Thursday, February 28, 2008
|A Statement of the Black & White Movement|
THESE are times that indeed call for discernment. All our institutions are being judged by the people. The Black & White Movement recognize that the leaders of many can only move as far and as fast, as the obstinate few. Archbishops Talamayan and Capalla have prevailed on their fellow bishops to refrain from committing the hierarchy to a cause the country is embracing. But the bishops won't embrace it, yet. Rather, they have embraced what some bishops call prudence and others compare to the strategy of the ostrich when faced with a problem: to stick its head in the sand.
The bishops' pastoral exhortation disappoints us, and although they call for the administration to scrap EO 464, for executive officials to face the Senate without mental reservations or efforts at evasion, the people know better. Their diluted and muted statement has made them akin to toothless tigers, fast becoming irrelevant to the times.
Whether in Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao, we are one people, who all know right from wrong, and who can tell the truth from official lies.
We know all too well, that in the fullness of time, the President will prefer lies to the truth, and embrace suppressing the truth to embracing the light. The bishops have given the President a chance.
She will find a way to betray their good faith, the way she did with their calls for a Truth Commission and to face issues squarely before Congress.The truth is our perpetual help, we said last Monday.
It is our strength and comfort even when the shepherds are fearful and leading us nowhere.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity
1. Condemn the continuing culture of corruption from the top to thebottom of our social and political ladder;
2. Urge the President and all the branches of government to take thelead in combating corruption wherever it is found;
3. Recommend the abolition of EO 464 so that those who might haveknowledge of any corruption in branches of government, may be free totestify before the appropriate investigating bodies;
4. Ask the President to allow her subordinates to reveal any corruptacts, particularly about the ZTE-NBN deal, without being obstructed intheir testimony no matter who is involved;
5. Appeal to our senators and the ombudsman to use their distinct anddifferent powers of inquiry into alleged corruption cases not fortheir own interests but for the common good;
6. Call on media to be a positive resource of seeking the truth andcombating corruption by objective reporting without bias andpartiality, selective and tendentious reporting of facts;
For the long term we reiterate our call for "circles of discernment"at the grassroots level, in our parishes, Basic Ecclesial Communities,recognized lay organizations and movements, religious institutions,schools, seminaries and universities. It is through internalconversion into the maturity of Christ through communal and prayerfuldiscernment and action that the roots of corruption are discovered anddestroyed. We believe that such communal action will perpetuate at thegrassroots level the spirit of People Power so brilliantlydemonstrated to the world at EDSA I. It is People Power with adifference. From the grassroots will come out a culture of truth andintegrity we so deeply seek and build. We instruct our CBCPCommissions to take active role including networking for this purpose.
May the Lord bless us in this sacred undertaking to build a new kindof Philippines and may our Blessed Mother be our companion and guidein this journey to truth and integrity.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Contrary to what President Arroyo and Malacañang would like people believe, People Power and the yearning for change are not dead.This was the message of the Redemptorist priest who delivered the homily at the mass for truth and accountability held to mark the 22nd anniversary of the EDSA revolt at the Baclaran Church Monday afternoon."Huwag tayong magpalinlang na ang ang People Power ay wala na katulad ng nais ipaniwala sa ating ng mga nasa kapangyarihan ... Ang pagkakabalisa, pagkabigo, ang matinding pagnanais ng pagbabago, ang paghahangad natin ng pagkakaisa ay buhay na buhay pa rin sa atin (Do not believe those in power who try to convince us that People Power is dead. Our yearning for change and unity remains very much alive),"Fr. Joey Echano said, as the crowd applauded.Echano's statement was an apparent retort to President Arroyo's statements last weekend that the world will not tolerate another EDSA revolt, after embracing EDSA 1 and tolerating EDSA 2.He said that while rallies and protests have not been as loud as before, people are merely looking for a new form of communal action.The people, he added, are merely looking for a new rallying symbol. Besides, he said communal action should not be based on the dictates of politicians."Hindi patay ang people power. Ito ay sisibol sa darating na panahon na may malakas na