February 2010

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Presidential wannabe Noynoy Aquino may not have billions to spend in his campaign, but he sure has a lot of guts! At a rally of thousands of his “Yellow Army” supporters, he warned corrupt officials that their days were numbered. That’s gutsy! Not too long ago, Noynoy promised that he’ll recover the Marcos “loot.” That’s gutsy! And recently, he promised that he’d prosecute President Gloria Arroyo for plunder if he’s elected President. Now, that’s really gutsy! No guts, no Gloria!

During the 24th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution at the People Power Monument, Gloria said that her vision to “heal the wounds of the past EDSA uprisings has been partially met.” According to her, “healing the wounds of Edsa is a part of her 10-point pro-poor agenda.” “Healing the wounds of Edsa”? Hmmm…

Well, here’s what I wrote in my article, “Power of the Pork,” a few weeks ago:

Biggest pork barrel in history: In 2005, Gloria used more than P80 billion for pork barrel — that’s 10 times the normal amount! — for projects in which most were shrouded in mystery. More than half of this — P46.8 billion — were allocated for ‘Healing of Edsa I, II and III Funds.’ When asked in a radio interview, then Budget Secretary Romulo Neri explained that the P46.8-billion ‘healing of Edsa wounds’ fund included P29 billion for ‘back pension payments for retired Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police personnel.’ That’s a hell of a lot of money! Shouldn’t they be included in the Department of National Defense and Philippine National Police budgets? Or was it used surreptitiously to keep the military ‘loyal’ to Gloria during the ‘Hello Garci’ election cheating scandal and Edsa III uprising?” Yup, as Gloria’s granddaughter once said, “What Lola want, Lola gets.”

Gloria also said, “The world embraced EDSA I in 1986. The world tolerated EDSA II in 2001. The world will not forgive an EDSA III but would instead condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable.” Huh? And I thought Gloria’s EDSA II was what made the country’s political system “hopelessly unstable.” Kurakot na, mahirap pa. Wah wah we! Kawawa naman kami!

Gloria also claimed that the “Glorious Revolution” had deteriorated into partisanship over the years.” She’s right. EDSA I was the “Glorious Revolution” and EDSA II was “Gloria’s Revolution,” and it’s been downhill since then. And if there’s going to be EDSA III, what should it be called? Let’s see…

Photo by Equalizer Post

Noynoy’s “Yellow Army” celebrated the “People Power” in the jam-packed Araneta Coliseum with 30,000 Coristas, Ninoyistas, Noynoyistas, and Liberalistas. The sea of yellow was a breath-taking sight.

Photo by Equalizer Post

Meanwhile, Manny “Money Villarroyo” Villar had a campaign swing featuring go-go girls clad in bikinis gyrating on stage to an audience of salivating Villaristas, Marcos loyalistas, Nacionalistas, and communistas. In the old days, that’s called “burlesque.” Oh, well, that’s the sign of the times. What Manny wants, money gets.

The other day, Noynoy accused Villarroyo of stealing his line. According to Noynoy, Villarroyo stole his slogan, “Hindi ako magnanakaw” (I will not steal). In one of his campaign sorties, Villarroyo said, “Sa harap ninyo, sa mata ng Diyos, hindi ako nagnakaw … Hindi ako magnanakaw” (In your presence and in the eyes of God, I did not steal … I will not steal). Well, after nine years under Gloria Arroyo’s corrupt regime, it makes one wonder if there’s anything left to steal.

But what’s going on with the other eight presidential wannabes? Gloria’s hand-picked candidate Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro is finally feeling the effect of Gloria’s “kiss of death.” He’s now distancing himself from Gloria by not talking about Gloria’s legacy. It won’t be long before he’d realize that it’s time to abort and join the “Yellow Army” of his cousin, Noynoy.

***

I read that two VIPs whose endorsements could be “kiss of death” to the candidate are former President Fidel V. Ramos and boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. Ramos said that he’ll make his endorsement by the end of March or early April. I can hear most of the candidates saying, “Please not me!” But not Richard “Flashy Dick” Gordon. With a 1% rating in the poll surveys and a shoe-string campaign budget, what has he got to lose?

In the case of Pacman, he said that he’ll start campaigning for Villarroyo, his “beloved president,” after his fight with Joshua Clottey. For someone who claims that he had a talk with God, Pacman is becoming a joker. And the joker is wild, man! He should stay sway from Villarroyo’s go-go girls during the campaign. Some people say that Pacman has an eye for beautiful girls.

***

Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada claimed that an opponent urged him to withdraw from the presidential derby and offered to reimburse all his campaign expenses if he quit. Well, with his funds drying up, Erap should take the offer and call it quits. Heck, he can always claim that he already spent P2 billion. I’m pretty sure that Money Villarroyo wouldn’t blink an eye to shell out that kind of money. With that kind of money, Erap can retire in his “Boracay” mansion.

***

A few days ago, Villarroyo was criticized for giving P20 bills to several street children who approached him during a campaign swing in Batangas. That’s nothing. They’re just children, not voters. I think he was just practicing the art of “vote-buying.”

