2007 Postscripts

December 2007

CLARK FIELD — If there is anybody who can save this country, he will not be a traditional politician.

This has been my simplistic line since the last May elections, using the term “politician” in the pejorative sense. [ Read More ]

FLIMSY TAPE: Putting tape around the muzzle of police firearms — so they cannot be fired daw during the New Year revelry – and then publishing the picture of the “taping” is ridiculous. [ Read More ]

TEMPEST: The new pastor and his wife, just assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in October excited about opportunities. When they saw their church, very run down and in bad need of repairs, they set to finish everything in time for their first service on Christmas Eve. [ Read More ]

STAR ON TOP: It was so hilarious. A newspaper that fancies itself as lord of the broadsheet market went berserk days ago when The Philippine STAR published the simple fact that the Nielsen Media Research Advertising Information has reported that The STAR was actually on top. [ Read More ]

GAPING TRAP: A foreign investor bidding for a big government project or negotiating a fat contract together with Filipino business associates could be walking into a trap. [ Read More ]

LOBBY AT WORK: The average Pinoy cannot see through the legalese of the various “cheaper medicine” bills in Congress and decide which version will benefit poor patients and which one will fatten further the giant drugs companies. [ Read More ]

PAGING DTI: With pre-Christmas shopping picking up, the Department of Trade and Industry should issue a clear order against merchants charging different prices for customers paying cash and those using credit cards. [ Read More ]

PICKING ON PRESS?: The way some media are playing the removal of civilians from the five-star command post of a revolt-in-progress in Makati last Nov. 29, they are making it appear that the police were picking on the press. [ Read More ]

TAN CASE: Taking off from the Supreme Court decision that there was no basis for the 1986 seizure of taipan Lucio Tan’s assets in four companies, including his flagship Fortune Tobacco Corp., the sequestration of other firms similarly taken over should be lifted too. [ Read More ]

KEEP DISTANCE: Addendum to what I have written on coverage of potentially violent situations:

One rule in the asphalt jungle is to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Others improve on that and strive to maintain a safe buffer not only in front but also all around. [ Read More ]

BANDAID: This item is too good for this cabalen not to pass on.

Question: What are the distinguishing details of these prominent persons:

1. Erap Estrada? Answer: Wrist band.

2. Benjamin Abalos? Answer: Broadband.

3. Gloria Arroyo? Answer: Husband

[ Read More ]

THEATRICS: Much has been said about the supposed need for that Trillanes caper at the Manila Peninsula last Thursday to call attention to what is wrong with President Gloria Arroyo and her administration. [ Read More ]

COWARDICE: If Antonio Trillanes were still an officer (he lost his commission when he ran for the Senate last May), he should be charged with cowardice for running away from a potentially bloody showdown at the start of the rebellion that he and his armed cohorts launched Thursday in Makati. [ Read More ]

November 2007

ANGELES CITY – Is the political storm swirling around Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio rooted in the illegal numbers game of jueteng?

Jueteng was one of two major issues that the former parish priest of Betis used in dislodging entrenched politicians from the capitolio and taking over as governor of the home province of President Gloria Arroyo and her kumpare Bong Pineda, alleged jueteng lord. [ Read More ]

DISTURBING: Sen. Loren Legarda has raised questions that should prick the conscience — if any — of government.

She asked last Friday: “Who should the government tax more — Filipino senior citizens or the makers of foreign cigarette brands? Whose interest should the government protect more?”. [ Read More ]

SAN FERNANDO — After electing a priest for governor, Capampangans are now dismayed seeing him held in check by some of the politicians holding court in the capitolio and the outlying towns. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD — Members of the Old Boys club in the House normally protect one another, or at least maintain a hands-off no-comment attitude when one of them gets into trouble. [ Read More ]

FREE FALL: I had a friend who wanted to set a record on how much gasoline he would be able to save on a Baguio-Manila run and prove to us that his trusted Beetle was the most economical car round. [ Read More ]

CLIMATE CRISIS: Former US vice president Al Gore warned upon receiving the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize that global warming “is the greatest challenge we’ve ever faced.” The climate crisis, he said, is not a political issue, but “a moral and spiritual challenge to all.” [ Read More ]

IF I WERE HIM: I am not a priest, nor a politician, and I certainly do not know how priest-turned-governor Ed Panlilio of Pampanga thinks. [ Read More ]

OVERPRICED FUEL: Some civic groups filed graft charges last Friday against officials of the National Power Corp. for allegedly delaying and overpricing coal purchases, thereby contributing to the rise of electricity rates. [ Read More ]

HERD VIRUS: It has become politically expedient to run with the herd in the direction pointed by the major media as they forage for headlines. [ Read More ]

WHAT WAS IT?: The Ayalas have to protect their name and business. We understand that. But they should be more forthcoming in their handling of the Oct. 19 blast at their Glorietta-2 mall in Makati that claimed 11 lives and injured more than 100 persons. [ Read More ]

HILARIOUS: Manong Ernie Maceda, one of the most astute politicians in captivity north of the Pasig, has not lost his sense of humor. [ Read More ]

ALTERED ART: An artists’ group is complaining that the 8-ft x 32-ft mural that the National Press Club commissioned it to paint on the history of press freedom in the Philippines had been violated while at the club premises in Intramuros. [ Read More ]

EARLY TRAINING: Election lawyer Romulo B. Macalintal’s suggestion that we abolish barangay (village) and sangguniang kabataan (youth council) elections and just add one or two councilors to the usual number with duties to look after barangay affairs, is sound. [ Read More ]

October 2007

FUTILE?: More than half of the email received directly by Postscript on the pardoning of convicted former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada expressed dismay, anger, objection and such negative reactions. [ Read More ]

INDECENT HASTE: To most people familiar with how Filipino politicians operate, President Gloria Arroyo’s eventually pardoning her predecessor Joseph “Erap” Estrada was a foregone conclusion. [ Read More ]

QUIET LANG MUNA: Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and his senator son Jinggoy are spoiling the chances of Erap’s getting an early pardon by noisily taking potshots at the Sandiganbayan and the justice system. [ Read More ]

LET’S WAIT: It is the height of irresponsibility for anyone to suggest this early that the Arroyo administration was behind the Glorietta-2 explosion in Makati last Friday or — the opposite — that Malacanang had nothing to do with it. [ Read More ]

MORAL VACUUM: Unless President Gloria Arroyo is able to take immediately the moral high ground, she might just continue sliding downhill all the way to the cliff by 2010. [ Read More ]

QUESTIONS: We were saying last time that if we discerned the motives of those involved in the NBN/ZTE scandal, we would start to understand what went on. [ Read More ]

FEDERALISM: Somebody should tell President Gloria Arroyo that nobody seems to be listening anymore.

In a speech at a Manila workshop yesterday on building human rights institutions in Asia, the President announced her creating a panel to draft a “roadmap to federalism by 2012” – presumably another way of pressing “Charter Change” within her term. [ Read More ]

MOTIVES: The venerable Jose Bautista, our editor in the pre-martial rule Manila Times, used to nag us reporters working on police/crime stories to spend time digging out the motives of the characters involved. [ Read More ]

USUAL CHISMIS: My friends have texted me that my circle in Manila is abuzz with chismis that I have also undergone a major kidney operation like my late publisher Max Soliven, blah-blah. [ Read More ]

LOBBY AT WORK: Too many Filipinos suffer or die just because they cannot afford to buy good medicine. Senate Bill No. 1658 seeking to provide quality and affordable drugs to the public has been sponsored by Sen. Mar Roxas to correct that. [ Read More ]

CONFUSION: There is something grievously wrong when VIP complainants now go to the Senate, not to the regular courts, to prosecute their enemies and ventilate grievances. [ Read More ]

HOT MEAT: Even after President Gloria Arroyo decided — with the nod of her counterpart in Beijing — to scrap the National Broadband Network project, do not expect the bulldogs in the Senate to let go of the hot meat in their mouth. [ Read More ]

