Friday, December 10, 2010

People's Court for Aquinorroyo

Unlike mainstream newspapers and apparently everybody else, I am not at all impressed by the Supreme Court (SC)’s junking of the Truth Commission or by the PeNoy administration’s avowals to continue the prosecution of crimes against the people committed under the Arroyo regime. I have always seen Arroyo and Aquino III as part and parcel of a continuum of the system ruled by Western neo-colonial powers in partnership with the local ruling class of oligarchs and corrupt politicians. The conflicts among establishment political parties and personalities are more distractive illusions or moro-moro and zarzuela than real antagonisms.

How can they really be antagonistic when they are all the same, except for the brief period of genuine candor under President Joseph Estrada? Cory, FVR, GMA and PeNoy merely sustain the plutocracy that carry on the exploitation of the people for the benefit of the exploiting class.

Buried beneath the hullabaloo over the Truth Commission fiasco now confirmed by the majority decision of the SC are the real crucial issues of the nation, such as the government’s increasing of the wholesale price of NFA (National Food Authority) rice from P23.50 to P25 per kilogram while retail prices have been increased from P25 to P27 per kilo last Dec. 7, which the NFA claims is aimed at “ensuring the viability of the agency.”

If I understand this logic right, the NFA is raising its price not for the direct benefit of the rice farmers but for sustaining the agency which clearly would be good for its personnel, particularly those recently appointed. Yet it remains to be seen whether this would be any good for the farmers and for rice production in the country at all. This is the solution the new government found to plug the budgetary hole when PeNoy’s Cabinet cut the NFA’s funding. What PeNoy has taken away will be replaced by what they now will take from the people’s pockets.

This price increase comes at a time when incomes are stagnant and real unemployment — not to mention underemployment — continues to soar at the highest levels, i.e. between 40 and 60 percent, when one counts unpaid family-based labor in or out of the employed sector. The NFA rice price increase is but one of the many other increases in basic commodities and services the government is poised to approve.

Power rates have continued to rise with the continuing implementation of the PBR (Performance Based Rate) scheme, wherein power companies target profit and alleged performance levels which the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves to allow the collection of those rates in advance — clearly an unconstitutional system being challenged by anti-power plunder consumer groups before the SC. Aside from this, water rates continue to rise as well in the face of declining foreign exchange burdens for these privatized utility companies.

We can go on with the expanding list of cost burdens the government is passing on to the shoulders of the people, such as the South and North Luzon toll fees, as well as that of the SCTex; same with the MRT and LRT rates, all of which the government is just waiting for some opportune time to raise.

Even this short list already presents tremendous financial dislocation for our people — the masa as well as the middle classes. The aggravation of the political moro-moros and zarzuelas for the Aquinorroyo clowns is essential for the ruling class to continue distracting the people from the real issues. These are simultaneously critical for PeNoy’s ConGroup to lay the blame on the past regime while they continue to implement the same conditional cash transfer program initiated under Gloria Arroyo; the same BOT scheme now renamed as public-private partnership projects; as well as another round of increase in the eVAT from 12 to 15 percent.

The SC’s junking of the Truth Commission (TC) exposes the complete paucity of the moral and constitutional integrity of its chief, Hilario Davide, as well as the other retired justices who joined it, for accepting their posts in a constitutionally infirmed body created by incompetent legal minds of the Chief Executive’s office.

They show themselves as no better than the amateurs in Malacañang today, and raise the question of their competence when they were not yet retired from the high court. “Sabagay,” a voice echoed, “the people never had any doubt about the lack of integrity and competence of Davide whose appointment to head the TC crippled its credibility from the very start.”

If these former justices had any dignity, they would have committed seppuku already. The collapse of the TC now sets off multiple football scenarios — an appeal to the SC and a clamor for the Department of Justice to initiate prosecution, which brings the ball to the Ombudsman where Arroyo has another goalie guarding her rear. It’s really a circus.

If the ruling class and its minions in the political sphere were serious in pursuing the crimes committed under the nine-and-a-half years of Gloria Arroyo’s tyranny, they would have set up a special court with impartial and dedicated judges. But can we expect any sense of justice from them especially with the way they persecuted their nemesis President Erap, whose only crime was to oppose the exploitation they wanted him to bless with presidential approval?

Alas, the ruling class and the system it runs will never want a serious inquiry and exposé of the crimes committed under the Arroyo regime for it will expose them too.

The whole truth will have to wait until a genuine people’s revolution (hopefully a peaceful one) establishes a truly democratic government and a People’s Court to expose the complete historical truth and pursue the multitude of particular crimes to mete out justice with finality.

Monday, December 6, 2010

P6.5-B ghost surplus

The elections of 2010 brought out one of the most unique transitions in the annals of Philippine local government history. The old regime in Quezon City (QC) turned over its reins to its anointed mayor, vice-mayor, and team of officials. Whereas in the past, the new, incoming local government, especially if from the opposition, usually discovered “ghost projects” stemming from the looting of local government coffers left behind by the past administration, such was not the case in QC — or so it seemed.

That should have been very good news to everyone concerned. Many, in fact, expected him to have a splendid time fulfilling his campaign promises, especially since his predecessor was said to have left a budget surplus of P6.6 billion!

But poor little new mayor of QC: He suddenly realized that he won’t have a chance to be such a spectacular mayor after all. With his city’s coffers actually running empty, how on earth can he deliver on all his campaign promises? How could this have happened when QC is RP’s richest city, with a budget well over P9.5 billion that surpasses even that of Makati? And if there had been that surplus kept intact, where did it go?

Much to his consternation, the new mayor found that he was not going to have that claimed P6.5-billion inherited from his predecessor after all. Worse, he could not even talk about it nor explain to the public why he can’t do anything at all because the previous mayor is his mentor and his vice-mayor is the previous mayor’s daughter. He knows that he’d commit political suicide when he comes out with this in the open.

The significance of this revelation about the ghost QC budget surplus is far greater than the importance of the city itself, which neither has the business significance of Makati nor the political significance of Manila. It lies in the fact that the previous mayor of Quezon City represents a far greater political culture and clout than just local city politics because that previous mayor is now the Speaker of the House; and among the wards he trained and employed in his city administration is now Executive secretary in Malacañang.

Lurking in the shadows of this chief factotum of the Chief Executive is a coterie of Rasputins of the former QC mayor, such as the one whom more than a decade ago served the most unpopular Chief Executive then (beaten only by Gloria Arroyo), Fidel Ramos.

This coterie of Rasputins include the draftsman turned public housing developer nurtured by the former mayor when he was head of the premier public pension organization of the country. This housing estate developer dummy figured in the recent urban settlers demolition and relocation project in QC, which was reportedly due to the failure of this housing developer’s relocation site preparations that was 80 percent short of his promised delivery.

But since he’s a relative of the ward of the former mayor who is now Secretary No.1 of you-know-who, there has been no sanction for this failure. The National Housing Authority has been left to hold the bag. But this latest failure of this team of the former QC mayor is no longer new as it has been the greatest sandal of the city in the past 10 years — so much so that despite its almost P10-billion annual budget, Quezon City remains the largest squatter city in the country.

How is it that a grandly ballyhooed P6.6-billion surplus, supposedly accumulated by the previous mayor over nearly a decade of “superb” management, turned out to be a complete hoax and nobody was the wiser all that time?

This speaks of the link between media ownership and politicians in the country, as the mayor in question owns (or used to own) one of the mainstream newspapers and commands serious leverage in the community of journalists and journalism. That newspaper, founded by the former mayor’s late wife, was used to propel the Yellow movement, as well as the former mayor, into power. That newspaper gave this former QC mayor starring role in the Yellow movement that has dominated Philippine politics for two decades and a half and running. The Yellows’ gratitude is such that they named a street and an LRT station after his deceased wife.

This coterie of shadowy figures is now the real powerhouse in the present government. They have their tentacles not only in the House but all the way inside Malacañang as well as in Quezon City Hall itself. Moreover, they continue to control the quiet real estate scams that transfer QC properties to private titles.

The former QC mayor, meanwhile, assumes a greater political role today as the “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” i.e. the channel between Gloria Arroyo and Aquino III, as he ensures the smooth continuity of policies between the two, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer and Public-Private Partnership projects (previously known as BOTs), the unbroken protection of the oligarchs in the privatized public utilities, namely, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, Meralco, Manila Water, Maynilad, Energy Development Corp., AboitizPower, ad nausea.

Will the ghosts of Christmas ever really come to save the Philippines?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Abetting treason and corruption

The House finally approved the amnesty bill for the military protestors who are better tagged as “conscientious objectors” rather than “mutineers.” This brings the nation closer to an act that is long overdue: A recognition of the protest actions of the Bagong Katipuneros (a.k.a. Magdalos) led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Para sa Bayan (PsB) of Gen. Danilo Lim as just and courageous.

These soldiers are finally getting the justice they deserve even as the truly guilt-riddled Gloria Arroyo generals such as Reyes, Esperon, Ebdane, Mendoza, Espinosa, et al. remain scot-free for their gang rape of the Constitution in 2001 and their continuing transgressions thereafter, including the 2004 “Hello Garci” episode and their rape of the national coffers by partaking in the feeding frenzy throughout nine-and-a-half years of Arroyo’s misrule.

Instead of helping and supporting these conscientious and patriotic soldiers, a mainstream newspaper has joined the ranks of some Joker Arroyo factotums in Congress, i.e. Edcel Lagman and company, to demand an apology as condition for the amnesty.

But amnesty, as distinguished from a pardon, has never required an admission of anything. Even as the latter can only be granted after a conviction, the former is unconditional and erases whatever charges there are. Every lawyer worth his salt confirms this — most notably Alan Paguia, who backs up competence with proven integrity. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, probably the only Cabinet member who enjoys some degree of credibility, has likewise buttressed this position.

The fact is, this grant of amnesty, albeit political, is a recognition of the overwhelmingly moral justification for what Sen. Sonny Trillanes, Gen. Danny Lim, and their men did as part of their bounden duty as citizens — and even greater responsibility as “soldiers of the people” — to defend our nation from the treason committed by the corrupt and rapacious usurpers in government.

The people had already twice “amnestied” these patriotic soldiers: First in the electoral victory of Senator Trillanes in 2007 and secondly in the most recent elections where Gen. Danilo Lim obtained a sizeable number of votes but obstructed from actual victory by the “Hocus PCOS.” All that was lacking was a formal amnesty by the “institutional” authorities that the military, police and government organizations recognized.

The Inquirer, hewing to the line of those factotums, issued an editorial on Nov. 24, 2010, saying: “We wonder if he (Gen. Danilo Lim) is aware of the irony of it all. The protector-of-the-people provision was one of those post-Marcos innovations in the Constitution, designed precisely to prevent the use of the Armed Forces for political or partisan purposes. Lim joined the service at a time when the AFP had been completely corrupted by Marcos, when officer and men, like Lim himself, thought it was only natural for them to take an active part both in government and in business. The new provision was designed to help reorient the thinking of the military, to remove them from the exercise of political power and to demilitarize the political culture. Now, Lim cites this very provision as his justification for attempting to seize political control.”

But what supreme irony! The Inquirer conveniently omits the fact that it was that very same provision used by the Edsa II coup plotters to oust a popular and duly-elected president, a historic transgression which that leading Yellow army paper had stoked, supported and reveled at.

The leading role of the military generals in the Edsa II coup was openly boasted, as Gloria Arroyo was caught on video acknowledging the generals involved, from Espinosa, Mendoza, to Ebdane and many others, one by one. Then, there’s that infamous statement from Angelo Reyes, confirmed by witnesses, who told the busload of generals he waylaid to the Edsa shrine: “Gentlemen, we are committing treason.” The SYM (Sorry Yellow Movement) confirms all these.

Unlike the Yellows and the Arroyo generals, Trillanes and Lim never went against any legitimate government. And in Gloria’s case, her regime was not only an illegitimate government twice over but one that was horrendously corrupt and had gravely impoverished the nation. Trillanes, et al. raised the issue of corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that opened a Pandora’s box of cases, including Gen. Carlos Garcia’s multi-hundred million scams.

The Magdalos focused our attention on the plight of officers and men who died in the frontlines for lack of communication as well as medical equipment and supplies while higher officers diverted funds to graft and arms to insurgents who could pay for them. The indignation of the idealistic Magdalo and Para sa Bayan soldiers grew even more after the miscarriage of the 2004 elections which Arroyo generals Esperon, et al. stole in broad daylight for their principal.

The Inquirer harps that Lim “subverts the fundamental principle of civilian supremacy over the military… effectively trains the guns the people have provided the military, not on enemies of society, but on the people themselves… Not least, it gives unelected men and women like Lim the right to intervene.”

Yet the unelected and unelectable elite participated in 2001 with their treasonous and corrupt AFP generals to subvert the will of the people that saw the overwhelming victory of President Joseph Estrada in 1998.

In May 2001 at the gates of Malacañang, unarmed Edsa III protesters were fired at in defense of the illegal (and Yellow) Arroyo regime, bloodying and killing dozens. The SYM has already said mea culpas for these. But the Inquirer, instead of showing integrity by apologizing, still attempts to coddle the treasonous and corrupt by perpetuating the lies.