DFA does not have a reputation for big time graft. Sure, we’ve heard of passport syndicates here and there but a shady billion peso “no-bid” contract is something new to The Department.
The Daily Tribune reported that “The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is silently processing machine-readable passports amid unresolved legalities involving the multibillion-peso project.”
The report cites suspicions aired by certain Department officials over the awarding of a “no-bid contract” to a French company, Hologram.READ HERE.
The Tribune said, “Suspicions of an anomaly arose when the passport modernization project was terminated two years ago but was resumed later after its contract was awarded to a Paris-based company, Hologram, with no bidding having been undertaken.”
In a related article, Manila Standard-Today columnist, Alvin Capino, points to a DOJ “warning to the Department of Foreign Affairs not to proceed with a multi-billion peso deal with the French company.”
He adds, “Several weeks ago, we aired the concern leaking out of the trade department. Insiders from the Department of Trade and Industry said the deal in question was masked as “technical assistance” by Hologram to DFA. Apparently, however, it seemed more like a clever way to get around Philippine procurement laws.”
The Department has been very secretive about this deal. It has refused to discuss it openly or make public its communications with the BSP(Bangko Sentral ng Piliinas) and Hologram.
The original bidding committee for machine readable passports included the Office of Legal Affairs and the Usec for Administration, but they were “looped out” by Secretary Romulo last year. The Office of Consular Affairs was given exclusive control over the project.
The buzz in the Department is Usec.Ebdalin was pressured by Sec. Romulo into signing a memo saying the arrangement with Hologram is okay.
The Department may have a lot of administrative problems – extensions for retired officers, extensions at posts, rotation of assignments, and even passport syndicates here and there – but, as far as we know, it has never been implicated in anything like this suspicious passport deal.
If Sec.Romulo cares about the reputation of the Department he heads, he should make all the documents and communications of this “no-bid contract” available for public scrutiny.
Transparency is, after all, the best defense against allegations of irregularity and impropriety.
The Supremes asked Koko if he had any proof of fraud.
Koko replied what more proof do you need?
The Supremes threw him out.
Moral of the story: Do your homework and do not be your own lawyer.
Statistical improbabilities and missing election documents aside, Migz Zubiri will be proclaimed senator by Saturday. No wonder he looks so happy and gay in this photo.
Maguindanao will be the only province in the Philippines owed favors by Malacanan and the Senate.
Henceforth, June 30 will be celebrated as Maguindanao Day.
Comparisons can be drawn between the “theft” of the ZTE contract and Lintang Bedol’s election documents.
Both were “stolen” just when people were beginning to ask questions.
Both were thefts of convenience: The ZTE contract “theft” allowed DOTC to reconstitute the contract. The Maguindanao election documents “theft” allowed Ben Abalos to find “extra” copies of the missing documents.
The common denominator here is Abalos.
So far, the mysterious player in the ZTE deal has only been mentioned in media reports as a high election official. No one in the reporting business, not even Jarius Bondoc, the Philippine Star columnist who has been criticizing the ZTE deal, has mentioned Abalos’ name.
Everybody has heard about the involvement of Abalos in the ZTE deal but no one has said his name yet.
Hope we don’t have to wait until the Senate elects a new presiding officer and picks a new Blue Ribbon committee chair.
Some intrepid and gutsy reporter should report on Abalos’ involvement in the ZTE deal. After all, it’s much bigger than the poll automation deal.
In his Arab News column Manuel L. Quezon III takes us back to an era that bears a striking resemblance to ours.
Philippine Economy: A Cautionary Tale
Manuel L. Quezon III, firstname.lastname@example.org
On June 22, William Pesek wrote in Bloomberg, that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seems frustrated with the skepticism expressed by foreign groups over her ability to keep control over the fiscal situation of the Philippine government. The skepticism began with Standard & Poor’s postelection announcement that inefficient tax collection was resulting in government being unable to meet its income goals. On June 14, Moody’s Investors Services said something similar. Fitch Ratings chimed in, last week, saying the same thing: Weak tax revenues would push the deficit up. And Monday, JP Morgan also said the Philippines was expected to be unable to meet its deficit goals.
Pesek said there’s a simple enough reason why skepticism tends to greet Philippine government actions, even if the same observers go through periods of praising government efforts. “Unfair as that may sound, investors have a funny way of remembering when a government defaults on debt, as the Philippines did two decades ago,” he wrote. It’s useful, I think, to revisit the period Pesek referred to.
President Ferdinand E. Marcos had plied businessmen with pro-business decrees, and while the economy hummed along no one complained. But when the economy, which had grown by an average of over 6 percent in the first seven years of martial law, began to falter (down to 5.4 percent growth in 1980, 3 in 1981, and 2.6 the year after), businessmen worried about an economy and a country so firmly tied up with Marcos and his friends.
Manuel Buencamino on the real motive behind some high profile robberies.
Dispatches from the Enchanted Kingdom
My Palace source was concerned about the recent surge of robberies.
“People have no respect for anything anymore,” he lamented.
“Because someone stole election documents from Lintang Bedol?”
“Yes, but that’s not the only robbery that occurred,” he replied.
“Who else was robbed?” I asked.
“Well, remember that $329-million contract signed between DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) and ZTE, the one Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo witnessed?”
“It was stolen from the hotel room of the Philippine commercial attaché.”
“Really? Why? Who?” I asked.
“We think it was done by people who wanted to derail the contract.”
Bayan Muna party-list poll watchers walked out of the special canvassing at Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao when the special board of canvassers refused to stop counting votes from 16 municipalities where the number of botes cast exceeded the number of registered voters.
Bayan Muna lawyer Neri Colmenares told ABS-CBN news:
“We just walked out of the canvassing dito sa Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao when the board denied our objection to the canvass of votes in 16 municipalities na sumobra and total votes cast sa number of registered voters. Given what has happened, we expect nothing meaningful or truthful to come out from the so-called special canvassing.”
Sorry Neri, but the special board of canvassers have their orders.
Lintang Bedol granted an interview to Inquirer and GMA-TV at his lair in Maguindanao.
In today’s Yellow Pad piece in Business World, Alex Angara tells our government officials to review their approach to the population issue. Maybe it’s time to think rationally.
By Alex Angara
Acknowledgment: Many thanks to Carlos Celdran for condensing all those years of Sibika at Kultura lessons into a palatable two-hour interpretation of Philippine colonial history. A note of caution to the pedantic, however: While the bite-sized treats of history may have satisfied non-historians like myself and my companions on the tour, historical “inaccuracies” may be spotted below. The presence of such so-called inaccuracies at the very least provides me with an introduction and does not detract from the gist of this piece (besides, isn’t history about interpretation, anyway?).
The world is flat, they said. No, I am not referring to Thomas L. Friedman, nor am I referring to the members of the modern-day Flat Earth Society. Apparently, the Philippines was seen to be at the very end of the world by the Spanish monarch. Venture any further than Las Islas Filipinas and one would allegedly fall off the face of the earth. Our country was considered a far-flung province of Mexico, not even a colony in her own right. And when King Felipe II wanted to rid his ranks of certain people, they were supposedly assigned to the remote Philippine Islands. Such was the importance given to the Philippines by the Spanish Monarch.
Though probably valued somewhat as an acquisition in herself, the Philippines apparently was not valued enough by the king to attract his undivided attention and resources. As such, the Catholic priests brought over from Spain were left largely to their own devices when it came to moving and shaking the archipelago. While the dominance of the Church hierarchy may have had some benefits (such as the preservation of our dialects, contributions to education, and so on) it seems justifiable to say that not all moving and shaking was necessarily a good thing—perhaps Jose Rizal’s Padre Damaso comes to mind?
The exact word Carlos used to describe the state of the Philippines during this time was “theocracy”: Las Islas Filipinas was largely governed by the Catholic Church during the Spanish occupation. In hindsight, it is rather ironic how some things do not seem to have changed very much. Despite it being 109 years post-liberation from Spanish rule—and despite being occupied by the Americans for several decades (during which the notion of secularism was introduced to us—it appears that in some respects we still have not been able to properly separate the Church from matters of the State.