Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr should be regarded as a political prisoner, human rights group Kapatid said, adding the whistleblower has done great service to the people and does not deserve to be in jail.
Kapatid said the Supreme Court’s decision finding Rodolfo and brother Orlando guilty of graft is a “travesty of justice” that sends the wrong signal to whistleblowers.
The High Court upheld Rodolfo’s graft conviction last week for leasing 6.6 hectares of idle public land to his brother Orlando and sentenced the siblings to six to 10 years of imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office.
Kapatid, the support group of families and friends of political prisoners, however said the Supreme Court should reverse its decision as Rodolfo deserves the protection of the law for reporting evidence of wrongdoing.
“Thanks to Jun Lozada’s courage [a] scandalous megadeal was cancelled. But because of the rotten double standard of justice in the Philippines, he is the one who will go to prison while the biggest masterminds of graft and corruption are exculpated and allowed to perpetuate themselves in public office,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said.
Lim added that Rodolfo has become a victim of retaliation and persecution by powerful enemies who have in effect made him a political prisoner for speaking truth to power.
Rodolfo was former head of the Philippine Forest Corporation and a government information technology consultant when he revealed alleged anomalies in the establishment of a National Broadband Network (NBN) by the Chinese corporation ZTE in 2007 during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government.
Lozada said President Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Miguel were “masterminds behind the NBN-ZTE crime” worth P17 billion of pesos. He also said former Commission on Election chairperson Benjamin Abalos stood to gain from kickbacks.
The Lozadas turned themselves in at the National Bureau of Investigation last Thursday after hearing the Sandiganbayan reportedly issued a warrant of arrest against them following Supreme Court’s affirmation of their conviction.
In a statement, Rodolfo said his enemies made good with their threats they will make him regret for his revelations.
“Yes, they succeeded in sending me to prison. But they will not succeed in making me regret my decision to side with the truth and the people. I do not regret my decision to side with the truth,” Rodolfo said.
“Our hearts go out to truth-tellers like Jun Lozada. Kapatid stands by him and with him in his statement that embodies the plight of the political prisoners in this country,” Kapatid said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/283648908_357526819780060_8604715396773081522_n.gif7331152Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2022-06-06 18:00:462022-06-06 18:00:47KAPATID: 'Jun Lozada should be regarded as a political prisoner'
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) warned Senator Lawrence Christopher Go’s withdrawal from the presidential race may just be an attempt to avert the split of the Duterte-Marcos alliance in the 2022 national elections.
In a statement, BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Go’s withdrawal only benefits the alliance between the Marcos and Duterte dynasties.
In a press conference Tuesday, November 30, Go declared he is withdrawing from the presidential race.
Go said he wants to spare President Rodrigo Duterte from further problems caused by his daughter’s decision to partner with Marcos.
“Ayaw rin talaga ng pamilya ko kaya naisip ko na siguro ay hindi ko pa panahon sa ngayon…Ayaw ko rin lalong maipit si President Duterte. Higit pa po sa tatay pagmamahal ko sa kanya,” Go said. (My family is really against my candidacy. I also do not want to put President Duterte in a difficult situation. My love for him is greater than that of a father.)
Go earlier filed his candidacy for the vice-presidency, eventually substituting as presidential candidate for fellow Senator Ronald dela Rosa who withdrew last November 15.
Both Go and dela Rosa are believed to be acting at the behest of the President in filing their certificates of candidacy (COC) last October while their faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Pilipino is convincing presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to run as president.
Duterte-Carpio however decided to run as Marcos Jr.’s vice-presidential running mate instead.
President Duterte went on to accuse Marcos Jr. of being a weak leader who has no public service achievements to speak of.
Many also believe the president was referring to the late dictator’s son when he repeatedly alleged that a presidential candidate is cocaine-dependent.
Reyes said Go’s withdrawal may lead to the elder Duterte supporting Marcos Jr. after all, despite his tirades against the presidential aspirant.
“Perhaps there is already a form of accommodation for Rodrigo Duterte under a Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem,” Reyes said.
“Whatever the final outcome of their maneuvers, the people are more than ever resolved to stop a Marcos restoration and a Duterte extension,” Reyes added.
Progressive groups like BAYAN accuse both dynasties of gross and widespread human rights violations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/marcos.jpg8901600Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2021-11-30 14:17:192021-11-30 14:17:20Go’s withdrawal to benefit Marcos-Duterte dynasties, BAYAN warns
Controversial medical equipment supplier Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. bagged more questionable contracts from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the ongoing investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee revealed.
