By Miguel Raymundo
MOST of us believe the pork scandal is a corruption issue. Yes it is, but to some high-risk political operators, this is just the start of the 2016 presidential campaign. The last three years in Malacañang has been the most dangerous, if not unproductive, for sitting President BS Aquino. Not only has he found himself abandoned, but also tamed even by his most trusted allies. As expected, powerful forces are now on each other’s throat in what could easily be a warm-up fight for the presidential contest two and a half years from now.
But if you think the war is between Malacañang and the opposition, you fail to see deeper into what is happening behind doors in the current pork barrel scandal. The war is now between forces inside Malacañang. Manila Standard Today reported that DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is to blame for the 12-minuter fiasco, the “I-am-no-thief” televised speech of PNoy. The Manila Standard also reported of a Laygo survey that said PNoy’s popularity rating is down by 35 percent, a major slip in his ratings. The broadsheet said Malacañang is in panic. The paper said they have a Malacañang insider for a source. OpinYon sources inside Malacañang say the Manila Standard story is half-true. It is true that there is a bloody war between forces of Executive Secretary Pacquito “Jojo” Ochoa and those of the Liberal Party led by Roxas. It is too bloody that PNoy has been reduced to become a victim of the ambitions, greed and fears of the Ochoa camp.
BOC: Cash Cow
The Ochoa camp is not ready to give up its control over Malacañang even after PNoy is gone. That is the ambition and the greed. The fear is should an enemy group take control of Malacañang, Ochoa and company could be joining another President behind bars. The fears of Ochoa’s group are not unfounded. There are persistent reports that some top Malacañang officials are in control of smuggling. Billions of pesos in lost taxes and government revenues end up in the pockets of the relatives of these Malacañang officials. Out of power, they will not only lose this cash cow, their boys might even be charged of corruption. The Bureau of Customs is the favorite cash cow of any political party in power. It has lately become a center of controversy and power play between Samar and Balay groups. Attempts by the Balay group to take control of BOC has always been derailed resulting in Ruffy Biazon keeping the post even with his dimwit performance. Also the agencies known for massive corruption like the DPWH are controlled by the Samar group. There is sharing of powers in some agencies that bring in the cash. The bigger pie almost always ends up with the Samar group.
In the elbowing in the power game, pockets and egos are bruised creating deep resentment and plotting between the two forces. The war inside Malacañang is a very interesting as regards the use of dirty tricks. Unbelievable it seems the claim that only the Roxas camp is to blame for the 12-minuter speech fiasco. The report said that PNoy delayed facing the camera for that “I-am-no-thief” speech to give time for corrections of the speech by Ochoa. Being the last official to tinker with the transcript, Ochoa should take the blame for the final copy. But the Manila Standard source from inside Malacañang said that Roxas takes the blame and played up the slant that he is bringing down the President.
Who owns Manila Standard?
An OpinYon source said it is the other way around. The almost perfect handling by dirty tricks operators of Samar is making Roxas the bad boy. Almost perfect is the handling in the demolition of Roxas except that the top broadsheets appear to be treating the story with suspicion. So does OpinYon, forcing us to sneak in and get our side of the truth. Why is Manila Standard on top of this “inside sources” trick? This brings us to ask: who owns Manila Standard? That paper is owned by the Romualdezes, who are actually the Marcoses. We encourage you to do your own math and we would end up with the same conclusion. Notice one story finding space and getting viral in social media: the Marcos wealth and insinuations that its return will solve poverty in this country. Another interesting side of this 2016 battle for the presidency is how the camp of Binay is being treated by these two forces inside Malacañang. It appears that a decision has been made that Binay is not a serious contender, if not an already destroyed potential enemy.
Binay, A Goner?
With Binay already reduced to ashes, ironically by his own acts and moves by Malacañang, the two groups are now on each other’s throats, suspecting that whoever takes Malacañang will have the other join the President behind bars. Roxas has minced no words in seeking the presidency come 2016, but speculations are rife that Ochoa may have a different agenda – backing the presidential bid of opposition Senator Ferdinand Marcos “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The Ochoa-Marcos link is via a law firm – the Marcos, Ochoa, Serapio and Tan, thus the acronym MOST. Marcos refers to Liza Marcos, wife of Senator Marcos, while Ochoa is Aquino’s executive secretary and S and T for Edward Serapio and Joseph Tan, respectively. The law firm was recently tagged as lawyering for pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles, accused in a case of kidnapping and serious detention.
It should be noted, as well, that as early as Aquino’s 2009 presidential campaign, the salt to the wound has already been added. Members of the Balay faction of Aquino supporters, the one headed by Roxas, started blaming the Samar group under Ochoa for the failure of the Aquino-Roxas banner, after Chiz Escudero endorsed the Aquino – Binay tandem, without the knowledge of the said candidates. Escudero even went as far as to print t-shirts saying ‘Aquino-Binay’, which did not help the already widening division between the two groups that are supposed to be united under the Aquino flag. The publicity spin doctors in Malacañang were quick to rush and patch up the holes created by the infighting, but not fast enough that sources from inside were able to spread the knowledge that Aquino is running a divided political household.
Since Filipinos are known for putting premium on keeping up appearances, Ochoa and Roxas would come in public ceremonies together, standing side by side, just to make it appear that allegations of infighting are baseless. Other than the obvious nonverbal tension that one can observe in this play-acting to feign truce, we know that the Filipino public has seen the same political drama repeated over and over again, and they are not fooled.
As preparations for the 2016 elections begin, we see a repeat of the 2010 battle royale between these two groups. But this time, it will be bloodier and it might trigger the fall of Pnoy even before the 2016 elections.
Malacañang is now the most dangerous place to be: a snake pit.
- Trouble at the top (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Coloma tags MST report ‘speculative’ (manilastandardtoday.com)
- PDAF defeat prompts Aquino to fly back to Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- An irrelevant president (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Aunt Tingting vs ‘Digi-President’ (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Coloma gains more air time in Malacañang (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- This Week on OpinYon : SNAKE PIT (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Palace mum on Roxas-Romualdez tiff (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Aquino moves to stem skid in ratings (manilastandardtoday.com)
- LP disowns mayor, mum on Drilon-Napoles link (rappler.com)
FILIPINO scientists are developing what could be the future of rice in Asia.
“Flood tolerant” rice varieties to solve global losses of the staple grain from seasonal floods are the new frontier, according to breeders in the region.The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in collaboration with the International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (ISPA) is working to develop rice that can withstand flooding. Working on similar genes that allow certain aquatic plants to survive submergence, the team is looking to come up with rice plants that can thrive in all types of flooding conditions.Food losses caused by floods serve as motivator. “We have more people in this planet. We need to produce more food,” said Voesenek Laurentius, ISPA President.The Philippines is a key player in rice technology. The country already grows submergence-tolerant rice such as NSIC 194 or ‘Submarino’ which was observed to have high tolerance to effects of La Niña and typhoons, according to the Philippine Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, post-harvest losses remain a different story with its own set of challenges.In its latest food loss report, the Food and Agriculture Organization stated that airtight storage technology from the Philippines helped cut the country’s rice losses by 15 percent.GrainPro Philippines, Inc. in Subic Bay is a global leader in airtight storage solutions. The company has been very active in helping government agencies and non-profit advocacies to solve post-harvest losses in the country.”Pre-harvest and post-harvest losses are major problems among rice-developing nations in Asia.
Each requires its own unique set of solutions,” says Tom De Bruin, President of GrainPro Philippines. GrainPro is also working closely with IRRI and the University of Hohenheim to develop modern innovations to solve problems in post-harvest losses. Some of their solutions allow rice to be safely stored for up to three years without loss in quality.Recently, Thailand’s Rice Pledging Program collapsed, resulting in harvested rice to be flooded and waste away in local warehouses. The program cost the country billions. Some experts agree that the right post-harvest storage solution could have helped the already debt-riddled country.De Bruin hopes that the government will continue to provide much-needed support to encourage companies such as his to come up with long-term solutions to the problem. So far, support has been sparse at best in promoting technology that fights post-harvest losses in Asia. This in itself is a major obstacle for developers and innovators in the region.
[by Ike Señeres]
IN theory, democracy is really supposed to be participatory. The Constitution and its many laws are in place to make that possible, but up to now, the present reality seems to be very far from the theory. Suffice it to say that even if the mechanisms are already in place, a lot of work still has to be done, much of it in the form of advocacies, programs and projects.
In my previous columns, I have already written extensively about participatory democracy in the barangay level, by way of participation in the Barangay General Assemblies (BGAs). In recent news reports, there has been a lot of coverage about constitutional provisions for a People’s Initiative (PI), a process that would allow ordinary citizens to pass a law as if it was also passed by the Congress. In a manner of speaking, the PI process is also a form of participatory democracy.
