Sadyang nakapanlulumo ang nangyari sa Kalakhang Maynila at sa mga karatig na lalawigan noong Sabado ng umaga. Isipin na lang natin kung gaano pa kalaki ang naging trahedya kung ito’y nangyari nang gabi imbes na umaga. Sa maraming mga naka-ekspiryensya ng lagim ni Ondoy, pare-parehong namangha sa bilis ng pag-akyat ng tubig-baha. Isipin mo kung nangyari ang ganito habang natutulog ang mga pamilya, lalo na mga batang paslit at matatandang may karamdaman. Pasalamat na lang tayo sa Panginoong Diyos at araw nang mangyari ang pagsalanta ni Ondoy.
Sa ngayon ay pagbibigay ng relief, paglibing sa mga namatay, paglilinis ng mga kabahayan ang siyang inaasikaso ng lahat, para manumbalik maski na papaano sa normal na andar ng buhay. Marami ngang mga kapwa media persons ang nasalanta --- si Rollie Estabillo, si Joy de los Reyes na patnugot ng Malaya, maging ang ating patnugot na si Nick Quijano. Batay sa mga napag-alaman pa natin, sina Nonie Pelayo, Cielo Banal, Delon Porcalla, Weng Salvacion, Kaye Adraneda, at marami pa sigurong mga taga-media ang nakaranas ng lupit ni Ondoy. Sa kanila at sa kanilang mga pamilya, ang ating pakiki-isa sa panahon ng krisis na ito.
Kahapon ay nagngingitngit tayo sa kakulangan ng paghahanda ng pamahalaan, maging sa kakulangan at pagkaka-antala ng kanilang pagtugon sa maraming halos agaw-buhay sa paghihirap noong Sabado at Linggo. Magpahanggang-ngayon nga ay marami pang nadidiskubre na bangkay, at marami pang naghahanap ng mga nawawalang mahal sa buhay. Kahapon lang natin napag-alaman ang lawak ng kalamidad, at sobrang pahirap na nagawa nito. Sadya nga palang hindi kakayanin ng anumang pagkakapaghanda ang tugunan ng sapat ang trahedya. Nguni’t mas maraming naisalba sana kung may medyo sapat na paghahanda.
At matapos ang relief operations, matapos linisin ang mga kabahayan at paligid ng putik at duming kumapit, lalong mapait isipin ang matitinding epekto ng trahedyang dulot ni Ondoy.
Marami sa mga biktima ay may mga pagkaka-utang pang dapat pagbayaran --- sa Pag-ibig, sa mga bangko, sa mga instalments ng kanilang sasakyang nasira, mga appliances at iba pang gamit sa bahay. Masakit ngayon, ang gastos ng pagkukumpuni, ang gastos ng pagbili ng mga bagong kapalit sa mga pangangailangang tulad ng kutson, refrigerator, damit, at iba pa. Malaking gastusin na papasanin ng mga kaawa-awang biktima ni Ondoy.
Maganda nga ang panukala ni Sen. Chiz Escudero na isuspindi na muna ng Pag-ibig, SSS at GSIS ang pagsingil sa mga utang na hinuhulugan ng taong-bayan, at maging ang apela sa mga credit-card companies.
Isipin rin natin ang mga tubigang lumubog sa Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, at iba pang lugar. Ilang ektarya na hitik ng buntis na palay ang ngayon ay nasalanta? At ilang mga gulayan, mga babuyan, poultry, at pala-isdaan ang na-apektuhan? At ano ang magiging epekto nito sa darating na mga buwan, sa presyo at kasapatan ng pagkain?
Ilang mga negosyo ang nasira? Mga internet shops na lumubog, at sira ang lahat ng mga computer, paanong aahon ang mga maliliit na negosyante? Mga tindahang lumubog ang paninda? Mga gawaang lumubog ang mga makina na ngayon ay gugugulan ng malaki para maikumpuni? Mga supply at raw materials na nasira at hindi na maaring pakinabangan?
May kaibigan nga ang anak ko na hindi magkanda-ugaga sa laki ng suliraning idinulot ni Ondoy sa kanyang negosyo. Kararating lamang ng mga inangkat niyang mga gagawing produkto para sa Kapaskuhan, nang lumubog ang kanyang maliit na pabrika na nasa Talayan sa QC. Limas ang lahat ng mga ito, maging ang tinitirhan nilang mag-anak sa ikalawang palapag. Ilan pang mga Pinoy ang nasalanta ng ganito? Sumaisip nga sa akin ang Marikina, kung saan maraming gawaan ng sapatos at pananamit --- paano na sila ngayon.
Tinataya ng NDCC ang dalawang bilyung piso raw na pinsala na dulot ng baha. Sa ating konting pananaw, baka ilang daang bilyon ang tunay na pinsala --- sa mga sirang kagamitan, mga aanihin na napariwara, sa mga trabahong mawawala kung kailan pa naman paparating ang Kapaskuhan, sa mga gastusing dumoble, tumiriple at higit pa, sa mga negosyong naunsyami at mahihirapang makabangon agad-agad.
Sobra-sobra ang trahedyang dulot ni Ondoy, na buwan at taon bago natin mapanumbalik sa normal ang buhay ng mga naging biktima. Maawa ka naman, Panginoong Diyos.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sadyang nakapanlulumo ang nangyari sa Kalakhang Maynila at sa mga karatig na lalawigan noong Sabado ng umaga. Isipin na lang natin kung gaano pa kalaki ang naging trahedya kung ito’y nangyari nang gabi imbes na umaga. Sa maraming mga naka-ekspiryensya ng lagim ni Ondoy, pare-parehong namangha sa bilis ng pag-akyat ng tubig-baha. Isipin mo kung nangyari ang ganito habang natutulog ang mga pamilya, lalo na mga batang paslit at matatandang may karamdaman. Pasalamat na lang tayo sa Panginoong Diyos at araw nang mangyari ang pagsalanta ni Ondoy.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 12:27 PM
Because I write articles three times a week here and twice a week for Abante, my writing chores end on Thursday when I file my Friday article. My weekend really begins Friday and ends Sunday. I normally write my Tuesday column either on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon. This was partly written on Friday afternoon, as I had planned to be out-of-town from Saturday.
A lot of jokes happened over this past weekend. The biggest joke, cruel at that, happened all day Saturday, well past the wee hours of Sunday. For many, even beyond Sunday morning. But that’s for the last part of this article.
* * *
Tony Cuenco, the gentleman from Cebu City’s southern district by the grace of Tommy Osmena’s consistent support until the last election, announced a “survey” he did of his fellows in the lower house. Who is their sentimental favourite for the presidency, asked Tony? Whether he did it by open or secret balloting, or whether he had face-to-face interviews as SWS and Pulse Asia claim of their methodology, Tony does not explain. Sentiments he polled, because if we go by their pocketbooks at the moment, everyone would croak like a PaLaKa.
And what did Tony claim his survey conclude? About a hundred representa-thieves are for Noynoy, claimed Cuenco. Of the other half, Manny Villar comes next, followed by Gibo Teodoro, then Chiz Escudero, and Erap last, his “informal survey” found out. Clearly, Tony’s “impressions”, as he himself puts it, are a joke.
He got the SWS Mega-Manila findings of Noynoy’s 51% and juxtaposes it on his own colleagues. Then he mentions Manny and Chiz, gives a sprinkling for Erap, but decides, like the party “faithful” he claims to be, that Gibo has suddenly jumped from 0.2 to the big leagues. It’s not extrapolation; it’s not arithmetic; it’s just a joke. Tony wants to ride on the Noynoy fever, that’s all.
What surprises is that media gave it due attention. Why, a broadsheet even bannered the story, as if the editors, let alone the writer, do not understand the science of polling. Of course, Tony’s sentiments are likely their sentiments as well. They publish Cuenco’s “impressions” to impress “facts” upon the unsuspecting. Propaganda, not straight news reporting.
* * *
Tony Cuenco himself is torn between his “utang na loob” to the Aquino family, principally the late President Cory, and his “loyalty” (kuno) to the PaLaKa, who has proclaimed another Cojuangco it’s standard-bearer. This looks more like riding on Cory, and riding on Noynoy, than anything else. Tony is no longer hunky-dory with Tommy Osmena, and since this is his last term as congressman, after finishing a previous three-term round, he knows not where to go.
Tell you what, Tony --- why not just retire? It’s been a long time. Haven’t your constituents tired of you anyway? In any case, please stop passing off your jokes as statistical data. Why, even Mitos Magsaysay of Zambales, the province of Jun Ebdane who seems to have tapped Garci to make him “president” next year, claims you forgot to ask her. How could you do that to a lady, Tony?
* * *
But here’s another joke: Silvestre Bello III, cabinet secretary of Dona Gloria, after saying his sentiments are also for Noynoy, now denies it, and says he was misquoted. “Are they doubting my loyalty to the President?”, asks Bello, who hopes to be senator of the realm.
But here’s where the guffaw comes --- “They know that I love the President very much, and we love each other.” (Oh my God! What will El Esposo say about this?”) Then Bello adds, “In the cabinet, we love one another. Even Secretary Romulo (who earlier confessed his sentiments for Noynoy), we still love him”. Ang dami mo namang mahal, Bebot. No wonder my friend from Davao, Luigi Santos, your father-in-law once upon a time, cannot forgive you.
* * *
And the following day, Kiko Pangilinan gets on the act. Even in the Senate, there are administration senators who are jumping ship because they are for Noynoy, the senator who would-be Noynoy’s vice-president (sana!) until Mar Roxas decided to beat him to it, exclaimed. Dadalawampu’t tatlo lang naman kayo diyan, Kiko, bakit hindi mo pa sabihin kung sinu-sino?
At least Cuenco can claim faulty arithmetic, and in his time at college, statistics was not yet a required subject. But Kiko? Twenty-three and you have to keep it a “secret”? Or is it because, like Tony, you’re also into “impressions”?
