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What do they do with their billions?

Forbes Magazine’s annual listing of billionaires is a reminder to us mortals that society really has changed little from ancient times—it is still dominated by a tiny elite for whom earth is a paradise; while for the rest of humans, struggling to alleviate hunger daily is what life is about.

I used to be a big admirer of Henry Sy, No. 1 in Forbes’ list of Filipino dollar billionaires with a net worth of $9.1 billion—nearly P400 billion.  His malls are not just huge retail buildings, I wrote in a Far Eastern Economic Review article in 1994, when he had only four SM malls. SM malls were the equivalent of Japanese sogo-soshas (diversified conglomerates) like Mitsui and Mitsubishi, nurturing entrepreneurs (i.e., would there be French Baker or Toby’s Sports without SM?), with its department stores and supermarkets functioning as aggregators and distributors of the products of thousands of farmers and small businesses. (more…)

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Breakout nation, when?

Lacking much to boast about for President Aquino’s two years in office, his propagandists have turned to Morgan Stanley managing director Ruchir Sharma’s raving over him in his book “Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of Economic Miracles.”

With such misinformed executives, it’s no wonder that Morgan Stanley had been rescued with $100 billion of US federal funds during the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. Its latest boo-boo was its overpricing of Facebook shares that has outraged investors.

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Remember Aquino’s ‘all-out justice’?

That’s the term the President thought he was clever in coining to replace “all-out war,” as his strategy in dealing with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s massacre of 19 Special Forces troopers, including a captain, in Al-Barka, Basilan, on Oct. 18 last year.

In a televised address a week after the carnage, Mr. Aquino said: “We will not pursue all-out war; we will instead pursue all-out-justice.” He also boasted: “There is no question the state will find [the attackers]; the only remaining question is when.” (more…)

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Comelec: a most debased institution

President Aquino’s daang matuwid is more and more strewn with damaged institutions he has debased for his purported crusade.

Constitutional bodies designed to be above the fray of politics were mobilized to take out Chief Justice Renato Corona: the Ombudsman teaming up with the Commission on Audit. Before this, to force Corona to resign before the Supreme Court could finalize its earlier decisions on the Hacienda Luisita case, the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s head tried to whip up mob frenzy against him by falsely claiming that he had not even filed his income tax returns for several years. (more…)

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Appoint Ochoa chief justice!

Pity our President. After expending so much capital—political and otherwise—to remove Renato Corona, he is now in angst on who to replace him. And he’s got to be sure that the new chief justice is firmly under his thumb, or else that bloody, protracted fight would be for naught.

That disqualifies Antonio Carpio, the most senior associate justice in the Supreme Court, and therefore the most logical to succeed Corona. Why would Mr. Aquino appoint somebody who’s openly declared he won’t be the President’s stooge? The Liberal Party’s all-out rooting for Carpio to be chief justice—step one to get the high court to uphold Mar Roxas’ electoral protest—is already his kiss of death. (more…)

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Anastasia, Flory Basa, Conchita

The most widely read article in this paper in the past 30 days, based on its Internet version’s metrics, wasn’t about Chief Justice Renato Corona’s trial or about singer Jessica Sanchez. It was the May 13 front-page piece, “Filipino grandmama could be Russia’s Anastasia.”

With a record-breaking 84,000 readers e-mailing the article to their friends and to social network sites, it could even be this paper’s most widely read article ever, with a million Filipinos probably enthralled by the tale. (more…)

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A pyrrhic victory for Aquino

Chief Justice Renato Corona’s removal from office is indubitably President Aquino’s clear victory. But it is a pyrrhic one: its costs to him and his clan, and the damage to our institutions are so enormous, that history will show that it isn’t worth it.

For Mr. Aquino’s Cojuangco clan, Corona’s ouster came too late. Corona didn’t resign, as he was expected to do, as Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez did soon after her impeachment was initiated. (more…)

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‘Time discovers truth’

That proverb by the Roman philosopher Seneca is useful in understanding what the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona is really all about. Consider the following draft of history, a perspective.

Early 2010:  Benigno Aquino III’s rivals allege that the real reason he wants to be president is to save his Cojuangco clan from utter bankruptcy, which would happen if the Supreme Court rules against the sham land reform at its Hacienda Luisita. (more…)

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Psst… US isn’t with Unclos

It’s been awkward—even comical—for the Aquino administration to be begging the United States for arms to defend our Scarborough Shoal claim, which it declared is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos): the Americans aren’t with the convention.

The US—together with Israel and Turkey—is among 34 nations that have not ratified Unclos; they therefore officially do not recognize it. State Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2009 said the US Senate would ratify it soon. Three years later, it hasn’t even scheduled a vote on it. (more…)

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Colossal deception on Corona’s accounts

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ allegation that Chief Justice Renato Corona has $12 million in dollar accounts will go down in Philippine history as one of the biggest and most deviously constructed deceptions ever foisted on the public.

Morales unfortunately swallowed hook, line and sinker the deeply flawed analysis of raw data made by Heidi Mendoza, whom President Aquino deep-selected to overtake five officer-levels to become deputy commissioner of the Commission on Audit. (more…)

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