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08:12 PM September 8th, 2013

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By: Neal H. Cruz, September 8th, 2013 08:12 PM

To avoid the fight for control of Bonifacio  Global City (BGC) among Makati, Taguig, and Pateros, why not make  BGC an independent unit just like Washington, DC in the United States?

Violent confrontations between Makati and Taguig officials and policemen can only get worse. Do not wait for a shootout to erupt before doing something. An independent BGC is the Solomonic solution. BGC is rich enough and developed enough to stand on its own.

Makati does not need BGC. It is rich enough on its own. Annexing BGC may be too much. Ano sila sinuswerte? (Are they too lucky?)

Making BGC an independent unit may need legislation. But it should not take Congress long to pass one because BGC would not go to any of the contending parties, and there would be no reason for the three parties to contest a bill to that effect.

The executive, legislative and judicial departments should be innovative in solving problems like this.

* * *

The steep rise in the price of rice may not be due to a shortage but due to price manipulation. The government has long known that there is a rice cartel, and I don’t understand why it is not doing anything to dismantle it. The Philippines is a fertile ground for cartels because the government is not intelligent enough to fight them. Besides the rice cartel we have a cement cartel, an oil cartel, a pharmaceutical cartel, a flour cartel and who knows what else. A cartel is a group of companies that band together to control the supply and prices of commodities.

The people giving consumers P500 each to buy rice sold at cheap prices by the National Food Authority (NFA) could be financed by the cartel or by politicians aiming to run for barangay positions next month. If it is the latter, where would they get the money to throw away? A rice cartel, on the other hand, will have plenty of money to invest to make rice prices go even higher, which would mean more profits for its members.

So many people buying NFA rice would make it appear that there is a shortage and panic-buying. If that continues, it would result in a real shortage that would trigger real panic-buying. Then the cartel can increase prices even higher.

A driver who used to work for a rice distributor told me that his employer bought cheap NFA by the truckload, ostensibly to distribute them to retailers. But he brought the NFA rice to a rice miller where the grains were milled again to make them more polished like commercial rice. The distributor would then sell the NFA rice for a much higher price. Very big and easy profit.

Another possibility is that the rice smugglers whose shipments have been seized and sold at public auctions by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) are behind the price manipulation. They probably paid a high price for the rice at the auctions. Now they are getting their investments back by manipulating prices.

The BOC should not have sold the rice at auctions where the smugglers themselves win the biddings. They should have sold it to the NFA. Then NFA would have more rice stocks with which to stabilize prices.

* * *

It is now the auditors who are being grilled by lawmakers at the budget hearings for its special audit that discovered at least four senators and more than a score of congressmen involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. The congressmen are getting even by giving the auditors a difficult time at the hearings. They are capitalizing on the error that included former representative Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora  among the pork barrel-scam congressmen. They are faulting the Commission on Audit (COA) for that even though the Department of Budget and Management has already admitted that this was its fault, not COA’s. The latter based its audits on documents provided them by the DBM and other government agencies.

One partylist congressman even demanded the presence of COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan who is abroad. He also demanded the resignation or dismissal of Tan which may have made him popular with his fellow congressmen but not with the public whose taxes are being stolen in the pork barrel.

And the minority bloc in the Senate, led by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, is now blaming the COA for the pork barrel scam. Enrile and Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Gringo Honasan are the four senators who coursed their pork funds through the bogus NGOs of Janet Lim-Napoles where they disappeared. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the COA should be blamed when it is the senators who signed away their pork funds to JLN’s NGOs.

I am sure a common defense would be “I do not know Janet Lim-Napoles, I never met her,” and that their signatures on official documents were forged.

“Pogi” said he had hired a “handwriting expert” to look at his signatures to find out if they were forgeries. Of course the “expert” he hired would say they were “forged.” He knows on which side his bread is buttered. But what does the photograph on the front page of the Inquirer the other day say? It showed the Revilla couple and the Napoleses smiling ear-to-ear during the wedding early last year of Rep. Roman Romulo and Shalani Soledad, Aquino’s former girlfriend. Janet was one of the wedding sponsors.

Romulo said he was not the one who chose Janet; it was Shalani. But how did Shalani meet her? Uh, hmm. If I were the minority bloc, instead of making lame excuses, I would have an independent auditor audit the pork of her former boyfriend. Where did his pork go? It would be interesting to find out.

The fallout from Lim’s P10-billion (imagine how P10 billion can ease the suffering of our poor countrymen) pork barrel scam is spreading like the poison gas from Syria’s chemical weapons.

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