Jojo A. Robles

Kris saves the day

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Here’s an update on Plan D, the alleged plot of the increasingly desperate and still running mate-less Mar Roxas to draft presidential sister Kris Aquino as his vice presidential candidate under the Liberal Party’s banner: It just got a little more real.


The LP minions who are pushing Plan D are supposedly in the process of claiming as Kris’ handiwork the decision of her brother, President Noynoy Aquino, to reverse the government’s position on the random inspection of the balikbayan boxes of overseas Filipino workers. See, Kris posted a message on her Instagram account (withlovekrisaquino) last Saturday which said that she would work for a reversal of the much-maligned policy announced earlier by the Bureau of Customs.

The post, which garnered tens of thousands of “likes,” read:

“To all the OFWs & relatives/friends of our OFWs, I already forwarded your concerns w/c you very clearly stated on my thread in my previous post to those in a position to not only address them but hopefully study, clarify, and act on policies that have a direct impact on you, your sacrifices, and your love for family that motivates not just you, but all of us to work hard. I make no promises because I’m not in government, but your concerns didn’t fall on deaf ears, and in my own small & humble way I do hope I was able to help.”

The post also included a photograph of a pink doorway with a quote, attributed to American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, which said: “Be an opener of doors.”

According to the storyline, Kris used her influence on her brother, who had earlier defended the random inspection policy announced by Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, to reverse Malacañang’s position. This, the narrative went, would portray Kris as a defender of the OFWs and improve her standing in the eyes of the millions of voters who were outraged by Lina’s policy.

(It’s worth noting that Roxas himself never uttered a word on the matter of Customs’ plan for opening balikbayan boxes, probably because he realized that there was nothing to be gained from defending it politically. This was a smart move—if a departure from the program - from the candidate whose only real policy position so far is that he will continue on the daang matuwid of Aquino.)

Of course, Malacañang yesterday, August 25, tried its best to spin in its favor the hasty retreat made by Aquino on the matter and his decision to return to the way things were before the issuance of Lina’s order. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the President decided to “listen to the sentiments of his bosses among the OFWs” after a hastily-called meeting late Monday with Lina and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

Politics never entered the equation, Coloma said - which is really a barefaced lie, because Aquino has carefully crafted the image over the years of never allowing himself to be dissuaded from any course of action, once he’s made up his mind. Now, with an election fast approaching and his chosen candidate Roxas still firmly lodged in the cellar, Aquino learns to listen and change his mind on a policy that has millions of voters up in arms?

* * *

Of course, having Kris Aquino claim credit for convincing her brother to back down from the potentially disastrous balikbayan box fiasco adds the final touches to a damage control campaign that at one time threatened to engulf Roxas’ incipient campaign, as well. Because neither the President nor his anointed can convincingly sell themselves as being champions of the ordinary Filipino this late in the day, having Kris step in and “open doors,” as she said, is the closest to a “win-win” solution that the embattled palace could come up with.

But because Roxas has tied his political wagon to the falling star of the Aquino presidency, he can only expect to live or die by whatever his principal does in the remainder of his term. Unlike Barack Obama in 2008, who carefully avoided being identified in any way with his controversial fellow Democrat, former President Bill Clinton, Roxas cannot afford to decouple himself from Aquino.

Mar needs all the votes that Aquino can still bring to his flagging campaign, simply because he can’t afford to lose any. And in the coming months, when Aquino once again comes up with yet another harebrained idea like having Customs men open balikbayan boxes just because they can, Roxas can only keep his head down and his mouth firmly shut.

And if the strategy of having Kris Aquino wade in and save the day, saving us all (Roxas included) from her brother, is found to be effective, well, expect more of the same in the days to come. As Kris herself is fond of declaring, the time is “now na” for Mar Roxas - and, in all likelihood, for her own political plans.

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