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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Newsbreak's Expose

'This is the Chairman Calling'
By the NEWSBREAK team


ON May 13, 2004, Efraim Genuino, chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), had a dinner meeting with then elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano at the pricey Yura-kuen restaurant at the Manila Diamond Hotel.

It was three days after the national elections and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was already canvassing some of the provincial and city certificates of canvass for the senatorial and party-list race.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., in a press conference the following day, denounced the meeting. He said it was held "under the circumstances when Pagcor stands accused of funding the President's election bid."

On the run-up to the May 10 polls, Pagcor sources told NEWSBREAK that the gaming agency had been channeling its intelligence funds to finance the campaign bid of President Arroyo. The sources also said Pagcor had been spending hundreds of millions of its public relations and advertising funds to promote Arroyo's candidacy. The intelligence and the public relations and advertising funds combined easily amount to P500 million.

While admitting that he was at the restaurant that night, Garcillano however denied he met with Genuino. He said he did not even know Genuino personally.

But new evidence, courtesy of the wiretapped Garcillano conversations, now reveal otherwise. Moreover, they shared more than a nodding acquaintance, with one casually addressing the other as "padre" or "pare" and their conversations being more than a social chat. The conversations establish Garcillano as an operator and Genuino as a source of pay-offs.

Genuino, through Pagcor spokesperson Dodie King, denied knowing Garcillano personally. He said Genuino never had any business with the Comelec or any of its officials.

Not Mike, not Barbers

Aside from a woman who sounded like President Arroyo, other politicians and election officers based in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao made several calls to Garcillano. But Garcillano had one regular caller: an unidentified male who kept asking him for election updates and, in two instances, possible pay-offs to election manipulators.

In previously published transcripts, the man was identified as losing senatorial candidate Robert Barbers, who barely missed the 12th senatorial slot. In some instances, the man was identified as First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo.

For instance, in a conversation on May 24, 2004, the male voice that asked Garcillano if it would be possible "to increase the vote to 200 [to] 300 [thousand]" was identified in earlier transcripts released by the opposition as belonging to Barbers. In a May 27 conversation, the man talking to Garcillano and complaining that he was dealing with a wishy-washy poll operator was identified as Mr. Arroyo.

But Pagcor managers told NEWSBREAK that the man was actually Genuino. They reviewed the tapes from the ABS-CBN Web site and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism blog site.

The review was prompted by two portions in the transcript, both dated June 8, 2004, where a man who sounded like Genuino and an unidentified male talked of meeting at a Japanese restaurant. The Pagcor managers' suspicions were further roused after recalling the Yura-kuen meeting last year.

While there were calls made by Barbers and Mr. Arroyo in the tape, the Pagcor sources, being familiar with their chairman's voice, easily identified those of Genuino's.

Moreover, unlike Genuino, Mr. Arroyo and Barbers identified themselves to Garcillano when making calls, while the Pagcor chair casually addressed the former poll official as "padre" or "pare."

15 Recorded Conversations

Based on a Pagcor manager's review, Genuino made at least 15 calls to Garcillano from May 24 to June 14, 2004. Most of the calls apparently revolved around Genuino's frantic effort to put Bigkis Pinoy Movement, a party-list hopeful founded by Genuino and Mr. Arroyo's close allies, in the winning circle.

Incorporators of Bigkis Pinoy, which started as a foundation, hold different posts in cash-rich government agencies. The contents of the Genuino-Garcillano conversations were corroborated by events that transpired last year.

In their first recorded conversation on May 24, 2004, Genuino identified himself as "chairman," in apparent reference to his position as Pagcor chair. Garcillano readily acknowledged his caller.

In that call, an anxious Genuino told Garcillano that certificates of canvass from four provinces had yet to arrive. Garcillano replied: "Bakit ilan na ang panalo nila? (Why, what have they won?)"

The man said: "675,000 na eh, 175,000 ang boto natin. Kung madagdagan lang sana ng mga 200 to 300. (650,000 already. We have 175,000 votes. If we could just add around 200 to 300.)"

A check with Comelec showed that on May 23, Bigkis Pinoy had tallied 175,971 votes, or only 1.5 percent of the votes cast for the party-list race. This means its vote percentage was still way below the required 2 percent of the votes cast for it to earn a seat in the House of Representatives. A group can garner a maximum of three seats.

As of May 23, Bigkis Pinoy was 21st in the party-list ranking.

In a succeeding conversation, a man who sounded like Genuino sought Garcillano's advice regarding a group of alleged Comelec people who offered their services to rig votes. Genuino said the group was asking for P5 million.

Apparently unsure which group had approached Genuino, Garcillano told him not to strike a deal so readily. "Makiki-ano ka muna, pagkatapos titingnan ko kung sino. Kunwari lang maki-ano ka. Ipasok mo ang tao mo (Just play along while I check them out. Bring your people in)," Garcillano advised.

Genuino said he was willing to increase the pay if needed.

On May 27, Genuino called Garcillano, complaining, "'Yung kausap namin eh atras-abante, umatras na naman. (These people we spoke with keep changing their minds, they've just pulled out again). "

Garcillano told Genuino not to pursue the deal any longer. "Baka kaya na rin kasi (We may not need them after all)," adding that he would try his best.

On June 2, 2004, Genuino called Garcillano, asking if the latter was able to remedy the situation. Garcillano said they were able to proclaim only 15 winners and that he would try to have one included in the winning list.

Garcillano also complained that he was having a hard time "because Madame was calling incessantly" regarding the missing Camarines Norte ballot box.

A check with the Comelec clerk of court showed that on June 2, the en banc commission proclaimed 15 party-list groups that met the 2-percent minimum required votes. Bigkis Pinoy had so far only received 186,264 votes or 1.4 percent of the total votes cast.

Desperate Bid

Based on the wiretapped conversation, Genuino is one who does not give up easily. On June 3, 2004, he placed three calls to Garcillano that were only minutes apart. In these calls, he took pains to find a solution to his problems.

In his June 3 calls, Genuino informed Garcillano that no one was watching the counting in Basilan anymore, and asked if it would be possible therefore to "put 70,000 [votes] there." In another call, he told Garcillano that Isabela province might also provide additional votes.

Genuino repeatedly stressed that only 70,000 votes were needed "and if there are other considerations, just tell me for any additional..." Garcillano replied in the affirmative.

Apparently, the 70,000 votes Genuino was referring to were the additional votes that Bigkis Pinoy needed to satisfy the 2 percent requirement.

A few hours later that same day, Genuino again called Garcillano. This time, the conversation dealt with the cost of fixing the operators. Based on the context of their conversation, Garcillano had assured the operators P1 million for the job but told Genuino they might ask for more.

The following day, on June 4, 2004, Genuino and Garcillano had agreed to peg the bribe between P1.5 million to P2 million. Garcillano instructed Genuino to deliver the money to his secretary, Ellen Peralta.

On June 8, at 11:05 a.m., Genuino called Garcillano to inform him that the he was already waiting at a Japanese restaurant. "Pero 11:30 pa magbubukas 'tong Japanese restaurant (But it'll open only at 11:30)," Genuino said.

An hour later, Garcillano called Genuino to inform him that he was stuck in traffic on Buendia.

The Japanese restaurant was believed to be Yura-kuen in Manila Diamond Hotel, which Garcillano has admitted he frequented. The restaurant is also within walking distance of the main Pagcor office along Roxas Boulevard.

The last recorded conversation between Genuino and Garcillano was on June 14, at 7:45 p.m., when Genuino finally mentioned Bigkis.

Garcillano said he was trying his best to enable Bigkis to get the 2-percent requirement, but told Genuino that the group ALIF might get it first. On June 29, Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino or ALIF was proclaimed by Comelec as the last party-list group to have satisfied the 2-percent requirement.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Glo's Good... and Bad

There's The Rub : Good and bad

Conrado de Quiros dequiros@info.com.ph
Inquirer News Service

THIS piece was sent to me by my friend Billy Esposo in the Internet. It's the good and bad about Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's government. It goes:

Good: Spent more than P600 million on road-building. Bad: It was just one road. Good: Killed Marcos henchman and arch-opportunist Blas Ople by forcing him to do real work. Bad: Declared his corpse a national hero. Good: Magnanimously went out of its way to help a family that was in serious trouble. Bad: It was the Lopez family. Good: Successfully redistributed incomes. Bad: Nobody knows where the incomes were redistributed to. Good: Won the war against terrorists. Bad: The terrorists don't know it. Good: Made the country recall Diosdado Macapagal's greatness. Bad: There was nothing to recall. Good: Showed extraordinary compassion. Bad: To Joseph Estrada and Imelda Marcos. Good: Fought corruption. Bad: Corruption won. Good: Was the first administration in over 30 years to successfully invite a US president for a state visit. Bad: It was George W. Bush.

I thought I'd add a bit more to it:

Good: George Bush Jr. toasted Ms Arroyo's adherence to democracy. Bad: George Bush Sr. toasted Ferdinand Marcos' adherence to democracy. Good: Ms Arroyo and George W. Bush love democracy. Bad: It's equality they hate.

Good: Remembered Jose Rizal's death. Bad: Forgot Jose Rizal's life. Good: Is a great admirer of Jose Rizal. Bad: Is a great admirer only of Jose Rizal's height. Good: Said on Jose Rizal's grave that, being the source of this country's divisiveness, if she ran for president, this country would see no end of it. Bad: Didn't believe it. Good: Said on Jose Rizal's grave that if she ran for president, this country would have "never-ending divisiveness." Bad: Forgot to add after "ran for president," "and won."

