What the opposition and the administration are doing right now is nothing but plain gang war.
In this type of conflict, there are no ground rules. The row is no-holds-barred and the protagonists are locked in mortal combat.
First, there were those bogus cards that circulated prior to Christmas in 2001 with a cryptic message.
Second, was the machete-job done on Secretary Gabby Claudio. A criminal complaint was lodged against him by a non-existent complainant for maltreatment arising from a sexual contract with a sex worker. The complaint was caught by the media, where the unidentified complainant was even interviewed by a TV field reporter. The print media, no less than the Inquirer, blared the news front page.
Third, was the much ballyhooed privilege speech of Senator Lacson punctuated by a power point presentation showing a Chinese woman in the company of the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo purportedly taken abroad. The phrase “alam ba ni mrs. ‘toh” spread like wild fire that even MacDonald adopted it in its advertisements, “gusto ko ‘to.”
Fourth, the opposition presented several witnesses detailing the sins of the First Gentleman. There was that Odong Mahusay (who testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that FG was the Jose Pidal subject of the Lacson’s later expose), Sgt. Doble (who gave the information that he personally took the bugging operations on the first couple, Jueteng-gofers Garcia (pointed to FG as the Lion King of Jueteng and his congressman-son Mikey as the Hakuta Matata), Boy Bicol Mayor, and Sandra Cam, and several others.
The administration, as illegal head butt recipient, flexed its muscles. No doubt the administration is physically fitter than the fragmented and schizophrenic opposition.
Now, it’s payback time.
There’s no doubt on the authorship of the above dirty tricks. As the late Dean Tony Coronel once quipped on his cross-examination of Cory Aquino in People v. Beltran, Soliven, et al., “if you can dish it, sure you can take it!”
One by one, the opposition’s bombshell witnesses fell by the wayside. First was Odong Mahusay who was taken in a dramatic rescue by Secretary Defensor from Senator Lacson’s safehouse somewhere in Tagaytay. Then there was that flip-flopping Ador Mahinay who first fingered opposition stalwarts and later on recanted his testimony and then again concentrated on Lacson. What followed next was the recantation by Jueteng whistle-blower Garcia who made a yet another dramatic turnaround on TV complete with bawling bout. Rose Bud Ong nearly gave FG a dose of his own medicine when she threatened to bolt from him for failure to make good a promise of P3M as upkeep fee. Sgt. Doble flew from the coop of the Makati Mayor Binay and perched on the government’s side. The Makati Hizzoner now faces illegal detention raps. Not far from the horizon are the plunder cases documented by Binay’s nemesis, Bobby Brillante. The prospect of Erap having board mates in his Tanay private detention center in the persons of the Spouses Binay is not farfetched. The running joke on the crib and the stroller meant for GMA nonetheless fit the conjugal team.
Under these circumstances, someone from the opposition just couldn’t take it anymore. He had to make public the bugged conversations between the President and a Comelec official. There is no doubt as well on the logical authorship of these wiretappings. Under the rules on circumstantial evidence, the first question to be asked is who has the means, opportunity, and motive. Clowns after clowns claimed provenance of the tapes, until the public got sick of it. Since the contents of the tapes were sewer, the public was uninterested on how they came about. GMA’s handlers thought best to leave the tapes as they were, since initiating prosecution on violations of the Anti-Wire Tapping Law would only highlight their stupidity.
Nothing mysterious on the tapes’ authorship. With a budget of P500M a year, the ad hoc PAOCTF of Lacson, circa Erap, certainly had the wherewiththal to embark on the project. How about the undisclosed sources for the funding of the outfit’s unofficial operations? Remember that Lacson had an announced policy of “no take” from jueteng operators, yet, donations in kind for the maintenance of the agency were not implausible.
As PNP chief, was Lacson paving his way for a crack at the Presidency? He has lots of admirers in the Fil-Sino community. His stint as POCTF and PNP top honcho has certainly given him headway from the other contenders. His election as senator was a breeze. His campaign monies flowed out of his ears.
