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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arroyo tries another tack to stay longer

by Ellen Tordesillas

I’m glad that Comelec Chairman Jose Melo accepts the possibility that automated elections may not take place in many parts of the country on election day.

Last Wednesday, a week after the Supreme Court upheld Comelec’s claim that they are fully capable of a nationwide automated elections despite questions raised by the Concerned Citizens Movement on the legality their having skipped the required testing of the contracted system, Melo said, “Aside from preparations for poll automation, Comelec is also preparing for manual elections sa mga liblib na lugar (in remote areas), provinces with no electricity, and would have issues in electronic transmission. We are ready for manual polls in at least 30 percent or 50 percent of the country as a last contingency measure in case the contingency plans for automation are difficult to implement.”

I don’t know if Melo’s admission of lack of electricity in many areas of the country has something to do with the warning of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes of a power shortage next year, during election period.

Although they lost the battle in the High Court, CCM’s Harry Roque felt vindicated by Melo’s statement. “That is exactly what I said during the oral arguments. I argued that we can possibly automate only up to 70 per cent without experiencing a grand failure of elections.”

Roque said they have argued for partial automation which Melo now admits is a distinct possibility.

Roque now asks: if only 70 per cent of the May 2010 elections is automated, will that be taken into account in the payment of P7.2 billion to Smartmatic/Total Information System which won the contract to conduct the full, nationwide automated elections?

“If partial automation will be implemented, then the payment to Smartmatic should be reduced accordingly. The COMELEC should fix the amount and the terms of refund now, otherwise it will become very difficult to claim the refund if they do it after the election,” Roque said adding that
Smartmatic-TIM should be returning between P2.22 Billion and P3.7 Billiion.

Ferdinand Rafanan, head of the Comelec’s legal department, discounts that possibility but if it happens, he said, there would be “penalty under the service level” section of the agreement.

Despite the Supreme Court’s affirmation of faith in the Comelec, the fear of failure of elections lingers. I believe Comelec when it says that it is impossible for the 80,000 machines to break down on election day. But it doesn’t have to be all the 80,000 machines malfunctioning to create disorder and all sorts of protests.

Rafanan said it is Comelec that will declare failure of elections and the basis are either of the three: no election took place; election was suspended; and election was completed but no proclamation was done because there was no winner.

Rafanan said failure of election could be caused by terrorism, fraud, violence, force majeure or other or similar incidents.

The fear of failure of election, which comes from the Hello Garci scandal in the 2004 election, is compounded by the possible leadership vacuum that would be created in case no winner is declared by June 30, 2010, the last day of Arroyo in Malacañang.

The order of succession provided by Constitution in case of vacancy in the presidency is vice-president, senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives. All those three positions are vacant by June 30,2010 if there would be failure of elections and no winner is declared.

The Senate could not elect a new senate president due to lack of quorum because there would only be 12 members of the Senate, one of them, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, is even in detention and is not allowed to vote.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has warned that the military and the police might end up taking temporary control of the country if there would be a total failure of elections in 2010 resulting in a power vacuum because at that point, “the only authority that you have are those with guns because they are the most organized people in the bureaucracy.”

That is why, I’m wary with the recommendation of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes for Congress to give Arroyo emergency powers for power shortages which he foresees around election period in 2010.

Gloria Arroyo has not given up. After failing to change the Constitution that would have legitimized her plan to continue holding on to power beyond June 2010, she is now asking, through the person who installed her to the presidency without election in 2001, to be granted absolute power. The gall!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mar’s beau geste

by J. S. Ong
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

One predawn hour, I got up for my second pee of the night, then found myself unable to sleep again. Nothing unusual about that; I take diuretics for diabetes and other infirmities of old age, so most nights my sleep is interrupted by a quick trip to the john. If I get up close to wake-up time, sleep becomes elusive.

But something else stirred me awake that Wednesday—Mar Roxas’ stunning announcement the day before that he was ending his bid for the presidency, and giving way to Noynoy Aquino.

This was unexpected. A day earlier, I had told a friend I was willing to vote for a Mar-Noynoy, or a Noynoy-Mar, ticket; but I thought the Liberal Party would first go through a bruising selection process, Mar counting on the regulars he’d been cultivating for years, Noynoy being pushed forward by an external and more energetic groundswell, neither side willing to back down, until the party elders and moneybags hammered out a deal in a smoke-filled room.

But here was something so not in the script, in the way that Tita Cory’s funeral sendoff was so not in the script. Gabby Claudio’s bravado reaction—“an interesting twist that will complicate matters for the opposition”—was cheerful but clueless. Mar’s decision embodies idealism, selflessness, long-term thinking and recognition of the deeper yearnings of the public—qualities unfathomable to and absent in Malacañang today.

It will take a while for Malacañang’s denizens to grasp what is happening and what will happen next, infatuated and hardened as they are by the frenetic pursuit of tactical advantage; and for whom, all there is to political life is politics itself, all there is to governing is the thrill of rule. All they can see, all they can fall back on, are the tricks of the trade—the timely interception at the airport, the recourse to cash-filled envelopes, the invocation of executive privilege, the vicious treatment of whistle-blowers, the supercilious dismissal of approval ratings.

Claudio is only partly right. Mar’s beau geste will complicate matters for the opposition, but the complication will be happy, because forces will start to coalesce. At the very least, three putative candidates can no longer claim to be handpicked by heaven by virtue of direct lines to God. Noynoy and Mar are not saints, but in this milieu, being unsullied will suffice.

Mar’s graciousness will also complicate matters for the party in power, but more dangerously. The forced marriage of Lakas and Kampi was flawed and fractious to begin with; now the ship of state will begin to look like a leaky and overloaded ferryboat in a gathering storm, with some deck officers racing for lifeboats ahead of the crew. Noynoy and Mar will have to be particularly wary of those operators who even now may be making overtures, and arguing, with compelling evidence, that they have been useful to previous Palace occupants; and, given the chance and for the right price, can be so once again.

Finally, Mar and Noynoy will also complicate matters for people of my generation, whose memories of the last quarter century have left us skeptical and weary. We threw out Marcos, and saw our hopes frustrated because Marcos left a legacy of militarists with a taste for power and a fascination with force. As putschists, they were pathetic failures, but they stymied and wasted Cory Aquino’s years as president. One day we looked up and the Marcos cronies were back. One day we threw out Erap, and ended up with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Now we must ponder on Mar and Noynoy, and ask ourselves what we in turn must be ready to give, or give up, and if we have what it takes.

Forty years ago James Reston of the New York Times told my graduate mass com class that all one needed in his line of work was a sturdy pair of legs (a reporter walks a lot) and a strong bladder (a reporter listens to long speeches). Well, 40 years ago, as a sometime campus militant who helped occupy an applied electronics lab to protest the research it was doing for the Department of Defense during the Vietnam War, I discovered, when the police came and chased us out, that I could outrun any cop in California. Now my cardiologist warns me to pause between floors when I walk up to my office. As for bladder strength, now I can’t sleep through the night without getting up to pee.

So what can I bring to bear on the coming struggle? Whatever I can, I suppose, for as long as I can. E-mail friends, connect class lectures to contemporary issues, renew old fellowships. But the fervor doesn’t burn as strong any more. I feel more like Don Quixote’s broken-down nag Rozinante, than like Don Quixote himself.

Perhaps the song associated with Ninoy, “The Impossible Dream,” is too slow-paced, almost too dirge-like, to suit the times. The dream is not impossible, and the time for dreaming is past. We might be better spurred to action by the musical’s title song: “Man of La Mancha” has a livelier tempo, and its opening lyrics might better capture the faith and hope we will need in the days and years to come:

Hear me now, o thou bleak and unbearable world:

Thou art base and debauched as can be;

And a knight, with his banners all bravely unfurled,

Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!

(J. S. Ong was senior editor at the Philippines Herald before martial law and currently teaches marketing and literature at De La Salle University.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Red herring

by Lito Banayo
from MALAYA

The herring (hareng in French cuisine) is a favourite among people who live in the countries beside the North Sea. Pickled herring is a delicacy among the Dutch as much as Scandinavians, and there are as many country variations of the recipe.

Smoking fish and brine-salting were done in the 14th and 15th century to preserve it, much like our tinapa and tuyo. Now herring when cured, turns red. Fugitives hunted by the king’s soldiers would use “red” herrings to throw the soldier’s bloodhounds off the scent. If a herring was dragged across a trail that the hounds were following, it throws them off direction. Thus was born the metaphor of the “red herring”.

A red herring is something that is used to divert attention from the real intent. It is an issue subterfuge, throwing the news hounds off the scent of the real news, the real issue.

Over bottles of beer last Thursday evening, friends asked why the PaLaKa decided to field a Gibo-Ronnie tandem for 2010. Not that they thought BF would have been a better flag-carrier for their frog-green colours which Gibo relishes, his high of 1% compared to 0.2% of the former notwithstanding. But why didn’t the Dona inveigle Noli de Castro, whose numbers were infinitely higher than Gilbert Teodoro’s, they wondered?

Of course, we are told that Noli did not bite, or tarried too long such that when he wanted to bite, the herring was already devoured by Gibo. But then again, up until the Dona met Obama in DC, her political acolytes were pushing every possible legislative tactic to prolong her term by amending the Constitution. No time to make Noli feel there would be elections anyhow, nor time to assure him the baton of her “legacy” would pass on to him..

But likely too, I submit, a Gibo-Ronnie ticket is a red herring. The Dona has two other options in mind. One is rather “out-of-the-box”, and will require a thoroughly-bought and lapdog-loyal military to effect, that is, to cause a failure of elections and use the ensuing chaos to proclaim an emergency situation with the Dona still on top, as commander-in-chief and transition autocrat.

Some time ago, I merely listed the names and positions of the favoured Class of 78 in this space, and described their “familial” relations with their adopted classmate, La Donna, misma. Immediately thereafter, rumours about an “August Moon” plot surfaced, printed by another paper. That’s how credible GMA and her cohorts are.