At the investigation’s sixth hearing last Monday, September 13, Senator Panfilo Lacson observed that Pharmally may have actually won contracts worth around P12 billion despite having no established record in the business and having only P625,000 in paid up capital when it incorporated in 2019.
Lacson made the observation after Senator Franklin Drilon bared additional P4 billion in test kits contracts were awarded to Pharmally that were not included in the Commission on Audit’s 2020 report flagging questionable transactions between the corporation and the DBM procurement service.
In addition to earlier revelations that Pharmally has bagged more than P8 billion in contracts, Drilon said the following purchase orders were awarded to the company:
P300 million worth of KN95 masks at P100 per piece issued on April 23, 2020;
P2.88 billion for 41,400 test kits at P69,500 per kit on June 9, 2020;
P245.85 million for 312 test kits at P787,968 each on June 10, 2020; and
P774.35 million for 17,000 test kits at P45,550 each (no date cited).
“This is not in the COA report. What happened to this?” Drilon asked former DBM undersecretary Christopher Lao who was its procurement service head at the time of the transactions.
While acknowledging that Drilon’s documents may be official DBM records, Lao denied having any idea about the contracts.
Drilon however said Lao himself signed at least two of the contracts.
The Blue Ribbon Committee investigation was triggered by state auditors who revealed “deficiencies” in government spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte gov’ts corruption
In his summary of Monday’s hearing, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Pharmally still has to explain its incredible fortune with the Rodrigo Duterte government.
“Pharmally still could not explain where it got money to pay its Chinese suppliers. The ‘buy now, pay later’ explanation is hard to believe at a time when the demand was highest,” Reyes said.
Reyes rued that former Duterte economic adviser Michael Yang again chose to skip the Senate hearing to explain his role as go-between between Pharmally and the DBM while possibly being the company’s funder.
“One can’t help but ask, is Pharmally, which was underfunded and incapable of manufacturing medical supplies, just Yang’s dummy?” Reyes asked.
Reyes also noted questionable procedures revealed at the Senate hearing, such as “same day deliveries” of overpriced face masks despite the absence of purchase orders.
“DBM-PS was still asking for quotations and here was Pharmally delivering half-a-million face masks within three hours. It looked like a deal was already in the bag,” he said.
Reyes said that instead of spearheading the defense of Yang, the scale of his administration’s corruption during the pandemic should already be obvious to Duterte. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/screenshot-1.jpg461819Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2021-09-14 11:01:032021-09-14 11:05:43Senate reveals more questionable Pharmally deals
The Philippine anti-graft court convicted two of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fraternity brothers of plunder along with a retired police officer over one of his government’s first corruption scandals.
The Sandiganbayan said former Bureau of Immigration deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles as well as retired policeman Wenceslao Sombero extorted P50 million from Macau-based gambling tycoon Jack Lam in 2016.
The three were sentenced to 40 years in prison for plunder as well as 10 years for graft. They are also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
Argosino and Robles were among the Lex Talionis Fraternitas brothers Duterte appointed to office upon assuming the presidency.
The anti-graft court ruled the three were guilty of extorting the amount in exchange for the release of 1,316 Chinese nationals caught illegally working in Pampanga.
It said Sombero acted as middleman while Argosino was identified as the “main plunderer.”
Closed circuit television footage presented at a Senate investigation showed the officials and the middleman receiving bagfuls of cash from Lam and later carrying them out to a casino parking lot in Pasay City.
Argosino and Robles later claimed they took home to the money to protect it before handing them over to the Philippine National Police.
In 2017, Lex Talionis member and Duterte’s first justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre appeared to try to protect Argosino and Robles when he declared the three could not be charged for plunder as the money they returned was P1,000 short of the minimum P50 million for the offense.
The National Bureau of Investigation, an agency under Aguirre’s supervision, consequently recommended the lighter charge of graft and corruption.
Then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales however disregarded the Department of Justice recommendations and went ahead with the plunder charges.
Sandiganbayan justices later discovered the full P50 million was intact after the accused separately returned the amount in batches, leading to their plunder conviction.
Aguirre was himself implicated in the scandal when Sombero revealed the then justice secretary also met with Lam on the day they received the money.
Aguirre however was allowed to stay as justice secretary until April 2018 when he figured in another controversy involving his clearance of alleged big time drug personalities Kerwin Espino and Peter Lim.
The Jack Lam extortion scandal was not the first time that Argosino has figured in the news.
