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Jul 31

The return of the native

Thanks to Madame Chiang for pointing this out:

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Someone at The Philippine Star has a sense of humour…. she says.

The past few days have produced some interesting developments. Most interesting of all: the return of the President’s husband, to bury his half-sister. Ordinarily, private grief should not be a cause for public notice, but his presence, brief as it might be, will only help to bring one of the causes for the President’s troubles back to public attention.

The President, after the initial errors when her counteroffensive resulted in a media mess, has been on the offensive, appearing on local and international media, with the same message every time. Sec. Gabby Claudio last Friday was telling Julius Babao that he regretted the mishandling of the President’s first press conference, because the “high” from the State of the Nation Address didn’t last very long. Sec. Mike Defensor on the other hand recounted how, as soon as he got word of the media being angry, he called the Palace and ran into people reluctant to listen to his advice: his response, in exasperation, was, “fine, go ahead, if you guys think you’re so good.” The President has been enjoying media mileage caused by her being selected as the fourth most powerful woman in the world Piercing Pens aren’t amused; neither is Political Junky, a hat tip, by the way, for Forbes link; activist Gari isn’t impressed, either), and due to the release of Bear Sterns & Co.’s report on the odds on her staying in power. Incidentally, the author of the report, John Steurmer, is the fellow whose picking of media brains I wrote about in a previous entry. Newsstand takes a look at both the report and Steurmer (read Mario Taguiwalo’s response, too). What I’d add is that when he was discussing the report with us, Steurmer did insist it was pretty much a work in progress, and that circumstances could change rather quickly. As an example he gave his changing some of his initial probabilities when the Senate President broke ranks with the President.

Incidentally, Newsstand also blogged on Archbishop Oscar Cruz’s latest “surprise” witness, rumored to be former Isabela governor Faustino Dy. Newsstand initially brought it up in this post and lets the cat out of the bag in this post.

Quite a few people I talk to are puzzled by the tactical behavior of the archbishop. Edwin Lacierda sums up many opinions I’ve heard, by calling the archbishop a “walking ennui”. The danger the archbishop runs, is that his opponents have ample time to either pressure witnesses, or come up with a strong defense.

Sylvia Mayuga’s online column today makes for interesting reading, not least because of her synthesis of both mainstream media information, her own sources, and research by people in the blogosphere. Her main point is one other journalists have been looking into: who was behind the “Hello, Garci” tapes? Her take:

First, the “mother of all tapes” was produced not by an oppositionist plot but on orders from the Palace to spy on its dubious ally Virgilio Garcillano– whether from the Office of the President or the First Gentleman, my source did not say.

What this source did say is that the team on top of this operation was composed of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, the ISAFP chief and the KAMPI stalwart and Antipolo representative Ronaldo ‘Ronnie’ Puno. (He is also the brother of Estrada’s former Executive Secretary and spokesperson, Ricardo ‘Dong’ Puno.)

This, incidentally, answers the question that came up during a recent talk I had with a reporter, who wondered why it seemed Ronnie Puno wasn’t front and center in the Palace counter-propaganda offensive. I thought it was because the President’s husband’s allies, including those in the President’s pet party, Kampi, are weak; Mayuga explains why they may be particularly weak right now.

So this coming week will be defined by the resumption of the Senate hearings on Jueteng; and the ongoing saga of impeachment. Edwin Lacierda has some thoughts on how the rules may or may not define the game. The game, so far, at least has a schedule: Erin Tanada, in a forum at La Salle Green Hills last Friday, said it would be as follows.

August 9: debates on Form
August 16: debates on Substance
August 24: Notices to respondents (possibly for them to reply by August 29)
Last week of September: Debates on determining Probable Cause.

This has the effect of delaying the 15 week time frame by a week or two; immediate consequences? Heightening the certainty that Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., will not preside over an impeachment trial. Instead, the next Chief Justice (scuttlebutt says it will be Justice Artemio Panganiban) will preside.

Leon Kilat, by the way, has an interesting entry on blogging. Dean Alfar and Ederic Eder both blogged about the latest GMA joke. I spent the weekend dutifully reading PCIJ’s readings on Federalism, and was pleasantly surprised that the Abueva proposal contains provisions for both bicameralism and proportional representation. I’m thankful, by the way, for fellow bloggers who have some nice things to say about my own proposals.

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  1. Michael Josh

    I think President Arroyo deserves to be on the Forbes’ list of most powerful women in the world. Whether we like her not is NOT the point. The vert fact that she is still in office today is proof of the “power” she commands.

  2. miron

    mlq3, sorry unrelated but must interrupt this thread to give you breaking news. A certain michael zuce has come out to say he personally witnessed the La Vista payoff. Very convincing witness, from the face of it. I covered this “breaking news” for you guys in my blog. I can’t wait to see what you guys make of this witness.

  3. jdavies

    the fortune articles says: Our second ranking of the world’s most powerful women illustrates how fleeting power is…

    The scandal-plagued president of the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo (#4), could soon be off as well.

    It can’t be denied that she’s number 4. Power yes, but the mention of the word “fleeting”, and “off”?

  4. gari

    let’s just agree that she is among the list of the powerful “women” for this year [2005] and things will change after this year…*am crossing my figer* he he he.

    “power” is not a permanent concept. as always, someone will emerge as powerful over time. 🙂

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    Luogo interessante, buon disegno, lo gradisco, signore! =)

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