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They belittle, yet fear, JDV by Jarius Bondoc

“Noah’s Ark” subsidies, better called crisis alms, will cost P316 billion over three years — till Gloria Arroyo steps down in 2010. That money can be better used for basic education and skills training. Since 2001 experts have been saying the educational system is deteriorating and needed a one-time shot of P65 billion to start fixing things. The admin never paid heed. Now it turns out Arroyo can block off five times the amount to give away to the disgruntled poor. Worse, the P316 billion can be just the start of an extra-early election campaign. Meaning, the money will just be secretly given to political allies.

* * *

Didn’t Arroyo allies just sneer that ex-Speaker Joe de Venecia has no credibility? Didn’t Malacañang repeatedly say he has nothing provocative to reveal about his visit with Gloria and Mike Arroyo to ZTE’s China HQ in Nov. 2006?

So why did Palace factotums cook up a newspaper ad decrying JDV’s threat to “bare all” about the ZTE deal when Congress reopens in July? And why did the ad have to attack JDV’s wife Gina and unrelated personalities? Do they think JDV still has sting after all, so they’re using a cannon to swat their pesky fly?

The ad began by raking up JDV’s past: “machinations” for parliamentary, and “overpriced” Northrail and Southrail projects. (Hmm, since Gloria Arroyo backed all those, shouldn’t they hold her liable too?) It even mentioned a “Landoil fiasco”, as if JDV is to blame for a 1981 Iran-Iraq war that caught his conglomerate’s workers in the crossfire.

Then it called ZTE scam whistle-blowers Joey de Venecia, Jun Lozada and Dante Madriaga “shady characters”. (Oh, but survey respondents say they believe the trio, while calling Arroyo, with minus-36 trust rating, dirtier than Marcos.)

Allegedly it was Gina, not Rolex Suplico’s secret witness codenamed “Alex”, who gave the press those telling photos of the Shenzhen trip. (But didn’t Malacañang already harrumph that she wasn’t there?} They seem to know who and where “Alex” is now, after he broke contact with Suplico in fear for his life.

Lastly, it claimed that Jueteng-gate witness Sandra Cam, ex-Cabinet member Dinky Soliman of Hyatt 10, Carol Araullo of Bayan, Sister Mary John Mananzan of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, Bishop Oscar Cruz of Pangasinan, and Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan have been meeting in JDV’s house to “plot his coming out party.”

About five-dozen unknown chapter officers of unknown provincial clubs signed the ad. The concocter intended to make it look like little people were disgusted with JDV’s forthcoming “lies”. But it’s inconsistent. How can such little people be so conversant about goings-on in the big city?

Soliman, just home from a long trip abroad, wondered how they can ascertain where she allegedly goes and with whom she meets? Was she in this supposed democracy being tailed by sinister forces, which then inform the omniscient signatories? For those who’ve seen the trick before, the claims read like an “intel report” drafted to wheedle money from a gullible recipient.

Araullo and Mananzan denied ever meeting in JDV’s house to plot. Like Soliman, they deem JDV big enough a politico to go his own way.

Lawyer Suplico dared the signatories to come forward and prove their charges. Which they can’t and won’t, of course.

As for JDV, before flying off to the US for a health check. he moaned that the hatchet job has begun even before he could talk on NBN-ZTE. But he whispered who exactly concocted the ad — a Palace operator whom he had watched in action before. He knows the knave’s name, financier, and tendency to brag about “secret missions” for the First Couple. Assisting was an ex-President’s publicist who has wriggled his way into the inner circle of the present one.

JDV recognized the modus operandi too. It was in the pattern of the ad barrage by appointees praising Arroyo while the public was seething over Lozada’s abduction in February. It is said that Arroyo was losing heart back then, so worried cronies had to do something to prop up her morale. The operator must think JDV still packs a wallop to warrant an attack ad. Recent reports in Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune derided his boss Arroyo’s transactional Presidency — quoting none other than the supposedly incredible has-been JDV.

Tellingly, Malacañang agrees with the factotum’s implicit appraisal that their situation requires pre-emptive strike before JDV talks. That’s why it allowed the ad. Perhaps they foresee that the gimmicks of P500 per poor family for electric bills and P1,500 per farmer for fertilizers and P2-per-liter for jitney drivers won’t work. Things can only get worse and people will be blaming Arroyo for the economic woes.

Moreover, Jocjoc Bolante is about to be deported from the US, and he may have to finally tell the Senate about his P728-million electioneering for Arroyo. NEDA officers are raring to divulge damning documents on admin misdeeds. And an impeachment rap awaits Arroyo in October.

Admin operators must be feeling uneasy sitting on a powder keg about to explode with more exposés of its thievery.

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