Thursday, January 29, 2015

Instituting lies

By Emil Jurado
In my over half a century as a journalist—and I have gone full circle in print, radio and television—I have never seen an administration that has institutionalized lying like this one.
Take, for instance, that sour note during the journey of mercy and compassion of Pope Francis to the Philippines. In welcoming the pope at Malacañang, President Aquino showed his rudeness, arrogance and bad manners. He castigated the clergy in front of the pope by accusing priests and nuns of being silent to the alleged abuses of the past administration, which he said he was still trying to rectify.
Worse, Mr. Aquino also lied through his teeth. It’s a fact that some members of the clergy, notably retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Dagupan and Lingayen, was former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s arch-critic!
I know presidential spokesmen are paid to tell lies about their boss, but when Sonny Coloma says that the President was just telling the truth, he simply insults our intelligence.
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Still, the biggest liar of all in the Cabinet is the woman with a streak of red on her hair. I am talking about Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, who has been exposed as hiding the homeless in a resort in Nasugbu, Batangas when the pope came to town.
That was a clear attempt to show the Holy Father that there were no homeless street dwellers along his route.
This was supposedly not the first time. Last year, during the Asean Summit, the homeless were brought to Island Cove resort in Cavite.
And remember when Soliman said in a Cabinet meeting that there were no longer Yolanda survivors living in tents? Well there still are, and they are still many!
A congressional investigation is a kid-glove treatment for Soliman. My gulay, she deserves to be tarred and thrown in jail!
With one lie after another, lying may as well be the legacy of the Aquino administration. 
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Alphaland President Mario “Babes” Oreta sent a letter to former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado amid reports that the latter may implicate Alphaland in his testimonies against Vice President Jejomar Binay. This was in connection with the Alphaland prime property deal with the Boy Scout of the Philippines. Oreta warned that whatever the former vice mayor would say against the deal could “blow up in Mercado’s face.”
Sure enough, Mercado told the Senate Yellow-Ribbon subcommittee of three-Senators Koko Pimentel as chairman with Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes as members, about how the Vice President got P200 million as “kickbacks” from the Alphaland-BSP deal on the former Sime Darby (Goodrich) property at the corner of Ayala Avenue Extension and Malugay Street in Makati. But he did not have a shred of evidence that the deal was anomalous. It also showed that Mercado was lying.
In the first place, it was Mercado who negotiated and signed the contract with Oreta. In that negotiation, in Oreta’s words in his letter, he told Mercado, “I am sure you will remember that you made less than subtle hint that some ‘benefits’ were due to you for agreeing to conclude the project, and I am sure that you will also remember what I explained to you that Alphaland was a joint venture company with the Ashmore Group and that every transaction was a joint venture company with the Ashmore Group and that every transaction was closely scrutinized by Ashmore.” Thus, it was impossible for Alphaland to agree to give you such ‘benefits.”
Santa Banana, in other words, it was Mercado who was asking for “kickback” that Alphaland could not give because Ashmore would not be a party to corruption. No less than Senator Pimentel said that there was no proof supporting Mercado’s allegations.
So will the sub-committees continue with the hearings?
No wonder the Vice President dared the Senate panel to come up with its committee report.
In the same statement of Binay, he asked how Mercado became a whistle blower under the Witness Protection Program when all he has been saying have been allegations bereft of evidence.
That the Alphaland-BSP deal was not only above board but good for the Boy Scout of the Philippine is clear. But, what is sad about it that private corporations having deals with government are now being dragged into it simply because some senators are salivating to become either President or Vice President.
Indeed, politics is like looking into a garbage can.

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