DPWH

A Clear but Erroneous Message

In his second state of the nation address, President Aquino traded his old nuanced style in favor of a crisper, cleaner form of delivery, but was it accurate?

It was a speech aimed at the public rather than the pundits. In the past, when seeking to convey his mastery of a subject, Pres Aquino or PNoy would often get lost in the detail of the topic at hand. Whether it was in dealing with the security issues after the January bomb blast or whether it had to do with the specifics of his budget.

Not this time. It was not that his speech was short on specifics. In his nearly hour-long address, the president covered everything from our recent credit upgrades to the US State Department’s downgrading of us in their watchlist of countries involved in human-trafficking, from light monorail to mosquito larvae and coconut coils.

What distinguishes this speech from previous ones is the unifying theme that threaded the whole piece, which was the narrative concerning his crusade against corruption. The appropriately coined term “wang-wang mentality” (so called for the unauthorized use of wang-wangs or sirens symbolic of the sense of entitlement by the powerful enclaves of society) was used as a rhetorical device to sharpen the focus of his theme.

The president spoke of progress in this effort yielding tangible benefits to our economy. He noted the rise of stock prices, the reduction of our rice imports, the decline of poverty and the growth of employment. He attributed these developments to the changes he has made in the running of state agencies from the highy impervious public works department to the grandiosely caffeinated Philippine gaming corporation where he claimed wasteful spending was brought to heel.

Inconvenient Truths

Some analysts have pointed out that the improvement of rice production that led to a lower demand for imports came more as a result of better weather conditions than anything else, and that the reduction of poverty in April came after a jump in January. To this I might add, that the growth in employment is simply unremarkable given the past ten years, and that even with a slight decline in unemployment, the twin problems of high underemployment and low productivity (a result of lesser jobs being created in manufacturing) still prevails.

These of course are the nuances that I said were left out of the equation. These facts were conveniently swept away because they did not fit into the overarching narrative arc of the president’s speech, nor did it fit in with the upbeat “vibe” that he was trying to project.

If we look at the substance and purpose of the speech, which is supposedly the setting of the president’s legislative priorities, we find that in a speech of 5,989 words, the president devoted 116 of them to his proposed measures. That is about 1.9% of the text. He went through his proposals so quickly, that he even failed to give a proper justification for them or a rationale for how these priorities fit within his broad agenda.

No apologies

In a manner of speaking, this was a “no apologies” speech. The president did not report on the state of his much vaunted PPPs or public private partnerships which was the centerpiece of his first SONA, nor did he ask Congress to pursue legislation that would improve its implementation.

After pointing out that

(a)ccording to the BIR, we have around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers: lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe

he then failed to announce any reforms that would ensure a greater contribution of these privileged few to the national treasury in keeping with his no new taxes pledge which the Movement for Good Governance scored him poorly for.

The president also made no apologies for the slowdown of the economy in the first quarter of the year. Instead, he stuck to his narrative contrasting his righteous way with that of his predecessor. Buoyed by the recent string of whistle-blowers and his new-found ally in the newly designated Ombudsman, he did not hesitate to talk down the opposition or to entreat everyone to praise the “good deeds” of his government.

The president adeptly avoided confrontation with two important but some would say wayward institutions. Having bruised the egos of church leaders in the RH debate as well as the PCSO “cars for clergy” scandal, he diplomatically offered an olive branch to the Catholic bishops who were in the audience. He also made sure to gain the support of the military and the police through his procurement of defense assets and provision of low-cost housing.

He clearly did not want to get side-tracked from his simple narrative that his anti-corruption drive would bring about national development. He even found a way to weave the protection of our sovereignty to his good government agenda.

The need for nuance

The sharpening of the edges around this vision of a nation free of the wang-wang mentality and the personalization of this vision as pronounced by PNoy himself was crafted to appeal to the broader sections of his audience. The president was railing against the very government he led. He spoke as an outsider, as an insurgent much like the late former US president Ronald Reagan who saw it as his task to fight the menace of “big government” or more contemporaneously of British PM David Cameron who seeks to displace it with a “big society”.

If you agree with his thesis that corruption prevents growth, then there will be much in the SONA to cheer about. If on the other hand, you consider the empirical as well as historic evidence that corruption per se is not the culprit, but rather the lack of a coherent bureaucracy around a national development project, then you will recognize the effectiveness of myth-making in public speeches.

Indeed if you believe the former, then everything is fine and dandy. But if you believe the latter, then the lack of substance or clarity on how the government intends to reverse the dangerous trend in our employment mix through some kind of industry or tax policy with the stalling of the government’s major investment strategy means that when the favorable conditions turn sour, as they most certainly will, we are in for a rude awakening somewhere down the track.

One of the best public speakers in his day was George W Bush. He was able to rally his people behind a clean, crisp message against the “evil doers”. He left the incovenient truths and nuances of intelligence out of public debate. Ten years later, we find the repercussions both strategically and economically of this form of “messaging” that have mired his country in a highly polarized debate over the national debt.

The need to speak clearly is one thing, but the need to speak more factually is another. Hopefully in the future, the president’s communications and strategy team will be able to craft a message that marries the two.

DPWH launches online presence

I was reading the newspaper earlier and a DPWH ad caught my eye. The Department of Public Works and Highways has launched a campaign for the public to track the department’s accountability and transparency. Through its website, DPWH will regularly publish monthly status of infrastructure projects. I tried accessing the website but it’s down (they should work on that particular infrastructure) but if you want to check it yourself, here’s how:

  1. Go to http://www.dpwh.gov.ph
  2. Click on the “INFRASTRUCTURE” button and access the desired project information per region

Parallel to this, the agency set up its presence in social media.

Facebook – DPWH Central Office

Twitter – @dpwhco

SMS – Text them at 2920

There’s also the more traditional Hotline number (536-3477 and 302-9196).

I applaud DPWH’s efforts in ridding its image of being a hotpot of graft and corruption. Maybe by this transparency campaign it will remain in PNoy’s “Daang Matuwid.”

More jobs seen in 4th quarter

More jobs seen in 4th quarter
By Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Here’s good news for jobseekers.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday assured that employment opportunities are brighter for jobseekers with the coming holiday season.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said various industries are expected to hire more workers in the last three months of the year as commercial establishments nationwide prepare for Christmas.

Even poor but deserving students who are on Christmas vacation can work temporarily in various business firms and government offices nationwide as provided under the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES).

Employers will pay 60 percent of the students’ minimum wage while the government would shoulder the remaining 40 percent. The working students are also entitled to other benefits and privileges under the Labor Code.

Republic Act 9547 or the SPES Amendatory Law was passed last year to encourage employers engaged in small and medium enterprises to hire poor but deserving students so they will have the opportunity to earn more during vacation.

The labor chief said the government is also working to strengthen the agriculture sector as part of efforts to generate more local employment for Filipinos.

According to Baldoz, the government’s job promotion program is now starting to yield positive results as the country posted a lower unemployment rate in July.

Baldoz said they expect the unemployment rate to drop further in the coming months.

She added that the DOLE is closely coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the implementation of various construction projects that could also generate employment for Filipinos next year.

A Shadow of Doubt

photo from dpwh.gov.ph

Once again, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson is the subject of a controversy. According to the Sunday edition of Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sec. Singson pushed for a water concession deal between Maynilad and Pagcor, when it was still headed by another controversial figure Efraim Genuino. The said deal would have deprived MWSS of P3.6 billion in concession fees, the amount would have been enough to wipe out MWSS’s P2.5 billion debt.

When PDI asked Singson for a comment, he texted that “there was ‘nothing irregular’ with the agreement between Maynilad and Pagcor, and that the latter merely wanted to make sure [its] investors have water.” If the investors have been monitoring the state of our water shortage problems this past couple of weeks, they probably would have pulled out from the deal.

I urge our President PNoy to reconsider his appointment of Rogelio Singson as DPWH Secretary. Fine, let’s give him the benefit of a doubt. Maybe the MWSS Board of Trustees wants payback for the expose on them during the first SONA. There was also that incident when he declared to then MWSS Chair Claudio that President Aquino agreed to his request to replace Claudio as MWSS Chair and we later find out his declaration was false. Still, Secretary Singson’s reputation is tainted. If PNoy wants everyone of us to walk the path of ang daang matuwid, we should not allow even a single appointee to have a charater na baluktot.

DPWH cancels 19 ‘midnight deals’ worth over P934M

DPWH cancels 19 ‘midnight deals’ worth over P934M

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Citing the Aquino administration’s policy of transparency and accountability, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson has ordered the cancellation of 19 “midnight deals” entered into by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The contracts, worth over P934 million, for the rehabilitation of provinces affected by Storms “Ondoy” (international codename: Ketsana) and “Pepeng” (Parma) are supposed to be funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

He said proper procedures were clearly violated as the projects did not undergo “open and competitive” public bidding.

“Aside from being negotiated, the contracts were signed even before their SARO (special allotment release orders) were released by the Department of Budget and Management. That’s quite irregular,” he said.

“They were signed just a few days before July 1 (Day 1 of the Aquino administration),” Singson told the Inquirer.

JICA earlier agreed to finance 86 projects worth over P3 billion in areas in Regions 1 to 5 severely damaged by the two storms.

A check with DPWH files showed the contracts were signed on June 18 while their SAROs were released on June 25.

“Why should you sign contracts when you’re not authorized?” Singson asked.

Probe of DPWH officials

He has formed a team tasked with conducting a thorough investigation of the canceled contracts and the DPWH officials behind them.

The “contract packages,” which are part of the DPWH’s Post-Ondoy and Pepeng Short-Term Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project, included the following (with their respective project costs, locations and contractors):

• No. 10: P53.06 million; La Trinidad, Bokod, Itogon and Buguias, Benguet; Sabangan, Mountain Province and Tabuk, Kalinga; Ferdstar Builders Contractors.

• No. 13: P35.1 million; Ilocos Norte; A. de GuiaConstruction.

• No. 24: P91.5 million; Sitio Departe, Barangay Bantog, Asingan, Pangasinan; Tokwing Construction.

• No. 25: P228.7 million; Sitio Bato, Barangay San Vicente, San Manuel, Pangasinan; Northern Builders.

• No. 27: P25.8 million; Camalaniogan and Sta. Praxedes, Cagayan; M. M. Construction.

• No. 28: P68.6 million; Paitan Section Bay and Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya; Royal Crown Monarch Construction and Supply.

