Wednesday, 16 March 2011 22:46
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa should know the whole world considers graft and corruption the most debilitating problem of poor nations like the Philippines. The evil underlies poverty and its debilitating effects of malnutrition, economic stagnation, joblessness, and undermines the rule of law causing high rates of criminality.
With the DOJ overwhelmed by common criminal cases and the Ombudsman in a state of inutility, PCGG’s the only agency now to give meaning to P-Noy’s campaign slogan “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Thus, U.S. Filipinos for the first time in memory are committed to support PCGG with Pamusa’s legal resources against graft and corruption to spur the transnational enforcement of U.S. laws by virtue of the UNCAC and help restore the people’s diminishing confidence in P-Noy that the slogan isn’t just for car sticker.
However, the news that Ochoa gave the go-signal with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s concurrence to abolish the PCGG is in and itself equivalent to graft and corrupt act. To hide Ochoa’s perfidy he cited Chairman Andy Bautista’s recommendation who was perhaps asked to submit it to abolish the commission.
At the very least, Ochoa’s action is the most glaring proof of his inexperience in political-economy governance and utter lack of economic perspective. If Ochoa were a military commander in war, he should be tried for aiding and abetting the Filipino people’s enemy, e.g. the Marcoses, Arroyos, etc. explained below. Ochoa’s actions are at least condemnable and could be disastrous to the administration.
President Obama’s advisers who’re not just lawyers but PhD’s in economics but are as inexperienced in the real world as Ochoa and De Lima. Obama’s top advisers have stepped down after Obama realized he couldn’t blame former President Bush anymore for the sad state of the U.S. economy as P-Noy can’t blame GMA for the resurgence of graft and corruption. Rather than hold unemployment Obama’s advisers projected won’t go over 8% it’s averaged over 9% in the last 24 months and 17% if those who gave up looking for work were counted. Obama’s job approval rating in March is 37% down 10% from a month ago among independents that will decide whether he’d be reelected or not while his disapproval rating is 64%. He knows the rising gas prices due to unrest in the Middle East and the Democratic Party’s left that oppose drilling for domestic oil may’ve put Obama is on track as one-term president like Jimmy Carter.
P-Noy should’ve realized by now that trusting a friend like Ochoa in a powerful position doesn’t excise his human nature for quick-money aggrandizement when millions of pesos are within reach by a stroke of his pen. For the sake of the Filipino people, Ochoa and perhaps De Lima should be replaced ASAP. Their knee-jerk reaction to abolish the PCGG after the Supreme Court’s adverse ruling on the Philippine Truth Commission doesn’t speak well of their temperament in their powerful positions. More so after former CA Justice Magtanggol Elma rendered an opinion the PCGG could do the tasks to investigate graft and corruption beyond the Marcos regime up to the present, thus making PTC a redundancy Ochoa and De Lima failed to see.
They’re the highest presidential advisers who should’ve seen through the truth commission’s constitutional infirmity. Their lack of experience and foresight crafting presidential issuances with the force of law shown in earlier P-Noy’s EOs that became like yoyos are the more reason they should resign or be fired.
On top of it, Ochoa’s didn’t actually have a good record as QC administrator prior to his appointment as “Little President.” He accepted as a gift a share of Quezon City Sports Club valued at PhP170,000 that happened to be mine that the club illegally and arbitrarily foreclosed for my delinquent member’s dues when I was on leave in America for six years. I learned about it when I came home as a member of the US-Pinoys for Noynoy and Mar delegation to attend the President’s inauguration. I wanted to sue the club but deferred it not to embarrass Ochoa and make him one of the defendants akin to acquiring a stolen personal property which my stock is. I asked Ochoa’s law partner Joseph Tan to intervene that if the club would pay me the stock price of PhP170,000 we’d all forget what happened. I left Manila last October and no word has been heard from Tan.
Recalling that the letter “M” in Ochoa’s law office acronym “MOST” stands for Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ wife, Louise Araneta-Marcos, I began thinking could it be a reason that Ochoa wanted to abolish the PCGG. Undoubtedly, the biggest beneficiaries if PCGG were abolished and the search and recovery of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth completely stop would be Imelda Marcos, her children and brother, Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, whose personal net worth last year was $101 million according to Forbes Magazine. For people to believe that Kokoy has honestly amassed his said net worth, people would also believe I’m the Pope.
A Pamusa informant clipped Ramon Tulfo’s PDI column accusing then PCGG commissioner Ricardo Abcede of blowing millions of pesos in a Pagcor casino nightly. The informant said Abcede was bankrolled by because of protection of the Marcoses and Romualdezes from PCGG in an alleged deal with GMA. A corollary allegation speaks of a deal GMA and Imelda entered into, i.e. the former president protecting the Marcoses and Romualdezes from PCGG in exchange for a piece of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth on which GMA piggybacked her own illicit assets. The truth is much of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth was legitimately invested in the U.S. and other corruption havens long before American anticorruption laws and the UNCAC took effect. This might also be an agreement of GMA with Lucio Tan, Henry, John Gokongwei, Roberto Ongpin and others tainted with Marcos’ behest favors.
Is it any wonder therefore that with the possible exception of Marcos’ PLDT stock that Tonyboy Cojuangco’s family turned over to the PCGG, no significant amount of ill-gotten wealth was recovered by the commission during GMA’s 9-year presidency?
I recalled a spate happened between Ochoa and De Lima early in P-Noy’s administration after she replaced Abcede as PCGG commissioner who Ochoa insisted should hold over as acting chairman. Could Bongbong and his wife have made a deal with Ochoa on the PCGG’s abolition? The Marcoses and Romualdezes are willing to share their ill-gotten wealth if this were freed from a more effective government search and recovery. It may also be recalled that GMA and Mike Arroyo were cocky of proudly claiming they had no illicit assets in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Most probably the Arroyos were really able to piggyback their own illicit assets on the Marcoses’ and Romualdezes’ ill-gotten wealth. Not anymore, though, because the PCGG with Pamusa’s legal advisers can now invoke U.S. laws and use the latest anticorruption tools in tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of ill-gotten wealth under the UNCAC’s international cooperation provisions (UNCAC-ICP); the 2008 OECD agreement on tax matters embodied in RA 10021 empowering the BIR to exchange tax information with its tax treaty partners to help combat international tax evasion and avoidance and to help address tax concerns that affect international trade and investment; the 2009 G20 London Summit that declared the end of bank secrecy, and the U.S. National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy.
Finally, U.S. Filipino lawyers recommend that the President create an interagency anticorruption team (the “TEAM”) among the justice and finance departments, BIR, BOC, BSP, Anti-Money Laundering Council, NBI, etc. and provide PCGG with revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of EO No. 1, Series of 1986, as another tribute to his mother to realize her dream of stopping graft and corruption or at least minimize it by including in the IRR Sec. 10 of EO No. 1, Series of 2010, creating the PTC.
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