1. Flight doesn’t make right

    There is one question I have been puzzling over during this whole GMA travel issue. Namely, how is it possible that we can conscientiously argue that it is acceptable for someone who is under investigation by the Republic of the Philippines (in any jurisdiction) to freely travel. This seems antithetical to enforcing accountability. To argue that an agency should just file cases to prevent flight overlooks the importance of filing strong and prosecutable cases that can stand on their own. The upshot is, now at least if this provisional TRO stands, is that any who are under investigation for malfeasance now have the option to just leave the jurisdiction and not return. It is a constitutional right; the right to flight.

    Of course, I am not trying to absolve the Aquino administration in their continuing failure to file a single case that could prosper. However, knowing the on-going anti-corruption narrative it should not really be a surprise that they have not filed a case yet. First, we had the issues with the Ombudsman (who, let’s not forget is the entity empowered to investigate and file these sorts of cases), then the junking of the ‘Truth Commission’ by the Supreme Court, and now these decision. Which, while it may very well adhere to the Constitution, seems to fly in the face of the pursuit of justice and accountability. Then again, if we are constantly arguing that the Constitution should be upheld and the law respected it must be respected in all of its vagaries. Yet, is it possible that our very legal framework has become an impediment in the pursuit of justice?

    I would have hoped with all of various exposes throughout the last year (and the Aquino administration only took office July 2010) some case (just one) might have been filed. In some ways this reminds of the Marcos cases. The fundamental flaw behind the Marcos cases was their complete and utter mismanagement. I remember Francis Garchitorena telling me the cases were so poorly constructed and handled they were an embarrassment. The arrogance on the side of the government was palpable and there was a sense of “It’s Marcos, of course we’ll win.” As a result we missed a golden opportunity to begin developing a sense of accountability. I wonder if in the process of avoiding another ‘Marcos case’ situation, the Aquino administration has indirectly added to our culture of impunity. The argument can, and should be made, that this is a situation made by the Aquino administration. If anything, that is a question that the government must address fully.

    The primary criticism  leveled against the Department of Justice’s watch list seems to be that it infringes on the right to travel of Filipino citizens. I would turn that around and argue that when there is an on-going investigation into the actions of a citizen, they lose some rights. Quite frankly, a lawful investigation (not persecution) presupposes that there must be an investigation (for whatever reason).

    If the argument is that the right to travel is an inalienable human right (sans a filed case of course)I find the conditions put in place by the Supreme Court to be curious at best. How is applying preconditions to travel not an infringement of that right as well? While the watchlist bans foreign travel, the SC preconditions are also essentially travel restrictions. Conditions like two million pesos, or appointing legal representation (though I doubt, through them, the SC can compel GMA to return), or requiring the traveler to check in at Philippine embassies will offer little difficulty for GMA, they would be prohibitive for other travelers. If the goal by the SC was to ‘restrict’ the movements of GMA (or at least keep tabs), then these preconditions seem naive at best.

    I still remain confused by the shifting nature of GMA’s travel plans. What specialists is she seeing? What are these special procedures? Why is there a difference between the proclamations of her doctors and her lawyers? Why so many countries? Keeping that in mind, I keep coming back to my original point: When did the flight from lawful investigation become a human right?

     

  2. On June 2 at 10:29 p.m., Arroyo pointed out to him that in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Basilan in southern Philippines, the Statement of Votes (SoV) coming from each town “didn’t match” the provincial Certificate of Canvass (CoC) that summed up the Statement of Votes.

    “Gary” or Garci replied, “There’s a possibility that these won’t match if they did not follow the individual SoVs of the towns. But I don’t really know if this is in our favor or not.”

    He continued that “in Basilan and Lanao Sur, they raised (your votes) and they did it well.”

    Arroyo said, “so it matches?”

    “Yes, maam,” was his reply. “You know in Basilan, the military there is really not that good in doing this kind of thing, just like in Sulu (province),” he added.

    He assured her, though, that “I have already talked to the Chairman (of the canvassing) Board in Sulu, (and) I will make the EO (election officer) of Pagundaran hide for now so they won’t be able to testify.”