• No. 30: P27.4 million; Sta. Fe, Kayapa and Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya; Christian Ian Construction Corp.

• No. 36: P9.14 million; Paombong and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan; P.O.N. Construction.

• No. 37: P41.1 million; Bulacan province; Northern Builders.

• No. 39: P42.5 million; San Felipe and Iba, Zambales; Tokwing Construction.

• No. 40: P19.2 million; San Marcelino, Zambales; Arrowhead Construction.

• No. 41: P77.3 million; Arayat, Pampanga; L.R. Tiqui Builders, Inc.

• No. 44: P78.7 million; Candaba, Pampanga; Northern Builders.

• No. 45: P27.4 million; Barangay Bodega, Floridablanca, Pampanga; Northern Builders.

• No. 46: P16.4 million; Guagua and Lubao, Pampanga; L.R. Tiqui Builders, Inc.

• Nos. 47-A and 47-B: P32.01 million; Moncada and Bamban, Tarlac; R.A. Pahati Gravel and Sand and LSD Construction and Supplies.

• No. 48: P18.3 million; Aliaga, Nueva Ecija; L.R. Tiqui Builders Inc.

• No. 49: P19.1 million; Bongabon and San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija; Royal Crown Monarch Construction and Supply.

• No. 51: P22.4 million; Balayan and Lemery, Batangas; A.D. Construction.

Need for transparency

Singson repeatedly stressed the need to be “very transparent and objective in project selection, bidding and awarding of projects.”

“I will seek and even plead for the cooperation of members of Congress, politicians and local government units to help us in ensuring the integrity and transparency of all public works projects,” he said.

He vowed to lead by example.

“This is what I told President Aquino when I accepted this position … I realize that we also have to change how contractors, suppliers and elected officials deal with DPWH,” Singson said.

He warned DPWH personnel against acting as “middlemen and collectors for contractors, politicians and other questionable personalities.”

1st State of the Nation Address of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III

2010 SONA President Benigno S. Aquino III

State of the Nation Address

of His Excellency

Benigno S. Aquino III

President of the Philippines

to the Congress of the Philippines

Session Hall of the House of Representatives

July 26, 2010

[Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City]

PANIMULA

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Vice President Jejomar Binay; Chief Justice Renato Corona; Former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; my fellow workers in government;

Mga minamahal kong kababayan:

Sa bawat sandali po ng pamamahala ay nahaharap tayo sa isang sangandaan.

Sa isang banda po ay ang pagpili para sa ikabubuti ng taumbayan. Ang pagtanaw sa interes ng nakakarami; ang pagkapit sa prinsipyo; at ang pagiging tapat sa sinumpaan nating tungkulin bilang lingkod-bayan. Ito po ang tuwid na daan.

Sa kabilang banda ay ang pag-una sa pansariling interes. Ang pagpapaalipin sa pulitikal na konsiderasyon, at pagsasakripisyo ng kapakanan ng taumbayan. Ito po ang baluktot na daan.

Matagal pong naligaw ang pamahalaan sa daang baluktot. Araw-araw po, lalong lumilinaw sa akin ang lawak ng problemang ating namana. Damang-dama ko ang bigat ng aking responsibilidad.

Sa unang tatlong linggo ng aming panunungkulan, marami po kaming natuklasan. Nais ko pong ipahayag sa inyo ang iilan lamang sa mga namana nating suliranin at ang ginagawa naming hakbang para lutasin ang mga ito.

Sulyap lamang po ito; hindi pa ito ang lahat ng problemang haharapin natin. Inilihim at sadyang iniligaw ang sambayanan sa totoong kalagayan ng ating bansa.

PROBLEMA SA BUDGET

Sa unang anim na buwan ng taon, mas malaki ang ginastos ng gobyerno kaysa sa pumasok na kita. Lalong lumaki ang deficit natin, na umakyat na sa 196.7 billion pesos. Sa target na kuleksyon, kinapos tayo ng 23.8 billion pesos; ang tinataya namang gastos, nalagpasan natin ng 45.1 billion pesos.

Ang budget po sa 2010 ay 1.54 trillion pesos.

Nasa isandaang bilyong piso o anim at kalahating porsyento na lang ng kabuuan ang malaya nating magagamit para sa nalalabing anim na buwan ng taong ito.

Halos isang porsyento na lang po ng kabuuang budget ang natitira para sa bawat buwan.

Saan naman po dinala ang pera?

CALAMITY FUND

Naglaan ng dalawang bilyong piso na Calamity Fund bilang paghahanda para sa mga kalamidad na hindi pa nangyayari. Napakaliit na nga po ng pondong ito, ngunit kapapasok pa lang natin sa panahon ng baha at bagyo, 1.4 billion pesos o sitenta porsyento na ang nagastos.

Sa kabuuan ng 108 million pesos para sa lalawigan ng Pampanga, 105 million pesos nito ay napunta sa iisang distrito lamang. Samantala, ang lalawigan ng Pangasinan na sinalanta ng Pepeng ay nakatanggap ng limang milyong piso lamang para sa pinsalang idinulot ng bagyong Cosme, na nangyari noong 2008 pa.

Ibinigay po ang pondo ng Pampanga sa buwan ng eleksyon, pitong buwan pagkatapos ng Ondoy at Pepeng. Paano kung bumagyo bukas? Inubos na ang pondo nito para sa bagyong nangyari noong isang taon pa. Pagbabayaran ng kinabukasan ang kasakiman ng nakaraan.

MWSS

Ganyan din po ang nangyari sa pondo ng MWSS. Kamakailan lamang, pumipila ang mga tao para lang makakuha ng tubig. Sa kabila nito, minabuti pa ng liderato ng MWSS na magbigay ng gantimpala sa sarili kahit hindi pa nababayaran ang pensyon ng mga retiradong empleyado.

Noong 2009, ang buong payroll ng MWSS ay 51.4 million pesos. Pero hindi lang naman po ito ang sahod nila; may mga additional allowances at benefits pa sila na aabot sa 160.1 million pesos. Sa madaling sabi, nakatanggap sila ng 211.5 million pesos noong nakaraang taon. Beinte-kuwatro porsyento lang nito ang normal na sahod, at sitenta’y sais porsyento ang dagdag.
Ang karaniwang manggagawa hanggang 13th month pay plus cash gift lang ang nakukuha. Sa MWSS, aabot sa katumbas ng mahigit sa tatlumpung buwan ang sahod kasama na ang lahat ng mga bonuses at allowances na nakuha nila.

Mas matindi po ang natuklasan natin sa pasahod ng kanilang Board of Trustees. Tingnan po natin ang mga allowances na tinatanggap nila:

Umupo ka lang sa Board of Trustees at Board Committee meeting, katorse mil na. Aabot ng nobenta’y otso mil ito kada buwan. May grocery incentive pa sila na otsenta mil kada taon.

Hindi lang iyon: may mid-year bonus, productivity bonus, anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, at Financial Assistance. May Christmas bonus na, may Additional Christmas Package pa. Kada isa sa mga ito, nobenta’y otso mil.

Sa suma total po, aabot ang lahat ng dalawa’t kalahating milyong piso kada taon sa bawat miyembro ng Board maliban sa pakotse, technical assistance, at pautang. Uulitin ko po. Lahat ng ito ay ibinibigay nila sa kanilang mga sarili habang hindi pa nababayaran ang mga pensyon ng kanilang mga retirees.

Pati po ang La Mesa Watershed ay hindi nila pinatawad. Para magkaroon ng tamang supply ng tubig, kailangang alagaan ang mga watershed. Sa watershed, puno ang kailangan. Pati po iyon na dapat puno ang nakatayo, tinayuan nila ng bahay para sa matataas na opisyal ng MWSS.

Hindi naman sila agad maaalis sa puwesto dahil kabilang sila sa mga Midnight Appointees ni dating Pangulong Arroyo. Iniimbestigahan na natin ang lahat nang ito. Kung mayroon pa silang kahit kaunting hiya na natitira – sana kusa na lang silang magbitiw sa puwesto.

ROAD USERS’ FUND

Pag-usapan naman po natin ang pondo para sa imprastruktura. Tumukoy ang DPWH ng dalawandaan apatnapu’t anim na priority safety projects na popondohan ng Motor Vehicle Users Charge. Mangangailangan po ito ng budget na 425 million pesos.
Ang pinondohan po, dalawampu’t walong proyekto lang. Kinalimutan po ang dalawandaan at labing walong proyekto at pinalitan ng pitumpung proyekto na wala naman sa plano. Ang hininging 425 million pesos, naging 480 million pesos pa, lumaki lalo dahil sa mga proyektong sa piling-piling mga benepisyaryo lang napunta.

Mga proyekto po itong walang saysay, hindi pinag-aralan at hindi pinaghandaan, kaya parang kabuteng sumusulpot.
Tapos na po ang panahon para dito. Sa administrasyon po natin, walang kota-kota, walang tongpats, ang pera ng taumbayan ay gagastusin para sa taumbayan lamang.

NEGOTIATED CONTRACTS

Meron pa po tayong natuklasan. Limang araw bago matapos ang termino ng nakaraang administrasyon, nagpautos silang maglabas ng 3.5 billion pesos para sa rehabilitasyon ng mga nasalanta nina Ondoy at Pepeng.

Walumpu’t anim na proyekto ang paglalaanan dapat nito na hindi na sana idadaan sa public bidding. Labingsiyam sa mga ito na nagkakahalaga ng 981 million pesos ang muntik nang makalusot. Hindi pa nailalabas ang Special Allotment Release Order ay pirmado na ang mga kontrata.

Buti na lang po ay natuklasan at pinigilan ito ni Secretary Rogelio Singson ng DPWH. Ngayon po ay dadaan na ang kabuuan ng 3.5 billion pesos sa tapat na bidding, at magagamit na ang pondo na ito sa pagbibigay ng lingap sa mga nawalan ng tahanan dahil kina Ondoy at Pepeng.

NAPOCOR

Pag-usapan naman natin ang nangyari sa NAPOCOR. Noong 2001 hanggang 2004, pinilit ng gobyerno ang NAPOCOR na magbenta ng kuryente nang palugi para hindi tumaas ang presyo. Tila ang dahilan: pinaghahandaan na nila ang eleksyon.
Dahil dito, noong 2004, sumagad ang pagkakabaon sa utang ng NAPOCOR. Napilitan ang pambansang gobyerno na sagutin ang dalawandaang bilyong pisong utang nito.

