MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL/OPINION

EDITORIAL -- FAILURE TO INSPIRE 

NOV 11 ---ONE of the key characteristics of a good leader is the ability to inspire people. The best leaders in history have used this ability to lead their people through a crisis or to move them forward to achieve a common goal. These leaders do so by word and deed, inspiring us through their speeches and leading by example. Sadly, President Aquino falls miserably short in both these areas. READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO EDITORIAL --Palace and the Senate: Laughable exchange 

NOV 17 ---THE exchange of caustic remarks between the Palace and the Senate was good for a few headlines but little else last week. Certainly, the defiant words from the senators did little to restore the tattered reputation of the chamber, which has been reduced to a shambles by the boorish behavior of some of its members, the general ignorance of others, and the dismal failure of all to act on matters of true national import. Nor did the exchange do anything to bolster the tarnished credibility of President Benigno Aquino III, whose legacy will most certainly be his selective application of justice, in which political enemies are ruthlessly and relentlessly persecuted while friends and allies are exonerated out of hand without even the benefit of an investigation. The exchange, amplified in the media echo chamber, began with a remark from the President while he was in China. There, he told reporters that he felt the Senate investigation of allegations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay had become a distraction, taking time away from important pending legislation. The long-drawn investigation, he added, ought to be wrapped up as soon as possible, and if the evidence warrants, cases should be brought to court.

ALSO Opinion by EAGLE EYES: Paradigm shifts in confronting disasters 

NOV 11--Last Saturday, the one-year anniversary of the Yolanda/Haiyan typhoon, I wrote about the Jaime V. Ongpin lecture of Undersecretary Alexander Pama, the Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense and the Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). I concluded that column saying that I was reassured by that lecture and believe the country is in good hands with respect to disaster governance while recognizing that there is still a lot of work to be done. In this column, let me expound this further by quoting extensively from the Pama lecture entitled “Confronting Disasters: Paradigm Shifts”. READ THE FULL COLUMN...

ALSO Ona editorial: Sleaze factor  

It is the supreme irony that while President Aquino constantly brags about putting corrupt public officials in jail, he presides over one of the most ethically challenged administrations in recent memory. The focus, at the moment, is Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who by most accounts—except the official one—has gone on forced leave over allegations that he signed off on sweetheart deals in the procurement of medical equipment and vaccines and the privatization of at least one state-owned public hospital. Ona isn’t the only one in the Cabinet under suspicion, however. Among his colleagues in the President’s official family, those already facing plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman over a variety of cases are Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes; Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala; Budget Secretary Florencio Abad; Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson; Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.; and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO APEC Editorial: Outdoing itself  

President Aquino’s statements on the supposed attractiveness of the Philippines to foreign investors during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting is nothing new. Perhaps his confidence was boosted by the words of the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, who said that he had done very well in fostering the country’s competitiveness in doing business. And indeed, the country’s significant advance in ease of doing business since 2011 says a lot about how investors may feel about the Philippines as their next destination. The Philippines is now also fifth among the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO by Emil Jurado: Binay still on top   

*** The question foremost in the minds of many people these days is, can Vice President Jojo Binay weather the demolition campaign against him? Now, the discredited Makati politicians who first brought a plunder case against Binay allege that the Makati Science High School is also overpriced. Some also claim that Binay has hidden bank accounts in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, California. But, if we look deep enough at all these corruption charges thrown at Binay, they remain as mere hearsay. A court of law will simply throw them to the trash can. That’s why the Vice President would rather face the Ombudsman then the Senators who have already prejudged him. READ FULL COLUMN FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO by Jojo Robles: Bully, coward 

Apparently, people still want to know why President Noynoy Aquino did not even bother to visit Tacloban City to mark the anniversary last week of the devastation at the epicenter of the disaster. The short answer, for me, is because Aquino is basically a bully and a coward. Let me illustrate: If you still don’t know why Aquino did not go to Tacloban, you only need to know what Aquino said in Beijing, where he is now attending the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization. I’m certain that, if Aquino could have avoided going to the Apec meeting, he would have. But because he would lose so much face if he didn’t go to a meeting of heads of state where is actually invited, Aquino swallowed his pride and went—after deciding to ratchet down the anti-China rhetoric and pretend to be the very soul of harmony and mutual co-existence. READ THE FULL COLUMN...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Failure to inspire

MANILA, NOVEMBER 17, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) ONE of the key characteristics of a good leader is the ability to inspire people. The best leaders in history have used this ability to lead their people through a crisis or to move them forward to achieve a common goal. These leaders do so by word and deed, inspiring us through their speeches and leading by example.

