The week ahead

With the return of the President, it’s open season again on her administration, after the informal lull in political intramural activities that happens whenever a President goes to represent the country abroad. Max Soliven crows that tomorrow night, he’s having a special on ANC where the President will chat about how she spent her New York City working trip. He also lets loose this juicy tidbit regarding Sec. Arthur Yap:

For a guy who had quit the cabinet two months ago, then been suddenly asked back by the President, Art Yap is a ball of fire. He not only balanced out “preparing” for our TV interview with the Chief Executive, with helping out in Haydee’s funeral arrangements – hope the two functions aren’t inter-related – but he still found time to check out with me some military intelligence reports which disquieted him (they had been passed to him for evaluation before being transmitted to GMA).

So for those into Palace politics, is Sec. Yap poised to overshadow Sec. Mike Defensor? (Incidentally, Babes Romualdez recounts how Max Soliven also tried to help the late Fernando Poe, Jr., but he thinks, to no avail).

This week’s top stories:

1. That darned, mysterious deal

Newsroom Barkada asks what the big deal is with the lobbying contract signed by Sec. Norberto Gonzalez, and the Inquirer editorial answers his question. Except that the issue’s academic now because the contract has been rescinded. Questions will continue to be asked, though, not last because this yet another case of the one step forward, three steps back, who knew what was going on style of the administration, which has caused it so many problems in the past.

2. Them thar Yankees

Later this week, too, the United States will lob a grenade in the form of revealing who might have benefitted from espionage activities by Fil-Ams in the States. Tony Abaya has a pretty well thought-out view as what the Fil-Am espionage case is really about:

[T]his espionage affair could become embarrassing not only to the “three Philippine officials,” presumably from the opposition, who will soon be charged by the FBI for conspiracy, but also to the highest “Philippine political leaders,” presumably including President Arroyo, who are indubitably analyzed and weighed in all brutal candor and warts-and-all honesty in these highly classified assessments meant only for the eyes of the highest US government officials…

…Because governments, especially the American government, do not make these moves without a reason and without having evaluated all the possible consequences, it may not be far-fetched to conclude that this is going to be a Big Squeeze. But from the information at hand, it is not yet certain who is or are going to be squeezed the hardest, until his or her eyeballs pop out of their sockets…

It may be significant that the FBI will not start to divulge the details of this affair until three days from now. By that time, President Arroyo will have concluded her chairmanship of the UN Security Council Summit in New York.

If my reading is correct, the Americans are gallant enough not to embarrass her by spilling the stinking vomit of Philippine politics on her lap while she is hobnobbing with the most powerful men in the world. But after three days, who knows?

Incidentally, the Inquirer headlines the details of what one of those leaked documents might have been (Federico Pascual recounts how former president Estrada showed him documents, too).

3. House party

The House is poised to try to bring impeachment back from the dead.

4. The economy, stupid

The President retracts her previous statements (which were, however, recorded on tape and made to American businessmen), and says VAT is a go; the Senate may not agree; Rep. Joey Salceda, in the House, also doesn’t agree. There’s apparently confusing news: the BIR overstated its collections while the Central Bank says the balance of payments is good. What gives, since, if Ricky Carandang is correct, the fiscal crisis isn’t dead?

There’s that debt relief plan initially thought up by the Speaker, and pitched by the President, which the Star says has been hailed; economist Go Figure analyzes the whole thing (and read his entry on measuring the wealth of nations).

Interesting Readings Department:

Stepping on Poop on Opposition Dysfunction and Revolution as Religious Revelation. Torn & Frayed compares President Arroyo to President Nixon and suggests parliamentary government isn’t such a good idea for us. Abe Margallo muses on where People Power has gone, while Sylvia Mayuga basically asks the same question but from a different paradigm. Newsstand is bothered by Randy David’s historical revisionism.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

25 thoughts on “The week ahead

  1. on a lighter side…i always watch Jay Leno every damn night and there was this joke on his monologue about Pres Bush writing Sec Rice a note asking if he could be excused for a bathroom break…moreover it was during a meeting on the UN Security Council wherein GMA was residing over the forum…i was waiting for a punchline that may involve our politico (just like what Letterman joked about during the Papal Visit et World Youth Day in 95 wherein Ramos would impossibly get as many votes as those who joined the great mass of the pope in luneta est at 3 million)…ito talaga si bush oh (and he said he had this great respect for GMA when he visited the country)…do you its a sign that America is losing its “trust” in the leadership of the administration???

