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There’s The Rub

Why haven’t we done that yet?

I’M GLAD Margie Juico has come out to reveal what Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her people did exactly to the PCSO, the one institution tasked with coming to the aid of the poor. That was to come to the aid of themselves and make themselves rich.

What they did exactly was to suck the thing dry with a vacuum cleaner, leaving the agency P4 billion in debt, which is a year’s worth of charity for the poor and sick. “They ran PCSO to the ground.”

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They did that specifically by mixing operational funds and charity funds, a thing expressly forbidden by law and the PCSO mandate. “They entered into million-peso contracts with favored media groups and issued hundreds of guaranteed letters to hospitals.” That resulted in P1 billion in debts to those media groups and P3 billion in obligations to hospitals.

Universally seen as illegitimate, the Arroyo regime resorted to PR to keep itself afloat, which was what those “media groups” were, though doubtless they included practicing journalists—“practicing” only in the formal, and not substantial, sense of the word. They were PR groups. “(Arroyo) appointed a lot of media members on the board, and they brought in a lot of contracts, which is probably why the ad budget shot up.” During Arroyo’s last year alone the ad budget went up to P1.7 billion. Those “media members” have a lot to answer for.

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But, as this shows, the philosophy of the Arroyo government was simple:  “Those who can’t do, boast.” Or hire professional—and expensive—liars to do so.

I’m glad as well that Butch Abad has answered Arroyo’s charge that “nobody’s home” in government, presumably thereby frittering away the economic gains of her rule. What gains? Abad asked. “The people’s gains or her gains?”

In the case of the National Food Authority, its loans skyrocketed from P18 billion when she took over from Erap to P176.8 billion when she left last year. Some P123 billion of that came during the last couple of years of Arroyo’s term, when this country went on a rice-buying binge. Like the NBN project, the rice was overpriced, courtesy of Arroyo’s people whose negotiating skills consisted of driving up prices rather than bringing them down. The kind Romulo Neri despaired of having their greed moderated.

Arroyo herself lavished 70 percent of the P2-billion calamity fund on Pampanga. That is why she is a congressman right now—that position was bought and paid for, with our money.  When she left, she left a staggering P325 billion deficit, the biggest ever left by a leader. That is 3.9 percent of GDP.

I’m glad they’re doing this because, frankly, I can’t understand why government has allowed this vicious bunch, who really ought to be cowering in shame or fear for their lives for what they’ve done to this country, not least massacre a good many of its youth, instead of preening about as though their precious legacy was being wasted, to put it on the defensive. You have to wonder what kind of Communications Group P-Noy has that has been content merely to bristle in indignation at the charges. Jesus, man, these are crooks and murderers. All you want to say when they open their mouths to befoul the air with new lies is, “That’s not true at all”?

Of course, government ought to be criticized too. Of course, there’s truth to “kaibigan, kaklase, kabarilan” too. But at the very least, Arroyo and her people are not in any position to do the criticizing. They have no right. They have earned the right only to do time for their crimes. At the very most, even if it were true that there’s “nobody home” in Malacañang (certainly that can be argued for Communications), it is  infinitely better to have nobody home than to have the Akyat Bahay gang there. Which was what we had over the last decade. I’ll take “nobody home” to “nothing left” anytime.

I’m especially glad in the case of the PCSO that Juico has done this because it explains a good deal of things. I myself have been wondering all this time where the slimy Manoling Morato and his bunch of media hacks are getting the money to pay for spaces in reputable broadsheets and reputable networks to print and air their disreputable tirades. It cannot be a comfort for those who toil to earn their keep in media, and even more so to those who lose their lives to expose corruption in high places, to know that their ranks are harboring, if not indeed being overrun by, creatures who can just lie through their teeth, who are just as corrupt as the people in high places they are railing against.

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But which brings me back to a point I’ve been making all this time. If Arroyo has done this to the PCSO, if Arroyo has done this to the NFA, if Arroyo has done this to the country, then why in hell has government not filed a single charge of corruption against her? Why in hell has government not attempted to seize the ill-gotten wealth of the crooks, which runs into the billions, and which alone should go a long way toward giving more poor and sick more charity, the one thing the beneficiaries of corruption in the PCSO are accusing its current chief of not providing? Why in hell are those same crooks and murderers still free to torment the world with their existence, to act as though nothing has changed, and indeed to prove that truly there’s nobody home in Malacañang by being able to say that with impunity?

All that money gone, all those lives gone, all those years gone, and we just want to punish the criminals with polemics? That is unacceptable. It’s not just enough to put them in their place, it’s time we relocated them to the place they deserve to be. It’s not just enough to cite the amounts they stole, it’s time we gave them numbers to carry on their orange shirts. It’s not just enough to rail against them, it’s time to jail them.

Why haven’t we done that yet?

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TAGS: columns, corruption, featured columns, Gloria Arroyo, manoling morato, Margie juico, Media, opinion, PCSO
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