Archive for the ‘ombudsman’ Category

A Golf Course Mauling And A Star-Crossed Appointment

December 29, 2008


A Christmas season mauling in a golf club courtesy of a powerful political family. That hugged the front pages and the blogs these previous days.

I say this incident is the most famous (or infamous) mauling incident in a long time. And thanks to the internet, individuals have a new means in voicing their opinions. Hopefully this is the start of a way of checking abuses of public officials on the personal level. I am lucid enough to realize that the Net is not yet a way of checking official corruption because it has to go through the “legal process” and in the Philippines that is almost synomymous to a whitewash especially with the current Ombudsman.

If the son of DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman was the one who led the mauling he should be suspended from his position, if he is indeed a municipal mayor. I think the provincial governor of Lanao del Sur has the right and duty to do so because disciplining mayors is part of the job of the governor. But knowing Lanao del Sur politics and culture I say that is not a simple matter. That will probably be taken by the Pangandamans as a slap in the face and in that land confrontations emanating from this kind readily jumps above the verbal kind.

I hope the incident is resolved through the vaunted “legal process” and not settled through an “apology” or “compensation”. For how will be teach public officials that they are also accountable like ordinary citizens and not above the law?

If Secretary Pangandaman has any delicadeza he should by now tender his resignation. But I thought delicadeza is a Spanish word and concept. I have yet to see if this concept is not alien to the DAR Secretary.

A grave lapse of judgment on his part, I say. I remember that when he was appointed to the Cabinet there were gasps of disbelief in Lanao. But to the credit of the Secretary, most will probably concede that by the standards of an Arroyo cabinet he probably did a decent job and he was able to avoid controversy unlike the other cabinet secretaries.

He was recently appointed as the chief peace adviser to the President regarding the stalled peace agreement with the MILF. I say he is probably qualified for that post because he is in a position to look at both sides of the divide and he probably has a realistic assessment of the Mindanao situation.

But he should not have accepted it. It seems he didn’t realize that persons appointed to that double-crossed process are always star-crossed. And next time he should be more careful in venturing out to a gulpe club.

On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It

December 16, 2008


When I tell younger people that it was much better 40 years ago, I usually draw raised eyebrows. Then I tell them that it might be broken in places but the system of checks and balances were still functioning then. That politicians can still be booted out of office because of perceived corruption. Not now.

Younger people no longer heard of line-item budgeting, a system destroyed by Marcos during martial law so he is free to divert (euphemistically called re-align) public funds as he sees fit. In line-item budgeting all items to be budgeted is given an amount by Congress and funds for it are identified. In this way no significant diversion of funds is possible, hence, corruption is also minimized. This was when Congress still held the full power of the purse. Not now. Everybody has to kowtow to Malacanang and Cory failed to realize the importance of re-setting it.

Now is it a wonder why all the congressmen act like running dogs of Malacanang? Mind you, the term tuta (running dog) has already disappeared from the vocabulary as if it was interred with Marcos. But I remember even at the worst time of his regime, he had still principled people around him who will not dip their fingers in the public till and he always had capable and competent people who are free to say no (but of course it is another matter if he will listen to their counsel). Now all I see around Malacanang are plain running mongrels. Even calling them dogs might be an insult to our loyal canine friends.

There were “commissions” (takes) during Marcos’ time. But if it was probably in the vicinity of 10-20% now it is probably in the realm of 30% or more. All the powers-that-be dips their hands in the projects, from the bureaucrats to the elected officials but it is the latter that are “grabe” (too much).

Corruption is escalating but protest against it is practically a whimper now. It seems we are simply too inure about it now or feeling too powerless to stop it. But at least, the silver lining, if it can be called such, is we have not yet reached sub-Saharan African level where more than 40% of the public funds disappear to only reappear later in European banks.

Where did this all began? Our public dealers (leaders kuno) should certainly be blamed. With a massive mandate all Cory understood was to restore “elite democracy” and its trappings (like the old Congress) and restore Marcos-seized oligarch properties (like Meralco) and reimburse those who were squeezed by Marcos like Joecon Concepcion (by funneling to them low-cost loans extended to us by other countries which was meant to jumpstart our post-Marcos economy).

Cory’s successors were also remiss in reigning in corruption. Ramos and de Venecia like pork barrel immensely so that they can buy off Congress. Making Congress their running dog was the greatest “legacy” of Ramos. And his second-greatest “legacy” is appointing an Ombudsman which will simply cover their tracts.

Arroyo, the protege of Ramos and de Venecia, certainly learned well this “statecraft” and even did one better than them. The protege got too good that she had the temeriry to dump her mentors once the mentors started signalling “sobra na” (too much already).

Erap was content with jueteng money and that’s according to him. But like the others he also cannot say no to friends. But at least he can say no to relatives.

Sometimes I wish the First Quarter Storm will come again. But rules of assembly are different now. And if the youth then had the feeling that they have to set aright their home country now the feeling is to get the necessary degree and experience needed in the least time so they can work abroad. Anyway there is always the Popovism to lull the people that the Philippines is a “great” country as if we are a “blessed” country and people to begin with. And so the circus goes round and round and round.

Bless Henry Sy! He makes us forget our problems with his malls. Who said the best things in life is not free? (Just look at Malacanang and the congressmen).

(Image credit:Wikimedia)

The Goalkeeper and Sweeper of Malacanang

November 20, 2008



In soccer the task of the goalkeeper is to stop the opposing team from scoring goals, hence preventing them from scoring. Failure to score in soccer means the opposing team cannot win. A goalkeeper has many tools in his arsenal to keep the other side from winning. He can dive for the ball to secure it or block it with his body. Or he can punch or kick the ball out to prevent an attacking sequence. If needed, he will throw in his body just to keep the other side from scoring. Indeed, goalkeepers are heroic.

Of course, to make life easier for goalkeepers, other defenders will help in screening, blocking and tackling the attacking opponent. Probably the most important of defenders in soccer, apart from the goalkeeper, is the sweeper. In Italy, it is called the libero. The sweeper “sweeps up” the ball when the opponents breach the last line of defenders.

The word ombudsman is originally a Swedish word but it has already been integrated in the English lexicon. In its Nordic origins it is supposedly a government official tasked to investigate complaints of citizens against government officials and its functionaries.

In the Philippines, especially under the rule of Gloria and Mike Arroyo (the true meaning of “GMA”), the role of the ombudsman is the same as that of a soccer goalkeeper. That is, to prevent the people or the opposition from scoring “goals”. The Philippine “goalkeeper” has also “tools” like sitting on complaints, filing weak cases, throwing the complaints out or simply finding that there is a violation but there is no culprit. Of course, like a goalkeeper, a GMA “ombudsman” should be able to throw in everything to keep any cases from prospering.

In the current “match”, a new sweeper or libero was recently fielded by the team’s coach who happened to be a self-anointed sportsman. Though rusty from a two-year “forced suspension” he was immediately fielded into the fray after a two-week “conditioning program” at the SLMC. Having been pronounced physically fit by the SLMC, he is now assisting mightily the “goalkeeper” in preventing any goals. Indeed, right in the first play, he immediately showed his “defensive prowess” by sweeping the ball out while at the same time shouting “No scam, no scam!”.

Yes, how “heroic” indeed. From the corner of my eye I thought I saw his “coach” grin and nod to signify how well his favorite defender “performed”.