JOJO ROBLES:
‘Rose’ Lacierda

I agree that the current administration never promised us a rose garden, like the old song says. But if government can’t even buy a single MRT coach to ease the burden of the daily commuter, how can it even hope to eradicate both corruption and poverty—something it did promise? Last week, palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda channeled his inner seventies child in response to criticism about the failure of the Aquino administration to lessen the suffering of hundreds of train riders by purchasing more trains for the MRT line thusly: “We have never promised a rose garden.” According to Lacierda, what President Noynoy Aquino committed to were genuine reforms as he leads the country “to tread the straight path.” “We’re moving toward good governance and certainly it will take time for us to effect change,” he said. It certainly is taking a lot longer to get a ride on the MRT and LRT trains, if you ask any of the million or so Filipinos who have to take them on a daily basis. And if Lacierda thinks offering the people more straight-path rhetoric is going to ease the commuters’ burden somewhat, then he really must be punished by being forced to take a train to work for a month, a year or even for the rest of his boss’ term. (In more enlightened, progressive countries, high government officials take public transportation all the time. So I have never really gotten why our own bureaucrats have to be ferried in taxpayer-bought, -fueled and -maintained SUVs even when they are mere middle managers with absolutely no threats to their lives.) Of course, one reason why the government can’t buy more trains for the MRT line is because, if the Czech ambassador to Manila is to be believed, plans to make the purchases have been mired in corruption. And yet, despite the very damaging accusations made by Ambassador Josef Rychtar, Malacañang and the Department of Transportation and Communications still stands by their man at the MRT, Al Vitangcol. Rychtar has alleged that Vitangcol led a group of shady characters who wanted Czech supplier Inekon to cough up $30 million in exchange for bagging the contract to deliver coaches for MRT. Vitangcol had gone on leave because of the scandal and returned after he was cleared by his DOTC bosses—but Rychtar insists that the MRT general manager demanded bribes from his countrymen.

ALSO: Disrespecting our living heroes (OFWs)

MONDAY December 9, 2013 was a joyous day for the Department of Labor and Employment. It was the department’s 80th anniversary. Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz as well as the lowliest janitor of the department shared a day of happiness with President Benigno Cojuangco-Aquino who gave a happy speech in Tagalog. He lauded the department, Sec. Baldoz, the executives and former DOLE leaders present, for their good work. He praised DOLE for what to him, were many and great achievements. He was obviously at home with the Labor bureaucrats, spicing up his speech with jokes. But nowhere in the 1,880-word speech was there the slightest mention of the Overseas Filipinos Workers. Our beloved OFWs. At least 10 million Filipino men and women work abroad. They are away from home against their will. Many of them suffer in loneliness, weeping silently at night because they miss their spouses and their children. They are abroad because there is no job for them here at home but they must earn the income to make sure their families have the money for three meals a day, for the children’s education, health and development, for their aged parents’ food and medicine and, God willing, for their modest savings bank accounts. At least 10 million Filipino men and women work abroad. They are away from home against their will. Many of them suffer in loneliness, weeping silently at night because they miss their spouses and their children. They are abroad because there is no job for them here at home but they must earn the income to make sure their families have the money for three meals a day, for the children’s education, health and development, for their aged parents’ food and medicine and, God willing, for their modest savings bank accounts.
There was a time when Filipino government officials hailed them as heroes. Ang mga bagong bayani. They were the new heroes of the Filipino people because they were waging a battle against poverty for their families—and for the Philippines. Thanks to our dear OFWs’ remittances ours has become a phenomenal economy. Thanks to them–despite our government’s and the business leaders’ failure to make our country as productive and prosperous as our neighbors Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam—we are proving to have the qualities of a “Tiger economy.” The central bank has no problem of boosting our global image as a “rich” country—and our government can continue borrowing abroad because we have one of the world’s largest foreign currency reserves. They are our economic heroes because they are the saviors of our national economy.

ALSO: It won’t go away (The Vitangcol issue)

Edwin Lacierda does not want Al Vitangcol to go on leave and says Vitangcol has earlier done that to give way to an inquiry. Which is all very fine except for one thing: Vitangcol is the general manager of the Metro Rail System, and the one that conducted the inquiry where he went on leave was the Department of Transportation and Communications itself. Naturally, it found him innocent of the crime. But of course Vitangcol should go on leave now that he is being investigated by a body where he is not the judge, jury and (non-)executioner, quite apart from the accused. Which is the National Bureau of Investigation. That is the least he can do, though it wouldn’t hurt if he hung his head in shame and slunk away along with it. To say that the thing he is being accused of is a crime is to say that the thing the Ampatuans are being accused of is a crime. It is not a crime, it is an atrocity. The truly astonishing feature of this case in fact is how no one seems to be astonished that nothing has been done about it all this time. Everyone seems to regard it as par for the course, like other corruption issues, the only question being one of degree, or severity. In fact, it is not so at all. It is not just a case of corruption, it is a case of extortion. Done breathtakingly barefacedly to the nationals of another country. Vitangcol is accused of trying to extort $30 million from Czech company Inekon for a contract to supply 48 coaches of the MRT. The extort try was supposedly done by Vitangcol’s bagman, Wilson de Vera, who consulted with him by cell phone on how much to charge Inekon for the approval. It was done in July 2012 at the official residence of Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar and Inekon CEO Josef Husek. The accusers in this case are not Filipinos who are used to lagay or being forced to cough up a portion of their profits—it could always be passed on to the hapless consumers, or commuters. They are nothing less than the CEO of a globally known company and the ambassador itself of a no-middling country. They have filed a formal complaint against Vitangcol, Rychtar affirming repeatedly that he has signed the complaint and stands by his word.\

ALSO: Promised reforms, change never came

President Aquino was catapulted to the presidency in 2010 under the platform of reform. He intoned that his administration would be corruption-free under the banner of “Daan Matuwid” and “Kung Walang Kurap, Walang Mahirap. (If there’s no corruption, there’s no poverty) those who voted for him or not, hailed him because corruption had truly damaged the moral fabric of society for long, giving rise to the incidence of poverty nationwide. But, at the rate scams and anomalies, and even brazen extortion attempts are coming out of the woodwork straight out of Mr. Aquino, his anti-corruption reform program has become a big joke. The President seems to be honest since he has not been linked personally to any wrongdoing committed by people around and under him. That’s at least an achievement after three years in office to be called “Mr. Clean.” But, Santa Banana, people under him seem to be making all the pile while the Aquino administration last. In my over half a century as a journalist having gone full circle in print and broadcast, I have never seen so much corruption and so pervasive that even erstwhile sainted branches of government like the judiciary are now involved in corruption. I knew for a fact having covered President from the late President Elpidio Quirino up to now, only the executive and the legislature have been involved in scams and corruption. That’s why I am not surprised about the Jane Lim Napoles P10 billion pork barrel scams. Having walked the corridors of power, I know that corruption has always been an issue, like the Tambobong Estate scandal during the Quirino regime. Even the late revered President Magsaysay had his share when people criticized him for his inaction on the activities of somebody close to him. My gulay, the late President Carlos P. Garcia had the import-quota scandals hanging over his head and the late President Macapagal had Fenny Hechanova, his finance secretary. The dictatorship of the late President Marcos topped it all, and the post-Marcos regimes also had their own share of corruption. The late President Aquino had her “Kamaganak Inc.” and even President Fidel V. Ramos administration was blamed for that Centennial Expo fiasco. We saw what happened to former President Erap Estrada and to the nine-year administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. But, scams and corruption under now President Aquino take the cake. It is perhaps for this reason why we no longer hear President Aquino invoking his propaganda line of “Daan Matuwid” and “Kung Walang Kurpt, Walang Mahirap,” knowing full well that they have become a big joke in the people’s mind. I say that President Aquino must realize that within the next two years before he steps down, he must exercise leadership expected of him, like managing his people well and seeing to it that people around and under him must be made accountable for their actions. If there’s need to fire or make them resign, just do it, as the commercial says. We, Filipinos, foes and allies like of the President, do not need a saint to meet the challenges facing the country. We need a leader we can respect and rely on. Along this, I wonder what legacy President Aquino can leave us when he steps down since reforms and the change he had promised have not come. My gulay, Mr. Aquino even has no vision about his country, much less something we, Filipinos, can look forward to. Sad to say, they remain a pie in the sky. READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

