Posts Tagged ‘Teodoro’

Justice Secretary Alberto “Al” Agra decided last Friday, April 16, to clear of any liability in connection with the Maguindanao massacre ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and cousin Akmad Ampatuan Sr., mayor of Mamasapano town in Maguindanao. Using the least believable defense–alibi–as basis, he threw out the direct testimony of a witness, the various circumstantial evidences pointing to an Andal Ampatuan family conspiracy, and the law books on the meaning of probable cause.

Understandably, all–including his own prosecutors–condemned his decision. The only remaining question is why. Why did he issued it in the first place? Why last friday and not anywhen else? Why risk a life-long reputation and become a legal pariah?

The only viable context to view his outlandish decision is the 2010 elections. Because we are talking here of the Ampatuan clan, the personal friends of president Macapagal-Arroyo’s family. Of the hard-fought presidential battle and the losing presidential bid of GMA’s candidate(s?).  Of Maguindanao, the notorious nest of election cheaters and Garcillano when he was a fugitive.

What is happening in the Maguindanao in the 2010 elections? The Ampatuans, after the massacre, conveniently hid their candidacies behind other candidates, notably that of governatorial candidate Datu Ombra Sinsuat. Rumors had it that it was DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno, architect of the Maguindanao state of emergency–existing until today–who paved the way for this transfer.

However, there were reports that the Ampatuans do not want to lose power and they are highly suspicious of the move to the Sinsuats which can be interpreted as a real power transfer and their demise as the political overlords of Maguindanao and even of the ARMM. Last month, the old man, Andal Ampatuan, Sr., called for a loyalty meeting of his candidates in his cell in the Davao City army camp

The meeting happened at a time when the two major survey outfits, Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia, indicated a widening gulf between the front-runner, Noynoy Aquino and his closest rival, Manny Villar. These also indicated the end of the realistic bid for victory of Gibo Teodoro’s candidacy.

In this meeting, he outlined an electoral strategy for the 2010 elections aimed at ensuring victory for his candidates and, significantly, for presidential candidate Manuel Villar. His main rival, Esmael “Toto” Mangungudatu–whose wife and relatives were among those massacred earlier–was aligned with Secretary Gibo Teodoro and, possibly later, with Noynoy Aquino.

Basically, the strategy revolves on using his controlled areas in Maguindanao and elsewhere to deliver overwhelming votes to his candidates. If rumors are to be believed, this would mean the old method of ballot substitution and ballot-stuffing of the PCOS machines, or the forcible reversion to the manual election system. In both cases, the vaunted–and largely still-existing–Ampatuan armed group will be used to intimidate all those participating in local polls within their controlled areas. Maguindanao now has a 600,000+ registered voters, up from 500,000+ in the 2007 elections.

Of course, the problem is how to ensure loyalty and supervise the execution of the strategy–all the key Ampatuan leaders are in jail! Simple. Then get them out of jail!

This is where the cat got out of the bag. The role of the hapless Mr. Agra is to be a fall guy in a multi-billion, multiple stakes political game. Somebody had to get the Ampatuans out–his was the role assigned by the hard-boiled political strategists.

However, the a second cat got out of the bag–that is, the link between the Arroyos and the Villar candidacy. So far, this political resurrection of the Ampatuan is the clearest circumstantial evidence of the link. This is a real link, if only because of the risks involved in this desperate act.

The 2010 elections is now joined–the Aquino-led people’s coalition against the Villarroyo-led disparate coalition of  the Marcoses, the Sisonites, the military rebels and the hard-core trapos. Is this the August 2009 people power scenario. Yes, it may be.

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In short order, alleged Abu Sayyaf gunmen carried out attacks in Basilan, Malacañang announced a possible spill-over of the violence to Metro Manila, and a bomb attack was done against a Manila judge. there are also troop movements to Basilan, Masbate, and elsewhere where various areas are considered election hotspots.

These events are happening against the backdrop of dramatic events in the presidential electoral contest. Two authoritative surveys (actually three, if we add the last Zamora-commissioned SWS survey) during the third week of March indicated, one, the continued strengthening of Noynoy Aquino’s leading position; two, the dramatic  downshift of second-placer Manny Villar’s ratings; three, Erap Estrada’s rating upsurge; and four, Gibo Teodoro’s continuing dismal single-digit placing.

Teodoro resigned as Lakas-Kampi chairman, followed by his president and secretary-general (although Manglapus later rerturned as president), the defection to LP of Lakas-Kampi stalwarts such as congressman Neptali Gonzales and Albay governor Joey Salceda, and threats of others to likewise defect to LP and NP.

The terrorist incidents are suspicious in their role in possible no-election or election-cheating scenarios. They justify military control of specific places that are not only considered hotspots but also as possible areas for election manipulation.

We have now entered the cusp of the electoral campaign–a transition point where dreams are realized, fortunes are made, and the strategies are proven correct or wrong. The administration party is clearly the loser entering the transition, facing the loss of more members, dismal ratings for its candidate, and carrying the heavy load of its leader’s unprecedented unpopularity.

The Arroyos particularly face the nightmare of having no viable friendly candidate, including even the rumored “Villarroyo” card. Extra-constitutional or supra-electoral moves become a tempting, desperate option. It is within this context that the resurgent terror-counterterror activities must be viewed. BEWARE, BEWARE, BEWARE.