The other is “in-the-box”, by trapo practice and the Dona’s character. And that is, transact, if it has not yet been struck, a “deal” with Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

Gibo is thus, merely a red herring, to throw us all off the scent. We would be deluded into thinking genuine contest and genuine elections are in the offing, while the Dona just traipses all over the world, no longer savouring fine cusine (kuno) comme Le Cirque (though room service at the Park Lane Intercon can be just as expensive), while the ultimate in her longevity strategies are neatly playing out. One day we just might wake up to the reality of her “evil” designs.

Or, conventional but wicked nonetheless, she pulls all the strings to make Villar “win”, with financial contributions from cronies and relatives to augment Villar’s already deep pockets, and ensure that he is able to buy everyone and everything that needs to be purchased, and utilize a thousand Garci’s through the Venezuelan automated formula. But this gambit would require that Villar is a close enough Numero Dos to Noynoy or Chiz in the official campaign that unreels on February 8. And then he becomes the Venezuelan candidate, by the grace of Gloria and perhaps with the nihil obstat of Hugo Chavez?

* * *

With Mar finally accepting to be Noynoy’s vice-president, the Liberal Party is “kasado”, in gambling bettors’ lingo. And with the NPC expected to finally announce their Chiz-Loren tandem, it will also be “kasado”.

Funny, but it is Manny with the “mostest” in money who is finding it problematic to come up with a VP. He was the first to announce his candidacy. His numbers in the surveys are enviable, the result of hundreds of millions, perhaps close to a cool billion thus far, spent in commercial advertising. He has his own money to burn, and he is burning a lot.

After Chiz Escudero cut him off with a curt rejection two weeks back, he has sounded off Pia Cayetano, but the lady senator won’t do it, not even for the love of her brother Alan Peter. Vice-President Noli has categorically announced, on a “friendly” TV channel, that he will not be his friend Manny’s vice-presidential candidate.

Manny Villar has himself mentioned Jinggoy Estrada (“magaling iyan”, said the NP owner), but then the latter’s daddy, former President Erap, is still declaring that he will run for president himself, otra vez, con mucho gusto. So where does that put Jinggoy? Maybe Erap himself would join Manny as vice-president? He solves his probable disqualification that way, and tests his “vindication” dream.

Manny-Jamby perhaps? Unthinkable. Manny-Ping? Even more unthinkable. Manny-Jojo? Doesn’t seem like Jojo will bite. Why not Manny-Adel (Tamano)? Perfect geographical balance. Demographically, an “ageing” Villar side-by-side with Noynoy, Gibo and Chiz (from young enough to young still to youngest) could be complemented by Tamano, assuming he will be forty by May of 2010, of course.

* * *

Not a red herring, but foul-smelling “bulok” is how former SEC chair Perfecto “Jun” Yasay, tried to ride on the expose of Ping Lacson on the supposedly forcible manner with which Mark Jimenez brokered the sale of PLDT and PTIC holdings owned by Alfonso Yuchengo, Tony Boy Cojuangco, and Antonio Meer, to Manny Pangilinan’s Indonesian-controlled Salim Group, now Metro-Pacific.

Yasay tried to put himself in the “picture” (is Jun thinking of an umpteenth senatorial run?), by alleging that Jimenez got a broker’s commission of 3 billion pesos, which the Erap-proclaimed “corporate genius” divvied up evenly between Erap, then executive secretary Ronnie Zamora, and himself. Angered, Erap reportedly demanded that “Jimenez give up his 1 billion share, and around half of Zamora’s.”

Yasay’s tale is too fantastic and too tall. Nobody pulls, or even attempts to pull that kind of “fast one” on Erap. Certainly not Ronny, who sounded cocksure and even aloof before “ordinary mortals” like his fellows in Malacanang and palace reporters, but would almost always be terrified at Estrada’s ever-suspicious character.

Mark Jimenez, the whispers in the stinking palace at the time went, was invested with the title of “corporate genius” by a grateful president because he delivered whatever his gifts were, in full. Walang dagdag, certainly walang bawas. At walang singit, walang balato, except if the balato came from the cappo di tutti cappi’s generosity, mismo. And Ronny was not the type to get balato from Erap.

* * *

How often did we see DOF Secretary Ed Espiritu in the stinking palace during the days of President Erap? Once a week, sometimes twice, certainly not as often as then custom deputy Nelson Tan, eventually BOC Collector, who reported almost daily to the president. And Customs is under DOF, right? Call that hands-on monitoring of customs collections.

DPWH Secretary Gregorio Vigilar would be in Malacanang for cabinet meetings, which President Erap left to Ronny Zamora to preside, and during inspection trips to the provinces. But why was Region IV DPWH regional head Panganiban reporting almost daily in the palace?

When Ed Angara-recomendee, Dr. Felipe Estrella was the health secretary, who would report DOH matters to Pres. Erap, but Estrella’s undersecretary, Dr. Suzy Pineda-Mercado?

All this talk about exclusively talking only to cabinet-level officials is selective balderdash. It is partly true and partly false, depending on the president’s “interest” in certain departments, and the level of confidence he had in some cabinet members, or lack of the same. Ask the long-suffering-in-silence Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Ramon “Eki” Cardenas whereof I write.

I was there almost every day. I would report to the PTA office along T.M.Kalaw at eight, then leave for the palace by three; stay at the Political Affairs office in the Borloloy annex for two hours or less, depending on the paperwork. Then stay in the presidential residence cum office from five till nine, or sometimes beyond. Ronny and I would start getting fidgety when the President was in an expansive mood after dinner, looking at our watches, for the witching hour might commence when the “celestials” descend upon the palace grounds. That’s when the other “cabinet”, the midnight shift, takes over.

Exception to this daily routine was Monday of each week. Upon our instance, we would meet with the President for a news planning conference at eight and have breakfast with him. The first few breakfasts started at eight. In less than a month, Ronny Z, Rod Reyes, Jerry Barican, Jim Policarpio, and I, plus some quondam additions to the breakfast circle, would have to break our fast by ourselves, because the president was not yet up and about.

On one such day in November 1999, the president joined us at half past nine. Ronny reminded him that Ping Lacson was supposed to be sworn-in as PNP chief, and was already waiting in the anteroom of Heroes Hall. The president did not seem all that eager to swear him in, finally breaking our meeting at almost twelve, which was when Lacson was told that he would finally be sworn in.

In last week’s privilege speech, Lacson told the people the story behind his on-again, off-again appointment as PNP chief. Haaaaay … jueteng!

* * *

Jinggoy labels Ping as an “ingrato”, for telling the nation long pent-up experiences that demonstrate the character and competence of his father, the “Ama ng Masa”.

It is a cultural trait that we Filipinos hold dear and sacred. But “utang na loob” becomes cultural aberration when we close our eyes and shut up our mouths forever, even if the future of nation and people are at stake. “Omerta” or the Mafiosi code of silence is antithetical to the national interest. It is criminal to uphold a personal debt of gratitude over and above country.

E-mail address: (banayo_at@yahoo.com)
Blog: (litobanayo.blogspot.com)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The ‘machinery’ myth persists

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

In the 1992 and 1998 presidential elections, the presidential candidates with the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” have suffered resounding defeats. The so-called “unbeatable political machinery” was with Monching Mitra in 1992 and Joe de Venecia in 1998. Both Monching and Joe lost by big margins.

In 2004, the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” was with Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Most Filipinos think that she never won that presidential election. Most Filipinos think that Garci won the 2004 presidential election.

Now, as we are about to enter the campaign season for the 2010 presidential election — we are again hearing the administration party, the troubled merger of Lakas Kampi CMD, whistling a ‘happy tune’ as they beat their breasts to proudly announce that they have the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” that will elect the next president of the land.

You get to wonder if the Lakas Kampi CMD Party members are idiots — people who do not know the truth — or if they think that we are all idiots. What is even more puzzling is how they manage to get media commentators to mouth their so-called “unbeatable political machinery” bovine ordure.
And yet, when we review the numbers reality, we can see that Monching Mitra in 1992 and Joe de Venecia in 1998 did enjoy better survey ratings than the anointed 2010 Lakas Kampi CMD presidential candidate — Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. Both Monching Mitra and Joe de Venecia never suffered below 1% ratings going into their respective presidential races.

Anyway, it is not your Chair Wrecker’s task today to further highlight the “Impossible Dream” of Gibo Teodoro. Although, yours truly must say that under a different time and under radically different circumstances, Gibo could have been a very attractive presidential candidate.

What your Chair Wrecker seeks to accomplish today is to expose this falsehood about the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” that is again being foisted on our countrymen to try to get them to go for the status quo. This has to be exposed because this falsehood preys on the lesser informed of our countrymen.

This falsehood that rides on the idea of voting for the “sure winner” seduces the less informed to vote for the very political persons responsible for their miserable existence. It is the kind of seduction that makes a raped woman return to her rapist for another session. It is the psychological sickness that has managed to retard our democracy by making voters elect the perceived winners who only manage to make all of us losers once they get elected.

We must inform our voters what exactly political machinery can and cannot do. Political machinery, it must be understood, is the financial and organizational resources to undertake a viable political campaign.

Political machinery is needed to promote a candidate, to make a candidate for public office known to voters along with his or her positive attributes. Political machinery is needed to get your voters to go out and actually vote for you. If 35% plan to vote for you on Election Day, your political machinery can ensure that those voters decide to go to the polling place (and not to the beach) to vote.

Political machinery can prevent cheating from happening — to ensure that all your votes are counted and credited in your favor, that your opponents do not get more than the votes they actually received.

Political machinery can be likened to a good distribution network of a brand in the marketplace. If your advertising has successfully pre-sold your brand, then your distribution network ensures that your brand is at the store shelf when the consumer wants to buy it.

However, your distribution network cannot pre-sell your brand the way advertising does. Your distribution network cannot create the positive image and feeling in the consumer the way advertising does this. The distribution network cannot compel a consumer to buy your brand if a big negative image is hounding it.

In terms of political machinery, nothing comes close to the political machinery of Ferdinand Marcos during the 1986 presidential Snap Election. Unlike the so-called political machineries of Monching Mitra and Joe de Venecia in 1992 and 1998, respectively — the Marcos political machinery also enjoyed a media monopoly.

