Martsa Kontra Cha-cha:

Bayan calls on public to resist con-ass and be vigilant vs emergency rule




June 30, 2009







March from QC Rotonda to Liwasan Bonifacio

Click here for march from Taft Avenue to Liwasan Bonifacio




News Release
June 30, 2009

Martsa Kontra Cha-cha: Bayan calls on public to resist con-ass and be vigilant vs emergency rule

Exactly one year before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term expires as president at noon on June 30, 2010, various groups, students, religious, and civil society formations held a march against charter change in the country’s capital.

Called the Martsa Kontra Cha-cha, the activity kicked off what organizers announced as month-long protests leading up to the State of the Nation Address of Mrs. Arroyo on July 27. The participants include university students, religious congregations, as well as Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Three marching columns coming from Welcome Rotonda, Taft Avenue and Intramuros were expected to converge at the Liwasang Bonifacio at around 6pm. The Liwasan program will consist of nationalist songs from the kundiman era. Expected to perform were violinist Coke Bolipata who will play Nicanor Abelardo’s Mutya ng Pasig. Activists from Bayan, Karapatan, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and the UP Alay Sining will sing Joey Ayala’s Wala nang Tao sa Sta. Filomena.

“We’ve held anti cha-cha protests in Makati, now we’re here in Manila, the country’s capital. We want the people here to prepare for the SONA because that could be the turning point in the Con-ass issue. We should be ready to protest what should definitely be Mrs. Arroyo’s last SONA,” said Bayan

“We call on the people to be ever vigilant against moves to declare a state of emergency. The recent bombings and bomb scares should not be used as a pretext for emergency rule or for the postponement of the national elections,” Reyes added.

Manual polls could favor plebiscite and cha-cha

Bayan also warned that the possible return to manual polls after the failed automation can still be favorable to the Arroyo administration.

“The proponents of charter change wish to time the plebiscite with the 2010 polls. That is their time table. Should the cheating machine work, this may well include rigging the results of the plebiscite and thus pave the way for the transition to a parliamentary form of government,” Reyes said.

“We must step up protests leading up to the SONA. Right now, everything is up in the air. There is so much uncertainty being created by this regime. The people have not other recourse but to take direct action to prevent cha-cha, emergency rule and the rigging of the 2010 polls,” he added.



Black Friday protests toward SONA kick off Bayan slams LPG price hike, says cooking gas overpriced by P7.71 per kg

Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today slammed the P3 per kilogram (kg) hike in the prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and argued that oil firms should even rollback petroleum prices by about P7.71 per kg.

The group issued the statement as it held a noise barrage in Welcome Rotonda, Quezon City to mark the start of its month-long “Black Friday” protests that will culminate in a huge mobilization during Mrs. Gloria Arroyo’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

On Wednesday, the country’s two biggest oil players, Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell implemented an identical P3 per kg increase in their LPG prices. But Bayan said that based on movements in global oil prices and foreign exchange rate, oil players owe consumers a rollback of around P7.71 per kg as of last month.

The group has earlier accused oil companies of pocketing P167.03 million every day from continued overpricing of all petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and LPG. Based on its study, Bayan said that the Big Three oil firms (Petron, Shell, and Chevron Philippines) accumulate an estimated P138.14 million every day from overpriced petroleum products. Petron accounted for P64.64 million daily of the said amount; followed by Shell, P49.94 million; and Chevron, P23.55 million. A distant fourth is Total Philippines, which like the Big Three is also a local unit of a giant foreign oil firm, with P7.52 million a day. The rest of the oil players combined for P21.38 million.

Bayan said that the unabated increases in oil prices and continued overpricing of petroleum products under the Oil Deregulation Law are among the major issues that Mrs. Arroyo must be held accountable for. The group accused Mrs. Arroyo of tolerating the abuses of the oil companies led by the Big Three because her administration also benefits from such abuses through the 12% value added tax (VAT) imposed on oil products. Bayan estimates that Malacañang pockets almost P22.78 million daily in VAT from overpriced petroleum, on top of its regular VAT collections from oil products.

That the oil companies and the Arroyo administration are conniving to exploit the consumers amid worsening poverty and joblessness in the country depicts the real state of the nation and the people today, a reality that Mrs. Arroyo will surely distort in her upcoming SONA, said Bayan.

