The first Miting de Avance of the 2007 election season was held at the Makati Polo Club last night, which was abuzz with people at a book launching.
Loren Legarda, Legacy and Vision, seems to me an apt title for the front-runner, and according to the Social Weather Stations, almost certainly the topnotcher of the coming 2007 Senatorial race which would repeat her feat in 1998. Loren's been through a bruising lot the last eight years since she gave up a wildly successful career as broadcast journalist with ABSCBN News and got elected to the Senate in 1998 on the Lakas ticket. She was already the Senate Majority Leader by the time she ran for Vice President with Fernando Poe Jr. in the ill-fated 2004 elections, and lost to Noli de Castro. Needless to say, Civil Society was aghast when Loren ran with Evil Society in 2004. But given the things that Gloria has done to the country since 2001, things are not so black-and-white anymore on that score. Now, she picks herself up from that defeat, and with a voice that last night rang with verve and vitality I have not heard for a long time, she comes again for the people's blessing to lead. Perhaps it is arguable that Loren Legarda's "legacy" is already complete. Her "vision" is far more important now as she stands on the brink of Round 2. For most of her legacy, in my opinion, is yet to be accomplished as the work of the future. Loren Legarda is herself, a work in progress. Presently in her mid forties, Loren Legarda will be a big part of Philippine politics.
Nowhere in sight was Tony Leviste, who has been out of Loren's life for almost two years, as most people in the know, know. But two weeks ago, Loren made the good news of his exeunt about as official as possible, by having a heart-to-heart talk with Korina Sanchez on her show and saying so, (hinting that the latter may have reason for heart-to-heart talks herself in a few years!) He was the worst thing to happen to Loren. I'm glad the scoundrel is out.
Fidel V. Ramos, who asked her to join the Lakas Senatorial ticket in 1998, came late for the obligatory photo-op. But he was definitely in Opposition territory.
Edgardo Angara, whose party machinery may not be able to help him get re-elected (he's not doing well in the polls), will surely be at the able service of Loren. Next to Lakas, Edja has the best organized, and well-manned political party around in the LDP, albeit wracked by dissension with Ping Lacson (who wasn't there either).
I sat next to my gaoler in 1972, Juan Ponce Enrile then Marcos' Defense Secretary, now a Senator. We discussed at some length the Anti-Terror Bill he's been shepherding, which has now passed the Senate on Third Reading and will hopefully be signed into Law this year. He's been having a firefight with Senators Nene Pimentel and Jamby Madrigal over the legislation, but it does seem to have made it through. Anti-terrorism legislation has been held up by the Opposition on the grounds that the definition of terrorism in it is so vague that there is great potential for the abuse of human and civil rights. I think the latter must be granted, and that is why, Manong Johnny seems to have liked the point I made to him that the formation of a special Court to handle national security issues (like the FISA Court in the U.S. ) is the useful and necessary innovation. Inasmuch as terrorist strategy and tactics are evolving and changing rapidly in the current world situation, it won't do to require metaphysical precision in defining terrorism or its related elements. We can only hope to do so in a general manner. But having a special Anti-terrorism Court or Council is important to preserving civil liberties without tying the hands of lawful authorities to go after the nihilists. Manong Johnny said, with some regret I thought, that their bill assigns such judicial review to the Regional Trial Courts!
Then, guess who plops down in front of us but Senator Dick Gordon, which got the conversation going on election automation. Dick says the Senate has passed a bill on Third Reading for the 2007 elections to feature pilot testing of automated elections. I haven't seen the details so I'm not sure how good this is. More later...but I did ask him what he thought about the fracas with PCGG. He expressed confidence that the Supreme Court would rule in the Senate's favor, citing the evident dissonance between the claimed absolute immunity of PCGG in Executive Order No. 1 and constitutional government. I think he may be right, but stranger things have happened in a year when a mere Ombudsman can effectively over-rule the Supreme Court. What's that compared to a mere committee of the Senate?
I also had a long conversation with former Senator Kit Tatad about chacha. We went over most of the talking points on amendment versus revision, voting separately or together, people's initiative, Con-Ass and the rest of it. Senator Nene Pimentel was in attendance, along with Juan Flavier, who used to have a radio program with Enrile called "Juan on Juan."
An old friend from the Sixties, Nelson Navarro, was also at the Polo Club, fresh from another sojourn abroad, this time to Beijing where he says my aging Communist comrades, Chito Sta. Romana (ABC-TV News) and Jaime Flor Cruz (CNN Beijing Bureau chief) send greetings. Right. Give my regards to Kim Jong Il.