Monday, August 31, 2009

Worse than Gloria Arroyo

It’s been on many people’s lips: “The way Manny Villar is buying up everyone and everything with his money, he’ll be worse than Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” Worse than the fake Palace occupant who has corrupted everything almost irreparably--from elections to watchdogs; to police and AFP generals; to princes of the Catholic Church and other sects; to US diplomats, poll surveys, media; as well as, NGOs, opposition politicians, ad nausea.

Villar, who isn’t even in Malacañang yet, has been doing pretty much the same thing but with much more vehemence and gusto. Aside from spending what’s known to be between P350 to P800 million on his media blitzes alone, he is also into an even bigger spending spree--buying local and provincial politicians to his side, bringing his pre-election expenditure way into the billions!

Admittedly, tracing the sources of Villar’s bottomless wealth is herculean. No matter how often it is explained, this labyrinthian cornucopia always goes beyond comprehension. One real estate expert we spoke to avers to the old Unified Home Lending Program (UHLP) and National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) as the roots.

Decades ago, these two programs were designed to serve state workers’ and private sector employees’ home financing needs by tapping the combined resources of three government housing agencies. Villar was a major player in these undertakings. Working through real estate brokers, he bought up housing loan privileges from the beneficiaries without intending to build the promised homes, took the financing proceeds, and let the projects get foreclosed.

These comprised hundreds of thousands of “ghost deliveries” of non-existent homes; thus, netting at least P43 billion in losses to government housing and finance agencies.

Needless to say, the ill-gotten windfall from these massive, anomalous deals were believed to have started Villar’s other land development and banking interests and his use of congressional and senate privileges to divert road funds to these properties to boost their stock.

Villar’s rise to fortune is all but a story of his genius in corrupting government officials; in resorting to financial shenanigans--such as DOSRI loans using overpriced real estate collaterals from his own bank, which he eventually collapsed, and his abuse of the SPAV law to buy back his own debts at a huge markdown; and in diverting public money for infrastructure to inflate the value of his properties and holdings.

If someday an honest government starts its own inquires into Villar’s tree of plenty, it will likely find the gnarled roots from the losses of the UHLP and NHMFC, which losses, up to now, still have to be resolved according to housing industry sources. If the multi-billion Daang Hari scam, exposed by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jamby Madrigal, already shows how Villar’s neck can be put to the chopping block, what more await when even bigger scams from way, way back are uncovered? Frankly, these may well be his undoing.

Villar has to run and run hard to stay ahead of these cases. He has to spend more, and in the billions, in buying up air time, media practitioners, and pundits to brainwash the public mind. In a way, the media blitzkriegs are taking effect. He is surging ahead in public consciousness, especially with his “tulong sa OFW” spiel. And this bolsters his notion that he can buy everyone and everything even more. But for how long?

If Villar is not effectively exposed for what he truly is, and with his frame of mind fixed toward Malacañang, we will no doubt have someone as bad as Arroyo heading the next government. Or he’ll probably be worse since Gloria, in grabbing power, had to rely on various groups, which somehow put a dampener on her voracity.

Villar, in contrast is only using money, money, and more money to buy his way to victory. What then can be expected from an administration set-up a la Villar? Another conjugal kleptocracy to not only to recoup their wild campaign spending in the shortest time possible but to expand their riches by using government resources?

We should therefore ask the people: Do they want more of the same (or probably worse)?

To campaign against the money and media of Villar is to wage a two-pronged assault on his false image. First is a “truth campaign” to expose the lie behind his wealth. Second is a vigorous unmasking of his fraudulence by identifying the qualities of a true leader. These qualities--engendering the spirit of love for and among Filipinos; a palpable compassion for the nation; a proven capacity for reconciling conflicting forces to overcome the crises of the times; a record of concrete achievements; and a correct, pragmatic and effective governance that champions peace and order, as well as, patriotic and developmental economic strategies--are all that Villar can only pretend to have.

Chiz has been stuck in his pandering to the youth vote while Korina has hopelessly muddled Mar’s message. Noli, on the other hand, is so desperate he’s now amenable to Gloria’s “kiss of death.” The rest, like Loren, are being relegated to the vice-presidential derby. So the race is now down to Estrada and Villar.

Since Villar has already “peaked” too early, any truth campaign will easily make minced meat of this. Estrada is cruising along at the right pace. A very human and humorous movie with Ai Ai de las Alas will touch the heart of the nation. Plus, a record of the achievements of his abruptly interrupted regime and how, over time, his vindication came because of his passion for truth and justice, will highlight the message that Erap brings. And such is a message and a vision of hope, versus the only thing that Villar offers--a leadership worse than Gloria.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713 with the FDC on “Laban sa Laiban Dam-nation;” also visit

Friday, August 28, 2009

Villar: Double agent?

