Archive for the ‘senate’ Category

Who bears the shame in the senate investigation of WB corruption scandal?

February 15, 2009

If it is true that World Bank (WB) has no proof against Jose Miguel Arroyo (husband of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo) and others implicated in the rigging of WB-funded projects what next should the senate do? With the charges of corruption coming from no less than a foreign lending institution (whose reputation is undoubtedly better than the Philippine government,) Sen. Miriam D, Santiago must listen to what WB is trying to say: “If there is smoke, then there could be fire.”

Why then doesn’t she—the Senate Economic Affairs Committee chairman ascertain if the house is indeed on fire? Is Santiago trying to hide something? A known ally of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo, is she trying to protect someone under her wings—perhaps Jose Miguel?

Instead of waging a “diplomatic protest,” an investigation is more productive to do. Besides, what is the country protesting for? The WB has already given away a favor. Aren’t the solons ashamed of being defensive? Instead of being shooting down the bad news, it’s more productive to ascertain the charges. There is no valid justification for a cover-up, a low-road exercise in dealing with this common problem.

The gutsy lady senator who is supposedly sane must not waste time. Her insistence that there is no evidence in the WB report (without investigating) distracts people from the vital issues of the controversy. As a government official, Miriam must be truthful. She must take the initiative of purging the country from corrupt practices—something which is doable if she follows the leads WB has so far disclosed.

Based on the bank report, it’s now the turn of the government to investigate and get to the bottom of the case. If the WB doesn’t have the evidence, this is the right time to seek and find. The public must not be misled into thinking that the rigging of contracts has not happened. It’s not at good idea to perpetuate the cynicism of the Filipinos, harass the WB, and pretend the country doesn’t need a lender.

Miriam has to do more digging. Whether there is corruption or not, the burden of proof lies in her turf. As chairman of the inquiry, she needs to bring the investigation to a credible conclusion to convince the world who is telling the truth, thereby freeing innocent people of the stigma of dishonesty.

Santiago’s high-handed display of power looks amateurish and blasé. It’s embarrassing the self-absorbed senator and her admirers wring the arms of foreign bank officials who care less if Filipinos are corrupt. She persistently waves around her intelligence—an ego-trip, a deluded peacock awareness of self, a condescending habit of demeaning people in public which are all counterproductive. To illustrate, here is her comments on Sen. Panfilo Lacson who correctly points out the lack of focus on the investigation:

“Di naman siya abugado, gusto niyang turuan ako. Di magandang ugali ‘yung tuturuan mo ang chairperson mo sa gagawin, lalo na kung wala ka namang background sa batas [He’s not even a lawyer and yet he wants to outsmart me. He’s not supposed to dictate to his chairperson on what to do, especially because he does not even have any background in law],” Santiago said.—GMANewsTV.net (02/15/09, Dedace, S)

Obviously, it’s the whole town’s interest that Miriam’s bloated sense of erudition simmers below the fight against corruption. Regardless of the cost and the damage on the people involved, she must work (in spite of her misgivings for not being admitted in the International Court of Justice) to banish any suggestion of bias and defensiveness. Without this, shame on us Filipinos will continue to mount. =0=

RELATED BLOG: “World Bank opens a can of worms & Sen. Miriam D. Santiago investigates” Posted by mesiamd at 2/13/2009

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Who bears the shame in the senate investigation of WB corruption scandal?

February 15, 2009

If it is true that World Bank (WB) has no proof against Jose Miguel Arroyo (husband of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo) and others implicated in the rigging of WB-funded projects what next should the senate do? With the charges of corruption coming from no less than a foreign lending institution (whose reputation is undoubtedly better than the Philippine government,) Sen. Miriam D, Santiago must listen to what WB is trying to say: “If there is smoke, then there could be fire.”

Why then doesn’t she—the Senate Economic Affairs Committee chairman ascertain if the house is indeed on fire? Is Santiago trying to hide something? A known ally of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo, is she trying to protect someone under her wings—perhaps Jose Miguel?

Instead of waging a “diplomatic protest,” an investigation is more productive to do. Besides, what is the country protesting for? The WB has already given away a favor. Aren’t the solons ashamed of being defensive? Instead of being shooting down the bad news, it’s more productive to ascertain the charges. There is no valid justification for a cover-up, a low-road exercise in dealing with this common problem.

