Centrist Democracy Political Institute - Items filtered by date: April 2017
MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte is “a man who must be stopped,” The New York Times said yesterday.

In a scathing editorial titled “Let The World Condemn Duterte,” The New York Times (NYT) said the International Criminal Court (ICC) should “promptly open a preliminary investigation” into the allegations of mass killings against Duterte and 11 of his officials.

Although the ICC might be reluctant to start the investigation because Duterte is popular among Filipinos, NYT stressed there was “more than enough evidence” against the Philippine leader.

Lawyer Jude Sabio on Monday filed a complaint before the ICC, alleging Duterte had ordered the killing of more than 9,400 people, “most of them poor young men, but also bystanders, children and political opponents.”

After he was elected president last May, Duterte “took the killing campaign nationwide, effectively declaring an open season for police and vigilantes on drug dealers and users,” the editorial said.

The US publication said Duterte had paid members of the Davao death squad to kill suspected criminals and political opponents when he was still mayor of Davao City.

“Mr. Sabio is not the first to accuse Mr. Duterte of mass killings – so have Human Rights Watch, in 2009; Amnesty International, this January; and some brave Filipino politicians. The ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, declared last October that the court was ‘closely following’ developments in the Philippines,” the editorial said.

NYT also noted the confessions of the two former members of the supposed death squad, saying Duterte had provided them the hit list.

If these were not enough evidence, NYT said the ICC could take into account Duterte’s remarks that he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts, like “Hitler had killed three million Jews.”

“Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” NYT quoted Duterte, describing it as one of his most outrageous statements while “misstating” the figure who died during the Holocaust, which was six million.

NYT said a preliminary investigation against Duterte will encourage the international community to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods.

“The ICC should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings,” its editorial said.

In an editorial last March, NYT called on the international community to revoke the Philippines’ trading privileges over the killings linked to Duterte’s war on drugs.

The purpose

Duterte has denied involvement with any of the killings, saying his orders to liquidate drug offenders were within the bounds of the law.

Duterte has said he welcomed the prospect of the ICC putting him on trial. He said last month he would not be intimidated and his campaign against drugs would be unrelenting and “brutal.”

Malacañang earlier said the NYT editorial was part of a demolition job against the Duterte administration.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella had said the ICC complaint filed by Sabio was part of the efforts to shame and embarrass Duterte and the Philippine government before the global community.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo described the NYT editorial as “reckless, irresponsible and baseless.”

Panelo said the filing of a case against Duterte before the ICC was ill motivated.

He also questioned the timing of the editorial, which he said, “creates a bad impression against the President.”

Administration allies led by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III warned the ICC of taking cognizance of the complaint filed by Sabio.

Pimentel described Sabio’s complaint as “weak” and obviously politically motivated.

“The ICC being professionals should immediately see the political purpose of this complaint,” Pimentel said.

“It’s up to the ICC if they will allow themselves to be used by domestic politics in the Philippines.”

Pimentel noted the 77-page complaint filed by Sabio alleged the Senate has been either reluctant to investigate Duterte, if not engaged in a cover-up.

Senators allied with Duterte immediately dismissed the filing as part of attempts to destabilize the administration.

Pimentel also defended Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Richard Gordon for protecting Duterte. – Paolo Romero, Janvic Mateo, Pia Lee-Brago, Christina Mendez
Published in News
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) in partnership with the Konrad Adenaur Stiftung-Philippines will be gathering experts in political party building and federalism in establishing a working roadmap for a Federal-Parliamentary Philippines this coming 5 May 2017 in Hotel Vicente, Davao City, Philippines.

The dialogue will serve as a venue to discuss important topics such as successful political parties and the best practices of other countries that follows a Federal-Parliamentary form of government.

In essence, the objectives of the forum is to understand the experiences of other countries when it comes to political party management and federal-parliamentary government and appreciate its implications. Eventually, the end game is to come up with a working roadmap for a Federal and Parliamentary Philippines.

Mr. Roderico Y. Dumaug Jr. is currently teaching at Xavier University and the chairperson of the CDP Iligan City Chapter. He will be presenting case studies of successful political party management and strategies.

Mr. Ryan Maboloc, a professor from the Ateneo de Davao University, will be presenting successful federal and parliamentary governments with strong political parties.

Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, CDPI president and founder will be presenting the working roadmap for a Federal and Parliamentary Philippines.

An open forum will take place after the presentations.
Published in News
Thursday, 27 April 2017 09:44

Love as foundation for an economy

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Gina Lopez believes that “we must build an economy based on love” and this belief is central to much of her vision of genuine development. This vision in turn informs her policy and position towards certain economic sectors like mining, forestry and energy. Certainly, one can understand how today’s “economists” could cringe upon hearing statements like this as our modern economies are largely based on money and politics where, as Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate for Literature, sang, “love don’t have any place”.

Very true, considering that in an economy exchanges of goods and services between people are facilitated by money, meaning to say two people who do not know each other (and therefore cannot love each other) are able to exchange goods and services because there is money to facilitate the exchange even without love. Likely, the less love, the more money and more money velocity as the transaction is viewed purely on its own, on its utility to both parties and certainly, unless the parties knew and cared for each other, “love wouldn’t have any place” in the transaction.

So, how then can love become the foundation of the economy? I would say that in a fundamental way, it already is. First, all production and consumption starts from human need. And the smallest unit from which production and consumption starts in a society are the households. And logically, what starts most households are marriages that started from love. The children are normally loved and nurtured, to the point of parental sacrifice, for their own sake and not for money.

Now most households are founded not as a means of accumulating money and property (except for arranged marriages arranged for that very purpose and we know that many of these don’t last very long) but as the fulfillment of a deep love between two individuals who can procreate and form a living, growing household (although households now can be same-sex with adopted children, etc.). Therefore, in the most basic socio-economic unit, love plays the most important role.

Where the formal economy as we know it originates from is the concept of sectoral enterprises that take “land, capital and labor” and organize them for productive purposes so that households and other enterprises (and government) can consume for the totality of their needs for themselves and their household members. These units of organization, the sectoral enterprises, unlike the households, focus entirely on getting the largest sustainable return for the risk capital deployed. And for that to happen you can imagine that love would get in the way of that goal. Even corporate social responsibility projects (CSR) have little to do with love but rather have to do with corporate brand imaging development.

If one looks at the deepest impulses of sectoral enterprises versus households, one quickly realizes that the former depends on extraction, or taking, while the latter, the household impulses, are based on nurturance. And since households are rooted in specific areas or places, and have the impulse of nurturing, the village of households relying on the healthy functioning of ecosystems, in turn, take to nurturing and long-term economic management of their local environment. Natural villages of communities have been proven to be the best managers of their surrounding environment as compared to enterprises or government. This was proven by Elinor Ostrom, the 2009 Nobel Laureate for Economics.

“Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist at Indiana University, received the Nobel Prize for her research proving the importance of the commons around the world. Her work investigating how communities co-operate to share resources drives to the heart of debates today about resource use, the public sphere and the future of the planet. She is the first woman to be awarded the Nobel in Economics.” (http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/elinor-ostroms-8-principles-managing-commmons)

Ostrom’s achievement effectively answers popular theories about the “tragedy of the commons,” which has been interpreted to mean that private property is the only means of protecting finite resources from ruin or depletion. She has documented in many places around the world how communities devise ways to govern the commons to assure its survival for their needs and future generations.

A classic example of this was her field research in a Swiss village where farmers tend private plots for crops but share a communal meadow to graze their cows. While this would appear a perfect model to prove the tragedy-of-the-commons theory, Ostrom discovered that in reality there were no problems with overgrazing. That is because of a common agreement among villagers that one is allowed to graze more cows on the meadow than they can care for over the winter—a rule that dates back to 1517. Ostrom has documented similar effective examples of “governing the commons” in her research in Kenya, Guatemala, Nepal, Turkey, and Los Angeles.

Based on her extensive work, Ostrom offers eight principles for how commons can be governed sustainably and equitably in a community.

The eight principles are anchored on principles of concern and nurturance, or love, which in turn results in long-term optimized use of natural resources that then becomes the foundation of the local economy.

The English word “economics” is from the Greek word “oikonomos” which meant the “management of the household”. And the Chinese knew that if the household was secure, progressive, healthy and productive, then the village would be just fine, and if the villages were doing well, then the town would do well, and if the towns were all doing well then the province and regions and the whole country would be doing fabulous. The global order would be peaceful and progressive when countries are peaceful and progressive with one not trying to over-extract from another to the point of hurting the other.

