His Master’s Voice

Buencamino writes political commentary for Acton for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror May 9, 2007 edition, p. A6.

Dear fellow sheep,

A few Sundays ago, our shepherd, Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, wrote an election-related pastoral letter addressed to us, his flock in the archdiocese of Manila.

He told us:

“In the past, enormous sufferings resulted from political ambitions, maneuvers and group adventurism resulting in the country’s poor becoming even poorer.

“Pray for guidance because God may softly suggest in prayer that this time what the country needs are moral, humble and repentant trustworthy leaders who can lead and move the country closer to its vision.”

Our shepherd used “repentant” so I did not look at Mrs. Arroyo’s six-year record. I looked only at her record from April 2007 because repentance, they say, comes at the end.

This is what I saw in the past 30 days:

1. Gloria Arroyo left her husband’s bedside to go to China to witness the signing of a shady multibillion-peso deal between the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) and a Chinese company.

The deal, exposed by Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc, is overpriced by over a hundred million dollars and breaks the Omnibus Election Code, the e-Procurement Law, the Build-Operate-and-Transfer Act, and the Telecoms Development Act.

2. Ricky Carandang of ANC reported a multi-billion peso deal involving PNCC (Philippine National Construction Company) and Radstock, a company that bought, at about a penny for every dollar, a debt previously repudiated by PNCC and which PNCC, with a sudden change of heart fully backed by Mrs. Arroyo, will now pay in full plus interest accrued.

3. Economic managers talked about raising taxes once again because the vaunted “fiscal discipline” of Mrs. Arroyo went out the window when she spent, in the three months preceding this election, almost all the projected budget deficit for the entire year.

By the way, Mrs. Arroyo can easily bridge the deficit gap without raising taxes if she reins in the smuggling activities of some very well-known smugglers and their padrino.

4. Mike Defensor and Miguel Zubiri campaigned illegally in Hong Kong; de facto Justice Secretary Gonzalez promised 10 thousand pesos and Gov. Chavit Singson 50 thousand amulets to barangays who are able to deliver a 12-0 TUTA vote; Lakas gave out 100 thousand peso accident insurance cards; and soldiers claimed they were instructed by their superiors to campaign and vote for TUTA and administration party-list groups.

Mrs. Arroyo’s handpicked Comelec Chairman did not act on the above cases of illegal campaigning, vote buying, and electioneering. Instead he raged against illegal campaign posters, disqualified but kept the name of Juju Cayetano on the ballot, and tried his best to conceal the identity of party-list nominees from the public.

That’s the political machinery and command votes Mrs. Arroyo has been bragging about.

5. Palace spokesman Ignacio Bunye told us Mrs. Arroyo had nothing to do with the preventive suspension order on Makati mayor Jejomar Binay six days before an election he is expected to win.

Bunye also said Mrs. Arroyo had nothing to do with the freeze on the bank accounts of Makati and the personal bank accounts of Mayor Binay.

Over the weekend, Mrs. Arroyo deferred the suspension and lifted the freeze on the bank accounts.

We are supposed to believe Mrs. Arroyo ordered the retreat but not the attack.

6. Mike Arroyo dropped his libel cases against more than 40 journalists after his near-death experience made him see “the light.”

Actually, he saw the lights go out when the judge in his libel case against former solicitor general Frank Chavez threw out his contention that he was not a public figure.

The judge’s decision, to use another metaphor, cut the legs from all of Arroyo’s lawsuits. He and his lawyers would have had to go to court on those skateboards used by crippled beggars.

I think Mike’s offer of a handshake is really an offer to do something else that randy boys do with their hands.

7. Speaking of libel and character defamation: Malacañang  tried to stop the airing of the Genuine Opposition’s (GO’s) political ads on corruption by threatening libel suits.

Meanwhile, it said nothing against the airing of ads shouting invectives and insults at GO by a TV station owned by Ramon Jacinto, a former brother-in-law of Mike Arroyo.

8. Human rights violations continued unabated; a nine-year-old girl became collateral damage in an encounter between the AFP and the NPA; the son of journalist Joe Burgos was abducted; and the phone of former president Corazon Aquino was bugged.

I don’t know what God tells our shepherd but I will never believe He softly suggested the following statements:

“What is happening in the Arroyo regime today is so tiny it is a mere speck of the human rights abuses committed then under Marcos.”

And,

“The truth is GMA is not the only president linked to corruption. There are bigger, bigger fishes. That is why I’m interested in the whole truth. This is only piecemeal.”

That voice came from somewhere else.

The sad thing is our shepherd is not the only one who listens to that other voice.  Cerge Remonde, a member of Mrs. Arroyo’s Shepherds and Malacañang Dining Club said, “Among the 200 bishops in the Philippines, only five are critical of her.”

Maybe most shepherds really believe what Gloria has never tired of shouting into everyone’s ear, “I am here now because that is the plan of God for me and for us.”  This lamb does not believe God is crazy.

I have yet to see any signs of morality, humility, repentance, trustworthiness, and vision from Mrs. Arroyo and her minions, so I will not heed our shepherd’s soft suggestion to vote for Gloria’s candidates.

Besides, I’m allergic to the smell of sulfur.

Your unsilenced lamb,
MB

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