To the Point
By Emil Jurado
Manila Standard Today
When President Aquino, claiming he was biased, passed on to Vice President Jejomar Binay the burden of deciding what to do about the remains of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, we were made to understand that whatever judgment Binay would make would be final.
Binay offered a Solomonic solution. While Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the late President should however be buried with full military honors in Ilocos Norte, the “Marcos Forever” country.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda R. Marcos, and her children—Senator Bongbong Marcos and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos—are all for the recommendation.
Personally, I think it would be best for Marcos to be buried either in Sarrat, where he was born or Batac, where his remains lie now in an air-conditioned crypt.
But now it seems that President Aquino is agonizing over Binay’s recommendation. It’s taking him so long to give the go-signal!
If the President overrules Binay’s recommendation, what does that make of him? And if he decides in favor of Binay, he’ll certainly be vilified by his “kakampi,” “kaklase” and “kabarilan,” who have made no bones about their dislike for giving full military honors to Marcos.
My gulay, if the President doesn’t trust Binay’s judgment, why did he pass the buck to the latter in the first place? Obviously, he was afraid to risk his popularity.
To me, whatever decision the President makes may be his defining moment. This will be a test of his political will. This issue has severely divided the nation. It must have closure soon. It is not doing the country—or the President—any good.
The longer it takes the President to decide, the more his lack of resolve is exposed. It certainly looks as though he cannot go against the wishes of his allies!
The reported return of suspended Land Transportation Office Chief Virginia Torres to LTO, despite Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s stand that she should remain suspended, also shows the weakness of the President’s political will.
Torres is a shooting buddy of the President. She was a former chief of the LTO in Tarlac. Will the issue be another slap on the face of De Lima? After Rico Puno and Panfilo Lacson, I am surprised that De Lima still has not resigned.
Is it true that when the President decided to let Torres return to office, then transportation and Communication Secretary Jose de Jesus had no choice but to resign?
Indeed that the perception that the President is soft when it comes to his partymates, classmates and shooting buddies may soon become his undoing.
From Day One, I have had my misgivings about the involvement of former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes in the murder of journalist-environmentalist Dr. Gerardo Ortega. I know Reyes personally and I can say that he’s not the kind of politician who would resort to killing his critics to silence them.
Thus, when Reyes’ alleged bodyguard testified to the involvement of both Reyes and former Marinduque Gov. Bong Carrion, my doubts about the real mastermind of the Ortega killing doubled—especially so when the testimony of Reyes’ former bodyguard came to light.
The testimony of Reyes’ former bodyguard uncorroborated. It also turns out that he was not a credible witness, having been involved in a murder and qualified theft case in Quezon City. That’s the reason I said that the Justice Department was clueless about the people it places under its Witness Protection Program.
I am a lawyer myself and I think that the indictment of anybody suspected of being a murderer must be based on evidence established beyond reasonable doubt. This element was lacking in the case of Reyes and Carrion.
Who then masterminded the Ortega killing?
Note that nobody is buying the call of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda to boycott Chinese products in the wake of the growing tension between the Philippines and China over claims on the Spratly Islands.
Salceda is just not qualified to make statements on foreign affairs.
Furthermore, an anti-Chinese statement like Salceda’s would only worsen the problem. Really, he should just stick to the problems in his province.
Washington’s words, through American Ambassador Harry Thomas, that the United States would comply with its obligations to come to the aid of the Philippines in case the Spratly Islands dispute with China comes to head should not be taken on its face value.
While it is true that the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US in 1951 provides that, “Each party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes,” this doesn’t mean that if China asserts its claims over the Spratly Islands, the US would intervene.
Some of those who know geopolitics will tell you that the MDT refers only to an outright attack against the Philippines by a foreign country—not on the assertion of China over its claim over the islands.
There are also those who claim that the interest of the United States lies in keeping the sea lanes open and maintaining regional stability.
This is but logical, given that over 70 percent of oil coming from the Middle East pass through the Malacca Strait and on to the China Sea.
This simply means that when a foreign ambassador assures us Filipinos that his country would respect its commitment, we should first examine the fine print. We know quite well that diplomats are trained to tell lies with a straight face.
I must congratulate Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras in convincing President Aquino to give priority to renewable energy, which to my mind, is the future of power and energy, being clean and green.
Renewable energy consists of solar, wind power, ocean power geothermal, and more. And that’s why the Philippine National Oil Co., subsidiary, the Renewable Energy Corp., becomes relevant.
With Almendras as PNOC chairman, together with PNOC President Tony Cailao of the PNOC Energy Group of Companies, we can look forward to the full development of renewable energy to meet the country’s challenges in the years to come.
When I was in Ilocos Norte last month I had the opportunity to get a look at the 20 multi-story windmills developed by Sen. Bongbong Marcos when he was governor of the province, with the help of then PNOC Chairman, Vincent Perez, who was also Energy Secretary.
And those windmills power Laoag.
PNOC is now the largest solar power provider, and with the non-competing clause in the agreement, when PNOC sold Exploration Development Corp. to the Lopez group, geothermal has exceeded expectations. The President’s push for renewable energy is one good news that we can look forward to.
Strangely, the President’s Communications Group remains clueless about its potentials.
The plan of MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino to have a main provincial bus terminal outside of the metropolis proper, possibly in the Balintawak district, is a brilliant idea. Its time has come.
Since 70 percent of all buses ply the main thoroughfares of Metro Manila, especially Edsa, it is logical to prevent provincial buses from further clogging the streets.
I can understand the objections foisted by provincial bus operators and commuters. It would mean less business for the former and additional fare for commuters going to Balintawak.
In the end, the public should understand it will be for their own good considering the gridlock and unbearable traffic problems we have now as a result of too many buses plying the streets of Metro Manila.
Tolentino tells us that his plan could materialize before the end of the year. We look forward to it considering the fact that every day along Edsa, the traffic jams seem to get worse.