POSTSCRIPT / October 18, 2007 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Among Ed's honesty worthy of emulation

QUESTIONS: We were saying last time that if we discerned the motives of those involved in the NBN/ZTE scandal, we would start to understand what went on.

Reader Manuel Lacson offered some interesting theories and questions delving on motives:

“If the offer of Jose ‘Joey’ de Venecia III was for a BOO (build-operate-own) or BOT (build-operate-transfer) National Broadband Network project, then:

“Why did he have to see then Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos? Why did he have to meet ZTE officials repeatedly? Why did he meet with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo? Why did he have to go to China?

“All he needed to do was to convince Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the unassailable merits of his business offer.”

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ANSWERS: Lacson’s answers: “Joey was not pushing Amsterdam Holdings’ BOO/BOT offer. He was convincing ZTE (using his father, Speaker Jose de Venecia, and Abalos) to grant his company, Amsterdam, what ZTE gave to his former company, Multimedia Telephony Inc., now owned by Ricky Razon et al.

“Joey could not possibly make a BOT/BOO offer, because his company does not have enough funds to undertake the project.

“He made the offer so then NEDA Director-General Romulo Neri, who used to work for the Speaker, would be able to issue a ‘comfort letter’ to him, so JdV would be able to pressure all the parties concerned.

“But obviously, JdV’s clout did not work. And Joey, not used to not getting what he wants, went to media and messed up the story, even presented himself as a hero. No, I think Joey is simply a sore loser and a….”

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GRAVY TRAIN: But as we Filipinos — including media, and senators basking in the publicity — have a notoriously short span of attention, we have dumped the NBN/ZTE scandal for something new, the Malacanang gravy train.

That is the short and simple annals of us poor Filipinos — we lap up one scandal after another, while the administration improvises from one crisis to another. It is a never-ending loop.

We call the first “journalism,” and the second “governance.” And we laugh over it.

Now we are agog over Malacanang’s handing out bags of money, ranging from P200,000 to P500,000 depending on the political pull and relative reliability of the congressman, governor, and mayor marked for bribery.

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PROUD OF ED: It was unfortunate that Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Oscar Cruz made uncharitable remarks against Pampanga Gov. “Among Ed” Panlilio for not immediately returning the P500,000 indirectly given to him in a paper bag.

Si Monsignor naman… Tigilan na po si Among Ed. Instead, let’s help him in his crusade for real reforms.

By and large, Capampangan are proud and grateful that Among Ed spoke up the first chance he had on the P500,000 given to him from still unknown sources for unknown reasons.

He could have pocketed the half-a-million pesos — like other governors did — but did not. In a formal and organized manner, he told the public what happened and why he handled it the way he did.

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RETURN IT?: Upon seeing the P500,000 on his way home, it would have been impractical for Among Ed to drive back to Malacanang to return the money.

Firstly, he did not know what the money was for. It was easy for him to find out later, as he has started to find out by immediately writing to Malacanang. It is best that his query was in writing.

Secondly, to whom will he return it? To Bulacan Gov. Joselito Mendoza (he was the one who handed the bag to Among’s chief of staff), who also did not know the source?

Thirdly, it was premature to conclude there was bribery. If it turned out to be that, then the money could be returned with full documentation — not tossed back into the Palace yard — and the briber prosecuted.

Instead of just saying Mass and delivering sermons, Among Ed heeded the call of his cabalen and grabbed the bull by the horns. As he grapples with the beast of corruption, he should be supported, not put down.

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TRANSPARENCY: After the remarks of Msgr. Cruz., it was refreshing to hear the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines calling on other officials to follow the example of Among Ed.

Through its spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, the CBCP also supported the Senate plan to investigate the doling out of millions to congressmen and local executives after meeting with President Gloria Arroyo last Thursday.

“What Governor Panlilio did was part of being transparent about the issue,” Quitorio said. “His transparency is laudable.”

He added: “Other public officials should emulate what he did. Transparency is the first step to removing the moral bankruptcy in government.” The next step, he added, is to return the money.

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OUT OF REHAB: As vice president for corporate communications of Philippine Airlines, Rollie Estabillo sounds inspired these days talking about PAL’s finally coming out of government-supervised rehabilitation.

Read how his fluid prose puts it: “Philippine Airlines has just exited government receivership, a rare rehabilitation success story in local corporate history. It is not just another historical milestone in PAL’s 66 years of existence but more as an enduring statement to the resiliency and loyalty of its people and stakeholders like you.

“Today, your airline stands at the threshold of an exciting new beginning. We can now chart our growth and expansion with renewed optimism and confidence. And as we focus on the bright prospects ahead, we trust you will still be with us on this journey to a more secured future.

“In behalf of our chairman and CEO, Dr. Lucio Tan, and our president and COO, Mr. Jaime Bautista, and the rest of the PAL Family, thank you for everything. Mabuhay!”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 18, 2007)

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