Tuesday, April 15, 2008


By the look of things, the rice crisis will linger on and on. Much longer than we expect. So, either we follow the advice of the “brilliant” Sec. Arthur Yap by reducing our consumption of rice or shift to kamote for our staple food. I couldn’t imagine such opacity coming from a cabinet member.

Meanwhile, our President during the Rice Summit at Mimosa, Clark Air Base offered a palliative solution by promising funds: three billion for agriculture research and development; six billion for irrigation; six billion for other agricultural infrastructures; two billion for post harvest facilities; and 500 million for fertilizer support aside from five billion for allocation for rice loans through Land Bank.

My bosom friend, Executive Director of Philippines Development Assistance Program, Inc. (PDAP) Jing Pacturan who attended the Rice Summit doubts if such promises will come to fruition. He added, “with the object of PGMA to balance the budget, how can she do more spending for agriculture?”

All these promises of PGMA may go for naught. Pacturan stated that he is one of the directors in the Development Assistance National Organic Agricultural Program Board with 200 Million earmarked in the budget. Yet, not a single centavo has been disbursed to the Board. Jing was also worried that the additional proposal of PGMA in the summit of allowing CARP lands as loan collateral will most likely put the farmers in so much debt, negating the noble purposes of the land reform program.

Honestly, I don’t believe PGMA anymore when it comes to whatever programs she has vowed to do to alleviate the plight of our people, especially the poor. With the price of gasoline and consumer products like flour skyrocketing, we have the prospects of having our populace getting more famished now and onwards.

The palliative solutions of the President and the opaque advice of her secretary has even come too late.

The problem on rice shortage was seen to loom into a crisis in Asian countries way back in 1996. 18 countries in Asia drafted a food security agenda popularly known as The Bangkok Declaration as input to the World Food Summit (WFS), designed to prevent such crisis to occur. It called for the democratic control of food production and distribution by those who produce food. It implies that food production should be reserved for national producers in both developing and developed countries. Foreign trade is seen only as a complement to national production. (The Bangkok Declaration 1996)

This was strengthened further with the introduction of the concept of food sovereignty defined as “the right of countries and people to define their own food and agricultural policies that are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate”.(NGO Forum 2002)

In contrast to such declaration however, the Declaration of the World Food Summit (WFS) by Heads of State, among them PGMA, emphasized trade liberalization as indispensable to ensuring world food security. Its Plan of Action argues that trade liberalization means lower prices and higher incomes.

Said differently, instead of producing our staple food for our people and have control over our food production to ensure that the belly of every Filipino will be full, our government acceded to produce other products thereby, undermining the food security of our people.

As a result of such policy adapted by our government, we lost our food security. This simply means throwing away rice production as a priority to make rice available, accessible and affordable to all. Instead, all around the island of Mindanao, we see sugarcane, bananas, pineapples, rubber and palm trees being planted to cater the needs of other countries. Our government since 1998 has then started importing rice forgetting the development of our land for rice production. In the advent of the new millennium, rice crisis set in our nation to our almost irreversible level.

Way back in the 80’s, I worked with NEDA and was assigned as a deskman for the development of Agusan del Sur. A discussion with a certain Engr. Billy Emphasis of NIA showed me a picture on how hunger would be prevented. He said if we develop the entire Agusan Marshland for rice production, Mindanao will have sufficient rice. Obviously, this was not given much attention by our government.

Finally, Jing Pacturan of PDAP sees successes as they push for organic rice farming. Such a program though long term is the most strategic approach to solving the rice crisis than any other the short term solution being proposed right now. It is also environmentally sound and in line with the global trend to go natural. I’m with you Jing!

Friday, March 28, 2008


Unbeknownst to the Catholic Bishops, in the midst of the embroilment between the so-called Mapalad Farmers and San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI) over the 144 hectares of land in Sumilao, Bukidnon, there lurk undisclosed facts and unresolved issues.

I happen to have taken hold of various documents showing how the implementation of agrarian reform was first curtailed by the Norberto Quisumbing Sr. Management and Development Corporation (NQSr-MDC), despite clear mandate of the law to have the land covered under the agrarian reform program. Thereafter, the selection of beneficiaries went haywire.

Here are the hard facts. The subject land bearing Title No. T-14371 in the name of NQSr.-MDC had already been placed under the agrarian reform coverage way back January 31, 1990 by the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer of Sumilao, Bukidnon, the late Maximo N. Valmores, Sr. A Notice of Compulsory Acquisition of the 144 hectares was served to NQSr.-MDC on October 25, 1991 informing the said landowner that the distribution of the land to qualified farmer beneficiaries has commenced.

Meanwhile, DAR administrative machinery had already screened and qualified a group of farm workers from Del Monte Philippines Inc. (DMPI). The land, which was then leased to DMPI for 10 years, had been planted with pineapples. Hence, the actual tillers of the land were the pineapple plantation workers who toiled in making the subject landholding productive.

In order to prevent the pineapple workers from taking over as owners of the land, NQSr-MDC was able to secure an Order from the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) restraining coverage of the land under the agrarian reform program on the ground that the company had yet to finish its contract with DMPI.

In order to further prevent the Del Monte farm workers, who already formed a cooperative, from taking ownership of the land, NQSr-MDC formed its own puppet cooperative, albeit unregistered, named San Vicente Agrarian Reform Cooperative.

However, sensing that it could still evade the agrarian coverage, NQSr-MDC applied for conversion of the land into an agro-industrial zone. It was a clever act to exempt the land from agrarian coverage. Such chicanery of NQSr-MDC caught the ire of San Vicente Agrarian Reform Cooperative, now known to all as the Mapalad farmers, who became the main adversary of NQSr-MDC. NQSr-MDC did not know then that its own creation, with the support of local and foreign NGOs, would turn into a monstrous beast that would gore its own maker.

Meanwhile, the application for conversion of NQSr-MDC was disapproved by then DAR Secretary Ernesto Garilao, he being an ally of some NGOs supporting the Mapalad farmers. The disapproval was later challenged before the Office of the Executive Secretary, where it was reversed.

Upon review of the Office of the President through the prodding of the media, then President Ramos arrived at his so called “win-win formula”, giving 44 hectares to NQSr-MDC and 100 hectares to the Mapalad farmers. This scheme flopped and was thrown into oblivion.

The dispute silently toned down and for several years no clamor could be heard. Surreptitiously, NQSr-MDC sold the landholding to San Miguel Foods Inc.

The clamor of the Mapalad farmers has taken a new life. They marched to Manila decrying that the land is now ready for coverage by virtue of the Supreme Court decision. They went to big institutions in Metro Manila such as Ateneo de Manila University for support and pitched a tent in front of DAR Central Office in Quezon City.

Media played up the outcry of Mapalad farmers but did not disclose the hard facts, among others, that these farmers are not the true tillers of the land. There were prior bona fide tillers who, for ten long years, worked on the land and planted it with pineapples. These true tillers, Del Monte farm workers, had been “sidelined”, so to speak.

It was not also disclosed by DAR that the first priority in the selection of beneficiaries are the tillers and not mere residents of the barangay or municipality where the land is situated. It was even learned that many members of the Mapalad farmers do not reside in Sumilao, Bukidnon.

So, the issue now is: who has superior rights as beneficiaries over the 144 hectares of land in Sumilao, Bukidnon? Since the subject land is not burdened with tenancy, aren’t the next most qualified beneficiaries the regular farmworkers who cultivated the land?

Besides, upon cursory reading of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, being a resident of the same barangay or municipality would not be an unbridled license to being an agrarian beneficiary. The law has given superior rights to the actual tillers in keeping with the dictum “land to the tillers”, from where the spirit of CARP was derived.

In the end, the unfinished story of the 144 hectares of agricultural land in Sumilao, Bukidnon portrays the desperate acts of a family corporation that adamantly held on to its land at the cost of negating the thrust of the government. Poignant but a reality like the story of Hacienda Luisita.

It is also an unfinished story of the erroneous implementation of the CARP in the distribution of the land to those who truly deserve to be awarded. This merits a long second look as hundreds of people may fall victim to the wrong application of the agrarian law. In the end, the Mapalad farmers may be found to be just mere “second rate trying hard copycats” of the true tillers of the land.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU), has been concluded as a multilateral agreement, albeit without the consent of Congress, between our country, China and Vietnam. It has since raised questions that involve international relations. Has our sovereignty been breached? What will happen if we abrogate the agreement, will China go to war against us? If we insist on holding on to Spratlys, will we in the end be under the subjugation of China, the fast rising hegemon in Asia?

