I’m glad Loida Nicolas Lewis, the Arianna Huffington wannabe originally from Sorsogon City but now based in New York City, has shown her true colors. And yes, Lewis is as Yellow as can be, with an important difference: she has a billion-dollar fortune inherited from her deceased junk-bond trader-husband Reginald, which she uses to fund her favored politicians back home in the “PI,” as longtime Filipino immigrants to the US call the old country.
Lewis has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to resign, after Duterte 86’d Lewis’ favorite Yellow in power, Vice President Leni Robredo, from the Cabinet. When Loida Lewis speaks, the Yellows get all het up, thinking perhaps of the millions that their US-based Mommy Warbucks has judiciously used to keep them in power for the past 30 years.
And Robredo has long been a pet project of Lewis. If a disqualification case filed against her in 2013 by former Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte Sr. is to be believed, Lewis bankrolled Leni’s campaign, albeit indirectly through US-based persons and entities.
Villafuerte, who lost his Congress seat to Robredo in the elections that year, alleged that Lewis funneled money through persons and corporations in the US, despite the prohibition on foreigners making campaign contributions under Philippine election laws. (In a counter-affidavit, Robredo denied soliciting and receiving foreign donations, even if her Facebook account urged US donors to “mail check[s] payable to Loida Lewis ITF [in trust for] Leni Robredo, PO Box 1080, Gracie Station, NY NY 10028”; the FB account “Atty Leni Robredo,” where the funding request was made, was taken down shortly after Villafuerte filed his suit.
Robredo, like her losing 2016 running mate Mar Roxas, was also supposed to have received money from Lewis to fund her vice presidential run this year, as well. Lewis’ contributions are believed to have made up a substantial portion of the P423.1 million in contributions she received, giving her the biggest war chest by a vice presidential candidate; no wonder Lewis is now acting to protect her investment.
I don’t know where Lewis, who was also a major booster of losing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, gets the chutzpah to call for Duterte’s resignation. All I know is, she has no call to meddle in our affairs, never mind if she’s bankrolled Yellow candidates since the time of Cory Aquino.
Philanthropy, which is supposed to be Lewis’ avocation, is one thing. Partisan political interference from abroad, simply because you can afford it, is quite another.
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The business community is getting antsy over the continued depredations of the Communist New People’s Army in the countryside, despite the peace talks that have been restarted under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte. In Mindanao in the past two weeks, Communist rebels have burned four Yellow Bus Line buses and torched heavy earth-moving equipment belonging to various construction companies, and yet the military seems helpless to stop the attacks.
Military sources have told me that they have been ordered to “stand down” and downplay the NPA attacks because of the current talks. Meanwhile, in Manila, the Communists and their front organizations have stepped up their demands for Duterte’s government to free hundreds of their detained comrades, who have remained in jail pending the resolution of criminal charges filed against them.
It is to Duterte’s credit that he has brought back the Communists to the negotiating table, after they were shunned by the previous administration because of the supposed unreasonable demands made by their representatives to the on-again, off-again talks. But it seems that the Communists are still unhappy with Duterte’s broad gestures for peace, which include a unilateral nationwide ceasefire that the rebels have yet to reciprocate.
Duterte has indeed bent over backwards to accommodate the Left, even appointing their leaders to high Cabinet positions. He has also hosted the entire leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF at a dinner in Malacañang Palace, something no president has ever done.
So far, Duterte has relied on his excellent and longtime relationship with the Communists, forged when he was still mayor of Davao City, to entice the rebels to stop fighting and to talk peace instead. But many people are starting to worry that the Reds really have no desire to end their decades-long rebellion and are merely waiting for an excuse to resume full-blown hostilities with the military, particularly in the countryside.
Critics of the administration have maintained that Duterte may be demoralizing the military by being too chummy with the Reds, who have not been as receptive to his peace initiatives, in the opinion of military field commanders. Duterte himself has struggled to explain that what he really wants is to end all domestic insurrections —not the Communist rebellion but also the Muslim one—in various visits to military camps all over the country.
But the local businessmen who are still being continually harassed by the rebels need more protection from the collectors of the rebels’ “revolutionary taxes.” And if Duterte will not be sensitive to their pleas for help, they, too, could become disenchanted with the change that has not yet come.