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Of credit-grabbing Epals and contentious HDOs

Posted On 2011 Dec 06
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OSCAR F. PICAZO

NEED one say anything to introduce Philippine politics? Ah, what mess, what circus, what potpourri, what huge entertainment – which seems to be the only rational posture one can take, otherwise one would fall into a deep, deep depression about the future of our dear Philippines.
Abracadabra – n., the trick used by an Abra Province political family to accumulate luxury cars and real estate property by cornering the Internal Revenue Allocation and other fiscal resources of the local government units the family controls.
All-out justice (AOJ) – n., a verbal legerdemain of the Aquino Administration that says unabashedly to the Muslim separatists in Mindanao, “We will pursue the path of peace but we will bomb the hell out of your rebel lairs.”  The military bombings in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay that followed the massacre of 19 soldiers in the hands of MILF in October 2011 were described by eyewitnesses as “flawless” while BAYAN, a left-leaning organization, has assailed AOJ as “all-out war against the Bangsamoro people.”  AOJ is double-speak reportedly crafted by the master advertising man, and now Cabinet Secretary, who was behind Jollibee’s Chickenjoy.
Big fish kill – n., a much awaited event by ordinary Filipinos when the series of Senate hearings on big-time corruption finally leads to prosecution and incarceration, possibly even death by firing squad if the death penalty is re-established for such end.  (Combination of ‘big fish’ and ‘fish kill,’ the death of fish in cages in lakes due to overcrowding and lack of oxygen.)
Epal – n., an interloper, credit-grabber, and kibitzer; usually a national or local politician who employs the large-format tarpaulin to tell people s/he was responsible for having constructed or repaired public infrastructure; publicly congratulates graduates like s/he was the parent; takes every opportunity (Christmas, fiesta, his own birthday) to give uncalled for greetings to people and to himself/herself; and employs any imaginable public-promotion trick just so s/he can be visible and have  good name-recall among clueless voters come election time. (A word play on ‘mapapel,’ which literally means expanding one’s role in the written script.) Synonym of ‘kapalmuks’.
Hold departure order (HDO) – The parent says to an erring teenage child, “You’re grounded.” The Department of Justice or the Supreme Court says to an erring citizen, “You can’t fly.” As the wags say, ‘same difference.’ The HDO is what keeps the former president GMA from traveling abroad to seek treatment (according to her camp) or to seek political asylum (according to those withholding the HDO and millions of Filipinos who think she is a ‘flight risk’).
Lito Lapidary – adj., the deathly silence of inarticulate senators during heated Senate hearings; it begs the question of why they went to the Senate in the first place.
Message therapist – n., a presidential spokesperson assigned the task of kneading and smoothing communication information until it is perceived to be liked by the distressed body politic.
Presidentiable – adj., having the virtues and characteristics of being a potential head of state.  People displaying these remarkable characteristics used to be known as ‘presidential timber,’ except that most of the forest timber had been cut, and such deforestation has become the objective correlative of the disappearance of those with truly presidential characteristics.
Senatoriable – adj., having the popular characteristics needed to win as senator, e.g., good looks, a toothsome smile, an endearing charm to kiss babies and hug the great unwashed, and a plenitude of promises.  Intelligence and integrity are optional.
Editor’s Note – The author is a health economist who has lived in four countries (the Philippines, the U.S., Kenya, and South Africa) and has worked in 23, mostly in Asia and Africa. He has retired from the World Bank and is now based in Quezon City, doing occasional consulting assignments with development agencies, foundations, and nongovernmental organizations. He finished economics (magna cum laude) from the University of Santo Tomas, M.A. economics (and Ph.D., minus dissertation) from the University of the Philippines, and was a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in health financing at the Johns Hopkins University. He was the literary editor and then editor-in-chief of “The Varsitarian,” the student organ of U.S.T. He was a poetry prizewinner of Focus Magazine in 1980 and is now trying to resume creative writing.  This is his first published nontechnical article in 30 years.

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