How Ellen Tordesillas inspired me to form an opinion about Charter Change

Up until now, I didn’t have a strong stand on whether the Constitution of the Philippines should be changed or not. That’s just me being consistent with my focus on issues and ideas to do with the fundamental nature of our character as a people than on the politically-“inspired” chatter of the mainstream. I recall the late Teddy Benigno putting it quite well: “I have chosen the culture of the Filipino as my battleground.” But then the other thing about me that remains consistent as well is the source of my writing inspiration: annoyance; an epiphany inspired by the seminal call-to-arms of esteemed boss of, BongV: “Let your annoyance be your mojo“. And if there is one thing that is exceedingly annoying, it is the way influential people propagate moronic thinking as a means to substantiate the positions they take on vital issues. This is something that Ellen Todesillas of Jolog Central consistently does. Her latest piece where she weighs in like a sack of horse manure on the issue of Charter Change is one of those perfect cases-in-point.

Read Tordesillas’s article and you will find absolutely nothing about the ideas that underpin the proposed changes on the Constitution and everything about the people and events behind the initiative..

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That’s not very surprising when one recalls the insightful words said to have been said by the venerable Eleanor Roosevelt:

Small minds discuss people;
Mediocre minds discuss events;
Brilliant minds discuss ideas.

You need not get past the title of Tordesillas’s entire article “Beware of Cha-Cha as Arroyo’s Trojan horse” to get the small point she makes with her big virtual mouth. Upon being “alerted” by a well-placed “friend” that “[former President Gloria] Arroyo and her allies” in Congress are “ready with the charter-change operation and they are just waiting for the right time to start it”, Tordesillas mounts that perverse Pinoy-style “investigative” journalism on which the National “Debate” feeds upon. Her hypothesis can be summed up in the key events she noted and the people involved that constitute the “substance” of her article:

(1) Early July of 2010, Arroyo and her son Camarines Sur. Rep. Dato Arroyo filed a set of bills calling for charter change via a Constitutional Convention (con-con).

Tordesillas’s dubious conclusion: That these moves were intended to pave the way for the installation of Arroyo as prime minister.


(2) Monday this week, Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar announces plans to file a bill spelling out the framework for the election of the con-con delegates.

Tordesillas notes that Evardone is a “reliable ally of Arroyo” but at the same time is now a member of the Liberal Party and “has been supportive of Aquino’s legislative initiatives”.

(3) Evardone reportedly has the support of a number of members of Congress in the pushing of this bill.

Tordesillas’s reaction: “Alarming”

Pressed by Tordesillas to explain himself, Evardone provided a sensible explanation of his position, not too different from much of the cases made for Charter Change by my insightful colleagues in — Orion’s in his call for a shift to the parliamentary system, and BongV’s clear points around the need for constitional reform. Tordesillas herself quoted Evardone’s words:

He [Evardone] said he is not primarily for a shift to parliamentary form of government but neither is he averse to it. He said even if we retain the presidential system, we can take a look at the system in other countries (United States) where a vote for the President is also a vote for the vice-president or in Europe where if the candidate who got the highest votes did not get a majority vote, there would be a run-off election.

Evardone said he remembers that during the presidential campaign, Aquino said he would create a group that would study the possibility of changing the Consitution. “This is the best time to do charter-change because if he delays and do it towards the end of his six-year term, he would be suspected to doing it to extend his stay in Malacanang,” he said adding that he can use his popularity now to push such controversial topic.

None of this of course moves Tordesillas, who evidently possesses a mind imprisoned by the small square that is the Philippine National “Debate”, a discourse that has been famously described as one where “Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated“. The Jolog Queen’s conclusion remains quite straightforward:

The objective, of course, is to change the system of government from the current presidential to parliamentary and install Gloria Arroyo as prime minister.

… and Evardone is …

[…] using Aquino’s popularity to push for Arroyo’s agenda […]

All of which epically fail the So What? test.

The irony in all this is how a self-described populist nut like Tordesillas fancies herself as some sort of champion of the “people’s will” and yet sees Filipinos as utterly unworthy of being given a full view of all the options at their disposal to participate in any initiative to reform the Constitution the least of which involves engaging their representatives in Congress intelligently and, at best, actually fully engaging themselves in the discussion and debate. At the very least, this participation should start with at least a clear understanding of what parts of the current Constitution are, in fact, hobbling our lethargic march to prosperity. Ben Kritz expressed this point quite succinctly in his simple challenge:

The question is not, “Should the Constitution be amended?” but rather, “How should the Constitution be amended?”

A lot of morons who have their noses buried deep in the dung pile that is the National “Debate” are quick to come up with glib answers to the earlier but come away with no more than head-scratching (at best) and partisan taglines (at worst) when faced with the latter. And that is why I now have an opinion about Charter Change. It’s because I find annoying anyone who consistently undermines opportunities for Filipinos to step up and think for themselves.

17 Replies to “How Ellen Tordesillas inspired me to form an opinion about Charter Change”

  1. Ellen’s actually quite clever; her point is such an insanely bizarre non sequitur that it defies rebuttal. Ben Evardone has a sensible perspective and idea of how to approach charter change, and from that she draws a conclusion that is totally out in left field. And what can you say to that besides, “Ellen, you are either nuts or a sociopath, or both.” But from her point of view, doing the crazy probably works pretty well — no one will waste their time challenging the intellectual superiority she holds for the readers of her paper that no one with an IQ above 30 takes seriously, or the three dozen tinfoil hat-wearing diehards who regularly read her blog.

  2. daaaaang! even tordesillas’ imagination is desparate… i bet you all that even her daydreams are reruns… poor thang!

  3. The only absolute power I see GMA has over anything is Ellen Tordesillas’ (and her minions’) imagination. GMA may even be buried 6 feet below the ground and still be a threat to Ellen and Co. That’s how much grip GMA has on their thinking. Already, GMA wins without even trying.

  4. Waaaaait. If a con-con (or con-ass, what the hell is up with our love of abbreviations?) happens and somehow manages to make it through now, wouldn’t Noy end up the prime minister? Dammit, reading that article is like leaping into a tornado or something.

    Which leads me to my long-delayed reply to Orion:
    Well, you know, I’m essentially coming from the “Kaizen” point of view that “some positive improvement is way better than NO positive improvement.”

    Far too many Filipinos (and I hope you’re not in that sub-grouping) unfortunately have the prevailing attitude which is “if the proposed solution is not perfect, then let’s just stick with the status quo.”

    I’m partially a Murphyite and partially a Parable of the Talents type (despite being atheist). I believe the Filipinos need to be able to demonstrate the responsibility of handling government, preferably before they change the type of system used. Otherwise, they will definitely try to find some way to screw it up horribly and then joke about it (hence my Murphyism). That’s why I’m being all nitpicky with the parliament proposal.

    I believe the ‘status quo’ needs to be changed to accommodate the system change and that’s why I admire AP’s mission. The people should be educated to realize that maybe it’s not as bad as the shrieking harpies say it is. This way when the change happens, the Filipino people might be more substantially optimistic about it, and they can send people to power to actually work in change that’s more positive to their overall development.

    On Question Time:
    Unless the Philippines gets its own C-SPAN then I’m guessing the only way people will know of Question Time is through the juiciest soundbites on TV Patrol or Bente-Quatro Oras because it’d take up too much time on NBN.

    On Noy and Coalitions:
    I think it would be reasonable to assume that there would be a lot of defections given the opportunistic nature of Filipino politicians. They don’t want to be associated with (as an example) PMGMA with her faltering ratings and what’s been done. Sure they may have the numbers, but thanks to, say, media influence they may find themselves out of their seat the next time around unless they jump ship. And that would probably have led to a dissolution of Parliament and snap elections which I fear could happen quite often (and not to get rid of bad leadership as you suggest).

    With that in mind, I think it’s possible for Noy to have been elected to the Liberal Party leadership after Cory’s death with a ‘snap vote’. Assuming the media barrage (and subterfuge) played out as it did, he could still make PM with a yellow wave of support at the polls for the LP. Barring that, he could be suddenly called upon to effectively confer “The Cory Blessing” upon the next PM and that definitely wouldn’t be Arroyo.

