Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Plea to Our Kapwa Pinoys in the US: AGAP-Bikol

(message from fr. manoling francisco, sj)

Dear Friends,

Last Nov. 30, 2006, a supertyphoon Reming ravaged the
Bikol Region and Southern Tagalog, Philippines. More
than 400 people have already been buried; hundreds
more are missing. The death toll, according to the Red
Cross, will most likely exceed 1,000. Moreover, 10,000
families have been dislocated, their homes and fields
buried under tons of mud from the slopes of the Mayon
volcano. The thousands who have been dispossessed are
temporarily sheltered in evacuation centers.

The evacuees are in need of food, clothing, medicines.
They have lost loved ones; for many everything they
own. We beg for your financial assistance.

For those in the U.S., please address and send your
checks to:
Fr. Peter Pojol, S.J.
Hopkins House
40 Kirkland St.
Cambridge, MA 02138-2031

Together with the Filipino graduate students in the
Boston area, Fr. Peter will account and remit the
donations to:
Fr. Jovic E. Lobrigo
Chair, Social Action Center
Diocese of Legazpi
Albay District, 4500
Legazpi City, Philippines

As with our past fund-raising email campaigns (for the
typhoon victims in Bikol and Infanta, Quezon in 2004
during which we raised P755,508.80 and for the
mudslide victims of Guinsaugon, Leyte in 2005 during
which we raised $10,893.43), the Tanging Yaman
Foundation, Inc., will email all the donors:
1) a master list of donations received, and
2) an electronic receipt from Fr. Lobrigo,
in order to assure you that every dollar you send will
go to the evacuees in Bikol.

As we await the coming of our Lord this Advent Season,
may the more than 40,000 dispossessed in Bikol
encounter the mercy of God through the compassion and
aid of people from all over the world.

Sincerely in our Lord,

Fr. Manoling V. Francisco, S.J.
Executive Director
Tanging Yaman Foundation, Inc.

San Jose Major Seminary
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Hieghts, Q.C., M.M.

looking for a reforestration project here in the philippines

hi everyone,
if you know of an organization dedicated to reforestration projects south of the philippines, please send me their contact info asap. we would like to help through funding and marketing projects related to "recovering" our forests. please contact me through the comments section below, or by emailing me at execsec@tangingyaman.org.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

back to the old habit

hi everyone!
after a 6-month hiatus from blogging, i'm back. haay, there's so many things that's worth talking about, gringo's capture, pacquiao vs morales III, the opposition's senatorial slate, etc. etc..
but, i don't want to write anything about them now. all i care about right now is that i'm back, hehehe. i wonder who's still visiting my blog until now, hmmm...
by the way, here are some updates about myself:
- i got out of the seminary last may.
- i put up a small company, distributing arce dairy ice cream (we have a scooping station at robinsons metroeast, please go and check it out. :))
- i gave leadership seminar/workshops to a bottling company
- i have given and will still give a series of anti-corruption talks to different government offices
- i am doing research also right now about philippine history.
- i am working for a foundation inside ateneo full time.
whew, if only i have the time to write about each of these.
i'm keeping myself busy. we were trained inside the seminary the ability to juggle and manage our time well.
whew, that's all i can say for now. and that i missed blogging...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Senate Report on Fertilizer Scam

Source : Senate Committee Report 54

A summary of the findings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture and food on the Fertilizer Fund Scam.

8 March 2006

The Fertilizer Scam

The Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon) have concluded that agricultural funds intended for farmers were diverted by Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante for the 2004 electoral campaign of President Gloria Arroyo.

Testimonies and corroborative statements of DA officials, 13 farmer groups (see attached list), Commission on Audit officials, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, and alleged "runners" of Bolante concluded that farmers did not get a single "farm input or implement" in 2004. At least two LGU officials testified that their districts did not receive any fertlizer in spite of records showing that deliveries had
been made. Several Congressmen also denied having made requests for fertilizer assistance or receiving fertilizers.

Asked if Usec Bolante's requests for funds was upon the instructions of the President, former Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin replied, "I would imagine so."

Who is Joc-joc Bolante?

