It has been four years, Mr. President

METRO PHILIPPINES
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(Are we, your bosses, ever going to see before your term ends, a resolution of the items in the Reminders below, including the case of Jonas Burgos which is now on its eighth year?)

 

Today, I have decided to put the “Reminders (for Noynoy)” section that has been a feature of this space for the last four years at the beginning of this piece, to wit: 1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency.

That was four long years ago. (Ironically, one of the biggest scandals to hit President Noynoy Aquino’s administration is the alleged corruption in the NFA and the pork barrel scam in the Department of Agriculture.) 2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and order his successor, Robert “Pretty Boy” Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former. Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA’s findings that: (a) He received the obscenely excessive compensation of P16.36 million in 2012 making him the highest paid government servant then.

The latest COA report also has Vergara as the highest paid for 2013 with P12.09 million; and (b) That over a year ago, at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011. COA also said at the time that the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have so far responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors.

Of the 36, 27 confirmed “discrepancies” in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS. There are three questions being raised when remittances, or parts thereof, of government agencies are not recorded by the GSIS on time: a) Where are these huge sums “parked” in the meantime?; b) Do they earn interest?; and c) To where (whom?) does the interest, if any, go? Pray tell, Mr. Vergara, what is the present status of these funds, including those that may have been remitted since and not yet recorded by the GSIS? I believe it is time for COA to follow up on what Vergara has done on the above findings so that affected GSIS members would know the status of their contributions!

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Today is the 73rd day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance. Ten weeks ago, Jonas’ mother, Edita, reminded Noynoy in a letter of his promise to conduct a “dedicated and exhaustive investigation” on her son’s enforced disappearance. “Our hope was anchored on your promise to do what you could ‘on the basis of evidence’ when I personally pleaded for your help. This was almost four years ago, May 2010,” she wrote. Mr. President, Sir?

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All the legal gobbledygook that have come out in the media after the Supreme Court declared the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional have me confounded no end. When the high court says a committed act is unconstitutional, isn’t that just like saying an illegal act, a crime, has been committed? And a crime is punishable by law? With Budget Secretary Florencio Abad having admitted it was he who concocted the illegal DAP, isn’t that tantamount to having confessed to the crime?

Why then is everybody still calling for his resignation? Shouldn’t he just be arrested for the crime he has committed? A trial won’t even be necessary, right? Just a hearing and sentencing? Okay, President Noynoy Aquino owned up to the crime, an obvious attempt to save the skin of Abad, but being President he could not be arrested while still in office. The minute he ceases to be president on 30 June 2016, shouldn’t he too just be arrested for the crime he has committed and has admitted doing? I ask these questions because I am not a lawyer.

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One thing is, however, clear in my mind. When Noynoy himself admitted that some P1.2 billion of DAP went as “incentives” to senators who voted to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona, that, to me, constitutes bribery. And in bribery, an illegal act, a crime, aren’t the “briber” and the “bribee” both guilty? Which takes me to Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido Tan...

I believe she should take immediate action in auditing how the senator-recipients of the DAP spent the additional pork barrel they got. (The Ombudsman is not equipped to conduct such an investigation.) If she does not initiate an investigation fairly quickly, people will believe that she does not want to jeopardize her chances of being appointed to the Supreme Court. An investigation could be inimical to the interest of Noynoy and his henchmen. Too, Noynoy’s bosses have already been suspecting Tan of currying favor to the administration for neglecting to come out with a report up to now on the pork barrel expenditures of legislators from July 2010 when Noynoy took over as president.

To be appointed to the high court because one did a favor to the appointing power does not speak well of such a person. Her integrity becomes suspect. Besides, why would Tan prefer to be one of fourteen in the court, the other being the chief justice, when she is right now the top honcho with a constitutionally mandated term of an independent body?

To me, the best thing going for Tan in her present position is the opportunity to play a major part in the historical events that are still unfolding in our political life. If she could contribute her share to Noynoy’s avowed objective, where he falters at times, of turning a new leaf for the country, now would be her best chance to leave her greatest legacy in the service of the nation. As a supreme court justice she does not have that rare opportunity. Which way, Ms. Tan?

