Friday, February 15, 2008
The revelations of ousted House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., those of his son Joey and those of Rodolfo Lozada Jr. about the ZTE broadband deal mark a terribly challenging task of the Arroyo administration to survive the likely ruinous domino effect of this drama through the art of political spinning.
I believe that Gloria Arroyo employs the political spinning tactic in order to slant or interpret these news-hugging events to her favor. Indeed, her use of this strategy shows the shrewd politician that Arroyo is since she seems able to manipulate to her advantage this new spate of scandals being regurgitated from her embattled immediate presidential past.
In instances like this, it is important to perform damage control. She has produced an effective official party line in the guise of her watchdog cabinet members who concocted the spin and defended—and still defending—it by virtue of their personal knowledge about the matter. I already see the likes of Senator Arroyo, a critic of the President, being recruited while not a political ally. Why not? Even he believes that the President shall survive her latest ordeal and finish her term. Meanwhile, the ones singing a different tune are neutralized, if not presented as a person unworthy of media attention. This I see in the guise of the latest news that Lozada being discredited of his whistleblowing because he, according to news reports, lived a king’s life when he went to Hong Kong for a gargantuan shopping splurge. How should the public see that except the implication that the revelation is supposedly about a conspirator not getting his just piece of the pie. Already, sacrificial lambs are about to be sacrificed in the persons of Arroyo ally Mike Defensor, PNP Chief Avelino Razon and others should the political spin not entertain the public. Hence, the offer of P50,000 refused by Lozada is one form of damage control being enacted in Arroyo’s quest to appeal to the whistleblower’s naked interest. In the mean time, I am confident that Arroyo is indeed unperturbed as she appeared to effect just that yesterday in the forum of international entrepreneurs. Some of her cohorts are bribing profit, security and safety so she herself may profit from a dying scandal, may get secured and may feel safe until the national elections of 2010.
I see that there is some sort of triumph on the part of the administration when the Senate failed to get conclusive proofs to justify corruption on the ZTE broadband expose. The testimonies of some cabinet members bungled before the Senate alright, yet the ruinous admissions and contradicting versions of events (kidnapping or invitation, depending on whose side one is on) so far yields a one-night-only massive rally lacking EDSA proportions. It is a telling point that the people have grown tired and have gone fed up with perpetual versions of People Power Revolutions.
I felt disappointed that former NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri let down the public with his apparent dishonesty. Having exposed that Arroyo put up with an unimaginable millions of pesos as bribe for resigned Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, nothing more is heard from him. He even had the gall to lurk behind his executive privilege just so he will not be coaxed into disclosing more damaging statements. I see this as a way of damage control of a government about to crash.
Last night’s appearance of Joey de Venecia at the Makati rally failed to convinced me that this man has enough integrity to overthrow Aroyo’s government with his revelations. To me, he is just an ill-motivated personage who had an axe to grind after failing to advance his corruption with a government contract bid. After all, everyone in the ZTE picture seems to be just corrupt characters fighting over possible kickbacks from the bidding.
Now that de Venecia is ousted with the administration’s cunning maneuvering, his political power base may have crumbled but by seeing alliances with the opposition, he can still prove to be a pain in Arroyo’s neck. It is only a matter of time when he completely reveals all of the government secret hiding as skeletons in his political closet. In fact, I see more corruption tales to come in which the President herself figures as a significant accomplice.
De Venecia was discredited in order for damage control to work. It came easy since I think he is not the kind of politically immaculate guy. As for Lozada, he was asked to sign some affidavits that he later disproved. Arroyo had no choice but to discredit him like others before him. While I believe that Lozada’s exposes are credible what with the threats he dragged his whole clan into, these, Joey’s and his father’s may not be sufficient corroboration and vindication to dislodge Gloria. This corruption tale is actually stranger than fiction.
Why not stranger, when I analyze that the tear-smeared Lozada is just making a show at, befittingly enough, the Senate Blue Ribbon Theater? It was a theatrical piece that could give Clarissa Ocampo’s expose a pun-intended run for the money. It engaged me, entertained me, it amused be screamingly and parts of it seem spun out of tremendously hilarious comedies. I was wondering how this can possibly be advantageous to the legislative works of the senators. It may just be a leeway for Senator Jamby Madrigal to do grandstanding by filing an anti-administrative case in the Ombudsman.
I do not find the performance even relevant after the ZTE had been cancelled, dead as a dodo if the administration is made to speak alluding to this. From my viewpoint, what the courageous Lozada told the Blue Ribbon committee is not anything that he can prove in any court. The tales are fantastic, deep and totally related but shouldn’t the Senate be doing things that more clearly look like they are "in aid of legislation" or maybe even things that can be used against the corrupt people in government in a court of law to finally put away many of the bad eggs in the current administration?
This is the problem with the present Senate. It seems to be frittering off its powers in pursuit of the trivialities and frivolities of political life rather than closing in on graft and corruption, the wrong projects and even the wrong direction that this administration has taken this country in view of our rightful future.
One might ask our senators the same thing. Don’t they have anything else that they can talk about but an aborted deal? True, if it had gone through, It would have been a waste of public funds as it was approved; but if it had gone through as the main witnesses against it—Joey, Neri and Lozada—had wanted it to go, as the project of a private contractor that’s Joey, would such an NBN deal have been any better? No, absolutely not. It would still have been a waste of public funds, anyway.
The charges above are possibly damning. Yet, even if concrete evidence is produced, how will they help this benighted country? If Gloria resigns, what alternative do we have?
A military/civilian junta like the failed kudetas of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV? Composed and led by whom? This is the only alternative if constitutional processes are thwarted. Yet, this alternative will surely throw our country back into the dark ages.
So the question arises, who is behind this concerted effort to bring down GMA? Is it the opposition? But they're fractured even with Erap Estrada around. Even if they weren't, what would they gain if Gloria resigns? Noli de Castro would just assume power and we will be worse off. I think that what could be done is to be aware that it is not about a change of government, but that Filipinos are mature enough not to be bowled over by tactics and schemes outside of the decency of the constitution.
What can be concluded out of all of this? No one is really after the Filipinos’ welfare. If ever Gloria is ousted, another crop of the corrupted will take over. So do the Filipinos retain Gloria? It is easy to say that Filipinos need to fight for instead and be keen on constitutional processes. If constitutional processes will effect a peaceful change of leadership, then so be it. It will keep the next leader accountable.
The whole business of this “investigative” proceeding is actually reduced to the battle between the administration and the opposition, made colorfully nasty by the political bickering and mudslinging that is in no way connected to the duties these politicians are supposed to carry out. As the opposition accuses the President of electoral illegitimacy, of advancing her naked interests via the proposed Charter Change, and of graft and corruption by virtue of this latest scandal dragging her, her allies are busy saving her majesty queen by countering all these antagonisms on their political benefactress, to the detriment of the constitutional functions begging to be disposed in the name of progress. As our great leaders divert their energies on consequential matters other than the passage of bills into executive laws for the country's development, the constituents suffer in poverty because its alleviation is relegated to the sides by more pressing issues involving the President. What should be done is for our officials to perform the job we elected them in, period.