  2. jay, check the news. there’s a huge crisis in confidence in Bush now because of Hurricane Katrina. Both the Republicans and Democrats are mad at him.

  3. i was watching CNN the other day and yes i saw BUSH’s confidence vote plummet because of his “mismanagement” of the hurricane crisis (and FEMA misjudging the totality of the situation)…sabi nung mayor ng new orleans nagbingi bingihan daw yung federal agency ng state nila sa totoong sitwasyon na nangyayari…that points out definitely to the center of geovernment and its leadership…

  4. watching BBC (dateline london – which i think you are watching too right now)…one of the guest spoke on how the indecisiveness of Bush has made America sliced into two (much more the division between the liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans)…parang dito na rin ata ang nangyayari or nauna pa tayo

  5. GMA being compared to Nixon is sort of a retro..Nixon was villified in his time but years after he was better appreciated even by Clinton and was even given an honorable burial..Now maybe the Macapagal and Marcos era might play itself all over again with the help of the media and the leftists who have spilled so much poison and negativity…Do you know that the people are so depressed that they want to leave this country with all these awayan and bangayan…they will not complain if all these channels will be closed and shutdown because they are so sick and tired of it. We should also all learn when to shut up…the tipping point is near but it is tipping on the side of the players who are vicious but silent.

  6. gma can never be nixon. she does not even know who she is anymore. when i look at her, i see a morph of fvr and bush. marcos, in fact, has a better chance of having his bust erected in luneta someday. when marcos left, many were genuinely saddened. there were loyalists and people whom he has helped in his twenty years of power. even among those who agreed with edsa i, not a few could be heard saying that they still had faith in marcos (the person) but the state was no longer in his hands. since he left, from an all time low, the marcos name has actually been on constant rise. the reasons are various but nonetheless all these are already apparent (but perhaps misappreciated) then. in gma’s case, there is absolutely no basis to elevate her as a hero in the future because nothing now is hers. if this cha-cha later proves to be good for the nation, all praises will go to fvr. maybe some people will look back to gma’s past to search for a redeeming deed but there is none there either. in nixon’s case, honor did not wait for decades to be bestowed. his acts had no need for any fermentation period. he was already being praised while leaving the white house for not abusing the all powerful executive power and thereby preserving the independence of institutions in the us govt.

  7. re your column in inq7 of sept. 19, your favorable view of erap is a product of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. it is also tainted with your family’s relationship with his.
    i cannot totally agree with your view that gma’s tenure is worse than erap’s.

  8. Manolo, I never liked Dubya and have always been amazed at how he even managed to win. But through the years, I have realized that his political strategists have been thinking out of a box. They are way ahead of everybody in spotting trends and push-button issues. And they have sustained and nourished a very loyal core of supporters. It is this core of rabid Republican voters, the religious right, that makes Dubya such a formidable politician. On a personal level, you may not think much of him. He is not smart (Jay Leno portrays him as a dunce), not a policy wonk, not even good-looking (reminds me of Alfred E. Newman). He is the antithesis of Bill Clinton. But he doesn’t have that many rough edges either, unlike Hillary Clinton for example, so he sort of comes across as an amiable stooge. Having a base of loyal voters who turn out to vote, gives Dubya a big edge over any opponent. The Democrats have an edge with the minorities, but these are unreliable because few turn out to vote.

    With all the trashing Bush gets from Iraq and, recently, Katrina, his core remains loyal. He knows that, given time, he can soften or turn around the others. This is very likely once reconstruction of the Gulf Coast goes into full swing. Then Bush’ numbers will improve.

  9. ricoj, while you may have a point, it is pathetic that in the Philippines we have to compare who is worse instead of who was better.

    It is also sad that, in most surveys, Ferdinand Marcos consistently comes out among the best Presidents we ever had. He did have formidable attributes. There is no doubt about his intelligence and leadership capabilities. He could hold his own, perhaps even outshine, other leaders of his time like Lee Kwan Yu or Mahathir. But what Marcos didn’t have was a sense of morality and patriotism. He destroyed the moral fabric of the country and corrupted all sectors of society. From the masses to the military to the business class. This damage is so profound that we are still reeling from it.

