July 22, 2006 Issue
On the cover: Antipolo Mayor A. Angelito Gatbalayan (with 7-page Antipolo
Supplement), c/o Advertising and Jing A. Mable
: Lindsay Lohan (c/o Gerard Ramos)
1. Not the Way to the Truth
Malacañang has done everything to stop the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines from supporting the new impeachment complaints against President Arroyo, from appeals through its officials and allies in the House of Representatives, to cajolery, to outright blasphemy, to bribery. The bishops conference, issuing a statement after its meeting on Monday, have made its position clear: In the light of previous circumstances, we are not inclined at present to favor the impeachment process as the means of establishing the truth. Unless all sides are after the common good, the conference says, the process will just be another unproductiveit should have said futileexercise. The conference wants the truth about the 2004 presidential election to be known, but the result of last years impeachment process and Mrs. Arroyos continuing control of the House of Representatives, the truth is unlikely to come out through the same process. Mrs. Arroyos allies have vowed to kill any impeachment complaint even before one could be brought against her. Their so-called appeals to bishops conference to stay neutral is telling the bishops that impeachment being politics, it is none of the prelates business. The church cannot do anything if the congressmen do not want to remove Mrs. Arroyo from power. The conference is not disputing that assertion, so as a group the conference is staying away, in fact, wont have anything to do, with the impeachment. But, in obedience to the Popes exhortation, it is allowing its members to be involved in the process. Being citizens of the Philippines, the bishops must not stay in the sidelines, but must take part in the determination of the truth. So Malacañang officials should not read meanings into the bishops conferences statement and Mrs. Arroyo should not thank the conference for it is not the churchs duty to reorder the Philippine government; its duty is to guide the Filipinos in their search for the truthfor now, at least. Not getting the message, the opposition is dismayed at the statement of the bishops conference. Why should they be dismayed when they themselves say they do not have the numbers to send any of the impeachment complaints to the Senate for trial? They should look for other, legal ways to remove Mrs. Arroyo from power, like banding together and choosing a strong and credible leader so that the people will have someone to lead them when the time comes to pressure the House majority to let an impeachment complaint pass or run Mrs. Arroyo out of Malacañang.
By Ricky S. Torre and Wendell Vigilia
2. Theres Still Hope
Two more Catholic priests, including the priest in the parish that has jurisdiction over Malacañang, and a group of Protestant pastors signed a complaint for the impeachment of President Arroyo. The complaint will be filed on July 24, when Mrs. Arroyo addresses a joint session of Congress. But the increasing number of complainants, even from the religious sector, is no guarantee of piercing the conscience of the majority in the House of Representatives. Those people have no conscience, period. If there is anything sure about the impeachment, it is the trashing of all of the complaints, and the reenactment of the 2005 budget, which gives Mrs. Arroyo power to juggle funds, is a guarantee that the trash bin will be filled to the brim. The administration has already laid the barrier to the acceptance of any of the complaints, so unless the Supreme Court takes up Rep. Clavel Martinezs petition before July 24, the House majority can just throw out the complaints. The House minority talks about working to get the required 78 votes to send at least one of the complaints to the Senate, but admits it could fail again to clear the procedural barrier. But there is one thing good about the increasing support for Mrs. Arroyos impeachment from the religious sector: with priests and pastors guiding the people in making decisions, Mrs. Arroyos allies will have difficulty winning support across the country for their reelection bid next year. A victory by the opposition in the midterm elections mean an opposition-dominated Congress and thats hope for Mrs. Arroyos impeachment. So the opposition and their allies in the public should defeat the administrations attempt to force a shift to parliamentary government. If they lose this one, they lose all chances of removing a potential dictator from power.
By Ricky S. Torre and Wendell Vigilia
3. Whats Their Crime?
Is Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim a coup plotter or is he President Arroyos savior? The word is that on or about February 24, junior military officers were pressuring Lim to lead an armed uprising against Mrs. Arroyo, who the junior officers believed was not their commander in chief. Having experienced coups during the term of President Corazon Aquino, Lim reportedly refused but agreed to lead troops of the First Scout Rangers Regiment, which he commanded, in withdrawing support for Mrs. Arroyo. By his reading of the law, he says, there is no such crime as withdrawal of support, the same argument that former National Labor Relations Commission chief Roy Señeres offers in defense of himself against government accusations that he was involved in an alleged coup by urging people to withdraw support for Mrs.Arroyo. The problem, however, is complicated by the supposed arrest week of six junior military officers, allegedly involved in the July 27, 2003 mutiny, and the recovery from them of explosives and a blueprint of the legislative complex in Quezon City. The implication is that there is a plot to attack the House of Representatives, possibly when Mrs. Arroyo addresses a joint session on Congress on July 24. Human rights advocates have no access to those arrested. Are they fall guys of some sort for another plan by the malign Arroyo government to crush the opposition? The release of a video tape showing Lim withdrawing his support for Mrs. Arroyo is also suspicious, being timed with the full-conference meeting of the Catholic bishops. Is the intention to sway the bishops conference to support Mrs. Arroyo? If that is the intention, it has failed because the bishops conference refuses to get involved in politics, although it allows its members, being citizens of the Philippines to get involved in politics, as in the impeachment of Mrs. Arroyo. Whatever is happening in the barracks, it is clear that the military is divided between the supporters of Mrs. Arroyo and those who doubt her legitimacy. In short, Mrs. Arroyo is the problem in the military.
By Guiller de Guzman and Wendell Vigilia
4. Not Now
Sen. Jamby Madrigal travels to Utrecht, the Netherlands, to try to revive interest among the Filipino communist leaders exiled there in the peace negotiations with the government. Madrigals objective is to stop the fight to the finish that President Arroyo has declared. Madrigal finds interest on the part of the National Democratic Front, but the government and the NDF must have official contact before the negotiations can resume. Madrigal is not an official emissary and, in fact, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales is threatening an investigation against Madrigal for talking to the rebels in Utrecht. Malacañang says Madrigals contacting the insurgent leaders is proof of the conspiracy between the communists and the political opposition to topple Mrs. Arroyo from power. Where else can you find a more stupid government? Malacañang, however, is not really uninterested in the peace talks. If the NPA is willing to agree to a cease-fire in an all-out war that the government itself declared, the Palace is willing to send its negotiators back to the table. Right now it wants to keep the military busy, especially the Scout Rangers and the Marinesthey must be kept away from Manila.
By Guiller de Guzman
5. Nursing a New Problem
You see them on the streets, on the train, on the bus, on the jeepyoung men and women dressed in white and wearing orthopedic shoes. They are students of nursing at schools in Manila that were not there 10 years ago. These schools have sprouted in the last few years when the United States, Canada, Britain and other European countries opened their borders to foreign nurses to meet the demand for health care of their aging populations. The rush to build new nursing schools and accommodate all comers has resulted in a sharp drop in the quality of Filipino nurses. The Commission on Higher Educations Technical Committee on Nursing Education blames this new problem on the commissions surrender to political and commercial interests. It seems that the commission and the committee have been clashing on this issue for some time, with the committee being largely ignored, forcing the members to resign last week. Not only is the rush to produce more overseas contract workers resulting in poorly trained nurses, it is also resulting in a brain drain that is leaving Philippine hospitals and clinics short-handed. Even doctors are going back to school to become nurses.
By Guiller de Guzman
Two (2) editorials