Archive for the ‘WB scandal’ Category

WB-funded road contracts & the US State Department’s charges of graft and corruption.

February 28, 2009

For some weeks now, World Bank (WB) tells us of the corruptive practice which rigs the bidding of the foreign bank-funded road projects in the Philippines. Instead of being thankful to the international lending institution for giving important leads to curb corruption, some of our government officials have been defensive.

Without tangible effort to find out the truth, supporters of the Arroyo government thought of filing a “diplomatic protest.” As if to way lay the investigation, Sen. Santiago pompously crowed over “court evidence” and insisted on the foreign bank officials to feed the senate investigation with all the details of the allegation. WB officials in turn told our government investigators they couldn’t do the job for us. Careful not to trample on our national “pride,” they said it wasn’t the foreign bank’s duty. Yes, why then couldn’t we have our investigation without the help of an outsider like the foreign bank?

Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo, was at the center of the WB scandal. Santiago, an Arroyo ally, behaved as though it was WB’s interest over our own national interest that criminal wrong-doing be proven. The foot-dragging that followed demonstrated the lack of resolve to get into the bottom of the case. The inquiry led by Sen. Miriam D. Santiago was haphazard, diversionary and inutile.

If only to heighten our shame and incompetence, the US State Department, on a separate issue of human rights, called on our government to exert more in stopping graft and corruption. In its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2008,” released last February 25, 2009, the department disclosed corruption in government agencies and the judiciary was among the reasons why basic human rights continued to be violated in the Philippines.

‘The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,‘ the report says.”—Inquirer (02/28,/09, Dizon, N; Burgunio, TJ)

What they are saying about us is consistently embarrassing, but many of us choose to keep the usual silence. Malacanang Press secretary Cerge Remonde tries to be “smart” by dismissing the accusations as merely perceptions and therefore not rooted on reality.

“Corruption is really more…perception than reality. This perception is making us more aware and more conscious of the problem. More people become vigilant in watching graft and corruption,” Remonde told a news conference at the Palace on Friday.”—PDI, (02/27/9, Guinto, J.)

Others like Remonde in government are defensive by pointing that even USA and other countries have shares of the same problem. Apologists for the country say the Philippines isn’t the only one. They try to downplay the stark contrast in how other countries respond to stop graft and corruption.(Photo Credit: Animationcomics) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009

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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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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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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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“Mental stress” as a cause of non-appearance in court

February 12, 2009

It’s the medical judgment of Dr. Antonio Sibulo that Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo is unfit to appear in the inquiry regarding the collusion of government officials in rigging the contracts of World Bank-funded projects. It’s hard to know where the truth lies in Dr. Sibulo’s decision.

“Mental stress” can adversely affect the course of an illness, but it’s difficult to ascertain how it influences Mr. Arroyo. After undergoing aortic aneurysm operation in April 2007, he seems in no immediate danger if he testifies in the senate. With nothing said in the contrary, in all likelihood his surgery has healed.

Many assume Arroyo keeps proper medications which make him function proximate to a normal human being. His health hasn’t been an issue until lately when he is summoned to shed light to his alleged involvement in the WB anomaly.

Mr. Arroyo’s local and international travels are just as “stressful” as playing golf or watching Manny Pacquaio fight in a boxing match in Las Vegas. As far as the public knows, the doctors haven’t advised the controversial palace gentleman against such ”stressful” situations.

How can clarifying a scandal in public be so taxing if the man is innocent and has nothing to do with the case? Dr. Sibulo has this worry: “the mere sight by a patient of an ‘unlikeable’ person can increase stress. ‘What worries me as I see it in TV, temper and emotions run high and it takes a long time for such a hearing.’ ”—-GMATV.news (02/12/09, Dedace, S)

There is a pattern that Filipinos see when suspected felons are called upon to testify on public crimes. This is particularly true with cases of national importance which have made the people cynical and incredulous.

The public has seen it in Jocelyn Bolante, a US deportee, who spent weeks in St. Lukes Hospital for “urgent” medical tests which delayed his testimony on the multimillion peso fertilizer scam that rocked the country. As observers rightfully believed, the hullabaloo in Bolante’s medical tests came out negative. Why can’t the senate keep a clinic, a team of doctors, and an ambulance to take care of medical emergencies if they happen?

Yolanda Ricafort, the infamous bagwoman of Pres. Joseph Estrada appeared in an inquiry on a wheelchair with a nurse ostensibly waiving a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer to guard her patient’s hypertension. After her dubious testimony, Ricafort escaped to the United States to avoid further questions regarding Estrada’s misuse and plunder of government money. How can Filipinos counter the rampant use of health problems as cover to impede the conduct of investigations?

The exploitation of health issues as props in criminal investigations was also evident in Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who chose to stay in UST Hospital for extended in house treatment. At the end of the round-about investigation, Garcia was found guilty and later court-martialed for theft and money laundering of funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which brought disgrace to the whole nation.

With the glaring examples above, how can the public readily believe Dr. Sibulo? If mental stress will be used as basis for non-appearance in an all investigations, it is likely all attempts to find truth won’t prosper because everyone’s health is at risk—all because of “mental stress.”

Mr. Arroyo has a long list of corruption charges—all of which remain unproven because of many reasons: lack of witnesses, judicial sluggishness, “insurmountable” medical conditions among others. It’s time that Arroyo comes out clean and show his courage to rescue the entire nation from international embarrassment of corruption. There must be a way, with Dr. Sibulo’s help, to make him testify so that he’ll not be perceived as guilty or be accused of malingering and cowardice. (Photo Credit: ButchokoyD) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Corruption and apathy: where will these lead us?” Posted by mesiamd at 2/10/2009; “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009; “Hospital: a vacation house or a sanctuary for malingerers?” Posted by mesiamd at 10/29/2008.

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