Profiting from extrajudicial killings?

18 10 2009

On October 8, 2009, the Inquirer reported:

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The European Union on Thursday said it would give 3.9 million euros (about $5.8 million or P270 million) to the Philippines to help the government stop extra-judicial killings and disappearances of activists.

EU Ambassador Alistair MacDonald and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita signed the financing agreement for the EU-Philippines Justice Support Programme which is intended to speed up judicial proceedings against the perpetrators of such killings.

The money will cover over a period of 18 months (from the end of the year to March 2011) the establishment of a national monitoring system to help government and non-government groups track the progress in preventing such incidents.

Need I say more?  Here are some insightful comments from those who also read the report: 

Sounds like giving aid to the one orchestrating these disappearances…one for the books!  —jong

Gloria is licking her greedy lips. Dagdag puhunan para sa 2010 eleksyon.  —jerry michael

The reason EU is helping is that numerous EU nationals are getting killed in the country. It could be their belief that bringing perpetrators to justice will stop all the killing. Probably they failed to anticipate that the law enforcers might just give them fall guys to appease them. The EU nationals are in the line of fire since they are mostly involved in social development. The only way they could protect their nationals is the American way, social development with full military escort.  –jun tragar 

Didn’t the European Union consider Alston’s report pointing to the military as allegedly behind these extra-judicial killings of leftist activists?  Yes, financing this Justice Support Programme may be a noble undertaking but if only one side is sincere while the other is not, and this “other one” is at the implementing end of the bargain, how can we expect a good and honest result?

Thoughtless extravagance

4 10 2009

As if the backlash caused by Gloria Arroyo’s 1M peso dinner at a French restaurant in New York wasn’t enough, she and her allies, notably Prospero Pichay of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) are again under fire for allegedly holding a lavish feast last September 30, 2009 on the occasion of LWUA’s 36th anniversary celebration at the agency’s main office in Balara, Quezon City four days after Metro Manila was inundated by one of the worst floods in RP history.  An article by JP Lopez of Malaya which was posted in Ellen Tordesillas‘ blog described the feast in this wise: 

A source said LWUA ordered 500 reservations for cocktails and 250 reservations for a seven-course dinner buffet from Henry’s Catering Service.  A check with menu showed the catering cost about P200,000 (at P510++, P530++ to P610++ per head).  The celebration, complete with a live band, was held at the LWUA main office on Katipunan avenue, Balara, Quezon City, which was one of the worst hit by Ondoy floods.  The menu consisted of baked mussels with olive oil and garlic as appetizer, “sinigang” soup, and roast pig.  The main course included “kare-kare,” chicken barbeque, squid “salpicado,” spinach with chicken and garlic, “pancit” sotanghon (or canton guisado) and steamed jasmine rice.  Desserts included fresh seasonal fruit platter and “buko pandan” salad.  Assorted sodas, “guinumis” and home-brewed iced tea were also served.  It was not yet known if Prospero Pichay, LWUA chairman and administration ally, shouldered the expenses. 

It was not the feast per se that got my goat.  I’m used to seeing this administration holding lavish parties and spending millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money for foreign trips and junkets abroad.  It was LWUA’s sheer insensitivity in giving out a bountiful feast in the midst of all the difficulty brought about by Typhoon Ondoy that knocked me off my seat.  While the rest of the country were in the thick of rescue and relief efforts for the victims and their families, LWUA officials had the audacity to spend for a meal that cost at least P500 per person.  Thus, while the affected residents were stuck in schools turned into evacuation centers and had to be contented with eating noodles three times a day, LWUA officials were busy wining and dining their hearts out with Gloria Arroyo and company. 

Whether or not government money was used for the feast is out of the question.  For even if private funds were used, the celebration still smacked of insensitivity to the plight of thousands who had to rely on donations from concerned groups and individuals.  If government funds were used, then with more reason should this insensitivity be denounced and condemned. 

I’m no fan of Sen. Miriam Santiago but I think she’s right on this one.  This is a case of thoughtless extravagance under Article 25 of the Civil Code: 

Article 25. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution. 

