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.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Former FEU and Adamson U law dean Antonio Abad argues for compassion and justice for GMA through Christmas furlough. If PCSO charge is conspiracy, act of one should be act of all---but bail for all her other co-accused leaves out GMA. Still unconvicted, GMA's lot contrasts with those convicted high-rollers in "Bilibid Hilton." Remembering KC de Venecia on 10th anniversary of her passing Dec. 16. Time healing wounds, KC tragedy bears solid fruit.

Photo last year showing detained former President Macapagal Arroyo on her way to a hospital check-up.
 Photo credit from gmanetwork.com

Former law dean of Far Eastern University and Adamson University Antonio Abad, speaking at a news forum, has appealed to the Sandiganbayan to show more compassion for former President Macapagal Arroyo, by allowing her a Christmas furlough in the spirit of the season and because of her very poor state of health. The former President underwent a mammogram recently in a Makati hospital on advice of her doctor, who feels she could be prone to breast cancer as it was the cause of death of her mother. Dean Abad argued that not only is it a season of grace and compassion, it’s also a fact that all of GMA’s co- accused in the alleged PCSO corruption case WERE ALL GRANTED BAIL, EXCEPT HER.

Abad argued that the alleged charge of conspiracy in the PCSO case makes the act of one the act of all. Thus, he said, if her co-accused have been allowed bail a year ago, there's no reason to deny her this;  yet it has been denied despite the various vicissitudes of her life, including the death of her infant grandson two months ago.

I  agree with Dean Abad that GMA’s continued detention is not only thoroughly unchristian and inhuman, it also violates the basic tenets of charity and justice---especially since she has not been convicted of any crime.


Now, contrast the way Gloria is being treated with the way the high-rolling criminals convicted with finality in the “Bilibid Hilton” have been allowed to enjoy life in their own luxury cells, complete with sophisticated orchestral and music-recording studios, awash with millions of pesos and dollars, high-powered weapons and their own lucrative drug trade. Bureau of Corrections Chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu, who assumed his post last March, has denied any knowledge of what has been a poorly-kept secret in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP); but worse, he admits that he lacks the security forces necessary to impose strict discipline there.

This revelation is yet another indication of the sheer incompetence of this administration, as well as the terrible manner whereby public funds have been allocated---there's not enough budget for hiring additional guards at the maximum security NBP, but there's so many billions for unappropriated lump sums in the national budget to allocate for ensuring the election of administration allies in the 2016 elections.


Bucor Chief Bucayu should be fired, along with his immediate superior, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, on whose shoulder blame for this whole mess at the state penitentiary should fall. De Lima is in charge of the NBI but obviously its planned raid was tipped to the high-roller convicts. The problem is that De Lima all these years has been a most willing tool of her boss President Aquino, primarily to ensure that his close allies escape inclusion in the Napoles list and Benhur Luy files and that the opposition gets it in the neck. 

Because of all the politicking at DOJ, she has neglected other agencies under her jurisdiction. It is impossible to believe that the NBI and the DOJ were not in the know about the Bilibid Hilton.  De Lima and Bucayu should be fired.


President Aquino was quoted as being saddened over the revelation and discovery of the scandalous goings-on at the maximum security NBP. But as a Facebook reader stressed, more than saddened, P-NOY SHOULD BE SUPER-ALARMED at the way the drug trade has become so pervasive across the country. Reports indicate that a change of guards is being effected in the various penitentiaries across the country, and this is good as it’s obvious that the tentacles of the drug trade have spread. Replacing guards could help---perhaps.

But it’s not just the prisons that have been invaded. There are reports of drugs rampantly peddled in schools, and parents especially of teenage children ought to be on guard about what their children get into. But unfortunately many young people are in the care of grandparents as their parents are working abroad, and the kids are indulged with money and minimum care---a lethal combination.

The drug situation is worrisome and citizens have every reason to be  alarmed that this beloved country of ours has all the makings of a failed state and much like another Mexico and Colombia in terms of the drug business.


Rep. Gina de Venecia and her deceased daughter KB, whose 10th death anniversary was remembered last Dec. 16.
Photo credit from PHILSTAR.COM

Ten years ago, in the early morning of Dec. 16, the first day of the Christmas Season, I was roused from bed by a phone call from a friend who informed me shockingly that the Dasmarinas Village residence of then Speaker and Mrs. Jose de Venecia had been gutted by fire which killed their 16-year old daughter, KC. We pieced together stories later about how Christmas trimmings caused the fire, and how Speaker JDV and then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay tried to get into the second floor of the house, to reach the young girl who had wrapped herself in wet bed-sheets and hid in the bathroom. But the raging fires didn't permit them to get through. 

It was a tragedy of unspeakable proportions that drew sympathies from around the nation and the world for the De Venecias.

Last Tuesday, the family held a commemorative mass at the Santuario de San Antonio crypt and JDV recalled how he and Gina had hated Christmas for some years because of the terrible tragedy---preferring to stay away for some time each Christmas time. Their son Christopher "Toff" de Venecia, a promising stage director and an excellent writer, wrote super-lovingly of his sister. 


Retired political warrior JDV, now a major player in international party politics, admitted however, that as the adage goes, time heals wounds. But more than healing, he recounted how the tragedy over KC bore much fruit over time. The family invested some funds in the PGH's center for burns patients and has helped various fire department units acquire better suits for the heroic fire-fighters. 

But above all, Gina de Venecia, then as wife of the five-time Speaker, succeeded in putting up a foundation called "Inang na Ulila sa Anak" (or INA for short) that draws on psychologists and psychiatrists to help counsel mothers who suffered the similar tragedy of losing children. With the help of the Speaker she was able to put up a building in a compound of the DSWD across from the Batasan Complex, which serves as INA's Center. INA's circle of healing and healed moms has grown over the years and in the aftermath of Yolanda, many of them immersed themselves in counselling work in Tacloban City. 

From where she is, young KC must be smiling over the healing that her parents and others in similar straits have experienced that has enriched the lives of so many people. 


  1. Sorry, but it sounds to me that the arguments pf former dean of law school is not right.. I believe that GMA should not be punished over such nonsense accusation, for the arguments that all her supposed accomplices were all granted freedom for NOT PROVEN guilty for the same case and the same arguments as hers. Not because of humanitarian reason.

  2. She should be release for the practice of "ASSUMPTION OF INNOCENCE" not because of compassion, IT IS THE LAW..

  3. The government were not able to prove their accusations against the former President therefore the govt has no other option but to release the accused.