Local government secretary Ronnie Puno is supposed to be back from his trip to the States. Malacanang issued a statement saying that Puno went on a medical leave, a clear contradiction with Puno's own statement saying that he'll be there to attend his daughter's wedding. Puno has not been seen in public since a few weeks ago.
What people don't know is Puno was seen hob nobbing with Washington royalty. Who are these men? Members of the former Bush administration and the present one. Where are they connected? They're connected with the State department and the Pentagon. And what were the things they talked about and what were those things which Puno shared with them? That's a secret.
Is Puno on a secret mission to either (1) negotiate with Washington for and on behalf of Mrs. Arroyo or (2) tell all against his boss? If he's there for Mrs. Arroyo, what is that issue that the palace wants to explain to Washington? Well, nagging tongues say it could be about con-ass. Yes, con-ass. Is that the reason why Washington has been using both diplomatic and non-diplomatic channels to send a clear and unequivocal message that they oppose the plan?
And if it's a "tell all", is Puno repeating the mistake of Ping Lacson on the eve of Estrada's demise when the former PNP chief offered himself as an alternative to his boss? Surely, Puno is not that self-absorbed to think that he'll be an acceptable solution to a problem known as Ate Glo.
For sure, whatever it was, it created a big stir inside Washington that Gates, the US defense chief, made doubly sure that they heard it right by sending his own man, CIA chief Leon Panetta, to see for themselves what's happening in this small republic in South East Asia. Maybe Gates thought that his visit was not clear enough for Mrs. Arroyo to understand. Gates and State department head Hillary Clinton were very emphatic--toe the democratic line or else, we will not hesitate to intervene in case. That's clearly what US ambassador Kristie Kenney said last week.
By the way, what's that question I asked a few entries back? What were the things that Jaime Zobel de Ayala and Mrs. Arroyo talked about in Cartagena that were so important, the entire palace entourage had to spend some time there and cause a diversion of the official itinerary? Was it, as some surmise, a talk, nay a negotiation, between civil society and Mrs. Arroyo? Was it a negotiation for Mrs. Arroyo's exit plan? And was Ayala used as the unofficial emissary of Washington to impress the desire of the Obama government for Mrs. Arroyo to "cut and cut cleanly"? And was the reaction of Mrs. Arroyo adverse? Surely shortly after that, bombs went off and bomb threats spread. Are these things Mrs. Arroyo's answer to Washington's attempts to make her think clearly?
Lastly, these things happened very fast, just a few days after the celebrated Teodoro birthday bash, described by some as the Filipino version of a Munich Putsch. Are groups within the palace fighting each other for supremacy? Surely, we really don't know. What's clear is that groups within the AFP and PNP are fighting against each other mainly to impress Madame.