Anti-Media Social: Our Lady of Pangasinan

Here’s a nice reversal on things.

Sectoral group Bayan Muna filed a plunder case against Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Thursday over the failed ZTE National Broadband Network deal. Reporters scrambled to cover it and got the story.

Here is a sidebar to the whole thing:

While this was going on, politician sent out a text message to reporters on different beats. His subtle message? “XXX can be asked for comments on the sixth plunder complaint against ex-PGMA.” While some politicians would have been content with releasing a written statement to the press, this one wanted to be interviewed even though nobody was asking.

Our baby mouse tells us that journalists who took the bait and called him up to ask questions were then told (politely) to wait because the politician was busy.

Although he is new in politics and cannot be expected to know how to deal with the press yet, he will gave to learn quickly or never have to deal with the press again.

A clue: Like his once prominent father, this politician can be referred to by his initials, one of which is J. His father used to be influential but the family’s fortunes have taken a turn since a falling out with Malacanang.

She would know

A self-proclaimed Iron Lady from Congress has been taking potshots at the Aquino administration lately, pouncing  on pretty much any issue she can.

When a mayor from Mindanao complained earlier this year about inadequate calamity assistance in his flooded city, Iron Lady was there to hector him on. Not on the ground, where it would have counted, but from the un-flooded hall of Congress where she works.

She has also locked horns with a Malacanang appointee for being arrogant despite just being an appointed official. It was a blow for the common man, who elects his Congressional representatives, and for the elite families who field random relatives for the common man to elect. It was also a blow to the concept of public service but whatever, it made the evening news.

And earlier today, she was crowing about the resignation of Customs chief Angelito Alvarez. She said a breakdown in leadership at the Bureau of Customs has led to rampant smuggling. And that is probably true. For example, smuggled plywood has reportedly been costing the Philippine wood industry millions a month. Clearly, it is time for a new day at the Bureau of Customs, where smugglers will be caught and prosecuted, and nobody will profit from misdeclared goods.

There is no word, though, whether the sun of that new day will shine on shiploads of logs that her family brings in from Papua New Guinea. We’re not saying that the logs are smuggled, but…

I'm not saying that either. Sheeeit.

Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres Gomez: legislator, TV host, magic fairy

In Worse Than Free (2005), journalist and personal superhero Vergel Santos scored Noli de Castro for shilling a brand of brandy in a television commercial while still a news presenter for ABS-CBN.

He said de Castro, by agreeing to endorse Emperador Brandy, “increased his television exposure, not to mention his
earnings” and ended up topping the 2001 senatorial elections. And it was based on a bald-faced lie.

The point is he got where he is partly by misrepresenting himself and breaching ethics: As one who never touched the stuff, he was less than truthful in his brandy commercial, and as a media person, less than proper.

Since then, the worlds of advertising and politics have overlapped so often that Philippine media is like New york City (Earth-616)in the Marvel Universe.

Except with less costumes, more barongs

Senator Francis Escudero’s endorsement of Technomarine is only among the latest, but Senators Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson, and former senator Richard Gordon have all appeared in ads for laundry detergent, a dermatologist, and for anti-bacterial soap. Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao falls in a different category altogether for endorsing every product ever made, and for being a part-time congressman.

Those ads, at least, were based on reality. Escudero wears a watch, Legarda wears clothes, and Gordon washes his hands (also, he donated his talent fee to the Red Cross, he said). Senator Lacson has nice skin, I guess.  Pacquiao is Pacquiao, the closest thing the Philippines has to an actual Thor (half god/half congressman). Not so these recent ads by Lucy Torres Gomez, Leyte representative and fairy of some sort.

In a series of TV commercials for a brand of detergent, Gomez is portrayed as some sort of fairy/superhero in the fight against mildew and laundry that smells of damp. She even has corny catch phrases like “Wash out!”, “Kaya ng powers ko (my powers can handle this!), and “More powers to you!”

"Wash Out!"

Sadly, she is not speaking of the powers of Congress to hold inquiries in aid of legislation and to craft laws but of the stain-beating, mildew-removing powers of this detergent of which she is the personification.

Listen, we get that politics is mostly a joke in this country, and we have very low expectations when we elect actors (and their spouses) to the legislature, but come on.

There is a certain gravitas to legislation and we expect our lawmakers to act a certain way. Sure, you can go ahead and steal our money, let your children act like beasts now and then, but at least do it with dignity. Save the silly costumes for the annual State of the Nation Address.

This is no basis for a system of government

Rep. Singson: guilty but not

It was probably not smart of Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson
to admit on national TV that his son, Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson, is only pleading guilty to drug possession as a “legal strategy.

Hong Kong, where the younger Singson was arrested for allegedly bringing in cocaine and sleeping pills, may be a distant land
reachable only after several months of dangerous sea travel,
but the news will eventually get there.

Or you could take a plane

Rep. Singson admitting in court that the drugs were for his own use
while his father insists on TV that he’s not really guilty of
anything sends conflicting messages.

Then again, he could cop to possession of the sleeping pills
but not the cocaine, turning him from a bad-ass suspected smuggler
to a yuppie with issues.

The elder Singson said his son was framed, and that the drugs
were only handed to him (by some guy). Which deserves the
question: How high do you have to be to accept an unidentified substance
from an unknown person on an airplane in a post-9/11 world?

Expel a congressman for drug possession? It depends

Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson could lose
his seat in congress if convicted for drug trafficking
charges in Hong Kong.

Pleading guilty to simple possession might make his colleagues
at the House of Representatives more forgiving, though.
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Customs bust a bust

The daring dawn raid we hinted at in the last post was not as daring as advertised.

The Bureau of Customs raided Tondo Friday morning and seized 60 bags of onions smuggled in from China.

At 10 pounds per bag, that comes to 600 pounds and a market value of around P17,680.

Sa presinto ka na magpaliwanag!

Admittedly, [deputy Customs commissioner Horacio] Suansing said, the confiscated onions have little value but pointed out that the raid was intended “to send a strong message to smugglers that even if the smuggled items have already left the premises of the Customs, we would still run after those selling them.”

Consider yourself schooled, Chinese onion smugglers.

Senator invites media to top secret raid

According to our baby mouse, a senator sent a media advisory today telling Senate media that a certain government agency will be conducting a raid on some people somewhere in just a few hours.

The actual advisory was, of course, not that vague. The senator who sent it was actually pretty helpful with the details, even providing a number people in the media can call to coordinate where to meet, what to wear, what the secret password is, etc.

Which is all very good for reporters looking for some action, but not so much for Philippine law enforcement. If this website was able to get the details of the raid without even trying, it’s a sure bet the criminals who are supposed to get raided know about it too.

(thx, Senate staff!)

Overpopulation blamed on darkness

Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento has a rather parochial approach to overpopulation.

Which is not to say it isn’t valid, it just isn’t as sexy as throwing rocks at the (Papal) throne.

Sarmiento says overpopulation should be blamed not on the Church but on the boredom that forces people with no access to electricity to rut in the dark like animals. Quoting some Filipino saying, he says darkness breeds romance and more.


His solution, then, is not contraceptives, but electricity.

Instead of spending funds for condoms, contraceptives and injectibles, the money can be used for the electrification of the non-energized sitios so the population will not grow faster and keep the people active and busy.”

The idea is not without merit. But he shouldn’t expect any t-shirts made in his honor.

Lapid wants lighter load for schoolkids

This bit of news is a day old, but Senator Lito Lapid never gets old.

Lapid wants the country’s schoolchildren to carry no more than 15 percent of their weight in their schoolbags, a measure that Education Secretary Armin Luistro was quick to pooh pooh.
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