Beyond fraud


(unpublished column)

Forty percent of Filipinos, says an SWS survey commissioned by the opposition, believe that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will cheat in behalf of her candidates this May. Twenty percent don’t think so, but another 35 percent aren’t sure–which means that they’re entertaining the possibility that she would. Together with the conviction among some 60 to 70 percent of Filipinos that Mrs. Arroyo should either resign or be ousted from office, these figures look like a record among all the people who have occupied Malacanang since 1946.

The belief that the regime will cheat is rampant among Filipinos. The SWS survey merely confirms the validity of anecdotal evidence culled from conversations with taxi drivers, students, and fishwives. It is based on Mrs. Arroyo’s basement level credibility, which is itself based on what the public knows about the 2004 elections. Continue reading

Power without virtue


In 1966 the late US Senator J. William Fulbright used the term “the arrogance of power” to explain what he thought was driving the US war in Vietnam, and described it as a tendency “to equate power with virtue.”

In Vietnam then as in Iraq today, the United States was using its vast military power against the guerillas of the National Liberation Front (the Vietcong) in the name of defending freedom and establishing democracy in a country Fulbright said had no traditions in either. Fulbright doubted whether the US would succeed, and he turned out to be correct. The US lost the war in Vietnam in 1975. Continue reading



The latest executive order from the only (putative) president so far who’s succeeded in making Joseph Estrada and even Ferdinand Marcos look good establishes a national security clearance for government personnel with access to classified information. EO 608 was signed last Friday, April 20.

That was the same date on which the OFW group Migrante International released a request from Malacanang’s Office of External Affairs Special Concerns Group for funds to finance a project to cut the votes of anti-regime party list groups, and to boost those of Palace-sponsored ones. Continue reading



The darling of the hour is boxer Manny Pacquiao, whose April 15 defeat of Mexico’s Jorge Solis might just reverse the negative reaction his decision to run for Congress had been getting. Pacquiao now claims that those who had earlier frowned on his entering politics have changed their mind; they’d like nothing better than to see him in the House.

And why not ? Pacquiao has been hailed as a hero, a unifying force among Filipinos, and even as a “shining light” whose “spirit is the spirit of the Filipino.” Continue reading

The OK of the FG


Everyone except his lawyers assumes that presidential spouse Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo is a public figure. There’s an “Office of the First Gentleman,” for one thing, which an effusive Philippine News Agency article insists is “also popularly known as the Opisina ng Kabiyak (OK).”

The same article, written sometime in 2001 and still on the Office of the Press Secretary’s website ( declares that “since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed the highest post of the land last Jan. 20 (2001), First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo has buckled down to work to assist the new administration in the delivery of various services to the people.” Continue reading