Letter to President Aquino

Dear Señorito Noy,

I hope you don’t mind that I bring up a matter I find unbearably disturbing—your decision to retain Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres at the cost of losing Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus.

Remember when you traded your old BMW for an almost new Porsche Carrera? Political considerations aside, I thought that was a damn good deal. It demonstrated your business acumen. It revealed a quality that will serve you well when your Public-Private Partnership Program goes on stream. It reinforced my belief that I voted for the right candidate.

And then you made that decision. It made me wonder whether you could really tell quality from junk.

Señorito, Secretary de Jesus was a keeper. He is a Rolls-Royce. You do not exchange a Rolls-Royce for a clunker.

Imagine prospective PPP investors arriving for a look-see. I’m sure you will want to impress them, you will want them to see that they are dealing with a Class-A partner, that the Philippines is a great place for business.

So you invite them to your Palace and give them a tour of the grounds and the garage. You show them the Porsche you got by trading up from a Beemer. They are impressed, as they should be. And then they see a rusty jalopy parked right next to the Porsche. What are you going to say when they ask, where is the Rolls and what is that rust-bucket doing in your garage?

Sus ginoo, Señorito, you have to wise up. There are people out there who don’t like you. And they are awash in cash and devoid of scruples. Don’t help them by supplying them with ammunition to bring you down. A jalopy for a Rolls? Shoot me, please!

Can’t you see that you are in a Joseph Estrada situation? The similarities are eerie. Lakas-Kampi and the Catholic Church are against you. Your vice president is also short, dark, ambitious and a realist in the scary sense of the word. The only difference between your vice president and Estrada is that your veep will not do to you what Estrada’s veep did to him. Binay will simply wait for you to self-destruct; soon, if you don’t wise up.

I remember a conversation with Jun Lozada at a victory party last year. Optimism was really thick that evening. But Lozada told me something that cut through the euphoria, “The true test for Noynoy will be how he will deal with his appointees when they stray from the straight and narrow.”

Señorito, the only obstacle blocking your enemies is the good-versus-evil archetype that stands on the good name of your parents, especially your mother’s. You were given the benefit of the doubt during the campaign. It’s now time to prove yourself worthy of your legacy.

I’ve heard you say many times that everyone must be given due process, most especially your enemies. Well and good. However, giving your appointees the same benefit of the doubt that you give your enemies is not good. Why? Because you campaigned on good governance; you promised daang matuwid.

Your administration will be held to a different standard. That means you are expected to live or die by the smell test and not by the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt. That means you must demonstrate positive proof of integrity and propriety at all times.

Now be honest, did Virginia Torres pass the smell test or did all her crying and fainting make you forget you had a nose?

Anyway, it’s not too late to correct your mistake. Your executive secretary can still talk Torres into a graceful exit. He can promise her a job with San Jose Builders or the vice president’s office in exchange for her resignation.

I’m sorry for being entremetido. But I voted for you. Not only that, I may have also contributed in some small way to your victory. Remember “Villarroyo”? You’re welcome.

All I’m asking in return is for you to live up to your promise of good governance.

Deeply disappointed but still in the plantation,


Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • On my twitter, @dhawellskie wrote: “@cocoy so why is secretary de Jesus a keeper? The letter didn’t say why…. And I wanna know why!”

    Also @tatancast asked, “Why not appeal directly to the sensibilities and delicadeza of Asec VTorres?”

    • manuelbuencamino

      1. does dhawell want to know why a Rolls is a keeper or why de jesus is a Rolls?

      2. As to Tatangcast’s suggestion…Yes, if you can find her sensibilities and delicadeza

      • Bert

        I doubt it very, very much. When threatened with suspension she fainted, the position is a matter of life and death to her.

        • manuelbuencamino

          Good one, Bert. And may I add that maybe the president thought she died.

          That’s why he decided there was no further need to suspend her.

          And so the Virginia Torres who is going to report for work on after June 19, well that’s a new Virginia.

          The old one died 60 days ago.

  • Bert

    “The stench is with Torres, so why would you shift the spotlight onto de Jesus?”-UP n to GabbyD

    There’s a misunderstanding here, and a little meddling is called for, if I may:).

    I think that what UP n was trying to explain to GabbyD is that BFF Torres is smelling bad because of newspaper reports that she’s allegedly involved in shady deals about registering hot cars during her stint as LTO officer in Tarlac, aside from newspaper reports that she’s also involved in the LTO main office mess where Stradcom office personnel were forced out of their offices by thugs employed by people closed to BFF Torres, if the reports are true, events that could have prodded our friend here Manuel Buencamino to write this letter informing President Noynoy that his BFF Torres is “a clunker”.

    I agree with MB and with UP n.

    I hope that’s clear enough.

  • As the saying goes, “bros before ____” eh? But what of the “bromance” between Noy and Mar. Can it withstand the present rift in his cabinet?

  • At the end of the day, De Jesus has made a public, definitive statement on his reasons for leaving. Absent any proof to the contrary – and no, claims from “anonymous sources” don’t count – I see no reason to doubt the man’s word. Better instead to focus scrutiny on P-Noy’s choice for the next DOTC secretary, and see if this person is up to snuff.

    There will always be stories, there will always be rumors. I’ve hears similar stories from other “insiders” about why De Jesus left. Does it matter? For the time being, no. I would start getting worried, however, if it starts to become a pattern. For now, we ought to treat it for what it is: a decision to leave government in favor of private life.

    • UP nn grad

      free country…. some people say tomah-toh, some say tomay-toe, over 55% voted Noynoy and the rest chose others..

      So some say “Gee… something smells stinky”, others say “…ano ang na-amoy mo, pareho lang, ah.” What should be worrisome to Noynoy is that ManuB is not a Villar nor GMA nor Erap flagwaver, ManuB — Yellow true-and-true. [ Of course, ManuB is only one vote, and Noynoy not running in 2016… what does he care???]

  • UP nn grad

    GabbyD:: you ever received a “… we can still be friends” letter? Not called lying, ’tis called “… letting you down gently”, mas mabuti kaysa “.. ayoko na, hindi mo ba naiintindihan ang ayoko na?”

    Don’t forget that Pilipinas is a country of delicadeza… Hindi ba delicadeza is expected from any and all the directors-and-above especially the known BFF’s of Presi-Noynoy? And surely, Torres has a job from her other friends waiting for her should she leave gobyerno, so I don’t understand why she wants to continue to be conversation-material to those who ask “.. ano nga ba naman ang nangyayari sa Noynoy governance?”

    • GabbyD

      thats the problem with this “analysis”

      the guy says STRAIGHT UP that he has private reasons, and everyone is free to insinuate whatever they want, even tho they know little of what actually happened.

      de jesus cant win with anyone. no wonder he wanted to leave govt service.

      • UP nn grad

        The stench is with Torres, so why would you shift the spotlight onto de Jesus?

      • UP nn grad

        raggster and gabbyD:

        So when is the next picture-taking when a Noynoy- BFF furthers her or his bank account with soldiers or ex-soldiers? Don’t you find worrisome the picture of Torres and the use of brutish police-power to institute a take-over, not for some “greater good” but for business reasons?

        Do you recall GMA or Erap sending police or PNP to implement a business-deal push for one of their buddies?

        • UP nn grad

          tama na!! sobra na!!!

          hindi pa ngayon…. abangan, heh heh heh.

          What should not be funny is the thought — a Noynoy BFF using police thugs…. getting mentioned in New York City and Hongkong business circles.

          Watch out when Presi-Noynoy gets asked when he makes his next foreign trip looking for investors for Pilipinas infrastructure projects.

        • GabbyD

          i dunno about that. what did the investigation say?

          why judge when u dont know what happend?

          i cant understand that.

          • UP nn grad

            gabbyD: Only you can explain why you can’t understand. How you arrive at your understanding of these things — not my problem. But you should know this — people get paid $$$ to make inferences based on pictures, gabbyD. Some thing about “business risk analysis”. The cost of business goes higher as the estimate goes higher for the probability of thuggery… you know this, right?

            A business-invasion by plain-vanilla thieves or by Abu’s… that’s bad. A business-invasion by rogue police. That’s bad (maybe worse). A business invasion by a BFF of — First Gentleman Arroyo— a Malacanang cabinet official or higher… yellow alert. And yellow is in traffic-light hellow, not Yellow-Army the heavens have sent troops to save Pilipinas Yellow.

            Girl;f friend wants to add — not only Lloyd’s of London but even the USA’s State Department, England’s Foreign Office, Beijing’s and Saudi Arabia’s counterpart offices keep track of these events, doncha think?

            Am just kidding, of course, gabbyD. The picture I’ve painted? Just my imagination of how the Big World of business operates.

  • GabbyD

    Why is de jesus a rolls royce? and torres a clunker? do you know them? is it their resumes?

    isnt it true that de jesus has been wanting to leave anyways? and didnt he say publicly that torres has nothing to do with it?

    is de jesus lying? is lying part of being a rolls royce?

    • manuelbuencamino

      The Justice Department recommended preventive suspension for Torres after investigating her involvement in the failed Stradcom take-over.

      De Jesus is highly respected even by the opposition. Read their reactions to his resignation.

      If De Jesus was wanting to leave anyways then why did he even bother making full term blueprints for DOTC?

      I don;t now if he said that Torres had nothing to do with it. Please link m to the statement you are citing.

      • GabbyD

        u can use google:

        “De Jesus also reiterated that Torres’ fate remains in the hands of the highest appointing authority, the President, so “if he feels that Torres should be back, then so be it.”

        De Jesus has already clarified in a press statement that he did not resign from his post of nearly a year because of alleged rift with Torres or any of his subordinates.

        “I did not resign because, as alleged, I cannot control some of my subordinates. Having a tight rein of my organization has never been my problem,” he said, reading his statement before DoTC employees during the flag-raising ceremony.”

        • manuelbuencamino

          “I did not resign because, as alleged, I cannot control some of my subordinates. Having a tight rein of my organization has never been my problem,”

          Totoo yan Gabby D. kasi its PNoy who apparently does not have a tight rein on his organization. Torres was Noynoy’s appointee. It was Noynoy and not De Jesus who could suspend her. Kaya nga De Jesus could only recommend her suspension.

        • GabbyD

          ah , so it is true that when a guy says something, people just wont believe him.

          i think thats unfortunate. one of the worst things about being in politics.

          much better to be in the private sector where people dont second guess you all the friggin time.

          he might as well said the aliens possesed him. it doesnt really matter what he says, apparently

          • manuelbuencamino


            Nuanced statement ang tawag sa statement ni De Jesus.

            The problems that proceed from department subordinates being appointed directly by the president is something that is not unique to this administration. It has existed in all administrations.

            And so every department head has a tight rein on his organization only to a certain extent, an extent determined by the appointee’s proximity to the appointing power vis a vis the department head.

          • manuelbuencamino

            “De Jesus also reiterated that Torres’ fate remains in the hands of the highest appointing authority, the President, so “if he feels that Torres should be back, then so be it.”

            That is also a nuanced statement, Gabby. Sa tagalog, “Wala yan sa kamay ko, kung yun ang gusto ng president eh di siya ang masusunod.”

            So kung yung renda ng kabayo ay wala sa kamay mo, paano mo masasabi na mahigpit ang hawak mo sa renda? Paano mo marerendahan yun kabayo na ni hindi mo kayang sakyan?

        • UP nn grad

          I still do not understand gabbyD putting the focus on deJesus when the one that used thugs to invade a business-location was…. ahemmmm…. gabbyD, pls fill in the blanks.

          Repeat — used thugs to invade a business location. The DOJ already rendered its investigation and asked Presi-Noynoy to take action. What again did presi-Noynoy choose to do with regards his shooting-buddy BFF?