Explaining the inexplicable

“He tried to explain the sources of that fund….He said he had business, business, etc. etc…. There was no specific mention….” —Gen. Narciso Abaya (Ret.), former Armed Forces chief of staff, on former AFP comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia (Ret.)

Pepito was ranting about President Aquino’s Porsche. He was comparing it to Gloria Arroyo’s million-peso dinner at Le Cirque.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Pepito, but the comparison does not hold,” I told him. “The Porsche came out of Noynoy’s pocket, while the Le Cirque dinner came out of yours. And mine.”

Pepito persisted, “But it shows the inability of Noynoy to transcend his social origins and to feel the sufferings of a majority of his people.”

“Get off your bleeding heart, high horse. If you had his money you would buy an effing Porsche faster than Willie Revillame’s pot-bellied dancers can say, ‘Whaan-dher-fhool, Fhaa-byoh-loos!’”

So Pepito transferred his rage to the plea bargain of General Garcia, “What kind of judicial system do we have? I feel sorry for our country.”

“Actually, I feel sorrier for the general,” I said.

“He’s getting away with plunder and you’re sorry for him?”

“Yes. I think he got screwed.”

“You’re nuts.”

“No, I’m not. Garcia ended up admitting to bribery and money laundering, in addition to turning over P135 million to the government. How crazy is that?”

“He was facing plunder charges and he plea-bargained to lesser offenses and kept half his loot, that’s how crazy,” Pepito replied.

“Excuse me but didn’t the prosecutors admit they had a weak case against Garcia? Didn’t they say they had no proof beyond reasonable doubt?”

“That’s their excuse,” he replied, convinced there was never any intention to go after Garcia. “There were bigger fishes that wanted the case closed,” he added.

I agreed but I was more concerned about poor General Garcia.

“How could his lawyer not have known the prosecution’s case was weak, didn’t he read the charge sheet? Didn’t he see they had no documentary evidence and no witnesses against his client? His lawyer sold him out.”

“And how is Garcia going to prove that?” Pepito asked.

“By calling the special prosecutors as witnesses. By making special prosecutor Capistrano testify that he told the press, ‘We are not supposed to say this [admit the prosecution’s case is weak] because General Garcia could have us killed. He could say, ‘Linoko nyo ako.’”

I added that the other prosecutors said basically the same thing. “So Garcia’s lawyer is the one who should be worried about being killed because he had a slam dunk on a ‘not guilty’ verdict but he settled for a plea bargain that cost his client P135 million.”

“Are you out of your mind?”

“No, the prosecutors could be right, maybe Garcia did not plunder.”

“You have lost your mind,” Pepito concluded.

I teased Pepito some more, “What if you woke up one day and found hundreds of millions in your bank account and prime real estate in America in your name but you had no clue as to how they got there? You would do the logical thing, you would hide them to avoid explaining the unexplainable.”

“That’s preposterous!” he exclaimed.

“But that’s exactly what the prosecutors meant when they said evidence of wealth is not evidence of plunder. And that’s why they said accepting Garcia’s plea bargain for money laundering was the best option.”

“You expect me to buy that cockamamie reason?”

“No, but they do.”

“What about the bribery plea, did Garcia admit to taking or giving a bribe? And, in either case, who was the other party, or parties, involved; how much was exchanged and for what, why not look into that?”

“You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?”

“Of course! And to prosecute….”

“Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.”

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • on corruption: it can’t be eradicated, the world’s best democracies are riddled with it too.
    what we need to do is to make it a low-return, HIGH-RISK activity.
    Unfortunately for PH, it’s high-return, low-risk.

  • on corruption: it can’t be eradicated, the world’s best democracies are riddled with it too.
    what we need to do is to make it a low-return, HIGH-RISK activity.
    Unfortunately for PH, it’s high-return, low-risk.

  • on corruption: it can’t be eradicated, the world’s best democracies are riddled with it too.
    what we need to do is to make it a low-return, HIGH-RISK activity.
    Unfortunately for PH, it’s high-return, low-risk.

    • rego

      so do you think PNoy or most of the elected official knows this?

