POSTSCRIPT / October 28, 2008 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA should also pound ASEM idea on her cronies

GREED: At the recent 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM-7) in Beijing, President Gloria Arroyo called on the developed economies (G7) to also consider the interests of the emerging economies in tapping out the raging global credit conflagration.In other words, she was asking the rich countries to help or to consider the interests of the poor countries as they formulate solutions to the financial crisis.As it is, the solutions — such as the bailout of giant distressed institutions — are actually designed by the masters of global finance to extricate themselves from the mess they themselves had created out of greed.

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NOT DOLEOUTS: The President’s appeal for poor countries sounds grand recited on the international stage with world leaders listening. But it would be even more convincing if said — and done — right in her own country.

President Arroyo should use whatever is left of her moral ascendancy to inspire and convince the rich in the Philippines to share their wealth and their time with the poorest of the poor.

How? I don’t know, but definitely not through press releases and cash doleouts (of which no accounting is possible, which is probably the idea in the first place).

She can borrow ideas from well-meaning civic groups and individuals that now bypass an ineffectual government to help and work with the poor directly.

This “help the poor” line gains relevance in these times when prices are climbing and jobs are vanishing while a few well-connected operators are raking it in.

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ARRIVISTES: After talking to the G7, President Arroyo may want also to appeal to her wealthy cronies (also the nouveau riche and the arrivistes) to give back to the people a substantial slice of the fortune they have amassed during her administration.

Better still, the President may want to also ask some members of her family to set some sort of example of selfless giving.

The danger here is that some people might use her “help the poor” appeal to extort donations, coursing the money through their foundations and then using only a tiny part for publicized charity.

The world loop is exhilarating, but maybe Ms Arroyo should first test drive her “help the poor” vehicle among her cronies whose wealth has multiplied in quantum leaps.

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MULTIPLIER: Do you believe that the P6.9 million found by Russian authorities hidden in the bag of retired police general Eliseo dela Paz (or that of his wife) was the same amount he took with him when he left the Philippines?

It cannot be that the money he had brought out for the delegation to the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg was not touched. The bounty was withdrawn presumably for them to share, and they knew that, yet nobody touched it?

I would be more inclined to believe a story saying that the original amount was P15 million or more considering that the wives of the generals were traveling with them. The wives are part of the equation, at times exerting a “multiplier” effect.

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NAGTATANONG LANG: More questions:

Why did Dela Paz convert the pesos to euros and not to rubles, which is the legal tender in Russia? Did he/they plan to spend or deposit the money elsewhere? Review their travel itinerary. Also check if they have bank accounts abroad.

If the plan was to purchase police equipment, as alleged in the new story being peddled, did Dela Paz intend to buy turo-turo style (point to the item desired and pay in cash)? A retiree doing the shopping? Why not do the bidding or canvassing in Manila, or online, and pay through the banks?

Of the original amount taken out of Manila, how much was given to the members of the police delegation — and the wives? The wives should be invited to testify also under oath. They know a lot.

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DEFEND THE PNP: Finally, Director General Jesus A. Versoza, Philippine National Police chief, recovered his composure yesterday and starting firing away at the “euro generals” and some officials in the headquarters linked to the scandal.

Aside from accomplishing his mission, the other duty of a commander is to look after his men. I would understand if Versoza tried to give his fellow officers, some of them his mistahs, the benefit of the doubt.

But when slow due process and presumption of innocence threaten the credibility of the police, the PNP chief’s responsibility is clear: he must defend the institution even if he has to sacrifice some of his men in the process.

After all, when the rogue officers handled the hot millions with sticky fingers, did they think of their mother institution?

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FIRING AWAY: With initial findings of PNP investigators showing probable cause for filing criminal and administrative charges against several officers, Versoza ordered yesterday:

1. All PNP officers who attended the Interpol conference to submit individual liquidation reports of the P274,070 cash advance that each of them received.

2. The seven officers still in the active service to return the entire amount cash-advanced to them. Dela Paz, having retired, is “encouraged” to also return all funds he had drawn from the PNP.

3. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to file charges against Dela Paz, Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, Senior Supt. Tomas Rentoy, and Supt. Samuel Rodriguez for the unauthorized release of P7-million from the PNP confidential/intelligence funds.

4. The CIDG, in coordination with Customs, to file charges against Dela Paz for violation of the New Central Bank Act for not declaring the 105,000 euros he took out.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 28, 2008)

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