  10. VAT : the Joey Salceda vs. GMA good cop bad cop routine.

    The SC lifted the TRO on Vat so Salceda had to take over.

    The Salceda scenario didn’t appear out of nowhere. It’s nothing new. It terrified Gloria but the VAT was one of the pillars of her economic program so she couldn’t turn around like it was some political promise to retire from politics.

    In comes Salceda to the rescue.

    Gloria says she respects the Congress as co-equal and she won’t and doesn;t meddle in their affairs. That’s the endorsement of the Salceda resolution. That’s the signal to the House and Senate.

    Why is there no one in either house opposing it ? Because it’s not only the correct political thing to do, it also makes economic sense.

    So why the VAT in the first place? Maraming utang na kailangan bayaran at kailangan pang utang ulit. So the VAT was the answer to the inevitable question of creditors about how she was going to pay her existing debts and future borrowing.

    The choice for Gloria was no Vat no new money or VAT some money and a lot of angry people. Which do you think she would choose?
    Salceda of course.

  11. i will get hurt by e-vat but i’m not complaining!
    i think it’s the politicians who are really worried because they are thinking about the votes and not about the long term good for our nation.
    is democracy all about popularity or doing what is right even when it hurts?
    do we really want everything for nothing?

  12. manolo, read your article today about erap.
    all i saw was a good person(and we need more of them).i’m sure the estardas love you to bits.i also saw that our culture values family relation very much, maybe sometimes to the point that we can lose objectivity.
    some of our cultural traits have been a hindrance to getting to the bottom of things and have also caused corrupt acts to happen.
    but pls. explain to me how can a wealthy popular person not be able to prove his innocence in all this time?
    is he waiting for something?
    are condition in time and the law related?
    how can we respecte him if he did not care to respect the votes that he got because he considered his friends & family more important?
    are you saying that we must respect people who leave by “alak, babae, sugal”?
    are we creating new standards on who to respect?
    his having his day in court, what is he doing about it?
    I know thathis lawyers are doing all the possible delaying tactics.If his innocent than why can’t they go fast forward?
    yes our constitution has lots of defects, but should we not be more concerned that popularity alone be not the bases to elect a president?
    we all know those who supported him wanted to use him.FPJ was more blessed cause God took him away from the “bad” company he kept.
    we all know that he was voted upon for the most ridiculos of reasons:like chosing a bobo as compared to those intelegent people who did not get us anywhere.
    erap was not completely tanga.he managed to make big bucks in a short time.
    it’s frightening who are the characters society admire!
    manolo, just asking objective questions.
    i used to work in media when he was a senator.i would point my camera on him catching him asleep.never thought he could be an asset for the country,look where he is now?

  13. your column today at the inquirer rightly points out the painful reality of double standard. Despite the obvious violation, gma was not impeached. On the other hand the impeachment of estrada was trigerred only by the testimony of chavit and his story of jueteng payola.

  14. i was never a fan of the late “strongman” makoy (and i never had the chance to experience his liderato since i was born 1980 although i reached his malacanang sojourns)…but from what my previous teachers and professors told i got to know how he run the country…magaling daw talaga siya at si imelda daw ang nakadagdag sa PR ng administrasyon niya…but there is an extremely gigantic BUT…like all the great “administrators” of the past makoy succumbed to one erroneous ideal… POWER DRAINS THE SOUL…and if you succeed too much…ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY…and so history wrote

  15. Erap was not about Jueting and two people it was about stealling money from the people as in the Lucio Tan Tax. Millions were taken from different sources and the proof was there in writing. Unlike the Gloria Jueting case which was just people telling stories. No bank account information.

    Much more was there and remember Dacer….. No we cannot bring him up as that then implicates Lacson and others who are now embroiled in another crime.. The only difference now is it it the US coffers that will be used and used effectively to remove and imprison certian individuals..

    In the US it takes alot more than money and power to get past the Federal Authorities Look at bush’s aid who got caught giving informantion on their CIA spy to the reporters..

    We also have to remember that it is the US that is always asked to help find someone this country wants, If you rub the genie out of the bottle dont expect him to always to give you exactly what you want. This time they have clasified information which could lead to uncovering Spys here or not really Spys but informants if that information gets back to to NPA (Also wants GMA out) or other groups then people could end up dead. The US must act to protect their information, and assets.

