Friday, January 16, 2009

Change before 2010 imperative

Sandiganbayan “kangaroo court” Judge Diosdado Peralta (named after Diosdado Macapagal, by Peralta’s own claim) joins his Sandiganbayan “kangaroo” colleague Teresita de Castro in the Supreme Court (SC). Indeed, the rewards for “convicting” President Estrada have been delivered by Gloria Arroyo after the very long zarzuela of the Judicial and Bar Council’s (JBC) screening and short-listing of candidates, and making a show of taking out Gloria’s Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera from the running. None of that hypocritical show can now change the public impression that the JBC is un-objective in its processes and that Gloria Arroyo has again used SC appointments as a payback to those who serve her whims. Coming on the heels of the DoJ-PDEA tussle, this appointment removes any lingering doubts that Arroyo’s justice system is corrupt through and through.

At the same time, the headlines of Edsa I and II newspapers, led by the Inquirer, on the alleged impeachment threat against Chief Justice (CJ) Reynato Puno are going on their fourth day. This came as a big surprise because it’s a clear case of making a mountain out of a molehill, considering the reason cited in this alleged campaign against him, i.e. an electoral protest of one politician against another. The only thing that makes this “news” seem credible is that MalacaƱang is said to be behind this campaign to remove Puno, who is claimed by certain quarters as one of the last remaining stumbling blocks against Cha-cha via Con-ass. The constitutional question of whether both chambers of the House should “vote as one” or separately will be brought up to the SC, for sure; but there’s another angle being missed, and it’s bad news for Gloria.

It’s been known to astute analysts of the political scene that CJ Puno is touted as one of the leading choices for “transition leader” in a post-Gloria scenario. Speculation has been rife since last year that segments of the US political Establishment had been priming for regime change due to Gloria’s corruption and double-dealing in the diplomatic and economic fronts. The first reflection of such “displeasure” was in the Hyatt 10 rebellion, where a dozen or so of Gloria’s loyal minions suddenly turned against her, as if on cue. This Hyatt 10 group in 2006 was then led by the US ’ chief auditor here, SGV’s Cesar Purisima. Later in 2008, the Heritage Foundation’s Manila pointman, Joe de Venecia, started acting up against Gloria, which finally led to the largest Gloria scandal so far: the ZTE-NBN cum Abalos election payola scam. That led to the Jun Lozada exposes, which harkens back to the noise generated a few years ago by (Ret.) Gen. Victor Corpuz, whose background has US links all over it.

Throughout the past two years, whenever talks of regime change flourished, the name of CJ Puno was often floated in many circles, including those identified with some bishops. Of course, other candidates for this so-called “transition” included Noli de Castro and, for a time, Frank Drilon and Manny Villar, when they were still Senate presidents in the line of succession. Yet none was as “pristine,” image-wise, in a milieu where politicians are all perceived to be tainted. Hence, the SC chief continued to be held with special esteem, as believed by some sectors. And now that the “crucify Puno” campaign has been deflected by a “Puno calls for moral force” drive, this looks more and more like an organized “communications plan” to prepare Puno for a higher post in days to come.

I can welcome any move for regime change so long as we, the people, are not fooled again into accepting another puppet of foreign powers and the corporatocracy, which will lead to further exploitation of our country. I welcome any such moves only because these can open up opportunities for genuine Filipino nationalist leadership, as personified by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Gen. Miranda et al. Similarly, a change in the Comelec should also be expected as the nation will certainly clamor for a clean-up in that body. But will it happen under normal circumstances?

It is very clear from the latest public statements of Gloria-appointed Comelec Chairman Jose Melo that he is not interested in clean elections at all. For one thing, he commented that he has no more time to clean up the voters’ lists even when by all accounts, these are still padded by at least 30 percent more imaginary voters. For another, Melo had been a legal adviser to Abalos during the ZTE hearings before he was appointed by Gloria to the Comelec. So these and other reasons should convince everyone that we won’t have credible elections come 2010. Then, as if these were not enough, Cha-cha is also rearing its ugly head in Congress and the ascension of Gen. Delfin Bangit to the AFP top post is being readied to pave the way for full control in 2010, just as it was in 2004.

As these events unfolded, another economic tsunami has just arrived with export processing zones and large companies instituting shorter work weeks, retrenchments, or layoffs. Up to now, no clear innovations on economic policy are forthcoming from the Arroyo regime. What we have, instead, is a stupefaction among the leadership, as reflected in the administration congressional leaders’ demand for the opposition to come up with solutions.

Change in economic management is thus a pressing call. While some opposition figures still have no program of action to offer, the PMP has laid out the “Program for a Viable Philippines” years ago, which was recently echoed by Gen. Lim in his Manila Pen anniversary statement, and regularly presented in our columns and TV programs, which have additionally prescribed “import substitution” pump-priming measures.

Change before 2010 is imperative if the economy is to survive; and all the signs are there that it is forthcoming.

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