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The Empire Strikes Back
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on October 1, 2007 414 Comments 25 min read
The Long View: Should thuggery trump secrecy? Previous Book of the Week Next

Update 2:13 pm In a comment on her blog, Ellen Tordesillas says the President’s husband arrives back home tomorrow.

Update 1:42 pm Atty. Gabriel Villaroel, lawyer of Abalos, says the ex-Chairman will file damage suits versus Jose de Venecia III; versus Romulo Neri; and also, a perjury suit versus Romulo Neri.

Update 12:57 Surrounded by his family, Benjamin Abalos, introduced by Benhur, speaks: (shrieks of support from loyalists):

Good Afternoon, specially to my townmates from Mandaluyong many barefoot and in slippers, here even with the bad weather. Thank you for coming to this press conference I called to let our countrymen know how I truly feel about issues and controversies involving my honor, my work, and the privacy and tranquility of my family. It’s been a week since I appeared at the Senate, despite counsel of lawyers and friends, expecting they’d be fair and statesmanlike. I was sorely mistaken, not treated fairly; limited to what they wanted to hear; in these few days of consultation of family and friends, I have come to the painful determination to separate my person from the office I hold. Ladies and gentlemen, I have resigned… (screams of outrage from audience) effectively immediately. However, let not my detractors feast on this… I am not admitting guilt and I am not giving up on my determination to clear my name. I am doing this to spare the Comelec. October 20 election will be detached from my problems…. And this proves I am not dangling so-called political debts… or that administration is out to protect me… Forty years ago I entered politics… and in support of the reasons I entered, that’s why I am resigning…. I am doing this to prevent a long drawn-out impeachment process… Thank you to colleagues in government for comfort all these years… Thank you to my family… I am all the more determined to continue my crusade to clear my name and reputation and dispel the lies… The fight isn’t over! (cheering) However long the darkness lasts, there will be a beautiful dawn, we shall meet again, heads raised high, in a new dawn. Thank you.

The Romans had a term for this sort of thing: falling on one’s sword. He spared himself the risk of an impeachment trial and conviction; and he avoided the opportunity to spill the beans on the President. Benhur’s lease on political life, too, has been given a reprieve, which in the end may have been the clincher. Charges will now be in the hands of the (ta-dah!) Ombudsman.

Update 12:49 TV reports a mass going on with 500 supporters at the residence of Chairman Abalos, and he will then make a statement. Abalos looks calm and collected, Benhur Abalos grimacing and frowning.

Update 10:57 am: News vans arrived and began setting up at the House of Representatives this morning, in expectation of a stormy session this afternoon. Congressmen have been trickling in to endorse the impeachment complaint versus Chairman Abalos. Word is, an informal head count by Abalos’s family indicates the proponents of impeachment have the numbers. The Speaker has gone on record releasing members of the House from their loyalty to the party line -turning impeachment into a “conscience vote.” The Chairman has announced he is holding a press conference at noon, and there is talk that rather than face an impeachment, he will resign. Others believe he will, instead, release a bombshell to try to derail the brewing impeachment.


This is, perhaps, the longest text message I’ve ever received, sent by a Palace loyalist. I assume it represents the emerging party line (which has taken them long enough to put together!) and therefore, this message bears close scrutiny concerning those the message absolves and defends and those it condemns:

Neri must be compelled to talk. He’s invoking Exec Priv bec he wants d public think he s protecting GMA. Neri started by telling media he will talk about d bribe offer n d proper forum bec he wants d senate 2 investigate him. at d senate he invoked Exec Priv. Neri s slowly poisoning d mind of d public so dey wud suspek pres s involved. He’s blackmailing admin. 2 protect JDV’s speakership. GMA tried 2 cancel NBN when she met ChinaPres n APEC but he threatened 2 cancel all other future investments f she does. D suspension of all d China supported Agri proj. worth USD 1.3B s just d start. Facts:China appointed ZTE 2 implement d NBN proj. ZTE contracted-Multimedia telephony (4merly owned by JDV3 & sold 2 Ricky Razon n 2003) 2 b their Manila counterpart. JDV3 tried 2 steal it thru Neri, a JDV puppet. Neri, issued a comfort letter 2 JDV3 so he can raise funds & pressure ZTE 2give him d contract instead of Multimedia. When he failed even w/ his father’s power pushing, he decided to go 2 media & opposition. In JDV3’s testimonies he said he went to see ZTE several times but never said he went 2 DOTC 2 push his offer. Abalos s d broker of ZTE n getting China 2 appoint ZTE. Abalos stands to earn P200M frm ZTE. JDV3 thought Abalos can convince ZTE 2 move him what razon got. Razon sought d help of FG 2 stop JDV3. MVP also tried 2get a share of d biz but Razon wont let him. N return, PLDT paid d UP prof P1M 2 make d study dat wil put d NBN-ZTE look bad. PLDT s funding all d bad PR on Razon & giving d opposition senators d bullets 2 kill d NBNZTE. NBN-ZTE s nothing but a fight of greedy pipol but could cause enormous economic loss 4 d country.

The message places the President as the heroine, and Enrique Razon as one of the aggrieved parties, and pits the Presidents versus the Speaker and the Philippines as the victim of Chinese dictation (as for the Chinese government itself, it’s issued diplomatically impeccable, vanilla statements: China closely monitors ZTE probe, though there is speculation the President might cancel her upcoming trip to China: Palace: No word yet on cancellation of Arroyo’s China visit).

I think this long text message suggests the emerging Palace view as to those who are allied on one side (its side), and how it’s lashing out at former allies it now considers on the other side.

Consider this part of the proceedings last Wednesday:

Abalos: I have here copy of letter, my counsel secured… Addressed to Mike Defensor stated it may interest to know that ZTE a reputable firm in China, responded to this undertaking and consequently, Chinese government designated it as NBN “frime” contractor.

Lacson: Mr de Venecia?

JDV3: This is 1st or 2nd time I’ve heard this in 3 days. Why is Abalos involved in NBN? To rebut him, I divested my shares in multimedia telephony, in 2003, bought by Anscor, Ricky Razon… I have documents that show in 2004 supply contract between my former company and ZTE with regards to vendor contract. I don’t need Abalos to lobby for me because I already know ZTE.