CONSCIENCE?: As Tagalogs would say, “maghahalo ang balat sa tinalupan” (will somebody please suggest an English translation?) when the House of Representatives takes up the impeachment complaint against Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos. [ Read More ]

September 2007

GOING HI-TECH: From Consumer Reports, arguably the bible of American car-owners, we gleaned this e-report (edited to fit our space) on the latest high-tech features of some automobiles in the United States: [ Read More ]

WAS HE TOLD?: Hearing former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada talk about a presidential pardon being offered to him, one wonders if he has been fully briefed by his lawyers and the emissaries of President Gloria Arroyo. [ Read More ]

HURDLES: The Constitution and the calendar are among the biggest obstacles to Malacanang’s game of stampeding former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada into swallowing his macho pride and asking for plenary pardon. [ Read More ]

MAIN FOCUS: The Senate hearing in aid of legislation on the $330-million National Broadband Network project has been traipsing around it, focusing on middlemen and fixers but hardly on its basic features. [ Read More ]

HARPING ON IT: It is irresponsible for high officials to keep badgering Malacanang to pardon former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada at this time when his conviction for plunder is still fresh in the public mind. [ Read More ]

QUESTIONS: Before the subject grows cold, I want to gather various questions often asked me about the plunder trial and conviction of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and offer simple answers. [ Read More ]

HAUGHTY: In its telecast last Wednesday, ABS-CBN showed my picture as the Federico Pascual of the Government Service Insurance System who bought P1.1 billion worth of shares in a gambling firm in 1999 and helped former President Joseph Estrada collect a commission of P189,700,000. [ Read More ]

POWER PLAY: So former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada was convicted yesterday of plunder and sentenced to life in prison by the Sandiganbayan after a six-year trial. [ Read More ]

NOT RELATED: One line being suggested to the unwary public is that Malacanang is pressuring the Sandiganbayan to convict former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada because his acquittal will show kuno the illegitimacy of the Arroyo presidency. [ Read More ]

DOBLE HEARSAY: That was Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s apt description of statements made by former T/Sgt. Vidal Doble at the opening of the Senate investigation last Friday into the old “Hello Garci” controversy. [ Read More ]

QUICKSAND: The more Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos wiggles, the deeper he sinks in the quicksand of his evasive responses to questions about the $329-million ZTE Corp. deal for a nationwide broadband network for the government. [ Read More ]

STARTING ANEW: Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes says that he has been given “very urgent” instructions by the President to lead several agencies in drafting a 20-year energy development program. [ Read More ]

BASES DEBATE: With the connivance of the Philippine government, I said last Thursday, the United States is using semantics to explain its growing military presence in Mindanao. [ Read More ]

August 2007

INQUISITION: Our senators know that their former colleague Kit Tatad was right when he said they cannot legally subject the President, a co-equal of the Congress, to another inquisition in the guise of an inquiry in aid of legislation. [ Read More ]

NILAKAD?: As they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Yes, even if it’s just cigarette smoke.

At the Bureau of Internal Revenue, whose personnel are being whipped to collect more taxes, insiders are grousing over the alleged influence peddling of the father of a big finance official to lower the taxes on a cigarette manufacturer. [ Read More ]

JUS SOLI: There is this fascinating argument that — oversimplified here — persons born in the Philippines when the islands were still United States territory (1898-1946) are Americans under the principle of jus soli (Latin for “right of the soil”). [ Read More ]

A DUD: The pieces of paper that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. brought to the Sandiganbayan last Tuesday to prove his late father’s claimed business ties with tycoon Lucio Tan turned out to be unauthenticated copies of missing documents. [ Read More ]

HOT PURSUIT: Marines’ killing 42 terrorists while losing 15 men, including five officers just graduated from the Philippine Military Academy, in a fierce firefight with the Abu Sayyaf is not the kind of news one relishes on a Sunday, or any other day. [ Read More ]

VFA BOMB: The administration should sort out immediately the actual status of American GIs in Muslim Mindanao before one of them is shot dead while supposedly advising Filipino troops or monitoring their intelligence and combat performance. [ Read More ]

AMNESTY BID: Amnesty for former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada?