Bayan and its member-organizations said it will hold protest actions every Friday in the coming weeks to inform the people about the true state of the nation and encourage them to join its planned mobilization on Arroyo’s July 27 SONA.

Mrs. Arroyo has been in power for almost nine years now and throughout her term, the people have suffered grave abuse and exploitation as shown by unhampered oil price hikes and overpricing, said the group. Bayan said that the people must work together to ensure that this will be Arroyo’s last SONA. (END)



News Release
26 June 2009

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-322-1203


As the rainy season starts, militant women's group GABRIELA kicked off the women's storm of protest against charter change expected to culminate on the State of the Nation Address on July 27. This morning, members of the women's group lined up along España for an hour-long noise barrage as part of the build-up action for the Marcha Kontra ChaCha on June 30 where various religious, youth, cause-oriented and civil society groups will hold a march throughout the city of Manila.

"Women together with the rest of the Filipino people vow to foil any and all attempts of Gloria Arroyo and her minions of charter changer and to extend her term. We will not allow her to continue committing crimes against women and the people," said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.

De Jesus said that the people are not being fooled by Arroyo's denial of any involvement in the charter change moves of Congress and the government's tactic of sending feelers on options on how to extend Arroyo's term. "Arroyo is desperate as her power nears its end. She is dead-set in perpetuating her power through the amendment of the constitution, "revolutionary" government or imposition of Martial Law."

"Should Arroyo insist on any of these schemes despite the protest of the people, Arroyo can very well expect a term reduction rather than extension. She will be ousted," said de Jesus.

The women's group said that their group is now actively campaigning in communities, schools, factories and offices nationwide for women to join the various protest actions against charter change.

"The reception of the people our campaign has reached so far is positive. Women, in general, have had it with the Arroyo regime with its long list of crimes including corruption, human rights violations, and denial of basic services. We expect the number of women joining the protest actions will increase until the State of the Nation Address on July 27," de Jesus concluded. ###

Kodao Video: People's march against Cha-cha and the Con-Ass


National Union of Students of the Philippines [NUSP]
National Office Office of the Student Regent, Vinzon’s Hall, UP Diliman, QC Telephone 9818500 loc. 4511 or 4512

June 27, 2009
ALVIN PETERS, National President, 09206209362
VANESSA FAYE BOLIBOL, Chairperson NUSP NCR Chapter, 09293614592
BUGSY NOLASCO, Media Liaison Officer, 09064549475

NUSP Metro Manila student leaders congress makes a stand against charter change

The National Union of Students of the Philippine’s Metro Manila student leaders congress today registered a strong opposition to administration-backed charter change.

The congress was attended by student council leaders from the University of the Philippines Diliman and Manila, De La Salle University Manila, De La Salle Araneta University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Lyceum of the Philippines University, St. Paul University Manila, Trinity University of Asia, St. Scholastica’s College Manila, Far Eastern University, Philippine Normal University, City of Malabon University and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

NUSP NCR Chairperson Vanessa Faye Bolibol said that a “moderate” assault to charter change won’t suffice. The challenge she says is to “consolidate our ranks” and launch “massive, creative and forceful mass actions” that would manifest the general dissent of the youth and the people against cha-cha.

The congress was highlighted by a symbolic action wherein student leaders, with invited speakers Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino and Representative Ruffy Biazon, signed a magnified anti-cha-cha petition, committing themselves to the campaign.

As a major convenor of Kabataan Kontra Cha-cha, a broad alliance of youth groups and student councils against President Arroyo’s charter change, NUSP challenged the student councils to further contribute to the anti-cha-cha campaign by launching mass protests in their respective schools, in addition to mobilizing their fellow youth to bigger actions.

The student leaders congress passed a resolution to join the next broad anti-cha-cha protest set on June 30, 2009.


  RAM and Erap groups  


Media Release
21 June 2009
Reference: Clemente Bautista Jr. National Coordinator, Kalikasan-PNE 09228449787

Environmental activists slam Pres. Arroyo's sellout of lands to foreign corporations

The news of a United Kingdom firm, Pacific Bio-Fields Holdings Plc., acquiring 400,000 hectares of land in northern Luzon which it can use for 50 years for free may be staggering but not surprising, according to green groups.

