September 2009

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

Now that Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gilbert” Teodoro Jr has been selected by the Executive Committee of Lakas-Kampi-CMD (PaLaKa) as their party’s presidential candidate, the battle royale between Teodoro and Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III begins. Teodoro and Aquino are second cousins and belong to the rich and powerful Cojuangco clan of Tarlac.

I had an opportunity to talk to Teodoro in 2003 during the State Dinner at Malacanang Palace honoring then President George W. Bush during his State Visit. I was seated next to him and we chatted for a while. A bar topnotcher in the Philippines and a member of the New York state bar, Teodoro and his wife were residing permanently in New York when his uncle Danding Cojuangco asked him to go back home and enter politics. He said that he wasn’t particularly interested in Philippine politics but his uncle persisted and in the end he prevailed.

In 1998, Teodoro ran for Congress under his uncle’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and won. He served three terms until 2007. He was Danding’s favorite nephew then and was, at one time, his “political heir.” Teodoro became the leader of the powerful NPC bloc — with more than 60 members — in the House of Representatives. That was then.

In the same year, Aquino was also elected to Congress under the Liberal Party. Like Teodoro, he served three terms until 2007. In 2007, he was elected to the Senate for a six-year term. Aquino held several leadership positions with the Liberal Party. He is currently serving as the party’s Vice Chairman.

In 2007, Teodoro accepted Gloria’s appointment as Secretary of Defense. He left the NPC and joined PaLaKa several weeks ago. Speculation is rife as to who would Danding support between his two nephews. A news report said that Danding’s son Mark Cojuangco indicated that his father would not support either Aquino or Teodoro. He said that Danding is committed to support NPC’s presidential slate. Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is presumed to be the standard bearer of NPC.

If Danding would indeed support Escudero, it would split the Cojuangco clan between three candidates: Aquino, Teodoro, and Escudero. With this scenario, Gloria would presumably get behind Teodoro while Danding would stick it out with Escudero.

But First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and Danding have interlocking business interests. And since politics and economic interests are intertwined in the country’s political culture, Danding and Mike — and Gloria — would somehow have to agree whom to support in order to protect and preserve their economic empire.

It is interesting to note that prior to Teodoro’s selection, Gloria had “anointed” Vice President Noli De Castro to be the standard bearer of Lakas-Kampi-CMD (PaLaKa). But De Castro declined because he viewed it as a “kiss of death.” That was his official explanation. But does anyone believe that De Castro would really be scared of “Gloria’s kiss of death” — concocted by a journalist — and abandon his presidential ambitions? A few days ago, I received a reliable but unconfirmed “scoop” which alleged that the real reason why De Castro withdrew from the presidential derby may have been that Sen. Manny Villar offered him P1 billion to withdraw from the race.

Being the cold-blooded Machiavellian operator that she seems to be, I would not be surprised if Gloria would abandon Teodoro, secretly, and support Escudero, secretly. If that would be the case, then the Arroyo and Danding Cojuangco business conglomerates would be protected and preserved should Escudero win. But can Escudero win with the Arroyos, Danding, and possibly some of the Marcos and Romualdez cronies bankrolling his campaign? Absolutely. However, Escudero’s problem is that he is perceived as too young to take over the presidency. And this could scare his backers, including Danding, from supporting him and, thus, abandon him.

And should Danding abandon Escudero, he’d most likely get behind his erstwhile “favorite nephew,” Teodoro. The Arroyos would most likely follow suit and Gloria would then try to put her army of shady election operatives working overtime to “improve” Teodoro’s one-digit popularity ratings, and engineer his victory in the same manner that several of Gloria’s generals did for her, as exposed in the celebrated “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal during the 2004 elections. For Danding and the Arroyos, it’s going to be all or nothing… and a win, it must.

It is interesting to note that Teodoro is perceived by the people as an “elitista” while Aquino is not. Teodoro’s political handlers tried to shake off Teodoro’s “elitista” image by giving him a “common tao” moniker — “Gibo” — to replace his elitist-sounding nickname, “Gilbert.” They tried very hard to make him appear like the late president Ramon Magsaysay, whose “common tao” persona endeared him to the people. His campaign slogan “Magsaysay is my guy” caught fire and he won by a stunning landslide.

Aquino, however, has been “Noynoy” all his life. He has a guy-next-door personality that could easily win the people’s trust and admiration. So far, he has been successful. Since he entered the presidential derby three weeks ago, his initial popularity rating was 50% in Luzon and 33% nationwide, a feat that Villar, the early front runner, would have difficulty overcoming. The question is: Can Villar recover his lead and beat both Noynoy and Gibo?

The battle, as I see it today, is down to Noynoy and his cousin, the newly minted “Gibo.” After his selection by PaLaKa, Gibo said that “he would make use of the achievements of her (Gloria’s) administration in pushing his platform of governance.” Huh? With 60% poverty; 40% of the people hungry; 30% of adults unemployed; Gloria tagged as the most corrupt president in Philippine history; the Philippines labeled as the most corrupt in Asia two years in a row and among the 10 most corrupt countries in the world; and unabated extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, does Gibo know what the real state of the nation is? Or, does he just want to believe every word of Gloria’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) as the true state of the nation? If that was the case, then he hasn’t really come out of his sheltered life and ventured into the slums and barrios to feel the pulse of the “common tao.”

Sen. Mar Roxas, Noynoy’s vice presidential running mate, spoke on behalf of Noynoy (to avoid direct confrontation this early with Gibo) and said: “Sen. Noynoy does not want the crooked, the wrong. He does not want mulcting and plundering. So, he will do what is straight and true. That’s their difference.”

Indeed the difference between Noynoy and Gibo is as wide and deep as an ocean. Their battle will be “common tao” vs. “elitista,” change vs. status quo, democracy vs. kleptocracy, and people power vs. oligarchy.

Finally, the 2010 elections will give the people — the common tao — a grand opportunity to vote for the change they have been dreaming about… and hoping for. Or, would they, once again, fall prey to the empty promises of those who want the country to remain in the deep abyss of poverty and corruption … and perpetuate in power those who have plundered the country in the past nine years?

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

After Prez Gloria Arroyo “anointed” Veep Noli De Castro as her PaLaKa’s standard bearer, Noli viewed it as a “kiss of death” and decided not to run for president. Then presidential wannabe Manny Villar offered Noli to be his vice presidential running mate and Noli said “No” as well. My investigative reporter James Macaquecquec heard an inside story that the reason Noli did not accept Manny’s offer was because he viewed Manny’s offer as a “kiss of doom.” Which is worse, death or doom? It’s no wonder that he’s considering going back to broadcasting where all he has to do is read the teleprompter and smile.

