Thursday, February 28, 2008
In the February 21, 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer article entitled “The Argument for Inaction,” Passion for Reason columnist Raul Pangalangan claims that “If Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stays in power until 2010, she will remain in power after 2010.” His assumption is that Gloria will not allow herself to suffer the plunder cases that convicted the predecessor she had helped manipulate the ouster of. His grounds include Gloria failing to step down after her term expires since she has violated the law so frequently while in power, and Gloria and cohorts finding it too risky to transfer presidential powers. However, the author’s argument about Gloria’s power extension beyond 2010 can be countered by the fact that the Constitution prevents her from running a second term. Gloria cannot stay any longer than 2010 because her mandate is until that year only. It may even be that she will be booted out of office sooner than 2010 because of the current rate her embattled presidency is going. His grounds can be countered by the fact that sooner or later, Gloria will step out of office but it is a judicial matter to verify whether she indeed violated the law and repetitively at that, and by the fact that there is no way that Gloria can fix herself in the presidential position forever, practically preventing her successor to inherit her power.
Pangalangan also claims that “[Gloria] will continue the prostitution of our republican institutions.” His assumption is that she uses her presidential power to perform the shameful acts of keeping her position and enriching her family in the process. His grounds include Gloria choosing an ombudsman to give her the immunity from legal cases and manipulating the law enforcement to hide the truth from the public. Nonetheless, his claim may be countered by the fact that the democratic institutions are not run by morons who will permit themselves to be reduced to dog-like thinking by following Gloria’s absurd orders. His grounds may be countered by the fact that once out of power, Gloria cannot find any more immunity from cases even as she had chosen the ombudman’s appointment during her term, by the fact that the ombudsman to be chosen had to be qualified for the position, by the fact that the ombudsman has his own brain to use in order not to be ordered around, and by the fact twice in the past did law enforcement agencies defected from the President in support of the people power—why would the law enforcing institution at large reduce itself to mere presidential pawns?
In addition, the columnist claims “it takes a thief to catch a thief, and we must embrace this long-awaited fissure within the ruling elites.” His assumption is that the public should be involved in the ZTE deal being fought between the Arroyo family and the de Venecia family. His grounds include his wish to see Rep. Jose de Venecia explain his piece over fixers’ insistence on the NorthRail controversy and the good news for Filipinos that the swindlers are excited to engage in a brawl. Nevertheless, his ground may be countered by the fact that the breakup between ruling classes is not a cause of celebration since that cannot improve the impoverished lives of people—surely they have better things to do than watch the spectacle of political mudslinging amid their own poverty and hunger. His grounds may be countered by the fact that it is just he, not the whole public, who wished to see the involved politician’s explanation of the controversy, by the fact that it can never be good news for Filipinos to see their elected officials doing things other than improve their lives for which they were sworn to office, and by the fact that up to now, no massive mobilization the proportions of EDSA 1 and 2 has so far been mustered with the aim of removing Gloria from Malacanang—an indication of the public’s EDSA Revolution fatigue.
The writer likewise claims that while Gloria is and looks the most educationally qualified of all Philippine presidents, she is “evil” according to Cabinet member Romulo Neri. His assumption is that Gloria goes her way now in such an evil manner that alternatives to her presidency are the lesser evil. His grounds include the law asserting that Cabinet members are the president’s likeness, and this likeness’ branding the president as “evil” must be a proof that he is evil himself. However, his claim may be countered by the fact that the Cabinet member himself failed to qualify the derogatory term he used to call the President. Corollarily, his ground may be countered by the fact that it is not necessary that the evil things the President is supposedly doing are also being conducted by the Cabinet members, no matter how exact their performed tasks to be done are. It is arguable that other Cabinets who are performing their respective duties well will react vigorously to the brand that they are as evil as the President they work with. It can even be argued that Neri pointed out the evil in Gloria precisely because he can contrast this evilness by his lack of it.
Pangalangan also claims that Gloria has a Mafia sense of power. His assumption is that Gloria threatens to unleash the full force of her executive power if her critics refuse to respect the rule of law. His grounds include Gloria harassing her critics and her weakness in running after her cronies. Nonetheless, his claim may be countered by the fact that Gloria may just be performing her executive powers as limited by the Constitution. Meanwhile, his grounds may be countered by the fact that the rule of law has been unchanging since modern politics was born in this land: that politicians take care of their friends while damning their enemies. Hence, it cannot be just true for Gloria but for all power-hungry politicians. Then again, Gloria may just be doing her job as deemed by the Constitution, so it is up to the judicial department to run after her crony friends and it is really up to her detractors to continue seeing her as their tormentor for as long as they do not succeed in wresting power from her.
The columnist further claims that the Constitution has been cheapened repetitively by Gloria. His assumption is that Gloria betrayed the Constitution by manipulating it for her selfish motives. His grounds include Gloria reducing the Constitution’s legitimizing power and her perversion of the Constitution in such a way that the rule of law is irreparably damaged. Nevertheless, his claim may be countered by the fact that instead of cheapening the Constitution, Gloria may just be implementing the highest law of the land and her detractors see otherwise precisely because they are her critics. His grounds may be countered by the fact that Gloria actually executes orders as invoked by the Constitution and by the fact that she cannot possibly bastardize the Constitution without drawing the flak of the entire nation, so her damaging the rule of law is arguable since she actually enforces the law as the Constitution demands it.
The author’s final claim is that Gloria should be ousted. His assumption is that her forced resignation from office is not Gloria’s choice but the public’s. His grounds include the systemic change not being postponed for instant calls for her ouster and the demand for her ouster resting on the public’s decision and not Gloria’s. However, his claim can be countered by the fact that Gloria has just two more years to go to prove herself that the national economic miracles she performs can be translated to social developments—hence, she should not be allowed to go until she has fulfilled her presidential duties. His claims can be countered by the fact that systemic changes cannot be done overnight nor be done all at once via Gloria’s ouster and by the fact that democracy may be ours but there is the election, not another people power, as the correct political forum to decide presidential changes.