“Flipping Manila”: exposing the rot in the walls

ratsEvery once in a while when the kid is in school and the wife is downtown buying her way through the wet market, I grab the television remote and check out my favorite shows: (1) various senate hearings, (2) “Flipping Vegas”, and (3) some Discovery Channel survival show with two goofs trying to make their way out of a godforsaken wilderness somewhere.

There are essential lessons to be learned from these shows.

The “Flipping Vegas” program tracks another goof as he buys houses cheap, rips them apart, pastes new walls and fixtures into place, and sells them quick for double his investment. Along the way, he meets with surprises, rot in the walls, workers who forget to do what he has instructed, and a buxom decorator (his wife) who likes to spend too much money . . . it makes for a lot of tension and anger and a rather rough and tumble set of circumstances.

President Aquino’s straight path rehab of the Philippines is a lot like that.

We think the clean-up of the nation ought to follow a neat little path, a nice tidy naming of crooks and then the jailing of them. But it’s not that simple. Indeed, it is extraordinarily messy as we discover that crooks don’t really like being put in jail and they snarl back at the Aquino remodeling crew. Crooks, venomous politicians and leftists romp about like so many rabid rats in the attic. A lot of friction develops. Drama even.

That’s why the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee hearings are such good television. We get to see the walls yanked out and the rot of corruption exposed with the rats named and shamed. Vice President Binay has become the poster boy for Philippine disgust at scurrilous behavior. He is emblematic of a century of rot, of herds of rats in the government belfry, of official corruption spread far and wide.

Jejomar has not figured it out yet, but he is going down. Kicking and screaming and lying through his spokesmen’s teeth. But he is going down and the Philippines is rising.

Most of the current rot-removal work is centered in central, in greater Manila. The Aquino Administration has been at it with a sledge hammer. Ex-president Arroyo, the plundering senators and the scoundrel from Makati. Janet Napoles. Those are the big names. And a lot of lesser names are working their way through to justice. Kicking and screaming as if insulted at having been caught. But moving along . . .

If we have a continuation of the straight path in 2016, I’d imagine the rehab work will push aggressively outward to identify and jail the governors and mayors who operate their own little realms of impunity and steal the wealth from a rising nation. There’s a lot of rot out there, too. A lot of rats.

How can I be sure the rot will be found and torn out? The rats trapped? From the disgust that is registered about Jejomar Binay. It is broad, it is deep, it is intense. I think it  . . . the disgust . . . will grow and become a widespread national impatience with bad dealers. The Romualdez clan and its ilk won’t survive once Manila is flipped and the entire nation moves down a solid, straight path.

“Flipping Manila” will change and grow in popularity. The program will become “Flipping the Philippines”. No puns intended.

I personally think the plot is excellent.

The ending is likely to be spectacular.

The show itself?

Ahahaha! A little messy and full of surprises.

Well worth watching.


51 Responses to ““Flipping Manila”: exposing the rot in the walls”
  1. i7sharp says:

    “Ahahaha! A little messy and full of surprises.”

    Perhaps, “Abby the IA,” would be more than glad to take a look of the mess?


  2. josephivo says:

    Start at the foundation. And that is where the president and/or advisors wield their sledge hammer. Impressive: The vice president, the previous president, the president before her if the rumors are correct, the chief justice, the ombudsman, the senate president and some more high ranking Napoles customers! I wouldn’t like to pay a peso to everyone afraid right now of the ladies with balls, De Lima, Tan, Morales, Henares.

    Will the year and a half remaining be enough for the next layer? Will he reach the critical mass to achieve a cultural change? Will he eventually catch the Marcos family?
    And will he be able to plug the huge illegal outflow of capital? Corrupt people that reinvest in their own country are a moral problem, not an economic one. They might even reinvest in more job creating businesses than the politicians do. See:

    • Joe America says:

      The cast of rats is pretty spectacular when you put it in those terms.

      Very interesting article. “Trade invoicing” as a mechanism is new to me, and I can see how the corruption within Customs facilitates an entire industry of paper pasting over dirty money transfers. I wonder how recent changes within Customs impacts this, or if the beast is so sophisticated as to keep right on chugging. One of the biggest “no brainers” to me to stop money laundering is to knock down the Bank Secrecy laws to give investigators access to money transfer records. That it has not been passed is likely a testament to how many government officials have illicit accounts here and overseas. The banks are the mouseholes in front of which one sets the trap. But our laws outlaw use of those traps.

