Premature Holy Innocents Day political pranks
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-12-27
In the Philippine practice of Roman Catholicism, the December 28 feast day for the Holy Innocents — the babies King Herod ordered slaughtered in Bethlehem — is commemorated by playing pranks on other people.

From the childhood days of Baby Boomers like me to the present, there had been a marked decline of those who still play these pranks during Holy Innocents Day. Having evolved into a much more violent society may have convinced many folks that the prank could cause a reaction that will be too high a price to pay if life and limb is to be in the equation.

However, lately, some very big pranks were inflicted on many Filipinos by players in our political scene. These pranks not only make it appear that the Holy Innocents Day prank practice is back — but that it is even done much earlier than December 28.

The biggest of these pranks has to be the December 4, 2009 Presidential Proclamation (PP) 1959 of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) which imposed martial law in Maguindanao for eight days. The best legal minds among our Representatives and Senators not only debunked the legal and Constitutional bases for PP 1959 — they also exposed the inadequate knowledge of the law of our Justice Secretary.

Still on the PP 1959 big prank, two Representatives — Representatives Teddyboy Locsin of Makati and Tony Cuenco of Cebu — took to the floor of the December 9 and 10 Joint Session of Congress to defend the indefensible imposition of PP 1959. GMA quickly lifted PP 1959 because she feared a Supreme Court rebuke which will lead to even greater embarrassment and more disastrous political fallout.
Why, even one of her staunchest Senate allies, Senator Miriam D. Santiago, would not be caught defending PP 1959. One wonders how come Senator Santiago was very reluctant to defend PP 1959 when two erstwhile Marcos martial law protesters, Representatives Locsin and Cuenco, were defending it as vigorously as the 300 Spartans who defended the Pass of Thermopylae.

A political watcher offered an explanation why Senator Santiago would not defend PP 1959 like Representatives Locsin and Cuenco and that is because Senator Santiago is up for re-election while Representatives Locsin and Cuenco are said to be seeking appointments to the Supreme Court and an ambassadorial post, respectively.

One prominent person, whose father was also unjustly jailed when Ferdinand E. Marcos imposed martial law, remarked: “I was taken aback by Teddyboy’s defense of PP 1959 considering that his father and mine were both jailed during martial law in 1972.”

Today we already know that the reasons used to justify Marcos martial law were manufactured. However, Marcos appeared to have “better” reasons for imposing martial law during his time than GMA did last December 4.

Another premature prank was done by media opinion writers and commentators who started questioning the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys simply because these two credible survey firms were consistently releasing very high ratings for Senator Noynoy Aquino, the dominant 2010 presidential candidate.

One State University professor, said to be advising one of the trailing presidential candidates, was even willing to stake his reputation that the survey of The Center was the real deal. This was echoed by a rabid GMA regime defender writing an opinion column in an English language broadsheet. Aquino had a much smaller rating of 31% in the December survey of The Center, a “statistical dive” per The Center head, Ed Malay.

Then the December SWS and Pulse Asia nationwide Single Choice surveys were released last Monday. Both surveys were conducted in December after the end of the filing of Certificates of Candidacies.

Ana Tabunda of Pulse Asia described Noynoy Aquino as having solidified his lead. Noynoy rated 45%, up by 1% from the previous Pulse Asia survey. The SWS December survey had Noynoy rating 46%, down by only 1% from his previous SWS (the Edward Hagedorn sponsored November Single Choice survey) rating.

The Noynoy bashers shifted to their next spin. They are now peddling the line that Noynoy has reached his limit and will start to fall. In fact, they cite that in the December SWS and Pulse Asia surveys, Villar, Estrada and Gilbert Teodoro all registered bigger increases. While that may be true, they conveniently omitted to mention that the increases did not come from Noynoy but from the voters of Chiz Escudero.

In the last SWS and Pulse Asia polls where Chiz was still included, he had at least a 12% support in single choice surveys. The peddlers of anti-Noynoy gobbledygook will have eggs on their faces again if and when Chiz decides to campaign for Noynoy.

The last premature Holy Innocents Day prank was played on my Kumpadre Manny Villar by Manny Pacquiao. Villar was all aglow after he bagged the endorsement of Manny Pacquiao - coming as it did after Pacquiao’s victory over Miguel Cotto. The endorsement and announcement was done during the recent birthday bash of Pacquiao in General Santos.

You might ask: “Wait a minute. How can this endorsement from Pacquiao be a big prank on Villar? Isn’t Pacquiao one of the most sought after endorsers, as seen in the many consumer brands that enlisted him?”

Alright, you are owed an explanation there. There are facts that you need to appreciate. The first fact of life that you need to appreciate is that a Pacquiao endorsement that succeeds to promote beer or muscle pain relief does not necessarily equate to a similar success when it comes to politics, especially when it comes to the highest public office in the land.

The best proof of that is Manny Pacquiao himself. He was roundly rejected by General Santos voters when he ran there for a Congressional seat. Now, if Pacquiao cannot be credible for a Congressional seat in the place where he should be most idolized — then how much impetus can he give to a presidential candidate?

A president is many things to many people. If Pacquiao could not sell himself for a Congressional seat, just how many are inclined to adopt his endorsed presidential candidate? According to the Pulse Asia December 3 release, only 2% are inclined to vote for Manny Pacquiao’s presidential candidate.

But then Pacquiao asserted that “God talked to me” — as quoted in the STAR and other media. Now, we know how people tend to react when somebody says that, especially one who had just been talked about for not being the ideal faithful husband. It seems Pacquiao may have suffered more damage from the Cotto fight than announced by his camp.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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