The committee report points to Bolante as the principal architect and implementor of the scam. He negotiated the release of funds from the Department of Budget and Management, had authority to release funds and the discretion to pick the fertilizer fund's proponents. He also sent letters to congressmen and local officials informing them of the availability of funds.

He was the first appointee of the President in the DA (even prior to Sec. Leonardo Montemayor's appointment) and concurrently held positions as acting chairman of National Irrigation Administration, Livelihood Corp., and Strategic Investments and Development Corp. He was also a director of National Power Corp. and Land Bank of the Philippines.

Wrong timing for fertilizers

The fertilizer fund appropriation was implemented only in 2004, incidentally during the election season. Funds were released from February to May 2004 or during harvest months when fertilizers are of no use because planting time starts in November. The DA's Rice Program (known as GMA or Ginintuang Masaganang Ani) director Frisco Malabanan testified that fertilizer requirements for 2003 totaled
only P28.613 million for the entire Philippines - compared to the P2.806 billion released in 2004.

Overpriced and inappropriate fertilizer

The fertilizers used were actually liquid fertilizers known as foliar, normally used for ornamental plants and flowers and anything leafy but not usually used for rice or corn. To add insult to injury, the "wrong and overpriced fertilizer for rice was even diluted with water." The Commission on Audit reported overpricing of foliar fertilizer (allegedly supplied in all transactions) from 700 to 1,250 percent. For instance, a witness cited Bio Nature liquid fertilizer regularly sold in the market at P180 to P350 per bottle were priced at P1,500 per bottle.

Sharing scheme

Atty. Frank Chavez testified that the fertilizer funds were shared in the following manner: 25% for the DA official (referring to Jocelyn Bolante); 30% for mayors, governors and congressmen concerned; 20% for the supplier of farm inputs; and 25% for DA official runners. A certain Jose Barredo, Jr. also testified under oath (as being one of
the runners) how the fertilizer scam operated and how he offered the fertilizers to local officials and congressmen.

Who were the fertilizer suppliers?

In spite of the size of the program, no major fertilizer suppliers appeared to have participated in the program. The Fertilizer Industry Association of the Philippines (FIAP), which has 17 member-companies and a market share of 95%, testified that none of its members participated in the DA's fertilizer program.

Instead, AKAME Marketing, Castle Rock Construction, and FESHAN Philippines, Inc. were identified as the suppliers of the fertilizer. Two of the companies could not be traced and one has no prior track record of dealing in fertilizers. Feshan, for instance, is originally a medical supplier and started to supply fertilizers only in 2004.

Bigger pie

The Senate Committees on Agriculture and Blue Ribbon revealed that the P728 million fund is just a portion of the Larger Fertilizer Fund released during the 2004 elections. The Department of Agriculture received P2.806 billion for the purchase of farm inputs and implements before the 10 May 2004 elections.

Nature of Fund/Program SARO Number and Date Amount

GMA Farm Inputs and Implements E-04-00164 (Feb. 3, 2004) P728 million

GMA Rice and Corn E-04-00294 (Feb. 11, 2004) P1.102 billion

Marcos Wealth for CARP E-04-01090 (Apr. 28, 2004) P544 million

GMA Rice Program and
Fertilizer Procurement and From Agency Budget Matrix
Distribution Component (regular budget) P432 million
P2.806 billion

Criminal culpability

The Senate committees recommended an overhaul of the Department of Agriculture. Filing of criminal and administrative charges were recommended against Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, Secretary Luis Lorenzo, Undersecretary Ibarra Poliquit, Undersecretary Belinda Gonzales, Assistant Secretary Jose Felix Montes, and all regional directors of the DA who participated in the fertilizer scam. President Arroyo (who may have had knowledge on the Bolante requests for funds) was also asked to account for the mismanagement of the fertilizer fund. Private sector partners or suppliers who connived with the DA in overpricing diluted fertilizers and ghost deliveries could also be charged.


