What to do? (concluded)

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The President has announced she will not attend the Philippine Military Academy homecoming this weekend (because of a startling coincidence involving assassinations plots) . She is in a mess of her own making, and which requires loyalty at a time when her officials have to wonder if it’s worth it to lose all, for her. Read Tony Abaya’s column to understand why Jun Lozada has engaged the sympathy of many people and why government’s resources have failed to impeach his credibility.

As Mon Casiple muses,

The instruction of the president for government to work with private business sector, academe and Church in the anti-corruption work and the sudden interest of the Ombudsman and DOJ in the ZTE-NBN case aim to seize initiative in the issue. The NBI raid on Lozada’s office, on the other hand, is more in the same league as the failed discrediting of Lozada for corruption.

Many top officials in the GMA administration have been put on the spot, had their reputation besmirched, or are in danger of prosecution themselves because of their actions in defense of the Arroyo family. They are under intense pressure from their own families, friends, and peers to stand for truth and decency on the issues confronting the First Family.

The signal role of the Lozada case is in bringing forth these pressures. In turn, the pressure on the president to resign will intensify. Ironically, the effective pressure may come from her own official family and camp rather than from the outside.

The Palace has also had to backtrack on its attempt to divert public attention by means of prematurely launching it’s amendments scheme. The Vice-President, for obvious reasons, has begun to grow a spine.

Yesterday, the Inquirer editorial pointed out that what is undeniable, is that the administration’s engaged in a Conspiracy. One that entailed a whole roster of officials collectively insulting the intelligence of the public, as Manuel Buencamino sardonically demonstrated in his column.

The group Action for Economic Reforms, in calling for the resignation of the President, puts it this way:

Criminal justice will come, but now is the time to take political action……

The first family is the capo di tutti capi, the boss of all bosses. The Macapagal-Arroyo family has turned the Philippine government into a mafia family, with Cabinet men, congressmen, and other functionaries as their mob lieutenants. We have state capture not by the elite but by a Filipino mafia headed by the first family.The Philippines is not lacking in laws and institutions against corruption and plunder…

Much effort has been undertaken to address chronic corruption…

Despite all this, what is missing is the simplest answer to the problem: Fighting corruption is a question of leadership.Since the leadership itself is brazenly engaged in plunder, corruption remains unabated. Under the leadership of a non-corrupt president, anti-corruption programs and institutions will be effective. Under a corrupt presidency, the same programs and institutions only become a protective veil for corruption itself…

With GMA’s repeated betrayal of the public trust, she has no right to sit as President a minute longer. All other officials involved in the ZTE-NBN deal, including Secretary Romy Neri, DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and members of the NEDA-ICC must step down from their government posts. The officials involved in the abduction of Jun Lozada and its cover-up in the media, such as PNP Chief Avelino Razon, Secretary Lito Atienza and DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno, must likewise step down.

We must expunge the Philippine Mafia.

And yet even as more and more people add their voices, from Harvey Keh to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (perhaps, taking its cue from the national lawyer’s association, and perhaps statements such as Jovito Salonga’s, the law school governments of the Ateneo, UP and other law schools are reportedly meeting and are expected to call on the President to resign) to the Makati Business Club (and if there were any divisions in its ranks, they’ve closed ranks over Secretary Favila’s threat to unleash the BIR on businessmen; as Boy Blue replied, “bring it on!”) except for that old Palace reliable, Vivianne Yuchengco, the debate goes on and on about the President. The debate is distilled to its essence by this quote from the play, A Man for All Seasons:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Yet we know that in real life as in the play and film, More ended up imprisoned and put on trial, charged with treason: bearing the full brunt of “Man’s laws,” because the King wanted him forced to publicly recant his private opposition to the King’s divorce and remarriage, which More found contrary to God’s laws. The world remembers him as a man who submitted to the law, to prove his fidelity to a higher one. Recognition the laws of man can be flawed, and man’s justice profoundly unjust.

There is another gripping scene where More is undergoing trial (“betoken,” as used in the dialogue, means “be a sign of; indicate”) and his refusal to publicly take an oath as demanded by the king is taken as proof positive of treason:

Cromwell: Now, Sir Thomas, you stand on your silence.

Sir Thomas More: I do.

Cromwell: But, gentlemen of the jury, there are many kinds of silence. Consider first the silence of a man who is dead. Let us suppose we go into the room where he is laid out, and we listen: what do we hear? Silence. What does it betoken, this silence? Nothing; this is silence pure and simple. But let us take another case. Suppose I were to take a dagger from my sleeve and make to kill the prisoner with it; and my lordships there, instead of crying out for me to stop, maintained their silence. That would betoken! It would betoken a willingness that I should do it, and under the law, they will be guilty with me. So silence can, according to the circumstances, speak! Let us consider now the circumstances of the prisoner’s silence. The oath was put to loyal subjects up and down the country, and they all declared His Grace’s title to be just and good. But when it came to the prisoner, he refused! He calls this silence. Yet is there a man in this court – is there a man in this country! – who does not know Sir Thomas More’s opinion of this title?

Crowd in court gallery: No!

Cromwell: Yet how can this be? Because this silence betokened, nay, this silence was, not silence at all, but most eloquent denial!

Sir Thomas More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is “Qui tacet consentiret”: the maxim of the law is “Silence gives consent”. If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.

Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?

Sir Thomas More: The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.

In More’s case he submitted, as a believing Christian, to the secular power precisely because he was obedient to a higher authority: one that compelled him to bow down before the laws of man because they are as nothing compared to the laws of God, which required fidelity to the death.

The law, he recognized, could serve as defense for certain things but there come points when the law compels obedience even when the law itself is unjust; yet compels that submission because the law’s limitations are clear, it cannot intrude into the distinctions a person’s conscience creates between what is legal and what is just.

A similar question was tackled by the scientist Stephen Jay Gould, when he discussed how the debate between those who believe in science and those who look to a supernatural authority are engaged in a futile debate. See his essay Nonoverlapping Magisteria:

I believe, with all my heart, in a respectful, even loving concordat between our magisteria — the NOMA solution. NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectua] grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance. NOMA also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions properly under the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world’s empirical constitution. This mutual humility has important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions.

By all means the law is often our shield against injustice, but there are certain forms of injustice our laws are impotent to address.

What is at stake is the position held by the President of the Philippines. A position not hers by right, but by grace; a position only temporarily hers and not her inalienable possession like her life, for example. What she can claim a right to is a fixed term; but the term is hers by virtue of certain assumptions, among them her receiving a popular mandate that is genuine and not so marred by controversy as to make it suspect; or that she continues to enjoy the confidence of the people who consider her fit to continue in office.

The supreme law, the Constitution, gives her the opportunity to declare herself unfit to hold office at any time (resignation); it grants the power to declare her unfit for office not only to Congress, by means of a prosecution begun by the House and a political, not judicial, trial in the Senate; and even to her subordinates, the Cabinet, who can declare her unfit for office and who can even force a vote in Congress; and it grants the public at the very least the right to petition government for the redress of grievances and enshrines the citizenry as the ultimate arbiter of what is legal: for, if need be, the public can overturn the fundamental law of the land by means of revolution (if it succeeds).

Her critics do not call for the murder or assassination of the President, or that she should be denied the chance to adequately defend herself in court; but what they assert is that the President may continue to enjoy the presumption of innocence as far as the courts are concerned but no longer enjoys that assumption as far as the public is concerned; that in a sense, in the face of the President’s acts of commission and omission as well as those of her henchmen, a significant portion of the population has what lawyers call a moral certainty of her guilt; this moral certainty does not meet, as of yet, the requirements of the courts when it comes to depriving her of life, liberty, or property; but it is more than enough in the political sphere, to justify citizens calling her to relinquish her office.

Because, as Joker Arroyo in a previous incarnation declared, we cannot afford to have a country run by a thief. Whether it was run by thieves in the past or will be run by thieves in the future is absolutely irrelevant and immaterial, if your honors please. We are talking about the incumbent President and no one else. We can deprive only the incumbent President of office and no one else; the punishment is specific because it can only apply to one person at a time.

What is the law’s is the law’s; what is the people’s as a political entity is entirely something else.

The question is how the people, as a political entity, should dispense with political questions, such as the fitness of their head of state and government for office. Public opinion and the threat of impeachment drove Nixon from office; de Gaulle, facing student protests and a lost referendum vote, resigned. Politics recognizes force majeure when it comes to the terms of its highest officials: when a party loses the US House of Representatives, traditionally the Speaker from the party that lost Congress resigns his seat; it is not just in parliamentary systems that there can be votes of confidence -whether in elections or in mobilized public opinion.

Oliver Cromwell embarked on his dictatorship by dismissing the Long Parliament with these famous words on April 20, 1653:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, andenemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye haveno more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a denof thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone!So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!

And this is the warning that echoes down in history: in face of wrongdoing or plain incompetence, the longer people confuse procedures for actual government, the greater the temptation to banish those fussing over procedures to restore what’s right. But one needn’t embark on the path of dictatorship to realize that an essential attribute of the democratic system, is the opportunity it affords to discard a discredited leader, rather have the whole system go down in flames to preserve one person’s political life.

As the British parliament agonized over the question of whether to continue its fight against Hitler or surrender, one MP, Leo Amery, quoted Cromwell in urging Neville Chamberlain to resign:

Some 300 years ago, when this House found that its troops were being beaten again and again by the dash and daring of the Cavaliers, by Prince Rupert’s Cavalry, Oliver Cromwell spoke to John Hampden. In one of his speeches he recounted what he said. It was this:

‘I said to him, “Your troops are most of them old, decayed serving men and tapsters and such kind of fellows.” You must get men of a spirit that are likely to go as far as they will go, or you will be beaten still.’

It may not be easy to find these men. They can be found only by trial and by ruthlessly discarding all who fail and have their failings discovered. We are fighting today for our life, for our liberty, for our all; we cannot go on being led as we are.

I have quoted certain words of Oliver Cromwell. I will quote certain other words. I do it with great reluctance, because I am speaking of those who are old friends and associates of mine, but they are words which, I think, are applicable to the present situation. This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation:

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go”

Chamberlain resigned; Churchill became Prime Minister, despite the great misgivings, even obvious mistrust, of his peers. When Chamberlain died, Churchill, in turn, paid tribute to his predecessor:

It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting. There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values. History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.

At stake, let me repeat, is the President’s political life; as to the sum total of her life we can’t pass judgment, yet, though it is, of course, possible that in retrospect, when that time comes, she may come off better than she seems, today; or worse. But it is not too soon, to pass judgment on her fitness for office. This is a judgment call in which the law is only relevant in terms of our layman’s appreciation of what it’s spirit ought to be, and whether under her leadership, the government has proven itself faithless to that spirit.

The question however, settled in many minds, remains unsettled in the minds of others; it hinges, in those minds, on whether the dangers of an aroused public are so grave, as to justify denying the public their sovereignty; it is a question involving fears as old as Edmund Burke’s condemnation of the French Revolution:

Were all those dreadful things necessary? Were they the inevitable results of the desperate struggle of determined patriots, compelled to wade through blood and tumult, to the quiet shore of a tranquil and prosperous liberty? No! nothing like it. The fresh ruins of France, which shock our feelings wherever we can turn our eyes, are not the devastation of civil war; they are the sad but instructive monuments of rash and ignorant counsel in time of profound peace. They are the display of inconsiderate and presumptuous, because unresisted and irresistible, authority. The persons who have thus squandered away the precious treasure of their crimes, the persons who have made this prodigal and wild waste of public evils, (the last stage reserved for the ultimate ransom of the state), have met in their progress with little, or rather with no opposition at all. Their whole march was more like a triumphal procession, than the progress of a war. Their pioneers have gone before them, and demolished and laid everything level at their feet. Not one drop of their blood have they shed in the cause of the country they have ruined. They have made no sacrifices to their projects of greater consequence than their shoe buckles, whilst they were imprisoning their king, murdering their fellow citizens, and bathing in tears, and plunging in poverty and distress, thousands of worthy men and worthy families. Their cruelty has not even been the base result of fear. It has been the effect of their sense of perfect safety, in authorizing treasons, robberies, rapes, assassinations, slaughters, and burnings, throughout their harassed land. But the cause of all was plain from the beginning.

But we are heirs, not to Burke, but to the Frenchmen he condemned; even Rizal was convinced, if not of the desirability, then at least of the inevitability, of revolution; else our national narrative would still be that of a province of Spain or State of the Union. We can detect at least a familiarity with his arguments, by way of Rizal: who ultimate advice was, you cannot force events, they will unfold in their own good time (see my disquisition on Rizal’s Pilosopiya ng Pagtitiis).

Well, things are unfolding, but it would be wrong to assert they will unfold in a precise, pre-determined manner. But they are unfolding in a manner that is demolishing the arguments used, so far, by those who wanted to keep rationalizing their implied or overt support for the administration.

This is just political noise? The increasing decibels of public protest are preferable to the silence of the tomb or the cold vaults where even colder cash is piling up for the President’s favored few.

They are all the same? Perhaps when they could moderate their greed; but the greed is unmoderated, it is accelerating, and along with the avarice is an out-of-control contempt for every Filipino, rich or poor, educated or not, urbanite or rural dweller, who dares defy the administration.

What will it achieve? An end to the insanity, closing a chapter to the hubris, restoring the enfeebled democratic muscles of the electorate, reviving the dulled sense of right and wrong of a public.

What about the economy? For those who believe in trickle-down, removing the dam that has held captive the people’s money; for those who wanted prudence and professionalism in the management of our natural and financial resources, the chance this will finally happen and not be feigned.

It boils down to the administration’s scale of greed at the very least matching, if not exceeding, that of the government that preceded it. And a public realizing that it must stand up to it, end it, punish it, for now it sees its your style, or lack of it, but your performance while in office, that must be the sole, standard, measure of a leader’s fitness for office. The mafiosi in slippers and the mafiosi in an expensive suit are both plain thugs.

The President overturned her policy of preferring BOT deals, to add to the debts of the country, to obtain foreign funding for a project whose cost was bloated by the demands of her family and allies. To consummate this deal, she left the bedside of her potentially dying husband to please her allies. She would have pursued it, if the public hadn’t opposed it. Yet she has kept trying to find more and similar deals. This is just part of the pattern, one that consists of her recklessly spending government finances, then figuring out a way to blunt the effects of her spending, only to find new ways to spend that involve accumulating unnecessary and indefensible obligations.

Minguita Padilla asserts that the inflated commission demanded by Abalos equals the annual budget of the Philippine General Hospital: multiplied five times. I’ve heard another assertion that the amount equals the annual budget of the Department of Agriculture.

A few weeks back, a dispirited critic of the President asked another critic (an agnostic if not an atheist), “Do you think God put her here to teach us something?” And the agnostic/atheist critic instantly replied, “Yes, to teach us freedom isn’t gained so easily.”

The long road began, for some, in 2001, for others, in 2004, for others, in 2006 and so on. They have come together, taken time to understand each other, hammered out consensus, taken stock of past mistakes and appropriate things to do; all the while hounded by those united in support for the President because she dressed better, spoke better, was better-educated and showed better executive control, than her predecessor.

But when, as now, she’s revealed as nothing better than him, and in many ways worse because if he was slothful, she has been industrious in undermining institutions, intimidating any organization critical of her, and corrupting the various petty crooks and mulcting officials who have always been there, but who have grown fat, proud, and left stupefied by her drowning them in money and in stripping them of whatever self-control and professional values they had left.

The result is that the enemies of the people should really be named Legion -for they are many; the ones in the cabinet who serve her with enthusiasm and no scruples; the soldiers she has infiltrated into sensitive civilian posts; the business communities she has turned into her propaganda organs; the rank-and-file who have lost even the nominal prestige their positions should accord them.

The line of men and women who have abandoned all pretenses to serving the public, who are reduced to serving the President and her family, according to their humiliating whims, has grown so long that the President’s leaving office will only be the first step in a process that will many of the formerly well-connected turned potential social and political pariahs.

But it’s that first step that can and should unite us. It unites those who wanted it years ago, with those who have come to see as a necessary thing, only now. We are together now, having seen not only the best, but the worst, in each of ourselves; but collectively, better for coming together now.

What to do? Make a list. Those who can no longer deserve a position paid for from the public coffers, and who must resign immediately. Those who supported the government to the extent they advocated means no genuinely democratic government would have conceived of adopting in the past. Those whose perks and power are made possible by their closeness to the President, who cast aside their own reputations in her service.

And make a list of the things that failed to work: impeachment, presidential commissions, appointments to departments and the judiciary, the military, only to cause those institutions grave scandal and the gutting of professional pride and esprit de corps.

And make a list of the things you want, and not the things you hate; for it is easy to hate but difficult to be for certain things. Clean elections? Greater or less party discipline? Efficient and honest tax collection, social services as a right of the people and not personally-bestowed patronage? The list is yours, but armed with similar lists, there we will have the chance to come together with a truly meaningful reform agenda.

But until then: march.

Until then: make noise.

Until then: write, call, text, to share what you feel.

From now on, forget your past mistakes, or disappointments, and focus on the task at hand.

They say: they represent public opinion.

We must say: we do!

You must say, I have had enough with feeling helpless, or fearful, or embarrassed over past loyalties; instead, I will stand, not someone, but for me; and if there are many like me, I will link arms with them; and whatever happens, let it not be said that at the country’s present opportunity for redemption, you were will trying to find excuses to postpone the inevitable.

The Black and White Movement gives you three opportunities to register your protest:

1. Log on to our website — www.blacknwhite-movement.com and register your name to declare your support for Jun Lozada.

2. Send text “Sa Totoo Tayo” to 0915-3296830 to be counted. Also, text this message to all of your friends and relatives: “Kung naniniwala kayo sa sinasabi ni Jun Lozada, text “Sa Totoo Tayo” to 0915-3296830. Visit www.blacknwhite-movement.com for latest count and activities.”

3. And if you’re in Metro Manila, join us on Sunday, February 17, 2008, 10 AM at La Salle Greenhills for a Mass organized by President Cory Aquino and the La Salle brothers in support of Jun Lozada and his family.

The time to act is now. Sa Totoo Tayo. Now na!

509 comments

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    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Vic, i derive the opposite lesson. I think the reason why there has been a push to file the case in court from the pro-Admin people is precisely because they want the cover of not being allowed to talk about a pending case. Given the speed of our Courts system, it becomes an ideal cover-up technique. Jamby fell into a trap.

    • magdiwang on February 18, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    JMCastro:

    I agree with you that people should be pro-active in making our government better and should stay vigilant on its wrongdoings. I just dont see how the current way of exposing corruption thru whistleblowers helps. They should first do their homework with an airtight case before putting them in the limelight to at least look credible. The way its going right now, there are more questions than answers which muddles the case. It looks like they are more interested on his unfounded expose than the truth. What do we get in this never ending aid to legislation investigations which dont have any resolutions….nada, except showing the world how dysfunctional our legislative branch of government is. What little we have gained economically are being compromised by petty politics. People just want to build on the gains to move forward.

    • tonio on February 18, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    cvj:

    one playing field to the next. of course, the Admin are also counting on the judges they have in their pockets.

    • james on February 18, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    cory and drilon again? and the religious who judge and condemn before knowing the other side?

    They should could have taken the fair account of father Aquino of San Beda.

    its the court really that will judge all these…

    the hyatt 10? these are the biggest crabs that we have here…buti na lang 10 lang sila

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    tonio, yup.

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    What do we get in this never ending aid to legislation investigations which dont have any resolutions – Magdiwang

    We got the cancellation of the NBN-ZTE contract which saved the people 329 Million USD. Also, the investigations revealed the true nature of this government which many in the upper and middle class refused to see until it was forced upon them by Joey de Venecia and Jun Lozada.

    What little we have gained economically are being compromised by petty politics. – Magdiwang

    The gains that you refer to are going into the pockets of the powerful few. More than ‘petty politics’, it is systematic plunder that is sabotaging our economy.

    • vic on February 18, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    cjv, that is one defect that should be taken care off, the glacial phase the courts system moves. but the process of letting one authority investigate criminal wrongdoings first is I always believe the most effective way of fighting them, The Police.

    BTW, the biggest corruption in Toronto Police Force History where 6 members of the Drug Squad were charged of extortions, beatings and intimidations was just stayed by the Judge for Unreasonable delay. The Atty.General appealed the case, but I don’t see it will ever see daylight again. It was on going for almost TEN Years and the crown insists that it was the accused who caused the delays by intimidating witnesses and also the hardship experienced by the Force of Charging their Own (gathering evidence among men who swear to their code of brotherhood). But rights are rights, and what are they if we lost respect for them..

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Vic, i think that’s why we need to have a clear view of the System as it is, and not the idealized version. What may work in the Canadian context may not work over here. Failing to do that, we get into all sorts of unintended consequences.

    • magdiwang on February 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    [quote]We got the cancellation of the NBN-ZTE contract which saved the people 329 Million USD. Also, the investigations revealed the true nature of this government which many in the upper and middle class refused to see until it was forced upon them by Joey de Venecia and Jun Lozada[/quote]

    Hi CVJ

    The last time I check, no independent body has ruled that this NBN-ZTN contract was anomalous and overpriced. Please share if you do know. What we know is that a losing bidder torpedoed the contract without presenting any evidence. I honestly thought that this project is good for our country to be more competetive economically. We will lose more than $300M if many years from now it is found to be a project worth implementing.

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Magdiwang, de Venecia’s and Lozada’s testimony aside, i looked at the pricing of the NBN-ZTE Contract and on its face, it is overpriced, particularly the Engineering Services portion. It’s too high for a straightforward deployment project that does not involve (or has a minimal) application services. There are also a lot of hidden costs that would potentially make the total project price higher than 329 Million.

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Magdiwang, here’s my analysis:

    http://www.cvjugo.blogspot.com/2007/09/national-broadband-network-nbn-project.html

    • vic on February 18, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    “What may work in the Canadian context may not work over here.”

    It may not, but it may. Seems that whatever been tried, the homegrown sytem, copycats, mostly failed. I’ll give it a try. No consequences can be worse off than the status quo. But then again, I must be just wishing…

    • magdiwang on February 18, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    CVJ, I think its futile for me to argue with you if it is overpriced or not as I am no expert in this area. What I find disturbing is that a person like Devenecia and Lozada thru their allegations can singlehandedly torpedo a contract which can potentially be a blessing for our country. Of course, I dont mind them airing the disadvantages of the transaction but they have not really answered the DOTC justification of the contract price. Did they? They are more pre-occupied on the alleged kickbacks.

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Vic, i think we both agree on the evils of the status quo. I’m not against trying to Canadian model (or any other model) as long as we adjust for local variables that may not be present in the original model. For example, when we recommend referring the matter to the courts, we have to take into account the glacial pace of the court system, the ability of the Admin to intimidate or bribe the judges and the relative lack of transparency (as compared to a public hearing) of the process.

    Magdiwang, the DOTC ‘justification’ is at a too general level to be useful or credible for analysis purposes. As Lozada said, the whole project, regardless of whether it was Abalos or JDV3 who won, looks supplier-driven. Certainly the Angat watershed and Housing for soldiers projects (and police) are more important in comparison.

    • tonio on February 18, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    magdiwang:

    the tag is called “blockquote”, but you have the right idea. 🙂

    • Madonna on February 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    From Lozada’s account about Neri, it must be that Neri is one guy that just does not have Lozada’s guts or probably Neri’s reticence is because of his career prospects — he has been a bureaucrat most of his life, kowtowing to the wishes of politicians as bosses. Unlike Lozada whose private sector background allows and could his bearings restored even if he came out as a hostile witness against the government — Neri probabaly thinks that has very little career prospects ahead of him should he come out to testify against the government.

    Poor guy — this Neri — just like most of our bureaucrats who maybe honest and competent — but are buffeted by the poor and incompetent leadership of our political elite.

    • magdiwang on February 18, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    the tag is called “blockquote”, but you have the right idea.

    hehehe….you learn something new everyday

    • Jon Mariano on February 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I too believe that the Philippines needs a reliable communications network including broadband not just for the government but also for the ordinary people.

    The current NBN/ZTE (National broadband Network supplied by ZTE of China) if not overpriced (to line the pockets of Abalos and others) could have been good. In the beginning, Neri did quite well by insisting on it to be a BOT project but the dark side prevailed! Buti na lang merong isang Jedi na naglakas-loob na lumaban at isiwalat ang mga sikreto.

  1. magdiwang, instead of [ ] use as tags. and instead of quote, use blockquote. so it should be
    and

  2. it’s not working. let me try this

    >blockquote/blockquote<

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Jon, even if the Broadband Contract was entirely above-board, i still think it’s supplier-driven, i.e. the need has been manufactured by its proponents (that includes Joey de Venecia). As far as the business case for a private broadband network is concerned, i don’t see why they should not just have worked with the existing Telco providers (SMART, Globe, PLDT, or even Meralco) so they can ride on top of the existing infrastructure built by these Companies.

    It is not optimal to reinvent the wheel on the underlying infrastructure when the groundwork has already been done. If anything, instead of building up a parallel infrastructure, the government should just lay down the infrastructure on areas of the country that may not be profitable in the beginning. The government can also work with the Telco’s to provide more security to the latter’s cell sites so it would be less vulnerable to rebel attacks.

    • magdiwang on February 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Jon Mariano :
    I too believe that the Philippines needs a reliable communications network including broadband not just for the government but also for the ordinary people.

    The current NBN/ZTE (National broadband Network supplied by ZTE of China) if not overpriced (to line the pockets of Abalos and others) could have been good. In the beginning, Neri did quite well by insisting on it to be a BOT project but the dark side prevailed! Buti na lang merong isang Jedi na naglakas-loob na lumaban at isiwalat ang mga sikreto.

    Im really glad that there are people who want our country move on the right direction in the form of better infrastucture.

    Im not familiar on how contracts are won. When Mr Devenesia exposed the alleged anomalies….Was the contract in the bag by the winning bidder?? If it was, are there still due dilligence hearings to look at the contract in its final form to scrutinize if this is good for our country….or did they pre-empted all this due process resulting in the termination of the contract. What Im driving at is that opportunities of this magnitude is a great loss for us as there are few entities willing to fund this huge project.

    • Kabayan on February 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    grd wrote:[blockquote]who’s stopping you and the others from opposing an abusive govt and helping curb corruption? you mean the forces of good will not prevail unless you join hands with the forces of evil? in return what will you offer to the devil? I have no doubt that if the current powers that be are removed, jdv and other turncoats will have their ample rewards just like chavit. and so the cycle and manipulations of the people continue. so why take part in a sham like that? if you and other patriots here are really serious about change and fighting corruption, remove the bad eggs from your ranks. otherwise, I would think that given the chance to be in gloria’s shoes, you and your ilk would be doing the same.[/blockquote]

    Tactics, grd, tactics. If I were up to me however, after all these has blown over (including Gloria and her henchmen i.e. blown out of the water), the only thing I would give to those who were very corrupt yet turn their coats from Gloria only in the last minute will be a penalty not to be able to be given any appointed government position ever again. Of course that is just me. And no, if I were Gloria, rest assured I would not do the same thing as you claim. As for my “ilk” (shrug) don’t have any of that supposed “ilk”.

    And for the rest of Civil Society and the Opposition, I would strongly urge them to do the same, prevent anyone who has participated in massive corruption to be appointed to any government post, even if they relented when they see that the end is near.

    To avoid future more severe penalties, I would also suggest to the corrupt in Gloria’s cabinet to resign; now. For those who are not involved in the Emperors shenanigans, they could at least be proud of the fact that they cease to be part of that “Evil” (as Lozada heard Neri say) in the top Executive position.

    However, enough said grd, it is not good to give further operational suggestions in this blog.

    • rego on February 18, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    “Thats the problem with the country nowadays, too many people are concerned with legality they can get away scot free with anything as long as its legal – never mind if its the truth or not. Legal = Truth?”

    I dont see this a problem. I can even see it as the solution to these never ending “impasse” in the country. The problem I see is that we are using these exposes and senate investigations and public hearings to bring down the Arroyo government than what is its real purpose. And that is in aid of legislations or initiating and investigations or filing a case in ombudsman and prosecution of the perpetrators. There is always this tendency of some sector to shortcut the process and go convict Gloria right away. Laging iniuunahan yung proceso. This the reason why we always have these rallies and Cory sponsored mass, prayer meetings at laging nag-aabang sa people power which has the primary purpose of pressurring Gloria to resign or bringdown her government.

    Yes people power work with Marcos and Erap but hey we can not always trooped to EDSA all the time to solve our problem with our elected officials. .

    • tonio on February 18, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    cvj:

    As far as the business case for a private broadband network is concerned, i don’t see why they should not just have worked with the existing Telco providers (SMART, Globe, PLDT, or even Meralco) so they can ride on top of the existing infrastructure built by these Companies.

    but the existing telcos already benefit their respective families, and government didn’t want a piece of the Ayalas or Manny Pangilinan’s pie… they want the entire bakery.

    • Jon Mariano on February 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    As a user, I just want something working efficiently and cost-effectively. Whether it was supplier driven/created or not, there is need for a reliable infrastructure. That’s what NEDA is there for, to determine those kind of things.

    • grd on February 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    cvj, suit yourself. trust your womanly instinct. I bet it has not failed you yet.

    • anthony scalia on February 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    cvj,

    Anthony, are you serious about your recommendation to refer the matter to the Ombudsman? As Britney would have said, i’m not that innocent.- cvj

    ****clears throat again**** ehem again

    let me quote that ‘virginal’ Ombudsman suggestion again:

    Oh, the Ombudsman isn’t impartial? Then any private citizen can file a complaint before the prosecutor’s office – anthony scalia

    I gave you a choice, right? If you’re not satisfied with the Ombudsman, go to the prosecutor’s office, also known as the fiscal’s office.

    Still not trusting of the fiscal’s office? where then do you go? the streets? that’s the ‘innocence’ you were referring to! You still honestly believe that another people power will unseat gloria right after the Senate investigations!

    The systematic plunder that i’m referring to is not limited to NBN-ZTE but all the contracts that the Arroyo Admin has entered into involving loans from China.

    oh really? all contracts? too bad Lozada left those out. Southrail? was he privy to the study of its specs and costing, like he was with the NBN-ZTE deal?

    abangan if the Senate can force, er convince another ‘star witness’ to spill the beans on the other ‘contracts that the Arroyo Admin has entered into involving loans from China’

    You can start with ex-Speaker JDV. He was the one who first floated the idea, before 2004, that China will finance a railroad system in Luzon. That is, if you can convince him.

    well theres no harm in trying

    • anthony scalia on February 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    cvj,

    sorry for the mistakes in typing. i missed one “/”

    anyway you know which are my comments. thanks

    • anthony scalia on February 18, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    vic,

    “I still believe an inquiry done by an Independent Body other than the Legislature, is still necessary to find out why the wrongdoings was still possible despite all measures in place”

    me too.

    “We don’t have much cases of corruption to cite as example escept that Sponsorship Scandal, yet after the Criminal Investigations were concluded by the RCMP, a Judicial Inquiry was called to find out what role the Bureaucrats and Cabinet Members played in the Scandal and to Plug the Loopholes and as a result about 100 amendment was done to the Accountability Act including some in the Electoral Law to strengthened the Accountability and Transparency and of course the Criminals were Justly Punished. Prosecutions alone won’t stop the bleeding even if all suspects are convicted..”

    good for you

    • 8thBushido on February 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Our country should be run by law and not by hearsay. I say we finish these Senate hearings and get the entire statement of Jun Lozada. Then we charge him in court. The court will eventually prove all or most of his testimonies are all lies. Then if every person he unjustly implicated, every name he smeared, slandered and maligned will sue him, he will ultimately break down and admit that he is just being used by anti-government forces, specifically the camps of Jojo Binay, Panfilo Lacson and Joma Sison.