When GMA announced in Baguio that she was no longer interested in the Presidency in December, 2002, Lacson lowered his guard. What followed was one full year liberation from gutter politics. On the sideline, Raul Roco became an attractive alternative. At one time he inched GMA in a SWS survey. Ping Lacson, on the other hand, was making himself media savvy.
Then it dawned on the opposition that they were being set up. Fawning local officials started sending telegraphic messages that they want GMA to run again.
The opposition was frantic. Naisahan tayo, ika! From its ranks no one could confront the sitting president mano-a-mano. Its leadership ignored Roco and Lacson. It trained its sight on the late FPJ.
The rest was history.
In the deep chambers of GMA’s dirty tricks department came the consensus that the tape conversations must be met by a bogus exchange between GMA and a subaltern in First Gentleman’s special operations group. Thus they came up with the CDs held aloft by no less than the press secretary claiming to the world that they were the real thing.
While making the announcement that the other guy on the line was not a certain Garci Garcillano but one Gary Sy from the FG’s staff, Bunye was telling the other side, “kung gago kayo, mas gago kami!” These are the tricks unscrupulous lawyers do, in these parts, just to win a case for an equally unprincipled client whose only aim is to win at all cost.
In another spectacular tit-for-tat, the PNP raided the safe house of ballot expert Tabayoyong and carted away valuable evidence. No amount of obladi-oblada could deflect the fact that the mastermind on the disappearances of Garcillano, DA USec JocJoc Bolante, and DA Secretary Lorenzo points at the person who would be most benefited by them: motive, opportunity, and means. When these vital witnesses or accused vanish and out of harm’s way, the possibility of them turning into a state witness becomes nil. The disappearing acts are nothing but simple obstruction of justice.
Now the people look in disbelief on these two contending forces whose agenda is anything but the people’s welfare.
During Erap’s time the foulest murders took place: the disappearances of Bentain, Bubby Dacer and his poor driver. Killing a person and dumping his body somewhere is the meanest dirty trick ever. What the opposition is doing right now against the GMA administration is patsy compared to what it apparently did when it was in power. It looks like the worst is yet to come.
In the meantime, the people are in the dark. These same brawling parties are right now in the middle of a recipe on how to stay in power.
The Business of Con-Ass
By getting the required majority in constitutional change, we are now in for a big surprise.
The administration think-tank is now deep in time-and-motion study on how to ram the switch from presidential to parliamentary. Proponents of the constitutional convention alternative are now deep-sixed.
The Media is part of the conspiracy
Even the media has lost its interest in the con-con alternative. Some publishers and columnists were already bought by the government with government positions.
The wife of Max Soliven is a presidential adviser on some esoteric matters; Alex Mango is a sitting DBP director; the ambassadorship to a European country was recently withdrawn from Amando Doronila; the husband of the Inquirer’s publisher is the president of the mining companies association and is in constant contact with the father of the Secretary Defensor, the redoubtable Congressman Mat Defensor who never won an election prior to his son’s stint as DENR Secretary. With the government’s bent on reviving the billion dollar mining industry, publishing becomes merely a hobby. The Meralco of the Lopezes is assured by the ERC, an agency under the Executive wing, of its rate-increase petitions.
Looking at the constitutional modification, the men who couldn’t be presidents are now convinced that the change is now inevitable. “Strike while the iron is hot”, one southern congressman remarked. Not only that, by co-opting the Palace, the possibility of government service until their senility looms in the horizon. Slugging it out with Noli de Castro leaves them only black and bruised and poorer. Whereas, by agreeing with the FVR-brokered constitutional assembly, they remain assemblymen, with the inchoate right of holding departmental portfolios. It’s the best of both worlds: they still enjoy the perks of an assemblyman and by being difficult, Drilon, Osmena, Joker, Vilar, Roxas, Gordon, and the rest, the portfolio bait is appropriate. This is not to mention the prospect of being chosen as the Prime Minister.
Danding and Cory
Danding Cojuangco is deafeningly silent. A big part of his party goes along the FVR scenario. Being the father of two congressmen, Danding may even target one district in Metro-Manila and gun the premiership. Mark Jimenez got one by dispensing one sack of rice per household every month. As San Miguel Corp.’s president, Danding has at his disposal an array of product lines ranging from ice cream, chicken, canned goods, seafoods, etc.
