Four Presidents and a Rumor Mill

Ezra Acayan / NurPhoto / Sipa Press / AP

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III waves to a crowd in suburban Caloocan City, north of Manila, in November.

A hybrid variety of politics, combining hothouse and fun house, is cultivated in the Philippines. The latest example emerged toward the end of last year and received a flourish of attention at the beginning of January. The previous President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is suffering from complications of spinal surgery and is under "hospital arrest" while awaiting trial on charges of plundering the national sweepstakes authority, received visits from two other former Presidents. They were Fidel Ramos, who ran the country from 1992 to '98, and his successor Joseph Estrada, who occupied that office from 1998...