Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Of shoes, legacies and apologies

My, was that breathtaking! Journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw both of his shoes, one after the other, at George W. Bush, POTUS, and until 20 January 2009, the world’s most powerful head of state. Bush ducked nimbly, but this shoe-throwing incident will be one for the history books. It will certainly not make Bush Junior kindly remembered, but it has made Al-Zeidi some kind of a folk hero to the Arab world.

Sure the Europeans will feign shock, but secretly the likes of Sarkozy must be sheepishly smiling with his Carla Bruni, and Berlusconi must have belted his usually irreverent guffaws. The Confucian-influenced Asian leaders are typically quiet, as if unperturbed, knowing that in their countries something as insolent is not likely to happen. Although a non-leader, Eduardo Ermita, executive secretary of another non-leader, had this by way of comment --- “We Filipinos are different. We are more decent”.

These Malacanang spokespersons are really something else. Ermita’s sidekick, spokesperson Golez weeks before said that Filipinos are “politically mature” when asked to comment about the then ongoing strikes in Thailand. This drew a sharp protest from the Thai ambassador who naturally inferred that Golez called his people “politically immature”. Why anybody given a position of influence in government should even compare one culture and one nationality from another is beyond intelligent comprehension.

Now Ermita does it too. He calls his people, rather, his journalists, “decent” in comparison with another country’s. How does he define decency? His standards of decency, personal as well as public, leaves much to be desired. More so his boss woman.

But when it comes to hypocrisy, aha!...that’s where our society excels. And I say, Ermita mistakes decency for hypocrisy.

Just a few days back, Mar Roxas, senator of the realm by way of real and un-garcified votes, belted a usual Tagalog expletive in exasperation over the kind of politics this government and it’s garcified president practices. And immediately, the garcified president’s press secretary, a certain Dureza, whose first name I shall no longer write as it would be akin to blasphemy, decried Mar’s use of “crass language” and condemned the senator for “stooping so low in his tirades”.

And while Dureza’s garcified boss said after weeks of indecision, “I am sorry…it was a lapse in judgment”, when confronted with voice tapes where she was conversing conspiratorially with Virgilio Garcillano, the senator says “I am not sorry” for expressing what he felt, and what he believes millions of others felt about the hypocrisy, the lies, and the shenanigans of the present polity. About time, Mar.

Which brings me to a point of observation. I do not know if it is cultural, or an herencia from the conquistadores, but we Filipinos really are first-class when it comes to hiding our feelings, and have come to consider hypocrisy as social form. To me, this is truly sickening.

I am not advocating that we should throw shoes at Gloria, in a country where millions of children could not even afford to buy rubber slippers. I do not advocate that we spit at Bolante when we see him, if he ever goes out of his Ayala Alabang mansion from here on. I do not advise that waiters should feed Gloria’s “evil” acolytes with food spiced with cockroach juice, or soft drinks laced with putrid urine. But hell, why should any Filipino not have the courage of his own convictions, and call a damn dirty “president” exactly that?

Respect for the position? Take a leaf from POTUS Dubya, who sounded cool and unruffled after the shoe-throwing incident. With much aplomb, he called what Ermita called an “indecent” expression one of “freedom”, and pointed to it as an example of how Iraqis have already become more “democratic”. Great show, Dubya. Like most Americans, you are truly a “sport”.

* * *

It’s official. The Bangko Sentral has padlocked nine rural and/or “development” banks controlled by the “Legacy” group of Celso de los Angeles Jr., namely, Bank of East Asia, Philippine Countryside Rural Bank, Pilipino Rural Bank (all in Cebu), First Interstate Bank of Tacloban, Rural Bank of Bais in Negros Oriental, Rural Bank of San Jose, in Batangas, San Pablo City Development Bank, Dynamic Rural Bank of Calatagan in Batangas, and the Rural Bank of Paranaque. (Ever wondered why Paranaque should even have a “rural” bank?)

The Bangko Sentral is now saying that their hands were tied by a lower court, which is why they could not move faster. Meanwhile, the funds deposited by the “Legacy” victims are gone, and woe to the unsuspecting victims whose monies were trapped. Woe also unto us all, whose tax money will now be used once more to redeem the insurance guaranteed by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, now headed by the brother of Speaker Prospero Nograles, who our sources tell us, is a “friend” of Celso de los Angeles Jr.

Our fellow FSGO member, Deogracias “Sonny” Vistan, himself a respected banker, writes thus:

“Recently, one of the biggest scams in the history of the country was exposed. I am of course referring to the seven rural banks (nine as of last count) that are owned and controlled by the Legacy group, in turn owned by Celso de los Angeles. I understand that the amount of deposit insurance that PDIC will have to pay is between P7 to P11 billion pesos! That makes the Jocjoc scam of P750 million peanuts!

“Some of us had already heard about this before it blew up. I am sure the four former PDIC presidents with us, Lanny (Nanagas), Ernest (Leung), Boy (Nazareno) and Ric (Tan), had known and may be more familiar with the details. One very disturbing fact was the BSP tried to take action much earlier but an RTC judge issued a TRO against the BSP, which was later reversed by the higher courts. I am not familiar with the capital base of PDIC but it is possible it may need to get additional capital from the government. Even if its capital is adequate, the magnitude of this loss, added to the Bicol bank that closed a few months ago (although not part of Legacy but the hit was P2 billion) should make us feel that we as FSGO should do something. For instance, should we or should someone not suggest to Sen. Dick Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, to investigate and summon De los Angeles? (And Bangko Sentral officials too.)

“Wow, and only a few weeks ago, GMA made a public statement that she would like the deposit insurance coverage to be raised to P1 million! That could make it even easier for larger scams against PDIC to happen in the future.”

Right you are, Sonny.

* * *

To which another FSGO member, former DENR Secretary and former Deputy Executive Secretary Jun Factoran reacted, as to whether the Legacy founder/CEO is liable for plunder, that “plunder is really a crime committed by public officials although private individuals may be impleaded if they acted in conspiracy with public officials (Erap’s cases are an example)…The PDIC experts, I am sure, would have a couple of ideas about how this fellow could be brought to justice. But the loot is now probably in Switzerland, or has melted with the bank meltdowns.”

“Talagang kawawa ang depositors”, Factoran laments.

Incidentally Jun and Sonny, Lanny and Boy, Ernest and Ric, and all those who have no deposits with any of these accursed banks --- PDIC President Jose Nograles, the brother of the Speaker who is a friend of Celso, has immediately assured the depositors of these “gone with the wind” rural banks that he will recompense the deposits up to the legal limits of the law, and that his PDIC is ready, willing and able.

That’s our money, folks. Money of the Republic. Money belonging to each and every depositor of each and every bank, plus money belonging to the benighted people of the Republic under Gloria.

* * *

Now anti-graft crusader Mar Tecson also adds in, this time about what is a greater concern, as far as he and I are concerned: “I am more concerned with Bangko Sentral, because if the information is true that contrary to its mandated independence under the Constitution, its officials are not independent of politicians. The alleged “facts” are given in Mr. Banayo’s articles (regarding the Norzagaray scam detailed last Saturday and in a previous column dated September 27), and can either be admitted or disproved by the BSP. “

“From a reliable source who worked as an intelligence officer, I have already gathered much earlier that OVERPRICED collateral were indeed ceded as payment of delinquent loans…under “dacion en pago” arrangements, but this is the first time that specific details are made public.”

Indeed, the Blue Ribbon Committee under Senator Dick Gordon, as well as the Committee on Banks and Financial Institutions must initiate an investigation of these. How the monies of the Republic have been squandered upon the “behest” or “influence” of powerful politicians or people close to powerful politicians.

Oh, how we are royally “screwed”, always. And Mar Roxas, as FSGO member Joe Molano wrote likewise, merely used “crass language”, and didn’t use the Tagalog word for “screw”, which is exactly what this government has been doing to each and every Filipino in this benighted land.


Maricel Te said...

Good Day Mr. Lito Banayo. im so glad that you are blogging about Legacy Consolidated. Because so many people are affected by this issue. All people from all walks of Life are painfully waiting for PDIC to give back their hard-earned money. Some people have no money to spend already. Yes. You are absolutely right that the Speaker is a close friend of Celso de los Angeles. And i doubt that some politicians might have benefited from this shameful SCAM. Thank You so much Lito for your concern for the victims of Legacy. Pls. continue to make waves. So that justice will be served for the victims.