Assassination with a smile

In Thailand, the Nation tackles yesterday’s snap elections and looks at Post-election, Thaksin’s grand exit and entry strategies. The paper also asks a relevant question: Do we allow a leader to use the democratic process to destroy the democratic process itself?

Constitutional change remains the first order of business, and it will remain so until the plebiscite in June. The Commission on Elections is happy to be chugging along on the amendments railroad. The headlines tell the story of a defiant Comelec which is possibly daring to do so because the Palace is behind it all the way:

Abalos tells Charter change critics: Go to SC: Senate to file suit to stop verification (Inquirer)

Palace tells Cha-cha critics to go to court -Claudio: They should put their money where their mouth is (Malaya)

Govt to defend Comelec on ChaCha (Manila Standard-Today)

GMA orders Solgen to save Comelec from contempt raps (Daily Tribune)

Meanwhile, Mayors told: Do an Atienza, dance to tune of the Cha-cha. But bikoy,net says there are pockets of opposition:

In our town in Bulacan, where the administration is not very popular, our barangay leaders have received papers and propaganda materials for the signature campaign to change the constitution but are unwilling to open the packages up for distribution even if DILG officials are expected to observe the baranggay assembly on Wednesday.
An interesting article is in the Manila Standard-Today: 72 lawmakers fail to stop ChaCha train. The language here is very interesting:

Lambino declared as successful the signature campaign through the people’s initiative in the districts of those who vigorously opposed the process such as House Minority Leader Francis Escudero of Sorsogon, Deputy Minority Leaders Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros, Gilbert Remulla of Cavite and Roilo Golez of Parañaque, Senior Deputy Minority Leader Rolex Suplico of Iloilo, Reps. Jacinto Paras of Negros Occidental, Darlene Antonino-Custodio of South Cotabato and General Santos City, Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur and Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte, Teofisto Guingona III of Bukidnon, Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Benigno Aquino III of Tarlac and J.R. Nereus Acosta, among others.

“The overwhelming support from even the opposition bailiwicks despite the noise made by the 21 senators and 51 congressmen only shows that majority of our people expressed the people power through their signatures,” Lambino said.

But what did Lambino really say? Victory has been achieved -but victory is 3% in the various districts, particularly opposition districts. That wasn’t a victory; it was a probability. In every district you will find at least 3% willing to support something; what would have been a political upset would be large pluralities or even minorities achieved in opposition areas, but the administration’s clever enough not to claim that now.

2. The idea is to tar and feather those opposed by saying they all aspire to be either senator or president (you know, just like the President and the Speaker -and members of the cabinet who continue to pore over surveys on their chances to be elected to the Senate, “just in case”). At the same time, studiously ignoring what motivates their supporters:

“Most of those who quietly helped us are second- and third-termers maybe because of the proposal to lift the term limits,” Lambino said. “But it doesn’t follow that the people would reelect them again in the same position.”

House records show that of the 236 incumbent congressmen, 63 are in their last term or whose term will end in 2007, 83 are second- termers and 90 are first-termers. With the term limit scrapped, they can seek reelection.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and among the most active in pushing for ChaCha, is on his last term.

Besides Jaraula, most of the third- and second-termers chaired major committees in the House. Among them are Reps. Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay, committee on appropriations; Jesli Lapus of Tarlac, ways and means; Almario Mayo of Davao Oriental, games and amusements; Josefina Joson of Nueva Ecija, women; Juan Miguel Zubiri of Bukidnon, legislative franchises; Roseller Barinaga of Zamboanga del Norte, labor and employment, to name a few.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, chairman of the House contingent to the influential Commission on Appointments, is also on his last term. De Venecia is on his second term.

And also, in the House of Representatives, business as usual: Redistricting costs government millions.

Cabinet reshuffle in offing? Romulo offered Washington post. Scuttlebutt is, the President is exasperated with him.

In the punditocracy, my column for today is Assassination with a smile. The Speaker’s next in line for a hatchet job but doesn’t realize it.

Joaquin Bernas, SJ further explains the differences between constitutional revision and amendments.

Conrado de Quiros has a modest proposal: a four-question national referendum.

