THERE WERE just 10 hours left to 2006, and practically everyone around the country was preparing to welcome the New Year. But in Lubao, Pampanga — the hometown of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — more than 7,000 leaders and residents of nearby Porac were busy preparing for a showdown to take place in May 2007. And when the main speaker finally took to the stage at the rally held at the Lubao gym, he turned out to be Rodolfo ‘Bong’ Pineda, who may have spent the last two decades dodging the public eye, but is nevertheless acknowledged to be a major political kingmaker.
THERE ARE virtually no farms in Las Piñas, Parañaque, Quezon City and certainly not in Makati. Yet these overbuilt and densely-populated cities were among at least 100 congressional districts that, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), needed P1.8 billion in farm inputs and implements in February 2004, just when the presidential campaign was kicking off.
FROM overpriced highways to secret bank accounts, to gambling lords and thoroughbred horses, controversies have hounded the Arroyo administration long before wiretapped conversations implying election fraud hogged the headlines. And it is not only the president who has more than once been asked to account for charges of improper behavior; so too have husband Mike, eldest child Mikey, and brother-in-law Ignacio Arroyo.