Noli’s departure was a plus for Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro who had been asking Gloria to give him a “kiss” for sometime now. Finally, after getting Gloria’s belated “kiss of death,” Gibo said that Gloria’s anointment is not really a “kiss of death” but a way to Nirvana. Hmmm… If I remember it correctly, you have to die first before you can go to Nirvana. Does Gibo know that?

Gibo said that he “would make use of the achievements of her administration in pushing his platform of governance.” Now, that is really scary!!! After nine years of corrupt government we’re going to elect someone who would do exactly like she did? Heaven forbid!

Gibo should be admired for his optimism, though. In reaction to his low ratings in recent political surveys, he said, “It’s grim, but it’s not the grim reaper yet.” A news report says that a new survey showed his ratings starting to rise. Well, from .02%, Gibo should be able to catch up with his cousin Noynoy’s 50% by 2016.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. urged Gibo to distance himself from President Arroyo to ensure his victory in 2010. Bongbong, son of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, said Gloria’s would be the “kiss of death” for Teodoro’s candidacy. Too late, Gloria already smacked Gibo with her deadly kiss.

With the “kiss of death” mania dominating the political landscape, I asked James to report other incidences of the deadly kiss. He said that Bayani Fernando is afflicted with a mutant “kiss of death” which made him hallucinate that he’s the best candidate for president. Okay, okay! He’s the best, but can he win?

Another victim is Erap Estrada. This is time it’s Sen. Ping Lacson’s “kiss of death,” whose privilege speech in the Senate linking Erap to the Dacer-Corbito double murders a decade ago is causing a tsunami in the political landscape. Bongbong Marcos abandoned him and went to Villar’s camp hoping he’ll be on Manny’s senatorial slate. Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay abandoned him and he now wants to be Villar’s vice presidential running mate.

But here is the stinger: The word is that Villar is considering the “master of all clowns,” Willie Revillame of Wowowee fame, for his running mate. Wow! Could you imagine if Manny and Willie win? They’d be known as the Re-Villar-me Duet and would turn Manila into the circus capital of the world. Ka wawa we!

But Willie said he’s not sure if he’d run because he’s scared. When asked why, he said, “I am afraid that I will win.” Boom tarat tarat!

Villar must be on cloud nine right now. Yesterday, Sen. Nene Pimentel endorsed him saying: “If he wins the presidency, he will not be indebted to wealthy families who usually fund the campaigns of other presidential candidates.” Villar will be funding his campaign with his own money, so he’ll be indebted to himself, right? So far he’s spent P500 million already and the campaign has yet to begin! Does that mean he’ll repay himself if he wins? Hmmm…

Chiz Escudero might drop out from the presidential derby because of the rumor that he is Gloria’s “secret candidate,” which if true would be a “kiss of death.” Chiz is now believed to be considering running for vice president, probably under Manny Villar or… even Gibo. Why not? He knows that he can’t beat Noynoy Aquino for “Numero Uno” but has a very good chance of winning for “Numero Dos.” Well, that’s better than going into limbo.

News Item: “TV host-actress Kris Aquino has sold her and James Yap’s house in Valle Verde with the entire proceeds going to her brother, Sen. Noynoy Aquino’s campaign kitty.” Well, she can rent an apartment for now until she moves to Malacañang Palace on July 1, 2010 when she becomes First Sister.

Gloria’s cabinet members have started jumping from Gloria’s sinking ship. First Foreign Secretary Albert Romulo’s endorsement of Noynoy. And next was Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III who announced in radio interview, “my sentiments are for Noynoy.” Rumor has it that a lot of Gloria’s cabinet members would soon come out openly for Noynoy. Okay, folks, it’s “balimbing season” once again. Noynoy’s bandwagon is filling up pretty fast. I wonder how many of those “balimbings” would apply for cabinet positions in the Aquino administration? So far, there is Romulo and Bello. There’s plenty of room folks. Get on board! But pleeeeze no generals.

News Item: “Sharon Cuneta Declares Support for Noynoy-Mar Ticket.” At the rate celebrities are jumping into the Noynoy-Mar bandwagon, Manny Pacquiao might be the only celeb left to support Gibo. With Pacquaio going to earn P1 billion from his forthcoming fight with Miguel Cotto on November 14, Pacquiao might just buy himself a congressional seat in Mindanao.

Gloria has to be very careful with Pacquiao’s “star power.” With the possibility of both of them running for Congress next year, and assuming both of them would win, Pacquiao could easily beat Gloria for the position of Prime Minister if Gloria succeeded in changing the constitution to a parliamentary system next year. Gloria shouldn’t be misled by Pacquiao’s innocent grin — they didn’t call him “Pacman” for nothing. “Prime Minister Dr. Manny Pacquiao” has a nice ring to it. I’m sure that Jinky Pacquiao would be tickled pink to become First Lady.

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

For the past three generations, the Cojuangcos have been at war among themselves. First the sons, then their grandchildren, and now their great grandchildren. It all started about money and now it’s all about power and the ultimate political plum — the nation’s presidency.

It all began when Ko Guiok Huang, an ethnic Hakka from Fukien, China, emigrated to the Philippines in 1871. He converted to Catholicism and Hispanized his name to “Cojuangco” adopting Jose as his first name. The newly minted Jose I Cojuangco then moved to Paniqui, Tarlac where he started his businesses. He prospered as a rice merchant, sugar mills owner, and money lender.

He married Antera Estrella from a wealthy family in Malolos, Bulacan. They had three children: Ysidra, Melecio (Melencio), and Trinidad. Ysidra and Trinidad were spinsters; however, Ysidra had a love child, Felicidad, reputedly with the revolutionary Gen. Antonio Luna.

Melecio Cojuangco

Melecio entered politics and became town president of Paniqui and was eventually elected as a representative in the National Assembly in 1907. He was married to Tecla Chichioco and they had four children: Jose “Pepe” Sr, Juan, Antonio, and Eduardo “Endeng” Sr. Melecio died in 1909.

Melecio’s four sons went into business with their aunt Ysidra and established the Paniqui Sugar Mills in 1928. A few years later, they ventured into stock brokering and established the Finance and Mining Investments Corp., in partnership with the Jacinto and Rufino families. By the 1930s, the Cojuangcos were the biggest land-owners — tens of thousands of hectares — in Central Luzon. In 1938, the Cojuangco, Jacinto, and Rufino families founded the Philippine Bank of Commerce, the first bank in the country wholly owned by Filipinos.

Jose “Pepe” Cojuangco Sr.

Pepe entered politics and was elected to the Philippine Commonwealth Legislature. In 1958, he bought the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita, a sugar plantation and golf course complex, from the Spanish company Tabacalera. The vast hacienda — second largest in Central Luzon — encompasses 11 barrios in three towns in Tarlac. Pepe was married to Demetria Sumulong, daughter of Sen. Juan Marquez Sumulong. They had eight children: Ceferino, Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, Carmen, Corazon “Cory,” Jose “Peping” Jr, and Maria Paz.

