Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s next President, has appointed defense lawyer Salvador Panelo as his spokesman.
Presidential transition teams usually vet nominees. Maybe, Duterte, who got Panelo to represent him during the public lynching stage-managed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, feels he knows the lawyer well enough to forego of the vetting process.
Mr. Duterte chose wrong. Journalists and media groups are telling him so. As have the families of the media victims in the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.
“Hindi ako komportable. Hindi tama (I am not comfortable. This is not right),” said Mary Grace Morales on behalf of other families of our fallen colleagues.
“Parang alam na namin saan patungo ang kaso (We know where the case is headed),” Morales, whose husband Rosell, circulation manager of the community paper, News Focus, died in the massacre, said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) quoted Morales as saying, “Kung sya (Panelo) na talaga, hindi na ako aasa na may mangyayari pa sa kaso na ito (If he is really appointed, I will no longer hope for progress in this case),” she added.
Duterte campaigned on the promise to rid the Philippines of criminals and abusive government officials. Few clans are more abusive than the Ampatuans of Maguindanao.
Panelo was a defense lawyer for the Ampatuan massacre principals. He withdrew as counsel for Andal Ampatuan Jr. in December last year.
The NUJP expressed serious misgivings on his appointment as spokesman. It noted the “possible implications on the trial of those accused of what is acknowledged as the single deadliest attack on the press in history and one of the worst incidents of electoral violence in the country.”
I am a member of the NUJP, one of its former chairpersons. While the statement was right on most points, a tougher call is in order.
Mayor Duterte must rethink his appointment of Panelo
Do you see this quote, sir?
More than 50 people died, most of them hapless journalists. It was a MASSACRE of civilians.
Unarmed civilians, many of them women, one of them a lawyer who worked with the poor. A massacre, sir. The single, most vicious attack on journalists ever, worldwide. And it happened in your beloved Mindanao.
One can be a defense lawyer and protect suspects’ rights.
It is another thing to peddle the lies of killers, the worst of murderers.
Panelo described the charges as fabricated.
F A B R I C A T E D.
That speaks of his affinity to truth — an ocean separates him and truth.
This is the man who will be your spokesman?
There are, what… 6,000 positions? Put him somewhere where his presence does not taint the search for justice.
Other media groups have also raised opposition to Panelo’s appointment.
Philippines Graphic editor in chief, Joel Pablo Salud said:
I can already see where the Ampatuan case will be going with your choice, Mr. President, of a spokesperson. While I believe and will fight for people’s rights to have their day in court, lies like this one do not help the cause of justice. I suggest you find someone else to stand as your voice to the people because by this statement alone, this man could endanger your presidency even before it starts.
National Press Club president Paul Gutierrez said it would be difficult for journalists to work with Panelo.
“Members of the press would find it hard to interact, and work with, a press secretary whose main client are the suspects in the wholesale murder of the members of the press that has outraged the entire world,” Gutierrez said.
“We understand certain debts owed during the election season need to be paid, but for a candidate who won overwhelmingly on a promise that change is coming, this is not the refreshing wind of change our clients sorely need now,” said Romel Regalado Bagares, Executive Director,Center for International Law.
“The choice is uninspired, to say the least. But it is clear it does not really understand the gravity of what happened on Nov. 23, 2009 on a hill in Sitio Masalay, Ampatuan, Maguindanao. Sadly, it is a choice that does attack not impunity decisively but rather, perpetuates it,” the lawyer and journalist said.
Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s next President, has vowed to strip all vestiges of pork from the government, according to representatives of militant party-list groups.
Ariel Casilao, the first nominee of Anakpawis in the May 2016 elections said Duterte stressed his pledge during a two-hour meeting with Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and officers of Bayan Davao.
“Bawal na din ang congressional license plates and other signs of privilege,” he added.
Duterte also promised to persuade Congress to give departments the proper funds for necessary programs.
“He said lawmakers would no longer have powers to assign health services and scholarships,” Casilao said. The authority would return to agencies with aid from data provided by local governments.