What can we make of the unraveling of the global economic order created after World War II and has resulted in unbearable inequality and negation of whole peoples that we are now gripped by the hate of terrorism and failed politics? Indeed, to me it means we need to put love back as the foundation of the economy and future columns will look at how that might happen.
Published in Commentaries
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 11:32

Fiscal functions in federal system

THE GOVERNMENT, in general, maintains three main functions: stabilization, distribution, and allocation. Musgrave’s theory of public finance delineates the functions that will be assigned to federal government, to state government and local governments. The distribution and allocation functions of the states and local government are guided by the principle of efficiency and resource effectiveness; stabilization as an incumbent function of the federal government is rationalized by virtue of economies of scale.

The stabilization function is assigned to the federal government in maintaining stable aggregate demand, fiscal policies and sustaining stable prices. It is highly effective when carried by the federal government because competition of tiers of government is not possible in the stabilization function; instead it discourages differentiation of income levels across territories.

The distribution function is aimed at achieving the ethical notions of appropriate treatment of equals as equal. This function largely refers to tax assignments and transfer programs to achieve level of economic efficiency where desirable household incomes are maintained. Again, the aim is to ensure equal treatment of the equals. To this, the federal government takes care of this function.

The allocation function is handled by the state and local government. The government in the local tiers fills the gap within juridical territories where the market would fail. The production of public goods such as infrastructures, social services, health and education are provided because the state and local governments know better the demands of their citizens more than the ability of the federal government. The primacy of the state government in the allocation function is borne by the proximity principle. Rationally, the proximity of the government is the best barometer in deciding what public goods is demanded.

The state also maintains advantage in allocation function given the nature of the demand of geographically grouped citizens within a territory as it is highly defined and specific. Thus, when the state provides public goods, this is much closer to of any citizen’s demand. On the other hand, the production function in providing the public goods maintains constant returns to scale where inputs are private resource with rival characteristics. Here, the market will become inefficient: supply of the goods will be scarce while demand is very high due to the close uniformity of the revealed preferences of the public. This superimposes the market functions. The state government is obliged to intervene to ensure that citizens enjoy as equal are treated as equal. To this, every individual will have equity of access to government services. Note here, the term used is equity. This suggests that those who are weak, marginalized and helpless get the biggest attention of the government in terms of social services, education, health, early childhood education. However, this is costly if bannered by one state alone; this is costly on the budget. Though, this is also espoused in the inclusive growth principle in a unitary government; yet it remains a theory because the ability of the unitary government is highly limited and deeply narrowed by rent-seeking behaviors in the bureaucracy. In unitary government, the name of the game is log-rolling and pork barrel. Very costly and quickly depreciates ethics of service. In federal system, there will be no more pork barrel; there will be no more log-rolling. The budget is as good as what is spent by the government. In federal government, padding, cuts and shares, all the SOPs will be reduced if not totally eliminated. I was asked, is this possible? This is already a culture in the government? It can be changed. The substance takes the form of the container. Unitary is highly susceptible to corruption, and thus government spending is deeply laden with corruption. The exact opposite is federalism. This encourages ethics of governance and direct accountability of the government to the governed. The distance of the government is the first proof to this; the government is very near to the people it governs.
Published in Commentaries
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 06:52

CDP holds its 13th National Council Meeting

The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) – Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya will be having its 13th National Council Meeting on May 5, 2017 at Hotel Vicente, Davao City, Philippines to discuss and further its local and national initiatives in pursuing a Federal-Parliamentary Philippines as one of its major advocacies.

More than a hundred of elected representatives from different CDP chapters around the country will be attending. Aside from the elected delegates coming from various cities, municipalities and provinces, CDP elective officials through its organized group Simula ng Bagong Umaga Landasin (SIBUL) headed by Cong. Maximo Rodriguez, Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP), and the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) are also expected to participate.

There will be a reading, adoption, and approval of the Minutes of the 12th National Council (NC) Meeting and the present Agenda of the 13th National Council Meeting. Atty. Rufus B. Rodriguez, the Centrist Democratic Party President, will give the open remarks and the introduction before the council.

Reports regarding the update from the Office of the National Secretariat, Sector Associations (CDYAP and SIBUL) and updates from all chapters will be presented. Hon. Maximo B. Rodriguez, Second District of Cagayan de Oro City Representative and the CDP-SIBUL Chairperson, will present the legislative initiatives of CDP in the House of Representatives.

The council meeting will also hold discussions and approval on the CDP Operations Management and Oversight Board Workshop, Proposed Amendments of the Constitution and Bylaws, Proposed Working Documents of the Thematic Commissions.

The party chairperson will report on the strategic recruitment, nationwide Federalism campaign, and progress report of the CDPI Fellows’ initiatives. The concluding message will be given by the party president.
Published in News
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 06:45

CDP holds 8th National Congress

The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines will hold its 8th National Congress on May 6, 2017 at Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City, Philippines.

The program will commence with the welcome remarks of Atty. Rufus B. Rodriguez, the CDP President. Afterwards, there will be a presentation of formulated resolutions during the 13th National Council Meeting to be lead by Mr. Jordan Jay C. Antolin, the Secretary General of the Centrist Democratic Party and the Executive Director of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute.

One of the main highlight of this event is the keynote message to be delivered by the Senator President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel.

The program will be capped off with a solidarity message from the CDP Chairman, Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana.
Published in News
Saturday, 22 April 2017 11:36

End the NFA monopoly!

The recent controversy about rice importation is not about how much should be imported — in fact, there is no impending rice shortage—but about who should have control over whatever may be imported.

No impending crisis. In “The global market post – 2008 rice crisis era,” Rice Today, April-June 2017, Samarendu Mohanty writes: “The 2007-08 rice price spike seems like a distant dream now considering the calmness in the rice market in the past few years despite El Niño and other weather-related scares. Rice prices in the international market have been very stable after a steep decline in 2013. The record production in 2016-17 … has kept the prices stable.” The world rice inventory is 20 percent of total demand, which is a healthy 5 percent above what it was in the rice price crisis in 2007.

Dr. Mohanty heads the Social Science Division of the International Rice Research Institute (Irri). He recently reported that Philippine rice stocks are sufficient for 46 days and, moreover, that annual rice consumption per Filipino has fallen by about 20 kilos in the past 10 years. Per capita consumption was below 100 kilograms in the 1960s-1990s, and then rose to over 140 kg by 2007, but is close to 120 kg now.

The government’s Rice and Corn Situation and Outlook expects production in the second quarter of 2017 to be 7.7 percent above that of the first quarter, which in turn was 15.2 percent above that of the first quarter in 2016. Meanwhile, the average Philippine retail price of regular milled rice was 37.08 per kilo in the second week of April 2017, or only 1.0 percent over that at the same time last year.

“Rice from abroad is cheaper than domestically produced rice.” This is bluntly stated by economists Roehlano M. Briones, Ivory Myka Galang, and Lovely Ann Tolin, of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, in “Quantitative restrictions on rice imports: issues and alternatives,” PIDS Policy Notes, March 2017.

The production cost per kg of palay (rough rice) is only P6.53 in Vietnam, versus P12.41 in the Philippines. The root cause is inadequate geography—the lack of wide, flat irrigated plains—coupled with a fast-growing population. In short, it does not make economic sense for the Philippines to aim for food security based on domestic production.

However, since time immemorial, the National Food Authority has had the sole legal authority to import rice. Unfortunately, you or I or any ordinary person may not simply place an order for rice from abroad. Its legal monopoly gives the NFA the leverage to exact huge favors/rents/bribes from those to whom it gives—more accurately, sells—licenses to import. This leverage is what the quarreling is actually about.

The simplest, and best, solution is to allow anyone to freely import (as well as export, when called for) rice of any amount, at his own expense and risk. This is the stance of the community of professional Filipino economists, including the Foundation for Economic Freedom.

This column is somewhat ex cathedra since I’ve been a rice economist. I apprenticed at Irri, did my master’s on the response of rice farmers to price, and my doctorate on the diffusion of new rice varieties in Central Luzon. I handled agricultural economics at the UP School of Economics, until Arsenio Balisacan took over. I worked with Rafael Salas, when he was Ferdinand Marcos’ “rice czar,” and also with the Rice and Corn Administration.

I once estimated that the annual retail price of a ganta of rice in Manila in 1956-67 fell by only 1.54 centavos for every extra 100,000 tons of imports, compared to 9.73 centavos for the same amount of production. The reason the price-impact of imports was so small? The market knew that rice was imported only during election years. See “The effect of importation on the price of rice,” Philippine Review of Business and Economics, December 1968.
Published in Commentaries
MANILA – The Philippine economy will lead Southeast Asia in terms of growth in the next two years due to higher public spending and robust consumption, the International Monetary Fund said.

Gross domestic product will likely grow 6.8 percent this year and 6.9 percent in 2018, outpacing second-placer Vietnam, and followed by Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, the IMF said in a report Tuesday.

Including other developing economies in Asia, the Philippines will grow faster than China, but will fall behind the region’s leader, India, the IMF said.

