Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Bank responds

by Lito Banayo

Last Friday, March 19, we wrote about “The curious case of our legal tender”, which asked why the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has been importing in increasingly large quantities, hundreds of millions of our banknotes, despite the fact that we have a huge security printing facility built as early as 1976 by Ferdinand E. Marcos. The then state-of -the-art machines have been in use since then, but because the volume of our demand for banknotes has increased on account of our booming population, on top of the fact that the humid and hot climate in this country renders our banknotes soiled much too easily, the by now 33 year-old machines need replacement.

After the Arrovo banknotes fracas, where Dona Gloria’s “illustrious” surname was misspelled by a foreign printer, the Bank initiated studies which would set the terms and specifications for the purchase of new printing equipment, considering that the machinery purchased in 1976 had long and well-served its fully depreciated purpose. An invitation to bid was issued on October 2009, but quietly withdrawn two months thereafter. Meanwhile, last February, the BSP announced that they would demonetize the current peso bills, and re-design the same, with new issues to be released to the public on November 2010. The BSP likewise stated in a news report that 702 million banknotes would be initially issued.

In welcome quick fashion, the Bank, writing through the Director for Corporate Affairs, Ms. Fe de la Cruz, responded and said:

“It is not true that the BSP is retiring all peso bills by November this year.” (I never said demonetizing the banknotes mean instant retirement of all peso bills. I fully understand that demonetization requires a phasing-out process). “While the BSP plans to start issuing new banknote designs with upgraded security features by December, the present banknotes…will remain legal tender for at least three more years”, the BSP states. Fine.

“And because it is true that it is more economical for us to print our money than to outsource it, the BSP is investing in new printing and minting equipment. BSP’s bidding for new printing equipment has not been abandoned but simply deferred…because new information regarding printing technology came in…(we) will proceed with the bidding for new printing equipment as soon as the revisions…are completed to reflect the latest innovations in printing technology. We want to make sure that we will get good value for our investments”.

But of course the Bank ought to husband public money properly. It is after all the fiduciary trustee of the Republic. Which is why it baffles me up to now why the same Bangko Sentral under a different leadership allowed a 1.5 billion peso loan to Capitol Development Bank in April 1998, and later accepted as payment in kind, titles to disputed property the provenance of which originate from the time when Mickey Mouse legal tender was in fashion, and where Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, declared the nullity of land transfers during the Japanese occupation. Now while the Bangko Sentral is not the issuer of Mickey Mouse money, which is what our lolo’s and lola’s called wartime-printed banknotes, surely the Bank should forgive our inquiry into their acceptance from the Villar’s bankrupt bank of Mickey Mouse land titles the date of preceding transfer of which occurred in July 25, 1944? Thus far the BSP has remained silent on our inquiries in this space, which is why we are particularly elated that in the “curious case of our legal tender”, they responded within the same day. Hurrah!

But the Bank reasons that “outsourcing as means to meet demand for currency is an established global practice”, and mentions Singapore, Finland, Brunei, Sweden, Bahrain, Peru, Luxembourg, Kenya, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Qatar, as if to question my claim in that article that the Philippines and Nigeria, “among the world’s populous countries” still outsource their banknotes.

Vamos a ver. Isn’t this a case of comparing apples and oranges? Singapore, which is all of 272 square miles, has a population of 4.9 million people. It’s just slightly bigger than our National Capital Region, which has about two and a half times more people, at 12 million souls! Huge Finland has 5.3 million; Sweden in the same continent, has 9.3 million. Luxembourg has less than half a million inhabitants. Neighboring Brunei is all of 398,000 people. Qatar is 1.5 million strong, and while Kenya with 39 million and Peru with almost 30 million are bigger than these, the Philippines is now all of 93 million peso-using people, and counting. Oil-endowed Nigeria, has its naira, the currency in use of its 154.7 million inhabitants.

In ending her one-page letter, Ms. De la Cruz claims that the Bank is “proud of the security plant complex that is operated by an all-Filipino team…(and) once we get new printing equipment, we shall be able to raise our capacity to match currency demand, with room for growth”.

Indeed, the Bank ought to be proud of the well-trained professionals who man their security plant complex. Which is why those people wonder why in heaven’s name their fully depreciated though reliable 30-year old printing equipment have not yet been replaced, despite an earlier tender invitation. They too would want to see the Philippine peso as counterfeit-proof as the leading currencies of the world’s, with some of the very best in our neighboring Asean countries.

