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Noynoy, the #Fallen44, and the $5-million bounty

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In the aftermath of the bungled mission to capture high-profile terrorist Zulkifli “Marwan” Abdhir, the Aquino government is now facing a morality crisis for failing to save the #Fallen44, the now famous dedicatory hashtag symbolizing the heroic 44 members of the Philippine National Police — Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who were brutally massacred by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last January 25 as they were attempting to capture Marwan who was found out to be hiding in Mamasapano, Maguindanáo Province. Recent reports have surfaced that Malacañán Palace, including the president himself, were aware of the PNP-SAF operation. But adding insult to injury, the president himself still insists on passing the divisive Bangsamoro Basic Law inspite of the obvious disrespect to the ceasefire ban on the part of the Muslim militants. Hence, his dilemma: an angry Filipino nation.

We are already aware of these infuriating facts. So let’s just tackle least talked about but pertinent (and intriguing) side issues relating to this second Maguindanáo Massacre which all concerned Filipinos ought to know. Let’s make this quick and straight to the point.

First off, where was the president on the day of the massacre? He was in Zamboanga City, just a few provinces away from Maguindanáo. Remember that on January 23 (Friday), a bomb placed inside a car exploded in Barrio Guiwan, Zamboanga City, leaving one person dead and more than 48 injured.

Two days later (January 25), President Noynoy Aquino and some of his staff visited the victim and the survivors of the blast. Something rare. If memory serves us correct, the president never did this in previous bombing incidents. Did he even care to visit the victims of another bombing in Maramag, Buquidnón (the real spelling of Bukidnon) last December 9? That bombing took more lives (11 dead, 43 injured) than the recent Zamboanga blast and was even caught on video, but the president was nowhere in sight in the aftermath. This leads us to ask what was special about that Zamboanga bombing which prompted the president to visit the victims?

Also, it is already made known to the public that Malacañán Palace was aware of the PNP-SAF mission. It appears that they have been planning for Marwan’s downfall for months (or perhaps even years). They even have a name for the operation: Oplan Exodus. But this should come as no surprise; take note that Marwan was no ordinary criminal. He’s on the list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists. And since he’s included in that “prestigious” list, a $5-million bounty was placed on his head: that’s roughly ₱220,477,500!

It is hard to believe that everyone involved in Oplan Exodus, from the president himself down to the PNP-SAF frontliners, didn’t have the booty in mind. This is not to say that the $5-million reward was the sole motivator of the operation. Ending Marwan’s despicable deeds, of course, count the most; his bomb-making skills have killed hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of innocent lives. However, we cannot discount the glaring fact that $5 million is $5 million, even though there are rules that only the witness or the person who pinpointed the whereabouts of a wanted man can receive the booty. Ending terrorism still has its monetary benefits albeit under the table, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

It only becomes wrong when greed gets in the way.

We already heard the story of how the PNP-SAF, in the ensuing 11-hour “misencounter”, radioed the military for help because they had been overwhelmed by the (allegedly) combined forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. But no help came. Later on, the military used the “ceasefire” clause as a cowardly excuse for snubbing the PNP-SAF’s call for help). Pretty strange, if not pretty dense.

A humorous but truthful meme circulating on Facebook.

To reiterate: President Aquino was in Mindanáo, at that precise moment when the PNP-SAF forces were being mercilessly obliterated one by one. It’s pretty mind-boggling for the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and one of the main architects of Oplan Exodus at that, not to know the dilemma being faced by the PNP-SAF forces in nearby Maguindanáo.

Was the military snub deliberate? Were their hands really tied by the ceasefire clause despite the obvious fact that the extremists were already violating it? Or better still, was the ceasefire clause simply used as an excuse to somehow enable the extremists to… get rid of the PNP-SAF forces? After all, once the PNP-SAF had arrested or killed Marwan, they would have divided the prize money among themselves.

Politicians remote-controlling the operation from afar (or from Zamboanga?) simply wouldn’t have none of it. The greed of some of these politicians are already common knowledge.

