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, May 15, 2015

AMLC comes down hard on Binay, but perceived ruthless political persecution using AMLC and assets freeze could have chilling effect on our banking system and economy. Grace Poe would pull Mar Roxas up as his VP, but she seems tickled pink with P-Noy’s offer. Frustrated over failure to conduct voting last Monday, BBL ad hoc committee will try again this Monday; but too many objections being raised in Congress and outside vs. BBL (e.g., from Zambo City’s feisty Mayor Isabelle Climaco). so that it might be wise to leave BBL’s resolution to succeeding regime.

After over 20 hearings in the Senate on VP Jejomar Binay’s alleged wealth, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) follows through by throwing the kitchen sink at him with allegations of riches stashed here and abroad in the billions, and the Court of Appeals freezing his family's assets for six months. VP Binay is truly dejado in this game and in fact at various social gatherings the talk is whether he could survive the deluge of accusations against him. 

What worries me more than VP Binay’s fate, however, is that what’s perceived as a legitimate weapon against drug lords and corruption syndicates, the AMLC, is now being used as a tool for political persecution of Malacanang’s opponent---all in an effort to keep the possible new tenant in 2016 WITHIN the LP stables AND THUS PROTECT THE INCUMBENT FROM POLITICAL CHARGES LATER ON.   

What chilling effect would the employment of the AMLC for such perceived political persecution have on the banking system and the economy? The President shrugs his shoulders and says, “Don’t look at me,” regarding AMLC’s crushing down on the Binay dynasty, but no one would believe that the Palace has nothing to do with it. 

This is because the AMLC, which is supposed to uphold absolute secrecy about foreign bank accounts, has been used once too often to harass political enemies. Remember Renato Corona? The open use of the AMLC for political harassment makes this country look so fifth-world!


I was at the first death anniversary of the late much-loved Azucena “Mama Nene” Vera Perez a couple of days ago at the family-owned swanky Sampaguita Gardens and I saw how crowds zeroed in on Sen. Grace Poe like bees around a flower. Folks milled around her for photos, which seemed to amuse mom Susan Roces watching from the sidelines. A year ago Grace Poe was not interested at all in higher office and mom Susan flatly discouraged her. But now that P-Noy has talked to her and openly says that she’d be able to continue his (?) reforms, she seems tickled pink. News reports quote her as querying aloud if P-Noy would still support her if she ran as an independent.

Mar Roxas’ allies in the LP are trying to persuade Grace to run as his VP, and she’d decidedly be able to pull him up if she did. But at this point, she seems tickled enough to be at the forefront of the race. I wish, however, she wouldn’t run now but stay in the Senate to season further and mature politically. Grace is too inexperienced to run this hapless country that by 2016 WOULD PREDICTABLY BE IN NEAR-TOTAL WRECK.  Grace has time on her hands; how I wish she’d wait.


Last Monday noon, I went to Farmers’ Market in Cubao, Q.C., to buy veggies and fish but the parking lot was full of cars sporting No. 8 and guards said it was closed to outsiders. I figured that members of the House of Representatives must be holding their crucial lunch-caucus at the Balay, the old seafood place of the family of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, regarding voting in the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) scheduled for that afternoon. 

But apparently business couldn't be finished and the 75 ad hoc committee members led by chair Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro continued their caucus in the House, adjourning at around 4 pm. With many issues still unresolved, later that evening Speaker Sonny Belmonte called an all-party dinner caucus in his office upstairs where, from what I gathered, voices would be raised in heated arguments from time to time, led by the militant party-list solons. 


Originally the idea floated was for the ad hoc committee to conduct voting IN SECRET, but that was thumbed down for fear that public opinion would  roar disapproval of clandestine voting on this crucial issue of autonomy for Bangsamoro. Pressure from Malacanang has intensified to pass the BBL by at the latest the adjournment of session on June 12. But because there are many issues in the draft law that are debatable, voting scheduled originally for last Monday and Tuesday at committee level had to be postponed to this Monday and Tuesday, May 18 and 19.

Interestingly, the seating for this Monday’s ad hoc caucus at the House South Wing was arranged like a classroom and veteran observers know what that would mean: voting among the committee members would be by shouts of ayes and nayes only; a viva voce vote would be possible only during the plenary voting where House members are to explain their vote to the nation.


Given the heat of the controversy surrounding the BBL, however, it’s doubtful if acclamation would be possible this Monday---or if plenary voting is possible at all before President Aquino’s very last SONA on July 27. In fact despite every conceivable push by Malacanang, including persistent buzz that projects are being dangled for the BBL’s passage, the anti-BBL side seems to be gaining ground.

It’s not for lack of support for the BBL which, in fairness to the ad hoc committee led by Rodriguez, has already pledged to delete or amend as many as 60 provisions (many of them contributed by Davao del Norte Rep. Anton del Rosario, who's said to have a coterie of some 20 congressmen with him). Orlando Cardinal Quevedo of Cotabato City visited the House last Monday to rally support for BBL, while Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma is also very much for it. 


Mayor Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City

But the fact is that more significant voices are being raised AGAINST the BBL, notably that of former SC Justice Florentino Feliciano who argued that dealing with insurgents could be treasonous;  former UP Law Dean Merlin Magallona and prominent members of the IBP---plus feisty Mayor Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City who argues that "Zamboanga Hermosa" would never be part of the BBL--- not in the past ARRM, not now nor in the future; also against it are the people of Isabela City in Basilan.

The BBL issue is so hot to handle especially with the elections approaching, so that solons are caught in a squeeze between P-Noy and possible backlash from their constituents. The solons want to correctly gauge the pulse of the electorate and their reading now is that this issue is unpopular even in Mindanao.

Given the controversy this draft law is kicking up, I think it would be most wise for the P-Noy administration to leave its resolution to its successor regime. There are just too many kinks that would be left unresolved, which could blow up into huge problems in Mindanao.  


  1. The misuse and abuse of the ALMC for political persecution might only allow those guilty of money laundering to get away with their crime by technicality. The attempt at overkill could back fire at the banking system where a bank run can be triggered.

  2. Mayor Isabelle Climaco knows what's best for her constituents and for our Country. Best of all she has the courage to express it openly. Let us give her our all-out support. God bless you Mayor Climaco.