Yesterday, the Makati Business Club, with other economic forces in the country, denounced in a statement (see below) the "culture of impunity" pervading the Philippine bureaucracy. The Club, the fierce lion that regressed into a cub at the height of the "Hello, Garcinungaling" scandal, is particulary "appalled" at allegations of corruption and bribery involving the ZTE National Broadband Network deal. Jose de Venecia III admitted having been offered a bribe of $10M dollars by COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos, now better known as the ZTE Liaison Officer, to withdraw his company's bid in the said government project. Former NEDA Director General Romulo Neri could not categorically deny that he was offered a P250M bribe by the ZTE Liaison Officer. He opted not to say anything. Did this education czar think he was being cute in his pathetic attempt to be mysterious? The child could not see the Emperor's New Clothes as he could not see Neri's denial.
Let us go back to the Makati Business Club which bears most of the brunt of my ire today. It is appalled? Where has it been all this time? The masses are past being appalled. They are either more incensed or blissful in their apathy. This apathy was an escape route they took after rocks of misfortune were thrown their way several times and The Establishment could not help them any. Later on they would find out that it was The Establishment hurling rocks at them. Because The Club is appalled, it is calling on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, self-appointed Queen of The Establishment, to heed "our pleas" and to "take immediate action to rectify blatant wrongdoings of public officials lest she be accused of condoning them."
If The Club has faith that Her Royal Highness will rectify blatant wrongdoings committed by her boys, we should stop wondering why we are going to the dogs. How can she clean a house she made dirtier than when she first moved in? She will spank the truant ZTE Liaison Officer, he will spill the beans on "Hello, Garcinungaling." If The Club will accuse HRH of condoning the public officials should she not heed the plea to take immediate action, it is way too late in its reaction. The enlightened population already accused her. She already condoned the corruption with her silence on the issue.
Why am I singling out The Club when the statement was issued by it with other powerful economic groups? It is a towering economic power in this country. Sure, its members who carry the blue blood of the national bourgeoisie are part of the oligarchy which holds the remote control that decides when those morons in Congress should sit or stand. In short, The Club is A Force. Karl Marx said that they who hold the economic power also hold the political power. If The Club wanted HRH impeached in 2005, she could have been impeached (That may be giving The Club far too much credit, but it was a possibility.). But no, it chose to play house with HRH in their own Garden of Eden, with the usual galit-bati routine, while the masses scavenged for food somewhere between hell and the desert. What was that about condemning HRH then making a turn-around saying there was a mistake? The shameful deal unraveling before our eyes right now would have been prevented by the success of the HRH Resign Movement whose failure The Club helped bring about. The failure of that movement sealed our fate: this is a nation where cheating is a way of life. Anybody else who disagrees is a deviant. Or worse, an aberration.
The movement failed because some of us chose to waltz with the dictator. And those some have forfeited the moral standing to say who should be crucified for this latest scandal of universal proportion!
The statement has its valid points, I must admit. I will just imagine that it was issued by the public school teachers who are far more credible than The Club.
Joint statement of Makati Business Club,Management Association of the Philippines,Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines,Foundation for Economic Freedom, Inc.,Action for Economic Reforms)
We are appalled that the culture of impunity among certain government officials appears to have spread to an extent exceeding that of all past administrations. This impunity seems also increasingly evident in many agencies of government.
A glaring example is that of COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos who had no business in allowing himself to be entertained by officials of ZTE Corporation, a potential contractor of the Republic, particularly considering he had an important electoral exercise to administer. His indiscreet conduct and absence from his official duties could only have happened if he believed he was immune from sanctions. We therefore reiterate our call for Chairman Abalos to resign. Dept. of Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza needs to think very carefully about the charges leveled against him by Congressman Carlos Padilla. Like other questionable projects, the ZTE deal will be rejected by the court of public opinion and, sooner or later, evaluated and ruled on by our own independent courts of law. Sec. Mendoza should prove his worth and rescind it now.
Should he choose not to do these, we would support a full investigation by the Senate of this highly questionable project given the huge expenditure of public funds involved. We also demand that the government publicly release a copy of the contract as mandated by Article III, Sec. 7 of our Constitution which states that “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.”
The secrecy about this project, despite repeated demands by the public, is contrary to the principle avowed by this Administration for complete transparency in matters of public interest and to the provisions of Republic Act 7925 which emphasizes that “public telecommunications services shall be provided by private enterprises.”
We are heartened by the courage of journalists and fiscalizers who bring to light the anomalous activities of public officials who believe they are protected by their position. We join them and encourage others in expressing public outrage at these questionable acts and the growing culture of political impunity.
We call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to heed our pleas and take immediate action to rectify blatant wrongdoings of public officials, lest she be accused of condoning them.