Thursday, December 29, 2005

Holiday Greetings



Hope you are all having a fabulous Christmas holiday. We apologize for the slow down in posting, but we need to bond with our families, take a little time off, and re-energize ourselves for the year ahead just like everyone else.

We thank you for visiting our blog, whether you agree with our views, hopes and aspirations, or not. Your comments are appreciated, and read with much interest. We hope you continue to visit, and that some of you will leave a comment or two for us to enjoy.

There will be much to watch out for in the first quarter of 2006, the year of the Fire Dog. We await FVR's next move, Garci's next hearing, the return of Jocelyn Bolante, the latest on the No-El scenario. That's just our shortlist. Most especially, we await the day Gloria decides that it is time to pack up, unstick her fingers and leave the presidency she doesn't deserve.

MALIGAYANG PASKO AT MANIGONG BAGONG TAON!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Petition In Support of Senate Report No. 44

Fellow Filipinos,


Just a few weeks ago, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee released Senate Report No. 44 recommending that all COMELEC Commissioners involved in the “COMELEC modernization scam”, should resign.

A group of us concerned Filipinos, who also happen to be IT practitioners and are very familiar with the facts of the case, decided to prepare a statement in support of the Senate Report. Our plan is to send this statement to the COMELEC, the Senate, Congress, the Ombudsman and the Solicitor-General, about the middle of January, 2006.

Before former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo resigned, he mentioned that their office had already finished its report and that such will soon be submitted / elevated to the Sandiganbayan. This has not happened. We therefore need to exert pressure on their office to speed up the process.

The Office of the Solicitor-General, whose task it is to run after the money which was illegally disbursed, has not progressed much in that effort. We need to highlight this anomaly in order to recover the P1billion that had already been paid. Many say that in the Philippine context, this is an impossible task. But these things only become impossible tasks because we readily accept them to be such. In fact, it is apathy that makes these tasks so impossible.

If conspiracy between the COMELEC and the winning bidder could be proven, then recovery of the money could be achieved. We believe there is a paper trail that can prove such conspiracy.

Anyway, first things first: we have opened up a page in PetitionOnline with a copy of our statement of support for Senate Report No. 44. If you agree with the statement, then we encourage you to sign the petition with us. Just click on the following URL to access the petition page:

http://new.PetitionOnline.com/resignow/petition.html

Thank you very much. May we, even through incremental efforts and gains, finally achieve what we all aspire for --- clean, honest, orderly and peaceful elections. And ultimately, a better
Philippines for all Filipinos!

Gus Lagman

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In Support of Senate Report No. 44 - Abalos, et al Must Resign

The undersigned Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines (ITFP) and individuals (IT practitioners), including those who filed the case in the Supreme Court in August, 2003, causing the eventual nullification of the contract signed by the COMELEC with Mega Pacific eSolutions, Inc., strongly support Senate Report No. 44 of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommending that all COMELEC Commissioners involved in the “COMELEC modernization scam”, resign.

The COMELEC committed many sins against the Filipino people. In the bidding for Automated Counting Machines (ACMs):

n The bid specs asked for 3 years Financial Statements; but the winning bidder was only incorporated 11 days before the submission of bids; the COMELEC therefore awarded the contract for ACMs to an unqualified bidder.

n The bidder claimed they were a consortium and therefore carried the track record and financial performance of the consortium members; but considering that it was a P1.3 billion project, all they had was a verbal agreement among them!

n The bid specs asked for 99.9995% accuracy level (1 mistake in 200,000); both bidders failed. Then the COMELEC reduced that to 99.995% in midstream (1 mistake in 20,000). Changing the bid specs at the middle of the evaluation is in violation of procurement rules. In spite of this change in specs, both bidders failed!

n The Bid and Awards Committee (BAC) should have declared a failed bidding right there and then, but no! they went on and awarded the contract to Mega Pacific.

n What’s more, the COMELEC en banc awarded the contract on April 15, 2003before they even received the written report from the BAC, which was only submitted to them on April 21, 2003. This clearly violates procurement rules.

Mr. Abalos cannot claim that they only made an honest mistake in awarding the contract. In May, 2003, the ITFP sent a letter to the COMELEC recommending that they declare a failed bidding, but such recommendation was ignored. This was what prompted the ITFP and eight individuals, none of whom was a bidder, to file a Petition with the Supreme Court in August, 2003, for the nullification of the contract.

On January 13, 2004, the Supreme Court released its decision nullifying the contract and directing the Office of the Solicitor-General to exert all efforts to recover the money and the Ombudsman to “determine the criminal liability, if any, of the public officials (and conspiring private individuals, if any)” involved in the subject contract.

It has been almost two years since the Supreme Court handed down its decision, yet nothing much has happened. The COMELEC Commissioners and the members of the BAC continue to collect salaries; the COMELEC has not returned the equipment to the suppliers and has not recovered what they paid; and to add insult to injury, they continue to spend millions renting space to warehouse the equipment!

The Ombudsman has yet to elevate the case to the Sandiganbayan; and Congress has yet to initiate impeachment proceedings against the Commissioners. Unless these Commissioners are replaced, we can forget about clean and honest elections, as well as, election automation, in 2007.

Unknown to the general public, these COMELEC Commissioners committed other major sins:

n They suspended the continuous registration in January, 2003, in violation of the law (R.A. 8189) and to the disadvantage of new voters.

n They mis-allocated P1 billion meant for ACMs, to purchase data capturing machines for use in validating voters’ registration, a project that could not be completed in May, 2004, thus violating a Supreme Court ruling.

n They deceived voters by telling them that they should validate their registration, otherwise they would be put in a “watch list”.

n They mis-allocated another P300 million, meant for the purchase of ACMs, for their own illegal quick count (something that NAMFREL does for free). The Supreme Court stopped them, anyway. But they have already disbursed the P300 million by then!

In all, the COMELEC Commissioners wasted approximately P2.6 billion of taxpayer money. Perhaps erring officials of the COMELEC can only be removed through impeachment; but they can RESIGN! They should RESIGN!

That’s the only decent thing for them to do.

Corruption thrives in our country because we allow it. Corruption thrives in our country because we do not punish the criminals.

Signed on December 19, 2005, by

Amado Malacaman, Jr.
President
Information Technology Foundation of the
Philippines

Maricor Akol
Augusto Lagman
Cynthia Mamon
Miguel Uy
Manuel Alcuaz
Rex Drilon II
Miguel Hilado
Ley Salcedo
Edu Lopez
Winston Chan

Friday, December 09, 2005

TRUTH BITES

A bit of truth a day, moves us on our way...

Hello? Is that you, Garci?

"We validated the voices on the tape: former COMELEC Chairman Christian Monsod and several other COMELEC staff and officials identified Garcillano's voice and validated the context of conversations. xxxx

"Independent verification confirming the authenticity of the recording was made by two internationally reputable voice experts, who identified the voices as those of the President and Garcillano by comparing the recordings and voice samples submitted to them. These experts also say the recording had not been spliced or tampered with."

-PCIJ, in I-report Special Edition, "The Queens' Gambits", page 36

"I can't make sure that it's my voice."

-former COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, testifying at a hearing of the House of Representatives, December 7, 2005

*Truth Bites is an attempt to remind all of us about the truths that remain uncovered.

**By the Citizens for Truth and Resignation, Impeachment or Ouster (C4T) and the Black and White Movement (BnW)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

THE TWILIGHT OF DECEIT

THE Black & White Movement pays tribute to all those who are relentless in their pursuit of the truth. In particular, the members of the House of Representatives, who have begun to eliminate the bodyguard of lies surrounding Virgilio Garcillano. Despite “Garci’s” peacock-like strutting into the House, his demeanor shows a man fearful of the truth.

