Sunday, December 12, 2010

Noynoy and the ‘Untouchables’

Balitang Kutsero: By Perry Diaz

Ex-prez Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has joined an elite group of people – the “Untouchables.” And the group is growing fast! On top of the list of “Untouchables” are those who are protected by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III: Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico E. Puno; Little President Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr.; spin doctors Sonny Coloma and Ricky Carandang; and members of the Kamag-anak Inc. and Kabarkada Inc. Next are the jueteng lords who are allegedly protected by the “Three Kings of Jueteng.” Next is Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who is protected by the Supreme Court.

Gloria must be in high Heavens right now. Yup, the Supreme Court’s 10-5 ruling that nullified Executive Order No. 1 -- creating the Truth Commission -- is a major, major victory for Gloria and a major, major setback for Noynoy.

Indeed, Gloria’s hard work in selecting the “right” people to appoint to the Supreme Court paid off. And by appointing Renato Corona as Chief Justice, it ensured that her “secret agenda” would be carried out to the letter.

Now, Gloria can claim that she has 10 black-robed rogues in her pocket… or as Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello call them, the “Gang of 10.” Ugh! That hurts. Be careful Walden, the “Gang of 10” might cite you for contempt.

Don’t be surprised if you’d see the mug shots of the “Gang of 10” in the Rogue Gallery, which includes a plagiarist Supreme Court justice and a midnight chief justice.

Next in line to join the “Untouchables” are Gloria’s 900 midnight appointees whom Noynoy removed by issuing Executive Order No. 2. As a matter of fact, one of them -- National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) commissioner and secretary Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman – has already become an “Untouchable” when the Supreme Court issued a “status quo ante order” reinstating Dianalan-Lucman.

But Noynoy isn’t giving up. He vowed to stop at nothing to “get to the bottom of allegations of large-scale corruption under Arroyo” despite the Supreme Court’s nullification of the Truth Commission.

I think Noynoy should start listening to his “bosses,” the hoi polloi. Many of his “bosses” told him that he didn’t need the Truth Commission to dig Gloria’s dirt cuz tons of Gloria’s dirt was already dug up in a multitude of previous Senate investigations. They’re there for the Ombudsman to use to prosecute Gloria.

The Ombudsman? Ooops! That’s a big-o problemo, amigo. Hey, as long as Merci Gutierrez is the Ombudsman, don’t expect her to prosecute her dear friends, Mike and Gloria Arroyo and their cohorts. And Merci’s term of office is good until December 1, 2012… unless Congress impeaches her. And that’s where the “Arroyo Court” comes into play. Do you see the big picture now?

The plot thickens… The latest buzz is that allies of Noynoy are demanding impeachment of midnight chief justice Renato Corona for the Supreme Court’s junking of the Truth Commission. In all fairness, shouldn’t the other nine members of the “Gang of 10” be impeached too? Like they say, “What’s good for the gander is good for the goose.” Yup, it should be all or nothing.

Jojo’s mojo… Guess who’s being blamed for Executive Order No. 1 gone wrong? Little Prez Jojo Ochoa. Yup, with all his “mucho macho” image as a heavy drinker and woman-chaser, Jojo surely has mojo. Perhaps Jojo should show Noynoy how to get mojo. He could certainly use it on Trish, Barbie, Liz, and Len.

Freudian slip… Asked by the media if impeaching midnight chief justice Renato Corona is a priority, Noynoy said, “There is a complainant, there is an endorser who is a member of the House of Representatives. We might have our own opinions. I ask you to go around and look at various civic of the judges complained of the decision, that came out in one of the major dailies. I’m just quoting from what was told me.” Then he added, “I might be disciplined by (my) superiors in the Supreme Court but I think this was a wrong decision brought about by a political court, by a political Supreme Court.” Did you notice that? Noynoy admitted that the Supreme Court justices were his superiors! Whoa! No wonder we’re having a leadership crisis. Would the president please come forward and lead?

Revising EO to include Bonifacio presidency… There are now talks in Nonoy’s administration of expanding the mandate of the Truth Commission investigate corruption scandals not only during Gloria’s presidency but also in previous administrations in order to satisfy the constitution’s “equal protection” clause. One of Noynoy’s aides suggested that the Truth Commission’s investigation should go back to the Aguinaldo presidency. Huh? Well, if they went back to Aguinaldo’s time, they should go further back – to the time of Andres Bonifacio whom many historians claim to be the real “first president.” Then they’d notice that today’s political wrangling was no different more than 100 years ago when Bonifacio and Aguinaldo were fighting each other while they were losing the war against their common enemy.

Now, this is going to be a major, major investigation that might take up to 100 years to complete. That would be something that future generations of Filipinos would be laughing at. By that time, the Philippines would probably be broken up into many tiny banana republics.

Let’s take a glimpse into what it might look like 100 years from now:

The entire northern Luzon would become the Kingdom of Ilocoslovakia ruled by Ferdinand “Dingdong” Marcos VI.

Pampanga would be divided into two countries: Liliputania ruled by the Arroyo dynasty and Juetengland ruled by the Pineda dynasty.

Mindanao would be united under the Sultanate of Ampatuan and the Sulu archipelago would become the Islamic Republic of Abu Sayaff.

Tarlac would never be united as one nation because of the ongoing Cojuangco War, which has been going on for almost two hundred years. However, a powerful clan would rule a little enclave called Paniquino in the middle of Tarlac. Paniquino would declare itself neutral and would become the Switzerland of Asia where the jueteng lords, warlords, drug lords, and kleptocrats secretly deposit their ill-gotten money.

If only our present-day politicians would come to realize that unless they can get their act together and institute reforms in the government, we’re looking at another Somalia in the making. But the people need to change as well.

A wise old man once said… “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

Indeed, one man can change the world only if he has the strength and will to change himself. Who is that man?


Saturday, December 4, 2010



Los Angeles, CA, December 1, 2010 - Mark your calendar as December 5 will prove to be one magical and unforgettable evening of memorable songs from the 80's when three mega-hit musical stars David Pomeranz and Stephen Bishop with Ms. Joey Albert, perform together in a special concert on Sunday (4 pm) on December 5 at the indoor Events Center of Pala Casino Spa & Resort in Pala, CA.

DAVID POMERANZ. During the last 26 years, Pomeranz's love songs have become part of the fabric of Filipino life. His 10-time, platinum album, "Born For You, His Best and More," is the largest-selling international pop album in the Philippines. His best-loved hits include "Got to Believe in Magic" (from the Scott Baio movie "Zapped"), "The Old Songs," "If You Walked Away," "Trying to Get the Feeling," "On This Day," and "Born For You."

STEPHEN BISHOP, a native of San Diego, CA, has become a Filipino superstar following his major hit song, "On and On," which charted at number 11 in the U.S., and "Separate Lives," sung by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin for the Hollywood movie "White Nights," which was nominated for an Academy Award. In the Dustin Hoffman starrer "Tootsie," he sung and popularized the theme song, "It Might Be You", composed by Dave Grusin / Marilyn & Alan Bergman, which was a Top 40 hit in the U.S., and also a #1 hit on the U.S. adult contemporary chart and won a cinematic Oscar in 1983.

JOEY ALBERT is a Filipino pop and jazz singer who has enjoyed an award-winning solo career for over 25 years that began when one of her first hits, “Tell Me” received a Gold Record Award from the Philippine Association of the Record Industry, which established her meteoric rise as a major Filipino musical artist. "Tell Me" became such a mega-hit that other known musical artists, including David Pomeranz, recorded cover versions of the song. Joey's other hits include "Over and Over," "A Million Miles Away," "I Remember the Boy," "Points of View," and Tagalog favorites "Yakapin Mo Ako," "Iisa Pa Lamang," "Ikaw Lamang Ang Mamahalin."

