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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ON LIFE AFTER DEATH

April 4, 2014

National Geographic takes on the paranormal.

LAMENTATIONS OF AN EX-LEFTIST

March 24, 2014

There’s nothing like hearing it from one who was once a committed, dyed-in-the-wool communist.

Rigoberto Tiglao:  THE TRAGEDY OF THE PHILIPPINE LEFT

There is the tragedy of the Left in the Philippines. What it tried to wipe out in our country, poverty and inequality, have become worse after three decades. The Left hadn’t changed that a bit.

The Left has even made us poorer…

BONGBONG MARCOS FOR PRESIDENT IN 2016?

March 21, 2014

This is certain to raise the hackles of the Marcos haters while the Marcos loyalists would surely be overjoyed.

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DISCUSSION AT DISQUS

March 17, 2014

Here is one of the more interesting exchanges I have in one of the forums using Disqus.

A Philstar columnist, Ana Marie Pamintuan, writes wondering out loud why there is loot but there is no looter.

A newly arrived expat has an interesting question: why is it that the Philippine government has confiscated billions of pesos officially classified as ill-gotten wealth, but no one has gone to prison for illegally amassing the fortune?

The incongruity was lost to us Filipinos a long time ago, when the Marcoses returned one by one to the country, restarted their lives – toned down but still opulent – and quickly won elective office.

Today, while the nation still hasn’t completed the recovery of all the wealth that Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos are believed to have stashed away, Pinoy taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the perks and upkeep of public offices held by Imeldific and two of her children. The word “honorable” is appended to their official titles.

I commented:

Loot, but no looter.

Because we convicted the money not the person.

Ideally, the suspect is first convicted then properties confiscated. We did it the other way around.

Because the Swiss imposed a conditionality in the release of suspect deposits and we salivated on the money but was nowhere near convicting the Marcoses, the Supreme Court came up with a formula which was to compute the legal income of Marcos based on his declared income tax return and declaring that anything beyond is ill-gotten.

So there, we have a loot but no looter.

The Supreme Court decision after all was merely a summary judgment declaring the Swiss deposits prima facie evidence of ill-gotten wealth and must therefore be confiscated in favor of the government.  Did it pronounce anyone guilty of looting?  No!

Down the line, someone who goes by the handle Juanaguanta2 made this long comment:

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”=Act 3, Scene II of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare= In fairness to F. Marcos, he did not invent corruption in the Philippines. He only expanded it into a colossal criminal enterprise. It is fair to say that the beneficiaries of this culture of corruption under his regime were his immediate families, friends, and cronies. When he became president, the Philippines external debt was almost zero. When he left, it was a staggering USD 28 Billion. In October 1976, the Philippines hosted an IMF-WB conference in Manila. Early in 1975 there were 14 applications for hotel projects. The builders were all Marcos cronies who received government guaranteed loans at an average of USD 100 million each. Most deposited about USD 60 million in Switzerland and the remaining 40 million were used to fund their hotel projects. This includes Imelda’s Philippine Plaza Hotel. All these under false pretense to build a 5 Star Hotel. Since they were underfunded, they turned out to be just a mediocre 2 or 3 star hotels. They were not even completed by the time the conference started. Eventually, these hotel operators became insolvent and the Philippine Government took over ownership including about 400 money loser corporations. All these cronies got away with about 60 million or more in hidden money in Swiss Banks. Losses by these corporations came to about 3 billion USD. ==

By Constantine Von Hoffman, CBS Money Watch: “The offshore tax havens of @ least 30 Americans accused of fraud, money laundering, or other financial crimes have been unearthed in a groundbreaking report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist (ICIJ) and Global Consortium of News outlets. A cache of 2.5 million files were published on 4/4/13 exposing secrets of more than 120,000 offshore entities including Shell Corporations and legal structures known as Trusts… used to hide to finances of politicians, crooks, and others from 170 nations. Estimated value of as high as 32 Trillion about the size of US/Japan economies combined. The documents reveal among others, MARIA IMELDA MARCOS MANOTOC, daughter of the late Philippine Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Speculations abound if this is part of the legendary 5B or more, her father amassed through corruption.

My reply:

“When he became president, the Philippines external debt was almost zero. When he left, it was a staggering USD 28 Billion.” 

This is evidence of plunder? Why, is anybody stopping anyone to use this as evidence in court in the many cases against the Marcoses?

“Speculations abound if this is part of the legendary 5B or more, her father amassed through corruption.”

If speculations could convict, then go ahead.

Her retort was swift and harsh:

Go figure!! if that’s to hard for you, then crawl back under the pile of excrement where you belong.

You have to wonder why some people could become so emotional and ‘excremental’ when discussing the issue of Marcos wealth.  But hey I could be as cool as a cat:

Typical reaction. But I am being patient. Conviction by public opinion is one thing. All you need is a rant similar to yours and a public which agrees. Conviction through a court ruling that will send one to jail with appropriate penalty is another. You need specific, detailed charges with specific evidence that will prove the charges and will establish without doubt that the accused is guilty. If you go to court and tell the judge Marcos is a plunderer and must be convicted as such because when he left national debt is $28B whereas there was virtually none when he started, the judge will probably die laughing.