As pointed out elsewhere, a problem here is that Mr. Estrada’s alleged plunder is not a political offense. It is a heinous crime. [ Read More ]

SCATTERGUN: The unusual haste with which the second division of the Commission on Elections gave due course to a scattergun protest against the election of Fr. Ed Panlilio as Pampanga governor is suspicious. [ Read More ]

HIT BACK/ HOLD BACK: Peace advocates in Mindanao and abroad are urging the government to suspend military offensives against Moro extremists on Sulu island to enable, they say, an international group to find out what really happened. [ Read More ]

BIG LIE: For two decades, the Marcoses did their darned best to conceal their vast wealth worldwide, peddling the lie that they had no valuable property hidden in violation of law and decency. [ Read More ]

CALACA NEXT: Buoyed by the recent sale of the 600-megawatt Masinloc plant in Zambales, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) has announced that 17 investor groups have expressed interest in the 600-mw Calaca coal power plant. [ Read More ]

SETTLEMENT: Colleague Boo Chanco asked last Friday in his “Demand and Supply” column if there was a done deal na between President Gloria Arroyo and the Marcoses in light of their confident claims of ownership over assets of some big businessmen. [ Read More ]

GIANT DEAL: Some critical details of the bidding for the multibillion-peso contract to operate the North Harbor in Manila are reportedly kept away from the public, and even to some bidders, despite avowals of transparency. [ Read More ]

July 2007

ORDEAL: Filipinos traveling to the United States better think twice before they fly Northwest Airlines.

Take it from me. I had a fully paid, confirmed, seat-already-assigned ticket on two connected Northwest flights for July 28: NW 334 from Los Angeles to Detroit and NW 472 from Detroit to my final destination Newark. [ Read More ]

NAMING GAME: They say that one way of ensuring government support for a project, especially big ticket infrastructure, is to name it after somebody dear to the President. I don’t know if the trick works, but I won’t be surprised if it does. [ Read More ]

SOCIETY COLUMN: Many segments of the State of the Nation Address of President Gloria Arroyo last Monday read like a Society Page column. [ Read More ]

SONA CHECKLIST: The State of the Nation Address of President Gloria Arroyo yesterday turned out to be mostly an update of her SONA 2006 as summarized in our Postscript last Sunday. [ Read More ]

REPORT CARD: By its name alone, the State of the Nation Address of President Gloria Arroyo tomorrow must be a report on the true situation of the Republic. [ Read More ]

ONG BID: Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong filed last July 9 a petition in the Regional Trial Court of Pasig to “correct” his birth certificate to show that he was a natural-born citizen and therefore qualified to be a member of the judiciary. [ Read More ]

CASE STUDIES: We have a three-year-old law, RA 9262, protecting the interests of battered wives and their children and giving substance to the equality of the sexes. Well and good. [ Read More ]

WOW!: Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio collected in his first two weeks in office an average of P1 million DAILY in quarrying fees — against a measly P30 million reported for the entire past YEAR by his predecessor. [ Read More ]

REJOINDER: Lawyer Rene Saguisag disputed my observation that his client Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory S. Ong is not qualified to serve as Supreme Court justice because he is not a natural-born citizen as required by the Constitution and several laws. [ Read More ]

LESSON LEARNED: As an offshoot of the Supreme Court’s declaring would-be SC justice Gregory S. Ong not a natural-born citizen, the Judicial and Bar Council now requires applicants to the High Court to submit documentary proof of their citizenship. [ Read More ]

LAY MISSION: Pope Benedict XVI exhorted Christians in a message last Thursday to fight political and economic corruption in their communities. [ Read More ]

DOTING DAD: Being a father myself, I understand the concern of government officials going out of their way to shield their children in the bureaucracy from heavy criticism or the spectre of electoral defeat. [ Read More ]

MIGZ’S FATE: If Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos and the parents of senatorial candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri want to discuss his precarious position in the winning column, they would not do it in a Makati hotel crawling with people. [ Read More ]