Note that JDV3 says he sold out to a group composed of the Sorianos and Ricky Razon (and note the connection to the text message I quoted in its entirety).

Much later in the same hearing, this came out:

Pimentel: I understand you’ve incurred the ire of some business people, because of your stand of privatization of arrastre service?

Neri: There’s a monopoly, I favored allowing Harbor Center to compete, as our containter fees among highest costs in the world for containers…

Pimentel: Among those angry is Ricky Razon?

Neri: Well, met him at reception for Equitorial Guinea president, Speaker’s mother-in-law’s house, Forbes Park, it was there he accosted me, in effect telling me, in effect, you will allow Harbor Center to operate over my dead body.

Those familiar with the inner circle of the President know that Enrique Razon wields great influence. Some have gone as far -and this inference can be drawn from Neri’s testimony- that Razon, whose resume includes interest in container and port management, publishing and printing, etc (he got into publishing, it seems, when the Sorianos sold him the Manila Standard; he then further acquired Today to form The Manila Standard-Today) was influential enough to get Neri removed from the director-generaliship of NEDA because he wanted arrastre services liberalized (Razon has shown his infighting skills in this department in the past).

In other words, according to those claiming to be in the know, it was Neri’s decision on the ports issue that got him moved out of NEDA, and it had nothing to do with ZTE which, after all, Neri ended up signing off on.

One source went as far as saying that as far as JDV3’s testimony that Multimedia Telephony was sold by JDV3 and now owned by Razon, the Sorianos, Server, etc., is true; a source mentioned Nono Ibazeta, now president of Psalm, formerly our ambassador to Iraq as a “padrino” but of what, exactly, was never clear (But as for the connection between the two? Ibazeta was ambassador to Iraq; Razon was appointed by the President a member of the Public-Private Sector Task force on the Reconstruction and Development of Iraq: an investigative reporter would be licking their chops over such a lead) .

And there’s more: Arroyo okayed talks with ZTE on NBN before NEDA review. This compounds the issue.

But the combination of Neri disappointing those expecting him to tell all, and yet, the obvious lack of celebration on the part of the Palace and its partisans, brings up something blogger chizjarkace wrote:

Even after being urged by some senators that yesterday was the day Neri could do the country a great favor by not hiding under the executive privilege, he still insisted that he was only following Ermita’s order.

That was a clear sign of Neri’s loyalty to the administration, but is the administration loyal to him? I don’t think so. In fact Ermita just denied that he was the one who ordered Neri to invoke the privilege. If Neri wasn’t lying about it then Ermita is. Neri should take that as an indication that even how much he shield Malacañang, he is not assured to get the same protection. Who knows, if the controversy becomes even bigger, he might be the next fall guy for the couple in the palace.

As Justice Isagani Cruz opined,

Romulo Neri appears to be the most believable of the three witnesses, considering his clean living image and his magna cum laude academic credentials from UP and the MBA degree from the University of California. I am disappointed, however, that when asked about President Macapagal-Arroyo’s possible involvement in the scandal, he evaded the question and invoked her – not his – ”executive privilege” in obedience to Secretary Eduardo Ermita’s instruction. Some persons may be honest but not necessarily brave.

The Ignatian Perspective pens a spirited defense of Romulo Neri, and encourages him to withstand the tremendous pressures he’s undeniably being subjected to, by all sides. Ricky Carandang, in his blog, says those disappointed with Neri fail to see that what he has revealed, under oath, is damning enough (something also said in a recent Inquirer editorial by the way). As Carandang puts it,

I know many are disappointed at former NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri’s performance at Wednesday’s senate hearing on the ZTE Broadband deal, but I think he said a mouthful…

Despite being informed of the bribe offer, Arroyo eventually approved the ZTE broadband deal.

On its face, the fact that a cabinet level officer reported a bribery attempt in connection with the deal should have been enough cause for Arroyo to stay away from it. It should have also been grounds for Neri to refuse to nominate te ZTE deal. And yet, despite the bribe offer, that’s exactly what they did.

Not only is that improper, that’s illegal.

What should have happened is that Arroyo should have referred the matter to the Ombudsman and out of a sense of propriety, refused to entertain the ZTE proposal. Neri should have either refused to sign the April 20 letter or — if he were somehow being pressured to sign it — resigned.

Now, like some chess maneuver, Benjamin Abalos is being sacrificed as Malacanang circles the wagons around Arroyo.

But what we’ve learned is that Arroyo knew that Abalos was pushing the ZTE deal as early as October. She was also aware that a senior cabinet member was claiming that Abalos attempted to bribe him. In other words, she had knowledge of two illegal acts pertaining to the ZTE deal prior to approving it.

Many people were disappointed that Neri didn’t somehow implicate Arroyo in all this. They suspect, with good reason, that the subsequent conversations that Neri refused to talk about would indicate the extent of her involvement in ZTE. And they would be right. But what people don’t seem to realize is that already, Neri’s testimony has damned his president. And possibly himself as well.

Yesterday, a dramatic headline appeared in the Inquirer: Neri was ready to talk about ZTE. The revelations, which go beyond the usual two-source requirement but lists four sources, are quite astounding:

According to the four sources of the Inquirer, Neri was ready to answer the senators’ questions when Sen. Joker Arroyo intervened. (The sources all declined to speak on the record in deference to the gag rule governing executive sessions.)

Arroyo reportedly made a motion to allow Neri to avail himself of the legal counsel of his choice.

“I think he tried to help” was how a source explained Arroyo’s purported move.

On the phone last night, Arroyo denied that he had intervened….

After Arroyo’s motion, Budget Secretary Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. entered the members-only Senators’ Lounge, according to the Inquirer sources.

Andaya, who succeeded Neri in the budget department, came in supposedly to act as the latter’s lawyer.

A source said the senators had an argument about the presence of Andaya, who, some insisted, should not be acting as Neri’s lawyer because he was also a member of the Cabinet.

“It’s hard to predict what he (Neri) was going to say, but he was about to talk. I think it’s the presence of Nonoy that stopped him,” one source said…

…Inside the Senators’ Lounge, Neri began to experience chills, and by one observer’s account, it might have been partly because he was afraid.

