Saturday, April 15, 2006

New Home

I am in the process of moving.

No, it's not my home that has been moved. It's my blog. For you, not that much should change. Just remove the "blogspot" from my domain, and there you go.

My new URL is:

I am also using the Wordpress software. From what I gather, this offers many more possibilities and comfort than

Migrating is never an easy process. And had it not been for the able help of Abe Olandres (I call him my guru), I would/could probaly not have done this.

So please visit, bookmark, subscribe and/or link to

I will end my last post on this site with a word of thanks to for six months of free and uninterrupred service.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Davide, two parties and collective hara-kiri

When retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. accepted the job of presidential advisor on electoral reforms, not a few liberally minded observers were disappointed. They wondered how this highly respected former chief magistrate could associate with the president they despise.

Now Davide has come out with his recommendations for electoral reform. Strangely, the media have not published his report, but quote Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, who some see as GMA’s top spin doctor.

From what I saw in today’s newspapers, I’ll pick out two points only: Reportedly, Davide proposes the return to a two-party system. The revival of the two-party rule – writes the reporter of Manila Standard Today – “should be one of the major constitutional reforms that must be pursued.” This proposal is a rehash of the draft presented to the president by the Consultative Commission (Con Com) a few months ago.

I have never quite understood, let alone supported this proposal. The notion that the state or the government prescribes the number of political parties is highly illiberal and autocratic. Imagine a future Philippine Parliament run by the two “designated” political parties Lakas and Kampi. I could also mention other combinations in which it would be more straightforward to move directly to a one-party system.

I couldn’t help smiling when I read of Davide’s intention to fight the political dynasties. According to one report, the former Chief Justice called on Congress to strictly define political dynasties and implement harsh sanctions against them. This proposal doesn’t become more realistic by simply repeating it again and again. It is tantamount to asking the majority of the political class to commit collective hara-kiri. No privileged class has ever given up power voluntarily.


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Sunday, April 02, 2006

The “Ignorance of the Masses” and Democracy

Reading through the commentary sections of the newspapers and scrolling through my favorite Philippine blogs, I detect little support for constitutional change as promoted by the president and her political allies.

Apart from serious legal reservations, the rejection of cha-cha (as this project has disrespectfully been labeled from the outset) is motivated politically. Not a few see it, and I quote from Randy David’s column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer as “Ms Arroyo’s last card in her bid to survive till 2010 and avoid prosecution and imprisonment at the end of her term.”

In my last post, I discussed what I term “conservative people power.” Irrespective of the legal issue (and one can only hope that a legal solution accepted by all sides may be found soon), there remains the fundamental political dimension. From a democratic and liberal vantage point, it is not easy to simply discard a campaign that produces millions of individual signatures.

The successful mobilization opines Prof. David “rests on nothing more than the notorious ability of her (GMA’s) political operators to produce outcomes by preying upon the poverty, the indifference and the ignorance of the masses.

Political indifference and ignorance are poisonous for democracy. As long as they persist, democratic rule will not be consolidated. The solution, however, is not to further disenfranchise the masses as is often suggested by messianic leaders who profess to speak on behalf of the masses and to know better what they want than the masses themselves. This is the recipe of communists, fascists and other totalitarian ideologues.

The liberal answer to indifferent and ignorant masses is education. Yes, this is a long term approach. But history teaches that there is no short cut to consolidate democracy.

tags charter change

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