I recall when boss Jake Macasaet had a TB talk show in 1998. He invited a newly-appointed secretary in Erap’s cabinet? “So tell us your plans for your department”, Jake asked. “Secret!”, the cabinet member coyly answered. Boy, was Jake speechless.
“Secret”, Kiko now talks of closet Noynoy supporters in their Senate. The gentleman from Pampanga, Diliman and Pasay is fast becoming a joke.
* * *
There is a saying --- “amor con amor se paga”. Love is repaid with love. But in this rotten polity, amor se paga con dinero, mucho dinero. And the problem of the congressmen as well as the cabinet members of Bello’s kind is that Noynoy does not have the dinero (yet) with which to repay their “love”.
Noynoy and Chiz probably do not believe that “amor con amor se paga” as far as balimbings are concerned.
Which really means that as far as trapos are concerned, it’s really a run for the money, the mucho dinero of Manny Villar, unless their Dona cracks the barrel of public money to support Gibo, or is it Ebdane? These jokes.
* * *
But the biggest, and most cruel joke --- was really on us. And we heard, saw, felt, experienced it last Saturday. After incessant downpour brought by Ondoy, we realized that government in this benighted land hardly exists.
Oh, it exists in voluble press statements. It’s great when it comes to propaganda, though it uses the queerest and most unintelligible propagandists. Part of their communication strategy, I guess. You know, send in the clowns.
When disaster struck, and everyone needed government’s presence, we all realized there was hardly any. They’ve been playing a joke all these years on us all. Of course the scope of the calamity was overwhelming, but that does not mitigate a most underwhelming response.
Imagine scrambling around for rubber boats, and having a dozen or so, and being paralyzed from morning till night to do anything to save people left to suffer and die and cry on their rooftops? Saksakan ba naman ng mahal yung mga p…i… rubber boats na iyon at naghahagilap tayo kapag kailangan? And to think that just months ago, Gibo Teodoro launched an infomercial touting his NDCC’s disaster preparedness! Remember what T-E-O-D-O-R-O was supposed to mean, as crafted by a most uncreative talent manager turned creative director? Maybe even his principal can no longer recall that corny joke of an infomercial.
In the afternoon of the public ordeal, there were even radio reporters wondering why we could not run to the US of A for those goddamn inflatables with outboard motors. Hey guys, are you so jurassic you thought the military bases were still around? (For those who yet remember, now is the time to wish those f…g bases were still around.)
Flood-prone Marikina could have kept on stockpile a hundred bamboo rafts in their flood-prone barangays, primitive perhaps, but useful nonetheless for neighbourhood streets turned into grand canals. And rubber boats in their riverbanks. But to leave thousands stranded on rooftops well into the wee hours of the following morning unattended, that is rank negligence. In the afternoon when the rains had somewhat abated, where were the presidential choppers and even Hueys to try to help bring those inflatables or whatever else to Marikina, to QC, to Cainta, to all over the benighted metropolis sunk by tons of rain?
And all you got was a joke of a president playing-out crocodilian concern, showing “hands-on” propaganda at five in the afternoon. And a disaster manager who is all talk and hardly any preparedness when actual disaster struck.
Only the navy and the army were around to try with excruciatingly few resources at hand --- to save lives, and too late in the day because the police were hardly visible to do something about a traffic nightmare left to the elements to fester, and frayed nerves to discombobulate. Well into the night, and well into the wee hours, there was hardly even a traffic aide to somehow bring some kind of f…g order in our f…g streets.
* * *
Let the military take over governance in these benighted parts. Yes Virginia, I mean it. Replace this useless civilian government. The junior officers and their men; not some of their fat and fattened generals. These young officers are about the only people left in government with enough sense of duty, with enough discipline, with some patriotism left in their hearts.
Everyone else is campaigning, or stealing, or both.
Jokers, playing jokes on us all, and charging us humongous fees by way of taxes at that --- to watch, listen and experience their god-awful joke called governance.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 12:25 PM
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Even as they have found a champion to bear their colours in next year’s elections, it is clear that PaLaKa, otherwise known as the Lakas-Kampi-CMD “Party”, is heading towards legal shoals that will mean they cannot officially bed with each other.
Lakas founding fathers Fidel Valdez Ramos and Jose de Venecia are questioning the marriage officiated by no less than Dona Gloria at the Manila Hotel some two months back. Ramos rejected the proferred position of Chair Emeritus of PaLaKa, preferring to retain the title only insofar as Lakas-CMD is concerned. Joe de V went to the Comelec to question the political copulation of the “party of thieves” as Teddy Boy Locsin calls it, and the “party of the immoderately greedy” as everyone and his uncle describes Kampi.
Even Sen. Migs Zubiri is in a quandary. There were supposed to be regional consultations, but these were simply done away with because well, the Dona wanted everything rushed. What for, she herself is silent about. In any case, before her, Ronnie Puno and Ed Ermita, Political Adviser Gabby Claudio simply proclaimed PaLaKa, and eased out Migs Zubiri to become himself the secretary-general of the newly “merged” party.
Thereafter, the “anointed”, Gilbert Cojuangco Teodoro, proudly took his oath as the newest member of the PaLaKa. At about the same time, Joe de V was questioning before the Comelec the official persona of PaLaKa.
Claudio finds De Venecia’s petition queer. “We have always been open in discussing matters with them. We talked about the merger for two years and we never received objections from them”, he declared.
The answer ought to be obvious, except that to preserve some façade of unity, especially with FVR, who, aside from being a former president, has some international cachet, PaLaKa cannot “yet” afford to displease him frontally. So Claudio blames JDV, whose disenchantment with Dona Gloria started with some botched particion de bienes in Shenzhen that his son Joey could not stomach. Dona Gloria y sus hijos engineered JDV’s fall from the speakership, so now he is throwing a legal monkey wrench on PaLaKa.
If Comelec agrees with Claudio, Joe de V will go to the Supreme Court. So by November 30, there will yet be no PaLaKa to register candidates with.
But not to worry, Ronnie the Tree, putative vice-president of the republic under Gibo or whoever, says. If they (Comelec) do not bless the marriage, then guess what will remain, he asks with an impish smile. “Nagdilang-anghel ka”, Ronnie told the mediaman who asked the question. “Kampi” of course. And that’s headed by Ronnie the Tree.
But wait! Ed Ermita, who is an original Lakas, probably knows that Kampi will have to be the flag of convenience, but won’t necessarily bow to Ronnie the Tree. Publicly he muses about Ate Vi, her comprovinciano by affinity, the incumbent governor of Batangas, as Gibo’s Vice-president. He, he, he. Two birds with one shot from Ermita’s tirador --- Gov. Vi teams up with Gibo, thereby dislodging poor Ronnie, and Ermita gets his daughter, graduating Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain, to become the new governess of their huge province.
Never mind if Lakas can no longer bed with Kampi. If coitus is interrupted, there’s always onanism. So G-i-b-o, playfully defined as Gloria’s Interest Before Others, will be the presidential candidate of Kampi, and Ronnie his veep. The National Security Team. They might as well draft Jovito Palparan into their senatorial team. If he wins, he would make a “strong” Senate President. And isn’t Hermogenes Esperon running for congressman to represent my friend Conrad Estrella’s district? Best choice for Speaker of the House under the National Security Team. After all, Ate Vi, who would have softened the team somewhat, will not bite.
* * *
But what’s this about another Hermogenes, Ebdane with the “Jun”? This space was first in writing some two months back that he would be the latest addition to the list of presidentialities. Nobody believed me then. Was I joking?
Well, the joke is now upon us. Indeed, Jun Ebdane wants to be president of the benighted land. He is the “Tamang Daan” in 2010, or so his cute print ads proclaim. Now who’s bright idea is this? Is this an FVR play? After all, Ebdane was FVR’s close-in, one whose loyalty is treasured by Tabako.
So under what flag will Ebdane run? Why Lakas, of course --- the disjointed half of PaLaKa. With whose blessings? FVR? Or is this also a Glory-be play, just to discombobulate the political situation eight months before elections?
But what about Joe de V? He has shacked up with Manny Villar long before. He wants the “renegade” Lakas, otherwise known as the ageing “origs” to coalesce with the Nacionalista Party, and lend elder trapo influence to the young trapos of Villar. That should be fun.
One wonders whereof Jun Ebdane dreams. His program? “Sesementuhin ko lahat ng mukha niyo!” His handlers? Why, there’s always Virgilio Garcillano, who resides in Subic most of the time, watching over its customs examiners. Then he periodically sashays into Baungon in Bukidnon, to oversee his farm, and hold conferences with his loyal platoon of Comelec operators.
How will Garci operate the PCOS of Venezuela? Like the “transformer”, he will just mutate himself into a thousand pieces, maybe more, and embed himself in the software, in the memory cards.
* * *
I tell you. All these candidates are just red herrings. There are still some tricks up the Dona’s sleeves. It’s really funny, how the marriage of convenience between Lakas and Kampi is disintegrating even without copulation. Akala mo naman may difference between 0.2 and 1%, between Gibo’s numbers and Ronnie’s in the VP race. Or between 0.2 and zero, which is where Jun Ebdane must be at this point in time. Remove the potential of a thousand or ten thousand Garcis, there’s no way Gibo-Ronnie or Gibo-Vi even, or Jun-Ronnie and even Jun-Vi could possibly win the public’s affection.
Like the bored opera watcher always says, “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”, and in the benighted land, she ain’t so fat, she’s tiny and cute, but she certainly won’t sing, not just yet.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 9:28 PM
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
In the middle of March, 2006, accompanied by a daughter and my then year-old grandson, I flew to the US of A to visit my family. Two of my kids (whose mom is an American citizen by choice) were studying in the West Coast at the time. I had planned on spending three weeks there, planning to drive to my favourite haunts in Carmel and Monterey with the kids, also to Napa, Sonoma and the rest of California wine country. Three weeks of pure relaxation.
I met up with a close friend who had transferred to San Francisco since a year back, and while we were having lunch in a very good Vietnamese restaurant somewhere near the Golden Gate Park, he called up Cezar Mancao, whom we call “Boy”. Cezar and this friend were together in Mindanao during the 2001 senatorial campaign of Panfilo Lacson, the PNP chief who decided in the first week of February, just days before the deadline, that he would run to become a member of the Senate.
Boy asked me to come to Florida. “Pasyalan mo naman kami dito, Sir, makita mo naman ang southern Florida”, said Mancao. The last time I was in Miami and went diving in the Keys was in 1982. Sometime in 1988, with my kids still in grade school and one a toddler even, the whole family flew from Virginia to Orlando, visiting Disneyland and the Epcot Center. It’s been a long time indeed, and in the cold, rainy spring of 2006, a visit to sunny, tropical Florida would be a nice respite.
We took a midnight flight from San Francisco and arrived at Fort Lauderdale at about seven in the morning, Eastern time. Mancao welcomed us, and immediately drove us to the Grand Palms Golf Club and Spa in Pembroke Pines where I was to stay. After leaving our bags, we then went to his house somewhere in Broward County, just about a five-minute drive away. He lived in an exclusive, gated village, and his house, a six-room affair, was nice, with a small swimming pool at the backyard to boot. Apart from his van, there were two other cars in the garage.
His kids and a brother-in-law were around, while wife Maricar, a medical doctor, was on duty at a nearby hospital. As I was staying just for two days, Boy immediately brought us to Miami, some forty minutes or so away. I noticed how much Miami had changed, with so many towering apartment-hotels facing the bay that arched around South Beach. We soaked in the sights and sounds of the place, transferring from one art deco bar to another well into the morning of the following day. Boy Mancao was the perfect host. On the way back, we even had a police escort from Miami to Pembroke Pines. The police escort turned out to be a West Miami police officer from Asingan in Pangasinan, a kabaleyan and former aide of FVR himself who even brought us cups of strong Cuban coffee. Wow! Pinasiklaban pa ako ni Boy Mancao ng police escort complete with wang-wang.
That morning, when he fetched me at the golf club, and over a cup of morning coffee, I asked Mancao in the presence of our common friend about the Dacer-Corbito double murder. (In the campaign of 2001, when Lacson was running for senator, the vehicle of Dacer was found in a ravine somewhere in Indang, Cavite. This was followed by severe propaganda against my candidate, complete with Senate committee hearings called by Joker Arroyo, if memory serves me right. I watched helplessly by as the survey ratings of Ping fell. In the early innings, he was in the top six, and I thought that with his brilliant feats as PNP Chief, where he turned around the negative image of the police institution, that campaign would be a cinch. But with the incessant barrage of negative propaganda fuelled by money from Malacanang and directed by a cabal of Gloria and Mike loyalists, his ratings slipped fast.)
“Ano ba talaga ang kwento nung Dacer-Corbito?”, I asked Cezar in his own dining room. Without any hesitation, his voice composed and his eyes straight at mine, Boy Mancao stated, “Sir, wala kaming kinalaman ni 71 (that’s Ping’s code monicker) doon. Totoong-totoo, sir.”
“E sino?”, I pressed. Boy this time could not answer. No longer did he look me straight in the eye. He was pensive, looked down at the table, and mumbled, “Ewan, sir. Mahirap namang mag-speculate…”
I looked at our friend, whose facial expression told me I should press no further. He changed the subject matter, and we talked about business opportunities in the Florida area. Mancao had been an instant success as real estate businessman. He struck “gold” when in the wake of a a strong hurricane that hit the Gulf, several houses were levelled out. Then a real estate broker, Cezar suddenly saw his business boom. With quick wits, engaging salesmanship and lots of daring, he bought a lot of real estate, repaired and refurbished these, and re-sold at higher prices. He parlayed one successful deal after another. He was active in Fil-Am community affairs, and even wanted me to have dinner with a state congressman whom he had become chummy with. Boy Mancao had hit the big-time, by Fil-Am standards.
As I was rushing back to California the following day, we capped my visit with a relaxed lunch at a veranda fronting the long beach of Fort Lauderdale, a favourite retirement haven, the marina of which was packed full of plush and swanky yachts. Cezar’s wife Maricar and his kids joined us, and together, they brought me back to the airport for an afternoon flight. I arrived home late into the night, when I received a text message from our paper’s Che Francisco about my article. I could only rush an article about my Florida sojourn about midnight, Pacific time. I e-mailed it without a title, such that boss Pocholo Romualdez simply entitled the piece, “Peripatetic writer”, probably because it read like a travelogue.
But since 2007, when the property market soured, Mancao’s fortunes also fell into bad times. And it became worse in 2008. Sometime last year, he himself called me, and with sad voice, said he was into financial difficulties. Meanwhile, Michael Ray Aquino was imprisoned due to alleged collusion with Leandro Aragoncillo’s admitted spying into US government files regarding his motherland, the Philippines. Finally, along with Glenn Dumlao whom I have not had the privilege of personally knowing, an extradition request was filed by the Philippine government for the three, all on account of the Dacer-Corbito murder trial.
Mancao and Dumlao went into solitary confinement, leg-irons and all. It must have been an excruciating ordeal, and I feel bad for them, especially my friend Boy Mancao. His cousins are even our neighbours in Butuan.
Dumlao has spoken his heart out, and it was shown on television. Senator Lacson excerpted some of his statements in his second privilege speech on Erap and his son Jinggoy.
Mancao has testified in court, and is now under cross-examination. One of his lawyers, as irrepressible but much more irresponsible than former DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez, yaks in and out of the courtroom peddling his own scenarios and conjured scripts. I have had my own experiences with this lawyer and one of his hapless clients who should have known better than hire a braggadocio with more air than brains in his cranium.
Aquino is still in a jail in New York (or New Jersey), freed from doing time for the Aragoncillo spy case, but now contesting the extradition request of the Philippine government in connection with the Dacer-Corbito murders.
I feel sympathy for both Ping Lacson, whose career and reputation have been tarnished by the twists and turns of the government’s persecutory handling of the case, instead of assiduously ferreting out the truth, so that justice may finally be done to the Dacer and Corbito families.
I also feel sympathy for President Estrada, who now finds himself stewing in the revelations of Dumlao and Mancao, and the speeches of Lacson.
But, as lawyers have been taught in law school, “fiat justitiae, ruat coeli”. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.
Though the heavens fall.
This government’s Sandiganbayan convicted Joseph Ejercito Estrada for the crime of plunder. This same government pardoned him immediately thereafter, rendering nugatory all the volumes of evidence, documentary and testimonial, that the celebrated trial adduced. Ibaon na lang sa limot, in the hope perhaps that all the political turbulence (with lives lost in Edsa Tres) that convulsed this benighted land for years and years on end, would likewise disappear with political forgiveness.
But bad governance on the part of this regime has covered up for Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s own record of poor governance. Governance that was alright in the full light of day, but became bad in the darkness of night and the wee hours of each morning. Many of us in that government came in with bright hopes, with political capital unmatched since the days of Cory, and ended up disillusioned at the waste of so much goodwill, simply because a weak president could not transcend the habits built through a lifetime of irresponsible hedonism. We agonized through those last days, searching our own souls for our own “reason to believe” any further, any more. Ask Mar Roxas, a decent man who along with many, many more decent persons, served under the Estrada presidency.
Did Joseph Ejercito Estrada order the summary killings of Salvador Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito? And if so, what could have been the motive? Was it “blackmailing him on the BW stock mess”, where he and his friend Dante Tan were accused of insider trading, as Glenn Dumlao stated before a television camera? Was it because Bubby Dacer was found purloining sensitive information from his client Estrada and sharing the same with his friends, FVR and his Joe Almonte? Whatever for? Assuming that indeed, as Dumlao now confesses, the crime was masterminded in the bowels of Malacanang. And assuming further, that Boy Mancao is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.
Because he applied for presidential pardon from a leader whose own record of governance pales in comparison to all predecessors, bar none, and got it, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, sans remorse and sans admission, now wants to inflict his self-proclaimed “visions for the poor” upon the benighted land once more.
Maawa ka naman sa bayan, Erap. Tama na. Ipaubaya mo na sa susunod na saling-lahi. Huwag lang kay Jinggoy.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 10:47 AM
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
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.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 11:02 PM
Friday, September 18, 2009
The week began with startling political news. Noynoy Aquino, who announced his intentions to run for the highest post in the land September 9, has zoomed up spectacularly in the first measurement of popularity done in the month of September.
The surveys, in fact were done in haste (not that haste makes its results suspect). When it was clear in the last days of August that the Liberal Party seemed to be hedging its bets on Mar Roxas, some businessmen wanted to test the so-called public clamor for Noynoy. And the earliest SWS could do a test was the first week-end of September. The territorial scope would also be delimited to what political tacticians call the Mega-Manila area, or more aptly, the Lingayen to Lucena corridor. This vote-rich, urbanized community, whose population is reached almost completely by audio and visual broadcast media, and has access to print media, mostly tabloids, constitutes roughly 40% of the entire voting base of the country. Mindanao and the Visayas put together is about 41-42%. The Bicol Region is about 6 to 7%, the Ilocano-speaking regions 1, 2 and CAR is about 11%, and the Mimaropa island provinces about 2-3%.
Now let me share something about the sampling practices in the country. When a polling outfit tests voter preferences, the limited sample size (1,200 or 1,800 respondents randomly selected) also limits territorial specificity. So, when the research says Visayas is for Villar at one time, and Mar another time, it matters which provinces they polled. For some strange reason, Villar leads over Mar in Iloilo, even if Capiz is just an aswang flight away (joke, joke, joke) and Chiz is a favourite in Waray-speaking provinces. But if Cebu or Bohol are polled, expect Noli to be high, because in these areas, there is high residual popularity for GMA.
But in the instantly-commissioned SWS survey, what was being tested was voter preferences on September 5 and 6, among 1,200 sample respondents, broken down as follows: NCR, 300; Pangasinan, 100, Region 3, 400, and Region 4-A, 400. Given a two-day field research, it is reasonable to assume that not all provinces in Regions 3 and 4-A were sampled. But the fact that results in NCR, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog came out statistically similar, it is also reasonable to assume that the September 5-6 survey was just a snapshot of that period, and cannot be used to project either a trend, least of all a bandwagon.
