Why was Arthur Yap ‘intrigued’ out of the Palace?

BY THE WAY - Max V. Soliven -
You don’t have to be a political swami to realize that Secretary Yap, Director General up to yesterday of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), was bumped out of the Palace by very influential men. True, he was named to the Cabinet post from where he originally came, that of Secretary of Agriculture.

Alikabok tells me that the suddenness of his "transfer" came like a bolt out of the blue for Yap. Sure enough, his return to the Agriculture portfolio had been discussed by La Presidenta with him earlier, but this move was supposed to take place next year.

The news certainly came as a shock to Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban, a very competent man and genuine agricultural expert (he came from UP Los Baños), I hope he didn’t learn of his ouster – and transfer to the National Poverty Commission – from reading the newspapers or hearing about it on the radio.

As for Art Yap, he’ll remain in the Cabinet, but being Aggie Secretary can’t compare to his job as PMS Chief, which means he was daily at the elbow of the President. There’s no power like being in the center of power.

I think that Yap, always loyal and true to the Boss Lady and bright as well as affable, was ill-served by La Presidenta’s precipitate move. He didn’t deserve it. But I guess that’s why Malacañang is called the Snake Pit. If one is in the inner circle, he must know that he’s in a nest of vipers, each of them vying with the others to be King Viper. (I didn’t say King Cobra, because a cobra, while also completely poisonous, at least gives its victim a warning by puffing up its head before going into the attack).

Who did Yap run afoul of? Mike Defensor, Ed Ermita, or both, or some other Rasputin in the corridors?

I know it’s too late to sing his praises – perhaps it even might get GMA pissed off at him with her legendary temper – but Yap was one of the most honorable and modest individuals in her inner Court.

When he and his dad were charged with "tax evasion" a couple of years ago, Art didn’t hesitate to resign so he could fight the accusations hurled against his family by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. After he and his folks won their case and were vindicated, he didn’t immediately seek to return to government service but served GMA in a personal capacity, standing by her even at the height of the "Hyatt 10" controversy and the barrage of spitballs raining on her head accompanied by noisy calls for her resignation. Then he rejoined her Palace staff without portfolio until, much later, he was awarded the PMS job.

I suppose there’s no protection for the naive even if they’re pure of heart. The Power Game is ruthless – and takes no prisoners. The only way to survive in the Never-Never Land of Palace politics is to amend the Golden Rule to one of Brass (as in brass tacks): "Do unto others before they do it unto you."
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The Court of Appeals gave embattled Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay a reprieve by issuing a 60-day TRO (temporary restraining order) lifting his suspension by DILG Secretary Ronnie Puno. This means that Binay will be able, for the time being at least, to resume his duties as Mayor of the nation’s wealthiest and most high-profile city. In any event, the "debate" both foreboding and jocular, was whom to fear most in you-know-what, Jojo or Ronnie Puno.

At least Binay, who appeared haggard yesterday even as he got the good news, made it to international fame, or notoriety, depending on which side you’re on. He was featured in a three-column story on page one of The International Herald Tribune under the headline: "Philippine Mayor Defies Government."

The daily published worldwide ran a photo of Binay in his "unbuttoned camouflage Philippine Marines jacket with a colonel’s insignia stitched onto it." Indeed, he wore the unbuttoned jacket over a red shirt perhaps to signify he was at war.

Since the IHT is a completely-owned subsidiary of The New York Times, we can presume Colonel Jojo’s story hit that newspaper’s pages, too, although the Bogeyman and Buffoon of the Hour is North Korea’s Kim Jong-il.

"I think in your unguarded moments, in these times of crisis, you are compelled to wear something that is demanded by the situation," Binay had explained to Correspondent Carlos H. Conde why he wore the unbuttoned Marine uniform.

Incidentally, that foolish talk about possibly initiating court martial proceedings against "reservist" Marine Binay for improperly wearing his uniform and on the wrong occasion ought to be scrapped. The military, which has other problems, should simply shrug and say that Binay was wearing the jacket to a pre-Halloween Costume Party.

Making Binay look like a martyr is not good PR for the GMA Government, nor is martyrdom’s halo fitting – no, no – for Mayor Binay.
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He may be annoying, but all eyes are focused on the Dear Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), namely Kim Jong-il.

Cable television and TV news highlighted the massive marching-sound-and-light parade put on last Wednesday night by "Marshal" Kim to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Down With Imperialism Union in Pyongyang, cleverly timed to impress a world already agog over the revelation that Kim possessed a nuclear bomb – and probably more. The show of force, with dancing men and women, torch-bearing legions, and all that disciplined hoopla, was reminiscent of the Nuremberg rallies staged in the 1930s by Der Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, his Nazi storm troopers and his Wehrmacht.

