NBN Scandal: “Sec, may 200 ka dito.”

Romulo Neri, the current chair of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) dropped a bombshell at the Senate hearing last week, September 26th, saying that Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. allegedly offered him a bribe worth PhP200 million to “facilitate the approval of the NBN project.” The bribe incident allegedly happened around January of this year at the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club while he and Abalos were alone together on a golf cart. He quoted Abalos saying: “Sec., may 200 ka dito.” Neri was at that time the director general of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

What’s interesting to note is that Neri also testified that when the bribe incident happened, and on the advice of his lawyers, he mentioned Abalos’ offer to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a phone conversation. Whereby the president told him not to accept the bribe.

A bribe is a bribe no matter how small or big it is, right? The question is, was there anything done about this? Okay, so Neri is asked to turn down the bribe offer, and then what? He still approves the proposal? You can only imagine the increasing number of questions being formed at the minds of anyone intent on seeking the truth.

And so, until all the questions bugging concerned Filipinos are answered, the shroud of secrecy will continue to put the government in a bad light.

Related Blog Entries:
The Abalos Scandal: ZTE and the National Broadband Network (NBN)
ZTE NBN Conspiracy Theories

Inquirer.net – Neri admits Abalos

ZTE NBN conspiracy theories

This is yet another blog on the ongoing Abalos scandal allegations. Because of the lack of transparency in the dubious deal brokered between the Philippine government and Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, you can’t fault people if they make highly spectacular and weird assumptions. Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. In short, “It’s fair game.”

And so, due to lack of transparency, these are “5 Hypothetical, Tongue-in-cheek Reasons Why the ZTE NBN Deal Should Be Junked.”

5. On the wake of Mattel’s recall of about 19 million alleged China-made toys worldwide, detractors fear that copper-based network wirings that will be installed by Chinese firm, ZTE, might end up being replaced with lead. “Well, uhm, you know, uhm, Superman can’t see through lead! How’s that for security? ;-p”

4. The $329 million deal comes with a stipulation that the Philippines relinquish its claim of the “Spratly Group of Islands” in favor of China. It’s a “phone for fish” trade.

3. The almost $200 million worth of alleged bribes comes with a stipulation that all allegedly recalled and rejected China-made toys in the US be diverted to the Philippine market, which also includes lifting the “White Rabbit Candy” ban. Tit-for-Tat.

2. Implementing the National Broadband Network claims to reduce the government’s phone call expenditure to a minimum, since inter-department calls will be via Voice-over-IP (VoIP) – unlimited and free. Aside from the savings in phone calls, the government would also save on costs for hiring and training espionage personnel and paying certain unscrupulous telco employees for its alleged phone tapping activities (well, at least tapping is limited to government agencies). A bit of code here and a few system commands there, and viola!, all calls are recorded and logged into a central database. “Hello Gar.. er.. Pap.. er.. bye!”

And, the top hypothetical reason for junking the deal is:

1. Broadband? Whaddya mean broadband? Here? In the Philippines? Duh! I’ve had enough of hearing broadband. NBN = No Broadband Now. Better rename the project: National Dial-up Network (NDN) dude. It’ll have the same speed and cost us less.

Related Blog Entries:
The Abalos Scandal: ZTE and the National Broadband Network (NBN)
NBN Scandal: “Sec, may 200 ka dito.”

The Abalos Scandal: ZTE and the National Broadband Network (NBN)

One of the hottest news items currently circulating around, aside from the Wowowee Wilyonaryo scam allegations, is that of the involvement of Philippine COMELEC Chairman, Benjamin Abalos Sr. in the controversial National Broadband Network (NBN) Project deal involving ZTE Corporation.

The $329-million NBN Project aims to interconnect all Philippine national and local government agencies, including the “barangay” offices of all local government units (LGUs). This is expected to enhance the delivery of services to the people by reducing the time used for waiting for decisions and replies to queries.

News reports have it that ZTE Corp. allegedly won the NBN Project bid because of huge bribes or pay-outs given to certain government officials in addition to some “maneuvering” done by Chairman Abalos on behalf of ZTE. They won even though the proposal was said to be grossly over-priced when compared to other NBN Project bid offers submitted by other entities such as Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. ($240 million) and Arescom ($130 million).

ZTE Corporation is China’s largest listed telecommunications manufacturer and wireless solutions provider. Founded in 1985, ZTE Corporation has been listed as an A-Share company on Shenzhen Stock Exchange since 1997 (click here).

Related Blog Entries:
NBN Scandal: “Sec, may 200 ka dito.”
ZTE NBN Conspiracy Theories

Inquirer.net – Teves: Abalos set meeting with ZTE
The Manila Times – Teves: Abalos at ZTE meeting

How to make your vote count

When was the last time you exercised your right to suffrage?

The circus has come, as always, to banner the upcoming Philippine local elections this May of 2007. Although Philippine election laws prohibit running candidates from prematurely campaigning for their seat, Philippine television and other forms of mass media are making a heyday from the current deluge of “personal ads” of some political hopefuls.

It’s interesting to note that these ads have found ways to circumvent election campaign laws. And so, one cannot help but notice and admire the Filipino’s ingenuity, especially when it comes to figuring out, and taking advantage of, loopholes in the current electoral system. Ah yes, the world-renowned Filipino guile, creativity and wits of these so-called political geniuses are once again put to use.

Many Filipinos are turned off by the current state of the Philippine political and electoral system. This particularly holds true for voters who have used their voting brains on past elections only to find out that the outcome leads so much more to be desired. Unfortunately, the reality is that most voters don’t even use half a brain. These brain dead types of voters are easily sucked in by political machineries and star power syndromes. As a politician, you can buy votes, you can buy airtime, or you can even buy out the competition.

So how can one make a difference? Election campaign ads say “Your Vote Counts”, but does it really? Come on, let’s be real here. How will one vote stack up against the votes of an entire zombee-voter bloc? It won’t even make a dent on the “flying-voter” tab. In other words, your vote won’t be worth SH*T…. unless… you… do… something… about… it.

Remember these things:

1. Voting responsibly won’t make much of a difference, but actively campaigning for your candidate will!

Why? Once you drop your ballot, you’re done, there’s no turning back. It only counts as a single tally. But with some pre-campaigning of your own, it’s hard to see why you can’t influence even a single person to see things your way, especially with today’s technology. Your single vote tally could potentially end up influencing a million or so more.

2. Your vote wont ‘count’, if you let fools ‘count’ it for you.

It’s your right to vote, so make sure that your vote stays that way. Don’t let thieves make a fool out of you. Report any illegal post-election activities, or better yet, be a poll watcher. Even the best magician can’t work his magic if a lot of eyes cover every angle.

There are a lot of other ways to make a difference. You should always keep in mind that voting is not only a right, it’s a responsibility. So make it count. The future of our kids depend on it.

Squabble time

My scheduled traffic court hearing got canceled today apparently due to the current political situation over at Makati City Hall, where the adjudication office is located. It’s too bad because I was really eager to get the whole thing over with.

As a side note, Makati Mayor Binay is in a lot of heat, which to me and to most people I know, is what was to be expected because of his affiliation with the current Philippine government’s opposition group. I personally think that Mayor Binay and company are doing a great job running the city. My traffic ticket woes might have been because of the overly strict “Republic of Makati” ordinances, but then again, I’d rather be caught here in Makati instead of anywhere else. It isn’t his fault that some of these MAPSA traffic guys are just not that competent enough in fulfilling their roles (the majority are competent, mind you, I wouldn’t want to incur their wrath, would I? Ha!). Oh well, at least they’re a whole lot better than most of the MMDA traffic aides out there.

I wonder where our country is headed. With our leaders squabbling non-stop, what hope is there for us? I guess we’ll just have to continually strive to be good citizens, and to pray.

I would want to live by the maxim: Leadership, Friendship and Service. I just hope our leaders do the same.