Is it a done deal?

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman () - September 24, 2007 - 12:00am

I thought the president and other cabinet members implied that the ZTE deal is already a done deal and cannot be questioned? How can that be? I know the people should respect the government’s decisions since we put them there to work for us but now that the ZTE deal is being questioned shouldn’t we get a good answer to our suspicions? We need to be cleared here somehow – our tax money is at stake.

How can we stop political noise, if we are not assured of our future? Nowadays, many are calculating how much tax their children and their children’s children will be paying if we pursue the ZTE multimillion-dollar deal. As it is, our countrymen have been trying to make ends meet with the E-VAT already imposed on us. What is next on the tax program? How will the government augment our international debt if government officials are not carefully scrutinizing the government projects? If we continue to be reckless in making deals, our taxes will naturally continue to increase and we will never see an end to the problem.

Controversial projects and deals have always been part and parcel of government systems even if they are not beneficial to the people. In fact, the more you can escape public scrutiny, the more successful you become. The government really lacks transparency. We would actually be in Utopia if we will ever achieve such a state. Nevertheless, the government, the congressmen and senators must police and control each other. I hope this time, our citizenry has learned and will be stronger forces pushing to do what is right and just. Remember our experience last election? The people became wiser and more vigilant. It became more difficult for the cheaters to win because everyone was watching and manning their votes. Let us see what will happen this time in this hysterical controversy.

The President cannot afford to make an enemy out of Joe the “Venetian.” He was her strongest supporter during the impeachment trial two years ago. Both the Speaker and his wife stood by La Gloria in her darkest hours. How can Gloria just castigate or oust the Speaker who knows a lot of secrets hidden within the walls of the Palace? GMA better play her game well or else she might experience a “check mate” in this game. Abangan!

What is happening right now in this country is truly a comedy combined with tragedy. Actually it has always been the case. It is the little people who suffer, not our politicians and those noisy know-it alls who live in cozy homes. We have always been striving to cope, to right what is wrong, to banish evil and corruption but we can’t seem to complete our actions. We seem to end up always frustrated. And hearing ourselves saying, “naku na-isahan nanaman tayo!” After a while, we easily give up and forget about the issue. Today’s problems are easily forgotten. Wasted and vanquished away. Susmariosep!

My dad wrote three straightforward and simple causes (national ills) which have prevented the progress of our country. These principal causes are: (1) pervasive graft and corruption at practically all levels of the national and local governments; (2) endless “politics” engaged in both those who hold the reins of power and the political opposition down to the local level; and (3) a bloated bureaucracy infested by incompetent, abusive and corrupt department and agency heads. In other words, the culprit of our ills and woes are caused by our national and local officials. Enough said.

Last Friday, the President said that “we should stop the political noise.” How can she say this when her own government, sad to say, has been doing things such as deals and government appointments which are politically-motivated? This is why we have corrupt and incompetent department and agency heads endorsed by Malacañang. Don’t forget that these politically-endorsed appointees in turn bring their own greedy camp followers into their officers. Hence, to borrow my dad’s words, “we have a bloated, less competent and indolent bureaucracy.” In one of his columns, he wrote about the state of our civil service which I think is vital to note: “According to the Civil Service Commission personnel today, never before in the history of that constitutional body have they seen such blatant violations of Civil Service rules and regulations in the appointment of people in the government, as they are now witnessing. So, obviously, it is not the system that is the problem but rather the mentality, culture and attitude of those who govern that must be held responsible for our stunted development.”

Since 1988 we have had the supposedly independent constitutional anti-graft body, the Office of the Ombudsman which is endowed with awesome powers. Yet, over the years since the Office of the Ombudsman was created 18 years ago and despite the proud boasts of achievements racked up by that office, graft and corruption has escalated instead, resulting in billions of pesos lost attributable to graft. So what’s up? Are we missing something here? This supposedly independent body is not so independent after all? If this is the case, do we really need another expense on our budget for such an office? Now, if the First Gentleman was really allegedly part of this ZTE deal along with Abalos, then how can the Ombudsman take the case, not unless she resigns for delicadeza of not wanting to check on the President and her men who put her in that office in the first place. Hay naku!

In television, we see GMA still with her head up high and quite stern in her decision to go on with the ZTE deal. But when majority is already questioning its motives, shouldn’t she pause and think. Shouldn’t she review the project? Not just suspend it. A slimy way of trying to get away from the current issue.

Our major concern is the expense. Second, why buy it when other companies have offered better programs that are of no cost to the government? Third, we have the right to know what’s going on. I beg to disagree that the people have no right to question government projects. Excuse me! We are paying for those projects which many officials recklessly enter into. So, give us the benefit of the doubt. Be transparent. And this includes that Cyber-Education’s hullabaloo.

Don’t you hear the cry of anguish of the citizens? Here we are crossing our fingers clinging on to faith, hoping against hope that this President will not put us down. I still pray that somehow you will bring light into the ZTE matter to enlighten each Filipino who deserves an explanation. We want to hear you. Do not hide beneath the curtains or the shadows of your men. We need the President to speak instead of showing the public that she is numbed about what’s going on. You should show more concern and compassion. Keeping silent just won’t do the trick.

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