At Large

NGOs defend themselves

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It isn’t the first time—nor will it be the last, I’m afraid—that shenanigans in the distribution of public funds, or even foreign development assistance, have been brought to light.

The ongoing inquiry by the National Bureau of Investigation into allegations of how government money, including funds earmarked for projects of legislators (more commonly known as “pork barrel”) had been “misdirected” by the firm JLN Corp. has once more brought to the limelight the collusion between government officials and private persons bent on defrauding the people.

What makes the case even more alarming is that JLN, named after its founder and head, Janet Lim-Napoles, not only was supposedly able to get its hands on P10 billion over the past decade, but also that it did so by “earmarking” the amounts for ghost projects channeled through fictitious NGOs (nongovernment organizations).

The story is convoluted and appears to involve even personalities at the very top of the Aquino administration (Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa’s law firm, from which he is on leave, represented Napoles). But worse, the tales of fund misuse, coercion, intimidation and even kidnapping, all done seemingly under the very noses of our officials and legislators, can only boost the suspicions of foreign governments. It seems that foreign money donated for development projects out of their governments’ own foreign-policy priorities, if not their hearts, is being siphoned off by criminals in and out of government.

Adding fuel to the fire is that many NGOs are supposedly involved in these scams, casting a cloud over the nongovernment community here. The Philippines has long been known as the “NGO capital” of the world, owing to the large number of groups addressing a myriad of concerns, and the very dynamic and prominent nature of many such organizations and coalitions. Now come concerns that many of these NGOs are simply fronts for politicians or for criminal activity—which in the context of the JLN case seem to be one and the same thing.

* * *

Some time back, the French government said it had blacklisted the Philippines and 16 other countries because their governments were doing little, if anything, to investigate foreign aid fraud. It mattered little that, as deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, the Philippines was “in the company of Switzerland and Brunei, among others.”

So what was she trying to say? That “exalted” company somehow mitigates our culpability?

No wonder some NGOs working in the field of children’s and women’s rights, or at least those who have gained a lot of credibility through decades of work and results, are sounding the alarm over the situation. (They spoke out even before the “JLN scam” hit the front page.)

In an invitation letter to a roundtable discussion next week, the NGOs said “recent events and news about alleged serious violations of ethical standards … have challenged the credibility of the NGO community.” Thus, they said, “we strongly feel the need to gather opinions, constructive feedback and suggestions about how we may learn from these disturbing developments and muster a common agenda that will further promote our commitment to uphold children and women’s rights… We feel we should not be silent while our credibility and reputation are put in question.”

Those interested may want to take part in the discussion (or cover it) on Thursday, July 18, at the meeting room of the Commission on Human Rights.

Here’s hoping the discussion doesn’t end with mere breast-beating and denunciations, but with concrete steps to protect genuine development NGOs from criminals hiding behind the skirts of civil society.

* * *

Moving on to quite another sphere…

At a recent lunch at Flavors, the all-day dining restaurant of Holiday Inn and Suites in Makati, we found an entire station devoted to children—or at least to “kid cuisine.” Star of the station was an entire hot dog corner, complete with the meaty dogs, buns, and all manner of fixings.

Definitely a “costar” in my book was the “Mac and Cheese,” which I had coincidentally been craving for just before our visit to the Holiday Inn.

It isn’t every day, after all, that one finds comfort food—much less food that reminds one of childhood—in a hotel buffet, but as Teri Flores, the hotel’s PR and marketing manager, declares: “We take pride in offering family-friendly accommodations in every Holiday Inn.”

The hotel’s Sunday brunch offering is particularly geared toward family fun, with food and activities for children and the whole family. And true to its name, “Flavors” organizes its buffet according to five flavors: spicy, sweet, creamy, fresh and savory.

* * *

Also banking on the comforts of the familiar are the guest bedrooms in the Holiday Inn, the first purpose-built Holiday Inn in the country (previous incarnations made use of existing properties). The beds, mattresses, pillows and other amenities can be found in all other Holiday Inn properties around the world. Making sure, it seems, that guests feel welcome wherever they are in the world.

