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Aug 07

The renegade and the insider

First, the renegade. There’s an interesting interview of Danton Remoto in PinoyCentric, where he speaks pretty bluntly about what he observed as a candidate in the last elections.

From Remoto’s observations concerning local politics, let’s move on to the insider(s), particularly talk concerning national developments, starting with Postcard Headlines who takes a look at the interest generated by a news item titled Politics goes retro: It’s NP vs LP in 2010.

Next, with the stage set, there’s Ricky Carandang’s explanation of why he thinks Senate President Manuel Villar, Jr. is the front-runner in the 2010 race:

Villar has also taken care of the financial side of the presidential run. The recent public offer of Vista Land, his newly restructured flagship company, raised P20 bilion, a significant chunk of which will go to Villar. I’m told that it costs about P5 billion to run a successful presidential campaign. The IPO puts Villar ahead of his presumptive rivals in the all important money race.

A cursory look at the financial abilities of his rivals will show that at this stage, only Mar Roxas comes close in terms of resources. The Araneta-Roxas family certainly has assets worth P5 billion, but much of that is in real estate and co-owned by the family. Mar wouldn’t be able to simply write out a cheque for P5 billion to fund his campaign.

At this early stage, other possible candidates Loren Legarda and Ping Lacson don’t have anywhere near the required amount.

Incidentally, today’s headline, Cayetano bags prized blue ribbon committee, represents, in Carandang’s opinion, a nifty political side-step on Villar’s part:

Now, just as the cries of “sellout” were beginning to gain ground, he has managed—over the initial objections of the Palace—to have opposition stalwart Alan Cayetano named chair of the Blue Ribbon committee, the body that investigates government wrongdoing. In one stroke Villar has managed to silence the criticism and transferred the onus of proving his independence to Cayetano.

If, in his investigations, Cayetano is perceived to be soft on the adminstration it is he who will be accused of selling out, not Villar. If he does as promised and goes after the Arroyo regime he will silence the critics from the opposition and Villar will be praised for standing up to the majority.

The proof of the pudding will indeed be in the eating: those who voted for Cayetano will expect him to hold slam-bang investigations in the Blue Ribbon. It seems to me, aware of this (having tried to stop Cayetano’s selection as Blue Ribbon chairman), the administration’s backing off from hot potato deals: No go for broadband deal–Palace adviser. Nip it in the bud!

But what’s interesting, to me, is the overall allocation of committees, where most legislative work is done. The administration’s the clear winner here: Enrile with Finance, Santiago with Foreign Relations and Energy, Gordon with Constitutional Amendments, Tourism, Codes and Laws, Angara with Banking as well as Agriculture, Lapid with Gaming and Amusements, Revilla with Public Works, Honasan with Public Security, Escudero has the very powerful Ways and Means committee (along with oversight committees on the Lateral Attrition Act, the National Internal Revenue Code and the Special Purpose Vehicle Act), has oversight over taxation, which will surely please his party chief.

All the other chairmanships seem peanuts compared to the ones the administration’s ended up with. And the ultimate message is, everything’s still negotiable, which is why the President can send out feelers like this: Arroyo calls all senators, not Trillanes, to meet. When you read news like this, Arroyo seeks Congress’ passage of 28 priority measures, compare the list of the President’s priority legislation, with the newly-announced committee chairmanships in the Senate.

Going back to Carandang’s opinion that Villar is the frontrunner, John Nery in his column, says he’s privy to the findings of a currently-embargoed survey, and the presidential frontrunners aren’t the ones widely reported in media:

The polling organization showed its survey respondents a list of six prospective candidates, and then asked, “Who would you vote for, if the elections were held today and these personalities were in the running?”

Of course, it is far too early to place bets on 2010, but it certainly seems like the moneyed rivals (and the real frontrunners on the list) have their work cut out for them. Image-building, party-building, alliance-building — that’s a whole lot of infrastructure investing.

Some interesting theories propounded by columnists today. For background, first see today’s Manila Times editorial and the entry The real story on the kidnapped Filipino technicians in Iraq in Uniffors; then go on to Tony Abaya, who says he’s convinced there was an American plot to oust the President, but that since then, Uncle Sam’s decided to live with her until 2010. Writes Abaya,

(In early December 2005, there was a story in media about 88 Filipino workers who were stranded in the Dubai international airport and could not proceed to Iraq, but refused to come back to the Philippines. They and the 51 workers Mayberry testified about – and possibly other unpublicized groups – may be part of what Madsen calls “low-wage slave trading in the Middle East.”)

