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Business

‘The Firm’ firmly out of the Palace

TAKIN’ CARE OF BUSINESS -

Atty. Rodel Cruz of the Villaraza and Angangco law office – formerly known as ‘The Firm,’ now known as “The Other Firm” – is volunteering to be the lead prosecutor against resigned Comelec chairman Ben Abalos, who could be facing charges of graft and corruption as well as bribery on account of the ZTE national broadband network scandal. Atty. Cruz was the former undersecretary for legal affairs at the Department of National Defense during the time of Sec. Nonong Cruz, but who also resigned along with other lawyers from the firm when Sec. Cruz left DND late last year.

Rodel used to be part of the Palace loop, having spent several years serving with Nonong Cruz when the latter was GMA’s chief presidential legal counsel before his appointment to the DND. Formerly called the Carpio Villaraza and Cruz or CVC – now known as Villaraza and Angangco – the law firm’s relationship with GMA goes back to the 1990s. As a matter of fact, CVC was known to have helped manage GMA’s vice presidential campaign in 1998.

The scuttlebutt has it that Villaraza and Angangco, which was giving special counsel to GMA, had already warned against the controversial NBN deal because of certain legal loopholes. And now that the whole thing has blown, Cruz and his colleagues are saying the scandal could have been avoided if the project proponents hadn’t tried to cut legal corners. As it is, nobody could blame “The Other Firm” if it tells GMA ‘I told you so” because the controversy has really become a big headache for the administration.

It can be recalled that speculations were already rife last year that “The Other Firm” was withdrawing its support from GMA because it came into odds with the Palace on several instances when it played internal critic and devil’s advocate. But nowadays, GMA is apparently not in the mood to listen to dissenting opinion and just wants to be surrounded by “yes men” – which becomes a dangerous situation, something that happens to most “dictatorial” leaders.

With this latest development concerning Abalos, it looks like “The Other Firm” has really jumped over to the other side of the fence and is firmly out of Malacañang – which could prove to be a big loss, rather than a small gain, for the Palace.

***

Judging from the way Loren Legarda quietly goes about her work as Senator, it doesn’t seem like she’s in a hurry to join the race towards 2010 – despite the fact that she came out on top during the last May senatorial elections and that she remains very popular to this day. Perhaps Loren has learned not to set her sights too early on something that could hamper her from effectively doing her job as a senator.

A lot of people including myself share her passion for protecting the environment. Loren takes pride in the fact that her Luntiang Pilipinas Foundation has planted more than two million trees, and has passed several bills like the Clean Air Act and the Anti-Smoking Law. Now she’s pushing for the inclusion of a separate subject in high school that emphasizes environmental conservation, protection of forests and other topics stressing sustainable economic growth. Loren is particularly concerned that the indiscriminate cutting down of trees specially those along dams and watersheds could result in a serious water and power crisis – the results of which could be worse than people can imagine.

Loren had received some flak in the past from some people who perceived her to be in too much of a hurry to become vice president and perhaps president. She has repeatedly told close friends the presidency is far from her mind right now, and just wants to do a good job as a senator. She said she will only consider the presidency when the right time comes and if she feels it is really meant for her.

These days, Loren comes across as someone who takes her work as a legislator seriously, putting a lot of effort into it. A lot of people are also saying they like the aura of humility that they sense from the Number One Senator especially during the televised Senate hearings, asking intelligent questions in a composed and even tone, adding to the perception she has really done her homework on the controversial issues.

Which rather reminds me about an old Chinese saying attributed to Lao-Tze about three precious things in life: gentleness, frugality and humility – which makes a person put others before himself and is the mark of a true leader: “Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”

***

Email: babe_tcb@yahoo.com

BEN ABALOS CRUZ NONONG CRUZ OTHER FIRM VILLARAZA AND ANGANGCO
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