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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One year ago today, the National Transformation Council (NTC) was launched in Lipa City by citizens from all over the country and all walks of life, calling for moral transformation of the rotten political system. With election fever sweeping the citizenry, question is raised: was the NTC just a stab in the dark, a voice crying in the wilderness, sound and fury signifying nothing? NTC asserts that nothing was lost of its efforts, for amid current political frenzy remains its burning desire to try to right the wrongs and carve a better future for the country we love.







                 Launch of the National Transformation Council a year ago in Lipa City


One year ago today, some 5,000 citizens from all walks of life and from all around the country launched in historic Lipa City the National Transformation Council (NTC). As its name suggested, the NTC, anchored on the strength and courage of its faith-based leaders from the Catholic, Prostestant and Muslim faiths, sought to transform our nation and people away from the corruption and political savaging that characterize our society, and institute a God-oriented people-focused system change. Various assemblies followed Lipa---Cebu, Butuan, Angeles, General Santos, Davao City and other places.

It has been a year since that fateful day at Lipa and instead of the system change that NTC sought, the nation is now caught up in political fever anticipating 2016; corruption has remained unabated and the political elite has muscled into power more than ever before, or even worse. Many institutions of the country have been wracked with dissensions and some even ruined, perhaps for a long while.

Thus, it's natural that after a year the query would be: Was NTC a mere pipe dream? Was it all for naught, a stab in the dark by political neophytes and the gloriously naive, by has-beens and what-nots?

Yesterday, in a gathering at Manila Hotel of NTC folks and kindred sentiments, assessment was made of the year that has come to a close and that inevitable query still seeking answers: was it a useless exercise, as nothing seems to have changed? The ruling elite seems more avid to consolidate power than ever before, so as to evade prosecution in the future.

The following statement issued by NTC at its first anniversary took a look-see and obviously did not believe that this citizen movement has become irrelevant. True, target goals were not achieved, but inroads have been made into the political, moral and ethical consciousness of many segments of the people---which is good enough for a first anniversary. Mahatma Gandhi did not march in one day, and so will NTC continue its march, its role as political conscience and moral compass. This is in the full belief that building a nation will have to be an unending work in progress, never an overnight phenomenon..

Please read the following statement issued by NTC on the First Anniversary of the Lipa Declaration, held at the Manila Hotel yesterday, Aug. 26, 2015, titled:

‘MORE THAN EVER, WE NEED A CARETAKER GOVERNMENT NOW!’


ONE YEAR AGO TOMORROW,  ON AUGUST 27, 2014, THE NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL  CONVENED ITS VERY FIRST ASSEMBLY IN LIPA CITY AND ISSUED ITS LANDMARK  LIPA DECLARATION.   AFTER LIPA CITY, SUCCESSIVE ASSEMBLIES WERE HELD IN CEBU, BUTUAN, ANGELES, DAVAO, GENERAL SANTOS, AND LIPA ONCE MORE, TO SPREAD THE URGENT CALL FOR  NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION.

VARIOUS GROUPS ACROSS THE NATION CAME FORWARD TO ECHO OUR CALL.  CEBU, MINDANAO AND CENTRAL LUZON WERE AMONG THE FIRST  TO RESPOND WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM AND VIGOR.   TODAY  WE PAUSE TO CONSIDER HOW THE GOVERNMENT AND OUR PEOPLE HAVE RESPONDED TO OUR CALL.  

HOW VALID STANDS OUR CALL?  AS THE VARIOUS POLITICAL GROUPS PREPARE TO COMPETE FOR THE  2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS,  DOES  OUR CALL FOR  CHANGE STILL CARRY THE SAME WEIGHT  AND URGENCY AMONG OUR PEOPLE,  OR  HAS  IT BEEN COMPLETELY SET ASIDE AS IRRELEVANT IN THE ONGOING SHUFFLE  FOR POLITICAL POWER?

THIS WE MUST NOW ASCERTAIN.

IN LIPA, WE DECLARED THAT WE FACED A CRISIS OF UNPRECEDENTED PROPORTIONS.  WE SAW THE NATION IN GRAVE PERIL FROM THE VERY POLITICAL FORCES  ORDAINED TO PROTECT, PROMOTE AND ADVANCE THE NATION’S WELLBEING, BUT WHICH WERE AGGRESSIVELY UNDERMINING ITS MORAL, RELIGIOUS, SOCIAL, CULTURAL,  CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FOUNDATIONS.

WE SAW THAT UNBRIDLED AND UNPUNISHED CORRUPTION AND WIDESPREAD MISUSE OF POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC POWER IN ALL LAYERS OF SOCIETY HAD NOT ONLY DESTROYED OUR COMMON CONCEPTION OF RIGHT AND WRONG, GOOD AND BAD, JUST AND UNJUST, LEGAL AND ILLEGAL. IT HAD ALSO PUT OUR PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE POOR, AT THE MERCY OF THOSE WHO HAVE THE POWER TO DICTATE THE COURSE AND CONDUCT OF OUR DEVELOPMENT FOR THEIR OWN ENDS.