It was about the time of the last Sona that presidential-son Mikey Arroyo was quoted as saying there are a number of poseurs in the opposition faking criticism of his mother while actually courting her support. One of those alluded to has come out openly to deny it. Sen. Chiz Escudero has long had a hard time in shaking off the stigma because of his direct association with the financial oligarch suspected of fronting for the many deals of the First Couple. Still, he has more than once come out publicly to reject any such insinuations. But the same isn’t true for the other politician alluded to. Whenever asked about it, Sen. Manny Villar has only equivocated, bobbed, and weaved time and time again.

One interview with Villar on the subject from the Senate Web site follows:

Q: May binabanggit si Mikey Arroyo na meron daw presidential aspirant na bumabanat sa Nanay niya pero nagba-backchanneling through her allies para humingi ng support.

Villar: Mahirap naman akong mag-komenta doon dahil unang-una, sigurado namang hindi ako iyon kaya lang mahirap din namang magkomenta ako sa iba naming colleague. Hindi ko rin naman alam kung totoo iyon o hindi. Siguro hanapin n’yo na lang kung sino iyon.

Q: Hindi ninyo alam kung sino?

Villar: Hindi ko alam. Tatanungin ko rin kayo.

Q: Is it wrong to ask for support or endorsement?

Villar: Wala namang mali sa lahat ng tao na tumulong kaya lang, syempre meron tayong mga programa ng gobyerno, meron tayong mga patakaran, meron tayong mga linya. Syempre iyon ang una mong bibigyan ng pagpapahalaga sa hihingan mo ng tulong. Syempre titingnan mo rin ang motibo ng hihingan mo ng tulong kung merong pangangailangan nga siya ng tulong.

Q: Hindi asset ang endorsement ni PGMA?

Villar: Mahirap magsabi ng ganyan kasi ayaw kong husgahan ang kapasyahan ng kung sino man iyon kung meron mang ganun.

Everyone, including Escudero, knows that Arroyo’s endorsement or any association with her is a “kiss of death” for any politician. That is why it was wise of him to go out on a limb to show the whole country that he would have nothing to do with Gloria whenever he’s pressed for a show of independence from Malacañang. Villar, however, isn’t even willing to do that, leading some to think that he’s just making sure not to jeopardize his cozy relations with Malacañang. Others, too, believe that he may already have received advanced funding from the Palace, given the huge campaign costs he has so far incurred, estimated at around P800 million for just his TV and radio spots alone. When you add the hefty sums he’s spent on dole-outs to hordes of local and provincial politicians, then you end up with an even more staggering amount!

Villar has been very easy with his money, if indeed these are all his. From the alleged manipulation of congressional budgetary allocations that favor his real estate projects, to the billions borrowed from government financial institutions that are later defaulted and bought back at huge discounts, to the unpaid debts and obligations for real estate properties bought or leased representing outstanding debts, what kind of a president will he be when he has to remain in power to stave off financial and political Armageddon?

The latest Pulse Asia results only reflect the immediacy of Villar’s “Akala mo conyo, iyon pala taga-Tondo” ads. Such gimmicks, however, are only ephemeral. True enough, the other side of the survey picture, which catapults Estrada to No. 1 in the latest SWS results, with Villar dropping to second place, paints a completely different picture as the latter was conducted without the contravening “Akala ko…” ads.

All candidates for the presidency who’ve advertised themselves have already peaked and have started to decline. The only one who’s still .01 percent away from declaring his run, who has paid for no ad of his own, is President Joseph Estrada. Instead, the only ad that features him, the one for Arthro, has Estrada as the recipient, not the spender, of advertising money. And, in spite of these circumstances, Estrada has risen from fourth to second and first rank with nary a sweat.

But, headlines such as the Inquirer’s “Estrada ordered slay, Mancao tells court,” along with the timing of the belated extraditions and testimonies, make it obvious that the administration will be using the Dacer-Corbito case as a bludgeon against Estrada (not Panfilo Lacson). Imagine that the Mancao testimony has been kept simmering for months on end, only to be timed for the rise in Estrada’s public approval, as well as, the unprovoked assault by Gloria-FVR hatchet man Gabriel Claudio of him “splitting” the opposition. By putting Estrada down at this time, aren’t these administration moves designed to help Villar?

Thus, Mikey’s insinuation of “double agents” in the opposition is plain wrong because one is actually a bona fide agent of Gloria Arroyo. This has become ever so blatant since the impeachment proceedings against Estrada were railroaded in 2000, laying the red carpet for Gloria to prance all the way to Malacañang. And with Malacañang’s silence, along with its help and support for all of Villar’s financial machinations, not to mention the seemingly “fortuitous” events abetted by the Palace for him, it seems the favor has been returned many times over. But what they all cannot buy, as the late Ramon Mitra and other trapos have found out, is the love of the people that makes someone their leader. And this, only Erap has.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713; also visit

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Distilling muddled waters

“Good water cannot come from a muddled pond.” – Rizal

Last Friday was a good occasion to clear up a lot of muddled waters from the wellspring of Philippine history. August 21 was the anniversary of two very significant but very muddled events: The 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing and the 1983 Ninoy Aquino assassination. The muddle consists of erroneous conclusions still repeated by local and foreign media, pundits and ignorant peoples alike, all enshrined in many pseudo-historical resource materials. Although the two grizzly incidents both occurred on August 21, only 12 years apart, these still spook the minds of many Filipinos. Today, the post-Edsa I, II and III generations think of these only as stories and, thus, take the wrong conclusions as gospel.

Too many have used disinformation to serve their own purposes. Certain media networks and political parties have deliberately kept established facts under the rug to keep them out of public consciousness.

The only existing documentary of the bombing that has since been put on YouTube depicts a host of personages being interviewed from their hospital beds or wheelchairs. Among them, including the late Sen. Gerardo Roxas, John Osmeña, Eva Estrada-Kalaw, plus a dozen others, it was only then senatorial candidate Eddie Ilarde who had a correct assessment of who might have perpetrated the bombing.

Ilarde, who had almost lost his foot in the blast, was then being interviewed at the nearest medical facility to Plaza Miranda, the Singian Clinic near Malacañang. Speaking to the foreign press, he pointed to certain “ideologues” as behind the bombing, which deviated from his party mates’ “script.” Quite naturally, he got immediately chastised for not pinning the blame on Marcos as the whole world seemed to be doing at that time.

Another important guest alongside Ilarde in my upcoming Tuesday TV program is columnist Eric Espina. Based on the research he did and the various evidences he culled--books by two bombing victims, former Senators Jovito Salonga and Eva Estrada-Kalaw, and a third one by former AFP-then-communist turncoat Victor Corpus, all these point to Jose Ma. Sison and the New People’s Army (NPA) as the supposed “brains.”

I already had an inkling of this 10 years after Plaza Miranda when I, as secretary to the opposition coalition UNIDO, often overheard discussions among Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts who were convinced that Ninoy Aquino had prior knowledge of this event. Ninoy, as we know, was late for the LP’s miting de avance so he was spared from the fate of his colleagues in that blast. In later years, of course, more testimonies came from former NPA leaders like Fluellen Ortigas to support this.

So, after 38 years, Ilarde and all those who held a contrary view have been proven right.

Yet to this day, what many fail to ask about the Plaza Miranda bombing is: Cui bono? Or, who stood to benefit? Sen. Ilarde certainly knew Marcos was not stupid to have made something that would generate sympathy for his rivals. Even though the LP claimed that Marcos had wanted a stop to the so-called Haruta case scandal, on hindsight, it wasn’t at all very significant compared to his regime’s other controversies.

Still, the “Marcos as the Plaza Miranda bombing mastermind” tale, no matter how implausible to sober analysts, continues to be a myth. And as John F. Kennedy said: “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”

The late President Ferdinand Marcos was certainly a big loser in the Plaza Miranda bombing incident as sympathy poured onto the LP senatorial bandwagon that swept it to power. At the same time, the stigma that became attached to him from it would also haunt him throughout his political and biological life.

On the flip side, the biggest gainer from that gruesome but brilliant “false flag” project was Sison and his Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), who intensified the contradictions within the ruling class’ two-party system, radicalized the youth into the arms of the CPP, and left the rest of society in a daze against Marcos. Sison would have probably gotten away with it had internal conflicts within the CPP, including the execution of Danny Cordero, the identified grenade thrower, not eventually caused defections that allowed the true story to leak out.

Sadly, however, all the befuddling tales on the Plaza Miranda Bombing as told by mainstream media, particularly ABS-CBN, never give us a hint of the real culprits. Even institutions like the Catholic Church and the intelligentsia, who help shape our school curricula, share the same blindness. For vested interests like ABS-CBN, the anti-Marcos groups, the CPP-linked organizations, in tandem with the Church plus the economic oligarchs, this is understandable. The legitimacy of what they’ve been doing for almost 40 years now squarely depends on this continuing demonization of Marcos. The same is true for the US and foreign Big Business in their desire to open up the Philippines for liberalization and globalization. Marcos’ demonization only beclouded the benefits of the late leader’s protectionist and development-driven economic policies. But, in all, the country has become the biggest loser in this Plaza Miranda bombing myth.

With all that have transpired after Marcos, the perpetuators of this myth thus owe the nation an apology for waylaying us for so long. Now that truth is at hand, we are another step closer to setting ourselves free. This, along with another truth we will uncover next, the mystery behind the brains of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, will surely help us achieve victory in this cause.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713 with former Sen. Eddie Ilarde and Bulletin columnist Eric Espina on “The August 21 Mysteries;” also visit

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Exploiting a death

I had been waiting impatiently for the 40th day when the period of mourning would be over to discuss the issues pertaining to Cory’s death. But obviously, some are just too eager to take advantage of this period to pursue their self-serving agenda. Take, for instance, those who are pushing for the presidential run of someone whom they hope to be the heir apparent to their fallen “icons.” Never mind if this mediocre politician’s mental and leadership capabilities are in doubt. All they seem to care about is to strike fast and hard while things are still warm and fresh. Alas, the more they exploit the public’s sympathy, the more they appear to be clutching at straws--like Mar Roxas, who, even with Korina Sanchez, just couldn’t make the grade, and Villar, who’s now falling like a rock despite spending billions for his early campaign.

Columnists of other newspapers, too, are egging on their straw man. Apparently, the death of their yellow “icon” and the sea of condoling Metro Manila crowds seemed a good opportunity to take advantage of the people’s sympathies. PhilStar’s Billy Esposo used to be a Villar rah-rah boy until his bet’s declining survey fortunes made him look around in desperation. The yellow columnists of the Inquirer also joined in, like Jose Ma. Montelibano, who started writing that Noynoy has what it takes to lead and Conrado de Quiros, who asked who can better “carry on the fight” than the heir, whose parents died as heroes of the yellow crowd--a crowd that had seen better times two decades ago.

There was indeed a wave of sympathy for the former president (who, by the way, was never elected). No one would be so insensitive as not to be deferential; but shouldn’t those bereaved be as respectful? What is emerging among the yellow crowd, however, is nothing but blatant exploitation.

The scion of the dead tells everyone to “emulate” his parents. If indeed there is such great universal admiration deserved, it would be better heard from others paying tribute than from the family, so it would not come across as self-serving, coming as it does after an announcement of being open to “seek higher office.” If they in the yellow crowd think the Filipino people are as shallow as they make them out to be, then they should have their straw man declare his candidacy posthaste--and get themselves chastised in the surveys.

This matter of declaring the two yellow icons as heroes has pestered this country long enough. I wouldn’t mind emulating Rizal for his life and legend are a universal, moral, intellectual, and patriotic beacon. Rizal, unlike one of the earlier deceased yellow icons, was completely devoid of chicanery; whereas the other, who left his team to be blasted and maimed on August 21, 1971 in Plaza Miranda, appeared to have had advanced information on what would happen and deliberately arrived late to avoid the disaster. Whereas Rizal sacrificed himself, this late politician sacrificed his party mates. And irony of ironies, this politician’s death was later exploited to the hilt, enabling his family, which rose to power, to stonewall investigations to cast the blame wrongfully on the innocent.

Another demi-hero of Edsa I, Jovito Salonga, delayed admission of his knowledge of the true culprits behind this bombing for 20 years, apparently to perpetrate the myth of Marcos’ culpability. It turns out that the “hero” of the radical Left was the mastermind, a fact that their apologists such as De Quiros still deny, despite the admission of former CPP-NPA leaders Fluellen Ortigas (who confided this to me decades ago), Peter Mutuc, Ariel Almendral, and other victims whom Salonga had openly affirmed.

Since heroes must be as universal in acclamation as possible, no one other than Rizal fits this pedestal in the context of Philippine history. None of Rizal’s heirs, too, ever had to claim anything for their patriarch or their heroic family name. They simply continued on with their quiet dignified lives as teachers, writers, artists, and patriots.

If the Filipino people were to need another hero, Apolinario Mabini, acclaimed to be the brain of the Filipino Republican Revolution, should be it. There’s no need for anymore superfluous add-ons.

My bosom friend and comrade, former Mayor Jun Simon suggests that yellow be our color of national unity. But from the very onset, this color had already been appropriated for the elite-led social movements that reinforced plutocracy, enriched the already rich, and expanded the impoverishment of the vast majority of Filipinos. Borrowed from an American convict’s song, the symbolism of the yellow ribbon is moreover convoluted and concocted by foreign and elite-controlled mainstream media. Lastly, the color of this nation isn’t just yellow; it’s also red, blue, white, and dare I add, orange and green.

Like the round little golden pocket watch of the hypnotist, the yellow ribbon has been imbued with all the subliminal images from 1983 of that bloodied face framed by a coffin window; the large crowds that lined the streets; and the fall of an alleged “dictator” who couldn’t have avoided the use of force to quell the conspiracies of the Left and the Right. Yet, even more decidedly, the deepening darkness and misery in the impoverished lives of a great many Filipinos will awaken this nation from its trance to again see the massive oppression perpetuated by the powerful heirs of Edsa I.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713 on “The August 21, 1971 and 1983 Mysteries;” also visit

Monday, August 17, 2009

End the folly, start the action

What are the endless follies? Consider everything that has happened in Mindanao under Gloria Arroyo. Her “resuscitation” of the MILF; her annual ritualistic threats of “crushing” the Abu Sayyaf serial killers going pfft; the pointless peace talks with the MILF, enabling it to regroup, thereby keeping its Abu Sayyaf comrades alive and kicking repeatedly; the comedy of these talks allowing Malaysian and US interference to stoke further conflict, with the view of dismembering from our Republic our most treasured resource-rich territories; and, not to forget, our continued toleration of US troop presence in the whole of Mindanao. All these occur as we sacrifice hundreds of our soldiers’ lives yearly for a war directed at the wrong enemies, and these even after President Estrada had already clobbered the MILF at Mt. Buldon .

This folly in Mindanao isn’t new. Veteran Mindanao war generals narrate how, even during the time of Marcos, orders would come from Manila to desist from finishing off the rebels whenever they would be close to annihilating Nur Misuari’s forces. Thus, it wasn’t at all surprising that in 2001, when scores of fleeing Abu Sayyaf extremists were surrounded by government troops at the Jose Torres Memorial Hospital compound in Lamitan, Basilan, a reinforcement order by the brigade commander to finish them off was countermanded by higher authorities. Thus, all the cornered rebels managed to escape with their hostages, rendering several hours of heavy fighting, which had killed a number of soldiers, all for naught.

Only when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) desists from being used as pawns in this game against the surrogates of Malaysia and the US, and once it truly becomes a nationalist army against foreign subversion in all corners of the country, will the follies ever stop.

On the political front, we, too, are witness to this spectacle of a demonstrably corrupt and uncouth lady senator who openly admits to joining her colleague’s election slate only if the real estate trickster can donate oodles of money to her campaign chest. This, after she’s had a field day of berating executive officials who’ve aired costly infomercials using their offices’ budgets. It seems when it comes to her self-serving ends, she would have no qualms in selling her political loyalty to the highest bidder, even from someone whose funds also come from dubious means. So whenever mainstream media regale the public with her lies and manic laughter, they, too, share in this folly.

Speaking of mainstream media, another folly of theirs in being captive to the oligarchs has just been exposed. Reeling from the nitpicking of top mainstream newspapers of her Marie Antoinette dinners in New York and Washington, Gloria has recently ordered her Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera to sue the Inquirer’s owners for P630 million as unpaid lease payments due the government. The accused supposedly leased the huge property from the Ministry of Human Settlements in the time of Imelda Marcos and, after Edsa I, arranged for the extension of the lease for a song with the aid of Joker Arroyo through concocted documents, which someday will also see the light of day. Just like Gloria, these Inquirer oligarchs also live like Marie Antoinettes, using their media clout as a shield for their economic ventures.

Ditto for the other major newspaper’s owner, an erstwhile customs broker’s pal who is now a Metro Manila city mayor. Arguably, scandals in his city government are muted because of some quid pro quo, as evidenced by the deafening silence of media over the fire that gutted his city’s accounting records, which insiders say would expose shenanigans of high city hall officials. Still, the largest con game played on the Filipino people this decade was the power privatization law this politician “shepherded” through Congress, with incentives allegedly provided by key players, including Gloria, to the tune of P10 million per congressman. This, most significantly, has been played down by the Edsa II media because the Epira was one of the centerpieces of their elite conspiracy to loot the people.

The Filipino people and the AFP should thus wake up to the follies and start doing something serious about them. Begin with the refusal to tolerate or humor the politician-fools who perpetrate these follies; start shouting out loud against atrocities which the government politicians permit the secessionist rebels to inflict on our soldiers; condemn the policy of “appeasement” which the US Embassy, through its Trojan Horse the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), imposes on our nation through the treasonous “peace talks” in Kuala Lumpur; curse the business elite and their controlled media for their political-economic leveraging; condemn media stalwarts who prostitute themselves by aligning with the USAid and its other media fronts. Let’s start a passive resistance campaign, a boycott and non-cooperation, with all this foolishness.

Let us likewise support leaders who have stood up to denounce such follies: President Estrada who’s always led the crusade for the final stabilization of Mindanao (which cost him his first presidency); Gen. Danilo Lim who is a prisoner today because of refusing to play along with the follies any longer; and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the Bagong Katipuneros who’ve exposed the follies in Mindanao, the AFP, and the Arroyo regime without let-up.

Finally, let us devote time to work with truly concerned citizens in circumventing the foolish political system. Find socio-economic groups to work with: The Philippine Virgin Coconut Oil Producers’ Association, to boost awareness for the great economic and health boons in developing coconut products and consumption; former Senator Shahani on local dairy development; former Mayor Jun Simon with the Advocates for Servant Leadership; and many other such activities we will list in our next columns.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713 with former SBMA Chairman and Administrator Felicito “Tong” Payumo on “SBMA: The True Story;” also visit

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A corrupt and profligate social elite

At last, the news media has regained its sense of balance and perspective. News of the typhoon casualties could be read and heard again. For a while, the real storm that stretched over hundreds of kilometers darkening the Philippine skies was drowned out by the yellow squall. The whirlwinds of spin whipped up “Kris for President” then shifted to “Noynoy for VP or President,” and then the sainthood proposal; but these are all part of the passing emotional surge triggered by that hyped up event. As Edsa I and II proved to be ephemeral sensations in the light of history, reality and truth will catch up and put things in their proper places. The fact is, after Edsa I, the nation is poorer and in deeper trouble, with the threat of dismemberment more imminent than ever.

Edsa I’s luster tarnishes even more in light of the “death” of the National Artist Award. Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, wife of the Edsa I “steak commando” Heherson Alvarez, was quoted as saying, “Before you make a judgment, read my achievements first as an artist. Was I an idiot before I became a national artist?” Now I confess; I am no aficionado of Philippine arts and culture but in the few times I was compelled to watch Cecille perform, I have never detected a hint of talent in her “forced through” performances. From what I know, her recognition as an artist has only stemmed from her political connections. But it is still the voice of the artists’ community that counts; and a community of this caliber can’t be wrong about Cecille’s lack of merit as any layman like me can see.

The headlines today are about the P1-million wining and dining soiree of Gloria Arroyo’s entourage on the eve of her return for Cory Aquino’s wake. But for all of them atop of Philippine society and politics, I do believe this is standard fare. I remember one Metro Manila city vice-mayor identified with the opposition buying 49 tickets to the last Pacquiao fight in the US for his friends, costing P50,000 a piece. But let’s not stop only the politicos. What about the top 1 percent upper class of Filipinos who travel around the world regularly; the oligarchs of the land who would think nothing of spending that amount from the hundreds of millions they have bilked from the people in paying for power and water rates that are among the highest in the world; or lawyers like that partner of the now defunct “The Firm” who easily spent a fortune in one day for his daughter’s wedding in a Palawan resort? Gloria’s callous spending is just more open to scrutiny than the rest.

It’s good that Gloria and her entourage are being put under the spotlight for this. I just want to expand its focus to all the rest who are similarly exploiting the Philippines. In fact, most are working in tandem with Gloria, but unlike her, they enjoy immunity by virtue of being from “the private or corporate sector.” Just look at those “respectable” corporate pals (or cronies) of Gloria who are actually her bagmen, like the Kastilaloy banking clan that took Land Bank of the Philippines deposits to their own bank and bought a building at San Miguel Avenue posthaste, or the other one that charges the highest harbor rates in the world and flies off to the US to catch his favorite NBA games, or the power magnate’s children who give Hummers as gifts. Others don’t even care about public knowledge of their profligacy, like that “notoriously corrupt” Ilocos politician who piles up millions in loses in just one night in Las Vegas.

What we have is a class of corrupt and profligate people in this endemically corrupt and exploitative society, comprising a substantial part of what the National Statistical Coordination Board classifies as the Upper Class--the 1 in 100 families that control 80 percent of the nation’s wealth, whether earned by merit or other means. Unfortunately, wealth earned the hard way by entrepreneurs who set up genuine factories, catch fish, grow food, or export goods, is getting rare in the Philippines while that from exploitative activities is growing. One example of this is the Camp Crame parking lot. Before Edsa II, you’ll hardly find a third of the number of cars there today. Today, police officers are getting awfully rich; same with military generals whose addresses are now at Corinthian’s or Green Meadows.