    Mrs Arroyo won over the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. by 1.12 million votes. Counting of votes, particularly in southern Philippines, was one of the slowest and controversy-ridden in the nation’s history.

    As Mrs Robles says, it’s time to refresh our memories, and what better way to do so than in their own words?

    Which, if you’ve never seen them before, are quite shocking.

    Excerpts above are from Part 1. Also read Part II, which is the complete transcript without notation.

     
  3. Oh really? Tell me more.

     

  4. Useless: A Story about Philippine “Intellectuals”

    It is generally accepted that the Martial Law period politicized and corrupted the military. As well, there was a subversion of civil society leadership at the top of the socioeconomic foodchain. The art of capital cronyism, the repayment of support and favors through preferential treatment in public-private accommodations, undermined Philippine business. It concentrated assets, via government mechanisms of transfer and intimidation, in the hands of a few; a carefully selected and groomed cadre of men and women. Loyalists, who still maintain their patronage ties to the past. We still find visible and passionate defenses of that failed regime and its perverse ideas today. Defenses and gross misstatements that go unchallenged in the public sphere.

    As well the fourth estate, the social mechanism that is supposed to act as both the people’s voice and a check and balance to excess and abuse, was subverted. One of the first orders that went out was to round up journalists who were critical of the Marcos regime. And then jail them. Newspapers were shut down, writers intimidated and jailed. Editors went into hiding; along with some well-regarded and high-profile columnists. The intelligensia was under attack. And in muzzling their ability to speak, to criticize and explicate, to disclose and detail the indiscretions of the prevailing power bloc, one of the safeguards of the people was eliminated. When media and the ability of a country’s intellectuals to speak is controlled, the flow of information, the engagement of ideas, the forms of education are controlled as well. The best, the most effective way to rule with an iron fist, is to manage what people learn; what they discover and understand about themselves. It is part of the reason why an independent art and culture community, a vibrant one at that, is so important. Without it, sans those divergent and clashing views that exist in a dynamic society, a people stagnate. That is what happened during Martial Law. Eventually though, a people find new footing; it rediscovers its soul and voice. Broad response and reprisal follow soon after.

    That is one of the enduring lessons from that period, and any like it in world history. Effective and stable governance is not found through fear and intimidation, it is not found in the continuing miseducation of a people. In the short term, keeping a population compliant through intimidation and ignorance may work. In the short term. But over time, eventually, human spirit rebels. As Edward Said has aptly demonstrated, sometimes the soul of a people is defined in opposition to repression. Art and literature show the way. That is the reason why so much great literature, so much important art, is produced during times that try men’s souls. But the cultural and social process that births voices like Tagore or Rizal takes time. It is not instantaneous by any means. That though is in the case of colonialism from without. What of colonialism from within? What then when a people are trod under by their own?

    The same holds true. However, I truly suspect the process is accelerated in cases of internally imposed totalitarianism. At least initially. Once those early voices are silenced, and the mechanisms for public criticism sealed off, I suspect it takes time for new voices to find their bearing. Control in an authoritarian or imperial environment then does not just derive from political and economic means, it is reinforced through oversight of the intelligensia. That is the untold story of Martial Law: The subversion of the academe and the collaboration of public writers with the Marcos regime. 

    There were historians, columnists, social and cultural commentators, filmmakers, and artists who became part of the ruling elite during the Marcos years. They are still active today; fancying themselves social sages and purveyors of enlightened wisdom. And, in part, this helps explain why so much of the excess and abuse remains untold, unexplained in the public sphere. We still lack a comprehensive and cohesive tale of Martial Law; the reason is the people, the writers and storytellers, who are in the best public position to create it, collaborated. For every F. Sionil Jose, Nick Joaquin or Alejandro R Roces, or Pete Lacaba (public writers and social stalwarts all), who spoke and fought against the defilement of their country, you have even more who joined forces under some sort of ‘nationalist’ claim. In supporting the very regime that denigrated their countrymen, they made a mockery of the term ‘nationalist.’ One prominent example is Rio Alma. A man who fancies himself as a modern day avenging angel of Tagalog-ccentric nationalism; yet he was a speech writer for Marcos. A man who set-up a rival writers guild to PEN, under the aegis of Marcos. He is by no means an exception. Other so-called nationalist social commentators were working hand in hand with Imelda Marcos during those years. Benefiting from that relationship. Is it any wonder that members of our art and culture community frequently shy away from pointed criticisms of Martial Law?