If the promise holds, it would be a major victory for activists who have long campaigned against the massive use of discretionary funds by all branches of government.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the long practice of pork is unconstitutional, despite arguments from President Benigno Aquino III’s government. It also ruled against many aspects of Mr. Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.
Both programs have been identified with widespread graft and corruption, including the P10-billion pork scandal of Janet Napoles for which several legislators have been charged with plunder.
While Mr. Aquino initially claimed to back the anti-pork movement, he swiftly shifted to a strong defense. He railed against the Supreme Court when it ruled on many salient points of DAP, which has taken away from congress-approved projects, shifting spending to pet projects of Malacanang. Activists have pledged to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Aquino and his top officials after they step down on June 30.
What Duterte wants, Casilao said, is for Congress to “triple the budgets of departments” so they can provide better service to citizens.
It has been a congressional practice to slash departmental and agency funds, to allow legislators’ powers to influence executive actions.
Duterte earlier said he would be selling off government assets, like the presidential yacht, to ensure funds for the welfare of soldiers and cops, and the deployment of health professionals to the countryside.
The incoming president said he would provide allowances to ensure that young professionals are encouraged to work for the government.
Casilao said Duterte believes there can be enough money with an austerity program where officials and government employees account for every peso spent.
“He wants greater focus on health and education services,” Casilao said.
Duterte has announced a ban on junkets by government officials, bringing experts to the provinces to save on training costs, and to impose simple lifestyles on all government officials.
Some economic experts, including former National Treasurer Leonor Briones, have warned that with the campaign expense blitz of the incumbent administration, there may be little cash leftover for Duterte.
She said the 2017 national budget is 3 trillion 350 billion pesos, and that it is almost entirely to fund the projects of President Aquino.
She said the new President will only have three weeks after he assumes the presidency to submit his 2017 budget.
“If he realigns funds, he will have to move very fast. He has to have a very strong Congress. He has to ensure a massive exodus of traitors who will go to his camp, and change that budget. He will be like Jesus Christ who will conduct a mass baptism in the river of Congress to change the budget. Otherwise, they will have to go around it. It’s a narrow space for ‘Captain Philippines’.
“He will have to resort to horse-trading, and he will have to work very very hard, and he will have to copy [the programs of other candidates] very vast,” Briones predicted.
Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) founder Jose Ma Sison also said Tuesday the national government “is in crisis.”
“In last elections, the government spent na parang walang econ crisis,” Sison told a gathering of activists.
He expressed surprise that the presidential candidates in the May 2016 polls did not debate on the economic crisis.
“Due to this crisis, hot money has been going out since 2014,” Sison said.
“Parang walang malay sa pandaignidan antas ng krisis na nag-umpisa nang umepekto sa Pilipinas,” said Sison, who also chairs the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS). (They seemed to have no knowledge about the global crisis that has already started affecting the Philippines.)
He said despite praise from investment bodies and multilateral lending institutions, Aquino worsened the country’s problems with heavy borrowing.
“But due to crisis, hot money has been going out since 2014,” he pointed out.
DBM defends Aquino fiscal performance
The Department of Budget and Management, meanwhile, defended the Aquino government’s fiscal policies, saying Duterte would inherit a “robust, transparent and performance-based budget.”
The DBM confirmed Wednesday that that 84 percent of the P3-trillion budget for 2016 has been released to agencies as of end April 2016.
But it stressed, this does not mean that the incoming administration has been left with little resources for its priority programs.
“It is not true that only 16 percent of the budget is left, contrary to the claim of the camp of former Vice President Jejomar Binay. That is an incorrect and malicious claim. Allotment releases to agencies do not indicate actual spending of funds,” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said.
An allotment gives an agency the authority to obligate funds for projects. When projects have been awarded, the funds have been obligated and it is only then that actual funds are disbursed to agencies to pay the contractors and suppliers.
Abad clarified that of the total P3.002 trillion general appropriation in 2016, P2.505 trillion in allotments have already been released to government agencies. The remaining allotments amount to P496.3 billion and this is slated to be released later this year.
For Special Purpose Funds (SPFs), as of May 2016, P157.4 billion has already been released out of the P446.4 billion total appropriation—a large share of which was for the Budgetary Support to Government Corporations at P43.1 billion and the Pension and Gratuity Fund at P41.6 billion. This still leaves 75 percent or P332.8 billion in SPFs to be utilized by the incoming administration—with P58.0 billion for the miscellaneous personnel benefits of government personnel and P42.1 billion still intact for calamities.
Abad said the comprehensive release of agency budgets was made possible through the GAA-As-Release-Document regime, a public financial management reform in 2014 that phased out the Agency Budget Matrices (ABMs) and Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) from the budget process to facilitate the swift and efficient implementation of the expenditure program. With the General Appropriations Act (GAA) as the primary fund release document, agencies are now able to obligate funds for their projects in the beginning of the year and thereby accelerate spending.
“Let me assure the people and the incoming administration that the 2016 national budget was not squandered in the last elections and the appropriations in the budget are being released and spent according to the specific purposes and guidelines in the General Appropriations Act,” the budget chief said.
“We are proud to say that the next administration will inherit not only a financially stable and robust budget, but also a transparent and performance-based budget. If you look at the GAA, and it is available online, it has detailed disclosure of agencies’ performance targets. Also, we have disaggregated the lump sum amounts in the agency budgets into component projects, intended beneficiaries and location in order for the GAA to function as a budget release document.”
“The Aquino administration, under a solid platform of good and effective governance, has been able to craft a national budget that reflects transparency and accountability in public financial management,” added Abad.
I oppose the candidacy of Rodrigo Duterte because of his views — and actions — that are inimical to human rights. I oppose the candidacy of the dictator’s son, who still pines for the bloody paradise of his father.
“If you allow them to oppress your fellow man and you do not speak up, you will be the next one to be oppressed.”
Aquino repeated the famous quotes of Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken critic of Hitler and spent the last years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
“First they came for the communists, but I did not speak out because I was not a communist… finally they came for me and there was no one left to speak up for me.”
Let me jog your memory, Mr. President. What did your government do while soldiers and para-military forces hounded Lumad to death in Mindanao?
When the Lumad sought sanctuary in Davao, your Liberal Party colleague tried to force their “rescue”.
Your Armed Forces earned a sharp dressing down from a UN expert when they tried to manipulate his words and the truth (yes, pretty much Goebbels-style, right?)
You snubbed the Lumad when they came to the capital to call attention to their plight.
Yet your allies in Congress and your AFP brass — and your national security office in Malacanang — hosted pet datus as they preached their belief that anyone with “alien” ideology was fair game for murder.
Nobody came to the aid of 15-year old Manobo boy from Sitio Mando, Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon.
He didn’t just hear of the murders of his kin, Mr. President. He actually begged soldiers to spare their lives, appealing that his father, brothers and cousins be jailed if, indeed, they had done anything wrong. His father was 70 and blind; his brothers 20 and 19 years old. One of his cousins was 13 years old; the other was 17.
He begged the soldiers, Mr. President. And they shot father, brothers and cousins, one by one.
Remember them, Sir?
On September 1, in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao Sur, the head teacher of a lumad alternative school was found murdered.
Emerito Samarca’s students at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) discovered his body. The folk at Diatagon had no access to education until private efforts established Alcadev for Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig and Mamanwa youth.
You spurned Alcadev’s students when they were in town late 2014 to protest the militarization of their schools.
A year later, these same children saw Dionel Campos and his cousin Belio Sinzo murdered by paramilitary troops.
The three gentlemen’s crime — providing a safe space for the education of children neglected by government.
No one came to help the hapless Lumad, Mr. President. No one from your government. It took private citizens and people’s organizations and churches to come to their aid.
And don’t you talk of coming to the aid of people suspected of being communists.
There have been more than 300 cases of extra-judicial killings under your administration. Eighty of these involved indigenous people or tribal groups. Almost always, people your government suspects of being communist.
You couldn’t even be bothered over the death of hungry farmers, Mr. President. Spare us your warnings.
We know about tyrants and what they can do to the country.
You speaking on our behalf isn’t just silly and thoughtless as you often are. It is criminal, because it seeks to use legitimate fears to cover-up your government’s attrocities.