  • Anonymous

    In my opinion, Pilipinas gets served better if there are two laws in place.

    The first one is FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL so that a Filipino citizen who wants information on an action by a government office or by a government official has the law behind him so that the information is provided to the citizen.

    The next one is mandatory-reporting (by members of Congress, by UseCs, Cabinet Secretaries, by the Vice President and President, and by justices of the Supreme Court). Every Pilipinas high government official should be required to report within 45 days the details when the official obtains an asset worth one million pesos or more. Pilipinas needs a law to do this. I mean, just look at Presi-Noynoy, son of a former President // keeps on repeating the mantra transparency in governance, but PresiNoynoy refuses to provide the name of the person or the company who was the Porsche previous owner.

    Law is needed. So when BongBong as next President is seen driving a 2-year old Range Rover (or maybe Binay becomes next President) no more of this talking-talking-logorrhea and the President only has to say that he has provided the details to Office-So-and-So and people can request information via FOIA.

  • Anonymous

    In my opinion, Pilipinas gets served better if there are two laws in place.

    The first one is FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL so that a Filipino citizen who wants information on an action by a government office or by a government official has the law behind him so that the information is provided to the citizen.

    The next one is mandatory-reporting (by members of Congress, by UseCs, Cabinet Secretaries, by the Vice President and President, and by justices of the Supreme Court). Every Pilipinas high government official should be required to report within 45 days the details when the official obtains an asset worth one million pesos or more. Pilipinas needs a law to do this. I mean, just look at Presi-Noynoy, son of a former President // keeps on repeating the mantra transparency in governance, but PresiNoynoy refuses to provide the name of the person or the company who was the Porsche previous owner.

    Law is needed. So when BongBong as next President is seen driving a 2-year old Range Rover (or maybe Binay becomes next President) no more of this talking-talking-logorrhea and the President only has to say that he has provided the details to Office-So-and-So and people can request information via FOIA.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      FOI is something we can agree on.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      FOI is something we can agree on.

  • Anonymous

    In my opinion, Pilipinas gets served better if there are two laws in place.

    The first one is FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL so that a Filipino citizen who wants information on an action by a government office or by a government official has the law behind him so that the information is provided to the citizen.

    The next one is mandatory-reporting (by members of Congress, by UseCs, Cabinet Secretaries, by the Vice President and President, and by justices of the Supreme Court). Every Pilipinas high government official should be required to report within 45 days the details when the official obtains an asset worth one million pesos or more.

    So when BongBong as next President is seen driving a 2-year old Range Rover (or maybe Binay becomes next President) no more of this talking-talking-logorrhea and the President only has to say that he has provided the details to Office-So-and-So and people can request information via FOIA.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      FOI is something we can agree on.

  • Bert

    Sure, we’re not sure Noynoy paid for the Porsche with his own money.

    And, we’re not sure GMA’s Le Cirque dinner was paid from our money.

    And, we can’t be sure Gen. Garcia stole our money.

    And we can’t even be sure whether GMA is a crook.

    Therefore, I agree with GabbyD. That’s why, me and the Filipino people better shut up. Better to have no opinion, no perception, if we can’t be sure.

    But, who could have the most probability of guilt…Noynoy? GMA? Gen. Garcia?

    Naaaah, I’m not saying anything, because I’m not sure.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t Pinoys-in-Pinas ask audits and verifications when its high government officials obtain high-value assets? Should it not be that when a high government official obtains an asset (condominium, land, SUV or car, Patek-Phillippe, etc) with value of P3,000,000 or more, then that particular government official is required to submit an audit-trail of the transaction(s) to the Lacierda-Truth-Comm-Office or Ombudsman-Special-Audits-Office or the CBCP-Accounting-Office or to a hydra headed kangaroo court headed by Conrado-de-Quiros, Manuel Buencamino and Walden Bello? The trick (in my opinion) is to catch the corruption before the plunder-amount exceeds P10-million. Catching corrupt high-government officials with their first SUV or first house-and-lot should be the goal before the official begins to mouth the sentences “… eh panahon ko na, hindi ba? Kailan ko pa gagawin, kapag matanda na ako at wala na ako sa gobyerno? What are we in power for? Lumulusot naman pala, eh di ulitin one more time!”

