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Robredo: Restricting access to SALNs sends wrong message on corruption

“Di ako makapaniwala na galing pa sa head ng opisina na dapat magiimbestiga. Parang binibigyan mo ng license ‘yung public officials para magtago ng kanilang mga yaman na hindi dapat,” Robredo said......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarSep 27th, 2020

Martires: SALN used by crooks for extortion

The Statements of Assets Liabilities and Networth in some cases are used by crooked individuals for extortion, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Saturday while defending his order to stop the conduct of lifestyle checks on public officials and restricting access to SALNs filed at his agency......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 27th, 2020

Moving in the wrong direction

The recent move by the Office of the Ombudsman to limit public access to the statements of assets and liabilities (SALNs) of government officials is diametrically opposed to the Duterte administration’s avowed policy of transparency......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 17th, 2020

Duterte fires anti-corruption body exec who sought NBI probe vs Robredo

Duterte defended Robredo in his speech last night, saying that she had done nothing wrong......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 4th, 2020

Release of Duterte, Leni SALNs suspended

Ombudsman Samuel Martires has suspended the release to the media of the 2018 statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo, saying his office is currently revising its policy on public access to SALNs......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 20th, 2019

Why public can’t access SALN of magistrates

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta defended the High Tribunal’s restriction of public access to the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) of magistrates. Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta (FACEBOOK / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) “We cannot release the SALN because there are matters there that are confidential in nature,” Peralta said during an online press briefing. The Chief Justice said that the SALN contains information like the addresses of judges and their family members which could be used by parties in influencing the decision-making of cases. “You can just imagine ‘yung mga judges na nagdecide ng cases against somebody (What might happen to judges who decided on cases against somebody),” he said. Because of this, Peralta said the SC has implemented guidelines which restricts public access to SALNs of magistrates. “We came up with the guidelines that we can only release ‘yung summary,” the Chief Justice said. Last September, the SC denied the requests of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon for copies of the SALN of SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. Gadon has filed a letter of appeal to the SC insisting that it should release Leonen’s SALN since the magistrate has allegedly skipped the filing of SALNs when Leonen was still teaching at the University of the Philippines (UP). In a letter addressed to SC Clerk of Court Edgardo Aricheta, Gadon said “the right of any citizen for access on SALNs is clearly provided under the law.” “With due respect to the Supreme Court, the denial only invites suspicion among the public that the Supreme Court is hiding something in so far as the SALNs of AJ Marvic Leonen are concerned and that it cannot also escape public suspicion that the Supreme Court is giving AJ Marvic Leonen a special treatment and protection which I hope is not true,” the lawyer warned. Gadon pointed out “there is no lawful nor valid reason why my request for the certified copies of the SALNs of AJ Marvic Leonen cannot be granted.” “The Supreme Court granted the same request in the case of Atty. Maria Lourdes Sereno hence it should be granted in the instant request for SALNs of AJ Marvic Leonen,” he reminded. Prior to Sereno’s ouster in 2018 as chief justice, Gadon was able to secure from the High Tribunal copies of her SALNs. Sereno was ousted as Chief Justice in 2018 after the SC granted the quo warranto petition of the OSG which sought to invalidate her appointment at the High Tribunal over violations in skipping the filing of her SALNs when she was still a law professor at the University of the Philippines (UP). “If Atty. Lourdes Sereno was ousted from the Supreme Court due to lack of integrity as exemplified by her non-filing of SALNs in UP for many years, then there is no reason why the same standard should not be applied to Associate Justice Marvic Leonen,” said Gadon who also alleged that Leonen had skipped in the filing of SALNs when he was still a UP law professor......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 24th, 2020

PBA sends referee home after crucial ‘wrong call’

ANGELES CITY — Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Willie Marcial said he has decided to relieve referee Sherwin Pineda of his duties inside the bubble following his controversial whistle in the waning moments of Rain or Shine and NorthPort’s match on Sunday night. Pineda, who Marcial regarded as one of the leading referees the league […] The post PBA sends referee home after crucial ‘wrong call’ appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 20th, 2020

Duterte’s SALNs secret; PCIJ makes public wealth disclosures of all presidents since Cory

With the Office of the Ombudsman’s latest memorandum circular, SALN access is now restricted across all branches of government......»»

