Here, you will understand the major reasons behind some of the major moves that the administration of Duterte has made – why COMELEC chairman was removed, why Chief Justice Sereno is being threatened with impeachment, why the media is being harassed, why the President is offering to double the salaries of the teachers – all in a coherent manner. These are just parts of one grand scheme. Read on to know what’s going on…
(Disclaimer: views expressed on this blog are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the truth. -Lulu Mendez)
Our Next Battleground – Charter Change (Cha-Cha) for Federalism
I have been saying since early last year that the primary goal of Duterte is the establishment of Federalism (& the associated Parliamentary system of government) in the country, and that he will employ any means to achieve it, or simply, by hook or crook. This is the primary reason why he played around with the idea of nationwide martial law and revolutionary government. But trying to justify martial law proved to be too costly with the almost total destruction of Marawi City, and the revolutionary government was repudiated by his two top men. If – and that is a big if – Duterte has totally abandoned both options, he will have to go through the entire process through the normal means, which will be a very tedious one, to say the least, that will test the patience of our impatient president. (But let us make no mistake about it, the possibilities of martial law and revolutionary government are still there.) And to add to Duterte’s dilemma, there is no guarantee that federalism-parliamentary system will be passed by the people in the plebiscite. But the impatient president wants it quick and sure. If no martial law or revolutionary government, how can he do so? There is only one way, by creating a cheating apparatus which will be operated through that seemingly normal process. To create a cheating machine, the administration has to control and manipulate the important components of the process, and the methods to control them will basically be threat-coercion-bribery or TCB. Here is the list:
1. Congress – the congress is solidly in administration’s hands so there is nothing to worry about here for the President;
Headline from Manila Bulletin
2. Comelec – this is one of the top, if not the top, entity that will have direct hand in the most important process of establishing federalism – the plebiscite. Therefore, controlling Comelec is one of the most important step. Now you know why former Comelec Chairman was first to go;
Headline from Rappler
3. Supreme Court – As this coming cha-cha is expected to completely mangle our hallowed constitution, there are possibilities that there might be attempts to bring every questionable moves to the Supreme Court for resolution during the whole process, which will be, to say the least, very time consuming. This will of course derail their fast-tracked timetable and further hamper the process – something our impatient president loathes, and he has made it known publicly that he doesn’t like TRO’s, warning the courts in no uncertain terms not to issue them. So again, you now know why Chief Justice Sereno could be next in line. But if it reaches the senate, there is a possibility the senators will acquit Sereno. I have little faith left in the senate and it will probably play an important part in our fight against federalism, assuming the administration fails to appease the senators; (But there is also a probability that this impeachment move can be halted. Why? Simply because it is unnecessary. Unlike the BBL law, the cha-cha involves the change in the constitution itself which will be brought to the people for decision. Any attempt to delay the proceedings can be easily swept aside by the dictatorial president if he really wanted to.)
4. Media – Duterte needs maximum media coverage and support to convince the people to vote for his federalism-parliamentary system of government. But the media has been his most thorny problem and thus he will try to silence the opposing media personalities as best he can, while at the same time helping the friendly media propagate their federalism propaganda. It’s here, TCB will be put to maximum use. These are some examples:
- Aside from forcing the Inquirer newspaper to go into the hands of his ally, Duterte has also threatened, and at the same time, is trying to coerce, ABS-CBN into supporting his federalism campaign:
- The administration has been harassing online news outfit Rappler ever since it took power, climaxing with the revocation of its licence just now (while I’m writing this), forcing it to shut down:
- And for the “bribery” part: recently, Andanar’s PCOO came up with a program to help journalist, the Duterte Media Fund – this could turn out to be the primary source and outlet for the administration’s slush-fund for mediamen:
- And the strangest of coincidences, GMA channel 7’s sister radio station, DZBB and PTV-4 government TV station came out just last week with a highly dubious, and obviously fake, SWS survey showing a lopsided Duterte approval rating versus Pnoy, with an unbelievable margin of 70 to 8:
Duterte Administration’s Greatest Fake News – SWS Says the Survey is not One of its Published Surveys; FAKE? Read & You be the Judge
5. Teachers – in any voting exercises, teachers play one of the most important part because they are the ones who are directly in touch with the voters and the voting itself. Here, the B, or bribery, of the TCB will primarily be employed (Is it a coincidence that the President floated the idea of doubling teacher’s pay just last week?)
6. Local Government, from governors down to barangay leaders – the administration needs the local government to lay the foundation for their cheating operation. It will probably manipulate them with bribes and with threats, another area where TCB will be put to maximum use. (Don’t forget Duterte’s infamous and incredible narco-list, where one of his top nemesis was listed on the top as a drug queen. He can put any local official on his dubious list anytime – swords hanging over the heads of each of them.)
(Update) One day after I posted this blog, this headline came out:
7. Police and the Military – will primarily be used to clear the road, so to speak, for the smooth sailing of the government’s federalism operation from any trouble or troublemakers. They may also be used for coercion, but will probably operate from the sidelines and in the shadows most of the time.