    Just the amount of money owed to the US and their banks is enough for them to be interested in the recovery of this country enough but not fully so as we dont become an Argentina, but not good enough to have the Peso recover to a rate where items purchased here or people start to return from the US to work here…

    Look at china people are returning to china to work there and it is causing an imbalance in US and China Relations, Because they are taking with them technology and advances to make China even more competitive than the US is..

    They do not want us to stop paying but also later on become the Pearl of the Orient again, also we fighting with China and other countries about the OIL and Resources under some islands, They really do not want to lose that to China so they need us more in the future than anyone realises…. Do you think China will really let Japan Pump the Oil they have started to Test for.. No way, a couple of well aimed misiles and japan will give up the rights to the oil fields to China, It will be to costly for Japan to Fight for it even with US help.. It really is not much oil there..

    Think of it they have 1 Billion People who if they walked on rafts across to Japan they could not stop them, They dont even have enough bullets to shoot each one once…

  16. I agree with joey, Manolo is too soft on Erap. Maybe personal relationships and Erap’s charm smoothened some of the edges. For one, I can’t accept that Erap wasn’t a hypocrite. How can you claim to be one with the masses and lead a life of excess and debauchery? Johnny Walker Blue, bacalao and Chateau Petrus were daily fare to Erap. Those are way, way beyond the masa’s means. Not to mention mahjong games where one wins more than P50 million or “balato” to friends of P1 million each because of a good afternoon at the mahjong table. I can’t be convinced that Erap was sincere about being one with the masses. It was all for show.

  17. joey, carl, read my article again. erap is obviously sympatico, but he threw away his presidency. he didn’t fight to keep it, and only made noise after. the government did him a favor by giving him a second lease on life by arresting him the way it did -it helped propel his wife and son to the senate. by now his trial should have been over, with a verdict, but we all know the process was delayed by both sides. finally, erap represents the appeal of a particular kind of person to the masa -the person, or leader, who reflects many of the values and behavior they prefer (gambler, drinker, womanizer, generous with friends) in this he was sincere, and he is sincerely adored by his supporters. this is also why the upper class always hated him, he came from their ranks, but refused to keep his sins private. and in the end, you have to think: despite his being such a bad president, why do people seem to like him more than a president ten times smarter, a hundred times more hardworking? well, one reason is maybe the lazy guy didn’t have to steal an election.

    just remember, i do not regret being at edsa dos. and i stand by my view, that the targets of people power yesterday, cannot be the beneficiaries of people power tomorrow, which is perhaps one reason why we don’t have people power today.

  18. I never liked ERR-AP and the way he ran [or did he?] the country when he was sitting as President. Evenm when he was a senator, he just made so many palabas. He must have done something good in SJ, though. But that is that.

    In my mind, the only thing that makes ERR-ap a nitch higher than gma is that he was duly elected President of the Republic while gloria is a fake from start to finish.

    ERR-ap ERRed from Day one, when he did not address the needs of the people but instead focused on his ABS [ALAK-BABAE-SUGAL]. How then can you respect a man like that? I don’t even want to call him a man; RESPECT is earned, sweetheart.

    He professed by his [in]famous “ERR=AP PARA SA MAHIRAP” lines…but spent thousands for wine alone, while doing nothing for Juan-de-la-Cruz who lives in their shack along the riles.

  19. Jay, Marcos was “magaling daw” in running the country? I doubt it. Here’s what the US Embassy in Manila sent back to the Department of State IN 1974 about him: “The ideological momentum of the New Society is fading. Crime, except for murders, is on the upswing…All signs point to a quantitative and qualititative increase in corruption…The momentum of martial law reforms appears to be dissipating. Energies first used to put the house in order are now partly being used to feather the nests of privileged persons.” (MNL A-416, 13 December 1974, p. 2, 9, 11, as quoted in by David Robert Greenberg in his dissertation “The US Response to Philippine Insurgency,” Tufts U Fletcher School, 1994).

    This was 2 years after Macoy declared martial law. Your teachers were unfortunately wrong.

  20. The part about the double-standards is plausible. People were too ready to jump on Erap, perhaps because they saw how ostentatiously he lived and how he didn’t give a damn about perceptions about his work ethic. He was deliberately thumbing his nose at the middle and upper classes, to my mind, unnecessarily. This was partly Erap’s hubris.