    • Anonymous

      Don’t Pinoys-in-Pinas ask audits and verifications when its high government officials obtain high-value assets? Should it not be that when a high government official obtains an asset (condominium, land, SUV or car, Patek-Phillippe, etc) with value of P3,000,000 or more, then that particular government official is required to submit an audit-trail of the transaction(s) to the Lacierda-Truth-Comm-Office or Ombudsman-Special-Audits-Office or the CBCP-Accounting-Office or to a hydra headed kangaroo court headed by Conrado-de-Quiros, Manuel Buencamino and Walden Bello? The trick (in my opinion) is to catch the corruption before the plunder-amount exceeds P10-million. Catching corrupt high-government officials with their first SUV or first house-and-lot should be the goal before the official begins to mouth the sentences “… eh panahon ko na, hindi ba? Kailan ko pa gagawin, kapag matanda na ako at wala na ako sa gobyerno? What are we in power for? Lumulusot naman pala, eh di ulitin one more time!”

      • Manuelbuencamino

        “Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?”

        Eh di hindi nga ba natumbok ko kung ano ang inuutos ng big fish sa mga dilis?

        “You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?” #

        “Of course! And to prosecute….” #

        “Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.” #

      • Manuelbuencamino

        “Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?”

        Eh di hindi nga ba natumbok ko kung ano ang inuutos ng big fish sa mga dilis?

        “You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?” #

        “Of course! And to prosecute….” #

        “Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.” #

      • Anonymous

        USA law — when President-USA (or even Vice President, Secretary of State or any Cabinet official or even a secretary at USA’s Manila or Karachi embassy) when USA employee receives a gift (say, from FRAPORT or from a Saudi businessman or from a Malaysian civil engineering form), to report the transactions. The gift is USA property when the gift is worth more than $250.00.

        And if there is no Pilipinas law to that effect, then Presi-Noynoy was wrong when he said last year that Pilipinas has too many laws already.

        Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman. I-volunteer na kaagad para madali. Wala namang itinatago, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Since you edited your previous comment, I will repost my reply para it addressed your point.

          “Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?”

          Eh di hindi nga ba natumbok ko sa post ko kung ano ang inuutos ng big fish sa mga dilis?

          “You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?” #

          “Of course! And to prosecute….” #

          “Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.” #

          • Anonymous

            And then, of course, a few Pinoys would say “… Hah, investigation of the new administration??? Unahin muna ang mga nangyari noong administrasyon ni Gloria bago ibaling ang mga imbestigasyon sa bagong administrasyon.

            First come, first served… heh heh heh…. hindi ba ganoon dapat?!!!

          • Anonymous

            And then, of course, a few Pinoys would say “… Hah, investigation of the new administration??? Unahin muna ang mga nangyari noong administrasyon ni Gloria bago ibaling ang mga imbestigasyon sa bagong administrasyon.

            First come, first served… heh heh heh…. hindi ba ganoon dapat?!!!

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Since you edited your previous comment, I will repost my reply para it addressed your point.

          “Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?”

          Eh di hindi nga ba natumbok ko sa post ko kung ano ang inuutos ng big fish sa mga dilis?

          “You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?” #

          “Of course! And to prosecute….” #

          “Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.” #

      • Anonymous

        USA law — when President-USA (or even Vice President, Secretary of State or any Cabinet official or even a secretary at USA’s Manila or Karachi embassy) when USA employee receives a gift (say, from FRAPORT or from a Saudi businessman or from a Malaysian civil engineering form), to report the transactions. The gift is USA property when the gift is worth more than $250.00.

        And if there is no Pilipinas law to that effect, then Presi-Noynoy was wrong when he said last year that Pilipinas has too many laws already.

        Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman. I-volunteer na kaagad para madali. Wala namang itinatago, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?

  • Bert

    Sure, we’re not sure Noynoy paid for the Porsche with his own money.

    And, we’re not sure GMA’s Le Cirque dinner was paid from our money.

    And, we can’t be sure Gen. Garcia stole our money.