The Bank’s response makes us again curious. Why are they in a rush to redesign our currency? Why is there any compulsion to print newly-designed legal tender to be issued in November or December of this year? It is now March 25, and by noon of June 30, which is less than a hundred days distant, a new president is supposed to take over. And that new president, who will of course sign our currency as its legitimate and duly-constituted head of state, may want to have a say in the design of the currency. For starters, he may want to fully do away with those useless 5, ten and 25 centavo coins which can hardly buy anything. Or he may want to do away with the 20-peso paper note, and replace these with coins, just like our ten pesos. He may want to change the way history is depicted in our banknotes. He may even want to make our currency more feng-shui acceptable, removing the “manunggul” or redesigning the “nakapangalumbaba” and sad face of Ninoy Aquino, considering what a streak of bad luck this benighted land has been having.

Why must the Bank officials take it upon themselves to re-design our legal tender in the last few remaining weeks of the “Arrovo” administration? As much as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants to rule beyond her political grave, she likewise wants to inflict her re-designed and still signed currency upon the next president?

Or are some quick-buck artists just making a last two-minute deal in outsourcing banknotes? Even more curiously, are the same quick-buck artists trying to launder someone’s dirty money? Certainly not Governor Amando Tetangco, whose personal integrity and probity I have yet to find reason to question.

The Bangko Sentral, like the Supreme Court, operates under a virtual shroud of secrecy. What happens in deliberations of the Monetary Board for instance are hardly ever made public, and only hum-drum results are reported, even if their decisions impact greatly upon the economy. Of recent memory, the Central Bank had to be transmogrified into the Bangko Sentral by legislative fiat, the usual recourse policy-makers of the Republic undertake when its financial institutions founder under the weight of wrong policies compounded by questionable operations.

Questionable operations as when the Bank cavils to political pressure, as seems to have been the underlying reason for its having accepted spurious titles in payment for emergency loans given to an already hopelessly insolvent bank owned by an extremely powerful man. And now, another curiously questionable practice of continuing to outsource our currency for years and years on end, while keeping its printing assets at less than optimum production capacity.



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The poor get poorer, Ampatuans get richer as IRA billions pour in « Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

The poor get poorer, Ampatuans get richer as IRA billions pour in « Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

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Ampatuan silencing massacre witnesses: hitman

Source: Al Jazeera

MANILA, Philippines – A man who says he took part in last November’s massacre in Maguindanao province has told Al Jazeera how he now fears he too will be killed as the alleged mastermind of the killings seeks to silence potential witnesses against him.

In an exclusive interview, the man known as “Jesse” told how he had been ordered to kill a witness, and he now fears he will be next after the head of a powerful clan placed a bounty on his life.

“[Datu Unsay] gave the order for me to kill this one guy who could have been a witness against them,” he said.

“I did it. If I didn’t do as told, they would kill me.”

The November 23 massacre in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao was the country’s worst single incident of politically-related violence, leaving at least 57 people dead.

The killings are believed to have been masterminded by a leading member of a powerful local clan, Andal Ampatuan Jr., also known as Datu Unsay, in an attack on the family of a political rival.

More than 20 accompanying journalists and some passers-by were also killed in what investigators say was an attempt by the attackers to cover their tracks.

Ampatuan Jr. is now being held in a Manila jail accused of multiple counts of murder, although his trial was recently suspended indefinitely, pending decisions on motions filed by his lawyers.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Jesse admitted he had taken part in the November killings, but said that as an employee of Ampatuan Jr.’s cousin, he had to either kill or be killed.

And he said the attack was carried out not on Ampatuan Jr’s orders, but on the orders of his father, the clan patriarch and former governor of the province.

“I was there when they met a week prior and talked about the killings,” he said.

“Unsay only does what he is told by Andal Sr… I followed orders too… I fired shots, I don’t know how many I hit … if I hadn’t – well, we know what Unsay is like.”

Now in hiding and using an assumed name, Jesse is awaiting a decision from Philippine authorities on his plea for witness protection in return for his testimony.

In the meantime, he says, Ampatuan Jr. has placed a $45,000 bounty on his head.

Political ties

The Ampatuan clan has fiercely denied any involvement in the massacre.

Ampatuan Sr. has controlled Maguindanao province for most of the past decade and had been grooming his son to take his place as governor in national elections scheduled for May.

The family also had close political ties to Gloria Arroyo, the Philippine president who critics say had allowed the Ampatuans to build up a powerful militia in return for delivering votes.

Marga Ortigas, Al Jazeera’s Manila correspondent, says the investigation into the massacre has been seen as a test not only of the Philippine judiciary but of the strength of the country’s democracy as a whole.

While dozens of other clan members have been charged in relation to the killings, only one man – Ampatuan Jr. – has so far been brought to court.

With his trial now suspended, many Filipinos are skeptical that the perpetrators of the massacre will ever be brought to justice.

Court authorities have rejected accusations of political pressure and say they are doing the best they can.

In any case, Jesse told Al Jazeera, inside or outside of jail, the Ampatuan clan has a long reach.

“Unsay has been telling his men to be patient, that he’ll get out. And when he does, he will punish anyone who turned against them,” he said.

Monday, March 29, 2010

When straight emits the odor of crooked

by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

There is a paid TV ad titled Ituwid natin (Let’s straighten it out) that has been airing on ABS-CBN TV Patrol and Umagang kay ganda (Good Morning). It is hosted by showbiz personality Toni Gonzaga and she is assisted alternately by lawyers Geronimo Sy and Cesar Villanueva.

The paid TV ad is formatted to appear as a public affairs segment, similar to a typical talk show. It is well funded — PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Petron, San Miguel Corporation and the DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) among the listed sponsors. The PCSO and DBP are under the government.

One would think that with the devastation being caused by the El Niño, the funds of the PCSO and the DBP would have been better allocated for the affected farmers. Other than those affected by the El Niño, there are easily 20 other public needs the PCSO and the DBP would do well to address instead.

Ituwid natin purports to promote discussions on the gains and lessons of EDSA I and EDSA II and the roles of the presidents since EDSA I. But that is not how your Chair Wrecker saw it and yours truly is not alone in this observation. Two leading ABS-CBN news and public affairs veterans share the view that Ituwid natin is soft propaganda for massaging the exit image of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

Normally, we would not take issue with that. GMA is entitled to put her best foot forward, especially now that she is stepping down from the highest office in the land. But when GMA’s image repair is accomplished at the expense of the truth — whether it is the failure of omitting the whole truth or of telling a lie — then we must expose and challenge it.

Watching Ituwid natin gives the trained eye the impression that there is another agenda being served other than to repair the image of GMA. That other agenda is to lessen the monumental image of the late beloved president, Cory C. Aquino, the historical titan the whole world hailed as the Icon and Saint of Democracy when she passed away last August 1, 2009.

For instance, the segment where RAM (Reform the Armed Forces Movement) retired colonel Red Kapunan appeared is the best proof of this insidious Cory bashing agenda of Ituwid natin. Neither Gonzaga nor her co-host challenged Kapunan when he stated that the RAM launched their coup attempts against Cory Aquino because of their deep concern that the Communists were gaining ground under her administration.

The truth is Kapunan and his comrades launched their coup attempts because they were out to grab political power. The truth is it was the militarization under the Marcos regime that promoted the growth of the Communist Movement and that it was the democratic space Cory Aquino introduced after EDSA I that divided the Red Sea like Moses did in the Old Testament.

The truth is it was the growth of the Communist Movement owing to the oppression and repression during the Marcos regime which compelled then US President Ronald Reagan to stop supporting Marcos and pushed Marcos to vacate Malacañang Palace. Up to February 22, 1986, Reagan still supported Marcos. Reagan only relented after then US State Secretary George Shultz impressed on him that the Communists will attain stalemate here within two years if Marcos remained as president.

During the Cory years, the Communists were thrown into disarray and fought among themselves because many of their comrades were tired of fighting and were convinced by the sincerity of the new administration and the attraction of the new democratic space. To prevent their comrades from returning to the mainstream, the diehards started their own version of the Killing Fields of Cambodia — slaughtering their own kind.

The Communist political fronts were all dismantled by the political component of the Cory Aquino administration’s anti-insurgency program which was launched by then Local Government Secretary, the late Jimmy N. Ferrer. Ferrer was assassinated in what was made to appear as a job of the Communists but would later on tend to indicate that it was a Right Wing job designed to promote more conflict that will weaken the Cory administration.

Unlike Kapunan, Hector Tarrazona, another RAM member who also helped oust Marcos, did not join the coup attempts against Cory Aquino. During the 1989 coup, Tarrazona was the most senior officer at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City. He stopped the officers and men under his command from joining the coup. The plan then was for the rebel sympathizers in the air base to take off in the trainer planes and to drop explosives on pinpointed targets.

Another RAM member, Rex Robles, is still remembered for sharing his tears before a national television audience when Cory Aquino passed away last August 1, 2009. Those were tears of regret from Rex Robles which enhanced his manhood for having admitted a wrong done to a great president and to the country. In contrast, Kapunan would rather prefer to rewrite history.

