Tag Archives: Manny Villar

Column: Voting for history

Published on May 11, 2010.

For accountability’s sake, allow me to explain my vote, starting with the would-haves and wouldn’ts.

I would have wanted to vote for Gibo Teodoro as president; he was the most brilliant candidate, and he ran the only positive campaign. He stuck to the high road, and could rightfully claim, in his miting de avance, that he had not made any unreasonable campaign promises. But he was, he is, on the wrong side of history. He represents the Arroyo administration, which has done more than any post-Marcos government to undermine the institutions of democracy. Indeed, in a twist worthy of Greek tragedy, Gibo’s personal values (delicadeza, old-fashioned chivalry, a sense of responsibility, qualities that recommend him as a person) are the very things that prevent him from taking a harder line against President Arroyo and her excesses—thus proving that, no matter how much he tried to distance himself from her shadow, it continues to loom over him. Lesson: Personal qualities alone are (sadly) not enough. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Politics

“Dirtiest in memory”

On the same day this column came out, Agence France Presse ran the following story. I got my copy through the ABS-CBN news website, which ran the story under the head: “Internet fuels RP election smear campaigns.”

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine politics has plunged to ugly lows ahead of next month’s presidential election as candidates take advantage of the Internet and mobile phones to smear their rivals, analysts say.

Among the worst examples, front runner Benigno Aquino has had to deal with a hoax psychiatric report claiming he is mentally ill and took drugs, while his main opponent, Manny Villar, has been accused of lying about his dead brother. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Readings in Media, Readings in Politics

Column: Black propaganda: Chiz & Jejomar version

Published on April 13, 2010.

It was a real privilege to serve as a resource person at a roundtable conference organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology last week. I hope to set aside some space sometime soon to discuss the provocative insights of eminent economist Emmanuel de Dios, the other guest speaker; for now, allow me to acknowledge the stimulating company of National Scientists Gelia Castillo, Mercedes Concepcion and Teodulo Topacio Jr., as well as (ceteris paribus!) of Deans De Dios and Raul Fabella of the UP School of Economics. Continue reading


Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Media, Readings in Politics

Column: Do you trust ‘Villaquino’?

Published on March 2, 2010. As it turned out, core support for Manny Villar proved to be much weaker than I thought. And Erap himself turned out to be “the Erap of 2010.”

The January 2010 Pulse Asia survey tells me the fates of Senators Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino are intertwined. Of the 10 presidential candidates, only the two of them have majority trust ratings. Randy David has already written about the meaning of this survey, or at least the trust ratings part of it (this is also the survey which found the two leading candidates in a statistical tie). But a poll is a snapshot of public opinion at a certain moment in time; it is defined by its limits. Allow me to draw some necessarily limited tactical lessons from the survey’s numbers on trust. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Politics

Column: We are not Obama’s America

After almost five months of inactivity (!), allow me to resume “blogging” (I have to put that in quotes) by first uploading the missing columns. There was none for February 9, on account of the first Inquirer presidential debate. The following piece was published on February 16, 2010.

Following in the self-critical steps of Amando Doronila, who gave the Inquirer presidential debate a negative review, allow me to criticize the contributed commentary of the controversial marketing executive Winston Marbella, which appeared on Monday’s front page. In the first place, an analyst ready to judge “the Internet and social networking sites” as the “technological weapons of choice” in the 2010 presidential election ought to leave some kind of trail online. Google his name and the name of the think tank he founded, however, and you get—links to Monday’s contributed commentary! Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Media, Readings in Politics

Column: One on one with Manny Villar

Published on December 1, 2009.
“Impunity” will not do. It does not translate well. It seems to me we need a better word to reflect, to evoke, the brazenness, the sheer shamelessness, the “kawalanghiyaan,” of the flagrant abuses committed, perpetrated, indulged in, by those who consider themselves untouchable.
I mean, does “culture of impunity” really capture the scale of the atrocity in the Ampatuan, Maguindanao, massacre? Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Rizal

Column: Reimagining Laguna and other suggestions

Published on October 20, 2009.

First, a suggestion that has nothing to do with the challenge of reconstruction. I caught the different news reports on the Catholic Mass Media Awards filed by the ABS-CBN and GMA networks last week, and was (again) disconcerted. As it had done in years past, each network focused only on the awards it received. With the exception of the special Serviam prize awarded posthumously to Cory Aquino, which each network dutifully reported on, the awards rite seemed to have taken place on parallel worlds.

