POSTSCRIPT / March 13, 2005 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pagcor bosses face tough plunder case

FOCUS ON WOMEN: In case the menfolk have not noticed, March is National Women’s Month. This will explain the flurry of activities honoring women and showing appreciation for what they have been doing for the rest of us.

This might also explain why Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo T. Reyes has a special press release paying tribute to women in public service.

Noting that more and more women are joining the government, Reyes said that there are about 15 lady governors, eight vice governors, 97 board members, 14 city mayors, nine city vice mayors, 225 town mayors, 144 town vice mayors and 1,731 councilors.

Days ago, we saw on the PhilSTAR front page a picture of women graduates of the Philippine Military Academy who got four out of the top 10 honor slots.

To cap it all, Reyes points to a recent survey showing that women are better public servants than men.

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WOMEN’S FLAW: But for all their talents and virtues, women have one flaw — as this article we borrowed for Sunday reading from the Internet says:

By the time the Lord made woman, He had been working six days straight. He was very tired. An angel appeared before Him and said, “Lord, why are you spending so much time on this one?”

The Lord answered, “Have you seen the specs sheet on her? She has to be water-proof, but not plastic or hard. She must have over 200 movable parts, all replaceable and be able to run on diet Coke and leftovers. She must have a lap that can hold at least four children at a time, a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart, and she must be able to talk on the telephone, cook, scold a child and pet the dog all at the same time with only two hands.”

The angel was astounded. “No way! Only two hands!”

“Yes,” the Lord said. “And that’s just the standard model.”

“Lord, that is too much work for you. Wait until tomorrow. You can finish up then.”

“No!” The Lord protested. “I am too close to finishing this creation that is so close to my heart. She can already heal herself and work 18 hours a day. I’m just about done.”

The angel moved in for a closer look and touched the woman. “Lord you’ve made her so soft.”

“Yes, she is soft,” the Lord agreed. “But she is also tough! You have no idea what she can do, endure, or accomplish.”

“Will she be able to think, too?” the angel asked.

The Lord replied, “Not only will she be able to think; she will be able to pray, reason, meditate, and negotiate.”

The angel notices something and reached our to touch the woman’s cheek, “Oops! You’ve put so much on her, she is starting to leak, Lord, I told you, you were putting too much in this one.”

“That’s not a leak, that’s a tear.”

“What’s that for?” the angel inquired.

The Lord whispered, “Her tears are the way she will express her joy, her sorrow, her love, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride. It is a symbol of her heart.”

“You are a genius, Lord. You’ve thought of everything. This woman you are making is truly amazing, is she not?”

With all the pride of a brand-new father, the Lord said, “Oh yes, she is! Women have strengths that will amaze men. They bear hardships and carry burdens, but they will at the same time hold happiness, love and joy. They will smile when they want to scream. Sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for those they love and all that they believe in. They stand up for injustice and remain seated in humility. They will not take no for an answer when they know there is a better way that their family, particularly the children can have what they need. They will go to the doctor with a frightened friend. They will go to court with a wayward husband.

“They love unconditionally often, asking for and taking little in return. They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends are rewarded. They are happy to hear about a birth, knowing the difficulties that may lie ahead. They cheer because they will help a friend through it all.”

“They love weddings and might even help make the dress. They can cook and some can even bake. Their hearts break when someone dies, yet they are strong when others may think there is no strength left. They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart and they offer them to anyone who needs one.

“They come in all sizes, shapes and colors. They can walk, run, fly, drive or e-mail to remind you that they love you. It is the heart of a woman that will keep the world turning and things in order. They have the babies because men could never figure out how to put so much in such a small space. Women bring hope and joy. They bring compassion and ideals.

“They are the moral support that keeps the family of humanity together. Women have important things to say and even more important things to do. They ask very little and offer all they have — that’s their one flaw.”

“What flaw?” asked the angel.

Sadly, the Lord responded, “They seem to always forget their worth.”

* * *

LDP MOVING: The Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, some of whose stalwarts are cast with the opposition, has started this early to flex its muscles, paying attention first to infusing itself with fresh blood and ideas.

The dominant political party after the Edsa I revolution of 1986 and the party that had the second biggest number of members elected in the May 2004 polls (the biggest scorer being the administration coalition), the LDP is preparing to take on bigger assignments.

The coming 2007 senatorial elections will be a testing ground for its expected maneuver to clinch the presidency in 2010 or at least contribute to picking the winner, at the close of the six-year tenure of non-reelectionist President Arroyo.

In its first major party meeting this year, the LDP elected new officers yesterday, amended its constitution and by-laws, and gave the elected party chairman, Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, full powers to forge agreements with like-minded political parties.

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TIME WARP: Giving perspective to the occasion, Angara, said, “A political party should not live in a time warp, should be dynamic, forward-looking and forever in search of new ideas and for talented, idealistic and fresh warm bodies.”

The reformist tone of its leaders ring in the context of the Philippines’ landing in the No. 2 slot of Asia’s most corrupt nation and the tightening grip of a fiscal crisis.

LDP spokesman Miguel Romero said the LDP would give priority to this problem. He recalled that it was Angara who pushed through the Government Procurement Act overhauling the obsolete and fraud-prone rules on biddings and awards for government supplies, contracts and services.

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PAGCOR PLUNDER: The latest blockbuster graft case thrown at the Arroyo administration is a P946-million case filed by Plunder Watch against six officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. led by its chairman Efraim Genuino.

The case was filed in connection with a supposed “sweetheart deal” involving alleged overpriced rentals paid by Pagcor for two casinos in the Waterfront hotels in Cebu and Lapu-lapu cities on Mactan island.

Pagcor spokesperson Edward King downplayed the plunder case by saying it was an old charge being revived possibly just to throw Pagcor into disarray. But insiders said it was a tough case that could break Pagcor and spill to Malacanang.

Charged with Genuino with violations of the Plunder Law, the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees were directors Danilo Gozo, Manuel Roxas, Luis Carlos and Philip Lo, and Rafael Francisco, the chief of staff for operations.

* * *

TERMS QUESTIONED: Plunder Watch convenor Carolina Pagaduan-Araullo said that Pagcor had contracted to rent space at the Waterfront Casino hotels in 1995 and 1997 at the rate of P399.30 and P459.23 per square meter, respectively.

The contract also provided for the payment to Waterfront of a 20-percent marketing incentive fee in excess of gross income of P560 million for Cebu and P300 million for Mactan.

The hotels are owned by William Gatchalian, a businessman who bought the two properties from their Malaysian owners in 1998.

Araullo said Gatchalian had tried in vain during the Estrada administration to collect the 20-percent marketing incentive fee. She said Waterfront also demanded a uniform rent increase of P1,300 per sqm. for both casinos, but failed to collect.

She said that when the Arroyo administration took over and Genuino was made chairman, Waterfront suddenly got what it wanted — P946 million in advances, back rent and the 20-percent marketing incentive fee — over the objections of middle-level Pagcor officers.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 13, 2005)

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