The gutsy lady senator who is supposedly sane must not waste time. Her insistence that there is no evidence in the WB report (without investigating) distracts people from the vital issues of the controversy. As a government official, Miriam must be truthful. She must take the initiative of purging the country from corrupt practices—something which is doable if she follows the leads WB has so far disclosed.

Based on the bank report, it’s now the turn of the government to investigate and get to the bottom of the case. If the WB doesn’t have the evidence, this is the right time to seek and find. The public must not be misled into thinking that the rigging of contracts has not happened. It’s not at good idea to perpetuate the cynicism of the Filipinos, harass the WB, and pretend the country doesn’t need a lender.

Miriam has to do more digging. Whether there is corruption or not, the burden of proof lies in her turf. As chairman of the inquiry, she needs to bring the investigation to a credible conclusion to convince the world who is telling the truth, thereby freeing innocent people of the stigma of dishonesty.

Santiago’s high-handed display of power looks amateurish and blasé. It’s embarrassing the self-absorbed senator and her admirers wring the arms of foreign bank officials who care less if Filipinos are corrupt. She persistently waves around her intelligence—an ego-trip, a deluded peacock awareness of self, a condescending habit of demeaning people in public which are all counterproductive. To illustrate, here is her comments on Sen. Panfilo Lacson who correctly points out the lack of focus on the investigation:

“Di naman siya abugado, gusto niyang turuan ako. Di magandang ugali ‘yung tuturuan mo ang chairperson mo sa gagawin, lalo na kung wala ka namang background sa batas [He’s not even a lawyer and yet he wants to outsmart me. He’s not supposed to dictate to his chairperson on what to do, especially because he does not even have any background in law],” Santiago said.—GMANewsTV.net (02/15/09, Dedace, S)

Obviously, it’s the whole town’s interest that Miriam’s bloated sense of erudition simmers below the fight against corruption. Regardless of the cost and the damage on the people involved, she must work (in spite of her misgivings for not being admitted in the International Court of Justice) to banish any suggestion of bias and defensiveness. Without this, shame on us Filipinos will continue to mount. =0=

RELATED BLOG: “World Bank opens a can of worms & Sen. Miriam D. Santiago investigates” Posted by mesiamd at 2/13/2009

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The promise and uncertainty of the $787 billion stimulus package for the US economy

February 15, 2009

The economic stimulus package of the Obama administration has finally passed the scrutiny of the US senate. It only needs the signature of the president on Tuesday, February 17, 2008, to make it into law. Lacking bipartisan support, the Democrats in the senate and congress overwhelmingly voted for the $787 billion package touted to bring back the US economy on track. The Republicans and their conservative supporters disagree.

The astronomical dollar tag on US recovery doesn’t assure that it will succeed. Amidst a crisis of confidence, there are Americans who are alarmed. Critics of the legislation doubt whether the plan will deliver on its promises. Without much basis to back their trust, majority of Americans rest their hope on Pres. Barack Obama to fix the economy. Supporters are optimistic, in fact, overly optimistic.

“The legislation, among the costliest ever considered in Congress, provides billions of dollars to aid victims of the recession through unemployment benefits, food stamps, medical care, job retraining and more. Tens of billions are ticketed for the states to offset cuts they might otherwise have to make in aid to schools and local governments, and there is more than $48 billion for transportation projects such as road and bridge construction, mass transit and high-speed rail.”— Yahoo.News/AP (02/14/09, Espo, D)

There is a growing belief that no one buys its way from a recession. It is scary to pump in such huge money which puts taxpayers’ money on line. More borrowing and spending won’t easily bring back the trust on Wall Street which reneged on its fiduciary duty. There is doubt on those who warn of worse consequences if the public doesn’t rally behind the stimulus plan that nobody fully understands. Many don’t know why the American people are asked to spend for social services of illegal aliens, bail out banks, auto industry, and every ailing business in the country.

Obviously rushed to approve the bill, almost all congressmen (246 vs. 183) and senators (60 vs. 38) didn’t have time to read the legislation which is about a thousand pages long. It is expected the more the public comes to understand the details of the bill, the more people will disapprove. Many are dissatisfied with government officials (the spoiled and extravagant leaders,) from both the Republican and Democratic parties, who negligently brought the people into this economic mess. Those who are hurting wait for the day that the guilty must be held accountable.

