People Power 3
Absurd Arguments vs People Power 3
Angela Stuart Santiago

The arguments being propounded against an EDSA kind of action to end the morally bankrupt Arroyo regime are all absurd:
1. The ensuing political instability would impact negatively on our "booming economy."
2. We should adhere to democratic processes - wait to file an impeachment complaint in July or, better yet, wait until 2010 to vote in a new President.
3. EDSA I and II brought only cosmetic, not systemic, changes. Been there, done that.
4. The world will not forgive another EDSA. The world will call it "mob rule".

(1) On the "booming" economy
According to Sonny Africa, research head of the independent think-tank IBON Foundation, the rapid growth of gross domestic product (GDP) in the last 31 years does not reflect any growth in manufacturing and agriculture (the lowest since the 1960s), domestic employment (worst joblessness of any administration), and real family incomes (at its lowest over the last 10 years).

"The growth that the administration hypes is meaningless for millions of Filipinos. It merely reflects the profits of a few big foreign corporations and their local partners," says Africa. Even worse, "The economy has been distorted by economic globalization and is less and less able to create sufficient jobs and decent incomes for millions of Filipinos."

For his part, Cielito Habito believes that the 7.3 % may be overrated, more like 5.3 to 6.3 % if measured in a way comparable to pre-2004 data.

"As widely lamented, we have been witnessing a growth that has not filtered down to the lower levels of society. Even my friend, Albay Governor Joey Salceda, seen by many as the de facto chief economic adviser of the President, admits to losing sleep over the unmistakable drop in real incomes of the middle and lower classes in recent years, as clearly evidenced by the highly-reliable Family Income and Expenditures Survey (FIES).
" . . . But even granting that the news is indeed good, is it really the government that we ought to thank for that? If the inflation rate has been low—i.e., prices have been more stable (although I keep getting reader mail disputing that)—we have the weak dollar and our OFWs to thank for that, for raising the value of the peso.
" . . . In short, if we are seeing positive developments in the economy, it is all in spite of, rather than because of our current leadership. We deserve, and could attain, much better."

(2) On democratic processes
The process of removing an unworthy President is in the hands of our representatives in Congress. But our elected representatives have been failing us, have lost all independence from the executive department, thanks to the pork barrel system, and have been quick to throw out impeachment complaints, no matter how valid, worse, with the support of the Supreme Court that ruled in the Lower House's favor allowing only one impeachment complaint a year.

Sabi nga ni Manolo Quezon: "When the President inoculated herself, last year, from impeachment until this July, she did so with the connivance of the House. A House now dominated by her two sons who are more powerful than the new Speaker."

Been there, done that

(3) EDSA I and II brought only cosmetic, not systemic, changes.

Indeed, but that's no excuse for not doing it again. We just have to do it better. Given People Power as an instrument for change, and knowing what we do now about how far GMA will go, lying, cheating, stealing, to stay in power, to do nothing can NOT be the right thing to do. To do nothing is to be an accomplice to the corruption of the evil ones now lording it over congress and the military.

At the very least, just not having a lying stealing cheating oligarch-coddler in the highest seat of power will already make a difference. As above, so below. Crooked leader, crooked people.

At least, this time we're not dealing with a conjugal conspiracy to take over the presidency a la the Arroyos in 2000-2001. This time we're dealing with a Vice President who, in fairness, has yet to say or do anything objectionable. The least we owe him, as a duly elected official, is the benefit of the doubt. Kung hindi tayo bibitaw, if we remain vigilant, or supportive of civil society's vigilant ones, and Noli de Castro is compelled to behave according to the highest standards of public service and public trust, the next two years can be painless, if not actually reformist.

(4) "The world will not forgive another EDSA" The world equates EDSA with political instability and mob rule.

But really, by removing GMA and her cohorts, we would be removing the cause of the political instability. Mob rule? Better to have people-powered nonviolent mob rule than a lying, cheating, stealing President whose armed forces are into extrajudicial killings.

Of course the world's ruling classes would hate it - what if their own people used it on them? As some have. And what if, eventually, we learned to use People Power to do away not just with immoral Presidents but also with systemic dysfunctions such as oligarchic rule and booty capitalism, the pork barrel, and an antiquated election system that our representatives in Congress are unable or unwilling to do anything about. What if their people took their cue from us? Why, we could change the world.

But we have to start here at home. After getting rid of GMA, we can start getting ready for the 2010 elections, put all presidentiables and vice-presidentiables, as well as senators and congressmen, on notice that what the nation needs are candidates who can agree on a a pro-Filipino vision and pro-Filipino program of government - thinking Filipinos who have a handle on political currents, local and global, who have the charisma to inspire and unite us fractious Pinoys into a creative whole, so that we can rise above our divided selves and find new sustainable ways of relating and dealing and doing business with each other, for each other.

posted in my blog february 26, 2008

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