Friday, November 11, 2016

The Marcoses' Mind-Boggling Loot (Nasaan ang Hustisyaaaa?!)

     For the millennials who don't understand why there is so much brouhaha about Ferdinand Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, here's just one facet of the Marcoses that's raising hackles in some quarters - their thievery. The former dictator and his family plus cronies raked in Philippines' wealth in cash and in kind while they're ruling and ruining the country for decades.     

     Marcos never officially won the record as the world's greatest thief (just like he never legitimately earned his Medal of Valor), but he could have gotten the Guinness title hands down. The list below, divulged by author Caroline Kennedy (not JFK daughter) in 1987, will give you an idea of the corruption and plunder of the Marcoses.      

     The following items appeared in the official custom list when Marcos and entourage arrived in Hawaii upon their exile. These were simply described as "household effects". Take note that the estimated amounts were  made in 1986 so by now their loot is at much higher value.
  • 22 Crates of Cash valued at $717 million dollars
  • 300 crates of assorted jewellery Value undetermined
  • $4 million dollars worth of unset precious gems contained in Pampers diaper boxes.
  • $7.7 million dollars worth of jewellery, including a gold crown encrusted with diamonds, three tiaras, 65 Seiko and Cartier watches
  • A box, measuring 12 feet by 4 feet, crammed full of real pearls.
  • A 3 foot solid gold statue covered in diamonds and other precious stones.
  • $200,000 dollars in gold bullion and nearly $1 million dollars in Philippine pesos

Just a few of Imeda's trinkets up for auction: Bili na po kayo

(Photo from http://www.azgem.com/newsletters/newsletter-03-16.html)

      As if we're not yet overwhelmed by the sheer amount of their "show money", Ms Kennedy continued:

"A week ahead of their departure 2000 tons of gold, worth $22 billion dollars, had been dispatched to Australia but, on a tip off, was intercepted by the vigilant Australian Customs. Weekly shuttle flights, transporting crates containing money, period furniture, antiques and Old Master paintings were reported to have flown to Hong Kong during the six months prior to their downfall in February 1986.
A further $250 million dollars worth of jewellery was also confiscated from a friend of Imelda’s who was caught smuggling them out of the country for her. 
And this was probably just the beginning. Over two decades later the Philippines government is still trying to locate all the Marcos assets. Imelda has not helped them. She has claimed the Fifth Amendment. She has obfuscated. She has bribed. And she has lied. She told the Philippines commission charged with retrieving the stolen funds:
If you know how rich you are, you aren’t rich. I have no idea how rich I am!”
Truly imeldific: Walang kupas, panay kumpas!
Following a request from the Philippines government, the Swiss government, for the first time ever in its history of secret banking, froze all assets they suspected of belonging to any member of the Marcos family. In the past five years the Swiss government revealed the existence of yet another Marcos account, holding almost $20 billion! And so it seems quite possible that one day we might actually find out just how rich the Marcoses were."   
  While in exile, the Marcoses continued their lavish lifestyle living in a multi-million dollar estate in Makiki Heights and regularly hosted parties and dinners to the rich and famous.        The Marcoses also amassed stocks and real property assets abroad including at least four properties in New York. In 2012, US authorities discovered "a fresh cache of dollars, prime New York properties and paintings worth as much as P1 billion", according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.      For full text of Ms Kennedy's report and to learn the full extent of the Marcoses' insatiable greed , you can visit https://anywhereiwander.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/%E2%80%9Cthe-marcoses-the-missing-filipino-millions%E2%80%9D/.



Friday, September 23, 2016

Funniest News Interview Ever

     This got me ROFL! I have to tell this news clip made my day. It's truly a welcome respite from news of rampant killings plus rampant corruption and swearing by our political leaders. Hope you enjoy this video, too!




Monday, September 19, 2016

The Duterte Series: Is his no.1 campaign promise now broken?

     During the campaign for the 2016 May elections, presidential candidates presented their campaign promises. They did so repeatedly and so zealously that they were foaming at the mouth.  We know all campaign promises, like all other promises, are often declared but rarely delivered.

Is Duterte's campaign battle cry just deadened or dead?


