To the Point
By Emil Jurado
Manila Standard Today
In the aftermath of tropical depression Gener which brought torrential rain and flood across the archipelago, people are asking: Where’s our President?
Santa Banana, it seems that President Aquino—who calls the people his “boss”—is noynoying again. He simply does not care.
In times of distress and disaster, it is natural for people to expect their leaders to commiserate with them and ensure rescue and relief operations.
Alas, in most cases, the President has stayed in his ivory tower, unmindful of the poor who are often in harm’s way.
I hope that by this comment, the President will not fault me for negativism or false reporting. The fact is that we have not seen the President attending to the needs of those devastated by Gener.
My gulay, if former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, despite her debilitating ailment and despite having to wear a brace, could visit her cabalens in Pampanga to commiserate with them, why can’t Mr. Aquino do the same?
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A demolition job against Vice President Jejomar Binay has been under way for some time now. The plan first surfaced after Binay revealed his plans to run for the presidency in 2016. Surveys also show that Binay is the top endorser of Senate aspirants for 2013.
Every now and then, people get anti-Binay text messages, about his family’s visit to Italy, for instance, or the disappearance of Globe Asiatique’s Delfin Lee (who is facing a warrant of arrest because of graft and corruption).
Now the camp of Binay is attributing the demolition job to Audit Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, who has formed a task force to investigate the projects Binay pursued during his 23-year-old stint as mayor of Makati City. This refers to Mendoza’s plan to dig dirt out of the 10-year old Makati Friendship Suites project in the Guadalupe district.
Recall that after Mendoza became the whistle blower of multi-billion-peso scams of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, President Aquino rewarded her by appointing her to the Commission on Audit. Later on, Mendoza became the Palace Doberman along with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, digging up former Chief Justice Renato Corona’s undeclared peso and dollar accounts.
Is she also the Palace Doberman that the President has tasked to go after Binay?
The camp of Binay says that Mendoza has been very vocal about her dislike for the Vice President. She has made her sentiments known to members of Congress and other government officials.
Mendoza is supposedly acting on a complaint filed by “Concerned Employees of Makati” which says that P17.23 million in city government funds were used to purchase the then-unfinished buildings, supposedly to house squatters displaced by fire. The buildings were converted into a hostel for visiting officials from Makati’s numerous sister cities nationwide.
If the complainants are not even brave enough to come out that they must use “concerned employees” as a cover, why should Mendoza create an investigating task force to dig dirt on Binay? My gulay, Ms. Mendoza, your slip is showing.
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President Aquino still doesn’t get it. I’m referring to his favorite saying these days—“if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” in connection with the advocacy of both Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Sonny Belmonte to amend the Constitution’s Jurassic economic provisions. Our Constitution limits foreign ownership of corporations to 40 percent.
I believe the Constitution has to be amended. It was but a reaction to the Martial Law reign. No Constitution is cast in stone that it cannot be changed.
So why is the President resisting calls to amend the Constitution? Is it because this is the legacy of his late mother? I recall a former mayor of Makati who often uttered “Basta!” every time he was asked by critics why he did what he did. “Basta” is a sign of bullheadedness and lack of reason.
Malacañang said that the only concession the President gave Enrile and Belmonte when they saw him to convince him about charter change was that he’d refer the problem to a Cabinet cluster to study the economic and legal implications.
Insiders say however that the President is afraid that it would open the floodgates for other amendments like changing the form of government and extending the terms of some politicians.
Does the President not trust Enrile and Belmonte?
Analysts and observers say this is the best time for charter change. I find it odd though that Enrile and Belmonte still have to consult the President on the matter when they know that Congress is an independent branch of government.
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I have not been shy in showing my admiration for Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras as a member of the Aquino cabinet. Almendras is a gem in the cabinet, unlike many albatrosses around the neck of the President. He thinks out of the box.
There are rumors that Almendras will soon be appointed presidential chief of staff who will coordinate the Cabinet before anything comes to the attention of the President. If this comes to pass, it will be a big loss to the Energy Department, especially the Philippine National Oil Company of which Almendras is chairman.