Madsen says that the Arroyo administration banned the PPI… from further recruiting Filipino migrant workers for the Middle East after a Filipino was killed during a terrorist attack on Camp Anaconda in 2004.

…Madsen claims there is a connection between PGMA’s “ordering the repatriation of Filipino workers from Iraq and Kuwait, and the discovery that US Marine Corps and FBI spy Leandro Aragoncillo, a Filipino-American who worked as a Marine security aide inside Cheney’s office… who was arrested by the FBI last October [2005], had stolen dossiers from Cheney’s office that were considered damaging to Mrs. Arroyo.”

…The above means that the NSA was intercepting and eavesdropping on PGMA’s landline and cell phone conversations, and passing on the dirt to Estrada. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Hello Garci tapes were first made public by Allan Paguia, a “former” lawyer of Estrada.

The above paragraph confirmed what I have written several times, that the neo-cons in Washington, who are led by Cheney, wanted to see Arroyo removed from office, for (a) withdrawing the Filipino contingent from Iraq; (b) signing an oil exploration agreement with the Chinese on the Spratlys; and (c) failing to dismantle the Jemaah Islamiyah camps in Mindanao…

But after the Aragoncillo-Michael Ray Aquino espionage case was thoroughly investigated by the Americans, Estrada – considered the main beneficiary and financier of the caper – and Panfilo Lacson – the former boss of Aquino – have been dropped from the neo-cons’ short list of replacements for GMA, and the Americans have decided to stay with GMA until 2010, or until a suitable replacement can be found before 2010.

Which suggests, first of all, that the tapes were genuine to begin with, but also explains where they came from -returning to speculation at the time (2005) that the tapes were an American leak!

Incidentally, it’s also interesting to connect Abaya’s belief of continuing -but conditional- American backing, with Amando Doronila’s analysis of how panic-prone the administration remains:

The panic was triggered after Joachim von Amsberg told foreign correspondents prior to his departure as World Bank country director in the Philippines that the Arroyo administration’s failure to meet its five-month revenue target had put at risk its ability to sustain fiscal reforms and meet its budget deficit goals.

The warning so unnerved the administration that the panic it touched off has defined its policy responses and priorities since July. It has been responsible for a number of developments, including a clueless Cabinet reshuffle, an economic policy vacuum, and the loss of direction of the national agenda despite the blueprint set by the SONA.

Meanwhile, Ellen Tordesillas revisits a proposal that’s been discussed pretty widely for some time now (see my blog entry for June 22, 2007 for example, and Fr. Bernas’ July 2, 2007 column), that is, a grant of amnesty to put to heal the political divisions since 2001:

Lacson’s advisers said the opposition senator is amenable to sponsoring a bill granting amnesty to those accused of political crimes but they said they would have to be careful about its coverage including the cut-off date. They said JDV and Lacson may not have the same definition of “political crimes”.

The amnesty proposal is supposed to solve the political tension that has bedeviled the Arroyo administration since its start in 2001. Amnesty is an instrument of reconciliation as it erases the political crime of the accused even before conviction. It differs from pardon, which can be granted only after conviction.

Logically, those who would likely be included would be former President Estrada, son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and lawyer Edward Serapio who are awaiting the Sandiganbayan decision on their plunder cases; the Magdalo soldiers who staged the so-called “Oakwood Mutiny” in July 2003 that includes Trillanes; and the 28 officers led by Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda involved in the alleged aborted withdrawal of support from Arroyo in February 2006.

De Venecia has not spelled out details of his amnesty proposal but sources told us the cut-off date, presumably at the time of the filing, would in effect protect Arroyo and her associates from being charged with plunder and other crimes once she is out of office. That means she would be automatically absolved of the crime of betrayal of public trust for cheating in the 2004 elections and for diverting millions and millions of pesos for the people to her election fund. Same thing will happen to her accomplices like former Agriculture Secretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante.

