The News That Was

Media has recently been dominated by the President’s MILF meeting, GMA’s medical condition, her husband’s legal condition and the visit of Paris Hilton, not necessarily in that order of importance.

The President’s initiative in opening talks with the MILF was statesmanlike. There seems a new appreciation in the man of his office and the role he could play in history.

The front-page picture of the President with Murad Ebrahim, MILF chair, in some undisclosed foreign venue was a great photo-op. Shades of Henry Kissinger on a secret mission to Paris to end the Vietnam War. It certainly beats P-Noy cutting the ceremonial ribbon at the latest Jollibee outlet.

It is unclear what was the outcome of the negotiations, whether we just hand over Mindanao in exchange for visa-free visits for natural-born Filipinos; or what.

The Government said the discussions were “pragmatic and principled” (can one be both?), the diplomatic code words to denote the parties did not come to blows. Together with “frank and candid” the phrase has described all historic meetings including the Versailles Peace talks that ended WWI, the gathering at Yalta, and Adam and Eve’s first encounter.

The President’s critics quickly pounced on the rendez-vous as unbecoming of our leader, of stooping to talk to a lesser mortal. These are the same people who believe William should never have married a commoner nor Jesus Christ come down to earth.

A Government spokesperson who shall remain unnamed to protect his family from ridicule; quickly countered not at all, that it was more like “a head of state on vacation (in Japan)” happening to meet “another Filipino (presumably also on holiday)”. I kid you not, he really said this. Where do they get these people?

The MILF summit did not get the media play it deserved. Pundits are  more concerned whether GMA will seek foreign asylum  under the guise of medical treatment, or whether her husband owned the helicopters or whether Paris Hilton would date the President.

On GMA she is either well or in critical condition depending on the medical bulletins issued by Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda or her lawyer Raul Lambino. Their exchange goes something like this:

EL: The ex-President is in critical condition.
RL: No she is not.
EL: You said so too.
RL: No I did not.
EL: But you did, you did.

Other than wishing her well, I am uncertain why Malacanang needs to comment on the medical state of Gloria. Atty. Lambino is paid to do that, Lacierda is not. Enough already, Edwin, go back to work.

While on the matter of medical treatments, did you notice how illness-prone discredited Filipino politicians tend to be?  It started with the Ampatuans and now seems pervasive. This could be a lucrative market for hospitals: Imagine, all these rich patients prepared to forever stay in confinement in expensive suites. In contrast Hosni Mubarak was wheeled to his trial on his hospital bed.

Elsewhere, the Senate is expending serious time on determining the ownership of two choppers (over)sold to the PNP.

The purpose of the exercise is uncertain. What is the charge, that Mike owned the choppers and therefore under-declared his Statement of Assets and Liabilities? Tell us something new.

Second, even if it could prove culpability, does the Senate have the power to convict him?

A better approach might be to charge the PNP officials who approved the deal and get them to squeal: Who whispered in their ears to overpay for second-hand equipment?

Another track is to follow the money trail to establish final ownership: Who did the PNP ultimately pay for the choppers? Were the proper taxes paid?

Altogether the matter seems best left to the DOJ, COA, BIR and the Ombudsman to sort out.  The Senators’ hearings appear not so much “in aid of legislation” as they are, media-wise, in aid of themselves. Are there not more important issues like passing legislation and helping the President with a framework for Mindanao?

Which brings us to Paris Hilton.

Malacanang (when not commenting on GMA’s condition) issued a statement that P-Noy was (sadly) not to meet her. Something about being busy with the Priority Bills and actress/model Georgina Wilson not being happy.

It may have also been that Paris prefers them younger and with nice wheels. Too bad P-Noy sold his Porsche. That would have gone down well with her.


About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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