In another instance, Villarroyo got himself in trouble with the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Comelec said that a disqualification case may be filed against him “for violating the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) after giving away scholarship grants to his supporters.” Whoa! That’s vote-buying, clear and simple! Section 261 of the OEC states that “vote-buying is when a person ‘gives, offers or promises money or anything of value’ in order to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate.” Now, that is serious.

But in another instance, Villarroyo got himself in big trouble. This time, it’s with the military. According the military spokesman, Villarroyo’s group “violated an agreement that they would not conduct any form of campaigning inside the highly-restricted military compound.” Villarroyo and his group met with detained Marine Col. Ariel Querubin — who is running for Senator under Villarroyo’s party — in Camp Aguinaldo. They then locked arms and made a “unity walk” inside the camp. The military spokesman said that “the unity walk” violated standing regulations of the military banning any political activity in all its camps. Now, that is very serious. Villarroyo should know better than not to mess around with the military. Villarroyo may have lots of money but the military have lots of guns… and sometimes they shoot first before they ask questions.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

The People Power revolution of 1986 that ousted the Marcos dictatorship was supposed to prevent any form of dictatorship from emerging again. That was embodied in the 1987 constitution, also known as Cory constitution or People Power constitution. Article II Section 3 states: “Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.”

People Power Provision

Evidently, the framers of the 1987 constitution were wary that another dictatorship might emerge again. In such an event, the military is empowered to act to protect the people and the State. However, it must do so without abrogating the supremacy of civilian authority over the military. This is known as the “People Power Provision” of the 1987 constitution.

It’s a “checks and balances” mechanism intended to safeguard civilian rule and at the same time put a “Sword of Damocles” hanging over it to discourage authoritarian rule. Indeed, just the mere threat of a Damoclean intervention would make the President think twice before contemplating acts that smack of dictatorship. However, there is also a dangerous situation wherein the military would allow itself to be used by power-grabbers in the pretense of protecting the people and the State.

EDSA II

On January 19, 2001, that’s exactly what happened when then Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Angelo T. Reyes together with the Commanders of the Philippine Army, Navy and air Force withdrew their support for President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and joined then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her supporters in their attempt to depose Estrada. Reyes defended their action. He said that the 1987 constitution designated the military as the “protector of the people and the State.” But who was he protecting the people and the State from?

The following day, January 20, 2001, at 11:26 AM, Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo faxed a memo to Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. stating:

“The undersigned respectfully informs the Honorable Court that Joseph Ejercito Estrada, is permanently incapable of performing the duties of his office resulting in his permanent disability to govern and serve his unexpired term. Almost all of his Cabinet members have resigned and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have withdrawn their support for Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Civil Society has likewise refused to recognize him as President.

“In view of this, I am assuming the position of President of the Republic of the Philippines. Accordingly, I would like to take my oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines before the Honorable Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., today, 20 January 2001, at 12:00 noon, at the EDSA Shrine, Quezon City, Metro Manila.

May I have the honor to invite all the members of the Honorable Court to attend the oath-taking.

“VERY TRULY YOURS,
GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO”

An hour later, at 12.30 PM, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took her oath as President before Chief Justice Davide.

To this day, nobody could explain what Arroyo meant when she said that Estrada “is permanently incapable of performing the duties of his office resulting in his permanent disability to govern and serve his unexpired term.” Estrada was never “permanently incapable of performing” his duties. If there is one term that would explain this, it’s a “snow job.”

The ascension of Arroyo to the presidency was trumpeted by her supporters as the “EDSA II People Power Revolution.” Even the icons of the original People Power revolution of 1986 — Cardinal Jaime sin and former president Cory Aquino — were convinced into supporting the removal of Estrada believing that EDSA II was a genuine people power revolution. However, many people believe that it was a power grab — a coup d’etat.

It is interesting to note that Reyes was appointed by Arroyo to several important Cabinet positions in her administration. And the man who sworn Arroyo as President, Chief Justice Davide, was appointed upon his retirement from the High Court as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations. Estrada was charged with plunder and after more than six years of prosecution — or persecution — was convicted to life imprisonment. However, Arroyo granted him full pardon before he could serve his sentence. Today, Estrada is running for President.

In December 2008, at an event where Cory and Estrada were present, Cory publicly apologized to Estrada for supporting his removal from office. Cory told Estrada, “I am one of those who feels guilty for the 2001 [Edsa Dos revolt]….Lahat naman tayo nagkakamali, patawarin mo na lang ako [We all make mistakes. Please just forgive me].” In one fleeting moment, the false façade of EDSA II collapsed. It never was like the EDSA I People Power revolution. EDSA II was a coup d’etat legitimized by the “People Power Provision” of the 1987 constitution.

Failure of elections

With the jitters created by a looming “failure of elections,” there are talks of the military invoking the “People Power Provision” in the event that no President, Vice President, and Senators are proclaimed winners in the elections on May 10, 2010. But it would be unlike EDSA II in the sense that the military would oust President Arroyo before her term ends and install her as a caretaker president until things return to “normal.” Some people call it, “self-coup.”

If such would be the case, would the people rise again? According to a SWS survey held on October 24-27, 2009, “Half (49%) of adults sense that people power will happen if the 2010 elections fail.”