So these units will have to be manipulated in a well-coordinated manner to make sure federalism will be established in the country without much hindrance. The congress lays down the foundation, the COMELEC handles the voting mechanism, the Supreme Court will make sure it will not be an obstacle, the media will sing the Alleluia song, the teachers will make sure the voters and their votes are handled in manner the administration wants, and the local government will prepare their constituents so that they will vote in accordance with the wish of Malacañang. Police and military will be there to enforce Duterte’s order during the period.
The Opposition – Harassment to Continue
The administration will try to do everything to keep the opposition silent. They could do this only by threatening them with harassment cases, which they have been doing ever since Duterte became president. They would probably use their favorite harassment weapons like the PDAF, DAP and Dengvaxia cases, which they have been using all along. And as soon as they can find new ones, they will not hesitate to use them. But will the opposition be cowed? Let us hope not…
Fait accompli? Don’t be too sure. Anything can happen between now and the the time of the plebiscite. The President is so impulsive that I’m sure he’ll make major blunders along the way, or so I hope. And the senate, made up of better stuff – excuse me – I mean, with different self-interests, will probably resist federalism, unless the administration can cajole and coax them, by offering them something they can’t resist. So as of now, the Senate will be our only hope and our best ally in our fight against federalism.
The Brewing Feud in Congress – Senate versus House -and- the PDP Laban itself – Speaker Alvarez vs. Senate President Pimentel
As expected, there is a rivalry brewing between the upper and lower chambers of congress. The senators are feeling they are being upended by their lower house colleagues. The administration and its ally, the super-majority in congress, want unicameral Parliament, thereby abolishing the Senate without any substitute. They also want joint voting making the 22 senators disappear into the vast house crowd, almost voiceless. And of course, the senators will never allow that. As you can see now, they are in direct collision course with each other. Unless the administration can provide the senators with juicy bribes, a major collision is a matter of time. In the meantime, to repeat, the Senate, with its many clowns, will be our allies in this fight against federalism. It will start with the impeachment of Chief Justice Sereno if it reaches the senate. I’m expecting the senators to show statesmanship during the trial, but will they? (This is perhaps, more of my wishful thinking than reality. We shall see)
And to add to the house-senate woe, there’s a feud within the majority party, PDP Laban. As soon as Speaker Alvarez hastily came up with his own senate slate for PDP Laban, I thought, what happened to the party president, Aquilino Pimentel III; was he bypassed? The mild-mannered president of the party, Pimentel, meekly stated later that the list is not final. This obvious feud has also reached the issue of charter change, with the Speaker, as the head of the lower house, and the Senate President, as the head of the upper house, on a collision course I mentioned above. Party divided cannot stand. Let us watch what will happen next.
(Update: One day after I posted this blog, this headline comes out)
Federalism has been the primary objective of Duterte and he has been slowly laying the groundwork for it ever since he became president. His first step was to create a terrorist scare as a prelude to artificial terrorist attacks and use it as justification for martial law. The suspicious Davao City night market bombing is the prime example. Why of all the places in his hometown? Was it because he had full control of the place? And why was Omar Yasser Sema, brother of one of the masterminds, Abduljabbar Sema, appointed as one of the members of Bangsamoro Transitional Council? A reward?.. Then comes the Marawi attack which led him to declare martial law. But the utter destruction it wrought obviously dissuaded the President from the nationwide martial law experiment. He had an easier alternative – the revolutionary government. But again, it was firmly rejected by his two top men, who gave not-so-subtle hint that they are ready to shift their alliance to our beloved V.P. Leni Robredo if revolutionary government is declared by the President because she will automatically become our legitimate president when that happens.
And the Final Warning
Let us not forget that if federalism is established, the position of the vice president, now held by V.P. Leni Robredo, will be abolished; we will lose our major ally in the government. Will we allow that? The answer is a big NO! Further, the charter changers can tamper with the constitution in any way they wish and here lies the danger. There is already a proposal to remove the term limits of politicians as well as the removal of the office of the Ombudsman. Have you noticed how all these provisions are beneficial only to those honorable politicians who are the very ones writing them? Which means the provisions are made for their own interest, not for the interest of the public. There is also a plan to give dictatorial powers to the President during the so-called transition period – an indefinite period of time. Therefore, we must be vigilant and must fight when the need arises, to stop this whole scam called federalism-parliamentary system of government. Let us be prepared for the Battle Against Charter Change!
And Mr. President, you might have been fooled. In presidential system, you are the boss and the congressmen are your slaves, but in the federal-parliamentary system, where the local-based politicians are strengthened, YOU ARE THE SLAVE and the congressmen, your bosses! Think again.
Of course, in the real world, things will not go in such a perfect manner and in exact detail I wrote here. But you can nevertheless be assured, basically, the government’s push for federalism-parliamentary system will proceed in the manner I stated here. Being aware of the basic idea behind the government’s move will help you understand what they are up to whenever they come up with some shenanigans or mga kalokohan with regards federalism. Be aware is to be prepared, and be prepared to fight, when the need arises…
Reading wide range of opinions can help you widen your perspective:
From Raissa Robles
From Manuel L. Quezon III