Now what was happening during that week-end of September 5-6? Mar Roxas withdrew on the evening of September 1, asking Noynoy to champion the standards of the Liberal Party to which they both belong. The media lapped up the “selflessness” the “sacrifice”, and so on and so forth, particularly ABS-CBN, whose owners have a peculiar proximity to Mar and an almost familial affinity with Noynoy. And since it has been established that television is the most important medium for political and other messages, Noynoy’s acceptance, while foregone a conclusion, was milked of all it’s suspenseful theatrics.
Remember too that the death of Tita Cory, and the hundreds of thousands, millions even when you count the nationwide outpouring of grief and affection, created an outpouring of sympathy for her political heirs, Noynoy and Kris. Since Kris is not qualified at 38, the unico hijo, Noynoy, became the cynosure of political affections, most especially in the Mega-Manila area, almost every household in which has television access.
Note also that the survey leaders, also statistically tied in June, by SWS prognostications likewise, are still statistically tied --- Villar, Erap and Chiz. The trio had late June numbers of 21, 19, and 18. Then Tita Cory died August 1, and was buried August 5, an hour-to-hour television fare that enthralled an entire nation in deep sympathy. Then this September 5-6 snapshot, which naturally captured the emotional tug of Tita Cory’s death and all its pathos, upon which was juxtaposed, so fresh into the consciousness of the voter, the events beginning August 21, when Noynoy made “pahiwatig”, the Liberals and quondam support groups making a clamor, climaxed by the evening of September 1, at the Club Filipino, when Mar Roxas showed far more class than anyone in his grand old party. The anticipation over Noynoy’s announcement, already a done deal, was top of mind and deep in the heart of the voting population.
It is reasonable to see that when the field researchers went to work, no real voter discernment had yet taken place, and even those who were undecided, instantly expressed a preference for Ninoy and Cory’s son and political heir.
Thus, the results of the Mega-Manila survey showed Villar at 14, Estrada at 13, and Escudero at 12, all in a statistical tie, or should we say, bind, versus the humongous 50% of Noynoy. NCR gave Noynoy 50%, Central Luzon 49%, Pangasinan 48%, AND Southern Tagalog 51%.
Can it sustain is the question of the day. It will not. The fifty percent will taper down, and even in the next regular SWS round, the field work for which will be this week, or the Pulse Asia testing, the field work for which will be in mid-October, the corrections between instant surge of emotion and a certain level of voter discernment, should be markedly visible.
But in terms of being a quantum boost for the Noynoy campaign, the results of the instant SWS survey will be remarkable. Campaign financing should now flow in. I would be surprised if Noynoy’s war chest hasn’t yet received a couple of hundred million bucks within this week alone.
This should not faze Villar, who has deep pockets, the provenance of which will be a major campaign issue. It may faze Escudero, whose father, while being the agriculture minister of Marcos and then again FVR’s second-half agriculture secretary, did not feather his nest. The young candidate has to rely on contributions from many --- small or big, to fuel his thus far cost-efficient campaign (No ads and little pre-campaign activity, yet tying up with Villar and the omni-present Erap is a feat indeed). If the young man has the grit, he just has to weather Typhoon Noynoy, and pursue his dreams nonetheless.
Another remarkable finding in the instant SWS survey is the present “pull” of a Noynoy presidency vis-à-vis his matched vice-president. Noynoy-Mar scores 51% instant approval, as does a Noynoy-Chiz, at 49%, even a Noynoy-Kiko, considerably diminished at 43%. Clearly, Noynoy pulls, and is impervious to any push, or drag, from whoever his vice-president may be. But, in the rather unlikely scenario that Noynoy is paired with Jinggoy Estrada, the emotional tug is broken by some level of discernment. It slides down to 33% for a Noynoy-Jinggoy tandem, and an Escudero-Legarda goes up several notches to 20, from Escudero’s 12%.
This betrays precisely my thesis and many others, that this may be just a snapshot of voter emotions, and does not indicate how the voter on May 10, 2010, let alone when the Comelec deadline fires on November 30, or the campaign’s starting gun fires on February 8, 2010.
It’s early days. Nobody needs to blink. Not Villar with all his money. Not Escudero with all his derring-do. Not even Gibo, the newly-proclaimed standard bearer of the PaLaKa, who has eight months yet to improve a 0.2% per Pulse Asia’s reading of August, to 30% come May 10 next year, the minimum that I suspect will be required to make itr as the next president of the Philippines.
Come November 30, it will be Gibo for PaLaKa; Villar for the business-as-usual NP’s, both candidates representing the same trapo mold. And for the hopefully new wave of change, depending on how their message is crafted and is resonated, Noynoy and Chiz. Take your pick from among these four.
If there are any others, they are what we may call, “saling-ket”.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 12:12 AM
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.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 12:09 AM
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
One of the unfortunate effects of the death of a genuine party system in our polity is the inability to maintain geographic balance in the selection of our top leaders. While this may seem like the country and its disparate ethnic groups are uniting towards a single center, the reality is that the periphery is drifting farther from the center. Imperial Manila has never been as self-centered, and the peripheral countryside has never been more disaffected.
Since Cory Aquino of Tarlac joined up with Doy Laurel of Batangas, versus the Ilocano Marcos and Manileno Tolentino tandem for the snap elections, geographical balance, always a fixture in our leadership tandems during the two-party dominated political system prior to martial law, has never again returned.
Baler’s Quezon partnered with Cebu’s Osmena during the Commonwealth. Manuel Roxas of Capiz chose Elpidio Quirino of Ilocos Sur when they were elected in 1945 to head the nascent Third Republic. Quirino of Luzon chose Fernando Lopez of Iloilo to be his vice-president, as did Ramon Magsaysay after him with Bohol’s Carlos P. Garcia. The Boholano succeeded the presidency after a plane crash in Cebu snuffed out Magsaysay’s popular presidency. And while the Nacionalista Party chose to balance Garcia with Pepito Laurel of Batangas in the elections of 1957, the latter lost to Diosdado Macapagal of Pampanga. When Macapagal won against a re-electionist Garcia in 1961, he brought with him to the vice-presidency Emmanuel Pelaez, the first Mindanaoan to become the country’s second highest leader. The Macapagal-Gerry Roxas tandem of the Liberals lost to the Nacionalista turncoat, Ferdinand Marcos in 1965, who carried his vice-president, come-backing Fernando Lopez of Iloilo to the vice-presidency. And when Marcos ran for re-election in 1969, he once more partnered with Lopez, whose family soon disengaged with Marcos over business concerns. For the next 14 years, Marcos ruled as singular authority, without a vice-president.
The Cory Constitution ratified in 1987 prescribed, quite foolishly and recklessly, a multi-party system to a presidential form of government. The incongruity has destroyed the political party system, and debased the institution as no more than a flag of convenience formed to fuel personal leadership ambitions. The Unido and Laban coalitions of Cory and Doy transmogrified into splinter parties called the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Lakas, PDP-Laban, Nacionalista, Nationalist People’s Coalition, the resurgent Liberal Party, and even Imelda’s dusted-off Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. Miriam Defensor Santiago hastily organized the People’s Reform Party for her magnificent, though failed run for the presidency in 1992. And then Senator Estrada put up his Partido ng Masang Pilipino, which eventually coalesced when the realities of logistics forced Erap to scale down his political ambitions to become vice-president to Danding Cojuangco in the NPC.
Thus, in 1992, we had Pangasinan’s FVR for president and San Juan, Metro Manila’s Erap as his vice-president. In 1998, Erap won, and so did Pampanga’s Gloria, who ran under Lakas. After usurping Erap’s presidency, Gloria nominated Teofisto Guingona of Guimaras and Butuan as transition vice-president. Soon enough, they drifted apart, and in 2004 when she stood for election, she hand-picked the present Numero Dos, Noli de Castro of Pola in Mindoro.
Luzon has dominated even the Senate. There have been fewer and fewer Mindanaoans and Visayans elected to that “august” club, because regional balance, assured through political party conventions prior to martial law, has become no more than a national popularity contest based upon the tales of the opinion surveys. This, even if Mindanao comprises 22% of the total national vote, and the Visayas 20%. Thus, popularity has substituted for peer evaluation of competence, character, track record and party loyalty. Now we have a surfeit of dolts in the Senate--- popular celebrities, but dolts nonetheless. Legislation has suffered, and the Senate as the hall of the august has become a debauchery of public trust.
As we enter another critical electoral exercise, critical because we are under an incumbent who has survived all kinds of political upheaval by sheer grit and accompanying transactions, we are faced once again with a Luzon-centric choice of leaders and tandems.
Manuel Villar of Las Pinas will partner with Pia Cayetano of Pateros as the Nacionalista tandem. Las Pinas is a stone’s throw away from Pateros, divided from each other only by Taguig and the C-5 road of Villar’s affections. If he fails to convince Pia, who is a shoo-in for re-election as senator, he might try to buy Erap’s endorsement by getting Jinggoy Estrada, also of Metro Manila, as his veep. Jinggoy seems to relish the thought. Bagay sila.
Gilbert Teodoro of Kampi, Dona Gloria’s champion, will likely have Ronnie Puno of Pampanga as his vice-president. Teodoro comes from Tarlac, separated from Puno’s province only by a lahar-silted river spanned by the Bamban bridge. If Puno falls from the race, maybe Teodoro could choose between Leyte’s Martin Romualdez or Surigao’s Prospero Pichay. That would be a laugh, but at least there is geographical balance. Bayani Fernando of Marikina will not, as he keeps saying, accept a vice-presidential slot.
If Erap persists, will Makati’s Jojo Binay run as his vice-president? The Abalos principality of Mandaluyong is all that separates tiny San Juan from ultra-rich Makati. Oh well.
The Liberals have announced a tandem of pedigreed political and economic royals --- Noynoy of Pampango-speaking Tarlac, and Mar Roxas of Ilonggo-speaking Capiz. The last time there was such a tandem, in 1965, the Macapagal-Roxas team lost to Marcos-Lopez. Pampangueno’s and Ilonggo’s do not make a lucky ticket, or so it seems. In any case, I really predict that Mar will not bite, and he will stand for re-election as senator, where he will easily breeze to another Numero Uno spot. So, who will partner with Noynoy? If the Liberals giddily feel that Noynoy will bring their party to victory on the coat-tails of Ninoy and Cory’s memory, then likely, Kiko Pangilinan will be Noynoy’s ka-tiket. That’s an all-Pampango tandem, after a long-running Dona Gloria --- de Pampanga tambien.
If Chiz Escudero of Sorsogon is eventually fielded by the NPC, he will partner with Loren Legarda of Malabon and Antique, Baguio and Laguna, who resides in Makati. Now while Bicol is part of Luzon, it is as politically disaffected from Imperial Manila as the Visayas and Mindanao. In a manner of speaking, Bicol is as peripheral to Metro Manila as Caraga or Waray Visayas is.
As far as demographics are concerned, Escudero represents the most numerous age group --- the physically young beyond being young at heart and in mind. Chiz, who will turn 40 on October 10 this year, could be the country’s youngest president ever, save only for the First Republic’s Emilio Aguinaldo. An Escudero-Legarda tandem will definitely be youthful, and good-looking at that. Though Loren is 48, she looks quite young, and Ma’am, I do not flatter nor pander.
Gibo is still young at 45, even if the “age” of Gloria’s political longevity will certainly bear down on him. His likely veep, Ronnie Puno, is as old as Gloria y su esposo fabuloso, as he is their trusted factotum. Gibo may be physically young, but young at heart and in mind, through no fault of his, he can never credibly pass off. Gibo will represent the sordid past of Gloria’s baggage, while Chiz and Noynoy could represent the future.
Erap is past --- in age, in mind, in heart. At 73, he will be supported by Makati’s twice-graduated mayor, Jojo, who though physically fit, is 66 years old. Now if Jojo does not run as Erap’s VP, and re-joins the “yellow army”, who will Erap partner with? Manong Ernie Maceda? In any case, Erap’s quest is doomed. He should take a hint from the sad plight of the Star Cinema crew which filmed him and Ai-Ai, along with Donya Dionesia Pacquiao in Gen San. They boarded the Aboitiz-owned Superferry 9, which sank off Zamboanga del Norte. One of the Star Cinema photographers died, and his name was Fernando Estrada, nicknamed Ronnie. Ill-fated, star-crossed, that is what his comeback movie has become. Is there a message of sorts?
Noynoy and Mar are about the same age, 50 and 52 respectively by the time they campaign. They do not look as young as Chiz and Loren, but they might be able to present a choice of the future, provided they stop talking in the past tense, as if the only be-all and end-all of their leadership quest is to remember Cory Aquino. But because I suspect that Roxas will not stand for the vice-presidency, then a Noynoy-Kiko team, while farthest from being geographically balanced, will be demographically similar.
Villar at 60 is not too old, and Pia in her early forties presents a good-enough photo opportunity. But Villar represents the bad old politics of transaction and abuse of privilege, and his “young” crew of spokesmen, because he does not know how to speak for himself --- Gilbert and Adel and Alan and whoever else, are all scions of that politics of old. Villar-Jinggoy? Sana nga.
And if you look at the latest Pulse Asia list of likely senatorial winners, again you see geographic imbalance. Estrada, Pia, Jamby, Bong Revilla, Recto, Binay, Dick Gordon, Biazon the son, even 85-year old JPE are all from Luzon. Come-backing Frank Drilon as well as Mar of course, are from Region 6. NPC’s Ace Durano and Tito Sotto, through his paternal ancestry, are from Cebu. Ted Failon, if he runs at all, would be the only Waray. Mindanao will have TG Guingona of Bukidnon, Neric Acosta of the same province, Ompong Plaza of Caraga, and Adel Tamano, the non-Maranao speaking full-blooded Muslim. If Grace Poe and Toots Ople decide to run, and I hope they do, they will also be from Luzon, though Grace’ mother, the graceful Susan Roces, is half-Negrense.
Of course, geographic balance and demographics are not all too significant in a country where the primordial question in 2010 will be --- who among those who would presume to lead us, possess the competence and character to lead us out of the pits of despair to which a full decade of transactional politics and institutional destruction has brought us into? Who could inspire this nation of various tribes to rise above its weaknesses and its aimlessness, and reach for the stars?
The answer will lie in their message of hope, and the trust the people will repose in their ability to deliver on their message of hope.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 1:27 PM
Ang pagbalik ni Erap sa eksenang pulitikal, bilang kandidatong muli sa panguluhan ng bansa, ay matagal nang itinatanghal. Para siyang “re-run” o segunda-manong palabas ng pelikula.
Mula nang ma-convict ng Sandiganbayan sa kasong pandarambong, na kaagad na sinundan ng isang “pardon” o pagpapatawad ni Donya Gloria, nagsimula nang tumakbo ang “Pagbabalik ni Erap”.
Mula rin noong siya ay bigyan ng “pardon” ni Donya Gloria, hindi na ako nakipagkita pa sa kanya, o nakipag-usap sa kanya, liban na lamang sa iilang okasyong sosyal kung saan kamayan lang o kagyat na batian lamang ang nangyari. Matatandaang naging opisyal ako ng pamahalaang Estrada, bilang Philippine Tourism Authority General Manager na may ranggong pangalawang kalihim, at alinsabay pa noon, ay Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, na may ranggong kalihim ng gabinete. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Pangulong Erap sa pambihirang pagkakataong kanyang ibinigay sa akin bilang lingkod-bayan, na may dalawang matataas na posisyon.
Subali’t ako ay nagbitiw sa kanyang pamahalaan noong Nobyembre 3, 2000, matapos ang isang pagtatalo sa Malakanyang noong hapon ng Nobyembre 2, kung saan nagbitiw si noon ay Kalihim Mar Roxas ng DTI. Bago ang okasyong iyon, matagal kaming nag-uusap ni Mar ukol sa aming mga pangamba sa katatagan, at higit sa roon, sa “moral ascendancy” ng aming pangulo. Mahirap kasing magsilbi, o patuloy na magsilbi sa isang taong alam mong may lamat na ang tiwala ng bayan, lalo na at kumbinsido kami na sa isyu ng “jueteng” ay malinaw na sangkot ang pangulo.
Gayunpaman, noong gabi ng Nobyembre 3, matapos na matanggap na ng Malakanyang ang aking liham ng pagbibitiw, nagkaroon ako ng kaba sa dibdib ukol sa magiging kapalit, ang pangalawang pangulo na si Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Nagkausap kami sa telepono noong gabing iyon, at nagkaroon ako ng pangamba na tila kapos sa sinseridad ang pangalawang pangulo na nauna nang nagbitiw sa gabinete ni Erap, bilang kalihim ng DSWD.
Sa pamamagitan ng anak na si JV Ejercito, na ngayon ay alkalde ng San Juan, nag-usap kami ni Pangulong Erap nung sumunod na linggo, para naman maging maayos an gaming paghihiwalay. Sinundan iyon ng isa pang mahabang pag-uusap sa kanyang bahay sa Polk St., North Greenhills, kung saan nangako si Pangulong Erap na malampasan niya lamang ang impeachment, ay sadyang magbabago na siya at maninilbihan ng buong tapat sa bayan. Iwawaksi na raw niya ang tinagurian noong “midnight cabinet”. Dahil nga sa hindi buo ang tiwala ko sa hahalili sa kanya bilang constitutional successor, sinabi kong hindi ako sasama sa hanay ng mga nais siyang pagbitiwin o patalsikin, at imbes ay tutulungan ko siyang makaraos sa krisis. Subali’t hindi ko tinanggap ang kanyang alok na magbalik sa mga pwesto ko sa pamahalaan.
Noong mga taong sumunod, ako’y patuloy na tumutulong sa kanya, maski na noong nasa Veteran’s Hospital siya, at matapos ay sa kanyang bakasyunan sa Tanay, kung saan patuloy ang kanyang sumisilbing “house arrest”. Samantala, sa pamamagitan ng mga emisaryo, nagkaroon ng mga alok ang pamahalaang Arroyo na ako’y sumama sa kanila. Nguni’t tuloy akong nanulat, at tuloy na tumulong, sa pakikibaka ng oposisyon.
Nagkaroon ng lamat ang aming samahan ni Pangulong Erap nung tigas-ulo kong sinamahan si Ping Lacson bilang kandidato sa panguluhan noong 2004, bagama’t kanyang inendorso ang kaibigang si Ronnie Poe, na nahikayat nilang tumakbong pangulo sa paniniwalang tanging siya lamang ang maaring tumalo kay GMA.
Bakit hindi ako nakisama sa malaking agos na tumutulak noon kay FPJ, at bakit pinagmatigasan ko ang suporta kay Ping? (Itutuloy bukas)
Posted by Lito Banayo at 1:26 PM
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
This week or next, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will release its findings and recommendations on the highly anomalous ZTE-NBN deal. We shall all compare that with the Ombudsman’s decision to prosecute only Romulo Neri and Benjamin Abalos, and leave the masterminds scot-free.
Jun Lozada, the reluctant witness forced by circumstances to reveal what he knew about the deal that was negotiated in the golf links of Wack-Wack and Shenzhen and forged in Hainan in the wee hours of the morning, like “a thief in the night”, does not believe Gordon’s tale will be the truth, nor will it seek the whole truth and nothing but…
Put on the hot seat along with Joey de Venecia the original whistleblower of the sordid deal last week, by the senator from Olongapo, Pampanga, Marikina and the distant US of A in the final hearing called to “summarize” and erase whatever cobwebs of doubt there were in Gordon’s mind, Jun Lozada has come to the conclusion that the Blue Ribbon report will not be in aid of ferreting out that truth.
And so, Lozada has come out with ten questions for the public to think about, and hopefully insist on the truth, and nothing but…
First, “If not because of GMA and FG, why would the Office of the Executive Secretary order DENR Secretary Lito Atienza to make me leave (in the last days of January, 2008)?”
Second, “If not because of GMA and FG, why would the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and (NAIA Assistant GM) Angel Atutubo abduct me at the airport?”
Third, “If not because of GMA and FG, why would DENR Secretary Atienza phone me and tell me therein that he would first speak to Ma’am and ES (clearly GMA is Ma’am and ES is Ermita)?”
Fourth, “If not because of GMA and FG, why would Bureau of Immigration records state to this day that I have NOT yet returned to the Philippines?” (Because Lozada was quickly spirited out of the airport into the waiting vehicles of the PSG, his passport was never stamped with an entry stamp; it never passed the BID counter).
Fifth, “if not because of GMA and FG, why would former PNP Chief Avelino Razon (who hopes to be the next mayor of poor Manila, btw), say that he did not know where I was, when (in truth and in fact), the police already had me in their custody (inside the DLSU Greenhills compound) for two days?”
Sixth, “if not because of GMA and FG, why would Mike Defensor come to tell me that “I was already hurting Ma’am” (Dona Gloria, who else)?
Seventh, “if not because of GMA and FG, why would (then Deputy Executive Secretary) Manny Gaite send me half a million pesos?” (Manny Gaite is now an Associate Commissioner of the powerful Securities and Exchange Commission, and has been promised a seat as associate justice of the highest tribunal before his Dona exits, if she ever will).
Eighth, “if not because of GMA and FG, why would I be asked to fax my letter to the office of (Presidential Assistant for Special Concerns) Medy Poblador?” (As every cabinet member except ES Ermita will privately admit, Poblador, the relative of Cardinal Rosales of Manila, is now THE most powerful factotum in the stinking palace beside the stinking river).
Ninth, “if not because of GMA and FG, why would it be necessary to give (Former NEDA Director General and now SSS President) Romulo Neri executive privilege that was upheld even by the Supreme Court?” (To ensure he keeps his silence in future Senate hearings of any kind, Neri retains cabinet rank, even if the SSS is a privately-funded government fiduciary.)
And tenth, “if not because of GMA and FG, why have numerous cases been filed against me, while the one case I filed against them over a year ago is still under preliminary investigation?”
We should all continue to demand for answers to Mr. Lozada’s questions. As
we should persist in finding out the truth about several other issues that have yet to see closure.
Hello Garci. The case of the overpriced and fake bottled fertilizers peddled to missing beneficiaries by one Joc-Joc Bolante, soon to be “governor” of the Roxas principality called Capiz, unless sense gets the better of Mar’s comprovincianos.
Of more recent vintage, who really paid for the haute cuisine dinner at Le Cirque, and the pig-out steak dinner at Bobby Van’s, or Wolfgang’s, or David Bouly? And where did Mikey and his Angela really get the money to buy a Beach Drive mansion in the US of A? And Dato his condominium unit at pricey Gramercy upon Nob Hill in San Francisco by the bay?
Oh, and who really ordered the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, despite full security component at the international airport? Cory had died forty days ago, and now his son Noynoy seeks to be president of the benighted land, and yet, to this very day, we do not know who masterminded the dastardly deed.
And how many billions, really, did Marcos purloin, and can we ever, ever, get that back for the suffering millions of our poor people? How many billions have succeeding presidents made during their term of office? The previous president for instance, has been convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan, and then instantly pardoned by the successor who usurped his office. Did we ever find the truth? Do we even care to seek the truth?
Truth, our faith and everyone else tells us, “shall set us free”.
We are not free of the bondage of poverty and hopelessness. We are not free of the hobgoblins of our past. We are not free from injustice because justice is paid for, or afraid to know and confront the truth. We are not free from the shackles of feudalism; we have just foolishly labelled it democracy.
We are not free because we do not care about the truth.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 11:44 AM
Monday, September 7, 2009
It’s early days yet. Many things could and would happen, even after the early withdrawal of Mar Roxas and his endorsement of Noynoy Aquino as the standard-bearer of their Liberal Party in the forthcoming presidential elections.
Their party has announced a Noynoy-Mar tandem, even if formally, Aquino has yet to declare. This has become standard operating procedure in Philippine politics. Candidates play jele-jele bago quiere, the pidgin Hispa-noy translation for playing coy. “Aayaw-ayaw pero kiliting-kiliti”, my yaya, Ate Elisa used to say. In the case of Noynoy, it’s beyond kiliti. Sadyang gusto.
In the case of Mar, it’s relief. Now he has time to smell the flowers and take care of his private life. At least until he goes for Number Two. To accept the LP draft, Mar is likely to first wait at who the possible competition will be. He can after all run for re-election as senator, and easily come out first among twelve.
Noy, child of destiny his supporters hope to make him, will have little time even for the love of his life, Councilwoman Shalani Soledad of Valenzuela, who used to be a youth volunteer of Ping Lacson, later a member of his Senate staff.
Young Chiz Escudero, one of the three or four topnotchers in presidential surveys, is a shoo-in for vice-president if elections were held today. His former buddies in the lower House kept whispering that it would be a Villar-Chiz tandem, and their camp asked SWS to do a rider question on tandems. The June voters, still mesmerized and ga-ga over Villar’s airtime blitz, gave the tandem its highest approval.
But Escudero turned the tables on C-5 at Taga. He declared with severe finality that he would not “in conscience” join somebody who does not personify the good governance that he advocates. Ouch! Tinaga si Mr. Itik! Ah, the determination of the youth, attaboy! Mumbling that Chiz was just being “immature”, the duet of Gilbert and Adel could only dourly state, “kung ayaw mo, huwag mo”. He, he, he, na-semplang kayo.
Meanwhile, Ping Lacson fired a shot into the bow of an Erap redux sailboat. The former president, chanting the need for unity, kept threatening to run if the rest of the opposition would not unite behind a single candidate. “Uniting” meant giving way to him, as if he was some kind of political demi-god. I remember Lacson sometime in 2002 describing Erap as some kind of a “spiritual” leader for the opposition. I cringed in utter discomfort, lest people look at me as I was his spokesperson then, and later Ping admitted wrong choice of words.
“Why don’t you be the first to withdraw?”, Ping asked his former boss. And Erap (or Erap’s spokesperson) was livid, “How dare you lecture the former president, you who wouldn’t give in to Erap’s choice of FPJ in 2004?” So now Lacson says he will deliver a privilege speech in the Senate, and let the chips fall where they may.
Amidst all this excitement within the opposition, there is little the acolytes of Dona Gloria could say or do. They have a “reluctant” candidate in Vice-President Noli, who has kept them guessing all these months. The eager-beavers, Bayani and Gibo, wait in the wings. Gibo even struts proudly with an ID tag proclaiming his admiration for his Dona, never mind if he is perceived as “tuta” even by the soldiers. BF of course admires only his own dogged determination.
In the last Pulse Asia Ulat of late July and early August, Gibo garnered 4 votes out of 1,800 respondents. Bayani had 18. And Noli got 16% or 288 votes. That should be enough to daunt any level-headed person, but since Noli was still playing coy (maybe because no financial figures had been assured), the palace gets 49 governors to declare for Gibo. That’s 61% of all the provincial CEO’s in the land. Noli only has 16% of the sample voters polled. He, he, he. Gibo’s spirits soar, thinking perhaps that these Janus-faced governors could deliver the votes of their constituents. One of them, a lady friend of mine, used to be for Mar, and also Chiz, and now likely also for Noynoy. But Gibo at 0.02%, wow!
November 30 fast approaches. As of today, that’s only 82 days away. Unless automation is stopped by the Supreme Court, that’s when every candidate for every post will file.
And come November 30, 2009, there will be the following candidates (Pollyanna’s and nuisance candidates not included):
Because his numbers are high, thanks to the billions he had spent, Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party will definitely run. His vice-president? Maybe Kiko Pangilinan. The Wednesday “nationalists”.
Noli de Castro might bite into the GMA apple, provided he is assured the “juices” haven’t dried up. Gilbert is the PaLaKa fallback, not Bayani. If Noli does not bite into the poisoned tree, then it has to be Gibo. All he needs is to garner 10%, they assure him, because Gabby Claudio assures that the humongous party machinery can deliver, by “command”, another 15%. Vamos a ver. FVR won in 1992 as Cory’s anointed, by getting a mere 23.4% of the total. But aside from the ARMM, where governors who likewise read the surveys are susceptible to change their minds at the last minute, no other place in this benighted land can give a command performance. Certainly not by command of a hated lame duck president. Noli might take Gibo as his veep. But Noli will not run for veep at all, so Gibo, if he is chosen by his Dona, may have to take in Dick Gordon, or BF, or maybe Speaker Nograles. Why not Martin Romualdez? That should be a “circus”, in French at that.
Erap will file his certificate of candidacy on November 30. I cannot predict who his vice-presidential candidate will be. If he is disqualified, his party cannot nominate a substitute candidate, not even his veep. Jojo Binay would rather run as vice-president to another, his protestations of loyalty to Estrada notwithstanding. Believe me.
Now, if midway through the campaign, Erap’s numbers are not as re-assuring of victory as they were in 1998, and if his lawyers advise him that the high tribunal will not likely give his political double-take its benediction, the former president is bound to withdraw, and endorse the one candidate with whom he feels a greater level of affinity with (whether the candidate’s or the party he belongs to). His endorsement value might work with voters of the E income level. And when he withdraws, his vice-president cannot substitute.
Chiz Escudero, I predict (it’s really a no-brainer) will be the candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition. If Loren Legarda agrees to slide down to the vice-presidency, it will be a Chiz-Loren tandem, pretty strong from where we sit. But if Loren eschews another run for the second post, Chiz could pair with Ping Lacson or Jojo Binay. Still pretty strong.
Will Chiz not prefer to run for vice-president, where, analysts say his numbers are assured? His party, the NPC, seems determined to run a full slate this time. And Chiz is quite an adventurous character, with a prodigious gift for communication none of the other candidates could better.
And now comes Noynoy. The concept of pedigree, his and Mar’s, sounds nice to the elite, but in a tough campaign, pedigree holds little water, and could even be turned into a liability among the “masa”. “Sila lang ba ang bukod-tanging anak ng Diyos?”, I could almost hear the other candidates, or their spokespersons, appeal to the D and E, who altogether comprise 85-90% of the electorate. But the Liberal Party has already chosen their tandem, and so to the hustings will these sons of the political elite march.
My not so fearless forecast?
Come the starting gate, there will be five: Villar and whoever else GMA anoints --- that’s two for one side. Arrayed against them will be Erap, Chiz and Noynoy, for the opposition side.
When Erap withdraws, there will be four down to the finish line. Chiz and Noynoy for the forces of reform; Villar and whoever GMA anoints for the forces of business-as-usual. Mar, in his withdrawal speech, calls this the “fight between Good and Evil”.
* * *
In our Thursday article last week where we analyzed Mar’s retreat, we wrote that the “Black and White movement, along with a few columnists, turned up the heat on a still grieving family…(such that) Noynoy felt like a challenge was upon him, and there was a legacy of leadership the burden of which he had to face”.
Ging Deles, also my colleague at the FSGO, and Leah Navarro told me this wasn’t so. In fairness, they did not weigh in for either Mar or Noynoy. They told me that they just left the two to talk and decide things for themselves. Just as the rest of the Liberal Party stalwarts aver. They were all too stunned at the sudden course of things.
* * *
So in the end, who will make it to become the 15th president of the benighted land? It’s early days. These are not yet “fearless” forecasts.
But let me be clear. I will never go for business-as-usual. No matter how marginal change may be under a polity so corrupted and a society so diseased, there should be some light at the end of the benighted tunnel if we as a people choose between two who are credible enough when they call themselves the agents of reform.
It’s not a consummation we would highly desire, preferring revolutionary reform in its stead, but with a people so patient, so persevering, so unwilling to undertake risks and so afraid to cut the Gordian knot, we just may have to plod along.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 2:41 PM
Thursday, September 3, 2009
What is this?
The morning after Mar Roxas’ beau geste, in simple eloquence delivered at a Club Filipino press conference, traditional politicians hoping to sit beside their new driver Noynoy in his jeep to Malacanang start falling all over, acting like they were the progenitors of the sacrifice, offering their own picayune and irrelevant ambitions as me-too willingness to abstain, and forthwith surrounding the “man of the hour” as if they were bodyguards on his Senate payroll.
Which naturally riled the sensibilities of Mar’s friends, including his fiancée Korina Sanchez, who could not control her angst against some people, journalists as well as trapos, who pushed Noynoy at the expense of Mar.
Another friend of Mar who happens to be my friend likewise told me that Noy confessed to Mar that he could no longer say no to the draft (which overwhelmed Mar as a political tsunami). Mar just took Noynoy’s word; Cory’s son wanted it, and he gave in. Thus did this common friend of ours explain away what I wrote about yesterday as “too soon the retreat”.
There were no hidden strategies, no one step backward, two steps forward cunning, just noblesse oblige, not a surrender, not cutting investment losses, but pure sacrifice. Well, as a friend I would give Mar the benefit of the doubt.
Just as Ping Lacson said in an ambush interview also the day after, where after stating that “internal yan sa partido nila (the Liberal Party), their fellow senator lauded both Mar and Noynoy, as men who “at least sigurado tayo hindi mangungurakot” (they are not thieves). On whether Mar decided all too soon, while Noynoy could not decide with finality as yet, Lacson again said “that’s internal within their party and between them”, while wondering aloud if this was “part of a strategic plan because after it happened, magaganda ang reviews na nakuha ni Mar…’di natin alam…abangan ang kahihinatnan.”
It is the same comment I heard from other politicians and political tacticians, even from the provinces. They probably could not accept Mar’s beau geste as less than pre-meditated, and view Noynoy’s coyness as political theatre. Indeed, by prolonging the suspense, Noynoy is able to buy time to test the waters (he is in Davao today to “feel the pulse”, hosted by long-time Cory supporter, businessman Chito Ayala) and see if those who profess faith in his genes could put their money where their mouth is. For truly, an enterprise as grand as the quest for the presidency cannot be won by mere yellow shirts and Laban hand signs. Noynoy and the family would be foolhardy to invest Ninoy and Cory’s legacy to the perilous shoals of political combat without at least assurance of a good fight.
Politics after all, is war. And war is not won by saliva or printer’s ink, or mere beau geste’s; it is won by bullets and petrol and other war materiel. And the right strategic directions.
Which brings me now to Mar’s eloquent heart-tug last Tuesday, the first of September, in the “ghost month” of the lunar calendar of the present year. “Noy has made it clear to me that he wants to carry the torch of leadership. The parting of our beloved President Cory has reawakened a passion among us”, Roxas said. And then he adds, as in a call to arms, “I see this as fuel to bring us to the realization of our dreams: Good will win over evil”.
Noynoy is fuel, as in the flame of a torch? Who shall bear the torch then? The Liberal Party, it would seem, because both he and Noy are Liberals.
And when he says Good versus Evil, pray tell us, who are good and who are evil? Is Villar “evil”? I agree, decidedly so, what after the full details of C-5 at Taga, the Bangko Sentral-Norzagaray heists, and other skeletons are viewed in all its naked gore. Are Noli or Gibo, or whoever shall bear the standards of Dona Gloria, to be categorized as “evil”? Is Erap “evil” too? Are Chiz and Jojo and Loren and BF, even Grace Padaca, all “evil”? Specify, Mar. Only the Liberal Party is pure and immaculate? Breathtaking!
I was reminded of “values” versus “desires” when in a research briefing, my advocacies against graft and corruption were rudely dashed by the survey findings that the electorate out there no longer view corruption as a major issue (only 7% listed it as number one in their issue priority scale) while the overwhelming majority consider high prices and joblessness, “la political del estomago” as THE issue. The even sadder reality, based on FGD’s I have seen all over the land, for candidates local as well as national, is that the voter market seems to have succumbed with utter resignation to the gut question of “what’s in it for me?” as in never mind if these are crumbs from graft, provided “naaambunan ako”. What a country! But then again, that is the market reality. No wonder the Eraps and the Villars and the Nolis find resonance more than the decent guys like Mar and Noy and Ping and Chiz. But of course, these are early days.
Noynoy, wisely, will not be rushed. Whether this is scripted theatre or reality check, or both, he bides his time before categorical declaration is made. Like his mother Cory, he will seek the counsel of prayer. Yes, he feels, but wait…this is not just a matter of feelings.
What I do find queer is how otherwise highly educated and intelligent people rush with their hearts and throw their minds to the wind, even as the fate of the nation hangs in the balance. And what I find unable to accept is that in this day and age, in what is supposed to be an era of democratic ideals and beliefs, we find many and their mothers beguiled by the crap that genes ought to be the basis of choice. As in the resurrection of the foolish “divine right of kings”.
I am reminded of a running television ad that says, “kapag maganda ang puno, maganda ang bunga”. It’s been on the airwaves for a month or more, and the frequency is second only to Manny Villar’s cono-cono and trapo-tropa tomfoolery, and the net result is a rating improvement to one solid percentage point. At least that’s better than 0.2%, which is what the vice-presidential candidate’s presidential partner got. But hey, naniniwala pa ba tayo sa mga pamana , and do we still acknowledge bloodline as determinant of character?
This is of course not to question Noynoy’s character, as it is decidedly better than most of us, but the fate of a nation cannot be a matter of genes, as well Noynoy and Mar ought to know themselves.
As a respected pollster intimated to me last Wednesday, “will it sustain”? The same question probably bugs Noynoy, except that Mar saw it as political tsunami, his heart over his mind. And Mar is perceived by the “masa” out there as all mind and little heart, padyak and palengke ads notwithstanding. Even as they are fooled by the “maawain” and “matulungin” perceptions that currently favour the Erap’s and Villar’s of this benighted country.
I have received a deluge of reactions to Mar’s sacrifice, and it’s really not tsunami force, not even a gale force as yet. Here is one: “I think prodding Noynoy to run on the hopes of recapturing the "yellow magic" sparked since his mother's death smacks of the very kind of political bane we all would want to change in this country.” The reader twits me thus, “I think you are under-estimating Mar and over-estimating Noynoy too much” (not me, maybe Conrad de Q, Korina’s object of angst)…”Mar has a lot better record as a legislator than Noynoy” (I don’t want to get into that debate yet). Another wrote: “Noynoy doesn’t even seem to get his political footing right. No disrespect, but we are way past religious and spiritual discernment. With the gargantuan and seemingly insurmountable problems the country face…vacillation would be a luxury we cannot afford”.
Even Erap, the man who cannot seem to find any vindication except if he gets back the presidency he foolishly lost, says other presidentiables should follow Mar’s nobility, and follow suit, for the rather ignoble end of perhaps getting him back into Malacanang. He wants others to withdraw, and then he will follow suit. And he wants to be a “leader”…and he wants to be the “unifying” leader. Oh well, as I have kept repeating in this space, all that is crap. Erap will run, and he wants everyone to give way to him. That is his concept of “uniting” the opposition. That is, if the Supreme Court, which is not opposition, will allow him to.
My friend Tony Abaya wrote that in a recent Strictly Politics talk show where he failed to attend, he would have asked Noynoy to “list down his legislative accomplishments” for the nine years that he was in the lower House and the two years he has been senator. And then Tony asks, “Why are some people stumbling over each other in pushing him to run for president?”
A bit irreverently by the lights of the “yellow guards”, Abaya asks, “Are we back to the Dark Ages in medieval Europe when ignorant peasants were dazzled by Magick and were stampeded to Trust in Unseen Forces by equally ignorant monks as the Masters of our Fate and the Shapers of our Destiny?”