Behold, People Power is reawakening.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

In July this year, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is expected to be chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. And four other members of the Arroyo dynasty will be Representatives: Gloria’s two sons, Mikey and Dato; her brother-in-law Iggy; and her sister-in-law Lourdes. The House of Representatives will soon be known as the “House of Arroyo.”

But for Gloria to become Speaker, she must first win the election in the 2nd Congressional District of Pampanga. Well, if you listen to Gloria’s rival, Adonis Simpao, it looks like she will have the fight of her life. It’s going to be like the biblical battle between David and Goliath. Yup, it’s going to be Adonis vs. Gloriath.

Recently, Gloria announced that she was going on a “charm offensive” around the country because she wants to change the people’s impression of her by promoting her “legacy.” What legacy? Well, let’s see: legacy of corruption, legacy of poverty… Yup, she sure is going to leave a lot of legacies behind. Wah wah we!

But according to Gloria’s Exec Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, Gloria wants to reconcile with her enemies and detractors before she steps down. Gloria said she didn’t want to step down with a heavy heart. Or perhaps she’s scared that her enemies and detractors would file plunder charges against her when she steps down. Like they say, it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. told Gloria bluntly: “Admit first you erred.” Whoa! If Gloria would admit that she erred, then she should also return her “loot” to the people, and as Bishop Oscar Cruz — who threatened her with excommunication — told her: “Confess your sins.” Now, these are tall orders and I doubt if Gloria would comply to their demands.

But somebody took her up. Former House Speakers Joe de Venecia reconciled with Gloria. Why not? With De Venecia’s perceived influence over 50 congressmen, Gloria needs Joe in her bid for the Speakership in July.

But what’s in it for Joe? For one thing, Joe’s wife, Gina, was tickled pink when the couple reconciled with Gloria. Happy days are here again! Now, they can all go golfing in China again and hobnob with high Chinese officials. They should bring their caddy with them, former Comelec Chairman and “fixer extraordinaire” Benjamin Abalos. He’s good at making deals at the golf course. Remember the ZTE/NBN scandal? Well, the project didn’t go through but somebody high up pocketed a huge non-refundable commission — or “tongpat” — from the Chinese. But, hey, the Chinese are pretty smart, you can’t fool them a second time.

***

Gloria’s “anointed” candidate, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro put his foot in his mouth when he vowed to “put the economy in order once he is elected by working for a sustained annual growth of 8%.” Well, last year’s economic growth was 0.9% under Gloria, his mentor. Since he promised to run the government the way Gloria ran it, how could Gibo expect to increase growth to 8% annually and sustain it? Back to the drawing board, Gibo… or better, back to school.

Gibo has been winning in mock polls in university campuses. Well, the students probably thought that he was running for president of their student council. With an anemic 4% rating in recent poll surveys, perhaps Gibo should enroll in a university and run for student council president. In six years, he can try again to run for president of the country.

Meanwhile, Gibo’s cousin and presidential frontrunner Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III challenged his closest rival, Manny “Money Villarroyo” Villar, to a debate. Villarroyo accepted the challenge with one condition: “no hitting below the belt.” Huh? I don’t know if asking Villarroyo to explain the C-5 corruption scandal would constitute “hitting below the belt”? It’s not. But it sure would hit him where it hurts most: his character. But why would he care about his “character” when he has lots of moolah to buy the presidency? What Manny wants, money gets.

The other day, Gibo and another presidential wannabe, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada attended the 25th Feast of the “Tabernacles of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name,” hoping that the charismatic and influential Pastor Apollo Quiboloy would endorse one of them.

A few weeks ago, Pastor Q said that during the 2004 campaign, the Almighty Father revealed Gloria to him. He said that the Divine Providence told him that Gloria was the anointed leader of the country when she was running for president in 2004. No wonder Gibo and Erap are competing for Pastor Q’s endorsement.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

The ouster of Gov. Fr. Ed Panlilio from the governorship of Pampanga once again reinforces the belief that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is being used to “terminate” the political lives of the enemies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Panlilio was the third governor who got axed for not playing ball with Gloria.

The day before Panlilio’s ouster, Comelec declared that Bulacan Gov. Joselito “Jonjon” Mendoza lost the recount to former Agrarian Reform Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan.

In December 2009, Comelec ousted Isabela Governor Grace Padaca and declared former Governor Benjamin Dy the winner in the 2007 elections.

In addition to the three ousted governors, several other LP candidates have been targeted.  Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, who has been mayor for 18 years, has a pending disqualification case on the issue of citizenship.

Another LP candidate who has a pending case in the Comelec is Batangas Vice Governor Jose Antonio “Marc” Leviste II who is seeking reelection.

Meanwhile, the Comelec’s First Division disqualified LP member Abraham Kahlil Mitra from the Palawan gubernatorial race on the issue of residency. Comelec said that Mitra failed to proved his residency which Mitra vehemently denied.

In my article, “Czarina and the Priest” (February 24, 2009), I wrote: “It all started when Panlilio and other governors were invited to a breakfast meeting at the Malacañang Palace in October 2007. During the meeting, a presidential aide handed brown envelopes to the guests without any explanation. The brown envelope that Panlilio received contained P500,000. After a few days — not knowing what the money was for — Panlilio went public and disclosed the money which he believed was a bribe.”

