POSTSCRIPT / June 30, 2009 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Milking sequestered companies, made easy

NO TO COMPUTERS: Just as we are poised to plunge into full automation for the 2010 national elections, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled last March 3 that the use of voting computers is unconstitutional (to them).

Elections must be understandable by everyone without any special knowledge, the court said as it declared the constitutional principle of public voting being a fundamental requirement for democratic elections.

The court said that a speedy count is not a requirement for democratic elections. Comprehensible and secret votes are the core of the system whose integrity is eroded by the use of voting machines, it added.

It must be possible, it said, for people without technical knowledge to trace and understand the complete voting process. Elections must never be removed from the direct control of the voter and entrusted to machines, the court said.

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HELPLESSNESS: Reports of junketing officials of the Presidential Commission on Good Government has drawn public rebuke. At the same time, however, we sense a hint of helplessness. It is as if people expect nothing by way of a PCGG revamp.

This air of skepticism bordering on resignation is bound to set in. There is a widespread impression that President Arroyo has lost her moral ascendancy over corrupt and inept subordinates.

It is dismaying how and why the President seems oblivious of the stink around her. If she is aware of the mess, what is keeping her from acting on it?

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TENTACLES: Our last Postscript citing records that PCGG chairman Camilo L. Sabio and Danilo M. Coronacion, president of the sequestered CIIF-Oil Mills Group, traveled abroad 50 times from 2006 to mid-2009 elicited outrage among readers.

Among them was a reader claiming to have inside information on PCGG tentacles strangling many sequestered firms. He said in an email:

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OPERANDI: “Your information on the junkets of those two world travelers is fairly accurate.

“Corporate travel guidelines allow for their positions to ‘net’ approximately $300/day. Those are the no-need-to-liquidate per diem allowed by guidelines, but what they normally do is for the US office, Granex, USA, and UCPI in Paris, to shoulder all the expenses. What goes into their pockets normally can fetch around $500/day.

“The losses you mentioned of around P1.5 billion (in the Oil-Mill group of six firms) are precisely because these PCGG officials were never really involved in, nor did they understand, operating coconut oil mills.

“Remember, copra is a traded commodity where you need trained and experienced people to run the show.

“At the same time, Coronacion was busy putting up those so-called copra farmers groups, but in reality he was setting up a party list called A Copra for his political ambitions.”

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KAPIT TUKO: Our correspondent continues: “Both Sabio and Coronacion have no sense of revenue, but seem to focus only in spending.

“They are the remnants of the ‘original’ appointees by President Arroyo under then Secretary Nonong Cruz while he was still presidential legal adviser. They have held on to their posts even if Nonong Cruz has left GMA, and Jess Arranza has already been appointed to replace Coronacion.

“Another holdover is Helen Osias, quietly staying as director of UCPI in Paris and Granex, USA, and also the UCPB Foundation.

“Another company under the CIIF is Cocochem, on the verge of collapse. Watch that firm under Carlito S. Puno, former chairman of the Commission on Higher Education.”

(There are other sequestered firms where the President had “appointed” (given “I desire…” letters) officers, but the old appointees have refused to budge. There seems to be two Palace camps in a tug-of-war over money-making firms. – fdp)

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INFOMERCIALS: A militant group of state workers has joined the clamor for officials aspiring for a national office to resign and stop using public funds to advertise and project themselves.

The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees deplored that the officials’ infomercials flooding the media are being financed by the people’s money.

The group assailed the infomercials of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chairman Efraim Genuino, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority head Augusto Syjuco.

Another reader denounced the extravagance in a college with a campus in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati, and a bigger one in Los Baños. It is owned, he said, by the head of a cash-rich state firm advertising heavily for the elections.

“We are just talking of his school,” the reader said. “You should see how he throws away millions like it sprouts like grass on gambling tables.”

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ALCARAZ, 93: Remember Commodore Ramon Alcaraz who was taken into custody during Marcosian martial rule for mounting a canon on his balcony allegedly in the direction of Malacañang? He died June 25 in Orange County, California, at age 93.

A 1940 pioneer graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Alcaraz was promoted on the spot and decorated personally in January 1942 by Gen. Douglas MacArthur for heroism and gallantry. He had shot down three Japanese dive bombers as captain of a torpedo boat on Manila Bay.

In 1965, he rose to commodore, the highest navy rank. When Marcos relieved him summarily as fleet commander the next year, he raised an issue of honor. The furor triggered a congressional investigation that cleared him. After retirement, he and his wife Conching established the Commodore Drug chain.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 30, 2009)

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