Cory was married to Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr who was the son of Sen. Benigno Aquino Sr from Concepcion, Tarlac. In 1983, Ninoy was murdered by military assassins as he stepped down from an airplane at the Manila International Airport upon his arrival from self-exile in the U.S. Cory went home to pick up the pieces and led the opposition against Marcos. She was elected president in a “snap election” against Marcos but was denied the presidency. In 1986, a “people power” revolution erupted, the Marcos dictatorship was toppled, and Cory was installed president.

Cory passed away on August 1, 2009. Her passing ignited the people’s desire for change and a clamor for her son Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to run for president engulfed the nation. Noynoy accepted the call and is now the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.

Cory’s younger brother Peping also entered politics and was elected mayor of Paniqui in 1959. In 1961, he was elected to Congress and served until 1969. After Marcos was ousted, he ran again in 1987 and served until 1998. He is currently the President of the Philippine Olympic Committee. In 1992, his wife Margarita “Tingting” de los Reyes Cojuangco was elected governor of Tarlac. She served until 1998.

Eduardo “Endeng” Cojuangco Sr.

Melecio’s fourth and youngest son Endeng was married to Josephine Murphy. They had six children: Eduardo “Danding” Jr, Mercedes, Aurora, Isabel, Enrique “Henry,” and Manuel. Danding entered politics and became congressman and governor of Tarlac.

Danding was nicknamed “Pacman” and “King of Cronies” because of his ability for gobbling up companies. During the Marcos regime, he controlled $1.5 billion in corporate assets which was estimated to equal 25% of the Philippines’ GNP.

When Marcos fled to the U.S. after his ouster, Danding went with him and settled in Los Angeles. Eventually, he went back to the Philippines. In 1992, he founded the Nationalist People’s Coalition and used it as his vehicle to run for president. He lost. He is now the Chairman of the San Miguel Corporation.

Danding’s sister Mercedes was married to Gilberto Teodoro Sr. He served as Social Security Administrator from 1966 to 1986. In 1978, during the Marcos dictatorship, she was elected member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa (National Legislature). Their only son Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr, a bar topnotcher, is now the Lakas-Kampi-CMD’s presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.

The rivalry among the Cojuangcos started between Melecio’s sons, Jose “Pepe” Sr and Eduardo “Endeng” Sr. Pepe was successful in politics as well as in business. Endeng was said to be resentful of his brother’s success and felt that he was ill-treated.

Political Rivalry

Their political rivalry reached fever pitch in the 1960s when Pepe’s son, “Peping,” ran for Congress against his first cousin Danding, Eduardo’s son. Peping beat Danding twice, in 1965 and 1969. In 1987, when Cory came to power, Peping defeated Mercedes Cojuangco Teodoro, Danding’s sister, for a congressional seat and Peping’s wife Tingting defeated Henry, Danding’s brother, for governor of Tarlac.

In the 1990s, the rivalry continued. In 1998, Gibo Teodoro succeeded Peping who was termed out of his congressional seat in Tarlac’s 1st district. In 2007, Gibo termed out also and was succeeded by his wife Monica Prieto-Teodoro. Consequently, Gibo left his Uncle Danding’s Nationalist People’s Coalition and accepted an appointment by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Secretary of Defense.

In 1998, Noynoy ran for the congressional seat in Tarlac’s 2nd district and won. He was reelected in 2001 and again in 2004. He served the House as Deputy Speaker from 2004 to 2006. In 2007, Noynoy was elected to the Senate for a six-year term. Noynoy held several leadership positions with the Liberal Party. He served the party as Secretary General from 1999 to 2002, Vice-President of the Luzon Liberal Party from 2002 to 2004, Secretary General again from 2004 to 2006, and Vice Chairman of the party from 2006 to the present.

Battle Royale

Now, a battle royale looms between the Cojuangcos — Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III vs. Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr — for the highest position in the land, the presidency. While there are other candidates in the 2010 presidential race, Noynoy and Gibo represent not only their feuding families but also rival political forces as well as competing economic interests. The stakes are high.

Never before in the history of Philippine politics had two presidential candidates attracted worldwide attention. The United States and China take close tab on the forthcoming elections. The 10-million strong global Filipinos in more than 200 countries are watching the two fifth-generation cousins, Noynoy and Gibo, slug it out in the largest — and possibly, final — battle of the Cojuangco wars.

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

After her junket to Libya a few weeks ago, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went junketing again. This time to Turkey, United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia. I wonder what the heck is going on with La Gloria so I asked my investigative reporter, James Macaquecquec, to call his contacts in those countries. He found out that Gloria had been hunting for a home in a country to go to in exile after she steps down in 2010.

According to James, the Turkish President bluntly told her, “I’m sorry madam but we already have too many turkeys here and I’m afraid we can’t handle another turkey especially one with a large entourage like you.”

In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister told Gloria, “I heard that you are planning to have an ‘enchanted kingdom’ in the country of your exile. I’m sorry madam but I’m afraid we can’t have another queen in our kingdom. We’re happy with the one we have right now.”

In Saudi Arabia, the King was very accommodating. He told Gloria, “You are most welcome here, madam. We’ll provide you and your husband with a magnificent palace in our country. But you have to conform to our laws and traditions. Because you’re a woman, you will be required to wear a ‘burqa’ whenever you’re outside the palace. And for your husband Mike, we’re more than happy to provide him with a harem of 72 virgins.” Mike smiled and said, “Gee, that’s great!” The King cut him out, “On one condition! This will only happen if you become a martyr for Islam.” Mike gasped and fainted.

The Taliban leader in Afghanistan heard about the Saudi King’s proposal and immediately called Gloria, “Madam, you are most welcome to settle here in Afghanistan. We certainly could use your husband here. We offer you one of our best and largest caves in the mountains. The cave next to Osama bin Laden is vacant and you can have it right now. And… don’t worry, we’ll train Mike on how to become a ‘martyr’ for Islam.” “Go to hell!” replied Gloria and hung up.

Disgruntled, Gloria went back home. A few days later, the Chinese President called Gloria, “I heard that you’re not happy with the reception from the countries you visited?” “Yeah, It sucks,” replied Gloria. “Well,” the Chinese leader said, “I can offer you a comfortable home in one of the islands in the Spratly archipelago. What I have in mind is the Mischief Reef which we claim as our territory. Unfortunately, your government is contesting our claim. A good compromise would be for you and your family to move and live there forever. You can be mischievous and do anything you want to do — scuba diving, skinny dipping, etcetera. Nobody will bother you. For your security, we’ll provide you a platoon of Chinese soldiers. We’ll even provide you with an in-house plastic surgeon just in case you’ll have another lea… umm, you know what I mean. How’s that Madam President?” Silence. “Hello… hello! Are you there?” Mike picked up the phone and said, “Gloria just collapsed! What did you tell her?” “Nothing,” the cunning Chinese leader replied and hung up.