There is a cautionary voice out there saying the economic downturn is unlikely to be reversed by this ambitious government rescue plan. Neither will prosperity come by giving away dole-outs to the poor, jacking-up government spending, giving perks to illegal aliens, distributing wealth, and raising the tax burden of workers and entrepreneurs. This seems to be affirmed by Pres. Obama who welcomes the bill’s passage but cautions the whole world that it’s just the start of an economic remedy whose success isn’t assured. There is a big chance that if this money splurge doesn’t work, additional funding will be asked for more massive spending.

Instead of the bloated stimulus spending with a budgeted cost of $787 billion to revitalize the US economy, conservatives have proposed a leaner spending. Unlike the democrats who dominate the Capitol Hill, Republicans assert that the recovery rests on tax cuts, smaller government, less interference with private money, and a return to traditional entrepreneurship and business ethics.

Though it’s early to tell what will be the outcome of the changes promised by Obama, there those who are silently angry and fearful. There are tell-tale signs that one can see with trepidation. Americans are used to live in gilded cocoons on productive fields that they can control. Now they are forced to face uncertainty. The big depression that they haven’t experienced with the rest of the world looms real in the horizon. (Photo Credit: Londa Elle; almostnomad; worsebrain)=0=

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The promise and uncertainty of the $787 billion stimulus package for the US economy

February 15, 2009

The economic stimulus package of the Obama administration has finally passed the scrutiny of the US senate. It only needs the signature of the president on Tuesday, February 17, 2008, to make it into law. Lacking bipartisan support, the Democrats in the senate and congress overwhelmingly voted for the $787 billion package touted to bring back the US economy on track. The Republicans and their conservative supporters disagree.

The astronomical dollar tag on US recovery doesn’t assure that it will succeed. Amidst a crisis of confidence, there are Americans who are alarmed. Critics of the legislation doubt whether the plan will deliver on its promises. Without much basis to back their trust, majority of Americans rest their hope on Pres. Barack Obama to fix the economy. Supporters are optimistic, in fact, overly optimistic.

“The legislation, among the costliest ever considered in Congress, provides billions of dollars to aid victims of the recession through unemployment benefits, food stamps, medical care, job retraining and more. Tens of billions are ticketed for the states to offset cuts they might otherwise have to make in aid to schools and local governments, and there is more than $48 billion for transportation projects such as road and bridge construction, mass transit and high-speed rail.”— Yahoo.News/AP (02/14/09, Espo, D)

There is a growing belief that no one buys its way from a recession. It is scary to pump in such huge money which puts taxpayers’ money on line. More borrowing and spending won’t easily bring back the trust on Wall Street which reneged on its fiduciary duty. There is doubt on those who warn of worse consequences if the public doesn’t rally behind the stimulus plan that nobody fully understands. Many don’t know why the American people are asked to spend for social services of illegal aliens, bail out banks, auto industry, and every ailing business in the country.

Obviously rushed to approve the bill, almost all congressmen (246 vs. 183) and senators (60 vs. 38) didn’t have time to read the legislation which is about a thousand pages long. It is expected the more the public comes to understand the details of the bill, the more people will disapprove. Many are dissatisfied with government officials (the spoiled and extravagant leaders,) from both the Republican and Democratic parties, who negligently brought the people into this economic mess. Those who are hurting wait for the day that the guilty must be held accountable.

There is a cautionary voice out there saying the economic downturn is unlikely to be reversed by this ambitious government rescue plan. Neither will prosperity come by giving away dole-outs to the poor, jacking-up government spending, giving perks to illegal aliens, distributing wealth, and raising the tax burden of workers and entrepreneurs. This seems to be affirmed by Pres. Obama who welcomes the bill’s passage but cautions the whole world that it’s just the start of an economic remedy whose success isn’t assured. There is a big chance that if this money splurge doesn’t work, additional funding will be asked for more massive spending.

Instead of the bloated stimulus spending with a budgeted cost of $787 billion to revitalize the US economy, conservatives have proposed a leaner spending. Unlike the democrats who dominate the Capitol Hill, Republicans assert that the recovery rests on tax cuts, smaller government, less interference with private money, and a return to traditional entrepreneurship and business ethics.

