Sison’s choice

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A statement attributed to Jose Ma. Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front and founding chair of the reestablished Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), describes President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as “vulnerable to criticism for her performance in office during the last more than three years.”

In comparison, the statement describes actor Fernando Poe Jr. as “vulnerable to outright rejection as someone totally lacking in intellectual preparation and political experience for the presidential position.”

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Lesser evils

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Fidel Ramos mouthed all the right reasons in arguing that Fernando Poe, Jr. should give way to Panfilo Lacson’s presidential ambitions. But he didn’t mention the real one.

Ramos did put foreign perceptions at the top of his list—he said the country needs a credible government when dealing with foreign organizations—but he also said the Philippines needs someone with experience. Lacson has had some, unlike Fernando Poe, Jr. To gain that experience, Poe could be vice president until 2010, by which time he could be better qualified for the presidency.

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Unity no guarantee of victory

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Although the prospects for a united front between Panfilo Lacson and Fernando Poe Jr. seem dim, neither has dismissed the possibility. Precisely for that purpose, Poe and Lacson were scheduled to meet yesterday, April 19, as this column was being written.

As befits a most critical time in the opposition’s prospects this May, the statements from both camps were cautiously upbeat. But there was no escaping the somber tone from Lacson, Poe’s more articulate coalition mates, and even former President Joseph Estrada.

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Wrong again

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The Fernando Poe Jr. candidacy was a mistake from the very start. It’s not so much because he could win, but because he could lose.

When Poe announced his candidacy last December, the whining and gnashing of teeth among the so-called intelligentsia of this country was loud enough to wake the dead. It was primarily because the A and B classes resident in Makati and suburbs assumed Poe’s victory. They thought that, with Poe declaring himself a candidate, it was all over except for the inauguration. They thus accepted the Estrada proposition that his kumpadre would beat Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo and, through the not-so-subtle use of presidential power, throw out the plunder charges against him. They also accepted the prediction by Poe’s other partisans that Poe would come to power on a crest of a tsunami of votes (an unfortunate metaphor suggesting that destruction would be its inevitable result).

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Condoleeza Rice’s metaphor of choice—there was no “silver bullet” that could have prevented the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States—was meant to dismiss critics’ claim that the Bush administration had been negligent. But it was also intended to ridicule Richard Clarke.

Testifying April 8 before the independent US Congressional commission looking into the 2001 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center that claimed over 3,000 lives, National Security Adviser Rice was taking an indirect dig at the former counter-terrorism adviser of the Bush administration.

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The anti-terrorist card

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President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says that the opposition “must never make terrorism a political issue,” and she is absolutely correct—if by this statement she means that the opposition groups should not be making political capital out of terrorism.

If the opposition is to be believed, however, it is Mrs. Arroyo who’s making political capital out of it.

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