He was among the senior students implicated in the hazing death of fellow San Beda College of Law student Raul Camaligan in 1991.
Argosino and his co-accused pleaded guilty to the charge of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and were imprisoned from 1993 to 1995.
Argosino passed the bar examinations in 1993.
Upon his release, he petitioned the Supreme Court to be allowed to practice law which was allowed after senators, former magistrates and members of the religious community attested he was of “good moral character.”
He and his co-accused also declared they have promised a Raul Camaligan Scholarship Foundation to atone for the death of the then Lex Talionis neophyte.
Both the Camaligan family and San Beda later told The Philippine Daily Inquirer the foundation was just an empty promise.
Lex Talionis is seen as the most powerful law school-based fraternity when member Duterte became President in 2016 and began appointing several fraternity brothers to high government positions. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and overseas Filipinos pressed their demand for the scrapping of the mandatory Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) membership amid difficulties brought them by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Migrante International said OFWs have been facing job losses amidst the pandemic that is aggravated by “onerous government fees” such as the proposed PhilHealth premium rate increase this year.
The group said mandatory PhilHealth membership has been a burden for OFWs since the passage of the Universal Healthcare Act (UHC) signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 20, 2019.
The law requires OFWs to be PhilHealth members before leaving for work abroad.
Migrante earlier said majority of the OFWs have no use for mandatory membership as PhilHealth is practically useless in helping them pay medical bills when they get sick abroad.
Instead, Migrante said PhilHealth membership should be “voluntary for those with capacity to pay contributions.”
Migrante also scored the corruption at the health insurance agency that has yet to properly account for at least Php 15 billion in allegedly misspent funds.
“PhilHealth has been used as a tool for unscrupulous health officials appointed by the President to amass billions of members’ contributions for their own selfish interests,” the group said.
“Why should contributors suffer by paying increased premiums in response to the agency’s lack of funds?” the group also asked.
Migrante demands “corrupt” PhilHealth officials involved be held accountable and prosecuted.
Migrante also said OFWs believe that Duterte’s recent announcement to defer the collection of increased PhilHealth premiums is only a tactic to quell the anger and anxiety of the people especially during this COVID crisis.
“Merely deferring the increased premium does nothing to calm down the people,” Migrante said in its statement.
Instead, the group said OFWs want a genuine, pro-people, universal health care program through free and comprehensive medical and health services. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/12.jpg910700Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2021-01-08 10:11:152021-01-08 10:11:17OFWs press for scrapping of mandatory PhilHealth membership
With the Office of the Ombudsman’s latest memorandum circular, SALN access is now restricted across all branches of government.
By Karol Ilagan and Stanley Buenafe Gajete/Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
For the past 30 years, the Office of the Ombudsman has made readily available the wealth disclosures of Philippine presidents and other government officials. Until now.
The Ombudsman, with its Memorandum Circular 1, has blocked public access as well as public inspection at reasonable hours of the SALN, for the first time since the law mandating public disclosure of these records was passed in 1989.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2018 and 2019 statements of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN should have been made public within 10 days from the day they were filed. The Ombudsman initially rebuffed repeated requests by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) to obtain copies, claiming that it was still revising the guidelines for public access to the SALNs of government officials.
More than a year since that review started in May last year, the Ombudsman finally came up with its new guidelines: the anti-corruption body is no longer allowing the public to see copies of the SALNs.
The Ombudsman circular states that copies of the SALN may only be provided to a requester if:
he or she is the declarant or the person who filed the SALN or the duly authorized representative of the declarant;
there is a court order; or
the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.
Of the six SALN custodians, the Office of the Ombudsman is now among four that have the most restrictive rules in SALN access. (See sidebar: A citizen’s guide to where and how to get a SALN)
PCIJ also requested the Office of the President to release Duterte’s SALN. After all, Malacañang has made SALNs public in the past. We made the first request on June 21, 2019 and followed up repeatedly. The response? Ask the Office of the Ombudsman, which we had already done.
For the past year, repeated requests by the PCIJ for the President’s wealth statement have been tossed back and forth between the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the President. The issuance of the Ombudsman’s circular now essentially makes Duterte’s SALNs secret.
The latest batch of SALNs, covering the year 2019, is supposed to be filed by officials on or before April 30. But because of the Covid-19 quarantine, the deadline was extended to June 30. Once filed, these records must be made available to the public in 10 working days after filing or around July 15.
