POSTSCRIPT / January 8, 2009 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Kin come out to save Brodetts from drugs

DRUGS HEARING: As a parent, I commend the public hearing (and its radio coverage) by the House committee on dangerous drugs into the buy-bust operation against scions of families from Ayala Alabang Village.

Had we relied entirely on the newspapers — whose space is limited, coverage static (frozen within the current page for the day) and frequency only once a day — we would not have gotten a picture as graphic as that offered by the live coverage by dzMM.

With crisis PR agents working overtime in media and elsewhere, for a while there I thought the men of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency involved in the buy-bust would end up in jail while drug pushers roam free to destroy more lives.

Now the handicapped PDEA has a fair chance to prove its case against Richard Brodett, Joseph Tecson and Jorge Joseph who are still locked up for allegedly selling and possessing prohibited drugs.

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BARKADA: Another point that parents should ponder on is that when their children of partying age go with their barkada and take car rides, they could just get embroiled in a nasty drug case.

If a carload of youths is accosted and the vehicle or some persons in it are caught with sachets of drugs, all of them will have to be hauled in for investigation — including those who are truly clean or innocent.

Imagine the via dolorosa that a mother would go through after getting a call in the night about her son or daughter being at the police precinct or the PDEA office on some drug-related incident.

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MA IMPLICATED: The case of Richard Brodett and his mother Myra looks eerily different the way it appeared in yesterday’s hearing where close relatives testified that the parent herself was a drug user and pusher.

Pardon my reporting this aspect of the hearing. This is not a condemnation, but an attempt to call attention to one of the disturbing aspects of the drugs problem whose core seems to lie in the family hearth.

Anthony Brodett testified at the continuation of the hearing that he had known his cousin Richard since they were small and knew that his mother was also a drug-user.

Earlier, Anthony’s father Dave, former basketball player and uncle of the accused, appealed to his brother, Butch, and wife, Myra, to tell the whole truth. “Don’t close your eyes to the truth,” Dave said, tears in his eyes.

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REARED ON DRUGS?: Anthony said: “I’ve known him (Richard) since we were small, we grew up together. Since 16, gumagamit na iyan (he has been a user).”

He said he was afraid “it would come out in the media that Richard was a quiet boy… It’s really bothering, because they could lie straight.”

“Ayaw kong maging hypocrite (I don’t want to be a hypocrite). Tinuturuan akong gumamit (He was teaching me to be a user),” he said.

The mother is also a user, Anthony said in Pilipino, adding that she would even ask her son to go to Sagada to get marijuana.

“I used to stay in their house, drugs are all over the place,” he said.

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RP STABLE: The Philippine economy is “reasonably healthy” despite the global slowdown and the recession dragging down the country’s major trading partners.

That is not an assessment by Malacanang, but by London-based Fitch Ratings maintaining its stable outlook for the Philippines. This means the Philippines stays at its current credit ratings until the next Fitch review.

Fitch rates the Philippines’ long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating at “BB.” It says the country’s long-term local currency IDR would be kept at “BB+”, while short-term foreign currency IDR would stay at “B” and the country ceiling at “BB+”.

Not the best ratings for a country situated like the Philippines, but still manageable within the context of local resources and foreign economic pressures.

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CONFIDENCE: “The Philippines is still reasonably healthy,” Fitch managing director James McCormack said days ago on TV. “Public finance is well-managed in the last couple of years.”

Reacting at the Tuesday Club forum at the EDSA Shangri-La, Gov. Amando Tetangco of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the stable outlook indicated Fitch’s confidence in the Philippines’ ability to weather the global crisis.

Tetangco said Fitch has validated the Bangko Sentral’s view that the country’s external position is resilient and healthy. He said this would boost investor confidence.

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NO RECESSION: The administration says the country is not expected to fall into a recession in 2009. Local critics mock this forecast saying that a slowdown is inevitable considering the crisis bedeviling major economies.

The government has not adequately explained to the man in the street what it means by “no recession.”

Summing up government statements, I get it that what is meant is that while development may slow down or fall below earlier (but now adjusted) targets, there will be no negative growth.

McCormack said that the Philippines, China and Indonesia are the only countries that are not in Fitch Ratings’ negative watch.

The Philippines’ reserves may not be as big as China’s but its external position is relatively strong. Tetangco said the country’s reserves stood at $36.2 billion as of November 2008 and that a buildup is expected this year.

The governor said the country’s external position would be robust because of continued remittances and sustained business process outsourcing.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 8, 2009)

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