Though it’s early to tell what will be the outcome of the changes promised by Obama, there those who are silently angry and fearful. There are tell-tale signs that one can see with trepidation. Americans are used to live in gilded cocoons on productive fields that they can control. Now they are forced to face uncertainty. The big depression that they haven’t experienced with the rest of the world looms real in the horizon. (Photo Credit: Londa Elle; almostnomad; worsebrain)=0=

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World Bank opens a can of worms & Sen. Miriam D. Santiago investigates

February 13, 2009

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is hotly agitated by the World Bank (WB) scandal. The corruption charges by the international lending body implicate Jose Miguel Arroyo, the palace’s “first gentleman” and husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo. The accusations of unlawful transactions inflame the pompous side of the flighty woman-senator who acts like a straight and unbending arrow.

Santiago has displayed irritation over the non-appearance of WB representative Bert Hofman in the January 27, 2008 senate hearing in which he is expected to clarify the allegations against government officials, influence peddlers, and road contractors. With the characteristic loquacious bravado that the lady-lawmaker is known for, Santiago blared:

““Mr. Hofman must come here in person or else we will cite him for contempt. Let this cause trouble (between the WB and the Senate) that would even lead to the Supreme Court or even the International Court of Justice. This is good because we will be able to test who between the World Bank and the Filipinos are the kings here.” —-Philstar (02/13/09, Calica, A)

Sen. Santiago’s incendiary words don’t fail to befuddle observers who think her thunderous tirades are nothing but another episode of “entertainment” in the corruption-riddled government. She effectively distracts the public from the sordid corruption charge in the WB-funded projects which has been “institutionalized” for at least a decade. While she seems urgently intent to pursue truth and punish wrong-doers in her ranks, many believe all the fury will die down before anyone will ever be proven accountable. She focuses wrongly on the messenger of bad news—the WB, instead of the rapacious perpetrators of the crime.

From whichever angle people look at the Santiago, her demeanor is a source of both pride and dishonor. She poses as a feisty defender of truth ready to uphold the dignity of the nation, something rarely seen in the slow-mo senate. But there are those who question her truthfulness and motive. From past experience, it is unlikely her noisy declarations will ever amount to anything beyond the exercise of words. At a time when the world suspects how deeply the country is mired in dishonesty, Santiago won’t probably go farther than mere investigations.

Even as the controversy goes on, Finance secretary Margarito Teves is already banking on the WB to increase its lending to the Philippines to a tune of $1 billion for the next few years. Keeping a warlike stance (instead of being conciliatory) is distracting. Sen. Santiago brushes aside the reality that the foreign bank isn’t obligated to humor the Philippines so that it can enjoy the “honor” of granting loans to the country. As a government official representing the country, there are those who think she is rude and crude—a loose cannon who blames the foreign bank for its “incomplete” disclosure, effectively deflecting the issue from the real crime.

It is said the leads pointing to fraud in the WB-financed project biddings have been passed on to Filipino authorities as early as 2007, but it’s only now (after the lid of corruption was blown open) that they see the urgency of investigating. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has been criticized and threatened with dismissal for negligently sitting on the case.

The World Bank has already provided vital information to work on. Many wonder the aptness of the senate demanding more information from the foreign entity without the Philippines taking exhaustive effort to gather truth from its own backyard. As if to lamely cover up for glaring shortcomings and the embarrassments which go with incompetence and hypocrisy, Santiago’s blistering words have been set into play for the public to guess and digest. (Photo Credit: Neofinoy.info; ButchokoyD; Arenamontanus) =0=

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World Bank opens a can of worms & Sen. Miriam D. Santiago investigates

February 13, 2009

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is hotly agitated by the World Bank (WB) scandal. The corruption charges by the international lending body implicate Jose Miguel Arroyo, the palace’s “first gentleman” and husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo. The accusations of unlawful transactions inflame the pompous side of the flighty woman-senator who acts like a straight and unbending arrow.