News Item: “God save the Philippines from Joseph Estrada!” says Sen. Ping Lacson. But that’s already done in 2001 and look who we got now, Gloria! Would somebody please say, “God save the Philippines from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo”?

It took Noynoy a lot of courage when he entered the presidential race with nothing but a yellow shirt on his back and a fire in his belly. But the other candidates are also on fire. Manny Villar has fire in his pockets which has been burning hundreds of millions for his campaign. Erap Estrada has fire in his heart which endears him to the powerless poor. Chiz Escudero has fire in his head which gives him lots of ideas on how a kid could run the government. And Gibo has fire in his “cojones” which, in spite of his .02% rating, keeps him going against all odds.

And what happened to Bayani Fernando? He still couldn’t figure it out why Gibo beat him for PaLaKa’s nomination? He should have known that La Gloria’s preferences were Noli first, Gibo second, and Bayani… zero. Now, he’s saying that he’s going to bolt PaLaKa! Quo vadis, Bayani?

Who are the other casualties of the Rigodon de Horror? Dick Gordon found out that he’s too chubby to fight like Flash Gordon. Nick Perlas found out that nobody is reading his website on how he will run the government. Fr. Ed Panlilio found out that being a priest is not enough to exorcise corruption out of government. Bro. Eddie Villanueva found out that to win he has to be “numero uno” not just a “miron.” Loren Legarda would find out pretty soon that beauty is not a replacement for brains. Miriam Defensor-Santiago found out that brains is not a substitute for beauty. Jamby Madrigal knew that money can’t buy brains. Jojo Binay found out that he needs charisma to win. Bro. Mike Velarde found out that being Charismatic is not enough to win. Noli De Castro found out that running for president under Gloria’s PaLaKa is a “kiss of death.” JC de los Reyes found out that to run he needs to learn how to walk first. And Erap Estrada will soon find out that at 72 years, all he could do is play domino.

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

The declaration of Sen. Noynoy Aquino to run for president last September 9, 2009 has caused reactions from people who strongly support his candidacy as well as from those who believe that he is not qualified nor winnable. The other day, an Internet blogger told me bluntly, “I have already explained why Noynoy is not winnable, but you have not cited a single reason why he is.”

I thought about it and I have many reasons why I believe Noynoy is winnable. However, since he asked me to cite a “single reason,” I weighed all my reasons — and there were many — and selected a “single reason.” And here’s what I told him:

“You asked me for a ‘single reason’ why Noynoy is going to win and that is CHANGE. Noynoy is the only candidate that can truly say that he’s for CHANGE. His ‘inexperience’ would even help him. He is a ‘virgin’ candidate who would not sell out to special interest groups. And best of all, he gives HOPE to our people who have suffered too long under Gloria’s corrupt regime.”

I call Noynoy a “virgin” candidate not because he is a bachelor but because of his “virgin” political life — clean and free of scandals.

Born Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, on February 8, 1960, “Noynoy” was born into an old political family. However, his early life was insulated from politics because of the incarceration of his late father, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., when the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972. Noynoy was only 12 years old then. In 1980, Ninoy was released from prison on the condition that he and his family will go to exile in the U.S. and never return home. But after a few years in exile, Ninoy decided to return home to lead the fight for freedom and democracy. On August 21, 1983, an assassin’s bullet killed him instantly as he stepped down from the airplane at the Manila International Airport, now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

His widow, Cory Aquino, went home to pick up the pieces. In 1986, the “People Power” revolution toppled the Marcos dictatorship and Cory ascended to the presidency. The following year, Noynoy nearly lost his own life during one of the seven coup attempts by rebel soldiers. He was hit by five bullets but survived. However, three of his four escorts were killed and the fourth was wounded. A bullet is still embedded in his neck today.

In 1998, Noynoy was elected to the House of Representatives. He was reelected in 2001 and again in 2004. He served the House as Deputy Speaker from 2004 to 2006. In 2007, Noynoy was elected to the Senate for a six-year term.

Noynoy demonstrated his leadership in various capacities with the Liberal Party. He served the party as Secretary General from 1999 to 2002, Vice-President of the Luzon Liberal Party from 2002 to 2004, Secretary General again from 2004 to 2006, and Vice Chairman of the party from 2006 to the present.

It was not an easy road that Noynoy took to reach where he is today. The road was pockmarked with banishment, tragedy, and other setbacks. But it was an experience that tempered his psyche, strengthened his character, and emboldened his determination to succeed in all endeavors that he pursued in life.

And it all began on August 25, 1975, when Ninoy wrote his son Noynoy a letter from his detention cell in Fort Bonifacio. Ninoy wrote, “You are my only son. You carry my name and the name of my father. I have no material wealth to leave you. I never had time to make money while I was in the hire of our people. For this I am very sorry.

“The only valuable asset I can bequeath to you is the name you carry. I have tried my best during my years of public service to keep that name untarnished and respected, unmarked by sorry compromises for expediency. I now passed it on to you, as good, I pray, as when my father, your grandfather passed it on to me.

“Forgive me for passing unto your young shoulders the great responsibility for our family. I trust you will love your mother and your sisters and lavish them with the care and protection I would have given them.”

Ninoy concluded his letter by saying: “The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience. There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength. Lovingly, Dad.”

It was a covenant between father and son. For 34 years, Noynoy kept and treasured his dad’s letter. He carried the name he inherited from his father, untarnished, respected, and unmarked by compromises. And should he be elected the next president, Noynoy will serve our Motherland and our people with all his heart, with all his might, and with all his strength — just like the way Ninoy wanted it to be.

Indeed, Noynoy will become the instrument of CHANGE, just like Ninoy could have been had he not died in the hands of military assassins on that fateful day in 1983. Four years later, Noynoy was shot five times by rebel soldiers. But fate spared him from death. It wasn’t time for him to die yet. He still had an unfinished task to accomplish. And he was prepared to carry out that task.

The passing of his mother, former president Cory Aquino, on August 1, 2009, put that task squarely on Noynoy’s shoulders. There was no turning back. It was his calling and on the 40th day of Cory’s death, Noynoy stepped up to the plate and declared his run for the presidency.

It couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. With poverty level at 40%, hunger at 60%, unemployment at 25%, and the poor eating “pagpag,” the Philippines need a leader who would truly make a change, not only in terms of economic progress, but would also change the character of the nation. And what a better way to achieve that than to have a leader with moral integrity and impeccable character.

In a recent survey conducted last September 5 and 6 by Social Weather Stations (SWS) among 1,200 respondents in vote-rich Luzon, an overwhelming 50% of the respondents said they would vote for Noynoy. And that was before Noynoy formally announced his presidential bid. Indeed, the wind of change is now blowing in Luzon and will soon reach the Visayas, Mindanao, and the far-flung Sulu archipelago.

