The Speaker’s wife breaks her silence

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the September 29th, 2007


The Inquirer ran a story on the rift between the De Venecia’s and the Arroyos. (READ HERE)

Mrs. Gina De Venecia said she was aware that the Arroyos were hurt by her stepson’s revelations but she also felt the same about the Palace counterattack – “”But I am also emotionally hurt when they attack my husband and my son.”

Gina also revealed that her family received death threats.

Here’s other quotes from Gina:

“”If you call it a crack, I don’t know. What happened was really difficult for our families but the issue here is not friendship or relationship but what is for the Filipino people…It’s a very difficult situation for all of us but the truth will set us free”

And this is what she said about Joey’s revelation:

“What he said was what really happened. Walang dagdag, walang bawas [No more, no less].”

As to Northrail, this is what she said:

“Where did this propaganda come from? The paper [that reported that] is owned by a businessman who is the best friend of Mike Arroyo. The person who Secretary Neri said was involved in ports services? Let’s be vigilant and find out who these persons are and their motives.”

The rift is beginning to look like a chasm. Let’s hope it leads to Gloria’s impeachment.

“I told them that what I need to do is bring out the truth. I am not appealing to anyone to agree with what [Joey] says or to support what he is doing. Just give him a fair treatment”….”give Joey fair treatment in the same manner that I begged the congressmen to give the President a fair treatment when she was being impeached in 2004.”

Romy Didn’t Tell the truth

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the September 27th, 2007

(Photo filched from Ellen Tordesillas)

I signed the AER (Action for Economic Reforms) manifesto, “Tell the Truth” , urging Romulo Neri “to be forthcoming about all that he knows regarding how the (NBN) contract was sponsored, negotiated and signed.

The AER manifesto began with, “We remember former socioeconomic secretary Romy Neri as part of a generation of principled, young and idealistic men and women who sought reforms in Philippine society. A martyr to the cause, Edgar Jopson, was his friend and classmate,”

Well, the young and idealistic Romy is just a memory now. Last Wednesday, the would-be martyr for truth turned into a hitman for the Arroyo couple.

He testified that Comelec Chairman offered him a bribe while they were playing a round of golf in Wack Wack Golf and Country Club. He told the Senate multi-committee hearing on the ZTE deal that he told Gloria Arroyo about it, that he declined to accept it, and Mrs. Arroyo told him to forget the bribe offer and to approve the NBN project.

And then he refused to say anything more.He hid behind executive privilege despite senators reminding him he had no right to invoke it.

Late into the hearing, Senator Lacson presented Romy with an alternate route to the truth, a way around the executive privilege conundrum. Lacson asked Philstar columnist Jarius Bondoc if he was willing to talk about the many conversations he had with Neri about the NBN project. Bondoc said he would, if Romy granted him permission.

Lacson asked Romy if he would allow Jarius to speak, if he would release Bondoc from the confidentiality between a journalist and his source. Romy replied, I do not grant him permission.

That confirmed Romy was not interested telling the whole truth.

He went to the Senate to tell only that part of it that would destroy Abalos while offering maximum protection to his patroness and her consort.

AER’s message to Romy on the eve of his Senate testimony ended with this prayer,

“And so when he meets his most difficult test, we pray that his moral courage and conviction shine through.”

Our prayers were not answered. Romy failed the test, miserably. His moral courage and conviction were replaced by moral cowardice and acquiesence.

God must have been out playing golf.

The Rat

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the September 26th, 2007


I was at the Senate hearing all day, from 8 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

I went there to see Romy Neri confirm that Abalos did offer him a bribe. He did. But that’s as far as he would go.

The little shit hid behind executive privilege all day, refusing to reveal any more than that he reported the bribe offer to Gloria.

I must admit I was too distracted, enjoying too immensely, the skewering of Abalos I did not catch on to Neri immediately.

It was Ping Lacson who finally exposed Neri.

Lacson realized that Neri was not going to budge from his executive privelege position so he offered Neri a way out. If he couldn’t talk because of executive privilege then maybe Bondoc could do it for him, considering that he was a source of many of Bondoc’s information.

So Lacson asked Jarius Bondoc how many times he talked to Neri and if he was willing to reveal what they talked about.

Jarius replied, ‘yes but I have to ask Neri’s permission first.”

Lacson then asked Neri if he would permit Jarius to reveal the contents of their conversations.

Neri replied, ‘I will not grant permission.’

That’s it, I told myself. Neri was sent to rat on Abalos. He didn’t go to the Senate to tell the truth. He went there to throw Abalos to the wolves.

Joey de Venecia is an old and dear friend. We talked when he took a short break from the hearing.