As a country, we have long been under the control of other colonizers. For more than a hundred years, we have been influenced by the United States of America, also known to us (depends on where you stand) as the benevolent Uncle Sam or a fierce bald eagle that has snatched us with its talons.

In high school some thirty years ago, so many questions had bothered me involving the U.S. We have treated the U.S. as a big brother who allegedly fought with us toe to toe during the Second World War. So we defeated Japan but why is Japan more prosperous now? We revere Gen. McArthur for returning to our country after he chickened out in Corregidor. Did McArthur really love us when history would reveal that the first person he killed is a Filipino Guerilla, a patriot for us during the Filipino-American War? Why did my lola tell me that the Americans during the war were so cruel, killing all the animals including dogs and cats on their island in order to starve the inhabitants and leaving every town with so much stench of the decaying carcass? Isn’t the U.S. our benefactor who even taught us how to read and write in their own language?

The reality has revealed itself. The Philippines is such a small, poor country that we were bullied by bigger countries and we could do nothing about it. The Americans never cared. They wanted us as a “punch” in Asia, a launching pad for their bombs against China and Vietnam during the cold war. Its domination makes us a sure market for their “stateside” products and a cheap source of labor for their multinational corporations.

Yet, these days another story is taking place. The hegemony of China over Asia has now become a stark reality while the power of the U.S. has plummeted together with its dollars. As they say “God made the Earth but all the rest are made in China”.

Now, the question is, if we have the option, with whom do we side, China or the United States?

The U.S. has taken so much advantage of us and its vestiges of exploitation have indelibly remained not only in our surroundings but in our veins. It has raped our economy and their soldiers have literally feasted on the flesh of our women.

But look at China. It has for so long slowly crept into our country’s economy and social life. Its people have dominated our institutions, including businesses and even politics. Once considered outcasts in our country, now the Chinese have become part of us and our families have intermarriages with Chinamen and women.

Mainland China has opened trade relations with us despite our open exchange and negotiations with Taiwan. Yet, either in trading, such as the ZTE deal, or in an international agreement, our administration does not seem to know its way.

At the time when we have started setting a favorable atmosphere for diplomatic relations with China involving our resources, our President, the lucky bitch, had to bungle it. She ignored protocols and undermined the powers of Congress.

Nevertheless, in the bigger picture, the choice of which side to take does not rest on us. It is the more powerful country that decides. But my bet is on China, which may be symbolized by a panda bear. It is better to hug a bear than to always be in the claws of a lousy bald eagle.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


It is amusing to hear City Treasurer Lino Daral acting as a messenger of doom for the city when he declared that the city will be losing 50 million pesos due to the accreditation of Del Monte under the umbrella of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). The council took a ride on the ominous declarations of Daral and made 180 degree turn. It then passed a resolution defying the tax exemptions granted to eco-zone facilities.

But who really cares? Does Lino Daral really care? Are the city folks really bothered by the situation? Nobody seems to respond to such a call to support our city to earn more revenue except Licayan and his cohorts kowtowing to Mayor Tinnex.

True enough, if we look closely into our national as well as the local tax system, we would know it is a reflection of the values of those in power. Our tax system is heavily influenced by our politicians and our people are left always in a quandary why they are imposed with so much tax burdens and yet, no substantial projects come back to them.

When it comes to projects, how are our taxes being utilized? A cursory look at the ZTE deal through the testimonies of various witnesses at the Senate gives us a glimpse of where our taxes go. It showed that about 2/3 of our taxes is pocketed by our politicians through high handed methods.

The scheme is not difficult to understand. The government would enter into an agreement to implement a project, the payment of which would be borrowed from a financial entity. The project will be priced so highly, say at $360,000,000, like the ZTE deal, the true project cost of which is only $130,000,000. Meaning, $230,000,000 will go to the pockets of the politicians and their conspirators while we end up paying the loan and its interests through our taxes.

Our city is a miniature example and even a travesty of the big deals in the national government. So many times, Zaldy Ocon would broadcast over the radio on how the city would borrow money to buy very expensive lands, a big chunk of the money borrowed would go to the pockets of our local leaders. Then we pay Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) from where we borrowed the money through our local taxes. Such happened to our “piso-piso” projects in Calaanan and some other parts of the city which were declared to be anomalous, irregular and violative of the graft and corrupt practices act by the COA Special Audit Team.