And there is no doubt in my mind that Noynoy would manifest the character that the people would expect — nay, demand! — of their leader. The people have suffered long enough that promises made by the presidential candidates are not good enough. They want a “virgin” candidate — untarnished, respected, honest, and someone who will change the character of our nation. Noynoy is that man.

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

The declaration of Sen. Noynoy Aquino to run for president last September 9, 2009 has caused reactions from people who strongly support his candidacy as well as from those who believe that he is not qualified nor winnable. The other day, an Internet blogger told me bluntly, “I have already explained why Noynoy is not winnable, but you have not cited a single reason why he is.”

I thought about it and I have many reasons why I believe Noynoy is winnable. However, since he asked me to cite a “single reason,” I weighed all my reasons — and there were many — and selected a “single reason.” And here’s what I told him:

“You asked me for a ‘single reason’ why Noynoy is going to win and that is CHANGE. Noynoy is the only candidate that can truly say that he’s for CHANGE. His ‘inexperience’ would even help him. He is a ‘virgin’ candidate who would not sell out to special interest groups. And best of all, he gives HOPE to our people who have suffered too long under Gloria’s corrupt regime.”

I call Noynoy a “virgin” candidate not because he is a bachelor but because of his “virgin” political life — clean and free of scandals.

Born Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, on February 8, 1960, “Noynoy” was born into an old political family. However, his early life was insulated from politics because of the incarceration of his late father, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., when the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972. Noynoy was only 12 years old then. In 1980, Ninoy was released from prison on the condition that he and his family will go to exile in the U.S. and never return home. But after a few years in exile, Ninoy decided to return home to lead the fight for freedom and democracy. On August 21, 1983, an assassin’s bullet killed him instantly as he stepped down from the airplane at the Manila International Airport, now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

His widow, Cory Aquino, went home to pick up the pieces. In 1986, the “People Power” revolution toppled the Marcos dictatorship and Cory ascended to the presidency. The following year, Noynoy nearly lost his own life during one of the seven coup attempts by rebel soldiers. He was hit by five bullets but survived. However, three of his four escorts were killed and the fourth was wounded. A bullet is still embedded in his neck today.

In 1998, Noynoy was elected to the House of Representatives. He was reelected in 2001 and again in 2004. He served the House as Deputy Speaker from 2004 to 2006. In 2007, Noynoy was elected to the Senate for a six-year term.

Noynoy demonstrated his leadership in various capacities with the Liberal Party. He served the party as Secretary General from 1999 to 2002, Vice-President of the Luzon Liberal Party from 2002 to 2004, Secretary General again from 2004 to 2006, and Vice Chairman of the party from 2006 to the present.

It was not an easy road that Noynoy took to reach where he is today. The road was pockmarked with banishment, tragedy, and other setbacks. But it was an experience that tempered his psyche, strengthened his character, and emboldened his determination to succeed in all endeavors that he pursued in life.

And it all began on August 25, 1975, when Ninoy wrote his son Noynoy a letter from his detention cell in Fort Bonifacio. Ninoy wrote, “You are my only son. You carry my name and the name of my father. I have no material wealth to leave you. I never had time to make money while I was in the hire of our people. For this I am very sorry.

“The only valuable asset I can bequeath to you is the name you carry. I have tried my best during my years of public service to keep that name untarnished and respected, unmarked by sorry compromises for expediency. I now passed it on to you, as good, I pray, as when my father, your grandfather passed it on to me.

“Forgive me for passing unto your young shoulders the great responsibility for our family. I trust you will love your mother and your sisters and lavish them with the care and protection I would have given them.”

Ninoy concluded his letter by saying: “The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience. There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength. Lovingly, Dad.”

It was a covenant between father and son. For 34 years, Noynoy kept and treasured his dad’s letter. He carried the name he inherited from his father, untarnished, respected, and unmarked by compromises. And should he be elected the next president, Noynoy will serve our Motherland and our people with all his heart, with all his might, and with all his strength — just like the way Ninoy wanted it to be.

Indeed, Noynoy will become the instrument of CHANGE, just like Ninoy could have been had he not died in the hands of military assassins on that fateful day in 1983. Four years later, Noynoy was shot five times by rebel soldiers. But fate spared him from death. It wasn’t time for him to die yet. He still had an unfinished task to accomplish. And he was prepared to carry out that task.

The passing of his mother, former president Cory Aquino, on August 1, 2009, put that task squarely on Noynoy’s shoulders. There was no turning back. It was his calling and on the 40th day of Cory’s death, Noynoy stepped up to the plate and declared his run for the presidency.

It couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. With poverty level at 40%, hunger at 60%, unemployment at 25%, and the poor eating “pagpag,” the Philippines need a leader who would truly make a change, not only in terms of economic progress, but would also change the character of the nation. And what a better way to achieve that than to have a leader with moral integrity and impeccable character.

In a recent survey conducted last September 5 and 6 by Social Weather Stations (SWS) among 1,200 respondents in vote-rich Luzon, an overwhelming 50% of the respondents said they would vote for Noynoy. And that was before Noynoy formally announced his presidential bid. Indeed, the wind of change is now blowing in Luzon and will soon reach the Visayas, Mindanao, and the far-flung Sulu archipelago.

And there is no doubt in my mind that Noynoy would manifest the character that the people would expect — nay, demand! — of their leader. The people have suffered long enough that promises made by the presidential candidates are not good enough. They want a “virgin” candidate — untarnished, respected, honest, and someone who will change the character of our nation. Noynoy is that man.

Balitang Kutsero
By Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Two Pinoy TNTs — “tago ng tago” (illegal aliens) — in the US were deported. On board CON-AIR on their way to the Philippines, they related their sad stories to each other. Berting asked Roming, “Why were you deported?” “It’s a long story,” replied Roming. “After arriving in California 15 years ago with a tourist visa, I decided to get married so I can get a green card. I married two Pinays to make sure that at least one of them would petition for me.” “So what happened?” asked Berting. “Well, it turned out, both of them were TNTs too,” replied Roming. “Gunggong ka naman pala!” quipped Berting.

“Gago, how about you? Why were you deported?” asked Roming. Berting was quiet. “Come on, tell me,” Roming said. “Well… I jumped ship in California 40 years ago,” Berting said. “So?” Roming asked. “Well… It took me that long to look for someone to marry. Finally I found the right person. After we got married, I applied for naturalization but it was rejected,” Berting said. “Rejected! Why?” Roming asked. Berting hesitated and then said, “Well… I found out that the U.S. government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.” “Talyada!” quipped Roming.

My investigative reporter James Macaquecquec heard from the grapevine that Lilia Pineda is leading in the recount against Gov. Ed Panlilio by 1,000 votes. I am not surprised cuz while Panlilio claims that the Lord Jesus is on his side, Pineda claims that she is married to the Jueteng Lord.

News Item: First Gentleman Mike Arroyo’s affidavit to the Ombudsman says, “I have never taken advantage of my marriage to the President by requesting or receiving any gift or advantage from anyone dealing with the government.” But his son Mikey admitted to using money from campaign donors to buy a beachfront property and businesses in the U.S. Well, like they say, “It’s all relative.” Huh?

News Item: “The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a complaint that sought the disbarment of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago for calling the High Tribunal a ‘Supreme Court of idiots’.” Didn’t someone once call Miriam, “Brenda,” short for “brain damage”? Like they say, “It takes one to know one.”

Noynoy Aquino said that recovery of the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos will be on his agenda should he become president. Too late, Gloria already recovered them. No wonder Imelda Marcos has been using the same pair of shoes for the past four years.

Imelda is encouraging her son, Congressman Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to run for president. She wants to be appointed “Mother of the Barangay” at one peso a year salary. Sounds like a good deal. But what Imelda didn’t say was that she would need a one-billion pesos a year budget for her expense account and also a private executive jet to fly her to all 42,000 barangays. High maintenance talaga si Imelda!

News Item: “Vice President Noli de Castro, one of the frontrunners in surveys of presidential aspirants for the 2010 elections, is no longer on the ‘radar screen’ of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD (PALAKA) in its search for a standard-bearer, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita disclosed yesterday.” Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that Noli is not interested to be Gloria’s anointed candidate? The truth is: Gloria’s “kiss of death” scares Noli to death. I think he’s now more interested in writing his memoirs — “The President I Could Have Been.”

The choice for PALAKA’s standard bearer is now down to Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro and Bayani Fernando. Hmmm… Recent polls show Gibo at 0.2 percent and Bayani at zero percent popularity. And they insisted that they’re still in the race?

Gibo’s problem is how to magically transform 0.2 percent to 25%. According to Pulse Asia, out of 1,800 nationwide respondents, only four mentioned him as their choice for president if elections were held last August. James Macaquecquec heard from the grapevine that Gloria told Gibo not to worry… she’ll call Garci again.

Noynoy’s family is 100% behind him, says his sister, Kris Aquino. But Kris wants Noynoy to remain a bachelor. Hmmm… If Noynoy remains single, then Kris could become the First Lady when Noynoy wins. They’d make an interesting pair — the beauty and the brain.

Noynoy declared his presidential bid on 09/09/09. Many people consider that to be a lucky combination. However, Eddie Villanueva, leader of the Jesus is Lord Movement, remains “unshaken.” But with less than 1% rating, I don’t understand why Eddie is still in the race. The last time he ran for prez in 2004, he placed last among five candidates. Well, this time around, Gibo and Bayani will give him a run for his money… for the last place.

News report says that Gloria’s 81 foreign trips are more frequent that that of US presidents. Gloria must have earned enough “frequent flyer” mileage for a one-way ticket to the Moon. Now, the Pinoys can say that we’re the first to colonize the Moon. No wonder Gloria has been heard singing, “Fly me to the Moon.”

News Item: “Fidel Ramos rejected Lakas-Kampi-CMD chairman emeritus.” Of course! Why would FVR take over a sinking ship? Never underestimate a man in his golden years. He may be forgetful but he’s not stupid.

After two millennia, the Roman Catholic Church has finally stopped the tradition of drinking wine from a cup because of the H1N1 flu. From now on it’s BYOB — bring your own booze! Thanks, swine!

News Item: “The father of Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and vice presidential nominee, says his daughter has been steering clear of the media spotlight in recent weeks to focus on writing her memoirs.” James Macaquecquec heard from the grapevine that Sarah’s book will be titled, “101 Reasons Why I Lost the Vice Presidency.” Number 1 reason is: “I should have run for President instead.”

During Prez Barack Obama’s Healthcare address to Congress, Republican congressman Charles Wilson shouted “You lie!” The following day, Wilson apologized. Too bad. If he didn’t apologize, Obama would have invited him for a round of drinks at the White House.

Obama has been wanting to invite Sen. John McCain for a round of drinks at the White House. But he couldn’t decide whether to serve him Ensure or Metamucil.

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

The recent exposé of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s sons’ real estate properties in the U.S. has sparked a maelstrom of criticism against the Arroyo family. Indeed, it has opened a can of worms that dates back before Gloria ascended to the presidency in January 2001.

Gloria’s eldest son, Congressman Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, made the headlines lately when VERA Files exposed his undeclared beachfront home in Foster City, California, an upscale suburb of San Francisco. According to VERA Files, Mikey claimed that “the property was transferred to a company called Beach Way Park LLC as a way of explaining why the property did not appear in his 2007 and 2008 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Network (SALN).” LLC is short for Limited Liability Company.

However, as of August 31, 2009, the subject property, located at 1655 Beach Park Blvd., is still in the name of Mikey’s wife Angela Arroyo Montenegro. It’s evidenced by a grant deed dated April 2008 recorded in the San Mateo County Assessor’s Office showing Angela as the “grantee.” California law stipulates that a property owned by either spouse is considered “community property.” In other words, Mikey still owns 50% of the property he transferred to Angela.

Aside from not disclosing his U.S. property in his 2007 and 2008 SALN’s, another issue raised was: Where did Mike get the P63.7 million that he used to pay for the property? During a nationally televised interview by Winnie Monsod, Mikey claimed that he gained his wealth from campaign donors. But campaign donations are supposed to be used only for campaign materials and expenses. In my opinion, to pocket campaign donations and use them for buying properties and businesses is, pure and simple, corruption.

Did these campaign donors expect Mikey to repay them with favors such as government construction contracts and other profitable government projects using his pork barrel funds? If this was the case, then Mikey had indirectly used taxpayers’ money to buy properties and businesses in the United States.

In a phone interview with the media, Mikey said “If you examine clearly my SAL, if you read it well, you can see we (his family) can well afford to buy properties.” Yes, I believe Mikey. His family has tons of money.

This reminds me of my own experience in 1998 when I had a construction contract to perform seismic retrofit in the basement of a five-story apartment building located at 737 Bush Street, a few blocks from the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco. I was a state-licensed general building contractor at that time. Although my contract was with a certain Filipino-American business woman by the name of Lita (surname withheld for confidentiality), Lita claimed that the building was owned by then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo. According to Lita, the Arroyos own many real estate properties in Northern California. She claimed that she was a good friend of Gloria and was entrusted by her to manage their properties.

