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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Indication that President Aquino is now very much a lame-duck President is rise of various political scenarios for 2016. The manifesto endorsing former Senator and PNP Chief Panfilo Lacson’s political alliance with Sen. Grace Poe to achieve, among others, “transformation,” could have arisen from recollection of the Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew’s “political authoritarianism.” But such endorsement would also bring into sharp scrutiny Lacson’s checkered past.

One can tell that President Noynoy Aquino is already a lameduck president by the number of candidates being thrown into the political ring, almost 14 months prior to the elections of 2016 and seven months prior to the filing of candidacies at the end of this October.  And indeed, with the nation at a virtual standstill, nothing seems to percolate other than the political scene as various election scenarios are being conjured. It's also indication of the general feeling of hopelessness about the country, as a result of the ineffectual leadership of P-Noy as the months and years lengthened, which seemed interminable.

A week or so ago, up popped the Drilon scenario: that the beleaguered Vice President Jejomar Binay would be ordered arrested by the Ombudsman on multiple corruption charges, so that he would be tucked away politically. This scenario could rake up political turmoil as the perception in some quarters is that Binay is being relentlessly persecuted (the AMLC investigations into his foreign wealth is being fought fiercely by his lawyers) because he leads the presidential race, despite all the mud being thrown at him.


But assuming that the Omudsman’s action in haling Binay to court does succeed, this scenario also includes talk about Noynoy being persuaded to step down, in which case Senate President Franklin Drilon, who is constitutionally third in line of succession to the presidency, would assume the highest office. Once ensconced there, so goes this scenario, Drilon would then appoint Speaker Feliciano Belmonte as vice-president with the consent of Congress; and so the LP stranglehold on power would be completed for another six years perhaps.

Such scenario could sent paroxysms of anxiety to citizens not enamored of the five-year leadership by the LP. Moreover, Senate President Drilon has his own can of worms, particularly the controversial coconut levy issue of which he was among those who conceptualized it for the Marcos regime, together with former Sen. Edgardo Angara and the late Sen. Raul Roco in the ACCRA Law Office in the Marcos era.  

Today the coco levy issue is still being bitterly fought over between the impoverished coconut planters and the government which has custody over the P72 billion fund once extracted from the coconut farmers in that era.   


That's one scenario. Two days ago, I heard on radio the interview of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte by ABS-CN’s Ted Failon, where he was querying the mayor on talks about his gunning for the presidency in 2016. Duterte’s name has been bandied about among the more favored “candidates” for national office, and in fact he’s being paired off with Sen. Grace Poe, but in that program he said he was not interested, and would be happy to stay as Davao mayor. Duterte draws fanatic support from those who want a strongman president, but he also sows fear in the hearts of civil rights people who fear a lynching leader.

On the other hand, Sen. Poe herself is being repeatedly mentioned for either of the two top positions and at first it seemed like a hele-hele for the lady solon, but recent political chismis is that she does appear receptive to it now, and that in fact, financial backers are surfacing. Poe’s standing appears to have been firmed up better after the prolonged Senate hearings which she was generally thought to have handled pretty well despite her neophyte status.


But to my mind, the most serious endorsement of a presidential team surfaced yesterday, not co-incidentally perhaps, two days after the passing of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, its Prime Minister for 31 years and father of the current PM. A whole-page “manifesto” appeared in two leading dailies, calling for “democratic discernment, vigilance and transformation,” and signed by a group of officers of the old PC-INP, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The signatories, who include retired star-rank officers as well as the current head of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO), Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan (AFP, ret.) cited certain events, occurences and  issues which “caused much grief, outrage and anxiety to our nation,” which necessitate the search for “imperatives, qualities and requirements of national leadership with critical discernment.”


The retired PNP and AFP officers cited the most urgent problems of our country, such as the recent Mamasapano massacre, the super-typhoon Yolanda that presages chronic occurrence of increasingly destructive natural calamities and disasters; the PDAF and DAP scams that indicate “unbridled dishonesty, greed and corruption in government," the Metro Manila traffic and port congestion and the “miserable state of the MRT and NAIA” that dramatize, to their mind, “sheer bureaucratic callousness, arrogance and ineptitude.”

The conditions cited above by the retired officers of the armed services are an indictment of the Aquino administration as they clamor on behalf of our people for “a national leadership that is competent and incorruptible and does not adhere to traditional politics.”  

I venture the observation that these retired officers have grown tired of the ineptitude of the P-Noy administration especially after the SAF commandos' tragic encounter with BFF and MILF elements in Mamasapano, and the way the P-Noy government has been confronting very serious problems of national life by dishing out blame instead of facing up to them. I think what especially affected the two armed services, the PNP and the AFP, is that the political leadership is making them quarrel with each other, instead of focusing on how to defeat traditional enemies.


Nowhere was the President’s propensity to make the AFP and the PNP quarrel more evident than in the Mamasapano massacre,  whertr the military obviously resented the inclination of PNP officers Gen. Alan Purisima and Getulio Napenas to cast blame during the public hearings on the AFP commanders in Mindanao for their alleged failure to come to the rescue of the pinned-down SAF commandoes; the AFP officers hae stoutly maintained that this tragedy resulted from the lack of coordination by the PNP project handlers.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, became a collateral damage of the SAF carnage when his promotion was frozen by the Commission on Appointments because he failed to answer some nagging doubts about the Jan. 25 tragedy.


But what is most interesting about the PNP and AFP retirees’ joint statement of yesterday is its endorsement of former Senator and PNP chief Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Grace Poe to the highest offices of the land, after considering the “above premises.” The retirees urged Lacson and Poe “to forge a political alliance and run in tandem for higher office in 2016” and they assured these politicians of their support “not only in the elections but in the political transformation of our Government and Society.”

I mentioned above the sudden appearance of the endorsement manifesto for Lacson and Poe that seemed timed with the passing of Singapore’s former strongman, Lee Kuan Yew. As I said, it's obvious that the manifesto signatories are apparently tired of the lackadaisical and wimpy style of governance of President Aquino and they advocate a more forceful and determined leadership not akin perhaps to the "political totalitarianism” practiced by LKY especially in the first 20 years of his 31 years of stronghold of the island republic’s existence. 

Lacson is particularly endorsed for his “strong-willed, disciplined and decisive service reputation” while Poe is praised for her “untarnished and compassionate brand of leadership.”


It will be recalled that former Sen. Lacson was appointed by P-Noy the Rehab Czar to handle the super-job of getting the Yolanda-stricken provinces of the Visayas back on their feet. After taking almost a year to draw up the massive blue-print for recovery, however, Lacson resigned, apparently fed up by the lack of support from P-Noy and the holding back of public and donated funds. Since then he has been quite critical not only of the turtle-pace of the Yolanda rehab, but also of the highly questionable interpretation by P-Noy’s allies, especially Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, of the doctrine of command responsibility and the chain of command. Lacson outright disputed and mocked De Lima’s placing P-Noy outside the PNP chain of command.

But it must also be stressed here that the record of former Sen. Lacson on the question of moral leadership has been far from spotless. Recall how Rosebud had associated him allegedly with drug-trafficking and other questionable activities in the PNP, even testifying in the Senate on these allegations. In later years Lacson went into hiding for over a year from the long arm of the court, to evade arrest. 


In this connection, the retired PNP and AFP officers’ endorsement of Lacson as a means for society’s “transformation” would certainly be put under heavy scrutiny should he run for higher office.  

An FB reader posted a quote from the late much-revered US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt which said, "The Presidency is not merely an administrative office.That's the least of it. It's more than an engineering job, efficient of inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.

Very apt rule to measure candidates for higher office, not just Lacson.

1 comment:

  1. http://collectivelyconscious.net/articles/worlds-poorest-president-explains-why-we-should-kick-rich-people-out-of-politics/

    Our people focus only on current politicians and what our Media/Religion (normally PAID) presents as leader.

    If NONE in the current List of Politicians are clean (TRAPO-dirty/corrupt) or cannot be trusted and none seems to be competent (sharp), young or in good health. And because of rampant/blatant corruption and obvious incompetence (dumb/stupid) in our politicians today - a Nobody or "None of the Above" should be included as an option on all voter's ballots.

    Vote a NOBODY or None of the Above for President 2016

    Don't simply Vote for a NOBODY or None of the Above - get out there and ACTIVELY CAMPAIGN for a Nobody (a non-politician) who you think can LEAD us Toward a Better & Safer Future.

    If a majority of our people voted for a NOBODY or "None of the Above" rather than, "the lesser of evils," it might force a situation where Voters would have to find someone competent to lead them.