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The Lakas-Kampi campaign for Gibo Teodoro has just been re-launched…with only a month left of the 90-day national campaign. The reported release of the pork barrel for Lakas-Kampi legislators (and presumably for Gibo’s and Edu’s campaigns) underscored the vigorous protestations from Malacañang against the loud rumors of a “Villarroyo” tandem. This came after Gibo Teodoro resigned suddenly from the chairmanship of Lakas-Kampi with the excuse of concentrating on his own campaign.

Malacañang moves smacked of a panicky reaction to the developing reality that people are starting to believe the “Villarroyo” tale. Unfortunately, the reaction also tends to prove the veracity of the tale.

It has been the talk for some time that Gibo’s campaign is going nowhere. It was publicly–if indirectly–alluded to when Edu’s campaign manager complained of lack of funds for the latter’s campaign. There were also reports that local Lakas-Kampi officials close to the Arroyos were blocking the distribution and posting of his posters and that they are campaigning openly for Villar, dining and escorting him in his sorties, and eventually proclaiming their loyalty to his candidacy.

The public acceptance of the Villarroyo tale has a disastrous effect on Villar’s trek to the presidency. Both the SWS and the Pulse Asia surveys showed an arrested growth, and then a sharp drop, putting Villar within hitting distance–not of the front-leading Noynoy Aquino but of the third-placer Erap Estrada. Suddenly, he is vulnerable.

Malacañang’s frenzied, very public attempts to portray its support for Gibo (after a studied distancing for so long) is a little too late and may prove to be too little to offset the forming conclusion of the “Villarroyo” tale in the voters’ minds. The  GMA kiss of death or “touch of death”–already killing the administration candidacy of Gibo Teodoro–is paralyzing the Villar campaign. Worse, it is about to kill Malacañang’s own presidential electoral options.

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The resignation of erstwhile Lakas-Kampi presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro as party chairman, Sarangani Gov. Rene Miguel Dominguez as party president, and Francis Xavier Manglapus as party secretary-general are not surprising. That it took this long for them to do so is the surprise.

When Gibo Teodoro considered running last year, he was assured by the then GMA-led party leadership that he will have all the financial and logistical requirements he needs. In return, he made the politically-suicidal pledge that he will run only with the endorsement of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

That open pledge doomed him in the surveys–he never reached double-digit approval rating up to now. Belatedly realizing this during the party’s merger convention, the party had the president resign her chairmanship and thus give Gibo a “free hand” to form his own team.

Alas, it also gave GMA a free hand to choose her candidate. From mere rumors since last year, the news of a “secret GMA candidate” started circulating furiously since January this year. Then, it began to gain ground when whispers of money drought in the Lakas-Kampi camp started circulating in February.

Edu Manzano indirectly confirmed this when his campaign manager  complained of a lack of the promised funds. This March, a flurry of defection by close GMA allies such as the Zubiris and Chavit Singson hit the party. Then reports came in of Gibo campaign posters being blocked by Lakas LGUs at the local level as well as their consorting with Manny Villar. The cat is going out of the bag!

This laid the ground for today’s announcements. A real crisis is before Lakas-Kampi. Will the president prove this to be false by pouring massive funds to the Gibo campaign or will she prove this true by inviting Villar to a party?

This Holy Week, Gibo’s campaign is in calvary.

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We are now about to start the formal election period on January 10. A gun ban is supposed to be imposed, the Comelec general instructions have been issued, the first shipments of the automated PCOS machines have arrived, and we have finished with the Supreme Court-ordered extended election registration.

The 2010 presidential elections promises to be a two- or three-cornered fight between Senator Noynoy Aquino, Senator Manny Villar, and, legal challenges permitting, former president Erap Estrada. The ruling coalition’s candidate, former Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro still has to demonstrate his capability to attract a more substantial percentage of the electorate to become a serious contender for the post.

The fears regarding the fatal delays or game-ending obstacles to the first automated elections have so far remained unfounded. What happened were delays or obstacles that ate up the reserved time of the implementation. We can still look forward to the nationwide automated elections.

What is actually alarming is the lack of clearcut transparency in the behavior of the Comelec regarding implementation of the automated election system. Most of the delays and the corresponding reasons were not publicly reported until the media scooped these up. Even the Comelec Advisory Council found it hard to elicit information on the specifics of the implementation and is effectively cut off from the implementation even if it is a member of the Steering Committee. Its own recommendations expressed in the CAC resolution last October 2009 on transparency in the implementation of the automated election system remain unacted up to this time. Effectively, it is the Comelec’s Project Management Office (PMO) that runs the whole show.

The basis for doubt about the credibility of the automated election system and its results–including that for the presidential contest–exists. As long as there is this doubt, the 2010 elections is in danger of suffering the same fate as the 2004 elections. It will exact a very high political price on the democratic system.

There is therefore a rising need to invoke people power to defend the credibility of the electoral process–or, if there is the certainty of electoral fraud–to exercise sovereign democratic power to defend democracy. Increasingly, the people will be called upon to ensure that, in the 2010 elections, the people’s will is supreme.

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