Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nation above self?

How else should one read the following? “Fan Yan, ZTE’s finance officer, refused to release any more advances, after two earlier ones totaling $8 million. But when guaranteed that GMA no less would witness the signing, she relented to the additional $30 million.” [GMA signed, not just witnessed, NBN-ZTE, Gotcha, Jarius Bondoc, The Philippine Star, 19th Mar 2014] “Madriaga stated that $10 million went to the Arroyos . . . Another whistleblower, Jun Lozada, came forward Feb. 2008 to tell about ZTE’s initial representations with the NEDA months ahead. The NBN was then more modest, costing $200 million, with $132-million overprice. Half the kickback was for the administration’s May 2007 congressional election campaign, the other half for the First Couple and Abalos’ Group.”

“GMA issued one other special authority for the NBN-ZTE deal, with then-Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. Dated July 12, 2006, it was for then-Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila to sign with subsidiary, ZTE International Ltd., a $4-billion memo of understanding for several projects, including the NBN . . . A week after GMA’s special authority to Favila, with Defensor, she gave them a second one. It was to grant Yu and Hou mining rights in the Mt. Diwalwal and North Davao gold rush sites in Compostela Valley. The Constitution, which bars foreigners from mining except under limited terms, was broken.”

“A year earlier, in Mar. 2005, GMA had granted China the right to survey the Palawan Sea bed, as part of “disputed waters” of the Spratlys. It was similarly unconstitutional. But it paved the way for multibillion-dollar business deals with Chinese state firms, mostly overpriced and unnecessary. In 2009 China declared ownership of the entire South China Sea, under a nine-dash map that includes the Palawan Sea.”

“Last year when the Korean Overseas International Agency (KOICA) came up with the plans for the new Mactan Airport Terminal, then Congressman Tomas Osmeña, the younger brother of Sen. Serge Osmeña suddenly suggested to move the Mactan International Airportfurther south to the town of Cordova where land can be reclaimed and a new airport constructed. You might ask, why do the Osmeñas love reclamation projects?” [Sen. Serge Osmeña blocking Cebu’s growth (?), Shooting straight, Bobit S. Avila, The Philippine Star, 20th Mar 2014]

“If Filinvest wins, would the Osmeñas have control of Mactan International Airport? In fact the current general manager of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) Engr. Paul Villarete is an Osmeña appointee. But if Megawide/GMR wins the bid, the Osmeñas would lose control of Mactan International Airport… and I might add, because this deal is 25 years long, the chance of developing Cordova into an international airport will be totally gone.”

“After the PDAF budget was approved without clear guidelines to define the intended project only two acts were needed to disburse tax money:  1) request to issue SARO and 2) politicians’ letter to NGO to fund a ghost project worth up to P200m for each senator and P70m for each congressman.   In this kind of MONKEY business, getting a net profit or kickback of P100m for each senator and P50m for each House member, yearly and regularly, is no sweat.” [More fun with public funds, Atty. Romeo Pefianco, Manila Bulletin, 19th Mar 014]

Can Juan de la Cruz put nation above self? Put another way, do we have a sense of community? Or what will it take for us to recognize how deep we are down the abyss? Or is there a saving grace for the Filipino – when ours is a culture of impunity or when incompetence and corruption could be in harmony? How to explain the lack of due diligence in the Mactan Airport project? And now the senator that is raising the question is being accused as a vested interest? We surely are dropping quicker and farther down the abyss?

There is no perfect government or perfect country, but when a nation cannot grow up, like an individual there is something inherently wrong? If we were a private enterprise, we would have long been restructured. That is the only way forward for PHL – especially given the people eyeing the presidency, for example? We have only ourselves to blame for valuing a hierarchical, tyrannical culture and being unable to believe that we could be an egalitarian society?

Look at everything we value, do they generate the perfect storm of tyranny – i.e., the shackle of political patronage and abuse? And does it explain why Chelsea Clinton, for example, said my parents expected me to have a point of view; it was not merely OK? And we should be thankful that Francis came along? Unfortunately, hierarchy – which nurtures and perpetuates the lack if not absence of transparency – in PHL is as entrenched if not more so than the Vatican? And, not surprisingly, kleptocracy characterizes both? And when we add parochialism to the mix, presto, comes the perfect storm of tyranny?

“Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago . . . called for an end to a “vicious cycle of corruption” in the country . . . Santiago then proceeded to talk about “world-class leadership” and apparent lack of it in the country.” [Santiago: Metro Manila ‘seat of most atrocious corruption,’Maila , 21st Mar 2014] In the Philippines, Santiago noted politicians were running for public office not because they would want to serve but because they wanted to steal public funds . . . World-class leaders, she said, should have skills and knowledge that would set them apart from others, even those who are considered as good leaders . . . This level of achievement is the result of hard work, experience and learning,” said the senator.”

“My most impressive friends in Singapore are Richard Hill, Shawn Low and Koh Zheng Yang, presidents of the Harvard College Singapore-Indonesia-Malaysia Association when I lived in the Lion City . . . How were Richard, Shawn and Kohzi different from our best students? The answer cannot possibly be intelligence.” [Academic calendars and misguided nationalism, Oscar Franklin TanPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 21st Mar 2014]

“My subconscious insists that the answer is mindset . . . There is a sense of empowerment that makes one think anything is possible . . . Part of me wishes I considered college abroad when I was finishing high school, wonders if I should have explored the paths the likes of Richard, Shawn and Kohzi found early in life. Perhaps I was swayed by a misguided sense of nationalism then, from a sense that leaving even for a little while would be to sell out, to listening to parents proudly say their sons consciously decided not to go abroad because they still needed their parents’ guidance.”

“Education today is changing so rapidly that it cannot be considered complete unless our universities empower their wards to engage their peers abroad . . . Now is not the time to tie patriotism to geography or mistake parochialism for it.” Amen.

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