Thursday, October 13, 2005

What Is A Crisis Condition?

WE SHOULD ALL BE feeling appalled and dismayed by now, but strangely enough, we do not seem to belch anything close to a whimper when there should already be an outcry. Like we--the public--just do not mind it at all or perhaps just could not absorb the whole implication of such happenstance. I am talking about the proverbial emergency power that Malacañang might let loose on us if (according to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita) the situations warrant it. Today, the talk on the emergency rule already centers on the three main crisis conditions that could probably justify the declaration of the power and as declared, they are a terrorist attack, a breakdown in peace and order, and a steep surge in oil prices. It was only days ago that the head of the monster was just being whispered as rumors and gossip matters but now, we are almost speaking of the emergency rule as if it is already a requisite event that could always happen in the days to come with reasonable certainty. How much steeper can the oil prices go before it's a crisis condition ? How grave a terrorist attack be? And what breakdown of peace are they talking about? The conditions set by Malacañang are way too general that the gray areas are staring at us like a slimy serpent. And this becomes dangerous for us; when abuse of power become so very convenient for those who are poised to abuse.

What we are talking here are not simple emergency powers that have been exercised before. This is not merely about permitted importations of knock-down vehicles or power contract exemptions; the powers being contemplated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is of such weight that could border on autocracy, taking over private companies and enterprises such as oil companies and public utilities in the aim of settling a “crisis condition”. It amazes me that US-educated economist like our President could speak of such overserious economic matter with mind-boggling casualness as if she is oblivious how such condition may possibly bring more harm than good to our country, like when massive capital takes flight out of our country like it was in the early 80's when then Prime Minister Cesar Virata made that famous television pronouncement “Mr. President, our country is in crisis!”. Not only that, the global economic community would surely frown on a nation that had gone to such dolorous extent as towards a Communist-style tactic of taking over major private undertakings like oil companies by way of executive compulsion. For certain, I do not have such adoration towards foreign capitals and capitalists but at this moment, massive capital plight out of our financial markets would surely result to dire economic consequences to our country. There'd be massive job lay-outs and capital reduction as industrial activity would slacken so sharply. National productivity would surely suffer and our credit standings would for certain reach record lows, even while we are already so low in the eyes of international funders and creditors.

Alright, granting that there'd really be a point that it would be so salacious and tempting to kick some ass and take over those profit-hungry oil companies but in my mind, these high-handedness should not be resorted to except when they become extremely necessary.

General conditions given by Malacañang as to what could be “a crisis condition” that should justify such weighty emergency powers are simply way too lenient and shouldn't be used as the guidelines for the eventual imposition. There should be mayhem in the streets before they'd dare take such measures. Or something like that.

As in the famous adage, absolute power corrupts absolutely.


  1. The crux of the argument here is not on the emergency powers but on the person holding such powers. The United States was in a similar predicament when it passed the very controversial Patriot Act which is considered the worst nightmare of civil rights advocates. In spite of the hullabaloos, then US Attorney General John Ashcroft proved to the American people that absolute power corrupts absolutely only when passed on to a corrupt individual (ACLU may totally disagree with my statement). If the situation worsens and presents a clear and present danger to the Filipinos, I would personally support the presidential emergency powers. But giving it to somebody like GMA is totally a different picture. I can’t imagine how well she will dispose such a power. How I wish somebody as stern and brilliant as FDR would sit down in Malacanang and save us from this poison called poverty the way FDR did during the Great Depression.

  2. crisis condition is the disruption of a nation? in which grounds? there were a lot "lot" of external processes that provoke a crisis condition. You've mentioned few of them already. And it gets even more complicated with the management of those governing it.

    Well.. lahat naman po affected. Economic global crises, so they say.

  3. To John: Yeah, it would be too dangerous if the hand that hols the emergency rule belongs to President Arroyo. With the predicaments she is facing now, she might wield it improperly.

    To nao: Good description nao. It clarifies the issue more...

  4. Can someone take the oil crisis out of the equation please? What has a global crisis have to do with Arroyo running the government?

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