But the truth cannot be hidden forever. And the effort to find it can be blocked, delayed, and hindered, but it will always prevail, so long as there are Filipinos who prefer the oftentimes harsh light of truthfulness to the sinister darkness of lies that breed more lies and crimes to cover up the lies.

Garci’s gamble, in league with his patrons and handlers, is that the public will prefer to be blind, mute, and deaf, regardless of what happens. Just in case, they are attempting to use every means, whether procedurally, in Congress, or by the shameless manipulation of the law, to help cover up their continuing crimes. On the verge of obtaining the truth, we must not let the truth escape our people’s grasp. We must remain alert and aware, to prevent the truth being thwarted yet again.

To our representatives in Congress, we ask: be impartial, be fair, and do not be a party to either rabid partisanship, which soils the truth, or be a hindrance to letting the truth come out. To our fellow citizens in the Civil Service, we say: the lies and deceitful conspiracies of the administration are unraveling. Many of you hold pieces of the puzzle; come forward and reveal what you know, so the whole picture can be completed.

Even as the House and Senate investigations expose the truth, we ask all our countrymen and women to stay alert. A government seeing its handiwork falling to pieces will be tempted to resort to its last means of staying in power: brute force. The Black & White Movement believes we must all be conscious of the kinds of terrorism and violence used by governments in the past, in order to provide excuses for the arrest of its opponents, and the spread of fear among the general population. We have seen bombings, strafings, and other violence engaged in by governments desperate to stay in power –and, indeed, extend their power despite constitutional obstacles.

Still, this is a time for renewed optimism and hope. Even as the truth struggles to be free, so are our people coming together to set aside partisan differences in the national interest. We welcome recent statements by prominent political personalities, recognizing that the solution to our nation’s political crisis lies in the resignation of the President and Vice-President. We recognize the statesmanship and principle represented by statements that recognize that our nation’s political paralysis can only end by asking the Senate President to assume the mantle of authority, preparatory to a genuinely free and honest national election, once the incumbent president and vice-president have resigned.

The way forward is opening up; our country is finding a new cause for unity; the work for reform, long delayed, has prospects of resuming very soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Magic Time!

Ladies and Gentlemen! It's Magic Time! Observe the play of smoke and mirrors. Erstwhile Comelec Commissioner Garcillano has appeared out of nowhere and is finally in Manila to testify in the Lower House. Just to make the Magic Show that is Gloriagate even more stupefying, Garci, through his lawyer, is trying to cloud the Truth via another obfuscation trick - bringing other politicians into the show. Inq7 Breaking News reports his lawyer alleges that over 20 solons called Garcillano around election time, some of them prominent oppostion Representatives.

By all means, if there is evidence that any of the newly accused may have cheated in the last election, then bring it out, bring it on. But let's not lose focus on what got us into this mess in the first place. Magicians rely on mis-direction when performing their tricks, so beware of being led away from the matter at hand. The real circus stars are the tightrope walker (GMA) and the magician (Garci) - they will have to prove that the tapes are fake, that they never connived to assure a GMA win, that they never betrayed the Filipino people, among so many other things. Theirs is a much bigger show than the side shows the Palace magicians are trying to foist on us.

Filipinos are well known to be discriminating. We love a good show. On the other hand, we always seem to know when we've been tricked into watching bad performances. These days I'm not too sure anymore. It seems that as a national audience we have been hypnotized. Whatever happened to the folks that normally demand a refund after watching a badly produced show? Have we lost our ability to see through the fakery? Have we been lulled into the acceptance of bad taste?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

This photo is a detail from our latest ad, an invitation to the Black & White's recently concluded "Gabi ng KaBAYANIhan". The ad appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 30 November.

A couple of days later, we were rather pleased to find out that the barricades that surrounded Malacanan Palace had been removed.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I AM SORRY - The Better Version

It is the morning after "Gabi ng KaBAYANIhan". Although we hoped for his cooperation, VP de Castro has decided to cast his lot with GMA. It's a shame, he could've been our turn-around president and left a great legacy of reform. Which brings me to think about what really resides in the hearts of folks that run for public office.

Speaking of heart, and about speaking from the heart, here's a letter of apology from David Martinez which was received via email. Read on...

To All Younger Than Me:

I could have screamed to the high heavens when I saw with my own eyes a political convention in my city brazenly manipulated by a congressman-uncle of mine. I didn't. I was daunted. I could have turned in a cousin who had an illegal electrical connection to his home which bypassed the meter. I didn't. It would have split the clan. I could have paid the right taxes on the income I made running a photography studio to support myself while in law school. I didn't. I thought that since virtually everybody cheated on their returns, so could I. I could have made a big deal of it when I stumbled on our governor utilizing prison labor for his private benefit. I didn't. He was a good friend of my father's. I could have declined defending and obtaining the acquittal of a senator's son charged with illegal possession of firearms. I didn't. I needed to earn the senator's gratitude, even at the expense of my integrity. I could have raised hell against the rampant illegal logging going on in southern Negros. I didn't. The rape benefited my wife's extended family.

In America, resisting the martial law regime, I could have exposed the stunning duplicity and self-interest that characterized the motives of many in our exile leadership. I didn't. I feared becoming ostracized. It was so much easier to play it safe. To be silent. Even when I knew that our moral values ere no better than those of the people we opposed. Even though I knew that many resisted Marcos solely because they wanted to replace him.

Now as I approach the sunset of my years I make amends. To all younger than myself, I ask you to accept my deep remorse. If the solemn, unwritten task of each generation is to leave this world in better shape for the young than when they first found it, we've accomplished the exact opposite. By design or inaction we've bled the country dry. We've poisoned its rivers, destroyed its coastlines, uprooted its forests, and polluted its air. We've plundered its resources, bequeathing you a barren wasteland. We've politicized the military, nourished a communist rebellion and a separatist campaign, elevated corruption into an art form, and institutionalized an oligarchy in the guise of a democracy. If we didn't actively participate in promoting injustice, we turned a blind eye to it. We embraced the dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself concept as though it were a teaching from Heaven itself. We sanctified the greed of the few in favor of the need of the many. We've managed in the span of one generation to destroy your most precious God-given gift: hope. Because I was party to this merciless conspiracy, if it's pardonable in any way, I seek your forgiveness.

Some of us -- a pitiful few of us -- realizing the true extent of our collective sins, have dedicated the rest of our lives to making amends. Even though we know that nothing we can do will restore Paradise Lost. However awash in guilt and sincere in repentance, we know that we haven't the time. All we can hope for by this humble attempt at rehabilitating ourselves is to minimize the spite our generation has earned so well. So exceedingly well. All we can do, when we're gone, is beg you not to spit on our graves.

Monday, November 28, 2005

WANTED: Magiting at Marangal na Pilipino

Below is an invitation from the Black & White Movement to all those interested in recovering our honor as Filipinos and getting to the truth:

Sa lahat ng mamamayan na gustong iwasto ang panloloko sa bayan, magsama-sama tayo sa November 30, Gabi ng KaBAYANIhan, 7:00 P.M. sa La Salle Greenhills Gym, Mandaluyong.

Sino pa ang aasahan nating magligtas sa bayang naliligaw dahil walang tunay na namumuno?

Hindi ba dapat manindigan na si Vice President Noli de Castro, ang itinakda ng Konstitusyon bilang taga-halili sa Presidenteng hindi na makapaglingkod?

Hindi ba dapat magpaliwanag na si Commissioner Garcillano sa naging papel niya sa diumanong pandaraya noong eleksiyon? Dito lamang niya malilinis ang kanyang pangalan at baka sakaling maisalba ang kanyang karangalan.

Di ba dapat sa ating sarili na lamang tayo umasa? Ipamukha natin na hindi natin tatanggapin at tatangkilikin ang isang huwad na Pangulo.