Ang inakala ng taumbayan na natipid nila sa kuryente ay binabayaran din natin mula sa kaban ng bayan. May gastos na tayo sa kuryente, binabayaran pa natin ang dagdag na pagkakautang ng gobyerno.

Kung naging matino ang pag-utang, sana’y nadagdagan ang ating kasiguruhan sa supply ng kuryente. Pero ang desisyon ay ibinatay sa maling pulitika, at hindi sa pangangailangan ng taumbayan. Ang taumbayan, matapos pinagsakripisyo ay lalo pang pinahirapan.

MRT

Ganito rin po ang nangyari sa MRT. Sinubukan na namang bilhin ang ating pagmamahal. Pinilit ang operator na panatilihing mababa ang pamasahe.

Hindi tuloy nagampanan ang garantiyang ibinigay sa operator na mababawi nila ang kanilang puhunan. Dahil dito, inutusan ang Landbank at Development Bank of the Philippines na bilhin ang MRT.

Ang pera ng taumbayan, ipinagpalit sa isang naluluging operasyon.

NFA

Dumako naman po tayo sa pondo ng NFA.

Noong 2004: 117,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply ng Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 900,000 metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit pitong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra pa rin ang binili nila.

Noong 2007: 589,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply sa Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 1.827 million metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit tatlong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra na naman ang binili nila.

Ang masakit nito, dahil sobra-sobra ang binibili nila taun-taon, nabubulok lang pala sa mga kamalig ang bigas, kagaya ng nangyari noong 2008.

Hindi po ba krimen ito, na hinahayaan nilang mabulok ang bigas, sa kabila ng apat na milyong Pilipinong hindi kumakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw?

Ang resulta nito, umabot na sa 171.6 billion pesos ang utang ng NFA noong Mayo ng taong ito.

Ang tinapon na ito, halos puwede na sanang pondohan ang mga sumusunod:

Ang budget ng buong Hudikatura, na 12.7 billion pesos sa taong ito.

Ang Conditional Cash Transfers para sa susunod na taon, na nagkakahalaga ng 29.6 billion pesos.

Ang lahat ng classroom na kailangan ng ating bansa, na nagkakahalaga ng 130 billion pesos.

Kasuklam-suklam ang kalakarang ito. Pera na, naging bato pa.

ZERO BUDGET

Narinig po ninyo kung paano nilustay ang kaban ng bayan. Ang malinaw po sa ngayon: ang anumang pagbabago ay magmumula sa pagsiguro natin na magwawakas na ang pagiging maluho at pagwawaldas.

Kaya nga po mula ngayon: ititigil na natin ang paglulustay sa salapi ng bayan. Tatanggalin natin ang mga proyektong mali.
Ito po ang punto ng tinatawag nating zero-based approach sa ating budget. Ang naging kalakaran po, taun-taon ay inuulit lamang ang budget na puno ng tagas. Dadagdagan lang nang konti, puwede na.

Sa susunod na buwan ay maghahain tayo ng budget na kumikilala nang tama sa mga problema, at magtutuon din ng pansin sa tamang solusyon.

IMMEDIATE STEPS

TAX EVASION

Ilan lang ito sa mga natuklasan nating problema. Heto naman po ang ilang halimbawa ng mga hakbang na ginagawa natin.
Nandiyan po ang kaso ng isang may-ari ng sanglaan. Bumili siya ng sasakyang tinatayang nasa dalawampu’t anim na milyong piso ang halaga.

Kung kaya mong bumili ng Lamborghini, bakit hindi mo kayang magbayad ng buwis?

Nasampahan na po ito ng kaso. Sa pangunguna nina Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares at Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez, bawat linggo po ay may bago tayong kasong isinasampa kontra sa mga smuggler at sa mga hindi nagbabayad ng tamang buwis.

EXTRALEGAL KILLINGS

Natukoy na rin po ang salarin sa mga kaso nina Francisco Baldomero, Jose Daguio at Miguel Belen, tatlo sa anim na insidente ng extralegal killings mula nang umupo tayo.

Singkuwenta porsyento po ng mga insidente ng extralegal killings ang patungo na sa kanilang resolusyon.

Ang natitira pong kalahati ay hindi natin tatantanan ang pag-usig hanggang makamit ang katarungan.

TRUTH COMMISSION

Pananagutin natin ang mga mamamatay-tao. Pananagutin din natin ang mga corrupt sa gobyerno.

Nagsimula nang mabuo ang ating Truth Commission, sa pangunguna ni dating Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Hahanapin natin ang katotohanan sa mga nangyari diumanong katiwalian noong nakaraang siyam na taon.

Sa loob ng linggong ito, pipirmahan ko ang kauna-unahang Executive Order na nagtatalaga sa pagbuo nitong Truth Commission.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

Kung ang sagot sa kawalan ng katarungan ay pananagutan, ang sagot naman sa kakulangan natin sa pondo ay mga makabago at malikhaing paraan para tugunan ang mga pagkatagal-tagal nang problema.

Napakarami po ng ating pangangailangan: mula sa edukasyon, imprastruktura, pangkalusugan, pangangailangan ng militar at kapulisan, at marami pang iba. Hindi kakasya ang pondo para mapunan ang lahat ng ito.

Kahit gaano po kalaki ang kakulangan para mapunan ang mga listahan ng ating pangangailangan, ganado pa rin ako dahil marami nang nagpakita ng panibagong interes at kumpyansa sa Pilipinas.

Ito ang magiging solusyon: mga Public-Private Partnerships. Kahit wala pa pong pirmahang nangyayari dito, masasabi kong maganda ang magiging bunga ng maraming usapin ukol dito.

May mga nagpakita na po ng interes, gustong magtayo ng expressway na mula Maynila, tatahak ng Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, hanggang sa dulo ng Cagayan Valley nang hindi gugugol ang estado kahit na po piso.

Sa larangan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas:

Mayroon po tayong 36,000 nautical miles ng baybayin. Ang mayroon lamang tayo: tatlumpu’t dalawang barko. Itong mga barkong ito, panahon pa ni MacArthur.

May nagmungkahi sa atin, ito ang proposisyon: uupahan po nila ang headquarters ng Navy sa Roxas Boulevard at ang Naval Station sa Fort Bonifacio.

Sagot po nila ang paglipat ng Navy Headquarters sa Camp Aguinaldo. Agaran, bibigyan tayo ng isandaang milyong dolyar. At dagdag pa sa lahat nang iyan, magsusubi pa sila sa atin ng kita mula sa mga negosyong itatayo nila sa uupahan nilang lupa.
Sa madali pong sabi: Makukuha natin ang kailangan natin, hindi tatayo gagastos, kikita pa tayo.

Marami na pong nag-alok at nagmungkahi sa atin, mula lokal hanggang dayuhang negosyante, na magpuno ng iba’t ibang pangangailangan.

Mula sa mga public-private partnerships na ito, lalago ang ating ekonomiya, at bawat Pilipino makikinabang. Napakaraming sektor na matutulungan nito.

Maipapatayo na po ang imprastrukturang kailangan natin para palaguin ang turismo.

Sa agrikultura, makapagtatayo na tayo ng mga grains terminals, refrigeration facilities, maayos na road networks at post-harvest facilities.

Kung maisasaayos natin ang ating food supply chain sa tulong ng pribadong sektor, sa halip na mag-angkat tayo ay maari na sana tayong mangarap na mag-supply sa pandaigdigang merkado.

Kung maitatayo ang minumungkahi sa ating railway system, bababa ang presyo ng bilihin. Mas mura, mas mabilis, mas maginhawa, at makakaiwas pa sa kotong cops at mga kumokotong na rebelde ang mga bumibiyahe.

STREAMLINING PROCESSES

Paalala lang po: una sa ating plataporma ang paglikha ng mga trabaho, at nanggagaling ang trabaho sa paglago ng industriya. Lalago lamang ang industriya kung gagawin nating mas malinis, mas mabilis, at mas maginhawa ang proseso para sa mga gustong magnegosyo.

Pabibilisin natin ang proseso ng mga proyektong sumasailalim sa Build-Operate-Transfer. Sa tulong ng lahat ng sangay ng gobyerno at ng mga mamamayan, pabababain natin sa anim na buwan ang proseso na noon ay inaabot ng taon kung hindi dekada.

May mga hakbang na rin pong sinisimulan ang DTI, sa pamumuno ni Secretary Gregory Domingo:

Ang walang-katapusang pabalik-balik sa proseso ng pagrehistro ng pangalan ng kumpanya, na kada dalaw ay umaabot ng apat hanggang walong oras, ibababa na natin sa labinlimang minuto.

Ang dating listahan ng tatlumpu’t anim na dokumento, ibababa natin sa anim. Ang dating walong pahinang application form, ibababa natin sa isang pahina.

Nananawagan ako sa ating mga LGUs. Habang naghahanap tayo ng paraan para gawing mas mabilis ang pagbubukas ng mga negosyo, pag-aralan din sana nila ang kanilang mga proseso. Kailangan itong gawing mas mabilis, at kailangan itong itugma sa mga sinisumulan nating reporma.

Negosyante, sundalo, rebelde, at karaniwang Pilipino, lahat po makikinabang dito. Basta po hindi dehado ang Pilipino, papasukin po natin lahat iyan. Kailangan na po nating simulan ang pagtutulungan para makamit ito. Huwag nating pahirapan ang isa’t isa.

Parating na po ang panahon na hindi na natin kailangang mamili sa pagitan ng seguridad ng ating mamamayan o sa kinabukasan ng inyong mga anak.

FREEING UP FUNDS

EDUCATION

Oras na maipatupad ang public-private partnerships na ito, mapopondohan ang mga serbisyong panlipunan, alinsunod sa ating plataporma.

Magkakapondo na po para maipatupad ang mga plano natin sa edukasyon.

Mapapalawak natin ang basic education cycle mula sa napakaikling sampung taon tungo sa global standard na labindalawang taon.

Madadagdagan natin ang mga classroom. Mapopondohan natin ang service contracting sa ilalim ng GASTPE.

Pati ang conditional cash transfers, na magbabawas ng pabigat sa bulsa ng mga pamilya, madadagdan na rin ng pondo.

PHILHEALTH

Maipapatupad ang plano natin sa PhilHealth.

Una, tutukuyin natin ang tunay na bilang ng mga nangangailangan nito. Sa ngayon, hindi magkakatugma ang datos. Sabi ng PhilHealth sa isang bibig, walumpu’t pitong porsyento na raw ang merong coverage. Sa kabilang bibig naman, singkuwenta’y tres porsyento naman. Ayon naman sa National Statistics Office, tatlumpu’t walong porsyento ang may coverage.

