Thursday, October 26, 2006


It has been two weeks or so since the Philippines' Commission on Elections (COMELEC) came out with its decision on the LP leadership issue. I've taken this long to even begin commenting on the bloody thing not because we "lost" on some aspects of the case, but due to my... disbelief at the response of Drilon and his cabal over the whole fiasco.

Funny, but I actually can't find a word to describe my reaction to their responses. Disbelief? Astounded? Outraged? Maybe confused? No, not that one. I mean, the way they reacted - question the COMELEC resolution, question the COMELEC itself, when it was they who brought it to COMELEC for arbitration in the first place - was a high-probability Scenario. We all knew that short of, uh, "unconditional victory" for them, Drilon's faction would most likely not abide by any decision.

I heard the Abads are taking a hardline stance to this, as in no reconciliation with the Atienza faction, or at least the Mayor himself. That was the first shock, I guess. Assuming this is true, I would truly feel sad. All-throughout this fiasco, I have always maintained that the Abads were some of the moderating influences in the Drilon faction, that people like Chito and Chit are the hardliners, the ones who would advocate a "total surrender" and "scorched earth" policy to this political battle.

And then there's that question on the election. I remember feeling the outrage when Chito actually had the gall to, ah, accuse the Atienza group as having an "election mentality" during the hearings. It was like a "duh" statement. I almost forgot decorum then, wanting to shout at Chito, "dude, we're the Liberal Party, remember? Of course we'll always favor elections!" And now that COMELEC has decided only an election can solve this, they don't want to honor it.

That was the first disconnect. Neric was so arrogant in Cambodia to claim that they are the "soul" of liberalism (you know, that statement of sheer and utter arrogance has somehow stuck in my mind like bad, spent chewing gum on the soles of your shoes...). Taking off from that statement, one would assume that these people would subscribe to values that form the core of the liberal ideals.

Last time I looked, liberal democracy holds the ballot sacrosanct as the truest expression of the people's will. If there is a question of fairness and/or honesty in an election, you question the process after and present proof of wrongdoing, or you do a NAMFREL and design a mechanism that ensures the sanctity of the elections. You don't question the basic principle of the process. You don't say one side is bad because they have an "election mentality" and still lay claim to the title Liberal.

The second disconnect is there. These people have been claiming since July 8 that they represent the Party. That they did nothing wrong last July 8.

If so, logic dictates that the party in the right - pun not intended - in this contest should be confident, regardless of the situation. When the COMELEC said that, "ok, Atienza's little event last March 2 was indeed "rump", we're ordering him to refrain from representing the Party, but you, Mr. Drilon are not President anymore either so we're calling an election," the appropriate reaction for people supposedly in the "right" side of the contest should have been, "ah, ok. Kewl. When is this?"

This should be elementary. If one's hand was not in the cookie jar when mommy came back, one shouldn't be scared to face mommy.

But the first thing the Drilon cabal did was question COMELEC's right to hold the election and we've heard they're bringing it all the way to the Supreme Court.

"Duh" comes to mind.

On the question of COMELEC "interference" to what is essentially an internal Party matter, the answer can be found in the Resolution itself, something that any sane and rational individual without any other agenda than seeing the LP united again will say is appropriate: there is a sense of distrust between both camps.

Once again with the "duh" for the Drilon camp. Once again, it should be elementary, so much so that a streetkid of maybe 6 years old, if the language was devoid of legalistic and academic terms, would understand: how can one side hold an election that the other would recognize when its most likely each side would rather tear off the heads of the other?

Its so basic it almost hurts. Even a freshie in International Relations or Conflict Resolution will tell you that for two warring parties to come to an agreement, a third party is needed to broker talks. Does the third party dictate for the other two? They'd be morons to allow that. Someone is needed to ensure that a resolution is achieved, something that cannot happen if both sides in a conflict are left to their own devices.

Or, let's put it this way: snide remarks aside from the anti-Gloria camp, is it the COMELEC who elects your public official every three years?

If supervision of an election by a COMELEC means its that poll body that decides for those it merely supervises, than all elections in democratic societies worldwide are shams, because a third party other than those concerned ran them. Besides, basic english: there is a profound difference from supervise and select. Even Grade school students can tell you that, how much more people with the high academic credentials of the Drilon faction?

And what's this crap about bringing it all the way to the Supreme Court? Most likely, the high court will just throw away their petition. I mean, if I was an SC magistrate, I'd ask one simple question to Drilon: why not? I mean, why not an election? What's wrong with holding one and having COMELEC supervise it? Aren't you people in the LP going to elect these leaders anyway, and not the COMELEC?