‘Rose’ Lacierda

MANILA, APRIL 14, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) By Jojo Robles - I agree that the current administration never promised us a rose garden, like the old song says. But if government can’t even buy a single MRT coach to ease the burden of the daily commuter, how can it even hope to eradicate both corruption and poverty—something it did promise?

Last week, palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda channeled his inner seventies child in response to criticism about the failure of the Aquino administration to lessen the suffering of hundreds of train riders by purchasing more trains for the MRT line thusly: “We have never promised a rose garden.”

According to Lacierda, what President Noynoy Aquino committed to were genuine reforms as he leads the country “to tread the straight path.” “We’re moving toward good governance and certainly it will take time for us to effect change,” he said.

It certainly is taking a lot longer to get a ride on the MRT and LRT trains, if you ask any of the million or so Filipinos who have to take them on a daily basis. And if Lacierda thinks offering the people more straight-path rhetoric is going to ease the commuters’ burden somewhat, then he really must be punished by being forced to take a train to work for a month, a year or even for the rest of his boss’ term.

(In more enlightened, progressive countries, high government officials take public transportation all the time. So I have never really gotten why our own bureaucrats have to be ferried in taxpayer-bought, -fueled and -maintained SUVs even when they are mere middle managers with absolutely no threats to their lives.)

I honestly don’t understand why Lacierda thinks that, for the ordinary, long-suffering Filipino, the usual blather about how good they have it under this dispensation will actually improve their lives. What I do know is that people will suffer a lot of things, even the loss of their rights and freedoms, as long as their most basic demands—like public transportation—are met by government.

Take the case of Italy under the Fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. “Il Duce,” as he was called, was even able to drag his country into World War II on the side of Hitler because, as the appreciative citizens said, “the trains run on time.”

This same sentiment is what makes some people pine for “the good old days” of the Marcos dictatorship—because prices were lower, roads and other public infrastructure were better and peace and order actually became possible. And all these things, despite Lacieda’s idiotic statement about horticulture, aren’t luxuries like rose gardens but basic deliverables of any government, whether it treads the straight path or not.

Being reform-minded doesn’t excuse any government from doing the most basic stuff for the citizens’ welfare, Mr. Lacierda. And yes, I’m still waiting for a comprehensive report on how Aquino is delivering on the promise to end poverty by ending corruption.

Or maybe Aquino didn’t make that promise, either. Just like he never promised to buy just one single train coach in all his six years of treading the straight path of good governance.

Why ride a train, anyway, if you can go on the daang matuwid? Lacierda will even give you a rose, even if he never promised to do that.

* * *

Of course, one reason why the government can’t buy more trains for the MRT line is because, if the Czech ambassador to Manila is to be believed, plans to make the purchases have been mired in corruption. And yet, despite the very damaging accusations made by Ambassador Josef Rychtar, Malacañang and the Department of Transportation and Communications still stands by their man at the MRT, Al Vitangcol.

Rychtar has alleged that Vitangcol led a group of shady characters who wanted Czech supplier Inekon to cough up $30 million in exchange for bagging the contract to deliver coaches for MRT. Vitangcol had gone on leave because of the scandal and returned after he was cleared by his DOTC bosses—but Rychtar insists that the MRT general manager demanded bribes from his countrymen.

Vitangcol has dared the ambassador to shed his diplomatic immunity so that the MRT boss may sue him in court. But what Vitangcol cannot seem to understand is that the Czech envoy has already done a most undiplomatic thing by publicly accusing an official in his host country of corruption.

Yes, the more prudent thing for Rychtar to do was to just shut up about the Inekon issue. But perhaps his own government has given him orders to pursue the case, which the Czechs must feel should be done to teach Vitangcol and his buddies a lesson.