However, Cory Aquino had something better than the Marcos political machinery. Cory Aquino had People Power. We all know how that political battle ended.

It also happens that when politicians who comprise the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” read the handwriting on the wall, they tend to abandon their destined-to-lose candidates. The so-called “unbeatable political machinery” suffers an implosion. Many members do not just abandon their destined-to-lose candidate — they shift sides and work for the destined-to-win candidate.

Other than the popularly perceived fight of GOOD versus EVIL in 2010, the last minute presidential entry of the Liberal Party has also propagated a largely perceived destined-to-win candidate in Noynoy Aquino. The recent surveys show that the 2010 landscape has dramatically changed with Noynoy threatening to win with an almost majority vote.

The other contending groups, especially the administration party, should do a daily roll call to find out how many members of their so-called “unbeatable political machinery” are still with them. But most of all, they should just stop talking about their so-called “unbeatable political machinery” if they do not have the destined-to-win candidate.

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Friday, September 25, 2009

‘Abandon ship!’

by Rey O. Arcilla
from MALAYA

AS expected, the ruling coalition of Lakas-Kampi chaired by Ms. Gloria Arroyo picked DND chief Gilberto Teodoro as its standard bearer for the 2010 presidential election – to the consternation and dismay of hapless Bayani Fernando.

Ordinarily, the party leader would have been there to raise Teodoro’s hand in triumph. She wasn’t. His selection was timed when she was out of the country. It was an obvious first attempt at trying to dissociate him from the horrendously unpopular Arroyo.

It won’t work. Anyone who is even remotely associated with Arroyo is doomed from the start, even Teodoro who, for some reason, strikes me as someone who is trying very hard to project himself as a strong leader. But based on his pronouncements and the little that I’ve heard and seen of him on radio, TV and newspapers, he simply falls flat.

What immediately comes to mind is his seeming indifference to determining who was responsible for the recent debacle in Basilan where 23 Marines were ambushed and mutilated by MILF elements.

He also doesn’t give any indication as to where he stands on the accusations of wrongdoing by his boss. I would like to hear his take on the ZTE-NBN deal, the fertilizer scam, the Jose Pidal caper, the NorthRail project, the $15,000 and $20,000 dinners of Arroyo and company, the distribution in Malacañang of shopping bags full of money ranging from P200,000 to P500,000 to some 150 congressmen and local officials, etc.

Let’s hear his take – just his take, not what he would do about them in case he wins the presidency – on the scandals and anomalies that have bedeviled and continue to bedevil the Arroyo regime. Right away, we will know the kind of president he will make.

And what is he going to do with the Marcos’ stolen wealth and the long-standing coconut levy case involving his uncle, Eduardo Cojuangco?

***

I am sure if there were other contenders within the party and he had his druthers, Teodoro would have opted for someone other than DILG chief Ronaldo Puno as his running mate. Surely, he must be aware of Puno’s reputation. If not, all he has to do is ask Senator Miriam Santiago.

Unless, of course, Teodoro has in mind to use to his advantage Puno’s alleged expertise which is to make magical moves that alter election results. Hopefully, such dirty tricks will no longer be possible in a computerized election.

***

Arroyo’s legal counsel Raul Gonzalez said Teodoro has more substance compared to Noynoy. He said Teodoro had nine years’ experience in the lower House. So did Noynoy, with two years in the Senate to boot.

Gonzalez said Teodoro is a bar topnotcher. The last bar topnotcher we had as president was Ferdinand Marcos.

Gonzalez also said “it would be unfair to put Gloria as a baggage on Gilbert.”
Let him disown her then.

But Teodoro has already made clear he won’t do such a thing. He says he wants Arroyo’s endorsement. He claims she has never given him any unlawful order. Maybe so, but doesn’t that mean he had already turned a blind eye on the scams and scandals with which she and members of her own and official families have been linked?

***

I like the way Noynoy handled the comparison made between him and Teodoro. He conceded that his cousin indeed has a two-point edge over him.

“He has more hair than me, that’s one point. He has gotten married also, so that’s two points for him now,” Aquino said in jest.

I have never met Noynoy but he does seem to have a good sense of humor. That’s great!

***

A ruling party stalwart noted the support given to Teodoro by the League of Governors and by some 90 congressmen. In all probability, they are the same characters who walked out of Malacañang with shopping bags full of cash.

As they say, tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.

***

When asked about his stand on the VFA, Teodoro said the presence of foreign troops need not necessarily create discord.

Has he not heard of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith? Geez! Where has he been?

Teodoro also said he does not believe the presence of foreign troops tramples on a nation’s sovereignty and cited the Singaporean soldiers whose presence in the US does not seem to affect US sovereignty. Huh? Can you imagine a Singaporean soldier or, for that matter, a soldier from any country trampling on US sovereignty. No way!

“Why should it (VFA) be renegotiated? What are the problems under it? They have to show it (sic) to me,” Teodoro said.

I thought he is a hotshot lawyer? Anyway, he can look at the resolution signed by seven senators. There, he will find some of the answers.

“As long as there is a mutual defense treaty, there is no such thing as overstaying. As a matter of fact, they want more foreign troops from other countries to be able to exercise here in this country…..” he further said.

What? He wants more countries to trample on our sovereignty? And further complicate an already complicated situation with just one country?

Suddenly, Teodoro has become a US spokesman after an abbreviated visit to Washington!

***

“DFA Open to VFA Review” – Headline.

Has Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo made the recommendation to his boss? That’s what people would like to know.

Speaking of Romulo, has he begun to hedge his bet?

If Philippine Star columnist William Esposo’s account of his conversation with Romulo is accurate, and I have no reason to doubt it is not, I get the impression that the latter is preparing to abandon a sinking ship.

Esposo wrote: “Romulo said that he will support Noynoy Aquino’s bid for 2010 president. The Foreign Affairs Secretary being one of the most important posts in the executive branch of government, Bert Romulo’s support is a major boost for Noynoy Aquino’s candidacy and a big blow for the administration candidate,”

Wow! Did you hear that, Ms. Arroyo? Mr. Teodoro? It looks like your cabinet colleague has already turned against you.

I agree the DFA is one of the most important posts in government.

However, I totally disagree that Romulo’s support will be a major boost for Noynoy’s bid. Romulo is thoroughly identified with Arroyo, being one of her most rabid and loyal lapdogs for more than eight years.

His lackluster performance in the DFA will be remembered for, among others, his signing the agreement with American Ambassador Kristie Kenney transferring custody of Cpl. Smith to the US, and his role in the near dismemberment of the Republic through the aborted MOA that would have created the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. Fortunately, both were rejected by the Supreme Court.

He is also responsible, together with Arroyo, for the “prostitution” of the foreign service and the demoralization of its career corps.

Esposo added: “Bert Romulo cautions Noynoy though to carefully select the people seen around him as the wrong ones could provide the ammunition with which to erode his position.

I wholeheartedly agree. But coming from Romulo, that sounds pretty hollow. Pray tell, how come he never gave such advice to his lady boss? And he has the gall, the cheek, the temerity to give it to Noynoy now?! Please naman!

Following are excerpts from a piece I wrote sometime ago about my late mentor and benefactor, General Carlos P. Romulo, Alberto’s uncle:
“In 1984, he irrevocably resigned from the Marcos administration. His failing health was the reason given. But, heartbroken, he believed there was nothing more he could do to save the regime from ultimate demise.

“A year later, about ten days before he joined his Creator on 15 December 1985, I visited him to pay my respects before going to Bangladesh to assume my post as the first Philippine ambassador to that country. One of the things he told me then was that his entire family and many of his friends were urging him to speak out and join the growing outcry against the Marcos regime. He adamantly refused saying: ‘I am not a cad and I am not about to rat on someone who, in his own ways, had been kind to me!’”

There can be no doubt that Ms. Arroyo has been kind to Alberto all these years in more ways than one.

***

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the military and the police might take over the government should there be a failure of elections next year.

Not if he is enough of a statesman. He himself could initiate a change in the Senate leadership by stepping down as Senate president before May 2010 and urging his colleagues to elect one of those whose term will not expire on 30 June 2010 to take his place.

***

Sotero Hidalgo Laurel, husband, father, lawyer, educator, senator, patriot and a passionate nationalist, is no more. He joined his Creator last week at the age of 90.

To his immediate family and the entire Laurel clan, our most sincere condolences.

***

There are 281 days left before the end on 30 June 2010 of the stolen presidency of Ms. Arroyo, courtesy of “Garci”, et al.

***

Today is the 140th day of the third year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

Email address: roacrosshairs@yahoo.com

Osama (bin double) Dead

by Erick San Juan

Last June of this year I wrote an article entitled “Osama: Here We Go Again!” after Osama Bin Laden aired an audio speech over Al Jazeera news in time for the Cairo visit of US President Obama.

Again, on the eve of the 8th year anniversary of the September 11 attack, a video entitled “Message to the American People,” was released by the As-Sahab media branch of Al-Qaeda – and this time it was only a still picture of Osama and his voice. It is quite obvious that whoever is running the show for the Osama myth gave up showing different videos of Osama and different faces at that, as what was exposed by the documentary video Loose Change 9-11 and other similar videos showing different Osama Bin Laden.

Going back to my previous article on Osama, I reiterate OSAMA has been DEAD for so long and I am not alone in declaring this fact because like the late Benazir Bhutto, husband Pakistani Prime Minister Zardari and my colleagues from the Asia Media Forum affirmed bin Laden’s death. They are in one that Bin Laden was killed when his airconditioned underground safehouse in the mountain of Tora Bora was heavily bombed. You cannot stop propagandists like Osama from talking and being interviewed if he’s still alive. Is there a new CIA unit trackking him?

I can’t believe that the director of this faked Osama video is doing this again and for what reason? Another terror plot in the offing? Could be, as what we always say, when the US economy is collapsing (as some economists predicted that the coming collapse will be next month) they will stage a war.
The idea of the looming terror plot in Jerusalem never escape my analysis because the main targets here are the two religious sites – the Dome of the Rock meaning the Muslim Golden Mosque and the Jews Wailing Wall. Our Philippine National Police warned last night that “terrorists” are now in Metro Manila. The reported possible targets according to their intelligence report are the U.S. Embassy and Plaza Miranda. Could the death of top Jemaah Islamiyah leaders like Noordin Top et al in Indonesia be the signal of a “spill over” and the real main target “kuno” is the oil depots in Pandacan? God forbid!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What about Cory II?

by Antonio C. Abaya
from Standard Today

The main headline on the September 15 issue of the Manila Standard Today was quite emphatic and succinct: God save the Philippines from Estrada II – Lacson.

The Standard Today’s main story went on: “Senator Panfilo Lacson yesterday accused his former boss and ousted President Joseph Estrada of protecting gambling lords and smugglers while in office.

“God save the Philippines from Joseph Ejercito, alias Joseph Estrada,” Lacson said in a privilege speech before the Senate, adding it was his duty to reveal what he knew of the former president, who plans to run for the presidency again in 2010.

“In public, Lacson said that he was uncompromising in the crackdown against jueteng, the illegal numbers game. But shortly after his election, he told Lacson to go slow in the campaign against jueteng to give governors and mayors, especially those who helped him get elected, a source of supplementary funds that they could use to help their constituents.”

End of excerpts from the Manila Standard Today.

Sen. Lacson is to be congratulated for his exposé on the convicted plunderer, but he probably realizes that its import is dulled by the lateness of its appearance, by the suspicion that it is merely the result of a save-your-own-skin squabbling between two suspects in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, and that it may have no effect at all on the political judgment of most of the squealing masa, who constitute about 70 percent of the Philippine electorate.

Nonetheless, Sen. Lacson is doing a service to the country by doing what he can to prevent Estrada II from inflicting its shadow on this unfortunate country. I can only hope that God will do his share in blocking this tragedy from occurring..

What about God save the Philippines from Arroyo III? Can we expect this headline-prayer from any Manila newspaper anytime soon? If recent public opinion surveys are to be believed, President Gloria Arroyo is the most disliked and the most unpopular president ever in Philippine history.

But she claimed, before no less than Pope Benedict XVI himself, that the Good Lord put her in the presidency. So how can anyone pray that God save this country from someone who was placed by God himself in that position in the first place? Did God make a mistake the first and second time around? If so, will God make a third mistake?

The truth, however, is that God does not interfere in the affairs of men and women, least of all in the sordid world of Philippine politics. Only Filipino men and women of goodwill can save this country from Arroyo III. But they’d better work fast because the day of reckoning is only eight months away.

Can God save the Philippines from Cory II? I ask this question as someone who was one of the first to ask Mrs. Corazon-Cojuangco Aquino to run for president, in June 1985, when she paid her respects during the wake for my recently departed father.

Before and during the EDSA People Power Uprising in February 1986, my three then teen-aged children and I took active part in the street protests against the Marcos regime. Our ageing Mercedes Benz was part of the citizens’ barricades at the corner of Timog and Morato, to prevent Marcos loyalist tanks from passing through on their way to EDSA.

And we took part in the mammoth Tagumpay ng Bayan rally at the Luneta where Cory unilaterally proclaimed herself the winner of the snap presidential elections, despite the official claim of the Comelec that Marcos had won.

So in 1985-1986, I was a yellow-shirted Corysta. But by mid-1987 I was thoroughly disillusioned, and I was probably one of the first columnists to ask her to resign..

Though I did not nurse any nostalgia for the kleptomanic Marcoses, I could see that President Cory did not possess the leadership qualities needed to build a New Philippines on the ruins of the old. Cory herself confessed in 1985 that she knew nothing about being president. Her subsequent actuations as president provided the proofs of her own fears.

With all due respect to her enormous positive contributions in throwing the Marcoses out, I was discouraged by her inadequate grasp of matters of state, her naiveté towards the Communist movement which was virtually knocking on the gates of Metro Manila during her watch, her lack of vision of what she wanted to accomplish other than the restoration of bourgeois democracy, her preference for the advice from perceived pro-Communists in her Cabinet – including the advice to release from detention of Joma Ssion and other top Communists – which directly led to at least two military coup attempts against her.

That is why I am not excited by the rise of Noynoy Aquino as our possible next president. Because, like his non-political mother, he has had no solid accomplishments as a political person, despite his 11 years in Congress, and because his personality make-up is closer to his saintly mother’s than to his combative father’s, I fear that a Noynoy presidency would be a Cory II interlude, which in my opinion would be a disaster for this disaster-prone country.

I do not mind being proven wrong. I am heartened to learn that the Aquino-Cojunagco clan may eventually have to “leave” its vast Hacienda Luisita in Central Luzon because of the continuing labor troubles that plague it, and the large debt that those labor troubles have cost the clan, according to Noynoy Aquino in the September 13 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
.
It was his mother Cory who exempted Hacienda Luisita from land reform and turned it into a corporation in which the tenants became shareholders. By deciding to “eventually leave” the hacienda – if the rest of his clan will agree – Noynoy answers one of my questions in Questions for Noynoy of Sept 08.

But he would have been more presidential if he had announced that he was putting the hacienda under land reform because it was the right thing to do, not because they were suffering labor troubles and incurring huge debts as a result of those troubles. This has got to be part of his learning curve if he wants to be president.

Noynoy was more convincing (and more presidential) when he came out to categorically support the reproductive health bill, which states the government’s policy to moderate the galloping population of this country. Noynoy, who was co-author of the bill, came out solidly behind it, fully aware that his saintly mother would have blocked it, and despite the stated threat of Roman Catholic bishops to campaign against any politicians who supported it. (Manila Standard Today, Sept. 16).

The power of the Catholic bishops, especially on the population issue, is overdrawn. In 1992, the Protestant Fidel Ramos won the presidency with 23 percent of the votes, despite the campaign of the Catholic bishops against him. In 1995, former Health Secretary Juan Flavier ran for senator explicitly advocating artificial methods of birth control, and, despite the efforts of the Catholic bishops to blackball him, came out fifth or sixth in a field of 55 candidates.

It has been said by many that Noynoy should come out of the shadow of his father to be an effective leader on his own merits. My sense is that it is from his mother’s shadow that he should come out of. On these two issues at least – Hacienda Luisita and birth control – he is doing exactly that. Bully for him.

*****

Reactions to tonyabaya@gmail.com. Other articles in www.tapatt.net and in acabaya.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gibo unmasks Gibo

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

All the best things in this world that became marketing spectacular successes were sold because these performed greatly appreciated functions that were offered to the right consumer, at the right time, at the right place, at the right price and in the right quantity and form.

If you have the best functioning sanitary napkin, you should offer that to women (right consumer) who are in their menstrual period in life (right time). You would make it available to your target women in the outlet where you know they usually shop (right place). You’d sell it at a price that they can afford (right price) which means it is packed in the preferred number of pieces that is practical for them to buy (right quantity). You will also ensure that the sanitary napkin is prepared in the proper dimensions (right form) that suits application.

These lessons from my over 40 years of being a marketing and advertising professional ricocheted in your Chair Wrecker’s mind as Defense Secretary (and now consensual Lakas-Kampi CMD Party presidential standard bearer for 2010) Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro delivered his opening speech before the party Executive Committee last Wednesday.

Gibo was eloquently promising what sounded like a good product.
However, many of the other imperatives that account for marketing success were glaringly absent.

Gibo promises ‘structural reform’

Gibo vowed that he would introduce an era of reform which will be accomplished via structural reform. By itself, the statement is correct. Real reform in our country can only be accomplished if there is structural reform. The oligarchy must be dismantled in order to pave the way for real democracy and the economic emancipation of the masses.

However, Gibo (we are told that he was never called Gibo until the name was concocted for campaign purposes) Teodoro is the least credible to be promising real reform, especially structural reform. List the people who are supporting his candidacy and you’ll find the Who’s Who of the oligarchy or their lackeys.

If Gibo — by some miracle of automation perhaps — manages to win along with his Lakas Kampi CMD Party allies, do you see these oligarchs voluntarily giving up their stranglehold of political and economic power? Is it not logical to expect, just as they have been doing, that there will be more structures created instead in order to cement their monopoly of political and economic power?

Cha-cha unmasks the real Gibo

True enough, just as the fish is caught through its mouth, Gibo telegraphed exactly what he meant by structural reform. He mimicked the mantra that we have been hearing from Charter change (Cha-cha) promoters. Gibo also wants to Cha-cha.

As has been long exposed, Cha-cha is all about perpetuating the oligarchy and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). Cha-cha is definitely not about reform.

Yes, they will change the structure to one of a parliamentary form of government where there is an even greater concentration of power in their hands. In a parliament where GMA can reinvent herself as Prime Minister (after winning in her district in Pampanga) — the oligarchs will have both the legislature and executive under their control without a Senate to expose and counter their abuses.

Expect them to embellish this offer of reform with so-called economic benefits which are no different from the classic Trojan Horse. Woe to us if we ever make the mistake of biting on their offer of reform.

Gibo plays to the US gallery

One of the most disturbing statements made by Gibo last Wednesday was an avowed commitment to fight terrorism. Again, by itself, that sounds like a motherhood statement. Who would want terrorism in their country?

But the “terrorism” that Gibo seems to be pushing is the “terror” tag that the US has overused and abused to be able to justify its many questionable empire building actions all over the world — just like the Iraq War which is all about oil not terror and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in the Philippines.

Is Gibo courting US assistance — hoping perhaps that they’ll send an Ed Landsdale and a Joseph Smith (CIA operatives who promoted Ramon Magsaysay’s presidency) to undertake an operation here that will make him president? Is that why he was in the US recently to support the VFA?
Is Gibo going to allow the Balkanization of Mindanao (something the failed MOA-BJE, the Memorandum of Agreement on the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, would have accomplished) that serves US geopolitical objectives just so that he can become president?

Can Gibo do an Obama?

Lakas Kampi CMD Party stalwarts have been whistling a ‘happy tune’ and are saying that Gibo will do an Obama. They refer, of course, to 2008 US Democratic Party Presidential Candidate Barack Obama who came from obscurity and won by a landslide over Republican John McCain.

They are not alone. Even earlier, the camp of Chiz Escudero had their sights on doing the same thing. Chiz however is much better known than Gibo and is supposedly with the Opposition (How can anyone supported by Danding Cojuangco and Ramon Ang claim to be with the Opposition?).
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Well, it is easy to try to mimic Barack Obama, the presidential candidate, and mouth reform like Obama did in the 2008 US elections. Mimicking Obama and fitting into the symbol that Obama became are two worlds apart. Obama was the symbol of reform. Gibo, vowing to defend and preserve the status quo, cannot become the symbol of reform.

Gibo can try to sound like Obama. Talk is cheap. But Gibo trying to present himself as the symbol of change and reform like Obama in 2008 — then he, and not the Coryistas, should be singing “The Impossible Dream.”

How can Gibo be an agent of change when he vowed to defend and continue the policies and programs of the GMA regime? How can Gibo be an agent of change when he vowed to pursue Charter change which will pave the way for a GMA resurrection?

Can GMA’s anointed credibly present himself as the savior from the most miserable period the Filipinos have suffered since World War II?

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fearless forecast

Theres The Rub
by Conrado de Quiros
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

I will make a fearless forecast: the winner of next year’s elections will be Gilbert Teodoro as president and Ronaldo Puno as vice president.

I am not joking. Or I am joking only in the sense that I am joking when I say we’ve had a non-elected president these last nine years.

Teodoro’s actual chances of winning of course, as everyone has pointed out, are nil. That is an insult to the word “nil.” He cannot even get 1 percent in the surveys. Even if you do not believe in surveys, you have to grant at least that they have a grain of truth in them. That grain becomes an absolute boulder when you trail your rivals by a mile. Is it possible that Teodoro can still peak? Only in the same way that his boss can still become a nun.

It cannot help that his handlers whom he really ought to shoot have persuaded him to sell himself as “Gibo.” A name that openly invites all sorts of puns, not least “giba,” the Tagalog word for “wreck.”

That doesn’t include the fact that he is Arroyo’s anointed, which can sink Noli de Castro himself.

But Teodoro has two things going for him.

The first is Ronaldo Puno.

Take it from Miriam Santiago, he’s the puno’t dulo, the long and short, of pulling rabbits out of ballot boxes. He’s the fellow Miriam openly accuses of cheating her of the 1992 elections via dirty tricks hatched in the camps. I half-suspect Miriam’s railing against the early campaign ads of some candidates is motivated as well by personal reasons—Puno is one of the culprits. I half-suspect the best way to turn Miriam into a giba, or total wreck, or an unguided missile is to whisper “Puno” in her ear. Heaven truly works in mysterious ways.

If the activists are to be believed, Puno began his career in the 1960s by winning the elections held in Naga City for president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines by cheating. He subsequently helped Ferdinand Marcos win the snap elections of 1986 by the same tack. And he subsequently helped Arroyo win in the 2004 elections by the same tack. Miriam, of course, claims he also helped Fidel Ramos win by the same tack, but I’ll just leave them to their debate and God to work his mysterious ways some more.

Puno has the distinction of having served three masters who delivered this country to the, well, dogs are a decent species, as are all the categories of fauna. Let’s just say, who delivered this country to hell: Marcos, Erap and Gloria. He will also have the distinction of having provoked three Edsas, or People Power revolutions that ousted those tyrants. The last if he persists in his folly.

Which brings me to the second thing Teodoro has going for him. That is Smartmatic.

Gustavo Coronel, a Venezuelan, tells us exactly what Smartmatic is:

“The other component of the Venezuelan electoral system that illustrates its prostitution is the voting equipment, bought from a company called Smartmatic, a very mysterious outfit apparently owned by Venezuelans. This company has a very short history since it was created only in 2000. The company was a tiny outfit until an equally small company, also owned by the shareholders of Smartmatic, Bizta Corporation, received an injection of money from the Hugo Chávez regime to develop a voting machine prototype….

“Is it ethical that the Venezuelan government acquires voting machines from a company where they have or had shares? Is it honest that a huge $100-million contract can be awarded without much competition to a newly formed company without previous experience with voting machines? Can Venezuelans reasonably expect that a company having partial government ownership and having close ties with the regime can be impartial and transparent in its management of the machines?

“If the electoral officers cannot be trusted, if the voting machines cannot be trusted, if the electoral registry cannot be trusted, how can we have transparent elections in Venezuela?”

A very good question. Which we ought as well to ask about ourselves. If the Comelec cannot be trusted, if the voting machines cannot be trusted, if the regime itself cannot be trusted, how can we have transparent elections in the Philippines?

So far the criticisms of Smartmatic by the candidates have centered on the physical or visible part—the length of the electoral forms, the distribution of the right forms to the right place, the ability of the machines to transmit accurately the results of the voting. The real nightmare in fact is the software, which is proprietary, or the workings of which are known only to Smartmatic. As the IT people have shown, it’s the easiest thing in the world to imbed errant commands in the software that function like malware. These can be imbedded variously in the BIOS, the motherboard, the operating system, the flash card, or all of the above. Commands that will tick off votes for one candidate to another, which will make Garci look like a veritable saint.

Every time I hear the electoral watchdogs, old and new, calling for vigilance and proposing all sorts of watchers to watch the process closely, I think to myself: Watch what? If the cheating happens inside the machines, what on earth can you watch?

The point is to stop Smartmatic and adopt an open, transparent, inexpensive and automated, electoral count. It is not too late. There are models aplenty for this, chief of them the Open Electoral System, which is all of the above. I know the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Smartmatic. That doesn’t put an end to the protest, it only shifts it from the courts to the streets. It has to be stopped. We don’t do this, and with Puno there, and the Comelec there, and Smartmatic there, I will make a fearless forecast:

Gilbert Teodoro will win as president and Ronaldo Puno as vice president next year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

La Gloria Goes Home Hunting

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

After her junket to Libya a few weeks ago, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went junketing again. This time to Turkey, United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia. I wonder what the heck is going on with La Gloria so I asked my investigative reporter, James Macaquecquec, to call his contacts in those countries. He found out that Gloria had been hunting for a home in a country to go to in exile after she steps down in 2010.

According to James, the Turkish President bluntly told her, “I’m sorry madam but we already have too many turkeys here and I’m afraid we can’t handle another turkey especially one with a large entourage like you.”

In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister told Gloria, “I heard that you are planning to have an ‘enchanted kingdom’ in the country of your exile. I’m sorry madam but I’m afraid we can’t have another queen in our kingdom. We’re happy with the one we have right now.”

In Saudi Arabia, the King was very accommodating. He told Gloria, “You are most welcome here, madam. We’ll provide you and your husband with a magnificent palace in our country. But you have to conform to our laws and traditions. Because you’re a woman, you will be required to wear a ‘burqa’ whenever you’re outside the palace. And for your husband Mike, we’re more than happy to provide him with a harem of 72 virgins.” Mike smiled and said, “Gee, that’s great!” The King cut him out, “On one condition! This will only happen if you become a martyr for Islam.” Mike gasped and fainted.

The Taliban leader in Afghanistan heard about the Saudi King’s proposal and immediately called Gloria, “Madam, you are most welcome to settle here in Afghanistan. We certainly could use your husband here. We offer you one of our best and largest caves in the mountains. The cave next to Osama bin Laden is vacant and you can have it right now. And… don’t worry, we’ll train Mike on how to become a ‘martyr’ for Islam.” “Go to hell!” replied Gloria and hung up.

Disgruntled, Gloria went back home. A few days later, the Chinese President called Gloria, “I heard that you’re not happy with the reception from the countries you visited?” “Yeah, It sucks,” replied Gloria. “Well,” the Chinese leader said, “I can offer you a comfortable home in one of the islands in the Spratly archipelago. What I have in mind is the Mischief Reef which we claim as our territory. Unfortunately, your government is contesting our claim. A good compromise would be for you and your family to move and live there forever. You can be mischievous and do anything you want to do — scuba diving, skinny dipping, etcetera. Nobody will bother you. For your security, we’ll provide you a platoon of Chinese soldiers. We’ll even provide you with an in-house plastic surgeon just in case you’ll have another lea… umm, you know what I mean. How’s that Madam President?” Silence. “Hello… hello! Are you there?” Mike picked up the phone and said, “Gloria just collapsed! What did you tell her?” “Nothing,” the cunning Chinese leader replied and hung up.

News Item: “God save the Philippines from Joseph Estrada!” says Sen. Ping Lacson. But that’s already done in 2001 and look who we got now, Gloria! Would somebody please say, “God save the Philippines from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo”?

It took Noynoy a lot of courage when he entered the presidential race with nothing but a yellow shirt on his back and a fire in his belly. But the other candidates are also on fire. Manny Villar has fire in his pockets which has been burning hundreds of millions for his campaign. Erap Estrada has fire in his heart which endears him to the powerless poor. Chiz Escudero has fire in his head which gives him lots of ideas on how a kid could run the government. And Gibo has fire in his “cojones” which, in spite of his .02% rating, keeps him going against all odds.

And what happened to Bayani Fernando? He still couldn’t figure it out why Gibo beat him for PaLaKa’s nomination? He should have known that La Gloria’s preferences were Noli first, Gibo second, and Bayani… zero. Now, he’s saying that he’s going to bolt PaLaKa! Quo vadis, Bayani?

Who are the other casualties of the Rigodon de Horror? Dick Gordon found out that he’s too chubby to fight like Flash Gordon. Nick Perlas found out that nobody is reading his website on how he will run the government. Fr. Ed Panlilio found out that being a priest is not enough to exorcise corruption out of government. Bro. Eddie Villanueva found out that to win he has to be “numero uno” not just a “miron.” Loren Legarda would find out pretty soon that beauty is not a replacement for brains. Miriam Defensor-Santiago found out that brains is not a substitute for beauty. Jamby Madrigal knew that money can’t buy brains. Jojo Binay found out that he needs charisma to win. Bro. Mike Velarde found out that being Charismatic is not enough to win. Noli De Castro found out that running for president under Gloria’s PaLaKa is a “kiss of death.” JC de los Reyes found out that to run he needs to learn how to walk first. And Erap Estrada will soon find out that at 72 years, all he could do is play domino.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dust begins to settle

by Lito Banayo
from MALAYA

On the 16th day of the 9th month of the Gregorian calendar, which is the 28th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, also known as the “Kwi Ge” or ghost month, Gilbert Teodoro was “chosen” by the PaLaKa Executive Committee as their standard-bearer for 2010.

(For the benefit of those who do not know the significance that the Chinese place on the Kwi Ge, know this: No Chinese family moves to a house, nor a businessman open a store or an office, or ink a major contract or agreement, during the Kwi Ge, when ghosts roam the land. No announcements of major significance, no career changes are made, or bad luck steps in if ghosts attach themselves to house, office or career. And this year, the 7th month began August 20 and ends today, September 18. That’s when the moon cakes are given around, thanking the gods for passing through a dreadful month.

The lapdogs were all there, many of them secretly consorting in small dinner or drinking parlours with the henchmen of Manny Villar, deal struck, but conditions of timing for their “switch” stretchable, depending on how DBM’s purse strings loosen up on the basis of Gabby Claudio’s attendance record. The Nacionalistas, of course, did their own attendance check, and immediately followed up on their “sleepers” inside PaLaKa.

“Akala ko ba may usapan na tayo?”, asks the gatekeeper of the NP purse.
“Boss, alam mo naman, hihintayin ko lang yung last tranche ng DBM, at saka, may pina-follow-up pa akong project…”, answers the “sleeper” congressman sheepishly.

Poor Gilbert. He poses for a picture with his caboodle of trapos, smoke-stained pearlies showing in wide grins, thinking that these un-worthies will give him their “command” votes come May 2010. Maybe. But that’s going to cost him several millions per district. And there’s no delivery guarantee. In Philippine politics, “word of honor” is, to paraphrase Andrew Jackson “worth a pitcher of warm spit”.

No wonder his braintrust, my friend Atty. Nelson Victorino, who was with me in Malacanang in the old days of old Erap, looked sullen. In his honest mind, he knows these hallelujah chorus croak better than they could ever sing.

* * *

Noli knows. Which is why, unlike the hapless Bayani, he did not even bother to attend the PaLaKa “pakulo”. Street-smart, this Noli.

Now, Villar must be upping the “ante”, as he desperately needs a running-mate. Over the week-end, Senadora Pia pleaded with her brother Alan’s political boss, “talagang hindi pwede”. Pia is happy where she is, as senadora competing with La Loren for gowns with the mostest, and business suits that look smarter, certainly better than Jamby’s, or La Miriam’s. The Pulse Asia polls place her at the top three, never going down, and all she has to do is bike, bike, and bike. Jamby has to “burn her kilay” trying to pin down Alan’s boss on the C-5 crime of the century (well, almost, because other land and road deals have yet to see the light of daytime exposure. Yet Pia outdistances Jamby in the polls, as she does Miriam and her motor-mouthed diatribes against whoever takes her fancy.

So Villar is out, shopping once more. If Noli does not bite the bigger and bigger and more luscious “apple pie” Villar is offering, then maybe Jinggoy will bite.

But Noli, apart from being street-smart, also values his “face”. Hindi naman lahat pera-pera, and as a newscaster with his ears on the ground, the quiet life of one who did not “sell” is a consummation much to be desired after an amazing political life of “swerti”.

It ain’t so pretty, but it ain’t so bad, if you appreciate the metaphor of “face” versus “pera”.. Better to retire in a lovely Dasmarinas garden, and sip cognac (no, not Emperador brandy) in a portico-ed lanai every now and then with bosom pals like Ted Failon, or neighbours like Manong Johnny. Surely Joker would supply a bottle of Hennessy XO and bring it from his manse in the same exclusively rich area.

* * *

My friend Bayan, who no matter how controversial he is to guys like Tunying Taberna and Gerry Baja, my friends as well, I have always admired for his grit and determination, now sulks.

A month or so ago, he confided that he has a good chance of getting the “Lakas” nomination. Since I don’t kick people when they are down, especially an admired friend like Bayan, all I could mumble on the phone was “So?”

Ever the loyal Lakas member, he thought that among the PaLaKa, loyalty pays. How naïve of him. Even in exclusive Catholic schools, students pay for the “loyalty medal” after years and years of paying humongous tuition fees. In PaLaKa, there are only two rules that matter — the colour of money, or the order of the Dona, which also translates into money, care of the DBM, its SARO and NCO.

Left out in the cold, rejected by party-mates he thought were gentlemen and gentle ladies who view political party as an institution and not a mere flag of convenience, paper flag at that, Bayan should introspect. He and Marides do not deserve predatory company.

* * *

Gibo is impressive though. In an interview with my good friend Ricky Carandang the night of his “victory”, he stated that the stench of Dona Gloria will wash off, and the anti-Gloria sentiments will wear off as election day nears, when people will be more interested in what’s in it for them and their future (or words to that effect). That’s true, theoretically. But politics is not theory, no matter how many times one reads Machiavelli or Savonarola or even the memoirs of Cardinal Richelieu. Politics is the art of war — Sun Tzu, where no holds are barred, and all weapons are bared.

Is that the reason why Dona Gloria wisely left in the wee hours of the morning, for Istanbul? Maybe the Turks will introduce her to their latest national “treasure”, Sultan Kosen, at 8’1”, the world’s tallest man. And while her PaLaKa were busy stabbing Bayan and nominating her anointed, Gibo back in Manila, she was contemplating the jewels of the Topkapi and the magnificence of Aya Sofya? Was she counting in her mathematically-trained mind if she could afford such digs, and where in this planet she could possibly re-create the sinful luxuries of the Ottoman rulers?

Of course, if she can make her anointed Gibo win, she just might be able to traipse freely in the capitals of Europe and gambol in the cities of Latin America, while her fabuloso esposo soaks in ever-so-familiar Vegas and Vancouver and his favourite city by the bay. As Gibo in Ricky’s show said, “it is time we stop the politics of vengeance.”

Well said, Atty. Gilbert Teodoro. But as you well know, a president must distinguish between justice and vengeance. As an officer of the court, you swore to uphold truth and defend justice, to uphold the laws of the land, and give justice to our long-suffering people.

* * *

The dust begins to settle. The realities of politics are beginning to dawn upon us all. As my Bulakena lola would say, “tumitining na”.

Once more, we will have four major candidates come November 30 — Gibo and Ronnie the Tree for Lakas, or Kampi (choose which, because Comelec and even the Supreme Court may not be able to give legal imprimatur to PaLaKa); Noynoy and Mar (yes Virginia, he has accepted, in pectore) for the LP; Villar and maybe Jinggoy for the Nacionalistas; and Chiz or Loren for the Nationalist People’s Coalition (they were supposed to announce something in a press conference last September 23, but this was postponed while studying the legal implications of the latest SC split decision on an issue of premature campaigning).

Four for the road. It’s actually refreshing to see three young men (Chiz, Gibo and Noynoy) debating with an older man (Villar) who would not talk. And pretty Loren with newly-betrothed Mar tangling with the likes of older Ronnie the Tree and bariatrically re-engineered Jinggoy.

Unless the Dona, after contemplating the treasures of the Topkapi, has other tricks up her sleeves, learned in situ in the capital of Byzantine intrigue during the medieval ages.

E-mail address: (banayo_at@yahoo.com)
Blog: (litobanayo.blogspot.com)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Is ‘martial law’ in the offing?

The rumor that another coup is in the offing is sending jitters in the political community. Is another ‘martial law’ going to be declared and all opposition candidates arrested and detained?
– Perry Diaz

Oplan October Strike
from Filipino News Network

A sinister plan to derail the 2010 elections through the declaration of a transitory government is in the offing, says a top military source to this writer today. The plan, says the source, involves top military officials, a cleric, a high intelligence official and a group which supported previous coup plots in the Aquino and Arroyo governments.

The source, who refused to reveal his real name here, says that major service commanders are being recruited for the fresh plot. The recruiter, a very close aide of a top general, is currently going the military camp rounds and reportedly training a secret commando team of the Arroyos in Subic.

The cleric, a member of the Opus dei (?) and a Jesuit, is the one who crafted a sinister propaganda material meant to convince soldiers to create their destiny in state building. The high intelligence officer is the one involved in secret meetings with other cardinals and bishops while the group referred to here is the one who helped rebel soldiers during the 1988-1990 coup attempts.

Oplan October Strike is a swift surgical operation which aims to “secure the palace and its occupants” from a so-called threat coming from the Ramos group. The government will announce that there is an assasination attempt against Arroyo and a brewing plot to install a revolutionary government, purportedly headed by reformist groups helping Senator Noynoy Aquino. The plan is similar to the Thai model, says the source.

Through the transitory government, Mrs. Arroyo will be declared as the head of state and Commander in Chief. The plot also involves “counter-revolutionary” strikes against known critics of the Arroyo administration and incarceration of so-called “leftists”.

Two days ago, former president Fidel V. Ramos warned the Arroyo administration and PMA class 1978 of venturing into launching a coup just to perpetuate Mrs. Arroyo in power. Ramos says the plot will surely fail because it does not have the support of majority of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gloria goes junketing again!

After junketing to Libya less than a month ago, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo left Wesnesday, September 16, 2009, on a nine-day, three-country junket to Turkey, United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia. It was reported as her 74th travel since becoming president in 2001.

However, as of September 10, 2009, GMA News Research reported:

“From August 2001 to September 2009, Mrs. Arroyo was abroad for 312 days, or about 35 days per year. Since she assumed the presidency, Mrs. Arroyo embarked on 81 foreign trips, which included 111 visits and meetings in 40 countries, cities, and territories, the latest of which was her August 31 travel to Libya this year. This means that on the average, Mrs. Arroyo visited about four countries and made nine trips annually since she became president.

“Mrs. Arroyo’s foreign travels were more frequent than that of former US presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Dwight Eisenhower. “

Meanwhile, SWS released a survey showing that 30% of adults were unemployed during the first half of 2009. — Perry Diaz

President Arroyo off today for travel No. 74

By GENALYN KABILING
September 15, 2009, 6:49pm

President Arroyo will embark on a three-nation swing abroad starting Wednesday as the nation grapples with rising political tension engendered by the coming national and local elections in May 2010.

The President will go on a state visit to Turkey to reinforce diplomatic and economic ties before proceeding to the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

The latest presidential sojourn from September 16 to 24 will be Mrs. Arroyo’s 74th foreign travel since she assumed office in 2001.

Mrs. Arroyo is scheduled to fly out of the country Wednesday, the same day when the administration Lakas- Kampi-CMD party is set to announce its official standard bearer for the 2010 national elections.

Mrs. Arroyo, chairman of Lakas-Kampi-CMD party, is apparently trying to distance herself from the
party’s selection process although it is no secret her consent is sought in all party decisions.

The administration's shortlist has been narrowed down to Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Metro Manila Development Authority man Bayani Fernando as Vice President

Noli de Castro has yet to reveal his political plans for next year. Growing sentiment among party leaders and members showed preference for Teodoro.

Presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio said there will be no anointment by the President of her successor next year. Claudio, the party secretary general, said the party executive committee will make the choice based on a consensus among its members.

Another controversy that the traveling President will miss is the brewing word war between Senator Panfilo Lacson and former President Joseph Estrada. Lacson has broken ties with Estrada and accused him of involvement in illegal numbers game, smuggling, and other criminal activities to harass his political and business enemies. Estrada has denied Lacson’s charges.

In her visit to Turkey, Remonde said the President will lobby for support to the Philippines' bid for an observer status in the influential Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Mrs. Arroyo is scheduled to meet with OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu to solidify the Philippines’ bid and update him on the peace progress in Mindanao.

The President earlier cancelled her visit to New York City where she was supposed to address the UN General Assembly due to conflict in her schedule.

She replaced her US itinerary with a visit to Turkey.

From Turkey, the President will travel to London to deliver a keynote address in the “Emerging Markets Summit” organized by The Economist magazine from September 17 to 18.

Remonde said the President will report the country’s resilient economic growth despite global financial crisis and promote the country as an attractive investment destination. A meeting with the Filipino community in the United Kingdom has also been arranged.

Her visit to Saudi Arabia from Sept. 21 to 23 includes meeting King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to reaffirm close relations between the two countries as well as check the plight of overseas Filipino workers.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar said the President will seek the King’s pardon for some jailed Filipino workers during her visit to the oil-rich kingdom.

Mrs. Arroyo is also expected to grace the official inauguration of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Rabigh, on Sept. 23. She is expected to return to Manila on September 24 or 25.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just a lucky sperm?

by Manuel Buencamino

I want to make democracy work, not just for the rich and well-connected, but for everybody.—Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino


When people began talking about the rebirth of the Edsa spirit and a possible candidacy for Noynoy Aquino, cynics immediately suggested that he was nothing more than a lucky sperm.

Lakas-Kampi stalwart Prospero Pichay said, “Noynoy’s greatest achievement is being the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino.” Palace mouthpieces, a few bishops and anyone who felt threatened by Noynoy’s candidacy echoed Pichay. “He has to be his own man,” they said.

The negative comments got me thinking, the man served three terms in the House before going to the Senate, and he has done nothing?

I decided to do a little research; it’s a lot better than taking the word of cynics, Palace factotums and user-friendly clerics and pundits, none of whom, I’m sure, bothered to look at Noynoy Aquino’s record as a senator.

Here’s what I learned about the senator. He is not a manic legislator who authors hundreds of inconsequential bills a year. He authored nine bills over two years in the Senate.

The bills seem to show that the senator is committed to making democracy work for everyone. Two of them sought to improve the welfare of workers.

Senate Bill 1370 grants “an annual productivity bonus for all workers in the private sector.”

Senate Bill 2036 increases “the penalties for noncompliance of the prescribed increases and adjustments in the wage rates of workers.”

Four of the senator’s bills are aimed at curtailing corruption.

Senate Bill 2160, an amendment to the Government Reform Procurement Act, plugs loopholes that mega scams like the ZTE-NBN project and the CyberEd project slipped through. It’s a vaccine against deadly swine influence.

Senate Bill 2035 is a bill requiring contractors “to handle the regular maintenance and preservation for public infrastructure after the end of the project.” A contractor who skimps on the construction phase of a public infrastructure project eventually pays for it in higher maintenance and repair costs.

Senate Bill 2978 puts “parameters for the selection of PNP provincial directors and city/municipal chief of police for local government units” because personal discretion in law- enforcement matters is the root of corruption.

Senate Bill 1710 bans “the reappointment of a regular member of the Judicial and Bar Council who has already served a full term.”

Two of Noynoy’s bills address the checks and balance on the power of the Executive.

Senate Bill 1719 limits “the reappointment of presidential nominees bypassed by the Commission on Appointments.”

Senate Bill 3121, or the Budget Impoundment Control Act, strengthens the Legislature’s power over how the Executive spends appropriations.

His bill on human rights would make commanders accountable for the actions of their subordinate officers. Senate Bill 2159 “adopts the doctrine of superior responsibility to all actions involving military personnel, members of the Philippine National Police and other civilians involved in law enforcement.”

Noynoy’s nine bills address the welfare of workers, corruption, checks and balances on Executive power, and human rights. That’s not too shabby for a lucky sperm.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Noynoy’s impending landslide win makes rivals whistle a ‘happy tune’

By William M. Esposo
As I Wreck This Chair
The Philippine Star

Ever since Senator Noynoy Aquino became the political star to beat in the 2010 presidential elections, the statements emanating from Malacanang Palace mouthpieces and Noynoy’s other rivals seem to mimic the lyrics of that song. They’re stumbling over one another like the Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges in trying to downplay what they actually fear is a political tsunami rapidly approaching them.

Who are they kidding? Any political watcher will know that these recent events, which started last August 1st when Cory C. Aquino passed away, have drastically transformed the 2010 political landscape. Even staunch administration supporter Alex Magno agrees.

Your Chair Wrecker was confidentially briefed by A-1 sources on separate surveys that were done by the Palace and SWS (privately commissioned) shortly before Noynoy announced that he will run for president. The results show Noynoy far exceeding Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s 38% 1998 landslide victory – with the closest rival not even hitting half of Noynoy’s mark.

On the evening of the day when the Cory wake was transferred from La Salle Greenhills to the Manila Cathedral, one of the top three leading presidential candidates, a Kumpadre and friend of your Chair Wrecker, called and wanted to compare notes on the seeming resurgence of Cory Magic. We agreed that the situation could develop into a game changer.

Yes! The 2010 game changed. And as expected, many of those with a moist eye for the presidency are now attempting to pooh-pooh this Noynoy phenomenon. They’re whistling a happy tune.

The administration is the most pathetic of the lot. They’re desperately trying to tell us that the gigantic wall of water that we see approaching them is merely a ripple and not a political tidal wave. More than the other rivals, the administration is the most vulnerable.

There is the GMA stench to carry. Then, the core group that founded the Lakas-CMD Party has broken away from the forced merger with GMA’s Kampi Party. The administration is not sure if their strongest bet — Vice President Noli de Castro — will join the merged parties and run for president. And even if de Castro did, his poll numbers have been going down – sans the Noynoy factor in the polls.

The administration whistling became even louder as they now tout Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro as their likely standard bearer. Gibo, of course, has two chances of winning – none and nil. It has never happened here that in 8 months a candidate rose from a poll rating of 1% to win a presidential election.

Joe de Venecia had better ratings and more things going for him in 1998 yet Joe bit the dust of Joseph “Erap” Estrada, as we all know. Raul Roco was even topping the early polls for the 2004 elections – until Fernando Poe Jr. entered the race. Raul only placed fourth in that election.

What can Gibo Teodoro do or say between now and Election Day to generate excitement and rise from 1% to winner? Teodoro cannot even get the support of his powerful uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, when ‘charity’ is supposed to begin at home. So, how can we believe that Teodoro has the necessary support base that can make him the 2010 president?

The other administration candidate — Bayani Fernando (BF) of the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) — is in the same fix as Teodoro. BF is also mired in the polls as a 1% candidate. Your Chair Wrecker has been separately approached by two good friends to ask me to consider BF as 2010 president. One is Gary Vazquez of Vazbuilt and the other is Aba Matute, the nephew of Mike Arroyo of “Back off” fame.

Your Chair Wrecker has a high regard for both Gibo Teodoro and BF. They do have positive attributes. However, Gibo and BF just do not muster the public support in order to become the 2010 president.

The only way Gibo or BF can win is for Jesus Christ to come down from Heaven, walk on the water and endorse either of them. That would be a very tall order. From all indications, the Noynoy phenomenon, like the Cory phenomenon, is made in Heaven.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Tale of Two TNTs

Balitang Kutsero
By Perry Diaz

Two Pinoy TNTs — “tago ng tago” (illegal aliens) — in the US were deported. On board CON-AIR on their way to the Philippines, they related their sad stories to each other. Berting asked Roming, “Why were you deported?” “It’s a long story,” replied Roming. “After arriving in California 15 years ago with a tourist visa, I decided to get married so I can get a green card. I married two Pinays to make sure that at least one of them would petition for me.” “So what happened?” asked Berting. “Well, it turned out, both of them were TNTs too,” replied Roming. “Gunggong ka naman pala!” quipped Berting.

“Gago, how about you? Why were you deported?” asked Roming. Berting was quiet. “Come on, tell me,” Roming said. “Well… I jumped ship in California 40 years ago,” Berting said. “So?” Roming asked. “Well… It took me that long to look for someone to marry. Finally I found the right person. After we got married, I applied for naturalization but it was rejected,” Berting said. “Rejected! Why?” Roming asked. Berting hesitated and then said, “Well… I found out that the U.S. government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.” “Talyada!” quipped Roming.

My investigative reporter James Macaquecquec heard from the grapevine that Lilia Pineda is leading in the recount against Gov. Ed Panlilio by 1,000 votes. I am not surprised cuz while Panlilio claims that the Lord Jesus is on his side, Pineda claims that she is married to the Jueteng Lord.

News Item: First Gentleman Mike Arroyo’s affidavit to the Ombudsman says, “I have never taken advantage of my marriage to the President by requesting or receiving any gift or advantage from anyone dealing with the government.” But his son Mikey admitted to using money from campaign donors to buy a beachfront property and businesses in the U.S. Well, like they say, “It’s all relative.” Huh?

News Item: “The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a complaint that sought the disbarment of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago for calling the High Tribunal a ‘Supreme Court of idiots’.” Didn’t someone once call Miriam, “Brenda,” short for “brain damage”? Like they say, “It takes one to know one.”

Noynoy Aquino said that recovery of the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos will be on his agenda should he become president. Too late, Gloria already recovered them. No wonder Imelda Marcos has been using the same pair of shoes for the past four years.

Imelda is encouraging her son, Congressman Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to run for president. She wants to be appointed “Mother of the Barangay” at one peso a year salary. Sounds like a good deal. But what Imelda didn’t say was that she would need a one-billion pesos a year budget for her expense account and also a private executive jet to fly her to all 42,000 barangays. High maintenance talaga si Imelda!

News Item: “Vice President Noli de Castro, one of the frontrunners in surveys of presidential aspirants for the 2010 elections, is no longer on the ‘radar screen’ of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD (PALAKA) in its search for a standard-bearer, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita disclosed yesterday.” Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that Noli is not interested to be Gloria’s anointed candidate? The truth is: Gloria’s “kiss of death” scares Noli to death. I think he’s now more interested in writing his memoirs — “The President I Could Have Been.”

The choice for PALAKA’s standard bearer is now down to Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro and Bayani Fernando. Hmmm… Recent polls show Gibo at 0.2 percent and Bayani at zero percent popularity. And they insisted that they’re still in the race?

Gibo’s problem is how to magically transform 0.2 percent to 25%. According to Pulse Asia, out of 1,800 nationwide respondents, only four mentioned him as their choice for president if elections were held last August. James Macaquecquec heard from the grapevine that Gloria told Gibo not to worry… she’ll call Garci again.

Noynoy’s family is 100% behind him, says his sister, Kris Aquino. But Kris wants Noynoy to remain a bachelor. Hmmm… If Noynoy remains single, then Kris could become the First Lady when Noynoy wins. They’d make an interesting pair — the beauty and the brain.

Noynoy declared his presidential bid on 09/09/09. Many people consider that to be a lucky combination. However, Eddie Villanueva, leader of the Jesus is Lord Movement, remains “unshaken.” But with less than 1% rating, I don’t understand why Eddie is still in the race. The last time he ran for prez in 2004, he placed last among five candidates. Well, this time around, Gibo and Bayani will give him a run for his money… for the last place.

News report says that Gloria’s 81 foreign trips are more frequent that that of US presidents. Gloria must have earned enough “frequent flyer” mileage for a one-way ticket to the Moon. Now, the Pinoys can say that we’re the first to colonize the Moon. No wonder Gloria has been heard singing, “Fly me to the Moon.”

News Item: “Fidel Ramos rejected Lakas-Kampi-CMD chairman emeritus.” Of course! Why would FVR take over a sinking ship? Never underestimate a man in his golden years. He may be forgetful but he’s not stupid.

After two millennia, the Roman Catholic Church has finally stopped the tradition of drinking wine from a cup because of the H1N1 flu. From now on it’s BYOB — bring your own booze! Thanks, swine!

News Item: “The father of Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and vice presidential nominee, says his daughter has been steering clear of the media spotlight in recent weeks to focus on writing her memoirs.” James Macaquecquec heard from the grapevine that Sarah’s book will be titled, “101 Reasons Why I Lost the Vice Presidency.” Number 1 reason is: “I should have run for President instead.”

During Prez Barack Obama’s Healthcare address to Congress, Republican congressman Charles Wilson shouted “You lie!” The following day, Wilson apologized. Too bad. If he didn’t apologize, Obama would have invited him for a round of drinks at the White House.

Obama has been wanting to invite Sen. John McCain for a round of drinks at the White House. But he couldn’t decide whether to serve him Ensure or Metamucil.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Questions for Noynoy

8 September 2009

by Antonio C. Abaya
from Standard Today


In my article of August 18, titled No, no, Noynoy, I posed four questions to Noynoy Aquino as he goes on spiritual retreat with the Pink Sisters, to “discern” whether he should run or not for the presidency in the May 2010 elections.

My sense is that Noynoy had already decided to run when he talked to Mar Roxas two weekends ago, before he left for Davao and Zamboanga for his retreat. That is what Roxas said, that Noynoy had told him at the start of their four meetings, that he had decided to run for president.

So going on a spiritual retreat to “discern” whether to run or not, is just political theatre, a deliberate effort to recapture the Cory Magick in 1986 when she went on her spiritual retreat, also with the Pink Sisters, to “discern” whether or not to run in the snap elections of February 1986.

The four questions I asked of Noynoy in my Aug 18 article were as follows:

Question One: Will President Noynoy mix pro-Communists and anti-Communists in his Cabinet, as his mother Cory Aquino did during her watch? That would be a precursor to endless conflicts within his government, as it was in Cory’s.

This would have some bearing on his presidential decisions as they affect some other key issues, as I will explain in the other questions. It should be kept in mind that two of the loudest drumbeaters for Noynoy were the most virulent critics of his mother Cory Aquino’s Magick during her watch, as Kris Aquino knows only too well, when they were beating the drums for Joma Sison’s Magick.

Question Two. Will President Noynoy release the 14 “consultants” of the National Democratic Front detained by the military, as demanded by the Communists as a pre-condition for the resumption of “peace talks,” as his mother Cory Aquino did Joma and other top-ranking Communists in 1987, which directly led to military coups against her?

Again, how will President Noynoy navigate this mine field, given that his noisiest drumbeater retains his anti-military mindset, even if he has apparently tacitly, though not publicly, admitted that Joma’s Magick was a juvenile delusion?

Question Three. Will President Noynoy exempt the family crown jewel, the Hacienda Luisita, from land reform, as his mother Cory Aquino did during her watch? What would such exemption do to his presumed goal to be seen as the Reformer of Philippine Society.

Question Four. Will President Noynoy refrain from lifting a finger against the Arroyos, as his mother Cory Aquino refrained from lifting a finger against the Marcoses during her watch. Twenty three years later, not a single Marcos heir has gone to jail for his plunder. Can we foresee that 23 years from now, not a single Arroyo heir will have gone to jail for her plunder?

There are additional questions that Noynoy should ponder as he goes on retreat.

Question Five. Will President Noynoy refrain from investigating and prosecuting officials who were/are personally loyal to him, as his mother Cory Aquino did officials who were personally loyal to her?

In 1987, the beauteous mannequin and socialite Conchitina Sevilla-Bernardo ran for vice-mayor of Makati and won. Months into her new job, Conchitina was aghast at the corruption rampant in the Makati municipio (Makati was not yet a city) under Jejomar Binay, and complained about it to President Cory Aquino.

President Aquino is said to have begged off doing anything about it, on the grounds that Binay was a loyal follower and supported her and Ninoy during the dark days under Marcos. Whereupon Conchitina resigned from her position. Would President Noynoy learn anything from this episode, since Binay is one of his backers?

Question Six. Will President Noynoy dilly-dally – or go on retreat again with the Pink Sisters – on the question of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, as his mother did on the question of the US military bases agreement in 1991?

During the debate on the US military bases in 1990-1991, President Aquino pointedly took a neutral position, no doubt torn between the advice of her pro-Communist Cabinet members and their allies in media – including Noynoy’s principal drumbeater – to scrap the bases agreement, and her own instinctively pro-American leanings to extend it.

President Aquino did not take a position until the last few weeks before the Senate vote. She led a march in favor of the bases agreement that pointedly passed in front of the Senate hall (in the old Legislative building on P.Burgos street) and into the Luneta where she spoke before a pro-US bases rally.

But by that time, it was too late. Public opinion had shifted against the US bases, thanks to a virulently anti-American Manila media – including Noynoy’s noisiest drumbeater – and the US bases agreement was scrapped by the Senate. How would President Noynoy and the Pink Sisters handle the VFA?

Question Seven. How will Present Noynoy and the Pink Sisters solve the looming power crisis?. In 1987 his mother Cory Aquino, under pressure from environmentalists and anti-US bases activists (who connected the horror at the US bases’ presumed nuclear weapons with the horror at nuclear energy in general) ordered the mothballing of the completed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

That removed 620 mw from the projected capacity of Napocor’s power generation program. This major slack could have been made up for by the about-to-be completed 300 mw Calaca power plant in Batangas and 300 mw Masinloc power plant in Zambales. But these two power plants were not commissioned by President Cory because of environmentalists’ objections to their use of coal, then as now considered a dirty fuel.

The resulting power shortage resulted in debilitating power outages in Metro Manila and other areas that lasted up to 10 hours everyday in 1991-92, and stunted the country’s GDP to negative 0.6 percent in 1991 and positive 0.3 percent in 1992, causing the closure of hundreds of enterprises and the loss of jobs for hundreds of thousands of workers.

It also forced thousands of private households (including mine) and thousands of offices, shops and factories to buy and operate their own generators during the outages, adding considerably to their overhead expenses and, more importantly, generating more pollution than what the environmentalists had hoped to prevent by blocking Calaca and Masinloc from operating.

There is a lesson to be learned from this and the other episodes, and that lesson is: wishy-washy leadership cannot solve the country’s problems, even if it is blessed by the Pink Sisters, glamorized by genetic lineage, and fortified by Magick.