SAN FERNANDO CITY — By the grace of Apung Guinu and the mandate of his cabalen, priest-turned-politician Ed Panlilio took over yesterday the heavy responsibility of being governor of Pampanga. [ Read More ]

June 2007

REFERENCE POINT: A debate is raging over Section 8 of the Party-List System Act (RA 7941) which bars certain candidates being nominated by Party-List groups for sectoral congressional seats. [ Read More ]

PRO OR CON?: By its name, the National Association for Electricity Consumers for Reforms purports to be pro-consumers. But by its acts, Nasecore appears to be a runner of the mafia lording it over the National Power Corp. and making life miserable for electricity users. [ Read More ]

UNKIND CUT: It was unkind of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to spray the Bataan police with the scattergun charge that they helped “lawless elements” in harassing voters, leading to the defeat of his daughter running for Congress. [ Read More ]

AKAY-AKAY: When we amateur political analysts meet over coffee and presume to dispense opinion on the last elections, one question invariably asked is why the son of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza lost in his bid to take over his father’s seat. [ Read More ]

LION’S SHARE: Since the Presidential Commission on Good Government is a creature of the President and its nominees to the board of sequestered companies are executive agents, any misconduct in their adopted firms would be laid at the door of Malacañang. [ Read More ]

GMA MISLED?: The shabby treatment of Internal Revenue Commissioner Jose Mario Buñag must stop if President Gloria Arroyo is to erase the impression that she is losing control of her administration. [ Read More ]

LOPSIDED: Is Transportation Undersecretary Edward Harun Pagunsan a Filipino? Some air industry sectors are asking because whenever he heads the Philippine panel in bilateral air talks, something seems to give. [ Read More ]

EPIRA LAGS: The Electricity and Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) was enacted in 2001 to create a healthy atmosphere in the energy sector with the privatization of assets of the National Power Corp. by at least 70 percent so competition could set in. [ Read More ]

NO QUORUM: The failure of the House of Representatives to pass its version of the Cheaper Medicine Bill — for lack of quorum — does not speak well of the expensive (to taxpayers) leadership of Speaker Jose de Venecia. [ Read More ]

SORE LOSERS: By right, the dominant parties have official copies of the election returns detailing the votes that the candidates got in the May 14 elections. [ Read More ]

WHINING: Now that the Court of Appeals has shot down interference in the compromise agreement between the Philippine National Construction Corp. and Radstock Securities Ltd., expect the losing parties to go whining to the Supreme Court. [ Read More ]

STORM BLOWING: A legal typhoon continues to batter the pontifical University of Santo Tomas, the howler’s tailwinds threatening to shake the rafters of the Dominican Order in Rome, if not the Vatican itself. [ Read More ]

May 2007

STEREOTYPE: Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap wants a radical change in the stereotype image of the gaunt, barefoot Filipino farmer by replicating the success stories of model farmers who have become highly profitable businessmen. [ Read More ]

GOOD NEWS: After nearly half a century, the Philippines finally unshackled itself this year from the International Monetary Fund by fully repaying the debt it has accumulated over the decades with the multilateral financial institution. [ Read More ]

BUSINESS FORUM: Central Bank Gov. Amando M. Tetangco Jr. will host on May 29 the first Business Forum of the Capampangan in Media Inc. He is expected to discuss the evolving economic scenario that has the Philippines finally shaking off IMF control by fully paying its debts accumulated over the decades; the steady buildup of our foreign exchange reserves; the appreciation of the peso’s value vis-à-vis the US dollar; and the taming of inflation despite the rise in the world price of crude oil. [ Read More ]

LE DELUGE: Here comes the bitter part of the election rigmarole. As always, soon after the votes are cast, the campaign promises and declarations of noble intentions of politicians are promptly forgotten. [ Read More ]

PRIEST FOREVER: Some people seem to be still confused about some basic facts surrounding Fr. Ed Panlilio’s candidacy and proclamation as duly elected governor of Pampanga. [ Read More ]

FAITH WINS: Considering the obstacles along the way, the slim 1,147-vote final lead posted by Fr. Ed Panililo over Bong Pineda’s wife Lilia in the battle for the Pampanga governorship was actually a monumental margin. [ Read More ]

PAGING GMA: President Gloria Arroyo should call down key political leaders of all parties in her native Pampanga and tell them not to tamper with the people’s will as expressed in the May 14 polls. [ Read More ]

MAYORALTY vs MAYORAL: Pardon my leading off with this note on usage. With election reports bombarding us, if I cannot get this off my chest now, I would go to pieces. [ Read More ]

NO REST: Today, mercifully a day of rest, is the lull before the electoral storm.