“In these economies, the near-term pickup in growth is underpinned to a significant extent by stronger domestic demand and, in the Philippines, by higher public spending in particular,” the lender said.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers unveiled “Dutertenomics,” an ambitious plan to grow the economy by building P8-trillion in infrastructure.

These include Mindanao’s first railway and a subway for Metro Manila, where chronic traffic jams result in daily economic losses of P2.4 billion according to a Japanese study.

Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the government was targeting growth of 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year and 7 to 8 percent next year.

"One of the thrusts of the Philippine Development Plan is accelerating strategic infrastructure development. This is the bedrock of the Philippine Development Plan towards an economy that continues to grow and in an inclusive fashion," he said on Tuesday.

First quarter GDP data will be released in May. The economy grew 6.9 percent in 2016.
Published in News
Thursday, 20 April 2017 07:36

Of queridas and governance

Last of 2 parts

EH Diyos ko naman! Kayo naman eh. Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend?” (Oh, my God! Come on. Who does not have a girlfriend?) This was House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez speaking to reporters on March 30, 2017 (abs-cbn.com).

But first a disclaimer: I don’t have a querida, never had one. At the ripe age of seven-plus decades, I thought of having one and sought the permission of my wife, Sylvia. She laughed! That was her reaction.

Part 1 of this two-part article discussed the women in history who exerted influence on men in public life who were not their husbands; from the ancient Greek Hetaerae to the French courtesans to the geishas and even the women of the papacy.

This article will focus on the implications of the recent public outrages by the mistresses of politically powerful persons in government; and the pronouncements by the principals to justify what could be a justiciable offense of concubinage and betrayal of public trust. I leave this issue for the legal minds to ponder. I will attempt to explain the cultural and moral underpinnings of these relationships.

Querida system

Tomes have been written by authors dissecting this phenomenon from different viewpoints: from the cultural, moral and religious aspects. Simply put, the querida system is an arrangement where a married man takes in a mistress more often leading to the establishment of another family, keeping this undisclosed from the legitimate wife and family.

Anthropologists posit that in prehistoric and ancient times, the union between a female and a male is simply a mechanism for the survival of the species. It has of course undergone changes over time assigning to the male the prerogatives of dominance over the female in the propagation of the species. This arrangement over eons became entrenched, with the male protecting the female and his issues.

Anthropologists and moralists have differed on how to define this union. But they may have reached an intellectual rapprochement with the injection of the concept of religion, where morality was more defined and categorized. But even in the dawn of formal religion, Judaism, Christianity and later Islam had conflicting takes on this union – which now took upon itself a certain legitimacy through the rituals and formality of “marriage”.

It is in the development of Catholicism that the union of man and woman – the “sacrament of marriage” is scrutinized and the parallel context of infidelity. Catholic doctrine interpreted Jesus’ attendance in the marriage ceremony in Cana as the approval of marriage between a man and a woman as being good. But even during the intervening years, the law of Moses on divorce still prevailed. Only in the Council of Verona in 1184 was marriage instituted as a sacrament. The medieval Catholic Church’s imposition of the sanctity of marriage and the indissolubility of the union was equated to the fidelity of Christ to his church.

Fast forward to the present. The question on the streets is that marriage—how sacred it is supposed to be in the eyes of the Catholic Church is still a union of mere mortals. What mechanism is created for marriage dissolution when love–the edifying modern ingredient that binds and coats marriages—is no longer present. A hundred countries spanning the religious spectrum have arrived at such mechanism. Only the Philippines and the Vatican believe that marriages “technically are indissoluble”, thus no divorce law was ever passed. This is attributed more to the power of the Church to sway the political leadership to its position. Our dysfunctional laws on marriage buttressed by the power and influence of the Church are crafted to preserve an impossible union, no matter what. A half-hearted solution “legal separation,” was introduced. The anomaly is the Church allows dissolution only within strictest limits. But statistics show mostly the rich and the well-connected can afford to avail of it. This is one of the main reasons why the querida system is resorted to by countless of Filipino males, the easier path of escape from an oppressively untenable union.

What concerns us now is not simply the double standard of morality, that Filipino society tolerates men indulging in discreet extra-marital relations while women are condemned if they do the same, but the objection to the flaunting of such relationships by men gifted by the electorate to serve and govern. We boast that we are a society that believes in the rule of law. And by these precepts, our leadership must be held to its high standards.

The Revised Penal Code decrees such behavior as criminal and prescribes jail and other penalties for the offense. The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713) proscribe such behavior as being inimical to the public interest.

