The Pork of July


JoeAm hunting pork?

Kindly allow me to slip this brief unscheduled blog into the blogpile. It’s a slow, contemplative weekend, and I have an idea.

  • This is the land of pig and honey, a peculiar brand of patriotic fervor.
  • The oink and I. Emphasis on the I. And the oink, come to think about it.
  • Sty and the family stones. Stones being jewelry or shoes or Swiss bank accounts.

So many jokes, so little laughter.

It appears that the government’s money has routinely gone to Non Government Organizations that do the government’s work. For pay. Kickback schemes? Ourtight theft? The issues are so huge, beyond the mind of mortal man.

The scope of apparently shady dealings is so large, you wonder how the Justice Department or Ombudsman will ever wrestle that beast into submission. After all, they’re only investigating a former president allegedly gone corrupt, an apparent mass murderer named Ampatuan, the Coast Guard for perhaps murdering a thieving Taiwanese fisherman, this general, that governor, senatorial pork, and about a thousand other cases. The large cases have been kicked about for years, always looking for more evidence, I suppose. How will they ever unwind the pork and NGO’s?

Those are the enemies of justice hereabouts, eh?

  • A scale of corruption that boggles the mind.
  • A pace of justice that is unjust.

If nothing changes, the Philippines is likely to remain a lawless land, no matter what our esteemed President wants or says. After all, if you don’t have enforcement, you don’t have a law. If you don’t have quick justice, you don’t have any justice.

Well, maybe President Aquino, to get his anti-corruption drive from a laggardly first gear to freeway-tuned fifth gear, needs to take some special steps. Here are the three that I would recommend:

  • Hire a group of 300 investigators and 25 lawyers from the United States and give them special credentials to investigate and try crimes of corruption. Partner them with local prosecutors. This can put power behind the anti-corruption push and maybe even bring new skills and ideas to Filipino partners.
  • Create special trial courts for crimes deemed of national importance. Major corruption cases would fall into this category (legislators, governors, mayors, generals, high executive officials, judges), as would peculiar crimes like rubouts and NPA shootings of former mayors.
  • Build a big-ass jail. If we can do 40,000 classrooms in a few years, think of how many jail cells we can build if we have a mind to. Or make Sulu a penal colony island. Boost the economy. Connect the punishment to the crime fast so that it becomes a deterrent. Stop spanking the baby a week after the misbehavior.

If you have an outsized problem, you need an outsized solution.

23 Responses to “The Pork of July”
  1. JosephIvo says:

    GREAT! So straightforward. Wala wangwang phase 2. Have suspected family and friends of the president investigated first. Then the SALN’s of senators and secretaries. Also set up a call center, annex internet sites, were the public can report abnormalities easily. Can’t wait to see it happen.

    If hiring from the United States is to delicate, hire from the SGS, a Swiss inspection company with 80,000 employees, they have the capacity too. Report straight to the president. Apart from punishing people also have a parallel team tightening the processes that allowed all these abnormalities to freeze the improved situation when the rotten apples are separated from society.

    • Joe America says:

      Where the agents are from is irrelevant as long as they are skilled at investigation and prosecution. SGS is a great idea. The project is also a test of Filipinos to actually walk the walk of sovereignty and accountability and take the LEAD to do what has to be done. Or they can shrink back under the blankets and cry “it is a humiliating threat to our sovereignty to use outside skills”, and remain corrupt and go nowhere.

      When the project is done, these paid hires can be given a big bonus, thanked for their work, and sent back to whence they came after a lengthy stay at the beach resort of their choice.

      Your recommended starting place is excellent. If I were the President, I’d inquire if you were available to head the project.