By law, all campaigning must have stopped by today — although by practice it actually does not. In fact, the final orders for the darkest of evil plots are generally given today. The Devil never rests. [ Read More ]

MAYORS AT WORK: The Genuine Opposition must be having nightmares seeing 267 town and city mayors running virtually unopposed across the country under the Team Unity banner. [ Read More ]

CONDITIONING: There is a basic, and dangerous, flaw in the way some people regard the cases of Makati Mayor Jojo Binay over his handling of public funds and possible suspension. [ Read More ]

BLACKPROP: Some crude attempts at black propaganda can be so clumsy that they fall flat with a thud.

In General Santos City, people could not believe it when boxing champ Manny Pacquiao announced out of the blue that Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, his rival for the first congressional seat, had paid somebody P20 million to kill him. [ Read More ]

PRICE RISING: With everybody engrossed with the national sport — politics — is there still somebody in government attending to food security? [ Read More ]

SETTLEMENT: After 26 long years, the Philippine National Construction Corp. is finally settling an old debt incurred by its predecessor Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines. [ Read More ]

April 2007

GRAVE ABUSE: Arrogance of power, best exemplified by the public extra-judicial execution of opposition leader Ninoy Aquino in August 1983, led to the rapid collapse of the Marcos dictatorship. [ Read More ]

ANGELES CITY — Residents of this chartered city do not vote for a governor, but many of them are going all-out anyway for a Catholic priest running for Pampanga’s top elective post. [ Read More ]

PREDICTABLE: We have an unchanging calendar and regularly recurring seasons. Despite global warming, science has seen to it that the weather — even microweather for a small space-time frame — is predictable. [ Read More ]

TAGBILARAN CITY — The upbeat mood sweeping Boholanos best explains the shifting public perception nationwide with regard to President Gloria Arroyo halfway through her six-year term. [ Read More ]

FREE-FOR-ALL: Instead of, or in addition to, the Commission on Elections ordering political parties to explain themselves, the Comelec should be ordered by the Supreme Court to explain why it allowed Party-List groups to proliferate like weeds. [ Read More ]

UNBEATABLE SONNY: Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte is running for reelection — for his third and last term — virtually unopposed. Four other supposed candidates do not register in the public mind. [ Read More ]

CEBU CITY — An observation from reader Alfredo Calayag reacting to a discourse of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno (quoted in Postscript ) on the tension between basic human freedoms and national security: [ Read More ]

FEW ATMs: Our mention of the Government Service Insurance System now paying its pensioners via Automated Teller Machines instead of by checks mailed to them elicited enough retort that could keep the GSIS sleepless in the next six months plugging the holes in its system. [ Read More ]

SWS REPLACED: A big news in the market information industry is the dropping of the Social Weather Stations by the giant ABS-CBN network as its partner in conducting surveys and exit polls for the May elections. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD — Why should God’s children be reduced to choosing the lesser of two evils in the coming May elections?

This question bothers Capampangans as they examine gubernatorial candidates identified (one) with illegal sand/lahar quarrying and (another) with the illegal numbers game of jueteng. [ Read More ]

BALANCING ACT: Can we Filipinos live with the possibility that we could end up sacrificing basic human rights — such as the right to life, speech and liberty — at the altar of anti-terrorism? [ Read More ]

REVIEW OF TROOPS: Former Lakas-CMD secretary-general Migz Zubiri likened yesterday’s mammoth convention of the country’s biggest political party at the Folk Arts Theater to a “parade and review of troops on the eve of a battle.” [ Read More ]

TIME OUT: Worried members of the Genuine Opposition are praying that the Lenten break might just be a “pause that refreshes” for their coalition that is reportedly wracked by intramurals at the top. [ Read More ]

March 2007

SIMPLE REASON: So businessman-philanthropist Mark “MJ” Jimenez is not running for Manila mayor after all. How come?