Good: Launched a massive employment program. Bad: Hiring people to put up billboards and posters that said, "Vote Ms Arroyo." Good: Launched a massive cleanliness program. Bad: Having street sweepers sweep off posters of Fernando Poe Jr., Raul Roco, Panfilo Lacson and Eduardo Villanueva from walls during the campaign. Good: Launched a massive information drive. Bad: Through Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. campaign ads about herself.

Good: Has one of the most IT-literate populations in the world. Bad: Still conducts elections by ballot box. Good: Has an electoral body that knows its arithmetic well. Bad: Particularly "dagdag" [padding] and "bawas" [shaving]. Good: Has two of the longest-serving experts on electoral procedure. Bad: Ronaldo Puno and Virgilio Garcillano. Good: Has an electoral body that gets the election results to provincial canvassers faster than any of its counterparts in the world. Bad: Well before Election Day. Good: Other electoral bodies get to know the results of elections three hours after the polling booths close. Bad: The Commission on Elections gets to know the results of elections three months before the polling booths open. (This reminds me of our advantage over other police forces in the world. Other police forces have a response time to crime of from 5 to 15 minutes. Ours has zero seconds. A crime happens, they're instantly there.)

Good: Has great faith in God's ability to work miracles. Bad: God has a Visayan accent, and responds to the call, "Hello, Garci." Good: God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and invisible. Garci is all-powerful, all-knowing and invisible. Good: Admitted to being the voice on the tape. Bad: Thinks it is a recording of "I Did It My Way." (Well, it is.) Good: Confessed to the worst electoral crime of all. Bad: Is her own judge, jury and exonerator. Good: Endured the supreme sacrifice of exiling her husband to God-knows-where at the height of "Hello Garci" scandal. Bad: Enjoyed (along with her husband) the supreme bliss of exiling her husband to God-knows-where.

Good: Enjoys the counsel of people who converse with God. Bad: God makes himself known through people with bad sartorial taste. Good: Wants to unite the country. Bad: Believes the country is Joseph Estrada, Imelda Marcos, and herself. Good: Marcos once said in jest, "History will be my judge, but just to be sure I'll write the history myself." Bad: Might as well say, in all seriousness: "The rule of law will prevail, but just to be sure, I will be the law -- with help from Villaraza et al." Good: Is a good Christian. Bad: Believes Christian charity begins at home. Good: Is loved conditionally by her family and friends. Bad: Is hated unconditionally by everybody else.

Good: Remembers the 10 Commandments. Bad: Forgot the "not" in them.

Good: "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not put strange gods before me." Bad: "I am the Lady thy president, thou shalt not put genuine election results before me." Good: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Bad: "God put me here." Good: "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day." Bad: "Today is a good day to lie." Good: "Honor thy father and thy mother." Bad: See above: Build a P600 million road for father. Good: "Thou shalt not kill." Bad: Don't resign, let the streets run with blood; alternatively, believe in George W's pal, Pat Robertson. Good: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Bad: Ask Jose Pidal. Good: Thou shalt not steal. Bad: Ask Jose Pidal. Good: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Bad: Ask Acsa Ramirez. Good: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife." Bad: Fine with the neighbor's husband. Good: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods." Bad: The nation is not my neighbor.

Good: Constantly talks to God. Bad: In front of a mirror.

Chaotic Decision-Making

At Large : Ad hoc holidays

Rina Jimenez-David
Inquirer News Service

IF SOME of us need any more proof of what an ad hoc republic we have become, then they need look no further than events over the weekend. Friday evening, amid speculations about Monday (Aug. 29) being declared a non-working holiday, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye stated quite clearly that this would not be so. The observance of National Heroes Day had precisely been meant to fall on the last Sunday of August (Aug. 28 this year), he said. And that, I thought, was that.

Imagine the country's surprise then when Sunday's papers announced that Malacañang had changed its mind and had declared Monday a non-working holiday. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had called him up at 6 p.m. of Saturday to announce her change of heart.

While students might have rejoiced at the prospect of an extended weekend, others, particularly businesspeople, were not so sanguine. A human resource consultant, who was part of a team-building exercise I had joined that weekend, lamented out loud the government's penchant for springing surprise holidays. "Don't they realize the impact on businesses and on our daily wage earners?" he ranted.

Over lunch at the Discovery Country Suites, after my family fetched me from Tagaytay City Sunday morning, I realized with some chagrin that it was too late to book us for an overnight stay. If the objective is to promote domestic tourism, after all, government should announce a holiday early enough so families can make plans for a three-day weekend. But the two members of the family who follow daily schedules -- my daughter the college student and my husband -- were happy enough doing as they pleased the next day.

* * *

BUT the hubby's plans for an extra day's rest were soon thwarted by the clarification announced by, of all people, a deejay from a pop music station, who said the holiday pronouncement was only for students and public sector workers. We tried to confirm the news on public affairs radio, but their Sunday afternoon shows consisted mainly of lifestyle advice and showbiz news. Only by waking up very early yesterday morning and tuning in to early-morning TV and radio news did my husband finally confirm that indeed he had to report for work that day.

Never mind the thwarted plans for an extended weekend, or the inconvenience of, say, canceling Monday appointments then reconfirming them yet again. But the sheer incompetence of officials, notwithstanding their apology for the confusion they caused, is simply breathtaking.

Bunye and Ermita admitted that the President gave neither reason nor explanation for the sudden change, even if it only involved the observance of a national holiday. I can only hope her motivation was serious and significant enough to warrant the wholesale inconvenience.

* * *

THERE are speculations that the last-minute holiday was declared to fend off a vote in the House of Representatives regarding the impeachment of the President. Would one day make a difference in the fate of the impeachment complaint, which observers acknowledge seems headed to an early demise anyway? Perhaps Malacañang felt it needed more time to nail the commitment of legislators in the "undecided" camp, what with young lawmakers from pro-administration parties having crossed partisan lines to sign on to the impeachment bandwagon.

But if this is so, then I think it's one more reason to call for the President's resignation. The "Hyatt 10" had said they left the Arroyo Cabinet and called for the President's resignation because they sensed that she would devote the remaining years of her term to appeasing her enemies and compromising with powerful interests just so she could remain in power.

The resignation of former Ayala Land head Francisco Licuanan III as chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority has already been attributed to the President's decision to override him on certain appointments just to accommodate her political allies, who are proving helpful in thwarting the progress of the impeachment. It doesn't seem all that farfetched that she would think nothing of throwing the entire country into an uproar by declaring an unscheduled holiday halfway through the weekend for political expedience. In that sense are we, the entire Filipino nation, as much hostages to Ms Arroyo's political troubles as she is.

* * *

WHATEVER the motivation for declaring an unexpected holiday, there are still ways by which the President or her officials could minimize the inconvenience and losses arising from the work stoppages.

For starters, government could stop tinkering with the calendar. One would hope that with the opening of each new year, our planners in government would already know exactly how many non-working holidays there will be.

Private firms already factor these in when making their calculations on productivity, so why can't government? Release an official list of "working" and "non-working" holidays in a year and stick to it! That's not too hard now, is it?

Second, if we're going to have a "non-working" holiday, then make it non-working for everybody -- workers in the private sector as well as in government; students in college and in private institutions as well as in other levels and in public schools. It's wasteful and stressful for citizens to have to interpret public announcements about holidays -- or emergencies, as in typhoons and other disasters -- as if they were quatrains by Nostradamus.

Finally, we have an entire network of government communication facilities, and yet official pronouncements contain either vague or incomplete information. Executive Secretary Ermita reportedly announced the late holiday simply by text-messaging the news to newsrooms and reporters. Ay-yay-yay, only in the Philippines!

Monday, August 29, 2005

PCIJ Expose: P3B Agri Fund

Billions in Farm Funds Used for Arroyo Campaign

by LUZ RIMBAN


The PCIJ's latest report follows the trail of nearly P3 billion released by the Department of Agriculture (DA) during the 2004 presidential campaign. Our investigation found that big chunks of that money were diverted to congressmen, mayors and governors who are allies of President Arroyo. We also found that a portion of the money mysteriously ended up in the hands of obscure private foundations and companies. At least one of these foundations doesn't exist, according to records of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). From the foundations, the money was siphoned to the Arroyo campaign, say DA insiders, Commission on Audit investigators and farmers' groups.

While Congress has been busy looking into allegations that jueteng lord Bong Pineda contributed P300 million to the Arroyo campaign, far less attention has so far been devoted to charges that the President's biggest donor was actually the Filipino taxpayer.

The Marcos wealth, we found out, was also tapped. The DA fund releases included over P1 billion that came from the portion of the Marcos money confiscated by the government. In April 2004, part of these funds were transferred from the Department of Land Reform to the DA. Up to now, the DA cannot account for these funds, which were supposed to be used to buy seeds and to bankroll community irrigation projects. Farmers groups allege the money was instead diverted to the presidential campaign.

In all, as much as P5 billion from government coffers could have been used to promote Arroyo's candidacy, PCIJ research shows. While the bulk of this amount came from the DA, other sources included the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Fund, which financed the issuance of temporary Philhealth cards. Millions of these cards bearing the President's photo were distributed during the campaign. In addition the Motor Vehicles User's Charge was used to pay for GMA billboards and to provide temporary jobs in an effort to win votes.




Farmers' groups have long been saying what happened to the nearly P3 billion released by the Department of Agriculture (DA) during the 2004 presidential campaign: that most of the money went to pro-administration governors, mayors and congressmen who were expected to support President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's election. [Photo by Rick Rocamora]
THERE ARE virtually no farms in Las Piñas, Parañaque, Quezon City and certainly not in Makati. Yet these overbuilt and densely-populated cities were among at least 100 congressional districts that, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), needed P1.8 billion in farm inputs and implements in February 2004, just when the presidential campaign was kicking off.