"Flashback: Best Hits of the 80's" is directed by Jet Montelibano and produced by Creative Concepts International in association with Pala Casino Spa & Resort in support of ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc., and its programs "Kapit Bisig Para Sa Ilog Pasig" and "Text Bata." Sponsors are Seafood City, Celebrity Tiangge, Manila Forwarder, Gano Excel, McFadden Realtors and

The concert is at 4:00 p.m., on Sunday, December 5, 2010, at the Events Center of Pala Casino. Tickets are $48, $58, $78, & $88. Available at Creative Concepts: 888-886-7889, 323-327-3483, 714-319-4870, 818-219-2009, via email at, or log on to EE Entertainment: 626-374-4906, 714-932-7532,, Ditas Yamane: 619-474-5300,, Manila Forwarder: 800-210-1019, 323-478-1599, 619-434-7191,, Seafood City Supermarket outlets (Los Angeles, Eagle Rock, Carson, Panorama City, North Hills, Cerritos, West Covina, National City, Mira Mesa), Pala Casino Box Office: 1-877-WIN-PALA (1-877-946-7252) or online at, and at Star Tickets: 800-585-3737 or at

For more concert details, log on to or

Pala Casino Spa & Resort is located in Northern San Diego County; from San Diego/Riverside, take I-15 to Highway 76 east five miles; from Los Angeles County and Orange County, take I-5 south to Highway 76 east, then travel 23 miles. Pala is 15 miles north of Escondido, 12 miles south of Temecula.

About Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig. The Pasig River is a 27-kilometer body of water that traverses across Metro Manila and connects Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay. Once a major transport route, source of water and thriving ecosystem, the river is intimately connected to Philippine history. Today, it is one of the most polluted and toxic river systems in the Philippines. Recognizing the need for a broad based effort to clean the Pasig River, the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) signed a memorandum of agreement last March 2008 to co-manage the rehabilitation of the Metro Manila water basin, with initial focus on the Pasig River and its tributaries. This partnership gave birth to Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP), which was formally launched in February 24, 2009.

About TextBata. Since its inception, Bantay Bata has received over 250,000 calls to help children in need: medical assistance, food, clothing, emergency shelter. In honor of those 250,000 calls, PAE Live! is proud to present TextBata, a text-based donation mechanism to allow donors to donate via their cell phone. Donors can text the word “BATA” to 50555 to donate $5.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

P-Noy’s First 100 Days

PerryScope: By Perry Diaz

Catapulted to the presidency on a campaign promise to eradicate corruption, President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s first 100 days was off to a good start with a trivial “walang wang-wang, walang tong” (no sirens, no bribes) message that made its mark with the people. With a survey taken several days prior to his inauguration showing an 88% trust rating on him, the populist tone and demagogic appeal of his inaugural message removed any reservation the people might have on P-Noy’s ability to lead the nation. All P-Noy had to do then was demonstrate that he has what it takes. And like all presidents before him, he was extended the traditional 100-day “honeymoon” period by the media. Now, that honeymoon period is just about the end.

Like with all his predecessors, P-Noy’s ship of state started sailing with an even keel. However, he was sailing in uncharted waters mined with more than 900 of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s midnight appointees that includes the Supreme Court Chief Justice.

His stewardship was erratic at first making a few miscalculations with his memoranda and executive orders. His first memorandum was to fire all of the government top executives who were co-terminus with Gloria. However, he was forced to recall some of them so the government can continue to operate.

Truth Commission

His first executive order creating the Truth Commission was met with strong resistance from Gloria’s few but vociferous allies in the House of Representatives. They immediately filed a complaint before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Truth Commission. And compounding the opposition’s resistance, P-Noy appointed former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. as head of the Truth Commission. Davide’s appointment casts doubt on P-Noy’s motive for appointing him to investigate Gloria. It must be remembered that it was Davide who swore in Gloria as president in 2001 and declared that president Joseph “Erap” Estrada has “constructively” resigned from the presidency. However, many people deemed it as a “judicial coup d’état.”

Notwithstanding the pending complaint in the Supreme Court, P-Noy ordered the Truth Commission to proceed with its investigation of Gloria. This prompted the Supreme Court to threaten the Truth Commission with a temporary restraining order (TRO) if it doesn’t desist.


Then on August 23, 2010, midway through his first 100 days, the unexpected happened – a tourist bus with 25 Chinese tourists from Hong Kong was hijacked at the Luneta Park near the Quirino Grandstand where P-Noy was inaugurated last June 30. The hijacker was dismissed senior inspector Rolando Mendoza from the Manila Police. Mendoza held the tourists hostage while he demanded that he be reinstated in this job. After 11 hours of negotiation the hostage crisis ended in a bloodbath when Mendoza killed eight tourists before he was fatally shot by police sniper fire.

The hostage-taking fiasco became an international cause célèbre. It put P-Noy in a bad light. Immediately, P-Noy ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to conduct a fact-finding investigation. After several days of hearings, the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) submitted its report to P-Noy. It named 13 individuals with complicity to the hostage-taking fiasco, including Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico E. Puno -– P-Noy’s longtime friend and “shooting buddy” -- and then Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Jesus Verzosa.


Then on September 11, 2010, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz dropped a bombshell alleging that two close aides of P-Noy were receiving P2-million each in monthly payola – protection money – from jueteng lords. During a Senate hearing investigating the “jueteng-gate,” Cruz disclosed the names of the “jueteng kings” – Puno and Verzosa.

Immediately calls for Puno’s resignation flooded Malacanang Palace. Verzosa has since retired. But P-Noy stood by his friend Puno saying that he still has confidence on him.

US bonanza

While Luneta-gate and Jueteng-gate were brewing, P-Noy embarked on his first travel abroad as president. Within a six-day period beginning September 21, he addressed the United Nations General Assembly; attended the US-ASEAN conference with US president Barack Obama and the other nine ASEAN leaders; and signed a $434-million grant to the Philippines by the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) to help fight corruption and poverty in the Philippines. P-Noy also talked with Obama for seven minutes after the US-ASEAN conference.

On September 25, P-Noy addressed the Philippine Development Forum in San Jose, California. The following day, his last day in the U.S., P-Noy attended mass with the Fil-Am community at the Mission Dolores in San Francisco. After the mass, he gave a short talk at the pulpit where he revealed that his delegation was able to secure a $2.7-billion investment pledge from American firms.

In the evening before heading for the San Francisco Airport for his flight home, P-Noy met with members of the Pinoys for Good Governance who, as one member said, “want to make sure that the present administration will live up to its promise to bring about such reform in governance.”

The U.S. trip promises to boost the Philippine economy. P-Noy claimed that the infusion of investment would create about 43,000 jobs.

All in all, the events of the first 100 days pose a big challenge to P-Noy in his quest to institute reforms and changes in a country. Indeed, he’s got his work cut out for him for the next six years.