As the Ombudsman restricts public access to SALNs of the presidents and other officials, we are releasing for the first time the SALNs of all past presidents since 1989, when the law requiring the public disclosure of asset statements was passed.
These documents show that President Duterte is breaking a long tradition of presidents making their annual wealth disclosures public year after year, often even without a formal request from the press or the public to do so.
All SALNs since Corazon C. Aquino’s first statement in 1989 to Duterte’s 2017 SALN can be downloaded here. The 2017 disclosure was the second Duterte filed as president and the last that was made publicly available.
Other branches of government have also become more restrictive of access to wealth disclosures. In fact, only two of the six repositories (Malacañang Records Office and the Civil Service Commission) provide access to full copies of SALNs without the need for the declarants’ approval. When President Duterte took office, he promised a more transparent government, but that has not happened.
Last year, the PCIJ published a story based on all of Duterte’s SALN filings since he was Davao City mayor. We found that his wealth increased from less than P1 million in 1998 to nearly P29 million in 2017. We also reported “big spikes” in the wealth of the president’s children, Sara and Paolo Duterte, based on their SALNs.
The president was not pleased. “What we earned outside is none of your business actually,” he said at a public event in April last year. ‘Yung may mga negosyo kami, mga law office kami — what the goddamn sh*t?”
When we asked for the president’s 2018 SALN the following month, the Office of the Ombudsman stalled. Our request for the 2019 filing in August 2020 was also ignored until the Ombudsman released its circular a month later.
Three weeks after assuming office, Duterte signed Executive Order 2 that required the full public disclosure of many public documents. The order specifically said, “all public officials are reminded of their obligation to file and make available SALNs for scrutiny.”
Contrary to the spirit of the order and the requirements of a 1989 law, Congress and the courts have recently issued new guidelines restricting access. The Office of the Ombudsman, the uber custodian of SALNs, has changed its rules several times with varying degrees of openness.
Prior to the latest guidelines restricting public access, all requests must be approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires. Martires, who belongs to the president’s San Beda law college fraternity, is a two-time Duterte appointee, first to the Supreme Court in 2017 and second to the Office of the Ombudsman in 2018.
Republic Act (RA) 6713, also known as the SALN Law, says that the actual SALNs should be open for public inspection at reasonable hours, available for copying after 10 working days from the time they are filed, and available to the public for 10 years from receipt of the record. These statements contain detailed information on an official’s real and personal properties, loans and other liabilities, and net worth as well as business interests, financial connections and relatives in government. (See sidebar: What’s in a SALN anyway?)
In a recent budget hearing, Ombudsman Martires said his office had stopped lifestyle checks on officials because RA 6713 supposedly set “unclear” standards.
Throughout the world, wealth disclosures are seen as an important anti-corruption tool. “The requirement that public officials declare their income and assets can help deter the use of public office for private gain,” said the World Bank. “Income and asset disclosure systems can provide a means to detect and manage potential conflicts of interest, and can assist in the prevention, detection, and prosecution of illicit enrichment by public officials.”
The SALN serves as a tool for transparency as well as prosecution as the law allows for lifestyle checks, law professor Antonio La Viña said. The wealth record offers a way to make sure that officials “do not benefit, do not increase their wealth because of their work (in government).” Through the SALN, one can track the way officials’ wealth changed over the years in which they were in power, he explained.
La Viña has reservations about everyone getting a hold of the SALNs, but said the Ombudsman circular was very restrictive when it excluded journalists from getting the records. “The media should always be given full access or at least access to the most important part of the SALN, the summary part,” he said.
The law professor surmised that the Ombudsman restricted access because the SALN had been “abused, misused, weaponized.”
To La Viña, however, those in power are the ones “weaponizing” the SALN to go after their enemies.
“President [Benigno] Aquino [III] used it against [Chief Justice Renato] Corona. President Duterte or the people of President Duterte — [Solicitor General Jose] Calida — used it against [Chief Justice Maria Lourdes] Sereno.”
The SALN was key to the ouster of the two chief justices. In 2012, Congress impeached and ousted former Chief Justice Renato Corona. In 2018, the Supreme Court removed through quo warranto proceedings Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, a critic of Duterte and his administration’s war on drugs. Both Corona and Sereno were accused of failing to fully disclose their wealth in their SALNs.
The PCIJ has also used asset statements to hold presidents accountable for the wealth they have accumulated while in public office. Without access to the full SALNs, this kind of investigative reporting becomes very difficult.