The dynamics of the current conflict left Cory Aquino and her group marginalized. Death was Cardinal Sin. If Cory goes to the streets in protest of con-ass, expect the demons of vilification trained against her. She would be labelled as nothing but a trouble maker, just like what she did when she went to Malacanang and asked GMA’s resignation.
It’s just a matter of time when all the constitutional changes are approved by the unprincipled Congress, and tabled by the corrupt Comelec for ratification. Conspiring “ethical” legislators, knowing how the numbers fall, would suggest that they be lumped with the nays where their votes don’t matter anyway. That way they keep their image intact.
The Supreme Court to the rescue?
What about the Supreme Court? Any questions about the constitutionality of the amendments thru con-ass would pass the constitutional noses of the jurists. Remember that the high court is now packed by GMA’s appointees. With the departure of Chief Justice Hilario Davide, there are only a couple of hold-outs in the high tribunal with the same mental frame as the retiring chief. Next, our best bet in the highest court is the appointment of the first woman Chief Justice, Consuelo Ynares. The administration’s track record of politics first before good governance is in keeping with the pick of Ynares. Three things: Ynares becomes the first woman Chief Justice of the world; she comes from a politically-charged family of Governor Casimiro Ynares, whose son Casimiro, Jr. occupies the LLDA portfolio notwithstanding the photo-op of Casimiro, Sr. sending Erap off to Hong Kong for the latter’s knee fix; and, generally, a woman is more grateful than a man.
Appointment to the judiciary is no longer on merits but on personal and political connections. Getting into the JBC short-list is now like winning in preliminary lotto. What with hundreds of applicants lining up. Being picked eventually by Malacanang is like winning the Lotto Gordo of Spain.
Stories have it that prior to a high court appointment, Men in Black descend the residence of the appointee for signing a devil’s contract. Notice that no jurists in the calibre of civilist Ruben Balane and Dean Raul Pangalangan were ever named in the Supreme Court. The economist sitting President has no love lost on the high tribunal. FVR, Erap, and GMA, non-lawyers all, detest the aura of the high court by packing it with mediocre jurists. Cory Aquino’s term was the watershed of the best appointment to the Supreme Court owing to his great respect to the late Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee who administered her oath of office in Club Filipino at the height of EDSA I..
The reverse was shown by GMA however. While she took her oath of office during Edsa II before Chief Justice Davide, no doubt an outstanding jurist, and the Supreme Court eventual validation of her ascendancy to the Presidency, her subsequent appointments to it betrayed her perception of the high court.
GMA is a believer of the FVR doctrine: enjoy your retirement assured with the thought of the protection of your own folks.
LESSONS FROM GERMANY
FVR and Speaker Joe de Venecia are right now too silent on the German experience. While FVR was recently in Germany and had acquired first hand knowledge on the events there, nothing was said about the difficulty encountered by Angela Merkel in forming her new government. Three months after the elections, Germany has yet to form a new government. In other words, it was near chaos in that European country after the elections thanks to the well-entrenched bureaucracy.
Can the same resiliency be said of the Filipinos? With the inane intramurals within the major political parties like Lakas and Kampi, imagine the scenario where Pimentel’s PDP-Laban, Danding’s NPC, Marcos’ KBL, the Red’s front groups squabble for a new government under the parliamentary set up. The more this country bogs down in endless politics, what with the stake of holding power in dual capacities? Pork in both worlds.
Merkel’s party inched only a couple of seats the party of the sitting Chancellor Helmut Schroeder and they were at odds on how to establish the next administration. Schroeder believes that Merkel’s party failed to get a mandate to lead.
In this country, the lead of one million votes by the winning candidate is miniscule and enough to paralyze a government. And now we want a parliament?
Take your pick: either we are spectators to a raging riot between Binay & Co. and Bunye & Co. as the reincarnate OXO-Sigue-Sigue and the Bahala na Gang, respectively; or, we are sandwiched between two thieves exhorting each other to return their loot.