Tonypet J. Rosales | Editor
IT APPEARS the most bloated government department—the Communications Group PNoy—simply can’t get the job done. To arrest the President’s sagging image, the administration is bringing more people into the fray, a move that could spark new hostilities between the Samar and Balay groups in Malacanang.
Since 2010, despite an awesome PR machinery, Malacanang never really got a hold of the public relations game. A series of missteps, snafus, blunders and miscommunications (beginning with the mishandling of the Luneta hostage incident involving a tour bus filled with Chinese nationals) have kept the President’s team of spokespersons and speechwriters busy fending off critics.
On Tuesday, a newspaper report by that the Palace is in “PR crisis mode”, hiring the services of a foreign pollster and political strategist to help reinvent the image of the President after the government’s net approval ratings plummeted to a record low.
The report said a crisis management team under Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. (Samar Group) and a political strategy team under Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas (Balay Group) has been activated to help refurbish PNoy’s image which has taken hit after hit since assuming the presidency in 2010.
A Palace source said Roxas is bringing back one Paul Bograd, the political strategist said to be responsible for Mar’s “Mr. Palengke” brand which made the DILG secretary No. 1 senator back in 2004. Bograd’s assignment: to fix PNoy’s image which suffered massively because of the Supreme Court’s adverse ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
On the other hand, Ochoa has made changes in the Palace media group starting with the appointment of Presidential Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma as presidential spokesperson taking the place of Edwin Lacierda who is identified with Mar’s Balay group.
Ochoa is also said to have reactivated members of the Samar group involved in the 2010 campaign, including television director and PNoy cousin Maria Montelibano. Montelibano served as head of Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) during the time of President Cory Aquino and was also the designated point-person for media in Noynoy’s 2010 campaign.
While Bograd’s appointment can be considered a slap in the face of Secretary Coloma, observers believe that recent turn of events is symptomatic of a leadership breakdown in Malacanang. The administration is slowly falling apart and may eventually cost the ruling Liberal Party (LP) the 2016 presidential elections.
Seed of Discord
The conflict between the Samar and Balay group started shortly after Mar Roxas lost the vice presidency to Jojo Binay. Balay is the the group that met regularly at the residence of Roxas and its core is composed of the LP leadership together with the Black and White Movement and Ronald Llamas’ Akbayan. Samar Avenue in Quezon City is where Montelibano’s media bureau and Ochoa’s legal team held fort. PNoy sisters Pinky and Ballsy and Sonny Belmonte also regularly joined the Samar meetings.
The difference between the two groups emerged when Balay members started blaming Samar for the emergence of the winning NoyBi (Noynoy-Binay) tandem. In 2010, Mar’s presidential candidacy was floundering (he was usually ranked 4th in the ratings) and things looked up only after he gave way to Aquino and ran for vice president instead.
However, in the last weeks before the elections, Binay eventually caught up with Mar in the ratings.
From sure winner, Roxas became a pathetic loser. The two camps exchanged barbs blaming each other for Mar’s loss with Balay—despite the polls—claiming the Binay win as a fluke. The seed of discord had already planted as early as 2010.
The latest polls showing the President’s net satisfaction ratings at an all-time low, forced both the Samar and Balay groups to reactivate their crisis management teams. The Palace is in panic and by racing to save the President and effect a quick turnaround—Pnoy and company could find himself in even deeper trouble.
Mar’s panic is understandable because his chance of becoming the LP standard bearer and winning the presidency in 2016 is directly proportional to PNoy’s pop ratings. If PNoy crashes and burns, Roxas might as well kiss his presidential aspirations goodbye.
Palace insiders say Ochoa is concerned with the way the LP has handled the DAP issue. The August 23, 2013 speech of the President defending the DAP was reportedly the idea of Roxas who managed to convince PNoy to deliver the speech on primetime television despite Ochoa’s protests.
“Ochoa believes the (Senate President Franklin) Drilon and (Budget Secretary Butch Abad are dragging the President down with them,” the Palace source said.
Abad is the architect of the DAP which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Drilon—who failed on his promise to scrap the Senate pork—tried to make up for his failure with an attempt to salvage the impounded money by circumventing the TRO issued by the SC by having the funds declared as “savings” that the President can use in the event of a calamity. Drilon’s antics reportedly did not sit well with House Speaker Belmonte.
The situation has become a fight for the Aquino-Cojuangco clan’s life that even the “First Bunso” Kris has been put to active PR service.
Kris’ strategy jumps off from PNoy’s recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) where the camera cuts away to the gallery and catches the “Queen of All Media” wiping off her tears as her PNoy mouths off the sacrifices of their parents Cory and Ninoy in his impassioned speech.
On August 1, on the occasion of Cory Aquino’s 5th death anniversary, Kris even hinted on the potential martyrdom of PNoy. “He [Noynoy] can’t do it on his own. We need to stand by him and give him strength. Please pray with us also that he stays alive,” Kris told guests after the Holy Mass at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.
Kris, of course, was alluding to PNoy’s mentioning in his SONA of certain “dark forces” that were supposedly out to get him. While much of what makes the Aquino dynasty great has something to do with death, the idea of President Aquino dying to achieve a PR bonanza is totally out of the question.
If PNoy dies, then Vice President Binay becomes President defeating the whole purpose of initiating an ambitious PR mode to save PNoy’s neck and the LP from a public hanging.
What remains clear is that the scenario in the Palace remains as chaotic as ever with the administration content in plugging loopholes and providing band-aid solutions to the country’s problems. Common sense dictates that it is never wise to have two captains run a PR ship.
Right now, PNoy and company appear secure and safe—just like the passengers of the Titanic.
By the OpinYon Research Team
Are members of President Benigno S. Aquino’s family of officials serving the interests of the country? Some in the President’s cabinet are loyal to the country. Some are likely serving business interests, like Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert Ferreros del Rosario and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.
In the case of Almendras, his alliance with Senator Sergio Osmeña on the energy crisis that the country is facing is an open secret. Almendras, former DOE head until his transfer to his current post as cabinet secretary, is known to be the inside guy of the Aboitiz business group, while Sen. Osmeña is married to a Lopez sibling. Both Aboitiz and the Lopezes are big players in the power sector.
Almendras and Osmeña, despite their pro-people posturings, fail to fool the people of their true color. But at least, they have not led us to an almost shooting war with a superpower.
In the case of del Rosario, OpinYon brings you back to 2012, when we almost went to war against China. Here, the OpinYon research team picks up a “secret” leak sent to us.
The Scarborough Incident
Last April 2012, tensions arose around Scarborough Shoal when Philippine Navy and Coast Guard vessels had a stand-off with Chinese Marine Surveillance vessels.
Although the situation eventually normalized after a couple of months, the fiery exchange of rhetoric between the two countries continue. Leading the charge on the side of the Philippines is none other than its Foreign Affairs head, Secretary Albert del Rosario.
While Sec. del Rosario reaped praises for his patriotic stance against a rising superpower, information about his true motives, however, started leaking out.
What is Sec. del Rosario’s true agenda? Is he truly a patriot?
In a meeting in Malacañang sometime in early May 2012, Secretary del Rosario was asked by President Aquino, who authorized the trip of Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) to China to talk to Chinese officials?
Secretary del Rosario owned up to the responsibility when he said that he “sort of encouraged Pangilinan to go and open another channel to China through the private sector since the political channel has failed.”
However, instead of talking to Chinese officials to defuse the situation in Scarborough Shoal, MVP talked to the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) officials to pursue personal business interests. His report to the President is detailed in the following Aide Memoire:
Manny V. Pangilinan is the chairman of Philex Mining, which owns 65 percent of Philex Petroleum, which in turn owns 60.49 percent of Forum Energy.
Forum Energy owns 70 percent of the Service Contract 72, a seven-year exploration contract in the Reed Bank awarded by the Philippine government in 2010. By August 2013, it is committed to dig two wells in Sampaguita under its work program with the government.
Based on the estimate of Forum Energy PLC in 2011, the Sampaguita field contains 2.6 trillion cubic feet of contingent in place gas resource and 5.5 TCF of prospective in place gas resource.
The Del-Rosario-MVP Connection
Sec. Albert del Rosario has been involved in companies run by MVP, being director of the Philippine First Pacific Co. (Hong Kong), PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk, the largest food company in Indonesia; Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Philex Mining Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp., Manila North Tollways Corp. and ABC Development Corp.
Sec. del Rosario has headed the development of Pacific Plaza Towers, Metro Pacific Corp.’s signature project. He is said to have introduced Pangilinan to the Salim family of Indonesia, which is behind First Pacific.
MVP as chairman and chief executive officer of Philex Mining Corp, owns 74.79 percent of Philippines Petroleum Corp. Philex Petroleum owns 64.45 percent of Forum Energy Plc. (FEP), an oil and gas exploration company incorporated in the United Kingdom with focus on the Philippines.
Forum Energy has secured a two-year extension from the original deadline of August 2013 for its work program under Service Contract 72 in light of the territorial dispute between Philippines and China.
In December 2012, DOE announced that it has deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs the decision to grant permits concerning the exploration and drilling activities at the highly contested Recto (Reed) Bank because the area was part of the disputed waters being claimed by China.
In short, the go signal for the drilling activities of MVP’s Forum Energy lies in the hands of his best friend, Secretary Albert del Rosario.
(SOURCE: http://business.inquirer.net/104849/oil-drilling-group-gets-2-year-extension; http://www.interaksyon.com/business/50708/doe-serves-notice-that-oil-gas-projects-in-contested-territories-would-face-delays)
Why is MVP, through Sec. del Rosario, delaying the exploration drilling of Service Contract 72?
Sec. del Rosario is using the tension in Scarborough Shoal as a pretext to suspend the exploration drilling of SC 72. However, in light of the fact that the situation in Scarborough has normalized, plus the fact that MVP’s Forum Energy is in partnership with CNOOC of China, then obviously this is not the true reason for the delay.
What now is the real reason for the delay?
Findings of US Energy Information Administration
Several countries have overlapping territorial claims to portions of the South China Sea, which stretches from Singapore in the southwest to Taiwan in the northeast. The Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands are two of the most contested areas (see dark blue islands on map above). However, unlike other parts of the South China Sea, these areas have not been assessed to hold large (conventional) resources of oil and natural gas. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, ownership of habitable islands can extend the exclusive access of a country to surrounding energy resources.
EIA’s analysis shows that most fields containing discovered oil and natural gas are clustered in uncontested parts of the South China Sea, close to shorelines of the coastal countries, and not near the contested islands. Industry sources suggest almost no oil and less than 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves exist in fields near the Spratly Islands. The Paracel Island territory has even less natural gas and no oil.
(SOURCE: US Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10651)
In addition to proved and probable reserves, the South China Sea may have additional hydrocarbons in underexplored areas. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2012 that about 12 billion barrels of oil and 160 trillion cubic feet of natural gas might exist as undiscovered resources in the South China Sea, excluding the Gulf of Thailand and other adjacent areas. About one fifth of these resources may be found in contested areas, particularly in the Reed Bank at the northeast end of the Spratly Islands, which is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These additional resources are not considered commercial reserves at this time; extracting them may not be economically feasible.
(SOURCE: US Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10651)
Based on the above, it is clear that it is in the interest of business partners, MVP and Sec. del Rosario, to delay the drilling in SC72 (Reed Bank) because Forum Energy had bloated the gas and oil reserve estimates of SC72 (2.6 trillion cubic feet of contingent in place gas resource and 5.5 trillion cubic feet of prospective in place gas resource) and, therefore, had grossly overvalued their stocks.
Once the drilling starts, the true value of the reserves in SC72 would be known and MVP’s partners/stockholders at Forum Energy would start bailing out. MVP stands to lose billions.
This explains the antagonistic stance of Sec. del Rosario (through DFA) towards China. He just needs a continuing pretext to delay the drilling until MVP finds an unwitting buyer of their stake and leave their other partners/stockholders holding the empty bag.
Sec. Albert del Rosario is no patriot after all.
By Miguel Raymundo
MOST of us believe the pork scandal is a corruption issue. Yes it is, but to some high-risk political operators, this is just the start of the 2016 presidential campaign. The last three years in Malacañang has been the most dangerous, if not unproductive, for sitting President BS Aquino. Not only has he found himself abandoned, but also tamed even by his most trusted allies. As expected, powerful forces are now on each other’s throat in what could easily be a warm-up fight for the presidential contest two and a half years from now.
But if you think the war is between Malacañang and the opposition, you fail to see deeper into what is happening behind doors in the current pork barrel scandal. The war is now between forces inside Malacañang. Manila Standard Today reported that DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is to blame for the 12-minuter fiasco, the “I-am-no-thief” televised speech of PNoy. The Manila Standard also reported of a Laygo survey that said PNoy’s popularity rating is down by 35 percent, a major slip in his ratings. The broadsheet said Malacañang is in panic. The paper said they have a Malacañang insider for a source. OpinYon sources inside Malacañang say the Manila Standard story is half-true. It is true that there is a bloody war between forces of Executive Secretary Pacquito “Jojo” Ochoa and those of the Liberal Party led by Roxas. It is too bloody that PNoy has been reduced to become a victim of the ambitions, greed and fears of the Ochoa camp.
BOC: Cash Cow
The Ochoa camp is not ready to give up its control over Malacañang even after PNoy is gone. That is the ambition and the greed. The fear is should an enemy group take control of Malacañang, Ochoa and company could be joining another President behind bars. The fears of Ochoa’s group are not unfounded. There are persistent reports that some top Malacañang officials are in control of smuggling. Billions of pesos in lost taxes and government revenues end up in the pockets of the relatives of these Malacañang officials. Out of power, they will not only lose this cash cow, their boys might even be charged of corruption. The Bureau of Customs is the favorite cash cow of any political party in power. It has lately become a center of controversy and power play between Samar and Balay groups. Attempts by the Balay group to take control of BOC has always been derailed resulting in Ruffy Biazon keeping the post even with his dimwit performance. Also the agencies known for massive corruption like the DPWH are controlled by the Samar group. There is sharing of powers in some agencies that bring in the cash. The bigger pie almost always ends up with the Samar group.
In the elbowing in the power game, pockets and egos are bruised creating deep resentment and plotting between the two forces. The war inside Malacañang is a very interesting as regards the use of dirty tricks. Unbelievable it seems the claim that only the Roxas camp is to blame for the 12-minuter speech fiasco. The report said that PNoy delayed facing the camera for that “I-am-no-thief” speech to give time for corrections of the speech by Ochoa. Being the last official to tinker with the transcript, Ochoa should take the blame for the final copy. But the Manila Standard source from inside Malacañang said that Roxas takes the blame and played up the slant that he is bringing down the President.
Who owns Manila Standard?
An OpinYon source said it is the other way around. The almost perfect handling by dirty tricks operators of Samar is making Roxas the bad boy. Almost perfect is the handling in the demolition of Roxas except that the top broadsheets appear to be treating the story with suspicion. So does OpinYon, forcing us to sneak in and get our side of the truth. Why is Manila Standard on top of this “inside sources” trick? This brings us to ask: who owns Manila Standard? That paper is owned by the Romualdezes, who are actually the Marcoses. We encourage you to do your own math and we would end up with the same conclusion. Notice one story finding space and getting viral in social media: the Marcos wealth and insinuations that its return will solve poverty in this country. Another interesting side of this 2016 battle for the presidency is how the camp of Binay is being treated by these two forces inside Malacañang. It appears that a decision has been made that Binay is not a serious contender, if not an already destroyed potential enemy.
Binay, A Goner?
With Binay already reduced to ashes, ironically by his own acts and moves by Malacañang, the two groups are now on each other’s throats, suspecting that whoever takes Malacañang will have the other join the President behind bars. Roxas has minced no words in seeking the presidency come 2016, but speculations are rife that Ochoa may have a different agenda – backing the presidential bid of opposition Senator Ferdinand Marcos “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The Ochoa-Marcos link is via a law firm – the Marcos, Ochoa, Serapio and Tan, thus the acronym MOST. Marcos refers to Liza Marcos, wife of Senator Marcos, while Ochoa is Aquino’s executive secretary and S and T for Edward Serapio and Joseph Tan, respectively. The law firm was recently tagged as lawyering for pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles, accused in a case of kidnapping and serious detention.
It should be noted, as well, that as early as Aquino’s 2009 presidential campaign, the salt to the wound has already been added. Members of the Balay faction of Aquino supporters, the one headed by Roxas, started blaming the Samar group under Ochoa for the failure of the Aquino-Roxas banner, after Chiz Escudero endorsed the Aquino – Binay tandem, without the knowledge of the said candidates. Escudero even went as far as to print t-shirts saying ‘Aquino-Binay’, which did not help the already widening division between the two groups that are supposed to be united under the Aquino flag. The publicity spin doctors in Malacañang were quick to rush and patch up the holes created by the infighting, but not fast enough that sources from inside were able to spread the knowledge that Aquino is running a divided political household.
Since Filipinos are known for putting premium on keeping up appearances, Ochoa and Roxas would come in public ceremonies together, standing side by side, just to make it appear that allegations of infighting are baseless. Other than the obvious nonverbal tension that one can observe in this play-acting to feign truce, we know that the Filipino public has seen the same political drama repeated over and over again, and they are not fooled.
As preparations for the 2016 elections begin, we see a repeat of the 2010 battle royale between these two groups. But this time, it will be bloodier and it might trigger the fall of Pnoy even before the 2016 elections.
Malacañang is now the most dangerous place to be: a snake pit.
- Trouble at the top (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Coloma tags MST report ‘speculative’ (manilastandardtoday.com)
- PDAF defeat prompts Aquino to fly back to Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- An irrelevant president (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Aunt Tingting vs ‘Digi-President’ (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Coloma gains more air time in Malacañang (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- This Week on OpinYon : SNAKE PIT (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Palace mum on Roxas-Romualdez tiff (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Aquino moves to stem skid in ratings (manilastandardtoday.com)
- LP disowns mayor, mum on Drilon-Napoles link (rappler.com)
“As expected, powerful forces are now on each other’s throat in what could easily be a warm-up fight for the presidential contest two and a half years from now. But if you think the war is between Malacañang and the opposition, you fail to see deeper into what is happening behind doors in the current pork barrel scandal. The war is now between forces inside Malacañang.” – Miguel Raymundo
Coming out this week! Available in National Bookstore, Powerbooks, and Fully Booked.
- Aunt Tingting vs ‘Digi-President’ (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Incompetent, Dishonest? (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- COMMENT: At Random: Patronage Politics (1) (mindanews.com)
- Killing the Cartel (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Pork barrel issue far from dead (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- The President as spin doctor (rappler.com)
- Pork barrel issue: Palace not clear on dialogue’s objective (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Napoles transfer to regular jail up to court (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Editorial : MVP for President (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Refocusing on Local Governance (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
read cont | http://bit.ly/1hB2jzp
- Tingting bares poll fraud (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Palace reacts (manilastandardtoday.com)
- ‘Pork’ causes big drop in PNoy’s rating (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Malacañang should hale itself to court – Joker Arroyo (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Is Malacañang covering its tracks? (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Rappler Newscast | October 15, 2013 (rappler.com)
- Aquino to visit South Korea in October (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Amid corruption worry, Aquino to reform govt fund (bigstory.ap.org)
- LP disowns mayor, mum on Drilon-Napoles link (rappler.com)
- Sins of Cory (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
BY MIGUEL RAYMUNDO
PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III is surely feeling the heat with some of the country’s top technocrats forming an alliance to make him answerable for the billions of pesos in government funds under his control.
Former national treasurer Leonor Briones says the legislators’ pork barrel is just a “coin purse” while Malacañang, that is PNoy, holds the” power of the purse”.
According to the group of Briones, the President has control of over PhP1 trillion in government funds. The national wrath over the lost PhP10 billion in pork is a small percentage to what Malacañang could be liable of with those trillions.
The question is can we trust PNoy to use that money for the good of the country?
Many think PNoy cannot be trusted. Everyday more Filipinos are added to those who do not think PNoy can be trusted in his office. And there is a reason for the growing distrust.
Blasted in Social Media
In the social media, blogs and posts denounce PNoy’s inappropriate interest in protecting the country’s most hated “queen of the pork barrel” Janet Lim-Napoles.
His apparent coddling of Napoles sent signals to the public that something was cooking. This sparked suspicions that PNoy was “too frightened” of Napoles. This also generated some angry questions that got even angrier answers.
And the anger against the un-presidential caring of and protection given to Napoles, “queen” of ten-billion robbery of the countryside development funds entrusted to legislators and bureaucrats, grew louder as stories of the past are brought back to life.
The people are reminded of the sins of the mother of PNoy, the former President Cory Aquino, who has been sold to the Filipino people as saint and martyr.
OpinYon finds it fit to run some of these reminders to the Filipino people. In this issue we pick from the controversialfiles.net.
Scandals of the Cory Era
One of the biggest urban legends of recent times in the Philippines, is the story that the Cory Administration was supposedly the “cleanest” among the Administrations in the last three decades.
Thanks to Nostalgia, and the fact that her Administration was at the dawn of the internet age, much of the negativities of that Administration has been largely forgotten, and people tend to remember only the “good” things about that Administration.
Well, thanks to Noynoy Aquino’s “holier-than-thou” campaign strategy, much of the “unpleasantries” during Cory’s time are being brought back to the surface slowly, but surely. Here are some that we have managed to dig out:
- UNTOLD STORY: Scandals During The Corazon Aquino Administration (thecontroversialfiles.net)
- EDITORIAL: No Killing the Pork (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Aquino warned to heed call to scrap ‘pork’ or face ‘point of no return’ (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Photo of PNoy with Napoles’ daughter authentic – Palace (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Aquino photo with young Napoles means nothing – Palace (rappler.com)
- Demeaning the Presidency (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Malacañang released pictures of PNoy with Napoleses (rojan88.wordpress.com)
- Janet Lim Napoles’ brother relieved by sister’s surrender (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Aquino legacy in peril (rappler.com)
- Protest vs pork progresses from #MillionPeopleMarch to #ForwardMarch (bulatlat.com)