kapangyarihan at mas mayamang kahulungan (People power is certainly not dead. It will surface again, in a more powerful and more meaningful manner)," he said. Excerpts of his homily were aired on Church-run Radio Veritas.Echano also scored the government for allowing greed and corruption to rule. Radio dzRH reported that he likened graft to "tooth decay" in the government.On the other hand, he said it is not enough for people to stay at the sidelines, reminding them of a passage in the "Divine Comedy" that the hottest flames in hell are reserved for those who choose to do nothing."Ang People Power ay di natatapos sa pagtanggal sa luklukan ng mga may kapangyarihan at wala nang moralidad na umupo ... Ang People Power ay pagbabago ng buong sistema sa ating lipunan at ng ating sarili ...Tama na, sobra na, kumilos na (People power does not end with removing a leader and letting just anyone take his place. People power is changing the system and our society and ourselves ... We must say enough, too much, let us act)!" he said.Among those who attended the mass were ZTE witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., former President Corazon Aquino, Georgina de Venecia, Fernando Poe Jr.'s daughter Grace Llamanzares, Reps. Darlene Custodio, Roilo Golez and Liza Maza, Sen. Benigno Aquino III, Armida Siguion-Reyna and Rez Cortez.- GMANews.TV
Friday, February 22, 2008
|To Our Dear Churchleaders|
WHAT DO SOME OF OUR CHURCH LEADERS DO WHEN A PRESIDENT AND HER CABINET CONSPIRE AGAINST THE CITIZENS?
They tell the people what the people already know:
*They talk about the moral fabric of society being assailed.
*They urge everybody to be vigilant and to seek the truth.
*They say the government reeks of corruption and opportunism.
*They suggest it is time for a concerted and collective action.
*They recite the mantras of "order", "constitution" and
Yes, for the most part, some of our church leaders are inclined to tell the people what the people already know.
How do the people know, certainly not primarily by reading books or listening to sermons or lectures. The people know because they have eyes and ears that see and hear beyond the legalese and technicalities of court hearings. They know because God has endowed them with the magnificent gift of discernment. The religious calls it the Sensus Fidelium, the voice of the Spirit within them; the people simply call it obvious
Christ precisely became one of us - to make the Will of God obvious to the faithful. "Whoever believes in me, believes not only in me but also in him who sent me. Whoever sees me, also sees him who sent me. I have come into the world that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness…Yes, because I have not spoken on my own but the Father who sent me has commanded me what I must say and speak." (Jn.12: 44-49)
Christ dwells in his people. And He makes known God's Will to the people who believe and accept his Word. And when he wants to make known the Father's will to the world, he speaks also through the people, as indeed we all understand by the phrase Vox Populi, Vox Dei. This is not to deny the authority and mandate of our church leaders to proclaim the Will of God to the people. Rather, it is to stress that since God speaks also through the people, our church leaders likewise have a similar duty to listen to God in his people.
The words from the musical 'Les Miserables' expresses this in a most poignant way:
Do you hear the people sing, Singing a song of angry men?It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drumsThere is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!
Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?Beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free!
And the Scriptures are even more urgent and more challenging:
"Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?"
Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways!
"You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes."
Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways!
"Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified," says the LORD. [Haggai 1:4-8]
We discern at least three basic questions that might concern our church leaders, as they concern all believers in these most difficult and critical times:
· How courageously and faithfully are you hearing to the Will of God in his people?
· Where/how do you see yourselves in relation to the 'barricade' that has for so long denied our people a life of peace, freedom and dignity.
· What more are you willing to offer/give up so that the God's Will might be heard faithfully and proclaimed fully?
In concrete, we understand this to mean for our church leaders not to be content with the good things they are already doing in service to our people; But rather to become more active and committed towards being part of the people's present challenge:
Rebuild the nation!
Replace the corrupt usurper and her cabinet!
Install a transitional council of leaders!
Elect a new leadership through a snap election!
