An overly ambitious dung beetle

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the July 22, 2009 edition of the Business Mirror, p. A6.

Many people didn’t know what to think when Norberto Gonzalez, the national security adviser of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo, first broached the idea of a constitutional commission (con-com) as an alternative mode of changing the charter. Maybe it’s because he didn’t say much, other than it was doable.

“The key is for the heads of our three branches of government to agree among themselves to undertake Charter change.  To Secretary Gonzales’ mind, this is not a complicated thing,” said a press release from Gonzalez’ political party, PDSP (Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas).

Well, it’s not that simple. Con-com is not included in the present constitution so a Charter amendment has to happen first before one can even consider a con-com.  Now, if there’s going to be a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly anyway, what’s the need for a con-com, why even bother thinking about it?

Most people will move on. But Gonzalez is not like most people. Instead of dropping the idea, he went on to propose a revolutionary government, to get around the fact that the con-com cannot be done except in the manner prescribed by the constitution.  That— advocating the overthrow of the present government—opens him to charges of sedition and fomenting revolution.

Fortunately for Gonzalez, he is a protegé of Fr. Romeo Intengan, the guru of applied jesuitics. He can contradict himself without contradicting himself.

Gonzalez can agree with Chief Justice Reynato Puno, that is, his analysis that the country is “like a volcano that is about to erupt” and still claim that the Arroyo administration has substantially improved the lives of the people. He can characterize the need to reform our electoral system as a matter of life and death without criticizing the massive cheating that happened in the 2004 presidential poll and, to a lesser degree, in the 2007 senatorial election. He can call for a revolutionary government because he’s really just asking the leaders of the present government to overthrow themselves so they can reconstitute as a transition government.

“The call of the times [is] for the three major branches of government, supported by key pillars of our society like the churches, civil society and mass movements, to agree to a transitional government respected by the armed forces.”

“GMA should be part of the revolutionary government that should also include the leadership of the two houses of Congress, the judiciary, and the Church.”

Gonzalez does not say much except that his patrona should be a member of the junta. He does not say how the junta will function, how its members will be chosen, and whether the junta operates on unanimity or majority rule. He does not say who will be the commander-in-chief. He does not say if Congress will be abolished during the transition because if it will be abolished, then what’s the point of including the leaders of a non-existent body?

Gonzalez has not revealed any details about his junta because the only thing that matters to him is Gloria Arroyo’s continued leadership. Never mind that she turned the country into a “volcano that is about to erupt,” she can undo what she has done. She, at the head of a transition government, can “truly empower the people to choose their leaders and shift in the system of governance to free the nation from very costly elections and from paralyzing stalemates among institutions and political forces.” I know it sounds insane but that’s applied jesuitics.

That’s why Gonzalez reminds me of an American pundit’s description of Sarah Palin, “She is like an especially ambitious dung beetle trying to push a turd up and over a hill; even if she gets it where she wants it, in the end, she’s still just been rolling shit.”

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