Thursday, September 27, 2007 [ 12:15 PM ]


The difference between a whistle bomb and a whistle joy is that the first starts with a loud long noise then ends with a loud bang. The latter starts with a loud long noise then will suddenly stop. No exclamation point, no spectacular ending. That is what the testimony of former NEDA chief Romulo Neri yesterday was like.

Most people thought his appearance in the senate was a sign of bravery and he was ready to squeal all that he knew about the controversial broadband deal. But as we all saw he didn’t, or maybe he tried but he wasn’t successful. All he did was to tell that Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos bribed him with “200” and that the president told him not to accept it. Every time the senators tried to dig in to what the president did after she was informed of the event, Neri invoked executive privilege. He said that he can’t tell anything about what the president told him as per order of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. Neri said that he was allowed by Ermita to tell about the bribery and the order of the president not to accept it but nothing more.

Obviously it can be translated as an order to pin down Abalos and to clear the name of the president. But more to that, it also means that the president knows that there was a bribe but she approved the contract just the same, without doing anything about Abalos’ alleged illegal act. Cabinet members can of course argue that there was a discreet investigation made, but no one seems to know who were investigated, who conducted the investigation and how it went, except of its result that Abalos is innocent. Even after being urged by some senators that yesterday was the day Neri could do the country a great favor by not hiding under the executive privilege, he still insisted that he was only following Ermita’s order.

That was a clear sign of Neri’s loyalty to the administration, but is the administration loyal to him? I don’t think so. In fact Ermita just denied that he was the one who ordered Neri to invoke the privilege. If Neri wasn’t lying about it then Ermita is. Neri should take that as an indication that even how much he shield Malacañang, he is not assured to get the same protection. Who knows, if the controversy becomes even bigger, he might be the next fall guy for the couple in the palace.

A pdf file of Joey De Venecia III’s affidavit in the senate investigation can be downloaded here.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007 [ 9:33 AM ]


If there is one thing that the controversy of the National Broadband Network project that the government signed with China’s ZTE Corporation did to this administration, it was to give its PR team and political spinners a startling uppercut.

In boxing there is what they call a lucky punch. In basketball there is the lucky shot and the friendly roll. In both cases, you didn’t really expect your opponent would make it but they managed to. That same thing happened to team gma. They never thought that this broadband contract will make it this big and that the opposition and the public will want more expose about it than the Hello Garci controversy.

It has been too late for them to realize that the broadband deal is coming to hit them straight in the face. The first indication that they already felt it was only the day before Jose De Venecia III appeared before the senate and testified how his president’s husband told him to back off with the deal. Mike Arroyo suddenly flew out of the country. A sudden move that just made things very obvious it was like they poured gasoline to fire.

Possibly because of their outrage on JDV3’s revelations, GMA’s allies in the House planned to oust Jose De Venecia from the speakership. Another sudden move that the PR managers of the administration never thought will backfire on them. It was again too late for them to realize that JDV still has strong influence in the lower house that might complete the magic number of the opposition to pursue an impeachment attempt against the president. This again was an attempt that made things look like the administration is hiding something because they withdrew it the moment they sensed JDV’s power.

At this point, nothing seems to go in favor of the administration. So to rub out the speculations that they are really hiding something, Mrs.Arroyo decided to allow all her cabinet members to attend the senate investigation on the broadband deal. That was what gma or her advisers thought. Because after being placed under scrutiny, the cabinet members seemed to confirm that the broadband deal is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Because of the political noise as gma herself said, she suspended the contract. It was here where I realized that gma’s PR team was really rattled and confused. They chose to suspend a contract that was already suspended by the Supreme Court. As Ricky Carandang and the Inquirer editorial said, it was a plain publicity move that the people didn’t buy. Even General Hermogenes Esperon discharged speculations of coup attempt and even martial law thoughts just to be able to divert the issue.

Gma’s political advisers and press relations people is one of the best I’ve seen. Maybe that’s because I’ve only seen a few but it cannot be denied that during the height of the Hello Garci controversy in 2006 they managed to pull off the right spins to prevent another uprising despite the people’s outrage. That was before. Now, with the way things are going and the way they are doing their hastily moves, it looks like they cannot always be lucky especially when caught off guard.

Ringtone of ABZTEFG can be downloaded in txtpower website .


Thursday, September 13, 2007 [ 10:14 AM ]


As all of us should know by now, former President Joseph Estrada was declared by the Sandiganbayan yesterday guilty of the crime of plunder and was sentenced a penalty of reclusion perpetua or 20 to 40 years in prison. (Former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa defined the difference between life imprisonment and reclusion perpetua here) Part of the decision is the acquittal of the former president in the crime of perjury and the acquittal as well of Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Atty. Eduard Serapio in the crime of plunder as co-accused of Erap.

Yet again, the country is divided, maybe not equally but divided just the same on whether the decision made by the graft court is right or wrong. Obviously, it has been rightly predicted that an acquittal on all charges is unlikely to happen because it will heavily put in question the already tarnished legitimacy of the present administration. But unlike what the media made it looked like, yesterday’s decision is not the end of it. Though it is the end of the 6-year long trial in the Sandiganbayan, it’s not yet the end of the legal process.

Whether the Erap lawyers decide first to file a motion for reconsideration in the Sandiganbayan (something that Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago said is not possible anymore because the decision was already “beyond reasonable doubt”) in the end it will be the Supreme Court who will have the final say on the matter. Of course, the Sandiganbayan knows this and it seems that they just decided to pass on their burden to a court of higher credibility.

Though they may look audacious in convicting the former president in the heavier crime of plunder, what they did was just to pass the ball to the higher court. Although there were accessory penalties given to Estrada, the court still was not brave enough to allow his detention in Muntinlupa. This is even after the declaration of Atty.Rene Saguisag that his client is willing to be detained in a regular prison. Not to mention how Presiding Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro kept ignoring Atty.Dennis Villaignacio’s attempt to insist that Muntinlupa is ready to accommodate the former president. So what’s the difference?

The situation of Erap before the decision is not so much different after the Sandiganbayan’s decision was made. He will stay in Tanay, Jinggoy is back to the senate and his lawyers are back on the court to defend their client. It’s just the same. The only difference is that this time, it will only be Erap alone who will wait for the final verdict and the decision lies on the Supreme Court. With the way I look at it, we’re back in square one just with a different court and a lesser number of accused.

HERE is a pdf file of the full decision of the Sandiganbayan I got from Manolo Quezon’s blog.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007 [ 8:23 AM ]


The House Committee on Suffrage approved on Monday the proposal to postpone the 2007 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October 29. According to House Speaker Jose De Venecia, a new law should be passed to be able to postpone an election. The proposal he said, still needs to go to the plenary for the debate and then to the Senate, where if passed, will immediately be implemented after it is signed by the President.

De Venecia also said that many congressmen, governors, mayors and even senators and barangay officials themselves are in favor of the postponement. He even defended their position in saying that we just had an election in May and there is also an upcoming ARMM election so it would just be practical to postpone the elections to save government money.

If that’s the case then why not just postpone it until…2020? And why not just do it in all the upcoming elections, including the national elections in 2010? Following De Venecia’s logic, it would save us more money. But of course, that’s not what it should be. The Barangay elections should have been held in 2005 but was postponed because, if I remember it right, the Comelec said they didn’t have the funds and we just had an election in 2004. Our honorable congressmen decided that it should be held in October this year and now they are seeing a conflict again. Would De Venecia admit that their previous decision was wrong? Or would he admit that they just wanted to postpone the elections for their allies’ benefit without looking at what lies ahead for the country?

I thought that after the House failed with their attempt to change the constitution, they will finally stop doing nationwide self-serving moves. But of course that was a hope next to impossible. This is my simple theory about this: In Philippine politics, favor begets favor. So the support given by barangay leaders to the local and national candidates in the 2004 elections produced the postponement of the 2005 barangay elections. And now the support given by barangay officials last year seems to bring the same results.

The barangay elections have been long delayed and the people desires change. Three years extension is too much and another year would be the worst. Our congressmen should know how strict our 1987 constitution is when it comes to term limits and extension in office. They should also remember that only when there is an election ordinary citizens get their chance to say their satisfaction or dissatisfaction to their local leaders in terms of votes. So don’t deprive the people of what they want and what they need. Besides why does the Liga ng mga Barangay fear the election if they really did function well? If they argue about practicality again just like what they did before, well, the will of the people and the will of the constitution is always above any practicality there is.

FOR SK : Some of the Sanggunian Kabataan leaders are now eligible to run for a local position and they are not Kabataan anymore. If congress is talking about practicality, maybe they should abolish SK because it serves no purpose than a training ground for young trapo’s and a puppet government waiting for their budget and salaries.