My column for today is It’s how you play the game. You can refer to the following related stories: SC justice admits playing golf with Neri, but won’t inhibit self, and SC justice won’t inhibit from NBN case, and Drilon urges Corona to inhibit from Neri case, and 5 named to list for Supreme Court justice. as well as New SC justice could be swing vote for Arroyo in Neri case.
Incidentally, the debate over what Lozada said, brings up the difficulty of accessing information, including records -and that means, transcripts, too- paid for with taxpayer money and which ought to be freely-accessible. Please read the Team RP Petition for a Freedom of Access to Information Law and sign up if you agree with their advocacy. For example, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, it is easier to figure out who was what in previous administrations, as well as surveying presidential activities and official documents, than it is under the present or recent dispensations.
Another case in point is that the transcripts of Senate hearings are only available on paper, for a fee, and I’ve heard it suggested that this is done so as to provide an income stream to government clerks. The result is that besides having to pay for hard copy, any group or individual that wants to refer to the testimony has to encode the transcripts, which can only compound whatever errors already exist, and which serves as a deterrent to the widespread discussion and study of the conduct and contents of those hearings.
I have appended the exchange at the end of this entry.
In other news, RP draws from regional emergency rice reserve.
Overseas, two interesting stories in the Asia Sentinel website. First, Malaysia’s Political Earthquake: The ruling national coalition takes its biggest beating since independence , with this interesting description of recent political dynamics:
Although Abdullah Badawi took office in 2002 as a reformer succeeding Mahathir, he has yet to deliver on the promise of change to the extent that voters wanted. Although the stock market is up 60 percent since he took office and to some extent cronyism has been discouraged and some of Mahathir’s more grandiose projects have been put on hold, there has been widespread disgust over surging crime rates, increasingly tense race relations, spiralling inflation and a perception of corruption, particularly at the top of UMNO, due to a long series of highly public scandals.
The coalition sought to counter public anger by offering a wide range of official projects to win voters, from scholarships for rural and poor families to increased infrastructure spending to an offer to train thousand of new policemen. Nonetheless, the coalition’s ability to mobilize voters by using the levers of power didn’t work. The MCA in particular was riven with factionalism, with the party reeling over a sex scandal that drove Chua Soi Lek, one of Malaysia’s most powerful Chinese politicians, from office in January. Publication of a videotape of the episode was widely believed to have been made by rivals within the party. UMNO also suffered from infighting as Abdullah Badawi dropped several old party members from the election rolls only to have them fight back against newer, cleaner figures.
(Check out Malaysian blogger-turned-MP Jeff Ooi’s blog, Screenshots, for an interesting snapshot in how he and fellow oppositionists are preparing for the political transition in the state they won).
And second, Singapore Reels over a Missing Fugitive: The Island Republic’s fugitive terrorist runs circles around authorities, which has been an ongoing story of a city-state unused to failure and worse, criticism:
But the most common sentiment appears to be not that lives are in danger because a dangerous terrorist has escaped and may yet manage to blow up Singaporean buildings. It is growing derision at the sheer apparent incompetence of authorities usually so keen to praise their own efficiency, particularly in matters of security…
Whatever else can be said about Singapore, its government has long regarded itself as the most grimly efficient and accomplished in Asia, and it does not brook any nonsense. Kastari’s escape and the subsequent inability of authorities to find him have called that into question.
Singapore’s most prized asset is competence and the willingness to pay for it with taxpayer funds. Ministers and civil servants, already by far the highest-paid public servants in the world, received a round of pay raises starting on January 1 ranging from 4 percent to 21 percent, driving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s salary to S$3.7 million (US$2.55 million), more than six times that of US President George W. Bush. Cabinet ministers, including Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng, apologizing while under intense fire for Kastari’s escape, receive S$1.9 million (US$1.37 million).
Its civil servants are among the highest paid in the world. The government has long taken the stance that public officials should receive pay commensurate with the top of the country’s business elite, both to attract top talent and to forestall any temptation toward corruption.
Thus the ability of a crippled ethnic Malay to walk away from the most securely guarded prison on an island of only 700 square kilometers, and to remain on the loose since February 27, has not only generated a huge amount of controversy, but a growing amount of ridicule of the government, which is being recycled endlessly in cyberspace, often in the form of jokes. This is not something a government as humorless as Singapore’s is finding funny.