  3. manuel buencamino says:

    Are people in your neck of the woods aware of the issues regarding Binay? If so, how do they feel about it?

    • Joe America says:

      Let me have my undercover agent poke around, if she has not yet done so. She’s still sleeping right now so I dare not ask her. 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, here is my agent’s report.

      Yes, people are aware of the Binay corruption scandal, as it is all over on television and radio. Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter to them because they believe that all politicians are corrupt, and they’d be happy to take gifts. (Two communities: one, a rice growing area and another a fishing village; residents’ opinions.)

      • edgar lores says:

        There you have it.

        This is precisely why I reject the paradigm of salvation.

        • atong says:

          What is your paradigm Mr Edgar Lores? Why have you given up?

          • edgar lores says:

            My paradigm, if it is to be given a name, is the paradigm of hard work. It is the opposite of giving up.

            There is a wide streak of fatalism in the Filipino. Whether this is the result of nature or nurture, I tend to believe that, if it is nature, it has been exacerbated by the paradigm of religious salvation, which encourages apathy.

            • atong says:

              Ohhh.. a bit of a misunderstanding. I was asking ‘what is your paradigm of salvation’ and why have you rejected it?

              Oh.. yes, we (Filipinos) or at least most of us… use ‘belief’ as the foundation of most of the things we do. And we think that ‘fate’ or the pre-determination of things rules our universe.

              It is one of the many things that is holding us back. That is why if had any clout I would espouse to ban all religious education in schools and make all religious organisations pay their fair share of taxes…

  4. sonny says:

    Joe, this is really weird/uncanny. Jumping to this blog after reading about the creation of the paintings and murals of a church. How the artist painted scripture pictures using live models. For example, he asked for the three most mischievous students in a nun’s class. They became the models for painting evil episodes from Scripture. And here is your installment about discovering evil while in the process of remodeling. I love metaphors.

    • Joe America says:

      🙂 I have to find out if Filipinos grant psychics any credibility. Tarot card readers and the like. I don’t know why that popped into my head. I know locals believe in the White Lady and other premonitions. When we were at a beach resort in Cebu a couple of months ago, they had a fortune-telling kiosk. My first wife was psychic, so I know the skills exist. We could save a lot of energy if we established a Department of Supernatural Readings to work alongside BIR, DOJ and the Ombudsman. I don’t know how one would rationalize that with those of ardent faith. You can advise me. But if we are going to apply the metaphors, we ought to go whole hog.

    • sonny says:

      Joe, I’m afraid the use of divining rods and oracles cannot be sustained with equal effectivity across the extents of the country. We talk instead of critical masses, we must also talk about self-sustaining chain reactions. If we must borrow the physical analog in the hope that the same dynamic will work in nation-building, let us start with what action is naturally radioactive, i.e. Uranium-235 in the physical analog. When this breaks up it releases much energy. There must be enough of it present in the system. The bullets to initiate hitting the U-235 present are slow-moving Helium nuclei; the initial hits release other He nuclei that hits other U-235 that will break up and release more tremendous quantities of energy, and so forth. The analogy to the political situation in the Philippine case is obvious. The President must employ a process similar to the physical chain reaction of Uranium, given the short time that remains to accomplish the objectives of his straight path rehab where he builds almost simultaneously as he breaks things down. Pardon another metaphor.

      • Joe America says:

        Rather exact, the explosions appearing to the left and right as judges quit cases and Binay careens off the walls of the chamber. There is tremendous resistance, though. Think of the speed of the reaction if the legislators stepped up and started condemning Binay and judges who quit, or had passed FOI three years ago. Perhaps the Philippine chamber is filled with common dirt.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Sandiganbayan recused itself from Jinggoy Estrada case for “personal reason”. Actually, their SALNs are audited in yesterdays news report. From “pressure” to “personal reason” and the truth came out, their SALNs are audited. Who ordered the audit of their SALNs is not in the news report. Why they are audited is not in the news report.

    The reason why Trillanes and Cayetano are sooooo silent. They, too, have crooked SALNs. Corona was entangled in SALNs. Maybe Binay had Batman and Robin’s SALN audited. Of course, Binay can do that. He is the Vice-President. Benigno did that to Corona, didn’t he?

    SALN is prosecution of last resort. Every Flipping Rotten Filipinos in borong talagog and shirt-and-tie have SALN to hide. SALN is legalized blackmail. The government and future government let their SALN sit there until it is called for Duty to blackmail.

