June 2009

by Perry Diaz

The meteoric rise of Barack Obama to the highest position of the most powerful nation in the world has made a lot of people wonder: what makes Obama tick? With barely five months into the presidency, President Obama has already demonstrated the qualities that made him overwhelmingly popular with the American people — and people all the over world — amidst the worst recession since the Great Depression. Indeed, these qualities have shaped Obama as a world leader capable of dealing with multitude of problems confronting the American people and of taking the initiative to deal with global issues as well.

Obama’s recent historic visit to the Middle East and his speech at the Cairo University once again adds another quality — diplomatic — to his long list of qualities. It was a bold decision for him to go to the Muslim world to address them and share his vision on how he can work with them to achieve peace in the region.

But it would not be an easy task. Many have tried before him and they have all failed. If Obama would follow the trail of those before him, he would probably fail too. So what does Obama have to do this time around to achieve “lasting peace” in the Middle East?

Perhaps by looking at his qualities, we may be able to discern what Obama is capable of doing which distinguishes him from his predecessors. First, he is optimistic in everything that he does: from running for president to seeking a lasting peace in the Middle East. A junior US senator with a catchy name running for president might sound like kid stuff compared to brokering a peace agreement between Israelis and the Palestinians and all the Arab nations. Yet he traveled to the war-torn Middle East in the most daring act by an American president. That’s optimism.

In addition to his optimistic vision, Obama is dynamic. His dynamism projects a person sure of himself. And he goes about in a way that exudes confidence and control.

He is also energetic. He emotes positive energy and never slows down. Walking — or running — down the gangplank of Air Force gives you the notion that he’s always in a hurry… to get things done. And he does. His first 100 days in office was a testament to his prolific work in getting things done.

He has a magnetic smile that breaks down barriers and wins friends. Which reminds me of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s smile that captured the admiration of the American people in peace as well as in war.

An avowed liberal, Obama’s pragmatic centrism has opened the minds of Americans — liberals and conservatives alike — and gave him one of the highest acceptance ratings an American president had achieved in his first 100 days in office.

And there is no doubt in my mind that he is a patriotic American. He always has the best interest of the American people in mind in any situation he is confronted with. And in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the safety of American soldiers remains foremost in his mind. He is committed to fighting — and defeating — al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama is also enigmatic. Nobody seems to know what his next move would be. Nobody could have guessed what he was going to say to address abortion during the recent Notre Dame commencement exercises. Nor what he was going to tell the Muslim world in his speech at the Cairo University. In both cases, he came through like how King Solomon would have addressed the issues. Indeed, his Solomonic wisdom would be his most effective quality in bringing the American people together and the warring factions around the world.

Yesterday, June 16, he and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met at the White House to discuss the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea. Obama said, “Today, President Lee and I reiterated our shared commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” To do that in a peaceful way would add another feather to Obama’s cap.

He is peripatetic. Since assuming the presidency five months ago, Obama has traveled to Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel. And in every country he visited, his enthusiastic demeanor has captured the admiration of the people.

He is futuristic. When making a decision or pursuing a solution to a problem, Obama always takes into consideration what the future would be as a result of his actions. Global warming and reusable energy are two issues that have far-reaching effect on the future of planet Earth and humankind.

Several days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — his bitter political rival during the 2008 elections — said that Obama is doing a terrific job, saying that “it’s an honor to serve the country with him.”

Since Obama became president, new words were coined after him — Obamamania, Obamism, Obamameter, Obadiplomacy, Obamystic, Obamysticism, Obamatics, etc.

Obamaticswould certainly refer to the qualities that make Obama tick. I am sure that as he continues to govern with wisdom and have the best interests of the American people in mind and compassion in his heart, President Obama would be remembered for generations to come as the “People’s President” who has finally reunited the United States of America as one people and one nation.