    It was a storyline that played out yet again during the GMA years. The NCCA and NHI were brought inline with GMA’s interests. A negative artistic word was never allowed. The culture institutions were controlled and muzzled. The sad part is some people who were anti-Marcos ended up collaborating with GMA. They committed the same sins decades previously they had spoken out against. There is a lesson to be found here in the damage that results from allowing unfettered power and weaknesses in our institutions to continue.

    The fact is, in so many ways, our intellectual and academic communities in the Philippines have let the country down. They are supposed to be detectives and storytellers. The men and women who not only unearth social ills and iniquity, but are challenged to heal those wounds; to show ways out of the morass in which the country has found itself. Without public writers and artists digging deeper and creating new perspectives a country, and its people, will never evolve. That is the situation the Philippines finds itself in today. Our public writers and historians, with a few notable exceptions, are caught in some sort of cycle of pseudo-intellectualism and perversely twisted and superficial nationalism. Their changeability and lack of intellectual integrity comes most to the fore when commenting on political situations. Very few actually write from positions buttressed by research or even organic philosophies. More than anything, so many writers and historians are bound by ties of ideology and patronage. Those ties also encompass student-teacher relationships. One of the key issues in our historical community is the sheer reverence in which older historians are held. To write an opposing view, or critically of their positions, is almost forbidden. At the very least, it is frowned upon. 

    World views that are so bound by personal relationships or ideology result in almost worryingly limited commentary on all issues. It is the same when it comes to understanding history. It results in superficial understandings of the self and nation; past, present, and future. There are current examples of this limitation. For example, the on-going PCSO expose is one. There are many who glommed onto the pronouncements of Manoling Morato with nary a critical question asked or evidence-backed substantiation requested; yet remain curiously silent concerning the Commission on Audit reports detailing the excesses and errors of previous PCSO leadership. Well, except in the case of attacking wayward bishops. Consistency and constancy are in short supply sometimes.

    Even more amusingly, there are those who spoke glowingly and in whole-hearted support for Jose Rizal and his philosophies; describing in detail how he was their hero, and how his words and deeds were inspiration. Yet, defend warlordism as not only necessary, but appreciated. Our own history belies the very idea that concentrating power in the hands of a select few (and allowing political dynasties to flourish) is worthwhile. This distressing mutability in the basic philosophies results in almost humorous inconsistencies in positions on issues. And publicly, the act of framing and contextualizing issues is quite rare. More often than not, analysis, and criticisms there in, occur almost in a vacuum. Multi-disciplinary thinking remains elusive. And that is a continuing failure of our education system.

    The burden of not only identifying, but offering avenues to repairing, extant social ills falls most heavily on the art, culture, and intellectual community. The reason is simple: They have the ability to do so. In accepting the mantle of being a public historian, writer, artist, or journalist they are dedicating themselves to a higher calling; to national service in a sense. That is the reason why arts and culture are usually among the first civil sectors that are silenced in a totalitarian regime. In driving them underground, the public mechanism for ideas and resistance is abrogated. What else is art, but subversion?

    And that is what concerns me the most, on an intellectual level. It is not just how broken the system is, or the type of people who inhabit it. It is the fact that the road to redemption for the Philippines has become muddied by the very people who should be shining a light and creating paths out of our current situation. Instead of being the backbone of a strong, informed, and dynamic intellectual community, they have become withdrawn, elitist and even intellectually incestuous in a way. Their ideas of what it means to be Filipino are stagnant and old-fashioned. Instead of discovering new perspectives on the country, the same old hackneyed ideas are repackaged in pretty, albeit superficial, forms.

