“The worst form of corruption is the corruption of the best.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
A vicious pattern is becoming evident. First, a brazen act. Then blatant and shameless lies to cover up a criminal act.
It started with the Garci tapes and Bunye’s infamous “I have 2 CDs”. More recently, prior to the Lozada revelations, there was the Palace payola payoff scandal – the scam was to have Ulap and Kampi own up to giving out the money, thereby testing the limits of people’s credulity.
And now this – Palace officials suddenly fabricating a web of lies, in yet another attempt to suppress the truth and pervert justice.
It should be clear by now – the whole executive branch, as well as the Lower House, are determined to protect the interests of one family, and not of the Filipino people as they were sworn to do. Jun Lozada’s reminder is timely: “Ang Pilipino ay hindi iisang pamilya lang. Ang Pilipino ay isang bansa.”
But how have we, as a nation, come to this pass? It is because, we, the Filipino people, have tolerated it for so long with our silence. This has emboldened this administration to inflict upon us the same vicious cycle again and again, with each new round with more impunity.
One can argue that there are valid concerns – the impoverished are too busy putting food on the table, the middle class are busy applying for work abroad, the business sector worries about rocking an upbeat economy, the alternatives are not clear, etc. And so we settle for what we think is the lesser evil. But look at where this choice has brought us.
We call on our people. If you still cannot find it in your heart to declare your outrage publicly, can you at least join in praying for Jun Lozada and his family. President Cory Aquino and the La Salle Brothers will be celebrating mass at the La Salle Greenhills grounds on Sunday, Feb. 17, 10 am for that purpose – pray for Jun and his family?
Let us proclaim as one, “Sa Totoo Tayo!”
MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB: A CALL FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH
We salute Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada Jr. for overcoming his personal fear of the consequences of revealing what he knows about the scandal-ridden National Broadband Network project. He claims that his life was threatened, that he was enticed with assurances of his personal safety and promises of other considerations, and that he was abducted by persons belonging to the state security apparatus. Mr. Lozada chose to walk away from the "dark side"—the lies and cover-up regarding the NBN project being peddled by persons connected to this Administration.
If he had been a lesser person, he could have continued to acquiesce and cower in the dark. But having come into the light, he has become a credible witness to the truth. Now that he is being unjustly maligned by government officials and by senators identified with the Administration in their continuing effort to suppress the truth, we express our support for Mr. Lozada and let him know, "Hindi ka nag-iisa!"
We call on DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza and CHED Chairman Romulo Neri to save themselves from further shame by resigning from their positions in government for their respective roles in the attempt to prevent Mr. Lozada from testifying on the ZTE deal at the Senate. Their protection at any cost of the interests of those in power render them unworthy of the people’s trust.
We support the Senate’s continued pursuit of the truth behind the NBN project. We must see to it that those who are revealed to have broken the law, no matter how high up, must be made to account for their transgressions. The long-term political stability and economic prosperity of our country will only be possible if we have leaders with integrity, and institutions that protect and uphold the public trust.
As business people, we cannot console ourselves in the strength of the peso and the mirage of inequitable growth. These are ephemeral gains that have not translated into a better life for most Filipinos. What is being compromised is the moral fabric of our society. It is not a question of legal guilt; instead, it is a matter of good old-fashioned delicadeza and personal morality.
We call on all Filipinos to proclaim,
"Tama na ang kasinungalingan! Sobra na ang kasakiman! Manindigan na, Bayan!"
MAP STATEMENT ON GOOD GOVERNANCE
The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) stands for good governance in all sectors of society, particularly in the government and the business sector. MAP has chosen “Country Above Self” for its theme for the past three consecutive years to emphasize the importance of patriotism in all our actions.
We are now compelled to speak out in the face of the frequency of corruption cases and scandals that have been growing in scope and intensity, to wit: the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam, the General Garcia case, the Jose Pidal scandal, the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, the North and South Rail projects, the Hello Garci tape, the reported shameless distribution of cash gifts in Malacanang Palace, the questionable procurement of DepEd textbooks, DND helicopters and BOC x-ray machines, the COMELEC MegaPacific computer deal, and now the scandalously overpriced NBN ZTE deal.
That these cases can happen in a bureaucracy that is supposedly protected and sometimes immobilized by an elaborate set of checks and balances indicates a serious breakdown in public governance, marked by either inability to execute or the outright unwillingness to perform what is expected of leaders and managers. The obvious consequences of this breakdown are the wide-scale wastage of scarce resources, the deterioration in the quality of public service, and the creeping apathy among public servants who initially try to do well but are eventually demoralized by the glaring contradictions in their leaders’ behavior.
