Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the June 8, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.


Dear Señorito Noy,

I hope you don’t mind that I bring up a matter I find unbearably disturbing—your decision to retain  Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres at the cost of losing DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) Secretary Jose De Jesus.

Remember when you traded your old BMW for an almost new Porsche Carrera? Political considerations aside, I thought that was a damn good deal. It demonstrated your business acumen. It revealed a quality that will serve you well when your Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) program goes on stream. It reinforced my belief that I voted for the right candidate.

And then you made THAT decision. It made me wonder whether you could really tell quality from junk.

Señorito, Secretary De Jesus was a keeper. He is a Rolls Royce. You do not exchange a Rolls Royce for a clunker.

Imagine prospective PPP investors arriving for a look-see. I’m sure you will want to impress them, you will want them to see that they are dealing with a Class A partner, that the Philippines is a great place for business.

So you invite them to your Palace and give them a tour of the grounds and the garage. You show them the Porsche you got by trading up from a Beemer. They are impressed, as they should be. And then they see a rusty jalopy parked right next to the Porsche. What are you going to say when they ask, where is the Rolls and what is that rust-bucket doing in your garage?

Sus ginoo, Señorito, you have to wise up. There are people out there who don’t like you. And they are awash in cash and devoid of scruples. Don’t help them out by supplying them with ammunition to bring you down. A jalopy for a Rolls, shoot me please!

Can’t you see that you are in a Joseph Estrada situation? The similarities are eerie. Lakas Kampi and the Catholic Church are against you. Your vice president is also short, dark, ambitious, and a realist in the scary sense of the word. The only difference between your vice president and Estrada’s is that your veep will not do to you what Estrada’s veep did to him. Binay will simply wait for you to self-destruct. Soon, if you don’t wise up.

I remember a conversation with Jun Lozada at a victory party last year. Optimism was really thick that evening. But Lozada told me something that cut through the euphoria, “The true test for Noynoy will be how he will deal with his appointees when they stray from the straight and narrow .”

Señorito, the only obstacle blocking your enemies is the good-versus-evil archetype that stands on the good name of your parents, especially your mother’s. You were given the benefit of the doubt during the campaign. It’s now time to prove yourself worthy of your legacy.

I’ve heard you say many times that everyone must be given due process, most specially your enemies. Well and good. However, giving your appointees the same benefit of doubt that you give your enemies is not good. Why? Because you campaigned on good governance; you promised Daang Matuwid.

Your administration will be held to a different standard. That means you are expected to live or die by the smell test and not by the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt. That means you must demonstrate positive proof of integrity and propriety at all times.

Now be honest, did Virginia Torres pass the smell test or did all her crying and fainting make you forget you had a nose?

Anyway, it’s not too late to correct your mistake. Your Executive Secretary can still talk Torres into a graceful exit. He can promise her a job with San Jose Builders or the vice president’s office in exchange for her resignation.

I’m sorry for being entremetido. But I voted for you. Not only that, I may have also contributed in some small way to your victory. Remember “Villarroyo”? You’re welcome.

All I’m asking in return is for you to live up to your promise of good governance.


Deeply disappointed but still in the plantation,