Sadly, President Aquino falls miserably short in both these areas.

On the anniversary of the most destructive typhoon to visit the planet on Saturday, President Aquino chose to stay away from the center of the most devastating damage, Tacloban City, in a bid to avoid meeting with storm survivors who have been critical of his government’s slow and inadequate response to the disaster.

A true leader would have taken the opportunity to establish a meaningful dialogue with the survivors in Tacloban City, no matter how angered they might be; to win them over or at least to listen to their views in person. Instead, he chose to do what he did months before when a delegation of storm survivors marched to the Palace to make their voices heard—he cravenly ducked them and ultimately dismissed them.

Worse, he flew to Guiuan, a more politically friendly town also damaged by Yolanda, and used his speech there during the anniversary to belittle the call from the survivors for immediate relief.

On the back of his administration’s criminal neglect in the aftermath of the storm—a fact documented by international aid agencies as well as the Commission on Audit--the President’s words and deeds were truly odious.

But after more than four years, we are hardly surprised.

Mr. Aquino, after all, has shown the Filipino people time and again that he cannot rise above partisan politics and his own spiteful ways. Instead of uniting the people, he constantly divides them.

With this President, every speech in every venue, no matter how inappropriate, becomes an occasion to attack his political opponents—to smear them with allegations yet to be proved and to exercise his sarcastic tongue.

Before the 7th Bali Democracy Forum in October, for example, Mr. Aquino trotted out before an international audience his tired criticism of his predecessor, bemoaning how former President Gloria Arroyo weakened democratic institutions in this country—while neglecting to mention his own moves to clip the powers of the Supreme Court to review Executive actions.

In the latest example of this inappropriateness, Mr. Aquino also used a visit to the Sisters of Mary Girlstown Complex to lash out at “contrarians” who “oppose everything, no matter how excellent you are in your job.”

On this score, at least, the President need not worry too much: after all, nobody has ever accused him of being excellent in his job.


Laughable exchange By Manila Standard Today | Nov. 17, 2014 at 12:01am
 

THE exchange of caustic remarks between the Palace and the Senate was good for a few headlines but little else last week. Certainly, the defiant words from the senators did little to restore the tattered reputation of the chamber, which has been reduced to a shambles by the boorish behavior of some of its members, the general ignorance of others, and the dismal failure of all to act on matters of true national import.

Nor did the exchange do anything to bolster the tarnished credibility of President Benigno Aquino III, whose legacy will most certainly be his selective application of justice, in which political enemies are ruthlessly and relentlessly persecuted while friends and allies are exonerated out of hand without even the benefit of an investigation.

The exchange, amplified in the media echo chamber, began with a remark from the President while he was in China. There, he told reporters that he felt the Senate investigation of allegations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay had become a distraction, taking time away from important pending legislation. The long-drawn investigation, he added, ought to be wrapped up as soon as possible, and if the evidence warrants, cases should be brought to court.

Perhaps feeling slighted, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who has presided more than 10 hearings by the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee against the Binays, urged the President to keep his hands off the investigation, lest this be misconstrued as executive interference with a co-equal body.

This belated show of faux independence is almost laughable in view of the billions of pesos in funding for their pet projects that 19 of 24 senators—including Senator Pimentel himself and his two colleagues in the subcommittee, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV—received from the Palace through its now -discredited Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). It is even more laughable when we recall how subservient the senators appeared during the only hearing on the DAP, and how they were falling over themselves to help Budget Secretary Florencio Abad justify the illegal diversion of billions of pesos in public funds to purposes not authorized by the national budget.

The knee-jerk response from the Palace was just as laughable, with the President’s spokesman offering that perhaps Senator Pimentel had been misquoted. Worse, in what appears to be a fit of paranoia, he also suggested that there were parties who were out to drive a wedge between the Palace and the Senate.

This suggestion fooled nobody, however, and the Palace’s fulsome praise of Senate President Franklin Drilon, for appearing before a sham hearing before his colleagues, merely reinforced the perception that notwithstanding the occasional outburst, the Palace and the Senate continue to work hand in glove, to the detriment of our system of checks and balances.


Paradigm shifts in confronting disasters  By Dean Tony La Viña | Nov. 11, 2014 at 12:01am

Last Saturday, the one-year anniversary of the Yolanda/Haiyan typhoon, I wrote about the Jaime V. Ongpin lecture of Undersecretary Alexander Pama, the Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense and the Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

I concluded that column saying that I was reassured by that lecture and believe the country is in good hands with respect to disaster governance while recognizing that there is still a lot of work to be done.

In this column, let me expound this further by quoting extensively from the Pama lecture entitled “Confronting Disasters: Paradigm Shifts”.

According to Usec. Pama, our starting point should by the philosophy we use in addressing the complex issue of disasters: “Philosophy is so important that it drives our actions.

And actions demonstrated repeatedly through time become part of culture. This being said puts emphasis that disaster risk reduction and management is a “whole of society” approach and responsibility requiring a change in our understanding of disaster. Then such philosophy translates into doctrines and eventually becomes our way of life.”

With this recognition, Pama then reflected on the evolution of our approach to disasters, emphasizing the shift that occurred when the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010 was passed by Congress and signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Pama observed how Republic Act 10121 “transformed the Philippine disaster management system from disaster relief and response towards risk reduction and management.

According to him: “This transformation demanded enhancements in institutional mechanisms and in the competencies of people. The law expanded the membership of the National Disaster Coordinating Council or NDCC and renamed it to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) or National Council which serves as the highest policy-making platform for DRRM in the country.

The council now has 44 members both from Government agencies and representatives from the Civil Society, Academe and other stakeholders with the Secretary of National Defense as the Council Chairman. The inclusion of four (4) representatives from the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and one (1) representative from the private sector in the National Council strengthened the reach of DRRM to communities as well as the private and business sectors.”

Usec. Pama then went on to highlight the four thematic areas of the new paradigm of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM): (1) prevention and mitigation; (2) disaster preparedness; (3) disaster response; and, (4) rehabilitation and recovery.

Prevention and Mitigation “focuses on interventions aimed at identifying hazards, vulnerabilities and exposure and undertaking measures meant to reduce the impact of disasters.”

Thus, we have made progress in developing science-based tools for early warning and risk assessment with improved weather forecasting by PAGASA and setting up Project NOAH. Pama also credits inter-agency, bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the progress we have made in this area. In my view though, what is lacking is making the hard decisions on land use that these science-based tools provide us, including where to locate critical infrastructure like airports and seaports.

Disaster Preparedness requires capacity building at all levels, but especially locally, “to enhance the state of readiness to respond to or recover from disasters”. Undersecretary Pama reported on the information and education campaigns the national government has conducted and the programs, with the Department of Interior and Local Government in the lead, it is implementing to build the capacity of local government units and communities to respond better to disasters.

As for Disaster Response, Pama pointed out that its effectiveness depends highly on the area’s state of preparedness. He observes: “Response only begins during or immediately after a disaster and emphasizes the need for a systematic and organized approach to providing rescue, relief such as food, water, health, shelter, psycho-social support, among others, body retrieval and identification, and early recovery.”

Among others, he emphasized the importance of National Disaster Response Plan that now serves as the reference for a doctrinal implementation of national disaster response operations.

Finally, the Rehabilitation and Recovery phase is important so our people can move on after a major disaster.

In this phase, the focus is on “restoring and improving the facilities, livelihood and living conditions of affected communities.” Pama elaborates what must be done for this to happen: “First of all, this is not restricted to the field of infrastructure and buildings, rather it is a first step to building greater resilience across the various sectors of the affected areas, including social, economic, physical and institutional.

Building Back Better translates to outcomes such as increasing overall health and nutrition, education, gender quality, rights of PWDs (people with disabilities) and the elderly. It focuses on improving people’s livelihood and building financial security for the population to be more capable of absorbing the shocks caused by hazards.

In terms of infrastructure, it involves ensuring that buildings, facilities, homes and utilities are built according to upgraded standards, and techniques and quality materials, in safer or low risk areas and adapting to the hazards which may be present.”

In the Ongpin lecture, Usec. Pama emphasized how these four thematic areas are all inter-related activities, that they are all building blocks for a better system of DRRM. He observes that failing to deliver in one thematic area will have a great impact on the others.

He specially pointed out how important the first thematic focus is in this new paradigm - prevention and mitigation, quoting Helen Clark, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme: “Every dollar spent reducing people’s vulnerability to disasters saves around seven dollars in economic losses.”

I agree completely with Usec. Pama that we must have an integrated approach in addressing disasters.

This is consistent with my long-time advocacy for a stand-alone national disaster agency. A coordination mechanism, that we currently have, can only do so much. The present system can be improved to become effective for localized disasters. But before massive disasters like Yolanda/Haiyan, it will surely fail.

I welcome the paradigm shift that Undersecretary Pama explains so well.

I dare say it will not be complete until we establish an independent disaster agency that will lead the way for the government and society to finally overcome and defeat all disasters that come our way.


Editorial: Sleaze factor By Manila Standard Today | Nov. 12, 2014 at 12:01am
 

IT is the supreme irony that while President Aquino constantly brags about putting corrupt public officials in jail, he presides over one of the most ethically challenged administrations in recent memory.

The focus, at the moment, is Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who by most accounts—except the official one—has gone on forced leave over allegations that he signed off on sweetheart deals in the procurement of medical equipment and vaccines and the privatization of at least one state-owned public hospital.

Ona isn’t the only one in the Cabinet under suspicion, however.

Among his colleagues in the President’s official family, those already facing plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman over a variety of cases are Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes; Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala; Budget Secretary Florencio Abad; Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson; Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.; and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

In total, the heads of six of 22 of the line agencies who make up the Cabinet have been charged with plunder, almost certainly a record.

And let us not forget that Mr. Aquino’s own trusted chief of the national police, Alan Purisima, is also facing a plunder complaint and has admitted, under oath before the Senate, that he accepted millions of pesos in discounts and donations in violation of the ethical principles of good governance.

Outside the executive branch, the President’s ally in the Liberal Party, Senate President Franklin Drilon, has also been charged with plunder over allegations that he benefited from the overpriced construction of a P700 million convention center in his hometown of Iloilo.

Except for the allegations against Ona, the President so far has simply waved away the complaints against those in his inner circle, dismissing them as nuisance suits. In most cases, he had not even gone through the motions of ordering an investigation. This knee-jerk exoneration of his own men is a disservice to Filipino taxpayers, whose funds might well be misappropriated, and gives lie to the President’s claims the country has come to grips with and even defeated corruption under his watch.

Mr. Aquino’s claim might resonate with delegates to international conferences who are unfamiliar with Philippine conditions, but closer to home, we can clearly see the President’ double standard at work.

Mr. Aquino insists that he is honest, but his refusal to act on allegations of corruption against his closest lieutenants taints his own hands. Sooner rather than later, he will learn that the sleaze he permits all around him will rub off on him as well.


Editorial: Outdoing itself  By Manila Standard Today | Nov. 11, 2014 at 12:01am
 


APEC: COMPETITIVENESS

President Aquino’s statements on the supposed attractiveness of the Philippines to foreign investors during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting is nothing new.

Perhaps his confidence was boosted by the words of the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, who said that he had done very well in fostering the country’s competitiveness in doing business.

And indeed, the country’s significant advance in ease of doing business since 2011 says a lot about how investors may feel about the Philippines as their next destination. The Philippines is now also fifth among the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

The President likes to say that such gains are because of the reforms he has put in place, and because of his administration pursuit of the so-called straight and narrow path.

But not everything can be described in simple terms. We wonder: is there any way we can now translate these gains to actual jobs created and increased disposable income for Filipinos?

Last we looked, more Filipinos counted themselves poor.

The power crisis also looms. Did not the President himself attempt to ask Congress for emergency powers? He took this back, perhaps realizing that to do so would be to admit that he has failed to address the power supply shortage which is expected to hit us the hardest in the coming summer months.

There are other issues: peace and order, transport woes, and uneven distribution of wealth.

In the meantime, there are not enough signs that the administration knows exactly where it must focus. Its top officials are busy either fending off corruption allegations or trumping up ones against their political enemies. How this fosters competitiveness is not clear to us. The only competition this breeds is among themselves.

The Aquino administration is down to its last 19 months. Perhaps it is time it was remembered for actual things accomplished instead of slogans popularized and achievements claimed.


Binay still on top By Emil Jurado | Nov. 12, 2014 at 12:01am

With hardly 19 months to go until Election Day in 2016, it would appear that the country is stuck with Smartmatic’s Precinct Count Optical Scan machines.

I cannot understand why Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes is so enamored with Smartmatic’s PCOS machines considering the many complaints that came with them in the 2013 midterm elections.

For one thing, the so-called “60-30-10” pattern in favor of administration candidates is still fresh in our minds. There were other complaints like the PCOS machines counting overshaded ballots and even non-shaded ballots.

In the wake of these complaints, we would think that the Comelec would be considering other Automated Electronic Systems (AES) for 2016. But, no, according to Brillantes, who is so much in love with “Hokus-PCOS” machines that he’s even buying more from Smartmatic.

There is so little time left.

Santa Banana, the people are beginning to think that the Aquino administration wants to make its candidates win by hook or by crook!

This is something that the President should consider. We have to have credible elections.

* * *

The question foremost in the minds of many people these days is, can Vice President Jojo Binay weather the demolition campaign against him?

Now, the discredited Makati politicians who first brought a plunder case against Binay allege that the Makati Science High School is also overpriced. Some also claim that Binay has hidden bank accounts in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, California.

But, if we look deep enough at all these corruption charges thrown at Binay, they remain as mere hearsay. A court of law will simply throw them to the trash can.

That’s why the Vice President would rather face the Ombudsman then the Senators who have already prejudged him.

Personally, I think Binay will survive this storm.

For one thing, many people have already made up their minds that Binay is the best man to replace the Aquino administration in 2016. This can be gleaned from surveys still showing Binay as the man to beat. His popularity and trust ratings may have declined, but his “masa base” remains intact.

Many things can still happen between now and Election Day.

In fact, I would even say that at the rate Binay’s tormentors are going, digging muck and mud against the Vice President, people are beginning to sympathize with Binay. And we all know that in the Philippines, people have a soft spot for the underdog. Trillanes and Cayetano may well be reminded that there’s a limit to everything, even in politics. An overkill can boomerang.

* * *

The case of some 700 Customs personnel, many of whom have already retired, who have not been paid by domestic and foreign airlines their overtime, meal allowances and transportation despite a Supreme Court decision mandating the BAR or Board of Airlines Representatives to settle their overtime amounting to some P1.3 billion is truly tragic.

Way back in September 2011, a decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, directed the airlines to pay Customs personnel overtime, meals and transportation beyond their eight-hour duty.

The Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, according to Carpio, mandates it.

But the tragedy is that up to this late date, some 700 Customs personnel who worked overtime for the airlines for years have not gotten a single centavo in utter contempt and disregard of the Supreme Court decision. In fact, the airlines are demanding a waiver from the 700 Customs personnel of 20 percent of the money due to them, which sad to say, the 700 are willing to do. “Better than nothing,” so I am told.

The failure of the airlines to pay overtime obviously arises from the fact that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla have not lifted a finger to help the Customs personnel. Customs even adopted a three-shift work schedule to avoid overtime for flight departing and arriving.

Santa Banana, it would seem that instead of helping Customs personnel, many of whom have already retired, Purisima and Sevilla are already on the side of the airlines. That makes the tragedy of unpaid overtime at Customs doubly tragic.