I think the disconnect here is in my thinking that, at least, some of them have the welfare of the Party and its members in mind. We have been badly hit by this internal conflict. At least one Governor is gone, and several local leaders. All of our projects and programs are on hold. Far from just effectively stopping the LP's resurgence in its tracks, all the gains of the last six years or so may have just been obliterated by the irresponsible action - and their highly suspicious and insidious inaction, with regard to the call for a conveneing of the NECO - of less than two dozen people starting 8 July 2005. Liberal Philippines is gone, the Liberal Family is gone, Dr. Meinardus is gone, the Party's website should be renamed and even now those evil, evil people are trying to create their very own KALIPI, using Taiwanese money supposedly meant for "sectoral" development. Even worse for the LP, we should have been preparing for nextyear's mid-term elections some four months ago. Instead, we're stuck in a rut and the hole's getting deeper, wider and murkier every day.

Disconnect. In communications parlance, this points to a... disparity between what's being said, to what is actually happening. The Message is being contradicted by actions from the Sender, and so the Reciever at the very least is confused because the Message does not connect - hence, the "disconnect" - with other data coming from its Sender.

If they did no wrong to the Party, its leaders and its members, then they shouldn't be afraid to face an accounting.

If they are paragons of civil society and liberal democracy like they trumpet they are, then they shouldn't be afraid of any electoral process because the ballot is the essence of democracy.

If they truly had the interests of the Party at heart, and not see it simply as another tool to remove Gloria, then they should be of the mindset of ending this early, rather than using the legal system itself to stifle democracy.

Democracy can't be "conditional," in the sense that one group, simply because they label themselves the "good guys", can demand it while denying it to others when it doesn't suit their purposes. If they demanded democracy and freedom from Gloria, asking for the right to choose the leader they think is best, then they shouldn't deny the same to others when demanded of them.

You can't go around demanding the right to speak and then interrupting someone else when they start saying something you don't like or runs counter to your position, and still call yourself a liberal democrat. That goes counter to several core values of liberalism: tolerance and freedom, among others. Only Communists regard opinions other than that of theirs as wrong, and last time we heard, they were telling the worldwide liberal community that they were the soul of Philippine liberalism.

You can't keep saying one thing, especially over media, and do or demand another. That's disconnect. Too much, and static happens, or dissonance. PR and communication principles allow for the manipulation of information for a desired effect, but you can "weave" a reality only so much before it unravels in the face of its own contradictions.

If only it were just them who'd be affected by the unravelling. Because it looks like they're very, very much willing to take us all down with them...

Friday, October 06, 2006

When trust blinds

Actually, this was a post I was supposed to do last week. Unfortunately, the storm named Milenyo ("Millenium", in English) struck and the NCR was without electricity starting Thursday.

What sparked my reflections on the above was a conversation I witnessed during one event we attended. The focal point there was the statement of one of the persons in the conversation that, if he was still the leader of the LP's youth wing, KALIPI, he'd choose Drilon over Atienza, simply because all of our idols - Butch and Dina Abad, Mar Roxas, etc. - were there.

Once again, this brought home the value that Strategic Constituents have. Entities like the StratCons, because of the influence they exert on the thinking processes of those in their circle, have such a powerful sway over the way those that look to them for guidance decide on a campaign or issue.

But, there are certain targets that, theoretically, are not as affected by StratCons as, say, the general public. In the case of leaders of civil society, there is that certain expectation that, even given the role Strategic Constituents play in their decision-making, people working in the "Movment", well, think. Its not so much that you'd do what your StratCon says should be done but that the person has garnered so much of your respect that his/her opinion weighs heavily on the decisions you'll make.

This is partly why I... abhor the situation the LP is in, where KALIPI has been placed in. It was like the elders of ours, despite all the training and indoctrination they gave us under the liberal banner, would expect us to just accept the information they were giving.

Didn't they teach us to think, to discern? Didn't they encourage us to dissent if decency and the truth are on the line? Didn't they bring us up hating justifying the means used to achieve a certain end, to rail against injustice?

I wanted so ask my friend if he'll be of the same opinion if he knew the way Drilon and his people persecuted KALIPI for simply asking for explanations, for the youth wing doing its duty of calling its elders to rein in their impulses and follow the procedures of the Party. What would my friend say if I pointed out why Noynoy Aquino's memorandum following July 8 was the cloth used to cover up the lies of that date? What if I told him of what they did to me personally? Of the sheer underhandedness, of the black propaganda and character assasination, of the abridgement of the very essence of the ideology our elders on the other side supposedly stood for? Would my friend be able to justify what was done by CALD to Jan in Cambodia, or the fact that, for an organization supposedly made up of liberals and democrats, they used methods more akin to the Communist Party to vindicate their side?

In one sense, I am thankful for them, for tearing away the veil from my eyes. There was a time not so long ago that any pronouncements from my elders would have been taken as gospel truth. Now, given all they have done - and not done - just to see Gloria fall, I can nevermore be blinded by the trust I have given them.

Assuming, I can still trust them as much as I once did. If you can be sacrificed so easily for a goal that is in itself suspect and so filled with the taint of ambition and misguided self-righteousness, how can trust be restored?