He told me, “Romy just lost all his credibility.”

I added, “And whatever respect I had for him.”

Joey mentioned that Romy was getting texts from Malacanan all day. And, as soon as Gloria’s plane in New York, she started texting.

“He’s been receiving texts from the little micromanager,” Joey told me. (Romy was seated beside Bondoc who was seated beside Joey.)

Earlier in the day, there was a general call to go to Neri’s house in Sta. Mesa Heights to protect him from threats to his life.

Linggoy Alcuaz, who was at the Senate hearing, left early to organize the vigil.

Leah Navarro told me she was going to the vigil and asked me if I was going.

This was a few hours before Neri showed his true colors.

Leah and I were also texting each other even though we were both at the Senate because we were seated in different areas.

She had text me the details of the vigil and asked me to pass it on. Linggoy also texted me, adding he acquired eight tents.

After Neri blew it, I texted Leah. “Cancel the fucking vigil. Let the little rat fend for himself.”

Leah replied immediately, “Cancelled.” and gave me the thumbs up sign.

I texted Linggoy, “Kalimutan mo na yan vigil. Bahala na yan putanginang yan sa buhay niya.”

Linggoy did not reply. Maybe he’s in a tent somewhere in Sta. Mesa protecting a rat.

I always thought that Abalos was the most despicable character in the ZTE saga. I was wrong. Neri the RAT is.

The worst character in any criminal enterprise is the gang member who rats, the one who acts as the pawn to protect the capo de tuti capo by sacrificing another loyal consigliori.

I thought Neri was an eagle. He is a rat with wings.

One of Neri’s high school classmates, who was at the hearing to lend moral support to Neri and had left as soon as Neri refused to allow Bondoc to speak, texted me from his car: “Puta, kung lalake ang in-offer ni Abalos kay Neri malamang kumagat pa.”

Hora de peligro

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the September 25th, 2007


‘Hora de peligro?’

Today, we will know whether or not Romy Neri still remembers what he was taught at the Ateneo—to be a man for others—in the heterosexual sense, of course.

Will he remain a Blue Eagle or will he join those buzzards in Blue Eagles’ clothing?

Neri’s testimony is the missing link between the commissioner from the Commission on Elections and the grand commissioner from Malacañang. He can confirm whether or not Benjamin Abalos offered him a P200-million bribe, and that he told Gloria Arroyo about it but she ordered him to approve the project anyway.

That’s why Gloria Arroyo torpedoed his appearance at last week’s Senate hearing—anxiety from too much pressure causes an uncontrollable attack of the shits in some people.

On Saturday Gloria thought her problems would go away when she announced she was suspending not only the Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment Co. Ltd. (ZTE) deal but also the juicier cyber education project. Nice try.

So what’s next?

Gloria can reinvoke Executive Order 464 or she can coerce Neri to check into a hospital and claim that his intestinal flu turned out to be something more serious than he thought it was.

If Neri does check into a hospital, I hope it’s not the National Kidney Center. He just might end up with Raul Gonzalez’s discarded kidney.

Neri should just come forward and reveal everything he knows, if he knows anything.

“I can’t prove it” does not hold water because no one makes a written bribe offer. Romy will have to trust the public. But seriously, who will the public believe, Abalos and Gloria, or Neri?

Meanwhile, Malacañang beefed up Neri’s security detail because of reported threats to his life. Daw. It’s for his protection. Daw.

But who would want to kill Neri, the ones who want to hear his testimony or the ones who don’t want him to testify? And, who’s been trying to stop him from testifying?

Neri should realize that the threats are meant to prevent him from speaking out. Once he speaks out, he becomes untouchable. I hope he sees his best protection is to speak truth to power. We’ll see.

At any rate, let’s replay the buffoonery. . .

At a press conference, Sen. Miriam Santiago characterized Jose “Joey” de Venecia III’s behavior as “exceedingly strange,” “bizarre” and “against human nature.”

Miriam was sitting in the psychoanalyst’s chair instead of lying out on the couch. I love it!

At the Senate hearing, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile accused Joey (a son of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.) of deviousness and bad faith.

Johnny, who faked an ambush on himself to lay the false predicate for martial law, rides a high horse on the eve of the anniversary of his deviousness. Giddyup-a-dingdong!

After the Senate hearing, the President’s brother in law, Negros Occidental Rep. Jose Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, wondered if drugs damaged Joey’s mind.

Don’t bogart that joint, Iggy!

At her mother’s speaking engagement, Luli Arroyo did an impression of Annabelle Rama on Yilmaz Bektas in The Buzz.


And then Abalos denied the Wack Wack incident ever happened.

“It’s a big lie. There was no such meeting,” he said.

And he challenged anyone to prove otherwise. “Why don’t you ask Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza if there [was] such a meeting?”

But before anyone could ask Mendoza, the President’s husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, Querubin de la Torre, Jimmy Paz, Ruben Reyes and the attending waiter if indeed such a “no-meeting” occurred, Mike Arroyo’s lawyer, Jess Santos, jumped out of the wood-work and repeated Abalos’s denial. . . only to turn around and admit,

“Mr. Arroyo had gone to Wack Wack that day simply to play golf when the young de Venecia arrived and sat beside Secretary Larry Mendoza.Mr. Arroyo overheard the young de Venecia following up his project proposal with Secretary Mendoza.”

And then?

“De Venecia continued to follow up his project proposal to Mendoza, prompting Mr. Arroyo to remind the young de Venecia that he cannot be involved in any government transaction because he is the son of the Speaker.”

And all that can be summarized in two words: “Back off!” Right?

Santos studiously avoided the part about the “finger in Joey’s nose,” so I will spin it for him.

“Mr. Arroyo noticed a smudge in the young de Venecia’s nose so his paternal instinct made him reach out with his finger to remove it. He then stood up and asked the group of Jimmy Paz for a napkin so he could wipe his dirty finger clean. That’s why Joey was left talking to no one.”

Ayos ba, ’pañero Jess? Do I get to ride in the ambulance with you next time?

Romy Neri can bring the curtains down on Gloria’s dog-and-pony show. I hope he does.

It’s time somebody did.

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph.)

Calling all Blue Eagles!

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the September 25th, 2007

We just heard that Ateneans will attend tomorrow’s Senate hearing. To encourage Romy Neri to speak truth to power.

Meeting Place: Senate Gallery, GSIS Bldg. (near Cultural Center Complex and Sofitel Hotel)

Time: 9 a.m.

It’s about time Ateneans showed their colors. Time to prove to the world and to themselves they are not buzzards in Blue Eagles’ clothing.

(UPDATE) Yes, No, Yes, No, Maybe?

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the September 24th, 2007


The Daily Tribune reported “word had gotten around to the Palace that the United States Embassy was mulling the cancellation of the visa issued to Neri, ostensibly to prevent him from leaving the country.” (READ HERE)

That would explain Gloria’s flip-flopping.


At the CHED budget hearing, Romy Neri told Bayan partylist representative Teddy Casino he was informed by DFA that he was going to accompany Gloria Arroyo to New York. YES.

Then Bunye told reporters, “nakuryente lang si Neri” because Gloria never asked Neri to join her trip to New York. NO.

A couple of hours later Bunye took back his previous statement and said both Teves and Neri were going to New York because they were needed in a meeting on the UN’s Millenium Challenge Account. YES.

Then Eduardo Ermita announces that Gloria wanted Neri to attend the hearing. As a matter of fact, she ordered him to attend.NO.

Earlier in the day, a Palace source told me that Gloria sent word to Neri telling him he should join her in New York because if he stayed in Manila she would not be able to protect him from Abalos and Mendoza. MAYBE.

It’s only Monday evening and the hora de verdad is still a day and a half away. Gloria is pulling out all the stops to prevent Neri from testifying. Or if he does testify, that he will perjure himself. (READ HERE)

I think Gloria is in a state of panic. I wouldn’t be surprised if her trip to New York is postponed because of intestinal flu. She always gets it when she is totally stressed out.

Anyway, I would’t want to be in the same plane with her when her stomach starts rumbling. She may be tiny but we know she can raise a mighty stink. (nice pun di ba?)

Neri’s predicament

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the September 24th, 2007

Heroic leadership
By Manuel L. Quezon III
The dilemma Romulo Neri faces today is no laughing matter. His inability to appear at the Senate last week only makes public interest in his Wednesday appearance even more intense. In the rumor-infested uncertainty that surrounds the whole investigation, one bit of scuttlebutt glitters like a jewel. In a tension-filled Cabinet meeting, Neri supposedly told the President and his peers that he would not commit perjury. Most people who have heard this story immediately have the same reaction: yes, that sounds like him.

And so, this is why I call it a glittering jewel of a rumor: because most other rumors (some of which, later on, have proven to be true, such as the Wack-Wack meetings) tend to show officials behaving badly. This is one rumor that shows virtue: a clear, concise, demonstration of integrity. A line a man like Neri will not cross, whether out of fear for his mortal soul or a dedication to certain absolutes, whether in the laws of God or man.


Miriam reads Shakespeare

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the September 24th, 2007

Miriam reads Shakespeare

Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III
24 September 2007 Business World, Yellow Pad column

Methinks both Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza have been recently reading Shakespeare. It might be that their recent behavior has been influenced by Shakespeare’s plays. Why is this so? Allow me to answer this in a roundabout way.

When Senator Santiago speaks, she is like a Shakespearean character, but with an Ilonggo accent, about to recite: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” In the Senate inquiry into the National Broadband Network (NBN) project on 20 September 2007, Senator Santiago asked Secretary Mendoza if he had read the paper written by the University of the Philippines (UP) economic professors Raul Fabella and Emmanuel de Dios. The academic paper, “Lacking a backbone,” is an economic analysis of the NBN and Cyber-education projects. The media, academe, non-governmental organizations and the rest of civil society have widely quoted this paper, for it offers the most solid, scholarly critique on the two controversial projects. (Information disclosure: the authors acknowledged me and various experts and stakeholders in this paper. It can be downloaded from the Action for Economic Reforms website: (aer.ph)

However, Senator Santiago’s line of questioning was loaded. With her bizarre brand of bravado, she asserted that based on “raw information,” the paper of Professors Fabella and de Dios was written “under the persuasion and auspices” of a group called Agile (Accelerating Growth, Investment and Liberalization with Equity). The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided full funding to Agile.

In response to Senator Santiago’s questioning, Secretary Mendoza said that, and I quote the report from abscbnNEWS.com, “Agile is one of the groups that have been ‘practically demonizing’ the NBN deal.”

This script – Senator Santiago’s question and Secretary Mendoza’s answer – is a form of character assassination. They wanted to impugn the integrity and academic credentials of Messrs. Fabella and de Dios: That Fabella and de Dios are paid hacks and that they have been used to protect US interests.


Fly high, Romy

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the September 23rd, 2007


Our cartoonist Philip Gilmore has DOT secretary Peter Favila saying the “Lord’s Prayer” because scuttlebutt around town is he received some blessings. We hope it’s not true. He’s got such an honest face.

But Romy Neri is another matter altogether. He is under heavy guard. Provided by Malacanang. For his protection. Daw.

But who would want to kill Neri? The ones who want to hear his testimony or the ones who don’t want him to testify?

According to Ricky Carandang, “As of today, Neri is still committed to appearing before the senate on Wednesday. And according to some people who’ve spoken to him, he won’t volunteer any information, but if he’s asked the right questions, a few political bombs could detonate at the doorstep of Malacanang itself.” (READ HERE)

I don’t understand why Neri needs to be asked “the right questions.” Why can’t he just come forward and reveal what he knows if he knows anything? His original excuse that “he can’t prove anything anyway” does not hold water anymore. Joey de Venecia has spoken up under oath already. His and Joey’s statement would be mutually corroborating.

Besides, those threats to his life are meant to prevent him from speaking out. Once he speaks, no one will dare touch him. It wouldn’t require half a brain to figure out who ordered the hit if anything happens to him. But I guess Neri can’t see that his best protection is to speak truth to power.

So we have to live with Neri’s “unwilling cooperation”. But what about Malacanan? Will it gamble that Neri won’t get stricken by his conscience and just spill the beans without being asked the “right questions?”

Gloria can do two things to prevent Neri from speaking.

She can re-invoke EO 464 and Neri can hide behind it. And live in fear of his life. And bothered by his conscience forever.

Or she can coerce Neri to check-in to a hospital and claim that his intestinal flu turned out to be something more serious than he thought it was. If he does check-in to a hospital, I hope it’s not the National Kidney Center. He just might end up with Raul Gonzalez’ unwanted kidney.

Neri and Gloria have until Wednesday to make up their minds. In the meantime, the senators can start preparing for Abalos to show up and lie or to give some excuse for not showing up. We’ll see what happens….

As for me I have not given up hope that Neri still has some of the Blue Eagle in him and he will fly high. Not take flight, like that other guy, Mike.

Fly High Blue Eagle. Make your family and your alma matter proud!

Please Explain

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the September 22nd, 2007

Last August 1, 2007 the Justice Department declared the ZTE-DOTC contract legal.(READ HERE). The declaration was made solely on the basis of an exchange of correspondence between then prsidential chief of staff Mike Defensor and Chinese ambassador Li Jihun. The contract was unavailbale then.

As late as Aug 7, 2007 Palace in-house lawyer Sergio Apostol was asking, “where’s the contract?” (READ HERE)

But at last Thursday’s Senate hearing DOTC head Leandro Mendoza said that DOTC finished reconstructing the contract last May 24, 2007.It should have been available to the DOJ and the relevant cabinet members, right? (READ HERE)

So Mendoza hid the contract not only from the public but also to the government as well. Please explain….

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