Corruption in public service is anti-poor. The public money that goes to private pockets could have otherwise been used to build schoolhouses, buy textbooks, and train the teachers of our public schools. They could have built hospitals and bought much needed medicines for the indigent patients. They could have upgraded the salaries and built homes for our soldiers, policemen, teachers, and government employees.
If corruption cases happened under our watch in our corporations, what would we do? As business leaders and managers, we would immediately order an impartial and thorough investigation, fire all those involved, and offer to resign for having failed in our duty to protect our company’s assets and reputation.
Are we to tolerate a lesser standard for those who manage the affairs of government? Should the ethics of governance be less for government executives? Should not the same culture of compliance, transparency and accountability be embraced by our leaders in government? If there are no differences at all in the yardsticks by which government and private managers are measured, should not the leaders under whose watch all these shameless scandals occur offer to resign now?
If the President’s men involved in abuse of authority and alleged anomalies refuse to heed the call for their resignation, should they not be removed from office by the President herself? If the President fails to act, can we conclude that she is either tolerating grave wrongdoings or is not in control? In either case, under the principle of command responsibility, would it be time for all of us to join in asking the President to step down?
We fully support Jun Lozada in his fight against corruption and trust that the Administration will provide him the protection he deserves and will command the government forces to cease the acts of harassment which he is currently experiencing.
We call on the Administration to rise above their personal self-interests and put “Country Above Self” by encouraging Secretary Romy Neri and providing him with the appropriate protection to appear before the Senate and to reveal all he knows to fully shed light on the ZTE issue.
We call on the military and the police to support the people and the Constitution, and not allow themselves to be used by those who continually violate the oath of public office and betray the people’s trust for their personal aggrandizement.
We call on all religious leaders to finally speak out in thunderous language and condemn the moral degradation of our government bureaucracy, and we unequivocally join the Catholic bishops' call for “communal action” to regain our moral compass and, with it, our nation's dignity and self-respect.
The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men and women to do nothing.
ACTION FOR ECONOMIC REFORMS (AER): GMA RESIGN NOW!
”He was on good terms with the authorities, agile, flexible, and even audacious when it came to speculating with other people's property. He was the only rival, and a frightening one at that, of a man named Pérez when it came to rents and auctions of merchandise or jobs that the Philippine Government entrusts to private individuals.” - Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere, Chapter 6: Captain Tiago (Harold Augenbraum Translation)
Criminal justice will come, but now is the time to take political action. The testimony of Rodolfo Lozada, Jr., made under oath before the Senate, gives us the moral certainty to condemn the massive corruption in the ZTE-NBN deal. With the suggestion that a similar anomaly most likely attended the South Rail project, along with other previous scandals, the ZTE-NBN is not an isolated case of unbridled corruption.
And at what scale! For the ordinary Filipino families, 50% of whom earn a meager income of less than Php 300 per day, the kickback amounting to US$130 million-which Lozada said "Commission" Chairman Benjamin Abalos asked him to protect-is mind boggling.
Very revolting, too, was the abduction of Mr. Lozada abduction, upon the order of Malacañang. Here is an instance in which the Palace micromanaged, and mangled, a kidnapping to silence a whistleblower.
What was plunder by a colonial government in Rizal's time is now plunder by a Mafia occupying Malacañang. The first family is the capo di tutti capi, the boss of all bosses. The Macapagal-Arroyo family has turned the Philippine government into a mafia family, with Cabinet men, congressmen, and other functionaries as their mob lieutenants. We have state capture not by the elite but by a Filipino mafia headed by the first family.
The Philippines is not lacking in laws and institutions against corruption and plunder. The 1987 Constitution devotes an entire article of 18 sections (Article XI) to provisions on accountability of public officers. The Revised Penal Code punishes malfeasance and misfeasance in office of public officers, including bribery, frauds against the public treasury, and malversation of public funds. The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, expands the punishable corrupt practices even further. Republic Act 7080 defines and penalizes the crime of plunder. We have a powerful Office of the Ombudsman, with the duty to investigate and prosecute illegal acts or omissions by public officers and employees. We also have a special court, the Sandiganbayan, with jurisdiction to try high-ranking public officials for graft and corruption. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) has created the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission to investigate and hear administrative cases and complaints against erring Presidential Appointees, and to assist the President in the campaign against graft and corruption.
