Tuesday, February 24, 2015


(“We must have pride and dignity.”)
Joko Widodo
Joko Widodo
I like Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo who was here on an official visit last week. He said he wants to end soon the deployment of domestic migrant workers to other countries because “doing menial chores abroad undermines Indonesian pride and dignity”.
Jokowi said he felt “ashamed when discussing the matter in [recent] bilateral talks with Malaysia. I have instructed the manpower minister to make a clear road map and [set a timeline] to stop the program. We must have pride and dignity.”
My sentiments, exactly. Equally important is the tremendous social cost to our people which is almost beyond measure.
For this reason, I have been telling my students in foreign policy that it was wrong to have as one of the three pillars of the government’s foreign policy platform assistance to our OFWs.
The government’s duty to protect and assist our nationals abroad are already embodied in our laws, including the Constitution.
A third pillar, if need be, should be the same as Jokowi’s policy.
Last week’s hearings of the Senate and the lower House on the Mamasapano Massacre made one thing very clear – the line of command was from President Noynoy Aquino down to then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and finally, to Special Action Force (SAF) Commander Getulio Napenas.
The rest were bit players, none of whom had the guts to even admit telling Noynoy about the slaughter that went on. Of course, they didn’t need to. They knew that Noynoy knew what was going on even before anyone of them did. No one wanted to pin the blame on Noynoy for the gruesome incident that claimed the lives of 44 gallant SAF policemen.
The most telling part of the hearing regarding this matter was when Senator Grace Poe asked Purisima if he had been informing Noynoy of the “progression of the events in Mamasapano”. Instead of a yes or no reply, Purisima asked Poe if he could be given time to “seek clearance” from Noynoy before answering the question. Poe granted his request. “Iwas pusoy!”
Consequently, several senators and congressmen urged Noynoy to come clean on his role in the tragic incident and face the consequences of his action.
DILG Secretary Mar Roxas who, together with PNP acting chief Leonardo Espina, was kept out of the loop on Oplan Exodus, wanted to know “who had the responsibility of looking after the commandos sent on a dangerous mission to arrest two terrorists” since Purisima was under suspension and therefore had no power to give orders.
“So who now had the power to look after the welfare of these commandos who we sent on a dangerous mission?” he asked.
How naïve! Or maybe he was just playing dumb just like the others?
As my friend Ngo-ngo would say: “Nges hu.”
I found incredulous the testimony of AFP Chief Gregorio Catapang that he refused to send in air assets to help the cornered SAF commandos “for fear that it might be misinterpreted by the MILF as an attack”.
He was, of course, only being consistent with what “ama ng bayan” Noynoy and his lapdogs have been saying – that the bloody incident that killed in a brutal manner 44 of his children should not be allowed to jeopardize the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
That statement is what really grates the nerves of the kith and kin of the “Fallen 44” and the entire citizenry, given the perfidious action of the MILF and the BIFF.
The question of US involvement in Oplan Exodus was also raised during one of the hearing sessions of the Senate but nobody wanted to touch it.
As I said last week, if reports are true that the Americans were indeed directly involved in the operation, from training to funding and directing Oplan Exodus, Noynoy should come clean about it now. Why hide it? Only to be found out later? With several bodies investigating the tragedy, one of them could conceivably find incontrovertible evidence to prove US involvement. Might as well spill it all now.
In fact, there is no point denying it now. Aside from US drones (“that twinkled at night”) reportedly being sighted by residents casing the Mamasapano area days before, up to January 24, Ambassador Philip Goldberg had also admitted that the US helped train and worked with the SAF commandos.
Too, Manila Times’ Dante Ang wrote nearly two weeks ago that, he “has learned from a source, who requested anonymity, that Aquino, together with suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima were in the US Drone base facility in Zamboanga on that fateful Sunday morning. They were monitoring the encounter between the members of the elite PNP-SAF and the combined armies of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its supposed-to-be breakaway element, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).”
I have not read or heard Malacanang denying the story.
Every time presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, aka Boy Pickup of alleged Pork Barrel Queen Janet Napoles, surfaces, he never seems to fail making a gem of a statement.
The most recent was when he said Noynoy “has always chosen the right PNP chief.”
Oh yeah? Please explain Purisima.
Reminders (for Noynoy):
1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency. That was more than four and a half years ago.
2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and order his successor, Robert “Pretty Boy” Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former.
Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA’s findings that:
(a) He received the obscenely excessive compensation of P16.36 million in 2012 making him the highest paid government servant then. He was also the highest paid in 2013 with P12.09 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if he again tops the list in 2014; and
(b) That over a year ago, at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices, maybe more by now, to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011.
COA also said that the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have at that time responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors. Of the 36, 27 confirmed “discrepancies” in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS.
There are three questions being raised when remittances, or parts thereof, of government agencies are not recorded by the GSIS on time: a) Where are these huge sums “parked” in the meantime?; b) Do they earn interest?; and c) To where (whom?) does the interest, if any, go?
Pray tell, Mr. Vergara, what is the present status of these funds, including those that may have been remitted since and not yet recorded by the GSIS? How long do you think you can “dedma” these questions?
I believe it is time for COA to follow up on what Vergara has done on the above findings so that affected GSIS members would know the status of their contributions!
In this connection, I would like to address this question to Ms. Heidi Mendoza of COA: “Is Vergara one of the sacred cows in Noynoy’s coterie whom you are afraid to investigate?”
Today is the 291st day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
I dread to think of how many more years it will take before Jonas’ disappearance is finally resolved. Or, for that matter, the items in the Reminders above. It is beginning to look like it will not be during Noynoy’s watch.
From an internet friend:
A man joins a big corporate empire as a trainee.
On his very first day of work, he dials the pantry and shouts into the phone, “Get me a coffee, quickly!”
The voice from the other side responded, “You fool, you’ve dialed the wrong extension! Do you know who you’re talking to, dumbo?”
“No,” replied the trainee.
“It’s the CEO of the company, you fool!”
The trainee shouts back, “And do YOU know who YOU are talking to, you fool?!”
“No,” replied the CEO indignantly.
“Good!” replied the trainee, and puts down the phone.

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