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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

FB contributor worries about seamy implication of DOT’s unimaginative and copied new slogan. A senator buys two loft units in plush Mandaluyong condo. Will ABS-CBN America's Nadia Trinidad’s investigation into Charina’s Roseville apartment get same prominence as Raissa’s claim? Pundits agog over Binay’s quick seize of prospective 2013 candidates.

The reaction to the recent Mindanao Summit was one of general disappointment. This text going around pretty much summarizes that feeling:
 "Gumastos at nag-aksaya ng oras sa Energy Summit---may desisyon na pala bago pa mag-umpisa. Another drama-publicity ni P-Noy! Parang kinagalitan at tinakot pa ang mga taga Mindanao: KUNG GUSTO NINYONG WALANG BROWN-OUT, MAGBAYAD KAYO NG MALAKI!! Kaya nga nag-summit, para humanap ng solusyon, para ma-resolba ang krisis at makatulong ang gobyerno. MALIWANAG NA TAMAD MAG-ISIP O WALANG ISIP."


An assiduous contributor to my FB page, US-based Lino Celle, recently commented on a photo of Filipino women in various states of provocative undress being posted in the internet. Said Lino: “Is this how the Philippines attract ‘foreign tourists?’ If it’s ‘Fun in the Philippines,’ then LOL!” Then he follows this up with the query, “what does Gabriela have to say to P-Noy (about this?).”

Lino is obviously worried about the seamy implication of this slogan--- which I share. To begin with, the Department of Tourism’s launch four months ago, under new Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, of the search for a slogan to replace the plagiarized slogan of the first DOT administration under President Noynoy , yielded something which also was frightfully unimaginative and lacks originality--- it was merely recycled from a 1951 slogan of Switzerland! Why a people world-famous for creative and imaginative outputs have to copy a 1951 slogan from another country beats me.


But my bigger objection, which Lino Celle shares, is that this new slogan could rake up once again an image of the Philippines we’d rather put away for good, such as what prevailed in the era of US soldiers on R and R in Olongapo and Angeles, of Japayukis in Tokyo bars and brothels, sex tours catering to Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese farmer-tourists---fun girls, in other words. Recall that Ambassador Henry Thomas not too long ago talked about such type of tours that Ph has come to be known for. Some of us took  offense at  his  startlingly frank observation and raked him over the coals for it, but still there was truth to what he said, as it did conjure  unsavory reputations earned.

The question is, why reinforce that undesired perception with an official DOT slogan, when there are so many wholesome tourist spots in our country that can compete with the best that other countries have to offer---and deserve to be projected by a catchier slogan.


 A senator who’s generally quiet in deliberations in the chamber and perceived to be sympathetic to the administration was reported to have recently purchased two loft units in a prime condominium building on Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong, developed by Greenfield, for the pricey amount of P7 million each. The question folks are asking is, where did he get the money to buy these, when the monthly salary of a senator is P25,000.  Mukhang maraming pera ang senador na ito. The question is, are his funds part of the slush money in the impeachment case of CJ Renato Corona? 


Recent news about the formation of the political umbrella organization called United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), spearheaded by Vice-President Jejomar Binay with the PDP-Laban that he chairs and the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former President Joseph Estrada as major lynchpins, has electrified various political groups and keeps political pundits engaged in continuous scenarios, as the mid-term elections loom next year.

 For instance, I had the chance to speak briefly to Lakas-CMD President Ramon Revilla Jr. at the birthday lunch organized by family and friends of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at her Veterans hospital room early last week. I queried the senator about a report in the Manila Times that Lakas will join the umbrella of UNA for the coming elections. He denied this, stressing that his party will remain a distinct entity from UNA but it will support its candidates who will be recruited by UNA into its powerhouse senatorial slate.


Various political observers agree with me that VP Binay was very smart in moving fast to lure many political heavyweights into his alliance, so that now the Liberal Party of the administration appears to be increasingly isolated.  One reason for the ease with which he was able to recruit these pols is the LP’s arrogance and heavy-handed use of vindictive power---mainly through the selective tightening of the PDAF against representatives in the opposition. 


A number of political pundits concede that at this stage it does appear now to be impossible for President Aquino to get his coveted 16 votes to convict CJ Corona, and that his expected acquittal would further cement the formation of the grand alliance against the LP and P-Noy for the 2013 elections---preparatory to the 2016 presidential elections. Of course, the Palace could still flood the Senate with huge slush funds (from the P39 billion CCT funds for 2012?) that could prove irresistible to some senators running for reelection; but the other side of the coin is the lure of Binay’s UNA and---perhaps the key factor---the support of the Iglesia ni Cristo for CJ Corona which national and local candidates can only ignore at their political peril.


 Looking back on the impeachment, the LPs now doubtless realize that it was a mistake to have filed the case against CJ Corona in the House, but the bigger mistake was for P-Noy to have made it the centerpiece of his “reform agenda,” staking his immense political capital on Corona’s conviction. For as the  prosecution’s presentation of evidence came to a close, it became obvious that the prosecutors had little evidence to back up their eight Articles of Impeachment, necessitating the dropping of five of those, prompting columnist Rigoberto Tiglao to assert that “the prosecution 's evidence had collapsed.”


The malicious fiasco of the erroneous list of 45 properties submitted by Land Registration Authority Administrator and P-Noy classmate Eulalio Diaz III saw the prosecution reap the senators’ wrath at their being fooled outright. Then came the repudiation of Raissa Robles who had earlier spun the allegation that CJ owned two properties in the US.

US-based ABS-CBN America reporter Nadia Trinidad personally visited the Roseville, California, neighborhood where CJ’s daughter Charina Corona has an apartment that Robles had reported (and fast spun by yellow media here) to have been a “luxurious” one. Rep. Miro Quimbo, whose lies are now as numerous as the gelled streaks on his head, spun Robles' report and quickly computed that Charina couldn’t have bought that Roseville property just 22 days after she bought the McKinley Hill condominium. Meaning, that Charina was dummying for her father. 


But Nadia found instead a “starter home” in a humble neighborhood once hard-hit by the real estate mega-disaster of 2006-2008, which Charina, a physical therapist earning P185,000 a year, could obviously afford to buy on 30-year installment.

 Boking na naman si Raissa and the prosecution, because, as in the case of the 45 properties courtesy of Diaz, there was no due diligence but a lot of malice on the prosecution’s part. The question is, will ABS-CBN here give Nadia’s story the same prominence it gave to Raissa’s?


For some weeks, the prosecutors rode high on “evidences” they presented during their turn, and they seemed to gain the upper hand, especially if one believes the survey companies owned by Aquino-Cojuangco relatives in interlocking directorates that said that 47 percent believe CJ is guilty. But apparently the tide may be turning for the beleaguered Chief Magistrate, and clear evidence is that his defense lawyers are heaped invitations for speaking engagements all around (especially that crush ng bayan, Harvard-trained young lawyer Karen Jimeno, who’s married to a good-looking American Harvard guy).

By contrast, have you heard any organization inviting lead prosecutor Niel Tupas?

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  1. President BS Aquino III does not fully understand the root cause of the Mindanao power crisis. He is given a sanitized report about the the situation. And if the President and his lackeys do not fully understand the problem, how can we expect a solution? The power summit, as Malacanang called it, was the best chance for this government to call on the people to rally and unite, to have a better understanding of the options, to arrive at the best solution. Instead, Malacanang selected the participants, the meeting was cordoned off by the eager-beaver PSGs. The President in his keynote speech, mandated what should be done: Pay more to avoid blackouts. Mas lalo pang pinahirapan ang mga tao. Ipinasa sa kanila ang burden upang maiwasan ang black-outs.

    In this kind of gathering, where a solution to a crisis, [like the power crisis] is being discussed, there should be a consensus-building among the participants. But sadly, the meeting became the monopoly of the Malacanang occupant.
    Nagpa-summit pa sila, e meron na palang solusyon na inihanda.

    And if paying more for the cost of electricity to avoid blackouts is the best solution the President could give to the Mindanaoans, then, Mindanao and the Philippines are doomed.

    This present government, led by Pres. BS Aquino III and his alter-egos fail miserably. This government is a disappointment.


    "Daig ng maagap ang masipag." This was probably the adage that VP Binay had in mind when he thought of the formation of UNA. He beat Malacanang to the draw. While Pnoy was busy demonizing Corona in every speaking engagement, Binay was, silently doing his job. Helping distressed OFWs, hindi nakikisawsaw sa Corona impeachment, at tahimik na nag-re-recruit ng kanyang mga kaalyado sa UNA. When all the essential elements of a formidable political party was already in order, Binay announced its birth. Nataranta ang Malacanang.

    Binay keeps his cards close to his chest, and he plays them well. Unlike Pres. Aquino who acts on impulse and still rides on the popularity of his deceased Mom. Truly, he doesn't deserve to be a President. He lacks the talent and the does not act like one.

    I don't think ABS-CBN will treat the story of Nadia Trinidad's discovery about the Charina Corona residence. Magagalit ang PR ng Malacanang na nagbabayad sa demolition job ni Corona.

  2. The Senator mentioned here was once upon a time an idealistic young NAVY officer who, along with several Junior Officers and enlisted men staged a mutiny of sort and occupied a flush hotel in Makati. The young officer denounced and condemned the unabated corruption in the GMA government and the rotten system in the military. He gave himself up later. He blamed the military for the Davao International Airport bombing, named several military and police officers as recipients of GMA favors. The young officer ran for a Senate seat and won because the voters [including my family and I] believed that this man can make some sort of a change.

    When he gained his liberty, little by little, this young Senator learned of the tricks of the trade as a Senator. It's not all principle that matters but more on political survival.

    This young officer was transformed from an idealistic officer to a TRADITIONAL POLITICIAN. Bata pa, TRAPO na!

    The rotten political system he once denounced has gotten into his bloodstream. He is now part of that system. Wala din pala siyang strong moral fiber to resist the temptations that came along the way.

    Kinain din niya ang kanyang isinuka.