Panlilio vs. Arroyo

Panlilio’s exposé of the bribery was tantamount to a declaration of war against Arroyo. Pretty soon, Pampanga’s vice governor, provincial board members, and all the municipal mayors ganged up on Panlilio and openly opposed him on everything he did or wanted to do.

Unfazed by the resistance, Panlilio persisted and held his political enemies at bay. Last year, people believed to be associated with Lilia Pineda — one of two candidates that Panlilio defeated in the gubernatorial election in 2007 — launched a recall petition against Panlilio. Some people questioned if Gloria’s son, Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, had a hand in initiating the recall move.

The recall did not materialize and Panlilio’s enemies looked for other ways to remove him from office. The Panlilio-Arroyo war came out in the open when Panlilio accused Gloria and Mikey of “coddling” the jueteng protectors in Pampanga.

Recount

Things got worse for Panlilio when he launched his presidential bid. And when he vowed that he will prosecute Gloria should he win the presidency, his enemies went into high gear and decided to file a recount petition against him.

On February 11, 2010, the Comelec’s Second Division, in its ruling penned by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, said that Pineda — who lost by 1,147 votes to Panlilio in 2007 — got 190,729 votes against Panlilio’s 188,718 votes, a margin of 2,011. However, Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, in his concurring opinion, differed with a lower margin of only 356 votes!

How could the huge discrepancy happen? What was the basis for the commissioners’ conflicting counts? Shouldn’t they have reconciled their numbers first and resolve any discrepancies before issuing a “final decision” ousting Panlilio? It only proves that the recount process was inaccurate and not credible. It looks farcical.

It is interesting to note that the Panlilio-Pineda recount was completed way back in October 2009 and the Comelec decision was supposed to have been announced last November. However, it was leaked out that Pineda won in the recount. But the commissioners said that their “final decision” might come as a surprise to everybody. It would seem that there were issues that had yet to be resolved.

The silence during the three-month hiatus that followed was deafening. Were the “players” trying to work out a face-saving and amicable “settlement” for Panlilio? But once again, Panlilio pulled a fast one on them. He surprised everybody when he changed his plan to retire from politics and go back to priesthood. Instead, he filed his Certificate of Candidacy for governor on the last day of filing. The news must have zapped Arroyo and Pineda with a double whammy. And that was probably the reason why the “final decision” to oust Panlilio was issued. In my opinion, if Panlilio did not file for reelection and retired at the end of his term on June 30, 2010, the Comelec would have declared him the winner in the recount — thus allowing him to finish his term — and Pineda would run virtually unopposed for governor.

With Gloria running for a congressional seat representing Pampanga’s second district and her son, Mikey, a Galing Pinoy party-list nominee, the governor’s support is a key factor to ensure the Arroyos’ victory in the elections. And with Lilia Pineda as governor, the Arroyos would be able to utilize provincial resources — which they would not be able to use if Panlilio remained in office — for their campaigns.

In politics, nothing happens by accident. Every move politicians make have been hatched ahead of time and the execution is just a question of timing. And the “hatchet jobs” done on Panlilio, Padaca, and Mendoza couldn’t have been more timely.

Adonis vs. Gloriath

With the elections barely three months away, the electoral process enters a crucial period where incumbent governors could play a pivotal role in electing candidates for national and congressional seats. And whoever ends up controlling the House of Representatives would get the Speakership. A few days ago, Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino announced that the Lakas-Kampi-CMD will field Gloria Arroyo as its bet for Speaker in the next Congress. He bragged, “PGMA (Mrs. Arroyo) will win as Speaker hands down. She continues to wield power and influence. So if her detractors think they’ve seen the last of her, they are mistaken. She’ll be around longer than they think.” That’s arrogance!

It is now clear what the final moves of Gloria are going to be. Just a few more moves before she goes for the ultimate checkmate… unless she is checkmated first by Adonis Simpao who is challenging her in Pampanga’s second congressional district election. Simpao and his supporters promised that Gloria will have the fight for her political life. Indeed, it’s going to be like the biblical battle between David and Goliath. It’s going to be Adonis vs. Gloriath. Never in the history of the Philippines would one district election determine the future of the entire nation.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

The ouster of Gov. Fr. Ed Panlilio from the governorship of Pampanga once again reinforces the belief that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is being used to “terminate” the political lives of the enemies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Panlilio was the third governor who got axed for not playing ball with Gloria.

The day before Panlilio’s ouster, Comelec declared that Bulacan Gov. Joselito “Jonjon” Mendoza lost the recount to former Agrarian Reform Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan.

In December 2009, Comelec ousted Isabela Governor Grace Padaca and declared former Governor Benjamin Dy the winner in the 2007 elections.

In addition to the three ousted governors, several other LP candidates have been targeted.  Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, who has been mayor for 18 years, has a pending disqualification case on the issue of citizenship.

Another LP candidate who has a pending case in the Comelec is Batangas Vice Governor Jose Antonio “Marc” Leviste II who is seeking reelection.

Meanwhile, the Comelec’s First Division disqualified LP member Abraham Kahlil Mitra from the Palawan gubernatorial race on the issue of residency. Comelec said that Mitra failed to proved his residency which Mitra vehemently denied.

In my article, “Czarina and the Priest” (February 24, 2009), I wrote: “It all started when Panlilio and other governors were invited to a breakfast meeting at the Malacañang Palace in October 2007. During the meeting, a presidential aide handed brown envelopes to the guests without any explanation. The brown envelope that Panlilio received contained P500,000. After a few days — not knowing what the money was for — Panlilio went public and disclosed the money which he believed was a bribe.”

Panlilio vs. Arroyo

Panlilio’s exposé of the bribery was tantamount to a declaration of war against Arroyo. Pretty soon, Pampanga’s vice governor, provincial board members, and all the municipal mayors ganged up on Panlilio and openly opposed him on everything he did or wanted to do.

Unfazed by the resistance, Panlilio persisted and held his political enemies at bay. Last year, people believed to be associated with Lilia Pineda — one of two candidates that Panlilio defeated in the gubernatorial election in 2007 — launched a recall petition against Panlilio. Some people questioned if Gloria’s son, Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, had a hand in initiating the recall move.

The recall did not materialize and Panlilio’s enemies looked for other ways to remove him from office. The Panlilio-Arroyo war came out in the open when Panlilio accused Gloria and Mikey of “coddling” the jueteng protectors in Pampanga.

Recount

Things got worse for Panlilio when he launched his presidential bid. And when he vowed that he will prosecute Gloria should he win the presidency, his enemies went into high gear and decided to file a recount petition against him.

On February 11, 2010, the Comelec’s Second Division, in its ruling penned by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, said that Pineda — who lost by 1,147 votes to Panlilio in 2007 — got 190,729 votes against Panlilio’s 188,718 votes, a margin of 2,011. However, Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, in his concurring opinion, differed with a lower margin of only 356 votes!

How could the huge discrepancy happen? What was the basis for the commissioners’ conflicting counts? Shouldn’t they have reconciled their numbers first and resolve any discrepancies before issuing a “final decision” ousting Panlilio? It only proves that the recount process was inaccurate and not credible. It looks farcical.

It is interesting to note that the Panlilio-Pineda recount was completed way back in October 2009 and the Comelec decision was supposed to have been announced last November. However, it was leaked out that Pineda won in the recount. But the commissioners said that their “final decision” might come as a surprise to everybody. It would seem that there were issues that had yet to be resolved.

The silence during the three-month hiatus that followed was deafening. Were the “players” trying to work out a face-saving and amicable “settlement” for Panlilio? But once again, Panlilio pulled a fast one on them. He surprised everybody when he changed his plan to retire from politics and go back to priesthood. Instead, he filed his Certificate of Candidacy for governor on the last day of filing. The news must have zapped Arroyo and Pineda with a double whammy. And that was probably the reason why the “final decision” to oust Panlilio was issued. In my opinion, if Panlilio did not file for reelection and retired at the end of his term on June 30, 2010, the Comelec would have declared him the winner in the recount — thus allowing him to finish his term — and Pineda would run virtually unopposed for governor.

With Gloria running for a congressional seat representing Pampanga’s second district and her son, Mikey, a Galing Pinoy party-list nominee, the governor’s support is a key factor to ensure the Arroyos’ victory in the elections. And with Lilia Pineda as governor, the Arroyos would be able to utilize provincial resources — which they would not be able to use if Panlilio remained in office — for their campaigns.

In politics, nothing happens by accident. Every move politicians make have been hatched ahead of time and the execution is just a question of timing. And the “hatchet jobs” done on Panlilio, Padaca, and Mendoza couldn’t have been more timely.

Adonis vs. Gloriath

With the elections barely three months away, the electoral process enters a crucial period where incumbent governors could play a pivotal role in electing candidates for national and congressional seats. And whoever ends up controlling the House of Representatives would get the Speakership. A few days ago, Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino announced that the Lakas-Kampi-CMD will field Gloria Arroyo as its bet for Speaker in the next Congress. He bragged, “PGMA (Mrs. Arroyo) will win as Speaker hands down. She continues to wield power and influence. So if her detractors think they’ve seen the last of her, they are mistaken. She’ll be around longer than they think.” That’s arrogance!

It is now clear what the final moves of Gloria are going to be. Just a few more moves before she goes for the ultimate checkmate… unless she is checkmated first by Adonis Simpao who is challenging her in Pampanga’s second congressional district election. Simpao and his supporters promised that Gloria will have the fight for her political life. Indeed, it’s going to be like the biblical battle between David and Goliath. It’s going to be Adonis vs. Gloriath. Never in the history of the Philippines would one district election determine the future of the entire nation.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Dave San Pedro

Text message of the week: “Now the cat’s out of the bag… Manny Villar is the secret candidate of GMA… Mike Arroyo himself met with Villar at the house of Mike Defensor last Jan. 7… Villar secretly agreed to make GMA as Speaker of the House and protect her should Villar win the presidency… Villar agreed to GMA’s offer of massive logistical support in GMA’s commissioners in the Comelec who will assure Villar’s victory…” (GMA is the acronym of prez Gloria Macapagal Arroyo). Like a virus, the text message spread like wild fire. Yup, that’s the power of the text and the Philippines is the “texting capital” of the world.