Ngayon pa lang, kumikilos na si Secretary Dinky Soliman at ang DSWD upang ipatupad ang National Household Targetting System, na magtutukoy sa mga pamilyang higit na nagangailangan ng tulong. Tinatayang siyam na bilyon ang kailangan para mabigyan ng PhilHealth ang limang milyong pinakamaralitang pamilyang Pilipino.

LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Napakaganda po ng hinaharap natin. Kasama na po natin ang pribadong sektor, at kasama na rin natin ang League of Provinces, sa pangunguna nina Governor Alfonso Umali kasama sina Governor L-Ray Villafuerte at Governor Icot Petilla. Handa na pong makipagtulungan para makibahagi sa pagtustos ng mga gastusin. Alam ko rin pong hindi magpapahuli ang League of Cities sa pangunguna ni Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

Kung ang mga gobyernong lokal ay nakikiramay na sa ating mga adhikain, ang Kongreso namang pinanggalingan ko, siguro naman maasahan ko din.

Nagpakitang-gilas na po ang gabinete sa pagtukoy ng ating mga problema at sa paglulunsad ng mga solusyon sa loob lamang ng tatlong linggo.

Nang bagyo pong Basyang, ang sabi sa atin ng mga may prangkisa sa kuryente, apat na araw na walang kuryente. Dahil sa mabilis na pagkilos ni Secretary Rene Almendras at ng Department of Energy, naibalik ang kuryente sa halos lahat sa loob lamang ng beinte-kwatro oras.

Ito pong sinasabing kakulangan sa tubig sa Metro Manila, kinilusan agad ni Secretary Rogelio Singson at ng DPWH. Hindi na siya naghintay ng utos, kaya nabawasan ang perwisyo.

Nakita na rin natin ang gilas ng mga hinirang nating makatulong sa Gabinete. Makatuwiran naman po sigurong umasa na hindi na sila padadaanin sa butas ng karayom para makumpirma ng Commission on Appointments. Kung mangyayari po ito, marami pa sa mga mahuhusay na Pilipino ang maeengganyong magsilbi sa gobyerno.

Sa lalong madaling panahon po, uupo na tayo sa LEDAC at pag-uusapan ang mga mahahalagang batas na kailangan nating ipasa. Makakaasa kayo na mananatiling bukas ang aking isipan, at ang ating ugnayan ay mananatiling tapat.

Isinusulong po natin ang Fiscal Responsibility Bill, kung saan hindi tayo magpapasa ng batas na mangangailangan ng pondo kung hindi pa natukoy ang panggagalingan nito. May 104.1 billion pesos tayong kailangan para pondohan ang mga batas na naipasa na, ngunit hindi maipatupad.

Kailangan din nating isaayos ang mga insentibong piskal na ibinigay noong nakaraan. Ngayong naghihigpit tayo ng sinturon, kailangang balikan kung alin sa mga ito ang dapat manatili at kung ano ang dapat nang itigil.

Huwag po tayong pumayag na magkaroon ng isa pang NBN-ZTE. Sa lokal man o dayuhan manggagaling ang pondo, dapat dumaan ito sa tamang proseso. Hinihingi ko po ang tulong ninyo upang amiyendahan ang ating Procurement Law.

Ayon po sa Saligang Batas, tungkulin ng estado ang siguruhing walang lamangan sa merkado. Bawal ang monopolya, bawal ang mga cartel na sasakal sa kumpetisyon. Kailangan po natin ng isang Anti-Trust Law na magbibigay-buhay sa mga prinsipyong ito. Ito ang magbibigay ng pagkakataon sa mga Small- at Medium-scale Enterprises na makilahok at tumulong sa paglago ng ating ekonomiya.

Ipasa na po natin ang National Land Use Bill.

Una rin pong naging batas ng Commonwealth ang National Defense Act, na ipinasa noon pang 1935. Kailangan nang palitan ito ng batas na tutugon sa pangangailangan ng pambansang seguridad sa kasalukuyan.

Nakikiusap po akong isulong ang Whistleblower’s Bill upang patuloy nang iwaksi ang kultura ng takot at pananahimik.

Palalakasin pa lalo ang Witness Protection Program. Alalahanin po natin na noong taong 2009 hanggang 2010, may nahatulan sa 95% ng mga kaso kung saan may witness na sumailalim sa programang ito.

Kailangang repasuhin ang ating mga batas. Nanawagan po akong umpisahan na ang rekodipikasyon ng ating mga batas, upang siguruhing magkakatugma sila at hindi salu-salungat.

PEACE PROCESS

Ito pong mga batas na ito ang batayan ng kaayusan, ngunit ang pundasyon ng lahat ng ginagawa natin ay ang prinsipyong wala tayong mararating kung walang kapayapaan at katahimikan.

Dalawa ang hinaharap nating suliranin sa usapin ng kapayapaan: ang situwasyon sa Mindanao, at ang patuloy na pag-aaklas ng CPP-NPA-NDF.

Tungkol sa situwasyon sa Mindanao: Hindi po nagbabago ang ating pananaw. Mararating lamang ang kapayapaan at katahimikan kung mag-uusap ang lahat ng apektado: Moro, Lumad, at Kristiyano. Inatasan na natin si Dean Marvic Leonen na mangasiwa sa ginagawa nating pakikipag-usap sa MILF.

Iiwasan natin ang mga pagkakamaling nangyari sa nakaraang administrasyon, kung saan binulaga na lang ang mga mamamayan ng Mindanao. Hindi tayo puwedeng magbulag-bulagan sa mga dudang may kulay ng pulitika ang proseso, at hindi ang kapakanan ng taumbayan ang tanging interes.

Kinikilala natin ang mga hakbang na ginagawa ng MILF sa pamamagitan ng pagdidisplina sa kanilang hanay. Inaasahan natin na muling magsisimula ang negosasyon pagkatapos ng Ramadan.

Tungkol naman po sa CPP-NPA-NDF: handa na ba kayong maglaan ng kongkretong mungkahi, sa halip na pawang batikos lamang?

Kung kapayapaan din ang hangad ninyo, handa po kami sa malawakang tigil-putukan. Mag-usap tayo.

Mahirap magsimula ang usapan habang mayroon pang amoy ng pulbura sa hangin. Nananawagan ako: huwag po natin hayaang masayang ang napakagandang pagkakataong ito upang magtipon sa ilalim ng iisang adhikain.

Kapayapaan at katahimikan po ang pundasyon ng kaunlaran. Habang nagpapatuloy ang barilan, patuloy din ang pagkakagapos natin sa kahirapan.

PANAWAGAN

Dapat din po nating mabatid: ito ay panahon ng sakripisyo. At ang sakripisyong ito ay magiging puhunan para sa ating kinabukasan. Kaakibat ng ating mga karapatan at kalayaan ay ang tungkulin natin sa kapwa at sa bayan.

Inaasahan ko po ang ating mga kaibigan sa media, lalo na sa radyo at sa print, sa mga nagbablock-time, at sa community newspapers, kayo na po mismo ang magbantay sa inyong hanay.

Mabigyang-buhay sana ang mga batayang prinsipyo ng inyong bokasyon: ang magbigay-linaw sa mahahalagang isyu; ang maging patas at makatotohanan, at ang itaas ang antas ng pampublikong diskurso.

Tungkulin po ng bawat Pilipino na tutukan ang mga pinunong tayo rin naman ang nagluklok sa puwesto. Humakbang mula sa pakikialam tungo sa pakikilahok. Dahil ang nakikialam, walang-hanggan ang reklamo. Ang nakikilahok, nakikibahagi sa solusyon.

Napakatagal na pong namamayani ang pananaw na ang susi sa asenso ay ang intindihin ang sarili kaysa intindihin ang kapwa. Malinaw po sa akin: paano tayo aasenso habang nilalamangan ang kapwa?

Ang hindi nabigyan ng pagkakataong mag-aral, paanong makakakuha ng trabaho? Kung walang trabaho, paanong magiging konsumer? Paanong mag-iimpok sa bangko?

Ngunit kung babaliktarin natin ang pananaw—kung iisipin nating “Dadagdagan ko ang kakayahan ng aking kapwa”—magbubunga po ito, at ang lahat ay magkakaroon ng pagkakataon.

Maganda na po ang nasimulan natin. At mas lalong maganda po ang mararating natin. Ngunit huwag nating kalimutan na mayroong mga nagnanasang hindi tayo magtagumpay. Dahil kapag hindi tayo nagtagumpay, makakabalik na naman sila sa kapangyarihan, at sa pagsasamantala sa taumbayan.

Akin pong paniwala na Diyos at taumbayan ang nagdala sa ating kinalalagyan ngayon. Habang nakatutok tayo sa kapakanan ng ating kapwa, bendisyon at patnubay ay tiyak na maaasahan natin sa Poong Maykapal. At kapag nanalig tayo na ang kasangga natin ay ang Diyos, mayroon ba tayong hindi kakayanin?

Ang mandato nating nakuha sa huling eleksyon ay patunay na umaasa pa rin ang Pilipino sa pagbabago. Iba na talaga ang situwasyon. Puwede na muling mangarap. Tayo nang tumungo sa katuparan ng ating mga pinangarap.
Maraming salamat po.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Vice President Jejomar Binay, Chief Justice Renato Corona, Former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps;

My beloved countrymen:

Our administration is facing a forked road. On one direction, decisions are made to protect the welfare of our people; to look after the interest of the majority; to have a firm grip on principles; and to be faithful to the public servant’s sworn oath to serve the country honestly.

This is the straight path.

On the other side, personal interest is the priority, and where one becomes a slave to political considerations to the detriment of our nation.

This is the crooked path.

For a long time, our country lost its way in the crooked path. As days go by (since I became President), the massive scope of the problems we have inherited becomes much clearer. I could almost feel the weight of my responsibilities.

In the first three weeks of our administration, we discovered many things, and I will report to you some of the problems we have uncovered, and the steps we are taking to solve them.

This report is merely a glimpse of our situation. It is not the entire picture of the crises we are facing. The reality was hidden from our people, who seem to have been deliberately obfuscated on the real state of our nation.

In the first six years of this year, government expenditure exceeded our revenues. Our deficit further increased to PhP196.7 billion. Our collection targets, which lack PhP23.8 billion, were not fully met, while we went beyond our spending by PhP45.1 billion.

