I have to wonder if the President got an earful about human rights behind the scenes in Davos. This may explain why she came home grumpy. And it accounts for the President having to grudgingly, of course, admit there has been some kind of military involvement in the assassination of activists. The diplomatic community – particular attention being paid to the Vatican and the US ambassadors– certainly indicated that this remains a touch issue with foreign governments.
Election-related news has it that the Catholic bishops have rejected the President’s latest effort to smooch them; the new Defense Secretary (whose welcome parade takes place today) will be hounded by allegations as to what he did during the last election;
In the senatorial merry-go-round, the United Opposition finally releases its almost-full slate:
1. Loren Legarda
2. Ping Lacson
3. John Osmeña
4. Chiz Escudero
5. Koko Pimentel
6. JV Ejercito
7. Noynoy Aquino
8. Allan Peter Cayetano
With the scuttlebutt being the remaining four slots are for the LP-NP-PDP coaltion:
9. Manny Villar
10. Joker Arroyo
11. Ralph Recto
12. Kiko Pangilinan
Which means, essentially, bye-bye to the other candidates being mentioned (the other Liberals, for example, will quietly shelve their candidacies, more likely than not) and the elimination of the civil society component as electorally irrelevant to both sides. The UNO leadership continues to pooh-pooh the idea of a Third Force.
The Palace, meanwhile, continues to add to its glorious line up of senatorial candidates: Richard Gomez and Luis “Chavit” Singson.
1. Michael Defensor
2. Miguel Zubiri
3. Gilbert Teodoro
4. Tessie Aquino-Oreta
5. Tito Sotto
6. Richard Gomez (Kamasupra is a fan. Not.)
7. Chavit Singson
8. Raul Lambino (the talk, anyway, is that he is being prevailed upon to run for the chamber he wants abolished)
On TV, Eduardo Cojuangco, kingpin of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, was shown huddled with Tessie Aquino-Oreta and Tito Sotto, both of whom said that if the Boss says they will ally with the administration, they will hear and obey. As was expected all along.
My column for today is A coalition and not a force while Billy Esposo suggests that Lakas-CMD read the handwriting on the wall, and, for the sake of survival, ally itself with a Third Force and fight the administration. The news above, I think, paints a different picture from what Esposo sees: an LP-NP coalition growing in strength as UNO crumbles. I disagree; UNO seems to have gained more than it lost from the defections, and the LP-NP weren’t able to hold their press conference yesterday afternoon to announce their candidates to fill out the opposition ticket.
Lito Banayo takes off from Esposo left off, with regards to the raiding of Lakas by Kampi, the President’s pet party. He says that Rep. Luis Villafuerte is making no bones about Kampi being the dominant administration coalition partner after May. Banayo also has the latest scuttlebutt on various provincial races.
Dong Puno (the talk is he will be running for a House seat in the district that includes Alabang) says Namfrel might be down and out for the coming elections. Efforts such as Halalang Marangal might just fill in the credibility and other gaps.
Useful reading for the day, in the light of the Ebdane appointment: Pimentel vs. Ermita.
Overseas, Project Defense Alternatives comments on George W. Bush’s proposal to increase the armed strength of the US Marine Corps and the US Army (increasing force strengths will be attractive to Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who sign up to gain US Citizenship, etc.)
In the blogosphere, Philippine Commentary reacts to last Tuesday’s The Explainer.