Is the text message true? Well, as I said in last week’s column, “Gloria loves money, Manny loves glory.” And as the old adage says, “Love of money is the root of all evil,” I must add that “Glory is the best aphrodisiac!” So, one can say that the Villar-Arroyo — or Villarroyo — “marriage” may have been made in Heaven but it definitely was consummated in Hell. Kawawa naman ang mga Pinoy, mahirap na, nasa impiyerno pa (Poor Pinoys, they’re already poor and now they’re going to Hell).

With the Villarroyo “marriage” what’s going to happen to Gloria’s “baby,” presidential wannabe Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro? Just read the newspapers: Malacañang says, “Gilbert Teodoro Jr. can successfully run his electoral campaign without help from President Arroyo.” That’s strike one! Malacañang says, “President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will likely keep away from the sorties of administration standard bearer Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. during the entire campaign period.” Strike two! In a recent press briefing Gloria’s new Press Secretary, Cris Icban Jr., said that Gloria “deliberately decided that Gibo stands on his own.” Strike three! Perhaps it’s time for Gibo to cut his losses and get behind his cousin, Noynoy Aquino, whose lead over Money Villarroyo is down to only 2 percent.

During his proclamation rally, Gibo vowed to “scour the remotest of towns to win over the voters and drawing on Star trek’s line, ‘where no man has gone before’.” Well, he better make sure he knows how to get back home; otherwise, it’s “bye, baby, bye.”

Another text message that’s been going around in cyberspace is:

NOYNOY: Di ako magnanakaw! (I’m not going to steal!)

GIBO: Di ko na kailangang magnakaw! (I don’t need to steal!)

VILLAR: Di na ako magnanakaw! (I’ll stop stealing!)

ERAP: Kailangan ko uling magnakaw! (I need to steal again!)

GMA: Wala na kayong mananakaw! (Nothing is left for your to steal!)

Presidential wannabe Richard “Flashy Dick” Gordon and his running mate, Bayani Fernando — who call themselves, “transformers” — started their campaign riding a pink and blue truck which they dubbed, “Optimum Prime.” They said that they’re running their campaign on a “shoestring budget.” With their gas-guzzling truck, they might run out of money pretty soon and finish their campaign riding on a carabao.

Meanwhile, Flashy Dick’s nephew, John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes, who is also running for president, started his campaign going house to house in Olongapo City distributing flyers and pins to voters. Now, that’s what I call a real “grassroots” campaign. It might take him 10 years to cover all the cities and towns in the country, but that’s okay. By that time, he’d be old enough to become president. Perhaps, he should quit his quixotic quest and volunteer to be his uncle’s truck driver. That would save Flashy Dick a few bucks for gas.

But I must take my hat off to Bro. Eddie Villanueva who did a spectacular gimmickry to kickoff his campaign. He unfurled the world’s biggest Philippine flag at the Rizal Park. The flag measured 180 meters by 92 meters, weighed 3.8 tons, and covered a 2-hectare area. But something was missing they didn’t have a flagpole! It would have been breathtaking to see the huge flag on a flagpole as tall as the 2,700-foot Khalifa Tower in Dubai. But Bro. Eddie could just have used the P10 million spent on the flag to feed the poor. That’s a lot of rice. Wah wah we!

Manny Villar — aka “Money Villarroyo” — had celebrities grace his kickoff including “Wowowee” host Willie Revillame and Comedy King Dolphy. But Money Villarroyo was angry when a text message started going around saying that he bribed Dolphy P30 million for his endorsement. See what happens when you have lots and lots of money? Yup, you can buy the presidency. And you can always recover your “investment” and much more than you can imagine. Like they say, “it comes with the territory.”

I saw a YouTube video of people endorsing Villar. They’re saying that “Manny Villar will make this country great again!” Déjà vu! Didn’t Ferdinand Marcos use the slogan, “This nation can be great again!”? Instead, the country became the “Sick Man of Asia” under his dictatorship. Well, if that is the vision of “Money Villarroyo,” then the people should be ready for the return of the “Sick Man.”

However, if Gloria succeeds in changing the government to a parliamentary system and become the Prime Minister next year, the country will continue to be known as the “Armpit of Asia.”

Late last year, after the flooding in Manila caused by Typhoon Ondoy, many supporters of Gloria suggested to move the seat of government to Pampanga, her home province. Well, if Gloria remains in power, it could happen. Now, we know why Gov. Fr. Ed Panlilio was ousted the other day by the Comelec “Hit Squad.” With the Jueteng Lord’s wife — Gloria’s “kumadre” — going to be installed as governor of the “Jueteng Vatican” province, Gloria would have immense power and lots of moolah.

Now, I’m beginning to see the big picture when Press Secretary Icban likened Gloria to Ferdinand Marcos. Yup, with Gloria as Prime Minister, she’d try to stay in power until her dream of transforming the country into an “Enchanted Kingdom” is realized. Don’t hold your breath folks ‘cuz that could take some time.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

The official start of the 2010 elections has just begun and presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar has already spent more than P540 million of his own money in television and radio advertising. That is just for starters.

