

    I don't agree that Noynoy and his family stand for people power. They are simply the most noticeable characters in the story or People Power. It's the Filipino middle class and masa that stand for ultimate people power as they were able to influence the system of governance, even if only for a brief moment, and break the cycle of elite rule in our still evolving democracy. That's why many of us are beholden to it, because it's the only real time many of us have a say over how things should be and a real, concrete, and immediate change is effected. So when people like Walden Bello call for people power, while I don't agree with is call, it is a an attempt at effecting a real result in the most powerful and forceful manner we know how. Personally, I would have preferred a call for people to rally at congress and hopefully have people power make the process of impeachment work, but perhaps that's pie in the sky thinking.

    As for evaluating the real results you speak of, perhaps a successful land reform, reform of our electoral system and political parties, etc., I concede that we're not yet there. Those are the real results that, sad to say, we do not yet have. But achieving those results begins with a change in behavior among us as citizens because clearly it cannot be left to government or the ruling elite; it begins with taking EDSA out of its boxed up notion as a means of unseating corrupt leaders whenever a tipping point is reached and being proactive about it. And that's the achievement I'm trying to point out.

    Nothing will change much if it is just left to Noynoy and his administration. That's why movements like Ako Mismo or Ako ang Simula are important. The results you seek are achieved 'brick by brick.' We're one brick on the way. But that brick won't hold if we don't understand where it came from: people power.

    If I may quote from your blog, it is the beginning of owing allegiance to the community and its system, not its leaders. Perhaps it's a good thing that Noynoy is not the most competent leader such that we will also learn that it's not enough to elect a relatively decent and honest leader. Hopefully, the new found form of people power will work towards building the "robust organizational frameworks" we need.

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  16. The call out "Where are the results?" is a rhetorical question. It is a qualifier to any assertions we make about certain things and is a polite way of saying So what?. When, for example, we make an assertion, the best way to test whether said assertion is relevant is to ask ourselves: So what?

    Take as an example, the assertion "Filipinos sacrifice a lot."

    Then ask yourself: So what?

    The interesting part then becomes how you would then answer that question. Kung baga: So what if Filipinos "sacrifice a lot"?

    And that favourite question of mine naturally emerges:

    Where are the results?

    You make a lot of assertions in the past few comments you've made above, and I'll apologise for now if I don't respond to them point-by-point. But think of it this way, I might save you some time (reading my responses) by recommending that you re-visit these comments of yours now armed with a better way of regarding these assertions. The formula is quite simple:

    (1) For every assertion you make, ask yourself: So what?

    (2) For every response you make follow-through with the question: Where are the results?

    (3) Take note of the assertions you make that pass the above tests and develop them further.

    (4) Label the assertions you make that do not pass tests 1 and 2 and label them "Bullshit".

    Then come back to me and perhaps we can engage in a more focused evaluation of the issues. :-)

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  17. Again, exactly what kind of results are you looking for? And why do those results, whatever they may be, negate people power as one of the better moments in our history?

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  18. Actually, Mr Salvo, I think it is you who needs to answer that question.

    Up to the challenge? ;-)

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  19. The result was democracy the first time. That was the only promise of EDSA I to begin with, not economic prosperity. The result of EDSA II was the unseating of a corrupt president and breaking the myth of impunity. Economic prosperity was not part of the promise either. In any case, your replies of rhetorical questions have gotten old. I thought you'd be more engaging.

    I was hoping you'd be more engaging but you seem to have taken the wise ass position. I could very much just throw back the same questions at you and ask what results did we not get given the basic and humble objective of People Power? I think you're confused about what EDSA was really all about.

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  20. Democracy was the promise of EDSA, huh? Democracy was only the carrot that was dangled to get enough people into the street to back a failed military coup. Some democracy, eh? How's that working out for ya?

    Even us college students (at the time) watching from the other side of the world could see that the only promise of EDSA was a personnel change.

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  21. And that is the beauty of the "So What?" Test (which I elaborate on here). If you are stopping at "democracy" as the whole point of "Edsa", then sorry to say, this whole discussion fails the "So What?" test -- unless, that is, you are willing to step up to the challenge of coming up with a convincing response to the qeustion "So What?" and its derivative question "Where are the results?", Mr Salvo. Some guiding questions:

    Has democracy made a difference in the lives of the average Filipino?

    As Ben observed above, perhaps you are confusing the end with the means here.

    :-)

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  22. So are you and Ben suggesting we shouldn't have a democracy? Should we return back to a dictatorship in the hope that the next guy will be better? What were the results of the last time we had that?

    Mr. Ben, unless you're country lives under a successful dictatorship, I don't see where you get off bashing our democracy. How perfect is yours? What are the results of yours? At the same time, what are its problems?

    And we didn't just back a failed military coup. Filipinos didn't go out that day because of them. The failed coup was just the catalyst. Filipinos went out that day because of the years of abuse and the loss of loved ones to the Marcos administration. If it weren't for those years of abuse, no one would have gone out. That's why the last coup attempt at Oakwood and again at Manila Peninsula didn't work. Because People Power is not about backing military coup attempts at all.