  2. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Gootness, thank you, Joe. It is about time to outsource some parts of government functions. America has partially outsource or privatize some of their functions:
    1. some prisons are now privately run;
    2. CIA and NSA hires contract out intelligence analysts like Snowden;
    3. United Nations hire Filipino soldiers as pawns or target shooting practice in middle-east;
    4. mercenaries;
    5. American Dept of Justice is thinking of outsourcing their jurors abroad because black jurors acquit black defendant so does whites as was found out on Zimmerman’s case
    6. Tech companies import Asian-Indians techies;
    7. American farms import hispanic contract laborers;

    Philippines little by little has outsoure their forensics to Hong-Kong and China. Good for Abu Sayaf they are well ahead of the curve, they send their terrorists to Afghanistan sometimes they import Al Qaeda to train them from carving their hostgage to bomb making. Cayan de Oro was just bombed moments ago 6 dead.

    • Joe America says:

      The main reason for outsourcing is to get a job done that simply cannot be done well internally. Many large companies outsource their data processing functions, and certainly their tech security or physical security. Why? To get expertise that they themselves are not set up to provide.

      Occasionally, this creates an aberration like Snowden, but generally it has expanded as a practice because it works.

      And thus, the Philippines has a booming call center industry . . .

    • Joe America says:

      ps, # 3 and #5 are quite amusing

  3. As for my experience in the corrupt system, every new comer comes in hoping for a good contribution to the country, that they could change the system for the better. Hope comes staying outside the government walls, once you go in, breathe the stench to survive, be blind to the clairvoyant wickedness, and force yourself to accept what you wanted to resist in the first place.

    That is why professional actors fit in perfectly in the system, they just have to look as if they actually care for the people.

    If your recommendations do not push through, here’s some of mine, (incomplete list):
    1. Reinstate death penalty for all offenses including jaywalking.
    1. Work on abolishing corruption one department a time.
    1. Document everything including reciepts and post it publicly.
    1. Get everybody to know and learn all about time.


    • Joe America says:

      Nice nameplate, GEM. Welcome to the blog.

      I’m thinking that perhaps Mr. Aquino opened a few windows, and if we get better principled people like Grace Poe into the building whipping a fan, the air will clear.

      The point about actors is excellent.

      Your recommendations are a little, well, mad . . . but the DISCIPLINES behind them are superb. Thanks.

    • Killer says:

      I like working on defeating corruption one department at a time. It’s simple, it’s doable. We’ll only have to watch out for the other departments who will most probably steal double-time up until the spotlight’s on them.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. “A scale of corruption that boggles the mind.”
    1.1. Words fail.
    1.2. My basic faith is that man is essentially good. But when I look at the Filipino, what do I see? I see a lying thief.
    1.3. The dishonesty is everywhere in almost everybody, and the dishonesty is to others and to self.
    1.4. The thievery is thought be mainly in property. What is not realized in the thievery is the loss in non-material values: the loss of innocence, the loss of integrity, the loss of trust for each other and the loss of faith of the citizen in the state. Perhaps the greatest loss is the loss of hope in an acceptable and livable future.

    2. Someone must analyse the circles of corruption in the pork barrel (and the Bureau of Customs).
    2.1. The circle must be broken at several points, in the interaction among the three branches of government and in the interaction of the government with the private sector.

    3. The problem with any solution is the incorruptibility of the people assigned to carry out the task.
    3.1. Outsourcing to foreigners may be a good idea but I am not sure it would be feasible in the long run. The cultural divide is too great, and getting to know and navigate an alien terrain is near impossible. Even if it were possible, the question of sovereignty would be raised at every turn. Perhaps, foreigners can serve as consultants.
    3.2. For some reason, the office of the Ombudsman, like the judiciary, seems to move along geological times, like a glacier. In other countries, the anti-corruption commissions are very effective. Someone must study why that is so and why the Philippine experience is different.
    3.3. The other recommendations here are excellent. I would add the following:
    o Three judicial important cases must be resolved as soon as possible and before 2016: Ampatuan, Arroyo and Corona.
    o Erring representatives, senators and middle men embroiled in the pork barrel scam must have the books thrown at them for plunder. No more treatment with kid gloves.
    o A feasible solution for the corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) must be arrived at.
    o The performance of the watchdog Commission of Appointments must be reviewed and deficiencies resolved.
    o The standards of the Civil Service Commission must be raised; government employees must be retrained; and the strict provisions of the security of tenure must be loosened. I find it hardly credible that the employees of the BOC cannot be terminated for cause.
    o Parents, schools and churches must produce incorruptible citizens.