Bully, coward By Jojo Robles | Nov. 11, 2014 at 12:01am

Apparently, people still want to know why President Noynoy Aquino did not even bother to visit Tacloban City to mark the anniversary last week of the devastation at the epicenter of the disaster. The short answer, for me, is because Aquino is basically a bully and a coward.

Let me illustrate: If you still don’t know why Aquino did not go to Tacloban, you only need to know what Aquino said in Beijing, where he is now attending the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization.

I’m certain that, if Aquino could have avoided going to the Apec meeting, he would have. But because he would lose so much face if he didn’t go to a meeting of heads of state where is actually invited, Aquino swallowed his pride and went—after deciding to ratchet down the anti-China rhetoric and pretend to be the very soul of harmony and mutual co-existence.

“On a state visit here in 2011, we were very heartened to hear then President Hu Jintao [say that] the be-all and end-all of our relationships does not have to be just one particular issue,” the suddenly peace-loving Aquino said in the Chinese capital, referring to the tension in the West Philippine Sea. “[Hu said] there are so many other aspects of our relationship.”

Of course, when he is in the Philippines, Aquino never misses an opportunity to issue veiled warlike warnings against the Chinese. Remember how he declared during one State of the Nation Address that “what is ours is ours; Recto Bank is no different from Recto Avenue”?

Aquino, like all bullies, is really a coward. He knew he could not get away with hectoring the Chinese where they lived, despite all his previous jingoistic rhetoric—so he had to play the unusual role (for him, anyway) of President-statesman in Beijing.

Now, remember how Aquino has always blamed the devastation in Tacloban City on the local government, which—surprise, surprise—is headed by a member of the Romualdez clan that is his family’s sworn political enemy. His chosen emissary, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, was even caught on tape explaining why, because of the family names of the President and of the mayor, the city can never expect any help from the national government.

And in Guiuan, far away from Tacloban, Aquino was once again free to act the bully, castigating those who have been criticizing his government for failing to adequately respond to the calamity. Because he is a bully and a coward, he can’t very well do that in Tacloban, right?

Perhaps the next President will not be as fake-tough and as cowardly as this one. The people of Tacloban and other places where people have the misfortune of being ruled by political opponents of Aquino, who have already suffered so much, don’t deserve a President so vengeful that he will punish them all for electing his enemies.

* * *

I’ve been informed that Senate President Franklin Drilon has recently established a record that no politician in his right mind will really envy. Drilon now supposedly holds the dubious distinction of having the most number of complaints for plunder filed against him.

The plunder complaint filed recently by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada against Drilon in connection with the allegedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center is only the latest in a string of plunder complaints filed against the veteran Ilonggo politician.

Earlier plunder complaints were filed against Drilon for his role in the Jalaur Dam project that is now the subject of a writ of kalikasan; for alleged overpricing of a P63.2 million relocation site purchased using Drilon’s pork barrel funds in San Isidro, Iloilo City; for the alleged hiring of an unqualified contractor for P87.2 million to clean up an oil spill in the aftermath of Yolanda in Estancia; for the alleged substandard construction of the Iloilo Hall of Justice building using his pork barrel funds; for the alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Esplanade Two project, still in Iloilo; and similar complaints for misappropriation of public funds relating to the Disbursement Acceleration Program funds given to legislators and for his role in the alleged misuse of P900 million Malampaya Fund.

(As an aside, I’ve also been told that members of the Aquino administration’s Cabinet have already surpassed the record for the most number of plunder complaints filed against any such group of Executive officials in all previous governments. Of course, these do not yet include the cases that are expected to be filed against President Noynoy Aquino himself, when his immunity from suit expires in 2016.)

Under pressure to go after their own colleague, members of the Senate yellow (I mean blue) ribbon committee have declared that they will start their investigation of Drilon in relation to Mejorada’s complaint this week. But because Drilon is facing charges in connection with his alleged misuse of the same pork and DAP funds that practically all of the Senate also gobbled up, I have serious doubts if such a probe will get anywhere.

Drilon has always said that the charges against him are baseless and malicious. Let’s see what Baseless and Malicious, the two senators who are now busy grilling Vice President Jejomar Binay, will do to Drilon when his case comes up.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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