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Tonio, as long as it is a legitimate business, and provided the revenue is not in the form of excessive quasi-rents, then the family behind the business (whether Ayala, Pangilinan or Lopez or Sy or Tan) is not an issue. They are entitled to their profits. What is more important is whether the investment in infrastructure is optimal. In this, we need to take advantage of Metcalfe’s law (or its variants), i.e. economies of scale as applied to networks. We only have a finite amount of resources (tax payer money) to invest so we have to be wise in going about it.

    In terms of market power, and due to its sheer size, it is the government that has the leverage to extract favorable rates from the Telcos. Also, there is the matter that if government does not participate in using up the existing capacity of the commercial telcos, then the only ones who will shoulder it would be the private consumer and private companies. In that case, we the public will be hit on both sides, both (1) in terms of the redundant investment outlay by the government as well as (2) the higher rates due to lower utilization of the commercial telco networks.

    • Bert on February 18, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    “The last time I check, no independent body has ruled that this NBN-ZTN contract was anomalous and overpriced. Please share if you do know. What we know is that a losing bidder torpedoed the contract without presenting any evidence. I honestly thought that this project is good for our country to be more competetive economically. We will lose more than $300M if many years from now it is found to be a project worth implementing.–magdiwang

    What we know, magdiawang, is that the president of the Phil. junked the project even if the losing bidder just open a can of worms instead of presenting a strong witness as evidence. The evidence he did presented confirmed his torpedo but, in the hiatus, the witness turned his knees into a jelly. So, the white elephant was not torpedoed by the losing bidder but melted due to embarrassment.

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Jon, we are not just the ‘user’. We are also the ‘funders’ via our taxes so it is in our interest to find out whether the investment is something that needs to be made. As per Neri, the NEDA are just number crunchers to determine things like internal rate of return and project viability. Project benefits are the domain of the public or our representatives.

    The issue of our procurement system being ‘supplier-driven’ matters because in the IT and Telco world, vendors continually peddle the ‘latest and the greatest’. That’s how they (which includes me) are compensated. That accounts for a lot of the ‘supplier-driven’ aspect which is a source of the dysfunctional procurement system even in a completely corruption free environment. ‘Supplier-driven’ and corruption are two separate (but related) issues.

    • ibfx on February 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    What short memories you all have. These same things have happened in past administrations— whistle blowers implicating a people in power. Problem is, it only works when the whistle blower is not himself/herself corrupt. Why do you guys believe someone who himself has admitted would accept bribes if offered one? Geez.

    Yes, go to the streets and protest. I’m sure you’ll be able to bring down this government when you put your mind to it. Then let’s just hit the streets again when it’s the Lozada’s and the De Venecia’s turn to be toppled down.

    This is your fault, too, you know. Look far back enough and you’ll see that it is.

    • mang_isko on February 18, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    ….sabi daw ni neri, “moderate their greed”

    lumalabas si lacson matagal na palang kinakausap si lozada(j-lo). sabi ni neri ngayon sa tv, may patriotic fund daw para sa pagbaliktad laban kay gloria.

    …ito palang ginagawa ni j-lo ay masasabi na kasinungalingan. dapat sabihan si lozada…..”moderate you ‘patriotism'”. hehehehehe

    • Kabayan on February 18, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Forty years ago, Martin Luther King cried:

    On some positions,
    Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?”
    Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?”
    Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?”
    But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”

    There comes a time when one must take a position
    that is neither safe nor politic nor popular;
    but one must take it
    because Conscience says, “It is right.”

    ==========
    Thanks for reminding us this inspiring quote 🙂

    • mang_isko on February 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    yan nga ibfx, we must strengthen our institution. do not burn it. our country of ours will become a banana republic if this caprices of the communist, leftists, also-greedy politicians and priests. we would become the laughing stock of asia.
    we tend to abuse people power. enough with this method.

    • mang_isko on February 18, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    ..sabi ni lozada sa tv, ang nagsu-support daw sa kanyang ngayon ay ‘yong peso-pesong ‘literal daw’ na suporta, wala daw mga business man na nagsusuporta.
    …sabi ko naman kay lozada, “moderate your ‘patriotism'(?)” (P20,000,000.00 daw!)
    ….hehehehehe

    • Kabayan on February 18, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    … Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”… one must take it because Conscience says, “It is right.”

    • UP n student on February 18, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    cvj: in your blog-entry in your blogsite, you posted:
    “…The Senate should demand that the annexes which detail what is to be delivered be produced. That will enable us to tell whether JDV3’s allegations of overpricing is true or not.

    Have you found the annexes?
    ———-
    @ Jon Mariano, who said :
    …for the pork barrel allocations to be done away with. This way, only those who just want to make laws (and the power hungry) will want to run for congress.

    One does not need the pork barrel to make umaapaw-na-salapi as a congressman.

    • mlq3 on February 18, 2008 at 7:30 pm
      Author

    upn, here are the annexes:

    http://www.inquirer.net/specialfeatures/nbndeal/documents/nbndeal_contract.php

    • UP n student on February 18, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    @mlq3: Thanks for pointing to the annexes as provided by Inquirer.

    But those annexes not only are near-impossible to read, apparently many of the details that can help to determine how large and complex the broadband/wimax/VoIP network that was intended to be built. The documents did point to a family of McAfee products to provide network security/threat management. But the Inquirer only provided the cover-sheet for the WiMax portion of the document. I still can not see how large a topology was intended (e.g. how many cities to be reached, how many switches, how many access-points, how many repeaters, etc).

    Just for information, Chicago and a few other cities in the US are cancelling their muni-WIFI plans for economic reasons. EarthLink had already backed out of a project in San Francisco, CA — Earthlink decided that it “was not willing to work in the business model where EarthLink fronts all the money to build, own and operate the network.”

    Others (Lompoc, CA; Seattle, WA) are finding construction costs escalating as what was designed on paper fails the real world (e.g. either more repeaters, or more powerful repeaters are needed to provide acceptable quality-of-service).

    Another firm is trying to pick up after Earthlink in SanFrancisco. Dollar-figures exceed $20Million for a 5-sq-km project. Labor-costs brought down with this company (Meraki) asking residents to install the repeaters themselves on their rooftops.

    Another basis ; for Malaysia national Wimax topology:
    “…the cost of building a transmission tower could exceed RM2 billion in cost. The whole country will require 5,000 towers in two years time for a good service”. Malaysia WiMax roll-out appears to be troubled with reported delays.

    RM2Billion = $620Million US

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    UPn, Annexes A & B are there but not Annex C onwards.

    • UP n student on February 18, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Side-note: Under-the-radar Pakistan is a growing competitor for call-center business.

    KARACHI (November 29 2007): City Nazim Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday said the construction work of 47-storey IT Tower in the vicinity of Civic Center at a cost of US$200 million would start within few weeks. Around 40,000 youth would get employment in the IT Tower.

    Which would be the country’s tallest building and would have 10,000 call center [seats] of which 6,000 have been booked so far, the Nazim stated this, in his address, to a “Technology Showcase” event held at a local hotel.

    • UP n student on February 18, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    cvj: My point is not to point to a conclusion about NBN/Lozada, just to say that without the topology, I can’t do any seat-of-the-pasts estimation for costs.

    By the way, Pakistan and Algeria have WiMax roll-outs and if one can find them, their cost figures can provide a tiny-bit of insight into “reasonable costs”. Motorola, Cisco and other switch-manufacturer websites can provide numbers for router and other customer-premise equipment costs.

    By the way, a low-ball number for wireless repeaters is $150 or $100 (based on Merkali topology for San Francisco, CA). Merkali seems to say it needs one repeater for every 3 households (in an urban setting) to get good service.

    • cvj on February 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    UPn, in Jarius Bondoc’s Jan 23, 2008, he reports the discrepancies from the industry standard as per telecoms experts. Here’s some of what they say:

    In Equipment, the first major incongruence was the ZTE/DOTC price of $47,649,037 versus the industry estimate of only $12,000,000.

    Also sticking out is the price for WiMax, the microwave system that transmits wireless data over long distances. The contract stipulates 300 WiMax sites. Taking out the modules, telecoms reviewers divided the balance of $27,236,577 by 300, and came up with about $90,000 per site. The usual cost of a site is only $35,000 to $40,000, depending on configuration. The ZTE/DOTC price is 2.3 times higher than industry rates.

    The WiMax CPE cost of ZTE/DOTC totaled $54,840,968 for 25,844 units, or about $2,122 apiece. This is again way above — about seven times more than — the industry average of $300 to $400.

    In all, the Equipment discrepancy was between ZTE/DOTC’s $194,051,628, versus industry estimates of $96,078,246.

    In the Services apparently were hidden the “soft monies.” Site preparation of $48,571,040 was quoted by ZTE for the 300 sites (80 greenfield, 150 rooftop, 70 co-located). This comes up to about $161,000 per site. The industry average is only $40,000 per. This shows the ZTE/DOTC price to be four times the usual.

    Engineering and Management Services in all ran up to $118,695,527 — or 36 percent of the total project cost. At 300 sites, this translates to $395,652 per site, before equipment costs come in. But industry rates range from only 10 to 15 percent of total project costs. Assuming the higher ratio of 15 percent, then the ZTE/DOTC price was 2.4 times the usual.

    The discrepancy in Services was ZTE/DOTC’s $135,429,313 against an industry average of $36,733,786.

    Based on the above, the total overprice is 196 Million USD.

    • justice league on February 18, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    IBFX,

    Regarding your comment of “Problem is, it only works when the whistle blower is not himself/herself corrupt.”; Chavit Singson admitted that he took money (1.2 million Pesos) from the Jueteng operation/protection proceeds in order to give to a gift fund for a necklace (worth at 13 million Pesos) as a present.

    He presented that 1.2 million Pesos as his own. So he benefitted from those illegal operations. Yet his testimony worked against ex-Pres. Estrada.

    • UP n student on February 18, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    cvj: Thanks for those numbers. I did a quick check; the industry does say about-$350 for CPE (like Jarius Bondoc reports).

    By the way, what was the next-best bid, or was this sole-source?

    • mang_isko on February 18, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    justice league, why the testimony of chavit worked against erap?
    1. when chavit came out to the open nobody convince him.
    2. erap was part of plan to kill(?) him when he was running away from the police(?)
    3. there were no theatrics.
    4. no over-acting of priests, nuns and other religious(kuno) people.

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