Many have said that Pax Americana is coming to and end and that, like Pax Romana and Pax Britannica, it would eventually fall. I don’t argue with that; however, I believe that would not happen soon. The emergence of Obama has given hope that the American people would eventually live equally in peace and prosperity. That would be the true Pax Americana that the American people would be proud of and people around the world would emulate.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

In 1986, twenty-three years ago, a new republic was born from the womb of EDSA, fathered by the spirit of People Power. A new generation of Filipinos sprang that she hoped would lead the nation out of the morass of corruption and poverty bred during the dictatorial reign of Ferdinand Marcos. Finally, the people were free once again.

EDSA became the symbol of a nation that aspired to be great. A shrine was built for her to remind the people that freedom lost could take a lifetime to regain. Year after year, the people would gather in front of her shrine to renew their pledge to protect her and her ideals. They promised to fight for the freedom that they regained. They vowed that never again would a dictator emerge.

For the 12 years following the People Power revolution, corruption slowed down under the administrations of Presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos. The country began to recover from the rubbles of the Marcos dictatorship.

In 1998, Joseph Estrada came to power in a landslide election and corruption made a comeback. The grafters, fixers, and influence peddlers were singing, “Happy days are here again!”

In 2001, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power by way of a sham People Power revolution that deposed Estrada. EDSA unwillingly relented hoping that Gloria would turn the country around. But within a few days after she took over the presidency, a major corruption scandal occurred involving Gloria’s Secretary of Justice. Evidently, corruption was seeded into her administration the day she took over the presidency. EDSA was betrayed. They used her to gain power for themselves.

Year after year, corruption scandals were exposed involving the First Family and high government officials. Corruption became the rule rather than the exception. Indeed, corruption is so good that those in administration want to stay longer in their positions of power. As Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

With one year left in her term of office, many people are convinced that Gloria would do whatever it takes to remain in power beyond 2010. Two years ago she almost succeeded in getting a Charter change approved through a people’s initiative. However, the Supreme Court rejected the legality of the people’s initiative.

Last May 28, Gloria merged the Lakas-CMD and Kampi parties into one under her leadership. Right after the ceremonies merging the two largest political parties, the word was that Gloria talked to the congressmen behind closed doors. According to leaks from insiders, her marching orders to them were to pass House Resolution 1109 as soon as possible. HR 1109 would convene the House as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) for the purpose of amending the 1987 constitution… without the Senate. According to news reports, Gloria supposedly promised each congressman P20 million for his or her “yes” vote on HR 1109.

On June 2, the House of Representatives passed — nay, railroaded — HR 1109 by voice vote. The debate was cut short denying the few oppositionists an opportunity to speak out against HR 1109. But what could the handful of oppositionists have done? Tyranny of the majority prevailed. Once again, EDSA was betrayed.

In my opinion, by passing a resolution to amend the 1987 constitution without the participation of the Senate is a blatant disregard for the rule of law. Any way you look at it, the Senate is an integral part of Congress. No law can pass Congress without the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, voting separately. It has always been that way and HR 1109 shouldn’t be an exception.

It is common knowledge that once Gloria steps down plunder charges would be filed against her just like what happened to Estrada. And it is also common knowledge that Gloria was the prime mover in the prosecution and conviction of Estrada for plunder. And if the opposition wins in the presidential elections in 2010, Gloria could be brought to justice. As the saying goes, “What goes around comes around.”

The day after the House passed HR 1109, the Senate reaffirmed its stand against the Senate and the House voting jointly in a Constituent Assembly. Many people believe that the ulterior motive behind HR 1109 was to create a constitutional issue; hence, the need for the Supreme Court to interpret the constitution vis-à-vis HR 1109. With 12 of the 15 Supreme Court justices appointed by Gloria, I would not be surprised if the High Court would overwhelmingly rule in favor HR 1109. But who knows? There are a few good men and women in the High Court who might be able to prevail upon their colleagues to look at the issue judiciously and conscientiously.

If the Supreme Court agrees with HR 1109, it will pave the way for Charter change. If the Supreme Court rejects HR 1109, Con-Ass will die and Gloria would have to step down from the presidency in June 2010, a prospect many people believe would horrify Gloria.

But there was one good thing that came out of the passage of HR 1109. It was another wake-up call for mass action. Indeed, protests and demonstrations in various cities in the country were held yesterday, June 10, and more would be coming. They were organized by the religious sector and civil society. The people are now beginning to see what those in power are trying to do, which is to perpetuate themselves in power. And when power comes into play, the only way to stop it is counter-power. Sir Isaac Newton’s third law — “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” — has been proven time and time again without exception. This law applies to science as well as with people. History tells us that. And history always has a way of repeating itself. Recent developments seem to manifest that history might just be repeating itself as a result of the passage HR 1109.

In the end, the children of EDSA would come to her defense and avenge the humiliation she suffered from those who betrayed her. That would be poetic justice.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

 

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz 

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s long-time dream of creating the largest political party since the time of Marcos was realized last May 28, 2009 with the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi under the new name of Lakas-Kampi CMD. The merger of Lakas-CMD, founded by former President Fidel V. Ramos and former Speaker Joe de Venecia, and Kampi, founded by Gloria, would indeed be a formidable political force that could dominate the 2010 elections; that is, if it doesn’t break apart by its sheer weight.

This reminds me of Howard Hughes who built the biggest flying boat which critics called the “Spruce Goose.” On it’s maiden test flight on November 2, 1947 with Hughes piloting it himself, the humongous airplane flew for only a mile at 70 feet above the water. It’s mediocre performance forced Hughes to abandon the project.

Would the super sized Lakas-Kampi CMD become Gloria’s vehicle to dominate the 2010 elections or could it be another “Spruce Goose”?

During her keynote address at Lakas-Kampi CMD kickoff at the Manila Hotel, Gloria told the cheering party members: “ The emergence Lakas-Kampi CMD as one party is our finest weapon and perhaps our best guarantee for success in the 2010 elections.” She also said, “I look upon the Lakas-Kampi CMD moving as one, fighting as one, as the instrument and vehicle for electing the best, most qualified and the worthiest leaders of our country.” Indeed, by merging the two parties, it could become the most formidable political force since the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ New Society Movement or Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

Formed in 1978 after the martial law ended, KBL was an “umbrella” of various political parties, notably the Nacionalista and Liberal parties, which supported Marcos in the newly established interim National Assembly or Batasang Pambansa. Later on, KBL was converted into a political party and became the ruling party of Marcos during his dictatorial reign. KBL’s absolute control of the Batasang Pambansa has put an end to the two-party system. There was virtually no opposition to Marcos until his ouster during the People Power Revolution in 1986.

Did Gloria have KBL in mind when she pursued the merger of the two largest political parties, Lakas and Kampi, into one that would have absolute control of Congress? But why would Gloria do that when she is going to step down at the end of her term in June 2010? Is there a probability that she would want to be the country’s “leader” in one capacity or another after the 2010 elections?

Or could it be that what Gloria had in mind was to use the Lakas-Kampi CMD — described as a “powerhouse” party — to pursue Charter change (Cha-Cha) this year to change the form of government to a parliamentary system? If that would be the case, what might be Gloria’s new role come June 30, 2010?

It remains to be seen if Lakas-Kampi CMD would really be a “powerhouse” party. First of all, the two persons most likely to compete for the party’s presidential nomination — Vice President Noli De Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro — are not members of the party. They are both independents with no current political affiliation. The only bona fide member is Bayani Fernando, Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. However, he has been ignored by the party’s leaders because he is not deemed winnable. With no winnable presidentiables from its ranks, Lakas-Kampi CMD could hardly be described as “powerhouse.” However, if there is one power behind it, it would be Gloria.

Gloria single-handedly put the merger together when she assumed direct control of both parties a few weeks ago when Speaker Prospero Nograles and Congressman Luis Villafuerte resigned as president of their respective parties, Lakas and Kampi, to give Gloria a free hand in the merger.

It is interesting to note that Villafuerte did not attend the Lakas-Kampi CMD’s first meeting last May 28. He indicated that he was not going to join the new party and will remain independent. He said that the merger would not solve the party’s problems which include rivalries between Kampi and Lakas candidates in local elections. Several Kampi stalwarts including Congressman Felix Alfelor, Villafuerte’s ally, are not joining the new party.

As someone once said, “Politics is local.” The local elections could become the Achilles’ heel of Lakas-Kampi CMD. One of the rules adopted by the new party was the “equity of the incumbent.” Since the merger dissolved two parties to create one mega party, the merger could lose a lot of good Lakas and Kampi members who are not incumbent office holders. For example, if an incumbent office holder is a Lakas member, he or she would benefit from the “equity of the incumbent,” thus automatically becoming the new party’s candidate. Meanwhile, a Kampi member who wants to challenge the incumbent Lakas member would not get the new party’s support and would be forced to get the endorsement of an opposition party. It could work the same way if the incumbent was a Kampi member and the challenger was a Lakas member.

Had the two parties not merged, local Lakas and Kampi candidates could run against each other with the support of their respective parties. And whoever wins would still be allied with Gloria.

But like Hughes’ “Spruce Goose,” the Lakas-Kampi CMD — which some people call PALAKA, acronym for “Partido Lakas-Kampi” — could meet the same fate as Hughes’ “Spruce Goose.” What “Spruce Goose” proved was: “bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.”

Presumably, Gloria would know that, as a result of the merger, she would have a lot of problems trying to mend local rivalries between Lakas and Kampi members running in the 2010 elections. However, it would be a different story if there would be no elections in 2010. With no elections, the incumbent Lakas-Kampi CMD officeholders — from top to bottom — would truly enjoy the benefits of “equity of the incumbent” which could include an extension of their terms of office. But for “no election” to happen, the Lakas-Kampi CMD has to have absolute control of the House of Representatives. And the merger just made that a reality.

In the late hours of June 2, 2009, the House of Representatives — by voice vote — railroaded the controversial House Resolution 1109 which calls on the House of Representatives to convene into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to amend the 1987 constitution without Senate participation. The question is: Can the House convene Con-Ass without the Senate?

 

Finally, the long-awaited Cha-cha train is moving in earnest. Now, Gloria has her cake and can eat it too. Next train stop: Supreme Court.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

 

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz 

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s long-time dream of creating the largest political party since the time of Marcos was realized last May 28, 2009 with the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi under the new name of Lakas-Kampi CMD. The merger of Lakas-CMD, founded by former President Fidel V. Ramos and former Speaker Joe de Venecia, and Kampi, founded by Gloria, would indeed be a formidable political force that could dominate the 2010 elections; that is, if it doesn’t break apart by its sheer weight.

This reminds me of Howard Hughes who built the biggest flying boat which critics called the “Spruce Goose.” On it’s maiden test flight on November 2, 1947 with Hughes piloting it himself, the humongous airplane flew for only a mile at 70 feet above the water. It’s mediocre performance forced Hughes to abandon the project.

Would the super sized Lakas-Kampi CMD become Gloria’s vehicle to dominate the 2010 elections or could it be another “Spruce Goose”?

During her keynote address at Lakas-Kampi CMD kickoff at the Manila Hotel, Gloria told the cheering party members: “ The emergence Lakas-Kampi CMD as one party is our finest weapon and perhaps our best guarantee for success in the 2010 elections.” She also said, “I look upon the Lakas-Kampi CMD moving as one, fighting as one, as the instrument and vehicle for electing the best, most qualified and the worthiest leaders of our country.” Indeed, by merging the two parties, it could become the most formidable political force since the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ New Society Movement or Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

Formed in 1978 after the martial law ended, KBL was an “umbrella” of various political parties, notably the Nacionalista and Liberal parties, which supported Marcos in the newly established interim National Assembly or Batasang Pambansa. Later on, KBL was converted into a political party and became the ruling party of Marcos during his dictatorial reign. KBL’s absolute control of the Batasang Pambansa has put an end to the two-party system. There was virtually no opposition to Marcos until his ouster during the People Power Revolution in 1986.

Did Gloria have KBL in mind when she pursued the merger of the two largest political parties, Lakas and Kampi, into one that would have absolute control of Congress? But why would Gloria do that when she is going to step down at the end of her term in June 2010? Is there a probability that she would want to be the country’s “leader” in one capacity or another after the 2010 elections?

Or could it be that what Gloria had in mind was to use the Lakas-Kampi CMD — described as a “powerhouse” party — to pursue Charter change (Cha-Cha) this year to change the form of government to a parliamentary system? If that would be the case, what might be Gloria’s new role come June 30, 2010?

It remains to be seen if Lakas-Kampi CMD would really be a “powerhouse” party. First of all, the two persons most likely to compete for the party’s presidential nomination — Vice President Noli De Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro — are not members of the party. They are both independents with no current political affiliation. The only bona fide member is Bayani Fernando, Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. However, he has been ignored by the party’s leaders because he is not deemed winnable. With no winnable presidentiables from its ranks, Lakas-Kampi CMD could hardly be described as “powerhouse.” However, if there is one power behind it, it would be Gloria.

Gloria single-handedly put the merger together when she assumed direct control of both parties a few weeks ago when Speaker Prospero Nograles and Congressman Luis Villafuerte resigned as president of their respective parties, Lakas and Kampi, to give Gloria a free hand in the merger.

It is interesting to note that Villafuerte did not attend the Lakas-Kampi CMD’s first meeting last May 28. He indicated that he was not going to join the new party and will remain independent. He said that the merger would not solve the party’s problems which include rivalries between Kampi and Lakas candidates in local elections. Several Kampi stalwarts including Congressman Felix Alfelor, Villafuerte’s ally, are not joining the new party.

As someone once said, “Politics is local.” The local elections could become the Achilles’ heel of Lakas-Kampi CMD. One of the rules adopted by the new party was the “equity of the incumbent.” Since the merger dissolved two parties to create one mega party, the merger could lose a lot of good Lakas and Kampi members who are not incumbent office holders. For example, if an incumbent office holder is a Lakas member, he or she would benefit from the “equity of the incumbent,” thus automatically becoming the new party’s candidate. Meanwhile, a Kampi member who wants to challenge the incumbent Lakas member would not get the new party’s support and would be forced to get the endorsement of an opposition party. It could work the same way if the incumbent was a Kampi member and the challenger was a Lakas member.

Had the two parties not merged, local Lakas and Kampi candidates could run against each other with the support of their respective parties. And whoever wins would still be allied with Gloria.

But like Hughes’ “Spruce Goose,” the Lakas-Kampi CMD — which some people call PALAKA, acronym for “Partido Lakas-Kampi” — could meet the same fate as Hughes’ “Spruce Goose.” What “Spruce Goose” proved was: “bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.”

Presumably, Gloria would know that, as a result of the merger, she would have a lot of problems trying to mend local rivalries between Lakas and Kampi members running in the 2010 elections. However, it would be a different story if there would be no elections in 2010. With no elections, the incumbent Lakas-Kampi CMD officeholders — from top to bottom — would truly enjoy the benefits of “equity of the incumbent” which could include an extension of their terms of office. But for “no election” to happen, the Lakas-Kampi CMD has to have absolute control of the House of Representatives. And the merger just made that a reality.

In the late hours of June 2, 2009, the House of Representatives — by voice vote — railroaded the controversial House Resolution 1109 which calls on the House of Representatives to convene into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to amend the 1987 constitution without Senate participation. The question is: Can the House convene Con-Ass without the Senate?

 

Finally, the long-awaited Cha-cha train is moving in earnest. Now, Gloria has her cake and can eat it too. Next train stop: Supreme Court.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)