    • Joe America says:

      Succinctly and somewhat angrily put, both appropriate to the subject at hand.

      The main moral authority, the Catholic Church, is corrupted of common sense and compassion, not much help there, I fear. Schools are stuck in geological time, too. I think there is a better shot for internet forces – the fifth estate – to work on teens and young adults.

      1.4 I’d guess that the Philippine culture is material, not reflective. It is hung up on greased-palms, not the thrills found at aspiring to be Larger Man. It is a rock-solid, deeply ingrained cultural quality. Me first.

      3.1 Outsourcing to foreigners subordinated to Filipino bosses and working actively, not as advisers, but with Filipino partners gives Filipinos incredible sovereignty markers. It is the FEAR of not measuring up to that task that takes away sovereignty. It is the taking charge and doing a needed job that builds sovereignty.

      I’ve had it up to the eyeballs with misreadings of what sovereignty is all about. It is not “hands off” and isolation. It is taking charge, hands on, and solving the problem. Sovereignty demands accountability, not a shrinking from accountability and pasting it off onto others with blames and excuses.

      Your insights capture a quality of Filipino conscience that is rare but found now and then. May it be increasingly so.

      It is very refreshing. Especially the passions, directed honorably.

      • Attila says:

        I can’t see Filipinos being able to hire foreigners to do the job. They have a major trust issue when it comes to foreigners. They have little tolerance to any foreigner who stirs the pot. Even a protester who is just a loud mouth could end up as a non grata like Thomas Van Beersum. He is a commie sympathizer and USA hater and I really don’t like him but that would be enough to kick him out of the country?

        Filipinos will not tolerate any foreigner involved in politics or working in the government.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, that seems to be a common conclusion. Hiring foreigners will not work. But we still have the problem. Corruption and crime (Ampatuan, rubouts) on a scale that existing justice resources simply can’t deal with. The Taiwanese report is still lagging, I assume for “more information”, and the Ampatuan case is in its fourth year. Now we have a nest of corruption as squiggly as a hectare of snakes.

          I’m afraid it is a trade off of one unpalatable for another and if I got delusional and assumed I were running the show, I’d go with the foreign solution, explaining in clear terms that this is a “hiring” of skill that we don’t have, and has no bearing on sovereignty. There is no infringement on sovereignty if we buy US boats and control their use. There is no infringement if we buy US talent and control their use.

          We clean up or stay corrupt with trials sludging along for 10 years. The latter to me is absolutely abhorrent. The former, merely a PR problem.

          No one has come up with an alternative to foreign resources. I stand patiently by awaiting a suggestion that might work.

  5. edgar lores says:

    On sovereignty:

    1. I would agree that Filipinos and Americans can and should work together as partners on the defense of the resources in the Philippine West Sea. Here the threat is external to the Philippines.
    1.1. But even so, it must be noted that there are vociferous voices against ceding too much sovereignty to the US, say, in the use of military bases.

