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.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In detonating an alleged coup plot against him, was P-Noy trying to create new issue, in order to distance himself from collapsed impeachment complaint? GMA steely strong as she bade hasta la vista to her former officials, friends and relatives at Iggy’s wake; CJ shouldn’t take the witness stand; what happened to UP on recent bar exams?

Out of the blue, President Aquino the other day revealed an alleged plot to remove him from office.  He was quoted as telling media about the “efforts of some quarters who wanted him out of the way,” attributing these as attempts “to distract him in his bid to go after crooks in the government.” This sudden revelation by P-Noy himself of an alleged coup plot against him caught the military flat-footed. “What coup plot?” queried AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., who then spun the usual fidelity of the AFP to the chain-of-command.  
Several developments may have prompted P-Noy’s advisers to spin this coup plot, beginning with that unnamed person caught by police distributing anti-Palace leaflets at the mammoth INC-led religious gathering. P-Noy’s advisers may also have deemed it best to detonate that plot to enable their ward to distance himself from the PROSECUTION’S DEBACLE---lest he take the heat for it.  Note that leftist allies of P-Noy, notably Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casino as well as the KMU, have been firing away at lead prosecutor Niel Tupas for bungling the impeachment complaint, especially after the panel's abandonment of the  five other Articles of Impeachment and its failure to get SC Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to testify.
Poor Niel Tupas is now reaping all the blame, when he was merely following the script of Malacanang in rushing that infirmed impeachment complaint.
Finally, Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo came home after a month-long celebrated tug-of-war among the women in his life on who would have the say in handling the funeral arrangements for him.  Curiously, when Iggy’s remains finally were opened to public viewing at the Arroyos’ ancestral home in plush La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City, another woman in his life, his sister-in-law, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, inevitably came to act as the official hostess for the first day. 

The Pasay RTC allowed GMA, who has been confined these past weeks at Veterans Memorial Medical Center, exactly eight hours to be with her family for the first day of Iggy’s wake.  As GMA’s police escorts swarmed all over the place and with her VMMC doctors quietly sitting in a corner of the living room, GMA received a steady stream of her former officials who took advantage of the occasion to condole with the Arroyo family and visit and see her as well. 
The last time I personally saw GMA was last September when she met with media at Myther Bunag’s place (though I regularly attended the series of masses offered at the St. Luke’s Global for her recovery last November, actual visits to her were strictly regulated owing to her delicate condition then); so that like many others at the Arroyo home last Thursday I took the opportunity to condole with the family and see her at the same time.
I sat with GMA for a while in front of Iggy's bier and in reply to my query about their lovely house with its sprawling gardens and a back view of Marikina and Tanay hills, she said it was the old home of the former First Gentleman’s forebears (once upon a time the Tuasons on his mother’s side had owned all the land in the area and the Arroyos had subdivided it among the family, selling the rest to outsiders). Interestingly, GMA and FG had lived with his two siblings and their families under one roof quite harmoniously for a good number of years, until Iggy moved out to the lot across.  
As we talked I noted that GMA had put on some weight and looked stronger than in the last months of 2011, though she still wears her neck brace. How did she put on additional pounds?  She cheerfully attributed it to eating junk food and chocolates--luckily no diabetes, she said.  She said she’s allowed to have TV but still no computer in her VMMC room, which is really crippling, considering how techie she is. GMA spoke with no traceable rancor, the mark to me of a truly spiritual person. 

Later she invited her guests to merienda and sat with everyone in the dining room as it was rather warm on the terrace. Then just shortly before 4pm. GMA quietly rose and disappeared into another room where she bade goodbye to FG, her children and their spouses and her grandchildren, to return to VMMC. At that point the guests decided to line the long driveway to bid her adieu as she emerged, with FG looking a bit tearful as he held her hand. Their grandchildren started to cry softly and from behind the glass windows we could see the househelpers crying too; many guests tried to hold back tears. GMA, however, remained composed with a quiet smile on her face, as she shook hands or returned beso-besos, her uniformed guards right behind her. She was indeed quite a pillar of strength.
Yesterday her lawyers were supposed to make a manifestation to the Pasay RTC for her to be allowed to attend the House necrological services for Iggy on Monday. I hope reason will prevail over the judge, as GMA remains a duly elected congresswoman from Pampanga.
Despite the fact that Chief Justice Renato Corona began his public service as a recruit of then newly-elected President Fidel Ramos, the latter has not gone beyond lamenting that the impeachment of CJ Corona won’t solve the poverty problem in this country. People are asking whose side FVR is on? Typically he’s not saying, but the former president, whose trademark is sticking a cigar in one corner of his mouth, has been seen at various functions handing out Corona cigars. Now don’t ask me if it’s the Ecuadorean or the Honduran brand.
I agree 100 percent with lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas that CJ Corona should not take the witness stand, as allowing him to do so would be like getting our champ Manny Pacquiao (who, by the way didn’t sign the impeachment complaint) into the boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather with one arm tied behind his back.  With the rule altered (for this current trial) that the defense (and the prosecution as well) cannot object to the line of questioning of the senator-judges, it would be open season for P-Noy’s allies in the Senate to throw all manner of questions at CJ, including those outside the rules of court as well as the bounds of civility and decency.
Besides, why subject CJ to what could be uncivilized harassments, when the prosecution’s case HAS ALREADY CRUMBLED AND DISINTEGRATED.  Right now Tupas et al are just looking for something to resuscitate their case. Arming them with this major weapon of CJ’s appearance would be insanity.
Last Wednesday, media people covering the Senate trial were more interested in another issue rather than the impeachment case---the results of the recent bar exams that showed not a single UP graduate among the TOP  TEN. UP’s stiffest bar rival for decades now, the Ateneo Law School,  bagged No. 1 and No. 8, while what used to be “less competitive” schools such as Arellano University, Notre Dame University in Cotabato, Silliman U, FEU and UST made it to the top ten. San Beda Law School also bagged two places making it clearly a force to reckon with.
Last Thursday the media sought prominent UP Law alumni among the senators as well as the defense and prosecution lawyers with the query: "Why oh why? What happened to the UP?" I overheard Justice Cuevas protesting to a young reporter, “Pero hija, 1952 pa ako nag-graduate sa UP. Hindi ko na alam kung ano ang nangyari sa escuela ko mula noon. Sen. Joker Arroyo, a classmate of Cuevas, was heard parrying the blows by arguing that it’s not whether UP produced a Top Ten graduate or not that matters, but how many percent of the UP’s total number of examinees this year passed.  Rather lame one, Sen. Joker.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (UP Law ’53) had another answer. Referring to the so-called survey of 500 UP students conducted recently on whether to acquit or impeach CJ Corona, JPE advised the UP student populace not to indulge in such meaningless activities, and instead to concentrate on their studies so that they will succeed and restore the  Alma Mater to its old glory. 
I have my own theory about why the UP College of Law has deteriorated over the years. There’s just too much politics and discord within that college so that many of the professors cannot seem to concentrate anymore on teaching law in the grand manner, as it used to be.

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