Our budget for 2010 is PhP1.54 trillion. Of this, only PhP100 billion – or 6.5% of the total budget – can be used for the remaining six months of the current year. Roughly 1% of the total budget is left for each of the remaining month.

Where did the funds go?

A calamity fund worth PhP2 billion was reserved in preparation for anticipated calamities. Of this already miniscule amount, at a time when the rainy season has yet to set in, PhP1.4 billion or 70% was already spent.

The entire province of Pampanga received PhP108 million. Of this, PhP105 million went to only one district. On the other hand, the province of Pangasinan, which was severely affected by Typhoon Pepeng, received a mere PhP5 million, which had to be used to fix damages inflicted not even by Pepeng, but by a previous typhoon, Cosme.

The funds were released on election month, which was seven months after the typhoon. What will happen if a typhoon arrives tomorrow? The fund has been used up to repair damage from typhoons that hit us last year. Our future will pay for the greed of yesterday.

This is also what happened to the funds of the MWSS. Just recently, people lined up for water while the leadership of the MWSS rewarded itself even though the pensions of retired employees remain unpaid.

The entire payroll of the MWSS amounts to 51.4 million pesos annually.

But this isn’t the full extent of what they receive: they receive additional allowances and benefits amounting to 81.1 million pesos.

In short, they receive 211.5 million pesos annually. Twenty four percent of this is for normal salaries, and sixty six percent is added on.

The average worker receives up to 13th month pay plus a cash gift. In the MWSS, they receive the equivalent of over thirty months pay if you include all their additional bonuses and allowances.

What we discovered in the case of the salaries of their board of trustees is even more shocking. Let’s take a look at the allowances they receive:

Attending board of trustees and board committee meetings, and you get fourteen thousands pesos. This totals ninety eight thousand pesos a month. They also get an annual grocery incentive of eighty thousand pesos.

And that’s not all. They get a mid-year bonus, productivity bonus, anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, and financial assistance.

They not only get a Christmas bonus, but an additional Christmas package as well. Each of these amounts to eighty thousand pesos. All in all, each member of the board receives two and a half million pesos a year exclusive of car service, technical assistance, and loans. Let me repeat. They award themselves all of these while being in arrears for the pensions of their retired employees.

Even the La Mesa watershed wasn’t spared. In order to ensure an adequate supply of water, we need to protect our watersheds.

In watersheds, trees are needed. Where there should be trees, they built homes for the top officials of the MWSS.

We cannot remove them from their positions quickly because they are among the midnight appointees of former president Arroyo. We are investigating all of these things. But if they have any shame left, they should voluntarily relinquish their positions.

Now let’s discuss funds for infrastructure. The DPWH identified two hundred forty six priority safety projects to be funded by the motor vehicle user’s charge. This needs a budget of 425 million pesos. What they ended up funding were only 28 projects. They disregarded 218 projects and replaced these with seventy projects that weren’t in the plans. The 425 million pesos originally asked for became 480 million pesos, increasing because of projects allocated for a favored few.

These projects make no sense: unstudied and unprepared for, sprouting like mushrooms.

The era of such projects is at an end. Under our administration, there will be no quotas, there will be no overpricing, the funds of the people will be spent for the people.

There’s more. Five days before the term of the previous administration ended, they ordered 3.5 billion pesos to be released for the rehabilitation of those affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. This was supposed to fund eighty-nine projects. But nineteen of these projects amounting to 981 million pesos didn’t go through public bidding. Special Allotment Release Orders hadn’t even been released and yet the contracts were already signed. It’s a good thing Secretary Rogelio Singson spotted and stopped them.

Instead, they will all go through the proper bidding, and the funds will be used to provide relief to those who lost their homes due to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

Let’s discuss what happened in Napocor. From 2001 to 2004, the government forced Napocor to sell electricity at a loss to prevent increases in electricity rates. The real motivation for this is that they were preparing for the election.

As a result, in 2004, NAPOCOR slumped deeply in debt. The government was obligated to shoulder the 200 billion pesos it owed.

What the public thought they saved from electricity, we are now paying for using public coffers. Not only are we paying for the cost of electricity; we are also paying for the interest arising from the debt.

If the money we borrowed was used properly, then there would be added assurance that constant supply of electricity is available. However, this decision was based on bad politics, not on the true needs of the people.

The people, after having to sacrifice, suffered even more.

This is also what happened to the MRT. The government tried again to buy the people’s love. The operator was forced to keep the rates low.

In effect, the guarantee given to the operator that he will still be able to recoup his investment was not fulfilled. Because of this, Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines were ordered to purchase the MRT.

The money of the people was used in exchange for an operation that was losing money.

Let us now move on to the funds of the National Food Authority (NFA).

In 2004: 117,000 metric tons (of rice) was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they (the government) bought were 900,000 metric tons.

Even if you multiply for more than seven times the amount of shortage, they still bought more than what was needed.

In 2007: 589,000 metric tons was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they bought were 1.827 million metric tons. Even if you multiply for more than three times the amount of shortage, they again bought more than what was needed.

What hurts is, because they keep purchasing more than what they need year after year, the excess rice that had to be stored in warehouses ended up rotting, just like what happened in 2008.

Is this not a crime, letting rice rot, despite the fact that there are 4 million Filipinos who do not eat three times a day?

The result is NFA’s current debt of 177 billion pesos.

This money that was wasted could have funded the following:

– The budget of the entire judiciary, which is at 12.7 billion pesos this year.
– The Conditional Cash Transfers for the following year, which cost 29.6 billion pesos.
– All the classrooms that our country needs, which cost 130 billion pesos.

This way of doing things is revolting. Money was there only to be wasted. You have heard how the public coffers were squandered. This is what is clear to me now: change can only come from our determination to stamp out this extravagance and profligacy.

That is why starting now: we will stop the wasteful use of government funds. We will eradicate projects that are wrong.

This is the point of what we call the zero-based approach in our budget.

What used to be the norm was every year, the budget merely gets re-enacted without plugging the holes.

Next month we will be submitting a budget that accurately identifies the problem and gives much attention on the right solution.
Those that I have mentioned were only some of the problems we have discovered. Here now are examples of the steps we are undertaking to solve them.

There is a case of one pawnshop owner. He purchased a vehicle at an estimated cost of 26 million pesos.

If he can afford to buy a Lamborghini, why can’t he pay his taxes?

A case has already been filed against him. Through the leadership of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, every week we have new cases filed against smugglers and against those who do not pay the right taxes.

We have also already identified the suspects of the cases of Francisco Baldomero, Jose Daguio and Miguel Belen, 3 of the 6 incidents of extralegal killings since we assumed the Presidency.

Fifty percent (50%) of these incidents of extralegal killings are now on their way to being resolved.

We will not stop the pursuit of the remaining half of these killings until justice has been achieved.

We will hold murderers accountable. We will also hold those who are corrupt that work in government accountable for their actions.

We have begun forming our Truth Commission, through the leadership of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide. We will search for the truth on the alleged wrongdoing committed in the last nine years.

This week, I will sign the first ever Executive Order on the formation of this Truth Commission.

If the answer to justice is accountability, the answer to the dearth in funds is a new and creative approach to our long-standing problems.

We have so many needs: from education, infrastructure, health, military, police and more. Our funds will not be enough to meet them.

No matter how massive the deficit is that may keep us from paying for this list of needs, I am heartened because many have already expressed renewed interest and confidence in the Philippines.

Our solution: public-private partnerships. Although no contract has been signed yet, I can say that ongoing talks with interested investors will yield fruitful outcomes.

There are some who have already shown interest and want to build an expressway from Manila that will pass through Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, until the end of Cagayan Valley, without the government having to spend a single peso.

On national defense:

We have 36,000 nautical miles of shoreline, but we only have 32 boats.

These boats are as old as the time of (US General Douglas) MacArthur.

Some had this proposition: they will rent the Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard and the Naval Station in Fort Bonifacio.

They will take care of the funding necessary to transfer the Navy Headquarters to Camp Aguinaldo. Immediately, we will be given 100 million dollars. Furthermore, they will give us a portion of their profits from their businesses that would occupy the land they will rent.

In short, we will meet our needs without spending, and we will also earn.

There have already been many proposals from local to foreign investors to provide for our various needs.

From these public-private partnerships, our economy will grow and every Filipino will be the beneficiary. There are so many sectors that could benefit from this.

We will be able to construct the needed infrastructure in order to help tourism grow.

In agriculture, we will be able to have access to grains terminals, refrigeration facilities, orderly road networks and post-harvest facilities.

If we can fix out food supply chain with the help of the private sector, instead of importing, we will hopefully be able to supply for the needs of the global market.

The prices of commodities will go down if we are able to make this efficient railway system a reality. It will be cheaper and faster, and it will be easier for travelers to avoid crooked cops and rebels.

A reminder to all: creating jobs is foremost on our agenda, and the creation of jobs will come from the growth of our industries. Growth will only be possible if we streamline processes to make them predictable, reliable and efficient for those who want to invest.

We make sure that the Build-Operate-and-Transfer projects will undergo quick and efficient processes. With the help of all government agencies concerned and the people, a process that used to take as short as a year and as long as a decade will now only take six months.

The Department of Trade and Industry has already taken steps to effect this change, under the leadership of Secretary Gregory Domingo:

The never-ending horror story of registering business names, which used to take a minimum of four to eight hours depending on the day, will be cut down drastically to fifteen minutes.

What used to be a check list of thirty-six documents will be shortened to a list of six, and the old eight-page application form will be whittled down to one page.

I call on our local government units to review its own procedures. While we look for more ways to streamline our processes to make business start-ups easier, I hope the LGUs can also find ways to implement reforms that will be consistent with the ones we have already started.

All will certainly benefit from this streamlining — be it businessmen, soldiers, rebels and ordinary Filipinos. As long as the interests of Filipinos will not be jeopardized, we will explore all available avenues to make this a reality. We must start now, and we should all help achieve this and not stand in each other’s way.

The time when we will no longer be made to choose between our people’s security and the future of our children is upon us now.

Once we implement these public-private partnerships, we will be able to fund public service in accordance with our platform.

This will enable us to fund our plans for education.

We will be able to expand our basic education cycle from seven years to the global standard of twelve years.

We can build more classrooms, and we will fund service contracting under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Program (GASTPE).

Conditional cash transfers that aim to lessen the burden of education on parents will also be funded if this partnership becomes a reality.