Our local leaders also borrowed hundreds of millions from Land Bank for the construction of a public market in Bulua which was also found to have been grossly overpriced together with the road in Taguanao and a bridge near the desecrated Huluga Heritage Site. We and our children will be paying for such loans through our taxes. Deep inside, we know where the bigger portions of the money went.

Curiously, interviews with some executives in Del Monte revealed that the taxes they are paying yearly is less than 50 million pesos. How could our city lose 50 million when the company will not stop paying taxes other than those exempted through the PEZA?

The PEZA was designed to industrialize the country, for more jobs and expansion of capital investments. Instead of paying direct taxes, the PEZA accredited company is supposed to share 5% of its income, 2% of which will go directly to the local government. Simply said, if Del Monte will earn more profits this year, it will share 2% of its profits which may spell out millions of pesos for Cagayan de Oro. How then could the city lose?

There is a need for Lino Daral and some of our Kagawads to revisit the noble intentions of PEZA law before jumping into conclusions.

When the city council took back its endorsement through the Kagawads, did this resolution invalidate the PEZA accreditation granted by no less than the President of the Republic herself?
Isn’t this accreditation a fait accompli or an accomplished fact and therefore, irreversible?

In the end, more taxes for the city or less, we the citizens end up the losers just the same. So, who really cares? At the rate the BIR is filing cases on the alleged violations of taxpayers, taxation is now considered a power to destroy and not a manner of redistribution of our wealth. Duh!

Monday, March 3, 2008


While the Bishops in Manila are preoccupied with egging everyone to break the culture of corruption, here in Cagayan de Oro, Rodelsa Hall of Liceo de Cagayan University has been abuzz over the staging of a show for lent – Jesus Christ: Superstar. Thus, for an hour or two, I disabused my mind from too much politics and started assuming unto myself the sacredness of the coming Passion and Cross.

Jesus Christ: Superstar staged by the locals, mostly students and employees of Liceo de Cagayan University, is an adaptation of a rock opera of the same title by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Judas Iscariot, however, took center stage not only as the betrayer of Jesus but as one who tried so hard to understand their situation in such a milieu.

The portrayal of the role of Mary Magdalene, by one whose name is that of our Muslim sisters, Princess Aline Nonieh Zorayda Improso, is almost world-class and comparable to, if not better than, those trained in Manila.

After viewing the show, I felt Cagayan de Oro is giving birth to something so important, something “significant” and something that our community should not ignore. Most of the shows staged in Cagayan de Oro that may be considered “significant” have always been undertaken by foreign or Manila artists.

The last time I saw a Broadway musical performed here in Cagayan de Oro by the locals was an interpretation of CATS more than thirty years ago. It was presented at an audio-visual room by college students of Xavier University. Lately, I was told Xavier was a venue for an ethnic cultural play entitled “Ming” written by a playwright from Mindanao State University.

Culture here in Cagayan de Oro has been virtually dormant, if not dying. It had been totally disregarded and only our educational institutions are trying to promote those which may be considered worthy of presenting.

Liceo de Cagayan is inevitably doing a service to the city as the city itself has not looked into the promotion of our culture or the preservation of our heritage, except recently, when the Honorable Tinnex dissolved the group supposed to be incharge of preserving our culture. They were found to be an additional yet unproductive expense for our debt-ridden city. Now, I was told the new mayor is looking seriously into old issues that affect our heritage. Way to go Tinnex!

To all the cast of Jesus Christ: Superstar and its Director and the entire Liceo de Cagayan University family who are giving their share to the city’s culture – bravo!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


The late Justiniano “Tinieng” R. Borja, the venerable and most decorated Mayor of Cagayan de Oro City, once wrote:

Life is a gift, and what a gift it is! I have learned that the more you give of yourself, the more you have the gift of life; That he who forgets self and gives all that he is entirely and devotedly to something or somebody; And he who lives for justice and truth without caring for the consequences, receives a thousand times more than he gives.”

Among the gifts he left behind is a hospital that he built as a Mayor in the early 60’s. After his demise, the hospital was named after him.

More than forty years have passed and the original building of the hospital has started to crumble down. The services that have been rendered to the Cagayan de Oro’s ailing populace have become too insignificant that the poor has started to rely, when it comes to health services, not on its own local government, but on foreigners, specifically the German Doctors.

