IF HE were an ordinary ex-military man, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan would be taking it easy, preparing for what aging soldiers are supposed to do next: fade away. After all, he is just three years short of officially turning senior citizen, his hair is a salt-and-pepper gray, and the trim physique women used to swoon over is now just a memory.
FROM HIS 26th floor office in a Makati high-rise, former President Fidel Ramos can point to the reasons why there should not be another People Power.
To the west, one can see modern structures rising from the land reclaimed from the Manila Bay. On the other side are shanties of the poor of Makati.
TO DESTROY an institution like the Commission on Elections (Comelec), you must first fill it up with handpicked commissioners with questionable credentials and even more dubious impartiality. Then, let them run the constitutional body as if they were ruling over personal fiefdoms. This would then reduce middle-level bureaucrats to mere vassals doing — or forced to do — their every bidding, including perhaps, as the taped conversations involving President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano suggest, rigging the elections in their political benefactor’s favor.
UNTIL last month, the heavens seemed to have favored Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The economy was picking up, the stock market was trading briskly, and Congress had just passed a new tax measure. For sure, the budget deficit and rising oil prices were something to worry about. At the same time, the opposition seemed bent on raking the jueteng muck. But all these were part of life — and politics — as usual.
IN A country as crazy about music as the Philippines, it is not surprising that even politics has a soundtrack. Long before showbiz and media personalities dominated Philippine political life, music was already part of it, from the revolutionary songs that boosted the morale of the indios revolting against the Spaniards, to the different anthems Filipinos were made to sing before they were finally able to belt out “Lupang Hinirang” in public.
AT LEAST Panfilo Lacson tells it like it is — or how it could be. Elect him as president and we could probably expect someone like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, or Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra at the helm. All three are known for being, as the TV ad says, “buo ang loob, walang takot (determined, without fear),” traits that supposedly enabled them to steer their countries into becoming economic powerhouses. According to the ad, Lacson has the same traits as well, and its logic argues that these would enable him to do wonders for the Philippine economy, too.
IT WAS a slow Saturday, and so a middle-level editor thought nothing of working on a press release handed over by a senior editor and turning it into a readable news item. It appeared in the paper the next day, and that should have been that. But then the three government officials who were quoted in the piece complained to the newspaper’s editors, saying the writer of the press release had not interviewed them at all. They also said that they had not authorized the issuance of such a press release under their names. An internal investigation conducted by the paper’s management later revealed that a shadowy political PR person had been the source of the fictitious story. Apparently, the aim was to cast the winning bidder of a government contract in a bad light.
WHEN the U.S. Democratic Party primary season opened in January, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry hardly looked like someone who could be the party’s candidate in the U.S. presidential election this November. Although already a fourth-term senator, Kerry was being outshone by Vermont governor Howard Dean, who the media had all but proclaimed the Democrats’ presidential bet.
GEORGE TRIVIÑO, Ital-Thai’s Philippine representative, was livid when he found out that the company had begun negotiating the purchase of three reclaimed islands in Manila Bay without his knowledge.
SINCE THE nineteenth century, discreet brokers, many of them ethnic Chinese, have played a key but often invisible role in Philippine politics. Filipino officials have relied on such middlemen to make under-the-table arrangements away from the glare of public scrutiny.
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