US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice only emphasized the concern of the United States and the United Nations (which passed UN Resolution 1718 imposing sanctions on North Korea) when she declared in Seoul yesterday, after coming from Tokyo, that one of the warnings issued to Kim was that he must not export nuclear devices or nuclear material to other countries or organizations.

That’s the fear of almost everybody. It’s not worrisome enough that Kim is off his rocker, but he could sell his technology and nuke material to terrorist outfits like al-Qaeda.

Kim’s regime is well-known for its nefarious "export" activities. In the 1960s, Pyongyang had imported Soviet rockets and surface-to-ship missiles – then successfully cloned them and improved on them. In 1971, Pyongyang then made an agreement with the Chinese to develop ballistic missiles, originally based on the German V2 flying bombs. Acquiring Russian-made scud missiles from Egypt, North Korea then developed prototypes of them. In 1985, Iran, then locked in a war with Iraq, helped finance North Korea’s missile program in exchange for receiving a steady supply of missiles to hurl at Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

In short, North Korea for years produced and delivered hundreds of Scuds and Scud-B missiles to Iran, as well as Syria. Next, in 1993 they developed a bigger version they labelled the "Nodong" with a range of 900 miles. Finally, recruiting a number of suddenly-unemployed former Soviet scientists, they made themselves an even longer-range rocket, the "Taedong 1."

Kim’s customer list expanded to Egypt, Libya, and then even Iran’s foe, Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. When their lucrative trade in weaponry was curtailed by the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, Kim’s boys made up for the deficit by stepping up exports of opium – and, yes, counterfeit US dollars. From being the world’s third biggest exporter of opium from extensive poppy fields, North Korea in the 1990s switched to manufacturing methamphetamines (shabu) earning billions of dollars annually in Japan by smuggling the drug into that country by special ops vessels and, would you believe, submarines. Remember, the Yakuza’s hit-men and street thugs, called chimpira (or "pricks"), are mostly Koreans, whether nisei or shinsei – second or third generation – which the native-born Japanese refer to, in racist terms, as Chosun-jin. Also, almost all the Pachinko parlors, that fanatically-played pinball game, are owned by Japanese-Koreans. Kim and his smugglers thus had a direct pipeline into Japan and a source of money-extraction.

Author Jasper Becker reports that "North Korean diplomats and intelligence agents have also been caught in over 20 countries dealing in cocaine, Rohypnol (a tranquilizer tablet better known as the ‘date-rape drug’), rhinoceros-horn, pirated CDs, and other contraband." (The narcotics trade, it was estimated, nets Pyongyang at least $500 million per year).

Oh well. If you’ve got the cash, obviously, Kim’s got the goods – and the universal concern is that he may branch out into the "nuke" export trade, having become Number 9 in the Nuclear Club.
* * *
All the magazine covers this week had Kim, frizzy-hair, specs and all, as Cover Boy. The Economist of London had Kim in his familiar gray outfit, potbelly and all, waving under the headline: "Who Can Stop Him Now?"

(Oct. 23) had a kilometric headline over Kim’s head: "For 50 years, North Korea Plotted to Go Nuclear . . . Now, Kim Jong Il says it has. The long strange history of how rogue scientists, black marketeers and a Stalinist regime have changed the rules of the Nuclear Club."

Magazine (Oct. 23) bannered: "In the Shadow of the Bomb" and inside ran the headline, "When Outlaws Get the Bomb."

All the articles and reams of newspaper copy have been analyzing Kim Jong-il’s character, including the idea that he acquired a complex because he is a shorty (5’3") while his late father, the Great Leader Kim Il-sung, was six feet tall, etc.

It’s important to remember Marshal Kim’s bloodthirsty character. He sent the bombers who blew up almost half the Cabinet of South Korea when they went to the tomb of Burma’s (Myanmar’s) national hero, Col. Aung San, to pay tribute at his mausoleum. The girl who set the bomb which exploded a Korean Air Line (KAL) commercial jetliner over the Andaman Sea, killing all on board years later defected to South Korea, and tearfully confessed she had received her orders personally and directly from the Dear Leader.

Beware. That’s the sort of fellow Kim, the Nuclear Man, is.
* * *
THE ROVING EYE . . . I tuned in late to ANC television last night because friends alerted me by text. There was this bozo Mark Jimenez on the Ricky Carandang show attacking me with a lot of bullshit and challenging me to a fight. Wanna fight, Mark?

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