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08-25-2010, 07:33 PM

Analysts: Philippine leadership wilts under crisis spotlight

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
August 25, 2010 -- Updated 0644 GMT (1444 HKT)

Analysts: Hostage drama first real test of new Philippines president
Police drama shows larger problems of the Southeast Asian nation
Bad communications, poor crowd and media control heightened problems
'Organizational effectiveness shows up most dramatically when dealing with security'

(CNN) -- An isolated incident involving a lone gunman in Manila has turned into an international incident that is proving the first real test of newly elected President Benigno Aquino.

As such, the leadership in Manila suddenly finds itself suddenly in league with multinational corporations like BP and Toyota who watch their credibility erode as missteps are magnified before a global audience.

"Organizational effectiveness shows up most dramatically when dealing with issues related with security," said Dane Chamorro, managing director of Greater China for Control Risks, which advises companies on economics and security issues. "This demonstrated in a very dramatic and tragic small-scale way larger problems that are much more widespread."

As the live broadcast events of Monday slid into tragedy, ire at the outcome shifted quickly from the gunman to the government.

"People were looking to the government to act in a matter that demonstrated competence and professionalism, and that wasn't apparent," said Michael Alan Hamlin, a Manila-based marketing consultant and author of "High Visibility."

Hamlin said there were fundamental errors by police on crowd and media control, which may have helped turn events bloody; witnesses said the gunman, Rolando Mendoza, became agitated after watching police arrest his brother from a television on the bus.

Police waited more than an hour after the first shots before launching their assault on the bus. "There were many times when they could have easily taken him out (before)," Hamlin said.

Basic communication at the scene before the shooting started was not focused on the task at hand -- securing the hostages safe release.

"Various spokesmen were talking about the potential impact (of the incident) on tourism, when obviously the message that need to go out was, `Our first focus and only concern right now is for the hostages,'" Hamlin said.

In the wake of the incident, the Philippines National Police released a statement that included a laundry list of ways police on the ground fell down on the job, including: 1) poor handling of the hostage negotiation; 2) side issues and events that further agitated the hostage-taker; 3) inadequate capability, skills, equipment and planning of the assault team; 4)improper crowd control, and inadequate training and competence of assault team leader; and 5) non-compliance to media relations procedures in hostage situations.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang's complaint that he couldn't get President Aquino on the phone also ratcheted tensions between China and the Philippines.

"It's an isolated incident and I think the government needs to think of a way to make sure that's understood -- that there's not some lawless situation in the Philippines and it's not a terrorist act," Hamlin said. "It involved foreign guests, who made it an international incident -- it wouldn't be resonating around the world right now if it involved only locals."

Still, the incident resonated abroad because so many Philippines nationals live and work abroad -- an estimated 10 percent of the Philippines nearly 100 million population live and work abroad. Watching the incompetence unfold at home underlines why low-skilled laborers are wooed away to Hong Kong to work as domestic helpers, and why high-skilled engineers are lured to Dubai or skilled nurses flock to jobs in the United States, said Chamorro, the risk analyst.

"When they lose their best skilled people, that's a huge obstacle -- they really need these people at home," Chamorro said.

To gain a foothold of credibility with its own populace, the Philippines government should focus on improving basic government services benchmarked against other Southeastern Asian nations.

"For example, in Thailand there is successful mail delivery in three separate languages. Now, there is certainly corruption in Thailand, but the post office works. That is not true in the Philippines," Chamorro said. "Education, policing, mail -- does it seem to be working? If not, there is a gap, and nature will fill that gap with something else."

08-27-2010, 08:36 AM
I cannot understand why this Coloma would insist on fanning the flames of the anger of the Hong Kong people by calling their leader a liar.

Tsang has been publicly saying that he could not reach Aquino during the crisis, and here goes Coloma saying that Tsang is lying.

And to think that this is the same Coloma handling Noynoy's Facebook page, which has been deluged with angry Hong Kong nationals. So he knows how angry those people are, and here he is making accussations.



Palace exec doubts HK chief called Aquino during hostage crisis

By Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: August 26, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Reports that Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang had called President Benigno Aquino III at the height of Monday’s hostage crisis in Manila were “unbelievable” because the President was “accessible all the time,” a communication official of Malacanang said Thursday.

"Di kapanipaniwala yan ’dahil accessible siya sa lahat ng oras [That is unbelievable because the President is accessible all the time],'' Secretary Herminio Coloma, head of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office, told ABS-CBN's program "Umagang Kay Ganda''.

Coloma was reacting to Tsang's reported frantic phone calls to Mr. Aquino last Monday and his complaint that he could not reach the Philippine leader.

“If [Tsang] called the office of the President, his call will be received. Even if the President left the Palace for a short while, he could still be reached because his mobile phones are with his aides,'' Coloma said.

Palace official said that Mr. Aquino was not aware that Tsang had called him but when he learned about it, he called Hong Kong's top official on Tuesday to express his government's deep sorrow for the hostage crisis that ended with the death of eight Hong Kong tourists.

Hostage-taker dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza was also killed in the 11-hour standoff.

©Copyright 2001-2010 INQUIRER.net, An Inquirer Company

Kid Cubao
08-27-2010, 10:15 AM
i'm afraid we're going to have to sit through six years of ineptitude if things don't change.

08-27-2010, 05:46 PM
^I've always told people before the elections that he's not up to the job and as Shortsanitis said "has been mediocre all his life". Now I get the feeling that all he wants now is to listen to his cds, play billiards and go to the firing range and let the people he appointed do the job. No leadership. And what I fear now is everybody will make fun of him and disrespect him.

09-07-2010, 09:53 AM

Noy bloats pork barrel to P1 billion

By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated September 05, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (54)

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has bloated his pork barrel to P1 billion and did not give a single centavo to the National Food Authority (NFA) for rice subsidy in the proposed P1.64- trillion national budget he submitted to the House of Representatives for approval, lawmakers disclosed yesterday.

Mr. Aquino also kept his P500 million in intelligence funds, the proposed budget showed.

Earlier, Malacañang said the President plans to forgo his P500 million in intelligence funds to save on government resources upon the suggestion of some senators.

Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said from P800 million in 2010, the confidential funds of the Office of the President were increased by P200 million or to P1 billion for next year.

She also clarified reports that Mr. Aquino has not cut down his travel budget in the proposed expenditure program, saying what was reduced was the travel allocation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), not his.

“If austerity is the name of the game for this administration, then why is the President’s Contingent Fund being increased from P800 million this year to P1 billion next year? What drove his Excellency to award himself a P200 million increase on his own pork barrel?” Magsaysay told The STAR.

