‘Boy Balato’

Let’s look beyond the yellow Tonka toy truck and its payload of documents for a moment and consider instead Kap’s amazing story about a certain Boy Pickup and his boss, Boy Balato. Because one senator’s clandestine trip to Malacañang, chauffeured no less by the President’s transportation secretary and personal troubleshooter, offers a unique insight into the possibly criminal and impeachable skulduggery that this administration is capable of doing in order to pursue its policy of vendetta. 

After all, we’ve already heard from another senator about how President Noynoy Aquino bribed (sorry, “incentivized”) the Senate to convict impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. Now we hear a tale of tampering Corona’s de facto jury of senators by Aquino himself, in exchange for undisclosed political and other favors down the road.

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla said he was “weirded out” by the request of Aquino for him to do the President the favor of convicting Corona. And yet Revilla, apparently believing that he had been promised a mutually beneficial relationship with Malacañang, gave Aquino his vote; now Revilla obviously feels that he’s been double-crossed.

Of course, Revilla did not really say in his privilege speech at the Senate yesterday if he got any immediate payback for agreeing to convict Corona. The senator picked up the story a lot later, a year after the May 2012 conviction of Corona, when Revilla alleged that his refusal to back Aquino’s candidate for governor in his home province in Cavite directly led to the senator’s inclusion in the list of lawmakers charged for pocketing their pork barrel funds.

But while Revilla’s speech lacked any details of bribes or “incentives” changing hands, it did show how “Boy Balato” Aquino and his closest associates—then Transportation Secretary Mar “Boy Pickup” Roxas and Budget Secretary Florencio “Boy Tulungan” Abad Jr.—asked Congress to do as the President wished: they offered mutual back-scratching deals because Corona “had to go,” in the President’s words.

Just like Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who disclosed the bribery of the Senate through what later became known as Aquino’s and Abad’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, Revilla will be pilloried for being motivated by self-preservation by the palace and its media minions. Revilla, Estrada and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, after all, have been singled out as having directly benefited from the pork barrel scandal.

But what cannot be denied is an apparently clear policy of arm-twisting and bribery by Malacañang in the Corona case, which the Palace has always said is Congress’ independent action. These are very serious charges against Aquino, Roxas, Abad and their confederates—charges that should not be snowed under by the usual Palace propaganda efforts.

The Tonka truck prop was really unnecessary, if you ask me. What was really devastating was the plateless SUV ride by “Boy Pickup” Roxas, the request for a “balato” by Aquino and the offer of reciprocation through “tulungan” by the bagman, Abad.

* * *

The rumors that Roxas took his transportation assignment to absurd, super-literal lengths during the Corona trial by ferrying senators to Aquino for “convincing” by the President had long been going around, of course. Malacañang was able to ignore these rumors because no one really came out to testify that he had been chauffeured by the Cabinet member.

But just when Malacañang seems to have succeeded in getting people to forget about DAP, Revilla may have shined a spotlight again on the underhanded—and quite possibly illegal—tactics of Aquino and his men. After all, Revilla asked some very important questions that require answers from the administration:

If Aquino actively sought the cooperation of senators acting as judges in an ongoing trial, could he not also be directly pressuring members of the Supreme Court in order to get his way in pending cases like the one questioning the legality of DAP? What would prevent Aquino from twisting the arms of the justices of the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court or the supposedly independent Ombudsman in cases involving Aquino’s political foes or those involving his allies, like election commissioner Grace Padaca?

As this is being written, there has been no response from Malacañang to the very serious charges lobbed by Revilla at the President. Aquino is supposedly busy attending an inter-faith rally for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, a very unusual activity for a President who has always emphasized the separation of Church and State.

Nothing has been heard, either, from Roxas and Abad, the Cabinet members named by Revilla as Aquino’s co-conspirators in the campaign to tamper with the Senate sitting as an impeachment court. Perhaps they, too, are busy praying with Aquino.

Of course, if the President has decided to implore the aid of Divine Providence, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d pray, too, if I were “Balato” Aquino, because he seems to have run out of ways to stop the disclosure of just how far away from the straight path the plateless SUV of his administration has veered.

And if you’re not weirded out yet, whip out your camera phone and take a picture of the driver. If he looks like Mar Roxas, you’re about to be taken on a long, strange trip.

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