It is bad enough that many Filipinos do not know the real history of their country. What makes the situation worse is the constant attempt to rewrite contemporary history just to attain political gain or to simply save face.

Not knowing our real history, we end up embracing our biggest oppressors and rejecting the nationalists who are fighting for the real interests of the Filipino people. Just to show how sick the Filipino national soul is, we have found it acceptable and legal to promote the interests of another country and deemed it criminal for Filipinos to protect their national interests.

As a consequence of our folly, many foreigners have become filthy rich from the natural resources of our country while many of our people remained misinformed, uneducated and impoverished. For not knowing the historical truth, the Filipino has become the biggest impediment of Philippine progress.

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why wait for 2014?

By Tom Martin
Why do Noynoy and his family want to wait until 2014 to do what they should have done in 1986? Cory Aquino promised on January 6, 1986 land reform would take place during her term and the land would be distributed fairly amongst the farmers on the plantations. On January 16, 1986, Cory Aquino delivered a major speech in Davao where she told the people that even Hacienda Luisita which was owned by her family would be turned over to the farmers. She failed to keep her promise and in fact she shrewdly issued a decree while in office leaving the distribution of land up to the Congress knowing the members of Congress would not distribute the land because the majority of the members came from families owning vast amounts of land.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

‘Zombie Voters’ Could Cause Failure of Elections

by Perry Diaz

Recently, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) revealed the discovery of 40,000 voters entered as double, multiple, or dead registrants in Region 11 in Southern Mindanao. In Philippine election jargon, double or multiple registrants are called “flying voters” while dead registrants are called “zombie voters.”

PPCRV’s legal counsel Howard Calleja told the media, “what we discovered in Davao City and Davao del Sur is only the tip of the iceberg.” He said that the 40,000 invalid registrants could “make or break a local election.” However, if such a number also existed in all provinces, the nationwide total of zombie and flying voters could reach three to four million, enough to change the results of the presidential elections.

A few days after the PPCRV exposé, the office of Calleja was broken in. He told the media that what the burglars stole was the list of double, multiple, and dead registrants which has taken the PPCRV volunteers lots of time to compile. “There appears to be a concerted effort from some group to ensure that the Comelec’s final but unpurged voters’ list that is filled with double, multiple and dead voters stays unpurged,” he said.

According to sources close to Calleja, Calleja had been “receiving death threats allegedly from a son-in-law of a high ranking City Hall official in Davao City.” Another source said that the bigger suspects in the break-in are members of the Comelec “cheating syndicate.”

A recent news report stated that Comelec disclosed the discovery of 704,542 voters with double or multiple registration records. However, Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Kontra-Daya watchdog group said that “the voters’ list is padded by no less than five million.” That’s 10% of the total registered voters. Could this be a harbinger to a massive cheating operation in the forthcoming elections on May 10?

“Garci generals”

This brings to mind the “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal during the 2004 elections when wiretapped conversations between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — who was then running for president — and Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano were recorded wherein Arroyo asked Garci about the status of one million votes he was supposed to deliver to her. Garci was then a high Comelec official in Mindanao who reputedly coordinated the manipulation of votes in the region with the help of other Comelec officials who became to be known as the “Garci boys.” After the 2004 elections, the “Garci boys” were promoted to higher positions in Comelec. Except for Garci, almost all of the “Garci boys” are still working in Comelec.

The “Hello Garci” tapes also revealed the alleged participation of several generals in the cheating operations in Mindanao. These generals — known as the “Garci generals” — included Hermogenes Esperon Jr. who was later promoted to Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Indeed, reward comes with “success.”

The recent appointment of Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit as the new Chief of Staff of the AFP has rekindled fear that the military would once again be involved in an attempt to manipulate the outcome of the elections. Bangit’s longstanding subservient association with Arroyo has given rise to the perception that his loyalty to Arroyo was the overriding criterion for his appointment, passing over several senior and more qualified generals.

Bangit served as Arroyo’s senior aide-de-camp when she was Vice President from 1998 until she took over the presidency in 2001. From 2003 to 2006, Bangit served as the commander of Arroyo’s Praetorian guard, the Presidential Security Group (PSG). He concurrently served as Arroyo’s “spy master,” the head of the Intelligence Service of the AFP where he adopted the code name of “Emperor.” Prior to his appointment as Chief of Staff, Bangit commanded the Army, the military’s largest component.

Project Full Moon

Sister Mary John Mananzan — who is co-chair of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) — suspects that the “Emperor” may have been appointed to manipulate the May 10 elections. She mentioned a code name — “Project Full Moon” — for the alleged plot. She said that it involves the hacking of the Automated Election System (AES) which will be used for the first time on May 10. In a text message to the media, she said: “National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez will manage the May election cheating through Bangit and Brigadier General Romeo Prestoza.” Prestoza is Arroyo’s current “spy master” — head of the Intelligence Service of the AFP.

With the May 10 elections less than two months away, there is widespread apprehension that things are not going to proceed smoothly. There are talks of “no election,” “no proclamation,” “failure of elections,” and, now, “Project Full Moon.”

Comelec’s decision to provide the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) with a “watchlist” of multiple registrant voters as a preventive measure against flying voters is being protested by members of Congress. They said that the estimated five million “zombie votes” could cause a “failure of elections.” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez told the media: “There is no such thing as ‘watchlist’ in an election and I don’t understand why the Comelec is insisting on this. Kalokohan yan (That’s nonsense).”

Line of succession

Rodriguez said, “it will be very difficult for Congress to make a decision once the issue on these multiple registrants is raised during the canvassing.” Indeed, an impasse could cause an indefinite delay in proclaiming the winners in the presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial races. And this would lead to a “no proclamation” scenario wherein the line of presidential succession is invoked. Since there would be no President, Vice President, and Senate President after June 30, the next in line would be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. If Arroyo wins her congressional seat — which is expected — and subsequently chosen by her peers in the House to be their Speaker, then she would become acting President.

Needless to say, the military would play a pivotal role during a constitutional crisis. As the “protector of the people and the State,” the military could impose martial law in the event that things would go wrong. In this case, it doesn’t necessarily mean “to protect the people and the State,” but to provide Arroyo with firepower, if necessary, to get what she wants — political power!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Lies, Guns and Boxing

by Ducky Paredes

“The Ghanian fighter, bigger, heavier and with a longer reach than Pacquiao is a boxer who would rather lose than have to actually fight to win his bout.” – Ducky Paredes

There is a need to study which of the tales that our Presidentiables tell us during the campaign are true and which of their promises and grand ideas are workable. Certainly, not everything that they tell us has to be true. In fact, some may even be outright lies; but politicos will tell us what we want to hear and what we expect them to say.

The reason for the need is to protect the ignorant voter – you and me – from himself by preventing him from voting for the wrong person for the wrong things.

Who can best do this? It ought to be done by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) so that we can be sure that what we are reading about the presidentiables is not political propaganda. We need an unbiased look at the presidentialbes and is closer to the truth than anything written by columnists who may be backing specific candidates.

Then, at least, when one still votes for his chosen candidate, he knows exactly who or what and why he is voting for Candidate X.

One candidate retails an improbable life story that is actually attracting a lot of voters to vote for him. Are we in danger of voting again for another Ferdinand Marcos who sold us a fairy tale and won as our President. We eventually found that we had been hoodwinked by someone we accepted as a prince who turned out to be a terrible monster who ate up the dreams of the children of one generation.

* * *

As a senior citizen, I have no real objection to the proposal of the Department of Finance to transfer the issuance of senior citizens cards from local government units to the BIR. This is understandable because these cards affect tax collections and are easily faked since every municipality prints its own cards.

What I object to is the idea that every exemption to any taxes being viewed by the BIR as leakages and/or losses. In the present case where a new law has been projected to amount to P1.68 billion in exemptions, the BIR rightfully argues that fake cards could run up double the amount in lost revenues because they are so easy to fake. That is a reasonable attitude and, for that reason, the DOF’s new IRR (implementing rules sand regulations) ought to prevail.

I actually have a friend who will legally qualify for his senior card only this year who has been enjoying senior privileges for almost a decade.

What is my objection to our finance people calling exemptions losses? If something makes taxpayers happier and allows them to live longer, I believe that this increases their tax-paying years and actually increases over-all tax collections, instead of decreasing them.

* * *

Vice Presidential candidate Edu Manzano has a suggestion for more effective gun control.

“We need more aggressive controls on impounded firearms, including those seized during the five-month election season gun ban, to prevent their recycling back into the crime realm. Immediately after documentation for prosecution evidence, the impounded weapons should be properly allocated to the military, the police or other law enforcement agencies. This way, we prevent their misappropriation,” Manzano said.

Edu takes his clue from the way that seized illegal drugs are handled. He says that all seized firearms should be entrusted to a central depository, in the same manner that all confiscated illegal drugs are deposited with the Dangerous Drugs Board.

“We already have rigid controls on the disposition of seized drugs. We should have similar checks with respect to impounded firearms,” says Manzano..

