Bolante And The Euro Generals
By Isagani A. Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted 00:50:00 11/16/2008
[...] Bolante, as agriculture undersecretary then in charge of the fund, successfully evaded testifying about that brewing scandal until his petition for political asylum in the United States was rejected by the American government that forthwith dispatched him back to this country to be confronted by our legislative authorities. His interrogation began last Thursday where he testified under oath, and with a straight face, that President Macapagal-Arroyo did not know anything about the questioned disposition of the said fund nor did she authorize its release. The public knew right away that this was going to be a game of hide-and-seek.
My own impression of the Senate hearings last Thursday was that the senators were largely unprepared with their questions while Bolante was totally coached with his answers. Even so, Bolante buried himself deeper and deeper in his perjuries, especially his exculpation of President Arroyo from the multimillion-peso fraud.
The second problem has to do with the P9.2 million given to the PNP delegation consisting of eight senior officers, some with their wives, who attended the 77th Interpol General Assembly held in St. Petersburg, Russia. On their way home, they were investigated by the customs authorities for carrying out of the country euros in excess of the allowable amount. They were eventually cleared after they explained that the money came not from Russia but from our own generous government.
That incident was of little moment in the host country but it caused a sensation here when our alert media, always on the look-out for official venalities, revealed the questioned amount as highly excessive and, worse, unlawful. The exposé became all the more shocking when it was revealed that the extravagant bounty given to the generals included not only their P2.3 million travel allowance but also a “contingency fund” of P6.9 million of taxpayer money.
The generals must have thought so little of the people’s intelligence—and thus exhibited their own density—when they said the money was to be used for their purchase of weapons and sophisticated spy equipment. Where—in some talipapa in Moscow with the wives making tawad as if buying tilapia? Some of the more penitent sinners simply returned the euros but not in full, probably retaining the balance as advance payment of their pension when they retire at the tender age of 56.
These two cases have further disturbed the patience of our people and confirm the judgment of the international community that the Philippines is among the most corrupt countries in the world, if not in fact the most corrupt among them. These offenses are especially disgraceful because they involve not ordinary persons whose misbehavior may be forgiven or at least mitigated because of their poor station in life. We are speaking here not of the forgotten man but of persons in high places who are hounded not by hunger but greed. [...]
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The title "Durong Bukot, Apan Kita'ng Bungot" (Duro[ng] = earnestly trying, Bukot = to cover oneself with, Apan = but, Kita['ng] = exposed or shown, Bungot = hair or beard), is a popular visayan riddle of which the answer is an ear of corn.
Like an ear of corn, no matter how hard the present government is expertly trying, corruptions in its administration cannot be hidden because evidences don't lie -- only the people involved do.
Of course the administration has done many good things for the nation, but the people would appreciate their efforts if the problem of corruption is given the appropriate priority. Malacañang always "seemed" to be aloof when corruption cases do not involve close administration officials, yet very involved (in covering up) when cases tend to implicate themselves.
People are starting to get so frustrated and less hopeful of the unsolved glaring corruptions of our nation. What the "miserable five" (as what the 5 bishops call themselves who openly expressed their frustration at a press conference) did was a clear manifestation of such frustration. They are but the tip of a new rapidly growing iceberg that could soon hit and sink the "Titanic" -- and the people may not be blamed if they choose to do so again.
Yes, there is a global crisis of confidence in the financial systems of the world, and we should also be focusing on this problem that could potentially hit our country. But laboring for the financial crisis and for the economy seems to have become the administration's avenue of escapism from facing the corruption allegations head-on without evasion or compromise. Let the chips fall where they may. There is a much bigger crisis of confidence that our nation is suffering -- a crisis of confidence on our national leadership.
It really takes so much inner strength to submit to the proper authorities when one commits mistakes. What police general De la Paz was doing is commendable in a way even though he seemed to be a "sacrificial goat" (not scapegoat nor sacrificial lamb) in this another latest high-profile corruption case. What the disbursing and finance officers did (the preparing of a memo warning of a culpable violation of proper disbursement procedure) was also commendable -- though it fall short of completely taking the opportunity of stopping the corruption in progress. Corruption always starts and succeeds in that way. People who have the chance (right before their very eyes) to avert a possible commission of corruption didn't took the necessary courage to do the right thing.
One observation also. It is only during the Euro Generals investigation in the Senate that the last phrase "...so help me God" was uttered -- in the other investigations, none heard. If the respondent is a believer in God, it is very important that this phrase should be spoken because it invokes the highest authority there is in the universe and beyond. If the respondent is not a believer, then he may not be obliged to speak the phrase.
God protects His name all the time. When invoking God for help especially when seeking for justice, swearing an oath to God brings freedom from the slavery of sin if the one swearing tells the truth. It brings self-perdition when the one swearing lies.