Revilla’s magical win

 

Revilla and his ‘budots’ dance campaign video.

I am of course talking about Ramon “Bong” Revilla who seem to have secured the 11th spot in the senatorial race in the last mid-term elections.

Like many, I am wondering what Revilla has that Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile do not have.

I mention the three in comparison because all are out on bail after being charged with plunder at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan over alleged misuse of their pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the lump-sum funds previously allocated to legislators.

Could it be that Revilla has a more effective talisman than Estrada and Enrile have? Not that I believe that having in their possession something that is thought to have magical powers and bring good luck could actually happen, but the fact that Revilla has been returned to the Senate after what he has done makes one wonder really.

Does a lucky charm really works or is it the shallowness of the Filipino voters that made Revilla won?

It would have been a satisfying victory for the people if, like Estrada and Enrile, Revilla was repudiated too. For a government official, and a senator at that, to be accused of pocketing P224 million in kickbacks from fake projects with the help of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles who herself was convicted of plunder is simply unconscionable no matter how one looks at it and the same rejection, therefore, should have befallen his candidacy.

I mean, if like Napoles, Revilla’s former chief-of-staff Richard Cambe, was also found guilty of plunder by the anti-graft court, what does that speak of Revilla acquittal, given that he is the head of his Senate staff? The same question can be ask of Enrile, while his former chief of staff, Jessica Lucila Reyes, continue to languish at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, while Enrile was released on bail in 2015 in consideration of his old age and poor health.

Does this mean to say that had Estrada and Enrile also utilized a campaign video that showed him perform a goofy dance that they would have won too?

How shallow and cheap can we all be to parlay our votes for an idiotic dance so that we can have a questionable character at the senate to represent the Filipino people in legislative matters that will protect the interests of the country and its government?.

Sense of humor is one thing that Filipinos have aplenty. But just because a candidate has found a medium to amuse people so that his disgraceful past can be swept under the rug is another deceitful act on the part of the candidate.

On the part of the Filipinos who still voted for him, it is called stupidity.

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Putting sense into our vote

 

Election is just a few days away and there is no better time to make sure that our country will be in good hands going forward than for everyone to go out and vote.

Every election time is very crucial for the country as it helps chart the destiny of the country, but I hope people will consider the May 13 midterm legislative election as something compelling for them to exercise their freedom of suffrage because we want to make sure that the outcome will not allow us to retrogress and risk the relapse of becoming the ignoble “sick man of Asia” again.

The reason why I am saying this is because the world community is acknowledging and recognizing the leadership of President Duterte and there is nothing more important than to choose candidates who support the direction the president is leading the country and not be an obstructionist for the sake of being one.

We have to admit that like everybody else, Duterte is a flawed man, but for one whose satisfaction rating has always been high, and even rated “excellent” in the first quarter of 2019 by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), it could only mean that most Filipinos approve of his non-traditional leadership.

Duterte’s relentless war on illegal drugs and his aversion to corruption in government, as well as his repulsion to criminality in our society, are exercises of political will. Many loathe him for his seeming uncivility, but this is what sets him apart from past presidents who would rather be popular than be motivated to perform a political action that would have negative impact upon the voters, so come what may.

Suffice to say that Duterte governance has always been predicated on his love for the country. It is not about himself but rather about the Filipino people he has been sworn to serve.

Sad to say, however, that many candidates who are running now for senators are banking on their popularity and not on what they have inside their heads and their hearts. They seem to have correctly psych up already how the Filipino electorate votes and this is what makes them confident that they will win. Talking about actors, singers, and the prominently infamous one of the martial law years and those of the PDAF scandal.

Certainly, this is not putting sense into our votes and this is why I am appealing for more well meaning Filipinos to participate in this election if only to offset those looking at election as a popularity contest. If they happen to belong to the Dutertes PDP-Laban and Hugpong ng Pagbabago parties, repudiate them.

Perhaps it is worth remembering Plato’s famous quote about politics, saying: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Command responsibility

Former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla

There is no doubt that the latest Sandiganbayan’s ruling convicting  businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the mastermind of the multi-billion-peso lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, and acquitting former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla surely leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many Filipinos.

It was not so much that Napoles got nailed, as she had it unmistakably coming, but finding a trusted staff in the person of Richard Cambe blameworthy than Revilla and adjudged equally as guilty as Napoles is simply beyond logic.

Why, what has happened to the popular tenet of command responsibility expected of those in power, position and influence, whether in the military or civilian setting, who has under them loyal subordinates who are now in hot water blindly following the bidding of their superiors?

What I am saying is that if Revilla has the unfortunate Cambe who has been sentenced to ‘reclusion perpetua’ or 40 years imprisonment, so too has former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, also implicated in the same corruption scandal but out on bail, a trusting soul in the person of his chief of staff,  Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, who continues to languish in her detention cell at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Taguig City, when her petition for bail was denied by the Sandiganbayan citing strong pieces of evidence about her participation in the so-called PDAF or “pork barrel” scam.

Command responsibility is about leadership and leadership is about being able to admit and accept failure and being able to take the blame for it instead of passing the blame to others. Worse still is being silent about it to save ones skin.

There could not be a better example of who should possess this remarkable trait of a leader than in our public officials, like congressmen and senators, who are tasked to serve the people.

But, alas, public servants they no longer are because instead of teaching and practicing values-based leadership, corruption has become the norm and excellence the exception.

We understand that public officials the likes of a congressman or a senator manages a large workforce and deals with numerous complex problems and so the more they should be vigilant that things won’t get out of control because the repercussion could be detrimental and far reaching.

Congressmen and senators have all the resources in their hands to ensure that plans, programs and projects benefitting the country and its people, especially the poor, will come to fruition.

But the same resources, however, can be used wittingly by unscrupulous public officials who stand to gain vast monetary advantages because of their complicity at the expense of those they promised to serve and without regard to command responsibility simply because they make sure that the dots won’t connect to make them liable and culpable.

Such is the case of this on-going episode of the infamous pork barrel scam by public servants.

 

 

 

 

The Sandiganbayan’s despairing decision

 

Enrile, Revilla and Estrada, all accused of plunder over the multi-billion PDAF scam are now enjoying freedom.

This is about the latest decision of the anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, acquitting former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla of plunder after the latter was accused of surreptitiously pocketing P224.5 million worth of kickbacks in what is now known as the country’s biggest corruption scandal involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), a yearly lump sum or discretionary fund that members of Congress use for government programs to benefit the people, most especially the poor.

It used to be that before the Supreme Court nullified the PDAF, after the P10-billion pork barrel scam was uncovered, a senator and a member of the House of Representative were entitled to P200 million and P70 million  in PDAF, respectively.

One can just imagine, therefore, the enormous amount of money that Revilla, together with then senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, have squandered when the Commission on Audit (COA) found out in 2013 that each of their 2007-2009 PDAF went to phony non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with ghost projects masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles, instead of being funneled to a legitimate government organization, as was the intention, to alleviate and improve the quality of lives of the poor Filipinos.

It was on this basis that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed plunder cases that ultimately led to their arrest.

But while Enrile was granted freedom for humanitarian reasons in 2015, being sickly and old, and Estrada freed in 2017, after the anti-graft court ruled that “there was no strong evidence” that he was the “main plunderer” in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, Revilla, however, stayed detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame until the announcement of his acquittal recently.

For many who have been yearning that convicting the three ex-senators for plunder will not only be a moral victory for the Filipino people, but a lesson taught for politicians to truly work for the interest of the people first as they have been sworn to do, the latest Revilla episode is indeed a very despairing decision. It simply means that acquittal also awaits Enrile and Estrada in due time.

We thought lady justice had finally snared the big fishes. Alas, like ex-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before them, they three got off the hook cheerfully to the dismay of many.

Yes, despairing, but does this mean giving up hope? Of course not!

You see, Enrile looks hale and hearty again and is in fact running for senator in 2019 elections. So is, Estrada and Revilla, who have always expressed their intentions to make a comeback at the propitious time.

On the part of the aggrieved Filipinos smarting from the seemingly unjust ruling, I could not see a more opportune time than in next year’s senatorial elections for them to exact retribution for Enrille’s, Estrada’s and Revilla’s misdeeds and dubious ambitions. All we have to do now is start talking and convincing other people that this is going to be payback time and not having any of them and their ilk elected to the senate ever again is doing our country a big favor.

This is a collective exercise of poetic justice at its best.

 

 

Scandalous Jinggoy never learns

Former senator JinggoyEstrada

I am talking of course about former senator Jinggoy Estrada, who until today and after spending 3 years in detention for plunder and graft charges relative to the scandalous P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), seems to have never learned to change his old ways.

The reason why I am emphasizing his individuality and ethos is because Estrada, an actor and a failed senator, is contemplating again in running for senator, and to think that he is just out on bail momentarily.

As if the plunder and graft charges against him are not shameful and degrading to his persona, enough to put him at the higher pedestal of corrupt government officials, it, however, shows no negative effect on him as he continues to beguile Filipinos with impunity.

Take for instance Estrada’s application for a travel motion to go to the US from April 21 to May 31, 2018. Accordingly, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan granted the motion on March 26 since it is a simple travel motion that the court almost always grants for defendants.

The problem, however, is that the scheming Estrada, not contented with just the travel motion request to the US, flaunted it as having been invited to speak in Michigan on Philippine affairs, and it was upon the invitation of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG).

It was even reported that Estrada attached an invitation from William Dechavez, identified in the letter as USPGG president.

Apparently, this grandstanding by Estrada was debunked by no less than the incumbent USPGG president himself, Mr. Rodel Rodis, who issued a statement, saying: “I can confirm that there is no planned USPGG event on May 20 in Michigan. I communicated with Mr Wllie Dechavez, our USPGG Michigan chair, and he made no plans for this event as he is in the Philippines for a vacation and he has not been in touch with his members in Michigan.”

If this is not another reprehensible and dastardly act by Estrada, worthy of condemnation and boycott on his senatorial run again, I do not know what is.

Because of this fraudulent turn of events, the Ombudsman prosecutors told the Sandiganbayan: “With this information, the prosecution is constrained to pray that the Honorable Court hold in abeyance the issuance of the travel authority of accused Estrada since accused appears to have committed material misrepresentations in his motion, thus openly violating one of the terms and conditions of the court in allowing an accused to travel.

They added: “Allowing accused Estrada to travel to the United States with the consequence of making him beyond the reach of the Honorable Court, despite the falsity of the purported invitation letter, may constitute a travesty of justice.”

Jinggoy with President Duterte at the Palarong Pambansa 2018.opening.

Yet, unabashedly, Estrada continues his odious quest for a slot in the PDP-Laban senatorial slate for 2019 by working hard to be under the good graces of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Look how Estrada tries hard to ingratiate himself to the president by showing his slavish subservience – shaking the president’s hand and bowing so low.

Cambridge Analytica a non-factor in electing Duterte president

Long before Cambridge Analytica, a British political data firm, got embroiled in controversy of scandalous proportion when it was alleged to have secretly and inappropriately made a Facebook data breach and harvested personal contents from some 87 million users, including, it said, over a million in the Philippines, to influence the country’s 2016 presidential election result, the way it is said to have catapulted America’s Donald Trump to the presidency, the majority of the Filipino people by then had already decided that, for a change, they will no longer be voting for a traditional politician.

It was no surprise therefore that when then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally declared his candidacy for president, the Filipinos went crazy rooting for him. Their prayers were answered. They now had an out-of-the-box candidate, a no-nonsense one at that, whose track record in governance is something most politicians should be envious about, but whose heart really beats for the Filipino people and whose dream is to make the whole country a livable place, in the same manner Duterte made Davao City a comfortable place for the Davaoeños.

Senator Antonio Trillanes and President Rodrigo Duterte

The reason why I am saying that Cambridge Analytica has nothing to do at all with Duterte being elected president stems from the fact that opposition senator and known Duterte basher, Antonio Trillanes, has been reported to be filing a resolution calling for a Senate probe into the role of Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 presidential elections, the same way the British firm is being accused now of capturing Facebook users’ data to corrupt the minds of the Americans into making the controversy-laden Donald Trump their president during the 2016 US presidential election.

The reality is that it was the intense hunger of Filipinos for a fearless and selfless down-to-earth Filipino leader with political will that made Duterte an overwhelming choice for the presidency.

The majority of poor voters who gave Duterte a margin of 6 million votes over his closest rival are proof enough that Cambridge Analytica was a non-factor, for they were not relishing in having a Facebook account.

Thus, I find Trillanes’ move for a Senate probe a mere grandstanding and purely nothing but a witch-hunt.

For not finding anymore culpability to spew barbs at Duterte, the way the latter continues to get support, trust and high approval ratings in his performance as president, Trillanes somehow thought he has found a bomb to be used against Duterte in the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

Soon Trillanes will come to realize that the bomb is a dud after all!

Napoles now under the WPP

 

What is so special about accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles that she has now been admitted to the witness protection program (WPP)?

Being tagged as the brains behind the misuse of billions of pesos in pork barrel funds or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers based on a Commission on Audit (COA) investigation covering 2007 to 2010 simply means that she is the root of all evil behind the scam and yet the Department of Justice (DOJ) has opted to turn her into a government witness.

How ridiculous can the DOJ be, for crying out loud!

Just because Napoles’ safety and security are threatened, does that make it a good reason to make her the least guilty of them all, even making sure that her medical needs are met?

How humane and considerate can the DOJ be on Napoles, but how merciless and unsympathetic can the same agency be on the poor people whose dreams for a better life for them and their family have been shattered by the scheming and evil ways of Napoles.

And to think that Napoles made atrocious and perverse deals with the politicians and other government officials to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and needy Filipinos who were deprived of funds for their livelihood because those involved in the scam purposely misused their pork barrel for their own selfish interests.

How more ironic can it get when the poor victims of the scam continue to live miserable lives, yet the perpetrators of the scam are given special treatment.

Napoles is a principal accused in the criminal cases lodged by the Office of the Ombudsman against former senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada.

All three cases are now on trial with witnesses being presented by government lawyers to prove their allegations that the lawmakers received kickback or commissions in exchange for funding host projects implemented by bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles.

Enrile and Estrada have been released on bail while Revilla remains detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Revilla is seeking the dismissal of his plunder and graft cases through a demurer to evidence, a move that seeks to have the charges junked halfway through the trial on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its case.

Napoles is also facing a handful of other plunder, graft and malversation of public funds cases also for alleged involvement in the misuse of pork barrel funds by various former congressmen.

With these facts in hand, does Napoles really deserve to be admitted to the WPP?