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The Last Man in RP

February 16, 2008

AT least two indispensable parties have spoken after the appearance of Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada as star witness to the controversial and scandal-filled NBN (National Broadband) Network Deal between the Philippines and ZTE Corp. of China.

The one party is the public itself represented by nameless, faceless and voiceless citizens who are already tired of the systematic, official, and bureaucratic corruption in the country, and the shameless, brazen and unscrupulous culture of venality that had deeply consumed those in power. At least 20,000 outraged protesters, according to the estimate of rally organizers, composed mainly of ordinary citizens and a few politicians gathered at the country’s financial district in Makati City on February 15, a day after Valentine’s Day, to collectively express their indignation over and discontent to the embattled regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and to demand for president’s immediate resignation.

The theme of the rally— “Tama na, sobra na, kilos na”— was adapted by the rally organizers as the spirit of the struggle for it encapsulates the collective feeling and indignation of the public. Like Sleeping Beauty’s magical incantation, it brings the people deep in slumber back to life. And like wounded warriors in a battle, kilos na sends them back on their feet to fight the evil empire of the Dark Queen.

The other party, on the other hand, is none other than the number one squatter in the country, particularly in Malacañang, who’s not yet off the hook in the Hello, Garci controversy, in the ongoing NBN Deal hearing, in the kidnapping of Lozada, among others.

For the first time since Lozada appeared at a Senate hearing on February 8, Ms Arroyo broke her silence on the bilateral deal characterized by the unscrupulous abuse of power and authority and multi-billion dollar payoff that implicated her husband, former Comelec Commission Benjamin Abalos and other top officials close to her.

Speaking before members of the business sector, the somber-looking Arroyo rejected the calls of her critics and assured the public that she’s going to “take the ZTE issue very seriously.”

Let us put aside partisan wrangling, as candidates jockey for the presidency,” she said. “We want to fight corruption.”

She also mentioned, among others, the following:

  • I moved quickly to cancel the project

  • I have given clearance to the Secretary of Justice to investigate those [who were implicated in the NBN deal]

  • I trust that the Ombudsman will investigate these issues thoroughly

These are just some of her byzantine assurances which, on their imports, lay bare what kind of government and justice system we have in our country today.

Is mere cancellation of a contract or deal (take your pick) enough notwithstanding that it was heavily attended by multi-million dollar bribery, abuse of authority, and an attempt to defraud the taxpayers and to bilk the government out of billions of pesos of taxes?

The import of Gloria’s “cancel” statement also seeks to “cancel” the conscience of the people. As President, what is the right and proper thing to do if informed that one top public “muchacho” is trying to bamboozle the people? Would you say “ignore him but approve the project”? That’s exactly what the President ordered former Economic Planning Sec. Romulo Neri when the latter told his boss about the new-found job (brokering a multi-million dollar deal for a multi-million dollar kickback) of Abalos.

Does the President need to give “clearance” to DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzales to investigate the people involved in the bribery-riddled deal? Does the rewarding job of Gonzales not require “sound discretion”? If the loony Secretary of [in]justice still needs some prodding before he does his job, then it only confirms that he really is one big “muchacho”. I’m surprised that the Secretary of Justice still has to wait for the marching orders of the President before moving his ass. If that’s the case then we have to change the noble-sounding title “Secretary of Justice to “Secretary of Injustice” for flagrant the failure to give due justice to the constitutionally created office. Anyway, it’s just a misnomer.

Same with the Ombudsman who is sitting on the corruption charges against public officials close to the President. Didn’t you notice events that took place before the presidential speech? Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierez, a friend of the President and a former classmate of FG Mike Arroyo in Ateneo Law School, earlier announced that her office had already summoned the first gentleman and his ilk. Obviously synchronized, isn’t it?

We have witnessed the farce, the synchronized and the disgusting parade of Malacañang boys and their small-time muchacos during the senate investigation in aid of legislation. All of them— Iggie Bunye, Sergio Apostol, Ronnie Puno, Lito Atienza, and Mike Defensor, backed by all the powers and the scarce resources of the state, joined forces against Jun Lozada,who have chosen to do public penance for his sins when he was still with the Arroyo government. And his honest confession is now being used by the sanctimonious Arroyo regime to harass and intimidate him. One example of this official and brazen harassment is that “raid” made by the NBI on the former office of the NBN star witness.

When you confess, confess all—so the public will have all the sympathy to forgive you. But when Gloria said her robotic “I… Am… Sorry…” she stubbornly refused to confess her Hello, Garci sins. For her, sorry is enough to fool the people.

We have to investigate Lozada to prove that there are no sacred cows here, said Malacañang palace. Does that mean that Abalos, who wasted billions of public money in the junked poll automation project, who allegedly engineered Hello, Garci”, and who said “Sec, may 200 (million) ka dito, is innocent? Does this mean that we have to forget and forgo the country’s new alphabet— ABZTEFG?

What kind of crappy government we have?

This ZTE deal really is a continuing crime. From “back off” to “Sec, May 200 ka dito” to “moderate their greed” to Lozada’s “police protection” aka kidnapping or abduction (take your pick) to Apostol’s racist “deport” comment to Gloria’s “fight for corruption” order. The harder you conceal a crime, the more crimes to be committed. A lie may only be covered by creating tons of lies.

As what Joey De Venecia said, it all started in the dark offices of our greedy officials where they conspired to enter into a deal that would give them undeserved profits. They talked of millions of dollars of kickbacks to be paid out of the taxes of the Filipino people. And this was hatched amid extreme poverty which takes on over 10 million Filipinos who live on just one dollar a day.

But things changed when a losing bidder exposed the scam. Now those same people, mad and furious for not being able to realize the fruit of their greed, are sending all the state’s police and fascistic powers to those who threaten to expose the truth.

They have resorted to death threats, wire-tapping, surveillance operations, scare tactics, kidnapping, lying, obstruction of justice, falsification of documents, etc. Millions of public money have been wasted by the Arroyo regime only to suppress the truth and to perpetuate the reign of lies and impunity.

Worse, they are using state agents who did not even benefit from the immoral deal just to protect Gloria, Mike Arroyo, Abalos and their ilk. Ironically, they are using the services of the very same people whom Gloria deprived of housing benefits diverted to the NBN deal.

Just recently, another well-brewed script was announced by the hubris of Arroyo regime. This time about an attempt to assassinate Gloria and her heavy-weight husband.

I say— let her and her husband die— for it is better to see them dead than to let this nation die an Orwellian death.

It is better to have Lozada— the last “man” in these parts— than to have legions of corrupt officials.

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