Promising

METRO PHILIPPINES
Typography

(Noynoy promised us a “daang matuwid”, but right now, that straight path is littered with all kinds of graft and corruption.) It seems the promising president that was Noynoy Aquino nearly four years ago is turning out to be just that – a promising president.

He promised us a “daang matuwid” (straight path). But right now, that straight path is littered with all kinds of graft and corruption, ranging from the pork barrel scandal; to the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP); to smuggling of rice and other commodities; to killer tandem bikers; to the coddling of government officials who are inept, if not tainted with wrongdoing; to the retention of officers of government-owned and controlled corporations who have, without so much as batting an eyelash, granted themselves humongous bonuses, per diems and allowances from people’s money they have sworn to safeguard; to solve the cases of desaparecidos like Jonas Burgos and slain journalists; ad nauseam.

And given Noynoy’s penchant for delivering speeches and giving statements to his bosses in Pilipino, one wonders how he can stand having a foreign secretary who does not even speak or understand the national language? One whose idea of promoting the national interest is by apparently hewing our foreign policy to that of another power whose interests are not necessarily aligned with ours? Only in the Philippines will you find such an official… in the person of Albert “Amboy” del Rosario.

But, of course, let us not lose sight of the fact that he is there only because of Noynoy… although some say it is the Americans who want del Rosario there. If that is the case, what does that make of Noynoy? An American stooge just like all his predecessors? Kawawa naman tayo. It has been 68 long years since we attained independence in 1946 and we still do not have an independent foreign policy as, in fact, dictated by the Constitution! We have not matured at all as a sovereign state.

Hay, naku… (That’s “sigh… mother” for those who do not understand Pilipino, like Del Rosario.) ****** Del Rosario has just named two career ambassadors to replace former Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Carlos Sorreta as members of the Philippine panel negotiating with the US on the proposed Increased Rotational Presence of American forces and facilities here. Two to replace one? Hmm… Sorreta was reportedly removed from the panel because he could not stomach the pro-American stance of Del Rosario, ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia and the Department of National Defense. The two ambassadors to replace Sorreta are Lourdes Yparaguirre in Austria and Ed Malaya in Malaysia. The former was an officer in our embassy in Washington during the watch of Del Rosario and assistant secretary for American Affairs, while the latter was DFA spokesman before he went to Kuala Lumpur.

I am in no position to pass judgment on the qualifications of the two as I have never worked with either of them when I was still in the service. But I like to believe that as career officers, they are imbued with the sense of patriotism and nationalism needed to safeguard and promote the national interest and will abide by their belief even in the face of superiors with contrary views. What leaves me curious actually is, with two undersecretaries as members of the negotiating panel (one from Defense and the other from Justice), why did the DFA have only an assistant secretary in the person of Sorreta? And now two ambassadors? The DFA should be the lead agency in the negotiations and therefore should head the panel. Was it by design on the part of Del Rosario? He could have tapped his undersecretary for policy Evan Garcia whom he had described as “gifted” but turned out not to be so in his only assignment as head of post abroad. He was also one of Del Rosario’s officers in Washington. So why didn’t Del Rosario put Garcia in charge? Your guess is as good as mine.

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US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, when asked about Sorreta’s removal from the Philippine panel, said: “No, it’s not for lack of progress at all. It’s a normal, natural part of the negotiation to discuss what the various terms are and that’s what we are doing. We’re hopeful that it will be concluded soon as President Aquino said and as we said also.” Huh? What made him say that? We are talking about a member of the Philippine panel, not the American… unless the US had something to do with Sorreta’s removal, which I am now inclined to believe. He must have been a thorn on the US panel’s side for standing pat on what he feels is best for our national interest. If that is the case, what would that make of Noynoy and Del Rosario, other than being plain stooges of the Americans? I think they should both resign if they could not stand up to the dictates of a foreign power! ****** The US Embassy has revealed that it processes an average of 1,000 visa applications everyday. At $160 each, that amounts to $160,000 a day; multiplied by an average of 22 working days a month, that comes to $3,520,000 a month or an average of $42,240,000 a year. Wow! No wonder the US government could afford to build huge edifices in its compound on Roxas Boulevard. What are housed in those buildings is anybody’s guess. One thing is for sure, the whole complex must have been built like a fortress.