The rejoinder was more mellowed this time:

I know you are just playing a devil’s advocate, given the archaic and corrupt nature of our judicial system. But the more relevant question is: why after 28 billion was borrowed, they have nothing to show for it except a damaged nation, a sick, hungry and poverty stricken people?? Perhaps the statute of limitations should be a part of any reforms given we have the political will to do it. Otherwise the Philippines is doomed if business as usual prevails.

I responded:

“…they have nothing to show for it…”

There are those hundreds of infrastructure projects costing billions of pesos, the most expensive of which was the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. ****

“… nothing to show for it except a damaged nation, a sick, hungry and poverty stricken people?…”

Now, that calls for a more complicated study. What went wrong? What policies brought us here? Why has our national productivity gone down?

I would point to the BNPP as one of the major reasons. Tens of billions of pesos of government fund paid over twenty five years, and not a single watt produced for absolutely zero returns (negative if you consider maintenance and other accompanying costs)– a perfect recipe for bankruptcy.

No more replies after that.

(BTW, I stand corrected: thirty years, not twenty five, $2.3 not $2.1).

Indeed, debt repayment on the plant was the country’s single biggest debt obligation for thirty years, devouring much of the entire annual national budget year after year.  Yet, there is very little attention paid to it and its contribution to the eventual financial bankruptcy of the Philippines, to our continuing problem with astronomical power cost, to intermittent power interruptions, and subsequently to our poverty.

How much eventually did we pay for the BNPP? I would estimate that the entire bill must have gone over P150,000,000,000. over thirty years.  Now, because it did not produce any returns, it meant that all that precious taxpayer’s money was literally and figuratively flushed down the drain all that time.

Still wondering whatever happened?!

Now, who’s to blame?  The President who had it built or the President who had it mothballed?

WHERE HAVE I BEEN

March 11, 2014

Have not been checking out this blog for almost a year now.  In fact, my last post was dated June 3 last year.

Just got lazy. After a while you just run out of ideas and lose inspiration.

But it never occurred to me to close this down either.  I must be instinctively expecting to make a return.

Surprisingly, my traffic rather than fade completely is  steady and sometimes slightly on the rise instead. In fact some comments were left unattended for quite some time which I rushed to approve last week after checking in on a whim.  Hmm, I might get inspired writing again.

No I did not completely stop.  I have been an irregular user of Disqus commenting on current events on Inquirer.net, Philstar.com, ManilaStandardToday.com and other users of Disqus. (Great thing about Disqus is logging in and posting is such a breeze you are easily enticed to write a piece.)

Some old favorite blogs I would still visit from time to time but commenting have been sparse too.

If I could get myself back into the groove again, I would be posting more frequently in the coming weeks.

3D PRINTING IS THE PRECURSOR OF THE NEW INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION?

June 3, 2013

Imagine that you could build tools, spare parts, items of almost any kind, even foodstuff following your own desires and designs, the possibilities are countless.  In fact, it could be the precursor of a new industrial revolution: 3D printing.  What used to stuff for fantasy is now real and the possibilities are truly mind-boggling.

WIKILEAKS: MARCOS AND THE OLIGARCHS OF THE PHILIPPINES

April 17, 2013

This unclassified diplomatic cable of US Ambassador to the Philippines William Sullivan (1973-1977), which forms part of the latest Wikileaks release,  provides a helpful glimpse into the official posture of the US with respect to the Marcos administration in the early years of Martial Law..  Objectively, it should also offer a new perspective into the early years of the so-called darkest period of Philippine history as presided then by the much-hated President Ferdinand Marcos.

Some key excerpts:

Marcos has conducted his continuous fight with the oligarchs with a persistent skill and toughness, but in an atmosphere of growing charges of corruption and duplicity, and of increasing questions about the role of his wife, her family and entourage….

…the concentration of economic power in and around the Palace has progressed more or less without interruption since Martial Law.  While there is a strong and predictable tendency of onlookers to see the process only as the enhancement of personal wealth , and for many Filipinos to be fairly  relaxed about the process, the present garnering of wealth and sectoral economic power appears to us more keyed to a future power design than a traditional bad habit.

 In Today’s Revolution: Democracy, Marcos made an excellent if hardly airtight case for curtailing the power of the oligarchs with the beginning of Martial Law.  The “New Society” depended in part on frustrating greater concentration of wealth in their hands—if not in absolutely reducing their existent wealth—and achieving a more equitable distribution of income   In this regard, Marcos’ fight acquired some ideological validity and popular acceptance. Clouding this respectability…, however, was awareness of the considerable wealth Marcos himself had accumulated in office…

MARCOS AND THE OLIGARCHS– THE TRANSFER OF ECONOMIC POWER

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