Incidentally, the article ends by saying the escape is a Black Swan Event, a concept developed in a book I’m currently reading (and enjoying!), “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
Also, in relation to the story on Malaysia, see this news item: RP warned FDIs shunning it. The article says,
Michael Clancy, chairman of the Philippine Business Leaders’ Forum, said the Philippines is no longer attracting foreign direct investments due to a wide range of corruption and Manila’s overdependence on “bad” loans from China….
In an internal survey of the members of the PBLF composed of 40 companies from Europe, United States and Australia, there was a shared belief that at least 50 percent of the project costs in doing business goes to “commissions” and only 10 per cent of the total investment is being used for facilitation, and the remainder for implementation.
Among the 40 companies surveyed, nobody aired plans to pour in additional investments.
“Those who invested here already, they’re committed to staying and not pulling out. But in terms of asset management mode, they’re not looking to expand because it’s too hard… everywhere you turn [in the government system] somebody got his hand [on] money, everybody wants something under the table,” Clancy lamented.
He said foreign companies that have invested in China are seeking back-up investments in the region “but they are not looking at the Philippines as they would prefer Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.”…
…Meanwhile, he stressed that Manila’s overdependence on China also sends wrong signal to Western investors.
“We were involved in European investment delegation here two years ago to look at investment prospects, but government officials [whom we’ve met] told us, ‘we don’t need your money anymore, we have China now, we can get all money we need from China,'” said Clancy.
Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial, Most corrupt, points out the limitations, but still serious implications, of yet another survey of foreign businessmen in the region. But it points to impressions that affect business, as also indicated by the article quoted above.
But even as Arroyo ‘thrilled’ for passing US firm’s anti-corruption test, there are those who disagree. In Ex-Cabinet members: GMA ‘at the center’ of corruption in NBN-ZTE deal and Former gov’t finance officials: Economy ‘not gaining momentum’ , you can read about the views of former government officials who contest the present government’s policies:
1. There is growing concern among experts about glaring and unprecedented inconsistencies in official statistics on growth, income and poverty that raise doubts about the reliability of the economic growth data.
2. Even recent official poverty statistics affirm that whatever economic growth was achieved in the past five years has benefited only a few.
3. This “growth” had even swelled the ranks of the poor by almost four million additional Filipinos. Poverty has risen not only in absolute numbers, but in relative terms as well, with the proportion of poor families rising from 24 percent to 27 percent between 2003 and 2006.
“Our economy cannot gain momentum when its actual growth is much lower than its reported numbers, when whatever growth occurred benefited only a few, when more Filipinos slide into poverty despite this growth,” they said.
Here is the unexpurgated transcript of the controversial exchange between Senator Joker Arroyo and Jun Lozada:Lozada-Senate Transcript.pdf (I have italicized the portions Solita Monsod chose to quote, in the overall extract below; you can also compare her account of the TV interview with this one in Alaverde 33, of course Monsod does not mention Abaya’s story changing)
May I now recognize Senator arroyo.
SEN. ARROYO, Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My preliminary statement should not be deducted from my time because here is the crux of my thesis. Mr. Lozada, your family filed a petition for Habeas Corpus in the Supreme Court and a petition for a Writ of Amparo before the Supreme Court. That case would be heard by direction of the Supreme Court which I inquired this morning will be heard by the Court of Appeals on February 14, Thursday.
Now, I would address this now to the Committee. The same questions which we discussed for 7 hours will be the same issue that will be discussed in the Supreme Court — in the Court of Appeals. So, I ask the question addressed to the Committee, not to the resource persons. Since this is a Writ of Habeas Corpus and a Writ of Amparo, the decision will come in very fast. It’s a lighting decision. Supposing the decision of the Court of Appeals which was directed by the Supreme Court is different from our findings, what do we do?
You have here a case of the same subject matter, the same parties; Cusi, Lina, Atutubo, Razon, all of them are also respondents in the court. Now, that’s what’s going to be heard by the Court of Appeals, so we spent time here discussing what will be heard in the Court of Appeals. So what do we do ?
