An introduction to politics in the Philippines

Tuesday afternoon I walked into the newsroom and started reading through the advisory and scripts for our two and three o’clock shows. Since I was assigned to the business news group about a week ago, I have a few regular tasks every day. It’s nice to feel like there’s some sense of regularity to my work day. It’s also nice to feel like I may actually be contributing something.

The day started out quite normally. I had to write and edit business news scripts for the afternoon shows, even though ANC, the 24-hour cable channel, was broadcasting President Arroyo’s impeachment hearings live. So far, watching the impeachment hearings has been a lot like watching C-SPAN — a lot of politicians speaking at podiums for long periods of time — something only your high school government teacher watches. I guess it goes without saying that Arroyo’s impeachment is big news, and people have actually been watching the C-SPAN-like coverage. And now I know why.

Maybe an hour into my day, the impeachment hearings started to gain a bit of momentum. A pro-impeachment, anti-Arroyo lawmaker accused a pro-Arroyo lawmaker of trying to “railroad” the hearings. The opposition (as the anti-Arroyo politicians are referred to) grabbed a bunch of papers, threw them in the air, and walked out. Outside the Assembly, there was quite a crowd gathered as the opposition lawmakers hopped into vans and took off. As they were making their way through the crowds, I swear I saw pushing and shoving (and who knows, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few fists were thrown) as they were leaving.

Meanwhile, my coworkers are all clustered around the TVs, watching the political chaos unfold. What am I doing? I’m sitting at my desk, staring in disbelief, and then I’m laughing. The girl sitting next to me had the unenviable task of transcribing the live coverage. She stopped typing, rolled her eyes, and looked over at me. “Can you believe this?” I asked. “It’s always like this,” she said.

Later, during my dinner break, I started talking to a producer I work with on an evening show. “These hearings are crazy, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

She didn’t have much analysis or commentary to offer. But her comment was insightful enough: “Welcome to Philippine politics.”

Read more about the impeachment:

Lawmakers exit Arroyo impeachment hearing

Philippine lawmakers quash impeachment

79 or bust on Monday

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