IS it merely coincidental?
On the day that seven of the 15 justices of the Supreme Court ruled based on statistical probability that Sen. Grace Poe was a natural-born Filipino, she defended industrialist Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco from the decades-long charge that he owed his immense wealth from the coconut levy at the expense of the estimated 4 million coconut farmers, the intended beneficiaries.
Sure, she was right when she said that Danding Cojuangco doesn’t control the proceeds from the coco levy anymore because all the shares that are meant for the farmers are now with government. In 2012, the SC ruled that 31 percent of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) shares should go to the government for the benefit of the coconut farmers, and 20 percent, for Cojuangco.
She failed to mention (or was it just an honest mistake?) that during martial law, Cojuangco used coco levy funds to buy controlling stock of SMC with San Miguel Beer as its flagship product, from the Soriano family and religious orders. She omitted the fact that Cojuangco profited most from the “katas ng niyog” and held on to the largesse for 4 decades or so.
But why should she ignore these facts in defending Cojuangco? It’s elementary, dear Watson. The Nationalist People’s Coalition founded by Cojuangco had endorsed her candidacy, along with that of her running-mate, Sen. Chiz Escudero. It’s also well known, that SMC’s CEO, Don Ramon S. Ang, has been a generous contributor to her campaign funds. Not only that, Ang has also allowed her to use SMC planes in her sorties.
So, is it any wonder that that right after her “victory” at the Supreme Court, she flew to Quezon province, the top coconut producer in the country, where she defended Cojuangco. Well, she can be accused of many things but she can’t be accused of ingratitude. Oh yes, she did say in Quezon that she was getting impatient that coco farmers have yet to benefit from the coco levy funds more than four decades after they paid for it. Ah, but this provides no comfort to farmers coming from a defender of a person who had immensely benefited from what should be theirs.
Some may wonder why Cojuangco should be supporting Grace Poe instead of Sen. Mar Aquino who has been endorsed by his nephew, President BS Cojuangco Aquino. Hey, haven’t they heard that she’s the secret candidate of the President? He’s so concerned with covering his back when he leaves Malacañang that he could willingly junk Roxas in favor of the more popular Poe. In fact, there have also been talks that the Liberal Party headed by the Malacañang tenant had exerted efforts to convince the SC to reverse the Comelec, which had refused to dismiss the disqualification cases against Poe.
A victory by Poejuangco will ensure that no charges would prosper against BS Aquino and that oligarchs will continue to make hay under her administration. Otherwise, this former American citizen should have rejected, like Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had declared, any campaign contributions from vested interests.
In a recent interview with reporters in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, she protested against the “Poejuangco” label given her by critics even as she acknowledged that some Cojuangco family members had helped her in the past. She vowed a level playing field for supporters and political foes under her administration.
Casino money welcome too?
Oops, I shouldn’t have stopped at “oligarchs.” Should we throw in casino financiers as well? The Daily Tribune reported that she had accepted P150 million in political donations from Sun City Holiday Resort, a Macau firm that controls around 80 percent of the estimated $6.1-billion VIP baccarat market in that Chinese territory. Among the documents obtained by The Daily Tribune was a voucher for P50 million in contributions that it said she had signed.
I wonder if she has become so less discerning with a consuming desire to be president that she would willingly accept donations from all sectors, including from foreign firms and aliens which is prohibited by law. Further, casinos are now under closer scrutiny because of their role in money laundering cases. Nobody will believe that a Macau casino mogul would give political contributions because they believe in the goodness of the heart of a candidate. There has to be a quid pro quo and that’s why money from casinos for local politics is bothersome.
In the same interview in Iloilo, Poe denied receiving political contributions from the Macau casino firm, saying she knew it was illegal. She also denied signing the voucher for P50 million in contributions.