POLITICAL TOOL: The ubiquitous cellular phone has emerged as a potent political tool in this age of blitzkrieg propaganda and lightning mass action presaging the onset of the election season.
The celfon made possible the quick molding of public opinion and massing of marchers the past two days as the nation debated the impeachment of Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and the possible presidential bid of actor Fernando Poe Jr.
One electric text message is all that is needed to set in motion an information whirlpool spreading in progressive proportions as recipients pick up and, with a few taps on the keypad, forward the message to everybody in their celfon address books.
The communication value of the celfon’s texting service is further enhanced when used in tandem with radio, TV and the print media. In the hands of a phone brigade, the celfon performs propaganda wonders.
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DELUGE OF MSGS: We felt the impact of celfon texting as we were swamped by the response to our Sunday column featuring an open letter to FPJ appealing to him not to run for president despite his vaunted popularity.
We were tied up Sunday and Monday (yesterday) personally replying to the avalanche of text messages and email from readers who were moved by the letter to FPJ and the harassment of the Chief Justice by partisans of businessman Danding Cojuangco.
Canvassing the text messages and email, we saw that around 95 percent of celfon texters discussing impeachment sympathized with Davide. The same percentage pleaded with FPJ not to succumb to pressure/temptation for him to run for president in 2004.
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20-M VOTING BLOC: We leave to statisticians the finer points of analyzing the data, but our impression is that the celfon crowd in this country may be big enough to elect a president.
Now estimated at around 20 million, celfon users (if they are registered voters) are virtually half of the electorate and a fourth of the national population of 80 million. Their number grows by at least 2 percent annually.
We believe that celfon users who besieged us with compelling text messages sympathizing with Davide represent a cross section of the estimated 20 million users.
The figures are interesting since even the popular Joseph “Erap” Estrada won the presidency only by an “overwhelming” plurality of 10 million votes.
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TXT POWER: The celfon cuts through physical barriers as well as social stratification. A celfon acquired for as low as P1,200 gives political empowerment and anonymity that embolden the user to express himself on public issues.
The Radio Veritas station used by Jaime Cardinal Sin in 1986 to gather the faithful to protect the putschists who had rebelled against the dictator Marcos pales in comparison to the celfon.
We saw in the last two days how spirited texting galvanized public opinion and mustered enough warm bodies for yesterday’s pro-Davide rallies. That the messages were laced with wild rumors only demonstrated not the weakness but the effectiveness of this electronic medium.
In the text messages sent to Postscript via 2960, we continue to receive emotional reaction, mostly in agreement, to the moving letter of concerned Filipinos to FPJ who they fear might just win the presidency if he ran.
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TAGLISH EDITION: For the record, the letter to FPJ was composed by a group that included Nanette Saenz, Sandy Hontiveros, Didoy Fullon, Marimi de la Fuente and Maripaz Aquino. Emailed copies are circling the globe to reach Filipinos who still care for their country.
A hard copy has been sent to FPJ at his Antipolo address. Many readers have copied the letter from Postscript and are passing it around for signature, to be sent later to the actor before he commits the mistake of running for president.
The authors told me that they have composed a version in Taglish. This was even before one of our readers suggested that a Tagalog version be written so FPJ could understand it.
If you have not read the letter, you can access it by going to Archive above, then clicking Oct. 26.
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WHAT’S ‘INITIATED’?: A key objection to the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. is the prohibition in the Constitution against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same official more than once within one year.
An earlier impeachment complaint was filed against Davide last June, or four months ago, prompting his defenders to say that the second (current) complaint is not allowed.
They refer to Article XI, Section 3 (5) of the charter that says: “No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”
Former Sen. Raul S. Roco explained this very clearly in his recent radio program on DZBB as he discussed the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice.
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STARTING A CAR: Excerpts from that Roco program aired last Oct. 25:
Mel “Batas” Mauricio (anchor): Ano ba ang ating masasabi dito, medyo matindi itong sa impeachment?
Roco: I-focus lang natin ang mamamayan dito sa Article XI, Section 3, sub-Section 5 ng Constitution. Ang pinag-aawayan ay kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng “initiated.” Bago ako pumunta rito, tiningnan ko sa Webster (dictionary) dahil sa batas naman dapat gagamitin natin ang words in the ordinary meaning. Hindi naman puedeng ibahin. Hindi naman puedeng ang “black” sasabihing “white” by definition of law.
Ang nakalagay doon “to start, to begin.” Mag-umpisa. Sa palagay ko’y itong mga kabigan nating driver ay maiintindihan ang “start.” Nag-start na, umandar na kahit hindi pa gumagalaw. Simple iyan. Kung naka-primera ka na at umaandar, pangalawang pangyayari na iyan.
Ang “start,” pag-on mo umaandar ang makina, kahit idle naka-start na ang makina. Pag nag-primera ka, umaandar na, tumatakbo na. Pag nag-segunda ka ay matagal ng nakapag-start.
So ngayon ang pinag-uusapan ay puede bang mag-initiate kontra sa Chief Justice ng dalawang beses (sa isang taon)? Sabi ng congressmen ay puede raw dahil ang “start” daw ay hindi iyung panimula kundi kapag nakapag-aksyon na ang committee. Aba’y napaka-suerte nila. Kung naka-segunda na at saka (pa lang) naka-start?
Mauricio: Kahit sa makina ng kotse, kapag naka-segunda ka na at ini-startmo uli iyon, mag-a-aberya ang makina.
Roco: So ang “initiate” ay “start.” Kailan nag-start ang proseso? Kapag may nag-habla, “start” na. Nag-primera — napunta sa committee. Bumoto ang committee — naka-segunda na. Ang gustong sabihin nila(congressmen) doon pa lang ang “start.” Pati ba naman ang meaning of words papalitan na? So ang sabi ng Korte Suprema diyan e, “When even words lose their meaning, how can there be reason behind the law?”
Mauricio: Sang-ayon tayo diyan dahil nga naman kung iibahin mo na ang ibig sabihin kahit ng mga ordinaryong salita, paano pa mapapatakbo ng mahusay ang sistemang legal sa batas?
Roco: Paano magkakaintindihan?
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ODD LOGIC: Congressmen from the Cojuangco stables insist that the initial filing of the impeachment complaint was not the initiation of the impeachment process. They add that the first complaint against Davide filed last June did not prosper.
They said that “there was no termination of the first impeachment case, the same not having been voted upon by the House of Representatives in plenary session.”
The first impeachment complaint was never terminated, so it never started? What logic is that?
What has blinded Cojuangco’s boys to the fact that the Constitution speaks of the “initiation,” not the “termination,” of the process?