Category: newsSource:  davaotodayRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

OVP sets up more learning hubs in areas with internet access concerns

With the ongoing distance learning classes, Vice President Leni Robredo’s office continues to set up more learning hubs in communities nationwide to address internet access concerns. (OVP / MANILA BULLETIN) Robredo announced the opening of 55 additional learning hubs soon in areas where they are needed on top of the 13 pilot sites. She gave the public a first glimpse of the learning hub during a tour on Monday in Barangay Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City. Joining her was Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto. “We are excited because we have opened 13 of these hubs during the first month. I will also visit the others,” Robredo, who went live on her Facebook account, said in Filipino. “Hopefully, this week and next week. We will then open 55 other sites,” she added. For the pilot run of the learning hub in Pasig City, Robredo’s office partnered with JCI Manila and Catholic group “Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord).” Six students can only be accommodated per schedule in the learning center, where health and safety protocols are strictly being observed. The walk-ins are not allowed so students who wish to use the hub should pre-register for their assigned schedules. The Office of the Vice President initiated the establishment of the community learning hubs as part of its Bayanihan E-skwela program to help students who don’t have the capacity to study at home. Two batches of tutors have already been trained to run these learning hubs. Among which are located in Taytay, Rizal; Himamaylan, Negros Occidental; Tabaco City, Albay; Lucena City, Quezon province; and Caloocan City......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

SIDEBAR 1: A citizen’s guide to where and how to get a SALN 

By Karol Ilagan and Rex David Morales Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  Only two of the six custodians of the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) provide access to full copies of SALNs without the need for the declarants’ approval. Over the years SALN custodians have restricted public access to wealth disclosure records. […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanewsRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

Duterte’s SALNs secret; PCIJ makes public wealth disclosures of all presidents since Cory

By Karol Ilagan and Stanley Buenafe Gajete Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism For the past 30 years, the Office of the Ombudsman has made readily available the wealth disclosures of Philippine presidents and other government officials. Until now. The Ombudsman, with its Memorandum Circular 1, has blocked public access as well as public inspection at […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanewsRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

House’s PhilHealth probe temporarily shelved

The Lower Chamber’s continued probe on the graft and corruption cases in Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will be temporarily shelved after the House leadership decided to cancel all committee meetings or hearings for one week starting Monday, Oct. 19.  This was disclosed by Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor, chairperson of the House Committee on Public Accounts, in a Viber message to the House media, a day before the scheduled joint investigation of the House Committees on Public Accounts and Good Government and Public Accountability on the PhilHealth anomalies.  “In compliance with the memo of the Majority Leader as per guidance of the Speaker, all committee hearings are cancelled temporarily for the leadership to regroup and coordinate priority legislative measures. I apologize for this, but I’m assured the Committee on Public Accounts may resume its deliberations after this,” Defensor said.  This week, eight committee meetings/hearings have been scheduled.  House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez issued a one-page memorandum to all committee chairpersons directing the cancellation of meetings.  “Upon the instructions of the Speaker, all committee meetings/hearings are hereby ordered cancelled for the period October 19-26, 2020. This is to allow the House to review and refocus its priorities for the 2nd Regular session,” according to the memo dated October 18. Aside from the House Committees on Public Accounts and Good Government and Public Accountability, the House Committees on Rural Development,  People’s Participation, Public Works and Highways, Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, Aquaculture and Fisheries, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), and Overseas Workers Affairs are scheduled to conduct meetings this week.  The meeting of the Public Works and Highways was already marked as cancelled, according to the chamber’s committee schedule posted on its website......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 18th, 2020