In 2007, the Bush St. property made the news when a certain Maria Celia Virginia Suarez — Maricel for short — allegedly filed a disbarment complaint against Mike Arroyo for immorality. Mike denied that a disbarment petition had been filed against him in court but Suarez’s exposé of the Arroyos’ real estate holdings in the U.S. makes one to wonder where did the Arroyos get all the money to acquire these properties?

Suarez claimed that she and Mike had a romantic affair since the mid-70’s when she was only 26 years old. She claimed that in 2004, Mike convinced her to move to the U.S. and told her that he would divert money from Gloria’s 2004 campaign funds to support her.

While she was in the U.S., Suarez said that she gathered documents regarding the property at 737 Bush St. as well as the “Figaro property”– “Figaro” stood for “First Gentleman Arroyo” — at the upscale Marina area in San Francisco. Suarez claimed that Mike bought the Marina mansion for $125 million — P6.25 billion! — in December 2004. She claimed that Gloria was present when the payment was made. She also claimed that Mike told her that he was forced by Gloria to transfer the Bush St. property to his brother, Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo. Accordingly, the transfer was made after Iggy’s testimony during the “Jose Pidal” Senate hearing where Sen. Ping Lacson alleged that Mike laundered more than $3.7 million in “hot money.” It was revealed during the Senate hearing that Mike was having an affair with his secretary, Victoria Toh. The revelation further infuriated Suarez.

In 2005, amidst a multitude of scandals involving the First Family — which rocked Gloria’s administration and threatened her own survival in office — Mike and son Mikey left the country and went to voluntary exile in the U.S. Mikey was involved in the celebrated jueteng payola scandal. During a Senate hearing, the self-confessed “bagman” pointed to Mikey as the “Lion King” who received the lion’s share of jueteng payoffs. Although the “bagman” failed to back up his claims, the furor over the scandal built to a shattering crescendo that eventually forced Mikey and his dad to flee.

They came back a month later to attend the funeral of Mike’s older sister who passed away. They never left again. Since then, many more earth-shaking scandals erupted involving members of the First Family, high-ranking government officials, and cronies of the Arroyos.

Mikey’s failure to satisfactorily explain where he got the money to purchase a property and businesses in the U.S. and his statement that his family “can well afford to buy properties,” is bound to diminish Gloria’s influence in her remaining nine months in office. It would make her an ineffectual “lame duck” president. And as such, her political allies would abandon her to look for a new patron amongst the presidential candidates.

With Gloria’s attempt to pursue a Charter change to amend the constitution deemed as dead on the water, her departure from the national scene would end her dream of reemerging in the future as a national leader.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Manny Pacquiao started his new TV comedy show, “Show Me Da Manny” with resounding success! The two-hour premiere featured just Manny — with his signature ear-to-ear “Pacman” grin — on the screen for two hours. Yep, show dem da Manny, Mr. Pacman.

Talking about “showing da Manny,” Sen. Manny Villar has been showing his smiley face on expensive billboards all over the country. In his campaign for the presidency, Manny believes that a picture is worth a thousand words… and billions of pesos. Makes one to wonder how he’s going to recover his money in six years — that is if he wins.

With Sen. Mar Roxas withdrawing from the presidential derby in favor of Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Noynoy will give Manny a run for his money. Doesn’t scare Manny — he’ll just pump in more money in his campaign and work harder to recover it when he wins. But what if Manny loses to Noynoy? Manny’s rags-to-riches life story could turn around to riches-to-rags. Ugh!

Presidential wannabe Sen. Dick Gordon wants billionaire Manny V. Pangilinan to be his running mate. Well, if I were Manny, I’d run for prez and Dick could be my running mate. Hey, Manny knows that running for prez requires lots of money.

Gordon said that if he wins, “his six-year term would not be enough to move the nation forward because the country needs at least 20 years to recover from its economic woes.” Does he want to stay longer like Gloria who promised to transform the country into an “Enchanted Kingdom” in 20 years?

I wonder why Vice President Noli De Castro has been indecisive about running for president. Could it be lack of money? Perhaps, he should settle as Manny Villar’s running mate cuz Manny has lots of money. A news report, however, said that Noli is seeking “discernment” in deciding whether to run or not. Well, the easy way to discern is for Noli to count his money. If he doesn’t have P5 billion for starters, forget it.

But how can Noynoy beat Manny Villar with his money? Well, while Manny believes that money can buy him the presidency, many of Noynoy’s supporters believe that it’s the not-for-sale votes that would win Noynoy the presidency. Folks, the price of votes is gonna go up pretty soon! Watch Manny flood the country with his “Manny” money.

Ousted president Joseph Estrada, who’s 99.99% sure he’s going to run for prez said he will not run if the entire opposition is united behind Noynoy. Let’s see: Roxas is out and so is Binay, Panlilio, Padaca, and Velarde. Pretty soon all the opposition candidates would give way to Noynoy. The problem is that nobody wants to be Gloria’s candidate. They’re scared of her “kiss of death.” Folks, Noynoy might just end up unopposed in the elections!

Meanwhile, Noynoy’s 29-year-old girlfriend, Valenzuela City council member Shalani Soledad, is being groomed by her friends to run for Congress. But why should she run when she can be the next First Lady? All she has to do is marry Noynoy… soon! But Noynoy’s sister Kris wants her brother to remain a bachelor so it won’t complicate his life. Whoa! It looks like Shalani is not welcome in the future First Family.

There’s really no reason why Noynoy should get married. He’s having fun just being a bachelor. Some of his romantic conquests were broadcaster Bernadette Sembrano, actress Diana Zubiri, and Korina — yes! Korina — Sanchez! Korina could still become the First Lady if… forget it.

Recently, presidential wannabes joined a 100-meter “Unity Walk” and signed a covenant “to resort only to lawful channels in their election bids for 2010.” Well, during the 2004 elections, the presidential candidates made a similar covenant. Everybody honored the covenant… except Gloria. Gloria won and all she did was make one phone call to Garci. Like they say, “In Philippine elections, there are no losers, only the winners and those who were cheated.”

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez — First Gentleman Mike Arroyo’s college pal — recommended the “filing of graft charges against former Elections chief Benjamin Abalos and incumbent Social Security System (SSS) president Romulo Neri in relation to the $329.4-million ZTE-national broadband network scandal.” But Gutierrez dropped President Gloria Arroyo as respondent due to “presidential immunity.” She also dismissed charges against Mike. That’s what friends are for. Well, they can always re-file charges against Gloria and Mike when she steps down in June 2010 — if she’s not on her way to Portugal yet.

Gen. Victor Ibrado, AFP Chief of Staff, gave assurance that “the military will not be used in favor of certain candidates in the 2010 presidential elections.” But he’s retiring before the elections and guess who will take over his command? Hint, hint… a pal of Gloria?

Gloria’s son, Congressman Mikey Arroyo, defended his mom’s expensive dinner at Le Cirque in New York. He said, “You can’t expect the President to eat at just any hotdog stand, McDonald’s or some ‘undignified’ turo-turo?” What’s wrong with that? Eighty percent of Filipinos do that. Perhaps, Gloria should try eating “pag-pag” just like the other 20 percent.

The Arroyos are in trouble again… When Mikey was asked about the sharp rise in his mom’s net worth, he said that the family lawyer will answer all questions about his mom’s wealth increase. That bad, huh?

Mikey’s dad, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, has also been in the news about a lot in Bulacan that he bought for P100,000 and then sold it for P41.5 million to a “mystery man” named Richard S. Lim. Well, my investigative reporter James Macaquecquec did a little investigation and found out that Lim was a houseboy of a pal of Mike! Where did he get the money?

Mikey got himself in trouble too for not disclosing ownership of a P63 million beachfront house in Foster City, California. Grilled on TV by Winnie Monsod, he said that “a large portion of his wealth came from generous wedding and campaign donors.” Some people call these donations, “lagay” or “tongpats.”

But Mikey told the media that “he and his family could afford to buy properties in the United States.” They must be getting a lot of wedding and campaign donations. Heck, his mom can even afford to dine at Le Cirque for $20,000 a pop! Show dem da money, Mikey!

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Manny Pacquiao started his new TV comedy show, “Show Me Da Manny” with resounding success! The two-hour premiere featured just Manny — with his signature ear-to-ear “Pacman” grin — on the screen for two hours. Yep, show dem da Manny, Mr. Pacman.

Talking about “showing da Manny,” Sen. Manny Villar has been showing his smiley face on expensive billboards all over the country. In his campaign for the presidency, Manny believes that a picture is worth a thousand words… and billions of pesos. Makes one to wonder how he’s going to recover his money in six years — that is if he wins.

With Sen. Mar Roxas withdrawing from the presidential derby in favor of Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Noynoy will give Manny a run for his money. Doesn’t scare Manny — he’ll just pump in more money in his campaign and work harder to recover it when he wins. But what if Manny loses to Noynoy? Manny’s rags-to-riches life story could turn around to riches-to-rags. Ugh!

Presidential wannabe Sen. Dick Gordon wants billionaire Manny V. Pangilinan to be his running mate. Well, if I were Manny, I’d run for prez and Dick could be my running mate. Hey, Manny knows that running for prez requires lots of money.

Gordon said that if he wins, “his six-year term would not be enough to move the nation forward because the country needs at least 20 years to recover from its economic woes.” Does he want to stay longer like Gloria who promised to transform the country into an “Enchanted Kingdom” in 20 years?

I wonder why Vice President Noli De Castro has been indecisive about running for president. Could it be lack of money? Perhaps, he should settle as Manny Villar’s running mate cuz Manny has lots of money. A news report, however, said that Noli is seeking “discernment” in deciding whether to run or not. Well, the easy way to discern is for Noli to count his money. If he doesn’t have P5 billion for starters, forget it.

But how can Noynoy beat Manny Villar with his money? Well, while Manny believes that money can buy him the presidency, many of Noynoy’s supporters believe that it’s the not-for-sale votes that would win Noynoy the presidency. Folks, the price of votes is gonna go up pretty soon! Watch Manny flood the country with his “Manny” money.

Ousted president Joseph Estrada, who’s 99.99% sure he’s going to run for prez said he will not run if the entire opposition is united behind Noynoy. Let’s see: Roxas is out and so is Binay, Panlilio, Padaca, and Velarde. Pretty soon all the opposition candidates would give way to Noynoy. The problem is that nobody wants to be Gloria’s candidate. They’re scared of her “kiss of death.” Folks, Noynoy might just end up unopposed in the elections!

Meanwhile, Noynoy’s 29-year-old girlfriend, Valenzuela City council member Shalani Soledad, is being groomed by her friends to run for Congress. But why should she run when she can be the next First Lady? All she has to do is marry Noynoy… soon! But Noynoy’s sister Kris wants her brother to remain a bachelor so it won’t complicate his life. Whoa! It looks like Shalani is not welcome in the future First Family.

There’s really no reason why Noynoy should get married. He’s having fun just being a bachelor. Some of his romantic conquests were broadcaster Bernadette Sembrano, actress Diana Zubiri, and Korina — yes! Korina — Sanchez! Korina could still become the First Lady if… forget it.

Recently, presidential wannabes joined a 100-meter “Unity Walk” and signed a covenant “to resort only to lawful channels in their election bids for 2010.” Well, during the 2004 elections, the presidential candidates made a similar covenant. Everybody honored the covenant… except Gloria. Gloria won and all she did was make one phone call to Garci. Like they say, “In Philippine elections, there are no losers, only the winners and those who were cheated.”

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez — First Gentleman Mike Arroyo’s college pal — recommended the “filing of graft charges against former Elections chief Benjamin Abalos and incumbent Social Security System (SSS) president Romulo Neri in relation to the $329.4-million ZTE-national broadband network scandal.” But Gutierrez dropped President Gloria Arroyo as respondent due to “presidential immunity.” She also dismissed charges against Mike. That’s what friends are for. Well, they can always re-file charges against Gloria and Mike when she steps down in June 2010 — if she’s not on her way to Portugal yet.

Gen. Victor Ibrado, AFP Chief of Staff, gave assurance that “the military will not be used in favor of certain candidates in the 2010 presidential elections.” But he’s retiring before the elections and guess who will take over his command? Hint, hint… a pal of Gloria?

Gloria’s son, Congressman Mikey Arroyo, defended his mom’s expensive dinner at Le Cirque in New York. He said, “You can’t expect the President to eat at just any hotdog stand, McDonald’s or some ‘undignified’ turo-turo?” What’s wrong with that? Eighty percent of Filipinos do that. Perhaps, Gloria should try eating “pag-pag” just like the other 20 percent.

The Arroyos are in trouble again… When Mikey was asked about the sharp rise in his mom’s net worth, he said that the family lawyer will answer all questions about his mom’s wealth increase. That bad, huh?

Mikey’s dad, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, has also been in the news about a lot in Bulacan that he bought for P100,000 and then sold it for P41.5 million to a “mystery man” named Richard S. Lim. Well, my investigative reporter James Macaquecquec did a little investigation and found out that Lim was a houseboy of a pal of Mike! Where did he get the money?

Mikey got himself in trouble too for not disclosing ownership of a P63 million beachfront house in Foster City, California. Grilled on TV by Winnie Monsod, he said that “a large portion of his wealth came from generous wedding and campaign donors.” Some people call these donations, “lagay” or “tongpats.”

But Mikey told the media that “he and his family could afford to buy properties in the United States.” They must be getting a lot of wedding and campaign donations. Heck, his mom can even afford to dine at Le Cirque for $20,000 a pop! Show dem da money, Mikey!