Buencamino does political affairs analysis for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the newspaper Today, 10 July 2004 edition, page 9.

Trouble ahead, trouble behind, Casey Jones you better watch your speed – From Casey Jones by The Grateful Dead

The President* recently issued a statement regarding Charter change.
She said, “I will work with Congress to fulfill both the agenda for
Charter change, as well as our ten-point pro-poor agenda. The timing
for each debate and measure will be up to the legislature. The Senate
and House leaderships are working on it and I have utmost confidence in
them. We are on a single track and the national interest will be served
by a solid executive-legislative partnership.”

The President’s* utmost confidence in the Senate and House is not
misplaced. She is still in Malacanang thanks to a majority of them.
Although there are ominous rumblings in the Senate about the wisdom of
embarking on a divisive issue like Charter change at this time, anyone
who follows Senate politics understands that the rumblings can be
addressed by judiciously doling out sufficient handouts for the
holdouts among them. Notice that in the Senate the argument is focused
more on the timing and the method of Charter change rather than on the
why and which economic provisions need to be changed.

As for the House, De Venecia or Casey Jones will take care of the
incumbents while the President’s* campaign consultant will take care of
the freshmen whom he Has gathered under an umbrella called Coalition
for a New Philippine Congress. The campaign consultant will also act as
political mentor to her son Mikey and her
brother-in-law Jose (Pidal). Their “tree of knowledge” so to speak.

The new coalition has no other purpose than to ensure that Casey Jones
keeps the Batasan train running smoothly and on time. As an expert on
mixed metaphors might describe it, “The new coalition is nothing but a
shot across the bow of de Venecia’s train.”

The train that rolled over the canvass proceedings and transported
President* Arroyo to Malacanang via Cebu will be renamed and rerouted
to accommodate new passengers.

The Batasan-Cebu Inter-island Railroad will henceforth be called the
Occident Express in honor of its new passengers. The Batasan Station
will be renamed Constituent Assembly or Con-ass Station.

The new route will run from Con-ass Station, cut through the heart of
Philippine business, meander through scenic Philippine mineral and
natural resources reserves, and end at the guesthouse of the foreign
bases commander.

The train will have only one brief stop—to allow its passengers to
relieve their bladders—at the monument of Manuel L. Quezon, the
Filipino leader who believed that our natural resources are our
INALIENABLE HERITAGE AS A PEOPLE and that the permanent presence of
even the friendliest of foreign troops is an assault on our
sovereignty. But why make an issue of out of it? As Angelo Reyes is
wont to say about sovereignty, “that’s just semantics.” Choo-choo! So
hurry up, zip up your trousers and put on your coats ‘cuz Casey Jones
is shouting “All aboard!”

But not all of us will be allowed on board his gravy train. Most of us
will be left behind without a shirt on our backs. A lucky few may be
able to make it to an airport or a pier and leave for the greener
pastures of servitude abroad. But the rest of us who will be left
behind…well, we will also be servants of foreigners—but with the
added feature of working for them without having to leave our homeland.
Plus, we will be enjoying the protection of friendly permanently based
foreign troops. “Bayang magiliw” daw.