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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    • ace on February 16, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    “Throw a couple of grenades at the crowd during the next rally” – ptt

    You mean repeat what happened at Plaza Miranda,what a harebrained and gruesome idea.

  1. ZTE GLOBAL SCANDALS:Not only in the Philippines!

    GERMANY:Chinese Companies Face Computer Spy Scandal Fallout

    INDIA: ZTE Security Risk

    Sudan:ZTE quality scandal in Sudan

    • anthony scalia on February 16, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    can there be a moratorium on pontifications/rhetorics on ‘freedom’ please?

    is ‘freedom’ ever threatened in this ‘most democratic’ of all nations in Asia?

    • cvj on February 16, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Anthony, actually we are no longer the ‘most democratic’ nation in Asia. Other countries like South Korea have overtaken us.

    • anthony scalia on February 16, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    ptt, i think that statement reflects on how much you value human life. – cvj

    speaking of reflections…

    The Senators gung-ho in investigating what really is a dead project also reflect their priorities. The pending important bills can wait, pa-pogi muna for 2010.

    • Jackie on February 16, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Anthony Scalia,

    If the senators are not investigating this ‘controversial’ NBN deal, who will investigate? Do you think wew can get a fair probe by the Dept of Injustice? Same with Ambotsman dept. We need the Senate to moderate these magnanakaw’s greed…

    • Phil Cruz on February 16, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez has today warned Cabinet members planning to attend the Mass organized by former President Corazon Aquino at La Salle Greenhills tomorrow that they would be sacked for doing so.

    That only means one thing. Malacanang has gotten word that some Cabinet officials are planning to attend the Mass which could set off another chain of events leading to Arroyo’s downfall.

    Now Raul Gonzales is threatening his peers?! Desperation and panic, indeed, Malacanang is in.

    • anthony scalia on February 16, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    cvj,

    South Korea is now the ‘most democratic’ according to a ‘survey’. I have misgivings on quantifications of something qualitative like ‘freedom’.

    Lets see South Korean media do what Pinoy media are doing, South Korean militants stage Pinoy-militant-style rallies round the clock, South Koreans attempt pocket ‘people power’ all year long, and watch how its government will react.

    • ace on February 16, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    “The Senators gung-ho in investigating what really is a dead project” – anthony scalia

    If I may ask, what came first, the senate investigation or the mothballing of the project?

  2. Anthony, actually we are no longer the ‘most democratic’ nation in Asia. Other countries like South Korea have overtaken us.

    What I know is that here in this country, journalists, bloggers and critics can call Gloria any name.

    Hillary made it clear that running for presidential election is just a second priority to her family. So when an anchorperson called Chelsea’s effort to help her mom in the campaign some “pimping”, Hillary did not take it sitting down.

    What freedom are we talking about?

    And I thought the rally was to express outrage to the corruption as exposed by Lozada?

    I just hate looking at JDV3 posing as if he’s a hero. And I am just pissed off watching these rallyists collect money from drivers. Saan napupunta ang perang ito? May audit din ba? O may corruption din sa mga perang nacocollect.

    The red flag bearers have been in every rallies that I could remember regardless of who’s in the admin. For them, no one is fit to be a leader except their annointed person. Sheesh.

    • cvj on February 16, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Anthony, if you have “misgivings on quantifications of something qualitative like ‘freedom’“, then on what basis did you arrive at a conclusion that the Philippines is “the ‘most democratic’ of all nations in Asia“?

    • mang_isko on February 16, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    scalia, you mean “most dramatic” in asia?

    • anthony scalia on February 16, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Jackie,

    in theory, the Senate investigation is ‘in aid of legislation’. meaning, a new legislation will come out of the investigations. however, chances are, no new legislation will come out. a mere committee report will be the output, full of ‘recommendations’ whom to prosecute for what.

    Senators are legislators, not investigators.

    But Senators can be the complainants themselves. How come no one is doing it?

    If the intent is to prosecute the wrongdoers, no Senate investigation is necessary. Anyone can initiate a case. The DOJ is just one avenue.

    besides, the deal is dead. no government money was spent. at best, there was only an attempt.

    yes yes the project was shelved last year only because of the scandal. if the NBN-ZTE deal would be the basis for prosecution, no crime is consummated. at best, there is only an attempt.

    the earlier approval was not due to Abalos’ offer of P200M.

    not to discount actual money flowing into the line department responsible for implementing the deal. but basing from the Senate testimonies alone, all Neri did was approve the project then ‘feel helpless’ as the line department implements the project

    Lozada? At best he can only testify on the overpricing. The rest, though not necessarily hearsay, just amount to statements uttered by other people. In other words, Lozada can only attest that so-and-so uttered such-and-such. As for the truthfulness of the statements made by other people, more evidence is needed.

    • anthony scalia on February 16, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    cvj,

    based from writings of local media not identified nor perceived as Malacañang ‘paid hacks’ and also from observations of some foreign media. and based from my own observations of the ‘Asian Tigers’

    if you’re looking for a quantified evaluation of ‘most democratic’ then i can’t give any.

    • Mita on February 16, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Why are you asking when Benigno last voted in Philippine elections? Did anyone ask that about anybody else who comments here?

    I have to admit, I had misgivings about Benigno when I first encountered him in other blogs because of the online “persona” he took back then…but what he says actually makes a lot of sense even if you don’t agree. You get a better view from afar sometimes…that way, it’s valuable. And Benigno being Pinoy, it’s valid.

    YEAH, can everyone please stop talking about FREEDOM like it was Martial Law all over again …sumobra nga ang freedom kaya umabot na ng ganito…

    I lived through the first quarter storm right next to
    UP-Diliman and then Martial Law as an impressionable kid – what we have now is NOT IT – so please let’s not talk about fighting for freedom, tapos na yung laban na yon – WE HAVE IT ALREADY.

    ps. this appeal is just to get things on track…

    • anthony scalia on February 16, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    ace,

    the investigation came first, then the scrapping. i was talking about the ‘resurrected’ Senate ‘inquiry’ in ‘aid of legislation’, not the 2007 version. thats why i said ‘dead project’. when the 2007 investigations were ongoing, the deal was about to be actually implemented.

    • ace on February 16, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    anthony,
    I think, the term “resurrected” is a misnomer since the investigation was not yet finished, it never was considered “dead”, the hearings were deferred due to the conference attended last year by some senators abroad and the Senate recess (christmas break) and besides your “2007 version” complicates the issue since it connotes that there are two versions (2007 version and the 2008 version) but the crux of the matter is that there is only one unfinished NBN-ZTE inquiry/investigation.

    Since the issue that you raise are the priorities of the Senate, it is incumbent upon the senators to finish the inquiry that they have started and on the other hand tackle the priority bills that are pending. I think the issue here is proper docketing of these priorities.

    • mang_isko on February 16, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    parang mga addicted yata ‘tong mga maka-commun(ist)al action. they are dreaming again of another people power. sawa na po ang mga tao. pag-asenso at kabuhayan na lang ang ating atupagin.
    kapag kayo na ang nasa kapangyarihan kawawa ang pilipinas at kayo-kayo rin ang magpapatayan.
    akala nyo ba matatahimik ang pilipinas? hindi ah!
    kaya maghintay-hintay kayo sa 2010. wag nyong sunugin ang nag-iisang bahay natin.

    • cvj on February 16, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Si Mang Isko naman, pinatatamaan si ptt.

    • mang_isko on February 16, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    masakit man itong dinggin pero kailangang sabihin.
    ang magdadasal sa la salle bukas ay 100% ay may maling budhi laban sa kanyang kapwa. may ini-expect sila na gustong mangyari. wag na tayong magmaangmaangan. papasok pa lang kayo sa dasalan, basa na ng DIYOS ang mga laman ng mga puso at utak ninyo.
    diringgin ba yan ng DIYOS?
    hayyy….naku. kung ako kayo di na ako magdarasal diyan.
    NAKAKAHIYA sa DIYOS.
    para bagang minamanipula natin SIYA.

    • cvj on February 16, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Iyan ang ‘most dramatic’.

    • Bencard on February 16, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    san-ayon ako diyan mang_isko. napakasakit isipin na ilan sa ating mga kababayan ay walang pakundangang ginagamit ang Diyos at relihion para sa kanilang makamundong hangarin. itong mga pare at obispo na mahilig sumawsaw sa pulitika at pamamahala ang siyang sumisira ng paniniwala sa simbahang pangkalahatan. hindi ba nila naiisip na kaya pinaghiwalay ng ating konstitusion ang gobierno at simbahan ay upang maiwasan ang ganitong panghihimasok. talagang mahirap maalis and mga pagu-ugaling padre damaso sa ating lipunan.

    ito namang si cory, dapa’t yata mag-madre. alam natin kong ano ang nasa puso’t isip niya sa pagpa-padaos ng ganitong misa. sa tuwing isama niya ang kanyang pangalan sa mga kilusang pagpapatalsik sa pangulo, lumiliit ang kanyang impluensiya sa aking paningin. mabuti pa seguro, manahimik na lang siya para hindi na mabahiran pa ang ala-ala ng kanyang administrasion at ang pagkabayani ng kanyang yumaong butihing asawa.

    • mang_isko on February 16, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    “mabuti pa seguro, manahimik na lang siya para hindi na mabahiran pa ang ala-ala ng kanyang administrasion. . .”

    nabahiran na ben. yong infamous na “Kamag-anak Inc.”, yong massacre sa mendiola nangyari sa admin nya hindi lang alam ng tao kung bakit humantong sa ganyang pangyayari. at katawa-tawa pa kung nagra-rally nga militante isinisisi pa kay gloria ang mga ito.
    wika nga: ang isang kasinungalingan na palaging sinasambit na isang katotohanan sa huli nagiging totoo sa pag-iisip ng iilan.
    dyan sila magaling! hehehe

    • Madonna on February 17, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Tell THAT to the people who voted for Trillianes.

    Benigno,

    I may not have voted for Trillanes myself, but the fact is he was voted into office by sufficient number of people enough to win a Senate seat. That is just how democracy works and the will of the people has to be respected.

    And fyi, mate, as for your ass esconced in Australia I don’t give a damn who you personally vote for into office there.

    And please cut the crap — stop using “we” (Filipinos) in your statements because obviously there is no you in “we”.

    • Mike on February 17, 2008 at 1:39 am

    So far, recent history has shown that rallies are ineffective unless two vital conditions are present:

    One, is the existence of a tough economic environment.

    Second, the presence of an armed component, primarily the Armed Forces, to tilt the balance of power. – Jude

    Actually, I’d go even as far as to say that the second is the critical requirement. If the military doesn’t withdraw support, the best that civil society can do is bring things to a standstill.

    Having said that, I believe that People Power isn’t an overnight thing: these rallies are there, on one hand, to provide an outlet for people to express their anger with the Arroyo administration, and on the other hand, to remind those whose patience is running out that if they decide to act, they will not be alone. And the longer the administration continues its Mafia-like governance, the higher the likelihood of people’s patience running out.

    And as for your tough economic environment, that may not be very far off, what with the weak dollar increasing the burdens of OFWs and an imminent US recession.

    • hvrds on February 17, 2008 at 1:41 am

    The real truth about Cardinal Sin’s actions in Edsa I was in direct contrast of his critical collaboration with marcos in theealry years of martial law.

    He set into motion the split in the church which led to the politization of the heirarchy of the church from the base. Priests and nuns became openly lefitist and joined the struggle vs. Marcos. Bishop Fortich became the symbol of the church’s struggle vs. Marcos. Those nuns that came out during Edsa I and all the religious congregations that supported the insurgency vs. marcos came out in open. Cardinal Sin was head of the largest archdiocese – Manila. The religious orders generally supported the struggle. The top supported the government.

    in then end to prevent the outbreak of violence cardinal son gavethe order to all parish priests in Manila to lead their congregations. The people were already ready for the call. theeconomic conditions and the killing of Ninoy had created the drought that expanded from the spark set up by the military mutiny.