Santiago has displayed irritation over the non-appearance of WB representative Bert Hofman in the January 27, 2008 senate hearing in which he is expected to clarify the allegations against government officials, influence peddlers, and road contractors. With the characteristic loquacious bravado that the lady-lawmaker is known for, Santiago blared:

““Mr. Hofman must come here in person or else we will cite him for contempt. Let this cause trouble (between the WB and the Senate) that would even lead to the Supreme Court or even the International Court of Justice. This is good because we will be able to test who between the World Bank and the Filipinos are the kings here.” —-Philstar (02/13/09, Calica, A)

Sen. Santiago’s incendiary words don’t fail to befuddle observers who think her thunderous tirades are nothing but another episode of “entertainment” in the corruption-riddled government. She effectively distracts the public from the sordid corruption charge in the WB-funded projects which has been “institutionalized” for at least a decade. While she seems urgently intent to pursue truth and punish wrong-doers in her ranks, many believe all the fury will die down before anyone will ever be proven accountable. She focuses wrongly on the messenger of bad news—the WB, instead of the rapacious perpetrators of the crime.

From whichever angle people look at the Santiago, her demeanor is a source of both pride and dishonor. She poses as a feisty defender of truth ready to uphold the dignity of the nation, something rarely seen in the slow-mo senate. But there are those who question her truthfulness and motive. From past experience, it is unlikely her noisy declarations will ever amount to anything beyond the exercise of words. At a time when the world suspects how deeply the country is mired in dishonesty, Santiago won’t probably go farther than mere investigations.

Even as the controversy goes on, Finance secretary Margarito Teves is already banking on the WB to increase its lending to the Philippines to a tune of $1 billion for the next few years. Keeping a warlike stance (instead of being conciliatory) is distracting. Sen. Santiago brushes aside the reality that the foreign bank isn’t obligated to humor the Philippines so that it can enjoy the “honor” of granting loans to the country. As a government official representing the country, there are those who think she is rude and crude—a loose cannon who blames the foreign bank for its “incomplete” disclosure, effectively deflecting the issue from the real crime.

It is said the leads pointing to fraud in the WB-financed project biddings have been passed on to Filipino authorities as early as 2007, but it’s only now (after the lid of corruption was blown open) that they see the urgency of investigating. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has been criticized and threatened with dismissal for negligently sitting on the case.

The World Bank has already provided vital information to work on. Many wonder the aptness of the senate demanding more information from the foreign entity without the Philippines taking exhaustive effort to gather truth from its own backyard. As if to lamely cover up for glaring shortcomings and the embarrassments which go with incompetence and hypocrisy, Santiago’s blistering words have been set into play for the public to guess and digest. (Photo Credit: Neofinoy.info; ButchokoyD; Arenamontanus) =0=

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Caroline Kennedy backs out from New York US Senate race

January 22, 2009

Time’s article on Caroline Kennedy (The Quest for Camelot II) was somewhat prophetic when the author Karen Tumulty ended her piece in the magazine’s January 12 issue saying “The Kennedy name was Caroline’s birthright, but it may be that a seat to the US Senate is something she has to earn on her own.” Tumulty’s opinion was based on the observation that Caroline, the only survivor of Pres. John F. Kennedy’s children “doesn’t appear to have given much thought to what she would try to accomplish once in office.”

Before NY governor David Patterson could decide who’d take the junior senatorial seat vacated by Sen. Hillary Clinton, Caroline pulled the plug of her candidacy. She couldn’t continue her bid for the position on account of “personal reasons”— This possibly includes Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy, her uncle, who suffered brain cancer-related seizure during the Obama inauguration celebration. Ironically, it was Ted who liked her to assume the post and carry the family’s political flame.

The pressure on families with loved ones suffering from life-threatening medical condition is incalculable and therefore Caroline has the reason to withdraw. But political decisions are usually made on account of other considerations. It’s probable the sheltered Kennedy heiress understood the demands of the job. With little experience than the other candidates, she could have known the truth of what she said before— She needed to work “doubly-hard” to represent New York in Washington. Undoubtedly strong in political influence, perhaps, her supporters and Gov. Patterson knew this all along. (Photo Credit: http://Arnow.com)=0=

RELATED BLOG:: “Caroline Kennedy & Sarah Palin: a “class” difference in media treatment?” Posted by mesiamd at 1/10/2009

UPDATE: There are speculations as to the cause of Caroline Kennedy’s sudden withdrawal from her bid to become a junior NY senator. Vetting issues which involve tax, nanny, and marital problems have been reported in TV and newspapers.

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Caroline Kennedy & Sarah Palin: a “class” difference in media treatment?

January 10, 2009

As the day NY Gov. David A. Patterson will pick Sen. Hillary Clinton’s replacement draws near, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the well-connected and wealthy contender for the senate post stands as the most influential.

It’s Caroline Kennedy, who else?

By name recognition alone, the only surviving daughter of Pres. John F. Kennedy carries her impeccable familial history, her friendship with incoming President Barack Obama, and strong connections to those in Capitol Hill. Having lived a sheltered life with little experience in public service, these are Caroline’s major assets. That’s why before she appeared for interview on television last month, her supporters scrambled to project her as qualified. Yes, but how qualified is she in comparison with the other candidates? She has been a successful mom with a law degree from Columbia. She has taken the post of president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, has been a member of the JFK Profile in Courage Award Committee, serves as director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and vice-chairwoman of NYC’s Fund for Public Schools. Are these enough to get her the senate post?

The public seemed unimpressed with Caroline. She didn’t have the glow of the Kennedy the American people expected to see in her. She wasn’t compelling enough to make the public feel she could be the right senate representative for the regular New Yorkers. When interviewed, Caroline appeared less attached to the position she desired; her projected “fund of knowledge” and manner of speech (including that bothersome “you know” habit) seemed worse than what Gov. Sarah Palin was criticized for in her failed bid as a Republican VP candidate in the last election.

Bias, Double Standard & Media Malpractice

If media treatment had been fair between Caroline and Sarah, the former could have been scrutinized and made fun of more than the latter. From questions about her private life as a Kennedy to the comical exploitation of her limitations as a person the jesters in a late-night TV comedy would have wanted them laid in the open. Arrogant humor at Kennedy’s expense—something equal or greater than what Sarah endured with condescending CBS anchor Katie Couric and comedienne Tina Fey who got an award for her Palin impersonations.

Perhaps because of “class” difference and hypocrisy, the mainstream media have been kind to urbane Caroline, but not so to rural Sarah. Like the precious gem from the Camelot jewel box, the New York lady incites awe and nobody talks against her perceived high carats in the political scene. Sarah is quick to notice. Americans have been anxious to see whether the Kennedy heiress will grab the senate position on basic merits or by the magic of the her name.

“I’ve been interested to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she will be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope…It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out.”—-Gov. Sarah Palin (Source: CBS News 01/9/08, Conroy, S); YahooNews (01/09/09, Gromley, M)

With Caroline as a comparison, Sarah was right in raising the questions of media bias and exploitation which misled and undermined public trust. She recalled how she was unfairly vetted, trivialized, vilified, and insulted by the liberal media. At one point, because of her conservative views, even her motherhood was questioned. The warped media insinuated her disabled innocent Trig afflicted with Trisomy 21 (Mongolism) wasn’t her son she steadfastly rescued from abortion. Her eldest daughter’s pregnancy was played out as salacious gossip item in media circuits. The liberal media dug into her privacy with rapacity unparalleled with what they did with other candidates.

Sarah Palin was correct in pointing double standard by news organizations which “respected Barack Obama’s declaration that his family was off-limits for coverage”— The courtesy wasn’t accorded her, yet now generously given to Caroline. It’s hard to imagine that this disdainful journalistic disparity has happened in USA, but it’s true. Anyone can look and judge for oneself what goes on out there. (Photo Credits: byphoto240779; rhilton4u)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Caroline Kennedy eyes Hillary Clinton’s post as NY senator” Posted by mesiamd at 12/16/2008

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Caroline Kennedy eyes Hillary Clinton’s post as NY senator

December 16, 2008

Hillary Clinton is about to leave as New York senator. She will become the secretary of state in the new Barack Obama administration. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg has expressed interest on the 2-year job which needed to be filled by NY governor David Paterson.

It may be partly because of the family from where she comes from. She is an accomplished lawyer. Political connections definitely help as much as her admirable qualifications. In gist, these are reasons why Caroline is favorably considered for the post.

Not so many know Caroline in-depth as she aspires for a new role in the political scene. She is the only surviving child of Pres. Jack and Jackie Kennedy, the sister of John Kennedy, Jr. whose memory captivates the minds of many Americans. She is the niece of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy and ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy.

A well-known democrat from an influential political clan, the 50-year old Kennedy is said to be a hard-driven mom of three with a Columbia U law degree on her sleeve. Among her accomplishments include being the president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and member of the JFK Profile in Courage Award Committee. She serves as the director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and vice-chairwoman of NYC’s Fund for Public Schools.

Whether Caroline’s qualifications are enough to make her the best candidate for the post is subject to debate. There are those who believe some politicians are better prepared for the job. Others worry if her wealthy upbringing may stand on the way in her public service. With her connections, it is very likely though that she’ll get the job. (Photo Credit: http://arnow.org) =0=

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For 45,000 Euros, a Fabulous Watch for a Fabulous Filipino in the "Euro Generals Scandal"

November 15, 2008

I laughed away my incredulity when Tyrone Ng Arejola, 35, a rich friend of retired Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Gen. Eliseo de la Paz testified in the senate hearing on the “Euro General Scandal.” Arejola explained that of the 105,000 euros (6.9 million pesos) confiscated by Russian authorities from Gen. de la Paz last month, 45,000 euros was his. The high-flying wealthy Filipino businessman with unusual liking for gem time pieces said the money was his payment for a watch worth P2.9 million to be bought in Europe— something Filipinos (myself included) find incredible.

I’m bewildered by Arejola’s exquisite interest for jewelry watches. As a long-time resident in America, it’s the first time I hear of such fabulous chronometers like “Roger Dubuis Bi Retro” or an “IWC Portuguese Chronowatch,” the time pieces Arejola loves.

I live close to the jewelry district of New York and I have often walked passed jewelry watches on glass displays. In the last 20 years, I never owned a wristwatch or dream of owning one. But I understand its necessiy—not the costly time pieces which one needs to cover with an insurance or guard against theft with dear life. For checking time, I only rely on my simple cell phone which works just as well.

My ignorance about luxury time pieces is magnified knowing I learn about them from kababayans in Manila who’re at the center of a hideous money-laundering scandal. Life can really be paradoxical sometimes, says my doctor-friend-colleague who learned about Arejola who lives in affluence within a society beset with grinding poverty.

Arejola, an avowed “born-again Christian” like de la Paz, can possibly afford such expensive European watches whose names twist my tongue. Yet, I wonder why he asked the PNP officer to illegally carry his money in a foreign travel to pay for them. It’s the 21st century. Why can’t he use modernity’s regular perks like a money transfer, a credit card, or a bank remittance?

(Noveau?) rich Filipinos like Arejola make me forget the country is poor. At that price of 45,000 euros, the watch is surely tops at the end of the price scale. Who can fault humility and hubris coming together? It’s the same thought that may have crossed Sen. Manuel Roxas’ mind when he directed his quizzical comment to Arejola in the senate meeting:

So 45,000 euros…Parang ang bigat suotin po nyan eh. Parang bahay na po yan. Yung akin Timex ah, $30. Personal na pera niyo yan kaya wala akong masabi (That would be quite heavy to wear. That’s like a house. My watch is a Timex, worth $30. In any case, that’s your personal money so I cannot say much),” Inquirer, (11/15/08, Kwok, A)

A question to ask Gen. de la Paz: “How can you, a law officer put your integrity in line and that of the country by agreeing to be a courier of Arejola’s money?”

In accordance to the law, every traveler has to declare money beyond $10,000 dollars, why didn’t de la Paz do it as he passed the customs? Even Filipino maids traveling for the first time in the airport know this rule by heart.

If Arejola is telling the truth, he should be decidedly affluent, but nonetheless awkwardly dirt cheap and stupid to put Gen. de la Paz and the country in hot water. He admitted that Enviroair, one of his companies, get juicy contracts from the PNP.

From here, I can only ask the reader to think and make your own theories and conclusions. I think investigators have uncovered some raunchy details of this scandal rocking the military, but they aren’t focusing on the right questions hard enough—the what, how, where and when of the 105,000 euros in the PNP officer’s possession.

It’s not so important that the Russian customs authorities have “absolved” him through some dubious diplomatic channels. The PNP officer has yet to explain, among others, why he has that huge money brought in the Interpol conference in St. Petersburg with his wife. He has to explain the illegal huge amount of money he carried abroad against conventions of international travel.

The “zarzuelas” and inanities of corrupt citizens go on in the Philippines. The people can only sigh in angst and anger thinking how many more rapacious scandals they have to endure in their lifetime. In Manila, one hears the poor street protesters yelling,“Tama na! Sobra Na!” while the PNP officers with their guns look on. =0=

PNP Gen. Eliseo de la Paz

Photo Credit: ABSNews; AP; Bullit Marquez

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