“These are valid questions because the 2011 budget was supposedly assembled using the zero-based budgeting approach, wherein expenses are proposed based on identifiable actual needs,” she said.

Magsaysay said it appears that the “crystal ball of the Palace is working because this early, they are already increasing the contingent fund, which is basically an emergency reserve fund, of the President.”

“They must be blessed with clairvoyant powers to predict a rise in contingent expenses,” she said.

The contingent fund is listed under the Special Purpose Fund of the National Expenditure Program part of the proposed budget submitted by Mr. Aquino last month.

“Only the President can draw from this huge allocation,” an administration lawmaker, who declined to be identified, said.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano also scored the government’s zero-budget for the NFA. NFA was not allocated a single cent in the proposed P32-billion budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for fiscal year 2011, he said.

“Poor farmers relying on government subsidies will be most affected by the Department of Budget and Management’s proposal to remove the P8-billion subsidy for rice procurement for NFA. The fund will be transferred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for rice subsidies to the poor,” Mariano said.

“Without any budgetary allocation, the NFA will entirely lose capacity to buy palay from local farmers,” he said.

“This is what President Noynoy Aquino meant when he directed DA to ‘eliminate middlemen’ between farmers and consumers - elimination of the government’s ‘token intervention’ in buying palay from local rice producers and granting private rice traders an ‘all-access pass’ in the rice trading industry.”

Mariano said “abandoning the NFA” is equivalent to “abandonment of state obligation to ensure that low-priced rice will be available for consumers.”

The disclosures came as lawmakers discovered what they called were “questionable” allocations and dangerous reductions in budgets in key sectors of the economy in the Aquino administration’s proposed national budget.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said he found P15 billion in “questionable” items in the proposed budget inserted in various departments as “Public-Private Partnership Support Fund.”

“These huge amounts for such a vague general item as ‘public-private partnerships’ is dangerous because it is a lump sum amount and we do not know where this will go. As a general rule budgets should not have lump sum amounts as these are not only un-transparent but also sources of corruption,” Colmenares said.

Health, agriculture and environment sectors also suffered hefty cuts that could have serious repercussions for the country’s economy and capability to prevent disasters, lawmakers warned.

Magsaysay said the President made it appear that he was cutting his travel budget because he dislikes traveling abroad.

The reduction in the proposed government travel budget for next year was not prompted by the President’s dislike for travel but by the slash in the travel fund of the Commission on Elections from P203 million to P25 million, she said.

“The Comelec’s travel fund seasonally increases, rising during an election year and plummeting during the couple of years when the country takes a break from elections. That is the main reason why the travel budget for 2011 has been pruned,” she said.

An administration lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the agriculture sector’s allocation was reduced from P89 billion this year to P66 billion for 2011.

The environment sector’s budget was reduced from P14 billion to P13 billion while the funding for water resources development and flood control-critical for the water shortage and flashflood-prone country-was slashed from P18.5 billion to P14.5 billion.

Health’s funding was reduced from P40 billion to P38.6 billion.

Magsaysay said the country cannot afford cuts in these sectors even as she questioned the huge allocation given to the Department of Social Welfare and Development headed by Secretary Dinky Soliman.

The DSWD got a P34.3 billion allocation for next year compared to P15.4 billion this year or a whopping increase of 112.9 percent.

09-08-2010, 10:41 AM
I think that it doesn't matter how many years, but it won't make the death of eight Hong Kong nationals as something to laugh about:



Aquino: We will overcome crisis

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: September 07, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday night said that the country would quickly get past the Aug. 23 bloodbath that killed eight Hong Kong tourists and prompted a global condemnation of his administration’s ineptness in handling the crisis.

“Sandali na lang yan eh malalaktawan na ho natin, talagang tinuturo tayo na mas buo doon sa daan na tuwid,” Mr. Aquino said in a speech he delivered at the wake of former Olongapo City Mayor Teodoro Macapagal, a longtime supporter.

Roughly translated, what he said was that the tragedy would not last very long, that Filipinos would get it over with and the event was simply pointing the nation to the right path, the catch-all of his election campaign.

“Our problems now, in two or three years we can say that they are laughable when we recall that they were not that grave,” Mr. Aquino said in Filipino.

09-08-2010, 02:04 PM
i'm afraid we're going to have to sit through six years of ineptitude if things don't change.

People can be so judgemental on their leaders. I'd rather hope for a change. However, if after one year and he is still on the mediocre level, then yes, I totally agree with you.

As of the moment, most of us are on a wait-and-see mode.

09-08-2010, 02:31 PM
There is only 1 bright light in PNoy's win. The guy in second did not win.

09-08-2010, 03:44 PM
Well, now that Pnoy is President, then I am sure he will now prosecute Villar for all the accusations made during the Presidential campaign.

Because if not ... Then it means Villar didn't really do anything unlawful, now, did he?

09-11-2010, 09:01 AM


FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) Updated September 09, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (132)

He did not have to talk about it at all. But he did.

In what reporters call an “ambush interview”, President Aquino seemed only too ready to chirp about “differences” with his freshly appointed DILG Secretary Jessie Robredo. There were “differences” during the campaign, although the President did not bother to spell these out. The chief executive was allowing two more months to see if their relationship would work out.

That line of questioning by reporters was precipitated by the glaring absence of Robredo’s name from the list of Cabinet officials submitted to the Commission on Appointments (CA) for confirmation. That fact led the classification of Robredo as “acting secretary” as distinguished from an “ad interim” one.

The distinction between an “acting” secretary and an “ad interim” one is truly strange. It is a distinction present in the vocabulary of the Aquino administration alone.

Although that strange distinction was present in the pronouncements of the President’s spokesmen, it has never been formally spelled out. From the looks of it, was an ad hoc differentiation to explain away the fact that some members of the Cabinet were nominated to the CA while others were not.

It is not usual for the President of the Republic to withhold from the CA the names of persons occupying posts subject to congressional confirmation. This recently adopted practice, to be sure, runs against the principles of transparency and accountability that are supposed to be hallmarks of this new dispensation.

Classification as an “acting” secretary of a most vital agency, excluded from the list of nominees up for confirmation, seems to be some sort of official purgatory. Robredo is treated as some sort of trainee where the employer holds no obligation to hire after the trial period. The employer, in this case the President of the Republic, has clipped Robredo’s powers from the start and set no working criteria for determining suitability for the job. If he were an ordinary factory worker applying for a job, the practice would be deemed illegal by labor authorities.