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Chinese ambassador Chao Jianhua said our countries should strengthen economic ties. Agree. But first, please stop bullying us! It is annoying! To the average Filipino like me, what China is doing is simply trying to brandish her newly acquired status of being the second biggest economy in the world. Pretty soon, she will be the biggest.

So, there is no need to keep reminding us. I also do not believe she has anything to worry about the US. The US’ pivot to these parts is merely intended to safeguard her interests, not to infringe on China’s. Their barbed exchanges on the South China Sea (SCS) situation do not really count for much. They are just for media consumption. US and China need each other. Actually, they now have a mutually beneficial relationship. The US will disturb that relationship only for compelling reasons such as China impeding the flow of commerce and threatening freedom of navigation in the South China Sea (SCS).

China, however, has already on a number of occasions guaranteed she will never do such things. Besides, to do so would be, as the expression goes, like cutting her nose to spite her face. She also uses those sea lanes in her commerce with other countries. Siding with the Philippines in our territorial dispute with China is certainly not one of the compelling reasons the US will put on the block her mutually beneficial relationship with China. That is not the purpose of EDCA. Its only purpose is to promote and protect US interests in case China starts infringing on her interests in the region, i.e., free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation, in the SCS. Noynoy the Amboy and his Super Amboy of a foreign secretary Albert del Rosario do not seem to understand these. Pity.

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Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos Horta, former president of Timor Leste, says that the best option left for countries contesting areas in the South China Sea is for all the claimant countries to meet and talk diplomatically. Horta also says: “The United Nations is not the only forum whereby these issues to (sic) be discussed. If China does not wish the United States to be involved, that’s fine. There are other arrangements, the important (thing) is all parties begin talking on the escalated tensions.”

I take it Horta meant to exclude ASEAN and its non-claimant members. If that is so, I believe it will do us no harm to give his proposal a try. We can even initiate it, if others won’t. And, I might add, we do not have to consult the US on the matter.

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Nobel Peace Prize for Noynoy for the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), emphasis on proposed? It is a harebrained idea. First, CAB is not yet a done deal. Second, are we so certain there will be peace in Mindanao once the proposed Bangsamoro comes to pass?

Already, those left out in the negotiations have vowed to continue their fight for what they believe is their right. Have we forgotten the Zamboanga siege staged by the MNLF under Nur Misuari? What about the rejection by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation of the CAB? Also, would supporting Japan’s reinterpretation of her pacifist constitution not hinder Noynoy’s bid to become a Nobel Laureate, if it is true he wants it? How about EDCA with the US? That’s not exactly a pacifist move. Mahina yata talaga ang mga advisers ni Noynoy. Wala pa namang kamuwang-muwang sa foreign affairs ‘yung tao. Hay naku…

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From an internet friend: Murphy, a furniture dealer from Dublin, decided to expand the line of furniture in his store, so he decided to go to Paris to see what he could find. After arriving in Paris, he visited with some manufacturers and selected a line that he thought would sell well back home. To celebrate the new acquisition, he decided to visit a small bistro and have a glass of wine. As he sat enjoying his wine, the noticed that the small place was quite crowded, and that the other chair at his table was the only vacant seat in the house.

Before long, a very beautiful young Parisian girl came to his table, asked him something in French (which Murphy could not understand), so he motioned to the vacant chair and invited her to sit down. He tried to speak to her in English, but she did not speak his language. After a couple of minutes of trying to communicate with her, he took a napkin and drew a picture of a wine glass and showed it to her.

She nodded, so he ordered a glass of wine for her. After sitting together at the table for a while, he took another napkin and drew a picture of a plate with food on it and she nodded. They left the bistro and found a quiet café that featured a small group playing romantic music. They ordered dinner, after which he took another napkin and drew a picture of a couple dancing.

She nodded and they got up to dance. They danced until the café closed and the band was packing up. Back at their table, the young lady took a napkin and drew a picture of a four-poster bed. To this day, Murphy (banging his head on the wall) has no idea how she figured out he was in the furniture business.

****** Email: roacrosshairs@outlook.com FB: https://www.facebook.com/reynaldo.arcilla.9847