Sigaw ng Pilipinas: Lahat tayo may dugong Bayani!

http://www.blacknwhite-movement.com
http://www.blckandwhte.blogspot.com
0917.88GARCI (Hello Garci? Magpaka-bayani ka!)

Expected to speak at this event are former Secretary of Education Butch Abad, Rep. Gilbert Remulla, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, among others. There will be a prayer concert as well as performances from Noel Cabangon, Cynthia Alexander, Cookie Chua, and Silent Sanctuary.

Please wear black and white.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

WE WISH YOU A TRUTHFUL GARCI

We apologize for the inactivity for the last few days, but we are deep in preparation for our November 30th rally. But since one of our "favorite" GMA henchmen has decided to worm his way out of the woodwork, we are posting our latest press statement regarding Virgilio "Garci" Garcillano. As usual, comments are welcome:

The Black & White Movement views with concern media reports that Virgilio Garcillano has returned.We welcome this development because we have been quite vocal about wanting to see “Garci” return home. However, we are also concerned that he might be part of the continuing grand cover-up that Mrs. Arroyo has been undertaking.After all, after months of being untraceable and unreachable, his sudden reappearance seems curiously timed for the administration’s convenience. Aside from Garcillano’s wife, only Rep. Prospero Pichay, Mrs. Arroyo’s anointed candidate for Speaker of the House, has come forward to claim direct communication with him. This can only mean Garcillano remains firmly in Mrs. Arroyo’s pocket.

Instead of a holiday season filled with optimism and good cheer, and goodwill toward all, we are poised to witness a cunningly crafted performance. Mr. Garcillano will step forward and recount a version of events divorced from reality. As it is, we hear many administration allies suggesting Mr. Garcillano never even left the country, which boggles the mind and insinuates that the Singapore Foreign Ministry lied when it said Garci passed through Singapore on July 14. However, there is nothing the administration won’t do in order to promote its alternative reality. It will take a superhuman effort from citizens both outside government, and within the bureaucracy, to reveal the truth so firmly guarded by the government’s lies. As it is, allies of the search for the truth are being sidelined by the Palace. Rep. Gilbert Remulla, who was hot on Garci's trail in the House inquiry, has been replaced as Chair of the lead investigating committee. The timing of this move is very suspicious. And convenient.

It does not have to be that way. Mr. Garcillano still has a chance to finally do his country a service, and tell the truth. Unvarnished, unpolished, unprepared, but honest, forthright, and thorough. As Mrs. Arroyo herself once challenged the country, “let the chips fall where they may”. The Black & White Movement’s challenge isn’t hollow, like Mrs. Arroyo’s. Let the truth be told, though the heavens – or the administration’s power built on lies - fall. Mr. Garcillano can implicate all the people he wants – and should implicate all those who availed of his services - but he shouldn’t have selective amnesia when it comes to his clients and what they had him do in the last elections.

He should be forthright about where he has been, and with whom he has been with, ever since he disappeared precisely because he is accused of being a party to two crimes. The first was the cheating for May, 2004. The second was the cover-up to save the President in the wake of the “Hello, Garci” tapes’ appearance.

Should Mr. Garcillano choose, instead, to stick to a Palace-prepared script, he will accomplish only the perpetuation of the twisted view that a president’s pleasure, whether electoral or criminal, is the only law in town. He will therefore leave himself wide open to every means the citizenry can find to compel him to produce what he doesn’t want to reveal –the truth. Mr. Garcillano must tell all –or lose all. He must come clean as to why in the tapes, his conversations with Mrs. Arroyo match the results in the places they discussed (places where Mrs. Arroyo “won”). He must open up his bank accounts to expose the paper and money trail. He must decide to risk all by throwing himself at the mercy of his countrymen, rather than lose all –reputation, peace of mind, even his life- by continuing to serve or be held hostage by Mrs. Arroyo. For once in his life, he must do what is right.

The truth, and only the truth, Garci, can set you free. The Black & White Movement will work with zeal and determination with other citizen’s groups in determining what criminal cases can be filed against Mr. Garcillano now that he has resurfaced. Since the Palace has closed the avenue available to put legal closure to this case, we will challenge Mr. Garcillano's pronouncements before the courts, where he could suffer legal penalties if he fails to come forward with the truth. To lie is to invite consequences: prosecution for contempt of Congress; betrayal of the public trust; violations of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act; acts of direct bribery under the Penal Code and violations of the Omnibus Election Code. After all, as Mrs. Arroyo’s allies so love to say, “The law is harsh, but it is the law.”

Friday, November 11, 2005

It’s Black and White

To answer queries posted on this blog regarding who we are and what we stand for, we are posting the ad we printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 9 November 2005. Please read on.


Fight for what’s Right!

Is it right for GMA to cling to power up to 2010 and maybe beyond?

More than 80% of Filipinos believe that she cheated. 79% believe she should have been impeached, and 51% believed she should be removed through people power if impeachment fails.*

Whether she cheated or not is no longer the only issue. The question is whether she should remain in Malacañang without the support of the people.

Is it right for GMA to use any means to remain in power?

So far, she has trashed the impeachment, declared CPR, enforced EO 464, threatened emergency power or martial law, initiated hearings versus Gudani & Balutan, accused Cory and Drilon of a coup plot and continues to harass Bro. Eddie.

Is it right for her to use government positions and favors as rewards for unconditional loyalty to her?

A long-standing moratorium on logging in protected areas of Samar was recently lifted in favor of a company closely associated with a politician. Post-dated checks have been issued to politicians for “scholarships”. Military promotions, ambassadorships and other appointments, plum contracts, pork barrel have been awarded to supporters and sycophants. On the other hand, civil servants with sterling performance records were summarily relieved of their posts for not blindly doing her bidding.

If you answered NO to any of these questions, join the Black & White Movement. No one can afford to sit this one out. The alternative may be more violent upheaval.

Is the Black and White Movement right for you?

We’ve been called ‘non-entities’. We are the non-celebrity middle forces who simply love our country. We are not extremists. We are not ”trapos”. We are not for Erap and we are not Marcos supporters.

We pay our taxes. We have neither vested interests nor political ambitions. We only want to put the country on the right track - as soon as possible.

Is Our Objective the right one?

To give the middle forces a venue and a voice to vent their outrage at the disgraceful conduct of the highest official of the land.

What is the right action to take?

The Black and White Movement is committed to legal, constitutional, and non-violent solutions. These will be implemented peaceably, democratically with the least disruption to our fragile economy.

Our prescription: 1) A massive, nationwide signature campaign for the non-violent removal of GMA from office.

2) Ask the VP to take over as the Turnaround President who will call for a special election in 2007 after revamping the Comelec.

3) If the VP is unwilling, he must resign as well. It then becomes necessary for the Senate President to call for Special Elections according to the Constitution.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, welcome to the Black and White Movement.

Text your name, address, email address, affiliation, to 0917-88GARCI. We will provide you membership/signature campaign details.

*SWS Survey

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Search for Ombudsman

In as much as the Black & White Movement is about good governance, we are publishing a letter sent by Vincent Lazatin, Chairman of the Transparency and Accountability Network regarding the current search for a new Ombudsman. As you know, Atty. Simeon Marcelo has resigned his post, and will ultimately leave the Office of the Ombudsman on 30 November. Please take the time to read the following and get involved.

Select Your Ombudsman

The Ombudsman selection process is happening at an alarmingly fast pace. Ostensibly, the selection process attempts to involve the public by accepting nominations to the position from the public and accepting comments on the nominees. However, unless the public has time to respond to these calls for nominations and comments, public participation is very limited and non-inclusive.

The Transparency and Accountability Network has written the Judicial and Bar Council to take its time in going through the process since nothing will be gained by having a speedy one. On the other hand, there is much to gain by having a more inclusive process.

