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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mindanao eight-hour power outages conjure images (and fears) of crippling twelve-hour brown-outs of last years of President Cory. P-Noy should listen to ANC anchor Vic Lima: "pls. ban word ‘impeachment’ in Malacanang and leave CJ Corona’s trial to the senator-judges." Rep. Mitos Magsaysay asserts that House energy chair Henedina Abad has little grasp of energy problem. What P-Noy needs is not emergency powers but FOCUS.

President Aquino was quoted last Monday in Philippine Star as stressing that “I’m in control.”  He was referring to the power situation that has worsened in Mindanao and is feared to hit Metro Manila in the next few weeks. But it’s a well-known fact that when a leader has to stress that he’s “in control,” HE’S NOT IN CONTROL. 

Now both chambers of Congress are debating on the issue of granting him emergency powers to handle the power crisis, but P-Noy doesn't need emergency powers as he has strong backing especially in the House. More than anything, WHAT P-NOY NEEDS NOW IS FOCUS. He needs to focus on our country's problems.


What’s happening is that images of the crippling 12-hour brownouts in the last years of President Cory Aquino in Malacanang are being conjured, and because there’s no effective leadership, there’s a lot of buck-passing and blaming going on. Unfortunately for Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, he’s being made the “fall guy,” as Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino recently noted, because the second President Aquino has “noynoyed” the problem of energy. He has preferred to focus on prosecuting his political enemies rather than to sit down with his energy advisers and see how the power crisis can be solved with the least disturbance to the economy. 

Reports indicate that P-Noy used to spend all afternoon watching the trial of CJ Renato Corona on TV in the past two months. In fact, popular ANC commentator Vic Lima has gone to the extent of offering unsolicited advice to P-Noy: “Please ban the word ‘impeachment’ in the Palace, Mr. President, and leave the fate of Corona to the senator-judges”.


 In fairness to Secretary Almendras, I had heard about this brewing crisis from him at a social gathering a year ago, but he must have felt like a Cassandra at that time. Now his worst fears have come true.  Much of the solution to the energy crisis lies in the hands of Congress because it involves new capital outlays of government for repairs of energy facilities, new power franchising and the like. But the House, where the  the national budget bill originates, is quite dysfunctional at the moment because of its super-focus on the Senate impeachment trial.

Because government is largely leaderless, it’s common to resort to the blame game. For instance, feisty Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay has opined that the chair of the House committee on energy (and vice chair of the powerful appropriations committee), the super-powerful Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad of the Abad Trinity in government, does not have a firm grasp of the energy problem. In fact, asserts Mitos, Abad sits on several bills that could help alleviate the crisis.

 I agree---Rep. Abad comes from tiny Batanes which has little energy problem  because it's sparsely populated. The House energy chair should come from Mindanao which has always had grave problems in this field. It could also be that Abad was, like her husband, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, also too preoccupied with getting the 188 votes for CJ’s impeachment, so that her energy committee failed to do its job.


The story of blogger Raissa Robles that merited front page for several days in yellow media---that CJ Corona and his wife own two properties in the US--- dripped with tremendous MALICE. Robles has alleged that from records CJ appears to own properties in Florida and California, and her basis is---like that of the notorious list of 45 properties furnished the prosecution by Land Registration Authority Administrator Eulalio Diaz III---that her search yielded the names of CJ and his family in those properties. In so writing, Robles obviously did not aim to be factual, but merely to resort to all kinds of innuendoes in another trial by publicity for CJ---even when he made a prompt denial.

CJ asserts that in Tampa, Florida, he stayed a few times in the past in the home of a family friend whom he identified as Dr. Venerando “Bernie” Batas,  who’s said to be willing to personally testify about this property hullabaloo, were it not for the fact that he lives in the US (perhaps his deposition can be obtained).  Corona said that during his stay with Dr. Batas he registered the latter's address for mailing purposes. On the other hand, he and his wife have pointed out that IT’S NOT THEY who own the Roseville, California property but their daughter Ma. Charina, who has been a practicing physical therapist in the US for the past ten years.  


