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, June 22, 2014

Tribune and Alex Magno went hot on P-Noy’s trail, as he had not been seen or heard since June 12 Naga event---triggering all sorts of speculations. The President’s presence must be known and felt at all times---especially when so many crucial problems are crying for attention, not the least the skyrocketing price of rice and garlic. Former FEU Law Dean Antonio Abad attacked selective justice in PCSO case vs. GMA---despite his closeness to Cojuangco-Aquino clan. Bravo!

The Daily Tribune first put the “disappearance” of President Aquino in the public consciousness in its June 19 editorial, and Star columnist Alex Magno  continued the perplexity in his June 21 column titled “Missing.” Alex observed that P-Noy was last seen “hurriedly delivering his Independence Day speech in Naga” that was interrupted by more coughing than heckling. 

Alex correctly opined that in these crucial times when prices of basic commodities have shot up amid looming shortage, as well as rising criminality, gridlock in the metropolis, shortage of classrooms and the crisis in Iraq that’s expected to jack up the price of oil, etc., “This is not the time for the President to be utterly invisible.” Magno opined, “There is an increasing sense (that) the national community is adrift, rudderless and now virtually leaderless. An invisible chief executive does not help things.”

This blogger also spoke a few days ago of this palpable sense of drift in the nation and the deepening despair among our people as they clamor for true justice and transparency in the expanding web of corruption and scandals. Problem is that at this time of writing precious little has been heard about P-Noy’s whereabouts, triggering all kinds of rumors that contribute to perceptions of instability. 

Since Tribune and Magno opened on the subject, citizens have asked, is the scarce P-Noy ill, or is he just tired and wants to rest? Or as Magno put it, is he sick and tired of it all, "in which case he should resign for his own sake, and our people’s.”


But where was P-Noy all this time from June 12---ten days ago?  I checked with a Palace insider earlier today and she emphatically said that he has been around. Last Thursday, in fact, P-Noy presided over a NEDA Board meeting at the Palace that went on from 10 am. to afternoon (of course he could just have shown himself there and scooted out soon after opening prayer---such meetings are known to bore him). He also went to condole with the family of a slain Pangasinan mayor and from there he went to Hacienda Luisita. 

The problem, however, is that only the Palace knew his whereabouts---certainly not the public---thus fueling speculation he was not well after that terrible coughing fit in Naga.

Now, falling sick is certainly part of the condition humaine, but if you are the President, the people have the right to know---especially in these frightfully uncertain times. Moreover there have been precedents of a disappearing act.

Recall that during the Zamboanga crisis last year triggered by the invasion of Nur Misuari and his men, P-Noy also went missing for days and it was DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Chief Volt Gazmin and ranking AFP officials who were visible. Rumors flew thick and fast that he was taken to Davao and medical help was flown to him from Manila by a sister of his. In a few days he surfaced again shaking hands with Zamboanguenos at the airport.

The Palace official I spoke to today admitted that the communications group may have failed to keep the people posted on P-Noy’s activities. That observation was clearly understated---that group is decidedly incompetent, but then, what else is new by the Pasig? 


Regarding rumors that P-Noy may be ill and that stepping down from office is being discussed in high circles, these may have begun some days ago when a text message circulated about his impending resignation, with Vice President Jejomar Binay about to take over. I dismissed this text, but after P-NOy went “missing” for ten days, it became more than interesting.

As a longtime political observer I have learned to watch body and verbal language and I recall that three weeks ago news asserted that VP Binay could run as P-Noy’s endorsed candidate in 2016. Then soon enough, news reported that former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is contemplating giving Binay a run for his money for the presidency. But aren’t they allies in the opposition was the logical query?


Last June 6 at the elegant golden wedding anniversary of General and Mrs. Alexander Aguirre at the EDSA Shangrila Hotel, Mayor Estrada came with his former Cabinet in full attendance (Alex Aguirre had served him as Executive Secretary with distinction). I queried Mayor Erap about talk that he’s going to challenge Binay, and he denied it. Bakit ko naman gagawin yon, he said. 

However, two or three days ago, when P-Noy went “missing,” Erap was reported in media asserting that if Binay runs under the LP banner, he himself would challenge the VP.

