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Ricky hibernates

President Noynoy Aquino recently found the time to joke about supposed pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. Aquino told a visiting group of Filipino-Canadians that a popular television series would not be able to piece together an episode based on her life story because she would always forget things. The joke, of course, is based on Napoles’ insistence during a Senate hearing that she could not remember any of the incidents that she was alleged to have participated in when she ran her mostly successful syndicate.

If I were Aquino, I’d be careful about making jokes about Napoles. She could still have the last laugh, because of the “ammunition” she supposedly has against top officials in the administration.

And I’m not talking about payoffs to mere lawmakers or their staff here. I’m talking about current palace officials who received vast sums of money from Napoles and who would probably spend the rest of their days in jail if she decided to “sing.”

Napoles’ damning and incontrovertible pieces of evidence against these officials are supposedly the reason why she has received the full kid-glove treatment from Aquino and his top henchmen from the very beginning. Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, among other lawmakers who believe they’ve been double-crossed by Aquino in the latter’s effort to find scapegoats to the scandal, are just itching to pull the trigger on Napoles’ evidence against these top administration officials, I’ve been told.

And what’s this I’ve heard that the supposed scam mastermind leaves her confinement at that police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna every blessed day for bath and breakfast in one of her posh houses in the south? Any jokes about that, Mr. President?

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Former Malacanang “troll master” and cyber-ops expert Ramon “Ricky” Carandang has found a new job in a company owned by a loyal, longtime financial backer of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. Carandang receives P300,000 a month doing basically nothing for an aviation company owned by the Roxas financier at an increasingly controversial building at the Fort in Taguig (or is it Makati?).

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with finding a job in the private sector after leaving government, especially one that pays big bucks – fat cat businessmen with an interest in government usually recycle former top bureaucrats to leverage the contacts of the latter in the public sector. But I’ve been told that Carandang’s employment is prospective in nature: he is simply in a holding pattern, collecting paychecks until his unique talents can once again be deployed to help win the 2016 presidential election for his patron, Roxas.

Carandang’s army of Internet trolls, I was informed, will again be activated before the next elections, after they were mostly left to fend for themselves when the secretary lost his palace job in a power play at the palace communications conglomerate. Carandang lost his palace job after he was eased out by the group of Secretary Herminio Coloma, who is backed by a presidential relative with longstanding links to the palace tri-media superstructure and who is now ruling the propaganda roost.

The departure of Carandang was felt immediately in the social media, as his hired Facebook and Twitter guns fell silent. (This newspaper, though, is still being targeted by pro-palace hackers, which is why readers are still sometimes redirected to that porn site when they try to navigate to stories and columns of their choice.)

As for that building in the Fort, it also houses rent-free offices of at least two other politicians with presidential ambitions, apart from Roxas. The edifice’s owners, you see, are into hedging their bets, to improve their chances of being in the good graces of the new Malacanang occupant after the next elections.

I’ve been told that the building has an excellent restaurant, as well. I’d go there, too, except that I don’t really like my dining experience ruined by a chance encounter with a politician with overweening ambition seated at the table next to mine.

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Thousands of residents of Tacloban City staged a protest action last week to demand more support from the Aquino administration. The mass action was a resounding denial of the results of a recent survey which said that the Taclobanons overwhelmingly approved of the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The international relief agency Oxfam and various local leaders and residents could not believe the high approval rating they supposedly gave to the efforts of the national government. Morbid jokesters could only surmise that the survey was conducted among the still-unburied dead in Tacloban, who were asked questions wherein “no reply” was supposed to mean approval.

At around the same time in Manila, President Noynoy Aquino took another of his increasingly regular digs at his critics in media. He insisted that his government still enjoys the support of the populace as reflected in the high approval ratings the polling companies report.

Well, survey companies do what they have to do, I guess. But deluding one person in Malacañang is way different from asking an unbelieving country to accept that Yolanda’s victims are happy campers in their leaking, falling-apart government-built bunkhouses.

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