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Noynoy has admitted that power shortage will persist, especially in Mindanao. Are we witnessing the start of a Reign of Darkness Part II? The first was during the time of the late President Cory Aquino who was dubbed Queen of Darkness midway through her term. Will the son also reign as the King of Darkness? It looks like the answer to both questions is yes… unless he can squeeze blood from his turnip of an energy secretary, the “promising” Jericho Petilla. Petilla promised to light up all the areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda before Christmas last year, remember?

He also swore he would resign if he failed to keep his promise. As we all know, not only did he fail to keep his promise to light up the affected areas… he also failed to keep his promise to resign. And now Petilla is at it again. This time, he promised Noynoy he would restore electricity in the whole of Davao Oriental within 45 days. The province was devastated by typhoon Pablo in December 2012. Will he resign if he fails to deliver again? I doubt it. Will Noynoy fire him? I doubt that too. He doesn’t seem to have the heart to get rid of inept cabinet members. But he talks down to civil servants and shoots from the hip when firing them.

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Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that Philippine Coast Guard ships should be sent back to Panatag Shoal if the Chinese again use water cannons to drive away our fishermen. We should have done that a long time ago. Right now, only Chinese coast guard vessels are in the area. We were conned into withdrawing our ships a year ago after the US allegedly engineered an agreement for the simultaneous withdrawal of Chinese and Philippine ships.

We did and Del Rosario raised a howl about Chinese betrayal when they did not. They have been staying there ever since. So now, we are left holding the bag, so to speak… only it is empty. Yes, it is time Gazmin tried to convince Noynoy to send our coast guard vessels back to Panatag. Some military officials are reportedly encouraging our fishermen to continue with their activities in Panatag. That is easy for them to say, but the fishermen would be more inclined to do that if they see our coast guard vessels in the area.

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Readers have asked why I keep publishing the Reminders portion below. Well, the reason is pretty simple. The public has a short memory and the government even shorter when it comes to scandals in government. And, in general, the media, being in the business such as it is, cannot sustain follow-up stories indefinitely, especially when other newsworthy events take place. For this, I thank my publisher and executive editor for their tacit approval of what I’m doing. No doubt, the concerned authorities and those individuals, including Noynoy, who are in the crosshairs of these reminders think that ignoring the questions raised is the best way to deal with them.

That may be so, but sooner or later, they will have to account for their misdeeds. And the public would remember! Reminders (for Noynoy): 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. 2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and ordering 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 (how much did he get in 2013?) and; (b) That, as of seven or eight months 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? 3) Facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments. 4) Resort to his immense presidential powers to expedite the resolution of the Ampatuan massacre case that is now on its fourth year.

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Today is the 289th day of the seventh year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance The Justice Department has dismissed the charges against several of those accused in Jonas’ disappearance. Cleared were former AFP chiefs of staff Hermogenes Esperon and Alexander Yano, ex-PNP chief Avelino Razon, retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, Brig. Gen. Eduardo Ano and Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano. Only Maj. Harry Baliaga will be (has been?) charged for arbitrary detention, murder and obstruction of justice on the disappearance of Jonas. Ano was even recently promoted to major general and confirmed as head of the Intelligence Service of the AFP.

"Pwedeng kasuhan ang kamay ng krimen pero ang utak ay hindi?" rued Lorena Santos, daughter of a desaparecido like Jonas. Mr. President, is this what you meant when you called for a “focused, dedicated and exhaustive” probe of what really happened to Jonas?

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From an internet friend: Wilfred had just learned his abc's and was very scared of doing them in front of the class. The teacher, though, told him that the best way to conquer his fears would be to just go ahead and do it. So, trembling, he stood in front of the class and began. "ABCDEFGHIJLKMNOQRSTUVWXYZ." "Very good, Wilfred. But you forgot the P. Where's the P? "It's running down my leg." ****** roacrosshairs@outlook.com