In 2000, we exposed the “millions, mansions and mistresses” of President Joseph Estrada, showing that what he had spent on his lavish lifestyle exceeded the net worth declared in his SALNs.
The PCIJ also reported on the murky finances of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009 and the spike in the net worth of Benigno Aquino III in 2011. All this reporting relied on SALNs as well.
La Viña warned that restricting SALN access to the media might increase impunity among corrupt officials. Before, corrupt officials hid illicit wealth or did not put it in their SALNs. Now, given access restrictions, they will be able to avoid scrutiny.
La Viña also said other SALN repositories might follow the Ombudsman’s lead. It’s important to file a petition before the Supreme Court to clarify access, particularly media access, he said.
In 2019, the Senate, which used to be one of the most open to making SALNs public, stopped releasing copies of the statements filed by senators. Senate Policy Order 2019-001 issued by the Office of Senate President Vicente Sotto allowed access only to SALN summaries and not the actual documents, citing the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which supposedly “restricts the dissemination of personal and privileged information.”
The House of Representatives has been disclosing only wealth summaries of congressmen since 2010. In February last year, it adopted House Resolution 2467 requiring all SALN requests to be approved by a majority vote of the House members in plenary session. Apart from numerous requirements, a requestor will have to pay P300 per SALN if the request is approved. That’s P91,500 for the SALNs of all 305 members of the House.
The Supreme Court has consistently thrown legal roadblocks at requests for the SALNs of members of the judiciary. After the ouster of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, the high court issued guidelines that required those seeking access to the wealth statements of justices to state in writing a reason for doing so. These requests also needed to be approved by the Supreme Court en banc. So far, requests from media organizations have been denied. Instead, the court releases only summaries listing the total value of the assets and liabilities of justices.
In the past 30 years, the PCIJ has obtained the full statements, not summaries, of the wealth disclosures of many public officials either through routine requests or in the course of its reporting. While some agencies held back, it was sometimes also possible to walk into the offices of government offices, or Malacañang, and get a copy right there and then. Some presidents, like Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada even disclosed their income tax returns.
The legal requirement to file SALNs is found in RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), the 1987 Constitution, and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees). (See sidebar: Laws governing wealth disclosure)
The earliest of these laws, RA 3019, enacted in 1960, requires public officials to prepare annual statements of assets but does not require that they be made available to the public. Public disclosure was mandated by the 1987 Constitution for the highest officials of the country, and in 1989, RA 6713, for lower-ranking officials as well. –with additional research by Floreen Simon, Arjay Guarino and Rex David Morales, PCIJ, October 2020
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2-2.jpg12001800Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2020-10-21 13:48:122020-10-21 13:48:13Duterte’s SALNs secret; PCIJ makes public wealth disclosures of all presidents since Cory
n 2016, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte famously warned government officials against corruption: “Not even a whiff or whisper – I will fire you.”
The Ombudsman restricting access to the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of public officials and proposing to do away with lifestyle checks is only this administration’s latest effort to hide the growing stench of corruption. Yet with the government’s infrastructure budget bloating and the pork-filled 2021 budget being railroaded through Congress, every check on corrupt government officials is more urgent than ever.
Developments with the proposed pre-election 2021 budget make vigilance especially critical. The unprecedented Php1.1 trillion in infrastructure funds takes up almost one-fourth (24%) of the Php4.5 trillion national government budget. Infrastructure projects are notorious sources of corruption with so-called SOP (‘standard operating procedure’) of 10-40% on projects still acknowledged as pervasive. Presumbably most under scrutiny are the administration’s flagship infrastructure projects but these only account for Php158.2 billion or 14% of total infrastructure projects, implying Php941.8 billion worth of projects prone to ‘SOP’ across the country.
The Office of the President (OP) also has an equally unprecedented Php27.3 billion in potential pork barrel funds consisting of the OP’s Php8.2 billion budget and the Php19.1 billion National Task Force to end Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) recently created under it. The Commission on Audit (COA) has already lamented being unable to audit the president’s intelligence and NTF-ELCAC funds. The presidential declaration of a state of calamity until September 2021 also threatens to give legal license for public funds to be misused.
SALNs are vital tools for the public to keep watch of government officials. It is common knowledge that SALNs are routinely understated but there is just so much lying that can be done under oath so even inaccurate SALNs can be indicative. Combined with lifestyle checks on spending habits, the public can start to get an idea if public officials’ lifestyles are commensurate to their lawful income.
