Gilas & puso; Napoles & pork

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IT was all heart that got Gilas Pilipinas to beat South Korea in a game that truly mattered for basketball pride and honor of the nation. We were united for a moment, shouting our lungs out to egg our team to gain back their composure with the injury of naturalized center Marcus Douthit. With Douthit riding the bench, it was an all-Filipino five that engineered the return to center stage for a team created, molded and nurtured by a man called MVP and a bench tactician named Chot. It was championship caliber play Saturday night with an 86-79 victory. More than anything, it was personal for every Filipino in the SMX Arena for we have not beaten South Korea for that long. Defeating South Korea ensured our ticket to Spain for the FIBA World Championships.

It was still heart that got our Gilas Pilipinas fighting the giants of Iran last Sunday what with former NBA player, seven-foot-two Hamed Haddadi clearly just dropping every shot from the paint as if he was picking duhat in the backyard. Iran won with the final count at 85-71 against Gilas. Prior to this, Iran was undefeated in the tourney and averaged a margin of 30 points per victory with Haddadi able to rest for longer minutes compared with the game against Gilas. Still, it was plain heart and grit that got Gilas fighting every space and loose ball.

Stealing the thunder from SMX Arena is the continuing Napoles saga that started a week before the SONA. Napoles’ stellar role in the politics of pork came to being around the time Inekon saw the light of day. Napoles was the sordid details of Php10 Billion played out in a 3-part series in Inquirer. Over the weekend before the SONA, another broadsheet, this time Philippine Star bannered “COA: Pork barrel anomaly bigger than PhP10B.” Some observers were saying these were diversionary tactics to cover Inekon. Thinking it would define the SONA and reshape the battle against corruption, people stayed on to the 105 minutes accomplishment report of BSA3. Zilch!

Since that time NBI placed two former Napoles staff under its Witness Protection Program but they continue to sing. NBI is said to be doing its own investigation. BID has placed all airports under alert by distributing posters of Napoles and her brother. Then come top LP officials and cabinet members denying knowing Napoles. An assistant secretary meanwhile has been replaced as interim chair of the NGO accreditation committee in DA. BIR is said to launch its own investigation into the properties and holdings of Napoles. The Ombudsman has also joined the fray. The public though is not informed of the status of all these investigations. The silence is indeed deafening.

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Then on August 7, BSA3 finally recognized the problem when he directed Alcala and Abad to come up with new measures to prevent the recurrence of these questionable funneling of pork barrel and other public funds into dummy NGOs. But in same press briefing he again contrasted the degree of corruption when the amount released under Alcala’s watch was peanuts compared to the fertilizer scam in 2004 under the Arroyo administration. Take note BSA3 concluded and it was Alcala’s watch. He missed the point again just like in his SONA.

Before the House Standing Committee on Appropriations, DBM Secretary Butch Abad said, “LP will support any investigation.” When before they were in the forefront of anomalies and exposing corrupt activities, in power, they merely give tokenism. Before the celebratory activity on the life of the late Jesse Robredo, LP again went into tokenism mode. Even in death, they still used and needed Jesse. Sad.

Then former national treasurer Liling Briones identified that BSA3 has Php 1 Trillion (total of lump sums) pork in the proposed 2014 budget. This is tuwid na daan in policy. Sad.

And now comes another discovery in the proposed budget for 2014 via a special provision “qualifying the PDAF that only NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) accredited by the DSWD will be eligible as recipient or implementing agency.” Mad.

Suspend PDAF while the investigation is ongoing. If indeed there is an investigation. Make public the process and the results. Do it fast and get those guilty removed from office. That is Tuwid na Daan. It can’t be happy, happy to the bank again! And for crying out loud, lets do an item budget. The performance indicators are good reforms but what happens if the agencies do not meet the indicators? Will DBM remove the budget?

Mr. President, when you up the bar on accountability and transparency, make sure you are serious. The delay in pursuing big infra projects is said to be due to wanting to leave office with a clean name, never mind the infra needed. If so, crack the whip with your super majorities and your party. They are soiling the whites. Expectations are too high that if you don’t do what should be done, the parting of ways will be easy for Juan.

If Gilas had heart and grit, so as Filipinos who are mad at all these smoke and mirror ops, tokenism, lies and thievery. Enough is enough. If winning against South Korea was personal, the fight against PDAF is personal to every citizen and voter of this country. Do not stoke the fires of an enraged citizenry. You would not want to reap what you sow.

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