Archive for the ‘World Bank’ Category

Corruption charges for 17 DPWH officials in World Bank collusion scandal

March 26, 2009

Coming from a belabored delay on what to do with the World Bank’s (WB) report of corruption in the bidding of road projects in the Philippines, the office of the Ombudsman and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) investigate corruption charges on former sec. Florante Soriquez and 16 other officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH.)

If proven they are liable for violations of Section 3 (e) and (i) of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act; Section 4A (a) and (b) of RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Government Officials and Employees; grave misconduct; dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service; and neglect in duty, in connection with the bidding for two projects under the $150-million National Roads Improvement and Management Project-Phase 1.—Business Mirror (03/25/09, Solmerin, Z)

17 Officials Charged

1. Florante Soriquez—former sec. DPWH
2. Manuel Bonoan, chairman of Bids and Wards Committee (BAC) for Visayas and Mindanao projects
3. Bashir D. Rasuman, BAC assistant secretary
4. Salvador Pleyto, BAC assistant secretary
5, Juanito Abergas as BAC members;
6. Mocamad M. Raki-in Sr., vice chairman for the Mindanao area;
7. Rafael C. Yabut, vice Chairman for Operations for Area III.
8. Emersson L. Benitez, BAC member, project manager III and head of the BAC-Technical Working Group;
9. Baliame P. Mamainte, project director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development-Project Management Office (IBRD-PMO);
10. Lope S. Adriano, the project director of the IBRB-PMO;
11. Joel I Jacob, officer-in-charge (OIC) of the legal service;
12. Camilo G. Foronda, OIC of the Comptrollership and Financial Management Services;
13. Antonio Manalo, Jr., Bureau of Research and Standards
14. Director Walter R. Ocampo, director of the Bureau of Construction;
15. Leonora Cuenca, , OIC of the Comptrollership and Financial Management Services;
16. Mario Bandelaria, project director of the IBRB-PMO
17. Florencio I. Aricheta, a representative of the National Constructors Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Construction Association.

“Graft investigators found sufficient documentary evidence to show that a violation of the Procurement Law has been committed. All 17 DPWH officials are being charged for approving bids that went beyond the approved budget of the $150-million National Road Improvement and Management Project-Phase 1“—-Mark Jaladoni, assistant Ombudsman. Philstar (03/26/09, Punongbyan, M)

The scandal linked Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo, of bid rigging, causing a lot of public embarrassment when Philippine officials appear to stall the probe in spite of the leads given by a foreign lending bank like WB.

With competence and integrity in question, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who is saddled with an impeachment case against her, was heavily criticized for not acting on the corruption charges expeditiously. Sen. Miriam D. Santiago also led a “probe to nowhere” on the anomaly which disappointed the public. (Photo Credit: Mannan3) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “WB-funded road contracts & the US State Department’s charges of graft and corruption.” Posted by mesiamd at 2/28/2009; “Who bears the shame in the senate investigation of WB corruption scandal?” Posted by mesiamd at 2/16/2009; “World Bank opens a can of worms & Sen. Miriam D. Santiago investigates” Posted by mesiamd at 2/13/2009

=========================================================

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

==========================================================

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=

============================================================

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=

============================================================

Corruption and apathy: where will these lead us?

February 10, 2009

We face foreign aid cuts due to corruption. It is shameful that our country which seeks assistance abroad is being singled out as unworthy of help because we are dishonest. Obviously, this is morally and economically damaging. Foreigners are saying untrustworthiness will hurt us in the end. It’s time we heed the criticisms and do corrective action.

“The Philippines is facing a big cut in foreign aid because corruption in government is “deeply entrenched” and the World Bank report is “worrying” a big donor country, a diplomat disclosed yesterday.

The diplomat from the major donor country, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their government is closely following the WB report and the investigation into the anomalous road projects funded by the foreign financial institution and the extent of government corruption that has identified First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo as the alleged patron of colluding contractors in a $33-million road project in 2003. “—-Philstar (02/10/09, Lee-Brago, P)

Corruption is getting worse. Our leadership is in crisis. Right at the heart where Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo weaves power, allegations of corruption in her administration are common. Even members of her household have been repeatedly accused of dishonesty in government. The charges are too many—and too embarrassing that even foreign observers are stunned.

Though most of us acknowledge that there is worsening corruption, almost no one is ready to face it with candor, righteousness, and accountability. Instead, there is damning apathy and lack of concern.

Those who are guilty dodge the issue by denying the accusations. Most of them who are influential keep a blind eye and take advantage of the weakness of the legal system. Most corruption charges remain unproven in spite of investigations with telling evidence. There is little effort to ferret out the truth and bring the guilty accountable. This is bad to the future of the nation and the next generation. (Photo Credit: gmaresign; zero+q) =0=

RELATED BLOGS:“Not as a lecturer or as a judge,” EU thinks RP must do more to curb corruption Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009; “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009

=========================================================

"Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” and Sen. Miriam D. Santiago’s tiredness

February 6, 2009

I hope Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was correct when he said that Sen. Miriam D. Santiago needed an indefinite leave from her legislative work because of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS.) I don’t know if what he meant coincided with what we know of the disease.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a nebulous medical condition with unknown cause whose manifestations run from physical to the psychological. As such CFS comes as a diagnosis only after careful and thorough health investigation which considers a plethora of possibilities—-hormonal problems (i.e. thyroid disease, diabetes,) chronic infections (TB, malaria,) exogenous drugs (substance abuse), malignancies, organ dysfunctions, nutritional, immunologic, and metabolic derangements (malnutrition, poisonings, autoimmune diseases) and psychiatric problems (bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia) among others.

CFS is a hard diagnosis to make because there are no specific tests or laboratory markers to pinpoint the ailment; many illnesses have fatigue as among their prominent symptoms and a good fraction of patients looks well. The manifestations of CFS vary in severity and its course is characterized by periods of remissions and exacerbations.

A CFS diagnosis should be considered in patients who present with six months or more of unexplained fatigue accompanied by other characteristic symptoms. These symptoms may include:

• cognitive dysfunction, including impaired memory or concentration
• malaise or exhaustion lasting > 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
• unrestful sleep
• joint pain without signs of inflammation
• persistent musculo-skeletal pain
• depression
• mood swings
• headaches
• tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
• sore throat
• cardiac and respiratory symptoms

According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) between 1 and 4 million Americans suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), an illness which presents with overrid ing tiredness. A fraction of patients are seriously impaired; at least a quarter are unemployed or on disability. About 50% of those affected come to their doctors and 40% of them have previously unrecognized medical or psychiatric condition.—Source: Center for Disease Control (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cfs

What CDC tells us is just the tip of the iceberg. From the medical perspective, one can however surmise if Sen. Miriam D. Santiago really suffers from a serious disease. Is she really sick? Does she have CFS or is she plainly tired. Let her doctor investigate so she can be treated.

The flamboyant senator who is known for her “intelligence and tartness” just wrapped up her investigation on the scandalous World Bank (WB) allegations that top-ranked officials in government colluded in rigging of project deals by contractors. She must really be tired as the Filipinos— for nothing of great significance came out of a senate probe of this nature. The investigation only broke open the unhealing wounds of corruption that has left the country mired in shame. (Photo Credits: St.ChristopherLucky; diong) =0=

===========================================================

“Not as a lecturer or as a judge,” EU thinks RP must do more to curb corruption

January 28, 2009

Many huge corruption charges in the Philippines involve officials in the highest corridors of power, but almost all of them remain as accusations displayed like dirty laundry for the public to bear. At the cost of the country’s credibility, almost no one gets punished. The entire nation keeps a blind eye of the growing list of scandals whose outcomes are often tip in favor of the crime doers.

For a long time, corruption comes like a foul odor ignored by the government and its citizens. The stench is allowed to stay, follow its course, until it dissipates in the wind. That’s the usual course that has incrementally robbed the country of its shame and dignity. The public is tired, perhaps, about to give up on corruption—for even with laws in place, there is little accountability. There is almost no public outcry of protest.

Illegal deals and criminal transactions occur right on the face of a Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo. Circumventing the law is common, perpetrated by criminals in broad daylight without embarrassment. The hideousness of the corrupt practices has prompted foreign entities like the World Bank (WB) and European Union (EU) to sound their alarm; they point to government deals that smell too stinky to brush aside. The latest is the WB disclosure of fraud in its bank-financed projects.

The president’s husband Jose M. Arroyo, just like in the past, has been linked to greedy collusion schemes. The latest is with the E.C. De Luna Construction Corp, one of the contractors named by the World Bank for rigging the bidding process of road projects funded by foreign money. Officials of the foreign bank are dismayed by the scale of corruption that is traced way back in 2007.

Careful not to rub the sense of shame of Filipinos, WB’s corruption charges which point the complicity of Chinese partners, suggest that the international community can’t just watch the dirty way the government is run. Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo continues to play the charade for the nation.

The EU also sounded its concern by offering the Philippines help to fight corruption. Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the European Commission said in a Commission of Human Rights meeting in Manila that the EU “sees corruption as a symptom of poor governance and lack of transparent, accountable management, and control system. —Philstar (10/28/09, Clapano, JR)

There it is. MacDonald is right in saying that officials, the civil society and media must work together to fight corruption in government by observing “transparent electoral processes and supporting parliamentary and judicial oversight.” The country can’t live with perversion of integrity that is out in the open and politicalized for everyone to see, but can’t do something against it.

Even if the outside world wants to help the Philippines solve corruption, it is still the people who must first reject and work against it. There is no shortage of anti-corruption laws. They are just waiting to be enforced, not by officials who are themselves corrupt, but by those who are committed to move the country ahead.

The fight against corruption needs ethical leaders to help government officials and business leaders reform their ranks. They need moral rejuvenation and accountability which must be taught and applied in the community. With the nation’s fate at stake, there is deep shame when foreigners remind Filipinos of their freedom, duty for country, and moral responsibilities. (Photo Credits: Almostevil665; wdbphoto) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009; “On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It” Posted by myty555 at 12/16/2008