DESPITE THE CONSISTENT  PROTESTATIONS ABOUT MR. AQUINO’S SO-CALLED  “DAANG MATUWID”,  OFFICIAL CORRUPTION WENT UNCHECKED AND UNABATED TO THE POINT WHERE IT  NO LONGER SUFFICED  TO SAY  THE SYSTEM HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY CORRUPTED, BUT RATHER THAT “CORRUPTION HAS BECOME THE SYSTEM.”

FAR FROM PRESERVING AND DEFENDING THE CONSTITUTION AS HE SWORE TO DO WHEN HE ASSUMED OFFICE,  PRESIDENT B. S. AQUINO 3RD VIOLATED AND SUBVERTED IT BY CORRUPTING THE CONGRESS, INTIMIDATING THE JUDICIARY, TAKING OVER THE TREASURY, MANIPULATING THE AUTOMATED VOTING SYSTEM, AND PERVERTING THE CONSTITUTIONAL IMPEACHMENT PROCESS.

MR. AQUINO ALSO DAMAGED THE MORAL FABRIC OF THE NATION BY PHYSICALLY BRIBING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NOT ONLY TO IMPEACH AND REMOVE A SITTING CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT, CHIEF JUSTICE RENATO CORONA, BUT ALSO TO ENACT A REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH LAW
WHICH PUTS THE STATE IN CONTROL OF THE REPRODUCTIVE FACULTIES OF MARRIED COUPLES, AND DISRESPECTS THE RIGHT TO LIFE OF HUMAN BEINGS AT THE EARLIEST AND MOST VULNERABLE STAGES OF THEIR LIVES,  IN DEFIANCE NOT ONLY OF THE CONSTITUTION, BUT ABOVE ALL OF THE MORAL LAW, THE CUSTOMS, CULTURE AND CONSCIENCES OF FILIPINOS.

THEREFORE, FAITHFUL TO THE OBJECTIVE MORAL LAW AND TO THE UNIVERSALLY HONORED CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLE THAT SOVEREIGNTY RESIDES IN THE PEOPLE AND ALL GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY EMANATES FROM THEM, WE DECLARED THAT MR. AQUINO HAD LOST THE MORAL RIGHT TO LEAD THE NATION, AND HAD BECOME A DANGER TO THE PHILIPPINE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN STATE AND TO THE PEACE, FREEDOM, SECURITY AND MORAL AND SPIRITUAL WELLBEING OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE.

WE  FURTHER DECLARED THAT WE HAD LOST ALL TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN MR. AQUINO AND CALLED UPON HIM TO IMMEDIATELY RELINQUISH HIS POSITION SO THAT WE COULD RESTORE THE BROKEN CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM BEFORE WE BEGIN TO CONSIDER ELECTING A NEW GOVERNMENT UNDER NORMAL POLITICAL CONDITIONS.

THE VARIOUS ASSEMBLIES THAT FOLLOWED IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY REITERATED WITH GREATER VIGOR AND URGENCY THE CALL UPON MR. AQUINO TO STEP DOWN. THIS REACHED A HIGH  POINT AFTER THE JANUARY 20, 2015  MASSACRE IN  MAMASAPANO, MAGUINDANAO, IN WHICH 44 SPECIAL ACTION FORCE POLICE COMMANDOS PERISHED IN THE HANDS OF THE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT AND THE BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS AFTER THEY WERE DENIED REINFORCEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT, WHO ORDERED THE MILITARY UNITS TO STAND DOWN.

WITH SIMILAR INTENSITY AND URGENCY THE  ASSEMBLIES RENEWED THE CALL  UPON THE COUNCIL TO ESTABLISH A CARETAKER GOVERNMENT TO PRESIDE OVER THE  NEEDED SYSTEM CHANGE.  THE ROLE OF SUCH INTERIM BODY, THEY POINTED OUT, WILL NOT BE TO SUCCEED MR. AQUINO BUT SOLELY TO PREVENT THE CONTINUED DESTRUCTION OF OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM, AND TO REBUILD AND NOURISH BACK TO HEALTH ITS INSTITUTIONS, SO THAT ALL  COULD  FREELY JOIN THE POLITICAL COMPETITION LATER, WITHOUT THE DICE BEING LOADED IN ANYONE’S FAVOR.  AT THE VEY LEAST THE PEOPLE MUST BE GUARANTEED A TRULY FUNCTIONING, FRAUD-FREE ELECTORAL SYSTEM, OTHERWISE  WE SHOULD REFRAIN FROM HOLDING ANY FURTHER ELECTIONS.

TODAY, ONE YEAR AFTER THE LIPA DECLARATION,  WE HAVE TO ASK,  IS THERE ANYTHING WE SAID IN LIPA AND IN ALL THE OTHER ASSEMBLIES, THAT NOW APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN IN ERROR, OR IN EXCESS OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL, MORAL AND PATRIOTIC  CONCERNS?  HAVE WE UNFAIRLY AND UNJUSTLY CONDEMNED THE AQUINO ADMINISTRATION, AND MISREAD  OUR  PEOPLE’S CAPABILITY TO STAND FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND THE DIGNITY AND HONOR OF THE NATION?

NO, WE HAVE NOT.  THE AQUINO ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT SHOWN THE SLIGHTEST  DESIRE TO DO PENANCE FOR ITS GRIEVOUS WRONGS, AND MEND ITS WAYS.  AS IT APPROACHES THE END OF ITS BORROWED TIME, IT HAS SHOWN NO EFFORT, AND NO DESIRE, TO CONDUCT A CLEAN, HONEST AND CREDIBLE ELECTION, NOR TO PROSECUTE THOSE WHO HAVE DEBASED THE RULE OF LAW AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER AND RIPPED OFF THE COFFERS OF THE NATION. 

THE APPARENT GAME PLAN IS STILL TO MANIPULATE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION THROUGH THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND ITS VENEZUELAN PARTNER, SMARTMATIC, IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE CONTINUED PLUNDER OF THE ECONOMY,  THE CONTINUED DESTRUCTION OF ALL OUR INSTITUTIONS AND THE CONTINUED EXPLOITATION OF OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM.

 IN OUR EFFORT TO MAKE THE REGIME ACCOUNTABLE TO THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RULE OF LAW, SOME MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL HAVE ASKED THE SUPREME COURT TO DECLARE VOID AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO (CAB) AND THE COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO (CAB) THROUGH WHICH SOME FALSE FRIENDS OF THE REPUBLIC  IN THE NAME OF A BOGUS PEACE SEEK TO BALKANIZE MINDANAO.

THEY HAVE ALSO ASKED THE HIGH COURT TO STOP THE ILLEGAL AND MASSIVE REALIGNMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS WHICH WOULD ALLOW SMARTMATIC AND THE COMELEC TO CONTROL WITHOUT ANY ACCOUNTABILITY THE NEXT ELECTIONS. 

TO END THE ADMINISTRATION’S UNILATERAL EXERCISE OF IMPUNITY, THEY FILED TODAY A MANDAMUS SUIT  AGAINST THE PRESIDENT, THE OMBUDSMAN, THE BUDGET SECRETARY, THE JUSTICE SECRETARY, THE SENATE PRESIDENT, THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, THE SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN, THE HEADS OF VARIOUS AGENCIES, AND ALL THOSE INVOLVED IN THE MISUSE AND ABUSE OF THE P150-BILLION DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM (DAP), WHICH THE SUPREME COURT HAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
OUR FAITH IN OUR HIGHEST COURT REMAINS STRONG AND UNIMPEACHABLE, BUT WE FEAR THAT EVEN IF THE COURT SHOULD ACT FAVORABLY UPON ALL OUR PETITIONS, SUCH ACTION MAY NOT BE SUFFICIENT TO END THE EVIL THAT NOW  ENVELOPS THE SYSTEM.  SO WE MUST BE PREPARED TO DO MORE. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT MR. AQUINO HAS LESS THAN ONE YEAR TO STAY IN POWER, AND THAT WE SHOULD BE PATIENT AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT ADMINISTRATION TO TAKE OVER. 

BUT JUST AS IT TOOK JUST ONE TINY MOMENT TO ISSUE THE  ORDER THAT LED TO THE BRIBERY AND TOTAL CORRUPTION OF CONGRESS AND THE REMOVAL OF THE SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE, AND TO THE MAMASAPANO MASSACRE,  IT WOULD NOT TAKE  MUCH LONGER FOR MR. AQUINO TO COMMIT OUR POORLY EQUIPPED TROOPS INTO AN UNWANTED,  NEEDLESS  AND RUINOUS WAR AT THE WEST PHILIPPINE/SOUTH CHINA SEA, OR TO  COMPLETELY HIJACK THE NEXT ELECTION, IF IN HIS JUDGMENT THAT COULD “SAVE” HIM AND HIS FRIENDS FROM  ANY AND ALL IMAGINED PERIL.


WE PRAY TO THE ALMIGHTY GOD, IN WHOSE HANDS WE PUT THE NATION’S SAFETY AND WELLBEING, THAT NOTHING LIKE THIS WOULD EVER HAPPEN.  BUT GIVEN WHAT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THESE LAST FIVE YEARS, WE CANNOT AFFORD  ANY UNDUE  RISKS AT THIS TIME. MR.  AQUINO MUST STEP DOWN. MORE THAN EVER WE NEED A CARETAKER GOVERNMENT, NOW.

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