De Lima and Brillantes are taking us for fools

Just who is Norie Unas whose testimony against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo our justice secretary swears by, the Commission on Elections chief very distastefully boasts will put her in jail by Christmas, and the presidential spokesperson claims is “very solid evidence”?

When they presented Unas to media Oct. 3 as a “new witness” against Macapagal-Arroyo, Leila de Lima and Sixto Brillantes introduced him as if he were just some bureaucrat from the boondocks, “the Provincial Administrator of Maguindanao.”

That’s like identifying Heinrich Himmler as once a German Interior Minister, without mentioning that he was the brains and executor of the Holocaust.  A hyperbole that may be, but just as Himmler with his gas chambers mechanized the murder of six million Jews, Unas ordered the mechanization in digging the mass grave for 57 people, including at least 32 journalists, cold-bloodedly murdered in November 2009, purportedly upon orders of his boss Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son.

According to Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife was among the victims, Unas ordered the provincial government’s tractor backhoe be deployed to the killing field so that the corpses could be swiftly and deeply buried and hidden.


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Time to get to work, Mr. President

Greece will most likely default on its debts soon.  With the resulting hit its creditor banks in Europe will take, a European financial crisis will break out, triggering a global economic slowdown just a few notches lower in intensity than the 2008 global financial crisis.

A slowdown is no longer a forecast but is already a reality. As a Citi Private Bank regular economic briefing dated 29 Sept. 2011 put it:  “Global growth is slowing and systemic risk is rising… Parts of the global economy are probably already in recession; the question for us is how much will it spread and how bad will it get.”


Continue ReadingTime to get to work, Mr. President

Aquino endorses Brazilian drinks

President Aquino last week raved over what he thought was buko juice from our country that is a fad in gyms in the United States.   He proudly brandished, the way Madonna did, in press conferences in the US and in Manila the two brands of the coconut-water beverage popular in the US:  Vita Coco and O.N.E. (for One Natural Experience).

Unfortunately for us, both are Brazilian drinks, widely known in the US as such, except to Mr. Aquino and his party.  Ira Liran, one of the two owners of Vita Coco, got interested in the drink (agua de coco), which was the favorite of a Brazilian beauty he met at a Manhattan bar, who would later on be his wife. His company has been getting for the past eight years all of its coconut water from his spouse’s country.


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Demystifying Marcos’ martial law regime

Thirty-nine years ago, President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, allowing him to rule the country for 13  years.

I was then a 19-year-old Ateneo college dropout heading the Manila and Rizal organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines, then a rag-tag band of dreamy-eyed baby-boomers (founder Jose Sison was then 33 years old, the legendary Kumander Dante, 29).   The party’s analysis was that the Plaza Miranda bombing of the opposition rally a year earlier had intensified “the split within the ruling class,” so much so that Marcos would soon declare a hated martial law—and create a revolutionary situation chaotic enough for the communists to take over power.


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Aquinomics: no economics

In Peter Sellers’ 1979 hit comedy “Being There,” a simple-minded gardener’s utterances drawn from TV commercials and gardening knowledge are misinterpreted as profundity, so that he is mistaken as a policy wonk in Washington, D.C. circles.

The movie somehow reminds us of how awe-struck writers read profundity in President Aquino’s actions to even call these as making up “Aquinomics.” Assuming that the term refers to something, it would be “no economics.”

Mr. Aquino has demonstrated a penchant for eschewing economic thinking. After a year in power, we may be seeing the upper-class version of the masa’s Erap, hopefully only in terms of economic literacy.


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Chinese premier asked for Aquino apology

Using diplomatic language, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unexpectedly asked President Aquino to apologize for the massacre of August 23 last year of eight Hong Kong tourists in a hostage situation bungled by his government, diplomatic sources say. Mr. Aquino was caught flatfooted, as his foreign affairs officials had said they were sure the issue was a “dead one.”

Though stated in a roundabout way, Wen’s message was unmistakable, and wasn’t even made confidential, the sources say, pointing to the official account by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mr. Aquino’s September 1 meeting: “Wen urged the Philippine government to attach importance to the requests of the government and people of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and properly handle the aftermath of last year’s incident in which tourists from Hong Kong were held hostage in Manila.”

The main request made by the victim’s relatives was for Mr. Aquino to formally apologize for his government’s blunders in the hostage crisis.  The other two requests were for cash compensation, and for the government to file criminal cases against officials who bungled the crisis.


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Envoys queuing up to meet MILF head

It didn’t take too long for President Aquino’s meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chieftain Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo—originally intended as a dramatic achievement for the State of the Nation speech—to unravel as one of his biggest blunders so far. In an insult to the President, as it ignored totally his “historic” meet last August 5 with Murad, the MILF ended the talks August 29, a day before its scheduled end, practically with a walkout.

The fallout from Aquino’s misstep had started earlier. Making Aquino’s meeting with the rebel chief as an excuse, the Japanese ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe, with his political affairs minister and other ranking embassy officials, trooped on Aug. 18  to the MILF headquarters in Maguindanao to meet  with Murad and other central committee members.


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Ghost stories on 2004 election fraud

This paper’s Talk of the Town last week, which Manuel Alcuaz’s piece, “Fraud in the 2004 Presidential Elections,” was, well, a ghost story. According to the editor’s introduction, there was this “rediscovery” of Alcuaz’s paper submitted way back in 2006.

“By coincidence or serendipity,” the introduction said, was the piece found, and when the editor decided to run it he was surprised (now you can hear that “X-Files” theme in the background) to learn that Alcuaz had passed away. Not only that, you are supposed to have gooseflesh. According to the introduction, when the editor called up the number in the cover letter to talk to Alcuaz, the phone company message was the number had yet to be assigned. (Reality check: The news on the death of Alcuaz, the fire-brand Linggoy’s brother, and a personality in the IT and management circles, was widely circulated in cyberspace, and reported in several newspapers the day after he died on July 24.)

The political ghost story peddled: A patriot whose article didn’t see print in 2006 has reached out from the great beyond to expose the 2004 electoral fraud committed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Alcuaz’s ghost extricated it somewhere and put it on top of the editor’s pile of letters.


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Republic downgraded in Aquino-MILF meet

“MILF: NOY gave us hope,” this paper’s banner headline said recently, referring to President Aquino’s August 5 meeting in a Narita airport travelers’ hotel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

Mr. Aquino indeed gave the insurgents a lot of hope—to make the MILF the core of a sovereign state. The meeting in effect put the MILF on the same category as the Philippine Republic—sovereign entities. Read the MILF’s statement on the meeting (which was strangely under-reported in mainstream newspapers) and it’s the conclusion you will arrive at. (I have posted it at


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Aquino Sona claims a life

It was the rush by President Aquino’s officials to include in his State of the Nation Address last July 25 what they thought would be a spectacular “exposé” of an alleged Marcos-style “behest loan” during the past administration that led to the suicide of 43-year-old Development Bank of the Philippines lawyer Benjamin Pinpin.

A despondent Pinpin took his life on Aug. 2, and in the suicide notes he left to his wife and mother, he regretted the false statements he made in an affidavit he signed on July 27, reportedly after weeks of pressure by the DBP board. The affidavit was to be among the evidence the DBP board would submit in its graft case to be filed at the Office of the Ombudsman alleging that 25 DBP officials connived to extend an anomalous loan to tycoon Roberto Ongpin, described in the suit as a “Marcos crony.”

The DBP board had to resort to intimidating Pinpin and other DPB officials to provide evidence for the graft case because of the tight schedule for its planned inclusion in Mr. Aquino’s Sona.


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