It’s been said that it was destiny that brought P-Noy to the presidency. I agree. Now, it’s time for him to show the density of his commitment to bring about change in country deluged with corruption and plagued with poverty.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

'We Are One Filipino' rallies in San Jose on September 25, 2010

The Movement

Dear Fellow Filipino-American,

I need your help to start a movement. What constitutes a movement? If one were to think of its ingredients, it surely would include a purpose, people, and passion. During the Philippines’ People Power Movement of 1986, this was evident as its purpose was to purge an oppressor with people numbering in the millions passionate about progress through pacifism. I am writing to develop traction for a new movement. For far too long, Filipinos abroad have used buzz words as 1st vs. 2nd Generation, Fil-Am, Fil-Can, Fil-in-the-blank, and so forth. Rather than rehash these tired words, I implore you to understand the issues that plague Filipinos abroad, regardless of your address or generation affiliation, and take action!

The multitudes of issues back in our ancestral home include poverty and corruption. In the US, the issues can include division, lack of representation, and apathy. The problems that face us will require your participation. With the hostage disaster following the euphoria of President Aquino’s inauguration, it seems that joy can be a fleeting emotion. This disaster occurred on August 23, 2010 in which nine innocent civilians were killed by an ex-policeman who demanded his old job back. It is with irony that the inauguration and tragedy occurred at roughly the same location at Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.

Yet, us Filipinos here in the US e-mailed one another, updated our collective Facebook accounts, and shared our concerns about events transpiring back in the Philippines. We are tired of the same story. Yet, in the American social scene, we are proud of Charice (no need to even mention the last name anymore), high-fiving each other after each Pacquiao victory, and wearing Filipino inspired shirts while watching “America’s Best Dance Crew”. It is a shame we don’t capitalize this Filipino Fever into a more productive vision and action. I truly believe that we Fil-Ams of the New Generation have the will to make true change occur. We are instilled with American ideals and well educated. We can inspire an entire people with our sheer numbers. There is data supporting that if all the Fil-Ams in North America were lumped together, our collective GDP is greater than that of the Philippines. How’s that for economic might? I find it odd that with this data, President Aquino hasn’t addressed us yet. If we are educated, make money, and share the emotions of our fellow Filipinos after the recent tragedy, why isn’t he tapping us on the shoulder and addressing us? I believe we can be an asset to collectively fix our problems here and our motherland. Our parents may have left and created a brain drain, but some of us are willing to help and create a brain gain. As One people, we number in the millions. As One nation, we transcend oceans. As One Filipino, no matter where we were born or what citizenship we carry, all of our dreams become reality.

We may not have the solutions to all our problems, but is it in this journey that we show the world that we have a voice. Let’s have this voice be heard here and across the Pacific. On September 25, 2010, I say we come together to have President Benigno Aquino, III address us at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, CA at 4pm. He may not know it yet, but he will have no choice but to address us and embrace us as our ancestral President…the leader of the Global Filipino. It is also with cosmic coincidence that the namesake of the park, Cesar Chavez, was assisted by Filipinos in Stockton. This is Our Time. If you believe in fate, Facebook, and the Filipino, please join me in this rally.

Bring your picnic gear and your unbridled and welcoming enthusiasm.

As one of your own,

UNNAMED New Generation Filipino

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jueteng Payola Exposed

By Perry Diaz

Last September 11, 2010 -- ten weeks after he was inaugurated the 15th president with the highest number of votes since the end of the Marcos dictatorship -- President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III was faced with the biggest challenge of his presidency. Retired Bishop Oscar Cruz made allegations that two of P-Noy’s trusted aides and five other government officials were receiving monthly payola for protection of jueteng, the illegal numbers game.

According to Cruz’s allegations, the two top aides were receiving a minimum of P2 million monthly payola from jueteng operations. He said that the two officials occupy key positions involving security matters which include “efforts to weed out the multi-billion-peso underground lottery especially prevalent in Luzon and the Visayas.” If I interpret it correctly, “security matters” would be within the purview of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), more specifically the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Trusted aides on the take

Malacañang Palace immediately reacted by asking Cruz to name names. “We encourage the prelate to report the anomalies he knows about so that these can be investigated and those found guilty will be punished,” said Presidential Communications and Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma. Initially, Cruz responded that he would identify the two aides in the proper forum. Meanwhile, his group, Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, was busy collecting more information about them. He further said that the two officials’ names surfaced in recent field reports submitted to him by his organization’s network in the 86 dioceses in the country.

However, a day later Cruz retracted his offer to provide evidence because he was afraid that his witnesses would get hurt or killed like what happened to jueteng whistle-blower Wilfredo “Boy” Mayor who was murdered earlier this year. He also said that he has been receiving death threats since he exposed the jueteng payola. One was sent by mail which contained a message in big bold letters: “SHUT UP.”

Cruz said that the only clue that he would provide at this time -- for his own safety -- is that the two trusted officials of P-Noy are male; one of them has been in government for a “long time” and the other was relatively new. The other five officials are in the “lower echelon.”

DILG Undersecretary approached

Last September 13, DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno disclosed that he was approached by “emissaries” of the jueteng lords about “payoffs.” “Some of them are retired policemen. Some of them are politicians. Some of them are even friends. Some of them are even relatives who approached me,” Puno said. But he said that he declined to meet with them.

Puno also said that Cruz promised him a list of government officials receiving jueteng payola or involved in protecting the jueteng lords. He noted that that if there was evidence against these officials, the government would file a case against them.

However, P-Noy wasn’t totally sold to Cruz’s allegations. He said that if anyone of his officials accepted jueteng payola, he would see to it that they would face heavy penalties. But he also said that he heard that some people involved in the numbers game were dropping the names of his officials. When he was asked whether he believes that Cruz was misinformed, P-Noy said that he did not know the “quality of information” that was provided by Cruz.

Jueteng is not a priority

P-Noy, who campaigned on a slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (No corruption, no poverty), was gung-ho on eradicating jueteng when he assumed office. In fact, when his new DILG Secretary Robredo took over, P-Noy issued “marching orders” to stop jueteng. But in a sudden change of plans, P-Noy announced the following day that jueteng was not a priority in his administration. Robredo later acknowledged that his “new assignment” was to concentrate on local government while DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno -- P-Noy’s long-time friend whom he appointed several days before Robredo -- was given direct and sole jurisdiction over the PNP. In essence, DILG was split into two: local government under Robredo and security under Puno. Makes one wonder if Robredo was deliberately taken out of the loop on police matters.
Recently, there were reports that Robredo was on his way out. The buzz going around was that Verzosa, who retired on September 14, was a leading candidate to replace Robredo. However, with Verzosa’s controversial “disappearance” during the Luneta hostage crisis, P-Noy announced the other day that Verzosa will not take over DILG but would most likely be appointed to a non-Secretary post.

In an earlier article, Cruz claimed that jueteng protectors who are holding key positions in P-Noy’s administration are leading the calls for Robredo’s resignation. He said that the plotters are using the Luneta hostage crisis as the reason for Robredo to resign, holding him responsible for bloodbath that resulted from the botched rescue attempt by the Manila Police. But Robredo has no responsibility over police matters, Puno has. Shouldn’t Puno be the one who should resign then?

It is interesting to note that a Liberal Party stalwart revealed that even before P-Noy assumed the presidency, there was already an “arrangement” for Verzosa to serve as DILG secretary. However, due to the public pressure to appoint Robredo, P-Noy gave in. But according to that LP official, compromise was reached for P-Noy to bring in Puno to oversee PNP operations.

Red flag

The red flag is up: it seems that corruption is creeping back... or perhaps, it never left. As I said before, corruption is like weed: if you don’t kill it, it will grow and spread rapidly until the entire landscape is full of weed.

It is common knowledge that for jueteng to thrive, it needs the protection of the PNP. For as long as the PNP protects the jueteng lords, nobody could touch them -- not even the DILG Secretary.