Sources said the amnesty proposal is actually designed for Arroyo. Estrada, Miranda and Trillanes et. al. would just be collateral beneficiaries.

By the way, concerning Trillanes, the critical camp has its exponent in Solita Monsod; blogger Quixotic Kibitzer points out flaws in the arguments of those (including me) who criticized the court’s decision to refuse Trillanes permission to attend Senate sessions.

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  1. inodoro ni emilie

    “Law is supreme. even government itself must vow [sic] to the Law.”

    ano raw, jeg?!?

    isn’t it that the law is made for man, not man FOR the law.

    iba na talaga pag ikaw ay na exile sa matiwasay na buhay sa estits. nagbulagbulagan na sa mga pambababoy na nagaganap sa lupang hinirang.

  2. Devilsadvc8

    “devils, no leaders of the revolution? who are you kidding?”
    ah…me? you? everyone?
    “what are you gonna do with them, keep them outside just salivating for power and wealth?”
    no. we should keep them inside and allow them to turn into the new oligarchs just like the one we (if) fought to remove.
    “how many “maximus” (of the movie, gladiator) do you think you could find in philippine society. get real, buddy.”
    one. me. i could add you if you want to volunteer. you can keep law supreme at all times then.

  3. cvj

    but as you can see from our experience, peaceful struggle did us little good. the oligarchs still stole the victory from us. – Devilsadvc8

    I think a major part of our difference in views is precisely on how much good we’ve achieved during the last twenty years. If you look around, you will see that parts of our society are growing very fast (not only the rich but also the common folk). You only have to look at Eastwood City and remember how it was six years ago to see this. My niece is working in one of the Call Centers there right now and is now able to support her parents, both of whom are unemployed. (Before that, i used to help them through my mom.) Those are little gains (multiplied a million times) that are worth preserving.

    Whether a revolution is peaceful or violent, there will always be those who would betray it. It’s naive to think that this won’t happen even after the civil war.

  4. Devilsadvc8

    cvj, i understand exactly what you’re saying. since im younger than you, i dnt exactly have 20 yrs bet me to compare with what you have. i would’ve been jz 6 y/o 20 yrs ago and too young to remember how it was back then. the admin i remember distinctly was FVR’s. life was really easier. my father’s business boomed, and brownouts seemed a thing of the past. all the ominous signals we’re seeing now (power, water shortages) are unmistakable signs of how much this admin has mismanaged our country. my father has now closed shop, and went back to being an employee after being his own boss for years. he’s already past retiring age yet he cnt even do that since our social security system makes people insecure. he’s been paying the highest premium over the years but now he cnt even expect he’ll receive the right pensions or how regular it might be. one of my siblings was refused the proper discounts when she was hospitalized bec they say my father has stopped paying his premiums. but of course he stopped bec. he doesn’t need to remit anymore since he’s past 60 already! does that mean that after paying all those years all that he’s remitted won’t be given back to him or to his family? dnt get me wrong. our family is still better off compared to others. but that’s only bec my mom has been working abroad as a nanny and my sister has followed her there to work as a PT. i used to work as a call center agent before and that has helped to relieve some of the financial burden my mom and sister are carrying for us. working for foreigners showed me the great disparity of how they treat their employees and how Filipino employers treat theirs. my mom’s and sister’s experience has also shown us how many opportunities lie abroad while talented people rot here, condemned by a system not of their making. i think i can consider myself a patriot. i love my country, and i do my civic duties. i vote and pay the proper taxes. but where is the relief for me? im sorry, but no matter how great a patriot i am, the country (or rather it’s ruling elite) jz pushes me to leave it. i’ll go where i can make use of my talents to the full, and where i can at least expect a little social justice. if i get lucky and amass enough wealth, i’ll come back to oversee the overthrow of this unjust system.

  5. The Ca t

    Cat-cat, that’s not the way CA delivered his message if you have watched his interview. that’s a slanted interpretation of what has been reported.

    Thank you grd for pointing to me what he has said in the interview because I tried to look for the news where I read about it.

    Must be my ever suspicious mind that AC would not deliver as what he’s done before. All air.

    I also don’t believe that his being appointed as chairman of the blue ribbon comm did not have trade-offs.

    So if in the next few months, he is not very keen on cases involving the Palace occupants, you know that he living up
    to his reputation.

  6. ay_naku

    shaman, logical or not it is not Law. in our system, Law is supreme. even government itself must vow to the Law. your “stand” is fine but until it’s properly legislated and invested with the force of law, it remains a mere aspiration. and, ay-naku, you cannot dismiss law by labeling it “legal gobbledygook”. you can create your own law at your peril.

    Bencard, just as you keep saying to others here to stop putting words into your mouth, then please have the courtesy to do the same. Referring to something as “legal gobbledygook” isn’t the same as dismissing the law or creating my own law. Stop putting words into my mouth. I just meant that Shaman’s explanation didn’t have much legal jargon but made perfect sense to me.

    And when you said that “even government itself must vow to the Law”, well the GMA government has been castigated SEVERAL times by the SC for seriously overstepping the law.

  7. Bencard

    ay_naku, you stll haven’t got it, have you? time and again, i said in this blog that pgma has not culpably violated the constitution. she interpreted and applied it according to that interpretation. her actions pursuant to that application were VALID before they were invalidated by the supreme court. as far as i know, she has never defied or disobeyed a decision of the supreme court. has she?

    btw, one cannot explain law without “legal gobbledygook”. as i pointed out, shaman was not discussing an existing law. he/she was expressing a wish which you and he/her thinks “logical”. if you feel i put words in your mouth by interpreting your remark as dismissive of the law, i apologize for that misinterpretation.

    inidoro, a true and just law is not made by and for ONE man. it’s for all, man or woman, rich or poor, helpless or powerful, etc., collectively. law is the equalizer that sees to it that all persons are equally protected. remove the law and only the strong and powerful will survive in any kind of society.

    someone said that there are at least two sides to every issue and that one man’s justice is another man’s oppression. the law is there to settle the score, to weigh the merits of conflicting claims, and to see that the outcome is enforced. that outcome is not infallible but, in human terms, that is the closest thing to justice, isn’t it?

  8. inodoro ni emilie

    “she interpreted and applied it according to that interpretation. her actions pursuant to that application were VALID before they were invalidated by the supreme court.”

    it’s called buying time. in other words, this is what she practices: bastusin mo habang walang sisita.

  9. inodoro ni emilie

    and you call that good governance?

  10. Bencard

    sori, hindi mo pa rin maintindihan. i give up!

  11. ay_naku

    Bencard, I know all about the presumption of regularity. But that presumes GMA was acting in good faith in the first place. I believe she wasn’t. Her “interpretations” were malicious in the first place. She was clearly “testing the outer limits of presidential prerogatives and the perseverance of this Court in safeguarding the people’s constitutionally enshrined liberty. They are playing with fire, and unless prudently restrained, they may one day wittingly or unwittingly burn down the country. History will never forget, much less forgive, this Court if it allows such misadventure and refuses to strike down abuse at its inception. Worse, our people will surely condemn the misuse of legal hocus pocus to justify this trifling with constitutional sanctities.” (Quotes taken from SC decision on 1017)

    Sa pananaw ko, the GMA administration KNEW that what they were doing was illegal, but as Emilie said, they knew that it will take some time before the SC decides, and by that time huli na, nagawa na ng administrasyon ang gusto nilang gawin. The purpose of their misdeeds has been served.

  12. Bencard

    ay_naku,

    calling pgma’s actions “illegal” prior to being declared as such by the SC is downright presumptuous. with all due respect to the SC as a body, if that was not a ‘political’ diatribe by the writer of the decision you quoted, i don’t know what is. i don’t think it is proper for a co-equal branch in our tri-partite governmental system to use such kind of language against another branch in the discharge of the latter’s function as it sees fit. ascribing bad motives on the administration, in connection with 1017, was conjectural and speculative, a factual assertion that had no basis in evidence properly brought before it.

  13. inodoro ni emilie

    ay naku,

    take it from bencard. gma has an excellent battery of lawyers who can meander their way around technicalities to do things the legal way, even before the sc can snap them out of it. what this admin lack is a sense of decency and moral governance. and that’s pathetic.

  14. Bencard

    now that is a moral “judgment” coming from a prejudiced mind. that’s what is pathetic!

  15. inodoro ni emilie

    it is a judgement which is reflected in surveys–the wisdom of the crowd, atty, the wisdom of the crowd. prejudice mind, eh?

    so tell me, bencard, did you hear the bleating of the lamb?