So when Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. was asked last week how he used his P3-million allocation from the DA, he quickly denied ever having received it. "Where did the money go because it sure didn't go to, well, at least (Las Piñas Rep.) Cynthia Villar and me?" Locsin asked in a privilege speech last Monday.

Part of the answer, according to records obtained from the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit (COA), confirms what government critics and farmers' groups have long been saying: that most of the money went to pro-administration governors, mayors and congressmen who were expected to support President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's election.

What the Ombudsman and the COA have so far discovered is that at least P120 million found its way to 15 obscure or nonexistent private foundations that had nothing to do with agriculture, but were apparently used as conduits for campaign funds. The investigators still have not traced where hundreds of millions more in DA funds ended up, but these too, they say, were likely diverted to the campaign.

COA auditors were initially baffled by the manner in which the money, disbursed beginning in February 2004, just a week before the start of the 90-day presidential campaign, up to early May, flowed from the national coffers to the DA's regional and local offices and then to the foundations.

But after months of research, the auditors, who asked not to be named, now say they have uncovered an intricate plot to use the DA's network to divert money to private groups and entities beyond government control and exempted from the rigors of state accounting procedures.

"It was a well-planned project involving national and local officials and the DA itself, with its nationwide machinery, which ensured easy distribution throughout the country," said a COA source involved in the investigation.

Questions over the use of agriculture funds are not new. Last year, several cases of plunder related to the use of DA funds were filed against President Arroyo and officials of the agriculture and budget departments.

Since last year, the Ombudsman and the COA have been discreetly following the money trail of the DA's cash-rich Ginintuang Masaganang Ani or GMA Project, a program with several components that include rice-and-corn, livestock and seeds program.

One of these components was the P728 million released on February 3, 2004, supposedly for the agricultural projects of congressional districts, towns and provinces. Another component of the GMA Project is the P1.1 billion, released on February 11, 2004 supposedly for "maintenance and operating expenses."

Both of these funds, according to former Solicitor General Fancisco Chavez, went to legislators, governors and mayors to support the president's election. Chavez said these were "in reality, an infusion into the political kitty" of Arroyo. He alleges that the president committed plunder when she used government funds for her campaign.

Crucial to the project was Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante, a close friend of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and his fellow Makati Rotarian. Bolante was named DA undersecretary for finance and administration shortly after Arroyo took over the presidency from Joseph Estrada in 2001. He was in fact the first Arroyo appointee to the department and was already put in charge even before the agriculture secretary, Leonardo Montemayor, was named.

Bolante's power over the agriculture department was widely known. Last year, just before the start of the campaign, it was he — and not then Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo — who sent letters to various congressmen and local officials informing them of the availability of funds under the DA's GMA Project.

In that letter, Bolante directed these officials to coordinate with his office "to discuss all the requirements to facilitate the said project fund." Bolante's letter is dated February 3, 2004, the same day that the Special Allotment Release Order or SARO for the fund was made available by the budget department.

A copy of Bolante's letter was part of the documents submitted by Chavez to back up his plunder charge. A similar case was filed by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and other farmers' groups.

Former DA Undersecretary Ibarra Poliquit admitted Bolante had a hand in determining how the GMA Project funds were spent. He said former DA chief Luis Lorenzo "authorized Bolante to decide on the realignment of funds." Although the DA has a list of officials whose "proposed projects" were to be funded by the GMA Fund, Bolante was given the authority to drop them and replace them with others.

Assistant Secretary and DA Spokesperson Jose Montes insisted "the money was put to good use" funding projects that were proposed by congressmen, governors and mayors themselves. He even cited the growth of the agricultural sector in 2004.

Montes also added that "the election had nothing to do with the timing (of the release of the funds). Ang timing namin always is kung kelan kailangan ng agrikultura yung pera, dun dapat natin ilabas. Hinahabol naming production targets, planting season ng April and May (Our timing is dictated by the needs of the agriculture sector. That's when we release funds. We have to meet production targets and the April and May planting season)."

Urban areas also need farm implements, Montes said. In the case of Parañaque, the money went to shredders for composting. And contrary to the impression that there aren't any farms or rice paddies in Parañaque, Montes said there is "urban agriculture" composed of what he called "vacant-lot farming" and the growing of ornamental plants.

Chavez said that the P728 million was disbursed to 105 congressmen, 53 governors, and 23 city and municipal mayors. He showed a list obtained from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) attesting to the releases. He also revealed that some of these recipients received actual cash and not farm inputs, as DA rules had prescribed.

It now appears from COA findings that part of the agriculture funds went to questionable foundations. In the Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog region, COA auditors traced the funds to groups like the Gabaymasa Development Foundation, Magsasaka Foundation and Aaron Foundation.

Records of the Securities and Exchange Commission show Gabaymasa's purpose is "to undertake integrated rehabilitation and restoration activities in areas affected by natural and man-made calamities." Yet the DA issued to the foundation checks worth P23.1 million, supposedly to purchase farm inputs in Quezon, Marinduque, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Palawan and Paranaque.

Aaron Foundation, on the other hand, is listed in the SEC as engaging in livelihood projects and daycare centers for street children. It received P5.2 million, supposedly for agriculture projects in Batangas and Palawan.

The SEC has no record of a Magsasaka Foundation but it is listed as the recipient of P6.5 million for farm projects in Palawan.

In the Visayas and Mindanao, the agriculture funds went to various foundations, among them Ikaw at Ako Foundation (P13 million for projects in Bohol, Biliran and Agusan del Norte), Philippine Social Development Foundation (P31 million for projects in Agusan del Sur and del Norte and Surigao del Norte), Matatag na Republika Cooperative P3.2 million for Biliran) and People's Organization for Progress and Development, Inc. (P5.2 million for Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur).

The other findings of the COA and the Ombudsman on these disbursements reveal that:

  • In Metro Manila and Southern Luzon, P31 million that was supposed to go to 23 towns and two provinces in chunks of P500,000 or P5 million each was not received by the local government units, even if these local governments were listed as beneficiaries of the fund in the SAROs and Advise of Suballotment (ASA) of the DA central office.

    The COA was not able to trace where most of this money went. The municipal treasurers of 19 towns issued certifications that their municipalities did not receive the money. Four other towns that were listed as having received P500,000-Lopez and Tayabas in Quezon and Lemery and San Juan, Batangas-reported to the COA that they got only 5,000 calamansi or mango seedlings, and in the case of Tayabas, also 434 bottles of Foliar fertilizer.

    The treasurers of the two provinces listed in the SARO also certified that they did not receive anything from the DA funds. The province of Palawan, for example, did not get the P5 million that was supposedly allotted for it. Instead, a check for P3.2 million from the SARO was paid by the DA to the Magsasaka Foundation Inc.

    Marinduque, too, didn't get its P5-million share. DA records show that P3.2 million that was supposed to go to the province was instead paid out to the Gabaymasa Foundation.

  • Seven towns in Bohol supposedly got P10.5 million, except that the entire amount was paid to the Philippine Social Development Foundation. Similarly, P3.8 million intended for two towns in Surigao del Norte, two in Agusan del Sur, and one in Agusan del Norte went through the foundation.

    The first district of Surigao del Norte, represented in Congress by Glenda Ecleo, also got P4.3 million coursed through the same foundation. The amount remains unliquidated as of January 2005. The P5 million for the province of Agusan del Norte was also coursed through the same foundation; the money also remains unliquidated. Both Ecleo and Agusan del Norte Gov. Angelica Amante are staunch Lakas members.

  • In contrast, in areas that were known to be staunchly supportive of Arroyo, like Central Luzon, the allocations for local officials were given in cash. This violates DA procurement procedures that state that disbursements from the GMA Project should not be in cash, but in farm inputs or implements.

DA Assistant Secretary Felix Jose Montes insisted no cash disbursements were made from the GMA Project. But COA records show that several provinces, including Rizal, Laguna and Batangas received cash transfers of P3 million to P5 million each during the campaign.

Former Pampanga Gov. and now Senator Lito Lapid also admitted getting P5 million in cash, which he said was put by the provincial government in a trust fund that was used to buy fertilizers and other farm inputs. A Pampanga farmers' group, however, denied ever getting any support from the provincial government. — with additional reporting by Cheche Lazaro, Booma Cruz, Yvonne Chua, Vinia Datinguinoo, Avigail Olarte, Alecks Pabico and BR Guiruela

Inquirer Editorial

Editorial : Beyond numbers

BY THE POLITICAL opposition's own account, today is make-or-break day for the impeachment initiative against the President. In truth, opposition leaders have at least until tomorrow to muster the 79 signatures they need, before the House Committee on Justice reconvenes to conduct what may well be the make-or-break vote. And they have 10 session days to gather 79 votes in the plenary to override an unfavorable committee decision. But there is no question that in the impeachment numbers game, they are nearer break than make.

If one of the lawyers assisting the opposition told it straight in a cable news interview last Friday, the pro-impeachment camp started to focus on the pursuit of the necessary signatures only late in the day.

"Without the 79, it's over, and that's why in fact, I have allowed the congressmen to take the lead in this initiative. I have asked the legal to take a back seat because what we are witnessing now is a political play more than a legal play," lawyer Harry Roque told ANC's "Dateline Philippines."

Politics, of course, is addition, and the critical truth is that the opposition is behind in the fateful numbers game.

But is this all there is to the crisis of legitimacy enveloping the President? Does the mystery of the controversial and revelatory Hello Garci tapes clear up-is it explained away-with a party-line vote in Congress? Do the questions about the President's possible abuse of government resources to cover up alleged election fraud simply go unanswered, because fewer than one-third of all congressmen found any of the impeachment complaints deserving of support?