Defenders of Malacañang say that the ambassador must be declared a persona non grata in the Philippines and shipped back home. But if Rychtar was not really doing the bidding of his own country, why hasn’t he been censured and recalled by the Czech home office, months after he made a stink about the Inekon shakedown?

Why can’t Aquino order an independent (as opposed to in-house) probe of Vitangcol? If he’s clean, then the President can expel Rychtar himself for lying.

Of course, that wouldn’t mean commuters will get more trains anytime soon. But then, no one really promised them that.

EDITORIAL FROM MANILA TIMES

Disrespecting our living heroes April 8, 2014 10:28 pm


BAGONG BAYANI: OFW's are now called the new heroes of the Philippines because they sacrifice, leaving their families just to earn money. Thanks to our dear OFWs’ remittances ours has become a phenomenal economy.

MONDAY December 9, 2013 was a joyous day for the Department of Labor and Employment. It was the department’s 80th anniversary. Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz as well as the lowliest janitor of the department shared a day of happiness with President Benigno Cojuangco-Aquino who gave a happy speech in Tagalog.

He lauded the department, Sec. Baldoz, the executives and former DOLE leaders present, for their good work. He praised DOLE for what to him, were many and great achievements. He was obviously at home with the Labor bureaucrats, spicing up his speech with jokes.

But nowhere in the 1,880-word speech was there the slightest mention of the Overseas Filipinos Workers. Our beloved OFWs.

At least 10 million Filipino men and women work abroad. They are away from home against their will. Many of them suffer in loneliness, weeping silently at night because they miss their spouses and their children.

They are abroad because there is no job for them here at home but they must earn the income to make sure their families have the money for three meals a day, for the children’s education, health and development, for their aged parents’ food and medicine and, God willing, for their modest savings bank accounts.

There was a time when Filipino government officials hailed them as heroes. Ang mga bagong bayani.

They were the new heroes of the Filipino people because they were waging a battle against poverty for their families—and for the Philippines. Thanks to our dear OFWs’ remittances ours has become a phenomenal economy. Thanks to them–despite our government’s and the business leaders’ failure to make our country as productive and prosperous as our neighbors Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam—we are proving to have the qualities of a “Tiger economy.”
The central bank has no problem of boosting our global image as a “rich” country—and our government can continue borrowing abroad because we have one of the world’s largest foreign currency reserves.

They are our economic heroes because they are the saviors of our national economy.
Heroes too for helping the children
But they are also heroes in the deeper sense that Fred Rogers (he who was the beloved teacher and friend to children in “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” the family TV show that was the rage in America and the upper-class Westernized Asian communities.)

He said, “Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.” We agree. The OFWs are directly helping their own children and those of their families’ neighborhoods.

Previous central government administrations tried to honor our OFW heroes properly.

The presidents gave memorable speeches and ordered the Labor department and its POEA and OWWA agencies’ to increase and improve services to the OFWs.

But the PNoy administration is neglecting our OFWs. President Aquino seems to be allergic to them. The list of services and benefits our OFWs enjoy from DOLE now are just the same as those the Arroyo administration offered.

There may now be a more shiny office to help OFWs get re-integrated into the domestic economy and, maybe, a larger schedule of loans available for returned workers planning to go into business.

Yet this administration’s record in aiding OFWs who get into trouble abroad is dismal. Foreign Affairs people seem to be more actively involved in solving the problems of OFWs needing government assistance abroad.

There have been a number of “sex-for-flight” cases under President Aquino. In February, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, which has indefatigably worked to protect OFWs and advance their rights, complained to Sec. Baldoz about the light punishment imposed on a labor attaché in Saudi Arabia accused of covering up the attempted rape of a Filipina OFW by the attaché’s driver. Filipina OFWs suffer rape or sexual harassment and attempted rape when they go to the Labor attaché seeking help to fly home because they are fleeing a cruel or rapist employer.

Director Susan Ople of the BFO Policy Center wrote to Sec. Baldoz that the one-month suspension meted out to the labor attache was an “insult to all OFWs.” She said in her letter to Sec. Baldoz that “The position of labor attache was created precisely to protect and safeguard the rights and welfare of our OFWs. If a labor attache plainly and utterly fails to do so, then he or she has no right to said position.”

Another case of the Aquino administration’s disrespect for our economic heroes is the Maritime Industry Authority’s (MARINA) lack of respect and concern for our seamen. To obtain their Seaman’s Book (which is as valuable to a seaman as a passport) and their Certificate of Competence they have to be at the MARINA office at dawn so they can queue up by 8 a.m. under the hot sun.

MARINA ran out of the proper Seaman’s Book. So MARINA began issuing sheets of paper to the seamen. Some Filipino seamen were not allowed to board their vessels when they showed up with the unfamiliar piece of paper to the ship captains.

A government that shares the Filipino citizenry’s love for our OFW heroes would not disrespect them the way the Aquino administration has. Food for thought on this Bataan Day of Heroism.

FROM THE INQUIRER

It won’t go away There’s the Rub By Conrado de Quiros INQUIRER.net 12:06 am | Wednesday, April 9th, 2014


By Conrado de Quiros

Edwin Lacierda does not want Al Vitangcol to go on leave and says Vitangcol has earlier done that to give way to an inquiry. Which is all very fine except for one thing: Vitangcol is the general manager of the Metro Rail System, and the one that conducted the inquiry where he went on leave was the Department of Transportation and Communications itself. Naturally, it found him innocent of the crime.


Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangco

But of course Vitangcol should go on leave now that he is being investigated by a body where he is not the judge, jury and (non-)executioner, quite apart from the accused. Which is the National Bureau of Investigation. That is the least he can do, though it wouldn’t hurt if he hung his head in shame and slunk away along with it. To say that the thing he is being accused of is a crime is to say that the thing the Ampatuans are being accused of is a crime. It is not a crime, it is an atrocity.

The truly astonishing feature of this case in fact is how no one seems to be astonished that nothing has been done about it all this time. Everyone seems to regard it as par for the course, like other corruption issues, the only question being one of degree, or severity. In fact, it is not so at all.

It is not just a case of corruption, it is a case of extortion. Done breathtakingly barefacedly to the nationals of another country. Vitangcol is accused of trying to extort $30 million from Czech company Inekon for a contract to supply 48 coaches of the MRT. The extort try was supposedly done by Vitangcol’s bagman, Wilson de Vera, who consulted with him by cell phone on how much to charge Inekon for the approval. It was done in July 2012 at the official residence of Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar and Inekon CEO Josef Husek.

The accusers in this case are not Filipinos who are used to lagay or being forced to cough up a portion of their profits—it could always be passed on to the hapless consumers, or commuters. They are nothing less than the CEO of a globally known company and the ambassador itself of a no-middling country. They have filed a formal complaint against Vitangcol, Rychtar affirming repeatedly that he has signed the complaint and stands by his word.

Which is to say that this is not just a case of corruption but of treason. It does not just stand to harm us financially, it stands to ruin our standing in the international community. It stands to spark a diplomatic scandal. It stands to paint us as a Ladrones Island, a nation of thieves. As Rychtar and Husek tell it, they were so shocked by the demand for money—as who wouldn’t be, people of their stature reduced to jeepney drivers being asked for tong by traffic cops—they were speechless. And found their voice only in an official complaint.

Which makes it truly astonishing as well that the case almost died after the DOTC itself cleared Vitangcol. When that verdict didn’t close the case, it burst it wide open. It submitted the most curious conclusions. If Vitangcol was innocent of the charge, then Rychtar and Husek must have been guilty of lying through their teeth. Then Rychtar and Husek must have been guilty of trying to ruin the good name of an official of another country—a grievous crime in particular for Rychtar, an ambassador. Then Rychtar and Husek must have been guilty of conspiring to taint, besmirch, malign another country, with staggering implications for its economic welfare.

Yet at no time did Vitangcol protest the malicious intriguing of the two officials. At no time did the DOTC suggest it was all a misunderstanding, what transpired was Greek, or Czech, to the Czechs, they mistook hospitality for arm-twisting. At no time did the Philippine government check the two Czechs’ propensity for manufacturing checkered stories.

The NBI itself says it will leave no stone unturned to determine “who is telling the truth.” Well, it’s its job to do that. But as a matter of common sense when was the last time the ambassador of a respectable country came out to damn an official of a host government for trying to extort money from him in-your-face? Between someone who has nothing to lose and everything to gain by telling the truth and someone who has everything to lose and nothing to gain from doing so, whom would you believe?

Congress itself is anxious to summon Vitangcol and De Vera, but Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao despairs of the effort.

“The supposed probers are not judges sworn to impartiality but politicians with a natural disposition and propensity toward their party and allies. I anticipate that the members of the ruling party will enter the probe with a fixed judgment that no bribery ever took place. The minority will show a bent toward the other side of the issue. In the end, the probe will be all for naught.”

Not at all. The value of congressional inquiries is not really that they lay things out before the senators and congressmen, it is that they lay things out before the public. The first may be biased and partisan, but not so the second. The results of the inquiry may be predictable, but not so the questions. Who knows? Maybe a congressman or two might ask why Mar Roxas did nothing about Vitangcol.

Lest we fail to note it, the extortion happened during his watch, while he was still DOTC head. At the very least, it can’t speak well of his leadership abilities if he had no idea what his people were doing. At the very most, why didn’t he call the NBI to look into Rychtar’s accusation instead of agreeing to the notion that the best entity to sit in judgment over the guilt or innocence of a high-ranking DOTC official was the DOTC itself?

Why is Vitangcol still there?

What, Roxas thought a complaint of this explosive nature by the Czech ambassador came government’s way every day?

Some things don’t just go away.

This one won’t.

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Promised reforms, change never came By Emil Jurado | Apr. 11, 2014 at 12:01am

Presidential sister, Kris “Tell All” Aquino says that her relationships with Quezon City Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista is a work in progress, whatever that means, after dating each other.

Well, there’s really nothing wrong with that since it is their personal business what happens next. The Kris-Bistek relationship may well be called “Kristek” from now on.

What surprises people is not Kris telling all as she did with her relationship with former Parañaque Mayor Joey Marquez that she had a STD or sexually transmitted diseases, but how incompatible the Kris-Tek affair is after Kris being associated with machomen like Robin Padilla, who they say is her true love, Joey Marquez, Philip Salvador, who bore her Joshua, Sam Milby and James Yap, who married her.

I am not too sure about what the “Kris-Tek” relationship. Is it really for real or just for showbiz? The Quezon City mayor still has another term, or maybe, just maybe Kris herself is being pushed to run or the Senate, governor of Tarlac, or even the vice presidency of the Liberal Party under Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

In any case, the “Kris-Tek” relationship is not the talk in boardrooms and coffeeshop. It is obscured by the pork barrel scam and the Metro Rail Transit alleged extortion attempt.

Along this, many people have been asking what relationship President Aquino has considered a work in progress” since he has had no lasting relationship with the opposite sex as far as we know.

Santa Banana, people say that at mid-50 there must be something wrong for a man not to get married or not have a lasting relationship with the opposite sex. I dare not speculate. But I believe that getting married should be the priority of the President. Who knows? Getting married could help him to be magnanimus, humane and more sensitive to people’s needs and less vindictive against his political enemies and getting onion-skinned from his critics.

* * *

President Aquino was catapulted to the presidency in 2010 under the platform of reform. He intoned that his administration would be corruption-free under the banner of “Daan Matuwid” and “Kung Walang Kurap, Walang Mahirap. (If there’s no corruption, there’s no poverty) those who voted for him or not, hailed him because corruption had truly damaged the moral fabric of society for long, giving rise to the incidence of poverty nationwide.

But, at the rate scams and anomalies, and even brazen extortion attempts are coming out of the woodwork straight out of Mr. Aquino, his anti-corruption reform program has become a big joke.

