Lunes, Marso 28, 2011

Pacquiao’s politically (in) correct No. 8 car plate

By Mortz C. Ortigoza
Media colleagues in Dagupan City who covered the training of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao in nearby Baguio City told me their stalking experiences before he goes to jog and train.
With national and local media men shoving and jostling to take a peek in a place outside the entrance of the Cooyeesan Hotel on who among them see first the convoy that includes a black SUV and a gold van of the Filipino superman that would emerge from the hotel’s car park.
As they scamper to their vehicles to give chase to the convoy’s  whose speed could be mistaken to ferry VIPs  like US Ambassador Harry Thomas (who looks like Light Heavyweight boxer James “Fat Man” Toney)” being rushed to Baguio General Hospital because of a vowel disorder, they would later found out that the SUV and the van turtle paced as they patiently followed Manny and his company who jog the hills and valleys of the cloud kissed Pines City.

‘So what intrigue you is the convoy could not overtake the speed of Manny and his company as they hit the road?,” I posed to  this pal who accidentally became a media man after he ran an errand to buy Datu Puti Vinegar and return home as newly minted member of the Fourth Estate in my city dubbed as the Bangus (Milkfish) Capital of the World.
“No my man, what intrigue me those dudes were being followed by an SUV with a plate number 8. What I know is a car plate in the Philippines is marked by three letters and three numbers, what this No. 8? “He posed to me wide-eyed.
“My man, you’re a nincompoop! Plate no. 8 is used by members of the House of Thieves, er, Representatives or congressmen in our country. We call it as protocol plate. It is issued for people to recognize important government functionaries".
According to a bigwig of the land transportation office, these plates are so sacred that it is No. 8 below in rank after Jesus Christ. President of the Philippines uses No. 1, Senators use No. 7, and Judges of the Regional Trial Court use No.16. 
"Some of these luminaries abuse these by whimsically cutting a two way lanes, and sometime overran anti-Pacquiao critics like you," I lectured my media pal over mugs of San Miguel draft beer at Shakey’s CSI Warehouse in Dagupan – the favourite hang-out of prolific boxing scribe Hermie Rivera.
My now bewildered but enlightened pal still wondered why Pacquiao used it to jog and not uses it to attend his duty as congressman at the August Chamber in Manila.
He wondered why the almost 283-strong members of the House used their plate numbered 8 SUVs as vehicles so they could vote recently for the Article of Impeachment of an allegedly corrupt and incompetent Ombudsperson (government chief prosecutor) who was identified with the likewise alleged corrupt former president Gloria Arroyo, while Manny used his plate numbered 8 SUV to relax at some coffee houses at either SM Mall or Camp John Hay while Congress (a four-hour drive only to his place in Baguio) was in session up to the wee hours during that time?   
He poses to me: “Would the Filipino superman still uses the same plate numbered big car to drink coffee, while his colleague vote in favour or against anytime from now to a Reproductive Health (RH) Bill  that could solve or aggravate the gnawing hardships our people suffer to our population that breed like rabbits?
 “But Manny was against condom and other contraceptives. He even quoted the Lord’s edict in the Bible to go and multiply?” I asked him.
“Would it be commonsensical and popular for the part of the pro-RH bill that Manny rides in his number 8 SUV and just drink coffee till Kingdom Come at some coffee houses there instead of casting his “No” vote in congress,” he retorted to my question with a query.
I told him that I could forgive Manny for that! But no Twitter for him, please!
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THE OVER ABUSED PROTOCOL PLATE. This is sample of a Philippine congressman's SUV with plate number 8. SUV like this sometimes lorded the city streets of the Philippines by crossing the flow of traffic with its own sirens,  armed body guards inside it, and its convoy of cars.
A moneyed "idiot" in the Philippines can win an election despite his low education or low intelligence like Senators Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla and the soon to be Senator Manny Pacquiao. The Philippine Constitution only asks that one of the few qualifications of a Philippine congressman is he/she knows how to read and write in English or the vernacular of his/her tribe. One's employment for clerkship in a government office in the Philippines is more intricate as the applicant needs to wave a college diploma and passed a barrage of tests that includes the tough Civil Service Examination that was bequeathed to the country by her American colonizers in the 1900s.

