Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘survey’

The election news lately has been that of surveys claiming to have a list of specific personalities who will win the senatorial elections come 2013 national and local elections. Both the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, as well as lesser-known or even fly-by-night survey outfits, predicted more or less the same names in the winning column.

Of course, all of these do not reflect what eventually will be the voter’s choices in the next year’s senatorial elections. The most obvious reason is that it is still a long way from now to election day–the vast majority of the electorate have not yet made up their mind on their voting preferences except for a few candidates.

The name of the game at this point is name recall. This is defined as naming choices from memory of past, present, and claiming senatorial bets, without the benefit of a serious thought about qualifications, character, public service record, and competence. And, of course, voters do not yet bother about platforms or programs of government at this stage.

This fallacy of interpreting survey results this early to make up the senatorial slate results in decisions of convenience, or in opportunistic calculations. By and large, it perpetuates the political culture of personalistic politics, and of populist imagery. The media, of course, share the blame by portraying these survey results as gospel truth, without qualifying and without delineating the boundaries of their truths.

A case in point is Congressman Erin Tañada.  He is among the leaders of the Liberal Party, comes from an illustrious and respected political family, a House deputy speaker, and considered as one of the few reform-oriented young politicians of the incoming generation. He is a strong advocate for nationalism, democracy, and human rights, and author of the constitutionally-mandated Freedom of Information bill–a key legislation advancing transparency and accountability in government. He is supportive of reviving the coco levy case in favor of the coconut farmers and other asset reforms that directly address the poverty of the masses. In a normal world, there would be no question of his inclusion in the reform-oriented Liberal party senatorial slate.

However, the looming big irony of the Aquino-led administration ticket is that Tañada ( and similarly-placed possible candidates) only has a slim chance of being taken into the Liberal senatorial slate. The surveys place him low enough in the scales that he may not be able to win by himself.

The questions hangs in the air. What about reforms? What about good governance? What about the liberal political philosophy? What about a political party platform and program that must be advanced? Decision based on surveys alone, by and large, throws these overboard and favor the popular, the well-known, even the namesake. And, by and large, it speaks of a judgment of an easily swayed, easily manipulated, and easily bought electorate.

We call it traditional politics.

You ask why we have buffoons, clowns, actors, big egoists, and mediocres in the Senate. The answer lies in the surveys. In the real world, surveys are meant as decision guides, to know the strengths and weaknesses of the subject of the surveys, the current thinking of the populace. From the survey , leaders define the strategy, decide on tactics to enable to undertake an electoral campaign and achieve the victory. These are not meant to be the only basis of slate selection.

The late Secretary Jesse Robredo is a recent example. He languished in the low levels of senatorial surveys. Yet when he died and people come to know his reform record and integrity, he had become the reform standard for candidates.

Tañada, in his own right, stands in the same tsinelas that Robredo wore. Will the Liberal Party leave him out?

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Social Weather Stations (SWS), on its August 24-27, 2012 survey, disclosed a major surge in President Aquino’s net satisfaction rating. From +49% in March 2012 and +42% in May 2012, it now reached +67% in August 2012. 77% or nearly four out of five Filipinos are satisfied with him while only 10% or one out of 10 Filipinos are dissatisfied. This is the highest he got during his entire term up to the present. The survey results cut across geographical areas and across ABCDE class boundaries.

This is very good news to the Aquino administration and bad news to his critics and opposition, especially at this time when the 2013 elections near and immediate decisions need to be made on the alignments and strategies of various candidates. The filing of candidacies on October 1-5, 2012 puts an additional pressure on these decisions.

To be sure, the sudden death of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo last August 18, 2012 contributed a lot to the rise of presidential ratings, in terms of the tremendous sympathies it generated. However, it is not all a matter of bereavement and sympathy; it is also a matter of public realization that President Aquino’s reform agenda stands not only as a matter of rhetorics of “matuwid na daan” but is backed up by appointments to his Cabinet and administration of solid reformists such as Sec. Robredo.