    I was recently shocked to hear Teddyboy Locsin say on ANC that he regretted voting for Erap’s impeachment. The vote to impeach Erap was done in haste and not well thought out. Emotions had ruled over reason, or so Teddyboy now says.

    As for stealing elections, I still believe FVR stole the 1992 elections from Miriam. But FVR pulled it through because he was more deliberate and efficient at consensus-building after elections. He also carried himself with great confidence, never dithering unlike GMA. He also didn’t leave tell-tale pieces of evidence lying around.

  21. thank you for the comment jojo but i think your misinterpreted the idea…it wasnt just the martial law times that was included in my rappor on makoy…i summized that part later on my comment pertaining to absolute power and the emergence of distasteful cronyism…makoy (according to some of my reading) was generally an excellent administrator (until the time he got dumb and made his dictatorship to oligopolistic practices)…and would you believe that US statement concerning his “liderato” when in fact it was after martial law and he was losing grounds on the trust of the US itself (it was well known fact that the Yankees pulled support from makoy almost at the start of his Martial rule – fearing the same thing that happened once when the US supported Batista in Cuba and then somewhat Castro)…

    on erap…i think he owed no one…that the reason why when he went for the dive he did not go into a blazing glory…but still he stunk as a leader…bakit po kamo???…he let others run his important affairs (and yes the jueteng payola was the catalyst of the movement – with the added drama of the impeachment proceedings)…i was in college back then and fortunately i was one of the first ones on edsa that fateful night (although we went home after some hours because we had class the next day – that being the reason that we were in a public institution and we were actually forced to come to school)

  22. Thanks for the response, Jay. But I still do not think Macoy was ever an able administrator. Already by 1969, the economy was showing signs of deteriorating and he worsened it by emptying the national coffers in order to win re-election. In the early years of martial law, roughly around, 1975, he and his frat buddy Roberto Benedicto concocted the idea of withholding sugar supply to the world market in the hope of getting a higher price only to see the world price collapse. The country was left with tons and tons of sugar, and basically set the stage for the massive poverty that hit Negros in the late 1970s. Marcos also thought that by expanding the AFP, he could deal with the MNLF war. That did not go well too. And who can forget the shady Bataan Nuclear Power Plant? The cronyism was already there — but so were the inefficiences.

  23. Yes Manolo, I did read your article more than once, trying to understand why you wrote it.I also admit that it’s well written.
    I understand what you where really pointing out was the our electoral system. The runoff thing you mentioned.
    I really thought that was kinda a late in this moment in time.
    yes he was sincer, maybe it’s also why he does not feel any rumors.
    we have to be careful of what “sincerity” must be.
    Sincerity means admiting onces incapability & being man enough not to accept any responsibility one is not capable to perform.
    We all know what was behind the minds of the people who supported erap!
    And erap was not stupid to miss the chance of making big bucks!

    Why the poeple like him or love him is the most nakakatakot of the electorate.
    That is why I think the runoff election thing was something we should have adapted a long time ago but now it’s to late.
    A Parlamentary system to avoid & isolate that leaders be elected for the starngest reasons.

    Manolo,sometimes we can be a very dreaming & wishing society. I don’t think that we are even a very thinking & resoning & logical society.That is why when things go wrong they are major.
    Manolo, we are a divided society between the so many that want to move on & prosper and the other part who want to leave in dreamland of heros & idols. In a way erap is the symbol of the masaas fantacies
    I bet that an unfavorable judgment on erap by the courts will be another major gulo again.
    But the question is do we want to be rules by emotions & feelings or by the rule of law.
    I think that in society there are those who are supposed to know better.I think we must be aware of the feelings of people but also be couragous enough to draw lines.

    elections in this country are being used as a tool of “blackmail” Politicians can be elected because they will protect an electorates “lil world” that although may be illegal or has consequences to society as a whole are given a blind eye.Doing what is right is impossible!!!

    Manolo we have to be very clear in the terms we use. we must have high standards or else we won”t get anywhere.
    That is why I’m so critical about buklod or ridiculos witneses. because there is no such thing as obtaining quality from “damaged goods” & unclear definitions.
    Manolo,I’m sure the quality of your writing is about thinking hard, having read so many important authors & i’m sure you do not compramise for the things that will do u good.People only read & admire your articles but it never crosses their mind what it took to get where you are.
    If only people look deeper & not just on the superficial things we will surely have less problems.

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