The problem with this seldom used provision is that only a charitable institution (government or private) can file the action.  Moreover, Article 25 is silent as to whether an action for damages can be filed in lieu of a court injunction.  I mean, what is there to enjoin if the thoughtless extravagance has already been consummated as in this case?


2 10 2009

The Inquirer headline reads:  “Palace hopefuls race to help flood victims” 


There’s Manny Villar requesting for meds with his Tulong Villar Relief Assistance. 

Noynoy Aquino with his Operation Tulong Bayan. 

Then there’s Loren Legarda who says “We must set aside politics and cooperate with each other to help the victims of typhoon Ondoy” while saying at the same time that she’s not quitting the presidential race. 

Not to be outdone with, discredited ex-President Erap Estrada boasts of having distributed 40,000 bags to affected families. 

Of course, DND Secretary and Lakas-Kampi presidential standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro is constantly seen on national TV murmuring government’s belated and lousy action plan to solve the flood crisis. 

If you want to help in the relief efforts, course your donations instead to either GMA7 or ABS-CBN, not to these opportunist politicians who will stop at nothing to get your votes. 

On a related note, urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox has this to say:

This is not an act of God, as what people have already said. This is a sin of omission on the part of government and leadership. Practically all the measures outlined in the study could have addressed the flooding we are seeing these days.

Read more of his interview in this Inquirer article.


30 09 2009

GREED and OPPORTUNISM.  That’s how I describe the likes of Manny Villar and Willie Revillame and the funeral parlor owners who ‘profit’ from other people’s tragedies. 

Says Conrado de Quiros: 

Heading the pack is Willie Revillame who was busy announcing that “kami nga ni Senator Villar” have been tireless in delivering relief goods to the needy. You’d think the guy would have learned a thing or two from being crucified after he vituperated about Cory’s coffin being shown on his show, consequently disrupting his and his audience’s fun. Clearly his chastisement hasn’t chastened him enough. Or he’s just fundamentally tasteless he cannot see that the last thing the victims want is to be treated like contestants, or supplicants, of “Wowowee” waiting upon his generosity.

Says one Barangay Chairman from Quezon City who complained about some funeral parlor owners charging exorbitant fees for their services: 

It’s as if they don’t understand the situation of the families. They are overpricing their services, that’s why the families could not immediately claim the bodies of the victims. 

While the rest of the country are practicing the “bayanihan” spirit, these people are not about to shed off the mantle of greed and opportunism that has “protected” them from Ondoy’s onslaught, so to speak. 


27 09 2009

The Bystander hopes to post more of his thoughts on a regular basis.


27 09 2009

Believe it or not, sabungeros (cockfighters), kristos (bet takers) and kasadors (bet managers) may soon be delivering privilege speeches in the Halls of Congress as your honorable congressmen. This, if the COMELEC grants their group, the so-called Alyansa ng mga Sabungero, accreditation as a party-list candidate in next year’s elections and if they muster enough votes to get at least one seat from the 20% allocated seats for party-list representatives.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing objectionable about sabungeros having an improved station in life as lawmakers. My objection stems from the manner by which these people would like to seek congressional entry – projecting themselves as marginalized and underrepresented so as to be recognized as a legitimate party-list group. They claim to represent the workers of the sabong industry which includes the kristos and the kasadors but it is quite obvious that the brains behind this latest hullabaloo are the rich and powerful cockfighting aficionados who are known to bet like there’s no tomorrow.

The possibility of this group getting an accreditation is more real than imagined. The poll body has already set a precedent when it gave party-list accreditation last April to a group allegedly composed of balut vendors. The funny thing about this party-list wannabee named Ang Kasangga is that it is headed by no less than the First Gentleman’s sister, Maria Lourdes Arroyo, whose family comes from a clan of landlords in Iloilo and Negros Occidental. 