"This is just another case of sellout of our patrimony to foreigners, which the Arroyo administration is very good at," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of militant environmental group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

According to Bautista, "This is not the first time the Arroyo administration gave vast tracts of agricultural lands to foreign biofuel corporations. In May 2007, state-owned PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corp. signed a US$1.3 deal with British company NRG Chemical Engineering Pte. The Arroyo administration committed one million hectares of agricultural land to the project.”

NRG Chemical will own a 70 percent stake in the joint venture and provide the bulk of the equity requirement in building a biodiesel refinery, two ethanol plants and a million-hectare jatropha plantation, making it a foreign-owned venture.

The group pointed out that the selling of lands does not stop at biofuel projects but extends to other industries Pres. Arroyo is adamantly promoting, like mining.

"Arroyo has legalized foreign corporations to fully own our lands particularly transnational mining companies (mining TNCs). Such as the case in the mining projects of Swedish corporation Xstrata and New Zealand's Oceana Gold which own 31,600 hectares in South Cotabato and 21,465 hectares in Nueva Vizcaya, respectively,” Mr. Bautista explained.

Based on government data, as of July 2008 almost 600,000 hectares of our lands is under 544 mining concession which most of it are directly and indirectly owned by foreign mining TNCs.

The group cited other instances like in 2006 when the Arroyo administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a $1 billion mining deal with ZTE Mining Corporation allowing the said company to own thousands of hectares of mineral lands and 90% of gold reserve in Mt. Diwalwal in Mindanao.

Another was in 2007 where President Arroyo signed a bilateral trade agreement with Chinese and Vietnamese corporations, which is the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU). Many legal luminaries and politicians saw the JMSU illegal and equivalent of surrendering our sovereignty in Kalayaan group of islands.

The group warned that based on Arroyo's track record and greed for power and wealth, she will continue to make dubious agreements with foreign corporations and sell our natural resources.

“This is one of the reasons why the Arroyo administration is so adamant in pushing for charter change (cha-cha) through constituent assembly (con-Ass). By eliminating nationalistic provisions in the constitution, foreigners will have their free way to own and exploit our lands and natural resources," stated Bautista.

He furthered that, “If President Arroyo and her minions would be successful in their Cha-cha initiative and in extending their rule in Malacanang, they will continue getting the lion's share of kickbacks by brokering our natural resources and lands to foreign capitalists."

National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the majority at their core.

  Marching bands  
Program at Liwasan Bonifacio


26 June 2009

Selling 13% of Philippine land: a taste of Cha-Cha’s total economic sabotage

Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakpawis Partylist strongly called for the cancellation of an agreement for the reforestation of 400,000 hectares of Northern Luzon for biodiesel production.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas earlier revealed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources allowed a Japanese firm based in the UK, Pacific Bio-Fields Holding, and its local counterpart, Bio-Energy NL, to utilize an area equivalent to 13% of Philippine land for coconut biodiesel plantation for the next 50 years.

“This gives us a glimpse of what the 100% sell-out of our country’s resources looks like. This is the kind of outrage that Cha-Cha will allow to happen. This is the kind of bribe that Arroyo wants to give foreign capitalists through the Cha-Cha, in exchange of their support for her political survival,” said Joselito Ustarez, KMU Executive Vice President.

“This is a most brutal betrayal of national patrimony. Arroyo is paving the way for out and out recolonization of the Philippines.

“Our people are driven away from their homes, obliged to toil lands they can never own, forced to work in foreign multinationals under cruel working conditions, and this is already happening even without the Cha-Cha.

“The Arroyo regime makes it very difficult for Filipinos to acquire land ownership, while it speedily grants exclusive use of more than a tenth of our national territory to foreign companies. Clearly, Gloria Arroyo has once again proven her faithful service to foreign interests.

“We should deliver our full defiance to foreign exploitation and plunder, to Arroyo and her Cha-Cha, before all that is left of what we have is gone,” challenged Ustarez.

Renato Reyes of BAYAN
Fr. Joe Dizon of Solidarity Philippines


by Dr.Carol Araullo

June 25, 2009

Revolutionary option

AFP Chief Gen. Victor Ibrado recently admitted that the military is having difficulty meeting the deadline imposed by de facto Commander-in-chief Mrs. Gloria Arroyo three years ago, to end the decades-old communist insurgency in 2010. (Philippine Star, 22 June 09) This was after he and his predecessors had repeatedly boasted that the military was on track in achieving the defeat of the New People’s Army (NPA). The lame excuse is that the armed guerillas “are just crisscrossing borders and transferring to another guerilla front” even when the AFP had already allegedly “dismantled” the political and military infrastructures of numerous rebel fronts.