Internet speed in the time of COVID-19 is everything

Time flies by so fast, and yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought our lives to a screeching halt. Nearly seven months into the quarantined life, we have experienced a day that already feels like a week, a week that feels like a month, and with quarantine guidelines restricting us from being with our loved ones, the only way for us to really connect is through the internet. The question now is, how connected are we to be virtually together? In these trying times with everyone cooped up at home, Internet speed has become indispensable. Apart from speed, having a backup is a necessity, what with every family member hogging the bandwidth for Google Hangouts and/or Zoom calls used for either school or work. This is where PLDT Home comes in, thanks to their newly-launched device: the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem. Internet speed is king — even for a backup modem I got to experience firsthand the newest device that PLDT Home recently launched. Having had my fair share of experience with the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid, the newly improved Advance modem is a definite game-changer. How was it? It was not bad — at all. The LTE-Advance experience The PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem is a plug-and-play device, so installing it is very easy. To put it to the test, I used the device for an entire day, not just as backup, but as my main source of Internet connection. I put it near the window, which is always the advice given for modems to get better Internet connection. The PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem features carrier aggregation that is a combination of frequency channels to power LTE to deliver at faster speeds. This enabled me to connect three devices all at once, without having to sacrifice the quality of my Wifi connectivity. The PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance is powered by Smart LTE, the fastest mobile network in the Philippines as certified by Ookla. There are also two LAN ports found at the back that allow users to have wired connection for two devices. This is perfect for families with parents working from home and children taking online classes. The verdict Absolutely no jokes were meant when I mentioned above that the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem is a game-changer. This is the device that families need at home to better equip them while working from and/or studying at home while also being practical with their internet spending. Because it’s prepaid, families need not worry about adding up to their monthly bills and they can easily load the device when they need it. The modem is a powerful device because of the reliable and stronger Internet connection it can provide to the entire family. PLDT Home really did step up their game with this device, and I repeat — it’s a necessity in households today. Be it for virtual conference calls for work, online classes, or catch up sessions with your loved ones, the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid modem is a device anyone can depend on. Prepaid packages for the family To match the much improved PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem, PLDT Home provided new and affordable FamLoad packages that cater to the Internet needs of families at home. For students, the FamLoad Study 599 comes with 57 GB with 3 GB/day for learning tools like Canvas, Schoology, Gabay Guro, Microsoft 365, and NEO. Those who are film and TV series geeks will also enjoy using the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem, with its FamLoad Video 599 equipped with 40 GB for open access data and 15 GB of YouTube, or the FamLoad Video Plus 599 with 45 GB for all sites and apps or 3 GB of videos daily for 15 days. The new PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem is now available via the PLDT Home website and can be delivered fast via Grab delivery. The unit also comes with free 10GB data that’s ready for use and it’s convenient to reload through GrabApp using the GrabPay wallet, Paymaya, myPLDT Smart app, or PLDT Home and Smart’s retailers nationwide. In these trying times, the need to stay online as we opt to do things virtually is at an all-time high, and PLDT Home may just have provided the very device that is now a truly relevant and essential part of the modern new normal home......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

Limiting access to SALNs not a good thing for public s confidence in gov t — Diokno

"Without those lifestyle checks, without the access to [Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth], you're actually putting blinders not only on the press but on the public and that’s not a good thing for confidence in our government," Diokno said......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2020

Palace: Respect Ombudsman s decision limiting access to officials wealth declarations

Malacañang on Thursday defended the Office of the Ombudsman, the body mandated by the 1987 Constitution to check graft and corruption, in its decision to limit access to government officials' wealth declaration documents. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 17th, 2020

Ombudsman limits access to SALNs of gov t execs

The Office of the Ombudsman has restricted the access to public officials’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth by requiring the consent of the statement's owner before a SALN request can be evaluated by the Ombudsman’s office......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 15th, 2020

Ombudsman limits access to government officials SALNs

The Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday moved to limit public access to the wealth declaration documents of government officials. This comes just hours after presidential spokesman Harry Roque fielded questions from reporters over the delayed release of President Rodrigo Duterte's SALN to the public. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 15th, 2020