We find it hard to believe that a premature up-and-down vote in the justice committee is or can be in the country's best interests.

For one thing, it will deepen popular cynicism about the role of national institutions in public life. For another, it will not resolve the crisis confronting the President. On the contrary, a precipitate vote that leads to the junking of the impeachment complaints will only deepen the crisis. President Macapagal-Arroyo will end up presiding over the United Nations Security Council next week with the hounds of legitimacy baying more loudly, and snapping more aggressively at her heels.

A vote based merely on political arithmetic will also cheapen the language of the Constitution itself, and of the jurisprudence on impeachment that has arisen over the years. Surely, it is a matter of significance that, while the responsibility for the impeachment process is borne by the most political branch of government, the Constitution is careful to attach legal and judicial requisites. Impeachable offenses are delimited; verification and sufficiency in form and substance are required, and properly promulgated impeachment rules called for; the "sole power" to "try and decide" is vested in the Senate, with the presence of the head of the judicial branch of government mandated when it is the President "on trial." Not least, the outcome of the Senate trial itself is phrased in terms of acquittal or conviction.

(Also, the innovative provisions on the Ombudsman, the chief government lawyer in anti-graft cases, are also to be found in the same Article in the Constitution.)

What this all means is that, while remaining a primarily political process, impeachment must meet fundamental standards of reason and of law and justice. How, one may ask, can that be possible in an intensely partisan, almost poisoned atmosphere? Through a political compromise that is based on reason and the law. For instance: The committee can adopt the formula first put forward by administration Rep. Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro City. Allow the original impeachment complaint, which alleges betrayal of public trust, to be amended by the third complaint, but only by those parts that allege the same impeachable offense.

That compromise, or others like it, will allow the two sides to meet halfway. It will strengthen the impeachment case and thus add much-needed credibility to the process; at the same time, it will penalize the opposition for using the process as a last, rather than the first, resort. Not least, it will be a political arrangement based on reason and justice, acceptable to men and women of good will.

Beyond numbers is reason. Inside reason is conscience.

Friday, August 26, 2005

GloriaGate Realignments

Analysis : Political surprises

Amando Doronila
Inquirer News Service

REALIGNMENTS are beginning to take shape in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the early stage of the impeachment proceedings against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, heightening the uncertainty over the final outcome.

Two recent developments have underlined the infirmity and volatility of the alignments over the impeachment issue. The first was the withdrawal on Wednesday by Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay of his signature on the impeachment complaint. Magsaysay's withdrawal came a day after four House allies of the President abandoned her to join the impeachment proponents.

Whatever were the causes of Magsaysay's withdrawal and the defection of four others cannot be established immediately, but what seems clear is that the move to impeach the President is nowhere nearer its target of obtaining the 79 signatures needed to endorse the complaint to the Senate for trial than it was on July 25, when the first complaint was lodged in the House. The complaint is still 33 signatures short of the number required to allow the complaint to go directly to the Senate bypassing the House committee on justice in which the complaint has been bogged down on procedural issues.

As things now stand, 46 congressmen have signed the complaint. On July 25, a headcount by the Inquirer indicated that 67 had "committed" themselves to impeachment, but 31 days later it appears that the opposition has not been able to marshal the numbers to accelerate the impeachment process while the complaint has lost momentum in the committee on justice.

The committee is grappling with the issue of which of the three complaints should be recognized for early action. The issue that needs to be resolved is whether the initial complaint filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano inhibits the filing of two other complaints. The resolution of this issue is taking time.

The numbers game is proving to be a formidable barrier to fast-tracking the impeachment process and reveals the political weakness of the opposition.

The other development, not directly related to impeachment, was the decision last Wednesday of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile to coalesce with the 14-member Senate majority. Enrile has for some time now regarded himself as an independent senator, and his decision formalizes his break with the official opposition. It is not clear what the basis is of the new coalition or whether the new majority is concerned mainly with passage of legislation.

This new coalition does not give assurance to President Arroyo that she can count on it in the event of the transmittal of the impeachment complaint to the Senate.

To begin with, Senate President Franklin Drilon and his Liberal Party colleagues in the Senate are no longer the President's allies following Drilon's and the Liberal Party's withdrawal of support from the President on July 8. The new majority is a mixed group, composed mainly of independent-minded senators whose position on legislative issues is not defined by party affiliation. There is less certainty of their votes in an impeachment trial.

The severance of Drilon's alliance with the President cannot be put in the same category as the defection of 10 Cabinet members from the administration. The 10 were members of the President's official family. On the other hand, Drilon belongs to an independent branch of government and is the leader of a party that been a political partner in an alliance, in which the party worked not as a subordinate of the President, unlike the Cabinet members, and had independence in alliance making. Thus, there should be different contexts and explanations in Drilon's break with the alliance and with that of the so-called Hyatt 10. Drilon has more flexibility in alliance-making as the current crisis unfolds.

While the switch of Enrile to the working majority weakens the opposition in the Senate, it also creates instability in the majority, which is not bound by steadfast loyalty to the President.

These two developments undermine the rather deterministic notion that impeachment is a political trap in which the President is said to enjoy a political advance to defeat an impeachment action due to the superior numbers of her legislative allies. The impeachment path is strewn with land mines that could make outcomes-either in the House or in the Senate-extremely unpredictable.

Impeachment is fraught with as many dangers to the President as they are to those driving the complaint. No side can take things for granted. The President is obliged to present a credible defense in an impeachment trial to persuade a number of independent senators that she deserves exoneration. Anything less will not work in her favor.

But one can't be too sure that some freak events would not develop to favor the opposition's effort to win enough votes to send the complaint to the Senate. On the other hand, the opposition has to work harder to overcome the numbers of presidential allies in the House.

The President is fighting for her political life. It is therefore foolhardy to think that she will not use the advantages of incumbency to defeat the impeachment move. In these circumstances, the opposition should not expect that an impeachment package will be handed to them, without sweat, like breakfast-in-bed service. The opposition has to work under the reality of the dynamics of the political system.

As for observers inclined to believe in the scenario of an inflexible and static political alliance, they might be due for a big shock in the outcome. Political crises in this country bring stunning surprises that demolish pet theories and predictions.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tactical Alliance

The Long View : Convened and reconvened?

Manuel L. Quezon III
Inquirer News Service

ON JAN. 7 and 8, 1984, the Congress of the Filipino People (Kompil) was held to address a pressing issue: What course of action should the opposition take with regard to the upcoming Batasan elections? Everyone said their piece, including Jose Ma. Sison who sent a message.

Joma advocated boycotting the elections. Many disagreed. A compromise was painfully reached: participation under certain conditions. The conditions were agreed upon by balloting. The Kompil had succeeded in revealing a way for diverse groups to come up with a common position.

Marcos, of course, rejected the conditions, which caused a flurry of renewed debates among the opposition. Lorenzo Tanada, Jose Diokno and Butz Aquino called for a boycott, citing the same arguments of the 1978 and 1981 boycott movements. The boycott group eventually formed an umbrella organization, CORD, which included former Senators Jovito Salonga and Raul Manglapus and former President Diosdado Macapagal.

Then the widow spoke. Cory Aquino was for participation, even though she had no illusions about the outcome of the polls. In February 1984, Cardinal Sin called for participation, too.

Unido decided to participate in the election, as did the regional parties, such as PDP-Laban, which felt that the boycott campaigns in the past had actually hurt the opposition. Another organization was revived to help guard against fraud: the National Movement for Free Elections. For the first time, the opposition would fight fraud with organized vigilance.

The boycott failed. The turnout was high and, for once, an organized group existed to catalog and inform the public of the government's electoral dirty tricks. The opposition took almost a third of the seats in parliament, after a heavy toll inflicted by the administration's massive cheating.

In the public mind, the opposition had proven its strength. It was time to plan for bigger things. Around the time of the May 14 elections, a Jesuit and businessmen's group began deliberating again on the contingencies should Marcos die. This group called themselves the "Facilitators." They finally decided on a way to find a candidate quickly. They called it the "fast-track system." Its aim: to avoid the inevitable bickering and internecine strife sure to attend the selection of a common presidential candidate should elections be suddenly called.

Emmanuel Soriano, Dr. Alfredo Bengzon, Ricardo Lopa, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, and Ramon del Rosario Jr., all members of Manindigan!, were the architects of this process. They met with the Convenor Group, composed of Tanada (representing the "left of center"), Jaime Ongpin (representing moderates), and Cory Aquino, the "symbol of unity."

On Nov. 13, 1984, the two groups came up with a list of "potential standard bearers": Butz Aquino, Jose Diokno, Teofisto Guingona, Eva Kalaw, Salvador Laurel, Raul Manglapus, Ramon Mitra, Ambrosio Padilla, Aquilino Pimentel, Rafael Salas and Jovito Salonga. A month later, these people met with the Facilitators and the Convenor Group, and they agreed to sign a Declaration of Unity. Kalaw and Laurel abstained.

Laurel did not sign because of the anti-US bases line in the declaration. He did not think the cause of freedom needed to add to its enemies. He also offered an alternative method for selecting a united opposition's champion, one that sidestepped the cause-oriented groups, relying purely on the politicians. His group called itself the National Unification Committee or NUC.

The Convenor's Group and the potential standard bearers, in an agreement signed on Jan. 2, chose a system in which the potential candidates would chose, by secret balloting and simple majority vote, the standard bearer from among themselves. They committed themselves to look for a more creative method, but in the meantime that would do.

The NUC offered a compromise solution, whereby the cause-oriented groups would be entitled to a 30-percent representation in the convention that would choose the standard bearer. It invited the Convenor's Group to a meeting. The group declined, sending Mitra to read a message politely explaining that it could not abandon the fast-track system.

But the negotiations went on--in time-honored political fashion--with a continuing exchange of proposals and counter-proposals. They came to a tentative agreement on the actual selection of a candidate, save for one loose end: what to do about Manglapus and Salas who were abroad.

But a common position with regard to the US bases remained elusive. The original draft was written by Salonga: the opposition would "comply with the US-RP Military Bases Agreement of 1947--which will expire in 1991, and oppose the continued existence of foreign military facilities in the Philippines. No military bases should thereafter be allowed."

Laurel opposed the draft. He was open to the renewal of the bases agreement, subject to a plebiscite. Diokno was dead-set against recognizing the validity of the bases agreement altogether. And so the debate went on until, finally, on Nov. 21, 1985, an agreement was reached and the platform approved. The bases provision finally read, "Consistent with our rights and duties under international law and the sovereign rights of our people, foreign military bases on Philippine territory must be removed and no foreign military bases shall be thereafter allowed."

The opposition was almost whole. The success of the NUC-Convenor negotiations proved the resilience of the old politicians who would finally agree to anything for the sake of unity and political effectiveness, because ultimately words meant nothing to them. Hence, they would survive into the era and the new political forces would die. In politics, the finicky finish last.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Inquirer Editorial

Editorial : Suspicions

COLUMNIST Lito Banayo blames the Inquirer, in a way, for the collapse of reconciliation talks between the administration and former President Joseph Estrada. Banayo suggests that the Inquirer banner last Saturday infuriated Estrada and the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai's Bro. Mike Velarde. Whether this is true or not, instead of dying down, the idea that some sort of "unity government" can be forged refuses to die. Both sides continue to nibble at the bait.

The proposal, as articulated by Velarde, consists of a majority of Cabinet positions going to the Estrada-led opposition (specifically, 60 percent of Cabinet portfolios) as a sign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's "sincerity"; amending the Constitution to permit early presidential elections in 2007, effectively pre-terminating the President's term; lifting the limitations on successive terms of elective officials; and "easing some restrictive economic provisions."

The proposal would allow the President to find a graceful exit. It would accord the Estrada-led opposition what it most wants: access to the levers of power. It would allow Estrada to proclaim his proposals for constitutional reform have been vindicated. And it would allow President Arroyo to free herself from the iron grip of the Lakas-CMD, a party that has never liked her, and from the influence of former President Fidel Ramos and Speaker Jose de Venecia, who want a different kind of constitutional change from what both Ms Arroyo and Estrada have espoused in the past.

Some civil society groups claim the President wants to announce the formation of a coalition government by this weekend, which is why immense pressure has supposedly been exerted on congressmen regarding the impeachment complaint. Malacañang, of course, denies all this, but what is certain is that the Velarde proposal has put a new wrinkle into the political scheme of things.

Politically, it is understandable for the Estrada camp to grasp at whatever straw is being offered. It may even be understandable for the President's people to be seen trying to work out a way to secure her political future while providing her more leeway by finding a new set of allies to replace the civil society forces that have abandoned her. However, the Velarde plan indicates that both sides will stop at nothing to get what they want.

What Estrada wants is an end to his detention and a chance to go home. The President wants to avoid, quite obviously, impeachment, with all the uncertainties inherent in the process. This betrays a fundamental insecurity about the process that may suggest a guilty conscience. After all, political observers have pointed out how the opposition's handling of the impeachment complaint in the House of Representatives has verged on ineptitude. And yet, despite the inability of the opposition in the House of Representatives either to secure signatures or come up with a coherent case, the President still fears for her political life.

If the Velarde proposal reveals anything it is how thoroughly all sides distrust the President. The idea that the proposal can be made, and taken seriously, shows that in the eyes of those trying to broker such a deal, the President has neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. Only her interests are permanent, and when it comes to those, apparently the guiding principle of all other politicians is to be permanently on their guard. The proposal presumes that the President is willing to turn her back on her public pronouncements on Charter change; that she is prepared to turn her back on whatever meaning Edsa People Power II has for her; that she is quite happy to accommodate in her government those expelled from government for incompetence and abusing the public purse; and that her challenge to be impeached was an empty one.

A trial balloon such as Velarde's has a limited life. If an ironclad deal isn't reached very soon, it will have to be publicly rejected by both sides to prevent a revolt by the allies of both sides. The Lakas-CMD, Ramos and De Venecia must be alarmed by such talk. Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson has already reacted angrily to it. The tenuous alliances within the opposition will be hard-pressed to survive an extended Estrada sellout that is there for all the world to see. And the civil society busybodies left out in the cold will be tempted to revive their alliance with a Left, which could be rendered irrelevant by an Arroyo-Estrada alliance.

What a mess.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

De Quiros' Column

There's The Rub : Seasons

Conrado de Quiros dequiros@info.com.ph
Inquirer News Service

I CAN'T help it, second of all, because I am a writer.

Who wants to write about Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when there is no lack of loftier subjects to talk about even in this country? Who wants to write about Fidel Ramos, Jose de Venecia, Raul Gonzalez and Mike Defensor when you can write about literature and music, the exhalations of the mind and the titillations of the heart?

People have asked me, "Don't you get tired of writing about politics when you can write about other things?"

I've always been tempted to answer, "Don't you get tired of being tired about politics when you can do better trying to understand it?" But being polite, I just say, "No, I don't. I can't just comment on the wonderful exchanges in 'Sideways' about the differences between Pinot and Merlot while the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, an elected president and an unelected one stares me in the face. I can't just reflect on the burst of literary and artistic creativity taking place in Asia right now when right at home I find only the stifling of freedom and basic decency. Law is too important to be left to lawyers. Politics is too important to be left to politicians."

I said something about this in the preface to my book, "Dunce of the Dunces" many years ago:

"One writes about things because one must. Because, as Edmund Hilary said when asked why he climbed Mt. Everest, it is there. In the end we do not really choose what to write, they choose us. They are there. We cannot choose to write only about what is bright and cheerful in the thought that the spirit is set free by them. The spirit cannot soar to the heavens on leaden wings. The spirit soars to the heavens by looking at all that is there, by reviling the vile and reveling at the marvelous, by facing the truth of its world and itself, as Hector faced Achilles amid the certainty of being killed, finding hope in despair, wrenching victory from defeat."

I remember that not long after I wrote those things, I saw an editor of a newspaper who wondered if I wasn't being a little OA [overacting] then. Particularly the part where I said writing was a matter of life and death, the only way to write was as if your life depended upon it. Didn't you think you were exaggerating? he asked.

Well, what I did think was that it explained in part why he never got to be a good writer, or editor for that matter. But still being polite, I just said, "No, it might be OA to put it that way, but it's true. The day we stop giving weight to our words, or worse sell them cheaply for profit, is the day we reverse the order of Creation. Instead of saying 'Let there be light,' we say, 'Let there be darkness.'"

I do not raise my voice to tell the truth as I see it, I let others tell their lies as they want to.

And finally I can't help it because I am a human being.

When I speak of the people currently in power stealing not just our body but our soul, I mean it in every possible way. What separates human beings from animals is the capacity to sacrifice one's self if necessary to save others. Animals have no capacity for selflessness, only human beings do. Well, this is an order that isn't just stealing our patrimony, this is an order that is stealing our humanity. This is an order that is reducing us to the level of animals, capable only of thinking of ourselves: In times of want, hoard; in times of injustice, oppress; in times of tyranny, fly to America.

Indeed, it is more than that we are being taught to act this way, it is that we are being taught to accept it as the natural order of things. We are being taught to find justification, if not virtue, in self-interest, in self-protection, no, in selfishness itself. How else explain how cops and soldiers can raid with impunity Segundo Tabayoyong's house without warrant and without legal justification and seize election returns (ERs)? Those ERs were the opposition's copies, provided them by election laws, which they entrusted to Tabayoyong for analysis. But there is no outrage over that brazen act of iniquity. It's almost as if we have come to believe that Ms Arroyo is right to do everything in her power to protect herself, legal or illegal, moral or immoral, right or wrong. It is to be expected. It is to be accepted.

I don't know that you have to be a writer to be aghast at the scourge afflicting our country today, caused by a current squatter in Malacañang, who got there in the first place because of our toil and tears, even while she was busy waiting for a signal from God or the Pope, whichever came first, to do what needed to be done. I do not know that you have to be a writer to be furious at the way our capacity for goodwill, our basic decency, no, our humanity itself is being stripped from us, layer by layer, skin by skin, like a butcher peels off the hide from a dead animal, by a poacher in our political life. I don't know that you have to be a writer to feel compelled by a force more elemental than citizenship, which is the instinct to save your soul, to rise to stop this madness.

Being a human being will do.

I myself am not very religious but I find much wisdom in these words by Ecclesiastes:

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, a time to die; a time to sow, a time to reap; a time to kill, a time to heal; a time to break down, a time to build up; a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, a time to be alone; a time to seek, a time to lose; a time to keep, a time to cast away; a time to tear, a time to sew; a time to keep silent, a time to speak; a time to love, a time to hate; a time for war, a time for peace."

Now is the time to speak. Now is the time to act.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Inquirer Editorial

Editorial : The fugitive

STRICTLY speaking, administration stalwart Rep. Prospero Pichay called it right. "[Former election commissioner] Garcillano is not a fugitive from justice. The Constitution guarantees his right to travel," the congressman said on Friday.

If the reports are accurate, the controversial election official left the country through Singapore more than a month ago, on July 14. Strictly speaking, there was no legal impediment to prevent him from boarding the plane: He had not yet been ordered arrested by the House of Representatives; he was not the subject of a hold-departure order; he faced neither prosecution nor conviction before a court.

It is that last condition that the Department of Foreign Affairs, under heavy criticism for its perceived role in Garcillano's "escape," now finds itself giving emphasis to.

"The DFA or the DOJ (the Department of Justice) is NOT the proper forum to determine whether Garcillano is a fugitive from justice or not. That function belongs to the Philippine Courts," a note at the top of the department's website explained. (Emphasis in the original.)

The note also quoted from a year-old DOJ opinion based on two Supreme Court decisions: The label of "fugitive from justice" applies "not only (to) those who flee after conviction to avoid punishment but likewise to those who, after being charged, flee to avoid prosecution."

Strictly speaking, Garcillano does not fit into these categories; not now, and not when he left for Singapore. But the Arroyo administration would be in serious error if it thinks that the matter can be left at that.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a leader of the political opposition and a former chief of the Philippine National Police, has insisted that the controversial election official could not have left the country's borders without the help of contacts in the Bureau of Immigration. "My suspicion is that it is the government which allowed Garci to leave," Lacson said. Even someone leaving through the so-called back door would need "exit stamps" from a BI contact, for instance. "Who has the capacity to do that? Only the government or the administration," Lacson said.

Strictly speaking, one does not need to conspire with the entire government to be able to leave the country undetected; one needs to conspire only with officials in the right places. Many fugitives have done exactly that, including former top police officers known to Lacson himself.

But this is cold comfort for the administration. In the public view, the flight of Garcillano was obviously conducted in secrecy; therefore, it was a conspiracy of the entire government.

It is important to note that, since the Hello Garci scandal broke out on June 6, Garcillano broke his silence only once: He spoke by telephone with an Inquirer reporter, from an undisclosed location, in an arrangement facilitated by Pichay, and then mainly to say that during the campaign and the count last year he talked with other candidates as well.

Other than that, his silence on the main allegation against him and the President has been ear-splitting.

The administration may wish to turn down the decibel level, but the only way to do that is to find Garcillano. If it had acted earlier, to meet the opposition's demand that Garcillano face the five-panel hearing in Congress on the alleged wiretapping, a strenuous effort to locate Garcillano may have sufficed to mute public suspicion. Now it is too late. Nothing less than finding the controversial election expert himself will allay public doubt about Garcillano's flight.

For the President's defenders, that is the crux of the matter: Garcillano's flight looks like an admission of the President's guilt. If for that reason alone, the administration must let Garcillano surface.

The President's crisis is essentially one of legitimacy. The best venue for presenting the strongest evidence against the President, and for the President to present her strongest defense, is through the impeachment process. But if Garcillano remains missing from the equation, the numbers will never add up. If Garcillano never appears as a witness, the legitimacy issue will remain. If Garcillano remains inaccessible for inexplicable reasons, the crisis will fester, regardless of the administration's wiliest impeachment-case maneuvers.

In the public view, Garcillano is already a fugitive-if not from justice, then from the truth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cebu Ships

At Large : World-class and made in Cebu

Rina Jimenez-David
Inquirer News Service

CEBU -- There is a long tradition of shipbuilding in this province. I remember a claim made some time ago that the reason Cebu has lost much of its forest cover (explaining its current problems with water supply) is that the province's trees have been cut down indiscriminately since Spanish times, for lumber to be used in building ships for the galleon trade and for wars.

The San Diego exhibit in this city's historic Fort San Pedro gives testament to Cebu's proud heritage of shipbuilding. The Spanish-era ship San Diego was constructed in Cebu in the 1600s, originally as a trading vessel until, on its last voyage, it was hurriedly conscripted into the naval service to do battle with Dutch ships off the coast of Batangas province, where it sank with its cargo of porcelain ware and pottery. In the 1990s, a French exploration company funded the location and excavation of the San Diego, bringing to light the country's rich trading history and Cebu's own shipbuilding heritage.

Well, that proud history and tradition of crafting sea-going vessels lives on in Cebu. Visiting with my family over the weekend, we proceeded from the airport to the town of Balamban, on the western coast of the province, facing Negros Occidental province.

Our visit transpired after I learned that some of my frequent flyer miles with Philippine Airlines were about to expire and after my daughter Miya complained that she had never yet set foot on Cebu. The visit to the FBMA shipyard in Balamban had been suggested by my friend and sister in the Pilipina organization, Alice Morada, a lawyer with the Aboitiz group of companies, when I asked her what places we could go to, besides the usual tourist spots. "The reason I am suggesting the place," wrote Alice, "is because 'nakakataba sa puso' [it's heartwarming] to see what Filipinos are capable of doing -- 'talagang' [truly] world-class."

* * *

ORIGINALLY a partnership with FBM Babcock, an international UK-based firm, but now completely owned by the Aboitiz group, FBMA (the A is for Aboitiz) provides both design and construction/manufacture services for different types of seagoing vessels-from passenger and vehicle ferries, paramilitary vessels, landing craft, crew boats and other "specialist" craft which are designed and constructed in Balamban and, from there, shipped to different parts of the world.

Most recently, FBMA landed in the front page of this paper when it launched its biggest vessel yet, a ferryboat for use in the Netherlands.

To reach Balamban, we traveled for a little over an hour by land through Cebu's Transcentral Highway. On the map, it looks like a fairly straightforward route, little realizing the highway winds through hills and mountains. At one point, though, the mountain view opens on one side to a breathtaking vista of the waters surrounding Cebu province: the Bohol Strait, Tanon Strait and the Camotes Sea.

Our guide to FBMA was Dave Prodger, who described himself as a "big, fat white man" who would be standing by the roadside in front of the gate to the Cebu Export Processing Zone where the shipbuilding facilities are.

Prodger is actually British, a welder who came to Balamban about eight years ago to train welders at FBMA, and eventually married one of them, the lone woman trainee among the first batch. They now live in Balamban with their two daughters, though Prodger's wife has since ceased wielding torches.

* * *

TWO vessels, of a design that was decidedly unusual, being a double-hulled catamaran (I hope I got this right!), were under construction when we came to visit. To our untrained eyes, though, the vessels, fashioned out of aluminum, seemed straight out of science-fiction films, looking like spaceships and huge star fighters.

The reason for the design, said Prodger, was that the vessels needed to be stable in the open seas, since they would ferry workers from the shore to oil rigs and would need to be as stable as possible for off-loading or boarding. The ships were under contract to FBMA by Lockheed-Martin for delivery to Mexico. Next door was another huge vessel, this one made of steel, awaiting completion, but on which work had been halted because the client had temporarily run out of funds.

Save for Prodger and a few other foreign management hires, an all-Filipino crew, including designers who either make specifications on clients' designs or work on vessel designs from scratch, work on the vessels that roll out of the FBMA shipyard. "Majority of our workers (nearly 200 of them) come from Balamban or the general area," said Prodger, though FBMA also provides training to apprentices from the Don Bosco school. As a project nears delivery, though, representatives of the various foreign suppliers-for the engines or interiors, for instance-as well as of the buyers stay on to see the vessels' completion.

* * *

INDEED, we felt a surge of pride after we left the work floor and walked along the corridors leading to Prodger's office. Lining the walls were blueprints of various vessel designs and framed photos of completed projects, with FBMA management and clients surrounded by workers in their dark-blue overalls and hard hats. It was heady to imagine all these vessels operating all around the world, testimony to the skill and industry of Filipino workers.

Prodger concedes that FBMA at the moment is facing tough competition from Chinese shipbuilders, who can afford to slash costs because of cheap labor. What would be FBMA's edge over the cheaper competition? "I would have to say our experience and the quality of our work," said Prodger proudly, pointing to a picture of a vessel sent to Scotland, two of which were made in FBMA and another two made in Scotland. "The ones we made are the ones still being used because they were better made!" he boasts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

84 Ways Parents Offend Their Children

Eighty-four Ways We Can Offend Our Children

by Dr. Gary Smalley

In my counseling and work with children around the country, I have asked many of them how their parents have offended them. I took their answers and compiled them. Here are some of their actual responses.

1. Lacking interest in things that are special to me

2. Breaking promises

3. Criticizing unjustly

4. Allowing my brother or sister to put me down

5. Misunderstanding my motives

6. Speaking carelessly

7. Punishing me for something for which I already had been punished

8. Telling me that my opinion doesn't really matter

9. Giving me the feeling that they never make mistakes

10. Not being gentle when pointing out my weaknesses or blind spots

11. Lecturing me and not understanding when all I need is some support

12. Never telling me "I love you;" never showing me physical affection

13. Not spending time alone with me

14. Being insensitive, rough, and breaking promises

15. Being thoughtless

16. Never telling me "thank you"

17. Not spending time together

18. Being insensitive to my trials

19. Speaking harsh words

20. Being inconsistent

21. Being taken for granted

22. Being told how to do something that I was doing on my own

23. Nagging me

24. Bossing me

25. Feeling unnoticed and unappreciated

26. Being ignored

27. Not being considered a thinking and feeling person

28. Being too busy to care for me and listen to me

29. Dismissing my needs as unimportant, especially when their work or hobby is more important

30. Bringing up old mistakes from the past to deal with present problems

31. Teasing excessively

32. Not noticing my accomplishments

33. Making tactless comments

34. Liking me only for my physical looks or abilities, instead of what's inside me

35. Not being praised and appreciated

36. Being built up and then let down

37. Getting my hopes up to do something as a family and then not following through

38. Being corrected without being reminded that they love me

39. Being disciplined in harshness and anger

40. Not reasoning with me, and never giving me an explanation of why I'm being disciplined

41. Misusing brute force

42. Reacting to me in the opposite way I think a Christian should treat me

43. Raising their voices to each other

44. Not being interested in who I am

45. Cutting down something I am doing or someone I am with as being dumb or stupid

46. Using foul language when they are upset with me

47. Being impatient, which often comes across as rudeness

48. Saying "no" without giving a reason

49. Not praising me

50. Sensing a difference between what is said with the mouth and what is said through facial expressions

51. Making sarcastic remarks about me

52. Making fun of my hopes, dreams, and accomplishments

53. Punishing me severely for something I didn't do

54. Being distracted when I really have something to say

55. Insulting me in front of others

56. Speaking before thinking through how it will affect me

57. Pressuring me when I already feel low or offended

58. Comparing me with other kids at school and telling me how wonderful they are and that they wish I could do better

59. Forcing me to argue with them when I'm really hurt inside

60. Being treated like a child

61. Not approving of what I do or how I do it; I keep trying to get their approval but they just won't give it

62. Seeing them do the very thing they tell me not to do

63. Ignoring me when I ask for advice because they are too busy

64. Ignoring me or not introducing me to people who come to the house or we see in public

65. Showing favoritism toward my brother or sister

66. Acting as if something I want is of little importance

67. Not feeling like I am special to them; It's so important to me to have my parents let me know, even in small ways, that I'm special to them

