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There’s The Rub

Insults

Franklin Drilon expressed what was pretty much on everyone’s mind when he told Rosario Uriarte in last Wednesday’s hearing on the PCSO: “I’m sorry to say this, but you’re obviously lying.” He might have put it more diplomatically, he might have put it more cleverly, but he couldn’t have put it more effectively. In the face of breath-taking shamelessness, or kakapalan, bluntness was just what the doctor ordered.

But of course Uriarte was lying, barefacedly, in-your-face-ly. There is absolutely no justification for the PCSO getting intelligence funds of the scale it did—P150 million for one year alone. There is absolutely no justification for the PCSO using those funds for the purposes Uriarte says it did, even assuming it were true, which is like assuming Manoling Morato has ever told a truth in his life.

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As Ping Lacson pointed out, the PCSO under Uriarte had more intelligence funds in one year than the AFP does today, and the PCSO had neither training nor capability to carry out intelligence missions. In fact, it had no intelligence at all, only cunning. Just as well, why should the PCSO undertake relief efforts and spend for beleaguered OFWs when there were government agencies for that? You grant the PCSO spent part of its intelligence to rescue OFWs and flood victims, if only for show, it’s still illegal diversion of funds, it’s still plunder. The PCSO had no more right to do that than the Department of Foreign Affairs has a right to build schools in ARMM to assure lasting peace.

It’s not hard to see where the P320 million in intelligence funds the PCSO spent from 2008 to the first half of 2010 went. It went not just to preparing for the elections but to exploring the possibility of Arroyo clinging to power. That possibility died only when Corazon Aquino died in mid-2009, when her death buried Arroyo’s triumphant return from the US and with it all of her hopes to prolong an illegitimate rule. In fact, it wasn’t just the PCSO funds that went into it.

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But all these are reasonable arguments in the face of atrocious behavior. Which makes the reasonability itself unreasonable. Uriarte’s entire intelligence defense insults the intelligence. The only way to meet something like that is to say bluntly, “You’re lying.”

I don’t know though why no senator has said the same thing to Morato. Or better: “I’m not sorry at all to say this, but you’re one fat liar.” This fellow just feels free to say anything he wants. At the Senate last Wednesday, he blurted out that the current PCSO doctored the figures they gave to the COA that showed even bishops using the agency as a milking cow.

Of course PCSO lawyer Aleta Tolentino shot back that those figures were the ones the previous board itself submitted, albeit late. But even if she had the last word, why should Morato be allowed to say those things with impunity? He’s gotten away with that long enough. Someone should remind him that lying before a Senate inquiry is perjury, for which he can, and should, go to jail. The inmates of Muntinlupa or Bilibid might find that prospect cruel and inhuman punishment—for them—but they’ll just have to take it like a man.

I’m glad the current PCSO has gone bravely where others have not gone before. At the very least, that’s so because it’s time someone called their bluff. Prove if, said the old board. Prove it, said Arroyo’s bishops. Prove it, said Arroyo herself. Well, be careful what you pray for, or bluff about. The PCSO has just done it.

At the very most, that’s so because it brings back a sense of proportion to things, it puts the world back on its feet. Corruption remains the central issue. Ending corruption remains the central agenda. Punishing the corrupt remains the central undertaking. There are no paupers where there are no plunderers. There are no deprived where there are no depraved. “Pag walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”

It’s time we rallied to the cause of decency and pushed the dregs of this earth, along with their allies in the yellow press, who befoul the air each time they open their mouths, to the sea.

But while at this, why haven’t the other government offices come up with their own charge sheet against Arroyo and her cabal? Why are they content to let the PCSO go it alone? What are they waiting for?

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At the same time that Margie Juico made her revelations a couple of weeks ago, Butch Abad also revealed that during Arroyo’s last two years alone, the National Food Authority racked up P123 billion in debt to procure rice, much of that due to bukols from overpricing. The entire NFA debt during Erap’s time was only P18 billion. He also revealed that shortly before the elections, Arroyo spent 70 percent of the P2 billion calamity fund on Pampanga. These are sums that make the PCSO scams look like petty larceny. So why hasn’t his office moved to bring Arroyo to heel on this?

Commenting on last Wednesday’s proceedings, Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang would not hesitate to file charges against Arroyo if the Senate hearing would yield substantial evidence to link her to wrongdoing. Fine, but why on earth should Malacañang be dependent on the Senate to find evidence of wrongdoing on Arroyo’s part? Some of them had been railing against that wrongdoing way back when they were holding their congress in the streets, with a view to ending her rule. The wrongdoing ranged from NBN to “Hello Garci,” from piracy to illegitimacy, from theft to murder. Why do they now have to wait for the Senate to show them where to go?

And still while at this, why hasn’t any government office yet filed a case against Morato for appearing in public, quite apart from lying at the core of a board that was corrupt to the core? It doesn’t just insult truth and goodness.

It insults beauty.

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TAGS: Gloria Arroyo, Graft and Corruption, Manuel ‘Manoling’ Morato, Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, plunder, Rosario Uriarte, Senator Franklin Drilon
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