Establish a working democracy!
KAALAGAD Katipunang Kristiyano / February 20, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Senator Kiko Pangilinan's call for Overseas Filipino Workers to make a stand for our country's future is very commendable. He urged OFWs to contribute for the sanctuary fund aimed at helping whistle-blowers (like Jun Lozada) on government's anomalous deals. The fund is set up by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP). I hope our OFWs will support this very timely initiative. All of us have a moral obligation to save our country from this abusive and corrupt government. The time to make a stand is NOW.
Pangilinan urges OFWs: Donate money for whistle blowers
MANILA, Philippines -- Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday urged overseas Filipino workers to donate money to the “sanctuary fund” set up by church people to finance the legal needs of whistle-blowers on government corruption activities.
Pangilinan said the appeal is especially “for those who believe in the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines) call for communal action and so that we are not mere spectators but are active participants in the search for the truth.”
He said that only on its sixth day, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines' Sanctuary Fund to support witnesses like Rodolfo Noel Lozada has now reached P693,372.50.
Quoting former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri, Lozada himself said labor migration has become the “escape valve” that has kept the Philippine society from imploding due to the numerous government anomalies.
The fund was set up at the senator's suggestion during a hearing on the cancelled $329-million contract wherein Lozada admitted to his own responsibility in possibly anomalous government deals.
He said the fund should help whistle-blowers defend themselves in case they are charged in court because of their exposes.
Pangilinan said check donations may be sent to AMRSP Special Funds at 28 Acacia Street, Quezon City, with telephone numbers 724-4434 or deposited directly to MBTC Account No. 3259-07445-3. He said the point person is Sister Estrella Castalone FMA.
“Make a stand for our nation's future,” he said.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
This article written by Aries Rufo, which first came out on Newsbreak Online on October 29, 2007, was written to put into context why the Catholic Church has refused to join calls for President Arroyo to resign. It explains the dynamics that surround the membership of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). We are republishing this in the light of calls for the president to resign and separate public statements made by Catholic Archbishops concerning the matter. Read more: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=109727
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr.’s exposé of the fraudulent national broadband network (NBN) deal shows that corruption in this government has crept into the highest echelons of government. The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, through its sycophants in the Senate, such as Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Juan Ponce Enrile and Joker Arroyo, tried vainly to destroy Lozada’s credibility. As veteran trial lawyers, they should have known that an honest witness is the most difficult witness to break.
The last persons on this planet who would qualify to pontificate about morality and credibility are Senators Santiago and Enrile. Senator Arroyo is a difficult case to explain. But a political theorist said that power oftentimes addles the brain and weakens the character of most mortals.
The Arroyo administration is like the Mafia or a criminal syndicate. Instead of using the law to promote justice and the truth, it wields the “rule of law” as an instrument of oppression and terror. Thomas Jefferson once wrote that when a government betrays its own people, it must be toppled from its arrogant perch.
RICARDO M. MAGTIBAY - Letter to the Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer
|Complaint was filed on 9 October 2007, with Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, representing Akbayan as the principal complainant. Benjamin Abalos was named sole respondent. Complaint cited violation of various graft laws including RA 3019, RA 6713, and Articles 211 and 212 of the Revised Penal Code. A copy of the Complaint and its attachments can be downloaded from http://www.akbayan.org/|
Ombudsman took no action on the Complaint for over four months, in clear violation of Rule 112, section 3 of the Rules of Court, which requires that within ten days from filing, it should either dismiss the case or require the respondent to file a counter-affidavit.
Last week, the Ombudsman announced in the media that it would be holding a public hearing today, 18 February 2008, on the various complaints filed in relation to the ZTE-NBN scandal. Despite not having received any formal notice of hearing from the Ombudsman, Akbayan decided to attend and raise issues regarding the conduct of the Ombudsman investigation such as – the prior call on Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to inhibit herself from the investigation in view of her self-admitted closeness to First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, the reason for the delay in Ombudsman action which clearly violated its own rules of procedure, and the timing of the public hearing.