The reason is simple: He never planned to run for mayor in the first place. [ Read More ]

ANOTHER ONE: Justice Elvi John Asuncion was the second member of the Court of Appeals to be fired by the Supreme Court. He was sacked for, of all things, ignorance of the law! [ Read More ]

‘BOTONG PINOY’ — Days ago, I witnessed a demonstration of how nationwide elections could be automated, how the counting and tabulating could be made faster and cheating thereby minimized — at practically no additional cost to the government. [ Read More ]

TAMA NA!:

Congressman Satur Ocampo, who is being roughed up by the administration, is a member of the Capampangan in Media Inc., an organization of professional print and broadcast journalists with roots in the bloodied fields of Pampanga. [ Read More ]

CONJUGAL JUSTICE: The Court of Appeals, the second highest tribunal in the land, is itself on trial.

Disturbed by reports of creeping corruption at the appellate court, Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno summoned last week the CA justices to a private scolding. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD: – Is the United States intervening in the internal affairs of another sovereign state when a committee of the US Congress inquires into so-called extrajudicial killings in the Philippines? [ Read More ]

FOREX GAINS: Now and then, the Arroyo administration mentions the sudden profitability of the National Power Corp. and a recent electricity rate reduction as major economic achievements ushering in the good life. [ Read More ]

COMELEC BURNS: I was at the PhilSTAR office in Intramuros when the Commission on Elections building burned before dawn the other day. The wild flames leaping in the dark sky immediately told me it was not a bonfire gone awry but a conflagration. [ Read More ]

SNEAKY PRESENCE: President Gloria Arroyo the commander-in-chief should order an immediate stop to all military operations in Metro Manila, under whatever guise they have been sneaked into the populous capital. [ Read More ]

TOP FIVE: The past two weeks, I have been talking to kung sinu-sino, but mostly to media men and assorted observers returning to Manila from the campaign trail, to get their field assessment. [ Read More ]

NOYNOY’S VOTES: In the senatorial race this May, all votes for “Aquino” must be counted for Tarlac Rep. Noynoy Aquino who is running with the opposition ticket. [ Read More ]

DISMAL PREVIEW: Just three weeks into the election season, the campaign engine of the Genuine Opposition (GO) appears to be sputtering already. Wrong spare parts installed? Lack of fuel? No road map? Bad driving? [ Read More ]

REJOINDER: For lack of space last Tuesday, I deferred commenting on a letter of a reader from Lanao defending a National Power Corp. contract with the Lanao Hydroelectric Development Corp. to market electricity that its proposed Agus 3 power plant may generate. [ Read More ]

February 2007

LARA DERAILED: Mercifully, the bill being pushed in the Senate to abolish the Land Registration Administration and turn over to Malacanang its P2.5-billion yearly income was overtaken by the adjournment of the 13 th Congress. [ Read More ]

TAGAYTAY  — The stench of the botched $561-million Masinloc deal still hangs heavy in the air and here is the state-run National Power Corp. embarking on what looks like another highly questionable power transaction. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD – The whirlwind campaign the other day of President Gloria Arroyo in this her home ground confirmed the conventional wisdom that whoever she endorses for governor of Pampanga, the province still will go heavily for her senatorial team. [ Read More ]

COMPACT: If your Philippine STAR copy now feels handier and more compact, looking fresh and brighter, it is because of changes in form and content quietly introduced by management. [ Read More ]

LAST CHANCE: Has it not occurred to Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos that while the May elections are a big challenge, they are also an opportunity for him to finally redeem his name and that of the Commission on Elections? [ Read More ]

SAD REALITY: Here is an email whose message is so clear and so compelling that any reader whose mind has not been warped by partisan bias will be able to catch it. [ Read More ]