So I ask now this question. Mr. Lozada, you filed the Petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus at 1 o’clock on Wednesday when you were already free, you were no longer under restraint. And the Petition for the Writ of Amparo at 4 o’clock on Wednesday, February 6. Now, I ask you, why did you not sign the petitions when you could have signed it and instead asked your wife to sign the petition and Arthur Lozada who is your brother, to sign the petition. Now, why is it like that? Meaning, when you ask for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and Writ of Amparo, well, you are the petitioner, why you asked your wife, you asked your brother. Why did you have to do that? I don’t mean to ask you because you’re not a lawyer but if Atty. Bautista can answer for you as an honest lawyer for him, fine.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A.). Well, sir, if you want the lawyers to answer, I think the lawyers who filed the cases are behind you.
SEN. ARROYO. Yes. I think that the Ateneo Human Rights Center must be required by the Committee to answer that because he was already free. He could sign it but he still asked Mrs. Lozada. So, the other one is the one for Arthur Lozada, the brother of Mr. Lozada had a different set of lawyers so we can ask Mr. Lozada and for him to require to sign, because this is forum shopping which is condemned by the Supreme Court. You cannot go to — the same subject matter, the same issue, you go to two different forums? Supposing that the decisions of the two forums, the Senate and the Supreme Court would be different, what do we do? So I raised that question as an administrative matter, Mr. Chairman.
Second, I want to ask Mr. Lozada, your ticket when you went abroad, how were you ticketed? What’s the itinerary?
MR. LOZADA, Hanggang Hong Kong lamang po.
SEN. ARROYO. Your travel order was supposed to be to London to attend a conference yet you got a ticket yourself — somebody here said it was a credit card, I don’t know who. Now, if you were going to London because you were going to attend an environmental conference, and that was the travel authority that you solicited from the head of office, that is Secretary Atienza, does that not smack of bad faith that you never really intended to go to London as you represented, but only up to Hong Kong? I mean, these are the matters. I am putting this all for you, you can answer me later because I don’t want to lose sight of this.
Now the other one is this. I noticed in the previous testimony that when you departed, I don’t know what date, ABS-CBN asked permission to cover it. I mean, there is something here on testimony, I don’t know who. Now who knew about your departure, Mr. Lozada?
MR. LOZADA. Should I answer now?
SEN. ARROYO. Sure go ahead.
MR. LOZADA. Secretary Neri. A lot of people, sir, knew about my departure.
SEN. ARROYO. All right. So, in other words, never mind that ABS-CBN because — now the other one is that you mentioned about the North Rail. Are you aware of the fact that the Senate investigated the North Rail? This is a bigger issue than the ZTE. Or you’re not aware of that?
MR. LOZADA. Not, not…
SEN. ARROYO. But the Senate did not make a committee report. Investigated it but did not make a committee report. I want that on record.
MR. LOZADA. I did not know that.
SEN. ARROYO. Yes. My questions are brief because it’s really for the committee report.
I want to ask Secretary Mike. You mentioned Maritess Vitug whom I know, you know and many of us. Did you clear your statements with her?
MR. DEFENSOR. Yes, Your Honor.
SEN. ARROYO. You quoted her freely.
MR. DEFENSOR. Your Honor, noon pong unang lumabas ‘yong mga statements, hindi pa po ako nagsasalita. Then I called her up. Sabi ko, “Maritess, I’m asking clearance from you. Maaari bang pag nagsalita ako, particularly in the Senate, can you give me clearance?” Sabi n’ya, “Pertaining to What?” Sabi ko, “Pertaining to all the discussions we’ve had, kasi the timeline, I’m trying to fix it.” And sabi n’ya, “Sige, basta as long Mike, malinaw. I was asking you as a journalist and you were responding.” Sabi ko, “Yes, Maritess. In fact
SEN. ARROYO. In other words, she knew — and whatever you said — if she will be asked even in writing so that we don’t bother her, she will confirm it?
MR. DEFENSOR. Yes, Your Honor.
SEN. ARROYO. Now, Secretary Atienza, there was a naughty question of Senator Escudero about insinuations, which I really want to find out because …
Senator Lacson said that way back in December, he was already talking to you.