    But, serving the public good does not necessarily mean always being against government. What it demands is something far more difficult than that; because let’s be honest here, the easiest path is just to always be contrarian, to always try and tear down and criticize. Instead it demands adherence to a core set of beliefs; ideas and philosophies from which all personal ideas and positions derive. That means not allowing things like private relationships to influence. It means focusing on issues of content, and not personal likes and dislikes. I remember one writer telling me that he was most proud of the fact that he angered his friends and opponents equally during his career. If everyone agrees with what you have written, then what you wrote is meaningless.

    That is the challenge for the next generation, our generation, of artists and writers. To break the shackles of repressive historical and social thought and the strictures of perverse ideology. In other words, to come up with new meanings on what it means to be Filipino. For me, that starts historically. But for others? It has to begin where passion is found and where new ideas can flourish. Else we are failing ourselves and we will continue to stagnate.

    In a sense, we are even worse off than when we were colonial subjects. At least then there was fire and passion and energy to discover and create a new and cohesive nation. Verve that today seems to be in short supply.

     

  5. So, last week I was talking with a good friend who brought up the fact that GMA is likely the savviest long-term political strategic thinker that the Philippines has seen, an observation first made to her shortly after GMA won in 2004. And I don’t mean this as a complement, neither did the ex-political leader who made the observation.

    Just was reminded of the story again after seeing this. Let’s see, Edcel Lagman (Arroyo ally), files a petition against the Truth Commission tasked to investigate the anomalies of the last 9 years (GMA term) and by a vote of 10-5 the Truth Commission get’s shot down.

    Iiiiiinteresting, by this ruling any investigations into anomalies gets shunted to the the Legislative bodies, one of which she so happens to be a member of and still maintains a large following. How…fortuitous indeed for her. I know, I know, such an on the nose observation, but one worth making.

    Curious though, I don’t remember the PCGG having the same issues, or for that matter any of the educational, environmental and social welfare ‘commissions’ that were setup during the Arroyo years.

     

  6. Trial by Public

    For the Inquirer the lead story today is President Aquino’s desire to see the Maguindanao Massacre trial televised live. A decision I hope the Supreme Court does not make.

    There aspects of privacy at play here; not in terms of what the public should know, but with respect to the victims and their families. I know it is par for the course of media to tend towards sensationalism when it comes to covering crimes; how often do we see staged ‘meets’ between victim and perpetrator? Or the bodies of victims garishly splashed across our TVs? Justice should not give way for good television. As well, and this is likely not going to be a popular opinion, but those suspected of crimes (innocent until proven guilty) are allowed a fair and impartial trial.

    Already, with the preponderance of information out there, the Maguindanaos have already been judged as guilty in the court of public opinion (an opinion I share). However, just because the court of public opinion has found them guilty should not sway how the legal system operates. If anything, televising the trial will only further inflame the negative perceptions of the public. The general public is also unfamiliar with the intricacies of court cases, the various rules that must be followed when it comes to evidence, cross-examinations, lines of questioning and so on. In essence, dumping wholesale on the public raw, unfiltered court proceedings will give rise to misinformation. Watching Law and Order: SVU does not an expert of the law make.

    The inevitable result of televising the Maguindanao trial will be a media circus, a shitstorm of misinformation, rising passions and anger (especially when what is going on is misunderstood). There as well are security issues in this. The government so far has done a lousy job protecting witnesses, if their names and identities are fully disseminated it is not out of the realm of possibility that their families will be threatened. Transparency does not mean total access by the public, it could mean access by the media to the court proceedings. The role of the media has always been the conduit for spreading information, acting as the conscience of the country. Allow them to do their job.

    Pronouncements by Aquino aside (educational for the people is actually the key here), the government is clearly trying to ride the announcement of the Human Rights Watch concerning the Arroyo government. They clearly want to use the Maguindanao trial as a proxy for the Arroyo trial (that may or may not come to pass).

    “find out what transpired, where the possibility came from to produce such an atrocity, and what steps should be done to prevent [such a thing] from happening again.”

    - President Aquino

    This is less about the Maguindanaos and more about demonstrating how corrupt the Arroyo administration was. The Aquino administration is attempting to subvert justice today in favor of prosecuting the Arroyos. Something that should have no place in the pursuit of fair and impartial application of the laws. This trial is about justice for the victims of the massacre; not righting the wrongs and correcting to the flaws in the system. And yes, as I’ve argued here, the massacre was an effect of the nine years of Arroyo rule. However, you do not leverage the pain and suffering of those families, and the pursuit of justice, to continue to prosecute the Arroyos in the court of public opinion. That is a miscarriage of justice as well.

    If in the process of the trial information comes out concerning the Arroyos and their responsibility make sure that the information is disseminated. Give the media access to the court room and the proceedings. But from almost any angle, whether privacy and protection of the victims, fair and impartial court case, security and so on, televising the court proceedings is a misguided and short-sighted notion. A notion geared towards continuing the trial of Arroyo via proxy.

    It seems to me less about justice and more about kowtowing to the public. Something increasingly the Aquino administration seems to be doing.

     

  7. The Catch-All: The Disconnect Edition

    A couple of things caught my eye this morning. But, too little time to do full posts on ‘em all. So, yeah condensed? Maybe.

    First, we have Imelda Marcos representing the Philippines in the Millennium Development Goals UN Summit, and even further chairing the House committee on the MDGs. Which, well, if you are familiar at all with the poverty situation during the Marcos Regime is a twitch-worthy type development. When it comes to the sheer mismatch of record vs. end-goal of the MDGs this ranks at the top.

    Followed very closely by GMA speaking on behalf of the Philippines about the MDGs:

    Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would attend the fifth conference of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and speak before a gathering of women leaders on the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in two separate events in New York, her spokeswoman disclosed yesterday.

    There are certain areas that GMA gets credit for during her administration. The pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals is not one of them. The Philippine lost ground, ground we cannot make up, during those nine years. While I understand she was invited, her credentials in this area of almost as bare as those of Marcos.

    The MDGs are something I am passionately in support of; have been for years. The failure of the GMA administration to make any headway is the basis for most of my critiques. And we cannot forget that the embarrassing state of extreme poverty (and the systemic corruption that drives its existence) expanded during the Marcos era.

    And these are the people representing the Philippines. I have heard nary a word out of the Aquino administration on the MDGs. And he should be speaking on them; they strike at the heart of the ills that face the Philippines.

    On travel and such, the more the COA releases information the more we realize the serious leakages that were occurring during the last administration. While taken in isolation these leakages may seem small, but when viewed in conjunction with one another we get a picture of how the government wastes money.

    Another example comes with foreign trips:

    President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is spending P25 million of taxpayers’ money for his 7-day working visit to the United States next week, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said Friday…

    Official records, meanwhile, showed more than P76 million was spent for a presidential [GMA] working visit to New York and Washington D.C. from July 29 to August 5, 2009. Planes fares for those who joined the working visit, which were priced lower then, cost the taxpayers P6.2 million.

    One difference I enjoyed? Aquino will be staying at the Sofitel, while GMA stayed in the Waldorf-Astoria. And the sad thing is, this is the official COA report. The real stories of expenses and on-goings during GMA’s foreign trips are far worse than many (except those who went) can imagine.

    And finally, on the continuing Global Asiatique mess:

    The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund) has not released a centavo to the P6-billion Xevera Subic housing project of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. in Zambales because the firm met delays in preparing requirements, a report from the office of Vice President Jejomar Binay showed.

    As with the Maguindanao Trial, the GOCCS hearings and the Hostage Report (which I hope we get to see…you know right around when the Chinese do, though I can sort of understand from a diplomatic view why they are sharing it on a government to government level first) this investigation is aptly demonstrating another of the serious flaws and lack of oversight and controls in our systems.