At today’s hearing, Ombudsman Gutierrez immediately announced that she was voluntarily inhibiting herself from the case, preempting any objections that we would have raised against her participation. The hearing was then conducted by a panel of senior Ombudsman investigators.
During the hearing itself, we raised questions regarding the delay of four months, but instead of being a clear answer, were given vague references to a supposed investigation the Ombudsman had been conducting. No explanation whatsoever was offered to explain why it violated its own rules of procedure. When asked if they would release the results of the alleged investigation, the panel replied in the negative, saying that these were “confidential.”
Questions from other complainants likewise revealed that despite the four month “investigation,” the Ombudsman had not even succeeded in securing basic documents such as the official transcript of the ZTE hearings in the Senate.
For all the fanfare surrounding today’s hearing, all that was really done was for the complainants, including Risa, to “reaffirm” their complaints under oath and for copies to be served (finally) on the respondents. From all indications, it appears to have been a “show” hearing intended principally to show the public that the Ombudsman is in fact doing something to address the ZTE issue.
Some observers have opined that the Ombudsman hearings are actually intended to be used as a justification for discontinuing the Senate inquiry, or at the very least, as a legal excuse for government officials to avoid giving testimony before the Senate.
Respondents have been given ten days, or up to February 28, to file their counter-affidavits. Next hearing at the Ombudsman is scheduled for 4 March 2008.
By Atty. Barry Gutierrez, Akbayan Counsel
Monday, February 18, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
We pay tribute to Mr. Jun Lozada and his family for their bravery and selfless sacrifice in telling the truth about the anomalous ZTE-NBN deal.
The symbol of Filipino integrity and valor is not carried by high officials in government, certainly not those in Malacañang, but by ordinary citizens like Lozada.
The expose of Mr. Lozada directs accountability at the doorstep of Malacanang.
People closed to Mrs. Arroyo are responsible over the bribery scandal in the ZTE contract, and by law and morals, they should be held accountable.
These allegations of corruption and bribery should not be buried and forgotten.
We need to hold high officials accountable for an anomaly that could have cost the country billions of public funds.
This is the only acceptable closure to this controversy.
We call on the people to be vigilant in exacting transparency and accountability from our public leaders.
The days of apathy and indifference are over.
The time to make a stand is NOW.
We should be steadfast and unforgiving against any form of government maneuverings that would subvert the truth.
We should not be afraid to fight for truth and justice.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
77% of Filipinos want Arroyo to resign’--Ibon survey
Seventy-seven percent of Filipinos believe President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should resign over allegations of corruption, according to a survey by the Ibon Foundation.
Of 1,503 respondents asked by the think tank from January 7 to 14 if Arroyo should step down because of "widespread corruption under her regime," 77.41 percent said "yes," only 12.89 percent said "no."
Asked if they were aware of calls from various sectors for Arroyo to step down, 75.38 said "yes," while 24.62 percent said "no," Ibon said in a statement.
The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus three percent.
Last week, former government consultant Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. said the scrapped $329-million contract awarded to China's ZTE Corp. for the national broadband network (NBN) project was overpriced.
Lozada added that former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo pushed for the deal with ZTE.
Arroyo scrapped the contract last year after allegations of overpricing and bribery.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
AKBAYAN to Neri: Do a Lozada and tell all
Saying that it's never to late to tell the truth, AKBAYAN Party today urged former NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri to do a Lozada and divulge the entire truth behind the onerous NBN deal.
"This is no longer about respecting privilege information between the President and her cabinet members. This is already about heeding one's conscience and standing up for truth," AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros said. "One does not need a Supreme Court ruling to have the courage to stand up for what is right. Lozada has shown what integrity and honor really mean, and we hope that Neri would follow suit."
She added that Lozada's bravery should inspire Neri to tell all. "The truth trumps executive privilege. By revealing the truth about the involvement of FG Mike Arroyo and the President herself in the NBN deal, Neri would be remembered as the man who bravely stood against a government of thieves," she added.
