Monday, October 5, 2009


We rushed our article last Friday the previous morning due to a series of early meetings. The night before, a friend e-mailed us this: “Several political personalities and controversial celebrities reportedly used Twitter to express their thoughts on this latest tragedy. Here are samples of unverified posted tweets.”

I saved the very wittily written “tweets”, and on Thursday morning, while I was on a rush for a scheduled meeting, I decided to use them for my Friday, October 2 column. Little did I realize at the time that the witticisms came from “the professional” I even added two or so lines to what my friend sent me.

Readers informed me about my non-attribution as early as Friday afternoon, but there was no way I could apologize in print until today. So very sorry, professional heckler, and to the blog’s many followers as well.

* * *

In the continuing probe by the Senate Committee of the Whole on Sen. Manuel Villar’s “unethical” C-5 power maneuvers, a scrutiny of the parcellary survey submitted by the DPWH yielded information that a non-existent lot was used to try to collect 78 million pesos for road right-of-way payments from government.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco, counsel of Sen. Jamby Madrigal, noted in the last hearing that the duplicate copy presented by DPWH-NCR special investigator II, Carlos Bacolod Jr., had the inclusion of Golden Haven Memorial, Inc. property, when in the supposed original plan prepared in 2002, this was not included.

The geodetic engineer who conducted the parcellary survey, one Gil Sirjueco, was allegedly commissioned by the Villar companies, and is supposedly in possession of the copy of the missing original plan. Bacolod, it would seem, came up with a new survey that included the bottom portion of the original, which included a lot not included in the original plan. It was almost like an intercalation meant to increase the size of the property. Based however on the map prepared by NAMRIA, the official mapping agency of government, the so-called “lot” cannot be found in the alleged location.

An exasperated presiding officer, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile exclaimed, “So this is a ghost lot”.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco, who ought to be congratulated for this sleuthing, wondered why Villar’s Golden Haven corporation is not claiming the P78 million, while it has claimed lesser amounts of 10 and 20 million, even as there is a big unpaid amount of 78 million pesos. Evidently, there must have been collusion between DPWH, BIR and the Villar corporation.
Worse, Bacolod and DPWH came up with a zonal valuation of 13,300 pesos per square meter for the Golden Haven property, which is several lots away from the C-5 road, yet a property owned by a certain Antonia Ramos right beside, was pegged at only 4,000 pesos per square meter. To try to extricate himself from the quicksand, Bacolod passed the buck to the BIR. Enrile expressed scepticism at Bacolod’s buck-passing, stating that when properties are bought by government, strict examination to ensure that public monies are not improperly paid out must be done.

“You are an agent of the government. You are a civil service employee. Your loyalty is to the Republic, so why would you allow government to pay more than double for a lot that is far from the road simply because other agencies say so? Why didn’t you ask?”, Enrile questioned the DPWH inspector.

It was also discovered during the hearing that Bacolod himself personally delivered the letter-offer to Masaito Development Corp. for a road R-O-W to its office in Makati City when the standard operating procedure is to have it delivered by mail. Masaito Properties had earlier engaged in property-swapping with Villar, at the latter’s instance, before the C-5 Road was built.
This “queer” behaviour and solicitude on the part of Bacolod should explain in future hearings why Villar and Masaito swapped properties, and what happened to the “excess” payments DPWH made.

Of course, Villar and his propagandists would say they did not press for payment on the “ghost” property. But what if he becomes president by the grace of voters duped by his slick advertising fuelled with lots and lots of money? Would the “ghost” resurrect and quietly get paid?
What other “ghosts” in other areas, such as Daang Hari, Daang Reyna, Norzagaray in Bulacan, San Pedro in Laguna, in Cavite, Cebu and Iloilo, might resurrect, and be shuffled over by DPWH, BIR, Bangko Sentral, and other agencies in an attempt to please the “bagong hari”?

* * *

In any case, the Senate is seriously considering a transfer of its session hall and offices to the nearby Manila Film Center, which was built by Imelda Romualdez Marcos for some international filmfest in the early 80’s. In the mad rush to complete the structure, a concrete floor caved in, killing scores of helpless workers.

Nonetheless, the film extravaganza went on, with actress Brooke Shields, if I remember right, gracing Imelda’s festival. Later, the centre played host to daring, not really so X-rated movies, which starred beautiful nymphets in naked glory. When Edsa One toppled the Marcoses, “ghosts” took over the abandoned building. Years after, some spirit questors communicated with “ghosts” who seemed to have inhabited the building after they were entombed by tons of concrete.

Now Senadora Miriam Defensor Santiago wants the Senate to buy the building from the Cultural Center, instead of interminably paying rent to Winston Garcia’s GSIS. The imposing structure, looking like some modern Parthenon, would be the new legislative playground, with ghosts thrown in to make their merriment more surreal.

Manny Villar, if he does not make it to the presidency come May 2010, should be at home with the “ghosts”, serving the last three years of his second term. Oh well.

* * *

So we do not end this “ghostly” piece in so ghastly enterprises, it is worth noting that the Canadian government has announced that it will fast-track the immigration processing of Philippine citizens “directly and significantly” affected by Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy to us) who would seek to relocate in their sparsely-populated country.

Of course they must comply with requirements, and those who have kin already residing in Canada would be given top priority. Some 330,000 Canadians trace their roots to these benighted shores, and Filipinos represent the country’s third largest ethnic minority.

Indeed, rather than continue to live with the “ghosts” of Ondoy’s memory, many would do well to rebuild shattered lives elsewhere. Unfortunately, to these shores would go some of our best brains.


mikay said...

Thank you for setting the record straight re: professionalheckler... Mabuhay ang Pinoy!

Anonymous said...

maraming salamat po mula sa isang fan ng professional haeckler.

nelson said...

Ghosts lots in villar's anomalous c5 road project? I watched Ted Failon ghostbusting the ghosts projects of villar in Daan Hari in a Failon Ngayon episode. I cannot help but be amazed how villar courageously mouthed a lot of lies. I know the people who are responsible in constructing the daang hari. I worked with them when I am still working with a big bank who holds the title of villar's mortgaged properties. That politician is really shrewd and a scambag, offering his collaterals with an appraisal that is so scandalous! All the lands there are owned by villar's company! I have the plans that showed the then proposed daang hari, villar's henchmen literally make the appraisal as if the daang hari is already there. Ghost road indeed! My poor bank! My poor country if that man becomes president!

nelson said...

By the way, i left the bank after discovering that the villar company gave my bosses huge sums to create the scandalous appraisal. What a way to steal! Clear corruption, let us save our country from this man!