Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Remembering Burma

Gunpowder and teargas, saffron and blood.

Despite the crackdown, brave souls are continuing the fight, albeit covertly. Here's one through a Valentine's Day acrostic.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Political Involvement

Today is the eighth anniversary of the EDSA II popular revolt. I won't detail what happened during those heady days of 2001, but if you need some background you can find it here.

Much has been said about the lack of commemoration of EDSA II, especially since the winners opted to shun the event. Amando Doronilla calls it the "unwanted child of RP history", apparently abandoned by all its progenitors. But whatever is said about the merits of not commemorating the event, the fact remains that many people still remember those days and a lot is still being written about it, in effect commemorating-- i.e., remembering-- it. One of those pieces is the Inquirer's editorial for today. Take the following lines on the inability to muster crowds in the aftermath of the 2005 Hello Garci controversy:

"The reason many people, particularly the youth, have given to justify their failure to act, politically, over the last few years, can be reduced to the singsong phrase, 'same same.' This is a great evil of our times, this 'pare-pareho lang sila' mentality, which justifies tolerating the status quo on the defeatist assumption that all leaders are the same."

It goes on to say:

"... the youth’s turning away from active involvement in the political sphere, even if understandable, isn’t excusable. A society that rationalizes its refusal to exact accountability from its leaders is a society conspiring to excuse itself from the basic responsibilities of citizenship."

Active involvement in the political sphere is not equal to going to the streets in an attempt to extraconstitutionally oust a president. For all the reasons given for not going to the streets every time there is a crisis, I hope it is for this reason-- we have learned that doing another EDSA is a bad thing. If you think about it, EDSA is anathema to the concept of democracy. EDSA is the rule of the people who went to EDSA-- one cannot assume that non-participation in EDSA is tantamout to abdication. More people did not participate in EDSA-- which is a valid political position-- yet the participants' preferences won the day. What's so democratic about that? Are we to say that the people who marched in EDSA are smarter or more patriotic than those who didn't and therefore their wishes should prevail?

On hindsight, I think it was good that EDSA II happened and things turned out the way they did. If GMA turned out to be a good president, we would just have EDSA after EDSA after EDSA whenever there's a crisis. EDSA should be treated like major surgery-- something to be done only under dire circumstances, not every time we feel an itch. It's about time we learned democracy the hard way. Real political involvement is being a good citizen, studying the issues, and making a wise vote. It's not joining political lynch mobs, peaceful or otherwise.


Still on political involvement, word is out that the Vatican ordered Cardinal Sin to stand down and not take any partisan action during EDSA II. This explains the sudden withdrawal of the Church from political activity after EDSA II, especially after Cardinal Sin's death. Political rallies are now largely prohibited on the EDSA Shrine, and even at the height of the Hello Garci scandal the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines did not issue any partisan statement even if a few of its members already did so.

Our bishops should re-read Gaudium et Spes, particularly par. 76, which begins with:

"76. It is very important, especially where a pluralistic society prevails, that there be a correct notion of the relationship between the political community and the Church, and a clear distinction between the tasks which Christians undertake, individually or as a group, on their own responsibility as citizens guided by the dictates of a Christian conscience, and the activities which, in union with their pastors, they carry out in the name of the Church.

"The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified in any way with the political community nor bound to any political system. She is at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person."

It is when the Church, or religion in general, gets mixed up with politics that we get the worst results. That's when we get the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Taliban, and George W. Bush.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Auschwitz... Dachau... Mauthausen... Taguig

Seems like the fallout after the idiotic siege of Manila Pen just keeps on coming:

Textbook Godwin's Law. Genius linking "final option" with "final solution", but why stop there? There's final exams, Final Fantasy, the World Cup Finals... the list goes on, you know.

I didn't post about the whole media thing after that idiotic siege, but I did make a comment about it in my Dear's blog. For the record, here's what I said about the whole thing:

I listened to the whole event on radio, and I don't think the police "arrested" media people because they were covering the event. The fog of war (ok, fog of idiotic coup) was present at the time, and I can't blame the police for picking up everyone in the same room as Trillanes and his cabal. The media people claim that they were well aware of the risks involved in staying-- well, being mixed up with the coup plotters is one of those risks. Trillanes used the media people as human shields, and the media people were more than happy to oblige. Well, willing human shields should not complain when they're caught in the crossfire.

The media freedom card should not be used wantonly. Media people should know the difference between an attack on press freedom and an attack on their personal convenience.

And by fallout I mean the pieces that fall after idiots smear their shit on the walls.