Why Danding Cojuangco should start worrying
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-05-20
With the current assault against the Lopez family in Meralco, expect San Miguel Corporation Chairman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco to start thinking when the greed and evil that run amuck with impunity in the land will arrive at his doorstep.

The veteran of many upheavals that he is, Danding Cojuangco would recognize only too well the danger signs. He has seen for himself how erstwhile allies became his rivals for the lucrative control of the coconut industry. Despite his service and loyalty to his former boss, President Ferdinand Marcos, he could not help but be the target of attack of the then powerful First Lady.

He knows only too well that the bigger you are, especially in a country infested with crab mentality, the more you attract destabilization. He knows how small minds tend to be infected with insatiable greed. Compared to the Marcos regime, the Arroyo regime brandishes many such small people who are saddled with insatiable greed.

He would have realized that the Meralco brouhaha is all about greed and power play and not really about electric power per se. He would know that all this fuss about the high price of electricity is mainly the fault of the regime — what with its inefficient running of Napocor and all those taxes that are added to power generation, transmission and distribution.

From the cast of characters alone (in the DoJ, GSIS, the Senate and Congress) who are conveying the telling blows to the Lopez family, he would know who the real puppeteer is. None of these attack dogs would have bothered encountering titans like the Lopezes if not out of subservience to orders from above.

He would have sensed that more than the control of Meralco and the money that could be made there — there are the bigger political considerations. Something more than just money must have compelled the regime to reduce to manageable size those who can pose a danger to the hidden agenda of staying in power beyond 2010.

The survivor that he is, it must have occurred to Danding Cojuangco that he too can easily be seen as a threat — nay, be seen as an even bigger threat.

Politically, the Lopez family only has a link to the current Vice President and even that loyalty is now uncertain in the unpredictable world of political horse trading. The regime’s unmatched ability to transact can easily loosen the loyalties of people, especially those with questionable integrity, to begin with.

Danding Cojuangco has a major political party that the Lopez family does not have. His political party also happens to have three presidential timbers ‑ his own nephew and two senators who topped the last May 2007 Senate elections. With his political savvy and money, not to mention national network, the regime has more to fear from Danding Cojuangco than from the Lopez family.

Compared to the Lopez family who never had any real clout in the military, Danding Cojuangco has an established network in the AFP officer corps. He developed this during martial law and it should not surprise us if he has since expanded his clout in the AFP.

This clout isn’t rooted at all to his nephew’s being the current Secretary of National Defense. It would not have been a remote possibility that his nephew was chosen to be Defense Secretary — precisely because of Danding Cojuangco’s clout in the military.

Compared to his former boss, Ferdinand Marcos, Danding Cojuangco must have weighed the impact of character in the equation.

Marcos was loyal to his friends and allies, many times to a fault. Even when the Laurels broke with Marcos and fought him in the political arena, Marcos never touched them owing to what he owed their father. Such loyalty is rare in the back stabbing world of Philippine traditional politics.

Just how does the current Malacañang occupant compare to Marcos when it comes to loyalty to an ally and even a friend? The track record of traded causes and shafted allies of the current regime would not have escaped the attention of a man like Danding Cojuangco who puts such a premium on loyalty.

Bing Rodrigo and Marilen Dinglasan were just about the closest friends of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). Go ask their closest kin what Bing and Marilen felt about GMA before they died. Go ask Fidel V. Ramos and Joe de Venecia about what GMA owed them and what they got from her in return.

Go ask those former cabinet members who lost their posts to much lesser replacements simply because of political accommodation. Go ask those who risked life and fortune to launch EDSA Dos — for reform and justice — if they attained reform and justice.

All these considered, why would Danding Cojuangco not think that — today it is the Lopezes, tomorrow it will be me. But then, a wise man did say that when you shake hands with the devil, be prepared to be burned.

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