  16. anthony

    Surveys and opinions of columnists regarding who is or will be the frontrunner in the coming 2010 elections is either all fluff or propaganda.

    It seems a lot of people are taking the Presidential Race too literally and are casting their bets on certain candidates as if it were a horse race or a beauty contest.

    Rather than think about who will most likely win, let’s talk about who is best equipped to SERVE the interests of the Filipino people. A lot of people keep on talking about WINNABILITY as if that’s all we should consider and that really makes for a patently barbershop style of figuring out which direction our country will take after 2010.

    Let’s talk about the would be Presidential Candidates in terms of VISION, in terms of EXPERIENCE, and in terms of TRACK RECORD… Which among them really has a plan to guide the country towards real progress? Which among them has consistently succeeded in turning things around as an executive? Which among them really has it in their heart to help our people and which among them have really done something lasting, concrete, and direct that enabled people to get jobs, help during calamities, business opportunities…

    I can think of only one man. His name ain’t manuel…

  17. anthony

    Surveys and opinions of columnists regarding who is or will be the frontrunner in the coming 2010 elections is either all fluff or propaganda.

    It seems a lot of people are taking the Presidential Race too literally and are casting their bets on certain candidates as if it were a horse race or a beauty contest.

    Rather than think about who will most likely win, let’s talk about who is best equipped to SERVE the interests of the Filipino people. A lot of people keep on talking about WINNABILITY as if that’s all we should consider and that really makes for a patently barbershop style of figuring out which direction our country will take after 2010.

    Let’s talk about the would be Presidential Candidates in terms of VISION, in terms of EXPERIENCE, and in terms of TRACK RECORD… Which among them really has a plan to guide the country towards real progress? Which among them has consistently succeeded in turning things around as an executive? Which among them really has it in their heart to help our people and which among them have really done something lasting, concrete, and direct that enabled people to get jobs, help during calamities, business opportunities…

    I can think of only one man. His name ain’t manuel…

  18. Bencard

    what survey inodoro? was tere ever a survey whether or not pgma’s governance is “immoral” or “indecent”? are you referring to survey of the anti-gma crowd, or placard-bearing ideologues which always find something wrong with any constitutional government?

  19. inodoro ni emilie

    “was tere ever a survey whether or not pgma’s governance is “immoral” or “indecent”?”

    i don’t know with you. why, was i referring to that? what i know is a trust survey was conducted, for which directly or indirectly–as any socioometricians will tell you–gets the issue of degeneracy of moral governance factored in.

    immoral and indecent, that was the about vicky toh and the boar. or erap and the harem.

    “are you referring to survey of the anti-gma crowd, or placard-bearing ideologues which always find something wrong with any constitutional government?”

    did you say the same thing of the marcos regime before you scampered in flight?

  20. Bencard

    “immoral and indecent”. so your basis is survey by implication, i.e. because one is not “trusted” by a majority, he/she must be immoral or indecent,huh? it is this kind of illogic that bolsters the hypothesis about pinoy/s simple mindedness (debated heavily in the succeeding thread).

    i left the country in early 70’s when i was starting a family. as i saw it then, the immediate future of the country was bleak because the main political protagonists were the dictator on one side, and the communists (of various hues of red) on the other. i couldn’t stomach both but i couldn’t fight them together either. i had to leave and hoped to fight another day.

  21. inodoro ni emilie

    the decency to honor promises in the grave of jose rizal.
    the morality to keep election results clean.

    “couldn’t stomach both but i couldn’t fight them together either. i had to leave and hoped to fight another day.”

    at edsa 1, i sang with my heart and mind this phrase: “di na ko papayag mawala ka muli”. i thought it hard, if there is anyone who should leave, it should be those balasubas leaders and not the people who remain to keep high hopes for their country. fight for it NOW bencard.

  22. justice league

    tagakotta,

    Thanks for the vid. I liked the original better. Though I noticed that your earlier link vid claims it was written by P.F. Sloan. I always thought it was written by Mcguire.

  23. justice league

    Ooopps.

    Maybe Mcguire’s isn’t original after all but I liked his version better than the Turtle’s or Dylan’s.

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