The Country’s Most Remote Cell Site

Despite challenges due to the island’s location in the West Philippine Sea, PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc (Smart) has recently fired up its 4G/LTE service in Pag-asa Island in the municipality of Kalayaan, the country’s most remote cell site, located some 500 kilometers from the capital city of Puerto Princesa, Palawan.    Residents of Pag-asa Island can now use mobile data to communicate with family members and loved ones via chat apps and video calls, share photos, send emails or watch videos online.    In an email sent from Pag-asa Island, Smart engineer Edbert Aquitania shared a screenshot of the message he received upon firing up the LTE site: “Welcome back to the Philippines!” it said.   This development marks another step towards improved communications for the people of Pag-asa, who were first connected via mobile communication in 2005, when Smart turned on its 2G service on the island.    “The activation of LTE in Pag-asa island is proof of our continued commitment to give our customers access to our services, wherever in the Philippines they may be, regardless of the challenges,” said Mario G. Tamayo, senior vice president and head of Network Planning and Engineering at PLDT-Smart.    Smart LTE Nation  This LTE activation is part of Smart’s continuing rollout of its LTE services nationwide. To date, Smart’s high-speed broadband service is available in 93% of the country’s cities and municipalities and serves 95% of the population.    This rollout is part of PLDT and Smart’s sustained investments in their network, which have totaled some Php260 billion from 2015 to 2019. Amid the regained momentum of its network rollout efforts following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT has leveled up its target capital expenditures for 2020 back up to about Php70 billion.   In the first half of 2020, Smart further increased the number of its LTE base stations by 10% compared to end-2019. In April, it also increased the capacity of its LTE network by reallocating its assigned 1800 Mhz frequency from 2G to 4G/LTE. As a result, 3,785 Smart base stations are now providing additional capacity for its LTE network.  Smart’s mobile network is supported by PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which provides high-capacity links to LTE base stations and is now nearly 360,000 kilometers nationwide. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 9th, 2020

Duterte admin allots P21.4 billion for ICT in proposed 2021 budget

In his budget message, President Duterte said digital connectivity and access supported by a secure and reliable information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure system is "paramount" to lay the groundwork for the country's digital transformation......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 6th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

Moderating oligarchs’ greed

Last July 13, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke before soldiers in Jolo, Sulu and triumphantly declared he “dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the country’s economy without the need to declare martial law.” This came a few days after a committee in the House of Representatives rejected ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bill. During his penultimate State of the Nation Address on July 27, Duterte took another swipe at the oligarchs whose great wealth has enabled them “to influence public policy to their advantage.” He cited as an example the Lopezes “who used their media outlets in their battles with political figures” including himself during the 2016 elections. People seem to forget that Duterte’s avowed mission to put oligarchs in their proper place was part of his 2016 campaign promise to stamp out corruption. At that time, he said the corruption in the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue was “small change in comparison to the high-level corruption that runs in the billions among the economic elite.” Oligarchy means the rule of the few, but its meaning has evolved to refer to powerful individuals or groups outside of government who are able to benefit from political connections to amass vast amounts of wealth and gain control of major industries. The term “oligarch” started popping up recently in mainstream and social media but its context in relation to what is happening in our society has become warped and obfuscated. To be fair, the President has given credit where credit is due, even to the so-called oligarchs when they helped the government in this COVID-19 crisis, but he said it is their abuses that he abhors. On several occasions, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano pointed out how oligarchs use their wealth to gain power, while the political elite used their power to amass wealth. He expressed full support to Duterte’s advocacy in changing the current system where he believes the people “willingly consent to being held back by the few who control the economy and through that, the running of the nation.” According to Cayetano, the real threat to the stability of our socio-political and economic systems are those backroom deals that make exploitation legal – “the quiet acquiescing to a system that naturally favors the ultra-rich and very powerful.” He believes that not all oligarchs are bad, saying in a media interview: “Just like every entrepreneur wanting to expand their business, these would-be oligarchs might very well have started off with the most benign or even benevolent intentions. But the malignant DNA of unabated, uncontrolled capitalism, especially corporate capitalism, eventually comes to play, leading to people and systems being abused and exploited.” Cayetano clarified, though, that capitalism and democracy work as we have seen in other economies. He thinks the situation in the Philippines is not hopeless, and we can begin to change this corrupt system by acknowledging there is a problem and we are part of it. “This is a battle between those who are willing to fight their self-interest and change with the system, versus those who deny that there is anything wrong with the status quo, specifically as it relates to themselves, and instead simply choose to blame the politicians and officials in government,” he said. This brings to mind the statement attributed to a Cabinet member of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who advised another top official to “moderate your greed.” Another cautionary tale is found in the recently re-launched book of Ricardo Manapat, who served as National Archives Director during the Arroyo and Ramos administrations. Manapat’s book is titled “Some Are Smarter Than Others: The History of Marcos’ Crony Capitalism” which is a classic work on anti-cronyism exposing the ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Oligarchs may not be totally wiped out in the Philippines, since developed economies even have to contend with their presence. But Duterte’s relentless campaign against them could very well result in moderating their greed and freeing the country from their tight grip. nextgenmedia@gmail.com.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2020