Reopening of pork barrel scam probe and Dutertenomics

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

You might be wondering why I am lumping up the two together when they are different and distinct subjects.

Well, they are not really contradistinctive.

What makes them related or akin to one another is the fact that both deals with preventing corruption as the country is steered towards growth and development.

Thus, while Dutertenomics is getting to be a popular buzzword here and abroad for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 6-year development plan that aims to make the Philippines a high middle-income status before his term ends in 2022, it is a much welcomed boost for the country also that Duterte is keen and in fact throwing his full support behind the reopening of a congressional inquiry into the scandalous P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

Dutertenomics is actually about the 10-point agenda that is listed below and which emphasizes transparency and inclusiveness in every step:

  • Higher infrastructure spending, with 5 percent of gross domestic product targeted
  • Lower income and corporate tax rates to better compete with other Asian nations
  • Less red tape and corruption, including permits and land titles crucial to business
  • More state resources for the countryside, reducing poverty and boosting rural growth
  • Strong law enforcement and peace efforts to enhance the business environment
  • Small business gains with GoNegosyo’s Ramon Lopez as Trade & Industry Secretary
  • Better China relations enhancing Chinese trade, tourism and investment flows
  • Charter change to devolve power to the regions and ease foreign investment limits.

In the same manner, in revisiting the pork barrel scam probe, Duterte simply wants to make sure that all those government officials involved in unscrupulously diverting the government funds for the poor and needy into their own bank accounts are taken to task and prosecuted.

I just hope that in so doing Duterte will not interfere and just allow the Sandiganbayan ( a special appellate collegial court) to run its course in prosecuting the high profile accused namely, ex-senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada. He will be doing the country a great favor if he does.

Oozing with political will with no one to be beholden to and having the interest of the nation and the welfare of the people foremost in his governance, I am sure Duterte will find success in this twin concerns he is driving at.

 

Enrile’s suspicious visit to Malacañang

Former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile visiting Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

Former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile visiting Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

For anybody who has been following the political life of former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile one cannot help but be suspicious about the circumstances of his much publicized visit to Malacañang for a one-on-one tete-a-tete with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Enrile made a sucker of the Sandiganbayan when the court where government officials, from the President of the Philippines down to the lowest ranked public servant, are prosecuted, ordered for his release after posting bail totaling P1.45 million for the plunder and graft cases filed against him over a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam supposedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Before his release Enrile had been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Crame for a little over a year.

Two of his co-accused — former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revila — remain detained in Camp Crame, at the PNP Custodial Center.

Also in detention to this day for the same offense is Enrile’s former chief of staff, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes.

The court said the Enrile should be granted temporary freedom because of his old age and frail health, which did not make him a flight risk.

Enrile may not be a flight risk until now that he has fully regained back his health, but he continues to remain astute as he has always been known to be and his once temporary freedom, for all intents and purpose, is now a permanent one.

Or so it seems because while Enrile may have posted a bail he is still an accused out on bail for humanitarian reasons, but now that he is back in the pink of health the Sandiganbayan should send him back to the PNP Custodial Center for that is where he belongs in reality.

In fact Enrile is strong enough now that he has been able to visit Duterte in Malacañang and reportedly handed the latter a letter and three books that apparently contained unsolicited counsel/guide to help the president address the country’s problems.

Despite presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella’s claim that the meeting of the two political personalities was social in nature that included discussions on “current developments”, still it raised eyebrows of many Filipinos concerned about corrupt politicians on what really was the motive of Enrile’s visit.

We cannot help but hope that Duterte will stay his course and his commitment to the nation that he will have no mercy to those involved in illegal drugs, corruption and criminality that have caused near perdition to the hopes and aspirations of many Filipinos.

Plunderers deserve no less than death penalty

 

death-penaltyI have always been for death penalty and my most recent verbalization on this can be seen at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/the-revival-of-the-death-penalty/.

Understandably House members are still debating on House Bill No. 4727, which seeks to re-impose the death penalty in the country.

But what I do not understand is why some representatives want the crime of plunder be excluded from those heinous crimes punishable by death.

As suitably defined in our laws, plunder is the criminal act of “amass(ing) accumulat(ing) or acquir(ing) ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts… in the aggregate amount or total value of at least P50 million,” punishable with reclusion perpetua to death, according to Republic Act 7080 as amended by Republic Act 7659.

But the penalty of death was abolished for all heinous crimes (including plunder) after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 signed Republic Act 9346, which repealed all laws imposing the penalty of death.

What is more ironic than a former president repealing the penalty of death for all heinous crimes, including plunder, when Arroyo herself got ordered to be arrested for plunder.

But that is neither here nor there now as the Supreme Court dismissed the plunder charge against Arroyo and ordered her freed immediately after five years of hospital detention.

What I am just bringing to light here is that plunder can be and is, indeed, a heinous crime especially if committed by high-profile public officials.

Death penalty becomes even more warranted when public officials sworn to serve and protect the Filipinos are the ones making the lives of the poor people more wretched and miserable.

As if we have not heard of the greatest plunderer of all, the dictator Marcos, and how ravaged the country was after he was booted out.

Fresh in our minds is the alleged despicable participation in the pork barrel scam by former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. While Enrile was allowed bail for humanitarian considerations, both Revilla and Estrada are still in detention.

I don’t even agree that a certain amount of money has to be willfully stolen first, like P50-million, before one is charged with plunder. Hell, any inconceivable amount will do for it is not really about the amount of money plundered by an elected or appointed government official, or by someone from the private sector, that matters most, but rather it is the scandalous, disgraceful and dishonest way of enriching yourself at the expense of the earnest respect, belief, trust and confidence of the people that have placed you in your position of influence and power that you deserve to be hanged.

I could not agree more, therefore, with Sen. Panfilo Lacson when he said: “A plunderer kills more people than a murderer. A murderer kills one person while with a plunderer, many people die of hunger because of the plunder.”

Or it can also be said that a murderer destroys a life or two, but a plunderer commits a heinous crime that could destroy a family and possibly the future of a  generation to come.

 

Duterte must resolve plunder cases of politicians and cohorts immediately

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

It is very encouraging to know that the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has recently denied the motion of lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, a cohort of former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, to dismiss the plunder case against her.

Reyes, a former chief of staff of Enrile, is facing plunder   charges over her involvement in the pork barrel fund scam. She allegedly earned some P173 million in commissions on projects funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Enrile.

Although old and sickly, and granted bail for humanitarian reason, I hope Enrile is not off the hook from the plunder case that he, too, is facing.

But what I am just saying here is that since President Rodrigo Duterte has also declared war against corruption in government, the people should be making a lot of noise for him to expedite the resolution of plunder cases against politicians and their cohorts involved in the infamous P10-billion pesos Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam if he is really serious in eliminating this evil, as he has been against illegal drugs.

Before the Ombudsman starts filing corruption cases against new Duterte targets, it would add to the people’s encouragement, especially those supporting and contributing to Duterte’s high approval and trust ratings, if those lingering in detention and awaiting verdict, the likes of former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla and their cohorts, will have their cases against them decided already before more are added to the list.

The Binays, Jejomar and Jejomar Jr., may not be among those involved in the PDAF scam, but both are also facing plunder charges during their fiefdom-like rule in Makati City that are just as appalling and despicable if found to be true.

One could just imagine if any of these big-named politicians made it to be leaders of this country again and Duterte failed to be elected president.

Holy shit! What tremendous disaster it would have been for the country!

I think Duterte owes it to the country and the Filipino people that the plunder cases against the above-mentioned politicians and their cohorts be resolved first before naming and shaming new ones.

As we all had high expectations for Duterte’s success in his war against illegal drugs, we have also high anticipation that he will accomplish the act of putting the plunderers in jail for good if only for the unscrupulous public servants to pay the price for making poor Filipinos suffer more because of power, arrogance and greed.

 

Binay courts Pacquiao to nail presidency

 

Vice President Jejomar Binay

Vice President Jejomar Binay

I hate to be writing this early about Vice President Jejomar Binay’s run for the country’s presidency in the 2016 elections.

But if writing about it this early will diffuse and explain why Filipinos should not be too agog about him and his keen ambition to lead this nation, then I should have done my humble part in elucidating the electorate from my point of view.

Consider this article as a sequel to my previous blog about Binay: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/binay-tops-presidential-survey/.

What is even more repulsive about the man now is that he has obscenely invited world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao to be in Binay’s senatorial slate when the latter runs for president in 2016.

What I am saying here is that not only has Binay committed already the highest indiscretion of declaring his choice of PDAF scammer Jinggoy Estrada as his running mate in 2016, but has also chosen another nincompoop, in the person of Pacquiao, to run for a higher office.

And for what?

Certainly for no other reason but to take advantage of their popularity and nail the presidency for Binay and continue his outrageous political dynasty!

Now, what have we, Filipinos, done to deserve the continuing services of Estrada and Pacquiao, and God knows who else, including Binay himself?

Well, I am including Binay because he too is not beyond reproach.

More than his own gaffes as vice president, graft and corruption are also serious issues that not only Binay, but also members of his family are facing in their undisputed role as leaders of Makati City.

It is one thing hearing Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who has also presidential ambitions, challenge Binay to respond to corruption allegations over “the most expensive parking building in the country”, before even thinking about seeking the endorsement of the President Aquino (PNoy).

But, interestingly and intriguingly, it is another thing reading a detailed narrative about “the most expensive parking building” the Binay’s had built from another reliable source.

I am inviting you to visit this link: http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/08/03/1353164/overpricing-issues, and see for yourself if Vice President Binay, no matter his long and flaunting association with the Aquinos, carries even an iota of the streak that PNoy is known for – his being incorruptible – that would make him worthy of our trust and confidence in pursuing and sustaining what PNoy has started.

Cardinal Tagle hits crooks in government

 

Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

I would like to think that more than a priest and one of the pillars of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle’s criticism of government officials, particularly those trusted and voted upon to look after the welfare of the country and the interest of the Filipino people, was made as a citizen of the republic.

Exasperated, just like many of us, Tagle denounced to all and sundry, during a Good Governance Forum for Lay Leaders at the Santuario de San Vicente de Paul Shrine in Quezon , the corrupt practices done by the so-called public servants, calling them ‘thick-faced, insensitive and very brave’, for they have the gall to steal public funds. He clarified and qualified their bravery, however, as misplaced, for it had nothing to do with heroism, nor defending the interest of the people, but, rather, he hinted at the evil of their desires, the impunity of their actions and the scandalous enormity of the amount each allegedly received as kickbacks.

Obviously, Tagle was referring to Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. who are charged with plunder and awaiting arrest, and 35 other people, including former members of the House of Representatives and former government officials, also indicted for plunder and graft in the Sandiganbayan over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

What a contrasting view Cardinal Tagle has compared to the plea made by the head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, asking the faithful not to condemn those accused in the P 10 billion pork barrel scam.

Needless to say that Tagle’s thoughts and sentiments on the people implicated in the scam run parallel with many of us who had been taken for a ride by these rascals, and how irrational Villegas has been in his stupid plea.

I had been always critical at the leaders of the Catholic Church when the start meddling in the affairs of the State. But when they go down from their pedestals and be one of us, as citizens of the republic, in criticizing and repudiating the politicians who are now implicated in the evil scheme of enriching themselves at the expense of the poor Filipinos, then I welcome very much that gesture.

Thank you, Cardinal Tagle, for being brutally frank.