Farmer groups that testified in the Senate Fertilizer Scam hearings and claimed that they had not received fertilizer assistance :

1. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
2. Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (UNORKA)
3. Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas
4. Kalipunan ng mga Maliliit na Magniniyog sa Pilipinas
5. Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK)
6. Pahagpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Panay (PAMANGGAS)
7. Katipunan ng Samahang Magsisibuyas (KASAMNE)
8. Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon
9. KMP-Southern Tagalog
10. Samahan ng Gugti ng mga Parag-uma - Sinirangan Bisaya (SAGUPA-SB)
11. SAGUPA-SB, Northern Samar
12. National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN)
13. KMP-Bicol

Monday, February 27, 2006

'rot' race

one of the lines of thinking which saved gma from being asked to leave the presidency goes like this: if we're going to be responsible for what we ask for, we can't in conscience ask gma to resign simply because we don't have anyone "better" to replace her. this was at the beginning of all the controversies. sadly, everyone seems to be equally ill-fit.

fast forward to today. if i'm gonna be asked if i still believe in this, i'd say no. i'd say that gma had managed to rot so fast that his competitors in the rot race would now look so healthy. thanks to proclamation 1017. thanks to eo464 and the cpr. thanks to the rotten people close to her too, not excluding most especially her husband.

gma, if there's any part of your brain which is still working well, could you kindly please think about resigning now?! and if you're scared about being prosecuted and jailed if you resign, don't be. that's actually the best place to continue to rot, you'll be just fine.

Monday, February 13, 2006

3 To Do’s When in a Revolutionary Situation: Remember, Celebrate, Believe

A “revolutionary situation” is where we all presently find ourselves in. The intimidating terms might scare you away, but here’s an alternative view of what we are to expect in this critical time in our nation’s life.

It will help if we first make sure that we know what being in a revolutionary situation means.

Being in a revolutionary situation is second of three stages in the revolutionary process. Stage one is called “revolutionary mood.” This phase is characterized by a deep dissaffection towards the present social or political standing of a nation. This disaffection could be triggered by an anomalous event or a series of events showing cracks in the present status quo of a country. In a revolutionary situation, disaffection is shared by the majority and if unchecked, is expected to grow.

We have clearly passed through this stage. The grounding event was the “hello, Garci?” controversy, and the succeeding events, helped of course by the political booboos by GMA and her supporters, the incessant opportunistic pounding on the issue by Erap’s and FPJ’s allies, the hullaballistic impeachment proceedings, plus the omnipresence of the more vibrant and prospering left (and friends) in the streets.

It was in early June when the Garci cds went out, and in December, SWS reports that 54% or majority of its survey respondents want GMA out before 2010. The feeling of distrust in the present administration took a while to catch on to many but it seems that eventually it still did. This time, there is that profound discontent expressed in various media.

We are now in a revolutionary situation, but not yet in a “revolutionary crisis,” the final stage. A revolutionary crisis is when there has been a build-up of groups (or one strong group) which are plausibly able to challenge the present sociopolitical setup, or the present leadership. We don’t find it now yet. What we do find right now are groups formed out of a shared distrust, fear, disgust, and/or conviction that some change is in the present societal arrangement is in order. There has been rumored attempts at coming up with some kind of a unification, but as of now, they are all just that: rumors.

A revolutionary situation is what we have right now. Now here’s the alternative view at the crisis we are in right now which I propose. I say welcome the situation and anticipate the best times that are to come. Give me two minutes, and just read on, before you call me crazy. These are the worst of times, these are the best of times. Have your pick. I suggest you pick the latter. In order for you to do that, just do this: remember, celebrate, and believe.

Remember, it was in a somewhat similar time when the likes of Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini and all our great national figures had the occasion to be called what we call them right now: heroes. Champions of love for our motherland and fellow Filipinos. The only ones who got into our history books are few, but let us count all the Filipinos who risked life and limb during those times, fighting the conquistadores at one front, fighting the opinion of those who don’t believe in what they’re doing on another, and engaging themselves too in the struggle within their hearts, fighting all doubts about whether their country is worth the heroism they are to offer. I invite you to relive the struggle they went through, they were humans too. Pilipino silang tulad mo at tulad ko. Pilipinong nagpaka-Pilipino.

Remember too the millions who went to EDSA 1, 20 years ago. I wasn’t there, but my parents were. I didn’t need history books to tell me that that moment was a historic moment for us. I grew up listening to their stories of how almost everyone rallied in front of the tanks, under the threat of being bombed from above by the tora-tora’s, strangers locking arms with strangers, united at last to end the dictatorship of Marcos.