MR. LOZADA. Yes.
SEN. ARROYO. That’s what he said. I don’t know whether I was quoted wrong, but way back in December he was talking to you?
MR. ATIENZA. Sino po ba ang tinutukoy, Mr. Chairman, ako po ba o …?
SEN. ARROYO. Si Mr. Lozada. All right, Now if that is true that you were talking to Senator Lacson, now you have not talked to any one? Who were other senators that you were talking to way back in December?
MR..LOZADA. Wala pa pong iba nuong December.
SEN. ARROYO. Wala? Only Senator Lacson?
SEN. ARROYO. All right.
So Secretary Atienza, your insinuation that senators are involved here is not correct.
MR. ATIENZA. Ang sabi ko po kanina, isa sa mga nakagawa ng malaking intriga dito sa usaping ito’y parang maraming nakakaalam ng intensyon ni Mr. Lozada ay maraming nakakaalam ng movement n’ya at may nakakausap s’yang mga senator. Sapagkat akala ko all the time sa akin lang siya nakasandal kaya all out naman ang tulong ko sa kanya on matters of security.
SEN. ARROYO. I raised that question, Secretary Atienza, because the question of good faith, bad faith arises. That in the case of Mr. Lozada, I would have wished — in fact, I cannot be so hard on him because it turns out Bicolano pala ito. Taga-Ligao eh. All right, now, anyway.
So it’s much of bad faith because you’re talking to some but you are not talking to us. In fact, yesterday — or when was this when ABS-CBN came here and visited you and you were interviewed? What day was that, here in the Senate? Is that Saturday or Sunday?
MR. LOZADA. Sunday po ata ako pinuntahan.
SEN. ARROYO. No, no, no. Only the weekend.
MR. LOZADA. Saturday po si Carandang, tapos Sunday po ata si Korina.
SEN. ARROYO. All right, what I’m saying is this. Every time you discriminate on media is not fair. You favor one station, others aren’t.
Wait, wait, wait. You favor some Senators, you don’t favor others. I raised those points because this is a question of good faith. So having said that, now will you please answer my …
SEN. LACSON. Mr. Chairman, since my name was mentioned — Mr. Chairman?
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A). Yes, Senator Lacson.
SEN. LACSON. Ang masasabi ko lang po eh, baka mas masipag ako kaysa doon sa iba.
MR. LOZADA. May I answer na ho, isa-isa?
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A). Okay, Mr. Lozada.
SEN. ARROYO. And don’t be afraid, just say what you think is the answer.
MR. LOZADA. Opo.
Number one po, yung mga writ-writ na ‘yon, hindi po ako kasama pa roon dahil po noong panahon na ‘yon ang umaabugado pa sa akin si Atty. Bautista. Hindi ako kasali pa roon.
SEN. ARROYO. You mean, you have been the lawyer, Atty. Bautista, since December?
MR. LOZADA. Hindi po, ‘yong writ. Eto, ‘yong writ of habeas corpus, ‘yong wala po akong kasali po roon. Kasi nga po inasaynan nila ako ng — basta dinala lng nila ako Atty. Bautista eh. So ‘yon pong panahon na ‘yon, siya pa ‘yong lumalabas na abugado ko.
SEN. ARROYO. Well, I ask him.
MR. BAUTISTA. Your Honor, Mr. Chairman.
MR. LOZADA. Puwede pong tapusin ko na? Puwede ko pong matapos?
SEN. ARROYO. Okey, go ahead.
MR. LOZADA. Tapos po hindi nga ako kasali roon. Noong Wednesday na ‘yon, kinuha nga po ako nina Colonel Mascariñas, dinala n’ya ako kina Atty. Bautista. Hindi ko alam kung saan ako dadalhin. Tinatanong ako ng asawa ko, “Saan ka dadalhin?” Sabi ko, “Hindi ko Alam.” So sila naman po para malalaman nila kung saan ako dinadala, siguro they decided with my brother, kasi ho I’m not free to ‘yong, sir, kanina, I was free to move — hindi ako free to move. Kinukuha nila ako sa La Salle…
SEN. ARROYO. What I’m trying to say is that, don’t tell me that Bro. Felipe would not allow you to sign a document when you had visitors, the family was with you. In fact, you had many visitors, the nuns and the sisters saw you.
MR. LOZADA. Pero po…
SEN. ARROYO. No, no, the question is, I’m talking about — because you are talking about human rights, and I have been involved in human rights.
MR. LOZADA. Yes, Mr. Senator.
SEN. ARROYO. So those who were saying that you haven’t sacrificed human rights…
MR. LOZADA. Opo, So I will continue na po?
SEN. ARROYO. Now the point is this. You don’t trifle with the writ of habeas corpus and the writ of amparo because those are what you call the great writ of liberty, extraordinary remedies. Now we cannot misuse them because pag binastos natin ‘yan mawawalan nang value. That is the only reason why I’m very careful about this. Don’t cheapen it, that’s why I would just wondering why. You were deposited midnight of Tuesday, then Wednesday they filed it one o’clock, another four o’clock, two in a row. So how come?
MR. LOZADA, Iyong nga po, Mr. Senator. Number one po, hindi po ako aware noon. So, kasi po ang umaabugado pa ho sa akin noon si Atty. Bautista. At si Atty. Bautista nga po busy siya kape-prepare noong aking affidavit. So hindi po ako ‘yong nag-ano noon, hindi ako ‘yong gumawa noon. Ginawa ho ata nila ‘yon noong tinatanong nila ako na kinuha nga ako ni Colonel Mascariñas, “Saan ka nila dadalhin?” Sabi ko, “Hindi ko alam.” So independent po ‘yong aksyon na ‘yon sa akin. Noon po ay nasa — kinukuha — dinadala nila ako — kung nasaan ako. Ano po? So I was not free as you would like to — akala n’yo lang po puwede akong umalis kung kalian — hindi po ako puwedeng gumanoon-ganoon. Under po ako sa kustodiya nina Colonel Mascariñas. Sila ang nagsasabi kung saan nila ako dadalhin.
SEN. ARROYO. Okay, you have said your piece of mind. The only thing I want to say is this ‘no. That you don’t trifle with the writ of habeas corpus and amparo because those are the great writs of liberty.
Now, Atty. Bautista, it seems that — although your name does not appear in either of the two petitions…
MR.BAUTISTA. Your, Honor, Mr. Chairman, I asked him about this. What is this petition for habeas corpus, amparo or about …? He said, “Wala akong alam diyan. It is my brother, my wife.” Ganoon, ganoon. And that is Wednesday. And the odd thing about this, it’s Wednesday, 1 o’clock while we were having lunch I called up Atty. Quimbo. Sabi ko, “We will surrender Lozada.” In fact, that is why I went to La Salle, Wednesday night, to arrange for his surrender in the morning without drama. But I think he wanted to surrender with drama. That is what happened.
SEN. ARROYO. You are very permissive about the two writs.
MR. BAUTISTA. I did not know about them. He denied having to do with them.
SEN. ARROYO. Because what we have here I am sure the Court of Appeals will ask the transcription about the proceedings here to find out just what happened.
MR. BAUTISTA. Well yesterday, I met his lawyer Melencio Sta. Maria who filed the habeas corpus. He said, “You are making waves filing these things?”
Hindi na, moot na yan,” sabi niya. I do not know what he meant by that.
MR. LOZADA. So pwede na po akong…
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A). Yes, Mr. Lozada, please, We will not interrupt you.
MR. LOZADA. So, ‘yon nga po noong panahon na ‘yon it was very obvious na wala — hindi ko na-exercise ‘yong aking free will. Hindi ho ako malaya noong panahon na ‘yon. So, binigyan ako ng gobyerno ng abogado na ‘yong abogado ‘yong gumawa ng affidavit na sabi ko nga may reservation ako. Ang ginawa ng pamilya ko since hindi nila nalalaman kung saan ako dinadala nina Colonel Mascariñas siguro ho para maging malaya ang aking paggagalaw, nagfile na po sila. So, ‘yon po ang aking ano diyan. So, I have no intention of cheapening a very precious law. Wala po ako noon. I guess — tapos po ‘yong trip sa Hong Kong na ‘yon you said that it was smacks of bad faith on me. Hindi naman ho talaga ako pupuntang London. Sinabi ko naman po sa kanila ‘yon. Sabi nila, “Hindi, umalis ka na muna.”
