It will perhaps be a tall order to remember any year in which the Philippines was rocked by more controversies than in 2008. But there were also events that provided reasons to think and believe that there is still hope for the Philippines. Let us look back at the year that was by taking stock of the people who, in our estimation, are the top newsmakers of 2008.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
It will perhaps be a tall order to remember any year in which the Philippines was rocked by more controversies than in 2008. The Philippines last year was shaken by almost all sorts of scandals – from overpriced contracts to money-laundering plots to aborted peace deals to Charter-change drives and even physical assault perpetrated by a public official while his father, a Cabinet official, just stood by and watched.
But there were also events that provided reasons to think and believe that there is still hope for the Philippines.
Let us look back at the year that was by taking stock of the people who, in our estimation, are the top newsmakers of 2008:
Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman
· The Pangandamans – Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and his son Nasser Jr., mayor of Masiu, Lanao del Norte, hogged the headlines right on the heels of Christmas Day 2008. The younger Pangandaman got into an altercation with businessman Delfin dela Paz at the Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo City on Dec. 26. What started out as a verbal tussle turned violent, with Dela Paz and his 14-year-old son Bino – who had tried to stop the fight – getting beaten up by the Masiu mayor and his bodyguards. All the while, the elder Pangandaman just stood by without even lifting a finger to stop his son and the others.
· Reps. Mikey and Dato Arroyo – The presidential sons are pointed to as masterminds of moves at the House of Representatives to amend the Constitution to allow the extension of public officials’ term limits, most especially that of their mother Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as well as the easing of restrictions on the activities of foreign investors, including the right to purchase land. While both have denied these allegations, the renewed Charter-change moves have caused various political blocs to converge, staging a big rally in Makati City last Dec. 12 and vowing to hold bigger actions.
· Manny Pacquiao – The boxer from General Santos City capped what for him was a year of triumphs with a stunning victory against Mexican-American boxing star and future Hall of Famer Oscar dela Hoya. People were already talking about the Pacquiao-Dela Hoya fight months before it could take place, with many seeing Pacquiao as being up against tremendous odds. In the end, however, Dela Hoya did not put up the kind of fight he was expected to put up, and settled for taking all of Pacquiao’s punches.
· Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile and Manny Villar – Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was elected as Senate President on Nov. 17 following Sen. Manny Villar’s resignation from the post. Earlier that day there was talk of a petition circulating among senators, which called for Villar’s ouster. Some senators claimed that Villar’s resignation stemmed from his being linked to the double insertion in the national budget for the C5 road extension project, but Enrile’s election to the top Senate post is also seen as a move to ensure Malacañang’s control over the Upper Chamber.