SALNs are weaponized because this is exactly what they are – weapons against corrupt public officials. Unlike private citizens, public officials have powers that can be abused for self-serving gain through bribes, kickbacks and malversation. Any flaws in how they are used should just be corrected because discontinuing them will favor corrupt public officials more than benefit honest ones.
None of which is to say that SALNs and lifestyle checks are currently effective in curbing corruption. The Ombudsman and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) are understaffed and grossly lack the resources to properly check on over 1.7 million government officials and employees. The Ombudsman and PACC are also helmed by San Beda schoolmates of Pres. Duterte – Samuel Martires and Danilo Yang, respectively – which cannot add confidence about how the office will be used especially against those close to the president.
In this context, media and the public are vital force multipliers to combat systemic and entrenched corruption in government and should be empowered. However, the Ombudsman’s retrogressive efforts significantly cripple media and the public from their vital watchdog role. The Ombudsman is also rolling back gains from the Ill-Gotten Wealth Law (RA 1379) which boldly, even on paper, put the burden of proof on government officials to show that wealth and assets not commensurate to visible sources of income were lawful.
The majority of public officials and employees are honest and do not fear SALNs. Indeed, holding public office also only becomes more honorable if public servants allow themselves to be held to a higher standard. Conversely, hiding corruption and hindering the vigilance of citizens only diminishes public office and officials. #
Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco died last night, Tuesday, June 16, at an expensive private hospital in Quezon City due to, according to a news report, lung cancer. He was 85.
All news stories about him so far describe him as a business tycoon, a sportsman, a sports patron, a philanthropist, and political kingmaker. His death even merited a message from Malacañan Palace. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco, Jr.,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
None of the announcements and reports has yet to call Cojuangco what he was accused of for most of his life, a crony of Ferdinand Marcos. In fact, Cojuangco was not just a crony but was said to be the biggest one. In an article in December 30, 1990, the Los Angeles Times described him as “second only to Marcos in the systematic looting of the Philippines.”
The sector who complains to this day that they were wronged by Cojuangco is one of the country’s poorest: coconut farmers.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said they cannot condole with the family of the deceased, as the Ph105-billion coco levy fund Cojuangco was accused of pocketing in the heydays of the Marcos dictatorship and plunder remain unreturned and unremitted to its true owners.
“Patay na si Danding Cojuangco Jr., hindi pa naibabalik sa mga magsasaka ng niyog ng pondo ng coco levy na dinambong ng mga promotor ng coco levy fund scam,” KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement hours after the announcement of Cojuangco’s death.
It was said that Cojuangco used the coco levy fund to acquire companies, land, banks and other businesses that made him not just one of the richest men in the Philippines but throughout the world.
Danding and Marcos
The book “Some Are Smarter Than Others” by former exile and national librarian Ricardo Manapat described Cojuangco as one of Marcos’ closest and most loyal cronies. They have in fact developed interlocking godfatherships of their sons and grandsons. Danding even named his eldest son Marcos Cojuangco.
Their business partnership started with rice importations that also involved Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose Aspiras, two other cronies. And when he faced the possibility of being summoned to testify in United States courts in connection with charges of monopolizing coconut trading, Marcos appointed him “Ambassador-at-Large” to prevent that from happening.
At the height of his power under the Marcos dictatorship, Manapat said Cojuangco controlled corporate assets worth $1.5 billion which at the time was 25% of the country’s gross national product. In an April 2, 1990 report, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cojuangco was into rice cartels, sugar, flour, groceries, cement and soft drinks aside from coconut, sugar, agri-business, banking and others.
Danding’s wealth enabled him to own vast land holdings in Central Luzon, Central Visayas and Palawan where he kept hundreds of high-powered firearms wielded by hundreds of guards who were reportedly trained by Israeli mercenaries. He also collected Ferraris and Rolls Royces and owned expensive race horses imported from all over the world, the book revealed.
The coco levy fund
The coco levy fund was the biggest taxation scheme in the country at the time of its imposition in 1971. It exacted taxes on coconut meat produced by farmers amounting to billions of pesos and allowied both Cojuangco and Juan Ponce Enrile to become major players in the global trade of coconut products.
The fund the levy created was supposed to be spent for support activities within the industry, collected from farmers as soon as they sold their products to traders. They were supposed to be issued receipts as proof of their ownership of the fund but majority of them never received the receipts. None of them benefitted from the fund and have in fact suffered because of it due to lowered incomes.
