A plea for unity
JAYWALKER - Art Borjal () - May 22, 2002 - 12:00am
For the nth time, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has appealed to one and all, especially those in the corridors of power, to have a moratorium on political bickerings and instead concentrate our effort on nation-building. And for the nth time, her appeal for a moratorium on political intrigues has fallen on deaf ears. Nobody seems to care, and nobody seems to be concerned about our sense of nationhood and nation-building.
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In a way, we seem to be a backward nation, a nation of warring tribal groups protecting their own selfish turfs. We have not learned to be concerned about our nation but we seem to care only about own selfish interests. If it goes on this way, it will be a most difficult task to inspire our people to work together in rebuilding the foundation of our country. Yes, it will take almost eternity to make our country move forward once again.
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Fortunately, though, a big breakthrough has been made. The entry of American political and economic advisers into our shores has given the great majority of Filipinos the inspiration and encouragement to start moving in pushing our country forward. And the presence of American engineers, working side by side with Filipino technicians, is going to encourage potential investors, both her and abroad, to think and think again of the Philippines as a haven for investments. Yes, pariah we will no longer be because the big breakthrough has been made.
* * *
What is heartening to many political observers is the political will of President Gloria. She has been firm and unwavering – and it is this kind of leadership that encourages various sectors of society both here and abroad to take a long, second look at the Philippines. And the fact that the American government has committed to put in a large portion of its resources, both in cash and in kind, in the Philippines is the signal for everyone to begin moving, lest they be left behind.
* * *
Last Tuesday, May 7, at around 11 p.m, Felicito "Tong" Payumo, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, received a telephone call from the SBMA Intelligence Information Office (IIO) at his hotel in Kuala Lumpur where he was then attending a conference of the Pacific Basin Economic Council. He was informed that a NARCGROUP headed by Chief Inspector Napoleon G. Villegas, Jr. from the National Capital Region was going to conduct a search of two vessels and a warehouse at the Naval supply Depot (NSD), Subic Bay Freeport.
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Since the NARCGROUP was armed with search warrant, Payumo readily gave the order to IIO to cooperate fully and to give the group back up support. Besides, he had a personal reason to help the drive against illegal drugs as he had seen the havoc this menace has wrought on families, rich or poor, in Bataan and other provinces in Central Luzon.
* * *
The search on the vessels ended at 7:20 pm., May 8, with negative findings. It was a thorough search as all cigarette boxes were unloaded from the vessels and placed on the yard. It was also costly to Ever Rich Transhipment who hired the stevedores to unload and then reload the boxes.
* * *
On May 10, the search at Ever Rich warehouse at Bldg. 1026 ended. No drug of substantial quantity was found. Only traces of white crystalline substance were found scattered on the floor, and a partially opened sachet of the same substance was found inside a plywood box. The test produced a positive reaction for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu). Altogether, the quantity was about 20 grams.
* * *
On the same day, May 10, another search warrant was issued for Bldg.1036, warehouse of Bollard International, by the same Judge Enrico Lanzanas of RTC, Manila. Again, the search yielded negative results.
* * *
In the meantime, the media, both print and broadcast, was feasting on the event. Tong thinks that while the Narcom should be supported in its drive against illegal drugs. It should report the results of the search as accurately as possible. No embellishment, conjecture or speculation should be added. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.
* * *
"In this particular case, after two vessels and two warehouses were turned upside down and yielding only 20 grams, instead of 200 kilos, they should admit that their information was wrong! But no, insinuations were instead peddled that there must have been a tip-off enabling the company to bring out the goods. The proof? The traces and the sachet of shabu, of course! This confirms again another speculation that Subic had long been a transhipment point of illegal drugs, says the Narcom," Payumo noted.
* * *
In the meantime, some newspapers headlined that 2000 kilos or two tons of shabu were found in Subic. The report was traced to a press release from the Public Information Office of the Narcom. Now, the question of the company is: Which is easier to do, haul out 2 tons of shabu (or an equivalent of 40 sacks of rice) without being detected or to plant 20 grams in the warehouse? Remember that a large contingent of the NarGroup backed up by Olongapo PNP was already swarming all over the place.
* * *
"As Chairman and Administrator, I do not want the Subic Bay Freeport to become a transhipment or entry port of the contraband goods. At the same time, I have to protect the innocent investors against any form of harassment. It is regrettable that the officers and employees of the company were detained inside the warehouse for 3 days and nights. Their lawyers had to file a case for "Habeas Corpus" before they were released. And yet to date no one has been found guilty of any wrongdoing, the 20 grams allegedly found, notwithstanding," Payumo said.
* * *
"Lastly, there is a side issue that must be raised. What was a certain Ms. "General" Babot Gregorio, a Girl Friday of the Gordons, doing at the NSD area during the raid? And why was Atty. Ellen Aguilar of the Olongapo City Hall present during the hearing at the court when the officers and employees of Ever Rich were released? And why was Mr. Mike Pusing, PRO of the Gordons, calling the members of the media about the raid?" he asked.
* * *
"Why did the Narcom coordinate with the Olongapo PNP and not with SBMA? They should know that the SBMA is outside the jurisdiction of the Local Government Units. As it happened, the raiding group was already at the NSD when they informed the SBMA Office. Their unannounced entry could have resulted in an unfortunate encounter since there were U.S. Marines in the area awaiting transport after the Balikatan Exercises," he added.
* * *
Thoughts For Today:

As we sail through life,
do not avoid rough waters.
sail on because calm seas
never make a strong and skillful sailor.
* * *
Your vision will become clear only
when you can look into your own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams
who looks inside, awakes.
* * *
My e-mail addresses: jaywalker@pacific.net.ph and artborjal@yahoo.com

BORDER CELLPADDING CENTER EVER RICH NARCOM PAYUMO SEARCH SUBIC BAY FREEPORT WIDTH
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