[top to bottom: Rep Luz Illagan, Gabriella Women's Party; Rep Ocampo, Bayan Muna; Rep. Beltran, Anakpawis]
* * *
“’But what shall we substitute in it's place,’ you say? What? A ferocious animal has sucked the blood of my relatives. I tell you to rid yourselves of this beast, and you ask me what you shall put in it's place?"—Voltaire
CBT’s “People Power,” the recent Toronto visit of three progressive Philippine congresspersons, and the continuing bad news coming from the homeland has a lot in the Filipino community and others wondering about what to do about politics in the Phils.
I think a lot of us accept that there is a lot wrong with the Philippine gov:
- Over 900 have been killed for political reasons, and over 200,000 affected by military operations during Arroyo's term in office [former according to Karapatan, latter by UNICEF, both supported by the UN Special Rapporteur Report]
- It’s considered the most corrupt in Southeast Asia—a spot once held by Indonesia [according to ‘Political and Economic Risk Consultancy’]
- Between 2000-05 it was the most dangerous place in the world for a journalist to work, in 2006 it was number two (Iraq took over #1), and now it’s number three [according to Reporters Without Borders]. This number only went down (with the political killings) because of the international pressure which led to the UN Special Rapporteur visit--see link below.
- Despite a growing GDP (due to privatization of public assests, and increased foreign investment in commodities like gold), real economic growth (ie. more money for the common people) is worse than nonexistent, it’s shrinking.
Because of the above there has been a growing voice to remove the current Arroyo administration from power. The problem is: What happens next???
That question has been a major hurdle for a lot of Filipinos in-country and abroad. And though I understand it, I am reminded of the Voltaire quote I led off this piece with.
Well, despite my old obsession with Voltaire, I think this question does deserve an answer. Rep. Satur Ocampo, the former Marcos-era political prisoner who was imprisoned longer than anyone else, spoke at U of T last week and gave an answer.
He told the crowded room that there were three options on the table (should the Arroyo regime be ousted):
1) Constitutional Succession
2) A Snap Election
3) A Temporary Civilian Transition Government
With the first option, GMA would be forced to step down and the vice president would become president. The problem here is that Noli de Castro is a GMA team player. The former news broadcaster is not expected to be any different from Gloria.
With the second option, the problem is much like the first. An election would only pit political elites in an electoral contest with no likelihood for much change as the interests of the elite do would be to keep the status quo.
And the final option, and the one that these three congresspersons seem to subscribe to, is that after the ouster of GMA that the constitution of the Philippines be renewed by a Civilian Transition Government made up of all the political groups in the government, with the participation of established social justice groups. A timeline would be set for recreating the system that creates and governs government, and with that the Philippines could begin anew.
This third option is not without problems:
- Is this kind of a political “reset” button really possible?
- How would the composition of this temp transition gov be decided—and by whom?
- And would the powers that be in the Phils and abroad really allow this to happen?
What do you think? I have struggled with this question myself and I would love to hear what others think…
* * *
Karapatan 2007 Human Rights Report: http://stopthekillings.org/stknpv2/files/karapatan_2007hr_report.pdf
UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston confirmed much of this in his 2007 report and clearly points the finger at the government. To download his final report please visit: http://stopthekillings.org/stknpv2/?q=resources/60/alston%E2%80%99s-final-report-rp-extrajudicial-killings