Pnoy and his SONA

I am not a Pnoy fan.  But of all the SONA’s I have heard, I like Pnoy’s better than most.  He has a “sidewalk” style but without the cussing and the brashness.  He weave’s a story as a premise of his argument then occasionally ends it with a joke, emphasizing his point.  He may use some punchlines but not to a point that it becomes corny and hypocritical.  Erap’s “Huwag ninyo akong subukan” is too pretentious and movie-punchline-like than “matuwid na daan” (well, ok the last one can be hypocritical).

SONA 2015 was no different.  If at all, it was even better.  He starts with the pits and falls of the past admin, as he almost always does.  But hey, we need to be constantly reminded of this.  We tend to be very forgiving and we seem to treat feelings of grudge as some immature thing and that one must “move on” or “grow-up”.  In this case, Pnoy feels that he needs to remind everyone of where we were before he came along.  Early on in his presidency, I thought that his penchant for recalling the past admin’s mistakes was one way of setting himself a good excuse in case he doesn’t achieve much.

Much like how Erap remarked in his first SONA that “Bangkarote and gobyerno” and then arguing that he will be hard pressed to deliver on his promises.  This was an unjustifiable slap on FVR’s face and an indictment of Philippines 2000.

But for this SONA, Pnoy has a different purpose.  It was to show how far we’ve gone since 2010.  He wanted to tell a story.  He wanted to present his administration in a collage-type of theatrical presentation and highlights its achievements by putting it in contrast to her predecessor.  It was a swan song.  And a song it really was.  The drama, comedy and tragedy were all there.  And the denoument would probably be when the TV screen was divided into three panels:  Binay, Poe, Mar.  (The thank yous and acknowledgements were the closing credits.)

I must say though, that he missed a few items in his speech that should have been included or even emphasized particularly the Mamasapano massacre and the DAP controversy.

The former, I wanted him to present a more human tone in sympathy to the families who lost so much.  It was a perfect opportunity for him to somehow “atone” for his responsibility without necessarily saying it was all his fault.

The latter (DAP controversy), I wanted him to put it into context.  The DAP issue was not about funds being pocketed ‘ala Napoles’ PDAF.  It was about certain funds previously earmarked for certain operational budget items of certain departments diverted directly to be used for projects.  It was creative accounting.  Was it pocketed?  Some may have been misused much in the same way as PDAF was fully utilised by some and pocketed by others.  In other words, the DAP freed up capital to be used for even more projects.  Now, how those projects were implemented by the eventual recipients say DPWH or  LGU, was something that should be treated separately from the DAP.

There may be more that he could have covered in his speech but for me, only those two i previously mentioned stood out as “no-shows”.

im a sucker for dramatic speeches.  This was no exception.  I cant help but agree with him when he said something about whether in 2010 we could have thought that we could have reached this level of growth.  Yes, one might agree that it has not trickled down to the lower wrung of the community.  But hey, we need to have the businesses flourish first to provide more jobs and create even more business opportunities for a greater number.  That’s when inclusive growth can be achieved.  All the more some reforms need to be sustained and some still need to be achieved beyond 2016.  And if only because of that, this speech has gathered some dramatic intonations.

To conclude, I rate SONA 2015 a 2.25.  And so does Pnoy’s admin.  (just as a reference, i rated GMA a 3.0, Erap a 4.0)



Among the probable presidentiables, it’s probably Sen. Grace Poe who has the biggest dilemna.  To run or not to run, for what position and with whom?

As the surveys have shown, she’s leading.  If we have the elections tomorrow, she’d win.  However, we still have months to go before election time and barely 3 months to go before the filing of COC.  This means, she has a short time to decide and think things through but a long time to go either further up or further down.  And by the looks of things, it’s more likely that she’d be pulled down.  Why?  Let me enumerate:

1.  Track Record.  ‘nuf said.  Of course one can argue that Cory Aquino was just a plain housewife when she ran and won against Marcos.  Different time.  For one, Marcos and his record was the only enemy and the only issue at that time.  The stars have aligned for Cory primarily because of the people’s desperation to get rid of Marcos.  Two, she was percieved to be everything Marcos was not.  Pnoy, although having a similarly mediocre track record, was benefited with the passing of Cory who still has a mass following.  And let’s not forget the legacy that his father, Ninoy, had left to scores of Filipino consciousness.  Rightfully or otherwise, those factors got Pnoy the votes.

Grace Poe is no doubt intellectually endowed.  She’s an alumnus of UP Manila and Boston University.  And it stops there.  Her only public service record was her stint in the MTRCB, a token appointment where she can never go wrong whether or not she does anything.  Her stint in the Senate was only given notice in her handling of the Mamasapano massacre probe.  Which, for all intents and purposes, was an easy stand given the clear fiasco of the operation.  In fairness, she handled it objectively and seem to spare no one, not even Pnoy himself.  But still, the issues were clear cut and the emotional factor of the country favoured the indictment of the president’s handling–a lack of coordination and the insistence of Pnoy to tap an operationally-challenged suspended PNP chief.

One can argue that she’s the daughter of the presumed winner of the 2004 presidential elections, action-king FPJ.  But who cares?  FPJ was not known as a political leader who was known to have fought for any socio-political issue prior to his run.  He died in a gathering of friends while having a few bottles of beer and not on the streets fighting for something or on any political platform that would endear him to his constituencies.  He was cheated in the elections and soon after he passed.  Both events have little or no relation to each other.  Raul Roco would have had a better “emotional” impact during his own death.

2.  Citizenship Issue.  This makes her vulnerable to legal attacks.  The merits of the law may favour her in the end but one thing is a fact, she turned her back on her country by pledging allegiance to another.  That may be legal but to many Filipinos, it doesn’t sound well that their president (if she runs and wins) was once a non-Filipino.

3.  Chiz Escudero.  There’s a term I heard in one of the AM radio programs that describes him.  Political Photobomber.  Although he has a better than average track record in Congress and Senate, it is still lacking in substance that one can say that he enabled game-changing legislation to benefit a cross section of society.  Binay has Makati, Duterte has Davao, Mar has the Cheaper Medicines Act, while Escudero has Heart–but even that has its own bad publicity.  And of course, he’s a good speaker.  I used to like it how he presents his arguments by saying one thing and contradicting it with another and concludes with a rebuttal.  But it’s gotten trite and corny.  And also, check out his wedding sponsors.  Ongpin, Ramon Ang, etc.  Would he be crossing horns with them if and when the time comes for him to pick a side between them, his ninongs, and his people?  2nd Poorest Senator wed in Balesin.  Bigyan ng jacket ‘yan.

So what am I saying?  Whatever Grace Poe decides, it is hoped that she has the interest of the country in mind.  Not her ambition or not just her deep yearning to vindicate her father’s memory.  She should be discerning enough to listen to advises that matter and shun those that are lined with vested interest of the advise-giver.  Great powers come great responsibility, as has been said.  Her lead in the survey and her position in government, among other things, have endowed her with great powers over our people and our nation, may she not drop the ball but instead further distinguish herself as a new  breed of truly non-trapo, independent and integrable leader.

Postscript:  If she runs for president with Chiz, then it’s Chiz who would have the easiest run in 2016!

Du30 Phenomenon

The emergence of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as a viable presidential contender speaks volumes of the people’s desperation over the increasing incidence of unsolved crimes all over the country.  This also highlights the failure of the government as an institution to address the peace and order (or lack of it) issue all over the country.  In fairness to the current Pnoy administration, these pent up emotions did not just build up recently.  This has continuously built up over different presidents since the Cory administration.

The Marcos regime has to be separated since after his ouster, the country and its people went into a “reset” mode.  The majority of the Filipinos gave themselves some respite from the problems during the Marcos administration and have set themselves new expectations with the restoration of democracy in the country.

With Duterte’s personality and his track record in Davao City, the people see in him a movie-style hero out to seek vigilante justice for everyone.  Think of him as Stingray.  The character Nick Mancuso played in the 80’s movie series of the same name. Google it.

Now the questions is, is Duterte the answer to this straight-to-the-gut issue of crime prevalence in our society?  Keep in mind that peace and order is only one facet that needs attention.  We have issues of poverty, joblessness, corruption, deteriorating social services etc as legitimate issues that demand equal attention as peace and order.  One can say that they are interrelated.  Yes, it may be, but only up to a certain extent.  Solving crime cannot directly solve all the other problems.  But surely it can enable other societal actions to work to solve other issues.  But that’s just it.  It is just one spoke of a wheel of governance.

Also, being president only rules over one branch of government—the executive.  For crime fighting to be a success, it is not enough that we have a professional police organization.  We need an effective justice system.  For what use is it that our police round up criminals only to be released by corrupt prosecutors and judges hiding under the cloak of giving “due process” to the innocent until they are proven guilty.

And with the size of the bureaucracy, I doubt it that Duterte will be able to fully professionalize our police organization which serves thousands of LGUs most having chief executives with warlord-like mentalities.

With all these arguments on crime fighting, we haven’t even touched on the corruption in the different levels of government in ALL of its three branches!  Case in point, will a Duterte cause the “elimination” of politicians involved in graft and corruption?  Going by his standards, Binay, Enrile, Jinggoy, and Bong shall all have been 6 ft under by now.

So what’s my point?

For Duterte to fully take advantage of this phenomenon he has gained, he has to evolve from a one dimensional character in the presidential saga to a multi-faceted personality able to balance his macho, brusque, vigilante-type leader with insights that would define his stance on issues on job creation, foreign relations, commerce and reform.  This would further enrich the coming presidential derby thereby giving a more inclusive debate of issues from different levels of society.  Ultimately, the people, all of us voters and the future generation, will be the better for it.

Junjun Binay Steps Out of City Hall, He Has To.

It’s like de ja vu.  But the outcome is different.  The Binay camp’s strategy remains the same.  Man the fort, surround with supporters (paid or otherwise), brief the press of the oppression, file TRO.

The DILG has learned their lesson.  While before the PNP escorted the suspension order server to the Makati City Hall, this time the PNP went ahead to secure the premises first in preparation for the coming of the server the day after.

VP Binay, upon seeing this and realising that the PNP can choke out their supporters, decided to be part of the mob himself.  Wearing a red cap (fashion statement), confronted the police operatives assigned.  In a bold move, akin to an action-drama movie (FPJ’s perhaps?  Probably not, Height issues) lashes out at the police operatives with matching fingerpointing and Liam Neeson-type dialogue.  It’s “I will find you.  Then I will kill you” of Liam Neeson to Binay’s “Kilala kita, Jamias. Magkalaban na tayo!”

So what gives?

The Binay camp, realizing the determination of the Ombudsman and the DILG to hit them with a suspension order after suspension order, had to face dire realities and respond accordingly.  They cannot afford a long stand-off.

First, their accounts are frozen.  And anyone whom they wish to tap for funding are having second thoughts or, just like a status update in Facebook, having an “it’s complicated” scheme to ferret funds out.  AMLC is watching.

Second, Binay has quit his post and has morphed into a seemingly rabid dog against Pnoy and his admin.  His pull is not as strong as it where when he was in the cabinet.  The previous suspension order may have been stalled partly due to his being in a cabinet position who can have a wide ranging and far reaching clout with the other institutions of government.

Third, his survey ratings have gone down.  He has become vulnerable to compromises here and there and his stock is not as fearsome as it used to be.  While before, some bureaucrat may tow Binay’s line for fear of reprisal when he becomes president, now the “when” has been relegated to “if ever”.  A notch down, and it seems, it may go down even more.

Fourth, they have a party brewing later that afternoon!  It’s the coming out party of UNA in his bailiwick!  How would it look like if in the orgy of a party, they lacked the “boom” of an Erap attendance, the absence of a “bam” of a JPE resilience, and a “wambam” of a Jinggoy-presumptive-VP-sana-candidacy!  Instead of a concentrated emotional hub and PR drama in the launching, they would have to pan two cameras; one in city hall, somber, sad, melodramatic and the other in the UNA launch which is supposedly festive, fiery and defiant.  Production nightmare!  And Tiangco is too dishevelled (literally and figuratively) to help, and JV Bautista, well, needs a shave.

So in order to make this setback work for them, JunB has to step out, attend the otherwise scant party and milk the emotional me-against-the-world drama to the hilt and hopefully, just hopefully, live to boodle fight another day.

It’s more fun in the Philippines.  Even more so in Makati!