Remember, these are Filipino heroes, many of them are still alive, living among us. And I am sure that the present revolutionary situation we as a nation are in right now is igniting within them again the fire of the dreams they once shared with millions of fellow Filipinos.

Celebrate. Celebrate the fact that we are maturing as a nation. We are. Be convinced and please muzzle the people who say otherwise. The agitation and restlessness of many of us show as reaction to the controversies hounding the present administration prove that the set of wrong acts that we can tolerate have significantly downsized. Whereas cheating before was generally accepted as part of the normal way of proceeding in this country, there are now a growing number of people who abhor it.

In an article written by Mr Alex Magno entitled “The Perils of Pedestal” for Newsweek at the onset of the hello garci scandal, he ascribed to hypocrisy the rallies and the various outward manifestations of repugnance of many groups and individuals. He says, “we are not supposed to know this happens, but because the conversations appear to have been caught on tape, our explicit code of proper civic behavior compels us to feign disgust. We have to go through the motions of being scandalized.”

Perhaps there were a few. But the majority, I say, are not. Circumspect and cautious at first maybe, but not hypocritical. I hope Mr Magno in his article was just referring to a few.

And then finally. Believe. Believe in the Filipino whose spirit may sometimes waver but is never killed. It’s no surprise that at these critical times, we find our athletes winning at almost every event, in the SEA games, and in Pacquiao vs Morales. These guys are challenged, and now their triumphs are in turn challenging us.

Believe that this spirit is in the majority of us. The spirit which was in Rizal, Ninoy, and every single Filipino in EDSA are in us. Let us keep it alive. No, let me change that plea. I am certain that we will keep it alive. The revolutionary situation we are in right now compels us to be informed, to be reflective, and to engage in action. We are not going to back out; that simply is not us.

Anytime now, I expect our heroes to be standing up, one by one. I have seen some of them in the past months. I know that many are still to come.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pork barrel: Pigging out

First posted 01:25am (Mla time) Jan 04, 2006
By Juan V. Sarmiento Jr., Armand N. Nocum