There are so many examples of these peculiar open arrangements by powerful personages vested with political power, beginning with Speaker Alvarez and his erstwhile ally Congressman Floirendo, the public squabble of whose queridas started a vortex of speculation in social media. Alvarez’s infamous declaration quoted above was answered by Congressman Tony Boy by his profound silence. But his mistress was not bereft of words in his defense.

Just recently, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered Aklan Mayor Denny Refol suspended for six months because of an extramarital affair. Like Alvarez, Refol in his defense said that only few politicians have no mistresses or affairs.

But the more famous ones have not been touched by the law: former President Joseph Estrada, former senator Ramon Revilla Sr., even the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

And of course, the most celebrated is our current President, the Deegong who has not only defended Alvarez but has been open about his “many girlfriends.”

Sadly, our government officials with extramarital affairs justify such liaisons as totally irrelevant from the efficacy of good governance. Their cynical defense simply describes a corrupt moral judgment and the depth of ethical ignorance about good governance. It ridicules the rule of law – that everyone is equal and none above.

Some have advanced the idea that the law needs changing and should allow divorce as one mechanism for marriage dissolution—perhaps offering a partial solution to the querida problem.
Published in Commentaries
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 09:36

Firetrucks deal to push through, after all

The controversial deal to purchase firetrucks from Austria, which led to the sacking of former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, will go ahead in the absence of a Supreme Court order blocking it, a ranking Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) official said Tuesday.

Epimaco Densing III, DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs, said the project to buy 76 Rosenbauer firetrucks would continue, with 14 units expected to arrive at the Batangas City port within the day.

“It will proceed. There is no TRO (temporary restraining order). There was a question about the first delivery but the Supreme Court did not issue a TRO,” Densing said. “And this is a perfected contract. We’re just implementing a perfected contract.”

The DILG had acquired an initial batch of Rosenbauer firetrucks under former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in 2013 but this was questioned before the Supreme Court due to allegations of overpricing.

Sueno went to Austria in January for the acquisition of another batch of 76 firetrucks.

Critics claimed that Sueno ignored a DILG legal opinion advising prudence in paying for the first batch of firetrucks under Roxas since there was a pending case in the Supreme Court.

President Duterte questioned Sueno about the DILG legal opinion but the former DILG chief claimed he had not seen it. Mr. Duterte then fired Sueno.

Densing said however that the two contracts to acquire the firetrucks were cleared by the Department of Finance, the Department of Justice, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the National Economic Development Authority.

“The DILG legal opinion advised prudence in paying for the project but the first scheduled payment is still (in 2021) under the terms of the loan,” he said.“Let us also remember that this is a perfected contract and a government-to-government transaction. Austria is one of the countries in the world which has the least corrupt practices in the world,” he said.

“They will not have a contract with our government and have corrupt activities in between,” he added.

Densing also said that the firetrucks would actually cost P3.8 million based on the favorable loan terms that the government got.

“So, compared to the P7 million we would pay if we buy a firetruck on the spot, each Rosenbauer firetruck will cost only P3.8 million. So, it’s more affordable and it’s of high quality,” he added.

Densing said he wasn’t aware if the President’s concerns were addressed.

“This is an issue (between) the President and former Secretary Sueno and again, whoever the president wants removed from his Cabinet, that’s his choice,” Densing said.

“Nobody can question it. He’s not even required to investigate,” he added.

But lawyer Leo Romero, who had petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the deal, insisted that President Duterte fired Sueno precisely for the anomalies surrounding the purchases.

In a five-page letter dated April 17, Romero reminded acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy that it was “public knowledge” that Sueno was fired “upon the ‘first whiff’ of graft and corruption in the questioned trip to Austria for meetings and negotiations with the officials of Rosenbauer.”

He said that Bureau of Fire Protection chief Bobby Baruelo issued an order in March directing the BFP Inspection and Acceptance Committee to proceed with the acquisition despite the controversy.

Baruelo’s order was “bereft of any legal and factual basis” and should not be followed, Romero stressed.

He said the Legal and Legislative Liaison Service of the DILG in fact had released a legal opinion on Oct. 26, 2016, advising Sueno to suspend the procurement project.

Romero said the Office of the Solicitor General had also informed the Supreme Court that it was withdrawing its services as counsel of the BFP and the DILG after it found their “position (on the case) irreconcilable.”

He said Baruelo’s directive was part of “an ongoing brazen attempt” by some unscrupulous BFP officials to “countermand” the DILG’s legal opinion and the President’s order.
Published in News
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