The series of bold anti-corruption measures such as the filing of cases and arrest of the big fishes of the former Arroyo administration, the impeachment of former Chief Justice Corona, and the transparency and accountability policies in the bureaucracy has led to the people keeping faith with President Aquino through all the open and veiled attacks against him and his administration in the media and elsewhere.

In this light, the midterm 2013 elections promises to become an Aquino elections. That is, his political endorsement will stand out as a major, if not the decisive factor, in the victory of many candidates. Conversely, his critique of many candidates may well be the death knell of their own candidacies.

The SWS survey reaffirmed the people’s mandate for Noynoy Aquino’s presidency. However, it also reaffirmed the basis for the mandate–his continued trek on the road to reform both the traditional political and economic terms of reference of Philippine society towards democracy.

He has just been reelected.

Read Full Post »

[This opinion-article was published in the GMA News Online on June 3, 2012]

The Senate, acting as an impeachment tribunal, voted 20-3 in favor of the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. It was a comfortable margin over the super-majority vote of 16 required for conviction. Politically, the outcome solidified the standing of President Aquino and his administration, both among the political elite and among the people themselves.

There was the view at the start and the middle of the impeachment process that the voting would be a close race, or even a bit in favor of CJ Corona. This was glaringly evident in the important 13-10 vote in favor of recognizing and following the Supreme Court’s Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the opening of CJ Corona’s dollar accounts.

The main political reasons given then were 1) the relative independence of the Senate vis-à-vis the President; 2) the presidential contest of 2016 will divide the ruling coalition this early and affect the impeachment vote; and 3) the efforts of the camp of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to influence the impeachment vote.

The latter was most effective in playing up the possible scenario of the ouster of CJ Corona leading to the favorable ruling for Mar Roxas in his protest against Vice-President Jojo Binay.

Insofar as these factors are operative throughout the proceedings, they constituted a continuing pressure for acquittal. However, there were countervailing factors which—in the end—proved stronger and more compelling towards a verdict of conviction.

First, there is the factor of evidence. The evidence for Article 2 showed that CJ Corona admitted owning properties, bank accounts and other assets amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos, and that he admitted he wilfully did not enter these in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

The prosecutor made the case that there is a substantive betrayal of public trust sufficient to remove him as a Chief Justice and justice of the Supreme Court. In addition, it stressed that CJ Corona lied and acted well below the standards set for members of the judiciary, much more as justice and chief justice of the Supreme Court. The body of evidence made it easier for the senator-judges to support a judgment of conviction and made it harder for those who want to vote for acquittal.

It is also contributory that CJ Corona himself admitted both the facts of his huge dollar and peso deposits and that he reportedly insisted on getting Ombudsman and former associate justice Conchita Carpio-Morales as a “hostile” witness. Without the benefit of advice from his legal team,he also reportedly wrote and delivered his disastrous opening statement, and reportedly staged his own surprise walkout.

He thus dug his own impeachment grave. Even the last-minute concession of an unconditional waiver for a look into his bank accounts and the seeming reconciliation of his wife’s family and clan were not enough to turn the tide.

Second, the strong public opinion against CJ Corona—as manifested in the March SWS survey of 73% who judged him guilty—provided an incentive to senators who have a political stake in the 2013 elections to vote against him.

Third, the impeachment was initiated and publicly supported by a very popular president Aquino and the ruling Liberal Party, with the acquiescence from most of the ruling coalition in the House of Representatives. This provided the necessary political and logistical framework to the impeachment campaign.

At the end, only three senator-judges (Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., Senator Joker Arroyo, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago) voted for acquittal. They all based themselves on the legal interpretation of the Constitution and pertinent laws provided by the defense and on their own opinion that the quantum of evidence did not support the verdict of impeachment. They would even accept the defense accusation of a persecution of CJ Corona by the Aquino administration.

As such, their position basically is a political position. While Senators Arroyo and Defensor-Santiago are at the end of their respective political careers, Senator Marcos runs the risk of a backlash in his own young political career.

The vote for impeachment, though a touch-and-go affair for a major part of the process, rapidly solidified into a decisive one after the CJ Corona walkout. He never recovered after.

Read Full Post »

As expected, Chief Justice Renato Corona addressed the key issues against him in relation to his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). In so doing, he confirmed some key facts thus far unearthed by the prosecutors.