Patricio Diaz objects to what he calls the “politics of God.” This reminds me of a story, which a fellow journalist told a friend, who then told me, which I then confirmed with someone close to the person in the story. Recently, a prominent Fil-Am supporter of the President wanted to engage in a business opportunity here in the Philippines. The opportunity fell by the wayside because the President’s husband took advantage of the opportunity first. The Fil-Am concerned, upset over the First Gentleman’s alleged intervention, went directly to the President to complain to her that it was behavior like her husband’s that was reflecting badly on the administration. The President icily replied, “those criticizing my husband are destabilizers,” or words to that effect. The Fil-Am was shocked, and infuriated, and instead of accompanying the President on a provincial sortie, went back to the USA. A relative of the Fil-Am confirmed that something along the lines of the story did happen, but not in such a sensational manner.

In the blogosphere, Torn & Frayed thinks Winnie Monsod is on the money; Concerns of a Bystander considers her recent column a welcome development, but perceives a lack of consistency.

After All is exasperated by some pro-amendments propaganda. big mango tackles the argument that irks After All: amendments are the cure! No, big mango says. A more methodical and intellectually-honest effort’s the only cure.A similar reluctance to get sucked into political assumptions is what makes My Liberal Times so uneasy with those grumbling about the “ignorance of the electorate.”

baratillo books [email protected] on the President dictating the political tempo and some intriguing political what ifs. The Citizen on Mars compares the ongoing amendments effort to a countdown. Lapu-Lapu Times wonders how millions of signatures have been authenticated when the “Jose Pidal” signature still hasn’t after some years.

Four Eyed Journal echoes Sassy Lawyer’s outrage over the Associated Press refusing to credit bloggers; and Now What, Cat takes up the cudgels for Sassy and says her critics are motivated by envy (and politically-incorrect, too, for criticizing her for being Rubenesque). I still don’t understand Cat’s attitude concerning entries that deserve criticism but do not deserve, to her mind, links (“they just might get traffic,” she explains). Seems to me that goes against a Cardinal rule of blogging, which is as much as possible, link to what you discuss or find worthy of comment.

Jove Francisco (see the end of his entry) explains blogging from a journalist’s personal point of view.

Go Figure tackles immigration and how the only way to address it is to improve the local economy. But growth required to do so has to be quite brisk: to match where Thailand is now, we’d take 20 years if we grow at current levels! But even if we grow at 7% it will take the same amount of time for us to catch up with where Malaysia is now.

Measly Meanderings on why people like pilots want to work abroad: not just for a better salary, but to thrive in a meritocracy.

Tales from Disiniland on self-censorship online as a tool for future employment.

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    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 3:45 pm


    Re: “The President dangled the post (as RP’s ambassador to the US) to then Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes early this year, but he declined because he did not want to leave the country.”

    Reyes may have another reason for not “wanting to leave the country” but I do NOT believe that he didn’t accept the post being dangled to him for ONLY that reason.

    My opinion is that he refused the post because he is perfectly aware that his credentials may not be readily acceptable to the State Dept’s Condi Rice. His record of having been a military mutineer will not be looked upon kindly in Washington. The US recognized Gloria’s “legitimacy” as part and parcel of its pragmatic foreign policy for South Asia but it is another thing to accept a foreign envoy in Washington circles who is not only perceived as a “traitor” to democracy but also one who clearly suffers from very low public trust in his own country.

    As for Gloria, she is simply being terribly smart; she wants Angie out of the way by dangling an offer that one almost cannot refuse but an offer that requires overcoming enormous hurdles, from CA confirmation to acceptance in Washington. And even for the sake of argument, Angie makes it to CA but fails the US State Dept grade, he is gone from Gloria’s books for good. She will have gotten rid of a thorn on her perceived “legitimacy”!

    Reyes realizes that while Gloria’s offer is infinitely flattering to his person, he is not dumb enough not to know that the US post is a poison chalice.

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 3:55 pm


    What a splendid analysis you made there of the power trip between Gloria and JdV.

    You’ve made the whole PI circus so plain and simple. Anyone who can’t see through it is either dumb or blind.


    • gari on April 3, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    deranged thoughts, desperate measures.
    least lambino forgots, tell their patroness
    to stop bribing the people to sign by misleading
    them. let there be an open and free debate on it.
    and enough fabricating with “people’s clamor” because
    there is none and what we have are plain and simple
    attendance sheet. sigh*

    • manuelbuencamino on April 3, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    According to Comelec comm. Borja, it takes at least 6 months to prepare for a national election. That means, if preparations begin today, the plebiscite will be in October at the earliest. By then, the second impeachment would have been junked.

    There is another more sinister reason why Reyes did not accept the Washington job. He did not want to let go of the NAKTAF, the anti-kidnapping task force. Why?

    Insiders say kasi malaki ang funding. Sticky fingers daw yan si Reyes.When he was asked to move from DILG to DENR he thought he could retain Naktaf as its task force chief. Unfortunarely, Puno was able to convince GMA that Naktaf was redundant as CIDG was already handling kidnapping.

    I guess Reyes will find a lot of opportunities to be of service in DENR

    • jumper on April 3, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    “I still don’t understand Cat’s attitude concerning entries that deserve criticism but do not deserve, to her mind, links (”they just might get traffic,” she explains). Seems to me that goes against a Cardinal rule of blogging, which is as much as possible, link to what you discuss or find worthy of comment.”

    another reason for linking the entries that you are criticizing is so that others can look at the entries and judge for themselves whether your criticism makes sense or not. if you do not link the original material, for all we know you could just be taking things out of context, or worse, inventing stuff.

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 4:33 pm


    Re Sassy’s Lawyer’s lament.

    Interestingly, something similar happened to me. During the Asian games held in Manila, I wrote a piece in your blog MLQ3 about my opinion on what the Asian Games could do to the fledging unity of the nation. After posting it on your blog, I sent it to a well-known columnist who re-published it on 12/05/2005 practically word for word and as an integral part of his column but without citing my name as the original writer.

    Frankly, I didn’t care. I was rather pleased the columnist re-published my piece for wider public reading.

    I can’t track the link to your blog where I had posted the original posting but it was during the month of the Asian Games in RP.

    “A regional or intra-continental sports competition should be an excellent way of treating against the ills that plague a society.

    “Back in 1998, France was feeling the pinch of a morose national and worldwide economy. Politically, the nation was divided with an anti-immigration sentiment dominating all forefronts. Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National Party was virtually instigating for a racial divide. He was saying “French First” and even those that were not normally inclined to follow his lead were attracted by his demagoguery.

    “Labor unions were staging protests left, right and center. The overall national feeling was dissatisfaction.

    “I really can not pinpoint the whys and wherefores for the national malaise but I remember that there was a worldwide economic stagnation at the time.

    “However, the World Cup in France changed all that. In an era when national leaders were calling for careful spending, the French spent, shopped and celebrated like there was no tomorrow. What that spending spree did was money circulated; businesses, big and small thrived, employment rose… There were other things that happened but the most important of them all was France united. In one single stroke, the French victory saw politicians, from the extreme right included, and people of all creeds, races, colors, stations in life cry proudly in unison “Vive la France”, “Vive la République”!

    “The morosity, the malaise, the sluggishness were all replaced by a national unity unseen in decades. The World Cup drove up the sluggish economy to heights that the country had not witnessed in two decades.

    “France proudly displayed, televised its people, its wealth, its culture and its unity to a cumulative audience of 37 billion people worldwide, the largest TV audience in history.

    “Handled deftly, the SEA games in the Philippines could galvanize the people into action and heal sick Philippines.”

  1. You’re naughty MLQ, you’re making Pichay and Joe quarrel! (Not that they haven’t already).

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 4:56 pm


    Sigurado ka na iyan ang reason ni Angie?

    If true, he is a worse cad than I ever imagined him to be.

    Alam mo, Angie made a killing investing in AFPSLAI. I have it from good sources (his own classmates from PMA Class 66) that he would invest 1,000,000 pesos practically every month “donated” by some friends and brokers (it was rumored that a Chinese couple who went with him almost every time he traveled abroad as CSAFP and as SND were some of the most generous “donors” as well as investors).

    Usually, the AFPSLAI is only reserved for members of the military but many civilians were able to do it by using military officers or men as their investment dummy.

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    P.S. The interest at that time for an investment in AFPSLAI is 20% and if I’m not mistaken, all the investor had to do was keep his cash investment for 3 to 6 monts (am no longer very sure of the duration but should be that length of time).

  2. With your many contacts in the military, did you ever try to invest ADB? I might try and contact my cousin (a civilian employee of the AFP) to invest for me. 20% is quite high! Here in Hong Kong, we get 2% for our savings deposits…

  3. Sorry for blindsiding you ADB! I feel the same as you do. My previous comment was actually made in sarcasm…

    But your response made me see you’re a good person.

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 5:38 pm


    Jon, I don’t know if I am good person at all. I reckon I am as bad as anyone can be but I certainly prefer to tackle a person who has a higher station in life rather than the poor soldier’s family who could barely make ends meet…

    • Karl on April 3, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    I found your comment ADB………..

    Thursday December 1, 2005
    All that glitters is the gold……….

    a de brux wrote on December 1st, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    National sports fests are always a way – in most cases – of unifying a people, lifting a sagging morale and more importantly, of boosting a sluggish economy.

    A regional or intra-continental sports competition should be an excellent way of treating against the ills that plague a society…………….

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 6:02 pm


    You are a wonder of nature… thanks!

  4. Charter change is a pie in the sky that won’t narrow the great divide between the rich and the poor. The parliamentary form of government is also a winner-take-all system that breeds “The Cheating Culture” described in the same book by David Callahan. The monopoly of the administrative branch by the majority party motivates cheating to win at all cost.Together with the presidential form, these are structures well suited to mature democracies with institutions that evoke patriotism and not on emerging democracies in the process of consolidation.

    • manuelbuencamino on April 3, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    The problem with a constitution that has transitory provisions tailor-made for GMA is it does not take into consideration the following:

    GMA dies, resigns or is incapacited.

    Noli becomes president and picks Jinggoy or Loi as his vice president.

    And then Noli dies, resigns or is incapacited.

    And Jinggoy or Loi become president….

    ……With an axe to grind.

    • Karl on April 3, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    No problem!

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 6:25 pm

    Karl, I really am not sure if “a wonder of nature” is a valid expression in English. I automatically translated the French expression that came to my mind that instant which was “une merveille de la nature!”…

    • a de brux on April 3, 2006 at 6:30 pm


    Eeek! Either one or the other in your configuration seems a disaster!

    • cvj on April 3, 2006 at 7:15 pm

    mlq3, when it comes to economic growth, i’ve always had a problem when the problem is framed as one of ‘catching up’ with Thailand, Malaysia or whoever. ‘Catching up’ with this or that country is *not* what matters. The main reason we need to achieve 7% percent growth or more is to make trickle down benefits felt by the poorest sectors within half their lifetimes (16 to 20 years). Barring this, the objective should be to aggressively try to double the per capita income of those who live on less than 1 US Dollar a day within that timeframe along the lines of Sach’s and Bono’s proposals. It goes without saying that, in this context, GMA’s legitimacy problem is a drag and the current Cha-Cha is a distraction.

  5. and Now What, Cat takes up the cudgels for Sassy and says her critics are motivated by envy (and politically-incorrect, too, for criticizing her for being Rubenesque). I still don’t understand Cat’s attitude concerning entries that deserve criticism but do not deserve, to her mind, links (”they just might get traffic,” she explains). Seems to me that goes against a Cardinal rule of blogging, which is as much as possible, link to what you discuss or find worthy of comment.

    Well kuya manuel, ang thinking diyan ng mga iilang filipino blogger is, “baka sumikat pa ang mga bumibira sa kanila”. pero to most bloggers who are used to reading the instapundits and the andrew sullivans, linking to interesting (or offending) posts that you want to comment on in your blog is second nature.

    I think it’s always wise whenever you make claims, you better back it up by linking to the original or offending source to prove your point… or else, how would your readers know kung gaano ka-legit o accurate ang claims mo?

    Like what jumper said:

    another reason for linking the entries that you are criticizing is so that others can look at the entries and judge for themselves whether your criticism makes sense or not. if you do not link the original material, for all we know you could just be taking things out of context, or worse, inventing stuff.

    One last thing, if it’s true yung sinasabi ni Cathcath na binibira sa Sassy for her weight problems, then mali yan. But I don’t know kung totoo nga yung sinasabi ni cathcath since she never provided any links to prove her claims.

    • manuelbuencamino on April 4, 2006 at 12:17 am


    It would be divine justice for the tailors of the transitory provisions don’t you think?

    I wonder what they’ll do if that happens.

    I know what I’ll do.

    I’ll campaign for a snap election like what I’ve doing ever since the last election.

    Only thing is I might be distracted by the sideshow of the Estradas sending the entire Arroyo gang to the gallows.

    But then again I could make some money selling corn dogs to the spectators.

    • a de brux on April 4, 2006 at 12:45 am

    Hah MB!

    To be honest, I woudn’t mind at all if the Arroyo gang were sent to the gallows illico. They deserve no less than a just punishment, JdV or no JdV’s transition tricks.

    What I’m kinda worried about is in your configuration, there’s only the Estrada boy and the Castro guy for replacement. Ugh!

    But know what, I’ll wait for the Arroyos to be marched to the gallows before I make up my mind. And know what else? I I’m gonna go for the franchise next to your corn dog booth so I can sell pancakes and tea during the great show – how ’bout that? You reckon we’re gonna make a killing?

    • The Bystander on April 4, 2006 at 1:56 am


    One last thing, if it’s true yung sinasabi ni Cathcath na binibira sa Sassy for her weight problems, then mali yan. But I don’t know kung totoo nga yung sinasabi ni cathcath since she never provided any links to prove her claims.

    –Makikita mo yan sa blog ni John Nery, dun sa post niya na “Oh, boy is she talking about me?”. May isang commenter dun na nag-comment yata tungkol sa ***** ni *****, na ikinainis naman ni cathcath. Ikaw na lang mag provide ng link! 🙂

    • Phil Cruz on April 4, 2006 at 2:16 am


    “Assassination with a Smile” is one of the most original and insightful pieces ever written of the developing political situation today. Such depth and reach of perception and analysis, you certainly have.

    Naughty, naughty. Now everybody will be scrutinizing JDV’s every little muscle twitch.. He’s going to be on tenterhooks. Now all eyes will be peeled for any signs of tension likely to be developing between JDV and Gloria and JDV and Pichay. But more closely to be observed perhaps will be the expected forced smiles each of these three personalities will now be flashing to each other. .. but with sharpened daggers firmly clutched behind them.

    • Karl on April 4, 2006 at 7:15 am

    assasination with a smile….

    I like the classic boiling frog analogy injected to the situation….

    Since most frogs if not all put in this experiment boils to death..The only way for the frog to survive is for the lab experimenters to pull him off the boiling water at the earliest possible time…which is so unlikely!

    • gls on April 4, 2006 at 8:38 am

    hi mlq3,

    i read you and i’d like to make your acquaintance. do email me when you’re free. thanks.


  6. AdB

    I really think you have lost it..

    Your first comment..

    • jumper on April 4, 2006 at 9:56 am


    “I really think you have lost it..”

    ohoho…look who’s talking! 😉

    naalala ko tuloy yung kwento na kung pano mo malalaman kung sino yung umutot, pag nasa isang kwarto ka na maraming tao.

    yung taong:
    1. tuturo sa iba at sasbihin sa kanya (in a voice loud enough for all to hear), “umutot ka noh???”
    2. unang magsasabi ng (in a voice loud enough for all to hear), “parang may naaamoy akong mabaho ah…sino yung umutot???”

  7. Hi 😀

    • Melandrew Velasco on April 5, 2006 at 10:08 am

    Dear MLQIII,

    You got it right and your column on JDV was a masterpiece. At this time, JDV must be having sleepless nights after your column titled “Assasination with a Smile” was published last Monday.
    I think it’s best that you touch on another piece on JDV for a column follow up.
    If and when a new parliament pushes through, is he really sure of becoming the next Prime Minister?
    Over the last four months, JDV has been shuttling back and forth to his district – now an endangered zone on account of Mayor Benjie Lim’s (a former Congressman from 1998 to 2001 when JDV lost in the presidential elections)announcement that he will challenge JDV in the congressional race.If elections were held today, Benjie Lim will surely trounce JDV in the fourth district in Pangasinan. Dig deeper on this political development.
    In a parliamentary system where old politics and the glitter of gold will still be the rule of the thumb, then JDV is not cock sure of his long-cherished PM post with the entry of a Danding Cojuangco, a Manny Villar, a Luis Villafuerte, a Butch Pichay (if you consider him as being cut for the job) or whatever your favorite PGMA would do or say on the anointment of the Prime Minister.
    And what if FVR suddenly is suddenly ‘pushed’ (convinced) to run in Pangasinan’s 6th district, then what’s the other scenario? Of course, this may sound far-fetched on account of FVR’s repeated statements that it will be a demotion on his part having been President and former head of state.
    Well, at this point, the ever optimist JDV will still go for a ‘no-el’ scenario – hoping that this will ultimately bring him the PM post on a silver platter.
    Your column deserves a follow up if only to expound more on the impending ‘political silence’ of Speaker JDV.



    Your high school classmate JOANA EDRALIN is in town from San Francisco. She is inviting you to a dinner meeting tomorrow (April 6) at Manila Peninsula at 7:30 p.m. or for a coffee meeeting at 9:30 in the same venue.
    Please confirm of your acceptance/availability by calling or texting my cell no. 0917-5080546 or 01958532703 (joan’s cell number).

    Mel Velasco

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