Sunday, 18 May 2008

Presidential temper

Twiddling my thumbs after producing a page for XPRESS when I got a text from a “concerned friend.”

“Tol nangangalaiti sa galit c bentot about your blog.”

That SMS was immediately followed by another, this one from the man himself.

“Can I kol u”

So off I went out of my bunker to send my reply.

“Una, congrats sa panalo. Balita ko galit ka daw sa cnulat ko but read it thoroughly, d ko naman rin kinampihan cla romano. Nasa work ako bt I can take ur col”

In less than five minutes, my phone buzzed. El Presidente was on the line.

After exchanging our usual pleasantries, the powder keg burst.

My good, sweet friend was really mad. He was so angry that his sweet nothings were peppered with the P word.

He never expected to take flak from somebody he considers a “good friend.”

"Katulad ka rin pala nila!," the newly-elected National Press Club of the Philippines president blurted out.

I’m baffled that my insignificant blog is being read.

Benny was really hurt by what I wrote about him in my previous entry.

He said he came to know about this blog when his kid told him that he was on “Shawarma Nights.”

He started firing away by telling me that the first thing that he did when he won the NPC presidency was to try iron out my infamous libel case filed by a reporter who was embroiled in a credit card mess with a colleague and that he has endorsed my wife to get a nursing job in a government hospital in Manila

(Disclosure: I sought Benny’s help in looking for a job for Mara, knowing that he has established a wide network among hospitals due to his charity work. Mara is still unemployed and has yet to really work professionally as a registered nurse).

Allowing my good friend to let off steam, I told him to calm down and talk things over.

Benny wanted to clarify certain points – even telling me that he has told our common friend and his PASG ward, Larry Palileo, that I am the “pinakabugok na reporter dahil di niya ako tinanong bago siya nagsulat.”

Here’s his beef:

Benny wants to dispute my claim that he was never a reporter. He said he started in 1996 as a photographer and he even outscooped everyone for his snaps on the ambush-slaying of Colonel Rolando Abadilla, the former chief of the PC Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group. No one was allowed to take snaps at the funeral parlor except for Benny Antiporda. He also claimed that he was the first to crack open the controversial Pampanga Megadike issue and was instrumental in solving a celebrated murder case in northern Metro.

"Hindi mo talaga ako kilala pare," he said. "I rose from the ranks."

Benny said he doesn’t have a coterie of bodyguards. He only has two – one goes on duty in the morning, the other in the evening. He has been getting threats prompting him to take precautionary measures.

He’s not denying that he goes around town in luxury cars and SUVs, but explained that he’s into the business of buying-and-selling cars hence, his access to such types of vehicles.

"Sinabi ko yan sa documentary ni Cesar Apolinario, hindi ka siguro nanood," he said.

Benny said he’s no longer the head of the Special Operations Group of PASG, but he is still with the agency handling another task for his friend, Undersecretary Bebot Villar.

Benny quickly reasoned out that his position in the Office of the President does not constitute a conflict of interest as he is not serving a certain individual.

“I am serving the people,” he said.

He quickly added that if his being with Malacanang is really a conflict of interest, he’s willing to resign his government post and concentrate on the NPC.

Benny also gave me a run down on what he has done so far as NPC president:

To make good on his promise to weed the NPC of hao-shaos, he has appointed my former Journal editors Roy Acosta and Zip Roxas to the Membership Committee. The dynamic duo -- known in the industry as tough nuts to crack -- will be tasked to do the housecleaning.

Benny said he even had a heated argument with Louie Logarta on the "hao shao" issue, and eventually he was able to convince them (the NPC board) that the key to regaining the Club's respectability is by getting rid of the poseurs.

The NPC president said the formula that the Acosta-Roxas tandem will follow is simple. For every 10 "hao shaos" that get purged from the list, 10 legits will be lured over to join the Club.

Having known Sirs Roy and Zip as dyed-in-the-wool Club loyalists, they will surely give no quarters to people who want to put a stop to this housecleaning efforts. Good luck sirs! (Unsolicited advice: Talk to Joe Pavia, the former Membership Committee chair, and find out how the NPC board railroaded their efforts to cleanse the ranks in 2003-2004)

Benny also hosted a victory party at the NPC bar and invited Manong Roman’s slate, and there they openly welcomed the opposing forces and enjoined them to link hands in lifting up the NPC.

Benny and I discussed many other things which I will tackle in my next entries. I’m three minutes away from liberation.

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