With the return of the President, it’s open season again on her administration, after the informal lull in political intramural activities that happens whenever a President goes to represent the country abroad. Max Soliven crows that tomorrow night, he’s having a special on ANC where the President will chat about how she spent her New York City working trip. He also lets loose this juicy tidbit regarding Sec. Arthur Yap:
For a guy who had quit the cabinet two months ago, then been suddenly asked back by the President, Art Yap is a ball of fire. He not only balanced out “preparing” for our TV interview with the Chief Executive, with helping out in HaydeeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s funeral arrangements Ã¢â‚¬â€œ hope the two functions arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t inter-related Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but he still found time to check out with me some military intelligence reports which disquieted him (they had been passed to him for evaluation before being transmitted to GMA).
So for those into Palace politics, is Sec. Yap poised to overshadow Sec. Mike Defensor? (Incidentally, Babes Romualdez recounts how Max Soliven also tried to help the late Fernando Poe, Jr., but he thinks, to no avail).
This week’s top stories:
1. That darned, mysterious deal
Newsroom Barkada asks what the big deal is with the lobbying contract signed by Sec. Norberto Gonzalez, and the Inquirer editorial answers his question. Except that the issue’s academic now because the contract has been rescinded. Questions will continue to be asked, though, not last because this yet another case of the one step forward, three steps back, who knew what was going on style of the administration, which has caused it so many problems in the past.
2. Them thar Yankees
Later this week, too, the United States will lob a grenade in the form of revealing who might have benefitted from espionage activities by Fil-Ams in the States. Tony Abaya has a pretty well thought-out view as what the Fil-Am espionage case is really about:
[T]his espionage affair could become embarrassing not only to the Ã¢â‚¬Å“three Philippine officials,Ã¢â‚¬Â presumably from the opposition, who will soon be charged by the FBI for conspiracy, but also to the highest Ã¢â‚¬Å“Philippine political leaders,Ã¢â‚¬Â presumably including President Arroyo, who are indubitably analyzed and weighed in all brutal candor and warts-and-all honesty in these highly classified assessments meant only for the eyes of the highest US government officials…
…Because governments, especially the American government, do not make these moves without a reason and without having evaluated all the possible consequences, it may not be far-fetched to conclude that this is going to be a Big Squeeze. But from the information at hand, it is not yet certain who is or are going to be squeezed the hardest, until his or her eyeballs pop out of their sockets…
It may be significant that the FBI will not start to divulge the details of this affair until three days from now. By that time, President Arroyo will have concluded her chairmanship of the UN Security Council Summit in New York.
If my reading is correct, the Americans are gallant enough not to embarrass her by spilling the stinking vomit of Philippine politics on her lap while she is hobnobbing with the most powerful men in the world. But after three days, who knows?
3. House party
The House is poised to try to bring impeachment back from the dead.
4. The economy, stupid
The President retracts her previous statements (which were, however, recorded on tape and made to American businessmen), and says VAT is a go; the Senate may not agree; Rep. Joey Salceda, in the House, also doesn’t agree. There’s apparently confusing news: the BIR overstated its collections while the Central Bank says the balance of payments is good. What gives, since, if Ricky Carandang is correct, the fiscal crisis isn’t dead?
There’s that debt relief plan initially thought up by the Speaker, and pitched by the President, which the Star says has been hailed; economist Go Figure analyzes the whole thing (and read his entry on measuring the wealth of nations).
Interesting Readings Department:
Stepping on Poop on Opposition Dysfunction and Revolution as Religious Revelation. Torn & Frayed compares President Arroyo to President Nixon and suggests parliamentary government isn’t such a good idea for us. Abe Margallo muses on where People Power has gone, while Sylvia Mayuga basically asks the same question but from a different paradigm. Newsstand is bothered by Randy David’s historical revisionism.