According to Camp Crame, it has so far accounted for only 683,502 pieces or 62 percent of the estimated 1.1 million loose guns nationwide. That leaves

“With some 416,000 pieces still unaccounted for, this leaves us with at least four loose firearms amid every 1,000 Filipinos,” Manzano said.

The guns accounted for include 59,221 pieces listed in the recently concluded amnesty program. The licenses of another 201,989 pieces were also renewed.

As of March 9, a total of 1,123 firearms as well as 221 grenades and explosives had been seized in connection with the nationwide poll season gun ban from January 10 to June 9.

* * *

The Associated Press story of the fight began with this: “Manny Pacquiao dominated a strangely passive Joshua Clottey from the opening bell.” Strangely passive? No way.

The Ghanian fighter, bigger, heavier and with a longer reach than Pacquiao is a boxer who would rather lose than have to actually fight to win his bout. It was clear to him that if he was to win, he had to fight for it and he just did not have the heart to do so. His handlers, at one time, are heard telling Joshua to begin fighting, that the way he was going, he would lose the fight. But, Clottey was afraid to engage Manny mano a mano.

Instead of actually engaging Pacquiao, he kept his defenses up, covering his face and chin with his massive fists. For a few seconds each round, he would actually throw a few punches; then, his hands would be back again to his chin and face’s defense.

Thus, for round after round, Pacquiao would hit Joshua’s body and his gloves and ears. At one point, Manny actually playfully punched both ears of the Ghanian at the same time in the middle rounds of the 12-rounder. Manny threw ten or more punches for every one of Clottey’s.

Manny Pacquiao is the best boxer of the decade and the best pound-for-pound. If he never gets to fight former best pound-for-pound boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (who has a similar defensive way of fighting as Clottey), it would not be much of a loss to the boxing world. Manny wants the fight; Mayweather makes excuses and imposes silly conditions.

The better fight would be if Shayne Mosley beats Mayweather on May 1 and then agrees to fight our champion. During Mayweather-Mossely, our champion will be in the thick of a bigger fight which is way out of his league and which he would more probably lose — trying to get enough votes for himself to be voted on to become the congressman for Saragani Province.

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hvp 03.15.10)

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

“To Die Like Christ,” a Story that Begs a Different Ending

A Cup O’ Kapeng Barako
by Jesse Jose

Now and then I’d read an opinion column that would stop me dead in my tracks and say: “Wow! That was good. It’s a beaut. I like it.” And this one has a beautiful ending, too, that jolted me out of my seat. First with a chuckle, then with a roaring, hearty laughter.

After my laughter subsided and I became more rational, I thought this story BEGS for a different ending, a much better ending that would give OTHERS a hearty laugh and a good feeling, too.

But first, Dear Readers, here’s the story. Short and sweet and easy to read. It was written by Manuel Buencamino, a political columnist for the Business Mirror, a publication in the Philippines. His column is called, “Life in Gloria’s Enchanted Kingdom.” And he has titled this story, “To Die Like Christ.”

If you have already read it, read it again and enjoy. Because it’s really a classic.

An old priest who lay dying in his hospital bed motioned to his nurse to come near.

“Yes, Father?” asked the nurse.

“I would like to see Manny Villar and Gloria Arroyo before I die,” whispered the priest.

“I’ll see what I can do, Father,” she replied.

Villar phoned Arroyo after he heard from the nurse.

“Did you get the priest’s request?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she replied.

“I don’t know why he wants to see us but my advisers told me I should go, it will be good for my image daw,” he said.

“My people told me the same thing,” she said.

“Then let’s get together,” he proposed.

“That’s a good idea,” she said. “We can milk the visit.”

The priest’s hospital room was packed with reporters and TV crews when they arrived.

The priest beamed when he saw Manny and Gloria. He motioned her to stand by the right side of his bed and Villar on the left. A look of serenity settled on the priest’s face after they took their places.

The cameras were rolling. Everybody was waiting for the priest to say something for the evening news’ sound bite. But he said nothing. All he gave them was a beatific smile.

Villar finally spoke up, “Father, of all the people you could have chosen, why did you choose us to share your last moments with you?”

The dying priest replied, “I have always tried to live my life as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did. Now I want to die like He did.”

Villar bowed his head. Arroyo wiped a tear from her eye.

The priest continued, “Thanks to you both my wish will come true.

“How so?” chimed Villar and Gloria.

“Christ died between two lying thieves.”

Hahahahaha! Don’t mean to be a sacrilegious jerk, folks, but I really think that was sooooooo funny.

Okey ngarud, as we all know, that’s how the tutas and the supporters of Abnoy, sorry, I mean, Noynoy, would like that story to end, right? There’s another ending to that story, which I think, is more apt and believable.

So, there were two “lying thieves” that were also crucified on their crosses and died with Jesus on that mount, “called the Skull.” One on Jesus’ left and the other on his right. I believe their names were Dimas and Gestas. I am not really sure who was on the right side of Jesus and who was on His left.

But of this, I am sure, for I’ve quoted the following passages from the “Gospel According to Luke” in the Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible:

Now one the criminals hanging reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but THIS MAN has done nothing criminal.”

“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Those words are beautiful, too … and TRUE. It’s the Word of the Lord and I believe in His Words.

Now … fast forward to today’s Philippine politics and to this raging war of words and intense race for the skull of the Philippine presidency. And I think the question is: Who would be that “criminal” who jeered at Jesus and who would be that one who sought forgiveness and asked to be remembered when Jesus “come to His Kingdom?”

Two lying thieves. One on the left and one on the right. Who would be Gloria and who would be Manny. I dunno if Gloria reviles Jesus or not. I am not a judge of that. And I dunno either if Villar’s the one who repented his criminal ways. I dunno a lot of things.

But I do know that Manny Villar’s supporters would like to believe that it would be Villar who sought forgiveness for his sins and who had asked Jesus to remember him in His Kingdom … and for doing that, therefore, “entered the kingdom” and won the presidency of the country of Wawa We.

And, that would be the true beautiful ending to that story that Manuel Buencamino wrote, a story that BEGS for a different ending.

Yes, for reasons of my own, I am for Manny Villar. So I say: Go, Manny! Go for the gold. From rags to riches, from the PALENGKE TO THE PRESIDENCY would be a great Filipino story. A story, with a much more beautiful and apt ending than Mr. Buencamino’s fanciful story of a dying priest, with a fanciful wish to die like Christ. JJ

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

“The Philippines are not for sale”

by Lito Banayo

But for a few paragraphs which I deleted here for brevity’s sake, I am reprinting verbatim from a press statement issued by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday, 04 March this year. Every yet undecided voter must get to read Enrile’s statement. My own postscript to this episode follows after.

“I commend Senator Gordon for unmasking the real character of Senator and presidential candidate Manuel B. Villar as a man who thinks he can buy his way to the highest position in the land with his billions of money.

“I understand Senator Gordon has come out to tell the public about the bribe attempt made by Senator Villar through an “emissary” and a “mutual friend.” I confirm that such attempt actually happened and I have no doubt about its veracity because Sen. Gordon told me about it immediately.

“My recollection is that when I filed the report of the Committee of the Whole on the Ethics complaint involving the C5 controversy, having been signed by 11 Senators with myself as the author acting as Chairman, my Chief of Staff relayed to me by phone that another Senator, who Villar was supporting to replace me as Senate President, had approached Sen. Gordon to join the plot to oust me and install a new leadership in the Senate.

“The approach, which came with an offer for a position of Sen. Gordon’s choice under a “Villar Administration” was turned down outright by Sen. Gordon saying “I cannot, in conscience, do such a thing, especially not to Senator Enrile who I regard as a father.”

“On that same day, upon seeing Sen. Gordon arrive at the Senate session, I embraced him and whispered “Thank you, Dick. I know what happened.” At that time, he seemed surprised at my gesture and just hugged me back.

“Several days after, when we were about to take up the report on the floor, I got another report that Sen. Gordon was offered, on top of the first offer for a position if Sen. Villar makes it to the presidency, was likewise offered a huge amount of money to withdraw his signature from my report. I was appalled by this report and felt it was my duty to tell Sen. Gordon that such news was circulating. I called Sen. Gordon and informed him that I will never believe that he will succumb to such a brazen act of bribery.

“Sen. Gordon privately confirmed to me that such offer was indeed made and that he felt furious and insulted by the temerity and gall of Villar to think that he can be intimidated by money, much less lured by an offer for a position of power. He immediately said NO to this offer.

“Later, I learned that it went even beyond that; that Sen. Villar offered “reimbursement for what Sen. Gordon had so far spent for his presidential bid with an added premium just to convince him to withdraw from the presidential race.

“I have known Sen. Gordon from his younger days, and one thing I can say is that this man cannot be bought. Sen. Villar is dead wrong about Sen. Gordon. You do not put a price tag on everyone, especially not Dick Gordon.

“Actually, I knew about the plan to oust me since last December. On the last day of our sessions before the Christmas break, Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano, on orders of his master, Sen. Villar, in no uncertain terms, delivered the threat to my Chief of Staff that if I make a move to gather enough votes in support of my Committee Report, Sen. Villar wants me to know that he will have no other choice but to take the Senate Presidency either for himself or for another Senator of his choice.

“As things developed and the co-perpetrators of the coup plot against me began to show their real colors, I surmised that the “emissary” to Sen. Gordon and Sen. Villar’s nominee could be no other than Senator Edgardo J. Angara…

“This attempt of Villar is similar to the offer made by another “emissary” to former President Estrada, our standard bearer in the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino- “reimbursement in exchange for withdrawal.” President Estrada rightly turned down this indecent proposal. President Estrada’s candidacy is NOT FOR SALE.

“I had earlier revealed that Sen. Villar himself tried to bribe me into not proceeding with the investigation by the Committee of the Whole, offering me “help” for whatever it was I needed. As I said, I replied to him that I can only advice him to participate in the hearings and introduce evidence to counter the charges and evidence against him, and that I am giving him that advice for free, without any consideration. I wish to reiterate to Sen. Villar: I AM NOT FOR SALE.

“If you tie all these things up with Sen. Villar’s unprecedented campaign spending for advertisements, cash give-aways to local officials and supporters, his media budget and sum it all up, then you have a complete picture of the man who is now presenting himself as the “best” alternative for the presidency.

“Sen. Villar is a pretender posturing as a pleasant and decent person and using his poverty during his childhood days to project himself as pro-poor. It is as if having been once poor was equivalent to really having the heart for the poor.

“Villar has to answer what he has done for the poor since he became a multi-billionaire and in his long career as a politician apart from his expensive “give-aways” , helping OFW’s, giving livelihood, building homes for the poor by shelling out money ALL FOR PROPAGANDA.

“Sen. Villar must be asked what he did for the poor that he did not make sure was covered by media so he can use it for his campaign propaganda. He should be asked what social cause he has really championed as a legislator, not an ordinary one, by the way, for he served as no less than Speaker of the House and Senate President.

“He should he asked how he victimized the poor and the taxpayers of this country with his financial schemes in the housing business, and about the collapse of his own bank, Capitol Bank, mysteriously leaving him richer, not poorer.

“Amongst all who are now running for President, Villar stands out, indeed, as the RICHEST and one who thinks that everyone can be bought: the people through his misleading advertisements, some media people who are obviously in his “payola”, political leaders who are vulnerable to his offer to partake of his financial largesse, and all his attempts to bribe even his colleagues and fellow aspirants to the Presidency.

“Sen. Villar may have succeeded to a large extent in deploying the huge fortune he acquired, perhaps some by honest means, but definitely, a large part, by the immoral use of his political position, power and clout to advance his own business interests as borne out by the evidence in Senate Ethics case and, much earlier, by the shenanigans exposed on the Floor of the Lower House by Sen. Joker Arroyo.

“But on May 10, he must be taught a hard and painful lesson by no less than the electorate. He must be unmasked and rejected as a fake leader in order for the nation to redeem itself. We must clearly send the strongest message to Senator Manuel “Manny” B. Villar, as Senator Richard J. Gordon has said, that THE PRESIDENCY OF THIS NATION, THE FILIPINO PEOPLE, AND THE PHILIPPINES ARE NOT FOR SALE.”

* * *

Postscript: On Tuesday, 02 March, I was informed that Sen. Dick Gordon mentioned the attempted offer to get him out of the race in a morning radio talk show. On Wednesday, in the talk show of a rival station, Gordon repeated the story, and then some, about the financial dealings of Villar with NHMFC, and its capital infusions coming from state-managed workers’ pension funds.

I asked a confidante who happens to be a close friend of a consultant and long-time supporter of Gordon to call his friend. At the time, I had not heard that Senate President Enrile had “surmised” that Sen. Ed Angara was Villar’s emissary. I told my confidante to ask our friend from Gordon’s inner circle to make a multiple choice, and I mentioned two men who had been in Erap Estrada’s cabinet, and one who was once part of GMA’s cabinet. I know the three to be pretty active in the campaign to get Villar elected president of the benighted.

The Gordon close-in, presented with a multiple choice, blurted out the nickname of one in that multiple choice. And while Sen. Angara did serve in Erap’s cabinet, no, his was not the name blurted out. He was not part of the multiple choice to begin with.

Later in the day, text messages appeared pointing to another former cabinet member, someone who served the Marcos government. Oh, what a mix-up. But I still believe that the emissary whose name Gordon’s friend blurted out, fits the role of busted negotiator to a “T”. In any case, maybe Dick Gordon should speak out and identify the negotiator, to put the matter to rest.