POSTSCRIPT / April 12, 2012 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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After scaring populace, they talk of evacuation!

LOS ANGELES — Why is our friend Vice President Jojo Binay in such a hurry to become president — and crudely showing it this early?

Unless the poll-postponement proponents captured the government after I left the NAIA tarmac Monday night, the next presidential election is still set for 2016, or four long years hence.

So why is Binay rushing to become the Philippines’ first black president? He knows something PhilSTAR readers don’t know yet?

Like maybe President Noynoy Aquino may not be able to finish his six-year term, thereby accelerating the succession process?

Or that the pending protest of Mar Roxas against Binay’s proclamation as elected vice president in 2010 may suddenly take an untoward turn?

Or that the country’s official with the highest public approval rating is gravely ill and therefore must move a little faster?

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TEXT BRIGADE: The Vice President has stepped up his campaign. Not a day passes without his scattering the now familiar text messages starting off with a news peg and ending with a suggestion that he may be the god-sent solution to the nation’s problems.

Binay’s Black Boys have replaced the Yellow Army now resting after their over-exertion in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in the Senate.

If my own survey among media friends is any better than that of False Asia, the merciless yellow text attack on Corona (mostly quotes from certified yellow columns) had started to draw negative reactions before the trial was recessed last month.

Binay is ahead of other presidential hopefuls (and potential vice presidential running mates) from the Senate stables such as Bongbong Marcos, Mar Roxas, Chiz Escudero and Jinggoy Estrada

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UNANG UNA: Former President Erap Estrada would have marked his 77th birthday today in Malacañang as returning president had not Executive Minister Eraño Manalo of the Iglesia ni Cristo died in 2009 just as the political pot started to boil.

It was bruited about that Manalo was committed to Estrada, a long-time friend and neighbor in San Juan. But his successor Eduardo went instead for the Liberal Party standard bearer, shifting at least a million winning votes from Estrada to Aquino.

Still a political force to reckon with, Estrada forged weeks ago a coalition with Binay, merging his Puersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) with the Vice President’s PDP-Laban to form what is now branded as the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

The UNA (literally means “first”) is shaping up as the bandwagon to hitch on in the 2016 elections despite the LP being the ruling party. President Aquino leads the LP, but he would be a lame duck president after the 2013 mid-term polls.

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BIG BOOST: The LP has no qualms declaring its willingness to put together with the UNA a common senatorial ticket for next year.

Its list of would-be senatorial bets includes Customs officials Ruffy Biazon and Danny Lim, former Rep. Neric Acosta, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara Jr., Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, and TESDA director general Joel Villanueva.

Mentioned prominently as UNA and coalition candidates are Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Francis Escudero and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

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WHAT SHELTERS?: After the administration’s disaster risk reduction officials scared the population of Luzon about falling debris from a wayward North Korean rocket, they tell them to prepare for possible evacuation.

That is cruel! That is not disaster risk reduction — but risk magnification bordering on stampeding people to the cliff.

Big question is WHERE do we evacuate the thousands of frightened citizens to shield them from the supposed objects falling from the sky? Assuming we have evacuation shelters, HOW do we do it? Again, where’s the plan?

In Metro Manila alone, if disaster management experts led by DILG officials succeed in scaring, then herding, people to non-existent evacuation centers, there could arise a much bigger disaster. There could be pandemonium.

On a normal Metro Manila day, EDSDA alone is one mess. Imagine what could happen when thousands more residents spill out into the streets in search of shelters that exist only in the minds of disaster coordinators?

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WHY THE PROTEST: The real story here is that Western allies led by the United States do not want states whose ideologies conflict with theirs to develop their own advanced technology and weaponry.

Such states as North Korea and Iran should not develop missile and nuclear capability, because they cannot be trusted to use them, in the eyes of the West, for peaceful and humanitarian purposes.

North Korea should stop fooling around with sophisticated rockets and satellites. The opinion of the world, especially its neighbors who happen to be clients of the West, should be brought to bear on Pyongyang to stop that foolishness.

So here we are being told, and we believe it, that North Korea’s launching of a satellite will rain deadly debris on our fair country. On cue, we now raise our voice to protest the threat of that deadly Korean shower.

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A DUD: Maybe the scare being spread by the administration is justified. Maybe its report of a fallout of deadly debris is true. Maybe.

Actually nobody in the administration knows for sure. But granting all that is true, what has the government done, aside from issuing scary statements, to shelter us or at least keep us from harm’s way?

Next we might hear an order for the suspension of classes, and possibly also of non-essential work, in areas where the possibility of a deadly fallout is high.

Somebody high in government must justify this Big Scare which, like the Korean missile, might just prove to be a dud.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 12, 2012)

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