     But for people who have been clamoring for change, Duterte's promise to crack down on criminals got us all hoping - hoping that maybe this time a true harbinger of change is coming. And so D won an overwhelming mandate.

     D promised he's going to suppress illegal drugs along with other forms of criminality in 3 to 6 months.  He has given himself strict goals and deadlines. And millions of Filipinos took the bait.  For so long, evening news have been our staple of gore as criminals, particularly the riding-in-tandem elements, brazenly rule our streets.  D could be the man who could make criminals cower, just like how Dirty Harry did it with his "Go ahead, make my day" menacing utterance. Incidentally, Dirty Harry is known to be a fave character of D that our president gained the monicker Duterte Harry.  

   
     Many hoped for that D's promise. But earlier today, D asked for an extension. He said we should give him 6 more months to get rid of illegal drug problem. For some (that includes me) who are dismayed by the extrajudicial killings or the so-called deaths under investigation (DUI),  this is really bad news because this would mean prolonging the purges. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely for making our streets and homes safer. Sino ba naman ang ayaw na mawala na ang mga drug pusher at user sa ating lipunan?  But there must be a more humane way to accomplish D's promise.  A more holistic approach could be the appropriate response, digging deeper to find out why the drug menace is so prevalent in our country. The experts say poverty, lack of education and dysfunctional familial relationships are the dangerous dynamics that incite drug dependency. True, this approach needs more time and resources but this is going to spare lives and families.
 
     Aside from the war on drugs, I hope D will also focus on the other goals he mentioned on his campaign trail. I am strongly for getting rid of bureacratic red tape and employment contractualization, as well as improved health care for the poor and free irrigation to farmers.  I am not for the shift to federal form of government. I don't think a system change is the answer; rather, it should be the strict implementation of our existing laws and  ensuring our check and balance policy is intact. We may need to change the people running the system not the system itself.  Kung corrupt ang tao, corrupt din ang sistema. To me, no matter how roadworthy the bus is, it all boils down to its driver. If he's a reckless one, always driving under the influence, we're likely to get off track. I don't care much about horsepower and torque, all I care is getting there safe and sound.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Clash of Clan(g)s at the Senate Hearing on EJK and DDS

     The halls of the Senate is once again agog with clashing views and and clanging balls.  The inquiry on extrajudicial killings (EJK) under Duterte's administration has been going on and off for weeks now and it does offer interesting diversion for me.

     *Interesting to see Sen. Trillanes and Sen. Cayetano are now on the opposite sides of the ring, so to speak.  We saw them not long ago on the same side as they grilled to the bones the Binay camp, and now here they are on a pissing contest on the EJK case.  

     During the hearing last Wednesday Trillanes complained against Cayetano's "unli" or unlimited questioning, further describing his pee opponent as "out of order" - the sign you normally see outside our public comfort rooms.  


     "You are defending evil," Trillanes told Cayetano, apparently referring to Duterte.  Cayetano, meanwhile,  was indignant and complained of being trash-talked by Trillanes. And although Cayetano didn't back down from his "seatmate"s verbal intimidation, he decided to move to another seat.


    *Interesting also how lawyers like Cayetano can bend facts to their "truths". I remember the senator treating the reports of the Philippine Daily Inquirer  on the Binay's case as unbiased and gospel truths. Now he's calling the daily's headlines on EJK as prejudiced. 


    * "Politically motivated" is the term used by politicians who don't have anything to defend themselves against accusations hurled their way. We heard it from the Pork Barrel scam players to the so-called narco-politicos. And now, people in Duterte's camp are saying the same thing, that what Edgar Matobato has testified is purely "politically motivated". 


     *Of course, who are they kidding? Every big inquiry in the Senate and in the Congress is always politically motivated.  We clearly saw the motivation behind the jueteng payola inquiry involving Erap Estrada which led to his impeachment.  We saw the same motive in the plunder case against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which led to a long hospital arrest. Then there's the Chief Justice Renato Corona controversy which probably led to his early demise. And although a case is described as politically motivated, it does not mean there's not a grain of truth in it. Where there's a smoke, there's fire. So that means the clandestine Davao Death Squad or DDS could be really behind the enforced disappearances and summary executions of people down in Davao. Add this to the report released by WikiLeaks that as per US State Department intel there is a  "solid evidence" that indeed DDS does exist with Duterte at its helm. 