Your government kills teachers and children, Mr. President. WE WILL NOT FORGET.
What’s the difference between a joke and a dirty slip showing? How do you distinguish hyperbole from a person’s genuine worldview?
In the case of the Davao strongman Rodrigo Duterte, the offensive comments come too regularly to be dismissed as careless witticism.
Credit Duterte for defending indigenous peoples hounded by henchmen of corporations out to wrest their ancestral lands. Credit him for condemning the massacre of hungry folk in Kidapawan. Praise him for wanting to expand agrarian reform to ensure farmers get the support they need. Hail his commitment to resume stalled peace talks with communist rebels and provide meaningful autonomy to the Bangsamoro.
The Davao mayor has not admitted to any extrajudicial killings. He claims the criminals killed under his direct supervision were all gunned down in battles with law enforces. No case has been filed against Duterte for these extra-judicial killings.
His supporters stress this to debunk charges of selective justice. But there is no doubt that people have been summarily executed under Duterte’s watch.
Duterte may not have actually pulled the trigger. But speech after speech – to cheers and ovation – Duterte, a lawyer, spits on the nation’s laws, including the Constitution, presenting murder as legitimate law enforcement policy.
Who judges the innocent?
In his April 12 rally at the Amoranto stadium, Duterte said he has never killed an innocent person. But who judges innocence or guilt? The courts do, not the mayor, not the President. To deny suspects a chance to defend themselves in court does not solve the problem of injustice.
In the same rally, Duterte expressed sympathy for the plight of the Bangsamoro.
“I have to swear to the flag. My duty to the republic is to protect everybody, including the Moro people,” he promised disappointed leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
That’s impressive. But government officials swear to protect the rights of everyone, including people suspected of committing crimes.
The military routinely tramples on these rights where suspected militants are concerned, including the Lumad fighting to keep their lands free of abusive extractive industries. Officials of the Aquino government routinely justify these abuses. They are wrong. And so is Duterte in his equally selective notion of human rights.
Duterte talks about the evils of corruption, of how top leaders have made a rich, small segment of the population more equal than the rest.
His followers also cite the same – criminals coddled by lawmen, judges, other officials – as a reason for their impatience with legal niceties and their support for death penalty sans any check and balance, except a leader’s righteousness.
I will not disabuse them of the belief that injustice stalks the land. It does; my Facebook page is filled daily of examples, from tragi-comedy to full-blown horror.
Nor will I try to paint Davao City as the country’s crime capital. It isn’t.
But there is no excuse for murder. There is no reason on earth that justifies state-sanctioned murder.
My rights are everybody’s rights
Dutere asks, “anong mawala sa inyo kung patayin ko ang criminal?” (What would it cost you if I kill criminals?)
I have seen state security officials kill people on simple suspicion of being criminals. I have seen friends die, seen them arrested and tortured. I have seen people languish in jail even when the courts have cleared them of alleged crimes.
I cannot agree that others do not deserve the same rights I fight for, the same rights government officials are sworn to defend.
Duterte isn’t a neophyte politician. He has had decades as local chief to provide an alternative to instant-gratification, vigilante justice.
He offers higher wages for law enforcers. They certainly need it – like the rest of the country needs it.
But Duterte should be detailing steps needed to ensure that cops and soldiers do their job right, like trainings to lessen their use of shortcuts that then lead to lost cases.
He could list steps he’s done and will do to ensure the poor – defendants and plaintiffs – are guaranteed legal aid by efficient and honest government lawyers.
He could talk about workable rehab programs for young people who fall prey to drug abuse. He could talk about imposing harsher penalties for corrupt prosecutors who throw cases, or work with citizens’ groups to keep watch on hoodlums in robes.
It’s not that he hasn’t helped drug addicts. He has, as witnessed by Clarisse Le Neindre, who know runs a rehab facility after recovering from addiction with Duterte’s help.
Why then stress shortcuts as solutions to problems? Duterte is doing people a disservice by pandering to the worst of our instant gratification tendencies.
He presents the sona – the whole-scale round up of suspected addicts and community pushers – as the swift response to the scourge of drugs. That blueprint misses the fat cats who control the entry, the manufacture and the deliveries of drugs to affected areas.
Double standards, too
Duterte says poor Filipinos will come first under his presidency. He opposes contractualization.
Yet he promises to create an enclave where foreign investors can stay safe from the reach of the country’s laws.
He personally commits to keep them safe from inconvenient truths – like the fact that workers have the right to unionize.
For all Duterte’s talk about the poor’s right to prosper, he sees the struggle for economic rights as an enemy of development. And, indeed, in his first official campaign speech, he threatened to kill labor leaders who would not heed his “appeal” for a moratorium on union work.
He banners his credentials as a dear friend to the LGBT community. By all accounts, he treats them well.
Some gay friends who support him say they see nothing wrong with it.
If he uses it as an adjective that reflects your self-identity, there is nothing wrong with it. If you slam others for using bakla as a slur, why is Duterte suddenly exempt from those standards? His use of the word only encourages the bitter, hateful homophobia that have harmed so many of your peers.
And then there’s rape and his attitude towards women. He and his wife have a unique relationship and I will not impose my standards of fidelity on them. I must also acknowledge that, unlike ousted president Joseph Estrada, no one has charged Duterte with stealing public funds to subsidise his womanising activities.
Davao also has many pro-women policies.
And yet, he opens his mouth and something else comes out.
Duterte recently shared this tale of criminals in detention twice grabbing hostages. The second incident involved a bunch of Christian prayer warriors, including an Australian woman who was raped and then had her throat slashed, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.
Duterte used the anecdote to stress how incorrigible some criminals are and also to show his willingness to risk life for the sake of victims.
Then he debased everything that mattered. His anger towards rape was almost secondary to dismay that criminals used the woman first before the mayor did.
He was joking? Maybe. But he also used the same line earlier in his talk.
Cops who commit crimes for personal reasons deserve to be punished, he said. He made an example of a cop who kills his mistress – especially a pretty one — and implied the mayor should have first dibs on the beauty.
It’s not the first time he used that anecdote on the hostage-taking, ending with a similar line. Watch Noemi Dado’s video at the 38:43 marker.
You can slog through the entire Duterte speech, including some moving performances by Freddie Aguilar here.
And this admittedly moving paean to change. Which, indeed, this country needs.
We all should be outraged that the haves in this country get away with all kinds of abuses while the rest of us suffer indignities daily.
Yes, innocent people get killed and innocent people rot in jail. Hungry people are left to starve; when they protest, they die.
We all should rage.
But in cheering for Duterte’s warped logic, in playing blind to his contradictions, we might just visit more of the same on this nation.
Hunger that drives people to madness and despair is tragic. Ignoring needs of hungry folk and answering demands for food with a hail of bullets is criminal. Launching a parade of lies to defend the indefensible is obscene. It strips President Benigno Aquino’s government of legitimacy.
The President is missing in the face of crisis, as usual. His spokespersons and alter egos, and local stooges, swerve and lurch from one falsehood to another.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesman Wilben Mayor claimed cops didn’t carry guns. Photos show armed cops were there from the start of the protest.
Then the PNP said armed cops were sent because of the reported presence of rebels. They got a search warrant against the protesters’ church-owned sanctuary, but came out of the United Methodist Church compound with only one sports cap.
It didn’t surprise anyone who’d already seen video footage of the dispersal. The (pleasant) surprise was to find that some government officials remain committed to truth-telling.
Watch: Bullets for Rice by Kilab Multimedia
Suddenly, functionaries who had demanded the public wait for a government probe decided CHR Region 12 Director Erlan Deluvio. was not a person of authority.
The government ignored Deluvio and turned right to focus on a new tack: communists were to blame for “duping” the farmers.
Farmers didn’t know why they were there, said these spokespersons.
Who fed them? demanded Malacanang factotums and lapdogs. There would have been no protest if nobody fed and encouraged these poor farmers, they said.
Liberal party standard bearer Mar Roxas has joined the chorus, as if he didn’t see the outpouring of support for the Lumad he and his patron refused to help.
Filipinos responded to the callous spin with an outpouring of rice donations for the farmers.
Officials staged more tantrums. The donations were aimed at embarrassing the government, they said.
Cops barred food from reaching protesters. They also tried to bar lawyers, rights workers and kin from access to the wounded, even to the dead.
National Union of People’s Lawyers Edre Olalia said cops kept arrested protesters in a gym way beyond the legally prescribed time — and then, in the absence of a lawyer, made them sign away their rights.
Every right had to be fought for. In the city of Kidapawan, the Philippines has its first display of urban hamletting — mass illegal detention and denial of the most basic needs.
The government even tried to scare off local businesses. Tudla Productions reported on April 5:
Kidapawan City Councilor Lauro Taynan, Jr. recieved a call from a trader that 300 sacks of rice to be donated to farmers were held up in the warehouse for the police refused that the sacks be taken out. The sacks were purchased by Becky Vidanes, Robin Padilla’s manager.
The persistent outcry and appalled statements from multilateral agencies and international groups and most media outfits prompted an about face that finally allowed the flow of aid today.
But not before the most obscene act opened.
The budget secretary, responding to reports that it had slashed P2-billion off requested El Nino mitigating funds, said agencies had been told to source whatever was needed from the budgets for other programs.
It truly needs people living on a different plane of reality would think it is right to cut an urgent request in half, and then stealing funds from allocated programs to cover up.
That’s a shell game, pure and simple, using people’s money – and you wonder what they’re covering up because they’ve been throwing money left and right to their pet legislators and local government officials.
National government started an outpouring of technocratese to numb the debate. But one of the ruling coalition’s most powerful members decided spice things up by suddenly becoming a security spokesman for the government.
Prospero Alcala, President Aquino’s untouchable agriculture secretary – a slew of graft charges, his congressional slush fund ending up in ghost NGOs that used farmers without ever giving them the benefit of taxpayers’ monies – told media:
Things aren’t so bad; the communists only want it to sound bad, because they wanted a big shebang to celebrate the March 29 anniversary of the New People’s Army. The entire protest, says Alcala, was just a show. There wasn’t much hunger. There was, in fact a bumper crop.
That made for a collective puke heard around the country.
And that’s how you know it’s over, when the government starts botching up even the simplest rules of logic.
Government neglect and inefficiency and hubris were responsible for the Kidapawaan tragedy. Everything else that follows is just proof that this is a government without soul and, thus, without legitimacy. #30
Do read scaRRedcat’s latest commentary for UcanNews on the US$81-million, money-laundering scandal involving funds stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank via cyberheist.
As gambling lords and casino operators, and their bankers and remittance agents, blithely talked of personal turnovers of millions of dollars, Filipinos took to social media to express bewilderment and outrage.
Kim Wong, one of the country’s most powerful junket agents and among those charged with the money laundering of cyberheist proceeds, told a senator that it would be “an insult” to even inquire where his clients’ money comes from.
“Someone who gambles amounts as huge as this should be considered suspicious,” said Joaquin Astono on Twitter.
Poverty stalks more than a quarter of the country’s 100 million population; average monthly income is less than US$200.
“I can’t even make half a million pesos in a year of hard work and very little sleep, and I hear people dismiss half a billion pesos of gambling losses,” said Lorena Lopez, a call center agent.
He’s a touch, cocky guy, is Kim Wong. He told the Senate that if his friends were called in, they’d fill the chamber. Many politicians would be included. Politicians from almost ALL political parties. He’s been a big donor since Estrada’s time, Arroyo’s time and now, in the time of Tuwid Na Daan. He has friends from all the different senatorial lineups.
Please read the entire story HERE Latest news is Kim Wong has returned the funds. The only message we really get, is kung lulusot, lulusot. (If they can get away with it, they will.)
People wonder why it’s so hard to clean up corruption in this country. Every election shows us why.
We know that lords of jueteng (an illegal numbers game) subsidise election campaign expenses of many candidates. An earlier post here, #Jeueteng=Good Governance?, tackled Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas and running mate Leni Robredo cosying up to a Central Luzon clan known to head one of the country’s biggest illegal gambling network.
Roxas said that in his view, Pineda’s leadership can pass as an example of “Daang Matuwid.” He cited the provincial budget surplus of more than P1 billion, with all basic services and education subsidies provided to Pineda’s constituents.
This is the man who claims to be the successor of Daang Matuwid.
Pineda is efficient. So is former Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. The latter is accused of corruption, plunder included, has specialised in a dance of evasion and should be, as he likes to say, abjured. Estrada, the man Roxas abandoned when the ship was sinking, liked to say he didn’t steal from the people’s coffers.
Is this the line Roxas and his vice presidential bet Leni Robredo want to sell? That bathing in the profit well of criminality is preferable to bathing in the tub of corruption? Is this the lesson we get from six years of Tuwid Na Daan?
Roxas, the Wharton economics graduate, showed his lack of historical context in his comments about “Muslim invaders”.
His historical amnesia also goes for illegal gambling – among the scourge of this country and also said to be linked to other criminal activities, including money-laundering.
Just to refresh Mr. Roxas’ memory – and ours:
Who are the Pinedas?
Lilia is the wife Rodolfo Quijano Pineda – better known as Bong Pineda.
Pineda is no run-of-the-mill jueteng collector. Amid political intramurals in the country, Pineda gained strength from one administration to another.
“… many because of her detractors’ charge that she has links to Bong Pineda, the gambling lord of central Luzon island. She dismisses criticism about her being godmother to one of Pineda’s children, saying that, as vice president, she is godmother to hundreds of children.”
The reported lord of jueteng gained nationwide notoriety because his alleged operations had corrupted and harmed no less than the institution of the presidency. Almost legend, Rodolfo Quijano Pineda was implicated by Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson in his testimony before the Senate last year about jueteng collections channeled to deposed President Joseph Estrada.
Pineda, “Bobong” to his townmates, was ordered by the former President to stop delivering collections to his (Estrada’s) Polk Street residence. The Pinedas also maintain a house in nearby Northeast Greenhills. According to Singson, the deliveries were getting far too obvious, and perhaps embarrassing, for Estrada.
Because he ate into Pineda’s collections, Estrada, according to one resident familiar with political goings-on in the town, ended up competing with the locals. Pineda was unable to shower as much money on them because of the former President’s demands—and the people felt it, too.
Pineda, unlike his tamer predecessors, has exhibited greater audacity by directly influencing and meddling in politics, not just at the local but also at the national level. Not content with the anonymity offered by small-time operations, he has ventured into jueteng big time.
This May, as in the past, he is expected to influence voting in President Arroyo’s province, in much the same way that the Catholic Church or Mike Velarde is able to exercise their clout over their flock during the election season. But Bobong Pineda has his own style.
But wait, we shouldn’t even stop with Estrada or Arroyo.
Slippery Pineda is a survivor. In 1996, he was named by Potenciano “Chito” Roque, former head of the defunct Task Force on Anti-Gambling from 1986 to1989 under former President Aquino, as among the jueteng operators who gave him protection money. Along with four other suspected jueteng operators, he was charged with “corruption of public officials” but was acquitted in 1998.
Newsbreak said “at least P4 million a day” is collected from Central Luzon bettors. This was more than a decade ago.
If Mar Roxas and his vice presidential bet, Leni Robredo, claim good governance can be compartmentalized from jueteng, they are either lying through their teeth or dangerously naïve. I will be blunt and say it is the former.
There is no shortage of evidence showing how illegal gambling and other crimes often underwrite electoral fraud.
In 2005, as congressional hearings went on with regards Mrs. Arroyo’s electoral fraud in the 2004 elections, a new reports noted:
Senators heard testimony from an army officer on Wednesday who said he witnessed widespread election fraud in Arroyo’s favour on the southern island of Mindanao, where the allegations against the president have centred.
Captain Marlon Mendoza testified that former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano bragged during a drinking session that a gambling lord gave 300 million pesos (RM20.2 million) to help Arroyo win a second term in the May 2004 polls.
Mendoza, the chief security officer for Garcillano from April to June 2004, also said he saw a presidential employee distribute cash to an election officer on polling day.
Lest we forget, the Liberal Party senators run under Arroyo’s 4-K ticket in the 2004 “Hello, Garci elections.” Yes, the elections that focused on defeating action superstar Fernando Poe, Jr., the father of Senator Grace Poe.
The Liberal Party waved off persistent claims of fraud. It was not until much later – some of them even tried to prevent the airing of the ‘Hello Garci’ tapes – when the wages of sin were too heavy that they broke away from Arroyo. (In 2010, they embraced Arroyo’s minions, who have become the most vociferous attack dogs of the LP.)
Et tu, Leni?
Roxas’ is known for his strong self-preservation streak. He will bask in reflected glory and wash his hands of collective fault (check out the second presidential debates last week).
The times he stands up – or screams “P***ngi*a” after telling aides to corral media – is hardly ever a matter of principle. In Mamasapano hearings, he cried and presented a woebegone face but never said a word about President Benigno Aquino III appointing a suspended police chief to oversee a highly delicate, perilous operation. People urged him to break away then. I knew he wouldn’t – no way Roxas stood a chance without the infinite lardchest of the government.
If that penchant doesn’t serve Roxas these days, it’s because people have grown wiser after six years double standards that have shown how only enemies fall under the LP’s banner of corruption. Enemies and the people they see as latak or those who have outlived their usefulness because a more powerful and richer padrone has come along.
But Leni, aaaah, Leni is the true disappointment.
From her own press release:
Naniniwala tayo kay Gov. Pineda bilang mahusay na lingkod bayan. . . . Hindi naman tayo nakipag-alyansa dahil sa links niya sa jueteng,” Robredo said when asked if she finds any conflict between her position against jueteng and her acceptance of Pineda’s backing.
Asked if Pineda’s support overshadows her alleged jueteng links, Robredo said, “Wala naman siyang hinihinging kapalit. Lahat ng nag-ooffer ng tulong naa-appreciate ko, pero iyong may hinihinging kapalit, ibang kwento iyon.”
Utang na loob. Leni, have you forgotten how one of the reasons for the prolonged sidelining of Jesse – even after he took the interior department portfolio – was because of his opposition to #Jueteng lords?
Where were you when Pineda money was bankrolling Arroyo’s elections?
Guns, goons and gold are the staples of Philippine elections. Pineda’s operations also allegedly funded electoral fraud, according to Newsbreak:
Of all schemes, the “cadena de amor” was perhaps among the most efficient, if not the most novel of ways to guarantee that Pineda’s anointed candidate got the votes. How does it work? One campaign manager explains that during the first voting hour, a trusted person of Pineda, with a hidden sample ballot, goes to the precinct to get a real ballot. He or she goes to a voting booth and writes on the sample ballot, then drops it in the ballot box. The real and clean ballot is pocketed then brought to the Pineda compound along the Gapan- Olongapo road. Here, voters who are being dined and entertained are waiting.
In exchange for P500, the ballot is surrendered and Pineda people on top of the operation write on the clean ballot the name of the candidate they are supporting. This way they are absolutely sure that the P500 does not go to waste.
The next person in line then brings the ballot to the voting precinct and then returns with another clean ballot in exchange again for P500. There can be as many as five to 10 people doing this simultaneously, the campaign manager says.
You really think you can keep your hands clean, Leni? Or do you believe the excuse that your supporters have been giving, that politics is addition and that the cleansing will have to wait post-victory?
I expressed disappointment that Poe could not confront the original sin of her patron, Danding Cojuangco, the fount of the entire coco-levy mess. But Danding has lost the case at the SC. This doesn’t excuse Poe of the omission, but between hidden wealth recovered — but not yet distributed to rightful claimants — and seeking the patronage of gambling lords who have amassed power all throughout the post-EDSA I decades, I no which sin weighs more.
Roxas, by the way, did his darn best to win Danding’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and in fact counts on NPC bigwigs in Danding’s bulwark, Negros Occidental, as key supporters. So all that righteousness over Poe doesn’t wash.
Not a single shed of illusion over Roxas. But you, Leni, justifying using the proceeds of criminality (unless, you prefer Pineda dips into government funds to help you?) … Aaaah, and we thought some decency remained in government.