I AM voting Jinggoy Estrada for senator for two compelling reasons: (1) my appreciation of his manifested legislative competence, and (2) as an act of my support for his father Joseph Estrada who was unjustly victimized by the elite-maneuvered power grab of 2001. However, I express disgust over his apparent exhortation before a mammoth crowd to vote LAKAS candidate Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. in case they're not inclined to vote Erap for President instead. Gibo, whose real nickname is "Gibby" by the way, may be a perfect picture of shallow qualifications but is a very poor choice in terms of patriotic executive service.
The "official" LAKAS standard-bearer seems on the outset a powerhouse of competence, much helped by his "Galing at Talino" presidential campaign packaging. He graduated top of his law class at the University of the Philippines, being even awarded with the Dean's Medal of Academic Excellence. He then topped the bar in 1989 with a score of 86.185%. In 1997, he obtained his Master of Law degree from Harvard Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. "Very cool" and "very unassuming" he was in college and apparently even up to now.
After graduation until 2007, Teodoro Jr. served as Congressman for Tarlac's First District. He was apparently so good he even became the Assistant Majority Leader in the 11th Congress. He passed quite a number of bills. Very impressive intelligence and performance as solon. 'Matalino' indeed he is. 'Magaling' he also is based on his legislative record.
In August 2007, "President" Gloria Arroyo appointed him Secretary of National Defense, remaining in that position until the administration LAKAS party drafted him as its standard-bearer for the presidential race come May 10, 2010. It is the executive branch record of "Gibby" a.k.a. Gibo that I find disconcerting.
No one is perfect but, to my humble mind, the endorsement of Gibo by Jinggoy is rather sick. The least the former DND Secretary should have done for his presidential race is declare loyalty to the country by showing independence from the Illegitimate President--something he adamantly refuses to do based on his ridiculous claim that he is bound to bestow loyalty to Arroyo as a way of observing the Filipino value of utang na loob (sense/feeling of gratitude or indebtedness). Doesn't it sound crazy to hear loyalty being professed in a company of thieves, cheaters, liars and simply, masters of impunity?
Gloria's Impunity Deserves No "Utang na Loob" from Gibo
Lest anyone forget, Gloria Arroyo--the object of Gibo's 'loyalty' has marked a legacy of immoral governance unparalleled in the entire history of the Philippine Islands. In her nine-year reign, she has been variously called unpalatable terms that anyone with even an iota of another Filipino used-to-be-cherished value of delicadeza would have found extremely repugnant. The widow of Fernando Poe Jr., the real victor during the 2004 elections, alluded to her as liar and thief and called her power grabber" not once but twice." Her own man, former NEDA Executive Director and CHED Chair Romulo Neri supposedly described her as "evil, with another even calling her a "lucky b_tch."
In late 2007, she was adjudged the "Most Corrupt President in Philippine History" during a nationwide survey. Lately, she's been described as responsible for greatly damaging the moral fiber of the nation. As the religious-clergy group Filipinos Sunday charged, Arroyo and her minions "lie and cheat with impunity," as ""No institution of our democratic system has been spared. No sector of society left unmolested. Long standing traditions have been violated."
Arroyo's also a constitutional violator, not limited to electoral fraud. Adding to her almost endless litany of corruption-laden deals was her entering into the multi-billion-peso Northrail Project without prior Monetary Board approval and the hugely scandalous-before=being-cancelled NBN-ZTE broadband project. Based from the 2005-2008 articles of unsuccessful impeachment proceedings, she also engaged in the misuse and abuse of presidential powers, including acts of the unconstitutional transfer of funds between government agencies, or from a government entity to political partisan projects.
Perhaps worst, from the perspective of human rights, is her conspiring and tolerating of extrajudicial killings that have victimized Filipinos from pretty much a broad spectrum of political colors. Even before the infamous Ampatuan massacre took place in late 2009, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines already described Arroyo's administration's legacy as one of "bloodshed and repression, its acts of omission and commission nurturing the impunity with which the enemies of press freedom have operated." As of 2009, the alternative media entity Bulatlat counts "more than 200 Filipinos--mostly activists--[who] have disappeared" under her reign. The most infamous of the desaparecido cases involve those of Jonas Burgos, son of Malaya founder and publisher, and University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Disrespect with people's lives, unfortunately, did not stop with the activists and critics. The height of impunity would come by way of the heinous mass murder of 57 individuals, including some 31 journalists and 26 women, children and other relatives and friends of the Ampatuan's rival clan of Mangadudatus on November 23, 2009. The Ampatuan massacre perhaps best symbolizes the callous, fraudulent rule of Gloria as the killing en masse actually ties to the 2004 travesty of the democratic process.