Our plans for improving PhilHealth can now be within reach.

First, we will identify the correct number of Filipinos who sorely need PhilHealth coverage, as current data is conflicting on this matter. On one hand, PhilHealth says that eighty-seven percent (87%) of Filipinos are covered, then lowers the number to only fifty-three percent (53%). On the other hand, the National Statistics Office says that only thirty-eight percent (38%) of Filipinos are covered by Philhealth.

Even as we speak, Secretary Dinky Soliman and the Department of Social Welfare and Development are moving to implement the National Household Targeting System that will identify the families that most urgently need assistance. An estimated 9 billion pesos is needed in order to provide coverage for five million poor Filipinos.

Our country is beginning to see better days ahead. The private sector, the League of Provinces headed by Governor Alfonso Umali, together with Governors L-Ray Villafuerte and Icot Petilla, are now ready to do their share when it comes to shouldering the financial burden. I know that the League of Cities under the leadership of Mayor Oscar Rodriguez will not be far behind.

If the local governments share in our goals, I know that I can surely count on Congress, the institution where I began public service, to push for our agenda for change.

Our Cabinet has already showed it skill by identifying not just problems but also proposing solutions in a matter of three weeks.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Basyang, we were told by those in the power sector that we would be without electricity for four days. The quick action of Secretary Rene Almendras and the Department of Energy resulted in the restoration of power to almost all those affected within twenty-four hours.

The so-called water shortage in Metro Manila was quickly attended to by Secretary Rogelio Singson and the Department of Public Works and Highways. Secretary Singson did it without prodding, which alleviated the suffering of those affected.

We also witnessed the competence and initiative of those we appointed to be part of our Cabinet. It is but just that they not be forced to go through the eye of a needle to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.

Should this happen, competent Filipinos will be encouraged to help our country by becoming public servants.

In the soonest possible time, we will convene the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to discuss the important bills that need to be addressed. Rest assured that I will keep an open mind and treat you honorably.

We will push for the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, which will limit spending bills only for appropriations that have identified a source of funding. We need 104.1 billion pesos to fund those laws already passed but whose implementation remains pending because of lack of funds.

We will re-evaluate fiscal incentives given in the past. Now that we are tightening our purse strings, we need to identify those incentives that will remain and those that need to be done away with.

We will not allow another NBN-ZTE scandal to happen again. Whether from local or foreign sources, all proposed contracts must undergo the scrutiny of correct procedures. I now ask for your help with amending our Procurement Law.

According to our Constitution, it is the government’s duty to ensure that the market is fair for all. No monopolies, no cartels that kill competition. We need an Anti-Trust Law that will give life to these principles, to afford Small- and Medium-Scale Enterprises the opportunity to participate in the growth of our economy.

Let us pass into law the National Land Use Bill.

It was in 1935, during the Commonwealth, that the National Defense Act was passed. There is a need to amend for a new law that is more responsive to the current needs of national security.

I appeal to our legislators to pass the Whistleblower’s Bill to eradicate the prevalent culture of fear and silence that has hounded our system.

We will strengthen the Witness Protection Program. We must remember that from 2009 to 2010 alone, cases which involved the participation of witnesses under the program resulted in a ninety-five percent conviction.

There is a need to review our laws. I call on our lawmakers to begin a re-codification of our laws to ensure harmony in legislation and eliminate contradictions.

These laws serve as the basis of order in our land, but the foundation of all rests on the principle that we cannot grow without peace and order.

We face two obstacles on our road to peace: the situation in Mindanao and the continued revolt of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Our view has not changed when it comes to the situation in Mindanao. We will only achieve lasting peace if all stakeholders engage in an honest dialogue: may they be Moro, Lumad, or Christian. We have asked Dean Marvic Leonen to head our efforts to talk to the MILF.

We will learn from the mistakes of the past administration, that suddenly announced an agreement reached without consultations from all concerned. We are not blind to the fact that it was done with political motivation, and that the interest behind it was not that of the people.

We recognize the efforts of the MILF to discipline those within its ranks. We are hopeful that the negotiations will begin after Ramadan.

To the CPP-NPA-NDF: are you prepared to put forth concrete solutions rather than pure criticism and finger-pointing?

If it is peace you truly desire, then we are ready for an immediate cease-fire. Let us go back to the table and begin talking again.

It is difficult to begin discussions in earnest if the smell of gun powder still hangs in the air. I call on everyone concerned not to waste a good opportunity to rally behind our common aspiration for peace.

Our foundation for growth is peace. We will continue to be shackled by poverty if the crossfire persists.

We must understand that now is a time for sacrifice. It is this sacrifice that will pave the way for a better future. With our freedom comes our responsibility to do good unto our fellows and to our country.

To our friends in media, especially those in radio and print, to the block-timers and those in our community newspapers, I trust that you will take up the cudgels to police your own ranks.

May you give new meaning to the principles of your vocation: to provide clarity to pressing issues; to be fair and truthful in your reporting, and to raise the level of public discourse.

It is every Filipino’s duty to closely watch the leaders that you have elected. I encourage everyone to take a step towards participation rather than fault-finding. The former takes part in finding a solution; from the latter, never-ending complaints.

We have always known that the key to growth is putting the interest of others beyond one’s own. One thing is clear: how do we move forward if we keep putting others down?

How will those without education secure quality jobs? How will the unemployed become consumers? How will they save money for their future needs?

If we change all this, if we prioritize enabling others, we will open a world of opportunities not just for ourselves but for those who direly need it.

We have already begun the process of change, and we are now able to dream of better things for our country. Let us not forget that there are those who wish us to fail, so that they will once again reclaim power to do as they please at the expense of our people.

My firm belief is that our fate is in the hands of God and our people. While we focus on uplifting the lives of our fellow men, I have an unshakeable faith that Almighty God will give us His blessings and support. If we remain firm in our belief that God is on our side, is there anything impossible for us to achieve?

The mandate we received last May 10 is testament to the fact that the Filipino continues to hope for true change. The situation is not what it was before; we can all dream again. Let us all become one in achieving a fulfilment of our hopes and aspirations for our country.

Maraming Salamat Po!

DPWH chief ‘appoints’ self to head MWSS

DPWH chief ‘appoints’ self to head MWSS
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—It appears that Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson could not wait for his boss to appoint him to head the body that regulates the private water concessionaire that he used to manage.

On his own, Singson, the former president and chief executive officer of Maynilad Water Services Inc., wrote a letter wherein he claimed that President Benigno Aquino III wanted him to head the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

But the President seems unaware of Singson’s self-appointment. “Will check on that,” he said in a text message, responding to the question of whether he knew that Singson had appointed himself MWSS chair.

In a letter dated July 6 and addressed to MWSS Chair Gabriel Claudio, Singson said: “We wish to inform you that it is the desire of His Excellency, President Benigno C. Aquino III, that the secretary of public works and highways immediately assume the position as ex-officio chairman of the board of trustees of the [MWSS] pursuant to Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6234 as amended.”

Singson, also a former director of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., took over Claudio’s post on July 7, when the MWSS had its first scheduled board meeting for the month.

But Singson Thursday said he “cleared” his move with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa before going to the MWSS.

“I cleared it with the ES in a letter. I wouldn’t have done it without their signal,” he said.

Conflict of interest?

Reached by phone, Claudio, a top political adviser of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said that under the rules, the public works secretary served as chair of the MWSS unless the President appointed another person.

He refused to comment on the purported conflict of interest inherent in Singson’s takeover of the MWSS.

Maynilad was formed by the Lopez group 15 years ago to bid for Metro Manila’s huge concession area, which the administration of President Fidel Ramos had divided into two zones to engender competition and protect consumer interest.

Maynilad won the west zone, and Ayala-owned Manila Water Company Inc. won the east zone.

Because of Maynilad’s debt problems, the Lopez group’s allies—Metro Pacific Investment Corp. run by Manuel V. Pangilinan and construction and property giant DMCI Holdings—took over the water firm three years ago.

Singson, however, said there was no conflict of interest when he accepted the public works portfolio after working with Maynilad.

“What conflict of interest? We are both protecting the consumers,” he told the Inquirer over the phone.

He said that in order for this kind of talk to die down, he would sell his shares in the companies he used to head.

“I am selling my shares. I have 30 days to do that,” he said, adding in jest that he would be on the losing end. “Lugi pa nga ako.”

Ties to big business

The deep ties of Singson and other Cabinet officials to big business interests have elicited questions from lawmakers about the “disturbing pattern” of Mr. Aquino’s appointments.

Speculations have swirled about such appointments as Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose de Jesus (a former president of Manila Electric Co., which is jointly run by the Lopez group and Metro Pacific, and a former executive vice president of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.) and Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras (a former president of Manila Water and Cebu Holdings Inc., both owned by the Ayala group, and a former treasurer of the Aboitiz group).

In an interview, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said Congress would keep a close watch on appointees with known connections to utility firms and other powerful business interests, “to make sure that they do not unduly favor the monopoly interests of their patrons.”

Casiño said that during the confirmation and budget hearings, lawmakers would demand from these appointees their firm commitment to prioritize public interest over the interest of their former business associates.

“We are calling on the public to serve as a check to any potential conflict-of-interest situations brought about by such appointments. This is crucial given that oil, water, power and telecommunications firms are itching to raise their prices and profits,” he said.

’Nothing new’

But according to Singson, the MWSS charter states that its ex-officio chair is the public works chief.

“It’s always the DPWH secretary [who chairs the MWSS board]. There’s nothing new there,” he said.

Singson said his decision to chair the MWSS had raised eyebrows because “some people wanted to stay” in the agency.

He also said the Arroyo administration did not follow the charter and gave the posts to political appointees.

2 unauthorized transactions stopped at Pagcor, DPWH

2 unauthorized transactions stopped at Pagcor, DPWH
By Aurea Calica and Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Two unauthorized million-peso transactions were stopped at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

At PAGCOR, Chairman Cristino Naguiat managed to stop a P21.1-million disbursement by a resigned employee.

Jay Santiago, Naguiat’s lawyer, identified the former employee as Pedrito Adao, who was trying to encash a P21.1-million check at a bank. “The encashment was stopped because the bank, taking cognizance of the PAGCOR letter, confirmed with us,” he said.

Naguiat said he had sent a letter to banks informing them that he was the new signatory for all checks of PAGCOR.

The check, issued before he assumed office, was not given clearance, he added.

