Friday, September 5, 2008


She's overworked, but underpaid." That really takes the cake, coming as it did from the Press Secretary, mismo.

Malacañang really takes us for fools. "Ginagago tayo," as the tambays of Tondo would say.

First, everybody and his mother knows that the official salary is the least of a president's concerns. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her successors live in the fine splendour of a palace, albeit stinking and beside a stinking river, still as grand as grand can be. Her household expenses are charged to the taxpayer, even the fine XO cognac that she sips each night. She moves around in a limousine followed by a half-kilometer long convoy of gas guzzlers, and when it strikes her fancy, which is almost always, takes a bevy of helicopters to wherever else in Luzon, or the islands. When she leaves for abroad, whether it is to come and go "like a thief in the knight" (that's another classic from the bowels of the Press Secretary's office) to Boao in Hainan, China, or with a planeload of congressmen and other ass-lickers to Washington DC to dog Obama and McCain, the taxpayer foots the huge bill.

Again, as the tambays of Tondo would say of a lucky fellow who got a government job, "Binigyan ka na nga ng trabaho, naghahanap ka pa ng suweldo?" which is exactly what the masa would say of Gloria. "Presidente ka na nga, tataasan mo pa ang suweldo mo?"

Talagang lokohan.

The unkindest cut is that her budget secretary, Nonoy Andaya, would try to sneak it into the "president's budget" and make it look as part of her generosity towards government workers. Because while she would get a hundred percent increase (remember, she's "overworked and underpaid"), "her" workers would get tokens, not even enough to pay for the horrendous price increases triggered by her unconscionable VAT on everything.

Do it the proper way, her bête noire in the Senate, Ping Lacson, advises her. He filed Senate Bill 42 long before, which seeks to rationalize the pay scale of government officials and employees, which is being supported by no less than "her" Civil Service Commission. (I refer to the CSC as an institution, not to its previous chairperson, my friend Karina Constantino David, who would bristle at being tagged "hers"). Get the measure passed in Congress, Lacson says, instead of "sneaking in billions of taxpayer's money into next year's budget, which cannot be used anyway because the Constitution prohibits it," Lacson said.

Under Art. VII, Sec. 6 of the 1987 Constitution, "the salaries of the President and Vice-President shall be determined by law and shall not be decreased during their tenure. No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the term of the incumbent during which such increase was approved."

Under Art. VI, Sec. 10, "the salaries of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall be determined by law. No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives approving such increase."

So why did Andaya sneak in the funds for the pay hikes in the 2009 "president's budget" knowing that the Constitution prohibits both the executive and the legislative which altogether pass the law to benefit from any increases in salary during their incumbency? Rolando Andaya Jr. is a lawyer, a product of Father Bernas' Ateneo College of Law.

Obviously, so his president can realign the funds, whichever way she pleases. "May dagdag, may dagdag" na naka-lungga sa budget, at pwede niyang hugutin kung saan niya gustong gastahin. Maybe for more doggie bags to her favorite congressmen and her favorite governors.

Ang daya mo naman, Nonoy. You used to be such a nice guy, como tu papa, the super-efficient and super-liked Rolly. It must be the ill wind that goes around in the stinking palace beside the stinking river. Or the infectious lying, cheating and stealing that is hallmark of the Arroyo presidency.


Now to our senators: Are they aware that their Senate security people practice discrimination against the ordinary man?

A friend of mine travelled to the Senate last week in a taxicab. At the entrance to the GSIS Complex which houses the Senate as tenant, all vehicles are routinely checked, taxicabs more thoroughly than private cars. Fine enough. But after you're "processed" and you reach the south bend, private cars are allowed in, while passengers of taxicabs, or jeepneys presumably, cannot come in. The passenger has to alight, and walk all the way to the Senate entrance, after being frisked by another layer of security people.

Why the discrimination? When my friend finally got inside, after undergoing another usual security check at the lobby, he went to the Senate press and information office and complained to his friends if they were aware of the discriminatory practice. He was met with questioning stress, by media people, mind you, and asked, "E bakit ka kasi nagta-taxi, may kotse ka naman?"

Wow! And this is supposed to be the SPQP? Senatus Populus Que Philippinensis. The Senate of the People of the Philippines.

Kung wala kang kotse, maglakad ka?

Tapos sila, naka Numero Siete. I have even seen convoys of two senators with about three or four back-up vehicles, preceded by two motorcycle-riding security personnel, sashaying around Roxas Boulevard, making way for the "precious" cargo of "bopols" in their convoy.

Anong akala nila, si Ronnie Puno sila?