    And we can’t even be sure whether GMA is a crook.

    Therefore, I agree with GabbyD. That’s why, me and the Filipino people better shut up. Better to have no opinion, no perception, if we can’t be sure.

    But, who could have the most probability of guilt…Noynoy? GMA? Gen. Garcia?

    Naaaah, I’m not saying anything, because I’m not sure.

  • Bert

    Sure, we’re not sure Noynoy paid for the Porsche with his own money.

    And, we’re not sure GMA’s Le Cirque dinner was paid from our money.

    And, we can’t be sure Gen. Garcia stole our money.

    And we can’t even be sure whether GMA is a crook.

    Therefore, I agree with GabbyD. That’s why, me and the Filipino people better shut up. Better to have no opinion, no perception, if we can’t be sure.

    But, who could have the most probability of guilt…Noynoy? GMA? Gen. Garcia?

    Naaaah, I’m not saying anything, because I’m not sure.

    • Anonymous

      Is it not reasonable to ask even for a walang-corruption-country like PIlipinas that when a high government official obtains a piece of asset with value of P3,000,000 or more, then that particular government official is required to submit an audit-trail of the transaction(s) to the Lacierda-Truth-Comm-Office or Ombudsman-Special-Audits-Office or the CBCP-Accounting-Office or to a hydra headed kangaroo court headed by Conrado-de-Quiros, Manuel Buencamino and Bishop Lagdameo?.

      USA law — when President-USA (or even Vice President, Secretary of State or any Cabinet official or even a secretary at USA’s Manila or Karachi embassy) when USA employee receives a gift (say, from FRAPORT or from a Saudi businessman or from a Malaysian civil engineering form), to report the transactions. The gift is USA property when the gift is worth more than $250.00.

      • Manuelbuencamino

        “Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?”

        Eh di hindi nga ba natumbok ko kung ano ang inuutos ng big fish sa mga dilis?

        “You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?” #

        “Of course! And to prosecute….” #

        “Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.” #

      • Anonymous

        USA law — when President-USA (or even Vice President, Secretary of State or any Cabinet official or even a secretary at USA’s Manila or Karachi embassy) when USA employee receives a gift (say, from FRAPORT or from a Saudi businessman or from a Malaysian civil engineering form), to report the transactions. The gift is USA property when the gift is worth more than $250.00.

        And if there is no Pilipinas law to that effect, then Presi-Noynoy was wrong when he said last year that Pilipinas has too many laws already.

        Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Since you edited your previous comment, I will repost my reply para it addressed your point.

          “Pilipinas…. where there are a few people like Manuel Buencamino who would every so often ask — kung walang itinatago, eh di delikadesa lang naman, bakit hindi sabihin sa mga nagtatanong kung saan binili at ano nga ba ang detalya sa bayaran?”

          Eh di hindi nga ba natumbok ko sa post ko kung ano ang inuutos ng big fish sa mga dilis?

          “You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?” #

          “Of course! And to prosecute….” #

          “Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.” #

          • Anonymous

            And then, of course, a few Pinoys would say “… Hah, investigation of the new administration??? Unahin muna ang mga nangyari noong administrasyon ni Gloria bago ibaling ang mga imbestigasyon sa bagong administrasyon.

            First come, first served… heh heh heh…. hindi ba ganoon dapat?!!!

  • GabbyD

    ” while the Le Cirque dinner came out of yours. And mine.”

    how do we know this? di ba si suarez (or si romualdez?) ang nag bayad? may proof ka na public money ito?

  • GabbyD

    ” while the Le Cirque dinner came out of yours. And mine.”

    how do we know this? di ba si suarez (or si romualdez?) ang nag bayad? may proof ka na public money ito?

    • Manuelbuencamino

      You’re so right Gabby I can’t be sure that the Le Cirque bill was paid from public money.

      I am so sorry I did not presume that an honest man would spend a million pesos of his own hard earned money for the honor of dining with a crook and her cohorts.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      You’re so right Gabby I can’t be sure that the Le Cirque bill was paid from public money.

      I am so sorry I did not presume that an honest man would spend a million pesos of his own hard earned money for the honor of dining with a crook and her cohorts.