    The foundatin is crooked. A little poke the house of crooks will come down. Whose idea was SALN must be a genius.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      By the way, they should have checked Binay’s SALN to make this drama gets to conclusion early. I know Binay will ultimately fail in his SALN !!!

      • Joe America says:

        His SALN’s are on the table, the latest showing something like P60 million net worth. Everyone who looks at it dies laughing, so nothing much has been done with it.

    • Joe America says:

      The BIR had sought permission to examine judges’ SALN’s to search for undeclared wealth and undeclared taxes. This was contested but the Supreme Court recently okayed the investigations. This has upset the judges, and you can figure the reasons why. They are now running naked . . . and scared . . . The resignation of the panel may be a kind of rebellion from within the judicial ranks to push back against such “undue pressure” from Executive.

      It is a fascinating plot to a play, waiting to be written. We are only in Act I I think.

    • edgar lores says:

      The Judiciary is a worry, isn’t it?

      If I had filled and filed my SALN honestly, would I be affronted by an audit? No, I would not. I would take the audit as a matter of course. If this is the reason for recusal, it would be a poor excuse.

      The other reason given was fear: either (a) fear of a backlash from social media if the judgement handed down was in favor of Jinggoy; or (b) fear of future repercussions from Jinggoy or from Binay if it was not. If fear is the reason, the judges are lacking in probity (integrity).

      Where are the hanging judges when we need them?

      Even Miriam, for all her bluster, was not a hanging judge. And yet she is considered a presidential contender? We seem to have bogus judges and candidates all around.

  6. Juan Masipag says:

    Spot on Joe! Still many Filipinos likes to see “quick fixes” to the many problems our country faces. Imelda Marcos started the system of literally covering up the face of poverty along the Manila International Airport Road whenever visiting dignitaries, heads of states and celebrities comes, (which unfortunately was copied time and time again by succeeding presidents) and many Filipinos has become accustomed to such practice that they regard “quick fixes” as a norm on how to solve our burgeoning social problems. Now as they watch PNoy take the road less taken in problem solving they grow impatient branding him spineless, coward, inutile and patronizing.

    Like an addiction it would take time for our countrymen to get used to the correct/proper system and it would take so much patience and understanding….something many Filipinos lack.

    If I’m wrong, I stand corrected! Good day!

    • Joe America says:

      I think you are right. If they want quick fixes, make President Aquino a dictator and get all the processes and excuses out of the way.

    • josephivo says:

      Of course the customer wants to see the brightly painted walls of their house in restoration. But a good architect knows that remodeling a crumbling house has to start at strengthening the foundations, if not all nice patching up will crack again in no time. Strengthening foundations is difficult and it needs time. At the end when all walls are plastered and polished, applying the final coat of paint is easy and fast. Customers are often impatient, they want to see results of all the money invested so far.

      What good is punishing a prisoner when the guard is corrupt? The guard if the director is corrupt? What good to punish the director when he has protection higher up? Luckily we have an architect who started cleaning up a fundamental corruption level. Now building up a clean society will get easier and easier. But the architect should take more time to explain his strategy and the cost/time frame so the people understand and can select a capable successor. The bosses’ impatience today is more than understandable.

  7. Bert says:

    The renovation is ongoing and doing well, It has flushed out some big rats and small rats, more to follow, and shaking the foundations already for defects that definitely requires fixing. Given enough time, it will be fixed. But not if the detractors have their way. The detractors are contractors themselves, who want to do the job of renovating, not to strengthen the structure but just face lift, in order for them to maximize the profit that would pad full their pockets and their bank accounts.

    The good works has to continue beyond 2016 and we, the residents, have to be wise and smart in our decisions to select the next future architect.

  8. David Murphy says:

    You wrote, “How can I be sure the rot will be found and torn out? The rats trapped? From the disgust that is registered about Jejomar Binay. It is broad, it is deep, it is intense. I think it . . . the disgust . . . will grow and become a widespread national impatience with bad dealers.”
    I wish, and sometimes dare to hope, that what you have predicted is true. But I fear that the disgust that you see is largely limited to the upper and middle classes. When the votes are counted I think many will be surprised to see that the poor, for the price of a little rice and a little cash, have once again sold their birthright like Esau in exchange for the residue in the bottom of the pot.
    You seem to believe that the issues with Binay will be resolved before the election. I think I can see in his keeping a low profile, speaking only through spokesmen that his strategy will be to stonewall, to obfuscate, to utilize the vast array of delaying tactics to be found in Filipino law and readily available to anyone who can afford the best justice that money can buy. And none of the facts that are revealed in that investigative judician process will be sufficient to change the votes of the poorest of the poor who receive the pittance of rice and cash. And once he is elected president Binay will move swiftly to mobilize his partners in crime and quash the charges against him and his cronies.
    For the sake of the nation I hope that you are right and I am wrong. Somehow I can not convince myself that is so.

    • Joe America says:

      That is the big question, isn’t it? Do the poor have a national conscience?

      • edgar lores says:

        Binay seems to know his voting demographics.

        Looking at the table of Presidential Preferences in “The Odds Are That Mar Roxas Bill Be The Next President”, Binay’s support is in the E Class: ABC = 17; D = 26; and E = 30.

        Determining where the E Class is most located, the figures seem to point to NCR and Mindanao: NCR = 29; BL = 22; VIS = 28; and MIN = 30.

        This is confirmed by Erap’s win in Manila and his social class support: ABC = 7; D = 8; and E = 15.

        Is it any wonder that we find Binay:

        o Wearing bogus Datu attire?
        o Inveigling Pacquiao’s support (who hails from General Santos City – Region 12)?
        o Visiting Mindanao when the Hacienda brouhaha broke?

        Mindanao encompasses Regions 10 – 12 and includes Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The voting population of Mindanao (11.3M) is roughly 23 % of the total voting population (48.2M). This is significant in our system where the candidate with the highest votes, not necessarily a majority, wins.

        Mindanao is the place (a) where political patronage and paternalism is rife; (b) where even the dead vote; and (c) where a candidate can capture 100 % of a locality’s vote.

        If there are many contenders, as in the 2010 elections in which there were at least 10 major candidates, the voting will be split, and Binay will win — easily. This is why he is not giving up.

        Mindanao is Binay’s stronghold. The strategists of his opponents must break his stranglehold on the region.

        • Joe America says:

          Ouch. Excellent analysis. Sal’s smirk became a grimace.

          • BFD says:

            Ah, we always put VP Binay side by side with Erap. Well, when Erap won the presidency in 2000, he was not subjected to Senate investigations.

            But now, VP Binay has a continuing unfolding investigation and it’s eating away at his mass base. This is being broadcasted in every media available, TV, radio, internet, and even word of mouth through tsismis which we are very fond of.

            Class D has the radio to get information on. That’s why VP Binay recently invited himself to the Karambola radio show to be a host, according to Tulfo, which resulted in a first ever vacation leave of the entire original host of the DWIZ show.

            Yes, VP Binay knows how he can reach the Class D sector of our society.

            • Joe America says:

              That’s my sense of things, too, BFD. That even his base is eroding. He is a propaganda master which works if you have credibility, but goes the wrong way if you lose it. He’s losing it.

        • atong says:

          See I told you we the D&E determines the fate of the nation.. Conscience or lack of.. does not matter.. If the candidate does not appeal to our tastes he/she is a sure loser.

          Any wannabe president (or his/her team) should focus on the D&E. In the NCR alone 7 of of 10 Filipinos are of the D&E class…

          Forget about campaigning for the ABC! They’re not a force to be reckoned with!

          Promise jobs, the regular artista visits, freee internet, garbage collection in places like Tondo, Bicutan slums, Marikina slums, etc… Easy to say but I know hard to do…

          But if one wants to be El Presidente en la Republka! Work hard! Use your brains! Nada es Facil!

        • edgar lores says:

          Just to bolster my hunch, I tabulated the votes of the top 3 lady senators in the 2013 elections. My major findings:

          1. The overall rankings, as you know, were Poe, Legarda, Binay.
          2. Outside of Mindanao, the ranking order was maintained.
          3. But in Mindanao, Binay trumped Legarda.

          (Note: BTW, Mindanao covers Regions 9 – 12 and includes ARMM and Caraga.)

          My minor findings:

          4. Outside of Mindanao:

          4.1. Poe consistently dominated in all regions with the following exceptions:
          4.1.1. Legarda topped her in two regions: The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Western Visayas (Region 6).
          4.1.2. Binay consistently trailed both in all regions except in Cagayan (Region 2) where she garnered the majority — no doubt through Enrile’s unborn-lamb-stem-cell fueled machinations.