Villar is pursuing his dream of becoming President with steely determination backed by a war chest reputed to be around P7 billion. His wife, Congresswoman Cynthia Villar, once said that “they have never lost an election and they certainly have no intention of losing this one.” Does that mean that Villar is going to “buy the presidency” at any cost if that’s what it would take to win?

With a net worth of US$940 million (P43 billion), Villar has what it takes to buy the presidency. He can spend another P10 billion on top of the P7 billion and it wouldn’t hurt him a bit. He can buy television and radio advertisement slots as well as billboards along major highways in every province and that would make him a popular household name just like “Coke” and “Pepsi.”

It is no wonder then that the latest poll surveys show Villar and Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in statistical dead heat. And if the elections were held today, the race would end in a photo finish.

One thing that the poll surveys proved is that advertising works. Selling one’s self is no different from selling a product. Saturate the market with advertisement and, rest assured, the product will sell.

But marketing is only one aspect of winning an election, particularly in the Philippines. In addition to marketing, there are several factors that would determine the outcome of the elections. But let’s talk about the three most important factors: organization, command votes and, most importantly, lots and lots of money.

Political machine

Villar has transformed the Nacionalista Party (NP) into the most efficient political machine in the country today. By having himself elected as the party’s President, he retains total control of the party’s political machinery. Needless to say, Villar spent a lot of money to build a well-oiled political machine. The NP announced a few weeks ago that it will organize a million-strong volunteer force to make sure that his votes are “protected” during the elections. But it’s not cheap to maintain an efficient volunteer organization. The volunteers have to be housed, fed, trained, transported, and paid, if necessary. Assuming that Villar is going to spend at least P1,000 per volunteer, his total cost for maintaining the volunteer force would be a minimum of P1 billion. That’s a lot of moolah.

Command votes

“Command vote” is a key element in politics in the Philippines where political patronage is a way of life. A case in point is the command vote of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) where the church’s Supreme Leader requires the church members to vote for a particular candidate as a “manifestation of religious unity.” It is no wonder then that a majority of politicians do what they can to get the endorsement of the Supreme Leader.

Another influential religious leader is Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ which is reputed to have six million members. A few days ago, politicians trekked to Pastor Q’s annual thanksgiving event to seek his “blessings.” Three presidential candidates — Manny Villar, Gilbert Teodoro, and Bro. Eddie Villanueva — were among those who paid homage to Pastor Q.

In addition to religious leaders, warlords and political dynasties also wield political power in their bailiwicks. There are about 65 political dynasties in the country and countless warlords of which a large number are in Mindanao. Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales has reported that there are 132 private armies controlled by warlords and political leaders. Whoever gets the support of these warlords and political leaders would have an edge in winning the presidency. But it would also cost a lot of money.

Buying the presidency

To run a successful presidential campaign requires a huge war chest, anywhere from P2 billion to 5 billion. A good portion of that would be used to pay the warlords and political dynasties to get their command votes. In addition, vote-buying is also prevalent in presidential campaigns where money is paid directly to voters through the candidates’ ground operatives.

And to make sure that the candidates’ votes aren’t “stolen” during the canvassing, Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials are bribed to manipulate the numbers. The most common election-cheating system is “dagdag-bawas” (add-subtract) where numbers are manipulated in favor of candidates who pay the price. The notorious “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal which allegedly favored President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to win the 2004 elections was an example of “dagdag-bawas” election cheating involving the collusion of Comelec officials. Without their “cooperation,” this form of cheating couldn’t happen.

Villar-Arroyo unholy alliance

The other day, columnist Rey Arcilla in his column, “Ominous,” wrote: “Text message of the week, the veracity of which I do not guarantee: ‘Now the cat’s out of the bag… Manny Villar is the secret candidate of GMA… Mike Arroyo himself met with Villar at the house of Mike Defensor last Jan. 7… Villar secretly agreed to make GMA as Speaker of the House and protect her should Villar win the presidency… Villar agreed to GMA’s offer of massive logistical support in GMA’s commissioners in the Comelec who will assure Villar’s victory’.”  This would lend credence to Noynoy’s apprehension that Villar and Gloria have formed an “unholy alliance.”

I believe this to be true because Gloria’s anointed candidate, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, is having a hard time getting popular support. With an anemic 5% rating in recent poll surveys, there is no way that Gibo could overcome Noynoy or Villar. And with Villar’s surge in the surveys, it makes sense that Gloria would abandon Teodoro’s “sinking ship” and throw her support — albeit secretly — and resources behind Villar.

Liberal Party campaign manager, Florencio Abad Jr., hit the nail on the head when he said, “With the 2010 presidential election shaping up as a two-horse race between Villar and Aquino, it is inevitable that Ms Arroyo will throw her lot with Villar.” With Gloria getting solidly behind Villar, the prospect of a repeat of the massive election cheating in 2004 engineered by the “Garci boys” is very real. Most of the “Garci boys” are still in the Comelec, most of whom were promoted to more powerful positions as “rewards” for their invaluable service to Gloria in 2004.