We now know, by way of the post-hostage crisis chatter, that Robredo was not given control of the police even as he was appointed DILG Secretary. By the time he was appointed to his post, powers over the police were given to Undersecretary Rico Puno. There was no formal memo to that effect. The strange arrangement was sealed merely by word of mouth. The public knows about this strange arrangement only by way of testimony in the review of the hostage mess.

Robredo was not even given the courtesy of being briefed about this strange arrangement. Because he knew nothing about it, he proceeded to exercise his powers under the law over the PNP. According to law, only the DILG secretary had the authority to redeploy police officers from one assignment to another.

Because Robredo was not given the courtesy of being briefed about an unusual arrangement, he sparked a war of memos in his department. He insisted on his authority and his underling defied him.

Now it is Robredo, not his influential underling, who is put to public humiliation by way of presidential utterance effectively putting him on probationary status.

There is, consequently, intense public scrutiny of this man Rico Puno.

He was, to be sure, an ardent supporter of candidate Aquino. He is also a gun enthusiast like the President. He is also in the business of selling supplies to the PNP. That smells like conflict of interest there and then. The police officials who were kind enough to procure supplies from Puno’s company are now perceived to have a leg up in the promotions and assignments system. His company must now have undue advantage over others in the PNP procurement system.

When the hostage crisis broke out, Puno was asked to the Palace to “brief” the President. He basically hung out there as the crucial hours and minutes ticked by. Then he went to the MPD headquarters to “monitor” the situation. That basically meant he watched the unfolding events on television — as most of us ordinary citizens did.

In his testimony before the IIRC, Puno admitted he had no background in supervising incidents like this one. He seemed to be saying that as an excuse for correctly laying back and letting the horrible mismanagement of the event roll through.

If diminishing the powers of his post was not enough humiliation, President Aquino, in taking responsibility for the hostage mess, also announced that he was taking direct control over the PNP.

I am not sure what it means for the President of the Republic to “take control” over the PNP. He is, in normal circumstances, presumed to be in full control of the law enforcement agencies. The gesture, probably operationally meaningless, is widely interpreted as a means to shield a buddy from further flak.

That has led to the widely held impression that, in the aftermath of the hostage fiasco, it is the President who takes the bullet for his boys rather than the other way around. That seems to be a convenient maneuver: while the alter egos might be asked to resign over blunders committed, the same may not be asked of the President.

Ironically, in the dreary aftermath, it is Robredo who is being asked to resign as a gesture of taking responsibility for the bungled police operation. The rising clamor for his resignation has forced Robredo to disclose the unusual (and unhealthy) arrangement pertaining in his department where the Secretary has been denied control over the police.

I have great respect for Jessie Robredo. I worked with him, in the period after Edsa Dos, in efforts led by the Pagbabago group to build a new party on the basis of reformist local officials.

But I will agree that he should resign, not for the bungled hostage operation, but entirely out of self-respect.

09-13-2010, 09:37 AM
Inquirer Headlines / Nation

5 more execs linked to ‘jueteng’ payoffs

Cruz irked by Palace response

By Jocelyn Uy, Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: September 13, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Five more officials in the “lower echelons” of the Aquino administration are receiving payoffs from “jueteng,” Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, a crusader against the illegal numbers racket, said Sunday.

Cruz said the other day that two trusted officials of President Benigno Aquino III, in charge of overseeing security matters, were accepting at least P2 million in monthly payola from jueteng operators.

“But [the number] is much more than two,” Cruz told the Inquirer Sunday.

He said a fresh list gathered by his group, Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, showed that at least five more local officials close to Mr. Aquino were receiving bribes from operators of the illegal numbers racket.

Reacting to Cruz’s revelations, Malacañang said it would go after officials found to be on the payroll of jueteng lords.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said there would be “no sacred cows” once Cruz’s allegations were proven.

Asked on government radio dzRB if the Palace would wait for Cruz to prove his allegations or take the initiative, Coloma repeated the President’s text message to the Inquirer the other day.

Mr. Aquino on Saturday said he would investigate Cruz’s claims if “he has the evidence, no matter how little.”


Cruz said his group had yet to validate the amounts the officials were pocketing. “As of today, there are five more names [on our list] but we will also validate this and how much they are getting,” he said over the phone.

Cruz said the latest information came from feeds from members of the Krusadang Bayan on the ground.

Coloma noted that the President also said that those found to be guilty would have to answer for what they did.

Asked whether that meant there would be “no sacred cows,” Coloma agreed, reminding that Mr. Aquino did say he would go after them, “regardless of who they are.”

Cruz could not hide his frustration over the government’s response, particularly that of the executive branch, to his latest disclosures.

Doesn’t Palace know?

The retired Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop asked why Malacañang would have to wait for his group to name names and provide information before it would investigate the matter.

Cruz wondered why the government, which has millions of pesos in intelligence funds and has the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, seemed clueless “on these shenanigans.”

“Kami ni singkong duling wala, pero bakit alam namin? [We don’t have a single centavo but why do we know?]” he asked.

The 75-year-old prelate said Malacañang seemed to be sharing the attitude of the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose allies and relatives had been linked to jueteng.

“They say, ‘Show it, prove it,’ then nothing happens,” the archbishop said.

Big blows

Cruz said his group had already suffered big blows in providing information to the government so it could put a stop to the illegal numbers racket.

“One of us has already been killed,” he said, referring to whistle-blower Wilfredo “Boy” Mayor, who was gunned down in Pasay City in February.

Two days ago, he received a mysterious mail sent to his office at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in Intramuros, Manila. The note, written on a white bond paper, said: “Shut up!”

House probe

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño, a member of the House committee on good government and public accountability, has invited Cruz to air his disclosures in Congress but he has yet to decide on the matter, the archbishop said.

Cruz said he might consider the House of Representatives as a proper venue to reveal the names of the seven government officials supposedly receiving jueteng payola.

“I am still thinking it over but I am not close to any invitation,” he told the Inquirer.

Cruz would be meeting first with the leaders of the Krusadang Bayan on Tuesday to discuss the group’s next step. “I won’t move without collaborating with them because this is not my fight alone,” he said.

Casiño said Cruz’s allegations were serious enough to merit an investigation by Congress.

In a statement, he said the allegations that two of Mr. Aquino’s trusted officials were receiving protection money from jueteng “strongly contradict the Chief Executive’s promise of a clean and honest government.”


A Palace official, who did not want to be quoted for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said he was “disappointed” to hear allegations against other officials of the Aquino administration.