Again, I appeal to the media, and Filipinos in general, to help us shine light on this process by writing about it, talking about it, and making it an issue of public concern. If we don't get involved, we will wake up one morning and find out a new Ombudsman has been named. By then it will be too late and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

If you need more information, you can contact me directly (vtlazatin@yahoo.com), or you can log onto the TAN website (www.tan.org.ph).
Thank you in advance for all your help.

Vincent Lazatin
Transparency and Accountability Network, Chairman

INFORMATION ON THE OMBUDSMAN SELECTION PROCESS:

As of Oct 17, the following comprised the list of applicants for the Ombudsman post:

  • Gualberto dela Llana
  • Victor Fernandez
  • Remedios Fernando
  • Nicodemus Ferrer
  • Margarito Gervacio Jr.
  • Merceditas Gutierrez
  • Christopher Lock
  • Diosdado Peralta
  • Dennis Villa-Ignacio
  • Florencio Villarin
  • Douglas Cagas

Today, the JBC Secretariat announced new applicants:

  • Crispin B. Bravo
  • Orlando C. Casimiro
  • Arturo M. de Castro
  • Arno V. Sanidad

The JBC Secretariat likewise announced a deadline for submission of any sworn complaint, written report, or opposition against the candidates no later than 5pm, November 14, 2005. Note that this deadline is only applicable for reports submitted on the newly-announced applicants.

TAN would appreciate any information you may have on any of these candidates. Please submit to us reports or comments on the applicants anytime this week [November 8-12], and we will gladly facilitate routing of such reports to the JBC.

Public interviews are scheduled as follows: [venue is at the Justice’s Lounge, 7/F New Supreme Court Building, Padre Faura St., Manila]

November 16, 9:00am

  • Crispin Bravo
  • Douglas Cagas
  • Orlando Casimiro

November 16, 2:00pm

  • Arturo de Castro
  • Gualberto dela Llana

November 17, 9:00am

  • Victor Fernandez
  • Remedios Fernandez
  • Nicodemus Ferrer

November 17, 2:00pm

  • Margarito Gervacio Jr.
  • Merceditas Gutierrez

November 18, 9:00am

  • Christopher Lock
  • Diosdado Peralta
  • Arno Sanidad

November 18, 2:00pm

  • Dennis Villa-Ignacio
  • Florencio Villarin

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

QUESTIONS, NOT PREJUDICE



The Black & White Movement reiterates our support for the Citizen’s Congress for Truth and Accountability, which had its opening session yesterday. By now, it should be evident to all that the Palace’s stubborn refusal to participate in the Congress’s sessions cannot thwart efforts to seek the truth. Despite efforts to disrupt the proceedings on the part of entities supportive of the administration, the Congress and its organizers reacted with greater tolerance, humility, and swift accountability than the Palace has thus far accorded the public.

We laud, in particular, the efforts of the Congress to hold accountable those who, in the tension-filled moments when pro-Arroyo protesters tried to disrupt the proceedings, reacted harshly. These are times that call for all of us to practice tolerance and civility, in contrast to the intolerant and uncivil treatment the administration has inflicted on a citizenry seeking accountability from its officials.

The following days will be an unprecedented exercise in citizenship. It can only succeed in further demonstrating just how far the administration has strayed from what is expected of a democratic government. Different organizations with different views and opinions have come together, and have set aside their differences in pursuit of a laudable endeavor. We congratulate the organizers and participants in the Citizen’s Congress. And we urge our fellow citizens to follow, to the best of their ability, the proceedings of that Congress.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Our Ideas for the First 100 Days After Gloria

A First 100 Days Agenda

Rationale

• New government must survive and reform: neutralize forces against change, enable reformers to seize initiative, and hold opportunistic politicians and rent-seeking economic interests at bay.
• Need to generate a cadre of competent, trustworthy, and reform-oriented leaders to take charge during the critical period.
• Middle forces must know how to engage new government and, at the same time, initiate/support self-development programs for and with the marginalized.
• We cannot afford to repeat mistakes and shortcomings of past or miss opportunities for real change.

Premises

• Not only a change of leadership and administration but substantial institutional, political, economic, and social reforms.
• Prospects for far-reaching reforms depend on:
• Circumstances (e.g., simple succession vs. people power) under which new government comes to power, and
• Latitude (e.g., time, power) given new government to govern and introduce reforms.
• Need to revisit this exercise once consensus is reached on how new government is to be installed.
• We must not leave government to the bureaucrats and politics to the politicians.

1st – Stabilize the Political Situation

• Neutralize forces against change.
• Secure/sustain support of military and police:
• Restore promotions and reward systems in the AFP and PNP.
• Declare commitment to improve welfare of the rank and file.
• Consolidate broad anti-GMA forces behind new leadership and First 100 Days Agenda.
• Reconstitute peace panels and jumpstart peace negotiations with CPP-NPA-NDF, MILF, RPMP-PRA, and RPMM-RPA.
• Push reform elements to seize initiative in new government and hold opportunistic politicians and rent-seeking economic interests at bay.

2nd - Institute Zero Tolerance for Graft and Corruption and Restore Good and Effective Governance

• Replace GMA subalterns in key revenue, security, and service agencies immediately.
• Constitute a credible search committee and appoint and/or promote competent, honest, and committed individuals in these offices.
• Uphold transparency, accountability, efficiency, responsiveness, citizen participation, and predictability as standards for good governance.
• Institute system of performance contracts in the Cabinet.
• Fast track prosecution of celebrated graft cases (e.g., Gen. Garcia’s case, US$2M Perez bribery case, P723M fertilizer scam).
• Suspend and review questionable contracts (e.g. North Rail Project).
• Ensure delivery of priority services for the poor in health, education, housing, livelihood, social welfare, employment generation, and asset reform.

3rd-Demonstrate Pro-Poor Commitment and Address Needs of the Middle Class

• Implement focused subsidies (e.g., food, medicines and energy) for urban and rural poor to mitigate effects of E-VAT.
• Exempt minimum wage earners from income tax.
• Lower withholding taxes for fixed income earners.
• Implement development programs for marginal farmers, municipal fishers, indigenous people, urban poor, and labor.

4th - Restore Fiscal Health and Keep Economic House in Order

• Appoint an experienced, competent, and credible economic management team.
• Lead by example: Implement genuine austerity measures starting with the OP and Executive Branch.
• Renew tax administration and collection improvement campaign.
• Pursue computerization.
• Implement lateral attrition law.
• Plug leakages in tax collection.
• Prosecute high-profile tax-evaders and smugglers through “Run After Tax Evaders” (RATE) campaign relentlessly.
• Subject all government officials to lifestyle checks.
• Formulate a new debt management policy emphasizing write-off of odious debts through creative negotiations/debt swaps.

5th - Lay the Basis for Sustained Reform

• Appoint competent, trustworthy and reform-oriented personalities and sectoral leaders to key government posts.
• Establish institutional mechanisms (e.g., expanded LEDAC and DBCC) to allow sectoral, business and civil society leaders and groups to participate meaningfully in government decision-making.
• Prepare for orderly, peaceful, and meaningful elections.
• Prosecute Kilosbayan case vs. COMELEC commissioners filed with the Ombudsman immediately.
• Revamp COMELEC and appoint competent, honest, and non-partisan commissioners.
• Clean up voters’ lists.
• Begin automation/modernization of electoral process.
• Investigate wiretapping and 2004 presidential election cheating, including involvement of military.
• Declare commitment to charter change through a Constitutional Convention.

The Black & White Movement's 8 Point Reform Agenda

A Post-GMA Government with Meaningful Reforms - The Basics

•Transitional leadership for service and unity.

•Eight urgent tasks for meaningful change.

•Citizen involvement in good governance.