    1. I think the main thing that works against that scenario is that Noy seems to present a much different impression to his own party-mates in the context of being a party leader, which requires a lot of legislative acumen — that same applies in either a presidential or parliamentary system. He’s a symbol, and a push-over: that works well under this presidential system, but it wouldn’t in a parliamentary system. The LP would have to turn to someone a little smarter if they want to put together an organization strong enough to take a majority. Sure, they could try to play the “popular Noy” card, and make an election of MP’s about electing him as PM, but once the election is over — you know, when they have to do actual work — they’d fall apart.

      For what it’s worth, we outside observers are making an educated guess that you’d go through three governments in a relatively quick period (18 months to 3 years), before you figure it out and get things stabilized under a parliamentary system.

      1. Three governments in a relatively quick period? That’s gonna waste a lot of money opening up all those warehouses full of yellow buckets (and I know they didn’t automate the barangay elections) and running all those campaigns again.

        Also, isn’t it the MPs that make the laws anyway with the PM enforcing them? I’ve figured the main difference between parliamentary and presidential is that the legislative and executive branch are one institution in a parliament. If that’s the case, then the MPs can really control the PM in a proper parliamentary system.

        1. Look at recent experience in places like the UK and Australia — it seems to work both ways. The perception of the PM affects the chances of the MP’s in elections, which is why on the one hand the Brown adherents got the boot in the UK and the Australian Labor Party dumped Kevin Rudd before the electorate took out their annoyance with him on the individual Labor MP’s. And as it was, it was a near thing — Gillard’s government has, I believe (someone correct me if I’m wrong), a one-seat majority.

          This is where I kind of differ with the really strong parliamentary advocates, who insist that party platform and positioning trumps everything and personality of the leader — or on the local scale, the prospective MP’s — doesn’t figure into voter decisions. I use “personality” in this sense more as ‘what the candidate stands for’ rather than ‘who the candidate is’, but I’m not at all confident it would work that way, at least at first, in this country. The local “popular” candidates (for example in my area, the Revilla family) in different places are going to align themselves with the party they think gives them the best chance of winning, and who the leader of the party is will make a big difference in that choice. The parties will in turn woo those local candidates whom they think will have the best chance of securing them seats in the Legislature. So I wouldn’t expect many faces or habits to change under a Parliamentary system, despite its structural efficiency attributes.

          This is where cultural change really becomes more important than the structural change. Once the Filipino electorate can learn to take politics and elections seriously and demand more from their representatives, the system may begin to resemble others that have been successful elsewhere.

    1. I think the initiative should be kicked off — a con-con convened, and we (as in everyone) should follow it and focus on the findings and recommendations (kind of like how a steering committee or stakeholder group overseeing an IT implementation project participates in Investigation and Solution Design. As stakeholders, everyone is accountable.

  5. Our system of government is not working. It has a lot of defects. To remedy these defects in any way, will be the start to solve our problems. Governments are like your Shoes. If your Shoes do not fit anymore; giving you bunions; too tight to walk with, or too large to feel. then, you have all the right to change it.

    To put some Phobias on the minds of people; because the Ghost of a certain politician will be resurrected; is not only Stupid…but tantamount to Insanity. We want a government and Constitution; with few loopholes, for politicians to take advantage of the ignorance of Filipinos; and to pave the way for the development of our country.

    1. Federalism Philippine-style is actually A DECENTRALIZATION OF CORRUPTION !  Right now, corruption is soooo centralize in Manila.  C’mon, give us piece of the cake, naman.  Now, imagine if each islands, 7,100 islands depending on the tide, gets a piece of the money into corruption.
      In Marcos era, only Marcos and his cronys steal.  AFter Marcos was booted in a fake EDSA revolution, corruption is decentralized and assigned to Manila.

      1. Isn’t that what’s kinda going on? I think the Ampatuans and Mangududatus are quite enjoying the fruits of Filipino-style Federalism.

    2. daaang! @hyden t naman naman namnnn… we all know the problem >>> monopoly of political clans/oligarchy/dynaties… article # blah blah section # blah blah of flipland consti specifically states >>> bawal ang policlans, blah blah blah…. HB # blah blah blah also defines specifics of the evil of the known problema…. but…. but…. but… Q: do flip chief executives follow the flip consti they swear to uphold??? A: FCUK NO!…. the flips prostituted the flipland constitution… Q: do flips raise a stink about their elected officials behavior??? A: FCUK NO!… hay naku… flips puro mga gung gongs!

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