Thursday, August 05, 2010


Do you remember that stinging pastoral letter by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) entitled "Thou Shalt Not Steal," and how it has come and gone like wafts of perfectly-shaped smoke rings?

Opposition firebrand Homobono 'Bono' Adaza assailed that pastoral letter as mere ningas cogon and challenged church leaders to follow up on the message to give meaning to their avowals to fight graft and corruption in government.

Adaza said the church could institute the following to supply essence and determination to the pastoral letter.

1. Reject Pagcor and Malacanang money said to be regularly flowing to church coffers;
2. Refuse enrolment in Catholic schools to children of known crooked officials and private citizens;
3. Read in all parishes and cause to be published in newspapers names of officials accused or otherwise openly known as crooks and grafters and;
4. Deny church sacraments to such crooks and grafters.

The combative Bono, to whom the Cory regime owes much for its defeat of the Marcos forces but who was later junked for his refusal to be a mere "yes man," volunteered his legal services to church leaders and other persons who could be charged with libel for that proposed public listing of suspected crooked officials.

He also wondered why the late Cardinal Sin did not publicly endorse the pastoral letter. Bono asked if this was because the Pagcor contributions to the church were being sent through the Cardinal's office. He noted that Sin, who had been vociferous in his attacks against gambling casinos even during the Marcos years, suddenly reversed himself when the late President Corazon Aquino took over and justified gambling if done only as entertainment (like mah-jong?). Bono said that justification came coincidental to the start of church contributions from Pagcor.

Bad habits are hard to break, and already we should keep an eye on the movements of Pagcor which contributes millions a month to the President's Social Fund. A lot of sosyalan for P-Noy and his peons there.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Twenty years ago in the time of the late President Corazon Aquino, the Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed the confirmation of then Agrarian Reform Secretary Florencio 'Butch' Abad. Leaders of his own Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino party-list wanted him to swear he would be "fair" in his decisions on land disputes. Read "fair" to mean in favor of landlords and vested interests making a mockery of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), touted as the cornerstone of the Cory administration's supposedly people-oriented platform.

Butch Abad's woes came after he fought a plan backed by powerful politicians in partnership with giant Japanese corporations to convert a huge chunk of agricultural land in Cavite into an industrial estate. He was forced into a situation where he had to swallow his pride and principles and obey the commands of his tormentors or quit in disgust and keep intact his self-respect and conscience. After his mutiliation, no scintilla of doubt lingered anymore about the power of landlords and vested interests in that administration.

These powerful groups did not even turn tail before a strong-willed Miriam Defensor-Santiago. So, no upstart like Butch could scare them even a bit. Even former Representative Lorna Verano-Yap could not do anything to his defense but sulk and pout in one corner. She didn't count with those powerful groups in the executive and the legislative departments.

And then, that deep disappointment over the results of a press conference called by beleaguered Secretary Abad where everybody thought he would resign because of the successful drive by landlords to have his nomination blocked by the CA? Butch announced he would stick it out and work for the approval of his case and that he even ran to Tita Cory to help him with his confirmation.

Abad missed the chance for greatness. If he had resigned as a matter of principle and to keep his self-respect and pride, as many had expected, he would have been one of the very few upright officials of the Cory regime. His much-admired late father who was an exemplary government official would have been proud of him. That was then.

Well, maybe Butch thought he should hang on tough and stay on so that he could serve his people better in government service, especially those poor farmers who had looked up to him as one of their remaining defenders against the landlords and vested interests infesting our institutions.

And then there was also President Cory Aquino's vow to use her "persuasive powers" to push through Abad's nomination in the CA. That was better read as to use her "coercive powers."

President Cory felt she owed Abad so much since she convinced him to give up his elective post as a member of Congress and could not leave him to the vultures to pick on his flesh and bones.

The much-ballyhooed CARP under the Cory regime ended in the gutter.

Today, Butch is back as a cabineteer but not at the Department of Agrarian Reform again but instead at the Department of Budget and Management. His daughter heads the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) while two other members of his family hold influential positions in government. He has learned well and knows that whoever holds the gold (budget) makes the rules.

But methinks they're just like the four Arroyos now in Congress. Just too many of them. This certainly sets a bad precedent and a slap on a presidency calling for "change."