Transitional Leadership for Service & Unity

•Constitutional successor with a deadline
• Presidential & Vice Presidential Elections in 2007
• Reform Agenda
• Council of Advisers

Eight Urgent Tasks for Meaningful Reform

1st - Electoral Reforms

•No credible elections without electoral reforms.
•Needed: New COMELEC commissioners who are competent and fair like former Chairs Monsod, Yorac, and Demetriou.
•Needed: Modern and transparent systems with meaningful citizen participation in voter registration, vote casting, counting, and canvassing.
•Needed: Truth Commission on electoral fraud.

2nd - Reforms in the Justice System

•Move judicial processes faster, with greater transparency and accessibility to all citizens.
•Enhance alternative dispute settlement and develop paralegal systems.
•Strengthen Court of Tax Appeals and the Office of the Ombudsman.
•Set up special courts for settling business disputes.
•Ensure adequate independent budget.

3rd - Financial & Economic Reforms

•Restore government revenues to 1990s level in proportion to national income.
• Run after tax cheats (esp. the one who owes P25 Billion).
• Collect proper income taxes from businesses, doctors, lawyers, entertainers, and others.
• Legislate and collect higher sin taxes.
•Exercise fiscal restraint.
•Reduce debt by creative non-arbitrary means.
•Ensure a level playing field and curb rent-seeking.

4th - Pro-Poor Reform Programs

•Marginal farmers: agrarian reform and sustainable agriculture.
•Municipal fishers: marine sanctuaries and coastal delineation.
•Indigenous peoples: ancestral domain.
•Urban poor: socialized housing.
•Labor: job generation and fair wages.

5th - Peace Efforts

•Stop discredited purely military tactics that have not worked and will not work; they just create new enemies for our system.
•Step up negotiations with MILF, NDF-CPP-NPA, RPMP-PRA, and RPMM-RPA.
•Respect peace agreements.

6th - Environmental Concerns

•Clean air.
•Coastal, riverine, and lagoonal resource management.
•Forest protection and reforestation.
•Soil fertility.
•Solid waste management.

7th - Bureaucratic & Military Reforms

•Uphold transparency, accountability, citizen participation, responsiveness, efficiency, and predictability as key elements of good governance.
•Use competence, integrity, and commitment to good governance as basic values in setting criteria for recruitment and promotion.
•Restore promotions and rewards systems in AFP and PNP.
•Develop effective strategies for defeating state enemies, preventing the rise of international terrorism in the country, and winning the peace.

8th - Constitutional Reforms

•“Cha cha pag wala na si Gloria.”
•“Con Con dapat, huwag con ass.”

•More acceptable, more participatory.
•Con Con delegates to represent districts and interests (party list groups).
•Opportunity to reunite the country if every citizen and idea has an equal chance through open campaigns, fair elections, transparent convention discussions, active media coverage, and an honest plebiscite.

Citizens’ Involvement in Good Governance

•Good governance requires not only responsive officials but also active citizens.
•Governance is too important to be left to the bureaucrats; politics is too vital to be left to the politicians.
•We get the government we deserve.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Citizens’ Congress for Truth and Accountability Concept Paper


Rationale

The brazen killing of the impeachment proceedings in Congress has denied the public the chance to know the truth and demand accountability of the President for the various crimes and misdemeanors for which she is being accused. Instead of resolving the political crisis, the dismissal of the complaint on technical grounds has only aggravated the situation.

This failure of the Constitutional process has reinforced the need for an alternative venue to present, examine and perpetuate the body of evidence against the President and determine her accountability as well as that of other public officials.

It is for this reason that the Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan has initiated the creation of a Citizens’ Congress for Truth and Accountability (Citizens’ Congress or CCTA for brevity). The amended impeachment complaint was turned over by the House Impeachment Team on September 6 after the administration-dominated Congress voted down the impeachment of Mrs. Arroyo. Bukluran has created a Steering Committee which came up with the proposal and laid the ground for the convening of a Citizens’ Congress.

General Concept

The Citizens’ Congress aims to be a venue for the presentation and examination of the cases and pieces of evidence against the President on charges that she violated the Constitution, betrayed the public trust, and engaged in bribery, graft and corruption. Aside from hearing the said cases and evidences, the Citizens’ Congress will come up with findings and conclusions.

The Citizens’ Congress derives its legal basis from Art. XIII Sec. 15 of the Constitution, which provides:

“The State shall respect the role of independent people’s organizations to
enable the people to pursue and protect, within the democratic framework their legitimate and collective interests and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means.”

The amended impeachment complaint will serve as the foundation for the
Citizens’ Congress’ work. This involves specific acts of electoral fraud including the controversial ‘Hello Garci tape’ and the use of government funds for election, cases of bribery, graft and corruption and mounting political repression and massive human rights violations. Other issues may be added as deemed necessary.

The Citizens' Congress will be composed of about 400 delegates coming from various sectors of society. The convenors of the Congress shall be composed of individuals known for their integrity and credibility. The set of presiding officers or presidium shall be composed of personalities known for their competence, probity and fairness. A team of lawyer-delegates shall serve as the presentor and will help the delegates and the presidium examine the cases and evidences. A Congress secretariat will be formed to provide administrative and technical assistance.

The Citizens’ Congress will adopt its own set of Rules of procedure guiding its sessions and public hearings.

The Citizens’ Congress will hold its sessions 3-4 hours a day, the first set of hearings will be held on November 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 9:00 am to 1:00 p.m.

The Citizens’ Congress will gather, sift through and weigh the evidences with the help of select members of the House impeachment team and private lawyers who will serve as lawyer-delegates. It shall invite witnesses to give their testimonies under oath.

The Congress’ findings and recommendations will be presented to the public and in particular to religious institutions like the CBCP, AMRSP. NCCP, PCEC, the media, schools, public institutions like Congress and the Office of the Ombudsman as well as appropriate international bodies.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Letter to Vice President Noli de Castro



25 October 2005


Hon. Noli de Castro
Vice-President of the Philippines


Dear Vice-President de Castro:

We, the Black and White Movement, firmly believe, based on the revelations from the Garci tapes and the political developments that followed, that GMA cheated. It’s as clear as black and white to us, and to 80% of the Filipino people, according to recent surveys.

We also believe that in spite of the overwhelming consensus among our people that she cheated, many are reluctant to participate because of some key questions left unanswered. What is the alternative? Who will replace GMA? What post-GMA program do we offer?

We decided it was time to answer these hard questions.

Last Saturday, October 22, 2005, leaders of organized groups from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao gathered to build a consensus on our desired post-GMA leadership, immediate reform agenda, and action plans and programs to pursue our agenda.

After a full day of intense deliberations, we agreed on an 8-point reform agenda and the actionable points with this reform framework within the first 100 days. We also reached a consensus that you, as Vice-President, are the most viable and certainly capable successor to GMA. Like you, we are committed to adhere to the succession mode provided for in the Constitution.

It is in this spirit that we implore you to lead us in implementing our reform agenda. May we request a dialogue with you at your earliest convenience?

Respectfully yours,

Vicente Romano III
On behalf of the Convenors of Black and White Movement

Monday, October 24, 2005

Crossing Mendiola

October 19, 2005

BLACK & WHITE CROSSES MENDIOLA BRIDGE


THE members of Black & White Movement, together with the Hyatt 10 and other concerned citizens, today exercised their freedom of conscience and their right to peaceably assemble, and pray for the good of our country.

We gathered together to demonstrate that Malacanang is not the enclave of a particular administration, but instead, belongs to the people. We gathered together because any and all like-minded groups have a Constitutionally-protected right to express themselves, and invoke the Almighty for His divine protection of their cause.

Without a rally permit, the Black & White Movement challenged and overcame the CPR policy of GMA by crossing Mendiola, stopping at the Chino Roces monument for a flower-laying ceremony before proceeding to the San Beda chapel to seek divine intervention from our current political crisis.

