government

CHRONOLOGY OF THE RIFT: Pacquito Ochoa VS. Mar Roxas

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November 28, 2009 – Benigno Aquino III and Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II file for candidacy as President and Vice President.

marochoa

June 30, 2010 – Atty. Pacquito Ochoa Jr., handler of Aquino’s legal affairs since his run for Congress in 1998, is chosen to be Aquino’s Presidential Executive Secretary. Atty. Ochoa’s father (former mayor of Pulilan, Bulacan) is a longtime close friend of Aquino. Ochoa is a partner in the Marcos-Ochoa-Serapio-Tan law firm (MOST), with Atty. Liza Araneta-Marcos, wife of Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and cousin of Jose Miguel ‘Mike’ Araneta Arroyo, former presidential husband.

May 10, 2011 – May 13, 2011 – Political analysts and veteran government officials Ernesto Maceda (ex-Marcos executive secretary and former senator) and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda (ex-Arroyo chief of staff) predicted in an interview with ABS-CBN that a clash between the Ochoa and Roxas camps are inevitable. Maceda previously stated similar concerns in his Philppine Star column.

June 29, 2011 – In an interview with Newsbreak, Ochoa denies influencing Aquino in his appointment of Roxas as incoming DOTC chief rather than as supposed Chief Of Staff, as insinuated by Aquino in past press interviews.

June 30, 2011 – Despite public expectations that Mar Roxas will be appointed as Aquino’s Chief Of Staff, Roxas accepts Aquino’s offer to take on the then-recently vacated position of Secretary of Transportation and Communications, right after former DOTC head Ping De Jesus resigned.

August 31, 2012 – Aquino appoints Roxas as new DILG chief, and Cavite Rep. Joseph ‘Jun’ Abaya as new DOTC head.

September 3, 2012 – DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Ochoa gave contradicting statements to the public on DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno’s exit. Roxas claimed that the President is giving Puno a different assignment, while Ochoa insisted that no such decision has been made by the President yet.

August 25, 2013 – Malacañang dismisses Brian Raymund Yamsuan, consultant to Ochoa, after being mentioned as the one who brokered the meeting between Napoles and the editors of Philippine Daily Inquirer.

September 10, 2013 – Ochoa denies link to Janet Lim-Napoles. His law firm MOST used to represent Napoles, as indicated by NBI affidavits with the MOST imprint in them.

November 4, 2013 – Palace denies rumors about infighting within the Aquino administration’s ranks. Mar Roxas and Pacquito Ochoa appear together in public, beside each other, during an awarding ceremony for the soldiers in the Zambo siege.

Nov. 6, 2013 – According to Francisco Tatad’s column in Manila Standard, “Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa was quoted in this paper as saying it was Roxas who had pushed Aquino to make that widely derided ‘I am no thief’ speech on television, which has now become the latest national calamity under the Aquino administration.”

-Compiled by Eric Fabian

SNAKE PIT

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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.

(photo source: nydailynews.com)
(photo source: nydailynews.com)

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.

Dirty Tricks

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.

(photo source: http://www.capizdateline.com)
(photo source: http://www.capizdateline.com)

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.

Battle Royale

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.

People’s Uprising

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By Richard James Mendoza

JUST a few weeks ago, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno introduced the idea of crafting a law abolishing all kinds of pork barrel by means of a people’s initiative through Republic Act 6735, also known as theInitiative and Referendum Law. Multiple sectors have expressed their support for the people’s initiative; among those who have thrown in their support are the Catholic Church through the CBCP, as well as the transport sector and various militant groups—with the latter two planning to hold gatherings to gain signatures to help meet the required number of signatories.

(photo credit: http://www.theosophy.ph)
(photo credit: http://www.theosophy.ph)

Malacanang on their part wasn’t too receptive of the idea, with Sec. Coloma saying that the people’s initiative “presupposes that the Legislative and the Executive branches of government are unwilling to enact and implement laws that will prevent the misuse of public funds.” Well thank you very much, Captain Obvious (or should I say Captain Oblivious?)! It should have been apparent by now that under the present administration, the Executive and Legislative branches of thegovernment are unwilling to enact and implement the laws preventing the misuse of public funds, whatever they may be.

No amount of deception created by your multi-headed Communications Office can cover the fact that a culture of impunity is being maintained by those in power. These people know that under such conditions they can get either get away with their crimes scot-free, or receive a mere slap in the wrist should they get their hands caught in the proverbial cookie jar.

Personally, I’m skeptical about the outcome of this people’s initiative. After the Oct. 4 rally in Ayala, all of a sudden CJ Puno shows up with this idea. Though CJ Puno’s people initiative is a welcome move that warrants its support, it should be taken with a grain of salt for the possibility of the move being hijacked (or even supported) by outside forces is very much real and shouldn’t be easily ignored. And no, it’s not going to be the ND Left like what the Million People March organizers have always insinuated with their statements.
I’m talking about the US imperialists of course, with the CIA along with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as well as their related surveillance fronts like the US Aid, The Asia Foundation, etc., in coordination with the Yellows in power.

Besides, the proposed people’s initiative is merely reformist in nature; it seeks to change the present circumstances within the framework of the corrupt system. Yet, it is interesting to note thatthe people’s initiative was described by CJ Puno as “…the last peaceful alternative for the people to take charge of their destiny” and that “no other option would be left” should this option fail. Doesthis call for a more radical undertaking?
After the past several months of public outrage against the pork barrel system that manifested an underlying problem in the present political system of the Philippines; from the so-called “MillionPeople March” and the humorous failure of “EDSA TAYO!,” to the #ScrapPork network consisting of various anti-corruption coalitions and groups that were formed in the midst of the outrage against pork,now comes the next step of the plan.

Though there are a few exceptions, I don’t think that the people are falling for the lies of the Aquino regime. As of press time, the President had just finishedhis little defense of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) on live TV, insisting that it’s not pork barrel and that it’s the fault of the opposition, the progressive Left, and of course his favoritescapegoat Gloria Arroyo.Based on personal experience, the power of collective action to bring concrete results is uncontested. It’s time to raise the level of discussion in order to arouse the people about the issues that faceour country, organize them into units, and then mobilize under a united front.

It’s now time to push for a more direct and perhaps radical solution. Because until the ruling classes continue to thriveon the exploitation of the oppressed masses, they won’t even bother to listen to our demands let alone take action for this issue. When our backs are pushed against the wall, what else can be done? Do we just ask the oppressor to stop?Reflecting the call of Anakbayan, let us work towards a people’s uprising to abolish ALL kinds of pork and to advance genuine social change through the national democratic revolution.

Punish the plunderers and the corrupt that benefitted from exploiting the masses composed of the Yellows and their ilk, the large bourgeois-compradors and landlords, the bureaucrat-capitalists; in other words, those whoare at the top of the social triangle. Let’s reverse the triangle upside-down and place those at the bottom of the triangle, the workers and the farmers, on top and lead a new country free from the threeills that currently plague our country.  Only then will we have achieved our victory.

Australia-PH Launch NCR ‘Risk Maps’

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“NO city and municipality is safe from natural hazards and disasters. However, not all hazards have to lead to disaster.”

This was the  overarching message during the “Launch and Handover of Multi-hazard and Risk Maps for the Greater Metro Manila Area” held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City as the Australian and the Philippine Governments recognize the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

 

(image credit - http://australasianinlandmissions.com/)
(image credit – http://australasianinlandmissions.com)

Handed over to Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) officials during the launch were hazard and risk assessment maps which are expected to aid local government units in enhancing their local disaster risk reduction management (LDRRM) plans.

An average of 87 maps for each of the 24 local government units (LGUs) in GMMA were handed over.  Also handed over was the exposure database containing physical information, population and socio-economic characteristics of communities.  These are vital information in determining people, assets, and activities that will likely be affected when a disaster strikes.  The maps and exposure database may also be used as a resource in preparing improved land use and contingency plans and targeted investment programs.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director, Undersecretary Eduardo Del Rosario said, “The local government units and the local chief executives must know the hazards and risks in their respective communities. Records have shown and past experiences have proven—from Ondoy, Pepeng, Habagat, Maring, and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol last Tuesday—that disasters can strike anywhere.  Measures must be taken to reduce vulnerabilities and to minimize threats,” he said. “We may not be able to prevent disasters, but we can empower ourselves to prevent lost lives and further deplete our economic resources.”

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said, “The increasing scale and frequency of natural disasters are costing the country millions every year, and studies have shown that due to changing climate patterns and the rapid urbanization in GMMA, it can get even worse.”

“Natural hazards, however, do not have to lead to disasters especially if we are able to carefully assess the risk of an area and properly plan for the long-term. But we can only do that if we have the data. The Australian Government is pleased to have worked closely with the Philippine Government in producing these maps which can now help us prepare for such scenarios.”

The maps and the accompanying data are results of the ‘Risk Analysis Project’, a three-year collaboration of the Australian Government aid program with Geoscience Australia, the Philippines’ Office of Civil Defense, and the agencies under the Collective Strengthening of Community Awareness of Natural Disasters (CSCAND), which include the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, Philippine  Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, and the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology.
Apart from the maps however, the proponents of the project also emphasized the need for cooperation and collective action to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of urban communities. In 2012 alone, the Philippines had the most disaster-related deaths in the world with over 2,300 lives lost. All members of the community, from the government to the residents, thus have the responsibility to take part in disaster risk reduction. We must all be proactive in helping reduce the risk of our community,” said Usec Del Rosario.

Scientists Working on ‘Flood-Tolerant’ Rice

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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.

 

(photo credit: http://www.seedquest.com)
(photo credit: http://www.seedquest.com)

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.

Editorial : Not So Perfect Alibi?

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DIFFERENT speculations  came out as to why US President Barack Obama did not attend the important summits together with his Asian tour particularly in the ASEAN nations. Some pundits believe that the so-called partial US government shutdown was not the real reason.  And the situation became more suspicious when even US Secretary of State John Kerry also cancelled his visit to the Philippines ‘due to bad weather’ (kuno). The mere fact that this visit of President Obama and Sec. Kerry to the region, is very crucial to US pivot to Asia, particularly to its allies, one will wonder—did the sudden change of travel plans of both Obama and Kerry have something to do with China? Is the Chinese pressure so strong that such important plans had to be cancelled?

 

Photo credit: http://www.washingtonpost.com. Used under Creative Commons)
Photo credit: http://www.washingtonpost.com. Used under Creative Commons)

Just asking because both alibis seemed quite shallow.As what Manong Ernie Maceda said in his column in the Philippine Star last week– the cancellation of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Manila because of storm Santi shows the low priority that the Philippines has with US officials. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was open. No flights were cancelled. The storm was coming in from Catanduanes, while the flight path from Brunei is through Mindanao.

Kerry’s visit was supposed to substitute for President Obama’s state visit. It should have gone through at all costs. Yes, at all costs, that is why the excuse he gave was not valid at all.We also have to consider the statement of President BS Aquino at the APEC about the Philippines-US Framework Agreement on Increased Rotational Presence. PNoy said the United States should be clear with the words they use concerning the said agreement.

“During negotiations, we always get entangled with all the semantics. Those words that are actually used to convey the thoughts.”He said that the words to be used in the agreement on increased rotational presence should “satisfy both parties needs and wants; and satisfy all or addresses all concerns and anxieties.”“Their language is geared to support the request for budget when they go to Congress,” the President pointed out. “Their language might be perfect in an American manner of speaking English but might be construed differently through a Filipino.” (Source: Aquino presses careful crafting of US rotational presence deal by Roy Mabasa mb.com 10.9.13)

If PNoy felt this urgency to discuss this executive agreement that entails another pact that will make the country beholden to a perceived master in the offing, it is very clear that our relationship with Uncle Sam is one way. So Manong Ernie is right, we are being given low priority by these US officials.

This is the sad reality I have been saying for so many times now, these so-called agreements and treaties we entered into with Uncle Sam are always for the benefit of their country than ours and in the process we are always shortchanged. When are we going to learn to assert our rights as a sovereign nation?

This is not a simple matter that we can just to ignore and let Washington craft the agreement to their own liking. This is about national security, and most of all, our sovereignty (what was left of it) is at stake here.

In the four rounds of talks that transpired regarding the access agreement, there are “gaps” in the “critical provisions” that need “more work,” according to Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, who heads the Philippine panel.
The military-to-military agreement is expected to boost the defense capability of the AFP amid growing territorial threats, increase the training of its troops, and improve disaster response.

Batino said they have narrowed down the framework agreement to 5 key provisions namely: scope, agreed installations/AFP Facilities, prepositioning of defense equipment, supplies, and materiel, ownership and security. (Source: Bases access: PH, US disagree on ‘critical provisions’ by Carmela Fonbuena, rappler.com)Now that the chance for our President and other government officials to tackle the crucial decisions covering the new access agreement was postponed (until who knows when), methinks that this pact is already a done deal on Washington’s side for their Congress to release the budget, and will left us (again) to just accept it with open legs, as usual. So, what else is new?And don’t forget  (as Reuters reported last October 3), also on the cards is the development of Oyster Bay, which lies about 550 km (340 miles) southwest of Manila.”It will be a mini-Subic,” Commodore Joseph Rostum O. Peña, the commander  of the Philippines’ western navy, said in the first public comments about converting Oyster Bay into a major naval base.

“A future port here would extend the reach of the navy’s two frigates, both former U.S. Coast Guard cutters, over the disputed Spratly Islands, in the southern part of the South China Sea.” he said in an interview from his office overlooking the mouth of the bay.

Oyster Bay is about 160 km (100 miles) from the Spratlys.

“In Manila, the leaders must move behind rhetorical blandishments about a new spirit of partnership and start to detail specific actions that will strengthen Philippine defense capabilities,” said Patrick Cronin, an Asia-Pacific security expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington DC.

That includes building a permanent home for the Philippines’ two big warships. It also means finding strategic areas where the United States could rotate troops, ships and naval aircraft — all within easy reach of territory claimed by Beijing. Oyster Bay may be the best choice,” said Cronin.

After reading this, the access agreement is already a done deal, to hell with the other critical provisions that we wanted to further discuss with Washington.

Need we say more?

MRT3 and  Aquino’s ‘Bouncing Czech’

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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.

 

(Photo source: http://www.urbanrail.net/)

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?

***
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