The group warned Neri against being too comfortable with the people he keeps. "Taking part in a deceitful act is tenuous. The Arroyo family must be aware by now that fraud begets fraud, and lying in the end becomes burdensome. It does not go away and one cannot run away from the troubles that each act of fraud spawns. But it is not yet late for Sec. Neri to put an end to this web of lies and lay down every detail that he knows about the NBN deal," Hontiveros said.
The group held a picket outside the Senate to call on the nation to stop corruption once and for all. Carrying images of Sec. Neri, then COMELEC Chair Ben Abalos, and PNP Chief Razon with elongated nose, AKBAYAN said that Neri would be part of the Pinocchio Hall of Shame if he continues to refuse to speak on the deal.
"To lie in order to protect another liar is the basest form of fraud. It is not only a question of morality, but an act of degradation and submission. His refusal to speak dehumanizes him," AKBAYAN said.
Monday, February 11, 2008
IT was courageous but damaging for two officials of government, former Speaker Jose de Venecia and Mr. Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, to expose questionable government deals in millions of dollars including scandalous and immoral kickbacks. It was courageous to come out in the open to “publicly confess” the high level of graft and corruption that they knew all along and “somehow” have been involved in. But it was also damaging to their political career as well as to significant others who are in high governance. Damaging also because they opened themselves to further scrutiny and inquiry. Truth hurts. Truth liberates. But the truth must be served. The truth will set our country free (cf. John 8/32)
Their public confession may be considered a providential event that may yet save our country from being hostage to scandalous and shady government deals that offend the common good and serve only personal, family and group interests. In our last CBCP Statement, the Bishops strongly lamented the absence of social conscience today. This is the root cause of our systemic graft and corruption.
We lament in this season of Lent not only that we are sinners but also that our country has too long been captive to the corruption of people in governance. “We have to confess that corruption is in truth our greatest shame as a people.” The call for a moral revolution has deep implication. The CRUSADE FOR TRUTH being initiated by the Religious like the AMRSP, Civil Groups and Clergy is encouraging, and must be supported by all truth-loving and freedom-loving citizens. Only the truth, not lies and deceits, will set our country free. This truth challenges us now to communal action.
We encourage the “Watch and Pray” activity that will be initiated by the Parish Pastoral Councils for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV). We can also call it PPC for Responsible Citizenship. The flame of “social consciousness and common good” must be kept alive. We suggest the prayer used by the Magnificat Movement, the MAGNIFICAT of Our Lady in Luke 1, 46-55 a prayer for social transformation.
As we said in our last CBCP Statement “let us pray together, reason together, decide together, act together” “towards a more vigorous work for good governance and a more active promotion of responsible citizenship in our society in the light of the Gospel and the Social Teachings of the Church.”
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Rodolfo Noel I. Lozada, Jr., 45, CEO of the Philippine Forest Corporation, surfaced at the La Salle Greenhills campus early morning today and implicated former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos Sr and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in the anomalous ZTE deal.Lozada is an electronics and communications engineer and former chief executive officer of the Philippine Forest Corporation who served as a technical consultant to former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri on the national broadband project.News reports last month referred to him as a 'secret witness' in the Senate inquiry on the ZTE deal exposed by Jose de Venecia III last year.Lozada left the country hours before a January 30 Senate hearing he was supposed to attend. This prompted the senators to issue a warrant of arrest against him. As soon as he returned to the country, the Senate was not able to get him as he was taken away by suspected presidential guards. In a petition seeking his release filed before the Supreme Court, his wife Violeta said he was taken into police custody against his will.A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, he has a 20-year experience in executive and management positions in the private sector.Lozada assumed the post of president and CEO of PhilForest, a corporate arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in 2004. He directed the government's program for the propagation and commercial cultivation of tuba-tuba or jatropha plant, a source of biodiesel.Lozada hails from Ligao City in Albay. He is a fan of the national hero, Jose Rizal. He loves to read books, and his favorite is "The End of History and the Last Man" by Francis Fukuyama.He is also a golfer, and plays in Wack-Wack at least once a week.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Source: GMA News Research
Rodolfo Noel I. Lozada Jr.'s statement linking First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to the ZTE deal is just one of several controversies that have hounded the President's husband.