In contrast to Robles’ blog assertions, former Cory Press Secretary Tomas “Buddy” Gomez was more forthright and responsible. Gomez wrote: “To be sure ---the Coronas do not have any piece of real estate registered in any of their names in the vicinity searched. However…Renato C. Corona is reflected as “has lived in” 1401 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa, Florida--- 33606.” He continued: “Please note that there are three properties related to the Coronas…not shown as owners…but that are all in the same zip code---33606. It says ‘has lived in those addresses.’” At least Buddy Gomez made some effort to be truthful, whereas Raissa Robles was just intent on sensationalizing her “find,” which yellow media predictably seized and headlined. 

The Inquirer even asserted that Corona “changed his story” as he now admits that his daughter owned the California property, whereas the day before, it said, he completely denied that “we” own property there.  But anyone reading the two succeeding stories would easily see that, as Corona defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador stressed, the denial pertains to ownership by him and his wife, as in truth it’s their daughter Charina who owns the property.


Caught in her lies, Robles finally asserts that she never said in the first place that Corona owns the properties. Oh really, what does she make of readers, fools? But it is easy to see why she and her media patrons would try to sensationalize what she stumbled upon.

It will be recalled that the prosecution was walloped in two days of faulty witnessing by LRA Administrator Eulalio Diaz (who turns out to be the nephew of Justice Antonio Carpio) over the 45 properties. Robles now is obviously trying to help the prosecution recoup by continuing to demonize CJ and his family in the media.  But after that listing of the 45 properties it would be tough to sell another incredulous list to a public grown wary of the prosecution's tricks. 


 But in addition, Robles and critical media have opined that Corona’s daughter could not afford to buy buy the California property just less than a month before her McKinley Hill purchase (that remark gets the cake for cattiness, I must say). Obviously she was trying to give readers the impression that a physical therapist (PT) is something of a masahista as we know it here. Nothing could be more remote.  

Here in the Philippines physical therapy is a full-blown degree course that has recently been upgraded to five years and as in the past, subject to board exams.  Successful practitioners even here earn quite a bit of money, being paid by the hour. In the US, however, it’s no secret that successful PTs get into contracts with their patients that can run into months (among the biggest PT patients are sports celebrities and celebrity cardiac or stroke rehab  patients). They can earn even more than doctors----according to industry figures, anywhere from $90,000 to $180,000 a year. 

Robles had the temerity to question the capability of Corona’s daughter to pay for her California property when as CJ stressed, she has a thriving practice and bought the property “dirt cheap” On INSTALLMENT, during the great real estate collapse in the US early in 2008. I recall that time how so many Filipinos in the US zapped up real-estate properties offered at practically zero down-payment, with 30 years to pay the balance.

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  1. The blog of Raisa Robles about the alleged Corona properties could not have been sensationalized kung na-verify lang mabuti ng mga newspaper reporters, tv and radio commentators ang kanilang facts. Pero ang nangyari, pinalaki yung story without the benefit of verifying its truthfulness. Obviously, these are the paid hacks of Malacanang. Now the prosecution is contemplating on including this story in the impeachment trial of CJ Corona. Obviu

  2. You're right, Mr. rexyboy56, obviously the motive of Raissa Robles and the yellow media supporting her "investigative" reporting which is in truth "imaginative reporting," is to just hurl all the erroneous accusations, to condemn him in a trial by publicity, doubtless because Raissa and yellow media fear that if the senator-judges were to base their decision solely on the evidence offered, they would acquit CJ. As you can see, the allegation about CJ's ownership of the Tampa, Florida house flies in the face of fact that Dr. Veneranda Batas, a real live person, owns that Tampa house and the Coronas were just guests for a few times. This includes the time when then Associate Justice Corona sought treatment in Tampa upon the recommendation of Dr. Batas, after he went through a year of extremely painful post-spinal surgery in St. Luke's in QC. 'll have that story in my next blog. TY for following my blog, Mr. rexyboy 56.

  3. When Malacanang learned that the Raissa Robles story was just another "story-telling-a-lie" SWS suddenly came up with its latest survey that 73% of the Pinoys want CJ Corona convicted. The survey also came out when the power crisis in Mindanao is getting worst. Malacanang Palace with its inept principal occupant is trying its best to hide its mismanagement of the country.

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