With the retirement of Verzosa as PNP Chief, P-Noy has an opportunity to clean up the PNP and appoint a person who is committed to stop jueteng. In regard to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, P-Noy should put the PNP directly under the authority of Robredo. As for DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, he should work “under” the DILG Secretary subject to his authority.

P-Noy has a grand opportunity to prove to the people that he will not betray his covenant to eradicate corruption, stop jueteng, and end poverty. He made his pledge in the name of his parents, the martyr Ninoy Aquino and the icon of democracy Cory Aquino. Ninoy was immortalized by his words: “The Filipino is worth dying for.” I fervently hope that P-Noy would find the moral strength -- and will power -- to prove that Ninoy did not die in vain. P-Noy can effectively stop corruption because his 90 million “bosses” are behind him.

Mr. President, it’s time to get your act together, don’t let your people down.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is the “Compromise Agreement” compromised?

PerryScope: By Perry Diaz

The recent “compromise agreement” signed by the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) owners and the farm workers is now awaiting approval -- or rejection -- by the Supreme Court. The “compromise agreement,” submitted to the High Court for approval on August 12, 2010, would allow the farmer-beneficiaries to choose ownership of HLI stocks or a parcel of 1,400 hectares of the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita. The remaining undistributed portion -- 5,053 hectares -- of the plantation would be retained by the Cojuangcos.

According to HLI, 70% or 7,441 of the 10,502 farmer-beneficiaries signed the “compromise agreement” during a referendum conducted from August 6 to August 10, 2010. Of the 7,441 who signed the agreement, 98.13% or 7,302 voted for the stock distribution option (SDO) while only 1.88% or 139 voted for land distribution. In addition, a financial assistance worth P150 million will be distributed to the farmer-beneficiaries on a staggered basis once the “compromise agreement” is approved by the Supreme Court.

But while the High Court is reviewing the “compromise agreement,” several groups -- including the powerful Catholic Church -- are divided over the terms of the agreement, a situation that could ignite a firestorm of controversy and compromise the “compromise agreement” itself.

The crux of the controversy is the SDO part of the “compromise agreement.” A group of farmer-beneficiaries, the Alyansa ng mga Mangagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA) opposed it. They based their opposition on a resolution issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) in 2005 which revoked the SDO approved by the farmer-tenants in a referendum held in 1989 for “violations of the agrarian reform law, rules and regulation.” The resolution also ordered the distribution of 4,915 hectares covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). However, HLI asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the enforcement of the land distribution called for in the DAR-PARC resolution. The High Court granted the TRO in 2006.

“The landed and the landless”

In my article, “The Landed and the Landless” (October 21, 2005), I wrote: “In 1987, a new constitution was adopted. Interestingly, a provision was inserted in the constitution exempting landowning corporations from land reform provided they give out shares of stock to the tenants. In June 1988, President Cory Aquino signed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). Under CARL, 10.3 million hectares were targeted to be given away to farmers. At last, the long-awaited land for the landless. However, only 24% of that target were given away. The 76% not given away included the 6,300-hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by President Aquino’s family, the Cojuangcos. According to a newspaper account at that time, ‘the hacienda is the largest single piece of contiguous land in the Philippines.’

“To comply with the special provision of the 1987 constitution, Hacienda Luisita gave away stocks to its farmers… on installment. The catch: until the stocks were fully paid for, the Cojuangco family retained the voting rights; thus, remaining in full control of the hacienda.

“In May 1989, a stock distribution option (SDO) -- as opposed to outright distribution of land -- was agreed upon after a referendum by the farmers approved it overwhelmingly. The SDO would give the farmers 33% of the shares of the corporation, Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI), that will own the land.

“In October 2003, the farmers of Hacienda Luisita petitioned the government to revoke the SDO, saying that HLI was not giving them enough dividends and profits. If the SDO is revoked, Hacienda Luisita would be distributed outright to the farmers. On September 23, 2005, a special legal team from the Department of Agrarian Reform submitted a report recommending the revocation of the SDO. That would mean that the hacienda has to be distributed to the farmers as prescribed by CARL.

“A few weeks later, HLI revealed that portions of Hacienda Luisita was mortgaged to five banks due to losses suffered by HLI. The question is: If the SDO is revoked and the land is distributed to the farmers, who will pay off the mortgage?”

21-year battle

Last August 16, 2010, a faction of AMBALA filed before the Supreme Court “a comment and opposition with motion to expunge the compromise agreement” submitted by HLI four days earlier to the Supreme Court for approval. AMBALA alleged that the “compromise agreement” was illegal because it was signed before the High Court could issue a ruling on the validity of the SDO.

If the Supreme Court approved the “compromise agreement,” then that would clear the road for the implementation of the “compromise agreement.” However, if AMBALA prevailed and the Supreme Court rejected the “compromise agreement,” then that would effectively invalidate the SDO and pave the way for land distribution to the farmer-beneficiaries.

The question is: Will a Supreme Court decision end the 21-year battle between the Cojuangcos and the farmer-beneficiaries? It probably would if the High Court ruled in favor of the farmer-beneficiaries’ motion to expunge the “compromise agreement.” But if the High Court approved the “compromise agreement,” it could lead to further warfare between the Cojuangcos and those farmer-beneficiaries who opposed the “compromise agreement.” And this is where it could haunt President Benigno “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III for the rest of his presidency.

Although Noynoy has divested his one percent share of HLI when he assumed the presidency, he made a promise during the campaign that the land would be distributed in five years. In the farmers’ minds, it was not just a campaign promise, it was a covenant that Noynoy should -- nay, must! -- fulfill.

No matter how much Noynoy distances himself from the “compromise agreement” issue, he is permanently associated with Cojuangcos. They are his family. Interestingly, the people see Noynoy more of a Cojuangco than an Aquino.

Country over family

Recently, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo voiced out his opposition to the “compromise agreement.” He said HLI should distribute the land to the farmer-beneficiaries. He said that Noynoy should “prioritize the country over his family in dealing with the issue.”

Noynoy is riding the crest of “Pagbabago” (change) and has a popularity that no other president had enjoyed since the time of the late President Ramon Magsaysay more than 50 years ago. The people see in Noynoy a messianic leader who will deliver them from poverty. They are now his “family” including the farmer-beneficiaries of HLI. If he gets closer to them, he would feel their pulse and listen to their heartbeats. Then he would know how it feels to be landless… and powerless.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fat Cats and Kleptocrats

Balitang Kutsero: By Perry Diaz

Barely a month after Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ended her tumultuous and scandalous presidency, fat cats and kleptocrats are crawling out of the woodwork like a can of worms. Yup, one by one they’re being exposed for graft and corruption.

What do fat cats and kleptocrats have in common? Answer: They’re all thieves.

What’s their difference? Answer: Fat cats steal and tell everybody it’s salary, allowance, and bonuses while kleptocrats steal and then secretly stash their loot in Swiss banks.

Recently, the Commission on Audit released a list of top executives — or fat cats — receiving huge salaries and allowances in 2009. They are:

1. Armand Arreza, administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), with P26.9 million.

2. Benigno Ricafort, chief executive officer of Clark Development Corp., with P14.5 million.

3. Edgardo F. Garcia, deputy executive officer of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), with P12.7 million.

4. Amando Tetangco Jr., governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, with P10.8 million.

5. Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr., executive vice president of DBP, with P9.3 million.

And how about the kleptocrats? Well, we can only cite allegations made against them because the “truth” has yet to come out. That’s why president Noynoy Aquino created the Truth Commission to dig out the truth about Gloria and other suspected kleptocrats in her administration.

But from what I understand, the Truth Commission headed by Gloria’s pal, former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr., hehehe…, has to dig deep into the Earth’s core to get the evidence to prove that Gloria and her cohorts stole from the government. Davide has a big problem: He was accused recently by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada of graft and corruption. Holy shit! The question is: Is the Truth Commission going to investigate Davide too? Well folks, it seems that moro-moro is still being played today.

Noynoy must be fuming mad when he saw the list of fat cats receiving millions in pay and perks. As president of 90 million Pinoys whom he calls his “bosses,” Noynoy only gets P63,000 a month in salary! And these fat cats get millions every month just sitting on their fat buns? They ought to be skinned alive and thrown into the Pasig River behind Malacañang! Poor Noynoy, he had to use his first paycheck to pay his utility bills otherwise those Meralco fat cats would disconnect his utilities. Perhaps, he should tell the people that he is their “boss,” not them, and should get a pay raise.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

2010 Summer Solstice @ the Playboy Mansion

Los Angeles: The Prive Group is proud to present it's "2010 Summer Solstice @ the Playboy Mansion" charity event benefiting the Rescue Humanity Foundation. The event will be held from 8:00pm until 1:00am on Saturday July 24th, 2010 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

The Prive Group has produced many successful charity events at the Playboy Mansion since 2006. The event this year will feature models and a fashion show from CopaWear International, Benchwarmer International, Dreamgirl Interntional and AMI Clubwear, guided tours of the mansion grounds by Playboy playmates, sexy body painted models, a live and silent auction produced by Bang The Gavel, and over 250 gorgeous models from across the country in attendance.

Summer Solstice @ Playboy Mansion charity event announces it's featured performers. "Electro-Hop Sensation Broshigeez for the Haus of "M" management with DJ Tommy T and Antoinette Taus". Apl.De.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas orginally formed BROSHIGEEz. Also spinning are DJ's Ron Reeser and Dan Sanez who are Summer Solstice resident DJ's.

Broshiggez, the band founded by one of the artists of's label (Jeepney Music), will also be doing a soft launch of a song that features a number of artists on Saturday, July 24 at the Playboy Mansion. Tommy Taus (DJ Tommy T) and his sister Antoinette Taus will be there as with the Haus of M. See you there !

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Reception for Underprivileged Children to be hosted by Kobe Bryant, Gina Alexander, and BCCF at the Americana on July 5


(Los Angeles, CA. – June 2010) – For the first time, the Kobe Bryant Family Foundation and the Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project will host ten underprivileged children with scholarships to attend the Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy in Santa Barbara, California next month. In a special event to raise funds for this partnership, the Black Card Circle Foundation, a volunteer run organization created to assist other non-profit groups, will spearhead a special Reception on July 5, 2010 at the Americana in Glendale along with Nike.

“We are so excited and honored that Kobe Bryant has provided us with this opportunity” beamed Gina Alexander. “The kids that we are bringing over from the Philippines will actually get to interact with Kobe Bryant daily and will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn the leadership skills that has brought Kobe 5 NBA Championship rings and distinguishes him as probably the greatest basketball player of all time.” Part of the mission statement of the Kobe Bryant Family Foundation is to raise leaders and teach children to be champions.

“Raising leaders is a sentiment we echo with each of our projects,” says Black Card Circle Foundation Founder and Chairman Lotay Yang. “We are honored to be able to part of this endeavor to help Gina and Kobe with their goals.” The Black Card Circle Foundation exists to attract influential donors, supporters and corporations to promote and spotlight non-profit organizations who empower individuals who otherwise may not have access to opportunities and resources to reach their full potential in life. “Charity is the backbone of BCCF. We want to emphasize that giving back to the community or helping philanthropists and worthy causes is our priority,” says Yang.

The event will include appearances by some of Hollywood’s top celebrities, a gourmet selection of foods and live entertainment and proceeds will go directly to the Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project. To purchase tickets and for further information, please log on to Tickets go on sale beginning Tuesday, June 22nd at 1:00pm.

“A Reception for Underprivileged Children”
MONDAY, July 5, 2010
6:00 pm – 10:00pm
Katsuya at the Americana
589 Americana Way, Glendale, CA. 91210

Ticket prices: $300, $150, $75
Available only at
No tickets available at the door. This is a pre-sale event.

Red Carpet Arrivals: 6:00pm
Reception and Entertainment: 7:00pm

Monday, April 5, 2010

As1: Again

Photos and article by Jay Fermin (FMG)

Pasadena, California: Gary Valenciano has been the act to follow all these past 27 years and with no slowing down in sight, has returned to Pasadena for a repeat concert entitled AS1 with longtime balladeer, songwriter Martin Nievera. This show is produced by world-class Starmedia Entertainment headed by Ms. Anna Puno.

Forget that the two are perceived as archrivals on stage all these years by the fans, with Gary jokingly recollecting on the video intermission that his fans would go to a Martin concert just to find out what is being said of him.

However, this time it's different. In an ambitious collaboration, they embarked on a world tour entitled ‘AS1’ with both of them sharing the stage and the limelight, as well as showing the creative merging of songs that fans have associated with each of them thru these years, not competing but complimenting each other.

This was double treat to the fans, and when I arrived at Pasadena Civic Center on a warm March afternoon, there is no question that, although this was a repeat performance from the October 2009 show in the same venue, the house was full packed and sold out once again. I personally have not seen the October concert, and when my editor (Star Times) sent me to cover the show, I did not know what to expect. Of course, I have seen them perform before, Gary going back to when he was beginning to break the concert scene in 1983, and Martin during the Pops and Martin days. But tonight will be different.

The show took off boldly with the anthem rock and roll beat of Martin & Gary doing a rendition of Martin’s ‘On The Right Track’ and followed up with an absolutely fast and amazing dance moves by the two performers to Gary’s ‘Hataw Na’ which had the audience explode in applause, seeing Martin mimicking Gary’s fast dance rhythm. Martin has proven to the delight of the audience that he can keep up with Gary’s synchronized moves, sweat and all. Who said he can’t dance?

Martin’s comedic rantings had the audience laughing in between songs and especially during the tribute to MJ when Martin was complaining that ‘ there was no budget for sleeves’ for his tux. A big band rendition of ‘Billy Jean’and ‘Beat It’ had Gary showing off his moonwalk illuminated by the follow Spotlight.

They did tribute to 80’s big bands like Toto, Tears For Fears, Journey, culminating the segment with Chicago’s ‘You’re The Inspiration.’

The beauty of the repertoire and arrangements were crafted by no other than Mon Faustino as Musical Director. Martin’s love ballads ‘Say That You Love Me’ and ‘Be My Lady’ were complimented not only by Gary’s high energy praise ‘Sa Yahweh’ and ‘Shout For Joy’ but the familiar and heartwarming ‘I Will Be Here’ and the classic ‘Take Me Out Of The Dark.’ This inspirational portion of Gary’s concerts are always what uplifts the audience including myself, and of course his unwavering personal testimony to God, which is well known in the industry. On this night, even Martin became a little emotional, perhaps touched from above, and Gary aptly giving him a hug but pointing upwards, as if to give glory for these brief sweet moments, which could happen anywhere, even onstage!

And as the night progressed, it was pure musical entertainment thru and thru from these two world-class singers. No one can stop the grinning smile and teary eyes of those seated behind me when they heard the Filipino themes medley , a collection of musical scores from Filipino movies which included ‘Nong Tayo’s Magkalayo, You Are My Song, Ikaw Ang Pangarap, And I Love You So, How Did You Know, and Kahit Isang Saglit,’ transporting the audience back into the heavy drama of the movies they were made for.

The crowd now edged forward and most were dancing as Gary and Martin wrapped it up with the lively rendition of Earth, Wind, & Fire medley of songs ‘Fantasy, Reasons, Let’s Grove, and September.’ All I can see are I-Phones and camera phones amidst the heads of the dancing audience trained on the two performers jamming it up as they reach for the hands of fans. Pasadena erupts in joyous celebration of another very successful U.S. Tour.

They were good performers by themselves alone. Tonight, they have come together as one. All I can say is that the two are really better – together.

(Other shows: Washington DC, Tampa , Arlington, Texas, Connecticut, and Reno)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pacman vs. Kris

Balitang Kutsero By Perry Diaz

“If Noynoy has Kris, I have Pacman,” says Manny Villar, a.k.a. “Money Villarroyo.” Thus began the battle royale between two Titans in the entertainment industry. Yup, it’s going to be Pacman vs. Kris, folks. Pacman has 48-3-2 stats (confirmed) while Kris has 36-24-36 stats (unconfirmed). Kris is brainy and beautiful, Pacman is brawny and loves beautiful women. Kris is good at acting, Pacman is acting like he can act good. Kris sings and dances on stage, Pacman sings in a karaoke bar and dances in the ring. Well, folks, may the best woman win!

After his easy victory over Joshua Clottey, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao hinted that he might be retiring soon. Makes me wonder why? Is Pacman scared of Floyd Mayweather? Well, like the old saying goes, “Quit while you’re a head.” I’m not sure about that cuz I thought Pacman already lost his head over a young and sexy actress. I’d like to see a match between Pacman (1-0) and Tiger Woods (14-0) at what they do best. That would really be something to watch.

Pacquiao has been promoted to Senior Master Sergeant in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. A reservist, Pacquiao goes to military training once in a while. When he first showed up at the boot camp, Pacquiao gave a salute to the commander. The commander noticed the way Pacquiao saluted so he told him, “You salute with all your fingers straight. You’re saluting with only two fingers. That’s for boy scouts.” Pacquiao was flabbergasted, he said, “Sir, I tut I joined the boy scouts, hindi pala.”


With the presidential campaign heating up, the candidates are bringing in top entertainers in their campaign sorties. Money Villarroyo has Comedy King Dolphy campaigning for him. Bur rumor has it that Dolphy told Villarroyo that he can only spend one hour a day on the campaign trail. Villarroyo didn’t give up, he offered Dolphy more money to spend more time campaigning for him. Yup, what Manny wants, money gets.

What do Manny Villar and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have in common? Gloria is the daughter of the poor boy from Lubao while Manny is the son of a poor man from Tondo. Today, both Gloria and Manny are filthy rich. It really pays to be elected in office.

What do Manny Villar and Bro. Mike Velarde have in common? Manny made P6 billion from the C-5 road extension project while Bro. Mike made P1.2 billion. Some people call them, business partners, others call them partners in crime. Either way, they made lots and lots of money. Now, Villar is running for president and Bro. Mike for Congress. On to better things; the opportunities never end in the land of milk and honey. Yup, lots of cows to milk and plenty “honeys” of the night.


Conversation between Gloria and her granddaughter:

Apo: Lola, I’m very sad.

Lola: Why, my apo?

Apo: Cuz, lolo told me that you’re not going to be president anymore.

Lola: Don’t worry, apo, cuz I’ll be Prime Minister soon.

Apo: What is Prime Monster, lola? Sounds scary! Nakakatakot!

Lola: No, apo, it’s not ‘monster,’ it’s ‘minister.’

Apo: You mean like a church minister?

Lola: Yup, but the church will be very big, it’s the entire country.

Apo: But a church minister doesn’t make lots of money like you did as a president.

Lola: Well, in my church, the minister makes tons of money.

Apo: How?

Lola: Think of the money the people donate to the church.

Apo: I’m confused, lola. I thought the people give money to the church, not to the minister.

Lola: Yes, apo. But you see, I am the church.


With all the land-grabbing charges made against Money Villarroyo, columnist Lito Banayo wrote: “

A retired colonel who was once one of FVR’s most trusted managers, and whose integrity has been unquestioned, sent me this funny text message: ‘We need a land grabber to get Sabah. Vote Villarroyo and get Sabah back.’ ”
News Item: “Villar vows justice for Luisita victims.” That is a big piece of land that is ripe for pickin’ and grabbin’ by Money Villarroyo.


Mikey Arroyo gave way to his mom Gloria so she can run for his congressional seat in Pampanga’s second district. Mikey said that he did it because Gloria is one million times smarter than he is. Nobody disputed him on that. But when it was announced that he’s the nominee of the party-list Ang Galing Pinoy, a lot of people protested. It turned out that Ang Galing Pinoy

is a party-list that seeks to represent the marginalized sector of security guards and tricycle drivers in the House of Representatives.
Critics are saying that Mikey and other alleged “bogus” party-list nominees are “bastardizing” the party-list system. With the numerous “bogus” party-list groups that sprang recently, the House of Representatives would end up as the “House of Inglorious Bastards.” Hey, one of them is called GLOW (Gloria Arroyo). I guess Gloria considers herself marginalized now, huh?

I agree that Mikey can’t represent the security guards -- he’s never been a “sikyu,” as security guards are called, all his life. But my investigative reporter James Macaquecquec got a scoop that Mikey is going to prove that he was at one time a tricycle driver. Mikey has an old picture showing him driving a tricycle, a gift from his mom when he was four years old. I’m sure that, with little greasing, he can convince the Comelec commissioners that he is qualified to represent Ang Galing Pinoy.

If Ang Galing Pinoy wins in the May 10 elections, Mikey will join his mom Gloria, who is expected to win Mikey’s old seat, and three other Arroyos: his brother Dato Arroyo, his uncle Iggy Arroyo, and Iggy’s sister Lourdes of Ang Kasangga party-list. Evidently, the Arroyo dynasty will be around for sometime. Wah wah wee! Kawawa naman ang Pilipinas.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

No Guts, No Gloria

Balitang Kutsero By Perry Diaz

Presidential wannabe Noynoy Aquino may not have billions to spend in his campaign, but he sure has a lot of guts! At a rally of thousands of his “Yellow Army” supporters, he warned corrupt officials that their days were numbered. That’s gutsy! Not too long ago, Noynoy promised that he’ll recover the Marcos “loot.” That’s gutsy! And recently, he promised that he’d prosecute President Gloria Arroyo for plunder if he’s elected President. Now, that’s really gutsy! No guts, no Gloria!

During the 24th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution at the People Power Monument, Gloria said that her vision to “heal the wounds of the past EDSA uprisings has been partially met.” According to her, “healing the wounds of Edsa is a part of her 10-point pro-poor agenda.” “Healing the wounds of Edsa”? Hmmm…

Well, here’s what I wrote in my article, “Power of the Pork,” a few weeks ago:

“Biggest pork barrel in history:

In 2005, Gloria used more than P80 billion for pork barrel — that’s 10 times the normal amount! — for projects in which most were shrouded in mystery. More than half of this — P46.8 billion — were allocated for ‘Healing of Edsa I, II and III Funds.’ When asked in a radio interview, then Budget Secretary Romulo Neri explained that the P46.8-billion ‘healing of Edsa wounds’ fund included P29 billion for ‘back pension payments for retired Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police personnel.’ That’s a hell of a lot of money! Shouldn’t they be included in the Department of National Defense and Philippine National Police budgets? Or was it used surreptitiously to keep the military ‘loyal’ to Gloria during the ‘Hello Garci’ election cheating scandal and Edsa III uprising?” Yup, as Gloria’s granddaughter once said, “What Lola want, Lola gets.”
Gloria also said, “The world embraced EDSA I in 1986. The world tolerated EDSA II in 2001. The world will not forgive an EDSA III but would instead condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable.” Huh? And I thought Gloria’s EDSA II was what made the country’s political system “hopelessly unstable.” Kurakot na, mahirap pa. Wah wah we! Kawawa naman kami!

Gloria also claimed that the “Glorious Revolution” had deteriorated into partisanship over the years.” She’s right. EDSA I was the “Glorious Revolution” and EDSA II was “Gloria’s Revolution,” and it’s been downhill since then. And if there’s going to be EDSA III, what should it be called? Let’s see…

Noynoy’s “Yellow Army” celebrated the “People Power” in the jam-packed Araneta Coliseum with 30,000 Coristas, Ninoyistas, Noynoyistas, and Liberalistas. The sea of yellow was a breath-taking sight.

Meanwhile, Manny “Money Villarroyo” Villar had a campaign swing featuring go-go girls clad in bikinis gyrating on stage to an audience of salivating Villaristas, Marcos loyalistas, Nacionalistas, and communistas. In the old days, that’s called “burlesque.” Oh, well, that’s the sign of the times. What Manny wants, money gets.

The other day, Noynoy accused Villarroyo of stealing his line. According to Noynoy, Villarroyo stole his slogan, “Hindi ako magnanakaw” (I will not steal). In one of his campaign sorties, Villarroyo said, “Sa harap ninyo, sa mata ng Diyos, hindi ako nagnakaw … Hindi ako magnanakaw” (In your presence and in the eyes of God, I did not steal ... I will not steal). Well, after nine years under Gloria Arroyo’s corrupt regime, it makes one wonder if there’s anything left to steal.

But what’s going on with the other eight presidential wannabes? Gloria’s hand-picked candidate Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro is finally feeling the effect of Gloria’s “kiss of death.” He’s now distancing himself from Gloria by not talking about Gloria’s legacy. It won’t be long before he’d realize that it’s time to abort and join the “Yellow Army” of his cousin, Noynoy.


I read that two VIPs whose endorsements could be “kiss of death” to the candidate are former President Fidel V. Ramos and boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. Ramos said that he’ll make his endorsement by the end of March or early April. I can hear most of the candidates saying, “Please not me!” But not Richard “Flashy Dick” Gordon. With a 1% rating in the poll surveys and a shoe-string campaign budget, what has he got to lose?

In the case of Pacman, he said that he’ll start campaigning for Villarroyo, his “beloved president,” after his fight with Joshua Clottey. For someone who claims that he had a talk with God, Pacman is becoming a joker. And the joker is wild, man! He should stay sway from Villarroyo’s go-go girls during the campaign. Some people say that Pacman has an eye for beautiful girls.


Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada claimed that an opponent urged him to withdraw from the presidential derby and offered to reimburse all his campaign expenses if he quit. Well, with his funds drying up, Erap should take the offer and call it quits. Heck, he can always claim that he already spent P2 billion. I’m pretty sure that Money Villarroyo wouldn’t blink an eye to shell out that kind of money. With that kind of money, Erap can retire in his “Boracay” mansion.

A few days ago, Villarroyo was criticized for giving P20 bills to several street children who approached him during a campaign swing in Batangas. That’s nothing. They’re just children, not voters. I think he was just practicing the art of “vote-buying.”

In another instance, Villarroyo got himself in trouble with the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Comelec said that a disqualification case may be filed against him “for violating the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) after giving away scholarship grants to his supporters.” Whoa! That’s vote-buying, clear and simple! Section 261 of the OEC states that “vote-buying is when a person ‘gives, offers or promises money or anything of value’ in order to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate.” Now, that is serious.

But in another instance, Villarroyo got himself in big trouble. This time, it’s with the military. According the military spokesman, Villarroyo’s group “violated an agreement that they would not conduct any form of campaigning inside the highly-restricted military compound.” Villarroyo and his group met with detained Marine Col. Ariel Querubin -- who is running for Senator under Villarroyo’s party -- in Camp Aguinaldo. They then locked arms and made a “unity walk” inside the camp. The military spokesman said that “the unity walk” violated standing regulations of the military banning any political activity in all its camps. Now, that is very serious. Villarroyo should know better than not to mess around with the military. Villarroyo may have lots of money but the military have lots of guns... sometimes they shoot first before they ask questions.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Power of the ‘Pork’

PerryScope By Perry Diaz

The term “pork barrel” refers to the use of government funds that are intended to benefit the constituents of a politician in return for their votes. In effect, it is an institutionalized -- and legalized -- form of vote-buying. So, whoever controls the allocation of pork barrel funds wields immense political power.

In the nine years that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been in office, she learned how to use the power of the “pork” to keep her allies in line as well as to stop opposition to her self-perceived “god-given” mandate to rule the country. Indeed, the “pork barrel system” -- officially known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) -- has become the linchpin of her brand of “political patronage.”

Who gets the pork?

The annual allocation of pork barrel funds total about P7 billion with each senator getting P200 million and each congressman getting P70 million. It would have been easy for Congress to allocate the pork barrel funds in the national budget prorated equitably amongst the legislators and everybody would be happy. As a matter of fact, that’s how it used to be in the old days when legislators would get their fair share of the pork to spend on their pet projects for their constituents. But the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos took away the legislature’s “power of the purse” during the martial law days.

While the legislators’ pet projects are well-meaning and beneficial to their constituents, the lack of transparency and auditability gives rise to opportunity for graft and corruption. There are reports that some legislators demand kickbacks or commissions -- as high as 50% -- from contractors and suppliers. Corruption is more prevalent in public work construction projects where bidders could collude to fix their bids; thus, allowing kickbacks -- or “tongpats” -- to be embedded in their lump sum bids.

Gloria used the “power of the purse” to strengthen her political position and exercise sole discretion and total control on how pork barrel funds are disbursed, and how much each legislator would receive. In other words, the legislators are at the mercy of Gloria in getting their pork. If you were not in Gloria’s good graces, you would end up with nothing to spend in your district.

This led former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Emilia Boncodin to accuse Gloria of practicing “selective release” of pork barrel funds which means that only those close to Gloria would get the funds.

Biggest pork barrel in history

In 2005, Gloria used more than P80 billion for pork barrel -- that’s 10 times the normal amount! -- for projects in which most were shrouded in mystery. More than half of this -- P46.8 billion -- were allocated for “Healing of Edsa I, II and III Funds.” When asked in a radio interview, then Budget Secretary Romulo Neri explained that the P46.8-billion “healing of Edsa wounds” fund included P29 billion for “back pension payments for retired Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police personnel.” That’s a hell of a lot of money! Shouldn’t they be included in the Department of National Defense and Philippine National Police budgets? Or was it used surreptitiously to keep the military “loyal” to Gloria during the “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal and Edsa III uprising?

In 2008, former Speaker Joe de Venecia revealed that Gloria controlled the legislators’ pork barrel through her sons, Congressmen Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo. According to De Venecia, the legislators couldn’t get their pork barrel approved by Gloria without her sons’ endorsements. It is no wonder then that several impeachment petitions against Gloria were defeated by her allies in Congress. Who would dare infuriate her and risk losing his pork?

Indeed, by controlling the pork barrel allocations of the congressmen, Gloria became the “Supreme Overlord” of the House of Representatives. Their mantra was: “What Gloria wants, Gloria gets.” And anyone who would buck her would get a kick in the back. De Venecia found that out when, in a swift act, he was unceremoniously ousted from the Speakership by his party mates whom he thought were his friends. Sorry, pal, but as someone once said, “There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent self-interest.”

Abolition of the pork

In 2009, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero introduced Resolution No. 900 “urging the Senate committee on Finance to cause the immediate review and accordingly propose the repeal or amendment of Presidential Decree No. 1177 and Book VI of Executive Order No. 292, specifically all provisions pertinent to budget preparation, disposition and management, with the end in view of reverting to Congress the power of the purse as prescribed by the Constitution.”

A few weeks ago, Escudero -- a proponent of the abolition of the pork barrel system -- said that Gloria “has been exercising her power to impound pork not because of any lofty purpose but to give out or withhold political favor to help her allies and to strangle her political opponents.”

Last year, Gloria released P459 million in pork barrel funds for infrastructure projects in her son Mikey’s 2nd district of Pampanga. This is seven times more than a typical allocation. But what is appalling is that Gloria is running for Congress in Pampanga’s second district and billboards were erected all over the district showing her picture wearing a hard hat, claiming credit for all the infrastructure improvements in her son’s district. Obviously, she’s using pork barrel funds for her congressional campaign. It may be deemed legal because it was part of the PDAF general appropriation. However, as Congresswoman Ana Theresia Baraquel commented, Gloria’s use of pork barrel funds was “improper” and “shameless” spending.

With Gloria running for Congress virtually unopposed, she could easily become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. She’d then be closer to her ultimate goal of amending the constitution to change the form of government to a parliamentary system.

Is the country ready for a structural change of government? In my opinion, the country is not yet ready, not until we have a leader who has the best interests of the country and the people in mind. Right now, that leader has yet to emerge. But with 10 presidential candidates in the May 10 elections, there should be one that would rise above the others to take the biggest challenge of the presidency; that is, abolish pork barrel.

No pork, no fat.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gloria’s Secret Candidate Exposed

PerryScope: By Perry Diaz

Finally, after so much speculation about President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s “secret candidate,” a face has emerged. In his recent article, “Her” man, respected columnist and political consultant Lito Banayo exposed Manny Villar as Gloria’s “secret candidate.” I totally agree with Mr. Banayo’s arguments that Villar is now Gloria’s man.

In a recent survey, Villar is second to frontrunner Noynoy Aquino by 11% while Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro -- Gloria’s “anointed” candidate -- is languishing at the tail end of the survey in single digits. Unless there is a miracle or massive cheating in the May 10 elections, Gibo doesn’t stand a chance of winning. Simply put, Gloria wouldn’t bet her political future on Gibo.

Since it is not possible or probable that Gloria would support Noynoy, Villar is Gloria’s only viable pick. Even if Gloria tried to play ball with Noynoy, I doubt if Noynoy would be willing to play with Gloria. On the other hand, Villar had nothing to lose and everything to gain by secretly dealing with Gloria. Heck, the fact that Villar allied himself with the leftists just shows that he would deal with the Devil himself if that’s what it would take to win the presidency. As he recently said, “the presidency is my last dream.” Indeed, it’s the ultimate dream of a lifetime that he would relentlessly -- and ruthlessly -- pursue by any means his money could buy. And that’s what makes Villar as dangerous as -- if not more dangerous than -- Gloria.

The fact that Villar has reportedly planned to spend at least P7 billion of his own money in his presidential campaign manifests his steely determination to win the presidency. That kind of money would be enough to buy the election. And should Villar win the election, how would he recoup his “investment” in his campaign?

Rags to riches

Villar claimed that he came from a poor family from Tondo. His father was a government employee and his mother was selling fish at the public market in Divisoria. When he was a boy, Villar said that he helped his mother sell fish. However, there were reports that Villar was adopted by the wealthy Jalandoni family of Nueva Ecija. When he reached legal age, the Jalandoni patriarch deeded 400 hectares in Licab, Nueva Ecija under his name.

In 1975, Villar married the former Cynthia Aguilar, daughter of a politically powerful and wealthy family from Las Pinas City. With his wife’s wealth, Villar started building and selling homes. He became a millionaire and a leader in the housing industry.

Villar enters politics

Basking in his “rags to riches” accomplishment, Villar entered politics. In 1992, he ran for Congress and won. In 1998, he was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 2001, he ran for Senator and won. In 2007, after his reelection he was chosen Senate President.

During his presidency of the Senate, a scandal erupted that would haunt Villar for the rest of his political life. In October 2008, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a privileged speech alleged that Villar caused the “double insertion” of funds into the C-5 extension project linking Las Pinas to Paranaque in the 2008 national budget. Lacson said that Villar allocated another P200 million on top of the P200 million already allotted by Malacañang for the same purpose. Sen. Jamby Madrigal joined the fray when she alleged that Villar “wanted the C-5 extension to cut through his property so he could sell the property at a higher price.” A month later, Villar was ousted from his presidency of the Senate.

In 2009, Villar declared his presidential bid amidst the “double insertion” scandal of which he has yet to be cleared.

Conflict of interest

One of the hazards of running for president is that your life story becomes public and everything you’ve done in the past is unearthed and exposed for all to see. One of the issues that has been dogging Villar recently was the appearance of “conflict of interest” in regard to his real estate empire vis-à-vis his elected position as a legislative leader in both chambers of Congress.

On December 22, 2009, Ted Failon, host of the“Failon Ngayon” TV show, exposed Villar’s 23 subdivisions which were all connected by the C-5 Road extension -- Daang Hari Road --linking Las Pinas and Cavite. Failon showed how Daang Hari Road -- instead of a straight line -- snaked around the 23 subdivisions from Las Pinas to Cavite by way of Muntinglupa, Alabang, and Laguna. Failon said that the C-5 Road extension -- completed in 2004 --was funded by the national budget which was passed by Congress at the time Villar was Speaker of the House and then Senator who chaired the Finance Committee. Failon indicated that Villar voted for the national budget that appropriated funds for the C-5 Road extension, a violation of Article VI Section 14 of the constitution which says in part: “…Neither shall he [Senator or Member of the House of Representatives], directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office.” Failon contended that Villar shouldn’t have ran for Congress because he had and still has ownership of business enterprises involved in government transactions and funding.

From millionaire to multi-billionaire

In the 17 years that Villar has been in Congress, he has accumulated so much wealth. He is now ranked number five on the list of the Philippines’ richest men with his net worth of $940 million (P45 billion). He has the largest shareholding in the real estate firm Vista Land. Indeed, Villar has come a long way from selling fish in Divisoria to the multi-billionaire that he is today.

Had Villar stayed out of politics and earned his wealth through hard and honest work, he could have become the role model for the Filipino entrepreneur. But allegations of “conflict of interest” and probable corrupt practices while serving the people in Congress have raised doubts in the people’s minds about his qualifications to become the president of the country.

The question that keeps on popping up in my mind is: Is Villar’s association with Gloria going to influence his presidency and create a plutocratic oligarchy where the wealthy few govern the powerless citizenry? There is an old adage that says: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” Yes, indeed.