At the DPWH, Secretary Rogelio Singson stopped an P18-million “midnight contract” for the rehabilitation of a portion of the national highway in Guiuan, Eastern Samar after Rep. Ben Evardone informed him that the 11th-hour deal could result in the dissipation of funds allotted for the road project.

In his letter, Evardone said former public works secretary Victor Domingo inexplicably transferred the P18 million to the town of Guiuan on June 25, or five days before he was to end his stewardship of the DPWH.

The town hired a contractor because it has no engineering equipment and personnel, he added.

Domingo should not have transferred the funds to a local government that has no capability to undertake a road or construction project, he added.

Evardone said at the time Domingo transferred the funds, DPWH field personnel in Eastern Visayas had already started the bidding process for the project.

“They have advertized the project twice and have attracted at least eight bidders, who have already purchased bidding documents. Amid his field personnel’s preparations, out of the blue, Domingo gave away the funds to the town of Guiuan under a memorandum of agreement,” he said.

“He did not consult his district engineer, he did not consult his regional director for Eastern Visayas, not even his undersecretary for the Visayas,” he said.

“He alone made the decision, which is highly suspicious and questionable. “We don’t want any more taxpayers’ money wasted on projects poorly done and on things that my provincemates do not need.

“For instance, we have so many road signs and railings along roads that are rutted and need repairs. The money should have instead been used for rehabilitating these thoroughfares.” Evardone said the road signs and railings were the projects of his predecessor, defeated Rep. Teodulo Coquilla.

“I do not know why tens of millions of public funds had to be spent on these materials when the money would have been put to better use had they repairs the rutted roads instead.”

Naguiat: Banks had to clear checks with us

Naguiat, who serves as president of Eastern Pangasinan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., said he informed various banks to verify with the new PAGCOR management first before clearing checks.

Based on reports, Naguiat, a classmate of President Aquino at the Ateneo de Manila University, resigned from PAGCOR in 2001 due to differences with his predecessor, Efraim Genuino.

Naguiat had served for 15 years as chief financial officer of Pagcor, managing head of its treasury department and managing head of its audit department, all under the leadership of Alice Reyes who led the gambling agency from 1986 to 2001.

Naguiat said aside from these kinds of cases, Mr. Aquino also asked him to look into possible midnight deals entered into by his predecessor.

There were reportedly a lot of casino and poker licenses granted by Genuino’s board involving multi-million peso contracts. Earlier, Mr. Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the amount involved was P26 million.

However, Naguiat clarified it was P21 million.

Villar firm’s high-end project sits on land for poor

Villar firm’s high-end project sits on land for poor
By Aries Rufo
abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

LAST of 3 parts

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Manuel Villar may have built his P25-billion wealth on providing low-cost homes, but the practices of acquiring properties where real estate projects now stand showed a pattern of deceipt and corruption.

How land was acquired in Norzagaray in Bulacan, Imus Estate in Cavite, and for the Portofino project in Alabang are case studies of this pattern.

Related Content:


PART 1: Villar built business empire with deceit, corruption: ex-lawyer


PART 2: Villar firm faked titles through ‘layering’: ex-lawyer


PART 3: Villar firm’s high-end project sits on land for poor


PROFILE: The man who turned his back on Villar


SIDEBAR: Imus Estate land key to Villar-Ayala deal


SIDEBAR: Villar firms bribe and forge? The case of the undervalued crane


INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: How Villar company obtained titles to contested land


VILLAR CAMP’S REPLY: Land grabbing allegations mere black propaganda: Villar

Portofino, a flagship project of Britanny Corp., the Villar Group’s unit aimed at the luxury residential communities and upscale leisure developments, now sits on land meant for the poor.

Portofino was cited in a complaint by Restituto Mendoza, a former lawyer of the Villar Group, as one distinctive example of the corrupt practices of the group.

Mendoza, in a damning complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC ), said the real estate businesses of Villar pull strings in government agencies—like the Registry of Deeds and Land Management Bureau, the Department of Natural and Environment Resources, the Bureau of Customs to judges and justices, including in the Office of the President—to get their way.

In an interview with Newsbreak last April 7 in Mandaluyong City, Villar’s chief legal officer Ma. Nalen Rosario-Galang vehemently denied Mendoza’s allegations.

She said Mendoza had sought to blackmail Villar and his companies with his allegations of corruption “after he got slighted when told of his poor performance as an employee.”

She said Mendoza is only taking advantage of the political season to get attention. She pointed out that Mendoza “tried to sell his story” to Senators Jamby Madrigal and Panfilio Lacson, who both spearheaded the C-5 road extension inquiry. Advisers of the two senators rejected his “story,” Galang said, “since they know it cannot be used as evidence.”

Meant for low cost housing

Portofino is a 300-hectare community of different enclaves where houses and commercial areas have sun-drenched colors and high arched windows and archways. The architecture and design are inspired by a seaport town in Southern Italy named Portofino, meaning “fine gateway.”

But before the property became a gated subdivision and an enclave of the rich, Portofino was originally meant for low-cost houses .

The land was originally an agricultural land. The heirs of Conrado Potenciano owned 113 hectares.

In 1988, the Potenciano family and the National Housing Authority (NHA) entered into an agreement to develop the site for low-cost housing. The NHA is the government agency mandated to provide shelter to the lowest 30% of the urban population, most of them living in slums.

The NHA filed before the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) a request to convert the property from agricultural to non-agricultural. In 1989, it was granted.

The 1989 DAR conversion order gave Potenciano and the NHA 10 years to develop the site. The land’s tenants, who would have been the beneficiaries of the property had it been covered by the Comprehensive Agricultural Reform Program, were paid with disturbance compensation.

However, for some reason, the NHA backed out of the project.

With the NHA out, Potenciano and his heirs entered into a “Land Development Agreement” in 1993 with Adelfa Properties Inc. and Britanny Corp, both owned by the Villar Group. At the time, Villar, who has already made a stamp in the real estate industry, was a newly elected congressman and was starting a political career.

Daang Hari Road

In 1999, prior to the expiration of the 1989 DAR conversion order, Adelfa Properties and Britanny Corp. filed for an extension of the development period. It cited as grounds the construction of the Daang-Hari road, among others.

The Daang Hari road traverses Las Piñas and Bacoor, Cavite, in effect providing access points to Pontefino from existing major roads, including those that serve posh Ayala Alabang Village, and the Madrigal Business Park. (Newsbreak previously reported that the construction of Daang Hari was funded by the congressional allocation of Senator Villar in 2003 coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways.)

Adelfa Properties also sought a new order granting the conversion without any limitation to any specific use and development.

That same year, two groups of petitioners who are heirs of former tenants, asked the DAR to revoke its 1989 order and revert the property to agricultural land. The petitioners argued that the conversion plan was violated since the 10-year period has lapsed.

The DAR rejected the petitions of the two groups of petitioners, prompting them to separately appeal before the Office of the President and the Court of Appeals.

In March 2004, the Office of the President issued a resolution reclassifying the Potenciano property into agricultural land. Adelfa Properties filed a motion for reconsideration but was also denied.

The decision of the Office of the President, however, was short victory for the former tenants.

Connection to the president?

Mendoza, who was then hired by Adelfa Properties as in-house counsel, filed a second motion for consideration at the Office of the President. In October 2004, the Office of the President reversed itself and junked the tenants’ petition.

The Court of Appeals also junked the tenants’ petition.

Mendoza wrote on his labor complaint that he was elated for winning. It was his first big case. He was the one who insisted of filing a second motion for reconsideration, which is not generally entertained, but he argued it could be allowed be in exceptionally meritorious cases.

Mendoza thought he won the case through merit. He would have a rude awakening.

In the succeeding years of working with Villar’s lawyers and senior officers, he wrote that he found that the Potenciano case was won “through a connection within the Office of the President.”

SIDEBAR: Villar firms bribe and forge? The case of the undervalued crane


MANILA, Philippines – Customs officials were peppered with calls in 2009 to release a shipment that was confiscated because they were undervalued.

In an interview with Newsbreak, they said they were not aware that the confiscated shipment belonged to “people connected with a high official.”

They were referring to callers from companies associated with presidential aspirant Manuel Villar, Jr.

The shipment contained a tower crane, an equipment used in the construction of tall buildings. Real estate spawned the much-touted wealth of Villar, the only billionaire among elected officials. READ MORE

When he found this out, “it took complainant months to get over his guilt by knowing that he was instrumental to what he realized later as an injustice to hundreds of farmers hoping to regain their lost land,” Mendoza narrated.

Mendoza said that, when the farmers initially won at the Office of the President, they were seeking P25 million as settlement. He opposed the move, but curiously, Villar’s senior officers were willing to compromise. He bargained for P200,000, which the tenants at first accepted and later rejected.

He wrote that he would later realize Villar’s trusted men were getting kickbacks from settlement payments. The P200,000 settlement he was pushing apparently also angered Villar’s senior officers.

A separate source, who was privy to the case, said the conduit who secured the Office of the President reversal was a Villar associate, who got a juicy position when he was named Senate President. The associate was replaced when Villar was ousted as Senate chief in 2008. At the time, Sen. Lacson was pushing for the investigation of the C-5 road controversy.

Business ethics

Villar’s “Sipag at Tiyaga,” a catchy slogan that makes an emotional connection with the poor that they, too, can make it big, resonates the message that industry and perseverance, guided by ethics and principles, will make dreams come true.

But ethics and principles may not be among Villar’s strongest traits in business, Mendoza noted in his labor complaint.

Mendoza said the irregular practices of Villar’s lawyers were not so secret among themselves. He said Galang, Villar’s chief legal officer “was quite at ease with the knowledge that extra legal means were being done with the cases they were handling.”

When he confronted Galang about his moral dilemma, he was told that he “should act first as an officer of the company and not as a lawyer.” Mendoza said Galang reminded him “to just focus on the legal aspect and just let (Villar’s senior officers) and Adelfa’s engineers do all the ‘dirty’ work.”

Galang, in a separate interview, said that Mendoza has a problem with authority. “He thinks he is too good. That is why he did not last long with his previous employers.”

Villar told ABS-CBN News on April 13 that all their lands have titles and were acquired above-board. He added that negatives stories about his businesses, especially those on alleged land grabbing practices, are mere black propaganda– With reports and additional research from Ma. Althea Teves and Purple Romero, abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak

Editors’ note: We previously reported that, when Adelfa Properties was pursuing the reclassification issue with the Office of the President in March 2004, Villar and Arroyo critic Senator Alan Peter Cayetano aligned themselves with the opposition. We were wrong. Villar’s Nacionalista Party was not active during the 2004 national elections where both Villar and Cayetano supported President Arroyo’s bid. Cayetano joined calls for President Arroyo to resign in mid-2005 following the “Hello Garci” wiretapping scandal, but Villar did not. Villar later became Senate President.

How Villar built business empire with deceit, corruption: ex-lawyer

How Villar built business empire with deceit, corruption: ex-lawyer
By Aries Rufo
abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

First of 3 Parts

MANILA, Philippines – Octogenarian Maxima Policarpio had spent most of her life in the mountains of Norzagaray, a small town in Bulacan, near the foothills of the Sierra Madre. She had hoped to spend the twilight of her life there in peace and quiet, tending a tiny vegetable garden and surrounded by fruit-bearing trees she had planted many years ago.

Related Stories:

PART 2 of 3: Villar firm faked titles through ‘layering’: ex-lawyer
SIDEBAR: The man who turned his back on Villar
PROFILE: The man who turned his back on Villar
INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: How Villar company obtained titles to contested land
SIDEBAR: Imus Estate land key to Villar-Ayala deal

Last February, despite her age, she left the comfort of her town and braved Quezon City’s noise, pollution and confusion to join dozens of Norzagaray farmers seeking attention to the imminent loss of their ancestral lands. “I am here to protect my land. I may be old, but I still have rights.”

“We are up against an influential person,” she said.

That person is presidential aspirant and billionaire Senator Manuel Villar Jr.

Represented by a counsel, the farmers detailed how they lost their ancestral lands, in the blink of an eye, to companies connected with Villar.

They also told of harassment efforts to force them to leave their lands.

“Before, we would wake up and see all those crops pulled out from the soil. They would do it at night. We were helpless. Some of them were armed. What would you do? We would just put back the plants,” Inocencia Pascual, 67, said.

The harassment, however, stopped as the election season neared. And they knew it is only a respite. “Tapos kami pag nanalo sya (We’re finished if he wins),” Pascual said.

Contested land

Court records show that the contested land in Norzagaray is supposedly now the property of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas after it was mortgaged in 2001 by two companies where Villar’s wife, Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, has a stake.

The two companies–Capitol Development Bank (now Optimum Development Bank) and Manila Brickworks–defaulted on a P1.5 billion loan it secured from BSP in April 1998 following the financial crisis that hit Asian countries. The money was allegedly spent to finance the House Speakership bid that year of Villar, who was then a congressman.

Yet, documents gathered by Newsbreak show that the two companies acquired possession of the ancestral lands through fraud and manipulative layering scheme.

It appears that the Villars brought to life the defunct Manila Brickworks out of nowhere to act as the original owner of the contested land. Fake Transfer Certificates of Titles (TCTs) were produced in connivance with the Malolos Registry of Deeds to show possession of property.

Court records in Bulacan show that Manila Brickworks was originally owned by Puyat Enterprises and had claimed possession of the property in the 70s. Poultry houses were put up by Puyat Enterprises but abandoned the area after some time.

After years of inactivity, Manila Brickworks resurfaced in 1998 with new incorporators that interlocked with those of Capitol Development Bank.

Capitol Bank, which had financial problems attributed to the financial crisis, eventually sold select assets to Yuchengco-led RCBC Savings Bank to pay off some obligations, then was renamed  Optimum Development Bank. (Initially, we reported that Capitol Bank was closed. It was not. – Eds)

In June 2001, Optimum signed a deed of real estate mortgage over the questioned property in favor of BSP to secure Capitol and Manila Brickworks’ unpaid loans.

The conveyance of land titles, coupled with fake ones, from one alleged owner to another, creates different layers that were used as an argument to legitimize property acquisition.

This has been the standard operating procedure of Villar’s lawyers and companies to acquire government and previously awarded lands, according to a lawyer formerly employed by the Nacionalista Party bet.

Pandora’s box of testimony

The man who turned his back on Villar

Lawyer Restituto Mendoza is seeking restitution for his sins of commission and omission as a former employee of Senator Manuel Villar Jr’s. housing empire.

Mendoza has filed a labor complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) for his alleged illegal dismissal after refusing the game that Villar’s senior officers play.

In his complaint, he wrote that he turned a blind eye and deaf ears to the mischief that his employers were getting into and how they get out of trouble. But an unexpected twist of events made him see the light.

He is waging a lonely battle against the billionaire and his senior officers.

His labor complaint is also a tell-all account on how the businesses of Villar acquired land for property development. Read more

The Norzagaray land case is just one of the many legal cases faced by Villar’s real estate empire, which was spawned by the production and sale of affordable houses.

Interviews with different sources and documents show his companies have been fending off legal disputes, mostly land grabbing cases, like the Norzagaray case.

In 2004, Villar hired Atty. Restituto Mendoza to handle problematic raw land cases for Household Development Corp., one of the firms under his real estate empire.

Mendoza has a pending complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission for illegal dismissal. Named respondents were Villar, his flagship real estate firm Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc., Casa Regalia, Adelfa Properties and lawyers and officers of the companies. Newsbreak obtained a copy of the complaint, including other documents.

In the labor case, Mendoza opened the Pandora’s box of irregularities of Villar’s businesses, practices and ethics. It was a tell-all testimony, bordering on violating the lawyer-client privilege, as he accused Villar of bribery, corruption, deceit and fraud in rebuilding his empire from bankruptcy.

Mendoza charged Villar on the ground that he is well aware of the practices of the firms’ senior officers—from paying off government officials and judges to faking titles—to skirt potential legal issues. Mendoza said Villar is a hands-on manager, supposedly even concerned about where to put trash cans in the subdivision projects.

Newsbreak sought to corroborate Mendoza’s serious allegations, which included duping another land developer, Ayala Land, and an alleged attempt to bribe Customs officials to release an undervalued crane imported by his company, MGS Corp. (Details in Part 3 of the series, to be published on April 14.) We found some corroborative documents and information to back up Mendoza’s claims.

Ayala Land, which got questionable titles as in exchange for a previous P300 million loan from a Villar firm, has yet to reply to our query as of this posting. (Read: Imus Estate land key to Villar-Ayala deal)

Customs officials, on the other hand, provided data of the botched importation. (Details in Part 3)

Violation of lawyer-client relationship

Villar’s chief legal officer, Ma. Nalen Rosero-Galang, who has been countering the land grabbing complaints hurled against Villar since the campaign began, dismissed Mendoza’s stories and narration as “all lies.” In an interview with Newsbreak, Galang said she is “shocked of Mendoza’s allegations.”

Galang pointed out that Mendoza took five years to come out and expose the unethical practices of Villar’s businesses.

“I would have wanted to ignore him so as not to dignify his claims,” Galang said in an interview. Besides, she added that Mendoza’s claims would not have been admissible in court since “it violates the lawyer-client relationship.”

“Actually I pity him, since no one would want to hire him as a lawyer after this,” she added.

We also sought to interview Mendoza, but he begged off, saying his complaint would suffice. Mendoza was dismissed in May last year and filed his complaint in August.

The C-5 controversy

In his complaint, Mendoza mentioned some of the properties that benefitted from the controversial C5 road extenstion project. The road traversed through 50-52 hectares of Villar’s property holdings.

Villar’s peers in the Senate conducted ethics committee hearings. In a report, the senators found Villar guilty of conflict of interest when he supposedly benefited from the P6.96 billion road project. A public works feasibility study stated that Villar conceived and funded the project.

Mendoza provided the context in the arrangement between two real estate properties associated with Villar. Masaito Development Corp and Adelfa Properties supposedly swapped properties affected by the C5 road extension.

Based on documents submitted by Mendoza to the NLRC, it was Villar’s Adelfa Properties that initiated the arrangement with Masaito. Adelfa then claimed the bulk of expropriation proceeds from the Masaito property.

The agreement stated Masaito would only get only P7 million while Adelfa would get the remainder, amounting to P15 million.

A total of P168.1 million was paid by the government for the right of way involving Villar’s properties while only P22 million for non-Villar properties.

And yet, based on Mendoza’s claims on the Masaito agreement, through careful planning and foresight, Villar even got proceeds from his supposed non-properties.

Why would Masaito agree to swap properties with Adelfa if it would be paid for the right of way anyway? Was government informed about the swap or was there an attempt to cloak it through internal arrangement?

Internal arrangement

A source familiar with the case said that Villar’s senior officers had anticipated the road extension would pass through the Masaito properties. The properties were raw lands at that time and would have commanded low zonal valuation.

Yet, through connections in the DPWH and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Masaito property was valued at P30,000 per square meter, a “unique” situation that Adriano told the Senate since it was the only property that commanded that high price.

In the Senate probe, former revenue district officer Carmelita Bacod admitted that the valuation was “grossly disadvantageous to the government.”

The source explained that Masaito knew it would only get a lower zonal valuation and thus, lower payment for its properties, if only government would have its way. Entering into an agreement would be a win-win situation for both Adelfa and Masaito—the former gets a portion of the right of way payment without essentially losing with its property while the latter gets the bulk of the proceeds.

To facilitate the agreement, Masaito and Adelfa signed a memorandum of undertaking (MOU) where they agreed to open a joint bank account at the Landbank where expropriation proceeds would be deposited. Adelfa president Jerry Navarette and Masaito president Joseph Wang would be the joint signatories.

After the first tranche of P22 million has been deposited, of which P7 million would given to Masaito, Adelfa would assume “sole right” of the remainder of the proceeds, the MOU stated. Navarrete would then be the sole signatory of the Landbank account.

Mendoza said it was the C5 controversy that shattered his respect of Villar. He recalled that he was the one who drafted the Masaito agreement upon hearing Senator Jamby Madrigal mentioning the company. “Evidently, Senator Villar was not telling the truth when he had been consistently denying in public that he and his companies never received a single centavo from the C-5 road extension project,” Mendoza said.

In drafting the Masaito-Adelfa agreement, Mendoza said he “unknowingly had been an instrument of corruption in what is now the C5 road scandal.”

In his Feb. 2 speech before the Senate to rebut the ethics, Villar maintained that he did not financially benefit from the C5 project. “Wala po akong ninakaw sa kaban ng bayan. Wala po akong kasalanan, wala pong anomalya sa C5 project at hindi po ako nakinabang,” Villar said. – With reports and additional research from Althea Teves and Purple Romero, abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak