Wish nila…

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Sometime last month, I had a conversation with a fellow sabong enthusiast regarding incomes and making a living. I explained to him that I am actually a breeder and I don’t join derbies or cockfights. I only watch on rare occasions. If at all, my friends and fellow enthusiasts work out an arrangement where my birds are tested (rarely) and they send me a video. I rely solely on my media-based salary.

My friend, on the other hand, makes a “living” by participating in derbies backed by financiers who in turn generate sales of his roosters. Unfortunately, things have become so competitive and expensive in cockfighting that he has reached a point of having to make ends meet by doing all sorts of side hustles.

I have often advised him to consider starting up a business instead of being a “commissioner” on various products he sells. He said that he was just holding on to a claim that the sitting Customs commissioner back then (Yogi Filemon Ruiz) would soon be replaced by their candidate. When that happens, my friend was confident that there would be a position for him or some livelihood in the scheme of things.

Well, unbelievable as it sounded back then, it turns out that my sabungero friend had placed his bet on the winning “rooster.” I read the announcement on Facebook and took it in stride as part of Philippine political reality. I guess they had to go through the vetting and betting process before Malacañang could make the final “sentencia.” But it seems there is more to it.

One of my sources called in to tell me that “the gangs,” crews of operators, henchmen of various interest groups in Philippine society have all been rejoicing. If Heaven rejoices when one soul is saved, the corrupt forces of evil are whooping it up at the BOC in preparation for their takeover. Ironically, rumor has it that an individual has been organizing things while using the name of a religious leader in vain or possibly misrepresenting him.

Of course, none of these comes as a surprise since generations of media members have seen how presidential relatives, senators, members of Congress, staff, different religious groups and retired military and police officials and personalities have all worked their way into the Bureau Of Customs for a piece of the action. Often, they have one of their trusted assets appointed to a BOC position or they solicit a “business” or settle for a “monthly stipend” of several millions depending on their title and rank.

Some get monthly quotas a.k.a “donations” from brokers, forwarders, shipping firms and warehouse owners or operators. Others get into smuggling, facilitating smuggling or working out shipping and under-valuing goods. We often think that the action is in Manila but no, it isn’t. There is more money flowing through illegally from as far as Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga, Subic, etc. Someone even advised me to check around for a missing “oil tanker” down south recently. Any fast selling consumable with a large demand will almost always be smuggled by criminals.

Fuel is one of the biggest tickets in smuggling and proof of that is how retail stations can access and sell fuel at much lower cost and sell at cheaper prices than the Big 3. It is also why they concentrate in the provinces where their motto is “out of sight – out of mind.” At this stage, it is anybody’s guess how long the new commissioner will stay in office and how he will balance things between pleasing the President while trying to run the BOC.

One thing for sure, there will be other forces praying, waiting and watching for their turn. Because, like my friend the sabungero, wish nila to also partake of the riches of darkness! Perhaps the rest of us can simply pray that God Almighty will biblically turn them against each other and expose all the evil that these men engage in.

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DOJ Secretary Crispin “Boying” Remulla has noticeably been conducting himself with more self-control or restraint. One gets the impression that he is maturing into the job as Secretary of Justice, has been more diplomatic and conciliatory with representatives and officials of the ICC, even working out a training arrangement for Philippine forensic pathologists or medical examiners.

Then he followed up with a face-to-face group meeting with family members and relatives of the 34 missing sabungeros to reassure them that the DOJ was committed to resolving the multiple cases. That didn’t get enough of the expected traction in media, so Secretary Remulla rounded things off with an offer or a bounty of P6 million for information that would result in the arrest of persons directly associated with the disappearances.

All this is good, commendable and promising but it would take much more than photo ops and bounties to get people behind the Remulla campaign bus, if it’s true that his improved demeanor is all part of his image building as a senatorial candidate a few years from now. Long before he got into politics, I knew a calmer, friendlier Boying in UP Village. Unfortunately, all of us go through life, some for the better, some for the worse. Politics unfortunately leaves more than stains and scars, it can even sear one’s character or soul.

I would encourage Secretary Remulla to commit himself to be a more mature, humble and committed public servant in the justice system. Shed the burdensome and often fake cloak that politics forces him to wear. Truly seek justice for the poor, the weak and the helpless and I know that God will honor you.

As for the missing sabungeros, you know and I know that IF the PNP and the NBI wanted to get their target, THEY CAN. But do you? And will they? That’s the P6-million question!

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E-mail: [email protected]


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