The President seems to be honest since he has not been linked personally to any wrongdoing committed by people around and under him. That’s at least an achievement after three years in office to be called “Mr. Clean.” But, Santa Banana, people under him seem to be making all the pile while the Aquino administration last.

In my over half a century as a journalist having gone full circle in print and broadcast, I have never seen so much corruption and so pervasive that even erstwhile sainted branches of government like the judiciary are now involved in corruption.

I knew for a fact having covered President from the late President Elpidio Quirino up to now, only the executive and the legislature have been involved in scams and corruption. That’s why I am not surprised about the Jane Lim Napoles P10 billion pork barrel scams.

Having walked the corridors of power, I know that corruption has always been an issue, like the Tambobong Estate scandal during the Quirino regime. Even the late revered President Magsaysay had his share when people criticized him for his inaction on the activities of somebody close to him. My gulay, the late President Carlos P. Garcia had the import-quota scandals hanging over his head and the late President Macapagal had Fenny Hechanova, his finance secretary. The dictatorship of the late President Marcos topped it all, and the post-Marcos regimes also had their own share of corruption.

The late President Aquino had her “Kamaganak Inc.” and even President Fidel V. Ramos administration was blamed for that Centennial Expo fiasco. We saw what happened to former President Erap Estrada and to the nine-year administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

But, scams and corruption under now President Aquino take the cake.

It is perhaps for this reason why we no longer hear President Aquino invoking his propaganda line of “Daan Matuwid” and “Kung Walang Kurpt, Walang Mahirap,” knowing full well that they have become a big joke in the people’s mind.

I say that President Aquino must realize that within the next two years before he steps down, he must exercise leadership expected of him, like managing his people well and seeing to it that people around and under him must be made accountable for their actions. If there’s need to fire or make them resign, just do it, as the commercial says.

We, Filipinos, foes and allies like of the President, do not need a saint to meet the challenges facing the country. We need a leader we can respect and rely on. Along this, I wonder what legacy President Aquino can leave us when he steps down since reforms and the change he had promised have not come.

My gulay, Mr. Aquino even has no vision about his country, much less something we, Filipinos, can look forward to. Sad to say, they remain a pie in the sky.

* * *

After so many months after his appointment as “Rehabilitation Czar,” former Senator Ping Lacson hasn’t come out with any master plan or give us an idea what he can do to rebuild and rehabilitate provinces and cities affected by the 8.2 magnitude Bohol and Cebu earthquake, and especially Super-Typhoon Yolanda.

I suspect that Lacson being neither an architect nor an engineer is really not up to his job since reconstruction and rehabilitation of disaster hit areas need expertise. But, as a former policeman and senator, what can Lacson offer?

When Lacson was bruited around to be an “Anti-crime and Anti-smuggling Czar,” people had expected that at long last somebody like Lacson would be able to curb the crime upsurge and at least minimize smuggling. But, the President had other plans, making Lacson assume a job foreign and without expertise on his part.

Lacson says that rehabilitation is on track. Oh, really? How, when people in Samar and Leyte have not seen any attempt on the part of the national government at reconstruction nor rehabilitation?

To me, Lacson has become a big failure, reflecting the Aquino administration’s failed response to help the Yolanda survivors. My gulay, no wonder the Taclobanons, who are in uproar over the slow response of government to the needs, include Lacson as among the “Gang of Five” who comprise Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Budget Secretary Butch Abad and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.

As for Petilla as energy secretary, he has become a big disappointment I had initially included him as among the performers of the Aquino administration, but now, I’m changing my mind.

The forthcoming shortage of power in Luzon because of shutdown of no less than seven power plants and the reduced wattage coming from other two other plants points the finger of blame to Petilla.

Santa Banana, contrary to his promise to restore electricity in Tacloban and other parts of Leyte, the province where he was governor, promising to resign if he did not, many parts of Leyte and Tacloban are still without electricity. Why isn’t Petilla resigning?

If an energy secretary cannot even anticipate power plants shutdowns reduction of power in an area like Luzon since he has no plan or vision, he should resign. Pronto!

Lacson and Petilla have become the Aquino administration’s failures. But, I can still be convinced otherwise.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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