GRACE IS GOD'S CHOICE

It was steaming humid in Aling Nena's tiny living room, but lessening my discomfort were a swiveling fan, her velvety voice and engaging smile.

Over the past thirty years or so, I have seen Aling Nena over a dozen times for psychic readings, and WOW, who can doubt a blind seeress, now 75, who reads with stunning accuracy your life including the exact places of the moles on your body?!

With religious images stacked up on the wall behind her, and a deck of tarot cards spread out over her desk, she said (as translated from Tagalog), "Hello, Mr. Roy! You've come for a political reading, right? Please sit down and, as usual, concentrate on the images with your hands rested on the desk palms down." After I did as instructed, she laid her hands on mine, then lowered her head eyes closed.

After awhile, she raised her head with eyebrows furrowed, then somberly whispered, "Grace is God's choice, but she faces problems posed by dark forces led by a former cigar-chomping president in military uniform. They are supporting a bad candidate.

"The voters must pray hard for wisdom, for enlightenment, so that they can see Grace's character, strength, courage and sense of duty shining through. Born parentless, she has been bullied and mocked for so long, but with the voters' prayers she can beat the enemy with a slingshot. If they do not supplicate, heaven will not interfere in the wayward exercise of their free will, and they must suffer the dire consequences of their wrong choices.

"Today's turmoil of inequality and greed shall not be assuaged by the succeeding presidency, but at least with Grace at the helm, it will not worsen. All must help her."

Aling Nena was at her clairvoyant best as she picked the questions out of my mind; and without a shred of doubt she was referring to former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos (FVR). Okay, let's talk about FVR, the Manong Eddie whom I met sometime during the early 60's, and for whom I once ghostwrote two speeches when he was president.

Sometime this January, a cabinet member of FVR told me the "organization" of the former president had just commenced a well-funded grassroots campaign for the foulmouthed presidential candidate, Rodrigo Duterte. He also stressed with a wink, "Ronnie, we'll be springing back to power soon." Power, power, power, I mulled, is this all these trapos (traditional politicians) hanker for?!

Anyway, it appears that FVR was the factor that moved Duterte up to first place on the survey ratings in the first two weeks this April, and he must be the huge "Goliath" who stands in the way of the small "David" represented by Grace Poe.

Indubitably, this is the same FVR who became president via the magic of dagdag bawas --- ask Miriam Defensor Santiago --- bragged he would rehabilitate a scrawny Mang Pandoy with a simple house and a job --- a project that would launch his vision of a "tiger economy" --- but failed as Mang Pandoy died destitute from tuberculosis a few years later.

FVR is a good propagandist of the Goebbels variety, who served as one of America's point men in Asia, and ended his term in 1978 leaving nothing in the budget for the operations of government of his successor, Joseph "Erap" Estrada. I know, for I didn't get my salary for two months along with the other lawyers and personnel of the Office of the Solicitor General.

Then when the newly elected Erap announced he would investigate the scandalous project of the National Centennial Commission --- which FVR had created to celebrate the Treaty of Paris that granted our freedom from Spain over a hundred years ago, a project that cost over a billion pesos exclusive of a donation from the Spanish government --- Erap practically signed his own "death warrant".

Under a shrewd FVR plan, Erap was quickly impeached with his "ward", then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, succeeding him. Soon enough, the scandal simmered down as the sprawling net --- one wonders if the humungous net still seen in Clark Air Base was worth a billion pesos --- would long be remembered as the subject of an unsolved presidential scam.

Parenthetically, when the construction project was beginning to stink to high heavens, I was invited to head the commission's management --- an offer which I of course turned down. I still recoil at the thought that FVR has not explained what happened to all that money, the same way he hasn't explained what rebel chief Nur Misuari did to the P 2 billion of people's money the former had given supposedly as economic aid for MNLF families.

Actually, Manong Eddie (FVR's moniker) is a nice man. He is very friendly and has a robust sense of humor, and I've never seen him in a hostile mood. But then, that's just the problem. Soldiers, especially alumni of the West Point Academy of which FVR is one, are professionals trained to be tough, disciplined and strict. Well, when revolutionary president Corazon C. Aquino amnestied the RAM soldiers who had pulled off a coup d' etat that critically wounded her son Noynoy, her Defense Secretary, FVR, ordered them to do some push ups as their punishment. The president then closed the case on his recommendation.

BTW, who can forget FVR's colossal blunder when, already as president, he first amnestied hundreds of rebel Muslim "returnees" then offered them work by integrating them in the Philippine National Police and, as a result, these Moros eventually rejoined their former rebel comrades, taking along stolen PNP munitions, firearms, explosives and sundry equipment, the supreme irony being that they would be used against our own soldiers?!

Yes, it was FVR who made GMA president, but look at what she did to the country. Now, FVR plans to install Rodrigo Duterte as president. What do you think will happen to us? Remember, in a Duterte presidency, FVR would certainly have a big say on national security issues. For instance, how would a softie like him, one who's never experienced any military front-line action, handle the worsening ISIS and China problems? Advice Duterte to confront them with rosaries and flowers??

But of course Duterte will not do that because --- and here's the real problem --- he is FVR's exact opposite: a self-admitted summary executioner of criminals during his mayoral stint in Davao City. Have you seen any of his infomercials? They're all about "salvaging" criminals, meaning: executing them without due process, and making the silly promise he would resign in three to six months if he failed to curb crime, corruption and drugs.

For democrats like Filipinos, whether Duterte succeeds or not is not the point. It is his utterly immoral disregard of Man's law against murder, and of God's Commandment Thou shalt not kill, that will exacerbate the turmoil that Aling Nena sees in her psychic mind. I'm somewhat psychic myself, but let me tell you this: the seeress has never failed to stun me, and when she gave a figurative definition of Grace, did I have the goose bumps!!

Grace has maintained her composure through all the insults thrown at her; she's got character. She is frail-looking, but then: "strength is made from weakness" (II Corinthians. XX. 9). And as for courage, what courage is better shown than by her will to fight a behemoth of a giant with a slingshot? And finally, although Grace may know that she could lose, she seeks the highest office as a matter of a sense of duty.


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