    2. Corruption is an internal threat.
    2.1. I really cannot imagine Filipinos and Americans (or any foreigner) working as equal partners in solving this threat. Sovereignty may not be taking charge or being in charge but seeming to take charge and seeming to be in charge. Sovereignty is the reality or the illusion of control. People are protective of their territory; it’s the territorial imperative.
    2.2. So it’s almost a fundamental biological issue apart from the attendant cultural, legal, social, political issues.
    2.3. How would it look if the Philippines is seen as a weak boy always running to mother America to clean up his room? The self-image would not be acceptable to Filipinos, nor should it be to Americans, and the relationship of dependence would not be sustainable.
    2.4. America cannot and should not be depended to solve the internal corruption in other countries. Look at what is happening in Kabul. Afghanistan is as corrupt, if not more so, than the Philippines. (In the Transparency International index, Philippines is ranked 105, Afghanistan 174.) As the allies leave Afghanistan, the country is imposing “taxes” on the repatriation of foreign assets used in the war. This is sovereignty being exercised by an ungrateful elite who have been hoisted by the allies to rule their country.

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, American investigators and attorneys are out. That is fine. The SGS (Swiss) solution may work, but there is an advantage to English speaking as that is the legal language of the Philippines. If you tried to compile a force of Filipino investigators and attorneys, you’d strip the country dry and penalize other initiatives.

      It does no good to hold onto a notion of sovereignty if you can’t get the mess cleaned up. You remain a sovereign corrupt country.

      2.4 Afghanistan was a military engagement. This is civil. It is the flip side of having Philippine call center employees service U.S. interests. Well . . . as I type that, I wonder, if the call centers served U.S. government agencies, would that be a more sensitive case? A threat to sovereignty. Maybe not, but an embarrassing display of inadequacy..

      So I guess i have circled myself around to see your point.

      The problem is, investigators and attorneys are a “high skill set” and how does the Philippines SIGNIFICANTLY intensify the effort without going outside?

      You are basically arguing for the status quo.

      I shudder.

      And I still argue that it is Philippine CONTROL that defines sovereignty, not Philippine resources. Use whatever resources work. Emphasis on work . . . like to get corruption out. THAT is sovereignty, actually caretaking the nation.

      • edgar lores says:

        1. No, I am not arguing for the status quo. I am arguing for a “holistic” solution that must be arrived at by Filipinos as it develops as a nation. The juvenile must become a man on its own terms.

        1.1. Investigation of the pork barrel mess must be done. By whom? As MB says, by the Sandiganbayan and the Ombudsman. But these offices must be given the proper resources in power, in personnel, in funding. If foreign consultants are necessary, by all means hire them. Not as sheriffs or even deputy sheriffs but as experts in analyzing the problem and designing solutions.
        1.2. But side by side with this hopefully one-time investigation would be the consideration and the implementation of the other recommendations here in terms of a viable future solution. Both the audit (COA) and the civil service (CSC) functions, not to mention the DOJ and the Judiciary, are important nodes in breaking the circle of corruption

        2. Speaking of the pork barrel and the Church, it strikes me that there is no viable opposition to a seating government and, therefore, no refinement of policies brought out by vigorous exchanges.
        2.1. This is because of the non-existent ideological division among parties, the shifting alliances, and the use of pork to buy temporary loyalty. But even the use of pork is essentially fruitless because, in the first place, there is no well thought-out policies.
        2.2. In the US and Australia, the oppositions are mighty fortresses and bulwarks.
        2.3. In the US, its because of the grand old parties, and in Australia because of the parliamentary form of government.
        2.4. Currently in both countries, the opposition are focused on trivial and regressive matters because of the will to power. In the US, it’s taxation and Obamacare. In Australia, it’s the asylum seekers coming by boats. And there are peripheral issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia. In Australia, I think the major issues would be economic policies in particular with respect to agriculture and mining; infrastructure development, in particular, the roll-out of optic fiber and high-speed rail; and education policy.
        2.5. In the Philippines, the major opposition – and a major stumbling block to progress – is the Church. The Church!

  6. manuel buencamino says:

    The special court exists. It is called Sandiganbayan. The special prosecutor exists. It is called Ombudsman.

    I will hire 300 investigators and 25 lawyers from the US, maybe even twice that number once I see some major bank president go to jail. In the meantime I think I will hire people from Iceland. They threw their bankers in jail

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.