Much effort has been undertaken to address chronic corruption. Multilateral and bilateral donors, economists and policy analysts, and non-government organizations have studied the problem and proposed anti-corruption strategies and programs. The measures adopted have been comprehensive and deep. These include regulatory reforms, agency-level reforms and capacity building, judicial reforms, changes in the procurement law, strengthening of the anti-corruption lead agencies, and introduction of various anti-corruption activities such as lifestyle checks and values formation.
Despite all this, what is missing is the simplest answer to the problem: Fighting corruption is a question of leadership.
Since the leadership itself is brazenly engaged in plunder, corruption remains unabated. Under the leadership of a non-corrupt president, anti-corruption programs and institutions will be effective. Under a corrupt presidency, the same programs and institutions only become a protective veil for corruption itself. GMA's public reaction to the testimony of Lozada is instructive. She was reported to have ordered the Department of Justice to investigate Lozada's testimony. The Justice Secretary was quick to dismiss Lozada's testimony as part of a "drama."
The plunder exemplified by the ZTE-NBN deal goes all the way up to GMA. In the testimony of Joey de Venecia, GMA's husband, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, was a central figure in securing the kickback. The candid, credible and detailed testimony of Jun Lozada, in relation to his abduction and the overpricing of the ZTE-NBN contract points to Malacañang as the culprit. It is crystal clear that the buck does not stop at Mike Arroyo. His influence is crucial not because of his own accord, but of whom he represents: the exercise of the power and prerogatives of the highest executive of the land.
GMA is using her vast powers and resources of the State to scuttle the Senate investigation: The issuance of the unconstitutional Executive Order 464 that prevents Cabinet officials from appearing in Senate inquiries, the invocation of executive privilege in the testimony of former NEDA Director General Romulo Neri on the question of GMA's approval of the corrupt ZTE-NBN deal, and the abduction of Lozada to prevent him from testifying.
With GMA's repeated betrayal of the public trust, she has no right to sit as President a minute longer. All other officials involved in the ZTE-NBN deal, including Secretary Romy Neri, DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and members of the NEDA-ICC must step down from their government posts. The officials involved in the abduction of Jun Lozada and its cover-up in the media, such as PNP Chief Avelino Razon, Secretary Lito Atienza and DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno, must likewise step down.
We must expunge the Philippine Mafia.
JOINT STATEMENT OF KILOSBAYAN, BANTAY KATARUNGAN AND BANTAYOG NG MGA BAYANI: A TIME FOR COURAGE
Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk/danger, uncertainty, or intimidation in the face of physical pain, hardship, or threat of death (physical courage); or in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement (moral courage).
In recent days the country has been witness to a refreshing demonstration of courage from Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada, Jr. and the religious who are providing him safe haven and comfort. Despite the grave risks before him, and with an army of guardian angels by his side, Lozada forthrightly admitted to wrongdoing while recounting the perfidies of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos and their minions.
Truth has, for a long time now, been in short supply from the government. Yet, amidst the daily diet of lies that the people have been subjected to by its governors, truth shone like a bright ray of hope that could not be bent by even the most devious political characters the country has had to endure. The real truth, despite the Herculean efforts to hide or mask it, broke through for the Filipino to see.
Courage is sometimes frail as hope is frail, striving and faith is the only strength it knows. But as Aristotle said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” It is the virtue that makes all other virtues possible. Lozada, who has had an epiphany, is showing us the way to break free.
Kilosbayan is advocating that courage and truth become the standard by which all Filipinos live. It is the passport to freedom – from apathy, backwardness, betrayal, corruption, greed, hopelessness, ignorance, inequality, injustice, insincerity, lies, plunder, poverty, repression and selfishness.
If we are to be a strong and upright nation, we should first be the change we want our country to be. Struggling for true change starts with self despite the risks to life, limb and livelihood. We must live the truth and do whatever is right to justify our existence and honor the sacrifices of our heroes and martyrs.
We must rectify our shortcomings in our great battle for national renewal in order to have a country worth living for.
Specifically, we urge the prompt prosecution of persons, in and out of government, who are culpable or who may have committed illegal acts based on the relevant documentary evidence and on the transcripts we have obtained from the Senate.
On account of her perceived partiality in favor of President GMA and her subordinates or appointees, the present Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez, should inhibit herself for the sake of credibility and the institution she represents.
Bantay Katarungan is willing and able to give free legal assistance to Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada, Jr. should he desire to avail of such assistance.