POSTSCRIPT / August 1, 2013 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noy learning fairness in Ballsy’s public trial?

FACELESS ACCUSERS: Presidential sister Ballsy Aquino Cruz is wishing her accusers would come out in the open and formally charge her so she could defend herself properly and prove her innocence.

My guess is that her nameless and faceless tormentors will not dare come out. How can an accuser prove an alleged $30-million extortion in Prague when it never happened, and when the only objective is to smear her and, by extension, her president brother?

Ballsy will just have to live with the fact that some parties out to slap a big corruption case on President Noynoy Aquino – but cannot – are trying to get him by splashing dirt on people closest to him.

She is up against skillful spinmasters and a public that is ready to believe the worst said of most people in the political limelight. The more luscious the details the more the credulous are likely to lap it up.

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LATE AWAKENING: May this be a learning session, a wake-up call, for President Aquino who is snapping out only now, after three long years, from the combat mode of the bruising 2010 election campaign.

Mr. Aquino tarried too long on the election front. He allowed his vengeful allies and communication strategists to recklessly smear and convict in the public mind their political enemies with nary any solid evidence and despite the presumption of innocence.

The same cruel process is happening – undeserved — to Ballsy, the eldest in the very private brood that could only huddle together with their mother Cory without publicly shedding a tear when their father Ninoy was murdered right at the airport upon his return from exile in 1983.

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PLEADING INNOCENCE: “Sana naman yung nagsangkot sa amin ay lumabas na,” Ballsy pleaded Tuesday over GMA’s “Unang Hirit.”

She was referring to rumors spread by unidentified operators that she, her husband Eldon and others were extorting a bribe from Inekon, a Czech supplier of Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) coaches, when they went to Prague in 2011.

Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar, who has complained of an extortion attempt by officials of the Department of Transportation and Communication bidding out MRT equipment, has cleared Ballsy and her husband.

She has admitted going to Prague to accompany her husband. She said they decided to make the most of their visit to Europe by going to the Czech capital, staying there for two days.

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WHY PRAGUE?: Ballsy explained: “I have never been to Prague at yung kapatid kong si Pinky has been there, kasama ng Mom, and sinabi nga niya, naku kapag nagkaroon ka ng pagkakataon sana pumunta ka. Ang ganda, para makita mo yung Santo Niño. Ang gandang karanasan. We went there and I got my wish.”

She said in the interview that they did not meet with any official or businessman, nor were they welcomed by anyone at the airport. “Talagang mga turista kami doon,” she said.

Continuing, she said that when the Philippine ambassador in Prague found out about the trip, she lamented she was not able to welcome the President’s sister.

She said: “Naku marami pong salamat Mrs. Ambassador, (pero) sabi ko sa kanya alam ko isa yan sa mga sakit ng ulo ng mga ambassador, na ang mga Pinoy mahilig magpasundo. Thank you, thank you, pero ayaw na namin makadagdag pa sa inyong mga ginagawa.

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CREDIT TRAP: Those upgrades granted by foreign credit rating outfits – and of which the Aquino administration boasts – are like those pre-approved credit cards peddled in the malls by sales gofers.

The general idea in both mall and global schemes is to make the victim believe that his credit is super good. As his ego is expertly massaged, he is motivated to borrow, usually beyond his capacity to pay.

Later on, the victim looks around and asks “Wha happeng?” What happened is that he has been had. What happened is that he is sinking deeper into debt and has nothing to show for it.

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EMPOWERING TOOL: Something similar to the credit card game can be discerned in the Conditional Cash Transfer “pantawid” program of the government that releases P40 billion into the money stream annually through doles.

In a poverty-stricken country, money is the ultimate empowering tool. Put money in the hands of the poor and they are emboldened, no matter that those who are not ready for the windfall misuse it and miss the chance to improve their lot.

The conditions, such as sending their children to school and the women to the health centers, are laudable except that there is a kind of systems loss (to borrow a term used in electrical systems) that lowers the CCT’s efficiency and the cash’s efficacy.

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DON’T DOLE OUT CASH: Most of the millions of CCT recipients are not even aware, or even care, that the money doled out to them was borrowed from global Shylocks who will have to exact their pound of flesh later.

After the P1,900-every-four-months is given to a poor family, does it leave improvements in the quality of their lives or a measurable perk in the economy? Or is it mostly money down the drain as shown by widespread poverty?

Sorry to say it, but we doubt if it is wise to give Filipinos cash directly as doles.

Much of the money – minus 30 percent for administrative costs and 15 percent for corruption — is likely to go elsewhere without long-term improvement in the life of the poor, without making them productive and ultimately self-reliant.

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WHAT GROWTH?: No wonder Pulse Asia said after its last nationwide poll survey that despite the recent economic gains claimed by the administration, four out of every 10 Filipinos believe that the economy has not improved over that of last year.

In the survey conducted from June 20 to July 4, some 43 percent of respondents said the economy has not changed year-on-year. That was the plurality view held in Metro Manila (48 percent), the rest of Luzon (50 percent) and in classes ABC and D (42 percent to 48 percent).

The views given do not match the glowing picture drawn with government statistics, which are picked up by foreign and global agencies, showing that the Philippine economy grew by 7.8 percent in the first quarter compared to the same short period last year.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 1, 2013)

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