Just like manicurist, GMA gardener gets sinecure

Just like manicurist, GMA gardener gets sinecure
GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star

Professionals among Malacañang’s housekeeping staff are outraged. Not only did Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appoint her personal manicurist to the board of trustees of Pag-IBIG Housing Fund. She also earlier named her gardener as deputy of the Luneta Park Administration. Both postings are improper sinecures, Palace aides murmur.

One insider feels disgust that beautician Anita Carpon and gardener Armando Macapagal were placed in positions in a departing admin. As Pag-IBIG trustee Carpon will make P130,000 a month in per diem, plus perks, for a fixed two-year term. Macapagal’s seat as Luneta deputy earns less. But his appointment can be as dubious if he and the President happen to be related. The Constitution and anti-graft laws prohibit government officials from appointing or transacting with kin.

Another source laments that the postings were made on the sly. Carpon was sneaked into the Pag-IBIG board along with three others after the terms of four trustees lapsed in recent weeks. But she was unable to join them in last week’s oath taking and first board meeting as she accompanied Arroyo to the US and Spain. Macapagal’s appointment surfaced only after Carpon’s hit the headlines (Gotcha, 19 Apr. 2010). A Palace reporter says the offices of Executive Sec. Larry Mendoza and Press Sec. Cris Icban are mum about the appointments, likely made during the election ban.

A third insider doubts the two appointees’ credentials. Macapagal supposedly landscapes Malacañang lawns but does not manage people. Carpon is not known for financial expertise to oversee the multibillion-peso housing mutual fund of all employees. Nicknamed Nitz, she is often scolded by Arroyo for mismatching presidential handbags and shoes.

In 2005 Arroyo named her personal dentist Leonor Rosero as head of the Professional Regulation Commission. Soon after, widespread cheating rocked the nursing licensure exams.

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Withdrawing from an automated teller machine, we don’t just rely on how much the ATM gives and receipts us. We manually count the cash — to check if it got our transaction right. The ATM is the electronic gadget we Filipinos are most familiar with. But on Election Day we 50.7 million voters will face for the first time the automated balloting machine. It will make the voting process faster, one in two voters say in polls, as the ATM does depositing or withdrawing. But we need to ascertain tally accuracy. That’s why info-tech experts’ idea of a parallel manual count (PMC) is catching on.

The Comelec and its Venezuelan automation supplier are against a PMC, conjuring the flimsiest excuses. They want us to blindly trust them to make a 99.995-percent accurate count. But how can we, when all they’ve shown are sinister alterations in the voting machine and process, and ill preparations for the big day.

The on-screen vote verification feature has been switched off, leaving us no way to check if the machine is scanning our votes right. The built-in reader of secret ultraviolet ballot marks has been shut off, riskily giving to precinct officers the job of verifying ballot authenticity. Ballot boxes have been altered from transparent to opaque, hiding the insides. Scuttled too are the precinct officials’ electronic signatures before transmitting tallies to canvassers, opening the count to fake transmissions. Nobody has read the machine’s source code. Comelec and Smartmatic refuse to show the study done by US certifier Systest Lab. They’re behind most schedules too. The machine conked out in one of 20 advanced voting sites in Hong Kong, for a 5-percent error rating. Meanwhile, Comelec is preoccupied with multimillion-peso rackets (Gotcha, 14 Apr. 2010).

The only way at this point to have credible results is thru PMC. In resisting it, Comelec and Smartmatic only fan suspicions of massive poll fraud in the offing.

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In Manila talk is rife that Malacañang wants ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan out of prison to assist in rigging election results. In Mindanao the suspicion is that Gloria Arroyo needs Ampatuan to fast break a second Memo of Agreement-Ancestral Domain. Arroyo reportedly believes she can buy immunity in America if she delivers this to a faction in Washington.

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Retrouvaille has helped many couples in marriage disillusionment or misery. It can help you too. Retrouvaille (pronounced re-tro-v_ with a long i, French for “rediscovery”) is a program designed to help troubled couples overcome failing relationships, so they can address communication breakdown and erosion of love, acceptance and trust.

Programs begin on weekends of April, June, July, August, October and November. For info on the program that starts April 23, call 02-8252605 for spouses Mar (0927-3153765) and Armi (0918-3833247); or spouses Mani (0917-8309255) and Fe (0918-9187670); or Fr. Dave Clay (0918-9020511). E-mail: retrouvaille.anti [email protected] Website: www. retrouvaille.org.

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It’s the show that happens only once every six years: “Presidentiables Gut Talent.” Inimitable Willie Nep impersonates candidates for the highest post in the land, on Friday, Apr. 23, 8:30 p.m., at Music Museum, Greenhills Mall, Metro Manila. For ticket reservations and free delivery: 0918-9054580.

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“You cannot be genuinely serious about life if you cannot see its light side.” Shafts of Light, Fr. Guido Arguelles, SJ

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E-mail: [email protected]

Karen Ang

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