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OPINIONS

E tu, Vietnam?

Ninfa Leonardia

A special election was conducted by the Commission on Election in Ilocos Sur for the congressman to replace the one who had been convicted of drug trafficking and now serving a jail sentence in Hongkong. Is there a need to guess who won? The post easily went to Ryan Singson, brother of the disgraced Ronald, who had to resign his position after being sentenced. Both are sons of Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson.

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If it were only as easy as that to choose the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund, after the arrest and arraignment of Dominique Strauss-Khan. Earlier, the most likely to succeed him was Christine Lagarde, also from France, whose colleagues appeared to be endorsing for the vacant post. However, there are now rumblings from other countries protesting against the appointment of another European, especially from France, where Strauss-Kahn also comes from. Asian leaders, for instance, seem to resent the fact that developing countries are never given a chance to hold such an important office.

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The Indian Prime Minister, for one, is quite vocal about such inequity, but he realistically says that there is a very slim chance that the IMF head will come from an Asian country. He is joined in his gripe by Russia, Brazil, China, and even South Africa. Earlier there were reports about the Middle East also sulking about the discrimination, but the countries there probably will not mind, so long as it will not be France again to get the job.

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More election stories – many people raised their eyebrows at the news that Tingting Cojuangco, the wife of the President’s uncle, has filed her certificate of candidacy for vice governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Why, the owners of the eyebrows asked, is she a resident of Mindanao? All the time, they thought she was living in one of the posh subdivisions in Makati, or at the family estate in Tarlac. A news item later explained that she had been working with Muslims for a long time and already has a house in Mindanao and, in fact, has registered as a voter there. Ah, su des ka, as the Japanese would say it.

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But there seems to be much more than meets the eye in this new development in what could be regarded as the country’s First Family, rather, “First Clan”. It started with some hints in the columns of opposition media about the disappointment of presidential Tito, Peping C. in the way his nephew acts towards him. A columnist for the Manila Standard once published portions of Cojuangco’s letter to him, expressing his disappointment in the new president who, apparently, does not listen to him as much as his mother used to do.

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Then followed what was referred to as “an open letter” from him, where he said something about his wholehearted campaign for Noynoy being “thankless.” Hmmm… could the President have heard that there are some politicians who claim to be close to his tito, and who threatened people before the elections that they will be deported in case Noynoy wins, because they are close to the Tito? That’s not far-fetched, you know. But it is sad to note that this is happening. What would Cory have said if she were around?

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The smoking ban will take effect in Metro Manila today. So smokers must start looking out and, perhaps check now which places are not covered by the ban. Reports say that those caught now will just be warned, but after July 1, apprehension will already be made and fines imposed. Some say this ban is impossible to implement, but who knows? There are many people who are really allergic to second-hand smoke and they will not hesitate to report violators. Just between us, what about policemen who smoke? Can we report them, and will their colleagues act?

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Speaking of policemen, my, Vietnam has set very stringent rules for them lately. An Agence France Press report yesterday said cops there are now prohibited to wear dark glasses, chatting, smoking, and even putting their hands in their pockets while on duty, and must observe good manners and right conduct all the time. They must also not read books, make personal phone calls, drink alcoholic liquor or eat at sidewalk restaurants. These were considered necessary because citizens there regard their police as “notoriously corrupt”, as well as brutal to those arrested. The report could be made from the Philippines, too, couldn’t it?*

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