He also tried to obfuscate the issue against him by enlarging the context, squarely placing the impeachment within the context of his larger counter-charges against President Aquino. First, he accused the latter of persecution and vengeance because of the SC decision on the Hacienda Luisita case. Second, he accused the Left, particularly the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Secretary Ronald Llamas, of virtually taking over the administration. Third, he accused the administration, through the prosecution, the other members of the Basa-Guidote clan, surveys, and some media people, of undertaking a campaign of lies and deception against him.

Among the key facts he confirmed are: 1) his ownership of several properties and presence of peso and dollar bank accounts (including the AMLC report); and 2) that he did not enter these into his SALN. However, he based his own defense on two points: 1) that the assets mentioned are small compared to the accusations; and 2) that there are valid reasons why he did not put them in his SALN, specifically because some of these are not his but that of others in his family, including the BGEI company. He also cited the absolute nature of dollar accounts that includes no obligation to put these in his SALN. In brief, he says he is innocent of all charges. He also asserted his fitness for the office and that this is not a basis for impeachment.

As a dramatic gesture, he signed a waiver for the opening of his bank accounts and other records of his assets. He thus threw the gauntlet to his detractors.

We now have his can of worms. Is this a fearless last stand or is there a political scenario building behind our backs?

Read Full Post »

Since the Corona defense team announced that Chief Justice Corona might or will take the witness stand (depending on how you interpret the various contrary pronouncements), there have been speculations if it will come to pass. My own guess (not a solid one, I might add) is he will do so.

He would have read the tell-tale signs by now. Key senators such as Senator Jinggoy Estrada have insisted he needs to take the witness stand. The surveys  all point to public skepticism on the defense explanations so far and also insistent on his direct testimony, particularly regarding his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

There is also the perception that the defense is stalling, with lesser quality witnesses and peripheral issues. This is obvious, since there was the whispers of almost frenetic activities behind the scene to influence the outcome, one way or the other.

The impeachment process has reached a point that senator-judges are almost ready to make their conclusions and vote. And until now, nobody can say with certainty what the vote will be: will it be an acquittal by an absolute majority, acquittal through a vote of more than a third for Corona, or at least a two-thirds majority vote for conviction? These three possibilities bring with them three different scenarios.

A crucial consideration for the defense–beyond the political arguments–is a credible refutation of the facts and arguments of the prosecution, including those that have been presented to the public outside of the formal processes of the impeachment court. Among these are Corona’s dollar accounts, his involvement in the Basa-Guidote corporate and family conflicts, and his internal and administrative actuation within the Supreme Court.

Senator-judges who will vote for Corona obviously need to satisfy themselves and make sure that the public accepts  the defense explanations. Only Corona’s own testimony can possibly make this happen.

In a sense, CJ Corona’s appearance is a desperate move to turn back the tide of public opinion. He and his supporters have everything to lose now; after all, he had rejected all calls for resignation.

Will he or won’t he?

Read Full Post »

Chief Justice Renato Corona, interviewed just recently, revealed that he is prepared to account–to the “last centavo”– for his accounts, properties, and other assets that the impeachment prosecution unearthed. He further said, he will disclose his dollar accounts in due time and the time is when the defense has its turn. Lastly, he affirmed that he is willing to testify personally before the impeachment court.

On its face, his pronouncements exude the image of a confident defendant, with nothing to hide, and prepared to dispute every charge alleged against him. Unfortunately, a careful assessment of the same interview presents a different view of the Chief Justice. It only portrayed, in advance, the plausible defense strategy. On the other hand, it may well be a trial balloon, even a red herring.

First, he avoided the main issue in Article 2 of the impeachment complaint, that is, he “failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required under Section 17, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.” He also failed to offer his explanation or defense for Articles 3 and 7. In relation to Article 2, his explanations, possibly foreshadowing a defense strategy (or analysis of the most damaging accusation), dealt at length on the legitimacy of acquiring his wealth. Ironically, this is relevant insofar as Section 2.4 of Article 2 is concerned–the charge of ill-gotten wealth. This was already set aside by the impeachment court.