          5. In Mindanao:

          5.1. Poe also dominated in most regions.
          5.2. Binay consistently outranked Legarda in all regions with the exception of Region 12 (Soccsksargen), which is Pacquiao territory.
          5.3. Binay ruled over both Poe and Legarda in the ARMM.

          Source: http://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections-2013/features/rich-media/29126-official-tally-votes-2013-senatorial-race

  9. letlet says:

    ” You can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all people all the time.” by Abraham Lincoln

    The above quote indeed suits Binay to a T and how lamentable some people still believe in him and support him.Majority of the people are abandoning him , but come 2016 election, with greasy money from Binay camp, these people would forget how corrupt Binay is.They would cling to the sword, and this sword would kill them in the long run. Absolutely, Binay is abominable.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, he does tax one’s comprehension, does he not? That someone could be so devoid of decency. And that so many people let it slide. I get angrier at opinion-makers who seem not to care – like Poe – than I do about the poor. The poor are doing what they need to do, subsisting. The opinion-makers will eat well no matter what they do, and to view Binay as an acceptable part of the government fabric offends my sense of patriotic decency and courage.

      • BFD says:

        Maybe you’re right, Letlet, but it is too early to really know where the wind will blow. When December 2015 comes, we will surely know for sure if the accusations on him will stick or it will slide down the tube.

        I have this romantic notion that our poor countrymen have learned from the previous election, that it’s the character of the man you elect that should be the basis of your vote, not what they are dangling to your face. Take the cash but vote what your conscience is telling you.

        As I was saying, we survived the Spanish, the British, the Americans, the Japanese, the Hukbalahaps, the NPA, the MNLF, the MILF, the financial downturns, the Marcos dictatorship, the PDAF scandals, the Arroyo presidency, the ravaging of the Philippines during WW 2, the typhoons, earthquakes, volcanoes. Filipinos are a resilient people. They are like volcanoes, quiet but when it’s time to explode, it will explode collectively.

        • atong says:

          It is not resiliency that counts .Nations don’t die. It is prosperity that we are after. I’m sure we will survive anything. Sabi nga nila umulan man bumagyo. Rock’n Roll pa rin tayo.

          But we all know it hurts to be perpetually poor!

      • jolly cruz says:

        Mr Joe, apart from the opinion makers, the local politicians should be put to task for supporting binay. in the boondocks, the local politicians hold sway. therefore, if we want to capture the d& e, we must start with the local politicians, starting with the barangay chairmen. these are the people who have no conscience. they only think of their own interests and it is in their interest that binay wins.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, if I read Edgar’s analysis elsewhere, I conclude the winning candidate will be the one who walks every barangay in ARMM and convinces people that voting straight really DOES make a difference.

  10. josephivo says:

    Filipinos live in the moment, yesterday is already far away. Poor people live in the moment too. So poor Filipinos live in the minute, an hour ago is far away. Many prognoses and discussions of 17 month before the election have been far of. A trend analysis might not be the right tool. Guessing on figures not more accurate than throwing a dice.

    Binay’s early campaigning might be a miscalculation. He does not have to create name recognition. It shows too much eagerness to get somewhere, Filipinos don’t like that. Ambition is a negative word, more so than corruption.

    I would love to see the timelines planned for the many scandals by the major fractions to create maximum negative traction 16 month from now. And what tricks they have in their sleeves to create positive traction. Is the administration gearing up for a big bang in investments on local levels, rice price reduction, new mall openings, other optimism creating things? Will Poe jump out of the box as a surprise at the last moment, with a very emotional justification, Estrada, her natural parents…? A planned “hidden” camera with a picture of Roxas and Karen in a romantic embrace, than “apologizing” that they are just humans too. What new virtual reality the Marcos clan can still create?

    What is in the scripts of the 2016 elections telenovela, who is writing them? What emotion will generate losers? Anger, jealousy, fear…? What emotion will win the elections? Attraction, hope, belonging… ?

    • edgar lores says:

      Joseph, you should be a master strategist.

      An M-K sex tape may make or break his candidacy. The reactions might range from oohh to eeww, depending on variables of lighting, ambiance, expression (facial and erotic), technique and size. Sex tapes have enhanced the reputation of many a celebrity. The Ferdie-Dovie audio tape had minimal impact on the 1987 snap election, but I am certain Ferdie won points from macho Pinoys. I would venture that an M-K versus a J-E tape would result in a landslide for the former. In fact, instead of platforms, why not use this standard to decide elections?

      JoeAm, please delete this comment if I have trespassed the boundaries of good taste.

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