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.

 

Advertisements

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.

 

Despicable side of Enrile

 

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile

I have written a lot about Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, although his despicable side always far outweighs whatever respectable side he has.

Opportunistic and calculating that he is, he always knew when to get out of a situation.

Machiavellianism has always been his forte from the time he was in cahoots with the dictator Marcos, to the time he served under the presidency of Cory Aquino and until he became the Senate President.

Divine Providence must have played a role and showed kindness to the Filipinos that Enrile never got to be president although he deviously coveted the position privately. It would have been martial law all over again had he had the chance to get the endorsement and support of the people.

But for the younger generation that who only has a faint idea of what martial law was about during the Marcos regime and a sketchy recollection of Enrile’s participation, I am sharing with you here a link that makes it all the more understandable and unmistakable the despicable side of Enrile.

If I may add, let this story be an eye opener also to the younger generation on who the Marcoses really are. One cannot simply disavow the participation of the heirs, especially the wife Imelda, and even Bongbong, for he was aware of what was going on at the time already. Now they are back in power and have not minced words of their interest to reclaim Malacañang again.

Please open this link: http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/63840-juan-ponce-enrile-martial-law

Binay sells self and for candidate daughter

Vice President Jejomar Binay and daughter  Nancy Binay

Vice President Jejomar Binay and daughter Nancy Binay

“Ako si Jojo Binay, tatay ni Nancy Binay!” (I’m Jojo Binay, the father of Nancy Binay!)

“Ang tatay ni Nancy ay si Jojo Binay!” (The father of Nancy is Jojo Binay!)

Jojo Binay is of course Vice President Jejomar Binay and these introductory statements in presenting his daughter, Nancy Binay, to the public as one of UNA’s senatorial candidate in the May 2013 elections, is a political strategy that may very well catapult the father to the presidency in 2016 presidential elections.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) was conveniently formed from the union of PDP-Laban and Puwersa ng Masa (PMP) parties by the leaders, now more known as the 3 Kings of UNA, namely, Binay, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, not only to become the opposition party, but to be used as a vehicle to launch the senatorial candidacies of the 3 Kings’ children – Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito Estrada and Jack Enrile.

More significantly, UNA is a launching platform for Jojo Binay’s presidential aspirations in 2016.

My issue here is not about the creation of political dynasties under UNA, because for all intents and purposes, the same is institutionalize already in our democratic political process and it is futile to fight it, but rather my beef is on political patronage and political opportunism that UNA stands for.

If only Binay can show that he is his own man and can do without the support of Estrada, I would probably have good words for him.

But, how could I, when he, I and the whole world knows who Estrada is?

If not for Estrada’s popularity with the masses, which time and again has proven that it could win political battles, I don’t think Binay would be wasting his time seeking the political patronage of Estrada, who is making a political comeback running as mayor of Manila.

But, what an added boast to Nancy Binay’s candidacy for senator and Jojo Binay’s presidential aspiration in 2016 if Estrada wins in Manila!

The same thing goes with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who needs the image of Estrada to propel his son into the winning circle of 2013 senatorial bets.

 More than anything, Estrada is there to make sure his son JV makes it to the senate.

But what turns me off about Jojo Binay is when he keeps coming to the rescue of her daughter, as if reminding people that because he is her father, that it is okay for her to be a senator.

If Nancy Binay is getting some flak due to her lack of qualification to become a senator, then we should be thankful that the electorate is now more discerning and getting more pragmatic in believing that it is about time we start electing to the senate competent, reliable, knowledgeable and qualified candidates and not just because they carry the name of a famous politician-father.

If Nancy is smart enough to defend herself, then by all means she should express herself and convince the people why she is needed at the senate and make her father shut up.

This is the only way she could redeem herself and make herself look and act capable of being in the senate.

(Please see related blog and decide whether or not she and her ilk belongs in the senate: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/the-need-to-raise-the-bar-of-competence-in-the-senate/)

Enrile et al warns against delaying proclamation

Thanks goodness we still have Manong Johnny at the helm of the Senate leading the Joint Congressional Canvassing Committee which is tasked to proclaim the next president and vice president amid complaints of fraud and irregularities in the May 10 automated elections.

While many have considered Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile too old to be in politics, and in the Senate for that matter, it cannot be denied, however, that his intellect and stature are what is needed at this crucial time when firmness and decisiveness is required.

Enrile, as the leader of the 18-member joint canvassing committee, has got what it takes to resolve the problems of ruffled feathers and ruptured egos surrounding the controversial automated elections and ensure the people that proclamation of the new president and vice president shall be done by June 30.

“Let us be reminded of our moral duty, as members of this Congress, to resist any ill-motivated attempt on the part of some parties or elements, who, taking advantage of these irregularities, or worse, may have deliberately intended to cause the failure of the automation process or the election itself, to derail the proclamation of a new president and vice president,” Enrile said.

It would be less embroiling if defeated candidates, alleging fraud, be man enough to accept that in reality it is not the failure of the machine that they are basing their complaints from (unless solid evidence can be shown), but rather the mistake of some of the board of election inspectors (BEIs) not having implemented the instructions properly.

Still if the defeated candidates can’t concede defeat, then the only logical remedy is for them to file an election protest before the Comelec and have the ballot boxes opened for recount. Doing this, will pave the way for an, even, early proclamation.

It would, likewise, be a relief to all if Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin, chairman of he House committee on suffrage and electoral reform, who earlier said that thousands of election returns were considered void because it lacked digital signatures, will heed the opinion of election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.

Macalintal averred that “the absence of digital signatures should not be a matter to defer the canvassing because such is not a valid ground to question the authenticity of election returns.”

The lessons we must all learn from the ‘birth pains’ of automated elections is that the flaws being contested and debated are still people-based. The machine itself will do what it is commanded to do. It is the devious mind of man, if at all in this case, that has made the machines go haywire.

Enrile’s mind still works far better than most senators

If Liberal Party senatorial bet Martin Bautista is a doctor of medicine, then he should try seeing another doctor, one that should examine his head to find out if he himself is fit to run for senator.

Perhaps for lack of vital and detrimental issue against the Senate President, Bautista made Juan Ponce Enrile’s age a matter of contention instead, when the former urged the latter to give up running in the political race, like seeking re-election in May, to give way to “young blood” to become members of the senate.

Am presuming Bautista himself is comparatively younger than Enrile, but what makes him think he will make it to the senate?

In his profession, Bautista should be the first one to know that age alone won’t incapacitate a person. Age should never be used as a factor to disqualify one’s self for it is simply a number.

Enrile’s major body organs are still seemingly functioning well and most of all his mental faculties are still sharp and unassailable. None so far is threatening to put him out of commission.

So what does Bautista really mean about “young blood?” Is it the likes of Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Lito Lapid – all movie actors? Or is it the likes of Senators Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes – all former military men?

I have nothing against trained soldiers in the senate for in Senator Rodolfo Biazon, I have come to respect a patriot and a true servant of the people. The rest have only become problems to government, one way or the other.

But making the senate a place for refuge from law suits and immunity, for revenge and retribution instead of leaving a legacy as outstanding lawmakers is simply one great disservice to the nation.

Neither do I have anything against movie personalities in the lawmaking body that is the senate, but what is it really that these actors turned senators have done concretely and remarkably significant for the nation?

These are the types of people and profession whom Martin Bautista should have trained his sights on, if only to give others a chance to run.

Age, in fact, is not a problem.

The problem is when we put a square peg in a round hole.

Knowledge, intelligence, competence, skill, talent, commitment, responsibility, integrity – all these are what it takes to be a respected and highly admired legislator in the senate.

Unfortunately for Bautista, Manong Johnny possesses most, if not all, of these qualifications and he is still sprightly at 86 years of age. He is still perky to say: “Gusto ko happy ka!”