POSTSCRIPT / February 12, 2009 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noli suffers collateral damage in Legacy row

WORLD BANK LINK: If you have Internet connection, go straight to the World Bank website and get first-hand information on the debarment (banning) of some public works firms and the alleged collusion with influence-peddlers expediting contracts.

Go to:


If the above address comes out hyphenated in my column because it is too long to fit in one line, delete the hyphens before you type (or copy-paste) it on the address field of your browser.

The World Bank is finalizing for release a redacted (edited) version of its report on the alleged public works bidding anomalies that have made the Philippines and the husband of President Gloria Arroyo conversation pieces around the world.

You can also contact: Kitchie Hermoso (Email:, Tel: 632-917-3013) and Dave Llorito (Email:, Tel: 632-917-3047). They may be able to help.

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CATS’ EYES: A reader from Mountain Province, commenting on my Postscript last Tuesday mentioning the redundant cats’ eyes (lines of reflectorized studs) on some Metro Manila streets are minor league compared to what they have where he lives.

He said in an email: “Those cats’ eyes installed in Metro Manila costing P1,200 to P1,800 per piece look so amazing, But how I wish you could go to Sagada, Mountain Province, and see the cats’ eyes installed there at P11,200 each paid for by the DPWH-Mountain Province District Engineering Office.”

He said he has filed the proper case with the Office of the Ombudsman but that nothing has happened.

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RELATED ISSUES: Reacting to the same Postscript, another reader from Batangas emailed us to confirm the money-making racket in the purchase of non-priority safety signs, barriers and other road needs.

He said: “There is big money on this type of DPWH projects. I have a friend who got a SARO from a congressman in Batangas and was able to earn P2 million by just selling said SARO to a contractor. You can also check a certain G*rd*la, a DPWH contractor who has cornered safety signs and barrier projects all over the Philippines.”

Reader Tony Reyes of Brea, California, said: “Malacanang is saying that it has no control over First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and cannot compel him to appear before the Senate committee investigating the World Bank scandal. Didn’t we know that already? The Palace does not control Mike Arroyo, because he controls it and all the people there.”

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NOLI’S LEGACY: A big casualty in the serial explosions of money scandals is Vice President Noli de Castro, who has been linked to the Legacy group identified with some failed rural banks and pre-need firms.

Testifying before the Senate committee on trade, a former head of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. said that he had been told to go easy on Legacy because its top honcho had made hefty contributions to the 2004 campaign of De Castro.

Many Legacy plan holders and investors wail that the Legacy boss-man, banker and Sto. Domingo (Albay) Mayor Celso de los Angeles, may have used their millions for De Castro. They said they were also made to put up streamers and distribute campaign materials for him.

All that huffing and funding was apparently rewarded because the Vice President, soon after his election, made De los Angeles chairman of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp.

Although De Castro cut his ties with De los Angeles after reports of massive NHMFC corruption leaked out, the smell of the association lingered. Delos Angeles went on leave in July 2005 and never returned to the NHMFC.

De Castro is immensely popular, but his Legacy connection and other personal problems may derail his possible presidential bid in 2010.

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VILLAR-DE CASTRO: If De Castro goes down in the popularity and approval surveys, among the beneficiaries of his misfortune may be his friend Sen. Manny Villar, who even now is already rating high.

Although presumed to be a strong presidential contender, De Castro may decide to slide down and run in 2010 as Villar’s vice presidential partner. In politics, which is the art of the impossible, the most unlikely alliances develop.

Despite his replacement as Senate president last November, Villar continues to lead in surveys. Rid of his administrative tasks in the chamber, he now has more time to prepare for 2010 and do what he does best — which is management and entrepreneurship.

The delicate balancing act he had to play with 23 other fiercely independent senators has fallen on the shoulders of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

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SURVEYS SAY…: In the latest survey of the Center Pulso ng Pilipino conducted last Jan. 6-9, Villar garnered a commanding 17 percent preference, overtaking perennial survey leader De Castro.

The survey was commissioned by the administration Lakas party, which reportedly wanted to gauge the strength of its potential bets. To Villar’s 17 percent, De Castro got 15 percent, while MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando had 6 percent.

Earlier, the Social Weather Stations satisfaction survey showed Villar garnering the highest rating of positive 61 percent. The survey was conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 2008, or weeks after Villar’s ouster as Senate president.

Enrile, who had replaced him, had a mere 5 percentage rating. This was way below the 42-percent rating that Villar got when he first became Senate president in 2006.

De Castro, who retained his No. 2 ranking in the SWS survey, obtained only 39 percent. House Speaker Prospero Nograles was at the bottom, with a negative 17 percent. Chief Justice Reynato Puno got a negative 4 percent.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 12, 2009)

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