Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Business leaders against impeachment

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman was quoted as saying that people may be in for a surprise when the chamber finally votes in plenary on the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. Lagman opined that while the majority party and allies may be able to get the minimum 94 votes needed to send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate (especially if there's PDAF envelops preceding the voting), there may be quite a small margin between the yes and the no votes. 

I agree with Edcel on this point, just as I too believe that it's highly doubtful if the House could get a plenary vote this Monday, just three days before the Holy Week recess, given recent adverse developments in Japan and the Middle East. As Cagayan Rep. Jackie Ponce Enrile (who's only the son of the Senate President who would be presiding over Gutierrez's trial in the Senate) recently argued, the House members would look so callous if they push the voting on Gutierrez ahead of taking care of our OFWs' welfare in troubled regions abroad (such as Libya where UN nations are very serious about enforcing the "no fly zone," which could only mean a bigger conflict in that area)

In addition, many LPs themselves feel that the cases against Gutierrez need more work, as some parts are quite weak. They probably are taking Sen. Joker Arroyo's warning about not wasting the senator-judges' time with ill-prepared cases. 

Prominent law firm after Ombudsman's post?

Other factors are weighing in too. It's rumored that a politically influential religious group is working hard to discourage House members from voting against Gutierrez. Then too, the hesitation of big-time business leaders to push the impeachment circus at this time is understandable, as they fear it would divert our nation’s attention from more imperative undertakings at this time, such as checking out our own country’s disaster preparedness, and assessing the impact on our economy of the dim recovery prospects for Japan, our second largest trading partner, in the near future (many local institutions are quite dependent on Japanese aid, which may have to be held in abeyance or at least minimized, pending that country's recovery)

In fact, a very influential business leader whose company is well-diversified has been saying, why not leave Gutierrez to finish her term, which is after all, only a year more. Indeed, why not?

By the way, the persistent rumor is that a powerful and influential law-firm has been actively pushing Gutierrez’s impeachment as it’s interested to have one of its prominent partners assume the Ombudsman's post.  The candidate is a former GMA Cabinet member.

Gina de Venecia emerges from Speaker JDV's shadow

What was former Speaker Jose de Venecia doing in the House plenary hall last Monday afternoon?  Giving support to wife Gina, that’s what. Rep. Gina de Venecia, who now holds the 4th District of Pangasinan seat JDV had occupied  for numerous terms, and which became his springboard for his unbroken record as Speaker for five terms, presided over the House plenary session for one day, as president of the Association of Lady Legislators (ALL), in observance of International Women’s Day lasst Tuesday, March 8. If Gina, in a pink Maria Clara outfit, was nervous at the start, she looked like a veteran on the Speaker’s podium, as she assigned bills to committees. Gina has indeed come a long way from her all-out supporting role to her husband’s ambition, including his unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1998

 Given her intelligence and street smarts, her common touch and her organizational ability, proven during her five terms as president of the Spouses’ Foundation, when it put up havens for battered women, drug-addicted youths and the elderly across the nation (in cooperation with the DSWD), it’s easy to see that GDV could go a long way in politics.

Fetching Lady Legislators as Assistants

 Assisting Gina was a bevy of equally fetching lady legislators in their Filipiniana outfits, namely, Kimi Cojuangco of Pangasinan, Josie Joson of Nueva Ecija and party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy as Deputy Speakers, Angel Amante Matba of Agusan del Norte as Majority Leader and Fatima Aliah Dimaporo of Lanao Norte as Minority Leader. Several lady legislators delivered speeches on vital women’s issues, and my favorite was that of Rep. Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica of Bulacan, who decried the degrading exploitation of women’s bodies in bold and huge advertising billboards. I quite agree---just take a look at the Guadalupe Bridge area in Makati, which looks like one giant Playboy Magazine

The lady legislators have come a long way from when there were only 24 of them in Speaker JDV’s earlier term, which increased to 42 in the 14th Congress. In this 15th Congress there are 64 of them, and many are smart, intelligent and accomplished, aside from good-looking, such as Lucy Torres and Lani Mercado Revilla.