As revealed by the "Hello Garci" wiretapped evidence of 2004 electoral fraud, Arroyo spoke with former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over details of efforts to manipulate the outcome of the presidential race in her favor. Playing a critical role in the poll manipulation that deprived FPJ of his rightful place in Malacanang was the Ampatuan warlord clan of Maguindanao province. In the official vote tally, Arroyo's lead over opposition bet Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) in seven towns controlled by the Ampatuans had the incredible average ratio of 99.83% to 0.17%; in two towns, FPJ even got a near-impossible zero vote each, with all votes going to Arroyo.
To cut the long story short, why would any decent, morally upright, intelligent, be principled man feel indebted to a political creature like Arroyo--enough to swear unfaltering loyalty to the Illegitimate? If Teodoro Jr. were truly decent, really morally upright, and genuinely be principled, why does he feel he has to reciprocate his appointment as DND chief with unwavering loyalty undeterred by reports of Villar/Aquino as the incumbent's "secret candidate." Amidst Arroyo's wickedness, the utang na loob line definitely does not fly. Unless Gibo is wicked himself and secretly in on Arroyo's evil schemes.
Gibo's Culpability and Incompetence as DND Secretary
While it is true that Gibby alias Gibo joined Arroyo's government only in August 2007 and, therefore, he was not part and parcel of much of her reign of impunity, the official LAKAS standard bearer is not entirely free of culpability. The Ampatuan massacre, it should be noted, occurred in 2009, over two years after he assumed leadership of the Defense department. How is it that under his very nose, the Ampatuans managed to grow (or continued to grow) too powerful and confident enough to have the temerity to perpetuate such a heinous, big-scale crime?
Simplistic clan vendetta the massacre was not because no warlord would dare include 31 or so innocent media people in any mass killing--unless he is confident of political support from the national government. What is more, regional policemen were reportedly involved and that the mass grave was supposedly dug days before the mass murder. What was Gibo doing in all these--sleepin on the job? He might not be the chief of the Philippine National Police but with his military connections, he should have been aware somehow of the movements prior to the massacre.
In fact, beyond incompetence, Gibo could be liable for abetting and tolerating the abuses and crimes of the Ampatuans. Maguindanao's infamous warlord clan has long been well known to be operating a private army that includes deputized paramilitary members and have controlled the province and even the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The existence of private armies is directly the DND secretary's concern. While Arroyo probably nurtured Ampatuan's warlordism in 2004 or earlier as a way of securing guaranteed (translation: fraudulent) Maguindanao votes, Teodoro should have been able to address the problem pretty soon after getting the DND portfolio.
Obviously, Gibo failed to carry out his duties as defense secretary when the Ampatuans seemingly even became bolder when they committed the heinous Ampatuan massacre. Under the incompetent watch of the presidentiable who has built his campaign on the Galing at Talino slogan, the dreadful Maguindanao warlord clan utilized its paramilitary-powered private army to commit the worst crime ever wrought on journalists. According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, the Ampatuan massacre holds the record of having the greatest number of media people ever killed in a single day. .
Gibo's Ineptness as NDCC Chief
The Ampatuan massacre was not actually Gilbert Teodoro's first show of incompetence. Who among the less gullibles could really forget the ineptness of the National Disaster Coordinating Center, which he concurrently headed as DND chief, during the Ondoy typhoon tragedy last September 2009? How many lives could have been saved had the NDCC been prepared for such a contingency and acted more swiftly in its rescue efforts?
Amidst the pleas for help, the cries of despair and drowning deaths of many, it was primarily the non-governmental entities, the media people in particular, who supplanted Gibo's missing hand when they set out to rescue and assist the affected Filipinos during the crucial initial hours of the flooding. The feeling of the Metro Manilans during those early hours of the Ondoy disaster was one of helplessness--spurred by the marked absence of government.
