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, July 25, 2012

IN SONA P-Noy addresses gut issues straight to masses whose support he assiduously courts in view of his slipping ratings, but he avoids some really big issues. House impeachment “montage-gallery” divisive and in bad taste. Carpio Morales gets acclamation from P-Noy over her role in CJ impeachment, affirming their conspiracy.

For the third straight time President Aquino delivered his State of the Nation address entirely in Filipino, as obviously he’s more at home in it than in English (members of the diplomatic corps were furnished ear-phones to be able to follow in English, and giant statistics visuals employed by P-Noy also helped). Coached in the proper facial expressions and relaxed in the native language, he exuded earnestness as he addressed his main target---the broad masses of Flipinos. 

In this third SONA, it has become a matter of urgency for P-Noy to address the masses directly, as they have been the main pillar of his political support since he began his quest for the presidency after his mother Cory passed away. As a side commentator observed during the reception after the SONA, “P-Noy is already in the 2013 election campaign mode.” 

This time around, however, the urgency is more real, for the May 24-27 SWS survey showed that his popularity and acceptance ratings have slipped to just 42 percent.


P-Noy strove hard to involve the people in what he claimed were the positive transformations in our society, saying they were responsible for those changes and not him. He sought to stir pride in being Filipino and asserted that it’s a  “great time” to be one. But in the face of continuing hunger and poverty, widespread joblessness and rising criminality---as Manila Times columnist Ric Saludo put it last Monday, “an unprecedented one in every four Filipinos suffered hunger, one in every three workers could not find work and more than half of the nation considered themselves poor” ---P-Noy’s call to arms by stirring innate patriotic pride was not easy to sell.


As the Standard noted, P-Noy chose to stir this Pinoy feel-good by ‘DROWNING” us all in one and a half hour of seemingly endless statistics---- how many classrooms, books and chairs added, how many millions rescued from poverty through the controversial conditional cash transfer, how many jobs created and how many millions more had gained access to PhilHealth, how many children vaccinated against various diseases, how much rice importation was cut down, etc, etc.

All gut issues---the everyday nitty-gritty--that the masa can appreciate and be impressed with, enough to vote his party by 2013.

But such recitation, while representing progress to simpler minds, is bound to make thinking people look for the larger issues beyond the data-drowning.  As prominent lawyer Lorna Patajo-Kapunan remarked, P-Noy sounded more like than a class president reporting to his classmates how the class funds were used. The principal audience was targeted and  method identified---everyday gut issues; but unfortunately P-Noy left out a good number of vital issues equally important to the nation's life, and crying for resolution.


For instance, he said he’d push his mother’s CARP to fruition, but left out the most important symbol of feudalism---his family’s Hacienda Luisita. He touted the energy program and hailed his classmate Secretary Almendras, but failed to say how he’ll solve the massive power outages in Mindanao.  He cited the renewed confidence of investors, but failed to tell us how much investments have already come in. 

He touted his anti-corruption campaign that bagged GMA and CJ Corona, but he failed to say why another classmate of his, PAGCOR Chair Cristino Naguiat Jr., was not investigated over the "industry practice" of multi-million perks in Macau, or why the Bureau of Customs cannot seem to stop the rampant smuggling everyone’s talking about (such as smuggling of rice and oil). Or why Margie Juico's PCSO board helped themselves into a couple of millions in bonuses and allowances, without even a slap of the hand from P-Noy? Why does he pick only on Manoling and the old board?

Or what P-Noy proposes to do about the rising criminality--- both the petty crimes that affect HOUSEMAIDS ON THEIR DAY-OFF and students on the university belt, as well as the big high-profile crimes (the day of the SONA, former Tourism official Nixon Kua died from gunshot wounds inflicted by hoods who also wounded his brother).  P-Noy also failed to tell us what he proposes to do about the human rights violations and extra-judicial killings that, as his ally, Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales admitted, continue unabated.


In his SONA P-Noy asserted that perhaps “responsible parenthood” would help alleviate the inability of government to provide enough classrooms and chairs for the student populace; the RH advocates in Congress quickly interpreted that one-liner as his bat for their crusade, and they delivered the loudest applause of the afternoon. But as anyone can see, the problem is in the wrong allocation of gargantuan funds that go largely wasted, such as the CCT that will climb to P45 billion next year.

If this administration were to invest in more classrooms and in pushing the PhilHealth program to really cover the medical needs of the poorer populace (P-Noy’s claim that 85% are already covered is too bloated to be believable), rather than the CCT program, those funds would be put to better use---because there would be records to speak of, unlike the CCT that disappears into the pockets of corrupt DSWD personnel and ultimately the politicos in 2013.


P-Noy called for unity of the people and support for his administration, but that’s more like more talk. Take, for example, the huge mural in the House of Representatives that greeted guests last Monday, featuring a montage of  all the House “heroes” of the recent impeachment of Chief Justice Corona, led by lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. and Rudy “Palusot” Farinas.

The montage-gallery was obviously set up to feat the Corona impeachment as one of the two principal achievements of the P-Noy administration---the other being the rushed detention of President Macapagal Arroyo on electoral sabotage, based the testimony of a single discredited witness (she became guilty by association), and now on alleged plunder of PCSO funds.     


That montage-gallery, said to be a brainchild of QC Rep. Jorge Banal, one of the prosecutors, is HIGHLY DIVISIVE and in utter BAD TASTE, as it gloats over an issue that has bitterly divided the nation. This is the highly controversial “victory” of the prosecution that saw it violating all the rules of court and constitutional procedure. 

This began with the 188 House votes accomplished in blitzkrieg fashion, without the signatories reading the verified complaint. During the Senate trial, House prosecutors presented evidences that were either false (such as the 45 properties brazenly offered by another P-Noy classmate, LRA Administrator Eulalio Diaz III---shouldn't he have resigned over this fiasco?) or illegally obtained, such as those turned over to Rep. Rey Umali by the “little lady” or left on a rainy night at Rep. Banal’s gate.

These also included raw and unverified foreign account entries of Corona, as provided ILLICITLY by AMLA, that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales then presented UNDER OATH, with the help of IT hocus-pocus by COA, as 82 different accounts of Corona---when in truth he had only three such accounts.

All of these “evidences” are glorified in our House of Representatives’ montage-gallery as its achievement?  And to think that except for three members, all 286 representatives refused to disclose their SALNs.   


For creatively spinning false evidence against Corona, and playing such a vital role in his impeachment, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales was rewarded with public acclamation from P-Noy in his SONA and the TV cameras focused on her smiling shyly for a fleeting moment. Said P-Noy: I thank you for your work, and I thank you for being “an instrument of true justice especially at the height of the impeachment trial (of Corona).”

Philippine Star reporter Delon Porcalla wrote in his story yesterday that he found this public toasting of Morales’ role in the impeachment trial “rather surprising,” inasmuch as she “supposedly holds an independent and constitutional body separate from the executive department.“  Obviously Delon was inferring that P-Noy just confirmed their conspiracy in Corona’s trial.

As we can all see, young people like Delon have more sense and wisdom than our older officials.

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