CALIFORNIA, United States?I have been surfing the Net and watching the cable channels this past week excited by news in the US about the historic House vote on the health care reform bill and dismayed by news in the Philippines about the Supreme Court decision on the midnight chief justice appointment of the president.
In the course of all the Internet chatter about these developments, my friend, Laymon Jones, from Little Rock, Arkansas e-mailed me a quote he stumbled upon. ?I am eternally hopeful that the better angels of our nature will prevail. In the meantime, in an election that promises change, let us appeal to our people?s brightest dreams than to their darkest fears.? The words did not come from 2008 candidate Barrack Obama but from 2010 presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. But the sentiment was shared by President Obama.
When many pundits predicted two weeks ago that his health care reform bill was all but dead and buried, President Obama appealed to the American people to lobby wavering Democrats in the House to support the bill. In pinning his hopes that ?the better angels of our nature will prevail,? Obama secured a 219-212 victory in the House of a bill that will provide 95 percent of Americans with affordable health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured. Pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be a basis to deny people coverage, young adults will be able to remain on their parents? insurance plans until age 26, and tax credits and subsidies will be provided to low-income families and small businesses.
Just before signing the health care reform bill into law on March 23, 2010, President Obama said that it would ?mark a new season in America.? He added, ?We have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.?
The bill, considered the most sweeping piece of federal legislation since Medicare was passed in 1965, would cover those without coverage and those at risk of losing coverage. It would be paid for by taxing the rich. On average, those making more than one million dollars a year will pay $46,000 more in 2013. It would also cut Medicare subsidies to private insurers affecting their executives and shareholders.
While the ?brightest dreams? of those without insurance coverage were realized in the United States, the ?darkest fears? of those in the Philippines materialized in the same week when the Supreme Court appointees of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, by a 9-1 vote, gave her the power to appoint a ?midnight? Chief Justice against the Constitution?s express prohibition.
As columnist Perry Diaz described it, the vote marked ?the transition of the Supreme Court from an independent branch of government to an adjunct of the executive branch; from a bastion of enlightened minds to a dungeon of mindless misfits; and from selfless defenders of the constitution to selfish stooges who trample on the law of the land so their master will rule supreme.?
The ?darkest fears? were also realized when the names of the nominees of the party-list groups were disclosed this past week. It was disclosed that President Arroyo?s son, Mikey Arroyo, is the first nominee of a party-list group that seeks to represent security guards. The second nominee of the group is Dennis Pineda, son of jueteng (a numbers? game) lord Bong Pineda. It was also reported that as many as 50 nominees to various party-list groups are either relatives of President Arroyo or allied with her politically, ensuring that President Arroyo will secure enough votes to be elected House Speaker. It was a clear subversion of the constitutional provision creating party-list groups to represent the traditionally unrepresented segments of Philippine society.
In the event of a failure of national elections (presidential and senatorial), the Constitution provides that the House Speaker will be the head of state, allowing Arroyo to succeed herself. If this happens, the People Power that it will certainly generate will be larger than what occurred in February of 1986.
This scenario became more likely after Comelec Chairman Jose Melo announced that the printing of manual ballots has been stopped and that the automated Elections System (AES) will proceed without any manual system backup. As a result of this decision, non-partisan group that examined the Smartmatic automated election system concluded that automated election system now has only "25 percent probability of success.? Without a manual system to fall back to, this will ensure a failure of elections.
Noynoy Aquino may be asking supporters not to be discouraged by their ?darkest fears? but that may yet be his most daunting challenge.Send comments to Rodel50@aol.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415-334-7800.