The sources could not explain how Andaya got into the picture, but he was seen arriving at the Senate a few hours before the senators decided to take Neri to the executive session.

“Basta dumating na lang, umupo doon (He just arrived and sat there),” a source said.

The sources said Andaya told the senators not to press Neri to talk because the latter was sick.

“Then kinalabit na niya si Neri,” a source said…

…The executive session was over in less than 30 minutes.

The story led to angry replies: Joker denies he blocked Neri’s ZTE deal exposé. And to the Palace laying the basis for a possible non-appearance in the future: Palace exec: Neri sore at media for sowing ‘intrigues’. After all, I have nothing more to say on broadband deal–Neri.

(update: Jarius Bondoc has taken an unprecedented step for a columnist, revealing his source and what the source told him; originally, he was going to hold a press conference but instead, the information appeared in his column this morning; because the Star website’s links are wacky, I’m reprinting the column in full):

I understand why Neri couldn’t talk
GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
Monday, October 1, 2007

I called Romy Neri right after testifying Sept. 18 in that first Senate hearing on the ZTE scam. It was our tenth talk about the issue since Apr. 20, when The STAR ran my first of a series of articles. I pried why he didn’t show up, if he was under any threat of harm, and when he’ll reveal all he knows. From his replies it was clear he was charily weighing the consequences. There’s a time and place for everything, he mused, then asked if what he has narrated to me thus far would “incite another EDSA.” I said I didn’t know, but that I do wish the Senate inquiry would spark a wave of reforms, starting with clean elections. He shared the dream, but doubted if it would come true soon. Our talk eventually led to sacrificing for the sake of the nation. He said Joey de Venecia was brave to implicate big names, adding that if push comes to shove the young whistleblower fortunately has a rich dad to fall back on. “I’m not affluent,” Romy stated the obvious. Neither am I, I reminded him. Whereupon, he shot back: “Oh, but you’re a journalist, you’re supposed to be dedicated to the truth.”

Yes, in this calling our first instinct is to truth and justice, at all costs. So with Romy’s words in mind I must disclose what he has told me. I know I might get him and myself into deep trouble with powerful persons. But that is journalism. Too, in my hierarchy of values, God is first, country next, family and friends third, and myself bottom. Patriotic duty calls.

Romy bared many frightening things when he called me morning of Apr. 20. I had written that the government was rushing to award the ZTE contract the next day in Boao, China, and that the NEDA, which he headed then, had approved the overpriced telecoms supply in a huff. Before I could ask anything, Romy blurted three items in succession: “This deal was the handiwork of Ricky Razon and Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos … I warned President Arroyo about this, and also told Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. … Abalos tried to bribe me P200 million.”

I was stunned, and asked him to start over again by answering some basic questions. Like, how the NEDA got involved in this, and why a build-operate-transfer project suddenly became a negotiated supply purchase. He said “NEDA had to make an evaluation any which way.” Too, the law “allows the President to waive ODA (overseas development assistance) rules in a bilateral or government-to-government agreement.” He stressed that NEDA had no capacity to determine any overpricing, then explained the three steps in any NEDA project review.

Three times Romy repeated he had warned Arroyo about the deal. He told her about the bribe offer, and she allegedly replied “then don’t accept it, but work on the approvals just the same.” He said Arroyo kept blaming Joey for the mess that was then brewing.

The culprits in this deal, he said, are “ZTE Corp., Razon, Abalos - and one more….” When I asked why his NEDA approved the ZTE proposal when he knew all along it was stinky, he said, “GMA was pushing it, and it’s our job to process.” With pain in his voice, Romy said he had almost resigned the day before.

“My life is in your hands,” Romy cautioned towards the end. He said Abalos had wiretapped one of his staff, and Razon had once threatened him at a cocktail party hosted by the Speaker.

Before he hung up, Romy said that my exposé had the potential to mar the administration’s chances in the May election. It was so explosive, he counseled, so I must be very careful. He also said he would fire off a Letter to the Editor to clarify his role, in view of the sensitive info he had just shared.

I expect Romy to get mad at me initially. He already did because of my column last Monday, which his friends said put him in peril for hinting at what he might testify to. I apologized to him Tuesday, explaining that I intended his potential tormentors to realize, for his safety, that some other persons and I know what he knows. Too, that I wanted corroboration of Joey’s testimony.

I also expect Romy to understand in the end. He was feverish and coughing when he testified Wednesday. The media have since praised him for boldly divulging Abalos’s bribe attempt, but also pilloried him for hedging on matters involving higher officials. Some even mocked him for downplaying his role at NEDA as presidential co-chair of major projects, making it look like he wasn’t worth a P200-million payoff to begin with.

But then news reports have it that Romy was ready to bare all during the executive session at 9 p.m., just that he was having chills. I pray I can help him with this. Before the hearing I offered Romy a prayer for fortitude. He said he was more courageous than us. I don’t doubt it.

My column today,Should thuggery trump secrecy? tackles this dramatic story of an “intervention” in the Senate’s executive session (I translated “kalabit” as “nudged,” which may or may not impart the proper imagery). It is a story that suggests those inclined to sympathize or at least show compassion towards Neri, may be on to something, and that the new official line he has nothing more to say, is to prevent his saying anything further. The man didn’t just fold because the pressure was intense; the pressure may have been applied persistently and in a manner that represents an institutional assault on the senate itself. This morning, at least one senator is of a similar view: Lacson: Andaya lawyered for Neri during call for exec meet.

And, bearing in mind what Ignatian Perspective and Ricky Carandang wrote, blogger Slap Happy ties it all together with the reports on the Senate’s Executive Session:

In fact, the mere notion that he cited Executive Privilege was to keep everybody in bated breath over what he has to say. It’s like his way of telling the Senators, “I have something, and boy oh boy will you love this, but wait, they might go after me after this so you have got to assure me safety.”

I think this safety clause should be made before he changes his mind, lest we suddenly read the papers tomorrow and find that he has flown out of the country.

All of this talk had stemmed from Neri’s appearance in an executive meeting of the Senators who were investigating the NBN Deal.

In an article from, Neri was supposed to start talking had not someone intervened and allowed him to have legal representation for the meeting, and then Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya appeared and said that he was appearing on Neri’s behalf.

This was when they noticed Neri getting the chills or feeling sick or something. The guy must be really scared with the information he holds.

Pretty much like what i have written earlier, this has become more of like a soap opera where the plot thickens and characters with significant issues suddenly appear.

If the rumors are true, and what he indeed knows will blow up in the executive office faces, i think it is our moral duty to protect and impose upon Neri the moral ascendancy to speak up and correct what he sees is wrong.

Since these hearings will resume, yesterday’s Inquirer editorial imparts some advise on how such hearings can be better handled:

The Senate must review its procedures. The lowest point was Richard Gordon acting like a petulant child, insisting on adding a full hour to the proceedings because he craved television time, when even his usually fractious colleagues had decided to go into executive session. Gordon wouldn’t even give the chairmen of the committees, Sen. Alan Cayetano in particular, the basic respect due a chairman. We have seen many moments of political degeneracy in our recent Senates, but Gordon’s was among the most galling debasements of the Senate. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s slur on an entire civilization came quite close in disgracefulness.

The Senate has no apologies to make for seizing on the ZTE-NBN issue and following the money, as investigators of Watergate were once advised. They are doing their job – but so badly as to be incompetent. They must learn to ask proper questions, which requires teamwork, and they must show they know as much as – if not more than – wily executive officials trying to prevent their finding out the truth.

But it goes beyond that: the Senate must not shrink from a confrontation with the Executive, not only on the basis for invoking executive privilege, but on its possible intrusion into the executive session.

And if it’s true that ‘GMA allies ready to sacrifice Abalos’, is a premature feeding frenzy worth it? Once you pick Abalos’ political carcass clean to the bone, then what? Or sustain the pressure, and investigate all the way to the top? Update 12:12 pm: however, the Speaker has gone on record releasing his partymates from party loyalty or discipline on this issue, making their choices on whether to sign on to impeachment or not, a “conscience vote.” Since party discipline is the ultimate line of defense, this suggests the Speaker’s implicitly favoring impeachment. The Speaker’s expected to endorse the impeachment complaint to the Committee on Justice this afternoon or tomorrow, which means it could then gather steam, with congressmen trickling in to sign on.

On another note, in Inquirer Current John Nery clarifies some misreported details; this made me review my liveblogging account and whew, at least he wasn’t referring to my (terse) account:

Estrada: you said, Mystery Man was Atty. Arroyo. When did you first see him?

JDV3: earlier this year, Wack-Wack, it was Atty. Arroyo with Abalos, Jimmy Paz, Quirino de la Torre, Ruben Reyes and Leo San Miguel.

Estrada: What were exact words Atty. Arroyo told you?

“Back off,” says JDV3.

Estrada: “Back off” were exact words? In presence of Abalos, etc? I have a waiter friend there, can you demonstrate how it was done?

JDV3: May I use seatmate as model? (giggle) shoves finger in face of Suplico and yells, “Back off!!”

And also, here, my account seems OK, too:

Santiago: I am not interested in that project. For record China invented civilization in the East, but they also invented corruption that’s why these Chinese like inviting people to golf, etc. As officials we know we’re being invited not for our good looks… On record, let me put it on record: I resent being made party to this squabble! You’re just fighting over kickbacks! You’re wasting Senate time! (Santiago leaves Senate)

11:13 Cayetano: Noted.

Speaking of these liveblogging efforts, please refer to Achieving Happiness who also covered the hearing. And Rasheed Abou-Alsamh points out something we should bear in mind:

It is not that often that people in developing countries get to see non-elected government officials squirm on live television while they are relentlessly grilled by elected representatives of the people. And it is a scene that I have never seen happen in an Arab country.

You know, anything can be liveblogged, check out Jalajala Rizal liveblogging a fiesta.

Meanwhile, Carmen Pedrosa continues to find every which way to keep justifying her recent trip to Burma and thus, her role in coddling the junta.

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  1. Harry I’m no celebrity that I would post my email add in here. I’m just a private citizen and I’m here to join in the discussions .

  2. Ram The quote itself breeds “determination and persistence.” We know too well that Nietzche’s was considered one of the forerunners of “existentialism” and one of those who challenged THE ESTABLISHMENT during his era: “the very foundations governing CHRISTIANITY and it’s MORAL TRADITIONS.” Good to find someone who’s interested in Nietzsche this part of the Net.

  3. DevilsAdvc8 Basing from your experience, I won’t blame you on how you view these PRE NEED firms. “A man’s loss is another man’s gain.” Pretty much the culture in RAKING IN PROFITS for the company whilst leaving their Planholders to the dust. But then again, one of the culprits in the collapse of the Educational Pre-Needs was partly to be blamed by the DEREGULATION of TUITION.

    Talking about CAP, it was pure “siphoning off of funds” and “mismanagement.” CAP used to the biggest then with a snap of a finger, it collapsed. The Sobrepena’s have a lot to answer but it seems the issue died down.

    I know how INSURANCE companies behave. Their agents move heaven and earth to convince you to get a PLAN and yet once you’ve become a Planholder and you need to process CLAIMS, they treat you like dirt. This is true not only in the MEDICAL INSURANCE but also in AUTO INSURANCE. GSIS and SSS is is gaining a lot of ground in being INEPT and practically USELESS.

    I remember one recent movie, “SICKO.” Have you seen it? It’s all about the PROFITS and how to EVADE expenditures. I was even exploring the idea of SOCIALIZED Healthcare like that in Canada, France, and the UK but I am not so sure whether the Philippines can afford one knowing the Population Obstacle.

  4. “I doubt there are many “true Filipinos”. as has been said by many people on this blog. the people who live here tend to think in this order: i am (surname), my family is from (province), i live in (neighbourhood), i went to (school), i am a Filipino.Tonio”

    Very accurate reading.More people attend an Ateneo vs La Salle basketball game than commemorate the people power day or the June 12th independence day.

  5. Manila Bay Watch Come to think of it, the Philippines is comparatively speaking, still a very young Democracy. What’s a bit disheartening is the fact that why countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, and even Thailand were able to surpass us. But then again, each country has it’s own pains and sorrows, each country is unique.

    Actually, I think that the creation of the EU brought a lot of good to Europe in the widest sense of the word and in all aspects. As you said: “economic homogeneity” brought what is now called a FORMIDABLE EU Bloc.

