Game of Thrones – Philippines

SCRUPULOUSLY  MR. CLEAN  and heir to a legacy of the heroism of parents Cory and Ninoy, former president Noynoy Aquino brought the Philippine economy to heights of impressive economic growth. Though the growth was not inclusive, he somehow also raised the bar of non-corrupt governance, as far as the presidency went.

It was, therefore, a shock when the Ombudsman he appointed -Conchita Carpio Morales Thursday indicted the president for “usurpation of authority and graft” for engineering the “Oplan Exodus” anti-terrorism operation in Mamasapano -using a suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima to head the execution.

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It is a criminal charge and refers to a conspiracy between the president, the suspended chief cop, and a subordinate cop. Aquino, however,  was exonerated on charges of technical malversation of the DAP (Development Acceleration Plan) -which was earlier declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. For this-  Aquino’s former DBM chief Butch Abad of Batanes is the principal charged.

Thus, another page has been turned in the “Game of Thrones” -Philippine style- where Aquino is now the fourth president of the republic to have faced criminal charges.

His predecessor – former president Gloria M.Arroyo was stopped before departing at the Manila airport for abroad and faced plunder charges for her alleged “getting material gain” from the usage of the P366-M intelligence fund of the PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office).

GMA was under “hospital arrest” at the Veterans Memorial Hospital since 2012 and suffered six years (inclusive) of detention. But in a vote of 11-4, the Supreme Court in 2016 acquitted GMA for “lack of evidence”. She now sits as a Pampanga representative in Congress. 

GMA served as vice president of Joseph Estrada who was ousted by a popular revolt called EDSA II by people power and a cabinet who deserted him. After a six year trial, Estrada was convicted to life imprisonment for allegedly receiving bribes and kickbacks worth US$81-M (about P4-B in today’s exchange rate) in 2007.

In the Philippines, graft involving above P50-M invokes a life imprisonment term which Estrada largely spent in his Tanay Rizal breezy mountain rest house. He also forfeited a mansion and US$16-M in cash.

In the same year of conviction, his successor Arroyo , however, granted Estrada a presidential pardon and set him free. Erap is now a reelected Manila city mayor.

Estrada was preceded by presidents Fidel V. Ramos, endorsed by the nation’s first woman president through People Power EDSA I.

Before the two- was the dictator president Ferdinand Marcos -who ruled as a strongman and issued power messages by edict from 1972-1986. He died in exile in Hawaii. 

He has been accused of big-time stealing (US$10-B) and savage violation of human rights ( 10,000 victims). The Switzerland Supreme Court in December 1991 ruled that Marcos’ P10-B cash and certificates were to be forfeited in favor of the Filipino human rights victims.  In April of 1992, the Honolulu Court also ruled similarly and accosted US$2-M  of Marcos’ wealth to pay for damages.

In the Philippines, various Philippine courts through the PCGG (Presidential Commission for Good Government was able to win back P200-B worth of illegally acquired assets beneficially owned by the Marcoses through his cronies. 

In all these cases, they are considered as proof positive that wealth illegally acquired and human rights violated – both happened here in the dark days of the Marcos regime.  

Our democratic ways in the country have ensured that cases filed against the “throne-dwellers” of the palace are done through our law courts.  In other countries, shamed leaders often take the knife literally and end their lives. 

However, one European fascist Italian president named Benito Mussolini was not as lucky, either. On April 25, 1945, Mussolini was arrested by an angry crowd and brought near the shores of a Lake Cumo. He was reportedly shot many times. 

His corpse was later mutilated, kicked and spat upon by enraged Italians and his mortal remains hanged by the tree upside down. 

In the Philippines, the matter of dragging presidents to the courts for criminal offenses -started with the deposed president Ferdinand Marcos. 

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

“HELLO DARKNESS, OUR OLD FRIEND”

Is the beginning of the smash hit song of Simon and Garfunkel called “The Sound of Silence”. Without being facetious, this is where Bohol is today.

It is in a “state of calamity” because the 80-megawatt power peak demand is largely unserviced. Until the Iloilo and Davao power barges arrive and the Leyte source solved, many of us will remain in the Dark Ages. Worse, not all water pumping stations have standby generators which in itself is a mortal sin in utility management. No power, no water?

Bohol is tired of band-aid, stop-gap solutions.Give us the lowdown, Joe. We need long-term redemption, not palliatives. Reality checks, not just cocksure optimism. Is anyone really seriously creating a matrix and comparing the “doables” among our possible sources of energy – renewables or not?

There is that prefabricated ship docked offshore Bohol with a power generator run by oil. That is earthquake-proof, we imagine.  Except for the transmission. There are rivers: Loboc, Inabanga, Moalong, Wahig, Bilibili Spring, Tagbuoang and Wahig-Inabanga.

From them, a “run-of-the river” power generation scheme, though not large-scale- has been done. Unlike the falls which rely on impact due to gravitational pull, the energy for “run-of the -river”  merely relies on the strength of the flow of the river waters. It’s also the least expensive to develop and maintain.

There is that plan to create a massive dam for irrigation, with elevations high enough to use its water overflow into the equivalent of a waterfall -creating hydropower. Wind power is big in Ilocos Norte of the Marcoses- where a slew of windmills along the beach catches the enormous wind power coming from the West Philippine Sea to convert to electricity. On the side, it has become one of Ilocos’ main tourist attractions.

Kinetic wind power is converted to mechanical power that spurs the engines to generate electricity. Has anyone, in heaven’s name, gone to Ilocos and check the specs needed to run such a wind system here and in what area?

The solar technology is fast becoming inexpensive over time and by specific locations, it can service the power gap in its own modest way. We just saw the successful solar power experiment in Pamilacan Island. Can that not be replicated in other islands, as well? Biomass materials also abound here. 

Of course, you can do a short cut and bring in a coal fired generator. But that would seem foolish when the major countries like India and the USA have given up coal -fired anything to save the air we breathe.  We believe we have to breathe and live first before enjoying the benefits of having electricity.

The power options, therefore,  abound. But we are studying them only now-when we should have been burning the midnight candle the day we went into darkness after Yolanda and the 7.3 magnitude Earthquake in 2013.

Why,  four years after- in 2017 today- we are still contemplating our navels, is a million dollar question that we do not have the answers. Do you?

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

 

 



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