      • GabbyD

        “alleged” crook.

        i’m not partisan. i have no duck in this duck race. i just want to raise the level of political discourse in the country, and i’m exhorting people like you do up his game.

      • GabbyD

        “alleged” crook.

        i’m not partisan. i have no duck in this duck race. i just want to raise the level of political discourse in the country, and i’m exhorting people like you do up his game.

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Are you referring to my views on the Garcia plea bargain or to the criticisms on the Porsche?

          • GabbyD

            i referred 2 “alleged crook”

            i know i probably cant stop you from calling a person a criminal even if she hasnt been convicted of anything. to my knowledge, there isnt even a case anywhere.

          • GabbyD

            i referred 2 “alleged crook”

            i know i probably cant stop you from calling a person a criminal even if she hasnt been convicted of anything. to my knowledge, there isnt even a case anywhere.

          • Manuelbuencamino

            I prefer “unconvicted” to “alleged” if you insist on using qualifiers

          • Manuelbuencamino

            I prefer “unconvicted” to “alleged” if you insist on using qualifiers

          • Manuelbuencamino

            or if you insist on keeping “alleged” then I would say “notorious alleged crook”

          • Manuelbuencamino

            or if you insist on keeping “alleged” then I would say “notorious alleged crook”

          • GabbyD

            either is an improvement, a movement toward a more truthful characterization.

          • GabbyD

            either is an improvement, a movement toward a more truthful characterization.

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Are you referring to my views on the Garcia plea bargain or to the criticisms on the Porsche?

  • GabbyD

    ” while the Le Cirque dinner came out of yours. And mine.”

    how do we know this? di ba si suarez (or si romualdez?) ang nag bayad? may proof ka na public money ito?

    • Manuelbuencamino

      You’re so right Gabby I can’t be sure that the Le Cirque bill was paid from public money.

      I am so sorry I did not presume that an honest man would spend a million pesos of his own hard earned money for the honor of dining with a crook and her cohorts.

      • GabbyD

        “alleged” crook.

        i’m not partisan. i have no duck in this duck race. i just want to raise the level of political discourse in the country, and i’m exhorting people like you do up his game.

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Are you referring to my views on the Garcia plea bargain or to the criticisms on the Porsche?

          • GabbyD

            i referred 2 “alleged crook”

            i know i probably cant stop you from calling a person a criminal even if she hasnt been convicted of anything. to my knowledge, there isnt even a case anywhere.

          • Manuelbuencamino

            I prefer “unconvicted” to “alleged” if you insist on using qualifiers

          • Manuelbuencamino

            or if you insist on keeping “alleged” then I would say “notorious alleged crook”

          • GabbyD

            either is an improvement, a movement toward a more truthful characterization.

  • GabbyD

    how do we know it came out of his pocket?

    UPn is right — we cant be sure.

    i just hope that the people who are supposed to monitor these things are doing their jobs. i hope that the people in pnoy’s staff are submitting the right forms.

  • GabbyD

    how do we know it came out of his pocket?

    UPn is right — we cant be sure.

    i just hope that the people who are supposed to monitor these things are doing their jobs. i hope that the people in pnoy’s staff are submitting the right forms.

    • GabbyD

      coz if we arent sure. u shouldnt be using that as an argument.

    • GabbyD

      coz if we arent sure. u shouldnt be using that as an argument.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      “UPn is right — we cant be sure. ”

      “A constitutionally-safe entity like the Office of the Ombudsman…” – UPn

      Hilarious.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      “UPn is right — we cant be sure. ”

      “A constitutionally-safe entity like the Office of the Ombudsman…” – UPn

      Hilarious.

  • GabbyD

    how do we know it came out of his pocket?

    UPn is right — we cant be sure.

    i just hope that the people who are supposed to monitor these things are doing their jobs. i hope that the people in pnoy’s staff are submitting the right forms.

    • GabbyD

      coz if we arent sure. u shouldnt be using that as an argument.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      “UPn is right — we cant be sure. ”

      “A constitutionally-safe entity like the Office of the Ombudsman…” – UPn

      Hilarious.