Dateline Manila: Was VP Binay a victim of false newsor ‘kuryente’ as newsmen would call it? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 August 2014 11:15

BY Sammy Santos


I am really sorry to disappoint eager political pundits but it is simply too early at this stage to speculate on the possible political tandems who will contest the presidential and vice presidential slots in the coming 2016 elections.

The statement of Vice President Jejomar Binay that he heard reports that certain members of the Liberal Party (LP) were planning to adopt him as the administration presidential bet drew an immediate rebuke from Senate President Frank Drilon, LP vice chairman, who had to clarify that no such talks were discussed by the party leadership at present.

“All I can say is that the spin masters are having their day. There is no such thing,” Drilon told ANC’s Karen Davila when asked about Binay’s statement the morning after. Saying that he was a member of the LP Executive Committee, Drilon said he could attest that “there has been no discussion on that (issue).”

“At the end of the day, the Liberal Party will be influenced in its decision by the decision of President Noynoy,” Drilon explained. “The President, being the chairman of our party, would have a great say as to who the standard bearer would be, as to where the party is going, and at this point there is no such talk.”

Political sources said Binay, the acknowledged leader of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) who is currently leading in all polls on the May 2016 presidential elections, may have been fed the information by members of the so-called “Samar” group in the Aquino Cabinet.

The “Samar” group, reportedly led by Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, is known to be supportive of Binay and is at odds with the so-called “Balay” group led by LP president-on-leave and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and LP acting president and Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya.

The problem with this equation is that the “Samar” group cannot speak in behalf of the LP leadership or the preference of LP members in the coming presidential race. What we all know is the undisputed fact that if the elections were held today as indicated by recent surveys, Roxas, said to be the preferred LP candidate, would lose to Binay by a mile.

My friend Philip Lustre, a former political magazine editor, now a social media commentator, said Binay appeared to have become a victim of “kuryente,” when he made the public announcement that LP leaders were discussing the possibility of “adopting” him.

“Kuryente,” Lustre explained, is a term used by journalists to refer to false news planted by spin masters to create some public reactions or disturbances. “The motives vary on why false news are being planted. They could be trial balloons intended to test the public reactions. Or some people discreetly want to put a person of power and influence on the spot. Or some people may do it for some ego trip,” Lustre said.

In his Facebook blog, Lustre added “either Binay was testing the political waters for his LP adoption or he was just plain naïve to believe it would happen. Either way, it did not help Binay. On the contrary, it exposed his gullibility to false news.”

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The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said it acted with dispatch on the complaint of Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco that certain members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) interested in mining operations were intruding in Barangay Baluno recently.

OPPAP Undersecretary Joe Lorena, a Chavacano-speaking lawyer, told me over the phone Tuesday that OPPAP Secretary Ging Deles immediately elevated Climaco’s complaint to the Government-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, which in turn called the attention of Commanded Malik Caril, who, I suppose, is the highest ranking MILF officer in the Western Mindanao area.

I knew Lorena since our college days in the Ateneo de Zamboanga. He used to be a colleague in the Senate when he served as consultant to then Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and was later appointed to assist the government panel in the Mindanao peace process.

“We acted on this complaint immediately and I was told Secretary Deles called up Mayor Climaco to relay to her the actions taken by OPPAP,” Lorena said.

Earlier, Climaco asked the OPPAP to look into “disturbing” reports that  a group of MILF members led by a certain Bob Jumadil went to Barangay Baluno last July 31 purposely to get samples of mineral products. Jumadil, according to Salazar, is the MILF’s political committee chairman of Zamboanga City.

But Lorena dismissed such claims, saying that neither the Mindanao peace process nor government has authorized the MILF to start “mining operations” in Zamboanga City. The same message was relayed to Climaco by Deles.

Quoting reports from the field, Climaco told a press conference last week that MILF members claimed “they were already given the authority to mine in any part of Mindanao.”

Meanwhile, according to ABS-CBN reporter Jewel Reyes (as reported in the ABS-CBN news website), officials of the Baluno barangay council admitted that the MILF asked them for permission to get samples of rocks in the area.

In the same report, a barangay official who was not named said Zamboanga City residents have nothing to worry about since the mining operations at Sitio Zambales in Baluno remained closed.  The site, I am told, used to be the venue of chromite mining undertaken by a private company.

The report quoted local policemen as saying that no laws were violated by the MILF team since they were not carrying firearms when they conducted the inquiries.

I hope this will be the end of this story and no saber-rattling politicians will exploit this story for their self-serving, outdated and hawkish political motives. I am for peace.