Alleged P50-million payola for telecoms franchise bills
In July 2001, Veronica "Bing" Rodrigo, former correspondence secretary and friend of President Arroyo, alleged that the First Gentleman received a P50-million bribe for the President to recall her veto of the franchise bills of the Philippine Communication Clearinghouse and APC Wireless Interface Network. Rodrigo retracted her accusations a few days later.
Alleged use of PCSO funds as campaign funds
In October 2001, Robert Rivero, axed consultant of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, alleged that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo used PCSO funds in the campaign of certain senatorial candidates and to bribe the media. He claimed that FG Arroyo paid P20.5 million to Bombo Radyo and Radio Mindanao Network; the PCSO and lotto draw announcements did not air in these stations, although some commentators aired pro-administration commentaries. The PCSO publicity department denied Rivero's accusations.
Designation as OFW envoy
In December 2002, President Arroyo designated Mike Arroyo as an OFW envoy so he could represent her in the countries she could not visit. However, critics assailed Arroyo's announcement when they learned that his activities as OFW envoy could be funded by a proposed overseas workers legal assistance fund. They feared that the Arroyo couple would use the funds for her 2004 campaign.
While the President did not recall her husband's designation, the first gentleman voluntarily resigned.
Jose Pidal expose
Sen. Panfilo Lacson's Jose Pidal expose in 2003 further cast First Gentleman Arroyo in bad light. Lacson accused First Gentleman Arroyo of maintaining secret bank accounts to launder money from campaign contributions for the 1998 vice presidential bid of Gloria Arroyo.
First Gentleman Arroyo denied the allegations. His brother, Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo took up the cudgels for him and claimed to be "Jose Pidal" before clamming up and invoking his "right to privacy" during a Senate investigation.
Friend's involvement in importation of rotten rice
Indian trader Kishore Hemlani, allegedly a close friend of First Gentleman Arroyo, also figured that year in a contract involving the importation of 600,000 metric tons of rotten rice worth P9.5 million from India.
Stay in an expensive Las Vegas suite
In 2005, First Gentleman Arroyo drew criticism for staying in a $20,000-a-night MGM Grand Villa in Las Vegas, Nevada, during a Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales boxing match. Arroyo’s camp said the accommodation was complimentary and not paid for by public funds.
Alleged receipt of jueteng payola
In the same year, witnesses at the Senate hearings on jueteng claimed that First Gentleman Arroyo received protection money for the illegal numbers game. The First Gentleman denied the allegations and left the country momentarily to help "remove distractions and doubts from people’s minds" on President Arroyo's ability to run the government. The Palace, then embattled with both the jueteng and "Hello Garci" controversies, dismissed the accusations against the First Gentleman as mere concoctions by those who wanted to oust the President.
Friend's involvement in fertilizer fund scam
In 2006, the Senate wrapped up a series of hearings on the fertilizer fund scam and concluded that First Gentleman Arroyo's close friend and fellow Makati Rotarian Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc" Bolante diverted agricultural funds to the 2004 electoral campaign of President Arroyo.
Alleged existence of multi-million dollar German bank account
Later that year, then opposition Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that a member of the Arroyo family maintained a bank account in Germany amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. First Gentleman Arroyo flew to Germany and secured a certification from the bank to disprove Cayetano's claims. Upon his return, sought Cayetano's expulsion from Congress.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Rodolfo Lozada Jr., a potential witness in the Senate’s continuing investigation into the ZTE controversy, and the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the Senate, was met by airport officials and police officers as soon as he got off the plane Tuesday -- and then vanished.
As of the time of writing, Lozada remains virtually incommunicado, in a still unidentified location. He is, apparently, in police custody -- at least that is what Director General Avelino Razon of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Wednesday.
But Razon has issued misleading statements before, even deliberately; his belated announcement that Lozada, the president of a government corporation with alleged insider knowledge about corruption in ZTE Corp.’s contract to build a national broadband network, was actually in police custody all this time raises legal and moral issues. They can be summed up in one question: Can the police, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, do whatever it wants?
Consider the following facts that have come to light:
Lozada left the airport in highly unusual circumstances; after he was met right at the airplane door, he did not pass through the immigration or customs counters. This allowed him (and those escorting him) to evade the Senate officials waiting at the airport to arrest him. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to keep Senate witnesses away from the Senate and its agents?
When Lozada left the airport terminal, he sent a text message to his brother, saying he had been abducted. Razon said Lozada was under the custody of the Police Security and Protection Office, the unit that handles VIP security. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to detain VIPs against their will?
Lozada’s sister said she saw him hours after he arrived, looking thin and haggard; well, she is reported to have said he’s still alive. She said she could not say, however, where Lozada was being held. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to coerce visitors into an ominous silence?
Razon waited an inordinate amount of time before declaring that the potential witness -- cited for contempt by the Senate when he unexpectedly left the country -- was in police custody. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to detain people in secret?
As of the time of writing, Lozada remains out of sight, and separated from his own immediate family. Razon said Lozada had not been kidnapped, because he or his family had in fact requested police protection. But Lozada’s worried wife filed a writ for habeas corpus with the Supreme Court yesterday, to compel the police to present Lozada. If the alleged letter of request is genuine, it is exceedingly curious that Lozada’s wife knew nothing about it. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to lie, brazenly, to the public it is supposed to serve?
The truth is Razon and certain trusted officers in the PNP are doing Malacañang’s dirty job -- and they know it. Lozada, a close friend of former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri, has inside information about the ZTE deal. He left the country because he was not ready to testify before the Senate; now that he has come back, the Arroyo administration wants him either to keep silent, or to sing a different tune.
It is not as if this is the first time we’ve seen the Arroyo administration’s unique Witness Protection Program at work. As in the cases of whistleblowers Udong Mahusay and Vidal Doble Jr., the administration’s special operations department enabled potentially hostile witnesses to recant potentially damaging testimony.
Razon’s blithe statement, that the police were ready to present Lozada if the Senate asked for him, is an outrage. Of course, the Senate wants him. That is what his arrest warrant is for: to compel him to testify. And that is exactly why the Senate sergeant-at-arms went to the PNP headquarters, to the very unit Razon identified as holding Lozada in custody.
Is it any surprise that Lozada wasn’t there? This is how a police state is born: First they detain us, and then they make us disappear.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Many of us are sick and tired of traditional politics in this country. The urgent task now is to create a critical mass to advance a genuiene alternative to mainstream politics and challenge the worsts (Arroyos, Erap, JDV, Nograles) of old politics. We cannot afford to wait for another 10-20 years to witness and be part of a truly democratic political society. Here's an article written by UP Prof. Randy David reminding us that advocating for new politics and changing the current political set up is no easy task. But there is hope…
Thoughts on new politics
Akbayan, one of the first left-leaning groups to take up the challenge of electoral politics through the party-list mechanism, held a forum last week to mark the 10th year of its founding. I was one of the invited speakers. A restrained and reflective mood pervaded the occasion.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Allow me to share with you the January 2008 issue of ALTSEAN Burma Bulletin.
The Burma Bulletin is a short month in review of events in Burma, particularly those of interest to the democracy movement and human rights activists. In the January 2008 issue you will find:
* Daw Suu slams SPDC
* Persecution of NLD intensifies
* Child mortality rate worse than Sudan
* Bombs in Burma
* SPDC in international spotlight
* Food shortages
* Other Burma news
* List of Reports
* Much more...
Click here to view the Bulletin online http://www.altsean.org/Reports/Burma%20Bulletin/BBJanuary08.php