    Granted, ours is far from perfect, but it's a start. There's a kernel of truth to your statement that there was merely a personnel change. That's why there are many of us trying to fix the adverse side effects of EDSA, such as the military adventurism you speak of, or the mere 'personnel changes.'

    But that's only one side of the 'result.' I challenge you to read further on the subject and not simply rely on the news.

    Democracy has made a big difference in the lives of the average Filipino, at least insofar as political and civil rights are concerned. We can speak out in protest and the chances of being killed for that are much less than what they were during the Marcos regime.

    Granted, from an socio-economic perspective, it hasn't made that much of a difference. But again, EDSA was never a means to achieving economic prosperity. Democracy was end in itself. People power or EDSA I was the means.

    Yes, we don't have much of a democracy yet. But remember that we are only 50 years into the great experiment, in contrast to countries like the USA that have worked around it for over 300 years. I disagree that it was merely a personnel change. A constitution and various laws followed EDSA I. Often these laws are ineffectual, but there are also many times that they work. I don't think I have to cite instances of that. This is in contrast to Marcos' time when they never worked.

    Perhaps you can clarify your position on whether or not we should have a democracy as a platform to achieving economic prosperity. Or perhaps you're of the position that we should have just been annexed by the U.S. given the way you mocked Manuel L. Quezon's quote? Please clarify if you're of either position, in which case, we can just agree that we disagree and end this discussion.

    I am not trying to convince anyone. I was hoping that I could pick up a thing or two from the discussion but unfortunately you've decided to just throw back the same questions without really explaining why the answers I've given are insufficient. I have yet to also learn or pick up any new idea from you that I haven't heard from other EDSA naysayers or pro-dictatorship people.

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  23. You are absolutely right in what you say here, Mr Salvo:

    "Democracy has made a big difference in the lives of the average Filipino, at least insofar as political and civil rights are concerned. We can speak out in protest and the chances of being killed for that are much less than what they were during the Marcos regime."

    But, see, that was 24 years ago. The issue here is around how we continue to cling on to "people power" in its infinitely nebulous conceptual form to underpin any regard for any way forward we imagine.

    In short, what happened in 1986 laid the groundwork. Have we built anything on said groundwork?

    Where are the results?

    As you yourself said "from a socio-economic perspective, it hasn't made that much of a difference". And that brings us back to Walden Bello's call for an uprising against the SC judges which he hints at being another "people power". The institutions are already in place, and here we have an officer of the Legislature -- the very institution that should be first in upholding the laws crafted by its members.

    That is the kind of moronism we are up against. And Walden Bello is the first in this administration to regress back to 1986 Emo Politics (the message of this blog, I might remind you).

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  24. I'm suggesting you can't assume you have a democracy just because you call it that. You aren't all that far from a dictatorship as it, if you want to really get into it:

    *President chosen by a minority manipulated by a controlled media. In some cases, if you believe the accusations, manipulated by actual electoral fraud.
    *President chooses cabinet and other advisors based on personal loyalty.
    *President has unaccountably wide executive powers, and can intercede in the administrative framework at will (PAL strike, Vizconde case, tourism marketing, etc., etc.)

    So tell me again how democratic this country is?

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  25. For Mr. Benigno:

    I agree with you insofar as Walden Bello's action is concerned. I respect the man, but his call for a people power in response to the Supreme Court decision was improper, perhaps even rash and irresponsible, given his elective post.

    My only objection to your blog was your characterization of EDSA as a fiesta revolution. But judging from your last post, it seems we don't really disagree on the matter all that much. Perhaps if you had focused your quips at Rep. Bello, and didn't 'bash' us in general, I wouldn't have reacted the way I did. I realize, however, that being comedic about it may be part of the style, similar to a John Stewart kind of thing. If so I apologize. Blogs are tone deaf.

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  26. For Mr. Ben:
    We have many problems. And yes, there are numerous instances wherein our democracy is only on paper. Nonetheless, I am of the position that overall we have a democracy. It is a very young and fragile democracy, plagued by numerous problems that have unfortunately persisted since colonial times. But we are very, very far from a dictatorship.

    If your definition of a democracy is that the President should be chosen by a majority of the electorate, I disagree. My understanding (I admit I'm no expert) is that we at the very least get to choose our president. Definitely, I would prefer if there was a run-off election between the two candidates with the highest votes. But I fail to see how a president with a 'majority mandate' is a prerequisite for a true democracy. At most, I can only concede that a president with a 'majority mandate' is a better way of doing things.

    Sadly, many cabinet members have been chosen based on personal loyalty. Keep in mind however, that we simply copied this system from the U.S.A. At the time, it probably seemed like the sensible thing to do. We also have the Commission on Appointments. Unfortunately that system simply hasn't worked. A number of reforms are definitely needed, together with a better education system so that we can be more discerning in our choices.

    And yes, the institution of the president is too powerful making too much dependent on the hope that a benevolent person is elected. Supposedly it is even more powerful than the U.S. model, which is where we borrowed the system from. These flaws were exposed particularly during PGMA's time.

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  27. In a nutshell, I don't disagree that our democracy has problems. But I fail to see how you jump from pointing out these problems to bashing EDSA I, which restored the basics of democracy in the first place.

    I'm also well aware of how low we rank internationally in surveys regarding levels of democracy and what not. During PGMA's administration, things were not at all that democratic.

    But at the end of the day, her term ended and someone else was elected. She did not succeed in prolonging her grip on power, despite many of us not having received a college degree or high school diploma even. That's how democratic we are. Not very democratic. But enough that we still have room to work around towards improving our young and fragile democracy.

    It took the U.S. over 200 years to get where it is today. During that time, slavery was abolished only after 90 years or so. It took about another 100 years for equal civil rights to be granted to African Americans. Not to mention the historical injustice done to the Native Americans. If I were to follow your line of thought, then perhaps the U.S., the great bastion of democracy, hasn't really been all that democratic during that time. Heck, even during the 2004 elections, many African American voters were excluded from the elections such that Bush could not follow the tradition of walking to the White House but had to ride in the presidential limo to protect himself from the angry mobs of excluded voters. Following your line of thought yet again, the U.S. is at most only moderately democratic.

    Our democracy isn't even 50 years old yet. A large part of it, ever since we began self-rule, was under the control of a dictatorship. I share your sentiments in the form of frustration, and pursue work here and there to do what I can. But I draw the line at the suggestion that People Power was a mistake, and that the Philippines doesn't really have a democracy.

    Perhaps democracy in your country is very advanced. In such a case I envy you. Perhaps you take for granted the most basic institutions of democracy, such as elections. Here, many of us are just glad that we have elections in the first place. Even if they are marred by rampant and large scale electoral fraud, at least we have something to work with and improve upon. Many countries are not as fortunate.

    So tell me again, what for you is 'democratic'? And what makes your standards THE standards for determining the existence of a genuine democracy?

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  28. Mr salvo, I'm not gonna assume that you were at the first 1986 Edsa "revolution". But if you were there, you will probably have noted that people were pretty much in a festive mood -- a macrocosm of a Catholic mass with all the trappings of solemnity and higher "purpose" attended by people who hardly grasp the substance supposedly underneath the ritual.

    Fast forward to all these subsequent ocho-ocho street "revolutions" and you will see how progressively perverse this concept became at each new iteration. Organisers would put up stages and have morons sing and dance (thus the term "ocho ocho revolution") on them to entice people with too much time on their hands to come and kibitz, eat fishballs, and schmooze with one another (the lucky ones probably ending up getting laid).

    I'm not going to stop bashing "Edsa" until all that is left of it are quaint relics best viewed in a dusty museum. "Edsa" is NOT "people power" to begin with. The label "Edsa" was just a brand slapped on to a spontaneous and owner-less one-off phenomenon that transpired back in 1986 and then associated to the feudal clan that happens to be in power today. And Pinoys, true to their vacuous sensibilities, ate it all up.

    That is my version of this "nutshell". :-)

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  29. You're right, I was not there. I wasn't at EDSA 2 either as I was at the U.S. at the time.

    I don't see the problem with it being festive though. It occurred over a long period. It seems difficult to expect that the people who attended should have just stood there and shout angry words the whole time. I haven't been to much rallies, but I've seen a few clips of rallies in other countries and even those had a few festive moments. Perhaps it's just human nature? In our case, given our inclination for festivities, perhaps that's part of the reason why People Power here succeeded without bloodshed?

    You may find it surprising that you and Rep. Bello somewhat agree on the point regarding the feudal clan. Although he ties it more to corruption (which has been used by many to try and start another people power movement), and how the issue is simply used by those out of power against the family in power; the end result that many of us don't do anything about the fact that we have allowed a succession of elite factions to rule us. This is from his book, The Anti-Development State, on the chapter entitled: "Corruption: Barking up the wrong tree?"

    You make an interesting point in stating that EDSA is not people power. I'm not quite sure I agree with you on that but I'll admit it is an interesting point to ponder on. However, I think reducing EDSA to a quaint relic will do more harm than good.

    If I may, perhaps it is better if you point out in your blog what people power really is, and unravel the myth of it being tied to the Aquino's, the military, or whoever. Just a suggestion.

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  30. @ Salvo happy to oblige. But may I make a few reading suggestions first so that you can at least come back to point me in a more specific direction as far as the nature of the clarity you seek:

    (1) Stock take of our history of street "revolutions"

    (2) "People Power" "Revolution" section of GetRealPhilippines.com

    (3) R.I.P. People Power (1986-2005)

    Revolutions are supposed to be driven by anger which fuels a passion for change. People dancing and singing and checking out one another on the street is not my idea of a revolution. I do agree though that human nature is always at work. In our case it is human nature with that distinctly Pinoy flavour that puts that unfortunate colour on our street "revolutions" that I describe. And therein lies the problem.

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