Now forever known as the “NBI whistleblower,”
Samuel Ong strikes me as the kind of man I used to see around the Manila Hotel,
or the Diamond along Roxas, or the Philippine Plaza lobby: hair dyed a solid
black, face darkened by sun and worry, eyes constantly measuring his

He’s on ANC now. He has no
TV or radio in his room at the San Carlos Seminary, so he doesn’t have to listen
to what people are saying about him. He says he’s afraid, but he doesn’t look
it. He claims that the ISAFP men who did the wiretapping will soon surface. And
he appears to desperately need a fresh change of

Riot police and protesters are
taunting one another. The police negotiate space with thrusts of their shields,
and shouts. The protesters keep raising their arms, pushing the police back. The
little air around and in between them shimmers with afternoon heat and anger.

Sitting here, typing, I imagine the
tentacles of strategy writhing, feinting, curling into public statements. People
are watching, listening, taking the sides they have always taken. Liwasang
Bonifacio is filling with the usual suspects. They call for a national day of

If we were to base it on Pulse
Asia’s March 2005 reading, we’ve been in sackcloth and ashes since 2001.
Self-rated poverty has hovered around the 70% level since then. In March, 59% of
Filipinos expected that the country will do worse in the year ahead. That
reading also showed President Arroyo scoring her lowest approval rating (38%)
since assuming the presidency, with the decline in approval larger in the NCR
and among the E SEC. Her approval rating was even lower than Erap’s during his
impeachment trial. These revelations, true or not, are additional holes in an
already-sagging dike.

While the truth is
ostensibly the issue, it is not the point. Here, power is the currency, the
strategy, the reward.