    It was only B. Aquinos’ group and few activists who went to Edsa. Marcos could have easily crushed the mutiny. Sin’s call galvanized the organized forces within the Church that was already heavily politicized and you had the perfect recipefor the mass movement to gell. When businessman saw it gelling they pured the funds necessary to keep it going.

    It was the activist church that Sin inadvertently created with his collaboration with Marcos that eventually with the progressive blocs cretaed Edsa I.

    Naturally Sin and Cory the symbols of the movement became the heroes. The hundreds of named and unamed people were forgotten who were killed and disappeared.

    The so called revolution simply became the channging of the guard to the keys of the treasury in the Palace.

    The state went back to its usual model of cannibalizing its own citizens.

    The left devoured itself and today it has become almost a non-entity.

    • Mike on February 17, 2008 at 1:48 am

    I forgot to include in my last post:

    But if civil society does in fact bring things to a standstill, that situation does not last long–you see either an EDSA 1/EDSA 2, or a Tiananmen Square.

    • mlq3 on February 17, 2008 at 2:02 am
      Author

    re: the senate. oversight. oversight. oversight. oversight. oversight.

    re: “you have freedom,” and “it’s not like martial law, i remember martial law.” it’s never reenacted in exactly the same manner and it can (and by necessity) will be different the next time around in its particulars but the intent can remain the same or be even worse. in certain ways marcos was more liberal, this government more restrictive, in other ways marcos was more restrictive and this government more liberal. but so what? the net effect is the same and even worse the next time around.

    • ramrod on February 17, 2008 at 2:13 am

    benigno,

    Mediocrity is the result of an absence of PASSION. I can easily spot people who have potential or not – I look for the fire inside. You’ll be surprised how many activists are really achievers, they are not so embroiled in their own problems of survival because they are not on survival mode – they have the time, the resources, and the heart to think about others.

    • Bencard on February 17, 2008 at 2:13 am

    with mlq3’s permission, let me try to reach out to all my co-bicolanos in this blog, whether or not in agreement with my political views, to support the modernization of the southrail project of the gma administration. of course, i also solicit the help of all open-minded non-bicolanos who are willing to set aside their political persuasions for the welfare of the country.

    the bicol region is truly a land of promise. the beauty of its countrysides, the richness of its natural resources, the vibrancy of its cities, and the natural friendliness of its people need no further elaborate description. it’s pure gem waiting to be set in gold.

    as a little boy, i remember traveling by train with my family from iconic tutuban station all the way to sorsogon. train travel was reliable, comfortable, safe and affordable.

    • pilipinoparin on February 17, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Scalia…”besides, the deal is dead. no government money was spent. at best, there was only an attempt.

    yes yes the project was shelved last year only because of the scandal. if the NBN-ZTE deal would be the basis for prosecution, no crime is consummated. at best, there is only an attempt.”

    I’m not a lawyer, but how do you explain attempted murder, attempted robbery, etc? Attempted corruption has entirely different implications? Just asking.

    • Geo on February 17, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Every day that this nation survives as a nation…is a beautiful thing…..

    • kimosabe27 on February 17, 2008 at 3:34 am

    Let me be upfront.

    GMA’s southrail project should be abandoned and a more transparent, more comprehensive southrail project should be implemented (of course after the diminutive kleptomaniac is already rotting behind bars!) As a Bicolano growing up riding the economy class from Camarines Sur to Manila, I have been a witness to the deterioration due to the rabid corruption at the PNR. Stop the thievery first! Everything else is wishful thinking

    Bicolandia is not only renowned for its scenic beauty. It is also famed for its “oragon” dissident culture.

    • grd on February 17, 2008 at 3:52 am

    And as for those who want freedom but are not willing to work for it? Get off your lazy asses! You’ve been freeloading far too long you gutless, pitiful, spineless, bunch of cowards! Freedom with responsibility my ass! Work for it first! Then moderate it, talaga naman some lazy bastards will say anything to justify doing nothing… ramrod February 16th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    dapat mabisita rin nila ang blog ni mlq3 para matauhan.

    … “The Filipinos might try to go beyond the “Oust GMA” noise and see if there is logic to her direction or vision.

    I have this impression that the opposition has adopted a “scorched earth” strategy to discredit if not demolish the present administration no matter what the cost – even to the point of sabotaging the economy just to prove a point.”

    …I admit during that time, I gave instructions to the whole company to take the afternoon off and join the movement to oust Erap and went there myself to witness “history in the making.” The Civil Society is nothing but a bunch of opportunists and after seeing the events that unfolded “after the fact” I vowed never again to be duped into leading people to their doom.
    My point is that we should be wary of who we listen to or follow. If we go back to basics “review our contract” in this case our “constitution,” as this is supposedly our guide on how to manage our country. Check our leaders, are they abiding with the contract or bull shitting us? In the end, it will be another mistake to replace a standing administration “unconstitutionally,” we have to let nature run its course and allow “democratic processes” to eventually free us from this delima… ramrod on September 29th, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    • Bencard on February 17, 2008 at 4:04 am

    “it is also famed for its “oragon” dissident culture.” kimosabe27.

    so, where is bicol now as a region? except for moderately progressive camarines sur (my birth province), bicol is a vast, economically depressed, territory despite its rich gold and iron mines, fishing grounds, geothermal power sources, copra and hemp. it has never produced a president compared to ilocos (2) and mere provinces like pampanga (2) tayabas (1) zambales (1), bohol (1), capiz (1), pangasinan (1) and tarlac (1). i don’t think we can advance by just being contentious or “oragon”. we also have to be smart.

    a lot of good opportunities are lost by too much obsession with politics and divisiveness. what more comprehensive project are you talking about? it so happened that this “diminutive kleptomaniac” you so despise is the only one who has taken interest, and has present ability, to make things happen in a positive way for all bicolanos (including those who hate her).

    • Bencard on February 17, 2008 at 4:08 am

    btw, i don’t think we even had a bicolano senator until edmundo cea who won under magsaysay’s ticket, which swept the senatorial election in 1954.

    • Bencard on February 17, 2008 at 4:25 am

    btw #2, the deterioration of MRR (bicol) started during the marcos regime and became worst under cory when squatting along the railroad and thievery of railroad ties and iron rails became more rampant. in 1961 (under macapagal) the “bicol express” was still generally clean and running on schedule on a railway system largely unimpeded by squatters.

    • hawaiianguy on February 17, 2008 at 4:28 am

    kimosabe27: “GMA’s southrail project should be abandoned and a more transparent, more comprehensive southrail project should be implemented..”

    How about the northrail project? It is also as tainted, if Enrile is to be believed. He accused JoeDV for “meddling” and justifying that “it is good for the country.”

    For me, the NBN-ZTE deal is just the tip of an iceberg. Maybe the greed in those two (or three) other projects has just been “moderated.”

    • mlq3 on February 17, 2008 at 5:28 am
      Author

    bencard, from 1916-1934 the bicol region was included in the senatorial districts. see the sixth senatorial district list here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senatorial_districts_of_the_Philippines

    the first nationally-elected senate ticket to win in 1941 was geographically balanced: In that election, twenty-four senators were elected to fill the restored senate: Antonio de las Alas, from Batangas; Aluyao Alonto from Mindanao; Melencio Arranz; Nicolas Buendia (of Buendia Ave. fame); Mariano Jesus Cuenco of Cebu; Ramon Fernandez,; Carlos P. Garcia, from Bohol; Pedro Hernaez; Domingo Imperial from Bicol; Vicente Madrigal from Bicol; Daniel Maramba from the Ilocos; Rafael Martinez from Leyte; Jose Ozamis (later killed by the Japanese and after whom Ozamis city was named); Quintin Paredes of the Ilocos; Elpidio Quirino, from the Ilocos; Vicente Rama; Esteban de la Rama; Claro M. Recto; Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez; Manuel Roxas of Capiz; Emiliano Tria Tirona; Proceso Sebastian, also Ilocano; Ramon Torres; and Jose Yulo of Negros. Imperial and Madrigal, I believe, were both re-elected after rhe war, too.

    • Bencard on February 17, 2008 at 7:23 am

    mlq3, thanks for the heads up. much obliged. was’nt pacita madrigal-warns, a bicolana, also elected under rm’s ticket, the first lady senator of the philippines?

    correction to my previous post: cebu also had one president (osmena), albeit a successor to president quezon, and who lost re-election to roxas.

    • Mita on February 17, 2008 at 7:30 am

    mlq3,

    yes it CAN be but right now it IS NOT or we won’t have Pinoy bloggers and the Inquirer would be shut down….and your hair would be long again…

    yes, we should GUARD our freedom…with our lives when necessary…this is not the time. This is the time to fight corruption, we have different ways of approaching it perhaps, but the focus has to be right or nothing is going to be achieved.

    • Kabayan on February 17, 2008 at 7:32 am

    A gathering and a mass today Sunday, February 17, 2008, 10 AM La Salle Greenhills Mass for Jun Lozada and family called by Pres. Cory Aquino and La Salle Brothers.

    For those who see that newly Arroyo installed CCTV “traffic” camera in front of the La Salle gate, give it a holler and a *?#0^%” sign.

    Steady as it goes guys and gals 😉

    BTW don’t forget the Northrail project that Gloria had rushed to sign (after the collapse of the ZTE deal).If corruption reports are true, then the spoils of that transaction has likely been already divided and feasted upon. The list grows longer.

    • Bencard on February 17, 2008 at 8:00 am

    hah, leave it to pinoy to keep shooting himself on the foot. is there anything that can be accomplished without a concerted effort to undermine it through allegations of scandal? who would ever take the initiative if he/she knew he/she would be torpedoed by all kinds of suspicions, accusations and allegations of wrongdoing?

    it’s time the filipino should become more discerning, not only to real acts of corruption, but also to ill-motivated, bad-faith accusations of it that are never substantiated but are nevertheless damaging to the nation. otherwise, we will just be marching in place without moving an inch or go as far as a stationary bicycle could take us – to nowhere!

    • Kabayan on February 17, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Keep the fire going, make it a steady sustained effort. Patience … harbor no expectations of “instant noodle” victory. Let us degrade and ultimately remove corruption from our midst.

    • hvrds on February 17, 2008 at 9:34 am

    The good news is that the Ombudsman , the permanent special prosecutorial agency created to go after corrupt government offcials will start an inestigation into the ZTE affair.

    The bad news is that this will be a complete PR offensive to clear the government. So the show moves to the Office of the Ombusman.

    In every investigation of government malfeasance I can remember is the Special Prosecutor will subpeona all the documentation in the affair to include phone records, bank accounts, contracts mail and e-mail. Even ZTE, the private corporation which has established a representative office, here will be subject to the investigation and subpeonas.

    Another issue is the budget to undertake the investigation. During the Erap impeachment the call went out to volunteer lawyers to come in and go over the evidence gathered.

    Even the NEDA records will have to be subpeonaed.

    No one can bring up issues of nationalsecurity on this issue as this is strictly a commercial contract between governments that is open to scrutiny.

    Nixon was never found guilty no evidence was ever found to show that it was he who ordered the burglary but evidence came out later that he was caught obstructing justice. Libby recntly was sentenced for also simply lying to the investigators.

    Just like Big Al, they got him for tax evasion and not for murder or drug running.

    Does this office have the balls to do the job? Not very likely but we can pray to be surprised.

    After all miracles do happen. Mannings pass to David Tyree in the dying seconds of the last Super Bowl entered the NY Giants historical folklore.

    From the jaws of defeat they pulled out a victory. Millions saw a Hail Mary pass completed proving that all things come to those who are committed. Even in the darkest times of facing defeat against an undefeated champion they pulled it out.

    The rule of law is a strong division of labor to complete the entire process of law enforcement. Will the state be up to it?

    • benign0 on February 17, 2008 at 10:05 am

    “And please cut the crap — stop using “we” (Filipinos) in your statements because obviously there is no you in “we”.” — Madonna

    Tough luck, Ms Madonna. I don’t think Cardinal Sin crowned you Queen of the Philippines to give you the authority to determine who is and who isn’t “Filipino”.

    And besides, think of what you are saying next time some Fil-Am (US citizen) achieves something in the U.S. and then gets celebrated in the next ‘Bandila’ program in their “Astig” segment. You’ll see a lot of “we”s being mentioned. 😀

    That’s yet another case of Pinoys “shooting themselves on the foot” as the esteemed Bencard would put it.

    • benign0 on February 17, 2008 at 10:11 am

    “Keep the fire going, make it a steady sustained effort. Patience … harbor no expectations of “instant noodle” victory” — Kabayan

    Funny you should mention that. Instant noodles pretty much epitomise the pathos of Pinoys today.

    (1) Instant noodles are the food of choice for those who merely stumble from one meal to another.

    (2) A diet of instant noodles is a slow poisoning. You scrimp on healthy meals by feasting on this stuff everyday for years only to be slugged by huge medical bills later in life. (Kind of like our addiction to street rallies — slow social poisoning and a gradual descent to global laughingstock status of Pinoy society)

    (3) Instant noodles are big business. Too bad some lowlifes here hate the owners of these businesses so much.

    And by the way, you said “stady sustained effort”.

    May I ask: Steady and sustained effort on WHAT exactly? 😀

    • jude on February 17, 2008 at 10:37 am

    “And as for your tough economic environment, that may not be very far off, what with the weak dollar increasing the burdens of OFWs and an imminent US recession.”

    While the effects of the subprime mess in the U.S. could well affect Asia further on, that still remains to be seen. Economic trends are being closely watched on a monthly and quarterly basis. Based on data from the last quarter of 2007, Asia has remained quite resilient. China, for example, has retained it’s breakneck speed of growth even up to the end of 2007. And, as economic statistics have revealed, the Philippines continued to grow at a surprisingly strong pace well to the end of 2007.

    There will always be naysayers who will squabble about the fact that economic conditions have been pretty good in the past few years. But nitpick all they want, the fact remains that, overall, the nation isn’t unsatisfied with the economy. And that remains the reason why, despite the political noise, people are reluctant to take drastic action.

    It is anticipated, however, that Asia will not sustain this kind of growth in 2008, although it is still expected to be at a respectable pace. The subprime crisis still hasn’t peaked and the extent of the fallout is difficult to forecast. Nobody has a crystal ball, not even Ben Bernanke and his slew of economists. So the best economic forecasts are still only calculations and educated guesses.

    Waiting for the outcome of this financial crisis are camps of “optimists” and “pessimists”. It won’t be surprising at all that there will be a number of rabid oppositionists who will be wishing the worst for our country. They will be praying very hard that the U.S. subprime crisis engulfs the Philippines and brings down its economy. Misery loves company and it is to their interest to see people unhappy so that they will join their ranks.

    • ramrod on February 17, 2008 at 10:49 am

    There’s a pattern everytime these GMA dogs speak, they always harp on “40 years na as a lawyer, businessman, etc., inalagaan ang pangalan…” always, nagmamalinis. I have always been suspicious of people who appear and sound “holier than thou” – mostly they have trouble even convincing themselves they are.
    People who have reached for their dreams passionately have at least been dirty at one point in their lives, I’m not at all innocent of corruption myself – we are put in an environment where our orientation is one of compromise, we all go through the same test, most of us fail, but then we accept the truth and change. Evolution did not happen overnight, but at least change starts with coming to terms with the truth. Abalos, Atienza, Asperon, Arroyo, names they say they kept clean, how, by making sure they weren’t caught? 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?
    Most of us can relate with Lozada, we don’t say we are better or cleaner or holier than anyone else, we’re just ordinary imperfect people, we make mistakes but the difference is, unlike some – we don’t make a career out of it.

    • james on February 17, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I would only care if Lozada would also reveal the ‘permissible’transactions he has done. How much share he has gotten from the mulitple “permissible 60 million’ transactions.

    How much of his wealth now belongs to the tax payers?

    After enriching himself with these ‘permissible 60 million’ he’s out to save his own skin !

    He’s no hero!! they way he calls his assistant at first forest ‘hudas’ for giving the authorities papers needed for investigation characterizes this man. Maybe atienza can call him hudas also.

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