The official pointed out that Mr. Aquino ran for the presidency with the promise of stamping corruption in the bureaucracy. (His campaign slogan was “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”)

“This is a reformist government,” said the official, who admitted that he would feel outraged if the allegations were indeed true. With a report from Michael Lim Ubac

©Copyright 2001-2010 INQUIRER.net, An Inquirer Company



Santiago: Local exec close to Aquino is key to ‘jueteng’ operations

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: September 12, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – A local official close to President Aquino, who ran on a platform of change in the May elections, is the key to the continued operations of “jueteng” in the country, according to a senator.

“I have a particular person in mind whom we all thought was very bright but who ran for a local post because he controls a jueteng operation there,” Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago in an interview on dzBB radio said.

Santiago said she would disclose the identity of this Aquino ally after gathering enough evidence to back up her claim.

“I already talked with somebody who saw [the evidence] directly but this somebody does not want to testify yet,” the senator said.

Santiago said operators of jueteng—an illegal numbers racket—have made a profile of the individuals who belong to the President’s inner circle or of persons he trusts, and have started touching base with them to gain their confidence.

“They (jueteng lords) believe that if the President trusted and loved the company of this people enough, they could provide good protection from prosecution or harassment,” the senator said.

Santiago said members of Mr. Aquino’s inner circle had become easy targets for jueteng lords because they, “after kissing his toes,” were themselves declaring that the President was “OK” or ready to play ball.

The key to controlling jueteng in the country would be to put a leash on the Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG) and the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), she said.

“Even if you get red in the face lecturing about anti-jueteng, if you do not control the interior secretary and the PNP chief, nothing will change from other administrations,” Santiago said.

The senator commended Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s appointment, saying the President should give him a second chance because somebody was holding him back from doing his full job.

Santiago said she did not agree with the decision of Mr. Aquino to remove control of the police from Robredo because this was against the administrative code.

“But if I were in his (Robredo) place, I would have come earlier at the risk of getting the ire of the President,” she said.

Santiago said she commiserated with the President for tapping persons that he trusted in sensitive government positions.

“The presidency is a very lonely job. You do not know who are your allies, enemies, or those who will betray you or just use you. President Aquino is a bachelor. He has no wife and child to share his feelings to,” Santiago said.

But she said that if the President needed to appoint somebody he trusted, he should just appoint them as an assistant or adviser and not as an undersecretary like Rico E. Puno in the DILG.

“He has no experience. He only sells guns to the PNP and now the PNP is under him. Isn’t that conflict of interest?” she said.

©Copyright 2001-2010 INQUIRER.net, An Inquirer Company

09-14-2010, 12:42 PM
A friend of mine told me that Noynoy people seem to be always self-righteous or claim the higher, moral ground in what they do. Not to mention that they are not always right in the first place.

Take Tsang's call for example. Why didn't the MIA Exec. Sec. Ochoa take the call instead, rather than insisting on protocol? Who knows if that was ok with him and if only to know what he had to say?

Take the Supreme Court budget. Were there consultations at least and some kind of compromise discussed before this gets to what is now a judicial revolt? They have yet to learn the art of compromise.

The Robredo brouhaha. When he assumed office he said he will continue the war on jueteng which he won in Naga City. What did Noynoy say? That's not a priority. Seems suspicious now according to Alex Magno.

Even Conrado de Quiros had to ask WHAT WERE THEY THINKING by holding the mock hostage rescue before Pnoy.

And Winnie Monsod had to admit that the Pnoy presidency stumbled, fumbled and bungled from Day One.

09-15-2010, 10:42 AM
"From government anti-poverty programs that instill a dole-out mentality… to well-considered programs that build capacity and create opportunity among the poor and the marginalized in the country."



123% hike in DSWD budget draws flak

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: September 13, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—The two-fold hike in the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has raised eyebrows even among allies of President Benigno Aquino III in the Senate.

Senators Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto and Francis Escudero are questioning the ability and capacity of Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and her department to utilize the P34.3-billion budget for DSWD in 2011, up by 123 percent from P15.4 billion.

Based on the draft 2011 General Appropriations Act prepared by the Department of Budget and Management, the bulk of the DSWD budget has been earmarked for the P29.2-billion Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or “4Ps” initiated under the Arroyo administration. The main cog is the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program which aims to grant a monthly stipend of up to P1,400 to each of 2.3 million identified poor families.

The DSWD will also implement a P2.8-billion feeding program for children, a P4.2-billion rice subsidy program, and an P890-million monthly stipend program for seniors aged 80 and above. Overall, the DSWD, with a staff of 2,500, will be serving at least 15 million Filipinos mostly on a daily basis.

Said Escudero: “DSWD will be a virtual ATM machine. It will have a ‘payroll’ bigger than the national government. The question is: Can it locate, identify, and most important of all, consistently monitor if the beneficiaries are complying with the conditions of the CCT?”

He was worried that the DSWD was getting more food than it could chew by taking over the feeding program from the Department of Education and the rice subsidy program from the National Food Authority.

“What is there in a small agency like the DSWD that it has taken over the functions and tasks of agencies bigger and more experienced than it is?” Escudero said.

Drilon noted that DSWD had “one of the lowest absorptive capacity among departments” and asked why Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. decided to give it more money to spend even though the department’s track record showed its weaknesses in reaching its target.

Both Abad and Soliman are members of the Hyatt 10 group of Cabinet secretaries and executives who resigned en masse in 2005 to signify their loss of confidence in then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Recto, for his part, said the DSWD did not have an efficient monitoring system in place to keep track of disbursements in the CCT program which was raised from P10 billion to P21 billion.

He added that the DSWD had no yardstick to measure the achievements of the CCT which, as a project initiated in the Arroyo administration to put money directly into the pockets of poor families, has not proven to be effective in reaching the parameters set under the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal.

©Copyright 2001-2010 INQUIRER.net, An Inquirer Company

09-22-2010, 10:56 AM
One good thing about the IIRC report is people are now being held accountable. Mayor Lim and Vice Moreno may complain all they want but they did not manage the crisis well. As the report said, the demand of the hostage-taker was not "properly appreciated", i.e. kung pinagaralan man lang ito nila at ni Usec Puno at pinaabot kay Pnoy ay baka natapos kaagad ang crisis rather than tiring him out. At yung hindi paggamit ng elite strike force na available naman. Mr. Mayor bakit ba ang daming fancy lightposts sa mga kalsada at bridges ng Maynila (overpriced daw) eh kung pwede naman yun simple but bright na lightposts? Ma consumo pa sa kuryente. At ang nagastos dito ay pwede na sana nailawan ang kahabaan ng Taft at iba pang madilim na kalsada ng Maynila. At nalagyan pa ng white lines ang mga ito.

Ang maganda pa nangyayari ngayon ay ang mga road contractors ay accountable na rin sa mga palpak na ginagawa nila. Huwag mo silang tantanan DPWH.

At parusahan ang mga gumagawa ng katiwalian.

Maganda rin ang ginagawa ng MMDA ngayon. Daming pasaway kasi. Mga drivers. Litterbugs. Vendors (pero ihanap sila ng puwesto at magbayad din ng konting arkila).

09-24-2010, 07:53 PM

Tonyboy admits talking to jueteng whistleblower but not on Noynoy's orders


Article posted September 24, 2010 - 11:09 AM

Businessman Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco admitted talking to jueteng whistleblower, retired bishop Oscar Cruz, but denied doing so on the order of his second cousin, President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Cojuangco, Aquino's biggest campaign contributor, also denied that he asked Cruz to go easy on Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, the President's shooting buddy, who was implicated in the jueteng scandal.

Cruz, who faced the Senate blue ribbon committee on Tuesday, bared a list of names that included Puno and retired Philippine National Police Chief Jesus Verzosa.

The other names Cruz cited were:
• Governor Baby Pineda of Pampanga;
• Paul Dy of Isabela;
• Retired general Eugene Martin of Baguio City;
• Mayor Mauricio Domogan of Baguio City;
• Danny Soriano of Cagayan;
• a certain retired "General Padilla" operating in Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, and San Pedro;
• Governor Amado Espino in Pangasinan, and
• Boy Jalandoni of Bacolod.

According to GMA News' Sandra Aguinaldo, Cojuangco said he talked to Cruz for only around 10 minutes to talk about the names on the bishop's list of alleged jueteng payola recipients.

"The only names I recognized were that of Usec. Puno and Gen. Versoza. I expressed disbelief that the names were mentioned because I said they themselves told me that they are out to stamp out jueteng," he said in an ambush interview with reporters.

"So I said 'bishop are you sure of this? Do you have evidence for coming up with this list?' And he said 'wala akong hard evidence.' So I think the media, because there’s no hard evidence and it's been admitted by the bishop in hearings, should stop talking about the list," Cojuangco said.

Cojuangco, chairman and president of Mantrade Development Corp., is in the United States as part of Aquino's business delegation.

Cojuangco said he talked to the bishop out of his own initiative. "Everybody has to help the government do its function and this is my way of helping. I don’t think the help that we give the president should end with the campaign. I think we should continue in our own little way to help his admin," he said.

He added, "I have not spoken to the president at all. There’s no reason I should speak to him if the list is unsubstantiated."

Cojuangco, who grew irritated during the interview, said the media should just focus on the president's purpose for coming to the United States, which was mainly to secure investments that would generate jobs for Filipinos.

During the Senate hearing on jueteng last Tuesday, Cruz said Cojuangco hinted that he should "take it easy" on Puno, a close friend of the president.

"Wala ako sinabi, di ako nangako na susundin ko siya (I did not say anything, I did not promise that I would follow him)," the bishop said earlier.

Puno admitted during the hearing that he and Cojuangco were friends but that they haven't talked in a while. "My knowledge on jueteng is based on the intelligence report of the Philippine National Police," he said.

Puno said he would resign once Aquino returns to Manila next week because of the controversies he is embroiled in — the jueteng scandal and the mishandling of the August 23 hostage crisis wherein eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.

As undersecretary for peace and order, Puno is in charge of the Philippine National Police which is accused of mishandling the situation.

Aquino said Puno would have to undergo due process before he decides whether to accept Puno's resignation.
All Rights Reserved. 2006 © GMA Network Inc.

09-24-2010, 08:18 PM

Aquino Lunch At Hotdog Stand A Publicity Gimmick, Period

September 24th, 2010 by bp

What the hell is Presidential Spoksperson Edwin Lacierda talking about? In today’s press conference in Malacanang, Lacierda rejected observations that President Noynoy Aquino’s lunch at a hotdog stand in New York was a publicity gimmick.

Ows? Of course it was a publicity stunt. The signs are all there — It was announced well ahead of the actual event. It was covered by his official camera crew and by the media. It was done publicly. It was done even though it was not necessary at all.

And Of course, this whole publicity effort would not have taken off if not for the complicity of the media. Here’s part of a report from inquirer.net.

Aquino party feasts on hotdogs in NY street, pays $54

By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:39:00 09/24/2010

NEW YORK—It wasn’t every day that a head of state would meet with Henry Kissinger and then step out to eat at a hotdog stand, while Secret Service agents blurt out, “Step aside, step aside.”

In a jampacked schedule that included meetings with World Bank president Robert Zoellick; Kissinger, a former US Secretary of State; newspaper editors and the RP-US Business Council, President Benigno Aquino III also took time to receive the Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, a top US Catholic school in this city.

Twenty-four years ago, the college that conferred its highest honor on the mother bestowed the same recognition on the son on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

The packed schedule did not prevent Mr. Aquino from grabbing a hotdog for lunch at a corner stand near Sofitel Hotel, where he is staying.

The presidential party paid $54 (about P2,400) for the sandwiches that Mr. Aquino and his group ate—a sharp contrast to the million-peso dinner his predecessor, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and her entourage had during a visit to New York last year.

Was it really necessary to highlight how simple Aquino’s lunch was compared to that infamous steak dinner of former President Gloria Arroyo and her entourage? Aren’t news reporters and writers supposed to measure the value of a story with the simple question, “So What?”

And as if that piece of idiotic information about the President’s lunch was not enough, some news outfits even reported that Aquino got his tongue burned while enjoying his hotdog. They even used that info in the title of their reports. Again I ask, so what?

I have been trying hard to resist the urge to criticize Aquino because I honestly feel he should be given a chance. But how can one ignore the fact that this administration continues to operate in campaign-mode? Instead of focusing on real solutions to this country’s very real problems, this administration is wasting its time on publicity gimmicks. Shouldn’t that be enough reason for anyone who truly cares about this country to rise up in indignation and demand that Aquino start working more on national concerns instead of the public’s perception of him.

Well, okay, let’s acknowledge the possibility that all these PR gimmicks are the handiwork of his handlers. Now If this is indeed the case then perhaps Aquino should seriously consider getting rid of these people. They won’t be much of a loss to his administration anyway since they’re either amateurs or — as in the case of the one Aquino fondly calls “Prophet” — has beens.

C’mon Mr. President, the campaign season is over. Start acting like the President and not like some candidate or showbiz personality.

09-26-2010, 12:34 AM

PR gimik.

What's next? Adidas (paa ng manok) sa Payatas?

I doubt. :D

09-27-2010, 10:24 AM
Nagcomment pa nga eh, di ba? Wala daw food coloring an hotdog sa U.S.

That comment speaks for itself, it shouldn't have been said. Parang binaba niya pa ang sarili niyang bansa.

Mahina talagang mag-isip.

10-09-2010, 06:27 PM
I just find it ironic that the previous Administration was crucified for the Pork Barrel issue. Now that Mr. Aquino has assumed office, not only has he not abolished Pork Barrel, he even doubled it.



‘Pork’ in budget doubled

From P70M, 278 solons can get as much as P145M

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: October 09, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—There will be more, not less, pork barrel funds for congressmen under the proposed P1.645-trillion National Budget for 2011.

From P70 million for each of the 278 congressmen, the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has in effect been increased to as much as P145 million for next year alone, a number of lawmakers confirmed Friday.

In a closed-door, all-party caucus Friday, the House leadership decided to give each representative an additional P50 million to be taken from the lump sum funds of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as contained in its proposed budget of P90.9 billion.

All congressmen except for party-list representatives will also get as much as P25 million each as their share of the Road User’s Tax, which is collected annually from owners of private and public vehicles as a motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC).

“I am shocked that the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) has agreed to give all district representatives an additional P50 million each from the DPWH lump sum funds, as admitted by the House leadership to the media this (Friday) afternoon,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said in an interview.

The P50 million is on top of the existing pork barrel funds, according to the third-term party-list representative.

And there’s more.

“According to plan … there is another P25 million [for district congressmen to be taken] from the Road User’s Tax,” said Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, who described the move of the ruling Liberal Party as “outrageous.”

There was no immediate comment from Malacañang.

Reached by phone, Abigail Valte, President Benigno Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, told the Inquirer: “I will have to confirm first with [Public Works] Secretary [Rogelio] Singson then I’ll get back to you.”

Edwin Lacierda, Mr. Aquino’s spokesperson, and Herminio Coloma, co-head of the Palace Communications Group, did not return calls from the Inquirer.

‘Preferred pork’

“Is this the price Malacañang is willing to pay to ensure the smooth approval of its preferred pork—the conditional cash transfer (CCT)?” Casiño said, referring to the government’s antipoverty program—first started by the Arroyo administration—which provides cash grants to extremely poor households.

He said Mr. Aquino’s vaunted “straight path” had veered on the way to Congress: “Biglang lumiko ang tuwid na daan pagdating sa Kongreso.”

The P21-billion CCT is part of the government’s P29-billion Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Lawmakers have protested this huge lump sum in Mr. Aquino’s first-ever budget, saying it should be put to better use, such as the mandatory child nutrition program in public elementary schools and barangay health centers, and the capital outlay for state colleges and universities.

Favored 40?

Sought for comment, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II confirmed the additional P50-million infrastructure budget for congressional districts.

But he said: “Only those whose districts (about 40) received public works appropriations from the DPWH will [receive] additional DPWH projects to make sure that all districts will be recipients of [such] projects of at least P50 million [each].”

He explained that the P50 million was the floor amount for public works projects, such as roads and bridges, for each district.

Gonzales, a party mate of Mr. Aquino, denied Casiño’s insinuation that the additional infrastructure budget going to congressional districts was intended to placate administration allies unhappy with their current share of the budgetary pie.

“It has nothing to do with CCT. It was just to answer the concern of district representatives who feel that their constituents deserve to be recipients of DPWH projects. It’s not true that all will be given [additional public works funds], only about 40,” Gonzales said.

According to Gonzales, a lawmaker, whose district has an allocation from the DPWH lower than P50 million will get additional funding.

“It’s an insult to all members who attended the caucus, including the minority, to even suggest that there was a quid pro quo arrangement,” he said.

No more pork for NGOs

Emerging from the caucus, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. confirmed the new arrangement with the DPWH.

“The NEP (National Expenditure Program), if you study it, also indicates certain amounts to be spent by the DPWH in the various districts, and it was observed that some districts were really going to get a big amount of money because there are major projects there. I think there is no politics intended here,” he said.

Before reporters could ask about the supposed P50-million ceiling, Belmonte said the amount was “the minimum” to be given.

In exchange, House members agreed not to channel their PDAF to nongovernment organizations and foundations—a practice difficult to audit.

The DBM has also relaxed the rules on PDAF disbursements, allowing congressmen to tap local government units as their conduits for their pet projects, and has increased the “menu” of projects or programs that can be funded.

“We called this all-party caucus … to let everybody know the basic agreement [reached in a previous meeting with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad], and also to assure everybody that it’s still the hallmark of this leadership to treat everybody fairly,” Belmonte said.

‘Pork barrel inflation’

Bello decried what he called the “pork barrel inflation” in Congress.

He said Akbayan had been championing the reduction, if not abolition, of pork barrel funds, and wondered why the new administration was even increasing the allocations under the proposed 2011 budget.

“My view is … congressional insertions are now getting legitimized and institutionalized in these allocations,” he said.

Bello called the attention of congressional leaders to the almost P500 billion in lump sum funds in the 2011 budget.

He pointed out that the amount would be controlled by the executive branch. “But the executive wants to pacify the Congress people by increasing their control through these allocations,” he added, referring to the move of Visayas and Mindanao representatives on Wednesday to derail the passage of the national budget on grounds of unequal budgetary allocations.

“The biggest problem is the lump sum authorized funds [in the national budget],” Bello said, pointing out that congressmen had demanded greater control over these funds proposed by the executive.

Thus, the additional pork barrel is being used as a “rationale,” he said.

Bello warned that this “will be the same case as the many other projects in the past laced with corruption.”

“[It’s] making congressional offices more corrupt. We really have to make a stand on this issue. It’s very important that we in Akbayan and similar-minded party-list groups oppose this move to increase [the pork barrel],” he said.

‘Fair share’

But in a separate interview, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the assurance that every congressional district would be given equal allotment under the DPWH budget was commendable.

Evardone cited the case of Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo whose district was given only a P1-million allocation under the proposed DPWH budget.

Under the deal struck by the House, DPWH and DBM, Quimbo can ask for P49 million more, Evardone said.

Evardone clarified that only those whose districts fell below the P50-million ceiling would be given an additional P50 million.

This prompted Casiño to quip in a separate interview: “So that means everyone will get a P50-million share at the end of the day. Everybody is happy.”

On the Road User’s Tax, Evardone said the Road Board, which is in charge of the MVUC fund, had P10 billion in collections as of June-July 2010.

“We got the assurance that we can get at least P15 million each. In principle, the secretary [of DPWH] agreed,” Evardone said. With a report from Christian Esguerra

©Copyright 2001-2010 INQUIRER.net, An Inquirer Company

10-22-2010, 12:59 PM
Trabaho naman diyan. Puro ka showbiz. ::)

10-23-2010, 11:26 AM

Standard for one but not for all


Ninez Cacho-Olivares


With suggestions that presidential aunt in law Tingting Cojuangco should replace Peace Adviser Teresita Deles, who has been called by many members of the House of Representatives to resign due to her arrogance and condescending and superior attitude toward the congressmen in replying to questions during her budget hearing, the presidential spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, invoked the anti-nepotism rule in thumbing down the suggestion, saying that it would be impossible for Aquino to heed the solons’ advice and sack Deles to make room for his aunt-in-law because of the existing provision in the Constitution that forbids any sitting President from appointing his or her relatives to national offices.

“It’s against the Constitution. She is within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity with the President and therefore you cannot appoint her to a position. It’s against the Constitution and Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong maybe was not aware of the constitutional prohibition on relatives in government,” Lacierda said, also condescendingly.

Lacierda however, failed to satisfactorily explain why Tingting Cojuangco continues to hold on to her position as president of the board of trustees in the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC), an umbrella organization under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), while her husband, Peping, is still at the helm of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Lacierda claimed that this is a different matter, with nothing irregular in the fact that Noynoy’s aunt and uncle continue to hold on to their current positions in the government because, he claimed, it was not Aquino who appointed them at PPSC and POC.

“If I am not mistaken, they (Tingting and Peping) were appointed by the previous dispensation and therefore, the appointing power was not their relative, President Aquino. There is no violation of the Constitution,” the Palace spokesman said in a text message circulated to Palace reporters late in the afternoon.

Asked if Aquino would be seeking their courtesy resignations out of delicadeza, Lacierda said they still have to check first if his aunt and uncle were not given fixed terms when they were appointed by the previous administration in the respective government agencies concerned.

This is puzzling, to say the least. There was Noynoy, firing so many of the Gloria appointees, whether of the so-called midnight appointees variety or even those who are not, as they had earlier worked for the Arroyo administration, but in the case of his relatives, specifically Tingting and Peping, he, through his spokesman, falls back on the nepotism issue and even justify their continued stay in their posts as their having been appointed by the previous Malacañang tenant.

But weren’t all of those Gloria appointees who were clearly co-terminus with her, told to quit?

There is doubt that the positions of DILG undersecretary and board member of the PPSC and the post of head of the POC have a tenure. But then again, even those who have tenures and were appointed by Gloria were also asked to resign. So why are Noynoy’s relatives spared, and their continued hold on their positions even being justified by Malacañang?

This is not to say that they should be eased out or to stay put. This is more to state that there is much too much by way of the presidential evasion on issues and going to the extent of justifying certain positions but at the same time, using another explanation and justification to ease out others that the Noynoy presidency dislikes, by virtue of their having served under the Gloria administration.

And to think, in the case of the blanket firing of so many government officers and officials, numbering close to 1,000, Noynoy to this day, over a hundred days in office, has not had ready replacements, with his appointments coming in very few and far between.

So what’s so great about having the power to fire and appoint? Being heady with power and position?

10-23-2010, 12:38 PM
Your anti P-noy stance is gettingto be irritating. What's it with you?

I'm not satisfied myself with his performance but give it a break. Enough, this thead has long been ignored.

10-23-2010, 01:19 PM
You're welcome to post other articles about Noynoy's Presidency here too in this thread, chiqui34.

10-31-2010, 08:17 AM
So wala nang anti-Noy POV?

To all the Aquino Supporters, what are we really expecting from this Presidency?

Si FVR may Philippines 2000.
Si Gloria may 2020...First World by 2020.

Si Aquino? Bakit hindi niya ituloy ang flagship program ni mama, Agrarian Reform.

10-31-2010, 08:59 AM
At the end of his term, we will discuss again. You have been told not to expect anything from this government. Not from any government.

We must try to survive and flourish DESPITE government.

11-04-2010, 09:49 AM
Constructive Criticism: I have severe doubts whether a man with such a mediocre background as Noynoy can become an effective leader, but since 'nandyan na yan', then 'kahit suntok sa buwan,' we might as well try.

First, Noynoy has to learn to monitor effectively his people, and what the goals he has set them out to get. A good leader, is one who knows what is happening, and rallies his troops if needed to keep pushing for the goals. Its not an easy task, the best ones do it by instinct, and experience.

That's why I was disappointed when he ended up doing away with regular Cabinet meetings, and preferred one-on-one sessions 'kuno'. Meetings are different, as each person is put on the limelight, and is forced to do his or her best out front. It keeps them on their toes to drive harder.

It also stimulates hopefully healthy competition between the different departments, as they will see which ones are doing well, and which ones are not.

11-27-2010, 10:01 AM

Boy Abunda's partner gets plum post at PAGCOR

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at 11/19/2010 9:17 PM | Updated as of 11/20/2010 1:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines - For about 4 months now, Bong Quintana, life partner and former business associate of Kris Aquino's best friend, TV host-manager Boy Abunda, has been serving as assistant vice-president for entertainment of state-owned gaming firm, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Abunda, along with PAGCOR Assistant Vice-President for Corporate Communications Maricar Bautista separately confirmed this with ABS-CBN News on Friday.

Both said Quintana has been working as stage director for PAGCOR's stage shows even under the previous Arroyo administration.

Bautista said Quintana started in 2007 as stage director, before quitting in January this year, only to be re-hired by the gaming firm in July under the Aquino administration.

Conflict of interest?

But PAGCOR management said it hired Quintana and gave him the high post since his shows boosted casino revenues during his time with them. Competent, hardworking and honest were the words PAGCOR management used to heap praises on them.

Reached by text message as he is currently on official business trip in the US, PAGCOR Chief Executive Officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said it was Quintana's competence that got him the job and not connections.

PAGCOR quickly refuted questions that Abunda or Kris lobbied for Quintana's appointment. Quintana is an appointee of Naguiat, and not a direct appointee of President Aquino.

Bautista said: "It wasn't considered. We saw the competence and yung qualification of Mr. Quintana. He's qualified. Nakikita naman sa resulta ngayon, even mga sinasabi ng branch managers."

When asked if the connections helped, Bautista said, "I don't think so. People may think that way. Kasi siyempre mag-susuffer naman kungdi kikita. [There was] No instance he ever intervened or nilakad or anuman."

[b]Producing results

Naguiat also dismissed questions regarding conflict of interest.

Quintana was a former vice-president and partner of Abunda's entertainment talent management agency, Backroom.

As PAGCOR'S assistant vice-president (AVP) for entertainment, Quintana oversees shows in the casinos where entertainment talents, including those from Backroom, may be hired.

"Yes, it's true he's with PAGCOR and doing a very good job. Conflict of interest? He's producing all the results and increasing customer attendance, who cares about conflict of interest?" Naguiat said.

Bautista could not readily supply ABS-CBN with figures of how much casino revenues grew since Quintana started overseeing their shows.

"He was appointed only in mid-July. When he headed entertainment, there was a remarkable increase in the number of attendees and walk-ins. Dahil sa entertainment programs na pinapakete o hinahanda sa mga branches. We have 13 casino branches, sila humihiling [na] siya [Quintana] magbigay ng entertainment program para sa igaganda ng entertainment sa casino. Pang hatak din iyan, nasisiyahan din naman ang players," she said.

Divested from Backroom, discounted talents

However, Bautista assured ABS-CBN that Quintana has divested from Backroom, and gives no preferential treatment to Backroom talents. Quintana was vice-president for projects at Backroom.

Bautista indicated to ABS-CBN that if at all, it's PAGCOR that gets preferential treatment from Backroom because Quintana's former relationship with the agency helps them get Backroom talents at cheaper professional rates.

"Nag-divest na si Mr. Quintana ng kaniyang interes sa Backroom. He was even hesitant to allow talents ng Backroom na mag-show kasi nga baka lumabas yang issue. Pero mismong branch mangers, humihingi, the likes of Erik Santos, Sitti," Bautista said.

"And, in fact, mas napababa, nakatipid pa kami kasi rates na dating binibigay, [may] 40-50% [discount on] talent fees. Malaking tulong pa. As I've said, attendance has improved," she said.

Bautista stressed PAGCOR has not been an exclusive market for Backroom talents, naming some artists who have performed in the gaming firm's shows. "Yung ibang talents, Allan K, Teri Honor, Hajji and Rachel Alejandro, Bayani Agbayani, Cueshe, Rico J. Puno, Dulce. Just recently, Pilita Corrales."

Abunda said PAGCOR has been hiring Backroom talents even before Quintana joined PAGCOR. He said PAGCOR gets their talents now at a discount.

He explained: "In the past, si Erik Santos binayaran P175,000. November 5, a few weeks nag perform. Dahil si Bong ang kumuha, binayad sa kaniya P85,000. K Brosas was paid P120-125,000 for a full show. Recently, K performed dahil kay Bong, P60,000 (na lang). Kung pag uusapan preferential treatment, ako ata ang nagbibigay. Nagkataon din malaki ang tulong ng PAGCOR sa maraming singers. Hindi ko merkado PAGCOR. Minamanage ko [si] Kris Aquino na hindi kaya ng PAGCOR ang budget…I can live without PAGCOR."

PAGCOR is perceived to be a cash cow for government, and reputed to be a favorite target of previous administrations and perceived cronies.

No connections used

Abunda, however, conceded he had his own reservations about Quintana, his partner of over 20 years, joining government formally.

"Ano ang aking ginawa nung pumasok si Bong? Sabi ko, inuunahan ko kasi ako walang nilabag na batas, walang conflict of interest. Sabi ko, Bong magbibigay lang ako ng talent pag may written request from a branch manager. I want it very clear: I don't want to be suspect of benefitting from your position… Wala kaming conflict of interest, kumikilos kami ng maayos," he said.

Unofficially known as the 5th Aquino sister, Abunda maintains he didn't use his connections or closeness to the First Family to get Quintana the job. He also dispelled notions he has become an all-powerful figure under the Aquino administration.

"I'd like to defend my position. I will not deny my relationship with the First Family. Mas maingat ako sa kilos ngayon, lalo na kay Kris. Hindi ko ipapahiya si Kris, ang aking kapatid na si Kris, ang mga kapatid from Kris to Pinky. I'm more careful...Kung ako intersado sa government post, noon pa lang… I'm not powerful in government, I have no voice in government, I know my place. Alam ko ang aking lugar, Doon lamang ako, hindi ako magmamayabang dito sa [ABS-CBN] network. I am okay, I'm happy, treated very well, I'm on top of my game ….I don't have any powers at all. I'm powerless."

Qualified and hardworking

Abunda vouches for his partner's competence and integrity. "Si Bong ay inappoint ng chair ng PAGCOR. Without having to say I'm defending [him],he is qualified for the job. Very hardworking, 12-14 hours in the office. He lives there. Marami siyang nabago sa PAGCOR, buong puso at buhay niya, binigay sa trabaho, hindi ako."

Abunda recalls Quintana shortened his current US trip to a casino conference in Las Vegas, choosing to save money by showing up only on days he was needed. He flew economy class, which Abunda, from his own pocket, upgraded. "Mas mabuting tao si Bong kaysa akin. Kaya nasasaktan ako ng konti, he's very honest."

Abunda said that in Backroom, Quintana's loss is harder for them, yet as a partner, he understood Quintana's decision. "Katulad ng sinabi ko, mas kailangan ko si Bong sa opisina. I do shows for ABS-CBN, pinag uusapan naming [ang] laking kawalan sa opisina si Bong. Bakit siya pumunta? May guess ako: it's self-worth.

"He worked for PAL [Philippine Airlines], but after PAL, he's been working for me. Siguro, feeling ni Bong, I don't wanna work for you, I wanna fly on my own. Yun ang ilan sa mga kadahilanan. Nag umpisa si Bong over 3 months ago, wala pang natatanggap si Bong na sweldo," he said.

Abunda, however, thinks Quintana's reforms in his new office may have gotten him some enemies.

"Why are we even talking about this? This is not a Cabinet post. Why is this case of imagined nepotism? Why is this an issue of alleged conflict of interest? Meron bang mga taong nasasagasaan dahil maayos magtrabaho si Bong? May mga nakaugalian ba na trabaho na nagaganap nung wala pa si Bong kaya ito'y pinag uusapan?"

Nothing wrong if no favors

The Ateneo School of Government Dean Antonio La Viña also doesn't think there is anything wrong with Quintana's position now, despite the connections to the First Family. However, he urged the public to be vigilant to make sure the position Is not abused.

"Conflict of interest is when he makes decisions. [An] Appointment is not the conflict of interest. It's when he favors his former company. Nothing improper in appointing a friend if friend is qualified…For me, it’s really about how the person behaves, whether he will use his position to benefit his friends or former company, that's the real issue."

Edna Co, dean of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), said that while there is nothing illegal about the appointment, Quintana should have declined out of delicadeza.