Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Yesterday was 9/11 anniversary but everything was normal when I traveled from Cebu back to Manila. It’s now Sept 12. In a few minutes, judgment on the Erap plunder case will be handed down. (He has already arrived in the Sandiganbayan compound.) This is a very historic event and everyone is awaiting for the verdict. The Supreme Court has already allowed the live telecast but the camera will focus only on the reader of the Sandiganbayan decision.

Whether Malacanang is being paranoid or there’s a real threat to its security should the decision be adverse to Erap, the fact is it will be deploying 6,000 police and military troops and 5 APCs around Metro Manila concentrating in the vicinity of the court, Malacanang and the probable rally sites. Malacanang is now heavily guarded with container vans placed on the streets leading to the gates. Along the Pasig River, naval patrol boats keep watch.

Personally, I believe Erap is guilty - of manipulating the stock market in his favor, of using the tobacco excise tax (but Chavit Singson is equally guilty and should in fact be in prison with him), of profiting from jueteng operations, of using his power to benefit friends and relatives (contrary to his inaugural speech – WALANG KAMAG-ANAK, WALANG KAIBIGAN who will be unduly favored), and of practicing a work ethic completely opposed to what a President should be – holding drinking/gambling sessions with his midnight cabinet until the wee hours of the morning such that no official functions requiring his presence could be held before lunch time the next day and publicly admitting to an adulterous life, and being proud of it.

Should he then be punished? I’m not sure whether the 6 years in confinement are already sufficient. What is certain is that more people are now sympathetic to him, not really because of any good thing that he did while in detention but because of what Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been doing since she assumed office. The massive corruption that is happening under Gloria’s watch makes Erap’s sins ‘venial’ compared to GMA’s ‘mortal sins’. Having taken over from an administration that was ousted due to corruption, Gloria turned out to be worse. I agree with Conrad de Quiroz’s opinion in his Inquirer column that the issue is not about setting Erap free but of putting Gloria to jail.

The $329Million ZTE broadband deal is the latest. What is revolting is the cover-up and denials that insult our intelligence. The contract was signed in April by the Secretary of Transport and Communication Leandro Mendoza (ex military man) with Madam as witness (Gloria even had to leave the bedside of the First Gentleman Mike who had a major heart surgery at the St. Luke’s Hospital to go to China). When questions about the contract were raised, a Transport/Comm official claimed that the Philippine copy of the signed contract was “LOST” in the hotel on the same day it was signed. Talks about the overpricing and kickbacks started heating up, and Malacanang officials issued statements defending the deal. The Justice Secretary (whose remarks are always abhorrent every time he opens his mouth) said that the contract was valid (how could he have examined it if the copy was lost!). Sergio Apostol, the President’s legal counsel said that technically there was no contract to speak of – if it was lost, then there was no contract to review, Peter Favila, the Secretary of Trade claims that only a Memo of Agreement, not a contract was signed. Mendoza (the signatory) says there’s nothing irregular with it.

Then an opposition congressman revealed that the Comelec Chairman Abalos brokered the deal. For this, he was allegedly bribed, wined, dined, ‘golfed’ and ‘sexed’. Abalos admits to being friends of the ZTE officials – but finds nothing wrong with being their golf buddies? What’s wrong with playing golf during an all-expenses paid trip to China at the time that he should be busy attending to the May elections? – he also hosts and spends money entertaining these Chinese when they play golf here in the Philippines? (Isn’t he aware of the Code of Conduct for government officials and employees?).

Finance Secretary Teves admitted to the media that indeed Abalos introduced him to the ZTE officials and they talked about the contract. Romulo Neri, the former head of the National Economic and Development Authority, which reviews and approves proposed projects hinted that there was an attempt to bribe him P200M. The media also exposed that there’s no Detailed Engineering design, no bill of materials so the basis for setting the amount of the contract is a mystery. Details of the contract are not being revealed yet it will be funded by a loan from China that will be paid for by the Filipino people.

Secretary of Budget and Management says that the contract has not been perfected. Presidential Legal counsel Apostol now puts the blame on Mendoza and asks the media to direct questions about the contract to him. GMA in an interview in Australia said that she has asked her cabinet to review the agreement and to give her recommendations. The Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the transaction yesterday. Senate will open its investigation on Friday. For resolution by the Supreme Court is the case filed requiring the government to provide the losing competitor a copy of the contract.

Ang gulo ano? Is there or isn’t there a contract? Obviously there is. Can it be rescinded by the Phil. Government unilaterally? This is doubtful. Was the copy of the contract really lost? Tell it to the marines!

CANCEL THE CONTRACT AND PUNISH THOSE INVOLVED IN THIS ANOMALOUS DEAL! And what about GMA, is she is innocent, doesn’t she know the details of what she signed as witness in April? F_ _ _! She should give Erap company!

Postscript: This NBN contract is only the first of several contracts with China. Next is the US$400M + Cyber Education Program supposedly signed also in April and whose copy of contract is also allegedly lost.

It is not absolute power that corrupts but the fear of losing power! (according to Ed de la Torre).

1 comment:

Dan dela Fuente said...

Hi Toti,
Just to add on the ZTE scandal:
Now, it became clear why the COMELEC thru Abalos, was so quite about the "hello Garci" scandal and recently the "Bedol" case. GMA and Abalos will split ZTE bribe money. Imagine how a mere COMELEC Chairman can cow a businessman not to submit a bid in order for ZTE to win the contract. Very powerful for an election official. Talagang ginagago na kayo diyan sa Pilipinas. Baka makalimutan na naman ang ZTE kasi si Erap ang focus ng mga pinoy. Tagumpay na naman si GMA.

Sor Victorina de la Providencia, Mother Superior of Daet Parochial School

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