Teodoro defended the late government response to the flash floods by reasoning that the country only had 13 rubber boats at that time. So where did the $1.9 million emergency response official development assistance (ODA) and $6.6 million disaster preparedness allotment that Gloria's government received in 2007 go? The LAKAS presidentiable may arguably not have had a say in the nearly $1 million and reconstruction relief and rehabilitation funds the government got in 2006 but what of the huge assistance funds around the time he took office?
Is the lack of rubber boats a case of disastrous ignorant planning by Gibo's NDCC team? How is it that the entire government pitifully only had 13 rubber boats when three years ago, the government already recognized the dangers of climate change as evidenced by its creation of the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change (PTFCC)? As quoted by Bulatlat.com, the PTFCC's creation was spurred by the recognition that the archipelago "is highly vulnerable to the adverse effects resulting from climate changes and has been experiencing unusual number of high-intensity typhoons that have wrought devastation and anguish to our people."
The need for more life boats in the face of the adverse impacts of climate change on our archipelagic country--is that so hard for Gibo to figure out? Or is it a case of misappropriation, if not corruption of funds sanctioned or even helped perpetuated by then-NDCC head Teodoro Jr.?
When Gibo's camp and his deluded partisans take pride in his Galing at Talino, it makes one wonder whether they're purely buying his campaign line. Did they even consider his entire track record in government service, which includes his performance in the executive branch under which the position he is aspiring for falls under? For the "silent" supporters of Gibo, it seems that his Galing at Talino packaging got the better of them such that they skipped the part on the former DND Secretary's gross ineptness in, if not culpability for, the Ondoy disaster and Ampatuan massacre.
Why Jinggoy's Endorsement
Instead of Gibo, perhaps Jinggoy should have recommended instead Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord Movement, or green advocate Nicky Perlas, or even outspoken and nationalist-inclined Jamby Madrigal? These three underestimated presidential contenders deserve more the coveted Malacanang position over that of Gibo in terms of being free of wicked Gloria's corruptive influence.
Then again, it is possible Jinggoy and Erap's camp is only wisely splitting the votes of strong rival presidential candidates Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino to ensure the deposed President's victory in the polls? Besides, to endorse Bro. Eddie instead of Gibo may be unwise because despite what the mainstream conditioning surveys say, Bro. Eddie, with his command vote provided by his organized and several-million-strong religious group, seems to be already a silent force to reckon with.
Another possibility is that despite the supposed falling out between Gibo and his uncle Danding Cojuangco, the former could just be serving as a link of sorts to the latter's protracted friendship with President Erap. Didn't the former president remark in a television interview that one thing he misses during the current presidential campaign as compared to the 1998 campaign is the presence and support of Danding?
The presidency is not just about shallow qualifications. To echo columnist Herman Tiu Laurel's argument, the presidency is, above all, governance fueled by "love for the people and standing by a firm conviction." Ideally, a conviction marked by "strong belief in his own cause to risk and actually suffer detention for it." Erap has shown his conviction and lover for the Filipinos, the masa in particular but Gibo, with his unfaltering loyalty to Gloria and dismal performance as DND/NDCC chief, has not.
At any rate, whether Gibo showed incompetence and/or corruption in preventing or handling in the Ondoy flooding and Ampatuan massacre, or whether he deserves Jinggoy's endorsement or not, it will not be good for the country to have another Cojuangco for president. Another Cojuangco--another member of an illustrado family, of Chinese variant though the family may be--being in a powerful position will represent not only the continued perpetration of political dynasties but, worse, continued elite control or influence on the reigns of power. During President Ferdinand Marcos' time, there was Gibo's first degree uncle, Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco as influential crony. Then with Marcos's ouster came President Corazon "Cory" Cojuangco Aquino, Danding's cousin. These two Cojuangco branches continue to be influential and rather powerful up to now. Then again, Noynoy Aquino of the Liberal Party, Cory's son, is also a Cojuangco.
The Cojuangcos, especially the Danding branch may be friends with the Estradas, in particular Erap, the "Father of the Masses." Jinggoy's support of sorts for Gibo (as alternative to a vote for Erap), however, does not bid well for the masa and the Filipino people in general. In short, a Teodoro Jr. could virtually spell another six years of the wicked Illegitimate's rule. No to Gibo please....
by Jesusa Bernardo
References & Images: SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES