JPE and Gigi, SB and Boyet
by Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III
Riveting. Nail biting. Spine-tingling. Titillating. The Senate gossip starring Juan Ponce Enrile or JPE and Gigi Reyes, his chief of staff, grabs our attention.
That the Philippine media have made it headline news is okay. After all, public interest is at stake. Gigi Reyes has been accused of being an unelected senator.
But the media and their audience are more interested about the alleged romance, not the public interest implications. Well, we are not alone. The US media brought out Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton and his cigar. The French press highlighted the ménage a trois that involved the French President Francois Hollande, his current lover, Valerie Trierweiler, and his ex-wife, Segolene Royal.
But let’s be politically correct for a moment. What happens in bed involving our high-level officials is none of our business. Only when public interest is screwed up can we citizens get involved.
The JPE-Gigi Reyes affair that should bother us is not the private one. What concerns us is whether their influence and actions have a bearing on public interest. The issue that involves public interest is not even about Gigi Reyes’s attendance in exclusive meetings of the Senate. Nor is it about her authority to sign checks or write memos to Senators.
The close relationship between JPE and Gigi Reyes is common knowledge in the Senate. But what has not surfaced, an open secret in the Senate, is the alleged connection of Gigi Reyes with a powerful lobbyist, which is Philip Morris. The tobacco industry, with Philip Morris having a market share of close to 95 percent, is said to be the most powerful tobacco lobby in Asia.
It is high time Gigi Reyes disclosed her relationship with Philip Morris.
The fact: JPE and his Senate faction voted against the sin tax reform that substantially increased tobacco excise taxes and that stripped the rules that gave Philip Morris and legacy brands unfair advantage over new entrants. Yet, back in 2004, JPE supported the essential reforms that are now found in the new sin tax law (which he opposed). The difference? At that time, Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco were mortal enemies, and the rules discriminated against the former. Thereafter, Philip Morris played a new game—by merging with Fortune Tobacco and having management control over the merger.
Philip Morris has far-reaching tentacles. In the Lower House, its allies are found in the so-called Northern Alliance, composed of Representatives from the tobacco-growing districts. More importantly, Philip Morris’s influence extends to the House leadership.
The information that leaked out from the bicameral conference meetings on the tobacco and alcohol excise taxes was that Speaker Sonny Belmonte (SB) and Majority Floor Leader Boyet Gonzales wanted to re-open the negotiations after the bicameral conference had agreed upon the essential reforms, including the high tax rates for tobacco and the adoption of a unitary tax for tobacco and beer.
Boyet Gonzales himself must make a disclosure. His law firm Gonzales Batiller David Leabres Reyes & Associates is said to serve Philip Morris.
The re-opening of the talks to water down the tax rates was pre-empted by two developments. First, Senator Frank Drilon had a press conference where he announced the reforms that the bicameral conference meeting sealed. Second, Representative Isidro Ungab, the reform-oriented Chair of the House’s Ways and Means Committee, told the Speaker and the Majority Floor Leader that he would resign as Chair of the Ways and Means and as member of the bicameral conference if any further compromises were made.
What then am I driving at? Let’s not deal with the alleged tryst between JPE and Gigi. The real issue is that JPE and Gigi are anti-reform, and they have something in common with SB and Boyet. JPE, Gigi, SB and Boyet are supposed to be allies of the Aquino administration; yet they block the Aquino administration’s reform agenda.
The sin tax law is the best proxy for the Aquino reform agenda. It addresses both economic and political reforms, and the struggle to have it passed pitted public interest against powerful vested interests. That JPE and Gigi opposed the sin tax and that SB and Boyet tried to undermine its passage should be enough indication that they cannot be trusted in pursuing other critical daang-matuwid reforms.
Indeed, in the Lower House, we again are witness to the non-cooperation of SB and Boyet. They are trying to kill in a soft and subtle way the bill on freedom of information (FOI). What are they afraid of?
The President and his spokespersons have spoken: Malacañang has given its inputs and amendments to the bill; the President wants the House to have plenary debates on the bill. Yet, SB and Boyet have ignored this. They are using all the tricks to delay the plenary deliberations on the FOI. And with less than a week of working sessions in the House, such delaying tactics have rendered the FOI bill dead in the water. Only the intervention of Malacañang can revive the bill.
But as PNoy himself said, “nothing is impossible.” A new coalition of the Executive, the reformers in the legislature, and civil society must be built to make JPE and Gigi and SB and Boyet inutile.
“I can’t live if living is without you” - Mariah Carey
Let’s put a stop to all the talk about an illicit love affair between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his long time chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes. It is none of our business what Enrile does with his staff.
Our only business is with Enrile’s pubic life, whether he behaved above board in handling the finances of the Senate and whether or not Atty. Reyes stepped over the line as Enrile’s most trusted staff aide. So let’s move on and give Atty. Reyes credit for tendering her irrevocable resignation immediately after Sen. Cayetano’s privilege speech.
Everyone agrees she did the right thing except Enrile, to whom she is indispensable. “I will talk to her. I will convince her to stay because there are so many administrative matters that I can no longer handle and which she is more knowledgeable,” he said.
I was curious how Enrile would use his persuasive powers to talk Reyes out of her decision so I activated the listening device that I surreptitiously implanted on Enrile’s neck many years ago, back when I was working undercover for a not-to-be-named spy agency.
I turned the device on by remote control and put on my headphones. I waited. And waited. That’s what spies do 99 percent of the time. We wait. I must have fallen asleep at some point because Johnny and Gigi were in the thick of it when I finally caught up with them.
“My God Gigi, don’t let go now! Hold tight!”
“It’s going to get very messy if I don’t let go right now, Sir.”
“I don’t care about the mess! Just keep doing what you are doing.”
“But, Sir, quitting now is for your own good. It’s the only way to stop Senator Alan Peter from shafting you with your own staff.”
“You can’t quit! You know I can’t do it by myself anymore. Not at my age. You have to help me out.”
“I’m tired of it. What else can I say?”
“Gigi, I’ve never had anyone like you working on my staff. I’ve grown to depend on your helping hand.”
“But everyone in the office can do what I do for you. I trained all of them. They won’t leave you hanging high and dry, they know as much as I do about giving you complete staff work.”
“Hija, I don’t mind if they take over from you every once in a while but not full-time. It will take too long for me to get used to a new hand. I’m too old for that.”
“Look at it on the bright side, Sir. We had a great run.”
“Don’t talk to me in the past tense! My God, I’m still Senate President. I have a lot of power. And so do you. I made you chief of staff because I needed a good head in my office. You are the best I’ve ever had.”
“Thank you. But Sir…”
“Anong but but? What’s the matter, are you tired of heading my staff? Don’t you like it anymore?”
“I never said I did not like it.”
“Then why do you want to stop what you are doing?”
“It will explode in our faces if I don’t. Cool off a bit, we can always pick up where we left off.”
“My God, Gigi, I don’t have time to play around. I’m not young anymore.”
“Sir, I’ve made my decision. I’m going, I blew it and that’s it. I won’t take you down with me as well.”
“Sir, your BP is shooting up. Let’s stop this. NOW.”
“MY GOD, GIGI…”
I don’t know what happened next because my wife called from downstairs, “Get your ass down here breakfast is getting cold!”
I rushed downstairs and told her, “Honey, you’re not going to believe what I listened to all night long…” hoping that would explain why I overslept.
“What do you mean listened? You started to snore as soon as you put on your headphone. You were dreaming.”
“Yes and you’re perspiring, what did you dream about?”
“Oh nothing, just another staffer getting a mouthful from her boss.”
“Inflicting pain on the weak is the aphrodisiac of the powerful” – Charles Simic
“Ambush me na naman ang ginawa ni Enrile,” said my Cordillera guru, Jobak, after he heard Enrile declare in a privilege speech, “I reiterate my motion to declare the position of Senate President vacant.”
“Be careful Master,” I cautioned him. “He might sue you for libel.”
“If he really wanted to spare the Senate “the venom which is aimed solely at me” then he could have simply submitted his irrevocable resignation, ‘di ba? Tapos na ang usapan sana! But instead of putting a gun to his head he asked his colleagues to shoot him. Ano pa ang tawag dun kung hindi ambush me please?” he explained.
“But why would he do that?” I asked.
“Because in parliament when a member makes a motion the door is open to an objection. Alam na niya yun. Para ka naman tanga,” he said before hitting my head with his rod.
“Aray! But how could he be sure that his motion to declare the Senate presidency vacant would not be carried?” I asked with my arms covering my head.
“Eh ikaw ba naman kung napamaskuhan ka ng mahigit na isang milyon sisipain mo ba yun nag regalo sa iyo?”
I changed the subject. “Master, I do not understand why Sen. Lacson who does not even accept his pork barrel is defending Enrile and attacking his critics.”
“Are you familiar with the various committees in the Senate?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Good. Then tell me about the Senate Committee on Accounts and who chairs it,” he said.
“Committee on Accounts?”
“Torpe!” Another blow to my head. “The Senate Committee on Accounts is in charge of ‘auditing and adjustment of all accounts chargeable against the funds for the expenses and activities of the Senate.’ I-google mo! Sen Lacson chairs that committee. Now do you see why Sen Lacson is so defensive?” he raised his rod again.
“Yes, Master. So that’s the end of that chapter in the annals of Senate corruption?”
“It all depends on how far those four senators are willing to go. They can still raise a lot of ethical issues if they are willing to incur the ire of their colleagues and subject themselves to scrutiny as well.”
“Do you think they will do that, Master?”
“Are you asking me if any or all four of those complaining politicians are going to pursue a scorched earth policy against their own house?”
“Yes. Will they sacrifice themselves for daan matuwid in the Senate?”
“Do leopards change their spots?”
Who’s blocking Freedom of Information?
Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III
Some quarters, including the media, are blaming President Noynoy Aquino or PNoy for the long delay in the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. They say the FOI’s main obstruction is P-Noy’s fear, uneasiness, reluctance, or passivity.
Some politicians in the House of Representatives then use this as an excuse not to act on FOI, killing it softly, ostensibly to protect the President and gain his favor.
Take this story from Interaksyon,com (16 January 2013), which reinforces the above perception. The title is: “With time running out, PNoy remains passive on FOI.” Really? Read the article; the author of the story, Dexter San Pedro, quotes PNoy’s remarks:
“’Well, tatanungin nga natin, ilang araw na lang natitira sa session ng Kongreso pagpasok. ‘Di ba, proseso nila ‘yan. Naibigay na namin ang inputs namin sa FOI. Ang pagkaintindi ko’y matatanggap ’yung mga amendments na minungkahi namin so hinihintay na namin ‘yung finished na output [There are only a few session days left for Congress. But that is their process, right? We have already given our inputs on the FOI. Our understanding is that they have accepted the amendments that we have proposed so we are waiting for the finished output].”’
PNoy’s statement above should by now dispel any doubt about his desire to have the FOI passed. FOI was his election campaign promise. The FOI is a crucial element of the administration’s open government program (OGP).
The expression of Malacañang commitment to FOI is found in its inputs and amendments to the Congress bill. In fact these have been incorporated into the House’s FOI bill, sponsored by Representative Erin Tañada and others. The House bill reflects and upholds the Malacañang view on FOI. The House bill is essentially the Malacañang bill.
The perception that PNoy is passive about FOI or even resistant to it is thus dead wrong. Yes, he has concerns about the misuse of government information (understandable in light of attempts of vested interests to use any means to undermine the credibility of his reforms) and the threat to national security (understandable in light of the tense maritime disputes between the Philippines and China). But the FOI bill approved by the Senate and the bill pending in the House have amply addressed these concerns.
PNoy is now signaling Congress to act on FOI. To repeat and paraphrase what PNoy said: Malacañang is done with the amendments and inputs for FOI and have submitted them to Congress. Congress has accepted accepted them. We are waiting for Congress to make the final output, which is the passage of the bill. So to the House leadership, just do it!
Yet what has the House leadership done? The opposite of what PNoy wants it to do. It has not calendared the FOI, which has been approved by the House’s Public Information Committee, for the plenary debate.
Each session day is critical. Only nine sessions days remain before Congress adjourns, and by then everyone will be attending to the elections.
Not calendaring the FOI for discussion means only one thing: The House leadership is sabotaging the FOI. It cannot even accommodate a debate on the FOI.
We anticipate the leadership’s excuse. Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Majority Floor Leader Boyet Gonzales will tell the FOI champions in Congress that they are doing PNoy a favor by not having FOI passed. They will announce to everyone that they are trying their best to pass FOI, but there’s not enough time to have it passed.
All this is BS. Speaker Belmonte, also known as SB, will be made accountable for the non-passage of the FOI in this Congress. SB cannot use as an excuse the lack of time because he and Boyet Gonzales have used all the tricks to delay its passage. Moreover, it will be ugly and awful for SB and his followers to use PNoy as the excuse for failing to pass FOI.
We applauded SB before, for despite the intense pressure from his peers in Congress, he facilitated the impeachment of former Chief Justice Corona and the approval of important controversial bills, namely the sin tax reform and reproductive health (or responsible parenthood).
But it will be a great tragedy for SB if it turns out that he is the main obstacle to FOI. Let not his record be stained; let it not be him who causes embarrassment to PNoy, Malacañang and Congress. Ultimately, SB must act to move forward the FOI and prevent this disaster from happening.
You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation. —Billie Holiday
Somebody finally blew the whistle on the practice of distributing year-end “savings” as dividends. The response of those exposed by the whistleblower is typical trapo.
The first line of defense is eh legal naman yung ginawa ko (What I did was legal). Laws, the opinion of the Commission on Audit (COA), even constitutional provisions on the separation and independence of various branches, independent constitutional commissions, and agencies of government are thrown up as justifications.
Second, yan talaga ang kalakaran (That’s how things have always been done). Hindi lang naman ang senado ang gumagawa niyan, ganyan din ang Kongreso, ang Executive, at ang Judiciary. Bakit Senado lang ang pinag-iinitan? (It’s not just the Senate that does this, the Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary also do this. How come it’s only the Senate that’s getting the flak?)
The third defense is tied to the second – pinupulitika lang ako ng mga gustong kumuha ng puwesto ko; bakit ngayong lang malapit na ang eleksyon?; tumatanggap naman sila dati ng dibidendo bakit biglang naging isyu ngayon?
Except for four senators nobody in government has said or done one thing to address the anomaly. Maybe nobody sees anything wrong because year-end dividends are deemed legal. But just because Congress passed laws and resolutions allowing itself, and other government agencies, to spend “savings” as they see fit does not make it right. Legal is not a synonym of ethical.
Let’s put it this way: everyone in government is a public servant. Servant is the operative word. They are all salaried employees. They may have fancy titles like Honorable this or Excellency that and all sorts of powers but all of that comes from the public. In other words, mga alila pa din sila kahit ano pa ang suot nila. The public gives them powers so they can serve the public’s interest and whims and not for any other reason. Let us not forget this.
When public servants say we elected or appointed them to represent and lead us let us keep in mind that they are still mere employees. They do not lead, we lead. We give the orders. We tell them where we want to go, they are supposed to get us there and when they fail, we fire them. We own them, we write their paychecks and they have no powers or privileges except whatever we chose and may choose to grant them. They have no rights. It’s as simple as that.
Now to illustrate how utterly dishonest, and stupid, the reason the Senate gave for granting year-end dividends was, suppose you tell your maid to go to the corner store to buy a bottle of suka.
“Bumili ka nga ng suka, hija. Magkano ba yun?”
“Hindi po ako sure pero siguro magkakasya na po ang singkwenta (P50)”
“O heto. Bilisan mo.”
The maid returns from the store with the bottle of suka.
“Magkano ang nagastos mo para sa suka?”
“Treinta (P30) po.”
“Good. Nasaan ang sukli?”
“Nasaan ang sukli ko?”
“Eh ginastos ko na po pambili ng load sa cp ko.”
“Eh akala ko po…”
“Anong akala mo, keep the change?”
Next May, we get to hire and fire servants again. Let’s exercise our prerogative wisely.
This blog was hacked twice. First by a hacker who goes by the name of walangkadji. I wrote a post thanking walangkadji. “Fuck you very much” I told him. The response I got, instead of “welcome”, was to be hacked again by walangkadji’s cohorts. I guess hackers run in packs. Like azkals.
There are good hackers and bad hackers. Good hackers are those who make positive contributions, those who expose dirty linen or who take down sites belonging to people or organizations that victimize good people. Then there are the hackers who are nihilists, who steal or deface or take down sites for the hell of it because well that’s what they do. And it’s about all they can do.
They have the smarts to hack but they don’t have the ability to communicate. The internet just reminds them of their handicap so they hate it. They prevent normal human beings from communicating with one another. It’s not enough for them to lurk in the shadows to look and listen while the rest of us interact. No, they would rather we all become like them, unable to share information, ideas, feelings. Poor hate-filled fuckers.
What could be the reason for such a hateful attitude towards the rest of humanity? Could it be because they grew up in a household where their father beat up their mother everyday because she did not have enough sense to have them aborted? But how could she know that such a beautiful gift would turn out to be a piece of shit? Or is it the mother who beats up the father for not wearing a condom when he fucked her? But how could he know that out of the millions of sperms living in his balls the one who would turn out to be a useless piece of shit will be the one that would win the race?
Poor un-wanted un-aborted fetus, he can’t take it out on his folks because they feed and house him. They even bought him a computer which he now uses to take revenge on a world that does not want him.
I don’t know if anyone has ever told them this so I will:
Guys, you unloved, un-aborted, unable to communicate nihilist hackers, suicide is painless. You won’t feel anything after you do it.
Whatever you may feel before you do it is nothing but your fear of the unknown, the sudden change from your sorry life to whatever awaits your kind. So don’t be afraid. Your life is painful and useless enough as it is and it’s never going to change so ending it right now is the best thing that can ever happen to you.
It will liberate you from the cruelty of a world that never wanted you in the first place. Your life will be better once you’re dead. Kill yourself now.
Jump off a high-rise, you will get a rush on the way down. Put a gun to your head, you will experience the greatest pyrotechnic show ever. Or you can slash your wrists or turn on the gas and put your head in the oven or take a bottle of pills if drifting away is the only method that your cowardly self has the guts to do.
Any method will do because in your case the end justifies the means. So kill yourself in any manner you deem appropriate. But kill yourself.
Besides it’s better that you die by your own hands than to die by mine. Trust me on that, Motherfuckers!
The site was hacked by someone called walangkaji. As a result, data after October was lost.
Fuck you walangkaji. I hope you go blind and you lose all your fingers. Try hacking with your nose and tongue. Fuck you very much again.