For this writer, what I cannot countenance is that 23 years and four presidents since Marcos flew to Hawaii, it seems many still want to paint this benighted land by the distinct colours of yellow versus red, white and blue.
As 60’s music icon Joan Baez lamented in a song, “When will we ever learn? When will we e---e---ever learn?”
Posted by Lito Banayo at 6:04 PM
In politics, a lot of things can happen in so short a period. The denouement that took place Tuesday evening at the Club Filipino was not entirely unexpected. It just happened too soon.
When the crowds swelled at the wake and funeral of President Corazon Aquino, the political observer may have had time to wonder what effect the outpouring would have on the political fortunes of the Liberal Party. While Cory was not a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party, Ninoy was. In fact, had martial law not rudely intervened, it was widely believed that Ninoy Aquino would have carried its colours to political victory as the seventh president of the Republic, the eleventh since political independence was declared at Kawit. It could in fact have been an Aquino-Roxas tandem, with Gerardo Roxas, the gentleman-senator from Capiz, running as Ninoy’s vice-president.
But something estranged the Aquinos from the party in 1978. Ninoy was on his sixth year in prison when dictator Marcos called for elections to convene an Interim Batasang Pambansa. He wanted to participate, not necessarily to win, but to show defiance, and to communicate the issues that burned in his heart while under incarceration. The party elders, led by Jovito Salonga, Ninoy’s colleague in the Senate, would not allow it. “Why dignify Marcos by participating in sham elections?”, they asked. Thus did the imprisoned Ninoy and his followers outside give birth to Laban. And thus did the Liberal Party continue to hibernate, later to fragment into a Salonga wing and an Eva Estrada Kalaw wing. Salonga never participated in elections during the long night of martial law; Kalaw, Ninoy’s cousin, was also his political stand-in, who kept the party alive by participating in electoral exercises.
To be sure, Ninoy was not a Liberal at birth. His father, Don Benigno, the fiery orator and statesman from Tarlac, was a Nacionalista, the closest political ally of Jose P. Laurel, president of the short-lived wartime “republic” under the aegis of Japan’s Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Together with Laurel, Don Benigno was vilified as a “collaborator” in the aftermath of America’s victory over the Axis power in Asia. Meanwhile, the political hegemony that began with Manuel Luis Quezon and Sergio Osmena Sr. was sundered by the founding of the Liberal Party taken from the rib of the Nacionalista Party. Manuel Acuna Roxas, together with Jose Avelino of Samar, Elpidio Quirino of the Ilocos, Eugenio Perez of Pangasinan and Hermenegildo Atienza Sr. of Manila were the founders of the party that eventually defeated Osmena of Cebu, successor to Commonwealth president Quezon who died in Saranac Lake, New York, while waiting for Douglas MacArthur to liberate the country from the Japanese invaders. Don Benigno Aquino, along with Jose P. Laurel, were then in prison, temporarily disgraced by charges of living with the enemy in the night of the occupation, their defense being that they made the best of a life-and-death situation where Filipino lives were on the dock while America suffered defeat. Both were staunch Nacionalistas.
Fast-forward to the fifties, when Ramon Magsaysay, the defense secretary of Liberal Quirino, took his oath as a Nacionalista and proceeded to trounce his erstwhile benefactor in the presidential polls of 1953. The political fortunes of the Laurel and Aquino clans were thus resurrected, and young Benigno Simeon Aquino Jr., Ninoy to us all, became mayor of the Pampango town of Concepcion In Tarlac. He was Monching Magsaysay’s political l’enfant merveilleuse, a young man in a hurry. When Carlos P. Garcia succeeded Magsaysay after the crash at Mt. Manunggal in Cebu, the political ascent of the young Aquino heightened. He became the youngest governor in the entire country, of a premiere province at that. But then, Garcia lost to his vice-president in 1961, and Macapagal of Lubao in Pampanga, could not abide having a Pampango Nacionalista as governor right beside his native province. Applying intense pressure upon Ninoy and his father-in-law, Diosdado Macapagal got the youngest governor to turn coat and swear into his Liberal Party. Thus did Ninoy, later to become the country’s youngest senator ever, become a Liberal, in the same party as Ferdinand Marcos who in 1964 was soon to become a Nacionalista turncoat, and trounced Macapagal in 1965.
Follow the few surnames I mentioned in this article. Gloria is Diosdado’s daughter by Dra. Eva Macaraeg of Binalonan, Pangasinan, my mother’s classmate at the UST College of Medicine. Noynoy is Ninoy and Cory’s son, grandson of Speaker Benigno Aquino Sr. Mar is the grandson of Manuel A. Roxas, founding father of the Liberal Party and the first president of the Third Republic. Jose P. Laurel, president of the Second Republic, was the father of Cory’s vice-president, Salvador “Doy” Laurel. Current DENR Secretary Lito Atienza and Liberal Party nemesis of Mar Roxas, is the nephew of Hermenegildo, former mayor of the city who co-founded the party along with Mar’s grandfather. Why, even Joey de Venecia, the stinking ZTE-NBN deal’s original whistleblower, is the grandson of the Liberal Speaker of the House, Eugenio Perez of Pangasinan. Note too how our elders switched parties even when we only had two, and weep at how easy this has become now that we have a multiplicity of parties.
It’s still the same “old” names that dominate the politics of this benighted land. Plus ca change, the French would remark. For better or for worse.
Now enough of the historical footnotes.
Mar astounded everybody when he blew the bugle of political retreat, not entirely unexpected, but because it came too soon. The party his father founded had pinned its hopes of political redemption after being out of complete power for 45 years, on the survey fortunes of Mar. And they watched over the past excruciating year how those survey rankings just could not seem to move upwards. There was a sudden spurt of energy in April, after Mar announced his engagement to Korina Sanchez, and did so in the popular noontime show Wowowee, after unveiling a maka-masa type of television advertisement called “Padyak”. But the novelty of these political tidings wore off all too soon. Worse, the fortunes of a most unworthy person, Manuel Villar, the ersatz Nacionalista to whom the successors of a great man, Jose P. Laurel, sold their party franchise to, were rising from survey to survey, even as his huge media budget papered over corruption charges most gross. The Liberals were on the verge of panic as they read the tea leaves of Pepe Miranda and Mahar. Until Cory Aquino died, and a glint in the eye of the grieving Noynoy caught their attention. That glint in the eye the Liberals have quickly turned into moist eyes for a presidency they covet in 2010.
And so, groups allied with the LP’s like Black and White, along with a few columnists, turned up the heat on a still grieving family. Noynoy felt like a challenge was upon him, and there was a legacy of leadership the burden of which he had to face. Meanwhile, Mar saw his support base in the LP quickly turn askance. Men who earlier cheered him with every padyak of his pedicab, and cried with him when he proposed marriage to Korina in unworthy Willie Revillame’s show, were suddenly looking beyond his shoulders, and Mar felt sick.
Like the investment banker that he was, Mar decided to cut his losses, and throw in the towel. But unlike the wily politician he never has become, Mar threw in the towel way too soon. A trapo would have first calculated the numbers, watched the numbers of Noynoy appear in the cards, and then sit down for negotiations. That was how Don Manuel and his cautious son Gerry and Don Amading Araneta, Mar’s maternal lolo, would have played the game. But Mar Roxas must have felt like he was on sinking sand while facing the rush of a giant wave threatening to drown him forever. (I eerily experienced this in April, in the shores of Sablayan upon the waters of Batanes, when the softness in my feet felt like quicksand, and mercifully the waves that rushed were far from being a tsunami. I remember this because of its close serendipity to Mar’s putative campaign manager, Butch Abad of beautiful if perilous Batanes).
But there is science to the timing, if the Liberal panic is to be interpreted with political calculation. A Metro Manila survey is ongoing right this minute, and its results will be quickly announced next week. Potential moneybags want to test Noynoy’s appeal, and unlike Mar, they want to see the numbers first. If Noynoy still hemmed and hawed, those numbers would not appear magical. So Mar had to go. He understood this as much as his confreres in the party and his fast diminishing “Friends of Mar” did. To their panic, Mar felt depression.
And then again, opinion pollsters would be on the field starting the middle of September, nationwide this time, and Noynoy’s numbers had to be magical, at the very least least hopeful. The survey timelines explain the haste, and Mar chose to decapitate himself, both out of a sense of honourable seppuku and surrender to reality.
Even Noynoy was surprised by the suddenness of it all. He knew it was forthcoming, and the burdens it imposed upon him grew heavier by the day, but he did not expect the denouement all too soon. Whether it was because, like Chiz Escudero who bound himself to a birthday timeline (Chiz turns 40 on October 10 this year), Noynoy bound himself to a post 40-day grieving deadline, or because the Chinese tradition from his maternal bloodline taught him never, never to make a major decision before the ghost month is over (that’s August 20 to September 18 this year, when the mooncakes flood us all), his silence underwhelms. It casts gloomy spell upon Mar’s surrender.
But let us continue this tomorrow.
* * *
Meanwhile, let me condole with the brethren of the Iglesia ni Cristo on the demise of their Pangkalahatang Tagapamahala, Ka Erano G. Manalo, whose leadership kept the religious powerhouse strong and ever-united in almost two generations of political turbulence and socio-economic decline.
We marvel at the strong sense of unity and discipline that the Iglesia brethren show the nation and the world, and see that it is not just their faithful adherence to religious doctrine, but also the firm and steady hands of purposive leadership that has kept them united in purpose and disciplined in conduct.
Would that it were likewise so in this benighted land, so bereft of discipline, so divided, so absent in upright leadership. From the founding by Ka Felix to the growth years of Ka Erdie, the strength of the Iglesia ni Kristo must be positive lesson to us all. Only a nation united in purpose, bound by fierce love of country, and disciplined as a singular community, can bring us to national greatness.
Ave atque vale, Ka Erdy. You have cared for your flock well and beyond mortal standards. And surely it will remain in steady hands, ever ready to face the vicissitudes of every temporal challenge.
Posted by Lito Banayo at 6:04 PM