COLUMN OF THE DAY: THE CODE OF THE SITH SEARS ASEAN

PEACE is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.” But who is strong in the Force? Among the contenders are China and Japan now in Round 3 of their centuries-spanning rivalry, currently interpreted in any or all of the following: (1) Whose version of Capitalism will dominate West Pacific: the neo-fascist Japanese bureaucrats or the proto-fascist Chinese cadres? (2) Whose crime syndicate will prevail in the Asian underworld: Yakuza or the triads? (3) Whose East Asian growth scheme will survive: flying geese formation (once upon a time, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere) or the Guangdong Model? (4) Fin Fang Foom or Gojira? Even as they tangle, the plutocrats of Beijing and Tokyo betray similarities in strategy: putting the Absolute (Party, Tenno) above the Law, subduing the Individual into the Collective (danwei, zaikai), and making the commoners believe that the vested interests of the Rich constitute the general welfare. And masking Militarism as Nationalism, Racism as religious zeal (Maoism, Shinto). READ COMPLETE REPORT...

OPINION OF THE DAY: EDCA: IS IT CONSTITUTIONAL OR NOT?

WHAT exactly is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)? Is it constitutional or not? Is it an executive agreement, not a treaty, that does not require the concurrence of the Senate? The EDCA, which was signed shortly before the arrival of President Barack Obama for a two-day state visit, was originally titled “Increased Rotational Presence Framework Agreement.” It contains a Preamble and 12 Articles, the result of eight months negotiations that commenced in August 2013. Under the new agreement, the US military will enjoy greater access to existing military, naval and air bases across the Philippine archipelago for a 10-year term. For the moment the two countries have yet to make public the specific number of US troops or other assets that will be deployed in the country not permanently, but only temporarily and on rotational basis. Here are excerpts from the ten-page document in which one may or may not find the answers to all those crucial and many other questions: The Preamble refers to the obligations of the Philippines and the United States, under the United Nations Charter and the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), to settle international disputes by peaceful means, not to endanger international peace and security, and to refrain from the use of threat or force. It also notes that both parties “share an understanding for the United States not to establish a permanent military presence or base in the territory of the Philippines.” And it concludes that “the United States access to and use of facilities and areas will be at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws.” BELOW READ ARTICLES I TO X11--  Now, the Preamble could very well be read as verbally disarming criticisms in official and media circles in Beijing that the EDCA was an aggressive pact aimed at China. And the joint commitment to the UN Charter to settle international disputes by peaceful means will resonate well with neighboring states in the region. The term “Agreed Locations” obviously refers to the Philippine bases at Clark Airbase, the Subic naval base, and others in the country, in which U.S. forces will operate “without rental or similar costs”. And under Article IV, the U.S. is not permitted to preposition nuclear weapons. What remains unresolved and ambiguous is whether the EDCA will act as a deterrent in the immediate future further encroachments in the territorial waters of the West Philippine Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal, the Second Thomas Shoal, the Hasa Hasa Shoal, and islets and reefs. And the most crucial question on whether the EDCA is constitutional or not, also remains officially unanswered up to this time. READ MORE...

ALSO: ON THE LIST(S)

I HAD my apprehensions about the infamous Napoles list and then I find myself trying to peruse not one, not two but three lists – all undeniably incredulous because of how they were all presented. As expected, it rained denials these past few days. It became a game on deciphering what was rightful indignation or sneaky deception. I got dizzy trying to figure out the reasons of those accused. Some were logical, others banal and generic while still others had reasons that were tinged with both logic and insanity. A few just felt that silence would help in not exacerbating the situation. But after I had calmed down from the frenzy of who did what, I came to the conclusion that these lists were not good for anything but trial by publicity. Or at the very least gossip fodder for self-righteous people. You see, many of those in the list had nothing pinned down on them except for the fact that Janet Napoles or BenHur Luy or whoever had given or arranged for the bribes. Apart from what they said or accused these people of, there is no concrete proof – except for a few – that these people indeed accepted the bribes. I had mentioned in a previous column that even if Napoles came out with a ledger, there has to be corroborative documents. Inday Miriam Defensor Santiago, a certified legal luminary, states that the documents allowed are private documents (such as those kept by the “Napoles Gang”) that need to be proved with respect to “due execution and authenticity. This means that there should be a witness who saw the documents executed or written, or there should be evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the maker. Second, public documents (such as those issued by the budget department) must be proved by a certified true copy from the official custodian. It is unacceptable to me that even without proof that these lists are genuine they were released to the public to be dissected by people like me -- non-lawyers who interpret these things without the benefit of any legal knowledge. So what happens then? You effectively massacre the reputations and lives of these people and making it difficult for them to prove their innocence, not in a court of law but in the court of public opinion – which by all intents and purposes is the most unfair “court” in the history of man. READ MORE...