What triggered this statement from Erap after an earlier denial---if there was nothing’s afoot about an impending P-Noy resignation that would propel VP Binay and project him as LP standard-bearer in 2016?   At this point, it’s logical that P-Noy would be most keen to buy future security from jail and that he’d crown anyone who would give him peace of mind in this regard. And right now Binay is the frontrunner for 2016.

Questions  and  more questions, demanding answers from a Palace group that’s, alas, noynoying too.


At Winnie Monsod’s May 26 TV program, “Bawal Pasaway kay Mareng Winnie” her guest, Dean Antonio Abad, former dean of the FEU College of Law and now President of the FEU-Nicanor Reyes Memorial Foundation, FEU Hospital, and FEU College of Medicine & Nursing, opined that inasmuch as there is “no strong evidence against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,” the denial of bail to her, while granting bail to her co-accused in the PCSO case, violates her right to due process and equal protection of the law” as well as her human rights, “because she is not being treated the same way as her alleged conspirators.”

Abad was quoted as saying that since the PCSO case is predicated on the theory of conspiracy (that an act of one is the act of all), then “kung pinakawalan mo yung isa, pakawalan mo na lahat. Kung hindi mo pinakawalan ang isa, wag mo nang pakawalang ang lahat dahit lahat sila ay principal. Their liability is the same and collective and not individual.”


Dean Abad, a bar topnotcher, bar examiner (2001) and reviewer and author of a law book on the Labor Code, also asserted that COA itself had approved the disbursement of PCSO funds in GMA’s term---so how could she have committed plunder? COA Auditor Flerida Jimenez had said that the PCSO funds during the Arroyo term were “duly liquefied,” while Aleta Toletino, the executive assistant of resigned PCSO Chair Margie Juico, had admitted upon interrogation that there is no proof that GMA had pocketed PCSO funds.

Other luminaries have asserted what he said about the lack of evidence in GMA’s PCSO plunder case, but what is even more significant is that Dean Abad, who was formerly president of the Philippine Association of Law Schools & Colleges and of the Philippine Private Schools & Colleges Association as well as former President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, was lawyer of the late Josephine Cojuangco Reyes, sister of former President Cory Aquino and is close to her family. 

The various FEU institutions are owned by the heirs of their late founder, Dr. Nicanor Reyes, into whose family Josephine Cojuangco married and became president of the FEU College of Medicine & Nursing.  When she passed away two years ago, Abad took over her post.  


After criticizing former President GMA’s continued detention without evidence at Winnie Monsod’s program, Dean Abad was queried if he’d like to become GMA’s lawyer and replied, “I do not like her” and “I will not touch her with a ten-foot pole.” But he also asserted that he does not understand why the Sandiganbayan treats GMA differently when there’s no evidence, and she’s not the accountable and responsible officer for the PCSO intelligence funds--- all she did was to sign a routine marginal note on the PCSO Board Resolution. 

We have to admire Dean Abad for his ability to see the grim reality of GMA’s continued detention and voice his indictment of this inhuman act despite his closeness to the Cojuangco-Aquino family.

It's obvious that he agrees with Mareng Winnie: it's not prosecution of GMA but PERSECUTION. 


I joined a group of friends who recently visited GMA and we learned of new  complications in her deteriorating health, such as a cyst in her liver and continued pain in her arms and stomach. Despite the fact that there’s no evidence against her, the Sandiganbayan has denied her pleas for bail twice times already. Doctors at Veterans Memorial Center admitted a year ago that GMA's condition necessitates more complex treatment than the hospital could render, but new problems have even complicated the picture now. 

GMA's lawyers are filing a new plea for bail. Let’s pray the Sandiganbayan grant it this time---in the name of justice and all that’s human.  


Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles posted in my FB page recently a reaction to recent political jousts in the Supreme Court: “People of the Philippines, WAKE UP. Do not allow the further destruction of the Supreme Court! Lawlessness is not only evident in our streets. The deliberate and concerted violation of the law is very obvious in the ordeal the SC is subjected to these days. Let us preserve the sacredness of the institutions that our country needs to survive.”

Archbishop Arguelles must include the Sandiganbayan in his exhortation as it too is playing politics with GMA’s case.  


  1. Divine Justice is the great equalizer to inhumanity and human injustice. Magistrates ought to read God's word, the bible. The judgment of the Lord grinds on to generations.

  2. Finally, karma is coming home to roost. I hope and pray that Noynoy will soon be felled by an incurable illness.

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