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The President divides the nation

By Emil Jurado | Feb. 14, 2013 at 12:01am
Today is the day for lovers—St. Valentine’s Day. It’s also the most commercialized and abused day of the year.  All prices go up – from Valentine cards to restaurant meals and hotel rooms.  Even the prices of flowers and chocolate have gone sky high.

It’s also the day for illicit love affairs where motels and places of assignation are fully booked. Tomorrow is reserved for the wives.

I don’t know who started all these.  In other countries, people don’t go overboard on Valentine’s Day. But we Filipinos have this penchant to overdo things.

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The nation is already divided as it is. But when President Aquino described the May 13 polls as a choice between black and white—an obvious dig on the complexion of Vice President Jojo Binay —the President further divided the country.  It sounds funny that senatorial candidates of the administration coalition are calling for unity.  What hypocrisy!

The President wants us to vote for his candidates.  He says they are the ones really treading the straight path. He says there are people who are just pretending to be with him but who are actually against him.

That Mr. Aquino cannot seem to get rid of his yellow ribbon and his penchant to wear yellow shirts says a lot. How petty and immature for a president!

But there is really no distinction between the administration coalition and the United Nationalist Alliance. P-Noy is just giving his all-out support for his candidates because he wants a rubber-stamp Senate.  He already has the Supreme Court under his thumb with the appointment of Ma. Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.

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Senator Miriam Santiago just can’t keep her trap shut.  She wants her share of the limelight again. This time, she seeks an investigation of the claims made by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in his memoir—on martial law, the Plaza Miranda bombing, the Edsa People Power revolution and many other things.

There is also this senatorial wannabe who says that Enrile’s denial that he staged his own ambush, which in turn led to the proclamation of martial law, is a lie.

Miriam may just be the best propagandist for the Enrile book – it is now on its fourth printing, with over 20,000 copies sold. No wonder Enrile is smiling from ear to ear.

So why not create a Truth Commission that will establish, once and for all, what really happened in those supposedly historical moments?  President Aquino should heed this suggestion.  History has been distorted so many times. He owes it to Filipinos of today and of the next generations.

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Media outfits, particularly broadcast networks, have been crying foul over the new time allotment issued by the Comelec. Just recently, GMA-7 broadcast company took it upon itself to call the attention of the poll body on the controversial provisions.

The networks wanted to know—in fact, they have sought clarification from the Supreme Court—whether the shortened airtime limits granted to a candidate (120 minutes for national and 60 minutes for local positions) already cover the total time for political advertisements that a candidate is allowed to use on all television networks and stations, including cable TV.

Due to the restrictive nature of the guidelines, an appeal has been made to Comelec to reinstate the rules followed in the past elections that imposed air time limits on a per-station basis. Rightly so. The new rules seem to be leading the broadcast networks to quite an unreasonable and compromising position in that a TV network and its officers could be penalized for any violation of a candidate with respect to airtime limits.

The Comelec already affirmed this following a hearing, but despite the well-founded efforts of GMA-7 and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, Comelec said that the new airtime limits would remain, and further clarification would follow only for the right of reply and prior notice provisions, which I believe clearly restrains press freedom.

While the Comelec may issue rules and guidelines and monitor election offenses, is it fair to put the burden of making sure that candidates adhere to airtime allotments rule on the broadcast entities? Never mind additional costs, but as we all know politics is very dynamic in this country, and broadcast networks could start pointing at each other, saying that the violation did not occur in their own turf. And more importantly, the Comelec rules restrict the right of people to know and be informed about the candidates.

My gulay, what is sad about this is that the Supreme Court has not issued a temporary restraining order on these rules issued by the Comelec.  Election period has already begun!

I believe the Comelec is confusing these issues.
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