SEN. ARROYO. Kanino mo sinabi ‘yon?
MR. LOZADA. Kina Manny po. Kina Atty. Gaite at saka kay Secretary Atienza.
SEN. ARROYO. You mean to say all of them are in conspiracy that a travel order was issued for London yet the destination is only Hong Kong. We want that clear.
MR. LOZADA. Sir, I am not — hindi ko alam ang — pasensiya na po kayo kung ano kasi puro kayo mga legal ano. Hindi ko alam kung ano ‘yong legal anong ng conspiracy. Ang sinasabi ko sa inyo, alam nila na hindi talaga ako pupunta ng London.
MR. ATIENZA. Mr. Chairman…
MR. LOZADA. So, pwede ko nang ituloy ko na po kasi po baka makalimutan ko na ‘yong mga tanong sa akin ni Senator Arroyo.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A). Let Mr. Lozada continue then Secretary Atienza. Okay.
MR. LOZADA. Tapos ho ‘yong pag-alis kong ‘yon sa — marami pong nakakaalam. Nagpaalam ako kay Secretary Neri. Marami akong pinagpaalaman. Kung paano po ako nakuha ng ABS-CBN hindi ko po alam. So, ‘yong pong sa North Rail na ‘yon hindi ko po rin alam ‘yon. Nabanggit ko lang ‘yon dahil nga ‘yong ZTE, ‘yong Instik pasensiya na kayo ‘yong Chinese ano, rep. noong ZTE…
SEN. ARROYO. You are not supposed to answer North Rail because you said you don’t know about North Rail. But I think Secretary Atienza he says that you…
MR. LOZASDA. Pwede ko na hong ituloy, Senator, para hindi ko makalimutan ‘yong ano ninyo. Tapos sabi ninyo po ‘yong good faith at saka bad faith na huwag akong maging selective sa mga kinakausap ko. ‘Yong ginawa ninyong example ‘yong ABS-CBN, si Mike Enriquez po kinausap ko rin noong Sabado, so patas lang po ‘yon. Tapos po kung and sabi ninyo na bad faith ‘yong kinausap ko si Senator Lacson, nakausap ko rin ‘yong asawa sa bahay ninyo. Dinala po ako doon ni Tony Abaya. So patas. Opo. Pinatawag ninyo po ako roon sa bahay ninyo.
SEN. ARROYO. Who called you?
MR. LOZADA, Ewan ko. Pina — Meet niya po ako sa asawa ninyo. Basta po doon sa inyo, pagpasok dito sa parang gate ng tao, kumaliwa kami nang kaunti, pasok po kami doon sa pintuan, mayroong maliit na parang hallway na ganoon pagpasok ninyo parang atrium type nandito ‘yong napakagandang library ninyo sa gilid. Pinag wine and cheese po ako roon.
SEN. ARROYO. I don’t want you to talk about my wife before I ask her.
MR. LOZADA. Opo, pasensiya na po kayo.
SEN. ARROYO. Because otherwise you have been besmirching the names of everyone. Don’t try — don’t mess around with my wife.
MR. LOZADA. Hindi po. Sabi pinupunto ko lang po ‘yong good faith, bad faith na hindi po ako selective sa kinakausap ko na on both sides po may mga taong gusto sa aking kumausap sino naman po ako para tumanggi. So, pasensiya na po kayo. Hindi ho ano. Eh, kasi po parang sabi ninyo sa akin…
SEN. ARROYO. At the rate you are going and at the rate you are implicating every Tom, Dick and Harry here, I mean, how is this?
MR. LOZADA. Paano po ang magagawa ko. Kayo po ang nagbring up na huwag akong – I was just — pinapakita ko lang po sabi ninyo na para hindi good faith, bad faith dapat hindi ako selective. Gusto ko lang pong ipaalam na kung kinakausap Ã¢â‚¬â€œ ayaw ko kasing masali-sali sa pulitika. Kaya nga…
SEN. ARROYO. Mr. Chairman, can I have the answer of Secretary Atienza because.
SEN. LACSON. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman.