OPINION: 'Sleeping dogs' and the Senate President

Buddy Gomez -- Cyberbuddy

Posted at Jun 23 2018 05:00 PM

The incumbent Senate President is, of course, none other than Vicente C. Sotto III. Also known as Tito Sotto of  “Eat Bulaga” fame, the Philippine’s longest-running  noon-time TV comedy variety show.

In the instance we speak of, the ‘sleeping dog’ might as well be the idiom for a long past sensational piece of a crime story involving the rape of a 16-year-old local cinema vixen in 1982, screen-named Pepsi Paloma. But for the fact that she committed suicide three years later, perhaps out of  trauma and torment, the rape accusation itself and the succession of events from police reports to the filing of a criminal case, the temporary disappearance of the victim and her desistance from the case, might all just have remained among muted props in Manila’s everyday crime tableau. But the suicide harkened back to all the sordid antecedents highlighted because the accused were entertainment personalities, all of “Eat Bulaga!”  One of the accused is a younger brother of Tito Sotto. Tito himself, although not one of the accused, was portrayed as more than just a forceful intervenor successfully convincing the victim to “desist” from the case.

“Let sleeping dogs lie” is an idiomatic expression. Its message is the avoidance of “restarting or rekindling an old argument.” Cautionary, it counsels to ”leave disagreements in the past” and to “not discuss the matter any further.” As a common expression, its “meaning does not relate to the literal meaning of the words.”

While the Pepsi Paloma affair has remained a matter of record in police files and in newspaper archives, the matter has almost completely disappeared from public consciousness. The involvement of celebrities, however, necessarily invited occasional mentions and references. These have been very rare and far between, however.

Why are we talking about it today? Because Senator Vicente Sotto III, on May 29, just soon after his election to the Senate presidency, in a manner of speaking, himself raised Pepsi Paloma from her pained repose! Sotto wrote the Philippine Daily Inquirer asking that certain columns recalling the life and death of  Pepsi Paloma that mentioned his name, written more than four years ago, be stricken off the PDI’s news website. (Rodel Rodis’ The Rape of Pepsi Paloma/Mar. 5, 2014 & Was Pepsi Paloma Murdered? / Mar. 15/2014) Senator Sotto said that the “unverified articles have been negatively affecting my reputation.” His letter to PDI was not confidential and therefore went public.

Suddenly, that ‘sleeping dog’ roused up into a raging bull of renewed gossip, renewed coffee shop talk and new knowledge, interest and awareness for everybody else not around in the mid-80s. A forgotten Pepsi Paloma once again a memory evoking more pathos. For days on end that followed, public aggravation for the Senate President ensued.  All of a sudden, internet search traffic was  rather heavy.   

The Senate President now knows what a colossal miscalculation is. It is a ‘sleeping dog.’

“What goes around comes around.” That’s not an idiom, but a proverb, pretty much related to “karma.” Consequences of one’s actions will be dealt with some time.

Pacquiao's dream


“Will Filipinos love for basketball also help Pacquiao achieve his political dreams?”  

So says a sports news item on news.abs-cbn.com a few days ago. The Pacquiao ‘political dream’ being none other than his bruited ‘vision’ of running for the Presidency of the Philippines. The question was raised because of the attempt being undertaken by the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), a semi-professional basketball league founded by Sen. Manny, to compete for public attention. It appears that this regional sports competition will have a longer season than the dominant PBA. Name recall is the unabashed intention.

Considering past Filipino electoral idiosyncrasy, the dream is not exactly out of place but for the looming reality that Pacquiao has lost much of his earlier cachet. The best attestation of this fall from the peoples’ grace is that there is now a lack of enthusiasm over his forthcoming World Welterweight Championship bout in Kuala Lumpur  (July 15) against title-holder Argentinian Lucas Matthysse. In fact, and this is tied up to his public adulation for President Duterte, as well as his dubious performance as a senator, there are quarters within his former national fan following, who wish him an object lesson in humility. They are not at all shy about wishing Manny a drubbing.

Regardless of outcome, the Kuala Lumpur setto will finally bring down the curtains on Manny Pacquiao’s boxing career. But his bout with the taxman--the Bureau of Internal Revenue--over his unpaid and unsettled income tax obligations, along with the compounding fines and fees, will not be ending soon. It is now running into billions of pesos.  

“Freezing the ball” on the process is the best that Manny can achieve while Duterte is  alive.  

China loans

The political opposition--Liberal Party--requires vigorous vigilance in order to serve with credibility!

There is one glaring instance when the political opposition has been remiss and in fact neglectful of its oversight responsibilities. As early as a year  ago, some non-politician supporters of the Liberal Party have been urging the opposition in the Senate to call for an investigation of Duterte’s China loans. In fact, there was such a public call and much concern expressed over these loans, more so because it is a principal source of financial support for the administration’s  Build, Build, Build aspirational legacy agenda. Ghosts of a Marcosian past seem to lurk in the horizon!

In February this year, National Economic  and Development Authority Director-General Ernesto Pernia was questioned by media on why the Duterte administration favored the much higher interest rates China was charging the Philippines. That stands at China's 3% versus Japan's 0.25 – 0.75%. When the only answer that the country’ chief economic officer could give was a very nonsensical-- “Because we need more friends!”--that indeed was a red flag. Otherwise, a vigilance alert ought to have been hoisted with sirens blaring. Fishy and suspicious. But that did not budge the opposition, obviously  somewhat somnolent. Already bothersome, indeed, because China possessed the notoriety of ‘debt entrapment’ among quite a number of China loan recipients. And the world knows about it!

Now, a junior senator from the ranks of the Senate majority, Sherwin Gatchalian, has taken up the task that ought to have been a ‘natural’ for the opposition. That loss of opportunity may still be easily overlooked if the LP stalwarts in the Senate would participate and support the inquiry sought by the Committee on Economic Affairs. 

China loan ‘debt entrapment’ is an existing reality and the Philippines is being suckered into. It is essential that today’s taxpayers and their children; their children’s children be informed. After all, it is their future that Duterte has encumbered. It is essential that the taxpayer be informed of the devilishly detailed terms and conditionalities of the national debt from China. The taxpayer deserves the opposition’s vigorous vigilance; its creative and educative noise.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.