To make matters more confusing, another twist popped up: that Marwan’s death during the firefight could not yet be determined. Does that mean that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmín’s (imaginary) informant will have to wait? We do know that the privacy of the informant should be respected and protected. But in the light of this huge money issue relating to the arrest of one of the world’s most dangerous cowards, a thorough investigation of Oplan Exodus’ architects is in the offing, especially since Uncle Sam’s troops seemed to have some sort of involvement (as always).

And on top of this all, why President Aquino’s continuous support for the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law when its main supporters, the MILF, have brazenly violated the peace talks by meddling in the arrest of a terrorist?

Pardon me, but I smell a rub out.

Good Procurement, Good Governance — Our Last Resort Against Corruption

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Use eProcurement to curb corruption once and for all!

Use eProcurement to curb corruption once and for all!

This is already old news, but it’s still worthy reading:

OVERPRICE CONTROVERSY
DepEd suspends order of noodles

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Education has suspended its purchase of P427 million worth of instant noodles from a supplier amid allegations raised in a Senate hearing that the food items were overpriced and lacked nutritive value.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus also informed Senator Mar Roxas, chair of the education committee, in a May 11 letter that he has also ordered a review of the department’s school feeding program.

The Roxas committee is leading the Senate inquiry into the allegedly overpriced instant noodles fortified with “malunggay” (Moringa sp.) and eggs that Jeverps Manufacturing Corp. has been supplying the DepEd.

Lapus said the review of the school feeding program would be conducted with the help of independent experts “with the objective of resolving questions such as nutritional content, cost-effectiveness and efficiency of field implementation.” The review is supposed to finish by next month.

Saying he was glad that Lapus had suspended the signing of the contract with Jeverps, Roxas on Tuesday announced that his committee would defer the inquiry into the controversy but would monitor the review of the school feeding program.

Roxas said the two hearings showed that the Jeverps instant noodles priced at P22 for each 100-gram packet was overpriced when compared to other noodles in the market.

He said Nestlé and Universal Robina Corp. had testified that their instant noodles cost P3.50 per pack, not including the costs for flavoring, enhancements and packaging.

At the hearing, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked how Jeverps would be able to get its supply of malunggay to produce 19 million instant noodle packs for the DepEd.

“I am not aware of any large-scale production of malunggay,” Enrile said.

Enrile later told reporters he doubted whether Jeverps had a supplier of malunggay.

“It casts doubt on the quality of the products being marketed with malunggay content,” Enrile said.

Roxas said he found it puzzling that the big noodle makers like Nestlé and Universal Robina Corp. were not aware of the DepEd’s bidding of contracts.

URC officials said they were invited by the DepEd to bid for its school feeding program only once in 2007. Nestlé officials said they did not get any invitation at all.

DepEd officials said the bidding for the noodle-supply contract was published in the newspapers.

It was learned at the hearing that Jeverps has been paid more than P750 million as a supplier of the DepEd’s Food for School Program for 800,000 first-grade and pre-school students in the past few years. (from Inquirer.net)

Since joining the eProcurement industry last January, I realized that eProcurement is the best solution to solve bad procurement practices in the Philippines.

Transprocure‘s Charlie Villaseñor, Asia’s eProcurement guru, is correct: with good procurement comes good governance. And since that is not the case with the Philippine government (as can be gleaned from the above report), it forced an angry military officer to rebel against it. That military officer is Antonio Trillanes IV who is now a detained Senator. Trillanes was a former procurement officer of the Naval Training and Education Command of the Philippine Navy. In that position, he successfully reformed his institution’s procurement system resulting to a savings of more than four million pesos. In that same position, he was able to witness first hand the massive corruption in the Philippine Navy’s procurement system — and that was just the tip of the presidential iceberg. Trillanes was against forces more powerful than him, but that didn’t stop him to rise up in arms. The rest is Oakwood history.

eProcurement enhances and promotes transparency in government contracts and biddings. According to David Magno, a Project Manager for Hubwoo, there has been prevailing news that the government had already implemented an eProcurement system throughout its bureaucracy. But suppliers got discontented over the system’s ineffective process, thus ending eProcurement’s spur of the moment in our government around four years ago. Hopefully, our current crop of presidential hopefuls (from Gilbert Teodoro to Noynoy Aquino III) will include in their program of government ways to properly and strictly deploy and implement eProcurement technology not only in all government departments but in all major businesses as well. This will help not only in curbing corruption, it will also help institutions in garnering massive financial savings — a potential boon for our economy. San Miguel Corporation is one best example.

Hubwoo‘s suite of solutions should be brought and implemented here in the Philippines. Although Hubwoo started only a decade ago, it is meticulously handled by management experts who are well-versed, experienced, and thoroughly exposed in the world of eProcurement. Furthermore, Hubwoo provides a fully integrated suite of tools and services, delivered as-a-service to companies. Impressively, it also boasts of the first SAP® global BPO partnership dedicated solely to procurement Right now, the French-based company is holding various roadshow events in the US and Europe to help explain more what its business is all about. Hopefully, it would be able to do the same here in Asia, ESPECIALLY the Philippines.

If Hubwoo won’t be able to solve the problem of corruption in our government’s and businesses’ procurement processes, THEN NOTHING WILL.

Related links:

eProcurement in the Philippines
Law review to improve e-procurement efficiency in Philippines

The Lacson Suspense

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Will Senator Pánfilo Lacson spill the beans on Monday?

Are those beans any good at all?

What's he really up too?

What's he really up too?

Earlier in the Senate, Lacson said he would reveal the true character of Estrada as a public servant in a privilege speech on Monday.

“Ano ba talaga si Joseph Ejercito Estrada bilang isang government official? Lahat ng catotohanan ang sasabihin co don at itó’y patutunayan co rín (I’ll reveal what kind of government official Joseph Estrada was. I can prove everything that I will say),” Lacson told reporters.

Lacson was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) during the short-lived Estrada presidency. Both were implicated in the killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.

Estrada was ousted from office in 2001 amid allegations of corruption. Both him and Lacson have repeatedly denied involvement in the Dacer-Corbito case.

Many questions arose…

Has Lacson finally sided with the hated Arroyo government due to pressure from the Dacer-Corbito allegations?

Is this some sort of payback? Remember that Lacson was in a way slighted when Estrada chose legendary icon Fernando Poe, Jr. instead of him to be the opposition’s main man in the controversial 2004 Philippine National Elections.

Many people are still wondering why Lacson suddenly dropped his presidential bid for the 2010 Philippine National Elections. And now he leaves political analysts in suspense due to that “Monday bombshell”. The timing is so suspect… could it be true that he’s the one who’s sleeping with the enemy and not Estrada?

Estrada dared Lacson to drop the bomb. Why does the deposed leader sound a bit unfriendly? For all we know, maybe Lacson doesn’t have any plans of betraying Estrada. Doesn’t Erap trust Lacson anymore? If so, why?

If ever Lacson’s suspense-filled privilege speech this coming Monday will reveal more facts about Estrada’s true character (i.e., bad ones), why didn’t he say it earlier?

Both Estrada and Lacson are under fire due to Cézar Mancáo’s testimonies regarding the Dacer-Corbito Double Murder Case. Pulling each other down will not do both of them any good. For sure, Arroyo is laughing her head off in some cozy Malacañang bedroom that should’ve never been hers in the first place.

The opposition, if it really seeks national unity, should first unite themselves and put both Erap and Lacson (and Noynoy Aquino III) on an emergency meeting. They should also discuss if this issue is all about the opposition, the administration, or the nation.

Who are these people putting in peril? The economically starved populace, of course. Juan de la Cruz is always at the receiving end of useless political clouts and bickerings. Does he deserve this?

Since he doesn’t know his national identity, sadly, I think he does…

A Battle of Colors Between Noynoy and BF

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If he sees many Filipinos donning his mom's colors, he'll run for the presidency...

If he sees many Filipinos donning his mom's colors, he'll run for the presidency...

If you want me to run as President, wear yellow shirts, tie a yellow ribbon, paint the town yellow — Senator Noynoy Aquino III tells Filipinos.

Too late for that. Bayani Fernando already got ahead of him: the MMDA chairman has already started painting the town pink a long, long time ago.

Republic of the PhiliPINK, whether you like it or not!

Republic of the PhiliPINK, whether you like it or not!

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