Thanks, But No Thanks

We just have concluded the 2007 elections, with some dangling participles still to be fixed. While some operators are on the job doing cosmetic surgeries, the main point man and the face of GMA, Secretary Mike Defensor, has just conceded. The gesture has let off some steam and might look like a telegraphic directive on the ground to stay where they are until further notice, still the senatorial bets he sandwiched with the tail ender Koko Pimentel have no comment. Miracles happen a thousand times in a third world country.

SENATOR ANTONIO TRILLANES

With just three opposition candidates who failed to make it and those who mattered figured in the massacre, the people have sent their message loud and clear.

With the specter of Senator Antonio Trillanes looming like a giant in our political landscape approximating the feats of Latin American leaders with military resume, it appears as the beginning of a new chapter in our history.

Trillanes personifies the people’s aversion to the political gobbledygook our leaders for the last decades mouthed to sooth ruffled volcanic sentiments. Deep in our collective spleens, we have that uncanny feeling that our leaders are out to screw us.

Jamby Madrigal hit the right chord when she said that with the entry of Trillanes in the Upper Chamber the people shall see the beginning of genuine people’s welfare advocacy. In the attitude problem department, Trillanes should quit outdoing his nemesis, GMA.

While we see the reelection of the Senate stalwarts like Loren Legarda, Ed Angara, Joker Arroyo and others, it pales in comparison with the message of revulsion the people expressed vigorously when they elected Trillanes.

Trillanes’ election in the periphery added the mystic and magic of his persona. His 11th slot gave him the appearance once more of a shipwreck survivor hanging for dear life. Coupled with the pencil and paper counting stretching out months from election day, the people with bated breath wait in suspended animation duplicating a reality TV show.

DEMOCRATIC VALVES

The recent elections prove that the constitutional valves are in place. When the Supreme Court struck down the charter change rigmarole as unconstitutional, the furor of pocket rebellions died down. Once more, the flu-like election virus afflicting the country proved to be another effective valve. We are again glued to the boob tube awaiting the final tallies from the perennial slow poked south.

The sluggish tabulation once more adds billions to the media coffers. No election has made an impact as this since the incarceration of Ninoy Aquino. With Trillanes prevailing, the rosy economic performance of the GMA regime is muted. It’s their job anyway. Back to square one, the people continue to root for the underdog.

THE USEFUL IDIOTS

For the last six years we see the spectacle of the palace Rasputins mouthing well-crafted adverts for a statement. All presidents surround themselves with lightning rods. This is another testament to the unwritten power of the executive. Useful idiots are constitutional valves.

To GMA’s apologists, she looks near perfection.

We get accustomed to a freshly barbered Ed Ermita. Nobody misses the ala Humphrey Bogart’s spiels of Toting Bunye. No one sympathized with the hypertension stunts of Norberto Gonzales. And the disappearing acts of Davy Jones look-alike, PAGCOR Chairman Genuino. These are the faces of GMA for the last six years. These men thought they got the people by the balls. They have the privilege of ubiquity, the logistics, and the attention of Ben Abalos, for example. Brandishing these pieces from the armory, they deployed their progenies and protégées in the local posts. The current status symbol now is no longer a well-appointed manor, or a fleet of luxurious cars, or a trophy wife. Public service becomes a political destiny. Kamukhang kamukha ni Gob, ika, pati pagsasalita….With their surrogates in local positions, at least their retirement is assured.

GENERAL EDUARDO ERMITA

Ermita, the control freak, schemed to grab Batangas by the neck. He gargled the political soirees in Batangas insuring first that they were supportive of the palace. He boxed out the opposition in his vote-rich province. Two years before the 2007 polls, he made sure that the cash-rich Governor Sanchez toed Ermita’s line. His alliance with the notorious governor spelled potential revenue for 24 months. At least his two descendants, one an elected congresswoman, moved freely (in its true sense of the word) within Ermita’s territory. The governor bankrolled the projects of the Ermitas. On the side, he was a Merlin to the obnoxious Ricky Recto, feeding the latter with fodder for the Ombudsman. He assured the elder Recto of air-tight corruption case against the jueteng lord. With the latter suspended, Ricky Recto is the acting governor until the wee hours of May 14, 2007. With the prospect of P1B IRA and P1B local taxes, Recto is assured of buying the souls of the Batanguenos. But this scenario tanked because Sanchez bought a TRO.

But there are empty rooms in Batangas still spacious to operate on. Ralph Recto, in his early forties, is a threat to Ermita’s children. He was not afraid of the Rectos, in fact he was heard saying, Rectong malabnaw, a play on the old joke that Rafael, Ralph’s father is the Rectong hindi Claro. Nobody from among the progenies approached the brilliance of Don Claro Recto, a fine specimen of the Batangueno, who was born in Tiaong, Quezon. The young Rectos were put in place by the magic of show biz, Vilma Santos-Recto, a Bulaquena.

What to do? Inveigle the suckers to run simultaneously as governor and senator. Ermita knows down his pelvis that Team Unity is into extinction. There certainly would be survivors but one of them won’t be the author of the expanded value added tax. He factored in the sector that has aversion to dynasty. There would never be a husband-senator and a governor-wife. But he egged on the chin-chopped husband to announcing in Pampanga no less the fielding of his wife Vilma Santos as an alternative to the gambling king. Like a compliant client, the sitting senator dug his grave.

Ermita’s game plan is simple. With the husband out of power, and on the road to self-destruction as stage-partner in Batangas, his son Edwin is ripe for the picking as Governor. Edwin ambitioned to be governor once but one Mandanas skinned him alive.

Ex-governor Antonio Leviste, the estranged spouse of Loren, was not part of the Ermita equation. In February, 2007 he stood accused of gunning down a fellow Batangueno and confidant, a certain de las Alas. Murder most foul the tabloids shrieked. Tony Leviste claimed self-defense and pointed to a cocked 9mm in his minion’s possession.

The Batanguenos have peculiar fascination to a gun-slinger, the modern day balisong-wielder. A balisong or any weapon for that matter is part of the household of a Batangueno. Think about a Samurai without his katana.

Without exception, fire arms are discharged in festival abandon in every Batangueno celebration. In the annals of criminal law there is etched the balisong mind. A young Jose P. Laurel stood accused of attempted homicide for stabbing a rival to his inamorata. The case reached the Highest Court where the future President was exonerated on the basis of passion and obfuscation. Laurel went on to become a legend in his province for walking around town carrying his cojones.

Another story repeated in Tanauan was the similar bent of the son, Speaker Pepito Laurel. In an oral argument, the opposing counsel called Pepito, busisi or binabae. The future Speaker pulled out a Llama and shot dead the adversary point blank in the presence of the judge. The Laurels went on to rule the province and the nation for decades. That family taught us what the word bang-aw meant.

With the balisong mentality deeply engraved in the old man Laurel, he went on to write the majority decision in People vs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, et al. where he acquitted the young Marcos of assassinating Julio Nalundasan on September 20, 1935 under the mist of one early morning. Laurel understood the turmoil besetting the boy of witnessing the insult hurled against his father, Mariano, by his perennial political rival. The father lost in all his attempts to unseat Nalundasan as assemblyman of the Ilocos. The last election was unforgivable. The elder Marcos once again miserably lost to Nalundasan. Triumphalism got the better of the latter. He paraded with his supporters what appeared to be a coffin with the name Mariano on it. The message was clear: that was the end of the political career or of what remains of it, of Mariano. That, from Laurel’s viewpoint drove the young Marcos to homicidal insanity, understandable by the cultural and familial standards of the day. Dangal ang nakataya. The discredited state witness testimony was rejected. Marcos walked a free man.

Where the killing happened in another province, no Leviste in his right mind would put his head on the chopping block. But Governor Sanchez knows the intestines of a Batagueno inside and out: he convinced the son of Tony Leviste as his running mate. And so it was: a Sanchez-Leviste tandem versus Santos-Ermita. Subliminally what was painted was a true blooded Batangan team against a carpetbagger duo. Leviste was an attractive and true Batangas choice. In his veins runs the true utak-balisong blood, while that of the young Ermita, the cholesterol of Balayan lechon, courtesy of the Palace. The control freak lost control and in the dying counting days it was Edwin Ermita who cried failure of election. The Comelec believed him. In this state of affairs, the entire province is breathing down the neck of the father who claims no hands in the Comelec petition.

This time, the secret oracion of the elder Ermita proved a dud. He loves to recount the counsel his father gave him whenever he reaches a crossroad in his career. His father told him to visit the graves of his forebears at 12 midnight armed with only one candle. “Keep the candle alit, get down on your knees, and asked them their blessings.” Ermita said, that without fail, he rose from the ranks each time obeying his father’s reminder. When he ran as congressman in Batangas, a virtual unknown, he was seen entering the Balayan cemetery at midnight. His son Edwin, come election time, is a graveyard habitué as well.

In the end, the Ermitas would relent knowing that a sore loser in Batangas is anathema to the balisong mindset.

EX-MAYOR TOTING BUNYE

Running in Muntinlupa, this man blared the catchy slogan Basta si Toting, Magaling. He lost his magic in his territory. He wanted his daughter, the First Gentleman’s lawyer and high-caliber associate of the Firm, to run as congressman. He did not want to take chances with the Biazon bulldozer. Toting was decimated in 2001 by a minuscule 2000 votes. Nothing was heard from Toting, except disbelief from his Alabang supporters.

The entire ticket of the local slate in Muntinlupa identified with Bunye was wiped out. Dong Puno ran along side the wife of the outgoing Mayor, Jimmy Fresnedi the erstwhile vice mayor of Bunye when he was the local chief of Muntinlupa, only to be bamboozled by the reelectionist scion of Senator Pong Biazon.

SECRETARY BERT GONZALEZ

Norberto Gonzalez, the very visible National Security Adviser and prime mover of the outrageous Venable contract, cried a river over the loss of his daughter in the congressional race in Bataan. Gonzalez accused the local police, ironically under his clout, of political bias.

PAGCOR CHAIRMAN GENUINO

Salivating at the P10B annual revenue of Makati City, the Chairman of PAGCOR let loose P2B to challenge the Binay monolith. The investment was paltry given the pot at stake. Imagine controlling the combined revenues of the gaming corporation and the Philippine prime city. Filipinos look in awe at men with cash oozing from their ears.

Six months prior to elections, Genuino gathered a ragtag team composed of Lito Lapid and the detritus of Makati politics. P1B for each congressional district was allocated where one Genuino son pitted against a Binay daughter. Another son ran for the city council gunning the senior councilor, i.e., getting the highest number of votes. Plan B is to topple by legal means the tandem of the elder Binay and his vice mayor. Ergo, a Genuino ascends the city hall as Hizooner.

Stories fly in Barangays Palanan and San Isidro where the elder Genuino was summoning the local leaders to see him at Makati Shangrila Hotel where he holds fort. Funds by the boxes were moved from one room to another. Shame however consumed the local leaders. Ten days into the campaign the Binay camp spread the rumors that those who were called by the Chairman were bought out and out. The buying spree boomeranged. Nobody responded to the calls except the rotten. Mga bulok ika ang nakuha.

The ink in the order of suspension hardly dried up when it was served on the diminutive mayor on the eve of the elections. Obsessing manic control, the Genuinos miserably lost in all fronts. Time to account the provenance of the campaign funds. The BIR has no records of the deep pockets of the young Genuinos.

We felt relieved when these useful idiots went kaput.

BIBINGKA IS SERVED

The trouble with our democracy is we are cooked bibingka style: flame over and under.

In Makati its electorate was sprayed with P3B from the local revenues by the Binays; whilst the Genuinos, another P2B from the casinos. In one LGU alone, P5B flooded the streets enough to make an intelligent choice. Lito Lapid did not spend a dime in his forays. One local leader was aghast when Lapid treated them with inanities like, “masarap na ang buhay kong senador, subalit dahil hibig kong mag-lingkod, bababa ako bilang Mayor, abe.”

Binay on the other hand strutted like some King Arthur out to protect his Camelot, courtesy of his taxpayers.

No wonder our economy grew by 6.9%.

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