Second, he responded to news reports of his alleged misdeeds in relation to the affairs of the Basa-Guidote Enterprises, Inc., the family corporation of his wife’s family. It is one of the most problematic part of his defense, insofar as he claims that the major part of his bank account come from the BGEI funds and not from his own funds. A trace of nervousness seems to hang in the air here.

Third, the interview itself can be interpreted within the context of influencing public opinion and not strictly as preparations for the defense. Despite arduous efforts by the Arroyo camp to portray a big shift in public opinion in Corona’s favor, it is evident that the situation here has not budged much and he faces a tough battle to change the prevailing negative public opinion.

In a sense, his interview is a desperate attempt to prevent a possible guilty verdict, especially after the unanimous vote (20 for, none against, 3 absent) of the impeachment court to accept the evidence of the bank accounts. In a political impeachment process, his is an uphill battle.

Next week, we will see how the defense actually tries to wriggle out of  trap that the bank accounts laid for CJ Corona. We will also see how the senator-judges have already made their own appreciation of the facts laid out before them.

The bank accounts can very well end the impeachment, for better or for worse.

Read Full Post »

In the midst of the testimony of Philippine Savings Bank president Pascual Garcia III, the Supreme Court granted his bank’s petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the disclosure of SC Chief Justice Renato Corona’s dollar accounts. In an 8-5 decision with 2 abstentions, the SC invoked RA 6426, the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of 1974 (as amended by PD 1035 and PD 1246), a Marcos-era law absolutely prohibiting the disclosure of FCDU accounts without the consent of the depositor.

Thus, two schools of thoughts or doctrines will be tested in the coming week. One, is the constitutionally mandated Senate impeachment court with “sole power” to try impeachment cases subject to the jurisdiction of or is it superior to the Supreme Court in its own jurisdiction? Two, does a law–decreed by dictator Marcos no less–have an absolute application and not subject anymore to any interpretation or exception, particularly by a constitutionally-mandated sui generis impeachment court.

In the first case, any weakness by the impeachment court by accepting, to any degree, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can fatally undermine its own jurisdiction and will open the door to more SC intervention. This includes the possibility of the SC stopping the impeachment trial altogether as what is prayed for by a separate petition for certiorari and TRO filed by no less than CJ Corona in his own court.

In the second case, acceptance of the absoluteness of any law, in this case the FCDU act, will also undermine the jurisdiction and even the capability of the impeachment court to fulfill its mandate  of determining whether or not an impeachable public official is still fit to hold office. An impeachment process implies the fullest use of state power to get at the truth precisely because the impeachable official is in a position to use the power of his office to derail the search for truth. What this implies, in turn, is that the impeachment court–when it is convened–has only itself to turn to for interpreting its mandate.

In a situation of a divided Supreme Court, with Supreme Court majority decisions being questioned in the impeachment articles, it is dangerous for the impeachment court to allow any interference from this body in its proceedings. In its turn, the Supreme Court TRO exposes the eight justices who signed the order to contempt by the impeachment court at the least. It may, as a possibility, lead to their own impeachment.

It is–as yet–not a constitutional crisis precisely because both sides are still adhering to constitutional processes, albeit with differing interpretations of their respective role and mandate in relation to impeachment. The crisis will arrive when–as a consequence of each one’s decisions–the other side does not recognize the decisions and consequently defy them.

In this situation, the Executive will play the crucial role of choosing whom to recognize and therefore implement the orders, particularly in relation to contempt citations and orders for arrest. Unfortunately, for the Supreme Court majority, they will lose in this battle–it is an open secret that the opposing protagonist in the impeachment trial–despite not directly participating in it–is no less than the President of the Republic.

Will this weaken the Supreme Court as an independent institution? I don’t think so. For what weakened already the credibility of the institution is CJ Corona himself and the majority SC justices appointed by former president Arroyo, whose collective antics have lost the trust of the vast majority of our people in the impartiality, independence, and soundness of the present occupants of the institution.

The charge of the king’s knights only confirmed this. Alas, it is the charge of a light brigade.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »