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Oct 20

Binay gets a breather

Toots Ople and I arrived at Makati City Hall yesterday late in the afternoon, when news of the Court of Appeals TRO had already broken. So it was pretty jolly in the vicinity except for the area around the old city hall, where the Palace-appointed New Order was supposed to have set up shop, and where many lost-looking military people were standing around scratching their heads and texting.

We alighted in a sidestreet and made our way through the kind of courtyard in front of the new city hall, jostling through boiled peanut vendors fish ball vendors and milling crowds of delegation, some standing, some seated, around a stage, from which was blaring “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo.” A barker was calling the roll of the barangay delegations:

Barker: “East Rembo!”
Left corner: “Hoorah!!”
Barker: “West Rembo!”
Right corner leaps to its feet: “Yippee!”
Barker: “Palanan!”
Sizeable group stands up and roars: “Yihee!”
Barker: “Poblacion!”
A huddled group waves its arms: “Yehey!”
Barker: “Forbes Park!”
-silence, and then giggling from the huddled masses.
Barker: “Tejeros!”
Right corner: “Hoorah-yippee-yahoo-yehey-yihee!”

Hordes of energetic senior citizens circulated, apparently braced to fight for free dentures, movie passes and birthday cakes to the death (democracy hath no fury like a constituent defending his entitlements). Massed lines of traffic aides in yellow were in formation at the entrance, but people were going in and out of the city hall freely.

Inside (and it was my first time to visit the Makati City Hall) the relentlessly-marbled first floor, the windows of various offices were open and there were people patiently sitting waiting for whatever-it-was-they-were-there-for to be attended to. We were directed to the elevators and finally rode one up to the 21st floor, where people milled about or clustered in corners depending on their political affiliations. Various barangay delegations would march in and out to demonstrate their loyalty to the mayor, who was seated in one of the smaller board rooms.

We dutifully shuffled in and said hello to Binay, who was on his cellphone but would cup the receiver to acknowledge his visitors. After a few minutes there was a minor huddle and then Binay disappeared into his office, apparently to take a look at the TRO.

“Si Gloria, si Gloria!” the crowd suddenly murmured. It turned out to be Gloria Diaz.

Newsbreak carries a report on the TRO, and pictures of the celebrations later that evening. Borrowing a phrase you first saw here, folks, Amando Dorinilla says the Palace is engaging in brinkmanship. Ellen Tordesillas thinks the Palace decided to defuse an explosive situation. It could have gone out of control, as a deadline for action today loomed. It could afford to give the opposition a temporary sense of victory -without, however, proving things either way.

Is the Palace merely trying to save face? It remains defiant it seems. Binay’s people expect more attempts through other means (Sandiganbayan or even the Ombudsman) to remove their mayor.

Meanwhile, more moving of the chess pieces by the Queen. A Binay aide told me the most nerve-wracking moments were early in the standoff and yesterday morning. Early on, they were virtually defenseless in city hall; yesterday morning, they were also unsure if people would stand up to a military assault on city hall. Perhaps their opponents sensed, too, that they’d moved too slowly and the besieged mayor had managed to turn public opinion and the political momentum against them.

Overseas, the Guardian reports that even the Bush administration’s admitted, for the first time, that it’s facing a Vietnam-like scenario in Iraq:

The admission from President Bush that the US may have arrived at a turning point in this war – the Tet offensive led to a massive loss of confidence in the American presence in Vietnam – comes during one of the deadliest months for US forces since the invasion.

Yesterday the number of US troops killed since October 1 rose to 73, deepening the sense that America is trapped in an unwinnable situation and further damaging Republican chances in midterm elections that are less than three weeks away.

No surprise then that the Republican Right and its fellow travellers are using the “vote Republican or Dubya will be impeached by Communists!” argument to hold the base together.

In the punditocracy, the Inquirer editorial delves into the pressure being applied by the Palace on the Supreme Court.

Dr. Rene Azurin of One Voice pens a warning to those who’d willfully ignore history.

Max Soliven declares war on Mark Jimenez.

In the blogosphere, people weigh in pro and con regarding Binay. In the good riddance corner are Unsent Postcards and joeydaninja, while in the it’s persecution corner are The Write Stuff, and Mental Pornography and El Bisyador and Manila Boy and My Sanctuary; a Makati City resident, shh…. the mind is talking… says they didn’t notice much (and explains why they like their mayor):

well, bilang isang mamamayan ng dakilang lungsod *ehem* ng Makati, masasabi kong maganda naman ang pamumuno ni Binay… nararamdaman naman namin na bumabalik sa amin ang binabayaran naming buwis… hindi literal na bumalik sa amin ang perang binayad ng mga magulang ko, bagkus, sa mga serbisyo at mga proyekto ni Binay para sa mga taga-Makati (o mga Makakati… ehehe)… kasi hanggang sa pagsilang, unang picture ng baby saka ng nanay pagkapanganak, health service tulad ng Yellow Card at diskwento sa gamot sa mga Senior Citizen at iba pa, hanggang sa mga cakes para sa matatanda, pati sa kabaong ng namatay at bulaklak, sagot ng pamahalaan ng Makati… madami pang mga pa-eklat na proyekto na talagang kapakipakinabang… masasabi kong alam ni Binay ang “kiliti” ng masa… kaya hindi ako magtataka kung patuloy pa rin siyang iboboto ng mga tao dito…

A Texas showdown is what it is, Pala-isip says. An OFW in Hong Kong takes a look at the brouhaha over Binay’s wearing a military jacket, something lilac republic also comments on. Philippine Commentary had lawyer Alan Paguia as a guest blogger and that got reactions, too from Buddy Blogs and Upoytaoism. Also, Confessions from the Edge says the Department of the Interior is courting contempt.
A pox on everyone’s houses, courtesy of Alternation101: he says everybody, without exception, is guilty of something-or-other sooner-or-later. earl_johnm paints his views on Philippine television in equally bold strokes.

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