Easily the media darling: Aliah Dimaporo

In celebration of the International Women's Day,  Gina de Venecia brought a dozen lady legislators to the  Bulong-Pulungan forum headed by Bulletin’s Deedee Siytangco, last March 8 at Sofitel Hotel. Easily the media's darling was the good-looking 30-year old Fatima Aliah Dimaporo (daughter of Gov. Imelda Dimaporo, also a looker),  who received her high school education at Brent School (which explains her clipped accent) and her college degree from Mindanao State University.

The story goes that her father  Bobby Dimaporo tried to arrange in true Muslim fashion a marriage for her when she was 25, but his spirited daughter ran away to the US and worked there until she felt comfortable enough to come home.  Aliah told this blogger that she’s enjoying her stint in the House, where she hopes to push laws that will guarantee equality for women in the Muslim world;  but the interesting thing is that, according to rumors, she’s dating a good-looking first-term municipal mayor from Bulacan.

 Could this be a good sample of inter-faith dialogue in the House, Speaker JDV?
Tamako in Kobe

For those of you who have been following my blog on Japan's killer earthquake and tsunami, you’ll recall my little anecdote about how my two-year old granddaughter Tamako, child of my daughter Christine and my Tokyo-based investment banker  son-in-law Keiichi Miki, got under the table with her visiting baby-sitter, at the height of the tremors, and how she  kept giggling and laughing all the time, thinking it was one of those horsey-horsey games she likes to play. Well, in the next few days, as the Japanese nuclear authorities struggled to contain the radio-activity emanating from three damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima, the fear of a core meltdown poisoning the atmosphere as far as Tokyo became very real.  

Apparently to ease the anxiety on every one's part (including this frightened grandma in Manila),  Keiichi sent Tamako and the baby sitter by bullet train to the safety of Kobe in the south, where his mother Keiko and his sister Mari  maintain homes.  Keiichi related that his unsinkable daughter found a six-month old baby on the train who became the object of her fancy, so that she wasn’t bored at all during the three-hour ride. From photos the Mikis have been sending us by email, Tamako is having a ball bonding with her Kobe relatives.

This  decision left me greatly relieved about Tamako,  but of course I continue to worry for Keiichi in Tokyo, who cannot leave as he has to look after his company and people. He emailed that he has launched a “stay-home policy” for his people during the nuclear crisis, although there is a skeletal force of 10-15 people at any time in the office to get things done; thus, for as long as there are people in the office, he has to be in Tokyo, though he plans to take a breather and join his family in Kobe for the weekend.

Japanese discipline and fortitude

I admire my son-in-law’s dedication to duty, which, to my mind, epitomizes somewhat the fantastic discipline and fortitude of the Japanese people which have fared them well in various tragedies since World War II. It has been noted how there has been virtually zero looting. Then there's the incredible heroism of the "Fukushima 50"---those nuclear reactor workers who have risked their lives to prevent a meltdown, encouraged perhaps by the grave concern expressed by their revered Emperor about radiation fallout---that's now touted around the world.

 I also note the stoicism and dignity of the Japanese people in the midst of all the adversities. These traits are revealed by the fact that while the outside world wants to help with all manner of aid, the Japanese have not asked for help;  in fact, the query abroad is, where do we send aid?  The Japanese have, for the most part, relied on their inner strength in tackling their problems, so that there is little doubt in the minds of people abroad that the Japanese nation would in no time overcome the worst of its problems.

All these virtues the world now praises in the Japanese, in turn, stem from generations of enlightened reforms dating to the Meiji era in the early 19th century, in  the realm of politics, education, and the inculcation of values of the ordinary folk, such as nationalism,  discipline, dignity, hard work, pride in themselves but concern for the welfare of others above self. We could learn a lot from the Japanese indeed

For reactions/comments, pls. email: polbits@yahoo.com