Wednesday, September 26

Of Pinoy Mice and Men

Romulo Neri’s prolonged but marginally credible yet still unfinished testimony before three Senate Committees up to the late afternoon hours today, have more or less led me to the following initial impressions:
  1. Benjamin Abalos’ also tattered REPUTATION may have already been consigned to be ripped and tattered even more as the administration’s designated sacrificial goat, in order to appease the growing national indignation about the “ZTE Broadband Deal”. And so it seems Neri was allowed or was emboldened enough at least to say, almost apologetically in Abalos’ presence, that Abalos offered him a bribe of P200 Million albeit in a vague manner. And thus, with the help of highly paid clever lawyers, it can be plausibly denied later on in our courts of law, allegedly “as unsubstantiated, uncorroborated”!

  2. Also Neri hemmed and hawed but still ended up defending the ZTE Broadband “Project”, (not the contract itself but the “project”!)without offending nor implicating any of his fellow Cabinet members. Thus it would appear that Benjamin Abalos alone would be the only possible fellow guilty of having done anything wrong or illegal. Everybody else, including Leandro Mendoza would be absolved!

  3. Consequently Mr. Neri tried his best to shield President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA) from any serious legal and political danger arising from the convoluted process the ZTE deal was processed and prematurely approved. However, the fact that Mr. Neri supposedly reported the Abalos bribe offer to PGMA (by telephone only!), it now obliges the latter to produce some credible evidence on whatever subsequent investigative action the law and her constitutional duties demand from her under these grave circumstances.
    Such an apparent initial “Damage Control” strategy may just succeed, considering the substantial probability that our leaders of the Church, business, academe and the comfortable middle class may hereafter just go through the motions of registering their collective indignation, but after a few days go back to business as usual. A counter-attack against Joe de Venecia and son et al, could also contribute to confusing the facts and issues even more, leaving the general public bewildered and in due time, bored and cynical, thus leaving our politicians to quarrel among themselves.

But my over-riding impression, nay deepseated dismay, was either how pitifully naïve and incompetent (charitably speaking), or grossly corrupt and greedy (if realistically speaking), our government technocrats and top officials seem to be.

For heaven’s sake, these officials couldn’t even see that a supposed “soft loan” was actually a gigantic swindle because the loan proceeds were mandatorily tied up to the lender’s designated supplier selling us a bill of inappropriate goods and services that were overpriced by as much as 100%!

As early as 40 years ago, ex-CICT Commissioner Ramon Sales, as a junior Systems Engineer with us at IBM Philippines, already knew by rigid company training, practice and common sense, even during those days when knowledge of computers and information technology were limited to very few technically trained people like us, that nobody but nobody allowed anybody to sell to them highly technical and astronomically expensive goods and services without a) detailed descriptions and performance specifications of what the Customer-User wants to buy (and NOT what the supplier wants to sell); b) for what specific purposes supported by detailed technical diagrams required by the Customer’s users; c) a verified and audited price comparison with other independent sources or suppliers, and d) a guarantee whether a bond or pledge that the supplier will deliver as promised.

Absent all these in the face of so many highly paid and supposedly the best and the brightest such as Teves, Favila, Neri, Mendoza, Andaya, Sales, Formoso et al, let’s now all cringe and weep. Yes, dear Philippines, let’s all weep in shame…