Sabado, Marso 26, 2011

How Philippine officials pocketed some loans from gov’t banks

The press conference called recently by the leadership of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in Region 1 and western Cordillera Autonomous Region was a treat.
I asked its beauteous Vice President, Filipina B. Monje, if they have measures to prevent inherently corrupt local government officials in the province, cities, and towns who embezzle some of the loaned monies lent by the bank to them.
“It is common knowledge among few members of the media that a portion of the monies lent by your bank for government projects were divided and pocketed by the chief executives and their cohorts at the lawmaking bodies,” I declared.
Monje said that LBP has a measure to discourage this shenanigan. She called this as”progress billing.” It means the bank releases the sum by tranches on the length of constructions of an infrastructure (government building, plaza, and others) as it progresses.
“So, pag nag submit iyung contractor, at nag-request iyung Local Government Unit ito ay pinupuntahan ng ating project appraisers,” she stressed.
Monje explained that the appraisers look for the completion of work the LGUs have submitted to them. She said the bank estimates the range of the cost of the construction then the head office of LBP in the area gives the cost of the project.
When I asked her if this “project billing” is tight proof to stave-out any misdemeanors by public officials, Monje told me that they complied with what Republic Act 9184(The Government Procurement Reform Act) mandates them to do.
In a huddle after the conference, she agreed to the observations that the other deterrence for government officials to commit graft and corruption were the laws on Commission on Audit, the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A 3019).
Despite these measures, I still wonder why our politicians can still do their sleight of hands by pocketing millions of precious government funds for their aggrandizement.
Take what a councilor in a town in Region 1 divulged to me.
He told me that a P70 million loan was eventually unanimously passed by his drooling colleague at the August Chamber. This after the opposition who composed the majority (six of them out of the ten members) successfully lobbied with the mayor to part each of the ten members a half-a-million pesos.
The P70 million loan were used to fund a public market.
With the P5 million cut diverted to these vultures at the Sangguninang Bayan and the conservatively P1 million “S.O.P (Standard Operational Procedure)” withheld by the hizzoner, the taxpayers in that local government unit are short changed by P6 million from the more than P70 million loan their constituents will pay yearly through the loan’s amortization’s that include of course the interest that made the Land Bank as the biggest lender of LGU’s in Pinoy Land.
Now for a perceptive reader like you, you would probably pose:” How the heck would these SOB thieves in the public service justify their project that cost less than P70 million to the supposedly meticulous eyes of the bank, the COA, and the media?
This after they construct a substandard public market that probably saw some cast irons (bituka) inside of its concrete walls made of cheaper bamboos as what a cemented drainage’s cover that was discovered in a town in Eastern Pangasinan after a hauler truck overran it?
This stealth thrown by our shrewd government officials to us are worth contemplating.
Susmariosep, this is world class! Was this the reason our pathetic government was included by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in the Far East lately?
Does it mean some of the vanguards in those government bodies I mentioned have something to do why corruptions thrive in our midst?
(You can read my other columns at can send comments too at

Miyerkules, Marso 23, 2011

Shame on you, Manny Pacquiao!

The "No Vote" of Manny (Filipino Superman except Superman’s handsome face) Pacquaio in Twitter was bad taste in the mouth. Voting him for congress work was a waste of precious government funds. He could not even attend a historical session recently that voted for an Article of Impeachment for the Senate to judge an alleged corrupt and incompetent Ombudsperson. The chap is only in Baguio-- a four-hour ride to the House of Representatives. Dereliction of Duty at its worst!
His political idiocy was exposed not only in this absence, but the way he reacted to members of Twitter: “Mag-reklamo kayo sa lolo (it should be lelong) niyong panot (You should complain to your bald grandpa),” he retorted to people at Twitters who criticized his absence in the hall of the House of Representatives last Monday.

Biyernes, Marso 18, 2011

Tax man in Jeep, Gadaffi's antidote vs dissent

by Mortz C. Ortigoza
Amid the brouhaha spawned by the almost P21 million 16 Ford Everest SUVs purchased by the provincial government without bid, members of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan should look how down-to-earth this BIR bigwig in terms of her riding life-style.
Ms. Cristine Cardona, the newly assigned Revenue District-4 chief of the BIR based in Calasiao, uses her issued lowly Innova Asian Utility Vehicle in going to work. But during Saturday and Sunday, you can see her riding in a public utility vehicle or jeep in going to the market and the church in Manaoag, Pangasinan.
She said she does not use her official car on those days because it is no longer an official working hour.
Cardona does not only supervise a premier tax office in Region 1 that has a tax goal of P1.5 billion this year from the 14 towns and two cities in Central Pangasinan.
She is also the wife of a three-term mayor in Ormoc.
She is the exact opposite of a former controversial boss of a Revenue District whose life style is an eye-sore to the people.

Lunes, Marso 14, 2011

It's the Airport, stupid!

Bevy of new financially empowered tourists - the Chinese Mainlanders.
by Mortz C. Ortigoza
When I was in Cebu City recently, I was amazed at a bevy of Chinese tourists queuing  at the lobby of the swanky Water Front Hotel & Casino as their buses kept unloading them even at the wee hours of the night.

That’s why I wondered why Chinese tourists were not on the top list of visitors at the Hundred Islands in Alaminos City. Instead, those that top there were Filipino expatriates (balikbayan), Americans, and Canadians.

“Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao said that last year there were 270 thousand Chinese tourists that visited our country. It is winter now in China, and Alaminos should have a piece of action on the number of these tourists,” I posed to Alaminos City Mayor Nani Braganza recently during the press conference he called with Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro.


LCP ‘storms’ Supreme Court

Members of the 122-strong League of City Mayors in the Philippines marched last March 9, 2011 to the Supreme Court after it flipped flopped on the city hood bids of the 16 towns in the country
by Mortz C. Ortigoza 
In the special general assembly of the 122-strong League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) held recently at the Century Park Sheraton Hotel in Manila, its secretary general Hernani Braganza (Mayor of Alaminos City) thundered before the hundreds of saber-rattling mayors and their supporters that the entry of the 16 towns to cityhood would gnaw at P3.7 billion of the yearly Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government.
“11,000 employees’ ang matatangal, housing, PhilHealth, kalsada, farm-to-market roads, proteksiyon sa kalikasan...” Braganza rabble roused.