POSTSCRIPT / October 2, 2005 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Why GMA has to play rough with opposition

MAILED FIST: President Gloria Arroyo is known for her taray, but the fierce combative attitude she is suddenly showing in confronting those who challenge her presidency still surprises many of us — both supporters and detractors.

She unsheathed a mailed fist against illegal and violent street marches, ordering the police to employ what her Executive Secretary described as “calibrated preemptive response.” “Maximum tolerance” as the police reflex reaction to unruly demonstrations has given way to CPR.

She issued an Executive Order for military and police officers as well as officials in the Executive Department not to testify before congressional bodies without permission from higher authority.

Strongly worded statements have been issued by big Palace talking heads against her detractors in the Senate, where the assault on her presidency has shifted after moves in the House of Representatives to impeach her failed.

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TOUGH TALK: As a tactic for political survival, her openly taking a tougher stance may be debatable. There are those who still believe that, in pursuit of unity, she should continue to offer a hand of reconciliation even to those who wish her ill.

But it seems that there are a number of players, especially in the opposition (and even in the United States embassy) who see her reaching out to the other side as a sign of weakness.

Her allowing herself to be kicked around without fighting back with equal ferocity had given the impression that she is not so sure she has a mandate and is afraid to face a showdown.

At the same time, there is the unanswered question of how her enemies, now allied for convenience with known enemies of the state, would respond if she indicated her readiness to grapple with them to the ground.

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SENATE’S TURN: It seems to me that President Arroyo has no choice but to take the higher ground and prepare for all-out political combat.

While the impeachment complaints were thrown out by her numerically superior allies in the House, the opposition in the Senate is acting like it would not allow the issues raised in the House to die.

Some of the nationally-elected members of the smaller chamber of Congress fancy themselves as presidential timber. They would like to see the logging truck carrying them to the mill by the Pasig to speed up a bit.

But a number of senators miscalculated the leaked US embassy classified reports hinting that the Americans themselves were not that happy with President Arroyo and might just move to accelerate her departure.

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MISCALCULATION: Thinking that Ms Arroyo was going in a matter of days(!), some of the senators with presidential delusions, including Senate President Franklin Drilon, went overboard in their public criticism of what they thought was a president on the way out on the say-so of America and some sectors of Manila media.

Vice President Noli de Castro nearly fell for the overtures of the anti-GMA forces whose eyes were glued to the line of presidential succession, but he caught himself in the nick of time.

Noli’s benefactors, the Lopezes who badly need a president to salvage their empire, may have to wait a little longer.

Ms Arroyo has reason to play tough. Her detractors would not stop creating trouble for her anyway, so she might as well take the fight to them.

Besides, time does not seem to be on her side. Two things need speedy, maybe even drastic, action:

First, she has to move fast and do everything to make sure this Christmas will be a relatively happy one for the average Filipino. With just two months to do that, it would require a miracle. If this Christmas turns out dreary, that is the end of GMA.

Second, she has to clean up her mess fast because after one year, the opposition will file another impeachment complaint — a super bomb — and this time around, they will be better prepared.

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MAD RACE: So now, we see President Arroyo and the opposition in a mad race.

She is scrambling to clear at least two hurdles: the Christmas hump that is just two months away, and the one-year time frame for a deadlier opposition attempt to impeach the President.

If Ms Arroyo goes about waving an olive branch to the opposition, they would just yank and twist her hand. She might as well raise a mailed fist.

Although they will cry torture and martial law and this and that violation of the Constitution, the opposition knows that this is political combat she is now playing. By this time, even the owners of Hacienda Luisita must be aware of this fact of life.

The one-year breathing spell after which the President is likely to face another impeachment complaint means that something has to change drastically in the setup or the situation before the impeachers (is there such a word?) come around.

If the move to amend or replace the Constitution would be in an advanced stage just as the one-year impeachment ban ends, that — plus other factors — might make impeachment an unsuitable option for the opposition by that time.

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I.T. NOTES: For IT-hounds among our readers who have been sending me email and text messages asking about Internet developments, here is an item culled from an Associated Press report datelined Brussels:

The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of policing the Internet. The United States wants to remain the Internet’s ultimate authority, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting in Geneva for a UN body to take over.

The Geneva talks were the last preparatory meeting before November’s World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

Internet governance historically has been the role of the US, which created the original system and funded much of its early development. While this satisfies some, developing countries are upset that Western countries that got onto the Internet first used up most available addresses required for computers to connect, leaving poor nations to share a limited supply.

ICANN now controls the Internet’s master directories, which tell Web browsers and email programs how to direct traffic. Though the computers themselves — 13 in all, known as “root” servers — are in private hands, they contain government-approved lists of the 260 or so Internet suffixes, such as “.com.”

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OREMUS: Suddenly it is October! The old devotees of Mother Mary who may have strayed away or who have been sidetracked by the world’s many distractions may want to ring her up and say hello.

What better way to talk to her than to pray the Holy Rosary, a most powerful weapon suggested by the Lady herself for warding off evil and achieving personal peace and salvation.

Many devotees talk of how an important request of theirs was granted after they prayed with devotion the 54-day Rosary novena in honor of Our Lady of Pompeii.

The word “Rosary” means “Crown of Roses.” Our Lady has said that each time someone says a Hail Mary he is giving her a beautiful rose, the queen of flowers, and that each complete Rosary makes her a magnificent crown of roses.

We are familiar with the Rosary meditation on the mysteries of joy, sorrow and glory of Jesus and Mary. On Oct. 15, 2002, then Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae added five new Mysteries of Light to the original 15 mysteries — for a new total of 20 mysteries.

The new Luminous mysteries, for Thursdays, are: (1) The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river, (2) The Wedding at Cana when Christ manifested Himself, (3) The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, (4) The Transfiguration of our Lord, and (5) The Last Supper when our Lord gave us the Eucharist.

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STORMING HEAVEN: Those who cannot pray within the day the entire 20 decades of the full Rosary can focus on one set of mysteries each day according to this schedule: (1) Monday and Saturday — Joyful Mysteries; (2) Tuesday and Friday — Sorrowful mysteries, (3) Wednesday and Sunday — Glorious mysteries, and (4) Thursday — Luminous mysteries.

Imagine the powerful networking, the incessant prayers storming heaven, as Catholics all over the world pray together the same words of devotion on the same day following a universal (catholic) schedule!

Catholic institutions, including schools, devote a particular time of day praying together the Holy Rosary and the Angelus (also pertaining to Mother Mary). Motorists going to and from work or school can pray the Rosary on the road, which takes only about 20 minutes. The Holy Rosary Crusade encourages families to pray together as one sure way to stay together.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 2, 2005)

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