The city hospital has virtually become a white elephant, useless yet expensive. To some, it has become a milking cow that enriches their pockets instead of a venue to heal health maladies of Cagayanons. Jokes have circulated comparing the city hospital’s patients to be like dreams that have reached Mona Lisa’s doorsteps: “They just lie there, and they die there!”

Nevertheless, a few employees determined to bring life anew to the ailing, emaciated hospital came out in the open when they saw hope in the initial governance of the new Mayor, the Honorable Tinnex Jaraula. They unearthed the manner in which corruption and irregularities were committed by a few people. They decided to file anti-graft and corruption charges against those who have pillaged the coffers of the city through the hospital.

These good souls laid bare the truth through their sworn statements that enumerated anomalies after anomalies in the purchase of medicines, hospital supplies, medical equipment and apparatus.

Consider the following anomalous purchases found in the affidavits of Rhodora Christine B. Patana, Judyflor D. Daculiat, Nicomedes Bactong, Lorna Monterola, Esmeralda Tejada, Artesia Zenaida Latar, Malou Villamor, Quennie Lynn Abrogar, Sharon Rose Damolo, Judith Lim, Chona Pepania and Floramae Ortega:

On Medicines:

In several instances, the city hospital bought from ECE Marketing antibiotics particularly, Tazocin (4.5 gm) that was nearing its expiry date at a price P3,058.00 per vial. The same antibiotic was also bought from Mckline Enterprises at P3,057.00 per vial. But upon inquiry from Mercury Drugs, the drugstore sells the same antibiotic at P2,571.00 per vial. Worse, the hospital pharmacy sells the said antibiotic to poor patients at a price of P3,363.80, almost P800.00 more than the selling price of Mercury Drugs.

The hospital also bought Dopamine HCL at a price of P949.00. Yet, this kind of medicine was bought by the hospital from a different company at only P110.00 per vial. This reveals the overprice of more than 800%.

There were also medicines that were already paid for by the hospital and yet were not delivered after one year.

The purchases of some medicines were also so voluminous that they merely file up in the inventories in the stock room of the hospital.

On Medical Supplies:

There is only one supplier that provides about 80% of purchases for medical supplies. The procurement of medical supplies from February 2006 to July 2007 from Berovan Marketing has reached a staggering amount of P3,472,285.85.

The supplies, comprise among others, alcohol which was bought at P80.00 per bottle but could be bought at about P50.00 per bottle in any drugstore. There was a purchase of forceps in the amount of P3,600.00 per pair which could be bought from the ordinary pharmacy at P1,200.00. Again, this exposes an overprice of 200%.

The hospital also bought from Berovan Marketing a Food Conveyor that could contain only 36 trays at a price of P110,000.00 but the invoice showed that the hospital paid P119,500.00 (about the price of a multicab). The food conveyor easily rusted and did not even command a price of P50,000.00.

Moreover, the purchases were clearly in violation of RA 9184 known as “Government Procurement Reform Act”. There were practically no quotations submitted by at least three (3) various suppliers and did not undergo the required procedure for purchasing.

On Hospital Supplies:

The City Hospital through Dr. Jerie Calingasan made “Emergency Purchases” which are not emergency in character. Among the hospital “purchases” was a repair of a Toyota Tamaraw FX and a Kia Besta Ambulance which costs P131, 200.00. The money for the “purchases” allegedly came from the pocket of Dr. Calingasan and the vouchers show that he was reimbursed of the amount he supposedly “advanced”.

There were also purchases of hospital supplies, among others, eight (8) kilos of detergent powder at a price of P11,500.00 or an outrageous amount of P1,437.50 per kilo. A detergent powder like Tide could only be purchased at P70.00 per kilo. Meaning, the said detergent powder was purchased 2,000% more than its ordinary price.

For the year 2006 and part of 2007, Dr. Calingasan was reimbursed the amount P855, 939.17 purportedly due to the “advances” he made to the hospital. Where did he get his money? It surely is a lot more than his salary for the entire year.

On Hospital Equipment and Apparatus:

From February 2006 to July 2007, the hospital purchased Medical Equipment and Apparatus in the overwhelming amount of P14,025,000.00. An X-ray machine was purchased at P6,500,000.00, the capabilities of which is so limited that in the market, it did not even command a price of P3,000,00.00.

The surgical table which is unbranded or the so-called universal type barely costing P400,000.00 was purchased at P1,240,000.00. The price is clearly tripled at the expense of the taxpayers’ money.