FILIPINOS are vaguely aware that the pork barrel -- that euphemism for the joint raid on the National Treasury by the President and Congress in the name of infrastructure development -- is a source of fat kickbacks for the most dishonorable members of Congress.
But until August 1996 when the Inquirer published an award-winning series of articles, the public was largely in the dark about the magnitude of the amounts that regularly went into the pockets of legislators.
The most explosive reports in that series were the result of a meeting that month between a member of the House of Representatives and three Inquirer editors. The meeting at a nightspot in Quezon City was largely a social occasion among old friends wanting to catch up on one another's lives.
When the conversation turned to the subject of the items in the national budget that pertained to the pet projects of lawmakers, that is, the pork barrel, the congressman was quite happy to disclose the money trail.
Taking hold of a paper napkin, the lawmaker, who will continue to remain unnamed, illustrated exactly how much, in the form of "standard" amounts, the members of Congress and other officials got from government projects funded with the pork barrel.
He said the kickbacks were "SOP" -- standard operating practice -- among legislators and ranged from a low of 19 percent to a high of 52 percent of the cost of each project, which could be anything from dredging, rip rapping, asphalting, concreting and construction of school buildings.
The other major sources of kickbacks that he identified were public funds intended for medicines and textbooks.
A few days later, the tale of the money trail became the banner story of the Inquirer issue of August 13, accompanied by an illustration of a roasted pig.
The great revolt
The drawing showed which choice portions of the pig went to a congressman, a senator, the head of the pre-qualification bidding and awards committee, and the resident local auditor.
The publication of the list would spark what could be called "the great pork barrel revolt" of 1996 in Congress as legislators realized that not all congressmen and senators were created equal -- some got a bigger slice of the pork than others.
The pork barrel is a "hallowed" tradition in the history of the legislature in the country, dating back to the establishment of Congress itself. It is an accepted way by which legislators can be given access to public funds that they can distribute as largesse to their constituents.
The customary pork was known as the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) in the budget. Each senator was allocated P18 million and each congressman P12.5 million.
A pig by any other name...
During the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos, the pork barrel system was expanded with the Congressional Initiative Allocation (CIA), under which funds were inserted in the budgets of government departments for projects in which legislators would have a say, giving them an additional source of pork.
The Inquirer series was sparked by a July 22, 1996 story in which the chair of the Presidential Commission Against Graft and Corruption, Eufemio Domingo, denounced what he called the "criminal waste of hard-earned money by Congress through pork barrel appropriations amounting to P20 billion over the past eight years."
The issue would have died down as such stories are wont to. The issue of pork barrel irregularities were nothing new, after all.
But then the unnamed congressman decided to spill the beans and furnish the Inquirer with the list of the kickback beneficiaries.
Worse than hell's fury
And the resulting ruckus in Congress stirred some members of the public into going to the Inquirer with their own stories of irregularities in the implementation of the pork barrel-funded projects.
Hell hath no fury than a legislator denied his pork barrel. Unhappy about the share that they got, congressmen began turning on each other.
Several took to the House floor or went on radio to denounce the unfair allocations. Loyal administration congressmen felt insulted that their P21 million in CIA paled in comparison with the allocations for the most vociferous critics of President Ramos and House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
The list showed that Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora and Makati Representative Joker Arroyo, for example, got P103 million and P38.1 million, respectively.
The then Deputy Speaker Hernando Perez said he could not accept that the late Representative Rolando Andaya, who headed the appropriations committee, got P3.6 billion.
Pork even for relatives
Perez, who was allocated P76 million, said the fact that others got P100 million "makes me look like an idiot."
Iloilo Representative Raul Gonzalez noted that some of the contractors for projects funded with pork barrel were relatives of congressmen or officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Others revealed that 23 construction firms were owned by House members or their close relatives.
The House was in crisis. De Venecia suspended the session one afternoon to prevent a free-for-all.
The Speaker then called a caucus where he promised to resolve the matter by giving the rebellious representatives more pork, averting a threat to declare all House positions vacant.
Who was Deep Throat?
Speculation on the source of the Inquirer kickbacks list was so intense that on August 12, two congressmen from Samar fought on the House floor, one of them accusing the other of being the source of the Inquirer story.
Various congressmen demanded an investigation to find out who leaked the list to the Inquirer.
Congressmen suspected Senator Edgardo Angara of leaking the list. Senator Ernesto Maceda delivered a privilege speech blaming the "ignorant media" for the "demolition job versus the entire Congress."
The Inquirer decided to come out with a story on the source of the list. It turned out to be a Department of Budget and Management official who was so exasperated with the floods in his area that he gave the list to the Inquirer's congressman source in the hope that it would result in a more equitable sharing of the CIA and free up funds for flood mitigation and control.
P1-B libel suit
With the public pressure, the DBM would confirm that the list was authentic.
In mid-August, De Venecia declared that the House would file a P1-billion libel suit against the Inquirer.
Gonzalez upped the ante by announcing that the House would have the Inquirer offices "padlocked" on the grounds that its series on the pork barrel was seditious.
The threats boomeranged on Congress. Church people, local government organizations, school officials, children and media groups flooded the Inquirer with calls, fax messages and mail, expressing outrage against the pork barrel and promising support for the paper.
House retreats
Children sent their savings to help the Inquirer defray the cost of fighting a libel suit, and people sent leads for stories, documents and pictures of cases of pork barrel misuse.
Rather than be cowed, the Inquirer went on to publish the entire CIA list, starting on August 15.
Amid the public outrage, the House dropped its plan to sue the Inquirer.
Did the kickbacks stop because of the Inquirer series? Most likely, it did not.
But the series has led to reforms in the pork barrel system.
No more basketball courts
In 2001, the DBM started posting on its website the list of pork barrel projects that congressmen and senators had identified for funding. It also issued a memorandum circular disallowing projects like basketball courts and waiting sheds.
During the 12th Congress in 2001, the pork barrel was renamed the Priority Development Assistance Fund, which was limited to funding "hard projects" like roads, bridges, hospitals and day care centers, and "soft projects" like support for the Department of Social Welfare and Development and procurement of seeds.
Some legislators completely gave up their pork barrel.