There’s a full page ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (p.17) today in which Senator Panfilo Lacson and Bro. Eddie Villanueva revisit the disappearance of former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. The Senate resumes its hearings on the “Hello, Garci” tapes today. The Palace replies in the Philippine Star with a dare: let the opposition and the Senate produce Garcillano. Columnist Dong Puno points out that the issue simply can’t be wished away. Add to this a recent report in ABS-CBN Interactive, in which National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said only Garcillano can provide real closure:
Gonzales, who reported back to work Tuesday after taking a medical leave for nearly a month due to a stroke suffered from the Senate’s intense questioning of his role over the Venable LLP deal, also said that if Garcillano decides to surface and tell the “truth,” the political bickering should stop. He said the government should then focus on more important matters such as reforming the poll body.
If Garcillano decides to surface? One is tempted to think, something is up. Or, are the Palace and the Senate simply second-guessing each other?
Apropos of the controversial tapes, the impending 5-committee report of the House, which slams both the Palace and opposition, is reported by the Inquirer as resulting in a Palace effort to scuttle the report.
A rather titillating but possibly essentially pointless story is trumpeted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a Special Report:
…President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was reportedly contemplating an exit scenario involving resignation or filing a leave of absence, as well as power-sharing with the opposition, “creeping governance” and a possible “revolt within.”
The President’s supposed state of mind is reflected in the marginal notes on a “political security situationer” prepared by her security advisers and titled “New Threats to Philippine Democracy.” The paper marked “confidential” and dated Sept. 9 is believed to have been presented to the Cabinet in a briefing on Oct. 5.
“It’s clear from the annotations … that for all the signs of madness, she has a clear idea of the situation she’s in,” said former senator Francisco Tatad, who furnished the Inquirer a copy of the document containing the marginal notes.
The problem is, the notes are not in the President’s handwriting, and all we have is the assurance from Tatad (chief propagandist of Ferdinand Marcos before and during the early years of the dictatorship, after all) that the notes must have come from someone close to the President. As a rough guide to how the Palace may be thinking, if genuine, the notes may be useful, and even instructive. But so many caveats make it difficult to consider the report hard news (it would be fine, though, for example in a opinion column or in this blog, labeled as “scuttlebutt.”). Another news of the neither news nor really scuttlebutt kind is the Daily Tribune’s saying the transfer of the Philippine Ambassador to China from his China post to a lower-ranking one in Washington, D.C. may or may not be due to former President Ramos.
There’s a curious controversy involving sports (the 23rd Southeast Asian Games to be hosted by the Philippines, to be exact), with the Manila Standard-Today reporting two things: a Vietnamese sports official supposedly claiming the games will be rigged, and basketball has apparently been eliminated from the games.
Alex Magno takes the MacArthur approach and says that in fighting the Abu Sayyaf, there is no substitute for victory. Fel Maragay considers a proposal made by the Justice Secretary: to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative (as attempted during the Ramos years), after previously considering a tactic adopted by Ferdinand Marcos to prevent the defeat of the ratification of the 1973 Constitution. Instead of a formal plebiscite, Marcos convened “village assemblies” where people, under the supervision of the military, simply resorted to raising their hands to indicate support for the new charter (the joke at the time was, the soldiers would ask, “who wants fried chicken?” Enthusiastic response, credited to ratification. Then the soldiers would ask, “who wants noodles?” The less-than-enthusiastic response after mentioning fried chicken was credited to non-ratification).
Tony Abaya continues his series on why Communism remains a threat in the Philippines, and blames it to American influence on Philippine media, and the resulting infiltration of media by Communists. Geronimo Sy dwells on the presidency. (As always, for the other side of the coin, consult My Favorite “Progressive” Blogger, who opposes charter change. I can imagine Abaya’s reply: “Ah, rifles from North Korea, Si. But factories and jobs owned by Americans or other foreigners, No?”)
In the blogosphere, Philippine Commentary kindly pays attention to the launching of Open Source Media, of which I am a part (another Filipino blogger is Belmont Club, while Philippine-American conservative commentator Michelle Malkin represents, well, Republican Commentators of Pacific Islander ancestry). Belmont Club attended the launch and blogged about it. Wish I could have been there. BuzzMachine is puzzled by the whole endeavor, though. Here’s what the CEO of Open Source Media, Roger L. Simon, says about the aftermath of the event: ’twas a smashing success, apparently with much clinking of Martini glasses.
Ricky Carandang tackles the emergence of Rep. Prospero Pichay as a serious contender for the Speakership, and says two months ago, he was wrong to think that Rep. Ronnie Puno was the Palace’s candidate (this reminds me of some conversations I’ve had on the subject: “What, Ronnie Puno a GMA loyalist? No way. He’s an FVR loyalist,” harrumphed one colleague; another sniffed, “What? An FVR loyalist? Puno is a Puno loyalist.”)
And before I comment on the rape case and the Visiting Forces Agreement (that’s coming up in a podcast), read this article from the Philippines Free Press, circa 1946: “Filipinos keep out.” Read it. Now. It explains a lot.