Palace, Balay hatch ‘public clamor’ ploy

Cha-cha push revives intense clique bickerings

THE Palace and the Liberal Party led by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II were behind the “manufactured clamor” for a second term for President Benigno Aquino III, Palace sources said Thursday.

The “second-term push” has revived the intense infighting between the so-called Balay group, led by Roxas and the Samar group, led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

The term extension plan was hatched as early as April, when a community page was launched in Facebook. A second similarly themed community page was created in June.

The page’s administrator appears to be certain Mark Anthony Camorahan Duco of Iloilo City.

Duco’s personal page showed that he comes from Jaro. Some of his posts in other community pages were in defense of Senate President Franklin Drilon in threads on the pork barrel scam.

Drilon was identified as among the key players and authors of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“There is no public clamor for the President to seek another term. The manufactured voice was a script designed by the Palace that was pursued vigorously shortly after the Supreme Court handed down on July 1 its 13-0 ruling on DAP,” said the Palace source, who requested anonymity.

“The President emboldened his men, the ruling Liberal Party, Hyatt 10 and Black and White Movement to push for a second term by revising the Constitution when he asked the public on July 15 to wear yellow ribbons to show support for him,” the Palace source told the Manila Standard.

One week before Roxas stated in public that he wanted a second term for the President, Aquino had already given him the green light, the source said.

“The President himself wanted a second term but he wanted to make it appear that he was heeding the public clamor for it. Thus, the manufactured voice, the manufactured clamor as orchestrated by the Liberals, and upon the instructions of the President,” the source said.

On July 29 , the source said, Roxas was scheduled to appear before the ANC program hosted by Lynda Jumilla.

“Mar, who was supposed to be interviewed live, came late. He was late because he had to inform the President of his plan to make the announcement that he preferred a second term for Aquino. ANC was forced to air a rerun of the President’s State of The Nation Address since the speech lasted more than an hour,” the source said.

With the SONA rerun on mid-air, Roxas arrived and the ANC decided to tape the interview to be aired the following week, Aug. 5, the source said.

Since the President gave Roxas the go signal to make the announcement, he did so again when he was interviewed in Glorrieta in Makati City at the exhibit of the late President Corazon Aquino’s paintings on Aug. 1, the fifth death anniversary.

“So, from Aug. 1 to 12, the President and a small clique in the Palace, led by Mar and the Liberal’s Balay group, started to test the waters by drumming up support for the President’s seeking reelection,” the source said.

The President’s allies in the House also started backing the second-term call that worried House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who has been pushing for the Charter change on economic provisions only.

The Speaker said some lawmakers backed the lifting of term limits because 70 of the 290-member House were on their last term.

Belmonte, also an official of the Liberal Party, is now under pressure from the Palace to include political provisions in revising the Charter, including the lifting of term limits.

But Belmonte, as of last night, insisted that he would only push for changes in the economic provisions of the Constitution.

“The plan to tinker with the Constitution has revived the intense bickering in the Palace between the Balay and Samar group,” the source said.

“But the Samar group has been left out of the loop because it was against the President’s tinkering of the Constitution,” the source added.

This was why Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, who was identified with Ochoa’s Samar group, gave out a different version of the President’s stand on Charter change vis-à-vis those of presidential ppokesman Edwin Lacierda and deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, who are identified with the Roxas group.

Coloma, who was left out of the loop, had earlier disputed claims that the President wanted a second term and insisted that Aquino’s position was always against the revision of the Constitution and that the President respects the Constitution that mandates a fixed one six-year term for the President.

Lacierda and Valte, who were privy to the second-push plan, hinted that the President always listened and welcomed the clamor of his bosses and would decide according to what his bosses wanted.

On Wednesday, Aug. 13, the pretense was dropped with the President himself announcing on TV5 interview that he was open to Charter change and wanted to seek a second term.

The President said he wanted to clip the Supreme Court’s powers.

“The President wanted a second term because with Roxas’ poor showing in the surveys, he knew the Liberals would lose the presidency and President Aquino... that the public would make him accountable for the DAP and the Priority Development Assistance Funds,” the Palace source said.

The source also said the President, during his July 28 SONA was teary-eyed because he already knew the result of the Pulse Asia Survey showing his net approval rating had plunged to 29 percent.

“The President was teary-eyed because he was devastated by that plunge and could not accept that his popularity among his bosses had declined, and Roxas’ rating has remained at its lowest among the potential presidential candidates,” the source said.

“The President believes he has no choice but to seek another term to prevent possible legal problems once he and his men are no longer in power,” the source added.

Also on Thursday, the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the people behind the online campaign to give Aquino a second term were administration allies.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said contrary to what the Palace is making it appear, the call for another term for Aquino was not a genuine move from ordinary Filipinos supporting the government.

“We believe that the factions of the Black and White movement, the Hyatt 10, and the Liberal Party are behind the campaign,” Reyes said.

“The manufactured clamor will peak in a Yellow Rally toward the end of the month. This is the information that we got,” he added.

In an earlier interview, Lacierda said such calls for another term has already reached the President.

But when he was asked who was behind the clamor, Lacierda said: “These were all anecdotal. I can’t anwer you. There are no specifics here.”



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