The hospital also purchased an Anesthesia Machine in the amount of P1,985,000.00 which had since been malfunctioning and did not perform the desired function as expected, thereby endangering the lives of the patients. Upon proper scrutiny, it would show that this anesthesia machine was also highly overpriced.

So many anomalous transactions were entered into by the hospital prejudicing the coffers of the city. All these transactions, however, are shown in the vouchers appended in the Affidavit-Complaints. Payments were made through the approving officers of the City Hall namely: City Administrator Criscelda Joson, City Treasurer Lino Daral, City Accountant Wilma Rugay, City Auditor Olivia Flores and the highest approving officer then, City Mayor Vicente Y. Emano.

One is inclined to ask, is the city hospital truly a gift to us people of Cagayan de Oro? Or is it a curse that condemns our health rather than promote it?

In the statue of the late Mayor Justiniano R. Borja, the last lines go:

I have learned that the only immortality, the enduring and permanent things in a transient world, are truth, honor, decency and courage; And those who build their lives upon these intangibles of spirit, build upon foundations that can never be shaken by any force on earth.”

Truth, honor, decency and courage. I admire the few brave hospital employees who adhere to these “intangibles of spirit”. The corrupt leaders of the city and the hospital will one day realize that they are mortals and that their malevolent acts will forever remain in the memory of the living.

Thus, we pray in this Christmas season, a season of hope, that each one of us bestows gifts that will not be forever wasted… gifts of the intangibles of the spirit such as kindness to our fellow Cagayanons. Merry Christmas!

Monday, October 29, 2007


The question not often asked about the absolute pardon granted by GMA to then President Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada is: Who will ultimately benefit from such a pardon?

Consider the following:

Firstly, the power of executive clemency resides in GMA alone and no one else. She may at her own discretion forfeit such act of clemency or pardon at her own whim. In such a case, if Erap will create political havoc or even form a stronger force to quell GMA’s administration, the latter may so decide to place the former back where he rightfully belongs - the Bilibid Prisons.

Secondly, pardon is viewed as an “act of grace” from the President, done at the time when GMA is beleaguered with so many impeachable issues such as the ZTE deal and the payola to the governors. The act of being beneficent such as pardoning Erap was designed ultimately to dissipate such issues.

Thirdly, worded subtly in the letter of pardon, GMA does not anymore allow the former President to run for an elected position in the government. This actually violates the so-called unconditional pardon given to Erap as it does not restore complete civil and political rights on him but will forever hang the sword of Damocles over his head.

From the way it looks, the grant of pardon by GMA was made only for her political convenience and not for the general welfare of the nation. She will reap utmost benefits from such an act.

Many argue that the pardon will heal political wounds as it would eliminate the divisiveness and recrimination from the past. This is clearly hogwash. Our political wounds have become so deep-seated that they have long festered into a rotting economic situation, leaving our country dependent on OFW remittances. Such decadent result we know were inflicted upon the nation by these two giant politicos when they and their minions unmitigatingly commited plunder, emptying our coffers with their own selfish personal agenda in mind.

The pardon, to say the least, is simply an act of letting a convicted felon of hideous acts against our country go free, thereby sending a message to all that the rich and the politically powerful persons are above the law. The other plunderers could feel assuage by the fact that being a plunderer, he would easily be released from his criminal liabilities by the President in exchange for a political gain. Meanwhile, the wild party of corruption would go on and on at the expense of true justice.

To say the most, the pardon granted by GMA to Erap has opened a flood gate to more corruption, to more plunders, putting our country permanently with an indelible mark of being the most corrupt country in Asia.

I remember the time when the late Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, then Lady Chief Justice of the Supreme Court attended a Conference on Law in Greece about 30 years ago with almost two thousand legal luminaries in attendance. For two days, the brilliant minds of the law could not come up with even a single line of any legal precept that they envisioned to attain.

On the third day, they finally arrived at a concensus: “No one is above the law”.

Kings, princesses or heads of the states and even our own President must never be above the law.

Alas! This appears to be the exact opposite of what GMA has achieved in pardoning Erap. She has not only arrogantly appeared to be above the law, she has also elevated the politically powerful to be beyond the reach of law and justice. No doubt, this would lead us to a more politically chaotic nation as the “act of grace” of GMA is no less than a shrouded curse to the rest of the Filipino people.