By Raïssa Robles - Now that it's officially summer, what better time to revive “Halo-Halo”, my gossip column about everything and anything. First off, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) had an unexpected invitation from US Ambassador Philip Goldberg to see him and his embassy staff for cocktails last Thursday. I must say, I did not expect Goldberg to place everything off-the-record. I guess I had been spoiled by previous invites from the ambassadors of France and even from China before (notably Ambassador Liu Jianchiao) who has long been transferred to Indonesia.
by Raïssa Robles - Are you confused and even afraid of what's happening in Philippine politics right now? Well, think of it as political spring-cleaning. As if someone upended a drawer full of stuff and Filipinos are in the process of looking through, deciding what to throw, or keep and whatnot. Love it or hate it, President Benigno Aquino changed the rules of the political game. At no other time in our country’s history do you find so many top officials detained and undergoing trial for corruption. At the latest count, we have one president-turned-congresswoman, one ex-presidential spouse, three senators, one retired national police chief, one former Supreme Court chief Justice, one governor, and at least two congressmen, all undergoing trial for corruption.
Analysis by Raissa Robles - The latest survey results have yet to come in, but one thing seems clear: if President Benigno Aquino III were to be unseated from office, people do not want him replaced by his rightful constitutional successor - Vice President Jejomar Binay. It is the reason, I believe, that efforts to unseat the president have not gotten off the ground. Even people furious at Aquino for what they think is his thorough mishandling of the Mamasapano tragedy pause when they consider who’ll step up should Aquino step down. The ongoing Senate investigation into Binay’s alleged corruption have provided months of jaw-dropping TV revelations to the public, and have planted an idea, fair or not, what a Binay presidency might be like.
Just my opinion - by Raissa Robles - While President Benigno Aquino III has successfully vanquished enemies, ironically, it is his personal friends who could bring him down. He has a difficult time letting go of pals who become political liabilities. The opposite is true of Vice President Jejomar Binay. He appears to have no problem dropping friends to further his political interests, and those ex-buddies are the ones who can bring him down.
And my other experiences while testifying at the Senate - By Raïssa Robles - When I testified at the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee on Oct 30, a clutch of nuns in white and grey habit quietly sat in the rear gallery of the Senate session hall. Well, maybe they weren’t TOTALLY quiet. During the testimony of businessman Antonio Tiu, some of the nuns went "tsk, tsk, tsk" and shook their heads, according to a friend of mine who sat with them.
Below is the piece I wrote for South China Morning Post, based on my June 29,2010 one-on-one interview with Vice-President Jejomar Binay. I am posting it with my editor's permission. - Vice-president has credentials as champion of poor Tuesday, 06 July, 2010, 12:00am - Raissa Robles in Manila - The new Philippine vice-president, Jejomar Binay, has a highly unusual but apt given name. It is a short form for the biblical Holy Family - Jesus, Mary, Joseph - which in the Filipino language is pronounced 'Susmaryosep', an exclamation of surprise and disbelief.
By Raïssa Robles - Over two weeks ago when I posted my piece entitled Binay told me in 2010 he had bought – not leased – the land for his piggery, Vice President Jejomar Binay and/or his political advisers chose to ignore it. However, some eagled-eyed Senate officials apparently saw it, which is the only reason I can give for why they subpoenaed me to explain the story to the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearing on October 30.
Your Honors, Two decades ago, the Senate was my beat as a reporter. I am here today because I was summoned by a Subpoena ad Testifcandum, to appear before a sub-committee of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee The subpoena included a warning – ‘Fail not under penalty of law.’
Here is the full video of the Question and Answer portion of President Benigno Aquino's forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP). FOCAP would welcome a similar forum with Vice-President Jejomar Binay.