MANILA, September 26, 2003  (STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco  - Business confidence is down. The approval and trust ratings of President Arroyo are down. The people are sick and tired of politics as usual. We can’t even get started on rebuilding confidence in the government and the economy because people can sense that those in power are not telling us the whole story. What we need is a televised public confession on prime time ala Kris Aquino.

It is totally unacceptable for Malacañang to blame Ate Glo’s drop in the polls to Ping Lacson and his half-baked exposés. The likes of Ping are par for the course, in other words, should be expected in the world of politics. What determines if the person in Malacañang has what it takes to be the right leader is the response to people like Ping.

Unfortunately, the response had not been forthright. No matter how bad the Pidal exposés of Ping might have been, the air is not cleared when the Arroyo brothers stonewall the Senate investigators. The result of the plea for privacy is to strengthen and create even more doubt. If they have nothing to hide, if all their transactions are above board, why are they hiding behind their lawyers and claiming right to privacy?

Their credibility problem is actually self inflicted. If Ignacio Arroyo didn’t come out to claim he is Jose Pidal, then maybe the public could assume everything was just the product of Ping Lacson‘s imagination. The banks wouldn‘t confirm the Pidal accounts. But Ignacio Arroyo confirmed the existence of Jose Pidal and worse, placed him within the Arroyo family. Then he stops and refuses to reveal anything more. Hindi yan puede. Inumpisahan niya na, dapat tapusin. Hindi puedeng iwanang bitin ang taong bayan. (That's not acceptable. He started something and he should finish it. He can't leave the public hanging.)

Ate Glo, while insisting that she is not going to involve herself in her husband‘s troubles, can‘t really extricate herself out of the picture. At the very least, it is not credible that she is unaware of the real story behind Jose Pidal. Or because she knows the issue is affecting her ability to govern, she should exert total pressure on the brothers Arroyo to tell all.

What we need is a national public confession on prime time television featuring the brothers Arroyo on the Jose Pidal thing. Ignacio Arroyo had his opportunity to do that on Dong Puno‘s show but he even refused to publicly sign as Jose Pidal to show that he is really it. One thing about television too is that the camera acts like some kind of lie detection machine. The public can tell by looking at the facial expressions and the eyes who is telling the truth.

I was flipping channels the other night to compare Kris and Joey as they told their stories. Discounting the fact that both are actors, the eyes have it. Kris was telling the truth. Joey was too shifty eyed on the screen. And Kris needed no prodding to tell her story, including the most private details. At one point, I wanted to scream and claim right to privacy for her when she revealed how Joey infected her with some STD. Do I really have to know that? I wouldn’t be surprised if she was but did she have to confirm it?

I guess in the mind of Kris, she owes it to her public to tell all. Showbiz personalities like her derive their livelihood from the public. Politicians only have to face the public to get their approval every three years on election day. Kris knows the public votes for her everyday when they choose her program over the competition. So she knows she owes it to them to explain how she got into this mess.

We need the same sense of obligation from public figures like the Arroyo brothers and of course, Ate Glo. The Arroyos must, out of a sense of duty to this country, make a clean breast of the Jose Pidal thing, abandon claims to the right to privacy and other such legal stonewalling. Until they do, this feeling of national malaise will continue to eat at our national will to live that gives rise to our national suicidal tendencies manifested as coup threats.

Jose Pidal, whoever he is, should do a Kris on nationwide TV. It should be good for truth to finally set the Arroyo brothers free. And it could defuse today’s crisis of doubt and help Ate Glo’s re-election bid, or even enable her just to survive until May next year.

Ginebra vs. Ginebra

The suit filed by Ginebra San Miguel against Ginebra Kapitan of Tanduay Distillers is not doing the image of Danding Cojuangco any good. It reinforces the image of Danding as a monopolist who will use the law to protect his business. What we need these days are captains of industry who can thrive in a competitive free market environment.

The suit is also ridiculous since ginebra has got to be a Spanish generic term for gin. A competitor could have named their gin Ginebra San Pedro or Ginebra San Juan and there would be enough distinction in the market from Ginebra San Miguel. Ginebra Kapitan is as far as anyone can get from Ginebra San Miguel.

Can anyone imagine if Rufina Patis, a long time market leader, sued to prevent anyone from using "patis"? Rufina is the brand name of a kind of fish sauce that is "patis". Some brand names become generic in common application like "Kodak" for camera and there is a clear brand name infringement here if used by another camera brand. But not in the way the Tanduay people are using ginebra for Ginebra Kapitan.

Besides, the boys of Danding at Ginebra San Miguel have no faith in their product. The same thing was true of the San Miguel beer people when Asia Brewery launched Beer na Beer. As it turned out in the Beer na Beer case, the market allowed San Miguel the premium market position it deserved. I am certain Ginebra San Miguel, if they keep up its quality and take care of the brand, will likewise enjoy a premier market position.

Sayang. I was almost ready to concede that maybe Danding could be our Thaksin Shinawatra. But if this is how his management views market competition, I dread to imagine how our economy would be managed under his leadership. Specially for non-essential products like gin, it is my feeling that the more competitive the market is, the better it is for consumers. Danding should tell his boys they should fight it out in the marketplace, not in the court room.

Imagine Mang Tomas and Aling Lydia suing each other for the right to call their roast pig "lechon". It isn’t so much ridiculous as it is stupid.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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