Doubts about a Mar Roxas presidency

A friend from Dumalag, Capiz called me a few days ago, and our phone conversation turned to a topic that is generating a lot of excitement in our home province —- the candidacy of Mar Roxas.
He confessed to me that he is inclined to vote for Mar Roxas. “My only reservation comes from the prospect that he will use his position to protect the real masterminds of the pork barrel scams,” he said.
I had to agree with him. As a person, Mar Roxas is a noble man. He is well educated, experienced, and ready to face higher responsibility. Mar’s only problem is that he can’t seem to disengage himself from the issues plaguing the Aquino administration. He is stuck with the yellow label, and that is dragging him down.
And it would leave me with a heavy heart to see Mar Roxas unable to severe his connections from the DAP masterminds and strengthen the perception that he will spend more time trying to keep them out of jail than pressing ahead with much-needed reforms for the country.
Time is running out. Mar Roxas should demonstrate he is his own man. He should not be hostage to the machinations of his party-mates who destroyed the core principles of the Liberal Party. He must convince the likes of me that his presidency will be anchored on the rule of law, and no one will be spared from facing the consequences of their criminal behavior while in public office.

Ward politics and the cacique mentality

I think it’s presumptuous for the likes of Peping Cojuangco to promise Tarlac votes for VP Jojo Binay.
It reflects the cacique mentality of many political leaders who look at their constituents as minions who will do as they order.
Most of our voters don’t decide on the basis of what their local leaders tell them how or who to vote.
In many elections, candidates won in places where the local “shieks” campaigned against them.
A classic case would be then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. In Iloilo province, most of the incumbent congressmen and municipal mayors in 2010 belonged to the Lakas of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Yet Mr. Aquino triumphed in Iloilo in a thunderous way.
Another good example was the victory of my former boss, then Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. in 2004 in his re-election bid. He was challenged by former 1st district Congressman Oscar Garin. In the town of Janiuay, Iloilo, the two candidates for mayor were pro-Garin. To everybody’s surprise, Gov. Tupas won in that town by a huge margin.
It will definitely help to have a strong machinery at the local level. But it is not a guarantee.
Hence, on the other side of the fence, Secretary Mar Roxas shouldn’t entrust his fate to the local leaders who have pledged all-out support for him.
He should work on gaining broad support from the electorate and exploit the advantage of being the administration candidate to the hilt.

A giant comeback

The appointment of Janet Garin as DOH secretary completes the comeback of the 1st district political dynasty in the national stage.Janet Garin
It shows the political adroitness of the patriarch, former Congressman Oscar Garin, in jumping from one administration to another.
The Garins have never stayed out of the political loop of every administration for too long.
In 2000, Oca Garin was appointed by Pres. Erap as presidential assistant for Western Visayas. He hesitated. He accepted the appointment sometime in November 2000 or thereabouts. By January 2001, Erap was kicked out from office, leaving Garin drifting in the political ocean.
But true to form, Garin quickly got into the good graces of the Gloria Arroyo administration. Before long, he was appointed as chief of the Philippine Coconut Authority.
Garin was a marked man as far as Liberal Party leader Franklin Drilon was concerned. Drilon regarded him as a mortal enemy. Corruption issues flew thick in Garin’s wake. In 2010, Garin campaigned for Villar. When he saw that the victory of Noynoy was unstoppable, changed colors three days before the elections.
It was not enough to gain him entry into the good graces of the Aquino administration. He was ultimately removed as PCA chairman and once again stayed as a benchwarmer.
That changed, however, in 2012. Drilon embraced Garin to pave the way for a “unification ticket” for the Liberal Party. Garin’s wife and children all ran under the LP banner in 2013 and won. Janet Garin was appointed DOH undersecretary.
And now Janet is DOH secretary. Oca Garin must be wearing a big smile these days. He has once again outmaneuvered everybody, including the grand old man of the Liberal Party in Iloilo, Niel Tupas Sr.
Tupas, who sacrificed greatly for party platform and principles, does not even hold an appointive position.
I am not saying that Dr. Janet Garin is not competent. She is intelligent and capable. She might even make a good DOH secretary.
But the message is that this appointment conveys is that the Aquino administration has embraced traditional politics as a means to survival and strengthen its chances of getting a partymate to succeed H.E. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III on June 30, 2016.

‘No mas’?

Below is my press statement in reaction to the initiative of Senator Koko Pimental to cut short the Blue Ribbon Committee investigation into the anomalous Iloilo Convention Center project:

Is the Liberal Party declaring “no mas” in the face of emerging evidence validating my assertions that the bidding and implementation of the Iloilo Convention Center was marred by irregularities such as rigging of the bid and overpricing?