Manapat’s book said that at the height of the coco levy’s implementation, the coconut farmers only earned $19 a month on the average. This meant that they could only afford 10% of the minimum requirement for their family’s food. Years after Marcos had been deposed and the coco levy fund was ordered by the Supreme Court to be given back to its real owners, many beneficiaries have died still demanding to given back the money owed them.
Nearly a president
But Danding remained rich and powerful after his friend and benefactor was deposed. He never went to jail and kept control of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and other big businesses. He was even a candidate for the presidency in the 1992 national elections.
The KMP revealed that in 1998, when his good friend Joseph Estrada was elected president, Cojuangco’s 4,661-hectare landholding in Negros Occidental spanning two cities and seven towns were exempted from actual land distribution through a joint agribusiness venture between the ECJ Corporation and 1,200 Certificate of Land Ownership Award holders.
Danding’s SMC is also the primary initiator of flexible labor policies in the country that promoted contractual labor and laid off tens of thousands of workers across SMC companies, the KMP said in its statement.
“Danding Cojuangco Jr. is the embodiment of the landlord-comprador-bourgeoisie ruling class who have enriched and empowered themselves through exploiting the Filipino masses, especially workers and farmers,” Ramos said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/danding-2.jpg7281366Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2020-06-17 18:40:292020-06-17 18:40:30KMP: No tributes to Cojuangco from farmers
In tactical terms, Duterte has still enough power and enough armed minions to abuse the people and act like a real tiger. He can still kill any specific social activist, critic or anyone opposed to his brutal and corrupt regime. He can still persecute journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, bishops, priests and opposition leaders as well as their institutions and organizations in so many ways.
But in strategic terms, Duterte is a paper tiger already in the process of being torn apart. Every oppressive or exploitative act that he commits is rousing the people to fight back. Thus, the patriotic and progressive forces are gaining ground rapidly. Duterte is lucky if he can survive politically before the middle of 2022 or he will be even more unlucky and meet a more powerful resistance if he succeeds to extend his power beyond 2022 through any foul means offensive to the sovereign will of the people.
In taking advantage of the COVID-19 problem in order to grab emergency powers, subject the people to extreme repressive measures and steal public funds in the hundreds of billions of pesos, Duterte has sabotaged the Philippine economy and bankrupted his own government and has thus grievously offended the people whom he has deprived of the means of livelihood and frustrated with the false promise of food assistance and economic relief.
In their tens of millions, the workers, peasants and the lower middle class are hungry and angry at the Duterte regime and are eager to move against it. The professionals and entrepreneurs have been deprived of income and have fallen into debt and bankruptcy and are ready to join the toiling masses in concerted actions to protest and make demands. Even the big compradors and landlords who are not his close collaborators now consider him a plague worse than the COVID-19 virus.
The Christian churches are now calling on their people to make Duterte account for his crimes against humanity, his gross and systematic violations of human rights and his blasphemy in cursing and spitting on God’s face. He can invoke the freedom of thought and belief. But he cannot use his state power to persecute and humiliate the Churches without meeting the just resistance of believers,
Duterte has terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP in obedience to Trump’s order for him to do so in 2017. And to prove his continuing puppetry to the US, he obsequiously promised to Trump that he would do everything in his power to destroy the revolutionary movement and to allow US corporations to have 100 per cent ownership of land and all types of businesses, including natural resource exploitation and public utilities.
Since then, the inter-imperialist contradictions between the US and China have sharpened. The US is now displeased with Duterte for having allowed China to build and militarize seven artificial islands in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, control the Philippine national power grid and to put up cell towers of China Telecom and its Philippine dummy in the AFP military camps in collision with the EDCA which privileges the US to have its own bases within AFP camps.
Despite his betrayal of Philippine sovereignty in his relations with China, Duterte has gotten far less than the loans that he expected to get from China even at the most onerous terms for his much-touted plan of infrastructure-building. It has become obvious that China has preconditioned most of the loans with demands for the most outright and brazen surrender of Philippine sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea and its rich oil, gas and marine resources.
While Duterte and his military minions boast daily in government and commercial mass media that they have wiped out the armed revolutionary movement several times over, they expose their big lie by railroading a bill of state terrorism supposedly aimed at destroying at the same time the armed revolutionary movement in the countryside by likewise destroying any form of legal opposition that can be suspected or interpreted as being helpful to armed revolution.
