Duterte: Infrastructure President

RATHER than Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s answers (published here yesterday) to the questions I had raised in my January 7 column over allegations of corruption in the budget allocations for infrastructure, what impressed me more in his letter were the figures he presented that compared this administration’s outlays for infrastructure to those of previous governments.

I hadn’t seen such data, and it would have taken a lot of research time on my part to get and organize the data myself.

The data incontrovertibly prove that President Duterte is emerging, quite unexpectedly, as the country’s “Infrastructure President.” Hopefully, he will preside over a golden era of infrastructure development in our country.

I reproduce Diokno’s charts here, which, unfortunately, were not too well-presented in yesterday’s paper.

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Red secretaries used posts to further communist cause

THE communist cadres he appointed early in his administration to head crucial departments merely used their posts to further their insurgency, President Duterte said in a speech last week. That was the reason he decided to fire them, and one of the factors that convinced him that peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were futile.

In a speech last Friday in Camarines Sur, not too surprisingly unreported by a mainstream media that has been sympathetic to the rebels, Duterte said that former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano had urged members of left-linked organizations to occupy vacant lots.

This encouraged members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), organized by the communist cadres, to occupy in March 2017, 8,000 government housing units in five sites in Bulacan, which had been allocated to the police. They wrongly thought that Mariano could successfully put pressure on Duterte to allow them to occupy the state-financed housing for the police.  (more…)

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Questions Budget Secretary Diokno must answer

HOUSE Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. alleges that a firm linked to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s son-in-law got P550 million in government construction contracts, which it couldn’t have gotten without the official’s influence.

It is a serious allegation that Diokno should debunk with all the arguments and evidence he can muster. It dents the stellar graft-free image of the present administration in undertaking its massive, unprecedented infrastructure program.

But instead of confronting the allegations head-on, Diokno and his allies have instead tried to shift the attention to such irrelevant issues such as whether Andaya’s committee has the authority to undertake investigations on corruption in government infrastructure projects. or whether the Constitution prohibits a son-in-law from engaging in a business in which his father-in-law oversees in some way as a government official.

There was even a cheap attempt by that camp to claim that Andaya’s camp has merely been putting pressure on Diokno to allow it to control the billion pesos’ worth of Road Board funds, intended for quick disbursement for road repairs. That tack was, however, was quickly quashed when Andaya declared that if President Duterte wants the Road Board law repealed, he would support it without question in loyalty to this administration.

There are important questions Diokno must deal with decisively.

The biggest is this: (more…)

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‘Not by bread alone’: A cruel adage

This article represents the resumption of a different kind of column I had written every Sunday two years back, titled “Sunday Read,” which I ceased writing for various reasons. Sunday Read this time around will be devoted to topics other than politics and economics, the fare of my Monday, Wednesday and Friday pieces.

After all, a human being’s existence involves much more than the impact of the nation’s politics and economy on his life. Most of a man’s concerns and interests in his daily life are more important than what, say, the government has been doing, how the insurgency could affect him, how political forces are moving.

It may surprise laymen that many journalists, because they are so obsessed with their work, often forget that politics and business aren’t really that important for most people. Sophomoric these topics may seem, humans really are more concerned about such very personal things as the meaning of their actually short lives, death, religion, sex, spirituality, love and family.

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Only three scenarios for the communist insurgency

One reason for the survival of the communist insurgency is that there are those, like many ex-activist University of the Philippines and Ateneo teachers now in their senior years, who naively believe that the violent organization behind it is doing something right: effectively putting pressure on the elites to reform the country’s social structure. Thus, they refuse to join, and even condemn, President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against this blood-thirsty insurgency.

They should think through the only three possible scenarios involving this armed challenge to our democratic way of life, and realize how ignorant and foolish such a stance is.

One scenario, the least unlikely is that the New People’s Army would be at par with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in terms of military strength. Using the term plagiarized from Mao Zedong by the megalomaniac Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison to fool young idealists into joining his mad revolution, this would be the revolution’s stage of “strategic stalemate,” which comes after the strategic-defensive stage and before the strategic offensive.

But what is the reality behind Sison’s romanticization of the stages of revolution?  (more…)

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