POSTSCRIPT / January 22, 2009 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Gloria, Mike can learn from Obama inaugural

CLARK FIELD — When US President Barack Obama told his fellow Americans in his inaugural address “on this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord,” his words were met with thunderous applause.

If exactly the same message or a similar exhortation were recited by President Gloria Arroyo at, say, a mammoth prayer rally at the Luneta, would it spark as much hope and enthusiasm? No, it won’t.

“The challenges we face are real,” Obama said. “They are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.” (More tumultuous cheering.)

If President Arroyo said the same thing to Filipinos about their country, would they believe her? Yes, they would believe that the challenges are real, serious and many. But, no, they won’t believe that “they will be met” under her presidency.

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CYNICISM: You see, in our milieu that has grown cynical because of the unmitigated lying, arrogance and stealing in high places, what now counts more is no longer the Message but the Messenger.

It seems that — in contrast with the electric Obamania sparking a renewed America — a growing number of Filipinos are just waiting for the wife of Mike Arroyo to step down from the presidency.

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NON-TRAPO EYED: Gazing beyond the dark clouds foreshadowing the 2010 presidential election, I feel it in my guts that if there is anybody who can save this country, it will be a clean and credible Messenger. Possibly a non-politician.

Politicos in various disguises have so wrecked this country that they should be barred from public office forever. Of course, that is easier said than done, considering how political dynasties have taken over our lives like weeds overrunning an untended garden.

I saw the flicker of this no-trapo idea in 2007 when Betis parish priest Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio agreed to run for governor of Pampanga even without a well-oiled political machine and a bulging war chest — and won against formidable foes.

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‘AMONG ED’ BID: While the romantic notion of a total neophyte felling political giants was still quivering in the heart, some of his admirers continue to pursue the vision of Among Ed marching on to become — why not? — president, maybe in 2010.

Actually, many of his more discreet supporters did not want this presidential agenda leaked out prematurely lest the hounds of power are unleashed against the outsider breaking into the exclusive enclave of traditional politicians.

But days ago, with his volunteer cheering squad furiously beating the drums from far-away Loyola Heights, Among Ed was psyched to admit that, yes, he might run for president “if it is God’s will.”

With that, the poor priest’s presidential guts are now spread out on the table to be dissected by people who have not even washed their hands. This could be messy. May God have mercy on him.

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PUNO TEST-DROP: Still, the idea of a non-politico materializing on a white charger above the din and dust of political combat to pluck this country from imminent implosion remains valid.

But why only Among Ed? There is now in the media and civil groups a similar cry for others untainted by electoral politics to offer themselves.

Among them, Chief Justice Reynato Puno stands out as the non-politico, a Messenger of moral reform, who is eminently qualified and positioned to save this country from the barbarians outside and inside the walls.

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SUCCESSFUL TEST: To this observer, the test-drop of the Puno name for president was correct and successful.

• Correct — because somebody like the Chief Justice who is being visited by presidential visions and tempted by mischievous spirits has to know how the public feels about his possibly running in 2010 or being drafted in an unusual upheaval.

• Successful — because with an economy of time and resources (1) his name was firmly planted in the public mind for easy recall in case he runs, and (2) his acceptability to a substantial sector of the public has been ascertained.

The other good thing was that the Puno test-drop was stopped as soon as the two items above were achieved. His straying into the political ring was called off before harm could be inflicted on his person and the institution he represents.

As for the money requirements of a serious presidential bid, now placed at P10 billion!, that should not be a problem. Don’t worry, the usual financiers and gamblers will build that bridge before the favored candidate crosses it.

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MEDIA MADNESS: As a journalist of long standing, I am glad that colleague Alex Magno pointed out the disturbing detail of some newcomers to this oldest profession going to town with unverified one-sided information and making sweeping and unkind conclusions.

I refer to the media madness that followed the blog-posting by golfer Bambee dela Paz of her account of the December 26 brawl at Valley Golf involving her family members and those of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman.

A third-party investigation by Valley Golf has shown that although the Dela Pazes sustained more injury, they were actually the ones who started it.

What will media eager-beavers do now after, frothing in the mouth, they demanded the resignation of Pangandaman who turned out to be more of the victim?

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 22, 2009)

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