Of course, the supporters of both Alyansa and Kasangga may argue that it is ultimately the people who will have the final say whether these groups deserve a spot in the much maligned House of Representatives. That argument, however, presumes that the electorate is discerning enough to distinguish the genuine party-list groups from the bogus ones. History has shown that our political maturity and voting preferences leave much to be desired. This is the reason why the COMELEC should as much as possible, and in accordance with RA 7941, be strict in its assessment of groups wanting to enter the party-list system. Otherwise, time will come when the law intended to level the playing field between the rich and the marginalized will only be used as a tool by scheming politicians to take hold of the P75 to P100-million pork barrel (Priority Development Assistance Fund) given to congressmen each year to fund projects in their districts.


1 11 2008

I’d like to share this forwarded e-mail about the supposed “privileges” and “benefits” of Philippine Senators.  I have not made a thorough verification whether this is 100% true or not.  I tried browsing the Senate’s website but I only found this bit of information.  This may very well be political spin from people who want the Senate abolished chiefly because the institution has been a pain in the neck for Gloria Arroyo since 2001.  Suffice it to say that despite its imperfections, the Senate has through the years, performed its role as the the vanguard of people’s rights and fiscalizer of the incumbent corrupt administration. 

Miriam Defensor Santiago was featured in Correspondents last week.  Maganda rin naman ang naidudulot ng pagiging prangka ni Senador Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Ayon kay Santiago, marami ang tumatak-bong Senador dahil sa laki ng budget na ibinibigay sa kanila kada buwan. 

Lumalabas na P35,000 suweldo nila kada buwan ay pakitang-tao lang sa milyun-milyong budget ng bawat senador. Kada buwan ay may Fixed Monthly Budget ang bawat Senador ng humigit-kumulang P2 Milyon. 

Sa opisina pa lang nila ay humigit-kumulang P500,000 ang budget nila sa Maintenance and Operating Expenses (Rental, Utilities, Supplies at Domestic Travels) at P500,000 para sa Staff at Personal expenses. Kaya para makatipid ang ibang Senador, kaunti lang ang staff na kinukuha nila. Nagtataka ka pa kung bakit mayroong mga Ghost Employee? 

Bukod diyan, may P760,000 allowance pa sila kada buwan para naman sa Foreign Travel. At ang masakit pa nito, hindi na kailngan i-liquidate ang mga resibo ng mga gastusin ‘yan kundi Certification lang ang Requirement. 

Heto pa, lahat sila ay Chairman ng mg Komite sa Senado. Ang Committee Chairman ay tumatanggap din ng budget na sinlaki ng tinatanggap ng mga Senador na humigit-kumulang P1 Milyon din! Hindi sila mawawalan ng Komite dahil 24 lang ang ating mga Senador at 37 naman ang Committee sa Senado. There’s food for everybody ‘ika nga! Lumalabas na doble ang kanilang benepesiyo at kita kapag sila ay nabiyayaan ng Committee Chairmanship. 

Sa P200 milyon na Budget para sa Pork Barrel ng mga Senador bawat taon, awtomatikong may 10% na S.O.P. o kita ng Senador na P20 milyon. Ito ang porsiyento na ibinibigay ng mga kontratista sa mga Senador na nagbibigay sa kanila ng mga Infrastructure at Livelihood Project. 

Bago matapos ang termino ng isang Senador, kumita na siya ng P100 milyon sa Pork Barrel pa lang. Yung ibang Senador mas gahaman, hindi lang 10% kundi 20 – 30% ang komisyon hinihingi sa mga kontratista. 

Pansinin niyo na lang ang pagbabago ng buhay ng ilan sa ating mga Senador simula nang manungkulan sa puwesto. Kung dati ay simple lang ang kanilang pamumuhay ngayon ay nakatira na sila sa mga eksklusibong subdivision, maraming bahay sa Pilipinas at abroad at mahigit lima ang sasakyan. 

Ngayon nagtataka ka pa ba kung bakit gumagastos ng daan-daang milyong piso ang mga Senador sa kampanya para sa isang posisyon na P35,000 lang ang suweldo kada buwan? Bawing-bawi pala ang gastos kapag naupo na! 


Pero mas masarap pa rin maging Presidente.  Ano Gloria?


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