As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for”. That is akin to the saying “You reap what you sow”. Perhaps that is really the essence of democracy. You get something if you invest something. If you invest nothing, then you get nothing. Even if our democratic rights are vested upon us by the Constitution, we also have the option of disregarding our rights, perhaps even waiving these. That is probably what happened in the case of barangay governance, because the turnout in the barangay elections is only about ten percent.
Unlike the Sangguniang Barangay wherein the members are only those who are elected in the barangay elections, everyone in the barangay could attend the BGAs, and anyone above 18 could vote for or against all resolutions. According to the Local Government Code (LGC), BGAs are supposed to be convened at least twice a year, but there is no limit as to how many times these could be convened within a given year. How much more participatory could that get?
Aside from the BGAs however, the LGC also provides for the creation and activation of Barangay Development Councils (BDCs), a formal body wherein about half of its members should come from the private sector, as represented by members of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Again, how much more participatory could that get? Taken together, the BGAs and the BDCs could work very well with each other, each one serving a different purpose. As I see it, all that is needed is to coordinate the schedules and the agendas of these two bodies, and the people in the barangay could practically write their own destiny.
As I see it, the coordination between the agendas of the BGAs and the BDCs is only a matter of scheduling. Even if the BGAs are essentially meant for individual participants, the NGOs could still get involved there as groups, acting on behalf of their individual members. The key to that, I think, are the caucuses that could be convened by the groups of active NGOs, so that they could coordinate their agendas before they go to the BGAs.
Just like any assembly or meeting, the ultimate outcomes are really the formal resolutions that could be approved by the BGAs, sitting as full assemblies. As I wrote in my previous columns, the BGAs are in effect the stockholder’s meetings, and these have greater powers than the SBs that are in effect merely board meetings by comparison. The only action that the SBs could do is to ratify the resolutions approved by the BGAs, and the SBs could not change anything.
For practical reasons, it would be good for the NGO caucuses to already prepare draft resolutions for submission to the agendas of the BGAs, instead of writing these drafts during the actual meetings. This would be too late of an action to do, and it would be a waste of time. In order not to waste time, it would be best to show the draft resolutions to the caucus members ahead of time, instead of showing these to them during the meetings when these are already ongoing.
I believe that it is about time that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should allow absentee voting in the BGAs, via internet and mobile means. Although the admissibility of electronic evidence is already provided for in the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA), there appears to be no ruling or legal precedent yet that would allow absentee voting. It may be farfetched, but perhaps it would be possible to try it in one BGA, in order to set the precedent.
As provided for in the LGC, the BDC is just the first layer of LDCs that go all the way up to the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). In theory, all the agendas and resolutions in the lower councils are supposed to go up to the higher councils. What this means is that the agendas and resolutions in the BDCs should actually go up to the Municipal Development Councils (MDCs). In reality therefore, the NGOs or the caucuses of NGOs could always bring their advocacies to the municipal level, if and when they would not succeed at the barangay level.
I recall that there is a popular actress who is said to always get what she wants. Perhaps it is the opposite in the case of barangay residents who could actually get what they want, except that they do not seem to care enough to get it. Meanwhile, many corrupt and incompetent local politicians are having a heyday in lording over barangay governance, perhaps also enjoying the public funds that they are putting into their private pockets.
For feedback, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text +639083159262
- Participatory Budgeting in Korea: Finding Solutions to the Limitations of Representative Democracy (isckoreamedia.wordpress.com)
- San Francisco To Test Online Participatory Budgeting (techcrunch.com)
- Participatory Budgeting; Recycling NYC; Lawyer Bubble; Monogamy (wnyc.org)
- Only losers demand a ban on opinion polls: Arun Jaitley (dnaindia.com)
- The “Declaration of the 58″ and the Distortion of Social Democracy (despinabiri.wordpress.com)
- Virginia GOP: If It Wasn’t For That Dumb ‘Participatory Democracy’ We Could Totes Win Tuesday’s Election (wonkette.com)
- #MillionPeopleMarch It’s about much more than Pork (cynicmeetshope.wordpress.com)
- Citizen Participatory Democracy (peoplesadvocacycouncil.wordpress.com)
- Look for the remedy..The Parliamentary System has been declining…. (dtsreddy.wordpress.com)
- Quick Note to the Americans (whatever.scalzi.com)
By Richard James Mendoza
IN the wake of the U.S. government shutdown comes an editorial straight from China’s state-owned media outlet Xinhua entitled: “U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world.” The editorial points out the increasing expansion of the U.S. as a “global empire by imposing a postwar world order” by citing the actions the U.S. government did after World War II such as “fueling recovery in Europe… and encouraging regime-change in nations that it deems hardly Washington-friendly.” The editorial was also critical of the hypocrisy of the U.S. government, mentioning its efforts to make it seem that they have the moral high ground, while pointing out the abuse of its status as the world’s superpower, such as “…torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders,” as well as “…shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.”
According to the editorial, the actions that were committed by the U.S. government had the international community reeling from the effects of a financial collapse due to the avarice of those in Wall Street, as well as agonizing many nations across the world, since their dollar assets are jeopardized due to the recent government shutdown after Washington failed to reach an agreement as to if they are going to raise the debt ceiling, as well as reaching for a solution for the federal budget.
The editorial gave several ideas as to what can be done to start the “de-Americanization” of the world. Among others, it suggested for countries to learn the basics of international law and respecting other countries’ sovereignty. The recent disputes between the Philippines, China, and other neighboring countries in the Southeast Asian region regarding the ownership of several islands and shoals on the South China Sea (or the West Philippine Sea), most notably the Spratly Islands, is a good example. While China has insisted that the U.S. government keep its hands off the issue, the Philippines, mostly through the inanity of DFA Secretary Alberto Del Rosario, is practically begging for the help of the U.S. in settling the dispute.
As a sovereign country, we shouldn’t allow the intervention of other countries that are outside the matter at hand, most especially the U.S., since they’re only going to serve their own national interest and not ours. Those who believe that the U.S., either through plain ignorance or sheer idolatry of the U.S., are the ones who will save us from the “bullying” China fail to see that the ultimate bully is the U.S. government, using us as mere pawns to advance their own interests at the expense of our country and the region as a whole.
The Xinhua editorial also calls for the recognition the United Nations as an authority for global issues, explaining that no country can wage any military action against one another without a U.N. mandate. As detailed in the book “Rogue State” by William Blum, the U.S. along with fellow rogue state Israel, has nullified and overridden hundreds of U.N. resolutions and mandates with its singular vote. As long as the U.S. veto exists, as well as the manipulatory influence of Israel, the votes of hundreds of countries are effectively deemed null and void. The U.S. has also staged wars, especially in the last decade, without a congressional hearing or a U.N. mandate. Thus, it can be deducted that the wars that they’ve waged then and now are illegal.
I’ll add to the suggestion that the United Nations should change its address to a place that is considerably neutral, given that because the U.N. receives it’s funding from the U.S. since it is located there, its decisions are most likely influenced by the U.S.. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has called this “…an example of a relationship the US established with developing countries in the form of subordination.”
Calling on the world to embrace “substantial reforms” in the financial system, such as better representation on major financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, “so that they could better reflect the transformations of the global economic and political landscape,” the editorial also suggested for an introduction of a new international reserve currency that shall replace the U.S. Dollar, that could put the international community permanently away from the “spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States.” In his article for the Asia Times, Pepe Escobar says that China isn’t really advocating for the abolition of the Bretton-Woods system – for now – but it’s for more deciding power, given that they have slightly more weight in the IMF than Italy. He also notes that the move from the U.S. currency is underway, in particular the BRICS coalition. “The US dollar is slowly but surely being replaced by a basket of currencies,” he says.
Towards the end, the editorial says that the purpose of these suggestions “…is not to completely toss the United States aside, which is also impossible,” but simply to have the U.S. play a more constructive role in global affairs. I beg to differ. Throughout its history, the role of the U.S. has been that of a deadly harbinger which brought nothing but destruction and misery to the countries that put its cursed touch into. Unless their system changes, we can’t expect the U.S. to play a “constructive role” even if these reforms took place. Only through the national democratic revolution and international solidarity can we break the vicious cycle of US imperialism. A multipolar world free from US hegemony is possible.
Richard James Mendoza is an Information Technology student at AMA University; the administrator of the Bagong Katipunan blog site; and, a member of the youth organization Anakbayan.
- China calls for ‘de-Americanized’ world (mobile.wnd.com)
- China calls for ‘de-Americanized world,’ says U.S. has dysfunctional government (oldthinkernews.com)
- NWO – China now calling for a “De-Americanized World” (endtimeheadlines.wordpress.com)
- Wall St. elites reason it’s time for a ‘de-Americanized world,’ China’s news agency says (foxnews.com)
- The birth of the ‘de-Americanized’ world (sott.net)
- China Calls for ‘De-Americanized’ World (drudge.com)
- Xinhua’s ‘de-Americanized world’ report worries the US (wantchinatimes.com)
- Wall St. elites reason its time for a de-Americanized world, China news agency says (usahitman.com)
- World should ‘de-Americanize’, says China (marketsanity.com)
- Ted Cruz’s Tea Party Pomposity Precedes Him to Australia (usnews.com)
THE race is on for the next Philippine President.
This early, eyed as potential candidates come 2016 are: Vice President Jejomar Binay (United Nationalist Alliance), Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas (Liberal Party), Sen. Bong Revilla (Lakas-CMD), Sen. Grace Poe (Independent), Sen. Francis Escudero (Independent) Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto (Liberal Party) and businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Of these seven potentials, six have some sort of political lineage in their favor. Binay, the longtime mayor of Makati City has risen to the vice presidency quite spectacularly. Roxas, is the grandson of the late President Manuel Roxas. Escudero, also the scion of a political clan, is a consistent Senate topnotcher. Same with Revilla whose family rules the province of Cavite. Grace Poe, topnotcher in the 2013 Senate race, is daughter of the late movie legend and defeated presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. And Vilma Santos-Recto is the star governor of Batangas province and the wife of Sen. Ralph Recto.
And then there is businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. Without political affiliation and any previous experience in public office (much like a Nancy Binay), political analysts see Pangilinan—or MVP as he is more popularly known—as a certified dark horse for 2016. And with good reason.
While Binay has no qualms about his dream of becoming President, MVP is quick to admit that “no political blood…runs through my veins.” But given his technocratic skills, MVP could probably fare better than the other potential candidates—whose only claim to fame and public office are their family names.
The chairman of PLDT, TV5, Philex Mining and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), MVP has “singlehandedly” built one of the largest business empires in the Philippines. MVP also has the education to back his business skills having graduated cum laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and having earned an MBA degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Synonymous to telecommunications, media, power , water, mining, education, infrastructure, sports etc., MVP—given his reservations of running for public office–seems a very good choice for 2016. All he has to do is ride on a platform that promises lower electricity, telephone and water rates and he is a shoo-in for the Presidency in 2016.
As it is, MVP already has much of the country on his plate. If he runs and wins in 2016—he’ll be President and CEO of Philippines, Inc.
- Manny V. Pangilinan : Miracle Man (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- PLDT, Gokongwei expanding alliance (manilastandardtoday.com)
- The social cancer of Philippine society (rappler.com)
- Nearly 100 Philippine rebels killed or captured (bigstory.ap.org)
- Binay lambasted online for ‘epal’ relief bags (technology.inquirer.net)
- Editorial : MVP for President (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Cavitex investment pays off for MVP group (rappler.com)
- Torrential rains shut down Philippine capital (bigstory.ap.org)
- Saskatchewan Offers 14K jobs for PH Workers (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- FirstPac eyes Cojuangco mill (manilastandardtoday.com)
by Mentong Tiu-Laurel
AFTER almost two years of explosive controversy, the full facts of the Ballsy-Eldon Aquino-Cruz and the US$30-million mystery question surrounding the MRT3 deal may have come to light.
The BS Aquino government and the Czech embassy would like the public to think that a third-ranking level neophyte executive is the brain and mover in the MRT3 P4.5-billion project. The said executive being put on “indefinite leave” (which was rejected) is being made a “fall guy” and the story used to abort the awarding of the MRT3 “capacity expansion” project (additional train coaches) to the lowest bidder in the hopes of keeping the highest bid—the Czech trains—alive.
Instead of being the villain, the “fall guy” is actually the public’s champion. MRT3 General Atty. Manager Al Vitangcol conducted a comprehensive study with the MRT3 Technical Working Group consisting of Engr. Mike Narco, Ms. Natividad Sansolis and Eng. Raphael Lavides, and other professionals. Aquino’s DOTC secretary and LP politico, Emilio Abaya, issued a special order to include two personal factotums: Usec. Julianito Bocayon, a longtime buddy at the Naval Intelligence Group, and Honorito Chaneco an Abaya appointee and Philippine Science High School classmate, apparently to sway the technical committee.
The significance of the technical committee is that after thorough study is recommended government estimate of US$1.89 million/coach against the Czech Inekon’s US$3 million/coach. Vitangcol and the technical men in the Technical Working Group established the best and lowest government estimate for the project. Inekon’s bid for the LRV, light rail vehicle, started at US$3.3-million/coach in early 2012 negotiations.
The Inekon people and the Czech embassy had been working on the MRT3 deal years earlier and it is in this long series of deal-making effort that the “syndication” by the Czechs with the Aquino family is revealed. Among them are: the appointment as Inekon agent of Yorgis Psinakis, nephew of Aquino and Lopez clans’ crony Steve Psinakis; Aquino’s first cousin Jorge Aquino-Lichauco as “handmaiden”; DOTC Usec. Rene Limcaoco, brother of Cory-Gloria-Yellow stalwart Dodi; involvement of LP stalwarts in talks with Inekon and the Czech ambassador.
Jorge Aquino-Lichauco who has denied involvement actually acted as “handmaiden, and Usec. Limcaoco are caught with the “smoking gun” in a memo issued by the latter to Atty. Al Vitangcol, dated 10 April 2013, transmitting the “Sample Terms for LRV (light railway vehicle) Terms of Reference from Jorge Lichauco” who does not have any official role in the DOTC and with any of the parties involved in the MRT3 transactions but carries the weight of Usec. Rene Limcaoco’s official letterhead which “transmit” Lichauco’s “non-official” communication to a DOtC third rank official.
These have been reported by Charlie Manalo of the Tribune, who has been giving a blow-by-blow account of these since mid-2013 in the mentioned publication.
The MRT3 $ 30-million “kickback” story emerged after a radio network broke the news with unattributed sources claiming that Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and Eldon Cruz, sister and brother-in-law of BS Aquino III, were involved in “extortion” of the Czech company for awarding of the MRT3 deal. The Czech Inekon’s chairman and CEO Josef Husek and ambassador Josef Rychtar had been asked repeatedly whom they were really “extorting” but persistently been coy in naming anyone beyond suggestive affidavits about “an informal dinner in a Makati restaurant on July 9, 2012”, and a meeting in Rychtar’s Forbes residence where al Vitangcol was not even present and quoting only a Mr. Wilson de Vera.
Why is Atty. Al Vitangcol being made the “fall guy” in the mainstream media when the Czech company Inekon’s officials, Josef Husek, and ambassador Rychtar have denied any direct accusation against Vitangcol while naming Wilson de Vera? In a Husek affidavit to the NBI on Oct. 5, 2013 is Mr. Wilson de Vera whom he stated, “While talking about the tender, Mr. Wilson de Vera suggested that we would be selected as (the) supplier of the tram vehicles and related services, provided that we (pay) to an unknown entity a certain amount of money. Mr. Wilson de Vera indicated such payment should amount to USD 30 million.”
Mr. Wilson de Vera is an LP stalwart in Pangasinan and a close friend of Eldon Cruz and Aquino aunt Tessie Oreta. Mr. Wilson de Vera is also a director of the MRT3 maintenance contractor PH Trams, which won the MRT3 maintenance contract over Sumitomo Corporation, evidence of the company’s clout with the new administration. Also in PH trams are Manolo Manalit who is also with the Metro Rail Transit Corp. (Pangilinan’s controlling shares MRT3) and Marlo dela Cruz who is reportedly the Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez connection and with the Liberal Party. PH Trams maintenance contract has been taken over by Global APT JV (Joint Venture) where Marlo dela Cruz also is.
The Liberal Party imprint on the operations of the MRT3 and the DOTC today is all-embracing, from the secretary down the organization and into its subcontractors. Central to the MRT3 extort scandal is the Ballsy Aquino-Eldon Cruz trip to the Prague and, allegedly, to the HQ of Czech company, Inekon. Jorge Lichauco was earlier speculated as the couple’s tourist guide to the country but later it is revealed that Yorgis Psinakis, Inekon agent, did the honors. The Czech ambassador eventually retracted and exonerated the Aquino couple from the “extort” allegations, but questions linger.
The Aquino-Cruz couple claim they were in Prague to pray at the famous shrine but given Inekon’s official agent making arrangements, and Inekon’s years of “syndication” with Aquino relations and Aquino controlled LP political cohorts, the exoneration and the diversion to a “fall guy” smacks of a cover up.
The lowest winning bid from Dalian Locomotive for the MRT3 capacity expansion project at $ 1.8-million and under the US$1.89-milliion government estimate is now under evaluation. The public’s concern is that the controversy is being stoked to whip up a cloud cover and scuttle the awarding, meanwhile keeping alive the deal seemingly “railroaded” since 2012, which has been working behind the Aquino and Liberal Party cover. Thus the vehemence with which the Czechs have tried to whip up controversy and create diversionary tactics is understandable, such as the “corrupt” fall guy ploy while the Liberal Party operators are allowed to go under the radar.
Does this explain the “bouncing Czech”?
If US$30 million or some amount had not exchange hands, would such vehemence be commensurate?
(Tune to 1098AM, 5 to 6pm, Tues. to Fri.; Destiny Cable, GNN Channel 8 and www.gnntv-asia.com, Sat. 8pm and Sun 8am; visit: http//www.newkatipunero.blogspot.com; text comments to 09234095739)
- Presidential sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz: Cleared (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- New turn in Philippine corruption case (praguepost.com)
- Prague, Czech Republic (ourtraveladventure.wordpress.com)
- Bc-autoslug (bigstory.ap.org)
- New Bohol Airport Has Final Masterplan (airlinenewsphilippines.wordpress.com)
- Aquino votes in barangay polls in Tarlac (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Sidelines (1rgcruz.wordpress.com)
- Amid corruption worry, Aquino to reform govt fund (bigstory.ap.org)
- A Worm’s-Eye View of the Current State of the Philippines (grbusinessonline.wordpress.com)
- $30 Million MRT Extort Reveals the Evils of RP’s Protectionism and Corporatism (vincenton.wordpress.com)
by Al Labita
HE has long shunned politics.
But like a ghost, his name haunts the political landscape now abuzz with rumors in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
From obscurity, Manuel V. Pangilinan, aka MVP, suddenly shot to prominence, being bruited about as a potential “dark horse” in the next presidential race. What props up MVP’s stock is his technocratic skill that transformed the once struggling Hong Kong-based First Pacific Company Ltd. into one of Asia’s profitable corporate titans. He may not have any political affiliation, but he has the money. The self-made billionaire sportsman has made it to the elite list of US-based Forbes Magazine as one of the Philippines’ richest men, joining the ranks of taipans Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and the Ayalas. He was listed as the Philippines’ 50th wealthiest with an estimated net worth of P4.5 billion as of July 2013.
Undoubtedly, MVP boasts impeccable credentials. As the top honcho of First Pacific, he steered its phenomenal growth over the past decades. From selling Indonesian noodles, the company diversified into banking, finance and property, mainly in Hong Kong and Jakarta, the headquarters of parent Salim Group. In mid ‘90s, MVP saw an opportunity to return to his country where he learned the ropes of the trade, so to speak, as an investment banker.
At the time, the telecom industry was liberalized, enabling him and his group to launch a bid to take over the then financially ailing Philippines Long Distance Telephone (PLDT). With PLDT as flagship, there was no stopping him from venturing into other profit centers — ranging from power to mining, toll roads, media, water and related utilities – all under a listed holding firm, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) chaired by MVP.
Today, the Philippines accounts for 70 percent of First Pacific’s offshore forays, a sign of his abiding faith and confidence in his country’s business potentials.
The Miracle Man
MVP has earned the trust of the very rich, with track record in making sure stakeholders in companies he runs get back their money’s worth. That kind of character is what the Philippines needs now. One who takes care of the trust given him by stockholders. One who has not and will not betray his bosses, the investors.
Our publication, OpinYon, is of the thought that the Philippines if run like a corporation could get out from the economic hole it is drowning in and bring real prosperity to this country. And who could run giant companies and turn around losses better than the proven miracle man himself – MVP.
Given the chance to run the Philippines like those giant companies he has turned around to make profits, MVP could serve his “bosses”, the Filipinos, like he is serving those who trust him with their money.
Given a change of heart in the people towards trapos, MVP has better than fair chance of earning the trust of the people and win the election for President.
After Pres. Benigno S. Aquino has been stripped of his mask and now earning public ridicule, most Filipinos are asking: who should lead this country?
MVP has the campaign infrastructure to win in a political contest. He has good grip of respected media in, print and broadcast. His business interests are almost everywhere in communications and utilities. He has an army of loyal workers, satisfied in their pay like at PLDT, Meralco and other MVP firms which are among blue chips traded on the Philippine bourse and are the usual top picks by both foreign and local investors.
Credit also goes to MVP for laying the foundation – in terms of infrastructure –of what is now known as “Global City,” a former Army Camp, in Taguig City after winning its public bidding. Amid public outrage over the “pork barrel” scandal, the tycoon appears to be a logical choice as an alternative to dyed-in-the-wool trapos in a rapidly shifting political milieu.
Should he throw his hat in the political arena, it’s likely the media outfits – TV 5, Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star and the Business World – under his corporate umbrella would come in handy in a political campaign.
But in his media comments, MVP has thumbed down any ambition to seek a public office.
‘There is no political blood that runs through my veins. I believe I can serve our people better some other way.”
He reacted to rumors that, on the prodding of friends and business associates, he would seek an elective position in the 2016 elections. Pundits believe he would make a great president, given his “technocratic skills.” At a recent forum on the 2016 presidential elections, organized by the Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management Inc., political analyst Antonio Gatmaitan said Pangilinan “could bring his technocratic skills to address the complicated economic issues that will confront the nation and help address a few selective social issues.”
Gatmaitan knows whereof he speaks as he is the executive director of the Political Economic Applied Research Foundation. In case Pangilinan decides to run for the country’s top post in May 2016, Gatmaitan said: “Imagine the excitement it can create.” Ramon Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said it is clear that Pangilinan has a political agenda in buying stakes in a diversified mix of financially distressed companies and turning them around as money spinners. He also believes Pangilinan would be the dark horse candidate in the 2016 presidential elections. “I agree there is a dark horse. And that’s MVP,” Casiple said.
Apolitical he may be, MVP’s thoughts – often expressed in media interviews – betray what could be his hidden political agenda. In not a few instances that he articulated his own vision for the country favoring investments in such critical businesses as tourism, mining, utilities and information and communications technology.
To him, investments in infrastructure such as power plants, toll roads, seaports and airports are vital to lower the cost of domestic production – ideas that would serve as dividends or profit-sharing with Filipinos should the government turn corporate-oriented and business-like under the banner of what would become the Philippines, Inc and with him as a prospective CEO.
Pangilinan believed that the country’s leaders should be more involved in coming up with long-term solutions and move beyond short-term crisis management if they aspire for the country to grow and move forward.
On election, his view is that it should provide a rare opportunity to define the country’s long-term economic and social priorities, and form a broad consensus around them.
He noted that the private sector should take the lead in mobilizing and directing infrastructure spending, adding the government’s assistance is needed as well.
“The private sector cannot operate on its own. It must seek government help and assistance. In infrastructure, public-private-sector partnership will be critical—the private sector being the moving force and the government providing the relevant incentives, support and enabling regulatory framework.” In more ways than one, MVP is also a philanthropist through his Kapatid Foundation.
In Bacolod city, the City Council approved a resolution declaring MVP an adopted son, noting that his life’s success story is an inspiration that is worth emulating by all Filipinos.
During his years in Hong Kong, he founded and chaired the Bayanihan Center that provided cultural and vocational activities for Filipino domestic workers there. In December 2012, he mobilized his telecommunication companies in a national telethon that raised millions of pesos to aid the victims of typhoon Pablo.
“This simple and hearty resolution is a manifestation that the city government of Bacolod truly recognizes the services and contributions of Pangilinan in the different sectors or our community,” the resolution reads.
Talk about MVP running for president is not new. In 2010, media placements launching the “Ako Mismo” advocacy movement fueled speculations that he was keen in the country’s plum post. Public perception then was that the movement was meant to be MVP’s platform had he decided to throw his hat in the political arena.
“If given the chance and if there is a possibility of winning, MVP will run for president,” a businessman said.
But, in a statement, MVP clarified that the movement was intended to awaken and spread the Filipinos’ sense of responsibility as an individual. “Our legacy is that reliance on community, government and family must be balanced by strong personal accountability,” he says.
“As for myself, I am not running for any political office. I am truly at home running a business,” a statement viewed with skepticism by doubting Thomases among eagle-eyed political watchers.
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