And it seems the complimentary toiletries, which many guests ignore, are quite in demand, too. Flores says guests express appreciation for finding the same brands available in other Holiday Inns, another hallmark of the familiar.

The new Holiday Inn has another ace up its sleeve: It’s located right next to Glorietta 2, the newly rebuilt section of the Glorietta mall. Guests, many of them  balikbayan  or out-of-towners, can shop to their heart’s fulfillment while having a place nearby to park their tired bodies after a long day of trawling the shops.

And there’s always the hot dogs and mac-and-cheese for comfort and familiarity!

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  • clanwolf

    What puzzles me is how bogus NGOs aren’t well vetted, specially since many cabinet members like Dinky Soliman, are presumed to know many of them. But then we’d have to discuss CODE-NGO peace bonds won’t we?

    • el_latigo

      The CODE-NGO peace bonds is one another unresolved huge racket up to now. Will the latest P10-B PDAF (and badaf ) scandal go the same way? Based on our track record where & when high profile politically powerful personalities are involved, chances are it will.

  • josh_alexei

    The appropriate question here, which comes first, the chick or the egg or the Porks or the NGOs? Ms David, many a wise men been admiring the ingenuity of Filipino politicians for quite a while now. Many of them can own properties and bank accounts beyond their legal incomes and never have to even answer to anyone for the difference. And the worse part, many of them can be get away with murder and other very serious crimes against person. A 10 billion pesos if put in the context of the whole is just a financial crime, it may sound Big, but compares to the seriousness of crimes against person that is just peanuts, but again they are inter related.

  • tadasolo

    The affliction endemic in Philippine politics vetted and supported by a religious class whose blessings and defeaning silence is rampant is what ails our society. There is not ethical consideration and their utter disregard to steal and used tax payer hard earned money is evil and the political and religious and media class are responsible for it.

    • tadasolo

      When I say media class is the printed and broadcast news, movies and televison. We need to attacked the movie and television class for coming up with useless and worthless dramas meant to subdue and impart on our people the value of victimhood and “kawawa” system of communication to elicit action and respect. Our TV and movies glorify violence against women, our children and the have nots. We need to have TV and movies meant to reinforced the righteouness and independence to our people to do the right thing using common sense, community spirit, responsibilties and the law. We need to create in our movies the power of due process and challenge our police and courts to their jobs and dispense justice. Not until we correct and attacked the root source of our value system we cannot move forward and improve our way of life. All these political and religious class are a product of our system. We need to teach our children and our people the value of hard work instead of waiting for help and miracles imparted by our catholic and cultural upbringing. We need teach our children to dream big, be creative and the importance of team and hard work we can progress. We need to educate and trained our college students the great value of organization, leadership and result oriented process to solve real problems in our community instead of robotic memorization which are meaningless ,There is a lot of work to do and we can do it.

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Yes, let’s educate our people. How? Show them that crime doesn’t pay. Has anyone ever dared ask Jinky Soliman her involvement in an NGO which was the recipient of a loan, presumably for the poor, under Gloria ‘s watch. Has anyone ever wondered why she is now entrusted with billions of pesos of borrowed money, again for the poor kuno.

      • kolambogan

        When there’s a cloud of darkness hovering over you, do you put out the candle that offer some light? If you do, I hope and wish you live forever in darkness with your pessimism, you deserve it.

      • Eustaquio Joven

        I showed you how to light a candle, highlighting what tadasolo said. I showed you certain blighted areas that needs some light. Didn’t I? Where’s the pessimism there?

      • kolambogan

        I’m sorry to say you did’nt show me anything, I know how to light my own candle because I want to be out of the dark. Your pessimissm lies in the fact that when you highlighted tadasolo’s comment which is purely educational pertaining to arts, media and entertainment, I sensed your bitter sentiments as you were not able to contain your true feelings infusing and alluding corruption to a name which is not even mentioned by tadasolo,

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Educate our people by showing them that crime does not pay. Isn’t this a way of lighting up a candle? Jinky Soliman is very relevant in this thread because an ngo of which she was linked to was the recipient of a loan that was supposed to be for the poor. As she was a member of KKK, no investigation was made. Instead she was rewarded to head of an agency dispensing billions of pesos worth of borrowed money for a program called (cct). Does this not raise a perception that perhaps crime pays after all? Hindi bale magpalimos kung hindi galing sa utang. At segurado ba tayong walang anomalya dito? Madilim sa lugar na ito. Kailangan ang liwanag.

      • kolambogan

        This is nice tadasolo, I can’t agree with you more.

      • batangpaslit

        nabisto ang mga media moguls at pati ang mga false religious leaders
        chuckles…

  • Fulpol

    using the name of God to make a lot of money… using the Bible to make a lot of money..

    using heaven and hell to make a lot of money… using Armageddon, Rapture to make a lot of money..

    so politicians in the Philippines and corrupt private individuals have asked too: why can’t we use NGO, real or fake to make a lot of money?

    God, religion or humanitarian missions… walang patawad ang mga buwaya.. ang kakapal ng mukha, ang iitim ng budhi..

    • el_latigo

      Kahit sino pang ilagay mo diyan Fulpy magiging corrupt din. The system is inherently corrupt. Tulad ng idol mong si Nognog. Nuong araw aktibista iyan na pa-martsa-martsa pa sa kalsada against dictator Marcos at Mabini lawyer pa siya kuno na tagapagtanggol ng human rights ng mga aktibista. Pero ng iluklok na siya ni Cory bilang mayor ng Makati, nakaw dito nakaw duon ang ginawa kaya ngayon isa na siya sa pinakamayaman sa buong bansa eh wala namang siyang negosyong malaki na maipagmamalaki ito bukod sa pulitika. Malaking raket este, negosyo ang pulitika bukod sa mga kulto tulad ng El Shaddai kakaway-kaway at INC-ng-ina mo, alam mo ba yan Fulpy? At ang pinakakanakatakot pa, malamang siya ang magiging susunod na presidente ng bansang ito pagkatapos ng termino ng idol mong si Pnoy. Ayayayy Fulpy, kawawa talaga ang bansang ito hawak ng mahigpit sa leeg ng mga corrupt.

      • batangpaslit

        chuckles…

  • Fulpol

    Ochoa, Ochoa.. sino ba ang nag-recommend kay Ochoa na maging Executive Secretary??.. ang pagkakaalam ko, galing dati sa Kongreso ang nag-endorse sa kanya..

    clueless ba si BS Aquino-Makapili III kung sino si Ochoa??

    so inilagay ng mga magkakasabwat sa Kongreso etong si Ochoa sa Malacanang para mayroon silang tauhan sa loob at pagtakpan ang kanilang mga gawain, at tuloy tuloy ang ligaya?

    eh ngayon, buking na… anong gagawin nila?? anong gagawin ni BS Aquino-Makapili III?? makapili pa rin??

    CONSPIRACY and SCAMMING to the MAX..

    • Scorpio15

      Magrekomenda ka Fulpol kung ano ang magandang gawin sa mga Buwitre at Buwaya sa Pinas at hindi tanong.

      • Fulpol

        i-install ninyo akong Presidente ng Pilipinas… yan ang solusyon..

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Kumandidato ka muna. Iboboto ka namin.

      • batangpaslit

        hahaha….ayos, ah!

      • batangpaslit

        magandang panukala, ah
        ipalabas mo ang platform of your government para mapagaralan.
        problema, pag na pa circulate mo na, baka gagayahin?
        but the problem is not insoluble.
        to preclude plagiarism, have it copyrighted.
        hahaha…

  • RayP1766

    “Moving on to quite another sphere…” ?

    Not really. It should have read – “…and now moving on to my advertisement for the Holiday Inn, for which I was paid handsomely in cash and kind!”

    Are you really so desperate Rita that you have to dress this up as newsworthy?

    How about declaring who else you accept money and goods from for favorable comment!

    • joe__bloggs

      Yes, she should have declared an interest before that piece on Holiday Inn – was it money or favors?

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