The corrupt and profligate Gloria Arroyo may soon be out of power if she sticks to what many speculate to be Obama’s advice to her. But would that mean that once she’s out, the corruption will subside to more tolerable levels? It could, if the next president will not be under the thumb of not only the corrupt bureaucrats but, more importantly, the corrupt corporatocracy and criminal mafias that are invariably giving funds to each candidate in the field. It would be just as bad, if not worse, if the next president simply filled up his campaign chest from swindling government. We’ll just get a repeat of Gloria Arroyo who’ll steal as much to bribe his way out of the fixes he’ll find himself in when in power. It seems there’s no escaping the worsening corruption and profligacy in Philippine society while this class of greedy and extravagant spenders stays in place. To change things, we would need a revolution, installing a parsimonious and industrious social elite to restore the nation’s vitality.

(Tune to 1098AM, M-W-F, 6-7pm; Global News Network, Destiny, Cable Channel 7, Tuesday 8:15-9pm, “Talk News TV” with FDC on “Presidential, Parliamentary or Authoritarian?” [also seen on Internet, TVU Channel 61713]; visit www.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reflections in an unexpected holiday

While the great outpouring of solidarity for Cory Aquino was being covered nonstop in Metro Manila, a great outpouring of torrential rains devastated Mindanao . With the great suffering brought about by the deluge, I wonder how many felt as deeply about this tragedy. The floods, destroyed farms, and bald mountains are all a testament to the continuing failure of government to control the greed of logging companies, the ignorance of “kaingineros,” and the incompetence or complete lack of concern of government to protect our forests and reforest them where desperately needed.

On the economic front, Gloria’s much ballyhooed Sona boast of a Moody’s ratings upgrade for the Philippines, said to be a sign that the country has escaped the worst of the recession, which is also based on earlier data that are invariably fudged, was belied by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ assessment of our 2009 second quarter prospects. But even as this sobering view was tempered by some optimism, my friends in the Divisoria retail and food distribution trade narrate the drastic 20-percent decline in their sales. And when you add the rampant extortion by anti-smuggling authorities that shake down and padlock retailers instead of stop the release of smuggled goods from the source, then you have a perfect storm.

Retailers have no defense against these predatory “enforcers.” Even when they show proper documentation, they are still made to undergo verification, with inventory checks delayed by authorities for months on end, leading to the release of goods only after the customary payoffs.

And with 70 percent of tax collections going to debt amortization to the IMF-WB, and some more going to corruption, it would be better for Filipino consumers to save themselves from being bilked through the best tax revolt strategy, which is to look for goods and services from the underground economy. Better still, they can go into the underground economy and avoid paying taxes altogether--like the extortionist ones in Belmonte’s Quezon City where there is even an “employment tax” that treats work not as a constitutional right but a privilege.

Speaking of Belmonte’s thirst for funds, I caught a few portions of his self-serving eulogy and immediately remembered the Marcos buildings which he was in charge of recovering but did not earn for the government any substantial amount due to what he claimed were “lawyers’ fees” that gobbled up their worth upon liquidation. And can he answer why he was banned from the customs bureau during Marcos’ time for being “notoriously undesirable?” Moreover, who was the payroll master that got the Epira fast-tracked through Congress five months after Edsa II? And who got Meralco without reimbursing the state, given Belmonte’s added claim that there were no cronies after Marcos?

Cronyism has always been part of politics; it exists even in much admired economic powerhouses like Japan and South Korea . In the US , Bush has the Halliburton and Carlyle groups while Obama has Goldman Sachs et al. Truth is, the issue is not cronyism but economic policy. What is clear is that after Edsa II, the country became poorer in terms of expanding development and ownership of state resources to more people. Since Marcos’ development plans were aborted by the economic sabotage between 1983 and 1986, and since the misdirection of national economic policy after Edsa I, we have essentially been re-colonized economically, with public assets and our national patrimony turned over to foreign and local corporations that extract profit and leave very little behind for the people.

Fortunately, two good things came up during the week of mourning. The railroading of the Comelec’s automated system made me fear that the 2010 elections would be totally lost, with cheating virtually undetectable and proclamation so swift that there will be no more time to zero in on the sources of fraud. But after consulting with several top-notch lawyers, which view Archbishop Oscar Cruz shares, I became convinced that Atty. Harry Roque’s arguments before the Supreme Court will succeed due to the automation deal’s many violations. If they are proven right, this would move the filing of candidacy back to the original February date and pave the way for true elections with verifiable ballots.

The other good news is the “passing of the torch” to the new Aquino generation. Hopefully, Kris will supersede Noynoy in carrying this since she is more in touch with the masses and owes much to them. She could, like Erap, finally learn to be “para sa masa,” utterly convinced that raising the masses from poverty would also raise all the boats on our lake.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, August 11, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713 on “Presidential, Parliamentary or Authoritarianism” with Bono Adaza and Eric Espina; also visit

Monday, August 3, 2009

Learning from CCA

“Mark how fleeting and paltry is the estate of man — yesterday in embryo, tomorrow a mummy or ashes. So for the hairsbreadth of time assigned to thee, live rationally, and part with life cheerfully, as drops the ripe olive, extolling the season that bore it and the tree that matured it.” — Marcus Aurelius

“When I pass, speak freely of my shortcomings and my flaws. Learn from them, for I’ll have no ego to injure.” — Aaron McGruder, Boondocks

This phrase is what Corazon Aquino put on view when she expressed her contrition to President Joseph Estrada in December 2008, in front of a huge audience and the national and international media. She apologized for her role in the 2001 ouster of the legitimately-elected President and showed her capacity for discerning the historic truth objectively. And her intellectual honesty on this score earned her the ire of the deceitful, resentful and hypocritical among the “civil society.” That apology was really not only to Joseph Estrada but to an entire nation symbolized by the Edsa III masses of the poor and not-so-poor who stood for the truth but were beaten down to the ground by a rule of force that followed Gloria Arroyo’s power grab, backed by the “corporatocracy” and the fascist elements of the military, police, and Catholic Church hierarchy.

Other disharmonious matters should be left to later times, but one is urged to speak in response to praises for the life of the Edsa I icon that are infused with self-serving interests. Corazon Aquino delighted the US Congress in her speech before it on Dec. 18, 1986 where she announced she would pay even unjust debts incurred over the decades from the exploitative US international bankers, which we’ve been paying ever since. Paeans from local Big Business, particularly the bankers, are understandable as this sector benefited immensely when Edsa I financial mis-managers incurred P400 billion in domestic debt in seven years, amounting to 80 percent of Marcos’ 21-year debt! Foreign and local Big Business further raked it in from Edsa I’s deregulation, liberalization and privatization, thereby impoverishing the State and its people.

As satirist Aaron McGruder advices, let us learn. As Corazon Aquino learned and apologized for her shortcomings and flaws, she found out about herself eight years after her role in Edsa II. She saw the disaster that period brought upon the nation and shared in the guilt of helping install the most corrupt and evil regime this country has ever seen to date — a regime that we are not going to see the last of even after the 2010 electoral exercise, it seems. US President Barack Obama is giving Gloria Arroyo (the foremost example of “...those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent” and who are “...on the wrong side of history”) a seat at the side of the US ; for what? To parrot White House propaganda against sovereign North Korea and to fight in the phony “anti-terror” war intended to sow perpetual war in Asean, Asia and the world?

But Obama adopted Arroyo to be bosom buddy for a more atrocious deed, a bit of which she showed to the horror of those who can see what lies beneath. Just before Arroyo left Manila to step into Obama’s parlor in Washington , the “peace process” with the MILF was restarted and set in Kuala Lumpur again, a clear internationalization of the issue that goes against the national interest to keep it a domestic matter. And after Gloria’s tête-à-tête at the White House, Obama has since been full of praise for the “peace process” and Arroyo’s pursuit of the deal with the MILF. So as Gloria is now on the side of Obama and, it seems, on the best side of the butcher of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and father of the Latin American “death squads:” John Negroponte — what does this augur for Philippine dissenters?

There is some consolation in reading that the late Corazon Aquino’s son has expressed his lack of enthusiasm for a Gloria Arroyo visit to the wake of his mother. That’s a visit nobody needs. Everyone believes that nothing Gloria does is ever without devious self-serving motives. It’s better that the public not be pushed into such speculation, for it would cloud the somber mood. Thus, the “ban” on Gloria’s visit seems a fitting measure of retribution for the heaps of insults she has directed toward the Aquino family and the nation. I imagine the public enjoying that little punishment Gloria is being meted. She may have gotten Obama but she has lost the entire nation. (Anyway, Obama is already negative 12 in the latest Rasmussen poll survey of Americans; just a little better than the negative 25 of Arroyo here.)

Corazon Aquino finally embraced Edsa III when she showed her humility and apologized in front of the people for the error of Edsa II. President Estrada has returned the kindness with an effusive love for the late President; and to show this, he held a mass for her with the masa at the Payatas community with Fr. Larry Faraon. Estrada wanted to show the sympathy and admiration that comes specifically from the poor people of this nation, and that Corazon Aquino is no longer just the icon of Edsa I and the “elite” but also of Edsa III and the teeming poor of this country. I was told that Corazon Aquino, at her hospital bed, tacked up at her headboard a newspaper snapshot of herself with Joseph Estrada in the background. Was it just coincidence or did it have any meaning in the deepest recesses of the Edsa I icon’s subconscious? But what is clear is that a historical link between Edsa I and Edsa III could now be formed to advance the revolution that every Filipino yearns for — the emancipation of this nation.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Talk News TV, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713, on “Power, Water Sona;” also visit