OPINION OF THE DAY: SWINDLER’S LISTS

SO there are three lists pala. At least that’s what PNoy says, and he himself has seen the three lists, apparently. One was the list given to Reconstruction czar and former senator Ping Lacson, who happens to be a “mistah” of the husband of Janet Napoles. The other list was the one given to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. And the third list was the one….wait, who got the third list? Sandra Cam? Santa Claus? San Pedro? I like the idea of three lists. It means someone – or a group of someones – is out there intentionally trying to confuse the President, his Justice secretary, Ping Lacson, eventually the media and all of us for a purpose that most probably is to benefit the really guilty. This could be accomplished in many ways: one, to make everyone look involved, and this shouldn’t be hard to do given the type of politics we play here. Two, to force prosecutors to sift through so many names in an attempt to separate the guilty from the not-so, and before they are able to accomplish this there is a new president with perhaps a different priority and this issue starts to fade away like old soldiers. Or three, and this is in relation to the first, to reveal to all of us that this stink permeates every level of our government that the only way to get rid of it is to kill the whole stinking body – to bring down the whole government and the political system in which it operates -- therefore accomplishing for the Radical Left what they haven’t been able to accomplish in half a century. You know naman the Radical Left. All their rallies and mass actions to remove the US bases couldn’t accomplish what Pinatubo did in one big blow-up. Same thing in this case; Janet will do for them what they couldn’t do even with all their revolutionary taxes and pork barrel funds combined. That’s what the Swindler’s Lists will accomplish. Provide not a coup de grace but a coup de mort to the political system we have long been complaining about but couldn’t get rid of. (Like some of our relatives whom not we but God chooses for us.) I suspect that releasing the Swindler’s Lists will make a lot of people feel sick in the stomach, because the Lists apparently are longer than we thought, containing not just the codenames “Pogi”, “Sexy” and “Tanda” but maybe a host of others. I would like to try guessing what the other nicknames could be but then again I might get sued. READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

THE SITH CODE SEARS ASEAN By Bernard Karganilla | May 15, 2014


By Bernard Karganilla

MANILA, MAY 19, 2014 (MALAYA) "PEACE is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.” [The Sith Code, as written by Sorzus Syn and taught by Darth Bane]

But who is strong in the Force? Among the contenders are China and Japan now in Round 3 of their centuries-spanning rivalry, currently interpreted in any or all of the following:

(1) Whose version of Capitalism will dominate West Pacific: the neo-fascist Japanese bureaucrats or the proto-fascist Chinese cadres?

(2) Whose crime syndicate will prevail in the Asian underworld: Yakuza or the triads?

(3) Whose East Asian growth scheme will survive: flying geese formation (once upon a time, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere) or the Guangdong Model?

(4) Fin Fang Foom or Gojira?

Even as they tangle, the plutocrats of Beijing and Tokyo betray similarities in strategy: putting the Absolute (Party, Tenno) above the Law, subduing the Individual into the Collective (danwei, zaikai), and making the commoners believe that the vested interests of the Rich constitute the general welfare.

And masking Militarism as Nationalism, Racism as religious zeal (Maoism, Shinto).

Sun Wukong (the Monkey King) and Gundam are joined in the arena by other behemoths: USA, India, Russia, even Indonesia, among others. In the Marvel Comic-verse, the Mandarin and Iron Man (usually the best of enemies) were once compelled to join forces against Fin Fang Foom. For this scenario not to play out in the real world, it has been suggested that:

“Firstly, Japan should work along with US efforts for networking alliance and non-allied cooperation in order to sustain its commitment to the Asia-Pacific in the era of fiscal austerity. Japan could relocate more diplomatic and military resources and attention to the region. At the same time, Japan should recognize the concerns for autonomy among Asian states. Secondly, Japan has the responsibility for community building through bilateral and multilateral inclusive mechanisms with China. To drag the region into a rivalry should be avoided, and Japan should endeavor to encourage rule and order creation to reflect the new balance of power. Thirdly, to avoid a situation in which solely the US and China deepen the collaboration at the sacrifice of the interests of middle and smaller powers, Japan should keep its leading roles in the regional order and also enhance bilateral and trilateral dialogue with the US and China for the sharing of vision for the order.” [Sahashi, Ryo, “Community Building or Collective Balancing? A Japanese Perspective,” 02 July 2012]

Naval combat and the threat of force have already been used by the Molochs to assert territorial claims in the China seas (East as well as South), but the universal principles of human rights and the phenomenon of catastrophic climate change both require that good ocean governance in the Indo-Pacific commons now include trans-continental NGOs like Greenpeace, the Fo Guang Shan chain of Buddhist temples, and the International NGO History Forum.

It is not only Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines that are in the laser sights of Fu-Manchu’s gunboat diplomacy but also South Korea given that Seoul’s research station on Ieodo (like the Senkaku Islands) is trapped within Beijing’s so-called East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. The ChiCom ADIZ and Mao’s Nine-Dash Line intersecting USA’s forward deployment and Obama’s rebalancing in the Pacific evoke “moon tin sun fat” (“Gods galore in the sky”) and Cold War games of chicken.

The shoot-out among the sovereigns is about control over fisheries, hydrocarbon deposits and sea lanes. For the moment, World War 3 is held in abeyance by responsible member-states upholding the Charter of the United Nations and regional blocs like the Association of South East Asian Nations whose 11 May 2014 Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on Realisation of the ASEAN Community by 2015 obliges the ten countries:

“To strengthen cooperation for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), especially calling on all parties to exercise self-restraint and non-use of force, as well as refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tension and to work towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) as reflected in the Asean’s Six- Point Principles on the South China Sea.”

In addition, the latest regional declaration (made in Myanmar) holds the 10 countries “To work closely with the Nuclear Weapon States on the early signing and ratification of the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) without reservations by Nuclear Weapon States.” In the Asia-Pacific, the Nuclear Weapon States are USA, Russia, and, of course, China. Nuclear-armed Britain and France as well as India have navies that can operate in the marine commons.

Within the global flashpoints of the Korean Peninsula and the China seas, USA and China are not the only Nuclear Weapon States in competition and collaboration. Beijing remembers that Imperial China supposedly lost lands via “unequal” treaties signed with the Tsar in pre-revolutionary Moscow (Aigun in 1858, Peking in 1860, Ili in 1881, among others), while the Soviet Union had once warned that the “Maoist-type ‘nationalist’ and ‘chauvinist’ regime in China would be of long duration.” [R. C. Ladrido, “The Sino-Soviet Conflict: Post-Mao Period, 1976-1979”]

With nation-states and nationalities behaving no less territorial than the Asian golden cat, Malayan colugo, Red panda, Siberian crane, Eurasian lynx, common vampire bat, and the Chinese alligator, it appears (sadly) that “the necessity of conflict was a law of the universe and not just a Sith thinking.” [Code of the Sith entry in the Wookieepedia, quoting Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic]

As for the Philippines, what is the Normal in its relationship with the United States: defense allies or boss and minion? With Japan: trade partners or con-man and mark? With China: Han majority to barbarous minority, Uncle-Nephew (ala 8th century Sino-Tibetan treaty), slum-lord to squatter, or snake-oil salesman to sickened consumer?

EDCA: IS IT CONSTITUTIONAL OR NOT? (2) By NESTOR MATA | May 15, 2014


By NESTOR MATA

WHAT exactly is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)? Is it constitutional or not? Is it an executive agreement, not a treaty, that does not require the concurrence of the Senate?

The EDCA, which was signed shortly before the arrival of President Barack Obama for a two-day state visit, was originally titled “Increased Rotational Presence Framework Agreement.” It contains a Preamble and 12 Articles, the result of eight months negotiations that commenced in August 2013. Under the new agreement, the US military will enjoy greater access to existing military, naval and air bases across the Philippine archipelago for a 10-year term. For the moment the two countries have yet to make public the specific number of US troops or other assets that will be deployed in the country not permanently, but only temporarily and on rotational basis.

Here are excerpts from the ten-page document in which one may or may not find the answers to all those crucial and many other questions:

The Preamble refers to the obligations of the Philippines and the United States, under the United Nations Charter and the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), to settle international disputes by peaceful means, not to endanger international peace and security, and to refrain from the use of threat or force. It also notes that both parties “share an understanding for the United States not to establish a permanent military presence or base in the territory of the Philippines.” And it concludes that “the United States access to and use of facilities and areas will be at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws.”

Article 1 states that the EDCA is aimed at deepening bilateral defense cooperation in order to maintain and develop the individual and collective capacities of both countries to resist armed attack as set out in their MDT.

Article II sets out the definition and conditions of access in the EDCA, including US military and civilian personnel covered by the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), US contractors, agreed locations, and designated authorities.

Article III sets out the terms and conditions of access to Agreed Locations by US forces and contractors and their vehicles, vessels and aircraft. They are authorized to undertake “training, transit, support and related activities, refuelling of aircraft, temporary accommodations of personnel, communications, prepositioning of equipment, supplies and materiel, deploying forces and materiel, and such other activities as the Parties may agree.”

Article IV covers prepositioned equipment, supplies and materiel to be used by the US forces. The US is granted the right to store prepositioned materiel, including, but not limited to, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief equipment, supplies, and materiel at Agreed Locations subject to advance notification. It also notes that prepositioned material could be used to benefit humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as the enhancement of individual and collective defense capabilities.

Article V states that the Philippines retains ownership over all Agreed Locations and all buildings and permanent structures, including improvements by the United States. U.S. forces and contractors retain title to all equipment, materiel, supplies and movable property placed in Agreed Locations, although it provides for the possible transfer or purchase of excess U.S. equipment to the Philippines.

Article VI sets out the individual and joint responsibilities for Agreed Locations and U.S. property and personnel. Both parties are enjoined to cooperate to ensure the protection, safety and security of U.S. forces and contractors and security of information of U.S. information in the Philippines. The Philippines has the primary responsibility for the security of the Agreed Locations, while the U.S. forces are authorized to exercise all rights and authorities within the Agreed Locations that are necessary for the operational control or defense, including the protection of U.S. forces and contractors.

Article VII sets out the responsibilities for the provision of public utilities, such as electricity and water, to U.S. personnel operating in Agreed Locations, and also provides for the provision of radio spectrum frequencies for U.S. personnel operating radio communications in Agreed Locations.

Article VIII permits the U.S. to contract materiel, supplies, equipment and services without restriction. However, the U.S. agreed to strive to use Philippine suppliers of goods, products and services to the greatest extent practicable in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States.

Article IX provides that both parties agree to implement the EDCA in a manner consistent with the protection of environment and human health and safety, to take expeditious action to contain and address environmental contamination, to implement the most protective environmental compliance standards reflected in U.S., Philippines, and international law, and to conduct a periodic review to ensure that Philippine standards are accurately applied.

Article X provides for the implementation of the EDCA provisions at Agreed Locations, and on matters of funding, and additional matters related to the presence of U.S. personnel, and regular consultations regarding the carrying out the provisions of the agreement.

Article XI provides for direct consultations to settle disputes, prohibits any party from taking disputes or other matters of contention to any national or international court, tribunal, similar body, or third party for settlement unless mutually agreed.

Article XII includes provisions for entry into force, amendment, duration and termination. The EDCA will enter into force on exchange of diplomatic notes. Any annex added to the EDCA will form an integral part of the agreement. The EDCA, and any annex, may be amended by written agreement by the Philippines and the United States. The EDCA has an initial term of ten years and will remain force automatically. Either party may give a year’s notice of its intention to terminate the agreement.

Now, the Preamble could very well be read as verbally disarming criticisms in official and media circles in Beijing that the EDCA was an aggressive pact aimed at China. And the joint commitment to the UN Charter to settle international disputes by peaceful means will resonate well with neighboring states in the region. The term “Agreed Locations” obviously refers to the Philippine bases at Clark Airbase, the Subic naval base, and others in the country, in which U.S. forces will operate “without rental or similar costs”. And under Article IV, the U.S. is not permitted to preposition nuclear weapons.

What remains unresolved and ambiguous is whether the EDCA will act as a deterrent in the immediate future further encroachments in the territorial waters of the West Philippine Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal, the Second Thomas Shoal, the Hasa Hasa Shoal, and islets and reefs. And the most crucial question on whether the EDCA is constitutional or not, also remains officially unanswered up to this time.

As we have noted earlier, analysts, pundits have questioned the EDCA. “It’s unconstitutional!” they declared. And, as Hezel Gacutan, secretary general of the Philippine Constitution Association, also pointed out that the EDCA still requires concurrence by the Senate, similar to that of the Visiting Forces Agreement of 1998, since it is an amendment or revision of the VFA, and it expands the presence of American troops and their facilities in the country from Batanes in the north to Mindanao and Sulu in the south.

So, the Senate must conduct public hearings and debates on the EDCA, but, if for some reasons, such as an “insidious intervention” by Malacańang, the senators fail to take such action, then concerned Filipinos should challenge the constitutionality of the EDCA before the Supreme Court.

***

Quote of the Day: “The Constitution is made by the people, made for the people and answerable to the people!” – Anonymous

ON THE LIST(S) By ROMEO Y. LIM | May 15, 2014


 By ROMEO Y. LIM

I HAD my apprehensions about the infamous Napoles list and then I find myself trying to peruse not one, not two but three lists – all undeniably incredulous because of how they were all presented.

As expected, it rained denials these past few days. It became a game on deciphering what was rightful indignation or sneaky deception.

I got dizzy trying to figure out the reasons of those accused. Some were logical, others banal and generic while still others had reasons that were tinged with both logic and insanity. A few just felt that silence would help in not exacerbating the situation.

But after I had calmed down from the frenzy of who did what, I came to the conclusion that these lists were not good for anything but trial by publicity. Or at the very least gossip fodder for self-righteous people.

You see, many of those in the list had nothing pinned down on them except for the fact that Janet Napoles or BenHur Luy or whoever had given or arranged for the bribes.

Apart from what they said or accused these people of, there is no concrete proof – except for a few – that these people indeed accepted the bribes.

I had mentioned in a previous column that even if Napoles came out with a ledger, there has to be corroborative documents.

Inday Miriam Defensor Santiago, a certified legal luminary, states that the documents allowed are private documents (such as those kept by the “Napoles Gang”) that need to be proved with respect to “due execution and authenticity. This means that there should be a witness who saw the documents executed or written, or there should be evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the maker. Second, public documents (such as those issued by the budget department) must be proved by a certified true copy from the official custodian.

It is unacceptable to me that even without proof that these lists are genuine they were released to the public to be dissected by people like me -- non-lawyers who interpret these things without the benefit of any legal knowledge.

So what happens then? You effectively massacre the reputations and lives of these people and making it difficult for them to prove their innocence, not in a court of law but in the court of public opinion – which by all intents and purposes is the most unfair “court” in the history of man.

I am sorry, Mr. Captain of the Ship of State. But my admiration for you has dropped a few notches. This has all the makings of the “shit hitting the fan” and yet you act like you want to sit next to the fan and enjoy the smell.

Not only will you denigrate the reputation of a whole branch of government, you throw this country into a crisis of leadership.

To what end? If this is political and you want to wipe out the opposition, then you better have a back-up plan that will NOT allow the buck to stop at your feet.

This has made my head spin. In the 2016 elections, do I want a president who is honest but is incompetent and clueless or do I want a corrupt one with great administrative and managerial skills.

Which one will make the country survive and flourish.

SWINDLER’S LISTS By Jose Bayani Baylon | May 14, 2014


By Jose Bayani Baylon

SO there are three lists pala. At least that’s what PNoy says, and he himself has seen the three lists, apparently.

One was the list given to Reconstruction czar and former senator Ping Lacson, who happens to be a “mistah” of the husband of Janet Napoles. The other list was the one given to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. And the third list was the one….wait, who got the third list? Sandra Cam? Santa Claus? San Pedro?

I like the idea of three lists. It means someone – or a group of someones – is out there intentionally trying to confuse the President, his Justice secretary, Ping Lacson, eventually the media and all of us for a purpose that most probably is to benefit the really guilty. This could be accomplished in many ways: one, to make everyone look involved, and this shouldn’t be hard to do given the type of politics we play here. Two, to force prosecutors to sift through so many names in an attempt to separate the guilty from the not-so, and before they are able to accomplish this there is a new president with perhaps a different priority and this issue starts to fade away like old soldiers. Or three, and this is in relation to the first, to reveal to all of us that this stink permeates every level of our government that the only way to get rid of it is to kill the whole stinking body – to bring down the whole government and the political system in which it operates -- therefore accomplishing for the Radical Left what they haven’t been able to accomplish in half a century.

You know naman the Radical Left. All their rallies and mass actions to remove the US bases couldn’t accomplish what Pinatubo did in one big blow-up. Same thing in this case; Janet will do for them what they couldn’t do even with all their revolutionary taxes and pork barrel funds combined.

That’s what the Swindler’s Lists will accomplish. Provide not a coup de grace but a coup de mort to the political system we have long been complaining about but couldn’t get rid of. (Like some of our relatives whom not we but God chooses for us.) I suspect that releasing the Swindler’s Lists will make a lot of people feel sick in the stomach, because the Lists apparently are longer than we thought, containing not just the codenames “Pogi”, “Sexy” and “Tanda” but maybe a host of others. I would like to try guessing what the other nicknames could be but then again I might get sued.

But where’s the fun in writing a column and not getting sued, yes? So here goes: the long list could contain new nicknames and codenames like “Ganda” (oh, ayan ha, why can I be sued for that?); “Bilbil” (oh, ayan, many are guilty of that!); “Loverboy” (oh, ayan, raise your hand all who want to be called that?); maybe even “Bright Boy” (oh ayan, I am sure many would like to think sila yun), and “Bigote”.

And that’s only for the Senate part, which according to former senator Ping would constitute a quorum (meaning at least 13). What more the names from the Lower House, and apparently two from the Cabinet? It would be nice if they were all hidden in code and we had a guessing game on national TV – I would recommend KrisTV, it being such a hit – and the one with the most number of correct guesses gets a prize – to become co-host of KrisTV for a day!

“Oh, di ba? Bongga! Love love love!”

My FB friend and gymmate (from the previous century), Jaime Garchitorena, had an insight that is worth sharing. He said that being on the Swindler’s Lists is by itself nothing to be afraid of, because it is a scammer’s list and it could very well only mean that you’ve been scammed. And I can imagine a legislator or two, or maybe three or more, who had initially been convinced there was merit in dealing with Janet Napoles – especially if, in the beginning, her MO (or modus operandi) was to offer a decent, respectable “return” of say 10-20% on the project that seems to be in keeping with the way things are done in these islands. And then I can imagine that some of these legislators balked once Janet upped the ante – whispered, for example, that the cut can go higher, from 20% to, say, 40%, or to a level high enough for the more decent among the legislators to start smelling a rat. At which point they get off the carousel with a polite “thanks, but no thanks”.

But if the names are on the list because they are regulars – “parokyano” is a Filipino word I like hearing, I don’t know why – ah, then that’s a different matter altogether and those who are so named had better have access to good legal counsel and PR support. Because they’ll need all the legal stonewalling one can think of, and all the help in trying to milk all the PR mileage from pilgrimages to Lourdes or Medjugorje, or Agoo (although Judiel Nieva aka Angel dela Vega is no longer there) to soften up their otherwise corrupt image. They’ll have to tell their kids to cool it too, to stop racing around in their flashy cars, to stop posting pics on Instagram of summer vacays abroad, even to stop boasting to classmates of the latest gadgets or gizmos they got thanks to dad or mom. Oftentimes, you see, it’s the amigas of the wife or the classmates of the kids who retell the stories, which become an investigative reporter’s story leads, which become bases for investigation and then for prosecution. And those pictures and videos become public records that could be used later on. Don’t ever forget how the videos of the Marcoses partying on the presidential yacht or in Malacańang was used after their ouster with devastating effect to impress upon the public the image of an ultra corrupt and lavish lifestyle while the masses struggled to survive.

But here is a dilemma: if, as the President says, there is not one but three lists that came from the same source, which do we release to the public? Releasing one will cause those on that list – but not on list two or three – to claim that they are being targeted for prosecution, if not in fact persecution and trial by publicity. Releasing all three will, however, create the confusion that the author or authors of all three lists may have exactly wanted to create, sowing “reasonable doubt” that would excuse the really guilty while tarnishing the reputation of so many others. And not releasing a single list will immediately raise suspicions of a whitewash.

So, what to do?

I’d say release all three, allow everyone on the list to explain how their names got on it, and let’s just all note whose names come out the most often and give them due attention. Because maybe that’s the best gauge of how good a “parokyano” they were of the JLN pork business that has put the much-longer running Lydia’s Lechon to shame.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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