1-2 PUNCH: Judging from the lineups of administration and opposition candidates for the Senate, this early it looks like President Gloria Arroyo will see in the incoming Senate a carryover legislative problem. [ Read More ]

ITALIANS FUMING: The TERNA Group, the top Italian and the No. 2 European electricity transmission grid operator, must be irritated with the conduct of the third public bidding for the $3-billion National Transmission Corp. (Transco) privatization held Feb. 5. [ Read More ]

PARTY CONFUSION: When asked, many of us cannot tell the political party to which this or that government official belongs.

For the information of readers, we journalists should properly tag senators, congressmen and other elective officials as to their party affiliation. But I often don’t. Because I usually can’t. [ Read More ]

CALIBRATED GAME: Why release Moro leader Nur Misuari — now residing in a private house while facing rebellion charges — without bail or any third-party guarantee? [ Read More ]

WORMS: Here is another can of worms in the National Power Corp. The state firm has agreed to act as a marketing agent of a private power generation company and to receive commissions for it — in violation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira). [ Read More ]

UNO SLATE: Now that the United Opposition has revealed its tentative 12-strong senatorial slate, let the administration announce its own team. So the May Games can begin. [ Read More ]

January 2007

END-GAME: The biggest problem of President Gloria Arroyo is how to devise an enforceable exit strategy.

She cannot be president for life. Per the Constitution under which she was elected in 2004, she will have to leave Malacanang in 2010 — assuming there are no disruptive events that would advance or delay her exit. [ Read More ]

PRESSURE FAILED: In choosing the five nominees for the vacant seat in the Supreme Court, the Judicial and Bar Council chaired by Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno rose above itself, and dispelled for the moment the impression that it is a Malacanang rubber stamp. [ Read More ]

ERROR: A principled disagreement over the dynastic dream of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada to install another son, J. V. Ejercito, in the Senate has sent former senator Francisco S. Tatad distancing himself from the United Opposition chairman emeritus. [ Read More ]

BOOM YEARS: Despite the poor showing of agriculture in the 4th quarter of last year — pulling down the overall performance of the economy — Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap is brimming with optimism that 2007, as well as 2008, will be “boom years.” [ Read More ]

INSIDE DOPE: The Judicial and Bar Council interviewed last Friday three applicants for the Supreme Court seat vacated by then Associate Justice Reynato Puno when he was appointed Chief Justice. [ Read More ]

LRA RAIDERS: Is Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez aware that his department is being raided by another department maneuvering to take away its well-performing Land Registration Administration and its P2.4-billion annual earnings? [ Read More ]

SELLOUT: A number of lifetime members of the National Press Club are grieving over the removal and sale of the Manansala mural on press freedom dominating for half century the wall of the NPC bar and restaurant in Intramuros. [ Read More ]

ATTACK DOG: I learned belatedly that a business columnist of a major paper had attacked me for being “ungrateful” when I wrote last Nov. 2 about my brush with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo during President Gloria Arroyo’s last trip to China. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD — President Gloria Arroyo will have to come up fast with a Solomonic solution to forestall what could be a costly collision between her two cabalen: Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid and alleged jueteng lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda. [ Read More ]

THIS FOR REAL?: It will be interesting watching former justice secretary Hernando “Nani” Perez squirm out of the extortion-robbery charges that the Office of the Ombudsman ordered yesterday to be filed against him. [ Read More ]

VILLA ESCUDERO, Laguna – I’m in this nature resort with my high school classmates (Holy Angel University HS ’56), many of whom are balikbayan caught in the excitement of our extended 50th anniversary homecoming. [ Read More ]

TWO-WAY GAME: The guessing game now is on what pressure was exerted by the United States government on President Gloria Arroyo to force her to move an American rapist from Jojo Binay’s closet to the comfort of the US embassy. [ Read More ]

FUMBLE: Since her legitimacy as president was questioned in 2004, the harassed wife of Jose Miguel Arroyo seems to be losing her presidential poise. [ Read More ]

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