POSTSCRIPT / December 30, 2012 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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LP bit more than it could chew in Cebu?

ZARZUELA: It is comical that both camps in the fight for control of vote-rich Cebu province are sanctimoniously invoking the rule of law, when in fact the spectacle is nothing but the usual political zarzuela.

On center stage in the political drama is Gov. Gwen Garcia, who was suspended by Malacañang for six months – or until after the May 2013 elections! – for alleged grave abuse of authority.

The 57-year-old executive has barricaded herself in her office while an acting governor propped up by Malacañang goes through the motions of running the capitol to maintain the myth of normalcy.

Has the Liberal Party, using its Palace dentures, bitten off more than it could chew?

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THREE KINGS: “The rule of law must prevail,” intoned Vice President Jojo Binay after he and two other United Nationalist Alliance stalwarts – former President Erap Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile – paid Garcia a booster visit last Sunday.

Their show of solidarity with the embattled PDP-Laban governor may presage the emerging of UNA as the opposition coalition in the 2016 presidential elections and even as early as next year’s midterm polls.

Malacañang and the administration Liberal Party shot back with a veiled warning, expressing “hope” the UNA bigwigs were not encouraging Garcia to dig in and defy the rule of law. As lawyers, they know what that means.

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CUTTING CLEAN: Binay had been saying that UNA is not the opposition – which merely meant that he, a creation of then President Cory Aquino, was not ready to cut clean with her son the incumbent President and his friends in the First Family.

But the Liberal Party’s clumsy attempt to capture Cebu, teeming with more than 2.5 million voters, may just accelerate UNA’s dropping all pretenses and standing as the opposition in 2016, if not in the midterm local polls next year.

That the suspension order was carried out by Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of the Interior and Local Government is not lost on Cebuanos known for their fierce opposition to outside interference.

Roxas, who had stepped aside in 2010 to enable Aquino to run and become president, is presumed to be the LP presidential bet to face UNA’s Binay in 2016.

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ONGOING PROCESS: Binay pointed out that Garcia’s tormentors, asking for calm, have been saying that the governor could file a motion for reconsideration or ask the court for relief.

Garcia, a member of the politically entrenched Garcia clan, has asked the Court of Appeals to stop the DILG from enforcing her suspension.

“This only shows that there is an ongoing process,” Binay said. “So why insist on the suspension and disturb the status quo in the capitol, prejudice essential services and unnecessarily raise political temper?”

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TEST RAID: The power play in Cebu could be just another test attack. Earlier, Malacañang also went after Gov. Amado Espino of Pangasinan, another vote-rich province, accusing him of illegally amassing millions from jueteng.

The Nationalist People’s Coalition promptly went to the defense of Espino, charging political harassment. Binay and Enrile of UNA also expressed doubts the plunder charges against Espino had basis.

Somebody seems to be testing the water this early, to see how the public will react — and if the ensuing propaganda war could be managed in the media.

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HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary-general, noted that the LP and Roxas’ agenda will erode the people’s trust in President Aquino’s administration.

He said: “The people have very high expectations of the administration. They want jobs and a better life. They are fed up with the previous regime’s lust for power. They want more governance and less politics.”

“The LP’s power grab in Cebu is a return to the discredited mindset of politics at all costs,” he said. “Roxas’ obsession to capture power in 2013 all the way to 2016 could be costly for the President’s reform agenda.”

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RATINGS DROPPED: As it is, President Aquino’s net satisfaction rating has already dropped by 12 points (from 67 to 55 percent), if the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations conducted Dec. 8-11 is to be believed.

The SWS said Aquino’s annual average rating of 53, which it said was “very good,” matched his 2011 score but was nine points lower that his 62 rating in 2010 – the highest recorded so far in his three years in office.

The polling agency said that Aquino’s scores fell in all areas, socio-economic classes and gender. The SWS said it used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide.

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GUT SURVEY: This observer takes these surveys with a ton of salt. But assuming the results reflect the true public sentiment, they just show that sooner or later the truth will break through propaganda and braggadocio.

They also remind us that the true situation is not in press releases but in the people’s guts. In a developing country like the Philippines, the main determinant of public satisfaction is the people’s economic situation.

The rosy economic scenario painted by foreign creditors wanting to convince the Philippines to borrow some more does not correspond to the picture as seen by the natives who must endure the bitter fruits of bad government.

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WHERE’S INVESTMENT?: The supposed hundreds of millions in dollars promised to be invested whenever President Aquino visited a foreign capital are –just that – promises made to make the visitor feel good.

Somebody should add up these promises and compare them to the hard direct investments actually brought in, not borrowed from local sources, then tell the truth.

Actually the millions of Filipinos wallowing in poverty already know the truth. But their pained cries are not heard when the table surveys are put together for the clients paying for the poll report.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 30, 2012)

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