Imagine my distress when I saw that my own newspaper treated the awards in the exact same way: writing only of those prizes we had received. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column

Column: Debating Manny Villar

Won’t Manny come out to play? Published July 21, 2009

In the circumstances, I think premature campaigning is not only permissible, but necessary. When the very possibility of regularly scheduled elections hangs in the balance, our democratic project needs all the help it can get. I have shared this view a number of times; the earliest was 18 months ago, in a column titled “In praise of electioneering.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column

Column: The 20-percent presidency

Published on May 26, 2009

When it comes to everyone’s favorite pastime—no, not watching the latest Hayden Kho sex video but handicapping favorites in the equally rough-and-tumble world of presidential politics—everybody has an opinion. But this emphatically does not mean that one man’s guess is as good as any other’s. I say this not simply because I have a vested interest in professional commentary and political journalism; I say this because certain factors are already in play, and opinion that does not take them into account is worse than useless.

Political facts, of course, may be read differently. In the interest of greater accountability, I would like to advance the following five theses, with which I propose to frame my reading of 2010. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column

Column: Kiko, Chiz, Amina, Candy — and consensus

Published on May 19, 2009

Fortune favors, not only the bold, but the foresighted. The decision of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan to contest the vice-presidency next year is no mere concession to survey realities; it is, in Ricoeurian terms, a consent to necessity. In other words, I don’t see it as a grudging acceptance but rather a welcome embrace of his present limits. It is also the most politically savvy strategy for taking Malacañang—not in 2010, but in 2016.

In the post-Marcos era, every elected vice president except for Salvador “Doy” Laurel has done very well politically: Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo succeeded the presidents they had served, and Emmanuel “Noli” de Castro, if surveys alone are the gauge, is poised to succeed to the highest office in 2010. Barring a Doy-like descent into self-destruction, therefore, the next vice president should be in prime position to contest the 2016 election.

To be sure, I still think it probable (and I think there is growing consensus on this) that De Castro will give way to the presidential ambition of his good friend Sen. Manuel Villar; like senators, the vice president can run for a second six-year term. That would pit him against Pangilinan—and Pangilinan’s celebrity wife.

* * * Continue reading


Filed under Newsstand: Column

Column: The vice-presidency is subtraction

Published on April 7, 2009

No, this is not an attempt to add to the literature of “warm spit”—the practice, begun by the Americans, of minimizing the importance of the second-highest office within the gift of the electorate. In the first place, John Nance Garner’s famous quip (the US vice presidency is not worth “a pitcher of warm spit,” he said) may have had some traction during his time as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second wheel; it does not apply to the United States today. Al Gore reinvented the office, and the imperial Dick Cheney used it as base to assert an over-aggressive executive.

Secondly, the charge of political irrelevance does not apply with as much force to Philippine politics. Even the famously self-effacing Sergio Osmeña continued to dominate Visayan politics under Manuel Quezon’s shadow. And ultimate political power was also always within sight. Since the Commonwealth era, six of the country’s 12 vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency: Osmeña, Elpidio Quirino, Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Continue reading


Filed under Newsstand: Column

Column: Worrying about the future

Published on March 3, 2009

In Cagayan de Oro City last Friday, a high school senior named Niku Tindugan asked me a blunt question during the first open forum of the day. Aren’t you worried (“Hindi ba kayo nag-aalala,” he asked in Filipino) that young people don’t read newspapers anymore? His question was echoed by a college editor during the second open forum I took part in (held this time at the busy atrium of the SM mall in the city), who asked what school newspaper editors should do to reach students who no longer read school newspapers.

The short answer: Yes, working journalists are worried. The worrying is hardly confined to the Philippines. Consider the case of a friend who works in risky Mexico; her husband is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, the venerable newspaper which may be shut down in a matter of days. “There are no words” to describe this reversal of fortune, she writes.

The long answer is, well, lengthy indeed: We worry, but we do not despair.

Despair, to quote a recent column of colleague Randy David’s, written in another context, is merely the other side of confusion. In the first place, the younger generations are still reading — mainly in other formats, of course, like Twitter and Facebook and by SMS, but like other information-processing generations they still require the hammer of news and the anvil of opinion to force the world into a recognizable shape. We — that is, “traditional” journalists — simply need to fill their need where they need it. Secondly, the decision-makers still read the newspapers, either in the traditional print format or in the now-tested online edition.

A blunt question deserves a blunt answer: A bright young kid like Niku may no longer read newspapers, but his teachers, his parents, the people in Cagayan de Oro who make decisions that reach all the way to his school and his home — they still read newspapers. Their reading helps shape the world Niku finds himself in. We can say this dynamic is part of the structure of Philippine reality. There is the critical few, and then there is the crucial many. Where, in five years’ time, does Niku see himself?

* * * Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column