    GA was effectively able to exploit the system (through corruption and legal loopholes) to fund their projects. They did this by manufacturing loan applications, creating false sales and even ghost buyers. Yikes.

    GA built their ‘empire’ on public money and public lands. While those who are supposed to be trustees in the House Development and Pag-Ibig Funds benefited.

    I hope this one goes to trial as well.

     

  8. The Mid-Morning Catch-All: The Gravy Train Edition

    Or things I noted while reading the papers. Except for ABS-CBN of course that was more scrolling and clicking than flipping.

    The Maguinanao Massacre Trial began yesterday, in some sense overshadowed by the on-going hostage-taking turmoil. Yet, this is the trial of the nascent decade, and in its course I suspect much of what has gone on over the last nine years and beyond will be revealed. Take this as a bloody, brutal microcosm of the flaws in the Philippines system. Even more of a reflection than the hostage-taking crisis.

    Saliao, 33, a former trusted aide of the Ampatuan family, said he attended a clan leaders’ meeting at the home of the main defendant’s father and namesake, Andal Ampatuan Snr, six days before the massacre to plan how to stop the rival.

    "That’s easy, father. We kill all of them when they come here," Saliao quoted Ampatuan Jnr as telling his father.

    Maguindanao Massacre ‘carefully planned’ - witness ABS-CBN

    The culture of impunity that the Ampatuans operated in has been well documented by the PCIJ. It was a sense that was never abrogated, only supported with votes in return.

    From the Inquirer comes a story that has gotten fairly little airplay, but is very important in understanding the pervasive nature of the culture of corruption:

    Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. was able to get billions of pesos from the Pag-IBIG Fund for its projects in Pampanga province through the fund’s “express lane” program, the head of the national savings and housing agency said Wednesday.

    Osmeña was incredulous that former Vice President Noli de Castro, erstwhile housing czar, had practically cleared Globe Asiatique amid revelations that the firm had used dead claimants and ineligible borrowers to secure payments from Pag-IBIG.

    Realty Firm got billions through express lane

    *insert snarky joke about express lane from treasury to pockets*

    And then in a lovely companion piece to the travel budget of GMA, we get:

    Nevertheless, the COA report showed that the second district of Pampanga, which Arroyo now represents in Congress, received over P330 million from the President’s Social Fund (PSF) in 2009.

    Sought for comment, Arroyo’s spokesperson, Elena Bautista-Horn, said she would look into the issue and reply accordingly.

    Of the P1.743 billion listed under OP donations, P1.675 billion came from the PSF, the COA said.

    Arroyo office donated P1.75B in 2009

    Jesus, the Office of the President has its own Social Fund? Wait, I knew this. Any people wonder where all the money goes. I remember reading somewhere that approximately 600B in the budget is usually ‘unallocated’ bills. Which means discretionary. Which means unaudited. Which means…hey I have a great idea for a project! 

    PS: in 2008 she gave away P628.544M. In 2009, the office gave away P1.743B. Elections elections!

    Aaaand finally from the Philippine Star:

    Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim had ordered the brother of hostage taker Rolando Mendoza restrained and brought to Tondo, the chief on leave of the Manila Police Department (MPD) told a fact-finding panel last night.

    Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay said he did not know why the mayor wanted SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, also of the Manila police, brought to Tondo instead of the MPD headquarters on UN Avenue, which is closer to the scene of the hostage incident at the Quirino Grandstand.

    Lim ordered Mendoza brod taken to Tondo

    Sightseeing? Lunch? Dinner? We will never know. Right.

    De Lima then asked Magtibay what he thought Lim meant in the order.

    He replied, “Yung Tondo po ay crime-prone area ng Manila (Tondo is a crime-prone area in Manila).”

    Oh. I get it.

     

  9. Political Bias and the GOCCs

    While we’ve basically been riveted the last week or so with the hostage crisis and its fallout, which certain political entities have been gleefully taken advantage of, we have another on-going crisis. Used, abused and siphoned off into the pockets of unscrupulous political players. There goes the money of the Filipino people.

