The mountain went to Mohammed

By REY O. ARCILLA
MALAYA

(After steadfastly standing her ground on the incursion by China in her territorial waters, Vietnam received in Hanoi Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi.)

Bong-Revilla-arrested.2Well, it finally happened…

The first lawmaker (lawbreaker?), senator Ramon Revilla, Jr., who allegedly committed, through the pork barrel scam, the heinous crime of plunder, a crime punishable by death until Ms. Gloria Arroyo had the death penalty abolished, is now in jail… well, what passes for a jail.

Already, Revilla has indicated he would like to have an air-cooler, while the other would-be jailbird, senator Jinggoy Estrada, said he would like to have cable TV in his cell. Otherwise, he said he would prefer to be under house arrest. Geeez! At least the nonagenarian senator Juan Ponce Enrile seems to be taking his pending incarceration in stride, although he has filed a petition for bail due to his age and frail health. No hospital arrest?

What is it with these people? Their alleged crime is a lot worse than those committed by many others. Yet, they are being treated differently, better, like they are VIPs (Very Important Prisoners!)

Look at that pork barrel queen Janet Napoles… she even has her own bungalow! And the government has to spend a huge amount of money every time she is brought to court or to the hospital. Is that part of the deal she struck when she surrendered to President Noynoy Aquino who even accompanied her to Camp Crame? Why couldn’t she be incarcerated there? Isn’t that a more secure place to be? These are questions that Noynoy’s bosses are asking, in case he doesn’t know.

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I can’t help remembering what a friend, Jun Bautista, commented on a column I wrote eleven months ago entitled “Abolish the Pork Barrel”.

Jun said: “Abolish the pork barrel?! Good luck Rey! But there is no harm dreaming!”

A month later, he wrote: “Hi Rey, we finally got our miracle. The pork had been abolished! It will probably be replaced by a new congressional Baka or milking cow.”

If we let our guard down Jun, I’m sure they’ll attempt to do that. And, of course, we all know that Noynoy has not even deigned to give up his pork barrel. In fact, he, together with his leech-like and rhinoceros-skinned budget secretary Florencio Abad, the alleged mentor of Janet Napoles, created another barrelful of pork in the form of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

A slice of the DAP was apportioned and given to the 20 or so senators who voted to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona, with each receiving from P50 million to P100 million!

If that isn’t bribery, I don’t know what is.

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But what happened to Revilla is just the beginning…

We still have to see the incarceration of Estrada, Ponce Enrile and others charged with plunder, including those who remain to be indicted by the Ombudsman, as well as those still to be charged.

Like it or not, we have to give some credit to Noynoy for this turn of event in our history. For, if it had been someone else in his position, I think chances are these alleged plunderers would still be merrily stealing the people blind.

What is sad, very sad, is that Noynoy chose not to go all the way by having his friends, political allies and government officials who have also been implicated in the pork barrel scam and other irregularities, investigated and prosecuted.

Sayang!!! Had he done so, his place in our history as the reformist president, indeed the greatest president ever, would be secure.

Too late? It is never too late. He still has two years left in his tenure. Enough time, I say, to hit the ground running, something he promised to do and should have done four years ago, to set in motion the reforms this country needs. He should go back to his daang matuwid and step on the accelerator like there is no tomorrow.

While he is at it, he should throw overboard, without hesitation, those cabinet members and other officials who have not come up to expectations and continue to give his administration a bad name. I do not have to mention their names. He knows who they are. It’s time to shed his attitude towards his KKKKKKs for the sake of his bosses. “Kayo ang boss ko!”, remember?

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Super Amboy Albert del Rosario, foreign secretary, strikes out again! (The bigger Amboy is, of course, Noynoy! He should also shed that attitude for the good of the country.)

When he heard that US Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel informally suggested a moratorium on activities by territorial claimant countries in the South China Sea, Del Rosario hastily picked it up!

No sooner had he publicly stated that he would take up the proposal at the next meeting of ASEAN than China shot it down. That was to be expected. And, as if to add insult to injury, China even scornfully told us to leave the areas we occupy in our Exclusive Economic Zone!

To begin with, one would think that Del Rosario realizes by now that any proposal for ASEAN to take a common stand on anything that would be against China’s position on the South China Sea dispute, like the Code of Conduct, is not likely to prosper. The presence of Cambodia alone, not to mention Laos and Myanmar, will see to that. Malaysia too, another claimant in the South China Sea, has explicitly stated that she will never jeopardize her relations with Beijing. Del Rosario keeps forgetting, or chooses to ignore, the fact that ASEAN decides by consensus.

When I, as DFA assistant secretary for ASEAN Affairs, suggested in 1989 to then Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus that we propose the crafting of an ASEAN Charter, uppermost in my mind was to get rid of the association’s decision-making rule by consensus. I believed then, as I believe now, that it has retarded to a great extent ASEAN’s effectiveness as a regional body.

And, precisely because of it, the consensus rule is now embodied in the ASEAN Charter. Pity!

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The mountain went to Mohammed…

After steadfastly standing her ground on the incursion by China in her territorial waters, Vietnam received in Hanoi Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi.

Yang had talks with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on the Chinese oil rig set up in Vietnamese-claimed territorial waters in the Paracels.

Although nothing concrete reportedly came out of the talks, the important thing is that the Chinese saw it fit to go and see the Vietnamese to discuss the matter.

Tayo? Sinabihan pa tayo ng “alis dyan!” Walang galang ang mga damuho!

Kasi…

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I have raised a number of times in this space the rising criminality in the country. The frequency of killings by tandem-bikers has reached alarming proportions. I have also cited the apparent failure of the designated (by Noynoy) crime czar, executive secretary Paquito Ochoa, to do his assigned task.

Now that Noynoy himself has raised the matter, his DILG secretary, the quintessential sidekick, Mar Roxas, readily echoed his master’s sentiments. But nothing at all was heard from Ochoa.

Sino ba talaga ang may hawak ng Philippine National Police (PNP)? Si Roxas ba o si Ochoa? There are rumors that Roxas doesn’t even talk to PNP chief Alan Purisima who is now under fire for building a P25 million “white house” inside Camp Crame.

Funnily, when the call was made for increased police presence in the streets, Purisima and his top brass were featured on TV and newspapers “modeling” the new police uniform. A coincidence perhaps, but police presence does not mean a change in the style and color of the policeman’s uniform.

Now that Noynoy himself has issued the directive to curb crime incidence in the country, let’s watch what happens, as his favorite Frank Sinatra song goes.

And, as usual, chief presidential spokesman Sonny Coloma brushed aside calls for the resignation of Ochoa, Roxas and Purisima for bungling their jobs, by saying that they continue to enjoy Noynoy’s full trust and confidence.

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The government’s folly of negotiating with only the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), to the exclusion of all other interested parties, has resulted in the rejection by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) of the agreement.

Reports quoted OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani as saying that the government and the MILF failed to incorporate the Tripoli (1976) and Jakarta (1997) agreements brokered by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by its founding chairman Nur Misuari. He then proposed a linkage of the government’s peace pacts with the MILF and the MNLF.

Madani reportedly added this was necessary because “all factions” of the MNLF opposed the CAB which does “not mention or build explicitly” on the Tripoli and Jakarta Agreements with the MNLF.

Without a doubt, OIC’s support for the CAB is essential for the peace accord to prosper. Back to the drawing board?

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Reminders (for Noynoy):

1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (NFA)

during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency. That was four long years ago.

2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and order his successor, Robert “Pretty Boy” Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former.

Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA’s findings that:

(a) He received the obscenely excessive compensation of P16.36 million in 2012 making him the highest paid government servant then, as well as how much he received in 2013; and

(b) That over a year ago, at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011.

COA also said at the time that the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have so far responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors. Of the 36, 27 confirmed “discrepancies” in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS.

There are three questions being raised when remittances, or parts thereof, of government agencies are not recorded by the GSIS on time: a) Where are these huge sums “parked” in the meantime?; b) Do they earn interest?; and c) To where (whom?) does the interest, if any, go?

Pray tell, Mr. Vergara, what is the present status of these funds, including those that may have been remitted since and not yet recorded by the GSIS?

I believe it is time for COA to follow up on what Vergara has done on the above findings so that affected GSIS members would know the status of their contributions!

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Today is the 59th day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

Eight weeks ago, Jonas’ mother, Edita, reminded Noynoy in a letter of his promise to conduct a “dedicated and exhaustive investigation” on her son’s enforced disappearance.

“Our hope was anchored on your promise to do what you could ‘on the basis of evidence’ when I personally pleaded for your help. This was almost four years ago, May 2010,” she wrote.

Mr. President, Sir?

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From an internet friend:

Confession:

Sinner: Bless me Father, for I have sinned. Last night, I killed a politician.

Priest: My son, I am here to listen to your sins, not your community service work.

******

24 June 2014

Email: roacrosshairs@outlook.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/reynaldo.arcilla.9847


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