The armed revolutionary movement of the Filipino people is daily being taunted and insulted by militarist psywar that it is already dead and being challenged to prove that it is still alive and kicking. In this regard, the leadership of the revolutionary movement has announced that each one of its more than 100 guerrilla fronts will deliver lethal blows to their enemy every week and every month in accordance with their current strength within the context of national guidelines under the principle of centralized leadership and decentralized operations.
Indeed, if the revolutionary forces of the people would carry out their fighting tasks very well against the enemy armed units, the human rights violators and plunderers, they can contribute significantly to the isolation, discredit and overthrow of the traitorous, tyrannical, genocidal and plundering Duterte regime. When they were much smaller and weaker and less experienced, the revolutionary forces contributed significantly to the overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship from its inception in 1972 to 1986.
They are now definitely in a much stronger and better position to give a greater contribution to the effort of the Filipino people to get rid of a tyrant of a lower calibre than Marcos, a mediocre mimicry of his master monster. They can assure all their allies that under current circumstances the balance of forces does not yet allow seizure of political power by the revolutionary proletariat but certainly allows constitutional succession among the conservative forces to depose a physically, mentally and morally deranged tyrant and provide relief to the suffering people.
As they did in the fight against the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the conservative forces can avail of the broad united front of forces against the Duterte tyranny, persuade the civilian and armed personnel of the state to withdraw support from the tyrant and apply their principle of constitutional succession to get rid of him and his gang of butchers and thieves. If they succeed, then they shall have created the conditions for the resumption of peace negotiations with the NDFP. All advocates of a just peace can seriously consider this point. #
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The author is the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/china-4.jpg640960Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2020-06-16 06:53:552020-06-16 06:53:57Duterte is a paper tiger in strategic terms and is in the process of being torn apart
Even Liberation Philippines, the official newsletter of the underground revolutionary group National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), expressed support to Filipino athletes who have begun competing in the 30th South East Asian Games.
In a social media card posted on its Facebook page, Liberation encouraged the Filipino people to continue supporting the Filipino athlete amid allegations of corruption in the Philippine hosting of the biennial regional sports spectacle.
The image showed a triumphant looking female athlete holding up a Philippine flag.
“The Filipino people should continue to support the Filipino athlete. Their outrage is directed at the evil Duterte-Cayetano combine,” the long-lasting underground publication said, quoting a statement issued by NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison last November 25.
In one of his several reactions to the controversies surrounding the games’ hosting, Sison expressed disgust at the Philippine government’s “naked and shameless incompetence, waste and plunder of public funds in the mismanagement of the hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.”
‘Cayetano should resign’
Sison urged the entire Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), led by House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, to resign and be replaced by “a Filipino Olympian, a World Record holder or a Former National Athlete, with known administrative skills and with a competent team” who could “quickly assess the situation.”
Sison expressed confidence that the SEA Games can still be saved, adding, however, “it will require Herculean efforts and strong national unity that could only come from a high sense of patriotism and credible new leadership.”
He said Cayetano and his entire committee should all be investigated and prosecuted.
Cayetano for his part has repeatedly apologized for the problems besetting the hosting of the games, including unfinished venues, mismanagement of athletes’ accommodations and food, even allegations of overpriced installations and apparel.
He, however, blamed the Senate for the delay in the approval of the games’ budget, an allegation immediately refuted by his Senate counterpart Vicente Sotto III.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte also expressed anger at the fiascos surrounding the games.
“The blunders could have been avoided. Those are actually easy to address. That’s why the President is angry,” Panelo told reporters at the sidelines of the president’s trip in South Korea Tuesday, November 26.
‘Plague afflicting Philippine sports’
In light of the government’s blame games, however, Sison said, “it is time to re-examine and finally end the corrupt bureaucrat capitalist rule of reactionary politicians, retired military generals and oligarchs in Philippine sports who thrive on stealing public funds.”
“They are the plague afflicting Philippine sports. Their corruption takes away from athletes the leadership roles, state funding and competent management of their national associations.,” Sison said.
“Left on their own and with adequate state and public support, our athletes can do better in looking after their own development and welfare than the likes of Cayetano,” he added.
Sison said that while it turns out the P50-million cauldron could be the most scandalous problem that arose from the games, investigations to be held may reach up to the highest office in government.
“[I]t should light up the paper trails of corruption, ineptitude and mismanagement that lead to and incriminate the Office of the President and the Office of the House Speaker,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
https://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/libe.jpg960960Kodao Productionshttps://kodao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/kodao.pngKodao Productions2019-11-27 08:59:312019-11-27 08:59:33NDFP expresses support to Pinoy athletes but calls for probes on SEAG mess