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Still loony

I know Noynoy Aquino is now irrelevant and that we should all move on from the six years of ineptitude, insensitivity and corruption that marked his feckless reign. But like a child throwing a tantrum to attract attention, the lame duck occupying Malacañan Palace continues to say the darndest things just to grab some of the limelight that he’s been sorely deprived of lately.

Frankly, I don’t want to talk about Aquino anymore. But I cannot allow him to keep revising recent history just so he can delude himself that he is, as his few remaining supporters claim, “the best president the Philippines ever had.”

Aquino’s exit interview with Rappler’s Maria Ressa was truly an exercise in political surrealism. I know it’s somehow based on reality, but it’s a reality that’s been hopelessly bent and twisted out of shape.

Take, for instance, Aquino’s stated belief that the recent victory of Rodrigo Duterte is not a rejection of his administration but the result of a better-run campaign based on “differentiation.” “They really mounted [a] better campaign —that was the right tone, right messaging, right time,” Aquino told Ressa.

A believer in propaganda to the end, Aquino cannot seem to accept that his own candidate’s message of continuity was rejected last May 9. And by reducing Duterte’s victory to strategic superiority, Aquino insulted the millions who ignored Mar Roxas and voted for the candidate who was as close as you can get to being Roxas’ and Aquino’s polar opposite.

Then there’s Aquino’s denial that he protected his buddies even if doing so meant sacrificing the country’s interest. Stealing a line Duterte used, apropos of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, Aquino said: “Friendship stops when the country’s interest is at stake.” 

After saying this, Aquino proceeded to defend his transportation secretary, the sainted Joseph Abaya, from accusations of corruption. Surreal, I tell you.

And how could it be an Aquino version of events if there wasn’t the obligatory blaming of others, everyone except himself? “Boy Sisi” Aquino, in his wisdom, said he could not make Roxas win because “I had to run the country while he was campaigning also.”

The man is a basket case. And the fact that the country survived six years of his so-called governance is a testament to our resiliency as a people.

Thank God the Loony Tunes administration is over. Even if in Aquino’s twisted mind, it will probably go on forever, with him laughing maniacally at the wheel.

* * *

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte seems to have chosen the members of his Cabinet well. So far, only two nominees have been met with stiff resistance from various sectors—flamboyant lawyer Salvador Panelo, who has been picked by Duterte to be presidential spokesperson, and Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar—the son of former Senate president Manuel Villar and Senator Cynthia Villar—the next secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Panelo is being opposed by media and human-rights advocates who remember his former role as lawyer of the Ampatuan clan that pulled off the Maguindanao Massacre of 2009. Villar is being opposed on very serious conflict-of-interest charges, having served as president of his family’s Crown Asia Corp. and as managing director of Crown Asia’s parent company, Vista Land.

As pointed out by Senator Sergio Osmeña III, Villar may be qualified for the DPWH job, but he should not accept it because his family’s connections with the real estate industry. Transparency and Accountability Network executive director Victor Lazatin also pointed out that Villar’s appointment would violate the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which bars public officials from directly or indirectly having any financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their respective offices.

Lazatin added that the fear of the conflict is not unfounded. Aside from Vista Land, the Villars also have another business interest that presents a clear conflict of interest with the congressman’s appointment as DPWH secretary.

But aside from working as a top executive of Vista Land, the family of Villar also have a controlling interest in a water-supply company. As DPWH secretary, Villar will have to recuse himself, at the very least, when deliberations on projects involving proposals of that company, PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp.

PrimeWater, which the Villar family controls, has, among other pending projects, a bulk water supply system project with the Metro Iloilo Water District, a joint venture with the Lingayen Water District for operating and managing Lingayen’s water supply system, another bulk water supply project with the Daraga Water District to use the Banadero Basin for the water supply of Daraga, Albay, and a project for the supply of water to the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority. PrimeWater is one of several companies angling for a bulk water supply project with the Baguio Water District.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It would have been much easier if someone else other than Villar headed up DPWH. It’s that simple.

Topics: Jojo Robles , Still loony , Noynoy Aquino , Maria Ressa , Rodrigo Duterte
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