POSTSCRIPT / September 23, 2014 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Can Noy still escape from Palace cabal?

HAVEN: May the visit of President Noynoy Aquino, now 54, to their Boston suburban home in exile in his early twenties give him a fresh perspective of his bumpy presidency before it ends in less than two years.

It was in Boston where Noynoy, with his parents Ninoy and Cory, and four sisters, again breathed the fresh air of freedom and enjoyed some respite from the seven-year persecution by the Marcos dictatorship.

To be allowed exile and medical treatment in the United States, Ninoy — then the presumptive challenger to the ailing Ferdinand Marcos – agreed not to speak against his fraternity brod while abroad. But he later trashed the deal, saying that a pact with the devil was no deal.

In-between meetings with State officials (they kept talking to him despite their tactical support of Marcos), Ninoy was soon immersed in the academic ambiance of Harvard. As adopted Bostonians, the family became fans of the Celtics and customers of the Italian restos in the North End.

It was in a modest two-storey brick house in Newton town 15 kilometers from Boston where the Aquino’s finally “found” one another, where Ninoy the peripatetic politician was given a chance to make up to the family.

That coming together in a foreign haven must have been meant to prepare them for the pater familias’ brutal assassination upon his return to Manila in 1963.

* * *

MEETINGS: President Aquino found himself in Boston right on the 42nd anniversary of the Sept. 21 declaration of martial rule when he was just 12 years old.

It was also September in 1986 when his late mother President Cory went on a state visit to Washington, DC, and got a standing ovation after her address before the US Congress reporting that she had restored democracy in the Philippines.

Noynoy Aquino is scheduled to meet family friends this week in-between speeches at Boston College, the JFK Forum at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Columbia University in New York City. (But he will find time to join Rep. Joseph Kennedy III at Bill’s Pizzeria, one of the President’s favorite eateries.)

Also lined up are meetings with American business executives and prospective investors.

* * *

GETTING EVEN: Those who know Noynoy Aquino should not be surprised that in a candid moment in his exchanges with the Filipino community, he confessed having harbored a desire to get back at the Marcoses.

He told a gathering of Filipinos that the assassination of his father while in the custody of a state military squad was the lowest point in their lives. He said:

“As the only son, I felt an overwhelming urge to exact an eye for an eye. Mr. Marcos and his ilk were like rabid dogs who had lost all reason. There was no longer any potential for dialogue; the only solution when confronted by a rabid dog is to put it down.

“I knew that he was a formidable foe, and the fight would be impossible, but regardless of this, in those moments, all I wanted to do to Mr. Marcos and his camp, was to do unto him as he had done unto us.”

* * *

DAP TRAP: We have started to express hope that the President’s return to Boston will give him a clearer perspective that will steel him, because we see him as falling into a trap laid by people close to him upon whom he had reposed confidence.

To go straight to the point, we think President Aquino – who accepted the Liberal Party nomination in 2010 despite his limitations — has become a captive of an LP cabal that has been using him to make money and consolidate more power for themselves.

They invented, for instance, the Development Acceleration Program, a secret mechanism for funneling billions in forced savings into a presidential pork barrel.

They misled the President to think that DAP was perfectly legal and served public good since it would accelerate disbursement of public funds to spur economic development.

* * *

SMOKING GUN: Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the architect of this criminal scheme, could not have been unaware that it was against the Constitution and should have told the President.

Yet he misled the President to think that it was perfectly legal provided they could cite good faith. Never mind that the supposedly good intentions included bribing lawmakers to do their bidding and amassing billions for the party war chest.

To make sure President Aquino could not back out, they made him sign incriminating papers covering the disbursements. Officials of the Commission on Audit and Abad himself have testified that the papers authorizing the DAP releases were signed by the President.

Many unsuspecting executives have been similarly misled by subordinates into thinking that their pet projects would not move without their signatures. They are then forced to affix their signatures that later become the smoking gun.

* * *

CLEAN NAME: The DAP problem is cited as one of those malicious traps laid for a non-lawyer president who by the nature of his work does not have the time to read every line on every page of every document placed on his desk.

There are many other traps, including orders cancelling or freezing perfected contracts for big projects, congressional enactments whose tricky provisions the president does not have the time or the expertise to scrutinize if they are constitutional.

We hope that by being away for some time from the snake pit in the Palace, the President’s mind will be cleared enough to review upon his return the more controversial decisions made by his Cabinet subordinates.

Concerned members of the Aquino family, who have been kept at a distance, may be distressed to see their Noynoy being manipulated and misled into signing incriminating documents.

President Aquino should be able to escape the cabal so he could walk away from Malacañang in 2016 with the family name clean and intact.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 23, 2014)

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