    Peace and prosperity exists in Western Europe and hopefully with the inclusion of some Eastern Bloc States would have its magic effect. We know too well that some of these Eastern Bloc countries are still recovering from decades of COMMUNIST RULE. There’s a lot of poverty and system failures. The likes of Poland and the Baltic States are becoming “fast emerging markets” in their own rights.

    Corruption is everywhere. Even in Finland which is THE LEAST CORRUPT (take note, it did not say ZERO CORRUPT) acknowledges the reality that CORRUPTION is everywhere, the question is “TO WHAT DEGREE” it has seeped into the system and the people.

    When I was in Europe in 2000, I find their Immigration Procedures very practical and logical. I don’t know now though since we’re dealing with a post 9/11 scenario wherein some measures were enforced especially in the UK.

  6. Thank you karah for the response.

    If it is this kind of exchange of ideas that we will observe in this forum, we will be learning from each other.

  7. Rego All these “clashing of ideas” is inevitable. Each individual is governed by his/her own “collection of experiences” – background, attitude, temperament, personality, and so on and so forth.

    There are times though that there would always be individuals who spoil the “status quo.” Some are valid, some are mere germs. When people are reprimanded, they react and even react violently. Until resorting to hurling invectives and throwing smut in the air happens. It might be due to EGO, PRIDE, all sorts of things. As for me, I deal with them accordingly. As long as we “exchange ideas” in a professional and mature manner, I don’t think there would be any commotion that would occur.

  8. The Ca t You are most welcome. Looking forward to more interaction and interfacing about a wide range of issues in this Blog.

    I remember the Johari’s Window, there would always be certain aspects of ourselves and how we view things that is concealed from us. Interfacing with other people makes us realize some of these blind spots.

  9. I remember watching SICKO but I was more amused than disturbed, most of what the guy was talking about we don’t have here or we’re not familiar with. He’s the guy in “An Awful Truth” right?
    Speaking of insurance companies, is Manulife part of the “avoid” list or is it okay?

    “The quote itself breeds “determination and persistence.”

    Yes. Initially it got me into all sorts of trouble with my parents – one of the reasons I joined organizations that would make the feeble tremble at that age, starting from the altar boys’ club (we had initiatiations for that already), CAT officers corp, then moving up to fraternities, until Baguio – where my unrelenting fascination for challenges was finally beaten out of me and turned me into what I am now, an “anal retentive.”
    Of course it has also helped me survive several heartaches (I can’t possibly live w/out u types), near failing grades, bullies, therapy (the one that follows after you break a leg), bankruptcy, two car crashes, drowning, etc.

    You know this is the first blog I’ve tried, I started last month for a day then stopped, then went bank in the other day. I have to admit its quite addicting, even while driving its at the back of my mind, its a shame you can’t blog and drive, even with we roam – you need both hands. Its a lot better than the Icon radio of the past “CQ break, whats your qth?” and the nonsencse that follows, or the more recent texting craze “here na me wer n u?” I even tried chatting but only once, I stopped when someone typed “wanna cyber?” I’m M, sorry. Of course there’s the office intranet but its monitored/censored, and I’m not much of a “boybastos” or “FHM” fan also. It sure beats watching the soap operas, and I’m too domesticated to enjoy “nightlife.”
    At the moment, this is my opiate…

  10. “When I was in Europe in 2000, I find their Immigration Procedures very practical and logical. I don’t know now though since we’re dealing with a post 9/11 scenario wherein some measures were enforced especially in the UK.”

    Still is Karah, its only on your way out (from the Philippines) thats a bit perplexing. And yes Poland is a very promising emerging market and even Russia to the other side so is Brazil. I’m not counting out the Philippines, its just a temporary setback, sort of like the old “Fernando Poe” movies where in the beginning the bad guy beats him up and then he makes a comeback.

  11. Ramrod,

    ““When I was in Europe in 2000, I find their Immigration Procedures very practical and logical. I don’t know now though since we’re dealing with a post 9/11 scenario wherein some measures were enforced especially in the UK.”

    Pretty much the same thing – you present your passport, it’s checked by immigration official and if there’s no problem with the passport, you are allowed in. They have stepped up certain luggage check, there are a few more questions to answer at the boarding desk but on the whole, pretty much the same procedures.

  12. Re: “What’s a bit disheartening is the fact that why countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, and even Thailand were able to surpass us.”

    Don’t know but it could because they are too distracted by having to administer 7 thousand islands with so many different languages and different moeurs?

    Take Europe, it took centuries and centuries of great instability to achieve relative peace and I put that to an incredible disparity brought about by language and moeurs. Relative peacce was very recent too!

    In other words, the Philippines has a long way to go. I reckon, RP has got to instill a bit of economic homogeneity first among the islands to achieve political maturity.

  13. Ram What I find interesting in the “Sicko” was how they do it in other countries. The difference between SOCIALIZED HEALTHCARE and RELYING ON PRIVATE INSURANCE. I don’t know the viability if Socialized Insurance is implemented in the RP, need to do some study and research work on that regard.

    I think MANULIFE FINANCIAL is a Canadian Company. I would suppose that Canadian Healthcare Companies are more Responsible than their American counterparts. Anyway, try to ask some friends who already have existing “accounts and/or plans” with Manulife.

    Well, we all have our share of pitfalls and potholes along the way. What’s important is we muster our strength and pick ourself up from the fall and emerger a better and a wiser person. Although I must admit I haven’t experienced some of the events that happened in your life.

    Don’t get me wrong but does your “anal retentive” behavior border on obsessive-compulsive tendencies? Just a question. I forgot who said this but to paraphrase: “The only way to get the BEST out of a person is for that person to have come face to face with his WORST side.” I mean, this is applicable to some, might not to some.

    It’s good to know that you found solace in “blogging” or the Blog of MLQ3. I have heard of MLQ3 alright but how I found this blog was merely coincidental. I chanced upon a blog of a Reporter at ABC 5 by the name of Jove Francisco. It was in his Blog that I found a link to MLQ3’s Blog and so I ended up posting comments in here.

    Maybe if Voice Recognition Softwares would be perfected and integrated in Blogs maybe then you can Blog and Drive. 😀 Never been into Two-way radios. Never been into the Texting Craze – I only text my relatives and some friends. I don’t have any interest in chatting as well.

  14. Manila Bay Watch There was a time that Philippines was No. 2 in Asia next to Japan (60’s to 70’s?) and the geographical consideration is still the same then and now. We do recognize that it’s so hard to govern an “archipelagic country” but it was done before and why can’t it be done now. I think it was the people that changed a lot.

    Yes, Europe is one example of “growings pains.” It took them centuries to put their act together. Europe though or rather EU is a bloc of countries and even before EU was conceptualized, there were already some countries that had peace and stability. I remember in the recent 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu, Philippines, some of its members are putting forward the idea of INTEGRATION. Nice idea but easier said and done. Before any “integration” could be done, the Philippines should “get its act together first.”

    Filipinos still have strong REGIONALISTIC TENDENCIES. Now there are advantages and disadvantages. Even in Politics, it’s still a game of “What province you came from” or “What language/dialect you speak?” The rivalry is still there though not obvious. Even in Elections, there’s the Cebuano Vote, the Ilocandia Vote, and so on and so forth. How about a Federal form of Government?

  15. karah, thanks for that, very useful for some research i’m doing. i’m awful with numbers.

    when i tried a similar computation, a government janitor’s salary in 1937, in 2004 pesos would have been 18,000 a month.

  16. Karah,

    To me, a federal form of government can truly work only if there’s political maturity.

    Again, I’m basing that on European nations’ experience. Federal form was implemented in many nations in Europe only recently (30 years or 40 years).

    Just think of this: You will have a set of national laws and a set of federal laws and there’s got to be an incredible and healthy respect for those two sets of intertwined laws to work and make federalism a success.

    Saw that in France a few years back when the government of Ile de France (Paris and metropolis) fought bitterly with national government over taxation.

  17. karah, when i was still working in the palace, one group wanted all SAL’s without exception, to be posted on the internet. this proposal was shot down by another faction in the palace.

    i myself proposed that the official gazette be put on line and that the old premartial law structure be followed: all executive issuances (eo’s, ao’s, mc’s, etc.) be published as well as documents deemed of historical importance, as well as the daily schedule/activities of the president, and finally, government departmental ao’s, mc’s, etc. finally, as premartial law, a regular list of presidential appointments and designations (i can tell you, quite easily, who was appointed to what, and replaced by whom, from 1946-1972; this is impossible now unless you spend weeks trying to put news clippings together) but this proposal was rejected.

    also, there is no really organized system of archiving presidential documents. the only president who seemed to have been efficient in this regard was fvr.

  18. Karah,

    Re ” I think it was the people that changed a lot. ”

    Or the number of inhabitants, i.e., population? RP’s population growth is too radical, so runaway, the economy can’t keep up!

  19. MLQ3 Most welcome MLQ3. In 1937, how much is the salary of a Janitor anyway? Since I’m pretty new in your Blog, I’m getting a bit confused where I’ll post my reply. Is it in this Article or on the the latest Article?

  20. Re: “i myself proposed that the official gazette be put on line and that the old premartial law structure be followed:”

    A practice in Europe, particularly in countries governed by the Napoleonic Code.

    Official gazzettes for every decision, every tax declaration of every nationally elected official should be in the official journal, etc.

  21. karah, now that you mention car insurances, had a bad experience with that as well. we were insured, but had to pay a large amt still. ahrgh! no insurance company is worth trusting! i’d rather keep my money now rather than entrust it to someone for something i’m not even sure i’d be spending for. PRE NEED my ass. if i need it, that’s when I’d spend for it. w/my own present money. i dnt care if i spend more. id rather trust myself than others. just imagine paying premium for years only to find out you’d been fleeced. no. let the PRE NEED industry die its natural death.

    re sicko, the filmmaker is Michael Moore, also wrote and directed Bowling for Columbine, Awful Truth, Fahrenheit 9/11

  22. karah, re: regional vote, i can’t recall where but those studying political behavior seem to be observing that it’s on the wane, as is the religious vote. also, there’s much more inter-island migration, and cross-cultural marriages. this is why i find some provinces so inspiring. cross-fertilization is a good thing, in many ways: there are areas where established families have been toppled because new migrants moved in (replaced by new families but that’s a start), others where leaders have integrated the people into governance to a point that it may be self-sustaining (naga city, for example), even baguio, i love it because it’s a university town now and not just a place dependent on government going on holiday, etc.

  23. Manolo, that would’ve been a VERY good project indeed! except for the president’s itinerary, going online is the best way to be transparent. (and the only reason i disagree w/publishing the president’s itinerary is quite obvious. we dnt want our president assassinated w/our help now, do we? even if she is Gloria)

  24. karah, usually, reply to the replies to your reply in the entry you originally replied to, hehe.

    i’m off to bed, but i’ll try to post a sampling of government salaries from the 1937 budget and whatever others i can scrounge up.

  25. Devils,

    Whether you post her itinerary or not, if an assasin is determined to shoot her, she would be a dead duck.

    Of course, no need to post itinerary in the most minute detail – the highlights or most important ones like dates places for her island hopping in Pinas or her itinerary during her overseas trips would be sufficient but I think it can and should be done in spite of security considerations. She’s got thousands to watch over her from her own guards – they should do their job to preempt threats or to protect her from a would be assasin.

  26. devil’s, not the itinerary before it happens, but well, in the old official gazette it was titled “the president’s week in review,” where they went, who they met, what they did. it’s invaluable for the historical record. again, say for magsaysay or macapagal i could tell you what they did, officially, practically hour-by-hour during their entire terms.

    the official gazette became spotty then devoid of useful content starting with martial law.

  27. MLQ3: Maybe on a larger scale, yes, the “regional vote” is waning down. There are some exceptions to this. I think the CEBU VOTE is still there. What do you think about the INC Bloc-Voting, can they really deliver the votes?

    Yes, there’s a lot of migration these days. People from the provinces are moving into the BIG CITIES (Manila-Area which is a constant, Laguna-Area and Batangas-Area due to the Industrial Estates, Cebu-Area, a bit in the Bacolod-Area and Iloilo-Area, Davao-Area perhaps.

    We hope to see NEW BLOOD Politics to at least give some fresh ideas into our “near collapse” Political Situation. Talking about University Town, I hope to see more of these. What I know is Baguio, then Dumaguete (Siliman U).

  28. MBW I am not only talking of Demograpics. I am talking about ATTITUDES and VALUES. Rapid Population is one culprit but here are a whole gamut of other culprits to this.

  29. DEVILS These Car Insurance Companies are USELESS. As I’ve said in another comment, when they offer plans and all that, they act like you’re a Prince or a Princess but once you need to process CLAIMS, they either EVADE or show their TRUE COLORS – well they avoid payment plain and simple.

    Yes, it’s better to have your own “Insurance Fund” at least you’re the keeping it. It’s so hard to TRUST your money to these Firms knowing that you are secured (in this financial aspect) but then when you need the help of these PRE-NEEDS, they suck big time.

    I don’t know why these INSURANCE COMPANIES still survive. The only way to kill them is for people not to buy Premiums and Plans, let’s see what happens.

    Yes, the Film “SICKO” was produced and directed by Michael Moore I think.

  30. “Hey Karah, dont you know that your presence is putting order in this blog. Biglang nabawasan yung mga bangayan personalan na comments. Kaya maganda ang kinalabsan. Mas lalong nakakenjoy ang forum na to.” rego

    agree with you rego. but the first time karah posted her comment here one bigot (your friend) started hitting her. too typical of a behavior of those patriots from another blog. but i guess napahiya rin later.

  31. MLQ3: Your reply to my reply is a bit confusing but anyhow I’ll do what you said according to how I understand it 😀 You must be sleepy for saying such confusing stuff.

    Okay, I’ll check tomorrow re: Samplings of Government Salaries (1937). Will wait for that and we’ll try to see the relative values of such Salaries at present. Night.

    P.S. Regarding the other assignment re: Historical Forensic Accounting. Will post tomorrow since I haven’t read the Article yet (I think it was about your Grandpa). Reading and browsing thru comments, I’m getting cross-eyed. 😀

  32. karah, what i have before me is commonwealth act no. 446, the general appropriations act for 1939-1940

    a sampling (salaries and wages are per annum; the minimum daily wage in this era was 1 peso a day)

    I. National Assembly

    One Speaker of the National Assembly: 16,000

    Ninety-seven members of the National Assembly at 5,000: 485,000

    One Secretary of the National Assembly: 9,000

    Two stenographers at 3,480: 6,960.00

    One clerk-stenographer: 2,400

    One clerk-stenographer: 1,200

    Two messengers at 480: 960

    One chaffeur: 720

    One secretary to the commission on impeachment: 2,400

    One guard: 720.00

    Six guards at 600: 3,600

    Two roneo-operators at 540: 1,080

    Two translators at 2,760: 5,520

    One janitor and chief watchman, with free quarters, water and light, while required to live in the Legislative Building: 1,080

    Four watchmen at 660: 2,640

    Four elevator operators at 660: 2,640

    One laborer: 600

    For technical, secretarial, and clerical services to the Members of the National Assembly: Provided, that the total cost of such service for each Member shall not exceed the sum of 6,000 per annum, the latter to fix and determine the number and compensation and the force required for such service, the length of service, and whether part or full time, in Manila or outside; Provided, further, That no member of said technical, secretarial, or clerical force shall be paid per diems or traveling expenses when leaving Manila or rendering service outside of the city: 588,000

    For the expenses of the Assembly in connection with official receptions and entertainments: 3,000

    (total amount for the National Assembly: 1,785,050.00)

    II. Office of the President

    The President of the Philippines: 30,000

    One Secretary to the President, with the rank of Secretary of Department: 12,000

    One Assistant Secretary to the President: 9,000

    One administrative assistant: 6,000

    One technical assistant: 3,600

    One stenographer: 2,400

    Three messengers at 480: 1,440

    One watchman: 840

    One chief janitor: 660

    Five janitors at 480: 2,400

    One legislative assistant: 6,000

    One librarian: 1,200

    One protocol officer: 6,000

    Additional compensation of 10 per diem to aides-de-camp to the President: 10,980

    One chief of records and curator: 5,040

    Additional compensation of 10 per diem to the Provost Officer and Commandant, Malacanan Guard: 3,660

    One steward: 1,560

    One cook: 1,080

    One cook: 1,020

    One cook: 540

    Two servants at 660: 1,320

    One laundryman: 600

    One laundrywoman: 600

    One chauffeur: 1,140

    One chauffeur: 1,080

    One chauffeur: 960

    One gardener: 1,020

    (Total amount for the Office of the President: 329,140.00)

    etc, etc. Total National Budget for 1939-40: 74,441,357.00

  33. MLQ3: With regards to the SAL’s, I would understand that some factions want “greater transparency” and one faction wanted “secrecy.” I hate to say this but EVIL prevailed in that regard.

    What’s puzzling is that why didn’t they adopt your idea? I mean we are already in the 21st Century. Here they come proposing about an NBN and yet even in the Palace, there’s no EFFICIENT & EFFECTIVE SYSTEM to handle Archiving much more putting these information in a ON-LINE DATABASE. A lot of people might not have any interest about EO’s, AO’s, MC’s but some people are the these some people are also Taxpayers. Did they give any reason why they rejected your proposal?

    I am amazed at the same time aghast by the fact that you said that “there’s not organized system of archiving presidential documents” even to this date. Wow. What are the staff doing in the Palace anyhow? Counting Lizards on the wall?

  34. “The Enron executives were already confortably rich with their salaries,bonuses and other perks and yet, the exec’s wife still charged her shopping expenses to the corporate accounts.

    It is not only greed. It is also power and accessibility to the resources.” The Cat

    so true Cat-cat. i’m a witness to that.

  35. Manolo, ah. if its like a week in review or archiving something, then its all for the better. after all, what better way to learn the lessons of the past presidency but from that record. (and i guess Jolina’s President’s week in review doesn’t count eh?)

    MBW, lols. determined to kill her? gasp. i think people are terrified she’d be assassinated. jz imagine the chaos and anarchy that would ensue. altho ur right, when someone’s determined, not even the most vigilant security will be able to stop it.

    karah, ah well. i guess what is needed is information campaign abt other options aside from these companies. people have to know they can secure their money on their own. in the US, they have various NGOs that are consumer oriented, evaluating private companies, products, etc, etc. companies with bad practices are pinpointed and consumers are then forewarned. suits are also filed, facilitated through these groups. TORT is big in the US. in here, i doubt if even most filipinos can comprehend they can probably milk a lot from big companies if they can prove harmful wrong doing of these companies. jz wait till pinoys realize what a cash cow that is and you’d have companies here rushing to improve consumer services.

  36. One wonders what is really behind all this.

    At first glance, it looks like a fight over a medium size deal.

    What puzzles me is why the executive did not give JDV3 another deal somewhere else in compensation.

    I am also curious as to why the Speaker and the President have allowed, what appears to be a “family” squabble, to spill out into the public’s view.

    The only thing that is clear is that none of the current actors/puppets on stage are there from any deep seated sense of morality or patriotism.

    I think we are seeing the opening phases of a serious conflict within the ruling coalition to determine what will happen in 2009/10.

    If an agreement is not reached between the Speaker and the President soon, we can expect ever more sordid revelations.

    A few dead bodies too, but that will be from over-enthusiastic minions (who are not cleared for the real plan) getting carried away.

  37. “Filipinos still have strong REGIONALISTIC TENDENCIES. Now there are advantages and disadvantages. Even in Politics, it’s still a game of “What province you came from” or “What language/dialect you speak?” The rivalry is still there though not obvious. Even in Elections, there’s the Cebuano Vote, the Ilocandia Vote, and so on and so forth. How about a Federal form of Government?” – Karah

    These tendencies could still be put to good use yet, I have always found organizing large groups into “small unit leadership” sub-groups very effective and with an efficient coordination system – you’ll get a “eureka – like” reaction, mountains can be moved this way. Top that off with an agreed common direction, allow “guided” autonomy to these leaders and maybe even inject some form of competition, you’ll be up and running in no time. Federal looks ideal for our geological and culturally-diversed setup, if only we are lucky enough to choose good leaders.

  38. “Filipinos still have strong REGIONALISTIC TENDENCIES”

    For God’s sakes every big country has this problem. The US had a civil war, for crying out loud. They killed one another. Regionalism is only a problem if your people are primitives.

    Russia, ancient China, Most big countries in Europe. All these excuses about why we’re poor lack insight.

  39. BrianB

    Precisely, all we need is to rally behind a common goal – all regions, every island, every dialect group, together “we refuse to be poor, we refuse to be victims, from now on we control our own destiny and take hold of victory!” and then go back to our jobs and work our tails off! And talking about helping the poor, there’s this organization “Hope” I think thats soliciting for their scholarships for deserving underpriveleged children, I pass by their booth in the mall all the time, would anyone be interested in helping these people out by sponsoring a child? This is a step to converting what we’ve been fervently discussing into action…

  40. “we refuse to be poor, we refuse to be victims, from now on we control our own destiny and take hold of victory!” – Ramrod

    And in the process, i hope the ‘we’ would increasingly stand for ‘We Filipinos’ (not ‘we arroyos’, ‘we cebuanos’, ‘we malays’, ‘we fil-ams’ etc.)

  41. cvj,

    The “arroyo’s” are saying “we refuse to get caught you amateurs!” “hahahaha, hahahaha!” (ala Dr. Evil)

  42. karah, providing public access to SAL’s wasn’t my idea. it was the brainchild of Rigoberto Tiglao, at the time presidential chief of staff. He had many reform-oriented ideas and proposals. But he and those who worked with him, were only a faction in a large administration with competing interests (as is the case in any administration). The Supreme Court itself refuses to publish it’s SALS which played a role in the impeachment attempt vs. then Chief Justice Davide.

    I can only hazard a guess as to the sloppy nature of record-keeping in the Palace. First, fewer and fewer crucial documents are written, because of the potential of leaks; second, much of what really ends up decided is done so by means of informal conversations, the era of having presidential meetings accompanied by stenographic notes is long past. third, a president’s methods of management really has an impact on the way record-keeping’s held. ramos, for example, instituted the bar code system where every document received got a bar code that was scanned into a database for tracking purposes.

    the permament staff of the palace do not have access to the inner offices of the president, just as since the estrada years, the traditional powers of the executive secretary have been diluted and so, no one is really on top of minding the sotre, this is politically useful as the more overlapping functions there are, the more everyone is dependent on direct presidential intervention to resolve issues concerning turf. turf, as we know, is the no.1 obsession of all bureaucrats, anywhere.

    we also do not have a tradition of presidents donating their archives to the state, as far as i know, only my grandfather donated his presidential papers and he had a very organized executive secretary. the quirino, roxas, laurel, magsaysay papers are in private hands administered by foundations established by their families. marcos’s papers are under sequestration. the aquino and ramos papers are in their respective hands as well. i undersatand the papers of dm will end up in his alma mater, ust, while the president intends to donate her presidential papers to the ateneo de manila.

  43. cjv, i myself concentrate my studies on the american period, but the debate on the malolos constitution are interesting, the definitive book so far is cesar adib majul’s book on the political thought of the malolos republic. you will find many of your views identitical with mabini’s.

  44. I’m having eyebags with this blogging thing. Just get some cucumber and rest my eyes for a while . Now I know what are the effects of blogging – lack of sleep and eyebags.

  45. professional dilettante:

    good question. there is no reason things should have come to this within the ruling coalition, unless in the palace, the hard-liners have taken over (and it seems logical they have, starting 2005) which means normal back channels to smooth things out are gone, and there’s a take-no-prisoners mentality. in which case, escalation and brinksmanship is the name of the game, and the reason why open war is erupting between the speaker, who is accomodation personified, and the palace, which thrives on a bunker mentality.

  46. karah, eyebags and i think you established a record for this blog -the first time blogflirting was attempted by a commenter with another commenter!

  47. Manolo, thanks for the pointer. I checked the Singapore National Library and they have two of Majul’s books:

    – Mabini and the Philippine revolution
    – The political and constitutional ideas of the Philippine revolution
    – Apolinario Mabini revolutionary

    I’ll check them out when time permits.