• Aquino’s in-your-face cronyism


    PRESIDENT BS Aquino 3rd continues to astonish us with his brazen favoritism toward cronies and political allies.

    As the Times reported yesterday, Aquino took time out from his busy schedule to personally attend a ceremony conferring the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award on mining firm SR Metals Inc. (SRMI), praising the company for having “performed well in protecting the environment, keeping their operations safe, and helping the communities in which they operate.”

    SRMI is controlled by businessman Francis Enrico “Eric” Gutierrez, who has been widely reported as having been one of Aquino’s and the Liberal Party’s top campaign contributors in the 2010 elections. One of the firm’s key shareholders is Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, whose role these days is to serve as a media “attack dog” on behalf of Aquino and the party.

    Other mining firms recognized by Aquino included Silangan Mindanao Mining, OceanaGold, RioTuba Nickel Mining, and Coral Bay Nickel, all of whom were gently mocked by the President for not having won the highest award. “I made it a point to be here today to thank all of you personally, and to express my hope that, next time, most of you will have shifted from the runner-up awards, to the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award,” Aquino reportedly said.

    Even if SRMI had a sterling reputation among the communities where it operates, the lack of propriety and gross conflict of interest on Congressman Erice’s part in keeping a large stake in the company is simply unacceptable – Congress has yet to produce an update to the 1995 Mining Act to operationalize Aquino’s now four-year-old EO 79, which unilaterally wiped away the old law and proposed a number of significant changes. Erice, who wields great influence among his party comrades and their congressional allies, can hardly be expected to take part in that important legislative work objectively and with the best interests of the nation in mind.

    Beyond that, it was in incredibly bad taste for Aquino to so blatantly and publicly reward his cronies, and downright rude to openly tweak their competitors for not being worthy of the same recognition. Aquino’s choice made a complete farce of what should be a respectable award given for real effort to improve the environmental, social, and economic performance of the mining industry, not just because of his overt decision to publicly reward “connected” people behind the company, but also because SRMI has a less-than-stellar record when it comes to following regulations and engaging well with its host communities.

    Since 2005 – for more than 10 years – SRMI has been the subject of complaints from citizens of the Agusan del Norte town of Tubay, who allege that the company has violated terms of small-scale mining permits, and among other things, poses a health risk to local residents, failed to relocate families forced to move out of the way of mining operations, contributes to flooding and drainage problems in the area, and illegally seized control of farm-to-market roads for exclusive use of the company in its operations.

    Those are allegations, it must be stressed, but even if none of them turn out to be valid, it is simply ridiculous, shameful in fact, for Aquino to even consider the company for an award recognizing its environmental and social contributions before the various complaints are cleanly resolved.

    We can take heart that it will only be a little more than five months before we can watch this embarrassment of a president make his final departure from Malacañang. Those five months cannot pass quickly enough, as far as we’re concerned.


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. It’s not fair to blame Roxas. Roxas did not appoint Antonino. PNoy did. That Antonino had worked as an administrator in Roxas’ office is coincidental. Antonino’s mom was a 3-term member of Congress from Cotabato and an important ally of PNoy. If anything, blame the cronyism on PNoy. But before we judge him on that, let’s investigate Antonino’s background. So far it appears she’s a UP graduate and had owned or operated some businesses. At any rate, the position at SSS she was appointed to was as government representative and does not require a financial background. It is not true that the reported compensation is in the form of per diems.

    2. Cronyism is corruption and the path to poverty. It keeps people subservient, it breeds discrimination and class structures, and it stifles creativity and innovation. It is a cancer in society – culturally, and politically, with dire economic consequences.

      Philippines ranks as 6th worst country in the world for cronyism.

      Cronyism leads to elitism, inequality, entitlement, impunity, and is a major barrier to inclusive growth as protectionist measures concentrate power and wealth, and as the political system perpetuates the status quo.

      Pnoy Aquino – the crony-in-chief has embedded cronyism, corruption, and bribery to the point that the Philippines operates like a tryannic state, and where the majority are ignored, and hypocricy rules.

      Cronyism is rule by the few, for the few.

      Mar Roxas is of the same mindset, and is unfit to lead.

    3. Eliza antonio and her mother are classic examples.
      Mother appointed chairperson of Mindanao development authority by Aquino.
      Her daughter eliza antonio – (HRM and hotel intern experience) appointed to board of SSS – 6 Million pesos a year for attending a couple of board meetings. ( the highest paid, and least capable – something fishy).
      She already has another full time job. Appointed in her early 30’s she must be brilliant, despite no financial qualifications/experience – oh wait, she was Mar Roxas’ administration assistant! Mmm
      And they are still close, as a photo of them together in a restaurant last month shows.

      No wonder SSS is a mess when incompetent ‘friends’ are parachuted in and paid 70 times median wage for a few days work each year. In the US that would equate to $1,800,000 a year salary for attending board meetings.

      Abuse of power – the aquino/roxas modus operandi.

      Eliza antonio needs to answer some questions.

      • I have now been informed of the cosy ‘set up’
        Korina also needs to ask Eliza Antonio some questions!
        Another single girl which Mar Roxas keeps in tow, and funds with tax payer money!
        Another form of abuse of power.
        Another ‘marriage’ of mutual convenience.

      • My, oh, my.. and I thought Mar is dull and Mr Clean. Can you imagine if ever Mar wins the predidency, Ms Antonio will probably be assign to an even better paying position, like Customs collector, maybe??