POSTSCRIPT / September 3, 2009 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Mikey better retain a lawyer, or clam up

LOVE YOU…: For starters today, here is an old item from the Internet worth retelling:

While a man was polishing his new car one weekend, his five-year-old son picked up a stone and scratched some lines on the side of the vehicle.

In anger, the man grabbed the child’s hand and hit it many times, not realizing he was using a wrench. At the hospital, the child lost all the fingers of his right hand due to multiple fractures.

When the child saw his father, with painful eyes he asked, “Dad when will my fingers grow back?” Hurt and speechless; the man went back to his car and kicked it several times.

Sitting dejected beside his car, he saw up close what his son had scrawled: “LOVE YOU DAD.”

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MAR’S SACRIFICE: Suddenly a major piece fell into place as we struggle with the great puzzle of how to unite Filipinos into one reformist wave that could wash away the moral decay in government and politics.

Sen. Mar Roxas’ giving way to Sen. Noynoy Aquino as the standard bearer of the Liberal Party in the 2010 elections might have a domino effect. Other aspirants could drop out to rally behind a common opposition candidate.

Whatever motive we may ascribe to Roxas’ “supreme sacrifice,” we concede his good faith when he said, “I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me.”

He added: “Our nation is in trouble. Leadership is bankrupt. Institutions are in disarray. People are hungry. Noynoy Aquino and I share the same outrage over the mess we are all in, the same way we share the solution — clean, honest, selfless public service.”

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TWO-PARTY FIGHT: Watch other presidential wannabes, including those just waiting for a graceful exit from a contest they cannot win, doing a Roxas.

As the field thins out with the withdrawal of the adventurers and the nuisance candidates, former Liberal senator Ernesto Herrera expressed hope for the revival of the old two-party system dominated by the LP and the Nacionalista Party.

That is not likely to happen very soon, but it remains a dream of those who want to have a president wielding a majority mandate. When several bets run, the votes are usually spread out among so many and only a plurality president emerges.

The post-election multiparty mess makes it difficult for the president to bind the fractured nation.

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DROPPING OUT: As I write this, Noynoy Aquino has not made known his precise election plan — for instance, if he would answer the call to run for president and if he would draft Roxas as his running mate.

The 49-year-old Noynoy is widely expected to respond to the two questions in the affirmative. His main selling point is that he is perceived to be the antithesis of the corrupt politicians who pocket an estimated P200 billion each year.

Although a leap into the presidential ring is a daunting challenge, especially for one who has not had deep and serious preparations for the presidency, Aquino is likely to succumb to the prodding of supporters to run.

Depending on how the political brew boils going on to November, the jokers and pretenders could drop out or suffer the ignominy of being marginalized toward the finish line.

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LAWYER NEEDED: Presidential son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo obviously needs a good lawyer by his side when he tries explaining why his personal net worth soared from P5 million in 2002 to P99 million in 2008.

Interviewed on GMA-7 the other day, the congressman from Pampanga’s second district, said the wealth bulging in his statement of assets and liabilities and net worth came from wedding gifts and leftover from campaign contributions.

His sally into an unaided defense reminds us of the wife of a former chief of the armed forces Logistics Command who was intercepted, like her son, carrying into the United States a big bundle of dollars.

To explain their undeclared dollars, she boasted that her husband was a general and had been regularly receiving gifts and commissions, blah-blah. As they say, a fish is caught by the mouth.

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SO SUE ME: Mikey Arroyo is hard-pressed to explain, among other valuable assets, a $1.32-million (about P63.7-million) waterfront house in California that he reportedly did not declare in his SALN.

“When I got married I received many gifts. Then during the campaign I got a lot of help. It’s not that much, but it helped and we had some good investments,” he explained.

As many cocky officials running out of argument are wont to do, Arroyo challenged his critics to sue him.

“You refuse to believe my answer so I’m saying ask my lawyer,” he said. “It’s all legal, and it’s not that big. I want a case filed in court to clear things up… It’s transparent, I have nothing to hide.”

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SLOW DRAG: WHY ME?: Arroyo also threw the tired “other people do it too so why pick on me?” line.

He said: “I believe many public officials do this also, we can put a property under a company’s name as long as we declare the company. It’s a legal way of teaching us how to deal with our SALN.”

He was referring to the controversial beach house that is allegedly registered in the name of a group identified as Beach Way LLC.

He said he lives in the house whenever he is in the US. “It’s company-owned,” he said. “When I go on vacation, I stay there just like other shareholders.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 3, 2009)

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