Unmanly

METRO PHILIPPINES
Typography

(In our culture, when somebody is already down, you don’t kick him or her around anymore.) That Ms. Gloria Arroyo did a lot of bad things during her unlamented regime is a fact. That retribution is now upon her is also a fact. She is now down. In our culture, when somebody is already down, you don’t kick him or her around anymore.

It is most unkind, cruel even. Ungentlemanly. Unmanly. Unfortunately, we now have a president in the person of Noynoy Aquino who has been doing just that to Arroyo since he assumed the presidency more than four years ago. In front of foreign audiences too! That’s a no-no. It’s like washing your dirty linen in public. You don’t make yourself look good by making others look bad.

And that’s just what Noynoy did again in Brussels, Belgium! This time at least he did not mention the reported anomalies in the National Food Authority (NFA) during Arroyo’s time, something that he had been doing in his previous foreign trips. For fear, perhaps, he might be asked about the shenanigans in the NFA during his watch?

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Noynoy has been on his latest foreign trip to Spain, Belgium, France and Germany supposedly to attract investments and increase trade and commerce with the countries visited. In this day and age, anyone who wants to know what is happening in almost any country in the world can easily find out by simply logging on to google.com or other sources of information in the internet.

A leader no longer has to travel to foreign lands and unnecessarily spend tens of millions of pesos just to “sell” his country to investors and tourists. He does the selling by simply doing good at home. Makes one wonder how many houses for those poor people displaced in Zamboanga alone due to the MNLF’s siege last year could have been built with the P31.9 million cost of Noynoy’s current sojourn.

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If Noynoy is entertaining any notion that he is still hugely popular with his bosses, he should look again and see what happened to his budget secretary, Florencio Abad, last week in the University of the Philippines. Abad is the architect of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional and illegal.

DAP could not have been instituted without the approval of Noynoy. Abad spoke at a budget forum at the UP School of Economics. About one hundred angry students reportedly blocked the exits of the forum venue and tried to stop him from boarding his car. Amid boos, the students hurled insults, threw coins and crumpled paper at him and one of them even managed to grab him by the collar before he could board his car.

As he was leaving the premises, the students shouted “magnanakaw” and “Butch Abad, panagutin! Noynoy patalsikin!” What happened in UP may be an isolated incident (not to be condoned, by the way) for now, but many think it is a portent of things to come unless Noynoy gets his act together pronto and fire the deadwood, inept and corrupt (DIC) in his official family and some of his KKKKKKs.

Those old enough will remember that the so-called First Quarter Storm that eventually led to the fall of the Marcos regime started with student activism in the state university. Incidentally, a friend and esteemed former DFA colleague, Ben Hur C. Ong, had this to say about DIC: “You spoke of the deadwood, the inept, the corrupt (DIC) but why, oh why, did you not go far enough by adding at the end at least one, if not all, of the six K's you enumerated? (How about adding Kalabasa to make it 7?). I am sure neither Gordon nor Cheney will mind seeing their nickname talked about in your column, hehehe.” Naughty, naughty.

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The much-vaunted control of Noynoy over both houses of Congress appears to be dissipating inexorably. Hours after Noynoy said there is still time for Charter change that would give him a term extension, one of his staunchest allies, Senate President Franklin Drilon, said that the upper chamber has no time to discuss amendments to the Constitution.

In a radio interview, Drilon said the Senate will be busy with the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the 2015 national budget, and Noynoy’s request for emergency powers through a joint resolution of Congress to address the expected power shortage next year. "Kaya hindi ko po nakikita iyan, at wala pong panahon para diyan (charter change). Itong tatlong batas will occupy the calendar of the Senate.

'Yan po ang sitwasyon," said Drilon. House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, another Noynoy ally, subsequently echoed the same sentiment. Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II also said the House will be preoccupied with the 2015 budget, the BBL, the anti-dynasty bill and the emergency powers for Noynoy on energy. “With so many important bills that we need to approve, it won’t be good for the country if our attention will be dissipated,” Gonzales added. What is even more telling is the lack of enthusiasm in both houses of Congress to grant Noynoy emergency powers on energy.

Gonzalez said he and Belmonte have information that requiring malls and other big business establishments to use their generators in exchange for some incentives would free up about 1,000 megawatts (MW) that would be available to household users during next year’s summer months. “Aside from this, we were told that there is an additional 125 MW that Petron Corp. can provide, plus 100 MW more from a natural gas plant that is scheduled to start operating before yearend.

We can also resort to energy conservation measures,” he said. He wondered why Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla seems so determined in contracting additional power from foreign suppliers that would cost consumers billions of pesos. Elections 2016? Hmm… The overriding question is: “Noynoy, a lame duck?” He is beginning to look it.

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Noynoy was supposed to thank his hosts in the four European countries he visited for their contributions to the victims of super typhoon Yolanda last year. I hope he was not asked what happened to the contributions in the light of the COA report that close to P1 billion of foreign contributions have allegedly not been accounted for by DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman.

Since there has been no mention of it in news despatches coming from the media persons accompanying him, he probably thought it best not to raise it. Mabuti na lang. Kung hindi, nakakahiya! Daang matuwid? Saan ‘yun?

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The Department of National Defense (DND) last week condemned the beheading of British aid worker David Haines by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that is now wreaking havoc in the two countries. Haines was a member of a group called ACTED that helped the victims of Yolanda last year. The DND statement: “The DND expresses in the strongest terms its condemnation of the murder of Mr. David Haines of ACTED at the hands of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).

The Department, its officials and staff, condole with Mr. Haines' family and loved ones, as well as ACTED.” I think the DND should be commended for its timely statement. But why was there none from the Department of Foreign Affairs that should have issued such a statement in the first place? Because its top honcho, Albert “Super Amboy” del Rosario is not here? Who is acting secretary then?

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Following are comments of another friend and esteemed former DFA colleague: “I agree with your view of current China policy and of the EDCA, as well as with some other issues you write about. How I wish the President had listened to you when you were urging him in your column to send back our ships and men to Bajo de Masinloc/Panatag/Scarborough shoal.

We could have done what Vietnam did regarding the Chinese oil rig. And now our fishermen from the coastal areas of Bataan, Zambales and all the way to Pangasinan have lost their traditional/historical fishing grounds. There are reports that many of them, and their kin, have moved to towns and cities looking for non-existent jobs.

If true, I wonder what happens to them in the urban areas, being uneducated and unskilled for this kind of life. Do they end up in cramped quarters of squatter relatives, or in the streets such as along Agham road in QC, dependent on charity? Or do they become beggars, or petty criminals or recruits of criminal syndicates? Meanwhile, the rest of us, who do not know how to fish in nature, but must eat fish to lower the blood pressure and prolong life, we buy fish imported from China, Vietnam, etc.

“On EDCA, I agree with you on what it could mean for us. The world is in turmoil. Our big brother has so many challengers. And of course it will not give up easily its long held dominant position. I agree with you about being a target once more if or when a Pacific war breaks out. Japan, and its backer, will definitely be lead actors in such a theater because they had roles to play in what the Chinese call the "century of humiliation" that they had endured. But us, freedom-loving, peace-loving, Filipinos had nothing to do with that century. We suffered too. Despite the "demonization" before the signing of EDCA, we had been friendly neighbors, and trading partners.

We know the dragon and its people very well, for centuries. We have traded with them, allowed them to migrate to our abundant islands, and even inter-marry with us, resulting in many cases in the birth of a Rizal, as well as similar ones but of lesser achievements. But, as you write, we will definitely be involved because of EDCA. “And the sad part is that we are not ready for anything, specially not a world war.

Almost everything we need to sustain life is being imported. (Is it a case of "kung walang importation walang kickback"? Or is it still a case of that psychological burden of believing that "imported" is the better stuff?) I wonder if our diplomats are being instructed to develop and maintain friendly relations with countries where we could run to for help when it is no longer possible for us to import oil from traditional sources because of a deteriorating political situation in the MidEast and elsewhere? I guess we are confident that big brother and allies will help us since they own the majority of the companies that extract and trade in fossil fuel. It is also a fact, of course, that almost every Filipino family has a member living in America.”

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More comments from senior DFA officials on Del Rosario’s Smiley: 1) “I was shocked when I came in one morning and saw it.” 2) “It cheapened the Department.” 3) “Nakakahiya sa mga foreign and local VIPs. I can imagine them snickering behind our backs.” 4) “It adds nothing of value to an otherwise physically impressive edifice.”

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The Reminders (for Noynoy) portion of this column will be resumed next week.

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Today is the 151st day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance. Twenty-one weeks ago, Jonas’ mother, Edita, reminded Noynoy in a letter of his promise to conduct a “dedicated and exhaustive investigation” on her son’s enforced disappearance. “Our hope was anchored on your promise to do what you could ‘on the basis of evidence’ when I personally pleaded for your help. This was almost four years ago, May 2010,” she wrote. Mr. President, Sir?

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From an internet friend: My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, "What's on TV?” I said, "Dust." That’s when the fight started... ******

Email: roacrosshairs@outlook.com