"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Romulo Neri's Suspension mere public relations and damage control.

Neri previously covered up as to the direct instructions Gloria gave him insofar as the deal is concerned, subject of the very juicy effusions he shared with his consultant Rodolfo Lozada. But in a sudden turnaround, what was generally expected to be the damning testimony against the president suddenly became a pleas for executive privilege. When the Senate forced the issue, Neri went to the Supreme Court and scored his first major victory.

On May 26, 2008, a Supreme Court decision nullified the Senate's citation of contempt against Neri, ruling that conversations between Neri and President Arroyo are considered classified information. That may have bolstered Neri's expectations of impunity.

But his impunity can only secondary to Gloria's impunity. This is what the Ombudsman is saying with the temporary clearance it gave the First Kotong.

In short, Neri is now in the can. People say he must have been paid a great sum for keeping mum on his M'am Gloria, but now that he has been suspended for six months from his exalted position in the Social Security System, the shame that he did not have by not corroborating Lozada's accusations, could start to seep in now.

Actually, it may not been money, but extreme harrassment not just to himself nut to his entire family. From 2002 to 2004, I worked with a cabinet secretary who was forced to take his whole family to self-exile in the United States because they ate death threats for breakfast, lunch and dinner while they were still in the Philippines. All because he did not agree to cover up for her plunder.

Forget Ben Abalos. He would most likely hold on to his legal hard nose. He will take chances with technicalities and equally corrupt magistrates. Besides, even as mayor of Mandaluyong, he was already corrupt. His family was able to stash all the capital that built the "Crossings" chain of department stores from so-called SOPs he collected from business licenses and construction permits.

I am sure Mike had a dossier on Abalos that he can put the former judge on leash. It is only in the Philippines that the chairman of the Commission on Elections takes multiple trips to a foreign land to broker for the First Gentleman. Equally promised impunity, he increases his leverage on the First Kotong by accepting to be scapegoat. But with a conscience seared, Abalos is playing for greater stakes here for his equal weight in gold.

Time, however, is running short for the First Kotong. And it is too late for PR to remedy.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken the same corrupt and violent road Marcos took towards the end of his term. Today as we speak, even the White House, the State Department and the American Embassy in the Philippines has categorically told Gloria that she must exit after her term and allow a credible election for her successor.

Of course Gloria is trying leverage back by forcing the renegotiation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. As a lameduck and unable to use her soiled Chinese card this time, she will of course fail to establish a counterpoise.

My group alone has more than 20 live cases against her in the Ombudsman, mostly for plunder.

The spectre of one day after her term she will lose all her friends, is not entertaining at all. First to go will be Ermita, Remonde, Golez and Olivar, her rahrah squad. Next will be Nograles, Puno and Duque, who will be now queueing to the new powers. The pera-pera political parties of Lakas-Kampi will also disintegrate in the same way Monching Mitra saw his party evaporate into the thin air. Mind you, she does not even have the following that Erap had, even through his prosecution, eventual incarceration and until now.

With Gloria, everybody is only as good as their last good performance. She used all her classmates to feed her ambitions to become president. But soon as she got what she wanted, she betrayed them one by one. Bing Rodrigo walked out of Malacañang because she caught Mike's hand in the cookie jar and she did not sustain her. Bing died some years after leaving Malcañang without the benefit of reconciling with Gloria. When Censors employes trumped up charges against Marilen Dinglasan, she unceremoniously replaced her. This broke Marilen's heart and sank her into a depression that snuffed her life less than one year from the incident. Bing, Marilen and Gloria were bosom friends since grade one at the Assumption Convent School.

So with Gloria who needs enemies? I can already smell the orange suit waiting for her.

As soon as her star wanes, Mike Arroyo will reunite with Vicky Toh with whom he has sired two children, and attempt an escape through Hongkong. His local fortune, he will leave with his brother Ignocito, who then will be non-electable and who will just waste the ill-gotten wealth resuming his drug addition and trying to regain a seat in Congress.

Gloria's children may even be reluctant to visit her in prison for fear of ostracism and reprisal. Her only way out is a bullet into her big, swollen head. Whether self-inflicted or not, nobody cares. Whichever is just as good provided she exits horizontally.

Sad, but necessary.

Neri must reconsider serving as state witness. He could still save the day. Not now but when the case finally gets to the Sandiganbayan.

By that time Gloria would be citizen Arroyo.

Ado Paglinawan is a former press officer of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC who occasionally contributes to the Philippines Daily Inquirer. He writes for various email groups and blogs under the pseudonym "mymaestro888". Ado has best served overseas Filipinos as a resource person providing inside information and backgrounders about the celebrated fertilizer scam that rocked the Philippine Agriculture Department and the Presidency since 2004.

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