It was clearly a moral victory for a precedent-setting active, non-violent form of protest. Henceforth, all other groups planning to organize peaceful assemblies or passage through Mendiola can claim the rule of precedence to challenge the phalanx of anti-riot forces preventing them from exercising their freedom of expression and assembly.

We continue to pray, as the entire country prays, for a peaceful resolution of the crisis of legitimacy afflicting our country. We continue to hope that the President will find enlightenment and make the supreme sacrifice for the nation. But even as we hope and pray, we shall continue to mobilize to demonstrate that concrete action is called for, so long as the will of the people is ignored, and their attempts to manifest their collective voices are thwarted.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Water Cannons

REPRESSION has now become overt oppression. The Black & White Movement joins a country aghast and appalled over the panicky and brutal treatment accorded by the Philippine National Police to our fellow citizens peaceably assembled in a prayer assembly and procession yesterday. In a democracy with a free society, water cannon shouldn’t be the antidote to peaceful pilgrims making a prayerful journey, without banners or flags, from plaza Miranda to churches in the nation’s capital.

The Black & White Movement considers former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, Jr., former governor Oscar Orbos, Senator Jamby Madrigal, Fr. Robert Reyes, and Rep. Satur Ocampo, and all those who bore the brunt of the apparent lack of command and control on the part of the police. Atty. Orbos put it best, when he told media the gathering was not about supporting a partisan political agenda: it was about undertaking a test, to see if the Philippines remains a country that guarantees its citizens their rights.

The country, the President, and the confused, water cannon-happy troops at her command, failed the test. The test was failed, because the President, from the time the “Hello Garci” scandal broke out, has continuously, consistently, and unashamedly, failed every moral test of her integrity, and every political test of the sincerity of her leadership, and the authenticity of her mandate. Every second of every day she remains in possession of Malacanang is a continuing failure: for just as she has failed to produce Virgilio Garcillano, and indeed, has turned a blind eye to efforts to bring him to justice, so has she failed every opportunity to be answerable to her country and people.

The Black & White Movement believes that time has only served to emphasize the fact, that the country is headed for more repression, more oppression, and inevitable tyrrany, so long as Mrs. Arroyo refuses to listen to the clamor of her people for change. As a nation said to her father in 1965, so must we say again in 2005: “Alis Diyan!”

Friday, October 14, 2005

Espying Emergency Rule

Espying Emergency Rule

By Antonio C. Abaya

Written Oct. 11, 2005

For the Standard Today,

October 13 issue



The espionage scandal involving two Filipinos (Leandro Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino) in the US and three so far unnamed Filipino politicians here (most likely Joseph Estrada and Panfilo Lacson, and a third still indeterminate one) may be the cause celebre that will compel the Arroyo Government to declare emergency rule, short of martial law.



Let me explain.



ABC News called it the first case of spying in the White House. Which has led to back-slapping and self-congratulations from the usual parochial types about ang galing talaga ng Pinoy!



The only reason why Leandro Aragoncillo was able to do his snooping, undetected, even in the White House, is because he is a native of a pre-industrial country that is, additionally, not belligerent – on the contrary, habitually obsequious - towards the US, and was therefore not the least bit suspected of harboring any motivation to snoop around in its most secret chambers.



The Americans would never have placed a Japanese-born American citizen in the White House in 1941 even as US cryptographers were breaking the Japanese naval and diplomatic codes. Nor would they place a Japanese-born American in the White House even now, 64 years after Pearl Harbor, because Japan remains an economic and technological rival even though it is a geopolitical ally.



Would the British have placed a German-born British subject in the inner sanctum of the Admiralty while their cryptographers were unraveling the secrets of the German Enigma encoding/decoding machine? Of course not. Perhaps a Gurkha or a Fijian, to empty the ash trays or sweep the floor, but not a German, even for that. You get my drift.



According to the Oct. 7 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aragoncillo worked in the White House from 1999 to 2001 and was assigned to the Vice-President’s Office. That means he worked under, first, Al Gore, then (from January 2001) under Dick Cheney.



There is no information (so far) on where Aragoncillo was assigned between leaving the White House in 2001 (month unstated) and joining the FBI in July 2004. But in March 2005, when Michael Ray Aquino – former lieutenant of Panfilo Lacson in the PNP – was arrested for a visa violation, it was Aragoncillo, already with the FBI, who interceded for him. This suggests a connection between the two (and three, if you count Lacson) long before March 2005.



Erap has also admitted that Aquino was his godson, most likely in Aquino’s marriage, when Lacson, Aquino’s boss, was a major player in the Erap government and was being groomed by the power brokers (Mark Jimenez, Jinggoy Estrada and the Chinese Mafia) to be Erap’s successor in 2004.



The four major dramatis personae in this drama were/are clearly linked to each other: Aragoncillo, Aquino, Erap, Lacson.



Erap first met Aragoncillo in 1999 when he made a state visit to Washington DC and Aragoncillo was a staff member of the Clinton White House. Since then, Aragoncillo made 15 trips to the Philippines from 2000 to June 2005.



It is my belief, though I have no proof, that it was Lacson, not Erap, whom Aragoncillo met with mostly, during his 15 visits to Manila. For one thing, Erap had been deposed in January 2001 and was no longer a significant player.



For another, Erap has a superficial personality. With Erap, what you see is what you get, which is not much. It is Lacson who has a complex personality: wily, manipulative, secretive, inscrutably poker-faced, basically amoral, able to operate simultaneously at several levels, comfortable working in the darkest shadows. All the ideal personality traits of a master spy. And terribly ambitious.



It is my belief, though again I have no proof, that when Lacson went to Washington DC in December 2000, he established contact with Erap’s friend Aragoncillo, at that time ensconced in the Vice-President’s Office in the White House, in transit between Al Gore and Dick Cheney. This initial contact would explain why Aragoncillo subsequently made so many trips (14) to the Philippines, even after Erap had been removed from power.



When questioned by media on the purpose of his December 2000 trip to Washington, Lacson gave different reasons: to visit his family, to receive an award from an industrial security organization, to ask the US Congress for a $26 million grant for his recently established PNP Foundation. (See my article “PNP: Ping Next President,” Dec. 12, 2000, and subsequent articles, all archived in www.tapatt.org).



Each of these three reasons may have been valid, but the real reason, it turned out, was his apparent attempt to sell himself to the Americans as a fast-track (meaning, by coup d’etat) alternative to both the sinking Erap and the rising Gloria Arroyo. His proposal was supposedly turned down.



What has all this got to do with all the current speculation about an impending declaration of emergency rule short of martial law, supposedly contained in Executive Order No. 467? Plenty.



The revelation in American media (CNN, ABC News, the New York Times, and the Washington Post) that Aragoncillo stole secret documents not only from the FBI but also from Dick Cheney’s office in the White House ratchets up the fall-out from this scandal.



Dick Cheney is the leading figure in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the neo-conservative grouping founded in 1997 that has hijacked US foreign, defense and domestic security policies ever since George W. Bush (and Cheney) moved to the White House in January 2001. (See my article “Uncle Dick and the PNAC,” Sept. 07, 2004.)



Among the priorities of the PNAC, as stated in its policy recommendations of September 2000, one year before 9/11, are: establish full military control of the Middle East, encourage regime change in Beijing, increase US forces in Southeast Asia.



I have mentioned this several times in this space, but let me repeat it here: By withdrawing the tiny Philippine contingent from Iraq, by signing an oil exploration joint agreement with Beijing, and by failing to move decisively against the Jamaah Islamiyah in Mindanao, President Arroyo has unwittingly undermined, however tangentially, those three PNAC priorities, and they want her out.



ABC News has been quoted by the Inquirer that “officials say the classified material, which Aragoncillo stole from the Vice-President’s office, included damaging dossiers on the President of the Philippines. He then passed those on to opposition politicians planning a coup in the Pacific nation….”



How damaging? Probably more damaging than those he stole from the FBI database. After all, the FBI snoops are only bureaucrats performing their bureaucratic functions. Cheney and the PNAC that he heads dictate policy and would have more detailed information on anyone whom they want to see removed from office.



How damaging? Possibly details about the dollar deposits, real estate holdings and other assets of husband and wife in the US, and possibly details about his and her (separate) sexual peccadilloes. I cannot imagine anything more damaging than this. All of which may tumble out into the open when the indictments against Aquino are made public soon.



In anticipation of the public uproar that will greet these revelations, the Arroyo government is deliberately sending signals that suggest an impending declaration of emergency rule, short of martial law, to stifle dissent, discourage demos, etc.



The proffered justification is the high price of oil and the need to protect the public from its consequences by government take-over of strategic industries, including oil, power, communications and transportation companies.



But this is a non-sequitur. The price of oil in the world market has been dropping from $69 to $62 per barrel in the past three weeks. Even finance secretary Gary Teves has registered his dissenting opinion that “it is difficult to imagine how a government suffering from fiscal problems would be able to run those (power) firms without aggravating its (own) budget difficulties.” (Inquirer, Oct. 12.) I would not be surprised if the credible and straight-talking Gary Teves is fired or is forced to resign soon.



It is also possible that Lacson already has those damaging dossiers stolen by Aragoncillo from Dick Cheney’s office, but was/is biding his time to make them public until he is ready with his own grab for power, which would be distinct and separate from Binay’s and Morales’ silly Solidarity “caretaker (revolutionary) council” that seeks to restore Erap to the presidency. The Americans may have unwittingly upset Lacson’s plans, but it does not necessarily mean that they are solicitous about GMA’s future either. *****



Reactions to acabaya@zpdee.net or fax 824-7642. Other articles in www.tapatt.org.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Palace Pressured Marcelo to Drop cases vs. GMA Allies

Palace pressured Marcelo to drop cases vs GMA allies
By Gerry Baldo
Friday, 10 07, 2005
Tribune

He couldn't take much more of the pressure from Malacañang amid increasing corruption charges and the unconstitutional methods being utilized by President Arroyo that he saw was destroying the democratic institutions.

This was the reason given by sources close to Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo for his sudden resignation, which, however, takes effect at the end of November.

Marcelo himself claimed that his resignation stemmed from health
problems, but the same sources said the Ombudsman resigned because he had reached the point where he had to draw the line between his legitimate function as an Ombudsman tasked to investigate and elevate corruption cases to the Sandiganbayan, as well as adhere to the letter of the law and continue to remain loyal to President Arroyo by ignoring what he had been taught in law school.

The last straw reportedly came about after a shouting match ensued between his former law partner and now Defense Chief Avelino "Nonong" Cruz and himself, over Executive Order 464 and alleged orders from President Arroyo for the Ombudsman to quash the cases filed against former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez on the $2 million dollar bribe from then Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez, a.k.a. Mario Crespo, among other cases Marcelo was working on, such as the military officials who have been charged or are about to be charged with plunder.

Insiders in the Ombudsman's office told the Tribune yesterday that Marcelo was also under pressure from the HongKong anti-corruption consultant, Tony Kwok and the international community, such as European Union officials who have plunked in funds for his anti-corruption drive, to start filing cases against Perez as well as other administration personalities for the country's anti-corruption drive to have a greater impact.

Palace sources, however also told the Tribune that the President didn't want Perez, who is also the subject of the Swiss authorities for alleged money laundering activities, touched, fearing that her former justice secretary may just get back at her if he is charged by the Ombudsman, even on graft and corruption. The Palace insiders added that "other deals" would surface which would link former President Fidel Ramos, whom Mrs. Arroyo appears to be protecting, in exchange for his political support.

The sources also pointed out that Marcelo quit because he could no longer swallow what the Arroyo administration wants him to do which is for him to forget about his office's investigation on the alleged pay off in the Impsa (Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anomina), the Argentine firm that rehabilitated the Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) power plant complex in Laguna.

The source from the Ombudsman's office maintained that the Office of the Ombudsman had found prima facie evidence to merit the filing of formal charges against people involved in the scam including Perez and other prominent political figures.

Marcelo, other sources said, was being pestered by calls from the Defense Secretary to pressure the Ombudsman to quash the case as well as prevent his officers from appearing before any Senate hearing in the event they are to be called to testify.

It was claimed that Marcelo refused to do as ordered by Mrs. Arroyo until a shouting match between him and Cruz ensued inside the Ombudsman's office.

"The Ombudsman refused to budge on the moves of Cruz until a shouting match ensued in his office," the source said.

Marcelo, two years ago, said his office would investigate the case "motu propio" even without a complaint filed by Jimenez.

The results of the investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman reportedly showed that money changed hands between Impsa and Philippine government officials in connection with the approval of the contract to rehabilitate the CBK power plant complex in Laguna.

Jimenez in a privilege speech in December 2002 accused Perez of having extorted $2 million from him to exclude him as a co-accused in the plunder case against detained President Joseph Estrada.

The $2 million was later found to have been part of an alleged $14 million bribe for high ranking officials who had grabbed power from Estrada, in exchange for a sovereign guarantee. That guarantee was given on the second day of office of President Arroyo, or four days after the Edsa II coup d'etat.

The Impsa contract was turned down by then President Estrada on the ground of its being disadvantageous to the government.

Sources from the Napocor said Impsa's proposal to rehabilitate the CBK power plant complex in Laguna was uncalled for, as the plant did not need rehabilitation.

Napocor was also reported to have paid Impsa more than $50 million for the first 18 months of its operation, even if the Argentine firm had so far invested only $9 million to rehabilitate the plant.

Documents showed that Coutts Bank Hongkong transactions had deposited $2 million in the account of private banker and the President's fund raiser, Ernest Escaler, and withdrawn a few days later. The funds were later traced to a Swiss bank account, along with a power of attorney assigned by Perez to his wife.

Perez also admitted he was indeed in Hong Kong on Feb. 23, 2001 when the alleged "extortion money" was remitted to the Coutts Bank in Hong Kong.

Perez, however, said he was there to sign the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement with the Hong Kong government.

To this day however, that agreement remains unsigned.

The source said Marcelo refused to stop the filing of formal charges against Perez despite frequent calls from Cruz that he drop the case. That along with the President's call for Marcelo to heed the EO, a separate source said, was the last straw.

According to the source, Mrs. Arroyo, it seems was wrong in appointing Marcelo who had inhibited himself from investigations and resolutions that involved Mrs. Arroyo's allies.

Marcelo was also about to approve the filing of formal charges against Perez after an investigation found prima facie evidence against the former justice secretary that he had benefited from a power plant deal entered into by the government.

The source said Malacañang was bent on sweeping the case under the rug because the First Gentleman would be implicated in the criminal case.

(From the Tribune, Manila, Philippines, Oct 7, 2005)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Military Demoralization

Military Demoralization
By Antonio C. Abaya
Written Oct. 04, 2005
For the Standard Today,
October 06 issue
 
The most prominent military dissenters since the Marcos era were, of course, the members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, or RAM, under high-profile leaders like then Col. Gringo Honasan, Red Kapunan, Tito Legaspi and Rex Robles.
 
Though there was no doubt that that they were motivated by idealism and the desire to reform, not just the armed forces, but Philippine society as a whole, their nobility of purpose was somewhat compromised by their logistical and financial needs which were met by well-heeled non-military personages whose personal political ambitions injected a mercenary element into their enterprises.
 
In the August 1987 attempted coup by the RAM against President Aquino, it was then defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile who was meant to be the main beneficiary and was most likely also the financier. If the coup had succeeded, Enrile would have been installed as head of a military civilian junta, according to plan, and, later, as duly elected president of the republic.
 
In the December 1989 attempted coup, again against President Aquino and also led by RAM, the principal backers were suspected to be business tycoon Danding Cojuangco and a gaggle of Makati businessmen and opposition politicians. Cojuangco, who was in exile abroad with the Marcoses, sneaked back into the country through the backdoor, from Sabah to his farm in Davao in a light plane, without going through immigration formalities…..just two or three weeks before the putsch. The Aquino Government, so terrified of the president’s cousin, could not even gather enough nerve to book him for illegal entry, which he clearly was guilty of. Onli in da Pilipins.
 
In the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, apparently inspired by the mutineers’ Kuya, Gringo, after the RAM had splintered into quarreling factions, the tactical goal was to install the deposed president Joseph Estrada to the presidency for at least three days. Enough time for Erap to unilaterally clear himself of the plunder charges pending against him, after which a military civilian junta would take over, presumably with Kuya as head of state.
 
It does not take much brains to conclude that Erap was paying for his deliverance, especially after one of his mistresses and one of his cronies were found to have been involved in the logistics. His organizers, Ronald Lumbao and Boy Morales, were also ready with a rent-a-mob equipped with ready-made posters and streamers announcing a People Power happening but were dispersed by police before they could yell “Ibagsak!”
 
In the present political crisis, there are speculations about how the military will position itself. But like Philippine society at large, the Philippine military are also disunited. It can be assumed that the top brass, all appointees of President Arroyo, will remain loyal to her under almost any circumstances..
 
It can also be assumed that there are mercenary elements who are for sale to the highest bidders. I understand the bidding starts at P100 million for a strike force of 15,000 officers and men. As far as I can tell, no deal has been struck. Perhaps the trapos are still trying to bring the price down.
 
In this piece, however, I am more concerned with the idealistic elements of the armed forces who are genuinely alarmed about the future of this country. For the past three months or so, I understand from a retired captain, my articles have been circulated among the officer corps, especially among graduates of the Philippine Military Academy and/or West Point. As a consequence, I have received statements and comments from several majors, lieutenant colonels and full colonels, mostly in active service.
 
I can personally confirm that there is demoralization among the idealistic elements of the military. But I do not know how they compare in numbers and troop strength with the mercenaries being courted by the trapos or with the top brass co-opted by President Arroyo. I asked one of my correspondents how many other officers thought like him. His reply floored me: 50% of the officer corps, he said. But that could be an exaggeration.
 
It was the late Capt. (Ret.) Rene Jarque who was one of the most articulate ex-military persons to voice his discontent. Before his untimely death at age 40 from cardiac arrest in Jakarta, where he was working in the corporate world, Rene had sent me copies of his speeches and articles.
 
In my article “Military Dilemma” (July 19, 2005), I quoted excerpts from his speech before, of all organizations, the Philippine Constitution Association, in which he advocated that the military play a “constructive role” in a situation where the government is unstable and democratic institutions exist but are not strong. In such a theoretical situation, which looks more and more like the present, he sees the military intervening as a deterrent to bad government, but not taking over the state apparatus.
 
If I read Jarque’s mind correctly, he wanted the idealistic elements in the military to intervene if and when the civilian government is unable to provide good governance, but not to take over the state completely. Presumably Jarque wanted a civilian revolutionary or transition government to take over, but supported by the idealistic elements of the military. Which is also my view and that of many other concerned Filipinos.
 
In the Reaction portion of the above article, I included Jarque’s call to the Corps of Cadets of the PMA, from where he had graduated in 1986, to “help awaken the generals who have been oblivious to the calls for honor and honest conduct,” reminding his audience of the Academy’s Honor Code, and the Academy’s motto of “Courage, Integrity, Loyalty.”
 
But Capt. Jarque was not alone. I have the permission of Army Col. Ricardo C. Morales  to mention his name and to quote excerpts from his paper “Transforming the AFP,” parts of which had been published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer more than six months ago.
 
Col. Morales commands a brigade of Marines in Davao made up of five battalions or 3,000 men. He is a PMA graduate, class of 1977, and holds a master’s degree in national security from an Australian institution.. He is on leave right now preparatory to leaving  the military permanently.
 
While his “Transformation” paper, 12 pages long and drafted in September 2003, deals mainly with internal military matters, his comments about what ails the Philippine military bear repeating:
 
“Even the most optimistic apologists will have to concede after the July 27 (2003) Oakwood mutiny that the AFP is suffering from a deep-seated and long term affliction. In the previous mutinies (in 1987 and 1989), the leaders of this incident were still schoolboys. Nothing substantial has been done during the interval about reforms despite public pronouncements by the AFP leadership and the government….
… Only the blind and the prejudiced will deny the dismal situation in the defense
establishment. The Oakwood incident is only one outward sign of a fundamental and long running flaw within the AFP. These flaws have been gnawing away at the foundations of the AFP and, if left uncorrected, will certainly result in a sudden and catastrophic collapse.
 
“…The AFP is quickly making itself one of the most resented sectors of Filipino society today. Not only has it been ineffective against the local insurgencies, it is also becoming a burden and a threat to society…”
 
What ails the AFP? “The dismal state of the AFP is due to the debilitating culture within the organization that has emerged because of the absence of a defeat experience. Deprived of this stimulus, the AFP has developed what Festinger identified as ‘cognitive dissonance.’…a discrepancy between perception and reality…
 
“…Defeat in the hands of Napoleon compelled the Prussian reformers – Clausewitz, von Stettin, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau – to re-examine and discard Frederick the Great’s outmoded methods and establish the tradition of military excellence that Germany has since been known for ..Germany’s defeat during two world wars does not diminish the fact of its military excellence that remains to this day….”
 
“Incompetence and corruption are the by-products of the AFP’s culture of cognitive dissonance. If the AFP wants to totally eliminate internal restiveness, it must get rid of this flawed culture. Eliminating corruption and incompetence alone is insufficient…..”
 
In a letter to Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, dated May 23, 2005, Col. Morales laments that “the men and women of the AFP have lived the nightmare of insurgency for all their active service. Still we see no end to this national agony and face the ironic but real prospect of paying ‘revolutionary tax’ after retirement….
 
“Everything being done in today’s counter-insurgency campaign has been done before – SOT, strike operations, all-out offensives, negotiations, political accommodation, economic assistance – still the insurgencies show no signs of abetting and are, in truth, quietly gathering strength.Under these conditions, foreign investors will continue to shun the Philippines. Our economic take-off will never materialize. Worsening poverty will unravel our society and cause its collapse. The long-suffering Filipino people do not deserve this future. We in the AFP do not deserve this future….”
 
In a letter to another official, dated September 08, 2005, Col. Morales gives his reasons for wanting to leave the AFP. “Like the society it is supposed to defend, the AFP is severely decayed; it has lost its ability for self-correction and rejuvenation. Matindi at malalim ang kabulokan ngAFP. I know this from direct experience in the (Gen. Carlos F.) Garcia case. Were it not for the Jarius Bondoc expose, the AFP would not have investigated Caloy Garcia. Ganyan din mangyyayari sa election fraud case.
 
“I am leaving the Service because there is nothing more that I can do about it. My children will take up nursing or health care giver something because this will provide the man exit from this cursed society.
 
“I am leaving because neither the NPA nor the Moro rebels are in danger of winning. These two groups are so stricken by internal rivalry and material weakness (mga Filipino din!) that victory for them is only a dim possibility. But they can keep our society poor and growing poorer.
 
“I am leaving because there is no use fighting a war government does not intend to win…This political system has lost the ability for self-preservation and self-correction. It will make itself extinct.

“The AFP leadership must present a simple proposal to its political masters: end the war or sue for peace, but don’t waste our soldiers’ lives any longer. Give the soldiers something worth dying for, not this miserable excuse for a nation….”
 
                                                (To be continued)
         
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