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No more New York hotdogs for P-Noy

First Posted 12:29:00 09/23/2010

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CALIFORNIA, United States?Maybe P-Noy should lay off the New York hotdogs. It?s making him talk strange.

Consider what he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer when asked about his friend, Undersecretary Rico Puno, who?s in hot water over alleged links to gambling and his role in the bungled Luneta rescue.

?One thing we have to watch out for is if these people who have been with us when we were still in the harassed opposition and who joined us in our struggles?if all these people who are close to us are removed and replaced by those who are not as close, the next group could already be our enemies,? he said.

Now, that was one jumbled, scary statement. You can read it on so many levels, few of them flattering to the chief executive of the country.

For the Philippine President basically admitted that, despite what appeared to be a pretty hefty mandate, he?s really relying on a very small circle of people to do his job.

Certainly, no one would deny him the right to rely upon people he trusts, who are also his long-time allies?those ?who have been with us when were still in the harassed opposition and who joined us in our struggles.?

But that remark is bound to also raise concerns, as I have in the past in this space, that when the going gets tough, it?s going to be tough for P-Noy to get tough with his friends and relatives?no matter what they?ve done.

Yes, he did also say, ?There is a process.?

And he should have stopped there. There?s a process. Period.

But then he kept on going: ?If I can give the process to our foes, our friends and allies are also entitled to that process so that you can?t have them hanged just because someone asked that you do so.?

What in the world does that mean?

Then he topped it all with the subtle warning that he could end up with a team that ?could already be our enemies.?

It?s truly puzzling that, with all the attention P-Noy?s government has showered on its communications team, his messages have been as coherent as a Manila traffic jam.

In fact, let?s stick with that image for a moment.

For it is in that realm that P-Noy actually scored his first and perhaps more decisive victory to date. He banned the wangwang, which was an inspired and smart move. It was a promise that was easy to fulfill?and it was popular.

And best of all, P-Noy didn?t beat that message to death. He just did it.

On the other hand, here?s the first major test of his ability to deal with allies who may have erred?to show that, unlike other presidents, he has the guts, the moral strength, to show a friend, a former classmate, perhaps even a family member, the door if he or she has done something wrong.

Yes, there is a process. And part of that process should be for the president of the land to affirm that process of finding out if the charges are true, and to say nothing more and step back. Way back.

Hopefully, he will.

Although one wonders.

After all, when he was asked a few months ago about whether he would get involved in the dispute between his family and the poor farmers of Hacienda Luisita, P-Noy signalled that he didn?t think it was the right thing to do.

?If I get involved, it will appear that I am interfering,? he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. ?I will be imposing myself on the people who have suffered the past six years.?

That one made me scratch my head too.

For in theory, the basic rule should go like this for a Philippine president: When poor, suffering people are involved, you step in to help them out. When it?s your rich friends and allies, you step back and make damn sure that it does not ?appear that I am interfering.?

Maybe it was really just the New York hotdog. Or maybe jet lag.

On Twitter @KuwentoPimentel

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