FVR gets half-point talking on scandals
- Federico D. Pascual Jr. () - August 14, 2011 - 12:00am

HALF POINT: Former President Fidel V. Ramos scored a half-point Thursday evening when he warned that the flurry of investigations of alleged anomalies during the previous administration is giving the country a bad image and driving away investors.

It may be true that desultory high-profile investigations  many of them by politicians in the Senate  scare investors, but big-time irregularities cannot be allowed to remain hidden, the culprits unpunished and their loot unrecovered.

“These (investigations) are not (creating) a pretty picture for us,” Ramos told reporters. “It’s not very attractive to those who want to invest and travel to the Philippines. They end up going somewhere else.”

There is a clear need to review the method being used to pin down and punish crooks in government, past and present, and their accomplices in the private sector.

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SHERLOCK SOLONS: We have enough laws to prosecute the thieves driving through the corridors of power with their wang-wangs of privilege blaring.

Catching criminals and enforcing the law is primarily an Executive function. The President has the duty and the resources to investigate anomalies and prosecute suspects.

Lawmakers, including senators, should stick to lawmaking and leave crime-busting  which is not their job  to the Executive.

The closet Sherlock Holmes in the Senate should consider going on vacation. After all, President Noynoy Aquino has already shown a single-mindedness to hunt down big-time crooks and prosecute them to the hilt.

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INVESTORS SCARED: Legislative inquiries, claimed to be in aid of legislation, are actually prosecutory in most aspects.

A person on the receiving end of Senate prosecutors has a dim chance of defending himself since the chamber’s rules and the procedure  not to mention the ill-concealed prejudice of many a senator  are not conducive to a fair hearing.

The meandering and generally inconclusive televised probes are picked up by TV and other media on the lookout for scandals  and then projected to the watching world, including foreign investors.

To make matters worse, major contracts already signed and sealed are sometimes recalled and reviewed to death. This lack of respect for the sanctity of contracts is hardly the way to attract foreign investors.

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RAMOS DEALS: Mr. Ramos did not specify which investigations have given us a bad image and turned off foreign investors. But he may have been referring partly to the administration’s freezing existing contracts.

We have to give only a half-point to Ramos considering that the former president is himself identified with various issues and projects stained with alleged irregularities.

Questions have been raised over his projects, such as the Centennial Expo in Clark, the Smoky Mountain land reclamation, the bidding for the Masinloc power plant, the PEA-Amari land deal, the missing P8 billion from the Fort Bonifacio privatization.

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PERSONALAN NA: Ramos was fortunate in that he was succeeded by President Erap Estrada, who did not have the same prosecutory zeal as incumbent President Aquino.

Besides, Mr. Aquino appears to be obsessed, to the exclusion of other previous Chief Executives, with hounding his predecessor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Mr. Aquino admitted in his last State of the Nation Address that going after GMA and her cohorts is a personal crusade.

So single-minded is his campaign to nail down GMA that his critics say that his crusade is fueled by hate and vengeance. The President denies this.

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BAD IMAGE: On the unintended projection of a negative image of the country, there should be a way to convince members of the Congress to minimize acting as investigators in search of evidence to prosecute their targets.

This job, for which most congressmen and senators lack probity, objectivity and competence, is better left to the investigative agencies properly belonging to the Executive department.

We can improve our batting average if we do the investigation quietly  not under the glare of TV lights or the mad chasing of news headlines. When the evidence warrants it AFTER a quiet investigation, prosecutors can file what is by then an air-tight case.

What happens is the opposite. Lawmakers make or repeat accusations on the floor, order an investigation, summon the accused as well as witnesses, and then start fishing for evidence.

The trial by publicity sometimes results in the accused slipping out of the country, because the spectacle had alerted them of the case buildup.

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ABCEDE CASE: On Aug. 11, 2011, the Philcomsat Holdings Corp. received the decision of the Ombudsman finding ex-PCGG Commissioner Ricardo Abcede “guilty of misconduct and meted the penalty of suspension for six months from office.”

The belated decision, signed by Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro on June 6, 2011, was sent by snail mail. It stemmed from one of 15 complaints filed against PCGG officials and agents who allegedly had looted PHC.

In this case, Abcede’s purchase, receipt and use of a brand-new Toyota Camry in May 2006, was deemed “highly irregular and unethical… during the time of dissipation of PHC funds.”

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A MISTAKE?: Abcede’s defense was that this was simply a case of “mistaken delivery of a car” although his name was on the invoice and he kept on using the Camry.

During the Senate investigation on Philcomsat, the Toyota salesman who handled the transaction testified that Abcede personally selected the Camry and charged to PHC the P1.6 million price.

Now, the problem is that Abcede was replaced as PCGG commissioner over a year ago. This decision finding him guilty and suspending him was ordered by graft investigation and prosecution officer Randolf Nicolas on Oct. 30, 2009, when Abcede was still an active commissioner.

Had Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales not been installed as Ombudsman, the decision may have been thrown to the archives, never to see the light of day.

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FOLLOWUP: Access past POSTSCRIPTs at www.manilamail.com. Follow this columnist at Twitter.com/FDPascual. E-mail feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com


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