Cynthia Villar’s vow that “they have no intention of losing this one” could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Unless a strong “moral force” emerges in the next 90 days prior to the elections, the regime of Gloria could extend under a plutocratic Villar presidency.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by David San Pedro

In 1565, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived on the shores of Cebu and established his rule in the name of “God, Glory, and Gold.” Four centuries later, in the 1965 presidential election, Ferdinand Marcos defeated President Diosdado Macapagal and established a dictatorship using “Guns, Goons, and Gold.” In 2001, Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ousted Presidency Joseph “Erap” Estrada and began her reign for “Gloria, Glory, and Gold.” In 2010, Manny Villar wants to become President at all costs using “Gold, Gold, and Gold.” With a net worth of P43 billion, Villar could easily buy the presidency. Yup, what Manny wants, money gets.

Villar is so filthy rich that columnist Lito Banayo called him, “Money Villarroyo.” I can understand “Money,” but why “Villarroyo”? Well, Lito believes that Villar is Gloria’s “secret candidate.” And this led presidential wannabe Noynoy Aquino to accuse Manny and Gloria of having an “unholy alliance.” Hey, if you don’t believe it, just follow Manny’s money and see if it leads to the palace by the Pasig river.

And what will happen now to Gloria’s anointed presidential candidate, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro? Well, with his poor ratings in recent poll surveys, I wonder why he’s still in the race? He should read the handwriting on the wall, which says: “Gloria loves money and Manny loves glory.” Yup, it’s the “love story” of the year.

The recent SWS survey shows Noynoy Aquino with 42%; Money Villar with 35%; former prez Joseph “Erap” Estrada with 13%; Gibo Teodoro with 4%; Richard “Flashy Dick” Gordon and Brother Eddie Villanueva with 2% each; Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal with 0.4%; Vetellano Acosta with 0.3%; John Carlos de los Reyes with 0.2%; and Nick Perlas with 0.1%. What in Heaven’s name are the seven “tailenders” doing in the race? Can’t they see the handwriting on the wall? It says, “IT’S OVER.”

But like they say, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” Well, the “tailenders” aren’t quitting yet. Gibo believes that members of his party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD, will deliver the votes in their bailiwicks. He’s right! They’re delivering the votes to someone, but not to Gibo. Like they say, “BS walks and money talks.” And Money Villarroyo has all the money to do the talking.

Flashy Dick believes that his “Bagumbayan” (New Nation) followers will deliver the votes. But that’s only 2% of the total votes! Can’t he see the numbers?

Brother Eddie believes that his “Jesus is Lord” followers are going to perform miracles for him. Sorry, brother, but only money can perform miracles during elections.

Jamby believes that she’ll win because she’s the only woman in the race. Sorry, Jamby, but Erap has already sewn up all the women’s votes.

Vetellano Acosta believes that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ followers will vote for him. Sorry, Vetellano, but Da Apo’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is running for Senator under Villar’s Nacionalista Party and he promised to deliver the “Solid North” to Villar.

The youthful John Carlos believes that the youth will vote for him. Sorry, JC, but they aren’t of voting age yet. Better luck next time, kiddo.

Nick believes that his pro-environment programs will get him the votes. Nick should get this in his head: the people need shelter, food, and jobs. Giving them rolls of toilet paper isn’t going to win elections.

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Over the past couple of weeks, the Senate was transformed into a circus! The rambunctious “Gang of 12” tried to censure Villar for ethics violation involving the controversial C-5 road extension “double insertion” scandal. With only 11 senators present, one in detention, another one on the lam, and Villar’s allies boycotting the session, the Senate was “comatose” without a quorum.

Furious for the Villaristas’ boycott, Jamby Madrigal, the main complainant against Villar, called Villar a “corrupt” and “evil candidate.” She said, “He thinks he can buy everything, including Malacañang.” Duh? Jamby should know, “What Manny wants, money gets.”

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How did Smartactic, Inc. get the Automated Election System (AES) contract? The story goes: There were three bidders for AES. The bidders were asked to demonstrate the speed of transmitting the ballot data to the Central Canvassing Center (CCC).

Safe N Accurate, Inc. fed the marked ballot into the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machine and the data was received and recorded at the CCC in one minute. “Very good,” said the Comelec commissioners.

Next was Fast and Quick, Inc. They fed the marked ballot into the PCOS machine and the data was received and recorded at the CCC in 30 seconds. “Fantastic!” said the commissioners.

Last was Smartactic, Inc. They fed the marked ballot into the PCOS machine and nothing happened. One of the commissioners called the CCC and said, “The ballot was fed into the PCOS machine at 30 seconds past 9:30 AM. What time did you receive the data?” “Something must have gone wrong, commissioner,” replied the CCC operator. “Tell me exactly what happened?” the commissioner said. “Well,” the operator said, “we received the data at 32 seconds past 9:30 AM, commissioner. But what is strange is that the data was recorded 25 seconds past 9:30 AM. It was recorded seven seconds before we received the data! And the numbers didn’t match!” The commissioner replied, “That’s exactly how we wanted it to work. By the way, may I know whom I’m talking to?” “This is Garci. I gotta go, sir, I have a call waiting on the other line,” the operator said and hung up.

“Hello, Garci,” said the person on the other line. “Yes, ma’am. This is Garci. Everything works just the way you wanted it, ma’am. Your presidential candidate will win in the elections, ma’am.” The following day, Comelec awarded the AES contract to Smartactic, Inc.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)