68. Seeing my father put my mother down, especially in front of company

69. Seldom touching me or holding me

70. Hearing Mom and Dad bickering at each other to the point where one of them is really hurt

71. Not trusting me

72. Making fun of something physically different about me

73. Seeing my mom and dad trying to get revenge against each other

74. Sensing that me dad never approves of what I do or how I do it

75. Not being able to control their anger

76. Getting mad at me because I can't keep up with their schedule or abilities

77. Making me feel like they wish they never had me in the first place

78. Not having enough time for me

79. Needing my parents but they are glued to the television

80. Seeing my parents spend a lot of money on their pleasures, but when I want something, they don't seem to have enough money

81. Making me feel childish

82. Not spending the time to understand what I am trying to say

83. Yelling at me when I already know I'm wrong

84. Making me feel like I hadn't tried to improve at something when I really had.

Sick Soul

There's The Rub : Virus

Conrado de Quiros dequiros@info.com.ph
Inquirer News Service

TO ARCHBISHOP Oscar Cruz belongs the quote of the day. "What kind of government is this? Are we in a military state already? There are no more principles. There are no more values and morals. Everything is just about money, money, money."

He said that last week out of sheer disgust, as his witnesses began to recant and apologize to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom they had earlier implicated in the "jueteng" illegal lottery. The sudden turnaround took place shortly after Jose Pidal, a.k.a. Mike Arroyo, arrived from abroad looking like Santa Claus. He must have given some people an early Christmas.

Cruz's words are today's equivalent of Emmanuel Pelaez's agonized cry in the twilight of martial law, as he was being lifted into an ambulance after being ambushed on his way home. The brazenness of the attack and depths of blackness it spoke of overwhelmed him. He turned to a military officer at the scene and still trying to grasp the enormity of the deed asked: "What is happening to our country, general?"

Days after Cruz expressed his own near-disbelief at the blotting out of all light in this country, the recantation did not abate but became a full-blown epidemic. Even people who were dying from liver cancer preferred to look after their mortal fortune rather than their immortal soul and risk the wrath of the permanent master of Heaven rather than the temporary squatter in Malacañang. Overnight, recantation became the fastest growing cottage industry in the country, people discovering the value, if not the virtue, of turning their back on their word.

It's not entirely new of course, although it has some novel features. The media have known the trick all along in the form of "AC-DC," or "attack and collect, defend and collect." That is the practice, done by opinion-makers in particular, of attacking public figures and collecting from their enemies, then turning around and defending them and collecting from them.

The underworld has another, and better, word for it: blackmail.

What is happening to the country? Quite simply, all decency is being stamped out of it. All the values and institutions this country holds dear are being perverted to support the lie that Ms Arroyo is its president.

At the personal level, the value of the Filipino word today has turned to Japanese money. (My apologies to Japanese money which, even at its worst, during the Japanese Occupation when Filipinos brought basketfuls of it to buy mouthfuls of rice, never became this cheap.) I know we are a forgetful country and cannot remember a time when "palabra de honor" [word of honor] meant something, when one's word was one's troth, when a "gentleman's agreement" (my apologies to the feminists, but that phrase is historical, not personal) was more ironclad than a written contract, but I don't know why, or how, we have sunk this low. These days, it has become the easiest thing to swear by everything you hold dear. You can always break it when it becomes inconvenient, or unprofitable. At worst, you can always say "I am sorry" with the voice of a zombie.

Can you blame the citizens for treating their word as a commodity to be auctioned off to the highest bidder when they have a president that has just shown that you could become president by doing so? Or indeed remain so for doing so? The wonder is not that Cruz's witnesses retracted, the wonder is that they held out for as far as they did. Indeed, the wonder is not that Faustino Dy has gotten cold feet, the wonder is that they ever got warm in the first place.

At the national level, the value of laws has been cheapened even more. Laws are as good only as the collective will is willing to enforce them. Bans and proscriptions mean nothing if someone can easily flout them and get away with it. Or if someone can just say, "I don't care about the law, this is what I want," and the people just shrug their shoulders and say, "Well, OK then."

The reason I am not particularly enthusiastic about an impeachment trial is not that, even if it passed in the House of Representatives, it can be railroaded the way the counting of the votes in the last elections was railroaded by Francis "Noted" Pangilinan et al. to find Ms Arroyo not guilty of stealing the presidency. It is simply that even if, after massively trying to buy off the impeachment court, Ms Arroyo were somehow found guilty as charged, what of it? She can always ignore, or refuse to accept, the verdict of the impeachment court and say she will not step down because the impeachment court is wrong. And dare the world to force her out.

She has already done it. What can an impeachment court determine that Ms Arroyo has not already admitted? When she confessed some months to be the person who "helloed" Garci, she admitted not just to an impeachable offense but to a criminal one. This is not a case where a president betrayed the public trust, this is a case where a non-president thwarted the public will. Yet all she said was: I refuse to accept that it is a crime, I refuse to believe I do not deserve Malacañang, I refuse to step down. And we seem powerless to make her do so. Why should we expect anything different after an impeachment trial? Indeed why should we expect anything different even after 2010?

The current occupant of Malacañang is the single biggest virus in this country. Not least literally: She is making people sick physically, some of them, including a couple of her electoral foes, have already died. But more than making this country sick in the body, she is making this country sick in the soul. You have a country where neither the individual's word nor the nation's laws mean anything anymore, you have nothing. Just a vast black void where the Philippines used to be.

Ask Faust what it means to be sick in the soul. Or lose one.

Monday, August 15, 2005

De Quiros' Column

There's The Rub : Reminders

Conrado de Quiros dequiros@info.com.ph
Inquirer News Service

I THANK Mike Defensor most sincerely for two things.

The first is for proving what I said a couple of weeks ago, which is that this government has ground to a halt. The problem with governing a country that doesn't like you, I said then, is that you can't. All you'll be able to do is keep in survival mode: You won't be able to "stay the course," as GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) likes to put it, you will be thankful just to be able to stay. All you'll be able to do is conduct a loyalty check on your people. All you'll be able to do is have secretaries whose first duty is not to run their departments but to try to keep you alive.

But to his credit, or discredit, depending on how you see it, Defensor goes well over and beyond the line of duty. Enough to dismay even Prospero Pichay, GMA's loyal servant in the House of Representatives. Commenting on Defensor's presentation about the "Hello Garci" tape being doctored, he expostulates: "Defensor should be concentrating on the environment department's reforestation program instead of trying to prove himself a sound expert. In the first place, investigating the authenticity of the tape is the work of the NBI. It is not his job to do that."

One might say the same thing about Pichay. His job is to help make laws, not to help keep a putative President. His job is to serve his constituents in Surigao, not to serve a master in Malacañang. But we may let that pass, he has done us the favor of showing exactly the direction his favorite government is going, which isn't horizontal.

But I am more sincerely grateful to Defensor for the second thing. That is bringing back to public focus the "Hello Garci" tape. That is the heart of the matter. I wasn't being facetious when I wrote that column on the state of the nation that said only two words throughout, "Hello" and "Garci." I meant every word I said. That is the only issue that needs resolving today, everything else is secondary and/or extraneous: Charter change, reform, who or what should take the place of GMA, jueteng, even impeachment. The central issue is legitimacy. The question is not how well or badly GMA rules. The question is whether she has the right to rule. The question is whether she is the President of the Philippines. The question is whether she has a mandate from the governed.

That is the heart of the matter. That is the state of the nation. We do not have a legitimate President ruling us.

That, of course, is the one thing GMA and her cohorts have been desperately trying to put a distance from. "I want to close this chapter and move on," GMA herself said in her speech admitting she was the voice on the tape, as though one can admit to murder and charge it to experience. Well, what she wants and what she'll get are two different things. Her cohorts of course—not the least of them Fidel Ramos, who is still around today because Paul Laxalt told Marcos, "Cut and cut cleanly"—have tried to help her get what she wants. And for a while, this forgetful country truly seemed destined to forget that GMA ever said hello to Garci.

My monumental thanks to Mike Defensor for reminding this nation she did. I can understand why Pichay should be so pissed off. It's enough to make you believe God truly works in mysterious ways. Or that people are really meant to serve a useful purpose in life, even if they themselves do not know how.

It's a case where the medium is the message. The contents of Defensor's defense we may safely forget. It is based on the word of a self-proclaimed Filipino computer expert who is facing several charges of murder, estafa and extortion, according to Angelo Reyes; and an American who himself finds his findings inconclusive and is not averse to retracting them upon examination of the "mother of all tapes." He admits he does not understand Tagalog and has no way of ascertaining whether the tape was tampered with or merely edited.

In fact, no one has made a more ironclad case for the veracity of the tape than GMA herself when she apologized for it. There, too, my monumental thanks go to Dinky Soliman and company—it is enough to make you believe people serve a useful purpose in life unbeknownst to them—when they convinced her, while completely believing in her cause, that it would serve her best to own up to her crime. GMA never denied that she spoke with Garci about the election results—"I was anxious to protect my votes during that time." She never denied the contents of the tape, she never referred to any portion of it being doctored. You know you're being falsely accused of a crime, you will not relent and apologize, you will stand your ground and face your accusers.

GMA's confession by itself is proof of a crime. Whether the tape is doctored or not can only show the extent of the crime, it can never refute the existence of the crime. The law is clear: No candidate may talk to an election official about election results, least of all the President, as no conversation of that sort may ever be presumed to be innocent. No one may do that and go on to become this country's most powerful figure, the one person set up for the people's—especially the youth's—emulation. What GMA did, as any public school teacher will tell you, is cheating plain and simple. What GMA did, as any ordinary citizen will tell you, is not a cause for reward, it is a cause for punishment. What GMA did, as the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines will tell you, is not a basis for going to Malacañang, it is a basis for going to Muntinlupa.

Again, I must thank Mike Defensor most profoundly for reminding us of the Garci tape and what it most profoundly signifies:

We have no President in this country.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Inquirer Editorial

One case

LAST Wednesday, the impeachment process got off to an embarrassing start, with our honorable congressmen consumed in a verbal brawl caught on radio and cable television. The apparently unplanned result was a decision made by the chair of the Committee on Justice, Simeon Datumanong, about 30 minutes into the "initial meeting," to call for an executive session.

In his opening remarks, Datumanong had noted the "unprecedented" circumstances the committee faced: The day the 13th Congress opened its second session, he said, was the first time that three impeachment complaints filed against the same impeachable official were referred one after the other to the Committee on Justice in one session day.

The circumstances raised three "preliminary questions" for the committee to answer, the former member of the Arroyo Cabinet said: whether to consider the complaints one after the other, whether to consolidate them into one, and whether to consider the effect of the third complaint on the first, which it had amended.

That was the last time a flustered Datumanong seemed to have the meeting under effective control. Immediately after his opening statement, a volley of questions and parliamentary motions erupted. Datumanong recognized administration Rep. Edcel Lagman, who proceeded to raise seven "prejudicial questions." Most dealt with Datumanong's third question: the status of the amended complaint as filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano and a host of opposition congressmen.

After Lagman, the deluge. Congressmen, including one who came in late and thus had to settle for the back row, complained about the lack of "access to a microphone" and the smallness of the venue. (Andaya Hall is actually the biggest room in the Batasan, next only to the session hall itself.) Other congressmen raised other concerns. Then Senior Deputy Minority Leader Rolex Suplico questioned the chair's decision to disallow congressmen who were not members of the committee from participating in the committee's deliberations. Unfair, the opposition said.

The executive session ended with a compromise: In addition to the regular and ex officio members of the committee, congressmen who filed the amended complaint or endorsed it can also participate. And the committee will resume meeting on Tuesday, this time in the session hall.

Considering the results and the likely nature of the discussion, Datumanong may have actually done the right thing. The executive session shielded the public from any more embarrassing displays of unruly behavior or a disorderly Congress. Unfortunately for him, public goodwill for such an action cannot last very long. An impatient public wants the committee to buckle down to work.

That means actually considering the impeachment case against the President in its totality. That means considering the first and third complaints as essentially parts of one impeachment case. (The second complaint, filed on July 4 by lawyer Jose Lopez, should not be considered at all, because the congressman who endorsed it has withdrawn his endorsement.)

If administration congressmen want to, they can choose the first, weaker complaint and disregard the third, stronger one. They certainly have the numbers. But they will, with the same certainty, reap the whirlwind of public outrage. Done crudely, such a committee vote will be seen as a brazen attempt to use the impeachment process, not to ferret out the truth, but to cover up the accused. It will be the second Jose Velarde envelope all over again.

The majority must realize the true import of the impeachment process: It is not only the constitutionally mandated process for hearing accusations of impeachable offenses against the President. It is also the President's main venue for putting an end to the credibility crisis she faces.

The way to do that is to throw the strongest possible case against her. If she survives a committee vote on the manifestly weaker complaint, the credibility crisis will continue to undermine her presidency. After all that trouble, the President will be right back where she started. But if she survives the stronger complaint, then she can finally put the crisis behind her.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Tainted Witness

Posted by Vinia Datinguinoo 
PCIJ

WHEN Sec. Mike Defensor introduced his audio expert, Jonathan Tiongco, to the media this morning, he took pains emphasizing that it was Tiongco who had vehemently opposed the appointment of Angelo Reyes to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

By pointing this out, Defensor wanted it known that no one could accuse Tiongco of being a mercenary; the guy had, in fact, objected to a key Cabinet appointment made by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and he is credible. He is a sound engineer schooled in Japan with some 12 years of experience in digital audio engineering.

But a dossier from the Philippine National Police (PNP) shows Tiongco has a checkered past as it lists a string of criminal cases against him, ranging from grave threats to murder.

And for anti-crime advocate Tessie Ang-See, Tiongco's credibility is suspect. Ang-See told PCIJ that in March 2004, Tiongco approached her to ask for her support in the cases against Reyes, who was then anti-kidnapping czar. Reyes was the subject of criminal and administrative cases filed in the Ombudsman for, among others, illegal detention, multiple murder, kidnapping, and grave coercion. These charges stemmed from the kidnappings in late 2003 of two Chinese-Filipinos: two-year-old Gian Jethro Chua and corporate executive Betty Chua Sy.

To convince her, Ang-See said, Tiongco showed a photograph of Gian Jethro's kidnapper who he claimed was a close-in bodyguard of Reyes. He also gave her a video of the crime scene where a bank robber was killed, alleging that it was a rubout and that Reyes had a hand in it.  The purpose, Ang See said, was to show Reyes's alleged involvement in kidnapping and robbery cases.

But when Ang-See had these independently examined, she was told that these were altered. Ang-See said no to Tiongco's request for her to support the cases against Reyes.

After she refused, Ang-See said, Tiongco began sending her threats through SMS. This was also the time, according to Ang-See, when she was included as one of the respondents in the supplemental case filed against Reyes regarding the case of kidnap victim Sy. (That case has since been dismissed.)

Early this year, when the Commission on Appointments was deliberating on Reyes's DILG appointment, some members of the body also expressed doubts about Tiongco's credibility. Sen. Dick Gordon said the CA had gathered documents showing Tiongco's string of criminal cases and his opposition to Reyes's appointment should simply be thrown out.

According to the PNP dossier, Jonathan Mallorca Tiongco, 35, had 11 criminal cases either pending in or resolved by various courts in Iloilo, Pampanga, and different cities in Metro Manila as of 2003. The cases include murder and frustrated murder, homicide, illegal possession of firearm, carnapping, grave threat, and estafa.

Six of the cases were dismissed by the courts either for lack of interest on the part of the complainants or after Tiongco secured a settlement. He was acquitted in one case; one case was archived after police failed to locate Tiongco. As of 2003, three cases were still being heard. 

Tiongco was born in Jaro, Iloilo and has known addresses in Fairview, Quezon City and San Fernando, Pampanga. He has four children, two each with his two spouses. The police know him to have several aliases: Jaytee, JT, Jeff, Jonathan Monarca Tiongco, and John Thomas Mendoza Tiongco.

The following is the PNP's summary of Tiongco's criminal cases:

1. Homicide, Pasay City, 1997. Tiongco was accused of shooting a barangay tanod who had responded to an altercation between the suspect and another man.
Status: Ongoing trial.

2. Multiple attempted murder, Iloilo City, 1996. Tiongco was charged with shooting three men. Police say one of the three men was a barangay captain who had interceded on behalf of a family with whom Tiongco's own family were involved in a land dispute.
Status: Ongoing trial.

3. Murder, three counts, and frustrated murder, Iloilo City, 1994. Tiongco and his co-accused were charged with shooting four individuals, killing three of them. He was finally arrested in 2002.
Status: Tiongco was acquitted.

4. Violation of R.A. 6539 (Anti-carnapping Law), Angeles City, Pampanga, 2001. Tiongco and two companions were apprehended by city police while in possession of a car not registered in any of their names. A month earlier the theft was reported to the police.
Status: Dismissed.

5. Violation of the gun ban provisions of the Omnibus Election Code, San Fernando, Pampanga, 2001. Tiongco was arrested after brandishing a handgun in an altercation with the complainant while the gun ban was in force during the election period.
Status: Ongoing trial.

6. Violation of PD 1866 (Illegal possession of firearm and ammunition), San Fernando, Pampanga, 2001. This charge stemmed from the same incident described in #5, for which he was sued for violating the election gun ban.
Status: Dismissed.

7. Grave threat, San Fernando, Pampanga, 2001. This charge involved the same incident in #5.
Status: Settled, then dismissed.

8. Violation of PD 1866 (Illegal possession of firearm and ammunition), Iloilo City. The dossier does not have details of this case.
Status: Dismissed.

9. Grave threat, Pasay City, 1997. This involved the same incident in #1.
Status: Dimissed.

10. Violation of BP 22 (Bouncing checks law), San Juan, Metro Manila, 1992.
Status: Archived after Tiongco was not found by the police.

11. Swindling/Estafa, Makati City, 1993. Tiongco was accused of failing to remit some P54,800 in company funds.