One need not be an expert on military strategy and tactics to know that guerillas by nature employ flexibility and shifting tactics. This is a guerilla movement’s way of dealing with the overwhelming superiority, in terms of numbers and weapons, of the state’s armed forces at any given point. Instead, it makes use of the favorable physical and social terrain in the countryside, i.e. the rugged mountains and remaining forested areas as well as the support of the rural populace, to conduct their type of revolutionary warfare.

Time and again ruling regimes announce the impending demise of armed revolutionary movements in much the same vein and for the same reasons that they belittle the democratic protest movement. The aim is to conjure strength and stability, to foist the illusion of popular acceptance if not support, because government is supposedly undertaking reforms that address the causes of armed conflict and mass protest actions.

Deceptive propaganda works up to a certain point given government resources and numerous levers to manipulate, if not control, the mass media. But reality always catches up and the truth becomes so glaring that the regime’s minions are compelled to eat their words and offer the lamest of excuses or persist in the most egregious of lies.

In the early 70’s, President Ferdinand Marcos declared that the NPA had been “nipped in the bud” after AFP troops seized more than a dozen high-power rifles in a Tarlac raid. But the NPA raided the Philippine Military Academy armory at the end of the year, carting away much more than what was lost in Tarlac.

In the 80’s, Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and the Regional Unified Command Commanding General Romeo Gatan vowed to rid Cagayan Valley of the NPA in a year’s time. Thereafter they complained that the NPA refused to come out and engage the AFP in conventional battles.

In the 90’s, AFP Chief Gen. Abadia declared Oplan Lambat Bitag a success and concluded that the NPA would be wiped out by 1995. His successor, Gen. Enrile, declared “decisive victory” over the NPA but candidly admitted that the latter is like a grapevine that could lose its leaves and fruit but would continue to thrive as long as it still has roots.

Then came the current counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya, notorious the world over for the deliberate and brutal targeting of suspected civilian supporters, including unarmed activists, for “neutralization”. The latter is military lingo for summary execution, abduction, illegal arrest and detention on trumped-up charges and other tactics to terrorize entire communities and keep them from giving aid and succor to the so-called “enemy”. The AFP documentary “Knowing the Enemy” justified such state terror tactics as the missing crucial piece in the AFP strategy in order to explain away its previous failures.

Frustration and desperation within the AFP leadership was expressed by a ranking general known to be a proponent of extra-judicial killings who reportedly said, “If this doesn’t work, nothing will.” These are the same words of a US Central Intelligence Agency officer in defending “Oplan Phoenix” versus civilian targets.

What the Arroyo regime refuses to acknowledge is the real reason why its “all-out war” policy can never defeat the communist-led armed revolutionary movement. Mrs. Arroyo, her generals (both those in active duty and those recycled into powerful civilian posts) and other Cabinet right-wingers cannot accept that it is precisely the vastly unequal, extremely oppressive and exploitative and, ultimately repressive prevailing social system that is fuelling armed conflict and social unrest. And that no amount of military might nor strategy and tactics can wipe out the people’s legitimate struggles, armed or unarmed.

They deny the reality and refuse to accept the truth even when such is staring them in the face because their own interests are so tied-up with defending and preserving the status quo apart from advancing the Arroyo clique’s particular selfish interests.

Too bad for the reactionaries there exists a homegrown revolutionary movement that presents a clear-sighted, historical analysis of the problems of Philippine society and a matching program to overhaul it.

Whether one sympathizes with it or not, the fact is this revolutionary movement is present and exerts significant political influence. It continues to challenge the ruling system and regime in power at every turn and raises the possibility of overturning the crisis-ridden system one day and introducing a radically different alternative, with an entirely new set of political ideals, principles, values and work ethic not to mention socio-economic program.

Both the promise of profound, sweeping change and the growing actual strength of this movement is what continue to rile the Arroyo regime and unsettle the entire ruling elite.

And should the Arroyo clique, faced with a constitutional limit to Mrs. Arroyo’s continuation in power beyond 2010, resort to outright, wholesale perversion of the remaining vestiges of democratic rule by manipulating Congress and the Supreme Court and by declaring emergency rule, there remains a wide countryside that can provide sanctuary as well as a fighting terrain while hitherto legal, democratic rights and processes are severely constrained.

Senate President Ponce Enrile warns of revolution should the 2010 elections not push through because of failure of the automated electoral system being set up by the Commission on Elections. Mr. Enrile is being facetious because he, as one of the architects of martial rule under the dictator Marcos, knows quite well that a revolution has been and is even now raging nationwide. It finds expression in armed forms in the countryside while seething in the cities and towns in the various forms of protests and mass actions demanding pro-people and democratic reforms. In a society in permanent crisis such as the Philippines, the revolutionary movement is an inevitable and, to many sectors, a welcome offshoot.

Perhaps what Senator Enrile means is that the deceptive trappings of elite democracy in this country will be sundered rapidly, dramatically and irreparably should the electoral circus slated for 2010 be completely disrupted for one reason or another. Revolution then will be more than a theoretical option to many more Filipinos. #



June 14, 2009

“Con-Ass” and the people’s wrath

The anti-Charter change (Chacha) and anti-Arroyo forces had barely a week to mount the muscle-flexing protest action yesterday in Ayala Avenue, Makati City and in major urban centers nationwide. They achieved a big measure of success by gathering thousands in Makati and thousands more in various cities and big towns nationwide. They displayed broad participation by the organizations of the basic sectors among the working people, the civic, professional and artist groups, the Catholic religious congregations and some bishops, the protestant churches, the opposition leaders and parties, and government officials and military/police officers critical of the Arroyo regime.

Earlier mini-protests erupted in various parts of Metro Manila and “viral” protest spread as well in the virtual world of the internet giving a foretaste of what could lie ahead for the Arroyo clique as it schemes, manipulates and buys its ways to staying in power beyond 2010, the Constitutionally-mandated end of GMA’s term in office.

There is no denying that a vast majority of the people have had enough of Mrs.Arroyo and her ilk. The crimes of her regime just keep mounting despite the many times that she has been caught red-handed. She has willfully ignored calls for accountability by the people, by the political opposition, religious and business leaders and even by the international community appalled at rampant human rights violations.

Shamelessly, Mrs. Arroyo has clung to power; she has refused to resign. She has used emergency rule and various other draconian measures including extrajudicial killings, militarization of rural and urban poor communities, illegal arrest and detention and the filing of trumped-up criminal charges against her perceived enemies, to prevent her ouster through popular uprising.

Mrs. Arroyo and her clique have come up against Constitutional term limits that makes her stepping down from power a given. She could appoint a loyal and pliant presidential candidate for the national elections in 2010 and utilize all the dirty tricks in the books (and some she has invented) to make that candidate “win” in order to buy political insurance for herself and her cohorts. The same way she preempted every impeachment move by buying off the “honorable” members of the HOR; the way she squelched every investigation into anomalies of her administration by appointing a subservient Ombudsman; and the way she stopped every attempt to pry open inquiry into the most scandalous of corrupt government deals by her hold on the Supreme Court, majority of whom are her appointees.

But obviously that isn’t enough to ensure protection from being haled to court once she loses her presidential immunity. Similarly, she cannot predict where the political winds may blow once out of power; political debts can be easily forgotten or overtaken by the pressing concerns of the new administration whose own interests may no longer coincide with that of Mrs. Arroyo.

This is the real reason for the desperate, despicable and brazenly unconstitutional move called “Con-Ass”, recently railroaded by Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives (HOR), by the mere expedient of a majority vote on House Resolution 1109 sponsored by no less than Speaker Prospero Nograles. H.R. 1109 empowers Congress to convene as a constituent assembly in order to revise the Philippine Constitution by two thirds of all congressmen and senators voting jointly. And since the more than 200 members of the Lower House vastly outnumber the 24 members of the Senate, this bogus Constituent Assembly can be convened and make revisions in the Charter even without a single senator participating.

The illegal and fake Constituent Assembly, packed by Arroyo allies whose compliance to her marching orders are ensured by millions-worth of incentives, will undertake the shift to a parliamentary system from the current presidential system. In this way, Mrs. Arroyo can run as a representative in her congressional district and manipulate her way into becoming prime minister later on by simply buying off the majority of members of parliament.

Time and so many legal impediments seem to make this scenario untenable. Still, all the moves of Mrs. Arroyo and her allies constitute an undeniable trail of deception, lies, maneuvers, buy-offs and quid-pro-quos that point the way to this as the major ploy of the Arroyo clique.

Despite Mrs. Arroyo’s posturing that the merger of the two political parties loyal to her, the Lakas-CMD and Kampi, is proof positive that the 2010 presidential elections are pushing through as scheduled, the truth is such a merger party is precisely what Mrs. Arroyo will use to bamboozle the opposition once she moves to get the prime minister position in a new Parliament.

For someone supposedly so focused on the business of running the country, Mrs. Arroyo has noticeably gone on frequent sorties into her hometown and adjoining towns, part of the Congressional district in Pampanga where she will likely run for congressperson. Now why should a former president of the country be interested in running for the lowly post of a congressperson if this isn’t the stepping stone to the most powerful post in a parliamentary form of government?

Will the fear of the people’s wrath give pause to Mrs. Arroyo and her evil cabal of plotters? At this point it is clear that this hardly is the case. The Arroyo clique has taken an important lesson from the Marcos Dictatorship on what are crucial to achieve their Machiavellian designs. First is to secure the backing of the United States government (it will give the “democratic” imprimatur to the recycled Arroyo regime via Con-Ass and shift to parliamentary system). Then ensure the loyalty of the military and police generals; the blessings of enough voices among the church hierarchy and big business community; and the chorus of servile “ayes” from so-called parliamentarians and local government officials fattened by pork barrel and other perks.

The Arroyo clique is betting that the elite classes who rule this country and the lone Super Power, the US of A, can be enticed to see things its way; that is, the Arroyo clique’s narrow interests as key to protecting and upholding their own immediate and strategic interests. For example, apart from changing the Charter in order to make possible Mrs. Arroyo’s continuing hold on the reigns of power in this country, Mrs. Arroyo uses as bait constitutional amendments that will allow foreign investors to acquire ownership and control over all natural resources and economic enterprises to the extent of 100 per cent and to sell out the economic sovereignty and national patrimony of the Filipino people.

US and other foreign military forces are to be allowed unrestricted stay and operations in the Philippines not just by means of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) but by Constitutional fiat. Many of the constitutional provisions against the basing of foreign military forces and nuclear, chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction on Philippine soil are under threat of being excised from the basic law of the land. The Arroyo regime also wants to remove the constitutional restraints on martial law, emergency rule and violations of human rights. It seeks to undermine formal guarantees of civil and political liberties in the bill of rights achieved in the wake of the people’s victory over the US- backed Marcos dictatorship.

One lesson that the Arroyo clique has obviously failed to learn is that the inevitable ending for dictators and would-be dictators in this country and elsewhere in the world is the dust-bin of history. The people’s wrath and courageous, persistent mass struggles will definitely see to that. #

Mo. Mary John Mananzan▲, Fr. Joe Dizon▲ and Film Director Carlitos Siquion-Reyna ▼
Singing "Bayan Ko"

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

What it takes

The political future of this country continues to defy simplistic and worn-out notions especially about how the festering crisis of legitimacy hounding the Arroyo regime can be quickly resolved. Those placing their hopes in the 2010 elections as the definitive way to end Mrs. Arroyo’s shaky and detested reign have been jolted by Malacanang’s brazen maneuverings to maintain hold on power. The run-up to the 2010 elections is hands down already the most chaotic, riddled with controversy and shrouded with doubt and uncertainty.

There is the last-ditch attempt to amend the 1987 Constitution by utilizing Mrs. Arroyo’s hold on the Lower House of Congress to convene a supposed “constituent assembly” sans Senate participation. The plan includes getting judicial stamp of approval for this political jujitsu from a Supreme Court dominated by Mrs. Arroyo’s appointees and who have time and again proven themselves pliant to her wishes.

The Arroyo clique would then move to shift to a parliamentary system that would allow Mrs. Arroyo, by this time representing her hometown district in Pampanga, to run for Prime Minister. Should she win she would enjoy all the power, perks and privileges of the office including immunity from suit for the multiple crimes of plunder, human rights violations, electoral fraud and treasonous ceding of national sovereignty and patrimony to foreign interests. By the way, the post of prime minister, by nature of the parliamentary system, would have no term limits; theoretically, Mrs. Arroyo could go on ruling this god-forsaken country indefinitely.

Efforts to reform the fraud-ridden electoral process by installing an automated system that would cut short the time for counting, transmitting and consolidating the poll results have only added confusion to an already confusing situation. From the simple idea of speeding things up using computers, it has become increasingly clear that what could actually happen -- with a questionable and even flawed bidding process, a cheating mafia still embedded in the Comelec , and technology only a curiously select few control – is large-scale automated cheating OR a pre-determined failure of elections.

The latest twist has the winning bidder for the automated electoral system or AES inexplicably caught up in what appears to be “irreconcilable differences” not unlike a marriage gone sour even before the honeymoon had started. The withdrawal of the local partner TIM from its joint venture with the Dutch company Smartmatic is another explosive ingredient to the extremely volatile election run-up with just a little more than 10 months to go. The belief is rife that TIM's move is part of a scheme to ensure and strengthen the Arroyo regime's control of the election results.

The various conspiracy theories behind the TIM-Smartmatic break-up; the most recent spate of bombings including, according to the police, intentional duds; fresh rumors of a military coup; and the shrouded but no less ominous threat of a Palace coup via the National Security Adviser’s call for a “transition government” preceding the shift to a parliamentary system as the only way to resolve the political crisis -- are testament to the confusing state of affairs the country is currently embroiled in.

The Arroyo regime is always quick to accuse the entire breadth of the legal opposition of politicking, destabilization, sabotage and worse. We suspect it does so not so much to convince anyone except the most ignorant or naïve but to give the Arroyo loyalists something to defend her with, no matter if they sound like a broken record.

For good reason most people suspect government behind every hitch or problem that crops up. This kind of thinking only shows the extent and degree to which the Arroyo regime has lost its credibility. More so it reveals how the regime has mangled its mandate and responsibility to the people beyond redemption and how its overweening ambition and desperation to stay in power pushes it to bring the ruling system perilously to the brink.

There are those who, fed up with accusations and counter-accusations, hold government and the opposition equally responsible for the deteriorating situation, for seeding doubt and cynicism in the political atmosphere to suit their own sinister and self-serving ends. It is a view that the Arroyo regime at times welcomes, and even deliberately nurtures. For it somehow obscures and glosses over the fact that it is government that is vested with the power and resources to promote national interest and the common good.

There are those who stick their heads in the sand ignoring the dangerous developments taking place. For example, some persist in “Get out and vote!” campaigns seemingly oblivious that at the rate things are going, there may be no elections whatsoever or that only a thoroughly corrupted electoral process would actually take place.

Some, especially presidential wannabes and other candidates for the 2010 elections, have not skipped a beat in their single-minded determination to win, going full blast with their campaign advertisements, provincial sorties and machinery building.

Self-proclaimed “alternative” candidates or putative movements for change and good governance come up with all sorts of seemingly novel approaches to choosing deserving candidates in the 2010 elections without facing the reality of a downright rotten and discredited electoral system that would frustrate any attempt to express and uphold the will, if not the true interests, of the electorate.

What is needed at this time is a concerted, unwavering and focused political campaign to thwart the Arroyo clique’s evil scheme to convene the bogus “constituent assembly”, acquire the Supreme Court’s imprimatur for this, and thus gain the legal leeway to shift to a form of government, including the institution of a transition period, whereby Mrs. Arroyo remains in power.

This requires massive and sustained mobilizations or demonstrations (and the widespread information and educational campaigns that are their sine qua non) up to and including the possibility of a popular, unarmed uprising to oust this criminal gang from the Presidential Palace. The rank and file and junior officers of the military and police must be convinced to refrain from being used to violently suppress such a protest movement. Those in the civilian bureaucracy must be convinced to withdraw their support in various creative ways for this outlaw of a regime. The international community must be convinced that the Oust Arroyo Movement is legitimate, popularly and broadly supported and inevitable -- should Mrs. Arroyo push through with its ill-disguised grab for power.

Nothing short of this monumental display of direct people’s action -- of “people power” -- can stop the Arroyo cabal in its tracks. #

Anakapwis Rep. Joel Maglunsod
Anakpawis Secretary General Cherry Clemente and Rep. Joel Maglunsod
Mameng Diunida of KADAMAY and Beng Hernandez of HUSTISYA sing Bayan Ko
This track, este truck, was used as the stage. At the end of the program it was going to its garage in Quezon city. Student rallyists vs the cha-cha filled up for a free ride.