POSTSCRIPT / January 15, 2006 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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So what if FVR wants this and that of GMA?

CLARK FIELD — Former President Fidel V. Ramos told the press here Friday that no clear agreement was reached in his last meeting with President Gloria Arroyo regarding his call for her to cut short in 2007 her six-year term and hold elections that year.

Wow! Mr. Ramos did not agree to President Arroyo’s staying till 2010? Sorry, but whatever it is that he wants regarding the 2004-2010 term of Ms Arroyo, SO WHAT? The Tabako’s meddling is as irrelevant, yet as hazardous, as tobacco smoke.

Some of us still look up to Mr. Ramos in awe, but, really, it is not for him to tell Ms Arroyo to step down in midterm. His clear duty as a Filipino, especially because the general is a former president, is to see to it that the Constitution is obeyed.

And what does the Constitution mandate? Mr. Ramos and his types should be reminded that the charter provides that the president is to serve a six-year term, which ends in 2010 — not 2007 — in the case of Ms Arroyo.

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CARLYLIC CABALS: The 1987 Constitution, the same covenant under which Mr. Ramos once served and swore to protect, also provides for a clear mechanism for possibly cutting short a president’s tenure.

Unfortunately for him, the intervention or meddling of a former president is not part of the constitutional mechanism for removing a president or abbreviating his/her term or tenure.

So if Mr. Ramos’ secret agenda requires that an uncooperative Ms Arroyo be removed when she gets in the way of carlylic cabals, he should first get rid of the Constitution or at least rewrite it with the people’s consent.

It is as simple as that.

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WHITE ELEPHANT: Despite the risks, some people cannot fight the urge to go back to the scene of the crime.

Mr. Ramos was on Clark to see, among other things, how he could help massage back to life the Centennial Expo White Elephant he had erected on the former US military base.

He should have inquired also into the fate of a two-kilometer spur road that was to connect Clark to the North Luzon Expressway in barangay Mabiga, Mabalacat, at a dizzying cost of P2 billion.

At P1 billion per kilometer (at the lower costs at that time), the steel bars must be gold-plated or maybe the cement was to be laced with silver, according to critics.

In fairness to Mr. FVR, however, some of us cabalens who feel strongly about Clark’s becoming a major economic hub suspect that his Centennial Expo was thrown to the dustbin by his successor Mr. Erap Estrada only because it was not his (Estrada’s) project.

Maybe the tourism department should lasso our White Elephants (the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is another one) and promote them as tourist attractions? There must be some people who are curious to see and touch a live White Elephant!

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CORY CREATION: The Council of State is not Gloria Arroyo. It is not a partisan body.

In fact, the Council was created on Sept. 9, 1987, by then President Cory Aquino under Executive Order No. 305. Its rationale was to provide the President with “reliable information and competent advice on pressing issues and problems of national interest.”

Former Presidents Aquino and Erap Estrada have nothing to lose and many things to gain by attending the meeting of the Council called by President Arroyo for Jan. 24.

Their attendance and active participation will project them as statesmen who do not allow partisan politics to get in the way of their continuing to serve the people even in retirement.

They will attend not so much because President Arroyo invited them, but because duty calls. A lot of people are praying that they attend.

If they share with the Council their valuable experience and wisdom — with the benefit of hindsight — on matters brought before the body, they will do so not in the service of President Arroyo but in the service of the people.

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PROTOCOL: That Ms Arroyo is the Council chairman should not be taken against her. Whoever is the President presides. It is childish to question that protocol.

Mr. Estrada was ill-advised when he was told that he should not participate and that he should attend only if he presides over the Council meeting.

Responding to changing times, President Arroyo signed on Jan. 16, 2003, Executive Order No. 168 amending EO 305 by citing the “need for a consultative body, bound by a common respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, which will serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas, foster national cooperation, propose meaningful reforms in government, and advise the President on matters of public policy.”

That did not detract from the original idea set forth in EO 305 of Ms Aquino.

Under EO 168, the reconstituted Council is composed of the president as chairman with the following as members: former presidents, the vice president, the Senate president, the Speaker of the House, the Senate president pro tempore, the deputy speakers of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the Senate majority floor leader, House majority floor leader, the Senate minority floor leader, House minority floor leader, the Executive Secretary and members of the Cabinet as designated by the President, other members of the Congress designated by the President, the presidents of the League of Provinces, the League of Cities and the League of Municipalities, representatives from the private sector to be appointed by the President, and such other persons as the President may appoint from time to time.

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PEOPLE LEFT OUT: In the caucuses and backroom negotiations on possibly amending the charter, resetting elections and changing the system of government, it is just the politicians talking and making the decisions.

The people have been generally left out. This is ironic considering that their fate and welfare are the central issues in the proposed changes.

It has always been like that.

The palpable need for changing that partisan approach to public issues has raised tensions that threaten to rend the fabric of community life.

Put simply, this means that if the politicians do not stop fooling the people, they might provoke more street bushfire protests that, if not tamped out, may just ignite a revolution.

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ELECTION BUSINESS: Take the question over whether or not to hold elections in 2007, as scheduled. When politicians from the president down to the last town clowncilor debate the question, what guides them is what is good for them.

The key question is either (for those who are inside) how to retain power or (for those who are out looking in) how to return to power — how to amass power and wealth. Hardly is public interest or the people’s welfare a crucial consideration.

Elections are Big Business. This is the time when politicians make millions (billions in the case of the presidential derby) while pretending to offer themselves as public servants.

The only material benefit of elections to the people, a debatable one at that, is the handing out of money (bribes actually) to those who have sunk so low as to sell their votes.

We the people get nothing else from elections. We get the chance to change officials? That is a big joke. We cast our ballots all right, but the operators dictate the winners.

There is actually no significant change if a new official is declared winner, because the winner is usually a member of the same gang that has been screwing this nation all these decades.

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GET RID OF THEM: So, do we hold elections in 2007 or not?

Why don’t we just stage a revolution? That is, if we really want genuine change that badly.

Should the incumbent senators and congressmen be carried over as members of the transition Parliament that is being proposed to take over in 2007?

Why don’t we just abolish Congress, and thus save our sanity and P75 billion annually?

We do not need any more lawmakers whether disguised as members of Congress or of a Parliament. We do not need a full-blown Tongress, unless we want the hemorrhage to continue and hasten the demise of this Republic.

We have more than enough laws already. What we need is no-nonsense enforcement and relentless prosecution.

We need a legislature mainly to pass the annual budget and ratify an occasional treaty. Amendment of existing of laws can wait for a cycle of once every five years. So why hire all those shady congressional characters 24/7 throughout the year for eternity?

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 15, 2006)

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