That is the signal being sent by the move of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III to bring the Blue Ribbon Committee investigation into these issues to an abrupt halt.
Far from the claim of Senate President Franklin Drilon and his party mates that I failed to present evidence to back up my allegations, I have proof and this was strengthened by the testimonies of DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson and DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez in last Thursday’s hearing.
On the issue of overpricing:
1) In computing the unit cost for the building, Singson included the roof deck area to arrive at a figure of 11,900 sqm. Even assuming that this is true, the unit cost is still P63,000 per sqm, which is more than double the industry standard of P30,000 per sqm. Singson insists the industry standard cannot be applied to government infrastructure. But he could not explain why it is more than double the P26,000 per sqm. of the SMX n the Mall of Asia.
2. The real floor area of the ICC is 8,932 sqm. based on the Invitation to Bid published by the DPWH in the Manila Standard Today on July 5, 2013 in describing the scope of works for the completion of the structure. If this figure is used, and this is the figure upon which the unit cost should be based, the construction cost would amount to P84,000 per sqm. That is glaring evidence of overpricing.
3. In his testimony, Singson said DPWH is trying to bring down the unit cost to P55,000 per sqm.  That is an admission of overpricing. If that is going to happen, DPWH will be able to slash P95.2 million from the total contract price based on 11,900 sqm as base floor area. That is equivalent to 13% of the present estimated project cost to P747 million.
4. If the unit cost goes down to P55,000 per sqm. and we use the actual floor area of 8,932 sqm., then the overprice is still a whooping P72 million.
5. Singson testified that the architectural design made provisions for an additional two floors, which is why the foundation had to be strengthened. This is a case of over design of the specifications to justify the supposed need for more pile driving. The allocation for pile driving and foundation work in the presentation of Singson is P107,000,000. But the design of the building makes additional floors impractical and unnecessary. The symmetry and balance of the “iconic architecture” would be upset, and it would lose the unique design to make it attractive.
6. By Singson’s own testimony, the overpricing of the project becomes apparent, and the Liberal Party doesn’t want to expose the Senate President to more embarrassment as what happened in last Thursday’s hearing.
On the issue of malversation and plunder:
1. Based on the above presentation, the overprice ranges from at least P74 milliion to P95 million, or even more, depending on further examination of the building plans by technical personnel of the Commission on Audit. The malversation of amounts more than P50 million is plunder. As this is a conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all.
2. No less than Senate President Drilon admitted how deep his involvement in the project is. In fact, during the hearing last Thursday, he was heard “cuing” Singson and Jimenez with their answers. He chided Senator Nancy Binay at one point, forgetting that he had inhibited himself from the hearing, and was there as a resource person. Senator Serge Osmena also took a swipe at him for trying to interject for Jimenez who found difficulty answering the questions the Cebuano senator threw at him. His own actions betrayed the truth that his involvement was more than looking for funds. It took on the nature of ownership, and he could not extricate himself from the issue that he meddled in every aspect of the implementaton.
It would be tragic if the Liberal Party bury the truth by simply shutting the door to a deeper inquiry. It will have abdicated its mandate for oversight, accountability and good governance. By itself, terminating the inquiry at a time when more questions emerged than were answered would be tantamount to betrayal of public trust.

A squabble in the making?

I had coffee with regular habitues of the Glory Kapehan in the infamous Iloilo City Central Market this morning, and the topic was the political landscape in 2016.
While the political bonds between city mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog and congressman Jerry Trenas are intact, there seems to be fissures building up underneath due to the anticipated showdown for the Presidency.
A barangay captain whispered to me that there could be a confrontation between Mabilog and Trenas because of their candidates for President. Trenas is openly for Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party while Mabilog is traipsing with front runner Vice President Jojo Binay.
The root of this likely squabble is the fact that Mabilog’s ever-loyal Voltes V in the city council are now displaying their support for Binay. This is not going to sit well with Trenas, who doesn’t Roxas to doubt his own loyalty.
The unfolding of this drama will be greatly interesting.

Evil genius

I agree with former Senator Joker Arroyo.
The crafting of the DAP and its misuse to strengthen the hold of the Liberal Party on Philippine politics was evil.
It stands in contradiction with the principles of the Liberal Party.
Its so-called “noble intentions” could be compared to the desire of Adolf Hitler to eradicate the Jewish race and “cleanse” the German nation.
DAP stands for tyranny, which is evil.
DAP sought to undermine the very foundations of our democracy.
It endeavored to use corruption to get rid of the perceived enemies of society, only to replace them with a worse kind.

If Mar Roxas wants to be President, he must rebuild his bailiwick

If Mar Roxas wants to be President, he must rebuild his bailiwick

Supporters of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas are excited, and nervous, about his prospects in the 2016 presidential derby. But as the most recent Pulse Asia poll survey showed, he trails front-runner VP Jojo Binay by a mile, and the race is going into the final bend. He is running out of time. If he is serious, and questions are being raised about it in the first place, he must take a second look at his own bailiwick: the Western Visayas region.


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