Impunity impresses

You can view last Tuesday’s (October 28) The Explainer on line on YouTube. Incidentally, apropos of the assertions made by my guest, former Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw, the son of former Senate President Jovito Salonga, Steve Salonga, sent me the following e-mail:

I viewed your program this evening with Tita Eva Estrada Kalaw and the NP youth as panel.

In the interest of historical accuracy, which I know is of utmost importance to you, may I say:

1. It is true, Tita Eva was guest candidate of the LP in the 1971 senatorial election, and won with the rest of the Plaza Miranda victims who swept that election.

2. However, she was certainly a Liberal Party member when she contended for the Presidency of the Liberal Party against Sen. Salonga. She, along with Evelio Javier, John Osmena, Lito Atienza, Lorna Verano Yap, Sally Perez and Art Defensor, stood for a party merger with NP President Doy Laurel who at that time had launched the UNIDO party as a merger vehicle with the LP. Sen Salonga opposed the merger and ultimately won the party presidency in a convention brokered by Judy Roxas. I was present through all this, though I can understand Tita Eva’s lapse of memory. It has been more than 25 years since and these are now all water under the bridge.

Thank you for a most entertaining show. I really appreciated your courtesy to Tita Eva despite your better knowledge of the actual facts and circumstances on the matter. Best regards and more power to you and The Explainer, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Steve B. Salonga

My column for today is Ambulance to St. Luke’s. Obviously, I think Bolante is malingering. Besides the tell-tale absence of an oxygen mask, scuttlebutt is that according to a stewardess on the flight, Bolante was quite jolly on the flight. Most telling of all has been the absence of a proper medical bulletin, which suggests the doctors who have to affix their names to any statement either found nothing wrong with the patient or are disinclined to lie to the public. The extent of their medical intervention seems to be administering Benadryl.

While the fate of Bolante’s interesting, the whole thing is a sideshow in a larger production; and the most useful approach to Bolante’s St. Luke’s confinement is how it’s related to the larger game plan of the administration.

Here, another St. Luke’s visitor comes in handy. When The President’s husband dropped by the hospital, the Senate sergeant-at-arms people denied he met with Bolante, even though the coincidence is just too delicious to overlook.

Chalk it up -Atty. Arroyo’s visit- to being a calculated act of defiance and contempt for public opinion. Who brazened it out? The President’s husband. Who fell over themselves observing and commenting on his visit? The country. Who, then, despite his enfeebled medical condition, is the man with real power? The President’s husband, not his critics all barking for Bolante’s release to a Senate uncomfortable with reviving old investigations.

Indeed, the whole handling of Bolante’s arrival should be viewed from our “malakas at mahina” culture. It was a naked show of strength, for a society that confuses impunity with either virtue or legitimacy. From the moment he arrived to the time he was whisked into his hospital suite, the executive department controlled the choreography of the whole event; the best the Senate sergeant-at-arms could do was tag along (as scornfully pointed out by Politicians are from Uranus), the best the media could do was scramble to keep up, the only thing the public could do was watch. No wonder A Simple Life can say it’s all a circus, pointing to the performing monkeys while ignoring the ringleader.

That same attitude was present in the way the Palace reacted to the members of the Catholic hierarchy that -sorta, kinda- lashed out at the chief executive and all her works in a press conference on the eve of Bolante’s return: Palace: Chacha answer to bishops’ call for change.

This was followed a couple of days later by the President’s ambassador-at-large, in his capacity as a big business pal of the President, appealing to the prelates not to rock the boat: PCCI’s Dee ‘scolds’ CBCP head .

After all, the Palace’s pals have every reason to want to the status quo to be preserved: there is so much yet to be engulfed and devoured.

Consider yesterday’s Inquirer editorial, Amateur hour, concerning the bid of San Miguel Corporation for the Government Service Insurance System’s bloc of Meralco shares. The whole thing’s something that The Warrior Lawyer tackled as well:

In a bear market, with stock prices tanking, why would SMC pay more than a 100% premium for a stake in Meralco ? Granted that it’s a block sale, but still, San Miguel could have gotten a better deal, and helped the stock market index rise, by buying over the counter. It would have given the market, and the economy as a whole, a boost at a time when it most needs it.

Many are skeptical, and see a political and financial motive behind the sudden sellout by the GSIS…

Indeed, many believe San Miguel was convinced or coerced, whichever, to play the role of white knight. SMC essentailly saved Meralco from the continuing take-over threats of Garcia. Malacanang appeared to have been a key player, as Garcia, one of GMA’s most rabid attack dogs, backed down immediately, although with his usual bluster. But the shotgun wedding of San Miguel and Meralco is a done deal.

The Lopezes need all the help they can get at the moment. In a two-part article in BusinessWorld (October 22 and 23 issues) Bernardo V. Lopez (no relation, I suppose) chronicled the travails of the teetering Lopez empire, which he predicts will go the way of Lehman Brothers due to over-borrowing and its foreign partners saying adieu. The Lopezes have been selling their businesses, even the more profitable ones, like the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) concession bought by Manny Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific, to raise cash. The family is not willing to hand over its crown jewel, Meralco, to the grubby paws of Mr. Garcia.

What’s in it for San Miguel scratching the GSIS’s back and vice-versa? The President isn’t the only leader gaming out multiple scenarios, all at the same time. While the name of the game remains constitutional amendments, some sort of preparations need to get started for the 2010 presidential elections if they take place.

Scuttlebutt is that in November, the results of an NPC-commissioned survey will be released, focusing on Senators Legarda and Escudero. In my Plurk timeline, I recently posted the results of a Pulse Asia survey commissioned by UNO:

Pulse Asia Sep. 27 (commissioned by UNO): President: Noli 19% Erap 17% Villar 17% Chiz 13% Loren 13% Ping 9% Mar 6%

Senators: Jinggoy 54% Mar 51% Pia C. 46% Bong R. 42% Drilon 40% Miriam 39% Recto 36% Jamby 35% Koko P. 33% Serge O. 32% Jun Magsaysay 31%

Sotto 29% Enrile 27% Gordon 24% JDV 24% Mike D. 22% Binay 20% Failon 19% Lapid 18% Pichay 18% Guingona III 17% Biazon 17%

Barbers 12% B. Fernando 12% Atienza 12% Satur O. 5% Casino 3% A. Tamano 3% L. Maza 2% Harry Roque 1%

The above is interesting because it puts forward the UNO list of prospective candidates and/or those it considers the ones to beat.

Patricio Mangubat says Bolante’s (and the Palace’s) options are two:

Two things going for Bolante–either do a Neri or do a Lozada. Should he choose to do a Neri, he may be casting his lot with a Godmother whose term ends one and a half years from now. His insurance policy has an expiration date of 2010. He may enter into a compromise agreement with the new administration, which may involve biting the hand that fed him. Should he decide to stick with his co-mafia members, most notably the First Golfer Gang (FGG), he should be ready with his millions to massage the irate public and those who handle his cases. Otherwise, he may be in for a lot of trouble and possible long jail time.

Or, he could do a Lozada and possibly escape detention by doing a Chavit. This can only happen if those groups (read: civil society and other democratic forces) succeed in ousting Gloria before 2010. The reversal of his fortune depends on the success rate of civil society’s anti-Gloria campaign. These groups should do their thing quick; otherwise, Bolante’s incarceration is just a phone call away. The head of the FGG will just order his functionary at the Office of the Ombusman to write a warrant.

No coincidence, then, that the Ombudsman has suddenly expressed interest in Bolante’s case: Ombudsman gives Bolante 10 days to file counter-affidavit. There you go.

And in the end, it’s the waiting game that serves the Palace’s interests best. It’s been carefully nurturing the impression it’s push to amend the Constitution is unstoppable; therefore, nothing should derail it. It couldn’t control the timing of Bolante’s release from jail; it can orchestrate when and how he eventually offers up his “testimony.” As disapolitikal put it,

Constant distraction provides a dark refuge to those who have embraced the darkness.

And the dark cloud, for now, is looming Charter Change.

Overseas, these reports brings me to a theme I’d like to return to at some future time. We aren’t alone in having an overaged, over-cynical, political class going great guns to maintain the cozy status quo, and cheering them on are the very, very, many who are dependent on them. See Malaysia’s Sclerotic Political Reality and Indonesia at the Crossroads (Sigh) Again and for comparison, The X Generation Arrives in Taipei.

The political representatives of Generation X, here at home? Chiz Escudero, Mike Defensor, Teddy Casino. ‘Nuff said.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

14 thoughts on “Impunity impresses

  1. FG Arroyo’s visit to St. Luke’s reminds me of Tessie Oreta’s dancing at Erap’s trial. It’s like spitting at our defeated faces.

  2. it’s really difficult to examine a guy feigning illness. more often than not, doctors do a battery of tests as in executive check-ups.

    it’s almost day 2 of the doctors’ fishing expedition on the joke:

    ALL NORMAL…save from the ordinary findings seen in an aging individual.


    nothing beats a stress test prior to an interrogation test (if ever the question hour pushes through). remember the stress on norbertito during the venable days?

    well, a banana saved the day for him. it would probably be practical (as the palace hopes) for bolante to stock up on bananas. it will help plug his mouth…


    it’s fg’s rehabilitation day…that’s according to him…it’s as if everyone will believe him.

    well, anyway, the “mum’s the word” instruction need not be done face-to-face. would you think they haven’t communicated yet through other means?


    rumor has it that the joke, while in prison, forgot NOT to stoop down for his soap. it’s probably advisable to also check the rear opening aside from the gastroscopy that they will do tomorrow.

    well, that’s probing the bolante…literally. (oh, how the senate envies the docs. the sen-ey-tors haven’t decided yet which committee will probe the joke!)

  3. Manolo:

    The Arroyos are well known for their arrogance and “in-your-face-moves.They have nothing but disdain for the common folks.

    Remember this line? “Even I have Missed One Meal In The Last 3 Months!” Gloria Arroyo (Actual Quote).This was right after the SWS’ involuntary hunger survey last year.

    Do you also remember the classic “Ramdam n’yo ang Kaunlaran”?

    To The Arroyos:

    Kami ba’y tunay mong nararamdaman?

    Kailan mo kami mararamdaman?

    Are You Dense?

    Are You Clueless?

  4. Joc Joc Bolante:The Rotary 4-way Test or Omerta?

    Will Joc Joc Bolante Bolante,a prominent Rotarian AND the architect of the Great Fertilizer Scam pass the Four Way “Rotary Test” of Truth

    Or will Joc-Joc Bolante observe the time-honored Omerta code of silence of the Pidal Clan to protect Jose Pidal,his bosom buddy?

  5. It’s amazing that GMA is wasting time and resources on Bolante but only paying lip service to the coming recession.

  6. Yesterday the Federal Reserve in an unprecedented move opened a currency swap agreement with four emerging bank economies. Singapore, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil. The IMF also announced a facility with minimal conditionalities for other emerging markets that they deem to be worthy.

    The financial crisis that originated in the U.S. has obviously now migrated to even well off economies.

    Here the BSP has cajoled the banks to temper their dollar speculating that is causing the peso to drop in value as quickly as it has.

    It is surprising that this piece of amazing news was relegated to a small mention in today’s business papers.

    Imagine that Singapore was running out of dollars.

  7. Donald Dee of the publicly funded PCCI under Big Mike and GMA is the attack dog of the royal couple in the Palace.

    Under the royal couple they wrangled a public stipend through the registration of all inbound manifest at customs for which they charge a fee.

    Magaling na operator si Donald Dee noon pa after he took over his embezzler’s brother’s position in the corridors of power in 1983.

  8. Palagi na lang, everytime crooks get in trouble they go to a hospital. Yes, they are very very sick.

  9. it seem’s that no matter what we do Joc Joc will not gonna say anything against PGMA. It would be probably the best to have the sanate issue an arrest warrant, or be place in sanate house arrest.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.