    To be honest, after this we will have to redefine the word ‘bonus’. I always believed that bonuses were given for performance, they were additions to base pay. Appears now that bonuses are regularly scheduled, no longer perks or benefits but pre-programmed additions to base pay. If the accumulated value of the bonuses exceeds base pay, shouldn’t the terms be switched? Though, I am still at a loss to understand how you can actually earn 37 months worth of pay in one year.

    Journalism and Bias

    During the campaign season earlier this year one of the ‘journalists’ leading the charge against then-Senator Noynoy Aquino was Belinda Olivares-Cunanan of the Inquirer. And I do not mean leading the charge against on ideological terms. She was one of the worst of the mudslingers, rivaled only by the shrill rantings of Carmen Pedrosa of the Philippine Star. When Pedrosa rightly came under fire, Cunanan was leading the charge in defense. Political bias, on its own, is not questionable. What became reprehensible was their lack of fact-checking, blatant rumor-mongering and inflammatory rhetoric. To whit:

    This latest episode demonstrates the increasing petulance and childishness and the seeming inability to brook criticism that Noynoy has been exhibiting, as the race tightens between him and Villar. But as President GMA knows only too well, the corridors of power are not always paved with hosannas and hallelujahs. He just isn’t ready for the big league.

    Petulant Noynoy February 10, 2010

    As I said, political bias is to be expected, the methods used and the wellspring of her bias makes the motivations highly questionable.

    Post-elections we were subjected to the “Koala Boy”, per ex-Congressman Locsin. Who presented the Koala Boy video to the public? Why Buddy Cunanan of course. The son of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan. Who is his father? Thomas Cunanan.

    Thomas Cunanan of course is now at the forefront of the Senate investigations into the GOCCs and blatant overpaying. Actually, it’s not really overpaying anymore. It has begun to take on the appearance of out and out theft. Weak protestations aside by Christine Cunanan via email, the breadth of accusations facing Cunanan are daunting (for them that is) and inflammatory (for the public). Makes you wonder then about the actual source of Bel Cunanan’s consistent defense of GMA and the actions of Buddy Cunanan post-election. Ok, doesn’t really make you wonder at all in truth. Cunanan of course was appointed by GMA to the SSS.

    Civil Society

    One part that has gone unremarked is the role that Unionbank played in paying to Romulo Neri, Thomas Cunanan and Sergio Apostol.

    Former SSS officials Thelmo Cunanan, Romulo Neri and now Leyte Rep. Sergio Apostol earned a combined total of P46.3 million in directors’ fees by sitting on the board of Union Bank in 2009, said Drilon, chair of the Senate committee on finance.

    Cunanan, Neri, Apostol

    Just in case we forgot, remember that the Aboitiz have had a very close working relationship with GMA as well. And well, Unionbank is their bank. With regards to Neri, the other day (was it last night) I saw him on ANC (I think) discussing rising poverty figures. Entertaining.

    All of this is a backdrop, a background if you will, to the issues that have become extant as a result of the last nine years. Our government corporations have been effectively (mis)managed into becoming personal ATMs. Certain high level businesses have become willing partners to corruption in return for favored status in international and government related business transactions. Highly placed media members were rewarded for political support in return from monetary gain. And in the end, the Filipino people suffer, not to mention journalistic integrity.

    And what remains interesting, is that the majority of these people are not traditional wealthy landed elites (with the exception of the Aboitiz). They are though people who took advantage of weak institutions and little government oversight for personal gain. They leveraged their positions of influence in the pursuit of the almighty peso. In the end, their actions represent the worst of civil society.

     
  10. Bravo. Way to leverage a tragedy for personal and political gain. Blatantly, I might add.

    Based on the last 9 year’s human right’s record, pro-GMA supporters/mouth-pieces should just quietly slip off into a corner and not be heard from with regards to this tragedy. Or at the very least, if they are going to say something, say something constructive.

    But, nothing they are doing or saying adds to the quality of the discourse. Instead they are essentially using a tragedy in a blatant attempt to score retroactive brownie points.

    I know I know, a little late to the game, but I saw this in my drafts.