Where there's smoke, there's fire

(Photo source: https://www.saratogaweapons.com/Rob/smoking%20guns/dualsmokinguns.png)




Friday, September 16, 2016

The Duterte Series: Just (Wido)Do It

     It looks like our Pres. D  is fast becoming Mr. Ambiguity.  Latest incident involves Indonesian President Joko Widodo concerning the case of convicted Filipina drug mule Mary Jane Veloso. According to news reports, Duterte has said to "go ahead" and carry out the execution if Mary Jane is found guilty under the Indonesian judicial process. Our local media has picked up the news after D's statements made headlines in Indonesia. A lot of us were dismayed because during the previous administration extra diplomatic efforts were carried out to save Mary Jane from execution.

      Mary Jane's case grabbed headlines because she insisted that she was duped into carrying 2.6 kilos of heroin into Indonesia in April 2010.  She was sentenced to death in October the same year but was spared via moratorium enacted by then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.  Her execution was reinstated thereafter with her death by firing squad set April 29 of last year but was granted a stay just minutes away from her execution. The Indonesian government decided to postpone her execution due largely to our government's appeal for reprieve while her case is being reinvestigated and also because of the public outcry the case has elicited across the globe.

Mary Jane Veloso: Living on a prayer

     D's camp is on the clarificatory stage ever since the news broke, saying that the president didn't really give the green light.  And today Widodo has clarified that what D actually told him was to "go ahead with the process in line with the law in Indonesia." But still the fat fact is our president didn't make an appeal to save Mary Jane.   For those who expect him to do otherwise, particularly Mary Jane's family, I'm sure they're disheartened by the news.  I personally didn't expect D to appeal because of his obvious stand against the illegal drug trade and its perpetrators.

Duterte: I didn't say "just do it" to Widodo (Photo source:www.ofwnewsfeed.com)

     Why is D so often misquoted, misinterpreted or misunderstood as his men alway allege whenever the president elicits criticisms for his statements? D blames the media or the people around him but never himself for the negative publicity.  His men always scramble to correct his numerous faux pas, both intentional and otherwise.  Maybe it's not the media who's on the err here as D and his men always like to point out.  I mean, if it only happens once or twice or is being committed by one or two reporters, he can argue that he's just being misquoted/misinterpreted/misunderstood. But it happens almost always.  It happens whenever he opens his mouth, whomever is listening to him.  It's obvious D lacks the communication skills needed for an effective national leader.  Our leader should espouse clarity, never ambiguity,  into which our country is being led to.  You don't say you do not condone extrajudicial killings in one interview then promotes bounty hunting and democide in another.  You don't say you respect human rights then later on adorn suspected criminals with bullet holes and placards.
 

     
   

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Duterte Series: My Pilot Monologue

     Today, I'm starting a series on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.  Please forgive me, if along the way, I offend some of you because of my strong opinions against our president. This is just my way of blowing off steam when I get frustrated  with the goings-on in Malacanang, particularly the enigmatic man of the manor.

     Let me make it clear that I didn't dislike D at the get-go. In fact, in the last quarter of 2015, when I was randomly surveyed via my mobile number about the possibility of D joining the presidential race I gave a favorable answer for him. I think the question was "Would you like Mayor Duterte to run for president?" and I quickly replied yes.  Days later I was asked "Should Mayor Duterte run for president would you vote for him?".  I answered yes.  I was thinking then  that here's a viable presidential candidate that was a non-trapo. I knew of his no-nonsense attitude, he's known to be fearless and has worked hard for Davao to make it a world - class city. Truly, his reputation preceded him. For me, at that time, D really stood out among the bland choices the electorate were offerred. Kumbaga sa hapag-kainan natin, si D ay kare-kare katabi ang prito at paksiw na isda lang.

     So when D finally, albeit reluctantly, announced his candidacy I was excited.  But as the campaign went on, as his media exposure broadened, my excitement deflated. It was not a sudden "pop", but a gradual death of my excited optimism that ended up with "pfff", a sound of disgust and disappointment.  D has had no platform of governance but he was drawing crowds and cult following through his colorful language and dirty jokes.    I have to admit he made me laugh with his very informal political speeches; he really was an engrossing speaker and downright down-to-earth guy. However,  not long after spewing against the corruption and criminality in the land, there came spilling out the profanities and sexist and insensitive jokes. That's when I decided to part ways with D.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Davao Blast, Duterte's Bluster

     I was up late last night, alternately browsing and drowsing, when all of a sudden my Twitter got flooded by news of the Davao blast. When I turned on ANC, there it was the grim vestiges of another terrorist attack in Davao. Bodies were everywhere; they were bloodied, strewn, and riddled with the fragments of the IED (improvised explosive device).  The blast came just a few hours after Pres. Duterte's early evening presscon.  I caught the last portion of the presscon when Duterte, as usual, was justifying his war on drugs.  He was replying to a question by a foreign journalist apparently about the extralegal killings and violation of human rights allegedly being committed at the behest of the government.  Duterte  was saying the international community should not just rely on the death toll of his anti-drug campaign but they should come here and see for themselves what his government is actually accomplishing. He mentioned his beloved Davao, clearly making the city as the model of how successful his dealings with the criminal elements are. "Don't fuck with me," he once again told the international community and anyone who criticizes his method. He invited the journalist to walk the streets of Davao, and if the journalist got mugged or murdered or "even lost his wallet" Duterte said he will resign as the president.  I hope the journalist didn't heed Duterte's advice to walk the streets to may be ending up in Roxas Night Market where the explosion occurred.

     It is a slap in the face of Duterte that shortly after his pronouncement to the reporter, the blast rocked Davao killing at least 14 and injuring more than 70 innocent people. And for the Davaenos, and the rest of us citizenry, it is a wake up call; that despite our politicians' dictum of them keeping us safe, any one of us could be a collateral damage - whether it's the war on drugs or  the war on terror. I'm sure no amount of words or gestures would appease the hurt of those left behind.

     Morning came and the chaos continued. That is, chaos amongst the president's men. There was confusion if the state of lawless violence so informally announced by Duterte is confined in Davao, or the whole island of Mindanao, or the entire country. Later on it was clarified that is in full effect nationwide.

     I know a lot will take umbrage at my take on our present leadership. But I take offense when someone (whatever his/her standing in our society) talks with so much bravado, with tactless dictates then fails to follow it through with action. I would appreciate it more if it's otherwise - a lot less talk, a lot more action.


     So I would admire our president more if he actually severs tie with the UN and not just threaten it with words. Or much better, he should not have declined Ban Kin- moon's request for meeting so he can tell the UN chief to his face to not meddle in our internal affairs. I would admire our president more if he seeks an audience with the Chinese leaders during the Asean Summit in Laos next week and tell them, to really tell them, that they should abide by the verdict of the arbitration case over the South China Sea. Tell them to be damned with their nine-dash line. That way Duterte doesn't have to jetski all the way to the Spratlys to stake our claim on the islands, as he had blabbered on during his campaign.  Face to face, Duterte can tell his Chinese counterpart to do something about their nationals going to our shores to smuggle in drugs. And by the way, it is not only drugs that Chinese are illegally bringing in with them. They are also smuggling in rice, meat, gadgets and other commodities and we are losing a lot in the form of tariffs because of this. It is reported that the bulk of smuggled goods in the country comes from China, that from 2010-2014 alone they snuck in products amounting  to Php2 trillion according to report by The Manila Times. With these I am hoping that our president is able to say to the Chinese "Don't fuck with my people. And don't fuck with me." But, alas, according to the Palace our president is not going to do bilateral meetings with China in the Asean summit or talk about the issue of the South China Sea thereat.

(Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/87/aa/b4/87aab4a36ae6eddf3b928a0e8102e7ce.jpg)


Saturday, September 3, 2016

My Long Hiatus Justified

I'm alive again after so many months of absence in dishing out opinions, whether they're unbiased or otherwise. I blamed Smart and Globe and their lousy Internet service that  I wasn't able to blog for quite some time now. These telcos are robbing us, my God! Whatever happened to the Telstra group? Last I heard their joint venture with San Miguel didn't push through. Well, anyway, now I'm connected via Converge for two weeks and I say it's an improvement. So far. Hopefully, Converge will remain reliable for my sanity's sake. 😂😃😍😉