by Ronald Roy
ON the eve of last All Saints Day, Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino lll delivered a hurriedly crafted twelve-minute damage-control speech that instead created greater damage to his plummeting popularity ratings triggered by his boners in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) imbroglio. I cannot fathom why, for the life of me, so much dissension has been generated by a prime-time discourse defending the administration’s indefensible DAP position.
DAP is unconstitutional, period; and no amount of sophistry from the finest of student councils can validate or rectify it — sophistry is the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving –notwithstanding the supposed best of intentions behind its cryptic creation, along with their trumpeted beneficial results, if any.
DAP is unconstitutional because P-Noy, his fair-haired boy, Department of Budget and Mismanagement Secretary Butch Abad, and other sycophants unilaterally (i.e., without the required legislative participation) invented it, and there is absolutely no excuse for this culpable breach of the fundamental law.
A Machiavellian Offense
Wrong is wrong. For instance, a thief cannot be allowed to say, “You cannot sue me because I am not guilty of anything! I stole, yes, but I delivered the goodies to our pitifully impoverished countrymen. In fact, I did not in any material way benefit from my altruism.” Sadly, however, he is still criminally liable because Machiavellianism is anathema to our legal system that operates under the Rule of Law.
Needless to say, it is very devastating that the Machiavellian offender in the instant DAP case is no less than Pres. Noynoy himself. Now, is this not a very negative image that he has managed to portray of himself under the circumstances?!
I felt sorry for him as he addressed the nation either with such ignorance of the law or with outright defiance of it. I felt sorrier for myself, feeling like a hapless citizen held hostage by a madman gone berserk on survival mode. Wow, I mulled, this guy’s gonna be around for another two and a half years!
P-Noy’s delivery was expectedly fluid and rhetorical; a speech trait generally associated with the Aquino clan. No other Filipino president could have delivered the same piece with as much persuasiveness and elan.
This was, again, his big moment before the cameras, except that, this time, the more knowledgeable of his listeners and viewers could detect the deception, along with subtle reminders that the power that he had wielded to crush the impeached CJ Renato C. Corona could again be unleashed to silence his critics on the DAP fiasco. He irritatingly chose the issues, rattling off A B C D E F etc. while we wanted to hear him go through 1 2 3 4 5 6 etc. For instance, he intoned: “I am not a thief!” even if nobody was calling him one.
The Undelivered Message
What then would I have wanted to see and hear from P-Noy? Well, this: an angry and contrite President saying that he was sorry for all the pork barrel and DAP mess his administration had caused, that he had fired Abad, Agriculture Secretary Alcala, the notorious Ronald Llamas who has been widely rumored to be in constant touch with SC Associate Justices, and other lackeys. P-Noy seems to have forgotten that consigning Undersecretary Rico Puno to oblivion helped prop up his then sagging presidential image.
I also would have wanted to hear P-Noy say he was giving up his pork barrel in favor of line departments. Wow, if he had done all these, he probably would have primed himself up to becoming the greatest president our country has ever had!!
No, it would not be in P-Noy’s character to step down. He will hang in there until hell freezes over. Ever since he took “Cojuangco” out of his name, he has remained determined to be his own man, a president who gets what he wants and intends to leave behind a legacy all his own. You get 95 million citizens demanding his ouster, and he still will not budge an inch. P-Noy is just irreversibly bent on being his own man even if it means tempting Fate by doing so.
BANG is the awesome resonance caused by an assassin’s fury, and how well P-Noy the gun enthusiast knows it. Of course he should be aware his adamance could take him to an inglorious tarmac-like cul de sac, but he is pathetically too busy being his own man to sense any danger. Then again, perhaps he has deluded himself into thinking he has the sort of courage that is the stuff of martyrdom. Could he be crazy? Hmmm…Yes, maybe.
Politics, Politics, Politics
In any event, I hear its business as usual back at the Palace. Strengthening of the Liberal Party is up in the air. Sen. Ralph Recto has loomed as the strongest choice to replace the embattled Senate President Franklin Drilon, whose latest embarrassment is his being found out to be the chairman of a foundation organized for the mother of Janet Lim Napoles.
Incidentally, P-Noy has reportedly cautioned Drilon and former Sen. Ed Angara against indiscreet contacts with officials of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit. Also, being eyed this early is a probable Mar Roxas – Kris Aquino tandem for the 2016 elections. Repeat: this early. Ho-hum.
But it’s all up to P-Noy, really. I would not be surprised if he would choose to extend his term and his confreres gave way. Fools, these traditional politicians!
(http://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com. | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy)
- Aquino’s half-baked legal defense (opinion.inquirer.net)
- The President’s speech (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Trouble at the top (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Give P’Noy the benefit of the doubt (leytesamardaily.net)
- Revilla, Estrada chime: ‘We too are not thieves’ (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Aquino may be going out on a limb over pork issue, say critics (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- P-Noy’s brother-in-law volunteers in relief drive (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Netizens jeer, cheer Aquino (technology.inquirer.net)
- Opposition sees Aquino speech to nation as damage control (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Fall and rise (opinion.inquirer.net)
War in the Palace
IS THERE trouble brewing in Malacañang? With two camps running the Palace—the so-called Balay and Samar groups headed by Sec. Mar Roxas and Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa, respectively—the answer is a resounding YES.
It’s an odd marriage forged in 2010 during the election campaigns, a partnership that was immediately strained with the loss of Mar Roxas to Jejomar Binay in the race for Vice President. From then on the two camps barely managed to co-exist, engaging in minor scrapes and arguments every now and then on the handling of issues of national import. But that was before the PDAF scandal got out of the bag which put the whole administration in its biggest quandary.
The fragile relationship between the two camps have reportedly reached critical mass anew with President Aquino’s “I am no thief” speech, which aired on primetime television recently. Apparently, the idea of giving the speech was a unilateral decision made by the Roxas camp—a call made by the Liberal Party. This means Ochoa and company were against the speech which put PNoy on a defensive stance on the PDAF issue.
In hindsight, PNoy’s speech appeared to have had very little positive impact on the public perception that PNoy and company are equally liable in the PDAF scandal. If the intention was to disconnect PNoy from the PDAF fiasco and reinforce his “matuwid” image, the speech backfired. “Why deny involvement in the PDAF scam if you are not involved in it the first place?” Ochoa’s camp must have argued.
As it is, the PDAF scandal will involve lawmakers in both the opposition and administration camps. The present ploy of limiting the scandal to a handful of lawmakers is simply a means to buy the PNoy administration some time to figure a way out of the fiasco.
If there is a way out.
With the Senate Blue Ribbon failing to get a piece of testimony from Janet Lim-Napoles, it is clear that the PDAF scandal will be a long-drawn drama. It will take years before charges are filed against the guilty parties and even longer before the guilty are brought behind bars. PNoy and company do not care if the whole investigation process takes forever. Right now, they just need to survive until 2016.
- CHRONOLOGY OF THE RIFT: Pacquito Ochoa VS. Mar Roxas (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Trouble at the top (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Palace urged to adopt ‘orphaned’ pork scholars (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- PDAF defeat prompts Aquino to fly back to Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- LP eyes new budget scheme vice PDAF (manilastandardtoday.com)
- President to discuss pork issue Wednesday night (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Why I Voted No to the Pork-laden 2014 Budget (mindanews.com)
- Philhealth, BSP got P29-b of PNoy’s special ‘pork’ (manilastandardtoday.com)
- What Is PNoy Up To? (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Snake Pit (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
MRT3 and Aquino’s ‘Bouncing Czech’
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)